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Monday, February 16, 2015

A spoonful of sunshine makes the demand for coal go down

The University of Minnesota Solar Energy Laboratory develops technology using concentrated solar radiation for fuel and chemical production. It provided the inspiration for this article.

"In traditional biomass gasification, 20 to 30 percent of the biomass feedstock is burned to produce heat for the process. But if the required thermal energy is supplied from a concentrated solar source, all of the biomass can be converted into useful synthesis gas." (Read more...)

Burning any carbon-containing hydrocarbon or carbohydrate fuel - whether it is biomass or coal - uses some energy to break the chemical bonds that bind the atoms together in the molecules of the fuel and then releases some energy when those atoms combine with oxygen to produce carbon dioxide and water vapour.

Solar gasification of biomass: design and characterization of a molten salt gasification reactor

by Hathaway, Brandon Jay (2013)
A former doctoral student, Brandon Hathaway is now the lead research scientist at the University of Minnesota Solar Energy Laboratory.
"The reactor developed in this work allows for 3 kWth operation with an average aperture flux of 1530 suns at salt temperatures of 1200 K with pneumatic injection of ground or powdered dry biomass feedstocks directly into the salt melt." (Read more...)
Link to Dr Hathaway on Twitter

Here is a diagram that represents the energy used and released by burning brown coal mined in the Gippsland Basin coal fields  of Victoria, Australia:

Burning hydrocarbons and carbohydrates - energy used and released

What the diagram represents is that 1 kilogram (2.2 lbs) of brown coal is decomposed into carbon monoxide and hydrogen by absorbing 5.54 megajoules of heat energy. 

The resulting carbon monoxide and hydrogen then releases 14.14 megajoules of heat energy when it combines with oxygen to produce carbon dioxide and water vapour.

The net heat energy available from burning this kilogram of brown coal is the difference between these two energy flows: 14.14 - 5.54 = 8.60 megajoules of heat energy.

Burning a kilogram of brown coal in a coal-fired power station allows a proportion of this 8.60 megajoules of heat energy to be converted to electricity.  Typically only about 40 percent is delivered as electricity: around 0.96 kilowatt-hours.

A different way of converting brown coal to electricity enables a far greater amount of electricity to be produced from each kilogram:
  • First each kilogram of brown coal is decomposed into carbon monoxide and hydrogen by absorbing 5.54 megajoules of concentrated solar thermal energy.  
  • Second, the resulting carbon monoxide and hydrogen releases 14.14 megajoules of heat energy when it combines with oxygen to produce carbon dioxide and water vapour in a gas power plant. Typically about 60 percent is delivered as electricity: around 2.36 kilowatt-hours.

The coal needed to produce 0.96 kilowatt-hours of electricity is reduced from 1 kilogram (2.2 lbs) to just 405 grams (14.3 ozs).

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Mega-power plant planned

Raras Cahyafitri, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Headlines | Fri, November 07 2014

Indonesia will build a 5,000-megawatt power plant in Cilacap, Central Java, as part of the new government’s ambitious program to have at least an additional 35,000 MW of power within five years.

Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Indroyono Soesilo said Thursday that development of the first stage of the huge power plant complex, which would be among the largest in the world, was expected to begin next year so that it could begin commercial operation by 2018. 

“In the first stage, the power generation capacity will reach 2,000 MW,” he said after a coordinating meeting with relevant institutions at the office of the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry. Indroyono said the entire power plant project, which will have five generation units each with 1,000-MW capacity, was expected to be completed within seven years.
Adaro Energy is planning to expand its power generation business to tap Indonesia's growing demand for electricity.
Adaro Energy is planning to expand its power generation business
to tap Indonesia's growing demand for electricity.

Faced with falling demand for coal, producers build inefficient coal power stations

The minister said the power plant complex would be built by PT Jawa Energy and backed by Chinese investors.

If it is realized, the new power plant will be the largest in Indonesia. The coal-fired Paiton power plant in Probolinggo, East Java, which at present produces about 2,000 MW of electricity, is the country’s largest. The Paiton power plant was initially designed to have a total capacity of more than 4,000 MW. 

Taiwan’s Taichung is the largest coal-fired power plant in the world, with a capacity of 5,500 MW. 

Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Sudirman Said explained that the 5,000-MW power plant would use an ultra-super critical boiler technology that would be able to reduce the harmful emissions resulting from coal usage.

“The power produced will first be directed to an industrial zone in the area and the remainder will be bought by PLN,” Sudirman said.

The power plant plan was made several years ago but it could not be realized due to licensing and land-acquisition problems.

New power plant complex will be built in two stages

  • First stage of development will begin next year
  • Commercial production is expected to begin by 2018
The complex will need a plot of about 120 hectares in Cilacap. Around 70 hectares would be obtained from the Army’s properties, said Cilacap regent Tatto Suwarto Pamuji. Meanwhile, another 20 hectares was owned by the local administration and the remainder belonged to local citizens in one village.

“Everything is ready. We only lack the location license. However, the coordinating minister said during this morning’s meeting that the license would be followed up,” Tatto said.

With the government’s support, construction of the coal-fired power plant was expected to kick off next year, according to Tatto. 

The government had also settled the mechanism to use the Army’s land for the power plant complex, Indroyono said. 

“As the land belongs to the Army, it means it also belongs to the state. Therefore, the state will pass the title to PLN [the state electricity company]. PLN will then rent the land to the power plant investors.

In a short time, we will discuss the matter with the Finance Ministry,” Indroyono said, adding that the Army chief of staff was also present at the meeting and had agreed to the plan.

Land acquisition has long been a problem for many planned power plant projects in Indonesia. The significant 2,000-MW Japan-sponsored Batang power plant, also in Central Java, has been delayed for years because of a lack of land as local residents have opposed the project.

As of the end of July, the country had 51,980 MW total installed capacity. Given demand growth of about 7 percent per year, the country needs to add 5,700 MW new capacity a year or face a power crisis.

As a number of power plant projects have been delayed, mostly because of land-acquisition problems, Java and Bali are expected to face a power crisis as early as 2016.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla said earlier that the current government expected to add 35,000 MW capacity within its five years in office.

PLN president director Nur Pamudji said earlier that the 35,000-MW power plants would come from ongoing and new projects. He said about 15,000 MW would be supplied by PLN’s power plants and the other 20,000 MW by independent power producers (IPPs).

Monday, February 9, 2015

Electric Shock

NT News, 9 Feb 2015, by Maria Billias

Nightcliff Fitness Works gym owner Seann Scheppard says his power costs have shot up in the past quarter
Nightcliff Fitness Works gym owner Seann Scheppard 
says his power costs have shot up in the past quarter
Territorians hit out at power price hikes with many outraged bills have doubled over last quarter.

TERRITORIANS have hit out at the latest power and water price hikes, with some residents claiming their bills have more than doubled in the past quarter. 

One business owner told the NT News his electricity costs had gone from $9,000 to $15,000 per quarter. Jacana Energy has laid the blame on increased energy consumption over the festive period, but the bills also incor- porate the 5 per cent price hike introduced on January 1. 

Fitness Works owner Seann Scheppard said he had no option but to absorb the costs as a loss so fees were not passed on to members. The gym’s electricity costs have shot up from $2000 to $5000 a month in the past few months. 

“We don’t pass the costs on so we are losing money – it’s a lose-lose situation,” Mr Scheppard said. “You think you are doing OK ... and then you get a bill. It’s quite stressful.” This is the third increase since the NT Government announced the three-year rollout of power price rises in 2012. 

Chief Minister Adam Giles was forced to stagger the fee increases after public outrage at his predecessor Terry Mills’ attempt to slap an outright 30 per cent jump in 2012. But furious Territorians left about 200 acid comments on a public Facebook page when the latest bills rolled in. 

Jen Minotto posted: “Our last one was $476, the one I received the other day was $1078, I’m so angry.” Vicki Price said: “Yep our last bill with 8 weeks of visitors was $1200, this bill is $1600. “I think it’s time to move home, living in the NT is just too expensive.” 

The Power and Water Corporation was split into electricity generation and retail companies on July 1, 2014. Electricity bills now come from Jacana Energy. Jacana Energy boss Stuart Pearce said energy consumption in the Top End was higher in the Wet. “There are many reasons why bills can be a bit higher at this time of year following the build-up or the festive season and each little addition to energy consumption adds up,” Mr Pearce said. “The Territory is one of the highest users of electricity, but enjoy one of the lowest rates in the country.”