Renewable optimism, emissions gloom

Jason Ford

News Editor

One wonders whether Briefing should be re-named Agent Provocateur, given the red flag of renewable-energy optimism that is about to be waved in front of you.

A report is expected today from a European-wide think tank that will provide an analysis on the progress made toward powering Europe and North Africa with 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2050.

The consortium, which includes PricewaterhouseCoopers, is expected to reveal that renewable electricity generation capacity grew by 30 per cent in Europe in 2010 but further progress may depend on reform of the EU infrastructure planning and permits regime, on a democratic outcome to political unrest in the Middle East, or on efforts to increase the competitiveness of power markets for the benefit of European consumers.

This report comes on the day that the International Energy Agency (IEA) issued stark estimates regarding world CO2 emissions in relation to limiting global temperature rise to 2oC by 2020.

In a statement, the IEA estimates that emissions from energy sources climbed to 30.6 Gigatonnes (Gt) in 2010, a five per cent rise from 2008, when levels are said to have reached a record 29.3Gt. Emissions of CO2 from fuel sources stood at 44 per cent from coal; 36 per cent from oil; and 20 per cent from natural gas.

Furthermore, the IEA says that 80 per cent of projected emissions from the power sector in 2020 are already locked in, as they will come from power plants currently in place or under construction.

IEA believes limiting global temperature rise to 2oC, as agreed at UN climate change talks in Cancun last year, will require the long-term concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to be limited to around 450 parts per million of CO2-equivalent, a five per cent increase compared to an estimated 430 parts per million in 2000.

Still with renewable energy and news that Judith Farman, an electrical systems engineer with Dresser-Rand, is to give a talk tomorrow entitled ‘Advances in Wave-Power Technology’.

Taking place at The Adelaide in Teddington, Farman will take a two-pronged approach to the discussion, talking first about wave energy mathematical models, the difficulties in capturing wave energy and the myriad of installed and prototype equipment in the field. 

Farman will then take attendees through Dresser-Rand’s HydroAir, a variable radius turbine used on oscillating water column power plants.

HydroAir is claimed to offer a higher efficiency and a wider range of operation than other OWC turbines such as the Wells turbine.

According to Dresser-Rand, incoming surface waves induce an oscillating flow of air within a chamber which flows back and forth through an air turbine installed in a duct connecting the chamber to the atmosphere. The turbine then converts this air movement into electrical energy. Click here to read more.

Still with power generation, this time with the diesel engine and a talk entitled ‘The Challenges for Applying Advanced Diesel Engine Technology in the Global Commercial Vehicle Market’.

Delivered by Dr Richard E Kleine, the SAE International Technical Exchange Lecture at Ricardo’s Shoreham Technical Centre will look at how regulations are necessitating the application of new technology to achieve more stringent emissions standards.

According to the event’s blurb, total systems engineering focus is required to ensure the design and development of reliable products – given their complexity – and the challenges presented in optimizing engine systems for the machines and vehicles in which they are used.

The application of more complex systems is resulting in challenges not only for the engineer but for the mechanic maintaining and the repair technician to diagnose and fix problems.

Similarly, more complex systems may require specific fuels and lubricants specifications that when not available can have significant consequences to the machine/vehicle operation and reliability.

The event’s publicity material goes on to state that the need for more detailed processes to ensure the delivery of good performance, reliable and safe products will be discussed and an approach to total systems integration will be presented.