ESB International announced it has entered an agreement with tidal energy company Marine Current Turbines to develop the initial phase of a 100-MW tidal energy hydropower project off the Antrim coast in Northern Ireland.

ESBI and MCT will work together to submit a proposal to the forthcoming Marine Leasing Round in Northern Ireland to secure an Agreement for Lease from The Crown Estate to commence formal consenting of the project. If successful, and subject to the achievement of consent, the initial phase of the project, which will use the MCT SeaGen device, could be in operation by 2018. The ESBI/MCT project will assist Northern Ireland in achieving its marine renewable energy targets as outlined in the Northern Ireland Department of Enterprise, Trade & Investment’s Strategic Action Plan, which calls for 300 MW of tidal energy by 2020.

SeaGen is the largest and most powerful tidal stream turbine in the world and the only one that is regularly generating electrcitiy for customers, having been accredited by OFGEM, the UK industry regulator, as an “official” power station, a press release states.

The 1.2-MW turbine has been operating in Northern Ireland’s Strangford Lough since April 2008 and recently achieved another operational milestone by delivering its 2 millionth kWh of power to the grid. Thanks to Strangford being an exceptionally energetic location, SeaGen regularly produces as much electricity as an average off-shore wind turbine of double the rated power. This power is already being sold by ESB’s retail electricity supply business, ESB Independent Energy, to customers in Northern Ireland.

ESBI is preparing an environmental scoping report on the project as an initial step in undertaking a full environmental impact assessment. In order to gain a thorough understanding of the tidal potential, ESBI has also undertaken tidal resource measurements off the Antrim coast over the summer months. This data is currently being analyzed, and it is planned to undertake further surveys in the coming months.

ESB Chief Executive Padraig McManus said ESB’s strategy to 2020 involves focusing on sustainable and renewable energies.

“We look forward to working with MCT on this exciting new project,” McManus said. “Our aim is to use our experience and technical strength to support the development of a viable ocean energy industry in Ireland, and this project is an important step in realizing that goal.”


Zambia is the world’s 7th largest producer of copper (3.3%) and 2nd largest producer of cobalt (19.7%). Its economy heavily relies on these two minerals, despite serious attempts to diversify the economy. Zambia also has zinc and lead. “Mining contributes $822m to total export.”Resource nationalism” of the 1970s, however, resulted in Zambia not opening any new mines in 25 years and 50% decline in copper production. Zambia thus typifies African mining: a vast array of mineral resources with potential wealth of opportunity for investors, mining organizations and Africans. How do you unlock this mineral wealth given inadequate infrastructure, perceptions of corruption and unfair licensing practices, & high capital costs of establishing or expanding a mining presence in a country with mounting development needs?

      Recent new ventures show the state’s policies are fostering change. Since 2008 crisis, Zambia’s “mining revival” has netted $5bn annually. All the mines under care and maintenance during the crisis have resumed operations. Mineral exploration companies include First Quantum Minerals (copper, uranium & nickel), BHP Billion (copper & gold); Era Power Infrastructure Ltd. (coal); Zambezi Resources (copper & gold); Konkola Deep Mining, a joint venture project by African Rainbow Minerals of South Africa and Vale of Brazil plus Vedanta Resources. Opportunities now exist in exploration activities for oil and gas.

     The main challenge in Zambia today is whether the industry can contribute to the socio-economic development of the country, to head-off “wind fall tax” and possible future changes in mining regulation. The recent surge in commodity prices places a particular burden on them to improve state revenue and uplift Zambians socially. The state’s promise (per the Mines and Minerals Act of 1995): secure title to mining rights, stability of the fiscal regime, foreign exchange retention, right to market mine products, right to assign, stability in environmental management, international arbitration, and freedom of commercial operation remains credible. FDI must transparently engage the state & host-communities to blunt support for these changes. Zambia’s EITI status should ensure disclosure of payments & received within the industry, improve collections, and enable the public to hold government accountable for the sharing of revenues.

Despite the economic, political, and other forces aligned against it, alternative energy development is proceeding in dozens of different sectors and regions. Scientists, private companies and investors cling to the vision that someday the world will fulfill its energy needs in ways that are less destructive and more sustainable than the current oil-based energy systems.

What has emerged is recognition that there will not be one large method to create this change. Instead, hundreds, if not thousands, of organizations are making smaller changes that they hope will total a major change in the world’s energy use.

In California and other rural areas of the U.S., for example, farmers are increasingly using farm waste to generate their own energy needs. Onfarms and ranches, innovative agriculturalists are developing renewable energy sources like natural gas, electricity and diesel fuel from their leftovers. Using everything from cow manure to onion juice to walnut shells, many of the state’s forward-thinking farmers are turning what had once been considered waste into a renewable energy solution for use on the farm and beyond.

California dairy producers are among those leading the charge in developing renewable energy on the farm. They’re doing this by installing methane digesters, a technology that allows them to capture the naturally occurring methane gas from their cows’ manure before it escapes into the atmosphere and convert that gas into usable energy such as electricity.

Meanwhile, many cities are using their collective power to convert the mountains of waste they process each year into useable energy. For example, the Canadian city of Edmonton, Alberta, has launched an innovative project to convert municipal waste into bio fuels.

The Edmonton Waste-to-Biofuels project will provide Edmonton the opportunity to reduce GHG emissions, create an environmentally responsible and competitive alternative to land filling, and produce clean biofuels. The project will enable the city to increase its residential waste diversion rate to 90%. It includes three facilities: a waste-to-biofuels production facility; an advanced energy research facility; a municipal waste processing facility.

In Britain, scientists say that much of the nation’s energy needs could be served by biofuels made from human waste such as wood, plastic and sewage. “Next generation” biofuels could be produced from agricultural wastes such as straw, as well as farmed energy crops such as willow. A network of waste converters across the country could produce a third of the diesel required by UK motorists while slashing greenhouse gas emissions.

However, some scientists continue to work on game-changing methods to create biofuel. At the University of Minnesota, research teams have created an alternative fuel that uses two types of bacteria to create hydrocarbons from sunlight and CO2. Those hydrocarbons can be made into renewable petroleum.

Chinese market for clean energy offers enormous business opportunities, say experts from Harvard China Forum on Saturday.

In a roundtable discussion on clean energy, Experts who have kept a watchful eye on the renewable energy sectors in China valued its market size, level of development and current challenges.

“Whether it’s wind, solar or any other form of capacity market for clean energy in China is enormous,” Peter Evans, GE Energy’s overall strategy and planning director said.

Evans said he believed China is the need to develop all types of energy to meet the growing desire for energy, especially in the context of high oil prices, which only grew by nearly $ 113 a barrel.

He also said that China is now the capital necessary to develop clean energy, but had no technique, although it would not be a problem because “not all energy-related clean, China wants to go get something.”

Gong Li, president of Accenture Greater China, said that for better development of renewable energy sectors in China, sustained political commitment is needed.

At present challenges, Li said a big problem is the lack of network to transform the raw energy into electricity. “Renewable energy like solar and wind are intermediate to be forwarded to the grid, otherwise it will waste energy, said Li.



A southern California University team has come up with what could be the alternative new breed of economical and flexible solar cells. For some decades now, organic photovoltaic cells (OPV) have been acclaimed as the new solar cell prototypes and extolled for their light weight, flexible substrates, low cost and easy manufacturability. Research is now being done on them.

Features of OPV cell:
The most unique aspect of the OPV cell devise is the transparent conductive electrode. This allows the light to react with the active materials inside and create the electricity. Now graphene/polymer sheets are used to create thick arrays of flexible OPV cells and they are used to convert solar radiation into electricity providing cheap solar power. 

New OPV design:

Now a research team under the guidance of Chongwu Zhou, Professor of Electrical Engineering, USC Viterbi School of Engineering has put forward the theory that the graphene – in its form as atom-thick carbon atom sheets and then attached to very flexible polymer sheets with thermo-plastic layer protection will be incorporated into the OPV cells. By chemical vapour deposition, quality graphene can now be produced in sufficient quantities also. 

Differences between silicon cells and graphene OPV cells:
The traditional silicon solar cells are more efficient as 14 watts of power will be generated from 1000 watts of sunlight where as only 1.3 watts of power can be generated from a graphene OPV cell. But these OPV cells more than compensate by having more advantages like physical flexibility and costing less.

More economical in the long run:

According to Gomez De Arco, a team member, it may be one day possible to run printing presses with these economically priced OPVs covering extensive areas very much like printing newspapers. In Gomez’ words – “They could be hung as curtains in homes or even made into fabric and be worn as power generating clothing…. imagine people powering their cellular phone or music/video device while jogging in the sun.”

Advantages of OPVs:
The flexibility of OPVs gives these cells additional advantage by being operational after repeated bending unlike the Indium-Tin-Oxide cells. Low cost, conductivity, stability, electrode/organic film compatibility, and easy availability along with flexibility give graphene OPV cell a decidedly added advantage over other solar cells.

The team:
The USC team, consisting of Chongwu Zhou, Cody W. Schlenker, Koungmin Rye, Mark E. Thompson, Yi Zhang and Gomez De Arco published a paper about their research in ACS Nano journal and are very much excited about the future potential advantages and uses that are possible with the OPV grapehne cells.

Renewable energy production and demand growth is gaining momentum in many ways across the world. There is a booming demand of wind power today and all wind energy equipment manufacturers are gearing up to meet the demand and take advantage of it. Wind power capacity growth will be reaching 447GW in the next five years and by year 2014 end, Asia will lead the world in installed wind capacity. Enercon is amongst the other manufacturers who are focusing on 3MV-class wind turbines based on E-82/2.0. Without increasing the component sizes, there are new designs to operate at 3MW power. There will be a 3-6% increased yield because of these innovative designs as claimed by the Enercon.

Class I and II wind sites:
The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has rated wind sites as Class I and II wind sites – IA and IIA sites. Various designs are being tested for low-wind speed inland sites as well as high-wind speed sites. E-82/2.3MW and E-82/3MW are for strong wind sites and E-1-1/3MW is for low-wind speed sites.

New designs at EWEC 2010:
The European Wind Energy Conference & Exhibition was held in Warsaw in Poland in April and REPower Systems AG presented two new improvements on their 3.XM series for sites with low-wind speed. 3.2M114 and 3.410 are optimal for less windy spots and 3.4104 on a 93 meter tower was specifically done for UK market as well special designs for Canada too.

Onshore wind turbines:
Large onshore wind turbines are now the forte of Alstom Wind. Easy maintenance and markedly ergonomically viable design make ECO 110 – their flagship – a successful larger scale rotor wind turbine.

New machines on display:
The EWEC 2010 showcased quite a few new designs and Gamesa and Siemens Energyare two of the companies putting up their G128-4.5 MW platform and wind turbine, and SWT-3.0-101 Direct Drive wind turbine respectively. Nordex SE has displayed N80, N90, and N100 wind turbines. Compact designs and superior specifications make these wind turbines remarkably efficient and noteworthy. They will increase the profitability with an assurance of quality and reliability.

Measures to improve energy output:
There are growing demands for more versatile machines which can be relied upon, durable and at the same time economical both while working with trouble-free maintenance. The people who invest in wind power want reliable and accurate data collection which can be reviewed easily. Today all the major wind power machine manufacturing companies are vying with each other to provide detailed and instant knowledge about wind and weather forecasting to improve energy output.

Future of Wind power:
Future of wind power is bright and shining as detailed studies by EWEA have already shown that power generation from wind energy is most economical. The consumers are reaping good benefits financially from wind power. There is no doubt”That wind is already directly curbing European electricity prices is perhaps less obvious, and all the more significant for it.”


With rapid industrialization, the world has seen the development of a number of items or units, which generate heat. Until now this heat has often been treated as a waste, making people wonder if this enormous heat being generated can be transformed into a source of electric power. Now, with the physicists at the University of Arizona finding new ways to harvest energy through heat, this dream is actually going to become a reality. 

University of Arizona Research Team: The research team is headed by Charles Staffor. He is the associate professor of physics, and he along with his team worked on harvesting energy from waste. The team’s findings were published in the September 2010 issue of the scientific journal, ACS Nano.

Justin Bergfield who is an author and a doctoral candidate in the UA College of Optical Sciences shares his opinion, “Thermoelectricity can convert heat directly into electric energy in a device with no moving parts. Our colleagues in the field tell us that they are confident that the device we have designed on the computer can be built with the characteristics that we see in our simulations.”

 Spiking a conventional thermoelectric material with sodium and selenium creates regions in the crystal that conduct electricity more readily (blue and gold), boosting the material’s performance.

Advantages: Elimination of Ozone Depleting materials: Using the waste heat as a form of electric power has multiple advantages. Whereas on one hand, using the theoretical model of molecular thermoelectric helps in increasing the efficiency of cars, power plants factories and solar panels, on the other hand efficient thermoelectric materials make ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, outdated. 

More Efficient Design: The head of the research team Charles Stafford is hopeful about positive results because he expects that the thermoelectric voltage using their design will be 100 times more than what others have achieved. If the design of the team, which they have made on a computer does work, it will be a dream come true for all those engineers, who wanted to catch and make use of energy lost through waste but do not have the required efficient and economical devices to do so.

No need for Mechanics: The heat-conversion device invented by Bergfield and Stafford do not require any kind of machines or ozone-depleting chemicals, as was the case with refrigerators and steam turbines, which were earlier used to convert waste into electric energy. Now, the same work is done by sandwiching a rubber-like polymer between two metals, which acts like an electrode. The thermoelectric devices are self-contained, need no moving parts and are easy to manufacture and maintain. 

Utilization Of Waste Energy: Energy is harvested in many ways using the car and factory waste. Car and factory waste can be used for generating electricity by coating exhaust pipes with a thin material, which is a millionth time of an inch. Physicists also take advantage of the law of quantum physics, which though not used often enough, gives great results when it comes to generating power from the waste.  

Advantage Over Solar Energy:

Molecular thermoelectric devices may help in harvesting energy from the sun and reduce the dependence on photovoltic cells, whose efficiency in harvesting solar energy is going down.

How It Works

Though having worked on the molecule and thinking about using them for a thermoelectric device, Bergfield and Stafford had not found anything special till an undergraduate discovered that these molecules had special features. A large number of molecules were then sandwiched between electrodes and exposed to a stimulated heat source. The flow of electrons along the molecule was split in two once it encounters a benzene ring, with one flow of electrons following along each arm of the ring.

The benzene ring circuit was designed in such a way that the electron travels longer distance round the rings in one path, which causes the two electrons to be out of phase when they reach the other side of the benzene ring. The waves cancel out each-other on meeting. The interruption caused in the flow of electric charge due to varied temperature builds up voltage between electrodes.

The effects seen on molecules are not unique because any quantum scale device having cancellation of electric charge will show a similar effect if there is a temperature difference. With the increase in temperature difference, energy generated also increases.

Thermoelectric devices designed by Bergfield and Stafford can generate power that can lit a 100 Watt bulb or increase car’s efficiency by 25%.