Quarta-feira, 27 de Maio de 2009

Kilohertz of energy

António Neves da Silva | C13

 

Dalkia

Wakefield | United Kingdom

 

 

Kilohertz is not a unit of energy it’s a unit of frequency. It’s the frequency we’ve been hearing the word energy everyday. Megahertz is the frequency the word crisis comes up and Gigahertz is the frequency we hear nonsense, many times related with energy and crisis.

Don’t believe the truth! It’s necessary to be critical about what we read, what we hear and what we buy. Now in Portugal there’s a polemical issue that we can read on the news regarding certain thermodynamic panels that work also during the night and they have been advertised as solar panels. It seems nonsense! The panels effectively also work during the night but definitely not on solar energy, unless we want to consider wind and wave energy as solar energy as well, just because they derived from the sun. And tide energy? Is it solar energy? For that we need to thank the sun, the moon and the earth’s gravitational force. Anyway, there is a big investment of the Portuguese government in solar thermal energy. Since March this year, people can acquire solar thermal systems for heating water and central heating that are financed up to more than 50%. This seems like a positive step forward and considering a household of 4-5 people, the payback of the investment can go to 3 to 4 years. This appears to be a great achievement for the government and might be great deal for the customers, considering that the equipment can be used for approximately 20 years.

While in Portugal we have been talking more about renewable energies, in the UK we’ve been hearing more about new coal plants in the country. Ed Miliband, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change said that Britain planned to lead the world in clean coal technology. He also announced that the new coal plants can only be built if they capture 100% of greenhouse gases by 2025. The idea is to collect carbon emissions from the coal power stations and transport them out to sea, where they will be buried in redundant oil and gas fields. CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) can also be done through other technologies and mechanisms, but these solutions are not cheap, haven’t been proved to be reliable and will certainly increase the cost of energy.

 

 

 

 

Centralised or decentralised energy production?

Portugal and United Kingdom are betting on both. Regarding centralised power, both countries have been growing on wind power capacity. UK became the world leader in offshore power generation in 2008 and Portugal increased its electricity generation from wind in 42% over the last year.

In Portugal we hear more about the Government planning to build new biomass plants for centralised power generation, while here in the UK we also hear about building more biomass plants for decentralised energy production. These are called CHP (Combined Heat & Power) plants or cogeneration plants. The advantage is that the heat emitted by the generation of electricity can be used either for district heating or for industrial processes involving steam and hot water.

In the UK there is a big heat requirement for residential buildings and we can see large CHP plants associated with them, while in Portugal large CHP plants normally exist in industrial facilities and Hospitals. Recently due to micro-generation legislation in Portugal it is profitable to have micro-cogeneration (MCHP) plants where there’s a constant heat demand, because electrical energy can be sold to the grid at attractive prices. These MCHP plants are used in smaller industrial facilities and also in small hospitals and healthcare centres.

There is also an interesting project that both countries worked together, called Pelamis. The first commercial scale wave power generation park in the world was develop by a British company and installed in the Atlantic coast of Portugal.  

Since the biggest percentage of renewable power comes from Hydro energy, an idea of a dam over the English Channel (La Manche) has certainly been on the minds of many people. The Channel is 33 kilometers in its narrowest section (the Strait of Dover).  The potential capacity of power generation is enormous and since they have been developing technologies to keep fish away from the turbines there’s a bigger possibility this idea is considered more seriously in the future. Similar to wind farms, tidal turbine towers can be placed in the bottom of a river or of the sea and the environmental impact could be diminished by avoiding the construction of a dam.

Conclusion

It seems, as far as thermal energy, UK and Portugal can continue to invest on the same solutions for the Industrial sector, like CHP plants, but for the residential, solar thermal is a decentralised solution that fits Portugal better and district heating is a decentralised solution more adequate for the UK.  

Concerning power, both countries still look more into centralised solutions for the future, like coal, gas, oil, hydro, wave energy, tidal energy, biomass and nuclear.

 

www.agencialusa.com.br

www.construir.pt

www.dalkia.co.uk

www.dgge.pt

www.energiasrenovaveis.com

www.wikipedia.com

 

Sources
publicado por visaocontacto às 17:00
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