Sustainable Hydropower: A New Flow of Ideas

October, 2011
The Great Energy Challenge , National Geographic
What can be done to diversify our clean energy technology options?  In recent years we have seen a number of seemingly  “old” technologies undergo a reassessment, and a reinvention.  Geothermal power, once assessed as “an excellent source of baseload energy, but likely limited in commercially exploitable capacity” has undergone a renaissance.

Here’s the new view in the latest IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources:

In 2008, global geothermal energy use represented only about 0.1 percent of the global primary energy supply. However, by 2050, geothermal could meet roughly 3 percent of the global electricity demand and 5 percent of the global demand for heating and cooling.

That dramatic expansion of scope – a factor of 15 on a global scale – is a function of new technology options and forecasts for higher fossil fuel prices. But it is only one example.

Another technology undergoing a dramatic expansion of options is that of hydropower.  Conventional dams, large and small, use either a natural, or more commonly, an artificial “head” or drop to harness energy.

New Seminar series:

Date: 
Friday, October 21, 2011 - 2:30pm - 4:00pm

Location: Lower level Blum Center Meeting Room

Berkeley Rural Energy Group's Seminar:

Speaker:  Jacob Winiecki from SIMPA Networks will be presenting on their design and implementation their novel technology,  solar systems that use pre-paid energy meters that use cell networks to electronically transfer payments.

Learn more about BREG at their RAEL project site.

Berkeley Rural Energy Group (BREG)

BREG has expanded to it's own full site! 

Visit breg.berkeley.edu for up-to-date information on BREG projects, members and activity.

Innovators that could light up Africa

September, 2011
Development in a Changing Climate Blog
Everyone talks about the crisis of energy access – the 2.7 billion people who use wood and other solid fuels, and the 1.5 billion without access to electricity – but who is doing something about it?

At the African Energy Ministerial Meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, today, both high-level planning and on-the-ground energy projects were visible, and truly inspiring. In a five hour Green Household Energy Solutions Expo that I had the true pleasure to chair, the Minister of Economic Development for South Africa, Mr. Ebrahim Patel, kicked off the discussion by saying that South Africa was committed to growing nation’s clean energy generation capacity for both domestic use and for export and in the process create green jobs.

The meeting marks a key chance for integration and coordination as the last regional ministerial meeting before the COP17 Climate Conference in Durban, South Africa in December of this year. The room was packed, with over 15 ministers in attendance, and the discussion turned to the benefits of regional integration of transmission systems, building wind, geothermal, and large-scale solar energy projects.

However, the focus and the stars of the meeting were the innovators at the household and local community level who showed the possibilities that exist with a range of new approaches – some technological but many managerial and social as well.

An Interview with Dan Kammen on Climate Spectator

September, 2011
Climate Spectator
It all sounds a little utopian and improbable, but Dan Kammen, the chief technical specialist for renewable energy and energy efficiency for the World Bank, says island and remote communities, particularly in developing countries, are proving to be excellent testing grounds on how to achieve 100 per cent clean energy outcomes. The high price of fossil fuels in these countries allows the technology to be available sooner, and many have no other options.

“Getting to 10 and 20 per cent renewables has proved very doable, but how do you get to 80, 90, 100 per cent where you’ve really got to deal with integration issues? And what we’re seeing in many island communities, and also many isolated non islands that look like islands from a power perspective, is that good management of the system, integrating efficiency and renewables, finding ways to back up your clean generation; those lessons translate to countries rich and poor around the world.”

Here's what else Kammen had to say in an interview with Climate Spectator while in Australia for the Ecogen 2011 conference and for some work with the Climate Commission:

read the whole interview here