Renewables Roundup

GE blows hot on Turkish wind-power

General Electric (GE) may resurrect a plan to manufacture wind turbines in Turkey, as the country seeks to increase its wind power capacity to 20,000 megawatts from less than 1,000mw by 2020.

Mete Maltepe, the head of GE's Turkish unit, told Bloomberg that the US energy products and services group wanted to generate "significant" business in Turkey's power sector as the country expanded its electricity infrastructure to accommodate economic growth, while reducing its carbon footprint.

GE shelved the turbine-manufacturing proposal when the global credit crisis hit in 2008. That forced Turkish wind-farm developers relying on export insurers for trade credit to import turbines and other generating equipment from abroad. The developers would be more likely to buy domestically as more loan facilities became available during the economic recovery, Mr Maltepe said.

But Ankara's proposed incentive payment to wind and hydroelectric power producers of 5.5 euro cents per kilowatt hour would need to be increased to at least 7.5 euro cents per kilowatt hour to justify investments in Turkish wind farms, he added.

The renewable energy subsidy plan is awaiting parliamentary approval. It also offers 10 euro cents per kilowatt hour to sola- power generators.

Currently, GE turbines, mostly the gas and steam varieties, account for about 30 per cent of total Turkish power generation capacity. GE also plans to invest in developing smart grids in Turkey.

After the jump: Saudi solar plans, "solar bees" and renewables cost projections.

Saudi solar plans simmer

Saudi Arabia is "considering a sizable capacity of solar energy generation", according to Khalid al Sulaiman, the vice president for renewable energy at the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy.

"That should lay the groundwork for the 2020 and 2030 goals,", Mr al Sulaiman said in a statement on the

, the state oil company. He was referring to Riyadh's economic development goals for the coming two decades.

"Solar energy has a promising future and an important role not only as a potential source of energy but also for the Saudi manufacturing industry," said Abdul al Wuhaib, Saudi Aramco's senior vice president of operations services. "Saudi Aramco is fundamentally interested in ensuring an optimum energy mix."

Mr al Wuhaib said Saudi Arabia had the sun, sand and land required for solar energy to thrive and that Aramco was evaluating solar energy "because of its abundance and unique fit for the kingdom".

Aramco has estimated Saudi Arabia's technical solar potential at 115,000 terawatt hours, or 4.5 times the world's projected power demand in 2020.

US "Solar bees" could cause a buzz in the Middle East

Here's a bright idea from the New Jersey that, at first glance, seems tailor made for the Middle East. It is a plan to use solar panels mounted on large portable mixers to combat the algal blooms that contaminate the surface of water reservoirs during long periods of hot, dry weather.

The "Solar bees" are being tested at the Canoe Brook reservoir at Short Hills, New Jersey, which had a big problem with algae during this year's unusually hot summer in the US Northeast.

"The challenges we faced this summer should, for the most part, be a thing of the past now that New Jersey American Water has implemented this new technology," said Anthony Matarazzo, the senior director of water quality and environmental compliance of the unit of American Water, an investor-owned utility. "The solar bees constantly circulate and improve the quality of the reservoir water."

Where are long period of hot, dry weather the rule, rather than the exception? Why, the sun-drenched MENA region, which has a growing need for new water-treatment technology.

Biofuel and solar power prices to drop

Advanced biofuels, which do not compete for land with food crops, as well as solar power, are becoming cheaper to produce and could become competitive with coventional fuels and electricity sources by 2020.

This prediction, contained in a new report from Boston Consulting Group, is especially good news for developing nations that are trying to add renewables to their energy mix while rolling back subsidies for conventional fuels.

The firm predicted that costs for solar thermal power generation, in which sunlight is concentrated onto a boiler to create steam to drive a turbine, could be cut in half over the next decade, falling to 10 US cents per kilowatt hour or lower.

"Technologies in some alternative energy sectors are approaching inflection points in their development and are on a path to becoming viable on a stand-alone basis, either completely decoupled from subsidy programmes or requiring much less assistance," said Balu Balagopal, Petros Paranikas and Justin Rose, the authors of the report.

The report also predicted that the costs of producing advanced biofuels might fall by 20 per cent each time production doubles, and that the price of biofuel feedstocks and enzymes for refining them might fall by 50 per cent.

Photovoltaic energy and onshore wind-power would be competitive in many markets by 2020, the report added.

Boston Consulting said installed solar thermal capacity worldwide could reach 185 gigawatts by 2030, rising from less than 1 gigawatt today.

The global output of advanced biofuels could increase 10-fold within the next five years from the current 480 million litres per year as industrial-scale plants were developed, the firm predicted.

The MENA region's response to that last projection is likely to be mixed, as several MENA states  are OPEC members with economies largely dependent on crude oil exports. Even some of these countries, however, have started examining biofuel potential as their domestic oil consumption rises.

The International Energy Agency has predicted that $5.7 trillion will be invested in renewable energy power projects over the next 25 years.

Pic via Caveman92223