14 June 2008

Hybrid California Power Plant 24 h Renewable

Two new hybrid power plants are to be built near Coalinga, California, to provide roughly 106 MW of renewable power 24 hours to an energy starved US state. It will be powered by the sun in the daylight, and by bio-gas powered steam at night.
The two planned solar thermal-biomass hybrid power plants - the first of their kind - will be managed by Martifer subsidiary San Joaquin Solar LLC and will provide enough power for nearly 75,000 homes in northern and central California. They combine solar thermal technology with steam turbines powered by gas made from locally available biomass (agricultural waste and livestock manure.)

When the sun is shining during peak hours, it will just be the solar facility. As the sun sets, biomass will be available to support the solar generation, and then at night the biomass will run purely on its own. - Andrew Byrnes, project developer __Biopact
This use of bioenergy as an after-hours backup power source for solar power plants is quite logical. Biomass and biofuels are simply another form of solar energy, containing their own built-in storage.

This is only one small step toward moving power generation back into the golden state from neighboring states that are less fastidious. Most of the new energy plants in California over the past 20 years are of an intermittent, non-baseload nature--solar and wind. That means that during long spells of energy shortages, one could not always count on California utilities to reliably provide needed service. As more ingenious ways of using bioenergy come online, expect it to find more of a place across North America--even in California.

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Blogger Bruce Hall said...


Won't that go against certain political efforts to prevent the burning of anything that releases CO2? Better to bury the biomass under a mountain than release CO2.

More seriously, California is in an envious position, geographically, to take advantage of vast tracts of hot geothermal areas to create electricity. Why bother with solar and biomass?

Sunday, 15 June, 2008  
Blogger al fin said...

Geothermal is a great prospect, as you point out here and on your blog, Bruce.

The problem is that right now geothermal is competing for drilling resources worldwide with oil drilling. The great "manpower and equipment shortage" that people have been talking about is the real problem in the energy sector, besides the shortage of good government and human ingenuity.

Sunday, 15 June, 2008  

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