Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Global Excellence Project of the Year Award Winners

The 2013 Global Excellence Project of the Year awardees were selected by the editors at Renewable Energy World and Power Engineering. These project winners were selected based on having made a significant impact on the entire renewable energy industry in terms of the technology that was employed, as well as their industry and community impact. The winners displayed excellence in five renewable energy technologies: Solar, Wind, Biomass, Geothermal and Hydro.


Premier Solar Systems brought electricity to 57 remote villages in Andhra Pradesh in southern India, with solar energy. Premier Solar plans to electrify another 20 villages in Adilabad and 19 in Khamman.

Solar-Agro-Electric Model was acknowledged as the runner-up and readers' choice. They put together a solar project in Gujarat, India, that provided both electricity and agricultural benefits. The panels produce electricity for the villagers, but also provide necessary shade and security for the growing crops below. The panels are washed often for increased efficiency, and the crops are watered simultaneously. Post-harvest residues are replaced under the panels for improved fertilization. The project has provided agricultural work for 100 villagers, and the crops are sold at local markets and also distributed among the workers.


Xiangjiaba Hydroelectric Power Plant in China is located on the Jinsha River between the Yunnan and Sichuan Provinces. By 2015 the plant is expected to provide 6,400 MW annually to 40 million people in the ever-growing eastern provinces. The system utilizes the highest-output air-cooled hydro generator units. Custom ventilation and cooling components were adapted to prevent energy losses, and Alstom developed and patented double-layer thrust bearing pads to ensure reliability and maintain normal pressure distribution.

North Fork Skokomish Powerhouse and Fish Passage Facility in Washington was the runner-up. This project provides clean energy alongside innovative protection of the fragile fish habitat of the Skokomish River. In addition to providing 3.6-MW of electricity the fish collection and passage system protects endangered steelhead and salmon.


McGinness Hills Geothermal Power Plant by ORMAT is located in Nevada. Not only was the project located amidst protected wildlife, it was also notable for the difficulties associated with its lack of surface hot springs and fumaroles. The 30-MW project located in Nevada uses a mix of conventional and innovative exploration techniques and tests, which included soil mercury geochemistry, geologic mapping, gravity survey, 3-D GIS modeling, slim hole drilling, and well testing. This data was compiled into reservoir modeling technology, partially funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Developers took special care not to disrupt the fragile sage grouse habitat – a bird local to that area of Nevada. Efforts included minimizing noise impact, continued monitoring or impact analysis, construction noise limitations to not disrupt mating season, and underground piping to reduce land impact. ORMAT has also donated more than $200,000 to local educational institutions to contribute to the development of the geothermal workforce, while also establishing hundreds of jobs at its power plants across the state.


Bison Wind Project is a North Dakota based project that is part of Minnesota Power's goal of transitioning away from coal. The 292 MW of power are transmitted using re-purposed transmission line built in the late 1970’s to transport electricity generated by coal. The project has an energy storage arrangement with Manitoba Hydro. When wind resources are high or demand is low, Bison wind energy can be stored in hydroelectric reserves in Canada and then utilized when necessary. The project's 42-44 percent average capacity betters the national average of 34 percent due in part to its use of “dino tail” blade technology patented by Siemens. The spiked blades are more efficient and quieter than typical turbines. The project has boosted the local economy, bringing 280 jobs during its 3-year construction and 23 full-time permanent positions.

Marble River Wind Farm was the runner-up. The 216-MW Marble River Wind Farm is the first project in North America to utilize the environmentally responsive V-112 3-MW wind turbine. The Marble River Wind Farm was able to minimize impact on local wetlands while generating revenue for 150 separate leaseholders including the towns of Ellenburg and Clinton, New York.


Sacramento "zero-waste" BioDigester developed by the city of Sacramento, California is the largest biodigester in the U.S. The biodigester facility processes 10,000 tons of food and agricultural waste per year that would have otherwise been thrown in a landfill. It also generated 2 MW of energy in the forms of heat, electricity and gas. Remnants from waste are used as fertilizer. The BioDigestor is now scaling up to process 40,000 tones of waste per year. The project is the brainchild of Dr. Ruihong Zhang of the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), the California Energy Commission, CleanWorld and several California businesses and establishments. The facility supports 16 green jobs and more than $10 million in economic activity. The CleanWorld biodigester manufacturing facility also hosts 12 permanent positions in the Marysville community.

Gainesville Renewable Energy Center in Gainesville, Florida, was the runner-up. The 100-MW Gainesville Renewable Energy Center (GREC) biomass facility uses boiler and turbine technology that reduces emissions and meets stringent Maximum Available Control (MACT) standards. Its 930,000-pound per hour bubbling fluidized bed boiler (BFB) supplied by Metso and a 116.1-MW Siemens turbine provide low-combustion and low-excess air, which results in minimal emissions. GREC uses waste wood from sustainable sources such as forestry and sawmill operations, urban wood waste and storm debris. Addressing sustainability concerns, GREC abides by strict forest sustainability rules that are designed for long-term forest health and productivity.

© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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