05/21/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 05/21/2019 04:49
May 21, 2019
The renewable energy experts gathered in Houston this week may feel they've got the wind at their backs - as well as blowing through their turbines. Just in time for the American Wind Energy Association's annual Windpower conference in the Lone Star state, the U.S. Energy Information Administration projected that wind will become the nation's No. 1 source of renewable energy this year. Those gathered in Texas, including reps from GE, know firsthand the potential of a strong breeze to stir up the energy mix. This week, for example, GE Renewable Energy announced that it's received orders for 728 onshore wind turbines in 2019 in North America - enough to power 800,000 U.S. homes. Last year the GE unit supplied 3 gigawatts of capacity in the U.S. - 40% of all land-based turbines installed in the country in 2018 - and became the top American wind turbine manufacturer.
High on a mountain: It's not just on this continent that wind enthusiasts have cause to celebrate. GE Renewable Energy also recently completed its first-ever wind project in Greece, where planners had to grapple with the rocky local geography. Installing the Fokida wind farm along the mountainous coast of the Gulf of Corinth, they split the project up into three parts: Three turbines went in at sea level; six were installed higher up, at about 500 meters; and three more were placed painstakingly atop the mountain, their long turbines transported up the hairpin curves of winding mountain roads. The efforts should pay off handsomely - if all goes to plan, in a decade, more than half the electricity Greece consumes should come from renewable sources.
Uruguay is already an international poster child for low-carbon energy: More than half the country's electricity is generated by four hydroelectric dams on the River Uruguay, with most of the remainder from renewable sources like solar and wind. There's one remaining sticking point, though, the missing piece to the fully renewable picture: storage. Solar and wind installations can produce energy only when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing, and the country's hydropower can fluctuate, too, depending on rainfall. If only there were a way to save up some of that juice for later …
Chasing waterfalls: The answer, it turns out, is more water - namely, a technology called hydro storage, essentially a huge, continuously rechargeable battery powered by the elements. In Uruguay, the grid operator can use some of the cheap energy produced during the day, when the sun is shining and demand is low, to power turbines that pump water uphill - from a low reservoir to a high one. At sunset, when power demand picks up but solar generation drops, the operator can unleash that water to flow downhill through turbines, producing power for the grid. 'It's not a new technology,' said Bill Armstrong, regional leader for GE's Hydro Solutions in Europe, Middle East and Africa. 'But the need for it is increasing now that two-thirds of the world's future energy mix will come from renewables.'
Armstrong was talking the tech up last week at the World Hydropower Congress in Paris, where hydro storage was a hot topic of discussion - about which GE had a lot to say. The company's pump turbine technology is present in 30% of the world's hydro storage plants either in operation or under construction, and someday soon it might help Uruguay achieve the gold standard of carbon emissions scores: a big, fat zero. Read more here.
Imagine assembling 30,000 separate parts into a single machine in a little less than a lunar cycle, and you've got an idea of the challenge facing Subaru. At its North America plant in Lafayette, Indiana, the Japanese carmaker has given itself 24 days - about half the industry standard - to put together and deliver new orders for the Subaru Legacy. Though customers still buy plenty of cars off the lot, they're increasingly drawn to customizable cars that are built to order - say, with automatic reverse braking, or illuminated footwells. While many carmakers are looking to custom orders as a way to goose sales, none in the U.S. are filling those orders quite as fast as Subaru, which has got a secret weapon in its (serpentine) belt: GE's iFIX industrial automation software.
Greased lightning: The Lafayette plant uses iFIX to manage nearly every part of its operations, which include more than 17 miles of conveyor belts and some 1,600 robots that assemble the vehicles. The iFIX software, for instance, keeps track of sensors on each of the 1,400 factor motors that guide car bodies through the 1.7-million-square-foot paint shop, and can alert plant operators to little problems before they become big problems - sparing Subaru costly downtime or mistakes down the line. iFIX also collects data over time and helps plant managers crunch the numbers and constantly look for ways to improve assembly.
1. Rideshare Rides Air
The German company Lilium promises a 'fully operational flying taxi service in multiple cities by 2025' - and has just released a video of a five-seat prototype of its air taxi, which can take off and land vertically and reach speeds up to 186 mph.
2. Respect Your Alders (And Cypresses)
In North Carolina, a geoscience professor has discovered one of the oldest known living trees in the world: a bald cypress that is 2,624 years young. The tree's rings should provide valuable insight into historic climate patterns.
3. Stop The Bleeding
A team of researchers in China has created a new hydrogel that can quickly stop the bleeding from a punctured artery - a kind of 'glue' that can be used in emergency situations.
Read more about this week's Coolest Things on Earth here.
- QUOTE OF THE DAY -
'This is a time of unprecedented growth and demand for the onshore wind industry in the U.S.'
- Vikas Anand, Onshore Americas CEO for GE Renewable Energy
Quote: GE Reports. Image: GE Renewable Energy.
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