RENEWABLE ENERGY: A PROMISE AND A BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY

AMNON EINAV

Chief Scientist, Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure

In this presentation, my intention is to glimpse together with you through the business opportunities you may find in the relatively new area of renewable energy sources.

Renewable energy is the term used for those forms of energy that occur naturally and repeatedly in the environment in which we live.

Energy from the sun, the wind, the oceans, fallilng water, burning of biologically derived fuels, municipal, industrial, commercial and agricultural wastes are classified as Renewaboe Energy.

This is mainly bacause of the fact that as long as humanity will exist, these sources of energy will not disappear and will occur repeatedly. Geothermal energy, the energy from the ineer part of the earth is also considered as renewable enrgy.

The use of Renewable Energy sources will be much larger in the ecologically driven scenario; however the amount to be added will not be negligible under any scenario taken. It will more than double in the refernece case scenario, and it will triple in the business as usual case and become almost sixfold in the ecologically driven case. COmparing those values to the amounts of coal, oil and gas to be used in 2020 shows that the commercial opportunity exists. This opportunity will indeed be immense in the case of a World Energy scene that will follow the ecologicallydriven scenario.

In Israel we dealt mainly with the exloitation of the direct beam component of Solar Energy. The practical exploitation of Solar Energy is being investigated in Israel, since the early fifties. Work is performed in many INstitutions. Some research work is done through the funding of the institution, other programs are performed under funding from the Ministry of Energy and infrastructure, and some are performed via private funding.

The Israeli Institutions dealing with solar energy are;

* The Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot.
* The National Solar Energy center at Sde Boker
* The ISrael Electric Corp.
* The Technion Israel Institute of Technology.
* The Ben-Gurion University in the Negev, the Institute of Applied
Research
* The Blaustein Institute for Desert Research in Sde Boker
* The Hebrew University, Jerusalem

Many compaines, private and public, are making a living out of Solar Energy business. Among them one may find:

* The Miromit Solar energy division for flat plate collectors
* The AMCOR Solar energay division for flat plate collectors
* The CHROMAGEN Solar energy division for flat plate collectors
* The SOLOR Amitec company for combined PB and flat plate collectors
* The COOLINGTECH company for absorption chiller units
* The PIMAT company for CPC collectors and plastic collectos
* The SOLEL company for parabolic trough power producing plants (the
successor of LUZ).
* The AREL company for transparent insulation
* The ORMAT Corp for geothermal plants and for humidity dryers in
greenhouses.
* The ELECTRIC FUEL company producing electric battery systems for the vehicle undustry.

The technologies presented in the market place by the above-mentioned companies are mature technologies. As such, the main problem confronting those companies as solar energy promoters, is, therefore, the challenge to prove that those technologies provide their unit energy cost in certain local conditions at a reduced rate compared to the present cost of energy produced via a conventional technology. This can be done with local strategic partners some of whom may be present in this hall.

I hope a dialogue to this effect will take place following this gathering. The use of Renewable Energy Sources is intended also to answer the many environmental problems being introduced while using conventional energy resource. To achieve this goal the solar and other renewables must overcome many barriers including technological as well as social and conceptual institutional barriers. The most severe barrier among the institutional barriers is the one related to the issue of who must cope with the carbon dioxide emissions problem and how could this problem be curtailed. This dilemma is almost completely ignored when utilities are planning to expand their production capacity, or when a transportation system is expanded. In order to enhance the introduction of Renewable Energies, the institutional forcing function will have to increase its affectivity through appropriate legislation. This is already done in California. In other places voices are heard that relate to a Carbon Tax or to an Energy Tax in general. This techno-political issue will be resolved in the future and Renewable Energies will no doubt be part of this resolution.

As a preamble to the introduction into the market place of some of the technologies developed here, we propose to perform feasibility studies to be carried out by interested parties or individuals, together with the Israeli developers, thus providing the assessment about the place of each technology in the real world.

LOW TEMPERATURE SOLAR TECHNOLOGIES

Sanitary Water Heating

A special Ordinance was issued by the Government in 1981, forcing the use of Solar flat plate collectors for sanitary water heaters in private houses and buildings of up to four stories high. In fact. sanitary water heaters are installed even in taller buildings providing heated sanitary water to residents through forced circulation units. This technology is at a mature state for many years. Some of the flat plate solar collectors systems are operating for more than 15 years, without any fault. This however, is an extreme success. Most of the present Solar collectors survive between 5 to 7 years, a time span which for most people will provide a satisfying return as compared with the electric heating commonly used in Israel for sanitary water heating.

The Israeli companies handling this technology are already cooperating with many countries all over the Globe. I am sure they are ready to expand their activities.

HEAT PUMPS AND SOLAR ABSORPTION COOLING

The relatively mild weather in Israel and in many countries around the Mediterranean renders the technologies of heat pumping a suitable solution during the winter season. Heat pumps are being utilized commercially in Israel however without solar heating. It may be beneficial to store solar heat in the ground and extract it via heat pumps to heat dwellings or commercial facilities if the physical situation of those buildings allows this operation.

Work on absorption cooling system was first done by the TADIRAN company, and is now in the hands of COOLINGTECH Corp. The task of developing advanced type absorption cooling and heat pumps using solar energy is a major and important task yielding itself to cooperation on an international scale. The international aspect of this development is very important because of the different local climates this system should be operating soon when fully developed. Common commercial ventures and projects could be defined on this matter and a commercialization strategy can mutually be agreed upon for the penetration of the solar heat pump technology.

GREENHOUSES

Israel has many years of experience in employing greenhouses. Controlling the atmosphere in the greenhouse to optimal values yields naturally a system that will store the excess solar energy during day time and deliver it at night if necessary. ORMAT Corp. developed a system to control humidity in the greenhouse thus yielding healthier plants. The method developed at the Blaustein Institute uses transparent plastic sheets having narrow channels in which a dye solution with selective properties is flowing. The dye is mostly opaque to the Infra-red part of the spectrum. The liquid containing the dye is heated, this heat could be stored to be used at night. The greenhouse atmosphere could also be controlled and additional CO2 added to improve vegetation growth rate. Common work on this approach of using solar energy as well as the investigation of phase changing materials in the greenhouse can indeed provide a fertile ground for common research and development and business ventures by Israeli and international teams.

SOLAR COLLECTORS AND ELECTRICITY PRODUCTION

Intermediate Temperature Range, ca. 390 deg.

The majority of electricity producing power plants now operating in the world are using the Rankine cycle with high temperature high pressure steam as a working fluid. Solar Power Plants (SPP) may also use the same cycle to produce electricity. The plants can either be of the linear concentrating parabolic trough type or the "point" concentrating tower or Dish type.

The parabolic trough concentrator can provide high enough temperatures to assure steam quality that may be used with conventional steam turbines.

The concentrators are a linear focusing device using a single axis North-south tracking system. A heat collecting element is in the focal line of the concentrator. The heat collecting element is a stainless steel pipe coated with a selective coating and enclosed in a glass vacuumed tube.

The Jerusalem based LUZ International Corp. succeeded in commercializing this system. The plants built by LUZ, in the Mojave desert, form the largest cluster in the World, of 354 MWe of Solar Electricity power plants. These plants supply electricity to the Southern California Edison grid on a regular basis. All the commercial plants constructed by LUZ corp. in the Mojave desert are still in operation. The LUZ built operating plants are producing their electricity at a cost of ca. 12-14 cents per kwh. This of course is a much higher cost when comparing it to a base load coal powered plant, but it tallys well with the cost of electricity produced in Gas turbines or other peak load plants.

Following the demise of LUZ. a Belgian based company named SOLEL took over. This company is now marketing the same and other products, operating from Jerusalem. We know that German companies are also trying to market similar technologies in North African states and call upon them not to infringe upon the rights of the SOLEL company and to cooperate as much as possible in this highly valuable technology.

High Temperature Range, above 900 deg.

The Tower – Much research is being performed in Israel at the W on exploiting the possibilities provided by tower type solar irradiation concentration system. In this system solar irradiation is collected by a field of mirrors/heliostats directing the reflected solar irradiation beams towards a focal point on a central tower.

The work performed at the Weizmann Institute includes:

– Development of a volcanic receiver for heating gas to high temperature and high pressure (temperatures of 1200 deg were reached already). Same gas is then being expanded in a gas turbine.
* The expanded gas then flows into a boiler and produces steam.
* The system will be operating in a mode similar to a combined cycle mode if designed properly.
* The cost of producing electricity using this system is now estimated to be in the order of 5 to 9 c/kwh.

– Another advanced design is the Photovoltaic production of electricity together with simultaneous production of heat.
* The option is based on the use of high efficiency photovoltaic cells capable of absorbing highly concentrated light (500-700 suns) at selected wavelength of the solar spectrum.
* The design is based on commercially available PV cells.
* The cost of electricity based on this design for a 10 MW plant is calculated to be in the order of 4-4.5 c/Kwh, for DC supplied power.
* The cost of heat from the same plant will be in the order of $6.5/MBTU of hot air at ca. 1.000 deg. C.
* When a subsidy for the capital is provided then the cost of electricity could be reduced to a level of 3 c/Kwh and the cost of heat to a level of $4.7/mbtu of hot air.
* A feasibility study for this system is now being prepared for installation in the Dead Sea Potash Works.

Solar Gasification of Carbonaceous Materials

A more advanced use of solar energy may be the utilization of solar heat for the treatment of residual Oil and for the production of Syngas and Ethylene.

The idea is to treat Vacuum Residual Oil or other low grade carbonaceous feed stock and remove the sulfur out of the product using hydrogen derived in a solar reformer. Additional hydrogen could be added to produce a high fraction of volatiles. The hydrogen for the process is produced in the solar reformer fed with steam and a light hydrocarbon. Based upon preliminary evaluation the ratio of revenues from the products and distillates to the cost of feedstock including capital cost for a mixture of various products is in the order of 1:4.

Electric Propulsion for Vehicles

The Israeli Company ELECTRIC FUEL developed a system based on the zink air battery to provide electrical propulsion for electric vehicles. The idea behind this refuelling system is to provide the electric vehicle with a similar refuelling procedure now in use in conventional vehicles. The company sold this system to an Italian and a German customer. The use of similar systems on a large scale can reduce dramatically the environmental load in our big cities.

CONCLUSIONS

Israel may serve as a good implementation ground for this stage of technical and commercial development due mainly to the availability of skilled man power, and not least, energy consumers, that may fit into energy production patterns suitable for solar energy plants. This niche can provide the opportunity for common projects with the international industrial community based on either task shared or cost shared breakdown for duties now, and later on dividends when technology will be successfully commercialized. The commercialization stage calls for the, involvement of well organized and qualified engineering as well as commercial entities with experience in the design of "bulk" energy producers.

The resolution made during the UNESCO solar summit in Paris, July last year, recognizes that solar energy is a universally available source of energy when harnessing the appropriate technology for its utilization. It was further recognized that the use of solar energy will help providing inhabitants of developing nations with a necessary amount of energy to i prove their standard of living. It is self evident that solar energy in all its forms can help industrialised nations reduce emissions of all sorts stemming from their industrial activities. The work perform d up until now in Israel in the area of Solar energy must be viewed in perspective to the size of the country and its research resources. Albeit its small size we feel Israel contributed up until now, more than its relative share to the solar energy utilization domain. As stated previously, Israel is not equipped with the type of industrial and engineering infrastructure that can easily promote the introduction of a new energy technology into the(-) world market place. This difficult task can, more effectively. be achieved through a cooperation with International business entities and Engineering firms. We are also willing and hope to turn our solar test sites into International Centers that will provide all the necessary amenities for the cooperation with outside interested Institutions. Our solar Test facilities can become a Middle East Solar Research Center open to all who are willing to contribute to this common cause.

I hope that this Jerusalem Business Convention will indeed be the forerunner of many mutually beneficial projects and activities and hope for its successful conclusion.