Solving Africa’s Energy Poverty – Part 4 Hydroelectric

Hydroelectric Power for a bright future
Hydroelectric dam

Hydroelectric power can provide most of present and future needs, but it will take time and investment to build dams, plants, and distribution lines so fossil fuel power is needed until that day. Africa has abundant rivers that could supply most or all of their electrical needs for the foreseeable future through dams, waterfalls, and pumped storage.

“Hydropower produces more than three-quarters of the world’s renewable energy output each year. And its carbon emissions—over the entire lifecycle of construction, operation and decommissioning—are often far lower than those from all other renewable sources, including wind and solar. Across Africa, hydropower is responsible for 84 per cent of all non-fossil fuel energy use. But in a continent rich in lakes and rivers, the opportunities for expanding hydropower are huge.”

78 percent = Proportion of global renewable energy generation from hydropower in 2012

7.5 percent = Proportion of African energy use from non-fossil fuels in 2013

84 percent = Proportion of African non-fossil fuel energy use from hydropower in 2013[1]

Africa is estimated to have 4 million gigawatts-hours per year (GWh/yr) or 4 billion megawatts-hours per year (MWh/yr) total hydroelectric generating capacity, or about 12 percent of the world’s hydropower potential, with a technically feasible output of about 1,800 terawatts-hours per year (TWh/yr) or 1.8 trillion MWh/yr. [2] Yet Africa produces only about 3 percent of the global hydropower and exploits less than 10 percent of its technical potential.[3]

Some notable systems have been built in Africa and some are under construction or planned. The largest in Africa is the Aswan, capacity 2,100 MW, followed by the Cohora Bassa in Mozambique at 2,075 MW capacity. The soon-to-be-completed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the upper Nile will have a capacity of 6,000 MW. It will triple the electrical output of the country and be capable of selling power to surrounding countries and/or multinational grids.

An example of a waterfall being used for power is Victoria Falls, Zambezi River, on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, which has three power plants with a total capacity of 108 MW. A proposed hydroelectric dam below the falls on the Zambezi River at Batoka Gorge will have a capacity of 1,600 MW.

For comparison, India has become the 7th largest producer of hydroelectric power in the world. India’s installed utility-scale hydroelectric capacity is 44,594 MW, from major power plants plus many smaller plants. Its potential is over 155,000 MW from large and small plants and 94,000 MW pumped storage potential, with 4800 MW installed to date. Its many waterfalls are used as well as hydroelectric dams and pumped storage reservoirs.  The hydro-electric power plants at Darjeeling and Shivanasamudram were established in 1898 and 1902, respectively. They were among the first in Asia. India has been a dominant player in global hydroelectric power development. India also builds hydroelectric plants in other countries and may be a resource for countries in Africa and similar energy poor regions.

Hydroelectric Power Details

Hydroelectric plants are classified as Large if their capacity is over 500 MW, Medium if over 10 MW, and Small: Mini (10 MW), Micro (100 kW), or Pico (5 kW). Many more Small facilities are and can be built with much lower capital investment up front. Smaller hydroelectric facilities can be scaled to more closely meet local needs in isolated areas, and several of these can be connected to a distribution grid to provide electricity to a wider area.

Hydroelectric power plants use the force of falling water to turn turbines attached to generators, so that heating water for steam and subsequent cooling is not needed. Hydroelectric dams also provide flood control and create reservoirs to provide a reliable source of clean water, irrigation water, aquaculture, fishing and manufacturing industries, and much needed water transportation. Reservoirs resupply the water table by lateral seepage.

Pumped storage in conjunction with hydroelectric dams can help to reliably supply needs in seasons when water flow is reduced or demand peaks. The way it works is that water is pumped up to fill a mountaintop reservoir when demand is below capacity, and the stored water is used when demand is high. The efficiency of many of these systems is above 70 percent.

A good example in my personal experience is Raccoon Mountain Pumped-Storage Reservoir near Chattanooga, Tennessee. It is located above Nickajack Lake Reservoir on the Tennessee River. Water is pumped from the reservoir at the base of the mountain up to the mountain top reservoir during low demand periods and released to generate additional power for the TVA system of hydroelectric dams in peak demand periods. At present there are more than three dozen pumped storage facilities in nineteen countries with 1,000 MW capacity or greater and many more with lower output capacities.

Racoon Mountain Pumped Storage hydroelectric generation[4]

Waterfalls can provide power without the need to build a dam. Part of the natural gravity-fed flow is channeled through turbine generators to supply power. One long-standing example is at Niagara Falls, straddling the US and Canadian border. This area has had a succession of hydroelectric power plants in both countries as both demand and capacities have increased. Hydroelectric power generation in this area has remained uninterrupted since local service began in 1882 in the US and 1892 in Canada. The famous Adams Power Plant, built by Westinghouse with Tesla designed turbines, opened in 1895 to supply power to New York counties nearby. Currently operating plants include a pumped storage facility, Lewiston Pump-Generation Plant, in conjunction with the Robert Moses Power Station in the US.

Smaller hydroelectric facilities can use run-of-the-river systems. In this system, no dam is needed if there is a gradient. Some of the water is diverted from the river using a sloping or vertical channel through turbines to generate electricity and then is returned to the river downstream. As a rule, the higher the drop, the greater generating capacity, but Micro and Pico plants can run on as little as a one-meter drop to supply local power or to connect to a larger network.

Even in relatively arid areas, hydroelectric power can provide most of the electrical power in rainy seasons and can be backed up with fossil fuel thermal power plants to fill in any gaps during dry seasons. As an added bonus, in dry seasons the reservoirs behind hydroelectric dams can provide needed water for agriculture and homes, especially if power generation is switched to backup power to conserve water in the reservoir. The combination of hydropower and thermal power generation can provide reliable power throughout the year.

[1] Source: International Energy Agency/BP.

[2] Abbreviations: GWh/year = Gigawatt-hours/year or billion watt-hours/year; MWh/year = Megawatt-hours/year or million watt-hours/year; TWh/year = Terawatt-hours/year or trillion watt-hours/year. Tera- is 1000x Giga-, which is 1000x Mega-.

[3] Appleyard, David, “Africa’s Hydropower Future,” Hydroworld.com, January 1, 2014, http://www.hydroworld.com/articles/print/volume-22/issue-1/regional-profile/africa-s-hydropower-future.html.

[4] Tennessee Valley Authority

Solving Africa’s Energy Poverty – Part 3 Solar Power

Why SOLAR Power is a poor choice for developing countries

The main practical problem with solar panels is that they produce power intermittently and variably depending on the latitude, the time of day, the season, and weather events such as clouds, rain, and windblown dust that block sunlight. Another factor that affects output of solar panels is heat, which further reduces output and lifetime. That is why most rooftop solar panels are mounted on supports above the roof surface. In hotter climates, it may be necessary to provide cooling water to maintain efficiency, all of which reduces photovoltaic efficacy. They do not provide power at night and so there must be a reliable backup power source such as banks of batteries. Present battery technology is not feasible for this purpose except for single home systems, so thermal and hydroelectric energy must be used.

Solar panels are inefficient by their nature. Single junction panels are based on high-tech silicon wafers and the more efficient multi junction types require silicon wafers layered with exotic metals such as gallium, indium, phosphorus, gallium arsenide, and germanium to broaden their power spectrum and enhance output. The sun provides roughly 1 kW power per square meter at vertical and solar panels or mirrors provide only a fraction of that. Typical efficiency of solar photovoltaic cells is from typically 15 percent up to a possible 30 percent.

Peak output occurs only when the panel is pointed directly at the sun so computer-driven tracking mechanisms would be needed to maintain peak power throughout each day. At higher latitudes, the sun is never directly overhead, so the sun would be at an angle from the vertical and power would be reduced by the greater depth of the atmosphere even with compensating angled support. This varies with season by up to 23.5 degrees above and below the equatorial plane because of the tilt of the earth’s axis. So in winter, the angle could be 47 degrees or more from vertical, depending on the latitude. Even near the equator, only near the equinox will the sun be directly overhead at noon and could be as much as 23.5 from the vertical. Many solar arrays use fixed panels so that they operate outside peak performance most of the time.

All of these factors will reduce average output considerably. Maintenance teams are needed to maintain the tracking mechanisms and water cooling circulation systems, as well as for regular cleaning of the panels.

The next hurdle is the lifetime of the solar panel. Efficiency decreases with age and typical solar panels will last only twenty years with typically 1 percent loss in efficiency per year. Then you have to factor in how much energy is expended in manufacturing, installing, and maintaining units. This can be a significant percentage of the typical output over time. It will usually take about a year to recoup the energy balance. With short lifetimes, high-tech materials, low efficiency, intermittency, and maintenance requirements, it is clear that solar power through photovoltaic panels is totally unsustainable. Never mind that the power source, the sun, provides renewable power, the panel itself makes this method totally unsustainable.

Ivanpah mirror array in California, Washington Times

Solar power using mirrors is a bit more reliable since it eliminates exotic materials and high-tech manufacturing. However, it has most of the same limitations as Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. These limitations include no night power production as well as weather, and latitude reductions in efficiency. Some now use molten salt as a heat reservoir to supply supplemental power at night. Maintenance teams are needed to keep the mirrors free from dust. A major problem with mirror systems is that many mirrors must surround and be aimed at a central steam generator to produce the kind of heat needed to produce the steam for a turbine. The heat from these systems can kill birds in flight, and the glare can blind airline pilots.

Both types of solar arrays require a large expanse of land to produce a reasonable amount of power. This necessarily disrupts the environment. Rooftops of warehouses, where available, can be used for PV panels, but the mirror arrays cannot because they must be aimed at a central tower containing a generator at the top. Fires on rooftop PV arrays are all too common from breakthrough shorts and wiring issues.

Solar Panel on thatched roof hut

From this, it seems all too obvious that solar power is inadequate even for home use in poor countries and can only be a temporary “Band-Aid” to assuage the consciences for feel-good well-heeled environmentalists in Western countries. Climate agreements envision solar panels on huts, not reliable, long term power as provided by fossil fuel, hydroelectric, geothermal or nuclear power grids. International organizations invest only in wind and solar while discouraging or prohibiting these more reliable power sources that could support infrastructure development, industrial investment, hospitals, schools, provide jobs that can raise the economy and improve health and longevity.

 

Solving Africa’s Energy Poverty, Part 2

Why Wind Power is a poor choice for developing countries
Wind turbines share pastures with native herdsmen

In an energy starved developing country an all-of-the-above approach is best, combining fossil fuel, hydroelectric, geothermal, and nuclear, where available, and possibly supplemented by wind and solar “renewable” and “sustainable” methods which are recommended and allowed by environmentalists, but which are the worst possible alternatives.

Wind power relies on huge wind turbines on towers to generate electricity in a narrow range of wind speeds.  The amount of power generated is both unpredictable and intermittent because wind is not constant and wind speed unpredictably varies widely from none to gale-force levels that would damage the system if not switched off. Another power source must be available to supply backup power. Fossil fuel power plants require hours to start up due to the time required to heat water to steam. Such a process is both time consuming and expensive. Therefore, they must be kept at the ready constantly to provide backup power more quickly. Wind power, at best, can be only a supplemental source. Here are a few other negative facts:

  • Wind turbines require expensive regular maintenance and replacement, and their efficiency declines with age. Estimated to last twenty to twenty-five years, more typically they require frequent repair over ten to fifteen years of life.
  • Most wind turbines require large rare earth magnets (neodymium and dysprosium) obtained from Mongolia by a mining and refining process that results in mountains of toxic and radioactive solid wastes and contaminated lakes. The rare earth elements are called that because they are not found in rich veins like other ores, but are diffusely dispersed, so they produce huge amounts of wastes, including radioactive elements such as uranium and thorium, when refined. Since neodymium/dysprosium magnets are ten times stronger than conventional magnets, they are needed to convert the slow rotation of the rotor into useful electricity; otherwise complex gears would be needed to achieve the 1500 RPM generation speeds necessary with conventional magnets. Rare earth metals are used in small amounts in catalytic converters, display screens, audio speakers and miniaturized electronics, but the amounts are tiny compared to the hundreds or thousands of pounds needed for a single turbine.
  • Wind turbines kill large numbers of birds and bats, including endangered raptors. Birds and bats are needed to reduce populations of insects such as mosquitoes. Insect eating species of bats can eat one thousand insects an hour, or five to six thousand each night. While the environmental activists claim to be protecting wildlife, they don’t seem to be concerned about wind turbines killing bats and birds, especially large predators.
  • Wind turbines produce low frequency sound, including infrasound that our ears cannot detect. However, infrasound can cause unsettling and harmful physical symptoms such as “nausea and confusion, blurred vision, vertigo, headaches, tachycardia, heightened blood pressure, pain and ringing in the ears, difficulties with memory and concentration, anxiety, depression, irritability, and panic attacks.”[1] If the sound of wind turbines does that to us, what is it doing to animals, especially those that use infrasound like elephants and whales? More research is needed.

[1] Parker, Helen Schwiesow, PhD, LCP, “Science Deniers in the wind industry,” Watt’s Up With That, https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/03/08/science-deniers-in-the-wind-industry/. Parker is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and a Past Clinical Supervisory Faculty member at the University of Virginia Medical School. Her career includes practical experience in the fields of autism, sensory perception, memory and learning, attention deficit and anxiety disorders, including panic disorder and PTSD.

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The book: Saving Africa from Lies that Kill: How Myths about the Environment and Overpopulation are Destroying Third World Countries will be published on October 23, 2018. Print and e-book will be available online and in bookstores.

My first book, Perverted Truth Exposed: How Progressive Philosophy has Corrupted Science was published in 2016. It is available in print and e-book, on line only, through World Net Daily store, Amazon, Books-A-Million and Barnes & Noble.  See the companion blog at www.realscienceblog.com  for related posts and pages.

 

 

 

Solving Africa’s Energy Poverty Problem, Part 1

Gathering wood for cooking in Africa

Based on an assumed need to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2), climate change advocates and international agreements generally provide investment funding and technical support only for so-called sustainable renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, both of which are unreliable, intermittent, and unsustainable, while they discourage or prohibit development of power plants based on abundant fossil fuel (coal, oil, and natural gas), hydroelectric, geothermal, or nuclear energy. It is well documented that environmentalists have stopped or prevented the construction of more than two hundred hydroelectric dams in Africa[1], although it is the cleanest, most reliable and safest energy source available, and uses conventional materials and proven technologies. Hydroelectric power is also “sustainable” over time and returns the water used to the environment. Power in the form of electricity, natural gas, and petroleum products are essential for economic development, industry, transportation and medical infrastructure as well as home cooking, heating and refrigeration, which are needed to provide a safe, clean food supply and to reduce deadly indoor air pollution from bio-fueled cooking and heating fires.

Without adequate power, the continent’s health and economy cannot improve as it should. The answer to Africa’s energy poverty is an all-of-the-above solution. Environmentalists from developed countries and international governmental and non-governmental organizations have no business denying African nations the chance to better their citizens through the same means that developed countries used in the past to raise themselves out of energy poverty for their own development. (They have an “I got mine, to hell with you” attitude.) Coal, oil, and natural gas electricity generation must be allowed to continue and grow for the foreseeable future until other means such as hydroelectric, geothermal and nuclear facilities can be built.

Africa can’t afford the luxury of skipping these vital steps toward ending energy poverty in order to adopt unreliable solar and wind alone. It would be like giving a dying man an aspirin and expecting him to survive.

Today’s coal fired power plants with modern air cleaning technology are not the dirty, polluting monsters they once were, even though they are still portrayed that way. In developed countries, technology to remove particulates, heavy metals, and sulfates have long been utilized. Emissions consist mostly of carbon dioxide and water vapor. Modern power plants use coal, oil, or natural gas to heat water for steam to turn turbines attached to electrical generators. This steam and hot water are not released directly into streams but are cooled to condense the steam and reduce the water temperature to a level compatible with life in the streams. Some of the hot water is recycled to efficiently produce more steam for power generation. The huge towers seen at power plants are not emitting pollution as environmentalist propaganda suggests. They are cooling towers that are used to cool the water and steam before returning it to its source so that only water vapor is emitted. Similar air cleaning and cooling facilities can be added to any existing power plant in developing countries.

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[1] For example, twenty years ago, Brent Blackwelder, president of  Friends of the Earth bragged that FoE and other environmental groups have succeeded in blocking almost 300 dam projects in the Third World on a TV documentary series, ‘Against Nature,’  hosted by Martin Durkin, London Channel 4 Television Corporation, 1997

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If you like this post share it with your friends, and sign up to follow this blog by email. Thank you.

The book: Saving Africa from Lies that Kill: How Myths about the Environment and Overpopulation are Destroying Third World Countries will be published on October 23, 2018. Print and e-book will be available online and in bookstores.

My first book, Perverted Truth Exposed: How Progressive Philosophy has Corrupted Science was published in 2016. It is available in print and e-book, on line only, through World Net Daily store, Amazon, Books-A-Million and Barnes & Noble.  See the companion blog at www.realscienceblog.com  for related posts and pages.

How The War On Climate Change Slams The World’s Poor — NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT

By Paul Homewood The latest contribution from Bjorn Lomborg: When a “solution” to a problem causes more damage than the problem, policymaking has gone awry. That’s where we often find ourselves with global warming today. Activist organizations like Worldwatch argue that higher temperatures will make more people hungry, so drastic carbon cuts are […]

via How The War On Climate Change Slams The World’s Poor — NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT

Draconian Climate Change Policies Making World Hunger Worse

DRACONIAN Climate Change Policies Making World Hunger Worse

Climatism

World Hunger UN Climate policyClimate policies are diverting resources from measures that directly reduce hunger, which according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation is on the rise. | The Australian

ANTHROPOGENIC “climate change” and the control of carbon dioxide, via the supply of energy, has deep roots in a radical yet gravely misguided campaign to reduce the world’s population.

A misanthropic agenda engineered by the environmental movement in the mid 1970’s, who realised that doing something about “global warming” would play to quite a number of its social agendas.

THE goal was advanced, most notably, by The Club Of Rome (Environmental think-tank and consultants to the UN) – a group of mainly European scientists and academics, who used computer modelling to warn that the world would run out of finite resources if population growth were left unchecked.

The common enemy of humanity is man.
In searching for a new enemy to unite us, 

View original post 1,207 more words

Solar and Wind Power are Not Clean Energy Answers, especially for under-developed countries

Are solar and wind power the answers to future clean, reliable energy needs?

When you hear about the international climate change accords redistributing wealth to poor countries, there is a dirty little secret that they don’t want you to know. Their “aid” and “support” only provide for renewables like solar and wind power.  Some of this is aimed at individual hut-mounted solar panels, which is OK as a temporary solution supplying personal needs for those areas that are far from electrical grids. For long term growth and economic development, reliable, consistent fossil fuel (coal, oil, gas), hydroelectric, geothermal and nuclear power are needed but are prohibited or discouraged in favor of intermittent, unreliable solar and wind power. Construction of over 200 hydroelectric dams have been stopped in Africa alone on environmental grounds, although hydroelectric power is one of the cleanest and most reliable forms of energy generation.  Africa has hydroelectric capacity to supply all the continent’s needs for the foreseeable future, but development is meager. Meanwhile, over 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa have no access to electricity.  Energy Poverty is keeping countries in Africa and other underdeveloped countries from developing a robust economy through manufacturing, mining, agriculture, technology and investment, to join the twenty-first century. They need to develop electrical systems using the “all-of-the-above” approach. The need is extreme, and the need is urgent.

Here are a few reason why solar and wind power are not the answer to clean, reliable power anywhere in the world, and especially in countries in Energy Poverty. They are neither clean nor reliable.

Solar and wind power are NOT the answers to clean energy for the future.
  • If environmentalists were serious about clean power, they would support hydroelectric, geothermal and nuclear power. All of which are clean, reliable and use well developed technologies.
  • If CO2 is not causing warming, (see previous post) hydrocarbons can provide clean energy with proper scrubbers to eliminate pollutants from smoke.
  • Solar and wind power, by their very nature, are intermittent and unpredictable. The sun is not always visible and the wind is not always blowing at ideal speeds.
    • You can’t run a hospital or a manufacturing plant on unpredictable intermittent and fluctuating power.
    • Fluctuating power can damage computers and electric motors in appliances like refrigerators, heat pumps, etc.
  • As primary power sources, solar and wind power require back up power from other more consistent sources. Their unpredictable nature makes it difficult to supply consistent power through back up sources like fossil fuel and hydroelectric power plants, which cannot change their output quickly, and must run constantly at less than peak efficiency to be ready when needed.
  • More realistically, wind and solar can only provide a small amount of supplementary power to other more reliable sources like fossil fuel or hydroelectric plants.
  • Solar and wind power sources require covering large areas with turbines or solar arrays to supply power, which necessarily disrupts ecosystems. The area disrupted per megawatt of power, compared to other energy sources is staggering.  Even reservoirs behind hydroelectric dams are less disruptive to the environment.
  • Solar panels and wind generator super magnets require exotic “rare earth” minerals, whose extraction is very polluting due to the naturally dispersed nature of rare earths (thus the name). Mine wastes include radioactive and toxic elements such as uranium and mercury that often contaminate lakes and streams.
  • Solar panels are very inefficient and short lived, e.g. typically less than 30% efficiency for 15 to 20 years with declining efficiency over time. Efficiency varies with the time of day/angle of the sun, latitude, prevalence of clouds and dust accumulation. Disposal of wastes are also problematic.
  • Solar plants using mirrors aimed at a steam generator are low tech but their high heat kills birds.
  • Wind turbines kill birds and bats by sucking them into the blades, and produce infra-sound that is annoying and may be harmful to animals and humans.
Raptors sucked into wind turbine blades

Why do environmentalists hate hydroelectric power, which is the cleanest and most reliable power source

  • Environmentalists oppose hydroelectric power for two reasons.
    • The first and real reason is that their socialistic goal is to cripple economies and reduce populations that these sources would support.
      • “Giving society cheap abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.” – Paul Ehrlich, or paraphrased: “Like giving a loaded gun to a child”)
      • They dream of a return to idealized more primitive times, which were, in reality, brutal and polluting.
      • In reality, the best way to protect the environment and stabilize family sizes is to raise poor people in developing countries out of their disease ridden squalor. They’re not lazy, just sick and weakened by malaria, parasites and other infections. Poverty, not population size, is the cause of environmental damage.
      • Africa, for example, has largely untapped hydroelectric capacity beyond their energy needs for the foreseeable future, but that would support a larger population, which the environmentalists fight against.
    • The second “reason,” aka excuse, is disruption of the environment.
      • They don’t seem to mind the environmental disruption by wind and solar farms.
    • Hydroelectric power using large to small waterfalls provides reliable power with minimal impact.
    • Hydroelectric dams require reservoirs that fill slowly to cover formerly dry land, (so the downstream river is not starved in the process), which temporarily disrupts ecosystems that historically have quickly adapted.
      • They prevent periodic downstream flooding that causes misery and death.
      • They provide water for homes, industry and agriculture, and jobs from fishing and tourism.
      • If there is a shortage of fresh water in the world, as claimed by environmentalists, it is because reservoirs are needed. Reservoirs not only retain more water from loss to the sea, but actually help to replenish ground water through lateral seepage into the underlying and surrounding strata.

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If you like this post share it with your friends, and sign up to follow this blog by email. Thank you.

The book: Saving Africa from Lies that Kill: How Myths about the Environment and Overpopulation are Destroying Third World Countries will be published in September, 2018. Print and ebook will be available online and in bookstores.

My first book, Perverted Truth Exposed: How Progressive Philosophy has Corrupted Science was published in 2016. It is available in print and ebook, on line only, through World Net Daily store, Amazon, Books-A-Million and Barnes & Noble.  See the companion blog at www.realscienceblog.com  for related posts.