• 1 day PDVSA Booted From Caribbean Terminal Over Unpaid Bills
  • 1 day Russia Warns Ukraine Against Recovering Oil Off The Coast Of Crimea
  • 1 day Syrian Rebels Relinquish Control Of Major Gas Field
  • 1 day Schlumberger Warns Of Moderating Investment In North America
  • 1 day Oil Prices Set For Weekly Loss As Profit Taking Trumps Mideast Tensions
  • 1 day Energy Regulators Look To Guard Grid From Cyberattacks
  • 1 day Mexico Says OPEC Has Not Approached It For Deal Extension
  • 1 day New Video Game Targets Oil Infrastructure
  • 2 days Shell Restarts Bonny Light Exports
  • 2 days Russia’s Rosneft To Take Majority In Kurdish Oil Pipeline
  • 2 days Iraq Struggles To Replace Damaged Kirkuk Equipment As Output Falls
  • 2 days British Utility Companies Brace For Major Reforms
  • 2 days Montenegro A ‘Sweet Spot’ Of Untapped Oil, Gas In The Adriatic
  • 2 days Rosneft CEO: Rising U.S. Shale A Downside Risk To Oil Prices
  • 2 days Brazil Could Invite More Bids For Unsold Pre-Salt Oil Blocks
  • 2 days OPEC/Non-OPEC Seek Consensus On Deal Before Nov Summit
  • 2 days London Stock Exchange Boss Defends Push To Win Aramco IPO
  • 2 days Rosneft Signs $400M Deal With Kurdistan
  • 3 days Kinder Morgan Warns About Trans Mountain Delays
  • 3 days India, China, U.S., Complain Of Venezuelan Crude Oil Quality Issues
  • 3 days Kurdish Kirkuk-Ceyhan Crude Oil Flows Plunge To 225,000 Bpd
  • 3 days Russia, Saudis Team Up To Boost Fracking Tech
  • 3 days Conflicting News Spurs Doubt On Aramco IPO
  • 4 days Exxon Starts Production At New Refinery In Texas
  • 4 days Iraq Asks BP To Redevelop Kirkuk Oil Fields
  • 4 days Oil Prices Rise After U.S. API Reports Strong Crude Inventory Draw
  • 4 days Oil Gains Spur Growth In Canada’s Oil Cities
  • 4 days China To Take 5% Of Rosneft’s Output In New Deal
  • 4 days UAE Oil Giant Seeks Partnership For Possible IPO
  • 4 days Planting Trees Could Cut Emissions As Much As Quitting Oil
  • 4 days VW Fails To Secure Critical Commodity For EVs
  • 5 days Enbridge Pipeline Expansion Finally Approved
  • 5 days Iraqi Forces Seize Control Of North Oil Co Fields In Kirkuk
  • 5 days OPEC Oil Deal Compliance Falls To 86%
  • 5 days U.S. Oil Production To Increase in November As Rig Count Falls
  • 5 days Gazprom Neft Unhappy With OPEC-Russia Production Cut Deal
  • 5 days Disputed Venezuelan Vote Could Lead To More Sanctions, Clashes
  • 5 days EU Urges U.S. Congress To Protect Iran Nuclear Deal
  • 6 days Oil Rig Explosion In Louisiana Leaves 7 Injured, 1 Still Missing
  • 6 days Aramco Says No Plans To Shelve IPO
Leonard Hyman & William Tilles

Leonard Hyman & William Tilles

Leonard S. Hyman is an economist and financial analyst specializing in the energy sector. He headed utility equity research at a major brokerage house and…

More Info

Finnish Tech Giant Betting Big On Solar

Solar

Wärtsilä, the Finnish manufacturer of marine and small terrestrial engines, founded way back in 1834, recently announced its entry into the solar power and battery business. The company plans to couple its conventional small generators with solar and battery storage. This combination reduces fuel use, carbon emissions from the generator, and takes advantage of an internal combustion engine’s ability to ramp up quickly if solar production fades. The first facility will be located at a gold mine off the elec-tric grid in a remote region of Burkina Faso in West Africa.

Projects of this kind open the way for more consumers of electricity in remote regions to do without grid power. They also free up the local electric company to better serve customers in its densely popu-lated areas.

Years ago a noted economist attended a supposedly hush hush meeting between well-connected In-dian engineers and economists. Their goal? Figure out how to extend the Indian electricity system to the vast multitude of rural villages throughout the country that lacked access to electricity.

The local electricity companies could not afford to engage in a project of this magnitude. Apart from the vast capital expense, the revenue potential was modest. The prospective electricity customers, mainly farmers, were exempt from having to pay electric bills. And many other customers (including certain state electric companies) adopted a rather cavalier attitude towards bill paying in a timely fash-ion as well. Related: Westinghouse Bankruptcy Could Stall UK Nuclear Plans

The populace clearly was eager for electricity but erecting miles of transmission lines for mostly non-paying customers is seldom a winning business strategy. One participant in the meeting proposed a simple solution: install solar panels in these remote places and let the local populace operate them. Who needs transmission lines? It certainly made more sense. But it left the villagers in the dark at night. Needless to say, that was not the solution that India's power grid operators wanted to hear, alt-hough the economist liked it.

An integrated system of the sort proposed by Wärtsilä, could prove ideal for remote regions of Africa, India, Iraq or Pakistan for example. Any place the electric grid is unreliable and people have their own generators, these new solar plus batteries plus small internal combustion engine combos could reduce emissions and dependence on oil. And service to energy deprived consumers would markedly im-prove.

The concept of an integrated solar-battery-small generator electrical system is relatively new. At the moment it looks suited largely to isolated industrial projects. As for impact on the grid, it probably does not have any. Not yet, anyway.

Local utilities often lack the resources to expand to serve small, isolated, typically rural customers. Even when the far distant customer is a large manufacturing facility like a mine, the economics are not always favorable. This is an age old dilemma in the power business. Who pays for the uneconomic cus-tomer? Related: Is Haynesville About To Make A Comeback?

However, the idea could take hold in developed countries, too. And grid operators need only remem-ber the days of the qualifying facilities, those industrially sited power plants that fed electricity into the grid, usually at high prices. This modest proposal might find its market in isolated locations, but there is a good chance that an improved version could show up in the middle of grid-served territory if grid service does not meet reliability or price requirements.

Oil-burning small generators do not seem a promising start to an era of enhanced distributed re-sources. However, not too long ago a mobile phone was almost half the width of a shoe box and al-most too heavy to carry. But it opened the eyes of the public and look what followed.

By Leonard Hyman and Bill Tilles for Oilprice.com

More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:




Back to homepage


Leave a comment

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News