NanoH2O Invests $45M to Change the Economics of Desalination in China


NanoH2O Invests $45M to Change the Economics of Desalination in China

“It all comes down to the performance of the membrane.”

The water-energy nexus can’t be ignored. There is a looming water crisis for nearly every region of the globe as populations rise, pollution increases, and climate and weather patterns change.

Desalination is one way of addressing some of these water problems. The process can be accomplished with a number of expensive, energy-intensive technologies, including distillation, ion-exchange and reverse osmosis. Reverse osmosis (RO) is a well-established desalination technology, but there are challenges pertaining to the amount of energy consumed in the process. The key to the economics of the reverse osmosis process is the membrane.


“It all comes down to the performance of the membrane,” said Jeff Green, water startup NanoH2O’s CEO, in an earlier interview. “A more productive membrane allows less energy to be used or provides higher throughput.”

NanoH2O is a well-funded, Los Angeles-based startup that is commercializing a new membrane material based on technology developed by UCLA‘s Eric Hoek. The VC-funded firm has had a measure of success with deployments across the globe (see case studies here). The company has won more than $85 million in funding and credit facilities from Khosla Ventures, Oak Investment Partners, BASF, Total, and CalPERS Clean Energy & Technology Fund.

The firm just announced its intention to build a manufacturing site in Liyang, China, a city 150 miles west of Shanghai. The 10,000-square-meter factory comes at a total investment of $45 million and is expected to be operational by the end of 2014.

China holds one-fifth of the world’s population, but just 6 percent of the global fresh water supply, according to the company. The Chinese government is looking to increase its seawater reverse-osmosis desalination capacity threefold by 2015. Its latest Five-Year Plan calls for 70 percent of the equipment used in desalination plants to be produced domestically, according to NanoH2O.

The “benign nanomaterials” used in NanoH2O’s thin-film layer have demonstrated a 50 percent to 100 percent increase in permeability compared to traditional thin-film RO membranes. A higher-performance, more permeable membrane allows more fresh water to cross the barrier with less pressure from a pump, which needs to be driven by an energy source, often natural gas, diesel, or coal.

The high-pressure pump consumes 35 percent to 60 percent of the process’ energy budget. According to the company, municipal and industrial plants optimized for NanoH2O’s membranes can expect up to a 20 percent reduction in energy consumption, a 70 percent increase in water production, or a 40 percent smaller plant footprint.

“Just two years after our commercial entry into the RO membrane and desalination markets, the opening of this second facility marks a major expansion for our company that will allow us to support a rapidly growing international market,” said CEO Jeff Green in a statement.

The firm also furnishes a comparison tool via which competitor products can be directly compared to NanoH2O’s membrane module on critical technical specs.

The industry-standard membrane module is a cylinder 8 inches in diameter and 40 inches long. A flat sheet of membrane is spiral-wound in the cylinder. Under pressure, the desalinated water moves through the membrane into a tube on the inside while the waste stream or brine stream remains on the outside. A typical pressure vessel contains many of the membrane modules. NanoH2O’s goal has been to make a membrane module that fits into RO systems with an identical size and shape to the existing product.
Traditional membranes have been made from a polyamide material for decades, but they had a propensity for fouling, and “fouling can severely degrade the productivity of the process or cause a complete shutdown of a system,” said Green. The firm claims that NanoH2O’s

technology is the first materials breakthrough in RO membranes since the 1970s.
Looking forward, Green envisions the desalination market becoming a much more global industry to drive down the cost of the process.
Other firms working on membranes for water applications include the industrial plumbing giant Danfoss, while Energy Recovery, Novozymes and a startup called Aquaporin are doing related work. The challenge, Aquaporin CEO Peter Jensen told Greentech Media, is making the membrane durable.
The U.S. is now “entering an era of water scarcity, as opposed to large chunks of the rest of the world that are already in the midst of water scarcity,” said Gayle Pergamit, CEO of membrane start-up Agua Via, in an email.  “Even if there wasn’t one whit of climate change, we are still going to run out of water. Nanotechnology-based water filtration could deliver completely pure water from any source at vastly reduced energy usage and lower total costs.”

Tags: desalination, khosla ventures, nanoh2o, water


Renewable energy for desalination: An interview with HE Dr Abdulrahman Al-Ibrahim

Water 2.0 open_img

This feature news is part of Singapore International Water Week’s (SIWW) series of one-on-one interviews with global water industry leaders, Conversations with Water Leaders. In this edition, HE Dr Abdulrahman M Al-Ibrahim, Governor of Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC), Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, shares with OOSKAnews correspondent, Renee Martin-Nagle, his thoughts on renewable energy for desalination and the provision of water for all.

HE Dr Abdulrahman M Al-Ibrahim elaborates on how he combined desalination with renewable energy, SWCC’s strive towards operational excellence, environmental responsibility and more.

To start, would you mind speaking about the focus that is being placed by Saudi Arabia on solar energy for desalination?

Certainly. Recently the SWCC board of directors adopted a series of strategic goals, one of which is operational excellence. Part of that operational excellence is to enrich our portfolio of energies, including renewable energies like solar, photovoltaic, thermal, wind, geothermal, and other renewable energies. In the recent past we initiated construction of the first solar desalination plant in Al-Khafji that will produce 30,000 cubic meters per day of desalinated water and is operated by photovoltaic cells with an RO [reverse osmosis] desalination system. The King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) was the leader of this program, and we partnered with KACST to build, manage and maintain the plant throughout its life. We are investigating a more rigorous program to produce around 300,000 cubic metres per day with renewable energies. So, to summarize, renewable energy is not a luxury for us.  It is part of our strategy, and it is a means to enrich our portfolio of energy so that we will have the right mix for our operation.

SA Desal Plant

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has the most installed capacity for desalination in the world and currently it is planning to export its technical know-how regionally and internationally. Image: Power Insider Asia

My understanding is that the energy output of solar may not be adequate for some of the older desal technologies such as multi-stage flash.  Is that why you are using it for reverse osmosis?

I’m sure if we want to couple renewable energy with desalination, we will have to look at different technologies and pick the ones that are the best match, which could be Multi-Effect Distillation (MED), RO hybrid or Tri-hybrid. To start with, we selected RO for the Al-Khafji plant because as a rule of thumb, RO requires the least energy, but on the west coast we are investigating other technologies, such as Tri-hybrid. It’s partially an MED as well as an RO plant with Nano-Filtration (NF) and other means. We are devoting R&D to finding the right technologies to adapt to the renewable energies available locally.

All the projects I am currently overseeing are my favorite, but I’ll tell you about my dream. My dream is to have a highly reliable and very efficient desalination plant that becomes a model not just for our kingdom, Saudi Arabia, but a model worldwide.

Saudi Arabia has the most installed capacity for desalination in the world.  As you do research and gather technologies, does the Kingdom intend to become an exporter of technology as well as an importer?

Yes, we do. For the past 30 or 40 years, the ultimate goal of SWCC was to produce desalinated water to meet the needs of the Kingdom. Now we want to go beyond that goal and export know-how regionally as well as internationally. Our roadmap is to be able to develop know-how, intellectual property, prototypes and patents locally. In the past three or four years, we have come to own some patents, and we want to double that number in the next couple of years.

Would you give me an example of the latest technologies that you are exploring?

Sure. SWCC, together with the Water Re-use Promotion Center of Japan and Sasakura Company, conducted a joint research study to develop a fully integrated NF/SWRO/MED tri-hybrid system. This desalination system enabled us to reduce significantly the water production cost per unit, which we see as a break-through. Subsequently, a number of patents have been registered in Saudi Arabia, Japan and China.

How did you personally get involved in desalination?

I’m a graduate of the mechanical engineering program in Jeddah, in the area of thermal science, and at that time, we were required to study two courses in desalination and do two internships in industrial facilities. My second internship was in a small Multi-Stage Flash (MSF) plant in Jeddah, and, after doing a research project, it became my dream to combine desal with renewable energy. Luckily, in around 1986, I also worked with a very small solar desalination plant in Yanbu that used a technology called thermal freezing, where you freeze the seawater using an absorption system to reach almost zero degrees and then recover fresh water from the system. I went on to get a Master’s degree and a PhD in thermal engineering and renewable energies, and moved my expertise to energy efficiency. After 20 or 30 years, combining desal and renewable energy is becoming a reality instead of a pilot.

What changes have you seen in the past 20-25 years since you first got involved with desal? 

Almost two months ago we launched a new plant in Jeddah called Jeddah RO-3 that operates on reverse osmosis. This plant was built on a site where a thermal plant was in operation since the late 70s and produced 40,000 cubic metres. We demolished the old plant and built a new one on the same footprint that now produces 240,000 cubic metres. So in a 25- or 30-year span we were able to increase production by six times over.

The second thing is our local expertise here in Saudi Arabia. In the past, we had to hire multiple international companies to be able to operate our plants and produce the water. In those days, you would seldom find a Saudi person operating or maintaining the plant.  Now, Saudi locals perform 91 per cent of all our operations as engineers, technicians and managers who understand the technologies and who are able to diagnose and fix problems. We admire and respect all international expertise and we utilize it to the best that we can. At the same time, we feel that we are ready now to stretch our arms to regional and international markets and spread our expertise in terms of technologies, IP and manufacturing facilities. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has invested in desal, and we hope that it will add value to our GDP.

What will be the criteria for choosing desal technologies in the future?

Two factors will be the criteria for selecting technology — energy consumption and reliability. Membrane technology will be able to attain energy efficiency very well. However, we need to be able to assist it with more devices to make it more reliable. If the price of energy is important in your area, then you need to give it more weight. If reliability is more of an issue, then you give it more weight.

As much as we care about producing water, we also care about the environment, for multiple reasons. The primary factor is that we live in and share the same area, so we need to protect the environment next to us.  Secondly, our intake is affected by its surrounding area, and therefore we should not spoil the water next to the plant itself.

What is the problem with membrane reliability?

Membrane technology is very sensitive to the quality of water it receives. For example, if there is red tide, or an algae bloom, or any other material in the seawater, such as a high Silt Density Index (SDI), you would need to shut down the plant to preserve your membrane, or augment your plant with pre-treatment facilities to clean the water before you introduce it to the membrane. On the other hand, although thermal is very expensive and utilizes maybe two or three times as much energy as membrane technology, it may tolerate any water. Also, to be able to build membrane technology, you need to have a pilot plant for a year or two at the same location and study the water carefully to select the most appropriate pre-treatment process.

SWCC uses seawater for its operations.  What you do with the brine that is left over?

As much as we care about producing water, we also care about the environment, for multiple reasons. The primary factor is that we live in and share the same area, so we need to protect the environment next to us.  Secondly, our intake is affected by its surrounding area, and therefore we should not spoil the water next to the plant itself. We perform multiple procedures so as not to intervene with the eco-system next to the plant. We do this at SWCC and in any saline water industrial facility. For example, one standard procedure is to withdraw up to ten times the amount of water that you intend to desalinate, and discharge the extra with the brine to reduce the effect of high temperature or high salinity. We also measure the temperature of the intake and the discharged brine to make sure we protect the ecosystem next to the plant.

The newly commissioned plant in Jeddah – the Jeddah RO-3 – was built with multiple advanced measures to protect the environment –not only water intake and the brine but also energy efficiency within the building. We reduced the energy consumption through the cooling grade and the lighting system, and we are applying to multiple professional organizations to receive certificates of energy efficiency in the new building as well as in the plant.

There is a desalination plant that is constructed on a floating platform in Yanbu.  Would you describe it?

It’s one of the unique features that we have in Saudi Arabia. We have two barges, each one able to produce 25,000 cubic metres per day, that move on the west coast from Yanbu to Shuaibah to Shuqaiq or anywhere else to augment the production of a desal plant. So we move the barge from one location to the other according to the needs that may occur. The barges are stand-alone, with their own power supplied by liquid fuel.

I always hesitate to ask a parent which of his children is the favorite, but would you tell me if there are any projects that are your favorite?

All the projects I am currently overseeing are my favorite, but I’ll tell you about my dream. My dream is to have a highly reliable and very efficient desalination plant that becomes a model not just for our kingdom, Saudi Arabia, but a model worldwide. I want it to become a benchmark.

What final message would you like to leave with our readers?

The people of Saudi Arabia and the employees of the Saline Water Conversion Corporation are eager to produce water to serve the needs of anyone who lives on the planet earth. And we’re extremely happy to share our technologies and information with anyone who shares the same interest values. We believe, as the people of Saudi Arabia, that water is a commodity that should be made available to anyone who lives on the planet, regardless of his faith, regardless of his type, whether he’s human or animal or anyone else. The commercial aspect is an instrument to enable us to provide water that is necessary for life on earth. I totally believe that water is a value-related issue. It’s not a luxury item that needs to be looked at from a commercial business point of view. It’s something that has to be made available for everyone, so that anyone who lives on earth will have adequate quantity and quality of water.

Silicon QDs Could be Safe for Deep-Tissue Imaging


201306047919620BUFFALO, N.Y., Aug. 8, 2013 — Monkeys injected with large doses of silicon nanocrystals displayed no adverse health effects three months later, a promising step forward in the potential development of human biomedical imaging applications.
The University at Buffalo (UB) study with nonhuman primates suggests that the silicon nanocrystals, or quantum dots, may be a safe tool for diagnostic imaging in humans. The nanocrystals absorb and emit light in the near-IR, making them preferable over traditional fluorescence-based techniques for seeing deeper into tissue.

Bright-light emission from silicon quantum dots in a cuvette. The image is from a camera that captures the near-IR light that the quantum dots emit. The light emission shown is a pseudo color, as near-IR light does not fall in the visible spectrum. Courtesy of Folarin Erogbogbo. 

Quantum dots, or nanocrystals, are very, very promising for biomedical imaging applications, but everyone’s worried about the toxicity and what will happen to them if they degrade,” said research assistant professor Folarin Erogbogbo, co-lead author of the study. “Silicon nanocrystals can be the solution to that because they don’t contain materials like cadmium that are found in other quantum dots, and are generally considered to be nontoxic.”


The researchers tested the silicon quantum dots in rhesus macaques and mice, injecting each animal with 200 mg of the particles per kilogram of the animal’s weight. Blood tests taken for three months afterward showed no signs of toxicity in either animal, although the mice experienced inflammation and the spotty death of liver cells as a result of the silicon crystals gathering and remaining in their livers and spleens; the monkeys’ organs, however, remained normal.


Researchers capped the surface of the quantum dots with organic molecules to keep the crystals from degrading too fast, which could help explain the lack of toxicity found in the animals’ blood.


The study, a collaboration between UB, Chinese People’s Liberation Army General Hospital in China, San Jose State University, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, and Korea University in South Korea, is part of a larger body of research investigating the effect of various nanoparticles in animal models.
The study was published in ACS Nano (doi: 10.1021/nn4029234).
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Renewable Energy Closing In On Natural Gas As Second-Largest Source Of Electricity Worldwide

Renewable energy will soon beat out natural gas as the second-largest source of electricity worldwide, according to projections from the International Energy Agency.

Electricity from solar, wind, hydropower and other renewable sources will increase by 40 percent in the next five years, making up about 25 percent of the world’s energy sources by 2018. Renewables will provide the second-largest amount of global electricity by 2016, topped only by coal, the number one supplier of electricity around the world. Today, hydropower dominates the renewable energy mix, supplying 80 percent of the world’s renewable electricity, but IEA projects non-hydro sources of renewable energy will double over the next five years, comprising about 8 percent of the world’s energy sources by 2018.

Lower costs are a major contributor to the spike in renewable energy — in many developing countries in Africa and Asia (and some developed ones, like Australia) renewables like wind are actually cheaper than coal. These costs are helping drive higher levels of investment in renewable energy from developing countries looking to meet rising energy demands. Reports published earlier this month found developing countries invested a total of $112 billion in renewable energy in 2012, an increase of 19 percent from the year before. China led the way in this area, upping its investment to $67 billion — an increase of nearly a quarter compared to 2011. The total invested by countries in the Middle East and Africa was much smaller — about $12 billion — but compared to 2011, their investment surged upward by 228 percent.

But renewable energy investment isn’t growing everywhere — it’s actually dropping off in developed nations. The IEA notes that despite the renewable sector’s rapid growth, worldwide subsidies for fossil fuels are still six times higher than subsidies for renewables (the U.S.’s spending reflects the world’s average — in 2011, U.S. fossil fuel subsidies were $523 billion, about six times higher than the $88 billion spent on renewable energy). President Obama pledged in his climate speech Tuesday to double the country’s wind and solar energy and to allow enough private renewable energy development on public lands to powqer 6 million homes by 2020. But governments in Europe, meanwhile, are cutting renewable energy subsidies as austerity measures take hold

Obama also addressed coal’s role in the U.S. energy mix on Tuesday, announcing he would be imposing limits on carbon emissions from existing coal-fired power plants in the U.S., as well as stopping government financing of coal plants overseas. Despite new investments in renewables, coal still dominates the energy market in developing countries like China and India. But its hold on the market may slowly be slipping. In a draft energy strategy statement, the World Bank revealed Thursday that it would be cutting back on the number of coal plants it finances, limiting its support to “rare circumstances where there are no feasible alternatives available to meet basic energy needs and other sources of financing are absent.”

Antifreeze materials, nanoparticle inks may lead to low-cost solar energy

QDOTS imagesCAKXSY1K 8(Nanowerk News) A process combining some comparatively  cheap materials and the same antifreeze that keeps an automobile radiator from  freezing in cold weather may be the key to making solar cells that cost less and  avoid toxic compounds, while further expanding the use of solar energy.
And when perfected, this approach might also cook up the solar  cells in a microwave oven similar to the one in most kitchens.
Engineers at Oregon State University have determined that  ethylene glycol, commonly used in antifreeze products, can be a low-cost solvent  that functions well in a “continuous flow” reactor – an approach to making  thin-film solar cells that is easily scaled up for mass production at industrial  levels.
The research, just published in Material Letters (“Continuous flow mesofluidic synthesis of Cu2ZnSnS4 nanoparticle  inks”), a professional journal, also concluded this approach will work with  CZTS, or copper zinc tin sulfide, a compound of significant interest for solar  cells due to its excellent optical properties and the fact these materials are  cheap and environmentally benign.
Nanoparticles in Solar Cell
These  copper zinc tin sulfide nanoparticles help form a solar cell that could cost  less and perform well.
“The global use of solar energy may be held back if the  materials we use to produce solar cells are too expensive or require the use of  toxic chemicals in production,” said Greg Herman, an associate professor in the  OSU School of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering. “We need  technologies that use abundant, inexpensive materials, preferably ones that can  be mined in the U.S. This process offers that.”
By contrast, many solar cells today are made with CIGS, or  copper indium gallium diselenide. Indium is comparatively rare and costly, and  mostly produced in China. Last year, the prices of indium and gallium used in  CIGS solar cells were about 275 times higher than the zinc used in CZTS cells.
The technology being developed at OSU uses ethylene glycol in  meso-fluidic reactors that can offer precise control of temperature, reaction  time, and mass transport to yield better crystalline quality and high uniformity  of the nanoparticles that comprise the solar cell – all factors which improve  quality control and performance.
This approach is also faster – many companies still use “batch  mode” synthesis to produce CIGS nanoparticles, a process that can ultimately  take up to a full day, compared to about half an hour with a continuous flow  reactor. The additional speed of such reactors will further reduce final costs.
“For large-scale industrial production, all of these factors –  cost of materials, speed, quality control – can translate into money,” Herman  said. “The approach we’re using should provide high-quality solar cells at a  lower cost.”
The performance of CZTS cells right now is lower than that of  CIGS, researchers say, but with further research on the use of dopants and  additional optimization it should be possible to create solar cell efficiency  that is comparable.
Source: Oregon State University 

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Nanotechnology Helping to Recover More Oil

QDOTS imagesCAKXSY1K 8(Nanowerk News) When petroleum companies abandon an oil  well, more than half the reservoir’s oil is usually left behind as too difficult  to recover. Now, however, much of the residual oil can be recovered with the  help of nanoparticles and a simple law of physics.
Oil to be recovered is confined in tiny pores within rock, often  sandstone. Often the natural pressure in a reservoir is so high that the oil  flows upwards when drilling reaches the rocks containing the oil.
Less oil without water
In order to maintain the pressure within a reservoir, oil  companies have learned to displace the produced oil by injecting water. This  water forces out the oil located in areas near the injection point. The actual  injection point may be hundreds or even thousands of metres away from the  production well.
Eventually, however, water injection loses its effect. Once the  oil from all the easily reached pores has been recovered, water begins emerging  from the production well instead of oil, at which point the petroleum engineers  have had little choice but to shut down the well.
The petroleum industry and research community have been working  for decades on various solutions to increase recovery rates. One group of  researchers at the Centre for Integrated Petroleum Research (CIPR) in Bergen,  collaborating with researchers in China, has developed a new method for  recovering more oil from wells – and not just more, far more.
The Chinese scientists had already succeeded in recovering a  sensational 15 per cent of the residual oil in their test reservoir when they  formed a collaboration with the CIPR researchers to find out what had actually  taken place down in the reservoir. Now the Norwegian partner in the  collaboration has succeeded in recovering up to 50 per cent of the oil remaining  in North Sea rock samples.
Nanoscale traffic jams
Water in an oil reservoir flows much like the water in a river,  accelerating in narrow stretches and slowing where the path widens.
When water is pumped into a reservoir, the pressure difference  forces the water away from the injection well and towards the production well  through the tiny rock pores. These pores are all interconnected by very narrow  tunnel-like passages, and the water accelerates as it squeezes its way through  these.
The new method is based on infusing the injection water with  particles that are considerably smaller than the tunnel diameters. When the  particle-enhanced water reaches a tunnel opening, it will accelerate faster than  the particles, leaving the particles behind to accumulate and plug the tunnel  entrance, ultimately sealing the tunnel.
This forces the following water to take other paths through the  rock’s pores and passages – and in some of these there is oil, which is forced  out with the water flow. The result is more oil extracted from the production  well and higher profits for the petroleum companies.
The density gradient between particles and water slows the particles’ movement through the winding passages within the rock
Left:  The density gradient between particles and water slows the particles’ movement  through the winding passages within the rock. The particles accumulate and  consolidate at bottleneck points to block the rock pores. The pressure builds in  adjacent pores, forcing out the oil (shown in green). Right: Once the oil is  freed, the surrounding pressure drops. The blockages gradually dissolve and the  polymer particles commence flowing with the water. (Illustration: CIPR)
Elastic nanoparticles
The particles that are used are typically 100 nanometres in  diameter, or 100 times smaller than the 10-micron-wide tunnels.
The Bergen and Beijing researchers have tested a variety of  particle sizes and types to find those best suited for plugging the rock pores,  which turned out to be elastic nanoparticles made of polymer threads that  retract into coils. The particles are made from commercial polyacrylamide such  as that used in water treatment plants. Nanoparticles in solid form such as  silica were less effective.
China first with field studies
The idea for this method of oil recovery came from the two  Chinese researchers Bo Peng and Ming yuan Li who completed their doctorates in  Bergen 10 and 20 years ago, respectively. The University of Bergen and China  University of Petroleum in Beijing have been cooperating for over a decade on  petroleum research, and this laid the foundation for collaboration on  understanding and refining the particle method.
Field studies in China not only yielded more oil, but also  demonstrated that the nanoparticles indeed formed plugs that subsequently  dissolved during the water injection process. Nanoparticles were found in the  production well 500 metres away.
“The Chinese were the first to use these particles in field  studies,” says Arne Skauge, Director of CIPR. “The studies showed that they  work, but there were still many unanswered questions about how and why. At CIPR  we began to categorise the particles’ size, variation in size, and structure.”
At first it was not known if the particles could be used in  seawater, since the Chinese had done their trials with river water and onshore  oilfields. Trials in Bergen using rock samples from the North Sea showed that  the nanoparticles also work in seawater and help to recover an average of 20?30  per cent, and up to 50 per cent, more residual oil.
Centre of Excellence of great benefit to  society
The Centre for Integrated Petroleum Research (CIPR) is the only  institution for petroleum research under the Centres of Excellence (SFF) scheme.  CIPR is now supplementing its expertise on oil reservoirs with nanotechnology  know-how in seeking ways to recover residual oil.
Success could have far-reaching impacts. The state-owned  petroleum company, Statoil, is seeking to increase current recovery rates, which  range from under 50 per cent, to roughly 60 per cent.
“We hope this new method can help to raise recovery rates to  60?65 per cent,” says Mr Skauge.
Looking to field test
Now the Bergen researchers want to test out the method  large-scale.
“We’d like to try it in the North Sea and are in contact with  Statoil, but we are certainly not the only ones hoping for a chance. We are  competing with many promising methods for raising recovery rates,” explains Mr  Skauge. “That is why we may well test the method onshore in other regions, such  as the Middle East. Several actors from there have contacted us after reading  our published papers.”
Still questions unanswered
In the meantime the researchers will be learning as much as they  can about particles and pores.
“We are working hard to understand why the particles work well  in some rock types and more marginally in others,” says Kristine Spildo, project  manager at CIPR. “This is critical for determining which North Sea fields are  best suited to the method.”
Source: By Claude R. Olsen/Else Lie, Research Council of  Norway

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Solar Energy: Grid Parity In India, Italy, and More to Come in 2014

QDOTS imagesCAKXSY1K 8Deutsche Bank just released new analyses concluding that the global solar market will become sustainable on its own terms by the end of 2014, no longer needing subsidies to continue performing.



The German-based bank said that rooftop solar is looking especially robust, and sees strong demand in solar markets in India, China, Britain, Germany, India, and the United States. As a result, Deutsche Bank actually increased its forecast for solar demand in 2013 to 30 gigawatts — a 20 percent increase over 2012.

Here’s Renew Economy with a summary of Deutsche Banks’s logic:

The key for Deutsche is the emergence of unsubsidised markets in many key countries. It points, for instance, to India, where despite delays in the national solar program, huge demand for state based schemes has produced very competitive tenders, in the [12 cents per kilowatt hour] range. Given the country’s high solar radiation profile and high electricity prices paid by industrial customers, it says several conglomerates are considering large scale implementation of solar for self consumption.

Grid parity has been reached in India even despite the high cost of capital of around 10-12 percent,” Deutsche Bank notes, and also despite a slight rise  in module prices of [3 to 5 cents per kilowatt] in recent months (good for manufacturers).

Italy is another country that appears to be at grid parity, where several developers are under advanced discussions to develop unsubsidized projects in Southern Italy. Deutsche Bank says that for small commercial enterprises that can achieve 50 percent or more self consumption, solar is competitive with grid electricity in most parts of Italy, and commercial businesses in Germany that have the load profile to achieve up to 90 percent self consumption are also finding solar as an attractive source of power generation.

Deutsche bank says demand expected in subsidised markets such as Japan and the UK, including Northern Ireland, is expected to be strong, the US is likely to introduce favourable legislation, including giving solar installations the same status as real estate investment trusts, strong pipelines in Africa and the Middle east, and unexpectedly strong demand in countries such as Mexico and Caribbean nations means that its forecasts for the year are likely to rise.

As Renew Economy also points out, this is the third report in the past month anticipating a bright future for the global solar market: UBS released a report that concluded an “unsubsidized solar revolution” was in the works, “Thanks to significant cost reductions and rising retail tariffs, households and commercial users are set to install solar systems to reduce electricity bills – without any subsidies.” And Macquarie Group argued that costs for rooftop solar in Germany have fallen so far that even with subsidy cuts “solar installations could continue at a torrid pace.”

Here in America, solar power installations boomed over the course of 2011 and 2012, even as the price of solar power systems continued to plunge. To a large extent, the American solar boom has been driven by third party leasing agreements — which are heavily involved in rooftop installation.

Meanwhile, on the international scene, the cost of manufacturing solar panels in China is expected to drop to an all-new low of 42 cents per watt in 2015, and power generated from solar is predicted to undercut that produced by both coal and most forms of natural gas within a decade.

China, India Emerge as Most Promising High-Growth Markets for Solar

QDOTS imagesCAKXSY1K 8Japan, U.K., France, and South Korea also offer attractive landscape and large addressable markets, according to Lux Research‘s analysis of policy and market drivers


BOSTON, Feb 12, 2013 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Global policy changes and the crystalline silicon module price crash have brought the solar industry to a pivotal point from which it must transform and thrive in a cost-conscious environment, targeting high-growth markets such as China and India, says Lux Research.

“While some historically strong demand markets will continue to pay dividends, the real winners going forward will need to make a few well-informed bets,” said Matt Feinstein, Lux Research Analyst and the lead author of the report titled, “Past is Prologue: Market Selection Strategy in a New Solar Policy Environment.”

“Successful players will anchor business in key developed regions like the U.S., Europe, Japan, and China, and place informed bets in markets like South/Central America, the Middle East, and Africa, through new offices or partnerships,” he added.

Lux Research analyzed the risk vs. reward, based on policy and market factors, for both distributed and utility-scale solar in countries around the world. Among their findings:

— Europe shines for distributed generation. Established markets remain fruitful for distributed generation despite downturns in demand and reduced feed-in tariffs. Markets such as Germany and Italy have demonstrated a strong preference for rooftop systems and have strong existing channels to market.

— Utility-scale generation soars in emerging markets. High-growth markets come with high risks as well, but emerging economies of India, China, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia are set to become solar powers. Competition is booming in the last three in particular, and each will exceed installation targets.

— Fortune favors the bold. In solar, firms that take calculated risks and expand quickly into foreign markets will boost success, as First Solar and many Chinese module manufacturers have shown. As the Chinese industry consolidates, opportunities exist for other global players.

The report, titled “Past is Prologue: Market Selection Strategy in a New Solar Policy Environment,” is part of the Lux Research Solar Systems Intelligence service.

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SOURCE: Lux Research

Nanotechnology to boost economy … In Australia


Stain resistant clothes, medical breakthroughs, more powerful smartphones and stronger construction materials are a small part of the nanotechnology revolution that’s expected to generate $3 trillion dollars revenue globally by 2020.

Nanotechnology exploits the fact that materials behave differently at scales below about 100 nanometers, which is about 200 times smaller than the width of a human hair.

Scientists launched on Friday a national strategy for nanotechnology development.

They say development could help parts of the manufacturing industry revolutionise its products, develop new products and address the grand challenges facing the nation such as health and ageing.

Professor Chennupati Jagadish, Australian Academy of Science secretary for physical sciences, says the plan will also improve our ability to participate effectively in the Asian Century.

“Concerted effort must also be put into promoting Australian nanotechnology capability on the international stage,” he said in a statement.

The plan’s vision statement says assessments of the impact of nanotechnology on society by 2020 suggest Australia needs to invest more.

“The strong implication is that economies and industries that fail to invest in nano-inspired technology will be left behind as new products with improved or entirely new functionality replace the old,” it says.

China in particular has made nanotechnology research and funding a priority.

Nanotechnology has applications in other areas, such as improving community health, remediation of the environment, clean energy solutions and national security.

The strategy makes eight recommendations, including the setting up of mechanisms to bring industry and researchers together and national coordination by researchers to ensure it all remains on track.

Financing Remains a Challenge for Latin America in its Goal to Achieve Emerging PV Status

Developing markets 1

Developing markets 1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


by Michael Barker, Analyst

September 13, 2012

After the second day at Solar Power International 2012, it is clear that the much of the focus for downstream companies participating in the show lies not so much in exploiting domestic-US prospects, but in finding the next emerging market prospects to fuel sales channels.

With traditional European markets starting to decline in their ability to drive the global market – and China and India moving from emerging to established markets – many of the pertinent questions now revolve around where PV may succeed next and which countries will then become the emerging regions to track.

Although the rapid decline in component pricing over the past few years has been difficult for manufacturers, it has led to the ability for PV to compete on an economic basis in many new markets. One of the markets explored in concurrent sessions at SPI was the emerging Latin America region. The panelists discussed realities versus expectations in the region, the difficulty in growing a nascent market, and the lack of project financing available for all customer segments in the country.

In fact, all panelists agreed that the biggest challenge in developing markets in the region was the lack of financing for all project sizes. The region is in a tough ‘chicken vs. egg’ type of situation at the moment where financiers are holding back until viable projects can be developed. But it is taking longer to develop such projects due to the lack of financing.

However, while each of these markets faces its own set of hurdles – both economic and regulatory – the fact that PV systems can now compete on a less subsidized electricity-generation basis with retail electricity rates means that substantial growth prospects exist in these markets.