May 23, 2013 Nathan
Around 85,000 households in the Northwest could be powered every month by the energy that could be stored deep underground in the region’s porous rock, according to new research. By utilizing such an energy storage solution, the region’s substantial wind energy resources could be put to full use.
The work, done by researchers at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Bonneville Power Administration, has identified two practical methods for putting this energy storage approach into practice, and also two very well-suited locations in Eastern Washington.
The compressed air energy storage solution is an extremely appealing one for the region because of the abundant wind energy potential there. This energy is often generated at night when the winds in the region are strongest. Unfortunately, energy demands are lowest at that time. So, a means of being able to produce maximum amounts of energy when the potential is highest and simply save this energy for later use is very appealing. One significant advantage of the compressed air solution is that such plants can be designed to switch between energy storage and power generation very quickly — within minutes.
“With Renewable Portfolio Standards requiring states to have as much as 20 or 30 percent of their electricity come from variable sources such as wind and the sun, compressed air energy storage plants can play a valuable role in helping manage and integrate renewable power onto the Northwest’s electric grid,” said Steve Knudsen, who managed the study for the BPA.
The press release gets into the details:
All compressed air energy storage plants work under the same basic premise. When power is abundant, it’s drawn from the electric grid and used to power a large air compressor, which pushes pressurized
May 23, 2013 at 11:45 am by Jeannie Kever
After years of declining greenhouse gas emissions, Texas and other states reported sharply higher levels of carbon dioxide in 2012 as electric generating plants began to use more coal when natural gas prices began to rise, according to a study released Thursday.
The Environmental Integrity Project reported that Texas led the nation in carbon dioxide emissions from power plants in 2012, releasing 251 million tons.
Florida had the next highest emissions, at 120 million tons.
In all, just five states accounted for one-third of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, said Eric Schaeffer, director of the Environmental Integrity Project, which produced the report using data from the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Energy Information Agency.
Other states in the top five include Pennsylvania, Indiana and Ohio.
Schaeffer said 2013 levels are likely to be higher as power generators use coal to produce electricity as natural gas prices continue to rise from historic low levels in 2012.
He noted that the electric power sector produces about 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.
Natural gas has been credited with helping drop emissions without regulations. Emissions dropped about 13 percent between 2005 and 2012, Schaeffer said; that compares with legislation calling for a decrease of 17 percent by 2020, with provisions allowing for offsets and trading of credits. That measure failed in Congress.
“So 13 percent by 2012 sounds pretty good,” Schaeffer said.
But he said coal-fired generation nationally is up 13 percent compared with the first quarter of 2012, driven by higher natural gas prices.
Natural gas dipped below $2 per million British thermal units in 2012 but has since recovered somewhat, hovering above $4 recently.
Robbie Searcy, a spokeswoman for the Electric
Committee on Climate Change says the sooner the UK invests in low-carbon power generation the cheaper it will be
Fiona Harvey, environment correspondent
guardian uk, Thursday 23 May 2013 07.00 BST
Many on the right of the Tory party have been clamouring for an end to onshore windfarms. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA
Investing in new renewable power generation, rather than a "dash for gas", will be the lower-cost option for keeping the lights on while cutting greenhouse gas emissions, the government's climate change watchdog has said.
The sooner the UK makes large investments in low-carbon generation – including offshore and onshore wind, nuclear power and energy from waste – the cheaper it will be, according to David Kennedy, chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the statutory body that advises ministers on meeting emissions targets.
The conclusions are likely to be controversial, as many MPs on the right of the Tory party have been clamouring for an end to onshore windfarms and reductions in renewable subsidies.
They would prefer to see a new "dash for gas" that would require the UK to massively expand shale gas drilling and import tens of billions of pounds worth of fuel each year as North Sea reserves run down. They point to lower gas prices in the US that have resulted from the aggressive pursuit of shale resources.
The CCC's analysis found that investing in renewable energy made sense even if the price of gas was relatively low. Previous analysis by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) relied on scenarios of large increases in the gas price to make renewables and other forms of low-carbon power, such as nuclear, more economic.
Kennedy told the Guardian: "Not investing in renewables only makes sense if you don't want to meet our emissions targets – if you tear up the Climate Change Act."
That is precisely what some on the rightwing of
Wisconsin firms, utility commission Wyoming energy storage system
By Thomas Content of the Journal Sentinel
May 22, 2013
Two Wisconsin companies are teaming up on a smart grid demonstration project for a utility in western Wyoming.
The utility, Lower Valley Electric Cooperative, worked with Facility Gateway Corp. of McFarland to commission an energy storage system built by ZBB Energy Corp. of Menomonee Falls.
Facility Gateway provides services for data centers that include finding ways to make them more energy efficient. ZBB is a developer of power electronics and energy storage systems.
The Wyoming project aims to combine solar and wind power generation with utility-scale lead acid batteries, integrated with the ZBB system. The goal: to help overcome the variable output of renewable energy systems, said Warren Jones, Lower Valley distribution engineer, in a statement.
The bank of batteries will be used to help provide power output during times of peak power demand, he said.
For Menomonee Falls-based ZBB, the project offers it a chance to prove its technology can work in conjunction with utilities, as well as at customers that seek to generate all of their own power on-site.
The use of lead-acid batteries rather than ZBB’s zinc-bromide flow batteries “demonstrates that the ZBB EnerSection can work with multiple types of storage and that no one storage type is the definitive product for all applications and markets,” ZBB chief executive Eric Apfelbach said in a prepared statement.
Suppliers follow Wal-Mart’s lead to reduce carbon emissions
Posted on 05/23/2013 by ClimateWire
22 May 2013
The Environmental Protection Agency has announced proposed Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) amendments and clarifications, which include new pathway determinations for advanced biofuels such as isobutanol and ethanol from crop residues.
The EPA proposal also includes “various changes to the E15 misfueling mitigation regulations (E15 MMR) which are minor technical corrections and amendments to sections dealing with labeling, E15 surveys, product transfer documents, and prohibited acts” as well as changes to the survey requirements associated with the ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) program.
EPA is proposing to allow renewable diesel, renewable naphtha, and renewable electricity (used in electric vehicles) produced from landll biogas to generate cellulosic or advanced biofuel RINs. Renewable compressed natural gas (CNG)/liquified natural gas (LNG) produced from landfill biogas are also proposed to generate cellulosic RINs. EPA is also proposing to allow butanol that meets the 50% GHG emission reduction threshold to qualify as advanced biofuel. The rulemaking also proposes a clarication regarding the definition of crop residue to include corn kernel ber and proposes an approach to determining the volume of cellulosic renewable identication numbers (RINs) produced from various cellulosic feedstocks. Further, this proposal discusses and seeks comment on the potential to allow for commingling of compliant products at the retail facility level as long as the environmental performance of the commingled fuels would not be detrimental. The action also addresses “nameplate capacity” issues for certain production facilities that do not claim exemption from the 20% GHG reduction threshold. Several other amendments to the RFS program are included.
“This proposed rulemaking package is essentially a collection of ‘housekeeping amendments’ that will address several odds and
Regulation of Fuels and Fuel Additives: RFS Pathways II and Technical Amendments to the RFS 2 Standards
EPA Proposes Wide Range of Changes to RFS
Environmental Protection Agency proposes modification to RFS to include new pathway for isobutanol, clarify eligibility for ethanol from crop residues
Compiled by staff
Published: May 23, 2013
The Environmental Protection Agency this week proposed a host of edits to the Renewable Fuels Standard, ranging from new allowances for RIN generation to changing the definition of crop residue to produce ethanol.
The proposed rule, EPA said, will improve implementation of the RFS and facilitate the introduction of new renewable fuels.
Specifically, EPA is proposing to allow renewable diesel produced from landfill biogas to generate advanced biofuel Renewable Identification Numbers. The rule also proposes to clarify the definition of crop residue to include corn kernel fiber.
The rule also offers several other changes, including proposing a new approach to determining how many cellulosic RINs are produced from the varying cellulosic feedstocks and suggests technical corrections to E15 misfueling mitigation regulations.
According to Brent Erickson, executive vice president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the quick action on proposed RFS changes will allow companies to keep making investments in the bio industry.
“Finalization of new pathways will clear the way for companies to bring innovative technologies to the marketplace," Erickson said. "Delays can determine whether these companies succeed or fail and whether investors remain confident. We look forward to working with EPA to rapidly finalize these new rules.”
To view the entire proposed rule, click here. The proposed rule was signed May 20, and has been submitted to the federal register for public comment.
Sam Gustin May 23, 2013
Tesla Motors has done right by U.S. taxpayers.
The fast-growing electric car company has repayed the entire $465 million loan it received from the U.S. Department of Energy, in a vindication for company co-founder Elon Musk, the billionaire mogul and rocket-ship enthusiast. The loan repayment, made nine years ahead of schedule, was completed Wednesday when Tesla wired $451.8 million to the federal government.
Tesla’s loan was part of the government’s 2010 Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program, a $25 billion fund authorized by Congress, signed by President George W. Bush, and awarded under President Obama. The loan program, which was separate from the U.S. auto bailouts to GM and Chrysler under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), was designed to get fuel-efficient vehicles to consumers faster.
With its loan payment, made using a portion of the $1 billion it raised last week in a stock and debt offering, Tesla becomes the only American car manufacturer in the DOE program to have fully repaid the government, the company said. “Today’s repayment is the latest indication that the Energy Department’s portfolio of more than 30 loans is delivering big results for the American economy while costing far less than anticipated,” U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a statement. “Today, Tesla employs more than 3,000 American workers and is living proof of the power of American innovation.”
The loan repayment is a major victory for Tesla, which was branded as a “loser” company by Mitt Romney during his unsuccessful 2012 Republican presidential campaign. “I would like to thank the Department of Energy and the members of Congress and their staffs that worked hard to create the ATVM program, and particularly the American taxpayer from whom these funds originate,” Musk said in a statement. “I hope we did you proud.”
Founded in 2003, Tesla was
May 23, 2013 Zachary Shahan
As solar and wind power grow, rich but out of date industries such as the coal and nuclear industries are beginning to quiver. Naturally, with buildings full of money, they’re also fighting back and paying others to fight back. They’re struggling to survive. One way they are doing so is by attacking every incentive for clean, renewable energy that they can. State renewable energy policies have been a particular focus of attack as of late. One of the closest battles along these lines was recently held in North Carolina. Luckily for us, renewable energy won. Here’s an email I just received from the Solar Energy Industries Association (image added & two notes included at the end):
Today, the sun is shining brightly in North Carolina. Thanks to you – and a lot of hard work on the ground – attempts to pass the “Job Killing, Anti-Growth and Keep NC Dependent on Foreign Oil Act” have failed!
This wouldn’t have happened without the efforts of solar supporters in North Carolina and around the nation — and the Solar Power Advocacy Network, which deserves a special shout out. Your voices make a huge difference. Please encourage your friends and collegues to join now. We want to express our sincere appreciation to everyone who took time to call, write or sign our online petition.
Because of smart policies like North Carolina’s Renewable Energy and Energy Portfolio Standards (REPS), solar offers real hope for the future by reducing our nation’s dangerous dependence on fossil fuels and by helping to fight pollution.
Sadly, these policies are under assault in state capitols around the nation. But working together, we can – and we will – make a real difference for America.
Today, solar is generating enough electricity to power more than 1.2 million American homes – and right now a solar-powered airplane is making the first ever coast-to-coast flight in U.S. history.
Energy-rich Colorado becomes setting for fracking fight
Weekly U.S. Fuel Ethanol/Livestock Feed Production
Jeff Wilson - May 22, 2013 2:27 PM MT
Corn futures jumped the most in a week as demand rose for exports from the U.S., the world’s biggest shipper, and inventory of grain-based ethanol dropped to the lowest since November 2010. Wheat and soybeans gained.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported sales of a combined 540,000 metric tons of corn to China and unknown destinations for delivery in the 12 months that start Sept. 1. Ethanol output rose to the highest in 11 months, and stockpiles dropped for the fourth straight week, government data showed.
Supplies of ethanol, a gasoline additive, “are now as low as they usually are coming out of the end of the driving season in late August,” Jerry Gidel, the chief grain-market analyst at Rice Dairy LLC in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “There is little reason to expect production to slow as U.S. driving demand will increase demand the next several months.”
Corn futures for July delivery rose 2.9 percent to settle at $6.585 a bushel at 1:15 p.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade, the biggest gain for a most-active contract since May 13.
U.S. supplies of the grain left from last year are forecast to fall to the lowest since 1996 before the 2013 harvest, the government said on May 10.
Wheat futures for July delivery advanced 1.2 percent to $6.885 a bushel, the biggest gain since May 9, partly on signs of increasing use in livestock feedstock.
“Wheat is a cheaper feed alternative to corn on a per-pound and protein basis,” Dave Marshall, a farm-marketing adviser at Toay Commodity Futures Group LLC in Nashville, Illinois, said in a telephone interview. “Wheat supplies are not positioned where mills and exporters need them, and because of the shortage of corn, there is increased feed demand.”
Soybean futures for July delivery climbed 1.1 percent to $14.9425 a bushel. The price rose for the
On time and on budget, Monea says
By Bruce Johnstone, Leader-Post May 22, 2013
After more than a decade of study, over a billion dollars of investment, a few missteps and a couple of surprises, SaskPower's $1.24-billion Integrated Carbon Capture and Storage project at Boundary Dam's Unit 3 is on schedule and on budget, a CCS symposium was told here Tuesday.
And SaskPower wants to share the lessons learned from the world's first commercial-scale clean coal project through a global consortium of businesses, government agencies, research groups, educational institutions and environmental organizations with an interest in CCS.
"It is the world's first commercially based carbon capture facility for a power (generating) unit,'' SaskPower president and CEO Robert Watson said. "What we want to do (with the consortium) is bring Boundary Dam to the world.''
To that end, about 100 delegates from a dozen countries are attending the three-day Carbon Capture and Storage Information and Planning Symposium, which includes a tour of the Boundary Dam Unit 3 project in Estevan on Wednesday.
Following completion of the construction phase, testing of BD3 will begin this fall, Watson said. When fully operational in April 2014, BD3 will reduce 90 per cent of the CO2 emissions from Unit 3, or one million tonnes of CO2 per year, which is equivalent to taking 250,000 vehicles off the road for a year.
The million tonnes of CO2 captured by BD3 will be sold to Cenovus and shipped by pipeline to the Weyburn area, where it will be used in the Alberta-based company's CO2 enhanced oil recovery project.
Mike Monea, president of carbon capture and storage initiatives for SaskPower, said the CCS project, which is about 70 per cent complete, should meet its capital budget of $1.24 billion.
"I want to hit that target," Monea said after his presentation to the symposium. "I'd like to be below if I can."
Officials promote Sask. carbon capture project
Posted: May 21, 2013 9:13 PM CST
Last Updated: May 21, 2013 10:08 PM CST
A project aimed at reducing harmful emissions from a coal-fired power plant in Saskatchewan is the focus of a government-sponsored symposium.
The Boundary Dam, near Estevan, is home to SaskPower's most important electricity generating station.
The facility burns coal to spin the turbines which produce electricity and tonnes of greenhouse gases in the process.
Saskatchewan's carbon capture technology is being tested at the plant in a project estimated to cost about $1.24 billion.
"This one facility that is being constructed right now will be the equivalent of taking off the road about 250,000 vehicles," Bill Boyd, the provincial minister responsible for the venture, said Tuesday. "So that's pretty significant. And then the next ones after that could add obviously to that total."
The project is expected to be up and running by this fall with a final completion date set for April, 2014.
Saskatchewan work in the area was recently promoted by Premier Brad Wall, during a visit to Pittsburgh May 9.
"We have a great story to tell," Wall said just before leaving, calling the technology a potential "game-changer for countries that are still going to have coal in the mix."
Wall was also asked about the ongoing controversy surrounding the University of Regina's oversight of carbon capture research on its campus.
Wall praised the research work, but added some of the issues at the U of R were serious.
Wall noted the issues included sole-sourced contracts and conflicts of interest.
According to the government, more than 60 representatives from governments and organizations from 12 countries are in the province to learn about SaskPower's carbon capture project.
The symposium runs for three days.
May 22, 2013 at 3:49 pm by Emily Pickrell
The United States’ newfound energy prosperity unleashed by shale discoveries should be used for energy security rather than energy independence, according to a report released by Deloitte on Tuesday.
The relatively new abundance of shale-sourced energy has left many believing that it could set the United States on a course to energy independence. As oil production from domestic shale plays has surged, imports have dropped from 60 percent of the nation’s oil supply in 2005 to less than 40 percent today, Deloitte author Joseph Stanislaw wrote in the report.
But Stanislaw cautioned that nation’s shale resources are finite and should be used in part to finance longer-term investment in renewable energy.
“We are in a world of energy abundance, not energy scarcity. But abundance doesn’t mean that we should make mistakes,” Stanislaw told FuelFix. “Abundance means we have the time to make alternative investments, both from the private sector and through government involvement.”
Shale effect: Global oil boom forcing Saudi Arabia to cut oil production
While the U.S. arguably could produce enough energy to sustain itself, its economic and geopolitical ties to the rest of the world make energy independence meaningless, Stanislaw wrote. The danger of climate change and the impact of increased carbon use throughout the world will affect the entire globe. Renewable energy could be the answer to both these issues, providing both economic wealth and a long-term energy future for the country, Stanislaw said.
While knowledge of shale oil and the hydraulic fracturing technology have existed for decades, recent technology advancements have driven the boom, and Stanislaw expects that it is new technology that will make renewable energy advances more achievable.
There are several ways the federal government can speed up the
Joe Romm on May 22, 2013 at 12:30 pm
Dr. Ernest Moniz was sworn in as the new Energy Secretary this week. Last week, the previous Secretary, Dr. Steven Chu, gave an interview to Stanford where he is returning as a physics professor.
The Nobel laureate was asked “What’s the No. 1 problem on your list?” His answer:
Climate change. We’re heading into an era where if we don’t change what we’re doing, we’re going to be fundamentally in really deep trouble. We’re already in trouble. So we have to transition to better solutions.
We’re not too far away from producing a lot of renewable energy, and doing it cheaply. Solar power is going to become cheaper and cheaper – costs have plummeted three-fold in six years, partly because of the dropping price of modules and electronics. Wind energy is within 15 percent of the cost of new natural gas energy, and the DOE predicts that that cost will cross over within one or two decades, so we need to start to plan the transition system that can conduct more wind energy.
But right now, we’re not prepared. As technology continues to race forward – battery technology has advanced faster in the past five years than what I’ve seen in the [previous] 15 years – we need policy to guide and anticipate development. It takes decades to change things like infrastructure, and so people have to think about that today. Otherwise, progress slows down, and we emit more carbon and get into more trouble environmentally.
Back in 2009, Chu said “Wake up,” America, “we’re looking at a scenario where there’s no more agriculture in California.”
Chu did keep talking about climate change in the past 4 years, but neither the media nor the White House were paying much attention. And so we are “already in trouble” with much, much worse to come if we don’t act now.
Katie Valentine on May 22, 2013 at 3:45 pm
China is taking steps to tackle its huge carbon output. Today, the country announced the details of its first carbon trading program, which will begin in the city of Shenzhen next month. The southern city is one of seven cities and provinces, including Beijing, which will take part in the pilot program, set to be completely implemented by 2014.
And according to one local news source, China could implement an absolute, nation-wide cap on its carbon emissions by 2016. China’s 21st Century Business Herald reported this week that the country’s State Council still needs to approve the carbon cap proposal submitted by the National Development and Reform Commission, a government entity that controls much of the Chinese economy. The proposal, which the State Council is reportedly likely to support, would ensure China’s emissions would not increase past the country’s target cap, regardless of economic growth — though it’s still unclear what that cap would be. The paper reported that the NDRC also predicts China’s greenhouse gas emissions will peak in 2025, rather than 2030, as earlier predictions stated.
If the cap is adopted, it would be a major step for the world’s top CO2 emitter, which desperately needs to slow its carbon production. China is experiencing the world’s fastest growth in energy production and CO2 emissions, while production and emissions in the U.S. and Europe are flat-lining or decreasing. China uses 47 percent of the world’s coal, a number that’s only going up: in 2011, China’s coal consumption grew by 9 percent, accounting for 87 percent of the world’s 374 million ton increase in coal consumption that year.
The country’s emissions aren’t just a major contributor to climate change worldwide — they’re causing serious local problems as well. In Beijing, pollution has reached record levels, topping 775 in January — a number
May 22, 2013 5:35 PM MDT Updated: May 22, 2013 5:36 PM MDT
By Jack Gerfen, Weekend Weather/News Reporter
ST. JAMES, Minn. -
With the holiday weekend almost here, and two refineries down in the Chicago area, the price of regular unleaded is historically high statewide.
When gas is this high, many think about filling up with E85. E85 prices around the area range from 50 to over 80 cents cheaper than the price of regular unleaded, and in some places closer to a dollar cheaper.
E85 is 85% ethanol, 15% gasoline and can be used for vehicles whose engines are designed for it. Vehicles that use it may have an emblem on the rear of the vehicle that says Flex Fuel, if not, the gas cap is usually yellow with E85 on it.
Since it has become more popular, many engines are able to run the corn blend in new vehicles.
"It's not the first question they ask, but as we go through the process, yeah, it comes up to ask if its capable of burning both fuels the E85 and regular unleaded and I think a lot of times it does kind of add into the equation when they start making their choice," says Mark Nibbe, Sales Manager at Lager's Chrysler World.
E85 is cheaper than regular gas because the ethanol blend is cheaper. Its price is determined from supply of the corn and refinement. It's also home grown.
"It helps the entire state of Minnesota because our ethanol in Minnesota comes from Minnesota and we talk about it as being cleaner, renewable, and home grown and it provides economic activity and jobs and so on in the state of Minnesota," says Dale Busch, Regional Representative for Minnesota Corn Growers Association.
Busch says that while E85 is less efficient, a spread of around 40 cents is the break even point, but it does depend on the vehicle.
Gas prices look to remain high through the holiday weekend due to the start of the summer driving months and