PG&E Operating Second Energy Storage System With NGK Batteries
23 May 2013
May 23 (Bloomberg) — PG&E Corp., the owner of California’s largest utility, activated its second energy-storage project, using batteries from Japanese manufacturer NGK Insulators Ltd. to balance power on the electric grid.
The Yerba Buena Battery Energy Storage System Pilot Project cost $18.1 million and went into operation this month in San Jose, California, PG&E spokesman Paul Moreno said today by e-mail. The sodium-sulfur batteries have 4 megawatts of capacity and can store electricity for more than six hours. They’re charged when power demand is low and inject it back into the grid when demand grows.
Energy storage systems will improve the reliability of the grid and help utilities integrate intermittent renewable-energy generation, PG&E said today in a statement. The San Francisco-based company operates a similar 2-megawatt battery system near its Vaca-Dixon solar plant in Solano County, California, Moreno said.
The Yerba Buena project was funded in part by a $3.3 million grant from the California Energy Commission.
on May 23, 2013
A new solar cooker design, capable of cooking food, purifying water, and powering small electronics, has just been developed by researchers at Cranfield University and COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad.
Image Credit: Cranfield University
A large number of people living in the ‘developing world’ don’t have a reliable, or cheap enough, means to heat their food and purify their water, and as a result, many people are regularly sickened/die from it. The new solar cooker should help to remedy this, according to the researchers, improving the health of many of the people living in rural communities around the world.
The new design is based around the use of “a system of mirrored strips tilted at different angles to concentrate sunlight onto an ‘absorber’ which converts the sun’s energy into useable heat. The process is known as ‘concentrating solar power’ (CSP)” — a process very familiar to those with an interest in solar energy technology. Cranfield University is widely considered to be home to the best CSP research team in the UK.
Cranfield University’s Dr Chris Sansom, the UK’s leading expert on concentrating solar power, said this about the new design: “This is a very exciting project as there are many areas of the world where solar cookers and water purifiers could impact significantly on people’s quality of life.”
In addition to being able to cook food and purify water, the new solar cooker is capable of storing heat and could generate electricity — potentially powering mobile and small-scale electronic devices, such as periodic air conditioning.
“The solar cooker was developed by COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad, with expertise from Cranfield University. It was funded by the Government of Pakistan, who recognised the need to improve the lives of those living in the remote regions of Pakistan.”
The Iowa legislature passed H.F. 640 on May 22, legislation that protects retailers from Big Oil efforts to restrict competition by guaranteeing local retailers the right to offer the ethanol and biodiesel blends of their choice...
Zack Colman - 05/23/13 02:19 PM ET
The contentious debate on whether hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, contaminates drinking water bubbled to the surface Thursday during a Senate panel discussion.
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) pressed environmentalists to name a specific site where fracking had polluted groundwater at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee natural gas roundtable.
“I keep hearing from the environmental groups that there are many examples of contamination of groundwater. And I keep hearing from the industry ... that they don’t know of a single incident," Landrieu said. "Please do not give me theories — just give me one site."
Amy Mall, senior policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), pointed to an article that indicated water pollution in Pennsylvania communities.
“There is no doubt that water has been contaminated by natural gas production,” Mall said.
But industry officials and state regulators pushed back against that claim.
“We have no reported cases” of fracking contaminating groundwater, said Barry Smitherman, chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission.
Fracking is a drilling practice that injects a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals into tight rock formations to tap hydrocarbons buried deep underground. The method has been credited with sparking a domestic energy boom.
The exchange between Landrieu and green groups underscored the long-simmering fight regarding fracking’s impact on the environment.
Industry contends the drilling method is safe, and wants states to continue regulating the practice. Environmentalists, however, maintain it pollutes groundwater and want the federal government to take a more active role in overseeing the practice..
Mall said that while the chemicals used in fracking have not shown up in groundwater supplies, there are many communities that have
May 23, 2013 at 2:53 pm by Bloomberg
By Mark Drajem
FracFocus, the website drillers use to disclose chemicals in hydraulic fracturing, is revamping its system next week to let regulators for the first time search and aggregate the information.
The industry-backed system, which is used by drillers such as Exxon Mobil Corp. and Anadarko Petroleum Corp., is resolving a criticism from environmental groups by converting the online information into a database of chemicals used in individual wells that can be analyzed, said Stan Belieu, deputy director of the Nebraska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, who testified on behalf of FracFocus today at a Senate forum.
“The improvements that are going to be made to FracFocus will be a substantial improvement,” Mark Brownstein, associate vice president of the Environmental Defense Fund, said today at the Senate forum on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. For regulators, “this helps them target resources and enforcement.”
Father of fracking: Gov. Perry honors shale pioneer George Mitchell
FracFocus is a voluntary registry of the chemicals used in fracking. Of 18 states that require companies to disclose their chemicals, 11 require or allow the reporting to be on FracFocus. The Bureau of Land Management proposed last week that it would use the system for drillers on federal lands.
The online registry, created in April 2011, has collected and published its information in online document form. To analyze that information across wells would require the user to extract and enter the data into their own database, Belieu said today.
As of June 1, all information must be submitted, and can be accessed, in a database, he said. Each state will determine how much information, and in which form, it will be available.
Regulations: Feds make concessions to oil industry in new hydraulic fracturing rule
Susanne Retka Schill | May 23, 2013
CME Group is pleased with the interest generated in its new renewable identification numbers (RINs) futures contracts. In addition to the first trades of D6 ethanol RINs reported earlier, the commodities trading exchange reported that 60 lots of D5 advanced biofuels RINs were traded earlier this week. The broker was Starsupply Commodity Brokers.
With each lot representing 50,000 RINs, the 60 D5 contracts represent 4.5 million gallons of advanced biofuels. One gallon of advanced biofuel receives 1.5 RINs credits. “The fact we’ve had 3 million D5 RINs means we’ve achieved a much higher level than we thought possible in the first two weeks,” said Dan Brusstar, senior director of energy research and product development. While new futures contracts typically start off small, he added, “so far we’ve had pretty active trading.”
The CME Group began offering three RINs contracts on May 13: D4 biodiesel, D5 advanced biofuel and D6 ethanol. Contracts are being offered monthly, and provide the flexibility for companies to do a quarterly or even annual string. “Each month we will do a final settlement based on Argus Media assessments,” Brusstar explained. The contract for 2012-vintage RINs will be open until February 2014, 2013-vintage RINs will trade up to February of 2015, and 2014-vintage RINs will be open until February 2016.
The increased value of RINs, which is currently around 85 cents for D6 ethanol RINS, 95 cents for D5 advanced biofuel RINs and 95 cents for D4 biodiesel RINs, creates a situation where blenders and obligated parties have a greater incentive to use the new futures for risk management. Most of the companies likely to be interested in using the new risk management tool for hedging RINs values are already trading gasoline or ethanol futures, Brusstar pointed out. And, many of the brokers currently facilitating trades...
18:36 UK, 22nd May 2013, by Agrimoney
A jump in ethanol production to the highest in 11 month, coupled with a rash of buying by feed users, spurred a jump in corn prices on Wednesday, which lifted prices of other crops too.
Corn for July delivery hit $6.57 a bushel at one point, a rise of 2.7%, after official data showed US ethanol production soaring 18,000 barrels a day to 875,000 barrels a day last week, the highest figure since June last year.
Data on inventories showed demand for the biofuel too, with stocks falling by 247,000 barrels to 16.18m barrels, the lowest since November 2010, and in fact within 150,000 barrels of setting the lowest on record.
The extent of the rise in production was seen as down to improved production margins, given the lower corn prices that have prevailed since the US in late March revealed that its inventories of the grain were far higher than had been thought.
A strong pace of new crop plantings, in boosting production ideas, depressed corn values over the past week.
Large export deals
The ethanol data extended a rally in corn prices fuelled by the US Department of Agriculture's announcement of 540,000 tonnes of corn export sales, for the 2013-14 marketing year.
Of the total, 360,000 tonnes were bought by China, a sensitive market, given the extent of its demand, which is spurring ideas that it has turned into a growing and structural importer of the grain.
Furthermore, feed buyers were also believed to have stepped in to buy at prices among their lowest since June, and with the potential for a late harvest, after delayed sowings, elongating reliance on thin corn supplies left over from the drought-hit 2012 harvest.
"The ethanol guys, with their improved margins, have been taking corn away from the feed guys, who have had no alternative but to come back in and buy corn," Roy Huckabay, vice-president at Linn Group, the Chicago broker,
Ben Geman - 05/23/13 11:26 AM ET
Two dozen Senate Republicans are warning President Obama not to link “wholly unrelated” climate change policies to approval of the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.
“You should approve the Keystone XL pipeline project on its merits alone without suddenly moving the goalposts after more than four years of review by tethering its fate to wholly unrelated and economically disastrous new regulatory policies,” states the new letter to Obama led by Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.).
Rumors have long swirled that if Obama approves Keystone, he might link approval to policies aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon standards for the nation’s existing power plants.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who opposes Keystone, told reporters in April that if Obama green-lights the pipeline, he should combine the action with other climate policy steps — comments that the Republicans flagged in their new letter.
“If they are determined to go down that path, and they can’t be dissuaded, then the important thing is to make sure that they surround that decision ... [with] a whole formidable array of environmental and anti-carbon measures that can not just offset the harm that they do by approving [Keystone] ... but actually turn the whole package into a very strong, anti-carbon pollution suite of strategies,” Whitehouse said.
The Obama administration is reviewing whether to issue a permit for TransCanada Corp.’s proposed pipeline, which would bring oil from Alberta’s oil sands projects across the border en route to Gulf Coast refineries.
Republicans who signed the letter — a group that includes Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the rest of the Senate GOP leadership team — say the Keystone decision should proceed on its own.
“We strongly urge you not to expand the scope of...
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