Friday, December 29, 2017

Cold Snap Makes New England the World's Priciest Gas Market

We've all clung to the believe that natural gas is a "good bridge fuel".  One that would painlessly, through clean burn and better pricing, shuffle us from large-scale use of fossil fuel to renewables.  Now we look at the exploding prices of natural gas this winter, driven, of course by high demand in the upper US states, and we think...mmmm, maybe not.

We need a better system of consistent pricing around energy.  Wild fluctuations hurt everyone.  Cold weather should not double the expense to heat or power our buildings.

Yet, importation of our principle fuels will lead to market uncertainty.  By investing and using local sources of power, combined with energy storage and smart grid technology, we can build a much more dependable, user-friendly system.

  • Heating fuel use jumps 31% as Chicago faces sub-zero readings
  • Northeast prices more than triple, hitting early 2015 levels

Nothing like a cold spell to boost the nation’s natural gas demand, and cost.
Forecasts now indicate this week’s outbreak will be stronger than anticipated, with Chicago seeing sub-zero readings. In New England, spot prices more than tripled to the highest in over three years and turned the region into the world’s priciest market.
Total U.S. gas consumption jumped 31 percent to 115.7 billion cubic feet on Tuesday from Friday. That’s the most ever for this time of year in PointLogic Energy data back to 2007. Not only have more homes converted to the fuel from oil in Connecticut through Maine, the region’s generators are more reliant on gas to produce electricity than anywhere else in the country.
“Gas prices for tomorrow are extremely volatile and high,” said John Borruso, director of natural gas trading at Con Edison Energy in Valhalla, New York. “This is truly a gas demand driven event because the temperatures are so cold and it’s still December. 
The market is set up in a certain way in December, it’s not prepared.”Gas for next-day delivery on Enbridge’s Algonquin city gate in New England, including Boston, settled at $35.35 per million British thermal units on the Intercontinental Exchange on Tuesday. Algonquin gas last rose that high in February 2014 during the polar vortex.
The broader gas market doesn’t seem worried that the big jump in demand this week will create a supply crunch later in winter. Gas futures for January delivery fell 0.9 percent to settle Tuesday at $2.643 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, down 28 percent from a year ago. The contracts traded at $2.623 by 10 a.m. London time Wednesday.
“I’m not sure as it gets cold if prices will go higher,” Borruso said. That’s because many Northeast generators have dual fuel capabilities and it may be cheaper to start burning oil instead. Fuel switching makes sense in New England when gas is around $14 per million Btu and that drops to around $10.50 or $11 in New York, he said. “It’s going to be an interesting week.”

Only once has America seen more billion-dollar weather disasters/

At a time when when President Trump is dismissing evidence of climate change against a back drop of colder US temperatures this winter, we see growing reports of turbulence in our weather systems and costly event battering the US.

The solution, in our view, is to make the right smart investments to allow for a robust economy and high quality of life while preserving natural capital.

THE UNITED STATES recorded 15 weather events costing $1 billion or more each through early October, one short of the record 16 in 2011. Above, damage in Providence caused by Hurricane Irene in 2011. / PBN FILE PHOTO/FRANK MULLIN

In the year that President Donald Trump pulled out of the Paris accord and downplayed global warming as a security threat, the U.S. received a harsh reminder of the perils of the rise in the planet’s temperature: a destructive rash of hurricanes, fires and floods.
The country recorded 15 weather events costing $1 billion or more each through early October, one short of the record 16 in 2011, according to the federal government’s National Centers for Environmental Information in Asheville, North Carolina. And the tally doesn’t include the recent wildfires in southern California.
In many cases, weather broke records. In others, it was just downright odd, like the February warm spell that sent temperatures to a record 72 Fahrenheit (22 Celsius) in Burlington, Vermont, and spawned a tornado in Massachusetts.
“When all is said and done, this year is going to be one of the worst years on record for U.S. damages,” said Antonio Busalacchi, president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.
Among the most devastating events were hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and wildfires in northern California. The killer storms caused economic losses of more than $210 billion in the U.S. and across the Caribbean, and about $100 billion in insured damages, according to Mark Bove, a senior research scientist with Munich Reinsurance America in Princeton, New Jersey.
The list goes on -- ruinous hail in Colorado and Minnesota, tornado outbreaks across the Midwest and South, flooding that damaged a massive dam in California and triggered evacuations downstream. A lake-effect snowband off Lake Erie dumped 34 inches of snow at Pennsylvania’s Erie International Airport on Christmas Day, quadrupling the previous record from 2002, according to the Weather Channel. A warming climate can bring an increase in lake-effect snow, according to NOAA.
Many of the events can be explained by historical weather patterns. The most calamitous, though, showed signs of a warming climate, including Hurricane Harvey, which dropped as much as 60 inches of rain as it meandered around the Texas coast after coming ashore as the first of three Category 4 storms to strike the U.S. this year.
Warming worsened Harvey’s impacts by boosting moisture in the atmosphere and weakening high-altitude winds that would normally push such a system along, according to Kerry Emanuel, a professor of atmospheric science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. Harvey marked the third-straight year of major flooding in Houston.
In Texas and elsewhere, “there are certainly indications that these extreme rainfall events are occurring more frequently,” said Greg Carbin, branch chief at the U.S. Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.
Those who are skeptical that climate change is a phenomenon, or that human activity is to blame, contend that dramatic weather this year was happenstance or part of larger, regular meteorological swings. Trump, who has in the past dismissed the concept of man-made climate change as a hoax, announced in June that the U.S. would leave the Paris climate accord, saying it favors other nations at the expense of American workers.
The overwhelming consensus among scientists is that Earth’s climate is warming and that greenhouse gases are the prime reason. The American Meteorological Society linked changing climate and severe weather this month in a report that included contributions from researchers at the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“When you see an extreme event that is breaking all records, it is more likely to have the fingerprints of human-induced climate change,” said Brenda Ekwurzel, senior climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Earlier this year, rain and snow that brought life to California hills parched by six years of drought foretold dangerous times. The moisture produced a bumper crop of grass and brush that then dried out, leaving ample fuel for wind-driven flames that burned large swaths of Napa and Sonoma counties in October and Santa Barbara and Ventura counties this month.
“Prolonged drought and warming temperatures in California are not just extending the state’s wildfire season, they are increasing the evaporation rate of water,” Bove said. “This means that extreme wildfire conditions will return to California after a rain event more quickly today than in the past.”
At least 40 people died in the fires, some of which were among the top 20 most destructive in state history, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The Thomas fire, now almost contained, set a record as the largest ever in the state.
While other countries suffered intense and unprecedented weather in 2017, the range and number of incidents across America put it in its own league, said Bob Henson, a meteorologist at at Weather Underground in Boulder, Colorado. “The U.S. took a disproportionate hit.”
© Copyright 2017 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Top 10 Sustainable Business Stories of 2017


2. The deadly costs of climate change became even more obvious.
This year, the science got clearer about the connection between extreme weather and human-caused climate change. And that extreme weather was horrifying. Record-setting storms, floods, and drought-driven fires wreaked havoc around the world. Flooding in South Asia killed more than 1,200 people. Asia also experienced shocking heat, including a day in Pakistan that hit nearly 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Hurricane Harvey hit Houston hard (the before-and-after flooding picturesare mind-boggling), and the national weather service added colors to flood maps to reflect the record 30 inches of rain that fell. Hurricane Irma demolished Caribbean islands, and Hurricane Maria created an economic and humanitarian disaster in Puerto Rico. As of this writing, months after the storm, a third of the island is still without power, and 10% of these U.S. citizens have no water. On the U.S. mainland, unprecedented wildfires ripped through Napa and central California, as well as Los Angeles County.
These extreme weather events are primarily human tragedies, but they’re economic and business disasters as well. When entire regions are under water or lose power for months, it’s not good for local and national economies. In fact, the economic cost of extreme weather is vast and rising. In the 1980s, 27 weather events cost the U.S. more than $1 billion each (in today’s dollars). A little more than halfway through the current decade, we’ve already experienced 89 billion-dollar events, and they’re much, much larger. Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and the big trio of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria this year are all $50 billion to $100 billion storms.
3. The Trump administration started dismantling environmental protections.
In the U.S., the new administration’s policy goes beyond pulling out of Paris. We’re seeing an all-out assault on our air, water, climate, and land. The EPA head, Scott Pruitt, spent years suing the agency and essentially intends on dismantling it. Pruitt and Trump, with assists from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, are working to, for example:
Bi-partisan groups of former energy commissioners and EPA heads have spoken out against every move. And while many companies may hope to save money in the short run with fewer regulatory hurdles, it’s also clear that an unhealthier environment is not great for businesses, its customers, its communities, or its employees in the long term.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Climate, Clean Tech, and the Environment/Harvard Business Review

Over the next few days, we'll bring you the top stories in sustainability as listed by HBR:

1. U.S. leaders from the public and private sectors rejected Trump’s decision on the Paris accord and committed to climate action.
On the day of the president’s announcement about the Paris climate accord, 25 multinationals — including Apple, Facebook, Google, HPE, Ingersoll Rand, Intel, Microsoft, PG&E, Tiffany, and Unilever — ran a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal asking Trump to stay committed to the agreement. By that weekend, dozens of big companies declared, We Are Still In. This public statement includes thousands of signatories — not just companies, but states, cities, and universities.
On the governmental side, the states of California, Washington, New York, and others representing a third of the U.S. population and GDP announced the formation of the U.S. Climate Alliance. California Governor Jerry Brown emerged as the de facto climate leader for the United States, holding his own meetings in China and headlining a delegation to the global climate talks in Bonn. A growing list of 385 local leaders have joined the U.S. Climate Mayors pact as well. A group of high -profile business leaders offered their thoughts on the sustainability agenda right here at HBR (I am also an adviser to that effort). In total, the message to the rest of the world has been clear: “sub-national” support for climate action is very strong in the United States.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Jews Claim to Set New Record for Energy Efficiency No Longer Have to Depend on Persians for Eternal Oil? It's a Miracle!

Great example of new and improved as we race towards an era of unprecedented efficiency.   Great, magical time of year to celebrate as well:

The Jews of Jerusalem claimed a new record for energy efficiency today as their temple's eternal light burned for eight days despite having only one day's supply of oil.

Does this mean an answer to the Eternal Oil Crisis?

As the eternal flame is based on olive oil, this could be a challenge to OPEC--the Olive Petroleum Exporting Countries.

However, doubts were generated as word of the oil miracle was contained within an epistle stating that the Jews defeated the Greeks in a battle over the Temple of Jerusalem.

A spokesman for pro-roadway lobbying group Alpha Alpha Alpha (AAA) put it this way. "Right! And the guys who teach abacus in town can kick the Spartan's asses! And I'm King Antiochus the Fourth!

"And, what if it is true? We're not going to run our horses on olive oil, are we? Sorry, Pegasus, no more hay, here's some olive oil.

"So, is it really such a big deal? Geez, why don't we make an annual holiday of it for Athena's sake?"

Jewish community leader Judah Maccabee responded, "This miracle is just the first of many. We believe that it is Jehovah's will to replace the horse with the hybrid mule. And, by the way, if you have to take a mule on a long trip, you should offset its methane emissions."

But, Britannia Petroleum, multinational producer of olive oil and hay, also downplayed the significance of the Jews' achievement. "Zeus wouldn't have put hay in the ground if he didn't want us to use it. Alternatives to hay might be feasible in ten to twenty years, but not now," asserted a BP spokesman.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Louisiana, Sinking Fast, Prepares to Empty Out Its Coastal Plain/Bloomberg

At times we think of climate change as a academic/scientific that goes on and on and on.  Yet, here's something much more tangible, immediate and threatening.  Physical manifestations of some of these massive shifts, and threats to coastlines, have come ashore in Louisiana, as seen here..
  • State weighs buyouts, prohibiting new development, tax hikes
  • Policy could become template for climate adaptation nationwide
Louisiana is finalizing a plan to move thousands of people from areas threatened by the rising Gulf of Mexico, effectively declaring uninhabitable a coastal area larger than Delaware.
A draft of the plan, the most aggressive response to climate-linked flooding in the U.S., calls for prohibitions on building new homes in high-risk areas, buyouts of homeowners who live there now and hikes in taxes on those who won’t leave. Commercial development would still be allowed, but developers would need to put up bonds to pay for those buildings’ eventual demolition.

“Not everybody is going to live where they are now and continue their way of life,” said Mathew Sanders, the state official in charge of the program, which has the backing of Governor John Bel Edwards. “And that is an emotional, and terrible, reality to face.”
Months of community meetings on the program wrapped up this week.
The draft plan, a portion of which was obtained by Bloomberg News, is part of a state initiative funded by the federal government to help Louisiana plan for the effects of coastal erosion. That erosion is happening faster in Louisiana than anywhere in the U.S., due to a mix of rising seas and sinking land caused in part by oil and gas extraction. State officials say they hope the program, called Louisiana Strategic Adaptations for Future Environments, or LA SAFE, becomes a model for coastal areas around the country and the world threatened by climate change.
While the state hasn’t come up with a cost estimate, the buyouts and resettlement could add up to billions of dollars. The federal grant for the initial phase cost $40 million.
The idea hasn’t gone over well with all the people it’s supposed to help, some of whom want the government to do more to protect their communities instead of abandoning them.
“Are we doing every single damn thing we can? I don’t think we are,” Richie Blink, 31, said over a bowl of gumbo in Empire, a town 60 miles south of New Orleans on the bank of the Mississippi River. He paused, then said he didn’t mean to get worked up. “This stuff wears you out emotionally.”
Empire lost half its population after Hurricane Katrina, and now has fewer than 1,000 people. Blink, a community organizer for the National Wildlife Federation, said he understands the dilemma political leaders face, but wishes they would do more to keep the area habitable longer.
Empire’s harbor has a flood gate to protect the boats inside from extreme weather. “When I was a kid, it was a big deal to see the flood gates closed,” said Blink. This year, he said, those gates were closed for 100 days.
Sanders is working to complete the plan by early next year, at which point it will be up to federal, state and local officials to decide if they will implement it. Edwards, the Democratic governor, announced his support for the program in March. If he backs its recommendations, the state could create a buyout program or eliminate the homestead exemption for homes in high-risk areas, which would mean higher property taxes for many residents.
In a statement, the governor’s office said he is “following the progress being made by the LA SAFE team intently and looking for ways to build upon their success as we determine the next steps for the program.”
Under the proposal, commercial development would still be allowed, but developers would need to put up bonds to pay for those buildings’ eventual demolition.
Rob Moore, a flood policy expert at the Natural Resources Defense Council in Chicago, said that if the state goes ahead with the plan, “then every coastal state in the country should be asking themselves, ‘If Louisiana can do this, why aren’t we?’”
The LA SAFE program defines as “high risk” land where, five decades from now, the expected depth of a 100-year flood will reach more than six feet. According to data provided by state officials, 94 percent of the land in Plaquemines Parish, which includes Empire, falls into that category.
Across the six coastal parishes covered by the LA SAFE program, more than 59,000 people live in those high-risk areas. The proposed buyouts and restrictions on future development would only apply to the parts of that land that aren’t protected by levees, and the state isn’t sure how many that may be.
Another town on the wrong side of the state’s risk map is Leeville, a cluster of houses and trailer homes west of Empire that state officials say will soon be underwater. On a recent afternoon, Opie Griffin stood on the front deck of his family’s gas station and restaurant and wondered what he’s supposed to do then.
“There’s no way they can protect this,” Griffin said, sweeping his hand out over what’s left of the town, the bayou seeping in from all sides. “I see more and more water every year." He put the store up on stilts, perched 16 feet in the air, after Hurricane Gustav blew through in 2008. Now his parking lot floods nearly every day. “Nothing I could do, except come to work on a boat.”
However untenable Leeville becomes, however, Griffin is more worried about what’s waiting for him somewhere else. “I’m almost forty. Do I want to start a whole new chapter in my life?” he asked. “Where do you want me to go?”


Offshore wind bidders identify Brayton Point benefits/The Herald News

Here's a perfect example of a direct migration from fossil fuel to renewables.  It will be a monumental day this old coal plant goes on line with locally produced, clean energy powered by new wind turbines.  

Image result for pictures of wind turbines

SOMERSET — Two of the three energy entities submitting offshore wind proposals to state officials at Wednesday’s deadline would plug into the electric grid void at Brayton Point that shut down last spring.
Both Deep Water Wind and Bay State Wind officials said shortly after the submissions that their alternative energy projects would tap into existing transmission lines that powered 1,500 megawatts of electricity for decades at the fossil fuel power plant on Mount Hope Bay in Somerset.
That does not mean either of these joint ventures with utilities — Deepwater with National Grid and Bay State Wind as a partnership of Orsted of Denmark (formerly DONG Energy) and Eversource — would supplant Brayton Point as a re-use.
Both would use a fraction of the 300 acres while negotiating with the new owners for rights of way in order to build equipment, they said on the eve of a St. Louis firm that redevelops environmentally distressed industrial properties acquiring Brayton Point by next month.
Deepwater Wind has issued a two-part bid that included an initial 144- to 288-megawatt transmission system from offshore wind farms, called Revolution Wind, it submitted in July under the state’s more open-ended alternative energy solicitation.
Wednesday’s submissions for 400- and 800-megawatt offshore wind projects is a way Deepwater would create a corridor from the wind farms’ leased lands south of Martha’s Vineyard to potentially use the full 1,600 megawatts the new legislation permits in the next 10 years, said Matthew Morrissey, its Massachusetts vice president.
An electrical component at Brayton Point would enable energy delivery at peak demands.
Morrissey said that under their projects, Somerset stands to benefit municipally and through business prospects. Deepwater would pay the town in power or taxes for the right to connect into the electrical grid at this existing source.
Both Deepwater and Bay State Wind submitted last year interconnect applications to grid operator ISO-New England that determined electrical upgrades would not be needed, one official said.
Among the types of local businesses and trades that stand to benefit are electrical, welding, painting and supply companies and workers, Morrissey said.
He said specific revenue benefits for Somerset have not been defined by transmission line connections at Brayton Point. “It will depend on what the private developer wants to do,” he said of Commercial Development Co. of St. Louis, prepared to close its deal by year’s end with current owner Dynegy Inc.
In a letter, state Rep. Patricia Haddad, D-Somerset, speaker pro tempore, and state Sen. Michael Rodrigues, D-Westport, majority whip, sent a week ago to the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, they supported Deepwater’s Revolution Wind project submitted in July.
“With the recent closing of Brayton Point and the imminent closing of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant (in 2019), nearly 2,500 reliable megawatts of energy will no longer be available to the SouthCoast,” they wrote.
They said the initial project competing with bids that will be awarded in January, coupled with Wednesday’s solely for offshore wind, there would be “far greater opportunities” for supply-chain business competition and to lower ratepayer costs.
Haddad emphasized competition for offshore wind energy projects gearing up in New York, New Jersey and Maryland.
“It sends a message that Massachusetts is ready to go,” Haddad said, praising Deepwater’s bid five months ago with other bidders that included hydro, solar and other energy types.
Among two proposals Bay State Wind issued Wednesday are a huge 55-megawatt battery storage system and a transmission substation they would build on site and National Grid would operate, said Orsted President Thomas Brostrom and Eversource Vice President of Business Development Michael Ausere.
Similar to the other proposal, increasing the storage would ensure peak power availability for a project Bay State Wind says would provide 500,000 homes in the state with power, and electrical storage adding another 50,000, Ausere said.
He and Brostrom indicated it would bring 50 to 60 construction jobs for up to two years. That compares with 1,200 new construction jobs for its offshore wind construction projects and nearly 10 times more direct and indirect jobs in the long term.
Because of Fall River’s proximity to Brayton Point, they have identified assembly of foundation transition parts for the huge windmills being done at city sites they’re exploring.
Both the Bay State Wind and Deepwater officials said they’re seeking alternative sites in case they don’t reach agreement with CDC, the prospective Brayton Point new owner.
“What Brayton Point offers is truly unique,” Morrissey said.
He listed its 1,500-megawatt transmission line capacity that’s already in place and it being an industrial site accessible across a modest water distance to the leased land for the offshore wind industry.
Vineyard Wind was the third bidder. It did not identify use of Brayton Point.
Email Michael Holtzman at or call him at 508-676-2573.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Rhode Island Looks to First Battery-Storage Project; Massachusetts has Funded 26 Such Projects /EcoRINews

Good news for RI, MA and New England.  It is exciting to see energy storage surge.

 ecoRI News

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

Rhode Island is close to installing its first large-scale battery-storage facility. The 1-megawatt lithium-ion battery system is slated for Little Compton, as part of a multiyear effort to curb electricity use in town and in neighboring Tiverton.
Population growth in the two municipalities is nearly twice the state average, while the electrical substation is already too small for the existing 5,600 ratepayers it supports. To address the problem, National Grid spent five years promoting energy-reduction programs in hopes of cutting home and business energy use, particularly during the summer when demand is highest.
That outreach has had limited success convincing customers to sign up for energy audits and take advantage of discounts for energy-efficient products, such as lower-energy air conditioners. New solar panel installations and promotions haven’t helped either.
Rather then spend $2.9 million to expand the Tiverton substation, National Grid wants to spend $438,000 on a battery-storage unit. The expense would be included in National Grid's annual system reliability funding plan, which is paid by ratepayers. The 2018 plan adds 1 cent per kilowatt-hour to Rhode Island customers' bills. The proposal also seeks studies of similar electric-load choke points in Burrillville and Foster.
The vendor and the type of battery-storage system haven't been named, but if the storage system is approved by the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission it would be built and operational this summer at Little Compton’s transfer station on Amy Hart Path.
The storage system would be charged from the electric grid and deliver 250 kilowatt-hours of electricity to Tiverton and Little Compton between June and September from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Tim Roughan, National Grid’s director of distributed resources, said battery projects like these will be needed to address other undersized substations in Rhode Island.
“It’s 100 percent of what we have to be doing going forward,” he said.
The Public Utilities Commission will discuss the proposal during an open meeting scheduled for Dec. 20.
Massachusetts takes aim
While Rhode Island looks to its first utility-scale battery system, Massachusetts is way ahead in subsidizing battery research and projects. In 2016, the state became the first in the nation to set an energy-storage target by pledging to install 200 megawatts of battery storage by 2020.
Massachusetts has four programs to promote battery-storage research and development. There are also incentives to install solar + storage systems at manufacturers, and even battery-storage systems for gas stations.
The latest funding awards $20 million to 26 projects across the Bay State. Those projects include $545,000 for a solar + storage system to electrify the public bus fleet on Martha’s Vineyard. The buses will be charged through a solar-fed storage system. The battery will offset higher electricity costs during peak electric-use hours.
A proposed solar array on the island also received $382,192 for a virtual net-metering project at Bayes Norton Farm.
National Grid was awarded $645,000 to develop battery-storage units at Walmarts in Brockton and Leicester. Only one location includes a solar array.
National Grid also received $1.25 million for a project to install Tesla Powerwall battery systems at 500 residences on Nantucket. The project delays construction for a third undersea power cable to the mainland power grid.
The Titleist golf ball manufacturer in New Bedford received $700,000 for a battery-storage system that improves energy use and saves the company money.
The grants were issued through the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources and administered by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. The program and grants are funded though pollution compliance payments made by fossil-fuel power plants.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Researchers Create Innovative Energy Generation Technology Based on Bituminous Coal

Very interesting research around a cleaner way to burn coal.

Researchers Create Innovative Energy Generation Technology Based on Bituminous Coal

Bituminous coal contains more than 90% of organic fuels in the Earth’s lithosphere. By burning coal and other fossil fuels one can obtain electrical power (which is largely happening at HPPs).

However, the existing generation techniques are not efficient, not good for the environment, and very resource-demanding (i.e. producing too much waste). Coal production and burning cause air and soil pollution and unfavorably impact flora and fauna.

Mini coal-fired CHP plant on the basis of synthesis gas generator (CO + H2) and electrochemical current generator (experiment/factory). (Credit – Sergey Shcheklein)
If fossil fuels could be directly turned into electrical energy, this would streamline and at the same time enhance the structure of electrical power plants. This type of direct conversion is possible with the use of electrochemical generators fueled with natural gas or combinations with similar composition.

The researchers recommended an uncommon scheme for the creation of syngas (a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen that is used as a substitute for natural fuels) from bituminous coal and tested the efficiency of its use in an electrochemical generator.

It turned out that the new development may be employed rather than coal burning that is environmentally unfriendly and non-productive and make the process waste-free and greener. All products produced by the new unit may be either liquefied and buried or used in the manufacturing of industry-important substances such as ethylene, ethanol, or other hydrocarbons.

Our task was to replace a unique product – natural gas – with bituminous coal simultaneously improving energy and ecological characteristics of the units compared to the existing coal power plants. The technology proved to be very effective in joint generation of electrical and heat energy, while the configuration of the unit is much simpler.

Sergey Schecklein, Co-author, Doctor of Technical Sciences, Head of the Department of NuclearPower Plants and Renewable Energy Sources of Ural Power Engineering Institute, UrFU Syngas was produced in a unit with a boiling layer created at UrFU under the supervision of Professor Alexey Dubinin. It boosts the intensity of reactions numerous times leading to the production of a cleaner final product. After its purification the researchers put the product into a high-temperature solid oxide fuel cell where electrical energy was produced as a result of a reaction between oxygen and hydrogen in the air. The remaining carbon monoxide and hydrogen were moved to a waste heat boiler where heat energy needed for the technological process and generators was generated in the course of a burning reaction. WHB combustion products have no sulfur or cinder and thus no deep purification is required.

The research consisted of two phases: a theoretical and an experimental one. During the first phase the researchers considered energy, chemical, and physical processes that take place in the recommended unit scheme and established its key energy characteristics. Researchers also emphasized that the recommended technological scheme provided for the same fuel efficiency features as cutting-edge solutions using fuels in short supply, such as oil and gas.

On the experimental stage of the research, the team obtained syngas from coal fuel. It is quite an energy-intensive and easily transportable material. The authors examined the composition of the gas in a broad range of regimes and found out the area of highest boiling layer stability and efficient gas generation.

Research in this domain is being undertaken carried out all over the world with USA, Germany, and China among the leaders. Still, the Russian solution is distinctive. Presently, the team is in talks with industry partners about the development of demo units. The subsequent step will be the scaling of the unit and the unveiling of its mass production.

The obtained results may lay the ground for the new energy sector of the 21st century.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Regional Program To Reduce Carbon Emissions Expected To Expand/NPR

We continue to see regions of the US out of step with Washington as state continue to march towards higher environmental standards--including clean air--not lower.  Given the innovation around this march, the economics favor these states as well.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which caps power plant carbon emissions in participating states, is expected to expand to New Jersey and Virginia. 

Currently, all New England states ar members of the program, along with New York, Maryland and Delaware.
The 2017 carbon emissions cap for RGGI states is about 84 million tons a year. That cap gets reduced by 2.5 percent each year until 2020.
Since the program's start in 2009, carbon emissions have gone down in RGGI states by about 40 percent.
State regulators in Virginia have been taking steps since November to develop a plan to join the initiative and cap emissions for most power plants starting in 2020. New Jersey, which was originally a member of the program but pulled out in 2011, is expected to rejoin early next year.   
Jordan Stutt, policy analyst at the Acadia Center, a clean energy advocacy organization, said more states joining RGGI would make the program better.
"(RGGI would be) more powerful in the sense that we would be reducing more emissions; we would be accelerating the transmission to a clean energy economy in a broader area," Stutt said. "When you look at a bigger region with similar policy, you’re better able to achieve that policy goal." 
This fall, RGGI states agreed to reduce carbon emissions by another 30 percent by 2030, relative to 2020 emission levels. That's equivalent to one year's worth of pollution from more than 25 million cars, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. 
Starting in 2021, RGGI states will cap emissions at 75 million tons. That cap will decrease by three percent each year until 2031.   

Bradford Dam removal to be completed by end of 2017

Here we see progress, on remediation of a dam that should not have been built, on many fronts:
Image result for Pictures of dams

HOPKINTON, R.I. (WPRI) — The final phase to remove the 200-year-old Bradford Dam in Hopkinton is in full swing.
In some shape or form, the dam was located there since the 1700’s.
During the final phase of the dam’s removal, the Pawcatuck River was temporarily moved.
Crews are working hard to complete a new and improved riverbed that will soon be filled with rushing water. The new riverbed will act as a staircase for fish like herring and shad to migrate.
“They will rest in a pool, and then they will keep going,” Scott Comings of the Rhode Island Nature Conservancy said. “And before, they would have just hit the dam and had to figure out a way around the dam through the fish ladder, which had fairly low success.”
But helping out the fish and the surrounding ecosystem is only the first reason for this project. Comings said the second reason is for flood abatement.
“The dam that was here was in disrepair and could have failed at any point,” he explained.
Half of the $2 million used for the project comes from federal Sandy Relief funds, the other half from a combination of state and foundation money.
Suzanna Paton of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said much of the funding came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and through working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) and the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association.
This current round of restoration on the Pawcatuck goes back to 2010, according to Paton.
The project is on schedule to be completed by the end of 2017.