Renewables, fuel cells, hydrogen, and efficiency
Ken Novak's Weblog
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
California Geothermal Resources 2006:
A report on the potentials and issues surrounding a very large and predictable renewable power supply. There are many potential geothermal sites in California, but few are being actively explored and only one significantly exploited. For example, the Salton Sea area alone is estimated to capable of to 820,000 MW-Years of electricity. Even without exploration, estimates of today's economic capacity stand at around 10 GW of electric supply, with potentials estimated upwards of 40 GW. But "we have a built-in feedback loop that effectively stalemates geothermal development: without leases, industry will not spend the millions of dollars needed to do basic exploration to understand and help characterize the resource better. And, without better resource characterization, the agencies had little incentive to propose or process new leases, which would cost large sums of money and have very uncertain returns. ..
The Nevada approach is something California may wish to consider: establishing a government-industry collaborative effort to define resources sites and accelerate development, setting goals for geothermal development tied to the state’s RPS goals, and recognizing the need to accelerate research and development efforts. .. [There is a precedent:] less than a year after being initiated by Governor Schwarzenegger, the state’s Biomass Collaborative spearheaded a multi-agency effort to produce a statewide biomass development plan." 9:37:26 AM
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Algae to convert CO2 to biofuel:
Two companies pursue commercialization of algal processing of CO2 emissions. "Fed a generous helping of CO2-laden emissions [from a] power plant's exhaust stack, the algae grow quickly even in the
wan rays of a New England sun. The cleansed exhaust bubbles skyward,
but with 40 percent less CO2 (a larger cut than the Kyoto treaty
mandates) and another bonus: 86 percent less nitrous oxide. [The] algae is
harvested daily. From that harvest, a combustible vegetable oil is
squeezed out: biodiesel for automobiles. [The] dried
remnant can be further reprocessed to create ethanol, also used for
GreenFuel Technologies, in Cambridge, Mass.has garnered $11 million in venture
capital funding and is conducting a field trial at a 1,000 megawatt
power plant owned by a major southwestern power company. Next year,
GreenFuel expects two to seven more such demo projects scaling up to a
full production system by 2009. ..
One key is selecting an algae with a high oil density -
about 50 percent of its weight. Because this kind of algae also grows
so fast, it can produce 15,000 gallons of biodiesel per acre. Just 60
gallons are produced from soybeans, which along with corn are the major
biodiesel crops today.
[In Dec 2005] Greenshift Corporation, a Mount Arlington, N.J., technology
incubator company, licensed CO2-gobbling algae technology that uses a
screen-like algal filter. It was developed by David Bayless, a
researcher at Ohio University.
A prototype is capable of handling 140 cubic meters of
flue gas per minute, an amount equal to the exhaust from 50 cars or a
3-megawatt power plant, Greenshift said in a statement" 9:18:41 AM
GE Delivers Prototype Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) to US DOE
: "GE today announced it has successfully developed and delivered a 6 kW prototype of a Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) system to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).. .. The prototype achieved an efficiency of 49%, which is well above the minimum requirement of 35% set forth in the program. The development of this prototype is part of a 10-year, three-phase program with DOE/NETL .. This system has the potential to achieve dramatically reduced emissions and close to 50% efficiency from coal. This would far surpass the 35% efficiency that can be achieved in a typical conventional pulverized coal-fired power plant today.
Because SOFCs provide a continuous flow of power, operate at high temperatures and have multi-fuel capabilities, they can greatly enhance energy efficiency in power generation. And since fuel cells are a virtually combustion- and NOx-free power source, they also can vastly improve environmental performance." Many SOFC's can process a mix of coal and biomass. They may also produce a purified CO2 stream that is much cheaper to sequester than that produced by combustion. SRI has a similar approach with its direct carbon fuel cell (DCFC)
(with MP3 radio interview
). 8:35:35 AM
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Foresight for UK venture capital investment funding for sustainability:
"Foresight Sustainable Development [fund] is aimed at very High Net Worth investors and their advisers looking to invest in excess of £100,000 in unquoted growth situations in sustainable markets. This will be structured as a Limited Partnership to avoid the constraints of a VCT. It will exploit opportunities in renewable energy, energy efficiency, the recycling of materials and energy security. It will invest across project finance, new technologies and service businesses.
Matt Taylor, partner at Foresight, explains: “In the clean fuels arena, many investors seem to be driving up the valuations of “blue sky” technologies. Our approach is different: we are concentrating on infrastructure projects and the exploitation of proven technologies. Sustainable development is an investment cycle for the long-term and we will invest only when the balance of risk and reward is right. This is going to be a small, tightly-focussed fund which should be fully invested over 12-18 months.” It launches in early October 06. 12:26:07 AM
Floating Wind Turbines the Wave of the Future?
"Among three designs for floating giant wind turbines in the deep ocean, MIT research is focusing on the tension leg platform (center), a system that oil companies use for deep-water rigs. .. According to their analyses, the floater-mounted turbines could work in water depths ranging from 30 to 200 meters. In the Northeast, for example, they could be 50 to 150 kilometers from shore. And the turbine atop each platform could be big -- an economic advantage in the wind-farm business. The MIT-NREL design assumes a 5-megawatt (MW) experimental turbine now being developed by industry. (Onshore units are 1.5 MW, conventional offshore units, 3.6 MW.) ..
Sclavounos estimates that building and installing his floating support system should cost a third as much as constructing the type of truss tower now planned for deep-water installations. Because of the strong offshore winds, the floating turbines should produce up to twice as much electricity per year (per installed megawatt) as wind turbines now in operation. And since the wind turbines are not permanently attached to the ocean floor, they are a movable asset." 12:18:35 AM