NewEnergyNews: 02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

The challenge: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • THE STUDY: WHY THE OIL & GAS INDUSTRY BACKS AN ALL-OF-THE-ABOVE ENERGY POLICY
  • QUICK NEWS, July 22: U.S. DOE FORESEES NEW ENERGY; THE BEST CITIES FOR NEW ENERGY; ENERGY STORAGE TO BE $50BIL MRKT
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: THE COST OF ADDING SOLAR TO A UTILITY’S OPERATIONS
  • QUICK NEWS, 7-21: U.S. WIND, SOLAR TO GROW THROUGH 2020; NEW GEOTHERMAL RISING; CHINESE HAVE RIGHTS IN OREGON WIND BUY
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    GET THE DAILY HEADLINES EMAIL: CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR SEND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • Weekend Video: Colbert Gets Into Coal Rolling
  • Weekend Video: How Solar Power Plants Store And Use Solar Energy
  • Weekend Video: A Story About People And Wind Energy
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE CLIMATE CHANGED WORLD IS NOW 5 TIMES MORE DANGEROUS
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE MONEY IN SOLAR, Q2 2014
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-EU STILL GROWING OCEAN WIND
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-$109MIL FROM GERMAN BANK BACKS KENYA GEOTHERMAL
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, July 17:

  • TTTA Thursday-THE PREMATURE EVACUATION FROM CLIMATE CHANGE EXCITEMENT
  • TTTA Thursday-NEW ENERGY TO SUSTAIN BIG GROWTH – EIA
  • TTTA Thursday-SOLAR’S COST TO UTILITIES
  • TTTA Thursday-HOW UTILITIES CAN EVOLVE IN A NEW ENERGY WORLD
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • THE STUDY: HOW TO PROTECT A CAP AND TRADE PROGRAM
  • QUICK NEWS, July 16: 88% OF NEW U.S. POWER IN MAY WAS NEW ENERGY; THE FIGHT FOR WIND IN OHIO; U.S. CRITICAL SYSTEMS REGULARLY BREACHED
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, is a biweekly contributor to NewEnergyNews

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT)

    November 26, 2013 (Huffington Post via NewEnergyNews)

    Everywhere we turn, environmental news is filled with horrid developments and glimpses of irreversible tipping points.

    Just a handful of examples are breathtaking: Scientists have dared to pinpoint the years at which locations around the world may reach runaway heat, and in the northern hemisphere it's well in sight for our children: 2047. Survivors of Superstorm Sandy are packing up as costs of repair and insurance go out of reach, one threat that climate science has long predicted. Or we could simply talk about the plight of bees and the potential impact on food supplies. Surprising no one who explores the Pacific Ocean, sailor Ivan MacFadyen described long a journey dubbed The Ocean is Broken, in which he saw vast expanses of trash and almost no wildlife save for a whale struggling a with giant tumor on its head, evoking the tons of radioactive water coming daily from Fukushima's lamed nuclear power center. Rampaging fishing methods and ocean acidification are now reported as causing the overpopulation of jellyfish that have jammed the intakes of nuclear plants around the world. Yet the shutting down of nuclear plants is a trifling setback compared with the doom that can result in coming days at Fukushima in the delicate job to extract bent and spent fuel rods from a ruined storage tank, a project dubbed "radioactive pick up sticks."

    With all these horrors to ponder you wouldn't expect to hear that you should also worry about the United States running out of coal. But you would be wrong, says Leslie Glustrom, founder and research director for Clean Energy Action. Her contention is that we've passed the peak in our nation's legendary supply of coal that powers over one-third of our grid capacity. This grim news is faithfully spelled out in three reports, with the complete story told in Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves (pdf). (Disclosure: I serve on CEA's board and have known the author for years.)

    Glustrom's research presents a sea change in how we should understand our energy challenges, or experience grim consequences. It's not only about toxic and heat-trapping emissions anymore; it's also about having enough energy generation to run big cities and regions that now rely on coal. Glustrom worries openly about how commerce will go on in many regions in 2025 if they don't plan their energy futures right.

    2013-11-05-FigureES4_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    Scrutinizing data for prices on delivered coal nationwide, Glustrom's new report establishes that coal's price has risen nearly 8 percent annually for eight years, roughly doubling, due mostly to thinner, deeper coal seams plus costlier diesel transport expenses. Higher coal prices in a time of "cheap" natural gas and affordable renewables means coal companies are lamed by low or no profits, as they hold debt levels that dwarf their market value and carry very high interest rates.

    2013-11-05-Table_ES2_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    2013-11-05-Figure_ES2_FULL.jpg

    One leading coal company, Patriot, filed for bankruptcy last year; many others are also struggling under bankruptcy watch and not eager to upgrade equipment for the tougher mining ahead. Add to this the bizarre event this fall of a coal lease failing to sell in Wyoming's Powder River Basin, the "Fort Knox" of the nation's coal supply, with some pundits agreeing this portends a tightening of the nation's coal supply, not to mention the array of researchers cited in the report. Indeed, at the mid point of 2013, only 488 millions tons of coal were produced in the U.S.; unless a major catch up happens by year-end, 2013 may be as low in production as 1993.

    Coal may exist in large quantities geologically, but economically, it's getting out of reach, as confirmed by US Geological Survey in studies indicating that less than 20 percent of US coal formations are economically recoverable, as explored in the CEA report. To Glustrom, that number plus others translate to 10 to 20 years more of burning coal in the US. It takes capital, accessible coal with good heat content and favorable market conditions to assure that mining companies will stay in business. She has observed a classic disconnect between camps of professionals in which geologists tend to assume money is "infinite" and financial analysts tend to assume that available coal is "infinite." Both biases are faulty and together they court disaster, and "it is only by combining thoughtful estimates of available coal and available money that our country can come to a realistic estimate of the amount of US coal that can be mined at a profit." This brings us back to her main and rather simple point: "If the companies cannot make a profit by mining coal they won't be mining for long."

    No one is more emphatic than Glustrom herself that she cannot predict the future, but she presents trend lines that are robust and confirmed assertively by the editorial board at West Virginia Gazette:

    Although Clean Energy Action is a "green" nonprofit opposed to fossil fuels, this study contains many hard economic facts. As we've said before, West Virginia's leaders should lower their protests about pollution controls, and instead launch intelligent planning for the profound shift that is occurring in the Mountain State's economy.

    The report "Warning, Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" and its companion reports belong in the hands of energy and climate policy makers, investors, bankers, and rate payer watchdog groups, so that states can plan for, rather than react to, a future with sea change risk factors.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    It bears mentioning that even China is enacting a "peak coal" mentality, with Shanghai declaring that it will completely ban coal burning in 2017 with intent to close down hundreds of coal burning boilers and industrial furnaces, or shifting them to clean energy by 2015. And Citi Research, in "The Unimaginable: Peak Coal in China," took a look at all forms of energy production in China and figured that demand for coal will flatten or peak by 2020 and those "coal exporting countries that have been counting on strong future coal demand could be most at risk." Include US coal producers in that group of exporters.

    Our world is undergoing many sorts of change and upheaval. We in the industrialized world have spent about a century dismissing ocean trash, overfishing, pesticides, nuclear hazard, and oil and coal burning with a shrug of, "Hey it's fine, nature can manage it." Now we're surrounded by impacts of industrial-grade consumption, including depletion of critical resources and tipping points of many kinds. It is not enough to think of only ourselves and plan for strictly our own survival or convenience. The threat to animals everywhere, indeed to whole systems of the living, is the grief-filled backdrop of our times. It's "all hands on deck" at this point of human voyaging, and in our nation's capital, we certainly don't have that. Towns, states and regions need to plan fiercely and follow through. And a fine example is Boulder Colorado's recent victory to keep on track for clean energy by separating from its electric utility that makes 59 percent of its power from coal.

    Clean Energy Action is disseminating "Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" for free to all manner of relevant professionals who should be concerned about long range trends which now include the supply risks of coal, and is supporting that outreach through a fundraising campaign.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    Author's note: Want to support my work? Please "fan" me at Huffpost Denver, here (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anne-butterfield). Thanks.

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    Anne's previous NewEnergyNews columns:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    Your intrepid reporter

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      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

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    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

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  • Wednesday, February 28, 2007

    SUPER CALA PHRAJELLISTIC CELLULOSIC

    Even President Bush, based on his comments at the Governors' Conference earlier this week, is finally beginning to understand that corn ethanol is NOT the answer and plug-in hybrids are necessary to make ANY kind of ethanol part of the solution.

    Push made for cellulosic ethanol
    Krishnadev Calamur, February 26, 2007 (UPI)

    - Amid rising corn prices affecting the margins of livestock farmers, the Bush administration has renewed its call for cellulosic materials to eventually take the place of corn as the main source of ethanol…
    - As part of its efforts to reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil the Bush administration has set a goal of reducing gasoline usage by 20 percent over a 10-year period. More than 45 percent of gasoline sold in the United States is 10 percent blended with ethanol, and there are growing calls for that proportion to increase…
    - The United States consumes some 7 billion gallons of ethanol a year made from corn. More ethanol means, at least for now, more corn…This rising demand has made corn a red-hot commodity and pushed up prices…Those who use corn, mainly as a feedstock, are not [happy]…farmers are considering planting it in fields where they would normally grow soybeans…

    - In 2005 [14 percent of corn production was used to manufacture ethanol]…In 2006 it touched an estimated 20 percent…
    - It is hoped that ethanol from cellulosic sources such as biomass and switchgrass can help reduce some of the dependence on corn. The problem: costs, though there [has] been…a drastic reduction in the cost of ethanol from cellulosic sources…
    - …the Bush administration [fiscal year 2008 budget] committed $179 million for research into producing ethanol from a variety of sources in a bid to make cellulosic ethanol cost-competitive by 2012.

    - The $24.3 billion budget for the Energy Department also requested $2.7 billion for the Advanced Energy Initiative, which promotes renewable energy technologies such as biomass. Separately, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy gets $1.24 billion, including a funding increase for biomass. Biomass also gets $113 million out of the $713 million requested for Science Programs.
    - Questions remain, however, on how far along cellulosic ethanol is…Last year the Energy Information Administration, the U.S. Department of Energy's data arm, said ethanol production from cellulose would reach 300 million gallons by 2030, slightly higher than the 250 million gallons per year required starting in 2013 by the Renewable Fuels Standard in the 2005 Energy Policy Act.
    - Supporters of cellulosic contend, however, that those estimates are too low...

    TXU DEAL: NEW ENERGY IMPLICATIONS

    This deal can make or break the fate of the earth:

    TXU Deal Will Ripple Through Energy Industry
    February 27, 2007 (GreenBiz.com)
    - The private-equity buyout of TXU, and the subsequent stop to construction plans for eight new coal-fired power plants, will have a major effect on other energy companies and their financers that plans to build new coal-fired power plants in the U.S.

    - … the decision by the Wall Street investment firms behind the TXU buyout means that the financial/environmental risk warning light is now flashing at…firms with plans to build multiple coal-fired power plants…
    - NET Coal Campaign Director Peter Altman said, "The climate dodged a bullet with the cancellation of these TXU plants. An inconvenient truth remains however. There are still more than 100 other coal-fired power plants on the drawing boards nationwide and the financial climate has changed. The TXU deal shatters the aura of invincibility many coal plant developers have assumed, by showing that the growing extent and diversity of opposition can stop plants that will make global warming worse."
    - Wall Street and Capitol Hill policymakers are already looking at whether building plants whose carbon cannot be easily controlled is in our national interest. Senate Energy Committee Chair Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) has been raising the issue in public statements, including an op-ed co-written with Environment and Public Works Chair Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)…
    - Dynegy and LS Power together have an expansion plan on a similar scale to TXU. Assuming the planned merger occurs, Dynegy will build 9,465 MW of new coal fired capacity in 11 states…

    - Other firms with multiple coal-fired power plants still on the drawing board include:
  • Peabody Energy, with 3 projects in development for a total of 3,300 MW in 3 states;

  • NRG, with 4 projects in development for a total of 2,730 MW in four states, including some gasification plants;

  • Excel Energy has 4 projects in development for a total of 2,350 MW in 3 states, including some use of gasification;

  • TXU itself has 3 projects remaining in development for a total of 2,320 MW in Texas;

  • Duke Energy, with 2 projects in development for 2,350 MW in 2 states, including some gasification;

  • Dominion Energy has one project in development for a total of 2,150 MW in an undetermined location.
  • 820,000 YEARS!

    Carbon Dioxide Levels Are at 820,000-Year High, Scientists Find
    Alex Morales, February 25, 2007 (Bloomberg News)
    - Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide are at their highest in 820,000 years, scientists examining a 3- kilometer (2-mile) ice core from Antarctica have found.
    - Carbon dioxide acts to warm the Earth by trapping the sun's energy. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Feb. 2 said man-made emissions of greenhouse gases like CO2 are very likely causing global warming, and warned that average temperatures may rise by as much as 6.4 degrees Celsius (11.5 Fahrenheit), and sea-levels by 59 centimeters (23 inches) by 2100.

    - In November 2005, scientists…wrote in the journal Science that the carbon dioxide levels haven't been exceeded at any point in the past 650,000 years. Scientists have since analyzed the remainder of the 3,270-meter ice core…[Eric Wolff, of the British Antarctic Survey said], ``…we could lengthen the time period to 820,000 years…The concentrations that we're seeing now are still the highest.''
    - The historic concentrations of so-called greenhouse gases can be determined by examining air bubbles trapped in the ice thousands of years ago…
    - Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom all contributed scientists and funding…The Ice core was extracted from the Concordia Dome C scientific base at about 75 degrees south on the Antarctic plateau.
    - International Polar Year (IPY) includes 228 different studies involving 50,000 scientists, students and support staff in more than 60 countries…

    BIG ENERGY DUKES GLOBAL WARMING

    Why is this not just a PR blurb? Because Duke Energy is one of the biggest players in the game, so Jim Rogers’ problems and limitations are ours.

    Duke Energy Tackles Global Warming Issue; Duke Energy CEO Tells AP He Faces Dilemma in Balancing Demand for Power Against Global Warming
    Leva M. Augstums (with Margaret Lillard), February 22, 2007 (AP via Yahoo Finance)

    - Jim Rogers wants to do something about global warming. But the chief executive of Duke Energy Corp. also has a growing customer base that needs power now, and he says that means building more coal-fired plants.
    - It's a dilemma faced by many in a position to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions…
    - "My job is, when you throw on the switch, I need to be there," Rogers told The Associated Press…"While I've devised a plan to assure reliability, I also have to do the right thing for the environment."
    - …Rogers has been one of the few utility executives to speak out publicly about the need to reduce carbon emissions.
    - Last month, he joined chief executives of nine other major U.S. corporations -- including BP America Inc. and General Electric Co. -- to push Bush and Congress to address climate change. The group, known as the United States Climate Action Partnership, wants a nationwide limit on carbon dioxide emissions that would lead to reductions of 10 percent to 30 percent over the next 15 years…

    - Bush's administration has also set a goal of reducing "greenhouse gas intensity," which measures the ratio of greenhouse gas emissions to economic output, by 18 percent by 2012.
    - "That's good, but more can and should be done," Rogers said.
    - The problem, Rogers and others said, is that the technology and infrastructure for alternative energy doesn't yet exist to substantially satisfy the energy demands of a country dependent on cars, computers and all kinds of modern electrical conveniences…
    - Cellulosic ethanol, which Bush will promote Thursday, is made from waste, wood, plants and other biological products. While experts said the entire process from harvest to production to actually burning cellulosic ethanol instead of gasoline would lead to a 70 to 90 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, it remains experimental and commercial-size refineries are several years away…
    - At Duke, the new nuclear power plants the company has suggested building -- hardly a favorite of the same environmental and consumer groups upset with Duke's desire to expand its coal-burning capacity -- are about a decade away from coming online.
    In the meantime, Rogers has 3.9 million customers spread across several states…

    - To meet that demand, Duke -- the nation's third-largest consumer of coal -- wants to spend $3 billion to build two coal-fired units…Opponents worry about the plant's effect on air quality and say Duke hasn't taken enough steps to generate more capacity through conservation…
    - Rogers said Duke is working to avoid the adverse impact of its disproportionate reliance on coal, but the new plants are necessary to meet a booming market with a growing need for power…
    - In the interim, he supports a so-called cap-and-trade system, which he said would create a financial incentive for reducing emissions by assigning a cost to polluting…
    - "I've gotten past the problem," Rogers said. "I'm focusing on the solutions."

    Tuesday, February 27, 2007

    CHINA SHINING (AND CASTING A SHADOW)

    Always read Leah Krauss:

    Solar World: China becomes a growing force
    Leah Krauss, February 22, 2007 (UPI)
    - Two years after China passed a comprehensive renewable energy law, its solar energy industry is poised to enter the world market in a big way.

    - "Thin film will be the future," solar energy markets expert J. Peter Lynch told United Press International, referring to an emerging type of solar technology that relies on much thinner solar panels than the traditional black panels on many rooftops today. "As more and more Chinese (thin film) companies (go) public, they will drive prices down and shrink margins."
    - …The scarcity of solar-grade refined silicon has driven up traditional photovoltaic prices, and the shortage is not expected to ease until 2008.
    - "I would definitely foresee (China taking a bigger role in the world solar market)," Yong X. Tao, a professor and Undergraduate Program Director in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Florida International University, wrote…
    - "Right now, Suntech is the only significant player from China in the world solar market: its market is outside of China…" Tao said…

    - One of the smaller companies has already started making international waves…China's Solarfun Power Holdings Ltd. "…will sell approximately 140 megawatts of photovoltaic modules to UB Garanty Project S.L. in Spain over the next three years. The contract is expected to have an estimated value of between $40 million and $50 million in 2007…and we are confident that Solarfun will continue to penetrate high growth (photovoltaic) markets such as Spain, Italy and other emerging markets in Europe…"
    - China gets about 7 percent of its energy from renewable sources…The 2005 Renewable Energy Law called for the country to increase its renewable energy consumption to 10 percent of the total by 2020…
    - "A few wise men in Chinese government listened to the scientists and made right decision to push the policy. The 2008 Olympics (slated for Beijing) is another reason," Tao said…The government "supports (solar) in many ways," Tao said…

    - Not all observers agree with this positive outlook, however: "Manufacturers are expanding their capacity, but I don't see a major drive to install solar power domestically," Wang Xing, a senior program officer for electricity and renewable energy at the China Sustainable Energy Program, told the news agency AFX earlier this month.
    - "Right now there is not a very strong incentive program for solar power…Most domestic manufacturers are gearing production toward the export market…"
    - …Tao…says the Chinese solar domestic market, which is mostly focused on solar water heaters, is doing quite well…The 2005 law required all new smaller buildings to install solar water heaters.

    HILLARY: WHERE NO MAN HAS GONE BEFORE

    Clinton Proposes Clean Energy Fund; Says Energy Independence Should Be Approached Like 60s Space Race
    Carolyn Thompson (with Ben Dobbin), February 26, 2007 (AP via Yahoo Finance)
    - …Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton flew back to New York Monday and suggested the country approach energy independence the way it approached space exploration.

    - "If we landed a man on the moon and brought him back safely to Earth within a decade…we know we can do this," said Clinton, pushing for a $50 billion ["Strategic Energy Fund," which would pay for clean energy research and development by ending tax breaks for big oil]…reducing the nation's dependence on foreign oil. "It'll be like an Apollo Project for energy…"
    - …Clinton noted [Al] Gore's [Oscar-winning acceptance speech] plea to "exercise the will to begin to change."
    - "Well, that's what's happening right here…I hope to give some push and some money to accelerating that will."
    - Clinton said she would introduce the energy fund legislation Tuesday…
    Republicans had warned that Clinton's home-state constituents wouldn't see much of her once her Senate re-election campaign was over…Clinton scheduled energy-related stops in Oswego and Rochester, where she said she is "working very hard" to represent New York while running for the presidency…

    - In Tonawanda, Clinton said the country is "nowhere near" being able to eliminate coal from its energy strategy, but promoted incentives for cleaner technology…"The time has come to invest in the technology, the knowledge and the work force to build and operate these next-generation power plants…to use our enormous coal reserves to meet a significant portion of our electricity needs without contributing to global warming."
    - …Clinton blamed President Bush specifically for failing to push energy alternatives that would help safeguard the environment…

    CARBON: CAN’T BURY IT, CAN’T LIVE WITH IT

    Burying power plant CO2 has cost
    Hil Andersen, February 21, 2007 (UPI)
    - Burying the problem of carbon dioxide emissions from power plants is a particularly appealing response to climate change, but as with many a green energy idea, the concept of carbon sequestration still faces technical and financial hurdles…

    - Carbon sequestration has all of the appeal of sweeping dust under the rug; carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, is captured…[and] is then pumped deep underground into geological formations that trap it if not forever at least for years…
    - Assistant Secretary of Energy Jeffrey Jarrett…announced $450 million in assistance over the next 10 years for a slate of projects aimed at commercializing carbon sequestration.
    - Slashing the U.S. output of carbon dioxide is seen worldwide as critical…Calculations by Massachusetts Institute of Technology peg the CO2 emissions from a large 1,000-megawatt U.S. power plant burning pulverized coal at between 6 and 8 metric tons per year; a natural gas plant emits about half that level…
    - …the political winds in Washington have shifted…Major U.S. industrial groups have stepped up their proclamations that they are on board…and they are counting on Yankee ingenuity in the form of research into technologies such as carbon sequestration to lead the way…

    - …the development of carbon sequestration is considered to be in its infancy and not ready for prime time. The Energy Department estimates that using current sequestration technology would cost utilities $100-$200 for each ton of carbon emissions kept out of the atmosphere. MIT estimated that translates to another 1.5-3.0 cents per kilowatt hour of retail electricity -- the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that the average power consumption per household in the United States was 4,410 KwH in 2005…So it isn't practical to assume power generators can simply start injecting CO2 into the ground…
    - The $450 million ante thrown in by Jarrett was aimed primarily at studying the ability of underground reservoirs to securely contain large volumes of CO2 without the buoyant gas rising to the surface through porous rock and seeping into the atmosphere. An unrelated study…by researchers at MIT included the good news that CO2 injected into deep reservoirs of salty water would indeed stay…
    - The costs of sequestration…can include the cost of installing equipment, converting the emissions into a compressed form of CO2, pumping it to the storage site and maintaining the site. There is also…the electricity needed to run the capture equipment…

    - A top priority…is refinement of the compounds used to strip the CO2 out of a power plant's overall emissions stream. The most popular material is monoethanol amine, a smelly and corrosive chemical made from ammonia that… must be replenished frequently.
    - The Indiana Center for Coal Technology Research at Purdue University stated in a report earlier this month that "CO2 capture and storage using amine-based scrubbers, the only proven process to date, can consume about one-third of the plant's power output and increase the cost of electricity by 60 to 80 percent."
    - Such numbers are definitely enough to throw cold water on the idea…although the drive for an effective method of doing so is heating up fast.

    CARBON MANAGEMENT

    The company sold three days after this announcement for $45 BILLION so maybe the gift was no big deal.

    TXU-Power funds carbon management project at UT-AUSTIN
    February 23, 2007 (Dallas Business Journal)
    - TXU-Power…is donating $1.8 million to a University of Texas at Austin research project on carbon management.

    - TXU Power…a subsidiary of…TXU Corp…recently [came] under attack from some environmental groups that say the company's plan to build 11 coal-fired power plants in Texas will exacerbate the state's pollution problem…the Rainforest Action Network picketed Merrill Lynch offices across the country urging the bank to pull out of a deal to finance the coal plants. The group contends that the coal-fired plants will emit 78 million tons of carbon dioxide a year.
    - Carbon is not a regulated emission, but in anticipation that it may soon be regulated, TXU is making its plants carbon capture and storage ready, which means they are being built with enough room that carbon capture technology can be added…
    - The carbon management program at UT aims to develop technology that could reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fueled power plants by 90 percent.
    - TXU's donation will cover a six-year program to improve an existing process for capturing carbon dioxide so it uses at least 10 percent less energy…The money from TXU Power will be matched from a dozen or more other power companies…

    Monday, February 26, 2007

    BATTERY SCANDAL

    President Bush touted plug-in hybrid technology at his Governors' Conference talk this morning. He didn't seem to be entirely clear on the technology but he seemed to have a favorable impression of it.

    Original reporting at
    EV World from Forbes Bagatelle-Black:

    NiMH Batteries: Obsolete Technology or Suppressed EV Solution?
    Forbes Bagatelle-Black, February 23, 2007 (EV World)

    - Nobody supports electric vehicle development more enthusiastically than Sherry Boschert. During a recent interview, she told me, “We’ve got about a ten-year window to stop burning carbon. After that, the worst effects of global warming due to greenhouse gas emissions will be unavoidable. We need to get lots of plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) on the road, and we need to do it RIGHT NOW!”
    - Boschert’s book, Plug-In Hybrids, The Cars That Will Recharge America is an eloquent, meticulously-researched work that lays out not only the history of PHEVs, but also a roadmap to making them a ubiquitous mode of transportation for Americans in the very near future…
    - …Boschert describes many obstacles hindering widespread production of PHEVs, but none are more important to her than the difficulties that EV developers encounter when they try to obtain large-format nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries. She details the series of events which ultimately resulted in Chevron Oil gaining control of the patents covering most large-format NiMH batteries. While she does not accuse Chevron explicitly, the implication is clear; Chevron, and the combined

    strength of the oil/automotive industrial complex, now controls the production of these batteries and they are going to squash the technology flatter than Los Angeles’s “Red Cars,” the streetcars which used to transport Angelinos everywhere until automotive interests allegedly bought them and dismantled the system.
    - Others agree wholeheartedly with Boschert’s conclusions. EV activist Doug Korthof recently referred to EVs using NiMH batteries as “the ONLY solution to global warming”. This controversy burns up an amazing amount of bandwidth on the blogosphere. Type “PHEV NiMH patent suppression” into your internet search engine and prepare for an avalanche of hits…The activist crowd is firmly convinced that NiMH batteries could help save the planet if they were only given the chance…
    - Professor Andy Frank at University of California, Davis, has spent decades building a series of electric vehicles with teams of students…His teams have used both NiMH Batteries and lithium ion (Li-Ion) batteries…I asked Frank if Li-Ion batteries, which can store twice as much energy as NiMH batteries of the same weight, have rendered NiMH batteries technologically obsolete. “Not yet…but Li-Ion is catching up fast…they will be comparable in cost per kW*h but they [Li-Ion] are one half the weight.”

    - However, Frank has not dismissed NiMH batteries entirely…“The metal hydride batteries I have are over ten years old and they still work. Lithium chemistry is too new to tell.”
    - Other “technical types” tend to be even more pro-lithium than Frank. JB Straubel, chief technical officer at Tesla Motors, feels that NiMH batteries are nearly obsolete…Tom Gage, president of EV-maker AC Propulsion, echoes Straubel’s thoughts…

    PG & E NEEDS YOUR BATTERY

    In association with this, see the article above and the quote to the right from Sherry.

    PG & E eyes power grid plan to boost electric cars
    Lenard Andersen, February 23, 2007 (Reuters via Yahoo News)

    - California's biggest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., is considering a plan to charge fleets of battery-powered cars overnight with wind energy and let consumers sell back some of the stored electricity during the day.
    - In addition to reducing oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from standard cars, the plan could help stoke production of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and give power managers more energy capacity on the grid for hot summer afternoons…
    - The utility, a subsidiary of PG&E Corp., "could recharge car batteries through electric outlets during the off-peak overnight hours and recharge the grid from the batteries during critical peak demand periods," Hal LaFlash, director of energy policy and planning at PG&E, said.
    - In California, wind power is the biggest renewable source, with more…to be added to meet the state's goal for renewable supplies…

    - Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy also is studying smart-grid technologies and recharging hybrid electric vehicles and feeding excess power back to the grid…
    - Colorado found that electric cars may reduce the overall cost of owning a car, and with new grid technology, cut harmful vehicle emissions by up to 50 percent…
    - A power grid-to-car-batteries hookup, however, is probably at least five to six years away, Felix Kramer, founder of CalCars [a nonprofit group which has built about 20 plug-ins since 2004 by outfitting the Toyota Prius with new lithium-ion batteries] said…Improving battery technologies to boost energy density at lower weight and cost is a hurdle, but progress on lithium ion battery packs could help develop a bigger market for plug-in cars, Kramer said…
    - Some electric cars are likely to be small and aimed at urban dwellers…

    - Jan-Olaf Willums, chairman of Norway's TH!NK Electric Car Co., is betting he will find a market…The company raised $25 million…It expects to begin production in Norway in September…
    - PG&E's LaFlash said new "smart grid" technologies such as high-tech meters that measure electricity use via remote control and give customers timing and pricing options could help drivers charge their batteries at home or parking lots and also get a bill credit for putting excess electricity back on the grid…Metering and billing systems would be equipped to match a car to an account…connections could be made from homes and office buildings to a smart grid, storing energy at off-peak and delivering more capacity to the grid at peak periods…

    Sunday, February 25, 2007

    OSCAR LOVES AL!



    BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
    “An Inconvenient Truth”
    BEST ORIGINAL SONG
    “I Need to Wake Up” from “An Inconvenient Truth,” Melissa Etheridge



    NEW ENERGY, NEW JOBS

    Somebody tell Michael Moore! There’s a movie about New Energy here! And it might have a happy ending!

    Study predicts jobs in energy; Savings from efficiency tallied
    Alejandro Bodipo-Memba, February 22, 2007 (The Detroit Free Press)
    - [Energizing Michigan's Economy: Creating Jobs, Reducing Pollution with Energy Efficiency and Renewable Electric Power]…by

    Environment Michigan suggests that increased reliance on renewable energy sources and energy efficiency could create 6,800 jobs with $3.3 billion in new salaries, reduce power plant emissions by 30% and save $2.2 billion in energy bills for Michigan residents by 2020…
    - The premise of the study is that Gov. Jennifer Granholm's 21st Century Energy Plan doesn't go far enough when it comes to achieving energy savings for residents…if Michigan were to invest $225 million a year in an "effective energy efficiency program," the state could limit electricity demand and reduce the need to build new power plants…

    - Environment Michigan is pushing for a renewable energy standard that would require Michigan to generate 20% of its electricity from renewable sources and avoid the need to build new power plants.
    - Granholm's energy plan recommends a standard of more than 10% by 2015.
    - Reports from the Michigan Public Service Commission point out that new electricity generation will be needed…

    AUSTIN & DENVER: NEW ENERGY OPPORTUNITIES

    ATI, Austin Energy form test-bed partnership
    February 21, 2007 (Austin Business Journal)

    - The Austin Technology Incubator is partnering with Austin Energy to create a testing ground for alternative energy companies looking to bring their technology to market. The groups say the test-bed is the first of its kind in the United States…
    - Under the partnership, participating companies will plug their technology into Austin Energy's grid to prove whether it is viable. The incubator will hold a clean energy venture summit in May where startup companies can present their models to venture capitalists and energy companies…
    - The Austin Technology Incubator is a project of the University of Texas' IC2 Institute. The Clean Energy Incubator provides in-house consulting, financial referrals and office infrastructure to companies focused on clean energy technologies.

    Renewable energy agreement is signed
    February 21, 2007 (Denver Business Journal)

    - The Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory Agreement was signed Wednesday, creating a collaboration to develop new energy technologies…
    - The agreement is between the University of Colorado at Boulder, the Colorado School of Mines, Colorado State University and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory…
    - The Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory will work with public agencies, private companies, nonprofit institutions and all of Colorado's universities and colleges to increase the development and use of energy from renewable resources…

    NEW ENERGY GOES TO TOWN

    A green energy effort has the wind in its sails; Environmentally conscious citizens are finding the power to adapt municipal buildings
    Melissa Beecher, February 22, 2007 (The Boston Globe)

    - A grass-roots effort to fight global warming and high utility bills is sprouting in the suburbs, as advocates push for renewable energy in schools and local governments…
    - …groups promoting fossil fuel alternatives are urging residents to contribute to the New England Wind Fund to qualify for free 2-kilowatt solar energy systems to be used by the towns' municipal buildings.
    - …solar panels atop Hormel Stadium and [Medford] City Hall are already saving the city $2,000 a year…

    - University of Massachusetts facility managers have invested in wind energy to help power residence halls.
    - The changes often begin with grass-roots efforts…
    - Nancy Nolan and Keith Ohmart are two members of Lexington's Global Warming Action Coalition trying to rally 300 households in town to make donations to the New England Wind Fund…"The big picture is that a program like this shows what everyday people can do," said Nolan.
    - Ten communities -- including Arlington, Cambridge, Brookline, and Newton -- have signed on…
    - Lexington's Solar Challenge is connected to a statewide program known as Clean Energy Choice that promises solar panels to cities and towns…To participate, 150 households in a community must pledge $5 per month or make a one-time contribution of $100 …
    - In Arlington, the citizen group Sustainable Arlington has mobilized to promote the program…

    - Patricia Barry , director of Medford's energy and environmental office, said the city saves upward of $2,000 annually thanks to solar panels atop Hormel Stadium and City Hall…Medford was the first community in the state to have a climate action plan and is currently reviewing options to bring wind power to the city…
    - UMass-Lowell physical plant director David Kiser said that despite the higher price tag, the school is an example of how renewable energy can work…Although the power costs approximately 3 percent more than traditional energy sources, the school realized it needed to offset its impact on the environment…UMass also installed solar panels atop Ball Hall to offset that facility's electric costs and to determine how much power can be generated through additional panels on campus…

    NEW ENERGY SOURCE?

    Scientists Convert Heat to Power Using Organic Molecules, May Lead to New Energy Source
    February 15, 2007 (University of California, Berkeley via Science Daily)
    - Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have successfully generated electricity from heat by trapping organic molecules between metal nanoparticles, an achievement that could pave the way toward the development of a new source for energy.

    - The discovery…published…Feb. 15 in Science Express, an electronic publication of the journal Science, is a milestone in the quest for efficient ways to directly convert heat into electricity. Currently, the dominant method of power generation involves burning fossil fuels to create heat, often in the form of steam, to spin a turbine that, in turn, drives a generator that produces electricity.
    - An estimated 90 percent of the world's electricity - from power plants to car engines - is created through this indirect conversion of heat…a great deal of heat is wasted and released…
    - For the past 50 years, utilizing this wasted heat has been a major focus of research into thermoelectric converters, which employ a simpler, more direct method of generating electricity.

    Such converters rely upon the Seebeck effect, a phenomenon in which a voltage is created when the junctions of two different metals are kept at different temperatures…thermoelectric generators operate at a paltry 7 percent efficiency, compared with the 20 percent efficiency rate for traditional heat engines…[and] are made up of exotic, expensive metal alloys, such as bismuth and tellurium, making them too costly and impractical…
    - The new UC Berkeley study marks the first time the Seebeck effect has been measured in an organic molecule, laying the groundwork for the development of more cost-effective thermoelectric converters…
    - The researchers coated two gold electrodes with molecules of benzenedithiol, dibezenedithiol or tribenzenedithiol, then heated one side to create a temperature differential. For each degree Celsius of difference, the researchers measured 8.7 microvolts of electricity for benzenedithiol, 12.9 microvolts for dibezenedithiol, and 14.2 microvolts for tribenzenedithiol. The maximum temperature differential tested was 30 degrees Celsius (54 degrees Fahrenheit)…

    - The next step for the researchers includes testing different organic molecules and metals, as well as fine tuning the assembly of the structure…[and] the field of organic thermoelectricity could open doors to a new, inexpensive source of energy…

    Saturday, February 24, 2007

    OSCAR LIKES AL

    List of Nominees
    January 23, 2007 (NY Times)
    - ...the 79th Annual Academy Award nominations...BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

  • “Deliver Us From Evil”

  • “An Inconvenient Truth”

  • “Iraq in Fragments”

  • “Jesus Camp”

  • “My Country, My Country”


  • And the winner is...

    Al Gore “Thrilled” by Oscar Nominations
    Beth Fouhy, January 23, 2007 (AP via Breitbart.com)

    - Who says politics is show business for ugly people? "An Inconvenient Truth," Al Gore's film on the perils of global warming, scored two Oscar nominations…for best documentary feature and best original song.
    - …the film's director, David Guggenheim, won the nod, as did singer Melissa Etheridge for the song "I Need to Wake Up"…
    - "The film ... has brought awareness of the climate crisis to people in the United States and all over the world," Gore said in an e-mail statement. "I am so grateful to the entire team and pleased that the Academy has recognized their work. This film proves that movies really can make a difference."

    - Aides say the former vice president plans to walk the red carpet with Hollywood's beautiful people at the Academy Awards ceremony…
    - "An Inconvenient Truth" has been a critical and box office success, bringing in more than $24 million to make it the third highest- grossing documentary in history. A companion book has been on national best-seller lists for months…
    - Gore…said he's not planning to run for president again but also has not ruled it out.

    Aybody chanting "Draft Gore" yet?

    BARCLAYS BANKING ON THE CARBON TRADE

    Barclays taps into demand for global carbon market
    Jane Merriman (with Barbara Lewis), February 19, 2007 (Reuters via Washington Post)

    - Barclays Capital is to launch what it says is the first global investment tool to tap investors' growing appetite for exposure to trading in greenhouse gases.
    - Barclays' new tracker, set to launch soon, also illustrates the growing diversity and sophistication of commodity and energy investment products.
    - Torsten de Santos, head of commodity investor solutions at Barclays Capital, said the tracker was the first of its kind on a global scale…


    - The World Bank estimates global trade in carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas, was worth more than $20 billion last year.
    - The European Union already has a carbon trading market, where companies trade credits that allow them to emit carbon dioxide…
    - There is growing pressure from industry players and some governments for an emissions trading market on a global scale…Jeroen van der Veer, chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell called for a global "cap and trade" system as a way to cut carbon emissions…Exxon Mobil chief executive Rex Tillerson has also urged countries to work together toward a global policy to fight climate change…

    - The new product is essentially an index tracker, but one designed to track the price of global emission credits…
    - Commodities investment has mushroomed from $5 billion in 1999 to around $120 billion…Traditionally investors have used indexes, or baskets of commodities, to gain exposure to the raw materials assets class, but now there is a host of tailor-made products that can generate returns regardless of market direction.
    - Barclays Capital has by far the largest share of the commodities structured products market and…[there is] massive investor interest in new environmental markets such as carbon and biofuels…

    QUESTIONS, ANSWERS: CARBON CAP-AND-TRADE

    Carbon taxes vs. emissions trading: politics and other practical problems
    Gar Lipow, 20 February 2007 (Grist)
    - Charles Komanoff's excellent work on carbon taxes vs. emission trading tends to attract certain frequent objections. This is an attempt to answer some of them:

    - …Politically, we can never win a carbon tax.
    Answer: Cap and trade has political heft mainly because it was instituted at a low level over a long period of time -- thus it did not require very high emission reductions…emission credits can be bought from nations without such caps, the emission reduction as a percent of total emissions in countries taking part in the Kyoto negotiations is even lower than the nominal target…there is no question that a fair percentage of Kyoto credits are fraudulent -- excessive credits were granted to EU utilities, and many of the CDM credits sold in China are bogus…Put a tight enough cap on the number of credits, with stricter controls to prevent fraud, and you will find political resistance is as great as resistance to a carbon tax.
    - …You need high prices indeed to lower carbon use.

    Answer: Elasticity is as much a problem for cap and trade systems as for carbon taxes. Carbon prices have fallen under cap and trade because the system is producing extremely small emission drops, and because of fraudulent credits. A cap and trade system that actually resulted in the main signatories dropping their emissions the percent originally agreed to would have raised credit prices exactly as high as a carbon tax (or perhaps slightly less -- at the expense of delaying technology improvements, resulting in higher costs at later stages)…under both systems…add regulation and public initiatives that compensate…
    - Cap and trade…guarantee[s] a given reduction.
    …If you want something close to a guarantee, a carbon tax could have a built-in escalator that would raise taxes if emission reductions were lower…
    - What will stop import of goods from nations without a carbon tax?

    - …same problem with a carbon trading system…same solution…charge a tariff (or require carbon permits) from non-cooperators.
    - Carbon Taxes…cost the poor more than the prosperous, the prosperous more than the wealthy.
    Answer: So are emission caps. The price of emission credits gets passed along to consumers, one way or another. There is a simple solution…use the revenues for the benefit of ordinary people, either by dividing the revenue equally…or by using them for beneficial purposes…I favor dividing the revenues…a number of states are proposing substituting per-mile taxes for per-gallon gasoline taxes, because hybrids and other efficient vehicles are costing them highway revenues…Peter Barnes proposed this year ago inWho Owns the Sky...
    - …refundable carbon taxes directed towards industries rather than individuals.

    Answer: One problem…industries…won't necessarily pass along refunds to customers. But really, refunding to individuals meets most of the goals…A polluter has to pay a carbon tax or buy emission credits and raise prices…Consumers receive the revenue raised and use it to pay the extra prices. Both consumers and polluters have incentives…they can save much more by doing so…
    - Pollution taxes provide revenue to…government…trading is purely private…no nasty taxes.
    Answer: Both pollution taxes and emission trading systems require massive government intervention…Even when we give permits away, it is still a tax system…where the taxes are collected by private institutions for their private benefit…

    CLEANER CLOTHES, CLEANER WORLD

    Real estate is about location, location, location; Energy is about efficiency, efficiency, efficiency.

    Energy Tips: A More Efficient Way to Do Laundry; Front-Loading Washers And Dryers Cut Down On Time And Money
    Steve Baskerville, February 14, 2007 (CBS2Chicago)
    - There’s a lot of energy to be conserved, and money saved, in your laundry room…what machine you use, and how you use it, can make a world of difference.

    - Running your washer with full loads and cold water is certainly the most economical use of energy…
    - But front-loaders “…use approximately half the water that the top-load machines use,” said Shelly Cohen of Abt Electronics. “That's going from about 40 gallons per load down to about 20.”
    - …not only are you saving water, but you're saving on the gas or electricity to heat that water…when it's time to dry the clothes, you'll notice an improvement in the washer's spin cycle…
    - “There’s more moisture extracted, so the drying time, the drying energy, the wear-and-tear on the dryer's reduced,” Cohen said. “Over the life of the unit you'll save considerable dollars.”
    - Although the initial cost of front-loaders runs fairly high, you'll make your money back in the savings on energy, water and even soap.

    CAN’T CLEAN COAL

    Politicians and pundits talk about clean coal technology like its ready to go but there’s no such thing right now, there’s only the hope for it in the future.

    Experts debate the best way to make coal cleaner; Doubts exist on main technologies for capturing carbon
    Matthew Wald, February 21, 2007 (International Herald Tribune)
    - Within the next few years, U.S. power companies are planning to build about 150 coal plants…none of the plants will be able to capture the thousands of tons of carbon dioxide each will spew into the atmosphere.

    - Environmentalists are worried, but they put their faith in a technology that gasifies the coal before burning because such plants are designed, they say, to be more adaptable to separating the carbon and storing it underground.
    - Most utility officials counter that the gasification approach is more expensive and less reliable, but they say not to worry because their tried-and- true method, known as pulverized coal, can also be equipped later with hardware to capture the global warming gas.
    - But now, influential technical experts are casting doubts on both approaches…

    - A major new study by faculty members at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, scheduled for release soon, concludes in a draft version that it is not clear which technology — the so-called integrated gasification combined cycle or pulverized coal — would allow for the easiest carbon capture, because so much engineering work remains to be done…
    - Retrofitting either a gasification or pulverized coal power plant is not just a matter of adding new equipment and might be impractical, the experts say. Temperatures and pressures would be designed to be in one range for a plant that captured its carbon, and another if it merely produced electricity with minimum use of fuel. Less fuel means less carbon dioxide production.
    - Adding carbon capture later also has implications for power supply.
    - Early estimates are that carbon capture will require so much energy that it could reduce plant output by 10 percent to 30 percent.

    - Some experts say that the best choice may vary according to the type of coal used…
    - The technical assessment is certainly at odds with the hopes expressed by environmentalists…

    - Others point out that carbon capture from gas made from coal has proven workable, at least at a relatively small nonpower plant that manufactures methane, but that it is still unproven at a large power plant. They say the only way to prove its feasibility is to go ahead now, rather than simply build plants to be modified later…
    - Some environmentalists dispute the need for new coal plants, but unless there is very rapid progress soon in adopting energy efficiencies or developing the ability to extract and store huge amounts of wind and solar power at reasonable cost, more coal plants seem certain.
    - Compared with cleaner fossil fuels, like natural gas and oil, coal is cheaper and more widely available. So finding a way to capture the greenhouse gases from these plants is critical…it is easier to remove…conventional pollutants from plants that use gasification. But they are more expensive to build, and the industry has little experience with their reliability…
    - "It will work," Randy Zwirn, the chief executive of Siemens Power Generation, said of the ability to separate carbon from a gasified coal plant. "The question is, can it be done economically?"

    *