MORE NEWS, 2-26 (CARRYING MONTANA/WYOMING WIND; SMART GRID FOR THE EV; TWO WORDS – PLASTICS & SUN; THE FALL OF ETHANOL)
CARRYING MONTANA/WYOMING WIND
TransCanada wins approval for U.S. wind power lines
Tina Seeley, February 19, 2009 (Bloomberg News via Financial Post)
"TransCanada Corp. won federal approval of its rate plan for two proposed power transmission lines that would primarily deliver wind-generated energy from Montana and Wyoming to the southwestern U.S.
"The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in Washington [approved]…the projects -- a 1,000-mile line known as Chinook that would stretch from Montana to Nevada and a 1,100-mile line, known as Zephyr, stretching from Wyoming to Nevada. Both would end south of Las Vegas….
"The U.S. has inadequate transmission capacity to carry the electricity that wind and solar power projects could produce, according to a report [from the Solar Energy Industries Association and the American Wind Energy Association]…Wind-power projects waiting to be hooked up to transmission lines could supply 20% of the nation's electricity needs…"
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"Each of [TransCanada Corp.’s] transmission lines will be capable of carrying 3,000 megawatts of electricity and aims to serve markets in southern Nevada, Arizona and California. Chinook could be in service by late 2014…
"The regulatory commission for the first time approved a model that permits half of the capacity of the lines to be reserved by an "anchor customer," instead of having an open season for all of a line's capacity…
"The US$787-billion stimulus legislation signed this week by President Barack Obama includes at least US$14-billion in tax breaks for wind and solar electricity and establishes a grant program to help finance projects. It also devotes US$11-billion to new transmission lines and so-called smart-grid technology."
SMART GRID FOR THE EV
IBM Joins EDISON Project to Build Smart Grid for Electric Cars
February 25, 2009 (CNN Money)
"IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced its membership in the EDISON research consortium, a Denmark-based collaborative aimed at developing an intelligent infrastructure that will make possible the large scale adoption of electric vehicles powered by sustainable energy.
"The EDISON effort (Electric Vehicles in a Distributed and Integrated Market using Sustainable Energy and Open Networks) consists of IBM, Denmark's largest energy company DONG Energy, the regional energy company of Oestkraft, Technical University of Denmark, Siemens, Eurisco and the Danish Energy Association. Due to the environmental benefits of the electric vehicle technologies, the research will be partly funded by the Danish government."
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"Market introduction and investment plans in Denmark will result in upwards of 10% of the country's vehicles being all electric or hybrid electric during the coming years…To achieve this on a large scale, electric vehicles require smart technologies to control charging and billing and to ensure the stability of the overall energy system…
"The first step of the consortium is to develop smart technologies to be implemented on the Danish island of Bornholm, designed to function as a testbed. The island has 40,000 inhabitants and an energy infrastructure characterized by a large proportion of wind energy…The studies will be simulation-based…"
From IBMAdvertising via YouTube.
"… researchers from IBM Denmark and from IBM's Zurich Research Laboratory will develop smart technologies that synchronize the charging of the electric vehicles with the availability of wind in the grid…
"While various companies have announced initiatives in Denmark that will contribute to the overall adoption of an electric vehicle system, EDISON will address the entire end-to-end process to make the system possible… ensuring overall grid stability and supporting the increased use of renewable energy…IBM is working with clients in nearly 50 Smart Grid engagements … "
TWO WORDS – PLASTICS & SUN
Solar Energy Performance With Plastic Solar Cells Improved With New Method
February 25, 2009 (Science Daily)
"The University of Alberta and the National Research Council's National Institute (NINT) for Nanotechnology have engineered an approach that is leading to improved performance of plastic solar cells (hybrid organic solar cells). The development of inexpensive, mass-produced plastic solar panels is a goal of intense interest for many of the world's scientists and engineers because of the high cost and shortage of the ultra-high purity silicon and other materials normally required."
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"Plastic solar cells are made up of layers of different materials, each with a specific function, called a sandwich structure…One layer absorbs the light, another helps to generate the electricity, and others help to draw the electricity out of the device…
"After two years of research, these U of A and NINT scientists have, by only working on one part of the sandwich, seen improvements of about 30 per cent in the efficiency of the working model…
"The team estimates it will be five to seven years before plastic solar panels will be mass produced but…when it happens solar energy will be available to everyone…the next generation of solar technology belongs to plastic…"
THE FALL OF ETHANOL
Ethanol, Just Recently a Savior, Is Struggling
Clifford Krauss, February 11, 2009 (NY Times)
"Barely a year after Congress enacted an energy law meant to foster a huge national enterprise capable of converting plants and agricultural wastes into automotive fuel, the goals lawmakers set for the ethanol industry are in serious jeopardy.
"As recently as last summer, plants that make ethanol from corn were sprouting across the Midwest. But now, with motorists driving less in the economic downturn, the industry is burdened with excess capacity, and plants are shutting down virtually every week."
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"In the meantime, plans are lagging for a new generation of factories that were supposed to produce ethanol from substances like wood chips and crop waste, overcoming the drawbacks of corn ethanol. That nascent branch of the industry concedes it has virtually no chance of meeting Congressional production mandates that kick in next year.
"The decline in fortunes has been extreme…Only months ago, refiners in some regions were buying up as much corn ethanol as they could…But since the summer, oil and gasoline prices have plunged, while the price of corn, from which virtually all commercial ethanol in this country is made, has remained relatively high…
"The government’s Energy Information Administration recently projected that the industry would fall short of the targets for expanded use of ethanol and other biofuels that Congress set in a 2007 energy law…"
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"VeraSun Energy, one of the nation’s largest ethanol producers, has suspended production at 12 of its 16 plants…Renew Energy, Cascade Grain Products and Northeast Biofuels have filed for bankruptcy protection. Pacific Ethanol said it would suspend operations…
"…Congress mandated a doubling of corn ethanol use…[and]the use of an additional 21 billion gallons of ethanol and other biofuels produced from materials collectively known as biomass…it is becoming clear that even these modest targets will not be met…"