MORE NEWS, 11-3: WIND WILL PAY YOU TO CHARGE YOUR EV; STILL NEWER SOLAR; UTILITY IN BIG GEOTHERMAL BUYS; MONEY BACKS OFF NEXT-GEN BIOFUELS
WIND WILL PAY YOU TO CHARGE YOUR EV
Future May Involve Getting Paid to Charge Your Plug-in Vehicle
Joanna Schroeder, October 30, 2009 (Gas 2.0 via Reuters)
"…In West Texas and Illinois, electric customers are being paid to use electricity. With the growth of wind energy in areas like Texas, Iowa and Minnesota, electric companies are occasionally producing more energy-especially during off-peak hours-than they can use. Why not store it you ask? Because there are not yet any good ways to store energy…[T]he oversupply of electricity has forced prices into the negative range. The result: some customers are paid to use electricity.
"…[P]lug-in electric vehicles (PHEVs, BEVs, EREVs, etc.) can take advantage of the extra electricity during off hours. The first upside is that you may get paid to charge your plug-in…The second advantage is that much of the electricity generated at night is from wind…[which means using less] coal, a thorn in the side of the electric vehicle industry."
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"…Wind turbine owners collect a production tax credit of 2.1 cents per kilowatt hour when they are producing electricity…[T]hey don't want to shut down the turbines so they'd rather pay customers a "fee" that is less than the subsidy to consumer power…This is an example of passing along a subsidy to help lower energy costs for consumers…[T]his program is not sustainable…[But] until our government decides to rid itself of ALL subsidies (including coal, oil, renewable energy, agriculture, etc.) our other option is to finally create an economically feasible way to store energy.
"…Along with the energy start-up company Energy Storage & Power, the city has their eye on developing a [Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES)] storage plant for the price tag of $250 million. Expensive but less costly than traditional gas plants. The technology works in that primarily using wind energy, compressed air is pumped into an underground reservoir during off-peak hours and then released during peak hours providing electricity. The proposed plant would provide an output capacity of 300 mega-watts, similar to a mid-sized power plant producing electricity for 10 hours…[I]t will take five years to complete the project."
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"The CAES technology is being designed to…help match supply and demand on the electricity grid and serve as a go-between for producers and users…[I]t enables the storage of alternative energy such as solar or wind, until it is needed during peak times…[C]ompressed air energy storage costs far less and lasts far longer than the alternatives, including batteries, pumped hydro, flywheels, magnetic storage or supercapacitors…[and] batteries in the PHEVs could also become a source of storage…making the car owners day traders of electricity. The trader would store the electricity in his PHEV battery at night and then sell it back during daytime peak hours…[This] would require a smart grid, but we're well on our way towards that…
"…[A]nother option: wind generation forecasting. Weather Services International (WSI) in conjunction with Genescape have launched WindCast IQ, the first wind generation forecasting service designed for energy traders. The increase in wind power in some areas has caused congestion and price volatility…[T]he solution is WindCastIQ, which gives clients highly accurate hourly forecasts for up to 7 days of wind generation at the ISO-level, regional and wind farm level…"
STILL NEWER SOLAR
UA solar device may create energy as cheaply as coal
November 1, 2009 (Arizona Daily Star)
"The University of Arizona's Steward Observatory Mirror Lab has produced the first prototype of a solar device that inventor Roger Angel hopes will eventually produce electricity from the sun at a price rivaling the cheapest fossil fuels.
"Angel's design uses mirrors — 21 segments arrayed in a parabola on a lightweight aluminum frame — to focus the sun's light on a small solar cell."
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"The first prototype [is being shipped] to Raytheon Missile Systems, which could use the design to build portable solar generators for battlefield deployment, said Eric Betterton, a UA professor of atmospheric sciences who is principal investigator for the project."
From uanews via YouTube
"The prototype, developed by the UA with grants from Science Foundation Arizona, cost about $300,000 to engineer and assemble, with its mirrors forged individually in the mirror lab and hand-coated.
"Angel, the Mirror Lab's founder and director, said the device uses only about $200 worth of glass and eventually could be mass-produced for $1,500. At that price, the device would produce energy for $1 a watt, making it as cheap as coal-burning electrical plants."
UTILITY IN BIG GEOTHERMAL BUYS
PG&E Buys Additional Geothermal Power From Calpine
October 30, 2009 (PR Newswire via Rueters)
"Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E)… announced an agreement with Geysers ower Company, LLC, a subsidiary of Calpine Corporation, to increase and extend the utility's purchases of renewable geothermal power."
How conventional geothermal energy generates electricity. (click to enlarge)
"PG&E currently has two power purchase agreements with Geysers totaling about 375 megawatts (MW) per year, with enough renewable energy to meet the needs of more than 450,000 average homes. Those agreements expire between the end of 2012 and the end of 2014. The new deal, if approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, would extend the term for Geysers energy through 2021. Total capacity is expected to increase about 50 MW to a total of 425 MW from 2010 through 2017, dropping to a total of about 250 MW from 2018 through 2021.
"Geothermal power is a particularly valuable renewable resource because it is highly dependable. Available around the clock, it is less affected by weather, seasons or other factors that create technical challenges for managing some other kinds of renewable power…"
The deeper you drill, the hotter it gets. (click to enlarge)
"Pacific Gas and Electric Company…is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with 20,000employees, the company delivers some of the nation's cleanest energy to 15 million people in Northern and Central California."
MONEY BACKS OFF NEXT-GEN BIOFUELS
U.S. advanced biofuel sector finds lenders wary
Charles Abbott (w/David Gregario), October 29, 2009 (Reuters)
"U.S. lenders are leery of putting money into cellulosic ethanol and other new-generation biofuels due to the recession and an industry shakeout, Agriculture Department and biofuel leaders said…
"That is one reason near-term production of advanced biofuels is unlikely to meet targets set by a 2007 energy law…Several witnesses at a House Agriculture subcommittee hearing on the future of new-generation biofuels pointed to difficulties in securing credit…"
From Cal Tech's Professor Frances Arnold. (click to enlarge)
"Agriculture Undersecretary Dallas Tonsager said lenders also were discouraged by an industry shake-out last year that included the bankruptcy of the largest producer due to rising grain costs and a drop in petroleum prices…Plants with roughly 12 billion gallons of annual capacity are in operation now while 1.2 billion gallons in capacity is idle…USDA has awarded two loan guarantees totaling $105 million for advanced biofuels projects. Two applications remain under consideration…Some applicants were rejected because they did not have a lender behind the project, Tonsager said.
"New-generation projects often have costs that equal $10 a gallon or more for small-scale plants, well above corn-based ethanol and petroleum. Proponents say costs will drop rapidly for a commercial-size plant…as technology is refined…Rajiv Shah, Agriculture undersecretary for research, said he was optimistic of a significant improvement over the next five to seven years in the economics of new-generation biofuels. Feedstocks account for one-half to two-thirds of the cost of biofuels, he said, so it is important to develop biomass crops and improvements in converting crops into fuels…"
The plan. Not likely. (click to enlarge)
"Ethanol industry officials suggested that producers should receive government grants for start-up costs instead of tax credits after they begin production…They also said Congress should extend a cellulosic fuels production tax credit to cover all fuels produced before 2022 instead of the current cutoff of 2012…[They] suggested that Congress create a "green bank" using government funds to support advanced biofuels and other clean energy projects…[and] said the USDA should relax its loan-guarantee rules to make it easier for advanced biofuels projects to obtain financing.
"…[T]he renewable fuels standard [was] created by the 2007 energy law. It calls for use of 36 billion gallons a year of biofuels by 2022, most of it from new-generation feedstocks…[but biofuels producers are] unhappy with proposed U.S. environmental rules that would cover how biofuels meet requirements to reduce greenhouse gases."