Think electric cars are all wires and no voltage? Go ahead and keep thinking that if you wish, while Europe and China wave to the U.S. in their mirrors, writes Thomas Friedman.
The world's largest hydrogen fuel cell, from Burnaby, B.C.-based Ballard Power Systems, took a trip to Ohio in August, as First Energy prepared to launch it on a five-year trial run. The 1-megawatt system (pictured) can generate enough power for 500 homes on its own, and is transportable. According to Ballard, it's also capable of running off by-product hydrogen from chemical plants to generate clean electricity for sale to the power grid or to power the plant. That's exactly what Ballard will now be doing with K2 Pure Solutions at their bleach plant in California. Ballard fuel cells are also powering zero-emission bus fleets, providing backup power solutions to cell phone companies in Canada and around the world and powering fleets of forklift trucks at major distribution centers.
How is your company or sector performing in carbon performance and disclosure? Check out the latest reports just issued by the Carbon Disclosure project, including sector-specific reports from such sectors as industrials and utilities. Leaders in the industrials category are Siemens, Deutsche Post, Philips Electronics, CSX and Saint-Gobain.
One of the divisions of carbon-aware Siemens is Osram Sylvania, which in September released results of its first-ever commercial lighting survey, which collated responses from more than 350 facility decision-makers across multiple end-user categories. Among the findings: Nearly three quarters (71 percent) of facilities and lighting professionals have evaluated their commercial lighting in the past year. And 73 percent of building and lighting professionals indicated they are currently using or planning to use LEDs in their commercial spaces.
Not that long ago, LNG import terminals were considered essential for helping satisfy U.S. energy needs. Now, with shale gas and other alternative natural gas sources heating up, LNG exports may be something to pay attention to. On September 14, the DOE approved an export license to Cheniere Energy's Sabine Pass Liquefaction to export up to 2.2 Bcf/day of LNG from its Cameron Parish site. This summer, Cheniere let a contract to Bechtel for design and construction of a 4 Bcf/day liquefaction facility at the site. To find out more, check out "The Shale Revolution," a conference being held Oct. 21-22 at the Palomar Hotel in Washington, D.C.
A new report from Penn State's Institute for Research in Training & Development, "Benchmarks for Assessing the Potential Impact of a Natural Gas Severance Tax on the Pennsylvania Economy," finds that, potentially, every $100 million in production costs that are imposed on oil and gas companies through a severance tax could have a slight negative impact on the state's economy and population, but these negative effects could be more than offset by the effects of increased spending of severance tax revenue by state and local governments. Pennsylvania is the only major natural gas-producing state that does not impose a severance tax. "Gov. Ed Rendell and proponents see the proposed tax as critical to funding programs aimed at protecting the state's environment, repairing and maintaining infrastructure, and helping support local governments," says the Institute. "The Pennsylvania General Assembly passed the state budget July 6, with the provision that a gas severance tax would be in place by Oct. 1. State lawmakers are still considering passage of the tax." Pennsylvania's seen a boom in gas extraction activity and resulting expansions by energy services companies because of the Marcellus Shale formation.
The Economic Development Administration just awarded $1.4 million to Washington County and the city of Eastport, Maine, for the construction and rehabilitation of the Eastport Business Center and establishment of the Maine Marine Energy Center, a facility which will support manufacturing components for the emerging tidal energy generation industry. This will be the first marine renewable energy manufacturing facility of its kind in the United States. Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC), based in Portland, Maine, announced on August 18 that its Beta Power System, the largest ocean energy power plant ever installed in U.S. waters, has successfully generated grid-compatible power from tidal currents at its Cobscook Bay site in Eastport. The system's core component, the proprietary Turbine Generator Unit, or TGU, is deployed below ORPC's research and testing vessel, and has a maximum design capacity of 60 kilowatts. Even better for the state's economic development, some of the system's metal and composite parts are made in Bangor and Bath, Maine. The final system from ORPC, scheduled for start-up in 2011, is expected to generate enough power for 50 to 75 homes. Partners include the University of Maine and the U.S. Coast Guard station in Eastport.
Tides aren't the only oceanic source of energy savings. In September, Halifax-based Clearwater Seafoods announced an agreement to partner with energy company Thermalfrost Inc. to commercialize energy recovery technology that will use waste heat harnessed from vessel engines to provide onboard freezing capacity while processing at sea.
On Monday, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and other officials celebrated the award of nearly $130 million in federal funds to create the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster (GPIC) for Energy Efficient Buildings at The Navy Yard. Navy Yard is also home to Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania, the 27-year-old program which has partnered with PIDC and others on a new alternative energy development program that will see some $40 million funneled to BFTP's various branches over the next three to four years. At Navy Yard, a new clean energy campus will include two Mid-Atlantic regional projects from the DOE: a clean energy application center and a solar regional training center. They join projects at Navy Yard such as electric test cell facilities from the Navy and from Penn State.
Is your community involved in one of the 648 tours that are part of the National Solar Tour taking place later this week? The 15th annual American Solar Energy Society National Solar Tour features open house tours of thousands of solar-powered homes, businesses, and public agencies. Among the solutions showcased in this year's National Solar Tour are investments that have helped a couple beat Wall Street with their green ROI, an Iraqi war veteran now fighting in the renewable revolution, solar-powered homes, schools, public agencies, condo complexes, and businesses that run the gamut from solar-powered poultry farms to funeral homes.
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"Energy Matters" is compiled, written and edited by Adam Bruns.
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