[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]
ARPA-E to award up to $30M for intermediate-temperature fuel cell systems for distributed generation; exploring storage and power-to-fuels
November 25, 2013
The US Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) will award up to $30 million to fund a new program focused on the development of transformational electrochemical technologies to enable low-cost distributed power generation. ARPA-E anticipates making approximately 12-18 awards under this FOA, with individual awards varying between $250,000 and $10 million. (DE-FOA-0001026)
ARPA-E’s Reliable Electricity Based on ELectrochemical Systems (REBELS) program will develop fuel cell devices that operate in an intermediate temperature range (ITFCs) (200-500 °C) in an attempt to 1) create new pathways to achieve an installed cost to the end-user of less than $1,500/kW at moderate production volumes; and 2) create new fuel cell functionality to increase grid stability and integration of renewable energy technologies such as wind and solar.
Clariant supplying SNG catalyst for methanation unit in Audi’s new “Power-to-Gas” plant
October 21, 2013
Clariant, a global provider of specialty chemicals, has supplied a proprietary CO2-SNG (synthetic natural gas) catalyst for the methanation unit of Audi’s new power-to-gas facility in Werlte, Germany. (Earlier post.)
The “e-gas plant” was started up in June this year and is part of Audi’s sustainability initiative. The plant, which can convert six megawatts of input power, will utilize renewable electricity for electrolysis, producing oxygen and hydrogen, the latter which could one day power fuel-cell vehicles. Because there is not yet a widespread hydrogen infrastructure, however, the hydrogen is reacted with CO2 in a methanation unit to generate renewable synthetic methane, or Audi e-gas.
Kawasaki Heavy to build first ocean-going liquid hydrogen tanker with demo in 2017; H2 for transport, industry, power in Japan
September 28, 2013
|KHI’s view of a “CO2-free hydrogen chain”. Source: KHI. Click to enlarge.|
The Nikkei reports that Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. (KHI) will build the first ocean-going ships to carry liquefied hydrogen (LH2), with plans for a demonstration test by 2017 in which liquefied hydrogen will be shipped from the state of Victoria in Australia to Japan. The project will cost ¥60 billion (US$610 million), according to the report.
As part of Japan’s WE-NET (World Energy Network) research program of the New Sunshine Project begun in 1993, Kawasaki and its other industrial colleagues in Japan have been considering the large-scale marine transportation of liquid hydrogen for some time (e.g., Abe et al., 1998). KHI has previously discussed the concept of such a hydrogen-carrying vessel as part of its Business Vision 2020.
EPA recognizes Volkswagen Chattanooga with a Green Power Leadership Award for on-site generation
September 24, 2013
|The 9.5 MW solar park at Chattanooga is owned and operated by Silicon Ranch; VW has signed a 20-year power purchase agreement. Click to enlarge.|
Volkswagen Chattanooga has received a 2013 Green Power Leadership Award from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—the only automaker to be so recognized. The annual awards recognize the country’s leading green power users for their commitment and contribution to helping advance the development of the nation’s voluntary green power market.
Volkswagen Chattanooga was one of only four organizations nationwide to receive a Leadership Award in the category of on-site generation of green power. (The others were Apple; the County of Santa Clara, CA; and Kaiser Permanete.) The award recognizes EPA Green Power Partners who distinguish themselves using on-site renewable energy applications, such as solar photovoltaic (PV) or landfill gas. Volkswagen Chattanooga is currently generating more than 13 million kWh of green power annually from its on-site 9.5 MW solar energy system, which is enough green power to meet 12% of the organization’s electricity use. (Earlier post.)
EPA proposes CO2 emission standards for new fossil fuel-fired power plants
September 20, 2013
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed Clean Air Act standards to reduce CO2 emissions from fossil-fuel fired power plants (electric utility generating units, EGUs). For purposes of this rule, fossil fuel-fired EGUs include utility boilers, IGCC units and certain natural gas-fired stationary combustion turbine EGUs that generate electricity for sale and are larger than 25 megawatts (MW). In addition, EPA said it is working with state, tribal, and local governments, industry and labor leaders, non-profits, and others to establish CO2 standards for existing power plants.
The proposed rulemaking establishes separate standards for natural gas and coal plants. The proposed limits for natural gas units are based on the performance of modern natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) units. New large (>850 mmBtu/h) natural gas-fired turbines would need to meet a limit of 1,000 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour, while new small (≤850mmBtu/h) natural gas-fired turbines would need to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour.
Scuderi Group to build and to install LPG-powered split-cycle generator with compressed air storage capability
September 12, 2013
|Scuderi split-cycle engine in power generator/CAES application. Click to enlarge.|
Scuderi Group, Inc., the developer of the Scuderi Split-Cycle Engine for mobile applications (earlier post) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Asociación de Miembros de la Policia de Puerto Rico for the first Scuderi Split-Cycle Engine to be utilized as a stationary liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) generator with compressed air energy storage (CAES) capability.
The signing of the agreement begins the process of building and installing the first LPG-powered Scuderi power generator and energy storage systems. According to the agreement, Scuderi Group will build and install the power generation units at the Association’s San Juan headquarters and adjoining elderly care facility and at other locations around the island include buildings in Trujillo Alto, Ponce, and Maunabo.
Burns & McDonnell develops bi-directional fast chargers for SPIDERS program
September 01, 2013
|Bi-directional fast charger at Ft. Carson. Click to enlarge.|
A team of Burns & McDonnell engineers, along with subcontractor Coritech Services, has developed a system of bidirectional, fast-charging stations for a fleet of plug-in electric vehicles at Fort Carson, Colo. This first-of-its-kind system will push power back to the base microgrid when needed to meet installation demand or improve overall power quality.
On 29 August, the team successfully commissioned five bidirectional chargers and the aggregating control system as part of the Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration for Energy Reliability and Security (SPIDERS) microgrid project at Fort Carson. (Earlier post.) Commissioning was performed using both Boulder Electric Vehicle and Smith Electric trucks, which are being provided for use on SPIDERS under separate agreements with the US Army’s Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) and Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC).
MIT study says combustion emissions cause ~200,000 premature deaths/year in US; vehicles and power generation top sources
August 29, 2013
Researchers from MIT’s Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment have concluded that ground-level PM2.5 emissions from combustion sources such as industrial smokestacks, vehicle tailpipes, marine and rail operations, and commercial and residential heating throughout the United States cause about 200,000 (90% CI: 90,000–362,000) premature deaths each year, with another 10,000 (90% CI: −1,000 to 21,000) deaths due to changes in ozone concentrations.
Emissions from road transportation are the most significant contributor, causing ∼53,000 (90% CI: 24,000–95,000) PM2.5-related premature deaths and ∼5,000 (90% CI: −900 to 11,000) ozone-related early deaths per year. Power generation follows closely, causing ∼52,000 (90% CI: 23,000–94,000) PM2.5-related and ∼2,000 (90% CI: −300 to 4,000) ozone-related premature mortalities per year. Industrial emissions contribute to ∼41,000 (90% CI: 18,000–74,000) early deaths from PM2.5 and ∼2000 (90% CI: 0–4,000) early deaths from ozone, according to the study.
NREL study suggests cost gap for Western renewables could narrow by 2025
August 26, 2013
A new Energy Department study conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) indicates that by 2025 wind and solar power electricity generation could become cost-competitive without federal subsidies, if new renewable energy development occurs in the most productive locations. The cost of generation includes any needed transmission and integration costs.
The benchmark for the study is based on the projected future cost of a new combined-cycle natural gas turbine (CCGT) built in the destination market, with natural gas in 2025 at a nominal price of between $7.50/mmBtu and $8.43/mmBtu. According to the analysis, by 2025 geothermal generation could on average be 12% to 35% higher than CCCGT baseline; solar 1-19% higher; and wind at parity up to 13% higher.
Rechargeable membrane-less hydrogen bromine flow battery shows high power density
August 16, 2013
|Schematic of reactant flow within the HBLFB. During discharge, liquid bromine is reduced to hydrobromic acid along the lower solid graphite electrode, and hydrogen is oxidized at the upper porous electrode. Credit: Braff et al. Click to enlarge.|
MIT researchers have engineered a new rechargeable, membrane-less hydrogen bromine laminar flow battery with high power density. The membrane-less design enables power densities of 0.795 W cm−2 at room temperature and atmospheric pressure, with a round-trip voltage efficiency of 92% at 25% of peak power.
That is about three times as much power per square centimeter as other membrane-less system—a power density that is an order of magnitude higher than that of many lithium-ion batteries and other commercial and experimental energy-storage systems. A paper on the work is published in Nature Communications.
Exploring the adoption of EVs in the US, Europe and China; charging scenarios and infrastructure
August 06, 2013
|Aspirational targets among seven countries participating in the Electric Vehicle Initiative would see growth from just under 2 million EV and PHEVs to just under 20 million by 2020. Source: “Electric Vehicle Grid Integration”. Click to enlarge.|
A recently published paper by M.J. Bradley & Associates, commissioned by the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP) and the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), examines key drivers of EV adoption in the US, Europe and China, with an emphasis on vehicle charging scenarios and infrastructure.
This report examines hurdles to EV adoption in these regions, and identifies critical success factors that should guide policymakers in the transportation and electric sectors. Accelerating the pace of EV market growth requires a coordinated evolution in both sectors, the report argues, from the power plant to the charging station to the vehicle. Supportive policies should work to ensure that EV owners are able to capture the full economic value of their decision to fuel switch from electricity to gasoline, including any benefits to the grid operator, and any emission reduction benefits, in addition to realizing the savings from replacing gasoline or diesel fuel with electricity.
EPoSil: electroactive polymers for generating electricity from wave power
July 30, 2013
|The EPoSil concept uses dielectric elastomer transducers to generate electrical energy from wave motion. Source: Bosch. Click to enlarge.|
A German consortium involving four companies and and two universities is developing dielectric elastomers (electroactive polymers) for the conversion of mechanical energy—in this case wave power—into electrical power.
The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research is supporting the project known as EPoSil (electroactive polymers based on silicon for power generation) until January 2015 with funding of nearly €2 million (US$2.7 million). This grant is part of the “smart materials for innovative products” program.
Lifecycle analysis of energy use and pollution from gasoline, CNG and electric vehicles in 6 southwestern states highlights variability of benefits
July 29, 2013
|Comparison of greenhouse gas emissions from new vehicles in 2020, EVs by state power mix. Percentages are relative to gasoline baseline. Click to enlarge.|
A report for policymakers issued by the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) has found that in Arizona, Colorado and Nevada, electric vehicles offer the cleanest ride, while in New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming that’s not necessarily the case. SWEEP promotes greater energy efficiency in a six-state region that includes Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.
The report, “Transportation Fuels for the Southwest”, compared the well-to-wheels energy use and air pollution emitted by vehicles fueled by gasoline, compressed natural gas and electricity in order to determine which fuel is cleanest in each of the six southwestern states.
Researchers propose harvesting CO2 mixing energy to generate electricity
July 23, 2013
Researchers in The Netherlands are proposing a new method for harvesting electricity from CO2 emissions. In a paper in the American Chemical Society’s (ACS’) newly launched journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters, they describe an approach to harvesting the mixing energy from combining the CO2 in combustion gases with air in contact with an aqueous electrolyte.
Mixing the CO2 with air represents a source of energy with a total annual worldwide capacity of 1570 TWh, the researchers calculated—about 400 times the annual output of the Hoover Dam (approx. 4.2 GWh). To harvest the mixing energy from CO2 containing gas emissions, they propose using pairs of porous electrodes, one selective for anions and the other selective to cations.
New $30M ARPA-E program to develop new solar conversion and storage technologies; targeting higher solar penetration in mix
July 17, 2013
ARPA-E is making $30 million available to fund a new program entitled “Full-Spectrum Optimized Conversion and Utilization of Sunlight (FOCUS),” which is aimed at advancing new technologies beyond current photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP) technologies to exploit the full solar spectrum and reduce the cost of solar energy when the sun is not shining.
The primary goal of this funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0000949) is to provide disruptive new solar conversion and storage technology options to enable a much higher penetration of solar energy generation into the US energy mix.
Navigant forecasts US military spending on non-tactical alt drive vehicles to more than double to $926M by 2020 from 2013; 11.4% CAGR
July 05, 2013
|Non-tactical vehicle spending by alternative drive type, US Department of Defense: 2013-2020. Source: Navigant Research. Click to enlarge.|
In a new report, Navigant Research forecasts that US military spending on alternative drive vehicles (ADVs—including hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), and ethanol-powered vehicles—for the non-tactical fleet will increase from more than $435 million in 2013 to $926 million by 2020, a CAGR of 11.4%. A majority of the growth will be made through spending on HEVs and PEVs, Navigant projects.
Navigant forecasts that annual fuel consumption in the non-tactical fleet will decrease by a 2.5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) almost from more than 81 million gasoline gallon equivalents (GGEs) in 2013 to just fewer than 70 million GGEs in 2020 due in part to increased use of alternative fuel vehicles.
DOE releases draft of $8B loan guarantee solicitation for advanced fossil energy projects
July 03, 2013
The US Department of Energy (DOE) released a draft for comment of an $8-billion loan guarantee solicitation for innovative and advanced fossil energy projects and facilities that substantially reduce greenhouse gas and other air pollution. The program is part of President Obama’s climate action plan. (Earlier post.)
The Advanced Fossil Energy Projects solicitation, authorized by Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 through Section 1703 of the Loan Guarantee Program, will be open for comments from industry, stakeholders, and the public until early September.
Audi opens power-to-gas facility in Werlte/Emsland; e-gas from water, green electricity and CO2
June 25, 2013
|Audi’s e-gas plant. Click to enlarge.|
The Audi e-gas plant, which can convert 6MW of input power, utilizes renewable electricity for electrolysis to produce oxygen and hydrogen. Because there is not yet a widespread hydrogen infrastructure, the hydrogen is reacted with CO2 in a methanation unit to generate renewable synthetic methane, or Audi e-gas. The e-gas is virtually identical to fossil natural gas and will be distributed via an existing infrastructure—the German natural gas network—to the CNG filling stations beginning in Germany in fall 2013.
New inexpensive catalyst for conversion of CO2 to CO could help with storage of renewable energy
June 23, 2013
Researchers at the University of Delaware have developed an inexpensive bismuth−carbon monoxide evolving catalyst (Bi-CMEC) that can be used in conjunction with ionic liquids to convert CO2 to carbon monoxide (CO) using electricity. CO can then be reacted with H2O via the water−gas shift to generate H2, and this CO/H2 mixture (syngas) can be used to generate synthetic petroleum and liquid fuels using Fischer−Tropsch methods.
The combination, suggests the team in paper published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, could integrate into energy storage and distribution networks to provide a means for renewable energy storage.
Siemens presents three-point plan for implementing cost-efficient energy transition in Germany
June 15, 2013
Germany has embarked on a large-scale Energiewende (energy transition)—a policy-driven shift away from nuclear and fossil energy to a renewable energy economy. Following the Fukushima disaster in 2011, the Federal government oversaw the immediate closure of eight nuclear plants, with the rest of the stations to be shut down by 2022. The government also is maintaining its target of cutting GHG emissions by 40% by 2020 (compared with 1990 levels) and by 80% by 2050.
However, the financial cost of the shift is causing concern. In May, the International Energy Agency released a review of German energy policies that commended the country for its commitment to developing a low-carbon energy system over the long term, but emphasized that further policy measures are necessary if the Energiewende is to maintain a balance between sustainability, affordability and competitiveness. “The fact that German electricity prices are among the highest in Europe, despite relatively low wholesale prices, must serve as a warning signal,” said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven as she presented the report, Energy Policies of IEA Countries – Germany 2013 Review.
“Project Volt Gas Volt” proposes long-term financing plan to support widespread implementation of power-to-gas systems
June 02, 2013
|Project Volt Gas Volt is based on a long-term financing plan and the use of existing technologies for the large-scale conversion of surplus renewable electricity to methane, with subsequent reuse. Diagram: Isabelle Plat. Click to enlarge.|
Corinne Lepage, Member of the European Parliament (and former French Minister of the Environment) and Professor Robert Bell, Brooklyn University, City University of New York, are proposing Project Volt Gas Volt (VGV) as a technology pathway for using renewable energy to “keep the lights on” on the broadest scale without disruption, together with a long-term financing proposal for the project. Although they are targeting an initial implementation France, they see it as broadly applicable.
Project VGV uses surplus electricity generated by renewable and nuclear sources to produce hydrogen via electrolysis. The hydrogen is combined with CO2 to produce methane, which is pumped into and stored in the existing natural gas grid and used like natural gas for use in power generation, transportation, or other thermal and industrial uses. The concept is the same embodied in Audi’s e-gas project (earlier post), to which the VGV proposal makes continued reference.
EPA proposes adding renewable diesel and naphtha from landfill biogas and butanol pathways to RFS
May 21, 2013
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a proposed rulemaking for modifications to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS2) program. The proposal also includes various changes to the E15 misfueling mitigation regulations (E15 MMR), ultra low sulfur diesel survey requirements as well as other technical amendments.
The proposed rules include various changes related to biogas, including changes related to the revised compressed natural gas (CNG)/liquefied natural gas (LNG) pathway and amendments to various associated registration, recordkeeping, and reporting provisions. It also adds new pathways for renewable diesel, renewable naphtha, and renewable electricity (used in electric vehicles) produced from landfill biogas.
New lithium polysulfide flow battery for large-scale energy storage
April 25, 2013
Researchers from the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University have designed a new lithium/polysulfide (Li/PS) semi-liquid (flow) battery for large-scale energy storage, with lithium polysulfide (Li2S8) in ether solvent as a catholyte and metallic lithium as an anode.
Unlike previous work on Li/S batteries with discharge products such as solid state Li2S2 and Li2S, the catholyte is designed to cycle only in the range between sulfur and Li2S4. Consequently, the team points out in a paper describing there work published in the RSC journal Energy & Environmental Science, all detrimental effects due to the formation and volume expansion of solid Li2S2/Li2S are avoided.
German researchers improve catalyst for steam reforming of methanol with salt coating; enabler for renewable energy storage systems
April 19, 2013
Researchers at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg (Germany) report in the journal Angewandte Chemie their development of an enhanced platinum catalyst for the steam reforming of methanol to release hydrogen.
A central problem of renewable energy technology lies in the great variation of energy generated (i.e., intermittency). One proposed solution is methanol-based hydrogen storage. In this scenario, excess renewable electricity can be used to electrolyze water to produce hydrogen. The hydrogen, in turn, is then reacted with carbon dioxide to make methanol and water, thus allowing it to be stored as a liquid. The hydrogen can be released from the methanol at a later time to power a fuel cell.
PNNL solar thermochemical reaction system can reduce fuel consumption in natural gas power plants by about 20%; future potential for transportation fuels
April 11, 2013
|PNNL’s thermochemical conversion device is installed in front of a concentrating solar power dish. Photo: PNNL. Click to enlarge.|
A new concentrating solar power system developed by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) can reduce the fuel consumption of a modified natural-gas combined-cycle (NGCC) power plant by about 20%. The system converts natural gas into syngas—with higher energy content than natural gas—using a thermochemical conversion device installed in front of a concentrating solar power dish. The power plant then combusts the more energy dense syngas to produce electricity.
PNNL’s system uses a mirrored parabolic dish to direct sunbeams to a central point, where the thermochemical device uses the solar heat to produce syngas form natural gas. About four feet long and two feet wide, the device contains a chemical reactor and several heat exchangers. Concentrated sunlight heats up the natural gas flowing through the reactor’s channels, which hold a catalyst that helps turn natural gas into syngas.
NSF to award up to $13M for fundamental work on sustainable production of electricity and transportation fuels
April 07, 2013
The US National Science Foundation (NSF) has issued a grants opportunity notice (PD-14-7644) for up to about $13 million in awards to fundamental research and education that will enable innovative processes for the sustainable production of electricity and transportation fuels. Processes for sustainable energy production must be environmentally benign, reduce greenhouse gas production, and utilize renewable resources.
The duration of unsolicited awards is typically three years. The average annual award size for the program is $100,000. Proposals requesting a substantially higher amount than this, without prior consultation with the Program Director, may be returned without review. Current interest areas in sustainable energy technologies are as follows:
Hansen paper emphasizes importance of retention and expansion of nuclear power for health and climate reasons
April 04, 2013
|Mean number of deaths prevented annually by nuclear power, 1971-2009. Credit: ACS, Hansen et al. Click to enlarge.|
A new study by James Hansen and Pushker Kharecha from the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University Earth Institute has found that global nuclear power has prevented an average of 1.84 million air pollution-related deaths and 64 gigatonnes of CO2-equivalent (GtCO2-eq) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that would have resulted from fossil fuel burning. The estimated human deaths caused by nuclear power from 1971 to 2009 were far lower than the avoided deaths: 4,900, or about 370 times lower than the result for avoided deaths.
Projecting ahead, on the basis of global projection data that takes into account the effects of the Fukushima accident, Hansen and Kharecha also calculated that nuclear power could additionally prevent an average of 420,000−7.04 million deaths and 80−240 GtCO2-eq emissions due to fossil fuels by mid-century, depending on which fuel it replaces. Large-scale expansion of unconstrained natural gas use would not mitigate the climate problem and would cause far more deaths than expansion of nuclear power, according to their analysis, which is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Israel begins natural gas production from deepwater Tamar field in Eastern Mediterranean
March 31, 2013
|Map showing the location of Tamar, as well as the larger Leviathan field which is entering development. Source: Noble Energy. Click to enlarge.|
On Saturday, Israel’s Ministry of Energy & Water Resources reported that commercial natural gas production had begun from the deepwater Tamar field (c. 5,500 ft, 1,676 m) in the Eastern Mediterranean, 90 km (56 miles) west of Haifa. (Earlier post.)
Representing a $3.25-billion gross investment, according to operator Noble Energy (36% working interest), Tamar is entering operation 2.5 years from the sanction of the project, and four years after the discovery of the field. It uses the world’s longest subsea tieback—a 16-inch (41-cm), 93-mile (150 km) pipeline. The Tamar production platform is about 290 meters (951 ft) high and weighs (along with its subsea legs) about 34,000 tons.
DOE to award up to $266M to small modular nuclear reactor project; targeting commercial operation around 2025
March 12, 2013
|DOE selected an SMR project with the B&W mPower reactor in 2012. The nuclear core and steam generators are integrated in a single vessel. Source: B&W. Click to enlarge.|
The US Department of Energy (DOE) issued a new funding opportunity announcement (DE-FOA-0000800) for up to $266 million to help US industry design and certify innovative small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs)—defined for this FOA as reactor units with nominal output of 300 megawatts electric (MWe) or less that are able to be factory fabricated and transported to the site for assembly of components and operation. With a 50% cost-share, total funding for the selected project will be around $462 million.
DOE will solicit proposals for cost-shared SMR projects that have the potential to be licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and achieve commercial operation around 2025, while offering innovative and effective solutions for enhanced safety, operations and performance. Selected projects will span a five-year period with at least 50% provided by private industry.
Stanford study quantifies energetic costs of grid-scale energy storage over time; current batteries the worst performers; the need to improve cycle life by 3-10x
March 10, 2013
|A plot of ESOI for 7 potential grid-scale energy storage technologies. Credit: Barnhart and Benson, 2013. Click to enlarge.|
A new study by Charles J. Barnhart and Sally M. Benson from Stanford University and Stanford’s Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP) has quantified the energetic costs of 7 different grid-scale energy storage technologies over time. Using a new metric—“Energy Stored on Invested, ESOI”—they concluded that batteries were the worst performers, while compressed air energy storage (CAES) performed the best, followed by pumped hydro storage (PHS). Their results are published in the RSC journal Energy & Environmental Science.
As the percentage of electricity supply from wind and solar increases, grid operators will need to employ strategies and technologies, including energy storage, to balance supply with demand given the intermittency of the renewable supply. The Stanford study considered a future US grid where up to 80% of the electricity comes from renewables.
NTNU study finds ships’ and spare parts’ contribution to offshore wind power lifecycle impacts has been underestimated
March 04, 2013
A new analysis by researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) suggests that, notwithstanding significant uncertainties, previous studies have underestimated the contributions from installation and use phases—e.g., “ships and spare parts”—to the total life cycle impacts of offshore wind power. Their analysis is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.
In the study, they developed and assessed life cycle inventories of a the proposed Havsul I offshore wind farm in Norway using a hybrid life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology. The study put special emphasis on aspects of installation, operation, and maintenance, as these stages have been given only cursory consideration in previous LCAs, they noted.
Audi to introduce natural gas A3 Sportback g-tron at year’s end; CO2-neutral e-gas
March 01, 2013
|Audi A3 Sportback g-tron. Click to enlarge.|
Audi will introduce the compact A3 Sportback g-tron—which can be powered by the CO2-neutral Audi e-gas, synthetic methane generated from eco-electricity in the Audi e-gas project (earlier post)—at the end of the year. The e-gas fuel will be produced in the power-to-gas plant in Werlte, Germany.
The five-door car consumes on average less than 3.5 kilograms per 100 km of compressed natural gas (CNG) or Audi e-gas. CO2 tailpipe emissions are less than 95 grams per km (153 g/mile) in gas mode. When the A3 Sportback g-tron is powered by Audi e-gas, no more CO2 is released than was chemically input in its production beforehand, creating a closed loop. When the energy required to build the e-gas facility and wind power generators is included in a comprehensive analysis, CO2 emissions under e-Gas operation are still less than 30 grams per km (48.28 g/mile).
DOE issues $13M funding opportunity for advanced coal gasification systems for power or fuels
February 17, 2013
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a funding opportunity announcement (DE-FOA-0000784) for up to $13 million to support the development of advanced coal gasification systems. DOE anticipates making 5 awards under the FOA.
There will be three (3) Areas of Interest (AOIs) under the FOA. The first two—Coal Feed Technologies - Low-rank Coal Feed or Coal-woody Biomass Feed Technologies; and Lower-cost Oxygen Production Systems—will look to further develop and expand on concepts already included in the Gasification Systems Program that will significantly reduce gasification’s capital and operating costs. The third AOI (High Hydrogen Syngas Production) will begin exploration (through systems analysis and small-scale R&D) of novel technologies to reduce the cost of creating chemical-grade hydrogen and/or high-hydrogen syngas.
Energy 2030 outlines steps to double US energy productivity by 2030; spend $166B a year to net savings of $327B
February 07, 2013
The Alliance Commission on National Energy Efficiency Policy released a set of recommendations—Energy 2030—designed to double US energy productivity by 2030. The Commission was created in 2012 to identify solutions for increasing US energy productivity and aid in jumpstarting the economy.
To achieve the Commission’s goal of doubling energy productivity by 2030 with currently available technology and design practices, households, businesses, and federal, state, and local governments will need to invest about an additional $166 billion a year (in real 2010 US dollars) in building improvements, energy efficient vehicles and industrial equipment, and energy saving transportation systems, according to the report. This investment would both reduce the amount of energy needed to run the American economy and the price of energy for US consumers, lowering overall energy costs by some $494 billion a year, according to the analysis.
Honda Transmission contracts with Juhl Wind for two utility-scale wind turbines at Ohio plant; up to 10% of electricity for operations
January 25, 2013
Honda Transmission Mfg. of America, Inc. announced an agreement with Juhl Wind, Inc. to develop, install, and operate two utility-scale wind turbines (each rated at about 2MW) to generate electricity for the plant’s operations.
The plant manufactures automatic transmissions, gears and four-wheel-drive systems, including the next-generation Earth Dreams transmission technology. The two wind turbines will supply up to approximately 10% of the plant’s electricity. Based on their location and actual wind speeds, combined output from the two wind turbines is estimated at 10,000-megawatt hours (MWh) per year.
Volkswagen inaugurates 9.5 MW solar park at Chattanooga plant in US; key element of VW Group’s strategic sustainability targets
January 24, 2013
|The 9.5 MW solar park at Chattanooga is owned and operated by Silicon Ranch; VW has signed a 20-year power purchase agreement. Click to enlarge.|
Volkswagen inaugurated its largest solar facility in the world—also the largest solar facility operated by an automaker in the US—at its plant in Chattanooga, TN, which produces the Passat model for North America. The Volkswagen Chattanooga Solar Park has a peak output of 9.5 MW. The power will be used directly in production; solar power will provide up to 12.5% of the electric power required in full-capacity operation and 100% of demand when the plant is not in production.
The new solar park is an integral part of Volkswagen’s worldwide sustainability strategy, which includes generating more power within the Group from renewable energy sources, said Volkswagen Group Officer for the Environment, Energy and New Business Areas, Wolfram Thomas.
California Energy Commission awards more than $1.8M additional funding to further UCSD microgrid project; energy storage, EV charging and V2G services are components
January 10, 2013
The California Energy Commission (CEC) approved funding to advance further the development of its pioneering 42 MWpeak microgrid and expand electric vehicle charging at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).
The Commission approved a $1.6-million award to increase its previously awarded funding of $1,394,298 for the university’s microgrid. The Commission also approved funding of $220,554 to expand the campus’ burgeoning charging network for plug-in electric vehicles, through the Commission’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program, created by Assembly Bill 118.
Topping-out ceremony for the Audi e-gas plant; synthetic methane production to begin in early 2013
December 13, 2012
|Components of the e-gas plant. Click to enlarge.|
Audi is celebrating progress on its e-gas plant under construction in Werlte, Germany with a topping-out ceremony. End products from the plant will be hydrogen and synthetic methane (Audi e-gas), to be used as fuel for vehicles such as the new Audi A3 Sportback TCNG. (Earlier post.)
The Audi e-gas plant, which can convert six megawatts of input power, will utilize renewable electricity for electrolysis, producing oxygen and hydrogen, the latter which could one day power fuel-cell vehicles. Because there is not yet a widespread hydrogen infrastructure, however, the hydrogen is reacted with CO2 in a methanation unit to generate renewable synthetic methane, or Audi e-gas. Chemically speaking, this e-gas is nearly identical to fossil-based natural gas. As such, it can be distributed to CNG stations via the natural gas network and will power vehicles starting in 2013.
US/China research team proposes “solar energy funnel” to harness photons for electricity; using elastic strain to capture a wider spectrum
November 26, 2012
|A visualization of the broad-spectrum solar energy funnel. Image: Yan Liang. Click to enlarge.|
Researchers from Peking University in China and MIT are proposing using elastic strain as a viable agent to create an optoelectronic material with a spatially varying bandgap that is tunable for use in photovoltaics, photocatalysis and photodetection. In a paper published in Nature Photonics, they propose that a photovoltaic device made from a strain-engineered MoS2 monolayer will capture a broad range of the solar spectrum and concentrate excitons or charge carriers.
The “funnel” is a metaphor: electrons and their counterparts, holes—which are split off from atoms by the energy of photons—are driven to the center of the structure by electronic forces. However, the material actually does assume the shape of a funnel—a stretched sheet of thin material, nano-indented at its center by a microscopic needle that produces a curved, funnel-like shape.