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[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.]

Seven-Eleven Japan and Toyota introducing fuel cell trucks and fuel cell power generators for studies on CO2 reduction

August 09, 2017

Seven-Eleven Japan Co., Ltd. and Toyota Motor Corporation have concluded a basic agreement for studies on energy conservation and CO2 emissions reduction in convenience store distribution and operation. The two companies aim to contribute to the realization of a low-carbon and hydrogen-based society in the future, by way of introducing vehicles and power generators to be newly developed by Toyota that use hydrogen.

Fuel cell trucks, in which the refrigeration/freezer unit, and the truck itself, are powered by fuel cells, will be introduced as refrigerator/freezer trucks for stores with the goal of reducing CO2 emissions.

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Siemens and AES to form global energy storage technology joint venture: Fluence

July 11, 2017

Siemens AG and The AES Corporation are forming a new global energy storage technology and services company under the name Fluence. The joint venture will bring together AES’ experience deploying energy storage in seven countries with Siemens’ energy technology leadership and its global sales presence in more than 160 countries.

Fluence will operate independently of its parent companies, combining the capabilities and expertise from Siemens’ battery-based energy storage solutions group under the Energy Management division with AES’ subsidiary, AES Energy Storage. AES and Siemens are currently ranked among the leading energy storage integrators worldwide by Navigant Research. Together, the two companies have deployed or have been awarded 48 projects totaling 463 MW of battery-based energy storage across 13 countries, including the world’s largest lithium-ion battery-based energy storage project near San Diego, California.

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Study finds anthropogenic PM and dust undercutting global solar energy production

June 27, 2017

According to a new study led by a team at Duke University, airborne particulate matter and dust are cutting solar photovoltaic energy output by more than 25% in certain parts of the world, with roughly equal contributions from ambient PM and PM deposited on photovoltaic surfaces. The regions hardest hit are also those investing the most in solar energy installations: China, India and the Arabian Peninsula. An open-access paper on the study appears in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

With colleagues at the Indian Institute of Technology-Gandhinagar (IITGN) and the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Michael Bergin, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Duke University and lead author of the study, measured the decrease in solar energy gathered by the IITGN’s solar panels as they became dirtier over time. The data showed a 50% jump in efficiency each time the panels were cleaned after being left alone for several weeks.

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CSIRO team working to commercialize membrane separating H2 from NH3; opening up an export market for Australia renewable H2

May 17, 2017

Researchers at Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have years of experience researching the best ways to separate pure hydrogen from mixed gas streams. Now, the researchers have developed a thin metal membrane that can separate high-purity hydrogen from ammonia used as a hydrogen carrier. Ammonia (NH3) has a number of favorable attributes for such an application, the primary one being its high capacity for hydrogen storage—17.6 wt.%, based on its molecular structure.

CSIRO’s vision is to use the membrane technology to open up a new world market for renewable hydrogen produced via electrolysis in Australia. The renewable hydrogen would first be converted to ammonia (in combination with nitrogen produced in a renewables-driven air separation unit), then be exported piggybacking on the existing transport infrastructure for ammonia, and finally be extracted from the ammonia using the membrane system for use in vehicles and other applications.

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GE and SCE unveil first battery-gas turbine hybrid system

April 18, 2017

GE and Southern California Edison (SCE) unveiled the first battery-gas turbine hybrid system in Norwalk, California: the LM6000 Hybrid Electric Gas Turbine (Hybrid EGT). The hybrid system, the first of two to be deployed at SCE sites, was developed in response to changing regulations and grid requirements in the wake of the devastating gas leak from California’s Aliso Canyon storage facility and will ultimately support increasing renewable energy capacity on the California grid.

This hybrid system supports SCE’s increasing renewable energy capacity by providing quick start, fast ramping capabilities when they are needed. The unit integrates a 10 MW, 4.3 MWh Li-ion battery energy storage system, capable of immediately providing power with GE’s proven 50MW LM6000 aeroderivative gas turbine, which offers 56% combined cycle efficiency.

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SoCalGas & UC Irvine show power-to-gas technology able to boost use of intermittent renewable energy significantly

March 31, 2017

Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) announced that new research on power-to-gas technology shows the technique holds the ability to significantly increase the use of intermittent renewable energy. The finding came out of ongoing research conducted at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) and funded by SoCalGas.

Preliminary research findings, announced this week at UCI’s International Colloquium on Environmentally Preferred Advanced Generation (ICEPAG), demonstrated that the campus microgrid could increase the portion of renewable energy it uses from 3.5% to 35% by implementing a power-to-gas strategy.

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IRENA, IEA study concludes meeting 2˚C scenario possible with net positive economics

March 20, 2017

Global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced by 70% by 2050 and completely phased-out by 2060 with a net positive economic outlook, according to new findings released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Perspectives for the Energy Transition: Investment Needs for a Low-Carbon Energy Transition—a joint study by IRENA and the IEA—launched on the occasion of the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue, presents the case that increased deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency in G20 countries and globally can achieve the emissions reductions needed to keep global temperature rise to no more than two-degrees Celsius, avoiding the most severe impacts of climate change.

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Scientists suggest quantum control of atoms may make fusion energy production more efficient

March 03, 2017

Scientists at Rice University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Chile are proposing that quantum-controlled motion of nuclei, starting from the nanometer-size ground state of a molecule, can potentially overcome some of the difficulties of thermonuclear fusion by compression of a fuel pellet or in a bulk plasma.

Their report on quantum-controlled fusion suggests that rather than heating atoms to temperatures found inside the sun or smashing them in a collider, it might be possible to nudge them close enough to fuse by using shaped laser pulses: ultrashort, tuned bursts of coherent light.

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voestalpine, Siemens & VERBUND building one of the world’s largest electrolysis plants for H2 production; EU-funded H2FUTURE

February 08, 2017

The European Commission has awarded the H2FUTURE project consortium—comprising voestalpine, Siemens, VERBUND and Austrian Power Grid (APG) as well as the research-partners K1-MET and ECN—the contract for the construction of one of the world’s largest PEM electrolysis plants for producing green hydrogen.

The project partners will work and research cooperatively on implementing an innovative hydrogen demonstration plant at the voestalpine site in Linz. The green hydrogen generated there will be fed directly into the internal gas network, allowing the testing of the use of hydrogen in various process stages of steel production.

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Siemens reports successful full load tests of additively manufactured CM247 gas turbine blades

February 07, 2017

Siemens has achieved a breakthrough by finishing its first full load engine tests for gas turbine blades completely produced using Additive Manufacturing (AM) technology. The company successfully validated multiple AM printed turbine blades with a conventional blade design at full engine conditions—the components were tested at 13,000 revolutions per minute and temperatures beyond 1,250 degrees Celsius.

Furthermore, Siemens tested a new blade design with a completely revised and improved internal cooling geometry manufactured using the AM technology. The project team used blades manufactured at its 3D printing facility at Materials Solutions, in Worcester, UK. Siemens acquired a majority stake (85%) in Materials Solutions in August 2016. (The remaining 15% is held by the founder, Carl Brancher.)

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BP Energy Outlook: 30% growth in global demand to 2035; fuel demand continues to rise, even with EVs & fuel efficiency

January 25, 2017

The 2017 edition of the BP Energy Outlook, published today, forecasts that global demand for energy will increase by around 30% between 2015 and 2035, an average growth of 1.3% per year. However, this growth in energy demand is significantly lower than the 3.4% per year rise expected in global GDP, reflecting improved energy efficiency driven by technology improvements and environmental concerns. The Outlook looks at long-term energy trends and develops projections for world energy markets over the next two decades.

While non-fossil fuels are expected to account for half of the growth in energy supplies over the next 20 years, the Outlook projects that oil and gas, together with coal, will remain the main source of energy powering the world economy, accounting for more than 75% of total energy supply in 2035, compared with 86% in 2015.

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TU Bergakademie Freiberg launches OTTO-R project with VW Group, Shell, OMV as partners; P2X for green gasoline

January 24, 2017

Researchers at the Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg, with partners from the automotive industry (Audi, VW) and the petroleum industry (Shell, OMV) have launched the €1.46-million OTTO-R project for the production of gasoline from “green” methanol produced from CO2, water and renewable electricity.

The new OTTO-R synthesis process is based on the Syngas-To-Fuel-Process (STF) developed by Chemieanlagenbau Chemnitz GmbH (CAC) at the Institute for Energy Process Engineering and Chemical Engineering (IEC). STF first converts natural gas-based synthesis gas to methanol in an isothermal reactor; the methanol is then transformed into high-octane gasoline via the intermediate methanol. Residual methanol and light hydrocarbons are separated downstream and recycled into the process.

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13 global companies launch Hydrogen Council in Davos; promoting hydrogen to help meet climate goals

January 17, 2017

Thirteen leading energy, transport and industry companies have launched a global initiative in Davos to voice a united vision and long-term ambition for hydrogen to foster the energy transition.

Meeting in Davos for the first time on Tuesday, the Hydrogen Council currently comprises 13 CEOs and Chairpersons from various industries and energy companies committed to help achieve the ambitious goal of reaching the 2 ˚C target as agreed in the 2015 Paris Agreement. The international companies currently involved are: Air Liquide, Alstom, Anglo American, BMW GROUP, Daimler, ENGIE, Honda, Hyundai, Kawasaki, Royal Dutch Shell, The Linde Group, Total and Toyota. The Council is led by two Co-Chairs from different geographies and sectors, currently represented by Air Liquide and Toyota. The members of the Hydrogen Council collectively represent total revenues of €1.07 trillion and 1.72 million employees around the world.

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NuScale Power submits industry-first certification application for small modular reactor to NRC

January 13, 2017

NuScale Power formally announced the submittal of a Design Certification Application (DCA) for their innovative small modular reactor (SMR) design (earlier post) to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for their review and approval. This is the first SMR DCA to be submitted to the NRC and marks a significant milestone for NuScale and the power generation industry.

NuScale’s application consisted of nearly 12,000 pages of technical information. The NRC is expected to take the next two months to determine if any additional information is required prior to commencing their review. Thereafter, the NRC has targeted completing the certification process within 40 months.

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ARPA-E awards $35M to 16 REFUEL projects for energy-dense carbon-neutral liquid fuels; leveraging ammonia

December 17, 2016

The Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has selected 16 projects for a combined $35 million in funding under the new program “Renewable Energy to Fuels Through Utilization of Energy-Dense Liquids (REFUEL)”. (Earlier post.) The 16 REFUEL projects seek to develop scalable technologies for converting water and molecules from the air into energy-dense, carbon-neutral liquid fuels (CNLFs) using electrical energy from renewable sources. REFUEL projects will convert low-cost renewable energy into a transportable chemical fuel and use these fuels for transportation applications, while reducing production costs and environmental impact.

Most of the selected REFUEL projects target the production of ammonia or its conversion to hydrogen or electricity, due ammonia’s attractiveness as a hydrogen and energy carrier. State-of-the-art industrial ammonia production using the Haber-Bosch process requires a hydrogen source (usually natural gas), remains highly capital and energy intensive, and is only economical at a large scale. Many projects seek to overcome these limitations to enable economically competitive, distributed production of this prototypical CNLF.

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JISEA: nuclear-renewable hybrid energy systems can reduce GHG from industry, produce fuels and support the power system

December 09, 2016

Nuclear-renewable hybrid energy systems (N-R HESs) can enable low-carbon, on-demand electricity while providing reduced-emission thermal energy for industrial processes. N-R HES systems are managed by a single entity that link a nuclear reactor that generates heat, a thermal power cycle for heat-to-electricity conversion, at least one renewable energy source, and an industrial process that uses thermal and/or electrical energy.

However, the economic feasibility of these systems may depend on future natural gas prices, electricity market structures, and clean energy incentives. A series of new reports from the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis (JISEA) and Idaho National Laboratory (INL) examines various hybrid system configurations to provide a basis to identify opportunities for clean energy use and examine the most economically viable configurations.

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Harvard study finds human health risks from Canadian hydroelectric projects

November 10, 2016

In a new study, Harvard University researchers found more than 90% of potential new Canadian hydroelectric projects are likely to increase concentrations of the neurotoxin methylmercury (MeHg) in food webs near indigenous communities. The research is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The research forecasts potential human health impacts of hydroelectric projects and identifies areas where mitigation efforts, such as removing the top layer of soil before flooding, would be most helpful. The works uses factors such as soil carbon and reservoir design to forecast methylmercury increases for 22 hydroelectric reservoirs under consideration or construction in Canada.

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UC Irvine study concludes intelligent PEV charging can minimize scale of stationary energy storage needed to meet renewable targets

October 24, 2016

A new study by a team at the University of California Irvine highlights the importance of intelligent plug-in vehicle (PEV) charging for minimizing the scale of infrastructure required to meet renewable utilization targets.

In the study, published in the Journal of Power Sources, the UC Irvine team examined how the intelligence of plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) integration impacted the required capacity of energy storage systems to meet renewable utilization targets for a large-scale energy system, using California as an example for meeting a 50% and 80% renewable portfolio standard (RPS) in 2030 and 2050.

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DOE awarding $3.0M cost-share contract to FuelCell Energy for solid oxide electrolyzer; converting excess electricity to H2

October 23, 2016

FuelCell Energy, Inc. is developing a solid oxide electrolysis cell (SOEC) system to convert excess electricity during periods of low power demand into hydrogen efficiently. The US Department of Energy (DOE) is supporting this development with a $3.0 million cost-share contract to advance SOEC system design that will be added to the Advanced Technology backlog for the fourth quarter of 2016.

The market for energy storage is significant for high efficiency and flexible long duration storage that is affordable for rate payers. The energy storage market is expanding as utilities adjust to manage increased levels of intermittent renewable power generation supplying the electric grid. Annual global energy storage deployments are projected to increase to approximately 7 to 9 gigawatts by 2020 with continued increases thereafter. The SOEC solution being supported with this DOE funding meets these needs for both utility-scale applications as well as on-site opportunities.

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DOE awarding up to $80M for supercritical CO2 pilot plant

October 18, 2016

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is awarding up to $80 million for a six-year project to design, build, and operate a 10-MWe (megawatts electrical) supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) pilot plant test facility in San Antonio, TX. The project will be managed by a team led by the Gas Technology Institute (GTI), Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), and General Electric Global Research (GE-GR).

The new facility will support the future commercialization of sCO2 Brayton cycle energy conversion systems by testing and demonstrating the potential energy efficiency and cost benefits of this technology. Today the average efficiency of the US fleet of steam Rankine cycle power plants is in the lower 30% range. This new facility has the potential to demonstrate greater than 50% cycle efficiency. If successfully developed, the supercritical CO2 power cycles could provide significant efficiency gains in geothermal, coal, nuclear, and solar thermal power production.

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EEA: large-scale roll-out of EVs will help EU shift to green transport, but may challenge power grid

September 27, 2016

A large scale roll-out of electric cars on European roads would result in significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions and lower levels of certain air pollutants, according to a new European Environment Agency (EEA) assessment. However, widespread use of such vehicles would pose challenges for Europe’s power grid in meeting increased electricity demand.

The EEA briefing Electric vehicles and the energy sector — impacts on Europe’s future emissions looks at the impact of different scenarios that take into account the increased use of electric cars and their effect on the European Union’s (EU) energy system, and on emissions of greenhouse gases and selected air pollutants.

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Technical brief: transportation overtaking electricity generation as the largest source of US CO2 emissions

September 19, 2016

A technical brief by Dr. John DeCicco at the University of Michigan Energy Institute shows that transportation is overtaking electricity generation as the largest source of US CO2.

The average rate at which CO2 is emitted from vehicle tailpipes and other mobile sources has exceeded the rate of CO2 emissions from electric power plants over seven of the past eight months. Although efficiency gains are limiting transportation emissions growth, the gains are not enough to reduce the sector’s CO2 emissions in the face of increased travel and shipping, DeCicco writes. CO2 emissions from the transportation sector increased at an average rate of 1.8% per year over the past four years.

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Lux: Total is leading example of oil supermajor expanding into solar plus storage and distributed generation

August 09, 2016

France-based Total is the first oil supermajor aggressively to enter new areas of business including solar plus storage and distributed generation, notes Lux Research in a new report: “Superpower Darwinism: What Big Oil Can and Cannot Do About Total’s Billion-Dollar Battery Move.”

Even though viable battery companies have become harder and more expensive to buy since Total’s $1-billion acquisition of Saft (earlier post), the oil supermajors—BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell and Total—have cash piles ranging from $5 billion to $30 billion each, despite shrinking profits since 2012 and uncertainty about timing of the eventual recovery of oil prices.

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