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Johnson Controls Expands Into Solar, Geothermal, Wind, Biomass and Other Renewables

Johnson Controls, Inc. is expanding its business into designing, installing and servicing geothermal, solar, biomass, wind and other renewable sources as energy supply options for customers.

Johnson Controls is a global leader in interior experience, building efficiency and power solutions. Johnson Controls provides batteries for automobiles and hybrid electric vehicles, along with systems engineering and service expertise. GM selected the Johnson Controls-Saft (JCS) joint venture as one supplier for li-ion battery packs for its work on the Saturn VUE Green Line plug-in hybrid (earlier post), and USABC awarded JCS a 24-month contract to develop advanced lithium-ion batteries for hybrid-electric vehicles (earlier post).

We expect demand from businesses and organizations for onsite renewable energy to escalate as fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas increase in price and concern grows about their economic and environmental impact. The real opportunity for customers involves combining renewable technologies with innovative energy efficiency strategies.

—Bruno Biasiotta, vice president, solutions, Johnson Controls

Don Albinger, a 25-year Johnson Controls veteran, has been named vice president of renewable energy solutions. Albinger will lead a team dedicated to the development of Johnson Controls renewable offerings to state, local and federal government agencies, school districts, hospitals, and private industry.

Johnson Controls already has implemented several renewable energy projects for its customers. Examples include:

  • Geothermal: Utah Department of Corrections. This heating plant project includes an onsite geothermal well that provides building heat for prison cell blocks, a furniture manufacturing shop, and a dormitory. It also heats water for use in showers and the kitchen and laundry systems. The waste water is piped to a neighboring tropical fish farm and a nearby wetland.

  • Wind Turbines: Erie Community Unit School District. Johnson Controls is using wind energy generation to decrease the school district’s purchased electrical energy consumption by 87%, representing approximately $5.5 million in total energy savings over 30 years. A 1.2 MW wind turbine and tubular wind tower, along with an electrical distribution system, will provide energy to the elementary, middle and high schools.

  • Solar: Denver Federal Center. Johnson Controls partnered with the US General Services Administration and incorporated innovative strategies such as updating an existing solar domestic water heating system and improving an irrigation control system.

  • Biomass Boilers: Indiana Department of Corrections. Johnson Controls is installing four industrial-grade biomass boilers and fuel delivery systems, which will use an estimated 1.3 million bushels of Indiana corn per year. The improvements are forecasted to save about 6.8 million kilowatt hours of electricity each year—the environmental equivalent of more than 2,800 passenger cars not being driven for one year.

  • Digester Gas Cogeneration Plant: Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant. Johnson Controls is working on a 3 MW combined heat and power plant that will generate more than 2.4 megawatts of electricity per year, generate steam to offset process heating requirements making more gas available for use in the plant, and produce hot water for use in the boiler.


Cheryl Ho

DME is an LPG-like synthetic fuel can be produced through gasification of Biomass. The synthetic gas is then catalyzed to produce DME. A gas under normal pressure and temperature, DME can be compressed into a liquid and used as an alternative to diesel. Its low emissions make it relatively environmentally friendly. In fact, Shandong University completed Pilot plant in Jinan and will be sharing their experience at upcoming North Asia DME / Methanol conference in Beijing, 27-28 June 2007, St Regis Hotel. The conference covers key areas which include:

DME productivity can be much higher especially if
country energy policies makes an effort comparable to
that invested in increasing supply.
National Development Reform Commission NDRC
Ministry of Energy for Mongolia

Production of DME/ Methanol through biomass
gasification could potentially be commercialized
Shandong University completed Pilot plant in Jinan and
will be sharing their experience.

Advances in conversion technologies are readily
available and offer exciting potential of DME as a
chemical feedstock
By: Kogas, Lurgi and Haldor Topsoe

Available project finance supports the investments
that DME/ Methanol can play a large energy supply role
By: International Finance Corporation

For more information:

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