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Sunday, 31 October 2010

What's More Important than $400M?

Mini Power stations in your back garden

Bloom  Clean Energy Power Box

The company says its "power plant-in-a-box" is a breakthrough in fuel cell-driven clean energy, but some question whether the price is too high. 

The company unveiled the Bloom Energy Server, dubbed the "Bloom Box," at eBay's San Jose, Calif., headquarters. Attendees at the highly orchestrated media event included California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
"For years, there have been promises of new energy solutions that are clean, distributed, affordable, and reliable; today we learn that Bloom, formerly in stealth, has actually delivered," venture capitalist John Doerr, a partner at Kleiner Perkins, said in a statement. "Americans want clean, affordable, energy, 24x7 -- and all the jobs that go with it. Bloom's boxes are a breakthrough, serving energy, serving demanding customers, and serving our country."
Patriotism aside, Bloom Energy's power boxes are not cheap. The Bloom Energy Server, which has a footprint that's roughly the size of an average parking space, costs $700,000 to $800,000 and provides 100 kilowatts of power, enough to power a small office building.
By industry standards, that ratio of power to dollars is much too high. According to the Solid State Energy Alliance, coordinated by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the technical goal is to develop mass producible, modular solid oxide fuel cell units that produce electricity at $400 per kilowatt.
Bloom Energy, headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif., claims the price of its boxes will eventually come down. K.R. Sridhar, which co-founded the company in 2001 and is chief executive, told CBS news program 60 Minutes that he believes a box capable of powering the average U.S. home could eventually cost less than $3,000.
Solid oxide fuel cells are not new. The technology has been around for more than 40 years and is under development by such leading companies as Siemens AG and Westinghouse. Bloom Energy, however, believes its technology is a major advancement.
Like other fuel-cell technology, the Bloom box produces electricity through an electrochemical process that uses hydrogen, natural gas, methane, or other fuel. Power is produced at a fraction of the emissions of a typical power plant and the fuel-to-electricity efficiency is much higher, from 50% to 70%. In applications designed to capture and use the system's waste heat, which is as high as 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, the overall fuel use efficiencies could top 80% to 85%.
Bloom Energy's secret technology stems from Sridhar's work years ago at NASA. The secret sauce in the technology is a proprietary green ink painted on one side of the cell that acts as the anode and a proprietary black ink on the other side that acts as the cathode. The cells are stacked in building a box. The company says a stack of 64 cells, for example, can generate enough electricity to power a Starbucks.
Besides lowering the price, Bloom Energy will have to prove its technology is reliable to be successful. Solid-oxide fuel cells need to operate for years with nearly 100% reliability, ideally for 10 years, experts say.

World Bank hires new green-energy lending cz

By Darren Goode 09/09/10 03:51 PM ET
The World Bank has hired a Nobel Prize-winning professor from California as the first head of its new alternative-energy lending program. 
The bank on Thursday announced the appointment of Daniel Kammen as chief technical specialist for renewable energy and energy efficiency. In that role, he will lead the bank’s efforts to develop a strategy for lending funds to developing nations.
The new position underscores growing demand by countries receiving World Bank funding for help developing renewable-energy and energy-efficiency programs.
That includes everything from small, localized renewable-energy programs in Africa to major smart-grid initiatives in countries like India and China. 
While the World Bank currently employs technical experts at the project level, “this is a guy who is going to be sitting down with energy ministers, senior officials in these countries,” World Bank spokesman Roger Morier said. 
The core investment by the World Bank for energy initiatives is more than $5 billion, and renewable energy and energy efficiency “have been the fastest growing piece of that,” Kammen said in a telephone interview Thursday. That piece currently constitutes more than a third of World Bank energy lending and is expected to grow further, he said. 
His role, he said, is “really designed to try to bring some structure and coherence to the overall lending effort in that area and to be the point person in the larger effort in the bank to bring sustainability to the energy sector.” That will begin with developing a sustainable energy strategy for the bank by early next year, he said.
Kammen was an academic volunteer for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, making speeches in Western states advocating the then-senator’s positions on climate change and energy. He was not an official adviser who developed policy for Obama, nor was he a member of Obama’s transition team. 
He is a lead author for an upcoming special renewable-energy report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and also was a lead author on a 2000 IPCC special report on technology transfer.
The IPCC — Kammen included — shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore.
He is currently a professor of energy at the University of California, Berkeley. Since April, he has worked with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as an energy and climate fellow for the western hemisphere. In that role, he has been a liaison for developing opportunities among U.S. and international governments, companies, universities and others. 
Kammen will begin his new job Oct. 4. 

Friday, 29 October 2010

Pakistan Oilfields’ Net Profit Rises on Higher Fuel Prices

October 29, 2010, 12:33 AM EDT
By Farhan Sharif
Oct. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Pakistan Oilfields Ltd., the third biggest fuels explorer, said first quarter profit rose 57 percent because of higher crude prices.
Net income rose to 2.23 billion rupees ($26 million) or 9.44 rupees a share in the three months ended Sept. 30, from 1.43 billion rupees, or 6.03 rupees, a year earlier, the Rawalpindi-based company said in a filing to the stock exchange today. Revenue rose to 5.89 billion rupees from 3.4 billion rupees.

Greener carbon capture comes closer

Last Updated: Thursday, October 28, 2010 | 3:50 PM ET Comments26Recommend19

University of Calgary researchers, from left to right, George Shimizu, Simon Iremonger and Ramanathan Vaidhyanathan were part of a team that observed exactly how CO2 was trapped in the solid material shown behind them. University of Calgary researchers, from left to right, George Shimizu, Simon Iremonger and Ramanathan Vaidhyanathan were part of a team that observed exactly how CO2 was trapped in the solid material shown behind them. (University of Calgary)New Canadian research may help scientists design a system that captures carbon without guzzling water and energy like current methods do.
Capturing carbon dioxide before it reaches the atmosphere and storing it underground is one way governments are hoping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which have been linked to global warming.
To capture carbon before it escapes from the smokestacks of factories or power plants, the emissions are bubbled through water that contains dissolved chemicals called amines. The amines grab onto the carbon dioxide, and later heat is used to recover the trapped carbon for storage. A huge amount of energy is consumed in heating the water during that process.
By 2030, this kind of carbon capture technology could boost water consumption in the U.S. electricity sector by 80 per cent or 7.5 billion litres per day, the U.S. Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory reports.
Current carbon capture technology could boost water consumption in the U.S. electricity sector by 80 per cent or 7.5 billion litres per day, the U.S. Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory reports.Current carbon capture technology could boost water consumption in the U.S. electricity sector by 80 per cent or 7.5 billion litres per day, the U.S. Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory reports. (Charlie Riedel/Associated Press)In addition, a typical coal-fired power plant would have to boost its output by more than 20 per cent to cover the extra energy used to capture the carbon.
But findings published Thursday in Science by a team of chemists from the University of Calgary and the University of Ottawa could help engineers design materials that suck up large amounts of carbon — "without generating a lot of CO2 in capturing the carbon," said George Shimizu, one of the article's six co-authors.
He and his colleagues used a technique called X-ray crystallography to watch how carbon dioxide molecules get captured by a porous, solid carbon "trap." A solid material saves energy because no water has to be heated to recover the trapped carbon.
Shimizu likened the trap to a baseball mitt grabbing a carbon dioxide "baseball."
"Obviously, different mitts are going to be better for different sized balls," said Shimizu.
The results showed exactly how the "mitt" and "glove" are shaped, sized and positioned relative to each other.
Meanwhile, collaborators led by Tom Woo at the University of Ottawa created a computer model that calculated how tightly the carbon dioxide was trapped and how easily it could be released again for storage.
"Professor Woo's modelling basically was able to tell us every little finger that was holding the CO2 — how strongly it was contributing," Shimizu said.
The material doesn't grab onto carbon dioxide as tightly as the watery solutions used now, so less energy is needed to release it.
The researchers found that carbon dioxide molecules were sucked into the pores as T-shaped pairs. That means it should be possible to design pores specifically shaped to trap larger clumps of carbon, leading to a high capacity, Shimizu said.
Now that researchers have precisely measured and studied this particular carbon trap, and have a computer model that appears accurate, they should be able to use the computer model to design better carbon-trapping materials.
"It would save us a lot of time in the lab," Shimizu said.

Read more:

Qatar growth to hit 18.5% on LNG boom: Central bank

Solar could supply 10% of U.S. energy needs by 2025

Today, solar energy accounts for less than one half of a percent of the energy supply in the U.S. But environmental group Green America believes that number could jump to 10 percent by 2025—and Bloomberg New Energy Finance echoes that sentiment, projecting solar power to supply 4.3 percent of the U.S. energy needs by 2020, with 2.4 percent of households powered by solar.
A press release from Green America Climate Action states, “Our research indicates that the solar contribution could be quite considerable, realistically reaching 10 percent of total U.S. electricity generation by 2025 by deploying a combination of solar photovoltaics (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP).”
On a global scale, the use of solar power has increased 40 percent over the past 10 years. In grid-constrained areas and in places not serviced by traditional energy grids, solar power is extremely competitive. In areas with incentives and high electricity rates, solar power is becoming more and more comparable to traditional utility costs.
As the price of solar power comes ever closer to cost parity, the cost of traditional energy sources such as coal, natural gas, and nuclear is on the rise. Green America projects the cost of solar power will equal the cost of retail electrical pricing in the U.S. by 2015. According to a recent article, Bloomberg agrees the explosion of solar energy is imminent, citing the fact that the costs of solar are going down just as government policies such as tax incentives, grants, and renewable energy credits are coming into play.
While renewable energy relies largely on subsidies in the present economy, current cost reductions and policy matters are paving the way for the future growth and stability of an unsubsidized solar industry.
“There is a very positive growth story for solar in the U.S.,” Michael Liebreich, CEO of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said in a statement. “A few more years of support, and then the engine of unsubsidized competitiveness will take over.”

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Setting up power plants close to coalmines

Setting up power plants close to coalmines
Mustafizur Rahman

UNDER Ottawa's proposal, power companies would have to close their coal-fired facilities as they reach the end of their commercial life, largely over the next 10 to 15 years. The companies would not be allowed to refurbish the plants to extend their usefulness or replace them with new coal units, unless they includetechnology to capture the carbon dioxide and sequester it underground. Two-thirds of the country's 51 current coal units should be retired by 2025. Germany has stopped a total of nine projects in the past year (2009)

Since 2001 there were more than 150 proposed coal plants announced in the USA, but 111 new coal plant proposals have been defeated or abandoned, keeping over 450 million tons of carbon dioxide out of the air each year. 

In April 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is both authorized and obligated to regulate CO2 emissions under the Clean Air Act. The Environmental Appeals Board of the EPA in November 2008 concluded that CO2 emissions must be addressed before issuing air pollution permits for a new coal-fired power plant. This set a precedent, stalling permits for all other proposed US coal plants. 

The bottom line is that the United States now has, in effect, a de facto moratorium on the building of new coal-fired power plants. and this sends a message to the world. 

Obama administration is considering new regulations for the safe disposal of coal ash, and limiting emissions of mercury, soot, smog and global warming pollution from coal plants. To further strengthen the regulations, the USA is also asking multilateral development banks like the World Bank to stop financing coal-fired power plants and advises them that they have the responsibility of building a financing framework that ensures mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and strengthens the developing countries' economies against climate change. Twenty-six coal-fired power plants were defeated or abandoned. Several companies also announced plans to start transitioning away from existing coal plants. 

Denmark and New Zealand have already banned new coal-fired power plants. Other countries are likely to join this effort to cut carbon emissions. Even China, which was building one new coal plant a week, is surging ahead with renewable energy development and will soon overtake the United States in wind electric generation.. 

Opposition is building up in India against coal-fired power plants. The government has taken up a modernization and rehabilitation project which will rehabilitate and modernize around 200-220 MW of capacity at each of the three coal-fired power plants in West Bengal, Maharashtra, and Haryana. It has been designated the first phase of India's National Renovation and Modernization Programme. It aims to rehabilitate old and inefficient power plants with a cumulative capacity of 27,000 MW, or almost one-fifth of India's installed power capacity of 145,000 MW. Private electricity companies are also switching over to gas for new plants.

It is now evident that deeper and wider research-based knowledge on the adverse effect of coal-fired power plants is prompting the world to transition away from coal-fired electricity generation. It should not be difficult for Bangladesh to understand what should be her position as to coal-fired plants, particularly those based on imported coal.

Bangladesh is being hoodwinked and allured into joint ventures with India for two imported-coal based power plants of about 1320 MW each to be set up in Chittagong and Khulna. Pretty big area is needed for storage of coal and coal ash,waste. Bangladesh is reportedly, silently moving to acquire 1,200 acres of land in coastal area of Chittagong and 1,800 acres in Khulna for the so-called venture. 

Since Bangladesh is the world' most thickly populated country, the intrinsic value of our land is three to five times more than that of India. We must not destroy our two sea ports with dirty cargo of rather low value, like coal. The deep sea port, if ever built, must not also be considered for handling coal. A 1320 MW plant need about 4.0 million tons of coal a year, depending on thermal value of coal involved. Chittagong port's annual bulk cargo handling capacity is said to be 30.5 million tons, which may be insufficient soon if we launch real industrialization. 

Coastal area is our valuable resource. We have also other valuable infrastructures such as LNG receiving terminals, shipyard, steel mills, fish harbor, naval facilities, etc., to come forth in or around our limited coastal area with draft over 15m or so. We must protect and preserve our coastal areas for optimal use for right purposes, and not for highly polluting imported coal, any way.

From national interest point of view, the Indian proposal of joint venture coal-fired power plants do not merit any consideration. More over equally-owned joint venture with an investment of an equity of 25% or so is not understandable. Uncertainty about tariff fixation is another mystery.

It is said that Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) and Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) straight away opposed setting up the coal-fired power plant in Anwara on the grounds of anticipated lost visibility due to fumes, suspended flying particles, haze, smog, and disruptions of maritime and air traffic in the region. Air Force Base in Chittagong and the Department of Environment are not supposedly in favour of the project for a number of valid reasons, including hampered safe movement of merchant vessels to and from Chittagong maritime port. 

Any way, "Thanks, NO" must be our answer to the proposal. India already has more than 20 coal-fired power plants on our west and north-west. The entire Bangladesh is within their pollution range. It may be a subject of serious study whether the arsenic and other water contamination in different parts of Bangladesh is the effect of long-term pollution of the coal-fired power plants in India. As a lower riparian area, we might have been suffering from subsoil and surface water pollution and contamination for years. India may be requested to make studies and exchange information thereof.

The electricity exchange agreement with India appears to be one-sided. Just for 250-500MW power exchange, we must not spend $150m ADB loan fortransmission line and substation on our part. The condition of cost recovery provision for similar transmission line and substation on the Indian side cannot be justified. Practically, in case of even contract, the import and export tariff must be set equal in foreign currency, referring to bulk supply price. The cost of any facilities in the respective country shall be borne by the country concerned. The contract shall be subject to review every year and may be cancelled by either party with a notice of some days or months which may be specified. No technical deal should be made without thorough technology assessment.

Many people very often ask why we do not fix our "Coal policy" and use our coal as fuel for electricity generation in this period of "energy crisis". The question sounds simple and logical enough, but can it be really logical and beneficial to us unless we gain mining experience and capability? We may evaluate newtechnology, like underground gasification or others that are coming forth. 

Bangladesh has five coal reserves, Viz, 1)Jamalganj with estimated reserve of 1470 million tons, at a depth of 640-1158meter, which is already declared "Not" feasible now; 2) Barapukuria with a reserve of 390 million tons at a depth of 118-506Meter; 3) Kalishpir with a reserve of 685 at a depth of 257-480 m ; 4) Digipara with reserve of 600million tons at depth of 328-465m; and 5) Phulbari with a reserve of 572 million tons at depth of 140-350m. The total reserve of last four reserve is 2,247 million tons.. The shallowest of our coal reserves -- Barafukuria and Phulbari -- are also quite deep. Their total reserve is 962 tons. 

In consideration of subsoil condition, water management complicacy, monsoon rain, and other factors, open-pit mining may not be feasible without sacrificing the land, relocation, refilling, etc. Even in case of underground mining, with 20 to even 60% yield (subject a lot of uncertainties), offering concession to any foreign interest at six per cent or even sixteen per cent royalty would be against long-term interest of Bangladesh. 

We must analyze our experience with Barapukuria. which is being mined, and operating a 250MW coal-fired power plant at mine mouth. The Phulbari field may also be tried. We must build up our mining capability, even by hiring foreign consultants and engineering firms as needed, starting with pilot cases of new technology such as underground gasification or other safe and proven technology.

We may use our coal, if extracted without costlier adverse effects; and set power plants close to mines, using the latest and efficient technology. We must not think of export or import of coal by polluting our sea, rivers and freshwater bodies, fisheries resources and ecosystem beyond repair. We have to be wise and technically confident to act professionally. 

Dr Mustafizur Rahman is 

chairman, Institute of Development Strategy, Dhaka. The views expressed here are of the author's own and not necessarily of the organization he represents. 

Halliburton Drops as U.S. Panel Cites Knowledge of Unstable BP Well Cement

Halliburton Drops Most in 23 Months on BP Well Report
Storage tanks stand at a shorebase for Halliburton Co., the company that poured cement to line BP Plc's leaking oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, stands in Venice, Louisiana. Photographer: Derick E. Hingle/Bloomberg
Halliburton Co., the world’s second- largest oilfield-services provider, fell the most in five months after a government report said cement the company recommended to seal BP Plc’s Gulf of Mexico well was unstable and may have contributed to the largest U.S. offshore oil spill.
Halliburton, which reached a two-year high on Oct. 15, plunged 8 percent, or $2.74, to close at $31.68 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading with 97.8 million shares changing hands today, the most since March 2007.
The stock fell after the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill said documents provided by the Houston-based company showed at least three tests of the cement, in February and April, found the mixture for the doomed Macondo well unstable. BP received data from at least one test in March, the commission staff said in a letter today.
“Halliburton and BP both had results in March showing that a very similar foam slurry design to the one actually pumped at the Macondo well would be unstable, but neither acted upon that data,” according to a letter sent to the commissioners from the panel’s chief counsel Fred Bartlit and other staff members.
The national commission, headed by former U.S. Senator Bob Graham and William Reilly, the one-time head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, will hold hearings on the preliminary findings of its investigation on the cause of the April 20 oil-well blowout in Washington Nov. 8 and Nov. 9.
Anadarko Slips
London-based BP, which was the biggest producer of oil and gas last year when it beat Exxon Mobil Corp. for the first time, rose 1.3 percent to $40.60 in U.S. trading. Anadarko Petroleum Corp., the Texas oil company that owns a 25 percent stake in BP’s well, lost 1.3 percent to $61.77.
Credit-default swaps on Halliburton’s debt surged the most since June. Contracts on Halliburton climbed 27.3 basis points to 87.2, at 4:30 p.m. in New York, according to data provider CMA. The cost to protect the company’s debt nearly tripled in June, reaching as high as 219.4, CMA data show. Investors use credit default swaps to protect buyers protect from losses on corporate debt or speculate on credit worthiness.
To contact the reporter on this story: Nikolaj Gammeltoft in New York;