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EERE Network News -- 03/31/04

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  • by way of Tom Gray
    4db3beb.jpg 4db3d71.jpg A weekly newsletter from the U.S. Department of Energy s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 1, 2004
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      A weekly newsletter from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).

      March 31, 2004


      News and Events


      Energy Connections

      • Future Uncertain for Natural Gas as Two LNG Projects Cancelled
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      News and Events


      DOE Partnerships to Develop Wind Turbines for Low Wind Speeds

      DOE intends to expand the use of wind power in the United States, and sees significant potential in areas with wind speeds that are too low to tap economically with today's wind turbines areas with average annual wind speeds of about
      13 miles per hour. To allow wind power projects in these areas, DOE is establishing
      21 partnerships with public and private entities to develop low-wind-speed wind turbines. The program includes conceptual design studies and the development of both turbine components and complete wind turbines, and DOE expects the total investment in the partnerships to total $60 million over the next four years. DOE announced the partnerships on Monday at the wind industry's Global Windpower 2004 Conference in Chicago. See the DOE press release.

      The wind energy resources that DOE intends to capture through the new partnerships are currently considered "marginal" or "poor" wind resources. Harvesting wind power from these sites will open up much of the United States to wind power, excluding only the Southeast. For more information, including links to detailed wind resource maps for most states, see the DOE's Wind Powering America Web Site.

      DOE and Ford Motor Company Host the SUVs of the Future

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      Bruce Billian from Virginia Tech addresses attendees to last week's FutureTruck event as Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham (left) and David Garman (right), Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, look on.
      Credit: FutureTruck

      Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham and the Ford Motor Company hosted seven student-designed, energy-efficient sport utility vehicles (SUVs) at an event in Washington, D.C., last week as part of FutureTruck 2004, an engineering competition. The FutureTruck competition challenges 15 teams of university engineering students to reengineer Ford Explorers to achieve lower emissions and a
      25 percent increase in fuel economy, without sacrificing performance, utility, or safety. This year's teams have all converted their Explorers to hybrid-electric vehicles, and two teams have modified the engines to run on hydrogen fuel. The competition will conclude in June at Ford's Michigan Proving Ground. See the DOE press release and the FutureTruck Web site.

      While university teams are gearing up for the FutureTruck competition, 14 U.S. and Canadian university teams have just finished the Clean Snowmobile Challenge, sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). The winning team, from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, developed a hybrid electric snowmobile for the event. The competition challenges engineering students to reduce the noise and emissions of a snowmobile while maintaining or improving its performance. See the SAE announcement and Clean Snowmobile Challenge Web site.

      Minnesota and Wisconsin Seek 300 Megawatts of Renewable Power

      The Midwest may soon experience a renewable energy boon, thanks to the efforts of utilities in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Minnesota's Great River Energy the state's second largest electric utility requested bids for 200 megawatts of power from renewable energy resources in early March. The utility intends to draw on solar, wind, or biomass projects up to 100 megawatts in capacity, and hydropower projects of less than 60 megawatts in capacity. Responses are due by the end of April. In Wisconsin, Alliant Energy Corporation's Wisconsin Power and Light is seeking bids to add 100 megawatts of wind power in 2005. However, the utility does not plan on proceeding with the wind projects unless Congress extends the renewable energy production tax credit (the credit expired at the end of last year). Bids are due by May 28th. See the press releases from Great River Energy and Alliant Energy.

      Arizona Utility Builds a 1-Megawatt Solar Trough Plant

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      The SEGS solar trough plant in California.
      Credit: Kramer Junction Company

      APS, Arizona's largest utility, broke ground last week on Arizona's first commercial solar trough power plant. Solar troughs concentrate the sun's heat using trough-shaped parabolic mirrors that swivel on their axis to point at the sun. A pipe carrying oil runs through the focus of each solar trough to collect the heat, and the hot oil is then used to vaporize a liquid. The hot vapor is routed through a turbine, and the spinning turbine turns a generator to produce power. The new APS solar trough plant will be built at the company's Saguaro Power Plant near Red Rock, about 30 miles north of Tucson, and will generate up to
      1 megawatt of power. The company expects the plant to begin producing power in April 2005. See the APS press release.

      Currently, only nine solar trough plants exist in the United States, and all are located in California's Mojave Desert. The nine plants are known as the Solar Energy Generating Station (SEGS), units I through IX, and are currently owned and operated by several companies. SEGS I began producing power in 1985, and the newest unit, SEGS IX, went online in 1991. They have a combined capacity of
      354 megawatts. See the "Projects Deployed" section of DOE's TroughNet Web site.

      Utah Power Installs Innovative Battery Energy Storage System

      The first vanadium-based battery energy storage system in the United States began operating last week in Castle Valley, Utah. Vanadium is a commercially available metal commonly used as an additive to steel. The pilot project consists of tanks that hold solutions of vanadium ions in two forms, one more positive and one more negative than the other. The two solutions are brought together in a fuel cell stack, where they react to produce electricity. Electricity can also be fed into the fuel cell stack, reversing the reaction and storing the electrical energy in chemical form in the vanadium solutions. The device is sometimes called a regenerative fuel cell, because it can both store and produce electricity, or a flow battery, because the chemical solutions are pumped through the fuel cell stack.

      Utah Power installed the battery energy storage system, which is capable of generating 250 kilowatts of power for eight hours. The system was constructed by VRB Power Systems, Inc. and will be used to improve reliability for Castle Valley customers, who are located at the end of the utility's longest electrical distribution line. See the press releases from PacifiCorp, Utah Power's parent company, and
      VRB Power (PDF 130 KB). Download Acrobat Reader.

      VRB Power has previously installed its energy storage systems in Australia and South Africa. For a more detailed technical description of the system, see the company's "Executive Summary" (PDF 422 KB).

      Despite their advantages, battery energy storage systems are rare in the United States. The world's largest, located in Alaska, uses nickel-cadmium batteries and is capable of generating 27 megawatts of power for up to 15 minutes. Installed by the Golden Valley Electric Association (GVEA) and completed in January, the system earned a 2004 Technology Achievement Award from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) last month. It has already prevented a number of power outages for GVEA's customers. See the EPRI press release and the GVEA Web site.

      Two Companies Break Records with New Superconducting Wires

      Two U.S. companies are pushing the limits of their newest high-temperature superconducting (HTS) wires to new heights. HTS wires promise significant gains in energy efficiency for electrical power lines and machinery because they carry electrical current with no resistance and very low energy losses. American Superconductor Corporation has produced multiple 10-meter lengths of its second-generation HTS wires that are capable of carrying 250 amperes of current per centimeter of wire width, a world record performance. The company estimates that it needs to achieve 300 amperes of current per centimeter of wire width for commercial applications of the wire. Meanwhile, SuperPower Inc. a subsidiary of Intermagnetics General Corporation has produced a 57-meter length of second-generation HTS wire that can carry 105 amperes, which is also a world record. See the press releases from American Superconductor and Intermagnetics.

      American Superconductor also continues to successfully sell its grid stability products. The company sold one of its reactive power compensation systems to a Canadian wind power plant in January, and sold another to the Long Island Power Authority on Monday. The systems help to stabilize voltage in the power grid and avoid power outages. See the American Superconductor press releases from January 14th and March 29th.
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      Energy Connections


      Future Uncertain for Natural Gas as Two LNG Projects Cancelled

      The push to import more natural gas from overseas suffered a setback in recent weeks, when two proposed terminals for receiving liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports were cancelled. On March 10th, TransCanada Corporation and ConocoPhillips announced they were suspending work on the Fairwinds LNG project in Harpswell, Maine, after the town residents voted against leasing a site for the project. On March 18th, Calpine Corporation announced that public opposition had led the company to withdraw its plans for an LNG terminal near Eureka, California. See the press releases from TransCanada and Calpine.

      Growing demand for natural gas has led DOE to emphasize increased imports as an essential part of the nation's energy future, and LNG is the only means of importing natural gas from overseas. The oil and gas industry has responded by proposing a large number of projects over the past year. For background on the LNG development plans, see the articles from the January 7th and February 25th editions of this newsletter.

      Meanwhile, uncertainty persists over the next-best solution for increasing natural gas supplies to the United States: an Alaskan natural gas pipeline. MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company announced last week that its subsidiary, Alaska Gas Transmission Company, has withdrawn its application to build the pipeline after failing to reach a suitable agreement with the State of Alaska. However, TransCanada, which would have helped with the MidAmerican project, quickly stepped in to resume negotiations on the project. See the MidAmerican and TransCanada press releases.
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      This newsletter is funded by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and is also available on the EERE news page. You can subscribe to the EERE Network News using our simple online form, and you can also update your email address or unsubscribe online.

      If you have questions or comments about this newsletter, please contact the editor, Kevin Eber, at kevin_eber@....
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