Siemens Energy has been awarded an 18-month, $300,000 R&D program by the Illinois Clean Coal Institute to study the effects of coal and coal-derived syngas combustion on the behavior of material and coating degradation in utility boiler and gas turbine environments. Focus areas of the research program will explore materials degradation modes in integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) systems and utility boilers.
An emerging model for green power.
Stephen B. Pearlman and Ryan J. Scerbo
Certain New Jersey counties have undertaken a regional, public-private partnership approach to developing renewable energy projects for local government buildings. Local governments generally include municipalities, school districts, counties, and municipal or county or other regional sewerage or water utilities, depending on applicable state law.
How merchant funding is remaking the rules for renewables.
Six weeks ago, FERC opened a notice of inquiry to invite industry comments on whether wind, solar, and other intermittent energy sources face unfair obstacles in wholesale power markets. Now assigned their own acronym—VERs, for “variable energy resources”—renewables make up a growing percentage of the nation’s energy supply portfolio. But as FERC notes, they present “unique challenges,” especially in terms of constraints on location and limits on the degree to which system operators can control or dispatch individual VER units. Thus, FERC suggests that certain common rules and practices, such as those for unit commitment, dispatch, and scheduling, might make it overly difficult to integrate VERs into the grid.
A trio of eager tech startups confronts an industry intent on preserving the status quo.
In light of all the excitement created by smart-grid regulatory initiatives and stimulus funding, three clever tech startups have come forward with proposals for novel grid projects. In California, Western Grid Development proposes to install energy storage devices ranging in size from 10 to 50 MW at various discrete and strategic locations in PG&E’s service territory where the California ISO has identified reliability problems. Second, a company called Primary Power proposes to deploy a total of four advanced, 500-MVAR static VAR compensators (SVC) at three separate locations within the PJM footprint. Third, in Clovis, N.M., Tres Amigas plans to allow power producers to move market-relevant quantities of electric power and energy between and among the nation’s three asynchronous transmission grids: ERCOT and the Eastern and Western Interconnections.
Aligning renewable energy incentives with RPS compliance.
States’ green energy policies are being used to serve multiple agendas. Lawmakers should revisit their renewable incentive programs to better align them with policy goals. A regional approach will yield a more efficient portfolio.
Proving market performance requires detailed analysis.
Now that fuel prices have fallen recently from the highs seen in 2008 and wholesale electricity prices also have decreased, it might be tempting to attribute the lower prices to the restructuring of the wholesale electricity markets. Unfortunately, it’s a little more complicated than that.
Technologies are scaling up quickly to meet industry needs.
Like other California electric utilities, San Francisco-based Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has been scrambling to meet the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS), which requires suppliers to obtain at least 20 percent of their power from renewable energy sources by 2010. Though the RPS includes a variety of technologies, renewables developers are choosing utility-scale solar power more than any other resource, says Hal La Flash, PG&E’s director of emerging clean technologies.
Rewards, challenges and options for rate-based investments.
Paul Alvarez and Benjamin Hodges
Utilities traditionally have met renewable portfolio standards with power purchases from IPPs. But new approaches are allowing utilities to build their rate bases with investments in solar generation.
The capital markets have recovered … or have they?
One year ago, in the midst of the financial crisis, one industry—energy utilities—continued accessing the capital markets. Since then, interest rates and terms have improved dramatically, inviting utilities to refinance billions of dollars in debt that won’t mature for another year. Despite the current rosy picture, however, economic trends might cast a shadow over the industry’s capital-investment plans.
The best way to tap into renewable project funding.
Renewable generation resources have become the rallying cry for policymakers and developers alike as the movement grows to generate electricity in a more climate-friendly manner. Pending federal legislation creating a carbon cap-and-trade market and a national renewable portfolio standard (RPS), together with existing state requirements, is spurring utilities that lack renewable generation to acquire some—no matter the federal legislative outcome—and causing utilities with sizeable renewable generation to expand their existing portfolios.