(February 2012) Siemens acquires eMeter; Long Island Power Authority selects PSEG to manage T&D system; Mountain Parks Electric awards SCADA/DMS contract to Open Systems International; Kiewit and Sargent and Lundy award contract to Hitachi; plus announcements and contracts involving SAIC, Shell, Landis+Gyr, and others.
Investment opportunities in an evolving environment.
Some of the key policy mechanisms and market factors that triggered the boom in renewable energy development have weakened in the face of one of the most severe economic downturns in modern history. In some ways, though, the renewables sector is richer and more dynamic today than when the boom began. A shakeout might be coming among renewable power players, and those that survive will strengthen their capabilities, hone their strategies, and take advantage of industry consolidation to build scale.
A new future for small coal-fired plants.
Small coal-fired plants are particularly vulnerable to economic and environmental pressures, putting some plant owners in what seems like a no-win position. But an emerging option—biocoal from crop wastes—might give small coal units a new lease on life.
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.
Waxman-Markey RES creates land-use dilemmas.
The Waxman-Markey bill proposes a federal renewable electricity standard. This standard, combined with state mandates, raises the risk of forest land shortages and higher prices for food and feedstocks.
Policy and technology changes are re-shaping the utility business model.
A once-in-a-lifetime confluence of forces is re-shaping the business models of America’s electric utilities. Rising costs, combined with technological advancements and shifts in regulatory policy, are putting unprecedented pressure on companies that depend on market conditions. Those that adapt to the new realities will be better positioned for success in the future.
Renewables attract utility investment dollars.
New federal policies have opened the gates to utility investments in renewable generating plants. Some states, however, still make it difficult for utilities to put such assets into the rate base. Executives at Duke, OG&E, PG&E and Xcel Energy discuss challenges and opportunities affecting their renewable investment strategies.
Financial incentives work, but beware potential pitfalls.
The province’s renewable program was vastly oversubscribed. But was it successful?
Will power plants get caught in ethanol’s food fight?
The debate over food vs. fuel never has been louder. Using corn to make the biofuel ethanol is perhaps the best known point of argument. Everyone is asking: Should the United States require a certain percentage of U.S. corn crops be turned into fuel in the face of global food shortages and exorbitant food prices? And what are the effects of diverting food croplands into producing fuel?
“Biomass Fuel Foibles states that biomass plants will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. We own several wood (biomass) plants and yes, sulfur emissions are almost zero, but there is always a NOx problem. NOx can be controlled using urea injection and other technologies. But isn’t the main concern over the emission of CO2, and don’t biomass plants or any process that combusts fuel produce CO2 that cannot be controlled?