Briefly Noted … Other Energy Issues

British report is bad news for nuclear; Spanish groups says nuclear better than renewables; heat pump developed without compressor.

– The leaked government energy review in Britain suggests that additional tax breaks and subsidies may no longer be provided to nuclear reactors, which could push the price for nuclear power by three times more than gas and renewable power. The review by Cabinet’s Performance & Innovation Unit says nuclear reactors may have to carry the cost of disposing or reprocessing of waste and decommissioning. The review, to be officially released in January, proposes the expansion of renewable energy targets to 20 percent of British electricity to be generated from wind or wave power by 2020. – The Spanish employers’ organization, CEOE, claims that nuclear energy is “indispensable” to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and political vulnerability in oil producing countries, as well as helping with climate change. It calls for construction of nuclear reactors and more research for fusion, combined with development of renewable energy sources. The group claims that nuclear will always be more productive than renewables. – Nuvera Fuel Cells says it has developed a breakthrough concept that could advance commercialization of fuel cell vehicles. The innovation, to be developed through its ‘Hi-Q’ program with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, involves an advancement to Nuvera’s multi-fuel processor technology which the company says can convert hydrocarbon and renewable fuels into hydrogen for use in fuel cell applications. Using Nuvera’s latest innovation, fuel cell systems in the 50 kW range could surpass 50 percent operating efficiency and start in less than 10 seconds. – A patent has been granted for a heat pump that requires no compressor and is claimed to be more efficient in providing heating and cooling on a scaleable basis than any comparable systems. Kelix Energies Corp says its technology, ‘Centrifugal Heat Transfer,’ is patented in the U.S., Europe and Canada. It says its heat transfer system uses centrifugal force which allows the use of a variety of environmentally safe refrigerants, much less electrical energy than compressor driven units, fewer working parts and no usual compressor seals. – A natural gas fuel cell system, developed by Nuvera Fuel Cells with support from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, has been unveiled at Verizon’s engineering facility in Cambridge, aimed at significantly advancing the use of alternative energy. The demonstration is part of a joint effort between Nuvera and Verizon to develop, test and evaluate fuel cell systems in the 5 kW range for use in distributed telecom sites, including those supporting local and wireless phone service. – Toyota Motor Corp will sell its all-electric RAV4-EV car to retail customers in California at a cost of US$42,000, which will drop to $30,000 with incentive payments from the California Air Resources Board and a federal tax credit. The car has a top speed of 80 mph and a range of 80 miles. – A firm in Georgia, eMotion Mobility, will build a production plant in Hinesville to make a compact electric vehicle that will be available for rent in the metro Atlanta area by late next year. – Texans are interested in their power to choose an electric provider as the state opens a competitive market in January. Recent media coverage on the new law prompted a dramatic spike in telephone enquiries to Texas Electric Choice, a public education campaign created by the Public Utility Commission of Texas. On January 1, most customers of investor-owned utilities will be able shop for renewable energy. – The Asian Development Bank has approved a US$8 million loan to electrify 40 outer islands in the Maldives group, south of India. The project will improve supply of electricity to the outer islands, where most of the country’s poor people live. The total cost is $10.6 million, with the Maldives paying the balance. – British Columbia should break up its provincial utility, BC Hydro, and reduce regulation to encourage private investment in the electrical system, according to a government report. The utility should be split into separate generation, transmission and distribution companies, to “accommodate new energy producers and enable them to deliver their product to market on an equitable basis.” B.C. relies on hydroelectric dams for most of its generation, but the task force recommends the province encourage the development of coal-burning power plants. The report adds that electricity rates in the province could increase by 30 percent. – The fuel cell company, H Power Corp, and Gaz de France have installed the first of six Beta Residential Cogeneration Units for testing. The RCU, which operates independent of the grid and is powered by natural gas, was installed in a house near Paris. – Power plant developers who charged ahead to build new power plants will face a glutted electricity market and lower prices, according to a study by RDI, a consulting unit of Platts. The forecast glut in the U.S. arises because more power plants will be added to the grid in 2001-2002 than were added in all of the 1990s combined. It says that, in oversupply conditions, developers need to decide if they should cancel plants in which they have substantial investments, or remain in the market and see the plants lose money in the short-run. – The U.S. Department of Energy says it will financially assist industry teams to develop a solid oxide fuel cell system with a factory cost of US$400 per kW by 2010. The solicitation for financial assistance will develop technologies that address specific technical challenges and barriers.
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