Briefly Noted … Other Energies

Demonstration flywheel to installed at cable TV company in Nebraska; Mexico may ration electricity unless the energy sector attracts private investment of US$5 billion dollars a year; average prices for electricity in New Zealand drop below US$0.005/kWh; security measures at U.S. ports and harbours will involve the energy industry under legal provisions passed by the Senate last month; Brazil will ease energy rationing in February during the country’s Carnival period; Canadian advisory group launches initiative to broaden understanding of GHG emissions trading; more.

– A 6 kW demonstration flywheel will be installed by Beacon Power Corp for the WinDBreak Cable Company in Nebraska. The 36 volt flywheel will supply back-up power for cable TV and data services, following testing of earlier models to replace high maintenance battery systems. – Mexico may ration electricity unless the energy sector attracts private investment of US$5 billion dollars a year, says president Vicente Fox. He says opening the energy sector to private investment displays confidence in the Mexican government and the country’s political and social stability. – Average wholesale prices for electricity in New Zealand dropped to less than US$0.005 a kilowatt hour in the first week of January, following massive rainfall on South Island where most hydro generation originates. The country now is spilling water from dams to avoid flooding, in contrast to last year’s power rationing due to drought and wholesale prices peaked at 39c/kWh. Many retailers purchased electricity on long-term contracts at fixed prices, so there will be a long adjustment period before retail prices drop. – Security measures at U.S. ports and harbours will involve the energy industry, which must be consulted under a provision passed by the Senate last month. Shipments of explosive liquified natural gas into Boston harbour were suspended by the Coast Guard following the September terrorist attacks, and the new legislation forces conventional energy companies to be consulted on dangers from their product to ensure port security. Alaska Senator Frank Murkowski says the provision should be part of a broader discussion on the implications of heavy reliance on foreign oil, noting that, “As imported energy becomes a larger share of the US energy supply, the energy trade itself creates new terrorist targets.” – Brazil’s government will ease energy rationing for ten days in February during the country’s Carnival period. Rationing began last June due to low water levels at hydroelectric reservoirs, and the country may end rationing when reservoir levels return to 52 percent of capacity from current levels of 39 percent. – Actor Martin Sheen, who plays President Josiah Bartlet on NBC-TV’s ‘The West Wing,’ is calling on Americans to urge their politicians to save the Arctic refuge from oil drilling. In a message to 500,000 supporters of the environmental group Defenders of Wildlife, Sheen says Congress should adopt an energy plan that provides “enhanced energy security and protects the environment” through renewable energy and improved efficiency. After a year of debate, the Senate will vote next month on legislation to increase U.S. reliance on fossil fuels and open the Arctic refuge and other public land to commercial exploitation. – An advisory group to the Canadian government is undertaking an initiative to broaden awareness and understanding of the concept of GHG emissions trading among opinion leaders. The National Round Table on the Environment & the Economy will work with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Pollution Probe and the Centre patronal de l’environnement du Québec to lay the groundwork for national discussions on the role emissions trading may play in Canada’s response to climate change under the Kyoto Protocol. NRTEE recently estimated that Canada could save C$20 billion over the next decade if it adopts an innovative program that uses financial incentives to encourage companies to cut greenhouse gas emissions. – The Combined Heat & Power Partnership of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has welcomed Sure Power Corp to its ranks, joining ExxonMobil, GM, US Steel and other businesses in a voluntary program to expand the use of cogeneration. – The French nuclear industry is concerned with a working document of the French Socialist Party that appears to present a joint PS-Green Party stance on energy. The plan promotes energy saving and development of renewable energies but also freezes the number of nuclear reactors using MOX until 2010. French electricity generated from nuclear would drop to 60 percent by 2007 from its current 82 percent. – Japanese public support for building nuclear reactors has dropped to the lowest level on record, apparently due to a series of nuclear accidents, according to a survey. Only 25 percent of respondents supported nuclear reactors in the latest survey, down 7 percentage points from the previous survey in 1998. The rating is the lowest since 1991, when the question was first asked.
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