Briefly Noted … Other Energy Issues

University says Enron failure is not a symptom of deregulation; China installs fuel cell plant on pig farm; Ebara buys into Ballard; flywheel system demonstrated.

– Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say that the collapse of Enron is not evidence against the restructuring of the electricity industry from monopoly to competitive models. The University’s Alex Farrell says restructuring the electricity industry is complex and requires thought and attention. He suggests that while California and Enron have attracted criticism, such short-sited responses to Enron’s financial meltdown could be equally harmful because restructuring in Pennsylvania has led to lower prices for consumers, an increase in renewable energy production, while keeping supply reliability at high levels. – The first commercial fuel cell power unit in China has been installed at a pig farm in Guangdong province, 90 miles from Hong Kong, to generate power for equipment on the farm and to export surplus power. Initially fueled by liquefied petroleum gas, plans call for the fuel cell to be powered by renewable methane fermentation gas produced by hog waste. – Light emitting diode xmas lights, which use ten times less energy than standard mini-lights and last up to 100,000 hours, are a more environmentally-friendly festive decoration, says the efficiency advisory service, Energy Ideas Clearinghouse. The energy cost of 500 LED lights for one month is US$0.20, and the units last longer and are virtually indestructible. – Japanese company Ebara will take a 1 percent equity interest in Ballard Power Systems of Canada by switching out of its 10 percent stake in Ballard Generation Systems, a unit of BPS. Reports say the Japanese firm will participate more actively in fuel cell-based generation system projects, led by BPS. – A flywheel-based Uninterruptible Power Supply will be demonstrated in California by Holt Power Systems And Active Power. The battery-free energy storage system will demonstrate how power can be delivered during a utility outage until a Caterpillar generator starts. The power dense system was developed by Caterpillar and Active Power, which claims that its patented flywheel technology, CleanSource, is the world’s first commercially viable mechanical battery. U.S. firms lose US$30 billion dollars a year due to power disturbances, estimates EPRI. – Nuclear companies in Britain deny that nuclear has been rejected in a government report on energy policy that was leaked this week. The review apparently says no action should be taken to replace older reactors that are slated to close by 2020, but it does state the importance of nuclear to decrease Britain’s over-reliance on imported natural gas and greenhouse gas emissions. Energy minister Brian Wilson supports nuclear. – Green Mountain Energy Co has named Temerlin Mcclain as its strategic marketing agency, which will build the GME brand in U.S. regions where energy deregulation will take effect in 2002. Other clients include American Airlines, Subaru of America and Nortel Networks. GME is a major supplier of wind and solar electricity in the residential market. – Advanced Energy Research Corp of Florida says its new TrueFuel(TM) gas fuel offers a cleaner alternative to fossil fuels, and “can replace natural gas, coal, petroleum and other renewable energy.” Officials say the product is a renewable fuel when its carbon comes from non-fossil sources, and can make fuel cells obsolete. – New Zealand could save $40 billion in energy by 2020 by promoting conservation, says Wellington consulting firm Energy Solutions. It would cost $9 billion to retrofit buildings and install energy efficient equipment into new buildings, but direct and indirect energy savings by 2020 would be $50 billion, with annual energy savings of $3 billion. Under a faster implementation, measures could save net $68.4 billion by 2020, while a slower implementation would save net $15.1 billion, it predicts. New Zealand currently spends $8 billion a year on energy. – The U.S. Coast Guard in St. Petersburg, Florida, has banned boats from coastal waters near Florida Power’s nuclear reactor. A security zone of three miles has been defined and will be in effect until at least June, and is in response to the September terrorist attacks. Violators can be fined US$27,000. The restricted area is popular with fishermen, because the discharge canal releases warm water from the reactor.
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