EREN Network News
December 05, 2001
News and Events
- Interior, DOE Examine Renewable Energy on Public Lands
- Green Mountain Energy to Supply Green Power to Oregon
- Green Certificates: An Alternative Way to Buy Green Power
- Boeing Investigates Fuel Cell Power for Airplanes
- GM Announces Ethanol-Fuel Capability for Full-Size Pickups
- Segway Unveils the Scooter-Like "Human Transporter"
- Conoco Starts Up a 420-Megawatt Cogeneration Plant
Energy Facts and Tips
About this Newsletter
- October 2001 was the Warmest on Record Globally
Editor's Note: A significant number of subscribers were not able to receive the
email version of this week's newsletter, apparently due to problems with the
Goner virus on the receiving end. We apologize for any inconvenience and
assure subscribers that they will continue to receive the newsletter in the
future. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy reading this online version.
News and Events
Interior, DOE Examine Renewable Energy on Public Lands
U.S. Interior Secretary Gale Norton and DOE co-sponsored
a conference last week that examined ways to increase the
production of renewable energy on U.S. public lands.
Secretary Norton and Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham
will present recommendations to the President and Vice
President based on the conference. Secretary Norton noted
that the President's National Energy Policy specifically
directs her to reduce delays in geothermal lease processing.
"Our shared mission is both simple and noble," said Norton
to the conference attendees. "We must explore ways to
better capture the sun's light, the sky's winds, the land's
bounty, and the earth's heat to provide energy security for
David Garman, DOE Assistant Secretary for Energy
Efficiency and Renewable Energy, attended the meeting, as
did representatives from the President's Council on
Environmental Quality, the Department of Agriculture, the
Department of Defense, the Environmental Protection
Agency, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Senator Byron Dorgan, who co-chairs the Senate
Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus, and
Congressmen Zach Wamp and Mark Udall, co-chairs of the
House Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus,
also attended. Panels on renewable energy technologies
were chaired by leaders in the fields of geothermal, wind,
solar, biomass and hydropower energy. See the press
release and Secretary Norton's speech on the
U.S. Department of Interior Web site.
Panelists from the renewable energy industry made several
recommendations at the conference. For example, the
National Hydropower Association (NHA) called for reform of
the hydropower licensing process and financial incentives for
new hydropower development. See the NHA press release.
Green Mountain Energy to Supply Green Power to Oregon
Oregon's two largest electric utilities have selected Green
Mountain Energy Company (GMEC) to provide a green
power option to their customers. Pacific Power and Portland
General Electric announced Monday that, pending the
signing of final contracts, GMEC will start offering green
power options in March 2002. This will include an option for
customers to receive all their electricity from renewable
energy sources. Oregon's new electric restructuring law
requires that utilities provide access to such green power
GMEC has been active on several fronts lately. In mid-
November, the company started switching thousands of
customers over from the Cleveland Electric Illuminating
Company in Ohio. The company also dedicated a new
30-kilowatt solar electric system in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
See the GMEC press releases.
If you are able to buy green power in your area, and you
happen to be buying one of the 27 Green-e certified green
power products sold in four states, we have good news:
you're getting more than you paid for. In 2000, for the third
year in a row, green power companies delivered more
renewable power to the electric grid than they had promised
a total of 1.6 billion kilowatt-hours of renewable power.
See the news, with links to the full Green-e report and press
release, on the EREN Green Power Web site.
Green Certificates: An Alternative Way to Buy Green Power
Are you unable to buy green power from your utility? You
might consider buying so-called "green tags" or "green
certificates," which typically allow you to pay the extra cost of
producing power from renewable energy at some facility that
may be near or far from you. The power is typically sold into
the local power markets at the going rate. The idea is, by
paying the added cost, you earn the right to claim the
environmental benefits of the power. See the list of "Green
Certificate Marketers" on the EREN Green Power Web site.
One recent entry is NativeEnergy, which has launched
WindBuilders, a green certificate program for new wind
power construction. The company initially intends to build a
2.7-megawatt wind facility near Freeman, South Dakota,
called the Graber Family Wind Farm. The company also
intends to install more than 150 megawatts of wind capacity
in the next five years. NativeEnergy claims that a one-year
membership for $11 per month will avoid the production of
12 tons of carbon dioxide, which is roughly equal to the
annual carbon dioxide emissions from the average
U.S. household. See the NativeEnergy Web site.
Boeing Investigates Fuel Cell Power for Airplanes
Boeing Commercial Airplanes announced last week that it is
working with Boeing's new Research and Technology Center
in Madrid, Spain, to build an all-electric airplane. The
company is modifying a small, single-engine airplane by
replacing its engine with fuel cells and an electric motor that
will turn a conventional propeller. Although the airplane will
be an impressive demonstration, don't expect to see a
fuel-cell-powered 747 anytime soon Boeing currently
anticipates using fuel cells only to meet on-board electricity
needs on commercial aircraft. Currently, gas turbines are
used in auxiliary power units that produce electricity and air
for airplane systems while on the ground and for backup use
in flight. Fuel cells are inherently cleaner and quieter than
these auxiliary power units and can generate more than
twice as much electricity with the same amount of fuel. See
the Boeing press release.
GM Announces Ethanol-Fuel Capability for Full-Size Pickups
The first full-size pickup trucks that can run on E85 an 85-
percent ethanol fuel blend will be available from General
Motors Corporation (GM) in 2002. GM announced last week
that E85 compatibility will be available as a special
equipment option on select 1500-series Chevrolet Silverados
and GMC Sierras equipped with the 5300 Vortec engine.
The option is available for customer orders through all
Chevrolet and GMC dealers.
The Monsanto Company placed the first order for the
vehicles, ordering 50 Silverados for use in the field. See the
GM press release.
Segway Unveils the Scooter-Like "Human Transporter"
Segway LLC ended a year of speculation on Monday with
the unveiling of the Human Transporter, or HT, a scooter-like
device for short-distance travel. Looking somewhat like an
upended manual lawn mower, the two-wheeled device uses
gyroscopes and sensors to allow the rider to balance
effortlessly. The Segway HT will initially be available only for
commercial use the U.S. Postal Service and Amazon.com
are among the first to test it out and will be sold to
consumers in 2002. The company expects to eventually
produce three models to meet varying terrain and space
requirements. Segway's founder, Dean Kamen, generated
considerable media interest about a year ago when news
leaked of the then-secret project, code-named both "IT" and
"Ginger." See the Segway press releases.
Along with its unique balancing technology, the Segway HT
includes energy-management technology borrowed from
other electric vehicles. Saft provided nickel-cadmium and
nickel-metal-hydride batteries with integrated charge
management, and a brushless electric motor designed by
Pacific Scientific recovers energy and recharges the
batteries while decelerating or going downhill. Unknown at
this time, of course, is if the device will truly decrease urban
traffic, as the inventor intends, or if it will just decrease the
use of more old-fashioned energy-saving transportation
systems, like walking or riding a bicycle. But regardless, the
technology is intriguing. Peruse the Segway's content-rich
Conoco Starts Up a 420-Megawatt Cogeneration Plant
Conoco Energy Solutions announced last week the startup
of a 420-megawatt cogeneration power plant at a DuPont
chemical plant in Orange County, Texas. Conoco will supply
natural gas to the power plant, which will provide steam and
power to the DuPont Sabine River Works facility. The power
plant, owned jointly by Conoco and NRG Energy, Inc., will
generate more power than the DuPont facility requires, and
the excess power will be sold into the Texas electricity
market. See Conoco press release.
Power plants that produce both useful steam and electricity
are known as cogeneration plants, or combined heat and
power (CHP) plants. They achieve a much higher efficiency
than typical stand-alone power plants. To spur greater
investment in CHP plants, a recent report from the American
Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE)
concluded that an investment tax credit was the best option.
Another recent report suggested establishing special
emission standards for CHP plants. See these and other
efficiency-related announcements on the ACEEE press
Even without such incentives, two CHP plants are currently
planned for California. In late October, the California Energy
Commission (CEC) gave its approval for the construction of
the Valero Cogeneration Project, a 102-megawatt facility
proposed for the Valero refinery in Benecia. The $100 million
plant will consist of two combustion turbine generators that
will produce enough electricity to run the refinery, in effect
taking it off the state's electrical grid. Steam produced by the
power plant will be used in refinery processes, allowing the
retirement of three older boilers. Refinery gas will fuel the
facility, freeing natural gas for other users. The Valero
Refining Company expects to complete the facility by the
end of 2002. See the CEC press release.
The other CHP plant now planned for California
demonstrates that CHP doesn't necessarily involve large
industrial facilities. In late October, Koch Financial
Corporation announced that it is financing a 14.4-megawatt
CHP plant at California's San Diego State University. Koch
will provide more than $22 million in tax-exempt financing for
two natural-gas turbine generators. Waste heat from the
turbines will be used for either steam heat or absorption
cooling for the campus, or possibly to generate more
electricity. See the Koch press release.
Energy Facts and Tips
October 2001 was the Warmest on Record Globally
High average global temperatures this October earned the
month the unwelcome distinction as the warmest October on
record, announced the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA) in late November. The globally
averaged temperature was 58.2 degrees Fahrenheit
(14.6 degrees Celcius) 1.0 degrees Fahrenheit
(0.6 degrees Celsius) above the long-term average. The
year-to-date global temperature stands at 0.9 degrees
Fahrenheit (0.5 degrees Celsius) above average, the
second-warmest January-to-October period since global
surface temperature records began in 1880.
According to NOAA, global temperatures have risen by
1.0 degrees Fahrenheit (0.6 degrees Celsius) over the past
100 years. The rise in temperature has been more rapid
during the past 25 years, at a rate approximately three times
greater than the century-long trend. See the NOAA press
Although surface temperatures have risen rapidly over the
past 25 years, the temperatures in Earth's lower troposphere
have remained steady. The lower troposphere extends from
the Earth's surface up to about 8 kilometers, or about 5 miles,
and its near-constant temperature has led critics to question
the surface temperature data. However, researchers at
DOE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL)
believe they have an answer to the dilemma: Volcanoes.
The LLNL scientists used a statistical procedure to separate
El Nino and volcanic effects in observed temperature
records. They found that aerosol particles from the El Chichon
eruption in 1982 and the Pinatubo eruption in 1991 cooled
the lower troposphere and probably masked the actual
warming of the troposphere. Volcanoes therefore supply at
least part of the explanation for the different temperature
trends at the Earth's surface and in the troposphere. See the
LLNL press release.
For all the data on global temperature trends, including both
the surface and lower troposphere temperatures, see
NOAA's National Climatic Data Center Web site.
About this Newsletter
You can subscribe to this newsletter using the online form at:
This Web page also allows you to update your email address
or unsubscribe to this newsletter.
The Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network (EREN)
home page is located at http://www.eren.doe.gov/.
If you have questions or comments about this
newsletter, please contact the editor.