EREN Network News
September 05, 2001
News and Events
- Californians Cut Peak Electricity Use by 9 Percent in August
- Green Mountain Energy Offers Solar Energy to Californians
- SunWize Installs Solar Water Pumping System at National Park
- Study: Ethanol Industry Will Grow to Meet California's Needs
- Minnesota Power to Build 225-Megawatt Cogeneration Plant
- Researchers Create High-Temp Superconductor with Bucky Balls
Energy Facts and Tips
- Ohio Biomass Energy Program
About this Newsletter
- Many U.S. Vehicles are Driven on Under-Inflated Tires
News and Events
Californians Cut Peak Electricity Use by 9 Percent in August
Californians continued to conserve energy in August, cutting
their collective peak electrical demand by 9 percent and
reducing their overall electricity use by 7 percent, compared
to last year. Governor Gray Davis announced the latest
results on Sunday. More Californians qualified for the state's
20/20 program in August, in which customers that reduce
their electricity use by at least 20 percent relative to last year
receive an extra 20 percent off their electricity bills. The
number of Californians qualifying for the rebate increased by
25 percent to 4.3 million. See the governor's press release.
The full details on electricity use in California are available
on the California Energy Commission Web site.
California's water agencies can take some of the credit for
energy conservation. According to the Association of
California Water Agencies (ACWA), the agencies have been
shifting some operations to off-peak times and installing
energy efficient pumps. The agencies have also formed a
purchasing cooperative to buy microturbine generators and
photovoltaic systems for onsite power generation. See the
ACWA press release.
Green Mountain Energy Offers Solar Energy to Californians
California residents can use solar energy to reduce their
electrical needs, and as of a couple weeks ago, they have a
new place to turn to for solar energy systems. Green
Mountain Energy Company (GMEC) announced last month
that it is now offering solar electric systems with capacities
ranging from 1 to 4 kilowatts. The company will handle all
aspects of the system installation and will provide annual
checkups for the first five years of operation. See the GMEC
SunWize Installs Solar Water Pumping System at National Park
SunWize Technologies announced last week the installation
of a 7.2-kilowatt solar-powered water pumping system at
Joshua Tree National Park in southern California. The
system can pump 10,000 gallons of water per day from the
park's well. An additional 300-watt system operates two
small water treatment pumps and a light in the pumphouse.
The system replaces a diesel generator that had been
powering the pumping system. See the SunWize press
Study: Ethanol Industry Will Grow to Meet California's Needs
A recent study by the California Energy Commission (CEC)
finds that the U.S. ethanol industry is expanding rapidly,
apparently in preparation to meet the state's significant
needs for ethanol. Starting in 2003, California will need as
much as 950 million gallons of ethanol annually to replace
the fuel additive MTBE (methyl tertiary-butyl ether), which is
being phased out because of groundwater contamination
concerns. The industry's capacity will increase by 800 million
gallons by the beginning of 2003 and will increase by
another billion gallons by the end of that year.
The industry's total capacity of 2.2 billion gallons per year will
double within four years, according to the report. Most of the
new facilities will continue to produce ethanol from corn,
although two facilities will use a grain called milo and several
will produce ethanol from cheese whey, beverage industry
wastes, and potato waste. See the CEC press
release, which includes a link to the full report.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is doing its part
to assure that the ethanol industry grows as expected it's
providing $150 million in grants this year to commercial
producers of ethanol and biodiesel that increase their
production. See the USDA press release.
Meanwhile, the industry's growth continues to lead to new
production records each month. According to the Renewable
Fuels Association (RFA), ethanol production in July hit a new
record of 112,000 barrels per day. The RFA expects total
ethanol production to reach 1.8 billion gallons this year. See
the RFA press release.
Minnesota Power to Build 225-Megawatt Cogeneration Plant
Minnesota Power, an Allete company, announced in mid-
August that it will build a 225-megawatt power plant in
cooperation with Blandin Paper Company. The plant will be
fueled with a combination of biomass (mostly wood waste),
low-sulfur coal, and natural gas. Using a circulating fluidized
bed boiler, the plant will be capable of being powered with
up to 40 percent wood waste. The $200 million plant will
meet all the steam needs for the paper company while
producing electricity for the region. See the Allete press
Power plants that also produce steam for industrial purposes
are known as cogeneration plants, or combined heat and
power (CHP) plants. They achieve much higher energy
efficiencies than typical stand-alone power plants. See the
CHP Web site on EREN.
Researchers Create High-Temp Superconductor with Bucky Balls
Researchers at Lucent Technologies' Bell Labs have
produced a high-temperature superconductor (HTS) using
soccer-ball-shaped carbon molecules, often referred to as
"bucky balls." Superconductivity is the ability of materials to
conduct electricity without electrical resistance, which is the
main source of energy losses in electrical wires. Normal
conductors exhibit superconductivity near absolute zero, but
HTS materials exhibit superconductivity at much higher
temperatures. The bucky ball material exhibits superconductivity
at 117 degrees Kelvin, or minus 249 degrees Fahrenheit.
That relatively high temperature allows the material to be
cooled with liquid nitrogen, rather than the much more
expensive liquid helium.
Bucky balls get their name from their resemblance to
geodesic domes, which were invented by R. Buckminster
Fuller they are also referred to as "buckminsterfullerenes,"
or just plain "fullerenes." Since HTS devices are currently
produced using ceramic compounds of copper oxide, the
ability to produce HTS materials from bucky balls may
potentially open up new possibilities for the production of
HTS devices. The research was published in last week's
Science magazine. See the Lucent Technologies press
The HTS field was already shaken earlier this year by the
discovery of a new HTS material, magnesium boride,
announced in January by scientists in Japan. By June,
researchers at Agere Systems, another Lucent Technologies
company, had produced an HTS wire using the inexpensive
compound. Of course, both the magnesium boride and
bucky ball materials are a long way from commercial
Ohio Biomass Energy Program
Funded by DOE, this programís mission is to increase the
development and use of biomass energy resources in Ohio.
The site provides publications and information on biomass
energy and its economic and environmental benefits. It also
includes announcements of grants and information on
biomass projects in Ohio.
For this and other recent additions to the EREN Web site.
Energy Facts and Tips
Many U.S. Vehicles are Driven on Under-Inflated Tires
If you just got back from a long drive on your Labor Day
weekend, and you're feeling unhappy with the amount of gas
you've burned, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)
has this advice for you: check your tire inflation. According to
a survey performed by DOT's National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration (NHTSA), fully 27 percent of U.S.
passenger cars are riding on at least one under-inflated tire,
as are 32 percent of light trucks (including sport utility
vehicles, vans and pickup trucks). For purposes of the
survey, a tire was considered under-inflated at 8 pounds per
square inch (psi) or more below the vehicle manufacturer's
recommended inflation pressure. That's significant, since
every 2 psi of under-inflation per tire leads to a one percent
increase in fuel consumption caused by increased rolling
resistance. See the NHTSA press release.
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