Other energy – Nov 19

November 18, 2005

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage

Cooling-off period over, nation warms up to coal

Christopher Leonard, Associated Press via Seattle Times
…”We’re in about as good a condition as we’ve been in some time,” said Delynn Fielding, director of economic development for Carbon County, where the mine is located.

Fielding’s words could apply to the coal industry overall. Companies like Arch have seen surging profits and record-high stock prices. Expansion plans are in the works, from new coal mines to coal-fired power plants.
(17 November 2005)

Australia Pioneers Energy From Hot Rocks

Paul Marriott, Reuters, Epoch Times
Generating electricity using the heat of ancient rocks buried deep below the red sands of the Australian outback?

Spurred by high commodity prices and a drive to reduce Australia’s reliance on coal, several companies are looking to harness hot rock temperatures of up to 300 degrees Celsius (570 Fahrenheit) to unleash green energy.

A combination of nature’s bounty, government support and entrepreneurial spirit may well help Australia win the race to generate electricity for commercial purposes from the rocks, which some say could produce more than the country’s known oil or coal reserves.

Based on encouraging test results, pioneer explorer Geodynamics Ltd. could make an investment decision on its first power station in early 2006, the climax of five years of drilling in the South Australian desert.

“This is the best spot in the world, a geological freak,” Geodynamics managing director Bertus de Graaf told Reuters. “It’s really quite serendipitous, the way the elements – temperature, tectonics, insulating rocks – have come together here.”
(14 November 2005)

EIA wind intermittancy – chipping away at the doubters

Keith Hays, Windbiz
Wind is an intermittent, volatile energy resource that is an expensive, taxing form of generation for the grid to manage. True or false?

In many cases, false. In the past two years the EWEA, DENA, and now the EIA have made the case for wind’s place on the grid. The EIA’s recent study looks at the balance of plant issues for wind and the positive affects of wind that is widely distributed throughout the system. There are caveats for everyone, including geography, wind resource, and type of machines. There is a chart showing the costs of integrating wind into the grid per MWh, in which E.ON’s figure is over eight times that of other grid operators at €11.7/MWh, though “it is not clear what these costs include”.

In the end, the study underlines that wind does not need to be backed up on a one-to-one basis, and should be complemented by other renewables such as biomass. While the EIA isn’t the biggest champion of wind, it is positive that the issues are getting onto their research agenda.

The next big issue is integrating that wind power not just into the grid, but into the electricity market. Spain’s recent increase of its wind target to over 20,000 MW has effectively lifted the grid’s wind penetration limits, while at the same time producers are encouraged to sell on the open market.
(14 November 2005)
The report mentioned in the article (“Variability of Wind Power and Other Renewables”) is available as a download from the International Energy Agency.

Gas fields also deplete, but faster

Heading Out, The Oil Drum
One of the side benefits of attending the World Oil meeting in Denver last week was that I could pick up a few of the DVD’s that Global Public Media had available including a long interview with Colin Campbell. Watching the first half of that tonight, I was reminded by him, that while we are discussing the depletion rates for oil, the more critical one for immediate attention is that for natural gas.

…Natural gas, [in contrast to oil], flows a lot more easily, and normally does not have a lot of the constraints that producing oil has. Thus, if your pipeline can handle the flow, and there is a demand, the gas field can be drained much more rapidly, with a consequent dramatically more rapid conclusion to the flow. As Dr Campbell pointed out fields may last just months, and then “boom” they are gone
(19 November 2005)

Tags: Coal, Education, Electricity, Fossil Fuels, Geothermal, Natural Gas, Renewable Energy, Wind Energy