Wednesday, September 30, 2009

An Integrated Approach to Energy in BC

WWW.BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: Though few people are aware of it, British Columbia has the potential to become a clean energy superpower, the antithesis of our neighbor to the east mired in the tar sands. But to realize this potential, the BC Government, BC Hydro and BC businesses need to—dare we say it—”think outside the box”. Though the shameless use of the tired cliche in the previous sentence suggests otherwise, we have distinctive ideas, particularly about how to optimally use the bountiful energy resources with which this province is blessed. We have summarized these ideas in a short document which you can view by clicking here. Feedback, of course, is heartily encouraged.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

California’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Good News for BC’s Renewables Sector

WWW.BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: In the September 16 post of Megawatt, the British Columbia renewable energy blog, Warren Brazier notes that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s signing of an executive order requiring California utilities to obtain 33% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020, including out-of-state sources, is good news for BC’s renewables sector. Absolutely true, especially in combination with the BC government’s promotion of clean energy exports. At the end of the post, however, he comments, “Next up, signing some EPA’s (Energy Purchase Agreements) with the California utilities and building the transmission infrastructure.” This reference to transmission infrastructure gives rise to the question, Can the transmission infrastructure between BC and California be sufficiently upgraded within the next 10 years to enable BC renewables to play a major role in helping California reach the 33% by 2020 target? We’re skeptical, because of costs, as well as various political, environmental, and social issues.

Given the obstacles to short-term, large-scale expansion of the grid between BC and California, we believe that California utilities would be advised to weigh the merits of converting BC renewables such as hydro and wind to carbon-neutral Blue Fuel for the purpose of power generation. A superb energy carrier, Blue fuel is, in essence, liquid electricity. To put its energy carrying capacity in context, a single 80,000 tonne ship loaded with Blue Fuel could carry from Prince Rupert to Los Angeles the equivalent amount of energy that a 500 kV line could transmit between these cities. A truly multipurpose fuel, Blue Fuel can replace natural gas for power generation without modification to turbines or combustors. Manufacturers such as Mitsubishi, Hitachi, and General Electric have all approved Blue Fuel for their gas turbines. Apart from being carbon-neutral, Blue Fuel burns much cleaner than natural gas, enhancing air quality and thus human health. Further, Blue Fuel produced in BC can be delivered to California using existing rail and shipping infrastructure. California utilities could begin using Blue Fuel with little capital investment. What’s more, because Blue Fuel feedstocks are renewable energy, water, and waste carbon dioxide, BC producers will be able to offer California utilities stable long-term pricing. By contrast, natural gas prices have a history of volatility. Although natural gas is currently inexpensive, the Conference Board of Canada has forecast much higher prices by 2013.

The case for Blue Fuel as a power generation fuel is convincing. If California utilities are not convinced, however, perhaps Japanese utilities will be. Market research to date is encouraging. Japan, after all is arguably the world leader in DME R&D and generates about one-quarter of its power with natural gas. In addition, the new government has determined that Japan will assume a leadership role amongst developed countries in reducing GHG emissions. More on this topic in upcoming posts . . .

Friday, September 18, 2009

President Obama and Prime Minister Harper release joint statement on clean energy

WWW.BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently returned from an official visit to Washington, DC, to meet with US President Barack Obama. As is customary, the two leaders released a joint statement at the end of Mr. Harper's trip, and included in their statement was a mention of the two countries' progress on clean energy since President Obama's visit to Ottawa in February 2009.

Specifically, the statement referenced a report on the US - Canada Clean Energy Dialogue written under the names of US Energy Secretary Steven Chu and the Canadian Minister of the Environment Jim Prentice, as well as a related report the US - Canada Clean Energy Dialogue Action Plan.

Of the two reports, the Action Plan is longer, more detailed, and more relevant. It states that the two governments have identified "key opportunities for joint collaboration in each of the following priority areas: 1) Developing and deploying clean energy technologies; 2) Building a more efficient electrical grid based on clean and renewable generation; and 3) Expanding clean energy research and development.

Of significant interest to the DME/Blue Fuel world is a section of the Action Plan that deals with carbon capture and storage (CCS). As the report states, "CCS holds tremendous promise for North American climate and energy security, and is a critical technology for significantly reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from large industrial point sources that use fossil fuels." What is described above is a perfect match for Blue Fuel Energy's Corporation's plans to use renewable energy, such as wind and hydro, as well as water and waste carbon dioxide (in a process called active sequestration) to produce carbon-neutral DME/Blue Fuel in British Columbia, Canada.

Until now, natural gas processors and other industrial plant operators have considered CO2 a waste by-product and simply released it into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming. The alternatives are to sequester it underground or, as Blue Fuel Energy will do, to recycle it for energy use. Of all the CCS choices, we believe our active sequestration process makes the most sense both environmentally, politicallty, and economically, particularly since it utilizes renewable electricity, an important plank in the US-Canada joint plan platform.

The US-Canada Action Plan makes the following five recommendations in order "to realize a reliable, adequate, and secure North American electrical system - which will support a cleaner energy portfolio while providing cost effective energy solutions to consumers."

1. Increasing Opportunities for Trade in Clean Electricity.
2. Advancing Smart Grid and Clean Power Technologies
3. Realizing the Potential of Power Storage
4. Building the Power Work Force of Tomorrow
5. Keeping the Dialogue Going - the Canada-US Electricty/Smart Grid Forum.

According to the Joint Action Plan, implementation of these recommendations is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2009.

Although none of the objectives or recommendations in the Joint Plan mention DME/Blue Fuel specifically, in principle they speak directly to DME/Blue Fuel's strengths as an ultra-clean-burning, environmentally benign alternative fuel derived from waste CO2 and renewable electricity - and that spells good news indeed not only for the DME/Blue Fuel industry, but for consumers and citizens of both countries as well.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bolivia seeks to become DME producer

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: The Tarija Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Metrotec Energy in Bolivia are jointly promoting the use of Bolivia’s extensive natural gas reserves (100TCF) to produce DME for export to countries in Asia and the US. At this stage the concept is still being explored, but it is encouraging to note that proposals to produce DME are now emerging from around the world. To read more about this endeavor in Latin America please look at this presentation.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

US Energy Secretary Chu Announces Nearly $300 Million in Grants to Support Clean Fuels, Vehicles, and Infrastructure Development

BLUEFUELENERGY.COM: On Wednesday, August 26, the US Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced in a speech and on the US Department of Energy (DOE) website the selection of 25 cost-share projects under the Clean Cities program that will be funded with nearly $300 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. These projects will speed the transformation of the nation’s vehicle fleet, putting more than 9,000 alternative fuel and energy efficient vehicles on the road, and establishing 542 refueling locations across the country. The Department of Energy also estimates they will help displace approximately 38 million gallons of petroleum per year.

“The Clean Cities program is helping give state and local governments the tools they need to build a greener transportation system that will create new jobs and help to put America on the path to a clean energy future,” said Secretary Chu. “Advancing the number of alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles on the road will increase our energy security, decrease our dependence on oil, and reduce pollution across the country.”

Under the Recovery Act, the Clean Cities program will fund a range of energy efficient and advanced vehicle technologies, such as hybrids, electric vehicles, plug-in electric hybrids, hydraulic hybrids and compressed natural gas vehicles, helping reduce petroleum consumption across the U.S. In addition, funding will support refueling infrastructure for various alternative fuel vehicles, including biofuels and natural gas. Other efforts under the Clean Cities program include public education and training initiatives to further the program’s goal of reducing the national demand for petroleum.

The projects announced by Secretary Chu will support a combined total of more than 9,000 light, medium and heavy-duty vehicles and establish 542 refueling locations across the country. The vehicles and infrastructure being funded include the use of natural and renewable gas, propane, ethanol, biodiesel, electricity, and hybrid technologies. And with the cost share contributions from the recipients, every federal dollar spent will be matched by nearly two dollars from the project partners.

The DOE announcement has several implications for Blue Fuel/DME producers. First, it means that the United States government is taking alternative fuels seriously - clearly a good thing. Secondly, because Blue Fuel/DME is hydrogen rich and can readily be reformed into hydrogen, it is an excellent fuel for onboard hydrogen reforming in hydrogen-powered vehicles. Finally, since natural-gas vehicles are being promoted by the DOE, the need for carbon capture of excess CO2 from natural gas processing plants becomes even more critical. Through the process of active sequestration - the recycling of carbon dioxide for the production of commercial products - combined with renewable energy, we can produce an alternative fuel (Blue Fuel) that represents an immediate solution to the CO2 emissions problems facing natural gas producers all over North America - and, hopefully, even beyond.