The California Energy Commission has passed energy-efficiency standards for computers and monitors in an effort to reduce power costs, becoming the first state in the nation to adopt such rules. Th…
Figure 1: Radial Outflow Turbine Generator – Organic Rankine Cycle – ORC Turbine (1)
Existing oil and gas wells offer access to untapped sources of heat which can be converted to electricity or used for other energy intensive purposes. This includes many abandoned wells, which can be reactivated as power sources. These wells, in many cases “stranded assets” have been drilled, explored, and have roads built for access. This makes re-utilization of existing infrastructure cost-effective while minimizing harm to the environment associated with exploration.
In a recently published article in Alberta Oil, an oil & gas industry magazine they point out many of the benefits of converting existing and abandoned wells to geothermal energy.
A recent Continental Resources-University of North Dakota project in the Williston Basin is producing 250 kW of power from two water source wells. The units fit into two shipping containers, and costs US$250,000. This type of micro-generation is prospective in Alberta, and a handful of areas also have potential for multi-MW baseload power production.
In addition to producing power, we can use heat for farming, greenhouses, pasteurization, vegetable drying, brewing and curing engineered hardwood. Imagine what Alberta’s famously innovative farmers and landowners would accomplish if they were given the option to use heat produced from old wells on their properties. Northern communities, where a great many oil and gas wells are drilled nearby, can perhaps reap the most benefits of all. Geothermal can reduce reliance on diesel fuel, and provide food security via wellhead-sourced, geothermally heated, local greenhouse produce. (2)
Water can be recirculated by pumps to extract heat from the earth, and through heat exchangers be used as a source of energy for various forms of machines designed to convert low grade waste heat into electricity. The Stirling Cycle engine is one such mechanical device which can be operated with low grade heat. However recent developments in the Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) engine seem to hold the greatest promise for conversion of heat to electricity in these installations.
In a “boom or bust” industry subject to the cycles of supply and demand coupling a new source of renewable energy to resource extraction makes sense on many fronts. It could be an economic stimulus not only to the province of Alberta, but throughout the world where oil and gas infrastructure exists, offering new jobs and alternative local power sources readily available.
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When we think of using electricity one of the prevalent uses is to provide a heat source. We see this in our everyday lives as ranges and ovens, microwaves, kettles, hot water tanks, baseboard heaters, as well as other applications. So how about reversing the process and capturing heat and directly converting to electricity, is this possible? As it happens there is a classification of materials which have a property called a thermoelectric effect.
Boosting energy efficiency is an important element of the transition to a sustainable energy system. There are big savings to be made. For example, less than half the energy content of diesel is actually used to power a diesel truck. The rest is lost, mostly in the form of heat. Many industrial processes also deal with the problem of excessive waste heat.
That’s why many research teams are working to develop thermoelectric materials – materials that can convert waste heat into energy. But it’s no easy task. To efficiently convert heat to electricity, the materials need to be good at conducting electricity, but at the same time poor at conducting heat. For many materials, that’s a contradiction in terms.
“One particular challenge is creating thermoelectric materials that are so stable that they work well at high temperatures,” says Anders Palmqvist, professor of materials chemistry, who is conducting research on thermoelectric materials. (1)
Image 1: The enlarged illustration (in the circle) shows a 2D electron gas on the surface of a zinc oxide semiconductor. When exposed to a temperature difference, the 2D region exhibits a significantly higher thermoelectric performance compared to that of bulk zinc oxide. The bottom figure shows that the electronic density of states distribution is quantized for 2D and continuous for 3D materials. Credit: Shimizu et al. ©2016 PNAS
The thermoelectric effect is not as efficient as converting electricity to heat, which is generally 100% efficient. However, with waste energy streams even a small conversion rate may return a significant flow of usable electricity which would normally go up a stack or out a tailpipe.
The large amount of waste heat produced by power plants and automobile engines can be converted into electricity due to the thermoelectric effect, a physics effect that converts temperature differences into electrical energy. Now in a new study, researchers have confirmed theoretical predictions that two-dimensional (2D) materials—those that are as thin as a single nanometer—exhibit a significantly higher thermoelectric effect than three-dimensional (3D) materials, which are typically used for these applications.
The study, which is published in a recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Sunao Shimizu et al., could provide a way to improve the recycling of waste heat into useful energy.
Previous research has predicted that 2D materials should have better thermoelectric properties than 3D materials because the electrons in 2D materials are more tightly confined in a much smaller space. This confinement effect changes the way that the electrons can arrange themselves. In 3D materials, this arrangement (called the density of states distribution) is continuous, but in 2D materials, this distribution becomes quantized—only certain values are allowed. At certain densities, the quantization means that less energy is required to move electrons around, which in turn increases the efficiency with which the material can convert heat into electrical energy. (2)
Defining Energy Efficiency
To begin, let us ask what is energy efficiency, what are it’s components and how is it measured. To make comparisons we need to gather data using measures relevant to the industry in question, also to the input forms of energy, waste streams and the useful work performed. In the case of a building we may use meters to measure consumption or utility bills and compare changes in consumption rates over time.
To an engineer, energy efficiency is the ratio of useful work over total energy input. For example, a room air conditioner’s efficiency is measured by the energy efficiency ratio (EER). The EER is the ratio of the cooling capacity (in British thermal units [Btu] per hour) to the power input (in watts).
On a grander scale we may be looking improvements over an industry or sector, changing fuel types in a utility such as the conversion of a coal plant to the production of power fueled by natural gas to reduce the carbon load on the environment. Efficiency may be measured by different metrics depending on the result sought and may include the environmental impact of waste streams.
Figure 1: Historical Energy Use Graph (1)
Whatever the exact yearly investment figure, the historical economic impact of efficiency is quite clear. As the graph () shows, efficiency has provided three times more of the economic services than new production since 1970:
The blue line illustrates demand for energy services (the economic activity associated with energy use) since 1970; the solid red line shows energy use; and the green line illustrates the gain in energy efficiency. While demand for energy services has tripled in the last four decades, actual energy consumption has only grown by 40 percent. Meanwhile, the energy intensity of our economy has fallen by half.
The area between the solid red line and the blue line represents the amount of energy we did not need to consume since 1970; the area between the dashed red line and the solid red line indicates how much energy we consumed since 1970.
The chart shows that energy efficiency met nearly three quarters of the demand for services, while energy supply met only one quarter.
“One immediate conclusion from this assessment is that the productivity of our economy may be more directly tied to greater levels of energy efficiency rather than a continued mining and drilling for new energy resources,” wrote Laitner. (1)
As noted in an article by the EIA; The central question in the measurement of energy efficiency may really be “efficient with respect to what?” (2) In general terms when discussing energy efficiency improvements we mean to perform more of a function with the same or less energy or material input.
Energy Efficiency Measures
Energy efficiency measures are those improvement opportunities which exist in a system which when taken will achieve the goals of achieving greater performance. For example refer to Table 1 of Energy Efficiency Measures which can be effectively reduce energy consumption and provide an ROI of 5 or less years when applied to the commercial refrigeration industry.
Table 1: Commercial Refrigeration Energy Efficiency Measures (3)
Government Action on Energy Efficiency
Energy efficiency has been put forward as one of the most effective methods in efforts to address the issue of Climate Change. Recently, on February 19, 2015, President Obama signed Executive Order (EO) 13693.
“Since the Federal Government is the single largest consumer of energy in the Nation, Federal emissions reductions will have broad impacts. The goals of EO 13693 build on the strong progress made by Federal agencies during the first six years of the Administration under President Obama’s 2009 Executive Order on Federal Leadership on Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance, including reducing Federal GHG emissions by 17 percent — which helped Federal agencies avoid $1.8 billion in cumulative energy costs — and increasing the share of renewable energy consumption to 9 percent.
With a footprint that includes 360,000 buildings, 650,000 fleet vehicles, and $445 billion spent annually on goods and services, the Federal Government’s actions to reduce pollution, support renewable energy, and operate more efficiently can make a significant impact on national emissions. This EO builds on the Federal Government’s significant progress in reducing emissions to drive further sustainability actions through the next decade. In addition to cutting emissions and increasing the use of renewable energy, the Executive Order outlines a number of additional measures to make the Federal Government’s operations more sustainable, efficient and energy-secure while saving taxpayer dollars. Specifically, the Executive Order directs Federal agencies to:
– Ensure 25 percent of their total energy (electric and thermal) consumption is from clean energy sources by 2025.
– Reduce energy use in Federal buildings by 2.5 percent per year between 2015 and 2025.
– Reduce per-mile GHG emissions from Federal fleets by 30 percent from 2014 levels by 2025, and increase the percentage of zero emission and plug in hybrid vehicles in Federal fleets.
– Reduce water intensity in Federal buildings by 2 percent per year through 2025. ” (4)
Energy efficiency has gained recognition as a leading method to reduce the emissions of GHG’s seen to be the cause of climate change. Under scrutiny, we find that there are different measures of efficiency across different industry, fuel types and levels. For example on a micro-level, the functioning of a system may be improved by including higher efficiency components in it’s design, such as motors and pumps.
However, there are other changes which can improve efficiency. Adding automated computer controls can improve a system level efficiency. Utilities may change from coal burning to natural gas fired power plants, or industry may convert to a process to include for co-generation. Battery storage and other technological improvements may come along to fill in the gap.
Historically Energy Efficiency measures have proven to be gaining ground by employing people with the savings earned when applying measures to reduce consumption. These savings reverberate through the economy in a meaningful way, by reducing the need for the construction of more power plants as one example as we on an individual level. We consume less energy, and using higher efficiency electronic equipment, and other energy savings measures at a consumer level, our communities are capable of more growth with existing energy supplies.
jEnergy production and consumption, as well as population growths also arise to other issues related to energy consumption, such as water consumption, water waste, and solid material waste. Building with sustainable materials which promote healthy living environments is gaining importance as we understand the health impacts of a building’s environment on the health and well-being of the occupants. Energy efficiency in the modern era, as we see from recent government mandates and sustainability programs, such as LEED’s for one, also includes for reductions in water intensity and incorporation of renewable energy programs as an alternative to increasing demand on existing utilities.
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Food packaging today is as wasteful as it was 30 years ago and in some cases, it’s worse, a new report by a non-profit group indicates.
>” Many people take time to separate recyclables and compostables from the garbage. But according to a new report, the food industry isn’t doing enough to help.
The food we eat is often packaged in unrecyclable or difficult-to-recycle materials, says the report from a non-profit group called As You Sow. The group, which promotes environmental and social corporate responsibility, said only about half of consumer packaging in the U.S. ends up being recycled, and the rest ends up as litter or in a landfill. […]
As You Sow surveyed 47 fast-food chains, beverage companies, and consumer goods and grocery companies in the U.S. — most of which sell their products in Canada — including McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Domino’s pizza and Heineken. It found food packaging today isn’t much better than it was 30 years ago. In some cases, it’s worse.
Shift from glass to plastic
Report author Conrad MacKerron said there has been a shift away from polystyrene since the ’80s, but there has also been a move away from glass, and towards plastic.
“We think it’s of particular concern because of the contribution to plastic pollution in the oceans,” he said. “Plastic litter from takeout orders … plastic cups, straws, plates and so forth contribute to plastic litter, but it is all swept off into waterways and oceans, where they degrade and harm marine life.”
Plastic is the fastest-growing form of packaging, but only 14 per cent is recycled, the report indicates.
MacKerron said a lot of plastics are recyclable. But some, like black Category 7 plastics, require specialized equipment. And even some of the stuff that should be easily recycled just never is.
“So our major finding is that leading beverage, fast-food and packaged good companies are coming significantly short of where they should be when it comes to addressing the environmental aspects of packaging,” MacKerron said. […]
The biggest offender might just be your morning cup of coffee. It used to produce zero waste, apart from some ground beans and maybe a compostable paper filter.
These days, millions of households are equipped with single-cup brewing machines. The largest company behind those machines, Keurig, produced 9.8 billion little plastic single-serve coffee pods last year, known as K-Cups.
Mike Hachey, the CEO of Egg Studios, is running a campaign that he’s dubbed ‘kill the K-Cup’, in an effort to curb the rise of the single-serve coffee machine.
“We started out with Keurig machines in our offices… and very quickly realized that this packaging is a problem,” he explained.
So while we may be free of the once ubiquitous Styrofoam container, we’ve grown accustomed to a lot of food packaging that isn’t a whole lot better.”<
North Dakota’s Senate is considering legislation that would drastically cut the time oil companies can burn off and waste natural gas from an oil well.
>”[…] Democratic Sen. Connie Triplett is sponsoring the bill that would require companies to begin paying royalties and taxes on natural gas within 14 days after an oil well begins production. Companies are given a year at present.
Triplett and others told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Friday that mineral owners and the state are being shortchanged because revenue on the wasted gas is not immediately being collected.
North Dakota Petroleum Council President Ron Ness says the industry has invested $13 billion to capture the gas. But he says there is still a challenge obtaining permission to place gas pipelines in some areas.”<
THE CHEAPEST AND cleanest energy choice of all is not to waste it. Progress on this has been striking yet the potential is still vast. Improvements in energy…
>”[…] The “fifth fuel”, as energy efficiency is sometimes called, is the cheapest of all. A report by ACEEE, an American energy-efficiency group, reckons that the average cost of saving a kilowatt hour is 2.8 cents; the typical retail cost of one in America is 10 cents. In the electricity-using sector, saving a kilowatt hour can cost as little as one-sixth of a cent, says Mr Lovins of Rocky Mountain Institute, so payback can be measured in months, not years.
The largest single chunk of final energy consumption, 31%, is in buildings, chiefly heating and cooling. Much of that is wasted, not least because in the past architects have paid little attention to details such as the design of pipework (long, narrow pipes with lots of right angles are far more wasteful than short, fat and straight ones). Energy efficiency has been nobody’s priority: it takes time and money that architects, builders, landlords and tenants would rather spend on other things.
In countries with no tradition of thrifty energy use, the skills needed are in short supply, too. Even the wealthy, knowledgeable and determined Mr Liebreich had trouble getting the builders who worked on his energy-saving house to take his instructions seriously. Painstakingly taping the joins in insulating boards, and the gaps around them, seems unnecessary unless you understand the physics behind it: it is plugging the last few leaks that brings the biggest benefits. Builders are trained to worry about adequate ventilation, but not many know about the marvels of heat exchangers set in chimney stacks. […]
One answer to this market failure is to bring in mandatory standards for landlords and those selling properties. Another involves energy-service companies, known as ESCOs, which guarantee lower bills in exchange for modernisation. The company can develop economies of scale and tap financial markets for the upfront costs. The savings are shared with owners and occupiers. ESCOs are already a $6.5 billion-a-year industry in America and a $12 billion one in China. Both are dwarfed by Europe, with €41 billion ($56 billion) last year. Navigant Research, the consultancy, expects this to double by 2023.
That highlights one of the biggest reasons for optimism about the future of energy. Capital markets, frozen into caution after the financial crash of 2008, are now doing again what they are supposed to do: financing investments on the basis of future revenues. The growth of a bond market to pay for energy-efficiency projects was an encouraging sign in 2014, when $30 billion-40 billion were issued; this year’s total is likely to be $100 billion.
“The price of fossil fuels will always fluctuate. Solar is bound to get cheaper”
Solar energy is now a predictable income stream drawing in serious money. A rooftop lease can finance an investment of $15,000-20,000 with monthly payments that are lower than the customer’s current utility bill. SolarCity, an American company, has financed $5 billion in new solar capacity, raising money initially from institutional investors, including Goldman Sachs and Google, but now from individual private investors—who also become what the company calls “brand ambassadors”, encouraging friends and colleagues to install solar panels too.
The model is simple: SolarCity pays for the installation, then bundles the revenues and sells a bond based on the expected future income stream. Maturities range from one to seven years. The upshot is that the cost of capital for the solar industry is 200-300 basis points lower than that for utilities. […]”<
Verisae and Ecova partner to combine technology and service across nearly 3,000 facilities for an innovative and smart operational approach …
image source: http://energymanagementsystems.org/faqs-on-developing-energy-management-systems/
>” Verisae, a leading global provider of SaaS solutions that drive cost reductions in maintenance, energy, mobile workforces, and environmental management, and Ecova, a total energy and sustainability management company, are pleased to announce the success of their growing partnership to help multisite companies solve their toughest energy, operations, and maintenance challenges.
The continuous monitoring solution combines Verisae’s Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) technology platform with Ecova’s Operations Control Center (OCC) to empower data-driven decision making. The solution analyses operational data in real-time, and has the capability to look for issues and anomalies to predict equipment failure and automatically identify inefficiencies causing higher energy consumption.
Ecova’s fully-staffed 24/7/365 OCC investigates inbound service calls, alarms, telemetry data, and work orders to determine the source of energy, equipment, and system faults and, where possible, corrects issues remotely before they escalate into financial, operational, or comfort problems. Trouble tickets and inbound calls are captured and tracked in the Verisae platform to provide companies with visibility into any operational issues. Combining data analytics that flag potentially troubling conditions with a service that investigates and resolves issues increases operational efficiencies and improves energy savings.
“Companies are constantly challenged to cut costs while maintaining quality, performance, and comfort,” says Jerry Dolinsky, CEO of Verisae. “Our combined solution helps clients address these challenges so they can reduce costs and improve operational efficiencies without impacting value.”
Covanta’s Delaware Valley energy-from-waste facility in Chester, Pennsylvania, has saved 1.3 million gallons a day from local water supplies by installing Ge…
>” […] The Chester facility generates up to 90 megawatts of clean energy from 3,510 tons per day of municipal solid waste. Previously, the plant used 1.3 MGD — or nearly 5 million liters a day — of municipal drinking water in its waste conversion process, costing the company thousands of dollars in daily water purchases.
To reduce facility operating expenses and the consumption of local water resources, Covanta Delaware Valley upgraded the facility by installing GE’s RePAK combination ultrafiltration (UF) and reverse osmosis (RO) system as a tertiary treatment package. The new system enabled the plant to reuse 1.3 MGD of treated discharge water from a nearby municipal wastewater treatment plant for the facility’s cooling tower.
GE installed two RePAK-450 trains, each producing 450 gallons per minute of purified water. As a result, Covanta Delaware Valley has eliminated the need to purchase 1.3 MGD of local drinking water a day, which results in a substantial financial savings in addition to the environmental benefits.
GE’s RePAK equipment was delivered in 2014, with commissioning taking place the same year, making Covanta Delaware Valley the first North American company to deploy GE’s RePAK technology.
Covanta chose a combined water treatment technology approach because the typical organic and dissolved mineral content of the wastewater requires additional treatment to be suitable for use as cooling tower makeup. RO was selected as the technology of choice, and UF was required as the pretreatment solution.
GE’s RePAK combined treatment system reduces the equipment footprint up to 35 percent as compared to separate UF and RO systems. By combining the UF and RO into a common frame with common controls and GE’s single (patent-pending) multi-functional process tank, GE also is able to reduce the capital costs and field installation expenses when compared to the use of separate UF system and RO systems with multiple process and cleaning tanks, the company says.”<