Energy Efficiency, the Invisible fuel

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…

Source: www.economist.com

>”[…] 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. […]”<

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Continuous Monitoring Solution Designed for Facility and Energy Management

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/

Source: www.virtual-strategy.com

>” 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.”

[…] “<

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WTE Power Plant Saves 1.3 Million GPD of Water Daily with Tertiary Water Treatment & Recycling

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…

Source: www.environmentalleader.com

>” […] 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.”<

 

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Energy Efficiency Development and Adoption in the United States for 2015

The US wastes about 61% of the energy we produce — much of it due to how we generate, transmit, and distribute it.

Source: theenergycollective.com
I
mage Source:  http://www.seas.columbia.edu/earth/RRC/waste_material_utilization.html

>” […] Energy efficiency, simply put, is using less energy to get the same output or value. Ways of being more energy efficient include using appliances that use less energy or reducing air leakage from our homes and buildings. Programs to increase energy efficiency date back to the energy crises of the 1970s, and continue to be hugely successful today.

Take Michigan for example, where recent data from the Public Service Commission show that the $253 million Michigan utilities spent on energy efficiency programs in 2013 will yield a $948 million return in savings in the coming years. That’s an excellent investment, no matter who you talk to. And Michigan is by no means an anomaly.

We’ve seen states throughout the country see the same kinds of positive returns for their investments in energy efficiency, which continues to prove itself the cheapest “fuel” — investments in energy efficiency per unit of energy output are less costly than both traditional fossil fuels and clean renewable fuels.

Energy efficiency programs are administered by utilities, state agencies, or other third parties, and typically funded by modest charges on ratepayers’ energy bills. While some worry that this causes energy bills to go up, they also cause energy costs to go down, as widespread efficiency upgrades decrease the demand for energy across the state or the utility’s service area, reducing consumer costs. And the customers who participate directly in the programs reap the biggest savings.

It’s a wonder not all states are investing in these kinds of innovative, proven programs. But much of the resistance can be attributed to low energy prices and a lack of political will to charge customers a bit more, even if it does mean big returns. With energy prices steadily rising, such programs will become increasingly attractive to utility regulators and customers. Even historically lagging states like Arkansas and Kentucky are starting to jump on the energy efficiency bandwagon.

No matter where we live or what our personal circumstances are, there’s always room to make changes to improve our energy consumption, whether we make a big investment like installing better insulation, or small simple changes like turning down the thermostat a few degrees in the winter.

As we think about what changes we’re planning to make in 2015, we can look internally at how to reduce energy waste in our own homes and workplaces, as well as help our neighborhoods, communities, and local and state governments make informed decisions to invest in energy efficiency. Even as our energy starts coming from cleaner sources across the country, we can do our part to reduce waste in the energy we already generate — and efficiency is the quickest and cheapest place to look.”<

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Thermoelectric Solid-State Cooling Technology Wins $44.5M Funding

The near-term applications for Phononic’s science are high-end refrigeration for labs and medical facilities, as well as cooling for fiber optics and data servers that are “necessary to continue Moore’s law,” according to the company.

Source: www.greentechmedia.com

>” […] The 75-employee Phononic develops thermoelectrics — materials that can convert a temperature gradient to a voltage or vice versa. The technology is a brilliant pursuit, but no one has brought it to mass markets economically or at scale just yet. Traditional thermoelectrics use materials such as bismuth telluride or silicon germanium, and more recently, silicon nanowires.

[…] Phononic is looking to develop thermal management technology for consumer devices, and, more strikingly, to replace cheap, ubiquitous and century-old incumbent compressor technology.

CEO Anthony Atti told us this morning that the investment thesis around Phononic is that “semiconductors have revolutionized IT and LEDs, but have not had that same impact on cooling and heating.” He notes that Phononic’s thermoelectric technology is in the realm of Peltier cooling technology, but addresses three major shortcomings of that technology: efficiency, ability to scale, and ease of integration. […]

Atti claims that the compound semiconductor material used in his firm’s thermoelectrics can be manufactured using high-volume, standard semiconductor tools and equipment.

Bruce Sohn, the former president of First Solar, is on the board at Phononic. When we spoke with him this morning, he told us that he had been working with the firm for four years and believes the startup is doing something “revolutionary that can do to compressors what the [integrated circuit] did to the vacuum tube.”

Other companies developing thermoelectric technologies for cooling or capturing waste heat include the following:

  • Alphabet Energy is commercializing thermoelectric waste-heat harvesting technology developed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and has raised more than $30 million from Encana, a developer of natural gas and other energy sources,
  • TPG Biotech, Claremont Creek Ventures, and the CalCEF Clean Energy Angel Fund.GMZ Energy, spun out of MIT with funding from KPCB, BP Alternative Energy, and Mitsui Ventures, is working on a bismuth-telluride thermovoltaic device that converts solar heat directly into power via the Seebeck effect. In the Seebeck effect, a sharp temperature gradient can result in an electric charge.
  • MTPV describes its product as a thermophotovoltaic. MTPV uses a silicon-based MEMS emitter which takes heat and transfers radiation to a germanium-based photovoltaic device, according to an article inSemiconductor Manufacturing and Design. The company just raised $11.2 million led by Northwater Capital Management’s Intellectual Property Fund, along with Total Energy Ventures, SABIC, the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation, and follow-on investments from Spinnaker Capital, Ensys Capital, the Clean Energy Venture Group and other existing shareholders.
  • Silicium, funded by Khosla Ventures, is investigating high ZT thermoelectrics. The firm’s website claims, “Silicium is developing silicon thermoelectrics that enable substantially increased battery longevity for wearable electronics. By using body heat, Silicium technology can help power an entire spectrum of wearable devices…using off-the-shelf silicon wafers.
  • “Recycled Energy Development (RED) and Ormat have retrofitted factories to capture waste heat, not using thermoelectrics, but by adding CHP or cogeneration. […]”<

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University Researchers Find Abandoned Wells Leak Substantial Quantities of GHG’s (Methane)

After testing a sample of abandoned oil and natural gas wells in northwestern Pennsylvania, the researchers found that many of the old wells leaked substantial quantities of methane.

Source: www.princeton.edu

>” […] To conduct the research, the team placed enclosures called flux chambers over the tops of the wells. They also placed flux chambers nearby to measure the background emissions from the terrain and make sure the methane was emitted from the wells and not the surrounding area.

Although all the wells registered some level of methane, about 15 percent emitted the gas at a markedly higher level — thousands of times greater than the lower-level wells. Denise Mauzerall, a Princeton professor and a member of the research team, said a critical task is to discover the characteristics of these super-emitting wells.

Mauzerall said the relatively low number of high-emitting wells could offer a workable solution: while trying to plug every abandoned well in the country might be too costly to be realistic, dealing with the smaller number of high emitters could be possible.

“The fact that most of the methane is coming out of a small number of wells should make it easier to address if we can identify the high-emitting wells,” said Mauzerall, who has a joint appointment as a professor of civil and environmental engineering and as a professor of public and international affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School.

The researchers have used their results to extrapolate total methane emissions from abandoned wells in Pennsylvania, although they stress that the results are preliminary because of the relatively small sample. But based on that data, they estimate that emissions from abandoned wells represents as much as 10 percent of methane from human activities in Pennsylvania — about the same amount as caused by current oil and gas production. Also, unlike working wells, which have productive lifetimes of 10 to 15 years, abandoned wells can continue to leak methane for decades.

“This may be a significant source,” Mauzerall said. “There is no single silver bullet but if it turns out that we can cap or capture the methane coming off these really big emitters, that would make a substantial difference.” […]”<

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Commercial ORC Used for Waste Heat Recovery on Industrial Electric Arc Furnace

Turboden, a group company of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, has implemented the first ORC-based heat recovery plant on an Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) in the world

Source: www.pennenergy.com

>” […] The heat recovery system was started up on December 2013. It is connected to the off-gas treatment system of the melting electric furnace. The recovered energy reduces net power consumption, allowing significant CO2 reduction.

In addition to electricity production, the remaining portion of the steam is fed into the Riesa Municipal steam supply system and used in a nearby tire factory production process.

Turboden designs, develops and implements generation plants, allowing reduction of industrial energy consumption and emissions containment through heat recovery from unexploited residual heat streams and exhaust gases in production processes and power plants.

This technology is best applied in energy-intensive industries such as glass, cement, aluminum, iron & steel, where production processes typically generate exhaust gases above 250°C.

These new plants not only provide advantages in terms of environmental sustainability, emissions reduction, increased industrial process efficiency and improved business performance, but they also represent opportunities for increased competitiveness.”<

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Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) Heat Recovery Technology For Ships

The company has developed a marine Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) system for waste heat recovery and power generation that could reduce fuel consumption by up to 10%.

Source: www.motorship.com

“> […] Enertime’s ORC system produces between 500kW and 1MW of electrical power depending on the available amount of heat. The unit is based on a tailor-made axial turbine and is specifically designed to work in the marine environment. The development work has involved shipyards, shipowners and a classification society, says Mr David.

“Compared to a steam power cycle, ORC systems need very low maintenance, display good part-load efficiency, high availability and can be operated without permanent monitoring,” he said. “Daily operation and maintenance can be carried out without specific qualification.”

The ORC system can work with any kind of heat source. The unit can recover heat from a number of different sources singly or in combination including low-temperature jacket cooling from engines, steam or thermal oil systems and pressurised hot water. Exhaust gas from engines or auxiliaries is the main available heat on board ships, and it can be collected through an exhaust gas heat exchanger and brought to the ORC unit using steam, pressurised water or thermal oil. […]

The ORC layout is flexible and the unit can also be installed as a retrofit where it is possible to adapt the layout of the machinery to specific constraints by splitting it on different levels, for example.

“This kind of system would be very interesting for bulk carriers, small to medium size oil tankers, ferry boats, small container ships… with payback time between two to five years,” […]”<

 

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CAN NYC REDUCE ITS CARBON FOOTPRINT 90% BY 2050?

“The building sector is the source of 75 percent of New York City’s greenhouse gas emissions. 90 by 50’s modeling of eight typical building types shows that heating and cooling loads can be reduced through retrofit measures to a point where all thermal loads can be met by heat pumps, eliminating building fuel use. The resulting electric energy used in 2050, supplied by carbon-free sources, will be slightly more than today’s, while peak demand will increase significantly. “

RO Engineers & Architects

In an article by urban green council,

“The building sector is the source of 75 percent of New York City’s greenhouse gas emissions. 90 by 50’s modeling of eight typical building types shows that heating and cooling loads can be reduced through retrofit measures to a point where all thermal loads can be met by heat pumps, eliminating building fuel use. The resulting electric energy used in 2050, supplied by carbon-free sources, will be slightly more than today’s, while peak demand will increase significantly. “

How will we meet this goal when there are a number of behavioral, institutional and infrustructural issues?

Let’s name a few…..

  1. The NYC subway still has outdated lighting with T12 with magnetic ballasts
  2. A large # of residential buildings the tenants leave their window a/c units installed year round which results in heat loss
  3. Alternate side parking- numerous places throughout the city people sit and idle their…

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Energy Efficiency Gains, Backfire & The Rebound Effect – A Problem?

“Every few years, a new paper comes out about the rebound effect and the issue receives some short-term attention. (When a consumer or business buys an efficient car or air conditioner, they may use their energy-efficient equipment a little more often or may spend some of their energy bill savings on things that use energy—these are examples of rebound effects.)  […]”

Source: aceee.org

>” […] we found that rebound may average about 20%, meaning that 80% of the savings from energy efficiency programs and policies register in terms of reduced energy use, while the 20% rebound contributes to increased consumer amenities (for example, more comfortable homes) as well as to a larger economy.  […]

E2e, a joint initiative of three universities, released a working paper entitled “The Rebound Effect and Energy Efficiency Policy.” In it, they discuss various types of rebound and ways to analyze it. Much of their data relates to gasoline and oil prices and consumer and market responses to changes in those prices. They find that for developed countries, “most… studies fall […] in the range of 5 to 25 percent” direct rebound effect (where direct captures consumer response but not whole-economy effects). In developing countries, where incomes are lower and impose constraints on miles driven and other energy-consuming behavior, the E2e paper finds the “most common range” is 10-40% demand elasticity (related to but not exactly the same as direct rebound). They also discuss macroeconomic effects, emphasizing studies that show rebound of 11 percent and 21 percent due to economic growth. By way of comparison, the ACEEE paper estimates 10 percent direct rebound on average for the United States, noting the first of the two economic growth studies. In addition, in the case of oil prices, the E2e paper discusses how improvements in fuel economy soften oil prices, which can lead to a 20-30% increase in global oil use due to these price effects. Bottom line: The E2e paper sees modestly higher rebound effects than the earlier ACEEE paper.  […]

Regarding electricity use, Breakthrough discusses how electricity use has risen more quickly than generating plant efficiency has increased. The authors call this backfire, even as they acknowledge that these trends are also affected by rising incomes, urbanization, changes in consumer preferences, and other socioeconomic and demographic trends. They provide no evidence on the relative importance of energy efficiency relative to these other factors. Furthermore, they seem to mix up energy efficiency and economic efficiency.[…]

Breakthrough released their new report with an op-ed in the New York Times. The op-ed goes several steps further than the report. First, applying its claims of lighting backfire from the 1800s, it claims that LED lighting, for which the most recent Nobel Prize in physics was awarded, will increase lighting energy use, particularly in developing countries. As I wrote in a letter to the editor of the Times, LEDs are about six times more efficient than incandescent lamps, so in order to reach the backfire point, the average purchaser would need to increase the amount of lighting they use by a factor of six. While such an increase may well happen among the poorest households in developing countries, it is unlikely to be seen in developed countries, or even among the middle class in developing countries.

The Breakthrough op-ed also claims that the International Energy Agency and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change find that “rebound could be over 50 percent globally.” While technically correct, their claim takes the upper end of the ranges found in recent IEA and IPCC studies. For example, IEA states, “Direct rebound can range from 0% to as much as 65%. However, estimates tend to converge between 10% and 30%.” It would be much more accurate if the institute would cite the full range, instead of looking only at the extreme. Applying that logic, I could argue that IEA supports ACEEE’s 10% direct rebound estimate–at least 10% is within IEA’s most likely range of 10-30%. IPCC estimates get similar treatment from Breakthrough.

Bottom line: The E2e analysis is very reasonable, but Breakthrough appears to be more interested in exaggerating to make its case, rather than sticking to the facts. The truth is that for 40 years energy efficiency has had a dramatic effect on worldwide energy consumption. In the United States, if we were to use energy today at the rate we were in 1974, we would be consuming more than twice the amount that we are actually using. […]”<

 

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