News in Brief

Peabody Energy Invests in “Bluegas” Technology

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Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU), the world’s largest private sector coal company, became a minority investor in Cambridge-based GreatPoint Energy Inc. in January. GreatPoint Energy is commercializing its proprietary “bluegas” technology that converts coal, petroleum coke and biomass into ultra-clean pipeline-quality natural gas while enabling carbon capture and storage. As part of the agreement, Peabody and GreatPoint Energy will evaluate the potential for development of joint coal gasification projects using Peabody reserves and land.

GreatPoint Energy uses a single-stage catalytic gasification process to create natural gas that is 99.5 percent pure methane and can be transported throughout North America utilizing the existing natural gas pipeline infrastructure. The company has completed a highly successful testing in a pilot facility in Des Plaines, Ill., and is commencing engineering for the first commercial project.

First U.S. Auction of GHG Emissions Allowances Set for September

States participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, an agreement between the governors of 10 Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states to reduce greenhouse gases from power plants, scheduled the first CO2 allowance auction in the nation for a mandatory emissions reduction program for Sept. 10, 2008.

Members of RGGI have agreed to participate in quarterly uniform regional auctions for the allowances that each state will be offering for sale. The second quarterly auction is scheduled for Dec. 17, 2008. The first compliance period for the RGGI cap-and-trade program will begin Jan. 1, 2009.

NRG Partners with Toshiba to Develop Advanced Boiling Water Reactor

NRG Energy Inc. (NYSE: NRG) in partnership with Toshiba Corp. has formed Nuclear Innovation North America LLC to focus on marketing, siting, developing, financing and investing in new advanced design nuclear projects in select markets across North America. Toshiba Corp. will serve as the prime contractor on all of the company’s projects.

Toshiba has pledged to invest $300 million in the company over the next six years and will receive a 12 percent equity ownership of the company. Half of this investment will support development of two new nuclear units at the South Texas Project site and half will be focused on new projects to accelerate development and deployment of additional Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) projects in North America with other potential partners.

SCE Launches Nation’s Largest Solar Panel Installation

Southern California Edison (SCE) launched the nation’s largest solar cell installation in March, a project that will place 250 MW of advanced photovoltaic generating technology on 65 million square feet of roofs of Southern California commercial buildings—enough power to serve approximately 162,000 homes.

SCE’s renewable energy project was prompted by recent advances in solar technology that reduce the cost of installed photovoltaic generation. When combined with the size of SCE’s investment, the resulting costs per unit are projected to be half that of common photovoltaic installations in California. SCE estimates the total project cost will be $875 million, in today’s dollars.

SCE sees numerous customer benefits from its new solar program, among them locating new generation in areas of growing customer demand. The clusters of solar modules will be connected directly to the nearest neighborhood circuit, eliminating the need to build new transmission lines to bring the power to customers. Additionally, solar units produce the most power when customer usage is at its highest.

SMUD Opens Solar-powered Hydrogen Vehicle Fueling Station

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) opened a solar-powered hydrogen fueling station for fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEV) in April, part of a joint SMUD, BP, Ford and U.S. Department of Energy project to demonstrate FCEVs and generation of hydrogen from renewable sources.

The station produces hydrogen onsite using power produced by a large solar panel array. The hydrogen will be used to fuel SMUD FCEVs and other hydrogen-powered vehicles in the region. The project is the next step in a nearly two-decade-long effort by SMUD to improve local air quality by advancing alternative-fuel clean transportation, as well as cleaner power sources.

The solar array that powers the production of hydrogen at the station produces 80 kilowatts of electricity, enough power for 40 single-family homes or enough hydrogen for 14 fuel-cell vehicles. As the solar panels make electricity, an electrolyzer at the station will use that energy to separate water into hydrogen to make clean fuel for the vehicles.

The new SMUD solar-powered shaded hydrogen vehicle fueling station. An electrolyzer at the station will separate water into hydrogen to make clean fuel for vehicles. Photo courtesy SMUD. Click here to enlarge image

The project brings together two clean technologies where SMUD has been a leader and a pioneer: solar power and electric transportation. In the 1980s, SMUD built the first large utility-scale solar array and has since provided solar power options for individual customers. For nearly 20 years, SMUD has been testing numerous clean, alternative-fuel vehicles, mostly electrics, in an effort to help manufacturers bring those vehicles to the market.

UniStar and Accenture to Develop Nuclear Fleet Enterprise Architecture

UniStar Nuclear Energy (UNE) is partnering with Accenture (NYSE: ACN) to develop an advanced information technology (IT) platform capable of supporting the lifelong data needs of a potential new fleet of nuclear power plants.

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UNE is a strategic joint venture between Constellation Energy (NYSE: CEG) and EDF Group, Europe’s largest electric energy producer. UNE has proposed building at least four 1,600 MW U.S. Evolutionary Power Reactors (U.S. EPR), an advanced design known for its robust safety features. Accenture, a leading consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, will jointly design, build and operate the new IT platform, named “Galaxy,” with UNE.

UNE is working to be in a position to make a decision in late 2008 regarding its first potential U.S. EPR, which is proposed for Constellation Energy’s Calvert Cliffs site in southern Maryland. UNE is also considering potential projects in New York, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Idaho and Texas. Two EPRs are under construction in Europe and the reactor design was sanctioned by two different nuclear regulatory commissions. China is also planning to build two EPRs.

RWE Innogy Plans First Wave Power Station Off Scotland Coast

RWE Innogy has submitted a planning application to the relevant authorities for one of the world’s first wave power stations off the Scottish coast. The pilot plant with an output of 4 MW will be installed in Siadar Bay on the Isle of Lewis. If everything goes to plan, construction work could begin in 2009.

The project is being coordinated by the British RWE Innogy subsidiary npower renewables, which is promoting the development of the wave power station together with the Scottish technology company Wavegen.

Unlike a tidal power station, this does not exploit the difference in height between ebb tide and flood tide but rather the constant kinetic energy of waves. The plan is to build a breakwater system according to the OWC (oscillating water column) principle on the open sea. The breaking waves force water into an opening below water level, which is then sucked out again when the waves retreat. This constant rise and fall sets a column of water trapped in several chambers in motion. The air mass above water is thus alternately compressed and sucked in, powering a turbine that generates electricity. The pilot plant’s output will be enough to supply around 1,500 homes with electricity.

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at

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