Future Energy eNews IntegrityResearchInstitute.org Feb. 25, 2008
Space-based solar power would use kilometre-sized solar panel arrays to gather sunlight in orbit. It would then beam power down to Earth in the form of microwaves or a laser, which would be collected in antennas on the ground and then converted to electricity. Unlike solar panels based on the ground, solar power satellites placed in geostationary orbit above the Earth could operate at night and during cloudy conditions.
"We think we can be a catalyst to make this technology advance," said US Marine Corps lieutenant colonel Paul Damphousse of the NSSO at a press conference yesterday in Washington, DC, US.
The NSSO report (pdf) recommends that the US government spend $10 billion over the next 10 years to build a test satellite capable of beaming 10 megawatts of electric power down to Earth.
At the same press conference, over a dozen space advocacy groups announced a new alliance to promote space solar power – the Space Solar Alliance for Future Energy. These supporters of space-based solar power say the technology has the potential to provide more energy than fossil fuels, wind and nuclear power combined.
The NSSO report says that solar-power-generating satellites could also solve supply problems in distant places such as Iraq, where fuel is currently trucked along in dangerous convoys and the cost of electricity for some bases can exceed $1 per kilowatt-hour – about 10 times what it costs in the US. The report also touts the technology's potential to provide a clean, abundant energy source and reduce global competition for oil.
Space-based solar power was first proposed in 1968 by Peter Glaser, an engineer at the consulting firm Arthur D. Little. Early designs involved solar panel arrays of 50 square kilometres, required hundreds of astronauts in space to build and were estimated to cost as much as $1 trillion, says John Mankins, a former NASA research manager and active promoter of space solar power.
After conducting preliminary research, the US abandoned the idea as economically unfeasible in the 1970s. Since that time, says Mankins, advances in photovoltaics, electronics and robotics will bring the size and cost down to a fraction of the original schemes, and eliminate the need for humans to assemble the equipment in space.
Several technical challenges remain to be overcome, including the development of lower-cost space launches. A satellite capable of supplying the same amount of electric power as a modern fossil-fuel plant would have a mass of about 3000 tonnes – more than 10 times that of the International Space Station. Sending that material into orbit would require more than a hundred rocket launches. The US currently launches fewer than 15 rockets each year.
In spite of these challenges, the NSSO and its supporters say that no fundamental scientific breakthroughs are necessary to proceed with the idea and that space-based solar power will be practical in the next few decades.
"There are no technology hurdles that are show stoppers right now," said Damphousse.
NASA and DOE have collectively spent
$80M over the last three decades in sporadic efforts studying this concept (by
comparison, the U.S. Government has spent approximately $21B over the last 50
years continuously pursuing nuclear fusion). The first major effort occurred in
the 1970’s where scientific feasibility of the concept was established and a
reference 5 GW design was proposed. Unfortunately 1970’s architecture and
technology levels could not support an economic case for development relative to
other lower-cost energy alternatives on the market. In 1995-1997 NASA initiated
a “Fresh Look” Study to re-examine the concept relative to modern technological
capabilities. The report (validated by the National Research Council) indicated
that technology vectors to satisfy SBSP development were converging quickly and
provided recommended development focus areas, but for various reasons that again
included the relatively lower cost of other energies, policy makers elected not
to pursue a development effort.
The post-9/11 situation has changed that calculus considerably. Oil prices have jumped from $15/barrel to now $80/barrel in less than a decade. In addition to the emergence of global concerns over climate change, American and allied energy source security is now under threat from actors that seek to destabilize or control global energy markets as well as increased energy demand competition by emerging global economies. Our National Security Strategy recognizes that many nations are too dependent on foreign oil, often imported from unstable portions of the world, and seeks to remedy the problem by accelerating the deployment of clean technologies to enhance energy security, reduce poverty, and reduce pollution in a way that will ignite an era of global growth through free markets and free trade. Senior U.S. leaders need solutions with strategic impact that can be delivered in a relevant period of time.
In March of 2007, the National Security Space Office (NSSO) Advanced Concepts Office (“Dreamworks”) presented this idea to the agency director. Recognizing the potential for this concept to influence not only energy, but also space, economic, environmental, and national security, the Director instructed the Advanced Concepts Office to quickly collect as much information as possible on the feasibility of this concept. Without the time or funds to contract for a traditional architecture study, Dreamworks turned to an innovative solution: the creation on April 21, 2007, of an open source, internet-based, interactive collaboration forum aimed at gathering the world’s SBSP experts into one particular cyberspace. Discussion grew immediately and exponentially, such that there are now 170 active contributors as of the release of this report—this study approach was an unequivocal success and should serve as a model for DoD when considering other study topics. Study leaders organized discussions into five groups: 1) a common plenary session, 2) science & technology, 3) law & policy, 4) infrastructure and logistics, and 5) the business case, and challenged the group to answer one fundamental question: Can the United States and partners enable the development and deployment of a space-based solar power system within the first half of the 21st Century such that if constructed could provide affordable, clean, safe, reliable, sustainable, and expandable energy for its consumers? Discussion results were summarized and presented at a two-day conference in Colorado on 6-7 September graciously hosted by the U.S. Air Force Academy Eisenhower Center for Space and Defense Studies.
Over the course of the study several overarching themes emerged:
The study group determined that four overarching recommendations were most significant:
Several major challenges will need to be overcome to make SBSP a reality, including the creation of low-cost space access and a supporting infrastructure system on Earth and in space. Solving these space access and operations challenges for SBSP will in turn also open space for a host of other activities that include space tourism, manufacturing, lunar or asteroid resource utilization, and eventually settlement to extend the human race. Because DoD would not want to own SBSP satellites, but rather just purchase the delivered energy as it currently does via traditional terrestrial utilities, a repeated review finding is that the commercial sector will need Government to accomplish three major tasks to catalyze SBSP development. The first is to retire a major portion of the early technical risks. This can be accomplished via an incremental research and development program that culminates with a space-borne proof-of-concept demonstration in the next decade. A spiral development proposal to field a 10 MW continuous pilot plant en route to gigawatts-class systems is included in Appendix B. The second challenge is to facilitate the policy, regulatory, legal, and organizational instruments that will be necessary to create the partnerships and relationships (commercial-commercial, government-commercial, and government-government) needed for this concept to succeed. The final Government contribution is to become a direct early adopter and to incentivize other early adopters much as is accomplished on a regular basis with other renewable energy systems coming on-line today.
For the DoD specifically, beamed energy from space in quantities greater than 5 MWe has the potential to be a disruptive game changer on the battlefield. SBSP and its enabling wireless power transmission technology could facilitate extremely flexible “energy on demand” for combat units and installations across an entire theater, while significantly reducing dependence on vulnerable over-land fuel deliveries. SBSP could also enable entirely new force structures and capabilities such as ultra long-endurance airborne or terrestrial surveillance or combat systems to include the individual soldier himself. More routinely, SBSP could provide the ability to deliver rapid and sustainable humanitarian energy to a disaster area or to a local population undergoing nation-building activities. SBSP could also facilitate base “islanding” such that each installation has the ability to operate independent of vulnerable ground-based energy delivery infrastructures. In addition to helping American and allied defense establishments remain relevant over the entire 21st Century through more secure supply lines, perhaps the greatest military benefit of SBSP is to lessen the chances of conflict due to energy scarcity by providing access to a strategically secure energy supply.
Despite this early interim review success, there are still many more questions that must be answered before a full-scale commercial development decision can be made. It is proposed that in the spirit of the original collaborative SBSP Study Group charter, that this interim report becomes a living document to collect, summarize, and recommend on the evolution of SBSP. The positive indicators observed to surround SBSP by this review team suggest that it would be in the US Government’s and the nation’s interest to sponsor an immediate proof-of-concept demonstration project and a formally funded, follow-on architecture study conducted in full collaboration with industry and willing international partners. The purpose of a follow-on study will be to definitively rather than speculatively answer the question of whether all of the barriers to SBSP development can be retired within the next four decades and to create an actionable business case and construction effort roadmap that will lead to the installation of utility-grade SBSP electric power plants. Considering the development timescales that are involved, and the exponential growth of population and resource pressures within that same strategic period, it is imperative that this work for “drilling up” vs. drilling down for energy security begins immediately.
3) Good Vibrations
4) Energy Islands Could Use Power of Tropics, says Innovator
This article appeared in the Guardian on Tuesday January 08 2008 on p14 of the UK news and analysis section. It was last updated at 09:30 on January 08 2008.
From a distance it looks like an island paradise, but get closer and those tall structures that could be palm trees turn out to be wind turbines - and the surf laps against wave barrages instead of sandy beaches. Welcome to "Energy Island", a vision of how humans could help meet our future needs for energy, food and water using the power of nature in the tropics.
Alex Michaelis, the architect who gave David Cameron's west London home a green makeover - complete with miniature wind turbine, solar panels and water recycling system - will launch the concept this year with a bid for funding worth $25m (£12.6m) from Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Earth Prize.
His proposal, which is dramatically more ambitious than the work he did on the Conservative leader's semi-detached house, is to build archipelagos of artificial islands that will produce electricity, clean water and even food in the belt of warm water that passes from the Caribbean across to the south China Sea, the Indian Ocean and west Africa.
Each island would be built on a floating platform and at its centre would be a plant that converts heat from the tropical sea into electricity and drinking water. Below deck would be marine turbines to harness energy from underwater currents and around the edge floating devices to provide wave power.
Vegetable farms and homes for workers will complete the colony and the power will be piped back to be used on the nearest populated land mass.
Michaelis, who is working together with his father Dominic, an engineer, estimates that each island complex could produce 250MW. It would take more than 50,000 installations to satisfy current world demand for energy, but Michaelis senior believes it is not impossible. "If we consider that we are at war to find a new form of clean energy, wartime effort in world war two produced vast numbers of planes, tanks, ships and other armaments on both warring sides," he said. "20,300 Spitfires alone were built, making the construction of more than 50,000 of these plants seem a reasonable number."
Branson is searching for an innovative idea that can cause a dramatic reverse in global warming and has given the world's inventors until February 2010 to submit ideas. The Michaelis team is searching for funding to test the principles of its invention with a prototype, but believe that it could be the breakthrough that the billionaire and his panel of judges, including Al Gore and climate scientist James Lovelock, are looking for. "For centuries we have been trying to master nature, but now our last hope is to work with nature," said Dominic Michaelis.
At the heart of each island is an ocean thermal energy conversion plant which can create electricity from sea water where the difference between the temperature of the surface water and the deep is 20C or more. The warm sea water is pressurised to transform it into vapour which drives a turbine. The vapour is condensed against a surface cooled by water from the deep, to produce desalinated water. The energy from this technology, which was originally invented in 1881 by a French engineer, would be supplemented by wind turbines and a "power tower" which captures energy from the sun by using mirrors to focus solar rays on a central "furnace".
"Each energy island would operate in a similar way to an oil rig, with about 25 people living there to operate the energy systems and food farms," said Alex Michaelis. "Teams of workers would spend six weeks on the island and six weeks off. The islands can be linked together so if you wanted a bigger power output you could simply build a bigger settlement. In the future these energy islands could be linked together to become eco-tourism attractions."
According to the designs, the "energy islanders" could farm sea food in pens beneath the deck and vegetables could be grown in shaded patches on the platform using some of the cold, desalinated water produced by the plant. The islands are also designed to act as ports for supertankers to transport the 300,000 litres of desalinated water which will be produced each day. Sir Terry Farrell, the architect, has proposed that similar artificial islands should be built in the Thames estuary to provide a new port for London.
The Michaelis team intends to pilot the energy island in waters off the British Virgin Islands or in the Indian Ocean in the coming year.
Graphic - see how the energy islands work here (pdf)
5) DOE Drops Clean-Coal Plant To Focus on Carbon Capture
|By Thomas F. Armistead|
|Nearly a week after the Dept.
of Energy pulled out of an international program to develop a coal-fired
powerplant with near-zero emissions, stakeholders continued to sort out
their options. Members of the FutureGen Alliance were meeting Feb. 5-6 in
Mattoon, Ill., the site they chose in December for the plant, to determine
how to proceed while the state’s congressional delegation called on
President Bush to move the program forward.
Citing soaring cost and advances in electricity-generation technology in recent years, DOE on Jan. 30 withdrew its support from the FutureGen Alliance. The nonprofit public-private partnership was launched in 2005 in response to Bush’s February 2003 call for a program to demonstrate the world’s first near-zero-emissions coal-fired powerplant.
In 2003, DOE officials described FutureGen as a $950-million initiative to create a coal-based powerplant focused on demonstrating integrated gasification, combined-cycle (IGCC) technology that would produce hydrogen and electricity while providing for capture and storage of carbon dioxide. Seven coal producers and utilities formed the alliance to develop it in 2005 (ENR 10/3/05 p. 22). Having chosen the Mattoon site for the plant, the alliance chafed while DOE withheld the Record of Decision that would allow construction to proceed. Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman’s January announcement to jettison the project provoked angry reactions from Illinois political leaders and consternation from other stakeholders.
DOE saw FutureGen as a 275-MW research and development testing laboratory for IGCC, hydrogen production and carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies because there were few IGCC projects in development. “Now, more than 33 IGCC projects have begun the permitting process,” says Clay Sell, deputy energy secretary.
DOE first became aware that the cost estimate had risen to $1.8 billion last March when it signed a cooperative agreement with the alliance for the project. Under the agreement, DOE would pay 74% of the project’s cost and the alliance 26%. The consensus was that “costs would only increase,” says Sell.
To replace FutureGen’s three-part focus on coal gasification, hydrogen production and CCS, DOE will concentrate on research, development and demonstration of CCS, leaving the demonstration of gasification technology to power developers.
On Jan. 30, DOE issued a Request for Information seeking industry input by March 3 on the costs and feasibility associated with building “clean coal” facilities that achieve FutureGen’s intended goals. By the end of the year this should lead to a competitive solicitation to provide federal funding to equip clean-coal plants of at least 300 MW with CCS technology, says Sell.
CCS is “a linchpin technology for the future,” and DOE is responding to the industry’s pull in focusing on it, says Revis James, director of Palo Alto, Calif.-based Electric Power Research Institute’s Technology Assessment Center. The industry is saying, “We want to get to a new model” rather than develop a full suite of integrated technologies, he says. “A lot of attention is being put on it.”
Energy Production and Imports
Net imports of energy are expected to continue to meet a major share of total U.S. energy demand (Figure 5). In the AEO2008 reference case, the net import share of total U.S. energy consumption in 2030 is 29 percent, slightly less than the 30-percent share in 2006. Rising fuel prices over the projection period are expected to spur increases in domestic energy production (Figure 6) and to moderate the growth in demand, tempering the projected growth in imports.
The projection for U.S. crude oil production in the AEO2008 reference case is higher than in the AEO2007 reference case, primarily due to more production from the expansion of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) operations and, to a lesser extent, higher crude oil prices. U.S. crude oil production in the AEO2008 reference case increases from 5.1 million barrels per day in 2006 to a peak of 6.4 million barrels per day in 2019, with production increases from the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico and from onshore EOR projects. Domestic production subsequently declines to 5.6 million barrels per day in 2030, as increased production from new smaller discoveries are inadequate to offset the declines in large fields in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico.
Total domestic liquids supply, including crude oil, natural gas plant liquids, refinery processing gains, and other refinery inputs (e.g., ethanol), generally increases throughout the AEO2008 reference case, as growth in CTL production offsets the decline in crude oil production after 2019. Total domestic liquids supply grows from 8.2 million barrels per day in 2006 to 10.2 million barrels per day in 2030.
In the AEO2008 reference case, the net import share of total liquids supplied, including crude oil and refined products, drops from 60 percent in 2006 to 55 percent in 2010, stays relatively stable through 2020, and then increases to 59 percent in 2030. Net crude oil imports in 2030 are 1.3 million barrels per day lower, and net product imports are 0.3 million barrels per day lower, in the AEO2008 reference case than in the AEO2007 reference case. The primary reason for the difference between the AEO2008 and AEO2007 projections for net imports of liquid fuels is the lower level of total liquids consumption in 2030 in the AEO2008 reference case.
Total domestic natural gas production, including supplemental natural gas supplies, increases from 18.6 trillion cubic feet in 2006 to 20.2 trillion cubic feet in 2021 before declining to 19.9 trillion cubic feet in 2030 in the AEO2008 reference case. The projections are lower than in the AEO2007 reference case, primarily because of the higher costs associated with exploration and development and, particularly in the last decade of the projection, lower demand for natural gas.
In the AEO2008 reference case, lower 48 offshore natural gas production shows a pattern similar to that in the AEO2007 reference case, growing from 3.0 trillion cubic feet in 2006 to a peak of 4.5 trillion cubic feet in 2019 as new resources come online in the Gulf of Mexico. After 2019, lower 48 offshore production declines to 3.5 trillion cubic feet in 2030. After a small near-term increase, onshore conventional production of natural gas in the AEO2008 reference case declines steadily, as it did in AEO2007.
Onshore production of unconventional natural gas in AEO2008 is expected to be a major contributor to growth in U.S. supply, increasing from 8.5 trillion cubic feet in 2006 to 9.5 trillion cubic feet in 2030. As in AEO2007, most of the increase in unconventional production is projected to come from gas shale, which more than doubles over the projection, from 1.0 trillion cubic feet in 2006 to 2.3 trillion cubic feet in 2030.
The Alaska natural gas pipeline is expected to be completed in 2020 (2 years later than in the AEO2007 reference case) because of delays in the resolution of issues between Alaska’s State government and industry participants. After the pipeline goes into operation, Alaska’s total natural gas production in the AEO2008 reference case increases to 2.0 trillion cubic feet in 2021 (from 0.4 trillion cubic feet in 2006) and then to 2.4 trillion cubic feet in 2030 as the result of a subsequent expansion. The pipeline connecting the MacKenzie Delta in Canada to the United States is not constructed in the AEO2008 reference case, unlike in AEO2007, because cost estimates recently filed by the industry substantially exceed the estimates included in AEO2007, and as a result the project is not economical with the AEO2008 reference case prices.
Net pipeline imports of natural gas from Canada and Mexico, predominantly from Canada, fall from 2.9 trillion cubic feet in 2006 to 0.5 trillion cubic feet in 2030 in the AEO2008 reference case (compared with 0.9 trillion cubic feet in AEO2007). The difference between the AEO2008 and AEO2007 projections for 2030 is largely a result of increased exports to Mexico. The higher level of exports to Mexico is the result of a lower assumed growth rate for Mexico’s natural gas production in the AEO2008 reference case than in AEO2007. Net imports from Canada also decline, reflecting resource depletion in Alberta and Canada’s growing domestic demand, which are offset in part by increases in unconventional natural gas production from coal seams and tight formations.
Total net imports of liquified natural gas (LNG) to the United States in the AEO2008 reference case increase from 0.5 trillion cubic feet in 2006 to 2.9 trillion cubic feet in 2030, as compared with 4.5 trillion cubic feet in 2030 in AEO2007. The lower projection is attributable to two factors: higher costs throughout the LNG industry, especially in the area of liquefaction, and decreased U.S. natural gas consumption due to higher natural gas prices, slower economic growth, and expected greater competition for supplies within the global LNG market.
U.S. LNG regasification capacity increases from 1.5 trillion cubic feet in 2006 to 5.2 trillion cubic feet in 2009 in the AEO2008 reference case with the addition of five new regasification facilities that are currently under construction (four along the Gulf Coast and one off the coast of New England). Given global LNG supply constraints, overall capacity utilization at the U.S. LNG import facilities is expected to remain under 35 percent through 2013, after which it is expected to increase to 57 percent in 2017 and remain in the range of 55 to 58 percent through 2030.
The future direction of the global LNG market is one of the key uncertainties in the AEO2008 reference case. With many new international players entering LNG markets, competition for the available supply is strong, and the supplies available to the U.S. market may vary considerably from year to year. The AEO2008 reference case has been updated to reflect current market dynamics, which could change considerably as worldwide LNG markets evolve.
As domestic coal demand grows in the AEO2008 reference case, U.S. coal production increases at an average rate of 1.1 percent per year, from 23.8 quadrillion Btu (1,163 million short tons) in 2006 to 31.2 quadrillion Btu (1,595 million short tons) in 2030—7 percent less than in the AEO2007 reference case. Production from mines west of the Mississippi River provides the largest share of the incremental coal production. On a Btu basis, 60 percent of domestic coal production originates from States west of the Mississippi River in 2030, up from an estimated 49 percent in 2006.
Typically, trends in U.S. coal production are linked to its use for electricity generation, which currently accounts for 91 percent of total coal consumption. Coal consumption in the electric power sector in the AEO2008 reference case, at 28.5 quadrillion Btu in 2030, is less than in the AEO2007 reference case (31.1 quadrillion Btu in 2030). Slower growth in overall electricity demand, combined with more generation from nuclear and renewable energy, underlies the reduced outlook for electricity sector coal consumption. Another fast-growing market for coal is CTL. Coal use in CTL plants grows from 0.7 quadrillion Btu (42 million short tons) in 2020 to 2.4 quadrillion Btu (157 million short tons) in 2030. Coal use for CTL production becomes the second largest use of coal (after electric power generation) in 2025 in the AEO2008 reference case.
CALL for PAPERs
Feb. 23, 2008, Jan Marwan,
FTA-Berlin, ACS http://oasys.acs.org/acs/236nm/envr/papers/index.cgi
Feb. 23, 2008, Jan Marwan, FTA-Berlin, ACS http://oasys.acs.org/acs/236nm/envr/papers/index.cgi
I am organising a symposium entitled "New Energy Technology " to be presented through the Division of Environmental Chemistry of the American Chemical Society at the 234th ACS National Meeting, scheduled for August 17 – 21 2008 in Philadelphia PA, USA.
I am soliciting contributed papers to be presented and [optional] later published as a symposium proceedings. If you or a colleague is interested in presenting a paper, I need to receive a short abstract (150 words or less) submitted to the ACS online abstract system (Environmental Division ENVR – Symposium on New Energy Technology) (http://oasys.acs.org/acs/236nm/envr/papers/index.cgi) and prepared according to the enclosed instructions (http://oasys.acs.org/acs/236nm/authorinstructions.cgi) plus an extended abstract (of 2 – 3 pages) submitted to me as an e-Mail attachment by March 17, 2008. This is an excellent opportunity to make a timely contribution to the scientific community in presenting your research.
If you have any questions, please e-Mail or call and we will be happy to assist you.
Symposium Organizer’s Name: Dr Jan Marwan
Affiliation: Marwan Chemie, Research & Development
Address: Rudower Chaussee 29, 12489 Berlin
Phone: (49) 30 – 6392 2566
Dr. Marwan Chemie
Forschung & Entwicklung
Rudower Chaussee 29
Tel: +49 30 6392 2566
FAX: +49 30 983 12306