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    Mongabay, a leading resource for news and perspectives on environmental and conservation issues related to the tropics, has launched Tropical Conservation Science - a new, open access academic e-journal. It will cover a wide variety of scientific and social studies on tropical ecosystems, their biodiversity and the threats posed to them. Tropical Conservation Science - March 8, 2008.

    At the 148th Meeting of the OPEC Conference, the oil exporting cartel decided to leave its production level unchanged, sending crude prices spiralling to new records (above $104). OPEC "observed that the market is well-supplied, with current commercial oil stocks standing above their five-year average. The Conference further noted, with concern, that the current price environment does not reflect market fundamentals, as crude oil prices are being strongly influenced by the weakness in the US dollar, rising inflation and significant flow of funds into the commodities market." OPEC - March 5, 2008.

    Kyushu University (Japan) is establishing what it says will be the world’s first graduate program in hydrogen energy technologies. The new master’s program for hydrogen engineering is to be offered at the university’s new Ito campus in Fukuoka Prefecture. Lectures will cover such topics as hydrogen energy and developing the fuel cells needed to convert hydrogen into heat or electricity. Of all the renewable pathways to produce hydrogen, bio-hydrogen based on the gasification of biomass is by far both the most efficient, cost-effective and cleanest. Fuel Cell Works - March 3, 2008.

    An entrepreneur in Ivory Coast has developed a project to establish a network of Miscanthus giganteus farms aimed at producing biomass for use in power generation. In a first phase, the goal is to grow the crop on 200 hectares, after which expansion will start. The project is in an advanced stage, but the entrepreneur still seeks partners and investors. The plantation is to be located in an agro-ecological zone qualified as highly suitable for the grass species. Contact us - March 3, 2008.

    A 7.1MW biomass power plant to be built on the Haiwaiian island of Kaua‘i has received approval from the local Planning Commission. The plant, owned and operated by Green Energy Hawaii, will use albizia trees, a hardy species that grows in poor soil on rainfall alone. The renewable power plant will meet 10 percent of the island's energy needs. Kauai World - February 27, 2008.

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Austin Energy's $2.3 billion biomass energy contract approved

In one of the largest renewable energy deals of this year, the Austin City Council has given Austin Energy, its city-owned electric utility, approval to enter into a $2.3 billion contract to purchase all power produced over a 20-year period by a proposed 100-megawatt biomass power plant. The purchase power agreement will move Austin closer to its goal that by 2020, some 30 percent of the power generated by Austin Energy will come from renewable resources. The biomass plant delivers the baseload for Austin Energy's intermittent renewables.

The biomass plant will be built in Sacul, Texas, about 10 miles northwest of Nacogdoches and will be the largest of its type in the United States. The facility will burn wood waste from logging and mill activity as well as urban wood waste from clearing, tree trimming and pallets. All fuel sources for the plant must meet Texas Renewable Energy Credit standards and Texas Forestry Best Management Practices. It is projected to go on line by the spring of 2012.

Advantages of the biomass plant
The biomass plant will provide a firm source of renewable energy, available 24/7. Power from the facility provides a hedge against rising natural gas prices and potential carbon tax legislation. It also provides a hedge against transmission congestion which has begun to significantly increase the cost of transporting wind generated power from west Texas to other areas of the state.
A firm supply of renewable energy is critical if Austin is to meet the 30 percent renewables goal. That goal will be difficult to reach without a power source that is available during peak demand periods. - Roger Duncan, Austin Energy General manager
The cost of the biomass power would be recovered by Austin Energy through the fuel charge or through the utility’s green power program, GreenChoice. Recovering costs through the fuel charge is projected to result in up to a $1.50 decrease to a projected $2.50 increase in the electric bill of the average residential customer beginning in 2012, depending on the cost of other fuels particularly natural gas.
The projection is that natural gas prices will continue to escalate over the long-term. The higher natural gas prices rise, the more this project will save our customers since the biomass-generated power effectively replaces natural-gas-fueled generation for the utility. - Roger Duncan, Austin Energy General manager
In addition, the cost of power from the plant will be reduced if a federal Production Tax Credit is extended by Congress. It would be further reduced if a State Fuel Grant program approved by the Texas Legislature is funded through subsequent legislative action:
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The biomass energy contract will increase Austin Energy renewables to 18% in 2012.

In addition to the goal to meet 30 percent of energy sales through renewable resources by 2020, the Austin City Council has set a goal to offset the need for a 700 MW power plant by that date through energy efficiency. It has also set a goal to cap CO2 emissions from generation and to offset current emissions as well as emissions from future generation through either the purchase of CO2 credits or other means. These goals again support the Austin Climate Protection Plan, one of the most comprehensive and aggressive greenhouse gas reduction programs enacted by any city in America.

The biomass plant would be built and managed by Nacogdoches Power LLC, a joint venture between Energy Management Incorporated of Boston and BayCorp Holdings of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The Group has developed and owned or operated more than 1,000 MW of generation in the past including biomass, biodiesel, hydroelectric, natural gas and nuclear. The group has also been selected to develop a biomass project for Gainesville (Florida) Regional Utilities.


Anonymous Mahmoud said...

Its a step in the right direction by Austin.

6:53 AM  

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