World’s Largest Carbon Capture Facility To Be Built Near Houston

The world’s largest carbon capture facility is coming to Texas.  The US Department of Energy has announced that work will soon begin a project to capture up to 90% of the carbon emissions from the W.A, Parish Generating Station; a coal-fired power plant southwest of Houston Texas.   Once captured, the CO2 will be pumped underground at the West Ranch oil field.

Pumping the CO2 underground will serve two purposes.  By injecting CO2 into pockets of hard to extract oil, the oil is liberated in a way that makes it easier to extract.  The process also results in the CO2 being sequestered underground rather than being released into the atmosphere.

The CO2 will be captured by processing the power plant’s exhaust gas through a solution of amines.  The amines will bind with the Co2 allowing it to be separated from the sulfates.  Later the amine solution will be heated; a process which releases the CO2.  The amine is recycled while the CO2 is pressurized and piped to the oil field where it will be used to help extract the hard to reach oil.

The West Ranch oil field, which has been in operation for over 75 years, has seen its production rates fall through conventional production techniques.  The carbon dioxide will reduce the oil’s viscosity and force it out of tight spots where it can be more easily extracted.   The oil will them be processed to remove any CO2 that has become mixed with the oil.  The CO2 can then be re-injected into the ground.

The size of the project was scaled up from original plans and will now entail capturing the CO2 from 240 MW of electricity production, making it the largest such operation in the world.   The DOE will be providing financial assistance for the project, whose principals include a subsidiary of NRG Energy.  NRG Energy is the parent company of Reliant Energy, a Texas electricity provider.

Although coal has long been the predominate source of electricity generation in the U.S., it has seen its market share slide in recent years as the abundance  of cheap natural gas has created a cheaper and cleaner alternative.   In Texas, the natural gas boom has helped electricity rates fall substantially since their highs in 2008.

See Also:  U.S. / Texas Oil Reserves At Highest Levels In Decades
See Also: Largest Federal Wind Farm To Be Built In Texas
See Also:  Reliant Energy Rates in Houston

 

Increased Reports Of Scammers Posing As Your Electricity Provider

**ALERT**  THERE HAS RECENTLY BEEN A HUGE JUMP IN THE NUMBER OF REPORTS OF SCAMMERS POSING AS YOUR ELECTRICITY PROVIDER CALLING TO GET YOUR CREDIT/DEBIT CARD INFORMATION.

The scam artists are pretending to be from your electric company, and are threatening to disconnect your electricity if you do not pay your bill immediately over the phone.

Many of these scammers even have the ability to fool your phone’s Caller ID, so that the electricity provider’s name shows up on the phone’s screen.

The thieves are targeting residential and commercial electricity users across the country, but seem to be focusing on the states that are currently experiencing elevated temperatures.

The best action to take is to disconnect the call, then call your energy provider using the phone number printed on a recently electric bill and inform them of the scam attempt.

 

Midland To Get Biomass Electricity Facility

If all goes according to plan, the Midland Odessa area could be home to a state of the art facility designed to turn waste into electricity by early next year.  This comes from a recent announcement by Cirque Energy Inc., one of a number of companies that will be working together to build and deploy a 2.5 MW biomass gasification power plant.  This would provide enough electricity to power roughly 2,500 Texas homes.

The project will be making use of a deployable gasification unit (DGU) developed by a partnership between Cirque Energy and Northrop Grumman.  The technology is designed to turn solid waste into fuel that can be burned to generate electricity.  This fuel, known as syngas, could be used in place of more traditional fossil fuels such as diesel or natural gas to generate electricity.

The benefit of such an approach is that it creates a new use for waste that would otherwise simply go in to landfills.  A wide range of waste products can be used in this process including; wood waste, animal waste, landscaping waste, paper, cardboard, food waste, and even plastics.

The concept of converting waste into electricity is not new.  But earlier generations of the technology have proven to be inefficient and costly for certain types of waste.   An even larger problem has been the amount of air pollution generated from the process of burning waste for electricity.  The company believes that their version of the DGU which uses low temperature starved air gasification technology could be the key to wide-scale commercial deployment of biomass to energy technology.

The Texas electricity market is conducive to such innovation because it is deregulated and open to competition. The electricity generated by the facility can be sold to the wholesale electricity market.   Under the structure of the Texas marketplace, retail electric providers purchase this power and sell it to end users including residential and commercial electricity users.

See Also: Microsoft Makes Large Texas Wind Power Purchase
See Also: Texas Clean Energy Coalition Report Provides Incentive For Renewable Energy

Lower Your Summer Electricity Bill By Sealing The Airy Leaks In Your Home

Surviving the rising temperatures in Texas is a struggle in itself. But paying for rising electricity prices may be a tougher battle than avoiding the summer scorchers. According to Forbes, Dallas and Houston are the top two cities when it comes to heftiest power bills. The blistering summer heat is the top perpetrator when it comes to an increase of electricity usage as residents crank up the AC to cool off. By sealing the air leaks throughout your home, you will save substantial funds and make a positive impact on the environment.

Super Mario Those Air Leaks

Air conditioners consume the most energy and are used extensively during the summer in Texas. Sealing those A/C leaks is the best way to reduce your bill. If you are on a budget you can save up to 30 percent on your energy bill by sealing those leaks. Energy.gov provides a detailed guide for a do-it-yourself home energy audit which involves identifying and sealing leaks along with checking insulation.

Seek Out Those Leaks

Do a quick walk through of your home to seek out areas where potential leaks may be occurring. Windows and doors are where leaks are most prevalent, but don’t forget to check out these often overlooked leaks:

· Electrical outlets and switches – Homeowners are often surprised by this, but electrical switches and outlets are major culprits when it comes to air leakage. Wires run from unsealed holes outside your home to a junction box that eventually leads to the outlets in your home. Prevent this type of leakage by buying an airtight junction box or replacing a decaying unit. These boxes can be purchased at any home improvement store, prices vary greatly so consider buying the upscale model since you may earn the money back with energy savings.

· Air Conditioners - Leaks from your HVAC system can result in a 25 to 30 percent energy loss. Finding these leaks can be difficult but are well worth the time. Consider using a blower door test to find them. A blower door test depressurizes a home so energy output can be recorded and is conducted by professionals when sealing air leaks.

· Hot Tub and Pool – Make sure to use an effective pool or spa cover. Hot Tub Works advises that the flimsy covers that often come standard with new products have a very low R-value and waste energy.

Seal Them Up

Once you have spotted the troublesome areas use caulk and weatherstripping to plug the airy holes. Be cognizant of which caulk you should be using when sealing your home. For example, silicone-based caulk would work better on bathtubs or tiles and butyl-based rubber would work better on windows. Energy.gov has a list of caulking materials and when they should be used.

Let the Professionals Take Care of It

If this sounds tedious you can have an audit done by a professional. Audits cost anywhere from $100 to $400, but they will provide you with a comprehensive report and provide you with sound recommendations ranging from simply sealing a few windows to completely replacing your AC system.

Sealing your home is a quick, cost-effective way of lowering your electricity bill before the Texas summer truly peaks. Whether you choose to do –it-yourself or employ the services of a professional make sure to take a look at the most uncommon spots for air leakage.

Cutting-Edge Technologies & DIY Conversions For Alternative Fuel Motorcycles

From the mountains of Afghanistan to global vehicle expos and racetracks to home garages, alternative fuel motorcycle innovations continue to green the biking landscape. Here’s a roundup of how eco-friendly advancements are shaping the motorcycle industry and these customizable two-wheel machines:

Military Motorbike: Stealth Weaponry

The Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently partnered with San Francisco-based electric motorcycle manufacturer BRD Motorcycles and Logo Technologies, a defense contractor, to design a hybrid bike — the latest in motorcycle tactical weaponry. Researchers envision a hybrid motorcycle powered by a stealthy electric motor and an engine that can burn various fuels, including regular gasoline, jet fuel and diesel, according to CNN.com. BRD’s all-electric RedShift MX serves as the foundation for this motorbike prototype, and elite U.S. fighting forces are eagerly anticipating its 100-mile range and advantageous silent performance.

Michael Golembesky, a former Marine Corps special ops staff sergeant, is familiar with vehicle-dependent warfare. He carried out anti-Taliban missions on four-wheeled, all-terrain vehicles. Since leaving the service in 2010, Golembesky told CNN Marine special ops adopted motorcycles as part of their defense on harsh topography. With the extra mobility and maneuverability, troops on bikes can launch a surprise assault, move constantly to keep enemies from knowing their location, and block enemy escape.

Cutting-Edge Revolutions: Fuel Cell, Solar Power & Electric

Away from the trenches, leading motorcycle makers continue to take alternative fuel motorcycle technologies to unforeseen heights. Hydrogen fuel cell? Solar-energy powered batteries? These technological visions became two-wheeled green realities.

iON Hydrogen Fuel Cell Concept: Hero MotoCorp, the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world, recently introduced its iON electric concept bike at the Auto Expo in India. Equipped with advanced lithium-air (Li-air) batteries and a hydrogen fuel extender, the bike can reach speeds of 99 mph and travel 180 miles on a single charge. The iON uses unconventional ‘M-Link’ and ‘Flex Axis’ technology, states Visordown.com. Other unconventional parts include hubless magnetic wheels and handlebar control buttons, as well as front and rear rotation and suspension systems for optimal steering.

Solar-Powered Lighting Motorcycle: Although 99 mph is fast, it’s nothing compared to the Lightening SuperBike’s 218 mph top speed. Last year the street-legal, solar-powered SuperBike won the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. The battery-powered motorcycle charges its battery with solar energy and achieves high mileage with regenerative braking. Featuring a liquid-cooled 125 kW electric motor, the SuperBike demonstrated how clean technologies are at the forefront of world-class performance.

RedShift MX: Inc.com calls the RedShift MX by BRD Motorcycles more than a “supercool dirt bike.” It’s a 40-horsepower machine and “green demon” that jumps from zero to 60 in 3.3 seconds. With a single charge, the next-level bike can cover 50 miles and run for 1,000 hours before needing an oil change. Intermediate riders and pro racers can even upgrade to the Supermoto model for $500 and speed along at 85 mph, all while reducing their carbon footprint.

DIY Motorcycles: Electric & Veggie Oil Conversions

Not every eco-friendly adrenaline junkie can experience the unconventional technologies of a hydrogen fuel cell motorcycle or throw down $14,995 to feel the power of an electric two-wheeler. But with a little DIY dirty work, some eco-enthusiasm and basic motorcycle parts, anyone can help the earth by building and riding an electric or vegetable-oil powered motorcycle.

Home Electric Conversion: Marque Cornblatt, a contributor for project-sharing website Instructables.com, provides an 11-step guide on how to make an electric motorcycle conversion. He turned a Honda Rebel 250 junker into a clean quiet commuter bike in San Francisco. The first step is to find a solid bike to use for the framework, then buy some parts at an online streetbike store to make it safe and street-legal, including the lights, brakes, wheels, tires, and shocks. Once the electric components are gathered, the bike is ready for a electric-conversion remodel and energy-efficient redesign ready to charge.

Pure Veggie Oil: Straight vegetable oil, along with biodiesel, is an alternative fuel source for bikes with a diesel engine. First, install a diesel engine without rubber seals and ensure the transmission ratios are compatible with the engine’s RPM. Then install a vegetable oil fuel conversion kit into a second gas tank and an auxiliary fuel system. Activated by a switch, the auxiliary fuel system will shift the engine from diesel fuel to vegetable oil. Keep in mind it’s best to run your bike on regular diesel or biodiesel fuel during cold temperatures.

New Plan To Export Texas Electricity To Other States

A California based energy company has developed a plan to export Texas electricity to other states.  Seen as a way to make use of the state’s abundant supply of wind energy, the proposed 400 mile transmission line would be the first of its kind.  It would transmit Texas power from a point just east of Dallas to Louisiana and Mississippi.

The Texas electric grid is separate from the other major North American grids.  Texas generates more wind energy than any other state.  Because wind power by its nature can be unpredictable, the state sometimes finds that wind turbines produce more electricity than the state can use at any given time.  This could especially be true at night when temperatures tend to drop and wind tends to blow more.

Pattern Energy Group, the company responsible for the proposed new line, plans to be able to send up to 3,000 megawatts of electricity out of the Texas grid to neighboring states.  The company would use an affiliate, Pattern Power Marketing, to purchase wind power from Texas producers and sell the power to electric companies in other states.

The project is only made possible by the recent completion of massive new transmission lines that were designed specifically to bring electricity from West Texas were most of the state’s wind energy resources are to the more populous eastern part of the state.  If the plan goes through it could be completed as early as 2019 at a total cost of up to $2 billion.

 

Texas Offers Incentive For Electric Vehicles – Excluding Tesla

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has announced details of the state’s new alternative fuel vehicle rebate program.  The state will offer $2,500 for the purchase of light duty vehicles powered by electricity, compressed natural gas (CNG), or propane.  Consumers can also receive up to $2,500 for leasing these vehicles.  In order to get the full rebate, however, the lease must be at least 4 years.  Shorter leases are eligible for lesser rebates.

Authorized by the Texas State Legislature last year, the program is relatively modest.  The program will last until June 2015 or until the $7.7 million in funding is exhausted; whichever comes first. The maximum number of vehicles allowed in the program is 2,000 electric vehicles and 2,000 propane or CNG vehicles.

The rebates could be combined with other incentive programs including federal electric vehicle incentive programs.  In order to be eligible, the vehicle must be purchased through a franchised dealer in the state of Texas.  If the vehicle is purchased from an out-of-state dealer or directly from the manufacturer it will not be eligible for the rebate program.  That means would-be Tesla owners will not be eligible for rebates since the Tesla sales model doesn’t include franchised dealers.

To Apply for the Rebate Call 1-800-919-TERP.

See Also: Far From A Burdon, Electric Vehicles Will Assist The Grid

 

 

Unconventional Ways To Cut Costs Around The House

According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, the U.S. wastes more energy than China and Europe and teeters near the bottom of the list for wastefulness. How does this impact homeowners? The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates you could spend more than $2,000 on heating your home and hundreds cooling it down every year. But there are ways to trim costs and save, even with unusual methods you may have overlooked.

Paint Your Roof

According to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, white roofs could cool both your home and the world, offset CO2 and delay global warming. For home owners, this means a reduction in air conditioning bills by up to 40 percent, and decreasing your roof’s overall temperature. Painting your roof white could also prevent rooftop maintenance needs down the road, keeping even more money in your pocket.

Go Artificial

A traditional suburban lawn takes about 10,000 gallons of water a year to maintain and requires more than 40 hours a year just to mow it, the EPA estimates. Save yourself time and money by getting an artificial lawn. Unlike stiff astro turf rolled out from decades before, a synthetic lawn is made of a modern fabric resembling a realistic lawn and can let water pass through freely. An artificial lawn takes little maintenance and ongoing costs; all with no mowing, fertilizers or pesticides.

Get Your Ducts in a Row

Fixing your leaky ducts can reduce both heating and cooling costs, and even qualify for a rebate. For example, the Home Energy Improvement Program through Duke Energy Progress program gives rebates to improve your home’s energy efficiency. Always have someone with proper HVAC training. Or, better yet, you can get trained yourself and learn to to fix your own heating, ventilation and air-conditioning units by taking an HVAC training course. There’s more than one way to put money in your pocket by getting trained. You could save money on utilities, and transform that cost-savings knowledge into a career as demand for such skills is expected to increase by 21 percent through 2022.

Block Your Chimney

Fireplaces and chimneys suck out precious energy by pulling the heat and air conditioning right out of your house. Close the damper and doors to the fireplace, but then take it a step further. Block off unused chimney with a chimney cap to seal it off from leaks. If you use your chimney on occasion or during winter months, install a chimney balloon or rigid insulation to wedge into any open areas around your damper and keep energy inside.

Modify Your Toilet Tank

How many times do you flush away gallons of water each day? Offset your water bill by modifying your toilet tanks. Take an old 1-liter bottle and partially fill it with pennies or marbles before adding water. Place it lying down in your toilet tank to offset how much water is needed to fill your tank after a flush. This technique could save roughly 10 gallons of water a day with very little effort involved.

U.S. / Texas Oil Reserves At Highest Levels In Decades

According to data recently released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, crude oil reserves in the U.S are at their highest level since 1976.  In 2012 alone the U.S. added 4.5 billion barrels.  This represents the highest one-year increase since 1970 when Alaskan crude oil was added to U.S. reserves.

Texas alone added nearly 3 billion barrels, thanks to a number of factors including advances in technology for developing so-called tight oil plays, and continued high prices for crude oil which encourages exploration.   The expansion in Texas oil reserves largely reflect development of the Western Gulf and Permian basins.

While most of the country saw increases in reserves, Alaska saw a decline of 500 million barrels and California saw a decline of 33 million barrels.

 

 

4 Ways To Reduce Your Home Energy Use & Save Money This Summer

Keeping your home cool and your energy consumption low during the torrid months of summer is a challenge. The average household electricity bill for the June-through-August time period last year was a staggering $395, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The temps are climbing, and if you’re looking for ways to reduce your home energy use and save money, we’ve got some eco-friendly changes and upgrades you can make.

Seal and Insulate

If you have cracks and gaps in your foundation, windows or walls, you are letting cool, air-conditioned air escape and hot summer air in. Subsequently, your HVAC system is working harder to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature. Protect your home and wallet by ensuring these areas are properly sealed and your home is adequately insulated. Caulking around windows usually suffices, but if you have very old, rickety windows or window frames, replace them with energy-efficient ones. It’s one of the best things you can do to save energy.

Photo by Nieuw via Wikimedia Commons

Rethink Your Roofing

You won’t reduce your energy consumption by much if you don’t have a well-maintained, efficient roof. Depending on the climate, certain styles of roofing do better than others. In extremely hot climates, light-colored roofs help reflect the sun’s rays and keep your home cooler. Proper attic ventilation is a must—it removes warm air and moisture that cause your air conditioner to work harder and mold to grow.

Photo by Liadmaster via Wikimedia Commons

Upgrade Your HVAC System

Maintaining and regulating your home’s temperature accounts for more than half of your annual energy consumption costs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. If you’re willing to replace your current heating and cooling system, these green HVAC technologies will significantly reduce your monthly costs.

Request your unit be placed in a sheltered, shaded area of your home to promote longevity and efficiency. If a replacement unit isn’t within your planned budget, you can still make the most of your current system by scheduling regular maintenance appointments and replacing your filters each month.

Employ the help of ceiling or freestanding fans during the summer months. Keep all doors and windows shut. When it starts cooling off outside, open those windows back up to allow for a nice cross-breeze—it’ll help keep your home at a comfortable level.

Photo by Achim Hering via Wikimedia Commons

Turn It off and Unplug

One of the easiest ways to reduce your home energy consumption: Always shut off and unplug your chargers, electronics and small appliances while you’re out during the day. There is no reason to keep everything plugged in, especially in light of the fact that these items continue to consume energy just by being plugged in. Make a habit of putting things away or storing items that are not receiving regular daily use.

Photo by Rennett Stowe via Wikimedia Commons