Monday, October 20, 2014

PUCO rules on in-state sourcing


The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has ruled on whether or not renewable energy must come from inside Ohio.  The answer for now is "no," which appears to have set back efforts to build renewable power supply inside Ohio based on the simple requirement alone that it exist.  What this move does do, though, apparently is lower the power prices since Ohio can now get renewable energy (and thus the energy credits) from outside on the lowest bid.

Click here to read a well written and brief article by Tom Knox in Columbus Business First.

October 20, 2014

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Clean Energy vs. Coal


October 9, 2014 - Forbes has published a story about energy in Ohio; specifically, the battle between coal energy and clean energy. 

Click here to read "The Battle of Ohio - Clean Energy vs. Coal."

October 19, 2014

Southern Ohio Clean Energy Park

What's a "Clean Energy Park?"

It's a facility that provides carbon free or low carbon energy to surrounding communities.  It literally has the concept of putting more into the communities that surround it - in terms of energy, in terms of jobs, in terms of tax revenue - than it takes away.  And there's one that's been planned off and on for some time right here in Ohio.

There are several such parks under consideration right now around the country, which would merge both renewables (solar and wind) on the same site as nuclear to provide economical 24/7 power, whether the sun was shining or whether the wind was blowing or not.  The lowest cost power would theoretically always be available, whether nuclear base load or solar or wind peaking, from these clean energy parks.  Click here to see some of the locations under consideration.

Read about the Ohio Clean Energy Park at this link.

Progress on this concept has been slow; however, some progress continues to be made, and we can see the direction the project is going at this link.

The nuclear plant under consideration is the AREVA US-EPR, whose licensing process for construction in the United States is still underway.  This is a GENIII+ nuclear plant with enhanced safety features, and which takes account of considerations post-Fukushima through the use of four redundant safety injection trains that can get water into the nuclear steam supply system for emergency cooling.  These nuclear plants are typically rated over 1600 MWe, which is a considerable boost in non-greenhouse-gas-emitting power to Ohio.  The power availability of the renewable installation isn't determined yet.

Below, a graphic (courtesy AREVA USA) showing how the Clean Energy Park concept relates to you (see "consumer" at the top), the community, and the government.  Click to enlarge.

The idea has a great potential for answering the major question we have today -- namely, "How do we get to a reduced carbon, reduced greenhouse gas future without sacrificing our lifestyles, our industry, our transportation and safety?"  This concept could be part of a great and industry-leading initiative if Ohio can proceed with it.  We'll keep our eye on this project, and in fact intend to see if we can get some more specific, and more up-to-date information about it.

(Above, an artists' rendering of what the nuclear plant portion of a clean energy park concept would look like -- this is the AREVA EPR in an exterior view, courtesy AREVA USA.  The actual plant might also include a large cooling tower or two -- or, could use lower, less unsightly forced-air cooling towers which are actually fairly common both at nuclear and coal fired electric plants.)

October 19, 2014

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Nuclear and Coal - a Bridge to Clean Energy?

Offered for your consideration, the following article published September 23, 2014 on Forbes:

Nukes and Coal:  The Surprising Clean Energy Bridge to Obama's Low Carbon Future.

The author of this piece - Michael Krancer - does a good job in pointing out that Ohio has a fairly unique stand, in terms of legislation, on where nuclear energy fits into the broad scheme.

"With the exception of Ohio, nuclear is currently treated unfairly by being excluded from state Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) laws, which is mystifying."
"And only Ohio properly considers nuclear to be a clean energy source—which it is."

But, of course, there's also this:

"I mentioned earlier that one state, Ohio, allows for the inclusion of nuclear generation in its RPS law in a special “advanced energy resources” category. Unfortunately, even that law is discriminatory, because nuclear is excluded from half of Ohio’s mandate. So it’s going to take time for states to right this ship."

There's a lot of sense to Michael's approach here - and much of what he says is studied, has merit, even precedent.  I think there might -- might -- be a future for carbon-capture clean coal technology, but the experiences with the Kemper plant are showing that we must face the reality that in all likelihood carbon-capture coal will be in the same range of cost to construct per kilowatt of power as nuclear is.  This is as a result of application of new tech - the costs are likely to come down, but no one's sure how much.  Or when. It's a work in progress.

What we can't do is just shut down coal, decide to arbitrarily phase out nuclear, and hope that Ohio's economy and industry can depend on wind - which is erratic and changeable, especially by Lake Erie - and on the sun, which as you'll all know we seem to see lots less of than other places.  The Forbes piece recognizes these facts and gives us a way out of the dilemma.

October 16, 2014