EnergyBiz Magazine July/August 2010
In This Issue
  • MEET BOB ROSE.Rose, of the Breakthrough Technology Institute, says that Korea intends to see 2 million fuel cells in residential homes by 2030. And the fuel cell business could generate 3 million jobs in the next two decades.Meet Gia Schneider.Schneider, the chief executive of Natel Energy, says that 70,000 megawatts of low-head, low-hanging hydroelectric power potential is ready to be captured...
  • UTILITY CEO PAY TRENDS
    EQUILAR, A COMPENSATION RESEARCH firm, reported that in 2009 the median compensation of CEOs for the top 200 companies declined 13 percent from the previous year to $7.7 million. The decline was attributed to stock and option awards losing value because of the 2009 stock market plunge. Yet an SNL Financial study of utility CEO compensation in 2009 reveals that the top 25 utility CEOs saw their...
  • THE EMERGING ROLE OF NGOS IN RENEWABLES
    INTERNATIONAL NON-GOVERNMENTAL organizations have had an increasing role in the global scale-up of renewable energy since November 1997 when the European Commission published “Energy for the Future: Renewable Sources of Energy” by Wolfgang Palz. Soon thereafter, Eurosolar, the NGO of German Bundestag member Hermann Scheer, called a series of conferences. Scheer conceived the idea for an...
  • THE GLOBAL VISION OF AES
    IN YEARS PAST, A NUMBER OF UTILITIES TRIED their hands at making money in foreign countries, only to retreat to their home ground when the going got tough. That is, all of them except Arlington, Va.-based AES. Although AES got its start in the early 1980s as a builder and operator of independent power plants in such out-of-the-way places as Beaver Valley, Pa., and Deepwater, Texas, today it owns...
  • Seeking the Right Economics and Politics
    WITH POTENTIAL CO2 MANDATES OR FINANCIAL PRESSURES to curb the use of coal and the expected need to generate more electricity in the next 20 to 30 years to meet growing demand, nuclear is gaining favor and getting new attention.Specifically, many believe nuclear can and will play a larger role providing more than the current 20 percent of total electric generation it now delivers.To do this, two...
  • LOOKING TO SMALL REACTORS
    THE RENAISSANCE OF INTEREST IN NUCLEAR GENERATORS may seem counterintuitive given the problems that stymied new plant development 30 years ago. But to borrow words from Mark Twain, reports of nuclear power's death were greatly exaggerated.Most EnergyBiz readers know the story. Energy surpluses coupled with massive cost overruns leading to plant cancellations, public concerns following Three Mile...
  • PATIENT INVESTORS SPUR TECHNOLOGY
    TODAY, THERE ARE MORE THAN 30 NATIONS EVALUATING the introduction of nuclear energy programs where they have not existed in the past. With energy needs projected to double by 2030, the market for nuclear energy will continue to grow. The question is not whether we will need more power, but where will we get it and how much will it cost us?Worldwide interest in reducing carbon emissions while...
  • COMPONENT MANUFACTURING UNDER WAY
    AS ONE OF THE 30 AMERICANS WORKING IN SOUTHERN France for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor project, I can say that this is an extremely interesting and challenging time. ITER aims to provide the world with a feasible energy option for the future by demonstrating that it is possible to produce commercial energy from fusion.Since ITER was started in 2006, staff levels in France...
  • Building a Better Independent Power Producer
    AS THE RECESSION IS COMING TO AN APPARENT END, THE utility industry is beginning to realign. Although a number of deals are transpiring, they are less indicative of a broader trend and more about companies building their competitive future positions.Energy demand will continue to lag its pre-recession levels. So, many companies are faced with the choice of hanging on to assets that are not fully...
  • Rethinking Utility M&A
    WHEN PPL WON THE AUCTION TO ACQUIRE E.ON'S Kentucky utilities in April, the stock plunged nearly 10 percent and left many investors scratching their heads. In fact, the stock started its steep downward spiral a few days before the actual sale when the Allentown, Pa.-based company was named by E.On as one of three potential buyers for the assets.PPL trumpeted that it would increase its...
  • Great Opportunities and Challenges
    DURING THE PAST YEAR, $3.4 BILLION IN federal grants to utilities and electric power companies have been committed to spur a nation-wide transformation to modernize the existing electric transmission and distribution system into a smart grid through deployment of various digital technologies.Along with the optimism about greater efficiency and reliability of the electric grid and use of renewable...
  • By the Time You Finish This Article It Will Be Out-of-Date
    ADVANCED WATER METERING SHIPMENTS dropped 11 percent in North America last year, and gas shipments dropped 20 percent, so it is clear that an economic downturn can do some harm to this industry.On the other hand, electric advanced metering, which is 57 percent of the whole industry, grew by 40 percent in 2009 over 2008.During the Bush administration, enthusiasm from the Federal Energy Regulatory...
  • Smart Grid on the March
    ALTHOUGH THE UNITED STATES IS KNOWN for its entrepreneurial spirit, the rest of the world has seemingly leaped far ahead on clean technology deployment. Countries such as Germany, Denmark and Spain have surged ahead in developing renewable resources because of feed-in tariffs and other policies that have created a market for solar, wind, biomass and geothermal development. Energy policy in the...
  • State Test Beds
    WHEN A PUBLIC POLICY ADVOCATE WITH A RENEWABLE energy focus gets named head of a state regulatory board, one might have an idea what policies that individual favors. And in Colorado, a state where this happened a few years ago, the emphasis lately has been decidedly green.But Ron Binz, who fits this description and was named chair of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission in 2007, says things...
  • Iberdrola Renewables' Vision for Growth
    THE NAME OF THE SPANISH UTILITY, IBERDROLA, ROLLS off your tongue. When it comes to its renewables business in the United States, it is fast rolling across the landcape as a major developer of wind projects. By the end of last year, Iberdrola Renewables controlled or operated almost 40 projects totaling roughly 3,500 megawatts of wind in the United States. It now employs 800. To better understand...
  • Dealing with Coal Ash
    UTILITY COMPANIES THAT HAVE COAL-FIRED plants and the industry that recycles coal ash say the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposal of two options for regulating the material did little to clear up uncertainty but did make doing business more difficult.The EPA issued its long-awaited proposal in early May but the only real decision so far is that agency, for the first time, will...
  • HOW THE U.S. EIA ACKNOWLEDGES UNCERTAINTY
    AS IT FACED THE ENERGY CRISES OF THE 1970s, Congress saw the need for an agency that could offer comprehensive data and independent analysis and communicate that information to policy makers, industry representatives and the broader public. The U.S. Energy Information Administration was established in 1977 to serve this role. EIA's mission is to collect, analyze and disseminate independent and...
  • MYTHS AND SUBSIDIES
    DESPITE MOUNTING EVIDENCE, SOME STILL insist on blaming biofuels for food insecurity, especially in poor countries. This view is based on the wrong assumption that food crops would be replaced with biofuels production, which would aggravate hunger in the least-developed regions. Evidence provided by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, however, shows that only 1 percent of the...
  • IMPORTING FRENCH NUCLEAR EXPERIENCE
    THE GIANT FRENCH UTILITY, EDF, IS intent on being a key player in a renewed nuclear industry. It has dispatched Jean-Pierre Benqué, 62, its senior executive vice president, across the Atlantic to head up its North American operations, EDF Inc., as its president. The wholly owned subsidiary, based in Chevy Chase, Md., employs 25.In a recent interview with EnergyBiz, Benqué discussed the background...
  • OVERCOMING THE KEY OBSTACLE TO RENEWABLES GROWTH
    IMAGINE IF THERE WERE A PHOTOVOLTAIC material with 100 percent conversion efficiency from light to electricity. What impact would this have on the rate of adoption of PV solar as the primary source of power? Answer: probably none. The reason: What happens when the sun doesn't shine? How will electricity be generated? The same goes for wind, which blows when it wants to. Unless the intrinsic...
  • BULK ENERGY STORAGE TO HELP RENEWABLES
    Everyone wants to go green. Everyone also expects reliable, affordable, secure electricity. Reconciling these expectations is in many ways the defining issue in the electricity industry. Bulk energy storage is one answer.The killer app of bulk storage is its ability to minimize the intermittency problems grid operators and dispatchers face as increasing amounts of wind and solar power come online...
  • HARNESSING PHOTOSYNTHESIS
    NEXT TIME YOU'RE ADMIRING THE colors of the marine life by a pond or the sea, just remind yourself that you're staring at the raw materials of a potential multi-billion-dollar global industry for harvesting sunlight. In particular, what scientists are now learning about the bacteria and plant organisms that give rise to these pretty colors has the potential for revolutionizing the entire energy...
  • REAL-TIME MONITORING OF ENERGY USE
    UTILITIES ARE BUSILY CRAFTING PLANS TO add some smarts to their grids, which will enable them to monitor usage information in real time. For these new capabilities to take shape, they will need networks capable of moving information from their data centers to customer sites. Wireless communications are appealing because they are easier to deploy and less expensive than wired connections. LTE...
  • WANTED: $15 BILLION A YEAR FOR ENERGY INNOVATION
    ALL YEAR THE ENERGY WORLD HAS BEEN convulsed with debates about cap-and-trade systems, offshore drilling rules, price collars, emission targets, oil spills, China and shale gas.And all that is hugely important.But there are two other things we also need to be considering. We need clean-energy technology innovation. And we have to figure out how we're going to pay for it.Innovation matters because...