EnergyBiz Magazine September/October 2010
In This Issue
  • ADVANCING SOLAR MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGY
    TODAY, SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAIC ELECTRICITY is widely recognized as an energy source fueled not only by the sun, but also by incentives and renewable portfolio mandates. If PV is to become a significant part of the global energy portfolio, the cost per watt must continue to fall.There are two ways to lower the cost-per-watt: increase conversion efficiency and lower manufacturing cost. These can be...
  • ATTRACTING VISITORS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
    CHINA ALREADY DOMINATES IN SOLAR panel production and manufacturing. Now it is honing the efficiency of these processes and taking aim at basic research, too.A prime example of this move is the Applied Materials Solar Technology Center in Xi'an.The center, which opened last year, conducts reliability testing and solar research and development. “Our goal is to expand the depth of R&D and...
  • Focusing on R&D
    Cutting edge research vital to keeping coal a key source of electric power in US
    COAL R&D. IT'S A CONCEPT THAT, TO THE UNINFORMED, MAY SEEM AT FIRST old-fashioned and perhaps out of place. In fact, the exploration of coal as a present and future energy and materials source is a complex, dynamic and compelling task. It is a task linked to fundamental issues of the world community: access to modern energy, affordable resources and environmental sustainability. Those engaged...
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  • Fossil Energy with CCS
    CARBON CAPTURE AND SEQUESTRATION HAS A STRANGE place in our energy-climate conversation. Some talk about it as if we hadn't already done it and as if we had much choice to do a lot more of it.The nation urgently needs an energy-rich, low-carbon energy system that's cheap and efficient. Carbon capture and sequestration allows us to take advantage of the high-energy density of fossil fuels and the...
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  • Executives lead in Uncertain times
    The heads of public power agencies discuss their need for new generation
    PUBLIC POWER UTILITIES CONTINUE TO FACE TOUGH challenges as they must invest in new generation capacity even while economic recovery is lagging. The federal stimulus program helped some--especially in gaining favorable access to capital markets through the Build America Bonds--but continuing uncertainty about carbon legislation makes long-term planning difficult.At the annual meeting of the...
  • Utility CEOs Peer into the Future
    CEOs of investor-owned utilities reflect
    THE ENERGY INDUSTRY FACES UNPRECEDENTED challenges as it transforms its business to accommodate a growing portfolio of renewable generation and erects a smart grid that will tell it more about its business and customers than it ever has dreamed of knowing. As these and other profound challenges mount, utilities have had to deal with slack demand and falling revenues, the fallout of a grueling...
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  • WOOING WALL STREET
    Some utility companies have excelled in one of the worst recessions
    RECESSIONS ARE TOUGH ON BUSINESS. AND THEY ARE ALSO TOUGH ON stocks. But the utility sector has weathered the storm. It's not just because utility stocks are known as a good hedge during hard times. It's also because the fundamentals in many cases favor them.Utilities have long been known for generating stable revenues and paying predictable dividends. It's a heritage that has paid off in the...
  • NextEra Energy Resources’ Mitch Davidson
    A rare conversation with Mitch Davidson
    IN THE FAST-GROWING UNIVERSE OF RENEWABLE ENERGY, NEXTERA ENERGY RESOURCES IS CONSIDERED A DOMINANT player in both wind and solar power generation. The company's president, Mitch Davidson, 47, is out to grow the business well beyond its current reach, which encompasses revenue of about $9 billion a year, 18,000 megawatts of generation and a workforce of 4,500. He recently spoke with EnergyBiz...
  • Adding Flexibility
    Energy companies are relying on information technology
    BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE DEPENDS ON PUTTING the right information in the right hands at the right time in the right form to enable executives to make the right decisions. Creating business intelligence out of mounds of data has forced a shift in the role of information technology. Chief information officers now have a seat at the executive table to engage in the give-and-take that's critical to...
  • Stimulus About to Kick In
    AS THE ECONOMY ATTEMPTS TO EMERGE from one of the worst downturns in recent memory the harsh economic climate is shaping utility IT investment plans. Although some utilities believe that the worst is over, most believe that 2010 will remain a challenging year.Energy Central recently conducted brief interviews with more than 1,100 of our readers. When asked how the current economic situation is...
  • NATURAL GAS OUTLOOK
    Natural Gas- a vast resource
    PUBLIC AND POLICYMAKER DEMAND FOR domestic energy sources that are environmentally friendly, abundant, affordable and readily available has intensified. Fortunately, there's a solution right under our feet-- literally.It's natural gas, and thanks to improved technologies, we can finally unlock the vast reserves trapped in shale formations across North America. Cost-effective access to this energy...
  • Breakout Deployments Ahead
    SOLAR ENERGY PROMISES TO BE A MORE POTENT SOURCE of renewables than fast-growing wind power, according to Boris Klebensberger, president of SolarWorld Industries America and chief operating officer of SolarWorld. His job is based in Freiberg, Germany, and he lives in Dresden.The 40-year-old executive believes that if favorable conditions develop to speed the growth of solar deployments in the...
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  • OPTIONS BEFORE US
    SECURING ABUNDANT, AFFORDABLE ENERGY while minimizing adverse effects on the environment is a global imperative. In 2010, about 15 terawatts powers the world, and by mid-century the power needed is expected to double. With the looming threat of major global climate change from the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it is critical that approaches to provide future energy be...
  • FEDERAL EFFORTS TAKE HOLD
    MATTHEW ROGERS HAS BEEN THE POINT man helping to craft policies and distribute an unprecedented wave of federal spending to just about every corner of our energy universe – from smart grid to renewables to diverse, promising new technologies. He was tapped by the Obama administration early in 2009 to make sure that federal stimulus funds in the energy sector are wisely applied and deliver...
  • EVs and the Smart Grid
    ELECTRIC VEHICLES, WITH THEIR POTENTIAL for gasoline savings and emissions reductions, are generating significant consumer and political interest, particularly in the wake of the recent Gulf of Mexico oil leak. However, given the sizable amount of electricity they require for charging, EVs are also generating concern among utilities tasked with supplying that electricity on the nation's aging...
  • A CONVERSATION WITH FERC COMMISSIONER MARC SPITZER
    AS THE SMART GRID COMES TOGETHER, government agencies are cobbling together the rules of the road that will enable it to function seamlessly. EnergyBiz recently met with Marc Spitzer, a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, in his Washington office to discuss the process now under way and how it will affect the power industry. His comments were edited for style and length.ENERGYBIZ...
  • IT IS SEPTEMBER AND OUR CHILDREN ARE back in school. It is time for the energy industry and the policymakers who shape its destiny to go back to school.They must take coal 101. Congress and President Barack Obama enrolled in summer school to work on putting a price on carbon emissions. But they then played hooky. That is particularly shameful when the utility industry did its part to embrace...
  • CHANGE AND INNOVATION
    THE SMART GRID MEANS DIFFERENT THINGS to many people, but there are some common themes.The smart grid promises increased flexibility and creates new possibilities for customers and utilities. Change and innovation will be needed to enable the smart grid to provide new capabilities.What are the factors driving the need for change and innovation? They are the same societal, economic, environmental...
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  • ELUSIVE FUSION POWER
    FUSION POWER HAS LONG HELD THE promise of providing a safe, clean and inexhaustible supply for all the world's energy needs far into the future. Some would say fusion power has held the promise for too long.The promise of fusion power, in perception and mostly in fact, is to steer clear of a legacy of energy accidents with much safer technology, eliminate the production of pollutants and long-...
  • Planning Needed
    FOR TOO LONG, TRANSMISSION PLANNING has been nothing more than an afterthought in providing electric service to end-use customers. We forecast future load responsibility, plan generation to meet that demand plus reserves, and then plan least-cost transmission that minimally meets reliability standards. It's nothing short of a shame that today 7 percent of our transmission asset base is...
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  • The Fuels of the Future
    THE FUTURE OF THE GLOBAL ELECTRICITY BUSINESS CAN be described as N2N. That is, natural gas to nuclear.Before going further, let me be clear. I am not saying that coal is going away anytime soon. There are two reasons why coal will be with us for a long time to come: scale and cost. Furthermore, while I believe that N2N is clearly the future of the electricity sector, the move toward natural gas...
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  • What It Will Take
    IN HIS MAY 12 NEW YORK TIMES OP-ED PIECE, “A BAD BET on Carbon,” Robert Bryce expresses skepticism regarding carbon capture and storage as a climate change mitigation option. Specifically, he raises the issues of cost and scale, “issues that hamstring every new energy-related technology.” I whole-heartedly agree that scale and cost are key issues for CCS, just as they are for all other low-carbon...
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