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Monday, May 27, 2013

Getting ready to go off the grid

Suppose you have a solar photovoltaic system or a BlueGen fuel cell home generator and a collection of appliances that can be monitored and controlled automatically by a tablet computer.

A hot water system might be set to keep water between 50°C and 60°C.
  • If the water temperature is at or below 50°C, the water heater should be on. 
  • If the water temperature is at or above 60°C the water heater should be off.
When the water temperature is anywhere between these upper and lower temperatures the status of the heater could be on or off. From your point of view, the status of the water heater ("on" or "off") is "Don't care if on or off".

Refrigerators, freezers, air-conditioners and space heaters can be automatically controlled having regard to:
  • A lower temperature at which the appliance should be "on" (for heating appliances) and "off" (for cooling appliances)
  • An upper temperature at which the appliance should be "off" (for heating appliances) and "on" (for cooling appliances) 
  • For any temperature that is between the lower and upper temperature, the appliance has a status of "Don't care if on or off".
When your home energy system is generating more energy than is required for all appliances that are turned on, extra energy can be sent to some or all appliances that are "off" but have a status of "Don't care if on or off".

A ZigBee HVAC Application
A ZigBee HVAC Application
When your home energy system is not generating enough energy for all appliances that are turned on, energy can be saved by cutting energy being sent to some or all appliances that are "on" but have a status of "Don't care if on or off".

Controlling appliances in this way reduces the size and cost of energy storage.
  • Excess energy being generated is added to any appliance that can use it.
  • Peak energy use is lowered - when more energy is being used than is being generating - by automatically withholding supply from any appliance that can postpone its energy needs.
If your household has an electric vehicle parked in a garage, it can be controlled in an even better way. For example:
  • When the battery charge is below 40 percent, charging should be "on".
  • When the battery charge is at 100 percent, charging should be "off".
  • When the battery charge is between 40 percent and 80 percent, charging can be considered to be "Don't care if on or off".
  • When the battery charge is between 80 percent and 100 percent, the battery can be considered to be "Don't care if charging is on or off, OR if discharging is on or off". (That is to optionally SUPPLY energy to the home.)
Notice that the last status above allows the household to make use of any electric vehicle parked in its garage for energy storage - at no extra cost...

A smart meter is not a requirement to implement such an energy management system.
ZigBee Alliance Integrated ZigBee low-cost controllers in a range of appliances from different manufacturers are a prerequisite.
  • Proprietary communication protocols and energy automation software would make it very difficult and expensive to implement the desired level of control. 

If you are still connected to the grid, this level of control allows you to reduce the peak demand your household makes from the grid. This strategy helps:
  • To reduce the need for network investment in extra poles and wires.
  • To avoid the need for price increases for the electricity that you purchase from the electricity grid.
There are a number of businesses with Zigbee technology experience that could help manufacturers begin to offer versions of their appliances that are "ZigBee-enabled".

For example:

Coal and gas industry dreaming

Three reports on the energy industry in the same 24 hours defy reason:

  1. There is an oversupply of coal and excess coal production capacity. ("Australia coal firms dig in for years of mine closures, job cuts")
  2. Australian manufacturers want a return to protectionist economic policies - a "reserve" of natural gas at below market price. ("Manufacturers call for domestic gas reserves")
  3. The Australian natural gas industry wants government help to increase investment and production. ("Red tape limits oil and gas industry productivity")

What's wrong with that:

  1. Coal mining investment has exceeded realistic levels for the global market.
  2. The natural gas industry wants government help to increase investment - presumably so it too can exceed realistic demand levels - just as the coal industry has done.
  3. Excess coal production capacity is ignored by manufacturers.

A rational answer:

  1. Pursuing investment in even more natural gas capacity will aggravate the coal industry's downturn.
  2. Converting excess coal into synthetic natural gas solves the excess coal capacity problem. See making natural gas cheap.
  3. This avoids wasting investment in even more unneeded energy capacity in the natural gas industry.

Gas Flaring - Disposing of natural gas keeps prices high
Gas Flaring - Disposing of natural gas keeps prices high

And some industry spin trying to induce even more over-investment:

  1. ABC News ran a report - "Coal demand expected to boom" - suggesting the coal industry remains a safe investment - just a few days before:

Related Article -

Investing on the Road to Global Financial Crisis II

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Science creates possibilities - farming energy and food

Economics sorts out what is worth doing

When looking to increase profits from farming, science provides ideas to explore.
Economic assessment of each idea is needed to choose which ones can return a profit.
Aussie farming inventions improve the economics of new opportunities -
A UNIQUE Australian invention has won a major international design award.

The revolutionary Glenvar Bale Direct System, which is used to link a baler directly behind a harvester, won the coveted AE50 2009 Award from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.

The BDS is a bolt-on kit that is used to join a baler to a conventional combine harvester, enabling baling of the entire crop residue from the harvester.

"The residue can be marketed for numerous uses including cellulosic ethanol production, straw-fired power generation, stock feed manufacture, fire-logs, straw board and stock bedding. The baled product is not contaminated by stones, sticks or fencing wire, reducing the need for machinery maintenance," Alan said.

(From an article "Aussie baler wins top gong" by Mark Saunders | July 8, 2009)

Efficient: the award-winning Glenvar Bale Direct system bales behind a compact harvester.
Efficient: the award-winning Glenvar Bale Direct system bales behind a compact harvester.

An interesting idea for cotton farming (or wheat farming) depends upon several areas of science.
  1. Australian cotton farmers produced about 2,000 kg of cotton lint per hectare in the 2011 crop from a cropped area of almost 600,000 ha.
  2. As well as cotton lint and seeds, cotton crops produce about 8,000 kg of plant matter (stalks, boll shells and husk) per ha. (About 50 percent of this 8,000 kg is moisture content.)
  3. A scientific perspective on cotton growing includes some information that is not obvious:
    1. Photosynthesis stores solar energy by converting water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and plant matter.
      Plants - Nature's Solar Energy Collectors and Renewable Energy Stores
      Plants - Nature's Solar Energy Collectors and Renewable Energy Stores
    2. The dried plant matter - about 4,000 kg per ha - from cotton farming is produced by the cotton plants combining about 2,400 kg of water with 6,000 kg of carbon dioxide and releasing 4,400 kg of oxygen. 
    3. About 64,000 megajoules (MJ) of solar energy are stored in each 4,000 kg of plant matter (dry weight).
    4. For the 2011 Australian cotton crop that was grown on nearly 600,000 ha -
      • The crop converted about 3.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide and 1.44 million tonnes of water into 2.4 million tonnes of dry matter and 2.64 million tonnes of oxygen. 
      • The solar energy stored in the 2.4 million tonnes of dry matter is the same as the energy produced by burning nearly 1 million tonnes of coal. 
  4. The dry plant matter would not be very valuable if it was used to create energy. 
  5. It may be more valuable in edible insect farming. Insects convert plant matter into edible food about 6 times more efficiently than cattle.
  6. Insects are a potential protein source for fish feed in the aquaculture industry and a protein source for poultry.
ABC TV Catalyst
Flies for Food

Related posts - 

Energy innovation earns farm income  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Car industry increases workforce - No, not in Australia

Volkswagen workforce grows to 500,000 employees
Group creates 28,000 new jobs

Board Member for Human Resources Dr. Neumann: "The Group is making considerable investments in new employees."

Wolfsburg, 30 December 2011 - The Volkswagen Group has increased its global workforce by 100,000 employees in the current year. The growth in employee numbers is the result of the integration of new companies and the creation of 28,000 new jobs throughout the world. At the end of November, the Group employed 500,000 people, including more than 12,000 apprentices. (Read more ...)

Volkswagen Group developments in workforce 

Volkswagen - Employees Growth to December 31, 2012

Volkswagen - Workforce by Continents at December 31, 2012

(Read more ...)

VW Golf TGI BlueMotion (CNG) Premiers at Geneva 

March 9, 2013 | Germany, Wolfsburg and Switzerland, Geneva

Range of more than 1,300 km 
Consumes just 3.4 kg natural gas per 100 km 

VW Golf TGI BlueMotion
VW Golf TGI BlueMotion
The VW Golf TGI BlueMotion powered with natural gas (CNG) will makes it debut alongside other new Golf models on the shores of Lake Geneva. At the same time, Volkswagen is renaming its so-called “EcoFuel” natural gas models as “TGI BlueMotion.” The new Golf TGI BlueMotion will be launched as the classic hatchback version in the summer and as an estate car in the autumn. (Read more ...)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Energy innovation earns farm income

An Australian led-project to turn 1.4 million tonnes of Chinese pig poo into alternative energy and fertiliser has been hailed in a national science award.
Giant pig waste biogas plant - artist impression
Giant pig waste biogas plant - artist impression
The project, run by the Adelaide-based Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CRC CARE), Chinese firm HLM Asia PL and Huazhong University of Science and Technology, has developed technology for treating one of the world’s largest and smelliest waste disposal problems.

The technology has been trademarked as pooCARE™. It has been demonstrated in the field and is now being scaled up to treat large volumes of waste from many piggeries.

Prof. Naidu, Managing Director, CRC CARE, says that the demonstration biodigester can:
  • remediate 200 tonnes of piggery waste daily (73,000 tonnes annually)
  • produce 380 cubic metres of biogas daily, worth around A$41,000 a year as a heating fuel
  • produce 5,600 tonnes of fertiliser worth A$550,000 per year.
CRC CARE has also been working with the pork industry in Australia, including the Pork CRC, to transfer the biodigester technology from China to farms in Australia. This will enable Australian piggeries to gain a new income stream from their waste, which will help support farm operations, grow algae and produce biochar to provide soil nutrients, and increase the sequestration of carbon in soil.

“Pig poo might seem like simple stuff, but it creates a very complex set of environmental problems, which I am pleased to say the CRC CARE/China team has managed to overcome with some lateral thinking and sound, practical, affordable technologies,” he says.

The project involved collaborations with a number of Australian and Chinese small to medium enterprises and its technology is likely to be taken up internationally in countries such as India, as well as in Australia and China.

More information:

Prof. Ravi Naidu, Managing Director, CRC CARE, +61 (0)8 8302 5041 or 0407 720 257
Adam Barclay, Communication Manager, CRC CARE, +61 (0)8 8302 3925 or +61 429 779 228

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Coalition climate policy and practical emissions reductions

Turrum, tuna and kipper fishing
Turrum, tuna and kipper fishing
The project described below is preparing to separate 800,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year from natural gas.
  • To release this carbon dioxide into the atmosphere with a carbon tax of $23 per tonne will cost $18.4 million a year.
  • Under the Coalition's Direct Action policy to release this carbon dioxide into the atmosphere will cost nothing.

There are commercial options that are in addition to these political choices to influence carbon dioxide emissions. The cost of the first option and the value of the second and third options are only estimates for the purposes of illustration:
  • Pay $10 per tonne - for a total expenditure of $8 million a year - to return the carbon dioxide into one of the gas reservoirs in the Bass Strait oil and gas fields.
  • Sell the carbon dioxide for $5 per tonne - for a total revenue of $4 million a year - for algae farming that uses it as a nutrient to produce bio-diesel fuel and cattle fodder.
  • Sell the carbon dioxide for $10 per tonne - for a total revenue of $8 million a year - for SolarGas production from methane and carbon dioxide used as fuel in a combined-cycle gas turbine power station. (Methane to produce 2,400 GWh a year can be converted to SolarGas with 800,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide to produce 3,200 GWh a year from the same power station.)

In Bass Strait the Esso-operated Kipper Tuna Turrum Project is currently one of the largest domestic gas developments on Australia's eastern seaboard. Over the past few years more than 60 kilometres of subsea pipelines, a new offshore platform (Marlin B) and subsea equipment above the Kipper field have been installed. Hook-up and commissioning work is underway to prepare these facilities for operation.

The oil and gas plants at Longford, 20 kilometres from Sale in East Gippsland are the receiving point for oil and gas produced in Bass Strait. They have been operating for more than 40 years and were designed to treat gas from fields developed as part of the original Gippsland operations to meet industry specifications for natural gas product.
Esso's Kipper Tuna Turrum Project, Bass Strait
Esso's Kipper Tuna Turrum Project, Bass Strait

These existing facilities are not able to process gas with the carbon dioxide content of some of the new fields and this is why a Gas Conditioning Plant is now needed.

The Longford Gas Conditioning Plant will not increase the capacity of the existing Longford Plants. Rather, the new facilities will remove carbon dioxide and mercury from the new sources of gas thus enabling processing by the existing Longford Gas Plants. The technology to be used for carbon dioxide and mercury removal is proven, reliable and commonly used around the world, including other parts of Victoria.

The Longford Gas Conditioning Plant is designed to process approximately 11 million cubic metres per day of gas containing up to 15 percent carbon dioxide. The amount of greenhouse gas to be emitted each year by the Gas Conditioning Plant will include about 800,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide separated from the gas.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Australia lagging world in clean technology

The Rest of the World vs Australia

Sinopec cleared to build giant coal-to-gas project

(South China Morning Post)
Eric Ng | August 27, 2013
China Petroleum & Chemical (Sinopec) has received Beijing's approval for a mega project to turn coal into natural gas as part of the mainland's strategy to increase energy efficiency and cut reliance on oil and gas imports.(Read more...)

Foster Wheeler plans China substitute natural gas unit with Wison, Clariant

(Hydrocarbon Processing)
Hydrocarbon Processing | June 13, 2013
The pilot plant will demonstrate Foster Wheeler’s VESTA substitute natural gas (SNG) technology. Under the agreement, Wison Engineering will provide engineering and construction services, Foster Wheeler will license technology, and Clariant will supply the proprietary developed catalyst. (Read more...)

Texas Company to Build Coal Gasification Plant in China

 (Industry Week)
Adrienne Selko | IndustryWeek | April 9, 2013
Houston company Synthesis Energy Systems, Inc.’s agreement with Hainan Dongfang Henghe Energy Development Company Ltd. is for a $1.6 billion coal waste to synthetic natural gas project. (Read more...)
The U-GAS® gasification process
The U-GAS® gasification process

Researchers Outline Carbon Negative Gasification Using Coal

 (Waste Management World)
A. R. Day, cost consultant; A. Williams, GL Noble Denton Ltd; Chris Hodrien, Timmins CCS Ltd. | April 5, 2013
Low cost carbon negative SNG (substitute natural gas) produced from co-gasified waste, biomass and coal, and decarbonised at source prior to injection into the gas transmission system, will assist in decarbonising downstream gas users – power, heat, transport and industry – at no cost to businesses and consumers, without alteration to their existing use of energy, provided that carbon negative SNG is cost competitive with fossil natural gas. (Read more...)

Leading the way in coal to substitute natural gas

 (Digital Refining)
Digital Refining | August 10, 2012
Johnson Matthey is continuing to lead the way in the conversion of coal to substitute natural gas (SNG) in China, as it announces its sixth contract for an SNG plant in the region. The contract entered into between Davy Process Technology (Davy) and Johnson Matthey Catalysts (JM Catalysts), both part of Johnson Matthey Plc, is with Tangshan ENN Yongshun Clean Energy Co., Ltd for a plant to produce SNG using Coke Oven Gas as a feedstock. The scope of the project includes a technology licence, basic engineering design, catalysts and support services for the methanation unit that converts synthesis gas to SNG (Read more...)

Gasification Systems - Gasifier Optimization and Plant Supporting Systems Hybrid Solar Coal Gasifier

Advanced Cooling Technologies, Inc. (ACT) is developing a hybrid solar/coal gasification system and building a proof-of-concept gasifier; demonstrating that coal can be gasified with the hybrid system to generate clean syngas for energy production. The hybrid coal gasification system will be partly powered by solar energy to reduce the energy cost and associated carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. (Read more...)

Tax exemption on all future expansion projects at coal gasification facilities signed into law

North Dakota | Basin Electric Power Cooperative | April 26, 2013
Basin Electric, through its for-profit subsidiary, Dakota Gasification Company, owns and operates the Great Plains Synfuels Plant – the only commercial-scale coal gasification plant in the United States that manufactures natural gas. (Read more...)

RIL selects Phillips 66's E-Gas Technology

Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) on Tuesday announced it has selected Phillips 66’s E-Gas technology for its planned gasification plants at Jamnagar in Gujarat. (Read more...)

Pakistan coal gasification a solution to power crisis

Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry has asked the caretaker government to encourage private sector investment in coal gasification projects that offer one of the most versatile and clean ways to produce electricity. In a statement here, LCCI President Mr Farooq Iftikhar said that 175 billion tonne of Thar coal reserves could provide guaranteed long term energy security to Pakistan.(Read more...)

Wanxiang and GreatPoint Energy Announce $1.25 Billion Investment and Agree to Construct World’s Most Efficient Coal-to-Natural Gas Production Facility in China

The Bluegas hydromethanation technology developed and owned by GreatPoint Energy directly converts coal into pipeline quality natural gas, the cleanest commercial fuel in use globally. GreatPoint Energy’s proprietary technology operates at the highest efficiency with the least environmental impact, and produces natural gas at the lowest cost in the industry. Its water consumption is only half of that of competing gasification systems. Inherent in the technology is the ability to capture nearly all emissions, including carbon dioxide, which can be sequestered and used for oil production through Enhanced Oil Recovery. (Read more...)

Coal gasification for low-emission power generation

CSIRO’s gasification and syngas research is supporting the transition to high-efficiency coal-based energy systems capable of operating with near-zero emissions.. (Read more...)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Economic benefits created by Australian Government budget deficits

Spain's house prices to fall another 30pc as glut keeps growing

The UK Telegraph, by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, 27 December 2012.
Spain's property slump will deepen for much of the next decade, and tracts of buildings along the Mediterranean coast will have to be demolished, the country's top consultants have warned.
Spanish government says the housing market has 'touched bottom' after falling 30pc since 2008
Spanish government says the housing market has 'touched bottom' after falling 30pc since 2008 |  Photo: AFP
Fresh losses could reach 50pc and drag on for 10 to 15 years in those places where construction ran wild during the bubble, bringing the total decline from peak to trough towards 75pc.

"The market is broken," said Fernando Rodríguez de Acuña, the group's vice-president. "We calculate that there are almost 2 million properties waiting to be sold. We have made no progress at all over the past five years in clearing the stock," he said.

March 2013 Euro area unemployment rate...

EUROPA Press Room, 30 April 2013.
Among the Member States, the highest unemployment rates were recorded in Greece (27.2% in January), Spain (26.7%) and Portugal (17.5%).
Compared with a year ago, the unemployment rate increased in nineteen Member States and fell in eight.
In March 2013, the highest youth unemployment rates (young persons under 25) were observed in Greece (59.1% (January 2013)), Spain (55.9%), Italy (38.4%) and Portugal (38.3%).

Spain: who is responsible for the property bubble?

This first part in a series of articles lays out the statistics of bubble and bust, demonstrating the scale of the bubble in Spain and it also makes a number of suggestion as to how to prevent a recurrence. You should note that this article points out Spain’s helplessness due to its lack of control over interest rates as a key impediment to solving the problem. ...