Chinese renewable energy investment company, Wuhan Kaidi has successfully completed the commissioning of an Alter NRG Westinghouse plasma gasification waste to biofuel system at its demonstration facility in Wuhan, China.
According to Canadian plasma gasification specialist, Alter NRG (TSX: NRG; OTCQX: ANRGF), unit is designed to take approximately 100 tons per day of biomass waste and convert it into clean syngas.
The company explained that the clean syngas is then to be converted into diesel fuel and other transportation fuels at the Kaidi facility.
Alter NRG said that the demonstration facility is the first fruits of a broader business plan being implemented by Kaidi, to convert waste biomass in central China into renewable energy utilising the Westinghouse Plasma technology.
Under the contract the plasma specialist said that it has access to operational data from the Kaidi facility.
Walter Howard, CEO of Alter NRG commented: “This is a significant reference plant that shows how our Westinghouse Plasma conversion technology has the ability to take a societal problem of waste products and convert it into useful renewable energy.”
“China is a large market with aggressive mandates for renewable energy and we are excited by the interest in the region for waste to energy technology and the foothold we now have in the China market with Kaidi,” he added.
Wuhan Kaidi originally purchased the Westinghouse Plasma gasifier design and plasma torch systems in 2010.
Is Waste Gasification Finally Coming of Age?
Spurred by government incentives and a stable regulatory environment, Air Products has begun construction of a 50 MW plasma gasification facility in Teesside. With the company already planning a second such plant at the site – as well as others around the country – is the waste industry entering the age of gasification?
U.S. Marines in Hawaii have demonstrated Micro Auto Gasification System (MAGS) which has been developed by Canadian small scale waste gasification technology specialist, Terragon.
According to the Marines, operators start MAGS with diesel fuel, bringing the inside of its insulated drum to temperatures exceeding 1000 degrees Fahrenheit (538 degrees Celsius).
The machine is loaded with waste at a rate of approximately 50 pounds (23 kg) per hour, turning 95% of it into gas which is used as fuel to sustain the process.
The remaining 5% is converted to inert ash which the Marines said can be safely disposed of in landfills, or mixed with compost, asphalt or cement. One machine is capable of meeting the daily waste disposal needs of approximately 1000 troops.
“It’s not burning,” explained Ben Tritt, the MarForPac (Marine Forces, Pacific) science advisor for Office of Naval Research. “It’s gasification under a very controlled environment, and it’s much cleaner than burning… It’s (also) a self-sustaining process.”
“It not only (handles) mixed solid waste,” he continued. “We’ve also done some testing with petroleum, oil and lubricant.
According to Tritt, virtually the only materials MAGS cannot “digest” are glass and metal, which the system sanitises and leaves intact ready to be recycled.
Aside from the environmental and health benefits of reducing landfill usage and burn pits, the Marine Corp said that MAGS, and similar waste to energy, technology can be operated expeditiously in austere and remote environments.
According to the Corp, the system’s mobility provides an economic benefit by greatly reducing the amount of waste that needs to be shipped from the forward operating base to the nearest disposal site.
“The best thing about this machine is not having to load all our trash into Humvees and other vehicles to get it out of our training site,” commented Lance Cpl. James Russell, an electrician with Combat Logistics Battalion 3.
Green Chemicals from Waste Gasification Study
Synthesis Energy Systems, which specialises in the use of gasification to produce energy and fuels is to assess the feasibility and optimal uses of its gasification technology to produce ‘green’ chemicals from waste.
Alter NRG Corp. announced that Wuhan Kaidi, which purchased a Westinghouse Plasma gasifier design, and plasma torch systems, from Alter NRG in 2010, has successfully completed the commissioning of the unit at its demonstration facility in Wuhan, China.
Westinghouse Plasma is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alter NRG that licenses and sells the Westinghouse Plasma technology solutions worldwide. The Westinghouse plasma gasification unit is designed to take approximately 100 tons per day of biomass waste and convert it into clean syngas. The clean syngas is then to be converted into diesel fuel and other transportation fuels at the Kaidi facility.
The demonstration facility is the first instance of a broader business plan being implemented by Kaidi to convert waste biomass in central China utilizing the Westinghouse Plasma technology. Under the contract, Alter NRG has access to operational data from the Kaidi facility.
This is a significant reference plant that shows how our Westinghouse Plasma conversion technology has the ability to take a societal problem of waste products and convert it into useful renewable energy. China is a large market with aggressive mandates for renewable energy and we are excited by the interest in the region for waste-to-energy technology and the foothold we now have in the China market with Kaidi.
On May 18, 2010, Bush Power Group, LLC proposed to the Huntsville City Council what they believe to be a “mutually beneficial cooperative agreement” with the City to develop a plasma gasification plant on the city’s existing landfill project site.
The proposal states that Bush Power Group would finance, construct, manage, and operate the plant. The City of Huntsville is to provide municipal solid waste, sewage sludge, used tires and green waste delivery, as well as infrastructure support such as scales and access roads.
Municipal solid waste (MSW) includes everyday household trash and garbage, consisting of items such as product packaging, grass clippings, furniture, clothing, bottles, food scraps, newspapers, appliances, paint, batteries, and more. According to EnvironmentalExpert.com, 2005 statistics show that U.S. residents generated approximately 4.5 pounds of waste per person per day; more than 245 million tons of MSW in a single year.
StopThePAG (Plasma Arc Gasification plant), a local online Meetup group concerned about the proposed plant and how it could affect the community, are “worried about air pollution, groundwater contamination, property values, and Huntsville’s image.”
Citing an incident in Kapolei, Oahu, where the Asia Pacific Environmental Technology “stored excessive amounts of untreated infectious medical waste at their facility”, violating the state’s rules for solid waste, one StopThePAG organizer writes, “If for some reason they can’t torch the infectious medical waste, it just piles up. If Huntsville’s facility goes off-line, the trash is going to pile up.”
What is plasma gasification?
Basically, plasma gasification is a process, using an electric arc (plasma), that converts complex organic molecules and carbon to saleable assets like metals, slag, a synthetic gas (Syngas), potable water, steam, power, and FT liquids.
A video to explain the process can be found at: www.s4energysolutions.com.
Is plasma gasification technology truly clean and green?
Wes Muir, Director of Communications for Waste Management, Inc. writes that “With the development of the PEM [Plasma Enhanced Melter] technology, gasification technology has progressed to the point of being considered a source of green energy.” In his article, Expanding Waste-Based Renewable Energy, Muir says “it does hold the potential to process a wide range of waste streams to generate clean, renewable fuels and electricity.”
Recovered Energy, Inc. (REI), an independent engineering and consulting firm dedicated to the promotion of the most current technologies for the recovery of energy from waste, investigated approximately 70 different gasification processes and 36 plasma gasification processes. REI concluded that “Waste can be gasified to produce synthesis gas (syngas), which can be used to produce electricity. Gasification technology is well proven. There are more than 100 plasma gasification plants around the world.”
Plasma Waste Recycling, Inc. (PWR) believes “Plasma Waste Recycling is on the leading edge of clean and efficient conversion technology to recover resources and generate electricity…a more efficient, more reliable, and less capital intensive method to convert municipal solid waste (MSW) to energy and recycled materials.”
In the meantime – reduce, reuse, recycle.
Residents of Huntsville participating in the Elkins Lake curbside recycling pilot program may wonder if the proposed gasification plant will render recycling unnecessary. Statistics from the United States EPA state that the nation recycled 83 million tons of municipal solid waste with a 182 million metric ton reduction of carbon dioxide emissions; this is comparable to removing the emissions of 33 million cars off the road. In a word, recycling remains a beneficial way to handle our trash.
Reducing consumption, reusing items (or purchasing reusable items such as cloth diapers and reusable water bottles), and recycling are three key ways to reduce the MSW in our landfills, and by default, reduce their methane emissions. On a pound for pound basis, landfills have 21 times more greenhouse gas effect than the CO2 that comes from gasification.
Unfortunately, while America has reduced the amount of waste being produced in the last decade, there is still an immense amount of garbage headed to landfills.
According to the U.S. EPA 2008 report, Americans generated about 250 million tons of trash. While the number of U.S. landfills steadily declined, the average landfill size has increased.
The Bush Power Group LLC proposes a reduction in Huntsville’s municipal solid waste using plasma gasification to convert waste like household and commercial garbage, plant materials, paint, tires, lithium and lead acid batteries, used motor oil and oil filters, household hazardous waste, items containing CFc’s, and florescent light bulbs into saleable assets.
Houston, Texas based Synthesis Energy Systems (NASDAQ: SYMX), which specialises in the use of gasification to produce energy and fuels, has entered into an agreement with an undisclosed U.S. company to assess the feasibility and optimal uses of its gasification technology to produce ‘green’ chemicals from waste.
Under the agreement Synthesis Energy Systems (SES) said that it is to lead an engineering study, commissioned and funded by the undisclosed company, which will define an optimal use of potential feedstock combinations such as used tires, auto shredder residue and refuse-derived fuel to produce commercially viable chemicals such as methanol and methanol derivatives.
The company explained that the facilities being considered would be expected to have an attractive environmental footprint, as they would process these waste streams with an exceptionally low emissions profile.
SES added that the plants would also have the potential to include nearly complete carbon capture capability.
Fluor Enterprises – a global engineering, procurement, maintenance and construction company – will assist SSE in its efforts.
According to Robert Rigdon, president and CEO of SES, the company’s technology offers the ability to divert wastes from landfill in an environmentally responsible way to produce a variety of high value products.
“Together with Fluor, we plan to use our in-house expertise, intellectual property, and operations experience and to complete the study, which we are hopeful, could form the basis of a technology, equipment and services supply business to meet this growing need,” he explained.
Alter NRG announces USD$1.0 million torch order sale of Westinghouse Plasma torches for industrial furnace applications in China
CALGARY, Jan. 7, 2013
TSX – NRG
OTCQX – ANRGF
CALGARY, Jan. 7, 2013 /CNW/ – (TSX: NRG; OTCQX: ANRGF) Alter NRG Corp. (“Alter NRG” or the “Company”) announces that it has signed a contract to deliver 4 of its Marc 3 Westinghouse Plasma torch systems for approximately USD$1 million. A 40% deposit has been received and the torches are expected to begin assembly immediately with final delivery in the first quarter of 2013. The initial order is part of a larger master agreement valued at approximately USD$12 million with additional orders expected in 2013.
Beijing Huanyu Guanchuan Plasma Technology Ltd. (GuanChuan) is using the torches for their industrial furnace applications related to the steel and iron industry in China. The application is focused on the retrofit of ferrous alloy furnaces to utilize plasma power as opposed to the conventional fossil fuels and electrodes currently used for heating. Through the use of plasma, the new furnace system will both improve economic efficiencies and environmental emissions of the steel manufacturing facilities in China.
According to Mr. Huang Geng, Chief Technology Officer of Guanchuan, “WPC is a proven leader in its field in plasma gasification and the plasma torch system. Their systems have been proven commercially and represent significant market potential for the industrial furnace retrofits in China. China is the world’s largest steel producer and this application of Westinghouse Plasma torches will be used to reduce the overall emissions profile and operating costs in the steel facilities.”
Walt Howard, CEO of Alter NRG believes that “the plasma torch market is a promising opportunity for our Company as customers look to reduce their cost structure and carbon footprint. The plasma torch sales have a much shorter sales cycle without the regulatory hurdles of a full energy facility, as well as being a mature product offering with significant commercial history. We have been working with this specific customer over the past 3 years and believe that this order is the first of multiple orders penetrating this large segment.”
By Asit Biswas and Julian Kirchherr China Daily
Shale gas in China could become a game changer. With recoverable resources of up to 36.1 trillion cubic meters, China has the world’s largest deposit of shale gas, and if accessed properly, it could turn its energy problem on its head.
China’s economy runs on coal. In 2011, China produced 3.8 billion tons of coal, almost half of the world’s total. But coal’s carbon footprint is devastating in terms of global warming – 1 ton of coal produces up to 2.86 tons of carbon dioxide. Shale gas emits about 45 percent less per unit of energy and could thus help China to reduce its carbon footprint significantly.
China’s shale gas exploitation is still at a nascent stage and its drillings are mostly exploratory, and it has not yet started large-scale commercial production. But it released its first five-year plan for shale gas exploitation in March 2012, which has ambitious goals. By 2015, the country aims to produce as much as 6.5 billion cubic meters of shale gas a year, which would be equivalent to 3 percent of China’s total gas production in 2015. And by 2020, it intends to produce up to 100 billion cubic meters of shale gas.
A major obstacle in accessing shale gas is technology. Shale gas is produced through hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, which is highly sophisticated and complex. Only the United States has been able to exploit shale gas commercially on a large scale, which means China has to enter strategic partnerships with foreign governments and/or companies, at least in the initial years, to acquire the technology and skills necessary for rapid shale gas exploitation.
Indeed, the US and China launched a joint shale gas initiative in 2009, PetroChina entered a long-term partnership with BP in July 2010, and Shell signed its first production-sharing contract for shale gas with China National Petroleum Corporation in March 2012. Besides, Statoil is in initial talks with Shenhua Geological Exploration to jointly develop shale gas projects, and Chevron and ConocoPhillips are engaged in Chinese shale gas joint ventures.
These partnerships are likely to boost China’s technological capability significantly. But even with mature and competitive equipment, China may not be able to duplicate the American shale gas revolution because of shortage of water. Producing shale gas requires massive amounts of water, which become heavily contaminated. And water is scarce in China, especially in regions that have the largest shale gas reserves. For example, the Tarim Basin in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region holds some of the largest shale gas deposits but it is also among most water-scarce areas of China.
What role does water play in the shale gas production? Large amounts of water, fine sand and chemical substances have to be injected into the ground under high pressure to break shale rocks to release the gas trapped in them. The International Energy Agency estimates that fracking may require up to 20,000 cubic meters of water per well. Therefore, shale gas rigs usually operate near large reservoirs, not in water-scare areas.
The water problem, however, could be solved by setting up closed loop systems. Depending on the geology, between 20 and 50 percent of the water injected in the ground flows back to the surface. Simply re-injecting this wastewater may reduce a well’s total water requirement significantly. In western Texas, the average water use per well has decreased from about 18,500 cubic meters to 13,600 cubic meters because of increased re-injection of wastewater.
Re-injection could also solve the second water problem associated with shale gas: contaminated wastewater. The wastewater contains not only the chemicals originally injected into the ground, but also heavy metals and minerals from shale rocks. Scientists disagree whether it is possible to recycle all the wastewater that fracking generates, but re-injection could solve this problem to a large extent.
Re-injection, however, may not solve the third water problem. If water is not injected into the ground properly, it could cause the injected fluids and chemicals to seep into groundwater and surface water. A study undertaken by Duke University in Pennsylvania shows shale gas production could seriously contaminate groundwater, and that methane concentrations in drinking water were 17 times higher within a 1-km radius of an active shale gas well than those farther away.
Methane is a dangerous and inflammable gas, and consuming water with high levels of the methane can lead to a variety of health implications such as nausea and dizziness. Also, being a dangerous greenhouse gas, methane traps 20 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.
Since shale gas production in China is in its infancy, there is no comprehensive regulatory system in place. But with the country now auctioning exploration blocks, a sound shale gas regulatory system is needed to ensure long-term exploitation.
Moreover, China must manage its water resources carefully because it is already facing serious water scarcity. For example, the Water Resources Group, led by McKinsey & Company, projects that if China continues with its business as usual practices, its demand for water will soon outstrip supply by 199 billion cubic meters.
A regulatory framework for shale gas should be established to set strict standards for the maximum amount of water that can be used by a well, and measures have to be taken to prevent the shale gas industry from competing with Chinese citizens for water. Steps should be taken to compel companies to adopt the most water-efficient technologies and disclose the amount and toxicity of the wastewater they generate. And the companies should be encouraged to re-inject as much wastewater as possible and obliged to reveal the names and quantities of chemicals they use.
More importantly, baselines for key environmental indicators such as groundwater quality before fracking should be established so that water quality can be monitored reliably.
Only when such regulations are in place can exploitation of shale gas in China benefit the current as well as the future generations.
Asit Biswas is a distinguished visiting professor at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Singapore, and founder of Third World Centre for Water Management, and Julian Kirchherr is a graduate student on public policy and management at the London School of Economics and National University of Singapore.
Financial Times January 4, 2013 5:46 pm Abramovich invests in ‘gas-to-liquids’ in UK By Guy Chazan
Roman Abramovich, the billionaire owner of Chelsea Football Club, has invested £5m in a small UK technology company that specialises in turning natural gas into synthetic liquid fuels. Mr Abramovich’s Ervington Investments took part in a placing this week by Oxford Catalysts, which raised £30.6m. He bought 4m shares at 125p a share, giving him a 3.5 per cent stake in the Aim-quoted company. The shares closed on Friday at 155p.
Oxford Catalysts’ business is focused on a technology known as “gas-to-liquids” or GTL, which uses chemical reactions to physically change the composition of gas molecules, yielding a high-quality liquid fuel. This can then be blended with crude or upgraded to produce diesel or jet fuel. GTL is based on the so-called Fischer-Tropsch process, pioneered in Germany during the 1920s and later used by the Nazis during the second world war to turn coal into badly needed petroleum. Later, South Africa adopted the technology as a UN-led embargo against the country’s apartheid regime blocked oil imports.
Royal Dutch Shell has led the revival of global interest in GTL, building a huge refinery in Qatar called Pearl which turns the emirate’s abundant natural gas into an odourless, colourless fuel similar to diesel but without the sooty pollutants. It is now considering building a GTL plant in the US, where the boom in shale gas has provided a cheap and plentiful feedstock. Oxford Catalysts is spearheading a different approach, focusing on the construction of small, modular GTL plants which can be deployed at remote oilfields. These convert gas that is extracted as a byproduct of oil and would otherwise be simply burnt off or “flared” into the atmosphere. Other companies are working on similar approaches: the Brazilian state oil company Petrobras is piloting a small reactor developed by CompactGTL for some of its offshore oil installations. Roy Lipski, chief executive of Oxford Catalysts, said, “We are delighted to welcome new investors Ervington Investments and Invesco on board along with our existing institutional shareholders. We look forward to building on our selection for two commercial projects and to commercialising our GTL technology in the oil & gas sector.”
Oxford Catalysts was spun out of Oxford university and floated on AIM in 2006. It took off two years later when it acquired US-based Velocys. a leading designer of chemical reactors. Velocys is providing the reactors for GreenSky London, a venture between British Airways and Solena Fuels Corp. which will convert waste destined for landfill into low-carbon jet fuel and biodiesel.
Mr Abramovich, who made his fortune in the Russian oil industry, has recently made a number of investments in clean tech. Last November, his vehicle, Ervington Investments, injected £8.67m in UK-based AFC Energy, which specialises in industrial fuel cell technology. It has also invested in energy-from-waste company Waste2tricity and Alter NRG, which converts organic matter into synthetic gas using plasma technologies.
British Airways pledges 10-year offtake agreement as GreenSky project with Solena gathers momentum
Artist’s impression of proposed Solena facility
Fri 30 Nov 2012 – The British Airways and Solena GreenSky London project to build a sustainable jet biofuel facility in East London is gaining momentum, say the two partners. They won’t reveal the location but an exclusive option on a site for the facility and consent work has begun, with the aim of having it operational and in production by 2015. The airline has now confirmed its commitment to purchasing, at “market competitive” prices, the anticipated 50,000 tonnes of jet fuel produced annually by the plant for the next 10 years, which equates to around $500 million at today’s price for conventional jet kerosene. Barclays has been appointed as advisor to explore the optimal funding through export credit agencies and the consortium providing the facility’s key technology functions has also been announced. British Airways expects enough sustainable fuel be produced to power two per cent of its fleet departing from London Airports.
“We are delighted that the GreenSky London project is getting ever closer to fruition,” said Keith Williams, the Chief Executive of British Airways, which is aiming to reduce its net carbon emissions by 50% by 2050. “With world-class technology partners now in place, we are well on our way to making sustainable aviation fuel a reality by 2015.”
Around 500,000 tonnes of municipal waste normally sent to landfills will be converted annually into 50,000 tonnes of biodiesel, bionaphtha and renewable power at the facility as well as the 16 million gallons of jet fuel. Solena Fuels Corporation will provide the proprietary high-temperature gasification process that converts the waste into synthetic gas and the overall Integrated Biomass Gasification to Liquids (IBGTL) solution.
The Fischer-Tropsch reactors and catalyst that will convert the cleaned synthetic gas into liquid hydrocarbons, such as diesel and jet fuel, will be supplied by Oxford Catalysts. Marketed under the brand name Velocys, the company says its systems are significantly smaller than those using conventional technology, enabling modular plants that can be deployed more cost-effectively in remote locations and on smaller scales than is possible with competing systems. Fluor Corporation, which has extensive international experience in project execution and biofuel projects, is providing engineering services to support Solena and has started the pre-front end engineering and design for the project.
On the financing, a Competitive Letter of Interest has been obtained from one of the export credit agencies, including associated term funding. More than 150 jobs are expected to be created to operate the facility, with 1,000 workers involved during the construction.
An independent life-cycle assessment by UK-based North Energy Associates of the Solena jet biofuel showed that greenhouse gas savings exceeded both the 60% requirement of the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED) and the 50% minimum of the methodology established by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB).
“Our GreenSky London project will provide clean, sustainable fuels at market competitive prices that will help address British Airways’ sustainability goals,” said Dr Robert Do, CEO of Solena. “The British Airways offtake agreement represents the largest advanced biofuel commitment ever made by an airline and clearly demonstrates the airline’s leadership and vision in achieving its carbon emission reduction targets.”
Lufthansa has signed a MoU with Solena Fuels Corporation to work to produce a sustainable biofuel source. Solena has identified a site for its first Sustainable Biofuel Facility in Germany at the PCK Industry Park in Schwedt/Oder. The project will sell to Lufthansa the bio synthetic paraffinic kerosene (Bio-SPK) produced by the facility as a drop-in, certified jet fuel with the aim to be prospectively used on commercial flights. The project will be a first of its kind in Central Europe providing large scale diversion of waste from landfills and incinerators into synthetic biofuels to be used on commercial basis.
“Lufthansa is pleased to assist Solena in developing its first plant in Germany and is working towards a long-term, bankable offtake agreement with Solena Fuels,” stated Joachim Buse, Vice President Aviation Biofuels for Lufthansa. Mr. Buse continued, “We believe that Solena’s capabilities to process multiple types of waste feedstock represent a good opportunity in our endeavor to meet our emission reduction commitments.”
The facility will convert more than 520,000 tonnes of waste biomass into jet fuel, diesel fuel and electricity. Solena and Lufthansa have signed a MoU for the joint development of a sustainable alternative fuel supply which would include delivery to Berlin Brandenburg Airport.
“Solena Fuels is excited to be partnering with Lufthansa in the development of a sustainable biofuels facility in Germany,” stated Dr. Robert Do, CEO of Solena Fuels. “Lufthansa has been a pioneer in the biofuels industry and we are pleased to see their support to FT-SPK, an industry accepted fuel which meets and exceeds ETS standards based on both Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB) schemes and Renewable Energy Directive (RED) methodology for Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) evaluation”, continued Dr. Do
A group of 10 airlines has teamed up to sign letters of intent with US bioenergy firm Solena to purchase alternative jet fuel derived from waste biomass from 2015.
The group, which is led by American Airlines and United Airlines, also includes Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, FedEx, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Lufthansa, Southwest Airlines and US Airways.
Under the agreement, Solena’s GreenSky California biomass-to-liquids facility will supply the airlines with 1,000 barrels a day of jet fuel derived from urban and agricultural waste, said United Airlines managing director strategic sourcing-fuel Robert Sturtz.
The fuel will be divided among the airlines as a “proportional split based on the size of the carrier”, and will be burned as a 50/50 blend with traditional kerosene, said Sturtz. It will be taken by truck from Solena’s plant in northern California – which will be built in 2013 – to airports in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose, where the aircraft will be fuelled.
“This is an intent to purchase which will eventually become individual fuel supply agreements between each individual airline and Solena,” said Sturtz, adding that the deal will be finalised “over the next year”.
The Solena plant will produce up to 16 million gal of neat jet fuel a year by 2015, converting about 550,000 metric tons of waste that would otherwise have gone to landfill into fuel through the Fischer-Tropsch process.
The Arlanda project will gasify waste biomass, including municipal solid waste, and process the resulting syngas it into bio-based synthetic paraffinic kerosene, or renewable jet fuel. Solena, which had previously announced a 14 million gallon biofuels project with British Airways, in which BA would take an equity stake, and said that the SAS project would have similar characteristics. Solena and Qantas also recently announced a development effort.
AvioNews – Agreement between Alitalia and Solena Group
Rome, Italy – To start a study on the reconversion of metropolitan solid waste in bio-fuel for
(WAPA) – Alitalia’s CEO Rocco Sabelli, CEO of Solena Group Robert Do and the one of Solena Italia Stefano Bugliosi, signed a letter of intent with which Alitalia and Solena Group commit themselves to start a feasibility study about the building of a plant capable of converting urban solid waste (promiscuous bio-masses) in a relevant share of the jet-fuel required for aircraft of Alitalia, ensuring the reduction of greenhouse gases and the stability of supplies. The signing of the agreement was attended by the Honorable Willer Bordon, president of Enalg SpA, company partner of Solena Group SpA and holding of Solena Italia SpA.
The study is finalised to assess the feasibility of a plant capable of converting hundreds of thousands of tonnes of urban solid waste (promiscuous bio-mass) in bio fuel for aircraft, in order to meet part of the fuel needs of Alitalia, reducing the consumption of conventional jet fuel with the consequent reduction (up to 96%) of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.
The use of Solena Group’s technology will allow to produce alternative fuel for aircraft, through an high temperature gasification process of the waste that will be transformed into a so-called “Syngas”. This gas then will be converted into liquid thanks to an industrial chemical process called Fischer-Tropsch.
BrightSource Walks Away From Rio Mesa ‘For Now’ By Chris Clarke KCET TV (Burbank, CA)
BrightSource Energy, which had called its planned 500-megawatt Rio Mesa concentrating solar project a crucial step in developing reliable solar power generation, now says it’s putting that project on hold. Citing mounting obstacles to the project, the company has backed out of a controversial contract to sell energy from the plant to Southern California Edison (SCE), and says it will be focusing its efforts on the nearby proposed Palen Solar Power plant in Riverside County.
Artist’s conception, Rio Mesa solar project | Image courtesy California Energy Commission
The firm made its announcement by way of an interview with reporter K Kaufmann in the Palm Springs Desert Sun on Saturday. Joe Desmond, BrightSource’s vice president for government affairs, told Kaufmann that demands for further study of the project’s likely environmental and economic impacts meant BrightSource “could no longer meet the commercial terms of our agreement for the project.” The plant would have needed approval from the California Energy Commission by June in order to meet the terms of its power purchase agreement with SCE.
The project, proposed for 4,070 acres of open desert south of Blythe, would have generated a maximum of 500 megawatts of electrical power by way of two 250-megawatt steam turbines mounted atop 750-foot towers. Each tower would have been surrounded by tens of thousands of mirrored heliostats which would have focused solar energy on the turbines’ boilers.
The Rio Mesa project has been beset by one obstacle after another over the past few months. In early 2012 news got out that surveyors had found what has turned out to be a world-class Ice Age fossil deposit on the site, with finds including mammoth ivory and what appears to be an entire fossilized desert tortoise burrow, complete with unhatched eggs.
In October, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved just one of two power purchase agreements between BrightSource and SCE for power from Rio Mwsa, citing the high projected cost of power as its reason for denying the other:
The [Rio Mesa 1 and 2] projects compare poorly on price and value relative to other solar thermal projects offered to SCE at the time the amended and restated PPAs were being negotiated and executed. SCE had the option to choose from 18 of 19 solar thermal projects totaling over 2,300 MW in combined capacity resulting from its 2011 RPS Solicitation that were all materially higher in value than the Rio Mesa 1 and Rio Mesa 2 projects.
As we reported in October, the CPUC approved one of the Rio Mesa power purchase agreements, rather than vetoing both, in an effort to lend support to BrightSource’s development of solar thermal storage technology. In thermal storage plants, solar heat is used to melt a substance, usually a salt, which can then heat fluid in a boiler well after the sun sets. In a meeting with ReWire in October, BrightSource’s Joe Desmond characterized his firm’s planned thermal storage technology as a likely solution to renewable energy’s pesky intermittency problem — the fact that solar panels stop producing power when the sun goes down, just as people start turning on their electric lights.
Rio Mesa would not have incorporated thermal storage technology, but Desmond told ReWire in October that BrightSource would be approaching that technology by increment, with Rio Mesa one of the steps along the way. “We can’t just jump into building thermal storage without experience with the second phase of our technology, which we’ve planned for Rio Mesa,” Desmond said. When the CPUC approved one of Rio Mesa’s power purchaser agreements, it was with the explicit understanding that this was a ratepayer investment in thermal storage technology, which BrightSource hoped to implement in a planned 540-megawatt plant, Sonoran West, northwest of Rio Mesa.
Though paleontology and expensive power were definitely stumbling blocks for BrightSource, the biggest obstacle to Rio Mesa was very likely concern over the plant’s impact on wildlife, especially of the flying variety. For months, wildlife advocates including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have asked pointed questions about the effect of concentrated solar energy, called “solar flux,” from the projects’ thousands of mirrors on birds, bats and insects who fly into the path of the concentrated energy. The mirrors themselves also pose a potential threat, likely appearing as open water or sky and suggesting the possibility that animals would fly into the mirrors and be injured. Fish and Wildlife recently weighed in with an extensive list of concerns over insufficient data by which to gauge threats from the Rio Mesa project to local wildlife, either living in the adjacent desert or visiting from the nearby Cibola National Wildlife Refuge.
Much of the concern over mirror collisions and solar flux injury has been directed equally toward Rio Mesa and its near-twin, BrightSource’s proposed Hidden Hills project east of Death Valley. The issues shared by the two proposals were similar enough that California Energy Commission combined proceedings on the two projects as regards wildlife issues. The impact on Hidden Hills of the Rio Mesa back-burnering remains to be seen. Though Hidden Hills doesn’t have an adjacent National Wildlife Refuge, it does host a significant avian population due to nearby springs, sky-island mountain ranges and the Amargosa River.
BrightSource says that the company’s focus post-Rio Mesa will be on getting its Palen project up and running, which almost certainly involves setting the clock back on getting the firm’s “phase two” technology field tested. BrightSource bought Palen in 2012 from the bankrupt German firm Solar Millennium, and is redesigning the project from the solar trough thermal Solar Millennium had planned to BrightSource’s power tower technology. That redesign will certainly mean months of agency processes to catch up with where Rio Mesa was prior to this week, meaning likely delays in BrightSource’s implementation of its thermal storage technology at Sonoran West.