Water Journal : Water Journal August 2011
industry news regular features 24 AUGUST 2011 water "More than 70 per cent of survey participants agreed or strongly agreed that energy and commodity prices would rise significantly in the next five years, signifying tremendous capital investment needs across the nation's electric utility system," said Rodger Smith, President of Black & Veatch's management consulting business. "Additionally, there is a growing awareness of the nexus of water and energy issue within the industry. For the first time, water supply has become the top environmental concern among survey participants and water management was rated as the business issue that could have the greatest impact on the utility industry." Additional survey highlights include: • Lack of national energy policy impedes investment in new technology. When asked in the survey what factors most motivate the industry to invest in new technology, the two highest rated responses where "Regulatory Requirements" and "Government Incentives", respectively. • Smart Grid programs are hamstrung by "lack of customer interest and knowledge". Survey participants rate customer engagement as the greatest impediment to implementing Smart Grid programs in their areas. • Coal will remain an important part of the US energy mix. More than 77 per cent of respondents -- virtually the same percentage as last year's survey results -- believe that when fiscal realities are considered, coal remains key in the US energy portfolio. • Nuclear fuel disposal and storage is one of the top environmental concerns among survey participants after the earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. • Natural gas "leapfrogs" nuclear and wind as the top "environmentally friendly" technology among all survey participants. However, utility respondents still prefer nuclear. This is first time natural gas has taken the top spot in this category, indicating gas as an economical and environmentally attractive bridge toward a lower carbon future -- particularly since survey participants believe shale gas will be available at a reasonable price for the next 20 years. • Approximately 20 per cent of survey respondents are planning energy storage projects, indicating this technology is moving into more mainstream segments. This also correlates with other survey responses where participants believe energy storage will have an important role within their systems beyond the next five years. • Survey participants are optimistic that electric vehicles will account for approximately eight per cent of their annual energy load by 2025. Participants estimate electric vehicles will account for one per cent of their annual energy load by as early as next year. Nationwide, one per cent of annual energy load equates to approximately 5300 megawatts of baseload (nuclear, coal, biomass, geothermal or hydro) capacity -- the energy equivalent to power more than five million homes. • The US is at risk of losing its global competitive position in utility technology. Specifically, respondents believe US solar, nuclear and wind industries are at some risk of losing their competitive positions. More than 80 per cent of respondents believe China is the greatest threat to the United States' overall energy competitiveness. The full survey and analysis is available to view online at: www.bv.com/electricutilitytrends. Carbon Storage Project Trials Begin at CO2CRC Otway Project A series of research trials into the geological storage of carbon dioxide, part of the low-emission technology carbon capture and storage (CCS), have begun at the CO2CRC Otway Project in Victoria. The experiments, led by the Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Technologies (CO2CRC), are part of the $10 million second stage of the project, which is focused on saline formations, geological structures with the potential to permanently store hundreds of years' worth of carbon dioxide emissions. An international research team has been assembled by the Centre, and includes researchers from leading Australian research organisations, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (USA), Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources (KIGAM), Canada's Simon Fraser University and New Zealand's GNS Science. The team will use a new 1565-metre well at the site to undertake a complex series of extractions and injections of carbon dioxide and water over the next two months, evaluating storage capacity and security. A 28-metre instrument array, installed 1400 metres underground in the same well into which the carbon dioxide is injected, will measure pressure, temperature and tracer gas concentrations, while a 'U-tube' system will allow the team to chemically analyse samples of water and dissolved gas direct from the reservoir, at pressures equivalent to 1400 metres underground. "The Otway Project has been demonstrating safe storage of carbon dioxide in a depleted gas reservoir since 2008," says CO2CRC Chief Executive Dr Peter Cook, "and the successful first stage provided a great deal of highly useful information on monitoring, verification and regulation of CCS. "This second stage involves research aimed at tackling some of the key outstanding research questions regarding storage capacity and security in types of rocks found in many parts of the world. It will enable CO2CRC to produce practical tools for commercial CCS projects that will make it easier to evaluate a potential reservoir." The CO2CRC Otway Project in Victoria.
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