Few noticed, but the seeds for the coal industry’s survival and the utility industry’s ability to keep coal-fired capacity in its generation portfolio were sown in the past couple of months.
One of those seeds was the official opening Oct. 2 of SaskPower’s Boundary Dam integrated carbon capture control project in Estevan, Saskatchewan. The project will capture 90 percent of the carbon dioxide generated at the 110 megawatt facility, an estimated 1 million metric tons annually (as well as 90 percent of the facility’s sulfur dioxide emissions), using Shell Oil’s Cansolv process. The CO2 is being sold to Cenovus, a Calgary-based oil company, which will be using it in enhanced oil recovery (EOR) operations at the Weyburn field in the southern portion of the province. A portion of the captured CO2 also will be piped to SaskPower’s nearby research facility where it will be injected about two miles underground in a brine-filled sandstone formation to prove that deep storage is a safe, workable alternative. That portion of the project will be overseen by Canada’s Petroleum Technology Research Center (PTRC).
The project has a $1.4 billion price tag, but the utility is quick to note that the CCS portion is just $600 million, with the remainder going to refurbish the aging power plant and install the SO2 controls. The Canadian government contributed $240 million to the project.
Continue reading Coal’s Future
Than You Think
Just weeks after announcing plans to build an innovative solar/storage project in Rutland, VT, Green Mountain Power is at it again. On Tuesday, the company—whose motto is to be the “best small utility in America’’—unveiled a partnership with NRG Energy that may be the first step toward creating a new utility business model for the future—one that embraces distributed generation and customer involvement.
The GMP-NRG partnership will focus initially on Rutland as well, but the companies have much bigger goals in mind once the 2015 rollout is completed, planning to expand throughout the Green Mountain state and serve, in essence, as a template for the electric utility of the future.
Continue reading GMP-NRG Partnership
Looks To Create
New Utility Model
Love him or hate him, you have to respect David Crane and his team at Princeton, NJ-based NRG Energy for staying on target. Crane, the sprawling energy firm’s president and CEO, has said repeatedly over the past several years that the electric utility industry needs to rethink its approach or face potential obsolescence.
New technologies–economic residential solar and energy storage in particular–are changing the power delivery equation, Crane says, and that requires major changes within the industry if utilities want to remain viable businesses in the years ahead.
In keeping with the company’s desire to do thinks differently, Crane and NRG posted the job ad at right earlier this week. If you know someone that fits the bill, be sure and recommend them–it could be worth $100,000. And for those entrepreneurial utility executives out there looking for a challenge, you can always apply directly. The finder’s fee then goes to charity, but you are still likely to have a fascinating ride at a company determined to help shape the future.