CM Gennaro Celebrates Passage of Law Clearing Way for Geothermal Energy

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PHOTO CAPTION: Speaking out in support of alternate forms of energy: Councilman James F. Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) discusses geothermal energy before a vote on Tuesday, April 9, 2013 by the New York City Council to clear the way for the technology to be implemented in buildings throughout the city. Pictured (l. to r.): Council members Andy King, Diana Reyna, Gennaro, Gale Brewer and Council Speaker Christine Quinn. (Credit: William Alatriste)

Councilman James F. Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) lauded the passage Tuesday of the latest in a series of measures meant to secure a sustainable future and local ‘green’ jobs for the City of New York.

The bill, Int. 694-A, clears the way for the study of geothermal energy – an already existing technology that harnesses the energy from the sun’s rays stored in the upper level of the Earth’s crust to heat homes and businesses in the winter and cool them in the summer.

“New Yorkers may not realize that there is an unlimited supply of clean, renewable energy right underneath their feet. Geothermal energy involves harnessing the power of the sun’s rays stored in the upper levels of the Earth’s crust. This bill clears the way for a comprehensive study into unlocking this enormous energy potential for homes and businesses throughout our city,” said Gennaro, chair of the Council Committee on Environmental Protection. “Already there are local ‘green’ businesses ready to reap the economic benefits of geothermal energy. I want to thank Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Mayor Bloomberg for their unwavering support in building a sustainable future for all New Yorkers.”

Geothermal energy works by tapping into the Earth’s constant temperature, just below the Earth’s surface, where the temperature is a stable 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit.

In winter, geothermal systems transfer heat from underground into buildings. In summer, the system is reversed, transferring heat from buildings down into the ground.

“Unlike solar or wind, geothermal is a consistent source of energy. No matter what’s happening on the surface, the energy stored just under our feet will be available to provide for the heating and cooling needs of families and workers throughout our city,” Gennaro said.

This bill requires the Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability to create a map of the city showing where geothermal energy systems are appropriate based on geologic conditions. That map will then be made available to the public.

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Kenyan Ambassador To Speak At New York Geothermal Conference

Nairobi

The one day gathering in NYC will feature updates on geothermal technology, financing new power plants, public and private sector perspectives, practical project management insights, risks and rewards and government policies.

Kenya’s geothermal power potential is at least 7,000 MW and there are over a dozen development projects in some stage of design. Though the development of about 5,000 MW of clean energy may not seem that monumental, it should be noted that currently less than 20% of Kenyans have access to electricity. (At the moment, geothermal provides about 13% of Kenya’s electricity and by 2020, that percentage could be 30.)

Another important point is that burning wood is a major source of energy in Kenya – primarily for cooking – and this prevalent practice results in much deforestation and CO2 emissions.  Deforestation reduces rainfall, which further reduces the number of trees and other plants that constitute forests, so there is a vicious cycle culminating in droughts, and loss of biodiversity.

Wild animals and beautiful natural landscapes are a huge draw for foreign tourists and there may be as many as 100,000 Kenyans employed by the tourist industry or in related jobs. If biodiversity declines, the impact on the national economy could be significant. So, geothermal development is not only about clean energy, it also could become a way of reducing the burning of wood fuel and therefore help conserve forests and biodiversity.

‘Ambassador Odembo represents a country that is working in sync with organizations like the World Bank to fulfill its electricity needs with clean and renewable geothermal energy,’ said GEA Executive Director Karl Gawell. The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) is made up of U.S. companies who support  geothermal energy and are developing geothermal facilities around the world for clean, renewable energy production.

Odembo’ undergraduate degree is in Biology and Sociology, and he has a Master’s in public health.
Read more at http://cleantechnica.com/2013/03/27/kenyan-ambassador-to-speak-at-new-york-geothermal-conference/#7sBkdoBVpBcF3QBo.99

Natural gas vehicles are coming to Pennsylvania

Los Angeles Auto Show Previews Latest Car Models

Today the term Marcellus Shale is a household name. It’s transformed Pennsylvania’s economy and has elevated the state’s energy profile. Recent production figures from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection illustrate the prolific nature of this play. Production topped 895 billion cubic feet of natural gas for the first six months of 2012, pushing the total production over 2.5 trillion cubic feet since 2008.

How big is this? Pennsylvania has gone from importing 75 percent of its natural gas just five years ago to being a net exporter today.

Thanks to an abundance of this resource, much attention has been focused on its safe and responsible development. However, another area gaining attention is the role natural gas plays in our transportation sector.

With substantial cost saving and environmental benefits, employing more vehicles fueled by natural gas will put us on the road to a cleaner energy future. The increasing attention on natural gas as a transportation fuel is evident in a variety of ways.

Nearly 200 people attended a recent Natural Gas Utilization Conference in State College. Hundreds of residents are attending PA Department of Environmental Protection’s natural gas vehicle workshops.

The Turnpike Commission is engaged in a study looking at the feasibility of liquefied natural gas stations along the turnpike. Even at the recent annual ShaleNET Workforce Forum, the discussion included new careers in transportation related to NGVs and natural gas fueling infrastructure.

Announcements have been made by auto manufacturers such as Chrysler to offer bi-fuel engines on its Ram model, and Honda is increasing production of its natural gas Civic.  Other auto manufacturers such as Ford and GM also offer natural gas fleet options and all heavy duty truck manufacturers now offer natural gas in their lineup.
In addition, engine manufacturers are developing natural-gas powered engines for on-road and off-road equipment.

To support these new natural gas vehicles, drivers need fueling infrastructure. In response, numerous cities and companies have announced plans to open natural gas fueling stations for public and private use nationwide.

And Pennsylvania is leading that charge. Chesapeake Energy has announced the development of several compressed natural gas filling stations in the Northern Tier to fuel its vehicles while opening the stations to the public. EQT has had a public CNG station opened for more than a year in Pittsburgh’s Strip District.

Other companies have recently opened CNG stations in Bucks and Delaware counties and more are being planned throughout the state — including LNG stations.

Building on these infrastructure and auto manufacturing announcements, the Department of Environmental Protection has aggressively been educating the public on its natural gas energy development program.

Through public workshops and via its website, DEP is helping consumers, fleet owners and public officials make informed decisions on utilizing natural gas as a transportation fuel.

To put a finer point on the potential benefits, natural gas use in power generation has helped achieve the lowest carbon dioxide emissions in 20 years, with significantly lower smog and ozone-causing emissions as well. It can similarly help clean up transportation emissions. It’s also cheaper than conventional gas and diesel — by more than 50 percent.

That’s more money kept in our communities and in your pockets. Costs to convert fleets can be recaptured in short order, helping businesses save money, expand their operations and increase their competitiveness in a national and global economy.

Using more natural gas vehicles is a solution to help Pennsylvania and other states reach their clean air goals.  Thanks to an abundance of supply and exciting advances in vehicle and engine production, we can safely and responsibly use this resource to get on the road to a cleaner transportation future.

Low Cost Cooling

Geothermal Home Heating What Is Geothermal Home Heating

I was visiting a friend from college this weekend, and as her husband had warned, I was woken early Saturday by the noise of the workman completing the installation of the geothermal heating and cooling system for the house.

It was a welcome wake-up to tell you the truth. Blistering heat is blanketing much of the eastern United States, the kind that kills people who can’t get relief. Though I’m no fan of air conditioning, it has become essential equipment in most U.S. homes — 87 percent of households now have it, up 20 percent since 1993 years ago.

But climate control comes at a cost. The average household spends more than $2,200 a year on energy bills, with nearly half of this going to heating and cooling. Saving money was one of the main reasons my friends installed a geothermal system. They say it should “cut their household heating and cooling costs by 70 percent.”

What struck me first was how quiet the system was compared to the average home AC, and the cool was more natural, more comfortable to the skin. But what truly sets geothermal apart is how much more energy efficient it is than electric heating and cooling. These systems can move as much as three to five times the energy they use in the process, which is why users can save hundreds of dollars in energy costs each year. And because geothermal systems are transferring heat, not creating it by burning something, they do not emit carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, or other greenhouse gasses which contribute to air pollution. In contrast, the average home with an AC and no geothermal is emitting roughly 2 tons of carbon dioxide annually.

More than 600,000 geothermal systems supply climate control in U.S. homes and other buildings, with new installations occurring at a rate of about 60,000 per year. Though a mere fraction of the market, recent policy developments are offering strong incentives for homeowners to install more. The 2008 economic stimulus bill, Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, includes an eight year extension (through 2016) of the 30 percent investment tax credit, with no upper limit, to all home installations of EnergyStar certified geothermal heat pumps.

Though the tax credit may cut the upfront costs in half, installing geothermal in your yard takes time and planning, and depending on where you live, may not even be possible. Actually, once planned, installing a geothermal system should take no more than a couple weeks, but that said, you are probably wondering whether there are any low cost cooling ideas that you can use at your house right now, to battle this week’s heat. And yes, there are. The secret lies in reducing the need for the AC by keeping light and heat to a minimum, creating breezeways in your house and being sure your equipment is the most energy efficient. Here are some specific suggestions to get you through the hottest days ahead:

Shade the house: Awnings, shutters and overhangs will provide a good defense against the summer sun, but you may also use trees and tall bushes to beautify your view and reduce the sunlight entering your windows.

Close the blinds: Shutting curtains, shades or blinds on the sunny side of the house can make a big difference particularly blinder venetian shades with highly reflective light colors can reduce heat build up in your home.

Let in cool airWhen it’s not too hot out, pull in cool air by cracking open lower story windows just one or two inches and place portable and window mounted fans and upstairs windows facing outward to remove the air that rises due to convection your home. This will create a stronger draft throughout the house that will keep the air cool without the use of AC. If the outside temperature is more than 77 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s better to shut all the windows and pull the shades.

Tell your AC what to do: A programmable thermostat lets you save money by not cooling your house when you’re not around to enjoy it. Set the temperature at 80 degrees Fahrenheit when you know you’ll be away, and when you are home set it at least 2 degrees higher than you would normally. A shift from 72 degrees Fahrenheit to 74 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer will leave the room just as comfortable but means real savings on your annual energy bill.

Upgrade your AC: Whether central air or window-mounted AC, if your cooling system is several years old you can most likely save on your energy bill by upgrading to new, more efficient models. The most efficient models use inverter technology which also makes them very quiet. Thirty percent tax credits are available for units 16 SEER and better. Depending on the age of your current unit, Energy Star-rated air conditioning could save you 10 percent to 30 percent of your cooling costs. Remember to clean or check the AC filter once a month as any buildup will restrict airflow and make it less efficient.

Install ceiling fans: Fans use 10 percent of the energy consumed by AC and can make a room feel 10 degrees cooler. Replacing your AC with a ceiling fan could save you a couple hundred dollars or more a year.

Give your appliances a break: Remember it’s summer. Dry your clothes on a clothes line. Grill outside, and dine by candle light. And turn off your computers and entertainment equipment at night.

Finally remember to take care of yourself on hot days. Drink lots of water. As you perspire, you lose water to dehydration and your body temperature rises. So replacing fluids is essential to keeping cool. Doctors recommend drinking at least two liters of water a day, a third on hot days. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, as they are packed with water, and avoid sugary drinks which are dehydrating. And to learn more about geothermal systems, click here.

Source: Huffington Post

Geothermal Heat Pumps: The Next Generation

The most efficient way to heat and cool a building just got more efficient.

Climatemaster, a division of LSB Industries(NYSE:LXU), recently announced that their new Trilogy 40 geothermal heat pump (GHP) had been certified by the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) to exceed 40 Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) under ground loop conditions.

Climatemaster LogoEER is the ratio of effective cooling (heat removed) to the energy used, at maximal load, and is the standard measure of cooling effectiveness for geothermal heat pumps. A quick perusal of the list of Energy Star qualified GHPsshows just how big a leap this is: the highest EER rating currently available is 30, and many Energy Star qualified heat pumps have EERs as low as 17.  So the Trilogy 40 is a third again as efficient for cooling as the most efficient commercially available GHP, and more than twice as efficient as some Energy Star qualified GHPs.

Scott Lankhorst, President of Synergy Systems, a GHP installer in Kingston, NY, called the jump in efficiency “pretty amazing… 30 EER has been the max for quite a while now.”  Lankhorst says that Climatemaster hopes to have the Trilogy 40 in full production by the end of the year.

According to Barry Golsen, President and COO of LSB, the Trilogy 40 will also have improved heating performance, with a Coefficient of Performance (COP, the industry measure of heating efficiency) of 5 at ground loop conditions.  This is also a significant increase, with the best GHPs in the Energy Star list having COPs of 4.1.

In addition, they’ve added new functionality, called “Q-Mode.”  Q-Mode is the result of a collaboration between Climatemaster and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  It allows the GHP to produce hot water even when it is not being used for space heating or cooling.  According to Chris Williams, technology evangelist at Heatspring, a provider of renewable energy and energy efficiency training and certification, producing hot water year round required additional equipment (and cost) with traditional heat pumps.

Waterfurnace logoThe Competition

Yet Climatemaster is not moving into 40 EER territory unchallenged.  On GHP manufacturer Waterfurnace Renewable Energy’s (TSX:WFI, OTC:WFIFF) first quarter conference call, an analyst asked CEO Tom Huntington if Waterfurnace had an answer to efficiency breakthroughs at “a competitor.”  It does.  Huntington believes Waterfurnace’s new 7-Series GHP’s will be even more efficient than Climatemaster’s Trilogy.  Variable speed compressors (see below) are available from a number of vendors, and Huntington believes that the compressor used in the Trilogy is less efficient than the on Waterfurnace has selected for the 7-Series.

The Technology

How did they achieve these efficiency breakthroughs?  Both companies speak of “variable speed technology.”  According to Lankhorst, what they mean is variable speed compressors.  Current GHP models use two stage scroll compressors.   Variable speed blower motors and pump fields have been available for some time, although they often require the special controllers.

Variable speed compressors are new.  According to Williams, “there has been a huge amount of innovation in air source heat pumps,” and the innovations are now being applied to ground source technology.

Climatemaster’s Q-Mode a control system that integrates the GHP and components with the hot water tank, enabling the heat pump to deliver hot water year round.  Previously, year round hot water required additional components, or a back up heating source.  Q-Mode is patent pending, so it may be that it will give Climatemaster a competitive advantage if competitors like Waterfurnace are unable to duplicate the functionality without infringing patents.

Application

The integration of components and jump in efficiency should make these new systems attractive to installers in the field.  According to Lankhorst, the Trilogy may be especially cost effective in high-end residential applications, where the integrated system will eliminate several separate components.  Year round hot water is less of an advantage in commercial applications, since commercial installations operate nearly all the time in cooling mode, when free hot water is produced as a byproduct of cooling the building.

On the other hand, the spot efficiency ratings of a GHP are far from the only factor in determining the effectiveness of a GHP system.  According to Williams, proper ground loop, distribution, and system design can potentially have a greater impact on system efficiency.

Competitive Advantage

English: Mark Johnson, picture of job site.

When contractors select a GHP, technology tends to be more important in commercial operations than in residential ones.  The cost of the heat pump is a small fraction of the cost of drilling the loop field, so residential installers are more interested in the level of technical support offered by the distributor, so these competitive advantages will vary from region to region.

On the other hand, if Q-Mode makes for much simpler installations, Climatemaster stands to gain residential market share unless its competitors can offer similar integration without infringing its intellectual property.

Conclusion

The next generation of efficient ground source heat pumps are a significant step forward in energy efficient climate control.  Nevertheless, for the next few years, I’d expect that these variable speed compressor pumps will only be used in a small fractions of installation.  Geothermal heat pumps are already so efficient that the additional savings may not be enough to justify the higher up-front cost.  Additionally, Waterfurnace introduced their new 5-Series line of GHPs with two stage compression in March, at a slightly lower price point than the Envision product it replaces.

Either way, the cost of saving energy continues to fall, and the potential customer base for geothermal heat pumps will grow as higher efficiency and lower prices make them an even more economical approach to climate control.

Source: Forbes

Hydrogen — Tomorrow’s Biofuel?

Questions swirl around the idea of bioethanol as an alternative to gasoline for powering transport, but researchers from the University of Birmingham have started creating clean hydrogen from food waste, an idea that could revolutionise the bioenergy industry.

A look at Brazil — the world’s most intensive user of bioethanol — finds that mass-producing bioethanol from sugarcane is not as sustainable in the long-term as would be hoped. Bioethanol generates carbon dioxide as well as agricultural waste.

However, creating clean hydrogen from food waste not only uses up that waste, but provides a fuel that is emissions free and can be generated sustainably.

“Fuel cells need clean energy to run them. If you provide bacteria with a supply of sugary waste from, for example, chocolate production, the bacteria can produce hydrogen,” said Professor Lynne Macaskie, Professor of Applied Microbiology at the University of Birmingham, who presented the research at a collaborative bioenergy workshop in São Paulo on Monday. “At the moment manufacturers pay to dispose of waste but with our technique they could convert it to clean electricity instead.”

“Bioethanol is the current biofuel of choice in Brazil but our research shows the huge potential for biohydrogen to be the fuel for the future. Biohydrogen could even be made from the wastes from bioethanol production — two biofuels for the price of one. More work from focused teams, however, is needed, as agricultural wastes are tougher for bacteria to digest.”

Source: University of Birmingham

What every homeowner should know about geothermal

What Owners Should Know

  • How do I know if the dealer and loop installers are qualified?
  • Can a geothermal heat pump be added to my fossil fuel furnace?
  • Is a geothermal heat pump difficult to install?
  • I have ductwork, but will it work with this system?
  • If a home has ceiling cable heat or baseboard heat, do air ducts need to be installed?
  • Do I need to increase the size of my electric service?
  • What is the BTU size of the furnace that’s being proposed?
  • Should I buy a geothermal heat pump large enough to heat without any supplemental heat?
  • How long is the payback period for a geothermal system?

How do I know if the dealer and loop installers are qualified?
Don’t be afraid to ask for references from dealers. A reputable dealer or loop installer won’t hesitate to give you names and numbers to call to confirm his capabilities.

Can a geothermal heat pump be added to my fossil fuel furnace?
Split systems easily can be added to existing furnaces for those wishing to have a dual-fuel heating system. Dual-fuel systems use the heat pump as the main heating source and a fossil fuel furnace as a supplement in extremely cold weather if additional heat is needed.

Is a geothermal heat pump difficult to install?
Most units are easy to install, particularly when they replace another forced-air system. They can be installed in areas unsuitable for fossil fuel furnaces because there is no combustion, thus no need to vent exhaust gases. Ductwork must be installed in homes that don’t have an existing air distribution system. The difficulty of installing ductwork will vary and should be assessed by a contractor. Another popular way to use geothermal technology is with in-floor radiant heating, in which hot water circulating through pipes under the floor heats the room.

I have ductwork, but will it work with this system?
In all probability, yes. Your installing contractor should be able to determine ductwork requirements and any minor modifications if needed.

If a home has ceiling cable heat or baseboard heat, do air ducts need to be installed?
Not always. It may be desirable to install geothermal heat pump room units. For some small homes, a one-room unit would handle the heating and cooling needs. Ceiling cable or baseboard units could be used for supplemental heat if desired.

Do I need to increase the size of my electric service?
Geothermal heat pumps don’t use large amounts of resistance heat so your existing service may be adequate. Generally, a 200-amp service will have enough capacity and smaller amp services may be large enough in some cases. Your electric utility or contractor can determine your service needs.

What is the BTU size of the furnace that’s being proposed?
Furnaces are designed to provide specific amounts of heat energy per hour. The term “BTUH” refers to how much heat can be produced by the unit in an hour. Before you can determine what size furnace you’ll need, you must have a heat loss/heat gain calculation done on the structure. From that, an accurate determination can be made of the size of the system you’ll need. Most fossil fuel furnaces are substantially oversized for heating requirements, resulting in increased operating cost and unpleasant temperature swings.

Should I buy a geothermal heat pump large enough to heat with no supplemental heat?
Your contractor should provide a heating and cooling load calculation (heat loss, heat gain) to guide your equipment selection. Geothermal heat pumps typically are sized to meet your cooling requirements. Depending on your heating needs, a geothermal heat pump will supply 80-100 percent of your design heating load. Sizing the heat pump to handle your entire heating needs may result in slightly lower heating costs, but the savings may not offset the added cost of the larger heat pump unit and larger loop installation. Also, an oversized unit can cause dehumidification problems in the cooling mode, resulting in a loss of summer comfort.

How long is the payback period for a geothermal system?
To figure this accurately, you must know how much you’ll save each year in energy costs with a geothermal system as well as the price difference between it and an ordinary heating system and central air conditioner.

As an example: If you’ll save $700 per year with a geothermal system and the price difference is $2,000, your payback will be less than three years. If you install a geothermal system in a new home, the monthly savings in operating costs generally will offset the additional monthly cost in the mortgage, resulting in an immediate positive cash flow.

Source : Waterfurnace