More Ways to Use a Wave

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued the first hydrokinetic energy project permit to Finavera Renewables Ocean Energy Ltd. for a 1MW project off the coast of Washington that will employ aquabouys to generate electricity.

It appears that the jurisdictional dispute described in an earlier post has been resolved. This blog entry contains a link to a statement on wave energy by the Surfrider Foundation.

If done in a mindful manner, wave energy can produce electricity in a much cleaner manner than fossil fuels. I know the proper way to harness wave energy though:


The European Commission has released the results of its internet public consultation “Capturing and storing CO2 underground–should we be concerned?” The survey, conducted in spring 2007, found some major concerns regarding carbon capture and storage (CCS) among Europeans. Around 90% of respondents were concerned that injected CO2 might not stay underground, 58% had concerns with CCS taking support away from renewable energy and energy efficiency, 71% believe CCS will be a bridging technology while other forms of energy are developed, and about 49% were concerned about liability issues. Most respondents stated that they were willing to pay more to have CO2 sequestered.

The Fate of FutureGen

FutureGen is a project to build a coal gasification plant to generate electricity and hydrogen. The plant will capture and sequester CO2 in geologic formations. The project is funded primarily by the US Department of Energy, with some funds coming from commercial partners. The budget was initially set at around $1 billion, but is currently estimated to be $1.8 billion.

The FutureGen Alliance (the commercial partners) announced that it has chosen the Mattoon, Illinois site for the project. The Department of Energy, however, issued a press release announcing that a reassessment and restructuring of the FutureGen is in order. The press release states:

DOE has not yet issued the Record of Decision (RoD), which is required to enable a final siting determination. DOE believes that the public interest mandates that FutureGen deliver the greatest possible technological benefits in the most cost-efficient manner. This will require restructuring FutureGen to maximize the role of private sector innovation, facilitate the most productive public-private partnership, and prevent further cost escalation.

A group of Midwestern governors signed on to a greenhouse gas emissions reduction plan. They propose to reduce emissions by 60-80% of 1990 levels by 2050. Details of the cap and trade program have not yet been determined. In the last post, I mentioned that all of the Midwestern states attended the meeting. Only IA, IL, KS, MI, MN, WI, and Manitoba signed the agreement however.

The governors also signed an “energy security and climate stewardship platform”. This calls for, inter alia, a regional regulatory framework for carbon capture and storage (CCS) by 2010, including capture, injection, monitoring, verification, and liability issues. By 2012, a multi-jurisdictional CO2 pipeline should be permitted. Eight coal-fueled facilities with CCS should be built by 2015: three IGCC using bituminous coal, two using sub-bituminous coal, two using lignite, and one post-combustion carbon capture facility at a pulverized coal plant. The governors also committed to having all new coal-fueled power plants employing CCS by 2020. This would result in a complete phase out of coal-fueled power plants not employing CCS by 2050.


The Midwestern Governors Association is holding an energy summit today–“Unveiling a Midwestern Energy Security and Climate Stewardship Platform“. The Midwestern states (IL, IN, IA, KS, MI, MN, MO, NE, ND, OH, SD, WI) are following in the footsteps of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (CT, DE, MD, ME, NH, NJ, NY, VT) and the Western Climate Initiative (AZ, CA, NM, OR, UT, WA, British Columbia, and Manitoba). The RGGI states already have a regional emissions cap and trading system underway, and the WCI states plan to have their greenhouse gas trading mechanism designed by August 2008. If the Midwest creates a similar system, more than half of the states will be involved in a regional cap and trade program. It will be interesting to see if the Midwestern reliance on coal for electricity generation leads to differences in the regional programs.

E&E News reported today that investors are reluctant to fund new coal generation. They are deferring any decision because they anticipate new laws and regulations. On the one hand, pulverized coal is risky because retrofitting a plant to reduce CO2 emissions is expensive. On the other hand, investors are waiting for more certainty with the legal and liability issues around CCS. These are the two sides of the CO2 liability coin. These twin towers of doubt should cause investors to pause before backing new coal-fired generation. If after careful study one of the two still seems necessary, IGCC with CCS is the best bet. Gasification plants can use a variety of fuels, including biomass, and are more amenable to CCS. They also open up the possibility of other sources of revenue. The proposed Belle Plain polygeneration facility in Saskatchewan (GE, Bechtel, TransCanada) plans to use petroleum coke as a fuel. The gasification process will produce hydrogen, nitrogen, steam, and CO2. Thus, it’s products will be able to make electricity, fertilizer, and oil (via enhanced recovery).

I have been procrastinating since 19 April 2007, but here are my thoughts (half a year late) on the Congressional Research Service report “Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Pipelines for Carbon Sequestration: Emerging Policy Issues”. The report contains an important, yet subtle statement:

If policy makers encourage continued consumption of fossil fuels under CCS, then the need to foster the other energy options may be diminished — and vice versa. Thus decisions about CO2 pipeline infrastructure could have consequences for a broader array of energy and environmental policies.

I agree that policymakers need to develop a more coherent energy policy. The fate of CCS as a climate change mitigation measure is bound with the larger issues of energy supply and environmental stewardship.

The report notes that Congressional bills have tended to focus on carbon capture and storage, not transportation of CO2. The authors state that there is a “current perception that transporting CO2 via pipeline does not present a significant barrier to implementing large-scale CCS.” Despite this perception, the development of a more expansive CO2 pipeline network for CCS will raise new regulatory and economic challenges. “There are important unanswered questions about pipeline network requirements, economic regulation, utility cost recovery, regulatory classification of CO2 itself, and pipeline safety.”