Con Edison to prepare for climate change
The New York State Public Service Commission recently unanimously approved an Order requiring Con Edison to implement state-of-the-art measures to plan for and protect its electric, gas, and steam systems from the effects of climate change. The decision, which was issued in the context of Con Edison's petition for changes to its rates, also orders the continuation of the Storm Hardening and Resiliency Collaborative.
The rate case was initially filed Jan. 25, 2013 and called for a $2.4 billion spending increase, which included $1 billion in storm hardening in response to damage caused by Superstorm Sandy and other extreme weather events. The Storm Hardening and Resiliency Collaborative, which took place simultaneously with the rate case litigation, was created by the rate case parties to develop innovative resiliency measures and to address how the proposed $1 billion in storm hardening funds should be invested.
The Order will confirm Con Edison’s voluntary commitment to conduct a Climate Change Vulnerability Study this year, which will provide important guidance on how the utility can best prepare for rising sea levels, more intense storms, heat waves, and other potential effects of a changing climate.
A coalition of NGOs and academic centers – the Columbia Law School Center for Climate Change Law, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), and the Pace Energy and Climate Center (Pace) – were full parties in the rate case and active participants in the Collaborative. In the rate case, the coalition presented scientific testimony on climate change, expert technical testimony on rate designs that support electric vehicle charging, advocated for deploying more distributed generation and microgrids, and cross examined Con Edison's witnesses on the Company's planning and storm preparation efforts.
The Collaborative consists of four working groups addressing: (1) storm hardening design standards, (2) alternative resiliency strategies, (3) natural gas system resiliency, and (4) risk assessment/cost benefit analysis. Through the Collaborative, Con Edison and the parties agreed on an interim design standard to protect critical infrastructure from future floods.
In addition, the “alternative resiliency strategies” working group is tasked with identifying alternative response strategies designed to make the grid more efficient and resilient. Such alternative strategies include critical peak pricing to reduce load during heat events, creating rate options for customers that will encourage smart charging of electric vehicles, and empowering customers to make smarter, lower-carbon energy-use decisions.
The Collaborative will also identify areas where high-efficiency cogeneration systems and microgrids could be placed to reduce system load, isolate outages, and provide refuges of power “islands.” The working groups will also explore ways to utilize energy storage, and increase demand response projects. The order will include a call for Con Edison and other parties to embark on a study to quantify low-risk methane leaks in order to prioritize and accelerate their repair. In accordance with the Order, the work of the collaborative will continue through at least 2014.
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Itronics successfully tests manganese recovery process
Itronics - a Nevada-based emerging cleantech materials growth company that manufacturers fertilisers and produces silver - has successfully tested two proprietary processes that recover manganese, with one process recovering manganese, potassium and zinc from paste produced by processing non-rechargeable alkaline batteries. The second recovers manganese via the company’s Rock Kleen Technology.
Manganese, one of the four most important industrial metals and widely used by the steel industry, has been designated by the US Federal Government as a "critical mineral." It is a major component of non-rechargeable alkaline batteries, one of the largest battery categories sold globally.
The use of manganese in EV batteries is increasing as EV battery technology is shifting to use of more nickel and manganese in battery formulations. But according to the US Department of Interior, there is no mine production of manganese in the United States. As such, Itronics is using its Rock Kleen Technology to test metal recoverability from mine tailings obtained from a former silver mine in western Nevada that has a high manganese content.
In a statement, Itronics says that its Rock Kleen process recovers silver, manganese, zinc, copper, lead and nickel. The company says that it has calculated – based on laboratory test results – that if a Rock Kleen tailings process is put into commercial production, the former mine site would become the only primary manganese producer in the United States.
Itronics adds that it has also tested non-rechargeable alkaline battery paste recovered by a large domestic battery recycling company to determine if it could use one of its hydrometallurgical processes to solubilize the manganese, potassium, and zinc contained in the paste. This testing was successful, and Itronics was able to produce material useable in two of its fertilisers, it says.
"We believe that the chemistry of the two recovery processes would lend itself to electrochemical recovery of the manganese, zinc, and other metals. At this time electrochemical recovery has been tested for zinc and copper,” says Dr John Whitney, Itronics president.
“Itronics has been reviewing procedures for electrochemical recovery of manganese and plans to move this technology forward when it is appropriate to do so and has acquired electro-winning equipment needed to do that.
"Because of the two described proprietary technologies, Itronics is positioned to become a domestic manganese producer on a large scale to satisfy domestic demand. The actual manganese products have not yet been defined, except for use in the Company's GOLD'n GRO Multi-Nutrient Fertilisers. However, the Company believes that it will be able to produce chemical manganese products as well as electrochemical products," he adds.
Itronics’ research and development plant is located in Reno, about 40 miles west of the Tesla giga-factory. Its planned cleantech materials campus, which will be located approximately 40 miles south of the Tesla factory, would be the location where the manganese products would be produced.
Panasonic is operating one of the world's largest EV battery factories at the Tesla location. However, Tesla and other companies have announced that EV battery technology is shifting to use of nickel-manganese batteries. Itronics is positioned and located to become a Nevada-0based supplier of manganese products for battery manufacturing as its manganese recovery technologies are advanced, the company states.
A long-term objective for Itronics is to become a leading producer of high purity metals, including the U.S. critical metals manganese and tin, using the Company's breakthrough hydrometallurgy, pyrometallurgy, and electrochemical technologies. ‘Additionally, Itronics is strategically positioned with its portfolio of "Zero Waste Energy Saving Technologies" to help solve the recently declared emergency need for domestic production of Critical Minerals from materials located at mine sites,’ the statement continues.
The Company's growth forecast centers upon its 10-year business plan designed to integrate its Zero Waste Energy Saving Technologies and to grow annual sales from $2 million in 2019, to $113 million in 2025.