New Technology Makes Clean Hydrocarbon Recovery Possible
Oil shale reserves in the United States are estimated at a whopping 1.5 trillion barrels, but the economic and environmental cost to access these reserves can be extremely high.
That is all set to change.
Independent Energy Partners, Inc. (IEP), the inventor of a near-zero emission in-situ geothermic fuel cell™(GFC™) system, has engaged both Delphi Corporation and the Colorado School of Mines Colorado Fuel Cell Center to bring their patented system to oil shale production in Colorado, Eastern Utah and Western Wyoming.
Delphi is a world leader in the development, commercialization and manufacture of solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology, which is a key component in Independent Energy’s geothermic fuel cell system. “Delphi is excited to work with Independent Energy Partners to develop this unique application of SOFC. This opportunity demonstrates the capability and wide range of applications for the Delphi solid oxide fuel cell technology,” said Mary Gustanski, Vice President Engineering, Operations and Customer Satisfaction for Delphi Powertrain Systems.
The geothermic fuel cell system developed by Independent Energy works to improve the economics and reduce environmental impacts of the Shell Oil model developed to heat oil shale in situ. The GFC system production process, once up and running, produces natural gases that will be captured and reused as fuel. This creates a clean, self-fueling, closed-loop energy system that both heats the ground to produce oil and gas and generates green, base-load power as a by-product. Approximately 80% of the electrical energy produced is surplus and will be sold to nearby industrial or utility consumers.
The Colorado Fuel Cell Center at the Colorado School of Mines will be instrumental in the go-to-market process with primary responsibility for lab and pre-field testing of the prototypes. The unique in-situ application for heating subterranean formations for recovery of hydrocarbons was initially designed by the US Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Labs from IEP’s patents. The GFC system is viewed by many as a game changer for producing domestic energy resources in an environmentally sensitive manner. It brings the added advantages of providing many new jobs in manufacturing and oil field services by deploying this advanced technology for oil, gas and power production.
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“The school and Center have a focus on advancing the technology for oil shale specifically,” commented Al Forbes, Chief Executive Officer of Independent Energy Partners. “We are fortunate to have the natural resources, the lab testing expertise and facilities of Colorado School of Mines along with Delphi’s technological maturity of solid oxide fuel cells. Both partners are incredibly important as we enter the final stages toward commercialization of our Geothermic Fuel Cell system for recovery of unconventional hydrocarbons.”
Independent Energy Partners own the rights to several mineral resources in Colorado’s Piceance Creek Basin where field-testing and initial commercialization are planned. The first prototype is anticipated to be delivered by Delphi to Colorado School of Mines in December of this year. Initial prototype tests will begin in early 2013 with field testing to commence by 2014.
SOURCE: Independent Energy Partners
Ofwat allows retailers to raise prices from April
Retailers can recover a portion of excess bad debt by temporarily increasing prices from April 2022, according to an Ofwat statement.
The regulator confirmed its view that levels of bad debt costs across the business retail market are exceeding 2% of non-household revenue, thereby allowing "a temporary increase" in the maximum prices. Adjustments to price caps will apply for a minimum of two years to reduce the step changes in price that customers might experience.
Measures introduced since March 2020 to contain the spread of Covid-19 could lead to retailers facing higher levels of customer bad debt. Retailers’ abilities to respond to this are expected to be constrained by Ofwat strengthening protections for non-household customers during Covid-19 and the presence of price caps.
In April last year, Ofwat committed to provide additional regulatory protection if bad debt costs across the market exceeded 2% of non-household revenue.
Georgina Mills, Business Retail Market Director at Ofwat said: “These decisions aim to protect the interests of non-household customers in the short and longer term, including from the risk of systemic Retailer failure as the business retail market continues to feel the impacts of COVID-19. By implementing market-wide adjustments to price caps, we aim to minimise any additional costs for customers in the shorter term by promoting efficiency and supporting competition.”
There are also three areas where Ofwat has not reached definitive conclusions and is seeking further evidence and views from stakeholders:
- Pooling excess bad debt costs – Ofwat proposes that the recovery of excess bad debt costs is pooled across all non-household customers, via a uniform uplift to price caps.
- Keeping open the option of not pursuing a true up – For example if outturn bad debt costs are not materially higher than the 2% threshold.
- Undertaking the true up – If a 'true up' is required, Ofwat has set out how it expects this to work in practice.
Further consultation on the proposed adjustments to REC price caps can be expected by December.
"While it’s great that regulators are helping the industry deal with bad debt in the wake of the pandemic, raising prices only treats the symptoms. Instead, water companies should head upstream, using customer data to identify and rectify the causes of bad debt, stop it at source and help prevent it from occurring in the first place," she said.
"While recouping costs is a must, water companies shouldn’t just rely on the regulator. Data can help companies segment customers, identify and assist customers that are struggling financially, avoiding penalising the entire customer in tackling the cause of the issue."
United Utilities picks up pipeline award
A race-against-time plumbing job to connect four huge water pipes into the large Haweswater Aqueduct in Cumbria saw United Utilities awarded Utility Project of the Year by Pipeline Industries Guild.
The Hallbank project, near Kendal, was completed within a tight eight-day deadline, in a storm and during the second COVID lockdown last November – and with three hours to spare. Principal construction manager John Dawson said the project helped boost the resilience of water supplies across the North West.
“I think what made us stand out was the scale, the use of future technology and the fact that we were really just one team, working collaboratively for a common goal," he said.
Camus Energy secures $16m funding
Camus Energy, which provides advanced grid management technology, has secured $16 million in a Series A round, led by Park West Asset Management and joined by Congruent Ventures, Wave Capital and other investors, including an investor-owned utility. Camus will leverage the operating capital to expand its grid management software platform to meet growing demand from utilities across North America.
As local utilities look to save money and increase their use of clean energy by tapping into low-cost and low-carbon local resources, Camus' grid management platform provides connectivity between the utility's operations team, its grid-connected equipment and customer devices.