While tensions increase over Iran's nuclear ambitions and fears that it will create nuclear weapons, neighboring countries in the Middle East are making big plans for a nuclear future with little notice.  Recently, Enercon Services, Inc. -- a highly respected nuclear engineering and management services firm -- opened an office in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in anticipation of growing demand for nuclear engineering expertise in the region. 

Saudi Arabia is planning an entire new city devoted to nuclear power and renewable energy with the goal of reducing by half the crude oil and natural gas it burns now to generate electricity.  In just the past few months, Saudi Arabia signed agreements with both China and France to develop its peaceful nuclear power capabilities.  A number of other countries in the region are looking to develop new nuclear power programs as well. 

Ironic, isn't it, that countries with much of the world's oil reserves are actively looking at alternatives such as nuclear and renewables.  Why?  Simple.  They know better than anyone else that nuclear and renewables are essential to any country that wants to improve their energy security, create jobs in new sustainable energy industries, and reduce carbon emissions that contribute to global warming.

John J.P. Howley
Woodbridge, New Jersey


 
 
San Diego Gas & Electric has signed long-term contracts to purchase 300 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy from wind and solar sources.  The regulated utility company provides electricity and natural gas service to 3.6 million consumers in San Diego and southern Orange counties.

A 189 MW wind farm under construction near Rosamond, California will provide 100 MWs of SDG&E's renewable energy under a 20 year contract with Manzana Wind LLC, a subsidiary of Iberdrola Renewables, Inc.  When completed later this year, the wind farm will include 126 wind turbines on 4,600 acres of land.  It will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of removing 21,500 cars from the road.

The other 200 MWs of new renewable energy will be supplied by the Mount Signal Solar project in Imperial Valley, California under a 25 year power purchase agreement with a subsidiary of 8minutenergy Renewables.  The electric output of this solar project will be transmitted over SDG&E's 117-mile Sunrise Powerlink transmission line that is currently under construction and expected to be completed later this year.

John J.P. Howley
Woodbridge, New Jersey


 
 
The world's largest molten salt solar power plant reached a major milestone this week when the tower was completed by SolarReserve, the U.S. developer of the large-scale solar power project.  The 540-foot solar power tower is a critical part of the company's 110 megawatt (MW) Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Plant near Tonopah, Nevada.

When completed, the Crescent Dunes Plant will be the nation’s first commercial-scale solar power facility with fully integrated energy storage and the largest power plant of its kind in the world.  The molten salt technology used in the plant, which was developed in the U.S., has the ability to store energy for 10-15 hours.  As a result, this new power plant will be able to deliver electricity on demand, just as coal, natural gas or nuclear fueled plants do but without emitting any harmful pollution or hazardous materials.

The Crescent Dunes project is jointly owned by SolarReserve, ACS Cobra, a worldwide leader in the engineering and construction of power plants and solar thermal facilities, and Santander, a global financial services and banking leader. ACS Cobra’s Nevada-based affiliate, Cobra Thermosolar Plants Inc., is the general contractor for the project and is utilizing Nevada and regional subcontractors to perform the work.

Construction of the facility began in September of 2011 and currently has over 100 workers on site.  Construction is expected to peak at more than 600 jobs on site during the 30-month construction period and is estimated to create more than 4,300 direct, indirect and induced jobs at companies throughout the U.S. that provide engineering, equipment supply and manufacturing, transportation and other value-added services. The plant is expected to be operational by the end of 2013.

John J.P. Howley
Woodbridge, New Jersey


 
 
The inaugural Vail Global Energy Forum (VGEF) will be held March 3-4, 2012 in Beaver Creek, Colo. The Vail Valley Foundation, in conjunction with Stanford University's Precourt Institute for Energy (PIE) and Precourt Energy Efficiency Center (PEEC), are hosting the event to address the world's energy challenges and solutions.

The VGE is dedicated to the search for sustainable solutions to one of the most pressing issues of our era – how to produce enough clean, cost-efficient energy from reliable sources to power our global economy while we “bridge” the transition to the breakthrough renewable energy solutions of the future.  The forum will examine the combined challenges of energy supply, energy security and the impacts of energy use that will shape energy transitions now underway and in the decades to come.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper will deliver the keynote remarks.  Other participants will include George P. Shultz, former U.S. Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury and Secretary of Labor and now Distinguished Fellow of Stanford's Hoover Institution; Senator Mark Udall of Colorado, Member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. 

Also attending are Dr. Dan Arvizu, Director of National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) for the U.S. Department of Energy —the primary laboratory for the study of energy efficiencies and renewable energy technologies in Golden, CO.

Others include Jeffrey Ball, former Environment Editor of The Wall Street Journal; Tom Petrie, Vice Chairman, Bank of America Merrill Lynch; Dr. Ernest Moniz, Director of the Energy Initiative at MIT; Dr. Burton Richter, Nobel Laureate in Physics, Senior Fellow at Stanford; Dr. Nathan Lewis, Director, Lewis Research Group at Caltech; Gregory Ebel, President and CEO of Spectra Energy; Tom Siebel, Founder of Siebel Systems; Bert Valdman, Senior Vice President, Strategic Planning, Edison International; Dr. Franklin M. Orr, Director, Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford; Dr. James Sweeney, Director, Precourt Energy Efficiency Center at Stanford; Dr. Sally Benson, Director, Global Climate and Energy Project, at Stanford. 

The event is open to the public. Tickets are $100 for GA and $175 for a "Signature Package." VGEF tickets are available by phone at (888) 920-ARTS(2787) or online at www.vilarpac.org. For information, call VPAC (970) 845-TIXS (8497) or visit www.vailglobalenergyforum.com.

John J.P. Howley
Woodbridge, New Jersey



 
 
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Now here's an interesting innovation.  A can that automatically cools your beverage, without electricity, just by pushing a button on the can.  That's what West Coast Chill claims happens when you push a button on a can of its energy drink.

An activation button on the can allows the beverage to drop 30 degrees within minutes.  The Chill Can does not require any energy and eliminates the need for any refrigeration.

The chilling process uses CO2 reclaimed from the atmosphere, and activated carbon ascertained from a renewable vegetable source.  The patented Microcool® technology won the EPA's Stratospheric Award.  West Coast Chill also plans to distribute recycling bins to recapture the cans for reuse in an effort to reduce their carbon foot print.

West Coast Chill Pure Energy Drink is scheduled to launch the end of the first quarter of 2012.  It will be available initially in certain selected convenience stores in Southern California and Las Vegas.

John J.P. Howley
Woodbridge, New Jersey