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The Leading Edge

NYPA approves plan to finance hydro-to-hydrogen project

The New York Power Authority (NYPA) is investigating locations for a hydropower-to-hydrogen demonstration project that would fuel hydrogen vehicles in the Buffalo/Niagara area of western New York. In October 2006, the NYPA board of trustees authorized $21 million for this initiative.

Potential sites include Niagara Falls State Park and locations operated by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority. The stations would use electricity from NYPA ’s 2,538-MW Niagara Power project. NYPA expects to begin hydrogen production by the end of 2007, with the project fully implemented within three years.

The project will feature two hydrogen generation, storage, and fueling facilities. Each facility will be capable of producing about 120 kilograms of hydrogen a day. One kilogram of hydrogen has the energy equivalent of a gallon of gasoline. Combined, the hydrogen stations are expected to use up to 700 kW of hydropower.

In early 2006, NYPA and the Electric Power Research Institute of Palo Alto, Calif., conducted an engineering feasibility study that explored using electricity produced by a hydropower project to generate hydrogen through electrolysis. (See “R&D Forum, ” June 2006, page 80.) The goal was to use this hydrogen for a fleet of clean-fueled vehicles.

If this demonstration project is successful, hydrogen vehicle fueling stations could be installed in other locations in New York. NYPA says this program could reduce the state ’s dependence on fossil fuels and improve local air quality.

Each hydrogen station is expected to cost about $7.5 million to develop, including infrastructure upgrades and educational displays.

FERC examines regulatory needs of new hydro technologies

Members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) met with developers of new hydroelectric technologies in December 2006 to learn how to help them address environmental, financial, and regulatory challenges peculiar to their cutting-edge projects.

Chairman Joseph Kelliher said FERC has seen increasing interest in new hydroelectric technologies over the past year, and noted a surge in preliminary permit applications. About 40 permit applications for ocean projects are before the commission, all of which have been filed since March, Kelliher said.

FERC staff has issued 11 permits for applicants to study the feasibility of tidal energy projects proposed for California, New York, and Washington, and ocean current energy projects proposed off Florida.

In November, FERC received the first license application for a wave energy project, AquaEnergy Group Ltd. ’s 1-MW Makah Bay Offshore Wave Energy pilot project off the coast of Washington.

Kelliher said FERC convened the meeting to learn the ramifications of non-conventional hydro technologies from representatives of industry, federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the public. FERC examined three areas: environmental effects of developing new infrastructure; financial issues involving the costs of research, development, and building; and regulatory processes that might affect the ability of the new industry to succeed.

Kelliher said the conference would provide FERC a greater understanding of the technologies, enabling it to formulate “next steps ” in its regulation of the young industry.

One panel addressed known and potential effects of the new technologies on the environment and other resources. Financial issues and the costs of the new technologies were addressed by a second panel. The third panel examined whether FERC ’s permitting and licensing processes work for the new technologies.

OSU proposes center to perform wave energy research

Researchers at Oregon State University (OSU) in Corvallis are proposing development of the U.S. Wave Energy Research, Development and Demonstration Center, a wave energy research facility. OSU is home to the O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Lab, which contains wave tank facilities that could be used both to test existing technologies and to develop new technologies.

Currently, OSU is home to a multidisciplinary wave energy team that is investigating direct-drive wave energy buoys designed to be anchored 1 to 3 miles offshore, in water depths greater than 100 feet.

OSU is seeking funding for the center, says Annette von Jouanne, professor of power electronics/energy systems at OSU.

– For details, contact Annette von Jouanne at (1) 541-737-0831; E-mail: avj@eecs.orst.edu.

Ocean energy conference to be held in Hawaii

The Ocean Energy Council is organizing the 4th Annual EnergyOcean Conference and Exhibition, to be held August 21-23, 2007, in Oahu, Hawaii.

The conference will feature about 20 speakers discussing policy and regulation, as well as the construction and installation of ocean energy projects. Hydro technologies to be discussed include wave, tidal, and current. Other technologies include offshore wind, thermal, and solar.

Attendees at the conference will include government officials, as well as representatives of energy companies, utilities, and technology firms from around the world.

Conference organizers have issued a call for abstracts. If an abstract is accepted, the final paper is due August 1, 2007.

– For more information or to register for the conference, visit the Internet: www.energyocean.com.


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