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EPRI studying how climate policy affects retrofit investments

EPRI is undertaking a project to provide information on how climate policy and natural gas prices can affect decisions to invest in unit retrofits. The goal of this project is to provide information that may help a utility conduct a market-based assessment of how much investment its retrofit units can support (measured in dollars per kilowatt) and how a unit's investment worthiness may change with respect to climate policy and natural gas prices, says Victor Niemeyer, technical executive with EPRI.

In addition to performing engineering and technology assessments when considering the cost of a retrofit, project owners must assess the unit's role in the power market and how that role changes with climate policy or swings in natural gas prices, Niemeyer says. In the event of a stringent national policy to limit carbon dioxide emissions, the cost to retrofit a unit could exceed the benefits of keeping the unit compliant, he says. However, Niemeyer says hydro units are uniquely situated in that a national limit would positively influence a unit retrofit.

The analysis will be performed based on EPRI's Regional Power Market Analysis framework. This analysis entails a detailed bottom-up simulation of a regional power market. EPRI works with the participating utility to specify its generation mix, candidate units for retrofit investment, regional power market, and key planning and financial analysis assumptions. Relevant climate policy and fuel price scenarios also are identified.

Projects are expected to take four months to complete, Niemeyer says.

Two Canadian companies recognized for research

Triton Logging Inc. and AXYS Technologies Inc. have been recognized as Canadian Innovation Leaders for linking scientific research to commercialization, jobs, and economic growth.

A Canadian Innovation Leader is a small- or medium-sized enterprise that demonstrates specific advances in research and development within its industrial sector. The National Research Council of Canada created the Canadian Innovation Leader Certificate Program.

Triton Logging researches, develops, and commercializes technologies to recover millions of trees flooded by construction of dams and hydroelectric facilities around the world. The company designs and manufactures underwater logging equipment, manages large-scale reservoir harvest projects, and markets certified eco-wood products.

AXYS Technologies designs, manufactures, and maintains remote environmental monitoring systems that can measure weather, water quality, greenhouse gases, and other environmental data. The company currently is developing an offshore wind-resource assessment buoy capable of gathering data needed to determine the best locations for constructing wind farms.

Hydropower research center to be established in Alaska

The University of Alaska Anchorage and the community of Girdwood, Alaska, are working to establish the Girdwood Renewable Energy Research and Discovery Center.

The center will study small-scale hydropower and other renewable energy technologies, says Professor Orson Smith, chair of the university's Civil Engineering Department. The center will include research and education facilities, as well as field sites for instream hydrokinetic, tidal, and micro-hydropower turbine testing.

In August 2008, the team developing the center initiated a feasibility study to investigate options for building and operating this center. In June 2009, the team completed a feasibility report that indicates the facility will take several years to develop and cost about $20 million for planning, construction, and instrumentation.

The full report is available on the Internet at www.engr.uaa.alaska.edu/research/Girdwood-Renewable-Energy-Project.cfm.

The university's School of Engineering is seeking partnerships with private industry and public agencies to help bring the project to fruition.

Professor receives grant for water quality research

Dr. Jane Caffrey, associate professor at the University of West Florida, received a $25,000 "Minding the Planet" grant from the YSI Foundation. This grant is intended to help Caffrey synthesize water quality data and address issues of climate change.

Caffrey plans to use the grant to fund a graduate student project. The goal of this project is to analyze nutrient and continuous dissolved oxygen data from five Natural Estuarine Research Reserves in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and the Florida Atlantic Coast. This analysis will be performed in estuaries with ten or more years of data to determine how these systems respond to climate variability and human-influenced stressors.

YSI designs sensor instrumentation and real-time monitoring systems to protect natural resources and aquatic life.

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