Finding New Energy from Wasted Energy

There have been worries over the last few years about where Texas will get the future energy they need to power our expanding economy. The electricity demand on the grid in Texas continues to get worse and our power generation infrastructure has not been able to keep up.

Fascinating science however is finding out things that we could only dream about a few short years ago. Take for instance new metal alloys only recently discovered as little as a year ago. It is known as: Ni45Co5Mn40Sn101. Whatever that means 🙂

There is one known alloy material that was discovered at the University of Minnesota that can directly take heat and convert it to electricity at the lowest hysteresis ever found. This simply means it converts heat to electricity better then anything currently in the market. Imagine this working on a car exhaust or electricity turbine?

Although most of us practically look at things like our current power infrastructure such as the natural gas and coal fired power plants we mainly use to produce electricity in Texas we may be able to make these plants much more efficient in the not so distant future.

Imagine being able to take the heat coming off of steam generated turbines that are already heating metal in these generation facilities and send that on to the electric power lines.

You could drastically reduce the waste of burning fuel only to then create a another form of power. When you burn up fuel you lose some of that resource when electricity is generated so any way to capture that energy as it turns to heat is a great benefit.

The alloy is a  multiferroic composite of nickel, cobalt, manganese and tin. The metal can be non-magnetic and highly magnetic based on what temperature it gets heated up to. Having magnetism and a permanent electric polarization is very rare for an alloy.

A small increase in temperature is all that is needed for the metal to go from non-magnetic to very magnetic. Unfortunately this metal loses some of the heat energy but a good amount of it is converted to electricity. The positive aspect to this alloy is that it has a very low hysteresis compared to other things which allows it to be the most efficient method of turning large amounts of heat energy into electricity that would have normally gone to waste.

A common example to help explain just how this metal could work is the idea of capturing the heat from a car exhaust and allowing that heat to be converted into electricity.

General Motors is already working on similar devices for their vehicles but the efficiencies is nothing like what is found in this new alloy. You will likely see this alloy being deployed in future cars, power generation plants and other applications in the future.

If you would like to read more about this topic please visit this link: popsci.com and watch the video below.

Texas Faces Power Shortages Possibly 10 Years Out

A new study suggests Texas may have to deal with with power shortages for the next 10 years or so (source:  The Statesman) . These power shortages would happen during peak demand periods each year. So for instance, on a very hot summer or very cold winter you can expect that would be the time when everybody’s power goes out.

This worse case scenario occurs because too many people are demanding electricity at the same time. Combine this increase in demand from an expanding population and economy in Texas with EPA actions preventing coal fired power plants from being built. It isn’t that Texas wants to pollute the environment, kill the elderly and poison small children.

The fact of the matter is that new coal technology allows for clean burning cheap coal to meet demand for electricity and still let everyone have affordable electricity.

It will always sound great to protect the elderly and the children and like you I want to do this as well but when the elderly and children are used in propaganda by green activists to the eventual hardship of every Texas power consumer someone needs to say something.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas has hired an outside consultant that will be delivering a report on June 1 on how Texas can encourage the construction of new power plants.

Right now wholesale electricity prices are too low to attract investors in new electricity generation plants and you have the EPA to contend with if you mention the word, coal.

Remember at one time TXU was planning to create at least 11 new state of the art coal fired power plants and now look at the situation?

For now Texas must work to get more commercial and industrial customers to agree to interrupt their electricity usage during peak demand times in exchange for payment.

A noteworthy aspect to getting businesses to automate electricity curtailment is that in the process they sometimes create complete backup generation systems that can produce onsite electricity through natural gas and remain completely off the grid long term.

Hopefully we will see more off the grid electricity systems that are built for these individual facilities alleviating Texas electricity demand troubles.

You can learn more about commercial distributed generation systems and implementation in Texas by watching the video below.

TXU Energy in Dallas and Houston

Electric rates in Dallas and Houston have started coming back up the last couple of weeks although today energy prices are back down a little. This trend up represents the possible beginning of a new trend back up. The summer is approaching and if anyone remembers what electric rates were doing last summer you would be wise to lock into an electricity rate now.

Since Texas electricity rates are still quite low as of today (May 20 2009) I wanted to see what Reliant Energy and TXU Energy were offering for residential electric service in some of the larger cities like Houston and Dallas Texas. I first went out to the powertochoose website to see what the government was showing for TXU Energy’s 12 month fixed electric rate. They are showing that TXU Energy is advertising a rate of 14.7 cents per kWh. This is very high when you compare it with the cheapest reputable electric provider in the bunch. The cheapest provider in Dallas that is a quality company is with Champion Energy. They are currently showing an electricity rate at 9.2 cents per kWh with a $4.95 monthly service fee. This is multiple times cheaper then TXU Energy and you can learn more about this residential electric rate in the Dallas and North Texas area by clicking on the link below.

 

We also checked to see what TXU Energy’s closest competitor was offering in the Dallas Texas area. Right now Reliant Energy is working very hard via radio and billboard ads to take residential electric service customers away from TXU Energy in TXU’s territory. Reliant has a cheaper electric rate plan then TXU Energy in TXU’s own backyard. The Reliant Energy rate is also 20% renewable energy which offers a feel good factor for those wanting to save the environment from the pollution of coal fired power plants. One issue with the wind energy plan is that it may be energy that has been produced in another state so Texas doesn’t benefit from the environmental clean energy. Reliant Energy’s rate is 14.1 cents per kWh for their 12 month fixed rate. So we see that Reliant Energy beats TXU but Champion Energy beats both Reliant and TXU on price by several cents. If you compare the 14.1 and the 14.7 cent rate next to 9.2 cents per kWh with a $4.95 monthly service fee you end up saving several hundred dollars over the course of the year by signing up with a wholesale provider like Champion Energy.

You can learn more about Champion Energy by visiting their link and see for yourself why Champion Energy is a better choice over TXU Energy and Reliant Energy.

 

The Reliant and TXU Energy rates when compared in the Houston and Harris county area are similar in price difference with Champion Energy in that area as well. If you live in the Houston Texas area and would like to compare electric rates with multiple energy providers then please click on the comparison link below to learn more.

Houston Electric Rate Comparison

Green Electricity in Texas

For those who have been considering making the jump over to renewable Texas electricity even if it costs a little bit more there are a few things to know first before you get started. Renewable Energy in Texas is not piped directly from the power generating facility to your home when you sign up on a renewable electricity plan. There are a few things that happen that are related to virtual paper transaction and out of state renewable energy sources when you purchase this energy. Most of the clean renewable energy you purchase may be land fill gas and wood garbage. Through renewable energy credits that allow an energy provider to virtually buy credit for wind and solar energy they can sell you a renewable energy plan that has little to do with how you may perceive.

ESS Solar – Professional Texas Solar Installers

Did anyone see those T Boone Pickens commercials where he was trying to rally people behind a plan that would get the government to help him send his wind turbine energy from West Texas to Dallas and Houston areas. This would be a plan that most people think is already happening when they purchase renewable green energy. The truth is wind and solar energy is not being piped into the ERCOT electric grid and reaching Dallas and Houston homes. Your energy is being produced by natural gas and coal fired power plants. Through REC’s and virtual paper transaction you are signing up on a renewable electricity plan but this is not exactly the ideal situation most people want to see when it comes to cleaning up our state.

Are we saying that Green electricity in Texas is a bad idea? No we are not saying that you should not sign up on a green electricity rate plan. We are just explaining that the renewable energy you are purchasing is not how it may seem to be. That wind and solar generated power was likely not created in the state of Texas and if it was it was not by a power plant near you. The fact is that Renewable Energy Credits also known as REC’s do help in saving the environment but much more needs to be done so that we can lower the cost of wind and solar by having this power directly delivered onto our ERCOT electric grid from the power source. Then we can say that, yes, some green renewable energy is being sent from wind turbines and solar powered power plants and onto the electric grid that feeds the electricity that powers your home.

Fire up the coal plant, your MAC is an energy vacuum.

The metro-sexual MAC idealists are melting the icebergs

The digital age is an energy hog. All of you apple computer snobs trying to save the environment are actually contributing to melting the icebergs and creating coal fired smog and smoke in our cities. Sure, your computer is not as bad at using electricity as say an air-conditioner but there are enough blogging idealists out there trying to save the environment to cause an energy vacuum that takes all that stored clean natural gas out of surplus and causes those coal plants to fire back up.


Is this a refrigerator or a computer

The money saved in using more efficient computers is far less then the money lost and energy burned by the pace of a large growing number of nerdy idealistic bloggers of the Al Gore persuasion. The PC power required to do some of the intensive things we require on our computers requires so much state of the art chips and processors that everything is spinning and running faster then it has ever before. Our computers will eventually approach the energy consumption of a refrigerator if our demand for the latest technology continues. Imagine tens of thousands of Al Gore wannabe’s with a computer using the energy of a mini-refrigerator typing away about saving a seal or an iceberg. This would be ironic but we are closing in on reality as the energy demand in a computer doubles about every two years.

Energy demanded beyond your Apple PC

Coal Fired Power Plant

The Hubs, Repeaters, Networks, ISP’s, and data warehouses required to keep the dot coms running your blog to save the environment adds additional electricity demand. Moving back and forth from desktop to dot com and back requires even more electricity and then the domino effect just continues on. The factories that put these steel machines together use about 1% of the United States’ electricity feeding even more into this energy monster. For those of you that think the ability to work from home instead of driving to work is helping, well it is not enough to keep up with the energy demand of our technology needs. We were expecting a digital age providing unlimited benefits by providing the information we need at a moments notice but we have skimmed over the powerful effect it will have now and in the future on the electric grid. Don’t be fooled, your blog and the hours you spend each day with your computer working on it could be making things worse rather then better.

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