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  • Looks Interesting

    Posted by David Foster on October 17th, 2013 (All posts by )

    Here’s a new study from GE: The Age of Gas & the Power of Networks. I haven’t read it yet, but looks like it contains some useful data and some interesting thinking.

     

    10 Responses to “Looks Interesting”

    1. Joe Wooten Says:

      VERY interesting article which confirms what aquaintances who work for General Electric have told me is their company’s guiding vision.

    2. Grurray Says:

      Interesting read

      The lowest cost gas comes from supplies that are co-produced with oil
      (associated gas). For associated gas, the oil production “pays” for the
      infrastructure to drill for gas, but specialized separation and processing
      equipment is required to make the gas viable.

      This is a good reason why oil prices will remain high while gas will stay low.

      Unconventional gas sources like CBM and shale gas are potentially
      30 percent of global recoverable gas reserves. CBM and shale are
      fundamentally different than traditional gas supply sources because the
      hydrocarbon source rock is also the reservoir (the rock formation that
      holds the gas). The potential cost of unconventional gas depends more on
      the ability to produce the gas from the reservoir than the absolute amount
      of gas in place. Next-generation CBM and shale gas sources are expected
      to have similar costs in the range of $4.00 to $8.00 per MMBtu. The mature
      developments of shale gas in North America are on the low-end of the cost
      range. Expected costs for other regions will initially be 2 to 3 times the cost
      of North American supply. Hopefully, technology can be deployed to drive
      these costs down.

      Talk about squeezing blood from a stone.
      This makes me hopeful for the future.
      Ingenuity and innovation overcomes whatever the latest nonsense is – Peak Oil, Peak Capitalism, Singularity, etc.
      And despite whatever plan the government has to derail our way of life.

      Distributed power is poised for rapid growth. As gas engine and smaller
      scale gas turbine technology has evolved and become more efficientdistributed power options are able to compete more effectively againstcentralized generation. Moreover, in emerging markets, where infrastris limited and regulatory and financial institutions are underdeveloped,distributed energy is an attractive choice. The flexibility of natural gas makit an ideal fuel for a variety of distributed power opportunities including:
      • Electricity and heating or cooling in cogeneration applications
      • Pipeline and processing plant compression in gas networks
      • Electricity islands in developing markets with weak or unstable grids
      • Off-shore applications like ships and drilling platforms
      • Electricity generation for remote sites, such as mines and oil and
      gas fields
      • Fast-track deployment of generation to meet emergency pow
      needs
      • Next generation fuel cell or micro-turbine technologies.

      This is a real game changer since gas is piped into everyone’s homes. The opportunity exists now to bypass power plants and allow for individual home based power generation. We’ll soon see homes and buildings running off of gas powered fuel cells.

    3. Joe Wooten Says:

      Grurray,

      I seriously doubt we’ll see cost competitive fuel cells powering homes or cars in our lifetimes, if ever. The energy cost of cracking natural gas just to get the hydrogen to power a fuel cell exceeds the energy the fuel cell generates. Refineries crack gas to get hydrogen to make other products in which the price they get for those products exceeds the cost of the hydrogen which is used to make them.

      That is not the case for electricity made by fuel cells. That is 100% the reason fuel cells, which is a mature technology, have not replaced the IC engine for transportation. Powering vehicles by CNG will be done using the traditional IC engine. When I was growing up in West Texas in the 1960’s, most of the farmers there were using propane/butane to run their trucks and tractors. All that was required was a change in the carburator and a 100 gallon tank that usually sat in the pickup bed, trunk, or in place of the gaoline tank on the tractor. At that time it was very cheap, being a byproduct of the huge gas production out there. When the price quadrupled almost overnight, so did the use of it for vehicles.

    4. David Foster Says:

      Home and building electric power from generators (run by reciprocating engines or turbines) will make sense especially in cold climates where the rejected heat can be used for heating purposes.

    5. David Foster Says:

      Here’s a data center that generates its own electrical power from natural gas…and also uses the exhaust heat to run the air conditioning for the facility:

      http://www.informationweek.com/hardware/data-centers/modern-manhattan-data-centers-secret-gas/240008716

      …if it seems counterintuitive to use 900-degree turbine exhaust for cooling purposes, remember that gas-fired refrigerators were once pretty common.

    6. David Foster Says:

      Also, an eBay data center in Utah will be powered by natural gas and will also get 5 MW from waste heat recovered from a pipeline compressor station 22 miles away.

      http://www.datacenterdynamics.com/focus/archive/2013/09/ebays-gas-powered-data-center-reclaim-waste-heat-energy

      Note the state regulatory issue that had to be overcome to make this project happen.

    7. Joe Wooten Says:

      David,

      The Energy Systems class I had my senior year at the University of Texas had us do an ASME performance test on the campus power plant. It had a 10 MW gas turbine going into a reboiler that made enoug steam to turn a 5 MW steam turbine and supplemental gas firing to turn a 30 MW steam turbine. The steam from both turbines went into a condenser that had a Freon boiler in the neck that was used to boil freon that was used to turn a Freon turbine that pumped hot/cold water all over campus for heating and cooling. Very efficient, but also very expensive to build and maintain.

      This was in 1979.

    8. Grurray Says:

      There’s still a lot of room to develop fuel cell technology

      The inefficient hydrogen powered ones are proton exchange membrane
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proton_exchange_membrane_fuel_cell

      Fuel cells that can run on other sources like natural gas are solid oxide fuel cells
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solid_oxide_fuel_cell

      A company affiliated with the University of Maryland is coming out with an SOFC that it claims is ten times more efficient than current designs
      http://www.technologyreview.com/news/518516/an-inexpensive-fuel-cell-generator/#comments

      at $1000/kw, a 25 kw Cube would still cost about 2 or 3 times more than Generac’s gas generator. Presumably the cost may eventually go down as they scale, but the added premium isn’t a lot when you consider that the Cube is always on while the Generac is a backup.
      I looked around and the cost of the smallest Solar turbine is around $750/kw, but that is a 1200 kw model.

    9. david foster Says:

      It’s interesting…electrical power is moving (gingerly) in the direction of *distributed* generation…whereas the computing world is moving, rather aggressively, in the direction of centralized (“cloud”) computing.

    10. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      Here’s a set of animations describing Hydraulic fracturing technology: http://www.youtube.com/user/TETRAtechnologies?feature=watch

      CBM and shale are fundamentally different than traditional gas supply sources because the
      hydrocarbon source rock is also the reservoir (the rock formation that holds the gas).

      This is the key piece. Traditionally, gas was recovered from permeable reservoir rock, like sandstone, which contains open internal pores where natural gas, which emanates from organic gas and oil producing formations like shale, can accumulate. Also key, the sandstone formation has to overtopped by an impermeable formation, like limestone or shale, or else the gas will bleed off and disperse. In short, you used to need to find a geologic formation with a certain layer cake structure: oil or gas shale, overtopped by sandstone, overtopped by limestone (or more shale).

      Now, if you can find the oil and gas producing shale (and not all shales have a enough organics to produce oil or gas) you crack open the shale, prop the fractures open with sand grains to keep the overburden ground weight from simply closing the fractures back up, then pipe the gas back to the surface. This is a huge development. As long as it’s done safely and ground water is protected, it’s a game changing technology. Truly. Vast gas reserves, worldwide, are now available.