SERC has begun work on a Renewable Energy-based Secure Community (RESCO) study for Humboldt County. (See SERC Energy News v.4, #2 for more information about RESCO.) The objective of the research is to assess the feasibility of developing local renewable energy resources to meet 75% to 100% of the local electricity demand as well as a significant fraction of heating and transportation energy needs. The project team, including SERC, the Redwood Coast Energy Authority, and Pacific Gas and Electric Company, attended a kick-off meeting at the California Energy Commission in early November.
Part of SERC’s mission is to educate people about clean and renewable energy. To that end, SERC is working on a US Department of Energy funded project to inform local government leaders about the long-term benefits and near-term realities of hydrogen and fuel cell technology. SERC is partnered with the Technology Transition Corporation, who founded and manages the National Hydrogen Association, and the Public Technology Institute (PTI), which assists local government with technology development and implementation. To date, SERC has developed a curriculum and delivered it at PTI’s annual conference in San Diego, as well as via a webinar hosted by PTI. In the coming year we will make additional conference and webinar presentations while also developing and implementing a train-the-trainer component to the project. This will increase our effectiveness at getting the word out about hydrogen.
SERC staff and Yurok Tribe members recently raised a 50-meter meteorological tower atop McKinnon Hill on the Yurok Reservation. The tower will be used to collect wind data for one year, and SERC will use the data to conduct a wind energy feasibility analysis for the Tribe. At left, SERC engineers Richard Engel and Chris Carlsen work with Yurok planner Austin Nova to raise the gin pole. At right, the tower raising team celebrates their accomplishment. From left are Roger Gibbons, Richard Engel, Austin Nova, Chris Carlsen, Colin Sheppard, Victor, Jim Zoellick, and Ray Daniels (Six Rivers Communications).
SERC is working with the Yurok Tribe to examine the feasibility of developing hydro and wind power resources on the Yurok Reservation. SERC and Yurok Tribe staff recently installed gauging stations on Ke’Pel and Pecwan Creeks. These stations provide continuous monitoring of stream elevation. Periodically we visit the sites and measure stream flow. We will use this information to develop stage-discharge curves for the two creeks. The stage-discharge curves will allow us to convert the continuous stream elevation data into flow data. We are also installing rain gauges at each site. We plan to use precipitation data to help us correlate the data for these two streams with other streams in the area for which there are long-term stream flow and precipitation data records.
The Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District, or AC Transit, has been working to introduce hydrogen fuel cell technology into their transit bus system since 1999. Today they have one of the most comprehensive hydrogen fuel cell demonstration programs in the world. This includes three fuel cell buses operating in regular passenger service that have logged over 125,000 miles while serving more than 300,000 passengers. Their program also includes a fleet of fuel cell passenger vehicles, on-site hydrogen production and fueling, on-site fuel cell vehicle maintenance, extensive evaluation, outreach and education, and safety training.
SERC has been working with the Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) at UC Berkeley since 2004 on the Hydrogen Technology and Energy Curriculum (HyTEC) project. The curriculum introduces hydrogen and fuel cells into high school chemistry and science courses. To date we have completed a curriculum module consisting of six activities. The module has been field tested in numerous schools throughout the country. The curriculum module is built around a laboratory kit that allows small groups of students to work with a bench top electrolyzer and fuel cell. Students generate hydrogen via electrolysis, use the hydrogen to operate a fuel cell and power an electric motor, and then measure the efficiency of the fuel cell. In the process they learn about electrochemistry and how a fuel cell works.
SERC has been assisting the Yurok nation with energy related projects since 1999. Our current collaboration is to examine the feasibility of developing hydroelectric and wind power resources on the Yurok Reservation. To date, three project sites have and data monitoring equipment is being installed. We will be monitoring stream flows on both Cappell and Pecwan Creeks, and wind speeds on McKinnon Hill. We are currently working with the Tribe to install stream gauging stations on the two creeks. We are also awaiting arrival of a 50-meter meteorological tower from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory that we will install on McKinnon Hill. We plan to have all three data collection systems up and running by the end of the year. We will collect data for a one-year period and will assess the data and determine the feasibility of installing energy generation equipment at these sites. Our work will include life cycle economic analyses; preliminary economic assessments; and the development of business, financing, and project development plans. Watch our future newsletters for project updates.
After working with the Yurok Tribe for the last few years on energy education and planning projects, we are excited to be conducting a detailed feasibility study that we hope will result in the installation of renewable energy hardware on the Yurok Reservation.
In a recently completed study for the Tribe (SERC Energy News, Fall 2006), SERC identified hydro and wind energy as two of the most promising renewable energy resources on the Reservation. SERC is now embarking on a new DOE-funded feasibility study to analyze opportunities for the development of these resources. Our study will equip the Tribe to move forward with project development if any of the project opportunities look favorable.
When people ask me, “Does solar work in foggy Humboldt County?” I answer with a resounding “Yes,” adding that the large number of solar electric systems gracing our local rooftops is a good indication that solar works here. In fact, although coastal Humboldt County only receives about two-thirds as much solar energy as the rest of California, we have installed about three times more solar electric systems than the rest of the state on a per capita basis.
SERC recently added UTC Power to their list of clients for whom they have provided hydrogen safety and awareness training. That list also includes Chevron, AC Transit, SunLine Transit, and the State University of New York at Buff alo.
UTC Power, a Connecticut-based company, has led an industry team to build New England’s fi rst fuel cell bus, which will be operated by CTTRANSIT. The bus will debut in Hartford in April. A $2.9 million Federal Transit Administration grant is paying for the bus and associated infrastructure development. The bus features a UTC Power PureMotion™ 120 kW fuel cell power system, a VanHool chassis, and a hybrid all-electric drive system integrated into the bus by ISE Research Corporation. The bus will be fueled at a new hydrogen fueling station at UTC Power, and will be housed and maintained at CT Transit’s central bus terminal.