The Humboldt Renewable Energy Secure Communities (RESCO) project is nearing completion, and we’re close to publishing two new products, a RESCO strategic plan and a guide for local government on energy policy and regulations.
Humboldt County has the opportunity to lead the way toward a renewable energy future by using local renewable energy resources to meet the majority of its electricity needs and a large portion of its heating and transportation needs. To accomplish this in an efficient, cost-effective manner will require a well thought-out plan. The RESCO strategic plan lays out such a road map.
Figure 1. Comparison of energy production by generation source as a fraction of total county demand for electricity in 2030.
The plan discusses three potential future energy scenarios for the year 2030 (see figure 1, below): business-as-usual, bold, and peak. Business-as-usual assumes we maintain our current sources of energy, bold assumes we develop an optimal mix of new efficiency and renewable energy resources while capping overall cost increases at 5% above business-as-usual, and peak assumes we develop all that is practically achievable. Technologies considered include: energy efficiency, small hydro, wind, plug-in electric vehicles, heat pumps, biomass, wave, and solar power. The costs and benefits of these scenarios and technologies are considered. Finally, a set of long-term strategies and near-term next steps are presented.
The other important deliverable nearing completion is a handbook for local policymakers to help them take leadership roles on bringing more renewable energy and energy efficiency to Humboldt County. The guide posits a number of questions (How can local governments capture the financial benefits of generating their own renewable energy? How can local governments encourage and support the private development of local renewable energy and energy efficiency?) and lays out action-oriented responses tailored to conditions in Humboldt County. The guide presents examples of many ways in which Humboldt County has already acted as a leader on energy policy and identifies examples from elsewhere that may work well with a local twist.
In January, SERC submitted a proposal to the National Science Foundation to expand our work in hydrogen education with the goal of reaching a national audience. Working with proposal partners at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Michigan Technological University in Houghton, MI, and San Francisco State University, we proposed to create a new “Teaching Energy Concepts with Hydrogen” (TECH2) project. This project would build on our recently completed (see January 2012 post) three year Hydrogen Energy in Engineering Education (H2E3) curriculum in which we worked with California universities in both the CSU and UC systems. The proposed TECH2 project would reach nearly 5,000 freshman engineering students across the country.
The H2E3 fuel cell/electrolyzer kits in ENGR 115 (Photo credit Kellie Jo Brown).
Since 2009, SERC’s Hydrogen Energy in Engineering Education (H2E3) project, with financial support from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, has produced over 50 hydrogen experiment kits that have been made available on loan to engineering departments at University of California and California State University campuses. Each kit includes an electrolyzer for generating hydrogen, a fuel cell for generating electricity with the hydrogen, and instruments for making measurements of system efficiency. SERC has developed a set of lab activities that incorporate the kit.
HSU engineering graduate student Nicholas Riedel is spending the summer in El Salvador, studying how energy is used on a university campus. Nicholas is conducting a broad-scale campus energy audit at Universidad Don Bosco and intends to compare and contrast energy efficiency opportunities in this tropical setting in a developing country with lessons previously learned about energy management at HSU. Mentoring for Nicholas’s efforts comes from SERC senior research engineer Richard Engel, who served as a Fulbright scholar at UDB in 2010. Nicholas’s visit to UDB is the first inter-campus exchange under an HSU-UDB cooperation agreement that grew out of Richard’s stay at UDB.