AGA Leader Touts Emerging Energy Technologies
The distributed power movement and alternative energy
technologies got a boost from American Gas Association (AGA)
Chairman David Biegler last week in his remarks at the 17th
Congress of the World Energy Council (WEC) in Houston.
"Distributed power is attractive to consumers, especially in
facilities like manufacturing plants, laundries and hospitals that
need both electric power and thermal energy," the Texas Utilities
CEO said. "It can cut costs, provide waste heat for on-site use and
improve power quality and reliability." He predicted distributed
power could provide as much as 50 gigawatts of power by 2015,
compared to less than 2 gigawatts today.
"Fuel cells, which can be powered by a variety of fuels,
including hydrogen, methanol, ethanol, natural gas and liquefied
petroleum gas, are close to being commercially viable for use in
supplying electricity for such facilities as office complexes,
hospitals, hotels and military installations."
In touting alternative technologies, Biegler picked up on a
theme running through the WEC's meeting, which is held once every
three years. Many speakers emphasized the role of technology both
in meeting future energy demand and in remedying harmful effects on
"There is no reason why we cannot develop and deploy
technologies that virtually eliminate the cause of acid rain and
the release of smog-forming pollutants," Secretary of Energy Bill
Richardson said during his address to the congress. "Many nations
represented here today have first-of-a-kind coal gasification and
advanced combustion plants that remove 95% or more of these
pollutants before they escape into the atmosphere - all while
raising power generation efficiencies above 50%. The task is now to
make these technologies more commercially viable."
Despite being a big gas booster, the AGA chairman conceded he
recognizes no single fuel or technology can satisfy even the
world's near-term energy needs. "And in any case, no matter how
objective or authoritative our projections, they stand an excellent
chance of being overturned by events geopolitical, technological,
or even climatic far sooner than any of us expect."
Biegler cited a 1985 book on energy that labeled as marginally
economic enhanced oil recovery, tight gas, and coal seam gas.
"Today, just 13 years later, these are mainstream technologies. The
same book relegated thermoelectric solar, photovoltaic solar, gas
hydrates and fusion to the uneconomic category. In 1998, both solar
alternatives are commercially viable, while development work
continues in fusion and hydrates."
Joe Fisher, Houston
©Copyright 1998 Intelligence Press, Inc. All rights
reserved. The preceding news report may not be republished or
redistributed in whole or in part without prior written consent of
Intelligence Press, Inc.