monopoly position that is often legally protected by compulsory connection and use
and gives district heating companies certain
room to set prices. The inquiry will cover
the years 2007 and 2008. A comparative
analysis will identify which companies are
particularly expensive and which are particularly low-priced.
The cartel office is not targeting any
individual companies with this inquiry; it
has conducted similar inquiries into other
sectors in the past. If any individual district
heating suppliers are found to be abusing
their market positions, however, further
investigations into those companies are
District heating supplies around 5 million
households in Germany, accounting for 13
percent of the country’s heating market.
Germany’s annual household consumption
of district heating is around 80 billion k Wh.
Project Burns Railway
Ties as Fuel
The Energy & Environmental Research
Center (EERC) at the University of North
Dakota in Grand Forks has begun a demonstration of a new clean energy technology
that converts used railroad ties into heat and
power. The demonstration unit is located
inside the EERC’s National Center for
Hydrogen Technology demonstration facility.
The EERC is working with the Winnipeg-based Aboriginal Cogeneration Corp. (ACC)
to convert biomass to energy in environmentally friendly ways. The company will install
two 1 MW commercial clean power systems
at its demonstration site northeast of
Vancouver in Kamloops, B.C.
In conjunction with ACC, the EERC
has reached a major milestone in generating power from waste ties via a proprietary
EERC process that meets the stringent
environmental regulations of British
Columbia. The EERC process also reduces
emissions to well below levels stipulated
by U.S. federal regulations.
According to Nikhil Patel, EERC project
manager and research scientist, “Railroad
ties treated with creosote are some of the
most difficult biomass feedstocks to process
safely because they contain significant
amounts of coal tar. The U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency has placed severe restrictions on the disposal of the railroad ties
because the tar can be harmful to humans.”
Each year 25 million railroad ties are disposed
of in North America.
The EERC’s power system can process
about 35-40 lb/hr of railroad ties, which are
chipped before being fed into the system.
The system operates at a much lower pressure and flow rate than other systems of
this type, making it much easier to operate
and integrate with other commercially
available technologies for generating heat
College Students Protest
Campus Coal Use
Students at several college campuses
nationwide are urging their schools to stop
burning coal at on-site power plants in
favor of using cleaner energy sources. On
Sept. 16, students at the University of
Missouri and other campuses launched
a coal-free campus campaign led by the
Sierra Club and the Sierra Student Coalition.
The campaign began the same day a
group of more than 130 college presidents
and other leaders in education rallied in
Washington in support of strong climate
and clean energy legislation.
The Sierra Club kicked off the campaign
with the release of its report Breaking Coal’s
Grip on Our Future: Moving Campuses
ment that Cornell President David Skorton
signed in 2007. It will incur no extra cost
for the university and could save hundreds
of millions of dollars over the next 40 years.
Forty-two percent of Cornell’s carbon
savings could come from upgrading steam-turbine electric generators, using wood
instead of coal for boiler fuel and converting
from coal to natural gas, among other actions.
Cornell’s combined heat and power plant
will switch to natural gas this winter, which
will already reduce the university’s carbon
footprint by 20 percent. The plan also calls
for incorporating other renewable energy
sources like wind, biomass-to-energy and
The University of New Hampshire
(UNH) earlier this year completed EcoLine™,
a landfill gas-to-energy project that uses
purified methane gas from a nearby landfill
to power the campus. The 5 million-sq-ft
campus will receive up to 85 percent of its
electricity and heat from purified natural gas,
making UNH the first university in the nation
to use landfill gas as its primary fuel source.
After the gas is purified and compressed
at a new UNH processing plant at Waste
Management’s Turnkey Recycling and
Environmental Enterprise landfill in Rochester,
it travels through a 12.7-mile pipeline to
UNH’s combined heat and power plant.
Cornell Unveils Climate
Cornell University released its Climate
Action Plan Sept. 15, mapping out how the
campus will achieve its goal of climate neutrality. Presented entirely online in a paper-less format, the plan aims to enhance
Cornell’s mission of academics, research
and outreach while cutting net carbon
emissions to zero by 2050. The plan includes
19 specific actions across five key areas: green
development, energy conservation, fuel mix
and renewable energy, transportation, and
carbon offsetting actions.
The plan fulfills the American College
and University Presidents’ Climate Commit-
EcoLine™ is a partnership with Waste
Management’s Turnkey Recycling and
Environmental Enterprise in Rochester, N.H.,
where the naturally occurring by-product of
landfill decomposition is collected, purified and
compressed before traveling via a 12.7-mile
pipeline to the University of New Hampshire.