US Energy Bill 'Dead In The Water'

The US Senate has abandoned, for time being, plans to pass an energy bill that would have included incentives for renewable energy. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist decided in late November to pull the plug on efforts to pass the much-contested bill, allowing the Senate to adjourn for Thanksgiving.

The bill had passed the House of Representatives but has been held up in the Senate by a Democrat-led filibuster, and time for finding a compromise simply ran out.

The bill - seen as largely toothless or worse by conservation groups - was nevertheless the first overhaul of energy policy for a decade. It aimed to offer billions of dollars worth of incentives for investments in natural gas drilling, coal-fired power plants and nuclear power - but also for alternative energy, through tax credits for wind energy generators and landfill gas tax credits. It would also require the federal government, where feasible, to buy a fixed proportion of its energy from renewable resources.

The energy bill had generated disagreements in a number of areas, including the upgrading of electricity grid rules; encouragement for the use of ethanol (instead of MTBE) as a fuel additive; permits to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) and a proposed gas pipeline linking Alaska with the lower states.


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The European cogeneration market seems likely to emerge from the doldrums of the past few years, aided by two recent pieces of European legislation. First, the Emissions Trading guidelines (which set in place the precise way in which large energy users, in particular, will calculate their emissions of greenhouse gases), and secondly the European Cogeneration Directive, published in late February.

As emissions trading helps industry become aware of the value of carbon savings - and thus the value of higher-efficiency power generation - cogeneration markets could benefit. The Cogeneration Directive, on the other hand, puts in place the legal certainty for CHP, commented Simon Minett of COGEN Europe. Each Member State will need to evaluate potential for CHP and move towards achieving that potential - in most that should be in the 20%-40% range, said Simon Minett, speaking at COGEN Europe's annual conference in February.

The next stage for COGEN Europe is to move beyond the new legislation. The organization is planning the launch of a European Cogeneration Initiative in autumn, when the new European Commission will be in place, and is seeking input from its members. As part of the Initiative, Simon Minett hopes to sign an agreement with the new Commission - possibly modelled on that signed between the US CHPA and the US Government through the DOE and EPA - to commit to a significant increase in the amount of CHP installed in Europe.


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