US Energy Policy Act

US President Bush finally signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005 into law in August. The wide-ranging Act creates the first national energy plan for the US in more than a decade. It will, according to the White House, encourage energy efficiency and conservation, promote alternative and renewable energy sources, reduce US dependence on foreign sources of energy, increase domestic production, help to modernize the electricity grid, and encourage the expansion of nuclear energy.

The Act offers consumers tax credits for making energyefficiency improvements in their homes and sets new minimum energy-efficiency standards for a range of consumer and commercial products. It will also reduce government energy use by reauthorizing the Energy Savings Performance Contract programme, adds the White House. This allows private contractors to help federal agencies improve the energy efficiency of their facilities.

The Act also aims to help modernize aging energy infrastructure to help reduce the risk of large-scale blackouts and minimize transmission bottlenecks. The Act is designed to promote the use of renewable energy sources with tax credits for wind, solar and biomass energy, including the firstever tax credit for residential solar energy systems. It also expands research into developing hydrogen technologies and establishes a national Renewable Fuels Standard to encourage greater use of renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel.

The potential effect of the new Act on decentralized energy is as yet unclear, but COSPP will no doubt return to this subject in the next issue.

Dutch tomatoes under the Prominent brand benefit from the electricity, heat and CO2 output from the CHP plants

A group of tomato growers in the Netherlands is using GE Energy’s Jenbacher cogeneration systems to cut energy bills and boost both crop production and global exports. GE Energy is supplying 17 cogeneration systems to the Prominent Growers Association, which consists of 21 commercial growers, for use at various greenhouses in the Netherlands. In all, the plants will generate 46 MW of power and 55 MW of heat.

The engines are providing the growers with a reliable and costeffective on-site supply of power for assimilation lighting, plus heat and carbon dioxide to create the correct environmental balance for cultivating vine-ripened tomatoes under the Prominent brand name.

In addition to providing power and heat, GE’s natural gas-fuelled engines are equipped with technology it calls CodiNox. This produces carbon dioxide for use to stimulate plant growth. Carbon dioxide from the engines’ exhaust is separated and purified in a catalytic converter before it is passed into the greenhouses. This process increases the concentration of the gas in the greenhouse to a level ideal for plant growth and can increase the crop yield by up to 10%.

The cogeneration technology therefore allows Prominent’s members to manage their production schedules and have almost the same production levels in winter as in summer, says GE Energy.