2010 August 6

The Master Resource Report  2010-08-06

Pemex manages to lose money? (page 1 )

Is the Middle East facing a natural gas shortage? (page 2 )

Average US oil well production has fallen 49% since peak in 1970’s? (page 2 )

Biofuel Model – Russian wheat production troubles. (page 3 )

Middle East oil still floating in tankers. (page 3 )

Oil’s price is now back to its decade trend line. (page 4 )

photon enhanced thermionic emission

Ok, so what is “photon enhanced thermionic emission (PETE)” technology? It is a new technology developed at Stanford University that simultaneously use the light and heat of the sun to generate electricity. With conventional PV panels heat becomes a problem when the panels get hot reducing the performance of the photo cells ability to produce electricity. With this new approach the heat actually contributes to the power generation.

The result of this dual light and heat approach according to the researchers is a totally new technology that will be both efficient and affordable. “What we’ve demonstrated is a new physical process that is not based on standard photovoltaic mechanisms, but can give you a photovoltaic-like response at very high temperatures,” Melosh said. “In fact, it works better at higher temperatures. The higher the better.”

Yes it does run hot! “Because PETE performs best at temperatures well in excess of what a rooftop solar panel would reach, the devices will work best in solar concentrators such as parabolic dishes, which can get as hot as 800 degrees C.”

Smart Grid News

The electric grid in the U.S. is based on a just-in-time delivery model which presents a problem when renewables scale up to supply power. “Large renewables and other new technologies supply energy to the grid at varying capacities and spontaneous times, not necessarily aligned with energy demand.” That is why utility scale storage and demand balancing as advocated by Tom Konrad together will play key roles and provide investment opportunities.

However, not all smart grid news is good news. Xcel Energy’s SmartGridCity was going to be the leading light that would show the way forward with the smart grid. It turns out it may have just been a black hole no one saw coming.

Jesse Burst, editor of the Smart Grid News wrote a commentary this week that tries to sort out what happened. For those interested in the smart grid it is worth a read. “… here’s why the situation is troubling for all of us: SmartGridCity has been touted the world over as a vision to emulate. Even if some of the participants made mistakes, they deserve credit for the courage to be pathfinders. But will regulators and ratepayers see it that way? Or will this loom as a giant stop sign?”