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Sunday, August 24, 2014
Cutting Energy Costs: Methanol Beats LNG for Hawaii?
By Selected News Articles @ 12:22 AM :: 4870 Views :: Energy, Cost of Living

Methanol as a bridge fuel for Hawaii

NOTE: Eastwind Power Partners Ltd. of New York together with three major worldwide methanol producers have made a unsolicited proposal to provide fuel grade methanol to Hawaiian Electric Company Inc. (HECO) for certain of their (and contracted independent power producer) power plants on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii Islands. 

by Arthur S. Nislick, Eastwind Power Partners Ltd., August 22, 2014

Honolulu - Methanol made from low cost US natural gas is an ideal energy carrier to replace fuel oil and distillates for electricity production. Methanol is easily transported in ocean going product tankers which can discharge into existing bulk storage and delivered by pipeline to the fossil fueled power plants in Hawaii. Methanol is competitive with LNG in cryogenic containers currently contemplated for Hawaii. Except for one coal fired power plant in Hawaii, all fossil fueled generating plants use liquid petroleum derived fuels. Methanol is a liquid fuel which has proven to be suitable in both utility boilers and turbine powered generation.

Methanol is available from multiple and sustainable sources at competitive price which affords a reliable and secure energy supply chain to Hawaii. Moreover, methanol can be delivered to all of Hawaii's Neighbor Islands using existing infrastructure for handling liquid fuels.

The investment in specialized infrastructure to accommodate Hawaii's LNG requirements is not economically justifiable when considering that methanol is available now and existing power plants can be adapted to using methanol with minor modifications. Rather, spend the money on improving fossil fuel generation by greater use of modern combined cycle technology which converts methanol to electricity at efficiencies of 55% versus 32% for Hawaii's existing steam units.

LNG delivered in containers will have to be transshiped by truck from the container port to the generating stations. This will cause traffic congestion and increase the probability of accidents. Trucks burning diesel fuel will add cost and negatively affect air quality. Thousands of cryogenic containers would be required to meet Hawaii's needs at the steam plants in Kahe and Waiau (the plants that must switch to cleaner fuel by mid 2016 to comply with air quality regulations) This presents a logistical challenge. Methanol received at Barbers Point would be delivered by pipeline; thus avoiding the aforementioned problems.

Two generating units in Oahu, the major load center, can be adapted for methanol fuels in combination with biodiesel (when available at affordable cost). These units (Campbell Industrial Park 1 and Kalaeloa Partners) would be capable of providing 35% of Oahu's energy at a combined thermal efficiency of 48% and become the cleanest, lowest cost generating facilities in Hawaii. These plants are adjacent to existing port facilities at Barbers Point and can receive methanol fuel via pipeline.

Methanol deserves serious evaluation as a clean, affordable energy source which can reduce electricity costs for Hawaiian ratepayers and significantly improve the environment.

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Author’s Biography

Arthur Nislick has more than 50 years of technical, marketing and general management experience in chemical engineering, industrial plant design and contracting, technology development, licensing and marketing, commercial project development and finance in the Chemical and Hydrocarbon Process, Synthetic Fuels and Independent Electric Power Industries.

Since early 1997, he has been active in providing strategic management consulting and project development assistance to a number of firms in the energy sector. Projects included cogeneration, Coal to liquids, biomass energy conversion to liquids, methanol to DME, ethanol from biomass, solar and wind energy.

He holds a degree in chemical engineering from the City University of New York and has taken a number of advanced graduate courses in general management, strategic planning, project evaluation and finance.

During his 12 years with CE Lummus Global (a business unit of ABB) as Vice President of Commercial Development and Synfuels, his responsibilities included the development licensing and commercialization of in-house and third party proprietary chemical and petrochemical process technology.  Projects included maleic anhydride, isophthalonitrile, chlorinated hydrocarbons, Shell coal gasification, coal liquefaction, ethanol and other technologies.

In 1985, he was elected the first President/CEO of the non-regulated generation affiliate (PSEG Global) of Public Service Enterprise Group.  He was responsible for directing the company's activities from its inception until his retirement in 1997 and served on the board and management committees of its subsidiaries and joint venture affiliates.   During this period, the company grew to become a major global participant in the Independent Power Industry with projects and investments in the USA, Latin America, Middle East, China and other countries in the Asia Pacific region. In China, he oversaw the establishment of Meiya Power Company which developed and invested in a number of commercial power generation projects.

He is familiar with the technology and economics of an array of energy conversion methodologies including coal liquefaction, gasification, fluidized bed combustion, chemicals from coal, hydrocarbon processing and synthetic fuels, petrochemicals and electric power generation and cogeneration.   During the course of his career, he was instrumental in the development and management of a number of commercial projects employing these technologies.

The author may be reached at arthur.nislick@eastwindenergy.com

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