What’s behind EEStor?

The Austin-American Statesman has a fairly lengthy article today about EEStor Inc. and its potentially ground-breaking energy storage system. The story doesn’t provide new information from a technical perspective, but what it does do is provide a little more background information on EEStor co-founders Richard Weir and Carl Nelson. The author of the piece also does a good job tracking down people who have worked or associated with both men or have been briefed on EEStor’s technology. While doubts remain about whether EEStor can deliver on its promises, there appears to be general agreement that Weir and Nelson are legit and their technology claims, while challenging to achieve, have a solid basis in science.

What’s behind EEStor?

The Austin-American Statesman has a fairly lengthy article today about EEStor Inc. and its potentially ground-breaking energy storage system. The story doesn’t provide new information from a technical perspective, but what it does do is provide a little more background information on EEStor co-founders Richard Weir and Carl Nelson. The author of the piece also does a good job tracking down people who have worked or associated with both men or have been briefed on EEStor’s technology. While doubts remain about whether EEStor can deliver on its promises, there appears to be general agreement that Weir and Nelson are legit and their technology claims, while challenging to achieve, have a solid basis in science.

Gone with the wind

The Globe and Mail has this opinion piece (free registration may be required) talking about the disappointing performance at some wind installations in Quebec. It’s a sobering reminder that wind, while a terrific renewable, isn’t always reliable and that it’s crucial to locate these projects in the right areas. Is wind overhyped? I don’t think the potential is overhyped, but certainly we have to be careful about making big promises that don’t deliver and that fly in the face of sound economics.

I’m curious to know your views on this…

Notes of recognition

I just want to congratulate Marion Fraser, senior policy advisor to Ontario’s minister of energy, for being honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award last week at the 2nd annual Green Building Festival in Toronto. The award — three were given out — goes to individuals “who have shown leadership, vision and determination in driving market transformation.” I can vouch for that — Marion has been a driving force behind a number of renewable and distributed energy initiatives out of the ministry of energy, including the standard offer program and the push for more combined heat and power. Her efforts behind the scenes are leading to a better Ontario.

Secondly, congrats go out to my friend Jose Etcheverry, the research and policy analyst for the David Suzuki Foundation’s climate change program. Jose recently informed me while at a renewables storage conference in Germany that he was nominated to become chair of the World Council for Renewable Energy. In the words of Jose, “It is a great honour and I look forward to doing some good work for them.” I know you will.

ATS update, and conservation in Ontario

Just want to point out two articles I wrote this past week in the Toronto Star.

The first takes a look at ATS Automation and the difficulty it could have spinning off its Photowatt Technologies solar business. When ATS announced it was spinning off Photowatt earlier in the year, the potential value of its Spheral Solar operaton — which makes flexible solar cells using a unique mass-manufacturing approach — was calculated into valuations. But ATS has had problems getting Spheral Solar up and running with reliable commercial product. More recently, it signalled it may have to shut down the Cambridge, Ontario, operation pending the outcome of a review due in January. If that happens, one must wonder how the market will received Photowatt’s IPO, given it would no longer have a unique technology to distinguish itself in an increasingly crowded and overheated solar market.

The second story has to do with an announcement by the Ontario government to expand three conservation pilot programs across the province. One program offers a discount to electricity customers that reduce their consumption below a certain threshold (based on a similar program in California), while another is a voluntary program that lets utilities remotely control (i.e. turn down/off) air conditioners and pool pumps during peak periods when electricity demand is high. The third program is a “fridge bounty” program — essentially, the government will pay to remove and recycle that old inefficient fridge in your basement, in hopes that more households will be encouraged to replace them with new, high-efficiency models.

It’s a good start. Now we just need a few dozen other programs like these to make a significant impact.