IAGS logo Energy Security
Prepared by the
Institute for the Analysis of Global Security

January 21, 2004
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Terror's Next Target
Attacks on the West's oil and gas infrastructure -- from production facilities to pipelines and tankers -- are likely to be the next "mega" target of terrorists, and could wreak havoc with the world's economy, according to an in-depth IAGS analysis of the susceptibility of the energy industry featured in the latest Journal of International Security Affairs (Winter 2004).

Minding Its Business
Saudi Arabia, which has demonstrated its willingness to use its vast oil reserves as a foreign policy tool, has not acted to aid U.S. efforts to rebuild Iraq.

Fencing in looters and saboteurs in Iraq
Too many people in and outside of Iraq are hoping to deny Iraq a better future through a campaign of sabotage and plunder of the country's neglected oil facilities. The problem, and possible solutions.

Energy security and liquefied natural gas
Demand for natural gas has increased as have the security vulnerabilities presented by liquefied natural gas terminals and tankers.

Under the Radar

Oil, terrorism and drugs intermingle in Colombia
Seventy U.S. Special Forces soldiers are training Colombians to protect an oil pipeline.

Japan's struggle to secure future oil supply
Energy dependent Japan looks to Iran for oil, causing tension with the U.S.

Chad-Cameroon pipeline project put to test
Will the pipeline, partially financed by the World Bank, improve the lot of Chad and Cameroon or exacerbate existing corruption and strife?

Natural resource curse hits São Tomé
A tiny West African country illustrates a well known problem.

On the technology front

Fuel Cell Locomotive for Military and Commercial Railways
An international consortium is developing the world’s largest fuel cell vehicle, a 109 metric-ton, 1 MW locomotive.

Fuel cell power plant installed at NJ Sheraton
A stationary fuel cell will supply 250 kilowatts of electric power as well as heat to the Sheraton Edison Hotel, accounting for about 25% of the hotel's electricity and hot water.

Fuel cell scooters for Europe and China
Palcan's fuel cell powered scooter is designed to address the world's need for a low-end mass transport vehicle.

U.S. Air Force to get fuel cell bus
Fuel cell powered thirty-foot hybrid bus to be stationed at the Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii.

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Back Issues

World's first fuel cell plant to operate on coalmine methane gas

FuelCell Energy Inc. announced the dedication of the world's first fuel cell power plant, its 200-kW Direct FuelCell® (DFC®) power plant, to operate on coalmine methane gas at a ceremony at the AEP Ohio Coal LLC Rose Valley Site in Hopedale, Ohio. The site is about 60 miles west of Pittsburgh and is operated by Northwest Fuel Development, Inc. The purpose of the project, co-funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory, is to demonstrate the feasibility and advantages of methane from coalmines to generate electricity cleanly and efficiently.

The power plant uses approximately 55,000 - 80,000 cubic feet per day of a coalmine methane gas containing 42-47% methane. American Electric Power (AEP) is purchasing the electricity generated at the site under a power purchase agreement between Northwest Fuel Development, Inc. and AEP.

Hans Maru, chief technology officer of FuelCell Energy remarked on the potential that this demonstration represents. "This project is very exciting for a number of reasons. First, by using coalmine methane to power our DFC power plants, we're generating electricity cleanly and efficiently from a readily available domestic fuel source. Second, we're helping to eliminate escaping methane, which is a harmful greenhouse gas. Third, we are demonstrating the economics of using coalmine methane as an opportunity fuel to generate electricity in a clean power source such as our DFC power plants."

"This demonstration," said DOE's Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy, Carl Michael Smith, "supports President Bush's long-range goals for energy, environmental and economic security on terms that deliver new jobs and rising prosperity. It is innovation of a high order. It recovers the methane gas that is a hazard in coal mining and a strong agent of possible climate change and turns it into a useful energy resource. In this way it expands our Nation's inventory of useable energy reserves, supports miner safety and contributes to the President's Clear Skies, Climate and National Energy Policy initiatives. Once proved and deployed on a wide scale this new technology could make marked contributions in each area."

Methane from coal seams is vented in the course of mining operations to reduce hazards to mining. Some abandoned mines also emit methane to the atmosphere, which is the case at the Rose Valley Site. In the United States alone, coalmine methane emissions to the atmosphere are estimated in excess of 500 million cubic feet per day. Various methods of recovering and managing coalmine methane have been employed at mines for many years. However, efforts to find ways to recover and use coalmine methane have increased. Because methane traps heat 20 times more effectively than carbon dioxide, U.S. mine methane emissions are equivalent to exhaust from a dozen 500-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plants or taking approximately 17 million cars off the road.

FuelCell Energy estimates that as of 1999, 75% of the world's coalmine methane emissions from active and abandoned coalmines come from the top six countries with coal mining operations. A total of approximately 1,000 megawatts of fuel cell power could be generated using coalmine methane from active and abandoned mines. The United States alone has approximately 300 megawatts of unutilized coalmine methane capacity. At an estimated $1,000/kW, the 1,000 MW worldwide potential for FuelCell Energy's DFC power plants is equivalent to a $1 billion market.

Also see:
Fuel cell power plant installed at NJ Sheraton

Caterpillar and FuelCell Energy Announce Largest Fuel Cell Power Plant Installation in Illinois