Maine Based AeroSpace Company breaks Bio Barriers at -14 & Zero G

Posted by Kelly Burke on Mar 17, 2021 9:46:00 AM

Rocket

Maine-based bluShift Aerospace successfully launched and landed the first commercial rocket powered by biofuel on January 31st of this year. Not only did the rocket successfully launch running on bio, but it did so at a staggering -14 degrees fahrenheit! 

The rocket runs on a proprietary biofuel created by bluShift's founder, Sascha Deri. The fuel is cheaper than standard petroleum derived rocket fuel, is non-toxic, and is close to net-zero. The performance of the rocket in the frigid January temperatures in Northern Maine is a critical component of success as well - biofuels notoriously have cold flow issues that can be an impediment to some applications. If that issue is off the table, the option opens up for their use in arenas like satellite placement, etc. 

The success the launch is seen as a hopeful step forward both for the application of biofuels in space related avenues, and a step forward for "Spaceport Maine" becoming a reality in the future. 

I wrote an article for Oil & Energy magazine on the bluShift Aerospace launch, if you want more info on this launch, the planned upcoming launch of Stardust 2.0 and the Spaceport Maine concept - you can read it here: Running Bio at -14 degrees and Zero G

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Topics: Biofuels, maine, space, net-zero

Maine Central Power Clears Regulatory Hurdle, Stalls on Legal Challenge

Posted by Kelly Burke on Feb 26, 2021 11:17:00 AM

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Central Maine Power's proposal for a 145 mile electricity transmission line through the Western part of the State has cleared the final regulatory hurdle. Central Maine Power (Avangrid) recieved a Presidential Permit from the US Department of Energy for their $950 million dollar "New England Clean Energy Connect" (NECEC) Project to be able to cross the Canadian Border. (As an aside, if you want to read about the project in detail their website is a great resource: NECEC

When completed, the project will run 1,200 megawatts of hydroelectric energy from Hydro-Quebec to Massachusetts. The project is funded by MA ratepayers but arguably will help the entire New England region's grid. 

The permit was the last major hurdle outstanding for the project, but more obstacles have popped up. As crews prepared to go to work when the DOE permit was granted, a judge granted an injunction to stop work for 30 days as outstanding filings are adjudicated regarding a separate permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. Work is stopped as the court process moves on, but Maine Central Power is confident the project will continue. 

Upon completion, estimates say the project will reduce regional carbon emissions by 3-3.6 million metric tons per year (the equivalent of removing 700,000 cars from the road) Another portion of the project involves $200 million in upgrades to the Maine power grid, and a $250 million high voltage converter station in Lewiston that will direct current into alternating current to feed the regional grid. 

I wrote a piece for Oil & Energy Magazine on the Central Maine project, you can read it in its entirety here: Central Maine Power Line Stalled Again

 

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Topics: carbon emissions, renewable energy, maine, hydro-electric

Debates Raise Net-Zero & Climate Action Questions  - Here's what the Industry has been doing in the Northeast

Posted by Ed Burke on Oct 23, 2020 12:20:03 PM

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With the Oil Industry, Climate Change, and emissions top of mind after last night's Presidential Debates, we thought it was a good time to review what Massachusetts, New England, and specifically, the Oil Industry in the Northeast have been doing on emissions and climate change recently. 

The Local Industry: In September 2019, the Northeast's heating oil sector voted unanimously at the NEFI energy conference to establish a goal of Net Zero GHG emissions by 2050 (drooping 15% by 2023, 40% by 2030, Net Zero by 2050). You can read the details of the the unanimous motion here: The Road to Net Zero Starts Here 

Beyond specific carbon level moves, the New England & Northeast region has been ahead of the game for decades on promoting biofuels and renewable energy projects. This is a great snapshot of regional Biofuel and renewable energy standards by state in the region: Biofuel & Electrification at a Glance

Massachusetts & the City of Boston were some of the earliest and most ardent adopters of biodiesel and other clean energy options, including sulfur limits in diesel fuel & heating oil. New York moved first to ultra low sulfur diesel regionally, and New York City adopted biofuels very early on.

Regionally though, all of the Northeast states have been working diligently on doing what they can to adopt more renewable and environmentally friendly options from regional food waste to fuel recycling, to major solar projects, to geothermal microzones, to making Crude from wood in Maine.

 

Massachusetts: In April 2020, the Baker-Polito Administration issued a formal determination letter that officially set the legal limit for emissions at net zero for 2050. The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) official statement is:

"A level of statewide greenhouse gas emissions that is equal in quantity to the amount of carbon dioxide or its equivalent that is removed from the atmosphere and stored annually by, or attributable to, the Commonwealth; provided, however, that in no event shall the level of emissions be greater than a level that is 85 percent below the 1990 level". 

In other words, not only net-zero on emissions but emissions overall (captured or not) need to stay below previously established levels. 

The net zero target was initially announced in January 2018 at Baker's State of the Commonwealth address. The way the State achieves the goal for 2050 will be laid out in the "2050 Roadmap", and the roadmap will also be used to set interim emission limits for 2030, and those limits will be officially laid out in the "Massachusetts Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2030". You can follow updates to the plan at mass.gov here: MA Decarbonization Roadmap

In addition to the newer net zero goals, Massachusetts has been on the leading edge of climate and emissions reduction goals for decades - for a refresher:

Massachusetts Green Communities -  Communities can compete for grants to support energy efficiency & renewable projects in the Commonwealth. This includes ventilation system upgrades, heating system conversions, electric vehicles, insulation projects, etc. 

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative & Transportation Climate Inititatives - regional incentivized emission reduction

Heres an overall recap on what the state accomplished for 2018 on Clean Energy: Massachusetts Pushes Clean Energy Forward in 2018

Overall: There is much work to be done on climate, and serious questions need to develop into serious policy based answers going forward.

One can only hope that we see some movement on climate initiatives in some form in the next 4 years that moves the needle while balancing the serious economic concerns of businesses and consumers, regardless of what the winning Administration looks like. 

We're glad to work in a region that is putting the work in to make changes while attempting to maintain that balance.

 

 

 

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Topics: Massachusetts, climate change, renewable energy, maine

Ferry Cool Changes on the Water in Maine

Posted by Ed Burke on Sep 21, 2020 9:19:44 AM

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The newest passenger boat for Maine's Casco Bay Lines will be running a diesel-electric hybrid propulsion engine. The hybrid will be handling the Portland to Peaks Island run, fully on electricity. The diesel engine will function as a backup, or be engaged for trips longer than the normal run. This assigned route is approximately 2.5 miles, which should allow the ferry to travel one way, charge at docking (~10-15 minutes) and run the return trip on electricity as well. 

If you aren't familiar, Casco Bay Line's ferry runs all year round and carries over a million passengers, 30,000 vehicles, and 5,300 tons of freight in a given year, so they are a critical part of transportation in Maine,. The ferry functions as a vital link between the islands & main lands that allows for commuting to school, work, and postage services. 

The project is being funded in part by a Federal Grant as part of the Federal Transit Administrations Ferry Grant Program. Vessels essentially hit a point where maintenance becomes cost prohibitive (after about 30 years of operation), and the grant for this particular ferry project will replace one such vessel. The replacement with a hybrid is projected to eliminate up to 800 metric tons of carbon emissions annually. The new vessel should be completed and in operation by the end of 2022. 

I wrote an article for Oil & Energy this month about the Casco Bay project, as well as the Federal Fund Grant generally. You can read that article in its entirety here: A Ferry Different Approach

 

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Topics: Oil & Energy Magazine, climate change, carbon emissions, maine, Hybrid

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