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Projects Updates for Energy Generation, Purchasing, & Distribution (eGen) SWATeam


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  1. iWG meeting minutes August 28, 2015

  2. iWG meeting agenda August 28, 2015

  3. Jul 9 2015 Minutes

    see file

    Several SWATeam recommendations were discussed.  Also, an update from the Sustainability Council was provided:

    "Review of Council Meeting/Status of iCAP Approval - The Sustainability Council meeting went very well with lots of good discussion. There were not too many serious objections to the iCAP. They would like to see financial information, such as cost-benefit analysis on projects. This information will be included in the study for accelerating our carbon neutrality date. The cover letter from the Chancellor affirming our commitment will include language about the current fiscal climate in Illinois. The Chancellor was keen to be able to reach carbon neutrality by 2035. Other concerns were in regard to the net zero space item and they suggested a space audit be included in the iCAP."

  4. EGen002 Utilities Master Plan Review recommendation - Unit response - Denied

    Facilities & Services unit rejected the recommendation. F&S's response was sent to the iWG and EGen SWATeam on June 15th, 2015. However, this recommendation led to the EGen004 Electrification Study recommendation.

    See SWATeam recommendation EGen004 Electrification Study here.

    See Transmittal of EGen002 Utilities Master Plan Review to the unit here.

    See iWG Assessment of EGen002 Utilities Master Plan Review here.

    See SWATeam recommendation EGen002 Utilities Master Plan Review here.

  5. May 21 2015 minutes

  6. EGen002 Utilities Master Plan Review recommendation - Submitted

    The eGen SWATeam submitted a recommendation to the iWG stating, "Seek expert external reviews of the Utilities Master Plan."

    See attached the SWATeam recommendation EGen002 Utilities Master Plan Review complete with comments from all the eGen SWATeam members.

  7. Biomass Consultation Group

    Dear Energy Enthusiasts,

    Thanks to all who attended the first Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE) biomass meeting, we are off with a strong start. This week we we will have the second consultation group meeting to carry on discussion and orient goals toward improving sustainability on campus. 

    Dong Kook will present on the most recent publications from the research group of Praveen Kumar in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. His topic for discussion will be Threshold Dynamics in Soil Carbon Storage for Bioenergy Crops. Click (here) to become familiar with their group's work.   

    We are gathering all interested persons to discuss the possibilities for a large-scale biomass facility that could eventually replace Abbott Power Plant. All ideas are welcome. Please pass this invitation on to anyone you think might be interested.



    Meeting details:

    Time: Tuesday, November 18 from 1:00pm-2:30pm

    Location: iSEE Conference room #358

                     National Soybean Research Center (directions here)

                     1101 W. Peabody Drive

                     Urbana, IL 61801


    Thanks and have a great weekend.


    Nathan Wells

  8. draft chapter for iCAP


         Thanks a lot for a careful reading of the draft and for the many suggestions.   I have incorporated as many of your suggestions as I could, and left out as many things you crossed out as I could.    I usually found your rewording of sentences preferable to the originals.  Below is a list of reasons for why I did not make some of your suggested changes:

    1.        Opening paragraph: It is our generation of steam and electricity on campus, and our purchase of grid electricity, that releases carbon dioxide, and we should say that.   These secondary energies are used to heat and cool buildings and to provide electricity to campus, but buildings can be heated and cooled, and electricity generated, in other ways that involve much less,  little, or no carbon dioxide emissions.   So carbon dioxide emissions are not integral to heating, cooling, or electricity generation, while they are integral to burning natural gas and coal.  

    2.       It is problematic to say what percentage of carbon dioxide emissions is associated with coal, natural gas, and purchased electricity.    The first problem is that we purchased RECs, and so we should subtract from the purchased electricity  the carbon emissions avoided by this purchase (even though the actual amount avoided is “zero”).   The second problem is that we sold carbon credits to Chevrolet, so we should add this back to our carbon emissions.     I don’t even want to think about how to do that.  

    3.       The discussion of combined heat and power is also problematic.   I decided to give the efficiency of electricity production and steam production separately.   Combining them into a total efficiency is a common thing to do, but by doing that you are combining two very different things.    Comparing with a conventional coal-fired electric generating plant is also problematic.    Why not compare with a combined-cycle gas turbine that is 60% efficient for electricity production?

    4.       To say it is a daunting task “in both scope and budget” implies that we have looked at budget figures, which is not true (yet). 

    5.       I would rather not get into the details of handling energy fluctuations and storage.   These are serious issues, and they will have to be addressed eventually.   I simply put in a disclaimer sentence rather than try to deal with the issues (in part because how to deal with the issues is uncertain).

    6.       I included nuclear on campus, as you suggested, although this may be out of the question.  I don't really know.     I had initially put it in, then taken it out, so what the heck.   I actually emailed the Secretary of Energy, but he never replied (surprise).

    7.       iCAP has a clear (enough) definition of goals, objectives, and strategies.   I realize these words can be interpreted in different ways, but here is the iCAP definition (in my own words):

    Goals: XX% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030, etc.

    Objectives: Increase solar photovoltaics on campus

    Strategies: Identify buildings, land, and parking lots that can support solar photovoltaics.

                     The way you have rewritten things mixes up goals and objectives.  

    8.       More importantly, you are proposing that we advocate for rethinking the way the goals are defined, in terms of CO2 per enrolled student or CO2 per research dollar.  This would impact not just our group, but potentially all of the iCAP groups.   I don’t think we should be advocating for this in this document.   We were asked to set goals compared to 2008 emissions.   If you want to advocate for a different way to set goals, you will need to talk to Ben about that. 

    9.       I decided not to fight the REC issue.   I don’t know why you disagree with my stance on them, but we are not going to settle this today. 

    10.   I don’t want to say that geothermal and air-source heat pumps use “large” amounts of electricity.    Large compared to what?   A geothermal system with a COP for heating of 3.8 (like Ball State) powered by a 50% efficient gas turbine would have an efficiency of 190%.   Combustion of anything (coal, biomass,…) for heating can never have an efficiency greater than 100%.   In this sense the amount of electricity used is “small”.

    11.   I wrote a conclusion section.

    There are many other small things that I am not mentioning here.  If you or anyone else disagrees with anything in this email or the revised draft, please tell me why so we can discuss.

       Finally, let me confess that I rushed to get this out to you all today, so please forgive typos, word crimes, etc. (but do point them out to me)


  9. syngas discussion

    Hi Scott,

    I am not an expert on this, by any means, but I have heard from previous biomass investigations that the on campus facility would need a lot more acreage for biomass storage than currently feasible at the existing Abbott Power Plant site.



    From: Willenbrock, Scott S
    Sent: Friday, October 10, 2014 9:30 AM
    To: Johnston, Morgan B
    Subject: syngas


         Thanks for sending the biomass document.   I haven’t had time to even look at it!    But let me ask you a question that has been running through my head:

    Here are two alternative ways to burn biomass:

    1.       Truck it to campus and burn it directly in a biomass facility.   The biomass is essentially replacing coal in this scheme.

    2.       Truck it to a location off campus, gasify it, pipe it through a new pipeline to campus, and burn it on campus.   In this scheme the biomass is essentially replacing natural gas.

    My question is this: what are the advantages of 2. compared to 1.?


  10. draft recommendations

    Egen gang,

    I apologize but I am not able to make the meeting today.

    I have taken a first VERY ROUGH pass at an Energy Generation document based on the document that Ben sent out this weekend, as well as the format and content of the previous report.

    Please note that the targets are something that I put down to get us started thinking.  We will certainly need to review the %’s to insure they both “push the envelope”, but are also achievable.

    I tried to capture all of the strategies that I recall having been discussed.

    When we reach some consensus on the targets and strategies, I will be happy to help putting some of the supporting text down for review as well.

    Mike Larson

    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    Director of Utilities Production

    Attached Files: 
  11. iWG follow up letter

    Dear Al,

    Attached please find a reply from the iCAP Working Group regarding the wind PPA process.

    By the way, thanks so much for your participation in iSEE's Roundtable this week...sorry we didn't get a chance to chat!




    Professor Benjamin J. McCall

    Associate Director for Campus Sustainability Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign



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