NewEnergyNews

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

The challenge: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • Weekend Video: The Ocean Speaks Out
  • Weekend Video: Adapting To The Inevitable
  • Weekend Video: The Joy Of Driving EVs Powered By The Sun
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-HOTTEST SEPTEMBER EVER; WORLD’S HOTTEST MONTHS STREAK AT SIX
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-EU WIND BEATS FOSSIL, NUKE ENERGY PRICES
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-DESERTEC SUCCUMBS TO MIDEAST TURMOIL
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-JAPAN UPS PUSH FOR GEOTHERMAL
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    GET THE DAILY HEADLINES EMAIL: CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR SEND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, Oct. 16:

  • TTTA Thursday-THE MILITARY FALLS FOR THE HOAX
  • TTTA Thursday-FORTUNE 100 BUSINESSES BOOST SUN
  • TTTA Thursday-IOWA UTILITY BUYS WIND TO CUT COSTS
  • TTTA Thursday-GETTING ENERGY EFFICIENCY FROM THE CLOUD
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: NEW ENERGY BECOMES PRICE COMPETITIVE
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 15: NEW NUMBERS SHOW BIG OCEAN WIND POWER; SOLAR TURNS IN A NEW DIRECTION; FUEL CELL MARKETS TO VARY, GROW
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: WORLD WIND COMES ON
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 14: THE UTILITY-SOLAR DEBATE OVER WHO PAYS; TECHNICIANS WANTED – APPLY TO WIND; MAKING MULTIFAMILY BLDGS MORE EFFICIENT
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • THE STUDY: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF CONCENTRATING SOLAR POWER PLANTS
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 13: NUCLEAR FADING, NEW ENERGY COMING ON; THE ONE BIG ADVANTAGE OF SOLAR; HALF OF GLOBAL HEAT MAY BE HIDING IN THE OCEANS
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, is a biweekly contributor to NewEnergyNews

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT)

    November 26, 2013 (Huffington Post via NewEnergyNews)

    Everywhere we turn, environmental news is filled with horrid developments and glimpses of irreversible tipping points.

    Just a handful of examples are breathtaking: Scientists have dared to pinpoint the years at which locations around the world may reach runaway heat, and in the northern hemisphere it's well in sight for our children: 2047. Survivors of Superstorm Sandy are packing up as costs of repair and insurance go out of reach, one threat that climate science has long predicted. Or we could simply talk about the plight of bees and the potential impact on food supplies. Surprising no one who explores the Pacific Ocean, sailor Ivan MacFadyen described long a journey dubbed The Ocean is Broken, in which he saw vast expanses of trash and almost no wildlife save for a whale struggling a with giant tumor on its head, evoking the tons of radioactive water coming daily from Fukushima's lamed nuclear power center. Rampaging fishing methods and ocean acidification are now reported as causing the overpopulation of jellyfish that have jammed the intakes of nuclear plants around the world. Yet the shutting down of nuclear plants is a trifling setback compared with the doom that can result in coming days at Fukushima in the delicate job to extract bent and spent fuel rods from a ruined storage tank, a project dubbed "radioactive pick up sticks."

    With all these horrors to ponder you wouldn't expect to hear that you should also worry about the United States running out of coal. But you would be wrong, says Leslie Glustrom, founder and research director for Clean Energy Action. Her contention is that we've passed the peak in our nation's legendary supply of coal that powers over one-third of our grid capacity. This grim news is faithfully spelled out in three reports, with the complete story told in Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves (pdf). (Disclosure: I serve on CEA's board and have known the author for years.)

    Glustrom's research presents a sea change in how we should understand our energy challenges, or experience grim consequences. It's not only about toxic and heat-trapping emissions anymore; it's also about having enough energy generation to run big cities and regions that now rely on coal. Glustrom worries openly about how commerce will go on in many regions in 2025 if they don't plan their energy futures right.

    2013-11-05-FigureES4_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    Scrutinizing data for prices on delivered coal nationwide, Glustrom's new report establishes that coal's price has risen nearly 8 percent annually for eight years, roughly doubling, due mostly to thinner, deeper coal seams plus costlier diesel transport expenses. Higher coal prices in a time of "cheap" natural gas and affordable renewables means coal companies are lamed by low or no profits, as they hold debt levels that dwarf their market value and carry very high interest rates.

    2013-11-05-Table_ES2_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    2013-11-05-Figure_ES2_FULL.jpg

    One leading coal company, Patriot, filed for bankruptcy last year; many others are also struggling under bankruptcy watch and not eager to upgrade equipment for the tougher mining ahead. Add to this the bizarre event this fall of a coal lease failing to sell in Wyoming's Powder River Basin, the "Fort Knox" of the nation's coal supply, with some pundits agreeing this portends a tightening of the nation's coal supply, not to mention the array of researchers cited in the report. Indeed, at the mid point of 2013, only 488 millions tons of coal were produced in the U.S.; unless a major catch up happens by year-end, 2013 may be as low in production as 1993.

    Coal may exist in large quantities geologically, but economically, it's getting out of reach, as confirmed by US Geological Survey in studies indicating that less than 20 percent of US coal formations are economically recoverable, as explored in the CEA report. To Glustrom, that number plus others translate to 10 to 20 years more of burning coal in the US. It takes capital, accessible coal with good heat content and favorable market conditions to assure that mining companies will stay in business. She has observed a classic disconnect between camps of professionals in which geologists tend to assume money is "infinite" and financial analysts tend to assume that available coal is "infinite." Both biases are faulty and together they court disaster, and "it is only by combining thoughtful estimates of available coal and available money that our country can come to a realistic estimate of the amount of US coal that can be mined at a profit." This brings us back to her main and rather simple point: "If the companies cannot make a profit by mining coal they won't be mining for long."

    No one is more emphatic than Glustrom herself that she cannot predict the future, but she presents trend lines that are robust and confirmed assertively by the editorial board at West Virginia Gazette:

    Although Clean Energy Action is a "green" nonprofit opposed to fossil fuels, this study contains many hard economic facts. As we've said before, West Virginia's leaders should lower their protests about pollution controls, and instead launch intelligent planning for the profound shift that is occurring in the Mountain State's economy.

    The report "Warning, Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" and its companion reports belong in the hands of energy and climate policy makers, investors, bankers, and rate payer watchdog groups, so that states can plan for, rather than react to, a future with sea change risk factors.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    It bears mentioning that even China is enacting a "peak coal" mentality, with Shanghai declaring that it will completely ban coal burning in 2017 with intent to close down hundreds of coal burning boilers and industrial furnaces, or shifting them to clean energy by 2015. And Citi Research, in "The Unimaginable: Peak Coal in China," took a look at all forms of energy production in China and figured that demand for coal will flatten or peak by 2020 and those "coal exporting countries that have been counting on strong future coal demand could be most at risk." Include US coal producers in that group of exporters.

    Our world is undergoing many sorts of change and upheaval. We in the industrialized world have spent about a century dismissing ocean trash, overfishing, pesticides, nuclear hazard, and oil and coal burning with a shrug of, "Hey it's fine, nature can manage it." Now we're surrounded by impacts of industrial-grade consumption, including depletion of critical resources and tipping points of many kinds. It is not enough to think of only ourselves and plan for strictly our own survival or convenience. The threat to animals everywhere, indeed to whole systems of the living, is the grief-filled backdrop of our times. It's "all hands on deck" at this point of human voyaging, and in our nation's capital, we certainly don't have that. Towns, states and regions need to plan fiercely and follow through. And a fine example is Boulder Colorado's recent victory to keep on track for clean energy by separating from its electric utility that makes 59 percent of its power from coal.

    Clean Energy Action is disseminating "Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" for free to all manner of relevant professionals who should be concerned about long range trends which now include the supply risks of coal, and is supporting that outreach through a fundraising campaign.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    Author's note: Want to support my work? Please "fan" me at Huffpost Denver, here (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anne-butterfield). Thanks.

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    Anne's previous NewEnergyNews columns:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    Your intrepid reporter

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      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

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    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

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  • Monday, October 20, 2014

    TODAY’S STUDY: NEW OPPORTUNITIES IN TRANSMISSION

    Market Resource Alternatives: An Examination of New Technologies in the Electric Transmission Planning Process

    Julia Frayer and Eva Wang, October 2014 (London Economics International)

    Synopsis

    WIRES commissioned London Economics International LLC (“LEI”) to provide a report on market resource alternatives (“MRAs”). The purpose of this Report is to provide external parties with a clear understanding of MRAs, and compare their features - advantages and shortcomings - relative to transmission. In addition, based on analysis of how MRAs have been examined by planners and regulators, LEI also proposes a set of analytical tools and techniques that can be used to effectively evaluate MRAs alongside transmission investment. The Report consists of four chapters: the first chapter addresses the question “what are MRAs and why do we need to analyze them?”; the second chapter discusses how MRAs are considered in federal and regional policy; the third chapter shows how MRAs are used in organized markets in the U.S. through a case study analysis; and the fourth chapter provides a proposed ”toolkit” of analytical tools and techniques that would allow for the effective evaluation of MRAs within the transmission planning environment.

    Executive Summary

    WIRES commissioned London Economics International LLC (“LEI”) to provide a Report on market resource alternatives (“MRAs”). Specifically, WIRES asked LEI to determine whether and when MRAs can augment and/or replace transmission, and how MRAs and transmission can be evaluated on equal footing in the system planning context. The purpose of this Report is twofold. First, we seek to provide readers with a clear understanding of MRAs and their features - advantages and shortcomings - relative to transmission. Second, drawing on analysis of how MRAs have been examined by planners and regulators to date, we propose a set of analytical tools and modeling techniques (which we refer to as the “toolkit”) that can be used to effectively evaluate MRAs alongside transmission investment.

    An understanding of MRAs and how they can be compared to and evaluated alongside transmission investment is critical given the increasing attention being paid to MRAs and as a result of advancements in technology, policy evolution, and the basic need for transmission investment to maintain, modernize, and expand the grid. System planners are required to consider reliability, market outcomes, and transmission congestion as well as public policy as they work to develop a robust power grid. MRAs are increasingly being put forth as possible solutions in lieu of transmission infrastructure. However, based on the characteristics of MRAs today, MRAs are rarely a complete substitute to transmission, and individual MRAs typically provide only a partial suite of the services that transmission provides. Nevertheless, MRAs (either individually or in combination) can provide specific benefits and can serve as complements to transmission, and vice versa. Furthermore, MRAs have the potential to delay the timing for needed transmission investment. An understanding of what services MRAs can and cannot provide, and the benefits and challenges associated with MRAs is therefore critical for system planners, who must ultimately be able to evaluate viable MRAs and transmission projects side-by-side and select a solution that best addresses the needs of the electric power system and customers.

    Observations

    Through our research and case studies, LEI developed key observations about MRAs and transmission investment.

    • Transmission provides a variety of services and offers a broad range of potential benefits. Understanding the types of services and benefits transmission can provide is necessary as MRAs will be evaluated in terms of the services and benefits they can provide when compared to transmission.

    • An MRA generally is able to provide only a partial suite of services that transmission provides. MRAs may provide some of the services that transmission can provide, but they cannot perfectly replace transmission. Furthermore, the services each MRA can provide vary.

    • Comprehensively measuring the benefits and costs to customers is necessary in order to distinguish among the feasible solutions and the various services that MRAs and transmission can provide; relying on least cost analysis is not sufficient. In the analysis of MRA policies regionally, federal guidelines, and specific case studies involving MRAs, we have found that such a comprehensive analysis is rarely performed.

    • It is important to consider both the magnitude and breadth of benefits of MRAs compared to transmission. One must consider the ability of a solution - be that MRAs or transmission - to provide benefits and services to various customer classes and over what geographic and time dimension. Different MRAs provide benefits of varying magnitude and breadth. Transmission, on the other hand, is typically built to provide benefits to the larger regional system over a long period of time.

    • Operational uncertainty is an important consideration for MRAs. We have found that there are often high levels of operational uncertainty associated with MRAs, especially in the longer term. Given the technical and operational characteristics of transmission system planners historically have not had to give significant weight to operational uncertainty in their analyses.

    • A comprehensive analysis must include consideration of negative and positive externalities associated with potential costs and benefits. Externalities can be positive; there are examples of strong complementarity between transmission and some MRAs, where transmission opens up further opportunities for MRAs, and vice versa.

    Externalities can be negative; some MRA installations require additional investment to maintain system reliability.

    Recommended Tools and Techniques

    We recognize that system planners have their own analytical approaches and planning processes that have been developed over the decades to provide an extremely reliable and affordable electric system. We are not attempting to specify an approach. We recognize that transmission planners and ISOs/RTOs may have specific processes in place that are unique to their situation. Rather than a “one-size fits all” analytical approach, we are recommending a “toolkit” for system planners with various suggested modeling tools and analytical techniques that can be deployed to analyze transmission and MRAs.

    The analysis deployed by system planners should be inclusive, and consider all feasible solutions – transmission and MRAs. The analysis should be sufficiently detailed and comprehensive so as to distinguish between the feasible solutions’ traits and defining characteristics and benefits. We suggest several guidelines that will provide for an effective analysis of MRAs and transmission:

    • MRAs should be judged on the same criteria for reliability and economic benefits as proposed transmission;

    • Technical feasibility should be a requirement for any solution, not an option; the ability of MRAs to consistently meet the technical (reliability) needs of the system are sometimes overlooked for the sake of policy;

    • MRAs and transmission are not equals in the services and benefits they provide, therefore, the evaluation framework must be able to assess a broad set of benefits and costs to fairly compare MRAs and transmission;

    • A robust cost-benefit analysis should measure and quantify the uncertainties and risks associated with MRAs and transmission;

    • Economic cost-benefit analysis should consider the dynamic evolution of the system; such an analysis may show potential for complementarity between transmission and certain MRAs, which could justify the need for more investment.

    A successful analytical framework, consistent with these guidelines, should

    1. Identify all the benefits and costs and gather them under the umbrella of a cost-benefit analysis,

    2. Use the right set of tools to measure both those benefits and costs and the risks and uncertainties involved, and

    3. Conduct analyses that specifically address the identified challenges for evaluating both MRAs and transmission in an efficient manner.

    If one evaluates MRAs and transmission technically to the same specified “needs” criteria, across the same categories of benefits and over the appropriate geographical and time dimensions, the most robust and efficient investments can be chosen.

    Understanding MRAs

    MRAs can be broadly defined as a group of solutions to identified electric system needs that do not involve traditional transmission infrastructure. MRAs are often referred to as non-transmission alternatives (“NTAs”), a misleading convention that incorrectly implies that MRAs are always a substitute for transmission. MRAs can in fact be complements to transmission infrastructure and should be thought of as one element in a portfolio of infrastructure elements that together are necessary for the efficient and reliable provision of electricity to customers.

    Indeed, the electric system would not be able to operate and provide services to customers if there were only investment in either transmission or MRAs in isolation. MRAs come in a variety of forms and can include supply-side resources (for example, conventional generation and distributed generation or advanced generation-like technologies such as batteries and storage) and demand-side resources (such as demand response and conservation/energy efficiency programs), or a combination of resources that are not conventionally associated with transmission. Discussions of MRAs occurring in wholesale power markets and at state regulatory commissions generally focus on six categories of MRAs: energy efficiency; demand response; utility-scale generation; distributed generation; energy storage; and smart grid technology.

    Services provided by transmission and MRAs

    In order to put the capabilities and benefits of each MRA in context, it is first important to understand the types of services that transmission provides. Transmission provides for the transportation of electric power from producers (generators) to customers (load), often times over long distances. Transmission can also help to ensure resource adequacy because it allows generators located in an isolated area to serve customers in another area of the power grid (in this way, transmission effectively provides capacity). In addition to facilitating the delivery of energy and capacity, transmission can provide other benefits. For example, transmission system reinforcements can reduce system losses and improve overall system efficiency.

    Transmission can also provide support to the electric power grid through the provision of certain ancillary services, which are used to keep the grid operating smoothly. Transmission can provide insurance against uncertain future market events and the costs of such unforeseen events on customers. For example, if in the future a generator were to unexpectedly go off line, transmission lines could allow other generators on the system to serve customers.

    Transmission can also reduce production costs of energy through expansion of a market (and increased competition from other existing resources) as well as provision of market access to new resources. As a consequence of expanding access to market for existing and new resources, transmission can also help to reduce the emissions footprint of the market as a whole and curb harmful pollutants such as carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

    It is important to consider to what extent MRAs can produce these same services, over what time dimension they can be counted on to provide these services, and for what geographical area. In many cases, MRAs may have shorter economic lives (or less certain longevity in terms of the market benefits that they create) than transmission, and provide benefits to a smaller or more localized geographical segment of customers.

    In Figure 2 below, we have prepared a visual comparison of the services that various current MRA technologies can provide relative to transmission. This comparison is meant to reflect the relative abilities of generic MRAs and generic transmission investment to provide broad classes of services. In reality, the specific services will vary with the characteristics of the individual project (i.e., proposed solution) and the underlying “need.” Furthermore, the comparative charts of transmission and MRAs in the following sections reflect the overall experience of LEI and WIRES members with the technologies as they exist today. We recognize that technology (both MRAs and transmission) is evolving rapidly and that MRAs and transmission will likely be able provide a more extensive list of services in the future. Finally, we recognize that this type of comparative chart can simplify the relationship between transmission and MRAs. As mentioned earlier, transmission and MRAs are interconnected – a system comprised of one or the other would not be functional. In this sense, transmission can only provide energy and capacity if there is a generator connected to the grid able to generate the energy and capacity.

    Likewise, generation can only provide energy and other services if there is a transmission system that connects the generator to customers. Nevertheless, the comparison of relative abilities under current technology provides a high level consideration of relative strengths and weaknesses of different MRAs, from which benefits can be evaluated. Such a comparison of services is also a useful cross-check for the toolkit, which needs to contain tools and techniques that can capture such differences in services provided, technical characteristics, and ultimately economic costs and benefits.

    We observe that individual MRAs are generally not capable of providing all of the same services that transmission provides for the same tenure and geographical dimension. Furthermore, there is considerable variety among MRAs in their ability to provide services.

    With the exception of utility-scale generation in limited circumstances, no single MRA is a workable substitute for transmission. However, in certain instances, depending on the identified needs of the system, other MRAs (either individually or in combination) can be beneficial and can serve as complements to transmission, and vice versa.

    Given the characteristics of transmission, it tends to provide a broad array of benefits that accrue to a wide variety of parties over a large geographical dimension. That is, the benefits accrue at a micro or local level (for example, to the investor or a particular community), but transmission also directly benefits a broader set of customers in the electricity sector and indirectly creates benefits for society as a whole, for example through achievement of public policy and macroeconomic benefits (see Figure 11).

    When considering if and how MRAs are able to provide the equivalent benefits of transmission, it is important to understand any challenges or limitations to the ability of MRAs to deliver these benefits (or for system planners and operators to take advantage of these benefits). Not only is it important to understand which of these benefits MRAs can provide, but also to consider the magnitude and breadth of the benefits.

    Transmission delivers its services and provides benefits throughout its long lifecycle. And once built, a transmission asset is a fixed element of the power system and therefore its existence is not dependent on market dynamics. In contrast, some MRAs such as generation (either utility-scale or distributed) or demand response may decide to exit the market and close operations if market conditions are not attractive. The permanent nature of transmission - once in service - means that system planners have reasonable certainty that transmission would provide services and benefits would accrue over the transmission asset’s life. Experience has shown that there is a higher degree of uncertainty associated with MRAs, both in terms of the services and the benefits they can provide.

    Finally, when considering the benefits of transmission or MRAs, it is important to consider the optionality associated with the investment. These can be either positive or negative: for example, if a solution can provide an option to delay other investments or an option for future expansion, that would have a positive value to customers and system planners alike. On the other hand, if a solution requires additional incremental investment to come online (perhaps in the form of additional infrastructure), that cost should also be considered.

    Practical Experience with MRAs

    Practical experience with MRAs is relatively limited. FERC’s Order 1000, issued in 2011, requires consideration of MRAs in the regional transmission planning process. However, it does not establish any requirements as to which MRAs should be considered or what the appropriate metrics for evaluating MRAs against transmission solutions would be. We found that MRAs appear to generally be considered in the transmission planning process in Independent System Operators and Regional Transmission Organizations (“ISO/RTOs”) although the timing of an analysis varies on a RTO-to-RTO basis. Generally, evaluation of MRAs completed to date appears to be targeted and localized, rather than comprehensive. This is not surprising as economic analysis of transmission is also a relatively nascent but evolving component of the system planning process.

    We selected four case studies that cover a variety of MRA technologies and investment needs, apply varying levels of analytical techniques for consideration of MRAs and transmission solutions, and highlight different aspects of the interplay between MRAs and transmission investment. Specifically, we considered the following case studies in our review of MRAs: Boothbay Smart Grid Reliability Pilot project in Maine, I-5 Corridor Reinforcement Transmission Project by Bonneville Power Administration (“BPA”), PATH and MAPP transmission projects in PJM, and Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project in California.

    QUICK NEWS, Oct. 20: ELEVEN GOOD THINGS ABOUT SOLAR ENERGY; YAHOO BUYS WIND; SMART THERMOSTATS’ BILLION DOLLAR FUTURE

    ELEVEN GOOD THINGS ABOUT SOLAR ENERGY Advantages of Solar Energy

    Zachary Shahan, October 16, 2014 (PlanetSave)

    "…[The disadvantage of solar energy is that] the sun doesn’t shine 24/7…[The advantages of solar energy] everybody should know…Solar energy can (probably) save you money…is better for our health...fights global warming and catastrophic climate change…makes the grid more secure…cuts the need for a lot of transmission…comes at times of very high demand…protects us from fuel price volatility… is renewable…is extremely abundant…is a great job creator…[and] needs very little water…” click here for more

    YAHOO BUYS WIND Yahoo Signs Long Term Power Purchase Agreement with OwnEnergy; Tech Leader's Purchase of Wind Energy Will Expand Sustainability Efforts

    Oct. 16, 2014 (PRNewswire)

    “…Yahoo!, Inc. [has entered into a long-term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with OwnEnergy to purchase half the wind power output from the 48 megawatt Alexander Wind Farm in Kansas] which will be used to offset much of Yahoo's energy usage in the Great Plains region…OwnEnergy partners with energy entrepreneurs across the country to develop wind projects. The company's local partners are leading members of wind-rich communities who play an active role in project development and receive a share of project ownership in return…While Yahoo is one of the first tech companies to embrace this model of community-centric partnership, the trend for corporate purchasers to buy wind directly from wind farms is gaining pace…OwnEnergy is the national leader in mid-sized wind energy development [with a pipeline of 25 projects representing 2,000 megawatts in 23 states. It]…enables landowners and communities to build and profit directly from their own local wind farms…” click here for more

    SMART THERMOSTATS’ BILLION DOLLAR FUTURE Smart Thermostats; Communicating Thermostats, Smart Thermostats, and Associated Software and Services: Global Market Analysis and Forecasts

    3Q 2014 (Navigant Research)

    “The market for communicating and smart thermostats has exploded with activity since 2013…The year 2014 has seen significant business activity in the form of mergers and acquisitions, international expansion, technological growth, and more conclusive evidence of cost-effectiveness…In North America and Europe, interest in smart thermostat technology is growing among utilities and energy retailers, as well as consumers…[S]mall businesses are increasingly adopting solutions originally intended for residences…[to manage] heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. For other regions, the technology remains nascent…According to Navigant Research, global revenue for communicating and smart thermostats and associated software and services is expected to grow from $146.9 million in 2014 to $2.3 billion in 2023…” click here for more

    Saturday, October 18, 2014

    The Ocean Speaks Out

    “…I’m what they crawled out of…It’s not their planet anyway. It never was. It never will be…” From ConservationDotOrg via YouTube

    Adapting To The Inevitable

    It is now necessary now to prepare for the unavoidable – and avoid the catastrophic. From Scripps Oceanography via YouTube

    The Joy Of Driving EVs Powered By The Sun

    It’s all about plugging in New Energy. From YaleClimateForum via YouTube

    Friday, October 17, 2014

    HOTTEST SEPTEMBER EVER; WORLD’S HOTTEST MONTHS STREAK AT SIX

    September Sets Records as Global Warming Claims Another Month

    Andrew Freedman, October 15, 2014 (Mashable)

    “September was the warmest such month on record for the planet, according to preliminary data from NASA as well as independent analysis from the Japan Meteorological Agency…This extends the string of warmest months to six in a row, and, if confirmed in coming days by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), keeps the world on course to have its warmest year…[since record-keeping began in 1880 (climate records extend farther back in time through tree rings, ice cores and other so-called "proxy" data). It is] powered by record warm ocean waters…[I]t is in line with expectations based on the interaction between manmade global warming and natural climate variability…

    “Californians are suffering through their warmest year on record as well as one of the driest…[California’s 2014] has been running 4.1 degrees Fahrenheit above its 20th century average…[If predictions prove true that the drought will go on through the winter wet season,] it would have profound consequences for water resources…The likely formation of weak-to-moderate El Niño conditions in the Pacific Ocean will make continued warm temperature records more likely for the rest of the year, on a global basis…All of the planet's top 10 warmest years have occurred since the year 2000.” click here for more

    EU WIND BEATS FOSSIL, NUKE ENERGY PRICES

    Wind power is cheapest energy, EU analysis finds; Onshore windfarms far cheaper than coal and gas when health impacts are factored in, report shows

    Arthur Neslen, 13 October 2014 (UK Guardian)

    “Onshore wind is cheaper than coal, gas or nuclear energy when the costs of ‘external’ factors like air quality, human toxicity and climate change are taken into account…[Subsidies and costs of EU energy; An interim report for the European Commission (EC)] says that for every megawatt hour (MW/h) of electricity generated, onshore wind costs roughly €105 (£83) per MW/h, compared to gas and coal which can cost up to around €164 and €233 per MW/h, respectively…Nuclear power, offshore wind and solar energy are all comparably inexpensive generators, at roughly €125 per MW/h…[The EC] published results that did not include external health and pollution costs…These showed that renewable energy took €38.3bn of public subsidies in 2012, compared to €22.3bn for gas, coal and nuclear. The EU did however note that if free carbon allowances to polluters were included in the data, it [would reduce the difference]…The figures for the energy sources in the report are all approximate, as the bar chart listing them is counted in units of €25 MW/h…” click here for more

    DESERTEC SUCCUMBS TO MIDEAST TURMOIL

    Companies abandon ambitious plan for solar energy plants in African, Middle Eastern deserts

    Oct. 14, 2014 (AP)

    “It sounded like a good idea: build massive solar energy plants in the deserts of North Africa and the Middle East to supply Europe with 15 percent of its electricity needs by 2050…But The Desertec Industrial Initiative behind the ambitious plan has now admitted defeat following disagreements over funding and persistent political instability in the desert nations where the plants were going to be built…[I]t is going to focus on consulting others after most of its former backers pulled out, including German insurance company Muenchener Rueckversicherung…The remaining members of the Munich-based consortium are Saudi company ACWA Power, German utility giant RWE and Chinese grid operator SGCC.” click here for more

    JAPAN UPS PUSH FOR GEOTHERMAL

    Japanese government plans to promote geothermal power

    The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 12, 2014 (Chicago Tribune)

    “The Japanese government will revise the current feed-in tariff system, which requires power companies to purchase electricity generated by solar power and other renewable energy sources at fixed prices, to make utilities buy more electricity from geothermal power generation…[T]he government is trying to correct the system's current overemphasis on solar power…[and] control the rise of electricity rates by lowering the feed-in tariffs for solar power…Geothermal power is said to be economical in price and stable in supply [regardless of weather]…Japan has many volcanoes, and is said to have the world's third-largest amount of geothermal resources. There are geothermal power stations at 17 locations…But new geothermal generation facilities have not been developed…Since solar power generation takes only about one year for development [and gets high feed-in tariffs], solar plant operators have already won most of the rights to use power grids…This leaves few rights for operators of geothermal plants, which take about 10 years to develop…Electricity generated geothermally accounts for only 0.3 percent of [Japan’s electricity]…The government aims to raise this figure to 1 percent by 2030…” click here for more

    Thursday, October 16, 2014

    THE MILITARY FALLS FOR THE HOAX

    Pentagon Report: U.S. Military Considers Climate Change a 'Threat Multiplier' That Could Exacerbate Terrorism

    Zoe Schlanger, October 14, 2014 (Newsweek)

    “…[The Department of Defense has apparently fallen for what hardcore deniers insist is a hoax by dramatically shifting] its views towards climate change…[The DOD] has already begun to treat the phenomenon as a significant threat to national security. Climate change, the Pentagon writes, requires immediate action on the part of the U.S. Military…[2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap anticipates] that climate change may require more frequent military intervention within the country to respond to natural disasters, as well as internationally to respond to ‘extremist ideologies’ that may arise in regions where governments are destabilized due to climate-related stressors…The military is integrating climate change considerations into all its operations, including in its training for war scenarios…[and] is already preparing and assessing its bases for conditions like sea level rise and increased flooding…” click here for more

    FORTUNE 100 BUSINESSES BOOST SUN

    America’s Leading Companies Continue to Invest Big in Solar Energy

    October 14, 2014 (National Journal)

    “…America's leading Fortune 100 companies continue to significantly ramp up their use of clean solar energy, according to the 3rd annual Solar Means Business report [from] the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)...[which] identifies major commercial solar projects and ranks top corporate solar users…[It] shows Walmart at the top of the list for the third year in a row with 105 megawatts (MW) installed at 254 locations…Rounding out the Top 25 companies utilizing solar are Kohl's, Costco, Apple, IKEA, Macy's, Johnson & Johnson, Target, McGraw Hill, Staples, Campbell's Soup, U.S. Foods, Bed Bath & Beyond, Kaiser Permanente, Volkswagen, Walgreens, Safeway, FedEx, Intel, L'Oreal, General Motors, Toys "R" Us, Verizon, White Rose Foods, Toyota and AT&T…[T]hese blue chip companies have deployed 569 MW of solar capacity at 1,100 locations - a 28 percent increase over a year ago and a 103 percent increase since 2012…” click here for more

    IOWA UTILITY BUYS WIND TO CUT COSTS

    MidAmerican expands Iowa wind foothold

    Matthew Patane, October 11, 2014 (Des Moines Register)

    “…[Utility MidAmerican Energy will] invest an additional $280 million…[to] add 67 wind turbines at two western Iowa locations…[64] will go to a new wind farm…The other three will expand an existing [project]…The turbines have the potential to generate 162 megawatts of energy, enough to power 48,000 homes…[Construction will start in summer 2015 and provide 200 construction jobs and at least 10 permanent positions]…More than 27 percent of [Iowa’s] energy comes from wind, the highest state percentage in the nation…Iowa also has the seventh-best wind resource, or potential for wind energy generation, in the U.S…[MidAmerican] is continuing to invest in wind projects because they are a good way to reduce costs for customers and bring the state closer to meeting goals for reducing carbon emissions…Last year MidAmerican began construction on $1.9 billion worth of turbines in five Iowa counties [representing 1,050 megawatts]…” click here for more

    GETTING ENERGY EFFICIENCY FROM THE CLOUD

    Smart Cities and the Energy Cloud; Reshaping the Energy Landscape

    4Q 2014 (Navigant Research)

    “The electricity utility was developed to deliver power to the growing cities of the 20th century. Energy is of even greater importance to cities in the 21st century, but there are new challenges…Cities are also looking at how efficiently energy is being used as they strive to reduce both greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs…The smart city concept is a label for the dramatic changes occurring at both the local and global level..[T]he energy cloud performs a similar function for the radical changes happening in the energy market. As a concept, the energy cloud represents a wide range of technical, commercial, environmental, and regulatory changes that are transforming the traditional utility model for energy provision. Cities are recognizing the importance – and the opportunity – offered by these changes in energy infrastructure and the global energy markets…” click here for more

    Wednesday, October 15, 2014

    TODAY’S STUDY: NEW ENERGY BECOMES PRICE COMPETITIVE

    Lazard's Levelized Cost Of Energy Analysis — Version 8.0

    September 2014 (Lazard)

    Introduction

    Lazard’s Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis (“LCOE”) addresses the following topics:

     Comparative “levelized cost of energy” for various technologies on a $/MWh basis, including sensitivities, as relevant, for U.S. federal tax subsidies, fuel costs, geography and cost of capital, among other factors

     Comparison of the implied cost of carbon abatement given resource planning decisions for various generation technologies

     Illustration of how the cost of utility-scale and rooftop solar-produced energy compares against generation rates in large metropolitan areas of the United States

     Illustration of utility-scale and rooftop solar versus peaking generation technologies globally

     Illustration of how the costs of utility-scale and rooftop solar and wind vary across the United States, based on average available resources

     Forecast of rooftop solar levelized cost of energy through 2017

     Comparison of assumed capital costs on a $/kW basis for various generation technologies

     Decomposition of the levelized cost of energy for various generation technologies by capital cost, fixed operations and maintenance expense, variable operations and maintenance expense, and fuel cost, as relevant

     Considerations regarding the usage characteristics and applicability of various generation technologies, taking into account factors such as location requirements/constraints, dispatch capability, land and water requirements and other contingencies

     Summary assumptions for the various generation technologies examined

     Summary of Lazard’s approach to comparing the levelized cost of energy for various conventional and Alternative Energy generation technologies

    Other factors would also have a potentially significant effect on the results contained herein, but have not been examined in the scope of this current analysis. These additional factors, among others, could include: capacity value vs. energy value; stranded costs related to distributed generation or otherwise; network upgrade, transmission or congestion costs; integration costs; and costs of complying with various environmental regulations (e.g., carbon emissions offsets, emissions control systems). The analysis also does not address potential social and environmental externalities, including, for example, the social costs and rate consequences for those who cannot afford distribution generation solutions, as well as the long-term residual and societal consequences of various conventional generation technologies that are difficult to measure (e.g., nuclear waste disposal, environmental impacts, etc.)

    While prior versions of this study have presented the LCOE inclusive of the U.S. Federal Investment Tax Credit and Production Tax Credit, Versions 6.0 – 8.0 present the LCOE on an unsubsidized basis, except as noted on the page titled “Levelized Cost of Energy—Sensitivity to U.S. Federal Tax Subsidies”

    Unsubsidized Levelized Cost of Energy Comparison

    Certain Alternative Energy generation technologies are cost-competitive with conventional generation technologies under some scenarios; such observation does not take into account potential social and environmental externalities (e.g., social costs of distributed generation, environmental consequences of certain conventional generation technologies, etc.) or reliability-related considerations (e.g., transmission and back-up generation costs associated with certain Alternative Energy generation technologies)

    Levelized Cost of Energy—Sensitivity to U.S. Federal Tax Subsidies

    U.S. federal tax subsidies remain an important component of the economics of Alternative Energy generation technologies (and government incentives are, generally, currently important in all regions); while some Alternative Energy generation technologies have achieved notional “grid parity” under certain conditions (e.g., best-in-class wind/solar resource), such observation does not take into account potential social and environmental externalities (e.g., social costs of distributed generation, environmental consequences of certain conventional generation technologies, etc.) or reliability-related considerations (e.g., transmission and back-up generation costs associated with certain Alternative Energy generation technologies)

    Levelized Cost of Energy Comparison—Sensitivity to Fuel Prices

    Variations in fuel prices can materially affect the levelized cost of energy for conventional generation technologies, but direct comparisons against “competing” Alternative Energy generation technologies must take into account issues such as dispatch characteristics (e.g., baseload and/or dispatchable intermediate load vs. peaking or intermittent technologies)…

    Solar versus Peaking Capacity—Global Markets

    Solar PV can be an attractive resource relative to gas and diesel-fired peaking in many parts of the world due to high fuel costs; without storage, however, solar lacks the dispatch characteristics of conventional peaking technologies

    Wind and Solar Resource—U.S. Regional Sensitivity (Unsubsidized)

    The availability of wind and solar resource has a meaningful impact on the levelized cost of energy for various regions of the United States. This regional analysis varies capacity factors as a proxy for resource availability, while holding other variables constant. There are a variety of other factors (e.g., transmission, back-up generation/system reliability costs, labor rates, permitting and other costs) that would also impact regional costs

    Levelized Cost of Energy—Wind/Solar PV (Historical)

    Over the last five years, wind and solar PV have become increasingly cost-competitive with conventional generation technologies, on an unsubsidized basis, in light of material declines in the pricing of system components (e.g., panels, inverters, racking, turbines, etc.), and dramatic improvements in efficiency, among other factors

    Levelized Cost of Energy—Rooftop Solar (Forecasted)

    Rooftop solar has benefited from the rapid decline in price of both panels and key balance-of-system components (e.g., inverters, racking, etc.); while the small-scale nature and added complexity of rooftop installation limit cost reduction levels (vs. levels observed in utility-scale applications), more efficient installation techniques, lower costs of capital and improved supply chains will contribute to a lower rooftop solar LCOE over time

    Capital Cost Comparison

    While capital costs for a number of Alternative Energy generation technologies (e.g., solar PV, solar thermal) are currently in excess of some conventional generation technologies (e.g., gas), declining costs for many Alternative Energy generation technologies, coupled with rising long-term construction and uncertain long-term fuel costs for conventional generation technologies, are working to close formerly wide gaps in electricity costs. This assessment, however, does not take into account issues such as dispatch characteristics, capacity factors, fuel and other costs needed to compare generation technologies

    Levelized Cost of Energy—Sensitivity to Cost of Capital

    A key issue facing Alternative Energy generation technologies resulting from the potential for intermittently disrupted capital markets (and the relatively immature state of some aspects of financing Alternative Energy technologies) is the impact of the availability and cost of capital(a) on their LCOEs; availability and cost of capital have a particularly significant impact on Alternative Energy generation technologies, whose costs reflect essentially the return on, and of, the capital investment required to build them…

    Summary Considerations

    Lazard has conducted this study comparing the levelized cost of energy for various conventional and Alternative Energy generation technologies in order to understand which Alternative Energy generation technologies may be cost-competitive with conventional generation technologies, either now or in the future, and under various operating assumptions, as well as to understand which technologies are best suited for various applications based on locational requirements, dispatch characteristics and other factors. We find that Alternative Energy technologies are complementary to conventional generation technologies, and believe that their use will be increasingly prevalent for a variety of reasons, including RPS requirements, carbon regulations, continually improving economics as underlying technologies improve and production volumes increase, and government subsidies in certain regions.

    In this study, Lazard’s approach was to determine the levelized cost of energy, on a $/MWh basis, that would provide an after-tax IRR to equity holders equal to an assumed cost of equity capital. Certain assumptions (e.g., required debt and equity returns, capital structure, and economic life) were identical for all technologies, in order to isolate the effects of key differentiated inputs such as investment costs, capacity factors, operating costs, fuel costs (where relevant) and U.S. federal tax incentives on the levelized cost of energy. These inputs were developed with a leading consulting and engineering firm to the Power & Energy Industry, augmented with Lazard’s commercial knowledge where relevant. This study (as well as previous versions) has benefitted from additional input from a wide variety of industry participants.

    Lazard has not manipulated capital costs or capital structure for various technologies, as the goal of the study was to compare the current state of various generation technologies, rather than the benefits of financial engineering. The results contained in this study would be altered by different assumptions regarding capital structure (e.g., increased use of leverage) or capital costs (e.g., a willingness to accept lower returns than those assumed herein).

    Key sensitivities examined included fuel costs and tax subsidies. Other factors would also have a potentially significant effect on the results contained herein, but have not been examined in the scope of this current analysis. These additional factors, among others, could include: capacity value vs. energy value; stranded costs related to distributed generation or otherwise; network upgrade, transmission or congestion costs; integration costs; and costs of complying with various environmental regulations (e.g., carbon emissions offsets, emissions control systems). The analysis also does not address potential social and environmental externalities, including, for example, the social costs and rate consequences for those who cannot afford distribution generation solutions, as well as the long-term residual and societal consequences of various conventional generation technologies that are difficult to measure (e.g., nuclear waste disposal, environmental impacts, etc.)

    QUICK NEWS, Oct. 15: NEW NUMERS SHOW BIG OCEAN WIND POWER; SOLAR TURNS IN A NEW DIRECTION; FUEL CELL MARKETS TO VARY, GROW

    NEW NUMBERS SHOW BIG OCEAN WIND POWER Offshore Wind Power Can Save U.S. Billions On Electricity, Recent DOE Study Finds

    Kit Kennedy, Oct. 11, 2014 (Energy Collective)

    “…[I]nstalling 54 gigawatts of offshore wind power off America’s coasts can cut the cost of electricity in the U.S. by an astounding $7.68 billion a year…[according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s] National Offshore Wind Energy Grid Interconnection Study…[T]hat potential is simply waiting to be realized, with about a dozen U.S. projects in some stage of development. The right state and federal policies can help move these projects off of their drawing boards and into the water, the study authors say...

    “There’s more than 134 gigawatts of potential at 209 sites [within 50 miles of U.S. coastlines on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and along the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes], the NOWEGIS authors conclude…[But the authors excluded] important habitats and marine sanctuaries… to ensure that one environmental good—pollution-free wind power—doesn’t come at the expense of another—important ocean wildlife and habitat protections…[T]he technology is evolving fast [in Europe and Asia], meaning its becoming more powerful and less expensive simultaneously…Offshore wind power can be an especially important resource for densely populated coastal areas, like the Northeast, the Mid-Atlantic, and northern California, where energy prices [and peak demand spikes] are high and land available for generation and transmission is generally limited…” click here for more

    SOLAR TURNS IN A NEW DIRECTION How Grid Efficiency Went South

    Matthew L. Wald, Oct. 7, 2014 (NY Times)

    “Almost every rooftop solar panel in the United States faces south, the direction that will catch the maximum energy when the sun rises in the southeast and sets in the southwest. This was probably a mistake…The panels are pointed that way because under the rules that govern the electric grid, panel owners are paid by the amount of energy they make. But they are not making the most energy at the hours when it is most needed…[T]he rules add cost and reduce environmental effectiveness, critics say, because they are out of step with what the power grid actually needs from intermittent renewables like wind and sun, and from zero-carbon nuclear power…[S]olar and wind will produce a lot of energy, but the power they make often does not match the system’s demand, so the contribution to its power needs may be much smaller…

    “[Coal, natural gas and especially nuclear plants] earn their keep by selling energy around the clock. Put enough wind and solar units on the grid during the hours when they are running and they flood the market and push down the hourly auction price of a megawatt-hour of energy…The problem is especially acute for nuclear reactors because their costs for fuel are roughly the same whether they are running or not…[S]ome have already closed and more are threatened…Even relatively clean natural gas plants are hurt; they are generally on the margin, the first to shut when new solar comes on line…” click here for more

    FUEL CELL MARKETS TO VARY, GROW Fuel Cells Annual Report 2014; Stationary, Portable, and Transportation Fuel Cell Sectors: 2013 and 2014 Global Market Developments

    4Q 2014 (Navigant Research)

    “During 2013 and 2014, [driven by a shift toward distributed generation (DG)] the fuel cell market continued to see the greatest demand from stationary applications, including utility-scale fuel cells, fuel cells for industrial and commercial buildings, and fuel cells for residential power. These markets are still very location-specific. Japan is focusing primarily on residential units, while North America and South Korea have adopted the larger fuel cell systems. Backup power is a market mainly in North America, but also in emerging economies – especially in Southeast Asia…As a result, Navigant Research expects the stationary sector to have the strongest global potential within the fuel cell market in terms of fuel cell systems shipped. The transportation sector has the potential to lead in terms of fuel cell capacity shipped, as fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) are expected to take off in the 2020 timeframe…” click here for more

    Tuesday, October 14, 2014

    TODAY’S STUDY: WORLD WIND COMES ON

    2014 Half-Year Report

    September 2014 (World Wind Energy Association)

    Worldwide Wind Market recovered: Wind Capacity over 336 Gigawatts

    - 17,6 GW of new installations in the ¬rst half of 2014, after 14 GW in 2013

    - Worldwide wind capacity has reached 336 GW, 360 GW expected for full year

    - Asia overtakes Europe as leading wind continent

    - China close to 100 GW of installed capacity

    - Newcomer Brazil: third largest market for new wind turbines

    - 360 GW expected by end of 2014

    The worldwide wind capacity reached 336’327 MW by the end of June 2014, out of which 17’613 MW were added in the ¬rst six months of 2014. This increase is a substantially higher than in the ¬rst half of 2013 and 2012, when 13,9 GW and 16,4 GW were added respectively. The total worldwide installed wind capacity by mid-2014 will generate around 4 % of the world’s electricity demand. The global wind capacity grew by 5,5% within six months (after 5 % in the same period in 2013 and 7,3 % in 2012) and by 13,5 % on an annual basis (mid-2014 compared with mid-2013). In comparison, the annual growth rate in 2013 was lower at 12,8 %.

    Reasons for the relatively positive development of the worldwide wind markets certainly include the economic advantages of wind power and its increasing competitiveness relative to other sources of electricity, as well as the pressing need to implement emission free technologies in order to mitigate climate change and air pollution.

    Top Wind Markets 2014: China, Germany, Brazil, India, and USA

    The ¬ve traditional wind countries- China, USA, Germany, Spain and India- still collectively represent a 72 % share of the global wind capacity. In terms of newly added capacity, the share of the Big Five has increased from 57 % to 62%. The Chinese market showed a very strong performance and added 7,1 GW, substantially more than in the preceding years. China reached a total wind capacity of 98 GW in June 2014 and has undoubtedly by now crossed the 100 GW mark.

    Germany performed strongly as well, adding 1,8 GW within the ¬rst half year. This new record no doubt comes partly in anticipation of changes in the renewable energy legislation, which may lead to a slow-down of the German market in the coming years.

    For the ¬rst time, Brazil has entered the top group by becoming the third largest market for new wind turbines, with 1,3 GW of new capacity representing 7 % of all new wind turbine sales. With this, Brazil has been able to extend its undisputed leadership in Latin America.

    India kept clearly its position as Asian number two and worldwide number ¬ve, with 1,1 GW of new wind capacity.

    The US market, after its e ective collapse in 2013, has shown strong signs of recovery, with a market size of 835 MW, slightly ahead of Canada (723 MW), Australia (699 MW) and the United Kingdom which halved its market size and installed 649 MW in the ¬rst half of 2014.

    The Spanish market, however, has not contributed to the overall growth in 2014, as it has come to a virtual standstill, with only 0,1 MW of new installations in the ¬rst half of 2014.

    As was the case in 2013, four countries installed more than 1 GW each in the ¬rst half of 2014: China (7,1 GW of new capacity), Germany (1,8 GW), Brazil (1,3 GW) and India (1,1 GW).

    The top ten wind countries show a similar picture in the ¬rst half of 2014, although on a slightly higher performance basis. Five countries performed stronger than in 2013: China, USA, Germany, France and Canada. Five countries saw a decreasing market: Spain, UK, Italy, Denmark and, to a lesser degree, India. Spain and Italy saw practically a total standstill, with only 0,1 MW and 30 MW respectively of new capacity installed. Poland is now in the list of top 15 countries by installed capacity while Japan dropped out.

    Dynamic Markets to be found on all Continents

    It is important to note that for the ¬rst time, the most dynamic markets are found on all continents: the ten largest markets for new wind turbines included next to China, India and Germany, included Brazil (1’301 MW), USA (835 MW), Canada (723 MW), Australia (699 MW), UK (649 MW), Sweden (354 MW) and Poland (337 MW). New wind farms have also been installed in South Africa and further African countries, so that this continent has obviously entered the race to catch up with the rest of the world.

    Asia: The new leader on total installed capacity

    With 36,9 % of the global installed capacity, Asia is now the continent with the most wind energy installated, suspassing Europe, which accounts for 36,7 %.

    Again in 2014, China has been by far the largest single wind market, adding 7,1 GW in six months; this is signi¬cantly more than the same period of the previous year, when 5,5 GW were erected. China accounted for 41 % of the world market for new wind turbines. By June 2013, China had an overall installed capacity of 98,6 GW, almost reaching the 100 GW mark. India added 1,1 GW, a bit less than in the ¬rst half of 2013. However, considering new and ambitious plans of the new Indian government, the Indian wind market has very positive prospects.

    Two other important markets, in Japan and Korea, are still growing at very modest rates, of less than 2 % in the ¬rst half of 2014. Unfortunately in both countries the nuclear lobby has still managed to prevent the breakthrough for wind power, despite the clear economic and industrial advantages.

    Europe

    Germany is still the unchallenged number one wind market in Europe, with a new capacity of 1,8 GW bringing it to a total of 36,5 GW. UK (649 MW new), Sweden (354 MW new) and France (338 MW new) belong to the ¬ve biggest European markets as well, while Spain and Italy saw dramatic declines in new capacity installed, to almost zero.

    The future of wind power in the Europe will also depend on decisions by the European Union regarding renewable energy targets for 2030. It is worth noting that the current crisis around Ukraine is in fact strengthening the case of renewable energy proponents, as it suggests that the European countries should increase their energy autonomy through the increased use of domestic renewable energy sources, rather than relying on imported fossil fuels.

    North America

    The US market has recovered from the dramatic slump in the ¬rst half of 2013, adding 835 MW between January and June 2014, compared to 1,6 MW in the same period last year. It is expected that, due to the improved competitiveness of wind power and its increasing support, the market will further recover in the second half of 2014 and continue in 2015.

    Canada installed 723 MW during the ¬rst half of 2014, 92 % more than in the same period of 2013, and has become the sixth largest market for new wind turbines worldwide. The victory of the pro-renewables proponents in the elections in the key province of Ontario gives hope that this positive tendency will continue, in spite of rather negative signals at the federal level.

    Latin America

    The biggest Latin American market, Brazil, has become the 13th largest wind power user worldwide, after installing 1,3 GW in the ¬rst half of 2014 and reaching a total capacity of 4,7 GW. With a most impressive growth rate of 38,2 % during the ¬rst half of 2014, the country has become the third largest market for new wind turbines, after China and Germany, and ahead of the US and India. Brazil is expected to reach the 5 GW mark by September 2014 and to enter the list of top 10 countries with more installed capacity by the end of 2014. Other Latin American countries are emerging as wind markets as well, though at a much more modest level.

    Oceania

    Positive developments happened in Australia, where an additional 699 MW was installed, representing a 23% growth in comparison with end of 2013, similar to the rate of growth in 2011 and 2012. However, due to the most recent and very dramatic switch of the new Australian government, it has to be expected that this boom will not continue in the near future. No new wind farms have been registered in New Zealand.

    Worldwide prospects for end of the year 2014 and Beyond

    In the second half of 2014, it is expected that an additional capacity of 24 GW will be erected worldwide , which would bring new installations for the year to 41 GW. The total installed wind capacity is expected to reach 360 GW by the end of 2014, which is enough to provide some 4 % of the global electricity demand.

    The mid-term prospects for wind power investment remain positive. Although it is not clear whether the world community will be able to reach a strong climate agreement in 2015, wind has now reached a level of competitiveness and reliability, which makes it a natural option for governments, electricity producers, and consumers around the world.

    QUICK NEWS, Oct. 14: THE UTILITY-SOLAR DEBATE OVER WHO PAYS; TECHNICIANS WANTED – APPLY TO WIND; MAKING MULTIFAMILY BLDGS MORE EFFICIENT

    THE UTILITY-SOLAR DEBATE OVER WHO PAYS Solar firms, power companies battle over 'net metering'

    Javier E. David, Oct. 13, 2014 (CNBC)

    “…[N]et-metering—a process where consumers use renewable energy to generate their own electricity, then cut their bills by sending excess power back to the grid at retail rates…saves consumers money on utility bills, [and] is gaining popularity yet remains the subject of fierce debate. At least 43 states have laws making it easy for residents to save via the sun; still, utilities are pushing back against solar's rapid encroachment on the retail market…The Energy Information Administration notes that retail electricity is up nearly 3 percent per kilowatt hour in 2014 versus a year ago, with costs rising for 20 consecutive months…Power companies acknowledge that rooftop panels are forcing them to modernize the grid and rethink their business models. Additionally, residential units can help reduce strains on power systems during peak times and seasons…[But] net-metering was creating a classic ‘free-rider’ economic conundrum, where non-rooftop clients are ultimately paying more for electricity than net-metering clients. Certain costs, such as infrastructure and grid usage, are not being captured in what net-metering customers are charged…[U]tilities are waging a ground war in multiple states to get governments to reconsider subsidies and pass more costs on to net-metering clients…” click here for more

    TECHNICIANS WANTED – APPLY TO WIND Entire class of wind technicians at Oklahoma's Canadian Valley Technology Center receive job offers in one day; Wind industry is looking for workers.

    Jay F. Marks, Oct. 10, 2014 (The Oklahoman)

    “A Texas-based wind developer recently offered jobs to an entire class of wind technicians from Canadian Valley Technology Center in one day…A lot of wind farms are being built in Oklahoma, west Texas and Colorado…The most recent recipients of the wind industry’s growth were students in Canadian Valley’s wind energy technician certification program. Seven were hired by Abilene-based Run Energy, while another opted to take a job in Lawton because of family commitments…[All got job offers of at least $17 per hour, plus benefits and other perks…[like] a daily meal allowance, free lodging and a round-trip plane ticket home…Run Energy likely would have hired 30 or 40 more wind technicians if Canadian Valley had them…Canadian Valley established its wind technician program in October 2010…300 students have completed the program in the past four years. About 90 percent of them were placed in wind industry jobs…[only because some] didn’t want to leave town…One technician typically is responsible for maintaining about 10 wind turbines…” click here for more

    MAKING MULTIFAMILY BLDGS MORE EFFICIENT Better information will transform energy use in multifamily buildings

    Lauren Ross, September 30, 2014 (ACEEE)

    “…[Fannie Mae’s just released] Multifamily Energy and Water Market Research Survey provides an insight into multifamily buildings’ annual spending on energy and water as well as other important trends and metrics. The report also responds to the lack of information on energy use in submarkets in the multifamily sector by providing separate breakdowns for affordable and market-rate units, tenant and owner-paid utility bills, and by building size and other important building features…[It] reinforces what many have speculated in recent years – the multifamily sector remains an untapped opportunity for energy efficiency. According to the survey results, the least efficient buildings might be spending upwards of $165,000 more per building in annual energy costs than comparable buildings operating at a much higher efficiency…[T]he survey also serves as the basis for the long-anticipated EPA ENERGY STAR® score for multifamily buildings…[which] is a simple way for multifamily building owners to understand their property’s energy performance…” click here for more

    Monday, October 13, 2014

    TODAY’S STUDY: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF CONCENTRATING SOLAR POWER PLANTS

    Technology Roadmap, 2014: Solar Thermal Electricity

    September 2014 (International Energy Agency)

    Key Findings and Actions

    z Since 2010, generation of solar thermal electricity (STE) from concentrating solar power (CSP) plants has grown strongly worldwide, though more slowly than expected in the first IEA CSP roadmap (IEA, 2010). The first commercial plants were deployed in California in the 1980s. A resurgence of solar power in Spain was limited to 2.3 gigawatts (GW) by the government in the context of the financial and economic crisis. Deployment in the United States was slow until 2013 because of long lead times and competition from cheap unconventional gas and from photovoltaic (PV) energy, whose costs decreased rapidly.1 Deployment in other places took off only recently.

    z Global deployment of STE, about 4 GW at the time of publication, pales in comparison with PV (150 GW). Costs of CSP plants have dropped but less than those of PV. However, new CSP components and systems are coming to commercial maturity, holding the promise of increased efficiency, declining costs and higher value through increased dispatchability. New markets are emerging on most continents where the sun is strong and skies clear enough, including the Americas, Australia, the People's Republic of China, India, the Middle East, North Africa and South Africa.

    z This roadmap envisions STE’s share of global electricity to reach 11% by 2050 – almost unchanged from the goal in the 2010 roadmap. This shows that the goal for PV in the companion roadmap (IEA, 2014a) is not increased at the detriment of STE in the long term. Adding STE to PV, solar power could provide up to 27% of global electricity by 2050, and become the leading source of electricity globally as early as 2040. Achieving this roadmap's vision of 1 000 GW of installed CSP capacity by 2050 would avoid the emissions of up to 2.1 gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually.

    z From a system perspective, STE offers significant advantages over PV, mostly because of its built-in thermal storage capabilities. STE is firm and can be dispatched at the request of power grid operators, in particular when demand peaks in the late afternoon, in the evening or early morning, while PV generation is at its best in the middle of the day. Both technologies, while being competitors on some projects, are ultimately complementary.

    z The value of STE will increase further as PV is deployed in large amounts, which shaves mid-day peaks and creating or beefing up evening and early morning peaks. STE companies have begun marketing hybrid projects associating PV and STE to offer fully dispatchable power at lower costs to some customers.

    z Combined with long lead times, this dynamic explains why deployment of CSP plants would remain slow in the next ten years compared with previous expectations. Deployment would increase rapidly after 2020 when STE becomes competitive for peak and mid-merit power in a carbon-constrained world, ranging from 30 GW to 40 GW of new-built plants per year after 2030.

    z Appropriate regulatory frameworks – and well-designed electricity markets, in particular – will be critical to achieve the vision in this roadmap. Most STE costs are incurred up-front, when the power plant is built. Once built, CSP plants generate electricity almost for free. This means that investors need to be able to rely on future revenue streams so that they can recover their initial capital investments. Market structures and regulatory frameworks that fail to provide robust long-term price signals beyond a few months or years are thus unlikely to attract sufficient investment to achieve this roadmap’s vision in particular and timely decarbonisation of the global energy system in general.

    Key Actions in the Next Five Years

    z Set long-term targets, supported by predictable mechanisms to drive investments.

    z Address non-economic barriers and develop streamlined procedures for permitting.

    z Remunerate STE according to its value, which depends on time of delivery.

    z Implement support schemes with fair remuneration to investors but predictable decrease over time of the level of support.

    z Design and implement investment markets for new-built CSP plant and other renewable energy plants, and markets for ancillary services.

    z Avoid retroactive legislative changes.

    z Work with financing circles and other stakeholders to reduce financing costs for STE deployment, in particular involving private money and institutional investors.

    z Reduce the costs of capital and favour innovation in providing loan guarantees, and concessional loans in emerging economies.

    z Strengthen research, development and demonstration (RD&D) efforts to further reduce costs.

    z Strengthen international collaboration on RD&D and exchanges of best practices.

    QUICK NEWS, Oct. 13: NUCLEAR FADING, NEW ENERGY COMING ON; THE ONE BIG ADVANTAGE OF SOLAR; HALF OF GLOBAL HEAT MAY BE HIDING IN THE OCEANS

    NUCLEAR FADING, NEW ENERGY COMING ON Wind, Solar Generation Capacity Catching Up with Nuclear Power; New Worldwatch Institute analysis examines global trends in renewable and nuclear power

    September 30, 2014 (Worldwatch Institute)

    "…Nuclear energy’s share of global power production has declined steadily from a peak of 17.6 percent in 1996 to 10.8 percent in 2013. Renewables increased their share from 18.7 percent in 2000 to 22.7 percent in 2012…Following a rapid rise from its beginnings in the mid-1950s, global nuclear power generating capacity peaked at 375.3 gigawatts (GW) in 2010. Capacity has since declined to 371.8 GW in 2013, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Adverse economics, concern about reactor safety and proliferation, and the unresolved question of what to do with nuclear waste have put the brakes on the industry…In stark contrast, wind and solar power generating capacities are now on the same soaring trajectory that nuclear power was on in the 1970s and 1980s…According to estimates by the International Energy Agency (IEA), nuclear investments averaged US$8 billion per year between 2000 and 2013, compared with $37 billion for solar PV and $43 billion for wind…[N]owhere did nuclear have a major role in power generation investments…” click here for more

    THE ONE BIG ADVANTAGE OF SOLAR Why go solar? Homeowners say: 'To save money'

    Jackie DeAngelis, Oct. 10, 2014 (CNBC)

    “Pat Kennell's motivation for installing sun power in his home is typical of the solar industry's new customer: He did it to save money…Kennell isn't alone. The residential solar market is on fire, with homeowners installing solar systems all across the country—sometimes trying to help the environment, other times just looking to save money. And while the trend has sent solar stocks on a tear, it could disrupt some traditional energy companies…U.S. home solar penetration still stands at less than 1 percent, but estimates suggest it could grow to as much as 20 to 30 percent by 2020. In dollar terms, the market is expected to hit $6 billion in just a couple of years…SolarCity, one of the industry leaders with 36 percent market share, says that its crews are working seven days a week to meet demand, and sales representatives have multiple consultations…When it comes to that traditional utility grid, however, the solar companies' gain could be utilities' pain…Investors have long loved solar stocks, the group has been on a tear. SolarCity, for example, has gone on a run of greater than 400 percent over the last five years. But analysts still like solar stocks because there is so much growth potential…The exchange-traded funds are one way to play solar, with the Guggenheim Solar ETF and the Market Vectors Solar Energy ETF…Individual names to watch include SolarCity, First Solar , Suntech, Trina Solar, and NRG Energy.” click here for more

    HALF OF GLOBAL HEAT MAY BE HIDING IN THE OCEANS Global warming's effect on oceans is greater than realized, researchers say (+video) Effect of climate change on upper-ocean temperatures has been underestimated by 24 to 58 percent, a study by NASA and Livermore Laboratory concludes.

    Pete Spotts, October 6, 2014 (Christian Science Monitor)

    “…[G]lobal warming's effect on upper ocean temperatures between 1970 and 2004 has been underestimated by 24 to 58 percent, largely the result of sparse long-term measurements in the southern oceans, [according to new research from Lawrence Livermore National] and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory…Getting ocean heating right is important for estimating the amount of sea-level rise caused by the expansion of seawater as it warms and the amount attributed to melting of land-based glaciers and ice sheets…Ocean heat storage also influences estimates of how sensitive the climate system is to changes in greenhouse-gas levels, a key piece of the puzzle climate models must have to project possible trajectories for human-triggered climate change…Just as the oceans absorb a significant proportion of the carbon-dioxide humans add to the atmosphere, mainly through burning fossil fuels, the oceans take up about 90 percent of the heat attributed to this build-up of greenhouse gases. Southern-hemisphere oceans represent about 60 percent of the world's oceans…[T]his new study represents ‘the first time that scientists have tried to estimate how much heat we've missed…’” click here for more

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