John Oliver On Visiting Antarctica
John Oliver offers some travel advice: "Stop coming here." From Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...
WEEKEND VIDEOS, July 26:
John Oliver offers some travel advice: "Stop coming here." From Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
Higher temperatures would be “the new normal” except that “normal” keeps getting hotter. From WeatherNation via YouTube
A detailed look at how a microgrid can operate independently of the central grid. This is the utilities’ worst nightmare, a vision of how they will become unnecessary. From Vision Group 21 via YouTube
Science Graphic of the Week: Mapping Climate Change on Tatooine Over 110 Galactic Years
Nick Stockton, July 24, 2014 (Wired)
“Just because Luke Skywalker’s home planet of Tatooine is fictional doesn’t mean it’s immune to the effects of climate change…[I]n the past 110 Galactic Standard Years, Tatooine has turned from a sprawling, desert wasteland into an even hotter sprawling, desert wasteland. It comes from Tatooine’s first Intergovernmental Report on Climate Change, written by 23 droids (not really) and a human named [molecular biologist] David Ng…[Ng and other science writers] are using Tatooine as a device to teach real world science…
"[Ng] based his report on the IPCC’s fifth assessment report…[that concludes climate change is] happening, and it’s being caused by our dependence on fossil fuels…Unlike fossil fuels on Earth, water vapor from Tatooine’s unregulated water-mining industry is most likely to blame for the planet’s temperature rise. Like carbon dioxide, water vapor is a greenhouse gas that stores and emits thermal energy…Luke’s aunt and uncle were moisture farmers…until they were shot by Imperial stormtroopers…”
"[Ng] based his report on the IPCC’s fifth assessment report…[that concludes climate change is] happening, and it’s being caused by our dependence on fossil fuels…Unlike fossil fuels on Earth, water vapor from Tatooine’s unregulated water-mining industry is most likely to blame for the planet’s temperature rise. Like carbon dioxide, water vapor is a greenhouse gas that stores and emits thermal energy…Luke’s aunt and uncle were moisture farmers…until they were shot by Imperial stormtroopers…”click here for more
China’s planned coal-to-gas plants to emit over one billion tons of CO2
Christine Ottery, 23 July 2014 (GreenPeace)
"There is a potential storm on the horizon of China’s energy policy: coal-to-gas…[If the 50 planned coal-to-gas projects are operational within the next decade, they] would emit around 1.087 billion tons of CO2 per year…To put this in perspective, it is around one eighth of China’s CO2 emissions in 2011 (8.71 billion tons), and much more than the CO2 cuts from coal control measures by 2020 (655 million tons)…[Without a global climate deal requiring the plants to have carbon capture and storage, the] world’s largest emitter of CO2 will put out a significant [increased] amount of CO2 in the atmosphere…[and] exceed its own targets…There are only two existing coal-to-gas pilot projects in China currently…[but there] are around 48 in the pipeline. This includes three under construction, 16 that have been given the green light to go ahead, and 11 that have been newly signed between mid-2013 amid new regulations to get the plants approved faster…” click here for more
India village claims a first – 100% solar, storage micro-grid
Emma Fitzpatrick, 21 July 2014 (RenewEconomy)
"…[Dharnai village in Bihar, one of India’s poorest states, now sources] all of its own energy requirements with solar, while at least 19,000 other villages, or 82 per cent of the [Bihar] population...do not receive reliable power from the traditional grid-based system and still lack access to electricity…The 100-kilowatt (kW) system in Dharnai powers the 450 homes of the 2,400 residents, 50 commercial operations, two schools, a training centre and a health care facility. A battery backup ensures power around the clock…This includes 70 kW for electricity generation and 30 kW for 10 solar-powered water-pumping systems with three horsepower each. The system was built within three months…This [100% solar village] is a first for India…Reliable electricity in the evening has improved educational opportunities for village children, and brought the safety of street lighting. A dependable power supply has boosted the local economy, and brought a welcome improvement to the social life of the villagers…” click here for more
Germany is most energy efficient major economy, study finds; Ranking places Mexico last and voices concern about the pace of efforts by the United States and Australia
18 July 2014 (AFP via UK Guardian)
"Germany is the world's most energy efficient country with strong codes on buildings while China is quickly stepping up its own efforts…[according to a] study of 16 major economies by American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy that ranked Mexico last and voiced concern about the pace of efforts by the United States and Australia…[Germany, Europe's largest economy, got credit] for its mandatory codes on residential and commercial buildings as it works to meet a goal of reducing energy consumption by 20% by 2020 from 2008 levels…[but] has achieved economic growth while improving efficiency and reducing harmful environmental effects of the energy trade…The study ranked Italy second, pointing to its efficiency in transportation, and ranked the European Union as a whole third. China and France were tied for fourth place, followed by Britain and Japan…The report found that China used less energy per square foot than any other country…Australia was ranked 10th [and the United States came in 13th]…” click here for more
Are the people who refuse to accept climate change ill-informed? Survey shows they know just as much—if you ask the question right.
Scott K. Johnson, July 22, 2014 (Advances in Political Psychology via Ars Technica)
“…When large proportions of a population seem poorly informed about evolution, climate change, or genetically modified foods, the usual response is to bemoan the state of science literacy…and that opinions would change if only we could educate them…[ Yale Professor Dan Kahan’s research into what he calls ‘cultural cognition’] has shown, unfortunately, it's not that simple…[P]ublic opinion on these topics is fundamentally tied to cultural identities rather than assessment of scientific evidence…[P]eople form opinions based on what they think people with a similar background believe…[W]hen people respond to surveys asking whether they think Earth’s climate has warmed, for example, their answers tell you more about their cultural identity [and political party affiliation] than their factual knowledge…Kahan set out to design a set of test questions that would actually dig in…The average person who believes that humans are responsible for climate change answered half of the questions correctly—and so did the average person who believes humans have had no effect, or that the globe hasn't even warmed…Kahan’s work argues that a lack of knowledge isn’t what makes climate change contentious…The problem is that a culture war has infected the conversation.” click here for more
Wind Energy Sector Receives $4 Billion in Corporate Funding, Reports Mercom Capital Group; Wind Project Funding comes to $6.3 Billion with record number of deals
July 2014 (Mercom Capital Group)
“…Wind venture capital (VC) funding increased to $48 million compared to $32 million in Q1 2014. Total corporate funding in the wind sector came to $4 billion in Q2 2014, including VC funding, public market financing, and debt financing [according to Mercom Capital Group’s Q2 2014 report on wind sector funding and merger and acquisition (M&A) activity]…Announced large-scale project funding in Q2 2014 totaled $6.3 billion in 38 deals, compared to $7.2 billion in 29 deals in Q1 2014…[There were] nearly 11 GW of new project announcements globally this quarter in various stages of development…[including] seven M&A transactions in Q2 2014, four of which disclosed amounts totaling $828 million…Announced project acquisitions in the second quarter came to $1.4 billion in 31 transactions compared to 30 transactions in Q1 2014…Of the disclosed project acquisitions in Q2 2014, 10 investment firms, eight project developers, four utilities and two independent power producers acquired wind projects…” click here for more
New analysis finds that 10 states could provide abundant agricultural byproducts for low-carbon fuel and electricity; Sustainable practices can turn crop residues and manure into bioenergy without competing with food supplies
July 21, 2014 (Union of Concerned Scientists)
“U.S. agriculture could provide up to 155 million tons of crop residues and 60 million tons of manure to produce clean fuels and electricity in 2030 that would help cut the nation’s oil use and phase out the use of coal, according to [ Turning Agricultural Residues and Manure into Bioenergy (2014) from] the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)…[T]he top 10 states with the potential to use the residues left behind from crop harvest and livestock production, such as plant materials and manure, to create low-carbon fuels and electricity are: Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota, Arkansas, Texas, California, Indiana, South Dakota and North Carolina. Together, these states can provide about two-thirds of total projected U.S. crop residues and manure in 2030…[O]verall, the U.S. could tap nearly 680 million tons of biomass resources each year by 2030, enough to produce more than 10 billion gallons of ethanol, or 166 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity — equal to 4 percent of total U.S. power consumption in 2010…The UCS analysis found that the benefits of biomass depend on using the right types of resources at an appropriate scale…” click here for more
Electric cars: Why Tesla is important for both the auto industry and Silicon Valley; Electric cars have a valuable advocate in Tesla, whose Model S sedan is the gold standard in the growing industry. But in addition to the growth of electric cars, Tesla's success is vital to the US auto industry as a whole.
Antony Ingram, July 21, 2014 (Christian Science Monitor)
“The Tesla Model S is… arguably not Tesla's, nor Silicon Valley's most important product…It's the first true volume electric vehicle from the company, and one tasked with turning Tesla into a worldwide force. Along with the Model X crossover, it's the one that needs to make money for Tesla…[But] Tesla's unique attributes, and the occasionally outlandish claims made by its founder and CEO Elon Musk, are even more important…Musk is already America's best-known car executive, even though Tesla itself is a tiny brand next to the Big Three or companies hailing from Europe and Japan…[A]utomakers are struggling to attract the next generation of drivers…and Musk's promise of reinvention of the automobile is a hopeful view that could reignite passion…Tesla still sells vehicles in small numbers and Google not at all, but support for each company is indicative that at least some of the population are keen to witness change…It's exciting and it's hopeful--qualities that the traditional automotive industry is struggling with right now…” click here for more
The European offshore wind industry - key trends and statistics 1st half 2014
July 2014 (European Wind Energy Association)
Mid-year European offshore wind energy statistics
In the first six months of 2014, Europe fully grid connected 224 offshore wind turbines in 16 commercial wind farms and one offshore demonstration site with a combined capacity totalling 781 MW. There are 310 wind turbines awaiting grid connection. Once connected, these will add a total capacity of over 1,200 MW. The total capacity of all the wind farms under construction is over 4,900 MW when fully commissioned. <;p> New offshore capacity installations during the first half of 2014 were down 25% compared to the same period the previous year.
The work carried out in European offshore wind farms during the first six months of 2014 is detailed below:
• 224 wind turbines were fully grid connected, totalling 781 MW (down 25% compared to the same period last year) in five wind farms: Gwynt y Môr (UK), Northwind (BE), Riffgat (DE), West of Duddon Sands (UK) and the Methil Demo at Energy Park Fife (UK).
• 233 foundations (35 units fewer than the same period last year) were installed in 13 wind farms: Amrumbank West (DE), Borkum Riffgrund I (DE), Borkum West 2.1 (DE), Butendiek (DE), Dan Tysk (DE), Global Tech 1 (DE), Gwynt y Môr (UK), Humber Gateway (UK), Meerwind Sud/Ost (DE), Nordsee Ost (DE), Northwind (BE), Westermost Rough (UK) and the Methil Demo - Energy Park Fife (UK)
• 282 turbines (28 units or 10% more than during the same period last year) were erected in eight wind farms: Borkum West 2.1 (DE), Dan Tysk (DE), Global Tech 1 (DE), Gwynt y Môr (UK), Meerwind Sud/Ost (DE), Nordsee Ost (DE), Northwind (BE) and West of Duddon Sands (UK)
• Preparatory work has begun at the 600 MW Gemini wind farm off the coast of the Netherlands. In total, there were, on 1 July 2014, 2,304 offshore wind turbines with a combined capacity of 7,343 MW fully grid connected in European waters in 73 wind farms across 11 countries, including demonstration sites.
Summary of offshore work carried out during the first half of 2014
During the first six months of the year, work was carried out on 16 offshore wind farms and one demonstration site. Foundations and turbines were installed and/or grid connected in 15 of these and in one demonstration site in three countries: Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom.
Four commercial wind farms and one demonstration project connected wind turbines to the grid totalling 781 MW. Figure 3 shows the share of connected MW per developer from 1 January to 30 June 2014 taking into account each company’s share in the projects. Power producers account for over 78% of the installed capacity (over 600 MW).
During the first six months of 2014, 223 offshore wind turbines and one offshore demonstration wind turbine were connected to the power grid, or around 25% fewer than during the same period in the previous year. The average size of the wind turbines was 3.5 MW, slightly less than during the first six months of 2013.
Units made by three turbine manufacturers were connected to the grid during the period: Siemens, MHI Vestas, and Samsung. The former has the largest share of newly connected capacity (633 MW, 81%), followed by MHI Vestas (141 MW, 18 %) and Samsung (7 MW, 1%) which connected its 7 MW demonstration wind turbine to the grid.
In terms of units, Siemens grid connected 176 turbines (79%), MHI Vestas 47 turbines (21%) and Samsung one turbine.
Financing highlights in H1 2014 and outlook
There was considerable financing activity in the offshore wind farm sector in the first half of 2014, with multiple transactions on the equity side and the largest offshore wind financing to close to date: the 600 MW Gemini project in the Netherlands. The Gemini transaction, which closed on 13 May 2014, included both equity and debt funding, with independent power producer Northland Power, a Canadian developer, acquiring 60% of the project, alongside contractors Siemens (20%) and Van Oord (10%), from developer Typhoon Offshore, with initial investor HVC, the Dutch waste-to-energy company, keeping its original 10% stake. The €2.8 billion transaction included a senior debt1 financing of €2.1 billion provided by a consortium of 12 commercial banks and four public funding institutions, as well as a mezzanine2 tranche provide by Danish pension fund PKA alongside Northland Power.
Commercial funding topped one billion euros, with large individual commitments from banks, showing a healthy appetite from the lending market for the offshore wind sector, including construction risk. This appetite will be further confirmed in the second half of the year with several transactions currently in the market and expected to close in the coming months, including Westermost Rough (UK, 210 MW), MEG1 (DE, 400 MW), Nordsee 1 (DE, 330 MW) and Galloper (UK, 340 MW), plus Cape Wind (370 MW) and Deepwater (30 MW) in the US.
Several of these transactions are backed by power producers, demonstrating their growing appetite for non-recourse debt in offshore wind. On the equity side, the market has also been dynamic with the following transactions closing (in addition to the equity sale that took place on the closing of Gemini):
• DONG Energy sold half of its 50% stake in the 630 MW London Array project to Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec (CDPQ) in January3;
• Wpd sold half of its remaining stake in Butendiek (288 MW, DE) in January to Switzerland’s Elektrizitätswerk der Stadt Zürich (EWZ) reducing its participation in the project to 5%4;
• DONG Energy sold 50% of Westermost Rough (210 MW, UK) to Marubeni (25%) and to the UK Green Investment Bank (25%) in March5;
• RWE sold a 10% stake in Gwynt y Môr (576 MW, UK) to the UK Green Investment Bank, in March6. In the UK, Statoil and Statkraft have reached a final investment decision (FID) on their Dudgeon offshore wind farm (402 MW), agreeing to invest €1.9bn in the construction of the project. Dudgeon is the first wind farm reaching FID under the new UK Contract for Difference mechanism7.
A number of other equity transactions have been reported as being under way as owners of operating projects seek to recycle capital in light of a growing interest from financial investors, in particular infrastructure funds and pension funds for operational offshore wind assets. But as the Gemini and Westermost Rough transactions show, investors are also increasingly looking at projects under construction and most such transactions are likely to happen before the end of the year.
Overall, while transactions remain complex and take time to close, there is an active market for offshore wind projects and a strong pipeline of new deals. Projects with a well-designed commercial and/or financial structure are able to find funding for construction or refinancing, allowing the sector to benefit from competitive capital costs.
NEW ENERGY WAS 55% OF 1H 2014 U.S. NEW BUILD Renewables Continue To Dominate New U.S. Generating Capacity
21 July 2014 (Solar Industry)
“…[S]olar, wind, biomass, geothermal and hydropower provided 55.7% of newly installed U.S. electrical generating capacity during the first half of the year - 1,965 MW of the 3,529 MW total [according to] U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission figures…[Solar power] accounted for 32.1% of this new capacity with 1,131 MW. Wind provided 19.8% with 699 MW…The single greatest source of added generating capacity was natural gas with 44.1%, representing 1,555 MW. No new coal or nuclear capacity came online in the first half of the year…[R]enewable energy sources now account for 16.28% of all U.S. operating capacity…[with hydropower at 8.57%, wind at 5.26%, biomass at 1.37%, solar at 0.75%, and geothermal at 0.33%]…” click here for more
Jay Cole, July 1, 2014 (Inside EVs)
"After electric vehicle sales flew off the chart in May with over 12,000 cars sold – an all-time record, it was assumed June would be a pullback month…[but June fell] only a hair (160 units) with an estimated 11,893 plug-ins sold in the US…Compared to June of 2013, that was a staggering improvement of43%...For the year to date, an estimated 54,463 Americans have chosen to buy a new EV, which is up 33% from last year…At the current pace, 130,000 new vehicle purchases would be of the plug-in variety for 2014…[W]hile Tesla and Ford were the ‘big name’ movers for June, Nissan continues to be the backbone of the electric vehicle industry in the US as the LEAF set its 16th consecutive record month for year-over-years sales in June with 2,347 cars sold…The only drag on the industry in June continues to be the Chevrolet Volt, as sales were off 34% (1,777 vs 2,698) during the month. Overall for the year, the Chevy is off 13%, the only major production EV to show a loss…” click here for more
OCEAN ENERGY’S FINANCES UNDER SCRUTINY Ocean energy ROI questionable
Barbara Vergetis Lundin, July 15, 2014 (Fierce Energy)
“In 2013, the wave and tidal energy market was valued at $25 million, and Transparency Market Research (TMR) anticipates that will reach $10.1 billion in 2020 -- a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 64.1 percent from 2014 to 2020…When harnessed effectively, ocean could prove to be one of the largest reserves of clean and sustainable energy…Tidal stream power plants are a relatively new technology with ample scope for development, while tidal range power is a mature form of energy generation technology…[Wave energy] is a relatively new concept…with the installed capacity aggregated at just 5.77 MW in 2013…[L]arge-scale commercial array deployments of wave and tidal power plants [and development of the offshore wind energy sector] will be followed by massive cost reductions…TMR expects major developments in wave and tidal stream plants to take place in Europe but estimates South Korea to grow fastest in terms of tidal barrage operations…[T]he wave and tidal energy market is projected to reach 3712 MW by 2020 -- expanding at a CAGR of 34.5 percent from 2014 to 2020…Wave energy development in Asia-Pacific would be concentrated in Australia…[which is expected] to add nearly 25 MW of capacity by the end of 2020…” click here for more
Cashing in on All of the Above: U.S. Fossil Fuel Production Subsidies under Obama
July 2014 (Oil Change International)
Each year, the U.S. federal and state governments give away more than $21 billion in subsidies to oil, gas, and coal companies to promote increased fossil fuel production and exploration – expanding oil and gas development and increasing the reserves base at the same time that climate scientists around the world agree that we need to leave at least two-thirds of existing reserves in the ground to avoid catastrophic climate change.
Thanks in large part to these huge subsidies, U.S. fossil fuel production is booming. Between 2009 and 2013, natural gas production increased by 18 percent and oil production increased by 35 percent. Although President Obama has pledged to tackle climate change and eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, he champions the oil and gas boom as the centerpiece of his Administration’s “All of the Above” energy strategy.
Since President Obama took office in 2009, federal fossil fuel subsidies have grown in value by 45 percent, from $12.7 billion to a current total of $18.5 billion. This rise is mostly due to increased oil and gas production: the value of tax breaks and other incentives has increased along with greater production and profits, essentially rewarding companies for accelerating climate change.
It should be noted that President Obama has proposed ending some of the most direct and fastest-growing subsidies to the oil industry in every budget he has sent to Capitol Hill. If Congress had not blocked these proposals, they would have resulted in $6.1 billion less in subsidies in 2013, and the value of federal subsidies would have declined by 2% during the Obama Administration.
In summary, the findings in this report include:
f The United States federal and state governments gave away $21.6 billion in production and exploration subsidies to the oil, gas, and coal industries in 2013.
f At the federal level only, largely due to increased oil and gas, production, fossil fuel production and exploration subsidies have grown in value by 45 percent since President Obama took office in 2009 from $12.7 billion to a current total of $18.5 billion.
f Repeated attempts by the Administration to reduce subsidies have failed at least in part because of the cozy relationship between Congress and the fossil fuel industry. In 2011-12, oil, gas, and coal companies spent $329 million in campaign finance contributions and lobbying expenditures and received $33 billion in federal subsidies over the same two years – a more than 10,000 percent return on investment.
f More than $5 billion annually is spent by U.S. taxpayers for federal subsidies that encourage further exploration and development of new fossil fuel resources – resources we know we cannot afford to burn
f Subsidies promoting fossil fuel production on federal property – related to rules governing royalty payments to the U.S. government for leasing federal oil, gas, and coal-producing land – total nearly $4 billion each year.
f Fossil fuel company deductions for pollution clean-up costs from their tax payments range from tens of millions to billions of dollars each year. These subsidies incentivize not only increased production, but also increased pollution and poor environmental stewardship by transferring the risk and expense of damages onto taxpayers.
f Although not included in the production subsidy totals, above, there are a number of additional types of support to the oil, gas, and coal industries that should be noted, including:
g U.S. federal and state consumption subsidies are on the order of $11 billion a year, but were not included in the total above in order to focus on exploration and production subsidies. Thus the total annual value of all known U.S. state and federal fossil fuel exploration, production, and consumption subsidies is $32.8 billion.
g U.S. financing of fossil fuel projects overseas increased by 14 percent from $4.1 billion in 2009 to $4.7 billion in 2013, driven by an increase in bilateral oil and gas project lending.
g Additional costs borne by taxpayers related to the military, climate, local environmental, and health impacts of the fossil fuel industry are credibly estimated between $360 billion and $1 trillion each year – in the United States alone.
Channeling billions of taxpayer dollars to the oil, gas, and coal industries each year is in direct opposition to the urgent demands of climate change. The U.S. needs to reject its current All of the Above energy strategy that amounts to nothing less than climate denial and live up to its promises to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies and usher in a rapid transition to clean, renewable energy.
What is a Fossil Fuel Subsidy?
Broadly speaking, a fossil fuel subsidy is any government action that lowers the cost of production, lowers the cost of consumption, or raises the price received by producers. Types of fossil fuel subsidies include financial contributions or support from the government or private bodies funded by governments, including direct transfers of funds, transfer of risk such as loan guarantees, foregone revenue including through tax breaks, and provision of goods and services aside from general infrastructure.1
Oil Change International groups fossil fuel subsidies according to three categories:
1. Exploration: support for expanding fossil fuel reserves, including the discovery of new resources;
2. Production: support to fossil fuel companies for producing oil, gas, and coal, usually in the form of special tax deductions, low-cost access to government land, and infrastructure support; and
3. Consumption: support to consumers to lower the cost of fossil fuel use. (U.S. fossil fuel consumption subsidies are listed in Appendix II but are not included in the total subsidy estimates in this analysis).
Given the increasing urgency of climate change, as well as fiscal concerns around government spending, it is highly inefficient to continue subsidizing fossil fuels. Removing subsidies to the fossil fuel industry is one of the first, and least, goals that public policy should seek to achieve, especially given U.S. failure to pass carbon price legislation and the huge unaccounted for social cost of carbon resulting from increased U.S. fossil fuel production.
While international pressure for fossil fuel subsidy elimination has been mostly targeted at consumption subsidies, exploration and production subsidies are potentially even more damaging because they encourage the extraction of more and more dirty energy resources that our climate can’t safely absorb.
For this reason, and because consumption subsidies are often intended to support social goods beyond the corporate health of oil, gas, and coal companies (such as heating for the poor or affordable fuel for farmers) the focus of this report is U.S. fossil fuel exploration and production subsidies…
Unburnable Carbon and U.S. Fossil Fuel Subsidies…All of the Above = More Subsidies to Fossil Fuels…Fossil Fuel Money to Congress Stymies Subsidy Reform…U.S. Fossil Fuel Production and Exploration Subsidy Highlights…Worst of the Worst: Exploration Subsidies…Giving Away Federal Lands for Cheap: Production Subsidies…Pollution Clean-Up Subsidies…Additional Subsidies to Fossil Fuels…Financing Fossil Fuel Projects Overseas: $4.1 to $6.3 billion annually…Military Expenditure to Secure Oil Supply Overseas: $10.5 to $500 billion annually…Externalities: $350 to $501 billion annually…Consumption Subsidies: $11 billion annually…
Moving Forward: Honoring International Commitments and Protecting the Climate
It is time for the U.S. to show leadership and stop rewarding the fossil fuel industry for pushing the world toward climate disaster. In 2013, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions grew by 2 percent, a shameful and dangerous rise as our window to avoid catastrophic climate change is closing fast. As with every other nation on Earth, the ultimate climate goal of the U.S. is to reduce emissions to the extent necessary to limit global average temperature increase to 2°C. U.S. taxpayer support should be devoted to helping the country meet this challenge, not further funding the problem.
Ending the misguided U.S. All of the Above energy strategy should start by repealing the more than $21 billion dollars of giveaways to oil, gas, and coal companies from the U.S. government – especially those that encourage them to find and extract ever-increasing amounts of climate-damaging fossil fuel resources. Eliminating these subsidies is a vital step toward honoring the U.S. commitment to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies and, even more importantly, to encourage clean, renewable energy sources that are our only chance of keeping climate change in check.
Appendix I: Complete List of U.S. Federal and State Fossil Fuel Exploration and Production Subsidies…Appendix II: U.S. Federal and State Fossil Fuel Consumption Subsidies…Appendix III: U.S. Export-Import Bank and Overseas Private Investment Corporation Fossil Fuel Projects…
U.S. DOE FORESEES NEW ENERGY EIA projects modest needs for new electric generation capacity
July 16, 2014 (U.S. Energy Information Administration)
“The Annual Energy Outlook 2014 (AEO2014) Reference case projects 351 gigawatts (GW) of new electric generating additions between 2013 and 2040…U.S. electric generating capacity additions averaged 35 GW annually from 2000 through 2005. Almost all of the capacity added during those years was natural gas-fired…From 2006 through 2012, annual average capacity additions dropped to 19 GW, with 42% of the additions representing renewable technologies [primarily wind] and 45% representing natural gas-fired technologies…The high levels of recent capacity additions, combined with relatively low electricity demand, have resulted in surplus capacity relative to required reserve margins for many regions of the country…In the AEO2014 Reference case, natural gas-fired plants account for 73% of capacity additions (255 GW) from 2013 to 2040, compared with 24% for renewables, 3% for nuclear, and 1% for coal Of the 83 GW of renewable capacity additions, 39 GW are solar photovoltaic (PV) systems (60% of which are rooftop installations) and 28 GW are wind (60% of which occur by 2015 to take advantage of production tax credits)…” click here for more
THE BEST CITIES FOR NEW ENERGY Solar And EV Adoption, Climate Policies, And Green Finance Drive U.S. Clean Tech Leadership Index Growth
July 2014 (Clean Edge News)
“…[The Clean Edge 2014 U.S. Clean Tech Leadership Index found that eleven] states now generate more than 10 percent of their electricity from non-hydro renewable energy sources, with two – Iowa and South Dakota – exceeding 25 percent. Solar installations climbed more than 40 percent year-over-year in the U.S., while registrations of all-electric vehicles doubled between the 2013 and 2014 indexes, to approximately 200,000 nationwide…California leads the nation in clean tech for the fifth consecutive year, with Massachusetts and Oregon repeating their #2 and #3 rankings from the 2013 State Index. Vermont and Connecticut moved into the Top 10 this year, while Hawaii and Minnesota dropped out. In the Metro Index, San Francisco and San Jose repeated as #1 and #2, while San Diego jumped four places to #3…Eight of the top 10 metro areas are located in the top four states; the exceptions are Washington D.C. (a city without a state), and Austin…” click here for more
ENERGY STORAGE TO BE $50BIL MRKT Energy Storage Market Rises to $50 Billion in 2020, amid Dramatic Changes Driven by plug-ins, transportation applications will be worth $21 billion, closing the gap on electronics’ $27 billion market…
July 15, 2014 (Lux Research)
“Energy storage, driven largely by electronics and plug-in vehicles, will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 8% to $50 billion in 2020, with dramatic shifts coming from the transportation industry…Transportation applications will outpace electronics growth – attaining an 11% CAGR to become a $21 billion market by the end of the decade…[Electronics] will remain the single largest market valued at $27 billion…With global sales of 59 million, a 53% market share and $6.1 billion in annual revenue, micro-hybrids will, for the first time, overtake the conventional internal combustion engine and emerge the most popular drivetrain by 2020...With modest sales of 440,000 units, electric vehicles still will use $6.3 billion worth of energy storage…The United States will lead EV sales for most of the decade, peaking at 167,000 units in 2019…[China will nearly catch up with 2020 sales of 145,000]…[The smartphone market will grow] at a 12% CAGR to $8.4 billion in 2020. Tablet computers follow with a 6% CAGR to $12 billion…Driven by solar integration, residential represents the biggest opportunity in stationary energy storage applications – leaping from less than $0.1 billion to $1.2 billion in 2020…” click here for more
Integrating Solar PV in Utility System Operations
Mills, et al, October 2013, (Argonne National Laboratory, Berkeley Lab, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory)
Deployment of solar photovoltaic (PV) power generation is growing rapidly in the United States. Utilities and system operators are increasingly conducting studies of the impact of PV on operations, including assessments of short-term variability and uncertainty. Consideration of the complex issues surrounding sub-hourly variability and forecasting of PV power output has still been somewhat limited because of the difficulty of creating realistic sub-hourly PV datasets and forecast errors for future scenarios with increased PV production. How utility operations should be changed to more economically integrate large amounts of solar PV power is an open question currently being considered by many utilities.
This study develops a systematic framework for estimating the increase in operating costs due to uncertainty and variability in renewable resources, uses the framework to quantify the integration costs associated with sub-hourly solar power variability and uncertainty, and shows how changes in system operations may affect these costs. Toward this end, we present a statistical method for estimating the required balancing reserves to maintain system reliability along with a model for commitment and dispatch of the portfolio of thermal and renewable resources at different stages of system operations. We estimate the costs of sub-hourly solar variability, short-term forecast errors, and day-ahead (DA) forecast errors as the difference in production costs between a case with “realistic” PV (i.e., sub- hourly solar variability and uncertainty are fully included in the modeling) and a case with “well behaved” PV (i.e., PV is assumed to have no sub-hourly variability and can be perfectly forecasted). In addition, we highlight current practices that allow utilities to compensate for the issues encountered at the sub-hourly time frame with increased levels of PV penetration.
In this analysis we use the analytical framework to simulate utility operations with increasing deployment of PV in a case study of Arizona Public Service Company (APS), a utility in the southwestern United States. In our analysis, we focus on three processes that are important in understanding the management of PV variability and uncertainty in power system operations. First, we represent the decisions made the day before the operating day through a DA commitment model that relies on imperfect DA forecasts of load and wind as well as PV generation. Second, we represent the decisions made by schedulers in the operating day through hour-ahead (HA) scheduling. Peaking units can be committed or decommitted in the HA schedules and online units can be redispatched using forecasts that are improved relative to DA forecasts, but still imperfect. Finally, we represent decisions within the operating hour by schedulers and transmission system operators as real-time (RT) balancing. We simulate the DA and HA scheduling processes with a detailed unit-commitment (UC) and economic dispatch (ED) optimization model. This model creates a least-cost dispatch and commitment plan for the conventional generating units using forecasts and reserve requirements as inputs. We consider only the generation units and load of the utility in this analysis; we do not consider opportunities to trade power with neighboring utilities. We also do not consider provision of reserves from renewables or from demand-side options.
We estimate dynamic reserve requirements in order to meet reliability requirements in the RT operations, considering the uncertainty and variability in load, solar PV, and wind resources. Balancing reserve requirements are based on the 2.5th and 97.5th percentile of 1-min deviations from the HA schedule in a previous year. We then simulate RT deployment of balancing reserves using a separate minute-by-minute simulation of deviations from the HA schedules in the operating year. In the simulations we assume that balancing reserves can be fully deployed in 10 min. The minute-by-minute deviations account for HA forecasting errors and the actual variability of the load, wind, and solar generation. Using these minute-by-minute deviations and deployment of balancing reserves, we evaluate the impact of PV on system reliability through the calculation of the standard reliability metric called Control Performance Standard 2 (CPS2). Broadly speaking, the CPS2 score measures the percentage of 10-min periods in which a balancing area is able to balance supply and demand within a specific threshold. Compliance with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) reliability standards requires that the CPS2 score must exceed 90% (i.e., the balancing area must maintain adequate balance for 90% of the 10-min periods). The combination of representing DA forecast errors in the DA commitments, using 1-min PV data to simulate RT balancing, and estimates of reliability performance through the CPS2 metric, all factors that are important to operating systems with increasing amounts of PV, makes this study unique in its scope.
We analyze the impact of distributed and utility-scale PV on the APS system based on projected conventional generation, load, and wind and PV resources in 2027. Two PV deployment levels are considered: low PV is based on the PV that APS includes in its 2012 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) base case, and high PV is based on the PV penetration that APS includes in the expanded renewables case of the IRP. The low-PV case includes sufficient PV to meet 8.8% of the annual energy, and the high-PV case includes enough PV to meet 17.0% of the annual energy (prior to any curtailment of renewables). Both cases also consider wind penetration of 4.9% of annual energy. Based on existing practices at APS five of the eight coal plants are treated as must-run units that can dispatch between minimum and maximum generation, but they cannot be turned off. Similarly, nuclear units are always operated at full nameplate capacity. We find that the combination of must-run generation, inflexible nuclear operations, and large amounts of solar in the high-PV case leads to severe operational challenges during low-load and high solar periods under the assumption that the utility cannot trade power with neighboring utilities. For a high-PV case to be practical, some solution to these challenges will be necessary. We included a “flexible nuclear” case as one option for introducing flexibility during low-load and high solar periods. The impacts of this level of PV deployment under the assumption of constant nuclear operation in the low-PV and high-PV cases and the alternative flexible nuclear operation in the high-PV case are summarized in Table ES-1.
The assumption of flexible nuclear operation in the high-PV flexible nuclear case (where all the nuclear units can operate below maximum output and can provide reserves) decreases the integration cost and greatly reduces the need to curtail renewables from almost 18% down to 3.4% of available renewables.
The addition of PV increases the variability and uncertainty between HA scheduling and RT operations. Additional balancing reserves are added in both the up and down direction to manage this uncertainty and variability. The peak and average requirement for balancing reserves in the up direction without PV, with low PV, and with high PV are summarized in Table ES-1, along with the estimated integration costs for low PV, high PV with constant nuclear operation, and high PV with flexible nuclear operation. The total integration cost is primarily due to the cost of holding resources in reserve during the HA scheduling that can then be deployed in RT to manage remaining uncertainty and variability (balancing reserve cost). The remaining portion of the costs (DA forecast error cost) is from redispatch of online generation, changes in UC within the operating day for peaking units, and imperfect UC decisions for other units based on imperfect forecasts between the DA and HA scheduling.
On the basis of the RT simulations of minute-by-minute deviations from the HA schedule, we find that the balancing reserves based on the 2.5th to 97.5th percentile of deviations are sufficient to achieve a CPS2 score that exceeds NERC minimum standards of a CPS2 score of 90% (Table ES-1), though none of the cases achieve APS’s current practice of aiming to maintain a 99% CPS2 score. The decrease in the CPS2 score, particularly in the high-PV scenario, indicates there is some degradation of CPS2 performance when balancing reserves requirements are based on the 2.5th to 97.5th percentile of deviations, an issue we address through sensitivity studies.
We conduct an extensive sensitivity analysis of system cost and reliability, using the high-PV (Flex. Nucl.) scenario as a benchmark, under different assumptions about balancing reserves, system flexibility, fuel prices, and forecasting errors. For these sensitivities we find integration costs vary within the range of $1.0 to $4.4/MWh-PV (Figure ES-1). The majority of the integration cost is due to an increase in the cost of balancing reserves held during HA scheduling, whereas DA forecast errors continue to be a smaller contributor to integration costs. Figure ES-1 shows that changes in fuel prices and forecast assumptions for wind and load do have an effect on integration costs, but the impacts are less pronounced compared to those for the other sensitivities, which are discussed in more detail below.
In the sensitivities related to balancing reserves, we examine two options for increasing the CPS2 performance with high PV penetration: (1) increase the amount of balancing reserve held in the HA or (2) increase the maximum rate of deployment (change from our initial assumption of full deployment in 10 min to full deployment in 5 min). Either option increases the CPS2 score to more than 95%, but both also increase the integration costs. There is clearly a trade-off between integration costs and the utility’s reliability level (Figure ES-2); the proper balance between the two will depend on the priorities of the utility.
On the basis of the sensitivities related to flexibility, we find that system flexibility is essential for minimizing integration costs. Flexibility is particularly important in this analysis because we assume that the utility absorbs all generation within its service territory (i.e., we assume that there are no opportunities to trade with neighboring utilities). In addition to the comparison of constant and flexible nuclear operations with high PV mentioned earlier, we show the impact of reduced system flexibility by reducing the capabilities of thermal generators to ramp from one hour to the next and minimizing curtailment of renewable energy. Renewables curtailment can be reduced to less than 1% by artificially introducing a large penalty for renewable curtailment into the UC/ED model. However, minimizing this curtailment changes the dispatch of thermal units and also results in an increase in the integration cost (Figure ES-1). Lower ramp rates of thermal units also increase the integration costs.
To further highlight the importance of flexibility, we constructed a worst-case scenario in which limits to flexibility (including constant nuclear output, low ramp rates for other thermal generators, and penalties on renewables curtailment) and increased balancing reserve requirements were simultaneously assumed. In this worst case, the integration cost increases to $9.6/MWh and renewables curtailment exceeds 10% of available renewable generation (despite the penalties for renewable curtailment), and it also becomes challenging to meet the balancing reserve requirements with frequent occurrences of reserve shortfalls. This case is unrealistic given the combination of several conservative assumptions regarding system flexibility and the actual ability of the utility to trade with other utilities. However, the results do highlight the importance of finding buyers for excess power during times with high PV production or the need to increase flexibility from existing thermal power plants or other resources…
U.S. WIND, SOLAR TO GROW THROUGH 2020 Market Snapshot: Wind, solar expected to lead growth in power plant capacity
Emily Reynolds, July 16, 2014 (SNL)
“An increasing amount of renewable generation is entering into the energy mix, with solar and wind resources making up a growing share of total generation resources. According to SNL data, natural gas could account for about 33% of all power plant capacity in 2020, up 1 percentage point from 2010, while solar and wind capacity is expected to grow 8 percentage points from 2010 to 2020, with solar accounting for 3% and wind making up 9% of total U.S. capacity by 2020.” click here for more
NEW GEOTHERMAL RISING 100 GW Of US Geothermal Power Will Push US Past Gas
Tina Casey, July 18, 2014 (Clean Technica)
“Natural gas has been having a field day…but it looks like the sleeping giant of US geothermal power is being nudged out of its stupor…[The Energy Department]…is plunking down $31 million to rev up a cutting edge geothermal demo project [called FORGE, for Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy,] that could enable the US to tap into an estimated 100 gigawatts of geothermal power…The idea is to tap into areas underground where the rocks are hot, but the heat doesn’t have a natural way up to the surface…[It is] called an Enhanced Geothermal System. Ideally, an ESG would create pathways that enable fluid to circulate efficiently through rock, and return to the surface piping hot…[by drilling] into the target area, and then injecting water at high pressure and/or heat to split the rock…[With a ‘fracture network’ and a production well, returning water should be hot enough to transition to steam at the surface or] to heat another fluid to produce vapor…for running a turbine…[ESG construction would not likely lead to the widespread environmental impacts of the natural gas industry in states with weak regulations because] ESG lends itself to the kind of large scale, centralized installations that could fall under federal jurisdiction.” click here for more
CHINESE HAVE RIGHTS IN OREGON WIND BUY Court backs Chinese firm in dispute with Obama
Timothy Cama, July 15, 2014 (The Hill)
“A federal appeals court…[has ruled that when President Obama used a rarely invoked authority in 2012 to prevent Ralls Corp. from buying the four wind farms in Oregon located on or near a naval training facility because of national security concerns, it] deprived Ralls of its due-process rights under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution…The judges said Ralls should be allowed to see the evidence the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States used to block the transaction, and should have the chance to respond to the allegations…The committee was formed in the 1970s to stop foreign transactions that could threaten national security. Its proceedings are highly secretive…The panel recommended that Obama block the Ralls acquisitions, and he agreed. It was the first time since 1990 that the authority had been used.” click here for more
As usual, Colbert turns not-funny to funny. From Comedy Central
A clear, accurate explanation of what the solar industry calls “thermal storage” – the storage of the sun’s heat. From New Technology via YouTube
How wind energy can be a solution to a range of challenges, from climate change to local economics. From CSR News via YouTube