NewEnergyNews: 11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006

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

  • THE STUDY: A CHRONICLE OF EXTREME CLIMATE IMPACTS
  • QUICK NEWS, July 29: OFFICIAL FORECASTS OVERLOOK NEW ENERGY; NEW ENERGY NEEDS NEW TRANSMISSION; BRITISH COLUMBIA EMISSIONS TAX SUCCEEDING
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: MORE AND SMARTER MEDIA COVERAGE OF CLIMATE CHANGE IN 2014
  • QUICK NEWS, July 28: CLIMATE SKEPTICS REACHING ‘CATASTROPHIC’ NUMBERS; THE COST OF THE EPA EMISSIONS CUTS; GEOTHERMAL DRILL SKILL ADVANCES
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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • Weekend Video: John Oliver On Visiting Antarctica
  • Weekend Video: Warmest May And June Ever And Non-Stop Record Heat
  • Weekend Video: Meet The Microgrid
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE- STAR WARS PLANET TATOOINE’S CLIMATE CHANGE
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-BIG NEW THREAT TO CLIMATE FROM COAL-TO-GAS IN CHINA
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-INDIA VILLAGE OF 2,400 GOES 100% SOLAR WITH BATTERIES, MICROGRID
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-GERMANY IS WORLD’S MOST EFFICIENT MAJOR ECONOMY
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, July 24:

  • TTTA Thursday-CLIMATE FACTS VERSUS CLIMATE CULTURE
  • TTTA Thursday-MONEY IN WIND UP FOR QUARTER, DOWN FROM 2013
  • TTTA Thursday-MIDWEST BIOFUELS CAN BE NEW ENERGY – UCS STUDY
  • TTTA Thursday-TESLA CHAMPIONS THE PLUG AND THE CAR
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • THE STUDY: EUROPE’S OFFSHORE WIND PROGRESS THIS YEAR
  • QUICK NEWS, July 23: NEW ENERGY WAS 55% OF 1H 2014 U.S. NEW BUILD; EV SALES LEAP; OCEAN ENERGY’S FINANCES UNDER SCRUTINY
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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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  • Thursday, November 30, 2006

    YAHOO! FOR HYBRIDS

    Hybrid Myths
    November 30, 2006 (hybridCARS.com via Yahoo Autos)

    1. You need to plug in a hybrid car.

    …Auto engineers have developed an ingenious system known as regenerative braking… Energy usually lost when a vehicle is slowing down or stopping is reclaimed and routed to the hybrid's rechargeable batteries. The process is automatic…[B]ut a growing number of them wish they had a plug-in hybrid. The ability to connect a hybrid into the electric grid overnight to charge a larger set of batteries means that most of your city driving could be done without burning a single drop of gasoline.
    Can you say 100 mpg? …

    2. Hybrid batteries need to be replaced.
    …By keeping the charge between 40% and 60% -never fully charged and never fully drained-carmakers have greatly extended the longevity of nickel metal hydride batteries.
    The standard warranty on hybrid batteries and other components is between 80,000 and 100,000 miles…The U.S. Department of Energy stopped its tests of hybrid batteries-when the capacity remained almost like new-after 160,000 miles…There's little to no accurate information about the cost for replacing a hybrid battery, because it hasn't been a requirement…

    3. Hybrids are a new phenomenon.
    In 1900, American car companies produced steam, electric, and gasoline cars in almost equal numbers…In 1905 an American engineer named H. Piper filed the first patent for a gas-electric hybrid vehicle…The following 80 years, characterized by cheap oil, created little incentive for auto engineers to play with alternatives….Research and experimentation by governments and car companies in the 1980s and 1990s led to the reemergence of hybrids in the U.S. in 2000.
    4. People buy hybrids only to save money on gas.
    …Going farther on a gallon of gas-and thus reducing a car owner's tab at the pumps-is a logical advantage of a hybrid car. But car shoppers seldom buy based purely on a logical economic equation…[W]hy are more and more shoppers going hybrid? Many reasons: To minimize their impact on the environment, to help reduce the world's addiction to oil, and to earn technology bragging rights…
    5. Hybrids are expensive.
    At the beginning of 2006, hybrids were available in 10 different models ranging in price from $19,000 to $53,000. The most efficient models-the Insight, Civic, and Prius-are available well below $30,000…Rechargeable batteries, electric motors, and sophisticated computer controls do add to the cost of producing a hybrid car. However, as production numbers increase, economies of scale are expected to reduce those costs…In the meantime, the hybrid premium-usually estimated at $3,000-is mitigated by federal and state tax incentives, lower maintenance costs, and extraordinarily strong resale values… 6. Hybrids are small and underpowered.

    The Honda Accord hybrid is the fastest family sedan on the market. The Lexus Rx400h and Toyota Highlander Hybrid share the same 270 horsepower system. The Lexus GS 450h hybrid sedan exceeds 300 horsepower with 0-to-60 performance below six seconds. And the Toyota Volta concept is a 408-horsepower scream machine…General Motors' two-mode hybrid system, rolling out later this year in the Chevy Tahoe, is designed specifically to give drivers of full-size SUVs a V8 highway cruising experience and towing power-without draining the gas tank.

    7. Only liberals buy hybrids.
    … Americans of all political stripes have become more aware of the economic and political costs of oil dependency…petrodollars end up in the hands of repressive Middle East regimes…we fund both sides of the war on terror…autoworkers have grown more interested in fuel-saving technologies…Conserving fuel is now being championed as a way to tackle national security, jobs, and climate change, all at the same time…

    8. Hybrids pose a threat to first responders.
    …Knowing a few basic things about hybrids-the location and construction of battery compartments, the color (orange) used to designate high voltage cables, and the location of fuses that will isolate the electrical system-is enough to help first responders save lives and remain safe in the process…
    9. Hybrids will solve all our transportation, energy, and environmental problems.
    …The 200,000 hybrid car sales in 2005 represent 1.2% of the 17 million new cars sold last year…We could reach the major milestone of 1 million hybrid cars on American roads sometime in 2007 or 2008…there are approximately 200 million cars in America today-and over 700 million vehicles worldwide. If car numbers keep increasing at the present rate, there will be more than a billion cars and trucks on the road across the world in 20 years…Hybrid cars can only be viewed as a partial solution.

    10. Hybrid technology is only a fad.
    Hybrid technology is often pitted against fuel cells, diesel engines, and/or hydrogen as the silver bullet approach to sustainable mobility…on Dec. 1, 2005, the International Energy Agency (IEA) concluded that even under the most favorable conditions, hydrogen vehicles would represent 30% of the global fleet by 2050…The debate over the future of automotive technology has now turned toward finding the best ways to combine systems and fuels in a single hybrid vehicle…

    SIMPLE THINGS MATTER

    Efficiency efforts could sharply cut growth in energy consumption, study says
    Steve Lohr, November 29, 2006 (NYTimes via International Herald Tribune)

    - Growth in energy consumption worldwide could be cut by more than two-thirds over the next 15 years through more aggressive energy- efficiency efforts by households and industry, according to a study released Wednesday by the McKinsey Global Institute…energy savings could be achieved with current technology and would save money for consumers and companies…suggested steps [include] the use of compact fluorescent light bulbs and solar water heaters, improved insulation on new buildings, reduced standby power requirements, and an accelerated push for appliance-efficiency standards.
    - Those moves, among others, could reduce the yearly growth rate of energy demand through 2020 to 0.6 percent from a forecast annual rate of 2.2 percent…

    - To take advantage of energy-saving opportunities, some product standards would have to be tightened and some policy incentives changed. Current regulations and fuel subsidies, for example, often favor consumption over efficiency. But many potential steps are not taken, the report says, because energy users lack information or do not value efficiency enough to change their buying habits…
    - That is especially the case…if an energy-thrifty product has a slightly higher purchase price and the financial payoff for users takes a while. That helps explain the slow progress made by compact fluorescent light bulbs in the marketplace…the light spectrum has been corrected and compact fluorescents are only slightly more costly than conventional bulbs, yet they last 10 times as long and consume 75 percent less electricity. The overall financial advantage of using compact fluorescent bulbs is obvious and sizable, even if the initial purchase price is higher…

    - Such shifts might go more quickly if electric utilities were encouraged to promote efficiency. Rate regulators see that utilities are compensated for producing energy, but rarely for conserving it. A few U.S. states, notably California, allow electric companies to pass through the costs of energy-saving programs, but they are the exceptions…

    A BANGOR OF A CHRISTMAS TREE

    Bangor Christmas Tree More Energy Efficient This Year
    Rhonda Erskine, November 29, 2006 (WLBZ2.com)

    - Bangor's official christmas tree will be burning more efficiently this year...city workers hung new energy efficient lights on the tree in West Market Square.
    - Bangor is one of 11 cities that received free lights from Efficiency Maine. The LED lights use 99% less electricity than typical lights. They're also very durable and never burn out.
    - Efficiency Maine estimates the cities will save a combined $10,000 in energy costs...

    Wednesday, November 29, 2006

    GREENPEACE TO FIGHT GOOD FIGHT

    Greenpeace Wins Right to Challenge U.K. Energy Review in Court
    Lars Paulsson, November 23, 2006 (Bloomberg)
    - Greenpeace, an environmental action group, won the right to challenge the U.K. government's energy review, which promotes the building of nuclear plants…

    - Prime Minister Tony Blair's government said in an energy review in July that Britain needs more nuclear plants and renewable energy to secure power supplies and combat greenhouse gas emissions. European utilities including Electricite de France SA, E.ON AG and British Energy Plc have expressed interest in building reactors in the region's third-largest power market.
    - Greenpeace challenged the review as ``legally flawed'' in an application to the High Court of Justice in October. The U.K. review group did not conduct a full public consultation before publishing the 216-page document on the country's energy future, Greenpeace said…
    - Court documents show that an application by Greenpeace Ltd. for a judicial review of a secretary of state for Trade and Industry decision was granted yesterday by Justice Sullivan. The hearing is expected to take place between Feb. 7 and Feb. 9, according to the court documents…
    - The review failed because it didn't address issues such as radioactive waste, financial costs and the design of reactors, Greenpeace said…

    STATES RIGHTS TO NEW ENERGY

    Another states' rights issue:
    Growing number of states requiring alternative energy
    Tom Kenworthy, November 23, 2006 (USA Today)

    - Renewable energy is gathering steam in several states as voters and governors push electric utilities to generate a set percentage of electricity from clean sources such as wind and solar power.
    - In Washington state, voters approved a measure Nov. 7 mandating that 15% of electrical power come from renewable sources by 2020.
    - That makes 20 states and the District of Columbia with such requirements…Two others states — Illinois and Vermont — have non-binding goals…
    - More states are forcing utilities toward wind, solar and other renewable energy sources, such as geothermal and biomass, to cut the use of coal and natural gas and spur greater U.S. energy independence…
    - Opponents, including some utilities and industries, say the switch will be costly for consumers and businesses…

    - California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law in September that accelerates the timetable for 20% of electricity to come from solar, wind and other clean power sources. The compliance date is now 2010…New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson proposed last month that the state increase its current requirement that 10% of electricity come from renewable sources by 2011. He wants utilities to produce 15% of their power from renewable sources by 2015 and 25% by 2020…Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski is developing a legislative package calling for 25% of electrical power from renewable energy by 2025…Colorado, Gov.-elect Bill Ritter made renewable energy a centerpiece of his campaign…Colorado voters in 2004 approved a referendum requiring that the state draw 10% of its electricity from renewable sources…

    - Progress in the states could spur Congress to enact a federal standard, predicts Anna Aurelio, director of the Washington office of U.S. PIRG, a national environmental group. The Senate in 2005 approved a 10% mandate that failed in the House, and Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., incoming chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has said he will try again…

    COAL CONTROVERSY

    Involved consumers? Fighting for conservation? Can this be Kansas, Toto?

    Plan for coal-fired energy plants fires up opposition
    Beverly Corbell, November 27, 2006 (The Daily Sentinel)

    - Resistance is growing over a multistate energy supplier’s plans to build three new coal-fired power plants…Tri-State Generation and Transmission’s plans for the new plants should at least be scaled back, Dan McClendon, general manager of the Delta-Montrose Electric Association, said…
    - Electric rates for homes will go up about 12 percent for association customers in Delta and Montrose counties in 2007 and could go up 30 percent over the next four years, McClendon said, all because of the power plants…
    - Energy conservation is the best way to bring energy costs down, coupled with using renewable resources and allowing more local energy production, whether it’s hydro or biomass, McClendon said…
    - Tri-State is planning to build two large plants in Kansas and a third in southeast Colorado at a total cost of $5 billion…But the board believes the plants could be delayed or shelved altogether through and “aggressive pursuit” of energy conservation…the electric association is also the first electric co-op in the state to adopt the nationwide 25x25 Initiative…25 percent of all energy to come from renewable sources by the year 2025…
    - To get that word out, association customers received a 12-page newsletter last week defining the rate increase and the local co-op’s opposition to relying on more coal-fired plants…“The key to minimizing the number of new, more expensive coal-fired power plants is energy efficiency, demand-side management, demand-response programs and other ways to optimize the plants already in service…If the need for one additional coal-fired plant can be deferred or eliminated through such efforts, all ratepayers will benefit.”

    - The newsletter points out that for many years natural gas was the “fuel of choice” for energy, but when gas prices shot up, utility companies all over the world turned more and more to coal…
    - Coal-fired plants are not only the bane of people who worry about global warming, they also cost too much, according to the association, and are one of the most expensive ways to produce energy…Tri-State uses coal for 68 percent of its energy generation, and the high cost of transporting it also hikes consumer prices…
    - Another factor is the cost of reducing [acid rain, suspended particulates, mercury and other emissions] from coal-fired plants…
    - Not included in the current cost of coal energy is a tax on carbon emissions that’s being proposed in the United States and other countries…
    - Because Tri-State and the association are member-owned…the best thing members can do to avoid the higher cost of coal energy is conserve energy and show Tri-State that it works…

    LNG: A GOOD INVESTMENT?

    Merrill Lynch to invest in liquid natural gas plant
    Angela MacDonald-Smith, November 21, 2006 (Bloomberg News via International Herald Tribune)
    - Merrill Lynch, the world's largest brokerage firm, plans to invest in liquefied natural gas production plants as the United States and Europe import more of the fuel…

    - Merrill Lynch is considering investing in plants in countries like Papua New Guinea…The company earlier this year bought capacity at a Sempra Energy liquefied natural gas import terminal being built in Louisiana, owns capacity at a British terminal and is studying another liquefied natural gas port in Europe.
    - Merrill Lynch is among investors positioning themselves for increased trading in liquefied natural gas, or LNG…Sempra, Exxon Mobil and other companies are building enough terminal capacity to double imports into the United States, where domestic production has failed to keep pace with demand…
    - Merrill Lynch handles about 5 percent of all physical natural gas volumes traded in the United States, about 7 percent of financial volumes and controls about 8 percent of U.S. storage…

    - Liquefied natural gas is natural gas that has been chilled to liquid form, reducing it to one-six-hundredth of its original volume, for transportation by ship to destinations not connected by pipeline. On arrival, it is turned back into gas for distribution to power plants, factories and households.
    - Merrill wants to build its liquefied natural gas business to take advantage in trading of price differences between natural gas and oil, and between liquefied natural gas markets in the Atlantic and the Pacific regions…Financing for Merrill's Papua New Guinea project is scheduled to be in place by the third quarter of 2008, with the first deliveries scheduled for the second half of 2011…Merrill Lynch in March signed a 15- year agreement to import as much as 500 million cubic feet, or 14 million cubic meters, of gas a day at the liquefied natural gas terminal near Lake Charles…

    OIL COMPANIES EMERGE FROM STONE AGE

    This follows California Governor Schwartzenegger’s remark on last Sunday’s Meet The Press that Senator Inhofe, who denies man-made global warming, was stuck in the Stone Age:

    Energy Firms Come to Terms With Climate Change
    Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperin, November 25, 2006 (Washington Post)

    - While the political debate over global warming continues, top executives at many of the nation's largest energy companies have accepted the scientific consensus about climate change and see federal regulation to cut greenhouse gas emissions as inevitable.
    - The Democratic takeover of Congress makes it more likely that the federal government will attempt to regulate emissions. The companies have been hiring new lobbyists who they hope can help fashion a national approach that would avert a patchwork of state plans now in the works. They are also working to change some company practices in anticipation of the regulation…
    - John Hofmeister, president of Shell Oil Co., said…"When 98 percent of scientists agree, who is Shell to say, 'Let's debate the science'?"
    - Hofmeister and other top energy company leaders, such as Duke Energy Corp.'s chief executive, James E. Rogers, back a proposal that would cap greenhouse gas emissions and allow firms to trade their quotas.
    - Paul M. Anderson, Duke Energy's chairman and a member of the president's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, favors a tax on emissions of carbon dioxide, the most prevalent greenhouse gas…
    - Exxon Mobil Corp., the highest-profile corporate skeptic about global warming, said in September that it was considering ending its funding of a think tank that has sought to cast doubts on climate change. And on Nov. 2, the company announced that it will contribute more than $1.25 million to a European Union study on how to store carbon dioxide in natural gas fields in the Norwegian North Sea, Algeria and Germany…
    - Sen. Barbara Boxer (Calif.), who calls global warming "the greatest challenge of our generation," will take the place of Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) as chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Inhofe refers to global warming as a "hoax."

    - Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), the incoming Energy and Natural Resources Committee chairman, said he hopes to "do something on global warming." Even though the Bush administration's expected opposition might make the enactment of legislation unlikely in the next two years, many companies cannot put off decisions about what sort of power plants to build…
    - One reason companies are turning to Congress is to avert the multiplicity of regulations being drafted by various state governments…The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a group of seven Northeastern states, is moving ahead…California is drawing up its program…"We cannot deal with 50 different policies," said Shell's Hofmeister. "We need a national approach to greenhouse gases."
    - …Though many energy firms had already voiced support in recent months for federal regulations limiting greenhouse gas emissions, the coming changeover in Congress has intensified the discussions…

    FROM OIL TO ENERGY MANAGEMENT

    Looking around in the new age, it says:
    Shell wants to manage energy needs of Asia
    Suraj Raj, November 23, 2006 (Malaysian Star)

    - Shell Global Solutions aims to position itself as the preferred partner for businesses in Asia to manage and develop their energy needs…
    - Shell Global Solutions provides business and operational consultancy, technical and research and development expertise to the energy and processing industries worldwide.
    - Its solutions are targeted at a diverse range of applications including exploration and production, refining, gas and liquefied natural gas as well as industries such as chemicals, metals, pulp and paper, power, mining and automotive…looking to improve the energy consumption, efficiency and reliability of their plants…
    - Shell Global Solutions has more than 4,900 employees worldwide and 11 hubs in cities, including Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Beijing and Dubai.

    Tuesday, November 28, 2006

    HERMANCE, TOYOTA'S HYBRID GUY, DEAD IN PLANE CRASH

    He died like he lived, at the cutting edge of transportation:

    Plane crash kills "Mr Hybrid", pioneering US car engineer
    November 27, 2006 (AFP via Yahoo News)
    - An engineer who played a leading role in introducing hybrid technologies to the US auto market was killed in a plane crash at the weekend...

    - David Hermance, 59, died when the single-seat experimental plane he was piloting crashed into the ocean off San Pedro in southern California on Saturday after performing several loops and spins...
    - [T]he married father-of-two was an executive engineer for advanced technology vehicles at Toyota's technical center in the Los Angeles area.
    - He had a major role in introducing America to such cars as the Prius, which runs on a combination of gasoline and batteries...
    - "He was the American father of the Prius," [ a colleague said]...
    - American environmental groups also paid tribute to Hermance, who they said helped translate the complex language of hybrid engineering technology into something that regulators and legislators could understand...

    - "...Mr. Hybrid, the American face of the hybrid," [another said]...
    - Hermance was an experienced pilot who loved his plane, classified as an experimental craft, either assembled by amateurs or from a kit. An investigation into the crash is underway.

    I never read an authoritative story about hybrid technology that didn't quote him.

    LISTENING FOR THE SUPREMES

    Not often nine people's decision impacts the fate of the earth. Next time you hear somebody say "it doesn't matter who gets elected President, they're both no good bums," remind them of this:

    High court to weigh climate change case

    H. Josef Hebert, November 26, 2006 (AP via Yahoo News)
    - The Supreme Court hears arguments this week in a case that could determine whether the Bush administration must change course in how it deals with the threat of global warming.
    - A dozen states as well as environmental groups and large cities are trying to convince the court that the Environmental Protection Agency must regulate, as a matter of public health, the amount of carbon dioxide that comes from vehicles.
    - Carbon dioxide is produced when fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas are burned. It is the principal "greenhouse" gas that many scientists believe is flowing into the atmosphere at an unprecedented rate, leading to a warming of the earth and widespread ecological changes. One way to reduce those emissions is to have cleaner-burning cars.

    - The Bush administration intends to argue before the court on Wednesday that the EPA lacks the power under the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant. The agency contends that even if it did have such authority, it would have discretion under the law on how to address the problem without imposing emissions controls.
    - The states, led by Massachusetts, and more than a dozen environmental groups insist the 1970 law makes clear that carbon dioxide is a pollutant — much like lead and smog-causing chemicals — that is subject to regulation because its poses a threat to public health.
    - A sharply divided federal appeals court ruled in favor of the government in 2005. But last June, the Supreme Court decided to take up the case, plunging for the first time into the politically charged debate over global warming. The ruling next year is expected to be one of the court's most important ever involving the environment…
    - At issue for now is pollution from automobiles. But the ruling indirectly may affect how the agency deals with carbon dioxide that comes from electric power plants…

    - [T]he EPA says the Clean Air Act also prevents it from regulating such emissions from those plants. That claim would be undercut…if the high court rules in the states' favor in the auto emissions case…
    - The [Bush] administration says in court papers the EPA should not be required to "embark on the extraordinarily complex and scientifically uncertain task of addressing the global issue of greenhouse gas emissions" when other ways are available to tackle climate change…
    - Now that Democrats will control the House and Senate in January after their election victories this month, there is expected to be increased pressure in Congress for mandatory limits on carbon emissions…

    - But whether there is such a shift actually may depend, in the end, on the Supreme Court…
    - The case is Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, 05-1120.

    Monday, November 27, 2006

    NISSAN ELECTRIFIES US!

    Having spent the Thanksgiving weekend reading Sherry Boschert's terrific book Plug-in Hybrids: The Cars that Will Recharge America, this news is especially delightful:



    Nissan plans to sell electric cars in 3 yrs –Nikkei

    November 26, 2006 (Reuters)
    - Nissan Motor Co. plans to develop and start selling subcompact electric cars powered by self-developed lithium-ion batteries in about three years, the Nihon Keizai (Nikkei) business daily reported…

    - Japan's number-two automaker also plans to develop and sell gas-electric hybrid cars by 2010 in an attempt to catch up with rivals Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. in the field of eco-friendly vehicles…
    - In co-operation with its French partner Renault SA, Nissan will speed up the expansion of its line-up of diesel cars, that are in growing demand globally…
    - Nissan will also strive to develop bioethanol cars with the help of Renault…the Japanese automaker would provide Renault with fuel cell and hybrid car technologies.

    - Company officials were not immediately available for comment.

    Three cheers for Nissan!

    Friday, November 24, 2006

    CANADIAN WIND

    Canada doubles wind energy output in 2006

    November 22, 2006 (Reuters via Yahoo News)
    - Canada has nearly doubled its wind energy capacity in 2006, adding 657 megawatts, and now has the ability to meet the power needs of 406,000 homes, according to the Canadian Wind Energy Association…
    - Canada now has 1,341 megawatts of installed wind energy, adding that governments across the country want a minimum of 10,000 megawatts installed by 2015…

    U.S. WIND

    AWEA THIRD QUARTER MARKET REPORT: U.S. WIND ENERGY INDUSTRY COMPLETES WORLD’S LARGEST WIND FARM, EXPECTS TO ADD OVER 2,700 MEGAWATTS IN 2006
    New Projects Strengthen Energy Security

    - The U.S. wind energy industry is on track to install a record 2,750 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity in 2006, which will produce about as much electricity as is used by the entire state of Rhode Island and help strengthen energy security, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said…
    - FPL Energy’s 735-MW Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center in Texas, has shattered all previous records for the country’s and world’s largest wind farm. One megawatt of wind power produces enough electricity on a typical day to serve the equivalent of 250-300 homes…
    - America ’s wind farms currently save over half a billion cubic feet of natural gas per day (Bcf/day) and help reduce the supply pressure that is driving up natural gas imports. Greater use of wind power will increase the resiliency of our electricity supply, help stabilize electricity costs, and strengthen America’s energy security…

    - A total of 1,345 MW has been already completed this year, according to AWEA’s quarterly report, bringing total installed wind energy capacity in the U.S. to 10,492 MW, generating enough electricity to serve over 2.5 million homes. Construction is also proceeding on an additional 1,500 MW of wind farms to be completed this year. AWEA had previously estimated that about 3,000 MW would be installed this year, but it is now clear that a few projects originally slated for completion in 2006 will not be finalized until 2007 because of various delays. Wind power is expected in 2006 to provide 18% to 20% of the new capacity installed in the country -- making it the second-largest source of new power generation after new natural gas plants..
    - For 2007, AWEA currently estimates that installations will exceed those of 2006 and range from 3,000 MW to 3,500 MW…

    MORE WIND, SUN IN LA

    Don't forget about the off-grid wind available with ARCHITECTURAL WIND and read more about it here.

    Calif. Cities sign up for alternative energy/Los Angeles area in particular is moving away from dirty coal
    November 22, 2006 (MSNBC)
    - Southern California is gambling its future power needs on its constant sunshine, wind and the ability of engineers to effectively harness those and other alternative energy sources…
    - Pasadena, Anaheim and several other large cities notified the Intermountain Power Agency this week that they would not be renewing their contracts for cheap, coal-fired power.

    - Those contracts expire in 2027. That leaves the cities two decades to secure the alternative energy sources they’ll need, from wind farms to desert solar power…
    - The moves could put the region in the forefront nationally of the commercial use of alternative energy in coming years, but researching and building the infrastructure to replace coal-fired power will be a costly, risky business…
    - The cities’ decision came amid pressure from politicians and environmentalists.
    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation in September imposing a first-in-the-nation emissions cap on utilities, refineries and manufacturing plants, with a goal of cutting greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020. Burning coal releases carbon dioxide, among the biggest of the heat-trapping greenhouse gases.
    - Burbank’s city council initially planned to beat the clock and renew its contract with Intermountain until 2044…but it changed course…Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., wrote to an umbrella group for the cities last week saying she was “shocked and dismayed” by Burbank’s initial decision…

    - Intermountain Power Agency…said the company was looking at ways to modernize its plants to bring them into compliance with California’s new greenhouse-gas legislation…exploring burning biomass such as switchgrass, wheat straw and cornstalks instead of coal, or possible burial of carbon dioxide…
    - Greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere reached a record high in 2005, with the concentration of carbon dioxide alone rising by about 0.5 percent…greenhouse gases are the major drivers behind global warming and climate change.

    SOLUTION FOR INDIA’S WIND

    'No system to absorb wind energy'
    Urmia Goswami, November 23, 2006 (The Economic Times of India)

    - The spurt in crude oil prices has led to a scramble for sustainable energy. Wind and solar energy are the obvious sources that can help reduce the dependence on hydrocarbons.
    - Dr Anil Kane, chairman, Indian Wind Energy Association (InWEA) and president World Wind Energy Association discusses the potential of wind energy…
    - Twenty years ago, the ministry for non-conventional energy sources (MNES) had put India’s potential at 45,000MW. InWEA analysis puts the potential at 100,000MW. This excludes offshore sites.

    - We are nowhere near to exhausting the known potential but the infrastructure to absorb wind energy doesn’t exist…[T]he transmission grid system is saturated in most of states that have favourable wind energy sites…there are obstacles on the financing side…InWea has made a proposal to the government asking it to review its tax incentive structure for the wind energy segment.
    - InWEA has proposed that capital subsidy be linked to the amount of power actually generated through tradable tax rebate/credit certificates…payable when electricity is generated…linked to the amount of electricity generated. This will encourage better and speedy exploitation of wind sites…[and] open the doors for independent power producers, who at present find it difficult to arrange financing for their projects. Tradable tax credit certificates will incentivise performance, create a framework for non-recourse project financing.

    He's been reading Wikipedia again:

    Transmission

    distributed generation

    Thursday, November 23, 2006

    CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

    Lower cost of light display
    Ken Sheinkopf, November 11, 2006 (McClatchy Newspapers via The Arizona Republic)
    - Testing conducted at the Florida Solar Energy Center a few years ago confirms that even small loads can add up to a noticeable increase in your electric bill…

    - The research on the lighting energy use in 185 homes before and after the holiday season found an average increase in lighting cost, when holiday lights were being used at about 4.4 kilowatt-hours per day, of around $13 for a monthlong display…this was for the average home, and we've all seen homes that clearly go above and beyond the average…

    - [B]y bulb type…34 watts being used by 100 of the clear indoor/outdoor minibulbs to more than 504 watts used by the large, colored 10-watt outdoor bulbs…findings strongly suggest that you consider energy-efficient lighting…Check out some of the newer bulbs…you'll find a number of brands featuring LED or other higher-efficiency types…why not consider getting LED, which use one-tenth of the energy of the conventional ones?

    CHRISTMAS BANNERS

    Christmas banners saving energy
    November 21, 2006 (BBC News)

    - Christmas banners are being introduced by a council in Kent to try to reduce energy consumption from light displays.
    - The decorations, with messages such as "Season's Greetings", have been hung up in Gravesend town centre…being "green and festive" at the same time..,
    - [T]here was "no bah humbug in Gravesham" as there are still some low-energy illuminations over streets and lights on Christmas trees…
    - The Gravesham branch of Friends of the Earth encouraged people in Gravesend to see [the banners] as "a positive step"…[A council spokesman] said he would see how much energy had been saved, and what the public response was, before deciding if the use of Christmas lights could be further reduced in the future.

    CHRISTMAS BAGS

    Make it a greener Christmas this year, use only reusable cloth gift bags
    Rjiv Badlani, November 21, 2006 (American Chronicle)

    - It seems Americans will use $ 5 billion worth of gift wrapping at Christmas time.
    That translates into an extra million tons of trash a week for this one season…More than half of Americans say their lifestyles produce too much waste and that more recycling, energy, and water conservation – and less packaging – are needed…
    - [A] rising number of people say they would pay more for products that cause less pollution, a Roper poll found…
    - “People are more anxious to feel part of the solution, not part of the problem,” says Lawrence Comras, president of a 5-year-old ecogift company…At Badlani Bags we custom make reusable gift bags, wine bags, shopping bags and all kinds of bags.

    WHAT ABOUT WASTE?

    Energy from farm waste conference
    November 21, 2006 (BBC News)

    - A conference is being held to boost the use of farm and food waste to help meet East Anglia's future energy needs…taking place next month, has been organised by energy organisation Renewables East and National Farmers' Union (NFU) in East Anglia.
    It will examine the potential for organic wastes, food processing and vegetable waste to be used to help generate electricity.
    - The event is aimed at farmers, waste companies, developers and councils…

    Wednesday, November 22, 2006

    NEW OIL?

    Can this be right? Predictions like this, common throughout oil history, rarely are. But if this is true, it will change the face of contemporary energy. Reserves twice as big as Saudi Arabia's?

    Billions of barrels in Bakken recovery seen
    Alan Petzet, November 17, 2006 (Oil and Gas Journal)
    - The Bakken formation play in the Williston basin is writing a new chapter in the oil reserves history of the US onshore Lower 48…
    - The play is spearheading production and reserves increases in Montana and North Dakota and prompting reevaluation of earlier resource assessments…
    - A 2006 estimate by the US Geological Survey put the technically recoverable resource for the entire Bakken formation at 271-503 billion bbl in place, with a mean of 413 billion bbl…
    - [T]he most recent estimate of the technically recoverable crude oil resource of the entire US is 174.67 billion bbl, excluding the Bakken. US proved reserves at Dec. 31, 2005, were 21.757 billion bbl…
    - Elm Coulee field, in Richland County, Montana, is at 529 sq miles the largest discovered field in the Middle Bakken formation…[with] estimated oil in place at 5 million bbl/sq mile…

    - The continuous nature of the Bakken formation means its hydrocarbons, deposited during the Upper Devonian and Lower Mississippian periods, have not accumulated into discreet reservoirs of limited areal extent, but the Bakken remains to be penetrated across a considerable portion of the basin…
    - The Bakken play started after operators analyzed geologic data on a decades-old producing area, identified an untapped resource, and applied horizontal drilling and fracturing technology to exploit it…Elm Coulee field, discovered in 2000, produced 15 million bbl of oil (41,000 b/d) in 2005 and is yielding nearly 50,000 b/d…
    - Current drilling is focused on the middle member of the Bakken, which is more porous and permeable than the overlying and underlying Bakken shales. The Bakken is at 11,000 ft in the basin depocenter in southwestern North Dakota and 3,100 ft in Manitoba and Saskatchewan…massive low-permeability carbonates above and below the Bakken acted as seals. The increased temperatures and pressures that accompanied subsidence thermally converted the kerogen content of the shales into oil…
    - Proved reserves at the end of 2005 were 427 million bbl in Montana…Proved reserves at the end of 2005 were 418 million bbl in North Dakota…
    - Frac pumps need to overcome overburden stress and bottomhole reservoir fluid pressure, and fracture closing stresses can be greater than 8,000 psi, enough to crush normal sand proppant. Stronger proppants are more expensive.

    - Steps are being taken to alleviate transportation bottlenecks created by burgeoning Bakken production and reserves…
    - The Williston basin's existing pipeline system also transports Canadian tar sands oil and is full, and some operators have shut in wells and postponed drilling…

    Territory ripe for a boom. Watch it.

    OLD COAL NEW AGAIN?

    A Future With Coal?
    Zach Fross, November 22, 2006 (explosivespeculations.com via 321energy.com)

    - Over the last five years, coal consumption has been growing with continuing momentum…fueled by the world’s thirst for energy along with increased demand for such things like steel (due to the higher demand for infrastructure). What this means for a long-term investor is that the companies that are dealing with coal probably aren’t going away anytime soon and will continue to grow…
    - The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates in its World Energy Outlook that 1.6 billion people are still without electricity…these developing countries are expected to increase their share of the world’s energy consumption from about 30% in 2000 to around 43% by 2030…the most feasible option is coal. Not only is there an existing infrastructure in these developing countries, but also the price of coal is stable and coal is relatively abundant…
    - Just taking a look at the United States’ coal power situation, much of the country’s electricity is produced from 50-60 year old power plants. These facilities will soon have to be replaced and the country is taking a hard look in coal’s direction…

    - Global warming and health concerns are…are causing clean coal technologies to become a realistic opportunity. The National Energy Act of 2005 describes the government giving money and tax breaks…[including] the U.S.’ sponsored project FutureGen, the world’s first facility that will combine Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) electricity production and the capture of CO2 for geological sequestration…
    - Let’s not forget about SynFuel and the Fischer-Tropsch process. The U.S. is also awarding $1.3 Billion towards the research and production of alternative fuels; the most promising of which are the synthetic fuels made from coal and natural gas…
    - If you are sitting there thinking that the price of oil will keep going down…think again. Global oil demand is still on the rise and production is struggling to keep up. The current decrease in price is simply a price adjustment period that will quickly subside. This along with coal’s long-term stability, continual growth, and speculative aspect, makes investing in coal even more seductive.

    CLEAN COAL?

    Clean coal is the name attributed to coal chemically washed of minerals and impurities, sometimes gasified, burned and the resulting flue gases treated with steam, with the purpose of almost completely eradicating sulphur dioxide and reburned so as to make the carbon dioxide in the flue gas economically recoverable. The carbon dioxide can then be captured and stored instead of being released into the atmosphere…

    - The byproducts of clean coal are very hazardous to the environment if not properly contained. This is seen to be the technology's largest challenge…
    - While it is possible to remove most of the sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate (PM) emissions from the coal burning process, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will be more difficult to address. Technology does exist to capture and store CO2 but they have not been made available on a large-scale commercial basis due to high economic costs…

    - The primary example of clean coal is the proposed US FutureGen plant — a zero-emissions coal-fired power plant…
    - [S]ome process similar to the natural gas fuel cell or microbial fuel cell (charged from biomass or sewage) may be practical using coal as fuel. Those technologies are used mostly for stationary fuel cells as charging is slow. A large power plant in a coal mine might be the most energy efficient approach and require the least transport of coal…
    - [T]he return of the coal chute and use in homes may be possible in some places, especially if home sewage or natural gas lines can be tapped as well by an improved fuel reformer technology such as that used already to convert methanol…
    - Clean Coal has been mentioned by United States President George W. Bush on several occasions…Bush's position is that clean coal technologies should be encouraged…Senator Hillary Clinton has also recently said that "we should strive to have new electricity generation come from other sources, such as clean coal and renewables."
    - [T]he White House has only granted $18 million (USD) to develop zero-emission coal-fired power plants over the next decade out of a $388 billion omnibus spending bill…In addition, some prominent environmentalists…believe that the term clean coal is misleading…Complaints focus on the the environmental impacts of coal extraction, the prohibitively high costs to sequester carbon, and uncertain of how to store end result pollutants...

    Also, see the post on FutureGen below.

    *