NewEnergyNews: MACCREADY SOARS AGAIN: CLEAR SKIES, SMOOTH WINDS

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: NEW OPPORTUNITIES IN TRANSMISSION
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 20: ELEVEN GOOD THINGS ABOUT SOLAR ENERGY; YAHOO BUYS WIND; SMART THERMOSTATS’ BILLION DOLLAR FUTURE
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • Weekend Video: The Ocean Speaks Out
  • Weekend Video: Adapting To The Inevitable
  • Weekend Video: The Joy Of Driving EVs Powered By The Sun
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    GET THE DAILY HEADLINES EMAIL: CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR SEND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-HOTTEST SEPTEMBER EVER; WORLD’S HOTTEST MONTHS STREAK AT SIX
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-EU WIND BEATS FOSSIL, NUKE ENERGY PRICES
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-DESERTEC SUCCUMBS TO MIDEAST TURMOIL
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-JAPAN UPS PUSH FOR GEOTHERMAL
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

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

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

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

  • THE STUDY: WORLD WIND COMES ON
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 14: THE UTILITY-SOLAR DEBATE OVER WHO PAYS; TECHNICIANS WANTED – APPLY TO WIND; MAKING MULTIFAMILY BLDGS MORE EFFICIENT
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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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  • ---------------
  • Wednesday, August 29, 2007

    MACCREADY SOARS AGAIN: CLEAR SKIES, SMOOTH WINDS

    Paul MacCready (1925-2007)

    “…the elements so mixed in him that Nature might stand up to all the world and say, ‘This was a man!’ (from Shakespeare’s “Julius Ceasar”)

    The man who showed humans how to fly under their own power now soars in history. He was tactiturn yet funny, quiet yet articulate, gentle yet stronger than steel, reasonable yet firm of opinion, unconventional yet profoundly practical.

    Human-powered flight had long been considered theoretically possible. But nobody could figure out HOW. Paul did it. With one word: EFFICIENT.

    Paul MacCready, Jr., 1925 - 2007. (click to enlarge)

    There is no doubt that Nature would stand up for Paul. He stood up for Nature. He loved the heights, be it soaring or hiking the San Gabriel Mountains above Pasadena. There was never a better champion of New Energy (or a better friend to NewEnergyNews).

    Scrolling through

    this long list of Paul’s accomplishments and awards

    could cause carpal tunnel syndrome. What it comes down to is this: From the time he was a boy winning national acclaim building model airplanes, he got the most by keeping it simple.

    WHO
    Dr. Paul MacCready, Jr., Ph.D., winner of the Kremer Prize for creating the first human-powered flight aircraft, 3-time U.S. National Soaring Champion, the first U.S. World Soaring Champion, founder of AeroVironment

    WHAT
    Paul died August 29, 2007, at his home in Pasadena. He was 81.

    Beside the cockpit of the Gossamer Condor, pointing the way. (click to enlarge)

    WHEN
    - Paul was born September 29, 1925. He married Judy Leonard MacCready on May 18, 1957. They had three sons, Parker, Tyler and Marshall, and two grandchildren.

    Paul and Judy with Parker, Tyler and Marshall. (click to enlarge)

    - On August 22, 1977, Paul’s entirely human-powered “Gossamer Condor” became the first aircraft ever to fly the course and distance required by the Kremer Prize as proof of “human-powered flight.” On June 12, 1979, his “Gossamer Albatross” flew over the English Channel entirely by human power.
    - AeroVironment was founded in the summer of 1971. It remains a leader in flight as well as cutting edge energy and transportation.

    WHERE
    Paul was born in New Haven, Connecticut. After putting in a brief stint training as a U.S. Navy pilot at the end of WWII, he completed his Bachelor’s Degree at Yale and migrated to Pasadena. He earned a Master’s Degree and Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology (CalTech).

    WHY
    - Paul began his professional career with efforts to change the weather. He ended it having changed the world.
    - His first company, started in 1958, was Atmospheric Research Group, a cutting edge venture that made research flights into the core of storms and experimented with cloud-seeding.
    - Though he had long been engaged in soaring and gliding, his work with human-powered flight began seriously in 1976 when a large business debt caused him to notice the large cash award attached to the British Kremer Prize. All he had to do was figure out how to get a heavier-than-air craft off the ground to an elevation of at least 10 feet entirely under human power and fly a figure-eight course of at least a half-mile.
    - While on a family vacation in 1976, he was studying the soaring habits of turkey vultures and explaining it to his sons when he realized the secret to human-powered flight. After consulting with colleagues on these unique insights, he gathered an intrepid crew of stalwart volunteers. The project he had optimistically estimated would take 6 weeks took a year. To do what nobody else ever did.
    - Paul was one of the first to recognize the implications of the 1970s oil and economic changes. His insight made him a pioneer in solar-powered cars and airplanes, electric cars and efficiency. Aerovironment was the company charged with building the ill-fated electric car of the 1990s. Paul drove an electric car as long as he drove.

    Paul and an early solar-powered car. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - “Nobody seemed to be quite as motivated for the new and strange as I was.”

    - “I alternate between pessimism and optimism, and I've found the best pessimism summary comes from the great philosopher, Woody Allen, who said, "Civilization is at a crossroads. One road leads to misery and devastation, the other to total destruction. We must choose wisely." And there is a lot more to that statement than you might think.”

    - Paul on his own life:

    ...I probably had some manifestations that would be called dyslexia now. Not a basket case but, certainly in some things, a short attention span. If I would start reading a paragraph of history, by the time I was to the second sentence my mind would be a thousand miles away. And even in physics classes, I would tend to daydream about other things…

    Paul and an early Gossamer. (click to enlarge)

    ...Having a brain that works a little differently than what best fits the school system, you learn to cope…I did most of my learning during the homework rather than the class period. A lot of dyslexics are very creative people…

    ...I remember a newsreel in, let's say, 1938, when I was 13 years old, that showed a sailplane flying over a slope at El Mirage…It was such a wonderful kind of flying. And I found that it was a wonderful, addicting hobby.

    ...I don't think of myself as especially competitive…If you are in a contest, there is always some motivation towards trying to win, but the real value is just entering in the competition.

    ...The last flight I had in competition, in the 1956 International contest in France that I won, I got in circumstances where whether I survived or didn't just was a flip of the coin. Whether the turbulence went that way, or that way…

    Paul doing something he loved: Sharing his insights. (click to enlarge)

    ...I was doing the scaling laws for all of these different flight devices, natural and artificial, in my mind…And while working on that, I thought back about human-powered flight and realized, why yes, there was a very simple, straightforward way of doing it. Which was merely, you can take any airplane, conceptually, keep the size the same -- I mean, keep the weight the same -- but let the size just get bigger and bigger and bigger in all dimensions, and the power goes down and, conceptually, you can make it big enough so it can get by on the tiny power that a person puts out…The simplest analogy I can think of is Lindbergh's flight across the Atlantic in 1927, which was really a pretty bum airplane. Well tailored for that purpose, but…there was no reason ever to make another one…

    - “The overall goal is a sustainable world. Not consuming nonreplenishable resources, not steadily more dependent on foreign oil, and not causing global climate change.”

    Further reading:
    More With Less: Paul MacCready and the Dream of Efficient Flight

    Gossamer Odyssey: The Triumph of Human-Powered Flight

    1 Comments:

    At 12:44 PM, Blogger Richard said...

    Loved the piece about Maccready. It really gives the reader an insight into this genius who soared as an example to us meanderers. Bravo!

     

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