NewEnergyNews: TURBINES SPOIL THE VIEW?

NewEnergyNews

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

The People's Climate March is Sunday in Manhattan.

The challenge: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-CHINA, INDIA, RUSSIA LEADERS TO SKIP UN CLIMATE SUMMIT
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-WORLD’S OFFSHORE WIND TO HIT 40 GW BY 2020
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-SOLAR IS THE SOLUTION FOR SOUTH ASIA
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-PARIS DIGS GEOTHERMAL
  • THE DAY BEFORE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, Sept. 18:

  • TTTA Thursday-THE WORLD HAS 15 YEARS TO DO THE RIGHT THINGS
  • TTTA Thursday-WIND MAKES THE GRID MORE RELIABLE
  • TTTA Thursday-SOLAR OIL DRILLING
  • TTTA Thursday-A SPORTS CAR THAT RUNS ON SALT-WATER
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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

  • THE STUDY: THE GREEN TRANSITION – MONEY KEEPS COMING TO NEW ENERGY
  • QUICK NEWS, Sept. 17: THE NEWEST NUMBERS ON BIRDS AND WIND; BIG SOLAR COMES TO THE SOUTHEAST; WHERE THE EV CUTS EMISSIONS MOST
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: THE BENEFITS OF PUMPED HYDRO STORAGE CALCULATED
  • QUICK NEWS, Sept. 16: THE ENERGY TRANSITION TAKES SHAPE; A LABOR-ENVIRO CALL FOR NEW ENERGY, NEW WIRES; ADVANCES IN WATER POWER
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: RENEWABLES IN THE COMING ARAB WORLD
  • QUICK NEWS, Sept. 15: SOLAR SUCCEEDING ON PRICE; EVEN MORE WIND THAT HONDA EXPECTED; THE HUGE UNRECOGNIZED BENEFITS OF EFFICIENCY
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • Weekend Video: Climate Change For The Birds
  • Weekend Video: The Evidence Mounts
  • Weekend Video: Colbert On Birds And Climate Change
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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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  • ---------------
  • Monday, November 26, 2007

    TURBINES SPOIL THE VIEW?

    Those who oppose wind installations on aesthetic grounds must simply not know what strip mining and mountaintop removal mining for coal look like. They must not know what sludge-filled water below the mines looks like. They must not know what the brown haze over an urban landscape looks like, let alone what it does to the lungs of those living there.

    The bottom line: We need electricity. We all depend on it being there when we flip the switch. But as Mr. Tsipouridis of the Hellenic Wind Energy Association says below, “We’re living in the most polluted era of humanity…it’s sheer hypocrisy to spend so much time talking about wind turbines’ noise and aesthetics.”

    Fears about the noise from wind turbines are outdated. A
    University Of Massachusetts, Amherst, study thoroughly established their safety when properly sited. It has been legally proven that a normal conversation can be held at the base of a big turbine. Most other fears are either equally groundless or would be prevented by careful siting.

    Debating the Merits of Energy From Air
    Joanna Kakissis, November 24, 2007 (NY Times)

    WHO
    Angeliki Synodinou, Mayor, the Greek island of Serifos; Lisa Linowes, executive director, Industrial Wind Action Group; Alistair Danter, wind energy supporter, Isle of Skye;

    Perhaps those who find such elegant additions to the already developed landscape on Panachaiko Mountain overlooking the Gulf of Corinth near the city of Patras objectionable...

    WHAT
    Localities from New Hampshire to the Greek islands are opposing wind turbine installations for aesthetic reasons. There are also irrational, uninformed and unsubstantiated fears of noise and other dangers.

    WHEN
    The spread of wind installations into European localities is driven by the EU goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions 20% by 2020.

    ...prefer this West Virginia mountaintop removal coal mine...

    WHERE
    The Greek island of Serifos, rural New Hampshire, the rural northeastern English county of Northumberland, Britain’s Isle of Skye, western Scotland

    WHY
    - The objection in the Greek islands is that the installation would destroy tourism by destroying the islands’ ambience. Greece has much less wind energy than most of the rest of Europe and gets 17% of its income from tourism. Greece gets much of its electricity from the dirtiest of coals and some see it losing tourism due to smog.
    - Spain obtains 12% of its electricity from wind and has suffered no noticeable loss of tourism.
    - The objection in Northumberland is that the turbines would especially ruin the view by contrasting harmfully with local castles and might, as well, do harm to historic sites when being installed. Rigorous siting procedures carefully protect against this. The 89-mile Kintyre Way hiking trail in western Scotland has a 9-turbine wind farm and views of others but remains popular.
    - People in tourism on Britain’s Isle of Skye welcome the installations and say they don’t intrude.

    ...or this sludge-filled pond. Tourists need electricity, too.

    QUOTES
    - Mayor Synodinou: “No one would come here…Our island would be destroyed.”
    - Linowes, Industrial Wind Action Group, on opposition to turbines: “These are not just one or two turbines spinning majestically in the blue sky and billowing clouds…”
    - Catalina Robledo, analyst, Emerging Energy Research: “…people are afraid that there will be these humongous wind parks that will block the sunset…”
    - John Ferguson, Save Our Unspoilt Landscape (S.O.U.L.), Northumberland: “The eyes are constantly drawn to them…”
    - Danter, tourism business, Isle of Skye: “There’s still a feeling that the west coast of Scotland offers something authentic and real…and people don’t want to lose that.”
    - Jason Ormiston, CEO, Scottish Renewables: “Wind parks can be elegant and inviting…”
    - Nikos Charalambidis, director, Greenpeace Greece: “If the climate gets worse here, tourists will vanish and not come back…”
    - Tsipouridis, Hellenic Wind Energy Association: “We’re living in the most polluted era of humanity…it’s sheer hypocrisy to spend so much time talking about wind turbines’ noise and aesthetics.”

    1 Comments:

    At 5:44 PM, Anonymous off gridder said...

    Some areas of the world have a natural beauty, devoid of large scale industrial structures such as wind turbines. Before choosing to build in such areas we should use all means to minimise consumption, as it is always much cheaper to save a unit of electricity than to generate it.
    Also don't make the common mistake of comparing intermittent, renewable generation with continuous "baseline" generation which all grid systems have to rely on. Any intermittent generation on a grid voltage scale cannot replace baseline generation, usually from steam turines. Wind turbines generally are low efficiency eg
    24% in some of the windiest areas of Europe. That is producing electricity for only 2.4 hours out of each ten on average. Only the huge subsidies paid to developers and the above-market prices paid for their output make them commercially attractive. A fraction of their budget, if spent on conservation of energy, would yield a much better result in terms of carbon saving. In straight terms, in the UK especially, wind turbines are little more than expensive window dressing to show off this governments supposed green credentials. Somewhere down the line an announcement will be made that the UK has tried wind energy, but it has been found not efficient enough. Whats the bet thats when nuclear power is brought back to the agenda?
    As for our beautiful landscapes littered with dead turbines? Even our own Centre for Alternative Energy in Wales cannot organise removal of their own defunct turbine. A taste of things to come, but on a much larger scale? Try asking the government who pays to remove these towers or dig up 250 cubic metres (per turbine base) of highly alkaline concrete from our hillsides when these generators no longer make economic sense to maintain or rebuild. I have lived off grid for 7 years and can run a house on a fraction of the power that a grid connected house uses. Small scale generation by wind is relatively low cost and discreet if used to power homes locally. Good energy management is fundamental to conservation of resources. The largest wind farms in Europe built on the finest landscapes of one of Europes smaller countries to produce energy that is wasted in so many ways is sheer stupidity.
    Conservation of energy important? Ask the UK government why insulation and energy saving products still attract VAT at the full rate of 17.5% if bought by non VAT registered persons, yet fuel is taxed at 5%. Incentive to use or incentive to save?
    The bottom line is that real money isn't made by saving energy. Real money is generated by multi million pound contracts for wind farms, paid for by levy on each householders electricity bill. When the wind blows, stay indoors, burn some more juice by watching the TV, because the UK countryside wont be worth going outside to look at.

     

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