NewEnergyNews: 06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007

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: THE COST OF ADDING SOLAR TO A UTILITY’S OPERATIONS
  • QUICK NEWS, 7-21: U.S. WIND, SOLAR TO GROW THROUGH 2020; NEW GEOTHERMAL RISING; CHINESE HAVE RIGHTS IN OREGON WIND BUY
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • Weekend Video: Colbert Gets Into Coal Rolling
  • Weekend Video: How Solar Power Plants Store And Use Solar Energy
  • Weekend Video: A Story About People And Wind Energy
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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-THE CLIMATE CHANGED WORLD IS NOW 5 TIMES MORE DANGEROUS
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE MONEY IN SOLAR, Q2 2014
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-EU STILL GROWING OCEAN WIND
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-$109MIL FROM GERMAN BANK BACKS KENYA GEOTHERMAL
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, July 17:

  • TTTA Thursday-THE PREMATURE EVACUATION FROM CLIMATE CHANGE EXCITEMENT
  • TTTA Thursday-NEW ENERGY TO SUSTAIN BIG GROWTH – EIA
  • TTTA Thursday-SOLAR’S COST TO UTILITIES
  • TTTA Thursday-HOW UTILITIES CAN EVOLVE IN A NEW ENERGY WORLD
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: HOW TO PROTECT A CAP AND TRADE PROGRAM
  • QUICK NEWS, July 16: 88% OF NEW U.S. POWER IN MAY WAS NEW ENERGY; THE FIGHT FOR WIND IN OHIO; U.S. CRITICAL SYSTEMS REGULARLY BREACHED
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • THE STUDY: THE COSTS AND BENEFITS OF NET ENERGY METERING FOR DISTRIBUTED RENEWABLES
  • QUICK NEWS, July 15: THE SMART GRID IS COMING; LA UTILITY WANTS A SOLAR FEED-IN TARIFF, NOT NET METERING; FORESEEING A SELF-DRIVING VEHICLE MARKET
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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.

  • ---------------
  • Saturday, June 30, 2007

    BASEBALL AND SUNSHINE—NOTHING BETTER

    Major League Baseball, the sport that led American society across the barriers of racial prejudice, is once again leading the way, this time in the fight to raise awareness of global warming and what has to be done about it. Baseball has always had solar energy. Now its time to spread the sunshine.

    San Francisco Giants and PG&E Cut Ribbon on AT&T Park Solar Installation
    June 29, 2007 (PR Newswire via Yahoo Finance)

    WHO
    The San Francisco Giants, Peter Magowan, president/managing partner; Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), Tom King, CEO; Gavin Newsom, Mayor, City and County of San Francisco.
    A home run.

    WHAT
    The first solar energy system since Willie Mays is now in operation at the home stadium of the San Francisco Giants.

    WHEN
    Will be connected to the grid during the July 10 All-Star Game week-long festivities.

    WHERE
    San Francisco’s AT & T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants

    WHY
    - System: 590 Sharp solar panels, generates 122 kilowatts at peak function. Distributed in 3 areas of the park: Port Walk along McCovey Cove, on the new canopy over the Willie Mays pedestrian ramp, on the Giants Building roof.
    - AT&T Park was designed to be an energy efficient facility: fluorescent lighting, motion sensor lighting and energy management systems. The new Diamond Vision scoreboard uses 78% less energy.
    - PG&E has committed $7.5 million to solar installations in SF, $5 million to projects like AT&T Park that generate power for all customers, pending California Public Utilities Commission approval. The other $2.5 million will go to solar systems for non-profit organizations and schools.
    It's outta here!

    QUOTES
    - Magowan: "The solar installation at AT&T Park is a milestone for all major U.S. sporting venues…Through this partnership, we hope to raise awareness about the importance of using energy wisely and efficiently and about the need to develop and utilize renewable energy sources."
    - Newsom: "Reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and protecting our environment requires bold leadership and vision…We applaud the Giants and PG&E for their commitment to solar energy and for their long-term focus on helping to make San Francisco the greenest city in the nation."
    - King: "The completion of the AT&T Park solar installation reflects our shared vision with the Giants to make San Francisco the greenest city in the nation…PG&E is committed to exploring innovative solutions, like solar, wave and tidal power, to increase the amount of renewable energy that we bring the City and County of San Francisco and all of the communities we serve."

    In a related story, Cleveland's Jacobs field has also installed a smaller system of solar panels to run its TV screens.

    TEACH YOUR CHILDREN WIND

    In the hands of one of the energy beat's best reporters, a profile of education programs becomes a quick peak in the kids' bedroom window at the house of wind energy. (“You gotta get ‘em when they’re young…” Babe Ruth)

    Wind In Schools
    Kristyn Ecochard, June 22, 2007 (UPI)

    WHO
    U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE),
    U.S. schools, student movements (Energy Action Coalition, Campus Climate Challenge),
    Merzhad Tabatabaian, project leader, Renewable Energy Research Technology Center at British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative Green Schools program, Vermont Small-Scale Wind Energy Demonstration Program, Wind for Schools pilot program with DOE and National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), Tom Wind of Wind Utility Consulting, Integrity Wind Power
    contact the American Wind Energy Association (clickablwe link further down in right column) for more info

    WHAT
    Schools are educating students and developing local, renewable energy by installing their own wind energy systems.

    WHEN
    - Programs are mostly recent but Wind for schools goes back to 1993.
    - Strong growth is predicted for the wind industry through 2015.

    WHERE
    - 24 US states, Canada and England, 200 colleges and universities have wind projects of one kind or another.
    - Massachusetts, Vermont, Iowa, Minnesota and Texas have programs to develop small wind for projects schools.
    one of the many programs, this one in Utah

    WHY
    - BCIT is one of the few schools to offer hands-on training in wind energy. About a dozen offer degrees in wind energy.
    - Many programs partner with private business, interest groups or DOE.
    - Often the small demonstration projects don’t pay off economically because the school lacks good wind, high-end electricity rates and net-metering (allowing the meter to turn backwards when the wind is blowing).

    QUOTES
    - Tabatabaian: "We are looking at the areas where research and development are still needed, like ways to enhance output…"
    - Wind: "In a majority of the schools the economics just don't work out…"

    CURBING AIRLINE EMISSIONS

    Yeah, its usually not all that hard to get France to go along with programs like these. But what is the US going to do?

    France supports cap on airlines’ carbon emissions
    June 26, 2007 (AFP via Yahoo News)

    WHO
    French President Nicolas Sarkozy, The European Union (EU)
    competing European airlines' emissions (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Sarkozy affirmed his approval of EU plans to restrict airline greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as long as the restrictions applied to any country’s planes flying in and out of destinations served by the European airlines required by the EU to comply.

    WHEN
    - The EU proposes to begin requiring reduced airline emissions in 2011.
    - Sarkozy was elected 6 weeks ago.

    WHERE
    The Sarkozy statement came at the initiation of a new section of Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport for the new Airbus A380 superjumbo.

    WHY
    - Airline emissions account for 3% of the worldwide total, a disproportionate large footprint, and have increased 87% since 1990, especially with the spread of low-fare lines and flights.
    - Sarkozy pointed out such emissions caps would be a step toward combating climate change. He observed the airlines must pay for the harm done by the fossil fuels they burned.
    - The EU caps would force the airlines to buy credits from other industries or countries.
    - The US leads the opposition to the EU plan, claiming it violates trade laws by imposing restrictions on foreign businesses.
    an indicative UK study showing that while all other domestic emissions (yellow) are expected to be controlled, airline emissions (maroon) will likely become a bigger part of the problem (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    Sarkozy: "I am in favor of applying quotas for CO2 emissions to air transport…We are obviously not going to apply this only to European companies: On a given destination, all airlines must be concerned or none…The unprecedented development of air transport ... has contributed to the unity of Europe, to exchanges and contacts between cultures…"

    THE STORAGE PART OF CCS

    The problem is that carbon-capture-and-sequestration (CCS) adds to the expense of using coal. Expectations that it might pay for itself by enhancing oil field recovery or pushing up coal bed methane may or may not pay off. Which is why research like this is welcome.

    In a related story to be covered here next week, major oil companies have cancelled plans for CO2 sesquestration/enhanced recovery projects, raising more questions about the dream-technology's viability.

    Feds: Storing Carbon Dioxide Underground Can Work
    Andrea Thompson, June 26, 2007 (LiveScience via Yahoo News)

    WHO
    Researchers, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL)
    one version of sequestration (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Research into sequestration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in coal bed seams and oil wells, the “storage” part of the phrase commonly used to define the processing of “clean” coal, “carbon capture and storage.”

    WHEN
    Field projects testing the “geologic” sequestration of GHG emissions are ongoing asare these controlled environment studies.

    WHERE
    NETL has offices in Pittsburgh, PA, Tulsa, OK, Albany, OR, Morgantown, WV, and Fairbanks, AK. The geologic sequestration project seems to be out of the Pittsburgh office.

    WHY
    - Geologic sequestration of GHG emissions like CO2 in coal beds would release coal bed methane for use as a fuel. Pumping the GHGs into oil wells would enhance the well’s production. Both coal beds and oil wells are hypothesized to be safe sequestration sites.
    - NETL researchers have constructed a controlled environment mimicking pressures, temperatures and other factors of geologic sequestration to better evaluate the idea. Another recent study found sequestration effective but observed that toxic metals released in the process could contaminate ground water.
    - World geologic sequestration capacity, if possible ground water contamination does not eliminate potential sites (A BIG IF), is estimated at 3 trillion tons.
    and another (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    Reserchers: “Changes in water chemistry and the potential for mobilizing toxic trace elements from coal beds are potentially important factors to be considered when evaluating deep, unmineable coal seams for CO2 sequestration, though it is also possible that, considering the depth of the injection, that such effects might be harmless…”

    Friday, June 29, 2007

    NATURAL GAS PRICE-FIXING SCANDAL COST BUSINESS BILLIONS!

    This is a BIG story about corruption and price-fixing. While the higher than normal prices might have had the incidental benefit of making renewable energy more marketable, the corruption is reminiscent of the ENRON debacle. Why isn’t anybody paying attention?

    Natural Gas Prices Investigated
    Kristyn Ecochard, June 26, 2007 (UPI)

    WHO
    Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman, and Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., ranking member; Amaranth LLC; Intercontinental Exchange Inc. (ICE) and New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX); Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC); Industrial Energy Consumers of America, Paul Cicio, president; Municipal Gas Authority of Georgia, Arthur Corbin, president/CEO
    overall supply seems pretty consistent (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    "Excessive Speculation in the Natural Gas Market" details Amaranth LLC manipulations of gas prices through obtaining control of supply in the commodity’s two major markets, the ICE and NYMEX. According to this piece: “The larger-than-usual differences between winter and summer futures prices that prevailed during the spring and summer of 2006 were largely the result of Amaranth's large-scale trades rather than the normal market interaction of many buyers and sellers.”

    WHEN
    - Senate Subcommittee hearing June 25 at which the report was released, following a nine-month investigation into 2005 - 2006 price fluctuations and related Amaranth LLC activities.
    - Next hearing: July 9.

    WHERE
    Senate Subcommittee hearing in DC.

    WHY
    - Cicio said a $0.25 cent natural gas price elevation could cost businesses $5.5 billion in a year. In 2006, the natural gas price dropped nearly $2.60 after Amaranth's collapse!
    - From early 2006 until September 2006, Amaranth controlled the natural gas market by daily futures purchases.
    - When the more carefully regulated NYMEX forced Amaranth to reduce its gas position, it shifted holdings to ICE, which is not regulated by the CFTC. (Trading on one exhange affects price on the other.) The subcommittee recommended putting the CFTC in charge of ICE.
    - Natural gas prices are expected to rise through 2030, without market manipulation, due to supply issues. Coal is expected to be cheaper than gas by 2020.
    pretty obvious something is going on here (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Levin: "It's one thing when speculators gamble with their own money; it's another when they turn U.S. energy markets into a lottery where everybody is forced to gamble with them, betting on prices driven by aggressive trading practices…"
    - Cicio: "At the heart of the matter is that every consumer in the country assumes that the government is protecting their interests and that markets are working and operating on a level playing field. Nothing could be further from the truth…Amaranth completely dispels the Wall Street myth that the market is too large for any one company to manipulate."
    - Corbin: "To bring natural gas prices back to a long-term affordable level, we ultimately need to increase the supply of natural gas. However, equally critical is to restore public confidence in the pricing of natural gas…This requires a level of transparency in natural gas markets which assures consumers that market prices are a result of fundamental supply and demand forces and not the result of manipulation or other abusive market conduct."

    MUCH NEEDED BANK REGS ON CO2 CREDS IN WORKS

    Today Senators Lieberman and Warner announced the undertaking of a cap-and-trade plan, a "Global Warming Bill" in the US Senate. Despite all the talk, it is only remotely likely anything will actually get done in the US before the 2008 presidential election. But getting the specifics of international trading with "credits" and "offsets" locked down is an important step.

    Banks move toward carbon credit regulation
    Fiona Harvey, June 27, 2007 (Financial Times of London)

    WHO
    10 banks, including ABN Amro, Barclays Capital, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley; European Carbon Investor Services, VP Imtiaz Ahmad;
    how offsetting works (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Major banks have agreed on a basic standard for carbon offsetting credits.

    WHEN
    Agreement reached June 27. Effective date unstated.

    WHERE
    Agreement brokered in London, applicable to international emissions trading/offsetting.

    WHY
    - Kyoto offset market in 2006: $5 billion.
    - EU mandatory market 2006: $25 billion.
    - Voluntary market 2006: $1 billion.
    - Many offsetting schemes, especially in the voluntary markets, have raised questions, some because they fund projects that would be done anyway, some because they seem to facilitate greater emissions than they alleviate and some because they do not neutralize the emissions they claim to.
    - The Kyoto-established UN Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) has done a better but far from perfect job of regulation in mandatory markets.
    Kyoto goal: 5% emissions reduction by 2012.
    - Bank regulatory system is based on UN CDM 3rd party checks to establish that offsets use one of the pre-designated, clear emissions cutting methods. Nuclear and large hydroelectric projects don’t count. No enforcement. Unauthorized projects are expected to be disdained.
    one way to think about offsetting criteria

    QUOTES
    Ahmad: “This standard establishes a robust benchmark with environmental integrity in the voluntary market.”

    SANYO HIT SOLAR CELL

    The important takeaway on this story, if you're not an engineer, is that solar cells are getting better virtually every day. If solar energy is only cost-competitive now with subsidies and incentives, just wait a minute.

    SANYO Develops HIT Solar Cells With World’s Highest Energy Conversion Efficiency of 22%
    June 20, 2007 (Press Release via RenewableEnergyAccess)

    WHO
    SANYO Electric Co., Ltd. (SANYO)
    a solar cell (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    SANYO broke its own world record for highest energy conversion efficiency in practical size (100 cm2 or more) crystalline silicon-type solar cells: 22% (was 21.8%).

    WHEN
    Announcement of new efficiency achievement June 20.

    WHERE
    SANYO’s goal is reaching market parity by 2010.
    grin and do it. plug into the sun.

    WHY
    - SANYO’s photovoltaic (PV) cell is named HIT (Heterojunction with Intrinsic Thin layer). It is a single thin crystalline silicon wafer surrounded by ultra-thin amorphous silicon layers.
    - The new cell also lowers cost and reduces silicon use.
    - SANYO’s goal: investment of over 40 billion yen, increase in production capacity to over 600MW
    - Details of the new cell’s chemistry available by clicking to the original article.

    QUOTES
    “SANYO is pushing forward with the expansion of its solar business, based on its Brand Vision ‘Think GAIA', and aims to realize a clean energy society.”

    $51.8 MIL UPGRADE TO U.S. GRID

    This is good news because a better grid is something all consumers of electricity need but it is especially good news because upgrades facilitate transmission of renewable energies like wind and solar that, being intermittent, put more strain on the wires.

    Energy Department OKs power grid projects
    June 27, 2007 (UPI)

    WHO
    U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Secretary Samuel Bodman;

    WHAT
    DOE will provide $51.8 million for 5 shared-cost upgrade projects on the U.S. power grid.
    some of the regions requiring improvement (click to enlarge)

    WHEN
    Announced June 27.

    WHERE
    - Power delivery equipment research: Southwire Co. of Carrollton, Ga.; and the American Superconductor Co. of Westborough, Maine.
    - Fault current limiter projects: American Superconductor; SC Power Systems of San Mateo, Calif.; and SuperPower Inc. of Schenectady, N.Y.

    WHY
    - Project will be managed by DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL)
    - The improvements will speed development of high-temperature superconductors which will relieve electricity grid congestion by decreasing flow resistance.
    all the stuff in the grid (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    Bodman: "Modernizing our congested and constrained electric grid through the development of advanced, new technologies is vital to delivering reliable and affordable power to the American people…As demand for electricity continues to grow, we must take steps now to identify potential problems, identify solutions, and deploy new technologies to provide a secure and steady energy supply."

    Thursday, June 28, 2007

    ENERGY BILL – THE REAL FIGHT

    Remember when they start this fight: They work for you.

    Hill’s Energy Battle Has Barely Begun
    Bret Schulte, June 27, 2007 (U.S. News & World Report)

    WHO
    Karen Wayland, Natural Resources Defense Council; Lexi Schultz, lobbyist, Union of Concerned Scientists; Dan Becker, lobbyist, Sierra Club
    No end of opinions... (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    - This report predicts the biggest fight over environment/energy issues since the Clean Air Act of 1970 is coming as early as September when “the global warming bill” (the fight to make emissions reductions mandatory) comes up.
    - Many say the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) Energy Bill provision is a predictor of the mandatory emissions reduction fight. The RPS provision got 58 votes, not enough to beat a Republican filibuster.

    WHEN
    - The Senate Energy Bill fight was in mid June.
    - The mandatory emissions reductions fight is expected in the fall.

    WHERE
    The political fight will be on Capitol Hill. Global warming is…

    WHY
    - The Senate Energy Bill, passed last week, was largely a compromise (by Senate Republican Ted Stevens and Democrat Dianne Feinstein) constructed to create somewhat improved auto fuel standards. Observers predict a similar compromise will be necessary to create mandatory emissions reductions.
    - RPS did not get enough support to pass and the CAFÉ standards measure was a heavily crafted compromise so energy/environment insiders are unsure how to build support for the emissions fight.
    - Possible swing votes: Democrats Byron Dorgan and Barbara Mikulski, Republican John Sununu.
    ...but the problem's not getting solved. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Wayland: "What happened on [fuel efficiency standards] is what's going to have to happen with global warming legislation…That compromise was a bipartisan compromise that was pretty strong."
    - Schultz: "What passage of the bill shows is that senators are coming to understand that we need change…I think we really have moved beyond where we were a few years ago…On the flip side, I think we can't take anything for granted. This is going to have to be fought member to member, senator to senator."
    - Unnamed DC insider: "If there was any vote that prefigured the climate vote it was the [renewable electricity standard]… I'm not saying everyone who supported it would support mandatory limits on greenhouse gases, but there clearly is crossover there…Republican senators who showed a willingness to reach across the aisle to compromise on CAFE may have drawn attention to themselves…Those who are militantly opposed to climate policy also have noticed that and probably will push back vigorously in the opposite direction."
    - Becker: "Looking at how closely divided the Senate is…I think it will be tough to get a global warming bill that will live up to its name."

    CARBON TAX: WHERE IT WORKS, WHERE IT DOESN’T

    Not only did Sperling stir up worthwhile debate with this opinion piece, but he accurately predicted the California Air Resource Board's action.

    A new carbon standard; Taxes on CO2 emissions alone won’t get us wherewe need to go
    Daniel Sperling, June 21, 2007 (LA Times)

    WHO
    Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, the Los Angeles Times' editorial board, liberal and conservative economists
    a complicated graph depicting Sperling's point: tax works in some cases, in some cases not (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Sperling stimulated much debate by asserting a tax on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is not in all cases the best way to cut them:

    WHEN
    Sperling’s opinion piece coincided with a California Air Resources Board (CARB) June 21 vote on new standards applying to emissions.
    The Decision -- 3 new rules: (1) Fuel w/10% reduced GHG emissions by 2020 (as proposed here by Sperling) (2) Improved vehicle ari conditioning systems (3) Requirements for reduced landfill methane emissions.

    WHERE
    The CARB vote was in Los Angeles. Sperling’s comments applied to California specifically and the US in general.

    WHY
    - A “carbon tax” is a surcharge for consuming energy that emits GHGs when used.
    Sperling’s basic assertions are that the carbon tax does not work well for the transportation sector but does for the electricity generation sector.
    - The tax’s effectiveness is due to a choice in electricity generation from dirty coal to cleaner gas to clean nuclear and renewables. A tax on dirty energies could incentivize the use of clean ones. Sperling proposes a $25/ton of CO2 tax.
    - There is little choice in transportation. Petroleum is 96% of the sector. A moderate tax would not incentivize change and a large one would penalize the wrong consumers. Sperling adds that it is also not presently possible to mandate a specific alternative to petroleum.
    - He advocates mandating a low-carbon fuel standard. He proposed a 10% lower GHG emissions by 2020 standard (which CARB mandated, see above).
    how it works, when it works (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Sperling: “Specifically, they do not work in the transportation sector, the source of a whopping 40% of California's greenhouse gas emissions (and a third of U.S. emissions).”
    - Sperling: “The one sector where carbon taxes will work well is electricity generation, which accounts for 20% of California emissions (and 40% of U.S. emissions).”
    - Sperling: “A recent study at the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies found that the "price elasticity" of demand for gasoline has shrunk; a price increase of 10% induces less than a 1% reduction in gasoline consumption.”
    - Sperling: “The low-carbon fuel standard picks neither winners nor losers. Instead, it sends a fuels-neutral signal that alternatives are welcome in California's $50-billion-a-year transportation fuels marketplace…Real solutions to global warming are needed…”

    BIOFUEL BREAKTHROUGH

    Will this improve efficiency enough to turn the EROEI positive?

    High energy liquid fuel created from sugar
    June 21, 2007 (UPI)

    WHO
    University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor James Dumesic and graduate students Yuriy Roman-Leshkov, Christopher Barrett and Zhen Liu
    the basic idea

    WHAT
    The scientists have derived a sugar from biomass and transformed it into DMF (2,5-dimethylfuran) a liquid fuel with 40% greater energy density than ethanol.

    WHEN
    Reported the week of June 21.

    WHERE
    Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
    Reported in the journal Nature

    WHY
    DMF:
    - has a 40% higher energy density
    - is storage-stable
    - is not water soluble so is not diluted by atmospeheric humidity
    - requires only 1/3 the energy of ethanol for fermentation.
    - The research team also did important research on an intermediate step, turning sugar into hydroxymethylfurfural.
    graduate student Roman-Leshkov with a test tube of the fuel created from fructose

    QUOTES
    Dumesic: "Currently, ethanol is the only renewable liquid fuel produced on a large scale.. But ethanol ... has relatively low energy density, evaporates readily, and can become contaminated by absorption of water from the atmosphere. It also requires an energy-intensive distillation process to separate the fuel from water."

    BIGGIES GO AFTER NEW ENERGY

    For better AND for worse, New Energy is now Big Business.

    Investors put more toward renewable energy
    Caroline Humer, June 19, 2007 (Reuters)

    WHO
    Private equity fund First Reserve (director Glenn Payne), General Electric's Energy Financial Services (Jim Burgoyne, managing director)
    the trend is clear (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Renewable energies such as solar and wind are drawing investment dollars from giant investors previously interested more in oil and gas.

    WHEN
    Ongoing, getting bigger all every day

    WHERE
    Where Main Street meets Wall Street

    WHY
    - First Reserve: will put 10-15% of new $7.8 billion private equity fund toward renewable energy ($780 million - $1.17 billion). Examples: a 50 percent stake in Blue Source, a U.S.-based aggregator of greenhouse gas emission reduction offsets, a landfill waste company called Industrial Power Generating Corp., or Ingenco.
    - GE: will double spending in renewables to $4 billion by 2010. Examples: a deal with French wind company Theolia, a stake in combined wind assets, construction of a solar power plant with SunPower Corp. unit PowerLight and Catavento SA in Serpa, Portugal.
    - Key: deals big enough for such giant investors
    1. double investment...2. double revenues...3...projected growth...their ad campaign is their business plan (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Payne: "Many of the renewables are now at the intersection of Main and Wall Streets. There is a significant Main Street appetite for renewables, and there is starting to be a size and order of magnitude that get the attention of folks such as us…"
    - Burgoyne: "There are more people flooding into the space, both from a development standpoint and a capital standpoint…"

    Wednesday, June 27, 2007

    WIND IN SPAIN BUYS WIND IN MAINE: $4.5 BIL!

    Iberdrola is one of the handful of multinationals moving into wind energy in a very big way, leading the consolidation of the business.

    Spanish Utility Iberdrola to Buy Energy East for $4.5 Billion
    David Sharp, June 25, 2007 (AP via Yahoo Finance)

    WHO
    Spanish power company Iberdrola SA (Ignacio Galan, CEO); regional US utility owner Energy East Corp. (Wes von Schack, CEO);
    doesn't look much like Maine

    WHAT
    Iberdrola will buy Energy East for $4.5 billion.

    WHEN
    Deal announced June 25.
    Deal closes in 2008.

    WHERE
    Meetings in New York and Madrid to make the deal.
    Iberdrola is based in the northern Spain city of Bilbao.
    Energy East, based in New Gloucester, owns utilities in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine.
    energia verde. love it. (click to enlarge)

    WHY
    - This is Iberdrola’s first outright US buy. It has been expanding wind holdings internationally and recently bought Scottish Power, which owns PPM wind farms in Oregon.
    - Energy East shareholders get $28.50/share on shares trading June 22 at $22.37.
    - 80% of Maine electric comes from Central Maine Power Co., an Energy East subsidiary. Other Energy East subsidiaries: Berkshire Gas Co., Connecticut Natural Gas Corp., New York State Electric & Gas Corp., Rochester Gas and Electric Corp., and The Southern Connecticut Gas Co.

    QUOTES
    - Kurt Adams, chairman, Maine Public Utilities Commission: “[PUC scrutiny of the deal will be a vigorous analysis…"
    - Galan: "The combination with Energy East fits with the philosophy of our strategic plan, will serve to enhance the international expansion we initiated several years ago in markets with stable growth, and consolidates our position as one of the world's leading electricity companies…"

    CAP-AND-TRADE: QUESTIONS ARISING

    It is still THE DEBATE OF OUR TIME: Cap-And-Trade or Carbon Tax?

    Kyoto carbon trade: market solution or illusion?
    Gerard Wynn, June 21, 2007 (Reuters)

    WHO
    James Cameron, vice-chairman of Climate Change Capital (CCC), Keith Allott, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Yvo de Boer, head of UN Secretariat, Kyoto Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), Axel Michaelowa, researcher, University of Zurich, chief of UN consultant, Perspectives, and former adviser, CDM
    developing nations, where many credits are purchased (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    “Carbon trading” or “cap-and-trade” is the most commonly discussed and practiced method of controlling greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Caps are placed on emissions by a neutral authority. Those who need to produce more than their cap buy the privilege from those who need to produce less. Or buy credits (offsetting) to fund emissions-diminishing projects like non-emitting renewables installations or reforesting projects. But some have gamed the trading and offsetting processes, leaving questions about whether “cap-and-trade” is the best way to cut GHGs.

    WHEN
    The institution of the Kyoto Protocols in 1997 started the development of GHG-cutting processes.

    WHERE
    An international issue centered at the UN and the EU where controls are being exerted to make cap-and-trade systems work.

    WHY
    - Huge amounts of money are going into offsetting projects. CCC alone has raised $1 billion.
    - Two important questions arise about offsetting by funding projects in developing countries: Would the project be done anyway (giving credit where credit is not due)? And is the project taking away from another project (creating no real new GHG cut)? In other words, “additionality”: does the funding create “additional” GHG cuts? In India, it is routine for papers to be faked. A recent analysis found 5 of 19 projects should have been rejected.
    - UN secretariat, CDM: administrators trying to sort these questions out.
    the Clean Development Mechanism process (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Cameron (on funding wind energy projects with offsets): "Be pragmatic: what do you want? We're trying to effect an energy transformation, this is one of the levers…"
    Allott: "We need to increase the burden of proof of emissions cuts…"
    - De Boer: "'Additionality' has haunted the Clean Development Mechanism since its inception…It requires you to judge what would have happened otherwise. Without a time machine that's rather complicated. To state with absolute certainty what would've happened in the absence of CDM is very difficult."
    - Michaelowa: "It's routine practice for Indian project developers to fake documents, for example back-dating board approval, that they considered a project on the basis of the Kyoto Protocol…"

    FUTUREGEN: PROVING CLEAN COAL

    Energy Industry Coming Together on FutureGen, Official Says
    June 20, 2007 (AP via Yahoo Finance)

    WHO
    FutureGen Environmental Manager Mark McKoy, Thomas Sarkus, National Energy Technology Laboratory of Department of Energy (DOE)
    the program on which many hopes are pinned

    WHAT
    FutureGen, an R&D demonstration “clean” coal project. Representatives expressed appreciation of residents favorable attitude toward the project.

    WHEN
    Finalists have been selected. The plant is to begin construction in 2009 and go online in 2012.

    WHERE
    Finalists: Odessa and Jewett in Texas, Mattoon and Tuscola in Illinois.
    the basic FUTUREGEN construct (click to enlarge)

    WHY
    - Funding by DOE ($620 million) + 10 US and foreign energy companies ($250 million).
    The 275-megawatt plant will sequester greenhouse gas emissions in a geologic formation at 1 million metric tons/year, a commercially feasible rate.
    - The plant will also produce hydrogen via a coal gasification process.

    QUOTES
    - Sarkus: "This is not just about mining coal…We're looking for concern from the community…We tell a joke about it at the Department of Energy. It's BIIMBY -- Build It In My Back Yard…"

    SOLAR CITIES

    The leaders at the city and community levels clearly see what national leaders have only begun to realize. A movement from the hearts and heartlands of the country is demanding New Energy.

    Dept. of Energy Chooses Austin as ‘Solar Energy City’
    June 21, 2007 (MyFox)

    WHO
    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Austin Mayor Will Wynn
    averaged annual insolation (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    DOE named Ausin, TX, a “Solar America City” along with 12 other US cities who have a high degree of commitment to solar energy. The honor wins these cities technical and financial assistance.

    WHEN
    The 2007 Solar America City awards are the first such awards given by DOE.

    WHERE
    Austin, TX, Ann Arbor, MI; Berkeley, CA; Boston, MA, Madison, WI; New Orleans, LA; New York, NY; Pittsburgh, PA; Portland, OR; Salt Lake City, UT; San Diego, CA; San Francisco, CA; and Tucson, AZ.

    WHY
    - Austin will get $185,000 in grants. Austin Energy, the local utility, will assess city rooftops for expansion in solar and wind installations along existing transmission paths.
    - With matching grants, Austin Energy will give solar systems to six schools.

    QUOTES
    Wynn: "Being named a Solar America City is yet another accolade for this incredible asset our community has in Austin Energy…Austin Energy has built one of the most comprehensive solar energy programs in the country. This grant money will help us expand our reach even further in deploying solar systems to homes, offices and schools and should also speed our progress in developing a large, concentrated solar farm in West Texas."

    Tuesday, June 26, 2007

    MAKING MONEY IN NEW ENERGY

    The numbers don't lie. And the numbers don't just say "profit" -- the numbers say GROWTH!

    Power play; The opportunity to make a bundle in alternative energy is near
    Thomas Kostigen, June 19, 2007 (Market Watch from Dow Jones)

    WHO
    Professional money mangers, average investors

    WHAT
    Alternative energy funds are presently doing better than the market. As more become available, the money mangers will offer them to the average investor. They represent good investments now and will for the foreseeable future.
    future so bright (click to enlarge)

    WHEN
    The opportunity is “nearly” ripe: “Sophisticated investors saw this coming, still see it coming and have plunked down enormous amount of money for companies that can provide energy solutions. This venture-capital and private-equity money is doing the same thing that it did just before the Internet revolution began…they got in cheap…and sold off shares for huge gains…this same trend is happening in alternative energy. Who knows what the ultimate future of the early clean-tech ventures will be, but their initial potential is huge…”

    WHERE
    Markets.

    WHY
    - World energy demand, spurred by developing nations like China and India, is growing and will not stop. This author estimates 50% demand growth in the next quarter century. With “traditional” energy supply completely consumed by demand, alternatives must be produced.
    - Oil demand will grow from today’s 85 million barrels/day to 115 million barrels/day, a demand jump which may very well not be met by adequate supply – necessitating alternatives.
    - The new alternative energy investments will go from private equity to money mangers to average investors. Private equity is already investing. When the money managers start buying, there will be a cash out and the opportunities will be delivered to the average investors.
    with demand rising and drawbacks to most other types of supply, virtually the only obstacle to New Energy growth is the human capacity to produce it (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Money Management Executive, a newsletter for Wall Street insiders: "Alternative Energy Funds Delivering Strong Returns."
    - New Energy Finance: “Investments in the clean-tech industry have almost tripled over the past two years to more than $70 billion”
    - Kostigen: “The smart money, those with lots of capital to invest, have made their bets and they will pay off; the house will make sure of it…But there will be room for other winners. Just follow the green…”

    OIL KINGS DISS NEW ENERGY

    True enough, New Energy is not the whole answer to the energy crisis. Of course, the climate change crisis cannot be solved by fossil fuels, either. So the obvious answer is cooperation and co-development. Forget the I'm-right-you're-wrong way of thinking and start thinking about solutions! Everybody pulling together. Good for the economy, good for the environment. Win-win. Crises averted...It COULD happen...

    Energy crisis cannot be solved by renewables, oil chiefs say
    Carl Mortished, June 25, 2007 (Times of London)

    WHO
    Jeroen van der Veer, CEO, Royal Dutch Shell; Rex Tillerson, CEO, ExxonMobil
    demand is out of hand, no doubt about it...(click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Both CEOs agreed there is a rising gap between world energy demand and supply and renewables alone cannot fill it.

    WHEN
    Public statements made the week of June 22.

    WHERE
    - van der Veer’s statements were in a written piece for the Times of London.
    - Tllerson’s remarks were made in a talk at London’s Chatham House (Royal Institute for International Affairs ) think tank.

    WHY
    - van der Veer asserted there is widespread public opinion that renewable energy can replace fossil fuels. He warned that conventional oil/gas suply would not meet rising energy demand and called for energy efficiency. He predicted increased use of coal and higher greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. He said renewables will provide no more than 30% of world energy by 2050, even with major technical breakthroughs.
    - Tillerson predicted a 45% rise in energy demand by 2030, driven by developing countries. He said oil, coal and natural gas were the only energies scalable to demand and even oil was failing, due to the cutoff of middle east supplies and a failure of new technology. He was skeptical of biofuels and said he prefered a carbon tax to Europe’s cap-and-trade system.
    ...but there are smarter ways and more destructive ways to deal with it. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - van der Veer: “Contrary to public perceptions, renewable energy is not the silver bullet that will soon solve all our problems…”
    - Tillerson: “The supply outlook for nonOpec countries will be modestly up or flat…Just when energy demand is surging, many of the world’s conventional oilfields are going into decline…[Cap-and-trade is] all about moving the money around…”

    WINDPOWER: READY FOR CLOSE-UP

    This writer calls what is happening in wind energy today comparable to the 1849 California gold rush. Not quite right: A lot more people are going to succeed in this rush.

    Wind power comes of age; Government, industry, greens need to forge functional partnership
    Joe Gschwendtner, June 23, 2007 (Rocky Mountain News)

    WHO
    The wind energy industry
    do you notice a trend? (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    In a summary of the recent American Wind Energy Association’s conference, WindPower 2007, the growth of the industry is compared to the California gold rush of 1849.

    WHEN
    The industry’s booming growth, as displayed at the June 3-6 wind energy conference, is NOW.

    WHERE
    The boom is worldwide. The conference was in Los Angeles.

    WHY
    - 3 biggest needs: new transmission, bringing the cost down and workable compromises between political elements
    - The conference theme was "Growing the Wind Business" – it is. The goal of 20% of electricity by 2030 looks reasonable.
    - A vast array of corporate and manufacturing interests are investing in wind. Example: John Deere.
    - The Supreme Court found that greenhouse gases are pollutants and the EPA must regulate them.
    - Sen. John Thune’s (R-S.D.) bill extended the $19 per megawatt federal production tax credit another five years.
    - States across the country are passing mandates renewables as a part of power production. The senate rejected a national RPS of 15% by 2015 but the House is considering 20% by 2020.
    -European countries and companies are investing bigtime.
    - American industry is ramping up.
    what's at the end of the rainbow? (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    Gschwendtner: “It is crucial that government make sustained support available to wind-development interests for the long term with predictable tax credits. Transmission proximity problems cannot be resolved without the government powers of moral suasion. Colorado and Texas lead the way, but many more governors and legislatures have yet to see the light. The stage is set for the captains of industry who must make the difference - managing ever more efficiently, with research budgets yielding advanced technology that can make the sector profitable without subsidies. Will American engineering and business ingenuity again rise to the challenge? You've likely already guessed the answer. But of course you have - it's blowing in the wind.”

    MOUSE’S RAT HAWKS EFFICIENCY

    "Mouse" is Hollywood jargon for the Disney studio that was founded Walt and his pal Mickey.

    U.S. Teams Up With ‘Ratatouille’ On Energy
    June 19, 2007 (UPI)

    WHO
    Walt Disney Company and Remy, Emile and Skinner (the stars of the new animated film “Ratatouille”), US Department of Energy (Secretary Samuel Bodman)
    the star of "Ratatouille" (the mouse's rat)
    WHAT
    The Disney pic characters are featured in a new animated 30-second TV spot urging consumers to switch from traditional incandescent bulbs to the new compact florescent light bulbs (CFLs).

    WHEN
    The spot began airing June 15 and will run throughout the summer.

    WHERE
    The spot will run nationally, with increased frequency in California and Virginia.

    WHY
    The CFLs are Energy Star-efficient and many states have passed or are considering laws requiring them in public buildings.
    The spots will urge viewers to check the DOE website for more efficiency tips.
    from the New York Times (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    Bodman: "Combining the energy expertise of the Department of Energy with the promotional ingenuity of Disney is a unique way to raise energy awareness…I hope this will be the first project in a continuing effort to leverage the resources of the entertainment industry and government to encourage smart energy choices."

    Monday, June 25, 2007

    POLL: AMERICANS WANT NEW ENERGY

    How do Americans love New Energy? Let me count the ways... (tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to the Bard of Avon)

    Americans Want Clean Energy Laws
    Rosalie Westenskow, June 22, 2007 (UPI)

    WHO
    Americans pollled by New Scientist magazine (Jeremy Webb, editor, Peter Aldhous, San Francisco bureau chief), Stanford University (Jon Krosnick, professor) and Resources for the Future, RAND Corp. (Robert Lempert, senior scientist), Rep. John Olver, D-Mass.
    the states see the demand for mandates and are mandating renewables requirements in their energy portfolios (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Americans accept global warming as a fact and are willing to incur costs to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions but prefer government mandates to incentives.

    WHEN
    The survey is just released. Legislation is pending in the House of Representatives but don’t expect any action until after the 2008 presidential election unless the poles melt completely. Even then they would have to settle rival House and Senate bills by conference.

    WHERE
    Undetermined. The story is out of Washington but the pollsters are based in the San Francisco Bay. The subjects of the poll are described as “Americans.” That narrows it down.

    WHY
    - 85% of Americans believe global warming is real.
    - The Poll--6 options for government action to lower GHGs, 3 pertaining to fuel/transportation and 3 to electricity:
    1. a government standard requiring a percent of fuel or electricity from non-emitting sources
    2. a tax for oil/power companies on GHG emitting fuel/electricity sold
    3. a cap-and-trade system limiting emissions of individual oil/power companies
    - Those polled were told the result would be a 5% decrease in GHGs by 2020.
    - 1 group was told a high price for the result, one group was told a medium, very real, price for it and one group was told a very low price. 50% approved the highest electric bill increase, from $85 to $155. All other choices had higher levels of approval.
    - The least popular actions were the cap-and-trade systems. Economists tend to favor a tax on carbon consumption or GHG emissions because it is simpler but environmentalists tend toward the cap-and-trade system because it guarantees a cap on total emissions. Public opinion rejects taxes and doesn’t necessarily understand cap-and-trade. The pollsters understand political leaders’ inclination to avoid taxes and recommend educating the public about cap-and-trade.
    and people are voting with their wallets (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Webb: "Internationally, all eyes, I can tell you, are on the United States…Without the U.S., any solution to global warming will only ever be a partial solution."
    - Aldous: "Up to a point, it seems that Americans will accept paying more for environmentally friendly energy…"
    - Lembert: "[Economists] tend to see [the carbon tax] as simpler to implement because the government already has a mechanism for collecting taxes and a cap-and-trade system would be something new…People may be worried about the complexity of these other mechanisms…People clearly don't understand them very well."
    - Krosnick: "(Some of) my colleagues say, 'Economics is too complicated for the average American ...whether or not the public supports this is irrelevant…But I don't share that belief. The immigration legislation was killed by public opinion just recently ... and that can happen again…It's far better to recognize the liability that comes with cap-and-trade legislation and to try and educate the American public before you get too far down the road…"
    - Oliver: "A cap-and-trade system provides participants with the flexibility to find the most cost effective means for reducing emissions…The vast majority of Americans want Congress to take action to stop global warming and recognize that the cost of inaction is far greater than any costs of progress…"

    RANGE WAR OVER WIND

    "Give me land, lots of land, under starry skies above,
    Dont' fence wind out..."


    Wind power puts famed ranches at odds
    John Porretto, June 23, 2007 (AP via Houston Chronicle)

    WHO
    The King ranch (King Ranch President Jack Hunt), the Kenedy ranch (Marc Cisneros, the John G. and Marie Stella Kenedy Memorial Foundation), Babcock & Brown Ltd. (John Calaway, chief development officer), Texas land commissioner Jerry Patterson
    the King and Kenedy ranch region of southwest Texas (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    A 240-turbine wind farm proposed on the Kenedy ranch is drawing criticism from the King ranch.

    WHEN
    - The ranches have been neighbors for 150 years.
    - Wind farm is expected by spring, 2008

    WHERE
    - The ranches are in South Texas, the Kenedy Ranch sandwiched between King's holdings.
    - Babcock & Brown is based in Australia. PPM Energy is based in Portland, Ore.
    eye of the beholder: what this needs...

    WHY
    - Mid-19th century founders Richard King and Mifflin Kenedy migrated from Florida together, were good friends and never feuded. King ranch: 825,000 acres; Kenedy ranch: 400,000 acres
    - The King ranch contends the Kenedy turbines (400 feet tall, the height of a 30-story building) could interfere with bird migration, harm wildlife and ruin the view. Hunt especially promotes more regulation of wind installions. - The charitable foundation that manages the Kenedy ranch has done studies and says the wind farm will not harm birds or wildlife and, since the turbines will be 20 miles from the nearest highway, the King ranch folks should butt out.
    - State officials feel the benefits of the wind farm outweigh any potential disadvantages.
    - Babcock & Brown has leased land from the Kenedy Foundation and, with PPM Energy, will spend $800 million to install 157 turbines. Initial phase: 84 turbines on 15,000 acres, $400 million, 200 megawatts powering 60,000 homes.
    - The feud has stimulated interest in wind energy, an alternative to coal, gas and nuclear, and raised calls for regulation. Texas leads the country in wind farms. There are windfarms in 36 states. The National Research Council found that wind energy can generate 7% US electricity before 2020, up from a current 1%.
    ...is this.

    QUOTES
    - Hunt, on his objections and speaking to the Kenedy people: “[I spoke about]…sacrificing the long-term value of a rare resource for short-term revenue...But it sort of fell on deaf ears…I don't think (government) agencies are doing their jobs…These are not farms. They're industrial sites."
    - Calaway: "It's kind of like the Hatfields and McCoys going on here, and it's really unfortunate…The King Ranch has (nearly) a million acres, and if they think it's the right thing to do to have nothing developed, that's fine…But for them to infringe on the property rights of the Kenedy Ranch, which has been incredibly thoughtful about all this, is an outrage. It's so unneighborly, it's incredible."
    - Patterson: "Texas is uniquely positioned to lead the nation in wind power…"
    - Hunt: "This area is often called 'the last great wilderness…Nobody really understands the impact these turbines will have on an area that's so biologically diverse. It's a horrific location."
    - Calaway: "Occasionally, you're probably going to have a bird collide with any structure of any type…We know that. But we're talking about (eventually) generating enough electricity to power 100,000 homes with no water use and no emissions."

    TRANSMISSION CORRIDORS

    Improving the grid is what the country needs. That it will also facilitate the delivery of renewable energy is another important reason to do it!

    House vote a setback for power line foes
    June 21, 2007 (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

    WHO
    US House of Representatives, Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., Department of Energy (DOE), Allegheny Power, Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission (PA PUC)
    the sections of the US grid (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    An amendment to an Energy and Water appropriations bill which would have stripped funding for an interstate electricity transmission corridor was defeated.

    WHEN
    Vote on amendment was June 20. PA PUC will decide by the end of the summer on the Allegheny Power power line plans which sparked opposition to the interstate corridor.

    WHERE
    The transmission corridor transits 8 northeastern states. The Allegheny power lines pass through Washington and Greene counties in PA.

    WHY
    - The transmission corridor would serve 50 million electricity consumers, would be funded by DOE.
    - Opposition was sparked by Allegheny Power’s 37-mile, 500 kilovolt line.
    - The region’s power grid requires investment but states are dragging their feet. In the designated corridor, DOE could override states if the state denies a project application, goes 1 year w/o a decision on a project or overburdens a permit with conditions. DOE could then grant construction permits and/or override state/local regulations.
    there are a lot of overburdened lines

    QUOTES
    Daniel Griffiths, director, Pennsylvania Bureau of Energy Innovations and Technology Deployment: “The Department of Energy's broad designation of the Mid-Atlantic Corridor, which includes much of Pennsylvania, combined with the siting process recently adopted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission may lead to projects in Pennsylvania that ignore the nation's best interests and the critical concerns of states…Governor Rendell fears the breadth of this corridor -- as outlined by the federal government -- may lead to projects
    that harm Pennsylvania without any balance of benefits…”

    COAL BECOMING NEW ENERGY

    Professor Socolow's "wedges" were featured in this morning's NPR Morning Edition story Climate Game Gives Real Options To Save The World

    If proven, "clean" coal would be a boon to the US and Big Coal. IF proven. And then there is the new question of just how much coal there really is left...

    Global coal rush raises clean energy stakes
    Gerard Wynn, June 15, 2007 (Reuters)

    WHO
    Robert Socolow, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, Princeton University's "Carbon Mitigation Initiative", the Department of Energy (DOE)
    click to enlarge
    WHAT
    An energy-hungry world is increasing its consumption of coal despite awareness of coal’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which add to climate change. The resolution of the dilemma might be “clean” coal technologies, making it possible for coal to take its place as one of Socolow’s 7 “wedges” (types of energy) that will combine to provide adequate fuel, without increasing GHG emissions, by mid century.

    WHEN
    - Socolow’s comments were made June 14. They pertain to the coal industry as it is currently being developed and will be developed through 2050.
    - Coal plants are expected to increase by 1/3 by 2050.
    - A combination of Socolow’s 7 “wedges” (forms of energy) could hold GHGs to today’s levels by 2050

    WHERE
    A CCS system will have to be installed at 1600 coal-fired power plants worldwide.
    Europe has CCS demonstration projects schedule to go on-line in 2015.

    WHY
    - “Clean” coal technology involves the capture of the GHGs emitted during the transformation of coal to energy and the sequestering those emissions in underground (geologic) structures. This is called “carbon capture and storage” (CCS).
    - Demonstration projects are being developed, including DOE’s Future Gen. Problems with CCS might be costs, miners' lives, pollution and sequestration leakage to the landscape. Alternatives to CCS (Socolow calls these “wedges” in the energy mix) are nuclear, wind and biofuels. According to Socolow, it would take 2 million wind turbines to replace coal (other experts have estimated a much lower number) by 2050, a 25 times increase in wind energy. Present nuclear capacity would have to be tripled.
    - Though there is presently economic pressure on biofuels from food crops, future biofuels will come from nonfood crops and not take up food-dedicated ag land.
    the DOE project (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Socolow: "We really don't have to wring our hands about the growth of coal…But it means we have to move as quickly as possible…We can do any of the wedges badly or well... It's about public acceptance. We've seen that with wind and nuclear in various parts of the world…What's impressive is that the public have said they don't want the risk of unpredictable climate change. If we lose that momentum it could take decades to get it back."
    - Princeton University's "Carbon Mitigation Initiative"

    SOLAR GROWING AFFORDABLE

    A variety of figures are reported for cost of electricity and cost of electricity from solar. These are in the range of accuracy.

    Solar power costs dropping, nearing competition
    Rebekah Kebede (with Matt Daily), June 21, 2007 (Reuters)

    WHO
    First Solar Inc., Michael Ahern, CEO; Scatec, Alf Bjorseth, CEO;

    WHAT
    The price for solar energy is approximating the price for other sources of electricity, making it nearly price-competitive in the marketplace.
    photovoltaics, the basics (click to enlarge)

    WHEN
    - The price of solar electricity is expected to be competitive with other sources of electricity within “a few years.”
    - The 30% investment tax credit for solar installations runs through 2008 and congress is debating an extension.
    - First Solar’s goal is competive solar energy by 2010.

    WHERE
    - The Renewable Energy Finance Forum, New York City.
    - First Solar headquarters is Phoenix, AZ
    - Scatec is based in Sweden.

    WHY
    - The price fall is the result of 2 factors: increased production of solar cells and increased efficiciency of the cells.
    - New technologies: thin film solar modules and nanoparticles to enhance efficiency.
    - Silicon shortage has and continues to hamper the industry’s progress.
    - Cited solar prices are 20-40 cents/kilowatt-hour (kwh), versus typical retail electricity of 10.5 cents/kwh.
    - Utilities buy coal-fired electricity at 4 cents/kwh, higher during peak demand. With tighter supplies (like CA), prices are 12-23 cents/kwh. First Solar’s goal is 8-10 cents/kwh by 2010.
    a sample case. the numbers are getting better all the time. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Bjorseth: "If we can hit 8 to 10 cents, I think we're going to open some markets…With power prices climbing and the cost of solar power falling, the outlook for solar energy is bright…In some markets, solar energy is already a cost effective source of power…and that trend is set to expand, especially in larger markets.”
    - Ahearn: “Investing in new solar installations also remained risky because no clear regulatory framework existed to compare how renewables would fare economically over the long-term against more conventional sources, even with federal subsidies…”

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