NewEnergyNews: 09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007

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: WHY THE OIL & GAS INDUSTRY BACKS AN ALL-OF-THE-ABOVE ENERGY POLICY
  • QUICK NEWS, July 22: U.S. DOE FORESEES NEW ENERGY; THE BEST CITIES FOR NEW ENERGY; ENERGY STORAGE TO BE $50BIL MRKT
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • 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
  • -------------------

    GET THE DAILY HEADLINES EMAIL: CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR SEND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

    -------------------

    THE DAY BEFORE 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
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • 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
  • AND 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
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • 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
  • --------------------------

    --------------------------

    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.

    -------------------

    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

    -------------------

    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

    -------------------

    Your intrepid reporter

    -------------------

      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

    -------------------

    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

  • ---------------
  • Sunday, September 30, 2007

    BRITAIN: OUT WITH THE BAD BULBS!

    Britain requires home sales to be accompanied by Home Information Packets (HIPs), which include Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) and an Environmental Impact Rating (EIR) (see graphics below). How’s that for letting the market impact home efficiency?

    The Brown government expects the change to CFLs to save emissions equivalent to the output of a coal-fired power plant.


    Britain to switch off energy-guzzling light bulbs
    September 27, 2007 (AFP via Yahoo News)
    and
    UK to switch off high-energy globes
    September 28, 2007 (Sydney Morning Herald)

    WHO
    Britain (Hilary Benn, Environment Secretary; Gordon Brown, Prime Minister )

    Click to enlarge picture. Buy and use to help your world.

    WHAT
    The government will lead a voluntary drive to end the availability of incandescent light bulbs in favor of energy-efficient compact florescent light bulbs (CFLs).

    WHEN
    The plan was announced September 27. 150-watt incandescents will stop being sold in January 2008. 100-watt bulbs will be unavailable after January 2009. 60-watt bulbs will be gone after January 2010. The phase-out of incandescent bulbs is scheduled to be complete by 2012.

    WHERE
    The incandescent bulbs will be removed from retail shelves one size at a time.

    WHY
    - Incandescent bulbs will be removed from European Union markets by manufacturers by 2015.
    - Retailers have met the announcement with enthusiasm and indicated they will cooperate.
    - Prime Minister Brown has a well-known, long-standing commitment to environmental and energy issues.
    - The average British home has 23-24 light bulbs.
    - Both in Britian and the EU leaders are urging consumers to take further energy efficiency measures such as installing new window and door linings, insulation and thermostat controls.

    Wouldn't it be great to get a report like this on a house you were thinking of buying? (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - British Environment Secretary Hilary Benn: "Britain is leading the way in getting rid of energy-guzzling light bulbs and helping consumers reduce their carbon footprint…Choosing energy-saving light bulbs can help tackle climate change, and also cut household bills, with each bulb saving up to 60 pounds (85 euros, 120 dollars) over its lifetime…"

    CHINESE BUILDING RENEWABLES, INDIA WATCHING

    Very little notice taken of this event or these predictions in the western press but noticed in India.

    Some say China’s commitment to renewable energy, especially solar energy, is primarily in anticipation of the 2008 Summer Olympics and expect Chinese development to slow after that. Predictions at this conference suggest otherwise.

    There are also rumors of a giant oil strike off China’s eastern coast. Will that impede renewable growth? NewEnergyNews is watching.


    Renewable energy may account for 30 percent of Chinese energy supply by 2050
    September 19, 2007 (ANI via Yahoo News India)
    and
    Renewable Energy Development on a Fast Track
    September 19, 2007 (China.org)

    WHO
    Shi Dinghuan, president, Chinese Renewable Energy Society

    Getting greener (and richer) every year. Can your country claim the same?

    WHAT
    The latest projections have China drawing 30% of its energy from renewables by the end of this half century.

    WHEN
    - Projections for China through 2050 were presented September 19.
    - This is the 1st time the International Solar Energy Society's Solar World Congress has been held in China since the event was initiated more than 20 years ago.

    WHERE
    - The International Solar Energy Society's Solar World Congress 2007 was held in Beijing, China.

    WHY
    - China presently gets 8% of its energy from renewable sources. Its declared national goal is 15% by 2020.
    - China is projected to have developed 300,000-500,000 megawatts of wind energy by 2050 and 200,000-300,000 megawatts of solar energy in the same time period.
    - Hydropower is expected in this scenario to produce 100,000 megawatts in China by 2030.

    Keep it in mind for next year.

    QUOTES
    Shi: “China’s renewable energy development has stepped onto the fast track…China [has] to pay more attention to developing renewable energy in order to ease the conflict between economic development and environmental protection.”

    EVERYBODY LOVES KAZAKHSTAN

    Despite the EU’s “can’t we all just get along” line, Kazakhstan seems intent on what would essentially be a nationalization of their resources. It remains to be seen if (or how long until?) Russian or Chinese oil interests seduce the Kazakhs into a new partnership. See also WHY OIL COSTS MORE –CASE STUDY: KAZAKHSTAN

    EU urges Kazakhstan to be open to energy partners
    September 20, 2007 (Reuters via Yahoo News Malaysia)

    WHO
    EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, Kazak Energy Minister Sauat Mynbayev

    The region. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Eni, the Italian oil giant, heads an international oil consortium with a long-standing exploration deal in the Caspian Sea’s Kashagan field. Kazakhstan, impatient with progress, is threatening to takeover field development and eject the consortium. Pielbags is the most recent in a stream of western diplomats visiting Kazkhstan to make nice.

    WHEN
    Kazakhstan once again stopped consortium operations in August 2007.

    WHERE
    Kazakhstan is in central Asia, with an incredibly strategic location. Russia to the north, pipelines running straight to Europe on the west, Iran to the southwest, India and Pakistan to the southeast and China to the east. Their oil is like fresh raw meat in a den of hungry tigers.

    The oil field. (click to enlarge)

    WHY
    - Eni heads an international consortium that also includes Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Exxon Mobil Corp, Total, ConocoPhillips , Japan's Inpex Holdings Inc and KazMunai Gas.
    - Kazakstan has provoked the production delays it is demanding billions of dollars in remuneration from the consortium for with complaints of ecological and economic hardships. This is not the first time Kazakhstan has done this to the consortium.
    - Pielbags dangled membership for Kazakhstan in the World Trade Organization as an enticement to settle with the oil consortium.

    QUOTES
    Pielbags: "Successful energy partnerships are based on the principles of mutual respect, transparency, predictability and non-discrimination..."

    TWISTED LOGIC IN ALBERTA: NUKE ENERGY INSTEAD OF CARBON TAX?

    This is an indication of just how big a boogey man the idea of a carbon tax is. This man can actually try to convince people to take on all the risks, financial burdens and dangers of building a new nuclear energy plant by raising the spectre of A NEW TAX. Nevermind that nuclear energy is subsidized by government. Nevermind that if a “carbon tax” were ever implemented it would have provisions to return revenues to the economy. Nevermind a rational assessment of risk and benefit. Just be afraid, be very afraid of that horrible monster the BIG BAD TAX. For more on this, read NUCLEAR TO DIG SANDS? Obviously, Energy Alberta will use any excuse to build its plant.

    Energy Alberta boss says nuclear energy will protect province from carbon tax
    September 18, 2007 (Canadian Business)

    WHO
    Wayne Henuset, president, Energy Alberta

    The Peace River region. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Henuset advocates on behalf of Alberta’s proposed Peace River nuclear power plant with the argument that since eastern Canadian provinces have nuclear energy and no oil and gas resources, if Alberta does not develop a similar emission-free energy resource it is likely to bear the brunt of any “carbon tax” Canada institutes.

    WHEN
    The Peace River nuclear project has not yet won regulatory approval.

    WHERE
    - The Peace River region is in northern Alberta, near the province’s enormous oil and gas resources.
    - Henuset singled out the politically powerful eastern provinces of Ontario and Quebec as potential “carbon tax” advocates at Alberta’s expense.

    WHY
    - Henuset’s argument has a twisted logic designed to intimidate the citizens of Alberta into moving toward nuclear energy.
    - Energy Alberta’s 2,200 megawatt nuclear power plant would have a Candu twin reactor and cost $6.2 billion.
    - While Henuset described nuclear energy as “clean’ he did not mention the problem of nuclear waste disposal. There is no known safe way to dispose to the radioactive byproducts of nuclear energy.
    - Another curious argument the Peace River project’s advocates have used is that the nuclear energy can drive oil wells in the resource-abundant but difficult-to-develop oil sands region.

    Canada has renewable resources. But folks like Energy Alberta seem determined to take the short-term, profit-hungry route. (click to enlarge.

    QUOTES
    - Henuset: "Alberta’s power requirements are growing by 400 MWs every year…Alberta is ready for nuclear power and the timing is right, the timing is now."
    - Henuset, on a conversation with a nuclear physicist: "[The nuclear physicist] said [nuclear] is cleaner, safer, more reliable, dependable and stable, and he pointed out that 'you guys in Alberta' have these crazy power prices that go up and down because one day your gas is costing this much and the next, it's way up here…How can anyone run a business with that instability? He made a strong case."

    Saturday, September 29, 2007

    Solar Energy Marketing

    A visit with a 58-home community in the Canadian province of Alberta putting solar thermal energy to work.

    ECO BIZ: New Energy Fund

    A short profile on someone doing well by doing good, financing innovative businesses in New Energy.

    Friday, September 28, 2007

    SOLAR POWER 2007 – DAY 4: PARTY’S OVER, FORECAST TOMORROW: SUN

    At today’s last session, “California Solar Programs: Review and Forecast,” Lisa Frantzis of powerhouse consulting group Navigant explained that California’s goal of 3000 megawatts of solar energy installed by 2016 is unlikely to be met unless utility prices rise 7%/year. If programs to control emissions and energy consumption don’t drive utility prices up significantly in the next decade, most Californians will probably have drowned from sea level rise or died of lung disease anyway. (Just kidding…sort of.)

    Rumor: The party at Long Beach’s truly inspiring Aquarium of the Pacific Wednesday night, sponsored by SunPower Corp. and Cowen and Co., reportedly got a little wild. No confirmed reports of skinny dipping with the sea otters but there were apparently folks who got pretty lubricated.

    And that ain’t nothin’ compared to the solar energy party these folks left here yesterday looking to start all over the country and all over the world. There was a remarkable variety of nationalities on the floor. NewEnergyNews met Japanese, German, Israeli, Chinese (a LOT of Chinese, both the Mainland and Taiwanese kinds), South African, Spanish, French (Go Global Green!), Canadian (You really should run for office) and Italian folks, a couple of Scandinavian-sounding folks, some men in turbans speaking British English, a Pakistani plumbing supply guy and a lot of Americans (Boston, Philly, Manhattan, Jersey, Atlanta, Scottsdale, Silicon Valley and Austin, among others, not to mention Southern California locals).

    click to enlarge

    There are a lot of ideas about how to make solar cheaper. Manufacturing and installation are getting more streamlined all the time. They are building silicon factories to try to get a handle on the cost of the raw material -- but it isn’t working yet. Larry Cooper, an industry veteran with Kyocera, says there are now 100 companies trying to get the right formula for thin film, another way around the silicon bottleneck.

    And then there were the finance guys. One has a plan to market solar systems by leasing them. He says he has a bank with $13 million dollars behind him. He’ll own the system and you pay him a utility bill. The details of his program are a little complicated, especially if you use more energy than you’re supposed to, but it gets around the large expense of buying a system.

    Matt, with
    Black Rock Solar, is doing wonderful work donating systems from this year’s Burning Man. He says solar energy needs to get over being “the other.” It needs to be a natural thing, like buying a refrigerator. You could live without a refrigerator but you just wouldn’t choose to. A solar system should be like that.

    The problem is that it costs as much as a car. Most folks wouldn’t go out and buy a car if they already had one. And most of us already have electricity.

    It’s a big number to deal with. Even when you know that the system is going to be generating free electricity for 2 decades or more after it has paid for itself, you can’t help but worry. Will it last that long? Yes. Will the technology become outdated? Newer technology might make systems that look a little different or take a little less space on the roof but you will still be getting the same number of kilowatts and the system will be paid off.

    Lyndon Rive, as reported in
    DAY 1: GETTING READY TO OPEN Monday, is organizing groups to get better prices. As he points out, all studies show that solar enhances the value of the house beyond the system’s cost.

    A fund guy from Apple Valley has the right idea. He wants to write a “Reverse Mortgage and Equity contract” to use your home and wrap the cost of the solar system into it. All you worry about is a monthly payment. Besides being an unexpected opportunity in the current mortgage crunch, his numbers might actually work. The idea of putting the cost of the solar system into the house is exactly right. That’s done routinely in Japan. It’s what California Energy Commission (CEC) Chairwoman Jackalyne Pfannenstiel wants to do. Her goal is to make solar systems standard on all new California homes.

    But as for solar-the-product, here’s what you need to know about where it is right now: An audience member asked all four panel members and the moderator (including representatives of
    Sungevity, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), San Diego Gas & Electric and the CEC) if they had solar systems. All had great “reasons” but none had solar energy. They are all people who see the wisdom of solar energy but do not yet see how to have it. When the electrical engineers and financial wizards and roof monkeys show them how to have it, this will be a new world.

    This is NewEnergyNews, signing off from Long Beach, CA, where the sun is rising on a new world.




    Solar Power 2007 -- Day 4: Party's Over, Forecast Tommorrow: Sun

    WHO
    Presented by Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) and Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA); Sponsored by Sharp and Southern California Edison

    WHAT
    SOLAR POWER 2007, the biggest solar energy industry conclave ever. Almost 10,000 participants.

    WHEN
    Ended September 27.

    WHERE
    - Long Beach Convention Center.
    - The event will soon be available as a webcast. Webcast Info Here.

    WHY
    Right now, the most cost effective change a homeowner can make is making the house energy efficient. Long term, it’s hard to see how you can go wrong adding a solar installation if you’ve got the money and can wait for the biggest part of the return, the nearly free electricity.

    QUOTES
    - Julia Judd, SEPA executive director/Solar Power 2007 chair: “Solar power is no longer only of interest to technology geeks and futurists. The technology and a wide range of applications for businesses and homeowners are available and real today."
    - Rhone Resch, SEIA president: “The business climate for solar power in the United States is rapidly heating up. The size and scope of this year’s conference signals that the global solar industry views the U.S. as a prime market for investment…Today, American ingenuity is shaping the future growth of the solar industry, from innovative technology and business models to individuals pushing for clean energy solutions. We need a federal energy policy that harnesses this ingenuity and puts our solar energy resources to work for America.”
    - Thomas Edison: “If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.”

    A COMPUTER CHIP MAKER MOVES HIS SILICON TO SOLAR

    People in the solar energy business are still very concerned about the silicon supply. At Solar Power 2007, S.J. Liu of Taiwan’s Neo Solar Power mentioned his company had just signed a $500 million contract locking in their supply of silicon. He was talking about the LDK deal reported here last week (CHINESE SOLAR CO BEATS SILICON SHORTAGE) and mentioned below. It makes business sense from Neo Solar's point of view and suggests their top thinkers are not worried about reversals in the solar market. Suppliers like LDK, on the other hand, are locking themselves into current prices with these contracts. They will either have to use their windfall to build new capacity or risk serious setbacks against emerging competition as prices rise. But since it is hard to see the demand falling off very much for solar panels or computer chips, building new capacity makes a lot of sense, too.

    Rise of the Solar Energy Industry Lights a Fire Under Wafer Maker
    Kevin Harlin, September 21, 2007 (Investor’s Business Daily via Yahoo Finance)

    WHO
    MEMC Electronic Materials (Nabeel Gareeb, CEO); LDK Solar; industry observer Paul Leming of Soleil-Princeton Tech; John Hardy, an analyst who covers the solar sector for American Technology Research;

    Silicon is vital to the traditional solar cell, building block of the solar panel. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    As a result of the worldwide polysilicon shortage, MEMC – which had done the bulk of its business making silicon wafers for computer chips – is presently obtaining the bulk of its growth from supplying solar cell makers.

    WHEN
    The average contract price of silicon has doubled since 2004.
    MEMC made its 1st contract polysilicon sale to SunTech Power Holdings in January. It will soon start shipments to Gintech Energy. The 2 contracts are worth $7 to $9 billion dollars over 10 years.

    WHERE
    MEMC is based in St. Peters, Mo. It has a plant in Pasadena, Texas.
    LDK is based in China.

    WHY
    - LDK, which has specialized in making the silicon wafers (that become cells that become panels), just began construction on a new plant to produce silicon.
    - MEMC expects polysilicon production for solar cells to soon account for 1/3 or more of sales. It will focus on a grade of polysilicon which can be transferred to computer chips if anything happens in the solar market. MEMC says it will increase polysilicon production 35% in 2007 to 6000 metric tons, then to 8000 by the end of 2008 and 15,000 by the end of 2010. Like LDK’s earlier predictions of output (CHINESE SOLAR CO BEATS SILICON SHORTAGE), these numbers have been met with skepticism. MEMC’s Texas plant just last month had a shutdown severely damaging output for 3rd quarter 2007.
    - Polysilicon is a complex chemical process and new players may not readily master it.

    click to enlarge

    QUOTES
    - Paul Leming, veteran silicon industry observer: "[MEMC is] operating in as extreme a shortage environment as I've ever seen as an analyst…They've executed impeccably, flawlessly. They have executed phenomenally well…We have no idea how big solar demand is today…We just don't know because we haven't been able to serve the market."
    - John Hardy, analyst, American Technology Research: "While there is a significant amount of poly planned to come online over the next two years, a great portion of this is from relatively new entrants, which is causing some skepticism as to whether or not the true production will actually increase as much as people are hoping…"

    GEOLOGIC SEQUESTRATION: OPPORTUNITY IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST?

    Very important research. As long as everybody knows it is research, not a proven solution.

    Field tests set on Basin basalt carbon storage
    Andrew Sirocchi, September 15, 2007 (Tri-City Herald)

    WHO
    Grant Pfeifer, regional director, Washington Department of Ecology; Pete McGrail, scientist, Pacific Northwest National Laboratories (PNNL); Jim Kuntz, Executive Director, Walla Walla Port

    The Columbia Basin (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    - With projections and lab testing complete, the process of evaluating Washington state’s Columbia Basin as a site for geologic sequestration of CO2 emissions will now begin.
    - A 3000 to 4000 foot injection well be drilled and 3,000 to 5,000 tons of carbon dioxide will be put into the basalt. 18 to 24 months later, basalt samples will be taken to check. If the basalt contains it, the CO2 will turn to limestone.

    WHEN
    The pilot project began in 2005. Field tests will begin in early 2008. PNNL and Dept of Ecology representatives are now making preparations. If seismic testing results are satisfactory, construction will begin in February 2008.

    WHERE
    - The Columbia Basin underlays 60,000 square miles of the Pacific Northwest.
    - The port of Walla Walla spent $4 million for 1,900 acres off Highway 12 in the pilot project testing region, an investment that will be invaluable if the project proves successful.

    WHY
    - The Columbia basin is composed of basalt layers thousands of feet thick.
    - Washington state now prohibits new power plants with emissions greater than gas-fired plants. If it proves possible to capture and sequester coal-fired plant emissions in the basin, it could open enormous new opportunities for power generation and other emissions intensive businesses in the region, an opportunity Walla Walla is poised to seize.
    - The Wallula Energy Resource Center will build a $2 billion coal gasification plant
    if the research project proves 65% of emissions can be captured and sequestered.
    - Boise Cascade presently owns the test site and is clearing it in anticipation of the new use.
    - Supercomputer projections and lab experiments say the basalt will hold the acidic CO2 but only field tests are conclusive.

    There are competing methods to sequester caputered emissions, none yet proven. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Pfeifer, Dept. of Ecology: "It's exciting on the big picture scale and it's exciting on the regional scale as well because of the resource we walk upon…We're very comfortable with the plan that is being proposed."
    - McGrail, PNNL: "Geologically, a considerable fraction of the Columbia Plateau is likely suitable…The scope is to verify the accuracy of those computer predictions so that this tool could get used for commercial scale deployment, in the Northwest or wherever we have an opportunity…"
    - Kuntz, Walla Walla Port: "That's the objective of the pilot. To get an idea of the suitability…We think it's a great project and environmentally it has great promise for the future."

    Thursday, September 27, 2007

    SOLAR POWER 2007 – DAY 3: COST

    What you want to know is how much it's going to cost. Pretty simple question, right? But did you ever ask a car salesman that question? Not so simple. (Some installers, like car salemen, are even going to offer you the option of leasing.) Buying a solar system is a purchase in the same general price range as a car, the 2nd or 3rd biggest purchase most consumers will ever make. So how much does it cost?

    Before beginning, know this: Governor Schwarzenegger’s “Million Solar Roofs” plan (a.k.a. California Solar Initiative, CSI, a,k.a. Senate Bill 1, SB1) is a complicated matter. Installations fell off dramatically when it went into effect in January 2007 because of price point details and bureaucratic complexities. The Governor got it straightened out and the industry has come back but it has not yet fully adjusted to the complications. Expect whoever you talk with to complain (probably vigorously) about the rebate program – and then assure you it cuts your cost and tell you you’d better hurry up and buy your installation before the benefit diminishes.

    About half of the cost is in the solar panel. The other half is in the hardware and installation. Brackets and wiring are improving all the time but are pretty standard. The single most expensive hardware feature is something called an inverter that turns the electricity made by the sun and the panels into electricity that can go into the grid. (Whenever you need more electricity than you make, it will continue to come from the grid, guaranteeing your power supply. The electricity you make that you don't use goes into the grid, reducing your bill.) If you want a battery storage system, that costs extra. (Like leather seats, computer navigation and satellite radio).

    A 2.8 killowatt system installed by Borrego Solar near San Diego: All you need.

    The good news: It may take longer than you expect to start making free electricity but system guarantees last at least that long, if not longer.

    And everybody agrees that with no more serious maintenance than simply cleaning the panels 2 or 3 times during the hottest, driest, dustiest months, the system should last 2 or even 3 times longer than the payback period.


    Solar Power 2007 – Day 3: Cost

    WHO
    Solar systems sales experts: REGrid Power (Rich Moore), Borrego Solar, Pacific Power (John Berry), REC Solar (Gabe Davis)

    A Pacific Power gas station/minimart installation in Fairfield, Calif: Using every bit of rooftop.

    WHAT
    How much does it cost to do good for the world and get free electricity from the sun?What is the cost of a solar system for your home, your apartment building, your business or your commercial operation? And when does the utility company start paying you for the electricity you make on your roof?

    WHEN
    Today. And going forward.

    WHERE
    Under the sun. (Most utility companies in California, by the way, don't have "feed-in" tariffs" and consumers cannot profit beyond the limits of their utility bill on solar energy generated by their systems.)

    WHY
    - Like all good salesmen, NewEnergyNews’ experts answered the question with a question: How much electricity do you use?
    - Electricity is measured in watts. Consumption is measured in watts/hours. Residences and businesses consume kilowatt-hours. Residences normally require a 3 to 5 kilowatt system. A gas station uses a 30 kilowatt system. A car dealership uses a 220 kilowatt system.
    - Utility rates vary. Higher rates incentivize adoption but, more importantly, make payback quicker because the electricity that comes off the bill has a higher value.
    - For more information on rates and utility programs, check with PG&E, LADWP, Southern California Edison, or San Diego Gas & Electric.
    - The orientation of the surface on which the installation sits is critical. A south/southwest slope of the proper angle obtains the best sun saturation and maximizes solar electricity production. What is the best slope? Well, it’s complicated. Don’t worry about it right now. The installer can make adjustments and will tell you if the prospects of your situation are not promising.
    - Though nobody will say so with any commitment because of the variables, the general consensus seems to be that the cost for an average home system of 3 to 5 kilowatts is going to fall in the general range of $8000/kilowatt, putting the cost (after state rebate programs) in the mid-$20,000s. Paying off such a system is likely to take 8 or 10 years. If rates are higher, it may happen in 7.
    - Businesses are likely to need all the roof space they have. In very round numbers, the cost ranges from $7/watt to $8.50/watt. Payback for business systems is much better because there are much better rebates and tax incentives, though they are diminishing as more people buy solar and taxpayer funded incentives become less necessary.
    - The industry is full of talk about silicon panels and thin film materials, new installation methods and new equipment, concentrating solar innovations and solar thermal innovations. Don’t expect system installers to show much interest. That’s like trying to talk robotics with the guy you buy your laptop from. Remember, you’re basically talking to a contractor. And a salesman.

    A 4.5 kilowatt system installed by REC Solar in New Brunswick, New Jersey: With an estimated $1700+/year utility bill reduction and a life of 2 or 3 decades or more, how is this NOT going to move the house price up more than the system cost?

    QUOTES
    - Rich Moore: “Your utility company dictates your electricity rate and the size of your electricity bill dictates the system size…If [the buyer] is in any business or management position they’re going to think about payback.”
    - Pacific Power: “Typical business system cost: 15% is paid with the electric bill, 57% is paid by tax incentives, 28% is paid by the California Solar Initiative rebate.”
    - John Berry, Pacific Power: “The most maddening part of the process is the rebate structure and how much is available per watt keeps going down. In January it was 39c/watt, then it was 34c, then 29c, now it’s 26c and soon it will be 22c. Business seems to be slowing down as we drop down.”
    - Gabe Davis, REC Solar: “This year should have been a perfect storm with Al Gore’s movie, the price of oil, all that...Sales should have been higher...CSI cooled off the market.”

    NATURAL GAS BRIDGE TO HYDROGEN?

    Oh, Fareed -- two of New Energy's worst canards: The hydrogen economy is a long, long way down the hydrogen highway. Natural gas is cleaner than coal or oil but it is hardly clean, it is NOT renewable and there are many who believe it is NOT "plentiful" in the sense of being a real answer to long term energy needs.

    It’s Not ‘Star Wars’; Energy’s Future: Robdert Hefner says natural gas offers a bridge to a squeaky-clean ‘hydrogen economy’
    Fareed Zakaria, October 1, 2007 (Newsweek)

    WHO
    Robert A. Hefner, founder of natural gas giant, GHK; Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek Magazine, ABC News, PBS

    Fossil fuels resources run out sooner or later. The more we depend on them, the sooner they run out. They are not renewable. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Zakaria interviewed Hefner about the future of energy in general and Hefner talks about the US' 70-100 year natural gas supply.

    WHEN
    The Fuel Use Act in 1978 stopped the widespread use of natural gas for power generation in the US.

    WHERE
    Oklahoma once generated 80% of its electricity from gas. Singapore now gets 85% of its electricity from gas.

    WHY
    - Hefner contends natural gas is cleaner than coal for electricity and cleaner than gasoline for transportation.
    - Hefner argues the traditional case for a tax on fossil fuel (but not natural gas), to be offset with payroll tax cuts.
    - Hefner points out the natural gas transmission infrastructure already exists in home gas lines and contends compressed gas cars could be fueled at home.
    - Hefner sees 50 years out: hydrogen fuels cells for transportation and wind, solar and gas for electricity. (NewEnergyNews: 50 years out.

    This is about where we are, in any practical sense, with hydrogen powered vehicles.

    QUOTES
    - Hefner: “Coal and oil have become by far America's largest energy problems. Together, they produce about 80 percent of our CO2 emissions, and our addiction to foreign oil creates very large problems and risks. So I believe we should phase in taxes on coal and oil and oil products—say, over the next five years, so everyone has the chance to adapt. Our principal energy solutions are natural gas, solar, wind and efficiency; policy should encourage their use.”
    - Hefner: “Fifty years from now we will have developed a new energy infra-structure that is many times more efficient, largely through natural gas, solar and wind-powered electric generation, hydrogen fuel cells in the transportation sector and massive increases in end-use efficiency. We will then be entering the hydrogen economy as a result of a transition that began with natural gas.”
    - Hefner, on 50 years out: “An economy powered by hydrogen gas released from seawater by electrical current, produced by solar or wind generation. Although this process of electrolysis has been known and used for over 100 years, it is not commercial for our economy today…Somewhere in the second half of this century, civilization will have finally achieved an energy system that can power its economic growth on an environmentally stabilized Earth. The hydrogen economy should be civilization's energy endgame.”

    BEST IN EMISSIONS CREDITS

    Using round numbers, Rhodia paid about 60 euro cents/credit for 15 million credits and sold them for about 14 euros each, a total profit of about 210 million euros ($297 million). Think there’s money to be made in carbon trading?

    Meanwhile, the current US administration's excuse for not getting involved in the market is that it would hurt the economy. It will only hurt if US traders don't figure out how to play the emissions markets. Yeah. That's likely. Right after the sun starts rising in the west.


    Rhodia S. Korea plant leads world in carbon credits
    September 21, 2007 (Reuters via Yahoo News Malaysia)

    WHO
    Rhodia Energy Services (Philippe Rosier, President, and Rita Hillig, Head of Media Relations)

    Republicans like markets, right? So how about getting the US into this market and mixing it up with the world? (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Using Rhodia-developed emissions reduction technology, Rhodia’s South Korean adipic acid chemical plant (part of nylon manufacture) received almost 10 million certified emission reduction (CER) credits under the UN Kyoto Protocol Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) procedures, which were sold to industrial companies and businesses seeking to offset their own excess emissions, at 14.40 euros to 14.50 euros/credit.

    WHEN
    - The CER totals are for 2007. More CER sales are expected for 2008.
    - Between 1990 and 2010, Rhodia will have cut emissions 56%. The sale of CERs has saved the company.

    WHERE
    - The plant is in Onsan, South Korea.
    - Rhodia is based in France. It has a similar chemical plants in Brazil.
    - With its emissions control technology, Rhodia cut emissions at its Chalampe, France, plant by 20 million tons CO2e/year.

    WHY
    - 1 CER = 1 ton of emissions (CO2 equivalent) cut. Traded worldwide.
    - 2nd place: Hydrofluorocarbon plant in India – 8.7 million CERs for 2004 thru 2007 emissions reductions
    - Current CER price: 16.70 euros (1 euro = $1.41)
    - Emission: nitrous oxide , 310 times more potent than CO2. The Osnan plant’s emissions were cut by more than 10 million tons.
    - Rhodia revenues from CER sales, first half of 2007: 84 million euros. Operating profit: 77 million euros (31% of company overall operating profit)



    QUOTES
    - Hillig: "I can confirm that we've sold all CERs expected to be received in the second half of 2007 for an average price of 14.40 euros...I can also confirm that we've sold forward five million 2008 CERs at an average price of 15 euros...We expect to sell between 11 million and 13 million CERs generated annually by both CDM plants ..."
    - Hillig,on the Chalampe, France, plant "We have received no credits or payback from N2O reductions made at that plant..."

    Wednesday, September 26, 2007

    SOLAR POWER 2007 – DAY 2: REDISCOVERY

    A local couple just passed by on the way out of the convention center lobby. The wife was asking the husband to tell her again how much they could save on their utility bill if they spent the money on the solar system they were looking at. “And how much did he say it would cost?”

    Rumor: The chief financial analyst from Goldman Sachs went to dinner tonight with top representatives from the Department of Energy (DOE) and National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL).

    What’s the connection? Goldman Sachs will find out what NREL research DOE is spending on and invest in the companies preparing to take that technology to market. The local couple’s solar system investment hangs in the balance.

    It doesn't take a money man to see where the money's going. (click to enlarge)

    The convention floor is thrivingly alive with competition. It’s a fight between competing ideas: Photovoltaic panels for rooftops and arid deserts, thin film for building integrated materials, concentrator systems using heated fluids or solar panels…None of them produce electricity at market-competitive prices without government incentives like tax breaks for producers and adopters. And in this frenetic chaos of ambition, it is easy to lose sight of what’s important.

    But the people of Los Angeles suffer no such confusion. They know exactly what they want: Some want something from column A and some want something from column B; some want A and B. One wants a piece of the action, A or B. And they know why they want it.


    Solar Power 2007 – DAY 2

    WHO
    The Los Angeles public.

    click to enlarge

    WHAT
    At Solar Power 2007, tonight the people were invited in for a look at the vendor booths on the floor, a look at what solar energy might mean to them. When the doors opened, Los Angeles swarmed inside in droves, eyes wide with wonder at the endless displays of panels and possibility, taking respite from the energy wars and political wrestling going on outside.

    WHEN
    The floor was opened to the public from 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM September 25.

    WHERE
    The Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, CA.

    WHY
    - Paul owns a carwash in Whittier. He showed his utility bill. You won’t pay that much at your home this year. He doesn’t know if a solar energy system will work for him or if it’s a waste of his time but he came to talk to some people.
    - Curtis is a Southern California community building official. He’s looking for a state-of-the-art system for the city. He wants a system that will display all solar energy’s possibilities, solar photovoltaic and solar thermal.
    - Mark has a commercial building on Signal Hill but has no special identification with the location’s place in oil history. He’s always been interested in putting some solar panels up and this is his chance to check out the possibilities.
    - Robert is concerned about Peak Oil. He heard about the convention at Treehugger. He wants to use the back 60,000 square feet of his land out near Palm Springs to build a solar plant. So far, he’s pretty disappointed with the interest he’s getting from Southern California Edison but he’s far from done exploring possibilities.
    - Dianne is a teacher at Los Cerritos Elementary school. BP, in Carson, rewarded her proposal to their “A+ for Energy” program, “Solar Solutions: Peace Through Energy Conservation,” with a $5000 grant. She’s using it to teach the kids about solar energy. She put a solar powered water fountain in the school’s garden and bought a solar powered fan, solar ovens, a sun dial, a solar powered battery charger and lots of other things solar.
    - Sidney is in the process of putting a solar system on his Long Beach apartment building. It is his legacy to his great-grandson.

    There's still a lot to learn about solar energy. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Paul: “I’m not really here because it’s good for the environment, I want to see if it’s gonna benefit my business.”
    - Dianne: “We need to teach our kids about the future and solar seems like a good solution…If you teach the kids, the parents learn, too.”
    - Sidney: “It’s critical to the way we live and the way our grandkids and great-grandkids will live…When you think back on the way things were, things have changed dramatically. So it’s pretty easy to believe what they say about where we’re headed.

    Tonight, NewEnergyNews wishes it were a fly in the soup on the table of those guys from Goldman Sachs, NREL and DOE. Now that the purpose has been clarified.

    NEW ENERGY & TEXAS GOLD

    The big TXU deal in February 2007 changed the face of Texas energy. The deal only went through when TXU promised to cancel 8 of 11 planned coal-fired power plants. Since then, the rush has been on to build wind energy and the transmission to carry it. Some worry the short term will produce an energy squeeze. But as more and more states respond to long term changes in energy supply, Texas will be in position to resume the power role it is accustomed to in the energy market.

    The tip on this story came from Cindy M. in Austin. Thanks, Cindy. Keep up the good work. Austin is lucky to have you.


    Texas electricity market lures big investors; Buffet, Gates, Pickens bet that state’s market will bring hefty returns
    Edward Klump, September 18, 2007 (Bloomberg News)

    WHO
    Warren Buffett’s Electric Transmission Texas (w/ American Electric Power Co.), Bill Gates’ Cascade Investment LLC, T. Boone Pickens’ Mesa Power, Hunter Hunt’s (son of billionaire Ray L. Hunt of Hunt Oil) Sharyland Utilities, TXU Corp.

    Not your grandfather's Texas energy titans.

    WHAT
    Electricity demand in Texas is rising and big investors, big names with deep pockets, are rushing in to build transmission, meet the rapidly growing need and seize the long term profits.

    WHEN
    - Electricity spot price the week of September 11, 2007: $65/megawatt-hour; 1 year out futures price: $81.25/ megawatt-hour.
    - First 6 months, 2007: Texas electricity = 7.83 cents/kilowatt-hour, 25% above US average (6.25 cents/cents/kilowatt-hour)
    - Mesa Power’s wind generation expects to produce in 2011.

    A small part of the big campaign for new transmission in Texas. Soon to be seen all over the US and around the world. Which is why the titans are getting into the business. (click to enlarge)

    WHERE
    Texas. But this is what most states must go through in the transition to New Energy. In an energy constrained world, all states must increase capacity, build out transmission infrastructure and become more efficient or their economic competitiveness will fall off.

    WHY
    - Buffett’s venture will build 1000 miles of new transmission. Hunt’s will build 800 miles of transmission in the panhandle. Pickens is building the biggest wind farm in the world. Both he and Gates are investing in generating plants.
    - Ercot, the state power manager, says marginal power capacity could fall below the necessary 12.% in 2009 and get as low as 5.9% in 2012 if supply and grid capacity do not come up. This would create higher energy prices and compromise business’s ability to compete.

    Betting on wind because the hole card he's holding is transmission.

    QUOTES
    - Barry Abramson, co-manager of $28 billion assets, Gamco Investors: "It is a huge market that keeps growing…[with] the perception that [Texas] regulators and government agencies are supportive of new power-plant development…"
    - Calvin Crowder, vice president, Buffett’s venture: "There's a very real opportunity in Texas to earn a reasonable return on investment in utility, and especially transmission utility, business…Transmission business doesn't provide extremely high returns, but it also does not have extremely high risk…''
    - Pat Wood III, Sharyland Utilities & formerly w/Federal Energy Regulatory Commission: "The cost recovery here is virtually guaranteed…''

    ANOTHER TEXAS TOWN GOES FOR NEW ENERGY

    Again defying red state/blue state and urban/rural stereotypes, another small Texas town has seen the wisdom of contracting to obtain its energy from Texas windfarms and, thereby, investing in its own future and the future of Texas energy.

    A scene from the movie
    Borat
    was reportedly shot in this Dallas-Fort Worth suburb.


    Wind energy lights city
    Tasha Hayton, September 11, 2007 (Star Community Newspapers)

    WHO
    The city of Coppell, Texas; Direct Energy

    Coppell, Texas (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Coppell signed a contract to obtain city electricity from Direct Energy. The contract locks the city’s rates and requires 50% of the electricity come from renewable sources.

    WHEN
    Contract just signed. The city’s slow migration toward the “dark side” (sustainability influences) is ongoing.

    WHERE
    Coppell, Texas, was once a farming community and is now an upper-middle class suburban bedroom community in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

    WHY
    - Coppell recently joined the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives.
    The contract serves 2 purposes, making the city more sustainable and keeping electricity rates predictable as the state enters a period of sharply rising energy costs.
    - The contract covers city facilities, traffic lights and other city electricity uses such as the library, Town Center, the municipal court and the service center. All the buildings now have compact fluorescent lights and many have automated energy management systems and solar screens. The changes have reduced city energy consumption 30-40%. Efficiency is a major focus in the construction of a new senior center, with soil erosion and tree impact considered and recycled materials being incorporated.

    Direct Energy is just getting started in the US (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Jim Witt, Coppell city manager: “The actual source of the power will probably come from the Texas wind farms. Through our contract, this renewable energy source is required to be used in the system at a rate based on 50 percent of the power needed to operate our facilities…”
    - Amanda Vanhoozier, community programs supervisor: “(Going green) is the idea that everything we do has an impact on the environment, and what we need to do is meeting the needs of the present without compromising future generations…”
    - Brad Reid, Parks Director: “There will be many new things that we will look at and consider before, during and after the construction process [of the new senior center]… The site storm water handling system will be designed to capture rainwater runoff from the building where it will then pass through bio-filters before being released slowly back into the ground…This project will require thinking outside the box…We'll be choosing materials that discourage consumption and waste."

    Tuesday, September 25, 2007

    SOLAR POWER 2007 – DAY 1: GETTING READY TO OPEN

    Everywhere they look, they see sunshine and opportunity and they can’t wait to get to work making energy and making money.

    During the SOLAR CITIES WORKSHOP, NewEnergyNews had a chance to talk with Lyndon Rive, CEO of workshop host
    SolarCity. Rive, a successful entrepreneur before he got into the solar energy business, has put together a dynamic business plan and BIG venture capital backing from the likes of Paypal/Space X founder Elon Musk and J.P. Morgan Bank. SolarCity is coming to your town. Wherever you are. More on their plans in the post.

    During the workshop, three of four speakers said Peak Oil is as important as climate change and environmental concerns in motivating their solar energy commitment.



    Chatterers all over the convention center wonder about transmission. There is not enough of it. There is not enough of it from rural sites where solar and wind energy are most fulsomely developed to cities where electricity is consumed (energy “sinks”).

    Later in the day, Ted Turner announced his DT Solar is installing a 700 kilowatt system at ProCaps Laboratories in Henderson, Nevada. In answer to why this relatively pedestrian solar installation warranted a cocktail reception on the Queen Mary, NewEnergyNews was told what it already suspected: Turner’s New Jersey-based company is moving in on the west. California has sunshine, tax subsidies and a state government dedicated to policies that incentivize renewable energy growth.

    Are the big boys coming for sun the way they recently did for wind? Is consolidation around the corner?


    Solar Power 2007 – Day 1

    WHO
    SolarCity (Lyndon Rive, CEO); presenters (Tom Kimbis, US Department of Energy; Tam Hunt, Community Environmental Council; Cal Broomhead, San Francisco Department of Environment; Anthony Pereira, President/CEO, altPOWER); Ted Turner, media mogul, philanthropist, environmentalist and CEO, Turner Renewable Energy

    Pereira's altPOWER is overseeing installation of a 33 kilowatt photovoltaic system at The Solaire in New York City's Battery Park, around the corner from ground zero.

    WHAT
    - “SOLAR CITIES WORKSHOP; Leading the Solar Revolution in Your Community, Your City, Your Neighborhood” – a workshop leading into Solar Power 2007, the biggest solar energy industry conclave ever.
    - SolarCity, a bold new business plan bringing solar energy development to every city it can reach and organize.

    WHEN
    - The workshop was September 24, as was the interview with Rive.
    - SolarCity is aggressively developing community programs all over California. We discussed 2 southern California programs, one in Santa Monica that just finished and one in Malibu that just opened up.

    San Francisco has partnered with Google to create an interactive website of all its solar installations. Click through to site on the link below.
    Interactive map of San Francisco’s solar installations here.

    WHERE
    - The workshop was at the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, CA, where Solar Power 2007 formally opens September 25.
    - Superb workshop presentation by Pereira on Building Integrated Photovoltaic projects in New York City.
    - SolarCity’s programs typically run 2 to 3 months. They begin with a campaign to create awareness and end with a committed group of investors.

    SolarCity installs in businesses...

    WHY
    Hot term in city development of solar energy: Peak Shaving – providing peak demand supply to the grid makes solar system installation viable even in environments where individual systems are not yet cost effective.
    - Strategies for developers: Help cities see the way solar energy works for them – organize for better prices, see the good in pollution-free energy that comes with favorable return on investment, jobs for the communities, peak shaving for the local utilities which makes it easier to meet their demand and less likely they will face brown-outs.
    - Obstacles: (1)Permitting can be streamlined; (2) inspections can make installations better when inspectors are educated to purposes and problems; (3) costs get better when systems get bigger or more systems get bought; (4) Considerable investment (this will be most homeowners' second biggest financial outlay, less than the house but more than the car) can produce return 3 – 5 times that of a banked savings account.

    ...and SolarCity installs in homes. SolarCity is coming.

    - The SolarCity program in Santa Monica had a target of 50 kilowatts. The program was so well received they ended up with 80 kilowatts. The Malibu target is 50 kilowatts.
    - SolarCity communities are selected on the basis of the average electricity consumption, then on the average electrical bill. Incomes and history of solar adoption in the community also are considered. Once a community is identified, residents and businesses are targeted by direct mail and local press. Free educational seminars are held. The idea is to gather a large enough group of buyers to get volume discounts.
    - Determined to provide to solar adopters what they promise, SolarCity includes a wireless transmitter with its installation so energy production can be monitored 24/7.

    QUOTES
    - Rive, SolarCity: “Local [solar energy] builders don’t like us because there’s a new guy in town taking all the business with better prices and better services but when you look at the data you see that while SolarCity does ten times more than everybody else, everybody else does better, installs more systems in the two months we’re there.”
    - Rive, on solar cost: “Payback is the wrong way to look at it. Return on investment is the way to think about it. A savings account gives you 2% return. Solar system return on investment with a utility like Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) that has lower rates is 5%-6%. Solar system return on investment with a utility like Southern California Edison (SCE) that has higher rates is 10%-12%. And studies show a solar system increases the value of the house more than the cost…it is the best home improvement you can do for property value.”

    Is he about to do it again?

    Quote of the day: Ted Turner welcomed his guests and said a few brief words about DT Solar’s new western installation. Afterwards, a fellow from Pennsylvania said it sounded harsh but Turner said it with a gentle southern drawl and a twinkle in his eye. No doubt he meant every word. He probably meant something like “doing well by doing good” but what he said was, “We’re doin’ a lotta good and we’re gonna make a lotta money.” NewEnergyNews suspects he’s right.

    BRING EFFICIENCIES UP TO DATE IN KANSAS CITY

    And while you're adding solar panels, how about other efficiencies?

    Mo.: Panel Pushes For Energy Conservation
    David Twiddy, September 14, 2007 (AP via Yahoo Finance)

    WHO
    Speakers at the Kansas City Energy Efficiency Forum: Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo); Robert Cox, president, Sierra Club; Matthew Tidwell, spokesman,Kansas City Power & Light (KCP&L); Ken Baker, senior manager, Wal-Mart Stores Inc.;

    US energy consumption can be changed dramatically with efficiency measures. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Speakers at the Forum, co-sponsored by utilities and advocacy groups, talked about energy efficiency, how important it is and how it can be improved locally and nationally by citizens, business and government.

    WHEN
    The Forum was September 14.

    WHERE
    - The Forum was held in Kansas City, Mo.
    - Kansas is 36th and Missouri 46th in efficiency investment among US states.

    WHY
    - Bringing energy issues to the historically well-supplied (no pun intended) Midwest, the forum reported that the US lags behind the rest of the world in being efficient with energy.
    - Apparently laying groundwork for the only good expected from coming congressional energy legislation battle, Senator McCaskill advocated for efficiency measures like more efficient light bulbs, increased efficiency standards for government buildings, expanded tax credits for installing renewable energy systems and requirements for utilities to generate electricity from renewable sources.
    - KCP&L pointed out it had upped the percent of electricity it gets from renewables and cut back on burning coal. It said its customers’ use of programmable thermostats had prevented power crises in the hottest parts of this past summer.
    - The Sierra Club found energy/climate change to be second only to the Iraq war as a voter concern and advocated for legislation requiring utilities to get electricity from renewables.
    - Wal-Mart claimed a series of efforts: installing skylights and efficient light bulbs cut energy use 20%; all stores’ energy use is monitored at corporate HQ; heat given off from refrigeration units is used for heating water; solar panels are being installed in California and Hawaii.
    - Energy experts talked about the need to give utility companies incentives to encourage efficiency from customers.

    Lots of rooms for improvement. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo): "It's very important that we incentivize the programs that encourage the citizens to do what is right, whether it's changing their light bulbs, updating their appliances, making sure their tires are inflated to the proper level or building energy-efficient homes…"

    WYOMING GOV FIGHTS OIL INTEREST MANIPULATIONS

    For anybody who doubts industry uses interest groups to further its purposes, here is a case of a Governor catching an oil and gas bunch red-handed trying to steal the thunder of his advocacy for New Energy.

    Notice the headline below. If the group in question was simply “Pro-Energy” it would not have drawn Governor Freudenthal’s ire. It is narrowly “pro” a TYPE of energy and was attempting to manipulate public opinion by giving the appearance of the Governor’s endorsement.

    Interestingly, the story mentions in passing Governor Freudenthal’s doubts about NextGen, a big DOE “clean” coal project. It will be interesting to see if there are any changes after the meeting between Freudenthal and governors Bill Ritter of Colorado, Jon Huntsman of Utah and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.


    Pro-Energy Group Draws ire of Wyoming Governor
    Judith Kohler, September 13, 2007 (AP via Yahoo Finance)

    WHO
    Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal, oil-and-gas advocates Americans for American Energy (AfAE)

    Wyoming's Governor wants to expand the biomass slice and add biofuels. The oil-and-gas group doesn't. Wyoming produced biomass and Wyoming produced biofuel is not American Energy HOW???

    WHAT
    Freudenthal sent a letter to the group cutting off his relationship with it for making "highly inappropriate assertions" such as that he approved of a "powerful new oil and gas campaign."

    WHEN
    Freudenthal’s letter was sent September 12.

    WHERE
    AfAE is based in Golden, Colorado

    WHY
    - AfAE promotes domestic oil-and-gas production and “targets” efforts against it. Freudenthal had at first allied with them because of their educational efforts about domestic energy supply.
    - AfAE advocates for oil and gas development of western Colorado's Roan Plateau, opposes “over-regulation" of emissions, seeks more exploration in Alaska and the outer continental shelf and is working against "anti-production elements" in current Washington energy legislation.

    Colorado's Roan Plateau. The oil-and-gas interest group was more anxious to drill there than Wyoming's Governor.

    QUOTES
    - Cara Eastwood, Freudenthal spokeswoman: "It's a complete misrepresentation of what the governor stands for…The spirit of the comments presented is just not the way our governor does business…"
    - Greg Schnacke, AfAE /former director,Colorado Oil and Gas Association: "We've certainly apologized to them and we're working hard to rectify that…The effort has certainly drawn a lot of pushback from the big nationally organized environmental groups…"
    - Freudenthal: "For your organization to tie this office with the policy initiatives in the communication from (Americans for American Energy) is offensive, at best…"

    Monday, September 24, 2007

    SOLAR POWER 2007

    NewEnergyNews will be covering the event. Submit questions via “Comments” below.

    Solar Power 2007

    WHO
    Presented by Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) and Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA); Sponsored by Sharp and Southern California Edison



    WHAT
    SOLAR POWER 2007, the biggest solar energy industry conclave ever.

    WHEN
    September 24 thru September 27.

    WHERE
    - Long Beach Convention Center. Directions.
    - The event will also be webcast. Webcast Info Here.

    The Long Beach Convention Center and environs

    WHY
    - Solar Power 2007 is a solar energy industry conference and expo, an opportunity for customers, policymakers, investors and other supporters of an industry growing at a 40%/year rate to meet, confer and synergize. An unprecedented 10,000 attendees are anticipated.
    - With an industry growth rate of more than 40 percent per year, there was a need for a single event where industry could come together with potential customers, policymakers, investors, and other parties necessary for continued rapid growth. Solar Power 2007 is now recognized as the premiere solar event in the U.S.
    - Solar Power 2007 is purchasing renewable energy credits (RECs) to off-set all electricity use. The conference organizers also offer travel off-sets. The Long Beach Convention Center is a “green” convention center, using a roof-mounted solar photovoltaic installation to generate its own electricity.
    - Detailed Schedule and Agenda



    QUOTES
    - Julia Judd, SEPA executive director/Solar Power 2007 chair: “We look forward to again providing a strong forum for the development and strengthening of solar business deals and partnerships.”
    - Rhone Resch, SEIA president: “Solar energy is positioned to be the next high-tech growth industry in the United States…As more states implement progressive solar policy and long-term consumer demand becomes increasingly firm, the US solar industry is seeing record levels of investment, expansion, and growth. Solar Power 2007 will bring the major industry players together and will be a can’t-miss event for businesses and consumers alike.”

    DIRTY ENERGY, BAD HEALTH

    The general intent of NewEnergyNews is to report the good news about energy. But sometimes a story is just too important and too likely to get ignored by the mainstream press to turn away from. Perhaps the best way to think about what follows is that if we don’t do something about global climate change, your children and grandchildren could wind up living like this.

    Interesting fact about solar energy: All over the world, governments and NGOs are getting photovoltaic panels where they can bring clean energy to places where dirty energy kills people.


    Dirty energy threatens the health of 2 billion: study
    Ben Hirschler, September 13, 2007 (Reuters via Yahoo News)

    WHO
    Paul Wilkinson, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

    click to enlarge

    WHAT
    2 billion poor people worldwide suffer health problems due to lack of energy like electricity and cooking gas.

    WHEN
    Findings published September 13.

    WHERE
    Report published in the British medical journal Lancet

    WHY
    - The world’s entitled inhabitants use 20 times the energy per capita than those who go without.
    - 2.4 billion exposed to open burning of solid fuels (wood, coal, dried dung) for cooking, heating and light suffer respiratory disease causing 1.6 million deaths/year and much more non-fatal respiratory disease, twice the levels of urban air pollution-induced respiratory disease and death.
    - Ironically, the consumption of energy and spewing of greenhouse gases by the entitled is likely to lead to climate change, the burden of which will, once again, fall on the poor in the forms of drought, flood, fire, leading heat strokes, starvation and water-borne infectious diseases.
    - The observations in the report reveal that the study of climate change has not elucidated the full impact it is likely to have.

    Acute Lower Respiratory Infection (ALRI) in children under 5 around the world. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Wilkinson: "Paradoxically, the poor are using much less energy but they are getting all the adverse effects…We in the more developed countries have access to clean energy and are using much more of it and are contributing to the global problem of climate change, where the main adverse effects are likely to fall, once again, on lower-income countries."
    - Richard Horton, Lancet editor: "[Current research on climate change] neglects a far larger set of issues focused on energy and health…"

    UN LEADER CALLS FOR MANDATORY EFFICIENCY

    In the absence of more meaningful action due to the reluctance of the US, China and India to participate, energy efficiency measures will buy some time. But mandatory measures are not the only possibility. A voluntary cooperative program between China and the US was reported by NewEnergyNews yesterday: CHINA,
    US TO WORK TOGETHER ON EFFICIENCY


    Make energy-efficient technology mandatory, UN expert says
    September 11, 2007 (AFP)

    WHO
    Marcel Alers, UN Development Programme (UNDP)

    IEA caluclations of CO2 production: Note that efficiencies make all the difference. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Alers, an expert on climate change and energy issues, called for mandatory efficiency requirements to be implemented by governments around the world.

    WHEN
    - Alers comments came at a planning session of the UN Climate Change Panel that will meet in December in Bali, Indonesia, to set a framework for the post-2012 phase of world climate change action.
    - Alers observed that EU mandatory standards on refrigerators have “transformed” the European market in 10 years and called for similar measures.

    WHERE
    - Recognizing the UN’s limits, Alers called for individual governments to implement mandatory standards and labels worldwide.
    - Alers also recognized developing countries inevitable reliance on coal.

    WHY
    Because of the inevitable use of coal by developing economies, Alers called for the perfection and implementation of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology.

    Lawrence Berkeley Nat'l Labs statistics on appliance ownership in China. And, like much of the rest of the world, China will get most of the electricity to play with all these new toys from coal. Efficiency isn't just a good idea, it's a desperately necessary one. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Alers: "Most of the technology needed to achieve significant reduction of greenhouse gases actually exists, doesn't have to be invented and actually is competitive commercially…The experts in this area will all tell you that voluntary is nice but if you want impact, it has to be mandatory ... And these things do not cost a lot of money…"
    - Alers: "Energy efficiency and energy conservation provides the most cost-effective means of achieving emission reduction targets…"
    - Alers: "It's just a fantasy to believe that we can just continue development over the next century without the use of coal. It's simply not going to happen…Coal and other fossil fuels will remain a very important part of the energy mix of all countries so we will have to find ways of dealing with that. That has to be part of the solution…"

    CALIF MANDATES MARKET-BASED EFFICIENCY

    In light of the UN expert's call for mandatory efficiency standards (see above), it should be interesting to see how California's market-based plan turns out. California's idea is to give the utilities a reason to partner with consumers.

    A third concept would be rewarding the utilities for installing efficiency. The utilities cover purchase and instalation for new appliances, thermostats, bulbs, insulation, weatherization, etc., and then bill for the ugrades, earning what they otherwise would for larger amounts of energy sold.


    Energy Efficiency Plan Will Save Californians Billions, Says NRDC; Utilities Get New Incentives to Help Customers Save Energy, Reduce Global Warming Pollution
    Craig Noble, September 20, 2007 (Natural Resources Defense Council press release)

    WHO
    The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), California investor-owned utilities (Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Gas), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

    NRDC calculation: Utilities, who partner with the consumers, continue to reap rewards from Public Goods Charges (PGC) paid by consumers even as consumer savings rise. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    The CPUC has given unanimous approval to a plan to reward the utilities for maximizing customer efficiency, incentivizing what would otherwise be self-defeating: getting customers to buy less of the utilities’ goods (power).

    WHEN
    The program will run for a 3-year cycle, 2006-2008.

    WHERE
    Applies in California.

    WHY
    - Efficiency, more work from less energy, is a cornerstone of the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act, which requires California to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
    - The plan: Each utility can earn up to $150 million (before taxes) for exceeding specified efficiency levels and pay the same in fines for falling too low in efficiencies.
    - Consumers can save $2 billion if the utilities get their rewards, profiting enormously on the bonuses they pay the utilities.
    - CPUC will require the utilities to design and implement programs such as rebates for the purchase of energy-efficient appliances (air conditioners, clothes washers, furnaces,water heaters).
    - California and CPUC already require the utilities to implement efficiencies when that is cheaper than building a new power plant.
    - This measure follows on California’s “decoupling” program which separates revenues from total energy use.

    More savings, despite public goods charges from which utilities earn their due for driving efficiencies. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Audrey Chang, staff scientist, NRDC: “The commission’s plan is a common sense approach that rewards utilities if they do a good job helping consumers save energy…It makes it in the utilities’ best interest to help their customers use less energy, reducing their energy bills and cutting global warming pollution.”
    - Chang: “This decision will put more cash in Californians’ pocketbooks and less pollution in the air we breathe…”

    Sunday, September 23, 2007

    CHINA, US TO WORK TOGETHER ON EFFICIENCY

    Similar DOE efficiency programs are available for US businesses: Save Energy Now Assessments

    More information on China efficiency potential available at: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories China Energy Group study.

    China and U.S. sign energy accord
    September 17, 2007 (China Daily)

    WHO
    Karen Harbert, assistant secretary for policy and international affairs, US Department of Energy (DOE); Chen Deming, vice-minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, People’s Republic of China;

    They may not be doing it with energy efficiency but China is turning out a lot of stuff. (click to enlarge)
    Illustration from Lawrence Berkeley National Labs

    WHAT
    Harbert and Deming signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) agreeing to work together to improve energy efficiency in China’s industrial sector.

    WHEN
    MOU finalized during September 9 thru 16 China-US Energy Policy Dialogue and signed over the weekend.

    WHERE
    This 3rd China-US Energy Policy Dialogue was held in San Francisco, CA

    WHY
    - China’s industrial sector uses 70% of the energy the country consumes.
    - US and Chinese teams will do joint audits on up to 12 facilities among China’s “Top 1000 Energy Enterprises.” DOE will provide audit tools and train the Chinese in auditing, then do comparisons to determine best practices. DOE training will be on US laws, policies, procedures, technologies and best practices and include efficiency info on US-made boilers, fired heaters and combined heat and power units.
    - The audit results may generate sales of US efficiency equipment/services to China, reducing Chinese consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
    - This MOU follows the US-China Strategic Economic Dialogue, the US-China Oil and Gas Industry Forum, the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum and the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, all efforts to increase cooperation on energy efficiency, climate change mitigation and clean tech trade facilitation.

    LBL study showing potential energy savings in China from efficiencies. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    Harbert: "This agreement signifies the importance of our strategic energy and economic cooperation with China…As global energy use continues to rapidly increase, the US is working to identify ways to increase industrial energy efficiency both domestically and across the globe…Our US industry has significant expertise and products that can improve energy efficiency in China.”

    *