NewEnergyNews: 10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007

NewEnergyNews

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

Every day is Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • THE STUDY: THE ECONOMIC ADVANTAGES OF NEW ENERGY – THE NORTH CAROLINA CASE
  • QUICK NEWS, April 22: ON EARTH – A QUICK LOOK BACK; OBSERVATIONS FOR EARTH DAY (continued); OBAMA ADMIN UPS BACKING FOR NEW 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 STUDY: THE U.S. NEW ENERGY MARKET NOW AND AHEAD
  • QUICK NEWS, April 21: OBSERVATIONS FOR EARTH DAY; BACK TO OWNERSHIP IN SOLAR; 15X GROWTH FOR ASIA PACIFIC MIDROGRIDS
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • Weekend Video: Happy Birthday Solar Cell
  • Weekend Video: Offshore Wind As A Hurricane A Wall
  • Weekend Video: Get On The Climate Policy Train
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 5 (continued from yesterday)
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 6
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 7
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 8
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

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

  • TTTA Thursday-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 1
  • TTTA Thursday-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 2
  • TTTA Thursday-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 3
  • TTTA Thursday-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 4
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • THE STUDY: NEW ENERGY POSSIBILITIES – THE MICHIGAN EXAMPLE
  • QUICK NEWS, April 16: THE RACE AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE; THE FAST RISING POTENTIAL OF U.S. NEW ENERGY; BIG TEXAS WIND SHRINKS ELECTRICITY MRKT PRICE
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, is a biweekly contributor to NewEnergyNews

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT)

    November 26, 2013 (Huffington Post via NewEnergyNews)

    Everywhere we turn, environmental news is filled with horrid developments and glimpses of irreversible tipping points.

    Just a handful of examples are breathtaking: Scientists have dared to pinpoint the years at which locations around the world may reach runaway heat, and in the northern hemisphere it's well in sight for our children: 2047. Survivors of Superstorm Sandy are packing up as costs of repair and insurance go out of reach, one threat that climate science has long predicted. Or we could simply talk about the plight of bees and the potential impact on food supplies. Surprising no one who explores the Pacific Ocean, sailor Ivan MacFadyen described long a journey dubbed The Ocean is Broken, in which he saw vast expanses of trash and almost no wildlife save for a whale struggling a with giant tumor on its head, evoking the tons of radioactive water coming daily from Fukushima's lamed nuclear power center. Rampaging fishing methods and ocean acidification are now reported as causing the overpopulation of jellyfish that have jammed the intakes of nuclear plants around the world. Yet the shutting down of nuclear plants is a trifling setback compared with the doom that can result in coming days at Fukushima in the delicate job to extract bent and spent fuel rods from a ruined storage tank, a project dubbed "radioactive pick up sticks."

    With all these horrors to ponder you wouldn't expect to hear that you should also worry about the United States running out of coal. But you would be wrong, says Leslie Glustrom, founder and research director for Clean Energy Action. Her contention is that we've passed the peak in our nation's legendary supply of coal that powers over one-third of our grid capacity. This grim news is faithfully spelled out in three reports, with the complete story told in Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves (pdf). (Disclosure: I serve on CEA's board and have known the author for years.)

    Glustrom's research presents a sea change in how we should understand our energy challenges, or experience grim consequences. It's not only about toxic and heat-trapping emissions anymore; it's also about having enough energy generation to run big cities and regions that now rely on coal. Glustrom worries openly about how commerce will go on in many regions in 2025 if they don't plan their energy futures right.

    2013-11-05-FigureES4_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    Scrutinizing data for prices on delivered coal nationwide, Glustrom's new report establishes that coal's price has risen nearly 8 percent annually for eight years, roughly doubling, due mostly to thinner, deeper coal seams plus costlier diesel transport expenses. Higher coal prices in a time of "cheap" natural gas and affordable renewables means coal companies are lamed by low or no profits, as they hold debt levels that dwarf their market value and carry very high interest rates.

    2013-11-05-Table_ES2_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    2013-11-05-Figure_ES2_FULL.jpg

    One leading coal company, Patriot, filed for bankruptcy last year; many others are also struggling under bankruptcy watch and not eager to upgrade equipment for the tougher mining ahead. Add to this the bizarre event this fall of a coal lease failing to sell in Wyoming's Powder River Basin, the "Fort Knox" of the nation's coal supply, with some pundits agreeing this portends a tightening of the nation's coal supply, not to mention the array of researchers cited in the report. Indeed, at the mid point of 2013, only 488 millions tons of coal were produced in the U.S.; unless a major catch up happens by year-end, 2013 may be as low in production as 1993.

    Coal may exist in large quantities geologically, but economically, it's getting out of reach, as confirmed by US Geological Survey in studies indicating that less than 20 percent of US coal formations are economically recoverable, as explored in the CEA report. To Glustrom, that number plus others translate to 10 to 20 years more of burning coal in the US. It takes capital, accessible coal with good heat content and favorable market conditions to assure that mining companies will stay in business. She has observed a classic disconnect between camps of professionals in which geologists tend to assume money is "infinite" and financial analysts tend to assume that available coal is "infinite." Both biases are faulty and together they court disaster, and "it is only by combining thoughtful estimates of available coal and available money that our country can come to a realistic estimate of the amount of US coal that can be mined at a profit." This brings us back to her main and rather simple point: "If the companies cannot make a profit by mining coal they won't be mining for long."

    No one is more emphatic than Glustrom herself that she cannot predict the future, but she presents trend lines that are robust and confirmed assertively by the editorial board at West Virginia Gazette:

    Although Clean Energy Action is a "green" nonprofit opposed to fossil fuels, this study contains many hard economic facts. As we've said before, West Virginia's leaders should lower their protests about pollution controls, and instead launch intelligent planning for the profound shift that is occurring in the Mountain State's economy.

    The report "Warning, Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" and its companion reports belong in the hands of energy and climate policy makers, investors, bankers, and rate payer watchdog groups, so that states can plan for, rather than react to, a future with sea change risk factors.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    It bears mentioning that even China is enacting a "peak coal" mentality, with Shanghai declaring that it will completely ban coal burning in 2017 with intent to close down hundreds of coal burning boilers and industrial furnaces, or shifting them to clean energy by 2015. And Citi Research, in "The Unimaginable: Peak Coal in China," took a look at all forms of energy production in China and figured that demand for coal will flatten or peak by 2020 and those "coal exporting countries that have been counting on strong future coal demand could be most at risk." Include US coal producers in that group of exporters.

    Our world is undergoing many sorts of change and upheaval. We in the industrialized world have spent about a century dismissing ocean trash, overfishing, pesticides, nuclear hazard, and oil and coal burning with a shrug of, "Hey it's fine, nature can manage it." Now we're surrounded by impacts of industrial-grade consumption, including depletion of critical resources and tipping points of many kinds. It is not enough to think of only ourselves and plan for strictly our own survival or convenience. The threat to animals everywhere, indeed to whole systems of the living, is the grief-filled backdrop of our times. It's "all hands on deck" at this point of human voyaging, and in our nation's capital, we certainly don't have that. Towns, states and regions need to plan fiercely and follow through. And a fine example is Boulder Colorado's recent victory to keep on track for clean energy by separating from its electric utility that makes 59 percent of its power from coal.

    Clean Energy Action is disseminating "Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" for free to all manner of relevant professionals who should be concerned about long range trends which now include the supply risks of coal, and is supporting that outreach through a fundraising campaign.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    Author's note: Want to support my work? Please "fan" me at Huffpost Denver, here (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anne-butterfield). Thanks.

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    Anne's previous NewEnergyNews columns:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    Your intrepid reporter

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

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

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  • Wednesday, October 31, 2007

    THOUSANDS OF NEW JOBS IN NEW ENERGY

    Results from states with Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) provisions requiring utilities to obtain a percent of their electricity from renewables by a date certain strongly suggest that legislative mandates are the best way to incentivize New Energy development -- and the likely economic boon it would bring.

    Best of all: Utility prices are essentially unaffected, long term.


    Wind and Solar Energy: Renewable Energy to Create Thousands of New Jobs
    Melissa Monk, Ocotber 26, 2007 (Energy Policy TV via BusinessWire)

    WHO
    Rhone Resch, President, Solar Energy Industries Association; Randy Swisher, President, American Wind Energy Association, Energy Policy TV

    Solar energy is already providing new jobs all over the world and will continue to do so wherever the industry grows. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    In separate interviews at Energy Policy TV events, Resch and Swisher described the enormous economic benefits available if and/or when political leaders pass legislation incentivizing New Energy in ways similar to those it has in the past provided to fossil fuels and nuclear energy.

    WHEN
    - Resch expects 55,000 new jobs in the next 8 years from pending national energy legislation.
    - The wind energy industry is expected to grow 50% in 2007.

    WHERE
    - Resch stressed the importance of tax credit extensions for renewables in the pending energy bill.
    - Swisher stressed the importance of a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) in the pending energy bill to mandate development of renewables.

    WHY
    - Resch predicts 150,000 to 200,000 new jobs over the next ten years at solar energy’s present rate of growth.
    - The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) may create a training program for solar installation and maintenance.
    - New homes are being built with solar systems.
    - Governors and other state officials are lobbying wind energy providers and hardware manufacturers to establish businesses.
    - There are more than 6000 megawatts of new wind energy presently under construction in the US.

    Not only are there lots of jobs in the renewable energy industries, but they are good-paying, skilled jobs unlikely to be outsourced. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Resch: “Silicon Valley…is being renamed as ‘Solar Valley’ [because] those companies are making the transition over to solar as the next great high-tech growth industry and we have an opportunity to keep that industry here in the United States.”
    - Swisher: “[Wind energy] has been the second-largest contributor [of] new installed capacity behind gas for the last three years…[Future turbines, including a 7.5 megawatt machine is driving] towards the scaling up process.”

    EMISSIONS RISING

    This report documents the fact that while most of the worst case scenarios about the effects of global climate change are based on a 1.3%/year increase in GHG emissions, they have actually been rising at 3.3%/year since 2000.

    But the likely cause is even more troubling. Forests and oceans have always acted as carbon sinks for the earth, absorbing and processing the natural emissions of everything from termites to dinosaurs. Thanks to the added burden of human emissions, the carbon sinks are now being overwhelmed. The result is less absorption of GHGs and more in the air, trapping heat and creating climate change.

    Absent the world’s efforts over the last decade and a half, it could be worse. Absent more significant efforts by the most significant players (you know who you are, USA and China), it will get worse.


    World’s carbon dioxide emissions rising at alarming rate
    Doyle Rice, October 25, 2007 (USA Today)

    WHO
    Co-author Christopher Field, director, Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology in California; Co-author Josep Canadell, Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO); Co-author Thomas Conway, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Earth System Research Laboratory

    The oceans and forests of the world have always been carbon sinks, places that hold the emissions of organic life down. Now, the carbon sinks are becoming neutralized and the emissions are remaining in the atmosphere, trapping heat that makes climate change. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Humankind is producing carbon dioxide (CO2), the most well-known of the greenhouse gases (GHGs), faster than ever. The earth is not absorbing it fast enough. The carbon dioxide is measurably accumulating in the atmosphere. The result is climate change.

    WHEN
    - The new findings were published in the October 25 edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
    - CO2 emissions were 35% higher in 2006 than in 1990.
    - In the 1990s, CO2 emissions rose at 1.3%/year. In the 2000s, they have risen at 3.3%/year.

    WHERE
    Climate change is a global phenomenon. It is the result of GHG accumulation in the atmosphere. All regions will experience changes.

    WHY
    - Rising sea levels, more frequent heat waves and wildfires, and huge losses of ice in the Arctic and Antarctic have already been observed. These are harbingers of much more significant changes, expected to affect millions.
    - This study compared changes in annual fossil fuel emissions from 2000 to 2006.
    The study’s authors linked the growth in emissions with 2 factors: (1) economic growth is coming less with energy efficiency; and (2) natural “carbon sinks” in the earth’s forests and oceans have lost the capacity to absorb and process the amount of emissions generated.

    There are still things that can be done. Either humankind acts or suffers the consequences. It is time for New Energy. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Field, Carnegie Institute: "Carbon dioxide is rising at a much faster rate than before…In the 1990s, CO2 emissions increased by about 1.3% per year. Since 2000, the growth rate has been 3.3% per year…Our ability to become more carbon-efficient is declining, especially since 2000…We're no longer seeing progress in this area, which is probably a reflection of a large amount of coal coming into the power system."
    - Canadell, CSIRO: “[The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts we will have temperature increases of 3.2 to 7.1 degrees by the end of the century…we're well on the way to the higher temperature increase if the emissions keep going up at this rate."
    - Conway, NOAA: "Carbon sinks were keeping up with the increased emissions, but now they're not…"

    BUT WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THE WASTE?

    Nuclear energy does not emit climate change-inducing greenhouse gases and is not intermittent. On the other hand, it has enormous costs and radioactive waste problems that won’t go away for generations. About nuclear, it is really important to ask one simple question: Is this the infrastructure you want to build for your children and your children’s children?

    Starting right now and using the same resources, it is possible to construct another kind of infrastructure. Yes, there are still problems to be solved in New Energy, wind and solar and waves and biomass and geothermal. But there are problems to solve with any kind of energy. Especially, as this article proves, with nuclear.

    So, once again: What kind of infrastructure do you want to build for your children and your children’s children?


    Panel Urges End to Nuke Waste Proposal
    H. Josef Hebert, October 30, 2007 (AP)

    WHO
    A 17-member panel of the National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council

    Sticking it in a hole in the ground under a mountain in Nevada is what to do because somebody's got to do something with it. But is that the kind of energy infrastructure to go on building when there is a better choice? (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    The panel recommended the Bush administration abandon its Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) which would expand the use of nuclear energy to generate electricity. The panel concluded there were too many potential dangers in the GNEP plan.

    WHEN
    - The GNEP was signed by the Bush administration in early 2006.
    - The Panel’s recommendations were announced October 29.
    - The US has not involved itself in nuclear fuel reprocessing since the 1970s due to the risk of the plutonium being used for weapons proliferation.

    WHERE
    - The GNEP proposed that a small number of nuclear nations, including the US and Russia, reprocess spent fuel and supply it to other nuclear nations for reactor fuel.
    - Nuclear reprocessing continues in Europe and Japan.

    WHY
    - Reprocessing would partially solve the problem of what to do with massive amounts of nuclear waste that have accumulated in the last half century and will continue to accumulate from the use of nuclear energy for generating electricity. The waste will remain dangerously radioactive for decades, centuries and even thousands of centuries.
    - The panel found the GNEP depends on plans not adequately peer reviewed, reprocessing technology not yet proven or not yet ready for use (UREX). It also found GNEP was draining funds necessary for other areas of nuclear research as it rushed the creation of new nuclear power generation.
    - The panel expressed doubt the waste disposal issue in the US can be successfully resolved.
    - Congress has been reluctant to fully fund GNEP. The Bush administration asked for $395 million but only got $167 million. Long term costs: $20 billion to $40 billion.
    - DOE claims UREX will resolve costs and problems with waste disposal. The panel disagreed and urged DOE to take up "Nuclear Power 2010" to identify new nuclear plant sites and ready a new generation of light water reactors.

    Even when the fuel cycle is closed, there is waste to dispose of.

    QUOTES
    - Panel: "All committee members agree that the GNEP program should not go forward and that it should be replaced by a less aggressive research program…[If GNEP proceeds as planned there will be] significant technical and financial risks."
    - Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman: “[GNEP] represents the future of global nuclear power cooperation…[and will] allow for a greater global reliance on civilian nuclear power to produce the electricity needed…"
    - Dennis Spurgeon, assistant secretary for nuclear energy, DOE: “[Most panel members accept the need to] close the fuel cycle…[though conclusions were] a misconception of the (GNEP) program…[DOE] fully recognizes the complexity and time needed. ... We are talking about something that will, in fact, take decades to develop."

    BIOREFINERY IN KENTUCKY INCLUDES ALGAE

    Alltech’s plans include growing algae for biofuel. Algae produce a biocrude with all the flexibility and ease of transport that petroleum crude has and a thousand or more times the land-use and water-use efficiency of any other biofuel.

    Alltech to build biorefinery in Springfield
    Karla Ward, October 25, 2007 (Kentucky Herald-Leader)

    WHO
    Alltech Biotechnology (Pearse Lyons, president/founder); Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher)

    Schematic: The fascinatingly multidimensional possibilities of a biorefinery. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Alltech will build and operate a community biorefinery for the processing of biomass into biofuels.

    WHEN
    - The biorefinery will break ground in February 2008 and begin operations 14 months later.
    - This will be the 1st switchgrass/biomass refinery in the US and the 1st of Alltech’s planned 5-6 biorefineries.

    WHERE
    - Alltech headquarters is on Catnip Hill Pike in Nicholasville, Kentucky.
    - The 1st Alltech biorefinery, chosen from among 5 potential sites, will be in Springfield, Kentucky, where Alltech already has a plant.

    WHY
    - The biorefinery is expected to cost $40 million and provide 93 jobs.
    - It will process cellulose (switch grass, corncobs, stalks, leaves, etc.) into biofuels like ethanol and other refined products.
    - The plant will get an $8 million Incentives for Energy Independence Act package from the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority including a sales tax refund, a state income tax wage reduction and a credit against state income taxes.
    - Alltech intends to use plant lands for beef and dairy cattle and commercial fish farming. The animal waste will be processed at the biorefinery into biofuels.
    - Finally, Alltech will develop algae for biofuels with an estimated annual 5,000 gallons/acre output. The algae will be used to filter carbon dioxide emissions.

    Schematic: a bioreactor for the processing of algae into biofuels. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Lyons, Alltech: "We are not Silicon Valley…We have to focus on our agriculture bases…The first is not the last…We see this as just one of many…Imagine Kentucky becoming not just the horse capital of the world but the algae capital of the world…"
    - Gov. Fletcher: "It's exactly what we wanted to happen as we developed our energy initiative three years ago…"
    - Kentucky Judge-Executive John Settles: "I don't see how we can lose…"

    Tuesday, October 30, 2007

    BUSH’S BODMAN BACKS MANDATES FOR NEW ENERGY

    Make no mistake: NewEnergyNews is keenly aware that Bodman's shilling for ethanol and E-85 is misguided. But even Bodman knows that. On the subject of alternative fuels, he was quick to hedge his bet: "There is no one silver bullet here…We have to pursue a broad range of tactics."

    But more significantly, by acknowledging the value of legislative mandates for renewable vehicle fuels, Bodman took away a big argument traditionally used by Republicans in general and the Bush administration in particular against the national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES). The RES is a mandate in the currently pending Congressional energy bill that requires US utilities to obtain 15% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Bodman admitted that sometimes a mandate is necessary: "Sure, I'd like to get things done without mandates…[But they have proven to be a requirement in order to get a lot of these things done more effectively…"

    Is anybody going to take this to the fight over the national RES?


    Federal Energy Secretary Says Mandates May Be Needed
    Blake Nicholson, October 29, 2007 (AP via Yahoo Finance)

    WHO
    Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., Mike Rud, president, North Dakota Petroleum Marketers Association

    Some choices are definitely better than others. And 2 of the best choices, plug-in hybrids and biocrude from algae, are off the chart good. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    - In what may represent a huge break with the Bush administration’s previous position, Bodman acknowledged that legislative mandates may be necessary to spur growth in New Energy.
    - At the same energy conference, Dorgan announced legislation co-sponsored by Lugar mandating refineries to produce 36 billion gallons of biofuels/year by 2022 and automakers to manufacture 80% flex-fuel vehicles by 2015.

    WHEN
    The Dorgan-Lugar legislation supports President Bush’s call for the US to cut petroleum-derived fuels 20% by 2017.

    WHERE
    The energy conference was in Bismarck, North Dakota.

    WHY
    - It is hard to create momentum big enough to achieve the goals President Bush and other leaders call for without a legislative mandate guaranteeing businesses there will be a market for what they produce if they make the investments in new capacity. This principle applies to fuels as well as electricity. Both require large capital outlays for the building of infrastructure before producers can obtain returns. Mandates guarantee minimum markets and promises of returns.
    - Presently, the US has 6 million vehicles flex-fuel vehicles but only 2% of the nation’s gas stations sell E-85. Building more E-85 pumps would increase sales but it will cost a lot for stations to do so. The Dorgan-Lugar legislation would incentivize the creation of that infrastructure as well as pipelines and storage facilities to handle E-85.
    - E-85 pumps cost gas stations $80,000 - $150,000 and E-85 gives less miles/gallon.

    Here the President and Secretary Bodman examine a plug-in hybrid. Did Bodman, in doing the President's bidding on ethanol, undercut the administration's argument against a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES)? (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Bodman: "Sure, I'd like to get things done without mandates…[But they have proven to be a requirement in order to get a lot of these things done more effectively…"
    - Rud: "Rather than a tax credit, (gas stations) would love to see some upfront money…Tax credits are of really no value to many of our marketers in North Dakota. We're not making money at the pumps. What would better suit our industry ... is something to help offset the (installation) cost…Right now, consumer demand is not there for the product…"

    INDIA WIND EXEC IS GLOBAL HERO

    It is hard to overstress how inspiring to its nation Suzlon is.

    Wind is energy of the future: other ‘green hero’
    October 24, 2007 (Indian Express via Yahoo News India)

    WHO
    Tulsi Tanti, Chairman/Managing Director, Suzlon Energy

    Tulsi Tanti, at home on the road to the future.

    WHAT
    Named by Time Magazine a “Global Hero”, Tanti took the opportunity to advocate the institution in India of a long-term uniform regulatory process for renewable energies.

    WHEN
    Tanti was named a “Global Hero” in Time’s October 29 issue.

    WHERE
    Suzlon’s world headquarters is in Pune’s Koregaon Park.

    WHY
    - Suzlon is the world’s 4th largest wind tubine manufacturer. It began with the purchase of 2 turbines for its textile business in the 1990s. It sold the textile business and dedicated itself to wind turbine manufacture in 2001.
    - Tanti is one of Time’s "Heroes of Environment," along with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Al Gore, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Prince Charles of Wales and former Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev. Time said each had worked to address the pressing questions of sustainability.

    Suzlon has led India to world leadership in wind energy development. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    Tanti: "Yes, green business is good business. But it's not just about making money. It's about being responsible."

    KETTLE CHIPS GETS GOLD MEDAL FOR GREEN BUILDING

    This new factory is an impressive example of what can be done when the commitment to what is really important is there.

    Kettle Chips Wins Leeds Gold With Wind, Sod And More
    Paul Schaefer, October 25, 2007 (Environmental News Network)

    WHO
    Kettle Foods of North America (Tim Fallon, president); The U.S. Green Building Council/Wisconsin Green Building Alliance (Connie Lindholm, Executive Director); Aerovironment

    A habitable public space in the new Kettle Foods plant. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    The new Kettle Foods plant was awarded the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold level certification as the greenest food manufacturing plant in the U.S.

    WHEN
    - Kettle was founded in 1978. The award-winning plant is presently operational.
    - 2006: Kettle Foods offset 100% of its annual electricity use with renewable wind power.

    WHERE
    - Beloit, Wisconsin
    - Kettle Foods all-natural Kettle™ brand Potato Chips account for nearly half the growth in the potato chip category.

    WHY
    - The award recognizes a commitment to minimizing the factory’s environmental footprint and creating a great work environment for employees with the best possible physical space and indoor air quality.
    - The new 73,000 square foot potato chip facility: 18 wind turbines on the factory’s roof and other wind to offset 100% of electricity use, filtering and reusing 1.65 potato wash water, premium, high efficiency equipment to cut natural gas/electricity use, recycling cooking oil into biodiesel, 5 acres of native prairie land restoration, obtaining 35 percent of building materials from within 500 miles of the building site, Green Seal building material and extensive fresh air ventilation, natural light and outdoor views for all workers
    - One of the unique features of the Kettle Foods award-winning facility is the Architectural Wind installation from California-based Aerovironment. The brilliantly designed and configured miniturbines atop the Kettle building do for wind energy what the photovoltaic panel did for solar energy.

    Architectural Wind, situated on the Kettle Foods factory to generate free, renewable energy and advertise sustainability to all passersby. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Fallon: “Investing in green building was a conscious decision on our part to demonstrate our values in a very tangible way…Our employees have always encouraged us to look at ways to minimize our impact on the environment – from rooftop solar power panels to biodiesel fuel from our used cooking oil. Sustainable initiatives are business as usual at Kettle Foods.”
    - Lindholm, Wisconsin Green Building: “Kettle Foods is setting a new standard for sustainable food manufacturing in the U.S…It’s demonstrating through action a commitment to the environment that goes far deeper than its leadership in the natural food industry. We hope other businesses look to Kettle Foods as an inspiration for their own facilities.”
    - Fallon: “Our factory is a great place to come to work. Nine out of 10 employees have access to daylight views throughout the facility, and the break room area occupies the best real estate in the building…”

    US UTILITY SELLS ITSELF TO AUSSIES FOR NEW ENERGY FUNDING

    Will the name Macquarie soon mean the same thing in the energy world that the name Murdoch means in the media world? When will US investors see the big bottom line in New Energy investments?

    Read about Puget Sound Energy's pioneering development of synergistic solar and wind installations
    : WIND AND SOLAR TOGETHER IN WASHINGTON STATE

    Need for cash spurs Puget Energy deal
    Drew DeSilver, October 27, 2007 (Seattle Times)

    WHO
    Puget Sound Energy (Steve Reynolds, CEO), Macquarie Infrastructure Partners’s consortium

    Puget Sound Energy's portfolio of sources. But Washington state, 4th in the US in wind energy production, can make more New Energy and now will with Macquarie's deep pockets for development of infrastrucutre, (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Puget Sound Energy’s parent company was acquired by the Macquarie consortium so as to fund new power plants and equipment. The consortium paid $30/share, a 25.3 percent premium over the stock price, driving Puget Sounds stock price higher than it has been since December 2000.

    WHEN
    - The complex deal allows Puget Sound until Dec. 10 to get better offers. Already approved by Puget Energy's board, it won’t be complete until the second half of 2008 because it requires approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the state Utilities and Transportation Commission.
    - Successful in 2006 ($219.2 million earnings on $2.9 billion revenue), Puget Energy has struggled over the past five years.

    WHERE
    - Macquarie is Austalian. The consortium includes three big Canadian pension funds, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, British Columbia Investment Management Corp. and Alberta Investment Management.
    - It took control of Pittsburgh's Duquesne Light Holdings this year and owns parts of Aquarion, a New England water utility, as well as a wireless tower operator, two Canadian port terminals and five U.S. and Canadian toll roads.
    - Puget Sound Energy has 1 million+ electric customers and 721,000+ natural-gas customers in the Puget Sound region.
    - The company will remain headquartered in Bellevue, Washington.

    WHY
    - The medium-sized utility required major capital infusion for its plans to build 10 wind farms and 10 gas-fired power plants in the next decade. It anticipated difficulties raising enough money in public markets to fund these ambitious plans.
    - Though this may be a long term loss of revenue for the state, experts blame regulators for preventing Puget Sound Energy’s plans to develop in a way that would provide profits from new plants and equipment.

    PSE's natural gas infrastructure is as valuable an asset as the affluent and diverse region the utility serves. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Reynolds, who remain as Puget Sound Energy’s head: "We need reliable access to capital, not just for the next couple of years, but over the long term…[The consortium] will have the patience, risk tolerance and sophistication to work with us to provide capital, steward our investments, and spur the innovation necessary to meet our energy challenges now and in the future…If you don't continue to spend, you find yourself in catch-up mode the way we are with roads and bridges…We think there's a better model than constantly going back to the capital markets year after year."
    - Jim Bellessa, utility analyst: "When regulators do not allow a utility to get an adequate return on investment, the capital goes elsewhere…"

    Monday, October 29, 2007

    CARBON CAPS: TRICKY; CARBON TAX: TREAT?

    These editorials make the case for using a tax over a cap-and-trade system to control US emissions but skim over 2 important points. First, raising taxes is never politically popular so the perfect in this case may be the enemy of the good.

    Second, the failures of the EU system may not be as significant as the editorials indicate. That system was designed to discover and work out flaws as much as to produce emissions reductions. Only the next round’s results will reveal the system’s success. And whatever flaws in cap-and-trade systems the EU discovered and continues to discover can only help to make the US system stronger.

    What the editorials do make as clear as the Monitor’s preference for the tax is that the tax has its complexities, too.


    A tax on carbon to cool the planet
    and
    Be wary of complex carbon caps
    Editorials, October 25/26, 2007 (Christian Science Monitor)

    WHO
    Conservative and liberal economists (James Connaughton, Al Gore, World Resources Institute); Politicians (Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn), John Warner (R-Vir)

    There are certainly aspects of the tax which make it simpler than introducing a whole trading system, but that does not mean finding the right tax point is a simple matter. And this graph does not include the matter of allocating revenues. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    - Two methods of controlling climate change-inducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, a tax and a cap-and-trade system, are compared in editorials.
    - World Resources Institute: A $15/ton tax of carbon-dioxide emissions doubles the cost for coal use and raises gasoline prices ~13 cents a gallon (~5%). Natural-gas prices rise less than 7 %. Net result: 12% emissions decrease.
    - The Lieberman/Warner cap-and-trade proposal cuts US emissions 63% (from 2005 levels) by 2050. Environmentalist advocate for 80% (from 1990 levels) cut.

    WHEN
    The US Congress is expected to act soon.

    WHERE
    - A tax would cover all uses of oil, coal and natural gas.
    - The Lieberman/Warner cap-and-trade proposal would focus on emissions in the transportation, electric generation, and manufacturing sectors.

    An Energy Information Administration (EIA) analysis of a cap-and-trade system using a phased permit auction shows it would not be expected to cause an increase in consumer electricity prices. (click to enlarge)

    WHY
    - Tax PRO:
    Economists favor the tax. It is more direct. Lawmakers prefer cap-and-trade. It does not directly impose costs.
    Connaughton, President Bush's top environmental adviser, backs the tax. Gore says he's always preached it.
    Taxes are direct. The cost of emissions is known.
    - Tax CON:
    Polls show voters opposed to taxes but rebates of the tax revenues (18% to those earning less than $20,000, 4% at $90,000 earnings) reduces the tax’s burdens while maintaining the incentive to cut emissions and convert to renewables.
    - Cap-and-trade PRO:
    Caps guarantee limits on emission increases. One business can only exceed its limits if another sells “permits” for doing so. Severe fines would prevent violating this. Lieberman/Warner will cap a company’s emissions and issue permits for a certain amount. Initially, permits will be free. Later, they will be auctioned, creating a trading market in permits incentivizing emission reductions. If a company example: coal-fired power plant) needs high emissions, it buys permits. A company that has invested in clean tech and therefore has lower emissions can sell credits to pay off its investment and reward its choice. Theoretically, emissions are reduced by the free operation of the marketplace and freely made choices by businesses using their own strategies.
    - Cap-and-trade CON:
    Europe's cap-and-trade system handed out far too many free permits, causing their value to fall from $30+/ton to $1/ton, making the incentive ineffective. Many industries hit by caps moved production outside the EU, polluting elsewhere. Even proponents of the 160 country Kyoto Protocol system set up in 1997 agree its carbon-cutting results have been unimpressive though Phase 2 (2008-2012) will close loopholes.

    The same EIA study showed an expectation of decreased emissions from a cap-and-trade system over the long run, despite recent short term failures in the European ETS. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    The Monitor explains why the carbon tax vs. cap-and-trade debate is important: "Economists agree that the real cost of burning fossil fuels – damage to the environment and health, not to mention the cost of replacing them as they run out – isn't reflected in today's prices… In most uses, traditional fossil fuels (oil and coal) are still far more abundant and inexpensive than cleaner alternatives (solar, wind, etc.), although their prices don't reflect environmental and health damages."

    POLL: 62% WANT NEW ENERGY

    Rasmussen: “Seventy-seven percent (77%) of Americans are following recent news stories about oil prices at least somewhat closely.” That’s more than are watching “Dancing With The Stars.”

    62% Say Develop Alternative Sources of Energy, 12% Favor Conservation
    October 25, 2007 (Rasmussen Reports via Yahoo News)

    WHO
    Rasmussen Reports, 1000 US adults

    A different poll from earlier this year shows Americans continue to prefer control of emissions and the development of New Energy to more oil drilling or nuclear expansion. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Rasmussen published findings from a survey on US attitudes about energy.

    WHEN
    - The survey was conducted October 21-22, 2007
    - A survey from 2006 found that 44% of Americans believed most new cars sold 10 years out would be hybrids.

    WHERE
    The survey was national and conducted by telephone.

    WHY
    - Rising oil prices means possible new attitudes about energy.
    - From the survey: “62% of Americans believe that the best way to meet the country's future energy needs is to develop alternative sources of energy…20% think that finding more sources of oil is the best way to meet future energy needs…12% believe that conservation is the right strategy.”
    - Also: “…78% of those surveyed think…it very likely that heating oil prices will increase this winter.”
    - And: “…68% think it…at least somewhat likely that gasoline prices will reach $4 per gallon by next summer.”

    Yet another survey from early last year shows Americans want New Energy more than any other choice. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    Rasmussen: “The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.”

    ENERGY VAMPIRE FIGHTING

    Just in time for Halloween, here’s how you can put a stake through the heart of wasted energy and do anther little bit in the fight against something scarier than ghosts and goblins, climate change.

    Slaying the Energy Vampires
    Eileen Gunn, October 25, 2007 (The Street)

    WHO
    Energy Vampires, The Cornell University Cooperative Extension, The TerraPass blog, Ecogeek.org

    Would this make a good Halloween costume? Or would everybody recognize you right away?

    WHAT
    Energy Vampires gadgets and appliances that use power even when they're turned off, upping utility bills and generating greenhouse gases. The typical home has 20 Energy Vampires, 13% of this author’s bill.

    WHEN
    Home electronics use 75% of their total electricity consumption WHILE THEY ARE TURNED OFF!

    WHERE
    - Homes and offices.
    - Low tech Vampire-spotter (from The TerraPass blog): Items that feel warm when not in use are wasting power.
    - High tech Vampire-spotter: Kill-A-Watt EZ, an electricity usage calculator.

    WHY
    - Kill-A-Watt is easy to use, costs $60 online.
    - IPod, cordless phone and cell phone chargers don’t consume much.
    - Cable box uses the same amount of energy on or off. TV guzzles power in standby. DVD player uses 50% as much energy off as when used. Printer uses 88% of energy when off as when on. Plugged-in laptop uses as much energywhether charging or not. Desktop costs nearly $15/month on standby.
    - High Tech solution: “Wholehouse Switch” (see Ecogeek.org) at front door. Costs $1100. Takes $30/month savings to pay off in 3 years.

    The Kill-A-Watt EZ.

    QUOTES
    Author: “For a lower-tech and lower-cost approach, do what my husband and I did: We've taken our [router and cable modem], which cost $2.61 a month combined when left running perpetually, and put them on a power strip that we turn off when we go away. We'll do the same for the TV, DVD and cable box -- and no more leaving the TV on standby…Turning off the power strips in our home offices when we go away can't hurt either. More important, we'll be turning off our computers and printers at night. And we won't leave our cell-phones and laptops dangling on their power cords for hours after they're recharged.”

    CHINA AND $90 OIL

    China/energy analyst: "(The rise in prices) has been absorbed step-by-step from $60 to $70 to now $80 and $90. I would be very surprised to see China's oil demand fundamentally affected up to $100…"

    Why China Can Withstand $90 a Barrel Oil – And Higher
    David Winning and Natalie Obiko Pearson, October 19, 2007 (Dow Jones Newswires via RigZone)

    WHO
    The Chinese government (Zhu Zhixin, vice-minister, National Development and Reform Commission); Chinese oil companies (China National Offshore Oil Corp. Ltd., PetroChina Co.); Simon Wardell, London energy analyst, Global Insight; International Energy Agency (IEA); Keun-Wook Paik, China/energy expert, Chatham House

    Oil closed over $90/barrel on Friday. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    China is better positioned than most other nations to withstand the rising price of oil without sacrificing growth due to 2 factors: (1) government subsidies to consumers financed by windfall taxes on its oil companies for all oil over $40/barrel, and (2) $1.43 trillion in reserves from booming exports.

    WHEN
    China is expected with certainty to maintain its policies in the face of rising oil prices thru the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Most analysts believe the government will not let growth flag afterwards either.

    WHERE
    The cost of oil is an international matter. China’s ability to resist its negative impact comes from its booming exports to the US and Europe. It also offsets the problem buying cheaper oil from places like The Sudan as well as drawing heavily on its own domestic supplies of coal.

    WHY
    - China’s foreign exchange reserves totaled $1.43 trillion at the end of September.
    - The IEA said Beijing will do whatever is necessary to sustain demand and maintain stability.
    - The dollar's weakness makes oil cheaper in other currencies.
    - China’s yuan, is set to the dollar but lower dollar rates stimulates China's export market.
    - Only about 10% of China energy comes from imported oil (3.3 million barrels/day). And less traditional sources (50.5 million barrels from The Sudan, January-August 2007) are cheaper. (Sudan Dar Blend is acidic and therefore cheaper than the sweet crudes required by US customers.)
    - One problem: China has only amassed 21 days of reserves (OECD countries: 53.5 days). And high prices are making it too expensive to expand strategic reserves quickly, leaving China vulnerable to supply disruption.

    This trend has been some time in developing and China is ready to deal with it. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Simon Wardell, analyst: "There will be at some point a limit to [windfall taxes] unless (the companies) get additional funds from the Chinese government…"
    - IEA monthly oil market report: "The Chinese government will most likely do the utmost to keep the economy growing, through heterodox means if necessary…[Talk of rolling back subsidies or imposing a fuel tax on consumers] should probably not be taken at face value…"
    - Zhu Zhixin, Chinese planner: High oil prices "may encourage enterprises that use a large amount of oil to adopt energy-saving measures and reduce emissions to increase efficiency and economic returns…"
    - Keun-Wook Paik, Chatham House: "It has become very expensive to fill up those reserves…The Chinese government will sooner or later start to express their anxiety about the high oil price."

    Sunday, October 28, 2007

    BRAND NEW SUN IN ISRAEL

    The genius of this concept is not so much in having invented something new as in having put together a variety of elements in a simple, streamlined system. Only real-world installations will prove its practicality and durability, especially because it has moving parts. But the device is modular, manageable – and its 79% efficiency (from combining heat energy and solar electricity) sets the bar pretty high for competing systems.

    Distributed Solar Power (Di. S.P.) – Delivering affordable solar energy

    WHO
    Distributed Solar Power Ltd. (Di.S.P.) (Dr. Danny Kaftori, Cofounder/CEO, Professor Abraham Kribus, Cofounder/CTO)

    The module. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    A unique concept in solar energy, a miniature concentrating photovoltaic (MCPV) unit that captures and concentrates the sun’s light and heat to generate electricity.

    WHEN
    - The system is in development. A pilot system is under construction.
    - It is constructed from inexpensive, off-the-shelf and easy to manufacture components. It is easily transported and assembled.
    - The company was founded in 2004.

    What a rooftop installation would look like. (click to enlarge)

    WHERE
    - Di.S.P. is based in Migdal HaEmek, Israel. Sun is one of the things Israelis know well. The system was developed as a result of work done at Tel Aviv University.
    - Di.S.P.’s concept is to have a rooftop filled with the small, durable, easy-to-maintain MCPV units.
    - Direct insolation (900 watts/sq meter) is expected to produce 200 watts of solar electricity and 400 watts of thermal power.
    - In areas of good insolation like the southwestern US, Spain, Italy, Australia and parts of China the cost could be 79% lower than utility energy prices, about 15 times better than flat panel photovoltaic systems.

    WHY
    - The system has 4 components: (1) a support/tracker system with 2 motors and transmissions for 2-axis tracking of the sun; (2) a glass reflector that concentrates sunlight at a focal point; (3) an array of photovoltaic cells and a heat absorbing plate at the focal point; (4) a control subsystem.
    - Di.S.P. produces the highest levels of efficiency possible from solar cells (28-35% with 45% cells expected in 2007) and increases that efficiency to 78% by capturing and transforming the sun’s heat as well.
    - The tracking system allows maximum performance throughout the day by keeping the energy at the system’s focal point coming from the most direct possible sun.
    - A typical system of 100 MCPV units would require 350 sq meters of roof space and generate 20 kilowatts of solar electricity plus 40 kilowatts of thermal energy.
    - Di.S.P. calculates the solar electricity cost to be $1.50 to $1.75/watt and when the thermal energy is factored in the cost comes down to $0.90/watt.

    The efficiency over flat plate photovoltaics that comes from combining energies is impressive.

    QUOTES
    - Kaftori: “I have been involved in solar energy research and product development for over 12 years…I became aware of the adverse environmental impact of the oil economy, global warming, and pollution, and decided to try to do something about it…”
    - Kaftori: “…coming from Israel, a sunny country with little other energy resources, has made me aware of the potential and the need…”
    - Kaftori” “Di.S.P. can serve most aspects of the solar energy market because it provides two energy products (i.e., electricity and heat) with very high efficiency. It will be very economical…”

    RUSSIA SELLS SAND TO CHINA FOR SUN

    Silicon is derived from sand but requires sophisticated chemical processing. The worldwide silicon shortage is showing hints of easing as more players enter the field to service superproductive solar panel manufacturers like Trina and more veteran players, like the 7-decade-old Russian firm Nitol, build new facilities to expand their capacities.

    Trina Solar Signs Long-Term Supply Agreement with Nitol Group
    October 24, 2007 (PR Newswire via CNNMoney)

    WHO
    Trina Solar Ltd (Jifan Gao, CEO), Nitol Group (Dmitry Kotenko, CEO)

    Both the red and lite blue n- and p-type semiconductors are commonly made from silicon. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Trina signed a 5-year deal for the purchase of enough virgin polysilicon from Nitol to produce solar panels capable of generating 200 megawatts of solar energy.

    WHEN
    The deal officially requires delivery by Nitol beginning in 2009 but allows purchase by Trina of unallocated Nitol supplies in 2008.

    WHERE
    Trina, listed on the NYSE, is based in Changzou, China, and has customers in Germany, Spain and Italy. Nitol Group is based in Moscow and its production facility is in the Irkutsk region of Russia.

    WHY
    - Nitol is a Russian chemical company currently producing trichlorosilane (the principal source of pure silicon) and is building a polysilicon facility.
    - Before this deal,, Trina had secured 60% of its 2008 polysilicon needs.
    - Trina’s focus is on the production of monocrystalline ingots, wafers and cells for assembly into solar panel modules.
    - Nitol’s focus is entirely on manufacture: trichlorosilane in the presence of hydrogen produces hydrogen chloride and silicon or trichlorosilane in water produces silicone and hydrochloric acid.

    The process by which a silicon wafer becomes a solar cell and then a solar panel. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Jifan Gao, Trina: ''The cooperation with Nitol will enhance our production capabilities in the coming years and further our expansion goals…Trina Solar has a great deal of confidence in the success of Nitol's polysilicon production capabilities, as Nitol has the potential to become one of the top global manufacturers of polysilicon.''
    - Dmitry Kotenko: ''The Nitol team is very pleased to work with Trina Solar as a long-term partner…Trina Solar is one of the leaders in the PV industry due to its vertically integrated business model and its experienced management team and we intend to grow our business more rapidly with Trina Solar as a customer.''

    GERMANY TO FUND CHILE’S NEW ENERGY

    Chile’s parliament will reportedly commit the country to obtaining 8% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. US Republican Senators say there are southeastern US states that cannot commit to obtaining 15% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Can they commit to matching Chile? (Does Tennessee need funding from Germany too?)

    Germany to support Chilean renewable energy efforts
    Paula Leighton, October 22, 2007 (Science and Development Network)

    WHO
    The German government, the Chilean government (Marcelo Tokman, minister of energy), International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)

    The idea behind Germany's International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) project.

    WHAT
    - Germany will invest US$126 million in Chilean renewable energy & energy efficiency research. The first US$11.5 million is donation while the US$114.5 million is a loan.
    - Chile will also become a founder country in Germany’s International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) intiative to promote worldwide development of renewable energy sources (solar, wind, biomass, wave/tide/current).

    WHEN
    - The agreement was made October 10.
    - Chile’s first wind energy installation is expected to be tied into its national grid by the end of 2007.

    WHERE
    Chile’s current research is in geothermal, solar and wind energies, especially in remote areas. Its research projects are largely state subsidized.

    WHY
    - IRENA will promote the development of renewables and support research in, planning in and technology transfer to developing countries. The German funding will be very helpful.
    - Chile’s National Commission of Energy expects the country to move from its present 2 megawatts of wind energy to 100+ megawatts by 2010. The German funding will be very helpful.
    - Chile’s parliament is presently considering a bill that would move Chile’s renewable-sourced electricity from its present 2.4% to 8% by 2020. The German funding will be very helpful.

    An experimental wind turbine serving a rural Chilean village. The German funding will spur efforts like this on.

    QUOTES
    Tokman, Chile: "The invitation to become a member of [IRENA] is a recognition of the work the government is doing to boost sustainable energy development in Chile by promoting non-conventional renewable energies and energy efficiency…"

    JAPAN BUSINESS LEADER WANTS CARBON TAX

    In Japan, the world’s 2nd largest economy, what westerners call a “carbon tax” is called an “environment tax.” The only thing inscrutable about that is why everybody else uses the wrong name for it.

    But given the fact that US politicians argue both that a tax is the most effective weapon against emissions and politically unachievable, questions about the way it is named are secondary.


    Japan Should Levy Carbon Tax For Emissions, Business Lobby Says
    Shigeru Sato, October 17, 2007 (Bloomberg)

    WHO
    Masamitsu Sakurai, head, the Keizai Doyukai (Japanese Association of Corporate Executives) & chairman, Ricoh Co.; Petroleum Association of Japan

    Where the emissions come from in Japan, 1. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Sakurai called for a carbon tax in Japan to help control greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In response, the Petroleum Association said a carbon tax is an unnecessary burden on the economy and the government should ask voluntary measures of businesses.

    WHEN
    A carbon tax was originally proposed by the Keizai Doyukai in January 2006.

    WHERE
    The tax would apply to fossil fuels in a effort to push the country toward its Kyoto Protocol goals.

    WHY
    - The carbon tax was proposed by Keizai Doyukai as part of a broad tax reform.
    - Nippon Oil Co. and other Japanese refiners said the tax would curb growth.
    - The country’s environment ministry would levy the tax on petroleum products: 2400 yen ($21)/ton of emissions for homes using kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas for cooking and heating. Factories would be taxed for coal, heavy fuel oil and natural gas.
    - Half of the Japanese gas pump price (currently 145 yen/liter) is tax. This includes an oil and gas taxation, a consumption taxation and a gasoline taxation.

    Where emissions come from in Japan, 2. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Sakurai, for Keizai Doyukai: ``The country needs such an environment tax…We need higher rates of the carbon tax to be imposed on goods and services.''
    - Statement, Petroleum Association of Japan: ``A carbon tax would be an unnecessary burden on Japan's economy…The government needs to find measures that prompt private companies to voluntarily step up efforts to reduce emission volumes.''

    Saturday, October 27, 2007

    MIT Algae Photobioreactor

    Alan Alda brings his special touch to talking about a whole new kind of biofuel.

    Al Gore on stopping global warming

    Friday, October 26, 2007

    MRS. HUTCHISON OF TEXAS: OBSTACLE TO ENERGY BILL

    The provisions in the House version of the energy bill Senator Hutchison is concerned with remove protections from taxation of domestic and foreign oil and gas income. The protections were provided long ago to incentivize fossil fuel production when oil prices were low or unpredictable. The protections were sustained by a Republican Congress in the 2005 energy bill.

    House Democrats would shift some of those incentives to producers of renewable energy. In lieu of a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) mandating that US utilities obtain a specified percent of their electricity from renewables by a date certain, House Democrats might settle for broad tax incentives and tax credit extensions for renewables. But that takes money. Senator Hutchison doesn't want it coming out of the pockets of her constituents in the oil and gas industry.


    Texas Senator Blocks House-Senate Energy Conference
    Ben Genman, October 24, 2007 (E&E Daily via RigZone)

    WHO
    Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif), Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas)

    The Energy Bill has reached the black square at the center of the diagram labelled CONFERENCE COMMITTEE. Above is President Bush's veto. Below is his approval. What is not shown is the myriad of complications and convolutions politicians can create before the bill gets past the conference process. The diagram also does not show how much party loyalists might want to keep an issue unsettled as a campaign cause. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Hutchison admitted she is blocking Reid’s efforts to bring congress to conference on the energy bill until she is satisfied billions of dollars in incentives to oil and gas producers are protected.

    WHEN
    Hutchison’s acknowledgement of her role came October 23.

    WHERE
    Hutchison is fighting provisions in the House version of the energy bill which the Senate rejected.

    WHY
    - Huitchison is rumored to be planning a run for the Texas governorship and whould therefore need the support of the industry interests she is protecting.
    - The House energy bill provisions remove more than $11 billion in tax cuts to oil and gas producers over 10 years.
    - Reid announced last week he would be trying to put together a conference on the energy bill to work out differences between the House and Senate versions.
    - A compromise on auto fuel efficiency standards was reportedly reached last week.
    - Speaker Pelosi has said she will proceed without a conference. Senate Majority Leader Reid says there will be an energy bill "...one way or another."

    Senator Hutchison with Mrs. Bush and Senator Feinstein (D-Calif). Will Hutchison's stand against New Energy win her the Texas Governorship?

    QUOTES
    - Hutchison: "I am very concerned about pieces of the legislation, and I am holding it up right now…It is discrimination against one industry, and I also think it is coming at a time when we all know we need more refinery capacity…I am not saying I will keep a hold on it forever, because I will listen to those who think it will be better to have input in the bill, but at this point, I don't see a clear advantage to going to conference with this kind of stacked deck…"
    - Cornyn: "The concern is, of course, if we don't go to conference it will be ping-ponged back and forth across the rotunda, and we won't have any inputs on it… The fact of the matter is if it contains the tax provisions and perhaps other provisions the president is going to veto it anyway…"

    BERZERKELEY TO FINANCE SOLAR

    This is a really substantial idea and NewEnergyNews expects it to spread to many other municipalities, increasing home solar energy installations dramatically.

    Everyone agrees solar is the homeowner's path to clean energy but everyone also agrees the cost, especially the upfront cost, is the obstacle. This could be the breakthrough. And, perhaps most exciting, this would open the door to all kinds of opportunities involving plug-in hybrid vehicles and V2G technology


    Berkeley could pay upfront for solar; Proposal to be presented to Council Nov. 6 would have homeowners repay costs through property tax
    Doug Oakley, October 24, 2007 (Contra Costa Times)

    WHO
    Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, Bates Chief of Staff Cisco DeVries, Dan Kammen, director, UC Berkeley Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory

    No one doubts the sun shines bright on the Berkeley hills.

    WHAT
    Mayor Bates will introduce the Sustainable Energy Financing District measure for consideration by the Berkeley City Council. The measure would have the city pay upfront costs for home solar installations with the homeowners repaying the cost, with interest, by add-ons to property taxes.

    WHEN
    The measure will be introduced November 6. If approved, it should be operational by mid or late 2008.

    WHERE
    Berzerkley, CA. The City Council must first approve the financial aspect of the plan and then the legal aspects.

    WHY
    - The biggest obstacle to solar system installation for most homeowners is the large upfront cost. This plan eliminates that problem.
    - The city would get its operating capital from bank and financial institution loans but interest rates it charges would be lower than regular bank loan financing of home solar installations because individual systems amount to small, expensive matters for the banks while the city arrangements would be large amounts.
    - The city hopes to keep the property tax add-on to about the same as the cost of the utility bill. If the homes are sold, the property tax add-ons would carry over to the new owner.
    - Interest rates, one-time fees, minimum project costs and the types of other energy-efficiency upgrades allowed under the program also are still being worked out.

    And there are a lot of other small cities around the state and around the country that could use the same strategy. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - DeVries: "You are borrowing money from the city, and the city is getting repaid through property taxes; that's how you would experience it as a homeowner…Our goal is to make putting solar on your house as cost-effective as paying your utility bill."
    - DeVries: "In many cases with solar, there is a positive rate of return if you look at it in the long term (because the money you save on electricity bills eventually will pay for the cost of the system)… The problem is most people don't operate that way financially."
    - Kammen: “[The plan is] incredibly clever…There's no question that the big issue for solar is the big upfront cost…This will allow you to spread it out over your property taxes…This is a loan that is much more accessible…And I think the mayor's assessment is right, that if the upfront cost goes away, we're going to see a huge wave of solar energy and efficiency projects."

    BIG WIND MOVE BY BT

    This project reportedly follows a trend in Europe, and especially the UK, where large businesses are taking advantage of their own open space and ubiquitous financing to develop New Energy sources on their own property where permitting is not a significant obstacle.

    BT wind farms to supply green energy
    Fiona Harvey and Andrew Bolger, October 18, 2007 (Financial Times)

    WHO
    British telecommunications giant BT Group (Hanif Lalani, finance director)

    Wind installations are being built all over England... (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    In the biggest UK renewable energy project not done by a power generation company, telecom giant BT will develop wind farms.

    WHEN
    The project is expected to begin when utility financing is worked out and completed by 2016.

    WHERE
    The UK wind farms will be built on BT-owned lands, adjacent to other industrial projects, which should make permitting much simpler.

    WHY
    - BT will eventually develop 250 megawatts of wind energy. This would equal 12.5% of the UK’s present 2 gigawatts of wind energy .
    - The wind energy would meet 25% of the telcom company’s electricity need.
    Cost, paid by utility-owners, is estimated at 250 million pounds ($512.5 million).

    ...Though some would apparently argue that the real future of British wind is offshore. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Lalani: "Our customers are very clear they want us to develop products and services using clean energy…"
    - Jonathan Johns, partner, BT advisors Ernst and Young: "There is a wall of capital out there for investment in renewables."

    FOR CLIMATE CHANGE, ELECTRICITY

    It's probably much worse than we thought. But there are still studies that need to be done. This is a study of some of the earlier studies.

    Climate Change Endangers Energy Sector
    Bret Schulte, October 18, 2007 (U.S. News and World Report)

    WHO
    U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP)

    From the reports: Multiple studies of multiple time periods with pretty much the same result: It is going to get hotter. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    CCSP’s Effects of Climate Change on Energy Production and Use in the United States indicates climate change will increase electricity requirements in the US in a variety of ways. The report was formally submitted to the President and Congress on behalf of DOE.

    WHEN
    - The report was released October 18.
    - The study was retrospective, evaluating US energy use in the past decades, and prospective, looking at patterns of likely need through 2100.

    WHERE
    The report focused on climate change effects in the US energy sector, evaluating each energy area within the sector as well as questions of efficiency.

    click to enlarge

    WHY
    - Heating needs will likely be reduced but cooling needs will be increased. Because some heating uses gas and oil while most cooling uses electricity, this pattern is likely to increase electricity demand.
    - Electricity transmission and distribution are likely to be significantly affected but further study as to how is required.
    - Reduced water supplies will have a variety of impacts. Loss of mountain snowpack will reduce the overall flow of rivers, reducing the supply of hydropower. It will also reduce water supplies available for power plant cooling.
    - Sea level rise could disrupt natural gas and oil supplies and refining.
    - The report suggests the development of renewable energies would mitigate warming. It also finds that changes in winds and insolation may require reconsideration of siting for such energies.
    - The report cites data that carbon trading to mitigate emissions and their affect on climate change could reduce energy costs for consumers.

    This chart summarizes the study's major findings. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - From the report’s Executive Summary: "Climate change is expected to have noticeable effects in the United States: a rise in average temperatures in most regions, changes in precipitation amounts and seasonal patterns in many regions, changes in the intensity and pattern of extreme weather events, and sea level rise. Some of these effects have clear implications for energy production and use…"
    - From the report’s conclusions:
    (1) “Climate change concerns are very likely to affect perceptions and practices related to risk management behavior in investment by energy institutions…”
    (2) “Climate change concerns, especially if they are expressed through policy interventions, almost certain to affect public and private sector energy technology R & D investments and energy resource/technology choices by energy institutions, along with associated emissions…”
    (3) “Climate change can be expected to affect other countries in ways that in turn affect U.S. energy conditions…”

    Thursday, October 25, 2007

    SOLAR WANTS TAX CREDITS, EXTENSIONS FROM CONGRESS

    NewEnergyNews suspected that rigid opposition from Republicans and splits among Democrats might require New Energy lobbyists to move away from talking about a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES). In a possible sign of the times, this solar energy lobbying group says nothing about the RES and calls instead for tax credit extensions.

    Vote Solar: “You’ve heard the old saw about laws, sausages, and the benefit of ignorance in the making thereof? Well then, consider yourself forewarned, because the effort to craft the biggest solar bill in US history is sausage-making at its finest…"

    NewEnergyNews thinks they mean sausage-making at its worst.


    The Homestretch on the Federal Solar Bill
    October 23, 2007 (The Vote Solar Initiative)

    WHO
    The Vote Solar Initiative, a non-profit organization dedicated to advocacy on behalf of solar energy

    JP Ross, Adam Browning and David Hochschild of Vote Solar.

    WHAT
    Vote Solar is organizing political action in support of investment tax credit (ITC) extensions and other tax incentives in the energy legislation now pending before the House and Senate.

    WHEN
    Differences in previous energy bills passed by the Senate in June and the House in July are right now being reconciled by congressional leaders. Now is when the decisions are being made. Now is the time voters can have input.

    From Vote Solar: One of the keys to solar energy's success is achieving the production volume at which installations become affordable. (click to enlarge)

    WHERE
    - Vote Solar was born in San Francisco in 2001. It lives there and on the internet.
    - This poltical action pertains to national legislation pending in Washignton, D.C. At the Vote Solar web site, there are also actions pertaining to other legislation.

    WHY
    - These are the measures Vote Solar is for:
    (1) 8-year extension of the 30% business investment tax credit (ITC) (in both the House and Senate bills);
    (2) 6-year extension of the residential ITC (in the Senate bill);
    (3) Eliminate the $2,000 limit on residential solar ITCs (in the House version);
    (4) Allow corporate and individual taxpayers to claim ITCs against the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) (in the House version).

    Come Senators, Congressmen, please heed the call...

    QUOTES
    Vote Solar: “This would be the largest, most important solar legislation ever undertaken in the US. Take action here to send a message to Congress.”

    WIND: A BILLION DOLLAR BUSINESS

    The turbines for these deals will be manufactured over the next 2 years in Greenville, South Carolina. Think it might boost the local economy a little?

    Come to think of it, that would make an interesting economic study. Or documentary film.


    GE Energy wind turbine orders top $1 billion
    October 23, 2007 (Atlanta Business Chronicle)
    and
    GE Receives Contract Worth More Than $350 Million to Supply Wind Turbines
    October 22, 2007 (AP via Yahoo Finance)

    WHO
    GE Energy, subsidiary of General Electric Co., (Victor Abate, vice president, renewables); Energias de Portugal (EDP) European branch Neo Energia and American branch Horizon Wind Energy LLC; Third Planet Windpower LLC

    US wind will grow again this year. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    GE Energy has contracted to provide Energias de Portugual 281 wind turbines, a $730 million dollar deal. The day before, GE Energy announced a $350 million dollar deal with Third Planet Windpower LLC.

    WHEN
    The EDP deal calls for GE to send turbines to EDP branches in 2008 and 2009. The Third Planet deal has GE providing turbines in 2009.

    WHERE
    - The EDP deal has GE delivering to European and US projects. The Third Power deal will send turbines to Texas, New Mexico, Nebraska and Wyoming.
    - The machines will be produced at GE's facilities in Greenville, S.C.

    WHY
    - The EDP deal is for 281 turbines, 80 2.5xl turbines for Europe and 201 1.5 megawatt units for US projects.
    - The Third Planet deal is for 167 1.5 megawatt turbines.

    The industry is growing even faster worldwide. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    Abate: "In the U.S. and around the world, we continue to see strong interest in the production of cleaner, wind-generated electricity…In the U.S. alone, more than 2,400 megawatts of new wind power was installed in 2006 while worldwide, more than 15,000 megawatts were installed, according to the Global Wind Energy Council."

    MITSUBISHI & SHELL IN EMISSIONS CAPTURE CO-VENTURE

    It is not as “New Age” and “New Energy” as solar and wind, but all the recent scientific studies have stressed the urgency of perfecting at commercial scale the to-now hypothetical and experimental concept of carbon-capture-and-sequestration (CCS).

    Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) is the easiest part of the concept to prove and it may be a big car company and a big oil company who are doing it, but NewEnergyNews does not see any "greens" stepping up to prove these very expensive concepts.

    On the other hand, there is reason to doubt "clean coal" is anything but an oxymoron.

    It ought to get all the car company-oil company conspiracy theorists revved up anyway.


    Mitsubishi, Shell to use power-plant CO2 for EOR
    Eric Watkins, October 19, 2007 (Oil & Gas Journal)

    WHO
    Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., Royal Dutch Shell PLC

    A 2004 IEA graphic showed EOR oil (in green) projected to be a big part of future production.

    WHAT
    Mitsubishi and Shell will develop emissions capture from electricity generating plants for injection to enhance oil well production.

    WHEN
    - The first contract for capture and oil well enhancement is expected in 2008.
    - The agreement between Mitsubishi and Shell developed out of a memorandum of understanding to work together established in December 2005.

    The idea is to get at every last drop. (click to enlarge)

    WHERE
    - The current announcement does not specify a location for the projects but the 2005 memorandum of agreement indicated the strategic alliance would apply to business opportunities in the Middle East.

    WHY
    - According to the companies’ research, each ton of CO2 injected to 1000 meters will enhance oil recovery by 4 barrels.
    - The companies say they will build capture facilities with a capacity of 10,000 tons of CO2, thus enhancing oil well recovery by 40,000 barrels.
    - The capture will be of power plant flue gases.

    EOR is one way to use geologic structures to dispose of emissions. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    Companies’ statement: “[CO2 will injected] in miscible flood techniques to improve the flow and recovery of oil from developed reservoirs."

    *