NewEnergyNews: SEXY LITTLE RED CAR – BUT MAYBE NOT SMART

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

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-CLIMATE CHANGE – IT GETS WORSE
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-WHERE AND HOW WIND IS GROWING IN THE WORLD
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-CHINA TO LEAD SOLAR MARKET GROWTH DESPITE OBSTACLES
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE ENORMOUS POTENTIAL OF WORLD GEOTHERMAL
  • THE DAY BEFORE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, August 28:

  • TTTA Thursday-PRESIDENT TO TAKE ACTION ON CLIMATE
  • TTTA Thursday-BIRDS AND ENERGY, THE BIGGER STORY
  • TTTA Thursday-NEW CA LAW STREAMLINES SOLAR PERMITTING
  • TTTA Thursday-DATA CENTER EFFICIENCIES CAN SAVE U.S. $3.8BIL/YR
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    GET THE DAILY HEADLINES EMAIL: CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR SEND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: THE RISKIEST ENERGY IN THE WORLD
  • QUICK NEWS, August 27: VERIZON’S $40MIL SOLAR BUY; WIND PRICES HIT RECORD LOWS; NUKE INSPECTOR SAYS DIABLO CYN IS UNSAFE
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: U.S. WIND RIGHT NOW
  • QUICK NEWS, August 26: CLIMATE MODELS PROVE RIGHT AGAIN; ABOUT INVESTING IN SOLAR; GM VS TESLA IN THE 200 MILE RACE

    AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: NEW CALMER WINDS AHEAD FOR EUROPE
  • QUICK NEWS, August 25: JULY’S U.S. ENERGY BUILD WAS ALL NEW ENERGY; CLIMATE CHANGE FOR ENERGY INVESTORS; WIND CAN GROW FASTER THAN NUCLEAR
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • Weekend Video: New Thoughts About New Energy For A New Climate
  • Weekend Video: Carbon
  • Weekend Video: Why Utilities Struggle With New Energy
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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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  • Thursday, January 31, 2008

    SEXY LITTLE RED CAR – BUT MAYBE NOT SMART

    With great fanfare and celebrity endorsements, Tesla Motors sprang on the scene last year promising to bring back to life the hopes of electric car (EV) enthusiasts “killed” in the 1990s (as documented in the award-winning film Who Killed the Electric Car?)

    The company has since been behind schedule on delivering. It recently underwent “staff restructuring.” EV enthusiast and writer/engineer Forbes Bagatelle-Black had the same questions and worries as other EV fans: “Is Tesla in trouble? Are they changing the company goals and priorities? Or are they simply taking the painful steps required to transition from a startup to a full blown manufacturing company?”

    What he found when he went in search of answers was not promising for the future of the EV. Bagatelle-Black: “…my anonymous source expressed concern that the recent staff changes had eliminated many of the members of Tesla’s management team with real-world experience in designing and building products for mass production. My source did not doubt that those left were smart and capable, he simply pointed out that they had much to learn in terms of accomplishing the manufacturing goals Tesla has set for itself.”

    Bagatelle-Black's article suggests Tesla is a company entirely focused on bringing its little red $100,000 Roadster to market despite real-world demand for something else. Bagatelle-Black speaks for a lot of EV enthusiasts when he concludes his article with thoughts about Tesla’s more moderately-priced Whitestar sedan: “…if the company is really going to change the future, it is going to have to give us a viable replacement for the Toyota Camry/Honda Accord/Chevy Malibu-type family sedan. The Whitestar represents Tesla’s first major step in that direction, especially if rumors that it will be a plug-in hybrid are true. The day I hear confirmation that Tesla is killing the Whitestar is the day I will believe that Tesla has given up hopes of becoming a viable automobile company…”


    135 mpg equivalent, 0 to 60 in 4+ seconds, 220 miles per charge, 2 cents/mile - and sexy. (click to enlarge)

    Turmoil At Tesla
    Forbes Bagatelle-Black, January 27, 2008 (EV World)

    WHO
    Tesla Motors (Elon Musk, Chairman of the Board; Darryl Siry, Vice President of Marketing, Sales & Service)

    WHAT
    Personnel changes at Tesla that insiders have called a “bloodbath” may signal a change in the company’s promised product.

    PG&E and Plug-In Partners advocate for the plug-in hybrid because it has the advantages of an EV and the familiarity of an internal combustion engine vehicle. (click to enlarge)

    WHEN
    Bagatelle-Black: “On January 10, 2008, the Tesla Founders Blog published a list of employees who had recently been terminated from Tesla. This list included multiple vice presidents, lead engineers, and a variety of other folks from all areas of the Tesla organization. The blogosphere erupted in speculation about the future of the company. A few days later, an unidentified individual contacted the blog owner, ex-Tesla CEO Martin Eberhard, and convinced him to remove the names from the termination list he had published. On January 19, the blog removed the entire entry, stating that “it was explained to me that Tesla and its financial backer(s) can spend far more than I can on a lawsuit.” Websites which had reprinted the original list were also contacted and asked to remove the names on the list.”

    WHERE
    Tesla is based in San Carlos, CA. It has production and assembly centers in Hethel, UK, Taiwan, Rochester Hills, Michigan and Albuquerque, New Mexico. It has service centers in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Miami and Chicago. Parts are alsomade in Germany, Norway and Thailand.

    Ultimately, it makes sense to go all-electric but reaching too far too fast can be costly. (click to enlarge)

    WHY
    - Tesla Motors has 200 employees. Those dismissed represent a small but potentially significant core group.
    - An unnamed source told Bagatelle-Black that Chairman of the Board Elon Musk has a “firm ‘my way or the highway’ attitude toward staff relations.”
    - There had been widely circulated rumors that Tesla’s more moderately priced sedan would be a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). Those rumors have transmuted into doubt as to whether the Whitestar will emerge at all.

    QUOTES
    - Siry, VP, Tesla: “Tesla is in great shape and we will be the first company to offer a production EV in a long while… Everyone at the company is working very hard to achieve our mission and focused on delivering cars to customers… The corporate philosophy is the same as it has always been. We are committed to building an independent car company that produces the best EVs that combine great design, performance and the best possible efficiency. I would also point out that the vast majority of the staff remains the same as it was before - we are a company of well over 200 employees and continue to grow.”
    - Bagatelle-Black: “…The day I hear confirmation that Tesla is killing the Whitestar is the day I will believe that Tesla has given up hopes of becoming a viable automobile company. Until then, I will keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best.”

    1 Comments:

    At 4:22 PM, Anonymous patrick said...

    Watched "Who Killed the Electric Car" recently, great documentary, yay for progress! i just hope development of this technology can go on unhindered by the corporations that depend on oil consumption

     

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