NewEnergyNews: AMERICAN SOLAR ENERGY SOCIETY SOLAR2008: DAY 1 - THE ONLY THING

NewEnergyNews

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

The challenge: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • THE STUDY: MORE AND SMARTER MEDIA COVERAGE OF CLIMATE CHANGE IN 2014
  • QUICK NEWS, July 28: CLIMATE SKEPTICS REACHING ‘CATASTROPHIC’ NUMBERS; THE COST OF THE EPA EMISSIONS CUTS; GEOTHERMAL DRILL SKILL ADVANCES
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • Weekend Video: John Oliver On Visiting Antarctica
  • Weekend Video: Warmest May And June Ever And Non-Stop Record Heat
  • Weekend Video: Meet The Microgrid
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    GET THE DAILY HEADLINES EMAIL: CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR SEND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE- STAR WARS PLANET TATOOINE’S CLIMATE CHANGE
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-BIG NEW THREAT TO CLIMATE FROM COAL-TO-GAS IN CHINA
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-INDIA VILLAGE OF 2,400 GOES 100% SOLAR WITH BATTERIES, MICROGRID
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-GERMANY IS WORLD’S MOST EFFICIENT MAJOR ECONOMY
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, July 24:

  • TTTA Thursday-CLIMATE FACTS VERSUS CLIMATE CULTURE
  • TTTA Thursday-MONEY IN WIND UP FOR QUARTER, DOWN FROM 2013
  • TTTA Thursday-MIDWEST BIOFUELS CAN BE NEW ENERGY – UCS STUDY
  • TTTA Thursday-TESLA CHAMPIONS THE PLUG AND THE CAR
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: EUROPE’S OFFSHORE WIND PROGRESS THIS YEAR
  • QUICK NEWS, July 23: NEW ENERGY WAS 55% OF 1H 2014 U.S. NEW BUILD; EV SALES LEAP; OCEAN ENERGY’S FINANCES UNDER SCRUTINY
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • THE STUDY: WHY THE OIL & GAS INDUSTRY BACKS AN ALL-OF-THE-ABOVE ENERGY POLICY
  • QUICK NEWS, July 22: U.S. DOE FORESEES NEW ENERGY; THE BEST CITIES FOR NEW ENERGY; ENERGY STORAGE TO BE $50BIL MRKT
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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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  • Friday, May 09, 2008

    AMERICAN SOLAR ENERGY SOCIETY SOLAR2008: DAY 1 - THE ONLY THING

    Originally posted May 5.
    Solar energy just keeps getting hotter. Opening day of Solar2008, the American Solar Energy Society’s annual conclave, was busy. Not frantic, just busy, like an industry with business to take care of. And its business is much more than just putting panels on everybody’s rooftops, though they clearly intend to do that, too.

    It’s important to start with a great big BECAUSE: Why is solar getting hotter? BECAUSE the western states driving solar growth have something in common, a strong Renewable Electricity Standard (RES). An RES requires state utilities to obtain a specific percent of their energy from New Energy sources by a specific year. With it, energy producers from giant corporations and utilities planning huge solar power plants to small storefront solar panel and solar hot water systems installers can be sure of a customer base for the foreseeable future.

    A national RES is just another of the crucial New Energy incentives, like the vital Investment Tax Credits (ITCs) and Production Tax Credits (PTCs), the present Congress has been unable to implement for the American people while the Bush administration has stood implacably by.

    Sign a petition telling Congress to get down to business on New Energy incentives at
    Support Renewable Energy Tax Credits

    There is a ton of action on the Solar2008 floor around solar hot water systems. Driven by the expiring of the federal incentives and by state policies that will run out at the end of 2008, solar advocates are urging installers and the marketplace forward. There probably has never been a better time to put in a solar hot water system, which is doing something as great for the earth as it is for the home utility bill bottom line.

    click to enlarge

    But that’s just the glimmer of sunrays on the rising sun of SOLAR2008.

    Industry giants
    Conergy and Schuco are the big anchors on the sprawling Solar2008 exhibition floor. If the folks in those booths SEEM to be eyeing the system installers, panel makers and electronics companies a little too closely, it might be because they ARE. Rumor: Aggressive vertical integration is afoot and the Bigs are looking to buy every good company they can get their hands on.

    There is no shortage of good companies on display, just like there is no shortage of good companies in any and every town. Looking for a good installer? Try Find Solar

    Not sure what the right solar choice is? Try the best solar energy advocate spotted on the Solar2008 floor:
    California Center for Sustainable Energy. If they don't have the answer, they will find somebody who does. Their motto: Instilling passions and motivation to drive the business of green.

    Notable name of the day: A couple of speakers in the Solar2008 Opening Plenary paid homage to a name that ought to be as well known as Al Gore's,
    Charles David Keeling. Keeling was the guy who did the original work tracking accumulations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Without Keeling, there would be no Al Gore.

    Keeling was the first to do this work. (click to enlarge)

    Two more highlights and then on to the heart of the conference and another report tomorrow.

    Most interesting idea in solar panels:
    SunDrum Solar has a solar energy design that dissipates heat. If they can do what they claim, they can dramatically enhance efficiency. It's a big IF but it's the idea of the day. New concentrating solar panels also incorporate such design concepts. NewEnergyNews requires independent verification of the claims but does not doubt it's the right idea.

    ReflecTech has a remarkable new aluminum reflective surface that could change the financing equation in solar power plants. For either parabolic troughs or flat surfaces, 1500 square feet of ReflecTech material rolls out of an 8 inch by 6 inch by 60 inch box and self-adheres to structural frames. Extensive testing has proven it exceptionally durable in comparison with the traditonal glass reflective surfaces with no loss in reflectance at a significantly lower price.

    The day ended with a talk from Tom Kimbis, Program Manager at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Program Office, who described the change in the solar energy industry as a change from the languid pace of a baseball game to the explosive drive of a championship horse race. Truer words were never spoken by a member of the Bush administration.

    It IS a race and everybody in the solar energy industry knows it. It's a race against global climate change and peaking fossil fuel supplies. And like somebody once said, winning isn't everything - it's the ONLY thing.

    Which is why NewEnergyNews is proud to be here with the folks from the solar energy industry, looking over the winning game plan.


    On behalf of the American people, they've got to do better than this. (click to enlarge)

    SOLAR 2008: CATCH THE CLEAN ENERGY WAVE

    The American Solar Energy Society’s Solar 2008

    WHO
    The American Solar Energy Society (ASES) plenary session speakers:
    - Conference Opening Plenary: Donna Frye, San Diego City Councilmember; Irene Stillings, Executive Director, California Center for Sustainable Energy; Tom Kimbis, Program Manager, US DOE Solar Energy Technologies Program Office; John Reynolds, Chair, American Solar Energy Society; Tony Haymet, Director, Scripps Institution of Oceanography; Molly Tirpak Sterkel, Supervisor, California Solar Initiative and Distributed Generation Section, California Public Utilities Commission



    WHAT
    Opening Day at Solar 2008, the American Solar Energy Society annual conclave covering everything important in the world of solar energy.

    WHEN
    - Solar 2008 Opening Day: May 4, 2008
    - ASES was founded in 1954.

    Illustration from the American Solar Energy Society's Climate Change paper. (click to enlarge)

    WHERE
    Town and Country Resort & Convention Center, 500 Hotel Circle North, San Diego, CA 92108
    ASES headquarters is Boulder, CO.
    ASES is the U.S. affiliate of the International Solar Energy Society

    WHY
    Descriptions of the plenary sessions:
    - Policy and Marketing Solutions: Renewable energy is taking off. With this success comes the need for smart policies and market sustainability…the opening plenary session one [covers] some of the hard issues and innovative strategies…
    - Renewable Energy Technology Solutions: …An overview of the current state of the industry, and visions for where the industry will be in 20 years.
    - Emerging Architecture: …the San Francisco Federal Building
    - Emerging Transportation: The documentary Who killed the electric car? has mainstreamed interest in electric vehicles and has brought attention to the auto industry’s role in delaying the availability of clean renewably powered vehicles. Chris Paine, director of the film, and Chelsea Sexton, one of the main characters in the documentary will speak on their continuing efforts to promote vehicles that can be charged from renewable energy. Steve Heckeroth, Chair, Renewable Fuels and Sustainable Transportation Division will wrap up the plenary with a presentation the many advantages of solar electric mobility.

    Few ways to tackle climate change better than solar energy. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Vital new ASES report: Economic and Jobs Impacts of the Renewable and Energy Efficiency Industries
    - Vital new ASES report: Tackling Climate Change in the U.S.; Potential U.S. Carbon Emissions Reductions from Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency by 2030
    - President Woodrow Wilson: "I not only use all the brains I have, but all I can borrow."

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