NewEnergyNews: STUDY OF UTILITIES, EFFICIENCIES

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: 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

    THE DAY BEFORE

  • 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
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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

  • Weekend Video: New Thoughts About New Energy For A New Climate
  • Weekend Video: Carbon
  • Weekend Video: Why Utilities Struggle With New Energy
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-WHY DENIERS’ BRAINS REJECT CLIMATE CHANGE
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-CHINESE TO HELP SAUDIS GO NEW ENERGY BY 2032
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-BUILDING EFFICIENCY TO BOOM IN EUROPE
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-GEOTHERMAL SEEKS CARIBBEAN BREAKTHROUGH
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, August 21:

  • TTTA Thursday-THE RISKIEST ENERGY PLAYS IN THE WORLD
  • TTTA Thursday-FACTS ON BIRDS AND SOLAR POWER
  • TTTA Thursday-WIND PRICES AT ALL TIME LOWS
  • TTTA Thursday-PRICES DROPPING ON GREEN BUILDING
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • THE STUDY: IMPORTS, EXPORTS AND NEW ENERGY
  • QUICK NEWS, August 20: COURTS DISMISS 98% OF WIND HEALTH COMPLAINTS; TURNING OLD CAR BATTERIES INTO NEW SOLAR PANELS; OCEAN ENERGY PIONEERS
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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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  • Friday, May 09, 2008

    STUDY OF UTILITIES, EFFICIENCIES

    With demand expected to rise 30% by 2030, Keeping the Lights On: Our National Challenge, a new study from Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and Edison Electric Institute (EEI) showing utilities how to cut consumption 7% to 11%, is indeed welcome. It will not, however, excuse government and industry of the responsibility for building a New Energy architecture comprised of a 21st century smart grid and 21st century smart technology.

    Oh, and one other thing: New Energy power generation.

    Diane Munns, executive director, EEI: “No matter how you slice it, we’ll have to build significant new generation to ensure that we meet demand. The greater gains we make in energy efficiency, the better off everyone will be, because we’ll have more cost-effective options for serving our customers…But if we overestimate what can be accomplished, we could find ourselves without an adequate supply of electricity to meet consumer needs.”

    NewEnergyNews reported extensively on the topic of coming transmission needs earlier this week. See
    SOLAR2008: DAY 3 – GRIDLOCK?.

    3 points of interest from the EPRI/EEI report: (1) Direct energy feedback devices (aka Demand Response systems, home or commercial building controllers/thermostats that respond automatically to electricity price or demand signals) can cut energy use and save customers money. (2) A 42-inch plasma television consumes two and a half times more energy (250 watts) than a standard 27-inch TV (100 watts). (3) While refrigerators have become more efficient, smaller devices have not – two 30-watt set-top television boxes consume as much electricity as a large refrigerator.

    Conclusion: Expect consumption to rise.

    Much smarter grids are both possible and urgently needed. But no matter how smart the grid is, the nation and the world need New Energy. The sooner the building of solar and wind and ocean power plants starts, the sooner the spewing of fossil fuel emissions and the piling up of nuclear waste stops. At the same time, smarter grids with greater capacity and a myriad of efficiency measures must become standard features of the New Energy architecture.

    Which is just another reason it is so hard to believe Congress is diddling with itself over extending the New Energy incentives. Incentives are just the beginning. Don’t they understand what the American people really want is a
    Green New Deal?

    Voters can sign a petition telling Congress to get down to business at Support Renewable Energy Tax Credits

    Efficiencies make all the difference. (click to enlarge)

    EPRI Analysis Finds Utility Based Energy Efficiency Programs Could Cut Energy Consumption 7-11 Percent
    April 23, 2008 (Business Wire via Yahoo Finance)

    WHO
    Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) (Dr. Michael Howard, senior vice president); Edison Electric Institute (EEI) (Diane Munns, executive director)

    Efficiency is complimented and enhanced by a Demand Response system. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Keeping the Lights On: Our National Challenge is a new study from EPRI and EEI showing the utility sector capable of implementing efficiencies to cut power consumption 7% to 11%.

    WHEN
    - The paper noted the expected 30% increase in demand through 2030 and reported the 7% to 11% reduction in the same time frame via implementation of efficiency strategies.
    - Utilities, regulators, and policymakers are right now debating the best ways to meet rising demand and at the same time cut the U.S. economy’s carbon footprint.

    Energy demand is only going one way. (click to enlarge)

    WHERE
    - EPRI and EEI experts agreed that to maximize savings, the best technology must be deployed nationally.
    - Research is being done at EPRI’s Living Laboratory for Energy Efficiency in Knoxville, Tenn.

    WHY
    - The challenge: Maximize efficiency and at the same time build adequate new electric generation.
    - Needed: Present building codes, appliance standards and market-driven consumer incentives will cut consumption 23%. Better ones can cut it more.
    - Essential new steps: more consumer education; adoption/enforcement of aggressive building codes and appliance standards; utility business models to promote better power sector efficiency; electricity pricing policies that incentivize efficient consumption.

    Efficiency and New Energy - a match made in heaven. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Dr. Michael Howard, senior vice president, EPRI: “This study demonstrates the potential of energy efficiency to offset some of the projected need for new electric generation as cutting-edge technologies become available…We think a 7-percent efficiency improvement is realistic – and gains of 11 percent or more are technologically feasible...”
    - Diane Munns, executive director, EEI: “While electricity rates will rise due to increasing across-the-board costs of producing electricity, energy efficiency improvements can help reduce some of these costs to consumers…energy efficiency must be treated as an energy resource on par with new generation.”
    - Dr. Michael Howard, senior vice president, EPRI: “We are making remarkable technological advances in the area of efficiency…The question is how much more can we achieve? The key will be finding the will...”

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