NewEnergyNews: OCEAN ENERGY SWELL SLOWLY ROLLING IN

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

  • LABOR DAY STUDY: CHINA NEW ENERGY MOVES AHEAD
  • NO QUICK NEWS TODAY. BACK TOMORROW.
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • Weekend Video: The Economic Opportunity In The Climate Fight
  • Weekend Video: The Future Of Energy
  • Weekend Video: Advances In BioEnergy
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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-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 THAT

    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
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • 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 LAST DAY UP HERE

  • 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 -

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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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  • Monday, June 16, 2008

    OCEAN ENERGY SWELL SLOWLY ROLLING IN

    Salter’s Ducks were house-sized floating canisters designed by engineer Stephen Salter of the University of Edinburgh in the 1970s in response to the oil crises. Each was capable of generating 6 megawatts of wave energy-generated electricity. Initially expensive, Salter got the price down to competitive levels but the British government pulled funding.

    Wave energy pioneer Salter testified in 1988 to the House of Lords it was the nuclear energy industry that stopped early development of ocean energy. New Energies could only develop when, Salter told the House of Lords, “…the control of renewable energy projects is completely removed from nuclear influences.”

    Or, NewEnergyNews would add, when the costs of oil and new nuclear are so high people are finally willing to think anew about New Energy.

    The intriguing story of Salter’s Ducks comes from an assessment of the present state of the wave energy industry by
    The Economist, the venerable and authoritative British weekly. The study examines why wave energy development has taken so long and concludes it is ready to emerge.

    Nuclear industry conspiracies aside, one of the main reasons wave energy has been delayed in recent years, according to Economist sources, is that early experiments underestimated the ocean’s force, leading to trials of devices that could not endure the harsh oceanic environment. Another problem has been the lack of a durable transmission infrastructure to deliver the electricity generated at sea to the grid on shore.

    Such challenges are now being met by engineering inventiveness. Tom Thorpe, consultant, Oxford Oceanics: “This is a completely new energy technology, whereas wind and photovoltaics have been around for a long time—so they have been developed, rather than invented…”

    Anybody who has made a channel crossing can attest to the power there to be harvested. Britain’s centuries-old sea-conquering tradition and energy-rich island environs make harvesting ocean energy an obvious and potentially profitable choice. Thorpe, Oxford Oceanics: “If we couldn’t do it, who could?”

    With energy prices skyrocketing, energy companies, utilities and venture capitalists are investing in development and testing. A spate of sturdy, newly designed devices are ready for deployment. Wave energy looks ready to take its rightful place alongside solar and wind energies as the truly renewable sources without a serious downside.


    Salter's Ducks (click to enlarge)

    The coming wave; Enthusiasm for renewable energy means wind turbines and solar panels are popping up all over the place. But what happened to wave power?
    June 5, 2008 (The Economist)

    WHO
    Stephen Salter, pioneering wave energy engineer, University of Edinburgh; Pelamis Wave Power (Pelamis device), Finavera Renewables (Aquabuoy), AWS Ocean Energy (submerged buoys), Ocean Power Technologies (PowerBuoy), Aquamarine Power (Oyster), Wavegen (Limpet)

    WHAT
    Wave energy technology, newer than solar or wind but potentially a productive source of energy around the world, is beginning to emerge from a period of slow growth caused by growing pains.

    click to enlarge

    WHEN
    - Wave energy devices were first patented in the 1700s.
    - The first serious effort to capture wave energy on a large scale came from Stephen Salter, pioneering wave energy engineer at the University of Edinburgh, in the 1970s following the first oil crisis. Many, including Salter, think it was stymied by the nuclear industry.
    - The world’s first commercial wave farm was launched in October 2007.
    - In December 2007, California utility Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) to buy wave-generated electricity beginning in 2012.
    - No device has ever been deployed on a large scale.
    - Finavera Renewables’ Aquabuoy developed a leak and failed a trial in 2007.

    WHERE
    - The first wave farm (Pelamis) is off Portugal. More to be installed off Orkney in Scotland and Cornwall in England.
    - The PG&E PPA is for a wave installation (of Finavera Renewables’ Aquabuoy) off the central California coast.
    - Ocean Power Technologies’ PowerBuoy is being tested off the coast of Spain.
    - Testing of an Aquamarine Power prototype Oyster is set for this summer off the Orkney Islands.

    WHY
    - The “Wave Hub” – planned for installation off the coast of Cornwall in 2010 – is a prototype of the kind of seabed transmission infrastructure needed.
    - Pelamis Wave Power (Pelamis device): Designed by a Salter stuident, it captures energy as waves move hinged joints on the 140-meter-long snake-like device. Each generates 750 kilowatts. Horizontal structure protects from severe seas. 3 are now deployed off Portugal and more are set for deployment in 2009.
    - Finavera Renewables (Aquabuoy): 25-meter-long vertical tube floating on ocean surface and tethered to sea bottom, harvesting up-and-down motion, each device theoretically capable of 250 kilowatts.

    The Wave Hub and some of the technologies to be tested there. (click to enlarge)

    - AWS Ocean Energy (submerged buoys) and Ocean Power Technologies (PowerBuoy) are also bobbing buoy designs, the AWS one completely submerged.
    - Aquamarine Power (Oyster): An oscillating 12-meter-tall and 18-meter-wide metal flap fixed near the shore that captures as much as 600-kilowatts of the wave’s energy as it rolls over.
    - Wavegen (Limpet): Another shoreline device, three-chambered with a turbine atop. As waves roll in and out, they turn the turbine generating an average of 100 kilowatts and capable of being designed larger.

    QUOTES
    Tom Thorpe, consultant, Oxford Oceanics: “We have to be prepared for some spectacular failures…but equally some spectacular successes.”

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