NewEnergyNews: TRY CO2 RELEASE TO DEEP OCEAN, SEE HOW BAD IT CAN BE: PROF

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: ADDING UP THE CLIMATE CHANGE NUMBERS
  • QUICK NEWS, Sept. 29: PRES SAYS YES TO CLIMATE ACTION, SENATE STUCK; FLAWED NEW PLAN FOR NEW ENERGY IN CALIF; SOLAR PANELS GET BETTER
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • Weekend Video: Obama On Climate Change At The UN
  • Weekend Video: Jon Stewart Heats Up Over Climate Change
  • Weekend Video: Colbert Asks If “This Changes Everything”
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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-HIGH WATER RISING – EVERYWHERE
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-MOROCCO WIND BOOM COMING
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-INDIA BOOSTS ITS SOLAR BUILD
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-ABU DHABI BUYS A PIECE OF NORWAY’S STAKE IN UK OFFSHORE WIND
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, Sept. 25:

  • TTTA Thursday-THE PRIVATE SECTOR FACES CLIMATE CHANGE
  • TTTA Thursday-SOLAR WILL POWER SCHOOLS, EARN MONEY FOR TEACHERS
  • TTTA Thursday-A RIDE IN TOMORROW’S CAR
  • TTTA Thursday-A LOOK AT SEE-THROUGH SOLAR
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: FREEING THE NATIONAL TREASURE IN U.S. NATIONAL LABS
  • QUICK NEWS, Sept. 24: ROCKEFELLERS DIVEST OIL FOR NEW ENERGY; BOLD $8BIL WIND BUILD-TRANSMIT-STORE PROJECT; CALIF TARGETS 1.5MIL 0-EMISSIONS CARS BY 2024
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • THE STUDY: WHERE OFFSHORE WIND IS IN THE WORLD
  • QUICK NEWS, Sept. 23: THE NEW ENERGY TRANSITION; THE MATTER OF WIND IN KANSAS; MICROGRID TECHNOLOGY MARKET TO QUADRUPLE
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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.

    - -------------------

    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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  • ---------------
  • Thursday, June 26, 2008

    TRY CO2 RELEASE TO DEEP OCEAN, SEE HOW BAD IT CAN BE: PROF

    From the “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” file: A prominent ocean scientist wants environmentalists to withdraw their opposition to the release of CO2 gases directly into the “benthic world” (the lowest levels of the ocean) so science can find out how bad it affects deep sea life.

    Wallace Broecker, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University: "I am in full sympathy with those who claim that the benthic world is likely a fragile one. Hence, before we poke it with CO2, we should do our homework. Therefore, I challenge Greenpeace to relax its stand and allow pilot CO2 injections to proceed."

    Unlike the current Norwegian Sleipner project that is injecting CO2 gases into theoretically airtight geologic structures deep under the seabed, the concept to which Broecker is referring is that of pumping the gases directly into the ocean at a great enough depth that pressures would turn the CO2 into a neutralized slurry and keep it on the seabed there.

    Broeckner admits there would be harm to small organisms but wants to see how much damage there would be to fish and the surrounding ecological system. Broecker calculates the deep Pacific could contain 16 years worth of CO2. (Which means the world could go on burning coal and proceed to destroy the ecology of the deep Pacific until, say, 2025 – and THEN stop generating greenhouse gases. Sorry, editorializing.)

    Bill Hare, Greenpeace, speaking for opponents of this cockamamie concept (sorry, editorializing): "The urgency of reducing emissions of CO2 has never been greater. But just as with an emergency in a heavy passenger jet, the crew should never rush in to hasty actions that will ultimately make a very bad situation a lot worse. Ocean disposal of CO2 is one such option."

    Mr. Hare is quite a bit more restrained than NewEnergyNews.

    Footnote for the “chicken/egg” file: Deep storage in the Pacific was conceptualized because storage in sub-seabed geologic structures there was deemed unsafe. Why? Because earthquakes could dislodge the gases from those geologic structures, releasing them to the deep ocean and that, scientists believe, would be dangerous to the deep ocean ecology. (But releasing the gases directly into the ocean would be OK!?! Not editorializing, just asking...)


    Put it down there any way except by burying it in the seabed and letting is emerge through seismic cracks. (click to enlarge)

    Deep-sea carbon storage must be tested, says leading scientist
    David Adam, June 18, 2008 (UK Guardian)

    WHO
    Wallace Broecker, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University; Advocates of releasing captured CO2 gases into the deep sea; Greenpeace (Bill Hare, spokesman) and other opponents of the concept

    WHAT
    Professor Broecker wants Greenpeace and other opponents to the release of CO2 into the deepest ocean to allow testing to go forward despite potential harm.

    click to enlarge

    WHEN
    A pilot project off Hawaii in the late 1990s was halted by protests from Greenpeace and other environmentalists.

    WHERE
    - Small scale tests have been done off the California coast. They turned out badly enough to sustain the opposition.
    - Pressures at depths greater than 3,500 meters are thought to be great enough to turn CO2 gases into a potentially harmless slurry.

    Science knows deep ocean storage would be bad for these benthoids but it needs to know how much MORE life and habitat it would destroy. Why? (click to enlarge)

    WHY
    - The plan calls for injections of CO2 gases deep under the ocean by deep sea drilling ships.
    - Testing would be monitored to document the dispersion of the gases and the harm done to sea life.
    - There is no conclusive evidence CO2 gases can be securely and permanently stored in geologic structures and no reason to believe deep ocean storage is safe for the marine environment.

    QUOTES
    - Broecker: "While we know enough to say with confidence that deep ocean disposal of CO2 is certainly feasible, unless small-scale pilot experiments are conducted, information necessary to assess the impact [on sea life] will remain obscure. It is my view that a series of experiments involving one-tonne quantities of CO2 should be conducted."
    - Hare, Greenpeace: "The position of Greenpeace and of other groups opposed to this option was based on research into the effects of ocean disposal of CO2."

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