NewEnergyNews: OREGON LOOKS TO OCEAN FOR NEW ENERGY

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: THE JOBS BONANZA IN INDIA SOLAR
  • QUICK NEWS, Sept. 30: NAT GAS, SOLAR, WIND LEAD 1H 2014 NEW BUILD; COOLER PANELS COULD HEAT UP SOLAR; OFFSHORE WIND, PROMISE AND POLITICS">
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • 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
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    THE DAY BEFORE 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”
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • 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
  • AND 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
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • 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
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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, September 29, 2008

    OREGON LOOKS TO OCEAN FOR NEW ENERGY

    Wave energy, the final frontier – these are the voyages of a whole host of exciting, ambitious ideas, one or more of which will change the way the U.S. gets electricity.

    If there is an echo, in that opening sentence, of the William Shatner titles voiceover for the original
    Star Trek TV show, it is intentional. Wave energy developers are venturing into a virtually undiscovered realm seeking a huge potential energy discovery.

    In another way, though, every story these days about hydrokinetic energies (wave, tide and current) is very similar: Testing is on-going, trials are imminent, there are a lot of regulatory hassles and there is opposition from environmentalists and the fisheries industries.

    Case in point: Tillamook County in Oregon, seeing the gold rush going on in nearby Coos County, has jumped into the wave energy industry with goggles, wetsuit and flippers.

    There are a few real wae eenrgy installations in Europe, none in the U.S. Competition along the east and west coasts is presently hottest to lock down parcels of ocean with powerful waves through pilot project applications. Buoy-style and cylinder-shaped concepts are still competing for superiority.

    The West Coast, with a shorter drop off from the continental shelf into deep waters, holds more wave energy capacity potential than the East Coast, where the continental shelf is broad and offshore waters are shallow (ideal for the development of offshore wind installations).

    Oregon’s wave energy gold rush began just barely 2 years ago. With small, economically ambitious seaports, coastal transmission networks and accommodating state regulatory policies, Oregon is prime wave energy territory.

    Ocean Power Technologies (OPT) has been active in Coos County with a buoy device. Tillamook County, with partner with Pelamis Wave Power, is working on a cylindrical technology.

    A Tillamook County fisherman, describing the Pelamis wave energy device: "It looks like a piece of salami with a 16-foot diameter…"

    Regulators in the region are struggling to keep up with the developers. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) oversees projects inside a 3-mile line, and the Department of Interior’s Mineral Management Services (MMS) is responsible for projects outside those waters. It makes the permitting process – interesting?

    Des McGinnes, business development manager, Pelamis Wave Power: "To use nautical terms, I'd describe the regulatory process as 'confused' and 'changeable…'"

    Beyond bureaucratic complexities, confrontation with questions of environmental impact introduces another level of difficulty. There isn’t nearly enough yet known about the impact on marine life and habitat, on fisheries industries or on seabeds and shorelines.

    The natural result: Opposition from fisheries industries and environmentalists.

    With at least 2 inevitable levels of hoops to jump through (regulatory and environmental), getting into the wave energy game requires time, money and almost inexhaustible patience.

    Example: Having sailed through the raging seas of federal and state regulation and completed some successful trial runs, OPT announced earlier this year it wanted to expand a small pilot project into a 200-buoy, 5-mile long project. It got a lot of outrage as a response.

    Nick Furman, executive director, Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission: "That's five miles of productive habitat we can't put pots in."

    Example: Tillamook County and Columbia Energy, its development partner, got its permits and financing set up. They are planning trial projects at Garibaldi, in the middle of important chinook fisheries, and at Netarts, in prime crabbing grounds. They are trying to prepare the locals. In response, the locals are trying to prepare the wave energy developers.

    Linda Buell, Garibaldi Charters co-owner (with husband Mick) and co-chair, fisheries industries advisory committee: "They can't just come in here and grab up fishing grounds without offering anything in return…"

    The developers have to get the idea across that local power production means a big local pay day: Jobs, tax revenues, and energy independence through clean New Energy.

    Locals have to get the idea across to the developers that they’re happy to have the benefits if they don’t come at the expense of ocean habitats, traditional lives and livelihoods and treasured recreational resources.

    Furman, Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission: "[The Reedsport 10-buoy project is] smack dab in the middle of crabbing grounds…We feel like we're struggling to keep up with the process…Let's put the brakes on a little."

    It’s a classic confrontation: Energy developers versus locals. Each side has always learned from the other.
    (See Local Hero)

    The burning industries were always fired by black gold fever. New Energy developers feel the heat of climate change and rising world energy hunger.

    The folks in the coastal counties wonder why the big city folks are in such a hurry.


    A Pelamis installation. (click to enlarge)

    Off Oregon’s coast, wave power makes a splash
    Gail Kinsey Hill, September 21, 2008 (The Oregonian)

    WHO
    Tillamook County officials (Paul Levesque, chief of staff); Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC); Wave Energy Trust; Columbia Energy Partners (Jon Norling, Vice President); Pelamis Wave Power (Des McGinnes, business development manager); Ocean Power Technologies (Len Bergstein, spokesman)

    WHAT
    Tillamook County is joining Coos County in Oregon’s wave energy gold rush.

    An OPT installation. (click to enlarge)

    WHEN
    - 2006 to 2008:The Oregon gold rush has developed over the last 2 years.
    - 2013: Tillamook County large-scale installations are at least 5 years off.
    - 2025: Wave energy projects in Oregon could be generating 500 megawatts of electricity.

    WHERE
    - Oregon’s Tillamook County will develop 6 sites from Newport to Coos Bay.
    - Neighboring Coos County’s wave energy projects are in a 5-mile stretch, north to south, less than three miles from shore off Coos Bay, prime crabbing territory.
    - There are a few operating wave energy projects in Europe, none in the U.S.
    - Pelamis Wave Power is based in Scotland.
    - Columbia Energy Partners is based in Vancouver, British Columbia.
    - Ocean Power Technologies is based in New Jersey.

    WHY
    - Columbia Energy Partners will do the Tillamook County feasibility study and handle the financing.
    - Each of the 6 Tillamook County sites is seaward three miles from a utility transmission substation.
    - The potential 500 megawatts of power capacity Tillamook County could generate is 3% of the state’s present consumption.
    - The Garibaldi and Netarts projects will each be 30 megawatts, small by the standards of Columbia Energy Partners’ wind installations but a crucial beginning in the wave industry.
    - The big OPT 200-buoy project would have an estimated 200-megawatt capacity.
    - OPT also has a more advanced 10-buoy project off Reedsport which could begin selling power in the next 1-2 years.

    click to enlarge

    QUOTES
    - Paul Levesque, chief of staff, Tillamook County: "We can either wait until someone runs roughshod over us, or we can make sure we have a say in what happens…"
    - Len Bergstein, spokesman, OPT: "[We want to] show we're relentless in our willingness to sit around the table and discuss this project."

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