NewEnergyNews: UTILITY BUYING MORE WIND, THANK THE RES

NewEnergyNews

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

Every day is Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 5 (continued from yesterday)
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 6
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 7
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 8
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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

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, April 17:

  • TTTA Thursday-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 1
  • TTTA Thursday-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 2
  • TTTA Thursday-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 3
  • TTTA Thursday-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 4
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: NEW ENERGY POSSIBILITIES – THE MICHIGAN EXAMPLE
  • QUICK NEWS, April 16: THE RACE AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE; THE FAST RISING POTENTIAL OF U.S. NEW ENERGY; BIG TEXAS WIND SHRINKS ELECTRICITY MRKT PRICE
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: THE MONEY IN NEW ENERGY
  • QUICK NEWS, April 15: WORLD WIND TO BOOM THRU 2014; NAT GAS AND SOLAR WERE 75% OF U.S. 2013 NEW POWER; MAINE OFFICIALLY AFFIRMS SMART METERS’ SAFETY
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: THIS COULD BE THE REAL VALUE OF SOLAR
  • QUICK NEWS, April 14: DE-RISKED RENEWABLES HAVE MORE INVESTORS THAN DEALS; THE MYTH OF CONSOLIDATION IN SOLAR; TEXAS BREAKS MORE WIND RECORDS
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • Weekend Video: Bill Maher On What’s Happening In The Oceans
  • Weekend Video: The Human Disharmony In The Climate System Symphony
  • Weekend Video: A Few Thoughts About Solar 2.0
  • --------------------------

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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.

  • ---------------
  • Friday, September 12, 2008

    UTILITY BUYING MORE WIND, THANK THE RES

    Want to know how important a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) can be?

    The CEO of a company that is planning to build 2,000 megawatts of wind capacity around the world yearly for the next 3 years said in an interview earlier this year that if he had to choose between a 10-year extension of the production tax credit (PTC) and a national RES, he would choose the latter because it would create a longer period of stability and allow business to evolve “…the most cost-efficient way of meeting the standard…”

    Case in point:
    Duke Energy. Before North Carolina passed its RES in 2007, Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers talked quite astutely about the importance of putting a price on emissions and about how important it would be to shift to New Energy sources but his company made almost no move except toward efficiency. Since the RES became a fact of life, Mr. Rogers can’t seem to stop selling, buying and installing New Energy generating capacity. (See DUKE BUYS MORE SUN and DUKE BUYS WIND)

    Though Duke presently obtains only 1% of its power from wind, it expects to have 500 megawatts in operation and 5000 megawatts in development by the end of this year.

    One last point about the state RESs (and the national RES if it should miraculously survive the current energy legislation fight): They could save the New Energy industries in 2009. If Congress fails to extend the investment tax credit (ITC) and production tax credit (PTC), the RESs will continue driving utilities to install New Energy capacity. It will, however, make New Energy a more expensive proposition. The extra cost, of course, ends up on ratepayers' bills.

    Just like corn ethanol? Wind energy’s detractors have suggested the rising acceptance of it is much like an earlier enthusiasm for corn ethanol that proved a folly. While the rising acceptance is similar, wind has fought for every inch of approval it has gained, a sort of bottom-up process by which it proved itself worthy. Corn ethanol’s acceptance was the result of a top-down campaign funded by Agrobusiness to get at more and bigger government subsidies.

    The wind energy industry is now indeed demanding subsidies and support in the form of a national RES and an appropriate level of incentives. They are necessary for wind to take its place in a fossil fuel world and provide proven, vitally needed, clean energy. But wind has shown it is capable of cost competitive, utility scale production and a positive energy-returned-on-energy-invested (EROEI).

    Corn ethanol did neither of those things before winning subsidies. It was little more than a way for Agrobusiness and Big Oil to conspire to keep petroleum necessary while creating the appearance of “going green.” The amount of land necessary for corn ethanol to provide a significant portion of U.S. transportation fuels would essentially preclude the use of corn as a food product.

    Several European nations have demonstrated and are demonstrating that wind can provide a substantial portion of the electric grid’s energy demand. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) this year affirmed the wind industry’s capacity to provide 20% of U.S. power by 2030. Nobody who ran the numbers ever expected any such thing of corn ethanol.

    Finally, before it won massive subsidies from the Bush administration, the only substantial investment in corn ethanol came for its use as a petroleum fuel additive. Investments in wind by utilities like Duke Energy speak volumes about its substantiality.


    click to enlarge

    Duke Energy expanding wind energy business
    September 9, 2008 (AP via Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
    and
    Duke Energy expands renewable energy unit
    September 9, 2008 (AP via CNN Money)
    and
    Duke Energy expands wind-energy program
    September 9, 2008 (Triangle Business Journal)
    and
    Duke Energy Expands Wind Business
    September 9, 2008 (Duke Energy)

    WHO
    Duke Energy (Jim Rogers, CEO); Duke Energy Generation Services (DEGS), Duke’s New Energy division (Wouter van Kempen, president; David Marks, senior vice president for wind energy); PacifiCorp; GE Energy

    WHAT
    Duke has signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with PacifiCorp to provide wind energy-generated electricity from its Campbell Hill Windpower project and also signed a contract with GE Energy for the purchase of more turbines.

    Duke didn't make last year's list but - with the N.C. RES in place - Duke's plans could take it to #1. (click to enlarge)

    WHEN
    - The Duke-PacificCorp PPA is a 20-year contract.
    - Construction on the Duke Energy Campbell Hill Windpower project that will fulfill the PacificCorp PPA will begin early in 2009 and begin generating by late in the year.

    WHERE
    - PacifiCorp serves customers in Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and California.
    - Duke Energy is based in North Carolina.
    - GE Energy is based in Connecticut.
    - Duke will build the wind installation that will provide PacificCorp’s power near Casper, Wyo.

    WHY
    - Duke will build a 66-turbine wind farm to fill the PacifiCorp. Contract.
    - Duke will purchase 100 GE Energy industry-standard 1.5-megawatt turbines for installation in its U.S. wind projects.
    - 1-megawatt of wind energy-generated electricity capacity serves 250-to-300 homes.

    In the U.S., it has become the industry standard. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Wouter van Kempen, president, DEGS: “Today’s announcement strengthens our commitment to investing in wind energy beyond 2008…”
    - David Marks, senior vice president for wind energy, DEGS: “Soaring interest in wind energy has translated into growing demand for turbines and a tightening supply…Securing wind turbines in a very competitive environment provides Duke Energy with the resources it needs to fulfill our commitment to clean, renewable energy…The execution of power purchase agreements and the acquisition of cutting-edge technology are two of the key ingredients needed to commercialize our portfolio of development projects…We’re on the way to making that vision a reality.”

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