NewEnergyNews: 03/01/2008 - 04/01/2008

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

  • Weekend Video: The Ocean Speaks Out
  • Weekend Video: Adapting To The Inevitable
  • Weekend Video: The Joy Of Driving EVs Powered By The Sun
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-HOTTEST SEPTEMBER EVER; WORLD’S HOTTEST MONTHS STREAK AT SIX
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-EU WIND BEATS FOSSIL, NUKE ENERGY PRICES
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-DESERTEC SUCCUMBS TO MIDEAST TURMOIL
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-JAPAN UPS PUSH FOR GEOTHERMAL
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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

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, Oct. 16:

  • TTTA Thursday-THE MILITARY FALLS FOR THE HOAX
  • TTTA Thursday-FORTUNE 100 BUSINESSES BOOST SUN
  • TTTA Thursday-IOWA UTILITY BUYS WIND TO CUT COSTS
  • TTTA Thursday-GETTING ENERGY EFFICIENCY FROM THE CLOUD
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: NEW ENERGY BECOMES PRICE COMPETITIVE
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 15: NEW NUMBERS SHOW BIG OCEAN WIND POWER; SOLAR TURNS IN A NEW DIRECTION; FUEL CELL MARKETS TO VARY, GROW
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: WORLD WIND COMES ON
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 14: THE UTILITY-SOLAR DEBATE OVER WHO PAYS; TECHNICIANS WANTED – APPLY TO WIND; MAKING MULTIFAMILY BLDGS MORE EFFICIENT
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • THE STUDY: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF CONCENTRATING SOLAR POWER PLANTS
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 13: NUCLEAR FADING, NEW ENERGY COMING ON; THE ONE BIG ADVANTAGE OF SOLAR; HALF OF GLOBAL HEAT MAY BE HIDING IN THE OCEANS
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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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  • Monday, March 31, 2008

    HUGE SOLAR POWER PLANT FOR THE WEST, BIGGEST SOLAR POWER PLANT IN THE EAST

    Giant solar power plants were for nearly two decades just something some crazy California types built in the desert, a visonary undertaking rendered eccentric by crashing natural gas prices. Lately, though, natural gas is getting expensive and announcements of new solar power plant projects are becoming more common than allegations of illicit sex among politicians. Utility-sized solar power is suddenly the new new thing.

    FPL Energy bought the Mojave Desert SEGS solar power plants those crazy California types built with rows and rows of parabolic mirror back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Seeing the time is right, FPL is taking all the expertise they gained from operating those plants and moving to dominate the solar power market. They’ve got plans and are acquiring land throughout the southwest for 1,100 megawatts of capacity.

    California utilities are hurrying to catch up with FPL. There are whispers to expect a big announcement soon from Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric about a Stirling Energy Systems breakthrough development in the deserts near San Diego.

    Allco Renewable Energy Group is not satisfied with plans for a huge solar power plant in Rhode Island, the biggest solar power plant east of the Mississippi River. It is reportedly evaluating the possibility of installing wind turbines at the location as well.

    There is one potential wrench in Allco Renewable’s ambitious works: It requires National Grid, the Rhode Island and New England utility power, to approve a 20-year fixed-rate contract to secure its investment. And National Grid does not like to make such contracts.

    It’s practically melodrama: Will Rhode Island get in on the new new thing?

    If any reader is thinking solar energy in Rhode Island sounds odd, think again. Germany leads the world in solar energy development and it has the solar capacity of Anchorage, Alaska.


    Allco Renewable wants to build the biggest solar power plant east of the Mississippi - in Rhode Island. (click to enlarge)

    FPL Energy Advances Solar Strategy; Plans to Build New Solar Electric Generating Facility in California
    March 26, 2008 (Business Wire)
    and
    Developer plans $5 million solar energy farm in Rhode Island
    March 25, 2008 (AP via Boston Globe)
    and
    Developer plans $45 million energy farm
    March 25, 2008 (NBC Providence/New Bedford)

    WHO
    FPL Energy, LLC (Mitch Davidson, president), fully owned subsidiary of FPL Group; California Energy Commission (CEC); Allco Renewable Energy Group; National Grid

    The new FPL Energy plant will use parabolic mirrors to heat water and use the steam produced to drive a turbine. By storing the steam, the solar plant can have the capacity to generate power when there is no sun. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    FPL Energy filed an Application for Certification with CEC to construct, own and operate the 250-megawatt Beacon Solar Energy Project solar power plant.
    Allco Renewable is set on building largest solar energy farm east of the Mississippi River on a former hazardous waste site in Rhode Island.

    WHEN
    - FPL Group first announced its intention to expand its solar energy capacity by at least 600 megawatts by 2015 at the September 2007 Clinton Global Initiative gathering.
    - Construction will begin in 2009 and should begin generating electricity 2 years later.
    - On March 25, Allco Renewable signed a letter of intent to build the solar power project.
    - The proposed project will be on a tract of land declared a federal Superfund cleanup site in the 1980s.

    FPL Energy knows plenty about solar power plant operation. (click to enlarge)

    WHERE
    - The Beacon Solar Energy Project will be located on a 2,000 acre eastern Kern County site in Southern California’s Mojave Desert.
    - FPL Energy has 700 megawatts of wind energy capacity in California.
    - The proposed Allco Renewable site is in Coventry.
    - Allco Renewables is based in New York.

    WHY
    - FPL Energy is the biggest generator of wind energy (5,000+ megawatts, 56 facilities, 16 states) and solar energy (310 megawatts) in the U.S.
    - The Beacon Solar Energy Project will use 500,000 parabolic mirrors and a similar technology to that which FPL Energy has operated at the SEGS Mojave Desert solar power plants. The mirrors concentrate the sun’s power to heat a liquid that flows to boil water into steam that drives a turbine to generate electricity for the grid.
    - FPL Energy has identified 1,100 megawatts of new solar sites andhas begun acquiring land.
    - The project is expected to cost $45 million.
    - The 100-acre tract of Coventry-owned land required hazardous waste cleanup because it was once home to a pig farm.
    - Coventry will give Allco a 50-year lease. Allco will make $200,000/year payments or pay 4% of gross receipts/year, to Coventry, whichever is greater.

    Rumor has it Stirling Energy Systems will soon announce huge installations in California's deserts in partnership with big utilities. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Mitch Davidson, president, FPL Energy: “FPL Energy is a leader in producing energy from clean and renewable sources…At a time of rising and volatile fossil-fuel costs and increasing concerns about greenhouse gases, solar electricity can have a meaningful impact in reducing carbon dioxide emissions that scientists believe contribute to global warming. We believe that solar power has similar long-term potential as wind energy, and we are well positioned to play a leading role in the growth of this renewable technology.”
    - The AP/Boston Globe’s inadequate report: “The project calls for hundreds of 3-foot-by-5-foot solar panels that would rotate from east to west throughout the day.”
    - The inadequate NBC report: “A National Grid spokesman told NBC 10 that the company does not like to enter into 20-year fixed-rate contracts.”

    THE U.S. EMISSIONS PLAN: FOOT-DRAGGING

    Many say Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Johnson’s announcement his agency will finally face its responsibility to establish greenhouse gas (GhG) emission regulations rings hollow. The process his announcement letter initiates is unlikely to be completed in the remaining time the Bush administration that appointed him will hold the White House. The Bush term ends in January 2009.

    Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif), chairman, Senate Environment Committee: "Instead of action, we get more foot-dragging…"

    Senator Boxer’s committee has approved its own climate change legislation and debate on it is expected to come to the Senate floor in June.

    David Hawkins, climate change expert, Natural Resources Defense Council: "The name of the game here is to run out the clock, basically…All of this stuff will come in in a big pile and it will be on the next administration's desk."

    Another thing: By announcing his EPA will issue regulations not just on vehicles but on the full spectrum of emissions sources, Johnson makes the matter much more complicated because it brings U.S. utilities into the controversy. Regulations to mitigate global climate change could cost big utilities like American Electric Power and Southern Company billions of dollars.

    John Kinsman, senior director, utility advocate Edison Electric Institute: "It's appropriate that the EPA fully understands the consequences of using the Clean Air Act tool to address greenhouse gases…"

    What Kinsman means is that he can see how much longer it will take to enact regulations that confront the complexities of both vehicle and stationary sources. And how much easier such complex regulations will be to hang up in the courts.

    Senator Boxer’s legislation, unlike the EPA rules, could potentially be binding on the utilities – but the utilities have allies in the Senate who can be expected to use the power of the filibuster to thwart emissions legislation.


    The letter rings hollow. (click to enlarge)

    Government to propose CO2 rules this spring
    Chris Baltimore (w/Russell Blinch and David Gregorio), March 28, 2008 (Reuters)

    WHO
    The Bush administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, Stephen Johnson

    We're Number One - Public Eneemy Number One. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Johnson informed Congress by letter the EPA will finally revise its 2003 refusal to regulate carbon-dioxide emissions from new cars and trucks in compliance with a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that it must enforce the Clean Air Act.

    WHEN
    Johnson’s March 27 letter said the EPA will issue its standards “later this spring.”

    There are things that can be done. (click to enlarge)

    WHERE
    The U.S. emits the most GhG’s in the world. The Bush administration opposes mandatory emissions caps without similar measures from other major emitters like China and India because it would put the U.S. at a competitive disadvantage.

    WHY
    - The letter initiates the process of obtaining input from business and the public which will result it EPA rules.
    - Johnson says the EPA must consider stationary sources of emissions (power plants, oil refineries, schools, hospitals) if it is going to consider vehicle emissions.
    - Vehicle emissions make up 30% of U.S. GhGs. Coal plants account for 40%.

    It all started because California's Gov. Arnold thought the U.S. could meet a higher auto fuel emissions standard than China. The Bush administration is not down with that. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - From Johnson’s letter: "[The rules will cover] the specific effects of climate change and potential regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from stationary and mobile sources."
    - Johnson, EPA: "This is not just about cars and trucks…potential domino effect of taking a step toward regulating one source could have significant and in fact lasting implications."

    WIND: INCREDIBLE POTENTIAL, PARTICULAR CHALLENGES

    Wind energy is the fastest growing electricity source in most of the world. China is expected to increase its wind energy capacity seven times over in the next five years and U.S. wind is expected to go grow four times by 2012.

    Wind energy is growing so fast it is outgrowing itself. Hardware manufacturers cannot produce turbine parts and components fast enough for turbine builders to meet market demand. These supply bottlenecks could last three to five years.

    And that could be the GOOD news because if the supply problems clear up sooner it will be due to slowing U.S. wind industry growth, the result of a recalcitrant minority in the U.S. Senate denying vital tax credits and driving U.S. wind businesses overseas.

    The boom in wind energy comes just as the U.S. is beginning to face up to its responsibilities in the effort to mitigate global climate change. It would be a shame to see a minority of Senators stuck in the 1950s impede wind's growth and the emissions reductions that come with it.

    Tom Gray, Director of Communications,
    American Wind Energy Association (AWEA): “…it’s worth noting that the two obstacles (subsidies and shortages) are related–the U.S.’s failure to extend incentives for wind for more than a year or two at a time has created an unstable business environment. A long-term extension of the production tax credit is needed to provide stability and encourage manufacturers to invest in new capacity.”

    Is there a trend here? (click to enlarge)

    Wind Power: Crunch Now, Clear Skies Ahead
    Keith Johnson, March 28, 2008 (Wall Street Journal)

    WHO
    BTM Consult (Per Krogsgaard, Director); Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) (Arthouros Zervos, Chairman);

    Boom now and boom coming. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    World wind energy, which accounted for ¼ of all new electricity production built in 2007, faces short term political and manufacturing challenges but only immense growth potential in the long term.

    WHEN
    - 2007 world wind energy capacity: 94 gigawatts.
    - 2012 world wind energy capacity (BTM projection): 287 gigawatts.
    - 2012 world wind energy capacity (GWEC projection): 240 gigawatts.

    Where the world is now. (click to enlarge)

    WHERE
    - BTM is based in Denmark.
    - GWEC is based in Brussels.

    WHY
    - The U.S. presently has 16 gigawatts of wind capacity and is expected to grow to 60 gigawatts in the next five years.
    - Both world experts expect the Senate to extend wind energy’s tax credits before they expire.
    - A gigawatt is approximately the same as the capacity of a nuclear reactor.
    - Turbine supply shortages are largely attributable to component shortages (ex: castings, ball bearings, gear-boxes)

    Where the world is going. Is the U.S. coming along? (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Arthouros Zervos, Chairman, GWEC: “Growth could be much stronger also in the future, were it not for continuing supply chain difficulties which considerably limit the growth…for the next two years…”
    - Per Krogsgaard, Director, BTM: “[Turbine shortages due mainly to turbine parts shortages will likely last] for three to five more years.”

    Sunday, March 30, 2008

    WIND-POWERED CARS FOR WIND-POWERED DANES

    An exciting New Energy synergy is emerging between Denmark’s powerful wind and the electric vehicle transportation revolution an Israeli visionary is creating.

    Shai Agassi founded Project Better Place with riches from his many Silicon Valley ventures. His goal: To make real his vision of electric vehicle (EV) transportation. He wants to create a network of battery charging and battery switching stations where EV drivers can conveniently charge or replace drained batteries and go on their way just like drivers who fill up at gas stations.

    Having secured approval from the government of his native Israel to build the first network there, he has now entered into a partnership with DONG Energy of Denmark where together they will build the second Project Better Place network.

    Building in Denmark offers Agassi a very special opportunity. Denmark has been building wind energy since 1979 and expects to generate 25% of its electricity from wind by the end of 2008. Nevertheless, much of Denmark’s wind goes to waste because the wind goes on blowing when electricity demand falls off.

    Beginning in 2011, 20,000 Project Better Place recharging stations will be downloading electricity for millions of EV batteries from the grid. Much of that charging can take place during off-peak hours utilizing otherwise wasted wind energy. Some of the stored energy can be available during peak demand for reloading at no extra cost.

    On the rare days when wind is lacking, the network will still get its electricity from Denmark’s grid, which seamessly integrates wind power and coal plant generation. Denmark has reduced its greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions by 15% using this mix and Project Better Place transportation is expected to significantly lower emissions further despite increasing electricity consumption.


    This short silent animation explains the Project Better Place concepts of recharging and battery-switching stations. (Double click to activate.)

    After the Israeli and Danish networks are moving ahead, Agassi will take his dream to the rest of Europe. He has said he also wants to build a recharging station network in Manhattan.

    Electric car system planned in Denmark by 2011 using surplus wind power
    March 27, 2008 (AP via International Herald Tribune)

    WHO
    DONG Energy (Anders Eldrup, chief executive); Project Better Place(Shai Agassi, founder/CEO); Renault; Nissan

    Denmark gets more than 20% of its power from wind and will hit 25% some time this year. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Project Better Place will partner with DONG Energy to market its EVs and build its recharging stations throughout Denmark, using the unique advantages of Denmark’s wind energy supply.

    WHEN
    Denmark’s recharging network is expected to be ready in 2011.

    Denmark is all islands and peninsulas between the Baltic and North Seas. (click to enlarge)

    WHERE
    - The recharging stations will be conveniently located in parking lots and residential areas. The idea is to make them at least as accessible as neighborhood gas stations.

    WHY
    - Denmark will have 20,000 recharging stations for its population of 54.million.
    - Renault will build the EVs. Nissan will supply lithium-ion batteries.
    - The EVs will have a 90 mile all-electric range.
    - The stations will be automated. The vehicle’s run-down batteries will be pulled out and a charged battery will be installed.

    Denmark's region is rich with wind energy assets. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Agassi, Project Better Place: "We're in discussion with 30 countries — Europe, America and Asian nations…"
    - Elders, DONG Energy: "The extra energy we have, we can use in an intelligent way by putting it in batteries…The cars' CO2 emission would still be half of what it is today with fossil fuels…"

    CANADA WILL PAY FOR CCS

    Define Irony: The carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) project Canada's conservative government claims is the answer to global climate change will be (partially) financed by oil field operators who will recoup their investment by pumping the captured gases into aging oil wells to enhance oil recovery (EOR). That oil, of course, will be burned and produce more greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions, thereby worsening global climate change.

    The cost for building a tiny 100-megawatt facility equipped with CCS technology will be $1.4 billion. The previous government’s plans to build a 300-megawatt facility were canceled when projected costs ran to $3.8 billion. The province of Saskatchewan alone generates 3,500 megawatts. That’s a lot of billions going into CCS technology.

    Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall: “Imagine the commercialization opportunities for that technology around the world…Imagine the interest in India, China and the United States, who, by the way, are forecasting a greater reliance on coal, not less.”

    Imagine that somebody in Premier Wall's constituency owns stock in a CCS manufacturing company...

    Environmentalists have suggested the money might be better spent on clean New Energy projects. You think?


    Where the multibillion dollar action will be. (click to enlarge)

    PM highlights carbon capture in climate change plans
    Tim Cook, March 26, (The Canadian Press via CNews)

    WHO
    Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, SaskPower

    SaskPower's plan. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Harper talked about the short term costs and long term benefits of investing Canadian resources in carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology, also known as “clean coal.”

    WHEN
    Canada’s first CCS project, the SaskPower Boundary Dam project, is expected to go online in 2015.

    SaskPower's network and power mix. (click to enlarge)

    WHERE
    The Boundary Dam power station is in southeastern Saskatchewan.

    WHY
    - CCS is a key plank in the Harper-led Conservative Party plan to address global climate change.
    - Saskatchewan relies heavily on coal-fired power plants and therefore is the Canadian province with the highest rate of greenhouse gas emissions.
    - The SaskPower Boundary Dam project will have the capacity to capture for sequestration 100 megawatts of coal-fired power. It wil cost $1.4 billion. Canada will pay $240 million, Saskatchewan will pay $758 million and the balance will come from private sector investment.
    - The private sector money will come from nearby oil field operators who will use the captured CO2 gases to enhance oil production.

    The captured CO2 gas will go to enhance oil recovery which, of course, results in more fossil fuel burning and more emissions. "Clean" coal = more oil. A perfect solution for the 1950s. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Harper, on the cost of CCS: “All the cost pressures on energy, including admittedly cost pressures around environmental regulation, are likely to lead to upward pressure on power prices across this country in years to come…Canadians have to understand that there is a price to this.”
    - Harper, on the cost again: “These remain expensive technologies…The federal government doesn’t have plans to fund cost overruns…Obviously the province and the other partners will be watching those very closely.”

    ISRAELI-GERMAN SOLAR TECHNOLOGY READIES FOR MARKET

    A concentrating solar power concept developed by an Israeli-German research team at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University and Germany's Fraunhofer Institute is about to be the newest entry in a growing competition among solar power plant technologies.

    Zenith Solar uses a 10-sq.-meter (107.6-sq.-ft.) dish of curved mirrors (made from composite materials) to focus sunlight on a 100-sq.-centimeter (15.5-sq.-in.) "generator." The generator converts light to electricity and gives off intense heat that is captured for residential/industrial hot-water. It is the combination of electricity generation AND heat capturing capacity that makes the contraption potent enough to render an estimated 70% of the sunpower falling on it as usable energy.

    This concept has tested as 1,000 times more efficient than flat rooftop photovoltaic (PV) panels. Just as importantly, it does not use silicon. David Faiman, chief scientific officer, Zenith: "Photovoltaic material accounts for 80% of the cost of standard systems…Our technology succeeds in reducing this to less than 10%, while at the same time obtaining very high efficiency."

    The Zenith system will now get 2 trials. 86 7-meter-high dishes over an acre of land will provide 25% of the energy needs for 250 families at Kibbutz Yavne. Another will replace heating oil used at a large chemical plant in central Israel. When the trials prove the technology, Zenith will go commercial, probably in 2009, with installations for individual homes and larger customers.

    The excitement the Zenith system generates is based on the expectation its high efficiency will make it more cost-effective than traditional PV rooftop systems that are estimated to be 2 to 3 times more expensive than the cost of conventional power generation. Amit Mor, CEO, Israeli consultant Eco-Energy: "Photovoltaic can't continue to exist on subsidies or it will remain a marginal form of energy…"

    The Zenith principals claim their device will produce energy at the same cost as conventional sources.


    The Zenith Solar concept seems a lot like a technology reported on by NewEnergyNews in November 2007: BRAND NEW SUN IN ISRAEL and ISRAELI SOLAR CONCEPT FUNDED

    A Zenith Solar power plant. (click to enlarge)

    At the Zenith of Solar; Israeli energy startup Zenith Solar is pioneering a “concentrated solar power” method that is up to five times more efficient than standard technology
    Neal Sandler, March 26, 2008 (BusinessWeek)

    WHO
    Zenith Solar (Roy Segev, founder/chief executive & David Faiman, chief scientific officer)

    David Faiman, chief science officer for Zenith Solar and the grand old man of Israeli solar energy. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Following test results proving its technology to be 1,000 times more efficient than standard rooftop solar panels and capable of turning 70% of the sunlight that hits it into usable energy, Zenith Solar is preparing for field tests and large scale commercialization.

    WHEN
    - In the 1990s the Israeli government required all new residential buildings to install solar water-heating systems.
    - Zenith Solar was founded in 2006.

    It's a harsh land but rich in sun. (click to enlarge)

    WHERE
    - Zenith Solar is based in Nes Ziona near Tel Aviv.
    - The Zenith concept was tested at Israel's National Solar Center in the Negev desert.
    - The company is aiming at large market opportunities in the U.S., Spain, Italy, Greece, India, and China.

    WHY
    - Zenith Solar has raised $5 million from Israeli and U.S. VCs and is looking for $10 million to $15 million more to commercialize.
    - It’s 1 million solar hot water systems presently meet 4% of Israel’s total power requirements.
    - The Zenith Solar concept could supply another 12%.

    click to enlarge

    QUOTES
    - Roy Segev, founder/chief executive, Zenith Solar: "Our goal is to utilize every suitable roof, backyard, and open space in Israel to turn households, hotels, and factories into net producers of electricity and thermal heat…"
    - Segev, on taking the company international: "In California alone, there are 6.9 million private homes that could potentially produce most or all of their own energy…"
    - David Faiman, chief scientific officer, Zenith: "The first generation of our technology should be capable of harnessing about 70% of the solar energy that hits the dish to produce electricity and thermal heat…"

    Saturday, March 29, 2008

    The Amazing Scale Of Wind


    The Amazing Scale Of Wind: Watch for 20 seconds as a truck hauling huge wind turbine blades drives by. There is no better way to grasp the size and capacity of wind energy. (from YouTube)

    Biofuel, not Agrofuel, from Algae


    Biofuel, not Agrofuel, from Algae: Take three-and-a-half minutes to find out how and why oil can someday be replaced by algae. And algae eats greenhouse gas emissions! (from GreenEnergyTV)

    eSolar’s Bill Gross explains his solar power plant


    Bill Gross, founder and chairman of eSolar, explains in less than a minute the solar plant concept that Google recently invested $10 million in. (from GreenEnergyTV)

    Friday, March 28, 2008

    PLUG-IN VEHICLES: DIABOLIC SABOTAGE AND DASTARDLY PERFIDY

    Diabolic Sabotage: With the California Air Resources Board (CARB) dealing another severe blow to efforts to bring electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) to U.S. pavement, it might be time to note that it’s not paranoia if there really is somebody out there.

    CARB voted to reduce from 25,000 to 7,500 the number of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) required of the major automakers for California from 2012 to 2014. CARB also reduced the staff-recommended 75,000 PHEV requirement for the state to 58,000 in the 2012 to 2014 period. What is the implication? Chelsea Sexton, executive director, Plug-in America: "It's a huge blow…They sent the message to the carmakers that they can always get what they want from the board."

    As a caveat to ZEV advocates, CARB voted to rewrite its ZEV program and include more rigorous emissions reductions – but not until next year.

    Forget CARB - take it to the marketplace! (click to enlarge)

    Dastardly Perfidy: This CARB action came in the same spirit as a February 25 USA Today story reporting, inaccurately, that coal-plant-generated electricity to charge a PHEV with a 40 mile electric range would result in worse emissions than those from the tailpipe of a gasoline powered vehicle.

    Much of the USA Today story was based on a study from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC): “The NRDC calculus shows that a plug-in charged from a power plant burning the dirtiest type of coal still has an overall pollution level less than a conventional gasoline car. But it would produce 11% more greenhouse gas emissions than a regular, non-plug-in hybrid, according to Luke Tonachel, vehicles analyst at the NRDC and co-author of the group's report on plug-ins.”

    Here’s the thing: Where the dirtiest coal is used, this is probably true. Dirty coal is even worse than petroleum-based gasoline. But only 49% of U.S. power comes from coal. (Is there any coal but dirty coal right now?)

    On the other hand, Tonachel told USA Today that “…charging a plug-in with electricity from renewable resources — wind or water, for instance — cuts overall greenhouse gas emissions to as low as a conventional gasoline car getting 74 mpg…” (IF a major automaker made such a vehicle...)

    On average, across the country, PHEVs would undoubtedly LOWER emissions even in a nation like the U.S. that remains half-dependent on the dirtiest kind of power. This does not even consider the likelihood that PHEVs would first be taken up largely in the more progressive areas of the nation where dirty coal is NOT the main source of electricity.

    Tonachel himself did not like the way USA Today reported on his study and
    subsequently posted this: “As someone who has been enthusiastically watching and promoting plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, I was concerned that the headline…could lead to misperceptions about the environmental benefits of plug-in hybrid vehicles. The fact is that plug-ins are an important opportunity for reducing pollution…”

    The story also reports on a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) study that finds potential sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions and acid rain increases where dirty coal is burned to charge PHEVs. First, all but the most out-of-date coal plants have control systems for SO2. SO2 is nothing like the CO2 problem. And, second, the problem is not PHEVs, it is dirty coal.

    Dependence on dirty coal is the story USA Today should be reporting. Why are they picking on the solution instead of the problem?

    Here’s Chelsea Sexton, executive director, Plug In America: "[The story] borders on the irresponsible, ignoring the full picture and cherry-picking negative facts from different studies in order to prove a point that doesn't exist."

    And here’s Felix Kramer, PHEV builder and advocate: "USA Today automotive reporter Jim Healey [has]…gone back to several reports released months ago, including one by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the Natural Resources Defense Council, and selectively cherry-picked the most unlikely scenarios under which coal could be the culprit for PHEVs resulting in higher emissions. While eliciting worst-case comments from NRDC, he failed to ask EPRI for its views.”

    The
    EPRI/NRDC study in fact describes nine different power generation and PHEV uptake scenarios. In all nine, PHEV use leads to annual and cumulative greenhouse gas emissions reductions anywhere in the U.S.: “…Each region of the country will yield reductions in GHG emissions…”

    Finally, the whole story is entirely out of context. Charles Griffith, auto project director, the Ecology Center: "It seems a little premature to think of it being a problem — but there are a lot of issues we should have been thinking of sooner…The scenario where there are so many plug-in hybrids plugged into the (electric power) grid that you'll see a change in air quality just doesn't sound true to me."

    It’s not paranoia if there really is somebody out there…


    The last time CARB wimped out, GM killed its EV program. What will it do this time? (click to enlarge)

    State deals blow to zero-emission vehicle supporters; The Air Resources Board substantially reduces the number of clean-air cars that big automakers will be required to sell in the next few years
    Ken Bensinger, March 28, 2008 (LA Times)
    and
    PHEV Blowback
    March 3, 2008 (Plug-In Partners)
    and
    Plug-in cars could actually increase air pollution
    James R. Healy, February 25, 2008 (USA Today)

    WHO
    California Air Resources Board (CARB) (Mary Nichols, Chairwoman); Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) (Luke Tonachel, vehicle analyst/co-author, PHEV report); Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI); Minnesota Pollution Control Agency; U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)

    This could create an opening for independents like Fisker Karma and Tesla - or it could spell their doom. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    With diabolic sabotage, CARB set the cause of EVs in California back by failing to use the power of the Board to require major automakers to bring plug-in vehicles to market. This follows dastardly perfidy in a USA Today story reporting, though it is NOT true that, overall, on average, across the country, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) create worse emissions than gas-powered vehicles. What IS true is that it is important to do two things: Get cars on the grid AND clean up the grid.

    The details of this EPRI graph are hard to read but it is easy to see the conventionally fueled vehicle (far left) produces much higher emissions than PHEVs charged from any power source. (click to enlarge)

    WHEN
    -CARB voted to reduce from 25,000 to 7,500 the number of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) in California from 2012 to 2014. CARB also reduced the staff recommended 75,000 PHEV requirement to 58,000 for the 2012 to 2014 period.
    - The first PHEVs from the major automakers are expected to be in showrooms by 2010 and most auto industry analysts expect them to be commonplace within 5 years.
    - DOE intends to make PHEVs cost-competitive by 2014 and ready for commercialization by 2016.

    WHERE
    - CARB’s decision applies only in California but is widely seen as an auto industry driving standard.
    - The USA Today article distorted the truth at vehicle tailpipes and coal plant smokestacks.

    Similarly, this EPRI graph shows the same thing for Year 2050 and a variety of power plant technologies. (click to enlarge)

    WHY
    - Coal plant emissions: Soot particles can make it hard to breathe, especially for asthmatics. Mercury is toxic. SO2 is toxic in large amounts and is a component of corrosive acid rain.
    - USA Today reports that General Motors' Chevrolet Volt, expected to be not a hybrid but a battery-powered vehicle with gas-powered auxillary battery-charger, will be in showrooms by 2010 or 2011 and could sell 60,000 in its first year if the price is below $30,000.
    - PHEVs are also being developed by Saturn, Toyota and Ford.
    - DOE is offering $30 million for a PHEV with a 40 mile electric range.

    EPRI ran 9 scenarios and never showed the PHEV putting out more emissions than a conventional vehicle - yet USA Today says it does. A mistake? (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Natural Resources Defense Council report: "There is a possibility for significant increases of soot and mercury…"
    - Howard Learner, executive director, Environmental Law & Policy Center: "…really important emerging technology — where the cleaner technologies are used to charge them… Plug-in hybrids are perhaps not good for all areas…[in] states that are heavily coal, that equation doesn't work out very well for the environment."
    - Minnesota Pollution Control Agency study on alternative vehicles: "Alternative vehicles offer benefits, but no single technology currently stands out as a clear choice."
    - Jaycie Chitwood, senior planner, Toyota: "It will come…It's more a question of 'when' than 'if.' "
    - Mary Nichols, Chairwoman, CARB: "Everything is interpreted as a signal. I'm just hoping that by 2014, we'll have our new revised program in place…The auto companies need to understand that this is not just a collaborative effort we're involved in with them, it's really a serious push to transform their fleets."
    - R. James Woolsey, former CIA Director/Plug-in vehicle advocate, brandishing a $4.97 extension cord at the CARB members: "…infrastructure investment could be reduced to this."

    WIND FOR TOMORROW

    Larry Flowers, national technical director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)’s Wind Powering America, talked recently about the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. wind energy industry goal to provide 20% of the country’s electricity by 2030. He said such growth will cost $2.4 trillion but provide $444 billion in total economic benefits, cut four trillion gallons of water use by the other power generating industries and enormously reduce U.S. greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions.

    Those who doubt the wind energy industry’s ability to grow that fast don’t know the men and women of the wind energy industry. Flowers: "Texas has a $7 billion wind farm planned that would have as many as 2,000 wind turbines and generate up to 4,000 MW of electricity…" That's just one installation.

    The only thing that will slow wind power’s development is bad government policy. For the last few months a recalcitrant minority in the U.S. Senate has been using the arcane power of the filibuster to block extension of vital production tax credits (PTCs) and investment tax credits (ITCs). If that Senatorial bunch of pawns to the Old Energy industries remains entrenched, the U.S. wind industry will have no choice but to move to Europe and China. Given proper incentives, wind industry leaders expect to beat the 20% by 2030 goal by a good measure.

    Flowers: "Initial input costs continue to be one of the biggest challenges for wind energy. New wind is more expensive than the old wind…But maintained turbines can last for decades."

    Wind energy isn’t perfect and isn’t right everywhere. Flowers listed siting, permitting, access and cost considerations. But wind’s value as a boon to the environment and as a source of secure domestic energy is self-evident.

    Flowers also pointed out wind energy’s special value to rural regions. Agricultural and grazing lands can do double duty as wind turbine sites for which farmers can earn land lease payments. In addition, rural turbine installations add jobs to local economies and offer new opportunity to rural youth.


    This map was accurate through the end of 2007. It's out of date now. That's growth! (click to enlarge)

    Wind energy is investment for the future
    Jennifer Bremer, March 26, 2008 (High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal)

    WHO
    Larry Flowers, national technical director, Wind Powering America (National Renewable Energy Laboratory, NREL)

    The only thing in the way of this annual growth is a minority of Senators mired in yesterday. (slide from Wayne Walker of the American Wind Wildlife Institute, AWWI - click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Flowers talked about the reasons behind wind energy’s huge and unprecedented growth, about its potential and about its special value for rural America.

    WHEN
    - 1981-2: first wind energy installations (in California)
    - 1999: 4 U.S. states had wind energy installations
    - 2008: 34 states have installations and the U.S. has more than 16, 600 megawatts

    This is where wind can go in the next quarter century. (slide from Wayne Walker, AWWI - click to enlarge)

    WHERE
    - Flowers spoke at the 2008 Commodity Classic in Nashville, TN
    - World wind energy leaders: Germany, the U.S., Spain, India and China.
    - World total wind (January 2008): 90,521 megawatts.

    WHY
    - Flowers described the range of wind turbine sizes, appropriate for different purposes and locations: 1-kilowatt for family homes, 1.5 to 2.5-megawatts for most big wind farms and 3 to 10-megawatts (10 megawatts?) for offshore installations.
    - Grants and tax credits are presently available to builders. In addition to public policy supporting wind, fossil fuel prices are rising while wind energy’s price is falling and that parity will become more real when fossil fuels are required to account for the cost of greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions.
    - Environmental concerns (no water consumption, no particulate matter, no mercury, no GhGs) and energy security factors (no foreign imports) also favor wind’s growth.

    Farmers and ranchers can get double duty and double income from their land. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Flowers: "It can be a wind turbine small enough to power a family home or one big enough to power an entire village. We are seeing more and more of them across the country side…"
    - Flowers: "When wind is blowing and turbines are running, we decrease our dependence on natural gas and other fuels…"
    - Flowers: "Renewable energy will be here forever…"

    DOE TIPS SOLAR RESEARCH A DIME

    Professor Nathan Lewis of the California Institute of Technology recently pointed out that the U.S. spends more at the gas pump every HOUR than it spends on solar energy research every YEAR.

    The $13.7 million in U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grants reported here require 20% matching funds from the recipient universities or their private industry partners, meaning the total investment will be $17.4 million.

    If NewEnergyNews is reading these budget numbers correctly,
    total research spending on fossil fuel energy in 2007 was nearly four hundred seventy million dollars. Total research spending on nuclear energy in 2007 was in the three hundred forty million dollar range. Total solar and wind energy expenditures, research and everything else, in 2007 was just over one hundred ninety million dollars.

    A recent Government Accounting Office (GAO) study indicates the fossil fuel industry numbers may be over half a billion dollars and the nuclear industry numbers as high as $1.2 billion while solar and wind remain near $0.2 billion.

    The point: The U.S. gets the energy industry it pays for.

    According to DOE, the projects it is investing this new money in will bring solar energy prices from their present $0.18-$0.23/kilowatt hour (kWh) price to a market competitive $0.05 - $0.10/kWh. Half way through the next decade.

    DOE: “These projects are integral to President Bush’s Solar America Initiative, which aims to make solar energy cost-competitive with conventional forms of electricity by 2015.”

    Details on the universities and the research projects getting the money are at
    the DOE site.

    It's not a pretty picture. Close study shows upticks for fossil fuels R&D during the 2 Bush administrations. (click to enlarge)

    Energy Dept. unveils solar project funds
    March 21, 2008 (UPI)
    and
    U.S. Department of Energy to Invest up to $13.7 Million for Brekathrough Solar Energy Projects; 11 Projects selected from universities across the country
    Tom Welch, March 12, 2008 (Department of Energy)

    WHO
    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)

    WHAT
    DOE announced it will invest $13.7 million in 11 advanced solar energy technology university research projects.

    In 2006, coal and nuclear were getting most of the love, even as global climate change worsened and nuclear waste storage at Yucca Mtn. was rejected. (click to enlarge)

    WHEN
    - The grants will be allotted over 3 years, 2008 through 2010.
    - The goal of President Bush’s Solar America Initiative is to make solar energy cost-competitive with conventional forms of electricity by 2015.

    WHERE
    The universities selected: Arizona State University, the California Institute of Technology, the Georgia Institute of Technology, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, North Carolina State University, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Delaware, the University of Florida, the University of Toledo

    click to enlarge

    WHY
    - Each university will have a solar energy industry partner.
    - The projects fall in 2 general areas: (1) How to efficiently manufacture more efficient solar cells and (2) How to facilitate commercialization and marketing of solar technology.
    - DOE describes solar energy as a form of energy diversification that will cut greenhouse gas emissions and relieve U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
    - DOE hopes to retain scientists and graduate students in the field by immersing them in the commercial process through these projects.
    - The projects selected:
    (1)Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ) with SolFocus and Soliant Energy: Reliability Evaluation of Concentrator Photovoltaics per IEC Qualification Specifications. DOE will provide up to $625,304 for this approximately $800,000 project.
    (2)California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, CA) with Spectrolab: 100 millimeter (mm) Engineered InP on Si Laminate Substrates for InP based Multijunction Solar Cells. DOE will provide up to $837,000 for this approximately $1 million project.
    (3)Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA) with Sixtron: Rear Contact Technologies for Next- Generation High-Efficiency Commercial Silicon Solar Cells. DOE will provide up to $1.5 million for this approximately $1.9 million project.
    (4)Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA) with CaliSolar, Inc. and BP Solar, Inc: Defect Engineering, Cell Processing, and Modeling for High-Performance, Low-Cost Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics. DOE will provide up to $1.5 million for this approximately $1.9 million project.
    (5)North Carolina State University (Raleigh, NC) with Spectrolab: Tunable Narrow Bandgap Absorbers for Ultra High Efficiency Multijunction Solar Cells. DOE will provide up to $1,147,468 for this approximately $1.4 million project.
    (6)Pennsylvania State University (University Park, PA) with Honeywell: Organic Semiconductor Heterojunction Solar Cells for Efficient, Low-Cost, Large Area Scalable Solar Energy Conversion. DOE will provide up to $1,231,843 for this approximately $1.5 million project.



    (7)University of Delaware Institute of Energy Conversion (Newark, DE) with Dow Corning: Development of a Low-Cost Insulated Foil Substrate for CIGS Photovoltaics. DOE will provide up to $1,478,331 for this approximately $1.85 million project.
    (8)University of Delaware (Newark, DE) with SunPower: High Efficiency Back Contact Silicon Heterojunction Solar Cells. DOE will provide up to $1,494,736 for this approximately $1.9 million project.
    (9)University of Florida (Gainesville FL) with Global Solar Energy Inc., International Solar Electric Technology Inc., Nanosolar Inc., and Solyndra Inc: Routes for Rapid Synthesis of CIGS Absorbers. DOE will provide up to $599,556 for this approximately $800,000 project.
    (10)University of Toledo (Toledo, OH) with Calyxo USA, Inc: Improved Atmospheric Vapor Pressure Deposition to Produce Thin CdTe Absorber Layers. DOE will provide up to $1,164,174 for this approximately $1.7 million project.
    (11)University of Toledo (Toledo, OH) with Xunlight: High-Rate Fabrication of a-Si-Based Thin-Film Solar Cells Using Large-area VHF PECVD. DOE will provide up to $1,442,266 for this approximately $1.9 million project.

    QUOTES
    Alexander Karsner, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, DOE “Harnessing the natural and abundant power of the sun and more cost-effectively converting it into energy has enormous potential to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide greater stability in electricity costs…These projects will not only bolster innovation in photovoltaic technology, but they will help meet the President’s goal of making clean and renewable solar power commercially viable by 2015.”

    Thursday, March 27, 2008

    THE CARBON TAX LESSON: INVEST IN NEW ENERGY

    There are two general proposals for cutting U.S. greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions. One is for Congress to institute a mandatory national cap-and-trade system, capping all major sources of emissions and charging emitters a price/ton for excess emissions.

    The other approach is to tax all sales of emissions-generating products, adding a surcharge on electricity produced by natural gas and coal and adding a surcharge for fuels such as heating oil and auto gas. Refiners and manufacturers would also have to pay for their spew.

    Cap-and-trade has been shown to get a reaction from the marketplace. It was key to the mitigation of North America’s acid rain problem in the 1990s. A cap-and-trade system has been evolving in the EU since 2005 with mixed reviews and mixed success.

    The tax has been at work in four Scandanavian countries since the 1990s. Emissions have gone up in three, in Norway by 43%. But the tax has led to a significant drop in Denmark’s emissions (now 15% below 1990 levels). What made the difference? What can be learned?

    The first thing to learn is that a tax is unlikely in any but the most liberal of western democracies. No matter how good the plan is, any politician campaigning for a tax with even the best of arguments can always be hammered by an opponent warning voters to “beware of anybody who wants to raise your taxes!” That's why in France and Germany, where people are accustomed to gas taxes, leaders considered a carbon tax too polically difficult.

    Both the cap-and-trade system and the tax system are only as good as the way they are applied. In the case of cap-and-trade, the EU has discovered the system is sure to fail if the emissions allotments are too freely given. Although the system caps overall emissions, over-emitters can pay for the privilege to spew by buying allotment credits (on trading markets) from under-emitters, who thereby profit from efficiencies and New Energy use. If the allotment credits are not expensive enough, the incentive to reduce emissions isn't there.

    In the case of the carbon tax, economist Monica Prasad argued in the NY Times that Denmark’s success was not in getting leaders to like the tax but in getting them to use it's revenues well. Prasad: “The very thought of new tax revenue has a way of changing the priorities of the most hard-headed politicians — even Genghis Khan learned to be peaceful, the story goes, when he saw how much more rewarding it was to tax peasants than to kill them…”

    The only way an electorate will accept a carbon tax is if voters understand the revenues will come back to them. This was relatively easier in Scandinavia, where voters are familiar with the trade-off between taxes and services. In the U.S., tax advocates seem willing to promise anything from new toasters to free makeovers.

    Prasad: “…Carbon tax discussions always seem to devolve into gleeful suggestions for ways to spend the revenue. Reduce the income tax? Give the money to low-income consumers? Use it to pay for health care? Everyone seems to forget that the amount of revenue is directly tied to the amount of pollution that is still going on…”

    Prasad explains that the reason the tax effectively cut emissions in Denmark is that revenues were applied to subsidize the building of New Energy and to incentivize the introduction of efficiencies. Once dependent on coal, Denmark now gets more than 20% of its electricity from wind and expects that to be 25% by the end of 2008. The change happened when the Danish government applied carbon tax revenues to make building and buying wind accessible.

    For this reason, tax advocate Prasad objects to a gas tax: “Higher gas taxes would raise revenue but do little to curb pollution.”

    By building New Energy and efficient technologies, energy consumption goes down and the externalized burdens from using Old Energy go down. Health gets better, air and water get cleaner. Over time, the electorate reaps the rewards not just of reduced GhG emissions but of a whole new understanding of energy and it's relationship to everyday life. Applying the tax revenues for anything else completely defeats the purpose of the tax.

    Prasad: “…a carbon tax has been promoted almost as a panacea — just pop in the economic incentives and watch them work their magic. But unless steps are taken to lock the tax revenue away from policymakers and invest in substitutes, a carbon tax could lead to more revenue rather than to less pollution…”

    Bottom line: The only way a carbon tax effectively cuts emissions is to use the revenue to build New Energy and reward those who adopt efficiency measures.

    The problem: In the U.S., business and industry have habituated the electorate to bear the burden of innumerable externalized costs. Can that electorate be convinced to overcome its knee-jerk reaction to new taxes by an argument promising to relieve it of a burden it remains only mutteringly aware of?

    With respect to the tax, consider
    THE CASE FOR A CARBON TAX

    With respect to cap-and-trade systems, consider Cap and Share

    (slide from The Carbon Tax Center/carbontax.org - click to enlarge)

    On Carbon, Tax and Don’t Spend
    Monica Prasad, March 25, 2008 (NY Times)

    WHO
    Monica Prasad, assistant professor of sociology/faculty fellow, Institute for Policy Research/Northwestern University and author, The Politics of Free Markets

    (slide from The Carbon Tax Center/carbontax.org - click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Prasad contends the carbon tax will fail to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions unless the lessons learned from Scandinavian carbon taxes are applied and tax revenues are used to subsidize the building of New Energy and to incentivize the introduction of efficiencies.

    WHEN
    Following the November 2008 election, a policy measure mandating emissions mitigation through market caps or taxation is expected from the new president and the next congress. Most observers now think a cap-and-trade system is more likely.

    By applying carbon tax revenues constructively, Denmark cut its emissions dramatically and now gets nearly 25% of its power from wind. (click to enlarge)

    WHERE
    - According to Prasad, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden have had carbon taxes in place since the 1990s. Finland, Norway and Sweden’s emissions have increased, Norway’s by 43%.
    - Denmark’s per capita GhG emissions were ~15% below 1990 levels in 2005.

    WHY
    - With all four remaining presidential candidates advocates of stronger emissions mitigation, a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system looks inevitable.
    - Denmark has used the carbon tax revenues to subsidize the building of a New Energy infrastructure and to incentivize energy efficiency measures.
    - Using the revenues to appease the tax base will fail to mitigate emissions despite the costs of taxation. A gas tax seems to fall into this category.

    (slide from The Carbon Tax Center/carbontax.org - click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Prasad: “Everyone seems to be talking about a carbon tax. It’s probably the most glamorous — and certainly the most unlikely — use of the tax code since Al Capone got hooked for tax evasion.”
    - Prasad: “The next president of the United States seems sure to be more committed to environmental policy than the current president is, and a carbon tax is high on everyone’s list of options.”
    - Prasad: “…if we want to reduce carbon emissions, then we should follow Denmark’s example: tax the industrial emission of carbon and return the revenue to industry through subsidies for research and investment in alternative energy sources, cleaner-burning fuel, carbon-capture technologies and other environmental innovations.”

    AZ BUYS NM WIND

    In the ongoing Washington, D.C., debate over a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES), some southeastern states object to being drawn into a national plan because they claim they lack adequate resources to meet a minimum level of New Energy production. A situation developing in the southwest might be instructive.

    Arizona Corporation Commissioner Kris Mayes is concerned because Arizona Public Service Co. (APS), the state’s biggest utility, is buying wind-generated and geothermal-generated electricity from neighboring states. Mayes believes this reduces the jobs and investment benefits New Energy could generate in Arizona’s economy.

    Mayes is also angry because Arizona adds almost $2.00/month to customer bills to fund New Energy development. Mayes: "This is Arizona ratepayer money that is currently going to other states that ought to stay in Arizona…We are in an economic downturn. It's a terrible time to be investing out of state."

    APS is just looking to buy the cheapest electricity it can.

    Commissioner Gary Pierce: "If we are getting the objective we want - the use of renewable energy - we should get it for the cheapest price possible for ratepayers…All things being equal, you want to do it in Arizona."

    But all things are not equal. Arizona ranks 30th in the U.S. for wind energy potential and its best winds blow during its warm winters when electricity demand is lowest.

    Don Brandt, CEO, APS: "We put all these projects out with a competitive bid…Then we select the resource that comes out the best. It's not always the cheapest. It's a combination of price, reliability and do-ability, all the things a common businessperson would look at…We always pick the resource that's best for our customer…We are not going to put business in New Mexico if we could find the equivalent here."

    Arizona’s huge assets are in solar energy and its Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) puts extra emphasis on developing them. The day will come, sooner or later, when Arizona’s neighbors need the cheap solar-generated electricity it is in the early stages of developing.

    Meanwhile, Arizona is supporting more than the development of its neighbors’ assets. It is assuring that the grid is capable of carrying electricity between the states. Right now, sales are going out of Arizona but that won’t always be the case.

    In a similar way, southeastern states might be more motivated to be part of a national RES if they could in some way be considered to have met minimum requirements by investing in their transmission infrastructure and purchasing New Energy-generated electricity from asset-abundant neighbors. Developing the grid is just as important right now as developing generating infrastructure.


    click to enlarge

    Regulator asks why Ariz. wind power is not tapped
    Ryan Randazzo, March 21, 2008 (Arizona Republic)

    WHO
    Arizona Public Service Co. (APS); Arizona Corporation Commissioner Kris Mayes

    Arizona really doesn't have a lot of wind... (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Mayes is concerned that APS is buying wind-generated electricity from New Mexico’s Aragonne Mesa Wind Project and other states’ New Energy projects rather than building its own wind energy infrastrucuture.

    WHEN
    Arizona’s Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) requires its utilities to obtain 15% of their power from New Energy sources by 2025. More importantly, a significant portion of the requirement must be met from distributed sources, a provision strongly favoring solar development.

    ...New Mexico really does and... (click to enlarge)

    WHERE
    - Aragonne Mesa Wind Project is near Santa Rosa, New Mexico.
    - APS is buying wind-generated electricity from New Mexico and Utah. It is also buying electricity generated by geothermal sources from Utah.
    - APS-commissioned reports show wind-power potential in Coconino, Navajo, Apache, Mohave and Gila counties.
    - Arizona and Nevada are the only states west of Louisiana without wind facilities producing or being developed.

    WHY
    - APS buys Aragonne’s 90 megawatt output.
    - APS studies show Arizona has a few wind energy assets rated excellent.
    - Salt River Project (SRP), another big Arizona utility, is buying 50 megawatts of wind-generated electricity from a Public Service Co. of New Mexico.

    ...the planned SunZia Southwestern Transmission Project will supply the necessary interconnect. That's the way to do it!(click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Kris Mayes, Arizona Corporation Commissioner: "I am concerned that such out-of-state purchases hinder the development of renewable energy here in Arizona, and potentially deprive our state of much needed economic development…"
    - Don Brandt, CEO, APS: "…the purpose behind the [wind] studies [was] . . . to make sure everyone knows where the sites are in Arizona to take into consideration…"

    NEW ENERGY: GOOD FOR THE FARMERS

    Another segment of the U.S. economy is now after the Senate to extend tax credits for New Energy and enact a mandatory national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES).

    The potential of New Energy to create new economic opportunities in rural areas cannot be underestimated. Tom Buis, President, National Farmers Union: "With expanding production of a variety of renewable energies, economic opportunities are returning to rural America. A 50 million gallon ethanol plant increases a local community's GDP by $152.3 million; increases household income by $40 million; increases local spending by $56 million; and creates more than 600 new jobs…"

    Some of the rural benefits of New Energy go to a corn ethanol economy that is untenable and will soon have to face a shift to second generation cellulosic ethanol. Another segment of the rural economy, though, are landowners who have begun to realize enormous benefits from leasing their property to wind and solar installation developers and transmission builders. Still others have installed their own personal small wind or solar photovoltaic systems and are reaping the rewards of off-grid electricity or net metering income. For them, a national RES means more access to growth. Buis: "NFU believes it is critical for federal policy to foster the development of renewable electricity projects and in particular locally-owned and community-based projects…"

    It must get awfully lonely for those very few recalcitrant Senators who are blocking benefit to so many Americans by their oil-and-gas industry-funded obstinate refusal to extend the New Energy tax credits and pass a national RES. By last count, that minority of Senators represents at best 36% of the U.S. population.

    Polls invariably show a majority of Americans (usually a majority of more than 2/3 of those polled) favor the development of New Energy.


    click to enlarge

    NFU: Renewable Energy Revitalizing Rural Economies
    March 6, 2008 (Cattle Network)

    WHO
    Tom Buis, President, National Farmers Union; the House of Representatives Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming (Edward Markey (D-Mass), Chairman)

    WHAT
    Buis told Markey’s committee rural America is “ready, willing and able” to help move the U.S. toward New Energy.

    Wind turbine manufacturing is bringing jobs and investment to every sector and region of the country. (click to enlarge)

    WHEN
    - Buis testified to the Congressional committee March 5.
    - The House of Representatives passed its tax credit extension bill at the end of February. The Senate has yet to act and is expected to reject the tax credit extensions just as it did in December 2007, when it also rejected the House-passed RES.

    WHERE
    Locally owned ethanol plants constitute the single biggest segment of ethanol production.

    Wind farms can go where no farm has gone before. (click to enlarge)

    WHY
    - Farmers and local investors own 40% of U.S. ethanol production.
    - A national mandatory RES would require U.S. utilities to obtain a portion of the power they sell from New Energy or meet some substitute requirement like sponsoring energy efficiency. (Or building new transmission?)

    Next generation (cellulosic) ethanol will bring new opportunities to every region. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    Buis: "After years of market prices below cost of production and producers' reliance on farm safety net programs, farmers are now receiving their income from the marketplace…Farmers are not only benefiting from higher commodity prices, but also from local ownership of ethanol production facilities."

    Wednesday, March 26, 2008

    WHY TAX CREDITS ARE NEEDED, WHY OIL SUBSIDIES ARE NOT

    With expertise in both economics and energy, Severin Borenstein, E.T. Grether Professor of Business Administration and Public Policy in the Economic Analysis and Policy Group of the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley AND director of the University of California Energy Institute AND a faculty member in several other UC Berkeley departments, is the ideal expert to address the oil and gas industry’s objection to the U.S. House of Representatives’ plan to fund vital New Energy Production Tax Credits (PTCs) and Investment Tax Credits (ITCs) by shifting money away from what the New York Times called “wholly unnecessary” subsidies to oil and gas.

    First, the oil and gas industry position, reasonably stated by Ray Connolly, spokesman for the American Petroleum Institute: "We need to produce as much domestic energy of all types as possible, and that includes renewable energy…But the way to encourage it is not to change the tax law in such a way that provides a disincentive for domestic oil and natural gas development."

    Now Borenstein: “Oil companies don't need exploration tax breaks because the U.S. will never produce enough oil to affect the world market…And as long as Americans remain unwilling to pay the true cost of fossil fuels -- taking into account pollution, traffic congestion and greenhouse emissions, for example -- shifting the money into renewable energy is a good idea…It won't make a huge difference in the overall energy supply, but it will make a huge difference in whether renewables continue to grow…If we cut them off, it will choke the market."

    A recent report indicted that if the tax credits are not extended it could cost the U.S. up to 116,000 jobs and $1.9 billion in investments in 2009. Not a great plan under any circumstances, it would be downright stupid of the Senate to let that happen to a booming industry in a sluggish economy.

    Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-Ca): "Oil companies are making record profits. This allows us to shift a subsidy from a highly developed, established business that is highly profitable that doesn't need the tax subsidy."


    A lot of this investment goes to Europe and China without those tax credits. (click to enlarge)

    Solar, wind tax credits may expire
    Lisa Vorderbrueggen, March 25, 2008 (Contra Costa Times)

    WHO
    Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-Ca); Mark Tholke, project manager, wind energy company enXco;

    They don't provide the jobs but the Inheritor-Investor class likes the fossil fuels industries anyway. (chart from the Union of Concerned Scientists - click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    McNerney and New Energy industry representatives held a pre4ss conference March 24 to talk about the serious blow to the local economy the Senate’s refusal to extend Production Tax Credits (PTCs) and Investment Tax Credits (ITCs) to the New Energies.

    WHEN
    The current tax credits expire at the end of 2008.

    WHERE
    The press conference was held at Walnut Grove Elementary School in Pleasanton, Ca., but it could have been any community in the U.S. and the implications of the Senate’s refusal to fund the ITCs and PTCs would be relevant.

    Given the proper incentives, the Renewable Energy (RE) industries will provide a lot of jobs to a lot of Americans over the next quarter century. (click to enlarge)

    WHY
    The U.S. House of Representatives sent a bill to the Senate funding the PTCs and ITCs by shifting $17.65 billion from unnecessary subsidies to the oil and gas industry. The Senate seems determined to reject the bill on the grounds that subsidies established in the past to buoy a struggling oil and gas industry remain vital to an industry rolling in hundreds of billions in profits over the last 2 to 3 years.

    (slide from Bree Raum at AWEA - click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Congressman McNerney: "Inconsistent support from the government is allowing this technology to go overseas…We want to make sure we institute policies right here in the U.S. that encourage and help renewable industries become settled."
    - Tholke, enXco: "It's crucial that the federal government deliver an extension…I can see no other route than layoffs if we can't get a production tax credit extension. It's so tremendously valuable to wind energy production and viability, and without it, we can't compete."

    *