NewEnergyNews: 05/01/2008 - 06/01/2008

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

  • THE STUDY: THE DIFFERENT WAYS TO MAKE THE TRANSITION TO NEW ENERGY
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 29: WIND MAY TIP KANSAS ELECTION; YOUNG VOTERS BRING NEW ENERGY; GREEN BUILDINGS BOOMING
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: THE AFFORDABILITY OF THE NEW ENERGY TRANSITION
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 28: WIND BOOMS AS ‘MOST AFFORDABLE ENERGY OPTION’; OBSTACLES AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR BIG SOLAR; GEOTHERMAL COMING BACK
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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: THE HEALTH IN EMISSIONS CUTS
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 27: NEW ENERGY OVER 40% OF U.S. NEW BUILD IN 2014; EMPLOYEE BENEFITS NOW INCLUDE SOLAR; WIND BRINGS JOBS TO MICHIGAN
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • Weekend Video: Talking With The Redwoods
  • Weekend Video: Evangelicals Confront Climate Change
  • Weekend Video: Living The Platinum Rule: Making The Best Invention Of All Time Better
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE- EU UPS THE WORLD’S BAR ON EMISSIONS CUT TARGETS
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-FIRST BIG MOROCCO SOLAR NEAR POWERING UP
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-NORTH SEA WIND-HYDRO INTERLINK TO GROW
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-TURKISH GEOTHERMAL GETS INTELLIGENT
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, Oct. 23:

  • TTTA Thursday-EVANGELICALS IN ‘CREATION CARE’ CLIMATE FIGHT
  • TTTA Thursday-ADVANCED WIND-MAKERS MAKANI, SHEERWIND READY DEMOS
  • TTTA Thursday-TEA PARTY BACKS SOLAR, ATTACKS UTILITY MONOPOLIES
  • TTTA Thursday-WHAT DRIVERS DON’T KNOW HOLDS BACK THE FUTURE
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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.

  • ---------------
  • Saturday, May 31, 2008

    Be part of the solution

    "Tomorrow's climate is today's challenge." 2 minutes of inspiration - but hang on, the first minute is a little grim. But, then, so is climate change. From the BBC via YouTube.

    Congressman Markey Talks Energy, Presents iCAP

    Congressman Ed Markey (D-Mass) talks energy and presents iCAP, his climate change bill. “Today we must start the clean energy age…Change actually creates more opportunities...” For political junkies and energy policy aficionados. 5 minutes. From Markey’s office via YouTube.

    World's Largest Wind Turbine Stirs Things Up

    Cute report. Light on hard information, heavy on punditry. Good news, in any case. Based on the numbers she throws out, she could be talking about 5-megawatt turbines, a newer 6-megawatt behemoth or one even bigger - 7.5-megawatts, big enough to power 20,000 homes - just being built now. From RiverWired via DailyMotion.

    Friday, May 30, 2008

    EMISSIONS TRADING: BOOM? WASTE?

    A new study by emissions markets experts Point Carbon makes a pair of interesting and probably valid assumptions: (1) The U.S. will have joined an international cap-and-trade scheme by 2020, and, (2) the EU will have established a 25% emissions cut goal which includes the aviation industries.

    Based on these assumptions, Point Carbon expects the global emissions markets to be worth 2 trillion euros by 2020. (That's $3.1 trillion.)

    Meanwhile, weaknesses have been and continue to be exploited in the process by which projects are identified and approved as emissions offsets and win investment from Kyoto Mechanism-enrolled nations.


    A Realistic Policy on International Carbon Offsets highlights the weaknesses: “…in practice, much of the current CDM market does not reflect actual reductions in emissions, and that trend is poised to get worse. Nor are CDM-like offsets likely to be effective cost control mechanisms…”

    The United Nations (UN) Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), formed to issue Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs), is working to make the process more foolproof and effective. Unfortunately, that slows the process down.

    The
    Realistic Policy study: “…the rate at which CDM credits are being issued today-at a time when demand for such offsets from the European ETS is extremely high-is only one-twentieth to one-fortieth the rate needed just for the current CDM system to keep pace with the projects it has already registered. If the CDM system is reformed so that it does a much better job of ensuring that emission credits represent genuine reductions then its ability to dampen reliably the price of emission permits will be even further diminished…”

    Realistic Policy does not, however, recommend jettisoning cap-and-trade. Instead, it proposes alternative measures for the coming U.S. emissions cap-and-trade program: “…More explicit cost control mechanisms, such as "safety valves," would be much more effective…Offset caps as envisioned in the Lieberman-Warner draft legislation, for example, do little to fix the underlying problem of poor quality emission offsets because the cap will simply fill first with the lowest quality offsets and with offsets laundered through other trading systems such as the European scheme…Offsets can play a role in engaging developing countries, but only as one small element in a portfolio of strategies..."

    The study calls for far more than just a trading system.


    Realistic Policy: "...First, the U.S., in collaboration with other developed countries, should invest in a Climate Fund intended to finance critical changes in developing country policies that will lead to near-term reductions. Second, the U.S. should actively pursue a series of infrastructure deals with key developing countries with the aim of shifting their longer-term development trajectories…”

    To propose such multilateral agreements suggests the study's authors don't remember the early years of the Bush administration very clearly. On the other hand, January 2009 is only 8 months off.

    These critics are not the first to find shortcomings in the CDM process. The two most important failures so far, fluctuating market prices due to inadequate auctioning of allowances and failure to focus CERs precisely, are widely recognized.

    Abuses arise from the question of “additionality.”
    (See EMISSIONS TRADING: WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT and CAP-AND-TRADE: QUESTIONS ARISING) It is not at all clear projects funded through CDM would not have been done without CDM funding. This makes the mechanism more a form of financing than an emissions reduction and global climate change mitigation strategy.

    Patrick McCully, director, International Rivers: "It would seem clear that a project that is already built cannot need extra income in order to be built…Judging additionality has turned out to be unknowable and unworkable. It can never be proved definitively that if a developer or factory owner did not get offset income they would not build their project."

    Another problem with the mechanism is that it has financed greenhouse gas emissions reduction projects such as plant renovations in favor of building New Energy infrastructure.

    It is important to remember that nothing as grand in scale as the UN CDM program - and the associated European Union (EU) Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) - has been created in one ambitious move before. If critics have complaints, they would have had - absent this effort - nothing to complain about except rising greenhouse gas emissions and worsening global climate change phenomena.

    Critics of the Kyoto Protocols, of the concept of offsets and of the concept of cap-and-trade are quick to take studies like these as a basis on which to reject the entire program. The UK government has a different attitude.

    UK government spokeswoman: "We completely reject any assertions that [it] is fundamentally flawed…We've worked consistently for and seen improvement in CDM processes over the past few years of its operation. We believe the CDM is essentially transparent and robust, though we will continue to press for the environmental integrity of projects."

    Even the authors of the
    Realistic Policy recognize that for a battery of practical and idealistic reasons, an international cap-and-trade system is coming. Though very important detail, indeed, the rest is detail.

    From Reuters: The Big Board of Emissions Trading (click to enlarge)

    Billions wasted on UN climate programme; Energy firms routinely abusing carbon offset fund, US studies claim
    John Vidal, May 26, 2008 (UK Guardian)
    and
    Carbon market could be worth 2 trillion euros by 2020: Study
    May 22, 2008 (AFP via Yahoo News)

    WHO
    Point Carbon; Michael Wara and David Victor, Professors of Law, Stanford University; Patrick McCully, director, International Rivers; United Nations (UN) Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)

    click to enlarge

    WHAT
    - Point carbon expects emissions markets to reach a 2 trillion euro value.
    - The Wara and Victor study A Realistic Policy on International Carbon Offsets and McCully’s Discredited Strategy both spotlight shortcomings in the UN CDM program which identifies emissions offset projects.

    WHEN
    - In 2020, Point carbon sees the U.S. representing 67% of the global emissions market and the EU to be 23%.
    - The CDM market is presently valued at $20 billion and is expected to be worth $100 billion in 4 years.
    - The UN CDM has slowed its approval process in an effort to ascertain whether a project really would not be funded without the Kyoto offset factor. Unfortunately, slowing the approval process also slows mitigation of climate change.

    click to enlarge

    WHERE
    - Point Carbon’s evaluation also assumes participation by Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Korea, Mexico and Turkey.
    - UN CDM projects are generally in the developing world. CERs for them are generally purchased by businesses and industries in the developed world to earn allowances for GhG emissions greater than they were given or could purchase from their own governments.
    - The bulk of CERs have been purchased from Europe and japan.

    WHY
    - Point carbon’s predictions assume a E50/tonne price, twice what the price is at present.
    - 1,000 offset projects have been approved by the CDM and 2,000 more are pending.
    - The problem of additionality: (1) Almost every planned hydro, wind and natural gas-fired plant in China applies for CDM credits. The government would see to the building of these projects anyway; (2) 75% of all CDM projects were complete by the time they were approved for CERs, suggesting they already had funding.
    - Additionality may encourage developing nations to postpone mandating emissions reductions strategies because that would incentivize limiting emissions that otherwise would generate CER revenues.

    click to enlarge

    QUOTES
    - David Victor, Professor of Law, Stanford University: "It looks like between one and two thirds of all the total CDM offsets do not represent actual emission cuts…Traders are finding ways of gaining credits that they would never have had before. You will never know accurately, but rich countries are clearly overpaying by a massive amount…"
    - Patrick McCully, director, International Rivers: Many observers had hoped that the CDM would promote renewables and energy efficiency. Yet if all projects now in the pipeline generated the CERs they are claiming up to 2012, non-hydro renewables would attract only 16% of CDM funds, and demand-side energy efficiency projects just 1%. Only 16 solar power projects - less than 0.5% of the project pipeline - have applied for CDM approval.
    - CDM spokesman: "There is a responsible level of scrutiny. The process is in continual reform. All the projects are vetted independently and are then certified by third parties. There are many checks and balances and we can show how all projects are vetted."

    OKLAHOMA WIND - THE FUTURE"S OK

    Oklahoma is the state where, in the words of the Rodgers and Hammerstein song, “…the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain.”

    It requires an industry to turn that wind into electricity. Part of that industry is making turbines. Part of making turbines is what DMI Industries does. Kevin Ishmael, DMI: "We manufacture tubular towers for the wind industry right now…"

    Asian and European wind companies are perhaps ahead of most U.S. companies in turbine parts manufacturing but towers and blades are huge and need to be where the assembly takes place because shipping such enormous pieces over long distances is just too expensive, especially in a carbon-constrained world.

    Turbine towers are built as 3 sections, aptly named “cans” because they look like giant tin cans. Each is 40 to 50 feet long and 15 feet in diameter. Each has its own blueprints for affixing electrical components. The cans are assembled at the wind farm site by bolting one atop another. (And it is SERIOUS bolting.)

    DMI presently has orders through 2012. They and other turbine part manufacturers are working 24/7 to meet a demand that will only keep on growing as the industry drives steadily toward producing 20% of U.S. electricity by 2030.

    Ishmael, about his 200 employees' demanding labor: "They're very proud of being a part of their future and that's where wind energy is, it's part of their future…"

    They’re probably pretty happy about the money, too.


    Wind energy has become a central force in U.S. power generation. (click to enlarge)

    Wind Towers May Be Key To Future Energy
    May 23, 2008 (NewsOn6 via KOTV-Tulsa)

    WHO
    DMI Industries

    DMI CEO Lar Moeller in the can. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    DMI Industries builds the towers for the turbines. It s200 employees are working 24/7 to meet incessant demand.

    WHEN
    DMI Industries has been in Oklahoma less than a year but has just shipped its first towers.

    Putting a can in place. (click to enlarge)

    WHERE
    DMI Industries is based in Tulsa, OK. It shipped its first towers to a wind farm in Northern Texas. It expects to serve the Texas/Kansas/Colorado region.

    WHY
    The wind energy industry has declared it will provide 20% of U.S. electricity by 2030 and the U.S. Department of Energy has affirmed the industry’s capacity to do so.
    Cans are constructed by rolling a flat metal sheet and welding it. Each can has a lip so the pieces can be bolted together.

    Inside a trubine tower. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    Kevin Ishmael, DMI: "All indicators are that [wind energy is] here and it's going to be here for quite some time…"

    MILESTONE FOR TIDE ENERGY

    Britain has, at least since Queen Elizabeth I’s time, thought of itself as a proud island nation reliant on dominance of the seas for strength and security. Now conquest of the oceans has taken on a new meaning. Britain is going out to meet the New Energy age by establishing an ocean energy capacity.

    The UK has connected its first tide energy device to its National Grid and will connect another soon. Experimentation with wave energy is being expanded.

    Many think the power of the North Sea can provide the UK with 20% of its energy needs – and that’s without adding in the remarkable abundance of offshore wind energy.

    The UK has invested a lot of money in developing ocean energy assets. More expense will likely be required before the cost of wave, tide and current energies can be brought into parity with Old Energy. But most businesspeople know it is necessary to spend money in order to make money and the UK will soon be making back its investment many times over.


    OpenHydro (click to enlarge)

    Tidal power fuels Britain’s National Grid
    Graham Tibbetts, 27 May 2008 (UK Telegraph)

    WHO
    OpenHydro; Jim Mather, energy minister, Scotland; SeaGen; European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) (Neil Kermode, managing director)

    SeaGen (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    The UK’s first tide energy power generator, installed by OpenHydro, was linked to the National Grid, marking a milestone in New Energy. SeaGen will soon be the 2nd one connected.

    WHEN
    - The link between the tide energy device and the UK National Grid was established May 26.
    - Power from the generator will be increased over the next few weeks.
    - Turbine was installed in 2006 at the European Marine Energy Centre's (EMEC) test site and has been testing.
    - SeaGen will be connected later this spring.

    Orkney Island installation site. (click to enlarge)

    WHERE
    - The tide energy generator is in the North Atlantic, off the north coast of Scotland’s Orkney Island.
    - The EMEC is at the Fall of Warness, off the island of Eday.
    - OpenHydro is based in Ireland.
    - The SeaGen tide energy device is near the mouth of Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland.
    - SeaGen, based in Edinburgh, is also deploying a wave energy installation off the Atlantic coast of Portugual.

    WHY
    - The OpenHydro generator is estimated to have the capacity to supply power for 550 homes. The SeaGen device will supply 1000 homes.
    - Scotland’s north coast has been described as the “Saudi Arabia of ocean energy.”
    - SeaGen is also developing a wave energy installation off Portugal. Other wave energy installations are planned off Cornwall and the Orkneys. A barrage is being developed to capture the current and tidal energies of the River Severn.

    Orkney Island installation site. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Jim Mather, energy minister, Scotland: "This is the first time that homes in Britain will be powered using the energy of the tides…Scotland has unrivalled potential to generate clean, green energy from our seas. Marine power lies at the heart of our ambitions to develop a vibrant renewables sector, creating jobs and boosting economic growth while tackling climate change."
    - Neil Kermode, managing director, EMEC: "This is a very exciting project. OpenHydro's vision is to deploy farms of tidal turbines under the world's oceans and we are delighted that EMEC has been able to support the delivery of this key milestone…The wave and tidal resource around Scotland's coasts is so significant that many other developers across the world are striving to develop devices capable of harnessing the force of our tides and waves."
    - Dr Mark Williamson, director of innovations, UK Carbon Trust: "In the UK, marine energy has the potential to deliver up to 20 per cent of our electricity need. Centres such as EMEC play a crucial role in the development of wave and tidal energy technology. The Carbon Trust continues to support such projects, reinforcing the UK's leading position in the marine renewable energy field."

    Thursday, May 29, 2008

    A CLIMATE CHANGE BILL WORTH DEBATING

    Congressman Edward Markey (D-Mass), Chairman, House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming: “The chorus for change is deafening…The call of this generation is to stop global warming. And today I put forth [this bill] as a signal of light for those who wish to stand together in the fight to save our planet.”

    The
    Investing in Climate Action and Protection Act (iCAP) would implement a cap-and-trade system to cut 85% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. It would auction 94% of all allowances in the first year and more yearly to 100% in 2020. Half the revenues from the allowance auction would go to low and middle-income households to compensate for increased energy costs. The other half would go to New Energy development.

    The legislation also includes an international clean technology fund (to bring in China and India), a climate change adaptation fund, a forest protection fund and a requirement for new coal plants to include emissions capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies.

    Markey hopes to bring his bill before the House Of Representatives for debate in the first week of June. That same week, the Senate is expected to take up its Warner (R-Va.)/Lieberman (I-Conn.) climate change proposal. Warner/Lieberman would also institute cap-and-trade but with significantly fewer allowances auctioned.

    Markey admits his bill is less likely to prevail. He does not expect any climate change legislation to be passed until after the next President takes office. His intention is to offer insights and initiate debate.

    Markey: “My goal here is to present the lessons which I have learned over the last year and a half in the hearings that the [committee] has had…This is intended to be another important part of the debate as we move forward in the House.”

    Congressman Markey likens climate change legislation to the Telecommunications Act of 1996 which, though opposed by entrenched business interests, led to the I.T. revolution and gave the world Google, Amazon and YouTube.

    Markey: “That is the role of government, to move from the black-rotary-dial-phone era to the broadband-Google-YouTube era. We had to change the policy, though, because the companies weren’t doing it.”

    iCAP is endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters and Friends of the Earth. Whatever the fate of the bill, Congressman Markey has once again pushed the issue of global climate change front and center and raised questions worth debating.


    Rep. Markey used "iCAP" to liken his legislation to the iPod. (click to enlarge)

    Markey unveils sweeping climate change legislation
    Daniel W. Reilly, May 28, 2008 (Politico)
    and
    On your Markey
    Kate Sheppard, 28 May 2008 (Grist)
    and
    Markey to release aggressive global warming bill
    Jim Snyder, May 28, 2008 (The Hill)

    WHO
    Congressman Edward Markey (D-Mass), Chairman, House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming; Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif), Speaker of the House of Representatives

    Rep. Markey's committee. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Markey announced Investing in Climate Action and Protection Act (iCAP), climate change legislation he will bring to the House floor.

    WHEN
    - Congressman Markey’s committee has been holding hearings on climate change for more than a year.
    - iCAP would take emissions to 2005 levels by 2012, 20% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 80% below 2005 levels by 2050.
    - Serious climate change scientists have indicated GhG emissions need to be 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 in order to head off the worst impacts.

    Competing legislation. (click to enlarge)

    WHERE
    - Markey announced the legislation in a press conference at the Center for American Progress.
    - Climate change legislation is expected to be brought before both houses of Congress.

    WHY
    - Speaker Pelosi is reported to have personally selected Markey to lead the floor fight on this climate change legislation but it is not certain the Speaker has endorsed iCAP. There are competing climate change measures in the House.
    - House Republicans are expected to reject iCAP.
    - iCAP would auction 94% of allowances initially, rising to 10% by 2020. 6% of allowances would be given to the hardest hit industries (iron, steel, cement) to sustain their international competitiveness.
    - 50% of auction revenue, as much as $8 trillion, would go as compensation for rising energy costs to low- (below $70,000/year) and middle-income (up to $110,000/year) families.
    - The other half of revenues would be directed to New Energy development.
    - The legislation includes (1) an international clean technology fund (to bring in China and India), (2) a climate change adaptation fund, (3) a forest protection fund, (4) a requirement for coal plants built after 2009 to have CCS technologies abd (5) oversight by governmental agencies that can suspend auctioning allowances if prices rise too precipitously.

    An equitable allocation of revenues from emissions auctions. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Markey: "It's been a free ride for polluters…For those of us who want a safe climate, the iCAP bill I'm introducing is the market correction we've been waiting for."
    - Gene Karpinski , President, League of Conservation Voters: "[iCAP is] a very aggressive, comprehensive, ambitious bill that would get the job done…It's the kind of bill that Congress needs to pass and the president needs to sign…"
    - Congressman John Dingell (D-Mich), Chairman, House Energy and Commerce Committee: “I am delighted to see that Congressman Markey has come forward with a plan to address climate change. I welcome input from all Members of the Committee on Energy and Commerce…I look forward to receiving a copy of the legislation and look forward to holding hearings on the subject in June.”

    FRANCE TO GROW SOLAR BIG AND FAST

    According to France’s Grenelle environmental objectives, the nation must have 7,000 megawatts of peak solar capacity installed by 2020. France is now at 46.6 megawatts (peak). Watch for lots of new activity.

    Vive le soleil! Vive l’energie solaire!

    le Grenelle Environnement (English)

    click to enlarge

    Aerowatt strengthens its presence in solar energy with Heliowatt
    May 26, 2008 (ActusNewsWire)

    WHO
    Aerowatt and new subsidiary Heliowatt (Jérôme Billerey, Chairman)

    click to enlarge

    WHAT
    Aerowatt created Heliowatt to expand its solar energy production and development.

    WHEN
    - Aerowatt is scheduled to develop 10 megawatts of peak solar capacity with Heliowatt over the next 2 years.
    - 2007 Aerowatt revenue “turnover”: 7.1 million euros, 57% greater than 2006.

    click to enlarge

    WHERE
    - Germany has 3,800 megawatts of peak solar capacity. France has 46.6 megawatts, 40% overseas.
    - Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and Languedoc-Roussillon: the sunniest regions of continental France
    - Heliowatt is based in Tavel in the Languedoc-Roussillon region.

    WHY
    - Aerowatt operated (at the end of 2007) 21 wind farms generating 57 megawatts of capacity and 11 solar farms generating 1.5 megawatts of peak capacity. Its planned portfolio now calls for 350 megawatts of wind capacity and 30 megawatts of peak solar capacity.
    - Aerowatt employees 33 people, including 15 doing project development.
    - The July 2006 law boosting the French solar feed-in rate to E0.55/kilowatt-hour has not yet generated new solar capacity.

    click to enlarge

    QUOTES
    Jérôme Billerey, Chairman, Aerowatt: "[W]e are very satisfied with this initial collaboration with the Heliowatt team whose know how is widely recognised. This new involvement will make a significant contribution to the group's solar development in mainland France, alongside our other subsidiary Solar Energies, which is focused on France's overseas departments".

    WINDPOWER 2008: THRIVING AT THE EPICENTER OF ENERGY

    The annual wind energy industry conclave opens Sunday (June 1) in Houston, TX, the headquarters of the oil & gas business.

    Coming right after the big announcement from the wind industry that it intends to provide 20% of U.S. electricity by 2030 and the U.S. Department of Energy’s affirmation that the industry is on track and capable of doing just that, this conference should be bursting with even MORE than the wind industry’s usual exuberance and élan.

    See
    WIND: YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHIN’ YET! for details on the wind industry’s goal.

    The scheduled list of speakers is impressive. The presentations promise to show the way. Exhibitor- and attendee- statistics are up. Think wind energy is on the upswing? You ain't seen NOTHIN' yet!

    Last minute addition to the conference agenda:
    T. Boone Pickens, legendary oil & gas industry entrepreneur and financier of the planned Pampa Wind Project, the world's biggest wind energy installation, will be walking the exhibition floor on Monday evening, June 2.

    click to enlarge

    WindPower 2008: Conference and Exhibition
    June 1 – 4, 2008 (American Wind Energy Association)

    WHO
    - Welcome: Bill White, Mayor, Houston, TX; Randall Swisher, Director, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA)
    - Opening Session (Monday): Rick Perry (R), Governor, TX; Kathleen Sebelius (D), Governor, Kansas; Alexander Karsner, Asst. Scty, U.S. Department of Energy; Thomas C. Dorr, Under Scty, U.S. Department of Agriculture; and others
    - General Session (Tuesday): John Podesta, President/CEO, Center for American Progress & former White House Chief of Staff, Clinton Administration; General Wesley Clark, former Supreme Allied Commander, NATO Europe; Jeff Goodell, author; and others
    - Conference Dinner: Joe Scarborough

    click to enlarge

    WHAT
    The annual conclave of the wind energy industry promises to be quite a do, with a battery of noted speakers, an exhibition floor teeming with innovation and accomplishment and a message to deliver: Wind will get the job done!

    WHEN
    - June 1 thru 4, 2008
    - Schedule-at-a-glance

    WHERE
    - Geroge R. Brown Convention Center
    1001 Avenida de las Americas
    Houston, TX 77010
    - Directions

    click to enlarge

    WHY
    - WindPower is the most significant wind energy industry gathering of the year.
    - This year’s event has scheduled 770 exhibitors, up from 420 from the previous show.
    10,000 are expected to attend.
    - Wind energy capacity grew 27% in 2006 and 45% in 2007.
    - Wind was second only to natural gas as a source of new electricity generation in the U.S. in 2007.
    - New topics: Safety within the Wind Inudstry and Wind Energy Forecasting 101
    - What AWEA is doing to make the event environmentally friendly

    click to enlarge

    QUOTES
    - Andy Karsner, Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, DOE: "DOE's wind report is a thorough look at America's wind resource, its industrial capabilities, and future energy prices, and confirms the viability and commercial maturity of wind as a major contributor to America's energy needs, now and in the future…To dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance our energy security, clean power generation at the gigawatt-scale will be necessary, and will require us to take a comprehensive approach to scaling renewable wind power, streamlining siting and permitting processes, and expanding the domestic wind manufacturing base."
    - Randall Swisher, Executive Director, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA): “The report shows that wind power can provide 20% of the nation’s electricity by 2030…[it] identifies the central constraints to achieving 20% - transmission, siting, manufacturing and technology - and demonstrates how each can be overcome. As an inexhaustible domestic resource, wind strengthens our energy security, improves the quality of the air we breathe, slows climate change, and revitalizes rural communities.”

    Wednesday, May 28, 2008

    IEA ON OIL: YIKES!

    Peak oil fanatics are now officially peak oil theorists. The world is about to go through the looking glass.

    Fatih Birol, Chief Economist, IEA: "We are entering a new world energy order…The oil investments required may be much, much higher than what people assume…"

    Analyses of world oil have always focused on demand. The assumption was that supply would emerge to meet demand. OPEC has for decades assured the world it has the oil to do so.

    The IEA has been the authority that kept things honest between OPEC and the world. The IEA is now reporting what OPEC does not want the world to know: Present known oil supplies may not be capable of meeting the growing world oil demand.

    Demand is expected to climb from the present 87 million barrels/day to 116 million barrels/day by 2030. While OPEC has repeatedly asserted it will eventually be able to produce this much oil, preliminary IEA indications (foreshadowing an official November report) are that supply cannot get beyond 100 million barrels/day without significantly more investment in exploration and production.

    Along with the IEA finding comes a plethora of predictions that oil will top $200/barrel by late 2008 or 2009. The implications for the world’s economy are ponderous. Or, as IEA Chief Economist Fatih Biriol put it: "This is a dangerous situation…"

    Which is exactly what peak oil fanatics – whoops, sorry, theorists – have been preaching - whoops, sorry, forecasting - for most of the last decade (and some longer than that).

    Footnote: That IEA stipulation about the need for more investment in exploration and production is the oil world's way of looking at the challenge. An alternative view: There is an urgent need is for more investment in New Energy.


    Oil market activity has traditionally been guided by demand... (click to enlarge)

    Energy Agency Wary of Oil Supply
    Angela Charlton, May 22, 2008 (AP via Time)
    and
    Energy Watchdog Warns of Oil-Production Crunch
    Neil King Jr. and Peter Fritsch, May 22, 2008 (Wall Street Journal)

    WHO
    The International Energy Agency (IEA) (Fatih Birol, Chief Economist); Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC); The Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)


    ...But the IEA is now studying supply. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Preliminary IEA findings suggest world oil supply will in the near future fall short of world oil demand.

    WHEN
    The official IEA report is due in November. It will describe world oil supply and demand factors through 2030.

    click here for "The Oil Drum" and the best peak oil information on the web.

    WHERE
    - The IEA is based in Paris.
    - Past/present oil demand: Driven by U.S. and Europe.
    - Present/future oil demand: Driven by China, India and the Middle East.

    WHY
    - Oil trading price, May 28 : $/barrel.
    - The IEA is an agency of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a group of 30 industrial nations (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States) based in Paris.
    - The Energy Information Administration, the U.S. Department of Energy’s statistical agency, has this year begun its first analysis of oil supply.

    click to enlarge

    QUOTES
    - Fatih Birol, Chief Economist, IEA: "The prices are very high, and demand did not respond in the last few years as much as one would have expected…The growth in terms of production was not great. We did not see enough investment."
    - Guy Caruso, administrator, EIA: "We are optimistic in terms of resource availability, but wary about whether the investments get made in the right places and at a pace that will bring on supply to meet demand…"

    MOORE’S LAW AND SOLAR GROWTH

    An essay from Canada highlights the role of daring investors in the growth of the solar energy industry.

    Venture Capitalist (VC) John Walton took a risk on
    First Solar, a start-up company in 1999 with a plan to make something cutting edge called solar thin film. Walton dropped a quarter of a billion dollars on the company’s experienced, knowledgeable founders. At the end of 2007, the company was worth $5 billion, 20 times Walton’s investment.

    Chinese VCs in the Shanghai suburb of Wuxi took a $6 million risk on the solar energy knowledge and skills of Dr. Zhengrong Shi in 2001. In 2007, China became the 3rd biggest solar cell producer in the world (after Japan and Germany). Shi’s company,
    Suntech, is worth $6 billion and employs 35,000 people.

    From the essay: “Innovators, investors and even our children understand that the 19-century fossil-fuel technologies are expensive and outdated, and they are polluting our planet…it is time for both the Canadian and U.S. governments to stop subsidizing fossil fuels, impeding progress with clean renewable energy technologies, and once and for all impose a carbon emission cap.”


    click to enlarge

    Bet on Moore’s Law to capture sunshine and change our world
    Reese Halter, May 25, 2008 (Calgary Herald)

    WHO
    Gordon Moore (Co-founder/Chairman Emeritus, Intel Corp.); Deep pocket venture capitalists (John Doerr, venture capital funder to Compaq, Netscape, Sun Microsystems, Aazon, Google, etc.); Vinrod Khosla, co-founder, Sun Microsystems; Larry Page, co-founder, Google; John Walton, heir, Wal-Mart); First Solar; Suntech

    click to enlarge

    WHAT
    VCs are betting big bucks Moore's Law, predicting the number of transistors on a chip to double about every two years, will apply to solar energy technology.

    WHEN
    - 1965: Gordon Moore formulated his law.
    - 2007: World solar capacity = 6.6 gigawatts. World coal capacity = 1,000 gigawatts.
    - 2013: World solar energy expected to be 75 gigawatts.
    - 2008: First Solar has long-term contracts to deliver ~800 megawatts to European and Canadian buyers, 8 times the entire 2006 U.S. solar production.

    click to enlarge

    WHERE
    - First Solar started in Toledo, OH, and is presently based in Phoenix, AZ.
    - Solar presently provides less than 0.05% of U.S. electricity.

    WHY
    - One large obstacle to solar energy growth: Intermittency and lack of proven storage capacity. Technologies under development range from pumping water up hill building pressurized tanks to hold peak sun-generated steam.
    - Costs remain high. 3 strategies aim to lower costs: (1) Improve efficiencies of existing technology, (2) develop cheap, next-generation nanotech materials, (3) concentrating strategies on a power plant scale.
    - The earth gets enough energy from the sun every hour to generate electricity for the whole world.
    - At 9.5% efficiency, a plot of land 300 km square would power the U.S.

    click to enlarge

    QUOTES
    - From the essay: “The cost of outfitting the average home with solar panels is about $21,000 or enough to generate about three kilowatts. Those panels will last at least 30 years…That works out to about $7 per watt -- when it drops to $1 per watt, it out-competes coal. But don't forget, in the U.S., the coal industry receives $20 billion a year in subsidies…”
    - From the essay: “To stabilize our climate by mid-century, we must globally reduce our dependency on fossil fuels by at least 80 per cent.”

    WIND GOES TO WORK FOR SOUTH AFRICA

    South Africa has been struggling with energy shortages and periodic outages for months (see S. AFRICA, FACING SHORTS, TO TRY NEW ENERGY) and the country has been studying the development of many kinds of New Energy. That it’s first wind installation went online May 23 demonstrates one of wind energy’s strengths: It can go more quickly and affordably from concept to electricity than almost any other source of power.

    Wind also comes online with minimal aggravation to environment or global climate change but South Africa needs more electricity right now and would not ask about such things. That’s what’s amazing about wind: It satisfies a lot of different needs.

    Point of personal privilege: It is not that NewEnergyNews expects notoriously oblivious Americans to take any interest in South Africa. It is that NewEnergyNews expects Americans to say to themselves, “Hmm, energy shortages could happen here. We ought to get our government busy crafting the kinds of policies that will incentivize the development of New Energy BEFORE there are shortages and outages.

    Tell Congress to get busy building New Energy at
    Support Renewable Energy Tax Credits

    This small (4-turbine, 5.2 megawatt) S. African installation is a hint of what wind energy can provide. The government called it a “flagship” for New Energy. Having relied on coal and nuclear energies during the time it was shunned by the world because of apartheid, the government is now seeking foreign funding for more New Energy projects.

    The country is thought to have good solar assests and exceptional ocean energy resources.
    (See TURN TOWARD SOLAR IN DESPERATE S. AFRICA and SOUTH AFRICA WANTS WAVES)

    click to enlarge

    Wind energy farm will help solve power crisis
    Bronwynne Joost, May 24, 2008 (Pretoria News via IOL)

    WHO
    Eskom; Buyelwa Sonjica, Minister, Minerals and Energy Affairs;

    Eskom has failed to meet demand lately. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    S. Africa brought its first wind installation, a 5.2-megawatt facility, online.

    WHEN
    - The wind plant went online May 24. It has an expected 25-year lifespan.
    - S. Africa is aiming to generate 10,000 gigawatts of New Energy by 2013.

    Eskom now posts a peak load meter on its website and offers RSS feed updates. (click to enlarge)

    WHERE
    - S. Africa’s first wind installation is in Darling, on the country’s Western Cape.
    - The Eastern Cape is also being studied for New Energy potential.

    WHY
    - The 4 turbine, 5.2-megawatt wind farm will supply Darling and Cape Town via the Eskom grid.
    - The turbines are 50 meters tall and generate power in winds as gentle as 14 km/hr (8.7 mph).
    - Funded by the Central Energy Fund, the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the Danish government at a cost of R7 million.
    - Developed by Darling Independent Power Producer.

    Eskom's 2007 performance review: Possibly coming soon to a utility near you. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Buyelwa Sonjica, Minister, Minerals and Energy Affairs: "These are ambitious targets and we must move very fast to reach them. But we are nowhere near exhausting our potential for wind farming. We must exploit our renewable energy resources…Nuclear energy has served the country for 20 years and that is why it is easier to obtain funding for projects of that kind."
    - Tasneem Essop, provincial MEC, environment, planning and economic development: "We've had droughts and flash floods. We are aware that we need to mitigate climate change. The Western Cape is the best place for renewable energy and we are looking at all forms, like solar and wave energy."

    Tuesday, May 27, 2008

    EV CHINA: THE NEW WAY

    In a widely praised article based on firsthand observations during a recent (pre-quake) China visit, EV and electric bike authority Forbes Bagatelle-Black lays out a new vision for the transition from oil-addicted transportation to a pedal-fueled, battery-assisted tomorrow.

    Bagatelle-Black: “I recently spent two weeks traveling all over China on business. The huge numbers of people traveling on various forms of two-wheeled electric vehicles were simply staggering.”

    Bagatelle-Black admits surprise at discovering the Chinese people’s motivation for leading the “charge” to electric transport in a nation choked with world-famous air pollution and suffering an unprecedented rise in the incidence of lung disease: “Chinese people do not, in general buy e-bikes and e-scooters due to any sense of environmental altruism. No… they buy electric because a gas scooter costs five times as much as an e-bike does. It is as I (and others) have been saying for many years now, electric vehicles cost much less than ICE-powered vehicles once they are mass-produced…”

    Bagatelle-Black readily observed the avalanche of western capital transforming China and the fading power of the U.S. dollar. Noting rising affluence, he pondered: “Soon, the average Chinese worker may be able to afford a car. Will they choose to abandon their hyper-efficient e-bikes in favor of passenger cars when they can? If they do, will those cars be powered by electricity or by fossil fuels? Anyone who cares about the world hopes that they will continue to choose the most efficient EVs possible, but anyone who studies human nature must have his/her doubts…”

    Nevertheless, Bagatelle-Black came away from China with a 3-paragraph observation so crucial it should be emblazoned over the archways of the room where next fall’s presidential debates take place:

    “I am not saying we should look to China as an example of a “green” society. I saw with my own eyes, and felt in my own lungs, the terrible pollution problem China is producing with its massive coal-burning power plants, lack of environmental controls on industry, etc. No rational human being would argue that China’s environmental policies are anything short of horrific.

    “However, in the one single area of personal transportation, China is demonstrating an important point. Publicists and corporate lackeys everywhere want us to believe that our environmental problems are hard to solve, that they require decades of research and trillions of dollars just to begin.

    “My trip to China proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that these naysayers are wrong. In order to save our planet, all we need to do is act. The answers are as simple as conserving energy, building wind turbines, having fewer children and/or strapping an electric motor and a battery pack on a bicycle. If we can get beyond the forces of greed and laziness, the answers are right in front of our faces.”


    A Chinese electric bike. (From EV World - click to enlarge)

    China’s EV Future Is Now
    Forbes Bagatelle-Black, May 12, 2008 (EV World)

    WHO
    Bagatelle-Black: “…most people who buy their first electric vehicle are increasing their carbon footprint when they do so. That’s because almost every electric vehicle sold in the world today is the first motorized vehicle the buyer has ever owned. Every day in China, thousands and thousands of electric bicycles and scooters are sold to people who are “upgrading” from bicycles or walking shoes…”

    Chinese-made electric scooters and bikes at a Shanghai rally. (From MSNBC - click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Bagatelle-Black: “I saw a broad range of EV choices available and in use [in China]. The majority used lead-acid batteries, although use of lithium-ion batteries was on the rise. Most of the EVs had two wheels, although I also saw many electric tricycles used for hauling larger loads. Almost all of them used small motors mounted in the hub of one of the wheels…”

    WHEN
    Bagatelle-Black: “…At rush hour [in Suzhou City, ~50 miles from Shanghai], the right lanes of the streets looked like rivers of electric vehicles….”

    The Kulla, a Chinese EV 2-seater with a ~70 mile range. (click to enlarge)

    WHERE
    - Bagatelle-Black: “In Suzhou City…electric bicycles and scooters outnumbered passenger automobiles by at least ten to one…”
    - Bagatelle-Black: “…[while] people on the mainland rode electric vehicles, people in Taiwan rode small two-stroke scooters…”

    WHY
    - Bagatelle-Black: “…most people who buy their first electric vehicle are increasing their carbon footprint when they do so. That’s because almost every electric vehicle sold in the world today is the first motorized vehicle the buyer has ever owned…”
    - Bicycle motors ranged from 100 watts to 250 watts, the majority in the 180 to 250 range.
    - Most scooters had motors of 1 horsepower (746 watts) or less. (U.S. cars are 100 horsepower+.)
    - Frequent: Folding bicycles w/16 inch to 20 inch wheels due to dense population and the need to carry bikes up apartment/office building stairs.
    - Most popular: Electric “mopeds” w/pedals
    - Also: Scooter like old Vespas w/ “vestigial pedal assemblies allowing them to be licensed and sold as electric bikes.

    The Flybo: An EV made in China with a 70 mile range and an 8-10 hour recharge time. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    Bagatelle-Black: “That’s right; simple economics have dictated China’s transformation into an EV culture. Which begs one question, since price is the primary factor driving Chinese people to buy electric vehicles, what will happen when an average citizen of China has much more wealth?”

    HOW WIND ENERGY BUILDS ECONOMIES

    Listen! That’s not thunder - it’s the sound of opportunity pounding on the U.S. door.

    The wind energy industry recently announced it will supply 20% of U.S. electricity by 2030. It supplied about 1% at the end of 2007. That means the wind industry will grow much more than 20-fold in the next quarter century (because 1% in 2030 is going to be significantly more than it is now).

    That’s a lot of turbines. Turbines are marvels of mechanical engineering. Building them requires machine shops. To grow more than 20 times over, the industry is going to need a lot of machine shops.

    Typically, China is trying to corner the market on turbine parts manufacturing - but guess what? That ain’t gonna happen. Turbines are huge. Shipping them costs. It will cost even more in a carbon-constrained world. It will be much cheaper to manufacture and assemble them near where they are going to be erected. In fact, big European and Japanese wind energy producers building installations in this country are now actively looking for U.S. parts manufacturers.

    Dan Radomski, vice president of industry services, Michigan's NextEnergy: "You want to source it as closely to where that (turbine) assembly operation is…"

    To grow so much, so fast, the wind industry will need domestic manufacturing facilities in a very big way. Turbines have something like 8000 parts (blades, nacelle housings, rotor hubs, bearings). That’s a LOT of machining.

    U.S. Department of Energy: "U.S. companies continue to represent a relatively small share of total turbine and tower materials, and U.S. manufacturers are struggling to keep pace with rising demand."

    Meaning: Machine shops struggling in the rust belt and in the wake of the fading U.S. auto industry have the chance to shift to a growth industry.

    There’s only one small hitch in the operation.

    A minority of recalcitrant Republican fossil fools mired in 1950s thinking continue to prevent Congress from passing vital policy measures that would give wind and other New Energy industries the assurances they need to know there will be solid footing for further U.S. development if they move away from present bases.

    Radomski: "It's partly policy; it's partly tax incentives and also partly regulatory issues."

    Michigan’s Governor Granholm, knowing her state could really use the economic boost that would come from developing wind and other New Energies, is working hard to overcome local political infighting and push through a state Renewable Electricity Standard (RES). Conflicts remain.

    Hans Detweiler, manager of state legislation, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA): "The problem is…The bill literally requires no new renewable energy use for six years. It's crazy."

    No crazier than the obstructive Republican fossil fools in the U.S. Congress, Hans.

    Tell Congress to stop the craziness and pass the New Energy incentives at
    Support Renewable Energy Tax Credits

    This work isn't outsourced. (click to enlarge)

    Wind energy market not just hot air
    Sven Gustafson, May 22, 2008 (Michigan Business Review via MLive)

    WHO
    Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, NextEnergy and Shepherd Advisors;

    There are actually an estimated 8000 machine tooled and/or electronic parts. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    A market diversification opportunity brief from the Technology Center with NextEnergy and Shepherd suggests Michigan manufacturers should shift from dwindling auto industry markets to the booming wind industry.

    WHEN
    - The wind industry broke its record for new installations for the 3rd year in a row in 2007.
    - The wind industry recently announced it would generate 20% of U.S. electricity by 2030.

    Too expensive to haul this stuff over long distances, much less over oceans or borders. (click to enlarge)

    WHERE
    - 5,200 new megawatts of wind power electricity generation capacity was built in the U.S. in 2007, compared with Bay City, Michigan’s Karn-Weadock 825-megawatt fossil fuels power plant.
    - There are presently ~30 Michigan turbine parts manufacturers.

    WHY
    - The brief reports a wind turbine yearly global market of ~$23 billion and predicts steady growth.
    - The U.S. market for new wind energy will average $5 billion/year, 2008 – 2015.
    - Citation Corp., based in Novi, Michigan, manufactures heavy-duty auto and truck bearing races and gearbox covers and housings. It is starting to set up for the manufacture of wind turbine parts.

    click to enlarge

    QUOTES
    Greg Etter, director of business development, Citation Corp. (an auto parts manufacturer moving to turbine parts): "It's in its infancy for us…There's a lot more opportunities that we need to pursue because there's a lot more people entering that fray…It's a growing industry and we see a continuing growth, particularly with government subsidies and the renewable portfolio end of the business. So we see in a development stage a continued growth."

    SOLAR FOR CANADA’S ECONOMY

    That’s the sun lighting up Canada’s manufacturing sector. And not a moment too soon.

    Tibor Urbanek, founder/president, Woodbine Tool & Die: "It [was] a very dark situation…"

    Woodbine Tool & Die lost a third of its workforce in the last 2 years.

    Urbanek: "We have no choice but to look for alternative work for our employees…If we're going to stay in business, we have to be flexible and reach out to anything available."

    What kind of work turns out to be available? Solar systems manufacturing. Solar systems producer Menova Energy Inc. moved into part of the Woodbine manufacturing plant and put Woodbine's personnel into high gear.

    Dave Gerwing, president/founder, Menova: "They're just stoked, and they've really been super accommodating…They offer the kind of scale we needed."

    Things suddenly look promising for Woodbine. Wal-Mart Canada is installing a Menova solar system and may install such systems in Wal-Marts across the country. Getting a small part of that business would keep Menova and Woodbine busy for 4 years and generate new manufacturing and “green collar” jobs worth a quarter of a billion dollars.

    Urbanek: "To support that level of demand, Woodbine Tool & Die's operations in Ontario would grow by 85 employees and spin off another 240 indirect support jobs in primary metals and installations…"

    The future is coming, it is coming fast and it is bringing opportunity. The key, according to the experts, is to be ready with policies and attitudes that foster the kind of growth available.

    Mark Winfield, professor of environmental studies, York University: "It's great that individual companies are doing this, but the potential and need is much larger than this announcement…What we need to see is a more explicit strategy on the part of the province to facilitate this kind of transition."


    Canada has lots of yellow & orange - moderate to good sun worth developing. (click to enlarge)

    Seeking a new place in the sun; Struggling auto-arts maker Woodbine is taking on work for solar-tech firm Menova
    Tyler Hamilton, May 24, 2008 (Toronto Star)

    WHO
    Woodbine Tool & Die (Tibor Urbanek, founder/president); Martinrea International Inc. (Rob Wildeboer, chair); Menova Energy Inc. (Dave Gerwing, president/founder); Wal-Mart Canada

    More specifically: Will it lift Canada's boat? (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    As Woodbine Tool & Die’s auto parts manufacturing business falls off, solar systems manufacturer Menova has taken space in its facility and is providing work to its employees.

    WHEN
    Canadian Auto-parts production: Expected to fall for the 3rd straight year. Expected to fall 8% in 2008.

    U.S. stats could apply in Canada with the right policies. (click to enlarge)

    WHERE
    - Urbanek’s Woodbine Tool & Die is based in Markham, Ontario, just north of Toronto.
    - Auto parts manufacturing in China, Korea and other places where labor is cheaper than in Canada.
    Menova sells its solar systems internationally.
    - Wal-Mart Canada will install a Menova Power-Spar solar power and heating system on a Supercentre it is building in Markham.

    WHY
    - Martinrea International is Canada’s 2nd biggest auto parts supplier.
    - Woodbine Tool & Die had 330 employees 2 years ago and now has 220.
    - Menova will take up 20% of the Woodbine facility, 25,000 sq. ft., and use Woodbine staff.
    - The Wal-Mart Canada Menova Power-Spar solar system purchase is part of a multimillion-dollar demonstration project partly funded by the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation.
    - The Wal-Mart/Menova solar system will have an 850 kilowatt electricity capacity and an 850 kilowatt heating capacity.

    Green jobs are skilled jobs with good pay and benefits. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Rob Wildeboer, chair, Martinrea International Inc., on the outsourcing of auto parts manufacturing work to cheaper labor markets: "[Canadian auto parts manufacturing is] getting killed…"
    - Dave Gerwing, president/founder, Menova: "We have a great shot at a global business from Ontario."
    - Tibor Urbanek, founder/president, Woodbine Tool & Die: "Physically, we are ready to expand in this new direction. We have a large enough property to renovate the building if needed…This project is exciting."

    Monday, May 26, 2008

    QUEEN BUYS GIGANTIC WIND

    The Clipper MBE, a 7.5-megawatt wind turbine to be erected off the UK coast, will be a true engineering feat. The MBE stands for Million Barrel Equivalent. It is said to be capable of powering 5,500 homes and offsetting 32 million tonnes of CO2. One turbine!

    The biggest turbines to date are in the Beatrice installion off Britain’s North Sea coast. They are 5-megawatts.

    The Clipper MBE, built by Clipper Windpower, a California company, will be assembled in the north of England at Blyth’s Centre of Excellence for Offshore Wind (owned and operated by Clipper).

    In U.S. land based wind farms, the standard turbine is still 1.5 megawatts. But offshore wind is booming in Europe and ambition seems to know no limits. How long 'til somebody tries to build a 10-megawatt turbine?


    A 5 megawatt turbine being put in place. The MBE will be 50% bigger. (click to enlarge)

    Queen Elizabeth Buys World’s Largest Offshore Wind Turbine
    May 22, 2008 (Environment News Service)
    and
    World’s largest offshore wind turbine to be developed in North England
    Trevor Sievert, 21 April 2008

    WHO
    Queen Elizabeth and The Crown Estate of Great Britain; Clipper Windpower

    click to enlarge

    WHAT
    The Britannia Project, owned by The Crown Estate of Queen Elizabeth, will purchase a prototype Clipper MBE, the biggest offshore wind turbine in the world, from Clipper Windpower. Subsequently, The Crown Estate announced rules governing offshore wind in Scotland and that the lease agreement on the Greater Gabbard offshore wind project had been completed.

    WHEN
    - The purchase of the prototype Clipper MBE was finalized April 17.
    - The announcement of Crown Estate rules governing offshore wind in Scotland was made May 21 and the announcement of the Greater Gabbard project was May 16.
    - The increased investment in and attention to offshore wind follows an expected surge across Europe in the 2011-12 period.
    - The prototype Clipper MBE is expected to be operational in 2010. It has a 30-year design life.
    - Construction on Greater Gabbard is scheduled for 2009.

    A European offshore wind power boom is coming. (click to enlarge)

    WHERE
    - Clipper Windpower has headquarters in Carpinteria, CA, and London, England.
    - The Clipper MBE will be assembled at the Centre of Excellence for Offshore Wind, a Clipper Windpower facility in northeast England, in the city Blyth.
    - Rules governing offshore wind development in Scottish waters were announced at the All Energy Conference in Aberdeen, Scotland.

    WHY
    - The Cliper MBE has 7.5-megawatt electricity generation capacity. To now, the biggest turbines, used in offshore installations, had 5-megawatt capacities.
    - The Britannia Project is expected to cost $65 million.
    - Crown Estate offshore interests: the entire UK territorial seabed to 12 nautical miles out and 55% of the UK coastal foreshore, plus leasing rights for the Renewable Energy Zone of the continental shelf to 200 nautical miles out.
    - Greater Gabbard will have 140 turbines and a 504-megawatt capacity.

    click to enlarge

    QUOTES
    - Rob Hastings, director of marine estates, The Crown Estate: "This announcement to launch Scottish offshore wind clearly demonstrates The Crown Estate's commitment to facilitating the next phase of offshore wind energy development in Scotland. We have listened to the requests from developers in the industry and are delighted to be working closely with the Scottish government in taking this forward."
    - Jason Ormiston, Chief Executive, Scottish Renewables: "We are pleased The Crown Estate is now providing some certainty for developers who are keen to invest hundreds of millions of pounds if they can get the rights to develop…Offshore wind in Scottish waters - whether it is in deep or shallow water - offers exceptional potential to help deliver action on climate change and help secure affordable supplies of electricity, and the industry is keen to see government and The Crown Estate help deliver it as quickly as possible…"

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