NewEnergyNews: RECORD NEW ENERGY INVESTMENT BODES WELL FOR OBAMA PLAN TO RETOOL

NewEnergyNews

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

The new challenge: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • THE STUDY: RUNNING OUT OF GAS
  • QUICK NEWS, November 24: NEW ENERGY DOMINATES THE U.S. NEW BUILDS AGAIN; SIERRA CLUB, UNITED STEELWORKERS WANT WIND JOBS; THE ABUNDANCE OF SOLAR
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • Weekend Video: Much More Inhofe Now
  • Weekend Video: Jon Stewart Talks Keystone, Politics, And Jobs
  • Weekend Video: Jon Stewart On How Keystone Opponents May Be Caught In Their Own Trap
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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-A NEW WAY TO SEE CLIMATE CHANGE
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-EU OCEAN WIND TO CUT COSTS, KEEP GROWING
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-COST-COMPETIVE NEW ENERGY, GERMANY’S ‘GIFT TO THE WORLD’
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-NEW ENERGY MATCHES COAL ON COST, CAPACITY IN TURKEY
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, November 20:

  • TTTA Thursday-TOP REPUBLICAN DROPS CLIMATE DENIAL
  • TTTA Thursday-FORD ELECTRIC CARS FOR ‘THE MASSES’
  • TTTA Thursday-MIDWEST SOLAR MAKES SENSE AND CENTS
  • TTTA Thursday-NEW ENERGY JOBS BY THE BAY
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: THE MIDWEST GRID IS READY FOR 40% NEW ENERGY
  • QUICK NEWS, November 19: OHIO NEW ENERGY JOBS REPORT SUPPRESSED; SOLAR GIANT BUYS WIND DEVELOPER; BUSINESS TO MAKE IT BIG IN SMART CITIES
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • THE STUDY: THE NEW ENERGY LIFE-CYCLE CUTS EMISSIONS
  • QUICK NEWS, November 18: U.S. TAKES WORLD LEAD IN WIND; SOLAR TO SHOW MISSOURI JOBS; WAVE ENERGY ROLLING SLOWLY IN
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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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  • Wednesday, January 07, 2009

    RECORD NEW ENERGY INVESTMENT BODES WELL FOR OBAMA PLAN TO RETOOL

    The same week that Detroit carmakers asked for a multibillion dollar bailout from Congress, a solar panel materials manufacturer based in Hemlock, Michigan, 80 miles from Detroit, announced a $3 billion plant expansion expected to create hundreds of jobs.

    Similar expansions in New Energy industries around the U.S. substantiate the incoming administration’s big plans to use federal spending to simultaneously reverse the recession and build a New Energy economy.

    Barack Obama: "Breaking our oil addiction . . . is going to take nothing less than the complete transformation of our economy…"

    Detractors aplenty remember the clumsy Carter-era use of federal funds for coal-to-liquid fuels, the ongoing misguided spending on the corn ethanol scam and other bungled investments of taxpayer money. “Let the market decide,” they say.

    Donald Boudreaux, economics department chairman, George Mason University: "The history of government picking winners in the U.S. is not that grand…People instinctively love the idea of green jobs. . . . But there is a lot of mass stupidity out there."

    Well, if venture capital investment is any indication, the market is pretty unequivocal. It wants New Energy.

    Venture capital investment in New Energy remained surprisingly strong in 2008’s last quarter, giving what
    economist Hazel Henderson calls the sustainability sector a remarkable year. The Q4 total VC investment of $2.5 billion+ in New Energy is less than the previous quarter but impressive in the context of a dramatic economy-wide downturn. And more market affirmation is expected.

    Eric Wesoff, Senior Analyst, Greentech Media: "We see investment numbers staying strong through 2009 as investors continue to nurture their current portfolio firms and look for new opportunities…"

    Even without marketplace approval, it is important to remember that Old Energy has led the nation and the world to global climate change and dependence on delimited, diminishing resources obtained through conflict. New Energy offers relief of that entire burden. Its logic is undeniable and the market must inevitably follow.

    But here’s what everybody really wants to know: Wesoff and other VCs say the areas where money will flow in 2009 will be smart grid technology, energy storage technology, and energy efficiency technology.

    Estimates put the number of New Energy jobs at 1-to-4 million – and that’s BEFORE the stimulus package spending proposed by the new administration.

    Phil Angelides, former California Treasurer/head, Apollo Alliance: "[New Energy/Energy Efficiency investment is] the best path to recovery and the best chance of creating jobs that can't be outsourced…"


    click to enlarge

    Not everything proposed as part of the New Energy economy is high tech. Efficiency measures include home and building weatherization.

    Van Jones, founder,
    Green for All & author, The Green Collar Economy: "You can employ a lot of people very quickly with off-the-shelf technology like caulk guns…This isn't George Jetson stuff."

    click to enlarge

    Germany and Japan are vivid proof that the right kind of federal investment can spur enormous growth. Neither of them has great sun yet their government policies have made them world solar energy industry leaders.

    The U.S. has tremendous solar resources in the Southwest, enormous wind resources on the Midwestern plains and lakes and off its coasts, big hydrokinetic resources in its oceans and rivers, rural and inner city populations hungry for opportunity and a community of scientists and engineers brimming with creativity and can-do spirit. All it needs is leadership.

    Ron Kenedi, vice president-U.S. solar operations, Sharp Corp.: "[The U.S.] created this technology, but we didn't value it because [fossil fuel] energy was so cheap…We need to reclaim our birthright."

    Former Detroit autoworker Don Sloboda may not be Joe-the-plumber, but he is with the new administration on New Energy. He is currently retraining at a Michigan community college for work in the solar/semiconductor industry.

    Sloboda: "It looks like the future to me…"


    click to enlarge

    Venture Capital Investment in Greentech and Renewable Energy Exceeds $2.5B in Q4 2008 and Reaches $7.7B for the Year; Greentech Media Reports Another Strong Quarter and a Record Fundraising Year, With Green Technology and Investment as a Brightspot in the Economy; Pace to Slow but Still Remain Strong Through 2009
    January 5, 2009 (PR Newswire)
    and
    Why Obama's green jobs plan might work; Some states -- including Michigan -- already see renewable energy as their future: It's the only sector that appears to be making room for more employees despite the recession.
    Marla Dickerson, January 4, 2009 (LA Times)

    WHO
    President-elect Barack Obama; Hemlock Semiconductor Corp.; Greentech Media Inc. (Eric Wesoff, Senior Analyst); Donald Boudreaux, economics department chairman, George Mason University; Phil Angelides, former California Treasurer/head, Apollo Alliance; Van Jones, founder, Green for All & author, The Green Collar Economy; Ron Kenedi, vice president-U.S. solar operations, Sharp Corp.; Don Sloboda, former Detroit autoworker, retraining at a community college for work in the semiconductor industry

    WHAT
    The U.S. is retooling for the New Energy economy and the incoming administration’s plans will lead the change. Approval of the plan by the marketplace is evident in the most recent quarterly data on New Energy venture capital investment, which was $2.5 billion+ in Q4 2008.

    click to enlarge

    WHEN
    - Q4 2008: $2.54 billion total investment, 115 deals
    - Year 2008, total VC investment: $7.7 billion+, 350+ deals (twice 2007 dollar total)

    WHERE
    - Big sectors: (1) Solar closed more deals in Q4 2008 than in Q3; (2) Wind, smart grid and energy storage continue to receive record amounts of venture investment; (3) $350 million+ went into biofuels feedstocks (cellulosic ethanol, algae).
    - $117.2 billion+ was in invested in New Energy worldwide in 2007.
    - A $100-billion investment in New Energy and Energy Efficiency could create 2 million jobs over 2 years.
    - Greentech Media headquarters: Cambridge, Mass. Other offices: New York City, San Francisco and Munich.

    WHY
    - By sector:
    Solar: Total Q4 VC Funding-$1,335.9M+ (29 deals)
    Ethanol, Biofuels, Gasification: Total Q4 VC Funding-$358.55M (18 deals)
    Wind: Total Q4 VC Funding-$218M+ (5 deals)
    EE, DR and Smart Grid: Total Q4 VC Funding-$208.5M (11 deals)
    Batteries, FCs, Energy Storage: Total Q4 VC Funding-$101.55M (14 deals)
    Energy Project Development: Total Q4 VC Funding-$96M (2 deals)
    E-Waste and Recycling: Total Q4 VC Funding-$74.8M (7 deals)
    Green IT: Total Q4 VC Funding-$37.3M+ (7 deals)
    Automotive and transportation: Total Q4 VC Funding-$29.03M (4 deals)
    Green Agriculture: Total Q4 VC Funding-$25M (2 deals)
    Lighting: Total Q4 VC Funding-$23.9M+ (7 deals)
    New Coal Tech: Total Q4 VC Funding-$9M+ (2 deals)
    Misc. Greentech: Total Q4 VC Funding-$8.6M (2 deals)
    Green Buildings: Total Q4 VC Funding-$4.0M (1 deal)
    Geothermal: Total Q4 VC Funding-$3.5M (1 deal)
    Environmental Technology: Total Q4 VC Funding-$3.9M (2 deals)
    Water: Total Q4 VC Funding-$1.5M (1 deal)
    - Hemlock Semiconductor makes quartz-based polycrystalline silicon.
    - Obama-Biden campaign promises included a $150 billion investment over 10 years build New Energy, incentivize plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), make homes more efficient and upgrade the national grid. Goals: 5 million new jobs, a turnaround in the fight against global climate change and eliminate U.S. dependence on Middle Eastern oil.

    click to enlarge

    QUOTES
    - Eric Wesoff, Senior Analyst, Greentech Media: "Greentech VC investors remain optimistic on this sector and still have faith in the VC model. Investors continue to fund early stage deals as well as later stage deals…At least 30 of the 115 deals this quarter were seed stage or A rounds…VCs are now digging deep in the greentech sector and looking outside traditional technologies at previously underinvested areas like energy storage, energy efficiency, recycling, water, cleaner coal and green IT…"
    - Eric Straser, partner/ cleantech investment team leader, Mohr Davidow Ventures: "2008 marks the 'end of the beginning,' an end to the first few years of investment enthusiasm…In the next period, we'll see investors focus on strong investor syndicates, management teams that have proven they can execute, and value propositions that can truly deliver…We will continue to see investors allocate capital, albeit more cautiously, to cleantech as the underlying macro forces driving cleantech remain unchanged and cleantech looks well positioned to be a significant part of the new administration…"
    - Eric Wesoff, Senior Analyst, Greentech Media: "We anticipate a slowing in the dollar amount but look for an increase in number of deals as investors back off from building solar and biofuel factories and look for more capital-efficient technologies and firms…"
    - Rich Steudemann, former auto industry mechanical engineer, presently a quality-control expert with Hemlock Semiconductor: "This is like the era of Henry Ford…This industry is just starting to take off."

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