NewEnergyNews: EFFICIENCY IS EVEN MORE EFFICIENT THAN THEY THOUGHT

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

THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, August 21:

  • TTTA Thursday-THE RISKIEST ENERGY PLAYS IN THE WORLD
  • TTTA Thursday-FACTS ON BIRDS AND SOLAR POWER
  • TTTA Thursday-WIND PRICES AT ALL TIME LOWS
  • TTTA Thursday-PRICES DROPPING ON GREEN BUILDING
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: IMPORTS, EXPORTS AND NEW ENERGY
  • QUICK NEWS, August 20: COURTS DISMISS 98% OF WIND HEALTH COMPLAINTS; TURNING OLD CAR BATTERIES INTO NEW SOLAR PANELS; OCEAN ENERGY PIONEERS
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    GET THE DAILY HEADLINES EMAIL: CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR SEND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: CLIMATE CHANGE IN AFRICA
  • QUICK NEWS, August 19: LOW-PRICED WIND ENERGY ATTRACTS UTILITIES; TEXAS SUBURBS BLOCK SOLAR; WHAT UTILITY CUSTOMERS WANT
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: THE THREATS TO OLD ENERGIES AROUND THE WORLD
  • QUICK NEWS, August 18: GERMANY UPS GRID STABILITY WITH NEW ENERGY ; U.S. SOLAR MANUFACTURING TO RISE; TEXAS LEADS U.S. WIND BOOM
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • Weekend Video: Buy Or Lease Rooftop Solar?
  • Weekend Video: The Sound Of The Wind
  • Weekend Video: Why Energy Efficiency?
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-CLIMATE CHANGE IN CHINA
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-RUSSIA-CAPTURED CRIMEA DIALS DOWN NEW ENERGY
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-A NEW LOOK AT THE WORLD’S OCEAN ENERGIES
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-WORLD BANK PLEDGES $5BIL FOR AFRICA NEW ENERGY
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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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  • Friday, March 20, 2009

    EFFICIENCY IS EVEN MORE EFFICIENT THAN THEY THOUGHT

    Study Finds National Standard for Energy Efficiency Can Save U.S. Consumers and Businesses Nearly $170 Billion; Business and Environmental Groups Launch Campaign for Federal Policy to Spur Greater Energy Efficiency Investment
    Melissa Smith, March 18, 2009 (American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy)

    SUMMARY
    The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE)’s Laying The Foundation For Implementing A Federal Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (authors: Laura A. Furrey, Steven Nadel, John A. “Skip” Laitner), draws from the most recent 2008 energy use data further verification of the enormous benefits to be gained by adopting widespread efficiency practices and habits.

    Rewarding energy users for efficient practices could cut U.S. utility bills by $168.6 billion, 16% more savings than estimated in an earlier ACEEE report.

    click to enlarge

    The ACEEE report was released in conjunction with the launching of Campaign for an Energy-Efficient America, a coalition of business and interest groups formed to push Congress for a national Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS).

    The movement wants a national EERS requiring utilities to cut electricity use 15% and natural gas use 10% by 2020.

    The report found that, among other things, a national EERS would: (1) generate 222,000 total permanent, high quality jobs; (2) save 262 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions; and (3) avoid the need for 390 new power plants.

    click to enlarge

    COMMENTARY
    - The basic idea can be described in 1 word: Decoupling. The cuts in energy use come from rewarding utilities for reductions in energy consumption by their ratepayers instead of for selling more and more electricity.
    - This "decouples" - or takes apart - utilities' profits and increaded energy consumption. It gives utilities more reward for creating efficiencies than they get from selling electricity.
    - Programs would include home energy audits, rebates for installing efficient appliances and incentives for doing efficiency retrofits.
    - A really exciting idea is to add an insignificant surcharge to ratepayer bills to create a pool of money and reward the utilities out of that pool for cuts in their customers’ consumption.
    - With decoupling, utilities would have an incentive to perform audits, install smart equipment and new appliances and do retrofits at their expense. The utilities would recover the costs of improvements from increases to ratepayer bills equal to the total savings from the new structure, appliances, equipment and practices. In effect, the ratepayer pays no more but gets an efficiency makeover while the utility earns the money back for the improvements over time and is rewarded in the short run for reducing its customers’ consumption.

    click to enlarge

    - Administration of the national EERS would be at the state level where there is a pre-existing relationship between regulators and utilities.
    - 19 states have EERSs. The policy’s fullest effect cannot come without national implementation but the report noted at the state level (1) Florida’s EERS will create 19,500+ new jobs and save $14 billion in energy costs; (2) The Illinois EERS will create 6,500+ new jobs and save $3.6 billion in energy costs; (3) Indiana’s EERS will create 5,000+ new jobs and save $3.6 billion in energy costs; (4) North Carolina’s will create ~6,500 new jobs and save $3 billion in energy costs; and (5) Tennessee’s will create 5,000+ new jobs and save $3.5 billion on energy costs.

    click to enlarge

    - The Save American Energy Act (H.R. 889 in the House, sponsored by Representative Edward Markey, D-Mass, and S. 548 in the Senate, sponsored by Senator Charles Schumer, D-NY) creates a national EERS to cut electricity use 15% and natural gas use 10% by 2020.
    - The widely acclaimed energy authority Amory Lovins, Cofounder, Chairman and Chief Scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute and known at NewEnergyNews as “His Excellency of Efficiency,” frequently cites ACEEE as the best reference for consumers.

    click to enlarge

    QUOTES
    - Reid Detchon, Executive Director of the Energy Future Coalition: “As this coalition shows, the idea of a national energy efficiency standard draws support from a wide range of business and environmental groups in order to save money for consumers, create long-term jobs that cannot be outsourced, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions…”

    click to enlarge

    - Steven Nadel, Executive Director, ACEEE: “Energy efficiency is one of the most effective ways to address our nation’s energy and climate challenges while creating jobs and saving Americans money…In these difficult economic times, investment in energy efficiency makes more sense than ever...”
    - Mindy S. Lubber, president, Ceres (which founded Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy, BICEP): “Energy efficiency is the veritable low hanging fruit for businesses who want to fight climate change and reduce their monthly energy bills…Leading businesses are calling on Congress to pass strong energy-saving policies that will spur innovation, improve company bottom lines, and put Americans back to work building a clean energy economy.”

    click to enlarge

    - Dave Douglas, V.P, Cloud Computing/Chief Sustainability Officer, BICEP member Sun Microsystems: "We appreciate the leadership demonstrated by Rep. Markey and Sen. Schumer...on policies that will encourage energy efficiency - the fastest, cheapest, and cleanest way to start addressing our nation's energy and climate challenges…”
    - Brenna Walraven, Managing Director, USAA Real Estate Company: “Implementing a strong energy efficiency standard for utilities will lead to much needed additional investments in our built environment, increasing the asset value of commercial and residential buildings alike across the country…”

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