NewEnergyNews: FORESEEING PV SUN

NewEnergyNews

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

The challenge: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • Weekend Video: Obama On Climate Change At The UN
  • Weekend Video: Jon Stewart Heats Up Over Climate Change
  • Weekend Video: Colbert Asks If “This Changes Everything”
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-HIGH WATER RISING – EVERYWHERE
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-MOROCCO WIND BOOM COMING
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-INDIA BOOSTS ITS SOLAR BUILD
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-ABU DHABI BUYS A PIECE OF NORWAY’S STAKE IN UK OFFSHORE WIND
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    GET THE DAILY HEADLINES EMAIL: CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR SEND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, Sept. 25:

  • TTTA Thursday-THE PRIVATE SECTOR FACES CLIMATE CHANGE
  • TTTA Thursday-SOLAR WILL POWER SCHOOLS, EARN MONEY FOR TEACHERS
  • TTTA Thursday-A RIDE IN TOMORROW’S CAR
  • TTTA Thursday-A LOOK AT SEE-THROUGH SOLAR
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: FREEING THE NATIONAL TREASURE IN U.S. NATIONAL LABS
  • QUICK NEWS, Sept. 24: ROCKEFELLERS DIVEST OIL FOR NEW ENERGY; BOLD $8BIL WIND BUILD-TRANSMIT-STORE PROJECT; CALIF TARGETS 1.5MIL 0-EMISSIONS CARS BY 2024
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: WHERE OFFSHORE WIND IS IN THE WORLD
  • QUICK NEWS, Sept. 23: THE NEW ENERGY TRANSITION; THE MATTER OF WIND IN KANSAS; MICROGRID TECHNOLOGY MARKET TO QUADRUPLE
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • THE STUDY: NEW ENERGY TO BE THE WORLD’S BIGGEST AND BEST ENERGY BY 2030
  • QUICK NEWS, Sept. 22: BIG NEW WHITE HOUSE BACKING FOR SUN, EE; DOE BOOSTS RESEARCH ON BIGGER WIND; TEXAS CONSIDERS SPREADING GRID COSTS
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, is a biweekly contributor to NewEnergyNews

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT)

    November 26, 2013 (Huffington Post via NewEnergyNews)

    Everywhere we turn, environmental news is filled with horrid developments and glimpses of irreversible tipping points.

    Just a handful of examples are breathtaking: Scientists have dared to pinpoint the years at which locations around the world may reach runaway heat, and in the northern hemisphere it's well in sight for our children: 2047. Survivors of Superstorm Sandy are packing up as costs of repair and insurance go out of reach, one threat that climate science has long predicted. Or we could simply talk about the plight of bees and the potential impact on food supplies. Surprising no one who explores the Pacific Ocean, sailor Ivan MacFadyen described long a journey dubbed The Ocean is Broken, in which he saw vast expanses of trash and almost no wildlife save for a whale struggling a with giant tumor on its head, evoking the tons of radioactive water coming daily from Fukushima's lamed nuclear power center. Rampaging fishing methods and ocean acidification are now reported as causing the overpopulation of jellyfish that have jammed the intakes of nuclear plants around the world. Yet the shutting down of nuclear plants is a trifling setback compared with the doom that can result in coming days at Fukushima in the delicate job to extract bent and spent fuel rods from a ruined storage tank, a project dubbed "radioactive pick up sticks."

    With all these horrors to ponder you wouldn't expect to hear that you should also worry about the United States running out of coal. But you would be wrong, says Leslie Glustrom, founder and research director for Clean Energy Action. Her contention is that we've passed the peak in our nation's legendary supply of coal that powers over one-third of our grid capacity. This grim news is faithfully spelled out in three reports, with the complete story told in Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves (pdf). (Disclosure: I serve on CEA's board and have known the author for years.)

    Glustrom's research presents a sea change in how we should understand our energy challenges, or experience grim consequences. It's not only about toxic and heat-trapping emissions anymore; it's also about having enough energy generation to run big cities and regions that now rely on coal. Glustrom worries openly about how commerce will go on in many regions in 2025 if they don't plan their energy futures right.

    2013-11-05-FigureES4_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    Scrutinizing data for prices on delivered coal nationwide, Glustrom's new report establishes that coal's price has risen nearly 8 percent annually for eight years, roughly doubling, due mostly to thinner, deeper coal seams plus costlier diesel transport expenses. Higher coal prices in a time of "cheap" natural gas and affordable renewables means coal companies are lamed by low or no profits, as they hold debt levels that dwarf their market value and carry very high interest rates.

    2013-11-05-Table_ES2_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    2013-11-05-Figure_ES2_FULL.jpg

    One leading coal company, Patriot, filed for bankruptcy last year; many others are also struggling under bankruptcy watch and not eager to upgrade equipment for the tougher mining ahead. Add to this the bizarre event this fall of a coal lease failing to sell in Wyoming's Powder River Basin, the "Fort Knox" of the nation's coal supply, with some pundits agreeing this portends a tightening of the nation's coal supply, not to mention the array of researchers cited in the report. Indeed, at the mid point of 2013, only 488 millions tons of coal were produced in the U.S.; unless a major catch up happens by year-end, 2013 may be as low in production as 1993.

    Coal may exist in large quantities geologically, but economically, it's getting out of reach, as confirmed by US Geological Survey in studies indicating that less than 20 percent of US coal formations are economically recoverable, as explored in the CEA report. To Glustrom, that number plus others translate to 10 to 20 years more of burning coal in the US. It takes capital, accessible coal with good heat content and favorable market conditions to assure that mining companies will stay in business. She has observed a classic disconnect between camps of professionals in which geologists tend to assume money is "infinite" and financial analysts tend to assume that available coal is "infinite." Both biases are faulty and together they court disaster, and "it is only by combining thoughtful estimates of available coal and available money that our country can come to a realistic estimate of the amount of US coal that can be mined at a profit." This brings us back to her main and rather simple point: "If the companies cannot make a profit by mining coal they won't be mining for long."

    No one is more emphatic than Glustrom herself that she cannot predict the future, but she presents trend lines that are robust and confirmed assertively by the editorial board at West Virginia Gazette:

    Although Clean Energy Action is a "green" nonprofit opposed to fossil fuels, this study contains many hard economic facts. As we've said before, West Virginia's leaders should lower their protests about pollution controls, and instead launch intelligent planning for the profound shift that is occurring in the Mountain State's economy.

    The report "Warning, Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" and its companion reports belong in the hands of energy and climate policy makers, investors, bankers, and rate payer watchdog groups, so that states can plan for, rather than react to, a future with sea change risk factors.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    It bears mentioning that even China is enacting a "peak coal" mentality, with Shanghai declaring that it will completely ban coal burning in 2017 with intent to close down hundreds of coal burning boilers and industrial furnaces, or shifting them to clean energy by 2015. And Citi Research, in "The Unimaginable: Peak Coal in China," took a look at all forms of energy production in China and figured that demand for coal will flatten or peak by 2020 and those "coal exporting countries that have been counting on strong future coal demand could be most at risk." Include US coal producers in that group of exporters.

    Our world is undergoing many sorts of change and upheaval. We in the industrialized world have spent about a century dismissing ocean trash, overfishing, pesticides, nuclear hazard, and oil and coal burning with a shrug of, "Hey it's fine, nature can manage it." Now we're surrounded by impacts of industrial-grade consumption, including depletion of critical resources and tipping points of many kinds. It is not enough to think of only ourselves and plan for strictly our own survival or convenience. The threat to animals everywhere, indeed to whole systems of the living, is the grief-filled backdrop of our times. It's "all hands on deck" at this point of human voyaging, and in our nation's capital, we certainly don't have that. Towns, states and regions need to plan fiercely and follow through. And a fine example is Boulder Colorado's recent victory to keep on track for clean energy by separating from its electric utility that makes 59 percent of its power from coal.

    Clean Energy Action is disseminating "Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" for free to all manner of relevant professionals who should be concerned about long range trends which now include the supply risks of coal, and is supporting that outreach through a fundraising campaign.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    Author's note: Want to support my work? Please "fan" me at Huffpost Denver, here (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anne-butterfield). Thanks.

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    Anne's previous NewEnergyNews columns:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    Your intrepid reporter

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      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

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    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

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  • Thursday, March 19, 2009

    FORESEEING PV SUN

    2009 Global PV Demand Analysis and Forecast: The Anatomy of a Shakeout II
    Daniel Englander, March 2, 2009 (Greentech Media)
    and
    PV Technology, Production and Cost, 2009 Forecast: The Anatomy of a Shakeout
    Shyam Mehta, January 27, 2009 (Greentech Media)

    SUMMARY
    The "Anatomy of a Shakeout" series, the latest in the fine reports on New Energy produced by Greentech Media and the Prometheus Institute, applies a supply-demand analysis to the solar energy photovoltaic (PV) industry to forecast where the sector is headed.

    Intended for solar photovoltaic (PV) industry specialists, the series is less concerned with defining the term ("photo" refers to light and "voltaic" refers to electricity) and less concerned with explaining about the solar thermal industry ("thermal" refers to the sun's heat), which uses concentrating technologies to build solar power plants and solar hot water systems, than it is with hardcore metrics about the makers and buyers of what are popularly known as solar "panels" and solar "thin-film."

    The supply-demand analysis begins with sophisticated calculations of the availability of polysilicon and ends with a sophisticated assessment of the coming demand for electricity.

    The "shakeout" of the title refers to the ongoing solar energy industry consolidation created by the current economic downturn (tight credit leading to slowed demand, idled manufacturing capacity, cancelled expansions and escalating oversupply).

    2009 is predicted to be the solar energy industry’s weakest growth year since 1994.

    2009 is also predicted to see solar energy reach grid parity in some markets.

    Ahead of schedule? (click to enlarge)

    In the supply analysis (authors: Shyam Mehta of Greentech Media and Travis Bradford of the Prometheus Institute):
    (1) Production and capacity forecasts for PV cells, modules and wafers, 2008–2012;
    (2) Company, technology and region market share analysis;
    (3) Quantitative analysis of manufacturing costs for PV modules and the evolution of costs;
    (4) First ever global PV module supply curves, 2008–2012;
    (5) Detailed profiles for 118 crystalline silicon and thin-film companies.

    The demand analysis sees producers having control of module price in a credit-constrained economy that blocks new players from the field and keeps consumers from amassing the buying power through which they might otherwise affect price.

    In such a market, rate of return on module sales is the key competitive factor.

    Module suppliers who understand and can serve the constraints facing project developers will survive the economic downturn and industry consolidation.

    The main constraint on developers is failing capital due to the credit crunch and receding incentives.

    The result will be fewer projects, due to a record low 13% industry growth, and falling module price, reducing industry revnues 15%.

    Technical data from the Greentech Media/Prometheus report. (click to enlarge)

    In the demand analysis (authors: Daniel Englander of Greentech Media, Shyam Mehta of Greentech Media and Travis Bradford of the Prometheus Institute):
    (1) Quantitative analysis of project economics in Germany, Spain, the United States and Japan for c-Si and thin film-based residential, commercial and utility scale systems;
    (2) First-ever country-level and global PV demand curves, 2009- 2012 and reconciliation of independently constructed global PV supply and demand curves, leading to an accurate forecast of module selling prices and equilibrium demand volumes;
    (3) Quantitative analysis of manufacturer profit margins, market shares, grid parity, project economics, and module pricing;
    (4) PV policy analysis;
    (5) Electricity sector analysis;
    (6) PV market development in the U.S., Germany, Spain, Italy, France, Greece, Portugal, The Netherlands, Czech Republic, Japan, South Korea, Australia, India, China and the United Arab Emirates.

    Technical data from the Greentech Media/Prometheus report. (click to enlarge)

    COMMENTARY
    - From the supply analysis:
    (1) Module supply increases. PV module manufacturing capacity will be 27.5 gigawatts by 2012, producing 23 gigawatts of PV modules. Thin-film modules will grow from 2007’s 13% of the market to 34% by 2012.
    (2) Costs fall. Silicon module costs will be cut in half by 2015 to $1.40/Watt and CIGS thin-film modules will be $0.75/Watt.
    (3) High-efficiency monocrystalline and low-cost thin film technologies triumph. They will be 30% (efficiency-adjusted) cheaper than traditional multicrystalline manufacturing.
    (4) Asia dominates silicon manufacturing. 82% of world crystalline silicon cells will be made in Asia by 2012, driving their costs down and increasing their dominance over other manufacturers.

    Technical data from the Greentech Media/Prometheus report. (click to enlarge)

    - From the demand analysis:
    (1) Demand drops. The global recession will impact lending, project finance, and government budgets. This will cause market problems in market-drivers Germany and Spain. Demand will grow only 13% to 5 gigawatts in 2009.
    (2) Price drops as demand drops. Average module price will be below $2.50/ Watt in 2009 and below $2.00/Watt in 2010.
    (3) Market size contracts. The 2009 market will be $12 billion, a 15% contraction. It will remain flat through 2012. Manufacturers retaining high rates of return will gain as others fall out of competition because of shrinking available capital.
    (4) Asian multicrystalline and CIGS manufacturers dominate, CdTe and Super monocrystalline hold market shares. By 2012, thin-film modules will be 50% of new demand.
    (5) Grid parity in some markets by the end of 2009. There will be a new emphasis on levelized cost of energy (LCOE) and $/kilowaat-hour as the crucial metric of competitiveness.
    - The information in the reports may be essential for industry players and investors. At the prices charged, it had better be:
    Single License - $2,495.00;
    Premium Single License - $4,995.00;
    Enterprise License - $4,495.00;
    Premium Enterprise License - $8,995.00

    Technical data from the Greentech Media/Prometheus report. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - From Greentech Media, on the supply analysis: “This data-driven analysis tackles manufacturing cost assessment company-by-company, technology-by-technology, region-by-region, to provide an exhaustive, bottom-up examination of the entire PV supply chain. The report culminates with the creation and forecasting of the industry's first-ever global supply curves, which shows the competitive position of every company and technology from 2008 through 2015.”
    - From Greentech Media, on the demand analysis: “The report begins with a quantitative analysis of project economics in major PV markets, uses these results to build and forecast the industry's first-ever country-level and global demand curves, and culminates with the reconciliation of global demand curves with the global supply curves from PV Production, Technology and Cost, identifying market-clearing module prices and equilibrium demand volumes from 2009 through 2012.”

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