NewEnergyNews: SUN STILL HOT

NewEnergyNews

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

The People's Climate March is Sunday in Manhattan.

The challenge: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-CHINA, INDIA, RUSSIA LEADERS TO SKIP UN CLIMATE SUMMIT
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-WORLD’S OFFSHORE WIND TO HIT 40 GW BY 2020
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-SOLAR IS THE SOLUTION FOR SOUTH ASIA
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-PARIS DIGS GEOTHERMAL
  • THE DAY BEFORE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, Sept. 18:

  • TTTA Thursday-THE WORLD HAS 15 YEARS TO DO THE RIGHT THINGS
  • TTTA Thursday-WIND MAKES THE GRID MORE RELIABLE
  • TTTA Thursday-SOLAR OIL DRILLING
  • TTTA Thursday-A SPORTS CAR THAT RUNS ON SALT-WATER
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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: THE GREEN TRANSITION – MONEY KEEPS COMING TO NEW ENERGY
  • QUICK NEWS, Sept. 17: THE NEWEST NUMBERS ON BIRDS AND WIND; BIG SOLAR COMES TO THE SOUTHEAST; WHERE THE EV CUTS EMISSIONS MOST
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: THE BENEFITS OF PUMPED HYDRO STORAGE CALCULATED
  • QUICK NEWS, Sept. 16: THE ENERGY TRANSITION TAKES SHAPE; A LABOR-ENVIRO CALL FOR NEW ENERGY, NEW WIRES; ADVANCES IN WATER POWER
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: RENEWABLES IN THE COMING ARAB WORLD
  • QUICK NEWS, Sept. 15: SOLAR SUCCEEDING ON PRICE; EVEN MORE WIND THAT HONDA EXPECTED; THE HUGE UNRECOGNIZED BENEFITS OF EFFICIENCY
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • Weekend Video: Climate Change For The Birds
  • Weekend Video: The Evidence Mounts
  • Weekend Video: Colbert On Birds And Climate Change
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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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  • Tuesday, March 24, 2009

    SUN STILL HOT

    U.S. installed solar capacity up 17 percent in 2008
    Bernie Woodall (w/Marguerita Choy), March 20, 2009 (Reuters)
    and
    Solar Energy Industry Group Reports US Solar Market Hit Record Growth In 2008, Despite Economic Crisis; Smart federal policies needed to maintain growth and meet President Obama’s renewable energy goals
    March 19, 2009 (SEIA)

    SUMMARY
    Installed solar energy electricity generating capacity in the U.S. grew 17% (1,265 megawatts) in 2008 to 8,775 megawatts, according to U.S. Solar Industry Year In Review 2008 from the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA).

    The new solar included 342 megawatts of solar photovoltaic (PV), 139 megawatts thermal equivalent of solar water heating, 762 megawatts thermal equivalent of pool heating and an estimated 21 megawatts of solar space heating and cooling.

    It was the biggest single-year growth in U.S. solar energy industry history and the 3rd straight year of record-breaking industry growth.

    Based on plans for 6,000 megawatts (6 gigawatts) of solar power plant development (in California, Arizona, Nevada and Florida), 2009 is expected to be another record-setting year.

    click to enlarge

    Total U.S. grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) capacity is ~800 megawatts. The leading states in that sector are (1) California, 530.1 megawatts, (2) New Jersey, 70.2 megawatts, (3) Colorado, 35.7 megawatts, (4) Nevada, 33.2 megawatts, and Hawaii, 11.3 megawatts.

    Solar power plant technologies, also called concentrating solar technologies, attract investment because of their large scale and potential for storage. Grid-connected PV development is attractive due to its availability at the hottest part of the day to offset peak demand on the grid as well as its ability to supply off-grid power.

    In a first indication of the way newly available Energy Department loan guarantees will act to facilitate New Energy development, a $535 million loan guarantee was approved for PV manufacturer Solyndra Inc., for the construction (by late 2010 or early 2011) of a production plant in California that will create 3,000 construction jobs and, eventually, more than 1,000 plant positions.

    28 states now have Renewable Electricity Standards (RESs) requiring utilities to obtain a specific portion of their power from New energy sources by a date certain. 19 of those RESs have "carve-outs" requiring a specific portion of the power to come from solar and/or distributed generation. 42 states (and D.C.) have net metering provisions, allowing New energy system owners to obtain at least some returns from utilities for power sent to the grid.

    U.S. PV manufacturing capacity grew 65% to 685 megawatts in 2008.

    click to enlarge

    COMMENTARY
    - Solar energy is second only to wind power in U.S. New Energy capacity.
    - But solar has a long way to go to catch up. The wind industry added almost as many NEW megawatts in 2008 (8,538) as the solar industry’s total capacity. Wind has an installed total capacity of 25,170 megawatts.
    - Solar’s growth is, however, more rapid. And with a new emphasis on solar power plant technologies, the solar industry may very well become serious competition for wind. Scientific computations indicate the U.S. total potential solar capacity is much greater than that of wind.
    - 2009 growth is expected to boom as the result of recent enhancements to the solar energy investment tax credit (ITC). The ITC’s 30% cap was removed and it was made available for the first time to utilities.

    click to enlarge

    - The rising interest in solar power plants is based on a pair of important ways they differ from grid-connected PV installations. First, they are utility-scale installations. Size matters to the utilities driving power plant development because they are faced with state Renewable Electrticity Standard (RES) obligations as well as the looming likelihood of a national RES requiring 10% of their power to come from New Energy sources by 2012 and 25% by 2025.
    - The second reason for rapidly growing interest in solar power plant technology is that it offers the possibility for storage over a 6-to-24-hour period of solar energy generated power. Such storage capability would essentially make solar energy available 24/7 because there are ample resources to meet daytime demand while storing adequate power to meet nighttime needs.
    - Power plant storage would be in the form of pressurized steam produced during the heat of the day's sun that could be released after sunset to go on driving plant turbines.

    click to enlarge

    QUOTES
    - Rhone Resch, President/CEO, Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA): "Despite severe economic pressures in the United States, demand for solar energy grew tremendously in 2008…Increasingly, solar energy has proven to be an economic engine for this country, creating thousands of jobs, unleashing billions in investment dollars and building new factories from New Hampshire to Michigan to Oregon…"

    click to enlarge

    - Roger Efird, Chairman, SEIA/President, Suntech America, Inc.: “The growth of solar manufacturing jobs in the U.S. was a breath of fresh air for communities hit hard by the recession. The recently enacted manufacturing tax credit will give further incentive to manufacturers…With the right policies, solar deployment will continue robust growth and thousands of new green-collar jobs in manufacturing will be created in states where jobs are needed most.”

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