NewEnergyNews: OBAMA MOVE MAKES CLEAR WHAT EFFICIENCY MEANS

NewEnergyNews

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

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YESTERDAY

  • THE STUDY: THE ECONOMIC ADVANTAGES OF NEW ENERGY – THE NORTH CAROLINA CASE
  • QUICK NEWS, April 22: ON EARTH – A QUICK LOOK BACK; OBSERVATIONS FOR EARTH DAY (continued); OBAMA ADMIN UPS BACKING FOR NEW ENERGY
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    THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: THE U.S. NEW ENERGY MARKET NOW AND AHEAD
  • QUICK NEWS, April 21: OBSERVATIONS FOR EARTH DAY; BACK TO OWNERSHIP IN SOLAR; 15X GROWTH FOR ASIA PACIFIC MIDROGRIDS
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • Weekend Video: Happy Birthday Solar Cell
  • Weekend Video: Offshore Wind As A Hurricane A Wall
  • Weekend Video: Get On The Climate Policy Train
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 5 (continued from yesterday)
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 6
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 7
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 8
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, April 17:

  • TTTA Thursday-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 1
  • TTTA Thursday-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 2
  • TTTA Thursday-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 3
  • TTTA Thursday-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 4
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • THE STUDY: NEW ENERGY POSSIBILITIES – THE MICHIGAN EXAMPLE
  • QUICK NEWS, April 16: THE RACE AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE; THE FAST RISING POTENTIAL OF U.S. NEW ENERGY; BIG TEXAS WIND SHRINKS ELECTRICITY MRKT PRICE
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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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  • Monday, July 27, 2009

    OBAMA MOVE MAKES CLEAR WHAT EFFICIENCY MEANS

    Ka-BOOM! Appliance Standards Make a Big Bang; New Obama Administration Standards Could Slash U.S. Energy Use, Cut Global Warming Emissions and Save Consumers Money
    July 22, 2009 (American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy)
    and
    Government Readies Biggest Ever Push for Energy Saving
    Kenneth R. Harney, July 25, 2009 (Washington Post)

    SUMMARY
    Ka-BOOM! The Power of Appliance Standards; Opportunities for New Federal Appliance and Equipment Standards, written by Max Neubauer, Andrew deLaski, Marianne DiMascio and Steven Nadel and sponsored by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP), enthusiastically endorses and describes the importance of Energy Efficiency provisions being readied by the U.S. Department of Energy and other Obama administration agencies that will tighten standards on 26 appliances and enact a series of other efficiencies that could provide unprecedented savings in energy and greenhouse gas emissions (GhGs).

    The ACEEE/ASAP report gets its title from a recent remark made by Secretary of Energy Steven Chu in describing one of the quickest ways to reductions in national energy consumption and GhGs: “Appliance standards, ka-BOOM, can be had right away.”

    26 new standards to change U.S. energy use. (click to enlarge)

    The report calculates that the new Obama administration standards for 26 common household and business products could cut U.S. electricity use by a cumulative 1,900+ terawatt-hours (1.9 trillion kilowatt-hours) by 2030 and save consumers and businesses $123+ billion. The new standards plus standards under consideration and recommended in the ACEEE/ASAP report would also cut GhGs 6.5% by 2020 and 7.5%, eliminating the need for as many as 186 large coal plants by 2030.

    In conjunction with provisions written into the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACESA), the controversial energy and climate change legislation passed by the House of Representatives in the Spring and now undergoing consideration and scrutiny in the Senate, Obama administration advances in Energy Efficiency would “far exceed” any other such advances in energy savings and GhG reductions.

    click to enlarge

    In conforming to the government-wide effort to incentivize Energy Efficiency, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is making available a new generation of mortgages. The 1st HUD opportunity will be 5% larger Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans for borrowers whose plans include efficiency improvements. Example: A $300,000 loan request will get $315,000 if it includes Energy Efficiency retrofits to the property.

    HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan is reportedly also pushing a provision that would add the value of saved energy to a loan applicant’s qualifying income, making it easier to get the loan.

    There is much evidence that Energy Efficiency renovation and retrofitting significantly adds value to properties. G2B Ventures, in Seattle, is raising $50 million to buy and rehabilitate houses because it found efficiency-certified homes sold for 7.5% more per square foot and 24% faster from 2007 to 2008. A CoStar Group study shows that Energy Efficient buildings have higher occupancies, get more rent, lease better and sell better. (See BIG GREEN BUILDINGS).

    click to enlarge

    COMMENTARY
    The 1,900 terawatt-hours of energy consumption savings by 2030 obtainable from the ACEEE/ASAP report’s described and proposed standards is the amount of electricity now used by U.S. households in 18 months.

    The 65,000 megawatts of peak demand savings in 2030 represents about a 6% reduction of total expected 2030 U.S. generating capacity.

    About half the ACEEE/ASAP report’s described and proposed total energy savings would come just from new standards for fluorescent lights, water heaters, home furnaces, furnace fans, and refrigerators.

    For all 26 products covered by the Obama administration-proposed standards, the average payback is 3.1 years for consumers. Over the lifetime of the 26 products, the average savings is 4 times greater than the average cost of the efficiencies implemented, making the benefit-to-cost ratio 4 to 1.

    click to enlarge

    Federal efficiency standards for appliances, equipment, and lighting used in the U.S. go back to 1987. Present standards will cut 7% (273 billion kilowatt-hours) off projected U.S. electricity consumption in 2010, despite DOE having allowed nearly two dozen legal deadlines for updated standards to lapse between 1994 and 2004.

    The Obama administration, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and Congressional leaders clearly intend to go after the enormous energy and GhG savings readily available from enforced and extended standards.

    Only 2 weeks after taking office, Mr. Obama issued a presidential memorandum urging DOE to hurry new appliance standards.

    New lighting standards, significantly stronger than Bush Administration proposals, were announced in June. Chu’s DOE is doing more standards enforcement than at any time since the Department was instituted and has signaled it intends to continue doing so through the end of 2012.

    click to enlarge

    The House of Representativesw signalled it wants in on the energy-saving act by passing ACESA in June. Among the Energy Efficiency provisions in ACESA:

    (1) The FHA is directed to provide 50,000 new Energy Efficiency mortgages, in which houses undergo renovation with retrofits that reduce efficiency by at least 20% by 2012.
    (2) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are directed to develop new mortgages that reward Energy Efficiency.
    (3) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are also directed to increase opportunities for a new generation of energy- and location-efficient mortgages for moderate- and low-income home buyers that add at least $1 to the qualifying income of an applicant for every dollar of energy savings through efficiency renovation and retrofit. (Properties near employment centers or mass-transit lines are considered location efficient.)
    (4) Real estate appraisals would be required to allow renovation and retrofit savings as part of a property’s valuation and states would be required to provide appraisers with training to make such assessments.
    (5) Federal financial regulators are directed to establish "green banking centers" at banks and credit unions to educate consumers on the Energy Efficiency opportunities in the new FHA products.
    (6) HUD is directed to put on “expos” to educate the public on the new product opportunities.
    (7) States are required to prtoect houses that go off the grid from losing their hazard insurance.

    click to enlarge

    Standards first set in the late 1980s or early 1990s will be updated and strengthened by DOE according to new technologies. Recently issued and proposed new appliance and equipment standards will affect many common household and business products, including furnaces, water heaters, air conditioners and fluorescent light bulbs. Cumulative savings from existing standards now save households $2,800. Savings from proposed new standards could save an additional $1,100 per household over the life of the regulated products.

    click to enlarge

    QUOTES
    - Steven Nadel, Executive Director of ACEEE: “The national energy savings at stake in these new standards are huge…It’s really encouraging that the President has made new standards a top priority.”
    - Max Neubauer, lead researcher and report author, ACEEE: “Standards pack a big bang for national energy savings, but for consumers and businesses they silently save energy and cash…Buyers rarely know their purchases are affected, but they can take those savings to the bank.”
    - Marianne DiMascio, report co-author/ Outreach Director, ASAP: "New standards do not require action by Congress or other nations…It's one important piece of the global warming solution puzzle in the complete control of the Obama Administration."

    click to enlarge

    - Mel Hall-Crawford, member, Consumer Federation of America & ASAP Steering Committee: “$123 billion in energy savings is a significant amount of money for consumers to spend on other goods and services…Our economy will benefit and jobs will be created as a result. It’s a win-win-win situation for the economy, the environment, and U.S. consumers.”
    - Andrew deLaski, Executive Director, ASAP: “Appliance standards are a blockbuster strategy for saving energy, cutting global warming pollution, and spurring economic growth…No wonder Secretary Chu used the word ‘ka-BOOM’ to describe appliance standards.”

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