NewEnergyNews: 05/01/2009 - 06/01/2009

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

  • THE STUDY: THE DIFFERENT WAYS TO MAKE THE TRANSITION TO NEW ENERGY
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 29: WIND MAY TIP KANSAS ELECTION; YOUNG VOTERS BRING NEW ENERGY; GREEN BUILDINGS BOOMING
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: THE AFFORDABILITY OF THE NEW ENERGY TRANSITION
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 28: WIND BOOMS AS ‘MOST AFFORDABLE ENERGY OPTION’; OBSTACLES AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR BIG SOLAR; GEOTHERMAL COMING BACK
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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 HEALTH IN EMISSIONS CUTS
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 27: NEW ENERGY OVER 40% OF U.S. NEW BUILD IN 2014; EMPLOYEE BENEFITS NOW INCLUDE SOLAR; WIND BRINGS JOBS TO MICHIGAN
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • Weekend Video: Talking With The Redwoods
  • Weekend Video: Evangelicals Confront Climate Change
  • Weekend Video: Living The Platinum Rule: Making The Best Invention Of All Time Better
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE- EU UPS THE WORLD’S BAR ON EMISSIONS CUT TARGETS
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-FIRST BIG MOROCCO SOLAR NEAR POWERING UP
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-NORTH SEA WIND-HYDRO INTERLINK TO GROW
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-TURKISH GEOTHERMAL GETS INTELLIGENT
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, Oct. 23:

  • TTTA Thursday-EVANGELICALS IN ‘CREATION CARE’ CLIMATE FIGHT
  • TTTA Thursday-ADVANCED WIND-MAKERS MAKANI, SHEERWIND READY DEMOS
  • TTTA Thursday-TEA PARTY BACKS SOLAR, ATTACKS UTILITY MONOPOLIES
  • TTTA Thursday-WHAT DRIVERS DON’T KNOW HOLDS BACK THE FUTURE
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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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  • Sunday, May 31, 2009

    CAP&TRADE CAN FUND EMERGING WORLD NEW ENERGY TRANSITION

    Rich Nations Promise $100 Billion Per Year Aid to Poor Nations in Climate Fight
    Mridul Chadha, May 28, 2009 (Red, Green and Blue via Reuters)

    SUMMARY
    In a breakthrough for negotiators working out the details on a post-Kyoto international agreement to fight global climate change, preliminary assent has been reached by developed nations for a $100 billion per year investment to fund developing nations’ transition to New Energy.

    This potentially settles one of the most contentious issues in the agreement the world’s nations hope to sign at the Copenhagen summit in December.

    Through the breakthrough measure, developed nations would create an international adaptation fund to support emerging economies' transition to New Energy and away from deforestation. Emerging nations have heretofore insisted they will not sacrifice economic growth to reverse a climate change they say is caused by the burning of fossil fuels in developed nations over the last 2 centuries to achieve affluence.

    click to enlarge

    The contentiousness over the issue has been complicated by the worldwide financial downturn in recent months. Developed nations, with diminished productivity and rising unemployment, were reluctant to take on the financial responsibility. Emerging economies, struggling against more difficult economic circumstances to sustain growth, were more adamant that they could not cut emissions without assistance.

    The capital for the adaptation fund would theoretically come from the sale of allowances in international cap&trade systems, some still only hypothetical. The European Union (EU), through its existing Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), has committed to the fund but will not follow through until nations like the U.S. and Australia kick in through their proposed and pending cap&trade systems.

    Australia has approved a cap&trade plan that would sell allowances and raise the revenues but delayed implementation due to the economic downturn.

    click to enlarge

    The U.S. is debating a cap&trade plan. One of the main impediments to support for it is the political risk associated with adding higher short-term energy prices to the public’s burden during a recession.

    Japan represents another important and problematic dimension of the debate. It is calling for stronger but potentially politically untenable emissions reductions goals.

    The opponents to aggressive action against climate change question the possibility of effective implementation. A recent World Bank report found that while emissions markets worldwide have doubled in value, emissions reductions have slowed by a third.

    click to enlarge

    The Copenhagen negotiators are working to draft satisfactory rules to make the New Energy and deforestation program transparent and effective.

    The Copenhagen negotiators are also considering creating an alternative tier of participation for the emerging BRIC economies (Brazil, Russia, India and China) so as to charge them with a role in the process that would include some responsibility to undeveloped nations. It might take the form of a voluntary emissions offset program or some form of aid to nations where the BRIC countries do business. China seems to have indicated tentative approval of emissions reductions for some of its heaviest industries and an investment program for New Energy projects in poor countries.

    The single most important element in writing an agreement is that it provides for actual and transparent measurements of emission cuts so the primary goal - reducing greenhouse gas emissions - remains uppermost and the emissions trading market does not become an impotent tool of the investing class.

    click to enlarge

    COMMENTARY
    One of the contentious issues in the debate has been what emissions reductions goals to set. The U.S. will be lucky to get a 17% cut by 2020 out of its political struggle this year. EU leaders last year set a 20% by 2020 goal. Japan wants the Copenhagen summit to call for the 25-to-40% emissions cuts the scientists of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) say are necessary to significantly affect the progress of climate change.

    The resistance of the conservative side of the U.S. political system to moving against climate change with significant emissions reductions often is expressed as a concern for putting the U.S. at an economic disadvantage to its economic competitors among emerging nations, especially the BRIC countries.

    click to enlarge

    A significant portion of the fund will be directed at the goal of reversing deforestation in the developing world. Reversing deforestation is one of the single most impactful changes in emissions the world can make. It is a particularly significant undertaking because, unlike cap&trade, it is not a way to put the market to work against climate change. It is, instead, a way to use cap&trade revenues in direct action against deforestation and climate change.

    A conclusive answer to the question of whether a cap&trade system would significantly affect emissions cannot yet be answered, despite the best World Bank statistics about emissions markets and emissions changes. The world as a whole is not yet participating and emissions know no borders. Even in the EU, where markets are the most advanced, emissions changes are not indicative because the EU is still integrating former Soviet bloc Eastern European nations with essentially third world economies and power generation systems.

    click to enlarge

    Some EU ETS monies have been directed at deforestation but it has been done on a too-limited basis and the kind of rules needed to make action effective are only just beginning to be clear.

    The UN Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) sells Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs) to EU companies seeking to “offset” emissions by funding New Energy and emissions reduction projects in emerging and undeveloped countries. Under the right rules, the CDM could use market forces to protect forests by selling CERs for projects that protect forests.

    click to enlarge

    But CDM rules governing the approval, award and sale of CERs are so far inadequate. This is not so much a reason to dismiss the idea of forest protection with the use of CERs as it is a reason to make the rules workable.

    Examples: Unlike Brazil’s present rules, countries investing in forest protection projects must have some oversight on how the investment is used. Unlike India’s present system, CDM projects must go on line, or least prove feasibility, before earning CERs so that investments are made on the basis of actual emissions reductions.

    click to enlarge

    QUOTES
    - Mridul Chadha, author, Rich Nations Promise $100 Billion: "The problem is not only 'who would pay how much' but also 'who gets how much'."
    - Mridul Chadha, author, Rich Nations Promise $100 Billion: "The new climate treaty should have provisions which are not biased in favor of a few countries. Developed nations have been hit the hardest by the economic recession and even though they will provide the bulk of the financial aid to the developing and poor countries for transition to clean energy technology, the advanced developing nations must play their part by agreeing to voluntary emission reductions and help poor nations."
    - Mridul Chadha, author, Rich Nations Promise $100 Billion: "The UN must also ensure that the emissions trading system is not reduced to merely a business tool for industries…"

    NEW ENERGY INNOVATION EMERGES FROM ISRAELI CHAOS

    CA investors turn to Israel’s clean tech sector
    Karin Kloosterman, May 24, 2009 (Israel 21c)
    and
    Israel's Clean Technology Pioneers; They're pros at getting the most out of limited natural resources. The world is taking notice—especially U.S. venture capitalists
    Roben Farzad, May 7, 2009 (BusinessWeek)

    SUMMARY
    Right after the Pope and his Catholic pilgrim followers left Israel, a new group of seekers arrived. The California Israel Chamber of Commerce (CICC) brought 40 California venture capitalists (VCs), representing some of the biggest and richest players (including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Sequoia Capital, Khosla Ventures, Good Energies, Mohr Davidow Ventures, as well as the Google CEO, the Sempra Generation CEO and the Mayor of Phoenix, AZ), searching Israel for New Energy opportunities.

    They visited Yavne, a hazy industrial corridor in central Israel, where geothermal power plant developer Ormat Technologies has built a $2 billion multinational corporation.

    They visited a site in the Negev Desert, where entrepreneur Amit Ziv recycles runoff water from a nearby spa to raise sea bass and a white fish delicacy called barramundi and channels the water to grow olives that he exports to Spain.

    The VCs also met with big names like Metrolight, an electricity ballast company, and Better Place, the electric vehicle innovator, little known breakthrough companies like GreenRoad Technologies (energy efficiency), TaKaDu and AquaPure (water tech innovators) and HelioFocus and ZenithSolar (solar energy) as well as President Shimon Peres, one of Israel's biggest New Energy advocates.

    Israel is a tiny nation of 7 million with a lot of desert, a dwindling freshwater supply, few natural resources and neighbors on all sides inclined to see it fail and disappear. Some say it has a “siege mentality.” Whatever the mentality, it drives a quest to get ever more from what little there is.

    Israel recycles 70% of its wastewater, 3 times more than the 2nd-most water conserving nation (Spain). Drip irrigation innovator Netafim exports its technology worldwide. And solar power plant pioneer BrightSource Industries is arguably the world leader in utility scale solar energy innovation.

    The solar power tower at Dimona. (click to enlarge)

    Arnold J. Goldman, chairman of BrightSource, founded Lexitron, the first word-processing software maker in the U.S., and sold it in 1977. He formed Luz International and built 9 breakthrough solar power plants in California but was driven out business in 1991 by low natural gas prices.

    BrightSource Industries, launched in 2004, is Goldman's comeback. BrightSource has raised more than $160 million from VCs (including VantagePoint Venture Partners, Google, Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan Chase) for its solar power plant technology. Its test center in Dimona has a semicircular array of 1,641 mechanized coffee-table-size mirrors that track the Negev Desert sun and reflect it onto the boiler at the top of a solar power tower where liquid is superheated and flows to boil water into steam that turns turbines. The steam is recaptured and recycled to miminimize the use of water.

    Looking down on the mirrors from the tower. (click to enlarge)

    David Faiman, director of Ben-Gurion University's National Solar Energy Center, pioneered solar power plant technology with Goldman and has survived as one of the industry's sages. He wants Israel to put more resources into research and development and to find the technological breakthroughs that will bring down the cost of solar energy-generated electricity.

    Luz is reborn in BrightSource. (click to enlarge)

    COMMENTARY
    Israeli innovation is not government driven. It emerges from Israel's tumultuous, contentious, contradiction-riddled society and the urgency of meeting the needs of a nation under the gun for more than half a century and a people outcast for 2 millenia.

    Example: Israel’s success in drip irrigation technology is the product of how precious water is in the desert.

    Example: Israel’s lack of fossil fuel resources created the opportunity for and the urgency of exploiting the sun.

    With people and a bus in the picture, the scale becomes apparent. (click to enlarge)

    The California Israel Chamber of Commerce (CICC) calls Israel a “petri dish” for New Energy development. The desperate and exuberant chaos of the society and the obsession of the government with national security issues somehow leaves open the opportunity for New Energy entrepreneurs to get things done fast.

    BrightSource's Goldman says his company's technology will reshape some countries' population centers. Deserts in California and Nevada, Saharan Africa, Saudi Arabia, and Australia can become energy centers of immense wealth with ever-renewing power sources.

    Demonstrating the potential, BrightSource signed a deal with California utility giant Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) for solar power plant installations totalling 900 megawatts in the Mojave Desert, starting in 2011. It then signed an even bigger deal with Southern California Edison (SCE), another huge California utility, for 1300 more megawatts of solar power plant installations. It was the biggest solar-power purchase agreement anywhere, ever.

    Validating Goldman's point that solar power plant technology can reshape geography, the contracted California solar power plants will nurture the essentially resourceless megapopulation of Southern California that grew up on now exhausted oil wealth and stolen water.

    Goldman says BrightSource could fill the U.S. Southwest with enough solar power plants to meet 2/3 U.S. electricity demand if it could get the contracts and the necessary new transmission.

    David Faiman, the solar power plant pioneer, believes it is the intense sun and the chaos that have made Israel the world's leader. It was natural for a country without fossil fuel under a burning sun to move on solar energy. That it has yet to achieve its full potential, however, is attributable to the same chaos and "seige mentality." Political disarray, he argues, doesn't lead to effective long-term planning.

    Still, there are a lot of countries in the immediate vicinity that have the same burning sun and a lot less innovation.

    click to enlarge

    QUOTES
    - President Barack Obama: … interestingly enough, you're seeing the Saudis make significant investments both in their own country and outside of their country in clean energy…I think they recognize that…we have a finite supply of oil…If everybody is dependent solely on oil as opposed to energy sources like wind and solar, if we are not able to figure out ways to sequester carbon and that would allow us to use coal in a non-polluting way, if we don't diversify our energy sources, then all of us are going to be in trouble…
    - Jacques Benkoski, VC, Venture Partners: "The world is now realizing it has to deal with things that Israel has had to tackle for 50 years...Doing more with less is becoming the standard."
    - Glen I.A. Schwaber, founding partner, Israel Cleantech Ventures: "The cleantech economy here hums independently, on market forces and innovation, despite the political situation..."
    - Waiter, Tel Aviv cafe: "The government has been promising more freshwater since I was a kid...But they will spend it on the next war instead. We'll all die of thirst first."

    click to enlarge

    - Arnold J. Goldman, chairman, BrightSource Energy: "All that light, all that heat...is practically begging you to use it."
    - Jack Keenan, COO, PG&E: "We see solar making a big impact in the Southwest and California...Partnering with BrightSource will enable us to increase the growing amount of renewable energy demanded by our 15 million customers."
    - Jonathan Shapira, corporate attorney/New Energy blogger: "Israel has such a geopolitical vested interest to steer this innovation...Innovating around scarcity is increasingly the world's story."
    - Shuly Galili, executive director, California Israeli Chamber of Commerce: "Investors are excited to make investments because valuations are down, and there is less noise in the market. We tend to see good entrepreneurs at these times… Both the Obama administration and governments worldwide are pouring money into this sector. It won't be an area that investors will neglect…"

    MORE SUNDAY WORLD, 5-31 (EURO-WIND TO CHINA; U.S. WIND TO INDIA; NZ TEST PRVOES JET BIOFUEL SAVES)

    EURO-WIND TO CHINA
    Siemens breaks ground in China’s wind market
    May 26, 2009 (Cleantech Group)

    "…Germany’s Siemens broke ground last week on a new wind turbine production facility [with the capacity to generate 500 MW annually] in Shanghai's Lingang New City, signifying the company's entry into China’s wind power market…

    "The new facility is scheduled begin operating in the second half of 2010, initially with 400 employees. The wind turbines are expected to be for the Chinese market and for export. Siemens is investing more than RMB 573.45 million ($84 million) to set up this new location."


    click to enlarge

    "Siemens entered the wind turbine market through its acquisition of Denmark’s Bonus Energy in 2004. Wind turbine plants are a component of Siemens’ environmental portfolio, which brought in revenue of nearly $25.6 billion in fiscal year 2008, about a quarter of the company’s total revenue.

    "China's installed wind power capacity reached 12.2 GW at the end of 2008, and is expected to grow to 20 GW of installed capacity by the end of 2009, surpassing Germany by the year's end as the leading wind market…"


    click to enlarge

    "Siemens can expect to face competition in China from Denmark's Vestas Wind Systems, which recently said it plans to invest $350 million in its Tianjin, China-based subsidiary, responding to growing demand in China for its turbine…

    "In April, Vestas launched a new factory and a specialty wind turbine, which has blade designs and temperature control systems to adapt to the tough winters in Inner Mongolia. The turbine is most effective in low and medium winds, which make up 75 percent of China's unutilized onshore wind potential…"



    U.S. WIND TO INDIA
    AMSC expands in India’s wind market with Inox deal
    May 27, 2009 (Cleantech Group)

    "A subsidiary of Devens, Mass.-based American Superconductor has expanded its presence in India today, licensing its wind turbine design to India’s Inox Wind.

    "AMSC Windtech, a subsidiary of energy technologies company American Superconductor, licensed its doubly-fed induction wind turbine design with the capacity of generating 2 megawatts to Inox…[giving] Inox the ability to manufacturer and sell the wind turbines on a global level. Inox plans to start series production of the wind turbines in 2010."


    click to enlarge

    "…[AMSC will] help Inox localize the supply of key wind turbine components, establish its manufacturing line, and build and test Inox’s first prototype wind turbines. AMSC expects to receive an upfront license fee as well as royalty payments for an undisclosed amount from the arrangement. AMSC also plans to provide the electrical systems for the Inox-manufactured wind turbines.

    "Inox Wind is part of the Inox Group, a diverse line of businesses with more than 4,500 employees and nearly $600 million in annual sales. The company owns and operates several wind farms in India."


    click to enlarge

    "At the end of 2008, India was the world’s fifth largest wind power market, with nearly 10 GW of installed capacity, according to the Global Wind Energy Council…The Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association projects India’s potential for wind development is 65 GW to 70 GW.

    "Inox isn’t AMSC’s first wind turbine manufacturing customer in India. In 2008, AMSC Windtec licensed a wind turbine design with the capacity of generating 1.65 MW to Ghodawat Industries, which plans to begin commercial production of these wind turbines by the year’s end…"



    NZ TEST PRVOES JET BIOFUEL SAVES
    Airline: Biofuel could cut emissions by 65 percent
    Ray Lilley, May 29, 2009 (AP via Forbes)

    "A test flight of a commercial airliner partially powered by plant oil showed the biofuel could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 65 percent on long-haul flights, Air New Zealand said…

    "During a two-hour flight in December, one engine of a Boeing747-400 was powered by a 50-50 blend of oil from the plum-sized fruit known as jatropha and traditional jet fuel."


    click to enlarge

    "The test confirmed that up to 1.5 tons (1.35 metric tons) of fuel can be saved on a 12-hour flight - a little more than 1 percent savings - said the national carrier's chief pilot, Dave Morgan. The blend would cut carbon dioxide emissions by about 5 tons (4.5 metric tons) - or at least 60 percent.

    "Morgan called the fuel savings "significant," though the monetary gain depends on the price of oil…Biofuels would become competitive sooner if an emission trading system raised the price of carbon-based fuels…"


    click to enlarge

    "Air New Zealand obtained the jatropha oil for its test flight from Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and India. Seeds from the jatropha - a bush with round, plum-like fruit - are crushed to produce a yellowish oil that is refined and mixed with diesel.

    "Some environmental groups have questioned whether jatropha and other plants used as biofuels are sustainable. They have expressed concerns about the plants' impact if more land and resources are devoted to growing them on a commercial scale…"

    Saturday, May 30, 2009

    Van Jones, Agent 00-Jobs

    Van Jones, one of the many exciting thinker-leaders President Obama brought with him to Washington, has been talking about the enormous potential of the New Energy economy and green collar jobs for a long time. Now he’s overseeing implementation. From ProgressiveBookClub via YouTube

    Our Little World

    Enjoy a summer afternoon with the Hansens. From dumbs1 via YouTube

    Small Acts Big Impacts

    Let’s make earth happy! From FilmsSEEDS via YouTube.

    Friday, May 29, 2009

    REPORT ON UTILITIES AND SUN

    Electric Utilities Rise to Meet Solar Call-to-Action
    Jopsephine Mooney, May 28, 2009 (Solar Electric Power Association)

    SUMMARY
    2008 Top Ten Utility Integration Rankings, from the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA), shows rapidly growing investment by big utilities in solar energy-generated electricity.

    12 utilities in 8 different states made either the annual or cumulative 2008 rankings of top solar users. The top 10 utilities’ installed capacity went from 711 megawatts to 882 megawatts in 2008, a 25% increase. The average utility increased capacity by 2 megawatts, enough electricity for 300 homes. California utilities Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE), with big head starts and lots of sun in their regions, continue to lead the lists. PG&E and SCE added more megawatts in 2008 than the whole country’s megawatts in 2006. And the lists are widening. Public power and investor owned utilities in every region of the country are showing more involvement.

    click to enlarge

    The solar marketplace is determined by 3 major factors: (1) The solar resource, (2) the retail price of electricity, and (3) state policy and market conditions. The first factor is not likely to change much but the retail price of electricity is beginning to go up, especially in urban markets. Utilities in those markets are taking an interest in solar energy as a means of stabilizing price and managing peak demand price spikes. In the Southeast, where electricity generated from coal remains cheap, there is less involvement from utilities.

    State policies are changing a lot and fast. 28 states have instituted Renewable Electricity Standards (RESs) requiring utilities to obtain a specific portion of their power from New Energy sources. Many of the state RESs include a solar carve-out, requiring a specific portion of the New Energy to be solar energy. Florida, North Carolina, Maryland and New York utilities are all responding to such policies with increased solar development.

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    On the whole, growth is enormous. Utilities have announced or have pending some 5,000+ megawatts of concentrating solar power plant (CSPP) projects and another 2,400+ megawatts of solar photovoltaic (PV) projects (up from 300 megawatts of pending and announced projects in last year’s SEPA utility report).

    The CSPP concept appeals to utilities because its fits their existing business model of selling power generated from large, centralized sources. It also holds the promise of storage capacity and 24/7 availability. But CSPPs require a solar saturation not available very many places and distant from many of the biggest, most important load centers.

    Until a national transmission system can deliver the Southwestern Deserts' sun to the rest of the country, rooftop PV systems will remain important in the solar energy world. Added to utilities’ other reasons to get involved with solar, a new model is emerging. Dubbed the distributed solar power plant, it combines the CSPP aggregated source concept with the advantages of PV and distributed generation.

    Projects announced by Duke Energy in North Carolina and Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G) in New Jersey exemplify the distributed solar power plant idea: The utilities acquire rooftop space across a widespread urban region and use their capital to facilitate PV installations. In return, the utilities get the excess power generated from the rooftop systems.

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    The implication is that the CSPP and rooftop PV business models are compatible. Utilities will be investing in both and both will play a role in the solar energy industry and utilities' engagement with it going forward.

    Because the economic downturn has caused a retreat to cautious investing this year, utilities' investment in solar energy has temporarily leveled off. But utilities have their own quite substantial sources of capital, called ratepayers. Spurred by favorable state and federal policies, rising electricity rates and consumer demand for New Energy-generated power, their engagement with solar is expected to rise rapidly from 2010-11 through 2016.

    click to enlarge

    COMMENTARY
    The growing number of state RESs is one of the key drivers of increased utility activity. Many of the state RESs include a solar carve-out, requiring a specific portion of the New Energy to be solar energy.

    2 other drivers are at least as important, though their impact is just beginning to be felt. A national RES and cap&trade (or some other price on emissions) are coming. Even if the Democrats are unable to push through their energy and climate legislation this year, the changes are coming and utilities are beginning to prepare for them.

    Finally, the extension and broadening of the 30% solar investment tax to cover the full price of solar systems and, more importantly to allow utilities to make use of it, has added a big new financial value for utilities that invest in solar.

    click to enlarge

    As utilities enter the solar energy market, there is a shift away from the image of the industry as driven by the individual customer and the residential rooftop system. It portends enormous changes in the industry.

    The emergence of CSPPs is based on their appeal to utilities because:
    (1) The scale of CSPPs is familiar.
    (2) CSPP-generated electricity can be more smoothly integrated into the grid, even without storage capability, because when solar energy is used to boil water it allows for some slowing down and speeding up of generation to compensate for momentary changes in demand and supply.
    (3) Tracking systems in CSPPs, by adjusting to the angle of the early morning, midday and late afternoon sun, allow for generation during more of the day.
    (4) The potential for storage is very real, it is already being used on a limited basis in Spain and a 6-hour storage system is planned for an Arizona plant. Storage of this capacity makes CSPP-generated electricity more than a peak demand supplement and a reasonable alternative to traditional generation.

    The solar industry is entering a growth phase similar to what the wind industry has gone through over the last 5 years. By the middle of the coming decade, solar energy-generated electricity is expected to be price competitive and a major power generation source. And the growth phase has several advantages over wind's 5-year spurt, thanks to the wind industry's pioneering:
    (1) Solar will not have to struggle to make the need for new transmission known and to get policymakers involved.
    (2) The distributed power plant concept allows solar to occupy smaller, urban niches and continue growing without the needed new transmission and new sites.
    (3) The solar resource is strongest at periods of peak demand on hot summer afternoons, making grid integration less challenging than it was for wind (which is often strongest when demand is weakest).

    click to enlarge

    The distributed power plant model has raised some contentions between utilities and solar installers over who will do and own what. The first glimmers of resolution to the conflict have emerged in California where utilities and installers have reportedly agreed to share.

    Transmission and storage remain major “ifs” in large-scale development of New Energy. SEPA and utility representatives are watching Spain very carefully for further reports on the CSPP storage experiment. They are also watching Spain carefully because the Spanish now get 17% of their electricity from wind. That much New Energy challenges the limits of grid integration technology. Last year’s DOE report finding it entirely feasible for the U.S. to get 20% of its power from wind stipulated no need for storage but a high need for adequate grid integration. Utility scale solar will be subject to similar parameters.

    A final and crucial point about the emerging distributed solar power plant concept: It is driving economies of scale and, as a result, the cost of solar panels is falling. It is down 25% at present and solar energy industry experts predict it will be down as much as 50% by 2011. When supply-demand factors catch up, the price of solar energy-generated electricity will also fall.

    click to enlarge

    QUOTES
    - From the SEPA report on utilities and solar in 2008: “What is notable about this year’s rankings is the amount of solar growth at a number of different utilities across the country. A doubling or more of solar megawatts in a utility’s portfolio was not unusual… Solar technologies are emerging as a generation solution for utilities and their customers with a wide variety of creative business partnerships.”
    - From the SEPA report on utilities and solar in 2008: “There were not many changes in the cumulative Top Ten, with only two utilities switching places and no new entrants. In fact, the Top Ten utilities strengthened their “market share” to 94% of the survey total, only a slight decline over last year. Overall, utilities in six different states placed in the Top Ten.”
    - From the SEPA report on utilities and solar in 2008: “The last 12 months have seen both utility-driven and utility-scale project/program announcements emerge as a new and significant solar market, on the order of 7500 MW…There is a likelihood that not all of these announced projects will come to fruition. Only time and the hard determination of the emerging solar economy will tell…. What can be said, however, is this: Utility-scale solar electric projects have entered a new phase of market development in which they will be the primary solar industry megawatts and cash-flow drivers. In addition, utility-driven projects are a new and emerging dynamic in the solar industry whose impact is still being played out. Significant additional market expansion is anticipated.”

    click to enlarge

    - From the SEPA report on utilities and solar in 2008: “Residential and commercial photovoltaic projects will continue to be important market segments, especially in secondary markets with small-business job creation, but the solar industry is diversifying away from rooftop net metered projects as its primary economic means. That is not to say that “solar farms” are taking over, just that the industry is becoming more diverse and expanding into new financial project propositions…”
    - From the SEPA report on utilities and solar in 2008: “…the industry is growing rapidly, moving beyond the iconic vision of a residential solar rooftop future. The growth is still predicated on incentives, as much of the electricity industry is, in one way or another. The passage of the eight-year federal solar investment tax credit, with utility utilization included, will go a long way toward providing market certainty for utility and utility-scale projects, as well as manufacturing investment, job growth, and associated benefits. Certainly the economy, financing markets, transmission, and permitting are significant risks that can impact implementation. But the impressive list of solar projects in the queue provides a significant amount of market activity in the coming years, even utilizing conservative estimates.”

    NEW ENERGY GOLD RUSH IN COLORADO

    Renewable energy brings modern-day gold rush
    Jason Gertzen, May 25, 2009 (Kansas City Star)

    SUMMARY
    The President of the United States says so: New Energy is the wealth of tomorrow. States on the Midwestern Plains and in the Mountain West are scrambling to develop their considerable New Energy assets. And an academic/research nexus linking Golden, Colorado, and Kansas City, Missouri, aspires to be to this rush for riches what San Francisco was to the Gold Rush, what Houston became for the oil world and what Detroit was to the Golden Age of the Internal Combustion Engine.

    Kansas City’s Midwest Research Institute (MRI) is co-manager of the the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden.

    A big chunk of President Obama’s $60 billion federal investment in New Energy will be used for innovation at NREL, a laboratory of discovery in solar, wind, biomass and many other New Energies since 1977. What NREL’s innovation produces will be managed into the marketplace by MRI, a center experienced in the management of vast research initiatives and multi-pieced projects involving many organizations.

    click to enlarge

    On the heels of the New Energy boom, NREL’s Golden complex “is a frenetic hive of expansion.” New structures are going up and new hires are going on as management seeks to bring 150 new high value energy professionals onto the staff of ~1,300.

    Widely recognized as DOE’s prime facility and New Energy’s lab, NREL is driving New Energy efficiency up and cost down. Its yearly budget was ~$213 million from 2002 to 2006 but it went up to ~$380 million in 2007. MRI has run NREL since its founding in 1997. In 2008, DOE shifted NREL’s management to the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, which is equally owned and governed by MRI and Battelle.

    click to enlarge

    Current NREL projects include (1) robots and other systems for the production of a new generation of high-tech solar power materials; (2) a fast-printing thin-film PV materials manufacturing process much like an inkjet printer; (3) record level efficiencies for PV solar cells; (4) new compressed natural gas vehicle technology.

    On a recent visit, Obama-appointed DOE Secretary Steven Chu told NREL management to up its efforts and expect $100 million in stimulus funds to back the increased action with facility and infrastructure improvements.

    click to enlarge

    COMMENTARY
    New Energy is not a Hollywood trend but it’s more exciting than anything coming out of Hollywood these days. Ask the kids on college campuses flocking to New Energy majors. New Energy rocks. Stopping the proliferation of new coal plants is perhaps the most forceful grassroots movement in the world today and youth is flocking to it like they once went for Hip-Hop.

    New Energy is already a potent force and many – like the planners at NREL and MRI – see science and the marketplace about to come together in ways that will generate action that will make the IT revolution seem like a period of meditation.

    click to enlarge

    7 of the 10 biggest U.S. 2008 venture capital deals were in the New Energy sector. Venture capitalists (VCs) put $4.1 billion in 277 2008 New Energy deals, an increase of 52%. From 2007 to 2008, 441 merger-and-acquisition deals valued at $70.3 billion were announced in the New Energy industries.

    The center of this rich, powerful, cutting edge New Energy excitement is not Hollywoodland or Motor City or Nashville or Manhattan. New Energy is an excitement that is spreading across the country from the geeks in the California, Massachusetts and North Carolina high-tech corridors to the heartlands. States rich in wind like Kansas, Missouri, Colorado, Minnesota and Iowa, states rich in biomass like Georgia, Louisiana and Arkansas, and states rich in sun like Arizona and Nevada are now as center-of-the-universe and cool and crucial as Times Square or the corner of Hollywood and Vine.

    Examples of the New energy gold rush in the heartlands:

    (1) In Kansas, Siemens Energy is building a $50 million, 300,000-square-foot facility to make equipment for wind turbines in Hutchinson, Kan., that will create 400 “green collar” jobs. A $3 million bioenergy research partnership was recently formed between the University of Kansas and Archer Daniels Midland Co. State officials are making their case with federal officials for $382 million to fund a series of New Energy projects that would build on existing strengths. MRI, which is already moving Greater Kansas City region medical advances from the lab to the marketplace, is helping to lead a new initiative that will identify and develop the region’s strongest New Energy niches.

    click to enlarge

    (2) In Missouri, voters passed a ballot initiative creating a state Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) that requires the state’s utilities to obtain 2% of their power from New Energy sources by 2011 and 15% by 2021. The state’s political leadership responded to the popular sentiment by establishing 10-year Energy Efficiency (EE) targets for government buildings. Both the RES and the EE targets are expected to drive short- and long-term payoffs in savings, revenues, new training programs and good-paying jobs

    This NREL map shows that Missouri has good biomass potential, especially in the north. (click to enlarge)


    (3) In Colorado: Governor Ritter has put a high priority on developing a New Energy economy for the benefit of the environment and the bottom line. Anchored by the enormous resource of NREL, Ritter has made it his mission to turn Colorado into an international leader in the production and manufacturing of New Energy technologies. He is leading efforts to develop a New Energy corridor around Colorado State University that will get innovation out the lab and into the marketplace. World-leading wind manufacturer Vestas is building billions of dollars in wind manufacturing capacity in the state. Abound Solar, a spinoff company from Colorado State that makes thin-film solar panels, recently opened a production facility that will create 300 jobs.

    click to enlarge

    QUOTES
    - David Christensen, New Energy innovator, NREL: “This is like a land rush with a whole bunch of people running side by side…[The winners will find] huge pots of gold at the end.”
    - U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu: “[New Energy] is one thing we should be investing in to prepare our economy for the future…”
    - Stan Bull, director of energy programs, MRI: “MRI is a significant strength in this area [of bringing innovation to the marketplace]…”
    - Tom Thornton, president, Kansas Bioscience Authority: “[With its wind resources] Kansas has an extraordinary advantage…We are trying to convert that advantage into substantial federal investment.”
    - Gary Stacey, director, Center for Sustainable Energy at the University of Missouri, Columbia: “The energy area in general is going to see tremendous job growth…”
    - Colorado Governor Bill Ritter: “In Colorado we have made [the New Energy Economy] one of the most important things we are doing…”
    - Martha Symko-Davies, top researcher, NREL: “We have so many years of experience here…We try to help [innovators] overcome research and development hurdles.”
    - James Spigarelli, president/CEO, MRI: “It’s all about competitive advantage…What can we do in this region that builds on our strengths?”

    MORE NEWS, 5-29 (DAKOTA WIND BUILDING; PRES LIKES NEXT-GEN BIOFUELS; LONG ISLAND SOLAR INSTALLERS GET BUSY)

    DAKOTA WIND BUILDING
    Wind Project Moves Along
    May 27, 2009 (KXMC-TV Minot)

    "North Dakota wind continues to blow-and an industry relying on that wind continues to grow…The Public Service Commission estimates wind will be able to generate more than 16-hundred megawatts of power in the state by next year…That's more than 300 times the amount of wind power generated just seven years ago.

    "…[For Basin Electric’s Prairie Winds ND1,] the latest wind project proposed in Ward County…the numbers are encouraging - 200 jobs created during construction, 8 permanent jobs, new rental revenue for farmers, and a new, clean power source…"


    T. Boone Pickens calls the Great Plains “the Saudi Arabia of wind…” (click to enlarge)

    "…Basin Electric says the wind farm will include 77 towers with a generating capacity of about 115 megawatts…[It says] federal energy policy is critical to developing projects like Prairie Winds. Those laws allow companies like Basin to quickly depreciate the cost of the equipment - and give them tax breaks for wind-produced energy…

    "…[The power company] says wind power will be an increasing part of Basin's energy production mix - because it allows the company to meet requirements set by Congress…[E]xpect to hear more about projects to harness North Dakota's wind in the future…The 240-million dollar Prairie Winds project is scheduled to begin producing electricity this winter..."



    PRES LIKES NEXT-GEN BIOFUELS
    Obama seeks growth in biofuels beyond ethanol
    Roberta Rampton (w/Gary Hill), May 27, 2009 (Reuters)

    "President Barack Obama… wants to see new types of biofuels commercialized as quickly as possible, but the corn-based ethanol industry needs to remain viable in the meantime…"

    [President Obama’s letter farm-state governors:] "My administration is committed to moving as quickly as possible to commercialize an array of emerging cellulosic technologies so that tomorrow's biofuels will be produced from sustainable biomass feedstocks and waste materials rather than corn… But this transition will be successful only if the first-generation biofuels industry remains viable in the near term…"

    click to enlarge

    "Most biofuel currently used in the United States is ethanol made from corn. The U.S. government wants to boost production of renewable fuels made from non-food crops like switchgrass and plant waste left over from harvesting grain…Biofuels help reduce climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing the need for importing oil while creating jobs, Obama wrote.

    "The ethanol sector has been hit hard by high corn prices, lower oil prices, and overcapacity. New types of biofuels are currently more expensive to produce than corn-based ethanol…[But] regulators and lawmakers are debating how to measure the [cost] of land-use change…[as when] emissions [are] released when corn production displaces other crops, giving farmers the incentive to turn forests into cropland."


    click to enlarge

    "Poor market conditions have threatened the development of new types of biofuels, the Governors' Biofuels Coalition told Obama in a letter earlier this year, asking him to put forth a vision for biofuels and establish a task force on the debate over biofuels' greenhouse gas emissions…Obama established that task force earlier this month.

    "The governors also asked Obama to increase the maximum allowed limit for blending ethanol with gasoline to 13 percent from the current 10 percent level to expand the market…The Environmental Protection Agency is slated to rule…by December 1…"



    LONG ISLAND SOLAR INSTALLERS GET BUSY
    Business picks up for solar energy system installers
    Gary Dymski, May 28, 2009 (Newsday)

    "Through late last year and into January, solar installer Gary Minnick was averaging about one job a month. Then in February, things began to heat up…Another installer, Marc Clejan, co-owner of GreenLogic in Southampton, said business for solar PV has doubled for his company since last year…GreenLogic is projecting 176 installations this year, up from 75 last year."

    click thru to GreenLogic

    "Long Island solar installers like Minnick and Clejan are benefiting from a part of the federal stimulus package that extended many consumer tax incentives for renewable energy projects, including solar PV, solar water heating and geothermal heat.

    "The big winner on Long Island appears to be solar PV, which - in addition to a cap-free 30 percent federal tax credit - also is eligible for a Long Island Power Authority rebate and a 25 percent New York State tax credit. The stimulus package eliminated a $2,000 cap on the federal tax credit for solar PV…Michael Deering, LIPA's vice president of environmental affairs, said applications for the utility's solar PV rebate - $3.50 a watt - have tripled, to 180, from last year…"


    click thru to Go Solar

    "…[One L.I. homeowner] hired GreenLogic to install two systems - a 9,460-watt array of solar PV panels and a solar water-heating setup - at more than $80,000, before rebates and tax credits. After applying all the incentives - including an extra $10,135 because of the federal stimulus package - total cost for the two systems was slightly less than $25,000…the PV system (net cost $21,157) is projected to pay for itself in about eight years and will virtually eliminate [the homeowner’s] electric bill. The water-heating system (net cost $3,812) will reduce [the] natural gas consumption by about 25 percent and pay for itself in about three years."

    Thursday, May 28, 2009

    WIND CAN DO MORE IF POLITICAL LEADERS WILL LET IT

    US wind power: Industry sets sights on large slice of the pie
    Sheila McNulty, May 26, 2009 (UK Financial Times)

    SUMMARY
    Wind energy now provides just under 2% of U.S. power but has been doubling its installed capacity at a startling rate and has barely begun to fulfill its potential. The industry is aiming to provide 20% of U.S. power by 2030.

    Though the U.S. industry in 2008 overtook Germany to become the world’s biggest wind energy producer, it is just beginning to build in the regions where the resource is the richest.

    T. Boone Pickens, energy entrepreneur and crusader for the Pickens Plan, calls the potential of the winds on the Midwestern Plains from Texas to the Canadian border “the Saudi Arabia of wind.” Though installed capacity is growing there, especially in Texas, the bulk of the plains assets remain undeveloped.

    The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) says there are 1,000 gigawatts of potential in the winds off the Atlantic Coast and more than 900 gigawatts of potential in the winds off the Pacific Coast. Several studies of the Great Lakes show similarly enormous potential. Yet no U.S. offshore installation has yet been built.

    click to enlarge

    Besides taking over world leadership, 2008 was notable for the wind industry in that its total of 85,000 U.S. jobs exceeded, for the first time, the number of U.S. jobs provided by the coal industry.

    In another indication of the wind industry’s reach, its annual convention saw attendance jump from 13,000 in 2008 to 23,000 in 2009. 1,000 attended in 2001.

    Wind also added an especially big booster in 2008, the President of the United States. Appearing at wind installations and manufacturing facilities in the Midwest, Mr. Obama did much to raise awareness about just how important an energy provider wind can be.

    The industry is poised at the verge of assuming a role as a major power supplier. The only short-term obstacle is financing. Ample investment was available in return for valuable production tax credits until the economic downturn of 2008 left lending institutions with no need to offset income. Federal money – a big part of the $56 billion stimulus package’s New Energy grants and tax breaks (over 10 years) and an annual $15 billion federal budget investment in New Energy programs – will assume the financing burden once developers understand how to apply for funding and which programs to apply for. Until then, the industry has slipped into a slowdown.

    The industry is expected to boom in the coming 18 months if policymakers don't mess things up. (click to enlarge)

    A 2008 DOE study found it entirely feasible for wind to provide 20% of U.S. power. The Pickens Plan calls for that 20% to be used to generate electricity so that the nation’s natural gas, now 20% of the power on the grid, could be used as fuel for heavy transportation. Pickens’ idea is to move the U.S. away from oil imports and toward domestic natural gas and wind supplies. Because Pickens owns huge supplies of both natural gas and wind, his plan is rather self-serving – but not entirely misguided. Wind can be a big part of both a climate change reversing strategy and a national security strategy.

    The biggest obstacle to wind's growth in the U.S. is national policy. The vast majority of the public and a narrower majority of political leaders support a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) that, like President Obama’s campaign promise, requires regulated utilities to obtain 25% of their power from New Energy sources by 2025. Unfortunately, an influential and recalcitrant minority in the Congress has already forced this year’s energy and climate legislation, both in the House of Representatives and the Senate, to be scaled back from the standard for which President Obama campaigned and could block its passage.

    From americanwindenergy via YouTube

    COMMENTARY
    The wind industry has proven its ability in the offshore environment in Europe, where there are more than 20 ocean installations.

    Offshore projects in coastal New England and Great Lakes waters are moving forward slowly. The potential is so big it is beyond accurate estimate. Regulatory hurdles remain.

    Development on the Midwestern Plains and Mountain West seems unwilling to wait for the economic recovery. Pickens is slowly readying the first phase of his planned 4,000 megawatt Texas Panhandle project and a 5,000 megawatt Clipper WindPower/BP project for the North Dakota-South Dakota border is being planned.

    More indications of the coming expansion: Utilities are cancelling coal plant construction and buying wind. Duke Energy recently announced it was likely to build no more coal plants after the 2 it is now planning and purchased a 70-megawatt wind project in Pennsylvania. Vestas is spending billions on manufacturing facilities in Colorado. Grid operators and transmission regulators are busy making plans to intergrate wind supplies. A Wyoming company is planning a $4-to-$6 billion, 1000-turbine wind project with its own transmission system.

    As soon as the industry's money mavens sort this out, growth will take off. (click to enlarge)

    The wrench in the works: Powerful wind industry players, in a recent letter to Congressional leaders, warned against the scaling back of the RES in the energy and climate legislation, asserting that it could cost the U.S. industry in severely reduced growth, revenues and jobs. (See WIND LEADERS WARN ON WEAK RES)

    According to the wind industry leaders who signed the letter, a standard that runs only 10 years to 2020 (instead of a decade and a half to 2025) may not justify the enormous investment necessary to build and sustain a U.S. wind manufacturing base. The nation, therefore, is “on the verge” of driving manufacturers to Asia and Europe where there are more substantial long-term policies.

    Most of the major European nations have made major commitments to New Energy through 15- and 20-year feed-in tariffs. China has set a 100,000-megawatt wind capacity goal for 2020 and longer term commitments through mid century. These are the kinds of policies that justify billion-dollar investments in manufacturing infrastructure. At stake is an immense amount of domestic revenue and perhaps 100,000 or more domestic jobs.

    In the absence of a long-term policy, the wind industry representatives warned, the U.S. wind industry is looking at a lost decade.

    click to enlarge

    QUOTES
    - U.S. Vice President Joe Biden: “By harnessing offshore wind power and other resources, we will be able to power tens of millions of homes using clean, renewable power.’’
    - T. Boone Pickens, energy entrepreneur and designer of the Pickens Plan: “Last month alone, we sent $18bn overseas, importing 386m barrels of oil. If we had a real and sensible energy policy, we could keep that money here in the US, enabling us to hire more than 1m teachers, or to create the broadband infrastructure needed to connect every household and business in the country, or to even restore the National Mall…We must harness our domestic resources to keep the money we spend on energy overseas right here instead, creating jobs and building important projects for America.”

    click to enlarge

    - Denise Bode, CEO, American Wind Energy Association: “The nation still lacks the long-term signal that is needed to build up renewable energy on large scale. The time is now for a national renewable electricity standard, a policy that more than 80 per cent of Americans favour and for which they voted…President Obama’s campaign position of generating 25 per cent of our electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025 will help revitalise our economy and protect consumers when they need it the most: when the price of the fuels used for electricity generation goes up.”

    MAKING SOLAR AFFORDABLE

    Sun for rent; State hopes affordable leases will make panels an electricity option for more homeowners
    Beth Daley, May 24, 2009 (Boston Globe)

    SUMMARY
    Who WOULDN’T put a solar system on their roof if it didn’t cost so much up front and they didn’t have to worry about taking care or it or wading through the bureaucratic red tape to get at the federal, state and local subsidies?

    SunRun Inc. has brought just that deal to Massachusetts after it and other companies have worked out many of the kinks in California and Arizona.

    Previously available to commercial buildings, SunRun now offers homeowners a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), which is essentially a lease arrangement. Working with Massachusetts companies Alteris Renewables and groSolar, SunRun sees to the assessment, installation, paperwork and maintenance for the rooftop solar system. The homeowner pays a $1,000 fee upfront – instead of financing the usual after-subsidies $25,000+ upfront system cost – and signs a long-term agreement to buy the electricity generated by the system.

    The long-term lease is similar to a cell phone or satellite TV contract. SunRun, and the other companies that are doing the same kind of project development in other states, have the financial expertise to take advantage of federal, state and local subsidies. They turn what would be an unaffordable burden to a single homeowner into a small asset in a larger investment program that includes cash-flow management and tax sheltering services.

    Homeowners have heretofore been left out of financial institutions’ New Energy development planning because the returns associated with small projects were not worth the processing costs. New subsidies and the rising price of electricity – with higher prices anticipated as laws putting a price on greenhouse gas emissions (GhGs) are passed – make it possible for private companies like SunRun to offer leases.

    click to enlarge

    The basics: SunRun (or another company) assesses and approves a home’s solar potential. The homeowner pays the one-time, upfront ~$1,000 fee and signs an agreement to purchase the system’s power for 18 years at a locked-in rate guaranteed to be at or less than utilities’ rates. (As with any rooftop solar installation, the homeowner buys power required beyond the panels’ output from the utilities at their rates.)

    Typical numbers for Massachusetts, from Alteris Renewables: ~62% of a home’s electricity will come from the solar system at a cost of ~ $77 per month. The balance of the home’s electricity will come from a utility at ~$46 per month. Total: ~$133. Without the solar system, the same amount of power from a utility would cost ~$151.

    SunRun takes the $77 per month, handles all the details of financing and employs a company like Alteris Renewables or groSolar to install and maintain the system. Much of what a company like SunRun does is legitimate financial management and much is dependent on the fact that, as the titular owner of the system, all subsidies – in cluding tax credits and grants – belong to it. Without those subsidies, companies like SunRun would not be profitable because solar energy-generated electricity remains more expensive than electricity from fossil fuel sources and will continue to be so until there is a cost applied to GhG enmissions.

    click to enlarge

    Caveat emptor (buyer beware) 1: Neither SunRun nor any other company is going to put an installation where there is no sun. Trees or other buildings may get in the way. South-facing roofs are best. All costs depend on the availability of sun.

    Caveat emptor 2: The deal is made on the assumption that power prices will go up. It is unlikely anything else would be the case but nobody can predict the future with certainty.

    Caveat emptor 3: It is likely the cost of rooftop solar systems will come down and it is entirely possible neighbors will, in 5 years, have better lease deals – but they will have lost 5 years of lower power prices and be 5 years further from paying off their systems.

    Caveat emptor 4: Homeowners who move can transfer their lease to the new owner, buy out the contract, or purchase the panels. But a deal must be struck.

    Massachusetts state energy officials told the Boston Globe the $1,000 investment is a responsible financial decision even during the current recession.

    Example: Eric Friedman of Newton, Mass., is renovating his home. Even with all the rebates and incentives available to him, he would have to finance $11,500 in upfront costs to install a rooftop solar system. Instead, he is paying SunRun $1,000 and expects to earn it back through lower electricity bills within 4 years.

    From SunRunHomeSolar via YouTube.

    COMMENTARY
    Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has set a state goal of 250 megawatts of solar power by 2017. Massachusetts now has only 9.7 megawatts of installed capacity. While other states in the Southwestern deserts might be able to meet the goal with a single sprawling solar power plant, Massachusetts will need to get it from rooftops.

    State subsidies, operated under the umbrella of the Commonwealth Solar program, are what make Massachusetts attractive to companies like SunRun. The program will provide $68 million in rebates over the coming 4 years and covers an average of 40% of a rooftop system’s cost. The newly enacted federal investment tax credit returns 30% of the system’s full cost. With a 70% discount, the price of solar beats the price of other generation sources in Massachusetts.

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    The Massachusetts subsidy fund, however, may soon be used up. Designed to kick-start the solar energy business in the state, Commonwealth Solar has awarded 716 rebates totaling $25.5+ million to 587 homes, 113 commercial/industrial buildings and 16 public entities. State leaders believe that by the time the entire fund flows to Massachusetts-based solar businesses, the industry will have increased enough in volume to bring retail costs down.

    Massachusetts will continue to use other measures as incentives to expand its solar capacity toward Governor Patrick’s 250-megawatt goal. It is looking at feed-in tariff schemes to reward system owners more effectively for the excess power they send to the grid. It is studying ways to encourage utilities to install and own rooftop solar systems. It is putting more pressure on utilities to create long-term purchase agreements for New Energy. And it is examining the right solar carve-out to add to its Renewable Electricity Standard (RES). The RES requires regulated Massachusetts utilities to obtain 15% of their power from New Energy sources by 2020. A solar carve-out would require the utilities to obtain a specific portion of that 15% from solar energy.

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    QUOTES
    - Eric Friedman, Newton homeowner, installing solar through SunRun: "It's great from a green perspective but also from a straight economic argument…"
    - Lynn Jurich, cofounder/president, SunRun: "We did a lot of market research, and not surprisingly we learned the upfront cost [for solar panels] is too high for people…"
    - Ian Bowles, Mass. secretary of energy and environmental affairs: "The goal is to get enough competition to bring down that cost…"
    - Michael Durand, spokesman , Massachusetts utility Nstar: "Having a variety of options will be helpful in meeting [the 250 megawatt] goal…"
    - Adam Browning executive director, Vote Solar: "Solar has a guaranteed return…You tell me where else you can get this rate of return in this economic environment."

    MORE NEWS, 5-28 (100 DAYS, 100 PROJECTS; FEDS SPEND TO MAKE GRID SMARTER; AIR CAR BY 2011)

    100 DAYS, 100 PROJECTS
    Obama airs '100 Days, 100 Projects' report
    May 27, 2009 (UPI)

    "More than $467 million in economic stimulus funds will go toward two U.S. geothermal and solar technology projects, a White House report indicated…

    "…[At Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada] President Barack Obama marked the 100th day since passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act by recapping progress the U.S. economy has made since passage and outlining what needs to be done to assure a solid economic footing going forward…"


    The President inspects the U.S.' biggest solar PV array. (click to enlarge)

    "The 100 Days, 100 Projects report...compiled by the Recovery Act oversight committee headed by Vice President Joe Biden …[describes] investment to expand and accelerate development and use of geothermal and solar energy…[as part of] infrastructure and construction projects receiving ARRA funds.

    "Nellis Air Force Base houses the largest solar photovoltaic array in the United States, and 25 percent of the energy used by the 12,000 people living and working on the base is generated by the 72,000 solar panel installation…"


    The President at Nellis Air Force Base outside Las Vegas looking a little like the last lonely but still cool member of the Rat Pack. (click to enlarge)

    "The funding for the energy projects…will help solar and geothermal industries overcome technical barriers, demonstrate new technologies, and provide support for clean energy jobs for years to come, the White House and the Department of Energy said."

    [President Barack Obama:] "We have a choice. We can remain the world's leading importer of oil, or we can become the world's leading exporter of clean energy…"


    FEDS SPEND TO MAKE GRID SMARTER
    Locke, Chu Announce Significant Steps in Smart Grid Development
    May 18, 2009 (U.S. Department of Energy)

    "U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu…announced significant progress that will help expedite development of a nationwide "smart" electric power grid…[that] would replace the current, outdated system and employ real-time, two-way communication technologies to allow users to connect directly with power suppliers. The development of the grid will create jobs… spur the development of innovative products that can be exported…save consumers money and reduce America's dependence on foreign oil by improving efficiency and spurring the use of renewable energy sources.

    "Before it can be constructed, however, there needs to be agreement on standards for the devices that will connect the grid…Locke and Chu announced the first set of standards that are needed for the interoperability and security of the Smart Grid and $10 million in Recovery Act funds provided by the Energy Department to the National Institute of Standards and Technology to support the development of interoperability standards."


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    "Secretary Chu also announced that based on feedback from the public and Smart Grid stakeholders, the Department of Energy is increasing the maximum award available under the Recovery Act for Smart Grid programs…[T]he Smart Grid Investment Grant Program will be increased from $20 million to $200 million and…Smart Grid Demonstration Projects from $40 million to $100 million…DOE will ensure that funding is provided to a diversity of applications, including small projects as well as end-to-end larger projects…

    "The initial batch of 16 National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)-recognized interoperability standards… will help ensure that software and hardware components from different vendors will work together seamlessly, while securing the grid against disruptions."


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    "Spanning areas ranging from smart customer meters to distributed power generation components to cybersecurity, the list of standards is based on the consensus expressed by participants in the first public Smart Grid Interoperability Standards Interim Roadmap workshop…$10 million [the Energy Department] received to support the development of interoperability standards under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has been provided to NIST to help accelerate their efforts to coordinate these critical standards…

    "The Energy Department is the lead federal agency responsible for Smart Grid development. Creating national standards is a critical part of that process. Coordinating these standards and achieving industry buy-in is the responsibility of the Commerce Department…"



    AIR CAR BY 2011
    Company looks to bring air-powered cars to US
    Dan Strumpf, May 25, 2009 (AP)

    "Most car companies are racing to bring electric vehicles to the market. But…Zero Pollution Motors is trying to bring a car to U.S. roads by early 2011 that's powered by a combination of compressed air and a small conventional engine…[T]he ultimate goal is a price tag between $18,000 and $20,000, fuel economy equivalent to 100 miles per gallon and a tailpipe that emits nothing but air at low enough speeds.

    "Elsewhere in the world, the technology is already gaining speed. The French startup Motor Development International, which licensed the technology to ZPM, unveiled a new air-powered car at the Geneva Auto Show in March. Airlines KLM and Air France are starting to test the bubble-shaped AirPod this month for use as transportation around airports."


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    "Engineering experts, however, are skeptical of the technology, saying it is clouded by the caveat that compressing air is notoriously energy intensive…[T]he "air cars" plug into a wall outlet, allowing an on-board compressor to pressurize the car's air tank to 4,500 pounds per square inch. It takes about four hours to get the tank to full pressure, then the air is then released gradually to power the car's pistons.

    "At speeds less than 35 mph, the car relies entirely on the air tank and emits only cold air. At faster speeds, a small conventionally fueled engine kicks in to run a heater that warms the air and speeds its release. The engine also refills the air tank, extending the range and speed…[The air car] is expected] to go about 20 miles on compressed air alone, and hundreds more after the engine kicks in, with a top speed of 96 mph…"


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    "James Van de Ven, a mechanical engineering assistant professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute who has studied compressed-air technology, said air compressors allow you to recover only 25 to 30 percent of the energy used to compress the air. The rest is lost through heat, air leakage and other forms of waste…While that's still slightly better a gasoline engine, it pales compared with the efficiencies of other alternative-fuel powertrains, like those in hybrid-electric cars, which have an efficiency closer to 80 percent…

    "With four hours of charging, the air car's 5.5-kilowatt compressor would eat up 22 kilowatt-hours of electricity. That means the same energy used to turn on 10 100-watt light bulbs for 22 hours would allow the car to travel 20 miles…General Motors Corp. has said its Chevrolet Volt will use about 8 kilowatt-hours of energy to fully charge, and it will be able to travel 40 miles on battery power alone…"

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