NewEnergyNews: 07/01/2009 - 08/01/2009

NewEnergyNews

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

Hey, hey, Ms. Abby!!! Go get 'em!!!

The challenge: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • THE STUDY: THE IMPACT ON REAL PEOPLE OF RISING POWER PRICES
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 22: SCHOOLS SAVE W/GEOTHERMAL HEAT PUMP SYSTEMS; BUILDING FOR NEXT-GEN U.S. BIOFUELS; ENERGY STORAGE MARKET EMERGING
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: WHERE U.S. OFFSHORE WIND WILL CONNECT
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 21: SOLARCITY TO CROWDFUND WITH $1,000 BONDS; NEW JERSEY LOOKS AT OCEAN WIND; SMART LED LIGHTING MRKT TO DOUBLE
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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: NEW OPPORTUNITIES IN TRANSMISSION
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 20: ELEVEN GOOD THINGS ABOUT SOLAR ENERGY; YAHOO BUYS WIND; SMART THERMOSTATS’ BILLION DOLLAR FUTURE
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • Weekend Video: The Ocean Speaks Out
  • Weekend Video: Adapting To The Inevitable
  • Weekend Video: The Joy Of Driving EVs Powered By The Sun
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-HOTTEST SEPTEMBER EVER; WORLD’S HOTTEST MONTHS STREAK AT SIX
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-EU WIND BEATS FOSSIL, NUKE ENERGY PRICES
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-DESERTEC SUCCUMBS TO MIDEAST TURMOIL
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-JAPAN UPS PUSH FOR GEOTHERMAL
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, Oct. 16:

  • TTTA Thursday-THE MILITARY FALLS FOR THE HOAX
  • TTTA Thursday-FORTUNE 100 BUSINESSES BOOST SUN
  • TTTA Thursday-IOWA UTILITY BUYS WIND TO CUT COSTS
  • TTTA Thursday-GETTING ENERGY EFFICIENCY FROM THE CLOUD
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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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  • Friday, July 31, 2009

    CLIMATE CROCK CHALLENGED

    Climate Crock Anthony Watts Scrubs YouTube Video
    Kevin Grandia, July 27, 2009 (DeSmogBlog)

    “…A video called "Climate Crock of the Week" about head-in-the-sand global warming denier Anthony Watts was posted last week on YouTube by Peter Sinclair who has been running the "Climate Crock" series for quite sometime now.

    “The video was making the blogosphere rounds, getting a lot of comments on YouTube and on… DeSmogBlog as well as Huffington. And then "poof" this happened:

    “The video was removed after Watts complained under YouTube's Copyright Infringement guidelines. This has become known as a DMCA Takedown - with the DMCA being the US copyright law used to criminalize anyone infringing and/or circumventing copyrighted works.”


    All of Peter Sinclair's "Climate Crocks" have appeared as NewEnergyNews Saturday videos. This is the one that got Peter singled out for being a truth-teller. Check back Saturday for a short retrospective. (Video from greenman3610 and k21desmog via YouTube.

    “Before I posted Sinclair's youtube video, as I normally do with any YouTube video I post, I vetted it from a DMCA point of view and, quite frankly I don't know what part of the video Watts would have a problem with. There's nothing I saw in the video that appears to break any copyright as it relates to Watts…

    “Now maybe he took issue with the short (credited) clip at the beginning from Will Ferrell's Anchorman movie.... but I think this is more about a video that thoroughly shreds Watts and his argument that the world is wrong about climate change and he is right…”


    [For more, see Climate Crock of the Week: What’s Up with Anthony Watts [take 2], Kevin Grandia, July 29, 2009 (Huffington Post) ]

    RFK JR BACKS NATURAL GAS

    How to end America’s deadly coal addiction
    Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
    July 19, 2009 (UK Financial Times)

    "Converting rapidly from coal-generated energy to gas is President Barack Obama’s most obvious first step towards saving our planet and jump-starting our economy. A revolution in natural gas production over the past two years has left America awash with natural gas and has made it possible to eliminate most of our dependence on deadly, destructive coal practically overnight – and without the expense of building new power plants.

    "Whatever the slick campaign financed by the powerful coal barons might claim, coal is neither cheap nor clean. Ozone and particulates… from coal plants kill tens of thousands…each year and cause widespread illnesses…Acid rain has destroyed millions of acres of valuable forests…Neurotoxic mercury… poisons over a million American women and children annually. Coal industry strip mines have already destroyed 500 mountains in Appalachia, buried 2,000 miles of rivers and streams and will soon have flattened an area the size of Delaware…[and coal] is the most important source of America’s greenhouse gases."


    From the NY Times. (click to enlarge)

    "America’s cornucopia of renewables and the recent maturation of solar, geothermal and wind technologies will allow us to meet most of our energy needs with clean, cheap, green power. In the short term, natural gas is an obvious bridge fuel to the “new” energy economy…America has more gas generation capacity – 450 gigawatts – than it does for coal…

    "…[P]ublic regulators generally require utilities to dispatch coal-generated power in preference to gas…By changing the dispatch rule nationally to require that…gas generation must be utilised first, we could quickly reduce coal generation and achieve massive emissions reductions…eliminate three-quarters of America’s coal-burning generators and save a fortune in energy costs…[A]ntiquated and horrendously inefficient...ancient [coal] plants burn 20 per cent more coal per megawatt hour than modern large coal units and are 60 to 75 per cent less fuel-efficient than combined cycle gas plants. They account for only 21 per cent of America’s electric power but almost half the sector’s emissions…"


    click to enlarge

    "…[T]hrottling back these plants would mean huge savings to the public and eliminate the need for more than 350m tons of coal…Their closure would reduce US mercury emissions…dramatically cut…acid rain, and slash America’s CO2…To quickly gain further economic and environmental advantages, the larger, newer coal plants…should be required to co-fire with natural gas…

    "Natural gas comes with its own set of environmental caveats. It is a carbon-based fuel and its extraction from shale, the most significant new source, if not managed carefully, can have serious water, land use and wildlife impacts, especially in the hands of irresponsible producers and lax regulators. But those impacts can be mitigated by careful regulation and are dwarfed by the disaster of coal."

    NEW JOBS IN WIND

    4 Emerging Green Collar Jobs in Wind Energy
    Ezra Drissman, July 30, 2009 (Daily Green)

    "As wind technology advances so follows wind power jobs. Wind jobs are green careers…Wind and solar power jobs are uniquely connected with the new smart grid that is being constructed….to push wind electricity around the country…[Meanwhile, these] wind energy jobs are opening up all across the United States…

    "…Wind Turbine Machinist… just like a production machinist for any other industry…[but specializing] in the production of metal and plastic parts for wind turbines… reviews blueprints (written or electronic)…[selects] tools and equipment needed to shape the piece, and calculate where to cut or drill the material they are working with (steel, aluminum, titanium, plastic, etc.)…[uses] knowledge of metal properties and skill with machine tools to produce the part to extremely precise specifications."


    click to enlarge

    "…Wind Power Turbine Installer… must be well acquainted with the physics and science of wind turbines… a background in applied science is a must… A wind power turbine installer has to know the different wind speeds and how a wind turbine works, because outfitting a home with a wind turbine relies on this technical knowledge.

    "…Wind Analyst…is a meteorological professional who uses advanced scientific models and equipment to predict and measure wind flow…[studies] the effect of wind flow at current turbine sites…[helps] plan and develop new wind farm sites…[studies] meteorological data and estimate wind output to support consulting services in wind energy development."


    click to enlarge

    "…Wind Energy Technician… maintain turbines on wind farms…[needs] a fairly strong background and understanding of mechanical and electrical principles…[also needs] to be in fairly good shape. Taking care of really tall turbines involves climbing a lot of stairs.

    "Wind farms will only grow in number…[S]tart now. The opportunity for growth is immense…"

    HOT GREEN JOBS

    5 Hot Green Jobs Available Today; A rising green economy offers exciting new employment opportunities.
    Ezra Drissman, June 10, 2009 (Daily Green)

    "…[G]reen careers have emerged as a shining light in a generally bad economy. While other corporations are struggling, green companies are looking forward to a better year… Ford Motor Company, which had been ridiculed in recent memory by opponents for its stated commitment to hybrid vehicles and developing greener technologies…has survived the downturn better than GM and Chrysler.

    "Green is not only emerging, it will be sustained for a long time. These next few years will give people an opportunity to join in on the ground floor of a booming industry. It's an industry that will stretch across all economic lines…[T]he top five industries that are likely to be major players…"


    click to enlarge

    "…Landfill Gas…Turning gas into energy is big right now and this can be a great fit for someone who only has a GED or high school diploma…Solar Power…is heating up, and offers many opportunities in panel installation and sales. More colleges, technical schools and extension services are offering programs in the sector. The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners, NABCEP, offers [installation] certification programs that will train you in solar installation…[For sales, contact] the solar panel makers…[A prime field] for the entrepreneur.

    "…Wind Power…now employs more Americans than the coal industry…[A] machinist or engineer…[can become] a wind turbine machinist or wind turbine installer…Green Engineering…[will] design a cleaner, greener society, from waste treatment and recycling facilities to transportation systems. Soon America will also be transitioning to a smart grid, requiring much work for engineers. (Unemployed car engineers in particular should stay alert for these fields)…[G]et an engineering background in college."


    click to enlarge

    "…Green Building…[F]ederal and local governments continue to require more certification and higher energy efficiency on all buildings. Green building, with The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, will likely become a standard in construction.

    "There will be many careers available within these industries…[G]et the training and schooling that will be needed…"

    NUCLEAR CANCELLED

    USEC Denied Loan Guarantees; CEO Assails Obama After Energy Dept. Says Project Is Unready
    Steven Mufson, July 29, 2009 (Washington Post)

    "…USEC… accused President Obama of reneging on a campaign pledge after the Energy Department turned down the company's request for $2 billion in loan guarantees for a new uranium enrichment project in Piketon, Ohio.

    "USEC, which operates the nation's only uranium enrichment facility, said it would "demobilize" the new project, which it said could not obtain private financing without the federal loan guarantee. The company has already spent $1.5 billion on what it calls the American Centrifuge Plant, but USEC says the final price tag could reach $3.5 billion, 1 1/2 times as much as it estimated two years ago…The company's stock yesterday plunged $2.14, or 35 percent…erasing $240 million of market value."


    From Amory Lovins. (click to enlarge)

    "The Energy Department said that the proposed plant…was not ready for commercial production and therefore ineligible for the loan guarantees. The department said that if USEC withdraws its application, it will receive $45 million over the next 18 months to conduct further research…In a nod to the state, however, the Energy Department said it would expand cleanup efforts at the now-closed Portsmouth enrichment site in Piketon… spend $118 million of stimulus funds and an additional $150 million to $200 million a year on decontamination over the next four years…[and] create over 1,000 jobs, more than twice as many as would be lost at USEC's centrifuge project…

    "While campaigning in southern Ohio last August, Obama praised the USEC project…White House spokesman Benjamin LaBolt said…the USEC technology "is not commercially viable today, according to an independent engineering review, and therefore not eligible for DOE's loan guarantee program at this time." He said the administration thinks the technology "holds promise." …USEC said that the technology was developed by the Energy Department during the 1970s and 1980s and…it has improved the technology and tested it over "235,000 machine hours." … Matt Rogers, who oversees grants and loan guarantees at the Energy Department, said that USEC finalized designs only three months ago and that the company had tested only 38 centrifuges while 11,000 would be needed to run the plant…"


    From Amory Lovins. (click to enlarge)

    "A loan guarantee would carry a risk of default, other government sources said. USEC, a federal agency privatized in 1998, in May had a B-minus rating from Standard & Poor's and a B3 rating from Moody's…USEC is also facing pressure because half the enriched uranium it sells comes from decommissioned Russian nuclear warheads…The program will end in 2013.

    "The 2005 Energy Policy Act gave the Energy Department $2 billion for loan guarantees for uranium enrichment projects. The only other applicant is Areva, a firm partly owned by the French government…General Electric is also researching uranium enrichment…"

    Thursday, July 30, 2009

    FORTUNE AND NEW ENERGY

    The Economic Benefits of Investing in Clean Energy; How the Economic Stimulus Program and New Legislation Can Boost U.S. Economic Growth and Employment
    Robert Pollin, James Heintz and Heidi Garrett-Peltier, June 18, 2009 (Center for American Progress)

    SUMMARY
    The Economic Benefits of Investing in Clean Energy describes the opportunities the U.S. can take advantage of and the rewards the country can reap as it makes the urgently necessary transition to a New Energy economy.

    3 interrelated goals define the transition to the New Energy economy mapped out in the legislation: (1) The maximum increase of efficient energy use, (2) reducing the costs of the New Energies as much as it is possible, and (3) establishing a limit on the use of, ultimately by putting a disincentivizing price on, fossil fuels to eliminate as much as possible the burning of oil, coal, and natural gas.

    Achieving these goals will cut greenhouse gas emissions (GhGs), fulfilling the U.S. responsibility in the fight against global climate change. It will also benefit the economy, through employment opportunities, growth and higher incomes.

    It will be necessary to CLICK TO ENLARGE the not easily readable but quite valuable CAP charts and tables.

    To describe the potential of the New Energy economy concretely, the paper - from the Center for American Progress and the Department of Economics and Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massahusetts, Amherst - evaluates the likely impacts of provisions in 2 Obama administration New Energy initiatives, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), passed by Congress in February, and the proposed American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACESA), written by Representative Henry Waxman (D-Calif), Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Representative Edward Markey (D-Mass), Chair of the House Energy Subcommittee, passed by the House of Representatives in June and now being considered by the Senate.

    It will be necessary to CLICK TO ENLARGE the not easily readable but quite valuable CAP charts and tables.

    Between provisions in the ARRA and the ACESA, the New Energy economy is likely to generate ~$150 billion yearly in New Energy investments over the coming decade. Most of it will come from the private sector. It will likely generate ~1.7 million new jobs, an expansion that is likely to be sustained by continuing investment in New Energy and expanded as investment increases.

    The NET job gains, after taking into consideration losses in jobs associated with the transition from Old Energy to New Energy, would in and of themselves reduce national unemployment roles by 1 full percent.

    It will be necessary to CLICK TO ENLARGE the not easily readable but quite valuable CAP charts and tables.

    Regarding potential economic harm in the ACESA’s capping of GhGs, the CAP economic models without exception forecast, at worst, a small negative impact on U.S. economic growth over the long-term. And the economic models do not factor in the growth stimulus likely to follow the implementation of the ACESA’s cap&trade system, such as more New Energy jobs, a reduced international trade deficit, technological advances that will make New Energy and utility rates cheaper and the improved health and reduced health care costs that follow cleaner air and water.

    There is one other benefit, perhaps the biggest benefit, that the spending from ARRA and ACESA will provide: The avoidance of the costs of adapting to global climate change.

    It will be necessary to CLICK TO ENLARGE the not easily readable but quite valuable CAP charts and tables.

    COMMENTARY
    Wisely acknowledging the problematic nature of economic forecasting, the CAP study details its cautious and rigorous economic-modeling methodology.

    The forecast’s key estimate is that a ~$150 billion per year investment in a New Energy economy would create ~2.5 million new jobs but cost (worst case scenario) ~800,000 Old Energy jobs. In other words, investment in New Energy is expected to create about 3 times the jobs that the same investment in Old Energy would create.

    It will be necessary to CLICK TO ENLARGE the not easily readable but quite valuable CAP charts and tables.

    Some of the significant investment provided by ARRA includes (1) $24.4 billion in federal spending on Energy Efficiency, (2) $23 billion in federal investment in fuel efficient transportation, and (3) $25.3 billion in federal investments in the New Energies. The money in ARRA is expected to be flowing to the New Energy and Energy Efficiency industries by 2010 but will also continue generating economic activity through the 2011-to-2014 period and beyond.

    It will be necessary to CLICK TO ENLARGE the not easily readable but quite valuable CAP charts and tables.

    3 categories of ACESA initiatives are expected to be enacted by any version of the bill that survives the legislative process: (1) Policies to boost the use of New Energy such as a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) requiring regulated utilities to obtain a designated portion of their power from New Energy sources by a specific year, (2) a solid cap on all U.S. GhG generation through mid-century and a means, such as a trading system or a tax, that holds emissions spewers to their caps, and (3) federal spending and funding mechanisms, such as investment tac credits, production tax credits, loan guarantees and grants, that support businesses, communities and individuals in getting to a New Energy economy.

    ARRA, written as an economic stimulus program, directs government spending and financial incentives to promote private investment. It is relatively easy to forecast the impacts of such spending. ACESA will generate New Energy and Energy Efficiency expansion through policies and regulations, most importantly by requiring New Energy and by pricing the emissions from Old Energy. The greater difficulty in predicting the impact of such policies and regulations is incorporated into CAP’s methodologies and assumptions.

    It will be necessary to CLICK TO ENLARGE the not easily readable but quite valuable CAP charts and tables.

    QUOTES
    - From the conclusion to the CAP analysis: “The United States needs to promote an aggressive policy agenda now to defeat global warming. This fact is now widely if not universally recognized. The overarching challenge before us is therefore to determine a policy path that is effective in building a clean-energy economy as rapidly as possible and in promoting widespread employment opportunities and broadly shared well-being. The current severe recession has only intensified the need to pursue such a unified program that can both promote job creation and build a clean energy economy.”

    It will be necessary to CLICK TO ENLARGE the not easily readable but quite valuable CAP charts and tables.

    - From the conclusion to the CAP analysis: “The specific features of ARRA and ACESA complement each other. In this paper we have demonstrated how the two measures work in combination to advance clean-energy investments and the transition to a clean-energy economy. Specifically, we examined the effect these two measures are likely to have on job creation and economic growth. We conclude that these two measures operating effectively as a complementary set of policy initiatives, in conjunction with related initiatives both at the state and local government level and especially by private investors, could produce over the next decade about $150 billion a year in clean-energy investments that also expand job opportunities. The net expansion in employment through this combination of initiatives could be about 1.7 million jobs.”

    It will be necessary to CLICK TO ENLARGE the not easily readable but quite valuable CAP charts and tables.

    - From the conclusion to the CAP analysis: “This expansion of job opportunities would occur strictly as a result of the shift in spending of a given $150 billion in favor of clean energy and away from fossil fuels. It will not be necessary for U.S. GDP to grow more quickly in order for these positive job effects to emerge through a clean-energy investment agenda. Our overall conclusions are therefore that the clean-energy components of ARRA and ACESA will have significant economic benefits aside from the contributions they will make to reducing carbon emissions and combating global warming. The most important and most clearly established economic benefit is that clean-energy investments will be a substantial source of new employment opportunities throughout the United States.”

    SOLAR SURVIVORS

    Who will survive the solar energy shakeout? The recession is squeezing solar energy firms. These four could thrive.
    Margaret Price, July 29, 2009 (Christian Science Monitor)

    SUMMARY
    Riding the crest of a wave of technological advances, a boom in silicon processing and ever more aggressive incentives, the solar energy industry grew at ~50% per year for most of the first decade of this century.

    Then came the over extension of a feed-in tariff in Spain. Then came the worldwide economic downturn and a contraction of capital to finance projects and government revenues to support incentives. Then came a re-supply of silicon.

    ~250 companies in the world make photovoltaic modules. Most solar energy industry analysts expect a sharp consolidation. One astute expert predicts there will be no more than “a couple of dozen” in 5 years.

    From USA Today. (click to enelarge)

    Because solar panels are expensive and are purchased on the assumption they will provide 20-to-25 years or more of service, one of the key factors in a solar energy company’s staying power is its customers’ faith that it will be around to honor its warranties. (See SOLAR CONSOLIDATION for more on this factor.)

    (click to enelarge)

    One reporter found a consensus of experts predicting First Solar Inc., SunPower Corp., Sharp Corp. and SunTech Power Holdings – because of the size of their operations, the strength of their financial backing, their market performance to date and/or their already-demonstrated staying power – will be among the winners in the consolidation.

    First Solar Inc has been in business 10 years, has been one of the 50 fastest growing businesses – not solar businesses, businesses of any kind – in the U.S. for the last 3 years and is the world’s biggest thin film solar panel manufacturer. Facilitated by First Solar’s production efficiency, its cadmium telluride (CdTe) formulation is emerging as the dominant thin film technology. Estimates suggest it is taking about half of the U.S. utility solar market right now.

    click thru to First Solar

    SunPower Corp is the biggest solar provider in North America and has been in business since 1985. It specializes in the more time-tested, silicon-based types of solar panels. A recent drop in the cost of refined silicon is putting SunPower’s more efficient panels back in competition with the cheaper thin film panels from First Solar.

    click thru to SunPower

    Suntech Power Holdings, founded in 2001, is the newest of the big players. It is the biggest manufacturer of silicon photovoltaic (PV) panels in the world. Its $1.9 billion in capital is just the beginning of its financial strength. It is essentially as strong as China’s banking system. In 2008, to move on the U.S. market, Suntech formed Gemini Solar Development Company LLC, a joint venture with solar developer Renewable Ventures. Gemini was bought by Spanish power producer Fotowatio. The group recently moved into Texas, signing onto a 30-megawatt project for Austin Energy, probably the most progressive and respected U.S. municipal utility. Anticipating the boom in utility demand for solar panels, Gemini is also planning a U.S. manufacturing facility.

    click thru to SunTech Power Holdings

    Sharp Corp is the éminence grise of the solar industry. Founded in 1912 as a metalworking business, it has a history of making electronic products matched by few companies in the world. It began researching solar cells in 1961 and mass-producing them in 1963. It was a world-leading solar company until Japan dialed back its subsidies in the wake of its economic struggles. With a new push by the Japanese government to expand its domestic solar capacity, Sharp is expected to soon once again be one of the world’s top solar producers. In the process, it is transitioning from the rooftop silicon-based solar panels it first designed into home rooftop systems in 1995 to the thin film concept it first began studying in 1974.

    click thru to Sharp

    COMMENTARY
    Unlike the wind industry, which long ago settled on the 3-blade turbine as its preferred technology and now focuses almost exclusively on making the 3-blade turbine bigger and better, the solar energy industry continues to nurture competing technologies for varying purposes.

    There are solar hot water systems that directly heat water pipes and solar power plants that use mirrors to concentrate the heat of the sun. But the largest segment of the solar energy industry, and reportedly the fastest growing segment, is the solar photovoltaic (PV) industry. Unlike hot water and power plant systems that capture and use the sun’s heat to make energy, PV technology turns the sun’s light into electricity.

    From Emerging Energy Research. (click to enelarge)

    Even within the PV sector there are competing technologies. First Solar’s cadmium telluride thin film is only one of several thin film formulations. SunPower makes traditional silicon-based panels but silicon of varying grades and purities can also be used to make thin film modules.

    Thin film panels are less efficient than traditional silicon-based panels, meaning they turn less of the sunlight that hits them into electricity. But they are cheaper to make. It was the lower cost that allowed First Solar's $348.3 million in 2008 profits to be double its 2007 earnings.

    Energy analysts consider First Solar the model of a company managing breakthrough technology. It lowered its production cost to a world-record 93 cents per watt this year while maintaining its profit margins and sustaining full production capacity, demonstrating why it is expected to sustain its market share despite increasing competition from other thin film manufacturers and other thin film formulas.

    click to enlarge

    SunPower is all about efficiency. It claims 50% more efficiency than other traditional, crystalline silicon-based panels and 100-to-300% more efficiency than thin films. It promises an even higher-efficiency (23.4%) “Generation 3” panel in 2010. This makes SunPower panels the way to take advantage of that sweet spot on a rooftop where the sun is strongest longest.

    Partly as a result of heavy bets on the European solar markets where subsidies have been rolled back and installations have slowed, SunPower lost money in the first quarter of 2008. It did, though, maintain high revenues. Thanks to the falling cost of silicon, the company is expected to bounce back later in the year by bringing its production costs down.

    Sharp has, in its time, produced 2 GIGAwatts of crystalline silicon solar panels, a quarter of the world’s total capacity. Yet it is basing its return to the thick of world solar energy industry competition on the ability of its megacorporate-sized R&D team to develop a competitive amorphous silicon-based thin film formula. It has already built 160-megawatts of manufacturing capacity, has a 480-megawatt plant planned to come online early in 2010 and intends to take half the world thin film market by 2012.

    click to enlarge

    SunTech Power Holdings is the newest of this group of survivor companies, but it is very well financed. More importantly, it has access to China’s enormous, low-wage work force and is driven by a newly announced government goal to build 20 GIGAwatts of solar energy generating capacity by 2020. Because of the always mind-boggling numbers China is capable of delivering, SunTech Holding’s big challenge is to be able to handle its growth. So far, it has demonstrated it can.

    It has incurred a high level of debt while building a gigawatt of production capacity since just 2001, yet it continues to steadily develop its high efficiency monocrystalline and polycrystalline Pluto technologies, which it has moved to 19% (mono) and 17% (poly) efficiencies. And with the enormous government mandate for capacity driving it, debt is not expected to significantly hamper the company’s ability to find financing either from China’s cash-rich banks or from other investors.

    click to enlarge

    QUOTES
    - Travis Bradford, president, Prometheus Institute for Sustainable Development: “In five years, there probably can be only a couple of dozen of them…At most.”
    - Matthew Patsky, portfolio manager, Winslow Green Mutual Funds: “There’s no doubt in my mind that First Solar offers the industry’s best quality management and the best quality product at the best relative value…”
    - Ken Zweibel, director, George Washington University Solar Institute: “Thin films came into production during the boom period in the industry’s growth, which allowed for higher-risk new technology. But First Solar was the only one to establish itself successfully during that boom…”
    - Shyam Mehta, senior solar analyst, GTM Research: “[First Solar]is the only company in the world that’s been able to produce solar modules at less than $1 per watt…And [it] is on its way to producing solar electricity at rates competitive with electricity from fossil fuels.”

    From Lux Research. (click to enlarge)

    - Julie Blunden, vice president of public policy and corporate communications, SunPower: “We have made commitments to our investors and customers that we would lower our cost of solar-system installation 50 percent between 2006 and 2012…By 2010, we’ll be two-thirds of the way [there]…”
    - Bradford: “From its parent, [Sharp Solar] has an extraordinary amount of resources…[It] can deploy engineers and process capital on a scale that none of the rest of these companies can.”
    - Steve Chadima, vice president for external affairs, SunTech Holding: “Our real strength is our ability to deliver products at very low cost that are also very high quality…”

    MORE NEWS, 7-30 (N. CAROLINA’S FIGHT OVER WIND’S AESTHETICS; ANOTHER STUDY FINDS FOR NEGAWATTS; DEMAND FOR SOLAR WILL COME BACK)

    N. CAROLINA’S FIGHT OVER WIND’S AESTHETICS
    State needs a comprehensive wind energy policy
    Scott Gollwitzer, July 29, 2009 (Asheville Citizen-Times)

    "A battle is brewing in the state House over how many — if any — commercial-scale, electricity-generating wind turbines should be allowed to dot the mountainous skylines of Western North Carolina. On one side of the debate stand three mountain senators who oppose these cleaner sources of electricity because they may ruin the scenery and the environment…On the other side are those — including many mountainfolk — seeking to transition the nation’s energy policy away from fossil fuels and rapidly embracing measures that use energy more efficiently and deploying renewable sources of energy like wind.

    "…[T]hat developing wind energy in North Carolina should [NOT] proceed in an unregulated, piecemeal fashion…both sides readily agree…What are the essential elements of a wind energy development policy that protects scenic vistas and the environment?"



    click to enlarge

    "Foremost, any wind energy policy must provide for commercial-scale projects across the state…[A] fairly balanced policy must promote the responsible construction and operation of wind turbines in the mountains and Piedmont alike.

    "Second…[P]rohibit commercial-scale wind turbines on all federal and state lands…[including] parks, forests, recreation and wilderness areas, historic sites, natural and scenic rivers, wildlife refuges, nature preserves and natural heritage areas…[and protect] the views from public lands or private conservation lands with high recreational values…Third…protect ecological systems, natural resources, fish, plants, wildlife and cultural and historic sites…[and] exclude development in habitat for rare, endangered, threatened and sensitive species of animals and plants…[and] on lands identified as being at risk of landslides and other hazardous areas…Fourth…limit the construction of new infrastructure by requiring projects to be located in close proximity to existing roads and transmission systems."


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    "Fifth…ensure that the effects of each proposed project—when added to past, present and future projects — do not create adverse cumulative impacts…Finally… require an evaluation of the noise and shadow flicker impacts and provide ample opportunities for the public to review and comment upon the project before it is approved.

    "Armed with these guidelines, the General Assembly is poised to take a decisive first step in weaning North Carolina from fossil fuels. The statewide benefits of swiftly — and responsibly — deploying wind turbines far outweigh the costs…[O]n the coast, wind energy will help reduce the expected rise in sea levels…In the ever-growing Piedmont, wind turbines will…[reduce] the amount of water evaporated each day by fossil fuel-fired power plants. In the mountains, wind turbines will reduce the air pollution that currently obscures our scenic vistas and poisons our streams and forests…For this mountain boy, I’d take a crystal-clear view of a responsibly sited wind farm on a prominent ridgeline over a smog-choked vista any day…I hope our western senators see it that way, too."



    ANOTHER STUDY FINDS FOR NEGAWATTS
    Unlocking energy efficiency in the U.S. economy
    July 29, 2009 (McKinsey & Company)

    "In [Unlocking Energy Efficiency in the U.S. Economy], McKinsey & Company offers a detailed analysis of the magnitude of the efficiency potential in non-transportation uses of energy, a thorough assessment of the barriers that impede the capture of greater efficiency, and an outline of the practical solutions available to unlock the potential.

    "…[T]he U.S. economy has the potential to reduce annual non-transportation energy consumption by roughly 23 percent by 2020, eliminating more than $1.2 trillion in waste – well beyond the $520 billion upfront investment…The reduction in energy use would also result in the abatement of 1.1 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions annually – the equivalent of taking the entire U.S. fleet of passenger vehicles and light trucks off the roads."


    There are lots of U.S. NEGAWATTS to be had. Negawtts are the ones that don't get used, don't have to be paid for and don't generate any spew. (click to enlarge)

    "Such energy savings will be possible, however, only if the United States can overcome significant sets of barriers. These barriers are widespread and persistent, and will require an integrated set of solutions to overcome them – including information and education, incentives and financing, codes and standards, and deployment resources well beyond current levels."

    There are negawatts in every sector and activity of the U.S. lifestyle. (click to enlarge)

    "…[F]ive observations will be relevant to a national debate about how best to pursue energy efficiency opportunities of the magnitude identified and within the timeframe…Specifically, an overarching strategy would need to:

    "…Recognize energy efficiency as an important energy resource that can help meet future energy needs while the nation concurrently develops new no- and low-carbon energy sources…Formulate and launch at both national and regional levels an integrated portfolio of proven, piloted, and emerging approaches…Identify methods to provide the significant upfront funding…Forge greater alignment between utilities, regulators, government agencies, manufacturers, and energy consumers…Foster innovation…"



    DEMAND FOR SOLAR WILL COME BACK
    U.S. Solar Energy Demand Dynamics; Financing Structures, Government Incentives, and Market Drivers for Solar Photovoltaics Projects: 2009-2015
    3Q 2009 (Pike Research)

    "The United States has become one of the more aggressive nations in promoting alternative energy technologies, but at the federal level tax credits and depreciation incentives are not currently enough to encourage sustainable demand growth. Instead, some states and municipalities have taken the lead in providing incentives through a variety of mechanisms ranging from upfront rebates and property tax credits to renewable energy credits and even European-style feed-in tariffs…[F]or sustained growth in the U.S., incentives must be increased at the federal level. Due largely to the credit crisis, funding for solar projects has been tight. In the U.S., this has particularly been the case, because banks are unwilling to lend to projects that have undetermined cash flows."

    click to enlarge

    "…[A] five-year outlook is that the combination of federal and state incentives and falling module prices will work together to dramatically increase demand in the U.S. As more banks become comfortable with funding these projects, and find ways to securitize the cash flows… it will become an attractive revenue stream for commercial lending divisions. Utilities, which are just now getting serious about meeting RPS goals, will likely take the lead in developing new solar projects. Until now, they have been unsuccessful in getting support from their ratepayers who would see up to a 10% increase in their utility bills…[The emphasis] the Obama administration is placing on climate change will eventually filter into the fabric of American society, propelling the U.S. into a global leadership position in solar PV market share by 2014…"

    click to enlarge

    "This Pike Research report examines demand-side dynamics for solar PV projects in depth, analyzing government incentives, financing structures, and internal rates of return on a state-by-state level. Cost components for solar project development are quantified in detail, and the report also includes forecasts for leading solar PV markets around the world in addition to the U.S., providing a clear and actionable view of the size and timing of market opportunities."

    Wednesday, July 29, 2009

    WIND – SO BIG IT WON'T FAIL

    Fighting Against Impact Of Economic Crisis, U.S. Wind Energy Industry Installs 1,200 MW In Second Quarter; Manufacturing slowdown seen; industry calls for strong near-term renewable energy targets to keep US in worldwide lead
    Shawna Seldon, July 28, 2009 (American Wind Energy Association)

    SUMMARY
    The AWEA 2nd Quarter 2009 Market Report has been interpreted in the media as success and failure, with foreboding and celebration, and in many shades between.

    Cries of both hurrah and woe miss the mark. The report is a matter of fact, the activity of an industry once thought niche and even now called by some incipient that in fact is just beginning to take its rightful place among the nation’s Big Energies.

    Like most of the biggest and most successful of the major market players these days, the wind industry’s performance this year has not been what it was last year but wind power is holding its own.

    The economic downturn had one clear and immediate short-term impact on all major energy projects. It dramatically impeded developers’ access to capital. The dearth of financing is, now, being felt. Effects are expected to continue registering until the benefits of the federal stimulus package work their way through the qualifying process.

    click to enlarge

    A surprisingly productive 1Q 2009, in which more than 2,800 megawatts of capacity were installed (see WIND BOOMS IN FIRST QUARTER 2009), was the result of momentum developed by the wind industry in 2008.

    Growth slowed by almost 2/3 in 2Q 2009, when 1,210 megawatts of new capacity were installed. It is important to confront the enormous drop off from 1Q to 2Q before taking comfort in the fact that the cumulative 4,000+ megawatts of installed capacity for 2009, thanks to the remarkable buildup in the first quarter, remains greater than the 2,900+ megawatts of cumulative capacity installed in the first half of 2008.

    2009’s bigger number led to hurrahs. The steep drop off led to cries of woe.

    In 2Q 2009, the U.S. wind energy industry’s 1,210 megawatts of new capacity, built in just 10 states, brought the total installed U.S. wind power capacity to 29,440 megawatts, the most in the world. Wind power now offsets a full 2% of U.S. electricity sector greenhouse gas emissions (GhGs). That’s like taking 9 million cars off the road.

    click to enlarge

    2Q 2009’s biggest growth was in Missouri, which expanded its capacity 90%. Pennsylvania (28% expansion) and South Dakota (21% expansion) filled out the top 3. Texas remains the leader in cumulative installed capacity, with 2/3 as much wind power as the entire nation of China.

    While impressive metrics are always welcome, trends matter. The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) noted reduced turbine and component orders and less turbine and component manufacturing activity in Q2 2009. There is simply no way to characterize that as anything other than a troubling trend boding ill.

    AWEA CEO Denise Bode described manufacturing as the “canary in the mine.” She used the opportunity of the Q2 report’s release not just to celebrate, but to look ahead and call on Congress to strengthen and pass the Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) now before it that requires regulated U.S. utilities to obtain a significant portion of their power from New Energy sources over an extended period.

    In the absence of a national policy supportive of New Energy growth, Bode and other New Energy industry leaders see a continuance of the trend toward diminishing manufacturing, the loss of jobs and the migration of opportunity to China and Europe.

    There will be an AWEA webcast on the Q2 report Wednesday, July 29, at 2PM ET. Click to register.

    click to enlarge

    COMMENTARY
    Ask any surfer: It is exhilarating and terrifying to stand precariously at the crest of a momentous wave without knowing exactly when and how it will break.

    The one thing everybody knows about this moment in history is that it surely will be historic. The economy will come back, carrying with it a wave of change unlike anything the U.S. has known in at least a half century – or it will fall away and leave the vagaries of possibility floundering and contending.

    Exemplary of the times it typifies, the wind industry may send its riders crashing into the undertow (of a worsening economy) or carry them smoothly to the warm safe harbor of shore (and a New Energy economy).

    click to enlarge

    A recent study of the industry by Ryan Wiser and Mark Bolinger of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (see WIND, A BOOM, A WIND JOBS BOOM) called 2008 a “banner year” and described the consequences of the economic downturn as “upheaval.”

    Reporting that wind power constituted 42% of all new energy generation capacity built in the U.S. in 2008, Wiser and Bolinger bothered little with predictions and, instead, described what wind needs going forward: (1) New interconnections to existing transmission, (2) New transmission, and (3) A national RES.

    The urgency of instituting the policies and building the infrastructure to support the wind industry’s growth has never been greater. With the pressures of global climate change impinging on it, the GhG-spewing coal industry can no longer be the backbone of power generation it once was. Paying for their spew will make coal plants too expensive and capturing their spew will also make coal plants too expensive.

    click to enlarge

    Despite what some misled politicians might preach, nuclear energy is not the answer. It is neither truly emissions-free nor without seriously worrisome problems. It presents the risks of weapons proliferation and the piling up of radioactive waste. And in a world where water resources will become progressively precious, it is terribly water-intensive and water wasteful. Indicative of how economically untenable nuclear power really is, the Department of Energy recently withdrew loan guarantees from a major project.

    Because the U.S. must and will need to rely more and more on wind power as the industry grows its capacity toward its goal of supplying 20% of U.S. electricity by 2030, the nation must build its wind manufacturing base. It is acceptable, for now, to rely on imported towers, blades, nacelles and components. But the U.S. can never again allow itself to be reliant on imported energy.

    The good news: 3 turbine/turbine component manufacturing facilities opened, 4 were expanding, and 8 were announced in 2Q 2009. A total of 20 facilities have opened, are expanding or were announced in 2009.

    click to enlarge

    The bad news: There were 55 such facility additions/expansions/announcements in 2008. Also, supply chain companies have stopped hiring or have furloughed employees because deals for new installations are not closing.

    In the 2nd half of the 20th century, reliance on imported energy meant succumbing to the whims of oil-rich tin pot potentates. 21st century energy dependence would be the reliance on Asian wind and solar manufactories. That is unacceptable. Let Asians build for themselves if they can. The U.S. must restore its capacity for making things and that should begin with wind.

    click to enlarge

    QUOTES
    - From the Wiser/Bolinger Wind Technologies report: “…2008 continued a string of record-breaking years for the U.S. wind industry, which has put the U.S. ahead of schedule vis-à-vis the deployment path laid out by the U.S. Department of Energy (2008) to reach 20% wind penetration by 2030.”
    - From the Wiser/Bolinger Wind Technologies report: “…expectations are for a slower year in 2009, in large part due to the impact of the global recession…After a slower 2009, most predictions show market resurgence in 2010 and continuing for the immediate future, as the ARRA 2009 policy changes come into full swing, and as financing constraints are relieved…[T]hese near-term projections would maintain the nation’s early progress towards meeting 20% of its electricity demand with wind power by 2030.”
    - Denise Bode, CEO, AWEA: “The numbers are in, and while they show the industry has been swimming upstream…the fact is that we could be delivering so much more…Our challenge now is to seize the historic opportunity before us to unleash this entrepreneurial force and build up an entire new industry here in the U.S. that will create jobs, avoid carbon, and strengthen our energy security. To achieve that, Congress and the Administration must pass a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) with strong early targets.”

    click to enlarge

    - Missouri Governor Jay Nixon: “Missourians know that in order for us to grow our state’s economy and create the jobs of the twenty-first century, we must embrace new technology and advances like the ones presented to us through renewable wind energy…So I’m proud that the American Wind Energy Association’s quarterly report shows no state has capitalized on these growth opportunities more aggressively over the last three months…”
    - Denise Bode, CEO, AWEA: “Manufacturing investment is the canary in the mine, and shows that the future of wind power in this country is very bright but still far from certain…The reality is that if the nation doesn’t have a firm, long-term renewable energy policy in place, large global companies and small businesses alike will hold back on their manufacturing investment decisions or invest overseas, in countries like China that are soaring ahead. The instances where manufacturing investment is moving forward in the U.S. are in states like Kansas that have demonstrated a commitment to renewable energy and passed a renewable electricity standard. This type of commitment now needs to be made at the national level.”

    FLORIDA’S WEALTH OF NEW ENERGY

    Is the ocean Florida's untapped energy source?
    Azadeh Ansari, July 27, 2009 (CNN)

    SUMMARY
    Hydrokinetic energy is the harnessing of the motion of water to capture the energy and use it to generate electricity. For most of the coastal world, that means wave energy and tidal energy.

    In Florida, hydrokinetics means the unique power of the Gulf Stream. Florida Atlantic University Center for Ocean Energy Technology researchers are determined to harness it.

    The Gulf Stream flows from the Caribbean Sea along Florida’s East Coast and all the way to the upper-North Atlantic.

    click to enlarge

    With the potential to generate 4-to-10 GIGAwatts of steady, certain, 24/7, 365-day energy, they calculate the Gulf Stream could meet as much as 1/3 of the state’s electricity demand, run 3-to-7 million Florida homes and eliminate the need to build 4-to-10 new nuclear power plants.

    Though it has been ridden for centuries by explorers, fishermen and sailors, the Gulf Stream will not be easy to harness.

    click to enlarge

    Ocean engineering researchers at the Center are working with marine, environmental and material scientists to develop cost-competitive technologies capable of being deployed at commercial scale.

    First steps: In April, FAU researchers took a major step beyond theory by placing 4 acoustic Doppler current profilers in the Guilf Stream. They are essentially big orange balls. Submerged, the balls use high frequency, low-power sonar to measure the currents’ speeds and variabilities.

    The goal is to deploy a 20-kilowatt underwater test turbine by spring 2010. Based on the results the test, the researchers will design a turbine sturdy enough to withstand the forces of the Gulf Stream and the underwater ocean environment.

    From FAU’s Center for Ocean Energy Technology via CNN

    COMMENTARY
    The CEO of one of the U.S.’s veteran New Energy-innovating companies once confided to NewEnergyNews that its experiments in capturing the power of the Gulf Stream in days gone by had resulted in mangled turbines. Such is the potency of the energy available and the challenge in harnessing it.

    A consistent challenge and the cause of unsuccessful attempts around the world to turn hydrokinetic forces into electricity is the power of the offshore world to wear out, ruin and wreck the best human-made devices. Turbines like the ones the FAU ocean engineers are planning to use have proven uniquely vulnerable.

    click to enlarge

    The FAU Center's plan is to place small turbines in the current. The flowing water will spin the blades, cranking a generator. The electricity will either be carried to shore via seabed cables or transform ocean water molecules into hydrogen that can be stored at the turbine site.

    The good news is that aside from a method of delivering the electricity from the Gulf Stream where it is generated to the shore, there will be little need for long distance tranmission. Unlike wind installations in the Midwest or solar power plants in the Southwest, the market for Gulf Stream current energy is right at Florida’s seashore.

    click to enlarge

    Florida is the 4th most populous U.S. state but 3rd in total energy consumption. Long famous as the Waiting Room for the Next Life, it has wonderful beaches for the elderly because they are threatened little by coastal winds or crashing surf. So much for wind and wave energy to generate the power to run seniors’ air conditioners and heart monitors.

    FAU's Center is also exploring two cutting edge types of ocean energy,(1) the potential of the Ocean Thermal Energy that can be generated by capturing the energy from the temperature gradient between the warm surface waters and deep cold waters off the state's coasts, and (2) the potential of using the cold in the deep waters as a sea water air conditioning system.

    Schematic of Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) system. (click to enlarge)

    Florida does not have Old Energy sources like coal and natural gas. The state has built nuclear reactors but its population is not enthusiastic about nuclear energy. Gainesville, Florida, recently instituted one of the first U.S. feed-in tariffs, a policy measure designed to drive more solar energy development.

    The rationale for Gainesville's Feed-in tariff. (click to enlarge)

    The remaining big question about Gulf Stream current energy: The FAU ocean engineers are confident they can create the technology to capture the power. The question is, at what cost? They do not yet have an answer to that question.

    Related unanswered questions are, what will the environmental impacts be? And how much will it cost to mitigate them?

    click to enlarge

    The energy harvesting cannot begin at commercial scale until there are answers.

    The state of Florida will spend $13.75 million on the pilot project to get preliminary answers. A commercial scale project will certainly cost far more than that. But the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) would also have to approve a commercial scale project, after looking at impacts on wild and marine life, impacts on recreational activities and shipping, and at other environmental factors. Such a project is likely 5-to-10 years beyond the completion of the pilot project.

    click to enlarge

    QUOTES
    - Sue Skemp, executive director, Florida Atlantic University Center for Ocean Energy Technology: "The predictions at this point estimate that the strength of the Gulf Stream could generate anywhere between four to 10 gigawatts of power, the equivalent of four to 10 nuclear power plants..."
    - Skemp: "It's not like an established industry, like the aerospace industry or the automotive industry or others, where you have models which you could base cost on..."

    click to enlarge

    - Frederick Driscoll, director, Florida Atlantic University Center of Excellence in Ocean Energy Technology: "Right now in Florida, we are at the cusp of an energy crisis. Our energy demand keeps growing..."
    - Driscoll: "First we have to do a resource assessment and understand how much energy is in the Gulf Stream current on a minute-to-minute, day-to-day, hour-to-hour and yearly basis..."
    - Driscoll: "We are looking at how much energy we can safely extract -- what is the sensitivity of extraction versus the environmental effects?"
    - Jeremy Susac, executive director, Florida Energy and Climate Commission: "The Gulf Stream is the strongest current in the world, so we want to harness our greatest resource. It's renewable, emission free and reliable..."

    *