NewEnergyNews: 09/01/2009 - 10/01/2009

NewEnergyNews

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

Every day is Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • THE STUDY: THE ECONOMIC ADVANTAGES OF NEW ENERGY – THE NORTH CAROLINA CASE
  • QUICK NEWS, April 22: ON EARTH – A QUICK LOOK BACK; OBSERVATIONS FOR EARTH DAY (continued); OBAMA ADMIN UPS BACKING FOR NEW ENERGY
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    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 STUDY: THE U.S. NEW ENERGY MARKET NOW AND AHEAD
  • QUICK NEWS, April 21: OBSERVATIONS FOR EARTH DAY; BACK TO OWNERSHIP IN SOLAR; 15X GROWTH FOR ASIA PACIFIC MIDROGRIDS
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

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

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

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

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

  • THE STUDY: NEW ENERGY POSSIBILITIES – THE MICHIGAN EXAMPLE
  • QUICK NEWS, April 16: THE RACE AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE; THE FAST RISING POTENTIAL OF U.S. NEW ENERGY; BIG TEXAS WIND SHRINKS ELECTRICITY MRKT PRICE
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, is a biweekly contributor to NewEnergyNews

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

    November 26, 2013 (Huffington Post via NewEnergyNews)

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

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

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

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

    2013-11-05-FigureES4_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

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

    2013-11-05-Table_ES2_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    2013-11-05-Figure_ES2_FULL.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Anne's previous NewEnergyNews columns:

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

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

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    Your intrepid reporter

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      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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  • Wednesday, September 30, 2009

    PRESENTING THE SENATE ENERGY/CLIMATE BILL - AND ANOTHER POLITICAL DONNYBROOK

    Utilities Divided as Exelon Quits Chamber Over Climate Change
    Joe Walsh, September 29, 2009 (Red, Green and Blue via Reuters)
    and
    Boxer, Kerry Set to Introduce Climate Bill in Senate
    Darren Samuelsohn (W/Allison Winter and Katherine Ling), September 28, 2009 (NY Times)
    and
    Green groups open 'climate war room'
    Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei (w/Kendra Marr), September 21, 2009 (Politico)
    and
    Vital signs weak for climate bill
    Lisa Lerer, September 17, 2009 (Politico)

    SUMMARY
    Today’s release by Senators Boxer and Kerry of the Senate’s energy and climate legislation could heat up debate on a political question hotter than any other domestic issue except health insurance reform.

    Just this week, Exelon became the 3rd major utility to resign its membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, following Pacific Gas & Electric and PNM Resources, because of the Chamber’s opposition to climate and energy legislation.

    The Chamber’s opposition is primarily to the legislation’s first-ever national mandatory cap&trade system to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions (GhGs). The House version of the legislation cuts GhGs 17% below 2005 levels by 2020 and the Senate version, due to be released today by authors Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Senator John Kerry (D-MA), is rumored to up that reduction to 20% by 2020.

    The Boxer-Kerry Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, like the prototype House bill, reportedly has generous provisions allowing utilities to transition over the next decade to stringent GhG caps. Given abundant marketable allowances to emit in the early years of the process, the utilities will be able to defray rising costs instead of passing them along to consumers. On the other hand, some of the Chamber’s business participants, like oil and gas companies and refiners, will likely face rapidly rising costs for the emissions they spew, giving them a disincentive to do so.

    Despite the utilities’ stand for cap&trade and against the Chamber’s Old Energy-centric opposition to the legislation, insiders are more and more inclined to believe the fight over health insurance reform will make it impossible to deal with energy and climate legislation this year.

    To generate momentum and at the same time respond to opponents' spuriously untrue claims about the legislation's potential costs, New Energy advocates have created the Carbon War Room and are organizing to fight for the bill and to discredit outdated studies of already rewritten cap&trade proposals being used to scare moderate proponents. War Room polling shows voters are not buying Big Business lies and may be willing to stick with cap&trade as the best available means to fight global climate change.

    While the Treasury Department study on cap&trade has been discredited as inapplicable, studies by the EIA...(click to enlarge)
    ...and the CBO...(click to enlarge)
    ...and the EPA show the cost burden of cap&trade will be modest. (click to enlarge)

    COMMENTARY
    The hottest places in hell, John F. Kennedy quoted Dante’s Divine Comedy, are reserved for those who remain neutral when it is time to act.

    Anybody who believes the global climate can tolerate any more inaction is dooming the entire earth’s population to a hellishly hot future.

    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, representing big businesses that will lose and big businesses that will profit from putting a price on GhGs, has tried to remain obstructively neutral on the issue. It finds itself in hot water.







    From the Carbon War Room

    The Edison Electric Institute, a utilities association, has also remained neutral as its members navigate the tempestuous waters between utilities that are ready to face the inevitability of a transition to a carbon-constrained world and those from more conservative regions who believe the Senate’s 60-vote barrier will not be breached by cap&trade after the brutality of the health insurance reform fight, especially with 1993’s BTU Tax loss in memory and the 2010 midterm elections in sight.

    With no more than 45 of the necessary 60 Senate votes now certain, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) hinted to Washington reporters he might be ready to put the energy and climate bill fight off until next year.

    That will not dissuade Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chair of the Environment & Public Works Committee, and Senator John Kerry (D-MA), Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, from introducing their version of the legislation.







    From the Carbon War Room

    Insiders say it is, except for the slightly stronger GhG-reduction target, very similar to the House-passed Waxman-Markey energy and climate legislation which contains:
    (1) the first-ever national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) requiring regulated U.S. utilities to obtain 15% of their power from New Energy sources by 2020,
    (2) billions in subsidies, incentives and loan guarantees for New Energy, Energy Efficiency, new high voltage smart transmission, alternative fuel vehicles, “clean” coal and new nuclear research, development & demonstration, and
    (3) the first-ever mandated national cap&trade system aimed at cutting GhGs along with an emissions-trading market to facilitate the buying and selling of allowances that would be the key to the GhG reductions.

    It appears the cap&trade provision is the sticking point. Because of mischaracterizations by Republican opponents about costs to ratepayers as well as more legitimate concerns about costs to emissions-intensive industries, cap&trade creates a conflict for Democratic moderates. Many expect the conflict to result in the same kind of frenzied, rabble-rousing debate seen over health insurance reform.

    Except that the complexities of cap&trade will make the health insurance reform rhetoric seem like Sesame Street.







    From the Carbon War Room

    Anticipating the controversy, both Senators Kerry and Boxer have described their legislation as a starting point for debate. in response to Republicans dubbing cap&trade “cap-and-tax,” Kerry has begun urging the press and his Senate colleagues to call cap&trade by another name, “a pollution reduction and investment program.”

    Another option is to abonadon cap&trade entirely. Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has already passed out of committee S. 1462, the American Clean Energy Leadership Act of 2009, the bill similar to Waxman-Markey and Boxer-Kerry except that it does not have cap&trade and does have more provisions for oil and gas development.







    From the Carbon War Room

    Democratic moderates see Bingaman’s bill as a viable alternative. It is unlikely that House Democratic leaders, who would have to forego provisions they have already passed and signed on, also see it as viable.

    A 3rd option is to form a Carbon War Room and organize for a grassroots fight on behalf of cap&trade. That’s what members of New Energy advocacy groups like the Environmental Defense Fund and Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Progress are doing.

    They’ve secured funding from 60+ labor, business, faith, agriculture and environmental groups, are seeking the support of military veterans and briefing anybody and everybody in Congress they can get to. They are stressing the legislation’s New Energy, Energy Efficiency, economic and climate change benefits as well as the results of an important new poll.







    From the Carbon War Room

    Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group polled the “swing vote” districts of moderate Democratic Congressional Representatives Heath Shuler (North Carolina), Thomas Perriello (Virginia) and Baron Hill (Indiana) and found “the conventional wisdom is wrong.”

    Voters want action on climate change and respect members who stand up for it.

    Whether that will change when the Republican opposition gets done with health insurance reform and goes to work wreaking havoc with truth, justice and cap&trade remains to be seen.







    From the Carbon War Room

    War room organizers intend to have a grassroots organization in place by the time the political donnybrook kicks off. Repower America, another Gore group, has generated 250,000 letters to the House and 50,000 to the Senate. During the summer, it did 50 Made in America Jobs Tour events in 22 states.

    The hope is to get legislation passed in time for Obama administration climate change negotiators to go to the international summit in Copenhagen in December with a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) and a solid emissions-reduction program (cap&trade) in place.

    War room leaders like Maggie Fox, the CEO of the Alliance for Climate Protection, know that the timing depends on how and when the administration decides to carry the political fight forward. But grassroots organizers stress that if voters don’t turn up the heat on Congress to get something done about climate change, climate change will turn up the heat on everybody.

    New Energy/Climate Change is not a political 3rd rail. Voters want and respect action. (click to enlarge)

    Reading the tea leaves:
    (1) Representative Ed Markey (D-MA), co-author the successful House bill, remains optimistic. He reminded the NY Times his bill’s chances did not look good in the early stages.
    (2) Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA), the House bill’s other author, told NewEnergyNews in August he was optimistic and dismissed the vocal opposition.
    (3) Senator Bingaman has once again cancelled Committee hearings to air the mistruths being spewed by Republicans about cap&trade costs because he and the rest of the Senate are too busy with health insurance reform.
    (4) An unnamed “senior Congressional Democrat” told Politico he didn’t think the leadership would follow the controversial vote on health insurance reform by having members “walk the plank” again on energy and climate legislation.

    Next in the Senate: 5 more Senate Committees will weigh in after Boxer’s Environment & Public Works Committee moves the bill. Foreign Relations and Agriculture are preparing alternative language. The Commerce Chair, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), says he will hold votes on relevant parts, as will the Finance Chair, Senator Max Baucus (D-MT).

    New Energy/Climate Change is not a political 3rd rail. Voters want and respect action. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - David Chavern, Chief Operating Officer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce: "Congress should do everything it can to promote and incentivize technology development and other policies that allow us to control carbon in ways that don't trash the economy."
    - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV): “We are going to have a busy, busy time the rest of this year…And, of course, nothing terminates at the end of this year. We still have next year to complete things if we have to.”
    - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA): “I’d like to see climate change done before December so we can go to Copenhagen with something in our hands…We might be able to get to it in November.”
    - Letter from 10 moderate Democrats to President Obama: “It is essential that any clean energy legislation not only address the crisis of climate change but include strong provisions to ensure the strength and viability of domestic manufacturing…”
    - Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), citing a discredited Treasury Department report on a cap&trade system no longer part of pending legislation: “American families can’t afford a new $1,761 yearly energy tax, and our economy surely cannot afford the 1 percent drop in productivity this Big Government bill would cause…”

    New Energy/Climate Change is not a political 3rd rail. Voters want and respect action. (click to enlarge)

    - Steve Cochran, director of the National Climate Campaign, Environmental Defense Fund: “When you get your butt kicked, like we did [after the House energy vote], it focuses the mind…We found out that this is not something to hide from but something to lean on — even in places where coal is king and Blue Dogs were perceived to be running for cover.”
    - Senator Kerry: "I don't know what 'cap and trade' means. I don't think the average American does…This is not a cap-and-trade bill, it's a pollution reduction bill"
    - James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member, Environment & Public Works Committee: "No matter the semantic games employed, or the extent to which Democrats wish to hide the truth from the American people, cap and trade will mean more job losses, more pain at the pump, and higher food and electricity prices for consumers…"
    - Representative Ed Markey (D-MA), co-author of the successful House energy and climate bill containing a cap&trade provision: "At this stage in the House no one was predicting we could be successful…[the Senate will come around] once people sit down and begin to understand we have dealt with the major interests in the country."
    - Allan Rivlin, partner, Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group: “Rather than a tough vote, this is actually helping members in some tough districts that [John] McCain carried…Senators can look at these results and find that voting for a climate change bill is not as politically risky as the opposition would like to make it seem.”
    - Tony Kreindler, national media director for climate, Environmental Defense Fund: “[In] the hardest districts you can think of to test in…In every case, the members came out in a very strong place politically…The hard data say that even after two years of well-funded opposition campaigns, constituents aren’t buying what the opposition is selling…We’re not in any way pushing to go before health care, or ram through the process…We’re building toward a successful vote and working with the obvious reality that nothing will go before health care.”
    - RepresentativeThomas Perriello (D-VA): “Even people who don’t agree with me on policy recognize I work tons of hours every day to get these things fixed…People realize the problem of energy dependence and that both parties have yapped on without doing anything about it. They appreciate people stepping up.”

    MORE NEWS, 9-30: SUN, LAND, WATER, HABITAT; V-2-G; TOMORROW’S HOME; BRIT SUMS UP CLIMATE SUMMIT

    SUN, LAND, WATER, HABITAT
    Solar Plan Ignites Some Environmental Concerns
    Jeff Brady, September 28, 2009 (National Public Radio)

    "An Obama administration plan to build huge new solar energy plants in the Southwest is causing heartburn in the environmental community.

    "The Interior Department has proposed allowing two dozen solar energy study areas on public land in California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. These would be industrial facilities that would require huge amounts of land and water to operate…[C]onservation groups generally support the president's campaign for more renewable forms of energy, [but] some local groups are concerned about putting industrial-scale solar projects on public land."


    There are several major types of solar power plant technology...(click to enlarge)

    "In the Southwest, the U.S. government is the largest landowner by far — in Nevada, it owns 85 percent of the state. The Southwest also is one of the best regions in the world for producing energy from the sun…But Terry Weiner of the Desert Protective Council in San Diego opposes [building solar power plants in unpopulated deserts]…

    "She says she understands the climate change arguments for getting more of the country's energy from renewable sources. But she says these projects could displace endangered species, such as the desert tortoise…Around the Southwest, local groups like the Desert Protective Council have similar concerns. But national environmental groups have a slightly different point of view."


    ...and they will have different impacts on water, land and habitat. (click to enlarge)

    "…Alex Daue, renewable energy coordinator for the Wilderness Society…says his group also is concerned about losing the benefits of recreation and habitat for plants and animals. But…climate change [will] have a significant affect on public lands and endangered species, too…The Wilderness Society has pushed the Interior Department to choose properties that already are degraded in some way by past industrial activity or farming…And they've encouraged the department to select parcels that are close to existing transmission lines so new ones won't have to be built…[Both the Wilderrness Society and] the solar energy industry [argue] that rooftop panels alone aren't enough to supply the country's energy needs…

    "…Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association…says that to replace existing coal-powered energy facilities, the country will need industrial-scale solar-powered ones in addition to things like rooftop solar panels…[He] is frustrated by criticism from within the environmental community, because his industry wants only 670,000 acres of public land…[The oil and gas industry uses over 44.5 million acres of public land]…[A]fter the government evaluates the environmental effects of the solar facilities, the number of acres dedicated to them could grow substantially. And that's what really worries local environmental groups…"



    V-2-G
    Power grid chief touts electric-car payback
    Steve Gelsi, September 28, 2009 (MarketWatch/McClatchy via Philadelphia Inquirer)

    "U.S. power grid chief Jon Wellinghoff is touting the long-term cost savings of electric cars, saying the vehicles could earn $1,500 a year in paybacks for their owners when their batteries are connected to the power grid [using vehicle-to-grid, V-2-G, technology].

    "While electric cars planned for U.S. market in the next few years will likely carry heftier price tags than many gas-powered cars, Wellinghoff [said]…owners of plug-in vehicles will benefit from much lower costs for filling up, cutting down the long term cost of operation."


    click to enlarge

    "On top of saving $3 or $4 a gallon on gasoline in future years, Wellinghoff, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said grid operators and power companies could reimburse car owners for the battery storage offered by the roughly 22 hours a day that electric cars would be connected to the nation's power system…

    "Wellinghoff, a lawyer who specialized in energy issues before [being appointed by President Obama as] FERC chairman earlier this year, cited positive moves into green energy under [this] President…[The administration] awarded a $529 million government loan to Fisker Automotive to build electric cars…Tesla Automotive and others have also received hundreds of millions of dollars under government stimulus programs…"


    click to enlarge

    "…[Also,] lithium-ion battery maker A123 Systems Inc. drew strong interest in its initial public offering…While the electric car industry remains in its infancy, proponents of plug-in vehicles expect millions of models on the road in the next 10 years that could collectively add to the nation's power storage capabilities.

    "Sharing the main points of his chapter in…
    Plug-In Electric Vehicles,…edited by David Sandalow, Wellinghoff said growth of solar and wind energy in the U.S. will create a greater need for storage capacity on the grid to smooth out surges in power…Electric car batteries could help take up the storage slack, along with flywheel systems…"


    TOMORROW’S HOME
    FSU "House Of The Future" Uses No Electricity
    Kimberley Chapin, September 29, 2009 (CBS4-Tallahassess)

    "…A $575-thousand house sits in the middle of [Florida State University 's] campus…[Its] futuristic purpose...is to test potential solutions to energy and climate change problems by combining old tricks with cutting-edge technology, including a unique solar-hydrogen experiment.

    "The house has no connection to an electrical grid as a backup power source. Instead, it uses solar energy to run a system that converts water into hydrogen, which generates power at night."

    click to enlarge

    "Besides a hydrogen fuel cell to generate electricity, the gas is burned in the kitchen range and other appliances may follow…[FSU researchers have pioneered hydrogen retrofit technology because] conventional appliances are designed for heavier natural gas and propane. They must be modified to safely burn hydrogen.

    "Hydrogen is a potential low-cost alternative to batteries because storage tanks are comparatively simple and cheap…The problem, though, is that the cost of producing hydrogen is usually high…[but FSU scientists have] developed a way to use relatively cheap and common metals to replace platinum, a critical but rare and high-priced element that makes hydrogen from water electrolysis devices expensive."


    click to enlarge

    "…[T]he technology is going to take more time and money. Hydrogen power may be the ultimate goal, but it could take decades to perfect. In the meantime, the house is being used to demonstrate other technologies that can be applied right now or in just a few years.

    "Simple light shelves under the upper windows reflect incoming sunshine and spread it evenly to avoid hot spots. Other energy-saving technologies include a reflective roof, dual-flush toilets and recycled material such as the wooden beams and trim, aluminum siding and ash in the concrete pilings."



    BRIT SUMS UP CLIMATE SUMMIT
    Clean Energy - Should Rich Nations Subsidise The Poor?
    Roger Harrabin, 28 September 2009 (BBC News)

    "…[W]hat was top priority for climate negotiators seeking political support from world leaders meeting at the G20 last week was not necessarily top priority for the leaders themselves…[D]ecisions left un-taken in Pittsburgh have resounded to rattle the UN climate talks starting this week in Bangkok…[especially] how much cash will be given to help developing countries obtain clean energy supplies.

    "…[T]he need to tie developing countries into a climate deal means that the issue of financing is much more important than before… 90% of the new energy infrastructure over the next few decades will be in the developing world…$100 billion dollars a year is needed to tackle poverty through clean energy by 2020…Some developing countries think the figure should be half as much again."


    President Obama took the first step in Pittsburgh. (click to enlarge)

    "But at the G20 meeting President Obama skirted the issue. His climate policies face potentially insuperable opposition in the US Senate. So now energy funding will be referred back to the G20 finance ministers meeting in November…This is getting very late - and compounds the difficulties of the climate negotiators…

    "It's another example of politics lagging behind the science…[U]nless emissions are cut urgently, global temperatures could rise 4C by the middle of the century, maybe 15C in the Arctic…[I]t's clear that politics as we know it can't yet respond to the urgency of the defined risk…Todd Stern, the chief US climate negotiator who helped negotiate the Kyoto Protocol under President Clinton, told me that the US would not repeat the mistake of signing a climate deal that wouldn't get through Congress."


    Block tariffs: Big users pay a premium for their gluttony while the poor pay low prices. (click to enlarge)

    "The President has been widely condemned by developing countries…But the timing is dreadfully difficult…[Undetermined details of the final U.S. legislation leaves everything uncertain]…President Obama did…[call] for an end to subsidies to fossil fuels…[and an end to the world] spending trillions a year subsidising the very pollution it is theoretically trying to expunge…In many countries the subsidies to the fossil fuel industry - though tax breaks, incentives and failure to pay for "externalities" like polluting the atmosphere - add up to way more than subsidies for [New Energy]…[I]t's easy to give a subsidy to a big polluting industry - but very hard to take it away without facing a barrage of lobbying [by special interests and campaign donors]...

    "It might help if more people knew about the "block tariff" policy invented by Bangladesh. Low users of electricity can buy power very cheaply in order to encourage parents to install light bulbs to educate their children. But the price per kWh increases in blocks, so the rich in mansions on the edge of Dhaka end up paying high prices for their air conditioning and fridge freezers. This is the sort of social innovation politicians need more of if they want to tackle the problems of climate change and development."

    Tuesday, September 29, 2009

    OCEAN STUDY PREPARES FOR OCEAN ENERGY

    Obama’s ocean task force releases report; Sweeping changes could affect the United States' management of oceans, including offshore energy development.
    Mark Clayton, September 17, 2009 (Christian Science Monitor)

    SUMMARY
    The Interim Report Of The Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, published September 10 by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), moves forward the new and progressive approach to the development of offshore and hydrokinetic energies that the Obama administration brought with it to office.

    The required 90-day progress report’s vision statement articulates the double-edged hope of protecting the oceans, coasts and Great Lakes while developing their resource potential: “Vision: An America whose stewardship ensures that the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes are healthy and resilient, safe and productive, and understood and treasured so as to promote the well-being, prosperity, and security of present and future generations.”

    In order to effect the political momentum necessary to overcome partisan and special interest divisions, the Obama Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Departments of Energy (DOE) and Interior (DOI) and Interior’s Minerals Management Services (MMS) seem bound to permit the misguided pursuit and exploitation of the insignificant oil and gas reserves in the U.S. outer continental shelf (OCS) so as to further the development of massive offshore wind and ocean wave, current and tidal resources.

    click to enlarge

    COMMENTARY
    It would be hard to find anything to object to in this early, interim and general report on ocean, coastal and Great Lakes protection and development. It is long on noble principles and good intentions and short on details.

    The Task Force's most concrete proposal so far is the establishment of a National Ocean Council (NOC) to manage these matters going forward.

    The report incorporates concerns obtained in regional colloquies with concerned Federal, State, tribal, and regional representatives, scientists, legal and policy experts, and the public and announces another series of such meetings. With a wealth of concerns by engaged players on record, the Task Force is clear about how to steer clear of controversy. In a sense, that is its great strength. It seems set on keeping the process going forward.

    click to enlarge

    Besides DOI, DOE and MMS, the Task Force includes representatives of the Office of the Joint Chiefs, the Coast Guard, the Navy, the Departments of Defense (DoD), Justice DoJ) and Transportation (DOT), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Office of the Vice President and, in all, a full 24 federal agencies.

    While the Task Force's proposal to establish a National Ocean Council (NOC) might seem like putting just another brick in the bureacratic wall, it might be an good idea to streamline this interim board of entanglements as soon as possible. It is a tribute to the leaders of the Task Force and to the Obama administration's commitment to ocean energy that the process continues moving ahead.

    The key themes identified so far include:
    (1) Setting ecosystem management as a guiding principle and being adaptive to regional ecosystem needs;
    (2) Applying science-based decision-making and using financial resources to obtain ecosystem-based science that draws on observation and research to inform on links between ecosystem health, human health, economic opportunity, national and homeland security, social justice, and environmental change (including climate change);
    (3) Improving coordination and collaboration between Federal, State, tribal, regional and local governance with transparency and public participation (while avoiding new bureaucracy and unnecessary costs);
    (4) Extending formal and informal education about the ocean, coasts, and the Great Lakes;
    (5) Ensuring funding; and
    (6) Joining the 1982 United Nations Law of the Sea Convention.

    click to enlarge

    The elements so far determined to be necessary in “National Policy, Policy Coordination Framework, and Implementation Strategy” for “the Stewardship of the Ocean, Our Coasts, and the Great Lakes” are:
    (1) A comprehensive vision of what an ocean, coasts and Great Lakes policy should achieve;
    (2) A statement of the value of the ocean, coasts and Great Lakes, the issues involved in development and the urgency of getting to work developing them;
    (3) A clear statement of National Policy; and
    (4) Guiding principles for management;

    The goals of such a clearly stated policy are: (1) a comprehensive national approach to stewardship; (2) accountability; and (3) a model of balanced, productive, efficient, sustainable, and informed ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes use, management, and conservation.

    click to enlarge

    To achieve its goals, the report found it will be necessary to:
    (1) State clearly the policy and the national priorities;
    (2) Designate the source of authority for implementation;
    (3) Obtain senior government level participation and participation from the full spectrum of involved agencies and departments;
    (4) Inextricably link development management and science;
    (5) Sustain clear engagement of regional, state, tribal, and local authorities and on-going responses to all issues; and
    (6) Coordinate development with executive branch policy makers.

    click to enlarge

    Going forward, the Task Force authors of the paper want:
    (1) Consolidation of development in a single National Ocean Council (NOC) with a Principal, Deputies and a structured management;
    (2) A strong “decision-making and dispute-resolution” NOC structure;
    (3) An Advisory Committee to engage with regional, state, tribal and local authorities;
    (4) A stronger link between science and the NOC; and
    (5) Strong coordination between the NOC, the National Security Council, the National Economic Council, the Office of Energy and Climate Change, the Council on Environmental Quality, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Office of Management and Budget, and other White House entities.

    click to enlarge

    The strategy for implementation is only beginning to form. It will be the work of the NOC in the context described by the Task Force in this paper. It identifies 9 priority objectives that should be included into the National Policy for ocean, coastal and Great Lakes development.
    (1) Ecosystem-based management;
    (2) Space planning for the coasts and the waters;
    (3) Ongoing information and understanding as the basis for decision-making;
    (4) Ongoing coordination between federal, regional, state, tribal and local leaders and support for integrating them into the development, decision-making and problem-solving process.
    (5) Adaptation and response to climate change phenomena and ocean acidification;
    (6) Protection and restoration of regional ecosystems;
    (7) Protection and sustenance of water quality;
    (8) Addressing the changing Arctic conditions; and
    (9) Ongoing vigilant observation through technological record-keeping and data collection and analysis of the oceans, coasts and Great Lakes.

    There are wave, tidal, current, thermal gradient and salinity gradient ocean energy technologies. (click to enlarge)

    The report steers clear of conclusions on where and how to develop oil and gas resources or what the rules for Arctic exploration and exploitation should be or how specifically to site wind and wave installations at sea. It also gives no real guidance for locating desalination plants, fish farms or liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals. It does not reconcile military needs with commercial shipping and the fisheries and recreation industries. It does not address the dead zones in the Gulf, the overfishing of deep waters or threatened wetlands.

    For the time being, that is probably not entirely bad because it means the Task Force has steered clear of sticking points.

    Although riddled with bureaucratic-ese, the report is a meta-breakthrough. Stepping back from what seems like an agonizingly methodical bureaucratic process, what can be seen is an exciting indication that the Obama folks are, after years of dawdling by the previous administration, keeping on track the necessary measures to unlock a huge, untapped portion of the nation’s New Energy resources.

    Offshore oil drilling rigs. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - From the interim report: “The National Policy recognizes that America’s stewardship of the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes is intrinsically and intimately linked to environmental sustainability, human health and well-being, national prosperity, adaptation to climate and other environmental change, social justice, foreign policy, and national and homeland security.”
    - Nancy Sutley, Chair, Whitehous Council on Environmental Quality: “[The proposal is] a more balanced, productive, and sustainable approach to using managing and conserving ocean resources…[and] a comprehensive national approach to uphold our stewardship responsibilities and ensure accountability for our actions.”
    - Sarah Chasis, director of the ocean initiative, Natural Resources Defense Council: “This will be the first time we have ever had this kind of action for healthy oceans from any president in US history…[and the] most progressive, comprehensive national action for our oceans that we have ever seen.”

    Offshore wind is a powerful untapped U.S. resource. (click to enlarge)

    - Laurie Jodziewicz, manager of siting policy, American Wind Energy Association: “The one concern we have is we don’t want to stop the momentum of offshore wind projects we’re already seeing. So while we’re certainly not opposed to marine spatial planning, we would like to see projects already in the pipeline move ahead and start getting some offshore projects going in the US.”
    - Andrew Rosenberg, professor of natural resources, University of New Hampshire: “We have been managing bits and pieces of the ocean for a long time, but while some good has been done on pollution and resource management, it hasn’t been sufficient…This policy shift comes at a critical time for our oceans for so many reasons.”

    MORE NEWS, 9-29: CHINA TO TEST CAP™ SCIENTISTS LIKE MINN CLIMATE PLAN; NEW ENGLAND HAS WIND RICHES; SUN ON THE ROOF

    CHINA TO TEST CAP&TRADE
    China sees emission trading pilot in next economic plan
    Emma Graham-Harrison, September 28, 2009 (Reuters)

    "China plans to include a pilot emissions trading system in its five-year plan for economic development until 2015…[though it is not yet clear] whether it would cover carbon dioxide.

    "The government is already experimenting with small-scale schemes to tackle acid-rain causing sulfur dioxide and other pollutants using market mechanisms…[and has not stated] the potential for expanding these, or adding greenhouse gases to the list of pollutants that can be controlled and traded, but is apparently keen to at least continue exploring their potential."


    China will soon be on the Big Board of emissions trading. (click to enlarge)

    "A trial system for trading in permits to pollute was listed as one of four main emissions reductions goals in official comments about a blueprint for growth in China from 2011 to 2015, which bureaucrats are still thrashing out…The country's top climate change official, Xie Zhenhua, deputy head of the powerful National Development and Reform Commission, declined to clarify how large the trial would be, or whether it would cover greenhouse gases.

    "China is now the world's top annual emitter, and President Hu Jintao pledged at the United Nations to take on a "carbon intensity" goal that would oblige it to cut the amount of carbon dioxide produced for each dollar of its economic output…[C]arbon traders hope this could pave the way for a market like the one currently used in Europe, and have been rushing to secure a potentially lucrative foothold in China even though it is unclear how easy it will be to make money there."


    China is risking these price advantages to cut back its fossil fuel dependence and incentivize New Energy. (click to enlarge)

    "The Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), owned by UK-based Climate Exchange Plc, has signed a deal to set up a Chinese emissions exchange, but has declined to say how much it will invest or when trading might start.

    "French emissions exchange BlueNext has taken steps toward a carbon trading platform in China, joining with the China-Beijing Environment Exchange to offer clients a database of Chinese carbon-cutting projects and a carbon market standard."



    SCIENTISTS LIKE MINN CLIMATE PLAN
    Report touts Minnesota's energy policy as model for nation
    Larry Bivins, September 27, 2009 (St. Cloud Times)

    "A report that paints a dramatic picture of climate change impact in the Upper Midwest also applauds Minnesota for its renewable energy policy.

    ["Confronting Climate Change in the Midwest-Minnesota] by the Union of Concerned Scientists…says the record heat of the summer of 1988 could become the norm if Minnesota emissions causing global warming are not curbed…[and] cites Minnesota’s requirement that 25 percent of electricity come from renewable resources by 2025 as a model for Washington lawmakers to follow…"

    click to enlarge

    "The House in June passed a bill that calls for a cap-and-trade program, a renewable-electricity standard and greater energy efficiency to reduce carbon emissions — the primary pollutants warming the Earth. The debate now shifts to the Senate.

    "Skeptics of climate change science say what’s happening is more an evolutionary phenomenon than a result of emissions from burning fossil fuels…[They] doubt that the long-term impact will be as serious as predicted…Opponents of the House bill — including Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, who voted against it — cite that skepticism as reason to reject the proposed legislation."


    click to enlarge

    "They and others also contend that a cap-and-trade system would cause job losses and higher fuel costs for consumers, while having a negligible impact on climate change.
    Supporters counter that the costs of doing nothing are far greater…Kevin Reuther, legal director for the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy…said that while the new UCS report confirms what policymakers have heard for years, state and federal leaders have failed to respond with due attention…Reuther said the House bill was a good start…

    "The Midwest study looks at eight states — Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin…The combined emissions of those states are double the output in the United Kingdom and would make the Midwest the world’s fourth-largest polluter if it were a nation…"



    NEW ENGLAND HAS WIND RICHES
    Windpower A Key Source Of Energy In New England, Report Says
    Harlan Lev, September 27, 2009 (Hartford Business Journal)

    "Windpower can be a significant resource for electricity for Connecticut and the rest of New England, according to a blueprint for developing renewable resources adopted by New England’s six governors and premiers from Eastern Canada at their annual meeting…Windpower is the area’s major renewable resource, a months-long study that is the basis for the blueprint says.

    "The study, by a team of engineers and economists from ISO New England, the region’s electricity grid coordinator, analyzed more than 40 scenarios to integrate primarily large-scale wind resources onshore and offshore into the grid by 2030."


    click to enlarge

    "[Key findings:] …Offshore wind resource integration offers the most cost-effective use of new and existing transmission. The study considered and tested wind resource integration scenarios from 2,000 to 12,000 megawatts…[into New England’s] 31,400 megawatts of electricity…New transmission investment would be required to integrate wind resources…"

    click to enlarge

    "[Further key findings:] …Annual wholesale electricity prices would be generally lower with the addition of renewable wind resources and demand response resources (paying businesses for conservation, voluntary energy cutbacks, and off-peak energy use) because they have low or no fuel costs…Lower levels of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and carbon dioxide result when low-carbon-emitting-resources are used or when older fossil-fueled generators are either retired and replaced by new, natural gas combined-cycle units or repowered with more efficient combustion technologies incorporating new natural-gas fired technology with portions of the existing unit’s infrastructure.

    "The study also considered resources such as plug-in electric vehicles, expanded imports, and energy storage…[It] advocates that the states synchronize power procurement and long-term power contract activities and coordinate reviews of proposed interstate transmission facilities needed to reach renewable resources distant from population centers…"



    SUN ON THE ROOF
    Solar Power, Without All Those Panels
    Annie Eisenberg, September 26, 2009 (NY Times)

    "The main way for homes to harness solar power today is through bulky panels added to the rooftop or mounted on the ground…But companies are now offering alternatives to these fixed installations, in the less conspicuous form of shingles, tiles and other building materials that have photovoltaic cells sealed within them…

    "…[C]alled building-integrated photovoltaics…Companies are creating solar tiles and shingles in colors and shapes that fit in, for example, with the terra cotta tile roofing popular in the Southwest, or with the gray shingles of coastal saltbox cottages."


    click to enlarge

    "SRS Energy…is making curved solar roofing tiles designed to blend in with Southern California’s traditional clay tiles…A solar tile system that met half the power needs of a typical California home would cost roughly $20,000 to install after rebates…about 10 to 20 percent more than solar panels… U.S. Tile…a maker of clay tiles, will be selling SRS’s Solé Power Tiles …It will be taking orders perhaps as early as November for shipment in January… SRS Energy buys the photovoltaic cells that cover its roofing from United Solar Ovonic, a maker of flexible solar modules…[and] bonds the silicon cells to the curved Solé tiles, which are made of the same basic material as car bumpers…

    "The cells have been installed at several demonstration sites…Rather than creating an entire new roof with the solar tiles, [one homeowner]…chose to insert them in his existing roof, replacing about 300 square feet of terra cotta tiles; the job took about four hours…The solar insert in the roof will generate about 2,400 kilowatt hours of electricity a year, enough to cover a quarter to a third of a typical electric bill…"


    click to enlarge

    "A different solar material for the roofs and sides of buildings is being produced by Global Solar Energy…Atomized layers of a photovoltaic coating called CIGS are deposited in layers on a thin sheet…Crystalline photovoltaic cells, the same type as in fixed panel installations, are used within the ceramic tiles available from, among others, the Italian company System Photonics. The cells are held in place and sealed from moisture by a clear plastic protective layer made by DuPont…The tiles come in 13 colors…[B]uilt-in solar power [is] just starting in the United States, where the bulk of the installations [are] still experimental. But that will change…[T]he market for the building-integrated products [is] promising…[but depends] on when the construction and real estate markets…recover. The best time to install the photovoltaics in terms of cost and design is during building construction…

    "…[G]overnment subsidies [could] speed adoption of building-integrated photovoltaics in the United States, as they already have in Europe…In France, Germany and other countries, building-integrated solar markets are growing quickly because of subsidies and programs that pay homeowners for the electricity they generate and feed back to the power grid…[T]he incentives help homeowners in repaying the systems’ costs in five to seven years…[Experts believe aesthetics also] will be crucial to the popularity of building-integrated solar cells…"

    Monday, September 28, 2009

    HIGH NOON FOR SPANISH LIES ABOUT NEW ENERGY AT MARKEY HEARING

    Original reporting on testimony at the "Solar Heats Up" hearing of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming
    Herman K. Trabish, September 28, 2009 (exclusive for NewEnergyNews)

    Reports began emerging early this year questioning the claims made by the New Energy industries about the net gains in jobs their growth will provide.

    The questions were based on Study of the Effects on Employment of Public Aid to Renewable Energy Sources by Gabriel Calzada Alvarez, Ph.D., Professor of Economics at King Juan Carlos University.

    To confront Dr. Calzada Alvarez about his paper’s findings, Representative Ed Markey (D-MA), Chair of the House Select Commttee on Energy Independence and Global Warming invited the good Professor to testify at a Committee hearing.

    Before relating the events of the hearing as they pertained to Dr. Calzada Alvarez, it is necessary to describe what happened when people began taking a closer look at his paper.

    After reports about the study’s claims appeared in mostly business and conservative media sources and the claims found their way into debates about pending U.S. energy and climate legislation, the truth about its flaws were authoritatively and conclusively revealed in NREL Response to the Report Study of the Effects on Employment of Public Aid to Renewable Energy Sources from King Juan Carlos University (Spain) by Eric Lantz and Suzanne Tegen of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy research facility.

    The essence of Dr. Calzada Alvarez’s paper was his finding that the federally subsidized Spanish feed-in tariff (FiT) that drove accelerated growth in Spain’s solar energy industry and other New Energy industries eliminated 9 Old Energy jobs for every 4 New Energy jobs it created. On the basis of this statistical finding, which turned out to be of dubious merit or accuracy, Calzada Alavarez concluded federal spending to drive New Energy growth is unwise because only the unfettered marketplace can effectively drive sustainable growth.

    Setting aside recent reports conclusively indicating that worldwide subsidies of Old Energy far outstrip those to New Energy (see OLD ENERGY DEPENDS ON FED SUBSIDIES and OBAMA CALLS FOR END TO OLD ENERGY’S EDGE), the question remains regarding job creation.

    A thorough analysis by the American Solar Energy Society last year demonstrated enormous job generation in the New Energy/Energy Efficiency area. (click to enlarge)

    The most glaring inconsistency between reality and Dr. Calzada Alvarez's statistics is that Spain’s Ministry of Labor reported its New Energy industries have created 175,000 jobs while the Calzada Alvarez study never shows more than 110,000 jobs created and bases most of its calculations on a much smaller total.

    As to prospects going forward, the European Commission’s prediction is that strong New Energy incentives will create a net gain of 400,000+ jobs in the European Union by 2020.

    Last year, the U.S. wind energy industry alone created 85,000 jobs without noticeably compromising Old Energy employment in any way and the U.S. Department of Energy finding is that the wind industry will create a half million jobs by 2030 in the process of achieving its potential to generate 20% of U.S. electricity. (See NEW ENERGY BEATS OLD ENERGY BIGTIME FOR JOBS)

    A recent Greenpeace/EREC study showed support for New Energy will produce 4 or more times as many jobs over the next 2 decades as business-as-usual and Old Energy. (click to enlarge)

    The NREL critique of Dr. Calzada Alvarez’s study carries decisive power because it comes from academic peers who not only have University credentials but hold positions in a highly respected cutting edge research facility. Lantz and Tegen indict not only Cazada Alvarez’s numbers but his methods as well. They point out that his assumptions are poorly documented and his methodology incorporates little specificity. The only well-documented concrete fact he uses is total investment. Without specifically identifying the types or categories of jobs counted, the paper’s conclusions about what that spending produces in the way of jobs are little more than arbitrary.

    This is the Global Wind Energy Council’s summary of the Calzada Alvarez study’s flaws: “The underlying assumption is that public investment in renewables would otherwise have been spent for employment creation by the private sector, but this claim is entirely unfounded. In Spain, the support for renewable energy came out of existing tax revenues, so it did not take any money away from the private sector, so this logic does not hold. In addition, the study does not identify the jobs allegedly ‘destroyed’ by spending in renewable energy. In Spain, renewable electricity accounted for 15% of the country’s power demand in 2008, a high share, which would otherwise have been produced by a different electricity generation technology, probably fossil fuel based. It is a well known fact that labour intensity of these technologies is far lower than renewable energy.”

    Dr. Calzada Alvarez, confronted with the truth and looking none too honored. (click to enlarge)

    In his opening statement, Representative James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), the Ranking Minority Member on the Markey Committee, repeated the claims in the Spanish study and then left the hearing. In his own opening statement, Dr. Calzada Alvarez once again asserted that federal spending to subsidize energy is inefficient and cited his claim that in Spain the federal subsidy eliminated 9 Old Energy jobs for every 4 New Energy jobs it created. He added the now widely known fact that Spain’s feed-in tariff (FiT) was implicated in a New Energy “bubble.”

    The Professor also made mention of corruption that accompanied the bubble. While he is correct that there are numerous reports of corruption, he failed to mention that there were reports of corruption among small-time Spanish officials in other industries where there was loose money before Spain’s effort to add momentum to its New Energy industries began, and there have been reports of such corruption in other areas of the economy since. It will always be possible to associate corruption with money. The Professor offered no evidence that New Energy creates new levels of corruption and there probably is no such evidence.

    Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) was the first to question Dr. Calzada Alvarez. Representative Blumenauer asked the Professor to identify the jobs that Spain’s FiT caused to be created and lost. The Professor was unable to do so. He tried to hide the absence of an answer with elaborations on his econometric method. No doubt his method was academically respectable, though his peers at NREL certainly found his application of it questionable. In any case, his method did not excuse his inability to identify the relevant details of job gains and losses. If he could not identify the kinds, or even the categories, of job losses, how accurate could his study be?

    It's hard to sit still for lies. Reps. (from left) Markey, Blumenauer and Inslee. (click to enlarge)

    For some time after Mr. Blumenauer’s questions, the Committee ignored Dr. Calzada Alvarez and talked with other hearing witnesses who testified with authority and at length about the potential of the U.S. New Energy industries to contribute electricity, revenues and opportunity.

    When Representative Jay Inslee (D-WA) returned to Dr. Calzada Alvarez, he asked the Professor to compare the results his paper described in Spain with the results obtained with the same kind of FiT program in Germany.

    Germany’s FiT is recognized internationally as the ideal application of the concept. Worked out carefully since 1999, its FiT is credited with having made Germany the world leader in photovoltaic installed capacity and, until recently, the world leader in wind power capacity as well as having created hundreds of thousands of New Energy jobs.

    The Professor’s answer was that he hadn’t studied Germany’s program.

    Germany's use of subsidies is widely regarded as wise and effective. (click to enlarge)

    It is now widely recognized that while Germany’s FiT was carefully designed and tremendously successful, Spain’s was hastily and over-ambitiously designed, haphazardly applied and ran into the unique phenomenon of the global financial downturn before it had the opportunity to work out its kinks. (See HOW TO MAKE MORE WITH NEW ENERGY and SPAIN’S F-I-T FALL WREAKS WORLD SUN TROUBLE)

    The good news: Spain's subsidy drove growth. The bad news: Spain's subsidy didn't manage growth and it got out of hand. (click to enlarge)

    Calzada Alvarez’s paper is an unabashed indictment of the FiT, yet he neglected to consider why Spain’s program had been such a qualified success while Germany’s is widely regarded as an unqualified success. It almost seemed like the Professor, for some reason, wanted to intentionally ignore the FiT’s success and emphasize its failure.

    As Representative Inslee pointed out, a comparison of Germany’s experience and Spain’s experience cannot help but demonstrate that the issue is not so much the FiT itself as the way it is structured, regulated and managed.

    Much was learned from Germany's growth and Spain's missteps. (click to enlarge)

    In his closing statement, Professor Calzada Alvarez attempted to assert that the problem with federal subsidies is that they are impotent in the absence of the marketplace’s enthusiasm for the product being subsidized and unnecessary when there is free market enthusiasm. In doing so, he made reference to the fact that as far back as the 1976-to-1980 Carter administration, there had been federal subsidies for solar energy in the U.S. but the marketplace has continually failed to respond.

    That was High Noon.

    Representative Markey, who was elected to Congress in 1976, interrupted and corrected the Spanish professor's faux history with his own personal account of exactly how the Carter administration's commitment to solar energy and the other New Energies had gone awry not because of a misapplication of federal funding but because of the Reagan administration’s sabotage of everything good the Carter administration had set in motion.

    Markey then spontaneously and eloquently recounted with the authority of first-hand observation how Old Energy's shortsighted opposition to New Energy over the last 3 decades drove the U.S. and the world into a dangerous and destructive dependence on dirty, expensive and imported energy.

    Representative Markey ended his brief eloquent correction of Dr. Calzada Alvarez's misdirection by assuring the professor that this time, under this President, with the fate of the earth and the world economy hanging in the balance, things will be different.

    This time there will be New Energy and a New Energy economy because this time there are leaders like Representatives Blumenauer, Inslee and Markey in positions of power, ready to call lies like those of Professor Calzada Alvarez what they are.

    MORE NEWS, 9-28: NEW REPORTS SHOW HUGE NEW ENERGY JOBS PROMISE; WIND HAS JOBS, NEEDS RES; HOUSTON TO BUILD BIG SUN; PLUGGED IN & POWER HUNGRY

    NEW REPORTS SHOW HUGE NEW ENERGY JOBS PROMISE
    Report touts global low carbon job boost; Think tanks call on G20 leaders to act together to create the efficient low carbon markets
    Tom Young, 25 September 2009 (Business Green)

    "…[The G20 Governments] could create tens of millions of new jobs by agreeing to invest in low carbon technologies, according to…[Creating Opportunity; Low-carbon jobs in an interconnected world] by the Global Climate Network of think tanks.

    "The report argues that bold government policies to promote rapid growth in climate-friendly innovations and industries represent one of the most effective means of tackling rising unemployment…[and] concludes that measures to creating markets for low carbon technologies will serve the dual purpose of creating extra jobs in renewable energy, information technology and service sectors, as well as helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions."


    From a report by one of the Global Climate Network think tanks. (click to enlarge)

    "Policies the report recommends include ambitious renewable energy targets, increased R&D funding for clean technologies, the creation centres of excellence for low carbon technology, financial support mechanisms such as feed-in tariffs, phasing out subsidies for carbon-intensive industries, and taxing carbon emissions…The report argues that the positive economis and environmental benefits of such policies will be significantly multiplied if they are adopted in a globally co-ordinated manner, instead of being enacted within separate countries…

    "While jobs will be lost in conventional, carbon-intensive sectors, Global Climate Network's research shows that more jobs will be created than lost provided that policies are ambitious enough."


    From a report by one of the Global Climate Network think tanks. (click to enlarge)

    "For example, the study predicts China's existing plans to decouple emissions from economic growth and develop new low carbon industries could lead to the creation of over 40 million new jobs. In contrast, there may be 10 million fewer new jobs created due to closure of factories with inefficient technologies in the manufacturing, construction and transport sectors.

    "The findings echo earlier research from Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), the UK member of the GCN, which suggested that up to 70,000 long-term jobs could be created in the UK offshore wind industry with strong government support…Similarly, a recent study from Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council predicted that shifting from a high to a low carbon energy infrastructure could deliver a net increase in EU employment of 2.7 million jobs by 2030."



    WIND HAS JOBS, NEEDS RES
    Global wind leaders push climate legislation
    Sandy Shore, September 24, 2009 (AP via Forbes)

    "The wind power business will grow at a slower pace, buffeted by stiff competition from Europe and China, unless Congress approves climate change legislation, global industry leaders said…

    "The leaders pressed their case at a Washington, D.C., news conference called as federal legislation is pending that would curb carbon emissions and require utilities to generate a percentage of electricity from renewable sources…Without such legislation, the industry will have a more difficult time attracting investors, manufacturers and wind farm developers, who could be lured to China or Europe where such regulations are in place, said Denise Bode, chief executive of the American Wind Energy Association…"


    click to enlarge

    "Bode was joined by representatives of manufacturers, wind farm owners, the Global Wind Energy Council and the European Wind Energy Association.

    "Congress is considering legislation that would impose nationwide limits on greenhouse gases and require utilities to produce at least 12 percent of their electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2020…A bill has been approved by the House but Senate action has been delayed as lawmakers debate overhauling the health care system."


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    "The White House and many Democrats say the changes will create millions of green-energy jobs and reduce reliance on coal, oil and natural gas…Some Republicans contend the legislation could hurt job growth in oil-producing states and hamper development of new technologies for fossil fuel production.

    "Denmark's Vestas Wind Systems A/S, the world's biggest wind turbine manufacturer, entered the U.S. market in California in the 1980s … "went bust" in 1986 after that state altered its regulations, said Peter Brun, who heads Vestas' government affairs…[but] today has 2,000 U.S. employees with plans to expand to 4,500 by the end of 2010 and invest $1 billion in Colorado manufacturing operations over the next few years…"



    HOUSTON TO BUILD BIG SUN
    Houston to get state's largest solar plant
    Elizabeth Souder, September 25, 2009 (Dallas Morning News)

    "NRG Energy Inc. will build [Texas’s] largest solar array in Houston and sell all of the power it makes to the city.

    "NRG plans to spend $40 million to build a 10-megawatt solar plant on land near a natural gas plant that the company operates, NRG and the city said…[It will be a] small and expensive power plant. But building one of the first such plants in Texas allows NRG to study the technology and decide whether to install more solar arrays."


    The important value of solar is it adds power juet when power is most needed. (click to enlarge)

    "The project also allows the city of Houston to diversify its fuel mix – a key concern after hurricanes Katrina and Rita wiped out some Gulf Coast oil and natural gas infrastructure…[T]he city already gets 32 percent of the power it needs for city buildings from wind. City officials, driven by Mayor Bill White, wanted to add solar to the mix.

    "The solar plant is large for its type, but tiny and pricey for a power plant. Compare the solar array to NRG's plans for new nuclear reactors. The reactors would have 2,700 megawatts of capacity and cost $10 billion. So, at $3.7 million per megawatt, even a nuclear plant costs less than a solar array, at $4 million per megawatt…[T]he panels make sense for NRG, because it can erect the system on land it already owns, near power plants with grid connections."


    The potential to smooth peaking demand (in Pennsylvania, Texas or anywhere) is enormously valuable. (click to enlarge)

    "The solar plant is scheduled to be on line in the second quarter of next year. The city will pay 8.2 cents per kilowatt-hour for 10 megawatts of electricity capacity. But since the solar panels only make electricity when the sun is shining, NRG will supplement with power from other plants.

    "For the solar portion of the power, Houston will pay 19.8 cents per kilowatt-hour…The city will pay a market rate for the rest of the power, amounting to a total rate of around 8.2 cents…"



    PLUGGED IN & POWER HUNGRY
    Plugged-In Age Feeds a Hunger for Electricity
    Jad Mouwad and Kate Galbreath, September 19, 2009 (NY Times)

    "…Electricity use from power-hungry gadgets is rising fast all over the world. The fancy new flat-panel televisions everyone has been buying in recent years have turned out to be bigger power hogs than some refrigerators.

    "The proliferation of personal computers, iPods, cellphones, game consoles and all the rest amounts to the fastest-growing source of power demand in the world. Americans now have about 25 consumer electronic products in every household, compared with just three in 1980…Worldwide, consumer electronics now represent 15 percent of household power demand, and that is expected to triple over the next two decades…"


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    "To satisfy the demand from gadgets will require building the equivalent of 560 coal-fired power plants, or 230 nuclear plants…[E]nergy experts see only one solution: mandatory efficiency rules specifying how much power devices may use…Appliances like refrigerators are covered by such rules in the United States. But efforts to cover consumer electronics like televisions and game consoles have been repeatedly derailed by manufacturers worried about the higher cost of meeting the standards. That has become a problem as the spread of such gadgets counters efficiency gains made in recent years in appliances.

    "In 1990, refrigerator efficiency standards went into effect in the United States. Today, new refrigerators are fancier than ever, but their power consumption has been slashed by about 45 percent…Likewise, thanks in part to standards, the average power consumption of a new washer is nearly 70 percent lower than a new unit in 1990…"


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    "Part of the problem is that many modern gadgets cannot entirely be turned off; even when not in use, they draw electricity while they await a signal from a remote control or wait to record a television program…The biggest offender is the flat-screen television. As liquid crystal displays and plasma technologies replace the old cathode ray tubes, and as screen sizes increase, the new televisions need more power than older models do. And…Americans are spending more time than ever watching TV, averaging five hours a day…The result is a surge in electricity use by TVs, which can draw more power in a year than some refrigerators…Another power drain is the video game console, which is found in 40 percent of American households. Energy experts — and many frustrated parents — say that since saving games is difficult, children often keep the consoles switched on so they can pick up where they left off…

    "Mandatory efficiency standards for electronic devices would force manufacturers to redesign their products, or spend money adding components that better control power use…Many manufacturers fight such mandates because they would increase costs, and they also claim the mandates would stifle innovation in a fast-changing industry…The government has never aggressively tackled the television issue because of opposition from the consumer electronics lobby…Some types of home electronics are rated under Energy Star, a program that classifies products in more than 60 categories according to their energy consumption. But that program, while a boon to conscientious consumers who buy only the most efficient products, does not prevent the sale of wasteful devices and has not succeeded in driving them off the market…"

    Sunday, September 27, 2009

    CHINA MAY NEED MORE THAN THERE IS

    China growth path could exceed planet's resources
    Henry Sanderson, September 16, 2009 (AP)

    "If China's economy continues to expand rapidly and rely heavily on coal and other fossil fuels until the middle of the century, its power consumption would be unsustainable, according to ["China's Low Carbon Development Pathways by 2050"] …

    "The two-year study, supported by the U.S.-based Energy Foundation and the international environmental group WWF, also said if China's energy usage structure remains unchanged, its emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming would reach 17 billion tons a year by 2050. That would represent 60 percent of total global emissions and three times China's current production…"


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    "…[G]lobal warming will challenge China…its developed east coast cities [will face] rising sea levels…[D]rought-prone agricultural areas [will suffer] further water shortages…Using energy consumption growth trends from 2002 to 2008, the study said China's energy usage could exceed 100 billion tons of standard coal in 2050, more than the Earth's capacity to sustain and far more than the 16.1 billion tons of standard coal the entire planet consumed in 2008.

    "But the report says that with massive investment in low-carbon technology and large-scale use of renewable energy and nuclear power, China's carbon dioxide emissions could be reduced to 2005 levels by 2050. Under this scenario they are projected to peak at around 2030 to 2035, with consumption of fossil fuels also peaking before 2040…The projections [assume economic growth] at an annual rate of 8.8 percent from 2005 to 2020, then 6 percent from 2020 to 2035 and 4.4 percent from 2035 to 2050…"


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    "…China [will need] to be a leader in energy-saving technology, build environmentally friendly homes, develop more public transportation and limit car usage…[as well as widely install] costly carbon capture and storage projects by the middle of the century…[It must also make] an extra investment of 1 trillion yuan ($146 billion) every year from now until 2020, and 1.7 trillion yuan ($248 billion) every year from 2020 to 2030 in improving buildings and heavy industry and building transportation such as railways and subways…

    "…Greenpeace China [said the report] is one of the most credible studies of China's energy situation and provides a good foundation for the country's climate policy…[But said meeting its targets will] require large amounts of international financial and technical assistance and strong political will from the Chinese government…Changes in lifestyle [could] contribute most to a reduction in energy demand, but it is doubtful that once-impoverished Chinese will be willing to give up the chance to buy new cars and houses…But the researchers warned China had little choice…"

    BRITS BUILDING GIGANTIC TURBINES

    Ed Miliband announces boost for green jobs; Energy and climate change secretary announces funding for a new factory that will make the largest offshore windblades in the world
    Helene Mulholland, 17 September 2009 (UK Guardian)

    "The [UK] energy and climate change secretary, Ed Miliband, …announced a boost for green jobs including government funding for a new factory in the north-east, which will make the largest offshore wind blades in the world.

    "Miliband unveiled the £4.4m grant to Clipper Windpower to develop offshore wind turbines, with blades 70m long, 175m high, and weighing over 30 tonnes…[as big as a jumbo jet]…"


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    [Ed Milliband, UK secretary for energy and climate change:] "With strong government backing, the UK is consolidating its lead in offshore wind energy. We already have more offshore wind energy than any other country, we have the biggest wind farm in the world about to start construction, and now we'll see the biggest turbine blades in the world made here in Britain…Our coastline means the offshore wind industry has the potential to employ tens of thousands of workers by 2020."

    "James Dehlsen, chairman of Clipper Windpower, said the government grant would accelerate planning and delivery of the project. The move was welcomed by Friends of the Earth…As part of the £120m investment the government has promised over the next two years, Artemis Intelligent Power will also be given £1m to transfer existing technology from automotive to wind energy. Siemens Wind Power will receive £1.1m in developing power converters for their larger offshore turbine."

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    "Clipper, a US company listed as the UK's only wind turbine maker, will start work at a new plant near Blyth, Northumberland, next year to develop the blades for its giant turbines. It is expected to employ 60 people by the end of 2010. Ministers are keen to redeem themselves after the closure of Vesta, the wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight, which led to the loss of more than 600 jobs…"

    [Miliband, describing the Vestas plant closure as a tragedy:] "We spent months working with the company…They told us money wasn't a problem. They said their problem was that they didn't have enough orders for onshore wind turbines, because some councils wouldn't let wind turbines go up…"

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