NewEnergyNews: 11/01/2009 - 12/01/2009

NewEnergyNews

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

The challenge: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • THE STUDY: CLIMATE CHANGE IN AFRICA
  • QUICK NEWS, August 19: LOW-PRICED WIND ENERGY ATTRACTS UTILITIES; TEXAS SUBURBS BLOCK SOLAR; WHAT UTILITY CUSTOMERS WANT
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: THE THREATS TO OLD ENERGIES AROUND THE WORLD
  • QUICK NEWS, August 18: GERMANY UPS GRID STABILITY WITH NEW ENERGY ; U.S. SOLAR MANUFACTURING TO RISE; TEXAS LEADS U.S. WIND BOOM
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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • Weekend Video: Buy Or Lease Rooftop Solar?
  • Weekend Video: The Sound Of The Wind
  • Weekend Video: Why Energy Efficiency?
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-CLIMATE CHANGE IN CHINA
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-RUSSIA-CAPTURED CRIMEA DIALS DOWN NEW ENERGY
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-A NEW LOOK AT THE WORLD’S OCEAN ENERGIES
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-WORLD BANK PLEDGES $5BIL FOR AFRICA NEW ENERGY
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, August 14:

  • TTTA Thursday-KELLOGG CALLS FOR LOW CARBON CORN FLAKES
  • TTTA Thursday-SIERRA CLUB HAILS WIND CHAMPIONS IN CONGRESS
  • TTTA Thursday-THE BOOM IN SOLAR CARPORTS
  • TTTA Thursday-EV BATTERIES GET SECOND LIFE
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • THE STUDY: SAVING WATER CAN CUT GREENHOUSE GASES
  • QUICK NEWS, August 13: ECONOMIST NUMBERS ON NEW ENERGY COST WAY OFF; POLITICS AND WIND ENERGY; GEOTHERMAL UPDATE
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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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  • Monday, November 30, 2009

    PLANNING TO BEAT CLIMATE CHANGE

    Tropical Rainforests At Tipping Point
    November 28, 2009 (Society for Conservation Biology)

    SUMMARY
    Climate change is not only coming, it is coming at a rate that realizes climate scientists’ worst fears. All scientific evidence points not only to the need for action but the need for prompt action.

    In anticipation of the UN summit in Copenhagen to construct a new international agreement on how to fight climate change opening on December 7, Mitigating and Preparing For Climate Change – Eleven Conservation Principles for Decision Makers, from the Society for Conservation Biology (SCB), offers a set of 11 sound, science-based guidelines that will turn the world’s fight against climate change in the right direction.

    The proposal cites ample evidence of the changes already taking place and the costs that will be incurred to reverse them and demonstrates that the longer the world community waits to implement New Energy and Energy Efficiency and end the spew of emissions, the more it will cost to protect and redeem this good earth.







    click to enlarge

    The 11 Principles:
    (1) All policies, incentives and plans should aim to cut the concentration of greenhouse gas emissions (GhG) from its present ~390 parts per million (ppm) to 350 ppm as soon as possible.
    (2) Cap and cut GhGs in every human activity (like energy production, buildings and transportation) and every sector, including agriculture, animal husbandry, and forestry.
    (3) Stop deforestation and restore ecosystems that have been lost.
    (4) Phase out everything that spews GhGs as soon as possible, starting with the dirtiest (like old coal plants).
    (5) Enact and ratify GhG-capping and cutting measures only after thorough study of their intended and unintended consequences.
    (6) Fund reforestation and wildlife habitat restoration and measure for adaptation.
    (7) Improve emission offset use with better science, better regulation and better enforcement.
    (8) Public and private investment and procurement should reflect the goal of cutting GhG concentrations to 350 ppm.
    (9) All caps and regulations should be applied with scientific validation and transparency.
    (10) Aim only for best practices to eliminate GhG spew, not compromises that protect the old ways and Old Energies.
    (11) Understand and prepare for climate change impacts.

    click to enlarge

    COMMENTARY
    The report begins with a clarification. The cornerstone studies of global climate change are those from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). There has been a fundamental misunderstanding of the IPCC’s finding that the world must keep greenhouse gas emission (GhG) atmospheric concentrations below 450 parts per million (ppm). In fact, contends SCB, the IPCC said keeping them below 450 ppm would avoid the WORST impacts of climate change by keeping the global average temperature to 2 degrees centigrade but would nevertheless result in significant losses and change.

    A more recent UN study reported that climate change is bigger and faster than the most recent IPCC analysis reported:
    (1) Ocean acidification is progressing decades faster than predicted and water so acidic it can corrode shells is appearing in increasing concentrations on the California coast.
    (2) Polar ice, other ice sheets and glaciers are melting at record rates.
    (3) Threshholds and tipping points predicted for the second half of this century (including changes in South Asian, Sahara and West Africa monsoon patterns and the climate patterns of the Amazon rainforest ecosystem) now appear years or, at best, decades away.

    From the most recent IPCC update (click to enlarge)

    Re Principle (1): All policies, incentives and plans should aim to cut the concentration of greenhouse gas emissions (GhG) from its present ~390 parts per million (ppm) to 350 ppm as soon as possible.

    Bigger, faster climate change will accelerate losses of biological diversity, changes in species’ ranges and numbers, melting of glacial and polar ice, loss of permafrost and the release of methane, ocean acidification, desertification and drought, extreme weather, flooding and forest fires. Because all these things are already happening, it is clear the present atmospheric concentration of GhGs must be reduced and ecosystems must be restored.

    From 350.org via YouTube

    Re Principle (2): Cap and cut GhGs in every human activity (like energy production, buildings and transportation) and every sector, including agriculture, animal husbandry, and forestry.

    Agriculture, animal husbandry and forestry may account for almost 40% of world GhGs. Intelligently managed pasturelands, livestock waste, croplands, fields and forests can reduce and even store emissions. Reaching the 350 ppm goal will require New Energy and Energy Efficiency on the generation side and intelligent lands management as well.

    Policies that support intelligent lands management: (1) Ecosystem management that maximizes biological sequestration; (2) Subsidies and incentives should drive GhG cuts and soil conservation and lands/ecosystem stewardship; and (3) all agencies that assess lands management should be required to include GhGs in the metrics by which they evaluate their policies and guidelines.

    click to enlarge

    Re Principle (3): Stop deforestation and restore ecosystems that have been lost.

    Old growth forests (300-to-800 years old) alone capture ~10% of world GhGs but are declining in both the tropics and temperate zones and, and as a result, biodiversity is in retreat. Recent droughts and higher temperature have caused some tropical forests to release more GhGs than they are sequestering. In 2005, the Amazon rainforest failed to sequester its normal 2 billion metric tons of GhGs AND released 3 billion metric tons, a net increase of 5 billion tons.

    Forest growth in Costa Rica, Panama and Malaysia is demonstrably slowing. Brazilian rain forest loss seems to be resulting in diminished rainfall, slowing flows of water, reduced fish populations and livelihood loss by native peoples.

    Needed policies: (1) Dial back all stresses on forests and related ecosystems (oceans, rivers, lakes and waterways); and (2) fund ecosystem restoration to maximize GhG sequestration (such as protecting old growth forests and enhancing forest biodiversity) and prevent methane release.

    click to enlarge

    Re Principle (4): Phase out everything that spews GhGs as soon as possible, starting with the dirtiest (like old coal plants).

    There are 2 ways to reduce dependence on GhG-spewing energies: (1) Institute Energy Efficiency with demand management and (2) Build New Energy.

    Demand management will require building Smart Grid technology and decoupling of utility profits from electricity sales.

    The primary long-term focus of New Energy development should be on the more-than-adequately abundant, affordable, minimally environmentally-impactful, emissions-free sources such as wind, solar, geothermal and biomass but the effort must also be aimed at short-term GhG-reductions as well. That means phasing out coal in favor of natural gas, of which there is greater capacity.

    To drive these transitions, the external costs and subsidies that support fossil fuels must be considered. Policies must incentivize the transition by a full life cycle cost accounting of Old Energy's environmental impacts.

    click to enlarge

    Re Principle (5): Enact and ratify GhG-capping and cutting measures only after thorough study of their intended and unintended consequences.

    Simply the enforcement of existing international conservation treaties to which most nations are already party or signatory. This alone would go a long way toward turning back global climate change. The U.S. Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and many other foresighted environmental impact assessment and wildlife laws are examples. Bans and strict limits on products made with unsustainable methods and provisions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) are others.

    New laws, treaties and agreements directed at GhGs and at protecting human rights principles may also be necessary. The policies that inform them should maximize the use of existing legal and financial tools for enforcement of GhG controls and elimination.

    click to enlarge

    Re Principle (6): Fund reforestation and wildlife habitat restoration and measure for adaptation.

    Part of this can be accomplished through the sale of emissions allowances and efforts of non-governmental restoration funds but concern for the world’s common ground necessitates the financial participation of all governments.

    In particular, developed nations have reaped the benefits of exploiting the earth’s atmosphere for 200 years and must now acknowledge the unintended consequences of their growing wealthy at others’ expense by funding reparative efforts.

    An international policy must include funding for the restoration of degraded ecosystems by developed nations.

    click to enlarge

    Re Principle (7): Improve emission offset use with better science, better regulation and better enforcement.

    Few subjects are more controversial than that of emission offsets. The basic concept: GhGs know no borders. If an individual, a company or a nation is unable – because of entrenched infrastructure or practical, economic or social constraints – to cut them but can afford to pay for cuts elsewhere, such as by funding the building of New Energy or Energy Efficiency infrastructure or the protection of forests in the developing world, that is still a quantifiable GhG reduction.

    Problems arise because there sometimes is inadequate oversight and there can be self-involved actors. The result: Money changes hands that allows GhG-spewing to go on in one place but fails to cut GhGs in another. It might as well be a bribe.

    Also, funding developing world projects can have unintended consequences in the form of other environmental impacts that result, in the long-term, in worsening climate change.

    The rule on GhGs is: Eliminate them. If that’s not possible, cut them. Offset them only when the first 2 alternatives are impossible. If offsetting, make sure it is being responsibly overseen.

    Policies on offsetting should: (1) Avoid reliance on them as a primary GhG control; (2) Incentivize private, minor and voluntary use of offsets where there is ineffective mandatory elimination and reduction; and (3) Regulate to guarantee offset funding cuts GhGs.

    click thru to the to APX library on offsets and emissions trading

    Re Principle (8): Public and private investment and procurement should reflect the goal of cutting GhG concentrations to 350 ppm.

    There is a rising movement for ethical investing that now engages several trillions of dollars in pension funds and other investments. Such stewardship is more than merely environmental because it has the potential to turn the entire international economy sustaining, restorative and nurturing.

    The aim of policy to support this principle should be to direct investment to measurably and verifiably ethical projects.

    click to enlarge

    Re Principle (9): All caps and regulations should be applied with scientific validation and transparency.

    Scientific validation avoids the mistake of investing in projects and sources that turn out to be climate damaging when their full life cycle costs are clarified. Transparency prevents the mistake of investing in projects and sources that turn out to do social, human and/or environmental harm. Scientific validation and transparency allow best practices to emerge and technologies that are too risky or costly to be identified.

    Treaties, statutes and regulations should include mechanisms that give science and transparency a sure place in evaluating compliance and success where remedies and penalties are prescribed. Existing treaties, laws and regulations should be brought in line with this principle. Independent methods of review should be built into the decision-making processes.

    Policies should: (1) Establish rules and systems to identify and incorporate the best science and full life cycle costs accounting; (2) Include updatable goals with a timely process that reviews advancing scientific and technological information; and (3) Applies laws and price signals in a balanced way to get the best subsidies, taxes and/or cap&trade system revenues, informed resource management, regulations, and fair, rebated tariffs to fund New Energy, Energy Efficiency and ecosystem restoration.

    click to enlarge

    Re Principle (10): Aim only for best practices to eliminate GhG spew, not compromises that protect the old ways and Old Energies.

    The transition to the New Energy economy will, according to an enormous and growing body of statistically validated evidence, likely bring with it the biggest economic boom of this century. The countries that act first will reap enormous benefits and become the energy technology suppliers to the world. Those that dawdle will become energy technology-dependent.

    The transition will, however, require investment. The developed nations of the world must, therefore, lead the way. They can use tariffs, incentives, taxes, aid, trade, and similar tools to drive the transition. The rewards will begin with the jobs and technology that will benefit their economies, lead to the reduction of GhGs and culminate in the turning back of global climate change.

    The policies that will drive this transition must: (1) Create legal standards that are based on science and enforce best practices; and (2) Make ongoing effectiveness assessments of new technology and prescribe remedies when necessary.

    click to enlarge

    Re Principle (11): Understand and prepare for climate change impacts.

    Mitigation of the worst is still possible but impacts are already being felt and adaptions must take place. It begins with reducing current stressors to ecosystems and species diversity but goes much farther. The resilience of ecosystems must be maintained where possible and restored necessary.

    Adaptive management should put a priority on protecting water and GhG sequestration capacity. It also should aim to restore diversity because diverse ecosystems are more resilient. Large intact watersheds and road-less areas should be protected as means to alleviate ongoing droughts and intermittent floods. Ecosystems should be left intact for the benefit of surviving wildlife.

    Policy can (1) Support adaptive management of both public and private lands; and (2) Integrate existing treaties, laws and plans into new climate agreements and laws.

    click to enlarge

    QUOTES
    - From the introduction to the Principles: “New research across physical and social sciences over the past several years indicates that climate change is progressing much more rapidly than previously anticipated. Major ecosystems once thought capable of absorbing and offsetting more greenhouse gases are losing their ability to do so due to increasing heat and drought. In 2005, for example, the Amazon forest failed to sequester its usual 2 billion metric tons of CO2 and released 3 billion metric tons from dying trees for a net 5 billion ton addition to the atmosphere – an amount greater than the combined annual emissions of Europe and Japan…While the evidence that climates are changing is overwhelming, the policy response has been slow. The longer real action is delayed, the greater the procrastination penalty that will need to be paid…”

    click to enlarge

    - Robert Goodland, former environmental economist, World Bank and staff
    Director, World Bank Extractive Industries Review: “Forests have four major roles in climate change: they currently contribute about one-sixth of global carbon emissions when cleared, overused or degraded; they react sensitively to a changing climate; when managed sustainably, they produce wood fuels as a benign alternative to fossil fuels; and finally, they have the potential to absorb about one-tenth of global carbon emissions projected for the first half of this century into their biomass, soils and products and store them - in principle in perpetuity.”
    - John Fitzgerald, Policy Director, SCB: “The Obama Administration already has an array of legal tools under the Clean Air Act, power transmission and natural resource laws that they should use to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to conserve ecosystems here and abroad. The Congress should not limit these powers to respond to science, as the House bill would. The President could also reduce the sales of coal and timber from Federal land, require faster pollution reductions, and consider vetoing any bill that would not allow his agencies to respond to new scientific findings.”

    click to enlarge

    - From the Principles: “Studies in the U.S. and elsewhere have shown that major economies and some developing nations have several times the renewable energy capacity that they need at practical prices when external costs and subsidies are considered… The Chairman of the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission declared in 2009 that the U.S. is likely to need no new traditional base-load (coal or nuclear) power plants if better efficiency standards and related initiatives are implemented…”

    MORE NEWS, 11-30: CAP&TRADE SIMPLIFIED; MICHIGAN LOCALS GET READY FOR WIND; EVER MORE AFFORDABLE SUN; INSURERS FRET OVER CLIMATE CHANGE

    CAP&TRADE SIMPLIFIED
    FACTBOX-How emissions trading works
    David Fogarty (w/Gerard Wynn and Sanjeev Miglani) November 24, 2009 (Reuters via Forbes)

    "…Following are some facts on carbon trading…

    "WHAT IS THE AIM?…Carbon dioxide, produced by burning fossil fuels or through deforestation, is the main greenhouse gas that scientists say is heating up the atmosphere, causing seas to rise and greater extremes of weather…Putting a price on every tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by industry and transport or saved from being emitted by being more efficient or locking away carbon by growing trees provides a cash incentive to curb carbon pollution."


    click to enlarge

    "HOW DOES IT WORK?…Carbon markets allow polluters to buy rights to emit CO2 and are often seen as more politically acceptable than carbon taxes…[A] cap is created by making it illegal to emit greenhouse gases, such as CO2, above a certain level…A government issues a limited quantity of emission permits for polluting companies or operations. At the end of each year, firms will be required to surrender permits equivalent to their emissions.

    "If companies exceed their limit they can buy allowances from other polluters which stay under their cap or from a government auction…Over time the cap is toughened and the amount of permits also decreases, pushing up the carbon permit price and forcing companies to become more efficient and invest in cleaner technology…Under the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol, 37 industrialised nations face greenhouse gas limits, creating a multi-billion dollar market in offsets from clean-energy projects in developing countries."


    click to enlarge

    "WHAT'S THE POTENTIAL FOR THIS MARKET? …[T]he global carbon market could be worth $2 trillion by 2020, from $125 billion last year…Europe's [Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS)] is the largest and the only domestic cap-and-trade system operating. The separate…[Kyoto Protocol/UN system] called the Clean Development Mechanism is worth about $6.5 billion.

    "The [ETS]…launched 2005, is mandatory for all 27 member states and covers nearly half of all EU carbon emissions…The target is to cut emissions 21 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. Member states allocate a quota of carbon emissions allowances to 11,000 industrial installations…[M]ost permits [are] free now but many electricity generators will have to pay for all these from 2013…Companies can buy carbon offsets from developing countries if that works out cheaper than cutting their own emissions…"



    MICHIGAN LOCALS GET READY FOR WIND
    Study says large wind turbines to be local decision
    Dave Alexander, November 29, 2009 (Muskegon Chronicle)

    "…[H]ow “big” wind will become in Michigan’s energy future is still an unknown…Whichever way the industry turns, it will be up to local governments to decide where and how the big turbine towers will be built…

    "A group of Grand Valley State University researchers has begun a wind energy study on the potentials and pitfalls of renewable power production in a four-county West Michigan shoreline region. The three-year study comes on the heels of a state mandate that 10 percent of Michigan’s electrical generation must come from renewable sources by 2015."


    click to enlarge

    [from Regional Response to a Statewide Renewable Energy Standard; Status and Trends of Wind Energy Development in West Michigan, the Grand Valley State University first report:] “The demand for renewable energy, and wind energy in particular, is growing rapidly…The challenge will be to supply the quantity of renewable energy needed to meet this demand in a manner that is economically, socially and environmentally appropriate…Though state government issued the renewable energy mandate, managing the deployment of wind energy facilities is left to local governments…While one wind turbine might be viewed as a curiosity, the deployment of thousands of wind energy facilities required to meet various renewable energy targets will bring changes to the nation’s landscapes, communities and economies…”

    "Many township governments in the four counties — Muskegon, Oceana, Ottawa and Allegan — have responded with ordinances regulating utility-scale wind turbines. Thirty-seven of the 73 townships in the four counties have wind tower ordinances…"

    click to enlarge

    "GVSU researcher Erik Nordman — head of the Natural Resources Management program and chief wind study investigator — said public reaction to plans…are key to the technology’s future in West Michigan…

    "As GVSU researchers continue to work on their wind study, public opinion will begin to be collected. The study team will have workshops and public meetings throughout the region next summer…and will establish social networking outreaches through Facebook and Twitter…The next report is scheduled to be released in November 2010 and final reports in February and May 2011."



    EVER MORE AFFORDABLE SUN
    A Competitive Boost For Solar Energy; With expanded production bringing down panel prices, a green energy outfitter claims price parity with grid power is near.
    Christopher Helman, November 25, 2009 (Forbes)

    "The dream of every green energy acolyte is that there will come a time when it is no stranger for homes to have solar panels than to have air conditioning units…John Berger, chief executive of Standard Renewable Energy, thinks that in the next decade the U.S. could get well down the road to making that a reality

    "Houston-based Standard Renewable got 75% of its $35 million in revenue this year from installing solar systems. Just 10 months ago it was buying solar panels from the likes of Kyocera, BP, SunPower and First Solar for $4 per watt. Today, prices have plunged to $1.90 a watt."


    click to enlarge

    "It's not for lack of demand. What's brought prices down is a surge in worldwide manufacturing capacity. New plants have opened across China. Factories are even coming to the U.S…[S]olar power is starting to look affordable and even competitive with grid power…Berger says Standard has installed residential solar systems for as little as $4 per watt. [Berger has expanded Standard…Revenues have tripled in the past year and profitability is in sight…He's hired 130 new employees since July…bringing his total staff to 330…[and] Berger says now's the time to buy solar, as many state and local rebates will run out over the next year or so…]

    "…[F]or 31 metropolitan areas, factoring in average sunshine and cloud cover, applying the federal government's 30% investment tax credit…assuming that a homeowner can finance a system at the going mortgage rate of around 5%…[and amortized] over 20 years, the effective rate that a homeowner would pay for [solar] electricity in the New York metro area is 12.7 cents per kilowatt/hour. In Dallas it's 11 cents/kwh, and in Las Vegas, just 9.3 cents…The nationwide average residential electricity price is 12.05 cents…"


    click to enlarge

    "Add in generous subsidies on municipal and state levels…and the cost goes even lower…And…All this new panel production online is squeezing margins of big players like First Solar, whose shares have fallen 40% since May. Berger thinks that panel makers' profit margins, now around 15%, will fade closer to 7% in the years to come--in line with the makers of other kinds of silicon-based chips…[S]olar would also be helped by any carbon emissions legislation that might pass Congress…Carbon cap-and-trade would inevitably add costs to power generated from coal and natural gas…

    "…[Solar] is a distributed source of power generation…No need to build new transmission lines…[But the] average home system that Standard Renewable installs is a 3.5 kw system that will produce, on average, 4,900 kwh of electricity a year, or less than a third of the average home's electricity usage. It'll cost roughly $14,000 installed…If your utility charges, say, 13 cents per kwh, the system will pay for itself in 22 years."



    INSURERS FRET OVER CLIMATE CHANGE
    Avoiding Catastrophic Costs of Climate Change Requires Fast-Action Strategies
    Alex Viets, November 23, 2009 (Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development)

    "…[Major Tipping Points in the Earth’s Climate System and Consequences for the Insurance Sector] by Dr. Tim Lenton and colleagues published…by the World Widelife Fund (WWF) and Allianz, a global financial service provider, puts a dollar value on the damages the world faces from passing fast-approaching tipping points for abrupt climate changes…The amounts are staggering:

    "…[1] A hurricane in the New York region: “Potentially the cost could be 1 trillion dollars at present, rising to over 5 trillion dollars by mid-century” …[2] Die-back of the Amazon: “Beyond ~2 °C the costs of committed die-back rise very rapidly and more than double to around $US 7,800 billion and $US 9,400 billion NPV [net present value] for 3 °C and 4 °C respectively…” …and [3] Changes in Asian monsoon patterns: “future costs (in today’s prices) might be expected to double from around $US 21 billion to $US 42 billion per decade in the first half of the century…other factors are likely to act to increase these costs and consequences in the same period.”


    click to enlarge

    [Durwood Zaelke, President, Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development:] “Putting a dollar value on the damages we’ll suffer provides strong motivation for fast-action mitigation to reduce the risk of passing these devastating tipping points…Fast-action mitigation may still save us from the worst of the abrupt climate impacts, but we’ve got to start immediately. This includes action in Copenhagen to phase down HFCs, which can provide a decade of delay in CO2 forcing by avoiding up to 200 billion tonnes of CO2-equivalent.”

    click to enlarge

    "Action on black carbon (soot) is another priority. This aerosol is responsible for up to 25% of total climate warming, and can provide cooling in days to weeks. Reducing other short-lived climate contributors such as methane and tropospheric, or ground-level, ozone is also important. Storing carbon in soil through biochar production is another key strategy and one of the only safe carbon-negative technologies available."

    [Zaelke:] “Cutting CO2 is essential to the long-term battle against climate change, but it won’t save us from the immediate threats of passing the tipping points for abrupt climate change – for that, we need the fast-action strategies for the 50% of warming that is not from CO2.”

    Sunday, November 29, 2009

    LATIN AMERICAN WINDS

    Siemens Turns Sights On Latin America For Wind Turbines
    Laurence Iliff, November 20, 2009 (Dow Jones Newswires via Wall Street Journal)

    "Siemens AG…is moving into the Latin American market for wind-energy turbines - beginning in Mexico - as it seeks a place among the world's top suppliers for wind-driven renewable energy…

    "Latin America has little installed wind-energy capacity even as global growth in the sector hit 30% a year at the start of the decade before slowing to 24% from 2004 to 2007…It has slowed further in recent years due to the debt crisis…[T]op wind turbine manufacturers see a recovery around the corner and an eventual boom, as governments provide incentives to meet international commitments for clean, renewable energy."


    click to enlarge

    "Currently, Siemens wind turbines have a global installed capacity of 9,600 megawatts, with about two-thirds of that in Europe and the rest in the U.S., Canada and elsewhere…[making it] fifth or sixth in the world for wind turbine manufacturers…Unlike its competitors…Siemens isn't making its Mexico debut in windy Oaxaca state…[It] will install 70 of its new 2.3-megawatt turbines [worth $270 million]…with the private Mexican energy producer Grupo Soluciones en Energias Renovables SOE, or GSEER-SOE… [at] the Los Vergeles wind farm [along the Gulf Coast] in the Mexico-Texas border state of Tamaulipas…scheduled [to open] this month…

    "…[P]roximity to the Gulf offers wind speed of about eight meters per second, allowing the turbines to operate around 40% of capacity…less than Oaxaca, but [adequate]…[GSEER-SOE and Siemens have] an agreement with the 43 municipalities in Tamaulipas to provide energy for government installations such as schools and hospitals…Before deciding on Siemens, [GSEER-SOE] did a series of studies on how wind turbines from the biggest global companies would perform as part of the project…Siemens' size and financial stability…helped…GSEER-SOE to obtain financing."


    click to enlarge

    "…Mexico had just 88 megawatts of installed wind-energy capacity in 2008 but will have another 300 megawatts this year…[and] could develop up to 3,800 megawatts of capacity by 2014…[though the] wind energy market…is going through a tough time due mostly to financing issues…The financial statements of two wind turbine giants shows global suppliers are facing a mixed bag of demand…Denmark's Vestas reported an 11% [third quarter 2009] increase in turbine sales…Spain's Gamesa reported a 16% fall…

    "Siemens Wind Power Americas…is preparing for an upcoming energy auction in Brazil to assign several wind projects…[and studying the market in] Chile…[with Mexico, those nations] make up the "economic engines" of Latin America…and Siemens is betting that its wind turbines will be increasingly fueling them."

    NEW SOLAR POWER PLANT MONEY FOR SPAIN

    Abengoa secures E.ON as partner for solar plants
    Peter Dinkloh, Tom Kaeckenhoff and Jonathan Gleave (w/Will Waterman), November 25, 2009 (Reuters)

    "Spanish renewable energy company Abengoa will team up with German utility E.ON to build two solar mirror plants in southern Spain, benefiting from E.ON's cash and large grid expertise.

    "E.ON will pay half of the overall investment of 550 million euros ($828 million) for the two plants, which have a capacity of 50 megawatts each, giving Seville-based Abengoa access to the finance power of the world's largest utility by sales…"


    Abengoa specializes in solar power tower technology (click to enlarge)

    "Spain has not yet released a list of solar mirror plants included in its new renewables register, which grants subsidies on normal electricity prices of about 27 eurocents per kilowatt hour, but the companies are confident the plants will be included…

    "Abengoa, which has already started building the two plants in Ecija, close to Seville, and plans to start producing power in 2011 and 2012, respectively…"


    click to enlarge

    "Both companies plan to extend the partnership to further develop solar power in Spain and will study future projects on a case-by-case basis.

    "The plants use the sun to generate steam that powers turbines, a technology called solar-thermal as opposed to solar cells…"

    NORWAY’S OCEAN OSMOSIS PLAY

    Power of osmosis used to deliver eco-friendly energy; A Norwegian firm is testing a renewable and emission-free source of energy that harnesses the power of water through osmosis
    Gwladys Fouche, 25 November 2009 (UK Guardian)

    "The world's first test plant to harness osmotic power, a new emission-free source of energy, opened…in Norway. Nestled amid pine-covered hills on the banks of the Oslo fjord, 60km south of the Norwegian capital, the facility will exploit the energy produced when fresh water meets seawater.

    "Statkraft, the Norwegian energy firm behind the test plant, says osmotic power could produce up to 1,600–1,700 terawatt hours worldwide – the equivalent of half of the energy generated in the EU today…"


    click thru for a complete Statkraft presentation

    "Statkraft says osmotic power would be especially suited for generating electricity for large cities…[situated where large rivers flow into the sea and therefore not needing new transmission]…[A] commercial [25 megawatt] plant would be…[the size of a football field]…[An] osmotic plant could [however] have the same environmental impact [on biodiversity] as a hydropower facility…[so the right site is crucial]…

    "The new technology is based on the principle of osmosis, the diffusion of water through a semi-permeable membrane, which is how plants draw water from the soil…[F]resh water and salt water is guided into separate chambers, divided by an artificial membrane. When the fresh and seawater meet on either side of the membrane, the fresh water is drawn towards the seawater. The flow puts pressure on the seawater side, and that pressure can be used to drive a turbine, producing electricity."


    click thru for a complete Statkraft presentation

    "The two-storey, tennis-court-size [pilot] plant, situated next to a pulp mill, will generate little power…There is no river at the site…so Statkraft will use the water from a nearby lake piped by the pulp mill…The company hopes to launch the first commercial plant between 2015 and 2020 – if everything goes to plan.

    "The challenges are many. First is the price…[S]ince it is a new technology, osmotic power is expensive to run…Another challenge is technical. The key to the technology is the membrane, but Statkraft says it needs to be made five times more efficient than it is today. Yet another issue is developing the business, with Statkraft looking to find business partners, such as membrane manufacturers and utility companies…[Other companies and NASA are] looking into osmotic power…"

    GREEN BROTHER IN KENYA

    Nigeria set for 'Green Big Brother' show
    Chris Wade, November 26, 2009 (BBC News)

    "Nigeria's most celebrated environmental campaigner is about to launch a reality TV show to highlight the dangers of global warming for Africans.

    "At almost 72 years of age…with three crossings of the barren wastes of the Sahara desert already behind him, Newton Jibunoh is preparing for the most ambitious desert adventure of his life…For his final trek across the desert, planned for the new year, he will be taking a band of 15 young men and women from Nigeria and neighbouring Niger with him."


    Newton Jibunoh talks about climate change and Africa. From newdawnvideos via YouTube

    "And he will select his travelling companions from an initial group of 50 as part of a reality TV show to be broadcast in both countries…The show, called Desert Warriors, will be set in the ancient Tuareg settlement of Agadez - the last town in northern Niger before civilisation gives way to the sand…There, candidates will be put through a series of tough physical and mental endurance exercises, extreme driving tests and group tasks…Like Big Brother, which has been phenomenally popular across the continent, the viewing public will be able to vote for the "warrior" they would most like to see make the final 15…

    "After more than 40 years spent travelling the world explaining the dangers posed by global warming, and in particular the worsening problem of desertification in the Sahara region, Mr Jibunoh says his greatest concern remains the lack of awareness among Africans of the gravity of the situation…The show is his way of spreading the word to a new generation of African environmentalists… [It will] run through early December and will eventually be distributed across a wide swath of the sub-region, potentially reaching many millions of African homes…"


    click to enlarge

    "…[The] big problem that Mr Jibunoh says he wants to tackle is the perception amongst many Africans that global warming is the preserve of Western charities and wealthy Africans, and has no bearing on their everyday lives…A straw-poll of residents in the capital, Abuja, seems to bear out his point…[T]he irony of this situation is that it is the ordinary citizens of Lagos, Niamey or Abuja who stand to be hit the hardest…

    "Mr. Jibunoh says he knows his own time is running out…But he says that Desert Warriors is all about passing the torch to the environmental activists of tomorrow and showing young people across Africa that this is a fight worth carrying on after he is gone…"

    W/HYDROPOWER DROUGHTED, KENYA GOES GEOTHERMAL

    Kenya looks to geothermal power, drought hits dams
    George Obulutsa, November 23, 2009 (Reuters)

    "Kenya needs $1.02 billion in the next three years to tap its geothermal power potential, seen as an answer to over-reliance on drought-hit hydroelectric power, Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi said…

    "Drought has slashed capacity at Kenya's main dams, forcing shutdowns and leading to reliance on costly diesel-powered generators, which in turn have pushed up energy bills...East Africa's biggest economy has relied on hydro energy to provide up to 90 percent of its electricity requirements. The country produces about 1,300 MW of power…[but] needs to add another 1,800 megawatts (MW) in new power generation to its grid to meet growing demand…"


    From a KenGen presentation (click to enlarge)

    "About 200 MW comes from geothermal sources now, although the government estimates it has the potential to produce 7,000 MW. The government aims to raise production by 2,000 MW by 2014…Kenya's Geothermal Development Company (GDC) [expects to] need at least 12 rigs by 2010-11 for the drilling of 72 wells each year and the acquisition of at least 100 well head generators over the next three years…and [with] main power producer KenGen, [has] secured funds and awarded a tender for two rigs and [are] seeking money for another two…

    "…[T]he main obstacle in investing in geothermal [is] the high costs involved…[It] costs $6.2-$6.5 million to drill a well and a well-head generator costs between $7 million and $8 million…[but] Kenya [needs] to ramp up power production to meet growing demand…"


    From a KenGen presentation (click to enlarge)

    "The country is [also] seeking to expand generation of electricity from other renewable sources. This includes a 300 MW wind farm in northeastern Kenya due to be commissioned by 2012.

    "KenGen is already setting up wind turbines to produce 5.1 MW…[with plans to increase this by another 30 MW. The government says wind power has the potential to produce 2,000 MW in Kenya…[Kenya] has spent 630 million shillings in Kenya's dry areas on solar power for hospitals, schools and health centres in the last four years and has set aside 500 million shillings more in the 2009/10 budget…The country also has the potential to produce more than 300 MW from sugarcane by-products, but only one sugar producing company has been feeding 23 MW to the grid."

    Saturday, November 28, 2009

    Tick Tick Tick

    The Copenhagen conference opens a week from Monday. World leaders have already admitted they won’t reach a binding agreement strong enough to meet the challenge and have begun spinning the inadequate non-commitments on which they are likely to agree. It’s time to remind them of why they should be more ambitious and work harder. From time4climatejustice via YouTube

    We Are All Connected

    Some truly great scientists (Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawking, Richard Feynmann and Neil deGrasse Tyson) have some thoughts to share like: "The beauty of a living thing is not the atoms that go into it but the way those atoms are put together…" and like: "You've gotta stop and think about it!" and like: "There is much to be learned…" From melodysheep via YouTube

    Climate Crock Of The Week

    Despite the silly claims of climate change deniers, the problem isn’t water vapor. Water vapor is a feedback, not a forcing. That’s been known since the 1950s. Here’s the lowdown on what’s really going on high up in the atmosphere. From greenman3610 via YouTube

    Friday, November 27, 2009

    THE COPENHAGEN DEAL

    Greenhouse-Gas Pledges by China, U.S. May Drive UN Climate Deal
    Alex Morales, November 27, 2009 (Bloomberg News)

    "Pledges by China and the U.S. to set numerical targets for their greenhouse-gas emissions through 2020 may improve chances for a global climate agreement at negotiations next month in Copenhagen.

    "China…[said it] will cut output of carbon dioxide per unit of gross domestic product by 40 percent to 45 percent from 2005….[T]he U.S. said it will propose a direct CO2 reduction in the same period of about 17 percent, provided the cut lines up with a new domestic climate law…"








    click to enlarge

    "The announcements mean the two biggest emitters of industrial pollutants blamed for climate change have spelled out their intentions to lower discharges, driving forward the United Nations-led [Dec. 7-18] negotiations… Yvo de Boer, the top United Nations climate official…[and the] European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, welcomed the goals while urging both nations to go further…[because neither] proposal is as strong as the EU plan to cut emissions by 20 percent from 1990 through 2020.

    "The U.S. move depends on Congress passing climate- protection legislation…China’s [voluntary] targets don’t mean emissions will fall, only that their growth should slow. The nation’s economy has more than quadrupled since 2000 to $4.3 trillion, and if that world’s fastest pace continues the country’s carbon pollution will also increase….China has balked in climate negotiations at taking on legally binding commitments…[as part of] a framework for an accord to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012…De Boer has called on all developed countries to commit to legally binding emissions reductions…[and for developing countries to] say what actions they’re taking, without defining absolute reduction targets…"


    If there is good news in this, it is that many experts believe a better treaty can be negotiated next year. The bad news is that there aren't many next years left for this good earth as we know it. (click to enlarge)

    "Negotiations leading up to the summit have been stymied as richer nations and developing countries disagreed on issues such as emissions-reduction targets and how much financial help industrialized nations should provide to poorer ones…China and India have said industrialized countries must be willing to cut their carbon output 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020 if they expect poorer nations to agree to long-term reduction goals…

    "The U.S. pledge is contingent on a deal in Copenhagen…That pledge amounts to a reduction of about 5 percent from 1990 levels. The EU has said it’ll cut emissions by 20 percent over three decades and that it’ll ramp that up to a 30 percent reduction if an ambitious global deal is reached…The White House said the U.S. intends to reduce emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels in 2025 and a 42 percent cut by 2030. Legislation backed by Obama to cut greenhouse gases and establish a market for the trading of pollution allowances…[is] stalled in the Senate…[which is why] the UN’s de Boer [recently] said a legally binding deal won’t be possible in Copenhagen, and a political agreement must be reached that over the following year can be translated into a treaty."

    THE FORCES OF RUIN, OUT TO RUIN THE COPENHAGEN DEAL

    Toward a Stalemate in Copenhagen; How Industry Pressures and National Agendas Dim Prospects for a Climate Treaty
    Marianne Lavelle, November 4, 2009 (Center for Public Integrity)

    [The only way to fully appreciate Marianne Lavelle’s fine investigative reporting on lobbying and climate change is to click thru to the Center for Public Integrity and take the time to digest the whole piece, but here are some highlights.]

    "…Around the world the story is the much same. Wherever nations have taken the first modest steps to stave off a looming environmental calamity for future generations, they’ve triggered a backlash from powers rooted in the economy of the past. Opponents of climate action may have different methods as they pressure different capitals, but the message is consistent: Be afraid that a cherished way of life may be lost. Be afraid that a better standard of living will never be had…"

    click to enlarge

    "Those fears will be center stage as negotiators from 192 nations gather in Copenhagen this December to forge one of the most challenging multi-national agreements ever. The daunting task: to reduce the pollution that the scientific consensus says has imperiled the planet — emissions from the burning of oil, coal, and gas that have fueled all economic development since the Industrial Revolution…

    "…It was in anticipation of Copenhagen that the leaders of the developed countries known as the Group of Eight (or G8) pledged at their July meeting in Italy to work to keep temperatures from rising more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) over pre-industrial levels. Beyond that threshold lie grave dangers for civilization…The G8 agreed that emissions should be cut 80 percent or more below 1990 levels by 2050, in line with IPCC targets, but the world leaders declined to name any short-term goals…In fact, none of the emissions reduction targets for Copenhagen announced so far by wealthy countries meets the 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 that the IPCC said would be necessary to achieve stabilization…"


    click thru for the interactive map

    "This climate deadlock is nearly always framed as the clash between the national interests of wealthy countries that want to maintain their standard of living and the national interests of developing countries that need to lift millions out of poverty. But the arguments of the rich and poor nations actually have the same underpinning — that cheap fossil-fueled energy and other carbon-intensive activities like deforestation are keys to economic success. And all of those governments — no matter how far north or south — are feeling the pressure of the interests that have mobilized to keep this conviction alive…

    "The principle that developing countries shouldn’t have binding treaty obligations is dearly held by businesses that have the ear of government in those nations…Those themes are echoed by representatives of the so-called BINGOs, the Business and Industry Non-Governmental Organizations, that attend the negotiating sessions all over the world and have been a permanent presence in the United Nations’ efforts on climate change for more than 20 years. These climate uber-lobbyists aren’t there to make a hard-sell pitch, but to get to know the key players who congregate around the treaty talks, to ease their way into more specific policy discussions back home, where the real decisions are made…"

    ENERGY STORAGE GETS HOT, 1

    FirstTEnergy Acquires Rights To Norton Energy Storage Project
    November 23, 2009 (FirstEnergy)

    "FirstEnergy Generation Corp… has purchased the rights to develop a compressed-air electric generating plant on a 92-acre site in Norton, Ohio, from CAES Development Company, LLC. The transaction includes rights to a 600-acre underground cavern, formerly operated as a limestone mine, that is ideal for energy storage technology."

    [Anthony J. Alexander, President/CEO, FirstEnergy:] “The compressed-air technology envisioned at this site would essentially operate like a large battery, storing energy at night for use during the day when it is needed…Because many renewable energy sources – such as wind – are intermittent, they don’t always produce power when electricity demand is high. The energy storage aspects of this project would provide a way to harness renewable energy to be used when customers need it…”

    click to enlarge

    [Ohio Governor Ted Strickland:] “This project has the potential to create hundreds of construction jobs and provide support for the development of a vibrant renewable energy business – and additional ‘green energy’ jobs – in Ohio…This is an example of how we can leverage technology and our natural resources to grow our economy and ensure our energy future.”

    "…[Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES)] involves compressing air in an underground cavern or other chamber during the evening – when electricity demand is lower – and releasing it during the day, when the need for electricity is greater…[CAES could be key in integrating large-scale intermittent New Energies onto the nation’s grid system]…"

    click to enlarge

    "…[A]n initial phase could involve installing two to four units capable of generating a minimum of 268 megawatts (MW) of electricity. With 9.6 million cubic meters of storage, the Norton Energy Storage Project has the potential to be expanded to up to 2,700 MW of capacity…

    "…Currently, there are two commercial-scale compressed air electric generating facilities: a 110 MW plant in McIntosh, Ala., operated by PowerSouth Cooperative that began service in 1991; and a 290 MW facility in Bremen, Germany, that has been in operation since 1978. While there are other compressed-air projects under development, none is expected to be comparable in size and scope to the Norton facility…FirstEnergy [the 5th biggest investor owned electric utility in the U.S.] currently has more than 800 MW of renewable capacity…By the end of 2012…[it] could be more than 1,000 MW…"

    ENERGY STORAGE GETS HOT, 2

    Duke Energy Receives $22 Million Federal Grant for Wind Power Storage
    November 24, 2009 (PR Newswire)

    "Duke Energy…intends to match a $22 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to design, build and install large-scale batteries to store wind energy at one of its wind farms in Texas.

    "The batteries at Duke Energy's Notrees Windpower Project…will store excess wind energy and discharge it whenever demand for electricity is highest - not just when wind turbine blades are turning."


    click to enlarge

    "The prevailing technology used at wind and solar farms throughout the world allows electricity to be produced only when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining. The intent of the Notrees grant is to demonstrate how energy storage can help overcome this [intermittency] issue…[and] help reduce greenhouse gas emissions…"

    click to enlarge

    "This project represents one of the nation's first demonstrations of energy storage at a utility-scale wind farm. The 95 wind turbines in operation at Duke Energy's Notrees site can generate 151 megawatts (MW) of clean, renewable electricity. In April 2009, Walmart began purchasing energy directly from the Notrees project to power up to 15 percent of its stores and facilities in Texas…The total value of the 20-MW energy storage project at Duke Energy's Notrees site is $43.6 million.

    "The DOE grant was made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009… federal stimulus program…Duke Energy will work with the Energy Reliability Council of Texas to understand the project's implications and establish requirements for its implementation…The Electric Power Research Institute will provide advisory services…"

    ENERGY STORAGE GETS HOT, 3

    Lithium-Ion Battery Maker EnerDel Enters Utility Energy Storage Market, Will Supply New DOE-Backed Smart Grid Program; Partnership with Smart Grid Leader Will Smooth Integration of Renewable Resources in Pacific Northwest
    November 25, 2009 (PR Newswire)

    "Advanced lithium-ion battery maker EnerDel will enter the utility-scale energy storage market, supplying batteries for a major new [US Department of Energy] smart grid program…. EnerDel will build the batteries for five one-megawatt power systems that will be used by Portland General Electric (PGE) - a pioneer in smart grid technology deployment -- to help manage peak demand and smooth the variations in power from renewable sources like wind and solar."

    [Cyrus Ashtiani, Chief Technology Officer, EnerDel:] "Energy storage is a key component of the smart grid, as well as a crucial tool for enhancing both the reliability and the availability of renewable but often intermittent energy sources like wind and solar…We expect this sector to be a major growth area for the battery industry. This program is a breakthrough opportunity for EnerDel to prove the capabilities of our systems in partnership with one of the most innovative electric utilities in the country."

    click to enlarge

    "Each of the five EnerDel battery systems will store enough energy to power roughly 400 average American homes simultaneously for up to an hour at a time utilizing the same core chemistry as the EnerDel batteries designed for the emerging new generation of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. The new systems will be used in concert with a variety of both hardware and software solutions to improve system reliability during peak demand loads."

    click to enlarge

    "The PGE project will be built in Salem, OR, where it will serve both residential and commercial customers. Equipment will be installed at 15 sites over the next two years, after which developers will spend two to three years testing system performance under wide variety of geographic and meteorological conditions. It is one of 16 announced by DOE, which is providing half the $178 million funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the federal stimulus package…The balance will come from utilities and other participants…

    "EnerDel is part of Ener1…[which] has one of the most advanced lithium-ion battery manufacturing facilities in the world, and the only one of its kind in the United States…"

    Thursday, November 26, 2009

    A Word Of Thanks

    Before sitting down to stuffing (as a verb AND a noun), NewEnergyNews has, for the 1st time, a few expressions of gratitude to go with its 4th annual Thanksgiving post.

    To begin, enormous heartfelt thanks to the 2 sponsors who have stuck with the page through this tough recession:

    - First, The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). If the U.S. government was run as effectively as AWEA, victory in the fight against global climate change would be in the bag and the nation would not much longer be dependent on foreign or dirty energy.

    - And second, One World Direct. Their motto is “We Deliver Your Brand” and that’s what they have done for NewEnergyNews, making it possible for this page to champion a New Energy economy and a cleaner brighter future for everybody’s kids

    click to enlarge

    Now to individuals. There are no doubt omissions from the following list, not by intention but due to the usual worries, distractions, brain cells left behind and a likely incipient dementia. Nevertheless, here are some very special folks who have helped NewEnergyNews over the years and cannot be acknowledged enough:

    - Designer extraordinaire Phillip Garcia, who continues to be instrumental in the look of the page, despite the impossible things asked of him.

    - Hazel Henderson, Rosalinda Sanquiche and Ethical Markets Media, who for a long time helped buoy the fortunes and spirits of the page. If only everybody did business the way they do.

    - John Rabe, of Off Ramp at NPR-affiliate KPCC (89.3FM), for the opportunity to demonstrate NewEnergyNews’ media savvy. And Julian.

    click to enlarge

    - RenewableEnergyWorld, one of the world’s leading New Energy media outlets, for affirming the value of NewEnergyNews by bringing it aboard as a regular blogger.

    - Others in the media who have also acknowledged the page, including the Wall Street Journal and Mother Earth News.

    - AnneB and the tireless heroes of the NoNewCoalPlants Group. “Never, never, never, never, never give up.”

    - The greatest readers and the most loyal patients any doctor with an obsessive/compulsive fixation on New Energy and a diagnosable addiction to writing could ever wish for.

    - Gorgeous, the Landlord, who has for too long carried an unfair share of the burden but can now, happily, free herself for newer, more wonderful things.

    click to enlarge

    - The brotherhood, especially Peter and Michael, the Akbar boys, especially RayBootCamp, the folks at both Kitchens and Kaiser, the Santa Clarita Horsewomen and their men, SpaceMan1, UniversalChris, Vinnie, Plynn and her Art Center Men and the North Country Firefighter, all of whom have shown loyalty, buoyed spirits and offered solace.

    - Finally, Lil’ Sister NFM and Frenchie. This page does not suffer from a lack of high quality readers but if the U.S. electorate was up to the standards set by those two, this nation would be ready to handle even the tough challenges it now faces.

    Deepest gratitude to you all and so many others from the bottom of NewEnergyNews’ old and weary heart.

    Now bring on December!

    For The Cause

    OK, there MAY be a better way to educate the public about the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (about 390 ppm) and what it needs to be (no more than 350 ppm) and how to get it all the way down (demand political action), but IF there IS a better way to get that message out, NewEnergyNews – having spent literally THOUSANDS of hours doing research about climate change and New Energy – has never seen it. And finding a vivacious way to get a vital message out is a reason to be grateful. From Studio4a via YouTube

    If You See Somebody Today You’d Like To Hit With A Turkey, Don’t

    There are lots of great Christmas movies, but is there a Thanksgiving movie better than Home For The Holidays? And this cast! BTW - directed by Jodie Foster. From bestofrdj via YouTube

    Wednesday, November 25, 2009

    NUCLEAR ENERGY IS SIMPLY COUNTERPRODUCTIVE (& NEW ENERGY IS THE BEST BUY)

    Generating Failure; How Building Nuclear Power Plants Would Set America Back in the Race Against Global Warming
    Travis Madsen, Tony Dutzik, Bernadette Del Chiaro and Rob Sargent, November 2009 (Environment Maryland Research & Policy Center)

    SUMMARY
    Expert evidence continues to accrue relegating nuclear energy to the category of “yesterday’s answer.” There is a move afoot in Congress to dramatically up spending for new nuclear energy projects. Bad idea. Look at the evidence. Don’t do it.

    Generating Failure; How Building Nuclear Power Plants Would Set America Back in the Race Against Global Warming concludes that it makes no sense for the federal government to fund new nuclear projects that are prohibitively expensive, would be a burden on the environment and introduce a series of potentially irresolvable contaminating hazards. Directing the subsidies and policy preferences to the New Energies will deliver more affordable emissions-free power sooner with no serious irresolvable environmental consequences and no radioactive problems left for future generations to resolve.

    A recently introduced Senate bill would spend $20 billion over the next 20 years for ~100 new nuclear reactors to double existing U.S. nuclear generation capacity. It would also put U.S. taxpayers on the hook for an additional $100 billion in loan guarantees aimed at the historically unreliable nuclear industry. The result, the “Generating Failure” report demonstrates, would be a hampered U.S. effort against global climate change.

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    For the same capital required to build 100 new nuclear reactors, the U.S. could cut twice the greenhouse gas emissions (GhGs) by building New Energy (NE) and Energy Efficiency (EE). Given the GhG-cutting the U.S. needs to do, tying up $600 billion in up-front capital for 6, 8 or even 10 years in new nuclear reactors would be foolhardy.

    Per dollar of cost, EE and several New Energies are far more efficient at cutting GhGs than new nuclear, others soon will be – and the costs of the New Energies will fall farther while the costs for new nuclear reactors are expected to rise.

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    COMMENTARY
    First important point: “Generating Failure” begins with a simple assumption about global climate change: The need for action is pressing. Action is urgently needed to cut GhGs. The sooner action is taken, the more choice and flexibility there will be in the kinds of workable action.

    The Science: A 1 trillion metric ton cut in GhGs offers a 75% chance of keeping average global temperature rise to 3.6 degrees F or less above the pre-industrial level. To do this, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says GhGs must be cut 25%-to-40% below 1990 levels by 2020.

    Where the easy solution is: The easiest big place to cut GhGs is at power plants. It is possible to cut U.S. power plant GhGs to a tight budget of 34 billion metric tons by 2050.

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    Next important point: It takes too long to build new nuclear reactors. By the time a new fleet of new reactors could come on line, the fight against global climate change would be nearly lost.

    Because: No new reactors are now under construction (despite blessings and benefits bestowed by the 2005 energy bill). No new nuclear energy could be available before (optimistically) 2016, probably 2018.

    Because: The newest technology is being built in Finland and is 3 years behind schedule due to quality control failures (not something easily overlooked in a plant that uses radioactive fuel).

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    Because: The U.S. nuclear industry is not up to speed. It lacks people, experience and manufacturing infrastructure.

    Because: If the U.S. nuclear fleet COULD be doubled by 2030,it would only cut emissions 12% and the U.S. would burn its 40-year budget of 34 billion metric tons of GhGs in 15 years.

    Third important point: New Energy (NE) and Energy Efficiency (EE) go to work cutting GhGs almost immediately.

    In states like California with advanced EE policies, emissions are already being cut 1%-to-2% per year. The wind industry is building the equal of 3 new nuclear plants every year, is just getting started and expects to provide as much of U.S. power in 2030 as nuclear despite inconsistent and sometimes disdainful policies.

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    For the same capital it would require to build 100 new nuclear reactors, the U.S. could cut twice the GhGs building NE and EE – though that would not be enough GhG-cutting to beat climate change.

    That brings up the fourth important point: Given the 40% of GhG-cutting the U.S. needs to do, tying money up in building new nuclear reactors is a terrible idea.

    Every new reactor ties up $600 billion in up-front capital ($250 billion to $1 trillion) for 6, 8 or even 10 years. That is money that cannot be invested in NE and EE. Power from a new reactor costs, over its lifetime, 12-to-20 cents per kilowatt-hour (or more).

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    In contrast, spending on EE pays back (several times over) in reduced utility bills. The cost of electricity per kilowatt-hour from new NE projects is less than or comparable to new nuclear – but while the cost of nuclear-generated electricity is going up, the cost of NE-generated electricity continues to come down.

    Per dollar of cost, EE and biomass with combined heat and power are 5 times more efficient at cutting GhGs than new nuclear. Combined heat and power is 3 times more efficient.

    By 2018, land-based wind will be twice as efficient and offshore wind will be 30% more efficient WITHOUT production tax credit subsidies.

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    Some studies show thin film solar photovoltaic (PV)-generated electricity to be presently comparable to nuclear. By 2018 (or sooner), solar PV will certainly be comparable in cost.

    Concluding important point: New nuclear power is not needed.

    Much is made of the variability of NE and the “base-load” value of nuclear power by those who do not understand how NE variability is managed by grid operators and by those who do not understand what a terrible waste nuclear power plants create because they can only run at 2 speeds: Maximum and off.

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    There are a lot of grid options, such as biomass, geothermal, stored NE and ramped up EE, that are available as full-time as nuclear. Other types of NE, like wind and PV solar, are 80%-to-90% predictable so that properly equipped grid operators can plan to use them without disruptions or complications.

    Over-reliance on base-load power like nuclear reactors is potentially more disruptive because outages are unplanned and quickly become uncontrollably massive. This results in huge extra costs in economic productivity and human loss.

    The inability to tune down a nuclear reactor’s output means its generation during off-peak periods is wasted.

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    Recommendations:
    (1) Global climate change is best addressed by GhG cuts and the most efficient and cost effective way to cut GhGs is through NE and EE.
    (2) Politicians should resist nuclear industry lobbying for more subsidies. Despite $140 billion in loan guarantees and liability protections in the last 50 years, the nuclear industry continues to flounder. The numbers for nuclear energy prove that further federal investment would be throwing good money after bad.
    (3) The nation’s GhGs must be cut at least 35%-to-40% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 80% by 2050. To do this, political leaders must put a price on GhGs to make emitters pay for using the atmosphere.
    (4) The U.S. should, along with the international community, prepare to act to alleviate the unavoidable impacts of climate change.
    (5) There should be a national Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) requiring a 15% reduction in energy consumption by 2020 and a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) requiring regulated utilities to obtain 25% of their power from New Energy sources by 2025.
    (6) New appliance standards and building codes should aim to cut building energy use 50% by 2020 and get all new building to net zero energy use by 2030.
    (7) Spending should be directed not to new nuclear reactors but to new transmission and modern high voltage “smart” transmission that more effectively and efficiently carries and services NE and EE technologies.

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    QUOTES
    - From the report’s introduction: …”The report focuses on the need for solutions that deliver rapid and substantial progress in reducing America’s emissions of global warming pollution within the next 10 to 20 years; cut pollution in a cost effective way compared to other strategies; and maintain reliable electricity service. By these measures, nuclear power simply isn’t up to the job. Putting aside the unresolved problem of how to safely dispose of nuclear waste, the environmental impacts of mining and processing uranium, the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation, and the potential consequences of an accident or terrorist attack at a nuclear power plant, the nuclear industry simply cannot build new reactors fast enough to deliver the progress we need on a time scale that will make enough of a difference…”

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    - From the report’s introduction: “…[N]ew nuclear reactors are far more expensive than other forms of emission free electricity. Investing in a new generation of nuclear reactors would actually delay needed progress and divert critical investment dollars away from better solutions. Despite billions in government subsidies made available through the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and a streamlined permitting process at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, no new nuclear reactors are yet under construction. Looking at the state of the industry in 2009, nuclear industry experts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology warn that without more government action to support the technology, “nuclear power will diminish as a practical and timely option for” reducing the odds of catastrophic global warming…”

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    - From the report’s Executive Summary: “Far from being a solution to global warming, nuclear power will actually set America back in the race to reduce pollution. Nuclear power is too slow and too expensive to make enough of a difference in the next two decades. Moreover, nuclear power is not necessary to provide clean, carbon-free electricity for the long haul. The up-front capital investment required to build 100 new nuclear reactors could prevent twice as much pollution over the next 20 years if invested in energy efficiency and clean, renewable energy instead. Taking into account the ongoing costs of running the nuclear plants, a clean energy path would deliver as much as five times more progress for the money.”

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