NewEnergyNews: HOW TO BE A NEW ENERGY ECONOMY POWERHOUSE

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: 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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    THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: THE MONEY IN NEW ENERGY
  • QUICK NEWS, April 15: WORLD WIND TO BOOM THRU 2014; NAT GAS AND SOLAR WERE 75% OF U.S. 2013 NEW POWER; MAINE OFFICIALLY AFFIRMS SMART METERS’ SAFETY
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: THIS COULD BE THE REAL VALUE OF SOLAR
  • QUICK NEWS, April 14: DE-RISKED RENEWABLES HAVE MORE INVESTORS THAN DEALS; THE MYTH OF CONSOLIDATION IN SOLAR; TEXAS BREAKS MORE WIND RECORDS
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • Weekend Video: Bill Maher On What’s Happening In The Oceans
  • Weekend Video: The Human Disharmony In The Climate System Symphony
  • Weekend Video: A Few Thoughts About Solar 2.0
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE- THE CLIMATE CHANGE FIGHT MOVES DOWNTOWN
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-SHIFTING AND GROWING AMONG GLOBAL SOLAR LEADERS
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-UK OFFSHORE WIND SETTING RECORDS
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-MICROGRIDS RISING AROUND THE WORLD
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, April 10:

  • TTTA Thursday-FOX NEWS ON CLIMATE – FAIR AND BALANCED BUT MISLEADING
  • TTTA Thursday-RECORD SOLAR GROWTH GOES ON
  • TTTA Thursday-WIND’S DROPPING COST MEANS SAVINGS ON U.S. POWER BILLS
  • TTTA Thursday-EFFICIENCY SCORING BIG ACROSS THE COUNTRY
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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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  • Tuesday, April 27, 2010

    HOW TO BE A NEW ENERGY ECONOMY POWERHOUSE

    A Future of Innovation and Growth: Advancing Massachusetts' Clean-Energy Leadership
    April 22, 2010 (Clean Edge)

    THE POINT
    Take a state, any state. What would transform that state into a New Energy economy powerhouse?

    Great sun? Nevada has awesome sun but doesn’t place among the top fifteen in the rankings in Clean Edge’s A Future of Innovation and Growth. Great wind? The Dakotas and most of the Midwest didn’t make the list and Texas came in fifteenth. California is at the top of the list but Massachusetts, Oregon, Colorado and New Jersey round out the top five on a Leadership Scorecard that compared the 50 states in 56 categories from regulatory and financial incentives to knowledge capital and the available workforce.

    The obvious answer is that resources are good but developing them is even better. Developing them requires the right regulations, incentives and infrastructure. The right regulations, incentives and infrastructure depend on the state's resources. The Clean Edge paper says there are, however, growth-driving principles that will apply everywhere.

    The first principle: Make New Energy (NE) a high priority. The entrenched political power of the Old Energies closely protect the subsidies and incentives long provided to the traditional sources of power generation. Without a slate of compensating subsidies and incentives for New Energy, setting a new agenda is pointless. If NE gets the legislative and economic emphasis that gives it a level playing field, it can thrive.

    With and without the blessings of New Energy assets, the states that Clean Edge calls the leaders have three things in common beyond simply giving New Energy high priority: (1) Strong commitments to Energy Efficiency (EE), (2) a range of policies that require and drive the growth of NE and EE, and (3) university, research and development institutions committed to innovation.

    click to enlarge

    After establishing a framework for what will effectively grow a state’s New Energy economy, Clean Edge took a detailed look at Massachusetts. It is a state with modest sun, wind mainly only off its coast and undistinguished geothermal and hydrokinetic resources. Clean Edge identified Massachusetts’ strengths and weaknesses and formulated a list of nine key actions. They were sculpted to Massachusetts' unique characteristics but will, in a more generalized way, turn any state into that New Energy economy powerhouse:

    (1) Establish a center that focuses on research, development and deployment of EE and get a Department of Energy (DOE) laboratory for the state.
    (2) Create aggressive NE and EE financial incentives.
    (3) Establish a Green Bank-like institution to make financing of NE and EE projects more readily accessible.
    (4) Create routes for NE and EE R&D to be deployed and get commercialized.
    (5) Make it possible for EE improvements to be reimbursed through utility bill credits.
    (6) Make EE building standards and regulations more demanding.
    (7) Get the permitting of NE and EE projects done more quickly and easily.
    (8) Push for a national policy to cut greenhouse gas emissions (GhGs).
    (9) Design all policies to enhance the state's resource strengths.

    click to enlarge

    THE DETAILS
    The Top 15 New Energy economy states in the Clean Edge ranking were California (CA), Massachusetts (MA), Oregon (OR), Colorado (CO), New Jersey (NJ), Connecticut (CT), New York (NY), Maryland (MD), Washington (WA), Minnesota (MN), Arizona (AZ), Illinois (IL), Florida (FL), Pennsylvania (PA) and Texas (TX).

    Despite its relatively modest New Energy (NE) assets, Massachusetts has made itself the second-ranked state.

    After making NE a high priority, the state moved quickly to build Energy Efficiency (EE). It also made a serious evaluation of its strengths and weaknesses.

    Massachusetts’ strengths and assets:
    (1) Led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard, it has academic, R&D and innovation resources second to none.
    (2) It has policies that reflect a serious commitment to EE.
    (3) It has a state government and state policies that are committed to NE and EE.
    (4) A rich state, it has significant capabilities to make venture funding available for worthy projects.
    (5) Because NE and EE have high upfront costs, they are able to compete more quickly in states like Massachusetts where high energy demand makes marginal supplies more valuable and high energy costs make the initial NE and EE costs less significant.
    (6) The state’s academic institutions give it a highly educated workforce.
    (7) The highly educated workforce tends to be inclined toward NE and EE.

    click to enlarge
    click to enlarge

    Massachusetts’ Weaknesses and Barriers:
    (1) The state is an expensive place to live and start a business.
    (2) There are gaps between innovation and commercialization in Massachusetts.
    (3) Massachusetts has limited NE assets.
    (4) The tradition of local administration magnifies delays in permitting and Not-In-My-BackYard (NIMBY)-ism.
    (5) The financial community is especially old, established and risk-averse.
    (6) There is no national energy laboratory like Colorado’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) or Washington’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).
    (7) Long a post-industrial state economy, Massachusetts lacks NE and EE manufacturing infrastructure.

    Innovative NE and EE businesses spawned by Massachusetts’ strong research sector: A123 Systems (advanced electric vehicle batteries), EnerNOC (EE/demand-side management), Konarka (organic PV), Beacon Power (flywheels), and General Compression (large-scale compressed air energy storage, CAES)

    click to enlarge

    Clean Edge concluded that Massachusetts’ advantages are best suited to a focus on EE, solar and energy storage.

    Its advantage in EE comes from the demand for it. The state has (1) an extreme climate, (2) high energy costs, and (3) lots of old, inefficient buildings. It therefore generates lots of megawatts in its buildings sector and can generate lots of negawatts there. State policies show that Massachusetts’ insightful leaders have already been convinced of what its smart populace will quickly see: Investment in EE pays off at the rate of $2-to-$3 dollars returned for every dollar spent.

    That the state should concentrate on solar is not so obvious but it is the most abundant New Energy resource and the one most ripe for lucrative innovation. Many important solar efficiency advances have alread been pioneered by Massachusetts’ high tech sector. Moreover, it only takes sunlight, not heat, to make solar PV viable. In fact, PV is more efficient in sunny but cooler weather. Finally, the population’s quick subscription to the state’s previous solar incentives demonstrates its progressive thinkers want more solar.

    Advanced energy storage is sometimes referred to as a New Energy “holy grail.” There is no doubt the sector craves a major breakthrough that will make it possible to store the abundance of the sun for when it is not shining and the power of the wind for when it is not blowing. Among the most important energy storage breakthroughs to date have been made by Massachusetts companies like A123 Systems, Boston-Power, Evercel, General Compression, Premium Power, and others that evolved from academic research into business ventures. These companies form a Silicon Valley-like innovation “cluster” for storage on which Massachusetts can build.

    click to enlarge

    More on the 9 recommendations:

    (1) Establish a center that focuses on research, development and deployment of EE and get a Department of Energy (DOE) laboratory for the state: Massachusetts wants one of the three Energy Efficient Building Systems Design Energy Innovation Hubs DOE announced in December 2009 it would create as the core of a $129.7 million federal Energy Regional Innovation Cluster. Such a facility dovetails perfectly with the state’s EE and braintrust strengths.

    (2) Create aggressive NE and EE financial incentives: The state already added a solar carve-out to its Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) so that a specific portion of its New Energy requirement must come from solar. This also builds on a Massachusetts strength. In addition, Massachusetts could consider a smartly designed feed-in tariff and increased tax credits.

    click to enlarge

    (3) Establish a Green Bank-like institution to make financing of NE and EE projects more readily accessible. It should be modeled on the proposed Clean Energy Deployment Administration (CEDA). Such a lending mechanism is estimated to provide 10- or 20-to-1 leverage so that $10 million of Massachusetts taxpayers’ money could bring in $100 million-to-$200 million in private sector investment.

    (4) Create routes for NE and EE R&D to be deployed and get commercialized: Massachusetts has so much innovation that there is difficulty getting it into the marketplace. The state has already instituted measures to streamline the process and should consider a fulltime technology transfer position to focus entirely on NE and EE innovation deployment.

    click to enlarge

    (5) Make it possible for EE improvements to be reimbursed through utility bill credits: This would make it possible for residential and business ratepayers to afford the high upfront costs for EE improvements by essentially reverse-financing them with their utility bills.

    (6) Make EE building standards and regulations more demanding: California is instituting statewide energy performance scoring (EPS) that would rate buildings as they are marketed and emphasize the value of buildings with better EE. This puts teeth in more demanding EE standards and regulations. Contractors, NE and EE installers could be certified and certified work made mandatory to increase the quality of work done.

    click to enlarge

    (7) Get the permitting of NE and EE projects done more quickly and easily: This is a particularly crucial issue for wind developers. Massachusetts has already moved forward with offshore wind regulations and has onshore wind legislation pending. Utility-scale wind projects must be given the go-ahead without a degree of scrutiny, paperwork and hoop-jumping that sends developers elsewhere.

    (8) Push for a national policy to cut greenhouse gas emissions (GhGs): Massachusetts is already a player in the 10-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) that caps its voluntary members’ GhG emissions and aims to cut their emissions 10% by 2018 through an emissions trading scheme. This kind of initiative is exciting but cannot achieve the highest levels of effectiveness until the entire country participates on a mandatory basis.

    (9) Design all policies to enhance the state's strengths: There is no point fighting for policies that will do no good. For Massachusetts, it’s EE, solar PV and energy storage. For Midwestern states, it’s wind. For Southwestern states, it’s utility-scale solar power plants. For Southeastern states, it’s EE.

    The Clean Edge report was prepared for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC).

    click to enlarge

    QUOTES
    - Authority on Massachusetts to Clean Edge, describing a significant state NE and EE advantage: “We have a lot of smart people.”

    - From the Clean Edge report: “…innovation doesn't only occur in university research labs or corporate conference rooms. Governments can also innovate, especially regarding relatively new sectors like clean energy, and Massachusetts' public leaders and policymakers have done that. Governor Deval Patrick, Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles, and Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Philip Giudice all earn generally high marks for leadership…The Global Warming Solutions Act, the Green Communities Act, and the Green Jobs Act (creating the MassCEC) lead a healthy list of leading-edge, aggressive policy initiatives. The state's leadership in the Northeast states' Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), arguably the most successful cap-and-trade systems for carbon emissions in the U.S., has also been exemplary…”

    click to enlarge

    - From the Clean Edge report: “Clean energy is a highly diverse industry and no one state or region can lead in all of its sectors. The best strategy is to pick your strengths and focus policies and resources on those. Massachusetts’ three key areas of focus should be energy efficiency, solar PV including thin-film, and advanced batteries/energy storage. Although the state should seek to attract and retain manufacturing where possible, it should mainly focus on extending its leadership as a hub of research breakthroughs and innovation excellence in clean-energy technologies and business models. This globally influential, innovation-centric approach will continue to create high-level scientific, technical, and business management jobs, as well as thousands of green collar jobs in installing, operating, and maintaining these technologies.”

    1 Comments:

    At 5:40 PM, Blogger Ron Wagner said...

    A very nice article, but new found natural gas must be taken into the equation. It will be competing with other forms of energy. It is as clean as anything. Unless you are one who is concerned about CO2. It is more politically acceptable than offshore wind turbines, which I also endorse.

     

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