NewEnergyNews: 02/01/2010 - 03/01/2010

NewEnergyNews

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

The challenge: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

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

  • THE STUDY: THE AFFORDABILITY OF THE NEW ENERGY TRANSITION
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 28: WIND BOOMS AS ‘MOST AFFORDABLE ENERGY OPTION’; OBSTACLES AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR BIG SOLAR; GEOTHERMAL COMING BACK
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    GET THE DAILY HEADLINES EMAIL: CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR SEND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: THE HEALTH IN EMISSIONS CUTS
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 27: NEW ENERGY OVER 40% OF U.S. NEW BUILD IN 2014; EMPLOYEE BENEFITS NOW INCLUDE SOLAR; WIND BRINGS JOBS TO MICHIGAN
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

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

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

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

  • TTTA Thursday-EVANGELICALS IN ‘CREATION CARE’ CLIMATE FIGHT
  • TTTA Thursday-ADVANCED WIND-MAKERS MAKANI, SHEERWIND READY DEMOS
  • TTTA Thursday-TEA PARTY BACKS SOLAR, ATTACKS UTILITY MONOPOLIES
  • TTTA Thursday-WHAT DRIVERS DON’T KNOW HOLDS BACK THE FUTURE
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, is a biweekly contributor to NewEnergyNews

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

    November 26, 2013 (Huffington Post via NewEnergyNews)

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

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

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

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

    2013-11-05-FigureES4_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

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

    2013-11-05-Table_ES2_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    2013-11-05-Figure_ES2_FULL.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Anne's previous NewEnergyNews columns:

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

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

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    Your intrepid reporter

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      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

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    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

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  • Sunday, February 28, 2010

    JAPAN, GERMANY & SPAIN INVADE BRITAIN FOR WIND AND WATER

    Mitsubishi to build £100m UK wind turbine factory; Government aim of making Britain a centre of green manufacturing win a major boost from plans that will create hundreds of jobs
    Terry Macallister, 25 February 2010 (UK Guardian)

    "Moves to create a green manufacturing hub in Britain were given a major boost…when one of the world's leading wind turbine manufacturers unveiled plans to spend £100m building a new factory in the north-east…The proposal by Japan's Mitsubishi, which will create hundreds of clean-tech jobs, came as Siemens of Germany bought a stake in Marine Current Turbines, a UK-based tidal energy firm…And a Spanish-owned group, FCC, said it planned to spend another £100m building wind turbines on some of the dozens of waste recycling plants it controlled in Britain through a local subsidiary.

    "Lord Mandelson said the Mitsubishi investment, coming on top of a similar recent investment by Clipper Windpower of the US [in a factory to make the largest wind turbine blade in the world], gave the UK a real opportunity to become a world leader in the sector…Mitsubishi's chief executive, Akio Fukui, said the firm was looking at a number of locations in the north-east. A prototype turbine will be built within three years and the first full-scale production could start after four years…"


    With all this approved and planned wind to build, the manufacturers will have plenty of work for the UK labor force. (click to enlarge)

    "The need for this kind of move was underlined by Sam Laidlaw, chief executive of Centrica, who said that it could spend up to £7.5bn by 2020 on wind operations, but stressed the economic conditions would have to be favourable. The company, which has won rights to build offshore wind farms in the Irish Sea under the recent third round of licensing, made it clear that the costs of equipment would need to fall.

    "The
    British Wind Energy Association [BWEA] said the investments were exciting proof that the rest of the world was taking Britain's renewable energy programme seriously…[It means]…the rebirth of manufacturing in the UK, with an estimated 70,000 green-collar jobs to be created on the back of over £100bn of private sector investment…"

    The UK has been and continues to slowly, steadily build what has become the most important wind sector in Europe. (click to enlarge)

    "…FCC plans to spend up to £100m installing up to a total of 80 megawatts of wind turbines at some of the 100 landfill sites it owns through its Waste Recycling Group subsidiary across Britain. FCC already has 533MW of wind capacity installed across Spain, Austria and Britain.

    "Greenpeace noted that the investment by Mitsubishi was particularly notable because the company was also a pillar of the atomic engineering world…[signaling the UK energy sector is moving to wind]…"

    CHINA’S LIGHT

    China's shining light in the energy challenge
    February 22, 2010 (China Daily via Xinhua)

    "…[Peng Xiaofeng, 34-year-old modest and quietly spoken chairman and chief executive officer of LDK Solar, one of China's leading solar energy companies]…insists solar energy will provide 60 per cent of the world's energy supply in 100 years…[and] will eclipse coal, gas and oil in the 22nd century…[H]e believes people consistently underrate this natural form of new energy.

    "China's solar power usage currently barely registers…Because of their current marginal status, it is all too easy to dismiss new energy sources…The Chinese government, however, wants 20 percent of the country's power to be from renewable energy (of which hydro will be a major part) by 2020…Peng insists people fail to realize existing energy sources, oil in particular, are going to run out…"


    click to enlarge

    "LDK has had something of a torrid time itself recently. Its shares on the New York Stock Exchange initially soared to nearly $70 from their initial flotation price of $27 in 2007 but have since slumped to just a tenth of their peak value at around $7…With Peng owning around 70 per cent of the equity of the company, this has put a considerable dent in his personal fortune…In December, the company went back to the NYSE and has raised a further $122 million…[D]espite stock market nerves the company is still the world's largest maker of solar wafers and has increased its global market share from 11 percent in 2008 to 18 percent now…

    "…Xinyu…in Jiangxi province is now known as 'Solar Power City'…Around 80 percent of LDK's 14,000 employees are from the city itself. The presence of LDK has also generated a cluster of other companies from processing raw materials to all other aspects of solar power engineering…LDK has also established schools to train people to work in the solar power industry and it has also contributed towards the city's infrastructure…"


    click to enlarge

    "Peng, who likes to be referred to by his nickname "Light", comes from a rural area…In 1997, with China products now in demand throughout the world his timing to start a business couldn't have been better…Suzhou Liouxin Industrial Group, began to locally manufacture and sell protective products such as safety gloves…The business was a spectacular success, soon hitting sales of $7m and within a few years $200m…Then came the idea to move into solar power, which was inspired by a trip to Europe…

    "…He spotted there was a shortage in China of companies producing multi-crystalline wafers, the light sensitive tiles which capture light and turn it into usable energy…He decided to invest $30 million of his own money to launch the business in 2005…China is now one of the major world centers for solar power…Apart from LDK, Suntech…is a leading player, as is GLC-Poly…The future of solar power is still dogged by questions about its cost…Peng says the cost is being driven down all the time as the technology improves…Still only in his mid-30s, Peng has every intention of being around when the age of solar power finally dawns…"

    FIRST WIND FOR ALGERIA

    Vergnet wins a 10 MW contract to build the first wind farm in Algeria
    22 February 2010 (PR-USA)

    "Following an international call for tender, VERGNET is delighted to announce that it has been awarded a EUR 24 million contract to build the first wind farm in Algeria.

    "This project is part of a policy of energy diversification in Algeria, a country that is blessed with substantial renewable resources and countless "Farwind" sites…With a capacity of 10 MW, this farm will be built in Adrar, in Southern Algeria, and should be operational in 2012."


    Algeria has wind. (click to enlarge)

    "This contract was awarded by Compagnie de l'engineering de l' électricité et du gaz (CEEG), a subsidiary of the Algerian electricity and gas company SONELGAZ… The VERGNET group will be responsible for designing, manufacturing and installing this farm, which will comprise 10 1 MW GEV HP wind turbines.

    "The terms of the project allow for a period of 23 months from the coming into force of the contract, which should take place in the near future…"


    click to enlarge

    "VERGNET SA was founded in 1988 by its current CEO, Marc Vergnet, a leading figure in sustainable development…VERGNET is the leading manufacturer in its two business areas: designing and manufacturing wind turbines for the FARWIND® market, and water supply equipment for Africa.

    "…[T]he Group has installed nearly 600 FARWIND® wind turbines to date, and supplies water to over 40 million people all over the world…[It] is accelerating its growth with the development of a new generation of 1 MW wind turbines…"

    ROMANIA PROTECTING THE EU’S CAP&TRADE

    Romania bans OTC emissions trading to combat fraud
    Lianna Brinded, 24 February 2010 (Risk.net)

    "Romanian authorities have banned European Union carbon emissions allowances (EUA) in the over-the-counter derivatives market to prevent EUA tax fraud, after ruling that these contracts are now classed as equity securities and therefore can only be bought and sold on an exchange.

    "The National Securities Commission (CNVM), Romania's securities regulator announced that foreign traders of EUAs will now need to comply with the provisions of the Romanian capital market legislation and will therefore need to join an exchange."


    The Big Board of emissions trading. (click thru for more data)

    "The Sibiu Monetary Financial and Commodities Exchange, Romania's only market on which greenhouse gases emissions certificates can be traded, confirmed that the legal provisions are in place…A poll of several market traders who want to remain anonymous said although market participants are "upset" over the rule change, it will not affect prices in the wider European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), as the Romanian market is still very small…

    "Starting with December 2009, Sibiu Exchange launched the CO2 2008–2012 futures contract, representing the equivalent of 100 greenhouse gases emissions certificates (100 tonnes of CO2 emissions). The Sibiu Exchange has 38 authorised members (investment firms and commercial banks), its price is expressed in RON and it is not a value-added-tax (VAT) carrier…"


    click to enlarge

    "The regulation change follows the latest round of VAT fraud, where four people had been formally charged by the Belgian authorities for laundering €3 million worth of transactions, in an investigation into fraudulent trading in carbon emissions permits…VAT carousel fraud occurs when goods are imported VAT-free then sold on to domestic buyers at a price that includes VAT. The perpetrators then disappear without paying the tax to the government.

    "In December 2009, the European police agency Europol reported that the EU ETS had fallen victim to fraudulent trading activities over the past 18 months, worth €5 billion…[I]n some countries, up to 90% of the whole market volume was caused by fraudulent activities…[EU] governments and trading exchanges have taken steps to try to combat fraudulent carbon trading practices…In separate fraudulent activity, the German Emissions Trading Authority (DEHSt) revealed at the beginning of this month that computer hackers used a technique called phishing…to obtain sensitive information…Market participants were worried they could be holding fraudulent EUAs, following the hack."

    UK TO BATHE WITH SUN

    Solar water heaters come to the boil as cash incentive is dangled; Payments of £400 a year offered to far-sighted households, but you'll need a south-facing roof
    Miles Brignall, 20 February 2010 (UK Guardian)

    "Government incentives are about to make solar water heating panels a financial no-brainer for millions of households across Britain, as long as they have a south-facing roof.

    "…[T]he installation cost [of solar panels] – at around £12,500 – will put many people off. Less off-putting are solar water heating systems, which cost some £4,000-£5,500 for a typical 2kW system and are likely to pay an annual return of around £500 for the next 20 years…[T]he Renewable Heat Incentive and will come into force in April next year. It is aimed at encouraging far-sighted households to install technologies such as ground or air source heat pumps, biomass boilers and – the one likely to appeal to the greatest number of homes – solar thermal water heaters…You can install it now…[and] get the incentive payments – expected to be around £400 a year – in 14 months."


    click to enlarge

    "Solar thermal systems use solar collecting panels to absorb heat from the sun. The hot water is then pumped to a storage cylinder to heat its contents. Ideally you need a south facing roof – south-east or south-west works too…Solar thermal panels should provide most of your hot water from April to September and contribute to raising your water temperature during the remaining months, while saving you up to £100 a year on bills. Solar panels are compatible with most hot water systems, although you may need a cylinder big enough to hold two days' worth of hot water…

    "To get the "clean energy payments" as they are being termed, you have to fulfil certain criteria. You will only get the money if your system has been installed by a Microgeneration Certification Scheme approved installer, which is controversial because many small installing firms that have built successful renewables businesses are not MCS approved. In the past it has been expensive to become accredited…"


    click to enlarge

    "...[T]his also appears to rule out the £400-a-year payments for those who are building their own systems. Many of the 100,000 solar water heaters already being used in UK homes are home-built affairs. Also if you installed your system before July of last year, you will not be entitled to the payments…

    "…[I]f you have the money and a suitable roof or other place to site your panels, you can start planning your installation. Given that the DECC has yet to finalise how it is all going to work, and there's the possibility of a change of government in May, it may be worth waiting a few months before you sign on the dotted line. That said, the Conservatives have indicated they support the policy, so you can start getting the brochures and working out if it works for you…"

    Saturday, February 27, 2010

    Don’t Close Your Eyes

    This award-winning little animation - a meditation on future Winter Olympics Games - has simplicity and power. Besides talent and maturity, its 15-year-old filmmaker has the wisdom to see it is time to take personal responsibility. From UnepAndYou via YouTube

    Tehachapi And The Power Of Wind

    The answer to the preceeding animation is a wordless 1-minute visit to the Tehachapi Mountains, where California is just beginning to build one of the most remarkable renewable energy zones (REZ) in the nation. From TopDown33 via YouTube

    This Land Is Your Land

    Today’s final video is for all the incredible folks – on the wind turbines in the cold and the rooftops in the sun and the halls of power everywhere – working to make this a little bit better place to live. Many are, these days, fighting back discouragement and despair because a bunch of loud fossil fools are so afraid of the future they can’t see the climate changing before their very eyes. Listen to what Arlo says: Those fools are making it easier for you. From totallycooltv via YouTube

    Friday, February 26, 2010

    UTILITY BACKS SUN

    A Utility Will Help Homeowners Go Solar
    Todd Woody, February 25, 2010 (NY Times)

    "TXU Energy, a Texas utility with two million customers, is making it possible for homeowners in the Dallas area to lease or buy rooftop solar-power systems in one of the first programs of its kind.

    "The energy provider… signed a deal with SolarCity, a Silicon Valley start-up that finances and installs residential rooftop arrays, to manage the initiative."


    click to enlarge

    "Homeowners will sign up for the TXU Energy Solar Program through the utility and SolarCity will design and install the solar-panel systems. Under the lease program, the owner of a three-to-four-bedroom house would typically pay about $35 a month after tax incentives…

    "SolarCity retains ownership of the photovoltaic arrays and responsibility for their maintenance. The solar-power system could be bought outright for about $26,000…SolarCity will pay a referral fee to TXU Energy for each system leased or sold…"


    click thru to learn more about SolarCity

    "The program will initially be limited because of a small solar rebate program offered by Oncor, a company that operates utility infrastructure in Texas. (The state has a deregulated utility system with separate electric infrastructure companies like Oncor and electricity retailers like TXU Energy)…Oncor offers a rebate of $2.46 a watt up to $24,600 for a residential solar installation. Funds are currently available to include about 400 homes in the program…

    "Mr. Rive said Texas’s abundant sunshine, high air-conditioning costs and huge subdivisions make the state a natural solar market…"

    THE FUTURE OF GREAT LAKES WIND IS DEEP WATERS

    The Debate Over Wind Farms In The Great Lakes
    John Krohn, 25 February 2010 (Michigan Policy Network)

    "…In Michigan, one of our most promising options for renewable energy is electricity generating wind turbines…Michigan has the potential for 16, 560 Megawatts of wind energy, making us the biggest stakeholder in wind energy east of the Mississippi River…Wind energy will last as long as the earth's atmosphere is in place, emits no greenhouse gases, and the average wind turbine generates enough electricity to ‘pay back' its energy cost of production and transportation in a few months. What's not to like?

    "Well, wind energy happens to be generated with turbines on top of very tall towers…These turbines stick out in a natural landscape…[Though] it is widely held that the environmental advantages of displacing fossil fuels as an energy source far outweigh the localized damage to flying fauna, the sight and sound of wind turbines has some Michigan residents up in arms over proposals to establish wind ‘farms' off the coast of Lake Michigan…even if they support the move to renewable energy. It's a classic case of 'not in my back yard!'"


    The assets are enormous. (click to enlarge)

    "Policy makers are now scrambling to lay down guidelines for how this rapidly expanding industry will be regulated. Senate bill 1067 compels the Michigan public service commission to create rules and procedures for the permitting, site selection, and fee regulation of offshore wind farms…[providing that] the needs and wants of wind energy developers must not infringe on the needs and wants of the rest of the Lake's stakeholders…House bill 5761 amends the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act to provide for a public notice and comment/review process before any aspect of wind farm infrastructure can be developed. In this way, the public has a venue in which to voice their concerns with any proposed wind farm development."

    The cost to develop the deep waters will pay off. (click to enlarge)

    "Many people who currently oppose near-shore wind farms would happily approve of wind farms that were placed…out of sight from the shore…[T]hese farms would need to be at least six miles offshore, significantly increasing the costs of constructing, maintaining, and transmitting energy from the site. Still, the initial investment will no doubt be considered worth it by some firms looking to profit from the massive potential Michigan's wind resources offer…[and stakeholders would be] able to continue enjoying the lakes…[S]ince the six mile limit is not explicitly legislated, some communities could elect to attract wind energy investment to their area by being willing to approve construction of infrastructure much closer….

    "Though both pieces of legislation were introduced by Republicans, this is not really a partisan issue. Democrats and Republicans alike tend to be opposed to massive projects that they perceive will have a direct, negative impact on their lives. In some towns…virtually the entire community has come out in opposition to wind farms sited within sight of the shore. The future of wind farms, particularly offshore, in Michigan remains to be seen. As of now, both pieces of legislation are in committee. I am hopeful that in the end, wind power can and will provide a significant portion of Michigan's energy needs, and the impacts on tourism, fisheries, bird populations, and that all-important sunset view will be minimized. Only time will tell."

    BIG MONEY PICKS OCEAN ENERGY WINNER

    Siemens Invests in Marine Current Turbines
    25 February 2010 (Marine Current Turbines)

    "…[Multinational energy giant] Siemens has invested in [Marine Current Turbines] alongside the Carbon Trust, High Tide and other private investors…[T]his latest funding brings the total investment in Marine Current Turbines over the past two months to £8.5million. Investors in the first round included Bank Invest, Carbon Trust, EDF Energy and High Tide.

    "Lord Hunt, Minister of State for the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change welcomed the new £4.8million funding round…The total funding will help Marine Current Turbines (MCT) in its plans to deploy the UK’s first commercial tidal energy farm in UK waters within the next two years. SeaGen, the company’s world-leading prototype commercial tidal energy turbine, has already exceeded 1,000 hours of operation in Northern Ireland’s Strangford Lough, a first for any marine energy device…"


    Seagen (click to enlarge)

    [René Umlauft, Renewable Energy Division CEO, Siemens Energy:] “With this investment in an early stage company we’re securing access to an innovative technology…Marine Current Turbines is a suitable partner for us to enter the promising ocean power market.”

    A Seagen array (click to enlarge)

    [Martin Wright, Managing Director, Marine Current Turbines:] “Siemens’ investment in MCT underlines the significant commercial potential that exists for tidal energy across the globe…[Siemens] will help us develop our technology and deliver tidal energy on a commercial and global basis.”

    [Tom Delay, Chief Executive, Carbon Trust:] “This new deal represents a major vote of confidence in Britain’s marine energy industry…[M]arine energy could over time provide up to 20% of the UK’s electricity…[T]he UK’s powerful wave and tidal resource not only plays a crucial role in meeting our climate change targets but also presents a significant economic opportunity for the UK.”

    W/NEW ENERGY, ELECTRICIANS BECOME ENERGY CONTRACTORS

    The Coming Renaissance of Electrical Contracting
    Houston Neal, February 10, 2010 (Software Advice)

    "In the next ten to twenty years, “electrical contractor” will no longer be a suitable job title for electricians. They will transition into “energy contractors” to support the fast-growing green construction market.

    "We see this as a coming renaissance in electrical contracting…as home owners and corporations adopt alternative methods (e.g. solar, wind, etc) to power buildings. What’s driving this? Federal incentives, lower material costs and savings from reduced energy spending…[T]he American Solar Energy Society projects renewable energy jobs for electricians to grow approximately 900% by 2030, just in the state of Colorado…[E]lectricians will need to “green” their skill-set and re-brand themselves…"


    Inspecting the electrical guts of a wind turbine. (click to enlarge)

    "…[T]rends driving this change [include]…[1] green construction will skyrocket over the next five years…[and] generate $554 billion dollars in GDP, provide $396 billion in labor earnings and support or create over 7.9 million jobs from 2009 to 2013…This growth comes directly from increased demand for green buildings, which is largely driven by cost savings from reduced property operating expenses, and by new regulations from federal legislation…[2]The growing green construction market will create new demand for electricians…[and] electricians will need to diversify their skill-set…[to work] solar photovoltaic and wind turbine installations…building retrofits, mass transit and light rail projects, “smart” electrical grid transmission systems and more…

    "…[W]e expect electricians to…[a] [be doing lighting] system upgrades…[in] 2.2 million commercial buildings in the U.S. that have antiquated lighting systems…[including] all federal buildings…[if it requires] the expertise and skill of electrical contractors…[b] [installing parking] lot electrical outlets…to charge electric vehicles…[c] [A] typical 250-person wind turbine manufacturing company has two electricians as employees…"


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    "…[d] Jobs for electricians will also emerge in adjacent industries…[E]lectricians will need to be trained in auto mechanics – or auto mechanics will need to be trained in electrical contracting – in order to meet demand for electric vehicle maintenance…[E]lectric vehicle electricians make an average of $39-$59 thousand a year…[e] Projects applying for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) status are growing [rapidly]…[E]lectricians will have an opportunity to win work on these projects…[if they are] versed on credit requirements…[and] a LEED accredited professional (AP)….

    "…With so many opportunities on the horizon, contractors need to make sure they’re ready to win jobs…Both the
    International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) offer education programs…[C]ontractors should market and promote their new green credentials…[and have] up-to-date pricing information on materials and labor. Good electrical estimating software will have specific capabilities to estimate solar panel installations and other types of renewable energy jobs…"

    ALGAE ARE THE GOOD BIOFUEL SOURCE

    Putting In a Good Word for Algae
    James Kanter, February 23, 2010 (NY Times)

    "…[The European Algae Biomass Association weighed in] on a fierce debate over the environmental value of using algae to produce biofuels for vehicles… [M]embers of its scientific committee…[think] the commercial production of algae biofuels…[will have a] positive carbon footprint and…[reduce] CO2 emission in European transport, including aviation…

    "…[A] consortium called Aquafuels [will] deliver a report in the coming months offering a…scientific assessment of algae-based biofuels…[their] sustainability and increased carbon efficiency…The Brussels-based association said its scientific committee included experts from major universities and scientists in the field of algae biomass."


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    "Proponents claim that algae, like some crops grown for fuel, would reduce emission because it absorbs carbon dioxide while it grows. They want algae-based fuels eventually to qualify for use toward volume-based targets for using biofuels in the European Union.

    "There is currently no algae-based biofuel commercially available in Europe."


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    "Opponents say the benefits of using algae are unproved. They point to a recent study showing that the need for additives, in particular fertilizer, would give algae an unfavorable carbon footprint.

    "The United States government in January handed out more than $80 million in stimulus money for biofuels research, much of which will be focused on algae research."

    Thursday, February 25, 2010

    UH, THERE ARE A COUPLE OF THINGS ABOUT THAT “CLEAN” COAL…

    CO2 sequestration isn't practical
    Michael J. Economides, February 20, 2010 (Casper Star-Tribune)
    and
    CO2 Capture and Storage Gains a Growing Foothold; The drive to extract and store CO2 from coal-fired power plants is gaining momentum, with the Obama administration backing the technology and the world’s first capture and sequestration project now operating in the U.S. Two questions loom: Will carbon capture and storage be affordable? And will it be safe?
    David Biello, 18 Februqry 2010 (Yale 360)
    and
    DOE Publishes Best Practices Manual for Public Outreach and Education for Carbon Storage Projects; New Publication Aims to Facilitate Project Success, Boost Effectiveness of Outreach Efforts
    January 13, 2010 (U.S. Department of Energy)

    SUMMARY
    It would be so great if they came up with a way to really make coal clean. Or if they figured out how to make dirt clean.

    It would be such a relief, if there was a practical, cost-effective way to do it, to give coal’s obstinates their heads and tell them to go worship the past by burning all the black rocks they want but just stay out of the way of the New Energy future.

    As David Biello details in CO2 Capture and Storage Gains a Growing Foothold, the coal industry is ignoring good reasons not to and bulling ahead with its plans to dig and destroy and spew. Despite the heroic efforts of the No New Coal Plants activists in the Climate Justice coalition (perhaps the most determined and effective grassroots movement since the Sons of Liberty threw the Boston Tea Party), the coal industry’s built and planned plants in this past decade will emit more spew in the next quarter century than has been emitted since the 1751 birth of the Industrial Age.

    In the face of this determined growth by Big Coal, it is easy to understand why the leaders of industrial countries around the world are willing to spend whatever it takes to make the myth of “clean” coal – also known as carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) – into a reality. But “clean coal” is one of those dreamed-of things that there isn't enough money to buy.

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    The myth of “clean” coal probably goes back to the oil industry’s pumping of captured carbon dioxide (CO2) into failing wells to flush out more oil. This was a limited practice and rarely – not never, but rarely – resulted in the gas escaping from the deep oil-harboring pockets into which it was forcefully pumped. The procedure made the whole coal-to-electricity process a little more profitable. But no cleaner.

    Someone, probably one of the old oil wildcatters whose drilling typically came in perhaps 1 in 10 times, took the idea to more coal companies. They decided paying the drillers to put CO2 into unproductive wells was a good way to get rid of it.

    Flush with the thrill of a “solution” that made burning fossil fuels more lucrative for both oil and coal, the industries shared their joy with the many Congressmen and Senators they owned. Soon, the halls of power were ringing with joyous bipartisanship as climate change-concerned politicians saw something they could tout as an answer to the problem of greenhouse gases.

    Campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industries went out on both sides of the aisles and never afterward was muttered a mention about the future of coal that didn’t include the phrase “with carbon capture and storage” or "with CCS." The coal industry’s lobby liked the concept of "clean" coal so much they decided to keep promising it to Congress even after they concluded it was too expensive to ever actually happen.

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    It is easy for wishful politicians to assume that because some limited and relatively untested CCS has been done profitably, it will get better and cheaper at commercial scales. The key word there is “assume” which, as everyone knows, is made of up of the syllables “ass” and “you” and “me.”

    The first problem is capturing the unimaginably enormous quantities of CO2 produced to feed Western society’s insatiable appetite for electricity everyday. But there is technology to do it. Make no mistake: it can be done. It would probably come close to doubling the price of the electricity (OK, a 40% increase, according to one reliable study, from $63 per megawatt-hour to $103 per megawatt-hour), but it CAN be done.

    Even assuming the plan to use not only oil wells but deep geologic formations to store the captured CO2 is workable, the world would need to build a pipeline system the size of the one now used to move oil to move the captured spew to the storage sites (and, no, oil’s pipelines won’t do, CCS would require its own transport). The cost of building such a pipeline system would add enormously to the price of power and the time it would take to build would leave coal plants emitting into the air for decades.

    At this point, the coal would be "clean" – except, of course, for (1) the environmental disaster of mining it and (2) the other toxins besides CO2 that escape into the air and the groundwater when it is burned to poison wildlife and deform the unborn. The "only" problem with for "clean" coal remaining is keeping it safely in the holes in the ground where humankind, answering its lowest animal instincts, has chosen to stick its waste.

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    Funny thing about those holes in the ground: A brand new study by none other than oil industry experts finds it would take a hole the size of a small U.S. state to contain the emissions of a single 500 megawatt coal plant. The U.S. uses 800 GIGAWATTS per year of CO2-emitting power.

    Time to admit Puerto Rico and Guam into the union because if the U.S. can pull together 1,600 small states with useable geologic sequestration underneath them, it will have enough space to store its spew. One year.

    Sequestering Carbon Dioxide in a Closed Underground Volume, presented to the Society of Petroleum Engineers by M.J. Economides of the University of Houston and Christine Ehlig-Economides of Texas A&M University , took a closer look at the rates and volumes necessary to inject huge quantities of CO2 into those holes in the ground. Economides called the conclusions “…quite negative and, in fact, sobering.”

    To safely sequester CO2 in a closed system the volume of liquid (CO2 has to be compressed from a gas to a liquid to move it to the sequestration sites) cannot exceed more than about 1 percent of pore space. This means it will require 5-to-20 times more underground hole space than had been previously assumed: “…and it renders geologic sequestration of CO2 a profoundly non-feasible option for the management of CO2 emissions.”

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    It is pretty obvious the Obama administration strategy is to give the coal industry money to do its experiments and let it prove CCS unworkable. The danger of this strategy is that early CCS projects could appear more financially successful if the coal companies offset their costs selling byproducts for things like fertilizer and concrete fill.

    But there are only so many markets for byproducts, whereas the generation of electricity for modern civilization – like rust – never stops. Early CCS pilot projects may make the technology seem expensive but financially feasible, only to be revealed unworkable after spending for a fleet of projects wins approval from gullible politicians led down the garden path by the coal lobby.

    Somebody needs to get busy figuring out how to explain to political leaders lost in the dream of an easy answer (and to a desperate industry uncompromisingly committed to saving itself) that, yes, this thing you are trying to do can be done on a small scale but, by the time you do it in a big enough way, it will cost so much and leave you with so many other problems that it just isn’t worth doing anymore.

    Dreams die hard. But, as Bob Dylan once observed, as long as you’re dreaming you’re still asleep. Which is why anti-coal activists around the world are screaming “WAKE UP!”

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    COMMENTARY
    Both the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and President Obama have voiced the hope for “clean” coal as a means to the greenhouse gas emissions reductions of ~25% by 2020 and 80+% by 2050 the world needs to achieve to prevent the worst impacts of global climate change.

    The coal industry’s determination may be as strong as the heroic movement trying to stop it. The plants it built or planned from 2000-to-2010 will emit 660 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, substantially more than the 524 billion metric tons emitted since 1751, the nominal beginning of the Industrial Age.

    The Obama administration has indicated it intends to get at least five “clean” coal demonstration projects started by the time it leaves office in 2016.

    Technology now exists to remove CO2 emissions from coal-burning power plants but the questions of price and safety remain unanswered. The uneasy response of people who live in areas proposed as deep geologic sequestration sites has heretofore been substantiated only by isolated incidences of harmful leakage. The Economides/Economides-Ehlig paper substantiates the unease with concrete numbers and scientific fact.

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    Indications of the scale of new technology required and the prohibitive costs installing it would necessitate: The vaunted Mountaineer trial project stores less than 2% of the more than 500,000 metric tons of CO2 it creates monthly. It is asking for $334 million in federal funds to scale it up enough to capture 20% of its emissions. 5 times that to capture all the emissions means ~$1.6 billion. 600 times that for all the U.S. coal plants? Not even worth doing the math.

    How accurate is the Mountaineer example? The controversial Futuregen pilot project, abandoned by the Bush administration in 2008 because of cost, is once again set to be funded by a public-private partnership and will likely cost $1.5 billion (for a small coal plant). U.S. Department of Energy estimates put the cost of “clean” coal electricity from Futuregen at $103 per megawatt-hour. Standard “cheap and dirty” coal presently competes with wind at $63 per megawatt hour.

    “Clean” coal proponents claim they can get the cost down to $73 per megawatt-hour. No comment. As a result of such ambitions, more U.S. experiments with “clean” coal are in the works.

    Oklahoma-based Tenaska intends to build a $3.5 billion IGCC power plant in Taylorsville, Ill., equipped to capture 50% of the CO2 emitted. The Erora Group plans a comparable project in in Henderson County, Ky. The Southern Company will install amine scrubbers, a different technology to capture the CO2, at power plant near Mobile, Ala. And Duke Energy may install equipment to capture 18% of the CO2 at a planned Edwardsport, Ind., 630 megawatt, $2.35 billion IGCC plant.

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    The enthusiasm has spread through the IPCC to Europe. France just brought online the oxyfuel combustion capture and storage Lacq project in Jurancon, in southeastern France. It will transport ~60,000 metric tons of CO2 per year 17 miles to a depleted natural gas field for storage.

    On the other side of the world, the Chinese government and its largest coal supplier, Australia, will build several demonstration projects. One will be in Beijing and use the amine scrubber technology at a combined heat and power plant. China has also started work on its version of FutureGen, dubbed GreenGen, a 650-megawatt, IGCC plant expected to come online in 2015 and pipe its CO2 to depleted oil fields near the city of Tianjin.

    The enthusiasm about “clean” coal has not spread to the people who will have to live above the holes proposed as sequestration sites. They wonder how safe the idea is.

    click to enlarge

    In the oilfields, there was no effort to catalogue the success of keeping down the CO2 pumped into the ground. As long as it drove oil up, drillers were satisfied. Anecdotally, there were incidences of leakage but no notable harms.

    Most famously, sudden emergences of naturally-occurring volcanic CO2 (similar to geysers like Yellowstone’s Old Faithful) occurred under unfortunate circumstances in Indonesia and Cameroon causing the asphyxiation of hundreds in 3 separate events.

    Monitored sites of captured CO2 injection in the North Sea and Canada show ominous signs. Imaging at Sleipner revealed migration and leakage into the sea has been observed. The Canadian field has also shown leakage, though there is dispute about the cause.

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    The possibility of similar events is very real. No geologist can predict with certainty where the depressurized and re-gasified sequestered CO2 might migrate. Alstom, which has engineered more than one type of CO2 capture and sequestration technology, installed an oxyfuel boiler known as Schwarze Pumpe at a German plant. The people who live over the nearby natural gas field where the Schwarze Pumpe-captured CO2 would be stored have fought and so far stopped the proposed project. Residents of the Dutch town of Barendrecht have similarly stopped a Shell CO2 storage pilot project. Residents worry not only about a deadly leak but the fall-off in property values associated with fears of one, if the ground beneath them were to be pumped up with CO2.

    The companies pumping the CO2 cannot promise it will stay safely where it is sequestered indefinitely though they would remain liable. Insurance companies will not write polices for the technology for longer than 20 years. The only security is government indemnities.

    With the hope of turning public sentiment around, the National Energy Technology Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has compiled Public Outreach and Education for Carbon Storage Projects, a handbook of best practices in the art of soothing the public’s anxieties. Experience at the regional level has taught DOE that public outreach must be part of the project, not because it has anything to do with the project’s success but because without public outreach the project will meet “significant delays, increased costs, and lack of community acceptance…”

    Translation: Give folks a chance to think this cockamamie idea through for themselves and it won't fly.

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    5 months is apparently a long time in coal years: Is it safe to risk taxpayer money by indemnifying the CCS process for the companies doing “clean” coal? On the basis of its experience since October 1, 2009, AEP, the company that has captured 3,000 metric tons of CO2 at the Mountaineer plant and stored it in the nearby Copper Ridge dolomite formation says it is safe to plan on socking away 100,000 metric tons a year in coming years. AEP’s project manager admits there have been ups and downs but is satisfied that with 5 long months experience he can be confident the sequestration process works.

    Yes, it does. So far. And it will continue working safely. Until it doesn’t. Then people will die. It might be this year or in 20 years. It might be at Copper Ridge or somewhere in China.

    And to what end? So the coal industry can survive another few decades? And go on despoiling Appalachia with mountaintop removal mining? And piling up the toxic ash that comes from burning coal?

    The cost of doing “clean” coal will not make coal clean but it will make it expensive. For the same money, New Energy brings minimal environmental impacts, minimal risks and ever renewable sources. Do the math.

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    QUOTES
    - President Barack Obama: “If we can develop the technology to capture the carbon pollution released by coal, it can create jobs and provide energy well into the future…”
    - Monte Atwell, gasification group general manager, General Electric: “[Carbon capture and storage] is going to cost us money…[but that] plant is going to work. Failure is not an option.”
    - Mayor Scott Hill, Racine, Ohio, across the river from the Mountaineer and Sporn power plants: “[The CO2 is] supposed to be better down there [in the geologic structures] than in the air…I wonder what happens long-term... You know, they just tell you what you want to hear.”
    - Philippe Paelinck, director of CO2 business development at Alstom: “Even with the most optimistic [projections] on renewables and nuclear, you still have 60 percent fossil fuels by 2030 with massive emissions…If CCS technology is not accepted by the public, we will not be able to arrive at the necessary levels of emissions — and those are zero for the power sector by 2050.”

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    - Michael Economides, Professor, Cullen College of Engineering at the University of Houston: “…[Previously assumed CO2 injection rates] are totally erroneous…The implications of our work are profound. They show that models that assume a constant pressure outer boundary for reservoirs intended for CO2 sequestration are missing the critical point that the reservoir pressure will build up under injection at constant rate. Instead of the 1-4 percent of bulk volume storability factor indicated prominently in the literature, which is based on erroneous steady-state modeling, our finding is that CO2 can occupy no more than 1 percent of the pore volume and likely as much as 100 times less…The United States has installed over 800 gigawatts (GW) of CO2 emitting coal and natural gas power plants. In applying this to a commercial power plant of just 500 MW…the reservoir would be enormous, the size of a small U.S. state…[T]he work clearly suggests that it is not a practical means to provide any substantive reduction in CO2 emissions…There is no need to research this subject any longer. Let’s try something else.”

    QUICK NEWS, 2-25: ALASKA TOWN LOVES ITS WIND; GIANT TEST FOR CPV IN NM; IPHONE APP FOR EV CHARGING; IOWA TURNS TO ADVANCED ALGAE ETHANOL

    ALASKA TOWN LOVES ITS WIND
    Small wind farm pays big
    Jill Burke, February 23, 2010 (Alaska Dispatch)

    "…[T]he village of Unalakleet, seated on Alaska's northwest coast, celebrated the town's newest energy force -- turbine number six. The awakening of the high-tech wind catcher completes the installation of the town's new wind farm, which has already saved the village tens of thousands of dollars…

    "Since November, Unalakleet has cut utility costs by nearly $55,000 and generated enough electricity to power 86 homes for an entire year…[W]ind energy has significantly reduced carbon dioxide emissions [by the equivalent of more than 580,000 miles of driving, or about 111 one-way trips between Anchorage and Key West, Florida] that would otherwise have been pumped into the atmosphere through more traditional, diesel-only power generation…"


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    "The project's success is due in part to a financial award from the State of Alaska's Renewable Energy Fund. The Alaska Energy Authority, which oversees the $250 million fund designed to lower energy costs for Alaskans, directed $4 million to the Unalakleet wind project. Other regional partners also chipped in, and the result is a six-turbine wind farm, owned by the Unalakleet Valley Electric Cooperative and targeted to reduce the community's energy costs by nearly one third. The Unalakleet project is one of nearly a dozen wind power projects in place statewide.

    "STG Inc. designed and built the farm…Building wind systems in Alaska brings unique challenges. While the impact to the state's remote communities can be huge in terms of cost, the communities actually demand a very small fraction of what turbines are capable of supplying…[and] power grids across the state tend to be small and isolated, which requires a delicate balancing act to ensure systems are stable…[and] integrate both [wind and diesel power] for maximum efficiency, cost savings, and stability…[O]ne way to prevent overload on the wind turbines is to create a way to "dump" any excess energy. In the case of Unalakleet, the wind farm directs extra electricity to water boilers, creating "waste heat" to warm the school gym and some school offices."


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    "Alaska's arctic environment also poses unique challenges for the equipment. Alloys and metals used to build the turbines are designed to withstand the state's harsh, cold climate, the blades are painted black to help absorb heat from the sun -- thus deterring ice buildup -- and the equipment is also treated with a special coating to block bugs, including Alaska's infamous mosquitoes…

    "… Once [Unalakleet’s overhauled] power plant is in place, the wind farm can be more fully utilized…The wind farm was projected to pay for itself after 10 years of use, but if fuel costs rise in the years ahead, the payoff could come much sooner…Meanwhile, STG has more projects online, and says it's looking forward to harnessing even more of the state's raw wind power…"



    GIANT TEST FOR CPV IN NM
    Concentrix Solar Enters the US Market With Megawatt CPV Deployment at a Chevron Facility; Latest Soitec Acquisition Enables Innovative Commercial Solution for Utility-Scale CPV Project
    February 24, 2010 (PR Newswire)

    "Concentrix Solar, a leading supplier of Concentrator Photovoltaic (CPV) systems and a new division of the Soitec Group (Euronext Paris), the world's leading supplier of engineered substrates…has signed a contract with Chevron Technology Ventures for the deployment of a one megawatt (MW) CPV power plant to be installed at a Chevron Mining facility in Questa, New Mexico…and is paving the way to utility-scale CPV projects.

    "Chevron…will install a one megawatt CPV solar power plant using Concentrix Solar's FLATCON(R) technology. This will be the largest CPV installation in the U.S. and one of the largest CPV power plants in the world. The power produced will be sold through a power purchase agreement to the Kit Carson Electric Cooperative…"


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    "…Concentrix Solar already installed a demo system on the University of California San Diego campus. This demonstration tracker, installed in July 2009, confirmed system efficiencies (AC) of 25 percent under full field operating conditions."

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    "Concentrix Solar operates a fully-automated manufacturing line in Freiburg, Germany, which produces high quality, durable CPV modules. The facility has a current capacity of 25 megawatts; further expansion is planned.

    "A FLATCON(R) CPV tracking system has a nominal power output of 6 kilowatts. One megawatt consists of approximately 175 systems, which can be placed in an area of 7 acres…"



    IPHONE APP FOR EV CHARGING
    Coulomb Technologies Announces iPhone App for ChargePoint Networked Charging Stations
    24 February 2010 (Business Wire via EarthTimes)

    "Coulomb Technologies, the leader in electric vehicle charging station infrastructure…announced that the ChargePoint® iPhone App is now available in the iTunes App Store. The ChargePoint iPhone App gives electric vehicle owners the ability to not only easily locate ChargePoint® Networked Charging Stations for electric vehicles anywhere in North America, but see in real time if a charging station is currently available, in use, or out of service. Using the iPhone or iPod Touch, drivers can use the app to start and stop charging sessions, be notified when their vehicle is fully charged, and get directions to stations…"

    Click thru to buy the App

    "Using the ChargePoint iPhone App, EV drivers can now…Find charging stations near any specified address…Get turn-by-turn directions to charging stations…See the real-time availability status of charging stations: Available, In Use, or Out of Service…Start and Stop charging sessions directly from an iPhone…Get directions from current location to where the vehicle is charging…Get status on current or most recent charging session (energy, greenhouse gas savings, time)…Receive real-time notifications of current charging session…"

    Click thru to buy the App and find a charging station

    "Some features require a ChargePoint® Network driver account with an activated ChargePass™ card…[C]reate an account, and purchase or activate a ChargePass card [here]…Coulomb Technologies is a leader in electric vehicle charging station infrastructure with networked charging stations installed worldwide…"


    IOWA TURNS TO ADVANCED ALGAE ETHANOL
    New Clear Lake company promotes algae as biofuel
    John Skipper, February 24, 2010 (Globe Gazette)

    "…[Bud Jermeland, president of Energae LP], said the primary focuses of his [Clear Lake, Iowa] company are waste-based ethanol and the use of algae in the making of ethanol for the nutraceutical and pharmaceutical markets…

    "The company recently purchased a 49 percent share of the Permeate Refining LLC ethanol plant in Hopkinton (Iowa)…That provides Energae with an instant revenue stream to help finance other projects."


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    "The ethanol is waste-based, not corn-based…so the product is not subject to the price swings of the highly-volatile commodity markets…Energae is producing algae in South Carolina that will be used as a low-cost extract for alternative fuels…

    "…[The] company is committed to the fact that algae is the best long-term solution for cost-efficient biofuels and biodiesel in particular…He said another possibility for algae use is to grow pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals…"


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    "Jon Alexandres of Tallahassee, Fla., a former Mason City businessman, did research on the algae project and helped raise $4 million to build a complete-algae producing system in South Carolina…Jerry Krause, longtime Clear Lake businessman…is the investor relations officer for Energae…Krause said the company has 260 investors and has room for more. Minimum investment is $5,000."

    [Bud Jermeland, president, Energae LP:] “We are committed to the fact that algae is the best long-term solution for biofuels - biodiesel in particular…The possibilities for algae continue to evolve…When gas and diesel prices were at $4 a gallon, alternative fuel projects generated more interests and incentives…We continue to search for the least cost, most efficient oil extraction methods. That alone is the key to a successful green fuel project involving algae.”

    Wednesday, February 24, 2010

    GETTING TO ENERGY EFFICIENCY WITH 2 LITTLE MAGIC WORDS (DEMAND RESPONSE)

    Coordination of Energy Efficiency and Demand Response; A Resource of the National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency
    Charles Goldman, Michael Reid, Roger Levy and Alison Silverstein, January 2010 (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

    SUMMARY
    Here’s how to be super cool in Silicon Valley: Mutter the words “demand response” or, better yet, the acronym “DR.” Wait for somebody to start talking about Energy Efficiency (somebody will) and then say “demand side management” or its acronym, “DSM.”

    The more the cost of electricity rises, the more the electricity-devouring Silicon Valley high tech companies become energy conscious. Google recently got permission from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to become a utility just so it can exercise more control over its energy mix, add more New Energy to its supply and implement better control of its Energy Efficiency (EE).

    The Silicon Valley IT giants long ago took the standard EE steps like improving their insulation, windows and doors. Now what they are studying is how they can more effectively reduce their demand during periods like hot summer afternoons when the price of electricity peaks because everybody in California is running their air conditioners. This is called demand response (DR).

    The chip wizards are also competing to invent the best demand side management (DSM) technologies for utilities so that they can interact with customers electricity consumption, via a smart grid, to prevent brownouts or blackouts when sudden fluctuations in supply or demand threatens the utilities’ capability to keep the lights on.

    Coordination of Energy Efficiency and Demand Response; A Resource of the National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency, from researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is an examination of how EE and DR fit together.

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    It was written in support of the 10 implementation goals of the 2008 National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency Vision for 2025, an agreement between 50 major electric and gas utilities, state utility commissioners, state air and energy agencies, energy service providers, energy consumers, and energy efficiency and consumer advocates under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The goals:

    (1) Establishing Cost-Effective Energy Efficiency as a High-Priority Resource
    (2) Developing Processes to Align Utility and Other Program Administrator Incentives Such That Efficiency and Supply Resources Are on a Level Playing Field
    (3) Establishing Cost-Effectiveness Tests
    (4) Establishing Evaluation, Measurement, and Verification Mechanisms
    (5) Establishing Effective Energy Efficiency Delivery Mechanisms
    (6) Developing State Policies to Ensure Robust Energy Efficiency Practices
    (7) Aligning Customer Pricing and Incentives to Encourage Investment in Energy Efficiency
    (8) Establishing State of the Art Billing Systems
    (9) Implementing State of the Art Efficiency Information Sharing and Delivery Systems
    (10) Implementing Advanced Technologies

    The LBNL paper (1) summarizes the research on the relationship between energy efficiency and demand response, (2) presents new information from program administrators, customers, and service providers, on current practices and opportunities in the coordination of energy efficiency and demand response, and (3) discusses the barriers to coordinating energy efficiency and demand response programs.

    The goals of the Silicon Valley circuit and system builders are simple: (1) Make gads of money and (2) save the world. EE is the easiest cheapest way to begin doing both those things. The LBNL paper demonstrates that DR is a valuable means toward achieving EE, which makes DR pretty cool.

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    COMMENTARY
    The purpose of the National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency Vision for 2025 was to make EE cost effective by its target year so as to impact the 70% of U.S. natural gas and electricity consumption that takes place in U.S. structures (homes, businesses, schools, governments, and industries).

    Definitions:
    (1) Energy Efficiency (EE) is “using less energy” at any time to provide the same or better service to energy consumers without compromising economic efficiency.
    (2) Demand Response (DR) is when customers change their normal energy consumption in response to (a) the fluctuations in energy prices over time or to (b) incentive payments that reward consumers for lowering their consumption when demand (and therefore price) is highest (and possibly high enough to threaten the function of the power supply system).

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    Demand response is a tool already being implemented by utilities and incorporated into the plans of state and regional regulators.

    According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), DR was already in 2008 capable of cutting ~41,000 megawatts (~5.8%) of the summer peak demand. FERC estimates DR could cut 138,000 megawatts (14%) of peak demand) by 2019.

    An Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) study found DR and EE could cut summer peak demand by 157 gigawatts (14%-to-20% of projections) by 2030.

    Most DR programs now in effect are designed to respond over a limited time to power supply-threatening events by curtailing or shifting the grid operator’s load.

    Just beginning to be implemented are (1) critical peak pricing (CPP) and (2) real-time pricing (RTP) that exercise dynamic and time of use (TOU) rates in conjunction with information fed back to consumers in an ongoing effort to reduce total energy use and utility bill costs.

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    As of December 2009, one database of 2,016 U.S. and Canadian EE, DR and load management programs showed only 56 served both EE and DR purposes.

    EE and DR are now measured differently, have differing suppliers, are delivered differently and have differing reward systems. Better coordination at the provider level would likely make costs lower and allocation more rational.

    Coordination would help consumers who, oblivious to the jargon of EE and DR, are only interested in cutting their utility bills.

    It would help providers because it would expand the market. And it would help society at large by reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions while making the supply of energy more secure and reliable.

    Coordinating the implementation of DR with the expansion of EE will bring tools to customers sooner. There are 4 basic modes of coordination.

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    (1) Combined offerings: Unlike present separate programs, customers could be offered EE and DR opportunities in one package;
    (2) Combined marketing and customer education: Even if EE and DR delivery are kept apart, utilities, public benefit organizations and independent system operators (ISOs) could promote them as a package, simplifying both but expanding an understanding of the complicated subjects together.
    (3) Combined market-driven service delivery: Utilities', public benefit organizations' and ISOs' marketing efforts could be expanded to include innovative private firms that market cost-cutting EE and DR systems and methods to customers seeking to save on their utility bills.
    (4) Building codes and appliance standards that support both: Incorporating combined EE and DR mechanisms into building design and infrastructure and appliance design will bring all the benefits in a pre-coordinated package.

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    Barriers:
    (1) Some market and regulatory funding structures prevent combining EE and DR.
    (2) Some customers have reservations about DR because: (a) DR benefits are uncertain due to market price fluctuations; (b) DR programs vary across regions and utilities and participation could be an inconvenience; (c) DR seems to be better for the utility than the customer; (d) DR could reduce access to EE benefits.
    (3) Retail rates may undercut EE and DR objectives.
    (4) Developing utility staff and contractors' capabilities with EE and DR takes time.

    Utilities and grid operators can also combine EE and DR in resource use, budget planning, and rate design processes so that the amount of load shift available from individual customers and the economic options available to the customer and the utility can be incorporated into the selection of resources, budgeting and the design of rates.

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    EE and DR at a customer site depend on 4 elements: the building, its electro-mechanical systems, appliances, and customer behavior.

    Design, materials, and orientation determine building energy consumption and use but use can be modified and managed by high-tech DR tools.

    Energy control technologies enable EE and DR. Programmable communicating
    thermostats (PCTs) can automate energy management; embedded controls enable DR without the consumer’s participation.

    Building energy management systems (EMS) deliver automated EE and DR.

    Other enabling technologies: (1) Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) that allows response to dynamic pricing and (2) energy information systems (EIS) that give customers feedback on their energy use.

    The benefits of EE with DR will not come quickly. There are market, human, financial, and institutional obstacles. Leaders can provide clarity over the long-term transition that suits utilities’ large-scale capital investments.

    Dynamic pricing will come with better price information and as the technologies allowing a response to it become more common.

    Eventually, more EE and DR will lead to zero net energy sites. In 5-to-10 years, most DR is likely to be price-driven and enabled by automated controls “responding to near-real time pricing information without significant customer effort or intervention.”

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    QUOTES
    - From the report: “There are significant differences in how energy efficiency and demand response are measured, what organizations offer them, how they are delivered to customers, and how they are rewarded in the marketplace. Reducing these differences and coordinating energy efficiency and demand response could be beneficial. Better coordination of energy efficiency and demand response programs at the provider level could bring about cost efficiencies and more rational allocation of resources for both program providers and customers. Coordination could help customers, as most customers do not understand or care about the difference between energy efficiency and demand response and would be receptive to an integrated, packaged approach to managing their energy usage. Greater customer willingness could also increase demand response market penetration and capture energy savings and customer bill-reduction opportunities that might otherwise be lost. Over the long term, customer and utility smart grid investments in communications, monitoring, analytics, and control technologies will blur many of the distinctions between energy efficiency and demand response and help realize the benefits of this integration.”

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    - From the report: “Large-scale deployment of cost-effective energy efficiency resources has the potential to provide significant bill savings for customers and reduce and defer the need for more expensive baseload or intermediate generation resources. Similarly, cost-effective demand response resources have the potential to reduce or defer the need for expensive peak generation and to enhance electric system reliability while also increasing the system’s ability to absorb intermittent renewable resources through sophisticated real-time monitoring, analytics, and load controls. Effective coordination of energy efficiency and demand response—by policy-makers, utilities, and third-party program providers—will be necessary to increase the effectiveness and utilization of energy management resources. While progress has been made in recent years, more work and effort are needed to achieve the full promise and potential of the synergy between energy efficiency and demand response.”

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