NewEnergyNews: 03/01/2010 - 04/01/2010

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: ADDING UP THE CLIMATE CHANGE NUMBERS
  • QUICK NEWS, Sept. 29: PRES SAYS YES TO CLIMATE ACTION, SENATE STUCK; FLAWED NEW PLAN FOR NEW ENERGY IN CALIF; SOLAR PANELS GET BETTER
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • Weekend Video: Obama On Climate Change At The UN
  • Weekend Video: Jon Stewart Heats Up Over Climate Change
  • Weekend Video: Colbert Asks If “This Changes Everything”
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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

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-HIGH WATER RISING – EVERYWHERE
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-MOROCCO WIND BOOM COMING
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-INDIA BOOSTS ITS SOLAR BUILD
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-ABU DHABI BUYS A PIECE OF NORWAY’S STAKE IN UK OFFSHORE WIND
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, Sept. 25:

  • TTTA Thursday-THE PRIVATE SECTOR FACES CLIMATE CHANGE
  • TTTA Thursday-SOLAR WILL POWER SCHOOLS, EARN MONEY FOR TEACHERS
  • TTTA Thursday-A RIDE IN TOMORROW’S CAR
  • TTTA Thursday-A LOOK AT SEE-THROUGH SOLAR
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: FREEING THE NATIONAL TREASURE IN U.S. NATIONAL LABS
  • QUICK NEWS, Sept. 24: ROCKEFELLERS DIVEST OIL FOR NEW ENERGY; BOLD $8BIL WIND BUILD-TRANSMIT-STORE PROJECT; CALIF TARGETS 1.5MIL 0-EMISSIONS CARS BY 2024
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • THE STUDY: WHERE OFFSHORE WIND IS IN THE WORLD
  • QUICK NEWS, Sept. 23: THE NEW ENERGY TRANSITION; THE MATTER OF WIND IN KANSAS; MICROGRID TECHNOLOGY MARKET TO QUADRUPLE
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, is a biweekly contributor to NewEnergyNews

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

    November 26, 2013 (Huffington Post via NewEnergyNews)

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

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

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

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

    2013-11-05-FigureES4_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

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

    2013-11-05-Table_ES2_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    2013-11-05-Figure_ES2_FULL.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Anne's previous NewEnergyNews columns:

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

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

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    Your intrepid reporter

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

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

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  • Wednesday, March 31, 2010

    MOVING NEW ENERGY AND EFFICIENCY TO THE BUILDINGS ON MAIN STREET

    The CO2 Abatement Potential Of California’s Mid-Sized Commercial Buildings
    Michael Stadler, Chris Marnay, Gonçalo Cardoso, Tim Lipman, Olivier Mégel, Srirupa Ganguly, Afzal Siddiqui, and Judy Lai, January 25, 2010 (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

    THE POINT
    A lot of work has been done on net zero energy homes and on streamlining the energy consumption of industrial-scale utility and manufacturing plants. There has been less attention to the mid-sized buildings that comprise the bulk of city life.

    In The CO2 Abatement Potential Of California’s Mid-Sized Commercial Buildings, researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory studied the potential energy and emissions reductions possible by bringing New Energy (NE) and Energy Efficiency (EE) methods and technologies to Main Street.

    The study looks at a cross section of buildings in California that consume from 100 kilowatts (about 25 houses) to 5 megawatts (a small suburb) of power. It estimates such buildings use roughly a third of the energy consumed by California’s commercial sector.

    A building with that level of energy consumption constitutes a microgrid that serves a variety of purposes including (1) electricity for lighting, office equipment; etc., (2) cooling via (a) electricity-powered compression, (b) heat-activated absorption cooling, (c) natural gas chillers, (d) waste heat or (e) solar heat, (3) refrigeration via standard equipment or absorption cooling, (4) hot-water and space-heating via recovered heat from other generation or by natural gas, and (5) natural gas for cooking.

    click to enlarge

    Such a microgrid can integrate with the grid power supplied to the building a variety of New Energy and Energy Efficiency options, including especially (1) natural gas-fired engines, (2) gas turbines, microturbines, and fuel cells, (3) solar photovoltaics (PV) and solar heating systems, (4) conventional batteries, flow batteries, and storage of heat, (5) heat exchangers used with solar thermal or recovered heat, (6) natural gas chillers, and (7) heat-driven absorption chillers.

    The Lawrence Berkeley Lab researchers drew on Distributed Energy Resources Customer
    Adoption Model (DER-CAM)
    , a powerful new tool that integrates the spectrum of a microgrid’s needs and potential supplies to determine which options best serve the goals of cutting back the use of energy and reducing the building’s greenhouse gas emissions (GhGs).

    The most noteworthy conclusion is that much heat is available for recapture and reuse, enough to meet a third of the state’s goal for combined heat and power (CHP) (set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for 2020 at 4 megawatts). Buildings in the hot inland areas of the state may offer the biggest opportunities for energy savings and GhG reductions.

    click to enlarge

    THE DETAILS
    Terms like combined heat and power (CHP) and microgrid are not nearly as commonly known in the world of New Energy (NE) and Energy Efficiency (EE) as solar panels and wind turbines but they are at least as important.

    Combined heat and power (CHP), also known as cogeneration, is the recapture and use of the heat generated and lost in the production of electricity or the running of engines. Buildings often have air conditioning or heating systems that lose much in the form of heat. A micro CHP system is also a type of Distributed Energy Resource (DER) and is essentially comparable to a small PV system except that, instead of the sun's light, CHP uses recaptured heat to generate electricity. (Absorption chillers are a specialized form of CHP that use waste heat for cooling.) In one UK study, micro CHP was found to be a more cost-effective way to reduce GhGs than solar PV.

    The California Air Resources Board (CARB) goal is for the state to install by 2020 4 megawatts of CHP capacity.

    click to enlarge

    A microgrid is any local energy network that integrates various forms of DERs. In a commercial building, the available DERs can be assimilated into the building’s service along with utiltity-provided electricity from the central transmission system through a microgrid. It gives the building the freedom to operate independently from central transmission, run entirely on utility-generated electricity or to combine sources.

    When a microgrid and DERs, including CHP, are available, the questions of which sources are the most economical and when they should be used become crucial. Answering thess questions involves a complex set of factors that fall into 2 major categories: (1) The cost, efficiency, and environmental benefits (including – where possible – renewable energy credits, RECs, and emissions allowances), and (2) the power quality and reliability (PQR) benefits of DERs and semiautonomous control of their use.

    The Lawrence Berkeley researchers use the Distributed Energy Resources Customer
    Adoption Model (DER-CAM) computer program to calculate the entire spectrum of possibilities, identify the optimal economic combination and calculate the GhG reductions associated with that combination.

    click to enlarge

    DER-CAM was applied to 100 kiloWatt (kW)-to-5 megawatt (MW) peak electricity load buildings in the California Commercial End-Use Survey (CEUS) database and estimated the impact of the most economic choice of CHP uses for mid-sized buildings on GhG emissions.

    It is a source of GhG-reductions so far virtually untapped. Only 150 megawatts of CHP capacity is currently installed in California's mid-sized buildings (hospitals, colleges, hotels, large office buildings, etc.). The potential for energy savings and Ghg-reductions is large, however, because they have a balanced and simultaneous requirement for electricity and heat for hot water, space heating, and cooling.

    From the CEUS database of 2790 premises, the researchers selected 138 representative California sites, representing ~35% of the commercial electricity demand, across all of the state’s varying climate zones. Through DER-CAM simulations using different technology costs, tariffs for 3 major utilities and a natural gas company as well as varying interest rates and incentive levels, a set of optimal choices emerged.

    DER-CAM was designed to consider specific NE and EE technologies that draw energy from solar radiation, utility electricity, utility natural gas, biofuels, and geothermal heat sources: (1) natural gas-fired engines, (2) gas turbines, microturbines, and fuel cells, (3) solar photovoltaics (PV) and solar heating systems, (4) conventional batteries, flow batteries, and storage of heat, (5) heat exchangers used with solar thermal or recovered heat, (6) natural gas chillers, and (7) heat-driven absorption chillers.

    click to enlarge

    The building end uses for those technologies and energy sources that DER-CAM addresses are: (1) electricity for lighting, office equipment; etc., (2) cooling via (a) electricity-powered compression, (b) heat-activated absorption cooling, (c) natural gas chillers, (d) waste heat or (e) solar heat, (3) refrigeration via standard equipment or absorption cooling, (4) hot-water and space-heating via recovered heat from other generation or by natural gas, and (5) natural gas for cooking.

    DER-CAM’s conclusions include optimal distributed generation (DG)/storage options and an hourly operating schedule that considers varying rates (fixed charges, on-peak, off-peak, shoulder energy prices, and demand/power charges), as well as costs, fuel consumption, and CO2 emissions.

    click to enlarge

    The study estimates that the mid-sized commercial building sector can economically install 1.4 gigawatts of CHP capacity of CARB’s 4 gigawatts by 2020 CHP goal. That’s ~35% of the goal, about the same percentage of the commercial electricity demand medium-sized buildings create.

    Deeper weeds: CARB assumes a fixed capacity factor of 86%. DER-CAM estimates an average 60% capacity factor. Therefore, CHP can actually meet only ~24% of the CARB goal. Other factors mean the 1.4 gigawatts of CHP from Main Street buildings will only meet 19% of CHP’s share of the GhG cuts.

    Still, that's a significant reduction. DER-CAM estimates the optimum use of CHP will lower the sample buildings' annual energy bill by $190 million per year.

    Natural gas used for cooking in restaurants represents ~one quarter of the state’s commercial natural gas consumption. Appropriately applied, CHP can replace some of this fossil fuel use and impact GhGs. Differences between restaurants are so great, however, that accurate estimates of impacts are not readily available even with a tool as comprehensive and malleable as DER-CAM.

    click to enlarge

    Internal combustion engines (ICEs) with heat exchangers (HXs) are expected to play a strongly dominant role in medium-sized buildings’ power supply, even in 2020 and even despite being less efficient and creating worse GhGs than macrogrid electricity. DER-CAM calculations also include a less common 2020 mix of solar thermal, estimated to total 416 megawatts in 2020, and PV, estimated to be 183 megawatts.

    The impact of either a CHP-only feed-in tariff (FiT) incentive or a pure net-metering incentive would be moderate on the 2020 estimates. The FiT increases New Energy and CHP production (the higher the FiT, the more the New Energy and CHP) but also increases GhGs (because CHP from ICEs with HXs generate more GhGs). When solar thermal (329 megawatts) and PV 423 megawatts) are included, there is higher total DG energy output and CHP and GhGs decrease.

    If, by 2020, there is a much higher investment ($1500 per kilowatt) in fuel cells (FCs) to provide distributed storage for the DERs, CHP could provide 73% of CARB’s 4 megawatt CHP goal while cutting GhGs more significantly than in any other DER-CAM case. There would, however, be less PV (95 megawatts) and solar thermal (247 megawatts) installed.

    In the absence of the kind of spending or a GhG price that would drive investment in FCs, GhG reductions from the use of CHP would be modest – but higher than previously estimated and completely worth efforts to obtain.

    click to enlarge

    As the (hypothetical) price on GhGs increases, there will likely be less natural gas used to drive ICEs but more FCs, more CHP, and more PV and solar thermal.

    Varying climate zones also impact the amount of CHP used. The very hot and dry Southern California region served by San Diego Gas & Electric has the highest uptake of CHP. More temperate coastal regions served by Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric have more average uptake of CHP. Hotter drier climate regions drive CHP use because of the requirement for more air conditioning.

    The most likely candidates for the sum total of advantages gained from the use of CHP come from large office buildings, health care facilities, colleges, and hotels/motels, especially in hotter, drier climates.

    click to enlarge
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    QUOTES
    - From the Lawrence Berkeley report: "The successful deployment of microgrids will depend heavily on the economics of distributed energy resources (DER) in general, and upon the early success of small clusters of mixed technology generation, grouped with storage, and controllable loads. The potential benefits of microgrids are multi-faceted, but from the adopters’ perspective, there are two major groupings: 1) the cost, efficiency, and environmental benefits (including possible emissions credits) of combined heat and power (CHP), which is the focus of this study, and 2) the power quality and reliability (PQR) benefits of on-site generation with semiautonomous control."

    click to enlarge

    - From the Lawrence Berkeley report: "How DG with CHP might be implemented in cost minimizing microgrids is analyzed by applying an optimization that minimizes example sites’ annual energy costs. Using a representative sample of 138 mid-sized commercial buildings taken from CEUS, existing tariffs of three major electricity distribution ultilities plus a natural gas company, and performance data of available technology in 2020, the GHG reduction potential is estimated for a market segment representing about 35% of CA’s commercial sector. In a reference case, this segment is estimated to be capable of economically installing 1.4 GW of CHP, 35% of the CARB statewide Scoping Study 4 GW goal...Several sensitivity runs were completed. One applies a simple feed-in tariff similar to net metering, and another includes a generous self-generation incentive program (SGIP) subsidy for fuel cells. The feed-in tariff proves ineffective at stimulating CHP deployment, while the SGIP buy down is more powerful."

    click to enlarge

    - From the Lawrence Berkeley report: “Note that efficiency and behavioral response may contribute towards meeting future energy services requirements, however, these were not taken into account in this study. Additionally, the area constraint for PV and solar thermal systems needs a more detailed analysis since they vary with climate zone as well as building ownership. Finally, we believe the ownership of buildings and the issue of project decision-making authority needs special attention since it might constitute a major barrier for DG adoption and dampen the DG / CHP potential identified in this study.”

    QUICK NEWS, 3-31: A LOOK AT SUN’S THIN FILM; GE DOES WELL DOING NEW ENERGY; INDIA’S WIND MAKING U.S. JOBS, REVENUES; MICH UTILITY WANTS SPACES FOR SUN

    A LOOK AT SUN’S THIN FILM
    The Future of Thin Film: Beyond the Hype; 2009 was undoubtedly a difficult year for most thin-film producers. What does the future hold?
    Shyam Mehta, March 29, 2010 (Greentech Media)

    "From only 17 MW in 2002 to 966 MW in 2008, thin film's rise over the last decade has been remarkable indeed. Fueled by the greatest success story in the PV industry -- cadmium telluride producer First Solar -- the technology has captured the imagination of industry participants and interested observers alike. First Solar represents the disruptive potential of thin-film PV in full: high throughput (1,011 megawatts in 2009), competitive efficiency (11%), and an industry-leading cost (currently 83 cents per watt), enabling significant profit… listed on the S&P index…[and] the largest PV module producer in the world…

    "The search for alternative technologies led to a tidal wave of investment and entrepreneurial activity in thin film, with 46 companies entering the market between 2004 and 2008, as well as $1.8 billion in venture capital investment in the space. As market share rose from a mere 3% in 2001 to 12% in 2007, companies spoke confidently of hundreds of megawatts of production at below a dollar per watt being within arm's reach. It was only a matter of time before thin film would replace crystalline silicon as the dominant PV technology, finally enabling the long sought-after dream of grid parity…"


    From Greentech Media (click thru for more info)

    "…As of 2010, only one other company besides First Solar -- triple-junction amorphous silicon firm United Solar -- has produced in excess of 100 MW annually. The cost structure of most amorphous silicon, considering its low efficiency, is barely competitive with crystalline silicon, and CIGS producers have encountered technical issues in manufacturing…[C]capital constraints made banks and developers shy away…Asian crystalline silicon PV producers continue to ramp down costs and increase capacity beyond the gigawatt level…[T]thin film [may] fulfill its potential and make meaningful inroads into the solar energy landscape, creating new markets…Or [it may] be relegated to a bit-player role…

    "…GTM Research's just-published report Thin Film 2010: Market Outlook through 2015…[offers a] set of insights…[1] Thin film capacity will exceed 10 GW by the end of 2012…[2] Best-practice producers across all technologies will achieve costs of 80 cents per watt by the beginning of 2012, but there will be significant variation across producers…[3] First Solar will continue its dominance, remaining the largest thin film manufacturer in the world over the next three years…"


    From Greentech Media (click thru for more info)

    "[4] CIGS and amorphous silicon (particularly turnkey line production) will likely not see meaningful market share before 2013, after which cost reductions and efficiency improvements will finally start to drive a competitive product offering at an adequate margin…[5] High-margin thin film production will be a game played by the select few…[6] All signs point to one of the venture-backed CIGS companies (Solyndra, Nanosolar, Miasolé) emerging as successful representatives of this technology…7. The coming years should see a great deal more consolidation than has been witnessed so far in the thin film industry…

    "…Only past 2013 will thin film adoption, the case of First Solar aside, begin to really take off, and developments over the next three years will play a crucial role in determining the exact pace of this transition…[S]uccess [may] arrive a lot later than expected. But [it is quite likely to] arrive…"



    GE DOES WELL DOING NEW ENERGY
    GE Seeks Green By Going Green
    Peter Gwynne, March 2010 (Industrial Research Institute via WaterWorld)

    "…[Though] the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and some fossil fuel companies lobby hard to deny the effect of human activity on global warming, some high-technology firms are…embracing environmental attitudes as a source of new business enterprises. Prominent among those firms is General Electric…

    "In 2005, GE launched what it called its "ecomagination initiative," which it intended to meet customers' demands for more energy-efficient products and, in the process, improve the company's bottom line. Since then, the company has brought more than 80 "ecomagination solutions"- both products and services-to market. Revenues from the ecomagination sector represented 9% of the company's total last year, and increased by 21% from 2008 to 2009."


    click thru for more info on ecomagination

    "GE hasn't adopted the approach simply because it feels it should do its bit for the environment…[It’s] a hard-edged business strategy…To GE…"eco" means economics plus ecology. Thus, the corporation bases the venture on the fundamental proposition that "green is green"-in other words, that the development of innovative solutions to environmental problems will inevitably produce profit for the company…[And it sees New Energy as the] next big emerging market…

    "The approach has a natural fit with GE's corporate footprint, which covers a wide range of industries and locations. GE's businesses that have benefited from ecomagination's products and services so far include energy, transportation, consumer & industrial, oil & gas, water & process technologies, aviation, healthcare, enterprise solutions, and even GE Enterprise Services and GE Capital."


    click thru for more info on ecomagination

    "The venture has also provided strong assistance to the company's global growth. In December 2009, for example, General Electric China announced that ecomagination products in China produced revenues of $656 million in the first three quarters of 2009… a 50% increase over the similar period in 2008…

    "…Each GE division is encouraged to come up with green products and…to develop its own plan for reducing its environmental footprint…[GE has doubled] the firm's investment in R&D on clean technologies over a period of four years, from $750 million in 2005 to more than $1.4 billion in 2008…[Work on new battery technologies, advances in wind energy, smart grid te3chnologies, “clean” coal and energy efficient lighting reresent] roughly one-third of the company's current overall investment in R&D…"



    INDIA’S WIND MAKING U.S. JOBS, REVENUES
    Suzlon Wind Energy Corp. Will Install More Than 700 MW of Clean Energy in 2010; Construction of Nine Wind Power Projects Expected to Funnel $1.5 Million into Communities
    March 5, 2010 (Suzlon Wind Energy Corp)

    "Suzlon Wind Energy Corp., the North American subsidiary of Suzlon Energy Limited…plans to bring online 728 MW of renewable energy in the U.S. in 2010…

    "Among the nine 2010 projects, 351 newly installed turbines will produce clean energy that can power as many as 220,000 homes in seven states. In addition, these projects will create more than 50 long-term wind turbine maintenance-related jobs in rural areas. During the construction and commissioning of the nine wind farms across the [U.S.], Suzlon estimates that its employees will contribute $1.5 million to the local economies where they live and work…"

    click to enlarge

    "The nine Suzlon projects are located in seven states… Arizona, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington. They encompass community projects in Kansas and Minnesota, and the expansion of the first wind farm in Arizona. Nearly all projects feature Suzlon’s S88-2.1 MW wind turbine that routinely has performed well…

    "Frequently, Suzlon hears about how its wind farm construction and maintenance employees are appreciated for bolstering local communities and economies. At one wind power plant, Suzlon even contributed to the rebuilding of a town - Greensburg, Kansas - where 95 percent of its structures were destroyed by a tornado in May 2006. Greensburg’s wind farm is home to 10 Suzlon S64-1.25 MW wind turbines that can generate enough energy to power 3,750 homes."


    click to enlarge

    [Greensburg Mayor Bob Dixson:] “Suzlon and this wind farm provided a huge boost to this community after the tornado devastated the region and during our recent recovery…The town is making a remarkable comeback with our mission to be ‘better, stronger and greener.’ Suzlon’s turbines are helping us achieve our green energy goals and are serving to exemplify the potential for wind-powered towns.”

    "At present, Suzlon has more than 1,750 MW of wind turbine capacity installed in the U.S. and expects to have 2,480 MW by the end of the year."


    MICH UTILITY WANTS SPACES FOR SUN
    Edison seeks commercial customers to participate in solar energy program
    March 29, 2010 (San Francisco Examiner)

    "…Detroit Edison…[t]he Detroit-based utility and subsidiary of DTE Energy is looking for commercial customers to participate in its SolarCurrents program…[that] seeks to install photovoltaic systems on customer rooftops or property to generate 15 megawatts of electricity throughout its southeast Michigan service area during the next five years.

    "…Detroit Edison will invest more than $100 million in the program. Customers who agree to having the equipment installed must participate for at least 20 years…Edison will own, operate and maintain the equipment; customers will get an annual credit on their energy bill based on system size as well as a one-time upfront construction payment."


    Get the point? (click to enlarge)

    "The utility will accept applications until April 29. Applicants should own a facility with at least 15,000 square feet of unobstructed roof in good condition, or a similar sized ground area…

    "…Edison also offers incentives to residential customers who install photovoltaic systems…Edison has announced that it plans to add more than 1,200 megawatts of renewable energy, including wind farms and other green energy facilities."

    Tuesday, March 30, 2010

    CAP&DIVIDEND CLEAR-ED FOR CONSIDERATION

    CLEAR Economics: State-Level Impacts of the ‘Carbon Limits and Energy for America’s Renewal Act’ on Family Incomes and Jobs
    James K. Boyce & Matthew E. Riddle, March 2010 (Department of Economics and
    Political Economy Research Institute/University of Massachusetts, Amherst)

    THE POINT
    Remember when health insurance reform was pronounced a lost cause? That’s where Cap&Trade and the effort to get the U.S. into the fight against global change are now. If they are to go forward, lawmakers must find a way to stop U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by putting a price on the generation of them without stopping U.S. economic growth or overburdening U.S. energy consumers.

    In place of Cap&Trade, some would substitute Cap&Dividend. CLEAR Economics: State-Level Impacts of the ‘Carbon Limits and Energy for America’s Renewal Act’ on Family Incomes and Jobs is one of the first neutral and academic evaluations of the Cap&Dividend concept, which would cap U.S. greenhouse gas emissions (GhGs), charge the major emitters for what they spew via an auction of allowance permits and redistribute the revenues from the auction as dividends to all citizens as compensation for the burdens they would bear in the form of higher energy costs.

    The study finds that Cap&Dividend could drive a transition to New Energy (NE) and Energy Efficiency (EE) that would create 360,000 jobs from public spending and many more as private spending shifts from Old Energy to the New Energy economy. The public spending could also be designed to support more job growth in states with high unemployment and high dependence on Old Energy.

    click to enlarge

    Despite the relatively minimal costs that would be imposed by the Cap&Trade system proposed in legislation passed by the House of Representatives in June 2009 and stalled in the Senate ever since, the market-based plan to fight global climate change has been branded “cap-and-tax” by opponents on the left and the right.

    Most Congress-watchers believe neither Cap&Trade nor any other comprehensive energy and climate bill will get through the Senate this year. Some hold out hope for a bipartisan energy and climate proposal being worked out by Senators Kerry (D-MA), Lieberman (I-CN) and Graham (R-SC). It is unclear exactly what the details of the Kerry-Lieberman-Graham (KLG) emissions-cutting plan will ultimately be. The Senators have acknowledged the potential of the Cap&Dividend concept contained in the Carbon Limits and Energy for America’s Renewal (CLEAR) Act proposed by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) but appear to be developing a "reduction and refund" compromise concept.

    Though Senator Graham has worked hard on the compromise legislation, he has – since the passage of the health insurance reform legislation – repeatedly told the media he foresees difficulty with any other business being done in the Senate until after the November elections.

    Therefore, even as the new report elucidates the significant economic benefits of Cap&Dividend, its fate is anything but CLEAR.

    click to enlarge

    THE DETAILS
    The goal of CLEAR, very nearly matching the Obama administration goal, is to cut U.S. GhGs 80% by 2050.

    A cap on greenhouse gas emissions (GhGs) is inevitably going to impose increased costs on those who generate them, especially on those who use fossil fuels to generate electricity and sell fossil fuels to power transport. The costs will certainly be passed on to all consumers who use energy or use products that require energy to manufacture, transport and/or sell.

    The only way to protect consumers from the financial burden of those increased costs is to transfer the revenues generated from the charges imposed on GhG-emitters back to the consumers. That is what a carbon tax would do, that is what the Cap&Trade system in the House bill written by Representatives Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Ed Markey (D-MA) would do and that is most emphatically what the Cantwell-Collins Cap&Dividend plan would do.

    click to enlarge

    The CLEAR act charges GhG-intensive industries per ton of emissions (“carbon shares”) and returns 75% of the revenues to the public as monthly dividends. It channels the other 25% into a Clean Energy Reinvestment Trust (CERT) Fund that will invest in New Energy and Energy Efficiency.

    The emphasis is on a system that caps and prices emissions, is affordable to businesses as well as just and equitable to consumers and creates incentives and funding for a shift to a New Energy economy.

    Every U.S. consumer would get the same dividend (portion of the revenues obtained from emitters). Those who consume more energy will get less relief from rising energy costs by the dividend. Those who take conservation and efficiency steps to reduce their energy consumption will be more completely compensated by the dividend and hurt less by the rising costs.

    click to enlarge

    High-income citizens tend to use more energy and will therefore likely pay more. Middle- and Low-income citizens should do better. In states where more electricity is generated by fossil fuels and where there is a need to travel longer distances by car, the latter groups may be more heavily burdened.

    These income and regional sources of inequity can be compensated through the CERT fund in 2 ways: (1) A larger portion of the investment can go to regions that need to move more significantly to NE and EE, and (2) some ~9% of the total auction revenues could go to state-specific dividends that would further compensate Low- and Middle-income citizens in high-fossil fuel consuming regions in the early years of the transition, reducing the dividend portion from three-quarters to two-thirds but making the overall impact of the change more equitable.

    The CLEAR Act includes strict provisions against the trading of the carbon shares and excludes any use of offsets. Both strictures are intended to simplify the system and protect it from fraud and abuse.

    click to enlarge

    The total number of carbon shares available at auction would be determined by the overall cap, which would be progressively ratcheted down. The total revenues would be divided by the entire number of U.S. citizens. Each would get an equal monthly portion. Those who conserve more effectively on things that increase in price due to the cap and its consequences (energy and energy-intensive products) would do better – or at least less worse – and those who continue their old habits would do worse.

    Income and region specific provisions would help keep the system equitable, especially during transition years.

    The CERT fund portion of the revenues would be administered by the Congressional appropriations process and include a wide range of NE and EE possibilities.

    In 2020, Cap&Dividend could be expected to cut GhGs to 5.4 billion tons. At $25/ton (carbon share), a price within the bill’s minimum and maximum collars for 2020, the revenue that would be available as dividends and for the CERT fund would be $135 billion.

    click to enlarge

    The 2012 minimum carbon share price is $7 and the maximum carbon share price is $21. The bill allows the minimum price to increase 6.5% per year and the maximum price to increase 5.5% per year, leading to a 2020 minimum/maximum of $11.58/$32.23.

    Household consumption of fossil fuels comprises ~66% of U.S. GhGs. The other third of U.S. GhGs is due to local, state, and federal government expenditure, non-profit institutions, and exports.

    The dividend per person would be the same in every state but what the household pays as a result of higher fossil fuel prices differs because median incomes, home heating and cooling needs, and the carbon intensity of the state’s electricity supply all differ.

    Differences across states are fairly small because total carbon use per capita is fairly similar across the country. Many of the differences have offsetting effects. Some states need more winter heating and some need more summer cooling. Some states use more coal but are typically lower income. And interstate differences will come with any program that prices emissions. Cap&Dividend, like the other programs, contains compensatory reallocation of some of the revenues it generates to make the system more equitable.

    click to enlarge

    Net benefits vary. For those with lower incomes, the net impact is invariably positive, mainly because low-income households consume less than the average amount of carbon. For those with the highest incomes, the net impact is negative because of their above-average levels of consumption.

    The authors report 2 outstanding conclusions from their study. (1) The lower 70% of the U.S. population, which comprises the lower and middle classes, comes out ahead (derive a net monetary benefit beyond the benefits of ending U.S. dependence on Old Energy and cutting back GhGs) in the CLEAR Cap&Dividend system. (2) Interstate differences of impacts are much smaller than income differences. The average net benefit nationally of people in the lowest income group is $186; the average net loss of people in the highest income group is $211. That's a range of $397. State differences only range from an $11 benefit to a $101 benefit, a $90 swing.

    To reiterate: Investments from the CERT Fund will likely create ~360,000 jobs nationally and can be directed to regions with higher unemployment and worse dependence on Old Energy. Many more jobs can be expected as private investment follows the trends established by CERT spending. From this, it is CLEAR: The right energy and climate bill will also be a jobs bill.

    Peter Barnes wrote the book on Cap&Dividend. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Frank Maisano, energy analyst, Bracewell & Giuliani: “…KGL is now referring to their bill as "reduction and refund" as opposed to "cap and trade," even though the proposal will still include a phased-in national cap and allocated allowances. The draft discussion continues to stress the need for a 17% reduction by 2020, the absolute necessity of a carbon price signal (especially to incent CCS deployment), and the fear of EPA and state action in the absence of a bill. More rumors regarding details include more focus on “Cap-and-refund” bill that returns money to consumer thru the utilities via a rebate on their electric bill, more limited trading than the House or EPW bills, a 4-year delay for manufacturers under the bill to assist with compliance, a “hard” price collar, likely between $12 and $20+ per ton but also an allowance reserve, more offshore drilling and revenue sharing, a linked fee for refiners instead of buying allowances, more nuclear loan guarantees and NRC licensing improvements and incentives for natural gas vehicles. They continue to discuss things like the Bingaman Energy bill and a new Clean Energy standard as well as effort to mitigate opposition by working with groups…”

    click to enlarge

    - From the CERI report: “The [CLEAR] Act seeks to protect the climate by capping the use of fossil fuels, so as to gradually reduce U.S. carbon emissions by 80% by the year 2050. At the same time, the Act seeks to protect family incomes by recycling three-quarters of the revenues from the sale of carbon permits directly to the public, and devoting the remaining one-quarter to job-creating investments in the clean energy transition… The CLEAR Act is a “100-75-25-0” climate policy…100% of the permits to bring fossil carbon into the U.S. economy will be auctioned — there are no permit giveaways. The bill strictly limits the buying and selling of permits to prevent carbon market speculation and profiteering…75% of the auction revenue is returned directly to the public in the form of equal dividends per person. These “energy security dividends” are paid monthly to every man, woman, and child lawfully residing in the United States…25% of the auction revenue is deposited into a Clean Energy Reinvestment Trust (CERT) Fund to be used for investments in energy efficiency, clean energy, adaptation to climate change, and assistance to sectors that face economic dislocation during the transition from the fossil-fueled economy…Zero “offsets” are allowed. Polluters cannot avoid buying permits or curbing their use of fossil fuels by paying someone else here or abroad to clean up after them…”

    click to enlarge

    - From the CERI report: “…states that use more energy for home heating costs generally use less for air conditioning. Similarly, states that have more coal intensive electricity tend to have lower median incomes, and hence lower consumption, which leads to lower carbon price impacts…It is important to note that interstate differences in the impact of higher fossil fuel prices will occur under any policy to cap carbon emissions. Interstate differences in net impacts will depend on who gets the money. The most striking feature of the results shown in Table 1 is that the net impact of CLEAR on the median household is positive in every state…This reflects the fact that U.S. household incomes are skewed (in the strict statistical sense of that term) toward upper-income groups: hence the mean (average) is greater than the median (middle). The impact of higher fossil fuel prices is proportional to consumption, so this too is skewed to the top of the distribution. Because the median household is. Nationwide, the average net benefit works out to $65 per person, or $260 for a family of four…”

    QUICK NEWS, 3-30: TEXAS CAN BURN NEW ENERGY, CUT WASTE; WIND CONSOLIDATING IN CHINA; SOLAR PANEL MAKER PICKS CA FOR PLANT; EPA WANTS GHG ACCOUNTING

    TEXAS CAN BURN NEW ENERGY, CUT WASTE
    Texas Weighs Efficiency, Solar Mandates
    Kate Galbraith, March 29, 2010 (NY Times)

    "Texas regulators may soon ramp up mandates requiring tougher energy-efficiency standards and development of renewable energy sources other than wind power.

    "Earlier this year, the state’s Public Utility Commission proposed requiring utilities to offset 50 percent of their growth in electricity sales with energy-efficiency measures by 2014. That would be well above the current requirement of 20 percent…The utility commission has also put forward an early-stage proposal that would require 500 new megawatts of power in Texas to come from renewable energy sources like biomass, geothermal, solar and hydro in 2014…"


    Texans know better than to squander energy resources like this. (click to enlarge)

    "Texas leads the nation in wind development, but under the proposal, 50 megawatts of nonwind renewables in 2014 would have to come from solar projects. Texas currently has less than seven megawatts of solar power…

    "Both proposals are still receiving comments, and must be approved by the three commissioners, who are appointed by the Texas governor. Environmentalists, however, are hopeful…If the regulations get approved, they will be doing essentially what the the Texas legislature had contemplated doing a year ago. So many prosolar bills were filed in last year’s legislative session that it was dubbed the “solar session.” Several efficiency bills also were introduced…[But] only one clean-energy bill, which promoted property tax-financed solar and retrofit measures for homes, made it to the finish line."


    Efficiency will save Texans money. (click to enlarge)

    "…[S]ince the Texas legislature does not convene again until next year, advocates are worried that the window for attracting renewable energy projects — and manufacturers of solar panels, who might favor locating in a big market — is closing…

    "Kirk Watson, a state senator from Austin who sponsored one of the ill-fated renewables bills last session, said that he was glad that the Public Utility Commission was moving forward with their renewables rule, even if it only requires one-third as much development as his bill called for…"



    WIND CONSOLIDATING IN CHINA
    Far East Wind Power Announces LOI to Acquire 700MW Wind Farm Development Rights in China
    March 29, 2010 (CNN Money)

    "Far East Wind Power Corp…has entered into a Letter of Intent ("LOI") with Wuhan Guoce Nordic New Energy Co. Ltd. of Wuhan, China ("Guoce") to acquire…development stage wind farm projects located in Jilin Province and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region ("Inner Mongolia").

    "The proposed projects will be acquired from Guoce for cash and other considerations…Guoce is a manufacturer of wind turbines and has been assembling a 700 megawatt ("MW") portfolio of project locations and working with local, regional and national agencies as well as regional grid operators to acquire requisite permits and approvals necessary for development…[Far East Wind Power] has agreed to exclusively use wind turbines manufactured by Guoce should the projects proceed and to position Guoce as a strategic partner…"


    Absorbed by a bigger player in a consolidating industry in...(click to enlarge)

    "The most advanced-stage project of the portfolio is known as the TianHe 1 Project and is a proposed 50MW development with all approvals in place and a site ready for construction commencing in April. This Inner Mongolia location has been determined to be a robust wind resource…The TianHe Phase 2 project is planned for an additional 50MW later this year subject to permitting and approvals…"

    ...A rapidly expanding marketplace. (click to enlarge)

    "Additional projects as part of the Guoce portfolio include a number of locations in Jilin Province. They include a proposed 100MW development site at the Min Ying Development Zone, and a planned 500MW program dispersed across the proposed Taonan Project Phases 1-5. All sites have been identified by various government agencies as recognized wind resource development locations…which could offer short lead times to development.

    "Far East's mission is to develop wind farms with the highest rates of return on investment in the industry by working with strategic partners to develop or acquire innovative solutions to drive cost out of the turbine manufacturing process…"



    SOLAR PANEL MAKER PICKS CA FOR PLANT
    Solar Power, Inc. Selects McClellan Business Park for Manufacturing Facility and New World Headquarters; Governor Applauds Solar Power, Inc.'s Move to Help Bring Jobs to the Region and Advance Energy Independence
    March 29, 2010 (Business Wire via MarketWatch)

    "Solar Power, Inc…has selected McClellan Business Park as the site for its U.S. manufacturing facility…[T]he Company has received an initial commitment of $24.7 million in Recovery Zone Facility Bonds ("RZFB") from Sacramento County and plans to use the proceeds from the sale of these bonds to help finance renovation and outfitting of the manufacturing facility to build its high-performance solar panels…

    "…A portion of the RZFB Bond proceeds, upon successful placement, will also go in part towards the development of a utility-scale photovoltaic solar system in Sacramento County that will exceed 10 megawatts and have an estimated value of $50 million."


    How does the map of states with strong solar polices compare to...(click to enlarge)

    "Solar Power, Inc.'s…plans to open a major manufacturing operation in Sacramento…[were heralded by California] Governor Schwarzenegger…"

    ...the map of states with strong solar business development? (click to enlarge)

    "The proposed manufacturing facility at the McClellan site will be approximately 100,000 square feet with an annual production capacity of 50 megawatts of Solar Power, Inc.'s top-ranked solar panels. It is estimated that the facility will bring 120 new construction jobs to the region during the 9-month construction period and 100 full-time skilled workers and office staff to the facility upon completion. Together with Solar Power, Inc.'s current manufacturing facility in China, the McClellan facility is expected to double the Company's annual production capacity to 100 megawatts…

    "Solar Power, Inc. anticipates receiving the bond proceeds and beginning construction on the new headquarters and manufacturing facility in July with completion in early 2011…"



    EPA WANTS GHG ACCOUNTING
    EPA proposes oil, gas sector should track its emissions
    John-Laurent Tronche, March 29, 2010 (Fort Worth Business Press)

    "The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed adding emissions data from oil and gas operations to a list of 31 other sectors from which the agency collects greenhouse gas emissions information.

    "The EPA is proposing for the first time a national mandatory greenhouse gas reporting system to…[better understand GHG sources]…The information also will help the EPA and businesses draft policies and programs to reduce emissions…"


    click to enlarge

    [Lisa P. Jackson, Administrator, EPA:] “Gathering this information is the first step toward reducing greenhouse emissions and fostering innovative technologies for the clean energy future…It’s especially important to track potent gases like methane, which traps more than 20 times as much heat as carbon and accelerates climate change. Once we know where we must act, American innovators and entrepreneurs can develop new technologies to protect our atmosphere and fight climate change.”

    "The 31 sectors covering 85 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions would be joined by the oil and natural gas sectors, industries that emit fluorinated gases and facilities that inject and store carbon dioxide underground for geologic sequestration or enhanced oil and gas recovery."

    click to enlarge

    [EPA:] “Methane is the primary GHG emitted from oil and natural gas systems and is more than 20 times as potent as CO2 at warming the atmosphere, while fluorinated gases are even stronger and can stay in the atmosphere for thousands of years…Data collected from facilities that inject CO2 underground would enable EPA to track the amount of CO2 that is injected and in some cases require a monitoring strategy for detecting potential emissions to the atmosphere.”

    "Collecting emissions data would begin at the start of 2011…[Oil and gas industry] trade groups have bristled at the suggestion that their operations should be held accountable for greenhouse gas emissions, arguing new federal rules would throw the industry and economies into nothing short of total calamity…"

    Monday, March 29, 2010

    NEW ENERGY AND THE COMMUNITY OF NATIONS

    Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race? Growth, Competition and Opportunity in the World’s Largest Economies
    March 2010 (Pew Charitable Trusts)
    and
    Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race?
    March 24, 2010 (Pew Charitable Trusts)

    THE POINT
    Here’s a statistic that will warm the cockles of the hearts of all those who wish the U.S. ill: Of the top 20 economies in the world, the U.S. ranks 10th in percent of GDP invested in New Energy and Energy Efficiency.

    If, as some say, there is an “arms race” for dominance in the coming international New Energy economy, the U.S. is moving toward submission. If, as others say, there is a 21st century “space race” going on, the U.S. soon may not be able to overcome the force of gravity.

    It makes headlines and captures attention to portray the emergence of the international New Energy economy as an arms race or a space race. In actuality, the international community of nations is attempting a Normandy invasion against dependence on the Old Energy economy of yesterday in order to win the struggle against the global climate change Old Energy has created.

    And, as Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race? Growth, Competition and Opportunity in the World’s Largest Economies from the Pew Charitable Trusts makes clear, the U.S. is rapidly losing its leadership role in the assault. If, therefore, the community of nations succeeds in the assault and wins the war, the U.S. may end up in the same dependent position in the climate change-defeating "post-war" economy that “old Europe” was in after the invasion of Normandy.

    In the relative terms of investment intensity (the percent of GDP invested in New Energy, NE, and Energy Efficiency, EE), Spain invested five times what the U.S. did in 2009. China, Brazil and the UK invested three times more.

    click to enlarge

    The Pew report gathers salient and incisive numbers on NE & EE in the G20 nations which, as the world’s top 20 economies, account for 90% of world finance and investment. It offers some aggregate numbers that demonstrate to anybody who has had their head in a barrel of oil for the last 5 years and hasn’t gotten the word about the emerging New Energy economy:

    (1) Investment in NE & EE (in 3 comprehensive categories: (1) asset financing, (2) public market financing, and (3) venture capital/private equity financing) grew 230% worldwide from 2005 to 2010.

    (2) While the world struggled through the worst financial fall since the 1930s in 2008-09, investment in NE & EE in the G20 fell only 6.6%

    (3) Rebounding from the crash in late 2008/early 2009, NE & EE saw a worldwide 2009 investment of $162 billion, the G20 nations accounting for $117 billion of it.

    (4) The G20 economies had an average investment of $32 billion per quarter in each of the last three quarters of 2009. And the enormous investments made in NE & EE by many of the G20 governments to counteract the economic downturn haven’t yet really begun getting a response from innovators, businesses and installers. G20 investment in the NE & EE sector is expected to grow 25% to $200 billion in 2010 and at least as much again in 2011.

    The Pew study shows clearly that national policy decisions that set goals and create incentives have unequivocal impacts on the growth of G20 nations’ New Energy economies. Nations like China, Brazil, the UK, Germany and Spain have aggressive policies and growing NE & EE capabilities. The U.S., which has no compelling national goals and inconsistent financial incentives, is falling toward also-ran status.

    As commentators continue to point out, the vaunted U.S. leadership in innovation and entrepreneurship is at risk. Its own venture capital, long the force that has given the U.S. superpower status in the world economy, is migrating to offshore NE & EE opportunities.

    The courageous people of Western Europe stood up to fascism in World War II but their economies were crushed and they shivered in darkness for several winters afterward while the U.S. helped them recover. If the U.S. does not get with the effort the world is making to defeat its current climate change threat, Washington may be asking the leaders of the New Energy invasion for help in winters to come.

    click to enlarge

    THE DETAILS
    The world invested $162 billion in New Energy (NE) and Energy Efficiency (EE) in 2009. While that was a drop from 2008 of 6.6%, world investment in the oil and gas industry fell of 19%, a clear statement of where the energy sector perceives emerging value to be.

    At the end of 2009, the world’s installed renewable energy capacity was 250 gigawatts (GW), 6% of global generating capacity and enough electricity to power ~75 million homes. Investment was $162 billion, with $117 billion of that coming from G20 nations.

    The G20 nations’ governments collectively committed $184+ billion in stimulus spending to NE & EE in 2009 but only ~16% has so far been put to work. The bulk of the money is expected to keep driving growth for innovators, businesses and installers in 2010 and 2011.

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    The U.S. was replaced by China as the overall leader in NE &EE finance and investment in 2009. From 2005 to 2008, China built its NE & EE manufacturing base through the development of foreign markets. In 2009, it began growing its domestic demand with ambitious new installed capacity commitments.

    U.S. NE & EE investment in 2009 fell for the first time since 2005. It was 40% below the 2008 number. Only long term extensions of the federal production tax credit (PTC) and investment tax credit (ITC) and emergency measures included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) kept 2009 investment up as high as it was.

    Domestic policy decisions drive growth. Capital is invested where long term policy promises long term federal support. National Renewable Energy Standards (RESs), feed-in tariffs (FiTs) and other long-term financial incentives and national commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions (GhGs) in G-20 nations (especially China, Brazil, Germany and Spain) are the foundation for their significant NE & EE growth and the U.S. lack of all such policies (except inconsistently allotted financial incentives) explains its falling position.

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    The U.S. had a 0.13% investment intensity (the percent of GDP invested in NE & EE) in 2009. Spain’s investment intensity was 5 times greater (0.74%) and the UK (0.51%), China (0.39%) and Brazil (0.37%) were around 3 times greater.

    Only the U.S. gift of abundant natural resources and its powerful entrepreneurial tradition kept it among G20 leaders. Only aggressive new policies are likely to keep it there going forward.

    World wind power, because of its widely recognized technological maturity and cost-competitiveness, won 50+% of the world’s 2009 sector investment and ~50% of the world’s new installed NE generating capacity.

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    U.S., Spanish and EU investments in various solar technologies won solar power the second most investor attention, with a growing but still significantly smaller share in world NE investment in 2009. Solar costs are dropping quickly toward grid parity and its share of total financing, across the full spectrum of its technologies (silicon PV, thin film PV and solar power plants) is expected to continue growing.

    Biofuel investment, a leader during the period of enthusiasm for its promise in 2006 to 2007, dropped off in 2008 and 2009 as governments and private investors discovered flaws in the way biofuel crops drive up food commodity prices, increase rain forest destruction and fail to reduce GhGs.

    click to enlarge

    Pew classified investments and financing that sustain and grow NE & EE technology R&D, manufacturing scale-up and project rollout in 3 categories: (1) asset financing, (2) public market financing, and (3) venture capital/private equity financing.

    Asset financing
    Asset financing is the dominant type of NE & EE finance. It is usually used to grow manufacturing and install capacity. Due to the credit crunch, 2009 asset financing fell 6% from 2008 to $94.9 billion but remained 80+% of NE & EE investment. Largely directed at physical infrastructure (power, heat and fuels that generate electricity), the largest part of the financing went to onshore wind. China got the most asset financing in 2009 and the U.S. got the second most.

    click to enlarge

    Public market financing
    This category is essentially market investments, much of it from initial public offerings (IPOs). The willingness of investors to provide capital through IPOs began falling after a 2007 high of $23 billion. By last year, IPOs were down 45% to $12.1 billion. Most companies in G20 nations were not even going to a market that was by last year less than 11% of G20 NE & EE investment. At the end of last year, however, there was some return of IPO activity in China. It is an indicator that bears watching.

    click to enlarge

    Venture capital (VC)/private equity (PE) financing
    With the financial crash, venture capitalists backed away from the risky business of financing innovation. VC/PE activity was down 43% in 2009 to $6.4 billion. What activity remained was largely in the U.S. (more than 60%), in next-gen biofuels, cutting edge solar, EE and smart grid technologies.

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    Germany has the most installed solar energy capacity in the world. The U.S. has the most total installed wind, biomass and geothermal capacities but China had the most NEW installed wind capacity in 2009 and is threatening the U.S. in overall world NE leadership. New, aggressive policies and emissions reduction commitments and programs in Spain, Brazil and India have also moved them into competitive NE & EE positions among the G20 nations.

    World stimulus plans allotted a total of $184 billion for NE & EE spending (including $67 billion by the U.S. and $47 billion by China) but only 9% ($16.6 billion) of it had been put to work by the end of 2009 (with the U.S. and South Korea leading). Two-thirds of the stimulus investment is expected to be put to work in 2010 and 2011.

    Because credit remained available in Asia despite the global financial crisis, Asian investment in NE & EE increased 37% in 2009 to $39.02 billion. It was led by China’s enormous spending for wind power. At the same time, due to the economic downturn, investment in NE & EE dropped 33% in the Americas and 16% in Europe.

    NE & EE 2010 investment is predicted to grow 25% to $200 billion. If the patterns of where the investment takes place continue, the U.S. is on its way to also-ran status.

    click to enlarge

    QUOTES
    - From the Pew Charitable Trusts: “Policy, investment and business experts alike have noted that the clean energy economy is emerging as one of the great global economic and environmental opportunities of the 21st century. Local, state and national leaders in the United States and around the world increasingly recognize that safe, reliable, clean energy—solar, wind, bioenergy and energy efficiency—can be harnessed to create jobs and businesses, reduce dependence on foreign energy sources, enhance national security and reduce global warming pollution…”

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    click to enlarge

    - From the Pew study: “…Nations seeking to compete effectively for clean energy jobs and manufacturing would do well to evaluate the array of policy mechanisms that can be employed to stimulate clean energy investment. This is especially true for policymakers in the United States, which is at risk of falling further behind its G-20 competitors in the coming years unless it adopts a strong national policy framework to spur more robust clean energy investment…”

    *