NewEnergyNews: 08/01/2010 - 09/01/2010

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

  • LABOR DAY STUDY: CHINA NEW ENERGY MOVES AHEAD
  • NO QUICK NEWS TODAY. BACK TOMORROW.
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • Weekend Video: The Economic Opportunity In The Climate Fight
  • Weekend Video: The Future Of Energy
  • Weekend Video: Advances In BioEnergy
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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-CLIMATE CHANGE – IT GETS WORSE
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-WHERE AND HOW WIND IS GROWING IN THE WORLD
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-CHINA TO LEAD SOLAR MARKET GROWTH DESPITE OBSTACLES
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE ENORMOUS POTENTIAL OF WORLD GEOTHERMAL
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, August 28:

  • TTTA Thursday-PRESIDENT TO TAKE ACTION ON CLIMATE
  • TTTA Thursday-BIRDS AND ENERGY, THE BIGGER STORY
  • TTTA Thursday-NEW CA LAW STREAMLINES SOLAR PERMITTING
  • TTTA Thursday-DATA CENTER EFFICIENCIES CAN SAVE U.S. $3.8BIL/YR
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: THE RISKIEST ENERGY IN THE WORLD
  • QUICK NEWS, August 27: VERIZON’S $40MIL SOLAR BUY; WIND PRICES HIT RECORD LOWS; NUKE INSPECTOR SAYS DIABLO CYN IS UNSAFE
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • THE STUDY: U.S. WIND RIGHT NOW
  • QUICK NEWS, August 26: CLIMATE MODELS PROVE RIGHT AGAIN; ABOUT INVESTING IN SOLAR; GM VS TESLA IN THE 200 MILE RACE -

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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, is a biweekly contributor to NewEnergyNews

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

    November 26, 2013 (Huffington Post via NewEnergyNews)

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

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

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

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

    2013-11-05-FigureES4_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

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

    2013-11-05-Table_ES2_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    2013-11-05-Figure_ES2_FULL.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Anne's previous NewEnergyNews columns:

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

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

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    Your intrepid reporter

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

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

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  • Tuesday, August 31, 2010

    SUMMER READING - THE OBAMA-SCHWARZENEGGER JIG (UPDATING CLIMATE CHANGE ECONOMICS) (from April 22)

    Today’s Summer Reading is both uniquely relevant and uniquely out-of-date. It is out of date because it references the President’s no longer tenable position on offshore oil drilling before the BP eco-apocalypse. It is relevant because it emphasizes all the economic benefits of AB 32, Governor Schwarzenegger’s legacy. AB 32 is now under fire, the target of Proposition 23 (the Dirty Energy proposition). The description of the jobs and revenues AB 32 will spawn makes vividly clear how wrong the oil company-sponsored Dirty Energy proposition really is for California.

    Updated Economic Analysis of California’s Climate Change Scoping Plan
    Staff, March 24, 2010 (California Environmental Protection Agency Air Resources Board)

    THE POINT
    What it appears President Obama is trying to do by approving limited offshore oil drilling and limited loan guarantees for new nuclear power plants is recreate the approach California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger used to get that state’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) made law in 2006.

    Part of the Governator’s success rested on his Nixon-to-China approach. Schwarzenegger had room to maneuver because he was a Republican standing up for the environment. Earlier moves by President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency Director Lisa Jackson, like aggressive preparations to regulate U.S. greenhouse gas emissions (GhGs) if Congress does not act, were oriented toward the left end of the political spectrum. The President’s more recent Old Energy-friendly moves have taken his environmental policy back toward the center of the spectrum.

    With endorsements of “safe” nuclear energy and “environmentally benign” offshore drilling, the President is obviously laying the groundwork for the bipartisan effort it will take to pass a climate and energy bill and get the U.S. into the world’s fight against global climate change. There may be one flaw in the President’s strategy: As events at this moment transpiring in California demonstrate, it’s not 2006 anymore.

    AB 32 is the most important piece of Governor Schwarzenegger’s legacy. Without it, he leaves only a state politically divided and financially stuck; with it, he leaves a state at the forefront of the fight against climate change, a demonstration of perhaps the grandest and most courageous leadership of any Governor in the last half century. But the Governor’s would-be Republican successors are “recovered” from the bipartisanship Schwarzenegger forged to pass AB 32. They see in his climate law a chance to run against California’s liberal Democratic establishment and gather to themselves California's disafffected and overburdened taxpayers.

    Backing a proposed ballot measure that would roll back AB 32 until California’s current 12% unemployment rate falls to 5%, Republican Gubernatorial hopefuls Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner expect to capture a public sentiment more interested in jobs than climate change.

    click to enlarge

    The fact is, however, that the fight against climate change is one of California’s biggest economic strengths. The energy/environment sector is one of the state’s economically strongest, having held its job and revenue capacities significantly better than the overall economy. (See GREEN JOBS BEAT OTHER JOBS )

    Or, as the Updated Economic Analysis of California’s Climate Change Scoping Plan, from the California Environmental Protection Agency Air Resources Board (CARB), puts it: “This analysis
    confirms that successful implementation of these measures will mean that we can achieve the goals of AB 32 without adversely affecting the growth of California’s economy over the next decade, especially as the state recovers from the current economic downturn…” and “…these policies can shift the driver of economic growth from polluting energy sources to clean energy and efficient technologies, with little or no economic penalty.”

    These conclusions are made with a fully calculated recognition of the impacts of the 2008-09 recession. Furthermore, as the CARB report says, the conclusions are the same as those in most other analyses of AB 32 and of analyses of similar policies in the national energy and climate change legislation proposed by the Obama administration.

    The inside word is that Big Oil money from Texas will soon have bought the necessary signatures to get the measure that would roll back AB 32 onto California’s November ballot. (See The Fight for Renewables in California)

    The Governor and California’s environmental community are ready to go to work in a massive campaign to defend the climate change law. The battle over the ballot measure will likely be epic, on the proportions of that over 2008’s Proposition 8, which the gay community believes it could have won if its organizing had been better. With the Schwarzenegger legacy on the line, more inside reports say the Governor and his forces are likely to be as well-organized as they have ever been.

    Much more than a political legacy will be decided. This is a moment when the case for climate change will have to face its deniers in the public arena. Advocates for a New Energy economy will meet well-funded voices of Big Oil and Big Coal and the old ways.

    Because the ability of the Obama administration to make the case for fighting climate change and building a New Energy economy could be decided by the outcome, the fate of the world’s fight against global climate change could be decided in the struggle.

    click to enlarge

    THE DETAILS
    AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, is the set of laws, requirements and guidelines by which California intends to cut its emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and to cut emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. In the broadest sense, it would cut greenhouse gas emissions (GhGs) through improved Energy Efficiency for all of the state’s energy consumption and by moving the state away from dependence on fossil fuels.

    The current report’s updated economic and energy forecast is based on the California Energy Commission’s 2009 California Integrated Energy Policy Report and considers the 2008-09 recession in its calculations of growth and impacts. It assumes a slower rate of growth for the state because of the ongoing slow recovery.

    The new assessment of AB 32 impacts on the California economy is considered conservative because it does not calculate effects of innovation likely to come from the price placed on emissions by the Cap&Trade system, an incentive specifically designed to drive innovation and lead to economic opportunity.

    Specific cost effective approaches designated by AB 32:
    (1) Expand and strengthen existing Energy Efficiency programs and building and appliance standards;
    (2) Meet a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) requiring the state’s regulated utilities to obtain 33% of their power from New Energy sources by 2020;
    (3) Develop a California Cap&Trade system that caps present GhGs and progressively ratchets down to 1990 levels by 2020 and integrate the California emissions allowance trading market into the one being developed throughout the Western U.S. and Canada by the Western Climate Initiative to create a regional emissions trading market;
    (4) Set transportation-related GhG reduction targets for regions throughout California and develop and implement policies and incentives to achieve the targets; and
    (5) Adopt and implement other emissions-reduction measures already on the state’s agenda (clean-car standards, goods-movement measures, and the Low Carbon Fuel Standard).

    click to enlarge

    The Cap&Trade system and complimentary measures developed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) of the state’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are specifically designed to be cost effective in the short-term and medium-term and still accelerate the transition to a New Energy economy so as to meet the 2050 emissions reduction goal.

    The plan considers California’s program and elements of the proposed national policy and a variety of combinations.

    Key complementary measures:
    (1) More Energy Efficiency programs,
    (2) Increased New Energy for electricity,
    (3) More use in buildings and power plants of Combined Heat and Power,
    (4) A new, stronger vehicle emissions standard,
    (5) Implementation of the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, and
    (6) Improved land-use planning.

    If California were to proceed with business as usual (BAU), its economy would grow an average of 2.4% per year from 2006 to 2020. Its fuel expenditures would increase an average of 1.7% per year.

    click to enlarge

    With the Cap&Trade and copmplimentary measures in AB 32, economic growth would still be 2.4% per year, fuel expenditures would fall to 4.9% overall and GhGs would be reduced 15% below BAU. Because of the drop in GhGs from the complementary measures, the Cap&Trade allowance price would be lower, ~$21 per metric ton, and there would be further savings in investment and fuel expenditures.

    According to CARB calculations, even if the electricity, natural gas, and transportation sectors do not provide the level of GhG reductions anticipated, the Cap&Trade system alone will only cause a small decrease from BAU in the California 2020 economy.

    The CARB report mentions without quantifying 2 potential costs of inaction.
    (1) The potential effects of climate change on California are described as “severe economic impacts.” California’s Climate Adaptation Strategy was designed to deal with the impacts but there is a real risk of potentially high and unavoidable costs.
    (2) Dependence on fossil fuels makes the California economy subject to volatile world oil markets which the price spike in the summer of 2008 demonstrated is very potentially costly.

    The CARB report shifted some assumptions to BAU about initiatives that were previously only in California and therefore part of the AB 32 impacts but have now been adopted at the federal level, most significantly the:
    (1) Higher vehicle emissions standards, previously a California initiative from state legislator Fran Pavley but adopted by the Obama EPA; and the
    (2) Energy Efficiency standards pioneered by California and adopted in the 2007 Federal Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA).

    click to enlarge

    The report also shifted an RES of 20% by 2020 and new criteria pollutant requirements into BAU assumptions because they will happen with or without AB 32.

    California’s projected 2020 GhGs with AB 32 are estimated at 525 million metric tons (MMT). The BAU estimate is 600 MMT.

    CARB’s report applied 2 primary economic modeling tools which, used together, provide the most comprehensive analysis of AB 32’s impacts that has ever been done.
    (1) The Energy 2020 model, a multi-region energy model with complete and detailed simulations of demand and supply for all fuels, shows the GhG impacts and opportunities on varying fuels, subsidies and standards.
    (2) The Environmental Dynamic Revenue Assessment Model (E-DRAM), a computable general equilibrium (CGE) model of the California economy, is used to analyze impacts of policy that ripple through multiple markets.

    CARB also investigated the potential effects of AB 32 on small business and on job creation and the economic value of criteria pollutant reduction likely to come with GhG reductions.

    click to enlarge

    The analysis of AB 32 was performed in conjunction with the Economic and Allocation Advisory Committee (EAAC) appointed in the summer of 2009 by Cal\EPA Secretary Adams and CARB Chairman Nichols to advise CARB on the updated economic analysis.

    Impact on the Economy
    The overall rate of California’s economic growth will be virtually unchanged through 2020. There will be shifts within the economy toward “a cleaner and more efficient future…” Gross State Product, income and labor demand would essentially remain the same.

    An increase in energy prices would be offset by decreases in fuel consumption due to increased Energy Efficiency throughout the economy.

    click to enlarge

    4 variations on the basic scenario were used:
    (1) An alternative Cap&Trade design scenario measured the impact of a system in which the use of offsets is not allowed. (Offsets are defined as credits for GhG reductions earned through investments in outside sources.) The model shows that offsets help contain emissions allowance prices, prevent higher energy prices and thereby sustain economic growth.

    (2) A reduced transportation scenario measured the impact of less effective transportation-sector measures.

    (3) A reduced electricity/natural gas scenario measured the impact of less successful electricity- and natural gas-sector measures.

    4) A combined scenario measured the impact of both less effective transportation-sector measures and less successful electricity- and natural gas-sector measures.

    click to enlarge

    The conclusions drawn from comparing the varying scenarios is that (1) the more effective the complementary measures are, the less stringent the Cap&Trade system needs to be and (2) the less effective they are, the higher the Cap&Trade system allowance prices will go, driving energy costs and all associated costs up. It is clear from these conclusions that it is vital to design and implement emissions market mechanisms that stabilize the Cap&Trade system and contain allowance prices.

    But even with a least effective scenario in which both less effective transportation-sector measures and less successful electricity- and natural gas-sector measures resulted, the Gross State Product would likely still only be 1.4% lower than BAU.

    For all the foregoing reasons, AB 32 is unlikely to do significant harm to most California small businesses. Impacts are likely to be less than on the economy as a whole. Most small businesses will only see indirect costs from AB 32.

    Some small businesses will have increased employment and output. Though the report does not calculate it, many will benefit more from improved and more accessible Energy Efficiency than they will be hurt by higher energy costs.

    Other economic analyses validate the findings of the CARB study: The overall impact of AB 32’s provisions on GSP can reliably be expected to be small and retard growth little.

    click to enlarge

    References
    (1) Costs of AB 32 on California Small Businesses
    (The most widely disseminated anti-AB 32 study)
    (2) AB32: Analysis of Two Studies by Varshney and Associates
    (California Legislative Analyst assessment of the most widely disseminated anti-AB 32 studies)
    (3) Experts Discredit Small Business Studies
    (A green business case)
    (4) Climate Policy and Economic Growth in California: A Comparative Analysis of Different Economic Impact Projections
    (5) The Economic Impact of AB 32 on California Small Businesses
    (6) Energy Prices & California’s Economic Security
    (U.C. Berkeley)

    click to enlarge

    QUOTES
    - From the CARB report on AB 32: “…The reference case in this analysis shows that if the Scoping Plan were not implemented, California’s economy would grow at an annual average rate of 2.4 percent between 2006 and 2020, with fuel expenditures increasing at an annual rate of 1.7 percent. By contrast, when the Scoping Plan measures are in place, increased investment in efficient buildings and technologies and in advanced fuels pays off: the economic growth rate remains 2.4 percent per year but fuel expenditures are reduced 4.9 percent and GHG emissions reduced by 15 percent relative to the reference case. The emissions reductions achieved through the complementary measures also help limit the allowance price in the cap-and-trade program to $21 per metric ton. Moreover, the analysis shows that success in reducing GHG emissions from the passenger transportation sector can translate into savings both in investment and fuel expenditures…”

    click to enlarge

    - From the CARB report on AB 32: “The potential effects of climate change on California that are expected to occur could cause severe economic impacts. While California has developed a Climate Adaptation Strategy to help alleviate these potential costs, the risk of potentially high economic costs from climate change in California remains real. While California acting alone cannot reduce emissions sufficiently to change the course of climate change worldwide, our leadership has played and continues to play a critical role in moving federal and international climate policy forward. Successful implementation of the AB 32 Scoping Plan, in particular, has the potential to help move federal climate policy in a positive direction during the coming years. The magnitude of the impacts that California could face from climate change provide a useful context for understanding the significance of the relatively modest economic costs associated with taking the actions described…”

    click to enlarge

    - From the CARB report on AB 32: “In the current analysis, [Energy 2020 and E-DRAM] are used in tandem. The combination provides a more complete picture of the economic effects of AB 32 implementation than could be achieved using either model alone. These two models help answer different key questions relating to the economic effects of implementing AB 32. Energy 2020 provides insights into GHG emissions reductions, changes in fuel expenditures, changes in investment by year and by sector, and shifts in the allowance price for the cap-and-trade program. E-DRAM complements these results by providing insights into changes in statewide output and in income and employment across different socioeconomic groups…One of the key reasons to adopt a policy like the cap-and-trade program, which puts a price on GHG emissions, is to provide incentives throughout the economy for companies and inventors to seek out new technologies that increase efficiency or enable lower-polluting fuels to be used. While Energy 2020 captures the potential for increased investment in more efficient technologies or alternative fuels, it cannot fully account for the technological innovation that a long-term price on GHG emissions is intended to spur.”

    QUICK NEWS, 8-31: NEW MPG CAR RATINGS FROM EPA; STUDY FORESEES WIND MARKET GROWTH; FIRST TEST OF NEW SUN; IDAHO GROWING GEOTHERMAL

    NEW MPG CAR RATINGS FROM EPA
    New Stickers Will Go Beyond M.P.G. in Rating Cars
    Jim Motavalli, August 30, 2010 (NY Times)

    "The Obama administration proposed… two alternatives to the window stickers in new vehicles, including one that would assign letter grades [from A+ to D] for fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions.

    "…[It was] immediately denounced by some industry groups, which said the government should not be making value judgments for consumers about vehicles…[If] applied now, many 2010 vehicles could get fairly low grades because the ratings favor fuel-efficient electric and hybrid models…The second possible window sticker would also contain information about fuel economy and emissions, but would not assign a letter grade. Both stickers offer estimates of annual fuel costs …[Beyond] fuel economy estimates for city and highway driving…the alternative labels would also include a code that, when read by a cellphone, would deliver further information about the vehicle."


    Alternative 1 (click to enlarge)

    "The new stickers were developed by the safety agency and the Environmental Protection Agency in response to the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which called on the two agencies to rate vehicles on fuel economy, greenhouse gases and smog-forming pollutants. The new label will be affixed to cars and trucks beginning in the 2012 model year…The agencies will accept public comment for 60 days before choosing one of the two stickers…

    "The highest grade, A+, with fuel economy rated as equivalent to 117 miles per gallon and up, would be reserved in a sample rating for “zero emission” electric cars. Plug-in hybrid electric cars (which get rated at the equivalent of 59 to 116 miles per gallon) would get an A grade, and some conventional hybrids, like the Toyota Prius and Ford Fusion, would get an A-. Other hybrids, like the Nissan Altima, Ford Escape and Toyota Camry, would receive B+ grades."


    Alternative 2 (click to enlarge)

    "If the grading system existed now, under assumptions developed by the agencies, 306 small cars from model year 2010 would receive a B, only eight S.U.V.’s would receive a B+ (68 would get a C), and the highest grade for a van would be a C+…

    "Dave McCurdy, chief executive of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, an industry group, [rejected] the rating system…Some environmental and consumer groups reacted more positively…[For electric vehicles, the grade] system would probably require dividing the United States into separate regions, because some parts of the country have higher concentrations of coal-burning plants and thus a greater upstream burden…"



    STUDY FORESEES WIND MARKET GROWTH
    Utility Scale Wind Turbines Market Shares, Strategies, and Forecasts, Worldwide, 2010 to 2016; Utility Grade Wind Turbines Provide Electricity at Competitive Prices
    August 2, 2010 (WinterGreen Research)

    "…[A] new study on Utility Scale Wind Turbine Market Strategy, Market Shares, and Market Forecasts [from WinterGreen Research concludes that world] markets are poised to achieve significant growth as wind electricity generation has reached cost parity with fossil fuels and demand for…electricity…[will increase with the] use of electric vehicles…

    "…[Wind] energy accounted for 62% (17 GW) of the new electricity generation capacity installed in the European Union (EU) in 2009. Rural economic development…[and] energy price stability [increase with wind, which also…[addresses] global climate change…[T]he BP oil spill has had what promises to be a long term impact on the [energy] market [and political leaders could be more inclined to favor policies that support] wind …[H]ydrogen storage and…stationary fuel cells …[could also favorably] impact [demand]…"


    click to enlarge

    "The US government accountability office (GAO)…[found that] federal incentives for electricity between Fiscal Year (FY) 2002 and FY 2007…largely [went] to fossil fuels. About [$13.7 billion], [$13.7 billion] was provided to fossil fuels… $2.8 billion [went] to renewables…[T]his policy ratio is likely to change [as more power producers realize swind] is the most economically viable of the renewable energy sources.

    "Wind power systems have proved that they can readily be accommodated into…[existing transmission] system operations reliably and economically…[They co-fire with] natural gas systems to create a hybrid unit that operates continuously…Similar designs are evolving… that operate in combination with solar energy systems."


    click to enlarge

    "…Electric vehicles will depend on curbside and garage based metered delivery of electricity. Electricity generated from renewable sources will [likely eventually] replace gasoline…

    "…[The] utility scale wind turbine market [was] $35.6 billion in 2009…[and is] anticipated to reach $130 billion by 2016…because the major vendors and their customers have [the needed] access to capital markets…Only natural gas will compete with the renewable sources…[for utility scale new capacity as] aging existing facilities are retired…"



    FIRST TEST OF NEW SUN
    Skyline Solar’s First Elevated HGS 1000 System to Power the Kona, Hawai’i…
    August 30, 2010 (Skyline Solar)

    "…[Skyline Solar’s] arrays for commercial, industrial, government and utility markets…[will have the] first elevated installation of its High Gain Solar (HGS) 1000 system at the Kona, Hawai’i headquarters of Metcalf West, a leading residential and commercial construction firm. The 22 kilowatt project will be commissioned at the Metcalf West headquarters by Hawai’i Governor Linda Lingle and Hawai’i County Mayor Billy Kenoi…"

    [Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle:] “As we continue advancing our comprehensive clean energy initiative (HCEI) with the goal of generating 70 percent of all energy from renewable sources and efficiencies, it is critical to have the private sector partner with our state energy office in its effort to attain energy security and independence…By adopting the very latest in sustainable solar technology from Skyline Solar, Metcalf West has established itself as a shining example of Hawai’i’s energy future.”


    click to enlarge

    [Terry Metcalf, founder, Metcalf West, LLC:] “Energy and land are both very expensive resources in Hawai’i making an elevated Skyline Solar HGS system the perfect solar solution for Metcalf West…Skyline Solar HGS combined everything we were looking for in a renewable energy system—proven technologies, fewer parts, outstanding performance and upgradeable components—in a design that could be elevated and provide shading for our parking facility. We see a lot of potential in Skyline Solar for future projects.”

    click to enlarge

    "The HGS 1000 system offers its customers a number of breakthrough innovations not found in traditional solar systems, including…[1] HGS architecture…[with] ten times more energy per gram of silicon versus traditional flat-panel systems in sunny locations. The system utilizes tracking, passive cooling and concentration components, reducing the amount of silicon required by 90 percent…[2] Power-producing components…[that] are field upgradeable, allowing system-owners to “future-proof” their investment…[3] HGS 1000 arrays [that] combine industry-proven silicon cells, durable reflector materials and single-axis tracking into a complete, easy-to-deploy system…[4] [C]ommodity materials [made] with globally available manufacturing processes…[to improve] financial payback and scalability…

    "The first elevated HGS system is just the latest in a number of significant 2010 milestones for Skyline Solar…[It] unveiled its first commercial project…[and] was awarded one of the first patents under the US Patent & Trademark Office’s Green Technology Pilot Program…"



    IDAHO GROWING GEOTHERMAL
    Use of Idaho's geothermal resources on the rise
    August 30, 2010 (AP via KIVI/ABC-TV)

    "A farming operation north of Idaho's capital city is taking advantage of the region's geothermal heat and water to extend its growing season, just the latest example of how energy-conscious residents are putting the largely unseen reservoir beneath their feet to work.

    "…Sweet Valley Organic, located in a valley near rural Emmett, Idaho, has a geothermal greenhouse…It also uses outdoor pipes to keep its crops from freezing."


    click thru for the complete presentation

    "…[N]ational and local lawmakers in Boise are promoting the expansion of the geothermal system that links the city to Boise State University.

    "And U.S. Geothermal Inc., an energy developer, is operating a 10-megawatt plant in…southern Idaho and hopes to have another electricity facility…up and running by 2012."

    Monday, August 30, 2010

    ENERGY EFFICIENCY – THE SOUTH’S ANSWER TO NEW ENERGY (from April 15)

    This could be the most important report to come out in 2010. It demonstrates to the section of the U.S. most resistant to change the unequivocal value in facing the future. It may not sway those who resist change for emotional reasons or those with vested interests. But there is usually a person or two interested in making money with new technologies or saving money on their power bill. If those folks respond, the almost impenetrable wall of Southern resistance to the New Energy economy could develop cracks.

    Energy Efficiency in the South
    Marilyn A. Brown, Etan Gumerman, Xiaojing Sun, Youngsun Baek, Joy Wang, Rodrigo Cortes and Diran Soumonni, April 12, 2010 (Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance)

    THE POINT
    A new report on energy efficiency could be the key to breaking the logjam in Congress on energy and climate legislation.

    Somebody needs to slip Energy Efficiency in the South, by researchers at Georgia Tech University working on behalf of the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance, under the Oval Office door so the President can see that it gets to the contingent of Southern Senators who have so far managed to obstruct his administration's effort to write climate and energy legislation on the grounds that such a bill would do their states economic harm.

    Report after report has emerged in the last 2 years demonstrating that the fastest transition to a New Energy economy is via a major emphasis on Energy Efficiency. At the same time, the recession and the rising cost of energy have set state and national leaders looking for ways to reduce expenditures, increase revenues and grow jobs. The economic cause has been enthusiastically embraced by those fighting climate change as a means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GhGs).

    Previous studies have demonstrated the great value of Energy Efficiency for individual Southern states (see this on North Carolina and this on Texas). This study is uniquely important because it shows how an aggressive move to Energy Efficiency will bring net new jobs and significant revenues to states across the entire Southeast. If there are any Southern Senators looking for an excuse to move away from the Old Energies and take up the cause of the future, this study gives them an excuse to do so.

    The report offers extensive detail on how much can be gained by the generation of Negawatts (the watts saved from energy not used). Not only are negawatts the cheapest source of New Energy but investing in the Energy Efficiency that produces them saves $2-to-$3 dollars for every dollar that is spent, savings that can be invested in New Energy megawatts.

    click to enlarge

    The report's primary and well-documented research offers detail on the South's Energy Efficiency (EE) capacities in the residential and commercial buildings and industry (RCI) sectors and identifies the EE policies that will drive their development. It uses an unprecedentedly rigorous computational model that applies accurately to the many states across the South. It concludes with 4 major findings.

    (1) Aggressive EE initiatives in the Southern states could significantly eliminate the growth of the RCI sectors' energy consumption from 2010-to-2030.
    (2) 9 identified EE policies would significantly reduce the need for fossil fuel power plants.
    (3) Huge gains in jobs and cuts in energy costs would come from the 9 EE polices.
    (4) The 9 EE policies would cut water consumption used for cooling by about half.

    Bottom line: Implementation of the 9 EE policies would require an investment of ~$200 billion and create savings of ~$448 billion. It’s really that simple, in dollars and common sense, though certainly it will be a challenge to win political support and implement the changes.

    Likewise, the region can put 2-to-3 times as many people back to work for every dollar invested in EE as it can for dollars invested in the Old Energies. Combined job growth from EE implementation is equal to 380,000 jobs in 2020 and 520,000 jobs in 2030. The South’s Gross Regional Product (GRP) would likely grow by $1.23 billion in 2020 and by $2.12 billion in 2030.

    Because the report is so thorough and authoritative, the jig is up for the South’s political opposition to national energy and climate legislation. The South has an enormous opportunity, bigger than anything the coal industry, its longtime master, can offer. It is time for these modern-day slaves to the Old Energies to answer the call of their heritage and rebel.

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    THE DETAILS
    The 9 EE policies used in the report were selected because they were judged to be (1) realistically achievable, (2) cost-effective, (3) significantly impactful and (4) quantifiable. They are by no means the only plausible EE policies. They were divided into the 3 parts of the RCI (Residential, Commercial, Industrial) energy consumption sectors:

    In the Residential sector -
    (1) Appliance Incentives and Standards,
    (2) Residential Retrofit and Equipment Standards,
    (3) Expanded Weatherization Assistance Program, and
    (4) Building Codes with Third-Party Verification.

    In the Commercial sector -
    (5) Aggressive Commercial Appliance Standards, and
    (6) Commerical Retrofit Incentives.

    In the Industrial sector -
    (7) Process Improvement Policy,
    (8) Assessments of Plant Utility Upgrades, and
    (9) Combined Heat and Power Incentives.


    click to enlarge

    The report’s 4 major findings:

    (1) "Aggressive energy-efficiency initiatives in the South could prevent energy consumption in the RCI sectors from growing over the next twenty years.” This would require state and local, national, utility, business, and personal actions. RCI energy consumption is expected to grow ~16% from 2010-to-2030 without strong EE efforts and standards.

    (2) “Fewer new power plants would be needed with a commitment to energy efficiency.” The implementation of 9 selected EE policies could generate enough Negawatts (i.e., reduce consumption) to allow the retirement of ~25 gigawatts of older fossil fuel-consuming power plants, ~10 gigawatts beyond what is expected with business-as-usual (BAU). Such an implementation would also make it unnecessary to construct a further 49 gigawatts of new power plants to meet RCI electricity needs from 2010-to-2030.

    (3) “Increased investments in cost-effective energy efficiency would generate jobs and cut utility bills.” The 9 EE policies would drive public and private investment that would quickly bring significant economic advances in Southern states. By 2020, the South’s cumulative energy bill would fall $41 billion, moderating the rising cost of electricity. The work to implement EE aggressively would create 380,000 new jobs. The South’s economy would grow by $1.23 billion.

    A series of cost/benefit ratios for 9 policies are almost uniformly favorable, some quite significantly so. Factoring in the value of reduced GhGs, only one policy is not cost effective (though it could be restructured to be moreso).

    (4) “Energy efficiency would result in significant water savings.” The 9 policies would conserve 8.6 billion gallons of freshwater used for cooling in 2020, eliminating 56% of the BAU growth in expected water use for cooling. In 2030, this could be as much as 20.1 billion gallons of conserved water, 45% of growth with BAU.

    click to enlarge

    The impact of EE investments on peak demand reductions is treated in the report as an ancillary benefit and not included in the calculations separately. The report does not assume demand-response or load-management capabilities. Cumulatively, these will undoubtedly make the EE policies described even more effective and beneficial by shifting costly peak energy consumption to off-peak hours.

    The report uses the U.S. Census Bureau definition of the South: The District of Columbia and 16 States from Delaware down the Appalachian Mountains and Southern Atlantic coast and across the Gulf Coast to Texas. It is the largest and fastest growing U.S. region.

    The South has 36% of the U.S. population, 44% of U.S. energy consumption and 48% of the U.S. energy supply. Much of U.S. fossil fuel supply and by far the majority of U.S. fossil fuel consumption is in the South.

    click to enlarge

    The South consumes a disproportionately large part (51%) of U.S. industrial energy. It also has an above-average per capita energy consumption in the RCI sectors: 43% of U.S. electric power, 40% of residential energy and 38% of the commercial building energy.

    The South’s high energy intensity is due to (1) historically low electricity prices, (2) high heating and (especially) cooling loads, (3) a rejection (according to polls) of the energy conservation ethic, (4) a low market penetration (according to market studies) of EE products, and (5) below-average public and private expenditures on EE programs.

    BAU energy consumption in the RCI sectors of the South is expected to grow from ~30,000 TBtu to 35,000+ TBtu between 2010 and 2030. Implementing the 9 EE policies would keep consumption from growing, representing a 16% energy reduction in 2030. EE’s biggest potential impact in percentage reduction of energy use is in the commercial building sector. The biggest potential for absolute energy use reduction is in the industrial sector.

    click to enlarge

    Commercial appliance standards can have the biggest impact. Commercial retrofit incentives can also have cost-effective impacts. Industrial sector process improvements will save natural gas and other fossil fuels. Plant utility upgrades and incentives for combined heat and power systems will also be cost-effective.

    Retrofit incentives and heating, cooling, and water heating equipment standards would have the highest potential for energy savings in the residential sector, more than all 3 other selected EE residential policies (building codes, appliance standards, and expanded weatherization).

    click to enlarge

    BAU forecasts predict 49 gigawatts of new power plants to come on line from 2010-to-2030, mostly combined cycle natural gas plants and new combined natural gas/diesel plants, as well as nuclear, coal plants, and New Energy generation. Some oil and natural gas steam plants are expected to be retired.

    Implementation of the 9 selected EE policies will eliminate the need for all but 7 gigawatts of new generation and allow for a further 20+ gigawatts of plant retirements. It also eliminates the need for most New Energy development in favor of more cost-effective natural gas generation.

    Implementation of the 9 EE policies can save the South $41 billion in lower 2020 energy bills and $71 billion in lower 2030 energy bills. 2030 residential electricity rates would be 17% lower. A typical household would save $26 per month on its electricity bill in 2020 and $50 per month in 2030.

    click to enlarge

    There were 5.4 million unemployed in the South in 2009. The region can put 2-to-3 times as many people back to work for every dollar invested in EE as it can for dollars invested in the Old Energies. Direct and indirect jobs are ~5.6 per $1 million in spending in the South's electric utility sector and ~8.4 jobs per $1 million spending in the South's natural gas sector. Sectors that implement EE (construction, manufacturing) provide ~16.5 jobs per $1 million. (For comparison, all other sectors in the South employ ~13.9 jobs per $1 million dollars.) Combined job growth from EE is equal to 380,000 jobs in 2020 and 520,000 jobs in 2030.

    The South’s Gross Regional Product (GRP) would likely grow by $1.23 billion in 2020 and by $2.12 billion in 2030, a small but significant contribution to the South’s $4.7 trillion economy in 2007.

    click to enlarge

    Each of the 9 EE policies has a different cost-benefit ratio. They are all thoroughly documented in the report. The bottom line is in keeping with the general findings of most other studies. EE implementation in the South will cost ~$200 billion and save ~$448 billion. In other words, the South will get back about $4.50 for every $2 it spends.

    Having been threatened continuously by droughts in this century, the South has become increasingly conscious of water conservation. EE is a means to dramatic water savings because fossil fuel and nuclear power plants require huge quantities of water to generate electricity. Implementation of the 9 EE policies avoids the need for those power plants.

    The result is the elimination of 56% of BAU water consumption through 2020 and 43% of BAU water consumption through 2030. The total water use savings equal the current total water requirement of the entire city of Atlanta.

    On the whole, the citizens of the South (by polling data) do not demonstrate any great interest in climate change or the greenhouse gas emissions (GhGs) that are worsening it. It is nevertheless worth noting that in the coming emissions-constrained economy (the report refers to it as the Carbon Constrained Future, CCF), dialing back the use of its power plants cannot help but save the South significantly.

    click to enlarge

    The report uses a version of the National Energy Modeling System (NEMS) dubbed “SNUG-NEMS” (SNUG = the Southeast NEMS Users Group). It incorporates both “bottom-up” and “top-down” modeling to include complicated factors overlooked by other reports about energy and climate policies.

    QUOTES
    - From Energy Efficiency in the South: “The savings from the greater efficiency stimulated by these nine policies would total approximately $448 billion in present value to the U.S. economy. It would require an investment over the 20-year planning horizon of approximately $200 billion in present value terms. These costs include both public program implementation costs as well as private-sector investments in improved technologies and practices.”

    click to enlarge

    - From Energy Efficiency in the South: “If the South could achieve the substantial energy-efficiency improvements that have already been proven effective in other regions and other nations, carbon emissions across the South would decline, air quality would improve, and plans for building new power plants to meet growing electricity demand could be downsized and postponed, while saving ratepayers money.”

    click to enlarge

    - From Energy Efficiency in the South: “Without new supporting policies, this potential for energy-efficiency improvement will not be realized. Energy-efficiency upgrades require consumer and business investment and they compete with other priorities. With so many demands on financial and human capital, cost-effective energy-efficiency improvements are easily ignored. Through a combination of information dissemination and education, financial assistance, regulations, and capacity building, consumers can be encouraged to invest in energy efficiency. In addition, expanded research and development and public-private partnerships are needed to innovate and deploy transformational technologies that enlarge the efficiency potential over the long run…The ability to convert this vision into reality will depend on the willingness of consumer, business and government leaders to champion the kinds of policies modeled here.”

    QUICK NEWS, 8-30: FLORIDA VOICE FOR NEW ENERGY; TEXAS CALL FOR ENERGY EFFICIENCY; PV 2010; WIND CAN DRIVE ENERGY BILL

    FLORIDA VOICE FOR NEW ENERGY
    Other voices: A warning that we need new sources of energy
    Mark Quirk, August 29, 2010 (Ocala Star-Banner)

    "There are almost 4,000 wells in the Gulf of Mexico - so-called Hurricane Alley. There were 595 separate spills recorded due to hurricanes Katrina and Rita…113 platforms destroyed and 457 pipelines damaged…Approximately 8 million gallons were reported by the industry as spilled…[and] BP first reported that the Deep Water Horizon event was leaking 5,000 gallons per day…[but] it was at least 50 to 100 times worse…

    "How does this affect sea life, beginning with plankton? When plankton dies, larger organisms die for lack of food, and that death works its way up through the food chain to the largest fish and mammals…Plankton are the foundation of life in the world's oceans…[S]ince 1950, plankton levels in the world's oceans have fallen by an astonishing 40 percent…"


    Not the result of offshore wind. (click to enlarge)

    "The EPA warned about the use of dispersal agents…The oil industry refuses to divulge the chemicals used in the dispersants…The oil, chemical and mining industries are joined at the hip and have been responsible for the worst environmental pollution incidents in this nation's history…The drilling moratorium should remain until…the industry answers all questions as to how future catastrophes can be avoided and how to best address them when they do occur. Anything less is reckless…

    "It is time for us to stop the insanity…The Gulf's future, the world's future, should not be placed at risk for the excessive profit of [the oil, chemical and mining industries]…We can provide for our needs with clean, renewable energy. There are many ways to capture the solar energy that bathes this planet. There are many ways to capture the energy of the wind. There are many ways to capture the energy of the movement of our oceans…"


    Time to reach for something better. (click to enlarge)

    "It only took 10 years for us to put a man on the moon after the challenge was made. They almost had to start from scratch to bring that dream to reality. By comparison, we are almost there in the pursuit of clean, renewable energy. We have the technology and tools now. We only need to put them to use.

    "The new industries will create much-needed jobs. Stop letting those who profit from fossil fuels and nuclear power tell you otherwise. A good example: The Port St. Lucie nuclear power plant buys their fuel rods from Chevron and Hess. All fuel-rod purchases are tied to the oil industry. Their tie to the mining industry also joins them at the hip with the oil industry. You are not "sheeple" unless you allow yourself to be misled."



    TEXAS CALL FOR ENERGY EFFICIENCY
    Consolidate efforts in energy efficiency
    Jim Marston, August 28, 2010 (Houston Chronicle)

    "It’s time our state government got serious about energy efficiency and consolidated its random energy efficiency efforts into one agency that will focus on nothing else…

    "…[I]n Texas…[w]hen the mercury creeps toward triple digits, our electric bills soar…[and] the cheapest kilowatt of electricity is the one you don’t have to use…[N]o one is suggesting that Texans go without our air-conditioning…But [s]tudy after study shows that a dollar invested in energy efficiency pays off 2 or 3 to 1. And that’s money in Texans’ pockets…"


    click to enlarge

    "…[W]e’re talking about maintaining our lifestyles and saving money. We’re talking about better insulation, double-paned windows, better circulation, timer thermostats, energy-efficient appliances, innovations like rooftop water heaters, even strategically placed shade trees…and dozens of other commonsense measures…alternatives to soaring utility bills and building more and more power plants.

    "Our state government has paid lip service to energy efficiency (EE) but…it’s been a low priority…Municipally owned utilities like Austin Energy and San Antonio’s CPS Energy are doing a good job of promoting energy efficiency. They provide home energy audits and give generous rebates and other incentives…Some customer-owned rural electric co-ops are also ahead of the curve…But private, investor-owned utility companies…profit from increased consumption…[and] lag far behind…"


    click to enlarge

    "Under current law, the Public Utility Commission (PUC)… is supposed to review and approve the EE programs of the utilities. But other state agencies oversee EE programs, too…Consolidating these efforts into one agency with a clear mandate to promote EE would streamline state regulation and create more savings potential…

    "…Over the past year and a half, the PUC staff has worked on plans to increase the state’s EE goals…[but] the three PUC commissioners, all appointees of Gov. Rick Perry, slashed the staff proposal dramatically. They reduced the efficiency goal from 1 percent of peak demand by 2014 to just one-third of the growth in demand by 2013…barely above the goal already in place…It’s time for the Legislature to take control and create a new, independent state agency that can put consumers first…"



    PV 2010
    U.S. solar market will grow tenfold by 2010, Solarbuzz reports
    August 24, 2010 (Display Plus)

    "Despite a challenging domestic economic environment, the US solar market grew 36% in 2009, according to the United States PV Market 2010 from Solarbuzz…[down from the] 62% growth in 2008…[It was] the third largest solar photovoltaic market, behind Germany and Italy…"

    [Craig Stevens, President, Solarbuzz:] “2009 marked a year of transformation for the US solar market…Changes in the roles of utility companies, new market entrants, lower cost PV modules from Asia and new direct-to-market approaches became more prevalent. As a result, solar companies doing business in the States will need to adapt quickly to these challenges while also being responsive to frequent adjustments in the fragmented incentive and regulatory environment.”

    click to enlarge

    "…California continues to play a critical lead…[with] 53% of US PV on-grid installations…Despite a slowdown in demand from the corporate sector across the U.S., government, residential and utility growth more than offset this effect. Price cuts in residential installations provided the foundation for steady growth…A wide range of start-up markets in other states…[and] new PV incentives were launched…"

    click to enlarge

    "While there are utility barriers to be resolved, including regulatory restrictions on the use of Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), the central policy thrust over the past 12 months remains positive. Sixteen states and Washington D.C. have enacted a Renewable Portfolio Standard with solar or DG set-asides to promote PV…[These] drove around 30% of total on-grid PV installations in 2009…[S]tates are doing their job of stimulating local markets…[D]ispersed funding [spreads risk] compared to countries driven by a single national policy…[and] Federal incentives are playing a much larger role…

    "…SunPower was the leading company…Chevron Energy and SPG Solar performed strongly…Among residential installers in California, REC Solar, SolarCity and Real Goods Solar led the field…Within the next five years, Solarbuzz forecasts the market will grow to between 4.5-5.5 GW… ten times the size of the 2009 market…30% per annum….The US order book for photovoltaic systems currently stands at 12 GW…"



    WIND CAN DRIVE ENERGY BILL
    Could wind push energy bill to fruition?
    Andris E. Cukurs, August 27, 2010 (Reuters)

    "The climate bill may have stalled and, with it, a renewable electricity standard that would promote wind and other renewable-energy sources. But at the same time, wind energy continues to make strong strides.

    "…Google [purchased] 20 years of wind-generated electricity in Iowa, ostensibly to operate its huge data centers…SC Johnson & Son [will use] turbines at its Wisconsin headquarters…its largest European manufacturing plant…[and] half its Ziploc plant…[C]orporations [are] leading the way…Major electric utilities ramp up wind energy gradually alongside long-term incentives…yet wind energy still generated just 1.25 percent of our electricity in 2008…a far cry from the 20 percent goal the U.S. Energy Department set for wind’s share of the U.S. electric supply by 2030…[and] far below the Energy Information Agency’s [2012] projection…[of] 5 percent…[T]he U.S. added only 1239 megawatts of wind power installations in the first half of 2010…the lowest level since 2007. Manufacturing investment in [also below] 2008-2009…"


    click to enlarge

    "Wind promotes national security…has the tremendous potential to create jobs…[and] deliver clean, affordable, reliable domestic energy to promote economic vitality and environmental quality…Wind-power projects created 35,000 new jobs in 2008…[It] produces no emissions and no dangerous radioactive waste…[and] doesn’t consume any non-renewable resources…[It] is free and…can be captured efficiently…[T]hree-quarters of Americans feel that increasing renewable energy and decreasing U.S. dependence on foreign oil are the nation’s top energy priorities…89 percent of respondents – 84 percent of Republicans, 93 percent of Democrats and 88 percent of Independents – believe increasing the amount of energy the nation gets from wind is a good idea.

    "Wind energy…supplies more than 20 percent of the energy consumed in Denmark and more than 11 percent in Spain and Portugal…Wind energy…[is price] competitive with fossil sources of generation…[T]ransmission issues [are not insurmountable]…[O]ne-third of the electricity that wind farms generate will become a reliable source of around-the-clock power…through electricity grid interconnections…[W]ind turbines generate electricity 65 percent to 80 percent of the time, so…[it] is variable. But no power plant generates at its maximum 100 percent potential…[With the modern grid,] no need exists to back up every megawatt of wind energy with a megawatt of fossil fuel or dispatchable power…[W]hile wind energy is naturally variable, it’s not unreliable…[It] should serve as one portion of a diversified energy portfolio."


    click to enlarge

    "…[Other facts:]…[I]t’s difficult to distinguish the sound of a turbine from the rustling of corn stalks…Wind turbines kill…28,500 [birds] a year – while buildings kills 550 million; power lines, 130 million; cats, 100 million; autos, 80 million; and pesticides, 67 million…Wind towers do need concrete and steel for their foundations, but...[not] the gargantuan amount of concrete and steel required for a nuclear plant or a hydroelectric power plant.

    "…[I]t’s hard to question that the advantages of wind far outweigh the negatives…The U.S. needs a national renewable-electricity standard that would set a percentage, say 15 percent by 2020, of electricity generated for utilities…A growing number of major countries in Europe, Asia and elsewhere, as well as several states in the U.S. such as California and Texas, already have set ambitious standards. For the U.S., a national RES is essential to foster stable, long-term investment in wind energy…Will it take another crisis before we wake up to the clear value of wind energy? Let’s not find out…"

    Sunday, August 29, 2010

    NEW ENERGY IN THE FIGHT FOR AFGHANISTAN

    Renewable Energy at Work in War Zones
    Bill Scanlon, August 5, 2010 (National Renewable Energy Laboratory Newsroom)

    "…[W]arfare and renewable energy have had a rough relationship…It's tough to erect wind turbines or solar panels when the enemy keeps blowing things up…Still, Lt. Col. Brian Stevens of the Texas Army National Guard…leads a group of 66 soldiers who want to help bring sustainable agriculture and renewable energy to rural Afghanistan…"

    [Lt. Col. Brian Stevens, Energy Executive, Texas Army National Guard:] "There's no national power grid in Afghanistan…Power is generated where it's needed, usually using a diesel generator…There's a little bit of micro-hydro power, a little bit of wind, a little bit of solar already in Afghanistan, built by Coalition units, the Afghan government, and non-government organizations…Unfortunately it's usually not very sustainable by the Afghan government. In most cases, they don't have the trained people, the supplies or the means to continue the operations. As soon as the sponsors pull away, the installations typically don't survive very long.”

    Look at that sun! (click to enlarge)

    "Stevens hopes to change that, knowing that the task is formidable…[I]nstead of immediately erecting devices that will catch the wind or the sun's rays, his National Guard unit will focus on education and how to integrate these capabilities into the agricultural sector…"

    [Lt. Col. Brian Stevens, Energy Executive, Texas Army National Guard:] "Any projects that we would build directly would become lucrative targets of the Taliban…We're hoping to work with the Afghan government to implement a curriculum at the college, then build a demonstration plant that the university would own…They could use it as a hands-on solar and wind power learning experience. That way you'd have educated young people able to sustain projects and build bigger projects down the road, while they also develop suppliers and experience."

    There places with excellent wind. (click to enlarge)

    "The Taliban and Al Qaeda can blow up things and chase the population away, but…[they can’t destroy the knowledge of how to do things]… Most of all, Stevens wants to avoid doing something counterproductive, such as building wind farms where the wind isn't strong enough, or putting up solar panels where there is too much shade…[T]he most successful renewable energy program in Afghanistan has used micro-hydro, generating power from the substantial spring melt off of snow running down the mountains…Afghanistan has a four-month windy season in the spring, the same time of year when micro-hydro has the greatest potential. In the summer, it gets hot and dry in many places, ideal for generating solar energy."

    [Lt. Col. Brian Stevens, Energy Executive, Texas Army National Guard:] "In Afghanistan, even the easy stuff is hard, politically complicated…And you have the Taliban and anti-government forces. Some of them are just criminals, opportunists wanting to get their cut. So they don't want to see this (reconstruction success) happen…There is the extreme element in every country. But most of the Afghan people want the same things we do — security, drinking water, they want their kids to be able to go to school. There is an element that wants to establish a functional government, and an extremist element that wants power and contro…By doing this, we can help protect the Afghan people and prevent the extremists from attacking our country again…[T]he Afghans are great people, very hospitable and gracious. They just don't have many of the great opportunities that we have, yet."

    INDIA’S POTENT WIND

    Study: Wind Energy Could Fulfill 24% of India’s Power Demand by2030
    Mridul Chadha, August 13, 2010 (Clean Technica)

    "…[W]ith the right and sustained incentives to the wind energy sector, it can generate as much as 24 percent of India’s total power demand by 2030…[A recent] study conducted by the Global Wind Energy Council and the Indian Wind Turbine Manufacturers Association found that India needs a national level revolution in the wind energy sector similar to the National Solar Mission which aims at installing 20,000 MW of solar energy power plants by 2022.

    "…[A]t 12,010 MW, [wind power] comprises of nearly 70 percent of the total renewable energy generation capacity installed in India… [India’s installed capacity makes it] the fifth largest wind energy market…[but] there is a huge gap in the installed capacity and the actual generation..."


    click to enlarge

    "…[India’s Suzlon is] the world’s third largest wind turbine manufacturer…[Suzlon] has now mastered the process of manufacturing, designing, installation, power evacuation and maintenance of the wind farm according to the customers needs…[and] has considerably streamlined the process of wind farm installation especially for the private players…[To deal with] the gap between installed capacity and actual generation…consistent investment in research and development needs to be made. Suzlon can lead the way here as well…[I]mprovements in wind turbine designs and generation systems [can] bridge the gap between installed capacity and actual generation…

    "India [has] yet to assess the offshore wind energy potential…[and] current government data…does not measure the true wind energy resource available. With the improvement in technology and increase in the hub height of the wind turbine it has become possible to generate more electricity than thought earlier. India must utilize the vast untapped wind energy resource it is blessed with…"


    Both Suzlon and REPower, its subsidiary, are among the leaders. (click to enlarge

    "Tariffs for power generated from wind farm is the most competitive to coal-generated power among all renewable energy sources. Government-backed policies, availability of efficient technology and financial aid through Clean Development Mechanism have made the tariff rates cheaper…[I]ndependent power producers [can] sell the power generated to power exchanges or through individual power purchase agreements [for] higher tariffs rates. Similar, economic and financial incentives need to be offered to investors in order to sustain the growth in the sector.

    "…[200 MW were] added from April to June this year…[thanks to] the favorable investment environment…[but] pockets of resources remain untapped, specifically, along the coastline. For further and sustained growth it is important that the government helps the private sector by, providing incentives in terms of attractive tariffs, setting up research and development facilities necessary for developing low-cost but high efficiency wind turbines and developing new sites for wind energy exploitation."

    THE COST OF SUN COMING DOWN

    PV Module Costs and Prices – What is Really Happening?
    Sam Wilkinson, 12 August 2010 (World of Photovoltaics)

    "It is earnings call season once again for solar PV module suppliers…Q2’10 looks set to continue the market’s recent record setting trend…A few things immediately stand out from the first few calls…

    "PV Module Costs are Down…[F]eed-in tariffs (FiT) and incentive schemes in major PV markets such as Germany are set to continue decreasing…[so] suppliers are maintaining a strong focus on reducing costs…in order to remain competitively priced and profitable…[and] to gain independence from the subsidy schemes…First Solar…[drove] its costs down 8% [in Q2’10] to $0.74 per watt, citing improved throughput, increased efficiencies and reduced material costs…"


    From IMS Research (click to enlarge)

    "…[Because] increased volumes and high utilizations [are] predicted in the third quarter, IMS Research forecasts that module production costs will fall once again in Q3’10…[but] the supply of wafers remains short…[C]rystalline cell manufacturers (particularly those that are not vertically integrated) are predicted to see increases in raw material costs, handing some advantage back to thin film suppliers such as First Solar and making it more difficult to reduce [short-term] costs further…

    "…IMS Research…[data] from Asian and US suppliers…[showed a] decline of factory-gate selling prices…[despite] current sky-high levels of demand and tight supply…[It is because of Q2’s] decrease in the revenue generated by each PV module sold, [but] due to exchange rate issues this has not translated into any decrease in prices to wholesalers, distributers or end-customers…Europe accounted for…82% of [Q2’10] PV installations…[but t6he bulk of] modules were supplied…[using non-Euro] currencies…[The depreciation of the Euro against the US Dollar and the Renminbi has cut into revenues of many module manufacturers but benefited European suppliers]…"




    "…There is almost no uncertainty surrounding demand for PV in the second half of this year and 2010 will certainly prove to be another remarkable year…PV module shipments are forecast to increase by an incredible 60% over 2009 to reach 15.6 GW…[D]riven by further cuts [in the German feed-in tariff] which will take place on October 1st and January 1st 2011…module shipments are forecast to increase to more than 4 GW in Q3’10…Crystalline module prices are predicted to remain relatively unaffected…

    "Beyond 2010 the situation is less clear…[especially because of] multiple FiT reductions in the largest European markets heading into 2011…[It is likely there will be] another unhealthy drop in demand (similar to that experienced early in 2009 following the demise of the Spanish market)…IMS Research forecasts that installations in EMEA will decline by 80% Q-o-Q in Q1…[to] quickly reverse the current imbalance between supply and demand and average PV module prices are forecast to [trend down]…[Though First Solar is expanding its production capacity by 500-700 MW,] most agree that 2011 demand cannot remain as strong as 2010…"

    SCOTLAND SEES JOBS IN OFFSHORE WIND

    Scotland's offshore wind sector could produce 28,000 jobs
    24 August 2010 (BBC News)

    "Scotland's offshore wind industry could create 28,000 direct jobs and generate £7.1bn of investment over the next decade…Scottish Renewables said [it is Scotland’s] greatest economic opportunity in a generation…[A] further 20,000 posts could be created indirectly.

    "Publication of the [new report detailing these opportunities came right] after plans for the world's first floating wind farm were announced …Potential sites include in the sea off Lewis and Aberdeenshire…Norwegian state-owned energy company Statoil has been assessing the locations ahead of progressing the floating farm proposal further."


    click to enlarge

    "The new study, carried out by consultancy firm IPA Energy + Water Economics, is said to be the first comprehensive research into the potential impact of offshore wind on the Scottish economy…[The 28,000 direct jobs] and 20,000 posts in related businesses…contrast with the current 463 people [that] are directly employed in the sector in Scotland.

    "The report, titled "Scottish Offshore Wind: Creating an Industry", outlines four alternative visions for the industry's future growth and potential to create tens of thousands of jobs…[I]t warns that significant employment will only be achieved with investment in port facilities, national electricity grid reinforcement and skills."


    click to enlarge

    "Looking at the best-case scenario in terms of job creation, the report suggested an industry on the scale of the oil and gas sector could emerge by 2020…A previous report on the potential benefits of harnessing wave and tidal power suggested £2.5bn could be spent in Scotland and 5,300 jobs created by 2020.

    "Industry forum Scottish Renewables and development agency Scottish Enterprise commissioned the study on offshore wind…"

    JAPAN TO STUDY OCEAN ENERGY

    Japan Plans $154 Million Offshore Plant to Study Ocean Power, Yomiuri Says
    Stuart Biggs, August 25, 2010 (Bloomberg News)

    "Japan’s government is planning a 13 billion yen ($154 million) power plant to study how to generate electricity from the ocean…

    "Construction is expected to be completed by 2012…"


    Japan is ready to move from academia to the real world. (click to enlarge)

    "In addition to using the movement of waves and ocean currents to rotate turbines, the project will harness energy generated through the transfer of heat between surface water and deep water…Oceanic power research in Japan has been limited to universities and lags behind work done in the U.S. and UK…

    "…Japan’s coastal areas [are estimated to] have an ocean power generation capacity of as much as 50 gigawatts, equivalent to ‘dozens’ of nuclear plants…"

    Saturday, August 28, 2010

    Run On Empty Or New Energy

    Wisely, Greenpeace refuses to let pass the devastation brought to the Gulf of Mexico courtesy of BP and its deepwater drilling mates without emphasizing the point that there is a better way. From Greenpeacemagazin via YouTube

    Reggae For Solar In Haiti Hospitals

    It’s easy to forget about Hait’s enormous ongoing need. Here’s a great piece of music as a reminder: Hold on, be strong. From holdon4haiti via YouTube

    Climate Crock Of The Week

    Peter Sinclair deals this week with how carbon dioxide fits and doesn’t fit. Log line: It’s a matter of degree. From greenman3610 via YouTube

    Friday, August 27, 2010

    VARIETY, THE NEW ENERGY SOLUTION

    Green Energy: Why We’re Still Not Using It
    Stephanie Powers, August 25, 2010 (Investopedia)

    "…The country is still heavily reliant on fossil fuels. Only 7% of energy consumed is from renewable sources. So why haven't we made more progress and what can be done to change the numbers?

    "…The total cost to research, build and operate new green energy plants combined with storage and transmission expenses [can be] higher than traditional coal burning plants…The costs are difficult to compare due to the widely disparate nature of individual technologies but the net result is that startup costs are steep…The U.S. government is attempting to jump start green energy projects through the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 by allocating $16.8 billion dollars for energy conservation, research and development…Most projects have a long-term horizon, so results are not immediately available."


    Comparing costs is complicated. (click to enlarge)

    "Eco-investing has been around for a while…[G]reen mutual funds and bonds [are] available to both individual and institutional investors. Private equity dollars fund the green technology industry through venture capital firms…Nonprofit organizations also supply grant money for emerging technology…The local environment determines whether wind, hydro power or solar energy generation is feasible. The availability of fuel, technology and transmission are factors…Also, the local government's willingness to provide tax incentives has a large impact on the costs.

    "Solar photovoltaic (PV) cells, which use solar panels to directly generate energy are popular…but large scale use is expensive. Solar energy used to heat liquids that power large electric plants is actually less costly. Sunlight can be inconsistent, so solar is often used in conjunction with other power sources…Biofuels…are the least expensive renewable energy source. One of the fastest growing segments was ethanol, aided by the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Renewable Fuel Standard which requires fossil fuels to be mixed with a minimum amount of bio-fuels…"


    The costs of NEW generation is the most relevant comparison. (click to enlarge)

    "…Huge wind turbine fields in various parts of the country produced 1.3% of the electricity in the U.S. in 2008. New technology for storage and transmission make wind power cheaper than solar…Hydro power and nuclear power…are more expensive than traditional electric plants and environmental issues plague both. The transportation and long-term disposal of nuclear fuel is remains a concern for nuclear plants. Hydro power poses a threat to wildlife.

    "…Increasing global demand for energy is creating a sense of urgency for the United States to produce domestically generated renewable energy. It is not just an economic concern, but a political one, as oil rich countries assess their future…[but] we are still dependent on fossil fuels for energy…[because of a complicated mix of costs, technology and environmental issues…[N]o one source is best. The diverse implementation of energy sources is a positive step toward energy independence and sustainability."

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