NewEnergyNews: 11/01/2010 - 12/01/2010

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

  • Weekend Video: John Oliver On Visiting Antarctica
  • Weekend Video: Warmest May And June Ever And Non-Stop Record Heat
  • Weekend Video: Meet The Microgrid
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE- STAR WARS PLANET TATOOINE’S CLIMATE CHANGE
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-BIG NEW THREAT TO CLIMATE FROM COAL-TO-GAS IN CHINA
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-INDIA VILLAGE OF 2,400 GOES 100% SOLAR WITH BATTERIES, MICROGRID
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-GERMANY IS WORLD’S MOST EFFICIENT MAJOR ECONOMY
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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

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, July 24:

  • TTTA Thursday-CLIMATE FACTS VERSUS CLIMATE CULTURE
  • TTTA Thursday-MONEY IN WIND UP FOR QUARTER, DOWN FROM 2013
  • TTTA Thursday-MIDWEST BIOFUELS CAN BE NEW ENERGY – UCS STUDY
  • TTTA Thursday-TESLA CHAMPIONS THE PLUG AND THE CAR
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: EUROPE’S OFFSHORE WIND PROGRESS THIS YEAR
  • QUICK NEWS, July 23: NEW ENERGY WAS 55% OF 1H 2014 U.S. NEW BUILD; EV SALES LEAP; OCEAN ENERGY’S FINANCES UNDER SCRUTINY
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: WHY THE OIL & GAS INDUSTRY BACKS AN ALL-OF-THE-ABOVE ENERGY POLICY
  • QUICK NEWS, July 22: U.S. DOE FORESEES NEW ENERGY; THE BEST CITIES FOR NEW ENERGY; ENERGY STORAGE TO BE $50BIL MRKT
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • THE STUDY: THE COST OF ADDING SOLAR TO A UTILITY’S OPERATIONS
  • QUICK NEWS, 7-21: U.S. WIND, SOLAR TO GROW THROUGH 2020; NEW GEOTHERMAL RISING; CHINESE HAVE RIGHTS IN OREGON WIND BUY
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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, November 30, 2010

    TODAY’S STUDY: THE STATE OF NUCLEAR (EXPENSIVE)

    Technology is always promising. The problem is that when it delivers, there is a fee-for-service. The new versions of the Old Energies (advanced nuclear, "clean" coal) are seductively promising but remain largely unproven for the simple reason that testing them is too costly. Moving ahead on them would be even more expensive and - given the risks of handling radioactive waste or huge amounts of carbon dioxide - would represent an unwise degree of potential public harm. And building even a small capacity would take decades.

    Meanwhile, the New Energies (especially onshore wind and rooftop solar) become more affordable and more accessible. As to risk, there IS the ocassional turbine failure or injury installing rooftop panels. Not exactly financial catastrophes or environmental disasters, are they?


    The Future of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle; An interdisciplinary MIT study
    Mujid Kazimi, Ernest J. Moniz and Charkes W. Forsberg, September 2010 (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

    Study Context

    In 2003 MIT published the interdisciplinary study The Future of Nuclear Power. The underlying motivation was that nuclear energy, which today provides about 70% of the “zero”- carbon electricity in the U.S., is an important option for the market place in a low-carbon world. Since that report, major changes in the US and the world have taken place as described in our 2009 Update of the 2003 Future of Nuclear Power Report.

    Concerns about climate change have risen: many countries have adopted restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere, and the U.S. is expected to adopt similar limits. Projections for nuclear-power growth worldwide have increased dramatically and construction of new plants has accelerated, particularly in China and India. This study on The Future of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle has been carried out because of the continuing importance of nuclear power as a low-carbon option that could be deployed at a scale that is material for mitigating climate change risk, namely, global deployment at the Terawatt scale by mid-century. To enable an expansion of nuclear power, it must overcome critical challenges in cost, waste disposal, and proliferation concerns while maintaining its currently excellent safety and reliability record. In the relatively near term, important decisions may be taken with far reaching long-term implications about the evolution of the nuclear fuel cycle—what type of fuel is used, what types of reactors, what happens to irradiated fuel, and what method of disposal for long term nuclear wastes. This study aims to inform those decisions. For decades, the discussion about future nuclear fuel cycles has been dominated by the expectation that a closed fuel cycle based on plutonium startup of fast reactors would eventually be deployed. However, this expectation is rooted in an out-of-date understanding about uranium scarcity. Our reexamination of fuel cycles suggests that there are many more viable fuel cycle options and that the optimum choice among them faces great uncertainty—some economic, such as the cost of advanced reactors, some technical such as implications for waste management, and some societal, such as the scale of nuclear power deployment and the management of nuclear proliferation risks. Greater clarity should emerge over the next few decades, assuming that the needed research is carried out for technological alternatives and that the global response to climate change risk mitigation comes together. A key message from our work is that we can and should preserve our options for fuel cycle choices by continuing with the open fuel cycle, implementing a system for managed LWR spent fuel storage, developing a geological repository, and researching technology alternatives appropriate to a range of nuclear energy futures.

    (click to enlarge)

    Study Findings and Recommendations

    Economics

    The viability of nuclear power as a significant energy option for the future depends critically on its economics. While the cost of operating nuclear plants is low, the capital cost of the plants themselves is high. This is currently amplified by the higher cost of financing construction due to the perceived financial risk of building new nuclear plants.

    For new base load power in the US, nuclear power plants are likely to have higher levelized electricity costs than new coal plants (without carbon dioxide capture and sequestration) or new natural gas plants. Eliminating this financial risk premium makes nuclear power levelized electricity cost competitive with that of coal, and it becomes lower than that of coal when a modest price on carbon dioxide emissions is imposed. This is also true for comparisons with natural gas at fuel prices characteristic of most of the past decade. Based on this analysis, we recommended in 2003 that financial incentives be provided for the first group of new nuclear plants that are built. The first mover incentives put in place in the US since 2005 have been implemented very slowly.

    Recommendation: Implementation of the first mover program of incentives should be accelerated for the purposes of demonstrating the costs of building new nuclear power plants in the U.S. under current conditions and, with good performance, eliminating the financial risk premium. This incentive program should not be extended beyond the first movers (first 7–10 plants) since we believe that nuclear energy should be able to compete on the open market as should other energy options.

    Light Water Reactor (from Science Council for Global Initiatives - click to enlarge)

    Fuel Cycle

    There is no shortage of uranium resources that might constrain future commitments to build new nuclear plants for much of this century at least. The benefits to resource extension and to waste management of limited recycling in LWRs using mixed oxide fuel as is being done in some countries are minimal. Scientifically sound methods exist to manage spent nuclear fuel.

    Recommendation For the next several decades, a once through fuel cycle using light water reactors (LWRs) is the preferred economic option for the U.S. and is likely to be the dominant feature of the nuclear energy system in the U.S. and elsewhere for much of this century. Improvements in light-water reactor designs to increase the efficiency of fuel resource utilization and reduce the cost of future reactor plants should be a principal research and development focus.

    (from Science Council for Global Initiatives - click to enlarge)

    Spent Nuclear Fuel Management

    Long term managed storage preserves future options for spent fuel utilization at little relative cost. Maintaining options is important because the resolution of major uncertainties over time (trajectory of US nuclear power deployment, availability and cost of new reactor and fuel cycle technologies) will determine whether LWR spent nuclear fuel is to be considered a waste destined for direct geological disposal or a valuable fuel resource for a future closed fuel cycle. Preservation of options for future fuel cycle choices has been undervalued in the debate about fuel cycle policy. Managed storage can be done safely at operating reactor sites, centralized storage facilities, or geological repositories designed for retrievability (an alternative form of centralized storage).

    Recommendations: Planning for long term managed storage of spent nuclear fuel—for about a century—should be an integral part of nuclear fuel cycle design. While managed storage is believed to be safe for these periods, an R&D program should be devoted to confirm and extend the safe storage and transport period. The possibility of storage for a century, which is longer than the anticipated operating lifetimes of nuclear reactors, suggests that the U.S. should move toward centralized SNF storage sites—starting with SNF from decommissioned reactor sites and in support of a long-term SNF management strategy. This will have the additional benefits of resolving federal liability for its failure to start moving SNF from reactor sites starting in 1998.

    (from University of Michigan - click to enlarge)

    Waste Management

    Permanent geological isolation will be required for at least some long-lived components of spent nuclear fuel, and so systematic development of a geological repository needs to be undertaken. The conclusion of the 2003 MIT report that the science underpinning long term geological isolation is sound remains valid. The siting of a geological repository for spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste has been a major challenge for the United States. The failures and successes of U.S. and European programs suggest that a nuclear waste management organization should have the following characteristics: (1) authority for site selection in partnership with state and local governments, (2) management authority for nuclear waste disposal funds, (3) authority to negotiate with facility owners about SNF and waste removal, (4) engagement with policy makers and regulators on fuel cycle choices that affect the nature of radioactive waste streams, and (5) long-term continuity in management. These characteristics are not recognizable in the U.S. program to date. A key element of successful waste management programs is consistency of science based decisions.

    Recommendation: We recommend that a new quasi-government waste management organization be established to implement the nation’s waste management program. Closed fuel cycle design has focused on what goes back to the reactor but not on how wastes are managed.

    Recommendation: We recommend (1) the integration of waste management with the design of the fuel cycle, and (2) a supporting R&D program in waste management to enable full coupling of fuel cycle and waste management decisions. A key finding is that the U.S. classifies many radioactive wastes by source rather than by hazard. This has already created gaps in disposal pathways for wastes and this problem will be exacerbated with alternative fuel cycles.

    Recommendation: We recommend that an integrated risk-informed waste management system be adopted that classifies all wastes according to their composition and defines disposal pathways according to risk.

    Integral Fast Reactor (from Science Council for Global Initiatives - click to enlarge)

    Future Nuclear Fuel Cycles

    The choices of nuclear fuel cycle (open, closed, or partially closed through limited SNF recycle) depend upon (1) the technologies we develop and (2) societal weighting of goals (safety, economics, waste management, and nonproliferation). Once choices are made, they will have major and very long term impacts on nuclear power development. Today we do not have sufficient knowledge to make informed choices for the best cycles and associated technologies. Our analysis of alternative fuel cycles for nuclear power growth scenarios through 2100 yields several results of direct importance in fuel cycle choices:

    a-fuel cycle transitions take 50 to 100 years;there is little difference in the total transuranic inventories or uranium needs in this century

    b-for the standard plutonium-initiated closed fuel cycle, many LWRs are needed in this century for nuclear power growth scenarios. A key finding is that reactors with very high conversion ratios (fissile material produced divided by fissile material in the initial core) are not required for sustainable closed fuel cycles that enable full utilization of uranium and thorium resources.

    A conversion ratio near unity is acceptable and opens up alternative fuel cycle pathways such as:
    a-Very different reactor choices. such as hard-spectrum LWRs rather than traditional fast reactors for closed fuel cycles, with important policy implications and potentially lower costs.
    b-Startup of fast reactors with low-enriched uranium rather than high-enriched uranium or plutonium thereby eliminating the need for reprocessing LWR SNF for closed fuel cycle startup.

    There is adequate time before any choices for deployment need to be made to move away from the open fuel cycle. However, there are many viable technological choices that need to be examined, and the time needed to establish new commercial options in the nuclear power business is long. Consequently, the R&D needed should now be vigorously pursued to enable alternative fuel cycle options by mid-century.

    Recommendation: Integrated system studies and experiments on innovative reactor and fuel cycle options should be undertaken with vigor in the next several years to determine the viable technical options, define the timelines of when decisions need to be made, and select a limited set of options as the basis for the path forward.

    Benefits of START treaty (from U.S. mission to U.N. website - click to enlarge)

    Nonproliferation

    Proliferation at its center is an institutional challenge. The civilian nuclear power fuel cycle is one of several routes to nuclear weapons materials. Establishment of enrichment and/or reprocessing capabilities are proliferation concerns and are not economic choices for small reactor programs. However, guaranteed supplies of fuel are important to countries that embark on electricity production from nuclear energy. Waste management will be a significant challenge for many countries.

    Recommendation: The US and other nuclear supplier group countries should actively pursue fuel leasing options for countries with small nuclear programs, providing financial incentives for forgoing enrichment, technology cooperation for advanced reactors, spent fuel take back within the supplier’s domestic framework for managing spent fuel, and the option for a fixed term renewable commitment to fuel leasing (perhaps ten years).

    (from University of Michigan - click to enlarge)

    Research Development and Demonstration

    Many decades are needed to research, develop, demonstrate, license, and deploy at scale any major new nuclear technology. A robust RD&D program, aligned with the possibility of substantial nuclear power growth, must be implemented if the U.S. is to have well-developed fuel cycle options in time to make wise strategic fuel cycle choices. The 2010 DOE roadmap is a significant improvement on previous agency plans

    (from Japan’s Dept. of Nuclear Engineering and Management - click to enlarge)

    Recommendations for RD&D Priorities:

    a-Enhanced LWR performance and fuels.
    b-A much broader set of spent fuel storage and nuclear waste disposal options than has been pursued for decades.
    c-Modeling and simulation capability for developing technology options and for understanding tradeoffs among options.
    d-Innovative nuclear energy applications and concepts, including provision of process heat to industrial applications and development of modular reactors.
    e-Rebuilding the supporting R&D infrastructure, such as materials test facilities and other key facilities to enable innovative fuel cycle and reactor R&D. We estimate that about $1 B/year is appropriate for supporting the R&D and infrastructure programs. Additional funding will be needed for large-scale government-industry demonstration projects at the appropriate time.

    QUICK NEWS, 11-30: SUN AND GLOBAL TRADE; BRAZIL’S WIND; WORLD’S BIGGEST NEW ENERGY LAB; RISING TIDES

    SUN AND GLOBAL TRADE
    Global PV Competition Creates Increased International Trade Disputes
    Bettina Weiss, November 2010 (SEMI PV Group/The Grid)

    "Critical to the healthy growth of the global solar PV market is a global trade system without restrictive barriers between countries…Any barrier that restricts the free trade of goods and services between countries raises overall costs…and decreases the amount fossil fuel displaced through solar…

    "…Governments regularly protect economic sectors from international competition and favor various exporting industries through a variety of tax incentives, grants, and other actions. Even under what would be called optimum situations, there are often a number of formal and informal, intentional and unintentional, restrictions…[but] progress to a more bountiful use of solar for all nations means lowering barriers…[Today,] increasing trade frictions are threatening the growth and prosperity of the global PV marketplace…"


    Anticipated supply (click to enlarge)

    "…China began blocking all shipments of rare earth minerals… Japan initiated a trade dispute with Canada over Ontario’s feed-in tariff…[The U.S. will] investigate China’s aid to its clean-energy producers…In India, under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM)…goal for deploying 20GW of solar power by 2022…[mandated] modules [and cells] manufactured in India…

    "Further fueling global trade friction is a PV market overwhelmingly characterized by wide imbalances between supply and demand. With over 75% of the world’s demand for solar power, Europe contributes only 25-30% of the global supply…[P]olitical support for effective solar policy is threatened by the policy dialog influenced by these large imbalances of supply and demand…In the background…is the simmering controversy over currency policy. Some economists complain that China is manipulating its currency, keeping domestic demand low while reducing the price of its exports…[P]olitical forces are in motion in both the United States and Europe that may have uncertain and detrimental outcomes to PV suppliers…"


    Anticipated demand (click to enlarge)

    "…[O]pen and free trade is essential to the healthy development of the solar power industry and critical to the continued replacement of fossil fuels by clean, renewable energy…[T]he SEMI PV Group support of free and open trade can be characterized by the following principles…[1] the solar industry must reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels…[via] meaningful and effective public policies…[In Asia,] demand-side policies to encourage the development of local markets…[2] The key technical challenge to the solar economy of the future, therefore, is to reduce the costs associated with PV manufacturing and installation…Global industry standards that reduce costs and enable innovation are an essential component…A global set of environmental health and safety standards and Best Practices are also essential…

    "…[3] Policies should be clearly defined, simple to understand and focused on solar power adoption goals…[4] SEMI PV Group support[s] government policies that support manufacturing operations…[and] programs that seek [to] balance PV demand with PV supply…As the solar energy market continues to grow and develop, the SEMI PV Group will advocate policies that maintain free and open trade within the context of these principles…"



    BRAZIL’S WIND
    Will Brazil take the lead on wind energy in the Americas? Blessed with a strong, consistent wind resource that rivals the blustery coasts of Europe and the United States, Brazil is on track to increase its wind energy capacity fivefold by 2013, further establishing the ethanol and hydroelectric giant as Latin America's green energy leader.
    Bob Moser, 12 November 2010 (Wind Energy Update)

    "For multinational firms…significant questions remain over the country's ability to solve logistical transport issues, develop a regional supply chain and spur public policy that will unleash a steady stream of investment. But with an estimated 350 GW of onshore capacity alone, combined with large unpopulated land areas and a coastline of 9,650 km, Brazil’s wind energy market is difficult to ignore.

    "Northern Brazil is home to some of the most consistent easterly wind patterns in the world, which allow for the use of lighter turbines that cost less than those used in the US and Europe. Brazil's wind market nearly doubled its installed capacity between 2008 and 2009 by reaching 606 MW, and as of November this year, installed capacity has reached 864 MW, with another 250-260 MW under very accelerated construction."


    click to enlarge

    "The country's first wind-only energy auction last December was considered a success, despite the average price of BRL148.3 (US$88.01) per megawatt-hour being lower than expected. This opened the door for multinationals like Vestas, GE, Suzlon and Alstom to announce their own domestic manufacturing within the next two years (Enercon and Impsa already produce turbines in Brazil)."

    click to enlarge

    "A second energy auction in late August saw wind projects secure more contracts than Brazilian energy staples like small hydroelectric and biomass, though the average price of BRL134.2/MWh fell…Those auctions have placed 3.9 gigawatts of new wind capacity in the pipeline for 2012 and 2013…

    "Brazil's deficient transmission grid portends initially high costs for investors and consumers, while poor road infrastructure implies similarly high logistics costs [and there is not yet an adequately trained workforce]…While significant infrastructure hurdles exist, the state and private sector are meeting these challenges head on. As such, Brazil looks set to rival world wind energy markets in the not too distant future."



    WORLD’S BIGGEST NEW ENERGY LAB
    Climate change - Commission launches major investment programme for innovative low-carbon technologies; Financial support for at least eight projects involving carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies.
    November 19, 2010 (World of Renewables)

    "…[There has been the first call for proposals from] NER300, [the world’s largest programme of investment in low carbon and renewable energy demonstration projects from the European Commission]…The aim is to drive low carbon economic development in Europe, creating new 'green' jobs and contributing to the achievement of the EU's ambitious climate change goals. The European Investment Bank (EIB) is collaborating with the Commission in the implementation of the programme. Companies interested in making proposals have 3 months to submit bids...

    "…[The] first call for proposals signals the start of implementation of the NER300 initiative. The initiative is so named because it will be funded from the sale of 300 million emission allowances in the New Entrants Reserve (NER) of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS). At current market prices for emission allowances, the initiative is worth around EUR 4.5 billion, making it the biggest such programme in the world."


    click to enlarge

    "Funding is targeted to [at least 8] demonstration projects involving [carbon capture and storage (CCS)] and [at least 34] innovative renewable energy technologies. At least one project, and a maximum of three, will be funded per Member State…

    "The programme will leverage investments of more than EUR 9 billion as the NER300 initiative will fund up to 50% of the construction and operation costs of the CCS and renewables projects. Project sponsors and Member States will provide the rest of the funding. NER300 funding can be combined with financing from other EU instruments…"


    click to enlarge

    "Under the NER300 decision (1), the EIB is responsible for selling the 300 million allowances and managing and disbursing the proceeds. While details, including the starting date of the sales, are not fixed yet, it is expected that all NER300 allowances will be sold before the start of the third trading period of the EU ETS in January 2013.

    "The EIB will also undertake detailed financial and technical due diligence of project proposals before making recommendations in the form of a ranking of project proposals to the Commission. The Commission will take the final decision on which projects to co-finance after consulting Member States."



    RISING TIDES
    Tapping into tides for electricity
    Bob Drogin, November 25, 2010 (LA Times via seattle Times)

    "…[T]he little gray barge strains against a raging morning tide…[that] will drain nearby rocky inlets and fishing harbors by 20 feet — as high as a two-story house — only to flood them again six hours later…[U]nder the stern, horizontal turbines spin in the swirling current. The huge mechanism…is America's most ambitious effort yet to produce electricity by harnessing the gravitational pull of the moon and sun on the sea…

    "…Ocean Renewable Power…aims to link a larger turbine system to eastern Maine's power grid next fall in the country's first small-scale commercial use of tidal energy…Tapping the tides is the latest niche in the search for affordable, renewable energy…Widespread use may be years off, but advocates say tides and other hydrokinetic systems, from ocean waves to free-flowing rivers, ultimately could meet up to 10 percent of America's electricity needs, more than hydropower dams now supply."


    click to enlarge

    "Pilot projects or studies are under way in Washington's Puget Sound, in Alaska's Cook Inlet, off the coasts of Florida, California, Oregon and Hawaii, in New York's East River, along the Mississippi River and elsewhere…[T]he technology for marine and hydrokinetic power remains in its infancy, and costs are prohibitively high. Ireland, Denmark, Portugal, South Korea, China, Australia and other nations have been testing the waters for years. Commercial operations are rare…Canada may be closest…[It] is investing $75 million for three pilot projects in the upper Bay of Fundy, home to the world's highest tides. The first test turbine weighs 400 tons, has a peak capacity of one megawatt and looks like a sunken windmill…[They hope] to gather enough data by 2015 to determine whether tidal power is technically feasible, environmentally safe and economically viable.

    "In theory, the U.S. resource is immense. Waves and currents are relatively reliable in some areas, and tides ebb and flood twice a day like clockwork. As a result, they are more predictable resources than wind or solar power…[but] tides with sufficient range and velocity run only in the nation's northeastern and northwestern corners, mostly Maine and Washington, plus Alaska…Waves are consistently high only on the Pacific coast north of Point Conception, Calif., and in Hawaii."


    click to enlarge

    "Several developments suggest a surge of U.S. interest…The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission reported this month that it has issued 140 hydrokinetic preliminary permits for proposals to tap tides, waves or river currents, up from a handful a few years ago…Working with the Navy, for example, Ocean Power Technologies last month connected a small test buoy in the swells off Oahu to the power grid that serves the Marine Corps Base Hawaii, marking a first for a wave-energy device in U.S. waters…

    "Tides in Maine's rugged Cobscook Bay, at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy, flow [fast]…Ocean Renewable Power, based in Portland, Maine, launched its first cross-flow turbine… in 2007…[I]t worked…The company built a bigger unit…for $2.5 million…Testing resumed Oct. 1 in a fast-flowing channel flanked by wooded hills and rocky cliffs…The environmental impact still isn't clear. University of Maine researchers are trying to assess risks to fish, diving seabirds, seals and other creatures in a pristine ecosystem…[T]he Snohomish County [Washington] Public Utility District…[has] plans to install two large turbines to gather tidal data one-half mile offshore and 200 feet deep…"

    Monday, November 29, 2010

    Guest Lead Post: MANDATE FOR A CITY’S BOLD ACTION

    Local power for Boulder and beyond!
    Anne B. Butterfield, November 29, 2010

    NewEnergyNews columnist Anne B. Butterfield celebrates in the column below one of the little-known but important victories for New Energy in the recent election.

    Election day was momentous, and for the Boulder clean energy crowd, a crowning achievement. Proposition 2B, the tax to “replace the franchise fee” passed by such a strong margin (69%) it looks like a mandate for bold action. So let’s get educated – there are energy options for municipalities like Boulder to get more direct authority over the energy supply.

    Just six days after 2B’s passage, Paul Fenn of Local Power Inc., came to Boulder to talk about Community Choice Aggregation, having written the law for it in California. He is also a consultant to multiple cities in and counties in California.

    CCA is widely called “muni-lite” for representing a mid point between being fully captive to an incumbent utility and full municipalization, in which a city buys back its distribution system and hires a company to manage its evolving power generation. CCA empowers communities to lease rather than buy the distribution system and evolve their energy supply according to local wishes.

    click to enlarge

    Community choice is a movement that’s gained a legal foothold in states both red and blue -- Massachusetts, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, Illinois and California -- and merits serious scrutiny in Colorado. It’s not legal here, but it could be if the legislature passed it. The foundation for such a law would be strong since Colorado is a home rule state (and Boulder is a home rule city). CCA would also empower counties to form buying entities as well.

    Fenn’s sharpest point in favor of CCA (which is true also for municipalization) is that renewable energy simply is not more expensive than fuel-based central power when it’s bought by a municipality that can get tax-free government financing through revenue bond authority, sometimes known as municipal H bonds.

    “Municipalities can get a cheaper banker than Xcel can” Fenn put it. Seen another way, renewables don’t have enough return on investment for a big utility’s large revenue requirements.

    click thru for more info

    The adage, “If you want to travel fast, then travel light” could not be more fitting for decarbonizing energy supply. The shareholder profit burden of investor-owned utilities does not jive with greening up the system. In fact, one could make a strong principle of the idea that the natural monopoly of electricity distribution can only be justified in a civically owned, minimum profit operation in which citizens know and participate as much as they please.

    “The average American has an infantile relationship with electricity – you want it, and if you don’t get it you get really, really angry,” according to Fenn. The distant monopoly has everything to do with that mother-child dynamic that Mayor Susan Osborne has also mentioned. Community power however, allows communities to “penetrate the veil of opacity” to rethink the central, supply-based, fuel-based model, reinvent it with geographic, data-based realities, and rebuild the energy equation with efficiency and storage as much in mind as clean energy supply.

    In Fenn’s vision, the goal is a fully integrated, interoperable, shared, geographic infrastructure that shifts with the moving tide of humans and weather around the area. Key areas for reducing waste lie in combined heat and power at big facilities and controlling the pumping of water. Figuring out the patterns of usage is critical to relocalizing power.

    click thru to participate

    The City of Boulder has been requesting energy usage data from Xcel Energy; receiving it has been a point of contention as noted by City Councilors through the past year. In October, Boulder formally requested complete data on energy usage and technical specifications on installed facilities. The franchise agreement expiring this year accords Boulder this for the sake of acquisition. City leaders will need steel in their spines to bring home this knowledge.

    There are many unknowns in the process of moving toward CCA, particularly getting it through the legislature and the Public Utilities Commission. Such processes provide “plenty of room for it to be corrupted and co-opted” according to energy lawyer Susan Perkins. There is strong reason for Boulder to reach for the gold-standard of full municipalization, and increasing renewable power steadily for years then selecting nascent load balancing technologies as they reach maturity.

    In the meantime, CCA seems inevitable for the red and blue mix of Colorado. Why should law and regulations require our communities to export money unnecessarily through large companies that send money out for coal and shareholders, when more and more technologies are coming out to empower households and neighborhoods to provide their own power?

    (Full disclosure: Anne B. Butterfield volunteers on the board of Clean Energy Action, where Susan Perkins is also a prospective board member.)

    QUICK NEWS, 11-29: SPAIN LEADS BUILD OF MONSTER 15 MW TURBINE; A WHOLE NEW APPROACH TO SUN; WIRELESS CHARGING; SUN STORED IN LIQUID

    SPAIN LEADS BUILD OF MONSTER 15 MW TURBINE
    Gamesa Leads 11-Company Group Developing World's Largest Wind Turbine
    Sally Bakewell, November 23, 2010 (Bloomberg News)

    "Gamesa Corporacion Tecnologica SA is leading a project with 10 more companies including Alstom SA, Acciona SA and Iberdrola Renovables SA to build a 15-megawatt turbine in a bid to drive down costs of offshore wind power.

    "Gamesa is coordinating
    Azimut: Offshore Wind Energy 2020, an initiative that requires a 25 million-euro ($33.8 million) investment by the companies during the next four years. The program will establish technology by 2013 to develop the turbine from 2020…"

    click to enlarge

    "By building turbines more than twice as powerful as current models sold, the promoters are betting they can overcome hurdles to offshore wind power including the higher investment requirements compared with land-based wind power and the challenges in delivering energy to shore."

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    "German turbine makers Enercon GmbH and REpower Systems AG have developed 6-megawatt offshore wind machines. REpower’s model, with a capacity of 6.15 megawatts, has a rotor diameter of 126 meters (413 feet). Clipper Windpower Plc is developing a 10-megawatt machine and Norwegian renewable energy company Sway AS is working on a floating version.

    "Under the Azimut program, Gamesa will oversee the turbines, while Acciona Windpower will undertake the technology required to convert wind energy to electricity. Acciona Energia will carry out construction, operation and maintenance of the offshore sites and Alstom will be responsible for the sea-based substructures. Iberdrola Renovables will manage integration of offshore wind energy into the electricity grid…22 research centers specializing in offshore wind technology joined the project, which won approval from Spain’s Center for the Development of Industrial Technology…"



    A WHOLE NEW APPROACH TO SUN
    Solar updraft tower technology: Not all hot air; Could 2011 be the year that solar updraft towers finally make their debut on the commercial renewable energy landscape?
    Rikki Stancich, 15 November 2010 (CSP Today)

    "Like many other solar technologies, the concept behind solar updraft towers, or solar chimneys, has been around for more than one hundred years. Based on the principle that heat rises, the idea is that heat, captured in an enormous greenhouse, funnels upward into a tall, hollow tower. As the hot air moves through the greenhouse and upward into the tower, it propels a series of turbines (similar to Kaplan hydro turbines) positioned around the base of the tower.

    "…[T]he height of the tower creates the temperature differentiation to create the airflow that drives the turbines…The technology relies on radiant heat, rather than direct sunshine, to heat the air inside the greenhouse. This means that, unlike concentrating solar power (CSP) and photovoltaics (PV), the technology can operate in diffused sunlight – including cloudy or wet weather. In good weather, the plant should operate at a capacity factor of 50% plus, according to Australian solar updraft tower technology developer, EnviroMission."


    The concept (click to enlarge)

    "Despite the first prototype, (built in 1982 by Schlaich Bergermann in Manzanares, Spain), having been hailed a success, the technology has yet to be commercially developed. But 2011 may well be the year that the technology proves it weight in gold.

    "EnviroMission, listed on the Australian securities exchange in 2001, has since been dedicated to refining the technology…[but] has struggled to get [a] project off the ground in the absence of adequate policy support frameworks and incentives…In [2009] the company set up its US headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona…[and its] solar updraft tower project was selected out of hundreds of others from the Southern Californian Public Power Authority’s RFP response for renewable energy projects."


    The prototype at Manzanares (click to enlarge)

    "EnviroMission has since filed land applications in Arizona for two 5,500 acre (2225.85 hectare) sites, suitable in size for development of two 200MW Solar Tower power stations, has negotiated an SCPPA approved PPA for the off-take of energy generated by the first of two planned solar updraft towers, and has appointed international engineering, design and consulting firm, ARUP, as its design engineer…"

    [Roger Davey, CEO, solar updraft tower technology developer EnviroMission:] "The major [advantages are] that…solar updraft towers can produce more power per megawatt installed…it does not use any water in the generation cycle…[and] we can guarantee the output, unlike PV and wind…Nuclear is probably more expensive…While coal has a capacity factor in the 80% region, when you start costing in water, [solar updraft technology] is competitive…But all new technology needs incentives…The first solar updraft tower will be roughly 750 metres tall and 130 metres in diameter. Its visibility is unlikely to cause concern …The towers have a lifespan of around 80 years…"


    WIRELESS CHARGING
    Wireless Power; Wireless Charging and Transmission for Mobile Devices, Consumer Electronics, Electric Vehicles, Industrial Markets, and Military Applications
    Richard Martin and Clint Wheelock, 4Q 2010 (Pike Research)

    "…Technological advances in wireless power charging and transmission have shown great promise for enabling plug-free and, in many cases, contactless charging for a wide range of devices and machinery – from mobile phones to electric vehicles to unmanned aircraft.

    "…[S]ystems have evolved to the point of promising the ability to transmit dozens of watts over dozens of kilometers…[A]n active and emerging industry has begun to take shape around wireless power…[that] includes such major manufacturers as General Motors and General Electric, as well as start-ups such as WiTricity, Powercast, PureEnergy Solutions, and Powermat…[but it] remains diffuse…[T]here are a wide range of potential applications…no clear leaders…no industry wide specifications or standards…little agreement regarding the size of the market opportunity and the most promising areas for investment…"


    click to enlarge

    "…[O]ne of the primary drivers of WP will be convenience…[It] offers a range of simple and convenient charging modalities, from a mat that will charge several devices at once to a room-based system that will wirelessly charge all devices in a given range or volume…The second driver is cost…[T]he overall cost per watt (or kilowatt) for charging systems will inevitably go down as physical chargers and adapters are removed from the equation…[T]he opportunities posed by advances in wireless power for both cost savings and higher consumer satisfaction are extremely promising…[in] the electric vehicle market… [some] industrial applications…[and] military applications…

    "…[T]here is nothing inherently green about wireless power charging and transmission…However, wireless power has a number of secondary effects with potentially important and far-reaching benefits for clean energy and carbon emissions reductions…[such as the] reduction in the number of cords, adapters, and wall outlets…Moreover, wireless charging is seen as a significant enabler for the adoption of electric vehicles. Many believe that plug-in systems present a large market hurdle for consumer adoption of EVs; the expectation is that in-garage, wireless power stations will dramatically accelerate the EV market when they become available over the next few years…"


    click to enlarge

    "…[W]ireless power transmission…could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in [five] different ways…[1] Eliminating the need for copper-wire transmission grids…[2] Transporting power from remote generation sources, such as wind farms and solar arrays…[3] Collecting and utilizing micro-power from ambient sources, such as cellular networks, that otherwise dissipates…[ 4] Replacing costly and carbon-intensive electricity sources, such as diesel generators, in temporary applications and locales…[and, 5, facilitating the launch of] massive solar arrays into geosynchronous orbit, and beaming power back to Earth in the form of microwaves…

    "Pike Research believes the adoption of wireless power charging and transmission devices, particularly for mobile devices, consumer electronics, and electric vehicles, will climb steadily over the next five years and then accelerate rapidly as prices fall and WP systems are integrated into many everyday products…Pike Research believes that worldwide revenues from wireless power transmission and charging systems will reach $11.8 billion by 2020, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 36%."



    SUN STORED IN LIQUID
    Liquid battery could harness, store solar energy; Researchers say sun-absorbing molecule could be used to help heat homes
    David Teeghman, November 22, 2010 (MSNBC)

    "…[T]echnologies designed to harness solar energy — for example, photovoltaics that capture photons or solar-thermal collectors that harvest heat — are not designed to store it. The sun comes out and the electricity is generated on the spot. Any extra sunlight (and there's a lot of it)…[is] forever wasted.

    "…MIT's Jeffrey Grossman and his colleagues have done some initial research that could lead to an entirely new method for capturing and storing sunlight, and it has the potential to make this renewable energy indefinitely storable and transportable."


    click thru for an explanatory video

    "The research is based on the molecule fulvalene diruthenium, which is derived from the rare, expensive and platinum-like element, ruthenium…Grossman and his team found that when a fulvalene diruthenium molecule absorbs sun, it changes shape into a semi-stable formation. Adding a catalyst to the mixture, snaps the molecule back into it original form.

    "This is very interesting from a solar energy perspective because the molecule can absorb sun and remain in the semi-stable state indefinitely until a catalyst snaps it back into its original form. When that last change occurs, energy is released that can be used to heat a home or power appliances."


    click thru for an explanatory video

    "Grossman thinks such a molecule could work in liquid form to convert and store solar power…

    "The only problem, and it's a big one, is that the diruthenium molecule is expensive and so using it as a rechargeable liquid battery is not practical. But now that Grossman and his team understand the fundamental mechanism, they think they can find other, cheaper molecules that exhibit the same characteristics."

    Sunday, November 28, 2010

    RIGHT POLICY BUILDS RIGHT (NEW) ENERGY

    Cap and Trade Works. EU Replaces Coal Power with Wind Energy
    Susan Kraemer, November 26, 2010 (Clean Technica)

    "…[T]he paid trolls from the fossil industry [claim] Europe is not succeeding in transferring to clean energy, or cutting its carbon emissions (which is done by transferring to clean energy). Cap and trade won’t work [in the U.S., they claim]…because it didn’t work over there…[T]he facts say different…

    "New EU-wide statistics from the EWEA (European Wind Energy Association) show that more wind power capacity was installed last year than any other electricity-generating technology. What’s more, new wind capacity replaced fossil energy…In 2009 Europe actually decommissioned more coal, nuclear and gas plants than it built."


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    "A whopping 61% of all new power generating capacity added in 2009 was renewable energy. Of this, 39% of was wind power, followed by bio gas (26%) and solar photovoltaics (16%). Last year is the second year running that renewable energies have accounted for the majority of new investments, with wind power being the leader.
    Investment in new European wind farms in 2009 reached €13 billion, including €1.5 billion offshore. Across the EU, 10,163 MW of wind power capacity was installed in 2009 – a 23% increase compared to 2008 installations – made up of 9,581 MW onshore (up 21% from last year) and 582 MW offshore (up 56% from last year).

    "Europe signed the Kyoto Accord in 1997, and once 55% of the UN member countries signed on, its trading scheme came into force in 2005…That is when Europe began a cap and trade system – the ETS or European Trading Scheme."


    click to enlarge

    "…[A 2009 study] found that all participants in the ETS cap and trade had been able to sell their allowances, and that the value of these sales more than funded the cost to replace fossil energy with renewable energies or efficiencies. In the first three years, while US carbon emissions rose, the EU dropped theirs by 300 million metric tons…[to below] its Kyoto Accord goals…By mid-2008 (before the economic apocalypse), four nations (France, Greece, Sweden and Britain) had already met the first goal, to reduce emissions by 8% by 2012, having dropped them by 13%…By mid 2009, the UK had reduced its carbon emissions by 23%, doubling the 2010 goal…

    "…It is simply not true that Europe has not succeeded in meeting the needed goals of the Kyoto Accord…And the one big difference between Europe and us is they have cap and trade that restricts the emission of greenhouse gases."

    ETHIOPIAN WIND

    Ethiopia’s first wind energy project at starting line
    November 23, 2010 (Regulacion Eolica con Vehiculos Electricos)

    "The 120 MW wind power plant will be built in Tigray with a 210 million euro investment. The first 30 MW wind farm are scheduled to be online by next June and will be completed within the first months of 2013.

    "Construction of Ethiopia’s first wind energy project began at Ashegoda...Vergnet Groupe... is doing its best to expedite the wind power project which is expected to be the biggest wind farm in Africa."


    click to enlarge

    "The wind power project... is managed by Ethiopia’s energy company Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo), and was financed by the Agence Française de Développement with subsidized loans from BNP Paribas, totalling 210 million euros.

    "In the first stage of the project, which will be completed by next June, 30 wind turbines will be installed, each with a capacity of 1 MW. The wind farm is scheduled to be completed within the first months of 2013, with the total installation of 120 wind turbines. Annual production is expected to range between 400 and 450 million kWh, accounting for approximately 2.5% of the country’s electricity needs."


    click to enlarge

    "At present, only 32% of Ethiopia’s 75 million inhabitants has access to electricity...moreover with scarce security. The government has charged the public company with the task of giving soon access to electricity to twice as many inhabitants.

    "Ethiopia is currently one or the countries with the lowest electricity consumption in the world: about 50 kWh per capita per year."

    CHINA RULES SUN-MAKING

    Chinese companies dominate solar manufacturing spending in 2010
    November 26, 2010 (Display+)

    "Chinese companies are expected to lead the world in the expansion of solar cell and module manufacturing capacity in 2010, accounting for seven of the 10 biggest gainers in the industry, according to the market research firm iSuppli

    "Collectively, the seven Chinese companies are set to expand their Photovoltaic (PV) cell and module manufacturing by 6.4 Gigawatts (GW) in 2010, representing 71.8 percent of the total 8.98GW increase among the Top 10…"


    click to enlarge

    "…The biggest expansion will be undertaken by China’s LDK Solar Co. Ltd., which will add a total of 1.42GW worth of module and cell manufacturing in 2010. The company will bring on 1.3GW of c-Si module capacity and 120 Megawatts (MW) of c-Si cell manufacturing capacity…No. 2 among the capacity adders will be Renewable Energy Corp. of Norway, with 1.09GW of new manufacturing…

    "…In terms of c-Si cells, JA Solar of China is poised to lead in manufacturing expansion, with 700MW of the 1GW in total additions allocated for that technology."


    click to enlarge

    "If the spending for ingots, wafers, polysilicon is added, iSuppli estimates the PV industry will spend approximately $11 billion on production equipment this year. The spending is being driven by the doubling of sales for solar panels as well as pent-up demand induced by the slowing of capital expenditures in 2009.

    "…[T]hin-film companies have been relatively small spenders this year, as many in their ranks had plenty of manufacturing capacity to absorb. First Solar allowed efficiency improvements—rather than spending on new equipment—to drive capacity growth this year. Spending on thin-film capital equipment is slated to accelerate in 2011…"

    KENYA GEOTHERMAL

    Kenya on the cusp of a geothermal energy boom
    Jaindi Kisero, November 22, 2010 (The East African)

    "Geothermal electricity generation in Kenya started in 1956…The wells…were later abandoned…It was not until 1985 that Olkaria I (45MW) was commissioned.Drilling continued in the Olkarai II steam field, with 30 wells being drilled by 1991…In 1992…donors pulled out and no work was undertaken until 1999…Olakaria 119(70MW) was commissioned in 2003…Right now drilling is going on in Olkaria IV, that is planned for 2012.

    "The dominance of Chinese firms in exploration of geothermal energy in Kenya is set to end as East Africa’s largest economy rolls out an aggressive programme to acquire its own rigs and to develop expertise…Kenya has become a leading global hotspot in geothermal exploration as the government continues to invest heavily in clean energy to both reduce its over-reliance on hydroelectricity and diesel powered plants."


    click to enlarge

    "Chinese companies in the past five years have won most geothermal drilling contracts, which are worth millions of dollars, locking out European companies from the business…The East African Rift Valley system is estimated to hold the potential of produce 7,000MW of electricity, with Kenya accounting for 1,200 MW, which is equivalent to the power the country produces annually.

    "In the initial stages, most of the geothermal drilling activity in Kenya was done by Nabor’s International, a French company, and Foraky Foraminus of Belgium. The Europeans have since been supplanted by the Chinese… But… Three factors drive geothermal drilling costs high. First…lack of engineering infrastructure in Africa…International drilling companies also charge resource and development risk…The third factor is the large expatriate component of the workforce…"


    click to enlarge

    "Kenya has identified geothermal energy as its most economical generation option, compared with coal and nuclear energy…Currently, it is estimated that the annual fixed cost of generating nuclear power in Kenya is around 0.0759 US cents per kilowatt hour, compared with 0.0708 for geothermal…The nuclear option is rendered more unattractive by political and environmental concerns for safety, security and safeguards…Although the fuel is avaliable, enrichment, waste disposal and high decommissioning costs are major concerns…From a purely cost standpoint, coal at 0.407 US cents per kilowat hour, offers the cheapest option for Kenya. But the coal generation method is perceived to make a larger contribution to air pollution than other fossil fuels combined.

    "Currently, there is a total of 202 MW installed geothermal generating capacity in Kenya — 150MW by the state-controlled company, KenGen, 52MW by independent power producers OrPower, and 4MW by flower exporting farm Oserian, which uses geothermal energy to heat 50 hectares of green houses at its expansive flower farms in Naivasha. Geothermal activities in Kenya are concentrated in the East African Rift Valley. Over 14 geothermal prospecting sites have ben identified. Studies carried out in these sites indicate that a potential of between 7,000 MW and 10,000 MW exist…"

    CARBON TAX COMING IN JAPAN

    Japan prepares proposals for fossil fuel tax; Plans could be finalised before the end of the year
    22 November 2010 (Business Green)

    "Japanese officials are expected to finalise plans for a carbon tax before the end of the year as the government aims to make good on its pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent by 2020.

    "…A team from the country's ruling Democratic Party submitted proposals for a new tax on fossil fuels…The proposals will now be assessed by the government's tax panel and are expected to be finalised by mid-December."


    click to enlarge

    "The proposed tax could then be included in a climate bill that the government is preparing to bring forward early next year, which is also expected to contain plans for a national emissions trading scheme…

    "...[T]he proposed tax would target initial users of fossil fuels and would eventually raise around $3bn (£1.87bn) a year…[D]espite Japan's looming debt the new tax could be hypothecated, with the money raised earmarked for investment in low carbon projects."


    click to enlarge

    "Any move to introduce a carbon tax is likely to prove highly controversial, particularly after Japanese business groups last year opposed plans for a national emissions trading scheme, which they warned would damage the economy by putting a price on carbon.

    "The news comes just days after the South Korean government announced plans for new legislation that could enable a national emissions trading scheme that would similarly impose a price on carbon for large emitters."

    Saturday, November 27, 2010

    Follow The Dirty Energy Money

    This will kick-start anybody’s Saturday morning. It’s not a complicated message but it’s an important one. From meerkat0412 via YouTube

    Wind Energy – The Facts

    Now for a little something on clean energy. From NewsFromTheShed via YouTube

    Climate Crock Of The Week

    The “death spiral” of artic sea ice in the last year is yet further evidence that the global average temperature is increasing and the world’s climate is changing. Becoming just as irrefutable is the fact that human activity is driving the rapidity of the changes and the human community must act to reverse them. From greenman3610 via YouTube

    Friday, November 26, 2010

    SCIENTISTS CALL FOR CLIMATE CHANGE TRUTH

    Time to Take Action on Climate Communication
    Bowman, Maibach, Mann, et. al, November 22, 2010 (Science)

    This recently published letter is another example of the unanimity among scientists on the subject of climate change, that it is happening, that human activity is driving it and that the world community must respond. Click thru to the site and endorse the scientists’ call for action.

    "According to broad international agreement, a global warming increase beyond 2°C is unacceptable (1). Because of the physics of the climate system, we must ensure that global emissions of greenhouse gases peak and start to decline rapidly within a decade in order to have a reasonable chance of meeting the 2°C goal (2). Humankind has waffled and delayed for decades; further delay risks serious consequences for people and the ecosystems on which we rely."

    click to enlarge

    "Because the potential consequences of climate change are so high, the science community has an obligation to help people, organizations, and governments make informed decisions. Yet existing institutions are not well-suited to this task. Therefore, we call for the science community to develop, implement, and sustain an independent initiative with a singular mandate: to actively and effectively share information about climate change risks and potential solutions with the public, particularly decision-makers in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. Moreover, we call on philanthropic funding institutions to endorse and provide sustained support for the initiative.

    "The initiative must make concerted efforts to provide people, organizations, and governments with critical information, to address misperceptions, and to counter misinformation and deception. In doing so, it will have to overcome psychological and cultural barriers to learning and engagement (3, 4, 5)."


    click to enlarge

    "The initiative should be judged against two critical outcomes: (i) improved understanding of risks and potential solutions by people, organizations, and governments, and (ii) more informed decision-making—and less avoidance of decision-making—about how to manage those risks. The initiative should be an embodiment of what Fischhoff calls “non-persuasive communication.” It should not advocate specific policy decisions; good decision-making involves weighing the best available information with the values of the decision-makers and those affected by the decisions.

    "The initiative should recruit a full range of climate scientists, decision scientists, and communication professionals into the effort (6, 7) to ensure both sound scientific information and effective communication. In addition, it should build bridges to other communities of experts—such as clergy, financial managers, business managers, and insurers—who help people, organizations, and governments assess and express their values. Scientists and nonscientists alike inevitably interpret climate science information in the context of other information and values; the initiative should mobilize experts who can facilitate appropriate and useful interpretations."


    click to enlarge

    "Despite the politically contentious nature of climate change policy, the initiative must be strictly nonpartisan. In the face of efforts to undermine public confidence in science, it must become a trusted broker of unbiased information for people on all sides of the issue. At this potentially critical moment for human civilization, it is imperative that people, organizations, and governments be given the resources they need to participate in constructive civic, commercial, and personal decision-making about climate change risks and solutions...

    "References
    1. Group of 8, “Responsible leadership for a sustainable future” (G8 Summit, L’Aquila, Italy, 2009).
    2. M. Meinshausen et al., Nature 458, 1158 (2009).
    3. National Research Council, Evaluating Progress of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program: Methods and Preliminary Results (National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 2007).
    4. National Research Council. Informing Decisions in a Changing Climate (National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 2009).
    5. National Research Council, Informing an Effective Response to Climate Change (National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 2010).
    6. B. Fischhoff, Env. Sci. Tech. Online 41, 7207 (2007).
    7. T. Bowman, E. Maibach, M. E. Mann, S. C. Moser, R. C. J. Somerville, Science 324, 36 (2009)."

    ON A RIDE FOR RENEWABLES

    Ohio Embracing “Big” Solar; President Kennedy’s Legacy Lives; Pennsylvania Embracing Wind Power; Giving Thanks
    Tom Weis, November 17-25, 2010 (Ride for Renewables

    Tom Weis is riding from Colorado to Washington, D.C., to announce his call for the U.S. to move to 100 % renewable energy by 2020. These are excerpts of his reports from the road:

    November 17, 2010: Ohio Embracing “Big” Solar

    "…one of the nation’s largest solar farms is being developed in Zanesville. This popular project, fittingly called “Turning Point,” is expected to bring up to 600 jobs through local manufacturing of the solar panels needed for the nearly 50 MW solar farm. Even more fittingly, it is being sited on a former coal mine. The project is slated to go online in 2012…"

    November 22, 2010: President Kennedy’s Legacy Lives

    "…today marks the 47th anniversary of one of the darkest moments in U.S. history: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy…But you cannot kill a dream. President Kennedy’s bold call to land a man on the moon before the end of the decade was successfully achieved…I chose the 48th anniversary of his historic 'moon shot' speech…to launch my ride because we need a modern day, green energy moon shot today to revive our economy, put unemployed Americans back to work and protect the planet for future generations…[In the 'moon shot' speech, Keenedy said] 'We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.'"



    "We can choose to green our energy grid…It would also demand…the political courage and personal strength to stand up to the powerful and wealthy special interests, in this case, the fossil fuel and nuclear lobbies. The easy choice is to keep doing things as we always have, while unemployment lingers; the economy stagnates; China claims the mantle of world economic superpower; and the climate continues to deteriorate. The hard choice, and the one that will 'organize and measure the best of our energies and skills,' is for President Obama to boldly challenge the nation to renew America with renewable energy by the end of the decade.

    "…[President Kennedy once said] 'The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were and ask 'why not?'"


    From PointsofOriginII via YouTube

    November 24, 2010: Pennsylvania Embracing Wind Power

    "…Near the little town of Garrett, was excited to spy a large wind turbine on the horizon through the trees…Saw a few more turbines as I came to the town, so headed up a country road in search of the project. The hill was so steep I had to push the trike up part of it, but I was determined to get closer. Pedaled a few miles further and made a good guess on a side road which took me right smack into the middle of the project. Surrounding me were 30 megawatts of wind projects, all I believe developed by Florida Power & Light, including one sited on land reclaimed from a coal strip mine. It was a beautiful sight to behold.,, Turning around to pedal back down the hill, I was met by a dozen or more turbines a few ridges away. Was graced by a regal-looking hawk alighting on a branch above me as I pedaled towards the project…"

    November 25, 2010: Giving Thanks

    "…Today is about gratitude, and counting all the wonderful blessings…"

    Thursday, November 25, 2010

    THANKS

    Though times are hard, even the darkest of moments holds things to be thankful for and an attitude of gratitude is soothing.

    From NewEnergyNews, gratitude goes out first and foremost to its tried and true sponsors, American Wind Energy Association and One World Direct, and to its incredibly astute and loyal readers, without whom there would be nothing to sponsor. Thank you Thank you Thank you from the heart.

    From radcla via YouTube

    This year’s honor roll also includes:

    The Marks Family Fund for the kind of giving that is not tax deductible,

    Enterprise Ireland for hosting an unending stream of questions; (Ireland remember this: tough times never last but tough people do.)

    9a for donating her husband Randolph;

    The Great Alexander and the Akbar boys for their steady stream of aches and pains;

    The miracle workers from Carousel Ranch;

    My dear friend Michael the man of so many talents and his KPCC connection;

    Many patients with unmatched patience and loyalty (the tooth lady, the horse trainer, little sister (thank you for the lifeline), the designer from KP and his KP compatriots (including the real estate mogul), the red light engineer, the Irish ingénue, Slugger Jack and his so remarkable progenitors, the universal music man, the drummer boy from Colorado, the gourmet connection, and so many more backs and necks that hopefully the work itself has thanked);

    The Cowboy Palace dancers for being open to background reading on Saturday nights;

    Tom and Heather;

    Anne and Sandy and Boulder Wind Power;

    The editor-in-chief and the assistant editor at Greentech Media for giving a reporter with more determination than talent a chance to hone his craft (and the head of the Clark clan for the intro);

    The former landlady; Frenchie and so many more.

    Thanks so very much to these wonderful folks and those overlooked in haste.

    Enjoy Turkey Day, listen to the video, thank the love there is everywhere and get ready to get back to work because the chimes of freedom are still flashing and there is still a New Energy economy to make happen.

    THE ENERGY FOR THANKSGIVING DINNER

    Saving Thanksgiving Dinner Energy
    November 22, 2010 (KFXA Fox28 – Cedar Rapids)

    "…According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the average cost of the goods for this year's traditional Thanksgiving dinner for ten people is approximately $43.47…The average cost for Alliant Energy's Iowa customers to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving dinner using energy sources such as electricity or natural gas is $1.34 and 58 cents, respectively.

    "Alliant Energy also offers the following energy efficiency cooking tips…[1] Use the 'lids-on' approach to stove top cooking. Tightly fitted lids help keep heat within pots and pans, which permits the use of lower temperature settings and shorter cooking times…[2] match the size of the pan to the heating element. More heat will get to the pan and less will be lost to the surrounding air…"


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    "…[3] Food keeps cooking even after you turn off the burner. When food is almost ready, turn off the oven or burners and let existing heat finish the cooking…[4] Always cook on the highest heat until liquid begins to boil. Upon boiling, lower the heat control setting and allow food to simmer until fully cooked…[5] The turkey is traditionally stuffed early in the morning and roasted for hours. Since it's a long, slow cook, there's no need to preheat your oven…true for a holiday ham [too]…reheat the oven [only for breads or pastries]…

    "…[6] When using an electric oven, cook as much of your meal in it at one time as possible…[V]ariations of 25 degrees Fahrenheit in either direction [in cooking temperatures] still produce good results and save energy…[7] resist the urge to open the oven door, as doing so will decrease the temperature inside by 25 to 30 degrees. Use your oven light and look through the window instead to keep the oven hot and the kitchen comfortable…[8] glass or ceramic pans…heat faster than metal pans and the cooking temperature may be lowered by 25°F…foods will cook in the same time with less energy…"


    Ticked Off Turkey! from Bonnie on Vimeo.



    "…[9] Fast and efficient microwave ovens use around 50 percent less energy than conventional ovens…[10] do not use your oven's self-cleaning cycle unless you have a major cleaning job…Wipe up minor spills and splatters with a damp cloth…[11] When using the oven's self-clean feature, start the cycle right after cooking, while the oven is still hot, or wait until late evening hours when use of electricity is lowest…

    "…[12] Help your refrigerator and freezer operate efficiently and economically by keeping the doors closed as much as possible…[13] cooking…[and] guests [heat the house]…Turn your thermostat down 3 to 5 degrees - no one will notice…"

    Wednesday, November 24, 2010

    TODAY’S STUDY: SOLAR PLUS ENERGY EFFICIENCY = BEST SAVINGS

    Singular solutions are appealingly simple but often the best answers are as complicated as real life. Example: Some people advocate for wind, others are passionate about solar and yet others say there is no answer to the energy conundrum that comes before efficiency. It turns out those are all oversimplified approaches.

    And what is apparently contradictory often turns out to be true. Example: It takes spending money to make money.

    Running the numbers on home energy use, as in the study below, turns up paired, nuanced insights: The cheapest way to use energy in a home in almost any city in the U.S. is to spend the money to install solar AND retrofit for energy efficiency.

    Life lesson: Combinations complicate the question but can offer the ultimate answer.


    Reducing Home Energy Costs by Combining Solar and Energy Efficiency
    November 2010 (California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA) and Westinghouse Solar)

    Abstract

    Energy efficiency and solar energy generation can effectively reduce -- and in many cases virtually eliminate -- residential energy bills. However, factors such as climate, age of the home and utility rates all dramatically affect the relative economic benefits of these measures. Since homeowners bear the brunt of these expenses, policies must be designed that are consistent with individual homeowner economics. For example, policies that mandate defined energy efficiency retrofit measures before solar energy generation result in bad economic investments for many homeowners. This paper examines the tradeoffs between energy efficiency retrofits and solar energy generation systems for homeowners throughout the U.S., and proposes solutions to encourage investments by homeowners that make good economic sense for their particular situation.

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    Executive Summary

    Saving energy in the U.S. starts right at home. The residential sector consumes 22% of the energy in the United States; by comparison, cars use about 17%. Actions that individuals take to reduce home energy costs will give them more disposable income – while simultaneously creating good local jobs, improving our environment and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

    Numerous surveys validate that homeowners’ first goal is to save money when making efficiency and solar improvements. Homeowners have two ways to structurally reduce their energy costs: retrofit energy efficiency measures and solar energy generation.
    Although they bear most of the cost for these retrofits, it is very confusing to sort out the various energy savings claims from contractors, retailers and manufacturers of these products and services.

    In order to objectively determine what combination of energy efficiency and renewable generation makes the most sense for homeowners, this White Paper uses Department of Energy software to evaluate three different ages of homes (old, typical and new) in ten cities in the U.S. The results of these 30 different home simulations are that climate, local utility rates and home condition are the biggest factors in determining what are the most cost effective energy savings measures for homeowners. In particular:


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    • Lighting retrofits are always cost effective (paybacks < 1 year).

    • Weatherization and insulation energy efficiency measures are most cost effective in old homes in cold climates (paybacks <3 years), but are not cost effective in newer homes or in temperate climates.

    • Basic building shell and ventilation energy efficiency measures are most cost-effective in cold climates, but have long paybacks in more temperate zones (paybacks 20+ years).

    • Rooftop solar power systems have good paybacks regardless of home condition in sunny areas and in areas with either high electric rates or high solar incentives (paybacks 5-15 years).

    • Solar thermal systems have good paybacks when the fuel source for hot water is electricity, or if there are local incentives in areas using natural gas with a tiered rate structure.

    • Upgrades to Energy Star appliances and equipment are generally cost-effective when replacing broken or obsolete equipment, but are generally not cost effective when the existing equipment is still functional (analogous to not upgrading to a new, higher mileage car if the old one still works).

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    In almost all of the typical and new housing stock in the U.S., the “low hanging fruit” of basic energy saving measures have already been harvested. Consequently, for a typical home in the U.S., rooftop solar energy systems (electric and thermal), will generate six times more energy than can be saved with lighting, weatherization and insulation retrofits combined.

    Generating the remaining energy required by the home will have the biggest impact on home energy consumption. Put simply, we cannot conserve our way to energy independence.

    The results are somewhat contrary to the “conventional wisdom” regarding cost effectiveness for energy efficiency and solar power systems. However, these results are not surprising when one considers the range of U.S. housing stock, varying climate conditions and current costs of various retrofit and renewable energy options. Most importantly, these results provide guidance for good national energy efficiency and solar policies that are consistent with homeowner economics.

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    Introduction

    In order for the U.S. to consume less energy, the place to start is right at home. The residential sector consumes 22% of the energy in the United States; by comparison, cars use about 17%. Actions that individuals take to reduce home energy costs will give them more disposable income -- while simultaneously creating good local jobs, improving our environment and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

    Homeowners have two ways to structurally reduce their energy costs: retrofit energy efficiency measures and solar energy generation. Retrofit energy efficiency measures include caulking, ceiling insulation, energy efficient heating and air conditioning systems, appliances (laundry, refrigerator), lighting, and windows. Solar energy generation includes solar power (photovoltaic), solar water heating, and solar space conditioning. Each of these measures address specific aspects of a home’s energy requirements. For example, insulation addresses heating and cooling requirements, and energy efficient appliances address electricity demand. Photovoltaic systems reduce overall electricity demand by generating electricity on-site, including ‘plug loads’ from televisions and appliances, as well as the electricity needed to run heating and air conditioning systems.

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    In all cases, homeowners bear most of the costs for selecting and implementing these measures. Their individual economic situation and energy usage patterns directly impact their choice of which measure or combination of measures to implement. Although some portion of these costs can be reduced through local rebate programs and federal tax credits, the majority of the cost of these improvements is borne by the individual.
    Therefore, their specific preferences and economic choices must be addressed when establishing energy savings policies. Failure to consider these consumer economic factors risks creating policies that may look good on paper but will fail in practice.

    For the last few decades, energy efficiency measures and rooftop solar power have proven their ability to reduce homeowner’s utility bills. While it is indeed important for energy consumers to reduce energy consumption, it is not true that all efficiency measures make sense for all homes. The reality is that the climate region in which the home is located, the age and condition of the home, and utility rates dramatically change the cost-effectiveness and preference for various energy saving and energy generating measures. To succeed in home energy reduction goals policymakers must encourage consumers to reduce their energy consumption in a way that is consistent with their best economic interests.

    Numerous surveys validate that homeowners’ first goal is to save money when making efficiency and solar improvements. However, there is a wide range of retrofit and energy audit options available to homeowners to reduce their energy costs. Moreover, it can be quite confusing to sort out the various energy savings claims from contractors, retailers and manufacturers of these products and services. The primary goal of this White Paper was to use widely accepted software to determine if generalizations about the best energy savings measures can be made for homeowners.

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    Retrofit Recommendations

    One cannot generalize retrofit priorities for the entire U.S. However, certain retrofit priorities are clear when considering the location and condition of the home, as summarized below:

    • Lighting retrofits always show a rapid payback (< 1 year); these are low cost, mostly DIY activities.

    • Weatherization energy efficiency measures are most cost effective in old homes in cold climates (<3 years), but are not cost effective at all in newer homes or in temperate climates.

    • Basic building shell and ventilation energy efficiency measures are most cost-effective in cold climates (5-15 years), but have long paybacks in more temperate zones (20+ years).

    • Rooftop solar power systems have good paybacks, in the range of 5-15 years regardless of home age and climate as long as there are either high electric rates or high solar incentives. Due to technology advancements and mass production, costs for rooftop solar power systems are dropping rapidly – likely making these measures even more cost effective in future years.

    • Solar thermal systems have good paybacks when the fuel source for hot water is electricity, or if there are local incentives in areas using natural gas with a tiered rate structure.

    • Upgrades to Energy Star appliances and equipment are generally cost-effective when replacing broken or obsolete equipment, but are generally not cost effective when the existing equipment is still functional (analogous to not upgrading to a new, higher mileage car if the old one still works).

    Financing of retrofit measures is a critical consideration to homeowners. Many homeowners decide to take out a bank loan, PACE loan or lease financing. These loans have fixed transaction costs that make them impractical for low cost retrofits. When one considers both the financing costs and contractor project costs, packages of retrofits with relatively high costs (justifying the financing) and high annual savings (generating a short payback) are most likely to be widely adopted – saving the most residential energy in the U.S.

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    Conclusions and Policy Recommendations

    Public policy that is well aligned with consumer economics will have a tremendously positive impact in reducing home energy costs. In the course of doing this research it is apparent that some of these factors are being overlooked in the overall debate about energy savings.

    Conclusions

    • “Loading Orders”3 or retrofit priorities that do not consider actual homeowner economics can lead to public policies that fail in the marketplace.

    • The conventional wisdom approach of “energy efficiency first” does not consider four factors: the actual condition of the housing stock; local climatic conditions; electricity rates that are escalating faster than heating fuel rates; and the rapidly declining costs for solar and lighting upgrades.

    • If the goal is to reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources, then rooftop solar electric and thermal systems are clearly the best retrofit option. For a typical home in the U.S., these systems will generate six times more energy than can be saved with lighting, weatherization and insulation retrofits combined.

    • Overall, solar upgrades will save eight times more energy for typical California homeowners than lighting, weatherization and insulation measures combined – and should therefore be the first priority rather than the last option.

    • Traditional retrofit measures such as insulation, weatherstripping and HVAC upgrades do not show fast paybacks, except in old homes in cold climates.

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    • Homeowners should be encouraged to implement retrofits in payback or NPV order rather than in an arbitrary fashion

    • The DOE Home Energy Saver program is a tremendously useful web-based tool for both homeowners and energy auditors to use. The internal energy simulation and recommendations it provides are well calibrated to local climate and home design parameters. However, the program should be adjusted for local energy costs, total (not incremental) retrofit costs, marginal electric rates, and solar power and solar thermal retrofit measures.

    • Energy audits are not necessary to determine the suitability of a home for some of the most cost effective retrofits (note that some home energy audits cost as much as $1,000 per homes – and this cost is generally not factored in to energy efficiency cost effectiveness evaluations). Old homes in poor condition in cold areas will almost always need insulation and air infiltration improvements – these homes are good energy audit candidates. However, new homes and most homes in temperate areas may not justify the cost of an expensive HERS-type energy audit; moreover, these audits are simply not necessary to determine the applicability of the obvious lighting and solar retrofits.

    • Monitoring and control systems have great potential for reducing home energy consumption, although they were not considered in this analysis. Part of the problem is that thermostats can be over-ridden and consumption monitors can be ignored – whereas efficient lighting, rooftop solar or building insulation will deliver savings regardless of homeowner actions (or inactions). Nevertheless, innovations such as the “smart grid”, internet-connected thermostats and automatic load-shedding appliances can overcome some of the behavioral limitations that inhibit many energy savings efforts.

    • Due to technology advancements and mass production, costs for rooftop solar power systems are dropping rapidly – likely making rooftop solar even more cost effective in future years. On the other hand, since building shell and weatherization retrofits use conventional construction materials and labor techniques it is not likely that these costs will be substantially less in future years.

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    Policy Recommendations:

    • Modify loading order policies to encourage homeowners to select energy efficiency and self-generation in the appropriate payback order for their individual situation.

    • Modify loading order policies to take into account factors such as the actual condition of the housing stock and local climate conditions,

    • The cost of energy audits should be incorporated into the cost effectiveness evaluations for home energy efficiency retrofit measures.

    • The DOE Home Energy Saver program should be adjusted for local energy costs, total (not incremental) retrofit costs, marginal electric rates, and solar power and solar thermal retrofit measures.

    • Policies that anticipate long-term programs should consider likely future costs of retrofit measures.

    *