NewEnergyNews: 07/01/2011 - 08/01/2011

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

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

  • TTTA Thursday-EVANGELICALS IN ‘CREATION CARE’ CLIMATE FIGHT
  • TTTA Thursday-ADVANCED WIND-MAKERS MAKANI, SHEERWIND READY DEMOS
  • TTTA Thursday-TEA PARTY BACKS SOLAR, ATTACKS UTILITY MONOPOLIES
  • TTTA Thursday-WHAT DRIVERS DON’T KNOW HOLDS BACK THE FUTURE
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: THE IMPACT ON REAL PEOPLE OF RISING POWER PRICES
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 22: SCHOOLS SAVE W/GEOTHERMAL HEAT PUMP SYSTEMS; BUILDING FOR NEXT-GEN U.S. BIOFUELS; ENERGY STORAGE MARKET EMERGING
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    GET THE DAILY HEADLINES EMAIL: CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR SEND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: WHERE U.S. OFFSHORE WIND WILL CONNECT
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 21: SOLARCITY TO CROWDFUND WITH $1,000 BONDS; NEW JERSEY LOOKS AT OCEAN WIND; SMART LED LIGHTING MRKT TO DOUBLE
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: NEW OPPORTUNITIES IN TRANSMISSION
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 20: ELEVEN GOOD THINGS ABOUT SOLAR ENERGY; YAHOO BUYS WIND; SMART THERMOSTATS’ BILLION DOLLAR FUTURE
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • Weekend Video: The Ocean Speaks Out
  • Weekend Video: Adapting To The Inevitable
  • Weekend Video: The Joy Of Driving EVs Powered By The Sun
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-HOTTEST SEPTEMBER EVER; WORLD’S HOTTEST MONTHS STREAK AT SIX
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-EU WIND BEATS FOSSIL, NUKE ENERGY PRICES
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-DESERTEC SUCCUMBS TO MIDEAST TURMOIL
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-JAPAN UPS PUSH FOR GEOTHERMAL
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, is a biweekly contributor to NewEnergyNews

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

    November 26, 2013 (Huffington Post via NewEnergyNews)

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

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

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

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

    2013-11-05-FigureES4_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

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

    2013-11-05-Table_ES2_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    2013-11-05-Figure_ES2_FULL.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Anne's previous NewEnergyNews columns:

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

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

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    Your intrepid reporter

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

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

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  • Sunday, July 31, 2011

    WHO IN THE WORLD IS BUYING NEW ENERGY

    Brazil, China, India leading in clean energy investment world record
    July 13, 2011 (The Climate Group)

    "A new report…shows that developing countries such as Brazil, China and India invested more in renewable energy than developed countries like the US and UK last year, helping worldwide investment grow by 32% and reach a record high of US $211 billion…This new total is up a third from 2009 renewable investment and the report states that clean energy is now responsible for over 5% of the world’s total power production.

    "The report…also says that for the first time, developing economies overtook developed countries in terms of ‘financial new investment’, spending on utility-scale renewable energy projects and provision of equity capital for renewable energy companies…
    US $72 billion was invested in developing countries compared to US $70 billion in developed economies, which contrasts with 2004, when financial new investments in developing countries were about one quarter of those in developed countries…"


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    "China accounted for 70% of the total with US $50 billion put into clean energy projects, primarily in wind power…The Middle East and Africa witnessed the largest leap, with their combined investment doubling to US $5 billion…Including Brazil, Central and South America rose 39% to US $13.1 billion, with Mexico seeing the biggest jump to US $2.3 billion…India ranked eighth in the world growing by 25% to $3.8 billion, with wind projects as the biggest single item at $2.3 billion, followed by $400 million each for solar, and biomass and waste-to-energy.

    "Together, the developing countries account for more than half of global renewable energy power…The report notes that the recession in the G-7 countries and the dynamism of China, India, Brazil and other important emerging economies has transformed the balance of power in renewable energy worldwide…[I]n an increasing number of cases, renewable energy is not just one of the easiest non-grid-connected options to establish, but also more cost-effective than the fossil fuel alternatives…[T]he growing trend of taking up renewable energy options might just result into developing economies 'leapfrogging' developed countries in their use of renewable energy over the coming decade."

    UK WIND GENERATES

    UK offshore electricity generation surges ahead; Electricity generated by offshore wind increased by 42% in 2010, while that from onshore rose by 16%...
    Catherine Early, 28 July 2011 (Windpower Monthly)

    "Wind was the primary contributor to an overall rise in electricity production from renewables of 15%, though biomass and energy from waste also increased 9%, according to [the newest Department of Energy and Climate Change report]…

    "This means that electricity from renewable sources rose to 6.8% of the total, compared with 6.7% in 2009 and 5.5% in 2008. The UK needs to produce 30% of its electricity from renewables to meet its 2020 target."


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    "The growth in electricity generation from wind in 2010 is lower than previously. In 2009, offshore wind rose by 61% and onshore by 24%. In 2008, offshore increased by 49% and onshore by 38%.

    "Meanwhile, electricity produced from nuclear decreased from 18% in 2009 to 16% in 2010. This is a reversion to the long-term decline of nuclear generation in the UK, which hit a low of 13% in 2008."

    CLOUD OVER EUROPEAN SUN

    Strong 2010 European PV Market Growth of 169% Set to Give Way to 14% Contraction in 2011; Solarbuzz Reports Adjustments to European Policies Cause Price Collapse, Inventory Build and Increasing Market Fragmentation
    July 21, 2011 (SolarBuzz)

    "Rapidly falling prices in 1H’11 have been unable to stimulate the faltering European PV market, according to [Solarbuzz®]…Signs of a strengthening market in June 2011 were hit by cancellation of the anticipated mid-year incentive tariff reductions in Germany…

    "The downturn in European major markets in 1H’11 left module shipments from manufacturers running well ahead of end-market demand. The resulting increase in downstream inventories quickly spread to the upstream, causing production plans to be reined in. Desperate to stimulate growth, crystalline silicon module price offers from manufacturers have reached new lows of €0.75-1.00/W…"


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    "Market growth of 169% across Europe in 2010 was led by three countries: Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic. Each country delivered gigawatt-scale markets and, combined, represented 89% of European demand. Italy’s market share is forecast to rise from 32% in 2010 to 39% in 2015 to become the largest market in Europe, while the combined share of the two largest markets, Italy and Germany, is forecast to fall to 71% in 2015 from 80% in 2010…[but] solar PV project investment returns (IRRs) up to 20% could still be realized, a clear indicator both of the generous level of incentive tariff rates and the headroom for future tariff reductions…

    "Based on an assessment of countries over the next 18 months, incentive tariffs for residential systems are set to fall by at least an average 17%, with commercial roof-mounted systems of 100 kW falling by 23% and ground-mounted 1 MW installations falling by 34%...Over the next five years, customer segmentation changes across Europe will see the residential segment double its share. In addition, investor groups’ share will fall by almost half, while commercial (including agricultural) customers remain the dominant market segment…"

    DIVORCE IN SPANISH WIND

    Iberdrola, Gamesa End Wind-Farm Accord Due to Weak Economy
    Will Kennedy and Tony Barrett, July 28, 2011 (Bloomberg News via SF Chronicle)

    "Iberdrola SA, the world's biggest renewable energy producer, and wind-turbine maker Gamesa Corporacion Tecnologica SA ended a strategic accord on wind-farm development because of the economic crisis.

    "Iberdrola and Gamesa, Europe's second-largest turbine maker, signed the agreement in 2009 that allowed for joint development and operation of wind parks and included options for Iberdrola to buy projects in Europe from Gamesa starting this month…"


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    "…The end of the deal, due to global economic conditions and the companies' strategies, means those options are cancelled…

    "Gamesa…reported a 29 percent increase in first- half net income… Gamesa said first-half net income rose to 29 million euros ($41.4 million), while revenue rose 26 percent to 1.3 billion euros."

    SOLARCITY GIFTS SUN TO FUKUSHIMA FOR WATER

    Elon Musk Donates Solar Power Project to Soma City in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan; SolarCity will manage project at no cost to provide clean, renewable electricity to water treatment plant in area still recovering from effects of tsunami
    July 29, 2011 (Reuters)

    "Elon Musk, through his Musk Foundation, has donated $250,000 to build a solar power system in Soma City, in the Fukushima prefecture of Japan…that was devastated by a tsunami earlier this year…SolarCity is donating time and resources to manage the project, which will provide renewable electricity to a city facility located on reclaimed industrial land not suitable for agriculture.

    "The solar arrays will consist of high-efficiency solar panels manufactured in Japan, and will be installed by local workers in Fukushima. The project will create local construction jobs and can act as a model for the reuse of disaster-stricken areas in other parts of Japan…"


    japan has sun (click to enlarge)

    "Much of the eastern portion of Soma was flooded by a devastating tsunami following a massive earthquake on March 11, 2011. The city is about 43 kilometers north of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, the site of the nuclear accident caused by the tsunami. Soma City’s agriculture, dairy and fishing industries were devastated…and tourism has been hurt…[but despite] Soma City’s proximity to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant, the winds and topography have protected the city…

    "The Soma City project will be the Musk Foundation’s second donated solar project the last 12 months. The Musk Foundation donated the funds and SolarCity donated labor to build a solar power system for a hurricane response center in southern Alabama in December 2010, to provide renewable power with battery backup to an area that had been devastated by Hurricane Katrina and the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico."

    Saturday, July 30, 2011

    Going Beyond


    Some of the gamechanging $50 million donation Mayor Bloomberg made to Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign is already at work. From Mike Bloomberg via YouTube

    Follow The Money


    This isn't strictly speaking about New Energy but when some of the so-called leaders in DC start talking about rescinding the meager supports New Energy gets from the federal government so that they can sustain the Bush tax cuts, it is time to stop and think. From karinmoveon via YouTube

    Energy Efficiency, Part 1


    Peter Sinclair, the force behind the superb Climate Denial Crock of the Week series is back with this great chronicle of the emergence and value of Energy Efficiency. Consider it, among other things, a tribute to the genius of Amory Lovins. From greenman3610 via YouTube

    Friday, July 29, 2011

    NEW ENERGY WINS ANOTHER POLL

    Green energy: California poll finds overwhelming support
    July 27, 2011 (LA Times)

    "A new statewide survey of environment issues…found more [California] residents favor climate change policy, want to cut greenhouse gas emissions and believe they are already experiencing the effects of global warming…

    "The survey, the 11th since 2000…found Californians are strongly supportive of policies that encourage fuel efficiency and renewable energy…Most survey takers (67%) support the state’s law reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Across the board, state residents agree that automakers should be required to improve fuel efficiency standards (90% Democrats, 81% independents, and 76% Republicans)."


    (from the poll - click to enlarge)

    "They also overwhelmingly favor (79%) government regulation of the release of greenhouse gases from sources such as power plants, cars and factories to reduce global warming. While 79% favor greenhouse gas regulations, they are split between a cap and trade system (54% in favor) and a carbon tax (60% in favor)…

    "Sixty-six percent of Californians consider air pollution 'a big problem' but are divided when asked whether pollution is a more serious health threat in lower-income areas than in other areas in their region (50% yes, 45% no)…[B]lacks (36%) and Latinos (26%) are more likely than whites (14%) or Asians (11%) to see regional air pollution as a very serious health threat…75% view global warming as a threat to the economy and 61% believe the effects of global warming have already begun. This is an increase of 7 points since last July (54%). The percentage of Republicans who believe the effects of global warming are starting to show went up by 10 points…"

    THE BENEFITS AND ISSUES OF A NATIONAL CLEAN ENERGY STANDARD

    The Effects of Renewable or Clean Electricity Standards
    July 2011 (Congressional Budget Office)

    "Many policymakers have expressed interest in mandating that a minimum percentage of the electricity consumed in the United States be generated from renewable or “clean” sources of energy. A majority of states have implemented similar requirement…known as renewable or clean electricity standards…[that] would reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the most prevalent greenhouse gas, by decreasing the percentage of electricity generated from fossil fuels. That change would not significantly reduce energy imports, however, because most of the energy used for electricity generation in the United States already comes from domestic sources…

    "A national RES or CES would alter the mix of energy sources used to produce electricity, the amount of CO2 emitted, and the price of electricity, with those effects varying by region. To illustrate the effects, the Congressional Budget Office compared the results of seven analyses…with a variety of design features and relied on…different assumptions about the costs of relevant technologies…"


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    "Most analyses concluded that the bulk of the increase in renewable generation resulting from an RES or CES would come from additional wind generation (mainly in the High Plains region of the western and central United States) and from biomass generation (mainly in the Southeast). The relative importance of those sources depends heavily on assumptions about the availability of resources in different regions and about the relative costs of various technologies…

    "… Although the costs of meeting a particular RES or CES cannot be predicted with certainty, they could be reduced by incorporating certain design features. For example, allowing unrestricted trading of credits, expanding the range of energy sources that could be used to comply with the policy, phasing in the standard gradually, and giving companies the flexibility to shift credits between years would all make an RES or CES policy more cost-effective…"

    SOLARCITY BEATS GRID ELECTRICITY IN HAWAII

    SolarCity’s new pricing plan undercuts utility grid electricity in Hawaii
    Chris Whitmore, 18 July 2011 (PV Tech)

    "A new solar pricing plan from SolarCity has sent shockwaves through the Hawaiian energy generation market by undercutting traditional utility grid electricity prices. Hawaii has the highest energy prices in the US and the new rates will bring solar electricity to residential and business users on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Lanai from as little as US$60 per month…"

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    "To support the expansion of operations, SolarCity has opened a 19,500 square foot warehouse in Mililani and expects to hire up to 100 people to help staff the facility…The Mililani site will also help coordinate construction of Solar City’s 1.2M installation at Hickam Communities’ Pearl Harbor Air Force base in Kapahi. This is expected to be one of the largest PV developments in Hawaii and will see panels installed on approximately 600 rooftops."

    FIRST OCEAN ADMIN APPROVAL FOR OCEAN WIND

    Rhode Island first state to receive offshore NOAA approval
    26 July 2011 (Windpower Monthly)

    "Rhode Island's ocean management plan to support offshore wind development has become the first to be approved by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

    "The Rhode Island Ocean Special Area Management Plan (Ocean SAMP) aims to improve state review processes and policies to facilitate the development of offshore projects across an area that spans approximately 1,467 square miles over portions of Block Island Sound, Rhode Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean…"


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    "With NOAA's approval of the state's Ocean SAMP under the federal Coastal Zone Management Act, Rhode Island becomes the first state to have incorporated a comprehensive ocean special area management plan in its coastal zone management programme.

    "This approval means that enforceable policies in the Ocean SAMP for protecting existing activities such as fishing, important habitats and archaeological resources, and identifying areas suitable for energy projects, may be applied to federal actions in federal waters…[It] follows the court backing of a power-purchase agreement for the pilot 30MW Block Island offshore wind farm at the start of July."

    NEW WIRES RULING IS A WINNER FOR NEW ENERGY

    FERC Final Rule Reforms Transmission Planning, Cost Allocation
    Laura DiMugno, 26 July 2011 (North American Windpower)

    "After considering more than 200 sets of public comments, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has approved Order No. 1000, a final rule to reform its transmission-planning and cost-allocation requirements, with the ultimate goals of facilitating the development of new transmission facilities and lowering the costs of transmission services.

    "The new rule subjects public utility transmission providers to a host of new requirements involving transmission planning and cost allocation. These improvements, the commission contends, will remove the barriers to the development of new transmission facilities."


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    "Among the new transmission-planning requirements is that transmission providers must develop regional transmission plans and coordinate with neighboring transmission-planning regions...[as well as consider] the needs established by state and federal laws and regulations…The new rule also contains a provision designed to avoid delays resulting from issues such as siting and permitting. Transmission providers must develop a contingency plan to implement in the event that these delays affect their ability to maintain reliable service…[Most importantly,] the rule establishes requirements in regard to cost allocation, including the development of regional and interregional cost-allocation methods…

    "…[FERC acknowledged that] changes in the electric power industry…[and especially] the increased demand for renewables…necessitate new and upgraded transmission lines…The North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC)] projects in its 2010 long-term reliability assessment that approximately 60 percent of all new resources expected to be added to the bulk-power system by 2019 will be new wind and solar…NERC forecasts that there will be a 9% increase in the circuit miles of transmission added…[M]ore than 27% will address the need to integrate intermittent energy sources such as wind and solar…"

    Thursday, July 28, 2011

    TODAY’S STUDY: FROM THE HEARTLANDS, FOR THE HEARTLANDS

    The earliest U.S. New Energy action was in California. Off-grid solar and utility-scale wind drove those sectors in the early 1980s. But eventually other states realized they had resources and opportunities, too.

    Texas now leads the U.S. in wind and Iowa, though well behind, is coming on fast.

    New Jersey is second in the nation in solar, proving that everybody has enough sun but not everybody has the right policies and incentives.

    The heartlands are rich in wind, sun and biomass resources. They have an underutilized manufacturing base anxious to go to work building New Energy hardware. And they have a grid that has already begun modernizing for efficiency.

    As reported in the study highlighted below, the landmark Midwest Governors Association commitment of 2009 called for the coalition of ten states to move to a New Energy economy in two crucial ways. They aimed at instituting of Energy Efficiency measures to reduce the Heartlands’ electricity consumption 2 percent per year by 2015 and every year afterwards to 2030. And they aimed at obtaining 30 percent of the Midwest’s power from New Energy sources by 2030.

    According to the highly authoritative Union of Concerned Scientists, these aims are entirely achievable and the benefits would be enormous.

    The Energy Efficiency would lay the groundwork for all that followed in two ways. The $2-to-$4 saved for every dollar invested would pay for building New Energy and modern transmission infrastructure. And modernizing the grid would prepare the region for battery-powered vehicles, a transition that would expand its ability to use electricity instead of oil for transportation.

    The New Energy-generated power would be from the heartlands for the heartlands, creating job opportunities at the resource sites and at the manufacturing sites where the tools to capture and transmit the power would be built. And with the shift to battery-powered vehicles, the Midwest’s New Energy could be used to fuel the personal transport sector, freeing the hundreds of millions of dollars a day that leave to region to buy imported oil for greater investment in the homegrown economy.

    Getting to the projected future will require a big investment but there is no better way to use money. What is a better investment than a rejuvenated future economy that grows local jobs and liberates the heartlands from (1) dependence on imported oil, (2) concerns about the security of the energy supply and (3) the spewing of climate change-inducing greenhouse gas emissions?

    The birth of a New Energy economy in the heartlands is also likely to help the entire nation find its way toward once again being young at heart.


    A Bright Future for the Heartland; Powering the Midwest Economy with Clean Energy
    Claudio Martinez, Jeff Deyette, Sandra Sattler and Anne McKibbin, July 2011 (Union of Concerned Scientists)

    Vision for a Clean Electricity Future in the Midwest

    From the manufacturing centers, to the corn and soybean fields, to the major finance hubs, to the leading research universities, Midwest states have long served as an economic engine for the United States. Yet the region is still struggling to fully recover from a recession that has made it difficult for families to pay bills and for businesses to prosper and sustain job growth.

    At the same time, the Midwest’s energy system is not sustainable. The region’s electricity supply is dominated by coal—largely imported from outside the region—which poses serious risks to public health and the environment, and leaves consumers vulnerable to price increases.

    Practical and affordable solutions are available to help revitalize the Midwest economy and ensure a clean, safe, and reliable power supply. Energy efficiency technologies and renewable electricity resources, such as wind, biopower, and solar, offer a smart and responsible transition away from polluting fossil fuels to the new innovation-based economy of the twenty-first century. Investing in a clean energy economy can help spur entrepreneurship, create jobs, and keep the Midwest globally competitive, while enabling it to move toward greater energy independence and conserve resources for future generations.

    click to enlarge

    The threat of rapid climate change adds urgency to this transition. Climate change is driven primarily by a buildup in the atmosphere of heat-trapping emissions from burning fossil fuels and other human activities. Failure to reduce these emissions will have significant consequences for the Midwest, including scorching summers, dangerous storms, more severe flooding, and greater stress on agriculture (Hayhoe et al. 2009). The Midwest is one of the biggest U.S. contributors to global warming pollution, with just 22 percent of the nation’s population accounting for 27 percent of its heat-trapping emissions (Mackun and Wilson 2011; World Resources Institute 2011).1

    Fortunately, the region is home to some of the best renewable resources in the world, particularly wind and biomass. It also has a world-class manufacturing base and a skilled labor force that can support and benefit from the deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. This gives the Midwest the unique ability to turn a challenge into an opportunity to spur economic growth and become a leader in the clean energy sector while reducing global warming emissions.

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    Midwest states can and must accomplish the transition to a robust and clean energy economy. A Bright Future for the Heartland focuses on the electricity sector, and assesses the economic and technological feasibility of achieving the recommendations of the Midwestern Governors Association (MGA), a collaboration of 10 states working on key public policy issues (Figure 1.1). The MGA’s targets include reducing electricity use by 2 percent annually by 2015 and thereafter, and supplying 30 percent of the region’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030 (MGA 2009).

    The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) focused on the nine Midwest states—Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin—covered by the Midwest ISO and PJM, the region’s two independent transmission system operators. We analyzed electricity use and trends in the region, as well as energy technologies, policy initiatives, and sources of emissions, to develop a comprehensive course of action for affordably and effectively meeting the MGA goals. A Bright Future for the Heartland provides a path for reducing dependence on fossil fuels from the electricity sector, revitalizing local and regional economies, and cutting heat-trapping emissions and other pollutants.

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    The Energy Roadmap of the Midwestern Governors Association

    In 2009, an MGA Advisory Group released the Midwestern Energy Security and Climate Stewardship Roadmap (Energy Roadmap), which recommends targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency for the region’s electricity system (MGA 2009):

    Midwest utilities will rely on wind, biopower, solar, and other renewable energy sources to generate 10 percent of their electricity by 2015, and 30 percent by 2030.

    Retail power providers will rely on improvements in energy efficiency to reduce annual sales of electricity by at least 2 percent annually by 2015 and thereafter.

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    Our analysis focuses on these two high-priority recommendations, which we model as a renewable electricity standard (RES) and an energy efficiency resource standard (EERS). An RES is a flexible, market-based policy that requires electricity providers to gradually increase the amount of renewable energy used to produce the power they supply. An EERS similarly requires utilities to meet specific annual targets for reducing the use of electricity. While the region will need other policies to overcome specific market barriers to clean energy, the RES and EERS have proven to be effective and popular tools for advancing renewable energy and energy efficiency at the state level. As of April 2011, eight Midwest states had adopted an RES (among 29 states nationwide, plus Washington, DC). Five of those states also have an EERS (among 26 states nationwide). However, while these are important steps, most Midwest states must go further to reach the targets established by the Energy Roadmap.

    Many of the region’s governors are newly elected, and therefore did not help develop those targets. However, a diverse group of bipartisan stakeholders crafted them to address the serious risks to public health and the environment of the region’s existing power system.

    The MGA Targets Create Jobs, Save Consumers Money, and Cut Climate Change Emissions

    We used a dynamic energy forecasting model to examine the effects of the renewable energy and energy efficiency targets in the Energy Roadmap on the Midwest economy and environment through 2030…We modeled several scenarios to analyze how to meet the targets under a range of conditions and available technologies. Our findings show that investing in clean energy is a smart and responsible course that will help Midwest revitalize their economies while leaving future generations with a clean, reliable, and sustainable power supply.

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    Meeting the MGA’s renewable energy and energy efficiency targets would spur innovation, inject capital into the regional economy, and create tens of thousands of jobs in big cities, small towns, and rural communities across the Midwest. Cuts in power use and downward pressure on electricity prices stemming from gains in energy efficiency and competition from renewables would provide families and businesses much-needed savings on energy bills.

    Tapping the Midwest’s wealth of wind, biopower, solar, and efficiency resources would diversify the power supply, making it more reliable and secure. That path would also move the region away from its overdependence on coal, which would improve public health and reduce the dangers of global warming.

    While this report focuses on the transition to a low-carbon electricity sector, it does not include every step the Midwest must take to address climate change. That will require the participation and cooperation of local, state, regional, federal, and international leaders.
    Under such a partnership, state and regional leaders can push for comprehensive federal legislation while also enacting policies that can reduce emissions and spur innovation and clean energy economic development in the Midwest.

    Chapter 2 explores major renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions available today, identifying their potential, challenges in reaching widespread use, and the policy approaches that can help overcome those challenges. Chapter 3 explains our modeling approach and major assumptions. Chapter 4 presents the overall results of our analysis, and Chapter 5 provides recommendations to policy makers and other stakeholders.

    Our report also includes fact sheets showing key findings for each state, as well as a Technical Appendix that allows readers to delve more deeply into our methods, assumptions, and results. All materials are available online at www.ucsusa.org/brightfuture.

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    Opportunities and Challenges for Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency, and Other Low-Carbon Technologies in the Midwest

    Coal now dominates the Midwest power supply, accounting for 68 percent of the region’s electricity generation…Midwest states depend far more on coal than the nation as a whole—about 45 percent of U.S. electricity comes from this polluting fossil fuel—and the region must import much of its coal supply.

    In 2008, Midwest states imported 190 million tons of coal from outside of the region—63 percent of their total coal use—at a cost of $7.5 billion. Every state in the Midwest was a net importer of coal that year, and seven states had to import all or nearly all the coal their power plants burned (Deyette and Freese 2010). Coal-burning power plants in the Midwest are the single-largest source of carbon emissions in the region: they account for 44 percent of the region’s emissions, and 10 percent of total U.S. carbon emissions (EIA 2010a).

    Midwest states could greatly reduce their reliance on coal to generate electricity by moving to renewable resources such as wind, sustainable forms of biopower, and solar. These homegrown energy sources are widely available in the Midwest, and ready to be deployed today. They are also increasingly cost-effective for producing electricity (Freese et al. 2011; Goossens 2011), and they create jobs while reducing pollution (UCS 2009b).

    Midwest states also have the potential to reduce electricity use by improving the energy efficiency of their buildings and industries (Stratton and York 2009). This chapter describes the current status and future prospects for using local renewable energy and energy efficiency to provide a growing share of the Midwest’s electricity needs.

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    Renewable Energy Technologies and Their Potential in the Midwest

    The Midwest is rich in renewable energy resources. Wind, solar, and biopower together have the technical potential to generate more than 18 times the amount of electricity the Midwest needs today.3

    Economic, physical, and environmental limitations mean that not all of that potential can be tapped. Issues such as potential land-use conflicts; the higher short-term costs of some resources; constraints on ramping up their use, such as limits on transmission capacity; barriers to public acceptance; and other hurdles place limits on how much of this resource the Midwest can tap over the short and medium term. However, after accounting for many of these factors in our analysis, we find that renewable energy can provide a significant share of the Midwest’s current and future electricity needs.

    More than 20 comprehensive analyses over the past decade have found that using renewable sources to provide at least 25 percent of U.S. electricity needs is both achievable and affordable (Nogee, Deyette, and Clemmer 2007). For example, a 2009 UCS analysis—using a modified version of the model we used in this study—found that a national renewable electricity standard of 25 percent would lower electricity and natural gas bills a cumulative $15.2 billion in the Midwest by 2025, by reducing demand for fossil fuels and increasing competition among power producers (UCS 2009b).

    A 2010 UCS analysis examining how the United States could reduce heat-trapping emissions by 80 percent by 2050 found that renewable energy could affordably and reliably supply 40 percent of the U.S. electricity mix by 2030—after reductions in energy demand stemming from energy efficiency and the use of combined-heat-and-power systems (Cleetus, Clemmer, and Friedman 2009). Other analyses have found that expanding the share of renewable energy in the Midwest in line with the Energy Roadmap targets is feasible (ELPC 2001). In many of these analyses, Midwest states were key in deploying the renewable energy capacity needed to achieve those goals…

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    Wind Power…Biopower…Solar Power…Distributed Energy and Combined Heat and Power…
    Transmission and Other Infrastructure Challenges…


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    Energy Efficiency Technologies and Their Potential in the Midwest

    Energy efficiency technologies allow the use of less energy to get the same—or higher—level of production, service, and comfort. We can still light a room, keep produce fresh, and use a high-speed computer, but we can do it with less energy. Energy efficiency is less expensive than any form of electricity generation, and does not require transmission lines (Friedrich et al. 2009; Lazard 2008).

    Measures such as more building insulation, improved lighting systems, more efficient air-conditioning, and improved water-heating systems also dominate the list of cost-saving solutions for reducing for demand for coal-based power and cutting global warming emissions (Pers-Anders, Naucler, and Rosander 2007). Creating a highly energy-efficient economy requires the deployment of these technologies, as well as policies and programs to overcome the entrenched barriers that prevent businesses and consumers from using energy wisely and efficiently…

    The Midwest has made strides in adopting energy efficiency policies over the last six years. Seven of the Midwest states examined in this report have energy efficiency resources standards in place: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Missouri has adopted an integrated resource planning process that incorporates energy efficiency into the utility planning process.

    While utilities and regulators are just beginning to implement these policies, they are already saving consumers money and creating jobs. As a result, states are gaining momentum toward the Energy Roadmap target of 2 percent annual savings for electric utilities by 2015 and each year thereafter. In the Midwest, budgets for ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs reached $443 million in 2009 (Molina et al. 2010), and are projected to increase to $1.2 billion in 2011 (MEEA 2011).

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    Potential for Greater Energy Efficiency in the Midwest

    Analysis from the Energy Center of Wisconsin, performed with the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), found that the Energy Roadmap’s 2 percent annual energy efficiency target is aggressive but achievable (Stratton and York 2009). In fact, a majority of the studies reviewed in the analysis showed the potential for achievable efficiency gains of 1.9 percent or more each year…

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    Policy Recommendations: Setting a Course for a Midwest Clean Energy Future

    Placing Midwest states on a sensible and attainable path toward a clean energy future can help solve several of the region’s challenges: creating jobs, boosting the economy, cutting dependence on coal, and reducing the heat-trapping emissions that cause global warming.

    Our analysis shows that meeting the renewable energy and energy efficiency targets in the Energy Roadmap would provide significant economic and environmental benefits for the Midwest. Investing in clean energy will spur innovation and entrepreneurship, help revitalize the manufacturing sector, and create tens of thousands of jobs. These investments will make energy more affordable for families and businesses, boost local economies, and help keep the region globally competitive. Tapping the region’s ample renewable energy and energy efficiency resources will position the Midwest as a clean energy leader, and confer distinct advantages over other regions should the federal government implement policies that limit carbon emissions.

    This chapter details some of the critical renewable energy, energy efficiency, and climate policies that would help the Midwest transition to a clean energy future…

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    Conclusion: A Vision for a Midwest Clean Electricity Future

    From the strong winds of the Great Plains, to the agricultural lands of the Corn Belt, to the sun shining bright from Cleveland, Ohio, to Rapid City, South Dakota, the Midwest is home to some of the world’s best renewable energy resources. The region is also endowed with a strong industrial base and leading research universities, where a tradition of hard work and innovation has long served as an economic engine for the entire nation. Few areas of the world have this ideal mix of resources, industrial capacity, and knowledge. These advantages give the Midwest the tools to turn the challenges of a stalled economy and an unsustainable, polluting energy system into an opportunity for economic prosperity, job growth, and a healthy environment.

    Achieving the renewable energy and energy efficiency targets set forth in the Energy Roadmap would provide significant economic benefits to the Midwest. Meeting those goals would spur innovation and create tens of thousands of jobs in big cities and small towns across the Midwest. That effort would also provide much-needed savings for families and businesses on their energy bills, and a more diversified, reliable, and secure power supply. Such an endeavor would also move the Midwest away from its dependence on coal, improving public health and reducing the dangers of global warming and toxic emissions.

    Fully capturing these important economic benefits and removing key market barriers will require smart policy solutions. Many Midwest states have already taken important steps to promote clean energy, and they must not retrench. Instead, each state can go further to strengthen or enact policies that at least match the Energy Roadmap targets, and that support local, regional, federal, and international efforts to promote renewable energy, energy efficiency, and cuts in carbon emissions.

    States can benefit from enacting these policies individually, but they will benefit even more by acting together. With each state doing its part to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency, all Midwest states will collectively reap many important benefits today while building a clean and sustainable economy for future generations.

    QUICK NEWS, July 28: WYOMING MEGA-WIND MOVES AHEAD; THIN FILM SUN UPS EFFICIENCY; NOT YET SMART ABOUT SMART GRID; BUILDING A SOLAR POWER PLANT

    WYOMING MEGA-WIND MOVES AHEAD
    BLM Publishes Draft EIS For PCW's Wyoming Wind Project
    25 July 2011 (North American Windpower)

    "The U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has released its draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project, a 2 GW to 3 GW wind farm proposed by the Power Company of Wyoming LLC (PCW)…[This] begins a 90-day comment period.

    "The approximately 1,100-page draft EIS document results from more than three years of analysis, public input and collaboration among federal, state and local cooperating agencies…"


    (from the BLM EIS - click to enlarge

    "…The report informs the public of various factors associated with the wind power plant, including its ecological, aesthetic, cultural, economic and social effects. BLM is preparing this EIS pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act [NEPA], as about half of the PCW wind project is sited on federal land…

    "The project is expected to include up to 1,000 turbines that will be located on a 320,000-acre working cattle ranch in Carbon County, Wyo. The ranch's outstanding wind resources, coupled with efficient turbine siting, will allow PCW to produce approximately 2.5 GW of renewable energy yet permanently use less than 2,000 acres of land, according to PCW…"



    THIN FILM SUN UPS EFFICIENCY
    First Solar Cadmium-Telluride Cell Hits 17.3 Percent Efficiency
    26 July 2011 (Solar Industry)

    "…[T]he U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has confirmed that [First Solar’s] cadmium-telluride (CdTe) photovoltaic solar cell has reached a new world record in efficiency: 17.3%...The average efficiency of First Solar modules produced in the first quarter of 2011 was 11.7%, up from 11.1% a year earlier…"

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    "…[First Solar] has recorded full-module efficiencies over 13.5%, with a 13.4% module confirmed by NREL…First Solar notes that its module efficiency roadmap sets a goal for production-module efficiencies of 13.5% to 14.5% by the end of 2014. The 17.3% efficiency figure was reached with a test cell constructed using commercial-scale manufacturing equipment and materials."


    NOT YET SMART ABOUT SMART GRID
    Survey Shows Smart Grid Education Still Lacking
    21 July 2011 (Renew Grid)

    "A new survey released by Danfoss and conducted by the Ivanovich Group shows consumer education on the smart grid is still lacking and reveals perceived barriers to and benefits of the smart grid.

    "…[A majority of] senior executives in facilities and plant services for industrial, K-12 schools, university campuses, commercial offices and government facilities; senior executives in engineering firms; and senior executives for HVAC product manufacturers… believe that elements of the smart grid will be in place within three to five years, [but] 43% feel it is unlikely the smart grid will be substantially complete in that same time frame. More than half (52%) of the participants, however, indicated that they are currently engaged in some form of smart grid activities."


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    "The research also confirms that any smart grid investment made by building owners competes with other potential investments…[B]uilding owners listed costs as the number one barrier to investment in the smart grid…[T]hat investment may include retro-commissioning or retrofits to ensure buildings can take advantage of the benefits the smart grid offers.

    "Respondents also cited better access to information as one of the leading reasons to support the smart grid. Shorter duration of power outages was also important to building owners…"



    BUILDING A SOLAR POWER PLANT
    CSP site logistics: the secret to smooth installation; CSP projects cover vast tracts of land, often on exposed, remote sites, and involve the installation of large, breakable components. So, what are the key variables affecting the cost of site logistics – and how best can they be contained?
    Andrew Williams, 25 July 2011 (CSP Today)

    "… Many of the sites that Bechtel managea are very large - so it is vital that workers [who assemble the thousands of heliostats, parabolic troughs, boilers, turbines and/or storage systems] are able to reach work areas as quickly possible. It is also critical that material and equipment is available constantly so that they can be as productive as possible…[A]n extra hour of field work for each of 200,000 heliostats [could] cost more than $10 million assuming all-in cost for labour and support is $50/hour - which is low…

    lots of parts to coordinate (click to enlarge)

    "…[T]he early definition and agreement of project designs with all relevant agencies can help to avoid unnecessary costs. It is also useful to base plant design on an established reference plant or block design…Other ways to minimise costs include the integration of experienced construction teams at the design phase, the application of Six Sigma/Lean Construction techniques in the analysis and design of field processes, the establishment of step-by-step construction procedures, the performance of simulations/time motion studies and the development of risk registers and mitigation measures."


    "…[T]he maximisation of modularisation, integration of ‘multi-discipline’ elements, careful selection and testing of construction equipment, understanding of permit conditions and critical ‘red team reviews of execution plans before going to the field are also vital…[I]ssues taking a dollar to solve in planning, cost $10 to solve in detailed design, and $100 to solve in the field…

    lots of parts to coordinate (click to enlarge)

    "Local community engagement can be a huge benefit in ensuring successful execution of projects…[T]he best way to quickly engage the local community and mitigate any communication or cultural barriers is to put local hires on the project team early in the project, bring them up to speed on project goals as quickly as possible, and use them as primary liaisons with the local community and to help set strategies for mitigation of any issues that may arise…"

    Wednesday, July 27, 2011

    TODAY’S STUDY: ON BUILDING BRIDGES AND THE WORLD’S RENEWABLES RIGHT NOW

    There was this guy who lived on the bank of a river until a climate change-driven flood swept the river over its banks. When the flood waters receded, the guy found his home was now on an island in the middle of the river.

    It was the only home he knew and he didn’t want to move. He rowed out to his little piece of land and renovated his house.

    While he was renovating, he noticed that a pretty girl was building a house across from him on the new river bank.

    Time went by because it always does and the guy and the girl settled in. He found that he liked to watch her garden. She didn’t seem to have any interest at all in him.

    When he needed supplies, he had to row to the mainland. On the way home from one of his supply trips, he saw her in her garden and asked if she would be interested in helping him build a bridge across the river. She said she saw nothing in it for her.

    He told her that seemed like a selfish attitude. She got mad and grabbed some wood strips she had set aside to chop. He dashed for his rowboat and pushed off. She hurled the strips of wood and went back to her gardening. The woodstrips stuck in the muddy river bottom, their top halves sticking up out of the water.

    When the guy got back to his island, he was fuming. He grabbed some of his own woodstrips and hurled them back at her. She just ignored him. His woodstrips also stuck in the river bottom.

    The enmity quickly became entrenched. On his way home from each of his trips to town, he hurled insults and she chased him across the river by hurling woodstrips. Arriving home infuriated, he hurled woodstrips back.

    Gradually, over a long time, an interesting thing happened. The woodstrips filled the river and formed a framework for scaffolding. All he had to do was row out, hammer the woodstrips in solidly, and lay planks across them.

    Together, the guy and the girl had built a bridge.

    One night, she became feverish. Slightly delirious, she set out to town for help. But because she was delirious, she went the wrong way and walked across the bridge to his island.

    At first, he was irritated. But when he realized how urgently she needed help, he doctored her. Delirious, she didn’t resist. He kept her warm and hydrated and gave her aspirin. In a few days, she recovered. At first irritated about the whole thing, she finally realized how kind and caring he had been. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

    In the report highlighted below, the annual accounting of progress from the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century, there are graphs that show how little New Energy there was just a decade ago and how much more there is now.

    full size image below
    full size image below

    A decade ago, a few wide-eyed dreamers believed in a New Energy economy. The world essentially ignored them. The dreamers began building.

    In the second half of the decade, the Old Energies started getting worried at the emerging supplies of New Energy and began hurling efforts to block and discredit the builders. They just kept building. Because of what they were accomplishing and because of the efforts by the Old Energies to discredit them, the world began to take notice. Investors got involved.

    The results are in the graphs. The wide-eyed dreamers have built the framework of a New Energy economy. They are still building.

    And the Old Energies are getting deliriously feverish about it.


    Renewables 2011 Global Status Report
    12 July 2011 (Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century)

    Executive Summary

    Changes in renewable energy markets, investments, industries, and policies have been so rapid in recent years that perceptions of the status of renewable energy can lag years behind the reality. This report captures that reality and provides a unique overview of renewable energy worldwide as of early 2011. The report covers both current status and key trends; by design, it does not provide analysis or forecast the future.

    Global energy consumption rebounded in 2010 after an overall downturn in 2009. Renewable energy, which experienced no downturn in 2009, continued to grow strongly in all end-use sectors – power, heat and transport – and supplied an estimated 16% of global final energy consumption. Renewable energy accounted for approximately half of the estimated 194 gigawatts (GW) of new electric capacity added globally during the year.

    Renewables delivered close to 20% of global electricity supply in 2010, and by early 2011 they comprised one quarter of global power capacity from all sources.

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    In several countries, renewables represent a rapidly growing share of total energy supply, including heat and transport. For example:

    In the United States, renewable energy accounted for about 10.9% of domestic primary energy production (compared with nuclear’s 11.3%), an increase of 5.6% relative to 2009.

    China added an estimated 29 GW of grid-connected renewable capacity, for a total of 263 GW, an increase of 12% compared with 2009. Renewables accounted for about 26% of China’s total installed electric capacity, 18% of generation, and more than 9% of final energy consumption in 2010.

    Germany met 11% of its total final energy consumption with renewable sources, which accounted for 16.8% of electricity consumption, 9.8% of heat production (mostly from biomass), and 5.8% of transport fuel consumption. Wind power accounted for nearly 36% of renewable generation, followed by biomass, hydropower, and solar photovoltaics (PV).

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    Several countries met higher shares of their electricity demand with wind power in 2010, including Denmark (22%), Portugal (21%), Spain (15.4%), and Ireland (10.1%).

    Trends reflect strong growth and investment across all market sectors. During the period from the end of 2005 through 2010, total global capacity of many renewable energy technologies – including solar PV, wind power, concentrating solar thermal power (CSP), solar water heating systems, and biofuels – grew at average rates ranging from around 15% to nearly 50% annually. Biomass and geothermal for power and heat also grew strongly. Wind power added the most new capacity, followed by hydropower and solar PV.

    Across most technologies, 2010 saw further growth in equipment manufacturing, sales, and installation. Technology cost reductions in solar PV in particular meant high growth rates in manufacturing. Cost reductions in wind turbines and biofuel processing technologies also contributed to growth. At the same time, there was further industry consolidation, notably in the biomass and biofuels industries, as traditional energy companies moved more strongly into the renewable energy space, and as manufacturing firms continued to move into project development.

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    By early 2011, at least 119 countries had some type of policy target or renewable support policy at the national level, up from 55 countries in early 2005. There is also a large diversity of policies in place at state/provincial and local levels. Developing countries, which now represent more than half of all countries with policy targets and half of all countries with renewable support policies, are playing an increasingly important role in advancing renewable energy.

    As policies spread to more and more countries, the geography of renewable energy use is also changing. For example, commercial wind power existed in just a handful of countries in the 1990s but now exists in at least 83 countries. Solar PV capacity was added in more than 100 countries during 2010. Outside of Europe and the United States, developed countries like Australia, Canada, and Japan are experiencing gains and broader technology diversification, while (collectively) developing countries have more than half of global renewable power capacity.

    China now leads in several indicators of market growth: in 2010, it was the top installer of wind turbines and solar thermal systems and was the top hydropower producer. India is fifth worldwide in total existing wind power capacity and is rapidly expanding many forms of rural renewables such as biogas and solar PV. Brazil produces virtually all of the world’s sugar-derived ethanol and has been adding new hydropower, biomass, and wind power plants, as well as solar heating systems.

    At least 20 countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa have active renewable energy markets. Manufacturing leadership continues to shift from Europe to Asia as countries like China, India, and South Korea increase their commitments to renewable energy. The increasing geographic diversity in markets and manufacturing is boosting confidence that renewables are less vulnerable to policy or market dislocations in any specific country.

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    One of the forces propelling renewable energy policies and development is the potential to create new industries and generate new jobs. Jobs from renewables number in the hundreds of thousands in several countries. Globally, there are more than 3.5 million direct jobs in renewable energy industries, about half of them in the biofuels industry, with additional indirect jobs well beyond this figure.

    Also driving renewables development are state-owned multilateral and bilateral development banks, which have been pillars of investment in renewable energy during recent, troubled years for the world economy. More public money went to the renewable energy sector through development banks than through government stimulus packages during 2010.

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    Total investment in renewable energy reached $211 billion in 2010, up from $160 billion in 2009, continuing the steady annual increase seen since tracking first began in 2004. Including the unreported $15 billion (estimated) invested in solar hot water collectors, total investment exceeded $226 billion. An additional $40–45 billion was invested in large hydropower.

    Asset finance of new utility-scale projects (wind farms, solar parks, and biofuel and solar thermal plants) accounted for almost 60% of the total and was the largest investment asset class. Investment in small-scale distributed generation projects (mainly solar PV) amounted to $60 billion and accounted for more than 25% of total investment in renewable energy. For the first time, investment in renewable energy companies and utility scale generation and biofuel projects in developing countries surpassed that in developed economies. China attracted more than a third of global investment during 2010, making it the leader for the second year in a row.

    2010 Market and Industry highlights and Ongoing Trends

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    Wind Power. The market maintained its 2009 level,with 38 GW added for a total of about 198 GW. For the first time, the majority of new wind power capacity was added in developing countries and emerging markets, driven primarily by China, which accounted for half the global market. Trends include continued offshore development, the growing popularity of community-based projects and distributed, small-scale grid-connected turbines, and the development of wind projects in a wider variety of geographical locations. Average turbine sizes continued to increase in 2010, with some manufacturers launching 5 MW and larger machines, and direct-drive turbine designs captured 18% of the global market.

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    Solar Photovoltaics (PV). The PV industry had an extraordinary year, with global production and markets more than doubling in 2010. An estimated 17 GW of capacity was added worldwide (compared with just under 7.3 GW in 2009), bringing the global total to about 40 GW – more than seven times the capacity in place five years earlier. The EU dominated the global PV market, led by Italy and particularly Germany, which installed more PV in 2010 than the entire world did the previous year. The trend toward utility-scale PV plants continued, with the number of such systems exceeding 5,000 and accounting for almost 25% of total global PV capacity. Cell manufacturing continued its shift to Asia, with 10 of the top 15 manufacturers located in the region. Industry responded to price declines and rapidly changing market conditions by consolidating, scaling up, and moving into project development.

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    Concentrating Solar Thermal Power (CSP). After years of inactivity, the CSP market has come back to life with nearly 740 MW added between 2007 and the end of 2010. More than half of this capacity was installed during 2010. Parabolic trough plants continued to dominate the market. Dramatic reductions in PV costs are challenging the growing market for CSP, at least in the United States, where several planned projects were redesigned to use utility-scale PV technologies. At the same time, project development is moving beyond the U.S. southwest and Spain to other regions and countries, particularly the MENA region.

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    Solar hot water/heating. Solar heating capacity increased by an estimated 25 GWth in 2010 to reach approximately 185 GWth, excluding unglazed swimming pool heating. China continues to dominate the world market for solar hot water collectors. Europe’s market shrank during 2010 due to the economic recession, despite the emergence of some new players, but it continued to rank a distant second. While virtually all installations in China are for hot water only, there is a trend in Europe toward larger combined systems that provide both water and space heating. A number of solar industrial process heat installations came online during 2009 and 2010 in China, Europe, the United States, and elsewhere.

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    Biomass power and heat. Biomass supplies an increasing share of electricity and heat and continues to provide the majority of heating produced with renewable sources. An estimated 62 GW of biomass power capacity was in operation by the end of 2010. Biomass heat markets are expanding steadily, particularly in Europe but also in the United States, China, India, and elsewhere. Trends include increasing consumption of solid biomass pellets (for heat and power) and use of biomass in combined heat and power (CHP) plants and in centralized district heating systems. China leads the world in the number of household biogas plants, and gasifiers are used increasingly for heat applications in small and large enterprises in India and elsewhere. Biomethane (purified biogas) is increasingly injected into pipelines (particularly in Europe) to replace natural gas in power and CHP plants.

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    Biofuels. Liquid biofuels provided about 2.7% of global road transport fuels in 2010. The global ethanol industry recovered in response to rising oil prices, with production increasing 17% in 2010, and some previously bankrupt firms returned to the market. The United States and Brazil accounted for 88% of global ethanol production; after several years as a net importer, the United States overtook Brazil to become the world’s leading ethanol exporter. The EU remained the center of biodiesel production, but due to increased competition with relatively cheap imports, growth in the region continued to slow. The diversity of players in the advanced biofuels industry continued to increase with the participation of young, rapidly growing firms, major aviation companies, and traditional oil companies.

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    Geothermal power and heat. Geothermal power plants operated in at least 24 countries in 2010, and geothermal energy was used directly for heat in at least 78 countries. Although power development slowed in 2010, with global capacity reaching just over 11 GW, a significant acceleration in the rate of deployment is expected as advanced technologies allow for development in new countries. Heat output from geothermal sources increased by an average rate of almost 9% annually over the past decade, due mainly to rapid growth in the use of ground-source heat pumps. Use of geothermal energy for combined heat and power is also on the rise.

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    Hydropower. Global hydropower production represented about 16% of global electricity production in 2010. An estimated 30 GW of capacity was added during the year, with existing global capacity reaching an estimated 1,010 GW. Asia (led by China) and Latin America (led by Brazil) are the most active regions for new hydro development.

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    Ocean energy. At least 25 countries are involved in ocean energy development, and wave and tidal technologies saw significant progress toward commercial generation during 2010. At year’s end, an estimated total of 6 MW of wave (2 MW) and tidal stream (4 MW) capacity had been installed, with most of this capacity in Europe.

    Continued strong growth is expected in all renewable energy sectors in the coming years, with projects at various stages of development around the world. China alone plans to install more than 30 GW of wind power capacity during 2011 and 2012, and significant additional capacity is under construction in India, the United States, United Kingdom, and other countries. At least 5.4 GW of solar PV capacity was under contract in the United States by the end of 2010. Globally, nearly 2.6 GW of additional CSP capacity was under construction by year’s end, with all plants expected to be operational by 2014. Significant geothermal power capacity (and CHP) was in project pipelines around the globe by year-end, with 46 countries forecast to have new geothermal capacity installed within the next five years. Major developments are under way for hydropower, ocean energy, and other renewable technologies as well.

    For more 2010 data and country rankings, see the Selected Indicators and Top Five Countries tables on page 15.

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    A Dynamic Policy Landscape

    Renewable energy support policies continued to be a driving force behind the increasing shares of renewable energy, despite some setbacks due to the lack of long term policy certainty and stability around the world in 2010.

    National targets now exist in at least 98 countries. These targets represent commitments to shares of electricity production (typically 10–30%), total primary or final energy, heat supply, installed capacities of specific technologies, and shares of biofuels in road transport fuels. Many targets also exist at the state, provincial, and local levels. Although some targets were not met or were scaled back, many countries achieved or exceeded their targets set for 2010; two countries – Finland and Sweden – passed their targets for 2020. Existing targets were raised in a number of countries including Finland, Germany, Spain, and Taiwan, and entirely new targets were adopted in South Africa, Guatemala, and India, among others.

    Renewable power generation policies have been implemented in 95 countries and represent the most common type of renewables support policy. The feed-in tariff (FIT) remains the most widely implemented policy, in place in at least 61 countries and 26 states/provinces worldwide. Most FIT-related activity in 2010 focused on revisions to existing policies in response to strong markets that exceeded expectations, particularly in the case of PV. New FIT policies were implemented in several developing/transition countries in 2010 and early 2011.

    Renewable portfolio standard (RPS)/quota policies have been enacted at the national level in 10 countries and in at least 50 other jurisdictions, including 30 U.S. states (plus Washington, D.C.) and the Canadian province of British Columbia, which requires that 93% of new power capacity be renewable.

    Many additional types of policies are being implemented to support renewable power generation, including direct capital investment subsidies, grants, or rebates; tax incentives; energy production payments or credits; and public financing. Net metering, or “net billing,” policies exist in at least 14 countries, including Italy, Japan, Jordan, and Mexico, and in almost all U.S. states. Green energy purchasing and labeling programs are growing with more than 6 million green power consumers in Europe, the United States, Australia, Japan, and Canada.

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    Although enacted less aggressively than policies to promote renewable electricity or biofuels, many policies to support renewable heating and cooling have emerged in recent years. New policies introduced since the beginning of 2010 include the United Kingdom’s innovative Renewable Heat Incentive and a grant program in South Africa. Governments have traditionally relied on direct capital grants and tax credits to spur investment in renewable heating systems, but new policies providing public budget neutrality have been gaining favor. Solar hot water mandates for new construction projects represent a growing trend at both national and local levels.

    Mandates for blending biofuels exist in 31 countries at the national level and in 29 states/provinces. Subsidies and tax exemptions are also used to promote biofuels. Finland, Ethiopia, Thailand, and Spain all revised existing biofuels policy legislation in 2010, and South Korea and Jamaica implemented new blending mandates.

    City and local governments continue to become increasingly important players in promoting the local generation and use of renewable energy. Local support policies include renewable energy targets; urban planning that incorporates renewable energy; building codes that mandate or promote renewable energy; tax credits and exemptions; investment in renewable energy for municipal buildings and transit; subsidies, grants, or loans; as well as a variety of informal, voluntary actions to promote renewable energy at the community level.

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    Rural Renewable Energy

    In even the most remote areas, renewable energy is increasing access to basic energy services – including lighting and communications, cooking, heating and cooling, and water pumping – and generating economic growth. PV household systems, wind turbines, micro hydro powered or hybrid mini-grids, biomass-based systems or solar pumps, and other renewable technologies are being employed in homes, schools, hospitals, agriculture, and small industry in rural and off-grid areas of the developing world.

    The number of rural households served by renewable energy is difficult to estimate as the sector becomes driven increasingly by individual project promoters or private companies, but it runs into the hundreds of millions. Small solar PV systems provide power to a few million households, and micro-hydro configured into village- or county-scale mini-grids serves many more.

    Over 44 million households use biogas made in household-scale digesters for lighting and/or cooking, and more than 166 million households now rely on a new generation of more-efficient biomass cookstoves. Off-grid renewable solutions are increasingly acknowledged to be the cheapest and most sustainable options for rural areas in much of the developing world. This will have an impact on market development in the long term, especially if the barriers to accessing information and financing products are addressed.

    QUICK NEWS, July 27: MISCALCULATED SUBSIDIES; SUN PRICES UP, SALES SLOW; ADVANCES ON THE WAVES; THE FIGHT TO FIGHT EMISSIONS

    MISCALCULATED SUBSIDIES
    EIA studies on energy incentives distort value of spending on wind energy
    July 26, 2011 (American Wind Energy Association)

    "The 2011 report on energy incentives from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), requested by Representatives Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Roscoe G. Bartlett (R-MD)…[is expected to use the flawed methodology of] analyzing only a single year of energy incentives…[This] is a poor way to judge the support afforded by the U.S. government to many kinds of energy sources for decades."

    Click thru for the complete report

    "Consider a coal-fired power plant installed in 1965 and still generating electricity today. That power plant was subsidized when it was installed, and the mining and transportation of its fuel have been subsidized in the 45-plus years ever since then. If you look at the plant’s incentives in 2010, they are only a tiny slice of the total federal expenditure—the cost of the plant was amortized long ago."

    Click thru for the complete report

    "Now consider a wind farm installed in 2008. The production tax credit it received in 2010 was part of the basis for financing its construction. Once that credit is used up (in 2017), it will receive no further incentives (because it uses no fuel). Comparing its incentives with those provided to a 45-year-old coal plant is comparing apples to oranges…Analyzing only a single year of energy incentives inevitably gives a misleading representation of the support afforded by the U.S. government to all kinds of energy sources…The steady and significant government support provided over the past 50 or more years has allowed generation from sources like nuclear, coal and even hydro to flourish and become major electricity sources…"


    SUN PRICES UP, SALES SLOW
    PV Prices Continue to Go up, but Momentum Slows
    July 21, 2011 (Energy Trend)

    "…[T]he polysilicon spot price continues to increase, and current trading price has stayed between $52/kg and $54/kg…[T]he trading price in the Chinese market is slightly higher than other markets ranging from $55/kg to $58/kg…

    "…PV manufacturers [are expected to] take a wait-and-see attitude toward the market in 3Q11…[while watching] the order demand of 3Q11 to evaluate the market…[Most] PV spot prices went up [narrowly]…It might signal [that] end market demand is less than expected…[so that] the price trend of 3Q11 could reverse."


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    "…[T]he average price of polysilicon has risen by 1.53% to $54.55/kg…[S]olar cell market demand is spurred by increasing clients’ need…[ D]emand for high conversion efficiency product remains [high but]…manufacturers are having difficulties raising the price of lower conversion efficiency products due to…lower demand…

    "…[Overall,] the average price of solar cell has slightly increased by 2.3% to $0.802/Watt…Affected by market price in India, the thin film market price has decreased slightly by 0.3% to $1.000/Watt…"



    ADVANCES ON THE WAVES
    Aquamarine Power unveils next-generation Oyster wave energy device
    July 15, 2011 (PennWell via HydroWorld)

    "Scotland-based marine energy developer Aquamarine Power has unveiled the Oyster 800, which is the firm's [800-kW] next-generation wave energy converter…Aquamarine Power installed and grid-connected its first full-scale 315-kW Oyster at [the European Wind Energy center (EMEC)] in 2009. This first device operated through two winters and delivered over 6,000 operating hours."

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    "The Oyster 800 operates in the same way as Oyster 1, but Aquamarine Power has used data and lessons learned from the first Oyster to significantly improve its power output, simplify installation and allow easier routine maintenance…The device shape has been modified and made wider to enable it to capture more wave energy. It is now mounted on two seabed piles, rather than four to simplify installation…The Oyster 800 will be the first of three devices to be installed at EMEC, with further Oysters to be deployed in 2012 and 2013. All three Oysters will be linked to an onshore hydroelectric plant to form a 2.4-MW array."


    THE FIGHT TO FIGHT EMISSIONS
    Amid opposition from conservatives, businesses defend greenhouse-gas accord
    Andrew Restuccia, July 25, 2011 (The Hill)

    "More than 200 businesses urged a handful of governors…to remain committed to a regional cap-and-trade program even as it comes under attack from conservative groups…The businesses — which include a slate of renewable energy companies — say the program, known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), has delivered major benefits for state economies."

    [Letter from 225 businesses to the governors of the RGGI states:] “We believe strong clean energy and clean air policies create jobs and stimulate economic growth. RGGI shows that market-based programs can reduce greenhouse gas emissions while boosting our economy…By reducing spending on out-of-region fossil fuels, RGGI improves energy security and economic competitiveness and frees up energy dollars for spending in other parts of our economies.”

    click thru for the report on RGGI’s benefits

    "…[C]onservative groups like Americans for Prosperity [are ramping] up their opposition to the program, which aims to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants in 10 Northeastern states…New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said in May that he will pull out of the program…

    "…[The businesses] say RGGI has delivered a return of between $4 and $6 for every dollar spent and created jobs in the clean energy sector…The businesses pressed the governors to make improvements to RGGI as part of an upcoming 2012 review of the program designed to evaluate its success…"

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