NewEnergyNews: QUICK NEWS, February 29: CHINA SHOPPING FOR U.S. WIND; BETTER BIPV; THE POWER OF BUILDINGS

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, August 28:

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

  • THE STUDY: THE RISKIEST ENERGY IN THE WORLD
  • QUICK NEWS, August 27: VERIZON’S $40MIL SOLAR BUY; WIND PRICES HIT RECORD LOWS; NUKE INSPECTOR SAYS DIABLO CYN IS UNSAFE
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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: U.S. WIND RIGHT NOW
  • QUICK NEWS, August 26: CLIMATE MODELS PROVE RIGHT AGAIN; ABOUT INVESTING IN SOLAR; GM VS TESLA IN THE 200 MILE RACE

    THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: NEW CALMER WINDS AHEAD FOR EUROPE
  • QUICK NEWS, August 25: JULY’S U.S. ENERGY BUILD WAS ALL NEW ENERGY; CLIMATE CHANGE FOR ENERGY INVESTORS; WIND CAN GROW FASTER THAN NUCLEAR
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • Weekend Video: New Thoughts About New Energy For A New Climate
  • Weekend Video: Carbon
  • Weekend Video: Why Utilities Struggle With New Energy
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-WHY DENIERS’ BRAINS REJECT CLIMATE CHANGE
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-CHINESE TO HELP SAUDIS GO NEW ENERGY BY 2032
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-BUILDING EFFICIENCY TO BOOM IN EUROPE
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-GEOTHERMAL SEEKS CARIBBEAN BREAKTHROUGH
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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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  • Wednesday, February 29, 2012

    QUICK NEWS, February 29: CHINA SHOPPING FOR U.S. WIND; BETTER BIPV; THE POWER OF BUILDINGS

    CHINA SHOPPING FOR U.S. WIND
    China's State Grid in talks to buy AES' U.S. wind assets: sources
    Wan Xu and Don Durfee (w/Ian Geoghegan and Jason Neely), February 27, 2012 (Reuters)

    "State Grid Corp of China has had talks with U.S. power firm AES Corp (AES.N) about taking a controlling stake in its U.S. wind power business…as China's cash-flush state-owned power companies go on an overseas buying spree…[T]he assets could be worth around $1.65 billion…The deal involves wind power assets with capacity of around 1,100 megawatts (MW) and would give State Grid a roughly 80 percent stake in AES's U.S. wind power business…

    "…It would be State Grid's first foray into the United States…China's cashed up state power groups have been scooping up bargains, with dominant power distributor State Grid establishing a presence in the Philippines, Brazil and Portugal…One driver for such deals is a tightly regulated Chinese market that holds down profits for power firms…[The] agreement…[and] specific details… are still under negotiation…"




    "AES Wind Generation, a wholly-owned part of AES Corp, operates more than 1,800 MW of wind power generation capacity in the United States, China and Europe. Of that, nearly 1,346 MW is in the United States…[It] has a market value of $10.5 billion…Any deal would need both Chinese and U.S. regulatory approval…Since the failure of China's state oil firm CNOOC's bid to buy California rival Unocal in 2005, few Chinese companies have tried to buy U.S. conventional energy assets…[A] successful deal by State Grid would represent a significant step for China's efforts to enter the U.S. power market...

    "…[T]he Chinese company signed a deal to buy a 25 percent stake in Portuguese power grid operator REN for around $508 million. [I]t bought seven Brazilian power transmission companies with investments totaling nearly $1 billion…[A] consortium led by State Grid [won] operation of the Philippine power grid…[in] an auction for a 25-year operation license for $3.95 billion…AES, in which sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp CIC.UL holds a 15 percent stake…[wants] to sell all or part of its businesses in China, a deal that could raise $300-400 million…"



    BETTER BIPV
    Report Recommends Ways To Improve BIPV Glass For Solar Applications
    24 February 2012 (Solar Industry)

    "The total market for building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) glass will reach $6.4 billion in revenues in 2016, compared to $1.5 billion this year….

    "Today's BIPV glass provides transparency well below 50%, and the initial markets for BIPV glass are found in skylights, facades, spandrels, curtain walls and atrium roofing, where high levels of transparency are not required…[B]y improving on the current level of transparency, manufacturers of BIPV glass may be able to expand their addressable markets…"


    click to enlarge

    "[O]ne way that transparency can be improved is through new absorber materials, such as very thin layers of copper indium gallium diselenide or advanced dye-sensitized cells (DSC) using more transparent dyes…Another approach is to use advanced optics to enable the positioning of the PV panels so that they do not block sunlight to the same degree as in conventional BIPV glass panels, the report adds.

    "A similar evolution is expected to occur in the nature of the BIPV glass products themselves. Currently, all BIPV glass is highly customized to the needs of specific projects…[A]s BIPV glass shifts…to the broader commercial construction market, off-the-the-shelf products will have to be developed that can be sold through large construction firms and PV systems integrators…[F]uture generations of BIPV glass products will be characterized by monolithic integration and the incorporation of lighting, dimming and self-cleaning capabilities."



    THE POWER OF BUILDINGS
    Viridity, ConEd Solutions Take On Demand Response 2.0; Viridity and ConEd Solutions launch a commercial-scale effort to turn buildings into energy market resources.
    Jeff St. John, February 24, 2012 (Greentech Media)

    "Demand response -- turning down building power loads to shave peak grid demand -- sometimes gets split into 1.0 and 2.0 versions…[DR 2.0] comes when buildings can lower their peak power use not only to respond to utility emergency calls (DR 1.0), but to actually bid their power reduction into energy markets…But to manage it, this DR 2.0 technology has to stretch from the individual building, all the way to the energy markets where blocks of power are bought and sold every day...Viridity Energy and big energy services company ConEdison Solutions…[have built a platform to do that and thereby offer] building owners a chance to lower power bills and bring in new energy revenues, all at little to no cost.

    "The program has…a big target market, in the form of ConEd Solutions’ energy services (ESCO) and commodity energy trading customers…As a sister company of New York utility Consolidated Edison, ConEd Solutions is comparable to Honeywell and Johnson Control in terms of ESCO work, and competes against the likes of Constellation Energy and Dominion Power in the business of buying and selling power for big customers."


    click to enlarge

    "Viridity and ConEd Solutions bring a distinct new challenge to the competition for the title of the first commercial-scale demand response 2.0 project…[against] EnerNOC, Comverge, Constellation Energy, Johnson Controls, Honeywell…[which are] working on projects that link building control systems with energy markets ready to pay a premium for fast-responding, reliable power shed…

    "…ConEd Solutions’ big customer base gives it an advantage…[and] its energy commodity trading business [offers] more insight into how to better manage customer energy use to lower their rates and bills…Viridity has also proven its ability to handle both the emergency capacity demand response markets, which pay customers a monthly fee in exchange for a promise to cut power drop a few times a year, and the energy, or economic, demand response markets, where customers actually bid power reductions into energy markets…"

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