NewEnergyNews: QUICK NEWS, August 28: ROMNEY’S ENERGY PLAN, SUN’S ANSWER; WIND SITING TOOL GETS BETTER; HOMES WIRED FOR EFFICIENCY

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

Every day is Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • THE STUDY: WORLD WIND’S GROWTH GOES ON
  • QUICK NEWS, April 23: MONEY COMING BACK TO NEW ENERGY; CELLULOSIC BIOFUELS FROM CORN STOVER STUMBLE; SUIT AGAINST WIND FOR BAT IMPACTS THROWN OUT
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    THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: THE ECONOMIC ADVANTAGES OF NEW ENERGY – THE NORTH CAROLINA CASE
  • QUICK NEWS, April 22: ON EARTH – A QUICK LOOK BACK; OBSERVATIONS FOR EARTH DAY (continued); OBAMA ADMIN UPS BACKING FOR NEW ENERGY
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: THE U.S. NEW ENERGY MARKET NOW AND AHEAD
  • QUICK NEWS, April 21: OBSERVATIONS FOR EARTH DAY; BACK TO OWNERSHIP IN SOLAR; 15X GROWTH FOR ASIA PACIFIC MIDROGRIDS
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • Weekend Video: Happy Birthday Solar Cell
  • Weekend Video: Offshore Wind As A Hurricane A Wall
  • Weekend Video: Get On The Climate Policy Train
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 5 (continued from yesterday)
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 6
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 7
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 8
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, April 17:

  • TTTA Thursday-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 1
  • TTTA Thursday-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 2
  • TTTA Thursday-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 3
  • TTTA Thursday-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 4
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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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  • Tuesday, August 28, 2012

    QUICK NEWS, August 28: ROMNEY’S ENERGY PLAN, SUN’S ANSWER; WIND SITING TOOL GETS BETTER; HOMES WIRED FOR EFFICIENCY

    ROMNEY’S ENERGY PLAN, SUN’S ANSWER Romney Reveals Plans For U.S. Energy Policy; SEIA Weighs In

    24 August 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has revealed his detailed plans for energy policy in the U.S. if he is elected president… The Romney Plan For A Stronger Middle Class: Energy Independence stresses domestic production of oil and gas onshore and offshore. Through this strategy, Romney predicts the U.S. can become energy-independent by 2020…

    “The paper contains few specific mentions of solar power or other forms of renewable energy. However, several of Romney's proposals for removing regulatory hurdles to developing domestic sources of energy would likely apply to both fossil fuels and renewable energy sources…”

    “The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) applauded Romney's plans to reduce red tape at the federal level. Despite efforts by the Obama administration to speed permitting, utility-scale solar energy projects have been no stranger to regulatory hurdles and long-permitting timelines…SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch [said] SEIA plans to continue to work with lawmakers of all political stripes in an effort to reduce barriers to energy deployment, from the national level down to the local level.

    “…Citing infamous failed solar manufacturer Solyndra and job losses in the wind energy sector, Romney called for a reduced, revised role of government spending in the renewable energy sector…[T]he private sector can take the lead on energy technology advancement, and government-related investment in energy should focus on…basic, early-stage research for new technologies…SEIA voiced approval of Romney's acknowledgement that the federal government can help develop new energy sources but pointed out that all energy sources - including oil and natural gas - receive federal support…”

    WIND SITING TOOL GETS BETTER Mapping Tool Helps Wind Energy Companies Screen Early For Critical Habitat, Potential Wildlife Impacts

    August 23, 2012 (American Wind Wildlife Institute)

    “The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the American Wind Wildlife Institute (AWWI)…[have upgraded] the AWWI Landscape Assessment Tool (LAT), the state-of-the art wind-wildlife GIS mapping tool that they have jointly created. The LAT is designed to help wind energy developers with early screening for possible wildlife and habitat impacts…”

    [Joe Fargione, Lead Scientist, The Nature Conservancy:] "The wind-wildlife mapping tool…just got more powerful with the addition of critical habitat overlays for 225 endangered species including numerous species of plants, insects, mammals, fish, birds, amphibians, and reptiles…”

    “Critical habitats are areas that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designates ‘as necessary to the survival or recovery of an endangered or threatened species,’ and which therefore ‘may require special management and protection.’ The LAT upgrade features critical habitat maps for the species for which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated such habitat and produced corresponding GIS layers.

    “In all, LAT users can now display web-based maps drawn from over 700 data layers including land use and ownership, the potential distribution of endangered and threatened species, and other relevant wildlife and habitat data. The LAT is intended to be used by wind energy companies as they undertake preliminary, ‘Tier 1’ assessments of potential sites…”

    HOMES WIRED FOR EFFICIENCY Networked Home Energy Management Devices and In-Home Displays Utilizing ZigBee, PLC, HomePlug, and Wi-Fi Connectivity: Global Market Analysis and Forecasts

    3Q 2012 (Pike Research/Navigant)

    “Home area networks (HANs) are localized systems of hardware and software that enable…consumers to access consumption information that, when acted upon, can result in reduced use of energy and lower costs. The HAN is seen as one of the last zones of technologies that complete the modern smart grid…[by leveraging] consumption information provided by smart meters…to HAN devices that can take advantage of the information – often resulting in both energy and cost savings for the consumer.

    “…[HANs] adoption has been slowed by a number of factors, including consumer indifference, the cost of new equipment, and evolving technology standards. Utilities themselves have taken a relatively slow approach…[and] concentrated initial efforts on the deployment of smart meters. A few utilities in North America have started to promote HANs…In Europe, HAN adoption has been sluggish…with the exception of the United Kingdom, where regulatory mandates require basic HAN gear to be part of new smart meter deployments…”

    “…[Networked home energy management (HEM) shipments will grow steadily, starting with worldwide volumes of nearly 18,000 in 2011 and growing to almost 4 million in 2020 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 81.8%. North America will lead, followed by Western Europe, as government mandates stimulate shipments…[I]n Asia Pacific…a 2011-2020 CAGR of 109.7% is expected. This growth is due in part, to Japanese utility giant TEPCO, which is seeking bids for deploying approximately 17 million smart meters by 2019; the smart meter deployment will drive increased HAN volumes…

    “Combined overall revenue…will grow from more than $24 million at the beginning of the forecast to $1.1 billion in 2020 at a CAGR of 53.4%. The total revenue for displays is expected to be greater than revenue for networked HEM because of lower prices and larger volumes]…”

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