NewEnergyNews: QUICK NEWS, September 18: PEOPLE STILL WANT NEW ENERGY; TOO MUCH SILICON MEANS LOW SOLAR PRICE; EFFICIENCIES FOR VEHICLES

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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  • Tuesday, September 18, 2012

    QUICK NEWS, September 18: PEOPLE STILL WANT NEW ENERGY; TOO MUCH SILICON MEANS LOW SOLAR PRICE; EFFICIENCIES FOR VEHICLES

    PEOPLE STILL WANT NEW ENERGY Global Study Finds 85% Of Consumers Want More Renewable Energy

    14 September 2012 (North American Windpower)

    “…[Global Consumer Wind Study performed by TNS Gallup and commissioned by Vestas] reveals that 85% of consumers want more renewable energy, and 49% are willing to pay more for products made using renewable energy…

    “…74% of respondents said they would have a more positive perception of a brand if wind energy were its primary energy source, and 62% of respondents said they would be more willing to buy products from brands that use wind energy…”

    “The study also found that 45% of the consumers surveyed perceive climate change as one of the top three challenges facing the world today, with 17% saying it is the single greatest challenge.

    “…Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s (BNEF) Corporate Renewable Energy Index Report 2012 (CREX) found that…[in] 2011, net corporate investment in renewable power capacity outpaced that of fossil-fuel generation ($237 billion for renewables versus $223 billion for additional fossil-fuel generation)…”

    TOO MUCH SILICON MEANS LOW SOLAR PRICE Solar Polysilicon Glut Persists As Suppliers Consider Production Cuts

    14 September 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “With pricing for photovoltaic polysilicon declining at an accelerated rate in August, there are no signs that the glut plaguing the industry has abated, behooving tier-one suppliers to consider reducing production in order to stabilize market conditions…PV polysilicon prices last month fell at a faster rate in August than they did in July, continuing a losing streak that started in the fourth quarter of 2011…

    “Looking ahead to polysilicon demand in September and October [it is possible there will be a rebound but]…an impending trade war with China in this market creates an air of uncertainty that may frighten away some buyers. If these pressures continue, September and October could potentially see weak demand, putting additional pressure on polysilicon suppliers worldwide.”

    “Price is also a matter of uncertainty because of the anti-dumping situation in China. If a punitive tariff is imposed on Korean and EU/U.S. polysilicon makers in the next three months by the Chinese Department of Commerce, these companies will be forced to accelerate price declines because China is the dominant buyer of polysilicon.

    “…If Tier 1 suppliers maintain high utilization levels, the polysilicon oversupply situation will continue for the next 12 months…[A]t least 10% to 15% less polysilicon was traded during [August] compared to July. The lower demand is having a significant impact on the market for spot polysilicon because buyers still need to fulfill their long-term agreements with major suppliers, even though some buyers tried hard to keep the volume to a minimum…[On the hopeful side], demand from China is ready to take off soon - even though it has yet to materialize.”

    EFFICIENCIES FOR VEHICLES Stop-Start Vehicles; Micro Hybrid Technologies, Batteries, and Ultracapacitors: Global Market Analysis and Forecasts

    3Q 2012 (Pike Research/Navigant)

    “During the past decade, driven largely by an effort to meet legislated carbon emissions reduction goals for vehicle fleets, automakers have introduced technologies that enable internal combustion engines (ICEs) to turn off automatically when vehicles are stopped…

    “…[S]top-start vehicles are also known as micro hybrids, idle stop vehicles, and a variety of names branded by automakers, and in many cases the technology is bundled with other fuel efficient technologies. These vehicles can offer significant reductions in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, although the actual savings depend heavily on the drive cycle.”

    “Stop-start vehicles require more robust batteries and starter systems than are found in internal combustion engine vehicles and are priced at a small premium over ICEs but considerably less than hybrid vehicles. With the most aggressive environmental goals in the world, Europe has seen by far the greatest selection of vehicles with stop-start technology and, not surprisingly, the greatest volume of vehicles sold…

    “North America has experienced a relatively slow penetration of the technology due to less stringent emissions reduction goals and an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) testing cycle that underestimates the benefits of the technology. Worldwide, Pike Research expects more than 41 million of these vehicles to be sold annually by 2020 – nearly a tenfold increase over 2012 sales…”

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