NewEnergyNews: QUICK NEWS, October 1: GOOGLING WIND; THE YEAR SUN TRANSITIONED; CARS ON LPG

NewEnergyNews

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

The new challenge: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • THE STUDY: THE MIDWEST GRID IS READY FOR 40% NEW ENERGY
  • QUICK NEWS, November 19: OHIO NEW ENERGY JOBS REPORT SUPPRESSED; SOLAR GIANT BUYS WIND DEVELOPER; BUSINESS TO MAKE IT BIG IN SMART CITIES
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: THE NEW ENERGY LIFE-CYCLE CUTS EMISSIONS
  • QUICK NEWS, November 18: U.S. TAKES WORLD LEAD IN WIND; SOLAR TO SHOW MISSOURI JOBS; WAVE ENERGY ROLLING SLOWLY IN
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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: A NEW TAKE ON THE COSTS AND BENEFITS OF SOLAR
  • QUICK NEWS, November 17: BIG TEST FOR SOLAR ROADS KICKS OFF; FORD TURNS TO NEW ENERGY; ADVANCED BATTERY SUPPLY CHAIN TO TRIPLE
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • Weekend Video: Hearing From Idiotic Idiots And Others
  • Weekend Video: The Aussies Say It Plainly
  • Weekend Video: Living In The Wasteland Of The Free
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-CLIMATE CHANGE COULD RUIN THE COFFEE MARKET
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-MORE UK JOBS FROM NEW ENERGY THAN FOSSILS
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-AFRICA’S BIGGEST SOLAR POWER PLANT LIGHTS UP
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-DENMARK AIMS FOR 100% NEW ENERGY
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, November 13:

  • TTTA Thursday-THE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE CHINA-U.S. CLIMATE DEAL
  • TTTA Thursday-DOE LOAN PROGRAM TURNS A PROFIT
  • TTTA Thursday-WEB USERS ARE WIND USERS
  • TTTA Thursday-TINKER-TOY SOLAR COULD CUT COSTS
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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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  • Monday, October 01, 2012

    QUICK NEWS, October 1: GOOGLING WIND; THE YEAR SUN TRANSITIONED; CARS ON LPG

    GOOGLING WIND Google signs wind-power agreement with Oklahoma's Grand River Dam Authority; The search-engine giant will buy some of the wind energy from GRDA's interest in a wind farm under development in central Oklahoma.

    Paul Moine, September 27, 2012 (The Oklahoman)

    “Search-engine giant Google Inc. has signed an agreement with the Grand River Dam Authority to buy electricity from a wind farm under construction in Canadian County…Google will buy up to 48 megawatts of wind power from GRDA's interest in the Canadian Hills wind farm [bringing the total amount of renewable energy for which Google has contracted to over 260 megawatts]…

    “…The 300-megawatt wind farm is expected to be complete by the end of the year and will be Oklahoma's largest wind farm with 135 turbines…Google will use the electricity to operate its data center in Pryor in northeastern Oklahoma. The data center began operations in 2011…”

    “Google last year signed a deal with NextEra Energy Resources to buy electricity directly from NextEra's Minco II Wind Energy Center in Grady and Caddo counties…With the expansion of cloud computing, data centers have become large consumers of electricity…

    “…The Electric Power Research Institute estimates electricity use by data centers doubled from 2006 to 2011. Data centers now consume about 3 percent of the nation's electricity…Google said it uses renewable energy for about 30 percent of its worldwide data center electricity. The company can't use renewable energy around the clock because data centers need to be operational 24 hours a day…”

    THE SUN TRANSITION 2012: Transitioning to the Next Phase of PV Industry Development

    Michael barker, September 28, 2012 (SolarBuzz)

    “Spurred by lower than expected second-half demand, most major PV module manufacturers lowered shipment guidance in the most recent round of quarterly earnings calls [from 30% growth]…[I]n late Q3’12] it appears…European markets in total have declined throughout the year. This fact has led manufacturers to…[lower] industry expectations by half.

    “Along with changing seasonal demand profiles, lower Y/Y growth – less than 10% in 2012 compared to 42% in 2011 – has combined with the continued oversupply situation to make 2012 a difficult year for manufacturers. The oversupply persists despite an initial wave of liquidations, primarily Western firms…[I]t is now being felt by Chinese manufacturers…[It]is likely to hit tier 2 and 3 – and maybe even a few tier 1 – Chinese manufacturers.”

    “…Current projections show an industry stabilization period beginning in the next 4-8 quarters. The time period is indefinite as, until now, many of the tertiary production players have enjoyed benign financing sources. As such they could continue to live on ‘borrowed time’ or could fall out more quickly per the decisions of financiers.

    “…[As this happens,] there will be less pressure on ASPs, and the task will fall to the remaining players to use any breathing room to refocus efforts on cost reduction…[and] margin recovery. This period of industry change could lead to a market in which there are significantly fewer players, each of whom may have a larger market share. The task at the moment for firms that have the capability is to survive…”

    CARS ON LPG Propane Autogas Vehicles; Liquefied Petroleum Gas Vehicle Availability, LPG Refueling Infrastructure, Engine Technology, and Fuel System Components: Market Analysis and Forecasts

    Q3 2012 (Pike Research/Navigant)

    “Autogas...[is the common term] for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) used as an automotive transport fuel…[It is] approximately 9% of the global consumption of LPG…

    “…While LPG is relatively clean-burning, easy to store and transport, has high energy content, and is widely available in many countries, supplies of natural gas have become much more abundant over the last few years as new extraction process have been developed, and natural gas now challenges autogas as an alternative vehicle fuel to gasoline and diesel.”

    “…[T]he penetration for use [of autogas] as a vehicle fuel varies widely around the world. Few countries have created a refueling infrastructure to rival that for gasoline/diesel, but in most places batch delivery is well established, making it an ideal fuel for short range fleet operations if the cost per gallon is kept low…

    “Some OEMs offer factory installation of autogas and dual-fuel systems, but only in countries where the market is mature and volumes have been steady for some years. Most conversions are done in the aftermarket. Pike Research anticipates that by 2020 there will be more than 23 million autogas vehicles operating on roads worldwide.”

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