NewEnergyNews: QUICK NEWS, October 22: THE WHIRLING WIND; THE EMERGING SOLAR INDUSTRY; FOR A GREENER HALLOWEEN

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

  • THE STUDY: THE BENEFITS OF PUMPED HYDRO STORAGE CALCULATED
  • QUICK NEWS, Sept. 16: THE ENERGY TRANSITION TAKES SHAPE; A LABOR-ENVIRO CALL FOR NEW ENERGY, NEW WIRES; ADVANCES IN WATER POWER
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: RENEWABLES IN THE COMING ARAB WORLD
  • QUICK NEWS, Sept. 15: SOLAR SUCCEEDING ON PRICE; EVEN MORE WIND THAT HONDA EXPECTED; THE HUGE UNRECOGNIZED BENEFITS OF EFFICIENCY
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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • Weekend Video: Climate Change For The Birds
  • Weekend Video: The Evidence Mounts
  • Weekend Video: Colbert On Birds And Climate Change
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-NOW CO2 TOO HIGH FOR PLANTS AND OCEANS TO ABSORB
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-NEW ENERGY IS THE WORLD’S BEST OPTION
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-SWEDEN WINNING SCANDINAVIAN WIND RACE
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-INDIA DISPLAYS SOLAR'S VERSATILITY
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, Sept. 11:

  • TTTA Thursday-GETTING GREEN BY MIXING RED AND BLUE
  • TTTA Thursday-PRICEWATERHOUSE COOPERS’ CLIMATE CHANGE NUMBERS
  • TTTA Thursday-THE RACE FOR EV DOMINANCE
  • TTTA Thursday-THE BIG FUTURE FOR ZERO ENERGY BUILDINGS
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • THE STUDY: THE 2013 U.S. DISTRIBUTED WIND MARKET
  • QUICK NEWS, Sept. 10: A WAY TO INVEST IN WIND ENERGY; SOLAR POWER TOWERS GET SAFER; TEST COMING FOR GIANT TURBINE BLADE
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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 22, 2012

    QUICK NEWS, October 22: THE WHIRLING WIND; THE EMERGING SOLAR INDUSTRY; FOR A GREENER HALLOWEEN

    THE WHIRLING WIND Success of tax credit and new more affordable U.S.-built technology helping drive strongest year yet for U.S. wind energy

    October 18, 2012 (American Wind Energy Association)

    “The success of the federal Production Tax Credit and wind energy’s increased affordability are helping drive turbine installations to record levels in America…[according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) Q3 report]...The U.S. wind industry in August for the first time surpassed 50,000 megawatts (MW) of total installed electrical generation capacity…[and] has added 4,728 MW of wind power so far this year…with another 8,430 MW currently under construction.

    “Factors for the strong year…[include, 1] Greatly expanded U.S. manufacturing, which now makes up to nearly 70 percent of the value of U.S.-installed equipment, cutting transportation costs…[2] Technological advances, such as higher towers and longer blades, which make turbines more efficient and further drive down costs…[3] The fact that more electric utilities are locking in 20- to 25-year contracts for lower-priced wind power, to the benefit of their consumers…[and, 4] The federal Production Tax Credit for renewable energy, which has been kept continuously in place since 2005 and currently extends to the end of the year…”

    “The PTC incentivizes over $15 billion a year in private [wind] investment…[but expires] Dec. 31. A proposal to extend the tax credit for projects that start construction next year won bipartisan support from the Senate Finance Committee on Aug. 2, as part of an overall ‘tax extenders’ package. It now awaits action by the full Congress, expected in its lame duck session after the election…Navigant Consulting has forecast [37,000 jobs lost] if the PTC is not extended. Thousands of layoffs have already begun in wind energy measurement, development, and U.S. manufacturing, even as the construction sector remains busy…

    “The third quarter saw 1,833 MW of new installations, putting total U.S. wind capacity at 51,628 MW on Oct. 1. Over 40,000 wind turbines across the U.S. [now produce electricity]…The year-to-date total stood at 4,728 MW at the end of the quarter, up 40 percent from the same point in 2011. The average turbine size installed throughout the year continues to hover around 2.0 MW…Over 80 percent of the new capacity coming online or under construction is covered by a long-term power offtake agreement [involving 68 utilities], either through a power purchase agreement between a utility and a wind developer, or through direct utility ownership…”

    THE EMERGING SOLAR INDUSTRY The Solar Industry’s Living Dead: 180 Module Manufacturers to Succumb to Consolidation by 2015; What does the future hold for struggling U.S., European, and Asian manufacturers, as well as China’s solar zombies?

    October 16, 2012 (Greentech Media)

    “With GTM Research estimating global PV supply to be in excess of demand by an average of 35 gigawatts per year over the next three years, 180 existing module manufacturers will either expire or acquiesce to acquisition by 2015. The largest number (88) of casualties will exit high-cost manufacturing markets in the U.S., Europe, and Canada."

    “…[ Global PV Module Manufacturing 2013: Competitive Positioning, Consolidation and the China Factor analyzes] more than 300 module manufacturers, their global facilities, business models, financial health and chance of acquisition or expiry. The report also examines the market conditions and competitive metrics that will affect the trajectory of these firms over the next three years, including global demand, manufacturing costs, the influence of Chinese lenders, and the innovative upstream and downstream strategies that will buoy business lines…[It also considers Chinese module manufacturers’ strategies] in the face of U.S. and potentially European import tariffs…

    “The report estimates that 54 of the 180 ill-fated firms will come from China. Most of these are so-called ‘solar zombies,’ companies with manufacturing capacities less than 300 megawatts that have operated uncompetitively with support from the government. China’s number of ill-fated firms could be much higher if not for an aggressive downstream build-out that will prop up select domestic suppliers. China’s recent announcement to increase its cumulative 2015 solar target from 15 gigawatts to 21 gigawatts will most likely provide captive demand for firms such as Alex Solar, LDK Solar, and Astronergy."

    “In addition, as evidenced by the municipal loan to LDK Solar in July 2012 and the China Development Bank’s renewal of its pledge to support twelve selected domestic suppliers, GTM Research anticipates that the Chinese government will continue to provide financial support to established firms with large workforces in order to cover near-term debt obligations, or possibly to encourage diversified Chinese industrial conglomerates to acquire these companies. Potential beneficiaries of these strategies include Trina Solar, Yingli Green Energy, Suntech Power, JA Solar, Jinko Solar and Renesola; these companies make up more than 20 percent of existing global module capacity.”

    FOR A GREENER HALLOWEEN Green Your Halloween

    Nina Ford, October 2012 (Green America)

    “When Corey Colwell-Lipson took her two daughters trick-or-treating in 2006…she noticed that the girls were excited whenever they had an opportunity to collect treats that weren’t conventional candy…That was the beginning of Colwell- Lipson’s quest to “green” Halloween…Today, Green Halloween® has evolved into a national movement…[Over 5,000 people participate in the World Financial Center’s annual Screamin’ Green Halloween in New York City and over 100 zoos and aquariums across the US have expressed interest]…

    “Colwell-Lipson started Green Halloween in part because of what she calls “the health epidemic and declining well-being of our children” caused by poor eating habits. One out of every three children is overweight, and the same number is expected to develop diabetes in their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)…This Halloween, Colwell-Lipson encourages families to give out healthier treats and non-food “treasures” to trick-or-treaters…”

    “Whenever Colwell-Lipson attends Green Halloween events, she brings a poster board about [recycled, natural, or sustainably sourced] alternatives to candy, from polished stones and seashells to temporary tattoos and friendship bracelets—with surprising results…For those who want to give out more traditional treats, there are many organic and all natural options—from organic and Fair Trade chocolate [without child labor ties] to sustainable chewing gum…

    “…[T]he six billion-dollar-a-year holiday leaves room to cut back. Families can save by giving out one or two healthy treats instead of handfuls of candy…[For the] 41 million children [that] go trick-or-treating nationwide…Green Halloween has spearheaded National Costume Swap Day since 2010…[Because] six out of the ten products…[contain] at least one of the toxic heavy metals…Terra Firma Cosmetics offers natural, lead-free face paint…Pink Quartz Minerals, featured on Etsy.com, has handmade, vegan face paint…[or] create homemade face paint from food-grade ingredients…”

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