NewEnergyNews: QUICK NEWS, October 8: NEW ENERGY IN THE FIRST DEBATE; WYOMING PERMITS 1,000 TURBINE WIND PROJECT; THREE PRINCIPLES FOR A SECURE SMART GRID

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, Oct. 23:

  • TTTA Thursday-EVANGELICALS IN ‘CREATION CARE’ CLIMATE FIGHT
  • TTTA Thursday-ADVANCED WIND-MAKERS MAKANI, SHEERWIND READY DEMOS
  • TTTA Thursday-TEA PARTY BACKS SOLAR, ATTACKS UTILITY MONOPOLIES
  • TTTA Thursday-WHAT DRIVERS DON’T KNOW HOLDS BACK THE FUTURE
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: THE IMPACT ON REAL PEOPLE OF RISING POWER PRICES
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 22: SCHOOLS SAVE W/GEOTHERMAL HEAT PUMP SYSTEMS; BUILDING FOR NEXT-GEN U.S. BIOFUELS; ENERGY STORAGE MARKET EMERGING
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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: WHERE U.S. OFFSHORE WIND WILL CONNECT
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 21: SOLARCITY TO CROWDFUND WITH $1,000 BONDS; NEW JERSEY LOOKS AT OCEAN WIND; SMART LED LIGHTING MRKT TO DOUBLE
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: NEW OPPORTUNITIES IN TRANSMISSION
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 20: ELEVEN GOOD THINGS ABOUT SOLAR ENERGY; YAHOO BUYS WIND; SMART THERMOSTATS’ BILLION DOLLAR FUTURE
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • Weekend Video: The Ocean Speaks Out
  • Weekend Video: Adapting To The Inevitable
  • Weekend Video: The Joy Of Driving EVs Powered By The Sun
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-HOTTEST SEPTEMBER EVER; WORLD’S HOTTEST MONTHS STREAK AT SIX
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-EU WIND BEATS FOSSIL, NUKE ENERGY PRICES
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-DESERTEC SUCCUMBS TO MIDEAST TURMOIL
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-JAPAN UPS PUSH FOR GEOTHERMAL
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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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  • Monday, October 08, 2012

    QUICK NEWS, October 8: NEW ENERGY IN THE FIRST DEBATE; WYOMING PERMITS 1,000 TURBINE WIND PROJECT; THREE PRINCIPLES FOR A SECURE SMART GRID

    NEW ENERGY IN THE FIRST DEBATE Presidential Candidates Talk Solyndra, Energy Investment During First Debate

    4 October 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “Renewable energy was given little attention during the first televised debate between Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama…But Solyndra - the failed thin-film PV manufacturer that has become synonymous with what critics believe are misguided investments in solar by the Obama administration - received a specific mention from Romney…

    “…[T]he two sparred over the topic of subsidies and incentives for both renewable energy and fossil fuels…Following Romney's comments, Obama did not directly defend his administration's investments in renewable energy, though he had reiterated his support of solar during an earlier debate statement…In response, Romney stated that the levels of oil and gas production have risen in spite of Obama's policies, which he characterized as unfriendly to producers of these energy sources…”

    “Solyndra indirectly came up once again during the debate's final moments, when Romney stated that ‘about half’ of the renewable energy companies receiving government funding have failed…

    “…[C]ongressional investigations over the past year have focused on whether Solyndra's Department of Energy loan guarantee was improperly received due to the involvement of Obama campaign donor George Kaiser, whose foundation held a stake in Solyndra. The Republican leadership of the House of Representatives…has repeatedly insisted that laws were broken - assertions that have been disputed by Democratic lawmakers…”

    WYOMING PERMITS 1,000 TURBINE WIND PROJECT County OKs 1,000-turbine wind farm in Wyoming

    Jeremy Fugleberg, October 4, 2012 (Casper Star-Tribune)

    “Carbon County officials have [unanimously] approved a…conditional use permit for the [1,000-turbine] Chokecherry and Sierra Madre wind energy project, which would be the largest wind farm in the country…The 2,000-3,000-megawatt project’s developer, Power Co. Of Wyoming, must now bring the massive wind farm before the Industrial Siting Council, a state board that reviews large industrial projects [and that permit will be filed for in November]…Construction on the project [is expected to begin] in 2013…

    “…The project already has all necessary federal permits in hand…[There was opposition from those concerned] the project would harm wildlife and hinder the views across the county’s vistas…[that was answered by the company’s] work to study birds in the project area and its willingness to answer any questions thrown its way…things sometimes not shown by other wind project developers…”

    “…[Two commissioners] said they’re not overly happy about wind turbines dotting the horizon and they’re ideologically opposed to wind energy. But neither could turn down a project that met the rules for approval and will bring jobs and money to the county…[One] described renewable energy projects such as wind farms as an unstoppable federal government-driven freight train barreling down the tracks…[He said commissioners could] either get run over, or put your hand on the switch to direct the train…

    “Power Co. of Wyoming representatives say the county would get between $445 million and $562 million through various taxes over the 20-year life of the project…The project would also require 300 to 400 employees during the first two year’s of construction, 1,000 to 1,200 jobs over the following three years and 114 long-term jobs…”

    THREE PRINCIPLES FOR A SECURE SMART GRID Cybersecurity And The Smart Grid: Detecting And Thwarting Attacks

    3 October 2012 (Renew Grid)

    “Over the last few years, the smart grid has created both real concerns and dramatized fears about cybersecurity weaknesses and the risk of potential attacks…[T]here are a few guiding principles that can help in the analysis of these potential attacks and even prevent them.

    “Guiding principle #1: Assume that any security system can be breached, and plan ahead for breaches, in order to ensure that a successful attack is detected, localized and compartmentalized. Following this principle lowers the value and likelihood of an attack.”

    “Guiding principle #2: Understand and manage the attack surface, which is the virtual avenue of attack. Some attacks are relatively simple and require minimal training to mount. The system must anticipate and counter these simple attacks…Other[s] require expert cryptologists and super computers…If the reward of a successful attack at this surface does not yield a proportionate benefit [to the needed resources], the likelihood of this attack is reduced.

    “Guiding principle #3: Use standard security protocols and best practices that have been applied in IT systems that have been - and continue to be - attacked…[If] known access control, authentication and encryption techniques…have been attacked (and revised when an attack was successful), it makes them generally stronger than a proprietary technique that has not been subjected to relentless attacks…If the industry follows…[these] guiding principles, smart meters can provide a more reliable, theft-resistant and attack-resistant grid than what is currently in place…”

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