NewEnergyNews: TODAY’S STUDY: COUNTING THE JOBS IN WIND

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 JOBS BONANZA IN INDIA SOLAR
  • QUICK NEWS, Sept. 30: NAT GAS, SOLAR, WIND LEAD 1H 2014 NEW BUILD; COOLER PANELS COULD HEAT UP SOLAR; OFFSHORE WIND, PROMISE AND POLITICS">
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: ADDING UP THE CLIMATE CHANGE NUMBERS
  • QUICK NEWS, Sept. 29: PRES SAYS YES TO CLIMATE ACTION, SENATE STUCK; FLAWED NEW PLAN FOR NEW ENERGY IN CALIF; SOLAR PANELS GET BETTER
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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • Weekend Video: Obama On Climate Change At The UN
  • Weekend Video: Jon Stewart Heats Up Over Climate Change
  • Weekend Video: Colbert Asks If “This Changes Everything”
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-HIGH WATER RISING – EVERYWHERE
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-MOROCCO WIND BOOM COMING
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-INDIA BOOSTS ITS SOLAR BUILD
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-ABU DHABI BUYS A PIECE OF NORWAY’S STAKE IN UK OFFSHORE WIND
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, Sept. 25:

  • TTTA Thursday-THE PRIVATE SECTOR FACES CLIMATE CHANGE
  • TTTA Thursday-SOLAR WILL POWER SCHOOLS, EARN MONEY FOR TEACHERS
  • TTTA Thursday-A RIDE IN TOMORROW’S CAR
  • TTTA Thursday-A LOOK AT SEE-THROUGH SOLAR
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • THE STUDY: FREEING THE NATIONAL TREASURE IN U.S. NATIONAL LABS
  • QUICK NEWS, Sept. 24: ROCKEFELLERS DIVEST OIL FOR NEW ENERGY; BOLD $8BIL WIND BUILD-TRANSMIT-STORE PROJECT; CALIF TARGETS 1.5MIL 0-EMISSIONS CARS BY 2024
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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 08, 2012

    TODAY’S STUDY: COUNTING THE JOBS IN WIND

    American Wind Farms: Breaking Down the Benefits from Planning to Production

    Phil Jordan, Cai Steger, et. al., September 2012 (National Resources Defense Council)

    Introduction

    Stand underneath a wind turbine and it’s easy to be awestruck. Above you is a structure as tall as a 30-story building, with turbines as large as a football field and blades rotating at more than 200 mph on the tips. It is an impressive example of energy innovation, and yet one of these mammoth wind towers provides clean, renewable energy by a simple mechanical feat— the spinning turbines turn a generator that provides power for hundreds of homes.

    Wind works. Over the past four decades, wind has provided an increasing amount of the energy we use. Today, wind farms generate about 50,000 megawatts of clean, renewable energy—the equivalent of the energy produced by 12 Hoover Dams.

    As this report illustrates, clean, renewable energy is just the start of what we get from growing the number of wind farms across the country.1 The wind industry now employs 75,000 Americans. U.S. companies and their workers produce approximately 65 percent of every wind turbine part.2

    And yet all of this growth and increased employment could be stopped in its tracks if Congress allows an important wind energy incentive, the Production Tax Credit (PTC), to expire. If instead Congress acts to continue the PTC, the wind industry can continue its impressive success story. The amount of wind energy generated by U.S. wind farms has nearly tripled in the past four years, and wind power has represented at least one-third of all new power added in America over the last five years.3 In fact, estimates show America could get 20 percent of its electricity from wind by 2030—about as much as we get from nuclear energy.4

    To help show what is at stake, the following analysis details just how many jobs—and what variety—flow from a typical wind project. It is time to dispel the myths about wind and recognize the enormous value it provides to the health of our communities and the strength of our economy. Pulling the rug out from under wind now by not extending the PTC would cost jobs today and sacrifice future good, domestic jobs for many Americans across multiple economic sectors.

    THE JOB-CREATING POTENTIAL OF WIND ENERGY

    This report shows that workers contributing to wind energy include everyone from engineers to construction employees; from blade manufacturers to gearbox makers; from electricians to operators. And they’re located all across the country.

    Our research finds that just one typical wind farm of 250- MW creates 1,079 direct jobs over the lifetime of the project.5 Already 25 projects of similar or greater size have been built in the United States and another 100 wind projects sized from 150-MW to 250-MW are in operation.

    Importantly, these jobs aren’t only created on the actual wind farm site during the installation of the wind turbines. These jobs are also created throughout the sizable wind farm economic “ecosystem”—the chain of activities and businesses that, over time, constitute the many steps of building a wind farm.

    To accurately measure how many direct jobs are created (excluding indirect and induced jobs), our analysis looks across the entirety of this wind farm value chain, from the measurement of wind resources at the early stages, to the project’s permitting and financing, to the manufacture of the components and materials that comprise the wind turbines, to the construction of this wind power project, and finally, its annual operations and maintenance. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s National Wind Technology Center, there are 14 key value chain activities that contribute to the production of wind power (NREL also identifies education, training, and outreach organizations, which are not included in this analysis).6 We analyze each of the 14 steps independently to determine the number of workers involved at each step in the building of a simulated 250-MW wind farm.

    The research identifies 557 total non-construction workers for a 250-MW wind farm. This includes 80 in preplanning and development, 432 workers in manufacturing, 18 in sales and distribution, and 27 in operations and maintenance.

    Construction jobs add 522 jobs to the overall project. These workers are spread among three categories, with 273 working on on-site civil works, such as roads, and foundations; 202 working on mechanical assembly, such as the installation of the wind turbines; and 47 working on on site electrical work, such as grid connection.

    Our analysis also confirmed that a large number of manufacturing jobs are created throughout the supply chain for a wind farm, and a growing number of the jobs are being filled by American workers.7 For example, the domestic content of wind turbines (the fraction of wind farm equipment sourced in America, as measured by cost) has essentially doubled in the last six years, from 35 percent in 2005-2006 to 67 percent in 2011.8 A recent Accenture report highlighted that companies are more and more focused on manufacturing near demand centers.9 In the wind industry, this dynamic is potentially even more apparent, given the size and complexity of wind turbines and therefore the advantageousness of local production for transport reasons. This report has specifically chosen to profile either American companies or foreign companies with a strong domestic presence, to highlight that all of the jobs created from U.S. wind farm development can be located in America.

    COMPANIES AND COMMUNITIES ALSO BENEFIT FROM WIND POWER

    In addition to jobs, wind projects boost revenues and create new markets for a wide range of companies across many different industries. Each of the 14 steps in building a wind farm outlined in this report represent new opportunities for dozens of companies across many different cities and states. In this report, we identify a number of companies that are already part of the wind supply chain and realizing these opportunities, including: Michigan-based Ventower which manufactures and supplies the steel towers for wind farms; Danotek Motion Technologies, supplying the wind industry with generators and power converters; and Maine-based Reed & Reed, a contractor that can provide a full-set of mechanical, civil, structural, and electrical work to construct wind farms, among many others.

    Moreover, wind power projects offers significant benefits to entire communities where these projects are built—from new earnings opportunities for farmers and landowners to additional tax revenues and lease payments that support other community priorities, such as better education, infrastructure, and economic development. This report excerpts a separate NRDC report that highlights four case studies of communities benefiting from wind power.

    Unfortunately, misconceptions about the viability of wind power downplay the strong economic and employment benefits of wind power, and ignore the continued innovation in this sector. This report is ultimately an exercise in telling the story of one large wind farm—showing the full economic impact—to demonstrate the impressive value created by these projects, to highlight the opportunities for American companies, communities, and workers, and to caution what is at risk if we don’t continue to invest in these renewable technologies.

    Across America, the U.S. wind industry is exceeding expectations. This report offers a snapshot of this emerging trend, and points the way forward for a clean energy future. We must continue this momentum, by promoting strong energy policies, beginning with an extension of the Production Tax Credit for wind energy, a crucial step towards building a strong, sustainable, market-leading U.S. wind industry…

    CONCLUSION: WIND ENERGY WORKS FOR AMERICA

    Wind farms of this size and impact have already been built throughout the United States. There are about 120 large-scale wind farms located across the country (including 25 wind projects larger than 250 megawatts and 94 additional utility-scale wind projects between 150 and 250 megawatts). Across America, the benefits of wind energy can reach companies, workers, and communities—provided we build on the growth of the past few years.However, to do so, the American wind industry (and other renewable energy sectors) needs long-term, stable federal and state energy policies. With the right policies in place, the renewable energy industry can deliver cheaper, more advanced clean energy technologies that grow our economy, clean up on our air and water, and position America strongly as a leader in the global clean energy industry. One first order of business should be for Congress to extend the Production Tax Credit. Set to expire at the end of this year, the PTC has played a significant role in growing our American wind industry. Letting it expire would hurt the progress we have made in expanding clean, renewable wind power and put American companies and as many as 37,000 workers at risk.28 (For other recommendations from NRDC, see NRDC Policy Recommendations on page 31).

    CREATING JOBS ACROSS AMERICA

    Ultimately, while the rapidly spinning turbines of a wind farm are a powerful demonstration of American can-do spirit and ingenuity, wind energy represents much more than that. As the companies profiled in this report show, creating wind energy builds an entire supply chain of innovative American firms, investors, and entrepreneurs. Along the way, American workers can take part in every aspect of this new value chain: scientists measuring wind, farmers leasing their land, engineers laying out wind farms, steelworkers building towers, construction workers assembling components, electricians connecting turbines to the grid, and many other jobs that are difficult or impossible to outsource.

    And in wind-energy-connected communities throughout the country, residents can see royalty checks and leasing revenue, local elected officials can use the increased tax revenue for economic development and school improvements, and local job seekers have more options for work. This country has made powerful strides in the past few years to take advantage of natural, clean, homegrown, renewable energy resources like wind and solar power. It is vital that our government help maintain this momentum. We cannot let this opportunity go to waste.

    NRDC POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS: STRENGTHENING ENERGY POLICIES TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF AMERICAN WIND POWER

    NRDC proposes the following policy recommendations to support U.S. renewable power technologies, such as wind, solar, and geothermal energy.

    The inclusion of any company within this document is not a statement of support by those companies for any of the opinions or recommendation contained herein.

    IMMEDIATE NEEDS…Extend the Production Tax Credit (PTC) to Bring Down Costs and Drive Innovation…Use Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs) and Other Policies to Promote Clean Energy Investment …

    NEAR-TERM…Set Standards to Further Increase Demand for Renewable Energy…Establish Carbon Standards That Level the Playing Field for Renewables…Facilitate Construction of Well-Sited Transmission Lines…Site Wind Energy to Mitigate Environmental Impacts…

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