NewEnergyNews: Wind Without Its Tax Credit: “This Bleeding Has to Stop”; Will Congress come through or will wind go off a cliff?

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: WHY THE OIL & GAS INDUSTRY BACKS AN ALL-OF-THE-ABOVE ENERGY POLICY
  • QUICK NEWS, July 22: U.S. DOE FORESEES NEW ENERGY; THE BEST CITIES FOR NEW ENERGY; ENERGY STORAGE TO BE $50BIL MRKT
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: THE COST OF ADDING SOLAR TO A UTILITY’S OPERATIONS
  • QUICK NEWS, 7-21: U.S. WIND, SOLAR TO GROW THROUGH 2020; NEW GEOTHERMAL RISING; CHINESE HAVE RIGHTS IN OREGON WIND BUY
  • -------------------

    GET THE DAILY HEADLINES EMAIL: CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR SEND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

    -------------------

    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • Weekend Video: Colbert Gets Into Coal Rolling
  • Weekend Video: How Solar Power Plants Store And Use Solar Energy
  • Weekend Video: A Story About People And Wind Energy
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE CLIMATE CHANGED WORLD IS NOW 5 TIMES MORE DANGEROUS
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE MONEY IN SOLAR, Q2 2014
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-EU STILL GROWING OCEAN WIND
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-$109MIL FROM GERMAN BANK BACKS KENYA GEOTHERMAL
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, July 17:

  • TTTA Thursday-THE PREMATURE EVACUATION FROM CLIMATE CHANGE EXCITEMENT
  • TTTA Thursday-NEW ENERGY TO SUSTAIN BIG GROWTH – EIA
  • TTTA Thursday-SOLAR’S COST TO UTILITIES
  • TTTA Thursday-HOW UTILITIES CAN EVOLVE IN A NEW ENERGY WORLD
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • THE STUDY: HOW TO PROTECT A CAP AND TRADE PROGRAM
  • QUICK NEWS, July 16: 88% OF NEW U.S. POWER IN MAY WAS NEW ENERGY; THE FIGHT FOR WIND IN OHIO; U.S. CRITICAL SYSTEMS REGULARLY BREACHED
  • --------------------------

    --------------------------

    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.

    -------------------

    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

    -------------------

    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

    -------------------

    Your intrepid reporter

    -------------------

      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

    -------------------

    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

  • ---------------
  • Tuesday, October 23, 2012

    Wind Without Its Tax Credit: “This Bleeding Has to Stop”; Will Congress come through or will wind go off a cliff?

    Editors note: Since this piece was written, an estimated 10,000 layoffs have been announced in the wind industry. Projects have been cancelled, plants have been closed and supply chain companies have moved to other sectors. Most industry watchers consider 2013 to be lost. But most also expect some legislative action after November 6 that could get the industry back on track by 2014. Wind Without Its Tax Credit: “This Bleeding Has to Stop”; Will Congress come through or will wind go off a cliff?

    Herman K. Trabish, June 6, 2012 (Greentech Media)

    The wind industry could be celebrating. The Department of Commerce (DOC) decided to protect it by moving ahead on an investigation of allegations against China for dumping and unfair pricing on turbine towers. But major players, gathered here in Atlanta at the industry’s big annual conclave, showed little inclination to rejoice.

    Their celebratory mood is compromised by Congress’ unwillingness to extend the industry’s 2.2 cent per kilowatt-hour production tax credit (PTC).

    “People aren’t going to build towers in the U.S., because without the PTC, nobody is going to put the farm up,” an independent tower maker recently opined to GTM. Orders, he said, have stopped coming into his shop. “It’s really great that they’ve put the tariff on to keep theChinese and Vietnamese [firms] out of here, but unfortunately, there probably isn’t going to be much of a wind business in the United States until the PTC passes.”

    Wind watchers have seen this moment coming since the 2010 election. Congress once regarded renewables -- and wind in particular -- as bipartisan. That ended soon afterwards.

    The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the wind industry trade organization, has been working for more than a year to turn the political tide. But Congress has done little since early in this election year, and those on the Atlanta convention floor at AWEA’s WINDPOWER 2012 don’t really expect that to change until after November. By then, it will be too late to save 2013 for project builders whose turbines are heavy manufacturing and whose developments require eighteen-month lead times.

    As several CEOs observed in private conversations, it is truly strange for a conservative Congress to allow to this to happen because there are 30,000 manufacturing jobs at stake. Ted Turner, speaking at the convention’s opening session, recounted his experience founding CNN. The big three networks first laughed at him, he remembered, then ignored him, then tried to keep him off the air and then lobbied to put him out of business. But, he said, the idea of a news network was too powerful to stop -- and so is the idea of clean, renewable energy. “I’ve never seen anything clearer,” he said, “than the case for wind and solar.”

    The wind industry, he said, is just reaching the point where its competitors are being forced to take notice. “That’s when it starts to get hard,” he said, “but that’s also when it starts to get to be fun.”

    Noting that 500 U.S. manufacturing facilities and 30,000 manufacturing jobs are in jeopardy, AWEA CEO Denise Bode said wind is no longer a mere alternative energy and “is only going to get more and more attractive.”

    Republican Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, Democratic Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe and Obama administration energy advisor Heather Zichal all spoke and called for the PTC’s extension. But the substance of their remarks was overshadowed by their very presence. It testified to the bipartisan and state-federal agreement on the issue.

    In welcoming Microsoft, Hewlett Packard and Sprint to the industry’s Pass the PTC coalition, Bode noted the incentive “has the highest level of bipartisan support of any U.S. energy policy” and demanded that Congress save the wind industry by extending it. “This bleeding has to stop.” Bode also vowed to fight on and quoted Winston Churchill from World War II’s dark, early days. “It’s the courage to continue that counts.”

    The most likely scenario is, insiders say, the PTC will be renewed in a lame duck session tax extenders package after the presidential election. A best-case scenario sees it being a two-year extension. Another one year extension could be as bad as no extension at all because getting a turbine from order to erection takes at least eighteen months.

    The big players are making plans to play outside the United States. GE announced turbine deals in Turkey, Brazil and Canada. Suzlon, which manufactures in India and could be a big beneficiary of the DOC decision against Chinese imports, unveiled a new, low-wind-regime turbine.

    There is also some buzz around a pair of potential substitute incentives floated in a recent New York Times op-ed piece

    Both the real estate investment trusts (REIT) and master limited partnerships (MLPs) can be publicly traded and give investors an ownership interest, and thus could potentially leverage more private investment than the tax equity that flows to wind through the PTC. But getting the IRS and Congress to make renewables projects eligible for REIT and MLP financing is a potentially challenging political undertaking.

    As a policy analyst confided, “You might be able to explain them to a Senator in six years, but getting them across to a Congressman in only two years? No.”

    0 Comments:

    Post a Comment

    << Home

    *