NewEnergyNews: WINDPOWER 2012: It’s a Wrap; News and innovation came from GE Energy, ABB and Ventyx, Goldwind USA, and AMSC v. Sinovel.

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: IMPORTS, EXPORTS AND NEW ENERGY
  • QUICK NEWS, August 20: COURTS DISMISS 98% OF WIND HEALTH COMPLAINTS; TURNING OLD CAR BATTERIES INTO NEW SOLAR PANELS; OCEAN ENERGY PIONEERS
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: CLIMATE CHANGE IN AFRICA
  • QUICK NEWS, August 19: LOW-PRICED WIND ENERGY ATTRACTS UTILITIES; TEXAS SUBURBS BLOCK SOLAR; WHAT UTILITY CUSTOMERS WANT
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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: THE THREATS TO OLD ENERGIES AROUND THE WORLD
  • QUICK NEWS, August 18: GERMANY UPS GRID STABILITY WITH NEW ENERGY ; U.S. SOLAR MANUFACTURING TO RISE; TEXAS LEADS U.S. WIND BOOM
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • Weekend Video: Buy Or Lease Rooftop Solar?
  • Weekend Video: The Sound Of The Wind
  • Weekend Video: Why Energy Efficiency?
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-CLIMATE CHANGE IN CHINA
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-RUSSIA-CAPTURED CRIMEA DIALS DOWN NEW ENERGY
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-A NEW LOOK AT THE WORLD’S OCEAN ENERGIES
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-WORLD BANK PLEDGES $5BIL FOR AFRICA NEW ENERGY
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, August 14:

  • TTTA Thursday-KELLOGG CALLS FOR LOW CARBON CORN FLAKES
  • TTTA Thursday-SIERRA CLUB HAILS WIND CHAMPIONS IN CONGRESS
  • TTTA Thursday-THE BOOM IN SOLAR CARPORTS
  • TTTA Thursday-EV BATTERIES GET SECOND LIFE
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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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    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

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  • Thursday, October 25, 2012

    WINDPOWER 2012: It’s a Wrap; News and innovation came from GE Energy, ABB and Ventyx, Goldwind USA, and AMSC v. Sinovel.

    WINDPOWER 2012: It’s a Wrap; News and innovation came from GE Energy, ABB and Ventyx, Goldwind USA, and AMSC v. Sinovel.

    Herman K. Trabish, June 8, 2012 (Greentech Media)

    GE Energy announced deals totaling 1.8 gigawatts for its newest workhorse, a 1.6-megawatt turbine, representing $3.6 billion in agreements. GE, the leading U.S. wind maker, expects to have at least 1,500 of the turbines installed by the end of 2013 in locations as disparate as Turkey, Brazil and North America.

    GE also announced two other deals involving the 1.6-megawatt turbine. In one, six of them, along with two GE 1.5-megawatt turbines, will go to a 180-member citizen group in southwestern Iowa for a 12.6-megawatt community wind installation. In the second deal, DTE Energy, the major Michigan utility, will purchase 137 of the 1.6-megawatt turbines for installations at two locations that will total 220 megawatts of wind power capacity.

    GE Energy’s high-tech operations and maintenance (O&M) services also previewed a refined version of its cutting-edge production-based O&M contract that promises owner-operators “if you don’t produce, you don’t pay.”

    These moves show how the unwillingness of the current Congress to extend the wind industry's vital production tax credit (PTC) threatens GE Energy as much as the rest of the industry. Clearly, it is 1) looking to overseas markets, 2) looking to niche markets, and 3) preparing to nurture what is in place until a political atmosphere more favorable to domestic growth comes back around.

    There was a steady stream of gawkers at Goldwind USA’s booth. Visitors could walk into a nacelle (the bus-sized box at the top of the turbine tower) and get an inside look at Goldwind's advanced direct drive system (the part of the machine that translates mechanical energy to electricity) and the company's newly redesigned rotor (the part at the front of the nacelle where the blades attach). Goldwind USA is a subsidiary of Goldwind China, the second biggest wind turbine manufacturer in the world. The U.S. division announced a small but important deal with All Earth Renewables to build four of its newly developed 2.5-megawatt turbines in Vermont. They represent the first U.S. test of the permanent magnet direct direct (PMDD) technology Goldwind upgraded when it went from a 1.5-megawatt design to the larger turbine.

    A Goldwind USA official noted that while its parent company’s reach gives it options, the loss of the PTC is going to make it more difficult to continue sourcing the bulk of its supply chain domestically if U.S. suppliers are forced out of business by a PTC-loss-driven industry downturn.

    Multinational power technology provider ABB highlighted a range of services it can now provide at the junction of operations technology (OT) and information technology (IT) through Ventyx, its recently acquired IT partner. Ventyx, which previously served utilities’ needs for forecasting of load and resources, siting, and valuation and integration of renewables, added a dimension of intelligence to ABB’s hardware that is expected to lead to a smarter grid more capable of including more wind and other renewables.

    ABB also showed off its EcoDry transformers, BioTemp transformers, and Green-R-Pad distribution transformers, a range electronics hardware that offers wind builders the choice of lower water use and more environmentally friendly fluids and materials.

    American Superconductor (AMSC) announced it had followed its recent deal with Indian turbine maker Inox for 50 two-megawatt-capable electrical control systems with a pair of non-business victories that could profoundly affect its business.

    In one, AMSC secured exclusive rights to second-generation high temperature superconductor (HTS) materials that AMSC has already placed globally in transmission and distribution systems, wind turbines and other big motors.

    AMSC also got a favorable decision from China’s Supreme People’s Court on its appeal of the smallest of the five legal actions it is pursuing against Sinovel, China’s biggest wind turbine manufacturer. The appeal represents only $200,000 of the $1.2 billion being contested, confided an AMSC executive, but the decision is important.

    By granting the appeal, the Chinese court demonstrated an objectivity AMSC will need. Emails seem to prove that Sinovel proffered remuneration to a former AMSC employee for proprietary intellectual property (IP), received the stolen IP, and transferred it for use to a third party. A court in Austria, where the crime was committed, accepted the employee’s guilty plea and imprisoned him. The question is -- and the entire business world awaits the answer -- can AMSC, a Massachusetts company, get justice in Chinese courts?

    At the Sinovel booth, GTM was told Sinovel respects both the U.S. and Chinese legal processes and will await the final verdict.

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