NewEnergyNews: QUICK NEWS, November 12: POLITICAL GRIDLOCK COSTING GREEN JOBS; HOW THE OBAMA WIN HELPS IOWA WIND; SOLAR POWER TOWER AND TROUGHS FOR SO AFRICA

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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  • Monday, November 12, 2012

    QUICK NEWS, November 12: POLITICAL GRIDLOCK COSTING GREEN JOBS; HOW THE OBAMA WIN HELPS IOWA WIND; SOLAR POWER TOWER AND TROUGHS FOR SO AFRICA

    POLITICAL GRIDLOCK COSTING GREEN JOBS With Policy In Question, Wind Energy Jobs Plummet In Third Quarter

    9 November 2012 (North American Windpower)

    “More than 10,800 U.S. jobs in the clean energy and related sectors were announced in the third quarter, but that number represents a drastic drop from the second quarter, when 37,000 clean energy jobs were announced, and from the first quarter, when 46,000 jobs were created, according to a new report by Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2)…

    “The main factor in the marked drop was policy uncertainty, especially the looming expiration of the production tax credit (PTC) for wind energy…In the wind industry, manufacturing job announcements fell to zero in the third quarter, compared to eight announcements in the first quarter and two in the second quarter…”

    “Power generation companies announced the most clean energy jobs in the third quarter. Solar, wind and biogas companies announced 40 projects that together would create more than 6,000 jobs.

    “The E2 report also notes that clean energy job announcements have no political or regional boundaries, as 48% of the announcements were in Republican congressional districts, 46% were in Democratic districts and 6% spanned more than one congressional district…The top 10 states for green jobs in the third quarter were California, New York, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Texas, North Carolina, Minnesota, Illinois and Nevada…”

    HOW THE OBAMA WIN HELPS IOWA WIND The experts: 5 things the Obama victory means for Iowa

    November 6, 2012 (Des Moines Register)

    [Dianne Bystrom, director, Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics/Iowa State University:] “…A slowly recovering economy…Continued and expanded access to afffordable health care, especially for the uninsured, women, unemployed college graduates and senior citizens…Continuing tax credits for Iowa’s wind energy industry…An affirmation of the Iowa Supreme Court decision allowing gay civil unions…An expanded role for government…Continued gridlock in Washington, DC.”

    [Graham Gillette, public affairs consultant, Des Moines:] “…[A] continued struggle with Congress to preserve and maintain the hallmarks of his first term…[and more conciliation] with Congress as he attempts to do so…[A better economy so we will be] better in 2016 than we were in 2012…[and the possibility of] finance reform…to significantly close the floodgate of money flowing into campaigns.”

    [Steffen Schmidt, political science professor, Iowa State University:] “…Obama will buy a second home in Iowa maybe on Lake Okoboji…Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, and Obama will do a concert at the State Fair…The Obama campaign will treat all Iowan’s to free beer…When millionaire taxes are increased Iowa’s rich will move to the Cayman Islands…Wind power tax breaks will be restored.”

    [Shane Vander Hart, founder/editor in chief, Caffeinated Thoughts:] “…[S]agnation in the jobs numbers as economic uncertainty will continue…[Economic] recovery, but at a much slower pace…[and a possible tax increase] on job creators…”

    SOLAR POWER TOWER AND TROUGHS FOR SO AFRICA Abengoa’s first solar power tower outside Spain to be built in Upington

    Terence Creamer, 6 November 2012 (Engineering News)

    “Leading renewable-energy group Abengoa, of Spain…has started construction on two solar power projects in South Africa…the 50 MW Khi Solar One power-tower concentrating solar power (CSP) project…[and] a 100 MW parabolic trough CSP plant, dubbed KaXu Solar One…[Both will be] in the sun-drenched Northern Cape province…[T]he Khi Solar One plant will be only the group’s third commercial power tower and its first outside of Spain.

    “Both developments signed long-term power purchase and implementation agreements with Eskom and the Department of Energy respectively on November 5, having been named as preferred projects along with 26 other wind and solar bidders in December last year…during the first bid window of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme [which represents] an investment value of around R47-billion and wind and solar capacity of around 1 415 MW.”

    “The Abengoa projects, which are expected to be operational during 2016, are the only CSP projects selected during the first bidding phase and the documentation released following their selection indicates total costs of R11.4-billion for the development of the two projects…[Abengoa] is partnering with the State-owned Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), and will build, operate and maintain the plants – Abengoa owns 51% of the project, the IDC 29%, while black economic–empowerment entities own the 20% balance.

    “Both Khi Solar One and KaXu Solar One will employ dry-cooling technology, to reduce water consumption and will incorporate storage capacity – about two hours in the case of Khi and three hours for KaXu…[Abengoa said] the projects would reduce South Africa’s yearly carbon dioxide emissions by about 498 000 t and will create about 1 400 local construction jobs and 70 permanent operational jobs.”

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