- NewEnergyNews: QUICK NEWS, November 20: U.S ELECTRICITY USE DOWN 3.5% IN 2012; BEHIND SUN NUMBERS, 2; WIND’S INCENTIVE PHASE OUT RUMORS

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. 30:

  • TTTA Thursday-HOW TO TALK TO CLIMATE CHANGE DENIERS
  • TTTA Thursday-WIND AT STAKE IN THE ELECTION
  • TTTA Thursday-THE AESTHETICS OF SOLAR
  • TTTA Thursday-EV MRKT TO MORE THAN DOUBLE BY 2023
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: THE DIFFERENT WAYS TO MAKE THE TRANSITION TO NEW ENERGY
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 29: WIND MAY TIP KANSAS ELECTION; YOUNG VOTERS BRING NEW ENERGY; GREEN BUILDINGS BOOMING
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    GET THE DAILY HEADLINES EMAIL: CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR SEND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: THE AFFORDABILITY OF THE NEW ENERGY TRANSITION
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 28: WIND BOOMS AS ‘MOST AFFORDABLE ENERGY OPTION’; OBSTACLES AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR BIG SOLAR; GEOTHERMAL COMING BACK
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: THE HEALTH IN EMISSIONS CUTS
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 27: NEW ENERGY OVER 40% OF U.S. NEW BUILD IN 2014; EMPLOYEE BENEFITS NOW INCLUDE SOLAR; WIND BRINGS JOBS TO MICHIGAN
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • Weekend Video: Talking With The Redwoods
  • Weekend Video: Evangelicals Confront Climate Change
  • Weekend Video: Living The Platinum Rule: Making The Best Invention Of All Time Better
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE- EU UPS THE WORLD’S BAR ON EMISSIONS CUT TARGETS
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-FIRST BIG MOROCCO SOLAR NEAR POWERING UP
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-NORTH SEA WIND-HYDRO INTERLINK TO GROW
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-TURKISH GEOTHERMAL GETS INTELLIGENT
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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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  • Tuesday, November 20, 2012

    QUICK NEWS, November 20: U.S ELECTRICITY USE DOWN 3.5% IN 2012; BEHIND SUN NUMBERS, 2; WIND’S INCENTIVE PHASE OUT RUMORS

    U.S ELECTRICITY USE DOWN 3.5% IN 2012 Short-Term Energy Outlook

    November 6, 2012 (U.S. Energy Information Administration)

    “Residential sales of electricity in the United States are projected to fall by 3.5 percent in 2012…[This] reflects the mild winter temperatures in the first quarter of this year, particularly in the south where many households heat using electricity. Residential electricity sales decline by 0.5 percent in 2013 as lower electricity demand for space cooling during the summer offsets the increase in first quarter consumption.

    “…[A]t least 8.5 million customers were without power at some point as a result of Hurricane Sandy…EIA expects outages caused by Hurricane Sandy will reduce October and November total retail sales of electricity in the Mid-Atlantic region (New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania) by about 2 to 3 percent from their forecasted level absent disruptions caused by the storm…”

    “The shares of total U.S. electricity generation fueled by natural gas and coal during 2012 averaged 30.6 percent and 37.2 percent, respectively. EIA expects that prices for natural gas delivered to electric generators during 2013 will average 22 percent higher than during 2012, while the average cost of coal is just over 1 percent higher. The projected higher price of natural gas relative to coal contributes to a decline in the share of total generation fueled by natural gas 27.2 percent next year and an increase in the coal share to 40.1 percent…

    “EIA expects the nominal U.S. residential electricity price will rise by just 0.1 percent during 2012, which would be the smallest year-over-year increase in ten years. Residential prices during 2013 are projected to rise by 1.5 percent to an average of 11.98 cents per kilowatt-hour.”

    BEHIND SUN NUMBERS, 2 Delving Into The Numbers: Latest Solar Jobs Census Shows Strong Growth (continued from yesterday)

    15 November 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “The National Solar Jobs Census…[just released by The Solar Foundation (TSF)]…reveals positive growth once again in solar employment. Several of the business subsectors analyzed posted increases in their job numbers, and all indicators point to further good news in 2013…

    “[Among] the most important numbers [were]…20,000: The approximate number of new solar workers projected to be added over the next 12 months…The pace of job growth seen from 2011 to 2012 is expected to pick up even further over the next year. Based on its analysis, TSF predicts that solar-sector employment will increase by 17.2% over the next 12 months, netting approximately 20,000 additional workers…More than 44% of the solar firms that participated in the census said they expect to expand during this time.”

    “31%: The percentage of respondents who identified the decrease in system component prices as a positive factor for growth in the industry…

    “8,813: The number of solar installation companies in the U.S., according to the census…These firms represent the largest employment subsector in the industry, giving a total of 57,177 solar workers their jobs. Additionally, installers added the most new jobs over the past year…[Continued Wednesday]…”

    WIND’S INCENTIVE PHASE OUT RUMORS Multiyear Wind Energy PTC Phase-Out Getting Bipartisan Attention

    Laura DiMugno, 15 November 2012 (North American Windpower)

    “While a one-year extension of the wind energy production tax credit (PTC) remains alive in an omnibus tax-extenders bill passed by the Senate Finance Committee in August, some policymakers say the incentive could ultimately be renewed in a different form…[S]ome members of Congress - including a handful of anti-renewables House conservatives - may seek to strip the provision from the legislation…[and] many Republican lawmakers would need to be assured that the incentive will eventually go away.

    “…[A] PTC phase-out…may be gaining some serious support…Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa…[and] a bipartisan group of governors - including Govs. Terry Branstad, R-Iowa; John Kitzhaber, D-Ore.; Sam Brownback, R-Kan.; and John Hickenlooper, D-Colo. - emphasized the importance of extending the PTC, as well as the economic benefits it would provide.”

    “Because of the longer timeline needed to finance and build wind projects, the governors stressed, the industry might be better served by a multiyear phase-out than by a one-year extension…Brownback said he would like to see a three- or four-year phase-out of the tax credit but admitted that a one-year extension would probably be more realistic…Grassley said he also likes the idea and that he would be in favor of a gradual phase-out of about 20% per year.

    “Under the PTC-extension provision currently included in the tax-extenders bill, not only would the PTC be extended until Dec. 31, 2013, but the placed-in-service deadline would be changed to a start-of-construction deadline. In other words, projects would have to have started construction before Dec. 31, 2013, to receive the $0.022/kWh incentive…Ultimately, the fate of the PTC will depend on the priority given to the incentive as a part of measures taken to avoid the fiscal cliff…”

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