Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

The challenge: To make every day Earth Day.



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  • Weekend Video: The Ocean Speaks Out
  • Weekend Video: Adapting To The Inevitable
  • Weekend Video: The Joy Of Driving EVs Powered By The Sun




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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


    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 ( 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


    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



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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.


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

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  • Wednesday, November 07, 2012


    CSP Market Guide India 2012-13

    October 2012 (CSP Today)

    Section 1: National Solar Mission

    The National Solar Mission is a major initiative of the Government of India and State Governments to promote ecologically sustainable growth while addressing India’s energy security challenge. It will also constitute a major contribution by India to the global effort to meet the challenges of climate change. In launching India’s National Action Plan on Climate Change on June 30, 2008, the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh stated:

    “Our vision is to make India’s economic development energy - efficient. Over a period of time, we must pioneer a graduated shift from economic activity based on fossil fuels to one based on non - fossil fuels and from reliance on non-renewable and depleting sources of energy to renewable sources of energy. In this strategy, the sun occupies centre-stage, as it should, being literally the original source of all energy. We will pool our scientific, technical and managerial talents, with sufficient financial resources, to develop solar energy as a source of abundant energy to power our economy and to transform the lives of our people…Our success in this endeavour will change the face of India. It could also enable India to help change the destinies of people around the world.”

    The National Action Plan on Climate Change also points out: “India is a tropical country, where sunshine is available for longer hours per day and in great intensity. Solar energy, therefore, has great potential as future energy source. It also has the advantage of permitting the decentralized distribution of energy, thereby empowering people at the grassroots level”.

    Based on this vision a National Solar Mission is being launched under the brand name “Solar India”.

    The objective of the National Solar Mission is to establish India as a global leader in solar energy, by creating the policy conditions for its diffusion across the country as quickly as possible.

    The Mission will adopt a 3-phase approach, spanning the remaining period of the 11th Plan and first year of the 12th Plan (up to 2012-13) as Phase 1, the remaining 4 years of the 12th Plan (2013-17) as Phase 2 and the 13th Plan (2017-22) as Phase 3. At the end of each plan, and mid-term during the 12th and 13th Plans, there will be an evaluation of progress, review of capacity and targets for subsequent phases, based on emerging cost and technology trends, both domestic and global.

    The aim would be to protect Government from subsidy exposure in case expected cost reduction does not materialize or is more rapid than expected.

    The immediate aim of the Mission is to focus on setting up an enabling environment for solar technology penetration in the country both at a centralized and decentralized level. The first phase (up to 2013) will focus on capturing of the lowhanging options in solar thermal; on promoting off-grid systems to serve populations without access to commercial energy and modest capacity addition in grid-based systems. In the second phase, after taking into account the experience of the initial years, capacity will be aggressively ramped up to create conditions for up scaled and competitive solar energy penetration in the country.

    To achieve this, the Mission targets are:

    -To create an enabling policy framework for the deployment of 20,000 MW of solar power by 2022.

    -To ramp up capacity of grid-connected solar power generation to 1000 MW within three years – by 2013; an additional 3000 MW by 2017 through the mandatory use of the renewable purchase obligation by utilities backed with a preferential tariff.

    This capacity can be more than doubled – reaching 10,000MW installed power by 2017 or more, based on the enhanced and enabled international finance and technology transfer. The ambitious target for 2022 of 20,000 MW or more, will be dependent on the ‘learning’ of the first two phases, which if successful, could lead to conditions of grid competitive solar power. The transition could be appropriately up scaled, based on availability of international finance and technology.

    -To create favourable conditions for solar manufacturing capability, particularly solar thermal for indigenous production and market leadership.

    -To promote programmes for off grid applications, reaching 1000 MW by 2017 and 2000 MW by 2022.

    -To achieve 15 million sq. meters solar thermal collector area by 2017 and 20 million by 2022.

    -To deploy 20 million solar lighting systems for rural areas by 2022.

    Section 2: Regional Solar Policies


    Gujarat State Solar Energy Policy

    Gujarat’s potential for concentrated solar power with water availability stands at 345.71 GW. The current “Gujarat Solar Energy 2009” policy was published in January 2009 and is valid until 2014. It aimed originally at 500 MW of Solar Power generating Projects (SPG) to be deployed with a minimum of 5 MW per project of (irrespective of PV and CSP). Given the interest from a large number of developers the government allocated projects worth 935 MW for both CSP and PV. This is the only policy in India with a fixed Feed-in Tariff, and working on a first-come-first-served basis [13]. The tariffis set at INR 14/kWh for the first 12 years and INR 7 for the next 13 years.

    Rajasthan State Policy

    Rajasthan has published its “Rajasthan Solar Energy Policy 2011” in April 2011. It targets a 10 to 12 GW of solar power installed within the next 10 to 12 years.

    The majority of this new capacity shall be installed under the JNNSM, but the state will also directly procure a maximum of 200 MW until 2013 (Phase-1) and an additional 400 MW from 2013 to 2017 (Phase-2) through a competitive bidding process. The capacity will be equally distributed between CSP and PV. Requested project capacities range from 5 to 10 MW for PV and 5 to 50 MW for CSP.

    Karnataka Solar Policy

    Karnataka announced its solar policy in July 2011 and targets 350 MW of projects by 2016. The state has tendered 80 MW worth of bids. The size of the individual projects is limited from 5 MW to 10 MW for CSP. The policy has no domestic content requirement.

    The original capacity to be allocated in the first phase was 30 MW of CSP and 50 MW of solar PV, but as bids for only 20 MW (2x10 MW) of CSP capacity were received, the excess 10 MW was allocated to solar PV.

    The CSP projects must be commissioned within 30 months of signing the PPA and solar PV projects will get a period of 18 months for commissioning.

    Andhra Pradesh State Solar Policy (APSSP) 2012

    A recent announcement from Andhra Pradesh State on enacting a solar credit policy could lead to solar boom within the State. The enactment of the policy does not offer feed-in tariffs, but includes exemptions from charges including transmission and wheeling, cross subsidy surcharges and electricity duty, as well as refunds on value added taxes, stamp duties and registration charges for purchases of land.

    This will now mean 100% banking of energy from January through December of a given year, though it does not allow for banking of energy on the same day.

    Developers will be charged 2% of the banked energy.

    This solar mode, if proven successful could be used as a blueprint for future States looking to incorporate solar energy in their energy mix.

    Setion 3: India Solar Developments 2012 Timeline

    Setion 4: Hybridization in India

    India makes a solar hybrid comeback; Amid India’s ongoing struggle with domestic coal shortage that has led some power producers to curtail operations and others to start importing coal, the country’s MNRE has rolled out a pilot program that will take CSP hybridization to another level. Will this help ramp up the much needed power supply?

    By Heba Hashem

    In the fiscal year ending March 2012, Tata Power, India’s largest private power producer, had imported 5.5 million tons of coal from Australia and Indonesia and is now eyeing more overseas mines as it tries to secure fuel supplies. Similarly, Coal India recently declared it could only supply 60 percent of its requirement and would not be able to meet its mandatory 80 percent commitment; a dilemma that prompted the state controlled mining company to consider imports. As a result, power deficits in the southern part of India rose to as high as 4,350MW in May, while the north had a deficit of 3,000MW. In addition, nearly 400 million people, about one-third of India’s population, have no electricity at all.

    An integrated solution

    The situation, however, indicates huge potential for CSP hybridization, as upgrading existing fuel-fired plants to ISCC systems could boost steam production and consequently electrical output at a relatively low extra cost. Not only can CSP be easily integrated into conventional fossil-fired thermal power plants, but it could also be combined with gas-fired wind turbines or biomass.

    Lessons could be learnt from China’s Hanas New Energy Group, which is building Asia’s first ISCC station in Yanchi with a goal of 92.5MW for completion by October 2013, or from Italy’s Enel, which is constructing the 1.5MW Trebois CSP biomass bi-generation plant to continuously produce electricity for the city of Rome.

    India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) is already setting up an authority to promote and execute biomass-based power projects on the lines of Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI). “We are focusing to promote biomass-based power generation in the country. For this, the Ministry is planning to set up a company for biomass energy, same as we set up SECI last year”, said Tarun Kapoor, joint secretary of the MNRE. According to MNRE data, biomass availability in India is estimated at about 500 million tons per year, while surplus biomass is estimated at about 120–150 million tons per year, corresponding to a potential of about 18,000MW of power generation.

    Made for India?

    Considering that peak electricity demand in India has been far greater during recent summers than peak winter demand, and that CSP delivers its maximum output during these peak periods, ISCC stations would be ideal for the country’s changing power demand characteristics. The possibility of adding thermal storage capacity also extends CSP’s operational range.

    Moreover, by taking advantage of the existing infrastructure associated with the development of a conventional thermal power plant – such as site access, power transmission links and a steam turbine power island – the economics of the CSP component become significantly enhanced.

    As with any solar installation, DNI should be as high as possible and cooling methods should be taken into consideration. Many locations in India are known to have high levels of direct normal insolation, while dry cooling could be opted for, as carried out with Algeria’s Hassi R’Mel ISCC plant.

    Rajasthan in particular – where a 100MW ISCC project with a solar yield of 35MW was proposed more than two decades ago but remains at the bidding stage – has the highest solar irradiation in the country of around 5.5-6.5kWh/m² per day and an average DNI of 2200kWh/m² per year. The state also has stretches of government-owned wasteland that are barren and sparsely populated.

    “There is tremendous potential for CSP hybridization in India.

    One could install a small capacity CSP plant near the conventional coal-based thermal power plants as capacity addition mainly for peak load requirements, or one could add conventionalfuel-based capacity to a CSP thermal plant as backup for 24 x 7 operations and also during cloudy weather”, Hiro Chandwani, CEO and founder of Hiro Energy-Tech, tells CSP Today.

    He adds that great potential also lies in designing a hybrid plant with another renewable source like wind, tidal or wave energy for 24 x 7 supply of power, which is not possible from individual sources alone. This makes ISCC ideal for industrial applications that need uninterrupted power. “The only challenge would be the possibility of future scarcity and higher costs of coal”, Chandwani notes.

    Hybrid program takes off

    The reality of falling PV prices in the international market cannot be ignored; having reversed the interest of some developers for investing in CSP, while the cost-competitive bidding route followed by the Indian government for awarding solar projects has also limited the capacity allocation for CSP systems in Phase Two of the National Solar Mission (NSM).

    However, the MNRE recently announced a separate CSP hybrid program through which it will support the development of four hybrid pilot projects: the first, planned for Rajasthan, will be a CSP plant integrating hybrid cooling, with the objective of reducing water consumption; the second involves a CSP plant with steam temperature above 500 Cº; the third will be a CSP plant with 10 or more hours of solar thermal salt storage to achieve round the clock operation; and the fourth will comprise a CSP plant with 30% natural gas support, which is likely to be in the form of an ISCC.

    “The capacity of each project will be decided based on land availability and the commitment by the respective state government. Plant capacity may change from 20MW to 50MW depending upon the land size made available by each state”, explained a senior adviser on the Indian solar power industry, who preferred to remain anonymous. Commenting on the current coal deficits, he stressed that India has huge coal reserves which need to be explored. “The ongoing reforms and infrastructure development in the coal sector will address the present crises”.

    Demonstration projects in the upcoming CSP hybrid program will be site-specific and located one each in the different states, including Rajasthan, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh. Most importantly, the government will be facilitating the allotment of land, water resources, grid interface and connectivity, geotechnical reports, environment and forest clearances, and Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) with distribution licensees. Projects are expected to be evaluated and selected through a transparent and competitive bidding process under the guidelines of the MNRE and the Renewal Fuel Standard Program.

    At present, four ISCC plants are operational worldwide: the 150MW Hassi R’Mel in Algeria from which 25MW comes from CSP; the 470MW Ain Beni Matar in Morocco where 20MW is provided by CSP; the 140MW Kuraymat in Egypt from which 40MW is generated through CSP; and the US’s first hybrid solar thermal facility – the Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Centre in Florida that has a 75MW CSP capacity.

    China, Mexico and Iran are also constructing ISCC plants, while Turkey is constructing the world’s first Integrated Renewables Combined-Cycle plant in Karaman. The 530MW Dervish project will feature a General Electric combied-cycle gas turbine fed with 50MW of solar-generated steam and 22MW of wind turbines, scheduled for completion by 2015.

    Until recently, ISCC technology was not formally recognized under the NSM, and thus related projects could not technically be taken up under the framework. But with the introduction of the new solar-thermal hybrid program that comes under the MNRE’s energy strategy for 2011-2017 and will involve interaction with the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, the picture is about to change. Setion 5: Plant Details…


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