NewEnergyNews: TODAY’S STUDY: A ROADMAP TO BRING WIND HOME

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: 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

  • THE STUDY: NEW OPPORTUNITIES IN TRANSMISSION
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 20: ELEVEN GOOD THINGS ABOUT SOLAR ENERGY; YAHOO BUYS WIND; SMART THERMOSTATS’ BILLION DOLLAR FUTURE
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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

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

  • 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
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, Oct. 16:

  • TTTA Thursday-THE MILITARY FALLS FOR THE HOAX
  • TTTA Thursday-FORTUNE 100 BUSINESSES BOOST SUN
  • TTTA Thursday-IOWA UTILITY BUYS WIND TO CUT COSTS
  • TTTA Thursday-GETTING ENERGY EFFICIENCY FROM THE CLOUD
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • THE STUDY: NEW ENERGY BECOMES PRICE COMPETITIVE
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 15: NEW NUMBERS SHOW BIG OCEAN WIND POWER; SOLAR TURNS IN A NEW DIRECTION; FUEL CELL MARKETS TO VARY, GROW
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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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  • Wednesday, November 28, 2012

    TODAY’S STUDY: A ROADMAP TO BRING WIND HOME

    Built-Environment Wind Turbine Roadmap

    J. Smith, T. Forsyth, K. Sinclair, and F. Oteri, November 2012 (NREL)

    Executive Summary

    For the United States to generate 20% of its electricity requirements from wind technology by 2030, strong support from the general public will be needed. The majority of this production will come from large commercial wind projects installed throughout the United States, both land-based and offshore. To date, many of the easily developable sites have already been utilized, and future sites could face a range of potential barriers, including resistance from the general public.

    Although only a small contributor to total electricity production needs, built-environment wind turbines (BWTs) nonetheless have the potential to influence the public’s perception of renewable energy, and wind energy in particular. Higher population concentrations in urban environments offer greater opportunities for project visibility and an opportunity to acquaint large numbers of people to the advantages of wind projects. However, turbine failures will be equally visible. High-profile installations, many of which have failed to produce electricity as advertised, could have a negative effect on public safety and perception of wind technology because the general public cannot differentiate between emerging technology and proven technology used in the commercial wind industry.

    The market currently encourages BWT deployment before the technology is ready for full-scale commercialization. To address this issue, industry stakeholders convened a Rooftop and Built-Environment Wind Turbine Workshop on August 11 - 12, 2010, at the National Wind Technology Center, located at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado. Workshop attendees adopted the following vision statement:

    “To provide current, state-of-the-science recommendations for optimization (reliable and safe) of wind turbine design and placement in the built environment, assessment of potential challenges unique to the built environment, a list of barriers, and priorities for addressing those knowledge gaps with data/observations and modeling tools.”

    Workshop attendees identified barriers to BWT deployment in five key areas.

    • Safety is considered the most critical issue for BWTs. Sub-areas include fatigue resistance, braking redundancy, fail-safe mechanisms, and ice- and part-shedding containment.

    • Understanding the wind resource (including annual averages, turbulence, and extremes) and developing better wind resource maps are also considered high priorities to support BWTs.

    • Improvements to the turbine technology, such as using control strategies to reduce vibration and noise, understanding loads measurements and yaw rates, and developing design and testing standards, will move the BWT industry toward stronger customer acceptance.

    • At the same time, in terms of building-mounted systems, understanding building interactions will be pivotal. Concerns exist regarding resonance frequencies, and an understanding of how the building-turbine vibrations are coupled is needed. BWT system designs must comply with building codes as well as integrate with the building’s mechanical and electrical systems.

    • Non-technical obstacles, such as concerns regarding safety hazards during installation, operations and maintenance, and inspections must be understood. Consumer outreach and education, along with overcoming economic barriers, must also be addressed. The BWT roadmap also outlines stakeholder actions to overcome the barriers identified. The actions are categorized as near-term (0 - 3 years), medium-term (4 - 7 years), and both near- and medium-term. The BWT industry is evolving rapidly, so long-term actions cannot be projected.

    Workshop attendees developed a strategic approach to accomplish these actions that identifies two focus areas: understanding the built-environment wind resource and developing testing and design standards. In this report, the authors summarize the expertise and resources needed in these areas. A wide variety of domestic and international stakeholders are currently engaged with BWTs. Existing wind tunnels, wind measurement data, and models could be utilized and enhanced to expedite the development and deployment of BWTs.

    This roadmap identifies key barriers to the development and deployment of BWTs and outlines a strategic approach to addressing these barriers.

    Introduction

    What are built-environment wind turbines (BWTs)? In this roadmap, BWTs are defined as wind turbines located in an urban or suburban environment (built environment). Most BWTs are also classified as small wind turbines (SWTs), which are 100 kilowatts (kW) or less.

    While the terms “BWT” and “SWT” are interchangeable in many cases, this roadmap uses the term “SWT” when referring to turbines 100 kilowatts and less and the term “BWT” when referring to SWTs in the built environment. “SWT” refers to a category of turbines, and “BWT” refers to a specific application or market niche. See Appendix I for a detailed description of BWTs.

    To date, most wind turbines installed in the built environment have been sited with limited understanding of or regard for the unique challenges of BWTs (Encraft 2009). Most SWTs were designed for rural areas, not the built environment with its high turbulence, lower average wind speed, more frequent wind direction changes, and potentially higher vertical inflow. Nor were turbines designed to be in close proximity to people, businesses, and other property. Poor siting and improper use of BWTs could lead to turbine failure, possibly resulting in injury, property damage, and potential liabilities. These liabilities extend to not only BWT owners but also to the industry, which would suffer from general negative perceptions of wind technology.

    Recent research on wind energy in urban areas demonstrates that there are promising opportunities to extend the use of wind energy in the built environment. However, developers must pay careful attention to the micro or local wind conditions produced by the stochastic wind interactions with localized structures. Turbine efficiency is highly sensitive to the rapid variations in wind conditions that prevail in the built environments (Kooiman and Tullis 2010). Other difficulties include transfer of vibration and loads to a building structure, potentially causing noise and structural failures (Encraft 2009).

    Understanding the loads, dynamics, yaw rate, and other technical specifications is critical in designing or modifying existing commercial products.

    The number of BWT installations is increasing as consumers have easier access to relatively inexpensive SWTs (James et al. 2010). In 2010, BWT units experienced substantial sales growth to more than 1,700 kW, or 7% of 2010 U.S. SWT capacity sales.

    This represents a remarkable 430% growth from 2009. In terms of units, 1,074 roof-top units were sold (American Wind Energy Association 2011). Many people are motivated by a desire to be environmentally responsible, and they want clean, renewable energy to help power their homes or businesses. While the increased visibility of a BWT can be used to enhance a “green” image, a poorly sited turbine will not produce much electricity and may not even spin, which implies that “turbines don’t work.” Moreover, poor siting will likely increase fatigue issues and may drastically shorten a turbine’s life span. This perception of BWT underperformance introduces a risk that the public will become disillusioned with the greater wind energy industry (Encraft 2009).

    By developing the “Built-Environment Wind Turbine Roadmap,” representatives from industry, government, academics, and those with an interest in BWTs have produced a document that addresses the critical needs of safety, technology, and non-technical obstacles in the built environment. Although this is a U.S.-centric document, it includes contributions from international stakeholders. Further, this work will be coordinated through the International Energy Agency (IEA) so that a variety of international entities can pursue this research area. This work is intended to aid in the crafting of public and business BWT policy by providing current, state-of-the-science recommendations.

    This roadmap delves into the background of BWTs, including the current state of the BWT industry and the current state of BWT technology. Furthermore, this document describes the five categories of BWT industry barriers: safety, wind resource, turbine technology, building interactions, and non-technical obstacles. An action section addresses these barriers. One action may address more than one barrier, so these actions are grouped into three categories defined by their urgency: near-term (0-3 years), medium-term (4-7 years), and both. Because BWTs are a new wind technology and are evolving rapidly, long-term actions cannot be projected for the current BWT industry. The document concludes with a strategy section that identifies resources to help carry out the actions and provides a plan to remove BWT barriers.

    This document is based on presentations and the ensuing discussions from the Rooftop and Built-Environment Wind Turbine Workshop hosted at the National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on August 11-12, 2010. Workshop participants are experienced in SWT modeling and data collection.

    Some of the key points from the workshop include:

    • Approximate correlations exist between wind tunnel measurements and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models for specific sites.

    • More sophisticated CFD wind resource modeling tools exist, and there is a substantial body of existing work pertaining to other wind propagation models.

    • Countries of focus on the topic of built-environment wind turbines (see www.urbanwind.net) exist, and the International Energy Agency Task 27 recently proposed new work.

    • As a result, novel approaches to wind energy harvesting may emerge as important players in the effort to increase wind energy use in urban areas. During the workshop, the participants agreed to the following vision statement:

    “To provide current, state-of-the-science recommendations for optimization (reliable and safe) of wind turbine design and placement in the built environment, assessment of potential challenges unique to the built environment, a list of barriers, and priorities for addressing those knowledge gaps both with data/observations and modeling tools.”

    This roadmap is a step toward that vision.

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