NewEnergyNews: TODAY’S STUDY: UK WAVE POWER

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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: THE COST OF ADDING SOLAR TO A UTILITY’S OPERATIONS
  • QUICK NEWS, 7-21: U.S. WIND, SOLAR TO GROW THROUGH 2020; NEW GEOTHERMAL RISING; CHINESE HAVE RIGHTS IN OREGON WIND BUY
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • Weekend Video: Colbert Gets Into Coal Rolling
  • Weekend Video: How Solar Power Plants Store And Use Solar Energy
  • Weekend Video: A Story About People And Wind Energy
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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

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE CLIMATE CHANGED WORLD IS NOW 5 TIMES MORE DANGEROUS
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE MONEY IN SOLAR, Q2 2014
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-EU STILL GROWING OCEAN WIND
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-$109MIL FROM GERMAN BANK BACKS KENYA GEOTHERMAL
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, July 17:

  • TTTA Thursday-THE PREMATURE EVACUATION FROM CLIMATE CHANGE EXCITEMENT
  • TTTA Thursday-NEW ENERGY TO SUSTAIN BIG GROWTH – EIA
  • TTTA Thursday-SOLAR’S COST TO UTILITIES
  • TTTA Thursday-HOW UTILITIES CAN EVOLVE IN A NEW ENERGY WORLD
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: HOW TO PROTECT A CAP AND TRADE PROGRAM
  • QUICK NEWS, July 16: 88% OF NEW U.S. POWER IN MAY WAS NEW ENERGY; THE FIGHT FOR WIND IN OHIO; U.S. CRITICAL SYSTEMS REGULARLY BREACHED
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • THE STUDY: THE COSTS AND BENEFITS OF NET ENERGY METERING FOR DISTRIBUTED RENEWABLES
  • QUICK NEWS, July 15: THE SMART GRID IS COMING; LA UTILITY WANTS A SOLAR FEED-IN TARIFF, NOT NET METERING; FORESEEING A SELF-DRIVING VEHICLE MARKET
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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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  • Tuesday, November 06, 2012

    TODAY’S STUDY: UK WAVE POWER

    UK Wave Resource

    October 2012 (UK Carbon Trust)

    Executive Summary

    This study estimates the total wave energy resource in the UK. The majority of available energy arrives from the Atlantic to the west. Sheltering from Ireland reduces the wave energy resource in the Irish Sea and the energy levels in the North Sea are significantly lower than in the Atlantic. The total resource incident on our shores is around 230 TWh/y with the majority found in the deeper offshore parts of the UK’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

    The offshore wave energy levels generally increase with westerly distance to shore. An analysis of the cost of energy at different locations in UK waters has shown that the least cost areas for offshore devices are found at the edge of the Rockall Trough to the west of Scotland and at the edge of the UK waters in the Southwest. These areas are around 100 kilometres from shore and in water a few hundred metres deep. Further offshore the resource increases marginally but the water gets considerably deeper, reaching several kilometres deep in places like the Rockall Trough and this greatly increases the cost of energy. The most attractive areas are shown in red on the map (see right). The available theoretical resource in these areas is around 146 TWh/y.

    It is technically possible to extract a significant proportion of this energy at the attractive sites by using farms of wave energy devices. To do this many rows of long farms facing the Atlantic would be required. These might total around 1,000 km in length and average 180 km from shore. They need not necessarily be placed in a single continuous line. If all of these were built then around 95 TWh/y could be extracted from the offshore sites identified.

    The offshore resource is sufficiently far offshore and dispersed that most of the fixed constraints, such as designated areas, can be avoided. The main constraints in these locations are shipping, fishing, cables and pipelines. In addition, large deployments of wave energy devices may cause environmental ‘barrier’ effects changing the behaviours of animals in the sea.

    To mitigate these effects the farms would need to be positioned with space between them. This space can be used for more than one purpose—a shipping corridor might also mitigate the environmental barrier effect, for instance. Additionally, whilst in the theoretical case wave farms would be long and thin; in practice they could equally comprise blocks of farms without any great loss of energy. Accounting for these other sea users would leave around 70 TWh/y available for extraction.

    The nearshore resource is also concentrated on the west coast. The total incident energy is similar to that for the offshore resource, but with some energy dissipated near to the shore. Unlike the offshore farms that can be positioned in a wide range of locations, near shore systems are tied to particular conditions found near the coast. These seabed and technical conditions near the shore are highly variable meaning that the number of sites technically suitable for development is lower. This means that there is a much greater difference between the theoretical resource and the technical resource for nearshore systems than for offshore. The near shore wave energy devices make an important contribution to the total practical resource of around 6 TWh/y.

    If new nearshore technologies can be found that increase performance then the technical near shore resource wouldbe proportionately higher. Likewise if new technology enabled the systems to be deployed in a wider range of conditions then the resource for nearshore systems could also be higher.

    The resource can also be described by resource-cost curves that indicate the proportion of the resource available at or below a given cost of energy. The sensitivity of the resource available to the affordability of the power is shown by these curves. Around 42 TWh/y of offshore resource is available at or below three times the cost of energy at the cheapest location, and the nearshore is around 5.8 TWh/y.

    Introduction

    The United Kingdom with its long exposure to the Atlantic has some of the best wave resources found anywhere.

    This study considers the total resource available to the UK and the proportion that might usefully be captured. This study looks at the offshore wave energy resource and more briefly at the nearshore resource.

    The area available offshore for exploitation is very large compared with the space needed to install wave energy devices and a simple cost of energy model can be used to identify least-cost locations. With preferred locations identified, energy estimates which include the impact of natural variations in wave energy due to sea state can be made together with a breakdown of energy availability at different cost-of-energy levels.

    The nearshore resource is calculated differently using device-based analysis by Aquamarine. The overall wave energy resource is characterised in this study at four levels…This study considers a number of potential sites around the coast and uses finer-scale models to predict the wave conditions near the shore. From this, and using the power characteristics for the Oyster device, the energy output available at each coastline is calculated.

    • Total Resource (TWh/y): The total resource arriving in UK waters. It is the total resource flowing over a single frontage (or group of frontages) that are arranged to give the highest overall energy availability to the UK. These frontages do not take into account potential location constraints such as water depth and distance to shore.

    • Theoretical Resource (TWh/y): The maximum energy available from a set of frontages positioned in realistic locations based on areas likely to have the most competitive low cost of energy.

    • Technical Resource (TWh/y): The energy available from the theoretical frontages using envisaged technology options.

    • Practical Resource (TWh/y): The proportion of the technical resource that can be extracted taking into account locations constraints such as sea uses and environmental impacts…

    Conclusions

    This study estimates the total wave energy resource in the UK. The majority of available energy arrives from the Atlantic to the west. Sheltering from Ireland reduces the wave energy resource in the Irish Sea and the energy levels in the North Sea are significantly lower than in the west. The total resource incident on our shores is around 230 TWh/y with the majority found in the deeper offshore parts of the UK’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

    The offshore wave resource generally increases with westerly distance to shore. An analysis of the cost of energy at different locations in UK waters has shown that the least cost areas are found at the edge of the Rockall Trough to the west of Scotland and at the edge of the UK waters in the Southwest. These areas are around 100 kilometres from shore and in water depths of a few hundred metres. Further offshore the resource increases marginally but the water gets considerably deeper, reaching several kilometres deep in places and this greatly increases the cost of energy. The available theoretical resource in these areas is around 146 TWh/y.

    It is technically possible to extract a very high proportion of this energy by using farms of wave energy devices. To do this many rows of long farms facing the Atlantic would be required. If all of these were built then around 95 TWh/y could be extracted from offshore. However, taking into account other sea users, shipping, fishing, cables and pipelines, would leave around 70 TWh/y available for extraction. Of this around 42 TWh/y would be available at or below three times the cost of energy of the cheapest site (i.e. a cost ratio of 3).

    The impact of distance to shore and corresponding increasing water depth on the cost of energy is not great (up to the edge of the continental shelf). This implies that the target areas in the longer term for well-developed offshore wave energy devices are likely to be near the edge of the UK’s first continental shelf.

    However the cost of energy does not vary significantly in these areas meaning that farms could be sited closer to shore without a significant cost of energy premium. This would allow farms to be sited nearer shore to minimize the capital requirement for the projects, to minimise operations risks and inconvenience, or for other reasons.

    For maximum energy extraction offshore wave energy devices would be sited in relatively long farms. The main impact of such farms might be in making barriers to other sea users, such as fishing vessels or barriers to the movement of fish, mammals and others. These barrier effects can be mitigated by careful siting and in some cases without affecting the overall available resource. If the energy extraction levels are high in certain locations then there may be other environmental effects due to the lower wave climate behind the farm, but these are not established or discussed in their report.

    The resource cost curve analysis indicates that in high resource areas it is likely that it will be beneficial to have fairly deep farms comprising many rows of devices before moving to lower-resource areas. There may be practical and commercial reasons why farms are first sited nearer the shore and then move farther as they become more developed. However, once established in a high resource area, it makes sense to growth the farms there before moving to lower resource areas.

    An important route to cost of energy reduction for offshore wave energy devices is to move farther offshore and into the higher resource areas. This requires finding ways to minimise the transit time, maximise availability despite the distance to shore and to maximise production to minimise the cost of farm-to-shore cabling. Whilst not trivial, these are entirely possible.

    The nearshore resource is highly technology dependent. The UK wave energy atlas is not reliable in shallow water near to the shore. The local wave conditions are harder to predict and require more detailed modelling suited to the technology concept under investigation.

    The seabed and technical conditions near the shore are highly variable meaning that the number of sites technically suitable for development is lower. This means that there is a much greater difference between the theoretical resource (133 TWh/y) and the technical resource (10 TWh/y) for nearshore systems than for offshore.

    Unlike offshore wave if new nearshore technologies can be found that increase performance then the technical nearshore resource would be proportionately higher. Likewise if new technology enabled the systems to be deployed in a wider range of conditions then the resource is for nearshore systems then potentially the resource could be higher.

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