NewEnergyNews: Holiday Reading: Stat of the Day: 40 Percent More Wind, Solar, Hydro and Biopower in 2017; The IEA says renewables have come of age and will just keep growing.

NewEnergyNews

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

Every day is Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 5 (continued from yesterday)
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 6
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 7
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 8
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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

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

  • TTTA Thursday-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 1
  • TTTA Thursday-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 2
  • TTTA Thursday-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 3
  • TTTA Thursday-THE SOLAR CELL TURNS 60, Part 4
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: NEW ENERGY POSSIBILITIES – THE MICHIGAN EXAMPLE
  • QUICK NEWS, April 16: THE RACE AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE; THE FAST RISING POTENTIAL OF U.S. NEW ENERGY; BIG TEXAS WIND SHRINKS ELECTRICITY MRKT PRICE
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: THE MONEY IN NEW ENERGY
  • QUICK NEWS, April 15: WORLD WIND TO BOOM THRU 2014; NAT GAS AND SOLAR WERE 75% OF U.S. 2013 NEW POWER; MAINE OFFICIALLY AFFIRMS SMART METERS’ SAFETY
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: THIS COULD BE THE REAL VALUE OF SOLAR
  • QUICK NEWS, April 14: DE-RISKED RENEWABLES HAVE MORE INVESTORS THAN DEALS; THE MYTH OF CONSOLIDATION IN SOLAR; TEXAS BREAKS MORE WIND RECORDS
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • Weekend Video: Bill Maher On What’s Happening In The Oceans
  • Weekend Video: The Human Disharmony In The Climate System Symphony
  • Weekend Video: A Few Thoughts About Solar 2.0
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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, December 26, 2012

    Holiday Reading: Stat of the Day: 40 Percent More Wind, Solar, Hydro and Biopower in 2017; The IEA says renewables have come of age and will just keep growing.

    Holiday Reading: Stat of the Day: 40 Percent More Wind, Solar, Hydro and Biopower in 2017; The IEA says renewables have come of age and will just keep growing.

    Herman K. Trabish, July 9, 2012 (Greentech Media)

    The International Energy Agency (IEA), often skeptical about renewables in favor of fossil fuels, has just predicted a 40-plus percent increase in the world’s renewables-generated electricity over the next five years. The figure will go from 2011’s 4,540 terawatt-hours -- a rate that is itself 5.8 percent more than in 2010 -- to almost 6,400 terawatt-hours, a 5.8 percent annual growth rate over the five-year period.

    “From 2011 to 2017 renewable electricity generation should expand,” the IEA’s just-releasedMedium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report 2012 reported, “by 1,840 terawatt-hours, almost 60 percent higher than the 1,160 terawatt-hours growth registered over the 2005-11 period.”

    The increase will come as the result of a predicted addition by 2017 of 710 gigawatts of new renewables capacity.

    Two-thirds of the growth will come from countries outside the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which is made up of the established industrial nations. China will build almost 40 percent (270 gigawatts) of the new capacity.

    The report considered eight electricity-generating renewable technologies: hydropower, bioenergy, onshore wind, offshore wind, solar photovoltaics (PV), concentrating solar power (CSP), geothermal and ocean power. It also included solar water heating. The conclusions came from the evaluation of fifteen key renewable energy markets which make up about 80 percent of renewable electricity generation.

    The first-ever medium-term report on renewable energy from the IEA noted the technologies are “maturing” as the result of “supportive policy” in OECD countries that has brought renewables to cost-competitiveness. “Renewable deployment is starting to transition,” the report observed, “from a phase in which it is more reliant on subsidy support to one in which projects are competing on their own merits.”

    The increasing demand for electricity and increasing need for supply security have combined with the new economic competitiveness to drive growth that is expected to continue through 2017, especially in the United States (56 gigawatts), India (39 gigawatts), Germany (32 gigawatts), and Brazil (32 gigawatts).

    Onshore wind will be deployed in at least 70 countries by 2017, the report predicted. There will be more than 100 gigawatts of solar PV and bioenergy in 45 countries by then. Geothermal and CSP will be deployed in fifteen countries and offshore wind in eleven countries. Global investment in renewable electricity increased 19 percent in 2011 to $250 billion from 2010’s $210 billion. There was, the report noted, a drop in Q1 2012.

    Renewable investment is expected to continue to grow because, according to the report, established technologies (hydropower, geothermal, onshore wind, solar PV) are presently at grid parity with new fossil generation in many places and costs are expected to continue to come down. Investors still see some renewables (offshore wind, CSP, the ocean energies) as risky, the report added.

    Hydropower will lead growth with 730 terawatt-hours, the IEA report said. That will come largely in emerging economies.

    Non-hydro growth will slow from 2005 to 2011’s 16.2 percent to 14.3 percent over the next five years. But the non-hydro renewables will add 1,100 terawatt-hours, about half in OECD countries and half in emerging economies.

    Of that generation, wind power (onshore and offshore) should make the largest contribution to global renewables production through 2017, with a 16.7 percent total gain. “Onshore wind, bioenergy and solar PV see the largest increases,” the IEA reported, and “offshore wind and CSP grow quickly from low bases. Geothermal continues to develop in areas with good resources. Ocean technologies take important steps towards commercialization.”

    The increasing demand for electricity and increasing need for supply security have combined with the new economic competitiveness to drive growth that is expected to continue through 2017, especially in the United States (56 gigawatts), India (39 gigawatts), Germany (32 gigawatts), and Brazil (32 gigawatts).

    Onshore wind will be deployed in at least 70 countries by 2017, the report predicted. There will be more than 100 gigawatts of solar PV and bioenergy in 45 countries by then. Geothermal and CSP will be deployed in fifteen countries and offshore wind in eleven countries.

    Global investment in renewable electricity increased 19 percent in 2011 to $250 billion from 2010’s $210 billion. There was, the report noted, a drop in Q1 2012.

    Renewable investment is expected to continue to grow because, according to the report, established technologies (hydropower, geothermal, onshore wind, solar PV) are presently at grid parity with new fossil generation in many places and costs are expected to continue to come down. Investors still see some renewables (offshore wind, CSP, the ocean energies) as risky, the report added.

    Hydropower will lead growth with 730 terawatt-hours, the IEA report said. That will come largely in emerging economies.

    Non-hydro growth will slow from 2005 to 2011’s 16.2 percent to 14.3 percent over the next five years. But the non-hydro renewables will add 1,100 terawatt-hours, about half in OECD countries and half in emerging economies.

    Of that generation, wind power (onshore and offshore) should make the largest contribution to global renewables production through 2017, with a 16.7 percent total gain. “Onshore wind, bioenergy and solar PV see the largest increases,” the IEA reported, and “offshore wind and CSP grow quickly from low bases. Geothermal continues to develop in areas with good resources. Ocean technologies take important steps towards commercialization.”

    Wind, the report predicted, should grow 15.6 percent (100 terawatt-hours) per year, 90 percent of it onshore. The 230-gigawatt 2011 world wind capacity is predicted to go to over 460 gigawatts in 2017.

    Bioenergy (solid biomass, biogas, liquid biofuels, renewable municipal waste) is predicted to be 8.3 percent of the world’s renewable electricity generation capacity in 2017.

    Solar technologies are predicted to be 4.9 percent of global renewable electricity in 2017. PV will grow, the report said, 27.4 percent (35 terawatt-hours) per year, going from 70 gigawatts in 2011 to 230 gigawatts in 2017. That growth is predicted to be led by China (32 gigawatts), the U.S. (21 gigawatts), Germany (20 gigawatts), Japan (20 gigawatts), and Italy (11 gigawatts). CSP, by incorporating storage and being used in hybrid fossil plants, is expected to grow from 2011’s two-gigawatt capacity to 11 gigawatts in 2017, led by the U.S. (four gigawatts), Spain (one gigawatt) and China (one gigawatt).

    Geothermal generation, the report predicted, could grow 4.2 percent (three terawatt-hours) per year and go from 2011’s 11-gigawatt capacity to fourteen gigawatts in 2017.

    The cost of the technologies, the challenges of integrating them into the transmission system, and the availability of financing will be, the report concluded, the key factors affecting renewables’ continued growth. The European financial crisis, the shifting fortunes of politics and policy, and the price of natural gas are the key unknowns.

    The outlook for realizing all of its brightest 2017 predictions, the report noted, was therefore “cautious.”

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