NewEnergyNews: Holiday Reading: Will the Pentagon Bring Solar Hot Water to a Boil? With third-party finance, solar can give the military hot water, private sector buy-in, and budget cuts.

NewEnergyNews

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

The new challenge: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-A NEW WAY TO SEE CLIMATE CHANGE
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-EU OCEAN WIND TO CUT COSTS, KEEP GROWING
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-COST-COMPETIVE NEW ENERGY, GERMANY’S ‘GIFT TO THE WORLD’
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-NEW ENERGY MATCHES COAL ON COST, CAPACITY IN TURKEY
  • THE DAY BEFORE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, November 20:

  • TTTA Thursday-TOP REPUBLICAN DROPS CLIMATE DENIAL
  • TTTA Thursday-FORD ELECTRIC CARS FOR ‘THE MASSES’
  • TTTA Thursday-MIDWEST SOLAR MAKES SENSE AND CENTS
  • TTTA Thursday-NEW ENERGY JOBS BY THE BAY
  • -------------------

    GET THE DAILY HEADLINES EMAIL: CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR SEND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

    -------------------

    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: THE MIDWEST GRID IS READY FOR 40% NEW ENERGY
  • QUICK NEWS, November 19: OHIO NEW ENERGY JOBS REPORT SUPPRESSED; SOLAR GIANT BUYS WIND DEVELOPER; BUSINESS TO MAKE IT BIG IN SMART CITIES
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: THE NEW ENERGY LIFE-CYCLE CUTS EMISSIONS
  • QUICK NEWS, November 18: U.S. TAKES WORLD LEAD IN WIND; SOLAR TO SHOW MISSOURI JOBS; WAVE ENERGY ROLLING SLOWLY IN
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: A NEW TAKE ON THE COSTS AND BENEFITS OF SOLAR
  • QUICK NEWS, November 17: BIG TEST FOR SOLAR ROADS KICKS OFF; FORD TURNS TO NEW ENERGY; ADVANCED BATTERY SUPPLY CHAIN TO TRIPLE
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • Weekend Video: Hearing From Idiotic Idiots And Others
  • Weekend Video: The Aussies Say It Plainly
  • Weekend Video: Living In The Wasteland Of The Free
  • --------------------------

    --------------------------

    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.

    - -------------------

    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

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

    -------------------

    Your intrepid reporter

    -------------------

      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.

  • ---------------
  • Thursday, December 27, 2012

    Holiday Reading: Will the Pentagon Bring Solar Hot Water to a Boil? With third-party finance, solar can give the military hot water, private sector buy-in, and budget cuts.

    Holiday Reading: Will the Pentagon Bring Solar Hot Water to a Boil? With third-party finance, solar can give the military hot water, private sector buy-in, and budget cuts.

    Herman K. Trabish, July 10, 2012 (Greentech Media)

    Eneref Institute, founded in the wake of the September 11 attacks to help shift the nation’s energy use, has recently taken up the cause of solar thermal and brought it to the Pentagon where, due to budget constraints, it has been well received. Yes, that is correct. Solar was well received by a military whose budget is being cut back.

    The phrase 'solar thermal' is generally used to mean solar water heating (SWH). The technology is much older than the more familiar photovoltaic (PV) solar, which generates electricity from the sun’s light. U.S. patents on SWH go back to the 1890s.

    But while PV is booming, the U.S. SWH industry is growing slowly. The U.S. is among the world’s leaders in most renewable technologies, but its SWH industry, though growing at 6 percent annually, according to recent SEPA statistics, had only 2.3 gigawatts-thermal installed capacity in 2010, while China had built 118 gigawatts-thermal and the world as a whole had built about 185 gigawatts-thermal.

    The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), urged on by Eneref Institute founder Seth Warren Rose’s advocacy and the drive to get excess costs out of its budget, is about to take a hand in moving U.S SWH forward, according to Holocene Energy CEO Ralph Thompson, an Eneref advisor.

    “There has been a problem with the solar thermal industry that the DOD is really anxious to help get sorted out,” Thompson explained. Eneref is coordinating between the Pentagon and the solar thermal industry “to get the right contractors and the right designers on the program.” An Eneref-organized, industry-funded group of SWH and solar heating and cooling (SHC) specialists is now working to have “a package of consensus standards and best practices” by the end of 2012.

    According to the group’s estimates, DOD hot water use (showers, food service, hospital, equipment maintenance, etc.) is at least 50 million to 100 million gallons per day (MGD) and SWH could meet 30 percent to 50 percent of that. It would require some 25,000 standard collectors of 1,000 square feet (KSF). A total of 20 percent of that (5,000 KSF per year) will be needed in the coming five years, according to the group, to meet the requirementsimposed on the Pentagon by executive orders.

    Building to meet such numbers would give the U.S. SWH industry the boost it needs to develop economies of scale and put it on cost-competitive ground with other water heating technologies, Thompson said. And “those numbers are very understated. The demand is far above the ten gallons per day. When we showed this to the military, they said they didn’t need to look any further because they agreed the actual number is a lot bigger.”

    Eneref’s claim that SWH could meet 30 percent to 50 percent of the military’s demand was guided, Thompson said, by the industry’s general rule that if a system is precisely designed and properly installed it will supply most of the hot water in the summer and perhaps 20 percent to 40 percent in the winter.

    Proper sizing, Skyline Innovations CEO Zach Axelrod recently told GTM, “is a factor of the customer’s load profile matched against the size of the system in terms of both collectors and storage. Those three things all work together.”

    “We’re designing these systems for the most effective combination of collection and use,” Thompson agreed. “For solar thermal, there are two defining characteristics. One is the amount of space you have on the roof. The other is the amount of space you have for storage in the basement.”

    What Holocene Energy, Skyline Innovations and other leaders in the solar thermal industryare working to make possible, Thompson said, is the pre-design of the most efficient system, the building of it in a manufacturing setting rather than at the project site, and a quick and therefore cost-effective delivery and installation.

    Achieving those things will be “a major factor moving the industry forward,” Thompson said, “that will cut costs of installation, improve the efficiency of the system, make its output more predictable, reduce the costs of maintenance and, ultimately, make SWH systems easier to finance.”

    By making SWH more finance-friendly, the industry can attract more of the third-party financing that companies like Holocene and Skyline have recently been winning. And by using private-sector money and contractors, the Pentagon can resolve pressures it has been getting from the White House and Congress to make budget cuts.

    “The U.S. military wants to do this at Veterans Administration [facilities] and military posts,” Thompson explained, “because these assets are not going to be in their budgets. We can own and operate them and sell them the energy at competitive rates.”

    The Pentagon is “looking now at how to structure these finance deals for solar thermal,” Thompson said. “But the DOD wants an industry that can say, ‘We can install this for these types of costs, with this kind of economic benefit, and we know the system is going to work.’ It is about how we get our costs down, how we get our reliability up, how we make sure we have qualified people doing the work and how we finance these projects. One of them is not the answer. All of them are the answer.”

    0 Comments:

    Post a Comment

    << Home

    *