NewEnergyNews: QUICK NEWS, December 18: AFTER THE STORM, BRINGING SOLAR HOME; FEDS BACK GREAT LAKES WIND; THE EMERGING WIRELESS CAR CHARGING MARKET

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

THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, July 31:

  • TTTA Thursday-HOPE EMERGES IN THE CLIMATE FIGHT
  • TTTA Thursday-NEW ENERGY CHEAPER, CLEANER THAT NUKES, CLEAN COAL
  • TTTA Thursday-ARIZONA UTILITY PROPOSES ROOFTOP SOLAR LEASING BUSINESS PLAN
  • TTTA Thursday-ENORMOUS NEW ENERGY IN THE GULF STREAM
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: HOW BIOFUELS CAN BE IMPORTANT NEW ENERGY
  • QUICK NEWS, July 30: SOLAR AND UTILITIES SHAPE EACH OTHER; ‘HIDDEN’ WIND COSTS DWARFED BY ‘HIDDEN’ FOSSIL COSTS; GM’S RUN FOR THE 200 MILE CHARGE
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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

  • THE STUDY: A CHRONICLE OF EXTREME CLIMATE IMPACTS
  • QUICK NEWS, July 29: OFFICIAL FORECASTS OVERLOOK NEW ENERGY; NEW ENERGY NEEDS NEW TRANSMISSION; BRITISH COLUMBIA EMISSIONS TAX SUCCEEDING
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: MORE AND SMARTER MEDIA COVERAGE OF CLIMATE CHANGE IN 2014
  • QUICK NEWS, July 28: CLIMATE SKEPTICS REACHING ‘CATASTROPHIC’ NUMBERS; THE COST OF THE EPA EMISSIONS CUTS; GEOTHERMAL DRILL SKILL ADVANCES
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • Weekend Video: John Oliver On Visiting Antarctica
  • Weekend Video: Warmest May And June Ever And Non-Stop Record Heat
  • Weekend Video: Meet The Microgrid
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE- STAR WARS PLANET TATOOINE’S CLIMATE CHANGE
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-BIG NEW THREAT TO CLIMATE FROM COAL-TO-GAS IN CHINA
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-INDIA VILLAGE OF 2,400 GOES 100% SOLAR WITH BATTERIES, MICROGRID
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-GERMANY IS WORLD’S MOST EFFICIENT MAJOR ECONOMY
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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, December 18, 2012

    QUICK NEWS, December 18: AFTER THE STORM, BRINGING SOLAR HOME; FEDS BACK GREAT LAKES WIND; THE EMERGING WIRELESS CAR CHARGING MARKET

    AFTER THE STORM, BRINGING SOLAR HOME Solar Panels for Every Home

    David Crane and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., December 12, 2012 (NY Times)

    “…Residents of New Jersey and New York have lived through three major storms in the past 16 months, suffering through sustained blackouts, closed roads and schools, long gas lines and disrupted lives, all caused by the destruction of our electric system. When our power industry is unable to perform its most basic mission of supplying safe, affordable and reliable power, we need to ask whether it is really sensible to run the 21st century by using an antiquated and vulnerable system of copper wires and wooden poles.

    “…[P]ortable gas-powered generators…[are] dirty, noisy and expensive…[and] have no value outside of a power failure. And they’re not much help during a failure if gasoline is impossible to procure…[W]e believe there is a better way to secure grid independence for our homes and businesses…Solar photovoltaic technology can significantly reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and our dependence on the grid. Electricity-producing photovoltaic panels installed on houses, on the roofs of warehouses and big box stores and over parking lots can be wired so that they deliver power when the grid fails.”

    “Solar panels have dropped in price by 80 percent in the past five years and can provide electricity at a cost that is at or below the current retail cost of grid power in 20 states, including many of the Northeast states…[but] the investor-owned utilities that depend on the existing system for their profits have little economic interest in promoting a technology that empowers customers…[and] state regulatory agencies and local governments impose burdensome permitting and siting requirements that unnecessarily raise installation costs [25 percent to 30 percent]…a higher percentage of the overall cost than the solar equipment…

    “…More than one million Germans [with streamlined permitting] have installed solar panels on their roofs. Australia also has a streamlined permitting process and has solar panels on 10 percent of its homes. Solar photovoltaic power would give America the potential to challenge the utility monopolies, democratize energy generation…transform millions of homes and small businesses into energy generators..[and] energy entrepreneur…create millions of domestic jobs…[cut the nation’s emissions…[A]s we rebuild the tens of thousands of houses and commercial buildings damaged and destroyed by the storm, let’s incorporate solar power arrays and other clean energy technologies…[and wire them] so they still are generating even when the centralized grid system is down…All we need is the political will.”

    FEDS BACK GREAT LAKES WIND Lake Erie Wind Turbine Project, ‘Icebreaker,’ Wins $5 Million in New Funding; $4 Million Awarded by U.S. Department of Energy Plus $1 Million Private Cost Share

    December 12, 2012 (Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation)

    “The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced today $5 million in new funding for Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo), the non-profit corporation leading the effort for the first freshwater offshore wind project in the nation…[T]he DOE has committed $4 million to support the advancement of the offshore wind energy project known as “Icebreaker”, which consists of five to nine wind turbines seven miles off the coast of Cleveland in Lake Erie. LEEDCo’s private partners committed an additional $1 million in cost share as part of the agreement.

    “‘Icebreaker’ is one of only seven offshore wind energy projects that DOE awarded [up to $180 million over the next five years]…and the only one in the Great Lakes…[They] will help address key challenges associated with installing utility-scale offshore wind turbines, connecting offshore turbines to the power grid, and navigating new permitting and approval processes…’Icebreaker’ could potentially receive an additional $46.7 million in federal funding…”

    “Among LEEDCo’s winning development team…[along with] Case Western Reserve University, McMahon DeGulis, Freshwater Wind. Siemens, and DNV KEMA…[W]ith the recently completed 1000 MW London Array, Siemens has now supplied the world’s largest, in addition to the world’s first, offshore projects. The company holds 80 percent of the offshore market share in Europe and recently contracted to deliver 300 of its new 6 MW turbines to leading offshore wind farm developer Dong Energy.

    “…McMahon DeGulis’ expertise in renewable energy permitting helped LEEDCo to advance through the regulatory processes. CWRU has studied ice and wind data at the Cleveland water intake crib since 2005…DNV KEMA has conducted project certification and design verification for 44 offshore wind projects globally…LEEDCo and its development team will compete among the seven DOE award winners…for the additional $46.7 million…[Three] will receive additional funding…”

    THE EMERGING WIRELESS CAR CHARGING MARKET Wireless Charging Systems for Electric Vehicles

    4Q 2012 (Pike Research/Navigant)

    “During the past few years, wireless charging for electric vehicles (EVs) has appeared to be mainly a promising technology with no viable market. In the last 6 to 12 months, however, these factors have begun to shift…

    “…Nearly all of the major EV manufacturers have announced partnerships to develop wireless charging systems and there are signs that such systems, installed at the factory or added at the dealership, could become a market differentiator for EV models.”

    “The deployment of wireless EV charging systems is directly tied to the growth of…[the EV and wireless power markets]…Many trials with OEM vehicles have started up in 2012, and at least one vendor – Evatran, which markets its products under the marque “Plugless Power” – intends to bring a system to market in the first half of 2013…

    “…Pike Research forecasts that wireless charging equipment for light duty vehicle sales will grow by a CAGR of 91% from 2013 to 2020, as wireless systems move from a retrofit technology to an integrated part of new EVs, reaching annual sales of 283,000 units in 2020…”

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