NewEnergyNews: QUICK NEWS, December 19: RAPIDLY RISING DISTRIBUTED RENEWABLES; U.S. OFFSHORE WIND TO GROW SLOWLY; SMART METERS COMING ON

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

  • Weekend Video: Much More Inhofe Now
  • Weekend Video: Jon Stewart Talks Keystone, Politics, And Jobs
  • Weekend Video: Jon Stewart On How Keystone Opponents May Be Caught In Their Own Trap
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • 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
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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

    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
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • 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
  • AND 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
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • 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
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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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  • Wednesday, December 19, 2012

    QUICK NEWS, December 19: RAPIDLY RISING DISTRIBUTED RENEWABLES; U.S. OFFSHORE WIND TO GROW SLOWLY; SMART METERS COMING ON

    RAPIDLY RISING DISTRIBUTED RENEWABLES Renewable Distributed Energy Generation Installations Will Reach Nearly $86 Billion in Market Value by 2017

    December 12, 2012 (Pike Research/Navigant)

    “Renewable distributed energy generation (RDEG) technologies, which contrast sharply with the traditional centralized utility model of large-scale power generation, represent a growing opportunity for the electric power industry. Worldwide, utility companies, investors, and policymakers are testing programs and business models to support this industry…

    “…According to a recent report from Pike Research…the RDEG market will grow from less than $69 billion in market value in 2012 to nearly $86 billion in 2017…[but] will require the evolution of both technologies and business practices…”

    “The new RDEG model and traditional, centralized systems are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and the former is still in its early stages. RDEG installations today represent less than 1 percent of total electricity generating capacity installed worldwide…[but in many places,] RDEG technologies are more cost-effective than centralized installations that require transmission to population centers…

    “…Europe will continue to be the largest market for RDEG during the 2012-2017 forecast period, with most countries expected to hit their renewable energy targets, the study finds, but Asia Pacific, led by China, will grow the fastest as untapped domestic markets for RDEG installations emerge.”

    U.S. OFFSHORE WIND TO GROW SLOWLY Report: U.S. Offshore Wind Energy Progress Expected To Be 'Lackluster' Through 2016

    17 December 2012 (North American Windpower)

    “Offshore wind energy installations are expected to achieve a compound annual growth rate of 44% between 2011 and 2016, with 18 GW of installations expected by the end of that period, according to a new analysis from MAKE Consulting. Much of that growth can be attributed to favorable policy in Europe and China…Europe will [account] for 62% of total installations in the 2011-2016 period…77% will be driven by Germany and the U.K…striving toward their ambitious 2020 offshore wind targets of 18 GW and 10 GW, respectively.

    “…[T]he Asia Pacific region is expected to install 6.6 GW of offshore wind through 2016, representing 36% of the global offshore wind energy market. Although China will remain the largest offshore wind market in the Asia Pacific, the emergence of South Korea, Vietnam and Taiwan will supplement growth during that period…[P]rogress in the U.S. is expected to be lackluster, due to low gas and electricity prices, an ample onshore resource and weak political commitment to renewables…”

    “Offshore wind asset ownership will remain dominated by European utilities and developers, with Vattenfall and DONG Energy leading the way…MAKE expects increasing interest in asset ownership from the financial sector. Pension funds and insurance companies are attracted to the sector due to the return expectations of new developments relative to other asset classes, as well as the improving risk profile of offshore wind, as the industry matures. China Three Gorges, Guodian and Marubeni are the top Asian offshore wind asset owners…

    “Lowering the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) will be key to supporting future offshore wind energy growth…[T]he current LCOE range for offshore wind is 120-180 euros/MWh, with most assets around 140-160 euros/MWh…The report estimates that larger turbines with resultant fewer cables and foundations mean that capital costs could drop by nearly 17%, and the LCOE could drop by 20% by the end of the decade, toward 115-120 euros/MWh…[T]ransmission infrastructure build-out is another challenge…”

    SMART METERS COMING ON Worldwide Smart Meter Shipments Surpass 15.4 Million Units in 3Q 2012, According to IDC Energy Insights; Cellular AMI Communications Will Present Growth Opportunity Through 2016

    December 10, 2012

    “Worldwide smart meter shipments surpassed 15.4 million units in the third quarter of 2012 (3Q12), representing year-over-year growth of 126.9% and a 58.6% increase over the second quarter, according to the IDC Energy Insights Worldwide Quarterly Smart Meter Tracker…Growth was observed across all regions except for the Americas…Latin and South America remain promising, but scale projects have not yet emerged to replace the decline in North American shipments.

    “The Asia/Pacific region grew at an astonishing rate of 516.8% year over year and 142.02% sequentially. Much of this growth can be attributed to China; Chinese utilities are beginning to equip meters deployed under previous metering tenders with communications. The Asia/Pacific region will remain a source of growth for the smart metering industry in coming years as Japan, Korea, Oceana and even South and Southeast Asia begin to ramp up advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) deployments.”

    “…[T] he Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region exhibited growth of 54.5% year over year and 8.5% sequentially…well below the expectations set by previous regulatory targets…[T]he AMI industry is becoming increasingly frustrated with Europe…[but] there are no indications that meter shipments will pick up significantly before 2014…

    “…[G]rowth of cellular AMI communications [is speeding up]…[It]will reach 17% of smart meter shipments in the more mature metering markets of Europe and North America by 2016, up from less than 8% in 2012…[M]any of the basic metering upgrades underway in Asia/Pacific and other emerging markets are likely to deploy power line communications (PLC)…[H]igh bandwidth networks have also been deployed…3G and 4G-WiMax utility networks deployed in Australia are currently being utilized as common infrastructure for metering and distribution monitoring and control…[but] may eventually be displaced by FTTP (fiber-to-the-premises) through the Australian National Broadband Network...”

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