- NewEnergyNews: QUICK NEWS, December 24: FIVE CORPORATE TRENDS TOWARD NEW ENERGY; LEARN WHAT ENERGIEWENDE MEANS; THE FALL OF COAL

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, Oct. 30:

  • TTTA Thursday-HOW TO TALK TO CLIMATE CHANGE DENIERS
  • TTTA Thursday-WIND AT STAKE IN THE ELECTION
  • TTTA Thursday-THE AESTHETICS OF SOLAR
  • TTTA Thursday-EV MRKT TO MORE THAN DOUBLE BY 2023
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: THE DIFFERENT WAYS TO MAKE THE TRANSITION TO NEW ENERGY
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 29: WIND MAY TIP KANSAS ELECTION; YOUNG VOTERS BRING NEW ENERGY; GREEN BUILDINGS BOOMING
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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: THE AFFORDABILITY OF THE NEW ENERGY TRANSITION
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 28: WIND BOOMS AS ‘MOST AFFORDABLE ENERGY OPTION’; OBSTACLES AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR BIG SOLAR; GEOTHERMAL COMING BACK
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: THE HEALTH IN EMISSIONS CUTS
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 27: NEW ENERGY OVER 40% OF U.S. NEW BUILD IN 2014; EMPLOYEE BENEFITS NOW INCLUDE SOLAR; WIND BRINGS JOBS TO MICHIGAN
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • Weekend Video: Talking With The Redwoods
  • Weekend Video: Evangelicals Confront Climate Change
  • Weekend Video: Living The Platinum Rule: Making The Best Invention Of All Time Better
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE- EU UPS THE WORLD’S BAR ON EMISSIONS CUT TARGETS
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-FIRST BIG MOROCCO SOLAR NEAR POWERING UP
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-NORTH SEA WIND-HYDRO INTERLINK TO GROW
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-TURKISH GEOTHERMAL GETS INTELLIGENT
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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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  • Monday, December 24, 2012

    QUICK NEWS, December 24: FIVE CORPORATE TRENDS TOWARD NEW ENERGY; LEARN WHAT ENERGIEWENDE MEANS; THE FALL OF COAL

    FIVE CORPORATE TRENDS TOWARD NEW ENERGY 5 Energy Trends That Will Impact Your Business In 2013

    Brian O’Connell, December 21, 2012 (Forbes)

    “…[M]ore and more executives are locked in on the energy market and are promising to leverage that market to improve sustainability at their firms…[According to A New Era of Sustainability from Accenture and the UN Global Compact] 93% of the 766 CEOs surveyed say that energy sustainability is either ‘important’ or ‘very important.’ …100% of CEOs in the automotive and consumer sectors view sustainability as ‘critical’ to their success…

    “…[1…High prices] are triggering a broader re-evaluation process among CEOs going into 2013…[2…A clear majority of CEOs say their renewable energy purchases will rise] over the next five years. To fight back against higher energy prices, those CEOs intend to explore cheaper renewable energy…[3…Company-Generated Energy Will Rise]…51% of CEOs in [an] Ernst & Young study said company-owned renewable energy resources would increase, and 16% claimed that it would ‘significantly increase.’…”

    “…[4…Commercial Buildings Going Green]…More buildings, manufacturing plants and office complexes in the U.S. are going ‘green,’ or at least heading that way…20% of the annual energy consumption in the U.S. is linked to commercial buildings…[and] the federal government is offering big financial incentives to companies to ‘retrofit’ their buildings and make them more energy efficient. The goal is to cut U.S commercial building energy output by 20% by 2020…[5…Natural Gas Over Oil]… With demand for oil slowing across the globe, especially in emerging market countries like China and India, oil prices should rise significantly in 2013. But huge stores of natural gas, especially a burgeoning shale gas supply in the U.S., make natural gas a cheaper…

    “…Expect CEOs to steer energy budget resources away from pricey oil and toward inexpensive natural gas. That’s especially true given the U.S…Typically, natural gas is about 10 times less expensive than crude oil. But these days, it’s trading 35 times cheaper…While that ratio may not be sustainable, high natural gas inventories should keep prices down for 2013…”

    LEARN WHAT ENERGIEWENDE MEANS Book of the Year: Clean Break, the Story of Germany's Energy Transformation -- and What Americans Can Learn From It

    Jeff Biggers, December 20, 2012 (Huffington Post)

    “Energiewende might be the most important German word to ever enter our American vocabulary…[J]ournalist Osha Davidson's riveting [inspiring and downright revelatory] new ebook, Clean Break: The Story of Germany's Energy Transformation -- and What Americans Can Learn From It, the story of Germany's Energiewende or power shift [away from nuclear power and coal to New Energy’will hopefully [make it] a driving part of our own energy lexicon…

    “...Written with the skill and intrigue of an investigative journalist tracking down a mystery, [Germany’s journey to a clean energy future unfolds with the verve of a page-turning bildungsroman, with all the facts and figures to lay out a roadmap…Davidson takes us on a fact-finding journey to Germany's corridors of power -- from politics to the prairies to the Black Forest -- to understand how Europe's most important industrial power has managed to meet such an ambitious plan for renewable energy production…”

    “…Davidson presents some basic tenets of any plans for a power shift in our own dirty energy ways…Germany's plan is not infallible, of course, nor is it alone in its goal to operate on 80 percent renewable power by 2050 -- Scotland recently announced its intention to become 100 percent renewable by 2020.

    “But as Davidson expertly shows, Germany's Energiewende demonstrates that the issue of climate change and transitioning off dirty fossil fuels should no longer be seen as ‘a problem,’ as one analysts explains, but a ‘task’ to be accomplished…Clean Break is a huge leap in making that task a vital part of our American energy policy.”

    THE FALL OF COAL 2012: After Repeated Losses, Coal Industry Continues Downward Spiral; One Coal Plant Retired Each Week in 2012

    December 20, 2012 (Sierra Club)

    Over the past twelve months, the nationwide campaign to phase out coal burning in the United States continued to win victories from coast to coast, including securing dozens of coal plant retirements and record investments in wind and solar…[An unprecedented coalition including Sierra Club and more than a hundred local, regional and national organizations has helped to secure the largest drop in U.S. coal burning ever] in 2012 as its market share fell and stock prices tanked…

    0 new coal plants broke ground – the third year in a row that the campaign prevented any new coal plants from starting construction…0 new coal export facilities broke ground in the Pacific Northwest…13 proposed coal plants abandoned or defeated…54 coal plants retired or announced to retire, with a grand total of 126 coal plants announced for retirement since January 2010…18,789 megawatts of coal retired or announced to retire, with a grand total of 46,904 megawatts retired or announced to retire since January 2010…”

    “…1,992 megwatts of solar power installed as of September 2012 – bringing the total amount of solar operating in the U.S. to 5,900 megawatts…4,728 megawatts of wind power installed through Sept 2012 – an increase of 40 percent from Sept 2011. In total there is now 51,630 megawatts of wind power operating in the US…12 million homes – about 10 percent of the country – could be powered by the amount of solar and wind generated in the first nine months of 2012 alone…13,872 workers added to the solar industry in 2012 – a growth of 13.2 percent over 2011…

    “8 percent decrease in overall electric sector carbon dioxide emissions – a twenty year low in US carbon emissions – mainly due to a decline in coal-fired generation…38 percent of overall electricity generation provided by coal through September 2012, a historic decline from 50 percent less than five years ago…10,000+ citizens turned out to oppose new coal export facilities in the Northwest…1,773,027 emails and comments sent calling on EPA and national leaders to curb coal plant pollution and invest in clean energy…”

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