NewEnergyNews: TODAY’S STUDY: THE RICHES OF KANSAS WIND

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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    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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  • Tuesday, December 04, 2012

    TODAY’S STUDY: THE RICHES OF KANSAS WIND

    The Economic Benefits of Kansas Wind Energy

    Alan Claus Anderson, Britton Gibson, Scott W. White, Ph.D. Luke Hagedorn, November 19, 2012 (Polsinelli Shugharand and Kansas Energy Action Network)

    Executive Summary

    Overview

    In the last decade, numerous wind energy generation projects spanning the state of Kansas have come online. While it is clear that the nineteen wind energy projects currently in operation and under construction in Kansas have significantly impacted the Kansas economy at the local, county and state levels, specific data about the actual economic impacts generated by these projects is not readily available. This report provides empirical, factual data based upon reports and actual experiences of Kansas citizens, utilities, and project developers. The report then seeks to compare that empirical data against non-partisan academic studies of the potential economic impacts of wind generation for state and local economies.

    Key Findings

    The key findings of this report are as follows:

    1. New Kansas wind generation is cost-effective when compared to other sources of new intermittent or peaking electricity generation.

    Dockets filed for recently built utility energy projects indicate that wind projects are providing Kansas utilities with cheaper power per megawatt-hour (“MWh”) than other forms of intermittent or peaking electricity generation, including natural gas. As a result, the impact on electricity rates for retail customers for new wind generation is roughly equivalent to, or often less than, the rate impact that would be caused by other forms of new generation.

    2. Wind generation is an important part of a well-designed electricity generation portfolio, and provides a hedge against future cost volatility of fossil fuels.

    Wind generation is not intended to be a substitute for coal or natural gas generation, but instead plays an important role in balancing a utility’s load demands and offsetting volatile fuel costs. Because the bulk of wind generation costs are paid upfront (or set at a predetermined rate for the life of the project in the case of wind power purchased through a power purchase agreement), utilities use wind generation to introduce known costs into their long-term portfolios to hedge against the future cost volatility of fossil fuels.

    3. Wind generation has created a substantial number of jobs for Kansas citizens.

    Based upon empirical data from each of the Kansas wind farms and economic studies conducted by third-party sources, Kansas wind generation has created a significant number of jobs for Kansas citizens.

    4. Wind generation has created significant positive impact for Kansas landowners and local economies.

    Empirical data from each of the Kansas wind farms and economic studies conducted by nonpartisan sources indicate that Kansas wind generation has created the following additional economic impacts for the state:

    5. The Kansas Renewable Portfolio Standard is an important economic development tool for attracting new businesses to the state.

    Sustainability is an increasingly important factor to companies looking to locate new facilities and the RPS is the most visible symbol to companies evaluating a state’s commitment to sustainability. Should the RPS be eliminated, or reduced to a non-material level, a similarly clear negative message would be sent to those companies that include sustainability as a factor in site selection.

    Introduction

    In May of 2009, Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson signed into law a piece of comprehensive energy legislation, Senate Bill 108, the Economic Revitalization and Reinvestment Act. One of the provisions in that legislation enacted a Renewable Portfolio Standard (“RPS”) for the state of Kansas, stating “the nation’s energy challenge provides the opportunities for a ‘made in America’ energy program, and Kansas is ready to be a leader in that effort. I look forward to the new jobs, more wind power, and the stronger economy that will be a result of this legislation.”

    Now, three years into the RPS program, Kansas has capitalized on its access to one of the best energy resources in the country to develop an important wind industry in the state. The nineteen wind projects currently in operation or under construction and the direct and indirect manufacturing jobs that have come to Kansas have created thousands of jobs for Kansans, and encouraged investments of hundreds of millions of dollars in local economies.

    Unfortunately, very few studies have been conducted that provide an accurate, empirical analysis of the true economic impacts of the wind industry on the Kansas local, county and state economies. This report endeavors to answer some of the fundamental questions that will be raised as Kansas maps out its future energy goals:

    1.) What is the actual cost of new wind generation as compared to similar new generationfrom other resources?

    2.) How many jobs does the Kansas wind industry create?

    3.) What are the economic impacts for landowners that site wind projects on their property?

    4.) What are the economic impacts for local and county governments that host wind projects?

    5.) What is the value of the Renewable Portfolio Standard for Kansas beyond the power generated for Kansas utilities?

    In order to help facilitate thoughtful policy discussions about these issues, this report analyzes the ample data that has been provided by the wind energy projects across the state, as well as various academic and economic analyses of the impacts that wind generation can provide for state and local economies, in order to determine the actual benefits that Kansas wind generation has brought to the Kansas economy…

    Primer On Kansas’ Wind Resource

    In order to understand the current status of the wind industry in Kansas and its impact on the state economy, it is necessary to first understand why Kansas is uniquely positioned to reap its extraordinary wind resource.

    Kansas’ Abundant Wind Resource

    Kansas enjoys one of the best wind resources in the world, ranking between first and third among the states in terms of total wind capacity.2 To quantify this resource, wind speed measurements are taken at several heights that reflect typical wind tower hub heights: 50 meters, 80 meters, and 100 meters. As Figure 1 below illustrates, at 50 meters most of western Kansas has access to “Class 4” winds, with wind speeds ranging from 7.5 to 8.1 meters per second, with a number of additional locations reaching “Class 5” status, with wind speeds ranging from 8.1 to 8.6 meters per second.

    To understand how Kansas’ access to wind compares to other states across the country, it is necessary to consult Figure 2 below, which illustrates the wind speeds at a height of 50 meters for the entire United States.

    …Kansas is well positioned in America’s “Wind Belt.” This geographic advantage means that Kansas has access to a robust renewable energy source that few other states share. Kansas and its neighboring Plains states have access to one of the best wind resources in the United States. As Figure 3 below shows, the electrical transmission grid in the U.S. is broken into three distinct electrical interconnections: ERCOT, which serves most of Texas, the Western Interconnect, which serves all states west of the Colorado-Kansas state-line, and the Eastern Interconnect. With new transmission projects in the works to alleviate bottlenecks in the grid (See Section C.1 below), Kansas is in a prime position to export power from its excellent wind resource.

    Prior to 2012, Kansas ranked ninth among states in terms of operational wind energy. Building on this success, Kansas has led the nation in new wind energy construction in 2012, with an anticipated operational wind energy capacity of approximately 2,714 MW by the end of 2012…

    Conclusion

    Kansas is fortunate to be in a position to truly be a leader in an “all-the-above” energy strategy and, while there have been some attempts to guess at the impact of what wind energy development has done and will continue to do for the Kansas economy, there had not been a good study evaluating the data as to what has actually happened. Fortunately, because the Kansas utilities have embraced wind energy generation as a valuable component of their energy portfolios and made significant strides towards accomplishing the state’s RPS goal of twenty percent renewable energy by the year 2020, the data that is required to do this economic analysis is now publicly available.

    Based upon empirical data from the wind energy projects currently operating and under construction in the state, we can make the following conclusions:

    1.) New Kansas wind generation is cost-effective when compared to other sources of new electricity generation, as substantiated by the public reports filed by the utilities with the KCC.

    2.) Wind generation is an important part of a well-designed electricity generation portfolio, and provides a hedge against future cost volatility of fossil fuels.

    3.) Wind energy generation has provided a substantial number of jobs for Kansas citizens, and provides important economic benefits for landowners and local economies.

    4.) The Kansas Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) is an important economic development tool for attracting new businesses to the state.

    It is the authors’ objective to facilitate thoughtful policy discussions about these issues, as they will remain important to Kansas now and in the years to come.

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