NewEnergyNews: 01/01/2012 - 02/01/2012

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, Sept. 18:

  • TTTA Thursday-THE WORLD HAS 15 YEARS TO DO THE RIGHT THINGS
  • TTTA Thursday-WIND MAKES THE GRID MORE RELIABLE
  • TTTA Thursday-SOLAR OIL DRILLING
  • TTTA Thursday-A SPORTS CAR THAT RUNS ON SALT-WATER
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: THE GREEN TRANSITION – MONEY KEEPS COMING TO NEW ENERGY
  • QUICK NEWS, Sept. 17: THE NEWEST NUMBERS ON BIRDS AND WIND; BIG SOLAR COMES TO THE SOUTHEAST; WHERE THE EV CUTS EMISSIONS MOST
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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 BENEFITS OF PUMPED HYDRO STORAGE CALCULATED
  • QUICK NEWS, Sept. 16: THE ENERGY TRANSITION TAKES SHAPE; A LABOR-ENVIRO CALL FOR NEW ENERGY, NEW WIRES; ADVANCES IN WATER POWER
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: RENEWABLES IN THE COMING ARAB WORLD
  • QUICK NEWS, Sept. 15: SOLAR SUCCEEDING ON PRICE; EVEN MORE WIND THAT HONDA EXPECTED; THE HUGE UNRECOGNIZED BENEFITS OF EFFICIENCY
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • Weekend Video: Climate Change For The Birds
  • Weekend Video: The Evidence Mounts
  • Weekend Video: Colbert On Birds And Climate Change
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-NOW CO2 TOO HIGH FOR PLANTS AND OCEANS TO ABSORB
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-NEW ENERGY IS THE WORLD’S BEST OPTION
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-SWEDEN WINNING SCANDINAVIAN WIND RACE
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-INDIA DISPLAYS SOLAR'S VERSATILITY
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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, January 31, 2012

    TODAY’S STUDY: U.S. TIDAL ENERGY POTENTIAL

    Assessment of Energy Production Potential from Tidal Streams in the United States
    June 29, 2011 (Georgia Tech Research Corporation)

    Executive Summary

    Tidal stream energy is one of the alternative energy sources that are renewable and clean. With the constantly increasing effort in promoting alternative energy, tidal streams have become one of the more promising energy sources due to their continuous, predictable and spatially-concentrated characteristics. However, the present lack of a full spatial-temporal assessment of tidal currents for the U.S. coastline down to the scale of individual devices is a barrier to the comprehensive development of tidal current energy technology. This project created a national database of tidal stream energy potential, as well as a GIS tool usable by industry in order to accelerate the market for tidal energy conversion technology.

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    Tidal currents are numerically modeled with the Regional Ocean Modeling System and calibrated with the available measurements of tidal current speed and water level surface. The performance of the model in predicting the tidal currents and water levels is assessed with an independent validation. The geodatabase is published at a public domain via a spatial database engine and interactive tools to select, query and download the data are provided. Regions with the maximum of the average kinetic power density larger than 500 W/m2 (corresponding to a current speed of ~1 m/s), surface area larger than 0.5 km2 and depth larger than 5 m are defined as hotspots and list of hotspots along the USA coast is documented. The results of the regional assessment show that the state of Alaska (AK) contains the largest number of locations with considerably high kinetic power density, and is followed by, Maine (ME), Washington (WA), Oregon (OR), California (CA), New Hampshire (NH), Massachusetts (MA), New York (NY), New Jersey (NJ), North and South Carolina (NC, SC), Georgia (GA), and Florida (FL). The average tidal stream power density at some of these locations can be larger than 8 kW/m2 with surface areas on the order of few hundred kilometers squared, and depths larger than 100 meters. The Cook Inlet in AK is found to have a substantially large tidal stream power density sustained over a very large area.

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    Background

    Tidal streams are high velocity sea currents created by periodic horizontal movement of the tides, often magnified by local topographical features such as headlands, inlets to inland lagoons, and straits. As tides ebb and flow, currents are often generated in coastal waters. In many places the shape of the seabed forces water to flow through narrow channels, or around headlands. Tidal stream energy extraction is derived from the kinetic energy of the moving flow; analogous to the way a wind turbine operates in air, and as such differs from tidal barrages, which create a head of water for energy extraction. A tidal stream energy converter extracts and converts the mechanical energy in the current into a transmittable energy form. A variety of conversion devices are currently being proposed or are under active development, from a water turbine similar to a scaled wind turbine, driving a generator via a gearbox, to an oscillating hydrofoil which drives a hydraulic motor.

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    Tidal energy is one of the fastest growing emerging technologies in the renewable sector and is set to make a major contribution to carbon free energy generation.. The key advantage of tidal streams is the deterministic and precise energy production forecast governed by astronomy. In addition, the predictable slack water facilitates deployment and maintenance. In 2005, EPRI was first to study representative sites (Knik Arm, AK; Tacoma Narrows, WA; Golden Gate, CA; Muskeget Channel, MA; Western Passage, ME) without mapping the resources (EPRI, 2006g). Additional favorable sites exist in Puget Sound, New York, Connecticut, Cook Inlet, Southeast Alaska, and the Aleutian Islands among others. Besides large scale power production, tidal streams may serve as local and reliable energy sources for remote and dispersed coastal communities and islands. The extractable resource is not completely known; assuming 15% level of extraction, EPRI has documented 16 TWh/yr in Alaska, 0.6 TWh/yr in Puget Sound, and 0.4 TWh/yr in CA, MA, and ME (EPRI 2006b-f). The selection of location for a tidal stream energy converter farm is made upon assessment of a number of criteria:
    Tidal current velocity and flow rate: the direction, speed and volume of water passing through the site in space and time.

    click to enlarge

    Other site characteristics: bathymetry, water depth, geology of the seabed and environmental impacts will determine the deployment method needed and the cost of installation.

    Electrical grid connection and local cost of electricity: the seafloor cable distance from the proposed site to a grid access point and the cost of competing sources of electricity will also help determine the viability of an installation.

    Following the guidelines in the EPRI report for estimating tidal current energy resources (EPRI 2006a), preliminary investigations of the tidal currents can be conducted based on the tidal current predictions provided by NOAA tidal current stations (NOAA, 2008b). There are over 2700 of these stations which are sparsely distributed in inlets, rivers, channels and bays. The gauge stations are concentrated along navigation channels, harbors and rivers but widely absent elsewhere along the coast. As an example, the maximum powers at some of these locations around the Savannah River on the coast of Georgia are shown in Figure 1. The kinetic tidal power per unit area, power density, given in this figure were calculated using the equation where ρis the density of water and V is the magnitude of the depth averaged maximum velocity.

    click to enlarge

    These tidal currents and therefore the available power per unit area can have significant spatial variability (Figure 1); therefore, measurements (or predictions) of currents at one location are generally a poor indicator of conditions at another location, even nearby. It is clear that the majority of the data is available along the navigation channel in the Savannah River, with sparse data within the rest of the tidal area. EPRI (2006a) suggest a methodology using continuity and the Bernoulli equation for determining the flow in different sections of a channel. This is a reasonable approach for flow along a geometrically simple channel, but is not applicable for the flow in the complex network of rivers and creeks along much of the US coastline. Thus we have applied a state-ofthe-art numerical model for simulating the tidal flows along the coast of the entire United States…

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    Total theoretical available power estimates

    The published maps and the database provide the distribution of the existing kinetic power density of tidal streams in the undisturbed flow conditions. These results do not include any technology assumptions or flow field effects as in the case of device arrays. In order to calculate a theoretical upper bound based on physics only, a simplified method that considers both the kinetic and potential power with the exclusion of any technology specific assumptions is applied. The details of the method is outlined in a recent paper (Garrett and Cummins, 2005). The power calculated with this method is used in estimating the tidal power potential for the entire country with a specific value for each state. The method uses undisturbed flow field from the model with simple analytical methods, accounts for the cumulative effect of dissipating energy and provides information on an estuary scale.
    Considering a constricted channel connecting two large bodies of water in which the tides at both ends are assumed to be unaffected by the currents through the channel, a general formula gives the maximum average power as between 20 and 24% of the peak tidal pressure head times the peak of the undisturbed mass flux through the channel. This maximum average power is independent of the location of the turbine fences along the channel…

    This upper bound on the available power ignores losses associated with turbine operation and assumes that turbines are deployed in uniform fences, with all the water passing through the turbines at each fence.

    This method is applied to the locations bounded between two land masses and has locally increased tidal current speed along the United States coast. A list of these locations grouped by state is given in Table 6. The list displays the coordinates and the name of each location (i.e. the midpoint) together with the width, mean/maximum of the constriction and the total theoretical available power. The totals are given for each state and for the entire country. Once again, Alaska with a total of 47GW constitutes the largest piece of the national total of 50 GW. Cook Inlet has the largest average maximum available power of 18 GW (Figure A22) closely followed by Chatham Strait with 12 GW (Figure A20). Alaska is stands out as an abundant resource of tidal stream…

    QUICK NEWS, January 31: NEW PROOF OF CHINA’S SUN PRICE GAMING; CHINA’S VIEW ON TURBINE TOWER PRICE GAMING; BIG BUCKS IN SMART GRID SECURITY

    NEW PROOF OF CHINA’S SUN PRICE GAMING
    SolarWorld: Import Surge Shows Tariff Evasion By Chinese Solar Producers
    Jessica Lillian, 27 January 2012 (Solar Industry)

    "SolarWorld and its partners in the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM) have unearthed new PV module import data that, according to the coalition, proves that Chinese solar producers flooded the market with product at the end of 2011. The CASM believes this information warrants the application of retroactive duties on Chinese imports.

    "SolarWorld filed its initial anti-dumping complaint and countervailing-duty petition last fall, claiming that low-priced crystalline silicon (c-Si) PV cells and modules from Chinese companies have violated international trade laws and harmed U.S.-based solar manufacturing…The International Trade Commission (ITC) made a preliminary determination last December that there is a ‘reasonable indication’ that Chinese manufacturers' practices are detrimental to the domestic solar industry…[The new CASM analysis] found that Chinese c-Si producers have more than doubled their imports into the U.S. since July 2011. This surge, the coalition says, constitutes ‘critical circumstances’ (as defined by the U.S. Department of Commerce) and justifies the implementation of tariffs on imports dating back to Nov. 15…[A decision on that is due] Feb. 15."


    click thru for more info

    "Suntech…increased its imports into the U.S. by 76% in November, compared to October…[D]ata from the Customs and Border Protection's Port Import Export Reporting Service (PIERS)…[shows] Trina Solar's imports surged 209% in the first half of last December…[O]verall, Chinese imports of solar cells and modules in 2011 increased 346% by quantity and 138% by value, year-over-year. Since 2008, imports from China have risen 939% by value and 1,664% by quantity.

    "Whether the end-of-2011 ramp-up in imports is linked to the threat of potential duties, however, remains up for debate…Suntech…[said] the Dec. 31 expiration of the U.S. Department of Treasury's Section 1603 cash-grant program created a strong uptick in demand for the company's products in the U.S. Per the rules of the Section 1603 program, a solar developer needed to at least begin construction on a PV project by the end of 2011 in order to remain eligible for the incentive…Trina Solar similarly denied SolarWorld's claims…Analysts from Jefferies & Co. also attributed the spike in Chinese imports to normal seasonality trends and the end of the Section 1603 program…[President Obama has] indicated support of the complaint…"



    CHINA’S VIEW ON TURBINE TOWER PRICE GAMING
    China Voices 'Deep Concern' Over U.S. Wind Tower Probe; Investigation by U.S. Commerce Department will examine whether towers from China and Vietnam were subsidized and sold at less than fair value.
    January 21, 2012 (AFP via Industry Week)

    "China expressed ‘deep concern’…after the U.S. launched a probe into Chinese wind towers that it suspects of being unduly subsidized and sold at a loss on the American market…[saying it would] hamper bilateral cooperation in the field of new energy…harm the interests of U.S. industries…[and] go against global efforts to tackle the challenges of climate change and energy security…

    "The U.S. Department of Commerce…[has] opened an inquiry on wind towers made in China and Vietnam…The petitioner for these investigations is the Wind Tower Trade Coalition, comprised of Broadwind Towers...DMI Industries...Katana Summit...and Trinity Structural Towers..."


    click to enlarge

    "…[China's Ministry of Commerce said if] hopes the U.S. side can respect relevant laws and facts, and abide by the commitment made at the G20 summit in Cannes that all countries should avoid introducing new trade protectionism…

    "A wind tower is the structure that supports the engine and blades used to generate wind energy, and the tower captures that energy…If the probe reveals the towers have been sold at a loss, the U.S. could take out anti-dumping measures, conforming to the rules set down by the World Trade Organization…In 2010, imports of utility-scale wind towers from China and Vietnam were valued at an estimated $103.6 million and $51.9 million, respectively…"



    BIG BUCKS IN SMART GRID SECURITY
    Pike Pulse Report: Smart Grid Cyber Security Threat Management; Assessment of Strategy and Execution for 15 Leading Cyber Security Vendors

    "Smart grid cyber security remains a nascent market…[with] established smart grid specialists, niche players, and well-known enterprise security vendors…[C]yber security is often considered a mature market…[but] smart grid cyber security…is not mature at all. The leaders that we identify in this analysis are well positioned for today’s market but some of the large corporations entering the scene can shape a market to their own

    "…For the moment, size and scale appear to be somewhat of a disadvantage. Specialist companies have fared well. The ability to quickly react to the market has prevailed so far, but it is by no means certain that large size will remain a disadvantage in the future…"


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    "Some trends in the smart grid industry may cause significant change during the coming twelve months. Chief among those, utilities are making it clear that they see the most meaningful ROI in distribution automation, not in smart metering. Smart grid vendors, and therefore security vendors as well, are beginning to hear and process that message. The Leaders in our ranking already have done that.

    "This Pike Research report evaluates 15 of the leading cyber security threat management vendors in the smart grid market and rates them on 12 criteria for strategy and execution, including vision, go-to-market strategy, partnerships, product strategy and roadmap, technical innovation, geographic reach, market share, sales and marketing, product performance and features, product portfolio, control system focus, and staying power…"

    Monday, January 30, 2012

    TODAY’S STUDY: ENERGY OLD AND NEW, THE GOVERNMENT REPORT

    Annual Energy Outlook 2012 Early Release Overview
    January 23, 2012 (U.S. Energy Information Administration)

    AEO2012 Early Release Overview Executive Summary

    Projections in the Annual Energy Outlook 2012 (AEO2012) Reference case focus on the factors that shape U.S. energy markets in the long term, under the assumption that current laws and regulations remain generally unchanged throughout the projection period. The AEO2012 Reference case provides the basis for examination and discussion of energy market trends and serves as a starting point for analysis of potential changes in U.S. energy policies, rules, or regulations or potential technology breakthroughs. Some of the highlights in the AEO2012 Reference case include:

    Projected growth of energy use slows over the projection period, reflecting an extended economic recovery and increasing energy efficiency in end-use applications Projected transportation energy demand grows at an annual rate of 0.2 percent from 2010 through 2035 in the Reference case, and electricity demand grows by 0.8 percent per year. Energy consumption per capita declines by an average of 0.5 percent per year from 2010 to 2035. The energy intensity of the U.S. economy, measured as primary energy use in British thermal units (Btu) per dollar of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2005 dollars, declines by 42 percent from 2010 to 2035.

    Domestic crude oil production increases Domestic crude oil production has increased over the past few years, reversing a decline that began in 1986. U.S. crude oil production increased from 5.1 million barrels per day in 2007 to 5.5 million barrels per day in 2010. Over the next 10 years, continued development of tight oil, in combination with the ongoing development of offshore resources in the Gulf of Mexico, pushes domestic crude oil production in the Reference case to 6.7 million barrels per day in 2020, a level not seen since 1994. Even with a projected decline after 2020, U.S. crude oil production remains above 6.1 million barrels per day through 2035.

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    With modest economic growth, increased efficiency, growing domestic production, and continued adoption of nonpetroleum liquids, net petroleum imports make up a smaller share of total liquids consumption U.S. dependence on imported petroleum liquids declines in the AEO2012 Reference case, primarily as a result of growth in domestic oil production by more than 1 million barrels per day by 2020; an increase in biofuels use of more than 1 million barrels per day crude oil equivalent by 2024; and modest growth in transportation sector demand through 2035. Net petroleum imports as a share of total U.S. liquid fuels consumed drop from 49 percent in 2010 to 36 percent in 2035 in AEO2012 (Figure 1). Proposed fuel economy standards covering vehicle model years 2017 through 2025 that are not included in the Reference case would further reduce projected liquids use and the need for liquids imports.

    Natural gas production increases throughout the projection period Much of the growth in natural gas production is a result of the application of recent technological advances and continued drilling in shale plays with high concentrations of natural gas liquids and crude oil, which have a higher value in energy equivalent terms than dry natural gas. Shale gas production increases from 5.0 trillion cubic feet in 2010 (23 percent of total U.S. dry gas production) to 13.6 trillion cubic feet in 2035 (49 percent of total U.S. dry gas production) (Figure 2).

    U.S. production of natural gas is expected to exceed consumption early in the next decade The United States is projected to become a net exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in 2016, a net pipeline exporter in 2025, and an overall net exporter of natural gas in 2021. The outlook reflects increased use of LNG in markets outside of North America, strong domestic natural gas production, reduced pipeline imports and increased pipeline exports, and relatively low natural gas prices in the United States compared to other global markets.

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    Use of renewable fuels and natural gas for electric power generation rises The natural gas share of electric power generation increases from 24 percent in 2010 to 27 percent in 2035, and the renewables share grows from 10 percent to 16 percent over the same period. In recent years, the U.S. electric power sector’s historical reliance on coal-fired power plants has begun to decline. Over the next 25 years, the projected coal share of overall electricity generation falls to 39 percent, well below the 49-percent share seen as recently as 2007 (Figure 3), because of slow growth in electricity demand, continued competition from natural gas and renewable plants, and the need to comply with new environmental regulations.

    Total U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions remain below their 2005 level through 2035 Energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions grow by 3 percent from 2010 to 2035, to a total of 5,806 million metric tons in 2035. They are more than 7 percent below their 2005 level of 5,996 million metric tons in 2020 and are still below the 2005 level at the end of the projection period (Figure 4). Emissions per capita fall by an average of 1 percent per year from 2005 to 2035, as growth in demand for transportation fuels is moderated by higher energy prices and Federal corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards, and as electricity-related emissions are tempered by efficiency standards, State renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requirements, competitive natural gas prices that dampen coal use by electricity generators, and the need to comply with new environmental regulations. Proposed fuel economy standards covering model years 2017 through 2025 that are not included in the Reference case would further reduce projected energy use and emissions.

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    Introduction

    In preparing the AEO2012 Reference case, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) evaluated a wide range of trends and issues that could have major implications for U.S. energy markets. This overview presents the AEO2012 Reference case and compares it with the AEO2011 Reference case released in April 2011 (see Table 1 on pages 12-13). Because of the uncertainties inherent in any energy market projection, the Reference case results should not be viewed in isolation. Readers are encouraged to review the alternative cases when the complete AEO2012 publication is released, in order to gain perspective on how variations in key assumptions can lead to different outlooks for energy markets.

    To provide a basis against which alternative cases and policies can be compared, the AEO2012 Reference case generally assumes that current laws and regulations affecting the energy sector remain unchanged throughout the projection (including the implication that laws which include sunset dates do, in fact, become ineffective at the time of those sunset dates). This assumption helps increase the comparability of the Reference case with other analyses, clarifies the relationship of the Reference case to other AEO2012 cases, and enables policy analysis with less uncertainty arising from speculative legal or regulatory assumptions. Currently, there are many pieces of legislation and regulation that appear to have some probability of being enacted in the not-too-distant future, and some existing laws include sunset provisions that may be extended. However, it is difficult to discern the exact forms that the final provisions of pending legislation or regulations will take, and sunset provisions may or may not be extended. Even in situations where existing legislation contains provisions to allow revision of implementing regulations, those provisions may not be exercised consistently. In certain situations, however, where it is clear that a law or regulation will take effect shortly after the AEO Reference case is completed, it may be considered in the projection.

    As in past editions of the AEO, the complete AEO2012 will include additional cases, many of which reflect the impacts of extending a variety of current energy programs beyond their current expiration dates and the permanent retention of a broad set of programs that currently are subject to sunset provisions. In addition to the alternative cases prepared for AEO2012, EIA has examined proposed policies at the request of Congress over the past few years. Reports describing the results of those analyses are available on EIA’s website.1

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    Key updates made for the AEO2012 Reference case include the following:

    Industrial cogeneration was updated with historical rather than assumed capacity factors for new units and with updated investment decision procedures that reflect regional acceptance rates for new cogeneration facilities.

    A new heavy-duty vehicle model was adopted in the transportation module, with greater detail on size classes and end-use vehicle types to enable modeling of fuel economy regulations covering the heavy-duty vehicle fleet.

    The light-duty fleet model in the transportation module was updated to include a new algorithm for consumer purchase choice that compares fuel savings against incremental vehicle cost for advanced technologies, new technology cost and performance assumptions, and representation of fuel efficiency standards already in effect.

    Shale gas resource estimates for four plays (Haynesville, Fayetteville, Eagle Ford, and Woodford) were updated using the mean value of resource assessments recently released by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The shale gas resource estimate for the Marcellus play was updated using new geologic data from the USGS and recent production data. EIA’s estimate of Marcellus resources is substantially below the estimate used for AEO2011 and falls within the 90-percent confidence range in the August 2011 USGS assessment, although it is higher than the USGS mean value.

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    The tight oil resource estimate for the Bakken play was increased to include more of the Three Forks and Sanish zones.

    The handling of U.S. LNG exports of domestically sourced gas was updated, resulting in exports beginning in 2016.

    The electricity module was updated to incorporate the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR)2 as finalized by the EPA in July 2011. CSAPR requires reductions in emissions from power plants that contribute to ozone and fine particle pollution in 28 States.

    Assumptions regarding the potential for capacity uprates at existing nuclear plants and the timing for existing nuclear plant retirements were revised.

    Updates were made to reflect recent information pertaining to retirement dates for existing power plants and scheduled in-service dates for new power plants.

    California Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32), the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, was incorporated for electricity sector power plants serving California. As modeled, AB 32 imposes a limit on power sector CO2 emissions, beginning in 2012 and declining at a uniform annual rate through 2020.

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    Economic growth

    Recovery from the 2008-2009 recession is expected to show the slowest growth of any recovery since 1960. Table 2 compares average annual growth rates over a five-year period following U.S. recessions that have occurred since 1960.

    For the most recent recession, the expected five-year average annual growth rate in real GDP from 2009 to 2014 is 1.3 percentage points below the corresponding average for the three past recessions, with consumption and non-farm employment recovering even more slowly. The slower growth in the early years of the projection has implications for the long term, with a lower economic growth rate leading to a slower recovery in employment and higher unemployment rates.

    Real GDP in 2035 is 4 percent lower in the AEO2012 Reference case than was projected in the AEO2011 Reference case. Real GDP grows by an average of 2.6 percent per year from 2010 to 2035 in the AEO2012 Reference case, 0.1 percent per year lower than in the AEO2011 Reference case. The Nation’s population, labor force, and productivity grow at annual rates of 0.9 percent, 0.7 percent, and 1.9 percent, respectively, from 2010 to 2035.

    Beyond 2012, the economic assumptions underlying the AEO2012 Reference case reflect trend projections that do not include short-term fluctuations. Economic growth projections for 2012 are consistent with those published in EIA’s October 2011 Short-Term Energy Outlook….

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    Energy Prices…

    Natural gas

    With increased production, average annual wellhead prices for natural gas remain below $5 per thousand cubic feet (2010 dollars) through 2023 in the AEO2012 Reference case. The projected prices reflect continued industry success in tapping the Nation’s extensive shale gas resource. The resilience of drilling levels, despite low natural gas prices, is in part a result of high crude oil prices, which significantly improve the economics of natural gas plays that have high concentrations of crude oil, condensates, or natural gas liquids. After 2023, natural gas prices generally increase as the numbers of tight gas and shale gas wells drilled increase to meet growing domestic demand for natural gas and offset declines in natural gas production from other sources. Natural gas prices rise as production gradually shifts to resources that are less productive and more expensive. Natural gas wellhead prices (in 2010 dollars) reach $6.52 per thousand cubic feet in 2035, compared with $6.48 per thousand cubic feet (2010 dollars) in AEO2011.

    Coal

    The average minemouth price of coal increases by 1.4 percent per year in the AEO2012 Reference case, from $1.76 per million Btu in 2010 to $2.51 per million Btu in 2035 (2010 dollars). The upward trend of coal prices primarily reflects an expectation that cost savings from technological improvements in coal mining will be outweighed by increases in production costs associated with moving into reserves that are more costly to mine. The coal price outlook in the AEO2012 Reference case represents a change from the AEO2011 Reference case, where coal prices were essentially flat.

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    Electricity

    Following the recent rapid decline of natural gas prices, real average delivered electricity prices in the AEO2012 Reference case fall from 9.8 cents per kilowatthour in 2010 to as low as 9.2 cents per kilowatthour in 2019, as natural gas prices remain relatively low. Electricity prices tend to reflect trends in fuel prices—particularly, natural gas prices, because in much of the country natural gas-fired plants often set wholesale power prices. It can take time, however, for fuel price changes to affect electricity prices because of the varying lengths of fuel- and power-supply contracts and the periods between electricity rate cases. In the AEO2012 Reference case, electricity prices are higher throughout the projection than they were in the AEO2011 Reference case. Although natural gas prices to electricity generators are similar to those in AEO2011, the cost of coal is higher. In addition, reliance on natural gas-fired generation in the power sector increases partially as a result of new environmental regulation covering emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOX) that make it a more economical option. Electricity prices in 2035 are 9.5 cents per kilowatthour (2010 dollars) in the AEO2012 Reference case, compared with 9.3 cents per kilowatthour in the AEO2011 Reference case….

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    Electricity generation

    Total electricity consumption, including both purchases from electric power producers and on-site generation, grows from 3,879 billion kilowatthours in 2010 to 4,775 billion kilowatthours in 2035 in the AEO2012 Reference case, increasing at an average annual rate of 0.8 percent, about the same rate as in the AEO2011 Reference case.

    The combination of slow growth in electricity demand, competitively priced natural gas, programs encouraging renewable fuel use, and the implementation of new environmental rules dampens coal use in the future. The AEO2012 Reference case includes the impacts of the CSAPR, which was finalized in July 2011 and was not represented in the AEO2011 Reference case. CSAPR requires reductions in SO2 and NOX emissions in roughly one-half of the States, with an initial target in 2012 and further reductions in 2014. Even so, coal remains the dominant energy source for electricity generation, but its share of total generation declines from 45 percent in 2010 to 39 percent in 2035 (see Figure 3 on page 2). Market concerns about GHG emissions continue to slow the expansion of coal-fired capacity in the AEO2012 Reference case, even under current laws and policies. Low projected fuel prices for new natural gas-fired plants also affect the relative economics of coal-fired capacity, as does the continued rise in construction costs for new coal-fired power plants. As retirements outpace new additions, total coal-fired generating capacity falls from 318 gigawatts in 2010 to 301 gigawatts in 2035 in the AEO2012 Reference case.

    Electricity generation using natural gas is higher in the AEO2012 Reference case than was projected in the AEO2011 Reference case, particularly over the next 10 years, during which natural gas prices are expected to remain low. New natural gas-fired plants also are much cheaper to build than new renewable or nuclear plants. In 2015, natural gas-fired generation in AEO2012 is 13 percent higher than in AEO2011, and in 2035 it is still 6 percent higher. Electricity generation from nuclear power plants grows by 11 percent in the AEO2012 Reference case, from 807 billion kilowatthours in 2010 to 894 billion kilowatthours in 2035, accounting for about 18 percent of total generation in 2035 (compared with 20 percent in 2010).

    Nuclear generating capacity increases from 101 gigawatts in 2010 to a high of 115 gigawatts in 2025, after which a few retirements result in a decline to 112 gigawatts in 2035. AEO2012 incorporates new information about planned nuclear plant construction, as well as an updated estimate of the potential for capacity uprates at existing units. A total of 10 gigawatts of new nuclear capacity is projected through 2035, as well as an increase of 7 gigawatts achieved from uprates to existing nuclear units. About 6 gigawatts of existing nuclear capacity is retired, primarily in the last few years of the projection, as not all owners of existing nuclear capacity apply for and receive license renewals to operate their plants beyond 60 years. Increased generation from renewable energy in the electric power sector, excluding hydropower, accounts for 33 percent of the overall growth in electricity generation from 2010 to 2035.

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    Generation from renewable resources grows in response to Federal tax credits, State-level policies, and Federal requirements to use more biomass-based transportation fuels, some of which can produce electricity as a byproduct of the production process. Near-term market growth in some sectors, such as solar energy, is projected to result in significantly reduced costs in the AEO2012 Reference case, increasing the projected growth for those resources as compared with the AEO2011 projections. More retirements of coal-fired capacity are expected in the AEO2012 Reference case than were projected in AEO2011 because of slower growth in electricity demand, continued competition from natural gas and renewable plants, and the need to comply with new environmental regulations. Growth in renewable generation is supported by many State requirements, as well as new regulations on CO2 emissions in California. The share of U.S. electricity generation coming from renewable fuels (including conventional hydropower) grows from 10 percent in 2010 to 16 percent in 2035. In the AEO2012 Reference case, Federal subsidies for renewable generation are assumed to expire as enacted. Extensions of such subsidies could have a large impact on renewable generation.

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    Energy-related CO2 emissions

    Although total U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions increased by almost 4 percent in 2010, they do not return to their 2005 level (5,996 million metric tons) by the end of the AEO2012 projection period (see Figure 4 on page 2). Emissions per capita fall by an average of 1 percent per year from 2005 to 2035, as growth in demand for transportation fuels is moderated by higher energy prices and Federal CAFE standards. In addition, electricity-related emissions are tempered by efficiency standards, State RPS requirements, and implementation of the CSAPR, which helps shift the fuel mix away from coal toward lower carbon fuels.

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    Energy-related CO2 emissions reflect the mix of fossil fuels consumed. Given the high carbon content of coal and its use to generate 45 percent of the U.S. electricity supply in 2010, prospects for CO2 emissions depend, in part, on growth in electricity demand as well as the portion of that demand satisfied by coal-fired generation. After declining from 2007 to 2009, electricity sales grew in 2010 by 4.3 percent. Electricity sales continue to grow through 2035 in the AEO2012 Reference case, but the growth is tempered by a variety of regulatory and socioeconomic factors, including appliance and building efficiency standards and a continued transition to a more service-oriented economy. The combination of slow demand growth, competitive natural gas prices, and CSAPR included in the AEO2012 Reference case lowers the consumption of coal within the first 5 years of the projection period; as a result, emissions from coal combustion in the power sector in 2015 are 149 million metric tons below the AEO2011 Reference case projection. With modest growth in electricity demand and increased use of renewables for electricity generation, electricity-related CO2 emissions grow by a total of 4.9 percent (0.2 percent per year) from 2010 to 2035. Growth in CO2 emissions from transportation activity also slows in comparison with the recent pre-recession experience, as Federal CAFE standards increase the efficiency of the vehicle fleet, employment recovers slowly, and higher fuel prices moderate growth in travel. The AEO2012 Reference case projections do not include proposed increases in fuel economy standards for model years 2017 through 2025, which are expected to further reduce fuel use and emissions.

    Taken together, these factors tend to slow the growth in primary energy consumption and CO2 emissions. As a result, energy-related CO2 emissions in 2035 are only 3 percent higher than in 2010 (as compared with the 10-percent increase in total energy use), and the carbon intensity of U.S. energy consumption falls from 57.4 to 53.8 kilograms per million Btu (6.3 percent). Over the same period, U.S. economic activity becomes less carbon-intensive, as energy-related CO2 emissions per dollar of GDP decline by 45 percent.

    QUICK NEWS, January 30: ADVANCING WIND’S ABILITY; INSTALLER COSTS NOW KEY TO SUN; THE BIG BUSINESS OF BUILDINGS’ ENERGY

    ADVANCING WIND’S ABILITY
    Gamesa Working With NREL On Wind Turbine R&D And Offshore Wind Technology
    27 January 2012 (North American Windpower)

    "Gamesa Technology Corp. Inc. and the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are teaming up to study and test a variety of components and systems that will guide the develpment of the next generation of wind turbines designed specifically for the U.S. marketplace.

    "Gamesa and NREL will collaborate on work in three key areas: developing new wind turbine components and rotors for the U.S. market; researching and testing the performance of new control strategies; and devising models that will help advance the development of offshore wind in U.S. coastal waters."


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    "Using Gamesa's turbine platform as a laboratory, researchers will study the behavior of systems and how new designs, products or equipment can affect performance.

    "Chief among the goals of this research-and-development (R&D) project is the design of new products specifically for the U.S. market, with a sharp focus on interior and exterior components, as well as the rotors themselves…In addition, Gamesa and NREL will work to develop new control strategies that improve energy capture while decreasing loads…"



    INSTALLER COSTS NOW KEY TO SUN
    Downstream Investments Now Supporting Photovoltaic Installer Innovation
    27 Janauary 2012 (Solar Industry)

    "With the solar energy industry maturing rapidly and expanding to newer markets, the focus of innovation and investment has shifted from panels to installations - the final critical step for monetization…[Start-ups raised over $1 billion, with SolarCity, SunRun, Recurrent Energy, SunEdison and Solar Power Partners leading the way]…

    "A flurry of mergers and acquisitions activity and an influx of venture capital dollars to solar service providers have led to innovation concentrated on creating new, lean business models in an extremely fragmented downstream landscape…SolarCity dominates among residential installers…[C]ompanies are partnering with SunRun, adding muscle to SolarCity's biggest competitor. The Alteris-Real Goods Solar merger in December has added a stronger player to the market."


    From solarcity100 via YouTube

    "…Commercial- and utility-scale solar have few up-and-coming players. Tioga Energy and Enfinity lead the group of new large-scale developers. The acquisitions of Recurrent Energy, SunEdison and Solar Power Partners led to concentration of large-scale development in the hands of larger companies or vertically integrated suppliers First Solar and SunPower.

    "New entrants keep popping up on the back of venture dollars…A burst of entrepreneurial activity, driven by venture capital, is ensuring a steady stream of high-potential start-ups. In 2011, six solar installers were among Inc. Magazine's top 50 fastest-growing companies in the U.S., including Greenspring Energy, re2g, SunDurance Energy, OnForce Solar and FLS Energy."



    THE BIG BUSINESS OF BUILDINGS’ ENERGY
    Breaking Down the BEMS Market
    Jevan Fox, October 28, 2010 (Pike Research)

    "…Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS)…[from] Pike Research highlights that buildings over 500,000 SF represent the low-hanging fruit in the BEMS industry…[But] vast potential markets of smaller 25,000 SF, 50,001-100,000 SF, and 100,001-200,000 SF represent…$16 billion, $15 billion, and $16 billion, respectively, of annual energy expenditures, or approximately $47 billion when compounded. That figure accounts for approximately 80% of the total annual energy expenditures of all the other building segmentations.

    "…[T]hese segments are underserved by the BEMS market. Clearly, the 100,001 200,000 SF segment will provide the next potential market for BEMS players. It is already showing promise, as several BEMS vendors are focusing considerable attention on the segment. This is especially true of BEMS vendors providing a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model…"


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    "Additionally, the more energy progressive states and the more active grid operators in those states will drive utilities to assists in metering smaller buildings. As more buildings receive incentives to install meters, the costs to implement a BEMS will drop in parallel.

    "The DOE 2009 Buildings Energy Data Book states that the energy expenditure per SF 100,001-200,000 SF…is $1.57, representing an energy expense of $16,091,000,000 total for the segment. That is more than the total energy expense for any other segment, including 200,000-500,000 SF, 500,001 SF-1,000,000 SF, and greater than 1,000,000 SF. When looking to the smaller buildings (<100,000), the value proposition drops off precipitously, even though the total SF and energy expenditures per SF are high…"

    Sunday, January 29, 2012

    CHEAPER AND CHEAPER SUN

    Polysilicon Price Declines Will Continue Sector Shakeout, says GTM Research
    Mark Osborne, January 25, 2012 (PV-Tech via PV Group)

    "A new and detailed bottom-up analysis of the polysilicon industry by GTM Research further supports growing consensus that polysilicon prices will continue to set record lows in 2012 as they did in 2011 as overcapacity continues. Lower silicon prices in 2012 will likely lead to even lower c-Si module prices and force higher-cost poly producers to exit the market.

    "A key consequence of continued low polysilicon prices at or below US$30/kg is expected to see module manufacturers saving approximately US$0.20 per watt, which could bring module prices below US$0.70 per watt, according to GTM Research…"


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    "…[M]ajor producers that have significant scale and high-purity products will survive in a low-priced environment, while small-scale producers will struggle to sell at or below US$30/kg, forcing the vast majority to shutter operations and causing many to exit the sector completely…GTM Research expects to see established players such as Hemlock Semiconductor, Wacker, GCL Solar, REC, OCI and Tokuyama to weather this extended period of pricing weakness...

    "…[O]versupply in the polysilicon market pushed the spot price of silicon down from US$80/kg in late March 2011 to under US$30/kg in December, representing a more than 60% price drop…[C]ontract renegotiations are inevitable. Average contract pricing was closer to US$50/kg in 3Q 2011, but the collapse in spot pricing will likely pull the contract pricing down sharply."

    EU MONEY CRISIS AND INCENTIVES CUTS

    Spain Suspends Subsidies for New Renewable Energy Power Plants
    Ben Sills, January 27, 2012 (Bloomberg News)

    "Spain halted subsidies for renewable energy projects to help curb its budget deficit and rein in power-system borrowings backed by the state that reached 24 billion euros ($31 billion) at the end of 2011…The government passed a decree today stopping subsidies for new wind, solar, co-generation or waste incineration plants.

    "The system’s debts were racked up as revenue from state- controlled prices failed to cover the cost of delivering power. Costs have swollen in the past five years because of an increase in regulated payments for the power grid, support for Spanish coal mines and subsidies for renewable energy plants…"


    "We are living with terribly challenging and hugely consequential economic choices." Timothy Geithner, January 29, 2012 (click to enlarge)

    "Spain’s decision is a “first step” to rein in debts, and officials are working on a broader package of measures, Soria said. The nation isn’t planning a levy on hydropower or nuclear plants, nor will it take on power-system liabilities…

    "The Spanish action follows Germany’s announcement last week that it would phase out support for solar panels by 2017 and the U.K.’s legal battle to reduce its subsidies for the industry… [Governments are] wrestling with competing priorities…"

    WHAT ENERGY EFFICIENCY MEANS TO THE WORLD

    Exploiting the full potential of energy efficiency; New IEA report offers detailed guidance for governments on how to partner with private sector to finance energy efficiency measures
    19 January 2012 (International Energy Agency)

    "Improvements in energy efficiency can achieve a whole array of economic, societal and environmental benefits, often at low cost. In many cases it seems unexplainable that consumers, business and government authorities do not exploit the full potential of energy efficiency, yet there are a range of market and human behavioural failures that stop us from doing so.

    "Improving energy efficiency often requires an initial upfront cost, for example, for a more advanced or new piece of technology, a change in process, or the refurbishment of a building, that is paid back later through reduced energy bills. Even though the rate of return in investment in energy efficiency can be high, lack of finance can still be a key barrier to investment in energy efficiency."


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    "…The IEA recommends that governments facilitate private investment in energy efficiency through collaboration with private financial institutions to develop public-private partnerships (PPPs) and other frameworks that facilitate energy efficiency financing…Joint public-private approaches for energy efficiency finance…aims to support policy makers at all levels of government and other relevant stakeholders who seek practical ways to develop, support, monitor or modify energy efficiency policies…

    "…The active participation of commercial banks and financial institutions is needed for the long-term growth and development of the market for delivering energy efficiency financing and implementation services. PPP mechanisms [that use public policies, regulations and/or funding to leverage private-sector financing can] obtain such leveraging of commercial financing…[to] reduce the cost of energy efficiency…"

    FRIENDING UTILITIES

    Social Media in the Utility Industry Consumer Survey; Consumer Adoption and Usage Trends for Engagement with Utilities using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Blogs
    1Q 2012 (Pike Research)

    "As social media adoption continues to grow, utilities of all sizes are recognizing the impact these new services can have on their marketing, communications, and business strategies. Pike Research estimates that approximately 57 million customers worldwide will use social media to engage utilities in 2011, and that number is expected to rise to 624 million customers by the end of 2017…

    "While some utilities have already seized the opportunity social media offers, others remain on the sidelines…[Benefits include]...Informing customers about changes to pricing and billing…Educating customers and keeping them informed about new products and services…Addressing questions and allowing for a “virtual” conversation with customers…Reaching certain demographic groups..."


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    "Pike Research believes that as social networking and media become more pervasive, utilities and other companies will look to invest in and grow their presence in this area.

    "This Pike Research white paper examines the current frequency of consumer interactions with utilities using social media tools, the reasons for those interactions, and the demographic and behavioral segments most likely to use social media such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and blogs for utility interactions. The report also analyzes the level of interest among consumers in future engagement with utilities via social media…"

    Saturday, January 28, 2012

    How A Solar Energy System Works


    NewEnergyNews hasn’t run a “how a solar system works” video in a long time. This one is well done. Ready for a refresher? From YETZERstudios via YouTube

    Teaching Wind And Learning Wind


    All over this nation, people willing to take a chance on wind are discovering it’s a risk that pays off. From AmericanWindEnergy via YouTube

    Climate Denial Crock Of The Week – An Evangelical’s Facts


    Climate Denial Crock of the Week’s Peter Sinclair interviews a climate scientist who is also an evangelical Christian and she explains that faith must not be confused with facts. From greenman3610 via YouTube

    Friday, January 27, 2012

    NEWT, MITT & CO CAN'T DEBATE SOLAR

    Republican Candidates Could Save $300K on Electric Bills by Going Solar
    Eugene Rinehart, January 26, 2012 (SunRun)

    "...SunRun talks to Americans every day who want to save money on their electric bills, and we’ve noticed that regardless of political party they all want to save money at home. So in the spirit of saving and in light of heated debates over how we should invest in our nation’s energy future, SunRun has projected what each candidate would save by converting their primary residence to solar. Together they could save more than $300,000 over 20 years!...The candidates would each save an average of over $25,000 on their utility bills over a 10-year time frame…"

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    "…Of the four candidates, Newt Gingrich stands to save the most — $110,800 over 20 years — at his McLean, VA home…There’s no better way for the Republican presidential candidates to show they share the concerns of the 99% than by demonstrating energy independence in their very own homes. Solar power service has emerged as affordable and cost effective for homeowners who want to avoid buying panels and pay a low monthly rate fr solar, fixing their energy costs for 20 years. In fact, solar leasing options are now more popular than cash. Now that’s change everyone can believe in."

    BETTER BUILDINGS BUDDING

    Mission Accomplished? Not Just Yet, But We Have the Momentum
    January 23, 2012 (Architecture 2030)

    "Each year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) publishes its forecast for U.S. building energy consumption. Since the 2030 Challenge was issued, this outlook has vastly improved…[In] the EIA's 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011 Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) projections to the year 2030…estimates of residential and commercial building energy use to 2030 have been dropping dramatically since 2005 – by nearly 70% – due to considerable movement within the Building Sector to improve building design and efficiency…

    "…In its most recent estimate, the AEO 2011 forecasts that American consumers will spend $3.66 trillion less on energy between 2012 and 2030 than was originally projected in 2005…If, by 2030, we embrace the most efficient building technologies available, these savings will top $6 trillion…"


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    "…In 2005, the AEO forecast an increase in total U.S. building floor area of 51.9% from 2005 to 2030, with energy consumption and CO2 emissions increasing by 44.4% and 53.1% respectively. While the AEO 2011 projects a slightly lower building floor area increase of 38.6% over this same time period, the projected energy consumption and related CO2 emissions from the Building Sector are dramatically less than what was projected in 2005…If we take advantage of the best available technologies, total U.S. building energy consumption and CO2 emissions in 2030 will be reduced…[to] well below where they were in 2005…

    "…[From improved] building design and efficiency…AEO 2011 projects that the average Primary Energy Use Intensity of the Building Sector will continue to decrease and, in the question is, will it transform quickly enough?"

    ABOUT THAT HUNDRED YEARS OF NAT GAS

    U.S. Cuts Estimate for Marcellus Shale Gas Reserves by 66%
    Christine Buurma, January 23, 2012 (Bloomberg News)

    "The U.S. Energy Department cut its estimate for natural gas reserves in the Marcellus shale formation by 66 percent, citing improved data on drilling and production…About 141 trillion cubic feet of gas can be recovered from the Marcellus shale using current technology, down from the previous estimate of 410 trillion…About 482 trillion cubic feet can be produced from shale basins across the U.S., down 42 percent from 827 trillion [estimated] last year…

    "The daily rate of Marcellus production doubled during 2011 [making far more information about unproved technically recoverable gas available]…The estimated Marcellus reserves would meet U.S. gas demand for about six years, using 2010 consumption data…down from 17 years in the previous outlook."


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    "The Marcellus Shale is a rock formation stretching across the U.S. Northeast, including Pennsylvania and New York. Shale producers use a technique known as hydraulic fracturing, which involves pumping water, sand and chemicals underground to extract gas embedded in the rock…The U.S. Geological Survey said in August that it would reduce its estimate of undiscovered Marcellus Shale natural gas by as much as 80 percent after an updated assessment by government geologists.

    "Shale gas will probably account for 49 percent of total U.S. dry gas production in 2035, up from 23 percent in 2010…Gas’s share of electric power generation will increase to 27 percent in 2035 from 24 percent in 2010…[and] the U.S. may becoe a net exporter of liquefied natural gas in 2016 and a net exporter of natural gas in 2021. U.S. LNG exports may start with a capacity of 1.1 billion cubic feet a day in 2016 and increase by an additional 1.1 billion cubic feet per day in 2019…"

    THERE IS NO WIND TURBINE SYNDROME

    Mass. panel: No major health impacts from turbines
    January 17, 2012 (AP via Boston Herald)

    Wind turbines do not pose serious health risks to people living nearby, though noise from some turbines could be annoying and cause sleep disruption…[according to a new report] commissioned by Massachusetts public health and environmental agencies after residents who live near existing or proposed wind energy projects raised concerns…[The report found] ‘no evidence for a set of health effects ... that could be characterized as “Wind Turbine Syndrome”…’ But the panel urged that more study be done on the sleep issue and also recommended that Massachusetts adopt noise limits for wind turbines similar to guidelines in place in Germany and Denmark…

    "In the report, the panel said it found no scientific evidence that low-frequency sound emitted by turbines affects the inner ear and balance, or the vestibular system. It also said the ‘weight of evidence’ didn’t point to any links between the turbines and diseases including diabetes, high blood pressure and migraine headaches… ‘limited evidence’ exists that noise from louder turbines could cause annoyance or disrupt sleep…[though the link] was tenuous and based primarily on people who self-reported trouble sleeping…"


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    "A coalition called Windwise Massachusetts called last year for a statewide moratorium on construction of industrial wind turbines until potential health effects were studied…Representatives of the group questioned the findings of the report…They said the panel relied on pre-existing data and studies rather than holding public hearings or speaking directly to people who claim to have been adversely affected…The group also questioned the objectivity of the panel, claiming at least one member had performed work on behalf of the wind energy industry…

    "…Kenneth Kimmell, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection, said…that members who were chosen for the panel had no preconceived views about wind turbines and no connections to either the wind industry or opponents of wind turbines…[T]he panel said the scientific evidence suggested that infrasound produced by wind turbines even at extremely close distances was far too low to be felt as vibrations or pressure within the human body."

    Thursday, January 26, 2012

    TODAY’S STUDY: THE CELTIC TIGER BUILDS A SMART GRID

    Smart Grid Roadmap to 2050
    January 2012 (Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland)

    Introduction

    Ireland faces the same long term energy challenges as the rest of the world: a need to move towards competitively priced, environmentally sustainable, low carbon energy sources; and an insecure supply of conventional fossil fuels on which we are now dependent.

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    A smart grid can help us address these challenges by maximising our use of indigenous low carbon renewable energy resources. A systems-based approach that optimises energy supply with demand for energy services and maximises our use of indigenous renewable electricity is central to ensuring Ireland meets its long term target of a secure and low carbon future.

    While Ireland has plentiful wind and ocean energy resources that can produce low carbon electricity, they are variable in nature. Being an island nation with small amounts of interconnection to other electricity markets creates significant technical challenges to utilising these variable resources. However, if we can find ways of moving some of our electricity demand to periods when renewable supply is available, we will increase our ability to use our indigenous low carbon resource. This requires significantly increased information flow between producers, users, and system and infrastructure operators. The combination of systems, infrastructure, policies and technologies that enables a shift away from the traditional model of electricity supply following demand towards a model where demand follows the availability of low carbon, but variable, renewable supply can be collectively called the “smart grid”.

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    Building on work done by the International Energy Agency, this roadmap explores how the smart gird can contribute towards increasing the amount of renewable energy on the electricity system, improving our energy supply security and meeting Ireland’s long term emissions reduction targets. It was developed in conjunction with a roadmap for wind energy and electric vehicle deployment in Ireland, and consistent assumptions are used across the three. The roadmap has been developed with input and advice from a wide range of stakeholders and experts in the smart grid arena. It identifies a number of key steps required to achieve a smart grid scenario resulting in 13.4 million tonnes of CO2 emission reduction by 2050. These include developing market structures and policies that encourage: increasing electrification of potentially flexible loads (residential and commercial space heating and cooling and water heating), demand side management, and deployment of technologies that provide greater system flexibility such as energy storage, distributed generation and load aggregators. This in turn will require equipment, control systems and communications networks to operate on harmonised protocols.

    A number of key actions required are already in train. Communication systems between generation and networks and transmission system operators are already advanced and continuing to improve. The national smart meter rollout, scheduled to be completed by 2018, will enable real time monitoring of the system at the low voltage network level which will allow the participation in the market of distributed generation and virtual power plants. More importantly, it will allow electricity suppliers to offer pricing packages that provide customers with options and incentives to manage their electricity usage and costs. This increased level of customer participation is essential as it is this which creates the opportunity to shift electricity consumption to periods where variable renewable energy is available.

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    Ireland is well positioned to lead in the deployment of the smart grid. The key energy sector actors are already engaged and looking to benefit from application of a smart grid. Many key ICT and energy equipment sector companies are looking to Ireland as a possible market in which to test smart grid products and concepts. Finally, Ireland has world leading research capacity in integrating large amounts of variable renewables into power systems. Now is the time to capitalise on this position, develop the expertise and technologies that will enable us to become world leaders, and develop an enterprise and innovation sector around smart infrastructure.

    Finally, I want to thank the organisations, listed on the back cover, that participated in the steering group that supported the development of this roadmap.

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    Key Findings

    This roadmap explores how a smart grid can be operational in Ireland by 2050 and examines the contribution this will make to the decarbonisation of the electricity supply.

    ●● Decarbonisation of electricity in the Irish system will result in annual savings of over 13 million tonnes of CO2 by 2050. Eight million tonnes of this will be derived directly from the implementation of smart grid. A further five million tonnes will come from the displacement of fossil fuels due to the electrification of transport and thermal loads, facilitated by the smart grid

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    ●● Greater integration of indigenous renewable energy sources will see a net reduction in energy imports in excess of 4.3 Mtoe, [equating to savings of €3.2-7.2bn in direct fuel offset by 2050]

    ●● Increasing the electrification of thermal loads in the residential and services sector will see an annual demand in this sector in excess of 28,000 GWh by 2050

    ●● Electrification of transport, predominately in the domestic sector, will be expected to provide an annual demand close to 8,000 GWh by 2050

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    ●● Overall annual electrical final energy demand will be in excess of 48,000 GWh by 2050 with a corresponding peak demand of 9 GW. On-shore wind generation will be able to supply up to 33,000 GWh of the total demand

    ●● By 2025 Ireland will have 1.4 GW of interconnection. Our analysis indicates that a further 1.6 GW of interconnection will be required by 2040

    ●● More than 10,000 Irish jobs will be created by implementation of smart grid infrastructure and its associated technologies

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    Matching demand to supply

    By enabling demand response, load balancing, load shifting and reduction, the integration of electrical storage and the management of the import and export of electricity, the smart grid will enable large amounts of distributed generation and renewable wind electricity onto the system, thus improving security of supply. However, the asynchronous, variable nature of wind means that demand must be matched to meet supply. This will require strategies and mechanisms in place to shift, store or export excess generation in order to maximise the amount of total final energy that can be delivered from wind and other distributed generation sources.

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    Smart Grid – the ambitious scenario

    Predictions indicate that Ireland’s total wind resource could generate up to 140,000 GWh by 2050 (see SEAI Wind Roadmap). More than a third of this could be consumed domestically by aggressively increasing demand in the transport sector and built environment. By electrifying up to 50% of the transport fleet and over 90% of building thermal loads, the annual electrical demand could be increased to 80,000 GWh. This would enable over 50,000 GWh of variable wind generation to be accommodated on the system. When added to increases in generation from ocean energy and biomass, nearly 65,000 GWh of this demand could be met by renewable resources. This would represent an annual reduction in CO2 emissions of 25 million tonnes with a corresponding reduction in fuel exports of 8.5 Mtoe. In a medium price scenario where oil is at $179 / barrel this equates to savings of over €7.5 billion per year.

    QUICK NEWS, January 26: OBAMA SOTU BACKS NEW ENERGY; PRIVATE P.A.C.E.; COMMERCE INVESTIGATES ASIAN WIND

    OBAMA SOTU BACKS NEW ENERGY
    State Of The Union Address Calls For Comprehensive Energy Approach
    Jessica Lillian, 25 January 2012 (Solar Industry)

    "Although President Barack Obama's Jan. 24 State of the Union address contained only a singular mention of solar energy, he reiterated his commitment to expanding clean energy project development in the U.S. and ending subsidies to fossil-fuel companies…

    "In a follow-up proposal posted online by the White House, Obama specifically called for a temporary extension of the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit as part of a broader manufacturing tax-reform proposal. This $5 billion investment would drive nearly $20 billion in domestic clean energy manufacturing, the White House said. The tax credit was previously oversubscribed more than three times over."


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    "During his address, acknowledging that Congress' partisan divide may prevent broad action on climate change, the president nonetheless urged Congress to set a national clean energy standard. However, he made no mention of the 80% by 2035 clean energy standard that he introduced in last year's State of the Union.

    "Much of Obama's energy-independence discussion centered on increased exploration of domestic oil and natural-gas resources, as he advocated for the ‘all of the above’ energy approach that has been frequently espoused by more-conservative policymakers. He noted that the same public-private partnerships used in the natural-gas sector may also be applicable to renewable energy investment…Global competitiveness in clean energy - and beyond - also requires an increased emphasis on ensuring fair trade policies, Obama said. To that end, a newly created Trade Enforcement unit will investigate cases of unfair trading practices…"



    PRIVATE P.A.C.E.
    Figtree Sells P.A.C.E. Multi-Jurisdictional Bond Placing California on the Leadubg Edge of Energy Efficiency Financing
    January 18, 2012 (Figtree Energy Resource Company)

    "Figtree Energy Resource Company…[issued] a $725,000 Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) bond that will fund energy-efficient and renewable-energy projects in four different California cities. This PACE bond is the first-of-its-kind in the nation; it represents a new source of money for property improvements and a dynamic job creation program for local communities. The issuance of a multi-jurisdiction bond places California on the leading edge of energy efficiency financing.

    "Money raised by the bond will fund seven energy-efficient and renewable-energy projects in Fresno, Palm Springs, Clovis and Exeter, California."


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    [Mahesh Shah, CEO, Figtree:] “PACE bond financing provides property owners fixed-rate, property value based and no credit check financing…The taxable municipal bond was sold to the capital markets without any state or federal funding assistance – a 100% private program…”

    "Under Assembly Bill 811, California property owners in special assessment districts may enter into voluntary contractual assessments against their properties to finance energy and water efficiency products. The financed amount incurred by the property owner is repaid over time through annual property tax assessments with the charge appearing as a line item on the property tax bill…[The bill can both] lower greenhouse gas levels and reduce energy and water consumption…[and be] a stimulus program that spurs local economic growth and creates new jobs…"


    COMMERCE INVESTIGATES ASIAN WIND
    U.S. Commerce Department Investigating Unfair Trade Of Wind Towers From China, Vietnam
    20 January 2012 (North American Windpower)

    "The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) has launched a formal investigation into the unfairly traded imports of wind towers from China and Vietnam…[following a complaint] filed by the Wind Tower Trade Coalition (WTTC) seeking investigation into the matter.

    "The DOC [found] an anti-dumping margin for China of 213.54% and an antidumping margin for Vietnam of between 140.54% and 143.29%....[T]he department has decided to investigate subsidy programs used by all levels of the Chinese government to support its wind turbine industry."


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    "Additionally, WTTC participated in a hearing at the International Trade Commission for the investigation into whether there is a reasonable indication of material injury or threat of material injury to the U.S. industry by reason of imports from China and Vietnam…

    "No Chinese or Vietnamese producers attended the hearing to testify on their behalf. Siemens Energy Inc. testified at the hearing in defense of their purchases of dumped and subsidized merchandise…The International Trade Commission's vote is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 10…"

    Wednesday, January 25, 2012

    “I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy.” President Barack Obama, January 24, 2012

    “I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy.”
    President Barack Obama, January 24, 2012 (State of the Union speech)

    [President Barack Obama, January 24, 2012 State of the Union speech:] “I’m requiring all companies that drill for gas on public lands to disclose the chemicals they use. America will develop this resource without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk.”

    [President Barack Obama, January 24, 2012 State of the Union speech:] “…it was public research dollars, over the course of thirty years, that helped develop the technologies to extract all this natural gas out of shale rock – reminding us that Government support is critical in helping businesses get new energy ideas off the ground…What’s true for natural gas is true for clean energy.”

    [President Barack Obama, January 24, 2012 State of the Union speech:] “Because of federal investments, renewable energy use has nearly doubled. And thousands of Americans have jobs because of it.”

    [President Barack Obama, January 24, 2012 State of the Union speech:] “I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany…We have subsidized oil companies for a century. That’s long enough. It’s time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that’s rarely been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that’s never been more promising. Pass clean energy tax credits and create these jobs.”

    TODAY’S STUDY: HOW TO DESIGN A WIND FARM

    Applications of Systems Engineering to the Research, Design, and Development of Wind Energy Systems
    K. Dykes and R. Meadows w/F. Felker, P. Graf, M. Hand, M. Lunacek, J. Michalakes, P. Moriarty, W. Musial, and P. Veers, December 2011 (National Renewable Energy Laboratory)

    Executive Summary

    Over the past 30 years, wind energy has evolved from a small industry active in a few countries to a large international industry involving major players in the manufacturing, development, and utility sectors. Coinciding with the industry growth, significant innovation in the technology has resulted in larger sized turbines with lower associated costs of energy and more complex designs in all subsystems—from the rotor to the drivetrain to the electronics and control systems. However, as the deployment of the technology grows and its role within the electricity sector has become more prominent, so have the expectations of the technology in terms of performance, reliability, and cost. For the industry to continue to succeed and become a sustainable source of electricity, innovation in wind energy technology must continue to improve performance and lower the cost of energy while supporting seamless integration of wind energy into the electric grid without creating significant negative impacts on local communities and environments. At the same time, the nature of the issues associated with wind energy design and development are noticeably more complex than in the past due to a variety of factors such as, for example, large turbines sizes, offshore deployment or complex terrains. Looking toward the future, the industry would benefit from an integrated approach that simultaneously addresses turbine design, plant design and development, grid interaction and operation, and mitigation of adverse community and environmental impacts. These activities must be integrated in order to meet this diverse set of goals while recognizing trade-offs that exist between them.

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    In order to address these challenges, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has embarked on the Wind Energy Systems Engineering (WESE) initiative to evaluate how methods of systems engineering can be applied to the research, design, and development of wind energy systems. Systems engineering is a field within engineering that has a long history of application to complex technical systems such as aerospace. As such, the field holds much potential for addressing critical issues that face the wind industry today. This paper represents a first step for understanding this potential and lays out a conceptual design for the development of a WESE framework and tool. It reviews systems engineering methods as applied to related technical systems and illustrates how these methods can be combined in a WESE framework to meet the research, design, and development needs for the future of the industry. Subsequent efforts will focus on developing and implementing a framework based on the conceptual design illustrated in the last chapter of this report.

    In general, systems engineering approaches have the following four characteristics: holistic, multidisciplinary, integrated/value-driven, and long-term/life-cycle oriented. The approach is holistic in that it considers the full technical system, including any number of performance criteria, as well as potentially non-technical concerns related to human factors or societal impacts. Systems engineering work is multidisciplinary, involving engineering, natural, computational, and even social sciences. It is also integrated and value-driven by considering the needs and interests of all customers and stakeholders.

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    Finally, systems engineering is focused on the long-term or life cycle of the system and takes into account the cradle-to-grave life of the system. Beyond these four primary traits of the field, three common characteristics of the large-scale, complex technical systems are the focus of systems engineering work. These include complexity, uncertainty, and heterogeneity. The key characteristics of large-scale, complex technical systems also align with key attributes of wind energy systems, including the following:

    Complexity: Wind energy involves nearly every field of engineering and many of the natural and social sciences. The design of a wind turbine and plant interlinks these distinct disciplines for a holistic and multidisciplinary design that integrates the interests of a wide variety of stakeholders for operation over years and decades.

    Uncertainty: The science of wind and wind energy technology is still evolving. An incomplete understanding of both the physical processes and their interaction with the technology leads to an uncertain design environment. Even if a complete understanding of the system was obtained, there would still be uncertainty affecting system design, for example, with respect to the behavior of weather over time as it would impact a particular turbine or farm. Finally, there are external sources of uncertainty, such as political and economic developments, that can drastically affect the financial viability of wind energy projects.

    Heterogeneity: Wind turbines and plants must be designed for and operated in a wide array of environments—both from a physical standpoint and from an economic, social, and political standpoint. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has separated factors that limit wind energy development into those that affect the cost of energy and those that impose market barriers such as social, environmental, and political factors.

    The scope of wind energy design can be illustrated by a map of major design variables within a wind energy system as shown in Figure 1.

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    The development and deployment of wind energy systems is affected by physical design drivers and impacts associated with various stakeholders from suppliers to original equipment manufacturers (OEM), developers, financiers, utilities, environments, and communities. A view of and an approach to wind energy research, design, and development must take all of these diverse factors into account. Design of these complex, uncertain, and heterogeneous large-scale technical systems is well suited to a systems engineering approach that is holistic, multidisciplinary, integrated, and life cycle oriented.

    This paper addresses a wind energy system that falls geographically within a wind plant.

    This includes all of the components, individual wind turbines, and the interactions between them as well as balance of station and operations and maintenance. In essence, the scope includes the traditional set of design drivers that are considered in looking at wind plant cost of energy. The methods reviewed in the paper reflect this scope, although the ultimate goal is to incorporate design objectives and methods that relate to the entire wind energy system, including grid interaction, community, and environmental impacts.

    This paper surveys the landscape of systems engineering methods and catalogues the various existing modeling tools that relate to the design of wind energy systems from components to entire plants. It then provides an overview of how the existing set of design tools as well as future extensions may be coupled together within a systems engineering framework that will provide for a large variety of potential applications at the frontier of wind energy research, design and development. Examples of such applications that are relevant to future wind energy development may include:

    Optimization of the full wind plant system to achieve the lowest cost of energy and improve wind generated electricity costs relative to other generation technologies while maintaining or improving annual energy production. Use of systems engineering techniques such as multidisciplinary design optimization could yield plant designs that achieve significant system cost reduction by accumulating cost reduction across a number of components and consider long-term operation and maintenance impacts.

    Trade studies to evaluate different design concepts that are needed to prioritize R&D efforts to develop fixed-bottom and floating platform offshore wind plants. Use of systems engineering techniques such as multi-objective optimization and tradespace exploration could be valuable in assessing widely different concepts, including VAWTs.

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    As offshore wind technology infrastructure is developed in the US, supply chain analysis could be used to evaluate various port facilities along with technology options for installation and servicing wind projects. Combined with optimization of technology designs to accommodate port facility requirements, projects with the lowest cost of energy would be identified.

    Many wind energy specific design tools and methods already exist to address aspects of the illustrated challenges listed above, but a systems approach is needed to tackle them with adequate rigor. Integrating these tools into a SE framework that (1) permits comprehensive analysis using well developed SE methods and (2) is designed to expand systematically to create an ability to address the issues above and will aid the wind industry in achieving the next generation of lower cost wind technology.

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    Methods in Systems Engineering

    To address how a systems engineering approach might be used to design a wind turbine and/or plant, a survey was compiled of methods within systems engineering that may be applicable or that have already been tested for use in wind turbine and plant design. In general, these methods can be partitioned into three sets: design tools related to physical system design, methods related to supply chain and logistics, and other methods such as reliability and cost engineering. These methods will inform a WESE approach to the research, design, and development needs for the future of the industry.

    Within the first set of tools related to physical system design, multidisciplinary design optimization (MDO) is featured because it has been used extensively in the design and research of aerospace and similarly complex technical systems. MDO allows the integration of different disciplinary design objectives into an overall system design optimization. It is a way to hierarchically decompose a complex design problem so that it maps better to existing partitions of disciplinary design efforts. MDO has been used already in a few research applications to wind energy that seek to optimize system cost of energy by integrating analysis across various disciplines including, for example, aerodynamics, structures and controls. In addition, the survey of methods for wind energy system design included a discussion of multi-objective optimization (MOO) that evaluates different design objectives either through a weighted technique or some sort of hierarchical ordering. Such methods are particularly appropriate when multiple stakeholders have conflicting interests for system design. MOO is also useful to evaluate a set of designs along various dimensions, such as wind energy system production, weights, reliability, etc. MOO techniques may result in a trade space of designs that can be compared using visual and statistical techniques. This may be used to evaluate trade-offs between different wind energy system designs or architectures rather than focusing on sensitivity to design parameters for a single detailed design.

    In addition to turbine design, MDO methods can be extended to incorporate the entire wind plant and associated design objectives such as annual energy production, balance of station costs, and operations and maintenance costs. Looking at balance of station, supply chain considerations become important both in terms of initial plant design—including transportation, installation, and assembly logistics—but also to long-term O&M. Long-term development of a WESE framework may incorporate more advanced models for balance of station and O&M of wind plants that would integrate supply chain model techniques such as network analysis. With regard to plant operations and maintenance, reliability engineering and cost engineering are two methods that may also be applied to wind energy system design. Thus, a systems engineering approach to the research, design and development of wind energy systems may incorporate a variety of methods depending on system scope. The application of systems engineering methods at NREL will involve leveraging existing modeling tools within the development of a systems engineering specific tool.

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    NREL Research and Design Tools for Wind Energy Systems

    The integration and optimization of overall system properties within the wind system design toolset used at NREL is already a near-term goal at the NWTC. Figure 2 shows the current state of NREL wind energy system design tools as they relate to the systems engineering methods discussed in the previous section. The right side of Figure 2 shows the expected and desired development of the program and reflects the goal of integrating and developing existing tools within an overarching systems engineering framework. NREL is a primary developer of many different tools for the research, design and development of wind energy systems, including a suite of aeroelastic design codes for detailed time-series analysis of various turbine loads as well as a cost of energy model that estimates how design changes may affect everything from specific component costs to annual energy production to balance of station costs. In addition, there are various models developed at NREL related to external impacts of turbine and plant design including noise analysis tools as well as dynamic models of wind turbines for grid interaction. Many of these tools incorporate aspects of systems engineering from multidisciplinary analysis in the aeroelastic codes to supply chain analysis in the cost of energy and balance of station models. These characteristics have led to the use of such tools within several systems engineering research projects focused on wind energy systems. However, the integration of the tools within an explicit systems engineering toolset and framework will allow for a wide range of new and higher fidelity analyses that will improve the overall performance of wind energy systems.

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    Development of a WESE Tool

    The overall vision for a systems engineering design approach is to develop a framework and corresponding toolset that will allow for the integration of a variety of models for different aspects of the overall wind energy system. At all times, a WESE framework will maintain the capability for representing the full wind energy system including individual turbines and components, wind plants and turbine to turbine interaction, and cost of energy modeling for the plant and balance of station. Later realizations of a WESE framework may extend into advanced supply chain representations as well as grid integration and analytical capabilities for community and environmental impacts. The full system representation will have varying levels of model fidelity for each aspect of the system. Depending on the application, different models for each sub-system or discipline may be used in an overall analysis.

    As higher fidelity models and improved design tools are developed, they will be integrated for use in a WESE framework. This will allow for continual evolution of the overall tool and increased fidelity of different system sub-models. For instance, a tool may initially incorporate a few different models of the turbine itself including aeroelastic design codes such as the Fatigue, Aerodynamics, Structures, and Turbulence (FAST) Code or the simplified WT_Perf or even parameterized metamodels. The tool might then be extended to interact with more detailed models for structural analysis of different turbine components that would interact with the full turbine model. Cost models might initially incorporate parameterized models such as the NREL model, other simplified models of turbine cost, or even an engineering-based cost model that is extended to capture detailed plant costs. Plant models might contain various levels of fidelity for modeling turbine interaction as well as site impact considerations on wind flows. The key aspect of development of a WESE tool is that it will allow for the integration of a range of models representing the different aspects of system design above and that these may be allowed to evolve over time. A high-level depiction of the models included in such a tool as well as the types of analyses to be performed is shown in the Figure 3.

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    A project of this scope could easily become intractable if not managed in a systematic way. Therefore, within the large space of development, it is important to consider particular applications that would constitute a progression in tool development that is feasible in the near term. Specific steps of integration will build out a tool’s capabilities in terms of both model types and analytical methods. At the same time, a working toolset will be preserved at each step so that novel and useful analyses may be performed over the entire development of a tool. The potential steps to integration will reflect the current status of development of NREL wind energy analysis and design tools and also the needs associated with development of those tools. This will likely include four general phases:

    1. Integration of physical turbine and cost of energy models for sensitivity analysis and optimization
    2. Integration of detailed component design with physical turbine and cost of energy models for scenario analysis, trade studies and optimization

    3. Integration of plant layout tools with the above set for full plant level analysis including for scenario analysis, trade studies and optimization
    4. Integration of models for non-traditional design criteria such as utility, community, and environmental impacts.

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    A WESE tool could support a diverse set of applications and a variety of analyses such as multidisciplinary optimization (with different optimization algorithms and techniques), multi-objective optimization, and development of trade spaces. This would allow for both detailed design optimization as well as evaluation across diverse system architectures. For example, a MDO may be used to perform a detailed cost optimization of a particular point design, and MOO may be used to survey a wide variety of different wind turbine configurations. In addition, the tool would include a range of post-processing decision-support tools including sensitivity analysis, uncertainty quantification, and visualization methods. User inputs would include input parameters for system design (turbine, plant and exogenous factors), but also would include the specific analyses to be performed and the models to be used (selection of sub-models based on level of fidelity and type of representation desired or the incorporation of user-defined sub-models). Every analysis thus would include: (1) a connection of individual elements and sub-systems into a system design space for a full system representation and (2) varying levels of fidelity in terms of modeling different subsystems depending on the chosen application. The overall development of such a tool will be a complicated process that involves the integration of disparate codes, obtaining metamodels of adequate fidelity, coupling across software packages, and other challenges. Thus, careful planning and management of the overall process upfront and at each step along the way will be important to the overall success of the initiative.

    In summary, NREL’s wind energy systems engineering design initiative seeks to address a variety of issues that impact the current and future development of the wind energy sector. Wind electrical generation is a large-scale and complex technical system with various social impacts. As a result, a systems perspective and approach must be taken to the research, design, and development of these systems in order to meet the myriad of goals for future development of the technology. The inherent complexity of the physical system leads directly to a multidisciplinary approach to the design of the turbine itself, but also then to the plant level and beyond to the impacts that the plant will have on local utilities, communities, and environments. Systems engineering, which has a long history of development and application to a variety of industries, shows significant potential for addressing these system design challenges and will be a useful framework and tool for guiding and coordinating wind energy research, design and development activities among a variety of stakeholders including government, industry, national laboratories and academia.

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