NewEnergyNews: 09/01/2012 - 10/01/2012

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

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE CLIMATE CHANGED WORLD IS NOW 5 TIMES MORE DANGEROUS
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-THE MONEY IN SOLAR, Q2 2014
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-EU STILL GROWING OCEAN WIND
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-$109MIL FROM GERMAN BANK BACKS KENYA GEOTHERMAL
  • THE DAY BEFORE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, July 17:

  • TTTA Thursday-THE PREMATURE EVACUATION FROM CLIMATE CHANGE EXCITEMENT
  • TTTA Thursday-NEW ENERGY TO SUSTAIN BIG GROWTH – EIA
  • TTTA Thursday-SOLAR’S COST TO UTILITIES
  • TTTA Thursday-HOW UTILITIES CAN EVOLVE IN A NEW ENERGY WORLD
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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: HOW TO PROTECT A CAP AND TRADE PROGRAM
  • QUICK NEWS, July 16: 88% OF NEW U.S. POWER IN MAY WAS NEW ENERGY; THE FIGHT FOR WIND IN OHIO; U.S. CRITICAL SYSTEMS REGULARLY BREACHED
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: THE COSTS AND BENEFITS OF NET ENERGY METERING FOR DISTRIBUTED RENEWABLES
  • QUICK NEWS, July 15: THE SMART GRID IS COMING; LA UTILITY WANTS A SOLAR FEED-IN TARIFF, NOT NET METERING; FORESEEING A SELF-DRIVING VEHICLE MARKET
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: NEW ENERGY IN THE WORLD RIGHT NOW
  • QUICK NEWS, July 14: NEW SOLAR GOLD RUSH AHEAD IF…; U.S. OFFSHORE WIND MOVES AHEAD; BIG MRKT AHEAD FOR NEW ENERGY FUELED BIG VEHICLES
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • Weekend Video: Why Climate Is More Predictable Than Weather
  • Weekend Video: A Congressional Candidate Tells It Straight
  • Weekend Video: Dark Snow, A Warning Sign Of Sea Level Rise From Climate Change
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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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  • Saturday, September 29, 2012

    Not Again, Charley Brown!

    This is a great one but pay attention or it will slip by. Hint: It’s about the cartoonish efforts of a penny-wise, pound-foolish Congress. From kccitv via YouTube

    A Visit To A New Energy City

    Six years ago, Masdar was a breathtaking ambition; today it is well on its way to becoming a breathtaking accomplishment. From FullyCharged via YouTube

    Fossil Fuel Health Impacts And What To Do

    This guy is a really snappy dresser – but it’s what he has to say that’s important. From ubcommunications via YouTube

    Friday, September 28, 2012

    CONNECTING EUROPE’S SUN

    “Connecting the Sun”: How Europe’s electricity grid can integrate solar photovoltaics; The rise of solar PV and other renewables presents a whole new world for electricity grid operators; EPIA’s report shows how PV is already providing solutions, and how it will be key to meeting Europe’s ambitious energy and environmental goals

    September 25, 2012 (European Photovoltaic Industry Association)

    “The increasing role played by renewable energy sources, including PV, requires a new perspective on Europe’s power system management. Under all scenarios envisioned for the coming decades, PV will play an important part of Europe’s electricity mix – covering about 15% (or, under a paradigm shift scenario, up to 25%) by 2030…

    “…Connecting the Sun: Solar photovoltaics on the road to large-scale grid integration, a new report from the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA), shows how Europe’s electricity system can integrate high levels of solar PV in the coming decades…”

    “The main findings of “Connecting the Sun” include…[1] PV is an active part of the power system in Europe, and can be integrated without creating operational issues or affecting security of supply…[2] PV will be key to the future of the electricity distribution network, and there are no technical limits to large-scale PV integration under scenarios envisioned until 2030…

    “…[3] PV electricity is decentralised and can be produced close to where it is consumed, and developing PV in dense consumption areas is more cost-effective than concentrating it in areas of high solar irradiation…[and, 4] PV will continue on its path to competitiveness, even taking into account additional measures required to facilitate grid integration…”

    WIRING EUROPE’S WIND

    EU: an internal energy market by 2014?

    20 September 2012 (European Wind Energy Association)

    "...[Creating the Internal Energy Market in Europe]by the European Wind Energy Association argues that EU electricity market rules must reflect the energy generation mix of the future and help usher in a flexible power system with a large-scale uptake of wind power and other renewable energy sources…

    “The report comes as the Single European Act - creating a single market in goods, capital, people and services - turns 25…EU Heads of State have agreed that Europe should have an internal energy market by 2014, but the EU is not on track to meet that target. [This October the European Commission is set to publish a Communication…expected to contain an action plan to take Europe closer to a single energy market]…”

    “To this end, the report recommends…[1] Creating a level playing field for renewable energy sources by tackling structural market deficits such as…Removing regulated prices and excessive market concentration to enable small…and medium-sized power generators to enter the market…[and] Removing coal, gas and nuclear subsidies before they are removed from mature renewable technologies like onshore wind…

    “…[2] Creating functioning markets covering larger geographical regions within Europe so as to reduce the need to balance variable renewables like wind and solar…[3] Developing intraday and balancing markets at national(1) and cross-border levels…[4] Creating new markets for 'grid support services,' supporting the functioning of the grid to ensure a secure supply of electricity, instead of introducing market-distorting capacity payments.”

    SMART MONEY MOVING TO SMART APPLIANCES

    Smart Appliances; Intelligent Control, Power Management, and Networking Technologies for Household Appliances on the Smart Grid: Global Market Analysis and Forecasts

    3Q 2012 (Pike Research/Navigant)

    “…[D]espite significant improvements in energy efficiency across the household appliance industry, energy consumption is on the rise. Manufacturers of appliances, particularly major appliances, see this as an opportunity to bring additional value by connecting appliances to the grid, thus enabling them to react to price and demand response signals…

    “…As smart grid initiatives around the world aim at improving load management, increasing reliability, and raising consumer awareness, smart appliances have a significant role to play in realizing this vision as they provide the all-important link to large residential energy loads.”

    “…[S]mart appliance market availability and types of products [are limited] at the present time, and will likely remain so for the next 2 to 3 years…[but] intelligent power management technologies will start to make their way into mainstream appliances in greater numbers after 2015…

    “…Continuing investment in smart grid initiatives, declining selling prices, and clearer value propositions will make smart appliances more appealing for end users in the coming years. Pike Research expects worldwide smart appliance sales to reach nearly $35 billion by 2020.”

    CHINA FARMERS LIKE SOLAR

    Agricultural Installations in China Provide 300 MW Boost to PV Domestic Sales; Distributed Power Generation Offers New Opportunities for PV Module and Balance-of-Systems Providers

    September 17, 2012 (SolarBuzz)

    “New photovoltaic (PV) projects on agricultural land are playing a pivotal role within the rapid growth of distributed PV power generation in China, with more than 300 MW of PV projects now being tracked…An increasing number of PV project developers in Central and Eastern China are now prioritizing these new opportunities, in particular in the provinces of Xinjiang, Hunan, and Hubei…

    “…The China Energy Conservation and Environmental Protection Group (CECEP) is currently targeting more than 100 MW of PV projects specifically within the agricultural segment.”

    “With farmland in short supply in Central and Eastern China, installing ground-mounted PV can be a challenge. Therefore, rooftop PV installations have become a higher priority, with the most attractive developments often combining agricultural applications with PV generation. This mutually-beneficial arrangement allows PV developers to benefit from the PV power generation while providing the farmers a revenue stream…

    “Commercial agricultural PV projects continue to receive the backing of top-tier PV developers in China, and this new segment is forecast to grow rapidly in the coming years. Developers are trying to find additional land space in both central and eastern China in an effort to further boost domestic PV demand…”

    Thursday, September 27, 2012

    SCIENCE AND FOX NEWS

    10 Scientists Criticize Fox’s Climate Coverage

    Jill Fitzsimmons, September 24, 2012 (Ecowatch)

    “An analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that 93 percent of Fox News’ recent climate change coverage was misleading. Over the last two years, several leading scientists have told Media Matters the same thing…

    “…Last summer, Fox News hosted global warming ‘expert’ Joe Bastardi to claim that the human-induced climate change contradicts the 1st law of thermodynamics and Le Chatelier’s Principle. Duke University scientist William Chameides called Bastardi’s claims ‘utter nonsense,’ and the University of Chicago’s David Archer said Fox is ‘wrong’ to suggest that these basic principles negate the risks of climate change. Richard Muller, a physics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, agreed…”

    “In a point-by-point rebuttal to past statements made by Bastardi, NASA climatologist Gavin Schmidt used the words ‘nonsense,’ ‘simply ignorant,’ ‘completely wrong,’ ‘handwaving,’ ‘very odd,’ and ‘based on nothing’ … Earlier this year, Bastardi was back on Fox with more confused claims. He declared on Fox Business that carbon dioxide ‘literally cannot cause global warming’ because it ‘doesn’t mix well with the atmosphere’ and ‘its specific gravity is 1 1/2 times that of the rest of the atmosphere.’ Asked about Bastardi’s statements, Kerry Emanuel of MIT said: ‘Utter rubbish. Sorry to be so direct, but that is just the case.’ NASA climatologist Gavin Schmidt added: ‘Bastardi is attempting to throw out 150 years of physics’…

    “…[And more:] 4. Lead Author of Study Called Fox’s Global Warming Story ‘Patently False’…5. Polar Bear Scientist: Fox Missed ‘The Bigger Picture’ on Polar Bear Populations…6. Lead Author of Wind Farm Study Debunked Fox’s ‘Misleading’ Coverage…7. Solar Physicist Called Fox’s ‘Mini Ice Age’ Prediction ‘A Huge Leap’… 8. Climate Change Contrarian Said Fox’s Mention of Him ‘Does Not Make Sense’…9. Syracuse Geochemist: Fox Coverage ‘Completely Misrepresent[s] Our Conclusions’…10. Stanford Scientist: Fox’s Coverage Did ‘Not Accurately Portray Our Findings’…”

    SMARTER NEW ENERGY INCENTIVES

    Small Changes to Federal Renewable Policy Could Deliver Big Savings for Taxpayers; Federal Wind and Solar Incentives are Critical, Could be more Cost-Effective

    September 17, 2012 (Climate Policy Initiative)

    “Federal government support has been crucial to growth in the solar and wind industries. A new report by Climate Policy Initiative (CPI), Supporting Renewables While Saving Taxpayers Money, shows the government could sustain that support at much lower cost to taxpayers, by replacing current tax credits with cash incentives…[A] taxable cash incentive for wind energy could deliver the same support to wind projects as current policy and almost halve the cost to taxpayers…

    “CPI’s report shows that federal wind and solar incentives bridged roughly half the gap between the costs of renewable electricity generation and electricity market prices for wind and solar projects financed in 2010. Assuming that current federal policies are sustained, performance and technology improvements mean that the average wind project financed in 2013 would be nearly viable through federal incentives alone, while solar projects would still require some state support.”

    “Changing federal policies from tax to cash incentives would save taxpayers money while maintaining the same level of support for the wind and solar industries. Current federal tax incentives are not a cost-effective way to support renewable energy because most project developers don’t have enough tax liability. As a result, they employ tax equity partners at additional cost. With cash incentives, developers don’t need tax equity partners; this makes the system more cost-efficient.

    “The report recommends two changes to federal wind and solar incentives: Extend the wind production tax credit and deliver it as a $21/MWh taxable cash incentive. This would have the same value to projects, reduce inefficiencies, and reduce government costs by almost half for every unit of clean electricity generated. Give solar photovoltaic projects the option to take a 20% 1603 cash grant in lieu of the current 30% investment tax credit. This would simultaneously reduce government costs while better supporting solar energy projects…”

    NOT ENOUGH SUN FOR A GEORGIA PEACH

    …Proposed Georgia Power Solar Energy Initiative…is one step of many needed to build a sustainable solar market in Georgia

    September 26, 2012 (Solar Energy Industries Association)

    “…[A Georgia Power Company initiative will] create one of the largest voluntarily-developed solar portfolios by an investor-owned utility in the U.S. The Georgia Power Advanced Solar Initiative (GPASI) would add 210 megawatts (MW) of additional solar capacity to Georgia Power’s portfolio through 2015…

    “…The completed 210MW of solar electric capacity would be enough to power nearly 20,000 average Georgia households…To meet the 210 MW target, Georgia Power would purchase 60 MW annually for three years with projects ranging in size from one to 20 megawatts, which applies to very large commercial or utility-scale projects. The other 10 MW would be met through a distributed-scale program for residential and commercial projects.”

    “The solar industry more than doubled the amount of solar installed in the U.S. in the second quarter of this year compared to 2011, and growth is expected to continue in the second half of 2012…

    “The top 10 states for total solar electric capacity are (in descending order): California, New Jersey, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Florida, Pennsylvania, New York and North Carolina. Georgia is not ranked in the top 25 states in terms of installed capacity…”

    A SYSTEM WITH 40% NEW ENERGY

    Renewables now cover more than 40% of electricity consumption; Large decrease in observed energy consumption and in greenhouse gas emissions in 2011, and consumption of renewable energy continues to grow…

    24 September 2012 (Danish Energy Agency)

    “Consumption of renewable energy increased in 2011 by 2.5%...as a result of a large increase in wind-power production…[R]enewables accounted for 23.6% of energy consumption in 2011, against 22.1% in 2010…[E]lectricity production based on renewable energy accounted for 40.7% of domestic electricity supply in 2011, of which wind power contributed 28.1%....[according to] the Danish Energy Agency…The February 2008 energy agreement included the goal that renewable energy was to cover at least 20% of adjusted gross energy consumption by 2011…[T]he percentage of renewable energy was actually 21.8% in 2011…

    “Observed energy consumption dropped by 6.4%... in 2011 and was almost down to the 1990 level. The large decrease is because the weather w\as warmer in 2011 than in 2010, and there was a larger contribution from wind power. Furthermore, Denmark was a net importer of electricity in 2011 and therefore used less fuel at power plants…Adjusted energy consumption, which describes the underlying trends, dropped by 0.9% in 2011…primarily due to lower transformation losses, as wind power accounts for a larger proportion of electricity supply.”

    “The goal on the 2008 energy agreement was for adjusted gross energy consumption to fall by 2% from 2006 to 2011. Gross energy consumption was reduced by 6.6% over the period, thereby exceeding the goal by a large margin…As GDP grew by 0.8% in 2011, energy efficiency improved by 1.7% in 2011. Energy efficiency improvements over the past two decades mean that each unit of GDP required 28.5% less energy in 2011 than in 1990…

    “…Observed CO2 emissions from energy consumption fell in 2011 by 10.6%...[A]djusted CO2 emissions fell by 2.8%. Since 1990 adjusted CO2 emissions have been reduced by 25.2%...Danish production of crude oil, natural gas and renewable energy etc. fell by 9.8% in 2011…Denmark was the only EU member state to be energy self-sufficient. The degree of self-sufficiency for energy for Denmark was 110% in 2011 compared with 121% in the previous year. This means that energy production was 10% higher than energy consumption in 2011.”

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

    TODAY’S STUDY: NEW ENERGY IN THE SUBURBS

    A Clean Electricity Vision for Long Island; Supplying 100% of Long Island’s Electricity Needs with Renewable Power

    Geoff Keith, Tim Woolf and Kenji Takahashi, August 29, 2012 (Synapse Energy Economics)

    Introduction

    In recent years a number of cities and states worldwide have established aggressive renewable energy targets. For example:

    • San Francisco’s mayor has called for the city to supply 100% of its electricity needs from renewable energy sources by 2020, and the city has formed a task force to develop an implementation plan.1

    • The German city of Munich plans to serve all residential demand and the subway/tram system with renewable power by 2015, and all demand by 2025.2

    • In July of 2011, the Scottish government announced its Routemap for Renewable Energy in Scotland 2011 which sets a target for “the equivalent of all of Scotland’s electricity needs to come from renewables by 2020”.3

    • Under a Danish government plan announced November 25, 2011, 100% of Denmark's electricity and heat would come from renewable energy by 2035. By 2050, the entire energy supply -- electricity, heat, industry and transportation -- would come from renewables, according to the plan.4

    To be clear, renewable energy targets like these typically use an accounting framework in which some fossil-fueled electricity is used during certain hours of the year, and it is offset by additional renewable generation or the purchase of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs).

    This study focuses on an aggressive move to renewable energy – and energy efficiency – on Long Island. The study was commissioned by Renewable Energy Long Island and other member organizations of the Long Island Clean Energy Roundtable, funded by the Long Island Community Foundation and the Rauch Foundation. The analysis was performed by Synapse Energy Economics.

    Specifically, this study examines a future in which Long Island generates or contracts for renewable energy sufficient to meet all of its residential electricity needs by 2020 and all of its electricity needs by 2030. The 2030 vision includes the use of some fossil-fueled generation, which is offset by the purchase of Renewable Energy Credits. This “Clean Electricity Vision” (CEV) is compared to a “Reference Case” future, based on the current plan for meeting Long Island’s electricity needs. The two scenarios are compared in a detailed spreadsheet analysis, with attention to annual energy requirements, installed capacity requirements and a constrained regional transmission system. The scenarios are compared in terms of the resource mixes, costs and carbon emissions. The CEV would provide benefits in addition to carbon reductions – environmental benefits, local economic development and reduced exposure to fossil fuel prices – but these benefits are not quantified here.

    The study provides a first-order look at costs and feasibility. The intent is not to lay out a detailed resource plan, but to inform the discussion of these issues and to prompt further analysis. Both scenarios should be examined with an hourly dispatch model to better understand potential costs associated with variable generation, operating reserves and maintaining system stability.

    The sections below present the study’s methodology, key assumptions and conclusions. However, we begin by describing the key challenge inherent in a rapid move to renewable electricity.

    The Challenge of Peak Loads

    Regional power systems must not only provide enough energy to meet demand, they must also be able to accommodate minimum and maximum loads and periods when loads are changing rapidly. While wind and solar energy is abundant, it cannot be dispatched at will like a gas-fired power plant.5 In order to meet peak loads entirely with renewable energy, a system would have to be dramatically overbuilt, leading to oversupply during off-peak periods, or it would need large amounts of electricity storage capacity. Over the long term, fully renewable power systems with sufficient storage capacity make sense – in fact they may be our only option in the long run. But moving to this paradigm within the next decade or two would be extremely expensive. This is why the more aggressive renewable energy targets typically allow for some fossil-fueled generation.

    In the Northeastern U.S., there is a well established system of tradable Renewable Energy Credits (RECs). A certificate is created for each MWh of renewable generation, and these certificates can be purchased with the energy from the generator or they can be purchased separately. The RECs provide an additional source of revenue for renewable power projects, and they ensure that multiple entities do not claim to be buying the same renewable energy. In addition, the price of RECs provides an important market signal which indicates when new renewable energy is in demand.

    In the Clean Electricity Vision laid out here, Long Island would contract for a large amount of renewable energy along with the associated RECs. It would continue to meet a large portion of its capacity requirements with fossil-fueled units that operate very little. It would rely on other fossil-fueled units for both capacity and to follow fluctuations in renewable generation. Overall, in 2020 the Island would be meeting nearly 50% of its energy requirement with renewable energy generated on Island or purchased from off Island. This would likely be sufficient renewable energy to serve all residential customers on the Island. By 2030 the Island would be meeting 75% of its annual electric energy needs with a mix of owned and purchased renewable energy. It would meet the remaining 25% of its needs with fossil-fueled generation and purchase an equal amount of RECs to give the Island, in effect, a 100% renewable electricity supply…

    The Resource Mixes

    The energy mixes in our Reference Case (RC) and CEV are shown in Figure 2. The details of these resource mixes appear in Tables A3 through A6 in the Appendix. These tables show specified amounts of generic resource types, and we indicate whether each resource is located on or off the Island and whether the contract is for energy, capacity or both. They also show the energy production of each resource type, as well as the nameplate capacity and the amount of capacity credited to the NY ISO’s Long Island locational capacity requirement (LI LCR).14

    The Reference Case

    In 2020, the Reference Case energy mix is 13% renewable. In 2030, renewables make up 21%. The PV projects located on island and the offshore wind provide both energy and capacity. We assume that all other renewable energy is obtained in the form of long-term contracts for energy and RECs but not capacity.15 As noted, we add transmission costs to wind sited in Upstate New York and Maine; however these costs are intended to address constraints in those areas, not to allow the projects to provide capacity on Long Island.

    The Reference Case also includes 1,100 MW of new combined-cycle capacity on the Island, added between 2020 and 2030.

    The Clean Electricity Vision

    Figure 2 above also shows the 2020 energy mix in the CEV. In this scenario, the same cost assumptions are used for supply-side resources as in the Reference Case; however costs per MWh differ due to different assumed capacity factors. Assumed fuel costs are the same in both scenarios.

    By 2020, Long Island is generating or purchasing renewable energy sufficient to meet 48% of its electricity needs, or approximately all of its residential demand. By 2030, it is meeting 75% of its electricity supply with renewable energy. The vast majority of this energy is from wind. By 2030 there are 2,250 MWs of offshore wind connected directly to the Long Island grid, producing roughly 8,480 GWh per year. The Island is also purchasing 6,190 GWh per year from onshore wind farms (off Island). There are 800 MWs of energy storage capacity on the Island, moving 2,240 GWh per year (equal to 16% of the total wind energy) from off-peak to on-peak periods.

    There are 900 MWs of PV on the Island, producing nearly 1,500 GWh per year. Smaller amounts of landfill gas, biomass and hydropower are also contributing to the mix.

    In 2030, in addition to the renewable energy discussed above, Long Island is relying on 6,260 GWhs of fossil or nuclear generation to meet its electricity needs. We include in the CEV the cost of an equal amount of RECs, priced at $25 per MWh.

    Figure 3 shows the capacity being used to meet capacity requirements in the two scenarios. For capacity analysis, offshore wind capacity is derated to 30% of nameplate, and PV capacity is derated based on the percentage of PV energy in the resource mix. In both scenarios PV capacity is derated to 44% of nameplate in the 2020. In the CEV in 2030, PV is 6% of the energy mix and is derated to 38% of nameplate capacity.16 Resources not shown in Figure 3 (such as biomass) are not being used to meet capacity requirements – the purchase is for energy only. Note that, while a considerable amount of fossil-fueled capacity is being used to meet capacity obligations, it is contributing a much smaller fraction of energy (Figure 2).

    Note that this analysis does not consider the effects of demand response markets in New York. In these markets, customers are paid a monthly fee to reduce their demand when directed to do so by the power system operators. Demand response reduces peak loads, and it also helps accommodate variable generation. Currently, there are robust and growing demand response markets in New York, New England and PJM, however simulating these markets was beyond the scope of this work.

    It is important to note that, while we have tried to make rational choices in developing the CEV, it is not necessarily the optimal scenario. Exploring the impacts of other renewable fuel mixes would be useful future work.

    Net Impacts of the Clean Electricity Vision… Issues and Uncertainties…PV Additions… Distribution System Costs…

    Conclusions

    The major conclusions of this work are as follows.

    • It appears technically feasible for Long Island to have a 100% renewable and zero-carbon electricity supply by 2030, using many existing resources for capacity and using RECs to offset a modest amount of fossil generation.

    • The incremental, annual power supply cost of the CEV in 2020 (relative to the Reference Case) would be in the range of 23% in 2020 and 16% in 2030.

    • Average customer bills across all rate classes could be expected to increase by about 12% in 2020 and about 8% in 2030, relative to the Reference Case.

    • The CEV would provide dramatic reductions in actual carbon emissions (in the range of 80% by 2030), and with the purchase of RECs, the Island would in effect be paying for a CO2-free electricity supply.

    • An aggressive move to renewable energy would provide benefits that have not been addressed here, including local economic development, reduced fuel price risk and reduced environmental and health impacts of power generation.

    In addition, further work in the following areas would be useful.

    • This CEV should be investigated with an hourly dispatch model. Important areas to explore are the accommodation of variable generation, the impact of expanding demand response markets, differences in the need for operating reserves and maintaining system stability.

    • Energy efficiency is by far the lowest cost electricity resource at Long Island’s disposal, and many utilities are capturing more efficiency than LIPA is today. Several states are now funding efforts to capture “all cost effective” efficiency opportunities. The prospects for raising New York State’s funding levels and efficiency goals should be explored.

    QUICK NEWS, September 26: GE AND WIND BUILDERS BREAK TEXAS WIREJAM; JERSEY BUYS 15 MW DELAWARE SUN; THE MILITARY SALUTES NEW ENERGY

    GE AND WIND BUILDERS BREAK TEXAS WIREJAM GE Working With ETT On Upgrades To Texas Transmission System

    21 September 2012 (North American Windpower)

    “GE…is working with Electric Transmission Texas LLC, a joint venture between subsidiaries of American Electric Power and MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., on upgrades to the Texas transmission system that will allow more wind energy to be transmitted from rural generation facilities to high-demand urban areas.

    “As a part of the $7 billion Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ) initiative, the companies will undertake a series-compensation project. Under the terms of the contract, GE will install eight series-compensation banks at four different facilities owned by ETT in western and central Texas.”

    “For this project, GE will provide series-compensation banks - complete with bypass breakers, relay control houses and battery equipment - to ETT. In addition, GE will provide project management, installation services, training and long-term maintenance support…

    “Materials for this project will be shipped throughout the first and second quarters of 2013, and banks will be installed and tested in the second half of the year. Commercial operation is slated to begin between October and November of 2013.”

    JERSEY BUYS 15 MW DELAWARE SUN PSEG Solar Source Buys 15 MW Delaware Project

    25 September 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “PSEG Solar Source has completed the acquisition of a 15 MW solar project in Milford, Del., from juwi solar Inc. (JSI)… JSI will engineer, procure and oversee construction of the facility, as well as perform operation and maintenance services…[Construction] will begin this month.

    “The project has a power purchase agreement in place for energy and solar renewable energy credits with Delaware Municipal Electric Corp. It will be owned by PSEG Solar Source, a subsidiary of PSEG, a diversified energy company based in New Jersey…Upon completion, which is scheduled for the fourth quarter of this year, the installation will be largest solar farm in Delaware…This is the fifth solar project built by JSI for PSEG Solar Source.”

    THE MILITARY SALUTES NEW ENERGY Renewable Energy for Military Applications; Solar, Wind, Biomass, Geothermal, Hydrokinetic Energy, Biofuels and Synfuels, Fuel Cells, Microgrids, Smart Meters, and Energy Efficiency: U.S. Market Analysis and Forecasts

    3Q 2012 (Pike Research/Navigant)

    “As the largest single consumer of energy in the world, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is one of the most important drivers for the cleantech market today. The DOD has developed a comprehensive strategy to reduce energy consumption, improve battlefield effectiveness, increase energy security, and reduce costs. The Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps are each implementing detailed plans to achieve ambitious renewable energy and energy efficiency targets that, in most cases, are likely to be achieved by 2025, including 3 gigawatts (GW) of renewable power generation at military facilities, primarily via third-party financing.”

    “Spanning from research and development to base and battlefield deployment, military applications of clean technologies are growing, but there are considerable operational and political challenges that, as in cleantech markets in civilian markets, pose threats to fully realizing these opportunities. Pike Research expects that the expenditures on renewable energy by the Department of Defense will reach $1.8 billion by 2025, growing from $163 million in 2013.”

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

    TODAY’S STUDY: A PLAIN OLD ROOFTOP SOLAR SYSTEM’S PERFORMANCE

    Output Performance and Payback Analysis of a Residential Photovoltaic System in Colorado

    Steve Johnston, June 2012 (National Renewable Energy Laboratory)

    Abstract

    Cost of installation and ownership of a 9.66- kilowatt (kW) residential photovoltaic system is described, and the performance of this system over the past 3 years is shown. The system is located in Colorado at 40° latitude and consists of arrays on two structures. Two arrays are installed on a detached garage, and these are each composed of 18 Kyocera 130-W modules strung in series facing south at an angle of 40° above horizontal. Each 18-panel array feeds into a Xantrex/Schneider Electric 2.8-kW inverter. The other two arrays are installed on the house and face south at an angle of 30°. One of these arrays has twelve 205-W Kyocera panels in series, and the other is made up of twelve 210- Kyocera panels. Each of these arrays feeds into Xantrex/Schneider Electric 3.3- kW inverters. Although there are various shading issues from trees and utility poles and lines, the overall output resembles that which is expected from PVWatts, a solar estimate program. The array cost, which was offset by rebates from the utility company and federal tax credits, was $1.17 per watt. Considering measured system performance, the estimated payback time of the system is 9 years.

    INTRODUCTION

    Solar energy in a large portion of the U.S. is expected to become cheaper than conventional power from the grid by 2017. Costs of solar panels and installation continue to decrease, while the cost of electricity continues to rise. The solar market will be driven by grid parity within regions. While federal incentives provide a good foundation for the expansion of solar, state-level incentives seem to truly make solar energy competitive. At the moment, the U.S. is the 4th largest solar market in the world, and that market grew from ~900 MW in 2010 to 2 GW in 2011.

    PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEM PERFORMANCE

    A 9.66-kilowatt (kW) residential photovoltaic system is located in Colorado at 40° latitude and consists of four arrays on two structures. Two arrays are installed on the house and face south at an angle of 30° above horizontal, as shown in Figs. 1 and 2. The east array has twelve 205-W Kyocera panels in series, and the west array is made up of twelve 210-W Kyocera panels. Each of these arrays feeds into Xantrex/Schneider Electric 3.3-kW inverters.

    Three rows of panels are installed on a detached garage, as shown in Fig. 3. Each row is composed of 12 Kyocera 130-W modules facing south at an angle of 40° above horizontal. The rows are spaced apart so that, even in winter, panels are not shadowed by the row in front of them. The three rows are strung into two arrays of 18 panels each that feed into Xantrex/Schneider Electric 2.8-kW inverters. One array consists of the back row, shown in Fig. 4, and the right half of the middle row. The other array includes the front row with the left half of the middle row.

    Although the back row array is sufficiently spaced away from trees and poles, there are shading issues from trees, utility poles, and power lines for the front array on the detached garage, as shown in Fig. 5.

    In the winter, the snow slides off the arrays on the back garage quite easily, because for each row, there is open space below the panels. However, on the house arrays, there is roof space below the arrays where snow tends to pile up after sliding down the arrays. This piled-up snow continues to shade significant areas of the panels on the bottom rows and severely inhibits the performance of the array. Manual removal of some of this snow quickly accelerates melting and restores array production.

    Energy output of each array over the past 3 years (2009– 2012) has been averaged and plotted in Fig. 6. The plots show the average amount of energy in kilowatt-hours (kWh) per day over the course of a year.

    The modeled amount of energy is calculated from a program called PVWatts, which is available at www.nrel.gov/rredc/pvwatts. The 3-year-averaged data follow the modeled output quite well, with the exception of the detached garage’s front array. Integrated energy output over the course of a year is compared to that predicted by PVWatts. As plotted in the bottom graphs of Fig. 6, the house east array has an annual average output of 3503 kWh compared to the predicted value of 3556 kWh. The west array has produced 3555 kWh out of the predicted 3644 kWh. The periodically shadowed front array on the detached garage has produced 2823 kWh of its predicted 3400 kWh amount, while the back array, which is hardly affected by shadowing, has produced 3428 kWh of the predicted 3400 kWh. In total, the system has annually been producing 13,309 kWh of the predicted 14,000 kWh, which is 95%.

    The solar panels and system components were bought and installed between 2006 and 2009. At this time, the average prices paid for the solar panels and inverters were $4.13 and $0.74 per watt, respectively. With the recent rapid drop in prices for photovoltaic components due to economies of scale and fierce global competition, prices in early 2012 are down to $1.40 (modules) and $0.57 (inverters) per watt. Other costs (in $/watt) include installation hardware, such as Unistrut for mounts (0.438); wiring, electrical enclosures, conduit, and other electronic materials (0.211); shipping costs (0.174); sales taxes (0.0978); and permits (0.0632). Normally, installation would be a significant cost, but since this system was self-installed, there are no labor costs.

    In November of 2004, Colorado passed Amendment 37, which requires utilities to provide 10% of their electricity generation from renewable energy sources by 2020. In 2010, this goal was increased to 30%. The utility companies (Xcel Energy, in this case) have offered rebates to those customers that install solar to help meet this goal. Rebates have followed the cost of solar panels, so in this time period, the Xcel rebates received for these installed modules averaged $4.156 per watt. The federal government also offered tax incentives for renewable energy systems. The tax credit was 30% of the balance of the net cost, and these credits were $0.529 per watt.

    The total cost of $5.854 per watt less the rebates and credits of $4.685 per watt leads to a net cost of $1.17 per watt. This value is near to the $1 per watt goal of the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, where the targeted cost of electricity is 6 ¢/kWh. Using the total estimated annual energy output of these arrays (including shading) of 13,309 kWh, and the current cost of electricity of 9.3 ¢/kWh, the annual revenue is $1,240 per year. System cost divided by annual revenue gives a payback time of 9.0 years for this system. If the system produces the annual amount of electricity for 20 years, the cost of electricity based on the $1.17 per watt system cost is 4.21 ¢/kWh, but the inverters may not last the 20 years expected of the panels. If inverters must be replaced after 10 years, and the cost is roughly $0.57 per watt, then the extra cost leads to a 6.26 ¢/kWh cost of electricity over the 20-year period.

    CONCLUSION

    Colorado’s state incentive has made the cost of photovoltaic solar energy competitive with that of electricity currently purchased from the grid. Including U.S. federal tax credits, the cost of a photovoltaic solar array was $1.17 per watt, which leads to a 9-year system payback and a cost of electricity ranging from 4.2 to 6.3 ¢/kWh over a 20-year period.

    QUICK NEWS, September 25: BIGGEST ONLAND WIND GOES ONLINE; COLLABORATION TO ADVANCE ENERGY STORAGE; THE REAL COSTS OF ENERGIES REVEALED

    BIGGEST ONLAND WIND GOES ONLINE Caithness Shepherds Flat Commences Official Operations; Becomes One of the World's Largest Wind Farms

    September 22, 2012 (PR Newswire)

    “Caithness Energy announced…its Shepherds Flat Wind Farm is operational and generating up to 845 Megawatts of clean wind energy…”

    “Located in northeastern Oregon…the project – one of the world's largest wind farms – will play an important role in harnessing the power of wind energy…The project's output is contracted through 20-year power purchase agreements with Southern California Edison.”

    “…Caithness Shepherds Flat…will eliminate 1.483 million metric tons of CO2 annually, the equivalent of taking approximately 260,000 cars off the road…[And it] will enhance Oregon's economy. Producing an estimated 2 billion kWh each year, the Wind Farm will have an annual economic impact of $37 million for the State. Additionally, the project employed over 400 workers during its construction, and will permanently employ 45 workers.

    “The Wind Farm resulted from a successful collaboration between the public and private sectors…[Caithness] leveraged the talents and expertise of…GE Energy Financial Services, Google, Tyr Energy, and Sumitomo Corporation of America. The project also enjoys the support of Oregon's elected officials on the federal, state and local levels, and was one of the first clean energy projects to utilize the U.S. Department of Energy's loan guarantee program…”

    COLLABORATION TO ADVANCE ENERGY STORAGE Energy-Storage Companies Partner To Tackle Renewable Energy Integration

    21 September 2012 (North American Windpower)

    “Energy-storage providers Altair Nanotechnologies Inc. and EnerDel Inc… have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to co-market and cross-sell each other's product portfolios.

    “Each company will now be able to offer a much broader line of lithium-ion-based energy-storage systems from individual cells and modules in order to complete systems that offer multiple chemistries and technologies…”

    [Alexander Lee, CEO, Altair Nanotechnologies:] "Electric-grid customers are interested in combining high power and high energy battery systems to solve the challenges of renewable integration and ancillary services…This MOU allows each company to expand its market presence while creating real value for our customers."

    “The agreement is effective immediately, and the companies will start representing each other’s products as part of their regular sales efforts in the coming weeks.”

    THE REAL COSTS OF ENERGIES REVEALED 'Hidden Costs' Revealed: Where Does Solar Rank Among Energy Sources?

    20 September 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “Solar power's detractors frequently describe solar as "secretly" non-environmentally-friendly. They point to the PV module manufacturing process, utility-scale arrays' potential impacts to land and wildlife, and concentrating solar power (CSP) plants' on-site water usage as examples of attributes that negate the environmental benefits of deploying this renewable energy source.

    “But when all of the impacts are considered and all the costs are tallied, how does solar compare to other common energy sources? … The Hidden Costs of Electricity: Comparing the Hidden Costs of Power Generation Fuels suggests that the indirect or externalized costs of fossil fuels, nuclear power and biomass still outweigh those of solar power…[D]emands on increasingly scarce water are a major hidden cost of a business-as-usual approach to American electricity generation that needs to be more fully understood…”

    “Solar power, however, did not rank as a prime offender in this critical water-usage category. Rather, nuclear power, coal-fired power, biomass and natural gas (obtained via fracking) were called out as particularly water-intensive energy sources. Open-looped coal-fired power plants, for instance, use between 20,000 and 50,000 gallons/MWh. Although most of the water is reclaimed, it is returned at a higher temperature and lower quality…[W]ind and solar photovoltaic power require little water…[and CSP] requires water for cooling purposes, but new technologies are placing greater emphasis on dry cooling…

    “Solar's subsidies and tax incentives, as well as land impacts, are rated as moderate. Although distributed-generation rooftop PV occupies no land, some utility-scale plants have caused concern…”

    Monday, September 24, 2012

    TODAY’S STUDY: MEDIA SPINNING SOLYNDRA

    STUDY: One Year Later, Media Still Providing One-Sided Solyndra Coverage

    Jill Fitzsimmmons, Max Greenberg, Shauna Theel, September 7, 2012 (Media Matters)

    Media Matters analysis finds that Fox News has aided Republican efforts to make Solyndra the face of clean energy in 2012 by incessantly covering it a year after the company declared bankruptcy. Meanwhile, mainstream media outlets have disproportionately hosted opponents of clean energy to discuss Solyndra, and uncritically repeated allegations that Solyndra's loan guarantee was politically motivated, even though a yearlong investigation has found no evidence to support the "crony capitalism" narrative.

    Fox News Still Relentlessly Covering Solyndra

    In 2012, Fox News Covered Solyndra More Than Other Major TV Outlets Combined. Since January, Fox News has discussed Solyndra 84 times in primetime, despite there being very little news to report. Fox's coverage amounted to more than three times that of ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and MSNBC combined. From a study of substantial mentions of and segments on Solyndra for ABC, CBS, NBC and the primetime shows of Fox News, CNN and MSNBC:

    Opponents Of Clean Energy Investments Outnumbered Proponents In TV Appearances On Solyndra.

    Of those hosted or quoted by the major TV networks on Solyndra, 71 percent opposed clean energy investments like the Department of Energy's loan guarantee program, while only 25 percent supported such investments. CBS, NBC, Fox News, and CNN hosted more opponents than proponents, while ABC and MSNBC hosted an even number on both sides.

    Media Failed To Mention That Congress Anticipated And Budgeted For Defaults.

    In the media's discussion of Solyndra, less than 1 percent of TV coverage and 4 percent of print coverage explained that Congress expected that not all projects would succeed. None of the major outlets explained that most loans went to low-risk generation projects. Congress budgeted $2.47 billion, or more than 15 percent of the total value of approved 1705 loan guarantees, to cover for defaults. To date, only three out of the 26 recipients of 1705 loan guarantees have filed for bankruptcy, with losses estimated at just over $600 million. All three of the defaults were higher risk loans. But a Bloomberg Government study found that "87 percent of the $16.1 billion in loan guarantees is backing 18 power generation projects, which have a low risk of default because they were required to have buyers for their power output." That study found that even if all of the higher risk (non-generation) projects defaulted on the full amount of their loan guarantees and "no assets were to be recovered, the DOE would still have $446 million remaining to cover additional project losses." [Media Matters, 12/6/11] [Media Matters, 6/29/12]

    Media Advanced Baseless "Crony Capitalism" Allegations

    Media Uncritically Repeated Charges Of "Crony Capitalism," Ignoring Facts That Run Counter To GOP Narrative. Thirty-nine percent of television coverage and 18 percent of print coverage repeated Republican claims that Solyndra is an example of "crony capitalism" and that politics played a role in the loan guarantee, without noting that there is no evidence to support this charge. The Washington Post uncritically mentioned cronyism charges in 45 percent of coverage -- more than any other print outlet. ABC repeated these charges in every one of its segments on Solyndra, and CBS and CNN did so in 50 percent of coverage. While the broadcast networks never disputed the allegations, 6 percent of cable coverage and 7.5 percent of newspaper coverage criticized those charges (critical coverage is not counted against outlets in the graph below).

    While advancing these baseless allegations, media largely ignored facts that undermine this narrative. Mainstream outlets said in 25 percent of coverage that some Solyndra investors donated to President Obama, but they almost entirely ignored the fact that Republican donors like the Walton family also invested in Solyndra. Not a single media outlet mentioned that Solyndra attracted more than $1 billion in private capital and was seen by many as a promising, innovative company. And only 3 percent of TV coverage and less than one percent of print coverage mentioned that the loan process for Solyndra started under the Bush administration. [Media Matters, 9/19/11]

    A Long Investigation Turned Up No Evidence Of Wrongdoing. BloombergBusinessweek's Joshua Green reported that an extensive investigation by House Republicans found no evidence of wrongdoing in the loan guarantee program. He also noted that Solyndra was seen by many business experts as promising…Businessweek, 2/17/12, emphasis added] [Media Matters, 9/19/11]...Oversight Committee Chairman: "Is There Political Influence And Connections [Involved In Solyndra]? Perhaps Not." Politico reported…Republican Acknowledged That Continued Solyndra Investigations Are Politically Motivated. E&E News reported…"Ultimately, we'll stop it on Election Day, hopefully. And bringing attention to these things helps the voters and citizens of the country make the kind of decision that I hope helps them as they evaluate who they are going to vote for in November." [E&E News, 3/21/12…Bush Admin. Advanced 16 Projects, Including Solyndra, Out Of 143 Submissions…

    Media Outlets Miss The Big Picture

    Media Failed To Explain Shifting Market Conditions Impacting Solyndra:

    A Labor Department investigation found that foreign competition "contributed importantly" to Solyndra's failure, causing a large drop in the price of the silicon-based solar panels with which Solyndra was competing. But foreign competition was mentioned in just 12 percent of TV coverage and 13 percent of print coverage, and many of these reports cited competition to argue that the government shouldn't have invested in Solyndra in the first place. Other market factors were entirely ignored by TV outlets, and mentioned in just 13 percent of print coverage. [Bay Citizen,11/21/11]

    Media Overlooked Fossil Fuel Subsidies:

    While media outlets debated the merits of investing in clean energy, they rarely mentioned that the fossil fuel industry has long benefited from large, permanent subsidies that make it difficult for solar power to compete. According to a 2011 study from venture capital firm DBL Investors on inflation-adjusted energy subsidy spending, "federal commitment to [oil and gas] was five times greater than the federal commitment to renewables during the first 15 years of each subsidies' life." And a Congressional Budget Office issue brief on federal financial support for energy development noted that "Under current law, most of the tax preferences for energy efficiency and renewable energy will expire, but preferences for fossil fuels are permanent." But not a single TV outlet made this point, and only 6 percent of print coverage mentioned fossil fuel subsidies. The Wall Street Journal, which ran stories about Solyndra more often than other major publications, only mentioned existing fossil fuel subsidies once. In a January 30 editorial, the Journal argued that President Obama should implement "a Solyndra Rule, in which no commercial energy company should receive millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies," but did not mention fossil fuel subsidies. [DBL Investors, September 2011] [Congressional Budget Office, March 2012] [Wall Street Journal, 1/30/12]

    Climate Change Largely Absent From Clean Energy Conversation.

    One of the main goals of investing in clean energy companies is to create a thriving clean energy sector that can mitigate the risks of manmade climate change. But not a single TV outlet mentioned climate change while covering Solyndra, and just over 5 percent of print coverage mentioned it. Two Wall Street Journal stories on Solyndra mentioned climate change -- tying the paper with the Associated Press for the lead in that category -- but both were opinion pieces by writers who questioned the underlying science. [Wall Street Journal, 1/25/12] [Wall Street Journal, 3/9/12]

    Methodology

    We searched Nexis and Factiva databases for substantial mentions of Solyndra (more than one sentence) between January 1, 2012, and August 31, 2012. Our analysis includes six major print outlets (New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Associated Press and Wall Street Journal), the major broadcast networks (ABC, NBC and CBS), and the primetime shows on CNN, MSNBC and Fox.

    QUICK NEWS, September 24: EVERYBODY WANTS MORE WIND; BIG MONEY IN SOLAR SERVICING; BUSINESS FACES CLIMATE CHANGE

    EVERYBODY WANTS MORE WIND 19 Companies, Including Starbucks And Levi Strauss, Urge Congress To Extend Wind Tax Credit

    Stephen Lacey, September 18, 2012 (Climate Progress)

    “A group of 19 leading companies has sent a letter to Congress asking lawmakers to immediately extend a key tax credit for wind that is set to expire at the end of the year. The diverse coalition of firms, which includes Ben & Jerry’s, Johnson & Johnson, Levi Strauss, Starbucks, and Yahoo!, says that raising taxes on the wind sector would be bad for businesses that buy large amounts of wind electricity.

    “These companies join a very large bi-partisan chorus of renewable energy supporters asking Congress to give the wind industry some certainty and put the sector on a level tax playing field with the oil and gas industry, which enjoys billions of dollars in permanent tax benefits…[T]his latest group of prominent companies is…[arguing that ending] support for wind isn’t just bad for the wind industry, it’s bad for downstream non-utility companies that procure energy from wind…”

    “These 19 leading companies are part of the Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP), a project from the sustainability advocacy group Ceres. They say that failure to extend the wind credit will add new costs to businesses throughout the economy. Interestingly, far-right conservative groups aggressively opposed to raising taxes are the only ones coming out in opposition to the wind tax credit.

    “Over last five years, wind has brought $20 billion of annual private investment to the U.S., according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). There are now 75,000 jobs across the country in wind manufacturing, operations, maintenance and education…[F]ailure to extend the wind tax credit could result in up to 37,000 job losses in the coming year.”

    BIG MONEY IN SOLAR SERVICING PV Installed Base in US Offers New Revenue Prospects for Systems Providers; Post-Installation Service Contracts Adding Thousands of New Sales Prospects in the Near Term

    September 11, 2012 (SolarBuzz)

    “Previously over-looked opportunities are now emerging for photovoltaic (PV) systems providers within the United States by addressing the growing requirement for post-installation service contracts across multiple installation sites, such as municipalities and school districts…

    “This incremental opportunity represents more than 2,000 immediate new targets for PV systems providers within the US, as a complement to the 37 GW of PV pipeline above the 50 kW level dating back to January 2010…”

    “Completed PV projects in the US now exceed those being installed or planned. More than half of the PV projects are completed, with less than a tenth in the installation phase and slightly more than a third in planning stages…A variety of opportunities now exist for PV systems providers targeting the multi-GW PV installed base…[including] post-installation service contracts across many individual and multiple sites, options to expand the size of existing PV installations, and the potential to up-grade original site installs with advances in PV technology…

    Accessing comprehensive details of the back-catalog of completed PV installations above 50 kW in the US is critical to succeed within this new revenue segment. Establishing relationships with commercial PV systems owners also provides the scope for system expansion or new project development in the future… The NPD Solarbuzz United States Deal Tracker reports [in detail such] project activity…”

    BUSINESS FACES CLIMATE CHANGE Starting to tackle climate change

    Trish Wheaten, September 20, 2012 (The Hill)

    “…Corporate America is warming to the idea that profitability and environmental sustainability are not mutually exclusive. The world will not be able to stave off the environmental calamities threatening our planet --like climate change -- without a strong commitment from America's business community...[Profit is] an incentive to make that commitment.

    “The threat climate change poses to our way of life is real…Elevated temperatures don't just damage the environment -- they have an adverse effect on the economy…The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts that the severe drought that afflicted the Midwest this summer will reduce average corn yields to their lowest levels in 17 years. As a result, corn prices could soon rise to $8.90 per bushel, up from just $5 a bushel in June…[which] could drive up the cost of food -- and even lead to shortages. Both farmers and consumers could pay dearly…”

    “…[M]any U.S. and global companies are taking concerted action to go green…Procter & Gamble, Ford, [Best Buy] and Coca-Cola have all instituted rigorous carbon footprint targets…Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Tesla are all increasing production rates for cars powered partially or entirely by electricity. Ford launched the Focus Electric…And General Motors is working on new technology that could power an electric car for up to 200 miles on a single charge.

    “Many firms have also started requiring their suppliers to develop and deliver products that meet aggressive environmental standards. Levi's, for instance, has committed to becoming carbon neutral and using renewable energy exclusively throughout its supply chain…75 percent of [WalMart’s] California stores now use solar power to run their operations…Because of their sheer size, corporate behemoths can have a sizeable positive impact…Wal-Mart, for instance, has more than 10,000 stores worldwide…”

    Saturday, September 22, 2012

    President Clinton On Tattos And New Energy

    Despite malicious misinformation propagated by the LA Times, BrightSource Energy’s Ivanpah solar power plants complex is going up on time and on budget with due respect to the Mojave Desert environment.

    Like over 95 percent of the loans provided to New Energy by the Obama administration to balance longstanding federal support for the Old Energies, the federal investment in Ivanpah is on track to bring back full repayment with interest to taxpayers. It will also help keep electricity rates in control when, over the long run, volatile fossil fuel prices rise while the sun goes on shining cost-free.

    As President Clinton notes here, Ivanpah is a stellar example of creative cooperation between government and the private sector. From BrightSource via YouTube

    Big Wind In A Small Country

    This is what can be done when there is a national commitment. From igeotv via YouTube

    Climate Scientists See The Light

    Facing the facts. From PBS NewsHour via YouTube

    Friday, September 21, 2012

    EU AND CHINA JOIN TO FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE

    EU and China sign climate change deal

    Jon Parnell, 20 September 2012 (Responding To Climate Change)

    “The EU and China have announced details of a deal that will see the two work together on a series of environmental and climate change projects including the design of a Chinese carbon market…The total European financial contribution may only be €25m over a four year period but the EU’s role in the development of a Chinese emissions trading system could bode well for the future of the bloc’s own carbon market…

    “The EU will also help establish pilot projects in waste, water and sustainable urbanisation to help the Chinese government to reach its targets on carbon intensity reduction……[China’s] 12th five-year plan includes a 17% reduction in CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 2015, compared to 2005 levels…[It] is the largest overall emitter of greenhouse gas emissions largely as a result of its sheer size. Its emissions per capita rank it at 72nd globally behind Thailand, Azerbaijan and Mexico.”

    “The five-year plan also called for work to develop carbon trading platforms…The country has already started developing seven regional pilot programmes and the help from the EU could signal an acceleration towards a nationwide Chinese trading platform…Collaboration with a Chinese carbon market would be a welcome boost to the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), which saw prices drop to a record €4.99 per tonne of CO2 this April…Any future link up between the EU and Chinese trading platforms would be made easier if the two systems had similar designs…

    “At the UNFCCC climate negotiations in Durban last year, China broke from its previous position and said it would consider making legally binding emissions targets through the UN, on the conditions that all countries did the same…The shift was a major contribution to the signing of the Durban Platform, the first fragile step towards a global deal on greenhouse gas emissions.”

    WORLD SUN STILL GROWING

    Global Solar PV Installations in 2012 to Grow Despite Strong Headwinds

    Raj Prabhu, September 2012 (Mecom Capital Group)

    “Solar demand continues to defy odds so far in 2012, which may result in another year of growth contrary to pessimistic views early in the year. Module prices continue to fall spurring demand. Tier 1 modules are now in the ~$0.70 range, after falling about 20 percent this year, and about 60 percent since the beginning of 2011. Negative forecasts have turned positive.

    “Stubborn European demand, especially from Germany and Italy, is a big reason why the markets are doing well. Germany has already installed about 5 GW as of July, and is on pace to match [or exceed] last year’s 7.5 GW installations…[Italy] could end the year with around 3.5 GW in installations.”

    “The United States continues to do well, spurred by state RPSs and solar lease programs, while China set a goal of 21 GW of solar installations by 2015 and is looking to install about 5 GW this year. Japan’s new FiT program is one of the most attractive in the industry and could help drive the country’s large scale solar market which was previously non –existent. India, through its national and state programs, is on pace to install about 1 GW this year.

    “…[Many countries have cut subsidies] as growth around the world has slowed and serious efforts are being made to cut debt…[The] fall in module prices has been the demand driver in most markets…[but] the oversupply of [low cost Chinese panels] resulted in the United States imposing anti-dumping tariffs at about 35 percent on Chinese solar manufacturers..[I]nitial reaction was that it would hurt demand due to higher cost of panels. The European Union (EU) has now followed suit, making things much more serious as EU is a much larger market for Chinese panels…China is talking about retaliation…[T]his uncertainty does not bode well for the markets going into 2013…”

    ALL IT WOULD TAKE IS 4 MILLION TURBINES

    Geophysical limits to global wind power

    Kate Marvel, Ben Kravitz and Ken Caldeira, 9 September 2012 (Nature Climate Change)

    “There is enough power in Earth’s winds to be a primary source of near-zero-emission electric power as the global economy continues to grow through the twenty-first century…

    “Historically, wind turbines are placed on Earth’s surface, but high-altitude winds are usually steadier and faster than near-surface winds, resulting in higher average power densities. Here, we use a climate model to estimate the amount of power that can be extracted from both surface and high-altitude winds, considering only geophysical limits.”

    “We find wind turbines placed on Earth’s surface could extract kinetic energy at a rate of at least 400 TW, whereas high-altitude wind power could extract more than 1,800 TW.At these high rates of extraction, there are pronounced climatic consequences. However, we find that at the level of present global primary power demand (~ 18 TW; uniformly distributed wind turbines are unlikely to substantially affect the Earth’s climate…

    “It is likely that wind power growth will be limited by economic or environmental factors, not global geophysical limits...”

    EIRGRID LIGHTS UP IRELAND – UK WIND LINE

    Official Opening of Energy Link Between Ireland and Britain; Eirgrid Delivers East West Interconnector On Time And Under Budget…

    September 21, 2012 (EirGrid)

    “Ireland’s first electricity link with Great Britain was officially opened…The EirGrid East West Interconnector runs between Deeside in north Wales and Woodland, County Meath in Ireland. Approximately 260km in length, the underground and undersea link has the capacity to transport 500 megawatts – enough energy to power 300,000 homes…

    ‘The EirGrid Interconnector will carry electricity both ways, benefiting consumers by helping to improve security of supply, increase competitiveness and to encourage the growth of renewable energy generation. [The interconnector was estimated to cost €600 million and received a grant of €110 million from the European Union]…”

    [EirGrid Chief Executive Dermot Byrne:] “The Government asked EirGrid to deliver on this strategic infrastructure by 2012...It was a challenge and it was an achievement delivering the complex project on time and approximately €30 million under budget…[The Interconnector] is the single most important step in allowing Ireland to exploit and to export its enormous resources of renewable energy. Critically it also allows us to access energy from Britain and from across the European continent which will result in more competition to the energy market and put downward pressure on prices”.

    [Irish Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte TD:] “Energy infrastructure investment is a long term play. This interconnector is part of a series of major grid development projects which the Government has charged EirGrid to complete over this decade. Delivering such projects on budget and on time is essential so as to keep consumer electricity prices as low as possible…This development shows the benefit of Ireland working in a European context…”

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

    'DISILLUSIONMENT' IS THE 'ADOLESCENT' RESPONSE TO CLIMATE CHANGE

    Climate Change and Disillusionment: It, like, totally sucks, dude

    Mindy Berbeco, September 18, 2012 (Climate Change from the Biotic to the Exotic)

    “…One of the overlooked effects of climate change on people, though, is disillusionment. The reality is that climate change is here and man, that is depressing...[I]n my new job working for the National Center for Science Education, I get to hear all about climate change denial all day long. I like to believe I went through the 5 stages of denial when it came to my introduction the climate deniers’ literature: shock, annoyance, bargaining, disappointment, and eventually acceptance that they are insane.

    “In my job though we talk about “pillars of denial”… such as challenging the science, or the motives of the scientists, or accusing people of being ideologues. But these attempts at denial are becoming less relevant, as the public is becoming wise to this style of diverting the conversation. It’s just not hip anymore to be a climate denier…But as a child of the 90’s, I know that there is nothing more hip then disillusionment.”

    “Disillusionment is the muse of every alternative rock song, it is why you had a crush on that super-lame barista for like 6 years , and why you now sometimes stare out of an airplane window and rethink all of your life choices…Disillusionment is deep, it’s thoughtful, it’s all through literature and it is a clever new way to deny climate change…[T]he question is, when there is every reason in the world to be disillusioned, how can you possibly find hope? And this is where your adult self needs to fight your 15-year-old self…

    “…[Y]ou don’t get to do that anymore. Disillusionment is just another form of climate denial. It’s more insidious than other forms though, because it presents itself as more thoughtful and deep…But I argue this is the laziest form of climate denial – it requires no research, no intuition, no special degrees or corporate sponsors and no attacks on researchers — it’s so boring. All you have to do is lay back and let the world turn. And sure, you could live your life this way…[but you’re] not 15 anymore. Step it up people, the world is depending on you.”

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