- NewEnergyNews: 11/01/2012 - 12/01/2012

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, Oct. 30:

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

  • THE STUDY: THE DIFFERENT WAYS TO MAKE THE TRANSITION TO NEW ENERGY
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 29: WIND MAY TIP KANSAS ELECTION; YOUNG VOTERS BRING NEW ENERGY; GREEN BUILDINGS BOOMING
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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: THE AFFORDABILITY OF THE NEW ENERGY TRANSITION
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 28: WIND BOOMS AS ‘MOST AFFORDABLE ENERGY OPTION’; OBSTACLES AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR BIG SOLAR; GEOTHERMAL COMING BACK
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

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

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

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE- EU UPS THE WORLD’S BAR ON EMISSIONS CUT TARGETS
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-FIRST BIG MOROCCO SOLAR NEAR POWERING UP
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-NORTH SEA WIND-HYDRO INTERLINK TO GROW
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-TURKISH GEOTHERMAL GETS INTELLIGENT
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, is a biweekly contributor to NewEnergyNews

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT)

    November 26, 2013 (Huffington Post via NewEnergyNews)

    Everywhere we turn, environmental news is filled with horrid developments and glimpses of irreversible tipping points.

    Just a handful of examples are breathtaking: Scientists have dared to pinpoint the years at which locations around the world may reach runaway heat, and in the northern hemisphere it's well in sight for our children: 2047. Survivors of Superstorm Sandy are packing up as costs of repair and insurance go out of reach, one threat that climate science has long predicted. Or we could simply talk about the plight of bees and the potential impact on food supplies. Surprising no one who explores the Pacific Ocean, sailor Ivan MacFadyen described long a journey dubbed The Ocean is Broken, in which he saw vast expanses of trash and almost no wildlife save for a whale struggling a with giant tumor on its head, evoking the tons of radioactive water coming daily from Fukushima's lamed nuclear power center. Rampaging fishing methods and ocean acidification are now reported as causing the overpopulation of jellyfish that have jammed the intakes of nuclear plants around the world. Yet the shutting down of nuclear plants is a trifling setback compared with the doom that can result in coming days at Fukushima in the delicate job to extract bent and spent fuel rods from a ruined storage tank, a project dubbed "radioactive pick up sticks."

    With all these horrors to ponder you wouldn't expect to hear that you should also worry about the United States running out of coal. But you would be wrong, says Leslie Glustrom, founder and research director for Clean Energy Action. Her contention is that we've passed the peak in our nation's legendary supply of coal that powers over one-third of our grid capacity. This grim news is faithfully spelled out in three reports, with the complete story told in Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves (pdf). (Disclosure: I serve on CEA's board and have known the author for years.)

    Glustrom's research presents a sea change in how we should understand our energy challenges, or experience grim consequences. It's not only about toxic and heat-trapping emissions anymore; it's also about having enough energy generation to run big cities and regions that now rely on coal. Glustrom worries openly about how commerce will go on in many regions in 2025 if they don't plan their energy futures right.

    2013-11-05-FigureES4_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    Scrutinizing data for prices on delivered coal nationwide, Glustrom's new report establishes that coal's price has risen nearly 8 percent annually for eight years, roughly doubling, due mostly to thinner, deeper coal seams plus costlier diesel transport expenses. Higher coal prices in a time of "cheap" natural gas and affordable renewables means coal companies are lamed by low or no profits, as they hold debt levels that dwarf their market value and carry very high interest rates.

    2013-11-05-Table_ES2_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    2013-11-05-Figure_ES2_FULL.jpg

    One leading coal company, Patriot, filed for bankruptcy last year; many others are also struggling under bankruptcy watch and not eager to upgrade equipment for the tougher mining ahead. Add to this the bizarre event this fall of a coal lease failing to sell in Wyoming's Powder River Basin, the "Fort Knox" of the nation's coal supply, with some pundits agreeing this portends a tightening of the nation's coal supply, not to mention the array of researchers cited in the report. Indeed, at the mid point of 2013, only 488 millions tons of coal were produced in the U.S.; unless a major catch up happens by year-end, 2013 may be as low in production as 1993.

    Coal may exist in large quantities geologically, but economically, it's getting out of reach, as confirmed by US Geological Survey in studies indicating that less than 20 percent of US coal formations are economically recoverable, as explored in the CEA report. To Glustrom, that number plus others translate to 10 to 20 years more of burning coal in the US. It takes capital, accessible coal with good heat content and favorable market conditions to assure that mining companies will stay in business. She has observed a classic disconnect between camps of professionals in which geologists tend to assume money is "infinite" and financial analysts tend to assume that available coal is "infinite." Both biases are faulty and together they court disaster, and "it is only by combining thoughtful estimates of available coal and available money that our country can come to a realistic estimate of the amount of US coal that can be mined at a profit." This brings us back to her main and rather simple point: "If the companies cannot make a profit by mining coal they won't be mining for long."

    No one is more emphatic than Glustrom herself that she cannot predict the future, but she presents trend lines that are robust and confirmed assertively by the editorial board at West Virginia Gazette:

    Although Clean Energy Action is a "green" nonprofit opposed to fossil fuels, this study contains many hard economic facts. As we've said before, West Virginia's leaders should lower their protests about pollution controls, and instead launch intelligent planning for the profound shift that is occurring in the Mountain State's economy.

    The report "Warning, Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" and its companion reports belong in the hands of energy and climate policy makers, investors, bankers, and rate payer watchdog groups, so that states can plan for, rather than react to, a future with sea change risk factors.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    It bears mentioning that even China is enacting a "peak coal" mentality, with Shanghai declaring that it will completely ban coal burning in 2017 with intent to close down hundreds of coal burning boilers and industrial furnaces, or shifting them to clean energy by 2015. And Citi Research, in "The Unimaginable: Peak Coal in China," took a look at all forms of energy production in China and figured that demand for coal will flatten or peak by 2020 and those "coal exporting countries that have been counting on strong future coal demand could be most at risk." Include US coal producers in that group of exporters.

    Our world is undergoing many sorts of change and upheaval. We in the industrialized world have spent about a century dismissing ocean trash, overfishing, pesticides, nuclear hazard, and oil and coal burning with a shrug of, "Hey it's fine, nature can manage it." Now we're surrounded by impacts of industrial-grade consumption, including depletion of critical resources and tipping points of many kinds. It is not enough to think of only ourselves and plan for strictly our own survival or convenience. The threat to animals everywhere, indeed to whole systems of the living, is the grief-filled backdrop of our times. It's "all hands on deck" at this point of human voyaging, and in our nation's capital, we certainly don't have that. Towns, states and regions need to plan fiercely and follow through. And a fine example is Boulder Colorado's recent victory to keep on track for clean energy by separating from its electric utility that makes 59 percent of its power from coal.

    Clean Energy Action is disseminating "Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" for free to all manner of relevant professionals who should be concerned about long range trends which now include the supply risks of coal, and is supporting that outreach through a fundraising campaign.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    Author's note: Want to support my work? Please "fan" me at Huffpost Denver, here (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anne-butterfield). Thanks.

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    Anne's previous NewEnergyNews columns:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    Your intrepid reporter

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      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

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    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

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  • Friday, November 30, 2012

    MORE PROOF IT’S GETTING TOO HOT

    Polar Ice Sheets Shrinking Worldwide, Study Confirms; Rapid loss already contributing to sea level rise.

    Christine dell’Amore, November 29, 2012 (National Geographic)

    “The polar ice sheets are indeed shrinking—and fast, according to a comprehensive new study on climate change…And the effects, according to an international team, are equally clear—sea levels are rising faster than predicted, which could bring about disastrous effects for people and wildlife.

    “Rising seas would increase the risk of catastrophic flooding like that caused by Hurricane Sandy last month in New York and New Jersey. Environmental damage may include widespread erosion, contamination of aquifers and crops, and harm to marine life. And in the long term, rising seas may force hundreds of millions of people who live along the coast to abandon their homes.”

    “By reconciling nearly two decades of often conflicting satellite data into one format—in other words, comparing apples to apples—the new study, published in the journal Science, made a more confident estimate of what's called ice sheet mass balance. That refers to how much snow is deposited on an ice sheet versus how much is lost, either due to surface melting or ice breaking off glaciers.

    “Between 1992—when polar satellite measurements began—and 2011, the results show that all of the polar regions except for East Antarctica are losing ice, said study leader Andrew Shepherd, a professor of earth observation at the University of Leeds in the U.K…In that 20-year span, Greenland lost 152 billion tons a year of ice, West Antarctica lost 65 billion tons a year, the Antarctic Peninsula lost 20 billion tons a year, and East Antarctica gained 14 billion tons a year…”

    WORLD’S NEW ENERGY COSTS FALLING

    Renewable power costs continue to fall

    18 November 2012 (International Renewable Energy Agency)

    “Renewable energy has become the most cost-effective way to generate electric power for hundreds of millions of people worldwide who are not on the grid, a new IRENA policy brief reveals. Renewable energy has also become the least-cost option for extending grid supply in areas with suitable resources, such as sun and wind.

    “The findings [of Renewable Power Generation Costs] serve as a wake-up call to policy-makers on the declining cost of renewables…Biomass power generation has become competitive wherever low-cost agricultural or forestry waste is available, with the most competitive projects producing electricity for as little as USD 0.06/kWh…Concentrating solar power, in which mirrors focus light over a large area into a central generator, has seen costs drop to as little as USD 0.14/kWh.”

    “Hydropower, currently the world’s largest source of renewable energy, today often provides the lowest cost electricity of any generation source…Solar photovoltaics (PV), which has seen rapid development over the past two years, is set to achieve grid parity with residential electricity tariffs in many locations around the world. PV costs typically range from USD 0.16 to 0.36/kWh.

    “The most competitive onshore wind power sites can deliver electricity costs at as little as USD 0.04/kWh…By way of comparison, electricity generated from fossil fuel typically costs between USD 0.06 and 0.12/kWh in OECD countries – excluding the cost of transmission and distribution…”

    CHINA SUN GOES DISTRIBUTED

    Distributed PV Power Generation to Accelerate China Market Growth

    Steven Han, November 26, 2012 (SolarBuzz)

    “During September and October 2012, the Chinese government announced intensive Distributed PV Power Generation policies that are likely to expand the market share of the building- mount PV segment in China. An installation target of 5 GW distributed PV power generation yearly is expected to be achieved by the end of 2016…[T]he National Energy Administration has recently issued application requirements for Distributed PV zones…encouraging PV companies to submit projects while offering to change the rebate type to performance-based…[This could greatly increase the capital-utilization-rate of the Renewable Energy Special Fund…because the LCOE for distributed PV in most Chinese regions is below local industrial and commercial electricity prices]…

    “To address previous concerns relating…to grid connection procedures within the Golden Sun and Solar Rooftop programs, the State Grid has outlined a ‘Welcome, Support and Service’ approach that would not charge for eligible Distributed PV projects…[This could] reduce system cost by 5%-10%...75% of the Golden Sun and Solar Rooftop programs [PV systems above 50 kW] that had been approved during 2012 had not started construction before October…in part by the continuously decreasing prices for module and balance-of-systems components during 2012… ‘Quality’-related problems have occurred…[as] some project developers [sought] to minimize up-front investment capital.”

    “The growth rate of distributed PV power generation in China during 2013 is projected to exceed 90% and to continue over the next few years. In fact, the pipeline of projects within the Golden Sun program and Solar Rooftop programs will contribute more than 2.5 GW during 2013. Under this forecast scenario, the market share for distributed PV power generation would exceed 35% during 2013…[The market in China could be constrained…if PV power generation cannot be consumed by the project developer directly…{and] the State Grid [purchases] the PV power based on rates that use local coal-fired tariffs as the benchmark...[cutting the] return-on-investment period. The importance of financing cannot be underestimated…because developers will no longer receive initial investment rebates.

    “With potential trade restrictions on exporting China-manufactured c-Si products during 2013 and beyond, and considering the oversupply and inventory…it would appear that Chinese based c-Si module suppliers have little choice but to adapt to the domestic distributed PV environment. This may however demand the use of more reliable materials and equipment with increased efficiencies, extended product lifetime and reduced system costs.”

    SMART GRID PROTECTION OPPORTUNITY GROWING SLOWLY

    Industrial Control Systems Security; SCADA Security, Industrial Control Networks, Human-Machine Interfaces, Device Controllers, and SCADA Telecommunications: Market Issues, Best Practices, and Global Forecasts

    4Q 2012 (Pike Research/Navigant)

    “Smart grid control systems, which include transmission upgrades, substation automation, and distribution automation applications, reliably deliver energy to customers around the world. Efforts to secure these control systems have historically focused on physical protection and isolation…

    “…[N]ewly developed techniques to operate control systems more efficiently and more profitably rely heavily upon modern IT-enabled devices, often invisibly embedded within control systems. These devices introduce an unprecedented level of cyber risk to control networks. The market for cyber security for control systems is emerging, but slowly.”

    “Smart grid cyber security has weak investment drivers, dominated by regulatory compliance. Threats and vulnerabilities are many and well-known, but in the absence of legal mandates utilities have been slow to act. However the recent Stuxnet, Duqu, and Flame attacks have captured many utilities’ attention…

    “…[I]nvestment is not yet aggressive [but] requests for proposals and professional services engagements are up substantially over 2011. This portends a rising market…[throughout] this decade…[and] the marketplace is consolidating as innovative startups are acquired by automation manufacturers and larger security vendors. Pike Research forecasts that revenue will rise from $369 million in 2012 to $608 million in 2020, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.4%...”

    Thursday, November 29, 2012

    IT’S GETTING HARDER TO DENY EVERY DAY

    Evidence for man-made climate change getting stronger: U.N.

    Alister Doyle, November 29, 2012 (Reuters via Chicago Tribune)

    “Evidence that global warming is man-made is getting stronger, the head of a U.N. panel of climate scientists [Rajendra Pachauri] said, in a further blow to skeptics who argue rising temperatures can be explained by natural variations…The influential U.N. climate panel said the probability human activity was the main cause of climate change was ‘at least 90 percent’ in its last report in 2007…[and is expected to] raise the level of that likelihood even higher in its next report, due in 2013…

    “Rising sea levels pose a particular threat to people living in low-lying areas, from Bangladesh to the cities of New York, London and Buenos Aires. They open up the risk of storm surges, coastal erosion and, in the worst case scenario, complete swamping of large areas of land…The last report by the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)…[said sea levels] could rise by between 18 and 59 cm (7-24 inches) by 2100…Those numbers did not take account of a possible acceleration of a melt of Antarctic or Greenland ice…”

    “Some scientists and organizations have questioned whether gases released by industry and other human activity are the main causes of global warming…[and] have also suggested warming may have flattened out…But a study released during the [ a conference in Qatar where 200 nations are trying to reach a deal to cut emissions of greenhouse gases to avert floods, droughts, heat waves and mounting sea levels] backed IPCC projections that temperatures were creeping higher, and sea levels were rising even faster than predicted…

    “The Doha talks are struggling to extend the U.N.'s troubled Kyoto Protocol, which binds most developed nations to cut emissions by at least 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12…Russia, Canada and Japan are pulling out, saying it is now time for fast-growing emerging nations led by China and India to take on commitments. Under current plans, a new global deal is meant to be agreed in 2015 and enter into force by 2020…A U.N. conference two years ago agreed to limit any rise in temperatures to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6F) above pre-industrial times. But greenhouse gas levels hit a new record in 2011, despite the world economic slowdown.”

    THE LOCAL BENEFITS FROM SOLAR POWER PLANTS

    Solar Projects Benefit Counties

    Keely Wachs, November 26, 2012 (BrightSource Energy)

    “…[Contrary to the Los Angeles Times misinformed article questioning the economic benefits of utility-scale solar projects on desert counties] the counties where utility-scale solar projects are being built are benefitting significantly in direct and economic investments, tax revenues and job creation…[O]ur $2.2 billion Ivanpah project is more than 70% complete and is employing more than 2,000 workers…At its peak, the project employed more than 2,100 workers, and is estimated to generate $250 million in construction wages and $650 million in total wages over its 30-year life…

    “More than 80 percent of these workers are from the local union halls in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties…[and many] were unemployed for years following the economic downturn in 2008…The Ivanpah project is also estimated to generate approximately $300 million in local and state tax revenues over its 30-year life…[I]ndirect benefits to local businesses are estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars. The Ivanpah project also…[contributed] to High Desert universities and philanthropic organizations…job training opportunities, youth organizations, veteran’s services and more.”

    “As a solar developer, we understand that our projects will have impacts on local infrastructure, such as roads and emergency services…The LA Times highlights one such project – Hidden Hills Solar in Inyo County…[It] points out that just five percent of the construction jobs at Hidden Hills would be filled by Inyo County residents…[T]he primary reason…is because…Inyo County has [only] 18,000 residents…the project could put all of the county’s unemployed qualified construction workers back to work…

    “…[An independent California Energy Commission report assessed two scenarios and found] the net fiscal impacts are significantly beneficial to the county. Scenario 1 results in a positive net fiscal impact of $61.1 million and Scenario 2 leads to a positive net fiscal impact of $88.2 million…”

    THE MOMENTUM IN COMMUNITY WIND

    Smaller-scale development may follow 'golden age' of wind

    Laura D’Alessandro, November 19, 2012 (SNL)

    “Communities that have been engaged by and in communication with the wind industry may be the best sites for future wind development…Targeting customers who want wind makes a big difference, said former Iowa Gov. Chet Culver. With many large utilities already meeting state renewable portfolio standards, community wind could be the next market in the second-largest wind-producing state in the U.S.

    “OwnEnergy Inc., a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based community wind developer, is already partnering with landowners in Iowa who have…planning the Carroll Area Wind Farm for about seven years…They reached out to OwnEnergy when they were ready to partner with a developer and move toward construction….The project is set to begin construction in 2013. But community owners are not the only market that OwnEnergy sees opening up for wind developers as utility-scale wind becomes less popular…”

    “Wind developers are reaching out to these new markets because, in many states, there has been a surge in renewable energy development for utilities that must meet RPS mandates. Renewable generation capacity in the U.S. has reached a level that is higher than the amount currently in demand…[T]he wind industry has gone through a "golden age" of development, according to Barrett Stambler, vice president of Iberdrola SA's U.S. subsidiary,Iberdrola Renewables LLC...[but] utilities have purchased enough power to meet their needs for 2020. Natural gas and other competitive sources have come down in price…[and decision makers are reconsidering] a renewable product vs. a natural gas product…

    “…[Wind development] may cost less than retrofitting coal plants, according to Rachel Shimshak, director of the Renewable Northwest Project. The Northwest has a strong tradition of renewable energy standards and incentives for developing renewables. The RNP is working on influencing utilities in the region to begin retiring their coal plants and to choose renewables…”

    THE BIG OPPORTUNITIES IN MANAGING BUILDING ENERGY

    Building Energy Management Systems for Utility Customers; Market Opportunities and Challenges, Regulatory Issues, Key Technologies by Market Segment, Key Industry Players, and Global Market Forecasts

    4Q 2012 (Pike Research/Navigant)

    “Utilities around the world are facing unprecedented challenges and complexities…[G]enerating affordable and reliable electricity has been made significantly more complicated by increasing environmental and generation costs, rising demand, grid instability from renewables and electric vehicles, and increasingly stringent regulations on demand management, energy efficiency, and greenhouse gas emissions.

    “Vendors of commercial building energy management systems (BEMS) are also facing business challenges in a rapidly evolving market landscape. New and innovative market entrants are competing with large and well-established energy companies and equipment manufacturers, information technology giants, and a host of other commercial energy management product and service providers.”

    “Forward-thinking utilities are looking toward BEMS technologies for solutions…Commercial BEMS offerings help utilities boost the effectiveness of their energy efficiency (EE) and demand-side management (DSM) programs, understand customer energy use patterns, and engage multiple segments of their commercial client base with new and innovative money-saving programs…

    “…[C]ommercial energy management vendors…can gain access to large new customer bases that were previously cost-prohibitive…The market for BEMS for utility customers is nascent, with most of the leading activity being driven by utilities in the United States and Canada. Pike Research estimates that global spending will reach $41 million in 2012, growing at a robust compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 29% through 2020, when the market will reach $319 million worldwide…”

    Wednesday, November 28, 2012

    TODAY’S STUDY: A ROADMAP TO BRING WIND HOME

    Built-Environment Wind Turbine Roadmap

    J. Smith, T. Forsyth, K. Sinclair, and F. Oteri, November 2012 (NREL)

    Executive Summary

    For the United States to generate 20% of its electricity requirements from wind technology by 2030, strong support from the general public will be needed. The majority of this production will come from large commercial wind projects installed throughout the United States, both land-based and offshore. To date, many of the easily developable sites have already been utilized, and future sites could face a range of potential barriers, including resistance from the general public.

    Although only a small contributor to total electricity production needs, built-environment wind turbines (BWTs) nonetheless have the potential to influence the public’s perception of renewable energy, and wind energy in particular. Higher population concentrations in urban environments offer greater opportunities for project visibility and an opportunity to acquaint large numbers of people to the advantages of wind projects. However, turbine failures will be equally visible. High-profile installations, many of which have failed to produce electricity as advertised, could have a negative effect on public safety and perception of wind technology because the general public cannot differentiate between emerging technology and proven technology used in the commercial wind industry.

    The market currently encourages BWT deployment before the technology is ready for full-scale commercialization. To address this issue, industry stakeholders convened a Rooftop and Built-Environment Wind Turbine Workshop on August 11 - 12, 2010, at the National Wind Technology Center, located at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado. Workshop attendees adopted the following vision statement:

    “To provide current, state-of-the-science recommendations for optimization (reliable and safe) of wind turbine design and placement in the built environment, assessment of potential challenges unique to the built environment, a list of barriers, and priorities for addressing those knowledge gaps with data/observations and modeling tools.”

    Workshop attendees identified barriers to BWT deployment in five key areas.

    • Safety is considered the most critical issue for BWTs. Sub-areas include fatigue resistance, braking redundancy, fail-safe mechanisms, and ice- and part-shedding containment.

    • Understanding the wind resource (including annual averages, turbulence, and extremes) and developing better wind resource maps are also considered high priorities to support BWTs.

    • Improvements to the turbine technology, such as using control strategies to reduce vibration and noise, understanding loads measurements and yaw rates, and developing design and testing standards, will move the BWT industry toward stronger customer acceptance.

    • At the same time, in terms of building-mounted systems, understanding building interactions will be pivotal. Concerns exist regarding resonance frequencies, and an understanding of how the building-turbine vibrations are coupled is needed. BWT system designs must comply with building codes as well as integrate with the building’s mechanical and electrical systems.

    • Non-technical obstacles, such as concerns regarding safety hazards during installation, operations and maintenance, and inspections must be understood. Consumer outreach and education, along with overcoming economic barriers, must also be addressed. The BWT roadmap also outlines stakeholder actions to overcome the barriers identified. The actions are categorized as near-term (0 - 3 years), medium-term (4 - 7 years), and both near- and medium-term. The BWT industry is evolving rapidly, so long-term actions cannot be projected.

    Workshop attendees developed a strategic approach to accomplish these actions that identifies two focus areas: understanding the built-environment wind resource and developing testing and design standards. In this report, the authors summarize the expertise and resources needed in these areas. A wide variety of domestic and international stakeholders are currently engaged with BWTs. Existing wind tunnels, wind measurement data, and models could be utilized and enhanced to expedite the development and deployment of BWTs.

    This roadmap identifies key barriers to the development and deployment of BWTs and outlines a strategic approach to addressing these barriers.

    Introduction

    What are built-environment wind turbines (BWTs)? In this roadmap, BWTs are defined as wind turbines located in an urban or suburban environment (built environment). Most BWTs are also classified as small wind turbines (SWTs), which are 100 kilowatts (kW) or less.

    While the terms “BWT” and “SWT” are interchangeable in many cases, this roadmap uses the term “SWT” when referring to turbines 100 kilowatts and less and the term “BWT” when referring to SWTs in the built environment. “SWT” refers to a category of turbines, and “BWT” refers to a specific application or market niche. See Appendix I for a detailed description of BWTs.

    To date, most wind turbines installed in the built environment have been sited with limited understanding of or regard for the unique challenges of BWTs (Encraft 2009). Most SWTs were designed for rural areas, not the built environment with its high turbulence, lower average wind speed, more frequent wind direction changes, and potentially higher vertical inflow. Nor were turbines designed to be in close proximity to people, businesses, and other property. Poor siting and improper use of BWTs could lead to turbine failure, possibly resulting in injury, property damage, and potential liabilities. These liabilities extend to not only BWT owners but also to the industry, which would suffer from general negative perceptions of wind technology.

    Recent research on wind energy in urban areas demonstrates that there are promising opportunities to extend the use of wind energy in the built environment. However, developers must pay careful attention to the micro or local wind conditions produced by the stochastic wind interactions with localized structures. Turbine efficiency is highly sensitive to the rapid variations in wind conditions that prevail in the built environments (Kooiman and Tullis 2010). Other difficulties include transfer of vibration and loads to a building structure, potentially causing noise and structural failures (Encraft 2009).

    Understanding the loads, dynamics, yaw rate, and other technical specifications is critical in designing or modifying existing commercial products.

    The number of BWT installations is increasing as consumers have easier access to relatively inexpensive SWTs (James et al. 2010). In 2010, BWT units experienced substantial sales growth to more than 1,700 kW, or 7% of 2010 U.S. SWT capacity sales.

    This represents a remarkable 430% growth from 2009. In terms of units, 1,074 roof-top units were sold (American Wind Energy Association 2011). Many people are motivated by a desire to be environmentally responsible, and they want clean, renewable energy to help power their homes or businesses. While the increased visibility of a BWT can be used to enhance a “green” image, a poorly sited turbine will not produce much electricity and may not even spin, which implies that “turbines don’t work.” Moreover, poor siting will likely increase fatigue issues and may drastically shorten a turbine’s life span. This perception of BWT underperformance introduces a risk that the public will become disillusioned with the greater wind energy industry (Encraft 2009).

    By developing the “Built-Environment Wind Turbine Roadmap,” representatives from industry, government, academics, and those with an interest in BWTs have produced a document that addresses the critical needs of safety, technology, and non-technical obstacles in the built environment. Although this is a U.S.-centric document, it includes contributions from international stakeholders. Further, this work will be coordinated through the International Energy Agency (IEA) so that a variety of international entities can pursue this research area. This work is intended to aid in the crafting of public and business BWT policy by providing current, state-of-the-science recommendations.

    This roadmap delves into the background of BWTs, including the current state of the BWT industry and the current state of BWT technology. Furthermore, this document describes the five categories of BWT industry barriers: safety, wind resource, turbine technology, building interactions, and non-technical obstacles. An action section addresses these barriers. One action may address more than one barrier, so these actions are grouped into three categories defined by their urgency: near-term (0-3 years), medium-term (4-7 years), and both. Because BWTs are a new wind technology and are evolving rapidly, long-term actions cannot be projected for the current BWT industry. The document concludes with a strategy section that identifies resources to help carry out the actions and provides a plan to remove BWT barriers.

    This document is based on presentations and the ensuing discussions from the Rooftop and Built-Environment Wind Turbine Workshop hosted at the National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on August 11-12, 2010. Workshop participants are experienced in SWT modeling and data collection.

    Some of the key points from the workshop include:

    • Approximate correlations exist between wind tunnel measurements and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models for specific sites.

    • More sophisticated CFD wind resource modeling tools exist, and there is a substantial body of existing work pertaining to other wind propagation models.

    • Countries of focus on the topic of built-environment wind turbines (see www.urbanwind.net) exist, and the International Energy Agency Task 27 recently proposed new work.

    • As a result, novel approaches to wind energy harvesting may emerge as important players in the effort to increase wind energy use in urban areas. During the workshop, the participants agreed to the following vision statement:

    “To provide current, state-of-the-science recommendations for optimization (reliable and safe) of wind turbine design and placement in the built environment, assessment of potential challenges unique to the built environment, a list of barriers, and priorities for addressing those knowledge gaps both with data/observations and modeling tools.”

    This roadmap is a step toward that vision.

    QUICK NEWS, November 28: CHINA Q3 WIND FINANCIALS BLEAK; SOLAR PRICES CONTINUE TO FALL; CAPE WIND PPA APPROVED

    CHINA Q3 WIND FINANCIALS BLEAK Sinovel, Goldwind Forecast ‘Arduous’ 2013 as Turbine Sales Drop

    November 19, 2012 (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

    “Sinovel Wind Group Co. (601558) and Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co. (002202), China’s biggest makers of wind turbines, forecast a difficult 2013 after reporting a decline in sales in the third quarter…

    “…[Sinovel foresees] grid constraints, slowing growth and [a challenging] economic environment…Goldwind also predicts tough market conditions…The two companies, which together account for a quarter of China’s wind market, have posted losses in the three months ended Sept. 30. Sinovel’s sales plunged 82 percent and Goldwind fell 42 percent.”

    “China, the biggest market for the companies, will for the first time post a 20 percent drop in annual installations to 16.4 gigawatts this year. It will add 16.3 gigawatts of wind farms in 2013, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said…

    “Chinese regulators implemented a stricter approval process for on-land projects [especially those in the northern provinces] in 2011 as grids struggled to carry electricity generated from wind-energy installations. The nation had 10 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity from wind farms unused last year and the number may grow this year…”

    SOLAR PRICES CONTINUE TO FALL Costs Of Solar Energy Rapidly Declining Throughout U.S. Market

    27 November 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “The installed price of solar photovoltaic power systems in the U.S. fell substantially in 2011 and through the first half of 2012, according to the latest edition of Tracking the Sun, an annual PV cost-tracking report produced by the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab)…The median installed price of residential and commercial PV systems completed in 2011 fell by roughly 11% to 14% from the year before, depending on system size. In California, prices fell by an additional 3% to 7% within the first six months of 2012.

    “These recent installed price reductions are attributable, in large part, to dramatic reductions in PV module prices, which have been falling precipitously since 2008, according to Berkeley Lab…[N]on-module costs - such as installation labor, marketing, overhead, inverters and the balance of system - have also fallen significantly over time…”

    “…[A]verage non-module costs for residential and commercial systems declined by roughly 30% from 1998 to 2011, but they have not declined as rapidly as module prices in recent years. As a result, non-module costs now represent a sizable fraction of the installed price of PV systems, and continued deep reduction in the price of PV will require concerted emphasis on lowering…[non-module] soft costs…[M]edian installed price of PV systems installed in 2011 was $6.10/W for residential and small commercial systems smaller than 10 kW in size and was $4.90/W for larger commercial systems of 100 kW or more in size…

    “Utility-sector PV systems larger than 2,000 kW in size averaged $3.40/W in 2011…[T]he authors suggest that PV prices in the U.S. may be driven lower through large-scale deployment programs…[O]ther factors are also important in achieving installed price reductions…The market for solar PV systems in the U.S. has grown rapidly over the past decade, as national, state and local governments offered various incentives…and accelerate cost reductions…”

    CAPE WIND PPA APPROVED Massachusetts DPU Approves Cape Wind's PPA With NSTAR

    27 November 2012 (North American Windpower)

    “Following an eight-month proceeding, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has approved the 15-year power purchase agreement (PPA) between NSTAR Electric Co. and Cape Wind Associates for the Cape Wind project, a 468 MW offshore wind project planned for Nantucket Sound…

    “The DPU concluded that the benefits of the contract exceeded its costs…that the agreement provides adequate protections for ratepayers...[and] the contract will assist NSTAR and the commonwealth in complying with the state's renewable energy and greenhouse-gas emissions-reduction requirements, moderating the system peak load demand, enhancing the electric reliability in the state, and creating jobs.”

    “The agreement, which NSTAR and Cape Wind agreed to in February, is for NSTAR to purchase 27.5% of the output of the Cape Wind project. The contract sets the base price (for electricity, capacity and renewable energy attributes) at $0.187/kWh for 2013, rising 3.5% annually…[But] if the actual project costs, as verified by an independent audit, fall to such an extent that the developer’s rate of return on debt and equity exceeds 10.7%, the contract price of electricity will be reduced to give ratepayers 60% of the benefit of the lower costs…[and if] the actual project costs are higher than anticipated and reduce this rate of return, the developer would absorb those losses without impact on rates paid by consumers…

    “The contract is expected to increase electricity customers’ bills by 1.3% to 1.4% for residential customers and by 1% to 2.1% for commercial and industrial customers. On average, the bill of a typical NSTAR residential customer using 500 kWh of electricity per month will increase by $1.16 per month…With the DPU's approval of this contract, the Cape Wind offshore wind project has secured contracts for 77.5% of its output. The DPU already approved a 15-year PPA for National Grid to buy 234 MW from the project…”

    Tuesday, November 27, 2012

    TODAY’S STUDY: THE WHOLE WORLD IS BANKING ON NEW ENERGY

    Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2012

    November 2012 (United Nations Enviroment Program and Bloomberg New Energy Finance)

    (Note to readers: This report was published in June but just released publicly.)

    Key findings

    * Global investment in renewable power and fuels increased 17% to a new record of $257 billion in 2011. Developing economies made up 35% of this total investment, compared to 65% for developed economies.

    * The US closed in on China in the race to be the lead investor in renewable energy, with a 57% leap in its outlays to $51 billion. India however displayed the fastest expansion rate for investment of any large renewables market in the world in 2011, with a 62% increase to $12 billion.

    * One of the dominant features of the renewable energy landscape in 2011 was falling technology costs. Photovoltaic module prices fell by close to 50%, and onshore wind turbine prices by between 5% and 10%. These changes brought these two leading renewable power technologies closer to competitiveness with fossil-fuel alternatives such as coal and gas.

    * The other key feature was a weakening in policy support for renewable energy in many developed countries. This reflected austerity pressures, particularly in Europe, and legislative deadlock in the US Congress.

    * This policy hiatus, coming ironically at a time when fully competitive renewable power is starting to be a realistic possibility in a few years’ time, is posing a threat to continued growth in investment in the sector in 2012 and beyond.

    * That in turn puts into jeopardy hopes that investment in clean energy will reach sufficient levels to start to reduce global carbon emissions before 2020 – and provides a worrying backdrop for the coming Rio+20 United Nations Conference, which is largely focused on the “greening” of the global economy.

    * There is, so far, no better example of economic “greening” than what has been achieved in the last seven years in the power sector. In 2011, renewable power (excluding large hydro) accounted for 44% of new generation capacity added worldwide, up from 34% in 2010 and just 10.3% back in 2004. The proportion of power generated by renewables (excluding large hydro) rose to 6% in 2011 from 5.1% the previous year.

    * Total investment in solar power jumped 52% to $147 billion in 2011, reaching a figure almost twice as high as that in wind energy, at $84 billion, down 12%. Last year was not the first time that solar has led wind in terms of dollars committed, but it was the first time that the gap in favour of solar was anything apart from narrow.

    * The performance of solar owed most to booming rooftop PV installations in Germany and Italy as property owners moved to take advantage of falling panel prices, and a spurt in the financing of large-scale solar thermal electricity generation (STEG, or CSP) projects in Spain and the US.

    * Small-scale projects attracted $76 billion of investment worldwide in 2011, up a quarter from the $60 billion spent in 2010, despite rapidly falling prices for PV panels. Italy with $24.1 billion trumped Germany with $20 billion. Japan, the US, Australia, the UK and France also saw significant investment in small-scale PV.

    * Share prices in the renewable energy sector had a dismal 2011, in the face of overcapacity in the solar and wind manufacturing chains and investor unease about the direction of support policies in both Europe and North America.

    * The WilderHill New Energy Global Innovation Index, or NEX, slumped 40% during the year, while the Nasdaq and S&P500 ended the year almost exactly where they started. This severe under-performance by clean energy shares acted as a major dampener on public market financing of companies in the sector.

    * The sovereign debt crisis in Europe in late 2011 hit the ability of banks to provide their usual flow of project finance. This increased the focus on possible, alternative sources of investment for renewable energy – such as pension funds and other long-term institutional investors.

    * In early 2012, an $850 million bond issue for a PV project owned by Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Holdings underlined the potential of green bonds as an instrument for financing renewable power projects.

    Executive Summary

    Global investment in renewable power and fuels increased 17% to a new record of $257 billion in 2011. This was more than six times the figure for 2004, and 94% more than the total in 2007, the last year before the acute phase of the world financial crisis.

    The percentage increase in investment between 2010 and 2011 was smaller than the 37% rise seen between 2009 and 2010, but it took place at a time when the cost of renewable power equipment, particularly solar photovoltaic modules and onshore wind turbines, was falling fast. The percentage growth in dollar investment would have been significantly larger in 2011 if it had not been for this deflation in the costs of PV and wind technology. The spectacular improvement in cost-competitiveness of renewables is explored in depth in Chapter 2. Last year’s increase in investment in renewable energy also took place at a time of uncertainty over economic growth and policy priorities in developed economies – and those issues continue to pose a serious threat in 2012 to the low-carbon transition and hopes of progress towards a “green economy”.

    Two highlights of 2011 were the performance of solar, and the performance of the US. Wind is the most mature of the “new” renewable power technologies, and has usually been the biggest single sector for investment over recent years.

    However in 2011, it was out-stripped by solar, which attracted nearly twice as much investment – the first time a gap of anything like this magnitude has opened up for solar over wind.

    Total investment in solar power jumped 52% to $147 billion. It was helped by booming rooftop photovoltaic installations in Germany and Italy, the spread of small-scale PV to other countries from China to the UK, and a spurt in the financing of large-scale solar thermal electricity generation (STEG, or CSP) projects in Spain and the US.

    By contrast, total investment in wind power slipped 12% to $84 billion, impacted by lower turbine prices, policy uncertainty in Europe and a slowdown in China’s previously hectic growth in wind installations.

    The boom in solar investment in 2011 took place against the backdrop of significant corporate distress in that sector, and tumbling share prices. The explanation for this apparent inconsistency between the year for companies and the year for solar as a whole was that prices of PV modules were falling rapidly thanks to economies of scale in manufacturing, the rise of low-cost Chinese producers, and global over-capacity. The result – a near-50% fall in module prices during the year – stimulated demand for PV panels, particularly on rooftops, but it was also toxic for the financial results of many hardware makers. By the end of 2011, PV modules were selling in world markets for between $1 and $1.20 per Watt, some 76% below their prices just three and a half years earlier, in the summer of 2008.

    The second highlight was a resurgence – at least temporarily – in the United States’ importance in the renewable energy sector. Beaten into a distant second place by China in both 2009 and 2010, the US rallied to neck-and-neck with China in 2011, on the back of a 57% surge in US investment in renewables to $51 billion. Investment in renewable power and fuels in China gained a more modest 17% to $52 billion, still just a fraction ahead of the US (but actually behind the US if investment in energy-smart technologies such as efficiency and smart grids is also included). Investment in Germany – which pushed the US hard for second position in 2010 – dipped 12% to $31 billion1.

    The US bounce-back owed much to the fact that three significant incentive programmes for renewable energy either reached expiry during 2011, or headed towards scheduled expiry. In each case, developers rushed to finance projects in time to take advantage of the policy measure before it expired. The Federal loan guarantee programme, which reached “sunset” at the end of September 2011, covered $16.1 billion of debt for projects such as BrightSource’s 392MW Ivanpah solar thermal project in southern California. The US Treasury grant programme, introduced to provide an alternative to the tax equity market, which had been hard hit by the financial crisis, came to an end on 31 December last year. The Production Tax Credit, the main support for US wind, is due to expire at the end of 2012, and with the two parties in Congress at loggerheads, few investors were confident that legislators would agree to extend it into 2013 and beyond.

    Figure 1 shows the resilient growth of renewable energy investment since 2004, with expansion continuing through the recession of 2008-09 and the subsequent, disappointing recovery in developed economies. That growth has been accompanied by a significant rise in the job creation, and overall economic contribution, of the renewable energy sector – and that looks likely to continue to 2020 as the world seeks to curb emissions from its energy system. The importance of the “green economy” is explored in Chapter 3 of this report.

    However one of the messages of this report is that while progress towards the expansion in renewable energy capacity was once again impressive in 2011, its smooth continuation in 2012, 2013 and after is not guaranteed. Risks of an interruption have increased. If a serious setback were to beset investment in renewables, the vision of a “green economy” to be discussed at the Rio+20 meeting on 20-22 June could recede into the distance.

    Threats To Investment

    Although the renewable energy sector has continued to grow, wider economic problems have had an impact since 2008, and they remain a threat. In late 2011, the euro area sovereign debt crisis started to impact the supply of debt for renewable energy projects in Europe, as banks responded to sharp increases in their cost of funding and upgraded their assessments of the risks involved in lending to borrowers in Italy, Spain and other affected countries.

    More generally, the fact that consumers have found their finances under pressure has made governments more reluctant to wave through measures that would put up energy prices. In the US, support in Congress for clean energy and putting a price on carbon has ebbed, in the face of low natural gas prices that have made gas-fired generation look a cost-effective alternative, and new concerns about the cost of renewable energy support. The outlook for gas supply has changed dramatically, with the technological advances in “fracking”. Complaints about the cost of subsidies for renewables gathered strength after the scandal over the bankruptcy of PV technology company Solyndra, which received $538 million of Federal loan guarantees.

    In Europe, governments struggled to adjust feed in tariff subsidies for solar power quickly enough – in the face of rapid reductions in the cost of the technology. These cost reductions resulted in greater-than-intended returns for PV project developers, and booms in installation, especially in Italy and Germany, both of which saw more than 7GW installed in 2011. Inevitably, governments in Europe and elsewhere have responded by cutting subsidies sharply – and in the case of Spain, barring subsidies for any new renewable power project not so far approved.

    With PV solar and onshore wind equipment prices falling rapidly, there is a “promised land” in sight in which these technologies will not require any subsidy. Rooftop solar is already competitive with retail electricity in a number of locations, and Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates that the average onshore wind project will be competitive with gas-fired generation by 2016.

    The danger however is that hastily made cuts in support might make a serious dent in investment in developed economies in 2012-14 – before wind and solar can reach that goal of competitiveness. That would be a damaging blow not just for businesses in those industries but also for hope of limiting carbon emissions and climate change, and for those working in the emerging “green economy”.

    $257 Billion Investment

    …Different types of investment displayed very different fortunes during the year – venture capital investment, for instance, rose 5% to $2.5 billion, but government-funded and corporate research and development both fell back.

    Government R&D slipped 13% to $4.6 billion as the effect of “green stimulus” packages faded; corporate R&D weakened 19% to $3.7 billion as companies responded to pressure on their own finances.

    Private equity expansion capital investment dropped 15% to $2.5 billion. Equity-raising by renewable energy companies on the public markets also fell back last year, down 10% to $10.1 billion, as investors shied away from a sector that was suffering heavy share price falls.

    The two types of new investment that did see significant growth in 2011 were asset finance of utility-scale (1MW-plus) renewable power plants and biofuel refineries; and small-scale distributed capacity, notably rooftop solar. Asset finance was up 18% to $164.4 billion, while small-scale projects saw $75.8 billion invested, down 5% at just $246 million. A large (254MW) South Korean tidal barrage project started full operations in 2011, but it had been financed several years earlier.

    Solar was the leading sector in venture capital and private equity provision of renewable energy, with $2.4 billion (see Figure 6). As a relatively mature technology, wind has tended to lag behind in terms of VC/PE investment, and in 2011 it came fourth with just $520 million committed, down 66%. Ahead of it were biomass and waste-to-power, with $1 billion of VC/PE money secured, nearly three times the previous figure, and biofuels with $804 million secured, up 9%.

    Moving onto public markets investment (Figure 7), wind and solar vied for first place in terms of the value of new equity-raisings, at $4.5 billion and $4.2 billion respectively, down 2% and 23% on their 2010 totals. Biofuels and geothermal obtained $654 million and $406 million respectively, up 37% and 360%.

    In asset finance of utility-scale projects (Figure 8), wind retained a lead over solar, with $82.4 billion committed, down 11%, against the latter’s $62.1 billion, but the latter was up no less than 147% compared to 2010. Looking one level of detail further down, the major renewable power sources showed some interesting technological trends. The two have historically been dominated by onshore wind and PV respectively, but last year offshore wind loomed large and contributed $12.5 billion to the total value of wind assets financed, while solar thermal accounted for $20 billion of the total solar figure – in both cases, the highest on record.

    Total capacity investment is shown in Figure 9. This brings together small-scale projects with the utility-scale developments. On this measure, solar dominated in 2011, with $137.8 billion invested, up 61% on 2010 – thanks in greatest part to the expansion of rooftop PV in Europe and elsewhere. On the total capacity investment measure, wind was the second-largest sector with $82.4 billion, biomass and waste-to-power third with $8.8 billion (down 16%), small hydro fourth with $5.4 billion, and biofuels fifth with $3.5 billion (down 36%).

    Investment In 2012

    Investment in renewable energy was subdued in the first three months of 2012, in the face of uncertainty over future policy support in Europe and the US. Although there were, by May, a few signs that governments were trying to clarify specific issues for investors, there was not yet any evidence that investment levels would accelerate in the rest of the year.

    Figures from the Bloomberg New Energy Finance database of deals and projects show that asset finance of utility-scale renewable energy projects in Q1 2012 was $23.3 billion (after adjusting for reinvested equity), down 36% from the fourth quarter of 2011 and 14% below the figure for the first quarter of last year (see Figure 10).

    In fact, Q1 2012 was the weakest quarter for renewable energy asset finance since the first quarter of 2009, in the depths of the financial crisis. There were still some big projects financed however – including the 396MW Marena Wind Portfolio in Mexico for $961 million, the 100MW KVK Chinnu solar thermal plant in India for approximately $400 million, and the 201MW Post Rock Wind farm in Kansas, US, for an estimated $376 million.

    The largest projects financed in Europe in Q1 – in the face of a difficult market for bank lending – were the 150MW Monsson Pantelina wind farm in Romania at $317 million, and the 60.4MW SunEdison Karadzhalovo solar PV plant in Bulgaria at $248 million.

    Venture capital and private equity investment in renewable energy companies was resilient, at $1.4 billion worldwide in Q1, up from $1.1 billion in Q4 and $1.2 billion in the equivalent quarter of 2011. Solar and biofuels were the two dominant sectors for VC/PE equity-raisings.

    Public markets investment was just $473 million, down 46% from Q4 and 87% from Q1 2011. This was not surprising given the poor performance of clean energy shares over the last few quarters. The WilderHill New Energy Global Innovation Index, or NEX, which tracks the movements of 98 clean energy shares worldwide, fell 40% in 2011 and clawed back just 7% in the first quarter of 2012 as world stock markets rebounded.

    QUICK NEWS, November 27: LA BUYS NEVADA SUN; BIG MICHIGAN WIND GOES ONLINE; NEW ENERGY PROGRAM WORKS FOR WISCONSIN

    LA BUYS NEVADA SUN Los Angeles City Council Approves PPAs For K Road Moapa Solar

    21 November 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “The Los Angeles City Council has voted unanimously to approve a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with K Road Moapa Solar to provide up to 250 MW of solar power…[from the K Road Moapa solar power installation] on the Moapa Band of Paiute Indians tribal land north of Las Vegas.”

    “…[T]he project is expected to create 400 jobs during peak construction and 15 to 20 permanent jobs…K Road Moapa Solar plans to build the plant in three phases of 100 MW to 150 MW. In addition to PV arrays, major additional project components include a 500 kV transmission line to deliver power to the grid and a 12 kV transmission line to the existing Moapa Travel Plaza after Phase I is complete.”

    BIG MICHIGAN WIND GOES ONLINE Lake Winds Energy Park Begins Serving Customers; Consumers Energy's First Wind Park in Operation, Made Possible by Michigan's Energy Reform Law

    November 22. 2012 (PR Newswire via MarketWatch)

    “Consumers Energy's $250 million Lake Winds Energy Park began serving electric customers…[with its] generating capacity of 100 megawatts. It consists of 56 wind-generation turbines…The utility's investment in Lake Winds was made possible by Michigan's landmark energy reform law…”

    “Consumers Energy is the largest supplier of renewable energy in Michigan. The utility is on track to meet a requirement in Michigan's energy law that by 2015, 10 percent of the electricity it provides to its 1.8 million electric customers will come from renewable sources in the state…The addition of Lake Winds to the company's portfolio of renewable sources increases its renewable supply to 7 percent of retail sales. The completion of other projects…[increases its] renewable supply to 8 percent by the end of 2012…”

    NEW ENERGY PROGRAM WORKS FOR WISCONSIN Independent Study Highlights the Benefits and Success of Focus on Energy; Program found to be more cost-effective than ever before

    November 19, 2012 (PR newswire via Sacramento Bee)

    “Focus on Energy, Wisconsin utilities' statewide program for energy efficiencyand renewable energy, is highly cost-effective, according to a new independent evaluation report [of 2011] released by the Cadmus Group.

    “…During 2011, the report found that Focus on Energy provided incentives for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects to more than 195,000 residential and business customers. Total verified net energy savings accomplished as a result of Focus on Energy projects amounted to 441 GWh and approximately 17 thousand Therms, or the equivalent of providing electricity to 44,000 homes for one year. The report also found that Focus on Energy returned $428 million in benefits for Wisconsin ratepayers…”

    “…[Estimated 2011 statewide] benefits of the energy savings achieved by Focus on Energy programs exceeded costs by a ratio of 2.46 to 1. This represents a considerable increase from the 2010 ratio of 2.3 to 1…[Cost effectiveness was calculated by comparing] the financial benefits from investing in programs to the financial costs associated with running the programs and delivering the energy efficiency and renewable resource measures…[E]nergy savings achieved in 2011 lagged those achieved in previous years…[due to] numerous and significant changes in program administration, design and delivery…[T]he effects of reduced incentive levels implemented midway through 2010 and continued in 2011 had an impact on customer participation…

    “This year's results will follow a comprehensive redesign that expanded opportunities for Wisconsin homes and businesses to participate…[which] included a new targeted program for small businesses and expanded energy savings opportunities for residents such as a refrigerator recycling program…year-round discounts for efficient lighting…[reduced] up-front costs for residents participating in comprehensive home energy programs and…a network of over 1,400 Wisconsin businesses as Trade Allies who help implement projects…”

    Monday, November 26, 2012

    TODAY’S STUDY: THE OTHER COSTS OF COAL

    Coal Blooded; Putting Proftis Before People

    Adrian Wilson, et.al., November 2012 (Indigenous Environmental Network, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People)

    Foreword - The Movement for Environmental and Climate Justice

    Environmental issues are not isolated instances. They are a broad national concern with civil rights implications. Historically, people of color have disproportionately experienced negative outcomes associated with their physical environment.

    Communities of color have been forced to contend with land appropriation, toxic working conditions, polluted neighborhoods and other conditions that have a detrimental effect on their environments and socioeconomic opportunities. It was in the 1960s and 1970s, mainstream audiences who were galvanized into action by the publication of Silent Spring, and who responded with “not in my backyard” when faced with environmental hazards that would impact public health and private property. While white middle-class communities were often successful in combating these threats, “the path of least resistance became an expressway leading to the one remaining toxic frontier--people of color communities.”1However, in 1982, a community battle against a controversial polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) disposal landfill, in rural Warren County, North Carolina, mobilized hundreds of African Americans in civil disobedience and led to over 500 arrests.2 The fight was widely cited as the spark which ignited the Environmental Justice (EJ) Movement.

    Pioneering work by Bunyan Bryant, Pau Mohai, Robert Bullard and others, along with groundbreaking reports, most notably in 1983, by the U.S. Government Accounting Office and in 1987, by the Commission for Racial Justice of the United Church of Christ, confirmed that there was a direct correlation between race and toxic waste sites: “Although socioeconomic status appeared to play an important role in the location of commercial hazardous waste facilities, race still proved to be more significant.”3

    In September 1991, over 600 grassroots leaders from every state in the U.S. attended the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. This summit broadened the scope of the growing EJ movement to include issues of public health, land use, transportation, housing, resource allocation, and community empowerment.4 One legacy of the event was a statement called the “Principles of Environmental Justice,” which outlined the following key demands:5

    • The “cessation of the production of all toxins, hazardous wastes, and radioactive materials, and that all past and current producers be held strictly accountable to the people for detoxification and containment”

    • The “right to participate as equal partners at every level of decision making, including needs assessment, planning, implementation, enforcement and evaluation”

    • The strict enforcement of processes of informed consent

    • The right to reparations for victims of environmental injustice

    • The right to self-determination for all peoples

    • The freedom from bias in public policy relating to environmental issues

    • The right of workers not to be “forced to choose between an unsafe livelihood and unemployment”

    • Recognition of Indigenous peoples’ special “legal and natural” relationship of sovereignty and self-determination with the U.S. government

    • Opposition to military occupation and exploitation of lands and peoples

    • The protection of all peoples from nuclear testing and waste disposal

    From its beginnings in the early 1980s, the EJ movement has expanded significantly throughout the United States, and has gradually forged a path for government agencies and mainstream environmental advocacy organizations to confront issues of the environment and communities of color. There are now hundreds of grassroots environmental groups based in communities of low-income and of color, along with scores of academic programs offering training and support of EJ issues.6 In 1990, leaders of the Southwest Organizing Project, in Albuquerque, NM, spearheaded an initiative to prod the country’s largest and most influential conservation organizations (dubbed “the Group of Ten”) to establish more equitable working relationships with environmental justice groups. The majority of the national environmental groups, after considerable prodding, have responded in some way, ranging from attempts to diversify their staffs to, in the case of the Sierra Club, establishing a national environmental justice program to work in partnership with community-based organizations.

    The urgency for response has also extended to the climate justice community. Since 1988, when James Hansen and Sergej Lebedeff published the first definitive proof that the planet was warming, “climate change” has been transformed from an academic theory into a global political struggle, with unprecedentedly massive amounts of resources at stake.7In 1992, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro resulted in the creation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), a negotiating framework that has since governed intergovernmental negotiations on fighting climate change. In 1997, the third UNFCCC intergovernmental climate conference in Kyoto (COP-3) resulted in the Kyoto Protocol, an international environmental treaty that produced an initial pathway for market-based emissions reductions, and in 2009, the COP-15 meeting in Copenhagen saw the negotiation of the “Copenhagen Accord,” an agreement for modest CO2 emissions reductions that was negotiated by five top-polluting countries. The Accord has since been signed by over 130 additional governments.

    As part of this transformation, many mainstream environmental organizations have gone from being voices for change on the margins of the political process, to allying themselves with powerful political and economic actors — politicians, regulatory agencies, and eco-reformist corporations — in building campaigns for carbon reductions in which ecological principles are often sacrificed to political expediency.8In order to defend their polluting industries from radical overhaul, reformist corporations have spent a massive amount of resources promoting “false solutions”: initiatives such as carbon trading, carbon capture and storage/sequestration (CCS) and natural gas, biofuels, and other “alternate” fuel stock, that seek to “manage the climate crisis without compromising profits, the power structures or the economic system that got us here, even if that means exacerbating the problem.”

    In the United States, the promotion of “clean coal” and CCS has allowed the coal power industry to continue polluting communities by holding up the false hope of eventual reductions in carbon emissions. By “greening” the image of coal through heavy advertisement and political promotion of the supposed promise of “clean coal,” the energy industry has managed to take the political heat off of coal-fired power generation, and prolong the period in which these plants are allowed to continue operating. At the EPA, there has been recent progress in the development of new rules under the Clean Air Act to regulate air toxics, such as the Mercury and Air Toxics Rule, which has already spurred announcements of intended closure of multiple plants, according to multiple plant owners. However, unfortunately, EPA proposes to exempt existing coal power plants from its new rule regulating greenhouse gasses, the New Source Performance Standard for Power Plants.

    The new proposed rule is limited to new plants.

    In recent years, many climate activists have criticized the increasingly cozy relationship between large environmental organizations and government/corporate actors, arguing that some mainstream environmental organizations are ignoring principles of environmental justice while they appear to defer to government and corporate partners more than they do to activists at the forefront of local climate, environmental, and social justice struggles. These activists have formed what they call the “climate justice movement,” arguing that stopping climate change is impossible without radically transforming the economic and political system that caused climate catastrophe in the first place.

    In the past decade, advocates for climate justice have grown from a small network of individuals — often with roots in the global justice or environmental justice movements — to become a full-fledged social movement. The Bali Principles (inspired by the 1991 Principles of Environmental Justice), which were authored by the Indigenous Environmental Network, Third World Network, Oil Watch, CorpWatch, Friends of the Earth, the National Alliance of People’s Movements, and other groups from both Global North and South – outline the following central principles of climate justice:

    • A demand for a moratorium on all new fossil fuel exploration & exploitation, nuclear power plant construction, and large hydroelectric dam construction;

    • Opposition to the role of corporations both in shaping unsustainable practices, and in unfairly influencing policy;

    • The subordination of “market-based or technological solutions to climate change” to principles of democracy, sustainability, and social justice;

    • The principles of “common but differentiated responsibilities” and democratic accountability that governments must hold to in responding to the climate crisis;

    • The principle of the “ecological debt” owed by the Global North to the rest of the world for its disproportionate share of historical CO2 emissions;

    • The right of workers in fossil-fuel industries to a safe, healthy work environment, and the need for a “just transition” to a clean energy economy;

    • The rights of women, youth, the poor, and rural peoples to have an equal voice in decision-making processes, without facing discrimination; and

    • The right of Indigenous peoples and affected communities “to represent and speak for themselves,” to control all their traditional lands, to protect themselves from any threat to their territories or their “cultural way of life,” and to exercise “free, prior, and informed consent” over project decision-making.

    While the climate justice movement has been at its most visible while protesting and agitating at international climate summits and negotiations (such as the protests at the COP-15 UN climate negotiations in Copenhagen in December 2009, at which 1,800 climate justice activists were arrested), those who comprise the “movement” are actually a coalition of local groups campaigning for real solutions to climate change in their communities. In the U.S., this movement includes groups like the Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative, the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, We Act for Environmental Justice, Southwest Workers Union, the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Black Mesa Water Coalition, and many others. Through this transnational climate justice movement, local groups are given an important platform to demonstrate the integral connection between their local campaigns on a wide variety of issues, and the climate justice goals outlined above. As Indigenous activist Clayton Thomas-Muller has stated, the agenda of the climate justice movement is about:

    “Not simply demanding action on climate, but demanding rights-based and justice-based action on climate that… amplifies the voices of those least responsible and most directly impacted. Not only are we the frontline of impacts, we are the frontline of survival.” 11

    In building this movement, climate justice activists are guided by an overriding principle: communities most affected by climate change should be at the forefront of the struggle. This report, Coal Blooded: Putting Profits Before People, demonstrates both the urgency and opportunity for community action with respect to coal fired power plants—an issue at the intersection between climate justice and environmental justice.

    Introduction

    This report focuses on the role that coal-fired power plants have in the inequitable health outcomes of low income communities and communities of color in the U.S. and in the contribution of greenhouse gasses that drive climate change, the consequences of which also disproportionately impact people of color and low income communities globally. Coal plants have differing effects on low-income communities and communities of color - some are measurably worse than others. This report provides an empirical discussion of the effects of burning coal in power plants. Researchers focus on the coal plants in the U.S. with the worst records on environmental justice, and on the companies that own them.

    Overall, a small number of coal power plants have a disproportionately large and destructive effect on the public’s health, especially on the health of low-income people and people of color. It is the argument of this report that the worst offending coal plants described and analyzed in this report must be closed – it is the only viable option.

    Coal Blooded: Putting Profits Before People is a systematic study of 378 coal-fired power plants in the United States, in which each plant is evaluated in terms of its environmental justice performance (EJP), i.e., how it affects low-income communities and communities of color. The same methodology is used to evaluate Corporate Environmental Justice Performance (CEJP), based on the effects of those companies’ coal-fired power plants on low-income communities and communities of color. The score assigned to each plant, and each company, is based on five factors: SO2 and NOX emissions; the total population living within three miles of the plant(s); and the median income and percentage of people of color among the total population living within three miles of the plant(s).

    This report has been written for multiple audiences. First, the report is for grassroots community activists and community organizations, to make them aware of the issue and its impact, to provide tools for organizing and advocacy, and to highlight what a winning strategy looks like. Second, it is written for environmental activists and organizations to dialogue about the environmental justice and climate justice dimensions of the anti-coal movement, to raise awareness of the existence and struggle of grassroots environmental justice organizations in communities across the county, and to suggest models of partnership that are the basis of a winning strategy. Lastly, it is written for philanthropy to offer opportunities for investing resources that will both support local communities’ struggling to better their living conditions while also advancing environmental grant makers’ most important goals of protecting human health and the environment and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

    • Part I provides an introduction to coal and its impact on our communities.

    • Part II presents the performance ranking of coal power plants in the U.S.

    • Part III provides a ranking of the coal power companies through a Corporate Environmental Justice Performance measure.

    • Part IV discusses how the industry has been financially profitable for the companies engaged in the business of coal power.

    • Part V provides a framework for responding to this overall situation.

    • Part VI looks at the recent community victory in Chicago and describes the elements of a winning strategy to close the worst offending coal plants – especially the grassroots leadership required.

    • Lastly, Part VII offers a series of recommendations on what can be done to reduce harm—both immediately and in the future.

    N.B. This report was researched and written using the last available 3-year average data from the EPA, from 2007-2010 and the latest census data available (2000) at the time of the completion of the report. Though some plants have closed and demographics have shifted, the intention is to illustrate the impact our dependence of coal has had on communities over time and to provide a cautionary tale if we continue on our present course of coal dependence.

    Conclusion

    Affirmative changes can be made to our energy practices that will ensure that we have the power we need, the jobs that sustain our livelihoods, and the preservation of health and wellbeing in all communities.

    Closing the 75“failing plants “highlighted in this report would reduce U.S. power production by only 8 percent. This amount could easily be substituted by increased energy conservation and renewable energy production. The measures taken to increase energy conservation and renewable energy production include tax credits and financing for weatherization and supporting low income housing and homeowners to invest in renewable energy for their homes, water heating systems heated through geothermal, energy assessments on schools and homes, communities and instituting renewable portfolio standards to support scaling up utilization of renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and geothermal, etc. The key point is that shifting from harmful energy production through burning coal would reduce the number of Americans living within three miles of a coal plant by 67 percent, and therefore reduce thousands of hospitalizations, deaths, and incidents of illness in communities affected by these plants.

    The message arising from this report is simple: these polluting life-compromising coal plants must be closed, and the path to doing so involves engagement from all to ensure policies and systems protect public health and maintain the economic wellbeing of communities, while providing the energy we all require to function.

    QUICK NEWS, November 26: THE COMPETITIVENESS OF WIND, 2; GEORGIA GETS INTO SOLAR; SMART GRID ENABLES COMMUNITY WIND

    THE COMPETITIVENESS OF WIND, 2 Learning From Kansas: Why Utilities Are Embracing Wind Energy, Part 2 (continued from Wednesday)

    Alan Claus Anderson, Britton Gibson, Luke Hagedorn & Scott W. White, 20 November

    2012 (North American Windpower

    “One of the benefits that renewable energy sources - such as wind and solar - provide is price certainty. When utilities add renewable energy generation to their portfolios, they can lock in power supply at a known price for up to 20 years…Eighty percent of the overall cost of wind power is incurred up front, due to the procurement of the turbines and the construction of the generation facility. Only about 10% of the levelized cost is incurred during operations and maintenance.

    “…[A] utility is able to lock in a price for the electricity for the term of the agreement, regardless of any fluctuations in the ongoing project costs…The benefit of having the bulk of wind facility costs incurred up front is that because the costs are accrued early in the project’s development, it becomes easier to accurately estimate the extent of those costs.”

    “…[T]he total costs for these projects are likely to decrease over time as technology becomes more widely utilized…A May 2012 study conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory for the International Energy Agency…found about a 20% to 30% reduction in the LCOE of wind energy generation by the year 2030…[and] because wind as a “fuel” is free, so there is no exposure to volatile fuel prices or fluctuating fuel transportation costs.

    “…[T]he costs of wind are relatively predictable…[T]he costs of coal and natural-gas generation facilities can fluctuate significantly over time due to the costs associated with fuel prices, as well as increasingly stringent environmental regulations…[And] coal exports are on a record pace this year, so new demands will…likely [increase demand and] drive prices upward…Despite recent developments in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, natural-gas prices [also] remain subject to [price volatility]…”

    GEORGIA GETS INTO SOLAR Commission Green-Lights Georgia Power's 210 MW Solar Initiative

    21 November 2012 (Solar Industry)

    “The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) has…[unanimously] approved Atlanta-based utility Georgia Power's new solar initiative - the Georgia Power Advanced Solar Initiative (GPASI).

    “Through the GPASI, the utility will acquire 210 MW of additional solar capacity through long-term contracts over a two-year period…[It is] the largest voluntarily developed solar portfolio from an investor-owned utility.”

    “…Georgia Power's utility-scale program will purchase 60 MW annually for two years through a competitive request for proposals (RFP) program, with projects ranging in size from 1 MW to 20 MW. By as early as 2013, a distributed-scale program will provide opportunities for up to 45 MW per year of smaller solar projects…[of] small-scale (less than 100 kW) and medium-scale (100-1,000 kW) projects.

    “RFPs for the utility-scale program will be conducted in 2013 and 2014 and will require commercial operation dates in 2015 and 2016. Georgia Power…could begin signing solar contracts under the distributed-scale program as early the first quarter of 2013.”

    SMART GRID ENABLES COMMUNITY WIND Smart Grid Project Helps Keep Surplus Wind Power Local

    Joseph Bebon, 18 November 2012 (Renew Grid)

    “…The small city of Summerside, located on Canada's Prince Edward Island…decided [in 2003] to build and own…the Summerside Wind Farm…[T]he 12 MW project was commissioned in 2009…[T]he taxpayers own the wind farm and sell the power to the municipal utility, Summerside Electric…Summerside Electric purchases another 9 MW of wind power from West Cape Energy…[The two] sources give the utility 50% wind integration.

    “But there is a problem: Summerside Electric has a peak load of 23 MW, a minimum load of 11 MW and an average load of 18 MW. With a wind capacity of 21 MW, the utility often has to sell surplus wind power to entities outside the city’s borders…[The city believes] the utility and community [should] have a proactive, rather than reactive, approach to power needs…Summerside Electric has to export about 7.5 million KWh of excess wind power every year, and the municipal government wants to keep the energy within its borders….[That] is where Summerside’s smart grid project came in….”

    “In August 2011, the city council voted to use the C$1.5 million that was leftover…[to develop] the Heat For Less Now program: an initiative to install advanced electric heating units, as well as supportive smart grid solutions, at residents’ homes. By [offering the electricity used by the heating appliances at C$0.08/KWh - meaning that for every kilowatt-hour sold, the utility receives four extra cents and customers receive a four-cent rebate from what their existing electrical rates are, it incentivized] residents to heat their houses and water using electricity rather than oil or gas]…

    “…[I]t took about six months to get one-tenth of the community fiber-wired and a year and a half to get the Heat program off the ground. The beta pilot phase…has only installed 103 electric thermal storage units on 54 premises and 115 smart meters on 56 premises thus far…[T]he goal is to get electric heaters to 500 homes and then call it a proven beta system. Right now, 90% of Summerside Electric’s customers still use sources other than electricity to heat their homes and hot water…[T]he city plans to eventually expand its wind farm and become an even greener community…[to make] the Heat program…successful in the long run…”

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