NewEnergyNews: QUICK NEWS, January 21: SCIENCE MEETS FAITH IN THE CLIMATE FIGHT; MONEY IN SOLAR EQPMT STILL FALLING; THE BOOM IN VEHICLE BATTERIES

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-WHY DENIERS’ BRAINS REJECT CLIMATE CHANGE
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-CHINESE TO HELP SAUDIS GO NEW ENERGY BY 2032
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-BUILDING EFFICIENCY TO BOOM IN EUROPE
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-GEOTHERMAL SEEKS CARIBBEAN BREAKTHROUGH
  • THE DAY BEFORE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, August 21:

  • TTTA Thursday-THE RISKIEST ENERGY PLAYS IN THE WORLD
  • TTTA Thursday-FACTS ON BIRDS AND SOLAR POWER
  • TTTA Thursday-WIND PRICES AT ALL TIME LOWS
  • TTTA Thursday-PRICES DROPPING ON GREEN BUILDING
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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: IMPORTS, EXPORTS AND NEW ENERGY
  • QUICK NEWS, August 20: COURTS DISMISS 98% OF WIND HEALTH COMPLAINTS; TURNING OLD CAR BATTERIES INTO NEW SOLAR PANELS; OCEAN ENERGY PIONEERS
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: CLIMATE CHANGE IN AFRICA
  • QUICK NEWS, August 19: LOW-PRICED WIND ENERGY ATTRACTS UTILITIES; TEXAS SUBURBS BLOCK SOLAR; WHAT UTILITY CUSTOMERS WANT
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: THE THREATS TO OLD ENERGIES AROUND THE WORLD
  • QUICK NEWS, August 18: GERMANY UPS GRID STABILITY WITH NEW ENERGY ; U.S. SOLAR MANUFACTURING TO RISE; TEXAS LEADS U.S. WIND BOOM
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • Weekend Video: Buy Or Lease Rooftop Solar?
  • Weekend Video: The Sound Of The Wind
  • Weekend Video: Why Energy Efficiency?
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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

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  • Monday, January 21, 2013

    QUICK NEWS, January 21: SCIENCE MEETS FAITH IN THE CLIMATE FIGHT; MONEY IN SOLAR EQPMT STILL FALLING; THE BOOM IN VEHICLE BATTERIES

    SCIENCE MEETS FAITH IN THE CLIMATE FIGHT At a Climate Protest, Science and Religion

    Jada F. Smith, January 15, 2013 (NY Times)

    “Science and religion went hand-in-hand…as leaders from both worlds gathered in front of the White House to protest what they cast as government inaction on climate change…With record-breaking global temperatures in 2012, severe droughts and several storms and hurricanes on the East Coast, some members of the American clergy are saying that human decisions that contribute to the extreme weather associated with climate change can no longer be left in the hands of politicians.

    “Promoting an awareness of climate change and the role of humans as stewards of the earth has become a popular theme among progressive religious congregations. Even the climate skeptics in their ranks, some said, are starting to realize that something strange is going on…[At a] “pray-in” at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church and a subsequent march to the White House...[religious leaders] described environmental activism as an extension of the work [the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.] did to advance civil rights and economic justice…”

    “From the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans to a proposal to lay the proposed Keystone XL pipeline through some American Indian communities, some religious leaders have begun to see the issue of weather extremes, fossil fuel emissions and threats to habitats as a moral one…After prayers and religious readings from Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh leaders and a few American Indian chants…the victims of Hurricane Sandy were [remembered]…

    “…[Leaders said the next step] is to bring even more groups into the fold…[King, one said,] ‘would say that we need to come together because this is our planet, and if we lose this, then all the other issues won’t matter.’…”

    MONEY IN SOLAR EQPMT STILL FALLING Solar PV Equipment Spending Declines 72% to $3.6 Billion in 2012…Forecast for 2013 is Further Decline to $2.2 Billion; Survival Strategies Essential to Address Prolonged Downturn in PV Investment

    January 17, 2013 (SolarBuzz)

    “Solar photovoltaic (PV) equipment spending (covering c-Si ingot-to-module and thin-film) was $3.6 billion for 2012, a 72% decline from the peak of $12.9 billion in 2011, according to new [NPD Solarbuzz] research…Spending for 2013 is forecast to decline even further to $2.2 billion, levels not seen in the industry since 2006…[due to a] halt to capacity investment by PV manufacturers, as well as a lack of upgrades…

    “…[T]he leading equipment suppliers are forecast to be GT Advanced Technologies, Meyer Burger, Applied Materials, and Apollo Solar…[with] PV-specific revenues in excess of $400 million. Only eight PV equipment suppliers are forecast to have PV-specific revenues during 2012 in excess of $100 million, compared to 23 in 2011.”

    “Just 24 months ago, GT Advanced Technologies, Meyer Burger, Applied Materials, and Centrotherm each reported PV backlogs at or above $1 billion. However, successive quarters with minimal new order intake, coupled with strong de-bookings, have reduced PV equipment backlogs to levels last experienced in 1H’06…[which] are unlikely to be repeated for at least three years…

    “With so much competitive c-Si capacity shipped during 2011 and 2012, the biggest fear for tool suppliers is the emergence of a secondary equipment market across China and Taiwan…[T]his would delay any upturn in equipment spending. However, it also suggests that the PV industry is not conforming to a collective roadmap or experiencing a significant technology-buy cycle…[T]he focus of equipment suppliers has now shifted from gaining market share within the PV industry to deciding how to restructure manufacturing and streamline PV R&D…”

    THE BOOM IN VEHICLE BATTERIES Electric Vehicle Batteries; Lithium Ion Batteries for Hybrid, Plug-In Hybrid, and Battery Electric Light Duty Vehicles: Market Analysis and Forecasts

    1Q 2013 (Pike Research/Navigant)

    “Global automotive manufacturers are accelerating their efforts to produce more vehicles utilizing electric drivetrains…[because of] newly enacted fuel economy standards, greater confidence in electric powered vehicles, and advances in battery technology…

    “In 2012, Toyota introduced the fifth-generation Prius, powered for the first time with lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries. The shift from nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries to Li-ion represents a major endorsement of this chemistry as well as its ability to perform consistently in an automotive environment.”

    “The immediate future looks to be secure for the Li-ion chemistry, although there are many variants still under development to improve performance and reduce cost…

    “…[L]eading battery cell manufacturers have built new factories utilizing the latest production techniques including greater automation and faster throughput. Pike Research forecasts that the overall market for Li-ion batteries in light duty transportation will grow from $1.6 billion in 2012 to almost $22 billion in 2020.”

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