NewEnergyNews: QUICK NEWS, February 11: HOW SEQUESTRATION STALLS NEW ENERGY INNOVATION; CLIMATE CHANGE WILL COST FARMERS; THE FUTURE OF BUILDING ENERGY MANAGEMENT

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

  • Weekend Video: The Ocean Speaks Out
  • Weekend Video: Adapting To The Inevitable
  • Weekend Video: The Joy Of Driving EVs Powered By The Sun
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-HOTTEST SEPTEMBER EVER; WORLD’S HOTTEST MONTHS STREAK AT SIX
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-EU WIND BEATS FOSSIL, NUKE ENERGY PRICES
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-DESERTEC SUCCUMBS TO MIDEAST TURMOIL
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-JAPAN UPS PUSH FOR GEOTHERMAL
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    GET THE DAILY HEADLINES EMAIL: CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR SEND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, Oct. 16:

  • TTTA Thursday-THE MILITARY FALLS FOR THE HOAX
  • TTTA Thursday-FORTUNE 100 BUSINESSES BOOST SUN
  • TTTA Thursday-IOWA UTILITY BUYS WIND TO CUT COSTS
  • TTTA Thursday-GETTING ENERGY EFFICIENCY FROM THE CLOUD
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: NEW ENERGY BECOMES PRICE COMPETITIVE
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 15: NEW NUMBERS SHOW BIG OCEAN WIND POWER; SOLAR TURNS IN A NEW DIRECTION; FUEL CELL MARKETS TO VARY, GROW
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: WORLD WIND COMES ON
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 14: THE UTILITY-SOLAR DEBATE OVER WHO PAYS; TECHNICIANS WANTED – APPLY TO WIND; MAKING MULTIFAMILY BLDGS MORE EFFICIENT
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • THE STUDY: A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF CONCENTRATING SOLAR POWER PLANTS
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 13: NUCLEAR FADING, NEW ENERGY COMING ON; THE ONE BIG ADVANTAGE OF SOLAR; HALF OF GLOBAL HEAT MAY BE HIDING IN THE OCEANS
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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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  • Monday, February 11, 2013

    QUICK NEWS, February 11: HOW SEQUESTRATION STALLS NEW ENERGY INNOVATION; CLIMATE CHANGE WILL COST FARMERS; THE FUTURE OF BUILDING ENERGY MANAGEMENT

    HOW SEQUESTRATION STALLS NEW ENERGY INNOVATION Energy Funding Outlook Looks Bleak as Obama Begins Second Term; Cuts and a decade of stagnation loom ahead for renewed clean energy funding.

    Kevin Bullis, February 1, 2013 (MIT Technology Review)

    “As a result of impending mandatory spending cuts known as sequestration…federal support for clean energy, which received a $90 billion jolt from the stimulus package four years ago, is likely to decrease…Under sequestration, across-the-board cuts would go into effect in March, and be followed by a decade-long funding cap…The mandatory cuts could be avoided by Congress, but key congressional staffers say that looks unlikely.

    “The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has analyzed the impact of the cuts on R&D. Originally, the cuts would have lowered defense-related R&D by 9.1 percent and non-defense R&D, such as at the DOE, by 7.6 percent. As a result of the tax deal, the cuts are lowered for fiscal year 2013 to 7.6 percent for defense and 5.1 percent for non-defense R&D, but the full cuts would go into place next year. After that, spending is supposed to stay flat for a decade.”

    “If the across-the-board cuts happen, they will affect all parts of federal energy R&D, including programs at national labs and federally funded research at companies and universities…[It’s] not clear how much flexibility agencies will have to move money around to protect high-priority programs…[because the] law calls for across-the-board cuts. Of course, Congress has the power to change the law if it wants to.

    “Avoiding sequestration would require a focused effort on the part of the Obama administration, and would likely require finding alternative ways to achieve similar overall cost reductions. One way to protect R&D might be to siphon money away from some subsidy programs…For example, current subsidies for wind currently go mostly to established technologies. Shifting that to funding for next generation offshore wind turbines could have a bigger impact on clean energy innovation…”

    CLIMATE CHANGE WILL COST FARMERS Report: Climate change could devastate agriculture; A comprehensive USDA study concludes rising temperatures could cost farmers millions as they battle new pests, faster weed growth and get smaller yields as climate change continues.

    Christopehr Doering, February 5, 2013 (USA Today)

    “Climate change could have a drastic and harmful effect on U.S. agriculture, forcing farmers and ranchers to alter where they grow crops and costing them millions of dollars in additional costs to tackle weeds, pests and diseases that threaten their operations…[According to Climate Change and Agriculture in the United States the Agriculture Department] although] U.S. crops and livestock have been able to adapt to changes in their surroundings for close to 150 years, the accelerating pace and intensity of global warming during the next few decades may soon be too much for the once-resilient sector to overcome…

    “The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said 2012 was the hottest year ever in the USA since record-keeping began in 1895, surpassing the previous high by a full degree Fahrenheit. The country was battered by the worst drought in more than 50 years, and crops withered away in bone-dry fields across the Midwest.”

    “In the report, researchers said U.S. cropland agriculture will be fairly resistant to climate change during the next quarter-century…Farmers will be able to minimize the impact of global warming on their crops by changing the timing of farming practices and utilizing specialized crop varieties more resilient to drought, disease and heat, among other practices…[but by] the middle of the century and beyond, adaptation becomes more difficult and costly as plants and animals that have adapted to warming climate conditions will have to do so even more — making the productivity of crops and livestock increasingly more unpredictable…

    “Temperature increases and more extreme swings in precipitation could lead to a drop in yield for major U.S. crops and reduce the profitability of many agriculture operations…[because] higher temperatures cause crops to mature more quickly, reducing the growing season and yields as a result. Faster growth could reduce grain, forage, fiber and fruit production if the plants can't get the proper level of nutrients or water… Among the biggest threat to crops from rising temperatures and accelerated levels of carbon dioxide is an increase in the cost for the agricultural industry to control weeds, a challenge that tops more than $11 billion annually…”

    THE FUTURE OF BUILDING ENERGY MANAGEMENT Building Energy Management Technology Landscape

    Eric Bloom and Bob Gohn, 1Q 2013 (Pike Research/Navigant)

    “The market for building energy management systems (BEMSs) comprises hundreds of vendors offering thousands of products aimed at using building-related energy data to reduce energy costs…[that] vary…

    “Vendors have historically focused on BEMSs based on a single source (building automation system (BAS) data, utility bills, operational data, etc.), but an increasing number of players are looking to integrate multiple data sets into powerful, enterprise-level energy management platforms.”

    “…[T]he two main functions of a BEMS have been energy visualization and energy analytics to provide basic dashboard views and recommendations regarding potential energy conservation measures. These will remain the foundation of BEMSs…

    “…[O]ther applications, such as demand response, operations/facility management, continuous commissioning, energy procurement, and rapid energy modeling, are starting to enhance and differentiate certain vendors’ BEMS offerings. In the future, BEMSs will serve an important role in enhancing building-to-grid and vehicle-to-building interconnections through the intelligent use of digital building-related energy data…”

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