NewEnergyNews: 07/01/2013 - 08/01/2013

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

While the OFFICE of President remains in highest regard at NewEnergyNews, this administration's position on climate change makes it impossible to regard THIS president with respect. Below is the NewEnergyNews theme song until 2020.

The challenge now: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • TODAY’S STUDY: Is peak oil demand coming soon?
  • QUICK NEWS, November 21: Online Deniers Falsely Used NASA Study About Antarctic Melt; The EV As A Mini Power Plant; New Energy Price Knocks Coal, Nuclear Out Of The Market
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • TODAY’S STUDY: How Green Is The Tech World?
  • QUICK NEWS, November 20: The U.S. Is Starting To Get It; New Energy Buying Goes Mainstream; House, Senate To Face Off Over Wind Support
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • Weekend Video: Global New Energy To Boom Through 2040
  • Weekend Video: The Power Of The Sun
  • Weekend Video: World’s First Floating Wind Project
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Three Top Takeaways From The Bonn Climate Summit
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Seven Global New Energy Trends
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-World’s First Floating Wind Project Goes Online
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-VW Commits $11.8BIL EV Spend In China
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, November 16:

  • TTTA Thursday-Big Thumbs Up For Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Sequel’
  • TTTA Thursday- Trends In Global New Energy Through 2040
  • TTTA Thursday-How Wind Energy Learned To Be Better
  • TTTA Thursday-The Secret To See-Through Solar
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    Founding Editor Herman K. Trabish

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    click image for more info about the Sunstock Solar Festival

    Research Associate and Contributing Editor Jessica R. Wunder

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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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      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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  • TODAY AT NewEnergyNews, November 22:

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Will California's 100% renewables goal get through the political process?
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: What makes a successful utility-led community solar program?

    Wednesday, July 31, 2013

    TODAY’S STUDY: HOW TO COMPARE VALUE OF SOLAR STUDIES

    A Review of Solar PV Benefit & Cost Studies

    Lena Hansen, Virginia Lacy and Devi Glick, July 2013 (Rocky Mountain Institute)

    Executive Summary

    The Need

    The addition of distributed energy resources (DERs) onto the grid creates new opportunities and challenges because of their unique siting, operational, and ownership characteristics compared to conventional centralized resources.

    Today, the increasingly rapid adoption of distributed solar photovoltaics (DPV) in particular is driving a heated debate about whether DPV creates benefits or imposes costs to stakeholders within the electricity system. But the wide variation in analysis approaches and quantitative tools used by different parties in different jurisdictions is inconsistent, confusing, and frequently lacks transparency.

    Without increased understanding of the benefits and costs of DERs, there is little ability to make effective tradeoffs between investments.

    Objective Of This Document

    The objective of this eLab discussion document is to assess what is known and unknown about the categorization, methodological best practices, and gaps around the benefits and costs of DPV, and to begin to establish a clear foundation from which additional work on benefit/cost assessments and pricing structure design can be built.

    This discussion document reviews 15 DPV benefit/cost studies by utilities, national labs, and other organizations. Completed between 2005 and 2013, these studies reflect a significant range of estimated DPV value.

    Key Insights

    No study comprehensively evaluated the benefits and costs of DPV, although many acknowledge additional sources of benefit or cost and many agree on the broad categories of benefit and cost. There is broad recognition that some benefits and costs may be difficult or impossible to quantify, and some accrue to different stakeholders.

    There is a significant range of estimated value across studies, driven primarily by differences in local context, input assumptions, and methodological approaches.

    Local context: Electricity system characteristics—generation mix, demand projections, investment plans, market structures —vary across utilities, states, and regions.

    Input assumptions: Input assumptions—natural gas price forecasts, solar power production, power plant heat rates—can vary widely.

    Methodologies: Methodological differences that most significantly affect results include (1) resolution of analysis and granularity of data, (2) assumed cost and benefit categories and stakeholder perspectives considered, and (3) approaches to calculating individual values.

    Because of these differences, comparing results across studies can be informative, but should be done with the understanding that results must be normalized for context, assumptions, or methodology.

    While detailed methodological differences abound, there is general agreement on overall approach to estimating energy value and some philosophical agreement on capacity value, although there remain key differences in capacity methodology. There is significantly less agreement on overall approach to estimating grid support services and currently unmonetized values including financial and security risk, environment, and social value.

    Implications

    Methods for identifying, assessing and quantifying the benefits and costs of distributed resources are advancing rapidly, but important gaps remain to be filled before this type of analysis can provide an adequate foundation for policymakers and regulators engaged in determining levels of incentives, fees, and pricing structures for DPV and other DERs.

    In any benefit/cost study, it is critical to be transparent about assumptions, perspectives, sources and methodologies so that studies can be more readily compared, best practices developed, and drivers of results understood.

    While it may not be feasible to quantify or assess sources of benefit and cost comprehensively, benefit/cost studies must explicitly decide if and how to account for each source of value and state which are included and which are not.

    While individual jurisdictions must adapt approaches based on their local context, standardization of categories, definitions, and methodologies should be possible to some degree and will help ensure accountability and verifiability of benefit and cost estimates that provide a foundation for policymaking.

    The most significant methodological gaps include:

    Distribution value: The benefits or costs that DPV creates in the distribution system are inherently local, so accurately estimating value requires much more analytical granularity and therefore greater difficulty.

    Grid support services value: There continues to be uncertainty around whether and how DPV can provide or require additional grid support services, but this could potentially become an increasingly important value.

    Financial, security, environmental, and social values: These values are largely (though not comprehensively) unmonetized as part of the electricity system and some are very difficult to quantify.

    Looking Ahead

    Thus far, studies have made simplifying assumptions that implicitly assume historically low penetrations of DPV. As the penetration of DPV on the electric system increases, more sophisticated, granular analytical approaches will be needed and the total value is likely to change.

    Studies have largely focused on DPV by itself. But a confluence of factors is likely to drive increased adoption of the full spectrum of renewable and distributed resources, requiring a consideration of DPV’s benefits and costs in the context of a changing system.

    With better recognition of the costs and benefits that all DERs can create, including PDV, pricing structures and business models can be better aligned, enabling greater economic deployment of DERs and lower overall system costs for ratepayers.

    QUICK NEWS, July 31: WORLD RENEWABLES TO RISE; SUN TO HIT $134BIL BY 2020; VIRGINIA LOOKS OFFSHORE FOR WIND

    WORLD RENEWABLES TO RISE World energy use to rise by 56 percent, driven by growth in the developing world

    July 25, 2013 (U.S. Energy Information Administration)

    “Over the next three decades, world energy consumption is projected to increase by 56 percent… largely in the developing world, where growth is driven by strong, long-term economic growth. Half of the total world increase in energy consumption is attributed to China and India…Although petroleum and other liquids remain the largest source of energy, the liquid fuels share of world marketed energy consumption falls from 34 percent in 2010 to 28 percent in 2040. Renewable energy and nuclear power are the world's fastest-growing energy sources, each increasing by 2.5 percent per year…Natural gas is the fastest growing fossil fuel…[growing] by 1.7 percent per year…” click here for more

    SUN TO HIT $134BIL BY 2020 Solar PV Market Forecasts; Installed Capacity, System Prices, and Revenue for Distributed and Non-Distributed Solar PV

    3Q 2013 (Navigant Research)

    "…Following years of solar PV module oversupply and unsustainable, often artificially low pricing, 2013 is expected to be the year that the global solar PV market begins to stabilize. Market activity is shifting from Europe to Asia Pacific and, potentially, the United States…There is also considerable opportunity in…Chile, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia…By the end of the decade, solar PV is expected to be cost competitive with retail electricity prices without subsidies in a significant portion of the world. Navigant Research forecasts that annual revenue from solar PV installations will surpass $134 billion by 2020…” click here for more

    VIRGINIA LOOKS OFFSHORE FOR WIND 112,800 acres off Virginia coast to be auctioned for wind energy

    Tamara Dietrich, July 23, 2013 (Hampton Roads Daily Press)

    “Nearly 112,800 acres off the coast of Virginia are set to be auctioned in September for wind energy development — the second such competitive lease sale in the country, the federal government announced…The move was praised by federal and state officials and environmental groups for its potential to create jobs, strengthen the country's energy security and competitiveness and develop large-scale clean energy projects…Eight companies are prequalified to bid, including Dominion Virginia Power, which is both the largest power company in the state and the largest participant in the auction…” click here for more

    Tuesday, July 30, 2013

    TODAY’S STUDY: CALIFORNIA’S SOLAR PLAN IS SUCCEEDING

    California Solar Initiative Annual Program Assessment

    Tim Drew, James Loewen, Neal Reardon, Ehren Seybert and Melicia Charles, June 2013 (California Public Utilities Commission)

    Executive Summary

    Introduction

    In January 2007, California began a $3.3 billion ratepayer-funded effort to install 3,000 megawatts (MW) of new solar over the next decade and transform the market for solar energy by reducing the cost of solar generating equipment. The California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) portion of the solar effort is known as the California Solar initiative (CSI) Program. The CSI program goal is to install 1,940 MW of solar capacity by the end of 2016, and, along with other statewide solar programs, transition the solar industry to a point where it can be self-sustaining without subsidies.

    This Annual Program Assessment meets statutory requirement for an annual report to the Legislature on the progress of the CSI Program. Other state authorized programs, including the New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP) and publicly-owned utilities’ solar offerings, are not included in this report.

    The market for solar generating equipment in California has grown at a rapid pace since the beginning of the CSI Program. The annual rate of new solar installations and the cumulative installed capacity both provide evidence that California is well along the path of achieving the installed capacity goals set forth by Senate Bill (SB) 1 in 2006, the legislation that authorized the CSI Program.

    Key Report Contents

    This report contains current information on distributed solar energy systems in California, including systems installed through the CSI Program and those installed through other incentive programs. In addition, this report provides detailed information on CSI Program participation, installed capacity, equipment costs, and program impacts. The report also includes information on the progress of other CSI Program components, including the Single-Family Affordable Solar Homes Program (SASH); the Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing Program (MASH); the CSI-Thermal Program; the CSI-Thermal Low Income Program; and the Research, Development and Demonstration (RD&D) Program.

    This report also includes information on Net Energy Metering (NEM) and other relevant policy updates.

    Statewide Installed Solar Highlights

    • Through the end of the first quarter of 2013, California has an estimated 1,629 MW of installed solar capacity on the customer side of the meter at 167,878 customer sites in the investor-owned utility (IOU) territories.

    • A record 391 megawatts (MW) were installed statewide in 2012, a growth of 26 percent from 2011.

    CSI General Market Program Highlights

    • The CSI Program as a whole has installed 66 percent of its total program goal, with another 19 percent of the goal reserved in pending projects.

    • PG&E and SDG&E territories have reserved and installed enough MW capacity to reach their goals in the residential sector.

    • PG&E has achieved the most installations in the non-residential sector, having met 70% of their non-residential installation goal.

    • The lowest installation rates for the residential sector are in SCE territory, where only 62% of the sector’s goals are complete.

    • NEM tariffs and the Federal Income Tax Credit (ITC) are playing a larger role in the economics of individual systems as the CSI program begins to phase out.

    Other Program Highlights

    • Single-Family Affordable Solar Homes (SASH)

    o Since the program was launched in December of 2008, SASH has received a total of 3,386 applications which have resulted in 8.5 MW of installed capacity on eligible homes, with another 1.8 MW currently in progress.

    o SASH applicants have received a total of $64 million in support for their residential solar systems.

    • Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing (MASH)

    o As of March 31, 2013, MASH had 287 completed projects representing a total capacity of 18.4 MW. There are an additional 83 MASH projects in process, for a total capacity of 11.3 MW.

    o Virtual Net Metering has allowed thousands of tenants to receive the direct benefits of solar as reductions in their monthly electric bills.

    • CSI-Thermal Program

    o In just over three years of operation, the program has received 1,215 applications for $56.3 million in incentives.

    • Research, Development, Demonstration and Deployment (RD&D) Program

    o The CSI RD&D Program has conducted three project solicitations since its inception, resulting in grant funding for 23 projects totaling $28 million. The funded projects focused on the following areas:

     Integration of solar PV into the electricity grid.

     Energy generation technologies and business development.

     Grid integration and production technologies.

    o A fourth solicitation of $7 million is currently anticipated for the second quarter of 2013. The focus of the fourth solicitation will be cost-effective, safe, and reliable strategies for integrating PV into distribution systems.

    Net Energy Metering

    • All but 92 MW, or 6 percent, of solar capacity in the state is signed up for Net Energy Metering (NEM) tariffs.

    • Pursuant to Assembly Bill (AB) 2514 (Bradford, 2012) and Decision (D.) 12-05-036, the Commission has initiated a study on the costs and benefits of NEM to ratepayers.

    The study will be released later this year

    QUICK NEWS, July 30: PIPELINE BUILDER REJECTS KEYSTONE DEAL; COLORADO XCEL TO RE-EVALUATE NET METERING; JERSEY STOPS OFFSHORE WIND FOR COST

    PIPELINE BUILDER REJECTS KEYSTONE DEAL ON COST TransCanada Rebuffs EPA’s Call for Keystone Clean Energy

    Jim Snyder & Jim Efstathiou Jr., July 18, 2013 (Bloomberg News)

    “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says TransCanada Corp. (TRP) should be required to buy renewable power to run pumps along the route of its proposed Keystone XL pipeline, a measure the company said is unworkable and unnecessary…The EPA, in an April filing with the State Department, also said the U.S. should work with Canada to promote technology to capture and store underground the carbon-dioxide emissions generated in the production of Canadian oil….The State Department is reviewing the $5.3 billion project because it crosses an international border. TransCanada first applied for a permit for the project in 2008…” click here for more

    COLORADO XCEL RE-EVALUATES NET METERING ON COST Colorado's Xcel Energy Signals For Change Of Direction On Net Metering

    25 July 2013 (Solar Industry)

    “…In filing its 2014 Renewable Energy Standard (RES) compliance plan with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), Xcel Energy says it intends to add 42.5 MW of new generation in 2014, including 24 MW of on-site (“small”) solar and 6.5 MW of community solar through the company’s Solar*Rewards program…The RES compliance plan also asks the CPUC to identify clearly the incentives provided to solar customers associated with [Net Energy Metering (NEM)]. The utility says NEM incentives ultimately are paid by non-solar customers across Xcel Energy’s service territory in Colorado…[and] the utility is requesting that the solar customers’ net costs - the benefits they receive less the costs Xcel Energy avoids as a result of their solar systems - be clearly spelled out…” click here for more

    JERSEY STOPS OFFSHORE WIND ON COST New Jersey BPU rejects offshore wind project

    Chris Mondics, July 21, 2013 (Philadelphia Inquirer)

    “New Jersey utility regulators dealt a setback…to [the proposed Fishermen's Energy Atlantic City wind farm] off the beaches of Atlantic City, saying they were not satisfied that the project's economic benefits would outweigh the added cost of wind energy…The Board of Public Utilities voted unanimously to accept a staff finding that the [25 megawatt] project's costs would not be offset by environmental benefits along with added jobs and investment in the region…” click here for more

    Monday, July 29, 2013

    TODAY’S STUDY: THE HUGE OPPORTUNITY IN OFFSHORE WIND O&M

    A Guide to UK Offshore Wind Operations and Maintenance

    July 2013 (GL Garrard Hassan for Scottish Enterprise and The Crown Estate)

    Executive Summary

    The focus of the fledgling UK offshore wind industry has so far been the development and construction of wind farms in the unforgiving marine environment. But, as more and more offshore assets are commissioned and the number of operational wind turbines continues to grow, the technical and commercial challenges of operating projects is starting to receive much greater attention.

    Offshore wind operations and maintenance (O&M) is a rapidly developing sector in its own right. Standardised technical and commercial practices have not yet emerged. Accepting that there are many paths offshore wind O&M can take, this ‘Guide to UK Offshore Wind Operations and Maintenance’ sets out the fundamental drivers that will shape the industry – and sheds light on the scale and nature of the opportunities it presents.

    Further From Shore

    As more and larger offshore wind projects are built, further from shore, accessing the turbines to carry out maintenance will require new logistical solutions.

    As well as the relatively well understood workboat-based approach, increasing transit distances mean that strategies which include helicopter support and, eventually, offshore-based working will be needed.

    The Opportunity

    O&M activity accounts for approximately one quarter of the life-time cost of an offshore wind farm. Over the next two decades, offshore wind O&M is going to become a significant industrial sector in its own right.

    Based on the UK Government’s projections for the deployment of offshore wind, the O&M of more than 5,500 offshore turbines could be worth almost £2bn per annum by 2025 – an industry similar in size to the UK passenger aircraft service business today.

    The Players

    The main customers for O&M services are the owners of the wind project, the supplier of the wind turbines and the owner of the electricity transmission connection. The precise contracting arrangements depend on several factors, not least the project owners’ appetite for taking a “hands-on” role and the capabilities available in the third-party market. Many areas of offshore O&M will present opportunities for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) – particularly those where location, flexibility and new ideas are important.

    All To Play For

    As this industry looks at the challenges ahead and strives for commercial maturity, it is those companies who actively engage now that will help to shape its future.

    Introduction

    Offshore wind O&M is the activity that follows commissioning to ensure the safe and economic running of the project. The objective of this activity is to make sure the project achieves the best balance between running cost and electricity output. O&M occurs throughout the life of the project, which is nominally 20 years. In this industry, O&M is broadly similar to inspection, repairs and maintenance (IRM) activity in the offshore oil and gas sector.

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    As implied in the name, O&M comprises two distinct streams of activity.

    • Operations refers to activities contributing to the high level management of the asset such as remote monitoring, environmental monitoring, electricity sales, marketing, administration and other back office tasks. Operations represent a very small proportion of O&M expenditure, the vast majority of which is accounted for directly by the wind farm owner or the supplier of the wind turbines.

    • Maintenance accounts for by far the largest portion of O&M effort, cost and risk. Maintenance activity is the up-keep and repair of the physical plant and systems. It can be divided into preventative maintenance and corrective maintenance.

    • Preventative maintenance includes proactive repair to, or replacement of, known wear components based on routine inspections or information from condition monitoring systems. It also includes routine surveys and inspections.

    • Corrective maintenance includes the reactive repair or replacement of failed or damaged components. It may also be performed batch-wise when serial defects or other problems that affect a large number of wind turbines need to be corrected. For planning purposes, the distinction is usually made between scheduled or proactive maintenance and unscheduled or reactive maintenance.

    After the paramount safety of personnel, the second most important consideration when operating and maintaining an offshore wind project is the financial return. The objective of maximising the output of valuable electricity for sale – at least cost – can be thought of as driving all decisions by project owners about planning and carrying out O&M.

    Key concepts

    Offshore wind O&M involves a diverse range of activities. However, there are a few fundamental concepts that underpin the way that the key players are likely to approach O&M. Some of the most important factors in shaping O&M are:

    • Availability – as a measure of the performance of the asset

    • scheduled and unscheduled maintenance – the nuts and bolts of keeping a project running smoothly

    • Access – overcoming the constraints placed on operations by the weather and sea conditions

    • Cost reduction – a continuing focus for the industry as a whole

    These concepts are explained in the following sections.

    Availability

    The economics of offshore wind O&M require a balance to be struck between the money spent on maintaining the project and the revenue lost when the electricity output is limited by technical problems.

    An important measure of the performance of a project is known as availability. Availability is the proportion of the time that a turbine, or the wind farm as a whole, is technically capable of producing electricity. Availability is therefore a measure of how little electricity is lost due to equipment downtime. The balance between O&M cost and the lost revenue incurred by non-availability will be different for every project, but current offshore wind farms typically achieve availability of between 90% and 95%.

    Onshore wind farms, which face much lower O&M costs, typically achieve higher availability in the order of 97%. Figure 2.1 shows indicative trends for the cost of O&M as a function of turbine availability. Although the cost of lost revenue declines towards zero as the turbines approach 100% availability, the cost of achieving it approaches exponential growth if 100% availability is required. If a wind farm owner invests too little in O&M, they will incur a penalty in the form of poor performance of the turbines and other components. Conversely, if an owner overinvests in O&M, with no regard to cost, they face diminishing returns as each increment in availability costs more than the last. The chart shows this theoretical optimum at the lowest point of the total cost curve, which of course will be slightly different for each project.

    Availability is a technical metric and not directly related to the wind resource. For this reason it is important that it is not confused with capacity factor which, while also expressed as a percentage, is strongly a measure of the output of the project and, as such, is influenced by the average wind speed at the site.

    Access

    One of the major hurdles to maintaining offshore wind projects is getting technicians on and off the turbines and offshore substations to carry out work. There are two major factors that influence the approach taken to gaining access:

    • Transit time – the time needed to shuttle a service crew from the O&M base to the place of work. With limited shift hours available, the time taken to transport crews to and from a maintenance job cuts into the amount of time actually working to maintain the turbines and other plant. The further the project site is from the O&M base, the less time can be spent by crews on active work, given the longer transit time and risk of fatigue.

    • Accessibility – the proportion of the time a turbine can be safely accessed from a particular vessel and is dependent on the sea conditions. For example if, at a particular project, the significant wave height1is greater than 2m for 40% of the time, a vessel that can transfer crew and equipment only in wave heights of 2m or less might be said to have 60% accessibility.

    Both of these factors depend, to some extent, on the average sea conditions in a particular location – accessibility more so than transit time. Accessibility is especially critical for unscheduled maintenance since the project operator will often have no opportunity to plan any production outages for times of calmer sea conditions. When planning the approach to O&M for any given project, the owner will seek to reduce the total cost (direct cost and lost production) by seeking ways to reduce transit time and increase accessibility to the turbines.

    Scheduled and Unscheduled Maintenance

    Much of the maintenance activity is currently carried out on an ad-hoc, responsive basis when a wind turbine or other system fails. This is referred to as unscheduled maintenance. Such faults will require a range of different responses from a simple inspection and restart of a wind turbine, which might take a couple of hours, through to the replacement of an offshore substation transformer, which could take weeks or months to implement.

    Other activities can be planned and executed in advance – scheduled maintenance. Typically, offshore wind turbines and associated plant have a defined scheduled maintenance regime which involves a major annual service supplemented by periodic inspection regimes. The annual services are usually conducted in the summer months to minimise weather downtime and lost production since average wind speeds tend to be lower in summer than in winter and may be carried out by a temporary, supplementary team of specialist staff and providers.

    Cost reduction

    Reducing the cost of the energy produced by offshore wind projects is a major focus for the offshore wind industry and for the UK Government. As a significant contributor to the overall cost of energy, finding ways to reduce the cost of O&M services and optimising asset performance have important roles to play.

    As described under “availability” above, the incentives on the owner of the project to maximise the electricity production at least cost are very compelling and can be expected to drive improvements in all technical elements of O&M as the market gathers momentum. Particular technical developments expected to come forward include future wind turbine models with increased focus on:

    • Improved remote monitoring and control to better understand the offshore plant and make previously unscheduled activities more predictable, reducing the logistical burden of putting technicians on turbines.

    • Design and manufacturing improvements aimed at boosting reliability, thereby reducing the frequency and cost of unscheduled maintenance.

    • Other, more fundamental, improvements such as the development of more reliable, gearless (direct drive) turbines.

    Non-technical areas for cost reduction, although uncertain, may include greater synergies, sharing of resources such as jack-up vessels or other logistics plant between neighbouring projects and greater competition within the O&M supply chain for a range of contract packages.‘Perfect’ O&M maximises availability, at least cost, by ensuring the best possible access to offshore plant, minimising unscheduled maintenance and carrying out scheduled maintenance as efficiently as possible – ultimately resulting in the lowest possible cost of energy…

    QUICK NEWS, July 29: REAGAN’S SEC-STATE TALKS ENERGY AND CLIMATE; SUN TO HIT $134BIL BY 2020; WHEN INTRODUCING WIND

    REAGAN’S SEC-STATE TALKS ENERGY AND CLIMATE A Republican Secretary of State Urges Action on Climate Change

    David Biello, July 24, 2013 (Scientific American via Yahoo News)

    “…[George Shultz, Secretary of State under President Ronald Reagan and key negotiator for the Montreal Protocol, one of the most effective global climate treaties ever:] “…In the energy area, we have to be constantly aware of three big objectives. Number one: we have to think of energy as a strategic commodity that is very important to our national security. Number two: we have to recognize that energy is the engine of the economy, so we want inexpensive, reliable, consistent energy. And number three: we have to recognize that energy produces pollutants as it burns, so it affects our environment. It affects the air we breathe; it affects the climate we create. So we have these three issues to keep in mind all the time, and you can't just do one or the other, but you've got to work on them all…” click here for more

    CHINA, EU SETTLE SOLAR TRADE DISPUTE EU reaches 'amicable solution' with China on solar panel dispute

    July 27, 2013 (AFP via The Economic Times)

    “China and the European Union defused their biggest trade dispute by far on Saturday with a deal to regulate Chinese solar panel imports and avoid a wider war in goods from wine to steel…After six weeks of talks, the EU's trade chief and his Chinese counterpart sealed the deal over the telephone, setting a minimum price for panels from China near spot market prices…An EU diplomatic source said that in the solar agreement, the agreed price was 0.56 euro cents per watt, near the spot price for Chinese solar panels in July in Europe…Under the terms of the deal, China will also be allowed to meet [7 of Europe's 2012 16.9 gigawatt] solar panel demand…without being subject to tariffs under the deal…” click here for more

    WHEN INTRODUCING WIND PSU study: Residents more responsive to wind farms if involved in process

    Dan Seufert, July 17, 2013 (Plymouth State University via Plymouth Magazine)

    “Plymouth State University's Viewshed Valuation Pilot Study of residents' attitudes on the value of scenic views affected by wind farms found discontent among Groton residents, where a wind farm went online…[The study] found widespread individual values-based opposition in the Plymouth area to current proposals from two European wind power companies…[It] also found that residents responded more favorably to wind farm projects if they were involved in the early proposal and planning stages…” click here for more

    Saturday, July 27, 2013

    Hot Times Coming

    It doesn’t take long to see what’s happening. But there are still lots of folks who deny the significance. From nkvdtube via YouTube

    Farming Wind In Turkey

    Farming in the age of warming. From FilmSortiment.De via YouTube

    All-Electric Car Of The Future

    Take a look and see if it’s possible not to say, “Wow!” From allcarsintheworld1 via YouTube

    Friday, July 26, 2013

    CLIMATE SKEPTIC COMPROMISING REUTERS REPORTING

    Reuters Climate Change Coverage Declined Significantly After "Skeptic" Editor Joined; New Analysis Backs Whistleblower's Claims

    Max Greenberg, July 23, 2013 (Media Matters)

    “A Media Matters study finds that Reuters' coverage of climate change declined by nearly 50 percent under the regime of the current managing editor, lending credence to a former reporter's claim that a ‘climate of fear’ has gripped the agency…David Fogarty, a former Reuters climate change correspondent, wrote that Managing Editor Paul Ingrassia, then serving as deputy editor-in-chief, identified himself as "a climate change sceptic" in 2012. As time went on, Fogarty alleged, "getting any climate change-themed story published got harder," as some desk editors "agonised" over decisions and allowed articles to become mired in bureaucracy [and Fogarty was dismissed]…” click here for more

    MOROCCAN SOLAR PLANT CUTS CSP COST

    Could one of the cheapest Concentrated Solar Power plants be a turning point for this technology?

    Gianleo Frisari, July 2013 (Climate Policy Initiative)

    “...[CPI finds that] a large-scale CSP plant to be built near the city of Ouarzazate in Morocco…[has technology costs for CSP below] the USD 6000/KW mark where they have been stuck since the ‘90s…Indeed, for Ouarzazate I CSP, CPI estimates an overall unit-cost (including financing, contingencies and the expensive storage facility) of approximately USD 5,300/kW — more than 10% lower than initial projections. This means that the plant is among the cheapest ones to have been financed in the last three years…” click here for more

    UK WIND GROWTH TO SLOW THROUGH 2030

    Mixed messages in delivery plan could harm development of offshore industry and cost thousands of jobs

    17 July 2013 (RenewableUK)

    “…[RenewableUK] expressed concern about the 2030 scenarios outlined in [the Consultation on the draft Electricity Market Reform Delivery Plan]…[Most scenarios] see only a very limited role for development of wind during the 2020s. Based on predicted capacity by 2020 - in all but the high offshore wind scenario - the Government envisages very little additional capacity of both onshore and offshore wind. In some scenarios Government is predicting less wind energy than its existing high end estimate in 2020…” click here for more

    ITALIAN UTILITY TO TAKE GEOTHERMAL GLOBAL

    Geothermal Beating Coal Lures Enel From Tuscan Geysers

    Alessandra Miggliacio, July 18, 2013 (Bloomberg News)

    “…[Geothermal in the hill region south of Florence] better known for Chianti wine than high-technology produces enough power for a million people. That’s helped make Italy Europe’s biggest generator from underground heat, the world’s cheapest source of electricity…Enel Green Power SpA (EGPW), which operates the plant, says its experience will give the unit of Italy’s largest utility an edge as it spends 900 million euros ($1.2 billion) in four years to take its technology from Turkey to Peru. Researcher Frost & Sullivan Inc. expects the global market to grow fivefold to $5.89 billion in the seven years through 2017 as governments cut green subsidies and seek alternatives to wind and solar…” click here for more

    Thursday, July 25, 2013

    CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST

    United Church of Christ is first national church group to divest from fossil fuel investments

    July 3, 2013 (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

    “A group of Protestant churches has become the first U.S. religious body to vote to divest its pension funds and investments from fossil fuel companies because of climate change concerns…The United Church of Christ, which traces its origins back to the Pilgrims in 1620 and has about 1.1 million members in 5,100 congregations, voted… to divest in stages over the next five years. But it left open the possibility of keeping some investments if the fossil fuel companies meet certain standards…” click here for more

    U.S. OFFSHORE WIND COMING ON

    Offshore Wind Energy: The Coming Sea Change?

    Matt Huelsenbeck, July 16, 2013 (Yahoo News)

    "…[I]t's clear the United States needs to look for alternative and cleaner sources of energy. Offshore wind energy is one such source that, although in early developmental stages in the United States, could offer hope for a future of energy independence and a clean energy economy…The first U.S. offshore wind turbine was recently deployed off the coast of Maine. This pilot project uses a floating platform with a small wind turbine attached to a tower, marking a small, but significant step…[Offshore] winds are stronger and steadier than onshore winds. And offshore winds are strongest during the day as well as in heat waves, when the demand for energy is highest. In fact, the East Coast of the United States has been dubbed the "Saudi Arabia" of offshore wind, since there is enough wind energy off this coast to provide the entire country with electricity…” click here for more

    COLORS OF THE SUN

    Solar Panels for Fashionistas

    David Akst, July 19, 2013 (Wall Street Journal)

    “…[S]cientists in Germany have patented low-cost techniques that will allow a solar panel as small as 6 inches square to display multiple colors, including blue, gold, green and red…That could make solar panels much more appealing for buildings but also for electronic billboards capable of generating their own electricity so that they light up at night—or for getting the name of an environmentally conscious company up in lights atop its own solar-clad headquarters…” click here for more

    COLO CAPITAL BLDG ADDS GEOTHERMAL HEATING-COOLING

    CO State Capitol Is First To Boast Geothermal Heating & Cooling

    Beth Buczynski, July 24, 2013 (EarthTechling)

    “Colorado will be the first state capitol in the country to power all heating and cooling with geothermal energy…The open-loop geothermal system taps into the Arapahoe Aquifer, which sits more than 850 feet underground and is a consistent 65 degrees. This system, recently brought online, is expected to save the 119 year-old building $100,000 in heating and cooling costs in the first year alone…To install the system, Chevron Energy Solutions drilled an 865-foot well under the state capitol, and ran a pipe into the Arapahoe aquifers below. Unlike a closed-loop system, an open-loop geothermal system is connected directly to a ground water source such as a well or pond and directly pumps the water into a building to the pump unit where it is used for heating and cooling. Open loop systems require access to a substantial water source, but are more cost effective…” click here for more

    Wednesday, July 24, 2013

    TODAY’S STUDY: ENERGY, WATER AND CLIMATE CHANGE

    Water-Smart Power Strengthening the U.S. Electricity System in a Warming World; A Report of the Energy and Water in a Warming World Initiative

    July 2013 (Union of Concerned Scientists)

    Executive Summary

    The heat waves and drought that hit the United States in 2011 and 2012 shined a harsh light on the vulnerability of the U.S. electricity sector to extreme weather. During the historic 2011 drought in Texas, power plant operators trucked in water from miles away to keep the plants running, and disputes deepened between cities and utilities seeking to construct new water-intensive coal plants. In 2012, heat and drought forced power plants, from the Gallatin coal plant in Tennessee to the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant on the Connecticut River, to reduce their output or shut down altogether. That summer, amid low water levels and soaring water temperatures, operators of other plants—at least seven coal and nuclear plants in the Midwest alone—received permission to discharge even hotter cooling water, to enable the plants to keep generating. These consecutive summers alone revealed water-related electricity risks across the country.

    The power sector has historically placed large demands on both our air and water. In 2011, electricity generation accounted for one-third of U.S. heattrapping emissions, the drivers of climate change.

    Power plants also accounted for more than 40 percent of U.S. freshwater withdrawals in 2005, and are one of the largest “consumers” of freshwater—losing water through evaporation during the cooling process—outside the agricultural sector.

    The electricity system our nation built over the second half of the twentieth century helped fuel the growth of the U.S. economy and improve the quality of life of many Americans. Yet we built that system before fully appreciating the reality and risks of climate change, and before converging pressures created the strain on local water resources we see today in many places. This system clearly cannot meet our needs in a future of growing demand for electricity, worsening strains on water resources, and an urgent need to mitigate climate change.

    We can, however, use fuel and technology options available now to design an electricity future that begins to shed some of these risks. We can also expand our options by making strategic investments in energy and cooling technologies. The key is to understand what a low-carbon, “water-smart” electricity future looks like—which electric sector decisions best prepare us to avoid and minimize energy-water collisions, and to cope with those we cannot avoid—and to make decisions that will set and keep us on that path.

    This report is the second from the Energy and Water in a Warming World Initiative (EW3), organized by the Union of Concerned Scientists to focus on the water implications of U.S. electricity choices. The first, Freshwater Use by U.S. Power Plants, documented the energy-water collisions already occurring because of the dependence of U.S. power plants on water. In that research, we found that past choices on fuel and cooling technologies in the power sector are contributing to water stress in many areas of the country.

    Like the first report, this one stems from a collaboration among experts from universities, government, and the nonprofit sector. Water-Smart Power reflects comprehensive new research on the water implications of electricity choices in the United States under a range of pathways, at national, regional, and local levels. The report aims to provide critical information to inform decisions on U.S. power plants and the electricity supply, and motivate choices that safeguard water resources, reduce carbon emissions, and provide reliable power at a reasonable price—even in the context of a changing climate and pressure on water resources.

    The Challenges We Face

    Our examination of today’s electricity-water landscape reveals prominent challenges:

    • Energy-water collisions are happening now. Because of its outsized water dependence, the U.S. electricity sector is running into and exacerbating growing water constraints in many parts of the country. The reliance of many power plants on lakes, rivers, and groundwater for cooling water can exert heavy pressure on those sources and leave the plants vulnerable to energy-water collisions, particularly during drought or hot weather. When plants cannot get enough cooling water, for example, they must cut back or completely shut down their generators, as happened repeatedly in 2012 at plants around the country.

    • As the contest for water heats up, the power sector is no guaranteed winner. When the water supply has been tight, power plant operators have often secured the water they need. In the summer of 2012, for example, amid soaring temperatures in the Midwest and multiple large fish kills, a handful of power plant operators received permission to discharge exceptionally hot water rather than reduce power output. However, some users are pushing back against the power sector’s dominant stake. In Utah, for example, a proposal to build a 3,000-megawatt nuclear power plant fueled grave concerns about the impact of the plant’s water use. And in Texas, regulators denied developers of a proposed 1,320-megawatt coal plant a permit to withdraw 8.3 billion gallons (25,000 acre-feet) of water annually from the state’s Lower Colorado River.

    • Climate change complicates matters. Energywater collisions are poised to worsen in a warming world as the power sector helps drive climate change, which in turn affects water availability and quality. Climate change is already constraining or altering the water supply in many regions by changing the hydrology. In the Southwest, for example, where the population is growing rapidly and water supply is typically tight, much of the surface water on which many water users depend is declining. Scientists expect rising average temperatures, more extreme heat, and more intense droughts in many regions, along with reductions in water availability.

    These conditions—heightened competition for water and more hydrologic variability—are not what our power sector was built to withstand. However, to be resilient, it must adjust to them.

    Change Is Under Way

    Building an electricity system that can meet the challenges of the twenty-first century is a considerable task. Not only is the needed technology commercially available now, but a transition is also under way that is creating opportunities for real system-wide change:

    • The U.S. power sector is undergoing rapid transformation. The biggest shift in capacity and fuel in half a century is under way, as electricity from coal plants shrinks and power from natural gas and renewables grows. Several factors are spurring this transition to a new mix of technologies and fuels. They include the advanced age of many power plants, expanding domestic gas supplies and low natural gas prices, state renewable energy and efficiency policies, new federal air-quality regulations, and the relative costs and risks of coal-fired and nuclear energy.

    • This presents an opportunity we cannot afford to miss. Decisions about which power plants to retrofit or retire and which kind to build have both near-term and long-term implications, given the long lifetimes of power plants, their carbon emissions, and their water needs. Even a single average new coal plant could emit 150 million tons of carbon dioxide over 40 years—twice as much as a natural gas plant, and more than 20 million cars emit each year. Power plants that need cooling water will be at risk over their long lifetimes from declining water availability and rising water temperatures stemming from climate change, extreme weather events, and competition from other users. And power plants, in turn, will exacerbate the water risks of other users.

    Decisions in the Power Sector Matter

    Choices, however, are important only if they lead to different outcomes. To analyze the impact of various options for our electricity future on water withdrawals and consumption, carbon emissions, and power prices, under this new research we focused on several key scenarios. These included “business as usual” and three scenarios based on a strict carbon budget—to address the power sector’s contributions to global warming. Two of those three scenarios assumed the use of specific technologies to make those significant cuts in carbon emissions.

    To explore the outcomes of these scenarios we used two models: the Regional Energy Deployment System (ReEDS) and the Water Evaluation and Planning (WEAP) system. With these two models and our set of scenarios, we analyzed the implications of water use in the power sector under different electricity pathways for the entire nation, for various regions, and for individual river basins in the southwestern and southeastern United States.

    Our distinctive approach and new research—along with previous work—shows that our electricity choices will have major consequences over the coming decades, especially in water-stressed regions. Through this research, we have learned that:

    • Business as usual in the power sector would fail to reduce carbon emissions, and would not tap opportunities to safeguard water. Because such a pathway for meeting future electricity needs would not cut carbon emissions, it would do nothing to address the impact of climate change on water. Changes in the power plant fleet would mean that water withdrawals by power plants would drop, yet plants’ water consumption would not decline for decades, and then only slowly. The harmful effects of power plants on water temperatures in lakes and rivers might continue unabated, or even worsen. Greater extraction of fossil fuels for power plants would also affect water use and quality.

    • Low-carbon pathways can be water-smart. A pathway focused on renewable energy and energy efficiency, we found, could deeply cut both carbon emissions and water effects from the power sector. Water withdrawals would drop 97 percent by 2050—much more than under business as usual. They would also drop faster, with 2030 withdrawals only half those under business as usual. And water consumption would decline 85 percent by 2050.

    This pathway could also curb local increases in water temperature from a warming climate. Meanwhile lower carbon emissions would help slow the pace and reduce the severity of climate change, including its long-term effects on water quantity and quality.

    • However, low-carbon power is not necessarily water-smart. The menu of technologies qualifying as low-carbon is long, and includes some with substantial water needs. electricity mixes that emphasize carbon capture and storage for coal plants, nuclear energy, or even water-cooled renewables such as some geothermal, biomass, or concentrating solar could worsen rather than lessen the sector’s effects on water.

    • Renewables and energy efficiency can be a winning combination. This scenario would be most effective in reducing carbon emissions, pressure on water resources, and electricity bills. Energy efficiency efforts could more than meet growth in demand for electricity, and renewable energy could supply 80 percent of the remaining demand.

    Although other low-carbon paths could rival this one in cutting water withdrawals and consumption, it would edge ahead in reducing groundwater use in the Southwest, improving river flows in the Southeast, and moderating high river temperatures.

    This scenario could also provide the lowest costs to consumers, with consumer electricity bills almost one-third lower than under business as usual.toward a Water-smart Energy Future Water-smart energy decision making depends on understanding and effectively navigating the electricity-waterclimate nexus, and applying best practices in decision making:

    • We can make decisions now to reduce water and climate risk. Fuel and technology options already available mean we can design an electricity system with far lower water and climate risks. These include prioritizing low-carbon, water-smart options such as renewable energy and energy efficiency, upgrading power plant cooling systems with those that ease water stress, and matching cooling needs with the most appropriate water sources.

    • Electricity decisions should meet water-smart criteria. These criteria can point decision makers to options that reduce carbon emissions and exposure to water-related risks, make sense locally, and are cost-effective.

    • Actors in many sectors have essential roles to play. No single platform exists for sound, long-term decisions at the nexus of electricity and water, but those made in isolation will serve neither sector. Instead, actors across sectors and scales need to engage. For example: plant owners can prioritize low-carbon options that are water-appropriate for the local environment. Legislators can empower energy regulators to take carbon and water into account. Consumer groups can ensure that utilities do not simply pass on to ratepayers the costs of risky, water-intensive plants. Investors in utilities can demand information on water-related risks and seek low-carbon, water-smart options. Researchers can analyze future climate and water conditions and extremes, allowing planners to consider lowprobability but high-impact events. And scientists and engineers can improve the efficiency and reduce the cost of low-water energy options.

    Understanding and addressing the water impact of our electricity choices is urgent business. Because most power sector decisions are long-lived, what we do in the near term commits us to risks or resiliencies for decades. We can untangle the production of electricity from the water supply, and we can build an electricity system that produces no carbon emissions. But we cannot wait, nor do either in isolation, without compromising both. For our climate—and for a secure supply of water and power—we must get this right.