NewEnergyNews: 02/01/2014 - 03/01/2014

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

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-When Countries Will Be Uninhabitable (From The Onion)
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-China Solar Dominance Based On State-Backed Loans
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-The Big Storage That Can Make Aussies 100% New Energy
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-South Africa’s Power System Is Ready For New Energy
  • THE DAY BEFORE

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

  • TTTA Thursday-$20 MIL To Climate Fight From DiCaprio Fund
  • TTTA Thursday-Solar Energy Price Drop At Full Speed
  • TTTA Thursday-Wind Art Turns Climate Change Fighter
  • TTTA Thursday-When Self-Driving EVs Will Take Over
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Is 100% renewable energy the best goal to cut power sector emissions?
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Have California's efforts to value distributed resources hit a roadblock?
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • TODAY’S STUDY: The Truth About The Transmission New Energy Needs
  • QUICK NEWS, September 19: All About Climate Change In 17 Short Answers; New Energy Ready To Step Up; How Old Energy Attacks Solar
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • TODAY’S STUDY: The Private Sector Gets Into The New Energy Biz
  • QUICK NEWS, September 18: The Key Climate Change Unknown; Beer Brewer Anheuser-Busch In Big Wind Buy; Montana Grew Solar 400% In 2016
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • Weekend Video: A Bill Maher Debate About The Climate
  • Weekend Video: Sweet Winds
  • Weekend Video: This Is Not Natural
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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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  • WEEKEND VIDEOS, September 23-24:

  • The Daily Show On Eclipses And Climate Change
  • The President Plays A Plays Fossil Fool
  • The Age Of New Energy Storage Is At Hand

    Friday, February 28, 2014

    GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE IN SIMPLER, MORE CERTAIN TERMS

    Scientists More Certain Than Ever on Climate Change, Report Says

    John Roach, (NBC News)

    “Experts are more certain than ever that human activity is changing the global climate, even though they don't fully understand every detail of the climate system, according to Climate Change: Evidence and Causes from] two of the world's leading scientific bodies…[The] U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the United Kingdom's Royal Society [want] to move the climate change debate beyond humans' role in global warming to a discussion of how to limit the impacts…[of the 40 percent increase in CO2 emissions since 1880 to levels] higher than at any time in at least 800,000 years…[Global temperatures are]1.4 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than in 1900…Arctic sea ice is shrinking, sea levels are 8 inches higher, ocean acidity is on the rise, and the geographical ranges of many plants and animals are shifting…[though] due to the nature of science, not every single detail is ever totally settled or completely certain…[T]he document describes available options, ranging from doing nothing and accepting the ‘losses, damage and suffering that arise,’ to a change in energy production and usage to limit greenhouse gas emissions or ‘geoengineering’ of the climate…” click here for more

    MORE PV AND SMALLER, ALL AROUND THE WORLD

    Solar Farms up to Five Megawatts in Size Drive 95 GW Project Pipeline in Leading PV Countries…Leading solar PV countries offer suppliers and developers a choice of 4,300 PV projects

    February 18, 2014 SolarBuzz)

    “Solar photovoltaic (PV) projects between 250 kilowatts (kW) and five megawatts (MW) now account for almost half of the yet-to-be-completed 4,300 commercial and utility projects within the leading PV countries, according to [NPD Solarbuzz]…The leading countries for solar PV demand now include five major countries in the Asia-Pacific region (i.e., China, Japan, India, Thailand, and Australia), four European countries (i.e., Germany, U.K., Italy, and France) and North America (i.e., United States and Canada). Collectively, these end-markets are expected to provide more than 80% of global solar PV demand during the next five years…The total project pipeline for the leading solar PV countries has reached almost 95 gigawatts (GW), with the largest projects, in excess of 50 MW, making up 68% of the total capacity on offer, although there are currently less than 500 such projects in the pipeline…” click here for more

    IRELAND LOOKS AT 40 NEW WIND FARMS, 1,000 MORE TURBINES

    Scope for up to 1,000 wind turbines in midlands, says Bord na Móna; Wind speeds give Ireland a major competitive advantage…

    Colm Keena, February 19. 2014 (The Irish Times)

    “There is scope for up to 1,000 wind turbines to be constructed in the midlands…[with] wind speeds that are] the envy of other European countries and [give] Ireland a major competitive advantage…The project envisages developing 40 wind farms on 20,000 hectares of land in the midlands, with a view to exporting the energy to the UK via links to north and south Wales…All of the cabling linking the turbines to the connectors with Wales would be underground…The project would involve a 25-year, €250 million community benefit programme…[P]eople living near the turbines [might get help] making their homes more energy efficient, and perhaps support for their electricity bills…Community groups might also receive assistance with capital projects and other issues…” click here for more

    CHINA TO BUILD WORLD’S BIGGEST EV CHARGER NETWORK

    BDNT cooperates with ABB to roll out world’s largest EV fast charger network in China; Shenzhen BYD Daimler New Technology Co., Ltd. chooses ABB to supply direct current (DC) fast chargers for rapid charging of new DENZA electric vehicle over the next six years

    February 13, 2014 (ABB)

    “…[ABB and Shenzhen BYD Daimler New Technology Co., Ltd. (BDNT) will]…supply direct current fast chargers over the next six years for DENZA…[and make China] the global leader for electric vehicle (EV) fast charging…The wall-mounted chargers will have a number of innovations designed for user convenience and safety, such as a mobile app that allows remote monitoring and control of charging sessions, with the option of charging status change notifications. First deliveries are expected in mid- 2014. The charging solution will be sold through DENZA dealerships along with the vehicle…EVs are one of China’s seven emerging strategic industries. ABB and DENZA will work together to help support China’s efforts…The Chinese government has introduced a direct current (DC) fast charging ‘GBT’ standard to encourage technical innovation and stimulate market acceptance of EVs. The urban charging infrastructure will be a key driver for EV adoption. The GBT standard will give Chinese consumers the opportunity to conveniently charge their vehicles at home or at public charging stations…China’s EV market is expected to quickly gain momentum in the coming years…” click here for more

    Thursday, February 27, 2014

    A MAP OF WHAT CLIMATE CHANGE COULD DROWN

    Stunning Map Shows What A Worst Case Climate Change Scenario Might Look Like

    Paul Szoldra, February 25, 2014 (Business Insider)

    "…[97% of] scientists agree that global climate change is likely caused by humans, and the impact on the environment can come in a variety of ways…Since the change occurs slowly, it's hard to imagine rising temperatures, warmer oceans, extreme weather, and rising sea levels…[Amateur graphic designer Martin Vargic’s map]…shows how entire countries could end up being redefined if nothing is done…[It] depicts the planet without the polar ice caps — bringing a major rise in sea levels that would envelope shorelines and regions near sea level…[Recent studies show] there is enough ice in Earth's polar caps to cause about 250-300 ft(80 - 100 m) rise of the sea level…More than 75% of the world's population lives below 300 ft above the sea level, including the vast majority of all large metropolitan areas…” click here for more

    BIG MONEY BUYING NEW ENERGY

    Shaw Joins KKR Buying Cleaner Energy Rivals Won’t Touch

    Justin Doom, February 18, 2014 (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

    "Hedge funds and private equity firms from D.E. Shaw & Co. to KKR & Co.(KKR:US) are ramping up their investments in renewable energy projects…D.E. Shaw, the $30 billion hedge fund manager, bought stakes in five California solar plants in July and is co-developing a wind farm off Rhode Island’s coast. KKR has completed five clean-energy deals in three years, and Altus Power America Management LLC announced a joint venture Feb. 4 to develop $150 million of commercial solar projects. What’s driving this are projections of stable yields of 8 percent to 10 percent in the next few years -- better than most corporate bonds. Wind farms and industrial-scale solar plants typically have decades-long deals, known as power-purchase agreements, to sell electricity to utilities…[can provide] a steady income stream comparable to high-quality corporate bonds…” click here for more

    HOW THE U.S. IS CUTTING ITS ELECTRICITY BILL

    U.S. Electricity Use is Declining and Energy Efficiency May be a Significant Factor

    Steven Nadel, February 25, 2014 (American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy)

    "U.S. electricity sales peaked in 2007 and have been declining modestly since then. Sales in 2012 were 1.9% lower than 2007 sales, and sales in the first ten months of 2013 are below the same period in 2012. While the economic recession is an obvious explanation for the decline in sales in 2008 and 2009, it is much less clear why sales have continued to decline…While some observers have attributed this stalled growth to the ongoing effects of the “Great Recession,” other observers suggest other factors may have played a role…[ACEEE’s analysis of] electricity-use trends since 1993…found that no single factor can explain the change in electricity use over the 1993-2012 period…Over the more recent period of 2007-2012, savings resulting from energy efficiency programs and policies, and from warmer winter weather, appear to be the most important contributors…” click here for more

    THE COMING REVOLUTION IN WIRELESS EV CHARGING

    Wireless Charging Systems for Electric Vehicles

    1Q 2014 (Navigant Research)

    "Until recently, the prospects for wireless electric vehicle (EV) charging appeared limited, if a market developed at all. That has changed in the last 12 months. It is now clear that several major automakers are planning to bring wireless systems to market within the next few years, and a significant portion of the industry believes that wireless technology represents the future of plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) charging…As of early 2014, there is only one commercial wireless charging system available for PEVs, an aftermarket system offered by Evatran and Bosch, and it is only available in North America…By 2015-2016, however, models with built-in wireless charging capability will be available from several major automakers…Navigant Research forecasts that wireless charging equipment for light duty vehicles will grow by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 108% from 2013 to 2022, reaching annual sales of slightly less than 302,000 units in 2022…” click here for more

    Wednesday, February 26, 2014

    TODAY’S STUDY: U.S. NEW ENERGY NOW – THE FACTS

    Sustainable Energy In America; 2014 Factbook

    February 2014 (Bloomberg New Energy Finance)

    Executive Summary

    A revolution is transforming how the US produces, delivers, and consumes energy. The mix of supply is changing rapidly, with low-carbon sources gaining share, while consumption is declining, despite overall economic growth.

    The Sustainable Energy in America Factbook provides a detailed look at the state of US energy and the role that a range of new technologies are playing in reshaping the industry. First published in January 2013, the Factbook is researched and produced by Bloomberg New Energy Finance and commissioned by the Business Council for Sustainable Energy. This represents the second edition of the Factbook.

    In some cases, developments in 2013 cemented trends depicted in the first report. New technologies – such as techniques for extracting natural gas from shale and vehicles fueled by electricity – continue to gain traction. New investment dollars continue to find opportunities – such as residential solar installations on residences and commercial building energy efficiency improvements – that profitably enable this transformation. For some sectors, such as distributed generation and storage, policy continues evolving to accommodate changing conditions or accelerate these changes.

    In other cases, 2013 marked a departure. Total energy consumed (up relative to 2012), the amount of emissions associated with that energy consumption (up), the portion of electricity generation from coal (up), and the amount of new investment into renewable energy (down) all bucked longer-term trends. The Factbook explains these changes and highlights why some likely are temporary deviations while others could represent a new trajectory for at least the next several years.

    The goal of the Factbook remains the same: to offer simple, accurate benchmarks on the status and contributions of new sustainable energy technologies.

    Key findings

    The long-term transformation of how the US produces and consumes energy continues…

    ● The country’s total annual energy consumption in 2013 was 5.0% below 2007 levels, thanks to advances in energy efficiency. This long-term trend was in part prompted by the economic downturn of 2008-09, but as economic growth has returned energy use has not grown at a commensurate rate. The net result is a far more energy-efficient economy.

    ● Over that same period (2007-13), use of lower- and zero-carbon energy sources has grown, while other major energy sources such as coal and oil have experienced significant declines. Natural gas production and consumption hit all-time highs in 2013, and natural gas-fired power plants provided 28% of US electricity in 2013, up from just 22% in 2007. Renewable electricity generation, including power from large hydro projects, grew from 8.3% to 12.9% over that period. Since 1997, 94% of new power capacity built in the US has come in the form of natural gas plants or renewable energy facilities.

    ● Transportation is being revolutionized by new policies, technologies, and fuels. Federal corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards for cars are set to double by 2025, relative to 2011 levels. Sales of hybrids and plug-in electric vehicles are rising and totalled nearly 600,000 vehicles in 2013 (3.8% of US passenger vehicle sales). Natural gas use in the transport sector is up 33% since 2007. These developments, along with a growing role for biofuels, have driven gasoline consumption down 7.7% since 2005.

    ● These trends have combined to put US CO2 emissions on a long-term downward trajectory. In 2009, President Obama announced a goal of achieving a 17% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2020 relative to 2005 levels. With total GHG emissions having peaked in 2007 at 7.26Gt and having dropped by an estimated 9.8% since 2005, the US is now more than halfway to its goal.

    …but there were some noteworthy detours in 2013…

    ● Energy consumption inched up by 1.4% in 2013 after having declined by 6.3% over the 2007-12 period – but nevertheless likely grew at a slower rate than GDP.

    ● Total new renewable energy capacity additions stalled with just 5.4GW installed in 2013 compared with 18GW in 2012. New investment of $48.4bn was well off the all-time high of $68.5bn in 2011. Still, a record volume of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity was added in 2013, including 2GW of utility-scale solar and an equal amount of small-scale installations, and 2014 is forecast to be a stronger year for the two largest renewable energy sub-sectors, solar and wind.

    ● Natural gas’s contribution to the US electricity mix dropped in 2013 from 2012 levels and coal generation rebounded slightly. Natural gas prices rose from historic lows seen in 2012, allowing coal to be somewhat more cost-competitive. Natural gas accounted for 28% of 2013 generation, down from 31% in 2012. Other natural gas-consuming sectors, though, all saw increased use in 2013, resulting in 2013 natural gas consumption topping 2012 levels.

    …and some major new developments sure to impact sustainable energy growth going forward.

    ● The Obama administration demonstrated renewed commitment to addressing climate change. In his first term, the President ardently supported research, development, and deployment of low-carbon energy technologies, but rarely cited climate as the rationale behind his policy decisions. In June 2013, he announced his intention to address GHG emissions domestically and internationally – with or without Congressional support. Standards for new-build coal plants as drafted by the Environmental Protection Agency would effectively bar new coal without carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. Standards for existing coal plants, due in mid-2014, could require facilities to install expensive technologies to reduce ‘criteria pollutants’ (eg, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury). Though they face legal challenges and hang regulatory uncertainty over the US electricity sector, the proposed policies are already playing a role in the transformation underway: more than 40GW of coal plants have either already been retired or announced plans to do so since 2011 (due to the policies, as well as old age and thinning margins).

    ● Natural gas continued its remarkable boom. The emergence of new technologies has enabled the commercially viable extraction of unconventional natural gas resources including shale – a domestic, abundant, fuel. Production continues to be strong, although the rate of growth of production has slowed compared with recent years as prices have softened and as producers have increased focus on oil- and liquid-rich plays. Investments by the upstream portion of the industry – exploration and production – have been on a steep upward trend; and investments in the midstream portion – including storage capacity and pipelines that connect supply basins and storage to centers of demand – totalled $15bn in 2012.

    ● Demand for gas reached an all-time high in 2013 and is on pace to rise further in 2014. Natural gas demand grew by more than 3Bcfd in 2011-12, and grew yet again by 0.8Bcfd in 2013. Low prices have made it the fuel of choice for new power plant build, spurred fuel-switching for homes and businesses, and captured the attention of fuel-hungry transport industries. It has led companies to seek permission to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) and piqued the interests of energy-intensive industrial consumers. Since 2010, there have been 10 restarts or expansions of industrial plants in the US across the gas-intensive ammonia, methanol, and ethylene sectors, including six in 2013, and there are many new-build industrial plants planned for 2015 and beyond.

    ● Renewable electricity generation costs touched all-time lows allowing renewable in some locations to underprice fossil-fueled competitors. Prices of solar modules have declined by 99% since 1976 and by about 80% since 2008. Total system costs for global, best-in-class utility-scale solar installations are now $1.55/W and expected to continue falling. As a result, power-purchase agreements (PPAs) for projects that are expected to be completed around 2016 have featured prices below $70/MWh. The results for wind have been even more startling; utilities in Texas, the Southwest, and the Midwest signed PPAs in the $20-35/MWh range for wind projects that are coming online in the 2014-15 period; these prices are well below the levelized cost of electricity of thermal technologies (eg, low $60s for natural gas). The benefits of these economics, which are made possible with the support of tax credits, can flow to the consumer; a Michigan utility recently announced that it is lowering customers’ electricity rates by 6.5% in 2014, citing low-cost wind as one of the major factors.

    ● US renewable energy investment showed it remains highly responsive to policy. Record-high investment in 2011 in renewable and energy efficiency-related technologies was an outcome of the 2009 federal stimulus package, but those programs are mostly finished. Investment in 2013 was hit hard by uncertainty that lingered throughout 2012 over the fate of an important incentive for renewables, the Production Tax Credit (PTC). Though the PTC was renewed at the beginning of 2013, it has taken a while for project developers to reconstitute their pipelines and refresh the wave of financing activity. Furthermore, since different technologies have different lead times, some sectors see quicker responses to policy changes in terms of financing and deployment levels. A bright spot for renewable energy investment was PV, which enjoys longer-term policy certainty; its chief federal incentive, the Investment Tax Credit, is on the books through 2016. In terms of actual legislative activity in 2013, most efforts stalled, with the exception of two bills focused on streamlining hydropower projects.

    ● Energy efficiency policy is maturing, and investments are ramping up, to the benefit of buildings and industries. As of 2013, 26 states had energy efficiency resource standards (EERS); 31 states, covering 77% of the US population, had legislation enabling energy efficiency deployment to be paid through property tax bills, or PACE (although PACE financing is not yet available in most of these states); and 7% of US commercial sector floor space was covered under policies requiring buildings to achieve energy efficiency benchmarks or mandating disclosure of energy consumption. Energy efficiency financing (not captured in Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s numbers) across two major frameworks – utility spending to comply with resource standards and energy service companies’ (ESCOs) investments – has been on an upward trend and amounted to more than $12bn in 2012. Energy intensity in key industrial sectors has been falling; while manufacturing industrial output decreased by 3% over 2002-10, energy consumption fell by 17%. For buildings, meanwhile, electricity intensity has increased, likely owing to an increase in the number of electricity-consuming appliances within modern buildings. Yet the rate of Energy Star certification has accelerated since the mid-2000s to the point that over 3bn square feet of floor space is now covered.

    ● Distributed generation emerged as a transformative phenomenon – if not yet in substance, then as a foreshadower of what’s to come. Most of the country’s electricity continues to come from large-scale, centralized power plants. Distributed generation sources have a relatively modest presence by comparison; small-scale PV, for example, accounts for less than 1% of electricity sales in all states save for Hawaii. But the total addressable market is gigantic, and the category is attracting investors; from 2008 to 2013, third-party solar financiers raised $6.7bn to install systems. The rise of distributed generation is ushering into the US power industry new players and new business models, and testing the durability of old ones. The stakes are high, as evidenced by the intense regulatory battles that played out across the country in 2013 over the relative costs and benefits of distributed PV. Other distributed technologies are also seeing momentum. Combined heat and power, which makes up 8% of US generating capacity, saw 870MW installed in 2012 and potentially more in 2013. Increased attention to energy resilience, along with improved economics and favorable policy, have led to a growing interest in microgrids – small versions of power systems that can combine various technologies, such as distributed solar, storage, CHP, diesel back-up, fuel cells, and smart grid systems – to meet a local electric load.

    ● The need for flexibility in how electricity distribution is managed to ensure grid reliability is becoming more apparent. Ensuring ongoing reliability will become an even tougher challenge for electricity market operators and regulators, given the diminished role for coal and the increased presence of variable resources (ie, variable renewables). Yet other changes afoot – including reduced electricity demand through energy efficiency and a growing role for dispatchable resources such as natural gas plants, hydropower, and demand response (now a 28GW-sized market) – can help the electricity industry meet this challenge. Policy may need to adjust, however, as most market structures do not yet fully recognize the benefits of some of the technologies offering increased flexibility, such as energy storage.

    ● The age of intelligent homes and a more intelligent grid is on the horizon. Some 53m smart meters have been deployed in the US, though the pace of deployment is slowing as stimulus spending is largely exhausted, and untapped market potential is shrinking. Other investment areas in the smart grid industry include distribution automation, home area networks, and smart grid analytics software. Investments in distribution automation focus on management of grid assets, improved grid optimization, and fault location, isolation, and restoration. Home area network deployments include in-home displays, smart thermostats, smart appliances and other load control devices. Smart grid data analytics offer utilities the ability to achieve improved customer segmentation, better theft detection and improved program targeting. The smart grid industry also plays a role in infrastructure resilience; smart grid technologies can help a utility more quickly and accurately identify areas with outages or other service issues during and after storms, facilitating the recovery process and allowing utilities to prioritize critical areas.

    ● Other advanced energy technologies have made important progress. Biogas, already used selectively in the power sector, could also have a role to play in transport. Stationary fuel cells (144MW of cumulative capacity) while representing very much a nascent technology, had their strongest year ever for deployment in 2013, thanks in part to grants, credits, or other incentives offered by states. Non-hydropower storage technologies (409MW cumulative) – including batteries, flywheels, and compressed air – are more expensive than pumped hydropower. But their costs have declined markedly in the recent years, and, in specific regions, their business case has been strengthened by state procurement mandates and by policies that call for compensation for frequency regulation. In the case of CCS (12 projects operational), the largest, most advanced project in the US, Mississippi Power Kemper (582MW net), has had a difficult journey but is now approaching completion.

    This long-term transformation has major implications for the US economy, US energy security, and global concerns over climate change

    ● Total US emissions peaked in 2007 and have fallen 9.8% since 2005. Even without a legislated federal carbon reduction policy, the US is more than halfway to its goal of a 17% reduction on emissions by 2020, relative to 2005 levels, due in large part to the contributions of natural gas, renewable energy, and energy efficiency. While 2013 emissions actually ticked up, they are expected to continue to drop over the medium to long term as more coal capacity comes offline and is replaced by lower-carbon alternatives. Whether the 17% cut can be achieved remains an open question.

    ● Participation in this transformation is far from evenly distributed across the country. Texas and Louisiana are among the states that sit on the richest reserves of shale gas while the Marcellus shale in the Northeast has singlehandedly more than offset declines in dry gas production from elsewhere in the US. From 2006 to 2012, over half of all US renewable energy investment occurred in just six states: California, Texas, Iowa, Illinois, Oregon, and Arizona. Installation of renewable energy projects has favored regions with excellent resources, attractive policies, high electricity prices, or, as in the case of California, all three. A scorecard that measures energy efficiency policies across the 50 states shows that states in the Northeast and along the Pacific coast lead the way in terms of strength of policy positions.

    ● Seemingly overnight, the transformation has awakened the prospect of greater energy security, as the US has become more self-reliant. Net energy imports are estimated to have fallen by 15% between 2012 and 2013 and by more than 50% since 2005. October 2013 marked the first month since early 1995 that US crude oil production surpassed imports. Since 2003, US natural gas pipeline exports to Mexico have doubled, and to Canada have more than tripled. This trend at least directionally towards some form of greater energy independence has substantial implications for economic competitiveness and for geopolitics. Policies, infrastructure, and strategies that were designed before this trend took shape may need to be re-examined and perhaps overhauled.

    ● Investors in publicly-traded companies that are a part of this transformation saw share prices appreciate in 2013. After five years of dismal returns for clean energy stocks, shares for many publicly traded clean energy companies surged in 2013, a reflection of greater investor confidence both in the sector and the economy overall. Clean energy indexes across the board saw returns well above market benchmarks. For example, the NEX, a global index of publicly traded companies active in renewables and low-carbon energy, gained 53.9% in 2013, far outpacing gains of 29.6% for the S&P 500, 26.5% for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and 20.3% for the MSCI World & Emerging Markets Index.

    QUICK NEWS, February 26: OFFICIAL ESTIMATES OF U.S. OCEAN WIND IMPACTS; BOOM COMING IN ADVANCED BATTERIES

    99% OF U.S. ENERGY BUILT IN JANUARY WAS NEW ENERGY Renewable Energy Off to a Fast Start In 2014; 99% of New U.S. Electrical Generating Capacity in January from Solar, Geothermal, Wind, Biomass

    Ken Bossong, February 21, 2014 (Sun Day Campaign)

    "…[N]on-hydro renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, solar, wind) accounted for more than 99% of all new domestic electrical generating capacity installed during January 2014 for a total of 324 MW…Solar led the way last month with 13 new ‘units’ totaling 287 MW followed by geothermal steam with three new units totaling 30 MW. Biomass added three new units totaling 3 MW while wind had one new unit with an installed capacity of 4 MW…Renewable energy sources, including hydropower, now account for 16.03% of total installed U.S. operating generating capacity…” click here for more

    OFFICIAL ESTIMATES OF U.S. OCEAN WIND IMPACTS Energy Department, NREL Estimate Economic Impacts of Offshore Wind

    February 2014 (National Renewable Energy Laboratory)

    “Offshore wind is a clean, renewable source of energy and can be an economic driver in the United States. To better understand the employment opportunities and other potential regional economic impacts from offshore wind development, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) funded research that focuses on four regions of the country: Gulf of Mexico, Mid-Atlantic, Great Lakes, and Southeast. The studies use multiple scenarios with various local job and domestic manufacturing content assumptions. Each regional study uses the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL's) new Jobs and Economic Development Impacts (JEDI) model for offshore wind…” click here for more

    BOOM COMING IN ADVANCED BATTERIES Advanced Batteries For Utility-Scale Energy Storage To See Revenue Surge

    February 18, 2014 (Up Front via Renew Grid)

    "Worldwide revenue from advanced batteries for utility-scale energy storage applications will grow from $164 million this year to more than $2.5 billion in 2023, according to a new report by Navigant Research…[E]nergy capacity is expected to grow from 248.1 MWh to 8.5 GWh…[B]atteries have not traditionally been an integral part of the utility grid, primarily due to concerns about cost, safety, durability and efficiency…[But] technological advances in electrochemistry have enabled a new generation of advanced [Lithium ion, flow, sodium-based, and lead-acid] batteries to start playing an important role in grid management…[T]he clear market leader in utility-scale applications of batteries is Li-ion…[including] lithium manganese spinel, lithium iron phosphate, lithium nickel manganese cobalt and lithium titanate…[The] Asia Pacific will experience the highest growth and highest volume of sales…” click here for more

    Tuesday, February 25, 2014

    TODAY’S STUDY: BIG COAL’S TAKE FROM THE TAXPAYER

    Coal Leasing: BLM Could Enhance Appraisal Process, More Explicitly Consider Coal Exports, and Provide More Public Information

    December 2013 (Government Accounting Office)

    What GAO Found

    Since January 1990, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has leased 107 coal tracts, and associated coal production and revenues have grown. Most lease sales have had a single bidder and were leased the first time offered. The amount of coal produced from federal leases and associated revenues have increased since 1990, although production has leveled off since 2002. Revenues from federal coal leases have generated about $1 billion annually in recent years. Royalties paid when coal is sold and bonus bids paid for the right to mine a federal coal tract account for nearly all of these revenues.

    BLM’s guidance offers flexibility in how to estimate fair market value, and BLM state offices vary in the approaches they used to develop an estimate of fair market value. In estimating fair market value, some BLM state offices used both the comparable sales approach––where bonus bids received for past sales are used to value the tract being appraised––and the income approach––which uses estimates of the future net revenue streams from the sale of coal from the appraised tract. However, some offices relied solely on the comparable sales approach and may not be fully considering future market conditions as a result.

    In addition, GAO found that BLM did not consistently document the rationale for accepting bids that were initially below the fair market value presale estimate. Furthermore, some state offices were not following guidance for review of appraisal reports, and no independent review of these reports was taking place. Adequate review of the fair market value process is critical to ensure that its results are sound and key decisions are fully documented. In addition, BLM is not currently taking advantage of a potential independent third-party reviewer with appraisal expertise within the Department of the Interior (Interior), specifically, the Office of Valuation Services.

    BLM considers exports to a limited extent when estimating fair market value and generally does not explicitly consider estimates of the amount of coal that can be mined economically, known as domestic reserve estimates. As a result, BLM may not be factoring specific export information into appraisals or may not be fully considering the export potential of a lease tract’s coal as called for in agency guidance. The Wyoming and Montana BLM state offices considered exports, but they generally included only generic statements about exports in the reports they prepared. In the other seven states with leasing activity, exports were generally not considered during the appraisal process. According to BLM officials, domestic reserve estimates, which vary based on market conditions and the costs to extract the coal, are not considered due to their variable nature.

    BLM generally provides limited information on federal coal lease sales to the public because of the sensitive and proprietary nature of some of this information. The Wyoming BLM state office posts information on its website, including information on past lease sales, but most state office websites provide only general information. BLM’s guidance states that redacted public versions of its appraisal reports should be prepared, but no BLM state office has prepared such reports. BLM supplied redacted versions of fair market value documents in response to a recent public information request only after being advised to do so by Interior’s Solicitor’s office.

    Background

    Coal is an important domestic energy source, and BLM is responsible for managing coal resources on about 570 million acres of federal, state, and private land. Since 1990, all federal coal leasing has taken place through a lease-by-application process where companies propose lease tracts to be put up for sale by BLM. In fiscal year 2012, about 1.05 billion tons of coal was produced in the United States, including production from federal coal leases, and the biggest coal production area for federal coal was the Powder River Basin in northeast Wyoming and southeast Montana. Coal is also an important fuel source worldwide and consumption of coal continues to increase. To meet this growing demand, there has been an increase in global trade of coal, including exports from the United States…

    Since 1990, Over 100 Coal Tracts Have Been Leased, and Coal Production and Associated Revenues Have Generally Grown…BLM’s Implementation of the Fair Market Value Process Lacks Sufficient Rigor and Oversight…BLM Considers Coal Exports to Limited Extent When Estimating Fair Market Value and Does Not Consider Domestic Reserve Estimates Because of Their Variable Nature…BLM Provides Limited Information on Federal Coal Lease Sales to the Public…

    Conclusions

    With about 40 percent of the nation’s coal produced from federal coal lease tracts in recent years, the federal coal leasing program plays an important role in the nation’s energy portfolio. In managing the leasing program, BLM is required to obtain fair market value for coal leases.

    Because there is typically little competition for federal leases, BLM plays a critical role in ensuring that the public receives fair market value for the coal that is leased. However, we found differences across BLM state offices in the approaches they use to estimate fair market value and the rigor of these reports. Moreover, BLM state offices are not documenting the rationale for choosing their approaches for the appraisal process.

    Adequate oversight of the fair market value process is critical to ensuring that its results are sound and properly reviewed. However, BLM’s guidance on the valuation of coal properties is out of date, and officials are not reviewing and signing appraisal reports in accordance with BLM’s guidance. Without a mechanism to ensure consistent reviews by three officials, as specified in the guidance, and independent third-party reviews, appraisal reports may not be receiving the scrutiny they deserve. BLM’s guidance allows for additional information and analyses to be considered as part of the post-sale review process, which could result in a lower revised fair market value estimate and acceptance of bids below the presale fair market value estimate but above the revised estimate.

    The guidance calls for such decisions to be fully justified and that a revised fair market value be clearly documented and reviewed. However, we found instances where BLM’s justification to accept such bids was not adequately documented. Without proper documentation of these decisions, adequate oversight cannot take place, and BLM does not have assurance that accepted bids were in compliance with the Minerals Leasing Act.

    Coal exports make up a small but growing proportion of total U.S. coal production, yet BLM state offices were generally not tracking the export activity for mines on federal leases and were including only generic statements about exports in their appraisal reports, and some state offices were not routinely including export information in appraisal reports.

    Moreover, BLM officials were largely unaware of the various sources of mine-level information about exports, such as the information that EIA collects and the information collected by private companies. By not tracking and considering all available export information, BLM may not be factoring specific export information into appraisals for lease tracts that are adjacent to mines currently exporting coal or keeping abreast of emerging trends in this area.

    BLM state offices are not following agency guidance because they have not prepared public versions of appraisal reports, and there is a lack of agreement within the agency on the extent and type of information related to the estimation of fair market value to be shared in response to public requests. Without updated guidance and a consensus, there may continue to be a disconnect between BLM’s guidance and its standard practice of not releasing this information publicly. Finally, BLM provides little summary information on its websites on past lease sales or links to sale-related documents. Having additional information online could increase the transparency of federal coal leasing program.

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    We are recommending that the Secretary of the Interior direct the Director of the Bureau of Land Management to take the following eight actions: To ensure that appraisal reports reflect future trends in coal markets, BLM should revise its guidance to have state offices use both comparable sales and income approaches to estimate fair market value where practicable. Where it is not practicable to do so, the rationale should be documented in the appraisal report.

    To ensure that appraisal reports receive the scrutiny they deserve and are reviewed by specified officials, BLM should take the following actions:

    • update its guidance so that it reflects the current titles of officials who should review appraisal reports;

    • develop a mechanism to ensure that state offices are reviewing and signing appraisal reports consistent with the guidance;

    • develop a process for independent review of appraisal reports and work with the Office of Valuation Service to determine its role, if any, in this process.

    To ensure that all accepted bids comply with the Minerals Leasing Act by meeting or exceeding BLM’s estimate of fair market value, BLM should update its guidance to specify the documentation needed for post-sale analyses in instances where a decision is made to revise the fair market value estimate and accept a bonus bid that was below the presale estimate of fair market value but above the revised estimate. Such documentation for postsale analyses should include the revised estimate of fair market value, the rationale for this revision, and review of this decision by appropriate officials.

    To ensure that appraisal reports reflect the current state of export activity for mines on federal leases, BLM headquarters should develop guidance on how to consider exports as part of the appraisal process and identify potential sources of information on coal exports that state offices should use when conducting appraisals.

    To eliminate the disconnect between its guidance and BLM state offices’ practice of not releasing appraisal documents to the public, BLM headquarters, state office officials, and Interior’s Office of the Solicitor should come to agreement on the extent and type of information related to the estimation of fair market value that should be shared in response to public requests for this information and make sure that its guidance reflects this consensus.

    To make electronic information on the coal leasing program more accessible to the public, BLM should provide summary information on its websites on results of past lease sales (e.g., amount of coal offered, coal quality, bonus bids received ) and status of any upcoming coal lease sales along with links to sale-related documents.

    QUICK NEWS, February 25: THE PLAN FOR 100% NEW ENERGY; THE PROMISE AND UNCERTAINTY OF WIND’S 2014; THE FUTURE OF THIN FILM SOLAR

    THE PLAN FOR 100% NEW ENERGY The Plan To Power The US With 100 Percent Clean Energy Is Almost All Wind

    February 19, 2014 (MotherBoard)

    "If the United States wanted to get 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2050, there's an actual, feasible plan it could follow…[according to Stanford University scientist Mark Z Jacobson’s… detailed proposal…In short, the plan is full of wind. And water. And sun. But mostly wind…Clean coal, nuclear power, natural gas and anything utilizing food products like corn and soy are conspicuously absent…Wind, solar or power generated by water means are not only clean, but don’t require as large of a geographic footprint…Jacobson’s proposal is actually thrifty…[E]ach person would save $3,400 on energy costs because cleaner energy is more efficient and that means you’d have to generate less energy to meet current energy demands…” click here for more

    THE PROMISE AND UNCERTAINTY OF WIND’S 2014 Despite Strong Growth Outlook, U.S. Wind Market Faces Several Risk Factors

    Luke Lewandowski and Dan Shreve, February 20, 2014 (North American Windpower)

    "The wind power industry responded in record fashion to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) 2013 ‘under construction’ deadline for production tax credit (PTC) eligibility…Developers in the U.S. have started construction on 13 GW of wind projects and have contracted 7 GW of firm turbine orders through the end of January 2014…MAKE Consulting estimates nearly 19 GW of wind projects are in active development as a result of these IRS guidelines…[but] is forecasting [only] approximately 16.4 GW of grid-connected capacity from 2014 to 2016 [including nearly 3 GW of hedged projects]…” click here for more

    THE FUTURE OF THIN FILM SOLAR Thin-Film PV is as Simple as ABCD

    Finlay Colville, February 13, 2014 (SolarBuzz)

    "…[T]he thin-film solar sector…needs a different take at the start of 2014…The industry has moved beyond lists of thin-film companies by technology and assigning production…[and] the exotic process flow variants of the past…[A]ll manufacturers of thin-film solar panels are now fitting neatly into four simple groupings, we have labelled as A, B, C, and D…[T]his provides a means to benchmark thin-film companies (not technologies) based upon their solar modus operandi…[T]he four thin-film categories…[are] Volume manufacturing proven, brand premium and sales pipeline assured…[amorphous silicon (a-Si)] manufacturers located in either China or Taiwan…[A]ll the other a-Si manufacturers…[and] anything else thin-film…[Similar to c-Si issues], it looks like 2015 is going to be the year that thin-film activity once again creates headlines within the PV industry…” click here for more

    Monday, February 24, 2014

    TODAY’S STUDY: THE ACTUAL COST OF NEW ENERGY

    Levelized Cost of Electricity Renewable Energy Technologies Study

    November 2013 (The Frauhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems)

    Summary

    The present study analyzes the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) of renewable energy technologies in the third quarter of 2013. It predicts their future cost development through 2030 based on technology-specific learning curves and market scenarios.

    The main focus is on the LCOE for photovoltaics (PV), wind power and biomass power plants in Germany. As a reference value, the development of the LCOE for new conventional power plants was assessed (brown coal, hard coal, combined cycle gas turbines (CCGT)). Figure 1 shows the calculated LCOE of renewable energy technologies and fossil fuel power plants that were constructed in 2013.

    PV power plants reached LCOE between 0.078 and 0.142 Euro/kWh in the third quarter of 2013, depending on the type of power plant (ground-mounted utility-scale or small rooftop power plant) and insolation (1000 to 1200 kWh/m²a GHI in Germany). The specific power plant costs ranged from 1000 to 1800 Euro/kWp. The LCOE for all PV power plant types reached parity with other power generation technologies and are even below the average end-customer price for electricity in Germany of 0.289 Euro/kWh (BMWi 2013). Wind power at very good onshore wind locations already has lower costs than new hard coal or CCGT power plants.

    Currently the LCOE for onshore wind power (spec. invest between 1000 and 1800 Euro/kW) are between 0.045 and 0.107 Euro/kWh. Despite the higher annual average full load hours (up to 4000 hours), offshore wind power with just 0.119 to 0.194 Euro/kWh shows considerably higher LCOE than onshore wind power. The reasons for this are the expensive installation as well as higher operating and financing costs for offshore power plants (spec. invest between 3400 and 4500 Euro/kW).

    The LCOE from biogas power plants (spec. invest between 3000 and 5000 Euro/kW) is between 0.135 Euro/kWh (substrate costs 0.025 Euro/kWhth, 8000 full load hours) and 0.215 Euro/kWh (substrate costs 0.040 Euro/kWhth, 6000 full load hours). A heat usage is not considered in the calculations.

    In the case of conventional power plants, brown coal profits the most from the low prices of CO2 allowances. Depending on the assumed full load hours, the fuel costs and the price of CO2 allowances, the LCOE for brown coal is at 0.038 to 0.053 Euro/kWh, from hard coal at 0.063 to 0.080 Euro/kWh and from CCGT power plants at 0.075 to 0.098 Euro/kWh.

    The full load hours of conventional power plants are integrated into the LCOE with a decreasing tendency, corresponding to the forecasted increasing renewable energy share. Values in Figure 1 therefore only reflect the amount of full load hours for 2013; assumptions for the future are given in Table 4.

    Forecast of the LCOE in Germany through 2030

    Figure 2 shows the results for the future development of the LCOE in Germany through 2030. The range reflects the possible cost variations in the input parameters (e.g. power plant prices, insolation, wind conditions, fuel costs, number of full load hours, costs of CO2 emission allowances, etc., see tables 1 to 7). This methodology will be explained for the cost range of PV: The upper limit of the LCOE results from the combination of a PV power plant with a high procurement price at a location with low solar irradiation (e.g. Northern Germany). Conversely, the lower limit is defined by the most inexpensive solar system at locations with high solar irradiation in Southern Germany. This same process is carried out for wind and biomass power plants as well as conventional power plants. The usual financing costs on the market and the surcharges for risks are included d in detail and are specific to the technology. This provides a realistic comparison of the power plant locations, technology risks and cost developments. The level of financing costs has considerable influence on the LCOE and the competitiveness of a technology. Furthermore, all of the costs and discount rates in this study were calculated with real values (reference year 2013). The specific investments in the third quarter of 2013 were calculated based on market research and cost studies.

    Due to the consolidation of the PV market, no significant price reductions are expected on the market through 2014. After this a progress ratio (PR) of 85% (corresponding to a learning rate of 15%) is assumed which will lead to further cost reductions. By the end of the next decade, the lCOE of PV power plants will sink to the range of 0.055 to 0.094 Euro/kWh so that even small rooftop PV systems will be able to compete with onshore wind power and the increased LCOE from brown coal (0.06 to 0.08 Euro/kWh), hard goal (0.08 to 0.11 Euro/kWh) and CCGT power plants (0.09 to 0.12 Euro/kWh). The specific power plant investments will then be 570 to 1020 Euro/kWp. PV utility-scale power plants in Southern germany will drop considerably below the average lCOE for all fossil fuel power plants by 2030.

    Today the LCOE from onshore wind power is already at a very low level and will only decrease by a small amount in the future. Improvements are expected primarily by a higher number of full load hours and the development of new locations with specialized low wind turbines.

    Thanks to the expected increase in prices for fossil fuel power plants, the competitiveness of onshore wind power will however continue to improve and the LCOE at locations with favorable wind conditions will reach parity with that of brown coal power plants by 2020 at the latest. In 2030, the local conditions will be especially decisive if onshore wind power can produce less expensive electricity than PV power plants. Offshore wind power still has (compared with onshore wind power) great potential for reducing costs. Through 2030, the generation costs depending on location and wind conditions will drop to values between 0.096 and 0.151 Euro/kWh.

    Since only slight decreases in cost are expected for biogas power plants, no learning rates are recorded for biogas.

    This leads, in turn, to constant LCOEs by 2030 (0.135 and 0.215 Euro/kWh without earnings from heat cogeneration).

    Solar Technologies in Regions with High Irradiation

    In the second part of the study we examine solar technologies for regions with favorable sunlight conditions. Since these markets are often less developed and the political environment is unstable in comparison to Central Europe, for example the MENA region (Middle East, North Africa), a risk surcharge of around 2% is considered in the capital costs. Based on these assumptions, the LCOE of PV is, compared to Germany, not significantly lower as one might expect.

    The technologies concentrating solar power (CSP) and concentrating photovoltaics (CPV) are analyzed at locations with a high direct normal irradiation of 2000 kWh/(m²a), corresponding to Southern Spain, and 2500 kWh/(m²a), corresponding g to the MENA region. PV power plants are investigated at the respective locations with a global horizontal irradiation of 1800 kWh/(m²a) and 2000 kWh/(m²a) as well as an additional location with a low solar irradiation of 1450 kWh/(m²a), corresponding to Southern France.

    At the considered irradiation range of 1450 to 2000 kWh/(m²a), the LCOE from PV in 2013 lies under 0.120 Euro/kWh for all PV power plant types. At 2000 kWh/(m²a), PV utility-scale power plants are already able to produce power for 0.059 Euro/kWh and therefore have a LCOE that is comparable to power generated from oil, gas and coal.

    In countries without high subsidies in the electricity sector, the LCOE for PV therefore lies below the price for the end-customer. Here investments in PV can be profitable without national support programs. By 2030, the costs for PV electricity at locations with high solar irradiation will fall to 0.043 to 0.064 Euro/kWh.

    Parabolic trough power plants with thermal storage capacity of eight full load hours at locations with an annual direct normal irradiation (DNI) between 2000 and 2500 kWh/(m²a) today have a LCOE from 0.139 to 0.196 Euro/kWh. Due to the considerable cost reductions for PV in recent years, PV has a cost advantage over CSP. The advantage of the ability to store energy and the dispatchability of CSP, however, was not taken into account here. With positive world market developments, considerable derable cost reduction will be possible for CSP by 2030, enabling the LCOE to reach values around 0.097 to 0.135 Euro/kWh. This would then correspond to a specific investment for a solar thermal parabolic trough power plant with storage system of 2900 to 3700 Euro/kW.

    After the significant decrease in costs in recent years, concentrating photovoltaic power plants at locations with a DNI of 2000 or 2500 kWh/(m²a) can reach LCOE from 0.082 to 0.148 Euro/kWh in 2013. The young technology CPV could, if positive market development continues through 2030, reach a cost reduction ranging between 0.045 and 0.075 Euro/kWh. The power plant prices for CPV would then be between 700 and 1100 Euro/kWp.

    For CSP and CPV, there are still great uncertainties today concerning the future market development and thus also the possibility of achieving additional cost reductions through technoogical development. The analysis, however, shows that these technologies have potential for reducing the LCOE and encourages a continued development of these technologies.

    LCOE of Renewable Energy Technologies Study, Version November 2013

    This study is an update of the versions from May 2012 (Kost et al, 2012) and December 2010 (Kost and Schlegl, 2010) The methodology and content have been optimized and the current trends in cost development in the last three years have been taken into account.

    LCOE presents a basis of comparison for weighted average costs of different power generation technologies. This concept allows the accurate comparison of different technologies. It is not to be equated with the feed-in compensation. The actual spot value of electricity is determined by the daily and hourly variations and weather-related fluctuations in supply and demand and therefore cannot be represented by LCOE. An additional information about the methodology for LCOE can be found in the Appendix on page 36.

    QUICK NEWS, February 24: GE ADDS $10BIL COMMITMENT TO ECOIMAGINATION; MANY WILL ACT TO STOP CLIMATE CHANGE; WHERE THE MONEY FOR ENERGY EFFICIENCY IS

    GE ADDS $10BIL COMMITMENT TO ECOIMAGINATION GE to invest a further $10B on 'ecoimagination' energy R&D

    Ernest Scheyder with Terry Wade and Leslie Adler, February 24, 2014 (Reuters)

    “General Electric Co plans to intensify research focusing on complex energy projects such as waterless fracking and gas turbine efficiency by earmarking an additional $10 billion through 2020 for its ‘ecoimagination’ budget…The research budget shows how reliant GE has become on the energy industry, its fastest growth area, as it works to become a dominant supplier of equipment and services to oil, natural gas and alternative power companies…[Ecoimagination has brought in $160 billion in revenue by creating new products and saved $300 million on water and emissions costs. The] new commitment gives investors a clue as to what the company's priorities will be into the next decade…[Ecoimagination] was formed in 2005…and has cost nearly $15 billion…While the overall goals of the project will remain, a larger percentage of the funds will go to energy-related projects…[This] is part of GE's larger research and development budget, worth roughly $5 billion to $6 billion per year…” click here for more

    MANY WILL ACT TO STOP CLIMATE CHANGE Americans’ Actions to Limit Global Warming November 2013

    February 19, 2014 (Yale University)

    "…Three in ten (29%) have joined or would join a campaign to convince elected officials to take action…Nearly four in ten (36%) have joined or would join a campaign to convince elected officials to pass laws increasing energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy…About half of Americans (53%) say they would sign a petition about global warming…About four in ten say that, if asked, they would sign a pledge to vote only for political candidates that share their views…One in four Americans would support an organization engaging in non-violent civil disobedience against corporate or government activities that make global warming worse (24%) and one in six (17%) say they would personally engage in such actiivities…About half of Americans (48%) say that they intend to engage in consumer activism over the next 12 months - rewarding companies by buying their products and/or punishing companies by not buying their products…” click here for more

    WHERE THE MONEY FOR ENERGY EFFICIENCY IS New Lessons on Driving Demand for Energy Efficiency Financing

    Casey Bell, February 20, 2014 (American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy)

    “Recent months have seen some exciting developments in energy efficiency finance. Investment funds, capitalized at about $200 million, are set to break into the potentially extensive market for energy efficient projects in the buildings sector…[T]he critical next step is to drive demand for energy efficiency improvements and connect this demand with available capital…[A] lack of customers actively seeking financing for energy efficiency improvements is the number one barrier to participation in the market for small to mid-size lenders…[L]enders also identified uncertainty around best practice methods for validating and underwriting energy savings as substantive key barriers…Developing [the customer base] will require a better understanding of how to serve those customers better…” click here for more

    Saturday, February 22, 2014

    Climate Change Hits South Florida

    Climate change is happening now: “That’s sea level rise.” From WPBT2 via YouTube

    It Could Get Suddenly Worse

    This explains a lot. Once the forces are set in motion, anything can happen: "Slowly changing climate can push systems, including human systems and ecological systems, past thresholds..." From YaleClimateForum via YouTube

    See Every Wind Turbine In The U.S.

    The fight to build New Energy is what history will look back on as the fight to turn back climate change. Will it be Eisenhower’s D-Day or Napolean’s Waterloo? More on this wind map here. From the U.S. Geological Survey via YouTube

    Friday, February 21, 2014

    IS CLIMATE CHANGE THE GREATEST MARKET FAILURE EVER?

    Climate change deniers have grasped that markets can't fix the climate; The refusal to accept global warming is driven by corporate interests and the fear of what it will cost to try to stop it

    Seumas Milne, 19 February 2014 (UK Guardian)

    “In the words of Nicholas Stern’s 2006 report, climate change is ‘the greatest market failure the world has ever seen’…97% of climate scientists agree that carbon emissions are dangerously heating up the planet, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warn it's 95% likely that most of the temperature rise since 1950 is due to greenhouse gases and deforestation, [and the risk is increasing] of a global temperature rise [above 1.5–2C that would] be catastrophic for humanity…But the climate flat-earthers are having none of it…Part of the [reason] is in the influence of some of the most powerful corporate interests in the world: the oil, gas and mining companies that have strained every nerve to head off the threat of effective action to halt the growth of carbon emissions, buying legislators, government ministers, scientists and thinktanks…The intervention, regulation, taxation, social ownership, redistribution and global co-operation needed to slash carbon emissions and build a sustainable economy for the future is clearly incompatible with a broken economic model based on untrammelled self-interest and the corporate free-for-all that created the crisis…” click here for more

    IN 2014, GERMANY’S OFFSHORE WIND WILL QUADRUPLE

    Germany to Expand Offshore Wind-Power Capacity Fourfold in 2014

    Stefan Nicola, February 11, 2014 (Bloomberg News)

    “Germany will expand its offshore wind-power capacity fourfold this year as projects totaling 1.5 gigawatts are expected to begin generating…Six farms including the 400-megawatt Global Tech I project and EnBW Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg AG (EBK)’s 288-megawatt Baltic 2 plant are seen starting up in 2014…Two more are being built and expected to operate from next year…Three farms with a combined capacity of 520 megawatts are in operation in the German North and Baltic Sea…Construction of at least three more projects with 800 megawatts will start in the course of this and next year…” click here for more

    ICELAND AT GEOTHERMAL’S CUTTING EDGE

    Iceland Is Pushing Geothermal Boundaries With Magma-Generated Power

    Meagan Clark, February 17, 2014 (International Business Times)

    Molten rock that bursts out of volcanoes may increasingly provide energy to power homes and businesses in Iceland and beyond… The Icelandic Deep Drilling Project (IDDP) had been drilling shafts into volcanic bedrock up to 5 km (3.1 miles) deep and capturing the intense heat when, in 2009, a team struck an underground pool of magma. The borehole, IDDP-1, became the first of many wells…The new method of using magma to generate high-pressure steam over 450 degrees Celsius (842 degrees Fahrenheit) set a world record for highest geothermal heat and was the first time heat from molten magma (vs. solid rock) was used to produce electricity…Normal geothermal energy is harnessed by pumping water into hot, dry rocks…But normal geothermal heat doesn’t reach the temperatures magma can…The IDDP's experiment stretched the known capability of geothermal, showing that magma-heated steam can be an energy source…” click here for more

    IRAN PLANS EMISSIONS TRADING

    Iran to set up carbon emissions trading market

    February 16, 2014 (Reuters via Trade Arabia)

    Iran plans to set up a carbon trading market to reduce industrial emissions of climate-warming gas, an official from Iran's Fuel Conservation Organization (IFCO) told oil ministry news service Shana…[R]apidly rising domestic [oil and gas] demand has created a gas supply and vehicle pollution crisis in some cities…[H]eavy subsidisation of fossil fuels means there is little incentive for private investments in wind or solar…The European Union set up the world's first carbon emissions trading scheme in 2005…The EU's success [in cutting carbon emissions] has been limited because too many emissions allowances were issued, driving down the price of permits to levels that give little incentive to cut…A short but growing list of other countries - including China and India - are developing their own emissions trading schemes…[T]here is a growing sense around the Gulf that solar energy, in particular, could help dampen rapid fuel demand growth…” click here for more

    Thursday, February 20, 2014

    CLIMATE CHANGE – ‘A WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION’

    John Kerry: Climate change as big a threat as terrorism, poverty, WMDs

    Steve Almasy, February 17, 2014 (CNN)

    “Saying that climate change ranks among the world's most serious problems -- such as disease outbreaks, poverty, terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called on all nations to respond to ‘the greatest challenge of our generation.’ …[Speaking before college students in Jakarta, Indonesia, he called climate change ‘another weapon of mass destruction, perhaps the world's most fearsome weapon of mass destruction’ and] criticized climate-change deniers, saying ‘a few loud interest groups’ shouldn't be given the chance to misdirect the conversation…Kerry reiterated U.S. President Barack Obama's assertion in the State of the Union address that climate change is an undeniable fact…Too many ecosystems such as Indonesia's are in peril because of climate change, he said…” click here for more

    FIND EVERY U.S. WIND TURBINE

    Take a Tour of Every Wind Turbine in the US with this Interactive Map

    Victoria Turk, February 17, 2014 (MotherBoard)

    "…[E]very wind turbine in the US, from huge wind farm facilities down to individual turbines…[is on a new interactive map] put together by the US Geological Survey as part of an initiative to look at how wind power development is affecting the country’s wildlife…[I]t’s impossible to assess the impact of wind energy without knowing where exactly [the 47,000+ wind turbines in the U.S.] are located…[and detailed information including] its height, blade length, and how much energy it can produce…[A viewer] can zoom in to any one turbine and see it…” click here for more