NewEnergyNews: 11/01/2014 - 12/01/2014

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

    Saturday, November 29, 2014

    Some Good News About Climate Change

    Stick around for about 80 seconds to get the good news. From Years of Living Dangerously via YouTube

    Why The China-U.S. Climate Deal Is Big

    This is huge for the folks working on a climate change solution called New Energy. Chalk up another huge triumph for President Obama. From PBS NewsHour

    Letterman Has Questions About Climate Change

    A little about the difference between doing something and doing nothing. From Late Show with David Letterman

    Friday, November 28, 2014

    KILLER WEATHER LIKELY TO BE MORE COMMON

    Climate change: global weather predicted to become increasingly extreme despite warnings

    Rose Troup Buchanan, 27 November 2014 (UK Independent)

    “Global weather will become increasingly extreme, with the planet facing rising surfacing temperatures, higher sea levels and flash flooding…[T]he most vulnerable people, either elderly populations or those living in extreme poverty, will face increasing risk from shifting weather patterns, according [Resilience to Extreme Weather] by The Royal Society…From 1980 to 2004 the total cost of extreme weather came to – conservatively - $1.4 trillion…Of this sum, only one quarter was insured damage…And in the next 100 years top scientists explain this may only worsen. The impact of flooding is expected to quadruple - while boiling hot summers will increase 10-fold…[The report said the natural variability of global weather – and lack of detailed data available – indicated there might be…’unprecedented extremes, meaning that the past may not remain a good analogue for the future’…[and] the freak weather events, such as the British heatwave off 2003 which killed thousands of elderly and brought the country to a halt, may become more common…” click here for more

    CHINA NEW ENERGY REACHES FOR THE WORLD

    How China Is Expanding Its Influence In Global Solar Market

    Ucilia Wang, November 25, 2014 (Forbes)

    “…While Chinese manufacturers, from those who make the components to the final assembly of solar panels, have to raise their prices or pay tariffs as a result of the trade cases, most of the major players have remained in business. Their own domestic market is booming thanks for government subsidies to promote solar energy generation…China’s recently announced plan to increase renewable energy use and cap carbon emissions by 2030 spells more opportunities…Chinese companies already make up eight of the top 10 solar panel makers worldwide. In recent years, Chinese companies that made their fortunes in non-solar business began to invest in solar manufacturing and project development not just within China but also abroad…[ China’s Overseas Investments In The Wind And Solar Industries] by the World Resources Institute showed that China has boosted its overseas investment…Countries that benefited from [Chins’s wind and solar] investments included the United States, Spain, Italy, South Africa and Bulgaria…” click here for more

    GLOBAL WIND INDUSTRY CONSOLIDATING

    Concentration on consolidation…the future plans of seven of the world's leading wind developers show a clear trend towards partnerships and diversification.

    Shaun Campbell, 27 November 2014 (Windpower Monthly)

    “The gap between acquiring a likely looking site and commissioning a grid-connected wind farm is a big one, which is why all raw pipeline figures should come with a healthy dose of ifs and buts…[The picture emerging from the figures and] backed up by our examination of seven of the world's leading wind power developers…is one of consolidation, collaboration and diversification. Overwhelmingly, developers are concentrating what they already have in their portfolios, seeking partners to share risks and costs, and exploring emerging market sectors…[except for] China, where growth continues at a breakneck pace…A little under 30GW was added to the global pipeline in the first ten months of this year and China accounted for more than nine-tenths of it…[C]ommon threads emerge from [other developers’] plans for the future…[Economic and political stability] are in short supply in many parts of the world. The developed world has yet to recover from the fallout of the financial crash, while the undeveloped world lacks the infrastructure to facilitate the building of large-scale projects…[As a result, the pipeline] is still a long way short of the 1,500GW the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) counts in its moderate scenario for additions up to 2030.” click here for more

    LONDON CAR SERVICE GOES TO CHINESE PLUGS

    BYD to Expand Electric-Car Leasing Deal With London Hire Service

    November 27, 2014 (Bloomberg News)

    “BYD Co. will lease 200 of its e6 electric cars to a London private-car service by April, the largest overseas rental agreement for the Chinese automaker that counts Berkshire Hathaway Inc. as a shareholder…BYD has delivered 32 of its e6 vehicles to London-based Thriev, which operates a chauffeur service using only electric cars…The company said it’s also working on plans to export e6 cars and electric buses to markets including Chicago and New York, without giving more details…Founded by billionaire Chairman Wang Chuanfu as a battery and handset-component maker, BYD has branched into manufacturing electric cars and has targeted selling its vehicles in the U.S. by next year. The company’s electric cars are used by taxi fleets in its hometown of Shenzhen, in southern China…BYD [also] beat France’s Renault SA and Japan’s Nissan Motor Co. in a tender to supply emission-free taxis [last month] in Brussels…” click here for more

    Thursday, November 27, 2014

    Fast Fun Facts About Thanksgiving

    NewEnergyNews is so grateful to so many…beginning with the Marks family foundation…the inimitable Frenchie and the rambling Juliette…the enduring Randolph and the Scott clan…the guys at Akbar…the Cowboy Palace dancers…the Pasadena Untersehers…Teri in Austin…the staff at Utility Dive…the many folks who are building the infrastructure to harvest the power of this good earth’s wind, sun, deep heat, and flowing waters for sharing themselves and stories from the front lines of the fight they are winning…and, of course, the readers who keep clicking on this page…May you always count your blessings and may a kind fate lead you. From HistoryChannel via YouTube

    A Lesser Known Bit Of Thanksgiving History

    This isn’t part of the official history of Thanksgiving but it probably should be. From jasonxgoodman via YouTube

    A Funky History Of Thanksgiving

    Then there’s this version.From HotForWords via YouTube

    Wednesday, November 26, 2014

    TODAY’S STUDY: A SUPPRESSED STUDY OF OHIO NEW ENERGY JOBS

    Ohio Alternative Energy Job Survey Analysis

    February 2013 (Prepared for Development Services Agency Office of Energy; Prepared by ICF International)

    [Editor’s note: This study, reportedly suppressed during the 2013 debate over freezing Ohio’s renewables mandate, found there were approximately 25% more renewables jobs in Ohio than proponents of the freeze claimed. They subsequently were successful, apparently seriously crippling renewables in the state.]

    Introduction

    In response to a request by the Ohio Development Services Agency (formerly known as the Ohio Department of Development), ICF International (ICF) and Wright State University (WSU) conducted a renewable energy (RE) and energy efficiency (EE) job survey across the state. The purpose of the survey was to provide the Ohio Development Services Agency with data about current (2012) and projected alternative energy (AE) employment and establishments in Ohio. To contextualize that data, the survey also aimed to provide a better understanding of the characteristics of the AE economy by sector or value-chain and technology as well as to identify factors that promote market growth or barriers that inhibit AE-related business in Ohio. This report presents the results of the 2012 survey of AE employers. The report is organized into three sections: approach, findings, and conclusions. The approach section describes the survey methodology, and outlines any data limitations and the measures taken to compensate for them. The findings section is organized into three subsections, as follows:

    1. current AE employment, by sector and technology;

    2. projected AE employment; and

    3. market and policy findings.

    The report concludes with a summary of key findings and a discussion of employers’ views regarding a range of alternative energy policy considerations…

    Conclusions

    Current Alternative Energy Employment

    In 2012, Ohio’s alternative energy (AE) economy accounted for more than 31,000 full-time and part-time jobs and 845 establishments. The businesses and employees in this economy supported a variety of sectors, technologies, industries, and functions throughout the value chain.

    The majority of AE employment in Ohio is concentrated in the manufacturing and the construction, installation, and maintenance sectors. These key sectors – or value chain functions— represent nearly 75 percent of all AE employment in Ohio. Manufacturing accounts for more than 43 percent of overall AE employment, and a particularly high proportion of employment in the advanced energy (69 percent), solar (58 percent), bioenergy and alternative fuels (52 percent) and other renewables (47 percent) industries’ workforces. The second largest concentration is in the construction, installation, and maintenance sector, which accounted for roughly 30 percent of AE jobs in the state. The research, design, consulting, and marketing services sector generally employs a lower percentage of each technology’s value chain than the other two sectors.

    In terms of energy technologies, roughly half of all jobs in Ohio’s alternative energy economy were located in the energy efficiency industry, with employment in the solar industry a distant second. Nearly 12,200 people were employed in energy efficiency, and these jobs were evenly distributed across manufacturing (34 percent); installation, maintenance, and power generation operations (36 percent); and research, design, consulting, and marketing (30 percent). Approximately 7,100 workers, or 29 percent of those employed in the AE economy, were employed in renewable energies (including solar, wind, biomass, and other renewables). Of these renewable energy technologies, solar was by far the most significant, accounting for 79 percent of renewable energy jobs, and 23 percent of all jobs in the AE economy.

    Regionally, Ohio’s alternative energy jobs are concentrated in the northern portion of the state, with the northwest and northeast regions together accounting for more than half of all jobs in alternative energy. This trend closely follows the population concentration of Ohio; the two northern regions have higher populations than other regions in the state and have more overall jobs. In terms of establishment size, more than 85 percent of establishments in the alternative energy economy were classified as small (5-49 employees). That said, only half of all AE employees worked at these small establishments, while a third worked at the 27 largest-size establishments in the state (classified as 250 or more employees).

    Projected Employment Growth

    According to survey responses, employers in all AE sectors and technologies anticipate job growth in the first half of 2013, with the majority taking place in the construction, installation, and maintenance sector and the professional services sector. Construction, installation, and maintenance jobs are expected to experience significant growth in terms of both percentage (38 percent) and gross jobs (4,400) during the first half of 2013 to add to their already-strong workforce of 11,500. The professional services sector is expected to grow by 62 percent from roughly 6,400 people in 2012 to more than 10,000 people in the first half of 2013. The manufacturing sector and biosciences sector will both grow at much slower rates in 2013; manufacturing by 9 percent and biosciences by only 5 percent. As a result of these trends, by the end of 2013, total employment in the construction, installation, and maintenance sector should surpass the manufacturing sector as the largest employment sector in the state’s AE economy.

    In terms of energy technologies, employment growth will be centered in the energy efficiency and solar industries, where employers appear to be extremely optimistic about anticipated employment needs within the upcoming 6 to 12 months. The vast majority of Ohio’s AE job growth is expected to occur in the energy efficiency industry, with employers anticipating adding 3,900 new employees to their workforce of 12,200; a projected employment growth of approximately 32 percent. The solar industry anticipates adding 540 employees to their workforce of 5,600 people, which amounts to a growth rate of just below 10 percent. The remaining industries are anticipated to grow at much lower rates with year-over-year employment growth in bioenergy and alternative fuels, wind, and biomass not expected to exceed one percent in 2013.

    Market and Policy Factors Affecting Business Growth

    Survey respondents were asked to rate a wide range of market factors, policies, and programs as either supporting or inhibiting the growth of their businesses. The two factors that were most highly ranked as being supportive to business growth—federal incentives and current market demand for products—fall largely outside of the state’s control. Approximately 45 percent of respondents believed that federal incentives supported business growth, suggesting that uncertainty associated with any extension or expiration of federal credits or programs (e.g. the Production Tax Credit), could have wide-ranging impacts on businesses. Current market demand for products was rated the second most supportive factor, with 41 percent of respondents rating current demand as benefitting their business.

    Three factors that are within the state’s influence were also widely cited as supportive of business growth. Thirty-six percent of respondents felt that the current availability of workers with the necessary skills/knowledge was supportive of business growth, 36 percent cited state financing options (including grant and loan programs) as supportive, and 33 percent cited state alternative energy tax incentives.

    The factors cited most frequently as inhibiting business growth include federal regulations (44 percent), state permits and environmental regulations (37 percent), current availability of workers with the necessary skills and knowledge (32 percent), and local permits and zoning (28 percent). Given that the availability of skilled workers was cited frequently as both a supportive and inhibiting factor, further analysis of the respondents who cited this factor as either supporting or inhibiting business growth may allow for a better understanding of which industries would most benefit from investments in worker training programs.

    Existing Ohio Programs and Policies

    When asked specifically about the State of Ohio’s policies and programs, respondents generally believed that state’s current policies supported their businesses more than they impeded them. Even the most highly cited inhibitive factor—Ohio’s building energy codes—was cited as inhibiting business growth by a mere 7 percent of survey respondents. Given this, Ohio’s programs and policies for AE appear to be on the right track.

    Nearly a third of respondents, 29 percent for both factors, believed that Ohio’s building energy codes and energy standards for public buildings supported business growth. These two policies likely affect the energy efficiency industry exclusively, and therefore may be a significant driver for this significant industry which accounts for half of all jobs in the AE economy. The Ohio AEPS, ODSA Energy Loan Fund, and other ODSA programs were all cited by between 10-15 percent of respondents as supportive of business growth, whereas Ohio’s net metering regulations and renewable energy permitting standards were cited by only 9 percent of respondents. Respondents generally did not feel that Ohio’s policies inhibited their business growth. No particular policy was cited significantly more than others as being inhibitive of growth, and no option was selected by more than 7 percent of respondents.

    Potential Future Ohio Programs and Policies

    When asked about their views regarding potential future policy changes or new policies and programs in the State of Ohio, roughly one-quarter of respondents felt that the following potential future programs and policies would support growth of their businesses:

     expansion of the Ohio AEPS (28 percent);

     assistance with project feasibility analysis (27 percent);

     assistance with market analysis (24 percent);

     and subprime financing for alternative fuel vehicles (23 percent).

    At the same time, a large number of respondents felt that many of the potential future programs and policies would have “no presumed effect” on the growth of their business (note that this is different than inhibiting business growth). Approximately 44 percent of respondents believed that providing subprime financing for alternative fuel vehicles would not significantly affect their business, and 42 percent felt that establishing a low-carbon fuels standard would have no effect. This is likely because of the limited number of survey respondents in the alternative fuels/vehicles industry. The potential policy change least-cited by respondents as having no effect on business growth was an expansion of the state’s AEPS (23 percent), which is consistent with the fact that the AEPS was seen by many respondents as being highly supportive of alternative energy business growth.

    QUICK NEWS, November 26: WHY PEOPLE DENY CLIMATE CHANGE; THE FORCE OF SOLAR; POWER ELECTRONICS MARKETS TO BOOM

    WHY PEOPLE DENY CLIMATE CHANGE Here's Why People Don't Believe In Climate Change

    Natasha Bertrand, November 25, 2014 (Business Insider)

    “…[More than one-quarter of Americans] don't believe that the planet Earth's climate is changing, even though 97% of scientists believe it is…[The] most common response was that they had not noticed a change in the weather around them, and that the weather was actually getting colder where they lived [according to Believers, Sympathizers, & Skeptics from the Public Religion Research Institute and the American Academy of Religion]…The second most common response was that temperatures are not rising because of human actions, instead they are just fluctuating as part of a larger natural cycle…[though] there is plenty of evidence that humans have contributed to changes in global temperatures…The third most popular response, with 12% of deniers selecting it, is that there is not enough scientific evidence…A small minority of skeptics (4%) responded that they have alternative theories…2% said they believe God is in control and 5% believe [it is all propaganda]…” click here for more

    THE FORCE OF SOLAR Solar power charging ahead in America

    Trevor Hughes, November 24, 2014 (USA Today)

    “America is building so much solar power that 10% of the country's energy needs could be generated by the sun in 15 years…[though the country presently] gets less than 1% of its energy from the sun. But the country also tripled its solar generation capacity in three years, and increased it tenfold from 2007 to 2013 [according to Star Power from Environment America]… Solar installations come in many forms, from the small panels installed above streetlights in New Jersey to the backyard panels serving homes in Vermont or the cooperative solar ‘farms’ built in the desert canyons of Colorado…Solar fans say the sun's energy is cleaner than burning fossil fuels, which contribute to climate change, and can be installed in every state…The report says the country's rapid increase in solar installations is due in large part to individual states' efforts…Last year alone, California helped customers install 620 megawatts of solar power, a 73% increase from a year earlier...[T]he rapid increase in installations has driven costs down faster than anyone expected…” click here for more

    POWER ELECTRONICS MARKETS TO BOOM Power Electronics Market to Rise 77% to $23 Billion for Discrete Components in 2024; Silicon will remain predominant with an 87% share, but new SiC and GaN technologies will be the fastest-growing – at 30% and 32% annual rates respectively…

    November 19, 2014 (Lux Research)

    “Power electronics – used to convert and manage electricity in devices ranging from mobile phones to pumps and motors – will grow to a market worth $23 billion for discrete components in 2024, up from $13 billion today according to Sizing-up the $23 Billion Discrete Power Electronics Market in 2024 from Lux Research…Consumer electronics and IT will account for 48% of the market in 2024, or about $11 billion… The transportation market, worth nearly $1.2 billion in 2024, will be the big driver for both SiC and GaN…[but] SiC and GaN remain a small total share of the market. For SiC, high costs will make SiC transistors less viable in many applications, while GaN's adoption will be held back by delayed product roll-outs and capacity expansions…” click here for more

    Tuesday, November 25, 2014

    TODAY’S STUDY: THE DOE LOAN PROGRAM PAYS OFF

    Investing In American Energy

    November 2014 (Loan Programs Office)

    Bridging The Clean Energy Financing Gap

    LPO issues loans and loan guarantees to finance deployment of innovative energy projects and advanced technology vehicle manufacturing facilities in the United States. These projects and facilities are critical to moving the United States towards a clean energy future where it is a global leader in clean energy technology, which will create economic opportunities and address the threat of climate change.

    Commercial banks and bondholders are often unwilling to finance the first few commercial-scale projects that use a new technology since there is not yet a history of credit performance or operation. As a result, the initial commercial deployment of new energy technology is often limited by a project developer’s inability to secure su cient long-term debt financing to build the project.

    LPO was established to fill this critical role in the marketplace by financing the first deployments of a new technology to bridge the gap for commercial lenders. Once the technology is proven at commercial scale through the first few projects, the Department of Energy (DOE) stops providing financing and lets the private market take over.

    An Overview Of The LPO Portfolio

    LPO works with the private markets to help deploy innovative clean energy technology and advanced technology vehicle manufacturing facilities. Every transaction supported by LPO is a public-private undertaking. While DOE issues loans and loan guarantees to provide the necessary debt financing for these projects, the project sponsor must provide significant project-level equity investments.

    Equity invested from private sources must represent at least 20% of the total cost of every project, and usually represents more. DOE will not issue a loan or loan guarantee until substantial private equity support is committed.

    LPO manages a portfolio comprising more than $30 billion of loans, loan guarantees, and conditional commitments covering more than 30 projects. These projects include some of the world’s most innovative and largest solar, wind, geothermal, biofuel, and nuclear facilities, as well as advanced technology vehicle manufacturing facilities in six states producing some of America’s best-selling vehicles. Overall, these loans and loan guarantees have resulted in more than $50 billion in total project investment.

    Today, 20 projects supported by LPO are operational and generating revenue. These projects currently produce enough clean energy to power more than 1 million American homes (roughly the size of Chicago), have supported the manufacturing of more than 8 million fuel-e cient vehicles, and have avoided carbon pollution equivalent to taking more than 3 million cars on the road.

    Protecting Taxpayers And Delivering Results: The Strong Performance Of The LPO Portfolio

    LPO was created to help finance innovation, which involves a degree of technology risk, so it structures its loans to protect taxpayer interests. For each transaction, LPO’s team of financial, technical, environmental and legal professionals conducts rigorous due diligence that is comparable to, if not more stringent than, what is done in the private sector.

    The loans and loan guarantees issued by LPO are all structured to be fully repaid with interest over the term of the loan. Each project in the portfolio must begin repaying the principal and interest on its loan around the time it reaches completion. As many of LPO’s projects reached completion in the past two years, project revenues are being used to repay the loans.

    As of September 2014, LPO-financed projects have already repaid nearly $3.5 billion of principal, as well as more than $810 million in interest payments to the U.S. Treasury, which issued the loans guaranteed by DOE through the Federal Financing Bank. These amounts will continue to increase as the loans are repaid over the coming years.

    Also, LPO estimates that project borrowers, based upon the amount disbursed to date, will make more than $5 billion in interest payments to the U.S. Treasury over the full term of the notes. Nevertheless, the risk of loss exists in any lending or investment activity and the performance of any financial portfolio is dynamic, as outstanding loans are repaid and new loans are issued. LPO manages this risk through thorough due diligence, underwriting, and portfolio monitoring, which has resulted in strong portfolio performance to date.

    In the five years since LPO began financing projects, actual and estimated loan losses to the portfolio are less than $780 million or approximately 2% of the program’s loans, loan guarantees, and conditional commitments and less than 3.6% of the total funds disbursed to date.

    With these actions, LPO is achieving its mission of accelerating the deployment of advanced energy technology, while protecting taxpayer interests.

    QUICK NEWS, November 25: THE PRESIDENT’S CLIMATE CHANGER; SOLAR AND WIND BEAT COAL, GAS ON PRICE; LED LIGHTING TO DISRUPT, TRANSFORM THE INDUSTRY

    THE PRESIDENT’S CLIMATE CHANGER The Audacity Of John Podesta; He’s driving the White House’s go-it-alone climate strategy, but will any of it stick after the president is gone?

    Ben Geman, November 22, 2014 (National Journal)

    “…The Environmental Protection Agency is at the center of [the White House climate-change] agenda, with its controversial rule to limit carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants…[It is] the administration's stated intent to go around Congress on everything from energy to immigration. And [John] Podesta is elbow-deep in it…[That] has revived the Republican criticism that Obama has a penchant for handing lots of power to people who aren't vetted by or responsive to Congress…[Podesta] has been ambitious, [but] his approach both forceful and deliberate. And he's brought to the climate agenda a level of inside clout that has been missing…But whether he has created policy that is durable—regulations and initiatives not easily unwound by a freshly anointed GOP Congress or, after 2016, a Republican president—is far less certain.

    “The White House knows this and is racing to get its new EPA rule well-enough rooted in the economy before Obama's term ends that any attempt to yank it up later would be prohibitively difficult...Podesta is on the clock, too…He has long had deep ties to Hillary Clinton, and a source close to her confirms that he's being considered for a senior role in her likely 2016 campaign…Everything shifted after Obama's reelection…[T]he White House released a broad climate policy blueprint, accompanied by…[a commitment] to imposing the long-awaited mandatory carbon-pollution standards on coal-fired power plants…To help the White House see this through…[Podesta agreed] to a short posting, which would include a strong focus on climate…[S]enior White House climate policy aide Dan Utech…credits Podesta with pushing forward the major pillars of the second-term plan…[I]ncoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is promising to [do whatever is possible to] throw up roadblocks…” click here for more

    SOLAR AND WIND BEAT COAL, GAS ON PRICE Solar and Wind Energy Start to Win on Price vs. Conventional Fuels

    Diane Cardwell, November 23, 2014 (NY Times)

    The cost of electricity from wind and solar resources in some markets now beats coal and natural gas and the trend is accelerating, especially in the Great Plains and Southwest. The price of solar has fallen 70% since 2008 and the Midwest PPA price of wind fell over 50% in the last 5 years. Austin Energy recently completed a power purchase agreement (PPA) for solar at under $0.05 per kilowatt­hour. In Oklahoma, Grand River Dam Authority announced a PPA it said would save customers an estimated $50 million and American Electric Power tripled its wind acquisitions on the strength of low bids. Investment banking firm Lazard’s most recent levelized cost of energy (LCOE) analysis shows utility-­scale solar energy is as low as $0.056 per kilowatt­hour with subsidies and about $0.072 unsubsidized, wind is as low as $0.014 per kilowatt-hour with subsidies and $0.037 without, natural gas is $0.061 per kilowatt-hour, and coal is $0.06 per kilowatt-hour. The LCOE fails to include fossil fuel health and societal impacts, the economic impacts of fossil fuel price volatility or the increasing costs of climate change. For renewables, it fails to consider the costs to integrate variable resources into power markets. click here for more

    LED LIGHTING TO DISRUPT, TRANSFORM THE INDUSTRY Energy Efficient Lighting for Commercial Markets;LED, Fluorescent, HID, Halogen, and Incandescent Lamps and Luminaires in Commercial Buildings: Global Market Analysis and Forecasts

    4Q 2014 (Navigant Research)

    “The ongoing sea change between fluorescent and light-emitting diode (LED) lighting technologies amounts to a significant disruption for the lighting industry…Due to the much longer lifespan of LED lamps, Navigant Research expects overall revenue from lamp sales to decrease in the coming decade. To avoid this inevitable decline, companies are broadening their offerings by expanding to lighting controls and lighting services. Just like the tech giants (e.g., Hewlett-Packard and IBM) of decades past had to make the shift from hardware to software and services, today’s lighting giants are becoming providers of complete lighting solutions rather than just the physical elements that emit light. According to Navigant Research, global lamp revenue is expected to decline from $18.5 billion in 2014 to $12.8 billion in 2023…” click here for more

    Monday, November 24, 2014

    TODAY’S STUDY: RUNNING OUT OF GAS

    Drilling Deeper; A Reality Check on U.S. Government Forecasts for a Lasting Tight Oil & Shale Gas Boom

    J. David Hughes, October 2014 (Post Carbon Institute)

    Abstract

    Drilling Deeper reviews the twelve shale plays that account for 82% of the tight oil production and 88% of the shale gas production in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) reference case forecasts through 2040. It utilizes all available production data for the plays analyzed, and assesses historical production, well- and field-decline rates, available drilling locations, and well-quality trends for each play, as well as counties within plays. Projections of future production rates are then made based on forecast drilling rates (and, by implication, capital expenditures). Tight oil (shale oil) and shale gas production is found to be unsustainable in the medium- and longer-term at the rates forecast by the EIA, which are extremely optimistic.

    This report finds that tight oil production from major plays will peak before 2020. Barring major new discoveries on the scale of the Bakken or Eagle Ford, production will be far below the EIA’s forecast by 2040. Tight oil production from the two top plays, the Bakken and Eagle Ford, will underperform the EIA’s reference case oil recovery by 28% from 2013 to 2040, and more of this production will be front-loaded than the EIA estimates. By 2040, production rates from the Bakken and Eagle Ford will be less than a tenth of that projected by the EIA. Tight oil production forecast by the EIA from plays other than the Bakken and Eagle Ford is in most cases highly optimistic and unlikely to be realized at the medium- and long-term rates projected.

    Shale gas production from the top seven plays will also likely peak before 2020. Barring major new discoveries on the scale of the Marcellus, production will be far below the EIA’s forecast by 2040. Shale gas production from the top seven plays will underperform the EIA’s reference case forecast by 39% from 2014 to 2040, and more of this production will be front-loaded than the EIA estimates. By 2040, production rates from these plays will be about one-third that of the EIA forecast. Production from shale gas plays other than the top seven will need to be four times that estimated by the EIA in order to meet its reference case forecast.

    Over the short term, U.S. production of both shale gas and tight oil is projected to be robust—but a thorough review of production data from the major plays indicates that this will not be sustainable in the long term. These findings have clear implications for medium and long term supply, and hence current domestic and foreign policy discussions, which generally assume decades of U.S. oil and gas abundance.

    Executive Summary – Key Findings

    The seven tight oil plays and seven shale gas plays analyzed in this report account for 82% of projected tight oil production and 88% of projected shale gas production through 2040 in the EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2014 reference case forecast. A detailed analysis of well production data from these plays resulted in these key findings:

    1) Tight oil production from major plays will peak before 2020. Barring major new discoveries on the scale of the Bakken or Eagle Ford, production will be far below EIA’s forecast by 2040.

    a) Tight oil production from the two top plays, the Bakken and Eagle Ford, will underperform EIA’s reference case oil recovery by 28% from 2013 to 2040, and more of this production will be front-loaded than the EIA estimates.

    b) By 2040, production rates from the Bakken and Eagle Ford will be less than a tenth of that projected by EIA.

    c) Tight oil production forecast by the EIA from plays other than the Bakken and Eagle Ford is in most cases highly optimistic and unlikely to be realized at the rates projected.

    2) Shale gas production from the top seven plays will likely peak before 2020. Barring major new discoveries on the scale of the Marcellus, production will be far below EIA’s forecast by 2040.

    a) Shale gas production from the top seven plays will underperform EIA’s reference case forecast by 39% from 2014 to 2040 period, and more of this production will be front-loaded than EIA estimates.

    b) By 2040, production rates from these plays will be about one-third that of the EIA forecast.

    c) Production from shale gas plays other than the top seven will need to be four times that estimated by EIA in order to meet its reference case forecast.

    3) Over the short term, U.S. production of both shale gas and tight oil is projected to be robust—but a thorough review of the production data indicate that this will be unsustainable in the longer term.

    These findings have clear implications for current domestic and foreign policy discussions, which generally assume decades of U.S. oil and gas abundance.

    Other factors that could limit production are public pushback as a result of health and environmental concerns, and capital constraints that could result from lower oil or gas prices or higher interest rates. As such factors have not been included in this analysis, the findings of this report represent a “best case” scenario for market, capital, and political conditions.

    Tight Oil

    The analysis shows that U.S. tight oil production cannot be maintained at the levels assumed by the EIA beyond 2020. The top two plays—Bakken and Eagle Ford—which account for more than 60% of current production, are likely to peak by 2017 and the remaining plays will make up considerably less of future production than has been forecast by the EIA. Rather than a peak in 2021 followed by a gradual decline to slightly below today’s levels by 2040, total U.S. tight oil production is likely to peak before 2020 and decline to a small fraction of today’s production levels by 2040.

    General Findings

    • The 3-year average well decline rates in the seven plays analyzed for this report (which collectively provide 89% of current U.S. tight oil production) range from 60% to 91%.

    • The high decline rates of tight oil wells in these plays means that 43% to 64% of their estimated ultimate recovery (EUR) is recovered in the first three years.

    • Field declines from the Bakken and Eagle Ford are 45% and 38% per year, respectively (this compares to 5% per year for large conventional fields). This is the amount of production that must be replaced each year with more drilling in order to maintain production at current levels (field decline is made up of all wells in a play—old and new—and hence is lower than first-year well declines).

    • Based on production history, drilling locations, and declining well quality, this report found that 98% of the EIA’s projected production from these seven plays has a “high” or “very high” optimism bias.

    • The EIA assumes that the equivalent of 100% of proved reserves and between 65% and 85% of its “unproved technically recoverable tight oil resources” will be recovered by 2040 for the plays analyzed. Considering that unproved, technically recoverable resources have no price constraints and only loose geological constraints, this is highly speculative.

    • The EIA assumes that the U.S. will exit 2040 with tight oil production at levels only marginally less than today, at 3.2 MMbbl/d. A thorough analysis of the well production data suggests this is highly optimistic.

    Forecasts for Bakken & Eagle Ford Tight Oil Plays

    • The EIA’s forecast of the timing of peak production in the Bakken and Eagle Ford is similar to this report, as is the rate of peak production.

    • The EIA forecasts a much higher tail after peak production, with recovery of 19.2 billion barrels between 2012 and 2040, as opposed to 13.9 billion barrels forecast in this report.

    • The EIA forecasts collective production from the Bakken and Eagle Ford to be a little over 1 million barrels per day in 2040. In contrast, the “Most Likely” drilling rate scenario presented in this report forecasts that production will fall to about 73,000 barrels per day by 2040.

    Forecasts of Other Tight Oil Plays

    • To meet the EIA’s forecasts, all other plays together would need to produce over twice as much through 2040 as what is projected for the Bakken and Eagle Ford.

    • The major remaining tight oil plays are the three Permian Basin plays—Spraberry, Wolfcamp, and Avalon/Bone Spring—plus the Austin Chalk and the Niobrara. EIA forecasts expect these plays to produce four to five times their historical production in the next 26 years, but this is highly questionable, considering that:

    - These plays are already 40-60 years old, with tens of thousands of wells already drilled.

    - The Permian Basin plays’ average initial well productivities are half or less the average of core counties in the Bakken or Eagle Ford.

    - The Bakken and Eagle Ford’s average estimated ultimate recovery (EUR) per well is two to more than six times higher than that of these other plays.

    Shale Gas

    The EIA now projects domestic gas production to reach nearly 38 trillion cubic feet per year by 2040, which is 55% above 2013 levels. The bulk of this production growth would come from shale gas.

    This analysis shows that simply maintaining U.S. shale gas production in the medium term—let alone increasing production at rates forecast by the EIA through 2040—will be problematic. Four of the top seven shale gas plays are already in decline. Of the major plays, only the Marcellus, Eagle Ford, and Bakken (the latter two are tight oil plays producing associated gas) are growing; and yet, the EIA reference case gas forecast calls for plays currently in decline to grow to new production highs, at moderate future prices. Although significantly higher gas prices needed to justify higher drilling rates could temporarily reverse decline in some of these plays, the EIA forecast is unlikely to be realized.

    General Findings

    • The 3-year average well decline rates in the seven plays analyzed for this report (which collectively provide 88% of U.S. shale gas production) ranges between 74% and 82%.

    • The average field decline rates for these plays ranges between 23% and 49%, meaning that between one-quarter and one-half of all production in each play must be replaced each year in order to simply maintain current production.

    • Although the EIA forecast for the Marcellus play is rated as “reasonable” and its forecast for the Bakken play is rated “conservative,” the deficit left by being “very highly optimistic” on some of the other plays makes finding and developing the gas required to meet the overall forecast unlikely.

    • Because productivity of shale wells declines rapidly, many new wells must be drilled just to maintain existing production levels. Of the top shale gas plays, only the Marcellus, Eagle Ford, and Bakken are currently seeing enough drilling to maintain and grow production.

    • Major shale gas plays are variable in well quality. The Marcellus and Haynesville are much more productive on average than the other plays analyzed in this report. Even within plays, well quality varies considerably.

    • Despite years of concerted efforts and claims that technological innovation can overcome steep well decline rates and the move from “sweet spots” to lower quality parts of plays, average well productivity has gone flat in all major shale gas plays except the Marcellus.

    • Approximately 130,000 additional shale gas wells will need to be drilled by 2040 to meet the projections of this report, on top of the 50,000 wells drilled in these plays through 2013. Assuming an average well cost of $7 million, this would require $910 billion of additional capital input by 2040, not including leasing, operating, and other ancillary costs.

    Forecasts for Shale Gas Plays

    • The EIA assumes that 74% to 110% of its “unproved technically recoverable resources” plus “proved reserves” will be recovered by 2040 for the seven major plays analyzed. Considering that unproved, technically recoverable resources have no price constraints and only loose geological constraints, this is highly speculative.

    • This analysis found that the EIA reference case forecast for the top seven shale gas plays overestimates cumulative production through 2040 in this report’s “Most Likely” scenario by 64%.

    • The EIA further estimates that in 2040, shale gas production from the seven plays analyzed will be 182% higher (nearly 3 times) than estimated in this report—and that by 2040, another 49.6 Tcf will have been recovered from other plays not analyzed in this report.

    • In this report’s “Most Likely” scenario, cumulative dry shale gas production over the 2014-2040 period is 229.5 trillion cubic feet (Tcf)—46% lower than the EIA Reference Case (377 Tcf).

    • In this report’s “Most Likely” scenario, shale gas production from the seven plays analyzed peaks in the 2016-2017 timeframe and declines by more than half, to 14.8 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) by 2040. In contrast, the EIA expects production from these plays to keep growing through 2040, with shale gas production in that year at 41.8 Bcf/d—nearly three times higher than this report finds justifiable.

    Implications

    This report shows that the EIA’s optimistic forecasts for future U.S. tight oil and shale gas production are based on a set of false premises, namely that:

    • High-quality shale plays are ubiquitous, and there will be always be new discoveries and production from emerging plays to fill the gap left by declining production from major existing plays.

    • Technological advances can overcome steep decline rates and declining well quality as drilling moves from sweet spots to poorer quality rock, in order to maintain high production rates.

    • Large estimated resources underground imply high and durable rates of extraction over decades. Actual production data from the past decade of shale gas and tight oil drilling clearly do not support these assumptions. Unfortunately, the EIA’s rosy forecasts have led policymakers and the American public to believe a number of false promises:

    • That cheap and abundant natural gas supplies can create a domestic manufacturing resurgence and millions of new jobs over the long term.15

    • That abundant domestic oil and natural gas resources justify lifting the oil export ban (imposed 40 years ago after the Arab oil embargo) 16 and fast-tracking approval of liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals.

    • That the U.S. can use its newfound energy strength to shift geopolitical trends in our long-term favor.

    • That we can easily limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants as a result of natural gas replacing coal as the primary source of electricity production. The promises associated with the expectation of robust and relatively cheap shale gas and high-cost but rising tight oil production have also led to a tempering of investments in renewable energy and nuclear power. If, as this report shows, these premises and promises are indeed false, the implications are profound. It calls into question plans for LNG and crude oil exports and the benefits of the shale boom in light of the amount of drilling and capital investment that would be required, along with the environmental and health impacts associated with it. Conventional wisdom holds that the shale boom will last for decades, leaving the U.S. woefully unprepared for a painful, costly, and unexpected shock when the shale boom winds down sooner than expected. Rather than planning for a future where domestic oil and natural gas production is maintained at current or higher levels, we would be wise to harness this temporary fossil fuel bounty to quickly develop a truly sustainable energy policy—one that is based on conservation, efficiency, and a rapid transition to distributed renewable energy production.

    QUICK NEWS, November 24: NEW ENERGY DOMINATES THE U.S. NEW BUILDS AGAIN; SIERRA CLUB, UNITED STEELWORKERS WANT WIND JOBS; THE ABUNDANCE OF SOLAR

    NEW ENERGY DOMINATES THE U.S. NEW BUILDS AGAIN Wind Energy Provides Over Two-Thirds Of New U.S. Generating Capacity In October 2014; For Eighth Time In Past Ten Months Renewables Dominate New U.S. Electrical Generating Capacity

    Ken Bossong, November 24, 2014 (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission/Sun Day)

    "…[W]ind power provided over two-thirds (68.41%) of new U.S. electrical generating capacity in October 2014…[with five wind farms] accounting for 574 MW of new capacity…[S]even ‘units’ of biomass (102 MW) [were 12.16% of new capacity] and five units of solar (31 MW) [were 3.69% of new capacity] respectively…[T]hree units of natural gas [made up the remaining 132 MW and 15.73% of new capacity, according to the latest Energy Infrastructure Update report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) Office of Energy Projects]…

    “…[F]or the eighth time in the past ten months, renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) accounted for the majority of new U.S. electrical generation…Natural gas [led in April and August]…Renewable energy sources now account for 16.39% of total installed operating generating capacity in the U.S.: water - 8.44%, wind - 5.39%, biomass - 1.38%, solar - 0.85%, and geothermal steam - 0.33%. Renewable energy capacity is greater than that of nuclear (9.23%) and oil (3.97%) combined…” click here for more

    SIERRA CLUB, UNITED STEELWORKERS WANT WIND JOBS Congress must not let wind energy jobs blow away

    Sierra Club Exec Dir Michael Brune and United Steelworkers Pres Leo Gerard, November 20, 2014 (The Hill)

    "The winds that froze Americans a week after the midterm elections could [could be harnessed to create clean electrical power and family-supporting jobs and] help solve the problems voters told pollsters most concerned them – jobs and the economy…The wind industry currently employs more than 50,000 American workers…Wind energy creates good-paying jobs for the workers who build, maintain, and operate wind turbines, and who support operations…Over 500 U.S. manufacturing facilities – including some whose workers are represented by United Steelworkers – build components for wind turbines…

    “Yet Congress has created a significant headwind for the industry by failing to renew a modest tax credit called the Wind Production Tax Credit or PTC. The PTC slightly narrows the huge divide that separates wind and subsidized traditional fuels…[Many Congressional opponents of the PTC get contributions from] Koch Industries, led by Charles and David Koch. The pair of billionaire right-wing activists has fought against the PTC through their advocacy group Americans for Prosperity…Congress has a narrow window of opportunity to extend the PTC, and if they take it, we expect it to pass with a strong bipartisan vote…We urge Congress to continue to invest in a future…” click here for more

    THE ABUNDANCE OF SOLAR Report: America could power itself 100 times over with solar energy

    Chris Mooney, November 20, 2014 (The Washington Post)

    "…Staggering amounts of solar radiation strike the Earth each day; the only trick is capturing more of it…[ An Environment America Research and Policy Center report...argues that the U.S…[can] produce more than 100 times as much electricity from solar PV and concentrating solar power (CSP) installations as the nation consumes…[and] every single state could generate more solar electricity than its residents currently consume…[The map] was created by comparing technical estimates of solar potential from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory with state level electricity sales data from the Energy Information Administration…35 million homes and businesses could potentially install solar on their roofs…[Not] all of this solar potential will necessarily ever be exploited…[We] only need to exploit some of it…” click here for more

    Saturday, November 22, 2014

    Much More Inhofe Now

    Fact: The most adamant climate denier in the U.S. Senate will now run one of the most important committees on the environment in the U.S. Senate. From greenmanbucket via YouTube

    Jon Stewart Talks Keystone, Politics, And Jobs

    The best research concludes the low jobs numbers are the most likely ones. From Comedy Central

    Jon Stewart On How Keystone Opponents May Be Caught In Their Own Trap

    Have Keystone proponents hoisted themselves on their own petard? From Comedy Central

    Friday, November 21, 2014

    A NEW WAY TO SEE CLIMATE CHANGE

    NASA Computer Model Provides a New Portrait of Carbon Dioxide

    Patrick Lynch, November 17, 2014 (NASA)

    “An ultra-high-resolution NASA computer model has given scientists a stunning new look at how carbon dioxide in the atmosphere travels around the globe…Plumes of carbon dioxide in the simulation swirl and shift as winds disperse the greenhouse gas away from its sources. The simulation also illustrates differences in carbon dioxide levels in the northern and southern hemispheres and distinct swings in global carbon dioxide concentrations as the growth cycle of plants and trees changes with the seasons…[The simulation uses ground-based measurements of carbon dioxide and measurements from the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite. It is] the product of a new computer model [called GEOS-5] that is among the highest-resolution ever created…[and] is the first to show in such fine detail how carbon dioxide actually moves through the atmosphere…[It] is part of a simulation called a [Nature Run that] ingests real data on atmospheric conditions and the emission of greenhouse gases and both natural and man-made particulates…[and runs on its own to simulate] the natural behavior of the Earth’s atmosphere. This Nature Run simulates May 2005 to June 2007…” click here for more

    EU OCEAN WIND TO CUT COSTS, KEEP GROWING

    Offshore wind industry races to cut costs as subsidies drop

    Christoph Steitz and Geert De Clercq with Pravin Char, November 17, 2014 (Reuters)

    “…Britain, Germany and the Netherlands, wary of committing billions of euros when budgets are tight, have announced subsidy cuts in the past 18 months - a blow to the European offshore wind industry which [provides 1$ of European electricity and] employs nearly 60,000 people…[The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) has reduced] its forecasts for installed offshore capacity in Europe to about 25 gigawatts (GW) by 2020 [about 3% of Europe’s electricity], from a 2009 forecast for 40 GW, still more than triple current capacity of about 7 GW…[U]tilities remain keen to invest…[in] the fastest-growing power technology in Europe…Unlike onshore farms, marine parks face less opposition from civil groups…[and] turn about 42 percent of the time, about double the ‘load factor’ onshore…[But] offshore parks [cost about 125 euros per megawatt hour (MWh), versus 80 euros for onshore wind,] and as the industry seeks to weather the subsidy cuts until investments pay off, companies are desperately seeking to reduce construction costs by building bigger, more efficient turbines and finding cheaper ways to construct foundations…” click here for more

    COST-COMPETIVE NEW ENERGY, GERMANY’S 'GIFT TO THE WORLD’

    Thank Germany for Falling Prices of Solar Panels and Wind Turbines

    Harold L. Sirkin, November 18, 2014 (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

    “…[N]early 30 percent of Germany’s electric power comes from renewable energy sources, and the percentage is growing. This is not without a downside: Traditional electric utilities are struggling…[W]ith Russia supplying a reported 38 percent of its natural gas imports, 35 percent of its imported oil, and a quarter of its imported coal, Germany made a wise decision to move in new directions—generating electricity from wind and sun, renewable energy sources that the U.S. has been much slower to adopt…[ All the world will benefit from] Germany’s embrace of wind and solar power…[because the huge demand it created] for wind turbines and especially for solar panels…helped lure big Chinese manufacturers into the market…driving down costs faster than almost anyone thought possible just a few years ago…[If politicians leave things up to the market to sort out, the U.S. and other countries will inevitably move in Germany’s direction, as renewable energy becomes more cost-competitive. That, German analyst Markus Steigenberger told the [NY] Times, will be Germany’s ‘gift to the world.’” click here for more

    NEW ENERGY MATCHES COAL ON COST, CAPACITY IN TURKEY

    Turkey: Growing electricity demand can be met by renewables at the same cost as coal…

    Zachary Davies Boren, November 14, 2014 (Greenpeace)

    "Turkey could use clean energy instead of coal generation to achieve its twin aims of growing power supply and reducing natural-gas imports at roughly the same cost…[ Turkey’s Changing Power Market from Bloomberg New Energy Finance outlines] how nearly half of the country’s power demand could be met by renewable energy by 2030 in a scenario with costs comparable to the $400 billion coal-led strategy currently in place…According to the government’s plan, Turkey’s electricity demand will grow by more than 5% a year for the next 15, with coal capacity, as well as some wind and nuclear, expanding while gas power is put out to pasture…BNEF research, funded by the European Climate Foundation, commissioned by WWF-Turkey … states that the government’s projections for future power demand are inflated — and the increasing affordability of solar and wind energies represents a legitimate opportunity to introduce a modern, low carbon energy infrastructure…Bloomberg's Renewables Development Pathway (RDP) scenario would see gas generation fall by almost 20 points to 26% by 2030, coal drop to 18%, and renewables rise from 29% to an astonishing 47%...[W]ind and solar energy [make] the most gains (55% and 30% of new installations till 2030) [and] the lion’s share of clean energy would be provided by hydroelectricity — much of which is already installed…The government’s official energy strategy…is set to cost $400 billion; the BAU scenario will cost about the same; and the far preferable RDP just $6 billion more…” click here for more

    Thursday, November 20, 2014

    TOP REPUBLICAN DROPS CLIMATE DENIAL

    Top Republican bows to scientists on climate change

    Stephen Stromberg, November 17, 2014 (Washington Post)

    “…[T]he country’s debate on climate change has been stuck on whether the phenomenon is happening at all, or on whether humans are responsible for it…and key GOP leaders still seem unwilling to move the discussion forward now…[but] comments from Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.)…offer a glimmer of hope that at least some Republicans aren’t comfortable with their party’s role…Asked about the overwhelming agreement among experts on the cause and trajectory of global warming, Thune [said:] ‘There are a number of factors that contribute to that, including human activity. The question is, what are we going to do about it and at what cost?’…[T]he number-three Republican in the Senate admitted that human activity is affecting the climate and that this concern demands a policy response…

    “…[T]he answer to the last question should be relatively simple for honest conservatives: The efficient, market-friendly approach to cutting dependence on greenhouse gases is pricing carbon dioxide emissions and allowing market forces to adapt the economy…Thune didn’t go there…Republicans have to do more than simply acknowledge that there is a risk. His statement might be merely another GOP attempt to justify doing too little without seeming anti-science…[But it] points in a sure direction: It will be ultimately untenable for Republicans to admit that global warming is a legitimate concern yet reflexively attack efforts to deal with it…[The country can do better] than President Obama’s regulatory approach…only if more Republicans ask the right question — instead of continuing to dignify those who demand that their leaders dismiss and disdain scientists’ warnings.” click here for more

    FORD ELECTRIC CARS FOR ‘THE MASSES’

    Ford To Make Electric Cars 'Attainable To The Masses;' CEO Denies Rumors Ford Is Interested In Tesla

    Kukil Bora, November 18, 2014 (International Business Times)

    "…[Ford Motor Company] intends to mass-produce affordable electric vehicles [according to CEO Mark Fields]…[He] emphasized that Ford has [a full line of electric vehicles that have performed well in the market place and] the capability to make electric cars with a strategy different from that of Tesla Motors…[that will] produce reasonably priced electric cars…Fields also said that Ford is not interested in buying Tesla, despite ongoing speculation that both Ford and General Motors Company are keen to [do so]…While Ford is currently ranked second in terms of sales in the electric car industry, the company’s Ford Focus was recently ranked as the most fuel-efficient compact car in the U.S…[ Fields said] Tesla’s approach is to cater to a high-end consumer…[but Ford will] nmake electrified vehicles ‘attainable to the masses’…” click here for more

    MIDWEST SOLAR MAKES SENSE AND CENTS

    Solar moves beyond early adopters in upper Midwest

    Andrea Johnson, November 14, 2014 (Farm & Ranch Guide)

    “…Better technology and lower prices are making solar power in 2014 achievable and more affordable [for farmers and ranchers than in the past…Two types of solar power are available – thermal collectors heat air and water; photovoltaic (photo – light and voltaic – electrical potential) systems convert light to electricity…Consumers can now purchase solar energy systems for as low as $1 per watt, with added installation costs…The federal government provides a 30 percent tax credit…[Supports are also available through USDA’s Rural Development Program Rural Energy for America Program (REAP)] and some utilities and states provide other incentives for approved solar…REAP also funds work to help producers determine how efficiently they are using energy now on their farms and ranches…

    “Those who live in the Upper Midwest and Great Plains may wonder if there is enough sunlight available to make photovoltaic (PV) cells cost effective…The answer is, yes…but we have to strategically place our solar panels…Germany has more solar power than any other country in the world, even though most of Germany sits farther north than the Dakotas, Montana or northern Minnesota…” click here for more

    NEW ENERGY JOBS BY THE BAY

    S.F. clean energy program could generate 8,100 jobs, report says

    Marisa Lagos, Novembwer 16, 2014 (SF Chronicle)

    “A renewable energy program in San Francisco could create more that 8,100 construction jobs by building $2.4 billion worth of proposed solar, wind and geothermal projects, a new report says. That refutes many criticisms made by Mayor Ed Lee when the city killed a previous version of CleanPowerSF, supporters of the plan say…The proposal, which has wide support among the city’s supervisors, would allow San Francisco to generate or purchase its own clean energy and deliver it to consumers through Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s existing transmission network…

    “Because CleanPowerSF could shake the company’s decades-long monopoly over delivering energy to San Francisco, it has met stiff opposition …To ensure that rates are competitive with PG&E’s, the report says the city will have to determine generation prices ahead of time and build a program backward from there…EnerNex also recommends focusing on local employment…The report lays out at least five large-scale solar projects that could be built in San Francisco and would create about 1,000 local construction jobs…[Such] private renewable energy projects on homes and businesses within the city also stand to help CleanPowerSF improve its green portfolio, lower costs for consumers and create even more local jobs, the report states — up to seven construction jobs for every $1 million spent on build out…” click here for more

    Wednesday, November 19, 2014

    TODAY’S STUDY: THE MIDWEST GRID IS READY FOR 40% NEW ENERGY

    Minnesota Renewable Energy Integration and Transmission Study Final Report

    October 31, 2014, (GE Energy Consulting, with The Minnesota Utilities and Transmission Companies, Excel Engineering, Inc., and MISO)

    Executive Summary

    Background…Study Objectives and Overall Approach…Development of Study Scenarios…Development of Transmission Conceptual Plans…Evaluation of Operational Performance…Dynamic Performance Analysis…

    Key Findings

    This study examined two levels of increased wind and solar generation for Minnesota; 40% (represented by Scenarios 1 and 1a) and 50% (represented by Scenarios 2 and 2a). In the 40% Minnesota Scenario, MISO North/Central is at 15% (current state RESs). The 50% Minnesota Scenario also included an increase of 10% (to 25%) in the MISO North/Central region. Production simulation was used to examine annual hourly operation of the MISO North/Central system for all four of these scenarios. Transient and dynamic stability analysis was conducted for Scenarios 1 and 1a but not on Scenarios 2 and 2a.

    General Conclusions for 40% RE Penetration in Minnesota

    With wind and solar resources increased to achieve 40% renewable energy for Minnesota and 15% renewable energy for MISO North/Central, production simulation and transient/dynamic stability analysis results indicate that the system can be successfully operated for all hours of the year with no unserved load, no reserve violations, and minimal curtailment of renewable energy. This assumes sufficient transmission mitigations, as described in Section 1.4, to accommodate the additional wind and solar resources.

    This is operationally achievable with most coal plants operated as baseload must-run units, similar to existing operating practice. It is also achievable if all coal plants are economically committed per MISO market signals, but additional analysis would be required to better understand implications, tradeoffs, and mitigations related to increased cycling duty.

    Dynamic simulation results indicate that there are no fundamental system-wide dynamic stability or voltage regulation issues introduced by the renewable generation assumed in Scenario 1 and 1a. This assumes:

    • New wind turbine generators are a mixture of Type 3 and Type 4 turbines with standard controls

    • The new wind and utility-scale solar generation is compliant with present minimum performance requirements (i.e. they provide voltage regulation/reactive support and have zero- voltage ride through capability)

    • Local-area issues are addressed through normal generator interconnection requirements

    General Conclusions for 50% RE Penetration in Minnesota

    With wind and solar resources increased to achieve 50% renewable energy in Minnesota and 25% renewable energy in MISO, production simulation results indicate that the system can be successfully operated for all hours of the year with no unserved load, no reserve violations, and minimal curtailment of renewable energy. This assumes sufficient transmission upgrades, expansions and mitigations to accommodate the additional wind and solar resources.

    This is operationally achievable with most coal plants operated as baseload must-run units, similar to existing operating practice. It is also achievable if all coal plants are economically committed per MISO market signals, but additional analysis would be required to better understand implications, tradeoffs, and mitigations related to increased cycling duty.

    No dynamic analysis was performed for the study scenarios with 50% renewable energy for Minnesota (Scenarios 2 and 2a) due to study schedule limitations and this analysis is necessary to ensure system reliability.

    Annual Energy in the Minnesota-Centric Region

    Figure 1-1 shows the annual load and generation energy by type for the Minnesota-Centric region. Comparing Scenarios 1 and 1a (40% MN renewables) with the Baseline,

    • Wind and solar energy increases by 8.5 TWh, all of which contributes to bringing the State of Minnesota from 28.5% RE penetration to 40% RE penetration

    • There is very little change in energy from conventional generation resources

    • Most of the increase in wind and solar energy is balanced by a decrease in imports. The Minnesota-Centric region goes from a net importer to a net exporter.

    Comparing Scenarios 2 and 2a (50% MN renewables) with Scenarios 1 and 1a (40% MN renewables),

    • Wind and solar energy increases by 20 TWh. Of this total, 4.8 TWh brings the State of Minnesota from 40% to 50% RE penetration and the remainder contributes to bringing MISO from 15% to 25% RE penetration

    • Most of the increase in wind and solar energy in the Minnesota-Centric region is balanced by a decrease in coal generation and an increase in net exports to neighboring regions • Gas-fired, combined-cycle generation declines from 5.0 TWh in Scenario 1 to 3.0 TWh in Scenario 2.

    Cycling of Thermal Plants

    Most coal plants were originally designed for baseload operation; that is, they were intended to operate continuously with only a few start/stop cycles in a year (mostly due to scheduled or forced outages). Increased cycling duty could increase wear and tear on these units, with corresponding increases in maintenance requirements. Many coal plants in MISO presently are designated by the plant’s owner to operate as “must-run” in order to avoid start/stop cycles that would occur if they were economically committed by the market.

    Scenarios S1a and S2a assumed that all coal plants in MISO are subject to economic commitment/dispatch (i.e., not must-run) based on day-ahead forecasts of load, wind and solar energy within MISO. Production simulation results show significant coal plant cycling due to economic market signals:

    • Small coal units (below 300 MW rating) could have an additional 100 to 200 starts per year, beyond those due to forced or planned outages.

    • Large coal units (above 300 MW) could have an additional 20 to 100 starts per year

    Scenarios S1 and S2 assumed almost all coal plants would continue to operate as they do today. Coal units were on-line all year (except for scheduled maintenance periods) and were not decommitted during periods of low market prices. The results of these scenarios confirmed that the coal units could remain must-run with minor impacts on overall operation of the Minnesota-Centric region. Coal plant owners could choose to continue the must-run practice to avoid the detrimental impacts of increased cycling as wind and solar penetration increases. Doing so would likely incur some additional operational costs when energy prices fall below a plant’s breakeven point. Wind curtailment would also be about 0.5% higher than if the coal plants were economically committed.

    An attractive solution to the coal plant cycling issue may exist between the two bookend cases analyzed in this study. Scenarios 1a and 2a assumed that unit commitment was determined on a day-ahead basis, using day-ahead forecasts of wind and solar energy. The result was a high number of start/stop cycles of coal plants, sometimes with down-times of less than 2 days. If the unit commitment process was modified to use a longer term forward market (say 3 to 5 days ahead), then coal plant owners could adjust their operational strategy to consider decommitting units when prolonged periods of high wind/solar generation and low system loads are forecasted. A forward market would depend on longer term forecasts of wind, solar and load energy, consistent with the look-ahead period of the market. Although such forecasts would be somewhat less accurate than day-ahead forecasts, the quality of the forecasts would likely be adequate to support such unit commitment decisions.

    This study did not examine the economic or wear-and-tear impacts of increased cycling on coal units. Further information on this topic can be found in the NREL Western Wind and Solar Integration Study Phase 2 report7 and the PJM Renewable Integration Study report8. Combined-cycle (CC) units are better able to accommodate cycling duties than coal plants. Simulation results show that combined cycle units in the Minnesota-Centric region experience from 50 to 200 start/stop cycles per year. Cycling of CC units declines slightly as wind and solar penetration increases. This decline is primarily due to a decrease in CC plant utilization as wind and solar energy increases.

    Curtailment of Wind and Solar Energy

    In general, a small amount of curtailment is to be expected in any system with a significant level of wind and solar generation. There are some operating conditions where it is economically efficient to accept a small amount of curtailment (i.e., mitigation of that curtailment would be disproportionately expensive and not justifiable).

    Overall curtailment in the Minnesota-Centric region is relatively small in all study scenarios, as shown in Table 1-2. Wind curtailment in Baseline and Scenario 1 is primarily due to local transmission congestion at a few wind plants. This congestion could be mitigated by transmission modifications, if economically justifiable.

    Wind curtailment in Scenario 2 is due to system-wide operational limits during nighttime hours, when many baseload generators are dispatched to their minimum output levels. This type of curtailment could be reduced by decommitting some baseload generation via economic market signals. The effectiveness of this mitigation option is illustrated by comparing Scenario 2 (coal units must-run) with Scenario 2a (economic coal commitment). Wind curtailment decreases from 2.14% to 1.60% (reduction of 332 GWh of wind curtailment). Solar curtailment decreases from 0.42% to 0.24% (reduction of 12 GWh of solar curtailment).

    Other Operational Issues

    No significant transmission system congestion was observed in any of the study scenarios with the assumed transmission upgrades and expansions. Transmission contingency conditions were considered in both the powerflow analysis used to develop the conceptual transmission system and the security-constrained economic dispatch in the production simulation analysis.

    Ramp-range-up and ramp-rate-up capability of the MISO conventional generation fleet increases with increased penetration of wind and solar generation. Conventional generation is generally dispatched down rather than decommitted when wind and solar energy is available, which gives those generators more headroom for ramping up if needed.

    Ramp-range-down and ramp-rate-down capability of the MISO conventional generation fleet decreases with increased penetration of wind and solar generation. In Scenario 2, there are 500 hours when ramp-rate-down capability of the conventional generation fleet falls below 100 MW/min. Periods of low ramp-down capability coincide with periods of high wind and solar generation. Wind and solar generators are capable of providing ramp-down capability during these periods. MISO’s existing Dispatchable Intermittent Resource (DIR) process already enables this for wind generators. It is anticipated that MISO would expand the DIR program to include solar plants in the future.

    System Stability, Voltage Support, Dynamic Reactive Reserves

    No angular stability, oscillatory stability or wide-spread voltage recovery issues were observed over the range of tested study conditions. The 16 dynamic disturbances used in stability simulations included key traditional faults/outages as well as faults/outages in areas with high concentrations of renewables and high inter-area transmission flows. System operating conditions included light load, shoulder load and peak load cases, each with the highest percent renewable generation periods in the Minnesota-Centric region.

    Overall dynamic reactive reserves are sufficient and all disturbances examined for Scenarios 1 and 1a show acceptable voltage recovery. The South & Central and Northern Minnesota regions get the majority of their dynamic reactive support from synchronous generation. Maintaining sufficient dynamic reserves in these regions is critical, both for local and system-wide stability.

    Southwest Minnesota, South Dakota and at times Iowa get a significant portion of dynamic reactive support from wind and solar resources. Wind and Solar resources contribute significantly to voltage support/dynamic reactive reserves. The fast response of wind/solar inverters helps voltage recovery following transmission system faults. However, these are current-source devices with little or no overload capability. Their reactive output decreases when they reach a limit (low voltage and high current).

    Synchronous machines (either generators or synchronous condensers), on the other hand, are voltage-source devices with high overload capability. This characteristic will strengthen the system voltage, allowing better utilization of the dynamic capability of renewable generation. The mitigation methods discussed below, namely stiffening the ac system through new transmission or synchronous machines, will also address this concern.

    Local load areas, such as the Silver Bay and Taconite Harbor area, require reactive support from synchronous machines due to the high level of heavy industrial loads. If all existing synchronous generation in this region is off line (i.e. due to retirement or decommitment), reinforcements such as new transmission or synchronous condensers would be required to support the load.

    Dynamic simulation results indicate that it is critical to maintain sufficient system strength and dynamic reserves to support high flows on the Northern Minnesota 500 kV lines and Manitoba high-voltage direct-current (HVDC) lines. Insufficient system strength and reactive support will limit Manitoba exports to the U.S. Existing transmission expansion plans, as modeled in this analysis, address these issues and are sufficient for the anticipated levels of Manitoba exports.

    The Manitoba HVDC ties and the 500 kV transmission system in Northern Minnesota require reactive support from synchronous generators, the Dorsey and Riel synchronous condensers, and the Forbes static var compensator (SVC) to maintain the expected level of Manitoba exports. Without sufficient reactive reserves, the system could be unstable for nearby transmission disturbances. The current transmission plans, as modeled in this analysis, address this issue.

    Weak System Issues

    Composite Short-Circuit Ratio (CSCR) is an indicator of the ability of an ac transmission system to support stable operation of inverter-based generation. A system with a higher CSCR is considered strong and a system with a lower CSCR is considered to be weak. CSCR is calculated as the ratio of the composite short-circuit MVA at the points of interconnection (POI) of all wind/solar plants in a given area to the combined MW rating of all those wind and solar generation resources.

    Low CSCR operating conditions can lead to control instabilities in inverter-based equipment (Wind, Solar PV, HVDC and SVC). Instabilities of this nature will generally manifest as growing voltage/current oscillations at the most affected wind or solar plants. In the worst conditions (i.e., very low CSCR), oscillations could become more wide-spread and eventually lead to loss of generation and/or damage to renewable generation equipment if not adequately protected against such events.

    This is a relatively new area off concern within the industry. The issue has emerged as the penetration of wind generation has grown. Understanding of the fundamental stability issues is rapidly growing as more wind plants are being installed in regions with weak ac systems.

    Equipment vendors, transmission planners and consultants are all working to gain a better understanding of the issues. Modeling and simulation tools have already been developed to enable detailed analysis of the phenomena. Wind and solar inverter control systems are being modified to improve weak system performance.

    Synchronous machines (either generators or synchronous condensers) contribute short-circuit strength to the transmission system and therefore increase CSCR. Therefore, system operating conditions with more synchronous generators online will have higher CSCR. Also, stronger transmission ties (additional transmission lines or transformers, or lower impedance transformers) between synchronous generation and regions of wind and solar generation will increase CSCR. SVCs and STATCOMs do not contribute short-circuit current, and because they are electronic converter based devices with internal control systems similar to wind/solar inverters, their presence in a weak system region could further reduce the effective CSCR and exacerbate the control system stability issues that occur in weak system conditions.

    There are two general situations where weak system issues generally need to be assessed:

    • Local pockets of a few wind and solar plants in regions with limited transmission and no nearby synchronous generation (e.g. plants in North Dakota fed from Pillsbury 230 kV near Fargo).

    • Larger areas such as Southwest Minnesota (Buffalo Ridge area) with a very high concentration of wind and solar plants and no nearby synchronous generation

    This study examined the sensitivity of weak system issues in Southwest Minnesota. Observations are as follows:

    The trouble spots identified in this analysis are not very sensitive to existing synchronous generation commitment. While there is very little synchronous generation within the area, the region is supported by a strong networked 345 kV transmission grid. Primary short circuit strength is from a wide range of base-load units in neighboring areas, and interconnected via the 345 kV transmission network. Commitment, decommittment or outages of individual synchronous generators do not have significant impact on CSCR in these identified areas.

    Transmission outages will lower system strength and make the issue worse. When performing CSCR and weak system assessments as wind and solar penetration increases, it will be prudent to consider normal and design-criteria outages at a minimum (i.e, outage conditions consistent with MISO reliability assessment practices).

    Mitigations

    There are two approaches to improving wind/solar inverter control stability in weak system conditions:

    • To improve the inverter controls, either by carefully tuning the equipment control functions or modifying the control functions to be more compatible with weak system conditions. With this approach, wind/solar plants can tolerate lower CSCR conditions.

    • To strengthen the ac system, resulting in increased short-circuit MVA at the locations of the wind/solar plants. This approach increases CSCR.

    The approaches are complementary, so the ultimate solution for a particular region would likely be a combination of both.

    Mitigation through Wind/PV Inverter Controls

    Standard inverter controls and setting procedures may not be sufficient for weak system applications. Loop gains of internal control functions inherently increase when system impedance increases, thereby reducing the stability margin of the controllers. Developers and equipment vendors must be made aware when new plants are being proposed for weak system regions so they can design/tune controls to address the issue. Wind plant vendors have made significant progress in designing wind and solar plant control systems that are compatible with weak system applications.

    This approach becomes somewhat more difficult when there are wind/solar plants from multiple vendors in one region. The level of analysis requires detailed modeling of all affected wind plants at a level of detail that requires the use of proprietary control design information from the vendors. Vendors are very reluctant to share such data, except with independent consultants who can guarantee strict data security. However, this approach is gaining traction and a few projects have made effective implementations. The key to success is that project developers and equipment vendors must be informed beforehand that a given wind or solar plant will be installed at a weak system location. This enables the appropriate control design studies to be initiated before the project is installed.

    In the event that such control-based approaches are not sufficient, it would be possible to further improve weak system performance by employing one or more of the system-level mitigations discussed below.

    Mitigation by Strengthening the AC System

    CSCR analysis of the Southwest Minnesota region shows that synchronous condensers located near the wind and solar plants would be a very effective mitigation for weak system issues. Synchronous condensers are synchronous machines that have the same voltage control and dynamic reactive power capabilities as synchronous generators. Synchronous condensers are not connected to prime movers (e.g. steam turbines or combustion turbines), so they do not generate power.

    Other approaches that reduce ac system impedance could also offer some benefit:

    • Additional transmission lines between the wind/solar plants and synchronous generation plants

    • Lower impedance transformers, including wind/solar plant interconnection transformers

    Series capacitors on transmission lines could be used to increase CSCR and to improve the transmission system’s capability to transfer energy out of regions with high concentrations of wind and solar resources. However, series capacitors create subsynchronous frequency resonances in the transmission system which affect the performance of control systems within wind and solar plants. These resonances introduce an additional challenge to wind/solar plant control designs, which must maintain stable operation in the presence of the resonant conditions.Mitigation through “must-run” operating rules for existing generation was found to be not very effective. The plants with synchronous generators are not located close enough to effected wind/solar plants.