NewEnergyNews: 06/01/2010 - 07/01/2010/


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

The challenge now: To make every day Earth Day.



  • TTTA Wednesday-ORIGINAL REPORTING: The IRA And The New Energy Boom
  • TTTA Wednesday-ORIGINAL REPORTING: The IRA And the EV Revolution

  • Weekend Video: Coming Ocean Current Collapse Could Up Climate Crisis
  • Weekend Video: Impacts Of The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Current Collapse
  • Weekend Video: More Facts On The AMOC

    WEEKEND VIDEOS, July 15-16:

  • Weekend Video: The Truth About China And The Climate Crisis
  • Weekend Video: Florida Insurance At The Climate Crisis Storm’s Eye
  • Weekend Video: The 9-1-1 On Rooftop Solar

    WEEKEND VIDEOS, July 8-9:

  • Weekend Video: Bill Nye Science Guy On The Climate Crisis
  • Weekend Video: The Changes Causing The Crisis
  • Weekend Video: A “Massive Global Solar Boom” Now

    WEEKEND VIDEOS, July 1-2:

  • The Global New Energy Boom Accelerates
  • Ukraine Faces The Climate Crisis While Fighting To Survive
  • Texas Heat And Politics Of Denial
  • --------------------------


    Founding Editor Herman K. Trabish



    WEEKEND VIDEOS, June 17-18

  • Fixing The Power System
  • The Energy Storage Solution
  • New Energy Equity With Community Solar
  • Weekend Video: The Way Wind Can Help Win Wars
  • Weekend Video: New Support For Hydropower
  • 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




      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.


    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

  • ---------------
  • WEEKEND VIDEOS, August 24-26:
  • Happy One-Year Birthday, Inflation Reduction Act
  • The Virtual Power Plant Boom, Part 1
  • The Virtual Power Plant Boom, Part 2

    Wednesday, June 30, 2010


    New Report Provides Blueprint for Building Domestic Wind Energy Component Supply Chain; BlueGreen Alliance, American Wind Energy Association, and USW Provide “Manufacturing Blueprint” to Build Out Domestic Wind Energy Supply Chain and Create U.S. Manufacturing Jobs
    June 28, 2010 (American Wind Energy Association)

    Wind energy is not only the most mature and capable of the New Energies right now, it is also the leading voice of the New Energy industries.

    That is why it is so interesting to see that, in response to the U.S. New Energy industries’ currently slowing momentum, wind is reaching out, forming alliances and pushing harder than ever for the federal policies that will matter.

    Late in 2009, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and the other New Energy industries reached out to the natural gas industry in an attempt to find common ground in the nation's fight against coal dependence and the fight against greenhouse gas emissions (GhGs).

    Early in June, 2010, AWEA and the United Steelworkers Union (USW) formed a Partnership for Progress and called for a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES). Shortly after that, AWEA joined the Alliance to Save Energy, the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, the Biomass Power Association, Growth Energy, the Energy Recovery Council, the Geothermal Energy Association, the National Hydropower Association, and the Solar Energy Industries Association to declare THE TIME IS NOW for a national RES.

    Now AWEA has joined the USW and its labor union and environmentalist partners in the Blue-Green Alliance to release "Winds of Change: A Manufacturing Blueprint for the Wind Industry. The Blueprint calls for an RES requiring U.S. utilities to obtain 25% of their power from New Energy sources by 2025.

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    Wind, the ultimate American can-do energy industry, can and is doing what it has to. That it created a boom from 2004 to 2008, rose to a pinnacle of accomplishment and took over international leadership in wind energy production despite shoddy and inconsistent federal policy support means nothing now. That it went from 2,500 U.S. jobs in 2004 to 18,500 jobs in 2009 means nothing now. That it quadrupled its yearly capacity additions to 10 gigawatts in 2009 and finished the year with a world-leading 35+ gigawatts of cumulative U.S. capacity means nothing now.

    What matters now is that the New Energies – and their new allies – be heard.

    Political leaders in Washington, D.C., will – when they finish eulogizing Senator Byrd and tormenting Ms. Kagan – go to work on legislation in response to the April coal mine cave-in disaster that killed 29 miners and the even worse Gulf oil spill that killed 11 offshore oil platform workers and resulted in an environmental and economic atrocity for the region.

    What matters now is that those political leaders get the message that fossil fuel-perpetrated devastations will only come to an end when the nation turns with all its might to New Energy.

    What matters now is that those political leaders come to understand there is a choice in the kind of energy they subsidize and there are real and devastating consequences when they subsidize dirty and dangerous energies.

    What matters now is that those political leaders also come to understand there is a huge opportunity for the nation in New Energy. It is an opportunity to staunch the flow of U.S. treasure to profoundly troubled places and people, to enhance the nation’s energy security, to invest in domestic sources of power generation in a way that will rehabilitate its economy and to get the nation on the world’s side in the fight against climate change and killer air pollution.

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    So the wind industry is speaking out. It is calling for federal policies that will give it a level playing field against its Old Energy competitors. Industries like nuclear energy, natural gas and coal have long had support in the form of federal subsidies, guarantees and incentives. The Old Energies, in fact, could not exist without such support. Wind and the other New Energies aske only that the rules be fair. Either take away their competitors’ advantages or give them long term policies like:

    (1) A national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) requiring U.S. utilities to obtain 25% of their power from New Energy sources by 2025,
    (2) An extension of the Recovery Act's 1603 convertible tax credit,
    (3) A cap and price on greenhouse gas emissions (GhGs) with protections for vulnerable domestic industries,
    (4) Legislation to facilitate extensive development of new transmission infrastructure,
    (5) Expanded funding for the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit to subsidize the building and renovation of manufacturing capacity,
    (6) Further loan guarantees for new and renovated New Energy manufacturing capacity, (7) Enactment and funding of the Investments for Manufacturing Progress and Clean Technology (IMPACT) and Renewable Energy Market Access Program (REMAP) Acts to grow the domestic manufacturing supply chain,
    (8) Funding for the Green Jobs Act to insure a trained job force, and
    (9) Support for states to further develop similar subsidies, guarantees and incentives.

    During the press conference held to announce the release of Winds Of Change, one of the speakers intended to say that not backing U.S. turbine makers with strong policies could result in the “cessation” of manufacturing activity and the wealth of economic benefits that come with it. He inadvertently said “secession” instead. But his malapropism was closer to the truth.

    Turbine manufacturing will not cease. It will secede from the U.S. and move to other countries, countries like Turkey and China and India where they are backing their New Energy industries because they see what the fossil fuel addicts in U.S. political power centers refuse to see. They see that New Energy is the future and no matter how hard they try to stop it, it is coming. It is coming and it is bringing enormous opportunities for those countries smart enough to seize them. The time is now. NOW.

    click to enlarge

    Because Pennsylvania enacted RES, Gamesa – the world’s 7th biggest turbine manufacturer – chose the state for manufacturing facilities that added 1000+ steel workers to the job rolls.

    On the strength of only an inconsistent federal production tax credit (PTC) and some strong state policies, the wind industry grew its manufacturing sector jobs 7 times over in the last 5 years to 18,500. Strong, long-term policies could generate tens of thousands of jobs.

    The record-breaking growth in the wind industry from 2004 to 2009 came because
    Congress sustained the PTC over that period. During that period, the domestic supply chain was developed but turbine manufacturing capacity lagged because the world’s biggest turbine companies are not based in the U.S. and require longer-term policy support to make the kinds of large and extended investments necessary to build plants.

    The result of Congress allowing crucial 2009 Recovery Act benefits for wind to expire at the end 2010 is that wind development fell off in the first quarter of 2010 to its lowest point in 3 years: 539 megawatts. At its current pace, it may not achieve even a quarter of its 2009 benchmark.

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    Another bust looms, with 14,000 planned manufacturing jobs and billions in revenues threatened.

    The U.S. wind industry grew an average of 39% per year from 2004 to 2009. It added 10,000 megawatts in 2009, bringing cumulative capacity to a world-leading 35,000+ megawatts, enough to power 9.7 million U.S. homes.

    The last time the U.S. led the world was in the early 1980s. Because of the failure of federal policy, U.S. wind looks to lose its world leadership to China either this year or next.

    The U.S. invented utility-scale wind energy in the early 1980s as the result of the Energy Tax Act of 1978 that created a 15% Energy Investment Tax Credit (EITC) through 1985 and the Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 that required utilities to purchase New Energy.

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    In 1985, the wind industry built 1,000 megawatts but – because of waning policy support and cheap natural gas – never achieved that level of development again until 2001.

    In 1986, the U.S. had ~90% of the world’s wind capacity, most in California. Between 1987 and 1997, the EITC expired, Europe grew strong policies, the U.S. built less than 50 megawatts of wind per year and, by 1998, the U.S. had 1,853 megawatts of wind while Europe had 6,453 megawatts.

    The U.S. got back in the game after 2001, thanks largely to state RESs, other state policies, and the re-enactment of the federal PTC yearly from 2005 to 2009. The wind industry went from a 2004 installed capacity of 6,700 megawatts to 2009’s 35,000 megawatts.

    The supply chain grew but turbine manufacturers rarely took the plunge because of such inconsistency in federal policy.

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    2009’s record-breaking growth was directly attributable to the Recovery Act’s extension of the PTC for 3 years and allowing it to be converted into a 30% Investment Tax Credit (ITC) that could be exchanged for a cash grant through 2010.

    As AWEA and its blue collar allies continually insist, wind turbine manufacturers need longer-term policies and the long-term promise of markets – comparable to what they can get in Europe, China and India -- in order to make the big investments their facilities require.

    China has set the goal of building 100 gigawatts of wind by 2020 and the central government is doing everything possible to support its wind industry in achieving the target. Its industry built almost 14 gigawatts in 2009 and looks ready to leave the U.S. industry in the dust sometime in 2011 or 2012.

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    The U.S. wind industry’s “fundamentals” are considered sound. All that’s lacking is strong, long-term supportive policy: (1) The wind industry manufacturing sector added/expanded 100+ facilities since 2007 and has 240+ facilities in a ready-to-serve component supply chain. The domestic sector has tower and blade makers and nacelle assembly facilities. (2) Makers of nacelle internals, the smaller, highly complex, high-value “brains and heart” of a turbine, are just getting started. (3) In 2005, the U.S. wind industry built ~2,500 megawatts and ~25% was from the domestic manufacturing supply chain but in 2009 it built 10,000+ megawatts and ~50% was from the domestic manufacturing supply chain. (5) Research suggests there is no reason the domestic manufacturing supply chain cannot supply a significantly larger portion of what is installed in the U.S. if the turbines themselves are also made domestically.

    Towers: There are 20 U.S. utility-scale turbine tower makers, 14 added since 2004. Texas, which has the biggest U.S. installed capacity, has 25% of the online and announced tower manufacturing. The value of imported towers fell in 2009 while the value of the domestic market grew 20%, indicating strong demand for U.S. towers.

    Blades: There are 13 U.S. blade manufacturing facilities, 9 added since 2004. 3 are planned. The value of imported blades fell in 2009 while the U.S. installations grew, again indicative of strong demand for domestic blades.

    click to enlarge

    OEMs and Nacelle Assembly: 9 turbine manufacturers, or original equipment
    manufacturers (OEMs), had more than a percent of U.S. wind installations. There 8 domestic nacelle assembly facilities and 8 more are planned.

    Nacelle Internals: As nacelle assembly facilities double (see above), demand for nacelle internals, the very complex, high-value components that make up the “heart and brains” of the turbine, will grow.

    The first U.S. facility for any of the 3 major components – gearboxes, generators and drives – came online in 2009. There is also a growing supply chain for smaller, sub-components like bearings, electricals and hydraulic systems.

    Needed: New foundry capacity to do the castings required in utility-scale turbines. Large castings (the mainframe, hub, rotor shaft, etc.) weigh 30 tons and more. Domestic manufacturing of them is much preferable to shipping them.

    click to enlarge

    Offshore Wind Turbines: There is no U.S. offshore wind industry. It is all opportunity.

    The study includes discussions of:
    (1) the job potential in wind manufacturing (showing that the current 14,000 jobs waiting in wind manufacturing could grow to 30,000 with supportive policies),
    (2) the factors that will drive growth in a domestic wind manufacturing sector (showing the most important factor is the sheer price advantage from making the 250-to-400 ton turbines near where they will be erected rather than importing them), and
    (3) the role state policies can play in building a domestic manufacturing sector (showing states' biggest roles should be in supporting markets and training workers).

    The last part of the new paper is a discussion of the urgently needed policy measures that will build a long-term market to support a domestic wind energy manufacturing sector.

    click to enlarge

    (1) A national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) requiring U.S. utilities to obtain 25% of their power from New Energy sources by 2025:

    36 countries, including China and all the EU member states, have an RES. Research shows a national RES would bring 274,000 new U.S. jobs. 29 states and D.C. already have an RES. It is not currently high on the Congressional agenda.

    (2) A cap and price on greenhouse gas emissions (GhGs) with protections for vulnerable domestic industries:

    Caps should match the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)-stated call for GhG reductions of 80% below the 1990 level by 2050. Mechanisms must be legislated though which the caps can be achieved. Research shows hard caps with a workable mechanism to achieve them and protections for vulnerable domestic industries could drive the growth of New Energy even more effectively than an RES.

    click to enlarge

    (3) An extension the Recovery Act 1603 convertible tax:

    The Treasure grant in lieu of the ITC not only salvaged a recession-year downturn in the wind industry but turned it into a record year. The Renewable Energy
    Expansion Act of 2010, from Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore), and the American Renewable Energy Jobs Act, from Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), would both extend the cash grant option through 2012. Any serviceable bill should make the mechanism automatic. Any extension should also: (a) Require goals, (b) Require reporting, and (c) Require feedback data analysis to reconcile experience with the bill’s intent.

    (4) Expanded funding of $5 billion for the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit to subsidize the building and renovation of manufacturing capacity:

    It should also: (a) Add selection criteria, (b) Strengthen existing selection criteria, (c) Include criteria targeting specific market segments, and (d) Establish goals and submit an analysis of collected data to Congress.

    (5) Further loan guarantees for new and renovated New Energy manufacturing capacity:

    Longterm, lower-cost debt is especially important to manufacturers because their capital costs are so high and the current financial environment makes it otherwise prohibitively expensive. A variety of mechanisms exist. The report recommends funding a pair of them at ~$2 billion each.

    click to enlarge

    (6) Enactment and funding of the Investments for Manufacturing Progress and Clean Technology (IMPACT) and Renewable Energy Market Access Program (REMAP) Acts to grow the domestic supply manufacturing supply chain:

    IMPACT creates a $30 billion state-level loan fund and adds $1.5 billion to the existing Manufacturing Extension Partnership program to help New Energy manufacturers retool.

    The Renewable Energy Market Access Program (REMAP) would help small and medium-sized New Energy companies export to existing and new markets abroad and learn how to best access foreign markets.

    (7) Funding for the Green Jobs Act at $125 million per year to insure a trained job force:

    The New Energy manufacturing sector requires workers with skills but ~1.6 million U.S. manufacturing workers are near retirement age and 57% of working adults lack basic skills or an educational credential beyond high school. The Green Jobs Act helps close the skills gap and should be fully funded at its authorized level of $125 million per year.

    click to enlarge

    (8) Legislation to facilitate extensive development of new transmission infrastructure:

    To use 25% New Energy, a complete effort from local, state, and federal officials to fund and build new transmission infrastructure will be necessary. It will require streamlined permitting, funding, skilled workers to build and implement it but it will create big economic benefits. Policy barriers, the biggest obstacle, can be addressed through (a) Interconnection-Wide Transmission Planning, (b) Interconnection-Wide Transmission Cost Allocation and Certainty for Cost Recovery, and (c) Federal Siting initiatives.

    click to enlarge

    - From the report’s conclusion: “The American wind industry has made impressive strides towards increasing domestic content in installed wind turbines and has brought thousands of jobs online in manufacturing. However, the wind manufacturing sector is still developing, with the opportunity to bring tens of thousands of additional jobs online. In order to justify investment in opening new facilities and expanding or retooling existing facilities, Congress must take action to ensure a long-term, stable wind energy market. Coupled with other policies to support the U.S. manufacturing sector, these actions would enable the wind industry to develop robust supply chains and employ thousands of Americans in good, clean energy jobs.”


    Global Solar Energy Outlook; Solar Demand Dynamics, Cost Structures, Policy Factors, and Competitive Differentiators for Suppliers: Market Analysis and Forecasts
    Dave Cavanaugh and Clint Wheelock, June 29, 2010 (Pike Research)

    "…[S]tarting in about 4Q 2008, a scant six quarters ago, the solar industry abruptly moved from a supply-driven market to a demand-driven market, resulting in…Financial performance of world leaders in solar cell and module manufacturing plunged to devastating losses and low-cost manufacturing, while maintaining module efficiency defined new world leaders…[A] financial crisis second only to that of the Great Depression…Technologies…struggling to survive…and…Module average selling prices (ASPs) fell so fast that the road to grid parity was redefined…

    "This report examines these events and defines…the key drivers…and the new solar market…[It] projects that the supply of solar modules will greatly exceed demand in 2010…Pike Research believes that the forecasted 8.2 gigawatts (GW) of unsold inventories in 2010 is unsustainable and will result in the consolidation of less competitive cell and module manufacturers."

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    "Which companies will survive and lead…Which companies…are the most likely candidates for closure or acquisition…What are the…competitive capabilities…Which module technologies will grow…why are cadmium telluride (CdTe) modules leading the Market…?

    "This report answers these questions…[and] Describes the market shift and the root causes…Forecasts demand of 10.1 GW…and projects that solar demand will grow to 19.3 GW by 2013…Forecasts a significant oversupply of solar modules reaching 18.3 GW under a most likely scenario in 2010 that will be produced by 193 cell and module manufacturers…Separates the large number of manufacturers into Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 categories…"

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    "…[It projects] that the 11.8 GW of Tier 1 capacity alone could supply the entire solar market in 2010… Asserts that low cost per Watt ($/W), in combination with efficiency, is now the main competitive differentiator…Lists and details other competitive differentiators…Charts revenues, gross margins (GMs), silicon costs, non-silicon costs, and ASPs of Tier 1 companies…Reviews restructuring, emerging, and current low-cost Tier 2 companies likely to survive consolidation…And, finally, reviews Tier 3 companies…

    "…[W]ith module ASPs falling to under $1.50/W by the end of 2010, according to Pike Research analysis, solar market growth is set to grow at a 24.5% CAGR from 2010 through 2013 to reach 19.3 GW…[I]f demand, particularly in the United States and China, is spurred by even lower module ASPs and higher fossil fuel-generated power cost and grows at a faster pace, total worldwide demand for solar modules could exceed 26 GW…[T]he solar market looks to be poised for sustainable growth that outpaces most other markets…"

    ACEEE Study Finds 'Smart Meters' Not Smart Enough to Slash Residential Power Use and Significantly Reduce Consumer Electric Bills; Demand Could be Cut by About a Tenth, Resulting in Tens of Billions in Pocketbook Savings for Consumers and a Significant Decline in CO2 Gases
    June 29, 2010 (ACEEE via PR Newswire)

    "Consumers could cut their household electricity use as much as 12 percent and save $35 billion or more over the next 20 years if U.S. utilities go beyond simple "smart meter" initiatives to include a wide range of energy-use feedback tools that get consumers more involved in the process of using less energy, according to [Advanced Metering Initiatives and Residential Feedback Programs: A Meta-Review for Household Electricity-Saving Opportunities] from the nonprofit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE)...

    "ACEEE based its findings on a review of 57 different residential sector feedback programs between 1974 and 2010…ACEEE found that three of the most promising approaches in the short- to medium-term include enhanced billing, daily/weekly feedback, and "off line" and Web-based real-time feedback…[P]rograms that go beyond "smart meters" are few and far between…[N]o U.S. utilities are currently providing the full range of needed services…"

    click to enlarge

    "Beyond a short-term move to enhanced billing programs, households could see even greater levels of savings through the application of more sophisticated programs that integrate utility-based advanced metering initiatives with on-line or in-home energy displays and tailored guidance regarding the highest-impact means of reducing energy waste. Utilities across the country are investing in new electricity meters that provide two-way communications between the meter and the utility, and that monitor and collect household energy use data on an hourly basis (or even more frequently).

    "When paired with an on-line program, households can increase their knowledge about how they are using energy. When combined with an in-home display, electricity consumers can witness the amount of energy that they are consuming in real-time, calculate the month-end impact of their current consumption patterns, and assess the impact of adopting new practices and more energy-efficient technologies. The average electricity savings associated with online services providing daily/weekly feedback (the Google PowerMeter is one example) is about 8 percent while real-time feedback has witnessed an average savings about 9 percent per participating household…"

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    "Energy-use feedback can help households gain control over their energy use practices, reduce the amount of wasted energy, and reduce electricity consumption by 4 to 12 percent…[C]onsumers might enjoy a cumulative net savings of $2 to $35 billion or more over the next 20 years…

    "Advanced (or "smart") metering initiatives alone are neither necessary nor sufficient for providing households with the feedback that they need to achieve energy savings, however they do offer important opportunities…[A]dvanced meters must be used in conjunction with in-home (or on-line) displays and well-designed programs that successfully inform, engage, empower, and motivate people…Utilities and policymakers should…ensure that U.S. households receive needed feedback…Providing households with persistent feedback has resulted in sustained savings over time…"

    …Toyota's plug-in-hybrid Prius; Toyota lends plug-in cars to local organizations
    Onell R. Soto, June 29, 2010 (San Diego Union-Tribune)

    "Five Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid cars are now in San Diego as part of the company’s efforts to find out how they will perform in the real world…

    "The cars are among 600 production models based on the 2010 Prius that Toyota is lending to organizations worldwide to fine-tune its design and help utilities better understand how the electric cars will affect grid operations."

    Like San Diego, cities all over the country are installing chargers. From TheMcdiana via YouTube

    "Each car features a larger battery than a standard Prius and can go 13 miles, and up to 62 mph, using only electricity…When the battery charge is depleted, the car’s gasoline engine kicks in and it operates like a standard Prius, in which an electric motor using battery power supplements the battery charge…It will take three hours to fully charge the battery using standard household power, and half as much time using a 240-volt connection.

    "When the cars hit dealerships in 2012, they will cost more than a typical Prius, which now sells for about $22,000, though Toyota won’t say how much more."

    click to enlarge

    "Toyota is one of several companies introducing plug-in cars in coming years. The $100,000-plus Tesla Roadster is the first of the current generation of plug-in cars to hit the road. Nissan plans to roll out its Leaf all-electric car in December, and plug-in models are expected from Chevrolet, Mitsubishi, Tesla, Aptera and Fisker, among others...Some use only electricity, others have gasoline engines that turn on when batteries are depleted.

    "Supporters…say they help reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions because they can move without burning gasoline….But, because they rely on expensive batteries, the cars are pricier than similar non-electric models. State and federal governments are handing out rebates and tax credits in an effort to make the cars more affordable…"

    DSM Develops New Technology For 2nd Generation Biofuel
    Roberta B. Cowan, June 28, 2010 (Wall Street Journal)

    "Life and material science company DSM NV… has developed a new bioconversion technology, which will improve efficiency in developing second-generation biofuels, or biofuel from waste agricultural products.

    "DSM will unveil what it describes as a breakthrough in bioconversion…at the world congress on biotechnology…"

    click to enlarge

    "The new process includes using an enzyme which breaks down cellulose in wood, plant and other waste agricultural products. The sugars produced from the waste agriculture products are then converted by DSM's "advanced yeast" strain into ethanol, or biofuel. DSM coins the process an "all you can eat yeast," which substantially improves the conversion rate, up to 100% yield improvement, of sugars into ethanol.

    "DSM says it's now actively marketing both its differentiated enzyme and advanced yeast technologies as an integrated bioconversion solution, for the second generation, advanced bio fuels market, which DSM says is forecasted to grow exponentially over the next decade."

    Tuesday, June 29, 2010


    New report claims coal costs W.Va. taxpayers money
    Vicki Smith, June 22, 2010 (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

    In the last year of his life, Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) taught, not for the first time, the most important lesson of his long and storied public service.

    Senator Byrd’s career demonstrates it is possible to – with integrity – change a publicly held position. In Byrd’s case there was in fact more integrity because he found the courage decades ago to reverse his racist position on segregation, denounce his affiliation with the Ku Klux Klan and become one of the stalwart defenders of civil rights.

    In December 2009, Senator Byrd made an equally profound shift. After fighting his entire life on behalf of West Virginia’s coal industry, he concluded in December 2009 that he and his state must prepare to move on. In Coal Must Embrace the Future, Byrd wrote “Change is no stranger to the coal industry. Think of the huge changes which came with the onset of the Machine Age in the late 1800’s. Mechanization has increased coal production and revenues, but also has eliminated jobs, hurting the economies of coal communities. In 1979, there were 62,500 coal miners in the Mountain State. Today there are about 22,000… [C]hange is undeniably upon the coal industry again…”

    Senator Byrd called for “…an open and honest dialogue about coal’s future in West Virginia…” After assuring his coal industry constituency that no “…effort to do away with the coal industry could ever succeed in Washington because there is no available alternative energy supply that could immediately supplant the use of coal for base load power generation in America…” he went on to warn them that to “…be part of any solution, one must first acknowledge a problem. To deny the mounting science of climate change is to stick our heads in the sand and say “deal me out.” West Virginia would be much smarter to stay at the table.”

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    Though Senator Byrd did not have The Impact of Coal on the West Virginia State Budget, from Downstream Strategies, to base his remarks on, he certainly could see what was then quite evident and what the report makes abundantly clear. West Virginia’s economically accessible coal supply is dwindling and the costs of being a coal supplier are going up. The report calculates that when all the costs are compared with the benefits, coal costs West Virginia more –$97.5 million more in 2009 – than it benefits the state.

    The benefits are obvious: Direct and indirect jobs in the tens of thousands and tax revenues in the hundreds of millions. The costs are less obvious and often go uncalculated. For instance, the total tax revenues related to the coal industry’s direct jobs in 2009 was ~$125.5 million but the state expenditures in support of those jobs was ~$125.9 million.

    On the whole, it is true that the coal industry still generates a lot of money for West Virginia. But when things like the compromised health and work injuries that come from working in the industry and things like the wear and tear on the state's roads and infrastructure are paid off, the state comes out a loser from hosting its coal industry.

    In this season of graduations, it is worth noting that while so-called smart people continue to sneer that the New Energies can never be big enough to replace the Old and Dirty Energies, Senator Byrd showed that it is never too late to learn. Now that he has gone to his final graduation, perhaps it is time for his beloved state to pay close attention to his last strong advice about coal:

    “The future of coal and indeed of our total energy picture,” Byrd, one of West Virginia’s greatest champions, wrote, “lies in change and innovation. In fact, the future of American industrial power and our economic ability to compete globally depends on our ability to advance energy technology…West Virginians can choose to anticipate change and adapt to it, or resist and be overrun by it. One thing is clear. The time has arrived for the people of the Mountain State to think long and hard about which course they want to choose.”

    Lots of red ink. (click to enlarge)

    The report is based on compiled West Virginia (WV) budget data, estimated tax revenues, and budget expenditures for Fiscal Year 2009 (July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009).

    WV’s Northern and Central Appalachia coal basins produce ~one-third of U.S. coal. In 2008, the state produced ~164 million tons of coal and employed 22,493 miners, managers, and upper-level staff. Five counties produced 50+% of the state’s coal.

    Production levels fluctuate but WV's peak output was 177.5 million tons in 1997. It fell off 11% through 2007 before 2008’s slight uptick. Underground production has fallen 25% but the generally less expensive surface mining has increased 20%.

    While coal is already costing WV more than it brings in, coming changes are likely to make coal even more costly.

    click to enlarge

    Factors that are likely to make coal less cost-competitive: (1) The depletion of the lowest-cost reserves, (2) implementation of the Clean Air Interstate Rule, (3) climate legislation that prices greenhouse gas emissions (GhGs), (4) tighter restrictions on mercury emissions, (5) regulations of coal ash and other combustion wastes, and (6) pending restrictions on the valley fills that make mountaintop removal mining especially environmentally abhorrent.

    Net impact of the coal industry and employees on West Virginia without consideration of tax expenditures or impacts of indirect coal industry employment: +$193.2 million.

    Complete estimate of coal’s net impact on WV in FY 2009 including tax expenditures and indirect impacts: -$97.5 million.

    Direct revenues from West Virginia’s coal industry: The payment of taxes and fees to the state’s General Revenue Fund and State Road Fund was ~$307.3 million (the coal severance tax, corporate net income tax, business franchise tax, and other taxes). This was ~8% of the General Revenue Fund and less than 1% of the State Road Fund.

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    State budget direct expenditures for West Virginia’s coal industry: ~$113.7 million for FY 2009, spent entirely because of the coal industry and paid for with general revenue and state road funds. Examples: Units of government within the Department of Commerce and Department of Environmental Protection and expenditures for the repair of the state’s coal haul roads.

    Net benefit to WV from direct jobs and budget expenditures (FY 2009): + ~$193.6 million.

    Direct WV off-budget expenditures for the coal industry (FY 2009): ~$173.8 million, in the form of foregone revenues from the tax exemptions, credits, and reduced or preferential tax rates that reduce the money available for other government programs and services.

    Revenues from direct and indirect jobs (FY 2009): 21,012 West Virginia residents were directly employed by coal. Tax revenues from those jobs were ~$125.5 million. There was also about ~$167.9 million in state revenues from indirect coal industry jobs.

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    Expenditures from direct and indirect jobs (FY 2009): Supporting the direct jobs cost the state ~$125.9 million. Supporting the indirect jobs cost the state ~$284.8 million.

    The net loss to West Virginia on direct jobs in FY 2009 was $0.4 million. The net loss to the state from indirect jobs in FY 2009 was ~$116.9 million.

    Coal’s legacy costs, 1: When coal mine operators leave mines incompletely reclaimed, the state bears the cost of polluted drainage, drinking water contamination, and health and safety threats. West Virginia had 4,391 abandoned mine lands in 2009. $464 million has been spent on them. $1.5 billion of work is still necessary. The main funding mechanism to reclaim bond forfeiture sites is insufficient and will expire in 2022. If no action is taken to impose the cost of reclaiming these sites on the coal industry, a further substantial burden will fall to the state.

    Coal’s legacy costs, 2: The virtually non-stop caravanning of coal carrying trucks has a devastating impact on the state’s roads and bridges. The cost for dealing with what is done by overweight coal trucks is ~$4.0 billion. If the state spends ~$200 million per year to repair and replace infrastructure and all coal trucks stop now, it would take 20 years to bring the state's roads and bridges back.

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    Coal’s legacy costs, 3: West Virginia’s “Old Fund” covers workers’ compensation debt accumulated prior to 2005 for unfunded liabilities from coal industry injuries and deaths. It cost the state ~$115.5 million of coal’s revenues in FY 2009.

    When all revenues and expenditures are considered, the coal industry cost West Virginia ~$97.5 million in FY 2009. The numbers are the numbers. Senator Byrd was entirely right. It is time to think about innovation and change.

    Recommended policy changes to insure that coal industry costs are paid from revenues from the coal industry and not by the taxpayer:
    (1) Maintain the workers’ compensation coal tax revenues and create a Permanent Economic Diversification Fund.
    (2) Increase the coal severance tax rate and distribute the monies to coal-producing counties.
    (3) Restructure the thin-seam tax credit.
    (4) Match funding of reclamation and water treatment to present and future needs.
    (5) Increase the per-ton fee on coal haul trucks to match road repair needs.
    (6) Increase fines for exceeding permitted haul weights to match the harm it does to roads.

    Because mining is expected to produce less revenue and cost more, it is vital to be sure the industry provides not only for its yearly costs but for its legacy costs as well. New policies may be needed.

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    Bottom line: The impacts of coal go far beyond traditional accountings of revenues and expenditures, especially when legacy costs from past and future coal industry activity are considered. It is vital for West Virginia to attend to having funds available for such impacts on the local and state economies, on the environment, and on the health of West Virginia residents.

    And it is time for West Virginians to start thinking about the immense and barely-tapped potential of their state's New Energy assets.

    click to enlarge

    - From the report on the costs of WV coal: “Coal plays a significant role in West Virginia’s economy, contributing hundreds of millions of dollars in state and local revenue and providing well-paying jobs to tens of thousands of West Virginians. However, the size of the coal economy, while substantial, is not as considerable as previous accounts suggest. Further, such accounts have only presented coal’s benefits; our estimates provide an initial accounting of both benefits and costs. As estimated in this report, the industry itself—including its direct and indirect employees—actually costs West Virginia state taxpayers more than it provides. Such an accounting is important, for projected declines in production, should they prove accurate, will further diminish coal’s contribution to state revenues, while the negative impacts resulting from coal industry activity will result in ongoing costs to the state and its citizens.”


    New Report Provides Blueprint for Building Domestic Wind Energy Component Supply Chain; BlueGreen Alliance, American Wind Energy Association, and USW Provide “Manufacturing Blueprint” to Build Out Domestic Wind Energy Supply Chain and Create U.S. Manufacturing Jobs
    June 28, 2010 (American Wind Energy Association)

    "According to a report…[from] the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), BlueGreen Alliance and the United Steelworkers, the U.S. wind industry can create tens of thousands of additional jobs manufacturing wind turbines and components if the U.S. passes long-term policies that create a stable market for the domestic wind energy supply chain…

    "Winds of Change: A Manufacturing Blueprint for the Wind Industry highlights growth for the American wind industry despite the absence of a long-term and stable market for wind energy, or policies to support wind’s manufacturing sector. While the growth in wind energy manufacturing has been steady — growing from 2,500 workers in 2004 to 18,500 in 2009 — tens of thousands of additional jobs manufacturing wind turbines and components, such as towers, gearboxes, and bearings, could be created with policies that establish a long-term, stable market and support the manufacturing sector’s transition to the wind industry…"

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    "…The report recommends a federal [Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) requiring that U.S. utilities obtain 25% of their power from New Energy sources by 2025] with meaningful mid-term targets, regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, and policies specifically aimed at building the U.S. wind energy manufacturing sector…"

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    "Along with the RES, specific policies aimed at building the wind manufacturing sector include extending and strengthening the Recovery Act’s convertible tax credit program (1603), fully funding the Green Jobs Act, building a transmission grid infrastructure to meet the demand for clean energy and utilizing loan guarantee programs for commercial manufacturing of clean energy.

    "The report recommends passing Senator Sherrod Brown’s IMPACT Act, which creates a state-level revolving loan fund to help small- and medium-sized manufacturers retool for clean energy markets and adopt energy efficient manufacturing. The report also recommends extending and strengthening the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit with specific incentives and accountability provisions to maximize domestic job creation, including giving highest priority to projects that manufacture clean energy component parts."

    Italy Surpasses USA in Solar PV; Installing More Every Two Months than California in an Entire Year
    Paul Gipe, June 28, 2010 (Wind-Works)

    "In a dramatic display of the power feed-in tariffs have in driving markets, Italy installed more solar photovoltaics (PV) in 2009 than the entire US. Moreover, within the first quarter of 2010, Italy's total installed solar PV capacity was expected to exceed that of the US.

    "Italy installed 720 MW of solar PV in 2009, nearly all of that on rooftops. In contrast, the US installed 435 MW during the same period…Italy introduced a system of feed-in tariffs for solar PV in February, 2007…By the end of 2007, Italy had installed five times more solar PV than in the previous year. Despite numerous bureaucratic roadblocks, the solar industry took off in 2008 and installed nearly 350 MW, then a record-breaking number. Solar PV installations have been doubling since then and are expected to reach 1,500 MW in 2010."

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    "Italy is three-fourths the size of California, with which it is often compared because of their similarly-sized economies. Italy has a population of 60 million, to California's 40 million. The population of the US is five times that of Italy.

    "Italy is now the world's second largest annual market for solar PV, after Germany…[T]here were 1,250 MW of total installed solar PV capacity in the US at the end of 2009…[and] the US is installing 40-50 MW per month…Italy [is installing] 125 MW per month. At this pace, Italy surpassed the US in total installed PV capacity before the end of the first quarter and likely by the end of February, 2010…Italy is installing more capacity--250 MW--every two months than California is installing per year."

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    "By the end of 2010, Italy will have a total installed capacity of more than 2,500 MW. This is two and one-half times more capacity than expected in California, and one and one-half times more than expected in the US…Italy's 2007 decree also set a solar PV target of 1,200 MW…[which they reached] earlier this year.

    "…The proposed revision to [Italy’s] feed-in tariff program…currently waiting approval, reduces the tariffs and sets a new target of 3,000 MW for the three-year period from 2011 to 2013…[It] cuts the tariffs 18% in three equal steps of 6% during each of the first three quarters in 2011…93% of all solar PV in Italy is installed on rooftops in distributed applications…"

    'Carbon storage' faces leak dilemma – study
    27 June 2010 (AFP)

    "Dreams of braking global warming by storing carbon emissions from power plants could be undermined by the risk of leakage, according to a [new] study…

    "Rich countries have earmarked tens of billions of dollars of investment in carbon capture and storage (CCS), a technology that is still only at an experimental stage…[that would capture]…carbon dioxide (CO2)…from plants that are big burners of oil, gas and coal…[and] buried in the deep ocean or piped into underground chambers…"

    click to enlarge

    "CCS supporters say the sequestered carbon would slow the pace of man-made warming. It would buy time for politicians to forge an effective treaty…Critics say CCS could be dangerous if the stored gas returns to the atmosphere. They also argue that its financial cost, still unknown, could be far greater than tackling the source of the problem itself.

    new research, published by the journal Nature Geoscience, wades into the debate with an estimate of capturing enough carbon to help limit warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit)…Storing CO2 in the ocean will contribute to acidification of the sea, with dangers that reverberate up the food chain…It also carries a higher risk of being returned to the atmosphere by ocean currents and storms."

    click to enlarge

    "Underground storage is a better option, but only if the geological chamber does not have a significant leak or is breached by an earthquake or some other movement…The gas will have to be stored for tens of thousands of years to avoid becoming a threat to future generations, a scenario similar to that for nuclear waste…[L]ess than one percent of the stored volume [per 1,000 years] can be allowed to leak…To offset any bigger leak, re-sequestration [i.e., grabbing and storing an equivalent amount of CO2 from the air]…would be needed…But this would be a cost burden that could last for millennia…

    "Until only recently, CCS was widely dismissed as fantasy or a last-ditch option…In 2008, the Group of Eight (G8) summit recommended launching 20 large-scale CCS demonstration projects by 2010…[O]ver the past two years, countries have committed 26 billion dollars in CCS projects…"

    KEMA, California ISO Examine Renewables Integration, Energy Storage
    23 June 2010 (KEMA via Renew Grid)

    "KEMA and the California Independent System Operator (California ISO) recently completed a collaborative research project that modeled the effects that high levels of renewable generation would have on the grid and examined how grid-connected electricity storage could be used to accommodate renewables on the system.

    "KEMA concludes that accommodating 33% renewable generation by 2020 (the state's renewable portfolio standard) will require major alterations to system operations…[and] notes that California may need between 3 GW and 5 GW or more of conventional (fossil-fuel-powered or hydroelectric) generation to meet load and planning reserve requirements."

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    "Existing studies have generally concluded that the variability and high-ramping characteristics of renewable generation create operational issues for grid operators. [Research Evaluation of Wind Genration, Solar Generation and Storage Impact on the California Grid] quantifies these effects with a dynamic model that simulates system performance on a time scale of one second or less…"

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    "The report analyzes the effect of increasing renewable energy generation on California's electricity system and assesses and quantifies the system's ability to keep generation and energy consumption in balance…

    "The study also examines the relative benefit of deploying fast-response electricity storage versus utilizing conventional generation to regulate and balance load requirements…[It] concludes that a 30 MW to 50 MW storage device is as effective as a 100 MW combustion turbine used for regulation…The prospective benefits to California from the development of fast electricity storage resources for use in system regulation, balancing, and renewable ramping mitigation are significant…"

    Monday, June 28, 2010


    Analysis of the American Power Act
    June 15, 2010 (ClimateWorks Foundation)

    It’s kind of funny to listen to the so-called experts talk about the fight for energy and climate legislation reportedly coming to the Senate floor in July. Never have so many experts sounded so befuddled.

    This is what is happening: Because of the Gulf oil spill, the situation has gone from dormant to dynamic. The death of Senator Byrd (D-WV) only adds uncertainty. The fate of any legislation is now unpredictable, so everybody – everybody left in the game, that is – is taking their best shot.

    Besides measures to deal with offshore oil drilling – like increased liability requirements for drillers and reform of the Minerals Management Service (MMS) that oversees the drilling) – what will the legislation contain? Perhaps nothing else and perhaps much more.

    Among the proposals, the Kerry-Lieberman (KL) American Power Act (APA), is probably the leading candidate at this fluid moment. The competing Bingaman American Clean Energy and Leadership Act (ACELA) avoids a crucial element in the KL bill and includes a key element missing in KL. A third piece of legislation, the Cantwell-Collins Carbon Limits and Energy for America’s Renewal Act (CLEAR), is undoubtedly the most interesting and least likely of the bills. Its chief virtues may be that it is brief and very different. The newest in the competition is Senator Lugar’s Practical Energy and Climate Plan (PECP), which capitalizes on the furor around the Gulf oil spill by calling for stronger vehicle fuel efficiency standards.

    Analysis of the American Power Act, from the ClimateWorks Foundation, is the newest in what will surely be a long line of studies supporting each approach and rejecting the others. It follows on Assessing the American Power Act (see AN ECONOMIC LOOK AT THE SENATE ENERGY/CLIMATE BILL) in showing multiple benefits from KL.

    As documented by ClimateWorks, KL’s main thrusts are its cap on greenhouse gas emissions (GhGs) and its emphasis on funding and implementing Energy Efficiency (EE).

    click to enlarge

    To the disappointment of the New Energy industries, KL has no Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) requiring all regulated U.S. utilities to obtain a specific portion of their power from New Energy sources by a specific year. The Bingaman ACELA does have an RES.

    KL puts all its effort into getting a cap on GhGs - any cap, as a starter. It will be a major accomplishment. The premise for this KL goal was validated by Evaluating Renewable Portfolio Standards and Carbon Cap Scenarios, a recent study from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (see THE BEST THINGS FOR THE BEST ENERGY-CLIMATE BILL). The study found a cap is likely to result in more New Energy and less coal use than an RES.

    The problem is that a cap is the bane of conservatives. As demonstrated by the ACELA proposal by Senator Bingaman, which has no cap, conservatives reject the many studies showing a GhG cap will not significantly raise utility rates and they ignore the provisions in KL that return revenues to businesses and ratepayers most harmed by the impacts of a cap.

    Conservatives have successfully labeled Cap&Trade as “cap-and-tax” and made it politically untenable. The Bingaman ACELA, which eschews Cap&Trade and includes the New Energy industries-favored RES, is the perfect anti-KL option. That is why Senators Cantwell and Collins are pushing Cap&Dividend

    click to enlarge

    The Cantwell-Collins CLEAR Act Cap&Dividend proposal is a straightforward way to impose a cap using a simple framework. So far, it has avoided being labeled a tax because, instead of imposing IRS-like complexity, it directly rebates most of the revenues from its cap to citizens and allots the balance to the building of New Energy and Energy Efficiency infrastructure. (See CAP&DIVIDEND CLEAR-ED…)

    The Lugar Practical Energy and Climate Plan (PECP) avoids the GhG-capping controversy and New Energy issues by centering almost entirely on Gulf oil spill-related measures and calling for stronger vehicle fuel efficiency standards. It is ideal for conservatives who want to give no significant ground and it could become part of something larger and more substantive as the floor fight proceeds.

    Both the Peterson Institute and ClimateWorks studies, using substantive research and statistical analyses, insist KL, whatever its complexities, is not a “subversive tax.”

    ClimateWorks Foundation used McKinsey & Company's Low Carbon Economics Tool to conclude KL will (1) grow 540,000 more jobs than business-as-usual (BAU) from 2012 to 2030, (2) cut residential utility bills $35 per year through 2020, (3) sustain a 2.3% per year growth in the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) through 2030, and (4) cut U.S. GhGs 45% below BAU by 2030.

    With revenues raised by capping GhGs and auctioning permits to very big emitters like power plants and heavy industries, ClimateWorks finds KL will drive the transition to a New Energy economy by motivating investment in and implementation of New Energy (NE) and Energy Efficiency (EE) on a significant scale.

    The ClimateWorks study uses a variety of McKinsey economic modeling tools to conclude that such a transition to a New Energy economy will drive job gains across the manufacturing, construction, services, health, trade, and other sectors of the U.S. economy.

    From SenatorCantwell via YouTube

    McKinsey & Company’s Low Carbon Economics Tool is widely acknowledged as a detailed and unbiased set of interlinked economic models. It was designed to determine the costs and greenhouse gas emission (GhG) reductions from a given policy proposal.

    ClimateWorks assumed a significant economic impact from New Energy (NE) and Energy Efficiency (EE) even with business-as-usual (BAU). It found, however, that KL will accelerate those impacts through 3 key mechanisms: (1) a price on GhGs, (2) funding for investment in and implementation of NE and EE, and (3) EE standards.

    click to enlarge

    BAU will increase employment in the health care, services, trade and other sectors of the U.S. economy by 12 million from 2012 to 2030. There will also be 4.1 million fewer industrial jobs in construction, manufacturing, utilities, and natural resources. That is a net gain of 8 million jobs.

    With KL, economy-wide investments will lead to 110,000 more net jobs being retained from 2012 to 2020 and 150,000 more retained to 2030. Overall, there will be 440,000 more jobs than BAU from 2012 to 2020 and 540,000 more to 2030. Considering the other pluses from the legislation (GhG reductions, little harm to GDP or residential utility bills), these are impressive job numbers.

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    The legislation will keep Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth about the same, ~$9 billion per year from 2012 to 2030, as BAU. The idea behind the legislation is to protect growth and electricity ratepayers while growing jobs and cutting GhGs.

    Because of the cap, offset opportunities and the EE standards in the bill, GhGs drop significantly – to 45% below BAU – through 2030.

    The most GhG cuts will come from offset opportunities, part of which will necessarily come from offsetting international sources. As a result of the cap, the most GhG cuts will come from the shift to increased electricity generation by nuclear, “clean” coal (CCS), and New Energy. The third major source of GhG cuts will come from Energy Efficiency in buildings and industry. The bill will have little impact on GhGs in the transportation sector.

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    The caps will cause electricity and natural gas prices to increase but reductions in energy consumption and rebates to consumers from local distribution companies (LDCs) will offset the price increases and protect ratepayers.

    By imposing a cap on GhGs, auctioning allowances and creating a marketplace for allowances, the electricity sector, which emits 40% of U.S. GhGs, will shift by 2030 away from dirty coal to EE, CCS, New Energy and nuclear. The EE standard in the bill will also drive EE gains. The low-interest loans and accelerated deprecation for new nuclear plants will grow nuclear. ~$94 billion of the auction revenues are dedicated to the development of CCS.

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    The bill has no RES and only dedicates $5 billion to New Energy because research shows a cap will drive the growth of New Energy more than such measures.

    The bill contains an Energy Efficiency resource standard (EERS) requiring utilities to advance EE because such measures are so cost-effective and within a few years generate ~$3 of savings for each $1 invested, money that can be invested in building NE and EE infrastructure. Such EE measures have not yet been enacted because of market barriers and lack of awareness, obstacles the EERS will break through.

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    Because it is labor-intensive, EE increases jobs and GDP quickly. It boosts GDP over the longer term by cutting energy consumption and driving down the allowance price.

    EE will save $312 billion by 2030, one-third from industrial efficiency and two-thirds from building improvements. McKinsey & Company has estimated there are 5 times more savings available by 2020, the largest parts from building retrofits, better lighting and more efficient appliances, and improved industry practices. Tools to achieve such measures are (1) stronger codes and standards, (2) financial incentives, and (3) decoupling of utility profits from sales.

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    From the ClimateWorks Foundation report: “The study finds that an economy-wide cap on GHG emissions would have significant impacts on US energy production and use. The model predicts a transition to low-carbon energy sources and energy efficiency in response to carbon pricing, incentives linked to carbon allowances, and supporting efficiency standards…The economic implications of this energy transition are complex, but the model points to investments in energy efficiency and new power sources as a primary stimulant of economic activity, particularly employment. In this way, the cap drives job gains in many sectors…”


    Consumers Signs Up For 240 Megawatts of New Michigan-Based Renewable Energy
    27 June 2010 (Great Lakes Innovation and Technology Report)

    "…Consumers Energy has reached power purchase agreements with independent developers for more than 240 megawatts of new Michigan-based renewable energy capacity.

    "The agreements support Consumers Energy's Balanced Energy Initiative…a comprehensive 20-year plan to meet the needs of its 1.8 million electric customers with a balanced energy portfolio, including energy efficiency, renewable energy and customer demand management…"

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    "The power purchase agreements are for 20 years and have been submitted for approval to the Michigan Public Service Commission. The new renewable energy projects are:

    "…John Deere Wind Energy, based in Johnston, Iowa, will develop its Michigan Wind 2 farm…[It] will provide 90 megawatts…beginning in 2012…John Deere Wind Energy will develop its Harvest II Windfarm project…[It] will provide 59.4 megawatts…beginning in late 2012…John Deere Wind Energy and Great Lakes Wind, LLC, will develop their Blissfield Wind Energy project…[It] will provide 81 megawatts…beginning in late 2012…Waste Management Renewable Energy…will develop an additional landfill gas electric generation facility at its Pine Tree Acres landfill…The project will provide 12.8 megawatts of renewable energy capacity to Consumers Energy beginning in 2012…"

    This is a good start but the real answer to Michigan's energy - and economic - needs is on the wind on the Great Lakes. (click to enlarge)

    "The power purchase agreements support Consumers Energy's plan to increase its renewable energy supply portfolio to 10 percent by 2015 to meet the requirements of Michigan's energy reform law…Consumers Energy is the largest supplier of renewable energy in Michigan. More than 4 percent of [its] power…comes from renewable sources based in the state. Energy from the four new projects will bring the total expected supply from renewable sources to over 6.2 percent…

    "Once ready for construction, the new wind projects are each expected to create between 150 and 200 construction jobs…"

    Thin solar panels to be built in southwest Idaho
    (June 24, 2010 (AP)

    "…[Transform Solar] formed by Boise-based Micron Technology Inc. and Origin Energy of Australia…[plan] to start making extremely thin but highly efficient solar cells that will be available next year.

    "Transform Solar officials say the so-called sliver solar cells will be made at a plant in Boise where Micron once made computer chips, and the cells will be combined into solar panels at another plant owned by Micron in Nampa…Transform Solar has hired 70 employees and expects to hire up to 50 more, with most of the jobs based in southwest Idaho."

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    "Micron and Origin late last year announced the agreement that officials said takes advantage of Origin's experience in energy markets and Micron's expertise in making thin semiconductors… Transform Solar's manufacturing and research will be based in southwest Idaho, and more research and development will be done in Adelaide, Australia.

    "Company officials say that because the sliver solar cells are so thin, the cost of the silicon used to make them can be reduced by 90 percent, making the cells competitive in the crowded solar energy field…[T]he cells are less than 50 microns, or less than two-thousandths of an inch, making them the thinnest in production, and bifacial, meaning they can capture sun energy from both faces."

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    "Earlier this month, Transform Solar introduced its sliver technology at the Intersolar trade show in Germany…Boise Mayor Dave Bieter announced earlier this month that solar panels using the technology will be used in a $45 million facility proposed by Sunergy World near the Boise Airport that will be able to generate 10 megawatts…

    "Elected leaders in the region are hoping the hiring of workers to build the panels is a sign of better times ahead…"

    US unveils roadmap to produce 36 billion gallons of biofuel by 2022
    25 June 2010 (Energy Efficiency News)

    "US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack unveiled a roadmap…outlining a regional strategy to help meet the target of 36 billion gallons of biofuel by 2022…

    "The US Department of Agriculture (USDA)
    [Regional Roadmap] identifies numerous biomass feedstocks – including switchgrass, corn, crop residues and municipal waste – that could be used to produce biofuel and calls for further research into new feedstocks, sustainable production methods and efficient conversion technologies."

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    "The main obstacle to reaching the country’s target of 36 billion gallons of biofuel by 2022 is the currently restricted market, because of the small number of flex fuel vehicles and the inability of standard vehicles to use higher biofuel blends.

    "The report calls for a rapid expansion of blender pumps and flex fuel vehicles, as well as approval of higher blends of ethanol in conventional fuels."

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    "The USDA also wants to see biorefineries sited in areas of “economic distress”, where biofuel production can be a boon for poor rural areas.

    "Growth Energy, a coalition of ‘ethanol supporters’, has welcomed the report and USDA’s plan of action…"

    Listen! Hear Nissan Leaf's space-age sound to warn pedestrians
    June 25, 2010 (USA Today)

    "…[F]rom [all the] sounds in the world…Nissan just made it's choice [of one to warn pedestrians that a super-quiet electric car is about pass by], and it sounds…sort of like a mix of a jet engine and the cartoon Jetsons' spacecraft…The noise is going into [Nissan’s] first electric car, the Leaf, which goes on sale later this year…"

    Forward. From GMVolt via YouTube

    Reverse. From GMVolt via YouTube

    "…Don't like the noise? Nissan installed a switch in the car that allows drivers to turn it off, but that feature is raising concerns from groups representing the blind…[Reports say] the sound was four years in the making, and was developed with the help of acoustic psychology experts at Vanderbilt University, a Hollywood sound studio, and others. The sound had to be audible to a wide range of people, especially old people and the hearing impaired. Nissan says it went through 100 different sounds…"