NewEnergyNews: 07/01/2010 - 08/01/2010/


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

    Saturday, July 31, 2010

    Climate Crock Of The Week, Heat Wave 2010 Edition Part 1

    It is NOT global warming, it is GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE. The average global temperature has been steadily rising since impacts of the industrial revolution started. It is rising much faster than any natural phenomenon or combination of phenomena could otherwise explain. Deniers can lie and twist WEATHER reports however they like but it will not contradict what is undeniably happening to the CLIMATE. Part 2 is below. From greenman3610 via YouTube

    Living Legend Pete Seeger On The Oil Spill

    Dan Ariely, behavioral economist, Duke University: "Climate change is a problem that is perfectly designed to make people do nothing: it happens far in the future; its effects will be felt most greatly by other people; and the efforts of any one individual are miniscule." Part 2 of Peter Sinclair’s heat wave special on climate change is below but take a little musical break first. This is the legendary Pete Seeger, 91 years young, still protesting and still showing what the determined voice of one individual can mean. “When drill baby drill turns to spill baby spill…” From Extramission1 via YouTube

    Climate Crock Of The Week, Heat Wave 2010 Edition Part 2

    The last decade is the hottest ever recorded. Over 90% of all scientific observations of the earth’s ecosystem are consistent with a precipitous global average temperature increase that cannot be explained absent the impact of greenhouse gas emissions generated by human activity. Global weirding is happening now. From greenman3610 via YouTube

    Friday, July 30, 2010


    EPA rejects challenge to climate rules
    Darren Samuelsohn, July 29, 2010 (Politico)

    "The Environmental Protection Agency… rejected an effort to keep it from regulating greenhouse gas emissions, saying that e-mails released in last fall’s “Climategate” scandal gave it no reason to reconsider the science of global warming.

    "In a sternly written opinion, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said she didn’t agree with requests from the GOP attorneys general from Texas and Virginia, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other conservative groups that questioned the underlying science linking humans to global warming and also warned of the potential economic burdens from new climate rules."

    Based on observable, measureable data, the earth is warming and human activity is driving it. (click to enlarge)

    "EPA last December concluded that greenhouse gases are a threat to public health and welfare, a decision clearing the way this spring for climate-based regulations for new cars and trucks. Next year, the agency is expected to write standards for power plants and other major industrial sources of heat-trapping gases.

    "In their petitions, EPA’s opponents had highlighted stolen e-mails from prominent climate scientists that they allege showed collusion to hide contrary information debunking global warming… Jackson said the groups’ arguments lack merit…Regarding the e-mails, Jackson said…[the EPA review and] four independent reviews [found them to be a candid discussion of scientists working through large complex data sets]…"

    About those emails... (click to enlarge)

    "EPA’s rules have added weight for the Obama administration now that the Senate has punted for the year on plans to pass a cap-and-trade bill to address climate change…Opponents are [also] suing to overturn EPA’s “endangerment finding” in federal appeals court, but that case sits on hold pending Jackson’s decision…Oral arguments in the lawsuit are unlikely until next spring, with a final decision expected by the summer…

    "EPA’s critics are also trying to stop the agency on Capitol Hill. A House Appropriations subcommittee last week rejected an amendment to EPA’s annual spending bill to put a two-year hold on EPA’s climate rules for power plants. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) earlier this week filed a similar proposal to the small-business bill now on the floor, though it’s unlikely she’ll win a vote…President Barack Obama would most likely veto any bill that reached his desk to stop the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases, a White House official said…"


    Concentrated Solar Thermal Power Capacity Continues Growing Despite Economic Uncertainty
    26 July 2010 (CSP Today)

    "Concentrated Solar Thermal Power (CSP) bucks the downward economic trend by continuing to grow apace despite tough economic times…In Spain, despite widespread fears of government over borrowing and economic difficulties, the industry added 320 MW from the beginning of 2009 until June 2010, increasing operating CSP capacity by 500%.

    "Enthusiasm for the Spanish market was briefly dampened by regulatory uncertainty but doubts have now been dispelled as the CSP industry reached an agreement with the government over feed-in-tariffs, clearing the way for the completion of the 1500 MW of projects currently under construction."

    From the CSP Today report (click to enlarge)

    "…[This] is likely to be repeated across other markets. After a slow start, the US market is expected to grow explosively in the coming years with 10 GW of projects under development. As in Spain, government support has been instrumental in supporting CSP. In the USA, the largest projects to go ahead in recent times, Brightsource Energy’s 400 MW Ivanpah project and Abengoa’s 250 MW Solana plant have been backed up by Loan Guarantees from the federal government."

    From the CSP Today report (click to enlarge)

    "New markets are also opening up all around the world. Australia is starting to wake up to its solar potential with 817 MW of projects under development…[I]n India…government incentives, given by the India Solar Mission, have encouraged the construction of 20 MW and 130 MW of project announcements…[Of new] markets, the largest build up of CSP capacity [is] expected in MENA where 1430 MW of projects have been announced…spurred by funding from various supra-national and industry bodies such as the World Bank, the Union for the Mediterranean, the Desertec Industrial Initiative and the Evergreen project.

    "This new build up in CSP capacity represents a great opportunity for suppliers and service providers in the industry. According to CSP Today’s new report,
    The Concentrated Solar Power Markets Report, the US market alone could be worth as much as US$ 70 billion. Were the ambitious build up programs in other countries to get of the ground the figure could be five times as high."


    New, Split-up Corruption-Proofed MMS Gets Application for Off-Shore Wind; The breakup of the Minerals Management Service into three separated parts after the drilling disaster exposed the depths of the corruption of the old MMS, has also yielded a new focus on clean energy from the ocean, and a 700 MW off-shore wind project off of Long Island may be the first test of corruption-free permitting.
    Susan Kraemer, July 13, 2010 (Clean Technica via Scientific American)

    "The breakup of the Minerals Management Service [MMS] into three separated parts after the drilling disaster exposed the depths of the corruption of the old MMS, has also yielded a new focus on clean energy from the ocean, and a 700 MW off-shore wind project off of Long Island may be the first test…A consortium of New York utilities has just applied for a permit to start feasibility studies…

    "At 14 miles out to sea, the turbines would be scarcely visible from land. The New York Power Authority, which gets 75% of its power from hydro, had originally tried for a much smaller 150 MW farm there in 2003, but the project had been shelved in 2006, due to escalating cost estimates…The new consortium comprises New York utility ConEd, the Long Island Power Authority, and the NYPA itself, which is the largest state-owned utility in the US."

    click to enlarge

    "The application goes to the Obama administration’s newly formed Bureau of Ocean Energy (BOE) which will focus more developing on renewable energy rather than primarily fossil energy as MMS did. But…[tp] end the corruption made inevitable by both permits and receipts being handled within one entity, the old MMS is now split into distinct entities…[and the new BOE] may neither grant permits nor collect royalties."

    click to enlarge

    "Instead, a new Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) will now grant (or refuse) permits after environmental reviews, and a newly formed agency the Office of Natural Resource Revenue (ONRR) will collect the royalties and rents…Despite attempts to reform the MMS from the beginning of the new administration last year, it was still mired in corruption, giving out five minute permits to BP, and only after the widely condemned oil spill was it possible to make the changes needed.

    "The new Bureau of Ocean Energy Management itself will include much more aggressive development of renewable resources off-shore, such as wind and wave energy…The new Long Island wind farm proposal will be the first project to go through permitting under the new split up agencies…The new ethics oversight is just one aspect of the new Department of the Interior. The other side is an increased focus on clean energy and on environmental reviews…"


    The incredible shrinking solar cell; With lilliputian collectors, almost anything could be sun-powered
    Janet Raloff, July 31, 2010 (Science News)

    "The next generation of solar cells will be small. About the size of lint. But the anticipated impact [when they get to the marketplace in 3-to-5 years]: That’s huge…[They] could be embedded in windows without obscuring the view…[or] molded onto the tops of cars or maybe the roofs of buildings…[They] could be rubber-stamped by the millions onto a yard of fabric…[I]t becomes hard to imagine what they couldn’t electrify…

    "The real trick to creating useful and affordable lilliputian solar cells is not just shrinking their overall size, but cutting the amount of silicon (or another costly semiconductor) that is needed…[Instead of] rigid wafers of costly silicon…Sandia’s little cells are less than 10 percent as chunky…[with] minute refractive lenses into glass or plastic plates…Silicon is needed only at the focal point of each lens…The Sandia program, which began in early 2008, is already turning out prototype cells with an energy conversion efficiency of about 15 percent…"

    From Science News (click to enlarge)

    "At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, John Rogers works with even thinner silicon…like a strand of hair…By backing the cells with a reflective material, however, photons that initially evaded the silicon will bounce back for a second chance at collection…The Illinois microcells also rely on concentrators to focus sunlight…

    "After building a block of pure crystalline silicon, the researchers etch out thousands of tiny cells from its surface by cutting around the sides of each one and even underneath…[T]he only thing holding the cells…are tiny anchors of material left at either end of each cell…The scientists then place a soft piece of slightly tacky rubber onto the batch of cells and press down…When they lift…the freed cells come with it…"

    Scehmatic of the Cal Tech concept (From Science News - click to enlarge)

    "Caltech scientists have upended the silicon elements in their microcells and jettisoned the concentrator…[for] a sparse carpet of tiny fibers that stretch up toward the light. In the latest designs the fibers are 100 micrometers long and 1 or 2 percent as wide…Some photons entering the carpet will immediately hit a semiconductor fiber. Many more will miss…But by making the wires effectively long and the carpet’s bottom reflective, photons not initially collected will ricochet repeatedly within the carpet until the silicon collects most of them…

    "To protect and hold the fibers, the Caltech scientists pour a liquid akin to clear bathroom caulk (a polymer that solidifies into a pliable plastic) to fill space separating the carpet’s sparse pile…[It is a] composite array of wires and polymer…[like] a piece of [malleable] Scotch tape…By maximizing photon ricochets within the carpet…[it is] the same light absorption as…100 percent silicon…using only 1 percent as much [silicon]…"


    News Analysis: Eyeing Renewables Target, SDG&E Steps in to Finance NaturEner Project
    Carl Levesque, July 23, 2010 (Wind Energy Weekly)

    "Thanks to financial markets refusing to return to their pre-recession level of health, some dealmakers out West just got a little more creative with their wind farm financing…Utility San Diego Gas & Electric [SDG&E], which is working to meet a state renewable portfolio standard (RPS) that is among the most aggressive in the nation, has agreed to finance up to $600 million for developer NaturEner’s 309-MW Rim Rock Wind project in Montana near the Canadian border…

    "…[SDG&E] expects to have 14% of its electricity coming from renewables this year, well below the 20% California standard, which rises further to 33% in 2020. (Other utilities are behind on the aggressive targets as well.) The deal, therefore, underscores the tremendous impact a renewables standard has—even on the financial side—in getting wind projects built."

    click to enlarge

    "Well before it decided to invest in the facility, SDG&E already had signed a power purchase agreement with NaturEner for the power coming from Rim Rock. Nevertheless, the developer found itself struggling to get project financing, which historically has been the domain of large financial institutions…

    "NaturEner first approached SDG&E with the idea of the utility investing in the wind facility after the developer found that companies that traditionally would provide the financing lacked a sufficient tax appetite during the recession for the production tax credits a wind farm generates…"

    click to enlarge

    "…A utility, with its steady and reliable profits, likely incurs a healthy hit of taxes even during an economic downturn. So the developer approached the utility, which was anxious to tap more wind power to get closer to its renewables target…[T]he deal with SDG&E could pave the way for more such investments by utilities in wind projects…

    "…The California Public Utilities Commission must approve the SDG&E investment, and the project is also contingent on the Montana-Alberta Tie transmission line getting built. (The transmission line is steadily making its way through the regulatory approval process.) The Rim Rock project is slated to be completed by the end of 2012."

    Thursday, July 29, 2010


    Nuclear Energy Loses Cost Advantage
    Diana S. Powers, July 26, 2010 (NY Times)

    16 cents per kilowatt-hour. It doesn’t sound very profound, but its impact could be as big as 9-11 or 1776 or E=MC2.

    The rap against solar is that it is too expensive, right? Wrong. And the big deal about nuclear is that it is so cheap, right? Wrong. In this case, 2 wrongs make a right.

    According to Solar and Nuclear Costs – The Historic Crossover; Solar Energy is Now the Better Buy, from John O. Blackburn, a Duke University professor of economics, solar photovoltaic (PV) energy-generated electricity now costs around 14-to-19 cents per kilowatt-hour (kW-hr) and nuclear plants in the planning stages will not be able to sell their electricity at less than 14-to-18 cents per kW-hr. That makes NOW the “crossover point” at which solar achieves price parity with nuclear and it makes "16 cents per kW-hr" the numeric formulation heralding the arrival of what visionary Hazel Henderson called The Age of Light.

    Nuclear power cost expert Mark Cooper, a senior fellow for economic analysis at Vermont Law School’s Institute for Energy and Environment, says the cost of a nuclear power plant went from ~$3 billion per reactor (average) in 2002 to ~$10 billion per reactor (average) in 2010. (Costs are, of course, somewhat variable by region.) (See THE TOO, TOO COSTLY CASE OF NUCLEAR POWER)

    Opponents of solar PV often say it is only competitive because of subsidies. But a report in 2000 – when nuclear plants were only enormously expensive and not prohibitively expensive – found that ~$151 billion in federal subsidies went to the wind, solar and nuclear industries and 96.3% of it went to nuclear.

    With the price of nuclear energy-generated electricity steadily rising and the price of solar PV-generated electricity steadily coming down, the Blackburn study predicts the cost of solar PV will be price-competitive WITHOUT subsidies by 2020.

    In late 2009, both Citigroup Global Markets and Moody’s issued official statements warning against investments in nuclear. Even nuclear energy industry advocates can no longer deny the widely reported evidence that nuclear power plants are more and more expensive to build. Marvin Fertel, President and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute, recently issued a statement admitting it is not a good time to invest in nuclear.

    click to enlarge

    The nuclear industry has devised a couple of strategies to get around the unaffordable costs of building their plants. One is to shift the risk to the U.S. government by demanding federal loan guarantees. Another is to shift the risk to ratepayers by using the “construction work in progress” financing system that adds a fee to each utility customer’s bill for new plant construction and keeps them paying for 6-to-12 years before getting any electricity for their investment.

    There are good reasons to reject such multi-hundred billion-to-trillion dollar schemes in favor of using the money to build more cost-effective forms of emissions-free electricity generation infrastructure like wind and solar.

    The 1980s nuclear "boom" is now regarded as a managerial disaster and it cost electricity users an estimated $100 billion.

    Nuclear proponents say that will not happen with modern plant designs and technology but only one of five proposed designs now being considered has ever been built. New technology, no matter how well thought out and tested, inevitably introduces unforeseen complications. Cost over-runs, at the very least, are a veritable certainty on the proposed plants. Cooper said 90% of those with applications pending have had a delay, a design problem, a cost increase or some other financing problem.

    The only thing that keeps proponets’ dream of a “nuclear renaissance” alive is global climate change. Nuclear is, at the plant, emissions-free power generation. Lobbyists have been able to get government attention and negotiate loan guarantees and tax breaks in compromise deals with New Energy advocates fighting for a sliver of subsidy money.

    But a bad investment is a bad investment and some are finally realizing there is little point in throwing good money after bad. Loan guarantees make credit for the billions that go into nuclear plants cheaper but lay all the risk off onto the taxpayer while retaining all the benefit for investors.

    Meanwhile, there are much better ways to use taxpayer money. New Energy (NE) and Energy Efficiency (EE) grow ever less costly and could easily meet rising demand for emissions-free electricity generation at a much lower cost. Only electricity generated by nuclear reactors built before Ronald Reagan left the Presidency is cheaper than NE and EE.

    A calculation from Cooper found that the 100 new plants proposed by the advocates of a nuclear renaissance would cost taxpayers and electricity users $1.9 trillion-to-$4.4 trillion more than a similar investment in NE and EE capacity.

    As Cooper pointed out recently, the very fact of the “nuclear renaissance” PR pitch demonstrates the industry cannot win its way with real numbers. What th4e nuclear industry is now discovering is that Wall Street knows the difference between a PR pitch and a good investment. If only Capitol Hill could make the distinction.

    click to enlarge

    The cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems has fallen steadily for a decade and is expected to continue doing so for another decade.

    The cost of nuclear power plants has risen steadily for decades and is expected to continue doing so for the foreseeable future.

    In 2010, the 2 costs crossed in North Carolina. New solar installations now generate electricity that is less expensive than the cost of electricity would be from proposed new nuclear plants.

    Though North Carolina’s utilities – like utilities across the country – are clinging to old ways and the Old Energies, it would appear the state will be a proving ground for getting by with New Energy (NE) and Energy Efficiency (EE) and without nuclear because state law requires generators of electricity system to follow a “least-cost” path.

    Many major utilities still seem oblivious to cost trends in energy economics. Electricity costs will go up, inevitably, but they will go up more for those who do not build 21st century sources of generation and institute EE.

    click to enlarge

    Commercial-scale solar developers now offer North Carolina utilities electricity at 14 cents or less per kW-hr. Duke Energy and Progress Energy, the state’s 2 biggest investor-owned utilities (IUOs), are buying relatively little solar and pushing ahead with plans for new nuclear power plants despite the fact that projections see them paying 14-to-18 cents per kW-hr for nuclear energy-generated electricity.

    On subsidies: Solar PV is just emerging as a utility-scale generation source and warrants subsidies to allow it to continue emerging. The Blackburn study foresees present support allowing it to mature to price-parity without subsidies by 2020.

    Nuclear plants continue to require subsidies after 40 years as a commercial generation source. This is inappropriate. It is the federal government backing a loser. The Blackburn study found no projections that nuclear will ever be price-competitive without subsidies.

    The success of EE over the last 3 decades has proven the cheapest method, superior to new generation, of controlling demand. Where EE has been aggressively and effectively applied, demand has grown only a little. It is expected that EE will grow more and per capita electricity demand will decline.

    Even with the expanded use of battery electric vehicles (BEVs), fossil fuel consumption will decline because cars use electricity more efficiently than they use petroleum fuels. The grid will supply much BEV charging with off-peak power generated by wind and mouch of the rest with peak power generated by solar.

    click to enlarge

    Grid operators are learning to effectively integrate New Energy sources at up to a 35% penetration.

    Distributed generation such as small wind, solar rooftop PV and solar water heating are further diminishing power demand.

    Industry and commercial buildings are being adapted to use combined heat and power (cogeneration) to reduce consumption.

    These efficiencies make coal and nuclear plants wasteful and expensive. Coal and nuclear plants also require excessive amounts of water in a world in which the waste of water is becoming expensive.

    In short, the traditional utility business model of “build plants; sell power” is becoming obsolete.

    click to enlarge

    Research at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory that tracked the price of solar PV showed it going from $12 per installed watt in 1998 to $8 in 2008 (average). Costs declined even more in 2009 and 2010 when an excess supply of silicon caused a drop in the price of panels.

    The 12-year system cost decline was 50% and the mid-2010 price of solar PV in North Carolina was 12-to-14 cents per kW-hr for large systems and 14-to-19 cents per kW-hr for residential systems for an average of 16 cents.

    The average price in 2020 is expected to be 7.5 cents per kW-hr.

    The cost of solar water heating will follow and heating water is 15-to-25% of a typical homeowner’s utility bill.

    (1) 2009: The world intstalled 7,000 megawatts (MW). Germany did most, almost 3,500 MW. The U.S. did 429 MW. California and New Jersey led in the U.S. North Carolina did 8 MW.
    (2) Cumulative: The world has 22,000+ MW. Germany (~9,000 MW), Spain and Japan led. The U. S had 1653 MW. California had 1102 MW and New Jersey had 128 MW. North Carolina had 13 MW.
    (3) No U.S. nuclear power plants have come online since the late 1980s. Most
    proposed reactors are 1100-to-1200 MW.
    (4) In general, the trend is from centralized power plants to distributed generation.

    click to enlarge

    North Carolina utilities like Duke Energy and Progress Energy support the 2 popular strategies to get around the high cost of new plants, (1) federal loan guarantees and (2) construction work in progress financing.

    Ironically, many who oppose subsidies to the New Energies and bailouts for big banks call for (1) federal loan guarantees for nuclear construction which could leave taxpayers responsible for billions of dollars if cost over-runs occur and (2) federal underwriting of nuclear plant insurance which could leave taxpayers responsible for hundreds of billions or even trillions of dollars if there is a serious accident.

    Utilities, which often oppose increasing power charges for New Energy, advocate increasing ratepayer prices to pay for new nuclear plant construction even if electricity users pay high prices without getting new nuclear generation for 6-to-12 years and even if the nuclear plant is never completed.

    Ironically, the elevated prices charged to finance a nuclear plant can cut demand and eliminate the need for the new plant. This demonstrates how effective well-designed EE programs could be. In addition, new nuclear will permanently raise rates and keep the demand down, making the new plants unnecessary.

    North Carolina’s 2007 Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) has a price cap protecting ratepayers from a too-rapid rate rise. There should also be such a cap for nuclear.

    click to enlarge

    Construction work in progress financing of consumer solar would eliminate the one obstacle to increased solar installations, the high up-front costs.

    During the “nuclear renaissance” of 2000-to-2010, the cost of new nuclear rose from an estimated $2 billion per reactor to an estimated $10 billion per reactor. No new U.S. plants were completed. No new plant will come on line for at least 6 years and most projects are 10-to-12 years from service.

    The Blackburn study puts the cost of nuclear energy-generated electricity at 18+ cents per kW-hr and transmission (which distributed rooftop PV requires very little of) puts the delivered price at 22 cents per kW-hr. Cooper’s work puts the price at 12-to-20 cents per kW-hr, verifying the Blackburn analysis.

    The Blackburn study includes sections comparing nuclear energy and solar PV energy on jobs, manufacturing, utilities, financing and subsidies.

    In its conclusion, it points out that while utilities cling to the “necessity” of Old Energy in general and new nuclear in particular, the real need is for the more cost-effective options of NE and EE.

    The Blackburn study suggests that the crossover in price competitiveness is just a signpost on the way to a much bigger crossover, from the Old Energies to the New Energy economy.

    click to enlarge

    - November 2009 report from credit rating service Moody’s: “Moody’s is considering taking a more negative view for those issuers seeking to build new nuclear power plants…Historically, most nuclear-building utilities suffered ratings downgrades — and sometimes several — while building these facilities. Political and policy conditions are spurring applications for new nuclear power generation for the first time in years. Nevertheless, most utilities now seeking to build nuclear generation do not appear to be adjusting their financial policies, a credit negative.”

    click to enlarge

    - Mark Cooper, senior fellow for economic analysis/nuclear power cost expert, Vermont Law School Institute for Energy and Environment: “The utilities insist that the construction work in progress charged to ratepayers also include the return on equity that the utilities normally earn by taking the risk of building the plant — even though they have shifted the risk to the ratepayers…If the plant is not built or suffers cost overruns, the ratepayers will bear the burden…[T]he utility is making a one-way bet, allowing it to make a profit even when the project fails…The people bear the risks and costs; the nuclear utilities take the profits. Without loan guarantees and guaranteed construction work in progress, these reactors will simply not be built, because the capital markets will not finance them.”

    click to enlarge

    - Mark Cooper, senior fellow for economic analysis/nuclear power cost expert, Vermont Law School Institute for Energy and Environment: “In an attempt to circumvent the sound judgment of the capital markets, nuclear advocates erroneously claim that subsidies lower the financing costs for nuclear reactors and so are good for consumers…But shifting risk does not eliminate it. Furthermore, subsidies induce utilities and regulators to take greater risks that will cost the taxpayers and the ratepayers dearly…“The risks that have dismayed Wall Street should be taken seriously by policy makers because they would cost not just hundreds of billions of dollars in losses on reactors that are canceled, but also trillions in excess costs for ratepayers when reactors are brought to completion by utilities that fail to pursue the lower-cost, less risky options that are available…The frantic effort of the nuclear industry to increase federal loan guarantees and secure ratepayer funding of construction work in progress from state legislatures is an admission that the technology is so totally uneconomic that the industry will forever be a ward of state, resulting in a uniquely American form of nuclear socialism.”


    Senate Dems, GOP squabble may sink spill bill
    Darren Goode, July 28, 2010 (The Hill)

    "Senate Democrats and Republicans appear on a collision course that would sink chances of passing oil-spill and energy legislation amid disagreements over both substance and process…Democratic leaders…[foresee] the likely failure of the package and [blame] Republicans for obstructing it and other legislation."

    [Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev):] “…[The Senate Republican approach was] as if you were in Alice in Wonderland…Black was white, up was down, sideways was vertical…It’s just too bad that we can’t have cooperation to get something done ... on a bipartisan basis…This bill, I repeat, is bipartisan — it creates jobs, and lessens our dependence on foreign oil…A pretty good combination.”

    click to enlarge

    "Republican leaders [say] they cannot support the bill in its current form — mainly due to language retroactively removing a liability cap for oil-and-gas producers — and also want assurances they can offer amendments…Reid said he would discuss amendments if an initial vote limiting debate just to proceed to the bill receives the necessary 60 votes…

    "But it does not seem likely that Reid would have enough support to start debate, given both Republican and some Democratic concerns over the liability cap issue…Since the spill and energy package is sandwiched in between consideration of small-business legislation and a debate over Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination, there may only be one or two days available to debate the package…[and] Reid does not seem to have corralled all of his Democrats…"

    The rumor is they just want these issues to campaign on in the fall. (click to enlarge)

    "[Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.)] and Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) are trying to find a compromise between the Democrats’ unlimited liability cap and the Republican idea of giving the president the authority to set liability limits based on 13 criteria, including a company’s safety record and the risk involved in an offshore drilling project.

    "Landrieu and Begich have suggested an idea — modeled after federal nuclear energy regulations — that require all oil-and-gas producers to collectively share the liability responsibility for a spill."

    AWEA Announces ‘Dismal’ Numbers for 1H 2010; The lack of support for a long-term mandate from Congress has brought the wind industry to the edge of a cliff.
    Herman K. Trabish, July 28, 2010 (Greentech Media)

    "The numbers are impressive -- but not in a good way. ‘It is dismal and getting worse,’ said American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) CEO Denise Bode about the numbers in the just-released AWEA Mid-Year 2010 Market Report...

    "It is now irrefutably obvious, according to Bode, that the failure of Congress to provide a long-term mandate for renewable energy is causing utilities across the country to choose natural gas and coal over wind…The 700 megawatts (MW) of new installed capacity in the second quarter brought the wind industry's 2010 total to 1,239 MW, a remarkable 71 percent below the 2009 number and 57% below the 2008 number."

    click to enlarge

    "The report comes just as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is poised to bring forward a starkly scaled back energy bill proposal for debate. The renewable energy industries and a broad coalition of supporters ranging from the United Steelworkers to the Union of Concerned Scientists are up in arms because Reid's legislation does not include a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) mandating that utilities obtain a portion of their power from renewable sources over the next ten years…[Bode said the] wind industry needs an RES to provide a long-term market signal to manufacturers and developers…

    "…There are over 5,000 MW of new wind power capacity under construction right now…largely because Recovery Act funding…[but there is little] pipeline development behind that…[like the industry] is on a cliff…"

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    "AWEA expects the total for 2010 to be 25 percent to 45 percent below 2009…[suggesting] an even worse 2011 if Congress does not act. Though Recovery Act provisions held the industry up in 2009, only longer-term policy supports will alter the current pattern of faltering new demand, disappearing new power purchase agreements (PPAs) from utilities, and dwindling plans for new manufacturing facilities.

    "The pending Senate legislation…is not expected to contain an RES, despite the fact that both former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), now working as a consultant to AWEA, and Bode refute Reid's claim that there are not the filibuster-breaking 60 votes to pass it…[Bode also] challenged the speculation that the 60 votes backing an RES might conflict with obtaining 60 votes for the Reid bill…AWEA had no comment on the speculation that both parties are happy to keep the renewables…[as] a campaign issue in the upcoming November midterm elections."

    Car Makers Eye Toshiba Tech Breakthrough; New Battery Charges to 90% of Capacity Within Five Minutes
    July 28, 2010 (CBS News)

    "…Toshiba’s Super-Charge Ion Batteries, which reportedly lose hardly any capacity after thousands of charges, could be coming to cars next year.

    "…In 2007 Toshiba announced the creation of the SCiB, and unveiled the prototype the next year. It lasts 5,000 to 6,000 cycles as opposed to the 500 for standard lithium-ion batteries, and charges to 90 percent of capacity within five minutes. Earlier this month, the company announced it has been working with car maker Mitsubishi on electric vehicle batteries, and could be making SCiBs for cars staring next year."

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    "…For EV applications Toshiba has developed a new anode material and a new electrolyte to improve safety and rapid recharging…[T]he long life will promote reduction in the waste that results from battery replacement, reducing the impact on the environment."

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    "…[C]urrent batteries‘ limitations have held back electric car development. But [Toshiba] is far from the only one working up new ideas for Japan’s car makers…Panasonic Corp. supplies batteries for Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s top automaker, while NEC Corp. does it for Nissan Motor Co. Sanyo Electric Co., a Panasonic subsidiary, has deals with Volkswagen AG, Honda Motor Co. and Toyota.

    "Presuming Toshiba succeeds in scaling up the SCiB, the company wants to use the idea not only in cars, but also in smaller vehicles like electric motorcycles and in large projects like storage on the power grid, another place where the lack of a worthy battery system has held back the development of renewable energy sources…"

    U.S. Senators Introduce Renewable-Energy-Storage Legislation
    21 July 2010 (Renew Grid)

    "U.S. Sens. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Jeanne Shaheen, D.-N.H., have introduced legislation to offer tax credits for the creation of renewable-energy storage. The Storage Technology of Renewable and Green Energy Act of 2010 (STORAGE 2010) would offer up to $1.5 billion in tax credits to support grid-connected energy-storage projects.

    "The act offers a tax credit for three categories of energy-storage facilities and will also provide tax credits to businesses and homeowners who install energy storage on their own properties to help serve their own energy needs or capture energy from on-site renewable-energy generation…[It] will provide a 20% tax credit of up to $30 million for storage systems connected to the electric grid…a 30% tax credit of up to $1 million to businesses and a 30% tax credit for homeowners for on-site storage projects…"

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    [Senator Jeff Bingman (D-NM):] "The increased use of these cutting-edge storage technologies is essential to modernizing our electrical grid and to meeting our clean energy goals…Expanding our storage capacity will improve the efficiency, flexibility and reliability of our electric grid, allowing us to wring the most power out of it, while adding large amounts of new renewable energy resources like wind and solar."

    "The legislation is a revision of S.1091, the [2009] STORAGE ACT - a bill Wyden introduced in the last session of Congress."

    Wednesday, July 28, 2010


    The Future of Natural Gas: An Interdisciplinary MIT Study
    June 25, 2010 (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

    Two crucial things to know about natural gas right now are that (1) a lot of people who live near it hate it and (2) a lot of people who live far away from it think it is the bridge to the New Energy future.

    Natural gas can be used to generate electricity, to supply heat or as a transportation fuel. With the discovery of methods to obtain it from previously inaccessible shale deposits, it has become domestically abundant. And, because burning it creates roughly half the greenhouse gas emissions (GhGs) as burning coal and significantly fewer than burning oil, transitioning to it could mean replacing both the financial black hole of oil imports and the environmental degradations of coal mining with an energy source that would double the time the nation has to cope with the onslaught of global climate change.

    In The Future Of Natural Gas; An Interdisciplinary MIT Study (Interim Report), scientists who previously studied the practicality of “clean” coal and “safe” nuclear as means to face the coming “carbon-constrained” world say that in the next forty years (to the middle of this century) natural gas may be the best choice there is and a "bridge" to a New Energy economy. This suggests three possibilities.

    First, they may be right about the idea of using natural gas as a bridge. Or they may be underestimating what the New Energies are capable of right now. Or they may know what the New Energies are capable of but are choosing the inevitability of natural gas because they anticipated what the U.S. Senate is flagrantly displaying this week for all the world to see: U.S. fossil foolishness will only die hard, no matter how bad it is for the people of this great nation and this good earth.

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    The paper’s “big picture” conclusions about natural gas:
    (1) The new-found abundance of international natural gas supplies will drive much more extensive use, especially in electricity generation.
    (2) The U.S. shale gas reserves will drive increased domestic use.
    (3) The increasing pressure to reduce GhGs will force a longer-term reduction of naturl gas reliance unless the capture and sequestration of fossil fuel emissions miraculously becomes both technically feasible and price-competitive with the ever-renewable, emissions-free wind, solar, geothermal and hydrokinetic energies.
    (4) The domestic and international natural gas markets are so volatile that things could change before this sentence ends.

    One of the biggest reasons there is so much talk about natural gas as the bridge to a New Energy future is that the present New Energy supply and infrastructure is inadequate to take over from coal. This is quite ironic. If the nation had not dallied with the volatilities of natural gas and sharply cut back on the research, development and deployment of New Energy in the 1980s, it might now be ready to throw off its fossil foolhardiness for good.

    Yet here are the big brains at MIT urging the nation to make a similar mistake yet again by turning to natural gas. It's formulation is nuanced: Technological advance (of New Energy and Energy Efficiency, “safe” nuclear and “clean” coal) should not be crowded out while natural gas rises in demand but development of natural gas, especially the shale reserves, should not be impeded by over-investment in technological advance before the technologies are mature.

    If there weren’t this small matter of global climate change, it might be fine to leave all this to the so-called invisible hand of the marketplace, though the invisibility of the oil & gas industries’ phantom lobbyists is probably not what Adam Smith had in mind when he coined the construction. Given the urgency of an all too rapidly rising global average temperature, it is patently obvious that all barriers to the development and implementation of New Energy and Energy Efficiency must be eliminated.

    One of those barriers is wasting time on developing any Old Energy infrastructure. That includes the cleaner fossil fuel (and “clean” coal and “safe” nuclear). When there is enough solar energy in the Southwest and enough wind off the Atlantic coast to power the Eastern Seaboard, what is the point of building natural gas pipelines?

    The use of compressed natural gas (CNG) as a heavy transport fuel may be the exception that proves the rule. Limiting its use to buses and trucks minimizes the need for a delivery infrastructure and maximizes its effectiveness as a replacement for oil. Especially as subsidized in the “no-energy” bill currently being considered by the Senate, there is merit in this limited application of the resource.

    The MIT report did not take much notice CNG as a heavy transport fuel because the authors do not expect it to be a large part of the potential market. It is true that it will not be a large part of the market but it could be a significant part. Just as Boone Pickens.

    MIT will deliver its full and final report on natural gas later this year but this interim paper could not be more timely

    Footnote: New research from Cornell university suggests that natural gas derived from shale by hydrofracturing could generate more life-cycle GhGs than coal. (See THE GHGS FROM NATURAL GAS) The process is certainly becoming controversial. (See MUST SEE TV - HBO'S GASLAND)

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    Determinative natural gas market factors:
    (1) lower GhGs
    (2) abundant newly accessible “unconventional” natural gas reserves via hydrofracture drilling techniques
    (3) the abundance of cheap natural gas supplies is once again making it more challenging for the New Energies to sustain a place in energy markets and expand their installed capacity and infrastructure to the point where they become price competitive
    (4) Regionalized natural gas markets in North America, Europe and industrialized Asia increase access to supplies
    each with a different market structure; and
    (5) Volatility in the diversified and unpredictable markets create feast or famine tendencies in supply, rapid and frequent price swings and a boom and bust industry

    The MIT study is aimed at providing “integrated, technically grounded analysis” to inform the debate over the feasibility of using natural gas as a bridge.

    The uncertainties that could impact the value of natural gas as a bridge:
    (1) How soon will GhG restraints be imposed and how strong will they be?
    (2) How extensive are the “unconventional” shale reserves and foreign conventional reserves?
    (3) Which New Energies will emerge and when? (And how will GhG restraints affect that emergence?)
    (4) How will “economics, geology and geopolitics” affect international gas markets?

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    The MIT study examines the potential of natural gas to impact U.S. GhGs in the hope of educating “government, industry and academic leaders and decision-makers” on the “technical, economic, environmental and political issues” but also includes a consideration of the international marketplace.

    International Supply:
    The world is rich in natural gas and the U.S. is rich in unconventional (shale) gas.

    Recoverable resource: 16,200 Trillion cubic feet (Tcf) (12,400 Tcf to 20,800 Tcf), 150 times yearly world consumption.
    Economically recoverable resource: ~9,000 Tcf (at a gas price at or below $4/Million British thermal units (MMBtu) at the export point.

    U.S. unconventional (shale) supply:
    Recoverable shale gas resource: 650 Tcf (420 Tcf to 870 Tcf).
    Economically recoverable resource: ~ 400 Tcf (at a gas price at or below $6/MMBtu at the well-head).

    Environmental impacts of shale gas: “manageable but challenging.” The main challenges are in keeping gas and fracture fluids from leaking into the water table. Management is believed to be possible by following “industry best practices” for hydrofracturing and fracture fluid recycling and disposal.

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    A “carbon-constrained” world will value the lower GhGs and high malleability of natural gas.

    Just the threat of a price being imposed on GhGs has increased the use of natural gas and the imposition of an emissions cap and a real price will increase that movement.

    Studies of a requirement to cut GhGs just 50% by 2050 shows the primary impacts to be a reduction in energy use and the displacing of coal use with natural gas.

    The only uncertainty to gas’s predominance is the technological advance of New Energy and Energy Efficiency, “safe” nuclear and “clean” coal (carbon capture and sequestration, CCS).

    If a cap and price mechanism aspires to cut GhGs 80% by 2050 (the minimum level science agrees is truly necessary to interrupt the rising global average temperature), this is expected to require “complete de-carbonization of the power sector.” MTI believes this would necessitate the development of CCS.

    MIT’s formulation is that technological advance (of New Energy and Energy Efficiency, “safe” nuclear and “clean” coal) should not be crowded out while natural gas rises in demand but development of natural gas, especially the shale reserves, should not be impeded by over-investment in technological advance before the technologies are mature.

    click to enlarge

    Demand and Infrastructure:
    The marketplace will demand natural gas, at least in the near term, because of its GhG profile and its malleability, allowing use for power generation, heating and transport. The demand will necessitate decisions about developing infrastructure.

    MIT foresees the primary growth of use in the electricity sector because of the GhG profile. It will be valuable as baseload supply and as a ramping partner to variable sources (wind and solar).

    Short- and long-term impacts will differ:
    In the short-term, more solar and wind will displace natural gas use for ramping if gas remains more expensive than coal. On the other hand, market forces will be driving generators toward base as baseload, especially underutilized existing Natural Gas Combined Cycle (NGCC) capacity.

    In the longer term, MIT expects 2 eventualities: (1) Increased natural gas (for its flexibility), but utilized less, and (2) displacement of all forms of baseload generation, including natural gas, as more variable generation is integrated into the transmission system. The 2 will vary by region.

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    Use of compressed natural gas (CNG) as a vehicle fuel is not foreseen to be a major factor in the transition away from oil. Its role is expected to be in the private vehicle market. MIT found liquefied natural gas (LNG) to be unsatisfactory as a vehicle fuel because of the minus 162 degree Centigrade it requires for storage.

    Natural gas to methanol is a more practical option but methanol does not solve any GhG problems.

    Development of the shale gas reserves will necessitate expansion of pipeline, storage and processing infrastructure, a costly undertaking for an energy source expected to lose market share in the longer term.

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    Markets & Geopolitics:
    North America, Europe and Asia form individual natural gas regional markets with differing characteristics.

    The U.S. market is described as functioning well and in no need of anything but a level playing field.

    International natural gas markets are face impediments. If they integrate successfully, they will grow and eventually turn the U.S. into a net importer.

    More use of LNG will increase international trading, steady prices and provide security of supply by diversifying sources.

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    Security concerns:
    (1) Gas dependence extends foreign entanglements.
    (2) Some new market players, closed societies, could impede transparent markets.
    (3) Competition for control of some pipelines is intense and potentially volatile.
    (4) Longer supply chains increase vulnerability of infrastructure and supply.

    Research, Development and Demonstration (RD&D) into the development of unconventional (shale) reserves could be determinative by eliminating dangers. The feasibility of advances is significant, considering that it was technology advances that made today’s controversial exploration and development of shale gas possible.

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    The study’s “high-level recommendations:
    (1) Natural gas will thrive if GhG-cutting policies create a “level playing field” for all energies. This would be a price on emissions and no subsidies to any energy source.
    (2) If there is no price on GhGs, policies should “mimic” a level-playing-field approach with efficiencies and displacement of coal with gas.
    (3) If there is no price on GhGs, supported RD&D and targeted shorter-term subsidies for low-emission technologies (New Energy, Energy Efficiency, “clean” coal, “safe” nuclear) might work.
    (4) Displace coal with NGCC.
    (5) Natural gas should grow with New Energy installed capacity.

    click to enlarge

    (6) Regulatory and policy barriers to CNG and natural gas liquid fuels for vehicles should be eliminated.
    (7) Policies that create an efficient, integrated, transparent, diverse international market will enhance security and economic growth.
    (8) Foreign policy measures to support natural gas: (a) energy should ne considered in U.S. foreign policy, (b) support the International Energy Agency (IEA) in getting natural gas into large emerging markets (China, India, Brazil), (d) share know-how for development of shale reserves, (e) advance physical and cyber-infrastructure, and (f) promote efficiency.
    (9) Environmental measures to support shale development: (a) Government-funded R&D, especially of subsurface aspects and improved water use in fracturing and recycling, (b) improved assessment of resources by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), (c) transparent public/private advancement of minimized impacts of fracturing operations and water management including communication of oil- and gas-field best practices, integrated regional water use and disposal, and disclosure of hydraulic fracture fluid components.
    (10) Public/private RD&D for environmentally responsible development

    click to enlarge

    - From the report: “The environmental impacts of shale development are manageable but challenging. The largest challenges lie in the area of water management, particularly the effective disposal of fracture fluids. Concerns with this issue are particularly acute in those regions that have not previously experienced large-scale oil and gas development. It is essential that both large and small companies follow industry best practices, that water supply and disposal are coordinated on a regional basis, and that improved methods are developed for recycling of returned fracture fluids.”

    click to enlarge

    - From the report: “A more stringent CO2 reduction of, for example, 80%, would probably require the complete de-carbonization of the power sector. This makes it imperative that the development of competing low-carbon technology continues apace, including CCS for both coal and gas. It would be a significant error of policy to crowd out the development of other, currently more costly, technologies because of the new assessment of gas supply. Conversely, it would also be a mistake to encourage, via policy and long-term subsidy, more costly technologies to crowd out natural gas in the short to medium term, as this could significantly increase the cost of CO2 reduction.”

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    - From the report: “Development of the U.S. vehicular transportation market using compressed natural gas (CNG) powered vehicles offers opportunities for expansion for natural gas use and reduction of CO2 emissions, but it is unlikely in the near term that this will develop into a major new market for gas or make a substantial impact in reducing U.S. oil dependence. However, significant penetration of the private vehicle market before mid-century emerges in our carbon-constrained scenario...Liquefied natural gas (LNG) does not currently appear to be economically attractive as a fuel for long-haul trucks because of cost and operational issues related to storage at minus 162 degrees Centigrade.”


    Reid unveils pared-down energy and oil bill
    Frederic J. Frommer (w/Ken Thomas), July 27, 2010 (AP)

    "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid unveiled a draft of energy and oil spill legislation…a far less sweeping bill than the cap on carbon emissions he had hoped for…[because] he didn't have the votes to pass it.

    "The new bill would require oil companies to pay higher fees into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund and would eliminate the $75 million cap on economic liability from an oil spill. It calls for spending $5 billion for the Home Star program, which would provide rebates to consumers to encourage energy efficiency upgrades. It also would fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund."

    No amount of liability insurance can cover these costs. (click to enlarge)

    "The American Petroleum Institute assailed the elimination of the cap on economic liability…[claiming high liability costs] would force American companies out of U.S. waters…

    "On vehicles, the measure has portions of an electric vehicle bill introduced by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., including $400 million to encourage the deployment of electric cars in certain cities and a competition run by the federal government to develop a battery that will power a car for 500 miles on a single charge. The bill also encourages federal agencies to buy electric drive vehicles for their fleets and offers incentives to retrofit heavy-duty vehicles for natural gas."

    How can there not be 60 votes for something with polling numbers like these? (click to enlarge)

    "The bill does not include a renewable electricity standard, despite a last-minute push by some senators, businesses and clean energy advocates. Such a standard would require utilities to produce a certain percentage of their energy from renewable sources…[Reid said] supporters' contention that there were the necessary 60 votes for the renewable electricity standard [was wrong]…

    "On oil, the bill would speed up claims processes for people harmed by spills and would overhaul government regulation of offshore drilling to prevent conflicts of interest...Reid plans to introduce the bill on Wednesday and bring it to the floor later this week, with an eye on a vote next week…"

    Wind farm 'mega-project' underway in Mojave Desert; The Alta Wind Energy Center — with plans for thousands of acres of turbines to generate electricity for 600,000 Southern California homes — officially breaks ground…
    Tifffany Hsu, July 27, 2010 (LA Times)

    "It's being called the largest wind power project in the country, with plans for thousands of acres of towering turbines in the Mojave Desert foothills generating electricity for 600,000 homes in Southern California…

    "The multibillion-dollar Alta Wind Energy Center has had a tortured history, stretching across nearly a decade of ownership changes, opposition from local residents and transmission infrastructure delays…[and] is officially breaking ground in the Tehachapi Pass, a burgeoning hot spot for wind energy about 75 miles north of Los Angeles. When completed, Alta could produce three times as much energy as the country's largest existing wind farm…"

    Tehachapi wind (photo by NewEnergyNews - click to enlarge)

    "The project will probably be a wind power bellwether, affecting the way renewable energy deals are financed, the development of new electricity storage systems and how governments regulate the industry…The project's developer, New York-based Terra-Gen Power, plans to coax three gigawatts of power from the wind farm over the next eight years. It has led some industry experts to predict that California might have a shot at reclaiming the wind energy crown from competitors such as Texas and Iowa…

    "Southern California Edison agreed in 2006 to buy 1,550 megawatts of electricity from Alta over 25 years, one of the heftiest power purchase agreements ever signed. That would be enough energy to serve 275,000 homes and is twice the capacity of the country's largest existing wind farm, a 735-megawatt project in Texas…Terra-Gen is building Alta as a collection of wind farms; it has finished funding and started building the first group of five…290 turbines will be scattered across 9,000 acres, most of which are leased from private landowners."

    Transmission is the key to growth. (photo by NewEnergyNews - click to enlarge)

    "As early as next year…the turbines could start producing enough power to boost California's wind energy output more than 25% while creating thousands of local jobs…By 2015, another batch of farms, with roughly 300 turbines…is expected to be producing an additional 830 megawatts…[Initially conceived] in the early 2000s…[permitting] took about three years…

    "Edison has been making headway on its Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project, connecting alternative-energy projects such as Alta to electricity-hungry city centers. The utility is trying to meet a statewide goal for investor-owned utilities to use renewable energy for 33% of all power supplied to customers by 2020…Previously tight-fisted investors also are more confident about financing renewable energy projects. Terra-Gen recently secured $1.2 billion in funding for the Alta project…the Alta project seems to be on track…"

    Southern California Edison Awards 36 Contracts for Utility-Scale Solar Rooftop Project
    July 27, 2010 (Southern California Edison)

    "Southern California Edison (SCE) awarded 36 contracts to independent power producers for a total of nearly 60 megawatts from photovoltaic solar panels that will produce emission-free energy for SCE customers. The panels will be installed on 31 unused rooftops and five ground-mount sites in SCE’s service territory.

    "…[SCE’s] solar rooftop project…calls for a total of 500 megawatts of solar generating capacity, most of it on otherwise unused large warehouse rooftops. Half of the 500 megawatts will be from independent power producers who respond to SCE’s request for offers under competitive solicitations; the remaining 250 megawatts will be owned and operated by SCE. It is expected that this project will create about 1,200 jobs for Southern Californians… The [36 new ] contracts… are the first executed under the competitive solicitations for independent power producers…"

    Installing rooftop solar (photo from SCE - click to enlarge)

    "SCE believes that its solar rooftop project will be a boon for the solar industry and consumers alike, with the resulting cost per unit significantly more cost effective than more common residential photovoltaic installations…[T]his could help drive down installation costs…When complete, the solar panels will cover an area totaling 4 square miles…The total power production will rival a utility-scale power plant, enough electricity to serve 325,000 average homes…SCE has already installed panels on three rooftop warehouses in California’s Inland Empire that are delivering – or are in line to deliver – electricity to the grid."

    Installing rooftop solar (photo from SCE - click to enlarge)

    "SCE is the nation’s leading utility for renewable energy. In 2009, SCE delivered 13.6 billion kilowatt hours of renewable power to its customers, about 17 percent of its total power portfolio."

    [Marc Ulrich, Renewable and Alternative Power vice president, SCE:] “These contracts make significant strides toward distributed renewable generation for one of the most innovative solar programs in the country…We’re working to help California meet its Million Solar Roofs goal and supply even more renewable energy to our customers where and when it’s most needed, without the added time and expense to construct major new transmission facilities.”

    Report: California's Prop 23 Would Jeopardize Cleantech Sector
    26 July 2010 (Renew Grid)

    "Investment and business leaders have warned that passage of California's Proposition 23 (Prop 23) this November would jeopardize a half-million cleantech jobs, 12,000 companies and billions of dollars of private investment in California. Moreover, it would signal an end to the state's global leadership in clean technology as nations in Asia and Europe surge ahead."

    "The report - Going Backward - issued by the Clean Economy Network (CEN), says Prop 23 would suspend efforts to increase electricity produced from renewable sources, stifle energy-efficiency standards for homes and office buildings, and prevent cleaner tailpipe emissions. More than 250 businesses and organizations across the state have signed up to oppose Prop 23, which seeks to overturn Assembly Bill 32, a law passed in 2006 that triggered an explosion of cleantech investment and entrepreneurship by requiring a transition from polluting sources of energy to clean ones."

    From NRDCflix via YouTube

    [Jeff Anderson, executive director, CEN:] “Prop 23 should be viewed for what it is: a mechanism for regulatory and investment uncertainty that only benefits its backers - big out-of-state oil companies Valero and Tesoro - while putting the economic health of the rest of California at risk…Sending jobs and investment overseas is a no-win proposition for all Americans and must be defeated.”

    "According to the report, private equity and venture capital investors are already feeling skittish with the uncertainty created by Prop 23, fearing that much-needed stable policies and clear market signals… would disappear. Consumers in California are also put at risk, because it would increase healthcare costs due to continued air pollution, as well as raise electricity bills by up to 33% over the next decade…[Prop 23 also] has the potential to cause a rollback of energy and climate policies in other states…"