NewEnergyNews: QUICK NEWS, June 11: THE TRUTH ABOUT WIND AND BIRDS; WHAT’S IN IT FOR UTILITIES; WIND AND BIRDS; DOE WANTS RARE EARTHS

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  • FRIDAY WORLD, January 14:
  • Global Leaders Name Climate Crisis World’s Biggest Risk
  • New Energy’s New Storage Options

    Monday, June 11, 2012

    QUICK NEWS, June 11: THE TRUTH ABOUT WIND AND BIRDS; WHAT’S IN IT FOR UTILITIES; WIND AND BIRDS; DOE WANTS RARE EARTHS

    THE TRUTH ABOUT WIND AND BIRDS EarthTalk: Wind power and bird strikes

    June 9, 2012 (The Norwalk Hour)

    “…Bird collisions have been one of the primary negatives of the recent growth in wind power across the United States and beyond…[In response,] the [U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USFWS] released new federal guidelines in March 2012 for land-based wind developers trying to avoid or minimize impacts to birds and their habitats. The guidelines are voluntary at this point, but U.S. wind developers interested in a smoother ride through various permitting processes and the blessing of environmental groups…are doing their best to make their designs and implementations comply.

    “The federal government’s 22-member Wind Turbine Guidelines Advisory Committee, which included experts from the National Audubon Society, Nature Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife, Massachusetts Audubon and Bat Conservation International, developed the guidelines. Committee members report they are optimistic that the new guidelines provide a path to better protection for birds and their habitats.”

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    [David Yarnold, President, National Audubon Society:] “The guidelines steer wind turbines away from vital habitat…and toward land already marked by development…They give the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service a place at the table for siting decisions; they help protect sites with high potential risk for birds; and they minimize habitat fragmentation…[and] provide a roadmap to better bird protections across each of America’s four great flyways.”

    “…Wind developers that cooperate with the guidelines will avoid dividing important habitats like forests and grasslands, thus maintaining their suitability for wildlife…[T]he American Bird Conservancy would like to take the voluntary out of the guidelines and instead require wind developers to comply. The group recently filed a petition with the U.S. Department of the Interior calling for mandatory rules…and rewarding responsible wind energy development…”

    WHAT’S IN IT FOR UTILITIES Utilities Can Reap Big Rewards From Sustainable Practices

    29 May 2012 (Renew Grid)

    “Good sustainability policies and practices, including energy efficiency and demand side management, could be worth billions of dollars to utility investors, according to [The Value of Sustainability] from Target Rock Advisors LLC…Comparative analysis of the 10-year total returns for the 49 utilities included in Target Rock's 2012 sustainability rankings and indexes, along with several what-if’ scenario tests, suggest that the value of sustainability could be worth between $20 billion and $25 billion…

    “The $20 billion to $25 billion range represents 8% to 10% of the total starting market capitalization of the utilities covered by the Target Rock indexes and an additional 1% of relatively low-risk compound annual return over 10 years. With the three major utility indexes (S&P Utilities, Dow Jones Utility Average and Philadelphia Utility Index) posting an average compound annual growth rate of 3.6% over that period, another 1% is quite material, and the numbers could be larger going forward, according to Target Rock…”

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    “In addition, while the $20 billion to $25 billion estimate is a relevant indicator of shareholder value, these figures understate the true economic value of sustainability, because market capitalization metrics do not capture socioeconomic benefits created by utilities but accrued to others and society as a whole. These benefits include reductions in pollution and water use all along the consumption and carbon chain, as well as contributions to local economic health and development.

    “It is impossible to say just how much causality is implicit in the relationship between strong sustainability practices and higher market returns - and there are certainly other factors in play - but Target Rock Advisors believes there is enough of a connection to use these relative performance baselines as a reasonable foundation for a "what-if" analysis in estimating the value of overall sustainability in the U.S. utility sector…”

    DOE WANTS RARE EARTHS DOE: U.S.' Clean Energy Future Cannot Depend On China's Rare Earths

    Laura DiMugno, 1 June 2012 (North American Windpower)

    “The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has launched a major effort to ensure the U.S. has a reliable supply of rare-earth materials, which are used in a number of clean energy applications, including permanent magnet direct-drive wind turbines…[The Critical Materials Hub] will invest up to $120 million over five years to not only ensure access to these materials, but also develop alternatives that reduce the amount of rare earths needed.

    “China provides 94% of the world's rare earths, including neodymium and dysprosium, which are used in the magnets for direct-drive wind turbine motors…With trade tensions with China rising - and China increasing its export taxes on rare earths - U.S. wind turbine manufacturers must face the possibility of relying solely on California-based Molycorp Inc., North America's only rare-earth supplier.”

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    “Some companies in the wind energy supply chain are already preparing for this reality. Last September, permanent-magnet generator manufacturer Boulder Wind Power engaged Molycorp to be its preferred supplier of rare earths and/or alloys for wind turbine generators…According to a recent report, 25% of the world’s rare-earth supply will come from China by 2015, as demand for the neodymium and dysprosium necessary for the manufacture of magnets for wind turbines will climb at a pace of 7% to 9% per year through 2015.

    “To avoid dependence on China, the new initiative will focus on tackling the challenges across the entire rare-earth spectrum, including mineral processing, manufacturing, efficiency, substitution and recycling…[T]o encourage competition, the DOE will use the $120 million allotted to the new initiative to award grants to businesses, universities, national laboratories and nonprofits to develop proposals to address the key conflicts associated with maintaining adequate supplies of rare earths…”

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