NewEnergyNews: 12/01/2013 - 01/01/2014/


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

    Tuesday, December 31, 2013


    Smart Utilities: 10 Trends to Watch in 2014 and Beyond

    Richelle Elberg, Brett Feldman, Lauren Callaway, Neil Strother, Kris Torvik, Bob Lockhart, 4Q 2013 (Navigant Research)

    Executive Summary

    2013: A Year of Change

    The year 2013 saw several new trends emerge in the smart utilities market – some encouraging, some disturbing. Utilities’ traditional business models face threats from all sides.

    Meanwhile, vendors that sell to utilities are challenged to understand what their future markets may look like based upon all this change. “Business as usual” appears to be a thing of the past.

    Some key developments of the past year:

    » U.S. utilities spent the last of the stimulus funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, leaving vendors to wonder where the next market push will come from in North America.

    » Utilities that installed advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) systems with stimulus funding are beginning to use those telecommunications networks for enhanced distribution automation (DA) functions.

    » A raging global debate has emerged over net metering and residential feed-in tariffs (FITs). Utilities face a loss of revenue as more residential and business customers generate their own energy. In many cases, utilities are legally mandated to pay customers generously for excess energy generated. Utilities are applying pressure to reduce FITs, for which the utilities are being characterized – rightly or wrongly – as anti-green.

    » The deadline for Europe’s 20-20-20 by 2020 initiative drew 1 year closer with little measurable progress toward that program’s directed outcomes.

    » The home energy management (HEM) market finally started showing some signs of life after several successful pilot programs that combined HEM and demand response (DR). While not the level of growth some expected to see by this time, this constitutes at least a viable direction for the HEM market.

    » Meanwhile, DR load curtailment numbers are finally becoming significant somewhere besides North America. Outside North America, commercial and industrial (C&I) customers are driving the DR uptake.

    » Transmission and distribution vendors continue to innovate in technologies that lead toward more efficient grids, such as conservation voltage reduction (CVR) and hybrid circuit breakers for high-voltage direct current (HVDC) networks. The following section presents 10 key smart utilities trends to watch during 2014 and beyond.

    Navigant Research selected these particular topics because they stood out during 2013 research projects as likely to have a business impact for smart grid vendors and utilities.

    1-AMI Networks Supporting Distribution Automation

    Following the rapid deployment of smart meters that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) inspired between 2009 and 2012 in the United States (and including some ongoing rollouts), North American utilities are taking a step back and reassessing their investments. Many now see the communications networks installed alongside their advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) systems as a platform to be leveraged for distribution automation (DA) applications, particularly in the low-voltage (LV) distribution network. Forcing the communications network into double duty (for meter data collection and as a new set of eyes and control in the LV network) is expected to improve returns on investment (ROIs), while at the same time reducing grid operating expenses and improving reliability.

    Those utilities that have not yet deployed smart meters (both in North America and elsewhere globally) are increasingly planning those networks with multiple uses in mind from day one. While AMI communications vendors caught on to the AMI/DA integration trend some time ago by touting a multitude of DA functions enabled by their systems, the bottom line is that not all legacy communications networks offer the robustness needed for certain DA applications. That said, communications technology continues to evolve. Looking ahead, many applications will be enabled by or benefit from AMI communications, including all but the most critical protection scheme applications…

    2-Net Metering Brouhaha Escalates and Possible Solutions Emerge

    Net metering is a blanket term describing the compensation a utility most provide to customers who generate their own energy and deliver their excess energy to the grid. With net metering, a customer’s meter begins to spin (or record) backwards when his system is generating more power than is being consumed on the premise. In Europe, independent energy generation is generally compensated under feed-in tariffs (FITs). Globally, the growing capacity of independent generation is placing heavy strains on utilities and, in many cases, on the utility’s non-DG customers as well.

    This could be the year that a solution to the growing controversy over net metering policy emerges; if nothing else, expect a flurry of proposed formulas designed to deal more intelligently with the problem. The stakes are high and growing higher for utilities, which have been largely demonized in the debate over how to compensate the fast-growing number of independent energy producers worldwide. These prosumers are generating their own electricity primarily with solar panels, but a myriad of policies also cover wind generation, biofuels, and other DG…

    3-Smart Grid IT Spending on the Rise

    As the one-way electric grid of old is upgraded with communications, sensors, and control devices, the amount of data available to utilities is growing exponentially. And while access to such granular information holds great promise, without intelligent information technology (IT) to manage and route that data – and in some cases make autonomous operating decisions – the grid is not really smart but rather just more complex and more expensive…In response, IT solutions are emerging and advancing at a breathtaking pace.

    4-Utilities’ Business Models Are Shifting

    Recent market changes have introduced new pressures upon utilities’ traditional business models. Net metering, discussed earlier in this white paper, is one example. On a policy level, energy efficiency and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions reduction targets have forced utilities to increase their use of cleaner but more costly forms of generation, often with no offsetting increase in their rate structures. On the customer side, more sophisticated tools for home energy management (HEM) such as smart thermostats and energy efficient appliances yield intentional reductions of energy use. In addition, the growth of distributed energy resources have complicated load forecasting and grid stability, as well as opened up a number of policy- related questions that challenge the economic structure of the energy industry. Utilities’ roles in this brave new world could change in a number of ways…

    5-Distributed Energy and Microgrids Begin to Affect Utilities

    Traditionally, electric utilities manage power generation and grid control assets. These utilities have long been granted monopoly power over local areas based on economic efficiencies and guarantees to provide non-discriminatory service. Over the past 40 years, the regulatory structure in many jurisdictions has shifted toward deregulation on varying levels to allow for differing levels of competition in sales of wholesale or retail power based upon markets led by centralized generation facilities…

    6-Utilities’ Secret Weapon in Energy Efficiency: Conservation Voltage Reduction

    Between 1991 and 2010 American utilities spent over $43 billion on electric energy efficiency (EE) measures according to the 2012 annual report from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Energy Information Administration (EIA). The total annual average spending was $1.9 billion between 1991 and 2005. Since 2005, EE spending has grown consistently by roughly $0.5 billion per year and broke $4 billion in 2010…

    7-Hybrid HVDC Breakers Bring Innovation and Efficiency

    In late 2012, ABB unveiled a new direct current (DC) breaker, a hybrid of mechanical- and semiconductor-based switches that enables flexibility in high-voltage direct current (HVDC) topologies at high transmission efficiency. Siemens and Alstom are developing their own solutions with the same target in mind: to stop DC fault currents in 5 ms… In practice, the hybrid HVDC circuit breakers can dramatically reduce the number of converters necessary for multiterminal HVDC applications…

    8-Demand Response outside North America Will Begin to Grow

    The vast majority of DR takes place in North America today, but activity in Europe and Asia Pacific will grow at a faster rate over the next several years. Total load curtailment in the world from DR programs in 2013 is estimated to be 57,764 MW; North America contributes roughly 71%. By 2020, global load curtailment is expected to reach 140,472 MW at a CAGR of 13.5%...Forecasts show strong growth for the global DR market, especially in the emerging geographies…

    9-Smart Meter Market to Expand Globally

    For much of the past few years, deployments of smart electric meters have taken off in North America and China, creating a frenzy of market activity and expectations of fast growth in other regions. Chinese utilities continue to deploy meters at a rapid clip as they seek to install some 300 million meters by mid-decade. However, the pace has slowed in the United States as federal stimulus money for projects has nearly run its course. For the next 10 years, the new focus for smart metering will shift to Europe where Great Britain and France are just starting major deployments that combined will amount to some 65 million devices. Japan will also be a new focus of smart meter rollouts, with Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) making plans to install 27 million smart meters…

    10-Home Energy Management Market Will See a Steady Uptick

    During the next 10 years, the HEM market is likely to expand at a steady pace, as new industry participants introduce innovative products. Utilities are likely to mimic what Oklahoma Gas & Electric, NV Energy, and Baltimore Gas and Electric have begun by offering HEM products or services linked with DR programs. In Europe, Great Britain has mandated that each home receiving new smart electric and gas meters will get in-home displays (IHDs) as well, which the U.K. government hopes will drive greater consumer awareness of energy use and encourage greater efficiency…

    New Year’s Eve Videos, December 31: The Question About Auld Lang Syne; Auld Lange Syne Explained; Auld Lang Syne Itself

    The Question About Auld Lang Syne

    There is maybe no more poignant and satisfying moment on film. From nninchen91 via YouTube

    Auld Lange Syne Explained

    What those strange words about forgetting and remembering really mean: Harry's questions answered. From Dan Hanson via YouTube

    It’s Not A New Year Without It- Auld Lang Syne Itself

    And who isn’t going to like Sweet Baby James singing it? All the best to all our treasured readers in 2014! From TransatlanticMoments via YouTube

    Monday, December 30, 2013


    Wind Energy For A Cleaner America II; Wind Energy’s Growing Benefits for Our Environment and Our Health

    Fall 2013 (Environment Ohio)

    Executive Summary

    Burning fossil fuels to generate electricity pollutes our air, contributes to global warming, and consumes vast amounts of water—harming our rivers and lakes and leaving less water for other uses. In contrast, wind energy produces no air pollution, makes no contribution to global warming, and uses no water.

    America’s wind power capacity has quadrupled in the last five years and wind energy now generates as much electricity as is used every year in Georgia. Thanks to wind energy, America uses less water for power plants and produces less climate-altering carbon pollution.

    Wind energy displaced about 84.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2012—more global warming-inducing carbon dioxide pollution than is produced annually in Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina or Washington state. Wind energy also saves enough water nationwide to meet the domestic water needs of more than a million people.

    America has vast wind energy resources, and there is still plenty of room for growth. But the pending expiration of the federal renewable energy production tax credit and investment tax credit threatens the future expansion of wind power. To protect the environment, federal and state governments should continue and expand policies that support wind energy. Wind energy is on the rise in the United States.

    -Electricity generated with wind power quadrupled in the last #ve years, from about 34,500 gigawatt-hours (GWh) in 2007 to more than 140,000 GWh at the end of 2012—or as much electricity as is used each year in Georgia. (See Figure ES-1.)

    -Wind energy was the largest source of new electricity capacity added to the grid in 2012.

    -Nine states now have enough wind turbines to supply 12 percent or more of their annual electricity needs in an average year, with Iowa, South Dakota and Kansas now possessing enough wind turbines to supply more than 20 percent of their annual electricity needs.

    p> By displacing dirty electricity from fossil fuel-fired power plants, wind energy saves water and reduces pollution. In 2012, wind energy helped the United States:

    -Avoid 84.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution—or as much pollution as is produced by more than 17 million of today’s passenger vehicles in a year. Fossil fuel-fired power plants are the nation’s largest source of carbon dioxide, the leading global warming pollutant. In the United States, warmer temperatures caused by global warming have already increased the frequency and severity of heat waves and heavy downpours, resulting in more intense wildfires, foods, droughts, and tropical storms and hurricanes.

    -Save enough water to supply the annual domestic water needs of more than a million people. Power plants use water for cooling, reducing the amount of water available for irrigation, wildlife, recreation or domestic use. More water is withdrawn from U.S. lakes, rivers, streams and aquifers for the purpose of cooling power plants than for any other purpose.

    -Avoid 79,600 tons of nitrogen oxide (NOX) and 98,400 tons of sulfur dioxide emissions. Nitrogen oxides are a key ingredient of smog, which contributes to asthma and other respiratory problems; power plants are responsible for about 15 percent of the nation’s total nitrogen oxide (NOX) pollution each year. Power plants also produce about 60 percent of all sulfur dioxide pollution, which contributes to acid rain. Finally, coal-fired power plants emit heavy metals such as mercury, a potent neurotoxicant that can cause developmental and neurological disorders in babies and children. Nearly two-thirds of all airborne mercury pollution in the United States in 2010 came from the smokestacks of coal-fired power plants.

    If America were to continue to add onshore wind capacity at the rate it did from 2007 to 2012, and take the first steps toward development of its massive potential for offshore wind, by 2018 wind energy will be delivering the following benefits:

    -Averting a total of 157 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution annually—or more carbon dioxide pollution than was produced by Georgia, Michigan or New York in 2011.

    -Saving enough water to supply the annual domestic water needs of 2.1 million people—roughly as many people as live in the city of Houston and more than live in Philadelphia, Phoenix or San Diego.

    -Averting more than 121,000 tons of smog-forming nitrogen oxide pollution and 194,000 tons of sulfur dioxide pollution each year.

    Wind energy’s success in reducing air pollution and saving water will continue to grow if America makes a stable, long-term commitment to clean energy at the local, state and national levels. Specific policies that are essential to the development of wind energy include:

    -The federal renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) and investment tax credit (ITC). The PTC provides an income tax credit of 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for utility-scale wind energy producers for 10 years, while the ITC covers up to 30 percent of the capital cost of new renewable energy investments. Wind energy developers can take one of the two credits, which help reduce the #nancial risk of renewable energy investments and create new #nancing opportunities for wind energy. Both the ITC and the PTC, however, are scheduled to expire at the end of 2013.

    -Strong renewable electricity standards. A strong renewable electricity standard (RES) helps support wind energy development by requiring utilities to obtain a percentage of the electricity they provide to consumers from renewable sources. These standards help ensure that wind energy producers have a market for the electricity they generate and protect consumers from the sharp swings in energy prices that accompany over-reliance on fossil fuels. Today, 29 states have renewable electricity standards—other states and the federal government should follow their lead.

    -Continued coordination and collaboration between state and federal agencies to expedite siting of o"shore wind facilities in areas that avoid environmental harm…

    America Should Continue to Invest in Wind Energy

    America’s clean energy boom is no accident. It is the direct result of strong, forward-thinking policies adopted over the last decade at both the state and federal levels, policies that have unleashed the energy of innovative companies and American workers to fuel dramatic growth in renewable energy. As wind energy and other forms of clean, renewable energy take root in the United States—delivering ample bene#ts for our environment and economy—now is not the time to turn our back on further progress. To further reduce global warming pollution, curb smog and soot, move away from fossil fuels, save water, and grow our economy, the United States should make a long-term commitment to renewable energy with policies to support growth of the wind industry.

    Federal Tax Incentives

    Two of the most important tools that have helped grow the wind industry in the United States are the federal renewable electricity production tax credit (PTC) and the investment tax credit (ITC).

    Policies such as the PTC and ITC recognize that renewable energy is a key component of an electricity grid that is not only cleaner but that also delivers stable, reasonable prices for consumers. Renewable energy sources such as wind are not subject to the fuel price volatility of coal and natural gas, and can deliver reliable, affordable electricity for decades, making them a smart long-term investment in the nation’s energy future. However, renewable energy projects are often capital intensive. Unlike fossil fuel power plants, for which fuel costs represent a significant share of the overall cost of producing power, the vast majority of the costs of building a wind turbine or installing a solar panel are incurred before the first kilowatt-hour of electricity is produced. Public policies that defray some of those initial capital costs, or that help assure a reliable rate of return over the long term, can reduce the risk for investors—opening the floodgates for investment and the rapid expansion of renewable energy.

    The PTC provides an income tax credit of 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for utility-scale wind energy producers. It is available for electricity generated during the first 10 years of the wind farm’s operation. After expiring at the end of 2012, the PTC was renewed in January 2013 and will be available for all projects that begin construction on or before December 31, 2013.

    The investment tax credit (ITC) covers up to 30 percent of the capital cost of new renewable energy investments, with the credit becoming available the moment the wind energy system is placed into service. The ITC also expires on December 31, 2013.

    Wind energy developers and other builders of renewable energy systems may choose to take advantage of either the PTC or the ITC, but not both. Different types of renewable energy projects stand to reap greater bene#ts from one or the other program, depending in part on the capital intensity of the project and the amount of power it produces over time. Federal renewable energy tax credits have been a key contributor to the growth of wind energy over the last decade, but their effectiveness has been hamstrung by their “here today, gone tomorrow” inconsistency. Over the past 13 years, the renewable energy PTC has been available only sporadically. When the PTC has been renewed by Congress for only for one or two years at a time or even allowed to expire, the ensuing uncertainty has discouraged wind developers from building new capacity, stunting industry growth. For instance, in 2000, 2002 and 2004—years when the PTC was allowed to expire temporarily—new wind installations dropped by 93 percent, 73 percent and 77 percent, respectively, from the previous year when the PTC had been in force. (See Figure 8.)

    The economic uncertainty created by the sporadic availability of incentives discourages businesses that manufacture turbines, gear boxes, blades, bearings and towers from entering the market or expanding, restricting the supply chain and increasing costs. On the other hand, long-term term consistency in renewable energy policy can encourage new businesses to enter the field and expand operations, bringing new jobs and investment to the United States. For example, between 2005-2006 and 2012—a period of relative stability in clean energy incentives—the amount of domestically produced content in U.S. wind power projects increased from 25 percent to 72 percent, creating new jobs and economic opportunity in the United States.

    Establish Strong Renewable Electricity Standards

    A renewable electricity standard (RES) helps support wind energy development by requiring utilities to obtain a percentage of the electricity they provide to consumers from renewable sources. These standards help ensure that wind energy producers have a market for the electricity they generate, as electricity suppliers seek to reach their required threshold for renewable electricity. This certainty makes it easier for wind developers to finance and build new wind power installations. Today, 29 states have renewable electricity standards. From 1999 through 2012, 69 percent of all new wind capacity was built in states with renewable electricity standards. In 2012, the proportion rose to 83 percent. (Some of the states with the strongest standards, such as Colorado, have seen the greatest growth in wind power generation.

    Renewable electricity standards have not only proven to be effective at spurring wind energy development, but they have also had little effect on ratepayers, with most policies resulting in either a small net benefit or a small cost to ratepayers on the order of $5 per year. This does not include the economic value of the environmental and public health benefits of renewable energy, nor does it reflect the economic benefits of wind energy-driven job creation, leading to the conclusion that renewable electricity standards are a winner for both the environment and the economy.

    In order for RES policies to continue to drive wind energy growth, however, states without RESs will need to adopt them, those with policies will need to strengthen them, and the federal government will need to adopt a national policy of its own. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, existing state RESs will drive the addition of only 3 to 5 GW of renewable energy per year between now and the end of the decade, which is lower than the amount of wind energy added in recent years. Strengthening the nation’s renewable energy goals will help keep the United States on pace to tap an increasing share of its wind energy potential.

    Facilitate Development of Offshore Wind Resources

    Some of the best wind energy resources are offshore. To capture that potential, policymakers need to set a bold goal for offshore wind development in the Atlantic. A goal will help articulate the important role of offshore wind in America’s energy future. The Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will need sufficient staff and resources to manage multiple renewable energy leases along the coast and to promote an efficient leasing process. A coordinated effort by federal, state and regional economic development, energy and commerce agencies is needed to develop commitments to purchase offshore wind power. Finally, offshore wind projects must be sited, constructed and operaed responsibly in order to avoid and mitigate conflict with local marine life and other uses.


    WIND DEVELOPERS SPRINT TO BEAT PTC DEADLINE Wind Power Developers Race Clock to Secure Subsidy

    Diane Cardwell and Mattew L. Wald, December 25, 2013 (NY Times)

    “As the rest of the world prepares to toast the new year, the wind industry is hard at work on its own year-end tradition…Developers are signing deals, ordering equipment and lurching ahead with construction starts to qualify for a tax credit that is worth 2.3 cents a kilowatt-hour for the first 10 years of production. This month, giant turbine-makers like Vestas andSiemens have announced major new orders, including a deal worth more than $1 billion with MidAmerican Energy, an Iowa-based utility majority-owned by Warren E. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, and another with the Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound…In previous years, the projects had to be in commercial operation by New Year’s Eve. This year, they need only have begun…Though the wind industry has grown enormously since the tax credit began in the 1990s, it has followed a boom-and-bust cycle driven by the fate of the subsidy…” click here for more

    A SOLAR CRYSTAL BALL Is this giant crystal ball the future of solar energy? Form, meet function

    John Aziz, December 23, 2013 (The Week)

    “…Currently, the best sunlight conversion rate is around 21.5 percent in commercial products, although scientists have already developed a solar cell with 44.7 percent efficiency, and some projects in the pipeline are aiming for conversion rates as high as 80 percent…Another avenue for improvement: getting more light to hit the solar cells. One new project…is a giant water-filled glass ball developed by German firm Rawlemon. The ball — a powerful lens — concentrates sunlight onto a collector, and operates at about 30 percent efficiency. The ball can swivel to track the sun in order to maximize the level of light hitting it. It collects up to 70 percent more solar energy than swiveling photovoltaic panels, using dual axis tracking…In the end, whether or not this technology is a success may come down to cost and robustness…” click here for more

    WHERE SMART GRID MONEY WILL GO IN 2014 Smart Utilities: 10 Trends to Watch in 2014 and Beyond

    4Q 2013 (Navigant Research)

    “…Navigant Research has selected 10 key issues that will shape smart utilities investment throughout 2014 and beyond…[1] AMI networks supporting distribution automation…[2] Net metering brouhaha escalates and possible solutions emerge…[3] Smart grid IT spending on the rise…[4] Utilities’ business models are shifting…[5] Distributed energy and microgrids begin to affect utilities…[6] Utilities’ secret weapon in energy efficiency: conservation voltage reduction…[7] Hybrid HVDC breakers bring innovation and efficiency…[8] Demand response outside North America will begin to grow…[9] Smart meter market to expand globally…[10] Home energy management market will see a steady uptick…” click here for more

    Saturday, December 28, 2013

    State Of The Arctic Now

    The Arctic is the indicator: It was cooler this year – but it was the sixth warmest year in a century and the snow and ice continue to thin. From NOAA PMEL via YouTube

    How To Get More New Energy On The Grid

    The anti-New Energy forces say it will disrupt the delivery of electricity. The truth is that lots of New Energy can be delivered reliably. From The Motley Fool via YouTube

    How Money Buys Climate Change Doubt

    "It’s 97 percent of the world’s scientist against a tremendous amount of money spent on propaganda…$900 million a year..." From The Young Turks via YouTube

    Friday, December 27, 2013


    7 ways to shut down a climate change denier; Comprehensive rebuttals to contrarians' pseudo-scientific explanations why global warming is just a myth (continued below)

    John Rennie, December 18, 2013 (Scientific American)

    [Challenge 1:] "...Anthropogenic CO2 can’t be changing climate, because CO2 is only a trace gas in the atmosphere and the amount produced by humans is dwarfed by the amount from volcanoes and other natural sources. Water vapor is by far the most important greenhouse gas, so changes in CO2 are irrelevant..." -- "...[Even at] 0.04 percent of the atmosphere], CO2 absorbs infrared radiation and acts as a greenhouse gas…[H]uman activity is by far the largest contributor…more than 130 times as much as volcanoes produce…95 percent of the releases of CO2 to the atmosphere are natural…[but they] pull the gas back out of the atmosphere and almost precisely offset them…[H]uman additions [are] a net surplus…As the temperature rises, more water vapor enters the atmosphere and multiplies CO2′s greenhouse effect…"

    [Challenge 2:] "...The alleged “hockey stick” graph of temperatures over the past 1,600 years has been disproved. It doesn’t even acknowledge the existence of a “medieval warm period” around 1000 A.D. that was hotter than today is. Therefore, global warming is a myth..." -- "...[A] new research paper by Mann and his colleagues seems to confirm that the Medieval Warm Period and the ‘Little Ice Age’ between 1400 and 1700 were both caused by shifts in solar radiance and other natural factors that do not seem to be happening today…[and] the recent rapid rise in CO2 explains the current episode of warming more credibly than any natural factor does…[and] no natural factor seems poised to offset further warming in the years ahead…” click here for more


    7 ways to shut down a climate change denier; Comprehensive rebuttals to contrarians' pseudo-scientific explanations why global warming is just a myth (continued below)

    John Rennie, December 18, 2013 (Scientific American)

    Challenge 3: "...Global warming stopped a decade ago; Earth has been cooling since then..." -- "...Given the extended duration of the warming trend…a decade’s worth of mild interruption is too small a deviation to prove a break in the pattern…[E]xperts found no true temperature declines over time…"

    [Challenge 4:] "...The sun or cosmic rays are much more likely to be the real causes of global warming..." -- "...Astronomical phenomena are obvious natural factors to consider…because those seem to have been major drivers of the ice ages and other climate changes before the rise of industrial civilization…[But] there is insufficient evidence that enough extra solar energy is reaching our planet to account for the observed rise in global temperatures…[And] the effect of CO2 and the other greenhouse gases…amplify the sun’s warming…[T]here do not seem to be clear long-term trends in the cosmic ray influxes or in the clouds that they are suppose to form…[and they do] not explain (as greenhouse explanations do) some of the observed patterns in how the world is getting warmer…” click here for more


    7 ways to shut down a climate change denier; Comprehensive rebuttals to contrarians' pseudo-scientific explanations why global warming is just a myth (continued below)

    John Rennie, December 18, 2013 (Scientific American)

    [Challenge 5:] "...Climatologists conspire to hide the truth about global warming by locking away their data. Their so-called “consensus” on global warming is scientifically irrelevant because science isn’t settled by popularity..." -- "...It is virtually impossible to disprove accusations of giant global conspiracies to those already convinced of them…[but] the magnitude of this hypothetical conspiracy would need to encompass many thousands of uncontroversial publications and respected scientists from around the world…If there were a massive conspiracy to defraud the world on climate (and to what end?), surely the thousands of e-mails and other files stolen from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit and distributed by hackers on November 20 would bear proof of it. So far, however, none has emerged…What is missing is any clear indication of a widespread attempt to falsify and coordinate findings on a scale that could hold together a global cabal or significantly distort the record on climate change..."

    [Challenge 6:] "...Climatologists have a vested interest in raising the alarm because it brings them money and prestige…" -- "...If climate scientists are angling for more money by hyping fears of climate change, they are not doing so very effectively…Climatologists’ funding therefore stayed almost flat while others, including those in industry, benefited handsomely…” click here for more


    7 ways to shut down a climate change denier; Comprehensive rebuttals to contrarians' pseudo-scientific explanations why global warming is just a myth (concluded)

    John Rennie, December 18, 2013 (Scientific American)

    Challenge 7: "...Technological fixes, such as inventing energy sources that don’t produce CO2 or geoengineering the climate, would be more affordable, prudent ways to address climate change than reducing our carbon footprint…" -- "...[T]echnological innovations in energy efficiency, conservation and production are exactly what caps or levies on CO2 are meant to encourage…The longer that we wait for technology alone to reduce CO2, the faster we will need for those solutions to pull CO2 out of the air to minimize the warming problems. Minimizing the scope of the challenge by restricting the accumulation of CO2 only makes sense…[And] climate change is not the only environmental crisis posed by elevated CO2: it also makes the oceans acidic, which could have irreversibly harmful effects on coral reefs and other marine life. Only the immediate mitigation of CO2 release can contain those losses…[C]ounting on future technological developments to solve climate change rather than engaging…by all available means, including regulatory ones, seems like the height of irresponsibility. But then again, responsible action on climate change is what the contrarians seem most interested in denying.” click here for more

    Thursday, December 26, 2013


    TV News and Extreme Weather: Don't Mention Climate Change

    December 18, 2013 (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting)

    “Dramatic weather-related disasters are ready made for TV news. But what's not on the screen? The human-made climate change that is affecting, and in some cases exacerbating, that extreme weather…A new FAIR survey of the national network newscasts (CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, ABC World News) finds…there were 450 segments of 200 words or more that covered extreme weather [in the first 9 months of 2013]: flooding, forest fires, tornadoes, blizzards, hurricanes and heat waves…[But] just a tiny fraction--16 segments, or 4 percent of the total--so much as mentioned the words ‘climate change,’ ‘global warming’ or ‘greenhouse gases’ …almost as if the altered climate and the weather were happening on two different planets…” click here for more


    NAACP Releases New Report Examining Energy Policies

    December 2013 (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People)

    “The NAACP has released…Just Energy Policies: Reducing Pollution and Creating Jobs…[a new report that assesses energy policy in all 50 states from a civil rights lens and] assesses states on five different criteria: Renewable portfolio standards, Energy Efficiency Resource Standards, Net Metering Standards, Local Hire Provisions, and Minority Business Enterprise provisions…[T]he report lays out the potential for each state to become a leader in clean energy…[and] a vision, supported by practical data, of the path to transitioning from energy production processes that are harmful to our communities, to energy efficiency and clean energy policy landscape that reduces pollution and creates new jobs…Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York rank as the states with the best energy policies, while Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee are ranked at the bottom…” click here for more


    Disney And Oil Industry Team Up For 'Rocking In Ohio' Event

    James Gerken, December 21, 2013 (Huffington Post)

    …“‘Rocking In Ohio" is an interactive, game show-like presentation entirely funded by the Ohio Oil and Gas Association and presented jointly with Radio Disney…challenges kids, families and dads to head-to-head games that explain the science behind resource extraction and tout the benefits of products made from fossil fuels. Children run, dance and answer questions, and are given prizes from Disney movies and the Radio Disney brand…The traveling show is part of an industry-funded outreach program called the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP), which partners industry representatives with science teachers in the state…‘Rocking In Ohio’ was performed at the Ohio State Fair in August, and since then the show has made at least 26 stops at county fairs, science centers and schools…Environmental activists are less enthusiastic about the partnership…” click here for more


    Electric Vehicle Market Forecasts; Global Forecasts for Light Duty Hybrid, Plug-In Hybrid, and Battery Electric Vehicle Sales and Vehicle Parc: 2013-2022

    4Q 2013 (Navigant Research)

    "The fast-growing market for electric vehicles (EVs), which includes hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and battery electric vehicles, has become a small but important part of the global automotive industry…Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) are widely available in North America, Western and Eastern Europe, and Asia Pacific…Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) and battery electric vehicle (BEV) models are increasing in number and will be less limited by the end of 2014 or mid-2015 in most regions…Navigant Research forecasts that Japan and the United States will be the largest markets for HEVs, with sales reaching just over 1.0 million and 1.1 million in 2022, respectively. The United States will remain the largest market for PEVs throughout the forecast period, netting more than 467,000 sales in 2022. A significant majority of the PEV sales will be PHEVs…” click here for more

    Wednesday, December 25, 2013

    Oil To The World

    Stick around for the punch line. From versusplus via YouTube

    Christmas In A Time Of Climate Change

    No comment needed. From Singsayam Whansanit via YouTube

    SunPower Celebrates Light

    Tuesday, December 24, 2013


    Move Beyond Coal; The Global Movement in 2013

    December 2013 (Sierra Club)


    As the coal industry attempts to expand its presence in the world’s largest and fastest-developing economies, one truth has emerged: The tide is turning against coal expansion. In 2013, mounting concern over the economic and environmental risks posed by coal swept through large, publicly funded international financial institutions. In the United States, President Barack Obama unveiled his Climate Action Plan, which included an end to financing for new coal plants overseas with public funds, effectively ending the coal binge at U.S. agencies, such as the U.S. Export-Import Bank.

    On the heels of this announcement, the World Bank and the European Investment Bank announced their own restrictions to funding coal plants, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is poised to follow. This dramatic shift is paving new roads for energy efficiency and renewable energy in global markets.

    This shift was propelled by mounting concerns and protests from local communities around the world. After years of growing opposition across the globe against the coal industry, the industry’s violations on human health, safety, and the environment have generated a groundswell of protest. This opposition is also a direct reaction to the failure of the coal industry to follow through on its central promise: cheap power to fuel development. Instead, local residents sacrifice their health, livelihoods, and land for power they rarely receive.

    As communities rise up in protest, the results have been staggering. All around the world, people are standing up, fighting back, and winning. This report chronicles their stories and their victories. It gives hope to the calls for a coal-free future that supports clean air, clean water, and sustainable development for all.

    Shenzhen, China


    Consuming half of the world’s coal with its nearly 3,000 coal-fired power plants, China really is the kingdom of coal. For decades, it has been assumed that China’s coal consumption will continue to grow, with no end in sight. But with catastrophic air pollution making life miserable for residents, things are starting to change, fast.

    The cancellation of a coal-fired power project in the city of Shenzhen was the first sign that coal’s future in China was uncertain. On the coast of the South China Sea in Guangdong Province, the proposed 2,000 megawatt project was a mere 50 kilometers from the urban cores of Shenzhen and Hong Kong, two megacities with populations of 10 and 7 million, respectively.

    The proposal to build new, huge coal-fired plants in one of China’s most economically advanced areas immediately hit a nerve with local residents. Greenpeace East Asia estimated that the new power plants would cause 1,700 premature deaths over their operating lives. With air pollution concerns as their rallying cry, locals made history by making the Shenzhen project the first coal plant in China that was cancelled because of environmental concerns…

    Bulga, Australia

    Bulga vs. The Giant

    In the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, there’s a backlash brewing against the open-cut coal mining that has scarred the landscape, emptied villages, and put multi-million dollar winemaking, tourism, and thoroughbred-breeding industries under threat. In 2013, a court battle pitted the residents of the small village of Bulga, home to about 400 people, against the Warkworth mine, owned by Rio Tinto. The court battle has captured the story of the Hunter Valley, and how communities are finally starting to win the fight against coal.

    Rio Tinto had secured approval from the New South Wales Government to expand the existing Warkworth mine, increasing production by 18 million tons of coal per year and bringing the mine closer to the village of Bulga. As part of the mine expansion, Rio planned to violate a prior agreement and remove a natural woodland buffer that had been set aside to be protected—one of the conditions of the mine’s original approval 10 years ago. Home to endangered ecological communities, the woodland buffer protects biodiversity and shields the town against the open-cut pits, just 6 kilometers away…

    Sundarbans, Bangladesh

    Home to rich biodiversity, including the planet’s largest mangrove forest, the endangered royal Bengal tigers, and nearly extinct Irrawaddy dolphins, the Sundarbans of Bangladesh was a finalist for the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and remains a UNESCO World Heritage site. More importantly, the forest is the first and last line of defense against rising sea levels, and it saved thousands of lives when cyclones Aila and Sidr slammed into the country in 2009 and 2007, respectively. More than 500,000 local inhabitants rely on the forest for their livelihoods, and they refuse to stand by while their way of life is under attack.

    After marching nearly 250 miles in just five days, 20,000 protesters opposed to the construction of a coal-fired power plant in the Sundarbans reached Dighraj, a remote area in the southwest of Bangladesh.

    “You look tired,” an old lady in a makeshift tea stall told Mowdud Rahman, an activist and member of Southeast Asia Renewable Energy People’s Assembly. “Please sit here for a while and have a cup of tea.”

    Rahman recounted: “I have read many books and articles. I have attended many seminars and discussions. But I was unable to fully appreciate the significance of the forest to Bangladesh until this woman, with so much at stake, told me, ‘we are with you … we shall protect this forest at any cost.’ Our very survival is tied to this forest.” …

    Brunsbuettel, Germany

    In mid-2012, German and Swiss anti-coal activists celebrated the end of the largest new hard coal power plant project in Germany. The 1.8-gigawatt, 3.2 billion-euro project in Brunsbuettel, in northern Germany, was defeated. Its story is an inspiration for coal campaigners across the European Union.

    Challenging The Energiewende

    The project was planned by a consortium of more than 60 German and Swiss municipal energy suppliers. The consortium wanted to use the project to gain a better foothold in the German energy sector, which is monopolized by four big utilities. This meant a huge challenge for activists, as they had to fight a battle on multiple fronts and take pains not to antagonize municipalities, many of which are important allies in the Energiewende (Germany’s renewable energy revolution). Despite these concerns, it was important to send an unmistakable message that municipal investments in new coal would be fought to the bitter end…

    Batang, Indonesia

    Batang Community Versus A Mammoth Dirty COAL Power Plant

    Indonesia is the world’s largest thermal coal exporter. In 2012, Indonesian coal production reached 386 million tons, 85 percent of which was exported to just a few countries in Asia. This mammoth mining and export industry exacts a significant toll on the country’s pristine forests and its communities. All across the country, its expansion threatens Indonesians’ way of life.

    But it’s not just exports that threaten local residents. Indonesia relies heavily on dirty and outdated coal for its electricity production, and the government is on its way to locking in a dark, dangerous energy future for the nation. There are plans to build 117 new coal power plants across the country—this in addition to the existing 42 coal-fired power plants that are already polluting and destroying the livelihood and health of nearby communities. This is the story of one community that stood up, fought back, and is winning…

    Matanuska Valley, Alaska

    Alaska is known for its pristine wilderness, indigenous cultures, abundant wildlife, and prolific salmon streams. But it also holds a little-known secret: A staggering 5.5 trillion tons of coal, one eighth of all of the coal on earth, lies under its surface. With eight new coal mining projects in the state, the coal industry has Alaska in its sights – and the global climate would be imperiled if these projects became a reality. Beyond opening the floodgates to releasing massive amounts of untapped carbon into the atmosphere, these proposed coal mines would have devastating consequences on the lands, water, and people of Alaska. The coal industry’s proposals include drastic plans such as mining directly through 11 miles of wild salmon streams and strip-mining within a quarter – mile of a residential neighborhood. Locals near the proposed coal mines knew this threat had to be stopped…

    Vidarbha, Maharashtra, India

    Endangered Waters

    The Indian state of Maharashtra has two very different halves. The western side is comparatively well-off, home to Bollywood stars and billionaires in hectic Mumbai, as well as many rich sugarcane farmers in the lush, well-irrigated fields that surround the megacity. The situation in Vidarbha, the eastern region of Maharashtra, is very different.

    Years of neglect by the state government have left the farmers there stuck in a vicious cycle of debt and poverty. Yearly crop failure, exacerbated by a changing monsoon, pushes many of these farmers to breaking point, and every summer there is a spate of suicides. This year, nearly 700 farmers have committed suicide in Vidarbha. Most do so by consuming their own pesticides.

    In this situation, irrigation can literally be a lifeline. Several big dams built in Vidarbha brought hardship and were decidedly a mixed blessing, as they flooded valleys and displaced villages in their oceanic backwaters, but at least they provided valuable irrigation. One of them, the Upper Wardha dam, irrigated 80,250 hectares of farmland through a canal network branching out from either side.

    Farmers in the dam’s command area could grow a second or even third crop of cotton each year, and their situation improved accordingly. Dam water not being used for irrigation was mostly piped to villages to be used as drinking water. Demand was high, and by 2008, the reserves of the Upper Wardha dam were already over-allocated.


    These are just a few of the grassroots struggles to stop dangerous coal projects currently underway from Thailand to Chile, Romania to South Africa. Often local communities face violence and intimidation at the hands of corporations or government officials seeking to benefit from the destruction. But with their land, air, and water at stake, communities are not backing down. They are demanding control of their futures and the clean energy alternatives that can bring electricity today, without deadly pollution or costly grid extensions that may never come. More important, though, they are winning, and in doing so, they are changing not only their own futures, but all our futures.


    CHRISTMAS EVE VIDEOS, 2013: An Urgent Message From Santa; An Activist Holiday Greeting; Solar Brings The Action

    An Urgent Message From Santa

    From HDAnuncios via YouTube

    An Activist Holiday Greeting

    From Yan Piebird via YouTube

    Solar Brings The Action

    “It’s clear and right to use the sunlight.” From SolarEdgePV via YouTube

    Monday, December 23, 2013


    Smart Grid Consumer Survey; Consumer Attitudes and Opinions about Smart Grids, Smart Meters, Smart Thermostats, Home Energy Management, and Demand Response

    Charul Vyas and Neil Strother, 4Q 2013 (Navigant Research)

    Executive Summary


    As smart grid rollouts continue in the United States, albeit at a pace slower than in previous years, utilities and vendors are looking for ways to maximize the impact of these deployments.

    Some of the possible applications of smart grid and smart meter deployments include demand response (DR) programs, home energy management (HEM) bundles, and smart thermostats. While these offerings have the potential to save consumers money by reducing their energy consumption, end-user interest remains moderate to low at the present time.

    In order to better understand consumer interest and attitudes related to a select group of smart grid concepts, Navigant Research conducted a web-based survey of 1,084 consumers in the United States. The survey was executed in the fall of 2013 using a nationally representative and demographically balanced sample.

    The key findings of the survey are summarized in this report. More specifically, the Smart Grid Consumer Survey analyzes the dynamics of consumer demand, favorability, and attitudes toward several key smart grid product and service categories: smart grids and smart meters, smart thermostats, HEM bundles, and DR.

    Key Findings

    » Approximately two-thirds of consumers had a favorable or neutral view of smart grids and smart meters. Overall, the percentage of respondents that held a favorable view of smart grids remained steady with the 2012 survey, while the percentage that held a positive view of smart meters increased slightly.

    » Less than 40% of consumers expressed a high degree of interest in smart thermostats. While consumers like the idea of smart thermostats being able to learn and adapt to their preferred settings, connecting to the Internet via Wi-Fi to remotely control the thermostat, the ability to connect to the utility’s energy savings programs, and controlling the thermostat from a smart phone, the majority are not willing to pay more than $100 for the product.

    » In general, interest in smart thermostats and DR services increased with respect to higher annual incomes and monthly electric bills, but decreased with respect to increasing age.

    » Less than one-quarter of respondents expressed a high degree of interest in HEM bundles. Interest increases with respect to income and monthly electric bill, and close to 61% expect such an offering to save them 15% or more on their monthly electric bill.

    » Interest in DR programs has not yet materialized. Nearly 40% of respondents said they were not interested in this type of program. The main reasons for the lack of interest were privacy concerns and lack of understanding of DR programs.

    » Even with the addition of a rebate or credit on the energy bill, consumer interest in DR programs did not show a significant change. However, the level of interest was highest among respondents in the 55 to 64 age bracket and those with reported annual income in the $50,000 to $100,000 range.

    » Consumer expectation of savings that can be derived from new technologies and programs, such as DR and smart thermostats, is likely above current capabilities. For example, 30% of consumers expect a smart thermostat to produce a savings of 20% or more, and 47% of consumers expect a DR program to produce a savings of 20% or more.

    » Utilities and other stakeholders in the sector will continue to struggle with how to most effectively engage consumers in regard to managing their energy use. Models for how to do this are just beginning to be established and proven out. However, it is still early in the adoption cycle for many of the approaches that utilities need consumers to embrace in order to achieve desired energy and capacity savings.

    Chart 1.1 below shows the percentage of respondents who viewed smart grids and smart meters in a neutral or favorable light. Respondents held slightly more favorable/neutral opinions on smart meters (70%) than on smart grids (66%)…

    Smart Grid and Smart Meters…Smart Thermostats…Home Energy Management Bundles…Demand Response…

    Summary and Conclusions

    Navigant Research’s 2013 Smart Grid Consumer Survey highlights the fact that end users have yet to see many of the benefits provided by smart grid-enabled services and programs. While some utilities have had success in delivering their messages about the value of the smart grid – especially with respect to the meters themselves – Navigant Research’s survey shows that the link between programs, services, and products that leverage smart grid capabilities and the benefits to consumers is still weak in the end users’ minds. The fact that these consumers’ views of smart meters and smart grids have not changed a great deal over the past 2 years, and that interest in other offerings, such as DR, smart thermostats, and HEM bundles is low to moderate, means it will take several more years for these technologies to reach meaningful adoption levels.

    In order to move into mass-market adoption, utilities, service providers, and technology vendors will need to focus on several key areas:

    » Finding the right price point: Consumers are very price sensitive, and a high price for a product or service is likely to turn them away from the offering. Vendors must find the right balance between the price consumers are willing to pay and the price they need to charge in order to achieve profitability.

    » A clear value proposition: Consumers are reluctant to sign up for an HEM bundle or buy a smart thermostat because they are not sure what the benefits will be. Since expectations of reduction in energy bills are high, there must be a concerted effort to demonstrate the cost savings benefits, while modulating those expectations that are not likely to be practical, for each of the areas discussed in this report.

    » Continued education: All ecosystem players need to more clearly and effectively communicate the benefits of these technologies, including cost savings and benefits to the environment, as well a return on investment when consumers are required to purchase a product or a service. The study shows that many consumers are not familiar with smart grid offerings or their benefits. If executed effectively, such marketing efforts will help drive awareness of and favorability toward smart grid technologies.

    » Redefining savings: While a consumer may not be willing to spend money on a product or service that has limited payoff the first year, vendors can shift the discussion to savings achieved over the device’s lifetime, or savings over the course of many years, to help consumers see the long-term value of these offerings. A longer-term view could help move consumers off the sidelines and encourage broader adoption of products and services.


    » Reassurance of privacy: As seen in previous years, consumers continue to be wary of “Big Brother” and the monitoring aspects of DR programs. The security concerns around smart home technologies, both real and perceived, need to be addressed sooner rather than later.

    As Navigant Research’s survey shows, each type of program and technology has a different level of interest and favorability in the eyes of the consumer. Therefore, these specifics must be taken into account and addressed as utilities and vendors fine-tune their efforts to drive adoption.