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Every day is Earthday.

Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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Your intrepid reporter

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

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  • Wednesday, December 3, 2014

    TURNING SOLAR AROUND

    Why More Solar Panels Should Be Facing West, Not South

    Matthew L. Wald, December 1, 2014 (NY Times)

    “…A new study of 110,000 California houses with rooftop solar systems confirmed that a vast majority of the panels were pointed south because most of the panel owners were paid by the number of kilowatt­-hours the panels produced…Electricity prices are higher at [the late afternoon] period of peak demand…Houses with solar systems consume less than half as much utility­delivered electricity as ordinary houses, the study found. But from about 4 p.m. through the night, they consume more, and they add to the system’s peak demand, which comes around 5 p.m…

    “Pointing panels to the west means that in the hour beginning at 5 p.m., they produce 55 percent of their peak output. So a 10-kilowatt system would make 5.5 kilowatts. But point them to the south to maximize total output, and when the electric grid needs it most, they are producing only 15 percent of peak, or 1.5 kilowatts…While some solar panel owners are paid time­of­use rates and are compensated by the utility in proportion to prices on the wholesale electric grid, many panel owners cannot take advantage of the higher value of electricity at peak hours because they are paid a flat rate…So the payment system creates an incentive for the homeowner to do the wrong thing…” click here for more

    IKEA BUYS BIG WIND

    IKEA Group Purchases 165 MW Wind Farm In Texas — Largest Renewable Energy Investment Made By IKEA To Date

    James Ayre, November 29, 2014 (Clean Technica)

    “The IKEA Group has purchased a 165 MW wind farm in Cameron County, Texas…[It is] the biggest renewable energy investment made by the group to date, worldwide…[and a significant] move towards the achievement of the IKEA Group’s goal of producing at least as much energy via renewable energy as the company uses every year globally…[The Cameron Wind Farm will use 55 Acciona 3-MW turbines and be fully owned by the IKEA Group. It will be constructed and managed by renewable energy company Apex Clean Energy and is] expected to be operational by the end of 2015…IKEA has [now] committed to the purchase and operation of 279 wind turbines, across nine countries. By the end of 2015, a total of $1.9 billion will have been invested in wind and solar power…IKEA renewable energy investments in the US to date now include: 104 wind turbines…165,000 solar panels installed on 90% of IKEA buildings across the US, providing an additional 38 MW installed capacity; and geothermal integrated into the heating and cooling systems of two US store locations…” click here for more

    NAVY TO TEST ADVANCED VANADIUM FLOW BATTERIES

    Imergy Power Systems' Flow Batteries Selected for Navy/California Energy Commission Microgrid Demonstration Project

    December 1, 2014 (Power Engineering International)

    “…Foresight Renewable Solutions has selected Imergy Power Systems' ESP30 series vanadium-based flow batteries for a Smart Microgrid project sponsored by the California Energy Commission (CEC)…To be deployed at the [U.S.] Navy's Mobile Utilities Support Equipment (MUSE) Facility in Port Hueneme, California, the Smart Microgrid project will focus on developing applications and use-case scenarios to optimize power consumption at military bases, college campuses, industrial parks and other institutions…

    “The project will demonstrate how well the system can release short bursts of energy when demand peaks occur…will prove how well the system can shift load from higher cost [to lower cost times of day]…will show how well batteries can smooth out the jagged nature of solar power production…[and] will demonstrate how well a photovoltaic (PV) solar system and battery storage, disconnected from the grid, can provide energy for a user's critical loads…Three Imergy ESP30 series vanadium-based flow batteries will be incorporated…[with] a 50 kW PV solar panel system and GELI's Energy Operating System (EOS) to automate the multiple applications. The ESP30 series has a capacity of up to 50 kilowatts (kW) and can store up to 200 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity…Worldwide revenue from energy storage for the grid and ancillary services is expected to grow from $675 million annually in 2014 to $15.6 billion in 2024, according to a report from Navigant Research…” click here for more

    Tuesday, December 2, 2014

    REAGAN’S SEC-STATE AFFIRMS CLIMATE FIGHT

    Reagan Man Gone Solar Is Hint of a Thaw in U.S. Climate Debate

    Alex Nussbaum, Mark Chediak and Zain Shauk Decedmber 1, 2014 (Bloomberg News)

    “As Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state, George Shultz faced off against Muammar Qaddafi, the Soviet Union and Chinese communists…His latest cause, though, is one few fellow Republicans support: fighting climate change…Shultz, now a distinguished fellow at Stanford University, said the reality was driven home for him…[when] Gary Roughead, the U.S. Navy’s retired chief of naval operations…shared a time-lapse video of the Arctic ice cap shrinking over the last quarter-century…Opinion surveys show…[37 percent of Republicans and 61 percent of all Americans] believe there’s solid evidence the earth is warming…Republicans who buck the climate view within their party say they’re motivated by signs that the greenhouse effect is no longer an abstract threat…

    “The concerns make for a natural alliance between national-security hawks concerned about energy independence and climate activists who want to reduce heat-trapping pollution from fossil fuels, Shultz said…In June, he joined Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, a Republican, in signing onto a bipartisan report that said a warmer climate could cause hundreds of billions of dollars in economic losses. Hank Paulson, George W. Bush’s former treasury secretary, was another signatory…Shultz, a former University of Chicago economics professor, supports a system to reduce emissions through a revenue neutral tax on fossil fuels that would recycle the money collected back to citizens in the form of a carbon dividend check…The consequences of not acting could affect more than just the environment, he said. It could involve national security as well, creating new political, health and social threats globally…” click here for more

    THE LIFE CYCLE IMPACTS OF WIND

    Siemens’ Wind Farm Life Cycle Assessments

    December 1, 2014 (Energy Matters)

    “German wind energy company Siemens has published… Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) of four defined Siemens wind power projects: two offshore wind plants with 80 wind turbines, and two onshore wind projects with 20 wind turbines…LCAs are a cradle-to-grave tool for calculating the energy payback time of a power generation system – the amount of time a plant must operate to produce as much energy as it consumes…An onshore wind farm featuring 20 Siemens SWT-3.2-113 wind turbines shows an energy payback time of 4.5 months. During its entire life-cycle it will produce 57 times more energy than it consumes and just four grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour (g/kWh) of electricity generated, compared to 865 g/kWh for a fossil fuel powered plant. This return includes all manufacturing, installation, operations, maintenance and dismantling of the wind farm over an estimated 25-year life cycle…Even greater savings are found in examination of an offshore wind project…[with] a CO2 emission of only seven g/kWh compared to the 865 g/kWh found with average global fossil power production.” click here for more

    MICHIGAN ENERGY SHORTAGE COMING?

    Utilities' report warns of energy shortage: Consumers, DTE urge building new power plants

    Jay Greene, November 30, 2014 (Crain’s Detroit Business)

    “Michigan's two largest utilities -- Consumers Energy and DTE Energy Co. -- are mounting a major public relations effort to make legislators and electric customers aware that a shortage of power generation reserve could occur in Michigan and the Midwest starting in 2016…[According to Electric Reliability in Michigan: The Challenge Ahead] the planned retirement of nine coal-fired power plants in Michigan over the next two years, reliability now also means the ability of power companies to provide adequate electricity to customers at peak demand…[The report explains] the difficulty that utility companies have in planning for future power generation…Although greater reliance on energy efficiency and renewable energy generation can increase electric supplies, DTE and Consumers officials say there is an urgent need to start planning to build new base load [natural gas] power plants…[that take] as long as six years to complete…[A] coalition of consumers, businesses and alternative energy suppliers…[argues that] allowing free choice of utilities or alternative suppliers would create competition that would force DTE and Consumers to reduce rates to keep their customers and market share…[and that more participation in regional grid operations will cut costs and increase reliability]…” click here for more

    Monday, December 1, 2014

    LESS SOLAR, MORE DEFENSE IN INDIA

    India Slashes Solar Energy Goals For Defence Forces

    Mridul Chadha, November 29, 2014 (Clean Technica)

    “…The Indian defence forces have clarified to the government that they do not have any surplus land available to set up large-scale solar power projects. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy had initially planned to set up 1 GW of solar power capacity at currently unused land owned by the defence forces…The Department of Defence and Services has now clarified that it would use the large tracts of unused land for military purposes only. This has forced the Ministry to reduce its initial capacity addition target to just 300 MW…This capacity is expected to be fully installed by 2019, and the Ministry would provide a viability gap funding of Rs 750 crore ($125 million). These projects will sell electricity at a fixed rate of Rs 5,500 ($91.7) per MWh for a period of 25 years…In order to support domestic solar module manufacturers, the government decided to ask its own institutions like the defence forces and public sector companies to set up solar power plants…[T]he government may now have to ask state-owned power companies like NTPC, BHEL, and NHPC to enhance their own solar power capacity addition targets.” click here for more

    WHY CONGRESS SHOULD SAVE WIND

    Congress could revive tax credit for wind energy

    Sammy Roth, November 27, 2014 (The Desert Sun)

    “…The production tax credit for wind and other renewables expired at the end of 2013, bringing wind development in the United States to a screeching halt…[Wind advocates say] the production tax credit has made wind power in the United States more reliable because [by paying 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour for electricity produced over the first 10 years of the project life] it incentivizes developers to produce — unlike wind subsidies in some countries, which reward investment or equipment installation… China had 50 percent more wind-generating capacity than the United States last year. But the United States produced about 20 percent more wind energy than China did…Bringing back the production tax credit is a rare renewable energy priority with significant Republican support…But [Congressional efforts in the next two weeks’ lame duck session] to bring back the production tax credit…have faced stiff opposition from groups backed by the fossil fuel industry… [though] coal, oil and natural gas received about $594 billion in incentives between 1950 and 2010 [while solar], wind and geothermal received about $81 billion during those years…Wind advocates are pushing for the production tax credit to be extended through at least the end of 2015, including a retroactive extension allowing projects that started construction this year to qualify…” click here for more

    ADVANCED GEOTHERMAL ON THE VERGE

    The Newberry Volcano Enhanced Geothermal Project: The Most Important Power Plant In The Country?

    Peter Kelley-Detweiler, November 6, 2014 (Forbes)

    “…On the Newbery Volcano, AltaRock Energy is engaged in a project to mine the earth’s heat two miles down and turn it into a reliable and cost-effective supply of electricity…EGS works by drilling a hole into the ground, and pumping water – with a biodegradable diverter, which enhances the fracture process – into a closed loop system to create fractures in the rock. Additional water is added (once the reservoir is saturated, very little water is lost in the closed loop) to absorb heat from the rock, which turns to steam at the surface and drives a turbine…

    “…[An MIT study] noted, EGS is attractive for several reasons, including the fact that it provides virtually carbon free baseload (round the clock) electricity and the source rock resource exists widely throughout the United States. The plants are also highly scalable because they are modular…[and concluded that with] a combined public/private investment of about $800 million to $1 billion over a 15-year period, EGS technology could…produce more than 100,000 MWe of new capacity by 2050… EGS is a very different technology than hydro-fracking for natural gas…EGS stimulations result in seismicity that is lower than a packed football stadium during a big NFL game…[and] AltaRock is using a closed loop…With the development of the greenfield Newberry Volcano site, AltaRock is working to morph theory into reality… Newberry is a proof-of-concept well…” click here for more

    Wednesday, November 26, 2014

    WHY PEOPLE DENY CLIMATE CHANGE

    Here's Why People Don't Believe In Climate Change

    Natasha Bertrand, November 25, 2014 (Business Insider)

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

    THE FORCE OF SOLAR

    Solar power charging ahead in America

    Trevor Hughes, November 24, 2014 (USA Today)

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

    POWER ELECTRONICS MARKETS TO BOOM

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

    November 19, 2014 (Lux Research)

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

    Tuesday, November 25, 2014

    THE PRESIDENT’S CLIMATE CHANGER

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

    Ben Geman, November 22, 2014 (National Journal)

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

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

    SOLAR AND WIND BEAT COAL, GAS ON PRICE

    Solar and Wind Energy Start to Win on Price vs. Conventional Fuels

    Diane Cardwell, November 23, 2014 (NY Times)

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