NewEnergyNews More: November 2009

NewEnergyNews More

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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  • Monday, November 30, 2009

    NEW WIRES, RECORD WIND

    Texas wind power sets record as congestion eases
    Eileen O’Grady (w/Walter Bagley), November 30, 2009 (Reuters)

    "…The amount of electricity produced from wind farms [in Texas, the U.S. state with the most capacity to turn wind into electricity,] on the evening of Oct. 28 set a record at 6,223 megawatts, nearly 70 percent of the 8,916 MW of installed wind capacity in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas [surprising even the power grid operator], ERCOT said…

    "Electricity produced from wind turbines generally averages 30 to 40 percent of the nameplate capacity…In the pre-dawn hours that day, ERCOT recorded 5,667 MW of wind generation, 25 percent of the existing load at the time."


    There's the east, the west and Texas-ERCOT. (click to enlarge)

    "Wind generation, which has been steadily climbing in Texas since 2006, has outstripped the 4,000 MW of existing transmission capacity available to move the power from remote areas of West Texas, where wind farms are located, to large cities, like Dallas and San Antonio, that consume the power…So far this year, wind accounted for 6 percent of the electricity produced in ERCOT, up from 4.6 percent a year ago.

    "Trip Doggett, ERCOT's interim chief executive, attributed October's wind record to a 200-mile private transmission line built by a unit of FPL Group and other unique factors…NextEra Energy Resources' new 345-kilovolt line, dubbed the "Texas Clean Energy Express," can move 950 MW of power from two NextEra wind farms in West Texas to ERCOT's South zone, effectively removing that generation from previously congested transmission paths…"


    Texas is setting the standard in U.S. wind. (click to enlarge)

    "While Doggett said the 6,200 MW of wind on the grid was "unusual," he predicted it's a sign of the future…Power output from wind turbines can rise and fall rapidly as weather fronts pass through, creating a challenge for the grid operator to keep electric supply and demand in balance…[But since a February 2007 disruption] ERCOT has improved its wind forecasts and West Texas wind farms' volatility has been somewhat offset by new wind farms built along the Texas coast.

    "Texas is working to add more than 2,300 miles of transmission in a $5 billion plan to expand wind capacity to 18,500 MW by late 2013…Developers are seeking to add nearly 44,000 MW of wind, more than half the new generation seen in planning stages over the next few years…"

    A RIGHT TO SUN

    Solar panels causing some storms; Even as California and the federal government encourage solar power, homeowners often have to fight homeowners associations for their right to install the systems.
    Catherine Saillant, November 30, 2009 (LA Times)

    "…Camarillo resident Marc Weinberg last year asked his homeowners association for permission to put solar panels on his roof…When the Spanish Hills Homeowners Assn. said no, Weinberg sued the group. Under the state's Solar Rights Act, he argued, a homeowners association can't unreasonably block solar installations.

    "Weinberg won, and the Spanish Hills Homeowners Assn. was ordered to not only permit the solar panels but to cover the tens of thousands of dollars that Weinberg had spent on legal fees. Since last fall, when he installed a double row of matte black panels, three other homes in the hilltop neighborhood of luxury estates have added panels…[S]imilar battles between homeowners groups and property owners are cropping up across the state as the installation of solar systems becomes more affordable and utility costs rise…Homeowners boards insist that they are protecting property values…[R]esidents say their right to invest in alternative energy trumps the sensibilities of neighbors who don't like how the panels look…"


    click to enlarge

    "Santa Clarita homeowner Marty Griffin put solar panels up anyway after his homeowners association rejected his application. The Tesoro Del Valle Homeowners Assn. sued him, and in early November a jury told Griffin the panels should be moved to a more discreet spot…Solar installer Bradley Bartz earlier this year threatened a Palos Verdes commun- ity group with legal action after it denied three clients…He filed a claim against the city of Torrance after it rejected another client's application. In all four cases, Bartz said, he prevailed.

    "Homeowners' main defense is the Solar Rights Act, adopted by California in 1978 to protect consumers' right to install solar energy technology. The law makes it difficult for homeowners groups to reject solar energy equipment unless it creates a safety hazard or a modification can be made without great cost…Now, solar advocates are pushing for a federal version of the California law. Energy legislation that moved through the House…would make it illegal for HOA rules, leases or private contracts to prohibit the installation of solar systems…It's uncertain whether the Senate will keep the language…Industry officials say fewer regulatory hassles would speed the growth of jobs and move the nation closer to energy independence…Commun- ity Associations Institute…advises striking a balance between conservation and aesthetics…"


    click to enlarge

    "California two years ago launched a $3.3-billion effort to increase the use of solar statewide…Since then, the number of homes and businesses with installed solar has [grown] from 23,000 in 2006 to 52,700…The cost of small solar systems declined 9% in the last year and larger installations have fallen 13%…Still, the state is far from being on track to its goal of adding 3,000 megawatts in solar panels by 2016, sufficient to power 600,000 homes…

    "The heightened activity has produced more battles, not just in California but across the nation. A Woodbury, Minn., man was reportedly denied permission to install solar panels on his roof because his homeowners association found them too obtrusive…In Somerset County, N.J., a homeowner was reportedly ordered to remove 28 installed panels. In Avondale, Ariz., retiree Hank Speak has been fighting for more than six years to keep his solar equipment. Arguing that the panels were ugly, his homeowners group imposed huge fines…But last year, an Arizona judge ruled that the association's restrictions were contrary to the state's support of solar power…Several states, including California, Arizona, Colorado and Florida, have laws that prevent homeowner groups from imposing too many restrictions. But…homeowners sometimes have to fight for their rights…"

    MAKING WAVE ENERGY DURABLE

    On the Crest of Wave Energy: An aerospace approach
    November 19, 2009 (Scientific Computing)

    "The ocean is a potentially vast source of electric power, yet as engineers test new technologies for capturing it, the devices are plagued by battering storms, limited efficiency and the need to be tethered to the seafloor. Now, a team of aerospace engineers is applying the principles that keep airplanes aloft to create a new wave-energy system that is durable, extremely efficient and can be placed anywhere in the ocean, regardless of depth.

    "While still in early design stages, computer and scale-model tests of the system suggest higher efficiencies than wind turbines. The system is designed to effectively cancel incoming waves, capturing their energy while flattening them out, providing an added application as a storm-wave breaker… [lead researcher Stefan Siegel and his team from the U.S. Air Force Academy] developed a system that uses lift instead of drag to cause the propeller blades to move [with sensors and adjustable parts to control how fluids flow around airfoils like wings]…"


    Blades turned vertically. (click to enlarge)

    "Windmills have active controls that turn the blades to compensate for storm winds, eliminating lift when it is a risk, and preventing damage. The Air Force Academy researchers used the same approach with a hydrofoil (equivalent to an airfoil, but for water) and built it into a cycloidal propeller, a design that emerged in the 1930s and currently propels tugboats, ferries and other highly maneuverable ships.

    "The researchers changed the propeller orientation from horizontal to vertical, allowing direct interaction with the cyclic, up and down motion of wave energy. The researchers also developed individual control systems for each propeller blade, allowing sophisticated manipulations that maximize (or minimize, in the case of storms) interaction with wave energy."


    A look under wave energy's hood. (click to enlarge)

    "…[T]he goal is to keep the flow direction and blade direction constant, cancelling the incoming wave and using standard gear-driven or direct-drive generators to convert the wave energy into electric energy. A propeller that is exactly out of phase with a wave will cancel that wave and maximize energy output…[and allow] the float-mounted devices to function without the need of mooring, important for deep-sea locations that hold tremendous wave energy potential and are currently out of reach for many existing wave energy designs.

    "While the final device may be as large as 40 meters across, laboratory models are currently less than a meter in diameter. A larger version of the system will be tested next year at…Oregon State University…"

    THE CAR’S FUTURE POSTPONED

    Aptera’s High-Flying Plans Are Temporarily Grounded
    Jerry Garrett, November 18, 2009 (NY Times)

    "The money is nearly gone, and the same can be said of the co-founders, at the fledgling electric-vehicle manufacturer Aptera…[It will scale] down operations until more development money could be found. Aptera, which also stands for “wingless flight,” had been seeking government help to get its three-wheeled vehicle, the 2e, off the ground. Such funds have been restricted to four-wheeled vehicles…[The result:] No money, no car…Among [employees laid off] were the co-founders Steve Fambro and Chris Anthony…

    "The Aptera 2e was to have gone on sale by the end of this year. [Aptera chief executive Paul Wilbur] said the first vehicles would [now] not be completed now until sometime in 2010. He said 4,000 fully refundable deposits have been received from eager would-be customers, even though the vehicle’s price still has not been disclosed."


    From greentechmedia via YouTube

    "The airplane-like Aptera 2e is touted as being capable of the equivalent fuel economy of more than 200 miles per gallon. Startup funding has come from companies such as Google and IdeaLab…"

    [Paul Wilbur, chief executive, Aptera:] “Aptera management is being a prudent steward of all resources to ensure future viability for the company and strong returns for its stakeholders…Therefore, we’ll begin volume production vehicles once our current series of private funding has closed or when we secure financing through the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicle loan program, whichever comes first…I’m as disappointed as any of our depositors and loyal followers around the country that we’re delaying initial production. There’s no one who’s more anxious than we are to put the 2e on the road.”

    Sunday, November 29, 2009

    MICHIGAN LOCALS GET READY FOR WIND

    Study says large wind turbines to be local decision
    Dave Alexander, November 29, 2009 (Muskegon Chronicle)

    "…[H]ow “big” wind will become in Michigan’s energy future is still an unknown…Whichever way the industry turns, it will be up to local governments to decide where and how the big turbine towers will be built…

    "A group of Grand Valley State University researchers has begun a wind energy study on the potentials and pitfalls of renewable power production in a four-county West Michigan shoreline region. The three-year study comes on the heels of a state mandate that 10 percent of Michigan’s electrical generation must come from renewable sources by 2015."


    click to enlarge

    [from Regional Response to a Statewide Renewable Energy Standard; Status and Trends of Wind Energy Development in West Michigan, the Grand Valley State University first report:] “The demand for renewable energy, and wind energy in particular, is growing rapidly…The challenge will be to supply the quantity of renewable energy needed to meet this demand in a manner that is economically, socially and environmentally appropriate…Though state government issued the renewable energy mandate, managing the deployment of wind energy facilities is left to local governments…While one wind turbine might be viewed as a curiosity, the deployment of thousands of wind energy facilities required to meet various renewable energy targets will bring changes to the nation’s landscapes, communities and economies…”

    "Many township governments in the four counties — Muskegon, Oceana, Ottawa and Allegan — have responded with ordinances regulating utility-scale wind turbines. Thirty-seven of the 73 townships in the four counties have wind tower ordinances…"

    click to enlarge

    "GVSU researcher Erik Nordman — head of the Natural Resources Management program and chief wind study investigator — said public reaction to plans…are key to the technology’s future in West Michigan…

    "As GVSU researchers continue to work on their wind study, public opinion will begin to be collected. The study team will have workshops and public meetings throughout the region next summer…and will establish social networking outreaches through Facebook and Twitter…The next report is scheduled to be released in November 2010 and final reports in February and May 2011."

    EVER MORE AFFORDABLE SUN

    A Competitive Boost For Solar Energy; With expanded production bringing down panel prices, a green energy outfitter claims price parity with grid power is near.
    Christopher Helman, November 25, 2009 (Forbes)

    "The dream of every green energy acolyte is that there will come a time when it is no stranger for homes to have solar panels than to have air conditioning units…John Berger, chief executive of Standard Renewable Energy, thinks that in the next decade the U.S. could get well down the road to making that a reality

    "Houston-based Standard Renewable got 75% of its $35 million in revenue this year from installing solar systems. Just 10 months ago it was buying solar panels from the likes of Kyocera, BP, SunPower and First Solar for $4 per watt. Today, prices have plunged to $1.90 a watt."


    click to enlarge

    "It's not for lack of demand. What's brought prices down is a surge in worldwide manufacturing capacity. New plants have opened across China. Factories are even coming to the U.S…[S]olar power is starting to look affordable and even competitive with grid power…Berger says Standard has installed residential solar systems for as little as $4 per watt. [Berger has expanded Standard…Revenues have tripled in the past year and profitability is in sight…He's hired 130 new employees since July…bringing his total staff to 330…[and] Berger says now's the time to buy solar, as many state and local rebates will run out over the next year or so…]

    "…[F]or 31 metropolitan areas, factoring in average sunshine and cloud cover, applying the federal government's 30% investment tax credit…assuming that a homeowner can finance a system at the going mortgage rate of around 5%…[and amortized] over 20 years, the effective rate that a homeowner would pay for [solar] electricity in the New York metro area is 12.7 cents per kilowatt/hour. In Dallas it's 11 cents/kwh, and in Las Vegas, just 9.3 cents…The nationwide average residential electricity price is 12.05 cents…"


    click to enlarge

    "Add in generous subsidies on municipal and state levels…and the cost goes even lower…And…All this new panel production online is squeezing margins of big players like First Solar, whose shares have fallen 40% since May. Berger thinks that panel makers' profit margins, now around 15%, will fade closer to 7% in the years to come--in line with the makers of other kinds of silicon-based chips…[S]olar would also be helped by any carbon emissions legislation that might pass Congress…Carbon cap-and-trade would inevitably add costs to power generated from coal and natural gas…

    "…[Solar] is a distributed source of power generation…No need to build new transmission lines…[But the] average home system that Standard Renewable installs is a 3.5 kw system that will produce, on average, 4,900 kwh of electricity a year, or less than a third of the average home's electricity usage. It'll cost roughly $14,000 installed…If your utility charges, say, 13 cents per kwh, the system will pay for itself in 22 years."

    CAP&TRADE SIMPLIFIED

    FACTBOX-How emissions trading works
    David Fogarty (w/Gerard Wynn and Sanjeev Miglani) November 24, 2009 (Reuters via Forbes)

    "…Following are some facts on carbon trading…

    "WHAT IS THE AIM?…Carbon dioxide, produced by burning fossil fuels or through deforestation, is the main greenhouse gas that scientists say is heating up the atmosphere, causing seas to rise and greater extremes of weather…Putting a price on every tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by industry and transport or saved from being emitted by being more efficient or locking away carbon by growing trees provides a cash incentive to curb carbon pollution."


    click to enlarge

    "HOW DOES IT WORK?…Carbon markets allow polluters to buy rights to emit CO2 and are often seen as more politically acceptable than carbon taxes…[A] cap is created by making it illegal to emit greenhouse gases, such as CO2, above a certain level…A government issues a limited quantity of emission permits for polluting companies or operations. At the end of each year, firms will be required to surrender permits equivalent to their emissions.

    "If companies exceed their limit they can buy allowances from other polluters which stay under their cap or from a government auction…Over time the cap is toughened and the amount of permits also decreases, pushing up the carbon permit price and forcing companies to become more efficient and invest in cleaner technology…Under the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol, 37 industrialised nations face greenhouse gas limits, creating a multi-billion dollar market in offsets from clean-energy projects in developing countries."


    click to enlarge

    "WHAT'S THE POTENTIAL FOR THIS MARKET? …[T]he global carbon market could be worth $2 trillion by 2020, from $125 billion last year…Europe's [Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS)] is the largest and the only domestic cap-and-trade system operating. The separate…[Kyoto Protocol/UN system] called the Clean Development Mechanism is worth about $6.5 billion.

    "The [ETS]…launched 2005, is mandatory for all 27 member states and covers nearly half of all EU carbon emissions…The target is to cut emissions 21 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. Member states allocate a quota of carbon emissions allowances to 11,000 industrial installations…[M]ost permits [are] free now but many electricity generators will have to pay for all these from 2013…Companies can buy carbon offsets from developing countries if that works out cheaper than cutting their own emissions…"

    INSURERS FRET OVER CLIMATE CHANGE LOSSES

    Avoiding Catastrophic Costs of Climate Change Requires Fast-Action Strategies
    Alex Viets, November 23, 2009 (Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development)

    "…[Major Tipping Points in the Earth’s Climate System and Consequences for the Insurance Sector] by Dr. Tim Lenton and colleagues published…by the World Widelife Fund (WWF) and Allianz, a global financial service provider, puts a dollar value on the damages the world faces from passing fast-approaching tipping points for abrupt climate changes…The amounts are staggering:

    "…[1] A hurricane in the New York region: “Potentially the cost could be 1 trillion dollars at present, rising to over 5 trillion dollars by mid-century” …[2] Die-back of the Amazon: “Beyond ~2 °C the costs of committed die-back rise very rapidly and more than double to around $US 7,800 billion and $US 9,400 billion NPV [net present value] for 3 °C and 4 °C respectively…” …and [3] Changes in Asian monsoon patterns: “future costs (in today’s prices) might be expected to double from around $US 21 billion to $US 42 billion per decade in the first half of the century…other factors are likely to act to increase these costs and consequences in the same period.”


    click to enlarge

    [Durwood Zaelke, President, Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development:] “Putting a dollar value on the damages we’ll suffer provides strong motivation for fast-action mitigation to reduce the risk of passing these devastating tipping points…Fast-action mitigation may still save us from the worst of the abrupt climate impacts, but we’ve got to start immediately. This includes action in Copenhagen to phase down HFCs, which can provide a decade of delay in CO2 forcing by avoiding up to 200 billion tonnes of CO2-equivalent.”

    click to enlarge

    "Action on black carbon (soot) is another priority. This aerosol is responsible for up to 25% of total climate warming, and can provide cooling in days to weeks. Reducing other short-lived climate contributors such as methane and tropospheric, or ground-level, ozone is also important. Storing carbon in soil through biochar production is another key strategy and one of the only safe carbon-negative technologies available."

    [Zaelke:] “Cutting CO2 is essential to the long-term battle against climate change, but it won’t save us from the immediate threats of passing the tipping points for abrupt climate change – for that, we need the fast-action strategies for the 50% of warming that is not from CO2.”

    Tuesday, November 24, 2009

    HOUSES W/O UTILITY BILLS

    Port Washington homes could lack utility bills
    Tom Dayton, November 23, 2009 (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

    "Developer Mike Speas acknowledges that the nine "green" houses he plans to build in Port Washington could lack some features, such as attached garages or granite kitchen countertops…[or] monthly heating and electricity bills.

    "The homes will include geothermal systems, which absorb heat from beneath the ground as a substitute for conventional furnaces. The building frames will use heavily insulated panels, instead of studs, to provide a higher level of insulation…the larger windows [will face] south, to absorb more sunlight. And the roofs will have solar panels for hot water heaters, with additional room to allow homeowners to install solar panels to provide electricity."


    click to enlarge

    "The proposed nine-lot subdivision, called the Terraces at Mineral Springs [and planned for a 5.7-acre parcel on S. Division St., on the city's south edge], just won conceptual approval from the Port Washington Plan Commission…Speas plans to build homes of about 1,200 square feet, with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, and sell them for about $200,000.

    "The heavy insulation, solar panels and geothermal systems, which are reversed during the summer to cool the house, cost "a ton of money" compared with conventional home building techniques…To keep the price around $200,000, he might not include the detached garage, which the homeowner could build later…[and not finish] the basement [or include] photovoltaic solar panels…"


    click to enlarge

    "But home buyers who decide to install the photovoltaic panels will be generating their own electricity. Among other things, that solar power will run the geothermal system to provide cooling and heating…It's that energy savings - not necessarily a "green consciousness" - that Speas says will help sell the homes…

    "[T]he houses will have an aesthetic appeal, Speas said, with a traditional arts-and-crafts bungalow design that blends with the city's older homes…But energy-producing houses are often aimed at wealthy buyers…[whereas the] Port Washington homes will target more middle-class families who make an investment on the front end that will be repaid through lower energy costs…Rebates from the state's Focus on Energy program, along with federal tax credits for buying and installing solar panels, can help reduce those upfront costs…"

    HEARTLAND WIND FROM ENEL, WINDSTREAM

    Enel unit to develop 4,000 MW US wind projects
    November 24, 2009 (Reuters via Forbes)
    and
    Wind turbine maker plans southern Indiana plant
    November 23, 2009 (AP via Chicago Tribune)

    "Italy's biggest renewable energy company, Enel Green Power [plans] to develop more than 4,000 megawatt of wind projects in the United States after buying a minority stake in Minnesota-based Geronimo Wind Energy.

    "Under a strategic partnership agreement, Enel Green Power [the green energy arm of Italy's biggest utility] will inject capital to develop the project pipeline and also have the priority right to buy, own and operate wind projects developed by Geronimo…It did not say how much it paid for the stake or how much it planned to invest in developing new US wind projects…

    "…[Enel reportedly plans]several small-size acquisitions in wind power generation by the end of this year, targeting small companies with assets and project pipelines…Enel Green Power, with over 4,500 MW of installed solar, wind and other renewable energy capacity around the world, has been boosting its U.S. clean energy portfolio. It has a similar investment in TradeWind Energy based near Lenexa, Kansas."


    click thru to learn more about ENEL

    "WindStream Technologies Inc. said…its [planned development and production facility for small-scale wind turbines in Indiana] could have more than 260 workers by 2012. The company is now based in California and plans to begin hiring as facility and equipment upgrades are made at the site in the Purdue Research Park of Southeast Indiana.

    "WindStream says its TurboMills are designed to capture wind energy in urban areas. The devices are intended as a low-cost way to supplement a customer's electricity needs.

    "The Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered WindStream up to $1.5 million in performance-based tax credits for the project."

    THE SUCCESS OF NET METERING

    Grading the Net-Metering Program, One State at a Time; A consortium of U.S. net-metering advocates have graded each state for its net metering and grid interconnection policies to see who’s naughty or nice
    Ucilla Wang, November 24, 2009 (Greentech Media)

    "A group of net-metering advocates in the United States has released a report grading each state's policies on allowing residents and businesses to get compensated for feeding excessive electricity from their renewable energy systems to the electric grid.

    "…[Freeing the Grid, from the Network for New Energy Choices, Vote Solar, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, the Solar Alliance and the North Carolina Solar Center,] gave 15 states an "A" or "B" for making it relatively easy and affordable to connect their solar, wind or other types of systems to the grid…[I]n 2007, only one state got the high mark…[Also, the new] report gave 27 states an "A" or "B" for net-metering rules that allow residents to get credit for sending unused electricity to the grid. That's also a big jump from 2007, when 13 states won that recognition…"

    click to enlarge

    "…[M]any states with mandates for their utilities to boost their offerings of renewable electricity also have incentives in place to entice consumers to install renewable energy systems. Net-metering policies exist in 42 states and Washington, D.C…California, which has been ahead of other states in adopting policies and subsidies that are friendly to renewable energy, has scored well…Texas, the big wind energy producing state, has no net-metering program…States that flunked in…[net metering or interconnection] included Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Wyoming, Utah and Minnesota.

    "Net-metering policies are meant to promote generating solar, wind or biomass electricity where it's consumed. Solar energy system owners could export extra electricity to the grid and get credits on their bills that are equivalent to the retail price…But writing and deploying effective net-metering programs is far from simple. And whether they are cost effective is subject to debate."


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    "In California, a legislative effort to raise the cap for net-metering customers prompted utilities to question whether net metering benefits a small group of people at the expense of those who can't afford or choose not to install solar. Utilities typically recoup the cost of the programs…[with] rate hikes…to their overall customer base…The California Public Utilities Commission is due to release a report in January that will examine this and other issues…Efforts to raise the net-metering cap in California didn't succeed…

    "…[In the report] good interconnection standards refer to rules that clearly spell out the technical and legal mandates. They also do not impose expensive fees or add costs by requiring devices such as redundant disconnect switches, which the report said adds to the cost of installing solar without providing the intended safety assurances…Good net-metering rules should make it easy for consumers to earn credits from their utilities for feeding excessive electricity to grid…[and] advocates want states to forego restrictions on the size of solar energy systems or the types of customers…"

    UTILITIES AND SOLAR POWER PLANTS

    Hedging bets: Why the utilities can’t afford to ignore CSP
    Rikki Stancich, 23 November 2009 (CSP Today)

    "CSPToday: …[W]hat policies need to be in place to support the continuing development of CSP in the US?..."

    [Dr Fred Morse, Chair, Utility-Scale Solar Power Division/U.S. Solar Energy Industries Association, and co-Chair, Western Governors’ Association Solar Task Force, and senior US operations advisor, Abengoa Solar Inc, and former Executive Director of the White House Assessment of Solar Energy as a National Energy Resource and senior executive in charge of solar R&D and market development, U.S. Department of Energy:] "…[A] variety…including financial incentives, siting & permitting, transmission planning, and a cap on greenhouse gas emissions…[T]he most important is access to long-term, low-interest financing, which is what built our hydro resources many decades ago, to the long-term benefit of the country…[N]o public land has been approved for solar project development, despite a long history of fossil fuel development…[so] SEIA is working with the Bureau of Land Management and other agencies to ensure there is a clear and thorough review process…Transmission is another key issue…Finally, setting a price on carbon will be important for utilities and consumers to realize the long-term value of solar and other clean, renewable energy resources."

    click to enlarge

    "CSP Today: What is likely to kick-start project financing in the US? Does the loan guarantee program hold any promise for CSP?…[Morse:] There was a meltdown in the financial markets…But when you speak about a CSP plant in the hundreds of megawatts, you are talking about US$1 billion…So the U.S. Congress included a federal loan guarantee in the stimulus bill…[M]ost CSP developers believe this federal loan guarantee program is one of the keys to getting CSP projects built in the U.S.

    "CSP Today: What challenges exist in the US, in terms of transmission, and what solutions are emerging?…[Morse:] Our power grid is out-dated and requires new lines to connect solar-rich areas to growing population centers…Just as our highway system was constructed through a national planning effort, we need to plan for our transmission needs on a regional and interconnection-wide basis…[S]preading the costs of new transmission across an entire interconnection or region will make it much easier to finance…Finally, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission should have back-stop authority to approve the siting of new transmission…"


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    "CSP Today: Is thermal storage likely to become a pre-requisite in US CSP projects?…[Morse:] Thermal storage is profoundly valuable to the utilities…Abengoa Solar's project in Arizona does incorporate thermal storage. But it would not have been selected without it; the utility (Arizona Public Service) required it…[A] solar resource during the daytime is of little value to the utility in terms of managing peak loads. They need energy during the morning and evening peaks…Thermal energy storage allows a CSP plant to meet that demand.

    "CSP Today: What is the ceiling for CSP in the US? What will its overall share of the electricity generated be and how central will it be to energy strategy?…[Morse:] Today, there are about 8,000 MW of CSP projects with signed PPAs. That means the utilities who signed those PPAs accepted the price for electricity generated by those CSP plants…[I]f CSP is already competitive enough to get PPAs for 8,000 megawatts signed, I believe that CSP will continue to capture a growing part of the future electricity demand in the Southwest and, with adequate new transmission, begin to meet electricity demand across the United States..."

    Monday, November 23, 2009

    CONGRESS POSTPONES CLIMATE CHANGE

    No Climate Bill This Year, Senators Say; Key Senators have told the Wall Street Journal that a climate and energy bill containing controversial carbon cap-and-trade provisions won’t get passed this year
    Jeff St. John, November 18, 2009 (Greentech Media)

    "The U.S. Senate will postpone until next year its debate on energy and climate legislation, along with its controversial plan to cap greenhouse gas emissions…Key Senators, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.)…[said] the climate and energy bill will have to wait while the Senate tackles bills aimed at reforming the nation's health insurance system and financial market regulation.

    "The proposed cap-and-trade legislation has drawn harsh opposition from Republican lawmakers and industry groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute that say it will increase energy costs and harm the economy…[T]he House passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act…includes a cap-and-trade system aimed at cutting the nation's greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by 2020…[and a proposed] Senate bill…which would seek to cut those emissions by 20 percent by 2020…passed…the Senate environment panel…"


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    "Republicans have asked for more support for nuclear power and offshore oil drilling…Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Jim Webb (D-Va.) proposed a bill, the Clean Energy Act of 2009, that would offer about $20 billion over the next decades, much of it to support nuclear power…[A] delay until next year leaves the Obama Administration bereft of legislation it hoped to present in December at a United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen to craft an agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol…

    "The Environmental Protection Agency has moved on its own to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act, but has yet to formulate standards for enforcement...The EPA program is expected to cover 70 percent of the nation's total emissions, including power plants, refineries, and cement production facilities that emit at least 25,000 tons of greenhouse gases a year… But the EPA may well face years of legal battles over regulating greenhouse gases, which could lead the agency to look to Congress to pass a bill…"


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    "In the meantime, questions remain over the competing renewable electricity standards contained in the House and Senate energy and climate bills…The Senate bill would require 9 percent of the nation's power to come from renewable resources and 6 percent from efficiency gains by 2021…[but may] adopt the more aggressive measures in the House bill, which calls for 12 percent of the nation's power to come from renewables and 8 percent from efficiency by 2020.

    "These renewable energy mandates, as well as provisions in the House energy and climate bill to give new federal authority to site transmission lines, could be taken up separately from cap-and-trade rules…[A]n energy bill without cap-and-trade could pass by May 2010, but [experts doubt] the likelihood of greenhouse gas limits being put into law during an election year…"

    $4 BIL FOR U.S. WIND JOBS

    EDP Renovaveis Plans To Spend $4B On US Wind Power
    Bernd Radowitz, November 19, 2009 (Dow Jones Newswires via Wall Street Journal)

    "Portugal's EDP Renovaveis SA…plans to spend $4 billion through 2012 to build new wind farms in the U.S., one of the world's fastest-growing markets for renewable energy… EDPR said it aims to add more than 2 gigawatts in new wind power generation capacity…

    "The investment is in line with expectations… for the company's U.S. investments, and should help the company to reach its target to install between close to 1.4 GW per year in new electricity generating capacity per year globally…The company has earlier said it plans to add about half of its new wind power generation capacity in the U.S…"


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    "EDPR, together with Iberian peers Iberdrola Renovables SA…is already among the top renewable energy utilities in the U.S.. The only U.S.-based company that rivals the Iberian companies in the U.S. market in size is Next Era Energy Resources LLC, a unit of FPL Group Inc. (FPL).

    "EDPR…plans to build on the new 800 megawatts of capacity already installed or under construction in the U.S. market. EDPR's U.S. unit Horizon Wind Energy has a presence in 21 states and operates more than 2,500 MW of wind energy capacity."


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    "The rapid growth in the U.S. comes in large part due to grants for renewable energy given via U.S. Treasury and the Department of Energy's 1603 Program…

    "The U.S. is currently the world's most dynamic market for renewable energy…Other growth markets, such as China, aren't as easy to enter for foreign companies due to protectionism and unclear rules…To ensure more companies can maker longer term investments in the renewables sector in the U.S., however, more needs to be done…[an EDP spokesperson] said…A renewable electricity standard [is needed]…"

    NEW ENERGY POLISHES RUST

    Solar energy industry brings a ray of hope to the Rust Belt; Areas hard-hit by the U.S. automakers' slump are pitching themselves to green technology firms. Workers and machines that used to crank out cars are now making parts for solar and wind power plants.
    Todd Woody, November 23, 2009 (LA Times)

    "…In years past, Sunbelt governors recruited Midwestern businesses to set up shop in their states, dangling tax breaks and the lure of a union-free workforce…Now the tables have turned as solar start-ups, wind turbine companies and electric carmakers from California and the Southwest migrate to the nation's industrial heartland. They're looking to tap its manufacturing might and legions of skilled workers, hit hard by the near-collapse of the United States auto industry and eager for work.

    "For all of green tech's futuristic sheen, solar power plants and wind farms are made of much of the same stuff as automobiles: machine-stamped steel, glass and gearboxes…That has renewable energy companies hitting the highway for Detroit and Northeastern industrial states, driven in part by the federal stimulus package's incentives and buy-American mandates…Fisker Automotive [of Southern California], for example, will manufacture its next plug-in electric hybrid car at a defunct General Motors assembly plant in Wilmington, Del…"


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    "…Stirling Energy Systems, which is building two massive solar power plants in Southern California, has signed deals with two automotive companies to make components for its giant solar dishes…Stirling's 40-by-38-foot SunCatcher resembles a mirrored satellite dish. The SunCatcher's mirrors focus the sun on a Stirling engine that sits on an arm that extends from the center of the dish. The heat causes hydrogen gas in the engine to expand, which drives pistons that generate electricity…[The mirror frame is stamped metal just like a car frame]…

    "Stirling signed an agreement with Tower Automotive to manufacture the dishes' structural components and assemble the mirror facets. The Livonia, Mich., company makes vehicle body parts and other components for the major carmakers but has seen auto orders slow with the downturn… Tower can use its existing machinery, with some modifications, and workforce to make SunCatcher components…[and] Stirling avoids the capital costs of setting up its own factories and gets to tap Tower's manufacturing know-how to bring down its costs, which will be a key competitive advantage…"


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    "…[Stirling has] spent $30 million to $40 million in the Detroit area over the last year… hired 40 to 50 people from the automotive industry…[and] outsourced the manufacturing of specialized tools to companies in Ohio, Illinois and Indiana…About 25,000 SunCatchers will roll off the assembly line annually once production ramps up…

    "…[A]vailable manufacturing muscle [also] attracted Skyline Solar, a Silicon Valley solar power plant builder…[to] a Troy, Mich., subsidiary of automotive giant Magna International to make the long metal arrays that hold its photovoltaic panels…[Ohio economic development officials] said Michigan was [their] biggest competitor for solar manufacturing projects…[but Ohio] secured one of the biggest solar companies, First Solar of Tempe, Ariz., to produce photovoltaic modules…[W]ind turbines are already made in Ohio, and Rolls-Royce recently announced it would consolidate its fuel cell operations in the Buckeye State…"

    COAL AND THE DAMAGE DONE

    Coal Pollution Damages Human Health at Every Stage of Coal Life Cycle, Reports Physicians for Social Responsibility
    November 18, 2009 (Physicians for Social Responsibility)

    "...[Coal's Assault on Human Health, from Physicians for Social Responsibility,] takes a new look at the devastating impacts of coal on the human body. By examining the impact of coal pollution on the major organ systems of the human body, the report concludes that coal contributes to four of the top five causes of mortality in the U.S. and is responsible for increasing the incidence of major diseases already affecting large portions of the U.S. population...

    "…Coal combustion releases mercury, particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and dozens of other substances known to be hazardous to human health. This report looks at the cumulative harm inflicted…on three major body organ systems…[and] considers coal's contribution to global warming, and the health implications… [I]n this way, the totality of coal's impact on health becomes clear. Coal pollutants affect all major body organ systems and contribute to four of the five leading causes of mortality in the U.S.: heart disease, cancer, stroke, and chronic lower respiratory diseases."


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    "...[1] Respiratory Effects…[include] asthma, lung disease and lung cancer, and adversely affect normal lung development in children….[2] Cardiovascular Effects…lead to cardiovascular disease, such as arterial occlusion (artery blockages, leading to heart attacks) and infarct formation…leading to permanent heart damage…[and] cardiac arrhythmias and congestive heart failure. Exposure to chronic air pollution over many years increases cardiovascular mortality…[3] Nervous System Effects: Studies show a correlation between coal-related air pollutants and stroke….[and] loss of intellectual capacity, primarily through mercury…[B]etween 317,000 and 631,000 children are born in the U.S. each year with blood mercury levels high enough to reduce IQ scores and cause lifelong loss of intelligence.

    "Global Warming: Even people who do not develop illnesses from coal pollutants will find their health and wellbeing impacted…The discharge of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere associated with burning coal is a major contributor to global warming and [leads to] adverse effects on health and wellbeing worldwide, such as heat stroke, malaria, declining food production, scarce water supplies, social conflict and starvation."


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    "…[T]he report [also] pinpoints negative health consequences at each step of the coal life cycle. Coal mining leads U.S. industries in fatal injuries and is associated with chronic health problems among miners…[C]ommunities near coal mines may be adversely affected by mining operations due to the effects of blasting, washing, leakage from "slurry ponds," the collapse of abandoned mines, damage done to streams and waterways, and the dispersal of dust from coal trucks during transportation. Slurry injected underground can release arsenic, barium, lead and manganese into nearby wells, contaminating local drinking water supplies. The storage of post-combustion wastes from coal plants also threatens human health. There are 584 coal ash dump sites in the U.S, and toxic residues have migrated into water supplies at dozens of sites. While every stage of the coal life cycle impacts human health, the combustion phase exacts the greatest toll…

    "…PSR issued five policy recommendations:…[1] Cut emissions of carbon dioxide as deeply and as swiftly as possible…to 350 parts per million, through 1)…legislation that establishes hard caps on global warming pollution coming from coal power plants, and 2) strict enforcement of the Clean Air Act…[2] Reduce fossil fuel power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides…[3] Establish a standard, based on Maximum Achievable Control Technology, for mercury and other hazardous air pollutant emissions from electrical generation…[4] End all new construction of coal-fired power plants…[5] Develop the capacity to generate electricity from clean, safe, renewable sources so that existing coal-fired power plants may be phased out…"

    Saturday, November 21, 2009

    CHINA VS. U.S. IN NEW ENERGY

    The New Arms Race
    Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., November 19, 2009 (Huffington Post)

    "…[T]he Obama administration acknowledged this week that it would not return from Copenhagen with any groundbreaking commitment to control green house gases…Congress is backsliding on the administration's wise commitment to impose a rational price on carbon…[and the] U.S. Chamber of Commerce, always willing to put its obsequious scraping to Big Oil and King Coal ahead of its duty to our country, has battled every effort to accelerate America's transition to a market-based de-carbonized economy.

    "The Chamber has continued to argue, idiotically, that energy efficiency and independence will somehow put America at a competitive disadvantage with the Chinese. Meanwhile, the Chinese have shrewdly and strategically positioned themselves to steal America's once substantial lead in renewable power. China will soon make us as dependent on Chinese green technology for the next century as we have been on Saudi oil during the last."


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    "…[T]he Chinese are treating the energy technology competition if it were an arms race…spending as much or more on greentech as it does on its military, hundreds of billions of dollars annually on renewable energy and grid infrastructure improvements…[It] will effectively erode America's greentech industry leadership and secure China's dominance. China's economic stimulus package, targeted 38% of spending on greentech, as compared to a miserly 12% of the U.S. stimulus program. By 2013, greentech will account for 15 percent of the Chinese GDP. While the United States is projected to roughly triple its wind generation by 2020, China will increase its capacity twelvefold…[T]he United States is projected to increase its installed solar generation a modest 33% by 2020 [and]…China's solar generation is projected to increase 20,000%.

    "…Chinese solar panel manufacturers now far outnumber American ones…Chinese companies are now flooding the American market with cheap Chinese solar panels and devastating the American manufacturing sector that was gearing up to create tens of thousands of U.S. jobs for our own ailing economy…BP Solar, Evergreen, and General Electric have already announced the closing of American-based solar panel factories and outsourcing, primarily to China. America's leading solar manufacturer, Applied Materials, has opened the largest non-government solar energy research facility in the world in China…The largest solar panel installation in the United States is a 70,000 panel, 14.2 megawatt array on Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. The array provides more than 25% of the base's power needs, and saves the Pentagon a million dollars annually in energy costs, but the panels' manufacturer was China's Suntech Power Holdings…"


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    "Last year, America achieved a milestone, building more wind power generation than all new oil and coal generation combined. We have led the world in wind installations for several years, and the wind industry already accounts for more American jobs than coal mining…Yet today, of the five leading wind turbine manufacturers, only one is American…China is clobbering us…China is likewise poised to take away our lead in batteries and electric cars, and has already pulled far ahead of America in automobile fuel efficiency.

    "Capitol Hill Republicans will soon recognize that the arms race of the 21st century is already in progress with a totalitarian nation that they not long ago called "Red China." But America will not win with more warheads and better rockets. We can only prevail with robust investment in and support of U.S.-based greentech innovation."

    GREENPEACE LIKES EU SMART GRID

    Greenpeace says Europe smart power grid affordable
    Vera Eckert (w/ James Jukwey), November 20, 2009 (Reuters)

    "Revving up European power transmission networks to transport 90 percent of renewable energy by the year 2050 could be achieved at affordable sums, pressure group Greenpeace said in a study…

    "European policymakers dream of getting away from fossil fuels but even if these were replaced with wind or solar generation systems, sceptics say the bloc's decades-old grid systems would effectively hamper shipping the volatile power."


    Part of the Supergrid will carry North Sea and Baltic Sea wind all over the continent. (click to enlarge)

    "Greenpeace said the cost of strenghtening cross-border lines and building new interconnections to create so-called smart or supergrids [209 billion euros, or $310.9 billion] would be small [0.15 cents per kilowatt-hour over 40 years, or euros (40 cents) per month] if it was spread over 40 years and split between hundreds of million of Europeans…

    "…[T]here is also concern that over reliance on wind or solar could leave consumers short of power when the wind does not blow or the sun does not shine…The Greenpeace study compared 30 years of weather data with European annual demand curves and concluded that there is only a 0.4 percent -- or 12 hours a year -- chance that high demand correlates with low solar and wind generation."


    Another part of EU transmission will deliver North African sun. (click to enlarge)

    "Apart from wind and solar, [the Greenpeace study] also mentioned chances to exploit geothermal and ocean energy, and biomass…

    "The 209 billion sum was broken down into 100 billion for 11 new connections inside Europe, 90 billion euros for new lines to capture Sahara desert solar power, 16 billion for upgrades of direct-current high voltage lines between European countries and 3 billion for alternating-current ones."

    GAS DRILLING POISONS WATER

    Natural Gas Drilling Poses Toxic Threat to Illinois’s Drinking Water
    Max Muller, November 4, 2009 (Environment Illinois)

    "Toxic chemicals used in natural gas drilling could pose a threat to water quality near Illinois’s 733 gas wells according to [Toxic Chemicals on Tap: How Natural Gas Drilling Threatens Drinking Water]…by Environment Illinois…The report…details the multiple ways chemicals employed in gas drilling could endanger clean water in Illinois…

    "To extract natural gas, drillers often inject a toxic mix of fluids into the ground to create fractures which allow natural gas to flow to the surface. This process can force toxic substances already underground into drinking water. Some of the pollutant laden fluids drillers inject remain underground, and can also end up contaminating water supplies."


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    "The fluids recovered by drillers can contaminate water as well. The recovered fluids are frequently stored in open-air pits, which have the potential to leak or flood, and can overwhelm local water treatment facilities. Also, the amount of water needed for the process- often millions of gallons- may drain local watersheds. In some cases, it has caused streams to run dry.

    "Due in part to a 2005 exemption to the Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA cannot fully regulate gas drilling. Moreover, the federal government does not require drillers to publicly disclose the fluids they use in some of their processes and only 5 states out of 32 states with gas drilling require public disclosure…Illinois does not require drillers to disclose the fluids they use…"


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    "Environment Illinois asks that drillers be required to disclose the chemicals they use, as well as where and how much they use them. The group also calls for gas drillers to replace toxic chemicals with safer alternatives…[and says] a variety of regulations and improvements are necessary: improved monitoring in order to better catch gas or chemical leakage, improved disposal methods for recovered drilling fluids, and assurance that drillers are not operating in locations that may lead to the contamination of drinking water.

    "This report comes as pressure to expand natural gas drilling builds. Some are hoping for natural gas to increase its share of our energy mix, but natural gas still emits a significant amount of global warming pollution…"

    NUKES DON’T STAND UP TO REASON

    Nukes battling a green headwind?
    Tim Wheeler, November 18, 2009 (Baltimore Sun)

    "Aiming to head off a budding bipartisan move in Congress to boost nuclear power, environmentalists took to the streets - and the Internet - to dismiss atom-splitting as too slow and costly to help fight climate change.

    "Environment Maryland released a new report…arguing that it would take a decade or more and cost upwards of $600 billion to build 100 more nuclear plants, as some have advocated to ease planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. The group argues that the time and money could be better spent promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy such as wind and solar…"


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    "…[Generating Failure; How Building Nuclear Power Plants Would Set America Back in the Race Against Global Warming comes as two senators, Republican Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democrat Jim Webb of Virginia, introduce a bill that would funnel federal funds and loan guarantees into reviving the nuclear power industry as well as promoting renweable energy…"

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    "To highlight their objections, Environment Maryland and other activists staged a press conference outside the downtown Baltimore headquarters of Constellation Energy, which has applied for a permit to build a new, third reactor at Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant…[N]ot all environmentalists oppose nuclear power. Locally, the Maryland Conservation Council has endorsed Constellation's bid…The group is concerned about industrial-scale wind and solar projects gobbling up land and wildlife habitat, and argues that nuclear power is safe and least expensive…

    "By coincidence, wind energy advocates were huddled nearby…conferring on how to boost the prospects for turbines atop mountains and offshore in the Mid-Atlantic region. They have issues to overcome as well, including public resistance in some locales, and… [the lack of adequate transmission]…[Already an issue]in some western areas…[it is] likely to be a concern in the East as well as more turbines get built."

    Wednesday, November 18, 2009

    ECONOMY SLOWS BUT NOT EMISSIONS

    Led by China, carbon pollution up despite economy
    Seth Borenstein, November 17, 2009 (AP)

    "Pollution typically declines during a recession. Not this time. Despite a global economic slump, worldwide carbon dioxide pollution jumped 2 percent last year, most of the increase coming from China, according to a study…[by] Corinne Le Quere of the University of East Anglia…Worldwide emissions rose 671 million more tons from 2007 to 2008. Nearly three-quarters of that increase came from China.

    "The numbers are from the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory and published in the journal Nature Geoscience…According to the study, the 2008 emissions increase was smaller than normal for this decade. Annual global pollution growth has averaged 3.6 percent. This year, scientists are forecasting a nearly 3 percent reduction, despite China because of the massive economic slowdown in most of the world and in the United States."


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    "The U.S. is still the biggest per capita major producer of man-made greenhouse gases, spewing about 20 tons of carbon dioxide per person per year. The world average is 5.3 tons and China is at 5.8 tons…Last year, the U.S. emissions fell by 3 percent…Overall European Union emissions dropped by 1 percent. The U.S. is still the No. 2 biggest carbon polluter overall, emitting more than the next four largest polluting countries combined: India, Russia, Japan and Germany. China has been No. 1, since pushing past the United States in 2006…

    "The world remains on a dangerous path, despite the recession, scientists said…The world has spewed 715.3 trillion tons of industrial carbon dioxide since 1982, which is the same amount civilization produced in all the previous years…Outside scientists said the study was thorough and the results sobering…The report comes as countries from around the world prepare for a December U.N. conference on reducing carbon emissions…[President] Obama, who was in China, said after a meeting with President Hu Jintao…he wanted an all-encompassing agreement in Copenhagen, even if it falls short of a legal treaty…"


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    "Le Quere said the numbers point specifically to developing world as the cause for the most recent growth…China is opening up new coal-fired power plants at a breakneck pace and carbon dioxide emissions in that country have doubled since 2001…Not all the emission increases in China and other developing countries come from new power plants. About one-quarter of the emissions growth is because western countries, like the United States, buy more manufactured products from those countries…

    "Other countries beside China to increase their carbon dioxide emissions by more than 5 million tons in 2008 were India, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, South Africa, South Korea, Indonesia, Iran, Poland, Mexico, Canada and the Netherlands…The paper also raised concerns because it shows that the percentage of carbon dioxide emissions that hang in the air — compared to those sucked into the oceans and forests — [has grown in the last 50 years from 40% to 45%]…[T]he more carbon dioxide in the air, the warmer it gets, and the warmer it gets, the higher percentage of carbon dioxide stays in the air…It's a feedback loop that is not good news for global warming…"

    BUILDING EMISSIONS IS BIG BIZ

    Energy Management Systems for Commercial Buildings; Energy Efficiency, Commercial Demand Response, and Advanced Building Management Systems
    Alan Webber and Clint Wheelock, 4Q 2009 (Pike Research)

    "…Commercial buildings – the places where we work, live, sleep, and play – are some of largest (if not the largest) single consumers of energy in the United States. We live in a 24/7 environment…[B]uildings and their related equipment are running non-stop… heating up the office…lights in offices, parking lots, hallways, and other locations… datacenters where racks and racks of servers run constantly…[A]ccording to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), commercial buildings are responsible for 18% of the energy used annually in the UnitedStates.

    "…57% of the energy consumed in a commercial building is used for heating, cooling, ventilation, and lighting… 25% [of that] is for lighting. Cooling uses approximately 13%, heating 12%, and ventilation 7%. Other large energy uses in a commercial building include electronics (7%) and computers (4%)…"


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    "[T]here have been three significant changes…[1] a shift in thinking…from energy as an expense of the production of goods and services to energy as an asset to be managed…[2] IT systems and software…to building and energy management is becoming more prevalent…to: [a] Embed intelligence at the controller…[b] Connect a multitude of devices…[c] Monitor, track, and manage equipment and energy…[d] Monitor and control equipment and systems remotely…[3] [S]hifts in government policies…[to]mandate the adoption of…energy efficiency for buildings and equipment…[and] government investment in the research and development of technologies.

    "…[A] “new” energy management systems market…[and] the growth and influence of IT systems and technologies against a social and economic push for a more sustainable business model…[allow] businesses and commercial building owners and managers to better understand and manage the energy usage of a building…The result has been a burgeoning market for advanced building management systems, improved energy efficiency technologies, and a growing demand response market segment. With an increasing number of buildings 20 years old and older that need to become more energy efficient, this is a market that will continue to grow…"


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    "…[T]he largest growth over the next 10 years exists in the institutional building usage category – those buildings used for healthcare, public service, education, and public safety. That category should grow by over $2 billion dollars between 2010 and 2020…Pike Research expects the total potential market to grow by $7.92 billion between 2010 and 2020…Government and private sector initiatives…are pushing to make new commercial buildings more energy efficient…[and] stricter building codes…will result in fewer buildings requiring upgrades…Eventually we will reach the point where all buildings will be net-zero energy buildings when they are built.

    "A second area that will see a continued pattern of growth is the commercial demand
    response market segment. Demand response essentially allows a utility to better manage energy usage on the grid during times of peak usage while providing the end user an incentive to participate in the program…[T]he total potential demand response market in the U.S. will grow to between 57.5 GWh and almost 81 GWh by 2020…"

    GEOTHERMAL BREAKS NEW GROUND

    AltaRock Geothermal Gets New Boost
    John Lorinc, November 16, 2009 (NY Times)

    "As part of a newly announced $338 million boost for 123 geothermal energy projects nationwide, the Department of Energy will sink $25 million into what is called an “enhanced” or “engineered” geothermal demonstration project in Oregon being developed in part by AltaRock Energy, which recently halted work on a similar venture in California due to drilling problems.

    "The grant — by far the largest on the list — is for the development [by AltaRock and Davenport Power] of the Newberry Project, which is near an Oregon volcano…[It] will begin as a 30-megawatt test facility that can develop into a 120 megawatt plant within the next two years…"


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    "An enhanced geothermal system seeks to tap the essentially bottomless storehouse of energy in the earth’s core. It involves drilling to depths of well over 10,000 feet and then injecting cold water to create networks of small fractures in the hot rock…to pump water down into these fissures, capture the heat and bring it back to the surface to drive a turbine. Unlike conventional geothermal, which relies on subterranean pockets of hot water, proponents of enhanced geothermal systems [EGS] say the technology is essentially location-neutral, meaning these wells could be sunk almost anywhere in the world.

    "…AltaRock, in its regulatory filings, had failed to disclose that a previous [EGS] experiment in Switzerland had triggered a small earthquake…[T]he company defended its Geysers project, in Northern California, and stressed that it had sought to avoid drilling near fault lines…[but] suspended work on Geysers in September, citing drilling difficulties and a call for further review by California regulators."


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    "…[T]he new federal grant, plus private financing, will underwrite the cost of building three enhanced-geothermal-system wells in Oregon — one for injecting water into the rock and the other two as “production” wells that will draw up heat to generate power. The companies want to be in a position to start production from the first phase by next summer…[T]he company drilled at the Oregon volcano [which has erupted 25 times in the last 10,000 years] last year and found a lot of heat, but not enough water to run a conventional geothermal plant, so it decided to partner with AltaRock to investigate an enhanced geothermal system…

    "In 2006, the Massachusett Institute of Technology released a massive study describing what it would take to develop enhanced geothermal system into a major source of baseload power by 2050…The study was guided by an 18-member panel, which included Susan Petty, a geothermal expert and a co-founder of AltaRock."

    BIG TEST FOR TIDAL TECH

    In-stream tidal turbine deployed in the Bay of Fundy
    Administrator, 18November 2009 (Wave & Tidal Energy News)

    "The first commercial scale in-stream tidal turbine in the Bay of Fundy was deployed…by Nova Scotia Power and its tidal technology partner OpenHydro. The one-megawatt commercial scale turbine was deployed from the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE), in the Minas Passage…"

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    "The turbine's journey from Halifax to the deployment site, located approximately three kilometres off the shore of Black Rock, took 7 days. Once on site, the 400-tonne device was lowered in less than six hours to its intended location on the ocean floor by the purpose-built barge called the OpenHydro Installer. The barge and the deployment method were both designed and developed by OpenHydro…"

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    "The turbine now rests on the seabed held in place by a subsea gravity base designed by OpenHydro and fabricated by Cherubini Metal Works…Nova Scotia Power's involvement with this tidal energy test facility is supported by Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), an arm's-length, not-for-profit corporation created by the Government of Canada."

    Tuesday, November 17, 2009

    THE CHINA CHALLENGE IN SUN AND WIND

    China pushes solar, wind power development
    Julie Schmit, November 16, 2009 (USA Today)

    "…China leads the world in making solar cells, the key component in solar panels, many of which are exported to the U.S…But China is setting itself up to do more than just manufacture components for renewable energy, such as wind and solar. It's also spending heavily to build its own domestic market as it attempts to battle its greenhouse gas emissions, electrify its nation of 1.3 billion people and curb its massive pollution problem.

    "The buildup of a huge market in China for renewable energy is luring global manufacturers and research teams to China, energy executives say. That's causing concern in some corners that China – not the U.S. – will emerge as the hub of the new industries, leaving the U.S. as dependent on foreign nations for solar panels, wind turbines and other green-energy equipment and technology as it is on the Mideast for oil…"


    NewEnergyNews challenge #1: Spot the trend. (click to enlarge)

    "…[T]he U.S. hasn't been as clear or as determined as China…[according to] Energy Secretary Steven Chu…While China spends about $9 billion a month on clean energy development, the U.S. [is falling behind]…[T]he world's largest turbine-making company is headquartered in Denmark…99% of batteries for America's hybrid cars are made in Japan….[and] the U.S. has lost most of its solar cell manufacturing industry…Although Chu said he remained confident…China is shaping up as a formidable competitor.

    "China's government has set ambitious targets for renewable energy, which is scheduled to account for 15% of its fuel by 2020…The U.S. has no national target. Two dozen states have their own – some more aggressive than China's – but they don't carry the cachet of a national standard, says Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. That has hindered the U.S. in attracting wind manufacturers and investments, she says…"


    NewEnergyNews challenge #2: Spot the trend. (click to enlarge)

    "Already, China has made rapid gains in building up its domestic renewable-energy industries…This year, it's expected to install more new wind-generation capacity than any other country, a spot occupied by the U.S. last year…By 2013, China is expected to become the world's biggest producer of wind energy…Recently, it eclipsed everyone in wind-turbine-making capacity…

    "China is muscling up on solar, too. Within five years, it's expected to be the No. 1 solar market…Once [China’s] central government decides on a policy, it can execute quickly through the nation's handful of state-owned utilities…In the U.S., there are thousands of electric utilities and a barrage of regulatory and environmental hurdles to starting new projects...[U.S. companies have] stepped up profiles and investments in China…The U.S., under the Obama administration, has stepped up its renewable energy investments….[It is possible the] isn't too late…"

    CHINA’S BIG AZ SUN PLANS

    Suntech could serve 8% of U.S. solar market; China-owned firm deciding whether to locate in East or West Valley
    Ryan Randazzo, November 16, 2009 (Arizona Republic)

    "Suntech Power Holdings Co. could serve about 8 percent of the U.S. solar-panel market from the factory it plans to open in the Phoenix area next year, officials said…

    "The Chinese solar-panel maker, which shipped more traditional solar panels last year than any other company in the world, announced it is deciding…[where in the area to locate] a 100,000-square-foot U.S. factory…[This] means two solar powerhouses will have a presence [in the Phoenix area]…"


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    "First Solar Inc., which makes "thin-film" solar panels using different semiconductor materials than traditional solar panels, is based in Tempe. It produces has the highest factory capacity in the world in addition to boasting the lowest cost in the industry...First Solar makes its panels in Ohio, Germany and Malaysia…Other solar companies are considering opening factories in Arizona, and if they do, it could prompt glass companies or other suppliers to open facilities…

    "The Arizona Suntech plant should open with the capacity to produce enough panels each year to generate 30 megawatts of electricity, or enough for about 7,500 homes while the sun is shining…In 2008, Suntech's existing factories produced 498 megawatts of solar panels, most of which were sold to Europe."


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    "Suntech sells about 8 percent of its panels in the U.S. and intends to grow its market share with the new plant…The U.S. installed 342 megawatts of solar panels in 2008…mostly in California, New Jersey, Colorado and Nevada…If the U.S. market grows to 400 megawatts or more a year, as expected, Suntech will be able to produce 7.5 percent of the U.S. supply in Arizona and supplement that with panels from its plants in China while expanding…

    "Solar panels [are] made with silicon as a semiconductor that turns sunlight into electricity…Suntech will continue to process its silicon, most of it imported from Texas, into solar cells at its Chinese facilities…[and] will import the processed solar cells to Arizona, where they will be mounted with aluminum frames on glass panels and wired for installation…"

    CHINA BUILDS U.S. WIND

    Chinese wind turbine firm plans U.S. plant
    Steve James (w/Kim Coghill) November 16, 2009 (Reuters)

    "China's A-Power Energy Generation Systems has signed a cooperation agreement with equity firm U.S. Renewable Energy Group (US-REG) to build a plant in the United States to supply wind energy turbines to renewable energy projects in North and South America.

    "The joint announcement…came three weeks after A-Power said it planned a $1.5 billion wind farm project in West Texas along with U.S. companies..."


    A-Power - first a project developer and now a manufacturing facility builder and U.S. job generator. (click to enlarge)

    "…[T]he turbine plant is expected to produce 1,100 megawatts of wind energy turbines annually, enough to power 330,000 homes. It will employ about 1,000 workers and create additional jobs during construction, the companies said.

    "In addition to production and assembly at the new plant, the plan calls for many wind turbine components to be sourced from U.S. manufacturers."


    Time after time, in the last few years, foreign wind companies have started building projects in the U.S. and ended up building manufacturing facilities and creating U.S. jobs. (click to enlarge)

    "…Shenyang Power Group (SPG) and US-REG announced plans to develop a $1.5 billion, 600MW wind farm on about 36,000 acres in Texas, for which A-Power [an SPG shareholder] has been designated as the turbine supplier…

    "The construction of the assembly and production plant is subject to signing of definitive agreements between the parties, as well as various government approvals…"