NewEnergyNews

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

The new challenge: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, January 29:

  • TTTA Thursday-FACT CHECKING REPUBLICAN CLIMATE CLAIMS
  • TTTA Thursday-WIND FINISHES 2014 BIG
  • TTTA Thursday-NEW CHEAPER SOLAR
  • TTTA Thursday-HOW TO GET TO EV MASS ADOPTION
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • TODAY’S STUDY: THE JOBS IN SOLAR RIGHT NOW
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    GET THE DAILY HEADLINES EMAIL: CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR SEND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • TODAY’S STUDY: HOW SOLAR OWNERS CAN BE 'GOOD CITIZENS OF THE GRID'
  • QUICK NEWS, January 27, 2015: GOV CHRISTIE’S WHITE HOUSE BID AND NJ OCEAN WIND; MILITARY GOES SOLAR IN FLA; THE MONEY IN EV FAST-CHARGING
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • GUEST LEAD POST: WHY THE MARKET UNDER-VALUES NEW ENERGY AND OVER-VALUES ENERGY COMMODITIES
  • QUICK NEWS, January 26: BUILDING THE SOLAR TO BUILD SOLAR; WHAT WIND NEEDS; NEW DIRECTIONS FOR BIOFUELS
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • Weekend Video: The President Describes The Republican Climate Dodge
  • Weekend Video: Jon Stewart On How Not To Fight Climate Change
  • Weekend Video: The Dirty Water And Dirty Money In Coal Ash
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-CLIMATE CHANGE ADVANCES DOOMSDAY CLOCK
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-JAPAN PLAN TO FLOAT SOLAR
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-GERMAN OCEAN WIND BOOMING
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-CHINA READIES GEOTHERMAL EXPANSION
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, is an occasional contributor to NewEnergyNews

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    Some of Anne's contributions:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

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    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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    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

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  • Friday, January 30, 2015

    NEW ENERGY COULD SOLVE WORLD WATER PROBLEMS

    Report: achieving renewable energy targets could address water challenges

    Charlotte Malone, January 29, 2015 (Blue and Green Tomorrow)

    “Meeting renewable energy targets could significantly cut the amount of water used for generating electricity as [climate change-induced] water scarcity becomes a bigger risk…[A report last year] warned that half of the world could face extreme water scarcity by 2095…Renewable energy in the water, energy & food nexus [from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)]…argues that using wind or solar to generate energy uses up to 200 times less water than a coal plant to produce the same amount of electricity. It adds that during the power generation stage, water needs for solar and wind are negligible compared to conventional generation, which can require substantial amounts of water for cooling…” click here for more

    CHINA 2014 WIND DROPS OFF

    Chinese wind output falls in 2014

    Jianxiang Yang, 27 January 2015 (Windpower Monthly)

    “…The amount of electricity generated by Chinese wind projects fell by 5.92% in 2014, according to the National Energy Administration (NEA)…[T] he average uptime for projects of 6MW and over across China was 1,905 hours. The decline was largely down to curtailments and weaker wind conditions in the northern provinces of Jilin and Gansu…China's wind capacity rose by [18.81GW] during 2014…[and overtook] nuclear energy to become the country's third largest energy source, after coal and hydropower…[G] rid-connected wind installations totalled 95.81GW by the end of 2014, up 25.6% on the previous year…Hebei, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia and Xinjiang all performed well, with the latter area registering an average uptime of 2,094 hours...The coastal province of Fujian in southeast China scored the highest figure of 2,530 hours…” click here for more

    AFRICAN ENTREPRENEURS GO SOLAR

    Africa's new breed of solar energy entrepreneurs

    Tom Jackson, 26 January 2015 (BBC News)

    "African economies may be booming, but continued growth and quality of life are being jeopardised by lack of power…[An estimated] 585 million people in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to electricity, with the electrification rate as low as 14.2% in rural areas…[O]nly 23% of Kenyans; 10.8% of Rwandans; and 14.8% of Tanzanians have access to an electricity supply…[A] new breed of ‘solar-preneurs’ is emerging, increasing access to power and generating revenues at the same time…[M-Kopa Solar] provides ‘pay-as-you-go’ renewable energy for off-grid households in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania…Off-grid households in East Africa, which also are largely low-income households, spend about $0.50-$0.60 (33p-40p) per day on kerosene lighting and basic charging costs…M-Kopa Solar provides power to more than 140,000 households in East Africa for $0.45 per day, and is adding over 4,000 homes each week…[Its] revenues are nearing $20m per year…[Juabar] builds and operates a network of solar charging kiosks in Tanzania which it leases to entrepreneurs, who then offer electricity services to their communities…[and earn] profits of between $75 and $150 per month…” click here for more

    COMMERCIAL EV BIZ TO GROW 10 TIMES OVER IN NEXT 10 YEARS

    Electric Drive Trucks and Buses; Market Data for Medium and Heavy Duty Commercial All-Electric, Plug-In Hybrid Electric, and Hybrid Electric Vehicles

    1Q 2015 (Navigant Research)

    “The global medium and heavy duty vehicle (MHDV) market is changing…[but electric] power for commercial vehicles has always been a challenge because of the size of the battery packs required to store and deliver enough energy to drive heavy vehicles over practical distances. It is not just the cost; the size and weight can also significantly reduce the payload, which is a major concern for fleet operators…Electric hybrid vehicles are now being used in commercial applications where the improved technology offers major benefits for specific drive cycles that involve city driving in stop-start traffic…[and] niche applications that can use onboard electrical energy to replace idling diesel engines or provide temporary power to buildings or tools at remote sites. Low-emissions zones in cities are being introduced that will result in greater demand…According to Navigant Research, global sales of electric drive and electric-assisted commercial vehicles are expected to grow from less than 16,000 in 2014 to nearly 160,000 in 2023…” click here for more

    Thursday, January 29, 2015

    FACT CHECKING REPUBLICAN CLIMATE CLAIMS

    Distorting Climate Change Threats, Solutions

    January 28, 2015 (FactCheck.org)

    “…Rick Santorum falsely claimed that U.S. policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions “will have zero impact” on climate change. The U.S. is the world’s second-biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, and a reduction in its GHG emissions could slow global warming…[Emissions reductions by the U.S. could indeed play a role in slowing the rise of global temperatures. The U.S. could also have an indirect impact, because its leadership on the issue could spur a global movement to cut down on the carbon dioxide emissions that are warming the planet]…

    “Mike Huckabee said Islamic extremism poses a greater threat than climate change. That’s his opinion. But in expressing it, he grossly understated the potential impact of climate change by saying it threatens to give Americans “a sunburn” — an issue almost entirely unrelated to climate change. Military leaders have long warned that climate change poses a national security threat…In a report released in October 2014, the Pentagon wrote that “rising global temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, climbing sea levels, and more extreme weather events will intensify the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict. They will likely lead to food and water shortages, pandemic disease, disputes over refugees and resources, and destruction by natural disasters in regions across the globe…” click here for more

    WIND FINISHES 2014 BIG

    American wind power rebounded in 2014, adding over four times as much as year before; Stable policy needed for investment in U.S. capacity to pay off, say industry leaders

    January 28, 2015 (American Wind Energy Association)

    “…The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) [Q4 report] shows the U.S. industry’s rebound in 2014, with over four times more new wind energy coming online than in 2013…[bringing the 2014 total to] 4,850 megawatts (MW) in generating capacity, with cumulative installed capacity increasing eight percent to a total of 65,875 MW…equal [over a full year] to taking 28 million cars off the road…However, the amount installed in 2014 still falls far short of the record 13,000 MW that the U.S. wind energy industry was able to complete during 2012…Industry leaders blamed uncertainty over…[the production tax credit (PTC) which has encouraged $125 billion dollars of investment across America, creating 500 U.S. manufacturing facilities and technological innovations that lowered the wind power's costs by more than half in the last five years…Nearly 30,000 well-paying jobs and tens of billions of dollars in private investment were lost due to the PTC lapse at the beginning of 2013…”

    “Wind projects were completed in 19 states in 2014…[T]he industry continues to see near-record levels of under construction activity, with over 12,700 MW of wind under construction [in 22 states] as 2015 began… Utilities continue to sign some of the lowest cost long-term contracts ever seen for wind energy. Since the beginning of 2014, there have been more than 3,300 MW of power purchase agreements (PPAs) for wind power signed across 14 states. In total, over 12,000 MW of long-term contracts for wind power have been signed since the start of 2013…Utilities continue to highlight wind’s ability to keep costs low for consumers…Wind power saved consumers $1 billion over just two days across the Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic states during the 2014 “Polar Vortex” event…” click here for more

    NEW CHEAPER SOLAR

    New-generation solar panels far cheaper, more efficient: scientists

    Magdalena Mis, January 27, 2015 (Reuters)

    “A new generation of solar panels made from a mineral called perovskite has the potential to convert solar energy into household electricity more cheaply than ever before, according to [Exeter University research]…Super-thin, custom-colored panels attached to a building's windows may become a "holy grail" for India and African countries [by shading windows and producing electricity]…With a thickness measured in billionths of a meter, solar panels made of perovskite will be more than 40 percent cheaper and 50 percent more efficient than those commercially produced today…Unlike other solar panels, those made of perovskite can absorb most of the solar spectrum and work in various atmospheric conditions, rather than only in direct sunlight…Researchers have already tested the material in the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East…” click here for more

    HOW TO GET TO EV MASS ADOPTION

    To reassure electric car buyers, combine battery leasing with better charging, study says

    January 28, 2015 (PhysOrg)

    “…[In] Toward Mass Adoption of Electric Vehicles: Impact of the Range and Resale Anxieties…[researchers offer] two models…[In the first model] battery enhanced charging service is made available through additional support infrastructure…In the second model, consumers lease the batteries and are also offered enhanced battery charging services…[T]heir impacts on electric vehicle adoption can be quite different. While range anxiety typically hurts adoption, resale anxiety can actually help adoption (depending on the EV production cost level)…[A]nxieties do not necessarily harm consumers…[and] typically benefit consumers since the presence of anxieties forces the firm to cut vehicle prices and invest more in public charging infrastructure…The battery leasing service improves the firm's profit at the expense of total adoption and consumer surplus, when not offered with the public charging option…Most importantly, increasing the driving range of electric vehicle through public charging infrastructure typically yields more socially desirable adoption outcomes (greater adoption and emission savings) than increasing the battery capacity…[T]he first model provides the highest benefit (electric vehicle adoption, emission savings, profitability, and consumer surplus) unless resale anxiety is high…” click here for more

    Wednesday, January 28, 2015

    TODAY’S STUDY: THE JOBS IN SOLAR RIGHT NOW

    National Solar Jobs Census 2014

    January 2015 (The Solar Foundation)

    Executive Summary

    National Solar Jobs Census 2014 is the fifth annual update of current employment, trends, and projected growth in the U.S. solar industry. Data for Census 2014 is derived from a statistically valid sampling and comprehensive survey of 276,376 establishments throughout the nation, in industries ranging from manufacturing, to construction and engineering, to sales. Rapid change in this industry has warranted annual examinations of the size and scope of the domestic solar labor force and updates on employers’ perspectives on job growth and future opportunities.

    This year’s Census found that the industry continues to exceed growth expectations, adding workers1 at a rate nearly 20 times faster than the overall economy and accounting for 1.3% of all jobs created in the U.S. over the past year. Our long-term research shows that solar industry employment has grown by 86% in the past five years, resulting in nearly 80,000 domestic living-wage jobs. The installation sector, made up of men and women placing these systems in service, crew managers or foremen, system designers and engineers, and sales representatives and site assessors, remains the single largest source of domestic employment growth, more than doubling in size since 2010.

    With leading market analyses continuing to project record-breaking increases in annual installed solar capacity before the 30% federal investment tax credit (ITC) expires at the end of 2016, it is very likely that the national solar workforce will continue growing at its remarkable pace in the short term. However, if the ITC reverts to the 10% level in 2017, solar employment growth is likely to slow or may even experience significant job losses. As of November 2014, the solar industry employs 173,807 solar workers, representing a growth rate of 21.8% since November 2013. Throughout 2014, U.S. businesses as a whole added nearly 1.8 million jobs at an annual growth rate of 1.1%, meaning employment in the solar industry grew nearly 20 times faster than employment in the overall economy.

    Over the next 12 months, employers surveyed expect to see total employment in the solar industry increase by 20.9% to 210,096 solar workers.

    This report includes up-to-date information on the solar industry, quantifying employment growth since last year’s study and trends since the publication of Census 2010. These research findings also provide stakeholders with current information on the potential for further growth and the factors that are likely to impact the industry over the coming years.

    Based on the observed growth in solar employment in this and previous Census reports, we draw the following conclusions.

    As of November 2014:

    • Solar industry employment increased by nearly 22% since November 2013, which is almost twenty times the national average job growth rate. There are 173,807 solar workers in the U.S., up from 142,698 for the previous year. 2014 was the second consecutive year in which solar employment both grew by approximately 20% or more and exceeded Census growth projections.

    • Employment in the U.S. solar industry increased nearly 86% over the past four years. Since the first National Solar Jobs Census was published by The Solar Foundation in September 2010, the solar industry increased 85.9%, adding over 80,000 workers.

    • Solar is a major source of new U.S. jobs. Of the more than 31,000 new solar jobs added since November 2013, 85 percent are new jobs (rather than existing positions that have added solar responsibilities), representing approximately 26,600 new jobs created.

    • The solar industry created 1.3% of all new U.S. jobs. One out of every 78 new jobs created in the U.S. since Census 2013 was created by the solar industry –representing 1.3% of all new jobs.

    • The solar industry expects to add over 36,000 solar jobs over the next 12 months. If realized, this 20.9% growth rate would make 2015 the third consecutive year that annual solar job growth was near or above twenty percent. This estimate compares with a projected 1% increase in employment in the overall economy over the next year.

    • Of the 173,807 solar workers in the United States, approximately 157,500 are 100% dedicated to solar activities. The “all-solar” percentage of workers is effectively unchanged since 2013.

    • The U.S. solar industry is becoming more efficient, to less than 15.5 jobs per megawatt of installed capacity. This is down from 19.5 jobs per megawatt in 2012.

    • Including indirect and induced impacts, the solar industry supports approximately 700,000 U.S. jobs. Census data include occupations critical to meeting domestic installation demand. These include most of the direct jobs and many of the indirect jobs in the solar industry, with the exception of some indirect jobs in the component and materials supply chain. Those jobs, combined with induced impacts of the industry, support an additional 531,200 jobs, bringing the total employment impact for the U.S. solar industry to over 705,000.

    • Wages paid to solar workers remain competitive with similar industries and provide many living-wage opportunities. Solar installers pay an average wage of $20-24 per hour, with the mean wage for these workers rising by 1.6% over the previous year. Manufacturers pay their assemblers nearly $18 per hour, while internal sales people at these firms earn approximately $44 per hour. Overall, salespeople have a wide range of pay, from about $30 to more than $60 per hour, and solar designers receive between $30-40 per hour.

    • Solar workers are increasingly diverse. Demographic groups such as Latino/Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, and African American, along with women and veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces now represent a larger percentage of the solar workforce than was observed in Census 2013. These higher percentages, coupled with overall growth in solar employment, means workers from these groups are growing in number as well as percentage of the workforce. Women account for over 37,500 solar workers – 21.6% of total – up from around 26,700 in 2013. Nearly 17,000 veterans are employed by solar establishments, compared with just over 13,000 the previous year.

    National Solar Jobs Census 2014 continues to demonstrate that the U.S. solar industry is having a positive and growing impact on the national economy and supports jobs across every state in the nation.

    As with the previous Census studies, this report includes information about all types of companies engaged in the analysis, research and development, production, sales, installation, and use of all solar technologies – ranging from solar photovoltaics (PV), to concentrating solar power (CSP), to solar water heating systems for the residential, commercial, industrial, and utility market segments.

    The findings presented herein are based on rigorous survey efforts that include 66,986 telephone calls and over 25,655 emails to known and potential solar establishments across the United States, resulting in a maximum margin of error for employment-related questions of +/- 2.03%.

    Unlike economic impact models that generate employment estimates based on economic data or jobs-per-megawatt (or jobs-per-dollar) assumptions, the National Solar Jobs Census series provides statistically valid and current data gathered from actual employers. This analysis also purposefully avoids artificially inflating its results with questionable multiplier effects often found in analyses of other industries.

    No Quick News Today.

    Tuesday, January 27, 2015

    TODAY’S STUDY: HOW SOLAR OWNERS CAN BE 'GOOD CITIZENS OF THE GRID'

    How solar owners can be 'good citizens of the grid'; A new SunPower Roadmap points to solutions for the PV challenges utilities face.

    Herman K. Trabish, November 19, 2014 (Utility Dive)

    A major force in the solar industry just sent a message to utility regulators—with an attachment.

    The message: Solar can be part of the solution instead a part of the problem. The attachment: A Roadmap to where utilities and owners of distributed solar can partner in a shared and reliable grid.

    “Both utilities and the solar industry have a lot to gain by collaborating on how to use the technology,” explained SunPower VP of Policy Tom Starrs of the basic intent in “Bridging the Divide: A Roadmap to Integrating Distributed Generation.” The Roadmap is the thinking “of most of SunPower’s strategic leadership,” Starrs said.

    Sun Power is one of the vertically-integrated Big Four in U.S. solar, along with SolarCity, First Solar, and SunEdison. It is the second biggest U.S. module manufacturer, makes one of the highest efficiency mass-market modules in the world, has consistently ranked among leading installers in solar leasing, and supplied modules for the MidAmerican Energy-owned 579-megawatt Solar Star Projects, the world’s biggest utility-scale photovoltaic installation.

    The premise in the roadmap, which was sent to state utility commissioners who are members of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) ahead of their annual meeting, is that the solar and utility industries must work together. “We all share a common interest in ensuring a reliable and resilient utility grid,” CEO Tom Werner pointed out in the cover letter.

    “The PV industry is recognizing we can’t go it alone and finding ways to work with utilities instead of being antagonists is crucial to our long term success,” Starrs said. “And utilities are recognizing that PV, including distributed PV, is here to stay. Efforts to undermine it are not going to be successful anyway. They might as well find ways to work toward solutions with the industry.”

    A shared understanding

    Utilities are concerned that grid integration of distributed generation (DG) is eroding their ability to provide basic grid services and SunPower understands the concern, Starrs said, because utilities are among its key customers and because it must work closely with utilities on interconnections. But, he said, the right response to that concern is not to limit solar.

    “The U.S. can have a strong, smart 21st century utility network in which solar power can reach its full potential while addressing grid integration concerns,” Werner wrote in the cover letter. “Achieving that goal will be extremely difficult, however, without a shared understanding.”

    The Roadmap specifies 8 principles:

    Innovate alternative distribution utility business models and regulatory frameworks for cost effective deployment and management of distributed energy technologies with new smart tools that improve grid performance.

    Keep solar growing with net energy metering until solar penetration levels affect distribution utility fixed cost recovery or impose distribution system upgrade investments.

    When solar penetration rises, implement a gradual transition to new rate structures and service arrangements that send price signals that improve grid efficiency, reliability, and resilience.

    Develop transparent, predictable, and consistent rate structures and market services that allow customers the opportunity to adapt to them.

    While alternative rate structures are developed and implemented, minimum monthly bills are preferable to fixed charges as a way of ensuring that all customers contribute fairly to the costs of operating, maintaining, and improving the distribution system.

    Customers’ rights to acquire, deploy, own, operate, and interconnect behind-the-meter technologies, including energy efficiency and management, storage, and clean generation, must be protected.

    Interconnection of distributed generation should be streamlined with simple, uniform standards that protect the safety and reliability of utility networks and personnel.

    Distribution system operators should make public where grid upgrades will be cost effective and where distributed resources can be built without compromising reliability or imposing network infrastructure costs and reward those who relocate distributed generation accordingly.

    Using the Roadmap

    Starrs described two different kinds of issues that he says can be resolved by applying Roadmap principles.

    One is the saturation of a local feeder system by high PV penetration. It isn’t widespread yet, he explained, but HECO, Hawaii’s electric utility, was forced to impose forceful interconnection constraints against the threat of outages earlier this year.

    Another is the saturation of a system with PV. The California Independent System Operator’s infamous duck curve is a forecast of that possibility.

    “The ISO is anticipating California will have too much solar on the grid in the middle of the day and not enough solar on the grid to meet the evening peak,” Starrs explained, and its suggested remedies are more gas-fired generation to firm and shape the renewables output, and more transmission to move power, including the new gas-fired generation, across broader regions.

    The Roadmap points to solar being efficiently integrated using new technologies. “PV is the core technology,” Starrs said, “but storage is the game changing opportunity. And there are other new hardware and software tools.”

    Smart inverters and smart transformers can prevent feeders from being saturated. Smart meters and smart charging systems can allow utility customers “to do demand response, to do load shifting, and to sell excess and stored solar generation into ancillary service markets.”

    Stakeholders in Hawaii, including HECO, the Public Utility Commission, and the solar industry, could have and should have anticipated the penetration growth and worked together to create longer term solutions, Starrs said.

    By contrast, California’s AB 327 is an example of forward-thinking. “It isn’t a law about what will be changed immediately. It is a law that proposed a 5-year plan and laid out a process to start creating solutions,” Starrs said.

    High penetration issues are inconsequential while PV systems remain scattered, Starrs explained. But according to solar growth projections, solar penetration will rise and become consequential. “It is much better for us to develop solutions in advance rather than wait until problems become real,” he said.

    The new attitudes and technologies envisioned in the Roadmap, Starrs said, can “enable PV system owners to become good citizens of the grid.”

    QUICK NEWS, January 27, 2015: GOV CHRISTIE’S WHITE HOUSE BID AND NJ OCEAN WIND; MILITARY GOES SOLAR IN FLA; THE MONEY IN EV FAST-CHARGING

    GOV CHRISTIE’S WHITE HOUSE BID AND NJ OCEAN WIND Christie's 2016 ambitions are stalling N.J. wind energy project, Sweeney says

    Matt Friedman, January 26, 2015 (NJ.com)

    “…Gov. Chris Christie's presidential ambitions are holding up a wind energy project his administration once championed…[according to State Senate President Stephen Sweeney…who is considered a likely 2017 Democratic candidate for governor…[T]he Senate Environment and Energy Committee voted 4-1 to approve a bill (S2711) that would force the Board of Public Utilities to approve a proposal for a wind farm off the coast of Atlantic City that it has rejected twice…Sweeney also complained that the BPU has also been slow to issue regulations on wind energy, even though Christie signed a 2010 law intended to jump start the industry in New Jersey…At issue is the proposed 25-megawatt Fishermen's Energy wind project, which would consist of turbines about three miles off the coast of the resort…In rejecting the project most recently in November, the BPU — whose members are nominated by Christie and approved by the state Senate — said it ‘has not demonstrated financial integrity.’…Environmentalists and Democrats said the BPU was making excuses to hold the program up…The BPU evaluated the plan with a price of $263 per megawatt hour. But Fishermen's Energy said that was a much higher figure than it proposed, which was $199.17. It has appealed the decision…” click here for more

    MILITARY GOES SOLAR IN FLA Gulf Power, military bringing large-scale solar power

    January 22, 2015 (Pensacola News Journal)

    “…[T]he utility [Gulf Power] submitted [plans] to the Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC) for approval [of three solar projects in Northwest Florida]. The projects could be in service as early as December 2016…This is Gulf Power's second alternative energy project since launching the 3.2-megawatt Perdido Landfill Gas-to-Energy facility in 2010. Together, these new solar facilities, which will be developed by HelioSage Energy, could produce enough energy to power approximately 18,000 homes for one year…Once approved by the FPSC, the solar energy farms will be constructed at Eglin AFB in Fort Walton Beach (30 megawatts), Holley Field in Navarre (40 megawatts) and Saufley Field in Pensacola (50 megawatts). Gulf Power will serve customers across Northwest Florida with power from these renewable energy-generating facilities…[T]he solar farms will not replace Gulf Power's generation plants, but will have the capability to provide energy that will diversify the power supply and provide a cost-effective alternative during peak energy usage…” click here for more

    THE MONEY IN EV FAST-CHARGING Can Electric-Car Fast Charging Be Profitable? Answer: Unclear

    Stephen Edelstein, January 26, 2015 (Green Car Reports)

    “DC fast charging helps alleviate one of the major roadblocks to electric-car adoption--limited range--by giving drivers more ability to travel longer distances…That's why carmakers and other entities back the installation of more and more DC fast-charging sites…The benefits of a quicker charge are obvious for electric-car owners, but...providing power free to entice drivers…[can make operating one financially challenging]…A for-pay market in fast charging hasn't yet emerged…[but] businesses that operate charging stations on their property have to deal with [$20,000 to $60,000 installation costs as well as operating costs so] electric-car drivers could charge for free…[It is not clear that fast charge volumes are high enough to make it a profitable business if the operater charges drivers and it is not] clear what will happen to those hoping to make a profit off fast charging.” click here for more

    Monday, January 26, 2015

    GUEST LEAD POST: WHY THE MARKET UNDER-VALUES NEW ENERGY AND OVER-VALUES ENERGY COMMODITIES

    Fossilized Asset Allocation Still Mis-Pricing Energy And Risk

    Hazel Henderson, January 22, 2015 (Ethical Markets via Seeking Alpha)

    Summary

    -All energy sectors are still treated alike, dominated by fossil fuels. Energy assets based on commodities: coal, oil, gas, uranium are confused and conflated with energy technology stocks.

    -Energy technology stocks in solar, wind, batteries, efficiency, hydro, ocean-based and other emerging technologies are drowned out in this oil-dominated model.

    -Oil price volatility will continue as a wild card and presents an opportunity to address today’s massive mispricing of energy and risk.

    -Disaggregation and granulation of data is needed while splitting fossilized asset allocation buckets into newer energy commodities and energy technology classifications.

    As I wrote in 2008 in Updating Fossilized Asset-Allocation Classes, all energy sectors are still treated alike, dominated by fossil fuels. This means that energy assets based on commodities: coal, oil, gas, uranium are confused and conflated with energy technology stocks in solar, wind, batteries, efficiency, hydro, ocean-based and other emerging technologies which are drowned out in this oil-dominated model. Even as oil prices fluctuate wildly, dipping below $50 in January 2015, this commodity price volatility affects both other commodities' asset values as well as highly leveraged producers and refiners, since 16% of junk bonds are energy-related. While macroeconomic effects are very real and wildly divergent between countries and sectors, this focus is on data, models and metrics. Oil prices primarily affect and misprice the energy technology players whose sunk or securitized capital costs are now producing fuel from the sun's daily photons which are free.

    Oil price volatility will continue as a wild card in 2015 and presents an opportunity to address today's massive mispricing of energy and risk. Confusion and misallocation of investments in the energy sector now can only be clarified by further disaggregation and granulation of data while splitting fossilized asset allocation buckets into newer energy commodities andenergy technology classifications while including subsidies across all energy sectors.

    ● Energy commodities should be split from other commodities - particularly food affected by unsustainable land-based biofuels. Separate "buckets" are needed for fossil-based fuels: coal, oil, gas, uranium and mining with fossil fuel-producing equipment and refining companies also treated separately. Photon-based energy captured by solar, thermal, photovoltaics, wind, ocean turbines, wave power, all of which are free after sunk or securitized capital investment, are covered by Ethical Markets and in Bloomberg New Energy Finance. These sources should be broken out for comparison with fossilized fuels and nuclear fuel (uranium).

    ● Energy capital requirements for non-renewable fossil fuel production, refining and marketing should be broken out such as by Carbon Tracker. Photon-based renewable energy should be separately tracked and accounted for - so actual comparisons can be calculated.

    ● External costs of production of all energy sources should be calculated, such as by Trucost, and stated in shadow pricing: e.g., water use comparisons between nuclear, coal, oil and gas electricity versus solar thermal, PV, wind, hydro and low-head hydro. Safety costs should also be calculated.

    ● Energy efficiency and storage technologies need separate classification to capture the real price of waste and inefficiencies. These and subsidies, calculated by energy and exergy experts, waste up to 40% of possible productivity across entire economies in the USA, China, India, Canada, Russia and Eastern European countries.

    ● Sustainability Sector - Lastly, we need a new asset allocation bucket for the burgeoning green sectors and technologies we cover in our Green Transition Scoreboard®: solar, wind, geothermal, efficiency, storage, wave power, hydro, biofuels from seawater-grown algae, electric vehicles, green infrastructure, green bonds, yieldcos and fossil-free portfolios. Such private investments since 2007 currently total $5.7 trillion worldwide. We project that these current levels of $1 trillion or more annually can leave the fossil fuel era behind by 2020 as humanity enters the knowledge richer, cleaner, greener, more equitable societies of the Solar Age.

    QUICK NEWS, January 26: BUILDING THE SOLAR TO BUILD SOLAR; WHAT WIND NEEDS; NEW DIRECTIONS FOR BIOFUELS

    BUILDING THE SOLAR TO BUILD SOLAR Solar energy: building a new industry in WNY from the ground up

    David Robinson, January 23, 2015 (The Buffalo News)

    “…With SolarCity pledging to create 2,900 new jobs from its new factory now under construction…and with Japanese-manufacturer Solar Frontier studying the feasibility of opening a plant here, state officials are optimistic the [Buffalo] region is moving toward becoming a center for solar energy manufacturing…To do it, the state is pledging to invest $750 million from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion economic development initiative to build and equip SolarCity’s factory. It also would provide millions of dollars in support for Solar Frontier, if the company decides to build a plant here…[T]he SolarCity plant, scheduled to open sometime during 2016, would be one of the world’s biggest factories, with the annual capacity to make enough solar modules to generate 1,000 megawatts of electricity. SolarCity executives have said they need the Buffalo plant’s capacity to meet what they see as the continued rapid growth in the demand for new solar energy systems…SolarCity has agreed to give the state an exclusive four-month window to negotiate a potential expansion of its Buffalo manufacturing capacity, to as much as 5,000 megawatts…” click here for more

    WHAT WIND NEEDS The Key To Making The Most Of Rising Wind Energy Production Is…

    Alfredo Parres, January 23, 2015 (Clean Technica)

    “…Global wind power capacity is set to grow by a further 50 to 100 percent by 2020, so it’s well worth considering how to make the most of these wind resources and the challenges that must be faced…Denmark produced 39.1 percent of its electricity from wind, with its most productive month exceeding 60 percent. One some blustery days, the country sourced more than 90 percent of its electricity from wind…[T]he United Kingdom and Germany also set record highs for wind energy…In Texas, regulators say turbines in the state set a new wind power record, 10,296 megawatts, on March 26, 2014. This accounted for nearly 30 percent of the 35,768 megawatts of electricity coursing through the grid…By the end of 2013, China had an installed capacity of more than 90 gigawatts…From a technical point of view, the intermittent nature of wind presents challenges…Grid operators demand stability. Poor power quality can lead to instability and outages…[T]here is no single solution…[One is the] ability to import and export electricity…[Another is that wind farms must] ensure their output meets grid code requirements by mitigating the impact of transient voltages and power dips…[Finally, adequate transmission reduces curtailments and wind-related negative electricity pricing]…” click here for more

    NEW DIRECTIONS FOR BIOFUELS Biofuel industry at crossroads awaiting EPA ruling

    James Osborne, January 20, 2015 (The Dallas Morning News)

    “Seven years ago President George W. Bush signed a law mandating refineries blend fuels derived from corn, animal fat and plant waste into the nation’s fuel supply. But the industry it spawned says it’s on the verge of plant closures and layoffs if the federal government doesn’t clear up uncertainty about future fuel standards…The renewable fuel standard, which sets year by year mandates for ethanol, biodiesel and other biofuels, has come under debate in Washington over concern there is already too much ethanol within the nation’s gasoline supply…At the same time, U.S. oil production has increased 80 percent since 2010…[Ethanol is no longer needed to reduce] U.S. oil imports…That has left the biofuel industry in regulatory gridlock. The EPA has not updated the renewable fuel standard since November 2013. That year biodiesel production hit 1.8 billion gallons. But with no new standard, that number fell to 1.75 billion gallons in 2014…” click here for more

    Saturday, January 24, 2015

    The President Describes The Republican Climate Dodge

    President Obama explains why the Republicans’ “I’m not a scientist” dodge for dealing with climate change doesn’t work. From CleanEnergySACE via YouTube

    Jon Stewart On How Not To Fight Climate Change

    Calling out the world’s wealthiest. From Comedy Central

    The Dirty Water And Dirty Money In Coal Ash

    Warning: This story contains vulgarities about what North Carolina’s coal-burners have done. From SeeProgress via YouTube

    Friday, January 23, 2015

    CLIMATE CHANGE ADVANCES DOOMSDAY CLOCK

    Climate change inaction pushes 'doomsday clock' closest to midnight since 1984; Symbolic clock is now at three minutes to apocalypse, the darkest hour for humanity since the cold war

    Suzanne Goldenberg, 22 January 2015 (UK Guardian)

    “The symbolic doomsday clock moved to three minutes before midnight… because of the gathering dangers of climate change and nuclear proliferation, signalling the gravest threat to humanity since the throes of the cold war…It was the closest the clock has come to midnight since 1984, when arms-control negotiations stalled and virtually all channels of communication between the US and the former Soviet Union closed down…The move came as scientists sounded a warning about climate change for the second time in three years…2014 was the hottest year in 130 years of systematic record keeping. Nine of the 10 hottest years on record have occurred since 2000…But the scientists suggested that the greater danger lay in the failure of leaders to recognise and act on climate change…The greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change have risen more since 2000 than in the three previous decades combined…[Yet, negotiators have] steadily lowered their ambitions for a global climate deal…In 1991, when the threat of nuclear annihilation receded with the end of the cold war, the clock stood at 17 minutes to midnight…” click here for more

    JAPAN PLAN TO FLOAT SOLAR

    Solar Panels Floating on Water Will Power Japan's Homes; More solar power plants are being built on water, but is this such a good idea?

    Bryan Lufkin, January 16, 2015 (National Geographic)

    "…[F]loating solar structures have been announced in, among other countries, the United Kingdom, Australia, India, and Italy…The biggest floating plant, in terms of output, will soon be placed atop the reservoir of Japan'sYamakura Dam in Chiba prefecture, just east of Tokyo. When completed in March 2016, it will cover 180,000 square meters, hold 50,000 photovoltaic solar panels, and power nearly 5,000 households…The Yamakura Dam project is a collaboration byKyocera (a Kyoto-headquartered electronics manufacturer), Ciel et Terre (a French company that designs, finances, and operates photovoltaic installations), and Century Tokyo Leasing Corporation…Placing the panels on a lake or reservoir frees up surrounding land for agricultural use, conservation, or other development…[but] floating solar energy plants present relatively new difficulties. For one thing, everything needs to be waterproofed, including the panels and wiring…[There must be] adherence to regulations on water quality…[Testing is necessary to] make sure the platforms could withstand the whims of Mother Nature [like typhoons, earthquakes, landslides, and tidal waves…Many nations [with limited available land] could benefit from floating solar power. And Japan is their poster child…” click here for more

    GERMAN OCEAN WIND BOOMING

    Germany more than doubled its offshore wind power capacity in 2014

    January 19, 2015 (ZME Science)

    “In 2014, Germany installed 543 offshore wind turbines, reaching a capacity of 2.35 gigawatts (GW), getting closer to their plans of having 6.5 GW of wind energy infrastructure installed and connected by 2020…[Germany’s] renewable energy sector has grown from 6.4% in 2000 to just over 30% in 2014. For the first time, non-hydro renewables (wind, solar and biogas) accounted for a larger portion of net electricity production than brown coal. While peak-generation from combined wind and solar reached a new all-time high of 74% in April 2014, wind power saw its best day ever on December 12, 2014, generating 562 GWh. Germany is already being called ‘the world’s first major renewable energy economy’…Wind is a major player in the increasing renewables…The offshore energy sector has more than doubled in 2014 alone,..Unlike onshore farms, offshore parks face no limit on turbine size, while steady sea winds allow them to turn about 42 percent of the time, about double the “load factor” onshore…” click here for more

    CHINA READIES GEOTHERMAL EXPANSION

    China Nears Publication of Plan to Guide Geothermal Developments

    Jannuary 21, 2015 (Bloomberg News)

    “China could be nearing publication of a plan to guide the development of geothermal energy resources over [the years 2016 to 2020 as soon as July] as it plunges ahead with efforts to get more of its energy from renewable sources…according to Liu Jinxia, head of the geothermal research institute at Sinopec Star Petroleum, which acts as a government think tank and is authorized to research geothermal energy…The National Energy Administration and the Ministry of Land and Resources are currently reviewing the geothermal development plans from dozens of local governments…A detailed plan would map out China’s geothermal resources and outline how companies and governments could commercialize the energy source…China has one-sixth of the world’s geothermal resources, according to Sinopec Star Petroleum. Even so, the country had just 28 megawatts of geothermal generating capacity at the end of 2014, or 20 times less than neighboring Japan…The government’s current plan is for geothermal energy by 2020 to replace 50 million metric tons of coal a year and account for about 1.3 percent of China’s energy mix…” click here for more

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