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

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-WHERE IT HURTS: CLIMATE CHANGE TO RUIN AUSSIES’ BEER
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-WORLD WIND GREW 42% IN 2014
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-HOW CANADA CAN GET TO 100% NEW ENERGY
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-GERMANY KICKS-OFF SECOND-GEN BIOFUELS PILOT PLANT
  • THE DAY BEFORE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, March 26:

  • TTTA Thursday-WHERE CLIMATE CHANGE HAS ZERO IMPACT
  • TTTA Thursday-NEW ENERGY TAKING OVER
  • TTTA Thursday-SOLAR CLOTH
  • TTTA Thursday-HOW TO SUCCEED WITH NEW BUILDING MATERIALS
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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

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: INSIDE THE BATTLES FOR FLORIDA'S ENERGY FUTURE
  • QUICK NEWS, March 25: CALIFORNIA IS 1ST STATE TO GET 5% POWER FROM BIG SOLAR; FEDS GREENLIGHT VIRGINIA OCEAN WIND; FLA SOLAR INITIATIVE ADVANCES
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • GUEST REPORTING: ELON MUSK – PROFILE OF A GREEN LEADER
  • QUICK NEWS, March 24: SOLAR BRINGS JOBS; WIND POWERING MONTANA; GLOBAL PRE-PAID METERING TO TRIPLE
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING, MARCH 25: HOW POWER COMPANIES CAN GET TO UTILITY 2.0 AND BEYOND
  • QUICK NEWS, March 23: KAFKA IN FLORIDA; SUNRUN READIES IPO; THE OBAMA TEAM BACKS WIND
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • Weekend Video: Making Toast – A Choice
  • Weekend Video: Greenpeace Makes A Point To Shell Oil
  • Weekend Video: The Speed Of New Energy
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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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  • Saturday, March 28, 2015

    Jon Stewart On Climate Change In Florida And California

    What's more inappropriate -- the jokes in this about genitalia or the responses to climate change the jokes describe? From Comedy Central

    A Place Where Global Warming Is Cold

    The Achilles heel of the climate system presents a new enigma. Don’t miss the last line. From greenman3610 via YouTube

    Energy Everywhere

    The newest entry in the Department of Energy’s Energy Literacy series. From U.S. Department of Energy via YouTube

    Friday, March 27, 2015

    WHERE IT HURTS: CLIMATE CHANGE TO RUIN AUSSIES’ BEER

    Drought Draught: it's the taste of climate change

    Tim Martin, March 27, 2015 (The Age)

    "Australia is facing a crisis, headed towards a future where beer will be decidedly average and climate change will literally leave us with a bad taste in our mouths. A time when artificial supplements are the norm and water restrictions a way of life…The 'Save the Ales' campaign, running as part of Earth Hour 2015, is encouraging beer drinkers across Australia to go out and celebrate Earth Hour with the Aussie beers that they love, before it's too late’…Drought Draught will be an extremely well-brewed but average-tasting beer that lacks the flavours and complexities which Australians love and expect…[because it will be made] poor quality barley and hops combined with artificial supplements because ‘real ingredients will be cost-prohibitive or simply unavailable due to climate change-induced drought’…” click here for more

    WORLD WIND GREW 42% IN 2014

    World Wind Energy Market Update 2015; International Wind Energy Development: 2015–2019

    1Q 2015 (Navigant Research)

    “After a dismal 2013, when worldwide wind power installations fell by 20%, the wind energy industry rebounded strongly in 2014. Installations grew by 42% year-over-year in 2014 to 51.2 GW of wind power and cumulative installed capacity climbed to 372 GW. Market growth was largely supported by a policy-driven acceleration of installations in three key countries: China, Germany, and the United States...Asia’s extraordinary growth helped it pass Europe as the region with the most cumulative capacity. The continent hosts 37.3% of all the wind power capacity, 1.5 percentage points more than Europe…[Europe] accounted for 23.7% of 2014 global installations…All the countries tracked except Argentina installed more turbines than in 2013. The Americas represented 22.1% of global new installations…China again held the title of the world’s largest annual market with 23.3 GW of new wind power installed in 2014. Germany remained a distant second with 5.1 GW, followed by the United States with 4.9 GW…Brazil almost tripled new installations, adding 2.8 GW in 2014, enough to make it the fourth-largest market…Penetration of wind power in the world’s electricity supply reached 3.4% in 2014…” click here for more

    HOW CANADA CAN GET TO 100% NEW ENERGY

    How Canada Could Hit 100 Percent Renewable Energy

    Katie Valentine, March 23, 2015 (ThinkProgress via Solar Energy)

    “Canada can be a world leader in emissions reductions and renewable energy use, but only if its federal government decides to take climate change seriously, according to [Acting on Climate Change,a new report by 70 Canadian academics on]…Canada’s potential to shift its electricity production to renewable sources and cut its emissions…[T]he country could get 100 percent of its electricity from low-carbon sources like wind, solar, and hydropower by 2035 and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050…[if the federal government implements] a nationwide price on carbon and eliminate[s] subsidies to Canada’s fossil fuel industry — particularly, its tar sands industry…” click here for more

    GERMANY KICKS-OFF SECOND-GEN BIOFUELS PILOT PLANT

    Air Liquide starts up biofuel plant in Germany

    Rob Cockerill, March 24, 2015 (Gas World)

    "Air Liquide has announced the start-up of a new biofuel plant in Germany as part of the bioliqTM project in partnership with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)… The bioliq™ pilot plant aims at demonstrating the feasibility of a process to produce high-quality sulfur-free fuel from residual biomass…These ‘second generation’ biofuels are produced using the inedible part of plants (wood waste, straw), without any impact on the food chain, as opposed to ‘first-generation’ biofuels produced from the oil, sugar or starch contained in plants like oilseeds, beetroot or cereals…Air Liquide provided key technologies for the pyrolysis of biomass and gas synthesis, as well as the oxygen supply needed for the gasification process…[A]pproximately 7 kg of straw can produce one litre of fuel…[T]he next step is to optimise the process in order to ramp-up production and prepare for future commercialisation.” click here for more

    Thursday, March 26, 2015

    WHERE CLIMATE CHANGE HAS ZERO IMPACT

    Why climate change is the public policy problem from hell

    Ryan Cooper, March 25, 2015 (The Week)

    “…Several scientific developments have come to light [n the last several months], any of which on their own should have inspired massive action around the globe. But because the projected effects are so complicated and far in the future, the political impact has been nil…[The latest study of] Atlantic meridional overturning circulation, the system of currents of which the Gulf Stream…appears to be weakening rapidly, which may explain the shocking cold measured in the ocean south of Greenland — perhaps the only part of the entire world that experienced record cold last winter…The massive melting happening on Greenland is a likely explanation…

    “Meanwhile, California is experiencing the opposite problem: extreme heat and drought. Its water storage is system is down to perhaps three years' supply if the drought doesn't break…All this comes on the heels of two studies just in the last couple months projecting massively accelerated melting of Antarctica over the coming decades. All told, something like 20 feet of sea level rise due to Antarctic melting is now likely locked in…But these studies have had precisely zero impact on the political discourse. Instead, climate denier Ted Cruz has announced he is running for president, while Florida Gov. Rick Scott has banned use of the phrase "climate change" among state employees…[N]obody is changing public policy to attack the root cause of all this — carbon dioxide emissions…” click here for more

    NEW ENERGY TAKING OVER

    Scheduled 2015 capacity additions mostly wind and natural gas; retirements mostly coal

    March 10, 2015 (U.S. Energy Information Administration)

    “In 2015, electric generating companies expect to add more than 20 gigawatts (GW) of utility-scale generating capacity to the power grid. The additions are dominated by wind (9.8 GW), natural gas (6.3 GW), and solar (2.2 GW), which combine to make up 91% of total additions. Because different types of generating capacity have very different utilization rates, with nuclear plants and natural gas combined-cycle generators having utilization factors three to five times those of wind and solar generators, capacity measures alone do not directly show how much generation is actually provided…Nearly 16 GW of generating capacity is expected to retire in 2015, 81% of which (12.9 GW) is coal-fired generation…The addition of more natural gas, solar, and wind generating capacity follows the pattern of the past several years…Wind additions are largely found in the Plains states…Utility-scale solar additions of systems with at least one megawatt of capacity are dominated by two states—California (1.2 GW) and North Carolina (0.4 GW)…Natural gas additions are spread throughout the country, but Texas is adding more than double any other state (1.7 GW, 27% of total natural gas additions)…Generator retirements are heavily composed of coal-fired generation, with nearly 13 GW expected to be retired in 2015…” click here for more

    SOLAR CLOTH

    Solar sails set course for a new journey into renewable energy; Perry Carroll of The Solar Cloth Company explains why his flexible solar sail panels can generate energy not only at on sea but on millions of spaces on land

    Shane Hickey, 22 March 2015 (The Guardian)

    “…Solar Cloth Company makes lightweight, flexible solar panels which can be rolled and fitted onto curved and flexible structures such as domes or coverings for agricultural land, as well as on the roofs of buildings unable to sustain the weight of glass panels…The company uses thin film photovoltaics (TFPV), which are viewed as the second generation of solar technology. TFPV is light enough to be placed on plastics…[The company’s] panels are about 20% the weight of standard panels…[They] produce 15% less power than the current generation of panels and they cost twice as much. But the company hopes to open up new markets by emphasising the weight difference and the flexibility of the plastic roll, which open up new possibilities for siting solar cells. For instance, the cells can be bonded onto structural fabrics of buildings…The rolls of TFPV can be fitted on top of a building over a few days, allowing for millions of square metres of space on structures to be converted to solar…The company also intends to concentrate on fitting the panels on awnings in car parks, where the energy can then be fed directly into an electric car parked underneath…So far the company [valued at £7.5m] has received £700,000 worth of orders…” click here for more

    HOW TO SUCCEED WITH NEW BUILDING MATERIALS

    Outside Partnerships Drive Profit and Revenue for Building Materials Firms; External engagements better correlate with increased revenues and earnings, relative to R&D spending, according to Lux Research's analysis of 50 large building materials companies

    March 25, 2015 (Lux Research)

    “Building and construction materials companies, beset by cyclical revenue growth and low profitability over the past decade, benefit more from partnerships and acquisitions than from increased R&D spending…Such external engagement was better correlated with earnings growth, relative to R&D spending, in an analysis of 50 large building materials companies…Insulation manufacturers are desperately trying to escape commoditization…Cement alone lacks a positive outlier…[and] the sector is going through a period of consolidation… Small innovative companies represent ready-made opportunities to identify and expand into technological or business model white spaces. Good examples include more efficient air handling systems for a tighter building envelope, new modeling and fabrication tools, and niche products in commoditized segments such as interior paints.” click here for more

    Wednesday, March 25, 2015

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: INSIDE THE BATTLES FOR FLORIDA'S ENERGY FUTURE

    Showdown at the PSC: Inside the battles for Florida's energy future; Utilities and environmentalists are feuding about how to quantify solar and efficiency

    Herman K. Trabish, December 14, 2014 (Utility Dive)

    Last month, Florida regulators terminated the state’s solar rebate program and rolled back its energy efficiency goals after a heated debate between utilities and renewables advocates.

    Impacts of the two separate rulings could be radically different. The first could create a new solar industry in the state. The second could squelch efforts to bring more efficiency to utility customers.

    Last July, the Public Service Commission reconsidered the goals of the Florida Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act (FEECA) in proceedings required by law every five years. It announced its decisions Nov. 25.

    Commissioners largely decided in favor of Florida Power and Light (FPL), the state’s dominant electricity provider, and the other important utilities, Duke Energy Florida and Tampa Electric Company.

    Interveners against their positions included Sierra Club, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), the Environmental Defense Fund and Florida’s Office of Public Counsel.

    Solar moves ahead

    Both utilities and interveners embraced the PSC’s solar ruling. They agreed the $2 per watt solar rebate program was flawed. In terminating it as of December 31, 2015, the commission set in motion a new process.

    “They ordered a workshop to discuss how to effectively implement solar policy,” explained VoteSolar Florida Regional Manager Justin Hoysradt.

    In response to 7,000 letters of support during the hearing, Commissioner Eduardo Balbis led the commission to unanimous approval of Florida’s “extremely important” existing net metering policy and “a workshop to thoroughly address the solar issues.”

    The intent, Hoysradt said, is to complete the workshop “prior to the termination of the rebate program so the solar industry and other stakeholders would have a smooth transition to new policies.” Expanded third party ownership of solar, community solar, and virtual net metering are expected to be taken up.

    “That is an adult conversation Florida hasn’t had in a long time,” Hoysradt said. “It is super-critical the workshop be what the commission described — transparent and open to the public and to all stakeholders to participate and provide input. I am cautiously optimistic that if it is, it should result in good solar policy.”

    Several interveners agreed with the utilities’ contention the rebates were not cost-effective.

    “The rebates were set too high and the utilities did not adjust them as the installed price of solar dropped,” Hoyradt explained. “The program could have been more cost-effective and benefitted more people if the utilities listened to stakeholder input. That is what this workshop is intended to correct.”

    The energy efficiency feud

    Despite some agreement on solar, exchanges between FPL and SACE during and after the energy efficiency proceedings made the Capulets and Montagues look like kissing cousins.

    “We were amazed at how aggressive the utilities were in reducing their commitments to energy efficiency,” explained SACE Executive Director Stephen Smith. “It was a difficult and hostile proceeding because they had no interest in advancing meaningful goals.”

    In its decision, the commission affirmed FPL’s Rate Impact Measure (RIM) cost-effectiveness test of energy efficiency. “This approach has served FPL's customers well for decades — FPL has achieved significant cumulative DSM savings while keeping electric rates low,” the regulators' decision reads.

    The PSC also found the Total Resource Cost (TRC) test used in 2009 to set FPL's goals caused too great a ratepayer impact. “This recent history supports turning away from 2009's failed experiment and returning to the fundamental rate impact and resource need considerations that have supported this Commission's successful implementation of FEECA over decades,” regulators wrote.

    Many expert interveners did not think the commission’s assessment was adequate. SACE experts Natalie Mims and George Cavros stressed the wider use of the TRC test across the U.S. and noted its use is supported by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

    The debate over methods

    “The TRC is an improvement on the RIM, but it is still not necessarily right,” said Pace Energy and Climate Center Executive Director Karl Rabago who, as a former utility executive and Texas regulator, is a nationally-recognized expert witness.

    “With RIM, which the utilities call the ‘no-losers’ test, and we always called the ‘hardly any winners’ test, you reject anything that moves the revenue requirement needle upwards in the short term, regardless of whether it helps in the mid or long term,” Rabago explained. “It says that only the user may invest in energy efficiency improvements that have upfront costs, and that other ratepayers can never enjoy the benefit of paying a little more on rates today to get rate savings in the future.”

    TRC is particularly counter-productive for utilities, Rabago added, because it ends up reducing electricity sales.

    “FPL claimed in this docket that all the cost-effective energy efficiency opportunities have been captured and more are not needed because their load demand is down,” Smith said. “In another docket, they say they need to build new gas plants and a pipeline and want ratepayers to pay for fracking.”

    The utility, Smith added, “is an arrogant monopoly institution that has captured the PSC. It is arrogantly out of control and taking advantage of a broken system where there is not a functioning regulatory body to oversee them.”

    “SACE was dissatisfied with our proposal but we didn’t think what they proposed was realistic and achievable at the rates we have now,” FPL Director of Public Affairs Mark Bubriski said. “We would love if the discussion inside the hearing room and outside the hearing room was based on facts and not sound bites and talking points.”

    Is there a way forward?

    But, Bubriski said, FPL would not be willing to participate in an energy efficiency workshop like the one proposed by the commission for solar. “This is actually exactly the purpose of the PSC’s DSM goals process,” he said. “We are always open to participating in a constructive discussion, but we are not sure that replicating the PSC’s extremely thorough process with some other format would make sense.”

    Despite Hoysradt’s hopes for the solar workshop, Bubriski disdained such a forum for energy efficiency. “It’s great to talk philosophy, but a truly serious discussion requires the knowledge of how specific programs impact specific types of customers in an individual utility’s territory," he said. "This is what occurs in the PSC’s process.”

    FPL also ruled out reconsideration of energy efficiency goals for Florida sooner than the statutorily-mandated five years. “The result of the analyses would actually be nearly the same if conducted in quicker succession,” according to Bubriski. Given the preparation time and the costs to ratepayers and taxpayers, he added, “It’s just not practical to conduct the formal goal-setting process more frequently.”

    Bubriski had no other constructive suggestion to resolve the hostile atmosphere with SACE or move the debate over energy efficiency test methodologies forward. “We go behind closed doors and they pretend to be constructive and then they go out and bash us,” he said. “You can only be stabbed in the back so many times.”

    Another workshop?

    Just before the Florida PSC affirmed FPL’s method for valuing energy efficiencies, Synapse Energy Economics released Benefit-Cost Analysis For Distributed Energy Resources. It reported that, far from being a settled question, “The benefit cost analysis techniques that have been used for many years for evaluating energy efficiency resources are undergoing change.”

    Through the National Efficiency Screening Project, “energy efficiency experts have been working to improve the efficiency screening practices in several states,” the study reported. The RIM test should not be used, Synapse concluded, “because it suffers from several fundamental flaws.” And, it added, regulators in New York and other states have found the TRC test “is too narrowly defined and does not account for a sufficient range of benefits.”

    Synapse recommended using a Societal Cost test as the primary basis for evaluation, with a Utility Cost test to supplement it. Both are tests that found no significant place in the Florida debate.

    “The contested case approach has its merits, but when non-utility parties lose confidence in the fairness of the process, regulators can provide valuable leadership,” Rabago said. “Honest, open discussion in transparent workshop proceedings might help in Florida now.”

    QUICK NEWS, March 25: CALIFORNIA IS 1ST STATE TO GET 5% POWER FROM BIG SOLAR; FEDS GREENLIGHT VIRGINIA OCEAN WIND; FLA SOLAR INITIATIVE ADVANCES

    CALIFORNIA IS 1ST STATE TO GET 5% POWER FROM BIG SOLAR California first state to generate more than 5% of electricity from utility-scale solar

    Allen McFarland, March 24, 2015 Energy Information Administration

    California is the first state to get over 5% of its annual utility-scale electricity generation from utility-scale solar power, according to EIA's Electric Power Monthly. Its 1 MW or bigger solar plants generated a record 9.9 million MWh of electricity in 2014, up 6.1 million MWh over 2013. Thanks to nearly 1,900 MW of new utility-scale solar capacity, California's 2014 utility-scale solar output was three times more second place Arizona and more than all other states combined. The state's total installed utility-scale solar capacity was 5,400 MW at the end of 2014. California solar rebates and net-metering policies have grown over 2,300 MW of additional rooftop and distributed solar by the end of 2014, according to the California Public Utilities Commission. Because California's solar production largely coincides with high demand periods, it was able to replace 83% of the 46% drop in hydroelectric generation lost to the drought. click here for more

    FEDS GREENLIGHT VIRGINIA OCEAN WIND Virginia gets country's first wind energy research lease in federal waters

    Tamara Dietrich, March 25, 2015 Daily Press

    “Virginia is the first state in the country to secure a wind energy research lease to build and operate turbines in federal waters, Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced…The agreement with the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will enable Dominion Virginia Power to move forward with its plans to erect a pair of 6-megawatt test turbines on the Outer Continental Shelf, about 24 nautical miles east of the Virginia Beach shoreline…The turbines are intended as a demonstration project that, if successful, could mean Dominion will develop an adjacent 113,000-acre Wind Energy Area to generate enough electricity to power 700,000 homes…Environmentalists have long approved of McAuliffe's support for wind energy and, following the announcement, said they were ‘thrilled’ with the progress…The two test turbines could be in place by 2017, generating enough electricity to power about 3,000 homes. Dominion says if it determines it's cost-effective to do so, it will then develop the Wind Energy Area…” click here for more

    FLA SOLAR INITIATIVE ADVANCES Solar Ballot Initiative Is a Step Closer to Supreme Court Review; Demonstrates Strong Statewide Support Garnering Necessary Signatures in Just Two Months

    March 24, 2015 (Floridians for Solar Choice)

    “Just over two months after launching a constitutional amendment ballot initiative to place solar choice on the 2016 ballot…72,000 petition signatures have been verified by Florida’s Division of Elections. This number will continue to increase and the verification clears the way for a legal review of Floridians for Solar Choice’s petition language by the Florida Supreme Court…Once the ballot’s wording gains Supreme Court approval, the campaign will need to collect and have the Division of Elections verify an additional [683,149] signatures…by February 1, 2016 in order to place the proposed constitutional amendment on the November 2016 ballot…The ballot proposal - designed to expand solar choice by removing barriers that limit solar ownership models - is gaining wide support through a diverse coalition of more than two dozen businesses, conservative groups, faith communities, clean energy and environmental organizations. Florida remains one of only five states where current law expressly denies citizens and businesses the freedom to buy solar power electricity directly from someone other than a monopoly electric utility or government-owned electric utility… Registered voters in Florida are urged to sign the petition here.” click here for more

    Tuesday, March 24, 2015

    GUEST REPORTING: ELON MUSK – PROFILE OF A GREEN LEADER

    Guest reporter Emma Bailey profiles a giant in the New Energy world.

    Elon Musk: The “Green” Movement’s Leading Innovator

    Elon Musk is no ordinary car company executive. The CEO of Tesla Motors is spreading his innovative spirit into a number of projects, all of which share a common goal: to advance renewable energy technologies in an effort to create a more sustainable lifestyle in the coming years.

    Tesla, the electric car company based in California, is Musk’s most well-known venture and also the most developed. While other automobile companies in America and abroad continue to favor gas-powered cars or hybrid models, Tesla is completely devoted to Musk’s vision for a zero-emission vehicle.

    Tesla’s shining star, the Model S, which has been on sale in the United States since 2012, achieves that vision at a high price tag. It is powered by innovative battery technology and can be recharged through a home outlet or at special Tesla charging stations across America. In the spirit of meeting the growing demand for electric vehicles, Tesla has introduced a new vehicle, the Gen 3, which is scheduled to be released in 2016 and is expected to be more affordable than the Model S.


    With Tesla, Musk has spearheaded the electric car revolution in the United States. If his plan succeeds and Tesla is able to produce more models at lower prices, then it will become more feasible for American consumers to embrace electric cars and the sustainability benefits that they provide. In addition, Tesla’s recent success has pushed other auto brands to make their own moves into the electric market. Nissan and Ford both have fully electric cars in their fleets, which is a positive sign for the green movement.

    But Musk’s advancement in environmental technology does not end with sporty electric sedans. In a recent Tesla earnings call, the CEO revealed that the company is working on an innovative battery pack that could one day power entire homes. Few details are known at this time, but production is expected to begin soon. If Tesla is able to manufacture household battery storage units, then it could provide a compelling greener solution for homeowners who want an alternative to their traditional energy provider’s direct energy rates.

    In recent years, Musk’s green goals have expanded beyond this planet. He is the founder and CEO of SpaceX, a space transport company with the goal of reducing the cost of space travel. One of SpaceX’s current major projects is the launch of a new observatory that will capture information about weather outside of Earth’s atmosphere. Musk hopes that the data the observatory obtains will shed critical information about climate change trends, allowing governments and organizations to better plan their sustainability initiatives.

    Musk is also one of the chief people behind the SolarCity program. It has forged partnerships with governments and companies to improve and distribute solar-powered infrastructure across the United States. Musk’s heavy involvement in SolarCity shows how devoted he is to creating clean, sustainable, and renewable energy sources.

    The Hyperloop project may be the boldest one in Musk’s current portfolio. Currently, the Hyperloop is little more than a concept, but it has the potential to revolutionize the mass transport industry and contribute to a sustainable future. Musk wants to build an alternative to trains that will transport pressurized capsules at high speeds through underground tunnels. Musk has plans to begin developing a demo version of the Hyperloop, with hopes of creating a full version that will connect Los Angeles and San Francisco.

    There is no guarantee that any of Elon Musk’s new projects will ever reach the level of success that Tesla Motors is enjoying, but one thing is abundantly clear: when it comes to green, sustainable technologies, Musk has no shortage of innovative ideas.


    QUICK NEWS, March 24: SOLAR BRINGS JOBS; WIND POWERING MONTANA; GLOBAL PRE-PAID METERING TO TRIPLE

    SOLAR BRINGS JOBS With increased demand for solar power, green job opportunities return

    Fabian Graber, March 23, 2015 (Richmond Confidential)

    “…[The] first solar electric system in the [historic Atchison Village in Richmond, CA, is being installed. It] will produce clean energy and reduce energy bills for the house owners…by $9,300 over the system’s lifetime, and prevent 30 tons of greenhouse gas emissions…But homeowners are not the only ones who benefit from solar installations on their roofs. The growing demand for solar energy in California is creating new jobs at a fast rate…According to [The Solar Foundation’s] California Solar Job Census of 2014, the state]…added an estimated 54 percent more capacity compared to 2013. Statewide employment in the solar industry grew by 15.8 percent in 2014, which represents almost 7,500 new jobs…[J] ob growth rate in the business is more than ten times higher than the overall job growth rate in California of 1.5 percent…For this year, the Solar Foundation expects an even higher number, some 9,400 solar workers—a term that includes a wide range of sectors, from installation, manufacturing, project development to sales and distribution—to be added to the job market…” click here for more

    WIND POWERING MONTANA Wind is driving energy development in Montana

    Jeff L. Fox, March 23, 2015 (Missoulian)

    “Wind energy contributed significantly more new electricity to power the nation than any other resource last year, according to recently released data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)…[T]he trend will continue in 2015…[with] 9.8 gigawatts of wind energy to be developed nationwide…[In Montana, wind] has been leading new electric energy development for the past 10 years…[Since] passage of the 15% renewables by 2015 mandate in 2005, 60%] of the new energy capacity constructed in Montana for in-state use and for export has been wind energy. The 665 megawatts of wind energy development has meant 1.4 billion in economic investment, more than $2 million in annual lease payment to landowners, hundreds of construction and permanent jobs, and tens of millions in property taxes to state and local governments…[and it has not negatively impacted] in-state consumer electric rates, as [an exhaustive 2014 study of the state’s RPS by the] bipartisan interim legislative committee found…[Montana] wind development is not slowing…” click here for more

    GLOBAL PRE-PAID METERING TO TRIPLE Prepaid Metering; Meters, Software, and Services: Opportunities, Challenges, and Global Market Analysis and Forecasts

    1Q 2015 (Navigant Research)

    “The market for prepaid electric metering is steadily gaining ground due to smart metering technology, as well as growing acceptance of the idea of prepaying for services. Smart meters and the accompanying advanced infrastructure can enable utilities to offer prepay as an option. However, some regulators have not allowed this payment method because they see risks to vulnerable customers, such as the elderly or those on low incomes. Other customers prefer prepaying for electricity since it helps them better manage their budgets and, in some cases, reduce their energy consumption…In a few markets, like Great Britain, South Africa, and some countries in Asia Pacific, the existing prepaid meters and payment systems have been accepted and adoption is expected to grow…According to Navigant Research, the global installed base of prepaid metering customers is expected to grow from 31.7 million in 2014 to 85.2 million in 2024…” click here for more

    Monday, March 23, 2015

    ORIGINAL REPORTING, MARCH 25: HOW POWER COMPANIES CAN GET TO UTILITY 2.0 AND BEYOND

    How power companies can get to Utility 2.0 and beyond; A new report provides a roadmap for utilities' changing business models

    Herman K. Trabish, December 11, 2014 (Utility Dive)

    From integrating more distributed generation to pushing electric vehicle chargers and home energy advising, 2014 has seen a number of utilities making big changes to their business models.

    Now a new report from a storied environmental and economic development think tank warns that in coming years, if power companies do not do more to change their business models, they could go the way of the land line phone provider.

    The core principles that are key to the utility of the future “do not align with current financial incentives for most investor-owned utilities (or the typical business practices of most utilities; private, public, or cooperative),” according to "Beyond Utility 2.0 to Energy Democracy," a report by John Farrell of theInstitute for Local Self-Reliance.

    But, the report goes on, “the principles are indifferent to the economic opportunity. That is, they can be implemented with utility control of the grid and its benefits or with a massively decentralized and democratized electricity economy.” In other words, utilities don’t have to go away if they understand what is coming and respond to it.

    The grid and Utility 2.0

    “The grid is a valuable network,” Farrell said. A veteran of regulatory proceedings in Minnesota, Farrell was the driving force behind a stakeholder process that included Xcel Energy and produced that state’s Value of Solar methodology. One of solar’s key values is to grid operations, the methodology shows.

    The dilemma utilities find themselves in is not entirely of their own making, the paper reports. Much of the cause is the 130-year-old system. Policymakers send “mixed incentives” that ask utilities to meet increasing mandates for renewable energy and energy efficiency through a business model that only rewards increased electricity sales and rate based transmission and generation infrastructure. Regulators who judge utility planning often do so with inadequate information about alternatives. Yet utility executives who fail to navigate through all this to a profit are condemned and dismissed.

    “Utility 2.0 is designed to solve many of these problems, properly aligning financial incentives with the outcomes most participants want from the electricity system,” the paper promises.

    The 4 core Utility 2.0 principles of the paper are:

    Reduced energy consumption through energy efficiencies

    Reduced carbon emissions through a transition from fossil fuels to renewables

    Grid efficiency via a two-way, networked smart grid that uses demand response, local generation, and local resources

    Grid flexibility to integrate large quantities of distributed and utility-scale renewables This can mean a lot of different things, Farrell said. It depends on a utility’s ability to innovate and adapt. “For some utilities, it is a funeral dirge. The way they have operated for 100 years won’t make sense anymore. It they can’t adapt,” Farrell said, “this will be a land line-cell phone problem for them.”

    The opportunity for utilities

    “$364 billion in annual U.S. electricity sales is up for grabs, Farrell added. “It is available to utilities who make the transition and provide the services people will need.” Farrell mentioned things like smart phone apps to manage energy services and other ways to process and manage energy system information. He also mentioned distribution system advances that make it more of a 2-way, networked, transactional system. ”There are so many ways utilities could profit from this,” he said.

    One vertically integrated utility might sell off its transmission system and just sell energy services. Another might sell off its power generation assets and operate a distribution system “and be the ultimate smart grid.”

    The goal of the paper is to describe this moment of transformation, Farrell said, not to dictate to utility execs how to take advantage of it.

    The are 2 common themes in the structural changes needed:

    Planning for generation or a transmission/distribution system that recognizes the potentials of local and regional level resources like rooftop solar, energy storage, electric vehicles, and non-capital measures like controllable, smart appliances.

    Independent, neutral operation of the distribution system so that informed but unbiased planning can be done.

    Early expressions

    The paper provides analysis of early expressions of the Utility 2.0 idea in New York, Hawaii, Maine, and Vermont.

    The New York REV process is "an excellent articulation of what the grid should look like to accomplish those principles," Farrell said. Where the process falls short is "the recognition of the economic opportunity."

    Vermont is closest to having in place principles of integrated planning and rules for distributed generation and energy efficiency. "What they haven’t done strikingly is adopt any of the structural change in the New York REV process," he explained.

    “They have made a lot of big steps but they don’t have a distribution marketplace where anybody could participate,” Farrell said, “where it is all transactional and transparent, like an eBay for electricity. You shop for the services you need and bid and everybody sees the numbers.”

    The shift to Energy Democracy

    Utilities have to think about making the grid useful for 21st century technology because there are two more principles that make the next utility business model into a model of "Energy Democracy," Farrell said. Because local communities have carried the burden of the old model, “we want a semblance of local control and equitable access. ” The report explains that "Energy Democracy" shares the four tenets of the Utility 2.0 model — reduced energy consumption, reduced carbon pollution, grid efficiency and grid flexibility — but adds those two values to the mix:

    Local control: Individual communities should have the authority to make their own decisions about energy production and consumption, "with weight given to economic benefits not just energy costs."

    Equitable access: Ownership and authority over the grid should be open to all, regardless of material wealth. "Since the resources of a 21st century electricity system (wind and sun) belong to everyone, all residents of a community should share in the wealth generated from them," the report concludes.

    What is coming, Farrell said, is “an interconnected and distributed technology opportunity between smart phones and electric cars and energy storage and super cheap solar 20 years from now that is inevitable,” he said. Whether utilities are dragged kicking and screaming or seize the moment, communities deserve the same opportunity.

    This transition is being driven not just by electricity technologies but also computing technologies, Farrell said. “Revolutions come from the convergence of technologies in a sector and communications technologies. That is what happening here. And there is $364 billion a year at stake.”

    QUICK NEWS, March 23: KAFKA IN FLORIDA; SUNRUN READIES IPO; THE OBAMA TEAM BACKS WIND

    KAFKA IN FLORIDA Florida's State Employees are Preparing for Climate Change, Even as Their Governor Bans the Phrase

    Tristram Kortem, March 22, 2015 (New Republic)

    “…[Government employees are] in it for the long haul…So I wasn't expecting any heroes to rock the boat from inside the vast bureaucracy that is Florida's government when I began to investigate the silent treatment given the terms ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ within state agencies…[But the] employees I've found during my reporting are nonetheless the ones doing the long thinking, working to address the effects of climate change, even as they have to hunker to avoid political interference. They know they'll be here when Rick Scott is gone. So will the problems they're working on…The extent of what all of this means, we don't yet know. While some inside the [Department of Emvironmental Protection (DEP)] have expressed relief that the word is out (pun intended) and sure as hell ain't going back in, they also expressed fear that their projects are now in peril…and that funding for climate change work will be cut…This is the ridiculous balance state employees are being asked to perform…It's Kafka as interpreted by Orwell and performed by Tallahassee's finest…” click here for more

    SUNRUN READIES IPO Solar-Energy Company Sunrun Preparing for Potential IPO; Sources say timing and final price not yet finalized

    Telis Demos and Yuliya Chernova, March 18, 2015 (Wall Street Journal)

    “Solar-energy company Sunrun Inc. is powering up for a potential initial public offering later this year…[Sunrun] is set to work with banks including Credit Suisse Group AG and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. on an IPO, though the deal’s timing and final price aren’t yet finalized…Sunrun, founded in 2007, has already privately raised about $300 million in equity [for residential solar] from investors such as Accel Partners, Foundation Capital, Madrone Capital Partners and Sequoia Capital, according to the company. It was valued at $1.3 billion as of March 2014…In January, Sunrun said it raised $195 million in credit facilities from Investec PLC. Credit Suisse also had previously backed the company with $200 million in project financing in 2012…A handful of solar power companies have made a comeback in the public-offering market in recent years after a period of dormancy. Residential solar installers Vivint Solar Inc.,backed by Blackstone Group LP, and SolarCity Corp., backed by inventor Elon Musk, have also gone public…Like Sunrun, these firms own the solar installations and charge homeowners to use the electricity generated. SolarCity shares have soared more than sixfold since its 2012 IPO, though Vivint shares are down 30% from its 2014 IPO. Vivint has a market capitalization $1.3 billion, while SolarCity is valued at $4.8 billion…The firms have tapped into a growing residential solar-power market. The megawatts of residential solar installed grew 51% in 2014 and is expected to grow 50% this year, research firm GTM Research said..” click here for more

    THE OBAMA TEAM BACKS WIND The Promise of Wind Energy

    Dan Utech, March 12, 2015 (White House Blog)

    “No challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change. In June 2013, President Obama put forward a comprehensive Climate Action Plan…[P]erhaps nowhere has progress been as dramatic as in renewable energy…[W]e harness three times as much electricity from the wind and 10 times as much from the sun as we did since President Obama took office. Wind energy is emerging as a powerhouse…A third of all new generating capacity has come from wind over the past five years, and the United States ranks first in the world in wind power generation…[The DOE’s] Wind Vision: A New Era for Wind Power in the United States…[shows the] nation can deploy wind power to economically provide 35% of our nation’s electricity and supply renewable power in all 50 states by 2050…[That could avoid] more than 12.3 billion tons of carbon pollution cumulatively by 2050, equivalent to avoiding one-third of global annual carbon emissions…[and] support more than 600,000 jobs by 2050, including engineers, construction workers, truck drivers, factory workers, utility operators, maintenance technicians, electricians, and other supporting services…[and] could save approximately 260 billion gallons of water…” click here for more

    Saturday, March 21, 2015

    Making Toast – A Choice

    The remarkable Karl Rabago makes the choices clear. From Karl Rabago via YouTube

    Greenpeace Makes A Point To Shell Oil

    A prank that makes a point. From greenmanbucket via YouTube

    The Speed Of New Energy

    Fred Olsen, who made a fortune in shipping and oil, speaks out about climate change and New Energy. Wait three and a half minutes for the penetrating last words. From greenmanbucket via YuTube