NewEnergyNews

NewEnergyNews

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

The challenge: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • THE STUDY: CLIMATE CHANGE IN AFRICA
  • QUICK NEWS, August 19: LOW-PRICED WIND ENERGY ATTRACTS UTILITIES; TEXAS SUBURBS BLOCK SOLAR; WHAT UTILITY CUSTOMERS WANT
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: THE THREATS TO OLD ENERGIES AROUND THE WORLD
  • QUICK NEWS, August 18: GERMANY UPS GRID STABILITY WITH NEW ENERGY ; U.S. SOLAR MANUFACTURING TO RISE; TEXAS LEADS U.S. WIND BOOM
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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • Weekend Video: Buy Or Lease Rooftop Solar?
  • Weekend Video: The Sound Of The Wind
  • Weekend Video: Why Energy Efficiency?
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-CLIMATE CHANGE IN CHINA
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-RUSSIA-CAPTURED CRIMEA DIALS DOWN NEW ENERGY
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-A NEW LOOK AT THE WORLD’S OCEAN ENERGIES
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-WORLD BANK PLEDGES $5BIL FOR AFRICA NEW ENERGY
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, August 14:

  • TTTA Thursday-KELLOGG CALLS FOR LOW CARBON CORN FLAKES
  • TTTA Thursday-SIERRA CLUB HAILS WIND CHAMPIONS IN CONGRESS
  • TTTA Thursday-THE BOOM IN SOLAR CARPORTS
  • TTTA Thursday-EV BATTERIES GET SECOND LIFE
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • THE STUDY: SAVING WATER CAN CUT GREENHOUSE GASES
  • QUICK NEWS, August 13: ECONOMIST NUMBERS ON NEW ENERGY COST WAY OFF; POLITICS AND WIND ENERGY; GEOTHERMAL UPDATE
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, is a biweekly contributor to NewEnergyNews

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT)

    November 26, 2013 (Huffington Post via NewEnergyNews)

    Everywhere we turn, environmental news is filled with horrid developments and glimpses of irreversible tipping points.

    Just a handful of examples are breathtaking: Scientists have dared to pinpoint the years at which locations around the world may reach runaway heat, and in the northern hemisphere it's well in sight for our children: 2047. Survivors of Superstorm Sandy are packing up as costs of repair and insurance go out of reach, one threat that climate science has long predicted. Or we could simply talk about the plight of bees and the potential impact on food supplies. Surprising no one who explores the Pacific Ocean, sailor Ivan MacFadyen described long a journey dubbed The Ocean is Broken, in which he saw vast expanses of trash and almost no wildlife save for a whale struggling a with giant tumor on its head, evoking the tons of radioactive water coming daily from Fukushima's lamed nuclear power center. Rampaging fishing methods and ocean acidification are now reported as causing the overpopulation of jellyfish that have jammed the intakes of nuclear plants around the world. Yet the shutting down of nuclear plants is a trifling setback compared with the doom that can result in coming days at Fukushima in the delicate job to extract bent and spent fuel rods from a ruined storage tank, a project dubbed "radioactive pick up sticks."

    With all these horrors to ponder you wouldn't expect to hear that you should also worry about the United States running out of coal. But you would be wrong, says Leslie Glustrom, founder and research director for Clean Energy Action. Her contention is that we've passed the peak in our nation's legendary supply of coal that powers over one-third of our grid capacity. This grim news is faithfully spelled out in three reports, with the complete story told in Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves (pdf). (Disclosure: I serve on CEA's board and have known the author for years.)

    Glustrom's research presents a sea change in how we should understand our energy challenges, or experience grim consequences. It's not only about toxic and heat-trapping emissions anymore; it's also about having enough energy generation to run big cities and regions that now rely on coal. Glustrom worries openly about how commerce will go on in many regions in 2025 if they don't plan their energy futures right.

    2013-11-05-FigureES4_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    Scrutinizing data for prices on delivered coal nationwide, Glustrom's new report establishes that coal's price has risen nearly 8 percent annually for eight years, roughly doubling, due mostly to thinner, deeper coal seams plus costlier diesel transport expenses. Higher coal prices in a time of "cheap" natural gas and affordable renewables means coal companies are lamed by low or no profits, as they hold debt levels that dwarf their market value and carry very high interest rates.

    2013-11-05-Table_ES2_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    2013-11-05-Figure_ES2_FULL.jpg

    One leading coal company, Patriot, filed for bankruptcy last year; many others are also struggling under bankruptcy watch and not eager to upgrade equipment for the tougher mining ahead. Add to this the bizarre event this fall of a coal lease failing to sell in Wyoming's Powder River Basin, the "Fort Knox" of the nation's coal supply, with some pundits agreeing this portends a tightening of the nation's coal supply, not to mention the array of researchers cited in the report. Indeed, at the mid point of 2013, only 488 millions tons of coal were produced in the U.S.; unless a major catch up happens by year-end, 2013 may be as low in production as 1993.

    Coal may exist in large quantities geologically, but economically, it's getting out of reach, as confirmed by US Geological Survey in studies indicating that less than 20 percent of US coal formations are economically recoverable, as explored in the CEA report. To Glustrom, that number plus others translate to 10 to 20 years more of burning coal in the US. It takes capital, accessible coal with good heat content and favorable market conditions to assure that mining companies will stay in business. She has observed a classic disconnect between camps of professionals in which geologists tend to assume money is "infinite" and financial analysts tend to assume that available coal is "infinite." Both biases are faulty and together they court disaster, and "it is only by combining thoughtful estimates of available coal and available money that our country can come to a realistic estimate of the amount of US coal that can be mined at a profit." This brings us back to her main and rather simple point: "If the companies cannot make a profit by mining coal they won't be mining for long."

    No one is more emphatic than Glustrom herself that she cannot predict the future, but she presents trend lines that are robust and confirmed assertively by the editorial board at West Virginia Gazette:

    Although Clean Energy Action is a "green" nonprofit opposed to fossil fuels, this study contains many hard economic facts. As we've said before, West Virginia's leaders should lower their protests about pollution controls, and instead launch intelligent planning for the profound shift that is occurring in the Mountain State's economy.

    The report "Warning, Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" and its companion reports belong in the hands of energy and climate policy makers, investors, bankers, and rate payer watchdog groups, so that states can plan for, rather than react to, a future with sea change risk factors.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    It bears mentioning that even China is enacting a "peak coal" mentality, with Shanghai declaring that it will completely ban coal burning in 2017 with intent to close down hundreds of coal burning boilers and industrial furnaces, or shifting them to clean energy by 2015. And Citi Research, in "The Unimaginable: Peak Coal in China," took a look at all forms of energy production in China and figured that demand for coal will flatten or peak by 2020 and those "coal exporting countries that have been counting on strong future coal demand could be most at risk." Include US coal producers in that group of exporters.

    Our world is undergoing many sorts of change and upheaval. We in the industrialized world have spent about a century dismissing ocean trash, overfishing, pesticides, nuclear hazard, and oil and coal burning with a shrug of, "Hey it's fine, nature can manage it." Now we're surrounded by impacts of industrial-grade consumption, including depletion of critical resources and tipping points of many kinds. It is not enough to think of only ourselves and plan for strictly our own survival or convenience. The threat to animals everywhere, indeed to whole systems of the living, is the grief-filled backdrop of our times. It's "all hands on deck" at this point of human voyaging, and in our nation's capital, we certainly don't have that. Towns, states and regions need to plan fiercely and follow through. And a fine example is Boulder Colorado's recent victory to keep on track for clean energy by separating from its electric utility that makes 59 percent of its power from coal.

    Clean Energy Action is disseminating "Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" for free to all manner of relevant professionals who should be concerned about long range trends which now include the supply risks of coal, and is supporting that outreach through a fundraising campaign.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    Author's note: Want to support my work? Please "fan" me at Huffpost Denver, here (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anne-butterfield). Thanks.

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    Anne's previous NewEnergyNews columns:

  • 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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  • Wednesday, August 20, 2014

    TODAY’S STUDY: IMPORTS, EXPORTS AND NEW ENERGY

    South-South trade in renewable energy; A trade flow analysis of selected environmental goods

    June 2014 (United Nations Environment Programme)

    Executive Summary

    This study analyses trends and opportunities for trade among developing countries (i.e. South-South trade) in selected environmental goods, in order to assess the contribution such trade can make to a green economy transition. The term ‘developing countries’ includes all countries and territories listed as developing economies in the UNCTAD Handbook of Statistics (UNCTAD, 2012).

    The study focuses on South-South trade flows in several RE products and their components, including solar photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules, wind turbines, hydroelectric turbines, biomass feedstock, solar water heaters and solar lighting equipment, as well as other select environmental goods. The latter include water filtering and purification equipment and environmentally preferable products, such as organic agricultural goods.

    South-South trade in environmental goods and services (EGS) is critical to the transition to a green economy for a number of reasons. First, South-South trade allows developing countries to export EGS to the dynamic markets of other developing economies, providing new opportunities for participation in global value chains. Second, South-South trade can allow access to more appropriate and affordable goods for developing countries, responding to similar technology needs and prevailing local conditions (UNDP, 2013). Third, properly managed South-South trade in EGS can stimulate employment growth in industries where developing countries have a comparative advantage, such as organic agriculture (UNEP, 2010b). Finally, South-South trade is important as regional economic cooperation expands globally, facilitated by regional trade and investment agreements that allow developing countries to increase regional production and trade of EGS.

    Renewable energy (RE) technologies are particularly important for the contribution that South-South trade in EGS can make to the green economy transition. RE technologies are critical for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, enhancing rural and off-grid access to energy, improving energy security and disseminating sustainable technologies. The job generation potential of RE is particularly high compared with fossil fuel-based energy sources, especially in the manufacturing and services activities related to solar PV and wind-powered energy.

    Before describing the methodology adopted in this South-South trade flow analysis in EGS, it is important to note three trends that clearly underlie this study. First, global prices for EGS and, in particular, for RE technologies have been falling. As the cost of producing RE increasingly approaches the cost of fossil fuel energy production, investment in RE is likely to increase. Second, government policy, including fiscal incentives, feed-in tariffs and minimum use requirements, has had a major impact on EGS market and trade trends in recent years. In the RE sector, fluctuations in government policy have both stimulated and, more recently, also repressed demand for new installations. Third, trade policies remain critical to EGS deployment worldwide. The reduction or elimination of trade restrictions among developing countries facilitates South-South access to lower cost EGS, but also introduces trade competition. In order for trade liberalisation to contribute to the transition to a green economy, trade liberalisation efforts would require flanking policies such as taxation or regulation to ensure the positive economic, social and environmental benefits of trade…

    Trends in global and South-South trade in environmental and renewable energy goods

    The trends analysis focuses on the period 2004-2012. Growth rates shown in Chapters 2 and 3 mostly cover the period 2004-2011. Inclusion of earlier data might distort the trends analysis, as there was insignificant trade in RE products in the early 2000s. More recent trade data is affected by sharp declines in prices, uncertainties in incentive schemes and antidumping and CVD actions. At the time of writing, 2013 trade data were available for only a limited number of countries. The analysis presented in Chapter 4 is based on relevant information available at the time of drafting. The paper highlights several key aspects of general South-South trade, observed in the period 2004-2011 (unless otherwise indicated):

    • South-South trade has grown faster than global trade. With the growing economic importance of developing countries, overall South-South trade has grown faster (15.9 per cent per year on average)1 than global trade (excluding intra-EU trade) in manufactured products (9.7 per cent). Additionally, South-South trade in the RE goods analysed in this paper grew slightly faster (29.4 per cent) than global trade (excluding intra-EU trade) in the same sectors (26.7 per cent). These include solar PV cells and modules, wind-powered generating sets, hydraulic turbines and products associated with RE generation from biomass.

    It must be emphasized, however, that trends shown for South-South trade in solar PV cells and modules are significantly affected by the inclusion of unrelated products in the same HS subheading (HS 854140). Whereas most of the increase in developing countries’ exports in the period 2004-2011 was triggered by import demand in developed country markets (rather than South-South trade), PV-specific trade data for 2013 show a surge in Chinese exports of solar PV cells and modules to other developing countries.

    • Global trade in RE goods outpaced trade in manufactures. Globally, manufactures trade grew only 9.7 per cent while trade in selected RE goods, measured at the level of HS subheadings, grew by 26.7 per cent. South-South trade in manufactures grew by only 15.9 per cent from 2004-2011, while South-South trade in most RE categories, as measured in the study, seems to have grown faster than global trade in the same categories. Similar patterns exist for narrower product categories, including selected environmental protection products and water filtration, in which South-South trade grew at 20.9 per cent and 23.1 per cent, respectively. It is impossible to assess the growth of global South-South trade in solar cells and modules vis-à-vis the growth of global trade in these products during the period 2004-2011.

    • Developing countries have become net exporters of RE goods identified in this paper. In 2007, developing countries went from net importers to net exporters of these RE goods (see Figure 1). This trend appears to have been driven entirely by trade in solar PV and other products in HS 854140. In the case of wind-powered generating sets, hydraulic turbines and products used in biomass-based energy generation, the value of their imports appeared to be larger than the value of their exports based on trade in the HS subheadings identified in this paper. Particularly relevant during the period 2004-2011 was the rapid increase of developed- country solar PV imports from developing countries (in particular in Asia), driven largely by lower manufacturing costs and developed country installation incentives. In recent years, however, developing country exports to developed countries (with the notable exception of Japan) fell significantly due to falling prices, scaled-back incentives for RE installation in the developed world (in particular Europe) and the initiation of antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) in the United States and the European Union.

    • Asian developing countries are the largest players in South-South trade. Asian countries make up the majority of South-South trade (see Figure 2). Developing countries in East and South-East Asia accounted for a very large share of South-South trade in selected products associated with the solar PV, biomass and small hydro sectors. Asian developing countries are also the principal destination markets of South-South trade (in the case of wind turbines, however, Latin American countries accounted for the largest portion). A similar picture, although less pronounced, is shown for water filtering and purifying machinery.

    • South-South trade makes up a larger portion of some categories of RE global trade than others. While South-South trade in wind-powered generating sets makes up only around six per cent of global trade in that category in the period 2009-2012, South-South trade in the HS subheadings selected as proxies for trade in products associated with biomass-based energy generation and hydropower make up 45 per cent of such global trade (see Figure 3). Overall South-South trade (measured at the level of HS subheadings) in RE products made up more than a quarter of all global trade in RE in 2012 (around one fifth in the period 2009-2012).

    • A number of positive developments provide favourable conditions for enhanced South-South trade in RE products. These include falling prices of RE technologies and equipment, faster growth in RE investment in developing countries (compared with developed countries) and the growing importance of developing country markets as drivers of trade in RE products (see Chapter 4). For example, in the last four years (2010-2013), developing countries added more new wind energy installations than developed countries. Whereas China accounted for most of these additions, a relatively large number of developing countries have small but dynamic wind markets. Similarly, in 2012, new solar PV capacities added in developing countries were more than 60 per cent higher than in 2011, whereas in the European Union they were almost a quarter lower. Preliminary data indicate that developing countries collectively accounted for well above one third of new solar PV capacity additions in 2013, with particularly strong growth in China. Finally, in the wake of recent price declines, strong growth (from a low base) is also expected in RE installations in other developing regions, in particular in Latin America and Africa.

    • Solar PV and other products in HS 854140 have dominated South-South trade in RE. These products make up the majority of South-South trade in RE in value terms. Most of this trade has been driven by intra-regional trade in East and South-East Asia, both by growing demand for solar PV for energy generation and by demand for solar PV components along a value chain.

    Solar energy products

    The study reveals several key points on global trade in solar PV products:

    • The global solar PV market has grown rapidly. In the period 2004-2011, global annual solar PV capacity additions increased at an average annual growth rate of more than 80 per cent. The value of global trade increased rapidly and given that prices have been falling, the increase in volume terms was even faster. In 2012, however, the size of the market remained relatively stable, as a sharp contraction in capacity additions in the European Union was compensated by strong growth in the United States, China, Japan and India, and other developing countries. New solar PV capacity installed globally during 2013 was almost a quarter larger than in 2012, despite a further decline in Europe.

    • The solar PV industry has been affected by overcapacity, resulting in continuous reductions of prices of solar PV cells and modules and negative or very low profit margins. The global solar PV market stagnated in 2012. Whereas global solar PV manufacturing capacity has continued to increase in recent years, the margins have become increasingly tight. The solar PV industry is clearly in a consolidation phase, with large companies gaining market share. New entrants in developing countries have to compete with large-scale, integrated and low-cost producers in China. In India, for example, incentives under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission and various state-level incentive schemes helped to increase the size and stability of the solar PV market, but have not resulted in significant progress towards building up a low-cost, high-quality solar manufacturing sector.

    • With falling solar PV module prices, other parts of the value chain are increasingly important. The manufacture and supply of certain Balance of System (BoS) components (such as mounting structures) as well as downstream services (such as installation) are becoming increasingly important parts of the solar PV system value chain. Since new market entrants from developing countries may find it difficult to compete (in particular in the manufacturing of solar PV cells), developing country companies could focus on specific parts of the manufacturing chain such as module assembly and the manufacture of certain BoS components. Some developing countries may successfully engage in South-South operations in emerging regional markets.

    • In terms of trade measures, solar PV panels face little or no tariff barriers with most countries providing duty-free access to their markets. However, key components such as inverters face relatively high tariffs in certain developing countries. In recent years, AD and CVD actions have been initiated in the United States, the European Union as well as certain developing countries. Local-content requirements (LCRs) are also used in countries, such as India and South Africa, to stimulate and expand local manufacturing capacity.

    • South-South solar PV trade has so far been largely confined to East and South-East Asia. A large part of this has been driven by trade in intermediate products for incorporation into predominantly Chinese exports to developed country markets. It has also been driven by end-market demand for solar PVs in rapidly-growing markets of Asian developing countries. Intra-regional trade in RE supply goods in other developing regions is still in its infancy, due to low levels of demand.

    • China’s role in South-South solar PV trade has been significant, both as an exporter and importer. Chinese exports have provided low-cost RE goods (e.g., solar PV cells and modules) to emerging solar PV markets, both in Asia and other developing regions. Trade statistics for PV-specific national tariff lines show that in the period 2009-2012, developing countries absorbed only around 6 per cent of Chinese global solar PV exports, in value terms (as most exports went to developed-country markets). Developing countries may absorb a growing portion of Chinese exports of solar PV modules as they increasingly invest in solar PV power, driven by lower prices of solar PV modules, and as Chinese manufacturers look for new markets in developing countries. Indeed, the share of developing countries as a destination for Chinese global solar PV exports increased to 23 per cent during 2013. China also contributed to South-South trade as an importer. For example, some countries in East and South-East Asia have been exporting intermediate products to be incorporated into China’s exports to developed country markets. In addition, end-market demand in China itself is growing rapidly, providing market opportunities for other Asian developing countries. In fact, China was a net solar PV importer from other developing countries in the period 2009-2011, largely on account of imports from other developing countries in East and South-East Asia, but became a net exporter in 2012.

    • A number of developing countries are emerging as small but potentially significant importers of solar PV cells and modules. The most important markets are China, India and some other countries in East and South-East Asia. Other emerging markets include Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nigeria, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, and Viet Nam. Ghana, Kenya, Myanmar, Philippines and Tanzania emerged as dynamic markets during this period (see Figure 4). This trend was revealed by mirror data based on the exports of key traders reporting PV-specific national tariff lines in 2009-2012.

    Wind energy products

    The study reveals several key points on global trade in wind energy products:

    • Global annual wind capacity additions increased rapidly. Worldwide wind capacity additions increased by 22 per cent per year on average during the period 2006-2011. Developing countries accounted for much of these additions, growing at more than 40 per cent per year on average (from a small base) and raising their participation in global capacity additions from 26 per cent in 2006 to 55 per cent in 2011. Global annual capacity addition experienced lower growth in 2012 and less capacity was added in 2013 than in the previous year, largely due to uncertainties concerning the renewal of the Production Tax Credit in the United States. The value of world trade in wind-powered generating sets increased rapidly until 2008, but subsequently declined due to several factors, which include the decline in the price of wind-turbines, increased domestic manufacturing in key markets and the increasing role of foreign direct investment (FDI) vis-à-vis direct exports.

    • South-South trade in wind turbines was relatively small. South-South trade in wind-powered generating sets remained small (relative to global trade, even when intra-EU trade is excluded) through 2007, accounting for only around 2 per cent of developing country imports in 2004-2006, but has mostly been above 20 per cent since 2008. Cumulative South-South trade in wind-powered generating sets accounted for US$ 1.3 billion in the period 2008-2012 (US$ 270 million per year on average). Large wind companies based in developing countries (in particular India and China) have played a major role in increasing manufacturing and export capacity. The prominent position of Chinese companies has been gained largely through domestic sales, although these companies have increasingly become more active in export markets with strong export growth in recent years.

    • Domestic measures may be affecting South-South trade in wind power equipment. Most favoured nation (MFN) -applied tariffs for wind-powered generating sets are still relatively high. This is particularly true in a number of developing countries, especially those that have significant wind markets and have been interested in building up domestic manufacturing capacity, for instance Brazil (14 per cent), China and Korea (both 8 per cent). Smaller countries that import wind turbines usually apply low or zero tariffs. Local-content measures often tied to domestic incentives are also used in a number of developing countries such as Brazil, South Africa and Turkey to bolster domestic manufacturing capacity. China ended its LCRs in 2009.

    • Opportunities for South-South trade remain. Despite falling values of global and South-South trade in wind-powered generating sets from peak levels in recent years, opportunities for South-South trade continue to arise for a number of reasons. These include the emergence of new developing country markets, significant export capacity of developing country wind companies and the successful participation of developing countries in value chains by manufacturing components. Some risks nevertheless exist, such as a possible decline in demand as developing countries build up domestic manufacturing capacities and the dependence of wind markets on government policies.

    Policy implications for trade and the green economy transition

    South-South trade opportunities in RE and other environmental goods are clearly rising quickly, and are likely to accelerate in coming years. In order to benefit from this increasing trade, countries could consider taking the following concrete steps.

    Trade policy initiatives

    • Actively identify opportunities for South-South trade in RE products, installation, innovation and diffusion. RE products are increasingly being supplied to developing countries by other developing countries, due to increasing global cost competitiveness and shared needs. Cost-effective innovation can lead to the design of low-cost environmental goods that bolster South-South trade. Some examples include small off-grid solar PV systems, solar lighting, community wind turbines, small hydro and water filtering. Countries could seek to improve South-South trade cooperation for the installation, innovation and dissemination of RE technologies.

    • Design appropriate incentives for RE that do not distort South-South trade in environmental goods. Incentives, including government subsidies, may have implications for international trade, including South-South trade. Incentives aimed at encouraging the use of RE-based electricity, by creating demand for associated goods and services, could have a positive impact on trade as part of such demand will be met by imports. For example, incentives in key developed country markets have stimulated trade in renewable-energy products, such as solar PV cells and wind turbines. Governments could also provide incentives, including through subsidies, intended to boost domestic manufacturing capacities to help ensure that the use of renewable-energy-based electricity results in benefits to the domestic economy (in terms of employment and industrial development). Such incentives could have direct and indirect impacts on trade. Many incentives, such as the provision of infrastructure and financial assistance, could indirectly support trade, including South-South trade. Subsidies that are provided across sectors and which do not specifically benefit one sector or industry would not be considered incompatible with WTO subsidy rules. However, certain types of subsidies and other support measures to boost domestic manufacturing may have negative effects on trade, distort global markets, causing trade tensions and potentially undercutting the competitiveness of industries in other developing countries. In certain cases, trade-policymakers could consider time-limited exemptions from WTO subsidy rules to enable developing countries to build up a certain degree of domestic manufacturing capacity.

    • Bolster support for environmental goods that are particularly suited to South-South trade. For many developing countries, imports of water purification equipment, a sector characterized by growing South-South trade, could be a vital component of their transition towards a green economy. Organic agriculture is another environmental goods sector where developing countries have immediate potential for increasing production and export. Successful development of the organic sector requires sustained government and private sector support and the involvement of various stakeholders in policy and strategy formulation. Standards, mutual recognition and labelling initiatives, both globally and regionally, could facilitate South-South trade in environmental goods.

    • Implement a trade policy regime favourable to local RE potential, including relaxed barriers to trade in intermediate goods. The reduction or elimination of import duties and non-tariff barriers on RE goods, including components, could promote the domestic availability of affordable RE products. Inverted duty structures, where components face higher import tariffs than final products, could discourage the development of local manufacturing capacity. Where a certain level of tariff protection for finished products is considered desirable for some time to help boost local manufacturing capacities (where domestic markets are large enough to economically justify local production), tariffs on final products could be reduced gradually to provide an incentive to manufacturers to reduce costs and become internationally competitive. Trade agreements including those at the regional level could facilitate South-South trade, if designed accordingly.

    • Support revision of the Harmonised System codes for trade in environmental goods to assist policymakers in making better informed decisions. The fact that most environmental goods are classified under HS subheadings that include unrelated products complicates trade analysis and negotiations. Future HS revisions could pay special attention to creating specific subheadings for key RE goods, in particular solar PV equipment.

    Investment initiatives

    • Promote new RE installations in order to increase domestic generating capacity, on-grid and off-grid, leading to cheaper, more secure and more abundant electricity supplies. Declining global costs of RE equipment, in particular solar PV cells and modules, are making investments in RE more attractive. In many countries, ‘off-grid’ RE projects in solar, wind and hydro are already cost-competitive with conventional sources. Appropriate targets, incentives and flanking environmental and social policies are helpful tools to take advantage of current favourable conditions for RE generation.

    • Implement appropriate policies to harness green economy benefits from RE installations. Apart from improved electricity supply and greater energy security, RE investment brings a range of additional green economy benefits. These include reductions in fossil fuel production and imports, cleaner production, rural electrification and new employment opportunities in downstream services, such as RE installation, operation and maintenance. Policies are recommended that encourage both RE deployment and sustainable trade.

    • Take advantage of green economy-related financial assistance initiatives. Incentives will be important in enabling the deployment of environmental goods and services. This is particularly true in countries where governmental and financial support are insufficient. Such incentives include financing mechanisms such as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and the ‘Green Fund’ at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), among others. Export finance initiatives launched by regional development banks could also bolster South-South RE deployment.

    • Strategically consider investments for developing domestic manufacturing capacity suited to global RE value chains. Countries seeking to build up a certain degree of export manufacturing or downstream service capacities can focus on parts of the global value chain where local companies may be competitive, such as solar PV components, module assembly, and parts of the BoS segment. In many countries, the introduction of RE technologies will initially depend on imported equipment, but as markets become more significant, local manufacturing and export capacity could become competitive.

    • Improve national and regional grid capacity to support increased renewable electricity production and trade. Countries with excellent RE resources (e.g., solar radiation, wind and hydropower potential) could export renewably generated electricity by investing in improved grid capacity. Some regions, including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), have begun building institutional support through regional mechanisms such as the West African Power Pool (WAPP).

    • Invest in domestic downstream skills development for an adequate human talent pool. Many economic benefits from downstream services can accrue in the RE sector, especially in installation, maintenance and removal. Investing in a skilled RE labour force will not only provide more quality jobs, but prepare the wider economy for the RE transition. A skilled domestic RE labour force could be key in attracting further investment in the RE sector, including for the development of domestic manufacturing and export capacity…

    QUICK NEWS, August 20: COURTS DISMISS 98% OF WIND HEALTH COMPLAINTS; TURNING OLD CAR BATTERIES INTO NEW SOLAR PANELS; OCEAN ENERGY PIONEERS

    COURTS DISMISS 98% OF WIND HEALTH COMPLAINTS Anti-wind 'experts' failing legal test

    John Conroy, August 17, 2014 (The Australian)

    “…[Wind Health Impacts Dismissed in Court from the Energy and Policy Institute]found that of the 49 cases heard globally relating to wind farms and health, 48 were determined to have no reliable evidence showing wind farms cause health impacts…[and described] 16 individuals who have self-identified as experts in wind farms and health despite an ‘almost complete lack of credentials or experience that would justify an expert perspective in legal cases’…In total, 21 reviews of evidence have concluded that, with the usual minimum setbacks of 400-600m, wind turbines cannot make people sick…[A] number of anti-wind ‘experts’ [are] leveraging ‘no-longer-active or irrelevant’ medical credentials to lend weight to campaigns against wind energy, and [are] performing research without oversight…” click here for more

    TURNING OLD CAR BATTERIES INTO NEW SOLAR PANELS Old car batteries could make cheaper, more efficient solar panels

    Rachel Feltman, August 18, 2014 (Washington Post)

    “Lead-acid car batteries have the potential to cause a whole host of environmental issues, but… researchers have worked on solar cells that use a compound called perovskite. The cells have quickly achieved over 19 percent efficiency in converting sunlight to usable electricity, which is comparable to commonly used silicon-based cells…[But lead] is destructive to plants and animals, and it can build up gradually in both the body and the environment…[T]hese solar cells can be built efficiently using recycled lead. Instead of adding more lead to the environment, this process would actually prevent lead in defunct car batteries from entering landfills…[and the lead] could be recycled from one solar cell to another in much the same way that car batteries continue to use it from generation to generation…Because the solar cells only need thin sheets of perovskite (about half a micrometer thick), the lead from just one car battery could make enough solar panels to power 30 households…They’re also cheaper and easier to make than silicon-based cells, and could potentially become more efficient…” click here for more

    OCEAN ENERGY PIONEERS Five Companies Riding the Wave of Ocean Energy

    Amy Gleich, August 3, 2014 (OilPrice)

    "…[The ocean] could meet around a quarter of the United States’ -- and three-quarters of the United Kingdom’s -- energy needs, but is largely being ignored by investors…[but] other green energies, such as wind and solar, have received tremendous attention and investiture, [but] tidal and wave energy is, as of yet, untapped…[Harnessing the ocean’s power] is a much more difficult prospect…[W]hile the world has yet to see the establishment of a large-scale, wave-fueled commercial power station, there have been notable advancements…[Aquamarine Power, Pelamis, Oceanlinx, the U.S. Air Force, and Ocean Power Technologies are poised to try and become ocean-power pioneers that succeed…The wave power industry is still the ‘wild west’ of technological entrepreneurship. While this unbridled spirit comes with its own challenges, it’s this same dynamic and ‘anything goes’ culture that’s so essential for developing innovative solutions. But no invention can get off the ground without investment; without billions of dollars of capital, this sector of the renewable market can’t take off…” click here for more

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

    TODAY’S STUDY: CLIMATE CHANGE IN AFRICA

    Keeping Track Of Adaptation Actions In Africa; Targeted Fiscal Stimulus Actions Making a Difference

    July 2014 (United Nations Environment Programme)

    Context

    New information on climate change only emphasizes the need for urgent action, particularly in regard to adaptation actions that safeguard human well-being and earth systems. The impacts of climate change are raising major public and policy concerns, as they result in financial costs and clear risks to people and national development. Other challenges such as prevalent and widespread poverty, food, health and energy insecurities amplify the burden of responding to climate change. Furthermore, incipient threats posed by climate change, particularly in terms of potentially overturning decades of development efforts in the most vulnerable areas (e.g., sub-Saharan Africa) suggest that future development efforts should incorporate greater resilience to climate change impacts.

    Unfortunately, adaptation to climate change has no fixed time horizon as do emission reduction targets in the global negotiation process, or the eight Millennium Development Goals. This undermines the urgency to act now in adapting to challenges, especially in developing countries where capabilities to respond to the magnitude of the problem are limited. However, the direct role that adaptation to climate change has on the realization of certain MDGs (e.g. 1 and 7) underlines the urgency of action as the world approaches the 2015 timeline for their realization.

    How to achieve the desired speed of intervention, scope of intervention, scope of adaptation actions and resilience of these actions to future climate impacts, will depend on the choice and means of intervention, and the engagement of the actors and networks chosen. Adapting to the challenges posed by climate change and at the same time managing the alignment of national economic d e v e l o p m e n t activities along new paths of low carbon, green economy and renewable resources require that countries think about potential barriers to taking actions, and also about actions beyond their national boundaries when developing strategies to guide their responses. Tapping into the emerging opportunities linked with the transition to a greener economy and renewable resources will require using new partnership arrangements, as well as new adaptive mechanisms, to buffer short-term risks and other tradeoffs that could accompany the transformation process. Developing beneficial adaptation strategies that harness existing social and economic structures will require transcending physical boundaries throughout the planning process.

    Climate Risks in Africa

    A growing population faces increasing risks from climate change.

    Tracking temperature and land changes, disaster occurrences and costs, water availability, food production, income, population growth and ultimately health will be crucial.

    Encouraging innovative solutions will be vital.

    Population…Income…Agriculture…Food Prices…The Case of African Cereal…Land Use…Deforestation…

    Energy

    Africa has a great opportunity to capitalize on its available renewable energy potential. However, only about 5-8% of Africa’s enormous hydropower potential has been harnessed (OECD/IEA, 2010). Geothermal energy potential stands at 9,000MW, but in 2013 only approximately approximately 52MW had been developed. Currently 70-90% of Africa’s needs for fuel are met by wood/biomass. However, this often contributes to greater forest loss (Adeola, 2009).

    Renewable Potential

    Harnessing renewable energy sources such as geothermal and hydropower would dramatically increase industrial development and improve services such as education and medical care, thus leading to substantial growth in Africa.

    The maps below show the location and intensity of solar, wind, biomass and hydropower potential available on the African continent.

    Water

    The majority of African states have made great progress towards improving access to drinking water. However, more extreme droughts, floods, and sea-level rise are predicted to occur as the continent heats up.

    “Declines of 20% in water availability are projected for many regions under a 2 degrees C. warming and of 50 percent for some regions under 4 degrees C. warming. Limiting warming to 2 degrees C. would reduce the global population exposed to declining water availability to 20%.” World Bank, 2013

    System Patterns

    As rainfall patterns change, water scarcity will increase in some regions as they become more arid, while torrential rains will cause more flooding in others.

    East and Central Africa show an increase of total green and blue water1 availability, while Southern Africa and most of West Africa are expected to experience reductions of up to 50%.

    Sea level rise, drought, flooding…Health…

    Aggregated Climate Change Threats in Africa

    Climate change threatens poverty reduction efforts from past achievements to current activities. It threatens all of us. And it won’t wait. The time to act is now. Progress has been made but much remains to be done in order to build healthy ecosystems…

    Concluding Remarks

    The adaptation actions captured in this booklet demonstrate that integrating adaptation into national development policies can strengthen and enhance the resilience of countries and communities against the impacts of climate change through targeted activities, while also contributing to the realization of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The adaptation examples have provided countries in sub-Saharan Africa with concrete climate change adaptation actions that will continue to sustainably provide them with resilient livelihoods under a changing climate. The merits of the adaptation approach are evident. The engagement of local communities, use of appropriate local materials and keeping the implementation process simple make adaptation actions more efficient, effective, affordable, equitable and environmentally sustainable.

    In addition, the adaptation actions conducted by countries have proven that concrete actions have potential to offer evidence-based information for institutional and regional policy processes. Their successes also provide incentive for action and build confidence through a “learning-by-doing” approach. These adaptation actions also provide economic incentives for public or private sector investment by showcasing the contribution to human welfare, poverty alleviation, job creation (specifically “Green Economy” jobs) and strengthened ecosystems, which are pathways towards achieving the proposed SDGs. Through this approach, national strategies have greatly benefited from the identification of constraining barriers and by the development of targeted actions that swiftly and precisely remove those barriers. This has helped pave the way for wider actions that can stimulate, catalyze and amplify positive results over a larger scale and more rapidly, saving money and reducing delivery time. The adaptation actions described in this booklet demonstrate that it is possible to achieve consolidated solutions that simultaneously serve local communities and national priorities for adaptation to climate change.

    QUICK NEWS, August 19: LOW-PRICED WIND ENERGY ATTRACTS UTILITIES; TEXAS SUBURBS BLOCK SOLAR; WHAT UTILITY CUSTOMERS WANT

    LOW-PRICED WIND ENERGY ATTRACTS UTILITIES DOE promotes wind power in reports

    Timothy Cama, August 18, 2014 (The Hill)

    “…[A] series of reports released [by the Department of Energy (DOE)] found that the United States ranks second to China in wind energy installation and wind power provides 4.5 percent of the country’s electricity, among other conclusions…DOE used the reports to advocate for reinstatement of the wind energy [production tax credit (PTC), a tax break for wind energy production that expired last year…A Senate panel voted earlier this year to renew the credit, but the proposal did not move forward. The tax break has proven extremely controversial in Congress…One [report] focuses on the market for wind energy technology and the other is about distributed wind energy, which is installed at homes, businesses or other sites that are not utility-scale generation facilities…Utility-scale wind power is in 39 states and territories, and spurs $500 million in exports annually…Wind power is at an all-time low price, and utilities are buying it to save money…Distributed wind power accounts for more than 80 percent of all wind turbines in the United States…” click here for more

    TEXAS SUBURBS BLOCK SOLAR Texas law lets developers ban solar panels while subdivisions are growing

    Wendy Hundley, 16 August 2014 (Dallas News)

    "…[D]espite a Texas law that bans HOAs from restricting the use of solar power…the law allows builders to restrict solar-energy devices while a housing development is under construction…Solar advocates call this a legal loophole that creates unnecessary obstacles for homeowners who want to go green. But builders say it’s an exception that protects investments in new housing…Developers object to the solar devices for aesthetic reasons…[and] the ban lasts only until the neighborhood is built out and the builder relinquishes control of the HOA board to residents…But green-energy advocates say solar panels are no more unsightly than air-conditioning units and cite…[a 2011 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research] found that solar panels can add 3 to 4 percent to the value of a home…” click here for more

    WHAT UTILITY CUSTOMERS WANT Survey Reveals What U.S. Consumers Expect From Their Utilities

    August 15, 2014 (Up Front via Renew Grid)

    “…[A GE Digital Energy business survey] found that millions of Americans are willing to pay $10 more on their monthly bills for better power reliability…[The Grid Resiliency Survey], conducted by Harris Poll, [found] 82% of U.S. customers would like their utility to do more to encourage energy conservation and share ideas to improve energy efficiency in their homes. Meanwhile, 81% expect their utilities to use higher levels of renewable energy in the future to meet power needs…56% of U.S. adults were without power for an hour or more during their latest outage…If the power goes out and consumers’ electronic devices are not charged, nearly half of U.S. adults (39%) also would be frustrated with the absence of their smartphones, with laptops following closely behind (25%)…[T]he survey found that 50% of U.S. adults believe natural disasters and weather-related events are the greatest threat to the U.S. power grid…41% of Americans living east of the Mississippi River are willing to pay an additional $10 per month to ensure the grid is more reliable, compared to 34% of those living west of the river…” click here for more

    Monday, August 18, 2014

    TODAY’S STUDY: THE THREATS TO OLD ENERGIES AROUND THE WORLD

    Energy Supply Security; Emergency Response of IEA Countries 2014

    July 2014 (International Energy Agency)

    Executive Summary

    The International Energy Agency (IEA) was created in 1974 with a membership of 16 OECD member countries. Its primary mandate was to implement the International Energy Program (I.E.P.), a joint strategy to address oil security issues on an international scale. The programme was a response to the international oil disruption of 1973 and to the wide-ranging macroeconomic problems it generated. Considerable changes have taken place in the energy world in the four decades since the founding of the IEA that have had an impact on both the nature and the scope of energy security.

    In mid-2013, emerging market and developing economies overtook the OECD countries in oil consumption for the first time. Techniques such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have opened access to oil and gas reserves that were previously considered too challenging or uneconomical to develop. North America is expected to become a net exporter of oil before 2030, while most other major oil-consuming regions and countries will rely on imports to a greater extent. Oil use is also increasingly moving towards Asia- Pacific markets and away from the Atlantic basin.

    Natural gas has played an ever greater role in the world’s energy mix, growing from 16% to over 21% of total primary energy supply (TPES) in the period since 1974. Natural gas demand in OECD non-member economies overtook that of the OECD countries in 2008. The natural gas market is becoming more global, thanks to the development of longer pipelines and inter-regional trade of liquefied natural gas. Electricity security has become a growing concern in many emerging markets as well as in OECD member countries in recent years. Demand for electricity is set to rise faster than any other final form of energy, expanding by more than two-thirds over the period from 2011 to 2035. The steady increase in gas-fired electricity generation in OECD countries has strengthened linkages between the power and the gas sectors, increasing supply risks for both.

    The role of the IEA in energy security

    Emergency response is still one of the main pillars of the IEA. Membership requires countries to meet two key obligations: to hold oil stocks equivalent to at least 90 days of net oil imports; and to maintain emergency response measures that can contribute to an IEA collective action in the event of a severe oil supply disruption. Response measures include stockdraw, demand restraint, fuel switching and surge oil production. The IEA Governing Board, a body comprising individuals at ministerial or senior official level, defines and determines the implementation of IEA policies. Under the Governing Board, the Standing Group on Emergency Questions (SEQ) is responsible for all aspects of the emergency response. The SEQ takes advice from the Industry Advisory Board (IAB) which is composed of experts from oil companies operating worldwide.

    As part of its mandate, the SEQ conducts regular reviews (on a five-year cycle) of the emergency response mechanisms of member countries, ensuring the overall preparedness of the IEA for a rapid response to energy supply emergencies. These reviews help verify that emergency response capabilities have adapted adequately to changes in energy market conditions. The Agency expanded these reviews to cover natural gas security in addition to oil for the 2008 – 2012 review cycle, and recently also incorporated electricity security as part of its assessments for the latest review cycle which began in October 2013.

    Recognising that oil consumption and net imports in some non-IEA countries are increasing rapidly, the IEA promotes dialogue and information sharing on oil security policies and shares information and experience about creating national strategic oil stocks with key transition and emerging economies, such as China, India and countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Expanding international cooperation with all players in the global energy markets to improve market transparency through the collection of more accurate and timely data is also a critical component of IEA work towards greater energy security.

    Energy Supply Security: Emergency Response of IEA Countries 2014 reflects the results of the latest emergency response review cycle. It also draws attention to significant changes arising since the previous cycle of reviews and the last edition (IEA, 2007) of this publication. The findings contained in the following pages clearly illustrate the robustness of IEA emergency response systems. They also demonstrate the value of the periodic reviews as a means of fine-tuning specific response mechanisms in order to mitigate the effects of a shortfall in oil or natural gas supply. Most importantly, they highlight the reasons why being prepared is so important for the future.

    Key findings

    Over time, stockdraw has proven to be the most powerful mechanism available to IEA member countries during an oil supply disruption, but this publication also highlights progress in other areas. Demand restraint is another key measure that can help free up barrels by encouraging oil consumers to reduce their use of oil. This publication places particular emphasis on demand restraint within the transport sector, which currently accounts for more than half of all oil consumption in IEA member countries.

    In the electricity market, oil and oil products have already been largely replaced by natural gas for electricity production. This means that the traditional backup fuel (natural gas) is already in high demand and not readily available. This integration suggests supply disruptions of other fuels, such as natural gas, could spill over into the oil market and cause increases in oil demand. Half of the member countries of the IEA have developed specific stockholding measures related to gas that would provide some resilience in the event of a disruption. Ministers from IEA member countries have tasked the IEA to monitor progress in gas markets and in the development of the gas security policies of its member countries.

    Equally as important as having emergency response mechanisms in place is the ability to use them at short notice. The IEA has the ability to respond rapidly to an oil supply disruption through real-time communication with member countries and major players outside the IEA. The IEA also has a framework for decision making which is tested and updated through regular simulation exercises.

    QUICK NEWS, August 18: GERMANY UPS GRID STABILITY WITH NEW ENERGY; U.S. SOLAR MANUFACTURING TO RISE; TEXAS LEADS U.S. WIND BOOM

    GERMANY UPS GRID STABILITY WITH NEW ENERGY Germany Has One Of The World’s Most Efficient Grids

    Roy L. Hales, August 7, 2014 (The ECO Report)

    “Close to 29% of Germany’s electricity, during the first half of 2014 came, from renewable sources…[and] Germany has one of the World’s most efficient grids…In terms of grid reliability, the only nations that rival Germany are Japan (another “green” leader) and Singapore…In 2012, Germany lost an average of 15.91 minutes per customer…[I]t’s closest Western European competitors lost more than a half an hour…The most recent figures from the United States are for 2008. The 244 minute per customer loss that year puts America near the bottom…Canadian statistics…[in the last five years are] always significantly higher than 4 hours…[T]he UK and France lost roughly six times as many minutes as Germany in 2012…Germany’s renewable sector is growing. The wind, photovoltaic, and biomass sectors generated over 71 terawatt-hours of electricity in the first six months of 2014. That is almost a 25% increase over last year and comes at a time when the nation’s conventional energy sources are being asked to produce less…It may be more than a co-incidental that the nations which created the World’s most stable grids are now also among the greenest…” click here for more

    U.S. SOLAR MANUFACTURING TO RISE Partly Sunny; America is making lots of solar energy. What’s holding it back from making solar panels?

    Daniel Gross, August 14, 2014 (Slate)

    “…The annual [U.S.] installation of solar systems rose from 1.265 megawatts in 2008 to 4.75 gigawatts in 2013…America has emerged as the third-largest market for solar…[But the] two biggest solar panel manufacturers headquartered in the U.S., First Solar and SunPower, have located most of their manufacturing capacity in Southeast Asia…[A]bout half of the panels used in the U.S. last year came from China. U.S. module production fell from 1,200 megawatts in 2011 to 541 megawatts in 2012 and bounced back up to 988 megawatts in 2013…[But this summer, SolarCity bought Silevo and] the two firms plan to build a massive factory in Buffalo, New York...[1366] has raised $64 million to make solar wafers [in a big U.S. factory]...Suniva, the second-largest manufacturer of panels in the U.S….[will double in size with] a new factory in Saginaw Township, Michigan…[Also,] the Commerce Department… may impose tariffs on panels made in China that could add up to 35 percent to the cost of the products…[and] Government agencies such as the military [and cities, states, nonprofits, or public institutions such as universities, may push their contractors] to comply with the Buy American Act and the Buy America provisions of the 2009 stimulus bill...[A] few announcements don’t make for a full-fledged renaissance. And the U.S. still accounts for only a tiny sliver of global module manufacturing…But it’s the direction that counts as much as the volume…” click here for more

    TEXAS LEADS U.S. WIND BOOM Texas becomes ground zero for surge in wind power

    Javier E. David, August 9, 2014 (USA Today)

    “…Home to both vast repositories of conventional and shale oil, the Lone Star State is also a major player in wind power, a new twist on the U.S. energy independence narrative…[T]he nation's second largest state… has invested about $7 billion in a sprawling wind power network that spans nearly 4,000 miles. Wind power generates more than 12,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity…[making Texas] first in the country for total MW of wind power capacity…A combination of public subsidies, new federal carbon regulations and private investment has [driven the boom]…[W]ind plants have been a staple of Texas' electric supply since at least 1995, a function of the state's climate and the massive amounts of electricity it consumes…[Oil and gas giant BP divested most of its renewable properties but] still maintains wind power properties worth more than $1 billion [including four in Texas]…Google has staked a claim to two Texas wind farms…[and] Walmart and Microsoft have also channeled resources into the emerging wind sector…” click here for more

    Saturday, August 16, 2014

    Buy Or Lease Rooftop Solar?

    A lot of people are asking this question these days. Here is some help with the answer. From EnergySage via YouTube

    The Sound Of The Wind

    A visual and aural symphony. Literally. From Siemens via YouTube

    Why Energy Efficiency?

    “It’s simply a better way of doing things.” From Michaels Energy via YouTube

    Friday, August 15, 2014

    CLIMATE CHANGE IN CHINA

    In China, Climate Change Is Already Here; China is already feeling the effects of climate change, and the results could be devastating.

    Shannon Tiezzi, August 14, 2014 (The Diplomat)

    “Northern China is currently experiencing a severe drought…Henan Province, one of China’s top grain producers, has suffered economic losses of 7.3 billion renminbi ($1.2 billion) due to the drought, with agriculture representing 97 percent of those losses. Neighboring Hebei Province is also suffering, with rainfall levels in some areas at less than 50 percent of yearly averages. Liaoning Province, meanwhile, is in the midst of its worst drought since the province began keeping meteorological records in 1951…[S]outhern China is experiencing devastating floods…July flooding due to extreme rainfall killed at least 34 and caused 5.21 billion RMB ($839.8 million) in damages…More recently, heavy rains have complicated efforts to rebuild after the August 3 Yunnan earthquake, and just this week more flooding in Guizhou province killed at least 12 people…The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s Fourth Assessment Report(issued in 2007) predicted an increase in extreme rains in western and southern China and a decrease in rainfall in the north…The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report, issued last year, predicts possible threats to both water and food security in China (and Asia in general) as well as more potential for natural disasters…” click here for more

    RUSSIA-CAPTURED CRIMEA DIALS DOWN NEW ENERGY

    Crimea Cuts Payments for Wind and Solar Power Plants

    Stephen Bierman, August 8, 2014 (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

    “Crimean solar and wind companies may restart power generation at lower rates as Crimea set prices for renewables at no higher than electricity imports from Ukraine…to about 3.42 rubles (9 U.S. cents) per kilowatt-hour, or about a quarter of those granted before Crimea joined Russia…[after President Viktor Yanukovych fled Ukraine’s capital Kiev amid violence and protests. Russia’s subsequent annexation of the Black Sea peninsula halted output from renewable power generators…Even with reduced rates, Russia will still need to pay about 9 billion rubles in subsidies for renewables by the end of the year…Wind and solar generators have agreed to work at the current rate…” click here for more

    A NEW LOOK AT THE WORLD’S OCEAN ENERGIES

    IRENA Evaluates Four Ocean Energy Technologies

    June 2014 (International Institute for Sustainable Development)

    “The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has published a series of technology papers exploring the potential for [four ocean energy technologies]: tidal energy; wave energy; ocean thermal energy conversion; and salinity gradient energy…[T]he potential of ocean energy is estimated at 100-400% of global electricity demand…[but] is expected to continue to be small in the short to medium terms…IRENA estimates the total technically harvestable tidal energy potential located near coasts at one terawatt…[D]espite over 100 pilot and demonstration [wave enery] projects over the world, only a handful of technologies are close to commercialization…[and] estimates for levelized cost of electricity in 10 MW demonstration projects is high, at €330-360/MWh…[O]cean thermal energy conversion as having the highest potential of all ocean energy technologies… 98 countries and territories have been identified as having viable [with zero impact] resources…Salinity gradient power, created from the difference in salt concentration between fresh and salt water, currently at pilot stage, has an estimated total technical potential of 647 GW, but is facing funding issues…” click here for more

    WORLD BANK PLEDGES $5BIL FOR AFRICA NEW ENERGY

    World Bank Says Africa $5 Billion Isn't for Coal Projects

    Kevin Costelloe, August 6, 2014 (Bloomberg News)

    “The World Bank said the $5 billion pledged for electricity generation in Africa…is for wind, geothermal, gas and hydro power, and doesn’t include any financing for coal projects…[T]he money is for new technical and financial support for energy projects in six African countries -- Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, and Tanzania…World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said…Africa deserves to have power [but is experiencing] ‘almost energy apartheid,’ where two-thirds of the population lacks access to power…The World Bank will try to invest…in clean energy, with a focus on hydroelectric, solar, geothermal and wind…[while respecting] Africans’ demand for access…where there are no feasible alternatives…” click here for more

    Thursday, August 14, 2014

    KELLOGG CALLS FOR LOW CARBON CORN FLAKES

    Low-Carbon Cereal: Kellogg Climate Change Initiative Calls On Farmers, Supply Chain To Cut Carbon Emissions

    Maria Gallucci, August 13, 2014 (International Business Times)

    “…[Kellogg Co.] joins a wave of major U.S. businesses that are pledging to tackle climate change – not only by reducing their own greenhouse gas emissions but also by requiring the farmers and suppliers they work with to follow suit…Across the United States, agriculture accounts for about one-tenth of total greenhouse gas emissions…Kellogg’s main competitor, General Mills Inc., made a similar announcement two weeks ago. Both initiatives are largely the result of Oxfam International’s Behind the Brands campaign…to empower customers to call for changes in areas where companies might be lagging…[Kellogg] will set a target for reducing emissions across its entire supply chain…[and] require its suppliers to measure and publicly disclose their progress on reaching those emission-reduction goals…[S]keptics of highly publicized initiatives like Kellogg's worry they could just amount to ‘greenwashing’…But private sector firms say they have become increasingly engaged on climate and environmental issues because they're worried about how their supply chains will fare in a warming future…” click here for more

    SIERRA CLUB HAILS WIND CHAMPIONS IN CONGRESS

    Sierra Club Thanks Members of Congress for Supporting Wind

    August 2014 (Sierra Club)

    “The Wind Production Tax Credit (PTC) is widely acknowledged as a critical part of American wind power’s development into a mainstream source of electricity and one of the biggest, fastest and cheapest ways to reduce carbon pollution while creating [more than 85,000 American] good-paying jobs and saving customers money…It saves more than 30 billion gallons of fresh water each year compared with other energy sources and, if growth remains steady, is on track to produce 20 percent of America’s electricity by 2030…

    “Recently, however, the wind industry has come under strong opposition from groups backed by the billionaire Koch Brothers and other dirty fuels interests…[These members of Illinois’ Congressional delegation have stood up to the Kochs and supported the PTC]: …Mike Quigley (D-IL 5th District)…Jan Schakowsky (D-IL 9th District)…Brad Schneider (D-IL 10th District)…Tammy Duckworth (D-IL 8th District)…Cheri Bustos (D-IL 17th District)…Robin Kelly (D-IL 2nd District)…Bobby Rush (D-IL 1st District)…William Enyart (D-IL 12th District)…” click here for more

    THE BOOM IN SOLAR CARPORTS

    US Solar Carport Market Poised for Record Year, Continued Growth; Annual installations will exceed 100 megawatts for the fourth consecutive year.

    August 13, 2014 (Greentech Media Research)

    “…[T]he U.S. is forecasted to add over 180 megawatts of solar carports in 2014, making it the fourth consecutive year with more than 100 megawatts installed…While California will continue to anchor the national market, new state markets on the east coast are emerging despite higher costs. GTM Research expects continued growth in California, along with market recoveries in Arizona and New Jersey, to drive the market value of solar carports to $843 million in 2016…” click here for more

    EV BATTERIES GET SECOND LIFE

    Electric-Car Batteries: What Happens To Them After Coming Out Of The Car?

    John Voelcker, August 12, 2014 (Green Car Reports)

    “…[In 20 years,] there may be 1.3 million to 6.7 million used battery packs from electric cars…[R]oughly 85 percent of those could be suitable for ‘post-vehicle use’…[but the] materials in a lithium-ion battery pack are relatively inexpensive, and even with technological breakthroughs, the report estimates that only 20 percent of the cost of recycling could be recouped by selling the recovered materials…Instead, the value will lie in secondary uses…[that] could be economical at a cost of $83 to $114 per kilowatt-hour…For a 24-kWh used pack out of a Nissan Leaf, then, the value might range from $2,000 to $2,750…

    “The replacement cost of a new Leaf pack (on which Nissan has said it loses money today) is $5,500…The average U.S. home uses 32 kWh a day, so a Leaf battery pack that may have 16 kWh of usable capacity left could power the home [with stored solar energy-generated electricity] for a substantial portion of its day…And forward-looking electric utilities are considering the opportunities to decouple such homes from the grid temporarily during periods of peak demand, reducing the utility's peak load…” click here for more

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

    TODAY’S STUDY: SAVING WATER CAN CUT GREENHOUSE GASES

    Capturing Synergies Between Water Conservation and Carbon Dioxide Emissions in the Power Sector

    Paul Faeth and Benjamin K. Sovacool, July 2014 (CAN Corp)

    Abstract

    In order to gain a more thorough understanding of potential conflicts and synergies between power generation and water use, we developed a mixed-integer linear programming model of the power sector that captures the key relationships with water. We used the model to develop a series of scenarios for each of four case studies—the North Grid of China, India, France, and the state of Texas in the United States. We found that cost-effective options exist that can cut water use, reduce risks to the power sector, and also reduce emissions of conventional pollutants and greenhouse gases from electricity generation. This report focuses on strategies we recommend to capture those synergies.

    Executive Summary

    Electricity generation from thermoelectric power plants is inextricably linked to water resources at nearly all stages in the power production cycle, yet this critical constraint has been largely overlooked in policy and planning. While this assumption suggests that water is inexpensive and abundant, global water resources are increasingly strained by economic development, population growth, and climate change. As demand increases, competition for limited water resources among the agricultural, industrial, municipal, and electric power sectors threatens to become acute in several global regions.

    Modeling the Electricity-Water Nexus

    In order to gain a more thorough understanding of potential conflicts and synergies between power generation and water use, we developed a mixed-integer linear programming model of the power sector that captures the key relationships with water. We used the model to develop a series of scenarios for each of four case studies—the North Grid of China, India, France, and the state of Texas in the United States. We chose these cases because water is posing challenges to power generation in each of them.

    We developed a baseline projection for each case study, and then modeled a number of scenarios, including limits on water availability, reduced power demand from end-use energy efficiency, expansion of renewable energy, and carbon caps, among others.

    Findings and Strategies to Address Water Challenges and Mitigate CO2 Emissions

    We found that cost-effective options exist that can cut water used in electricity generation and also reduce emissions of conventional pollutants and carbon dioxide. From the case study analysis, we developed a set of recommended strategies, presented in detail in this report:

    • Promote energy efficiency and demand-side management.

    • Deploy renewable energy technologies that do not require cooling.

    • Avoid building new freshwater-cooled thermoelectric power plants in water-stressed regions.

    • Improve monitoring, data collection, and analysis for policy, planning, and permitting.

    • Increase research and development support for advanced power sector technologies that reduce water use and provide other co-benefits.

    A companion report, A Clash of Competing Necessities: Water Adequacy and Electric Reliability in China, India, France, and Texas,describes the four case studies and the analysis that supports the recommendations above. Documentation of the model is provided in its appendix.

    Next Steps

    The intent of the research was to better appreciate the issues at play and put forward a set of strategies to reduce the dependence on water of the power sector, thereby enhancing its reliability as well as the water- and pollutant-related co-benefits that could be derived.

    It is critically important that policymakers, government officials, and other decision makers and reform advocates are aware of the significant reliability risks increasingly posed by water resource constraints. A key takeaway from the work reported here is that tools that enable the full consideration of water-related conflicts and synergies need to be developed and applied in order to avoid those future risks…

    Conclusion

    Electricity generation from thermoelectric power plants is inextricably linked to water resources at nearly all stages in the power production cycle, yet this critical constraint has been largely overlooked in policy and planning.

    While this omission suggests that water is inexpensive and abundant, global water resources are increasingly strained by economic development, population growth, and climate change.44 As demand increases, competition for limited water resources among the agricultural, industrial, municipal, and electric power sectors threatens to become acute in several global regions. It is critically important that policymakers, government officials, and other decisionmakers and reform advocates are aware of the significant reliability risks increasingly posed by water resource constraints.

    6

    We find though, that these risks can be managed in ways that are cost-effective and provide additional co-benefits, including improvements in air quality and reductions in greenhouse gases. Key approaches to do this include end-use energy efficiency; renewable energy that does not require cooling water, particularly wind; and a move away from coal to natural gas. Not all power production options provide these synergies. Nuclear power has air quality and climate mitigation benefits, but is very thirsty. Coal with carbon capture and sequestration requires considerably more water than does conventional coal.

    The intent of the exercise we reported here was to better understand the issues at play and develop strategies that could alleviate the challenges the power sector is likely to face as water resource availability becomes increasingly constrained.

    A key takeaway from this work is that tools that enable the full consideration of water-related conflicts and synergies—such as the CNA Electricity-Water Nexus model—need to be developed and applied in order to avoid future risks.

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