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Member since: Fri Dec 19, 2003, 01:20 AM
Number of posts: 25,417

Journal Archives

How Solar Power Is Transforming India’s Energy Market

How Solar Power Is Transforming India’s Energy Market (Part 1)
July 26th, 2015 by Tobias Engelmeier, Bridge To India

There is a solar transformation underway in India: record low tariffs, huge investment interest, and real growth. But stumbling blocks remain.

A year ago, the Indian government announced a goal of 100 GW of solar by 2022. Many market participants (including myself) were skeptical. In the last couple of months, however, the mood has changed. The goal appears to become more attainable by the day. This is partly due to Indian solar policies, partly due to rising overall investor confidence in India, and partly due to the dynamics of global markets — generally, and in terms of energy and solar. However, not all is good. I cover the challenges in Part 2 (coming tomorrow).

First, these are my main reasons for being optimistic:

Real growth on the ground: A key accusation often made against the Indian market in general and India’s solar plans in specific was that it is all words and no implementation. That has now been proven wrong. In the last three years, the Indian market grew by 1 GW per year. This year, India is expected to add as much as 5 GW (1.1 GW already commissioned). Until recently, our estimate was 3 GW, but now revised our projections upwards (see our India Solar Handbook). In 2016, India may add 7–10 GW of solar (the government plans to auction 10 GW this year).

Radical fall in tariffs: The most competitive bid in October 2014 was INR 6.01 kWh or US$ 0.0875 for a 40 MW plant by US-based First Solar. In Madhya Pradesh bids, opened last week, the highest winning bid was INR 5.64/kWh for a 50 MW plant by Indian developer Hero Future Energy and the lowest bid was an incredible INR 5.05/kWh or US$ 0.0795 for a 50 MW plant by Canadian developer SkyPower Solar.

Globally, the current lowest ...

How Solar Power Is Transforming India’s Energy Market (Part II)
July 27th, 2015 by Tobias Engelmeier, Bridge To India

There is great cause for being optimistic about the transformative power of India’s solar market. In the first part of this series, I outlined the drivers that currently propel the market into an entirely new dimension: real growth on the ground, highly competitive tariffs, and enormous investor interest. However, the optimism remains tapered as real challenges remain.

Here are my main concerns:

Margins: It remains difficult to earn money on solar projects in India. There is strong competitive pressure on tariffs and that percolates down through the entire value chain, leaving bare-bone equity returns of around 15% (at a debt cost of 11–13%), if at all. Many of the larger Indian corporates, by comparison, would not enter a business that does not offer an equity return of at least 20%. In many other Indian markets, such margins are attainable. Under Bridge To India’s technical and financial assumptions, for instance, SkyPower’s record low bid of INR 5 or US$0.08 per kWh yields a return of 12%. That seems hardly worth the trouble.

Why is investor interest so high, then? Leaving aside a group of players who are overoptimistic, take undue risk, or lack market information and a (relatively small) group of players who muscle into the market with strategic pricing, there is a widespread assumption that building a portfolio of projects generates value above the returns of individual projects and that there will be attractive ways of refinancing later.

Weak grids, weaker discoms: The Indian electricity grid suffers from high losses (20%+), frequent technical failures, and a lack of monitoring and maintenance. It is quite far from being a “smart grid” (although Indian load dispatch centres are probably more used to managing the grid actively and reacting to volatility than their American or European counterparts). In order to absorb much more infirm renewable power (and in order to deal with India’s future growth in energy demand), the grid has to be bolstered significantly. The trouble is, the utilities are in very bad financial shape. Their cumulative losses are around US$50 billion, with annual losses of around $10 billion. This financial situation makes utilities reluctant grid investors and non-bankable PPA counterparts.

To its credit, the government recognises the problem ...

Climate rule to bring lower energy bills, report says

Climate rule to bring lower energy bills, report says
By Timothy Cama - 07/23/15

States can significantly lower electricity bills for consumers and businesses if they take the right steps in complying with the Obama administration’s climate rule for power plants, a new report concludes.

Specifically, Synapse Energy Economics analyzed what would happen if states focused their efforts on expanding carbon-free energy production and energy efficiency programs, and found big savings.

“For the two-thirds of residential consumers who participate in ratepayer-funded energy efficiency programs under this scenario, 2030 bills are expected to be $35 per month lower than in a business-as-usual ... scenario and, on average, $14 per month cheaper than residential bills were in 2012,” Synapse concluded.

Synapse’s findings go further than predictions from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which also forecasts lower energy bills, but only by about $8 per month compared with what would have happened without the climate rule.

And it contrasts with the conclusions of many opponents of the regulation...

Renewable Energy is Killing Nuclear Power No Hope for Nuclear

Renewable Energy is Killing Nuclear Power
No Hope for Nuclear

Written by Jeff Siegel July 22, 2015

I changed my mind...

Over the past few years, I’ve been reluctantly singing the praises of a new nuclear renaissance.

I say reluctantly because I’m not actually a fan of expanding nuclear power. It just seems like a costly and superfluous agenda, as the trifecta of energy efficiency, storage, and renewable energy technologies is simply economically superior to nuclear.

However, I never really had much more than a hunch that this thesis made sense. In other words, I lacked enough data to back my argument...


Have You Heard Of Solar Desalination? If Not, You Will Soon

I heard a panel discussion on conventional reverse osmosis deal not too long ago and recall them saying that they had achieved maximum possible energetic efficiency with today's technologies. This sounds promising.

Have You Heard Of Solar Desalination? If Not, You Will Soon.


Solar power turns the sun’s energy into electricity. Desalination removes unwanted minerals from saltwater so it can be used for drinking or agriculture.

These two technologies have typically been employed separately in the effort to live more sustainably and limit dependence on finite resources. Now in California, a company has found a way to merge the two with the aim of providing long-term relief to farmers suffering the impacts of the state’s devastating four-year drought. The implications are far-reaching, as agriculture accounts for 80 percent of water use in California and roughly 70 percent of water use globally. In California alone, there is an estimated one million acre-feet of irrigation drainage that could be treated and reused if solar desalination catches on....

WaterFX, a San Francisco-based water producer for agricultural and commercial users, recently announced that its California subsidiary, HydroRevolution, plans to build the state’s first commercial solar desalination plant. To be located in the agriculture-intensive Central Valley, the plant will ultimately generate up to 5,000 acre-feet, or 1.6 billion gallons, of clean water per year — enough water for 10,000 homes or 2,000 acres of cropland. It will be built on 35 acres of land currently used to grow salt-tolerant crops, and will recycle unusable irrigation water from a 7,000-acre drainage area into a new and much-needed source of freshwater for nearby water districts by removing unwanted mineral and salts....

...the HydroRevolution system is the most efficient of its type available. It uses heat generated from parabolic solar panels to evaporate clean water out of the original source water. The condensate is then recovered as pure water at over 90 percent efficiency. When the sun isn’t shining, thermal heat storage used to hold excess heat allows the process to continue.
More at: http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/07/23/3682598/first-commercial-solar-desalination-plant-in-california/

CA Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom releases report on guidelines for marijuana legalization

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom releases report on guidelines for marijuana legalization

A panel chaired by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom hopes to guide the debate on the legalization of marijuana in California with an emphasis on limiting children’s access to cannabis, reducing illegal activity and tightly regulating the drug's growth and sales.
In a report released Wednesday, the group lays out 58 recommendations and goals for implementing general legalization -- an issue expected to go before voters next year.
The document offers broad principles --“protecting California’s youth” -- as well as nitty-gritty suggestions for collecting data and limiting advertising.
Newsom said in an interview that he hopes the report offers guidance to proponents of a legalization initiative aimed at the November 2016 ballot, as well as to help lawmakers and officials who would have to implement it if it passed.

The report does not explicity endorse or oppose legalization of recreational marijuana...

This is direct link to report PDF. https://www.safeandsmartpolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/BRCPathwaysReport.pdf

The committee's website has some other worthwhile material: https://www.safeandsmartpolicy.org/reports/

On AFT polling behind Clinton endorsement and members who were not polled

This is the para on polling in the AFT announcement via press release:
The AFT has conducted a long, deliberative process to assess which candidate would best champion the issues of importance to our members, their families and communities. Members have been engaged online, through the "You Decide" website, through several telephone town halls, and through multiple surveys—reaching more than 1 million members.


With the claim in the press release that they'd reached "more than 1 million members" being so prominent, it should be expected that some would think a general vote had been taken and wonder why they weren't part of it. They link to the "You Decide" webpage that then leads you to a representative sample poll. So, even though most didn't receive a call, as I'm sure you know, if the sample was properly selected then, then a poll like this with a sample of 1150 should be an accurate assessment of member preferences.

The link to the 'YouDecide" page:

And that links to the only actual hard data made available - the poll summary from June 2015:

You can view the pollster's analysis at the above link. This is the ex summary:
This memo highlights key findings from a new national survey among 1,150 AFT members who are registered to vote. The survey explored members’ attitudes toward AFT’s issue agenda and the 2016 presidential election. Interviewing was conducted by telephone from June 22 to 27. The survey’s margin of error is ±3.3percentage points among all voters, and ±4.1 percentage points for Democratic primary voters (n=683)

So, even though most didn't receive a call, if the sample was properly selected then, with a sample of 1150 it should be an accurate assessment of member preferences.

There is, however, a most obvious problem with the survey, and that is the timing. The campaign is just starting and Sanders is moving very quickly to close the gap in voter market after voter market. In the two weeks since the poll was taken it is highly likely the sentiments expressed have changed significantly. If the effort to select a candidate were being done in good faith, I'd expect the trend line to be a major part of the discussion. (It should be noted the "resolution on the endorsement" points out that the PRIMARY endorsement is "traditionally" not by member vote. The text is included at the end of this post.)

That this single polling snapshot of this specific environment was used as justification for the endorsement indicates to me the recommendation is far more politically derived than member derived. I don't blame those who want a 3rd Way candidate to win again for doing something like this, but the transparently political manner of doing it smacks of more desperation from HRC's campaign than I expected.

Bernie has changed all of the dynamics of this race.

PS: Re Hillary and the 3rd Way, I'd like to point out that she was '3rd Way' before there was a '3rd Way'.
...In 1965, Rodham enrolled at Wellesley College, where she majored in political science. During her first year, she served as president of the Wellesley Young Republicans; with this Rockefeller Republican-oriented group, she supported the elections of Mayor John Lindsay and Senator Edward Brooke. She later stepped down from this position, as her views changed regarding the American Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War. In a letter to her youth minister at this time, she described herself as "a mind conservative and a heart liberal". In contrast to the 1960s current that advocated radical actions against the political system, she sought to work for change within it. In her junior year, Rodham became a supporter of the antiwar presidential nomination campaign of Democrat Eugene McCarthy. Following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Rodham organized a two-day student strike and worked with Wellesley's black students to recruit more black students and faculty. In early 1968, she was elected president of the Wellesley College Government Association and served through early 1969; she was instrumental in keeping Wellesley from being embroiled in the student disruptions common to other colleges. A number of her fellow students thought she might some day become the first female President of the United States. To help her better understand her changing political views, Professor Alan Schechter assigned Rodham to intern at the House Republican Conference, and she attended the "Wellesley in Washington" summer program. Rodham was invited by moderate New York Republican Representative Charles Goodell to help Governor Nelson Rockefeller's late-entry campaign for the Republican nomination. Rodham attended the 1968 Republican National Convention in Miami. However, she was upset by the way Richard Nixon's campaign portrayed Rockefeller and by what she perceived as the convention's "veiled" racist messages, and left the Republican Party for good.

Rodham wrote her senior thesis, a critique of the tactics of radical community organizer Saul Alinsky, under Professor Schechter. (Years later, while she was First Lady, access to the thesis was restricted at the request of the White House and it became the subject of some speculation.) In 1969, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, with departmental honors in political science. Following pressure from some fellow students, she became the first student in Wellesley College history to deliver its commencement address. Her speech received a standing ovation lasting seven minutes.] She was featured in an article published in Life magazine, due to the response to a part of her speech that criticized Senator Brooke, who had spoken before her at the commencement. She also appeared on Irv Kupcinet's nationally syndicated television talk show as well as in Illinois and New England newspapers. That summer, she worked her way across Alaska, washing dishes in Mount McKinley National Park and sliming salmon in a fish processing cannery in Valdez (which fired her and shut down overnight when she complained about unhealthy conditions).


My Opinion about that is this:
We do not need to promote more centralization of economic and political power. Seriously right now is absolutely not one of those times when we can just shrug off any candidate's the preference for economic rightwing policies (3W) making up BAU. We have skewed so far to the right that we risk a range of related, unprecedented catastrophes directly linked to those policies (climate, militarization, authoritarianism) unless we change course.

AFT Resolution

WHEREAS, the members of the American Federation of Teachers play a critical and active role in our democracy; and

WHEREAS, the AFT, its affiliates and its members have rededicated ourselves to reclaiming the promise of America for all our children, families and communities; and

WHEREAS, the 2016 presidential election, like any other presidential election, provides an opportunity to elect a president who shares our vision for America; and

WHEREAS, traditionally, the endorsement is decided in two phases: For the primaries, the AFT executive council, which is elected by the convention delegates to represent the full membership, makes endorsement recommendations. For the general election, our convention chooses our candidate; and (emphasis added - K)

WHEREAS, in considering an endorsement for president, the AFT considers which candidate shares our values, has the support of our members, and is strong and electable; and

WHEREAS, toward this end, since February 2015, the AFT has engaged our members in a variety of ways on both the issues and the candidates, has conducted two polls, has held two town hall forums, has established the "You Decide 2016" and the "You Got Schooled" websites, has conducted research on where each candidate stands, and has invited all candidates to complete a questionnaire and meet with our executive council; and

WHEREAS, Hillary Clinton has spent her entire career, both in the private and public sectors, working to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to climb the ladder of success; and

WHEREAS, Hillary Clinton has a proven record in leading the fight for high-quality healthcare, including proper staffing levels; for high-quality public education for all, starting with our youngest children; was an original co-sponsor of the Employee Free Choice Act; defended public service workers who came to our nation's defense on Sept. 11; and has a deep and long record on economic and social justice issues—from voting rights to immigrant rights to women's rights to worker rights—earning a 100 percent AFT voting record during her time in the U.S. Senate; and

WHEREAS, Hillary Clinton has pledged to help build an economy that produces good jobs and rising wages, and will work with educators, telling the AFT, "It's just dead wrong to make teachers the scapegoats for all of society's problems. Where I come from, teachers are the solution. And I strongly believe that unions are part of the solution too"; and

WHEREAS, the stakes are critically high in this election, when corporate-backed politicians want to preserve today's status quo—a rigged, trickle-down economic system—and to do that, they want to eviscerate unions; and

WHEREAS, these politicians know that unions give working people power at the bargaining table and the ballot box; and

WHEREAS, in a scientific poll conducted in late June 2015, 79 percent of members who can vote in the Democratic primary support a primary endorsement, and, by more than a 3-to-1 margin, those members prefer Hillary Clinton; and

WHEREAS, the AFT has received resolutions from several affiliates urging the executive council to endorse Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination; and

WHEREAS, the 2016 election campaign is already well underway and an endorsement now will enable the AFT to help shape the debate and drive an agenda to reclaim the promise of America; and

WHEREAS, Hillary Clinton is a tested leader who shares our values, is supported by AFT members, and is prepared for a tough fight in order to champion the interest of students, families and communities:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers endorses Hillary Clinton for president in the Democratic primary; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT and its state and local affiliates commit to engaging and mobilizing our 1.6 million members, their families and their communities to reclaim the promise of America and to help secure the Democratic nomination for Hillary Clinton.


Comprehensive list of things banned in Leviticus

Here’s chapter and verse on a more-or-less comprehensive list of things banned in the Leviticus book of the bible. A decent number of them are punishable by death.

Unless you’ve never done any of them (and 54 to 56 are particularly tricky), perhaps it’s time to lay off quoting 18:22 for a while?

1. Burning any yeast or honey in offerings to God (2:11)

2. Failing to include salt in offerings to God (2:13)

3. Eating fat (3:17)

4. Eating blood (3:17)

5. Failing to testify against any wrongdoing you’ve witnessed (5:1)

6. Failing to testify against any wrongdoing you’ve been told about (5:1)

7. Touching an unclean animal (5:2)

8. Carelessly making an oath (5:4)

9. Deceiving a neighbour about something trusted to them (6:2)

10. Finding lost property and lying about it (6:3)

11. Bringing unauthorised fire before God (10:1)

12. Letting your hair become unkempt (10:6)

13. Tearing your clothes (10:6)

14. Drinking alcohol in holy places (bit of a problem for Catholics, this ‘un) (10)

15. Eating an animal which doesn’t both chew cud and has a divided hoof (cf: camel, rabbit, pig) (11:4-7)

16. Touching the carcass of any of the above (problems here for rugby) (11:8)

17. Eating – or touching the carcass of – any seafood without fins or scales (11:10-12)

18. Eating – or touching the carcass of - eagle, the vulture, the black vulture, the red kite, any kind of black kite, any kind of raven, the horned owl, the screech owl, the gull, any kind of hawk, the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl, the white owl, the desert owl, the osprey, the stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe and the bat. (11:13-19)

19. Eating – or touching the carcass of – flying insects with four legs, unless those legs are jointed (11:20-22)

20. Eating any animal which walks on all four and has paws (good news for cats) (11:27)

21. Eating – or touching the carcass of – the weasel, the rat, any kind of great lizard, the gecko, the monitor lizard, the wall lizard, the skink and the chameleon (11:29)

22. Eating – or touching the carcass of – a...


What Everyone Is Getting Wrong About The Supreme Court’s Mercury Pollution Ruling

What Everyone Is Getting Wrong About The Supreme Court’s Mercury Pollution Ruling

Despite reports to the contrary in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and briefly this publication, the Supreme Court didn’t actually “strike down” the EPA’s regulations of toxic air pollution from power plants on Monday.

What the Supreme Court did do was put the regulation — which limits toxic heavy metal pollution like mercury from coal and oil-fired plants — in jeopardy. In a 5-4 decision led by Justice Antonin Scalia, the court said the EPA acted unlawfully when it failed to consider how much the regulation would cost the power industry before deciding to craft the rule.

However, that doesn’t mean the rule is gone. In fact, it’s still in place at this very moment. Right now, power plants are still required to limit their emissions of mercury, arsenic, chromium, and other toxins. A spokesperson for the EPA confirmed this to ThinkProgress.

What the Supreme Court’s ruling does is send the current mercury rule to the D.C. Circuit court for further consideration. The D.C. Circuit could very well invalidate the rule. But it could also uphold it, if the court finds more harm than good would be done by repealing it, or if the agency can offer a reasonable explanation of why costs weren’t included early on in the administrative record.

The D.C. Circuit has often left rules in place under similar circumstances...


Coal giant (Peabody) exploited Ebola crisis for corporate gain, say health experts

Coal giant exploited Ebola crisis for corporate gain, say health experts
Public health experts outraged after world’s largest privately-held coal company, Peabody Energy, promotes its product in the fight against Ebola in Africa as part of a PR campaign to rebrand the fossil fuel as a solution to global poverty

A nurse walks with a little girl suffering from Ebola, at the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) compound in Monrovia. Peabody suggested more energy access with coal generation could have helped with the distribution of an Ebola vaccine, had there been one. Photograph: Pascal Guyot/AFP/Getty Images
Suzanne Goldenberg@suzyji

Public health experts involved in the response to the Ebola crisis have condemned what they described as a ludicrous, insulting and opportunistic attempt to exploit the disease for corporate gain by the world’s largest privately-held coal company.

As part of a PR offensive to rebrand coal as a “21st-century fuel” that can help solve global poverty, it has emerged that at the height of Ebola’s impact in Africa, Peabody Energy promoted its product as an answer to Africa’s devastating public health crisis.

Greg Boyce, the chief executive of Peabody, a US-based multinational with mining interests around the world, included a slide on Ebola and energy in a presentation to a coal industry conference in September last year. The slide suggested that more energy would have spurred the distribution of a hypothetical Ebola vaccine – citing as supporting evidence a University of Pennsylvania infectious disease expert.


Public health experts who were involved in fighting the spread of Ebola were outraged at Peabody’s suggestion that expanding energy access with coal generation could have hindered the spread of Ebola and helped with the distribution of a vaccine – especially as there is no approved vaccine against the disease.

Meanwhile, the medical expert cited by Peabody...


Solar's value is nearly 17 cents/kWh, utilities under-compensating

Report: Solar's value is nearly 17 cents/kWh, utilities under-compensating
By Robert Walton | June 25, 2015

Dive Brief:
- Green-advocacy group Environment America has reviewed 11 net metering studies, and says eight of them showed utilities are under-compensating the owners of rooftop solar systems.
- According to the report, the median value of solar power across all 11 studies was nearly 17 cents per kWh, versus the national average electricity price of about 12 cents.
- Progressive solar policies around the country have helped the resource bloom, the group said: the first quarter of this year ended with 21,300 MW of solar capacity installed in the United States.

Dive Insight:
Throwing more fuel on the debate between rooftop solar owners and utilities, a new study finds the value of panel-power is almost 50% more than the nation's average electricity cost.

“While some utilities claim they’re subsidizing solar panel owners, our report shows the opposite is probably true,” Rob Sargent, senior program director at Environment America, said in a statement. “If anything, utilities should be paying people who go solar more, not less.”

That's ...

More at http://www.utilitydive.com/news/report-solars-value-is-nearly-17-centskwh-utilities-under-compensating/401285/

"Their" ALEC dollars at work against you.
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