Sustainable Energy Coalition 1612 “K” Street, N.W.; #202-A Washington, D.C. 20006 202-293-2898, x.201
WASHINGTON DC — The Sustainable Energy Coalition today issued the first five in what will be an ongoing series of “factoids” documenting the potential of renewable energy and energy efficient technologies to displace fossil fuels and nuclear power.
The “factoids” will consist of summaries of recent studies and reports issued by a wide variety of academic, governmental, business, and non-profit organizations which examine the near and mid-term potential of sustainable energy technologies.
The factoids are being compiled as part of a broader effort to demonstrate that it is technically and economically feasible for the mix of sustainable energy technologies to:
- reduce greenhouse gas emissions to a level consistent with a world-wide goal of global climate stabilization (assumes curbing U.S. CO2 emissions by 60-80% from current levels by mid-century);
- eliminate U.S. energy imports (i.e., oil and natural gas – now 58% and 15% respectively), while reducing overall domestic consumption of oil and natural gas; and
- phase out the current generation of nuclear power.
The first five factoids are as follows:
Factoid #1 — “Biomass Could Provide 15% of U.S. Energy Demand by 2030”
Factoid #2 — “Annual Installations of Rooftop Photovoltaics Could Power Hundreds of Thousands of Homes and Businesses by 2010”
Factoid #3 — “Wind Power Could Generate More Than Enough Sustainable Electricity to Meet Global Energy Needs”
Factoid #4 — “Biomass Could Provide At Least 12 Percent of California’s Electricity Needs”
Factoid #5 — “Untapped Geothermal Resources Could Provide 25,000 MW of Electrical Generating Capacity”
Three to four additional factoids are planned to be published each month.
The full text of the initial set of factoids follows.
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Founded in 1992, the Sustainable Energy Coalition is a coalition of more than 90 national and state-level business, consumer, environmental, and energy policy organizations working to promote increased use of renewable energy and energy efficient technologies.
SUSTAINABLE ENERGY COALITION: FACTOIDS
Factoid #1 — BIOMASS COULD PROVIDE 15% OF U.S. ENERGY DEMAND BY 2030:
Factoid #2 — ANNUAL INSTALLATIONS OF ROOFTOP PHOTOVOLTAICS COULD POWER HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF HOMES AND BUSINESSES BY 2010:
Factoid #3 — WIND POWER COULD GENERATE MORE THAN ENOUGH SUSTAINABLE ELECTRICITY TO MEET GLOBAL ENERGY NEEDS
Factoid #4 — BIOMASS COULD PROVIDE AT LEAST 12 PERCENT OF CALIFORNIA’S ELECTRICITY NEEDS
Factoid #5 — UNTAPPED GEOTHERMAL RESOURCES COULD PROVIDE 25,000 MW OF ELECTRICAL GENERATING CAPACITY
Factoid #1 — BIOMASS COULD PROVIDE 15% OF U.S. ENERGY DEMAND BY 2030:
A joint feasibility study conducted by the US Departments of Agriculture and Energy has concluded that the US has the potential to produce a billion dry tons of biomass per year, while still continuing to meet the nation’s food, feed and export demands.
According to a proposed strategy outlined in the report, biomass from forest and agricultural lands could supply up to 15 per cent of energy demand in the US by 2030.
Download the report, “Biomass as Feedstock for a Bioenergy and Bioproducts Industry: The Technical Feasibility of a Billion-Ton Annual Supply” (April 2005; 78 pages) from either:
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Biomass as Feedstock for a Bioenergy and Bioproducts Industry: The Technical Feasibility of a Billion-Ton Annual Supply
The DOE Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Environmental Science Division, the USDA Forest Service, and the USDA Agricultural Research Service recently collaborated to generate the Biomass as Feedstock for a Bioenergy and Bioproducts Industry: The Technical Feasibility of a Billion-Ton Annual Supply study. In the Biomass R&D Technical Advisory Committee’s Vision for Bioenergy and Biobased Products in the United States, far-reaching goals are set for the contribution of biomass to meet future energy needs. Authors of the feedstock study estimated that one-billion dry tons of biomass resources would be needed to reach these goals. The purpose of the feedstock study is to determine whether United States land resources are capable of sustainably producing that level of biomass resources. The study analyzed resources currently available on agricultural and forest lands and concluded that the U.S. is capable of producing enough biomass to generate the one billion annual dry tons needed to displace 30 percent of the country’s petroleum consumption on a sustainable basis.
Forestlands account for an estimated 33 percent of the America’s 2,263 million acres1. DOE and USDA estimate that 367 million sustainable dry tons of biomass feedstock are available annually from forestlands. This tonnage includes: 52 million dry tons from harvesting for fuel wood, 144 million dry tons from wood processing and pulp and paper mills, 47 million dry tons from urban wood residues, 64 million dry tons from logging and site clearing operations, and 60 million dry tons from forest fire hazard reduction efforts2.
In evaluating the feedstock to be generated from logging and site clearing and fire hazard thinning, the following assumptions were made: all forestland not currently accessible by roadways were excluded; all environmentally sensitive areas were excluded; equipment recovery limitations were considered; and recoverable forest materials categorized as either conventional forest products or biomass for bioenergy and biobased products3.
Agricultural lands are estimated to account for approximately 46 percent of the entire U.S. land base with 26 percent consisting of grassland pasture and range, and 20 percent consisting of cropland4. DOE and USDA estimate that biomass feedstock available from agricultural lands, while still meeting food, feed and export demands, can supply 998 million sustainable dry tons of biomass feedstock annually. The 998 million dry tons includes the following: 428 million dry tons from crop residues, 377 million dry tons from perennial crops, 87 million dry tons of grains for biofuels, and 106 million dry tons from animal manure, process residue, and miscellaneous feedstocks5.
Assumptions made in the agricultural portion of the study include the following: yields of corn, wheat, and other small grains were increased by 50 percent; the residue-to-grain ratio for soybeans increased to two to one; harvest technology was capable of taking 75 percent of annual crop residues; all cropland was managed with no-till methods; 55 million acres of cropland, idle cropland, and cropland pasture were dedicated to the production of perennial bioenergy crops; all manure in excess of that which can be applied on-farm for soil improvement under anticipated EPA restrictions were used for biofuel; and all other available residues were utilized6.
Based on the amount of biomass feedstock available from both forest and agricultural lands, the study concludes that at least 1.3 billion sustainable dry tons are available annually to displace petroleum-based fuels and products. This supply amount can, displacing 30 percent of the current U.S. petroleum consumption, produce enough biofuels to meet more than one-third of the current demand for transportation fuels. Achieving this potential would result in a seven-fold increase in the production of biomass currently used for bioenergy and biobased products, which is estimated to be approximately 142 million dry tons.
Each of these activities illustrates the progress DOE and USDA are making to increase collaboration related to biomass R&D in response to the Biomass R&D Act of 2000.
1 Oak Ridge National Laboratory (US) [ORNL] and United States Forest Service (US) [USFS] and Agricultural Research Service (US) [ARS]. Biomass as Feedstock for a Bioenergy and Bioproducts Industry: The Technical Feasibility of a Billion-Ton Annual Supply. 2005. A feasibility study. Oak Ridge (TN): Oak Ridge National Laboratory [ORNL]; 2005 April. 3 p. Available from: ORNL, Oak Ridge, TN 37831; ORNL/TM – 2005/66
2ibid. xi p.
3ibid. xi-xii p.
4ibid. 3 p.
5ibid. xiii p.
6ibid. xii p.
Factoid #2 — ANNUAL INSTALLATIONS OF ROOFTOP PHOTOVOLTAICS COULD POWER HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF HOMES AND BUSINESSES BY 2010:
In March 2005, the Energy Foundation released a study, “PV Grid Connected Market Potential in 2010 Under a Cost Breakthrough Scenario,” prepared for them by Navigant Consulting and Clean Energy Research. The study was completed in September 2004 and claims to be the first of its kind to do an assessment and estimate of the rooftop solar photovoltaic market potential on a state-by-state basis.
The state-by-state analysis concludes that the potential U.S. market for grid-connected solar rooftop PV could reach 2,900 MW per year by 2010, assuming that the solar industry can achieve a “breakthrough” price of $2.00-$2.50 per installed watt. This would be enough new electricity, brought online in just one year, to power more than 500,000 average U.S. homes.
Moreover, the study found there is enough suitable rooftop space on residential and commercial buildings to sustain this annual level of growth.
Residential and commercial rooftop space in the U.S. could accommodate up to 710,000 MW of solar electric power (if all rooftops were fully utilized, taking into account proper orientation of buildings, shading from trees, HVAC equipment, and other solar access factors). For comparison, total electricity-generating capacity in the U.S. today is about 950,000 MW.
“Solar energy has seen impressive expansion — 36% compounded annual growth for the global solar industry since 1999 — but it has far, far greater potential,” said David Wooley, Vice President at the Energy Foundation. “This new report illustrates that PV could make a significant contribution to future electricity supply in this country. This potential justifies state and federal support in the near term to stimulate new PV manufacturing investment, accelerate growth in system sales, and help reduce the cost of PV systems.”
Key findings from the study show that in 2010:
- At $2.00-2.50 per installed watt, the annual market potential for grid-connected residential and commercial building PV applications is estimated at 2,900 MW, representing an annual market of about $6.6 billion (equipment and installations).
- The Pacific and Mid-Atlantic regions together would account for 52% of the potential residential and commercial sector demand.
- California alone has the potential for about 40% of the total building rooftop market potential–through a combination of favorable sunlight levels and high retail energy prices.
- Other distributed forms of PV electric generation, including ground-mounted PV, car ports, curtain walls (a type of commercial building window), and awnings could further add to the potential identified by Navigant Consulting.
“Unlike most other power generation technologies, PV can be installed on the existing building infrastructure,” said Lisa Frantzis, Director, Navigant Consulting. “This study shows that the available rooftop area can provide enough space to power a significant portion of U.S. electricity needs.”
For additional information, or to download the complete study, go to
Factoid #3 — WIND POWER COULD GENERATE MORE THAN ENOUGH SUSTAINABLE ELECTRICITY TO MEET GLOBAL ENERGY NEEDS:
Stanford University researchers have produced a new study and corresponding map that pinpoints where the world’s winds are fast enough to produce power.
After analyzing more than 8,000 wind-speed measurements to identify the world’s wind-power potential for the first time, Cristina Archer, a former postdoctoral fellow, and Mark Z. Jacobson, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, suggest that wind captured at specific locations, if even partially harnessed, can generate more than enough power to satisfy the world’s energy demands.
The authors found that the locations with sustainable Class 3 winds could produce approximately 72 terawatts. A terawatt is 1 trillion watts, the power generated by more than 500 nuclear reactors or thousands of coal-burning plants. Capturing even a fraction of those 72 terawatts could provide the 1.6 to 1.8 terawatts that made up the world’s electricity usage in 2000. Converting as little as 20 percent of potential wind energy to electricity could satisfy the entirety of the world’s energy demands. The study, supported by NASA and Stanford’s Global Climate and Energy Project, may assist in locating wind farms in regions known for strong and consistent breezes.
The map may help planners place turbines in locations that maximize power harnessed from winds and provide widely available low-cost energy.
“The main implication of this study is that wind, for low-cost wind energy, is more widely available than was previously recognized,” said Archer, now a researcher at the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.
The researchers collected wind-speed measurements from approximately 7,500 surface stations and 500 balloon-launch stations to determine global wind speeds at 80 meters (300 feet) above the ground surface, which is the hub height of modern wind turbines. Using a new interpolation technique to estimate the wind speed at hub height, the authors reported that nearly 13 percent of the stations had average annual wind speeds strong enough for power generation.
Wind speeds of 6.9 meters per second (15 miles per hour) at hub height, referred to as wind power Class 3, were found in every region of the world. Some of the strongest winds were observed in Northern Europe, along the North Sea, while the southern tip of South America and the Australian island of Tasmania also featured sustained strong winds. North America had the greatest wind-power potential, however, with the most consistent winds found in the Great Lakes region and from ocean breezes along coasts. Overall, the researchers calculated hub-height winds traveled over the ocean at approximately 8.6 meters per second and at nearly 4.5 meters per second over land (20 and 10 miles per hour, respectively).
In addition, the researchers suggest that the inland locations of many existing wind farms may explain their inefficiency.
“It is our hope that this study will foster more research in areas that were not covered by our data, or economic analyses of the barriers to the implementation of a wind-based global energy scenario,” Archer said.
Their report appears in the June 2005 “Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres,” a publication of the American Geophysical Union.
The above is a slightly edited version of a news report reprinted from RenewableEnergyAccess.com, June 3, 2005http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/story?id=32617.
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The results, and additional maps, are detailed in the June issue of The Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres.http://www.agu.org/pubs/current/jd/?month=June
“Evaluation of Global Wind Power” by Cristina L. Archer and Mark Z. Jacobson
J. Geophys. Res., Vol. 110, No. D12, D12110
30 June 2005
An abstract of the study can be found at: http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/winds/global_winds.html
A copy of the authors’ manuscript can be downloaded in MS Word (~4 MB) at: http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/winds/Archer2004jd005462.doc or in PDF (~17 MB) at http://www.stanford.edu/group/efmh/winds/2004jd005462.pdf
Factoid #4 — BIOMASS COULD PROVIDE AT LEAST 12 PERCENT OF CALIFORNIA’S ELECTRICITY NEEDS:
The state of California could harvest 34 million bone dry tons of biomass each year on a sustainable basis as a source of renewable energy, according to a report prepared for the California Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research Program.
“The state’s biomass resource is large and diverse,” says the California Biomass Collaborative, author of ‘Biomass Resource Assessment in California in Support of the 2005 Integrated Energy Policy Report.’ This year, the gross annual resource is estimated at 86 million bone dry tons (BDT).
If used for to produce electricity, the gross biomass resource in the state could generate 10,700 MW using current thermal and biological conversion technologies. Of this, 2,100 MW could come from agricultural biomass, 3,600 MW from forestry and 5,000 MW from municipal wastes (including landfill and sewage digester gas.)
“Not all of the resource can, should, or will be used for power, and the technical potential is estimated to be substantially less at close to 4,700 MWe, sufficient to generate 35,000 GWh of electrical energy or roughly 12% of the current statewide demand of 283,000 GWh,” it notes. “With improved conversion efficiencies and growth in municipal, dedicated crop, and some agricultural resources, the state’s annual biomass production might be sufficient to support a potential incremental generation of 7,100 MWe by 2017.”
Without improving efficiencies in generating, incremental potential in 2017 would be closer to 4,800 MW and electrical contributions could reach 60,000GWh by 2017, or 18% of projected statewide consumption of 334,000 GWh “although generation is unlikely to reach this level without significant additional development support and clear market signals, such as long term contracting opportunities.”
Of the gross resource, 25% is from agriculture, 31% from forestry and 44% from municipal solid wastes, it explains. Landfill gas production exceeds 118 billion cubic feet per year (BCF/y) from 1 billion tons of waste in-place, with a potential recovery of 79 billion BCF/y. Biogas from waste-water treatment plants adds 16 to 18 BCF/y and dedicated energy crops might be produced in future but are not included.
“By 2017, gross annual biomass production might approach 100 million BDT, with about 40 million BDT potentially available for use,” it adds.
Agriculture in California generates products worth US$27 billion from 350 different crops, of which five categories comprise the majority of agricultural biomass: orchard and vineyard prunings and removals, field and seed crop residues, vegetable crop residues, animal manures, and food processing wastes. Agricultural biomass is distributed throughout the state, but most heavily concentrated in the Central Valley. The annual production from woody biomass each year is 2.6 million tons from prunings and tree and vine removals from orchards and vineyards, and 1 million tons are currently combusted as fuel in power plants, generally blended with other fuels such as urban wood and forest materials.
Each residents of California produces two tons of municipal wastes per year, and MSW is the single largest resource for biomass in the state. The biomass component of MSW totals 38 million BDT per year from construction and demolition wood residue, paper and cardboard, grass, landscape tree removals, other green waste, food waste, and other organics, but not plastics and tires. The generation rate is 1 BDT of biomass in MSW per person per year in the state.
About 1.5 million BDT per year of clean construction wood are separated from the waste stream and diverted to biomass direct combustion power plants. The total landfill gas generation from 300 major landfills is estimated at between 118 and 156 billion cubic feet per year for a methane concentration of 50%, compared with 2,200 BCF/y for natural gas consumption.
The gross biomass resource in California would be sufficient to generate more than 10,700 MW of electricity, but “not all of the biomass resource can or will be used for power generation” and the current technical potential is “substantially less, closer to 4,700 MW,” it explains. This capacity could generate 35,000 GWh of electricity, or 12% of the 283,000 GWh of electricity currently used in the state.
The cost to generate green power in California is 4.4c/kWh from landfill gas and 4.9c from wind and 5.4c from geothermal, with biomass direct combustion estimated at 6.6c/kWh. Solar thermal is 12c and solar PV is 23c/kWh, it says.
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This summary of the report is reprinted from the July 27, 2005 issue of “Refocus Weekly” found at:http://www.sparksdata.co.uk/refocus/redesign/showdoc.asp?docid=91036623&accnum=1
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The full text of the 54-page report “Biomass Resource Assessment in California in Support of the 2005 Integrated Energy Policy Report – Draft Consultant Report” by the California Biomass Collaborative** for the California Energy Commission Public Interest Energy Research Program (April 2005) can be found in pdf format at:
It is report #CEC-500-2005-066-D and was prepared under contract #500-01-016.
**California Biomass Collaborative Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering
1 Shields Avenue
University of California
Davis, CA 95616
Brian Jenkins – Executive Director
Valentino Tiangco – Project Manager
Factoid #5 — UNTAPPED GEOTHERMAL RESOURCES COULD PROVIDE 25,000 MW OF ELECTRICAL GENERATING CAPACITY:
On August 29, 2005, the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) released data showing the untapped geothermal power potential in the West. This data, extracted from publicly available reports and studies, shows almost 100 undeveloped geothermal power sites. These sites have a total production potential approaching 25,000 MW of electrical generating capacity — enough to meet more than 70% of California’s electricity needs.
GEA pulled together these estimates for the Western Governors’ Association’s (WGA) on-going assessment of the ability of geothermal and other clean energy resources to meet the substantial growth projected in the region’s electric power demand. The data demonstrates significant geothermal potential from identified but undeveloped hydrothermal sites in eleven western states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.
These estimates exclude unknown, undiscovered resources. Substantial undiscovered geothermal resources are expected to exist, and they are generally considered to be much larger. USGS Circular 790, for example, estimated that 72,000 to 127,000 megawatts could be supported by undiscovered hydrothermal resources not included in its assessment. Hydrothermal resources, which use steam or hot water to transfer the geothermal resource from the ground to the power station, are one of the four main types of geothermal resources. Hydrothermal resources are used for geothermal electricity production today, while the other three types, geopressured, hot dry rock, and magma, remain in the initial stages of development.
Sources for the GEA data are: USGS Circular 790 – Assessment of Geothermal Resources in the United States; Supply of Geothermal Power from Hydrothermal Sources: A Study of the Cost of Power in 20 and 40 Years, (Petty S., Livesay B., Long W. & Geyer J., 1992); DOE data extracted from the National Energy Modeling System (NEMS) model and EIA data used for the Annual Energy Outlook 2005 report; and New Geothermal Site Identification and Qualification prepared by GeothermEx Inc. for the California Energy Commission (CEC) and released in April 2004.
The data will be available shortly on the GEA website at: http://www.geo-energy.org. It can also be obtained in spread sheet format by emailing your request to Alyssa Kagel, c/o GEA at firstname.lastname@example.org.