Tag Archives: emissions

Friday Linkage 6/29/2018

If anyone does not believe that elections matter, consider that Donald Trump—a man wholly unfit to be president who lost an election by over three million votes—will get to choose the second Supreme Court justice of his presidency.  By the end of four years of this man the United States may no longer be a country that I recognize.

On to the links…

The Dangers of Distracted Parenting—The world would be better is everyone were just a little more present in the “real.”  I cannot count how many times I have been in a bar or restaurant and seen entire tables of people staring into their phones’ screens.  It is insanity.

She Spoke out About Climate Change—and They Tried to Make Her Pay for It—Sarah Myhre is right.  Science has always been political.  There is a reason why religious authorities persecuted scientists.  Empirical observations served to undermine the authority of the religious entity because their authority was based on a flawed text interpreted over the course of generations. Nothing has really changed.

News of Scott Pruitt’s ‘quid pro quo’ Condo Deal Raises Questions about Criminal Law Violations—Does anyone actually think that Scott Pruitt or any other member of the Trump administration would actually be prosecuted for doing something criminal?  This is the most ethically and criminally compromised presidency in American history and the Republican party is allowing it to run amok with no oversight.  Do you remember when the process in which Hillary Clinton handled her emails was considered the height of impropriety?

Scott Pruitt Was So Sloppy Telling Oil Execs and Cronies He Could Get Them Hired, It’s Embarrassing—This fucking guy:

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Scott Pruitt’s “Tactical Pants” Scandal, Very Briefly Explained—It’s not nearly as much fun as his lotion runs or his attempts to buy a used mattress or his attempts to weasel a chicken franchise for his wife or…well, it is Scott Pruitt and every week brings a new scandal.

How Trump is Letting Polluters Off the Hook, in One Chart—When the EPA is run by an industry toadie more interested in finding his special lotion to keep his skin soft while he lounges in his used bed this is the result:

POLLUTER_FINES_BY_PRESIDENT

Ethically compromised is one thing, but being just downright pathetic at your job is turning out to be a Trumpian trait du jour.

The Argument for Fracking as a Climate Solution Just Went Down in Flames—Methane is a bad climate actor and mismanaged wells are releasing a lot of methane.  Sorry folks, but fracked natural gas is not the bridge fuel to the future.  It’s just another fossil fuel bait and switch.

Investigators say China is Behind Illegal CFC Emissions—Maybe Donny two scoops will add this to his list of grievances with China or he will just use it as a another lever to extract payoffs from the Chinese for a project somewhere in the world.

UPS Places Order For 950 Workhorse N-GEN Electric Delivery Vans—Before we spend a lot of time and energy electrifying personal automobiles, the government should focus its efforts on converting the fleets of commercial vehicles to electric.  These are large buyers of vehicles, so one sales pitch can lead to a lot of sales, that are very sensitive to fuel cost fluctuation.

Will the Boomers Leave Us Bust?—Let me skip to the punch line: if baby boomers have to give an inch to save future generations they will fight tooth and nail to preserve that inch because they are the most self-centered generation in American history.  As the, hopefully, last baby boomer president wreaks havoc on the national and international order it is starting to look like a multi-decade fixer upper job for those of use left.

Goats Used For Colorado Wildfire Mitigation—The world just might be a better place if we spent more time thinking about goats.  Everyone else can worry about Trump today.  I am going to spend my day thinking about goats.

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April had a Solar Turnaround

Black Friday used to be a big deal in retail because it signified the moment during the year when the establishment turned “into the black” or profitable for the year.  The rest of the holiday shopping season was the profit for the enterprise for the year.  It seems a little doubtful that this story is entirely true, but in this age of Amazon let us give legacy retail its moment.

April was my Black Friday for solar.  Check out picture one:

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And compare that with picture two:

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What’s the big deal?  My bi-drectional electric meter is showing that I consumed (picture 1) less than I have produced (picture 2) since the meter was installed in August last year.  April was a really good month for solar and, just as importantly, a low month for consumption:

April 2018 Solar

April 2018 was the system’s best full month thus far and I am looking forward to the next four months of big production.  Based on my back of the napkin calculations, which are the best kind, I clawed back into net positive energy production by producing a little more than 270 kWh more than I consumed.  Assuming May is not extreme in any way weather wise I should be able to best my consumption from April given how brutal that month was with late season snow and cold.  You can see where the snowstorms rolled in last month when the solar production dropped off.

The Best Way to Cut Your Emissions is to Stop Driving and Start Biking

Depending upon how you calculate the numbers transportation is now the greatest source of emissions in the United States:

Transportation Emissions

No matter the degree to which we decarbonize are electric grid the effort will be for naught if we do not begin to address the emissions that are a result of our transportation choices.  Transportation emissions come from a lot of sources—personal automobiles, delivery vehicles, mass transit, etc.  The most direct control that we have over transportation emissions is to control how much we drive personal automobiles.  If we do not drive our vehicles do not produce emissions.  It is a fairly simple calculus.

A gallon of gasoline produces approximately 20 pounds of carbon dioxide when combusted. The average fuel economy for a new car is 23.4 miles per gallon.   Simple math gives you 0.85 pounds of carbon dioxide produced for each mile driven.  Considering that the U.S. is such a truck/SUV/crossover/whatever market I am going to round that up to one pound of carbon dioxide produced for every one mile driven.

Do not drive a mile, save a pound.  It is a direct, one-for-one relationship in my mind and it makes for a fairly simple accounting of progress.

The average American drivers puts 13,474 miles per year in behind the wheel or, according to my simple math, creates 13,474 pounds of carbon dioxide via combustion to drive.  That is a lot of carbon dioxide.  To put it into comparison, the solar array on my home that went active last August is calculated to have saved approximately 3,350 pounds of carbon dioxide in just over seven months.  If the average driver reduced miles driven by approximately 25% the savings would be roughly the same.  This is why we have to address our addiction to fossil fuels in the transportation sector in order to have any significant impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and arresting climate change.

My goal for the next nine months is to drive less than 2,500 miles in total.  Why 2,500 miles?  It’s the length of time, in miles, until my next oil change.  Why nine months?  It’s the length of time, in months, before my next trip to Colorado. Everything seemed to line up in such a way to make this an easy target to measure and understand.  This would also put me on pace to drive approximately 5,000 miles per year including regular trips to Colorado.

A goal of 5,000 miles per year or less would mean a reduction of almost 63% versus the average American driver and a similar reduction in carbon emissions.  Now imagine a world where the United States reduced its emissions from transportation by 63%.  Wow.

It is not just a story about emissions.  Personal automobiles are expensive.  Most people do not realize the full costs of driving in a way that is easily quantified.  You could spend a lot of time calculating the actual cost per mile of driving for your particular situation or you could just let the IRS do the leg work.  For 2017 the IRS has set the “mileage rate” at 53.5 cents per mile.

In my particular case nine months of driving will cost $1338.  However, every trip to work that I replace with a bicycle trip will save me $6.  Greenhouse gas emissions are hard to imagine.  Six dollars in my pocket every time I decide to commute to work on the dirt wagon is concrete.  Somewhere along the way I am going to translate these savings into a Chris King headset for my bike.

I anticipate a degree of failure, but I feel that I will make little progress toward an ambitious goal unless I make some sort of public proclamation.

March Brought Over 400 kWh of Solar Electricity

For the month of March my solar photovoltaic system produced just a hair over 424 kWh of electricity, which stands as my second best full month since my system went active in the last week of August 2017.  A few things stand out from the month:

Image-1 (2)

Notice the two major dips in production?  That is the impact of some spring snowfall that covered my panels under at least six inches of heavy, wet snow.  It just goes to show the potential value of a snow rake in upping my production next winter.

The other thing that is interesting, but is not something readily apparent in the production chart, is that the month was just generally more productive each day.  Granted, the days are longer in March.  However, I think that there is something to be said for the intensity of the solar radiation being higher as we head into spring.  The winter months in Iowa are known for being heavily cloud covered and this reduces the overall productivity of the solar system.

The last week, as the sun stays bright until after 7:00 PM, I have noticed that the system is producing well in excess of 3 kWh into the late afternoon/early evening.  This bodes well for the coming summer months when the array will be getting hit with the sun fairly heavily from noon until sunset.

Friday Linkage 3/30/2018

Spring is here in Iowa and that means…well, it initially meant six inches of snow followed by a lot of rain.  It also means that one day is sunny and 50 degree while the next day starts out with fog and mid-teens temperatures.

If you do not like the weather, just wait fifteen minutes is what every farmer in the state will tell you over a cup of coffee.  I always want to ask, “Who actually likes any of this weather?”

On to the links…

Public Lands are being Sold in Secret on the Internet—This is what you get when a corrupt businessman becomes president and appoints corrupt politicians to run agencies like the Department of the Interior.  Scream about Hillary’s emails all day long, but the real scandals that have occurred and will occur under the current administration will take a generation to unpack.

Zinke Creates New Outdoor Recreation Panel Made up of Industry Advisers—This is the best government that money can buy.  Trump did not drain the swamp, he appointed every Swamp Thing that he could find to help him loot our country.

The EPA ousted Science Advisers. Now it’s Going after the Science Itself.—You would not want actual science to get in the way of good talking points delivered to your desk by the filthy hand of the oil and gas lobby.

Scott Pruitt’s “Dirty Dealings” Stir a Campaign to Oust Him From the EPA—Is anyone surprised by this?  Trump appointed a guy to lead the Department of Energy who wanted to get rid of the department even though he had little idea of what the department actually did.  Scott Pruitt is a corrupt stooge.

Trump Wanted to Slash Funding for Clean Energy. Congress Ignored Him.—It turns out that a lot of people and, thus, a lot of members of Congress like clean energy.  Despite what the head cheese puff in charge says America is trying to move forward.

Study Predicts Major Expansion of Offshore Wind Along Atlantic Coast—The lead of the story is everything you need to know: “Almost every state along the Atlantic coast — 12 out of 14 — has offshore wind potential that exceeds its current electricity needs, according to a new study.”  Well, why don’t we get a move on?

Unprofitable Coal Plants now Play ‘Game of Chicken’ to Survive—Think about the statement “half of U.S. coal capacity ran at a loss last year.”  That is to say that half of the U.S. coal plants, measured by capacity not installations, did not make money last year.

California said to be Preparing to Retaliate if Trump Cuts Emissions Rules—Trump and his cronies may think that they have the upper hand here, but it has been fought in court that California has the legal right to set its own stricter emissions standards as their efforts predate federal efforts.  Trump will insist that he has the best people and that they will win in court.

Global Carbon Emissions could be Cut 3 percent by Following the UK’s Example—3% may not sound like a lot, but it is a start.

SoftBank and Saudi Arabia to Build World’s Biggest Solar Farm—The numbers on this project are stunning.  200 GW of solar.  That is almost three times what the entire country of Saudi Arabia generates in electricity today regardless of source.

Landfills: A Future Source of Raw Materials—Can you imagine a future where autonomous robots “mine” landfills for the raw materials that generations before us threw away as garbage?

Rep. Jeff Backer Tries to Blame Minnesota’s Ag Pollution on… Goose Shit—This is what you get when you elect politicians who proclaim, “I am not a scientist.”  This is usually said right before talking about something which a scientist would have a more valuable opinion than an elected hack.

Brewers Association Reports 5% Volume Growth for U.S. Craft Brewers in 2017—At least this is some good news:

beer chart

Friday Linkage 3/23/2018

Back in the saddle, so to speak.  Coming back to work after more than a week off is hard.  It seems to be getting harder and harder to come back to work after anytime off, however, which leads me to believe that I am due for a life change.  Maybe I will embrace the ski bum life in my 40s?

On to the links…

Documents Show Ryan Zinke Ignored Public Support for Bears Ears in Favor of Oil and Gas—This is going to be an interesting race over the next few months: Between Ryan Zinke and Scott Pruitt, who will be the most corrupt member of President Trump’s cabinet?  My money used to be on Pruitt, but now I am not so sure.

Ryan Zinke Claims Wind Energy Contributes to Global Warming—I know that the next line is, “I’m not a scientist.”  But, WTF?

EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Held ‘Courtesy Call’ Meeting with Big Trump Donor—In any other administration this is called corruption, but in Trump’s America it is standard operating procedure.  Pay for access?  You betcha!

A Whopping 86% of RNC Venue Rental and Catering Expenditures Last Month went to Trump Properties—The Republican Party is now the party of Trump, grifters, and con men.  Corruption is the order of the day.

The World Added Nearly 30 Percent More Solar Energy Capacity in 2017—Yes, the growth rate is down from the prior years.  However, this is still a big number.

Ireland will Phase out Coal by 2025—Another one bites the dust.

20% of US Population Produces 46% of Food-Based Emissions—My dad used to be a fanatic for the 80-20 rule.  That is to say you can get 80% of the benefit of something with 20% of the effort.  Or, if you are a business professor, 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers.  This is not quite as severed, but it goes to show that relatively small percentages of the population are responsible for an outsize volume of emissions.

Large-Scale Animal Agriculture Is Threatening Rural Communities. Congress Is About to Make it Worse.—Here is a thought exercise.  What has Congress made better over the last few years?  Name one thing.

How Millennials are Changing Home Design—Maybe the headline should read, “How Millennials are Realizing that Most Homes are Just too damn Big!”

What’s Quelling the Anxiety of Electric-Car Drivers?—Charging corridors, increasingly common vehicles on the road, actual experience with an EV…these are the things that tipping points are made from and we are seeing reality on the road.  I actually saw a Tesla Model 3 in western Nebraska off I-80 on the way to Colorado over spring break.  It had Illinois plates and was heading west.  Road tripping in an EV.

The Last Male Northern White Rhino in the World has Died—Shit, that sucks.

Friday Linkage 9/8/2017

Labor Day week and the links are a little light.  Maybe I spent too much time reading about DACA, Hurricane Irma, and the forthcoming Iowa vs. Iowa State football game to really get my head into other news stories.

On to the links…

This EPA Statement Reads Like Something You’d Find in Breitbart—In a few years when the Trump Administration is little more than a steaming pile of bad memories the lasting damage will be unwound slowly and shit like this will just make us cringe in collective disbelief.  It is amazing that a group of politicians who accuse everyone outside their circle of being “fake news” is probably the largest source of bullshit every spewed from the West Wing.

Potential Carbon Capture Game Changer Nears Completion—Natural gas as a source of electricity is here to stay for a while, so if we could find a way to effectively and economically capture the carbon released as a result of combustion it could be a pathway to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Power Company Kills Nuclear Plant, Plans $6 Billion in Solar, Battery Investment—This happened in Florida, which is a state as hostile to a good idea as any that exists.  Heck, it’s a state that has elected Rick Scott to be its governor more than once.

How Tennessee’s Taken the Politics Out of Renewable Energy—Make it about choosing economically efficient solutions that provide renewable energy and even red states like Tennessee can get behind the green revolution.

Huge Tunisian Solar Park Hopes to Provide Saharan Power to Europe—The numbers are staggering.  4.5GW of solar is a monster number.  However, the dreams of tapping the Sahara Desert to power Europe always seem to be just a little out of reach.

After its Dams Came Down, a River is Reborn—The Elwha River will be a test case for dam removal going forward and it looks like an amazing success story.  Nature will find a way.