Tag Archives: energy efficiency

Friday Linkage 12/1/2017

Has America gone mad?  I am starting to wonder if this is the moment when this country turns toward ruin because its leadership is so disconnected from anything resembling coherence.  The current tax “reform” legislation winding its way through Congress is a thee day old salad bar of bad ideas cribbed from the plethora of failed Republican economic experiments going back to the 1980s.  The only hope that I have if this passes in anything near its current form is that it finally puts the dagger in the heart of any right winger being able to stand on anything that looks like economic principle.

Of course, I said the same thing when Donald Trump got elected about evangelicals and those clowns are falling in line to support Roy Moore because…’Merica!

On to the links…

Sam Brownback Trolls America: The Guy Who Wrecked Kansas is the GOP’s Role Model—Kansas is an abject failure of a state right now because Sam Brownback decided to remake the state in the image of Paul Ryan’s utopia of low tax, low quality life that he dreamed up while short pouring beers from kegs at fraternity parties.  No seriously bro, Ayn Rand was right about everything!

This Map Shows Exactly How Many Republicans in Your District Don’t Believe in Global Warming—These are the same people selling the lie that trickle down economics works.

How Could the Agung Volcano in Bali Affect Global Temperatures?—James Inhofe just got all excited because he might get to talk about snow in the winter again as some kind of perverted proof that climate change is not real.  No talent ass clown.  Notice the trend in temperatures from the chart?  Short term perturbations do not change the long term trend of warming.

Interior Department Mired in Investigations—In a few years the accounting will hold this current presidential administration as the most inept and corrupt in the history of the United States.  No amount of Twitter insults or Fox & Friends call ins will change the reality.

U.S. Energy Sources and Uses: Everything You Need to Know in One Lovely Chart—This is one of those charts to keep around and reference frequently:

estimated-u-s-energy-consumption-in-2016-graphic-lawrence-livermore-national-laboratory_100634001_l.jpg

Just look at the rejected energy total.  That essentially equals wasted energy.  Efficiency is the holy grail kids.

Solar Panel Prices Plunge by a Shocking 26 Percent in One Year—I thought that the downward trend in solar panel prices would level out, but at this rate we will just be able to put panels on whatever surface is available.  Oh, and wind is getting cheaper too.

U.S. Coal Industry Shows No Sign of Comeback—No matter what Donald Trump, Rick Perry, Scott Pruitt, or any other coal obsessed right wing stooge says coal is not coming back.  It’s fake news to say anything other than coal is in a long downward trend that will be almost impossible to come out of unless the fundamentals of economics change.

Oil and Gas Industry is Causing Texas Earthquakes, a “Landmark” Study Suggests—All that natural gas being pulled from the ground in places like Texas might also have been the cause of the ground literally breaking apart.  Awesome.

A Map of $1.1 Billion in Natural Gas Pipeline Leaks—Just remember, these are the same people who want to build the Keystone XL pipeline and others.

Solar Grid Parity For Australia By 2020 As Renewables Surge—That is just a little over two years away.  This means that in all of Australia solar will cost the same as coal or natural gas regardless of condition.  Now, imagine a scenario where natural gas prices spike.  Are Australians going to go back to coal or put up some more solar panels?

Australia Can Meet CO2 Emissions Target By 2030 With Renewables At Zero Net Cost—Net zero cost is the key term here.  When you replace fossil fuels with renewables you are trading a higher upfront cost for a lower long term cost because you no longer need to buy fuel, which tends to increase in cost as time goes on.  The long term tail costs are often excluded from a lot of comparison models because doing so favors fossil fuels.

Elon Musk bet that Tesla could Build the World’s Biggest Battery in 100 days. He Won.—Say what you will about Elon Musk and his affiliated companies, but the guy does bold in business in an era when bland is the rule of the day.

Iowa Airports Going Green, Saving on Energy Costs—Nearly $650K for a solar photovoltaic system is great.  That puts 240kWh system to make power to be consumed on site.  I think the real story if that just over $200K is being spent to reduce energy consumption by up to 80%.  Granted that project happened over six years ago it shows you the relative power of putting money into energy efficiency.

Look-alike Apartment Buildings in Northeast Minneapolis Showcase New Ideas in Energy Efficiency—Do we really need a demonstration like this to prove the benefits of building a well-designed energy efficient building?

These ‘Chilling’ Soviet Maps of San Francisco, Bay Area Likely Intended for the Communist Takeover—The world seems like a scary place right now, but this is a reminder of just how scary things were during the Cold War.

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Friday Linkage 11/10/2017

Any time one of your elected officials says that regulations supporting clean air and water are unnecessary offer to buy him or her a one way ticket to New Delhi.  Breathe in deep:

08india3-master675.jpg

On to the links…

Why Is America Wasting So Much Energy?—If we wanted to the United States could cut its energy consumption without materially impacting the quality of daily life.  How?  Energy efficiency.  However, we live in a country where elected officials literally fight to maintain outdated technologies like incandescent lightbulbs on the shelves despite being shown significantly better alternatives.  Why?  I am sure it will come down to freedom and some other right wing word soup.

America’s Pathetic Autocrat—We have come to a point where the thing that is keeping America somewhat whole is that the Trump administration is the single most incompetent presidential administration in recorded history.

The New Coal Crisis—Everyone with half a brain and an interest in good health knows that coal is a public health problem.  Burning coal puts bad stuff in the air, mining coal scars the land, and the remainders left behind by coal combustion foul the water.  How could the Trump administration get behind such a dirty fuel?

Powerful Lawmaker who Wants to ‘invalidate’ the Endangered Species Act is Getting Close—The right wing is in the last throes of its ectasy from the Trump victory and is hoping to lodge a few more grenades in the direction of progress before the United States wakes up to the realization that Republicans are really just gangsters or robber barons.

Rick Perry’s Strange Sex Story—Just when you thought that it was impossible for Rick Perry to do something even more stupid than something he had done in the past…he, well, opens his mouth to speak.  This might be the crowning achievement of his public career.

Extreme Athletes Are Braving the Harshest Environments on Earth For Science—In the absence of actual science being done by organizations charged with the practice, e.g. the EPA under Scott “I Like Oil, A Lot” Pruitt, citizen scientists are trying to fill in some of the void.

He Was a Professional Climate Denier. Then He Switched Sides.—These people are paid well to lie to the public.

Cost of Wind keeps Dropping, and There’s Little Coal, Nuclear can do to Stop It—The market has spoken.  The people have spoken.  Coal and nuclear can fight a rearguard action for a few years, maybe even a decade, but there is little that can be done to stop the march of history and progress.

The Zombie Diseases of Climate Change—If the idea of smallpox, frozen in polar tundra for centuries, does not frighten you consider that an outbreak of smallpox would probably make preppers’ nightmares come true.

Four Dams in the West are Coming Down — A Victory Wrapped in a Defeat for Smart Water Policy—The irony is that this is something that all parties wanted, but Congress just stepped on its own dick again by not finishing the proper authorizations to complete the process.

Add Cargo Shipping to the List of Industries Contributing to Global Warming—This is why one of the most powerful things you can do for the planet is to stop buying crap.  Why?  The global supply chain is dirty as hell.

Thousands of Idled, Dirty Railroad Cars Are Littering the American Landscape—The irony is that if these railroad cars were parked in urban areas where people could actually see them I am sure that something would be done.  This is regardless of them sitting on private property.

Richard Branson is Planning to Rebuild the Caribbean with Clean Energy—I will believe it when I see it.  I have a feeling that there will be beautiful solar panels on vacation homes and resorts, but nothing for the people who actually live and work on these islands.

The Ecolabel Fable—This is why I believe that knowing your producers, e.g. local providers, is more important than trusting a label.  Sure, I cannot know my coffee producer in Eastern Iowa so I will have to rely on a label but I can know who raises the pigs for bacon and the chickens for eggs.

How Flawed Science Helped turn Chocolate into a Health Food—It’s like those links promising the beer diet. Sad.  Fake news!

Demand Destruction from Home

Demand destruction is what coal mining companies, utilities, and anyone who benefits from a centrally controlled power grid dreads.  Why?  Demand destruction represents an existential threat to the entire business model of these entities.

Consider the state of Iowa’s electricity generation mix and my recently installed solar photovoltaic system.  Iowa’s electricity generation mix breaks down like this for April of 2017:

Iowa Energy Chart.gif

In Iowa non-hydroelectric renewables usually equals wind given the relatively low penetration of solar photovoltaic generation.  Another caveat is that the wind tends to blow strongly in the spring and demand for electricity has not spiked with the onset of the summer air conditioning season.

Now consider the impact of a solar photovoltaic system, mine or someone else’s.  When that demand leaves the grid, so to speak, what generation sources do you think will be curtailed?  In order I think it would be coal, nuclear, natural gas, and finally wind.  Why?  Wind turbines do not have a recurring fuel cost, so the cost to retire them does not include a perpetuity of fuel cost baked in which can be a significant driver for an asset with a long life.

In other terms, do you keep generating power by paying to burn a fuel or just harvest the wind for free?  In business school the number one lesson I learned in marketing was to not compete with free.  You will lose every time.

So, as demand disappears from the grid as a result of distributed residential solar the traditional fossil fuel sources are forced to compete with installed and cheap wind power for a dwindling number of customers.  I exaggerate to some degree to get the point across, but in Iowa this may not be such a moot point given the plans for wind power development in the next three years.

Depending upon how you measure it Iowa has more than 6,900 megawatts of wind power providing anywhere from 35% to 40% of the state’s electricity.  This is great news in and of itself, but the state’s two major utilities—MidAmerican Energy and Alliant Energy—have announced investments for an additional 3,000 megawatts or more by 2020.  Just with these additions—barring any additional activity by other energy players—would bring Iowa nearly 10,000 megawatts of wind power and give the state the capacity to produce more than 50% of its electricity from the wind.  This is without a significant portion of the state’s electricity demand being displaced by distributed residential solar or energy efficiency.

As you can see from the chart that when the wind blows heavily, which it tends to do in the spring, wind is already the largest source of electricity generation in the state.  That trend was true for February, March, and April of 2017. This is only going to grow in the future.

Our homes can be the drivers of change for a cleaner and greener world.

Friday Linkage 8/28/2015

I encountered one of the most disheartening sounds in the world this week. On an aborted bike ride my tire made the noise of a full on blow out. This is not the gentle hiss of a pinch flat or a small puncture, but the full throated blast of air and the realization that you are walking home. Why walking? Because the tread area on my well-worn Kenda Kwicks was torn through. Whatever I ran across was bad news.

On to the links…

Here’s What Happens When you Try to Replicate Climate Contrarian Papers—Let me spoil the punch line: you can’t replicate the results.

Shocking: Prominent Climate Denier gets Money from Big Coal—Shocking? Not so much. Christopher Horner is a paid shill of the fossil fuel industry. Anything that comes out of his mouth is little more than coal stained propaganda.

The Incredible Shrinking Mineral: How It Went from King Coal to Coal Kills—If I was confident I would start playing “Taps.” Coal is not dead yet, but with continued pressure and an unfavorable market the dirty fuel may be in its final death spiral.

NYC Rooftops Could Host 11 GW of High-Yield Solar ProjectsMapdwell’s work on modelling what solar could do in eastern cities is some pretty amazing work. Think about 11 GW of solar power in America’s largest city. Now multiply that across other major cities in the U.S. like Chicago, Los Angeles, Denver, and so on.

California’s 40 Years Of Energy Efficiency Efforts Have Saved $90 Billion In Utility Costs—California has been a leader in trying to get people to use less electricity and it has worked. Furthermore, those efforts have trickled out—not trickle down because I do not believe in voodoo environmentalism—to the rest of the nation due to California’s sheer market heft.

Here’s Where The Rubber Hits The Road (Natural Guayule Rubber — Updated)—Apparently, rubber is a big import for the United States and we have been looking for a domestic alternative since before World War II. It also looks like guayule—a shrub that is drought and pest tolerant—could provide a significant offset to our imported rubber habit. Interesting.

New Study Finds Horse and Beaver in Grocery Store Ground Meat—As if you needed another reason to stay away from the case of ground beef at your local grocery store—pink slime anyone?—along comes the knowledge that we may actually be eating horse or beaver. Freaking beaver?

Salad Seems Really Virtuous, Right? It’s Not.—Salad, it turns out, is really just leafy green water. By the time we pick a few leaves out of that plastic clamshell most of the nutrition is gone. Never mind the fact that people end up throwing away tons of salad greens every year. Just go with the frozen peas.

Butter In Your Coffee and Other Cons: Stories From a Fitness Insider—I am really glad that people are calling bullshit on the people behind so-called Bulletproof coffee and food fads. If someone is trying to sell you something it is high time to get a move on. It’s probably bullshit.

28 Historic Photos of Yosemite to Celebrate its 125th Anniversary—Sometimes we forget to appreciate the amazing places we can visit right here in the U.S. Take a moment and appreciate the sheer awesomeness of Yosemite.

Friday Linkage 2/13/2015

It’s amazing that the one state I do not wish to visit is the one where I get sent most often on business travel. Work has sent me to Florida over the course of three different jobs supporting three completely different business units. It’s like someone wants me to bask in the warm glow of Rick Scott’s smile:

rick_scott

Spooky.

On to the links…

The FBI Is Making House Calls to Keystone XL Opponents—This is bad news and what the people behind Green is the New Red have been saying for years. Law enforcement has perverted terrorism and homeland security rules at the behest of industry to monitor the activities of completely lawful groups and citizens.

EU Energy Consumption Level Falls to 20-Year Low—Energy efficiency can and does work. Believe it.

India Plans 1 GW Solar Power Capacity Through State-Owned Companies—India is going big when it comes to renewables. Like really big.

India Issues Draft Guidelines For 2 GW Solar PV Auction—See, it keeps going bigger.

India Plans 4.2-Gigawatt Wind and Solar Energy Park—It feels like a the Lorax…keep biggering and biggering.

Starving Sea Lion Pup Strandings Surge in California—Maybe we need to consider the possibility that human actions are causing the oceans to die. I know, it’s a crazy thought for a lot of people. Like the world being round and vaccines being a good idea.

Cooking Can’t Solve the Threat of Invasive Species—The sad fact is that we can hunt a lot of species to extinction, but the ones we should excise from certain ecosystems are likely to be persistent problems despite our appetites.

The Dangerous Chemical Lurking in Your Beer Can—So, aluminum might mess up my hormones and glass is a nightmare for the environment. What’s a drinking man to do? Maybe, refillable glass growlers from your local craft brewery is the only answer. Big Grove Brewery here I come.

The rise of ‘Made by China’ in America—Globalization is a hell of a thing. Trends reverse, commonly held beliefs get laid waste to, and strange things happen.

Rock Around the Doc: Here’s What an Anti-Vaxxer Band Sounds Like—How is this even a thing?

Friday Linkage 11/28/2014

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday enjoyed with the company of family and friends. I also hope that no one participated in the ridiculous shopping creep that has taken over the former holiday in the interest of more consumerism. This is the time of year when I tend to huddle indoors with my kids, wait for the worst to be over, and emerge on the other side of Christmas with the blank stare of apocalypse survivors.

On to the links…

Lean Times Ahead: Preparing for an Energy-Constrained Future—Look around and imagine what your immediate world would look like if energy were not available at the flick of a switch. What would it be like if you could not just turn up the thermostat a few degrees? It’s a possible future.

Wind Energy Provides More Than Two-Thirds of New US Generating Capacity in October—This is important because as older, dirtier plants go off line the generating capacity is being replaced with green energy. Even more telling is that for the balance of 2014 over 44% of new generation capacity has come from wind.

Biggest Ever Offshore Wind Energy Auction, Up To 5 Gigawatts—Now, let’s imagine some serious offshore wind power being sited near clusters of coastal populations.

Community Solar Prices at All-Time Low—Community solar is awesome because it gives people access to solar power who may not have the capital for an entire system or a site for a system. It also reduces the cost of the system per watt because the amount of solar being installed is so large. An economy of scale, if you will.

America Could Get 10 Percent Of Its Energy From Solar Power By 2030—Why does this need to wait until 2030? It’s not like America does not have enough roofs or parking lots to cover in solar panels. Make it happen.

UK’s First ‘Poo Bus’ Hits the Road—Once you get past the “ick” factor, biogas is a drop in replacement for natural gas. Considering the infrastructure already exists for natural gas it makes no sense why we are not making more biogas.

NRG Energy Committed To Cut Its Emissions In Half—These are commitments without overarching government regulation. Change can happen. I just do not know if it can happen fast enough.

Merchants of Doubt Film Exposes Slick US Industry Behind Climate DenialI’ve suggested you read the book, but now you can sit down with a bellyful of food and soda to get the same message.

Can Whole Foods Change the Way Poor People Eat?—Can a single retail store change the behavior of an entire neighborhood? I do not know, but Whole Foods in Detroit can only be a good thing. What bad can come of it?

Grade 9 Blogger takes on Big Sugar at a School Presentation—There is nothing like corporations getting owned by adolescents.

A Power Plant in California Goes Quiet, but the Stacks Still Tower—I have relatives in Cayucos, so Morro Bay is a familiar site to me. The three smokestacks, while incongruous to the natural landscape, seem almost inseparable in an odd way.

Friday Linkage 9/12/2014

Oh man, did the weather ever turn into fall this week. Night time temperatures dipped to near 40 degrees on Thursday night and we are in for more of the same come the weekend. After a mild summer I am hoping that this is not a harbinger of a harsh winter to come on the heels of last year’s sucker punch of a snow season.

On to the links…

America’s First Cellulosic Biofuel Plant To Use Corn Waste Is Open In Iowa—Is ethanol made from non-food feedstock a viable part of our energy future?   I do not know if anyone has a definitive answer because no large scale plants have come one line to test the commercial feasibility of the process. The opening of a plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa is a first step.

The U.S. Added More New Capacity For Solar Than For Natural Gas In The First Half Of 2014—Remember, each solar panel represents demand destruction. Or, another nail in the coffin of the fossil fuel industry. That’s what I see when someone installs solar…little coal coffins.

Bad News for Obama: Fracking May Be Worse Than Burning Coal—Natural gas, the supplies of which have swelled because of fracking, may not be the clean-ish bridge fuel that we were hoping for just a few years ago. Never mind the groundwater contamination and lifestyle destruction from the actual fracking because the release of other gasses may be worse. Great.

America’s Coal-Fired Divide—People may think it is a rifle that someone will pull from their cold, dead hands but the truth is more likely to be coal.

Why Energy Efficiency Is The Most Important Fuel We Didn’t Know We Had—Energy efficiency is not sexy. It does not make the news. It does not sell books or speeches. It is putting a sweater on during the winter, which is a buzzkill. Sorry Jimmy Carter. But, it is very effective because it is immediate and cheap.

Abandoned California Oil And Gas Field Will Soon Be A Solar Farm—Think about the solar potential of brown field developments. No one wants to live on top of a landfill, so why not put some solar down?

California Encourages West-facing Solar Panels—Not only does putting solar panels on the west facing roof maximize peak use energy, it also opens up a lot more potential roofs for residential solar PV.

5 Egregious Eco Crimes Committed by the Koch Brothers—These guys are the gifts that keep on giving. Never mind the eco crimes for a minute. Consider just how much money they have spent to promote their pet causes and the return on that spending. Ouch. Keep the ATM for whacko candidates coming guys.

David Keeps Winning: 10 Recent Victories That Will Give You Hope for the Planet—Does any victory matter is we win a bunch of battles but lose the war to climate change?

China’s Battle Plans in War on Air Pollution under Scrutiny—Is anything the Chinese government says believable? Blue sky days with impenetrable smog is the more likely scenario. Nothing to see here, move along.

Hustle and Flow: Here’s Who Really Controls California’s Water—Marc Reisner nailed California and the West’s water politics in his book Cadillac Desert and the truth remains to this day. Water is power and money in the arid American west.

Obama Outperforms Reagan On Jobs, Growth And Investing—Can we stop the myth making around Ronald Reagan? He raised taxes. Fact. The number of people employed by the government grew under his administration. Fact. He dealt with terrorists and dictators. Fact.

General Mills to buy Annie’s Naturals for $820 million—Big organic just swallowed another player, but considering the size of the acquisition I have to wonder if Annie’s Naturals was really already part of big organic. Hmmm….

Let’s Stop Idealizing the Home-Cooked Family Dinner—The mythology of the family dinner is strong. It’s not about the dinner, but about the time a family can spend together without distraction. The dinner table is just an agreed upon place and time for the interaction to occur.

How to Become a Food Bank Gardener—There has got to be a way to harness people’s love of growing food and people’s need for healthy, fresh food.

Sorry, Raw Sugar Is No Better for You Than Refined—I remember people pouring packet after packet of Sugar in the Raw into their coffee during graduate school. It was acceptable on some level because it was not white sugar. Too bad it’s all just sugar to our guts.