Tag Archives: Germany

Friday Linkage 5/12/2017

Is this how it ends?  With a complicit Congress, an ineffective opposition party, and an egomaniac in the White House do we end up miles down the road to tyranny in just a few years?  Or does America pull its collective head out of its ass and do something about the ridiculous state of affairs?

Considering how well things went during the prelude to the Civil War I do not have the highest hopes for a peaceful decade.  Maybe Dwayne Johnson really will be our next president.  Or Michelle Obama.

On to the links…

EPA Dismisses 5 Scientists from Key Review Panel—Let me guess what the industry panel members are going to recommend…regulation bad…oil and gas good…EPA bad…emissions are good for you…money is even better…and so on.  Your government is owned by fossil fuels and Russians.

Here’s How Easy It Is to Get Trump Officials to Click on a Fake Link in Email—I imagined that it would be as easy as saying “Click here to support Bill O’Reilly against all those evil women.”

Watch Anderson Cooper Roll His Eyes at Kellyanne Conway As She Tries to Defend Trump—And the Oscar goes to Anderson Cooper:

vsnkrj6v4aewbfxa43fu.gif

A New Book Ranks the Top 100 Solutions to Climate Change. The Results are Surprising.—Maybe the solutions are within our grasp.  Drawdown is on my reading list at the library.  I just happen to be about ten people back in the queue.

Remorseless Coal Baron Gets Out Of Prison, Has Twitter Meltdown Over Mine Disaster—Do you notice a trend with Donald Trump and other narcissists like Don Blankenship?  In their mind’s eye he or she is never wrong.  Even when convicted in a court of law and sent to prison he is going back to the well that he did nothing wrong.

With a Letter a Day, West Virginian Tried to Remind Coal Executive of his Role in 29 Deaths—Don Blankenship was complicit in the conditions that directly led to the death of 29 people.  He does not care nor did he ever care about actual human beings in his employ as long as the coal kept coming out of the mountains and the profits kept flowing to bank accounts.

California’s Drought May Be Over, But Its Water Troubles Aren’t—Judging long term climatic conditions based on a single season is a bad idea.  Climate scientists, hydrologists, and anyone with half a brain has always said that but as California “exits” the recent drought it needs saying even more.

California Set an Ambitious Goal for Fighting Global Warming. Now Comes the Hard Part—The goals are ambitious.  We have to hope that California can be the model for the rest of the states because there will be no guidance from the capital.

Could Trump Dismantle the American West?—Why don’t we just come out and say that Donald Trump is bad for America?  Who stands to benefit from anything that has happened in Washington D.C. recently?  Jared Kushner maybe.

The First U.S. Offshore Wind Farm Just Shut Down a Diesel Plant—It’s not a huge victory, but every dirty power generation source that we can shut down is a victory.  In the age of Trump and Pruitt I will take what I can get.

Iceland’s “Thor” Volcano Power Plant can Generate 10X More Energy than Oil or Gas Wells—Geothermal is the odd cousin who comes to your wedding who turns out to be a pretty cool guy that makes the weekend all the more fun.  This geothermal plant is the rock star cousin who owns the weekend.

Germany Breaks A Solar Record — Gets 85% Of Electricity From Renewables—These headlines are a little misleading, but generating this much renewable energy for this large an economy is a big deal.

Arrogance of Space—People ask me why I think bikes are such a great way to get around.  If I had to pick one photo to illustrate many of the reasons it would be this:

33742909153_6cbfaba4ae_z.jpg

Imagine what our infrastructure costs would look like if we were managing a world of cyclists instead of a world of single occupancy automobiles.  Believe it!

Dan Barber on the Future of Food—Dan Barber can get a little preachy, but so can Michael Pollan and Anthony Bourdain but I still listen to what they have to say about food.  Dan Barber is no different.  His thoughts on food matter because he is an influencer of chefs and what not the world over.

Advertisements

Friday Linkage 12/2/2016

It’s December.  The snowpack is slow to build—damn you climate change—but there is hope that by the holidays lots of terrain in the mountains will be open for skiing and riding.  We still live in Trumplandia.  However, it is important to remember that there are still many good things in this world to celebrate amidst the doom and gloom.  It is also critically important to remember that we need to fight the agenda of man who got over two million fewer votes than his opponent and a man from Wisconsin who wants to roll back the safety net to resemble some sort of Ayn Rand wet dream.

On to the links…

Under Trump, NASA May Turn a Blind Eye to Climate Change—The thing that scares me the most about the next few years is that there is going to a chilling effect on scientific inquiry through the executive and legislative branches use of their budgeting and bullying powers.  The House may not end up holding hearings on Trump’s many conflicts of interest, but I am almost certain that scientists will be dragged before committees to testify about science by people with no knowledge of science.

Outdoor Industry will be Added to the Calculus of the US GDP—Inclusion in this calculation will allow for the outdoor industry to make the same claims to job creation at the national level like other industries.  It is a major win because it gives the industry additional clout when lobbying for legislation.

These 6 Unexpected Countries Are Going Renewable—Despite what happens in the United States over the course of the next two years—I am hoping for some electoral retribution related to an extreme right wing agenda spearheaded by Paul Ryan—the world is moving forward with a clean energy revolution.

What Happened To Germany’s Energy Transformation?—The answer is…nothing.  It is happening.  It just happens to be maturing as would be expected.  In 2015 the entire country generated more than 31% of its electricity from renewables and policies are in place to get to 45% by the middle of the next decade.  Even if growth stops it is not like solar panels and wind turbines stop producing clean electricity.  The demand destruction for fossil fuels has already occurred.

Yet Another Country, and Two Huge Utilities, Finished with Coal—Here is why coal is dead.  No one wants to use the stuff except for ass clowns like Don Blankenship…oh wait, he’s just a convicted criminal living in a hilltop mansion now instead of a coal company baron.

Want to See Why Trump will Struggle to Save the Coal Industry? Look at Michigan.—The real answer to the question is that Donald Trump has no idea how to “save” the coal industry and he has no intention of actually trying to reemploy coal miners.  He cares about himself, first and foremost, with fellow billionaires, assuming he is actually a billionaire before raping the United States from the Oval Office, coming in a distant second.

From Peak Oil to Peak Oil Demand in Just Nine Years—Oh my, how times change.

Have We Reached Peak Gasoline?—As EVs, plug-in hybrids, and more efficient vehicles proliferate combined with fewer miles driven per person the demand for gasoline has to stagnate at some level.  At what point does this stagnation begin to destabilize the fundamental economics of gasoline refining?

Copenhagen Now has More Bikes than Cars—Copenhagen is a dream city for many people.  It can also serve as a model for many urban centers.  It is not a place of ideal mild climate, yet pedal power is becoming the dominant mode of transportation through policy encouragement.

The Colossal African Solar Farm that Could Power Europe—It has been a dream of Europeans for many years to develop massive solar farms in sunny North Africa where land is plentiful for transmission back to Europe.  Maybe now that idea is coming to fruition.

University of Minnesota Study Identifies Key Culprits in Cropland Greenhouse Emissions—Rather than try to tackle all of the sources of greenhouse gasses, why don’t we try and lock up the 60 to 70% of bad actors that will return a great deal of “bang for the buck?”

Canada Just Took a Big Step Toward Banning a Nasty Pesticide—The rest of the world will march on and the United States will stagnate under Trump.  What we can hope for is that a tide of anger will sweep our sclerotic political culture aside, much like the progressives did, and enact truly forward thinking legislation.

Scientists Discover Why Diet Coke Is Probably Undermining You—File this under the “You Can’t Fool Your Body and Expect Positive Results” heading.  Just another reason to stop buying water, which makes up something like 99% of a bottle of diet soda, in disposable plastic bottles.

Friday Linkage 10/10/2014

Fall is really in the air, so that means it is time to blow town and go on vacation. The family and I leave next week for a quick jaunt to the swamps of Florida for enforced fun with Mickey Mouse and his furry friends. My son has not stopped chanting “tea cups!” for the past week. Save me, please.

On to the links…

Teacher Sends Hungry First Graders Home With Backpacks Full Of Food—I both love this story and hate this story. I love that a teacher took this upon themselves to help their students, but it makes me sick that in the United States we have children that are hungry. There is no excuse why any person in this country should be hungry on a given day unless it is their choice to not eat. No excuse.

How School Lunch Became the Latest Political Battleground—School lunch is big business and even bigger politics. It’s why, as parents, we should be fighting tooth and nail to change the system.

If America Cared about the Planet as Much as the NFL, This is What it Would Look Like—When the NFL was about to go on strike a few years back the news and analysis of the labor negotiations was amazing in its depth. If people cared about anything other than sports that much the world would be a much better place.

EPA says 24.1-mpg New Car Average is Best-Ever—Our average vehicle fuel economy keeps creeping up and as new technologies come on board—hello aluminum F-150—the numbers will keep getting better as we approach the 2025 deadline.

America’s Biggest Solar Provider Has A New Way To Make Rooftop Systems More Affordable—Every day brings stories about how solar is becoming increasingly affordable. Pretty soon it will be the same as putting on a new deck for a lot of people. I hope to put my solar system on the house next year. Yee hah!

Home Solar Plus A Battery Could Be Cheaper Than The Grid In Germany In Just A Few Years—Think about a market where solar plus a battery being cheaper than the power provided by a centralized grid? The demand destruction would be enormous.

$7 Million Annual Reduction In Lighting Costs For Ford Due To $25 Million LED Investment—This is a great investment. How good? The NPV value of this deal is $29 million assuming a discount rate of 5% and no inflation of the annual reduction in costs that might happen due to increasing energy costs. Efficiency is sweet.

Obama to Declare National Monument in San Gabriels—This is another step closer to creating a national park right on the doorstep of metro Los Angeles. Imagine that.

Translogic 160: Detroit Bus Company—This is a great story about someone creating a solution to a community’s need. A lot of the world may have left Detroit for dead, but there are a lot of people who refuse to believe the commonly held sentiment about the city’s future.

A Cool Folding Tricycle That Can Also Haul Your Groceries—I really hope that human powered mobility is the future of transportation for a majority of our needs and I hope more nifty solutions like this come to market. It’s just cute and cool.

Your Coffee is about to Get a Lot More Expensive—Climate change may be about to smack our favorite morning indulgence. Drought in Brazil, rust in Central America, and god knows what else around the world is sending coffee prices soaring in wholesale markets.

Colorado’s First Legal Hemp Harvest Since 1957 is Underway—It’s not going to set the world on fire because seed stocks are limited and expertise is lacking, but the future of hemp farming in America is happening. A lot of this year’s efforts are going into seed saving which will help subsequent years be successful.

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at How Infographics Are Made—I love infographics for some strange reason. Some people like trashy romance novels or porn. I like infographics. It’s interesting to see some of the tricks of the trade.

Friday Linkage 7/11/2014

It’s off to Colorado for a week of being out of touch, visiting some new breweries, and generally trying to recharge to ol’ batteries. Thus, I will be out of pocket and not posting for more than a week but I should have some good stuff to share come the end of the month like a rundown of some really good beers made in Minnesota that I picked up during my trip over the fourth of July and whatever I end up discovering in the Centennial State.

On to the links…

Investment In Clean Energy At Highest Point Since 2012—Just some plain ol’ good news.

The Emerging Clean Energy Edge—Carl Pope, the former director of the Sierra Club, has a succinct piece on why clean energy has reached the tipping point where it can displace traditional fossil fuels without the need for subsidies. Dig it.

Renewable Energy Provided One-Third Of Germany’s Power In The First Half Of 2014—Don’t believe it is possible to see large scale usage and integration of renewables? Witness Germany getting one third of its power from renewables for an entire half of a year. Not a day. Not a holiday. Rather, an entire half year. Pretty impressive.

‘Singlet Fission’ can Increase Solar Cell Efficiency by as much as 30 Percent—I do not understand the science behind the breakthrough, but anything that can increase the efficiency of solar PV is a good thing.

Taking Oil Industry Cue, Environmentalists Drew Emissions Blueprint—I love that people are surprised by the environmental movement taking cues from the oil and gas lobby. Really? Those companies have been wildly successful in shaping public policy for the better part of a century. It’s about damn time.

Nine Iowa Counties see Million-Gallon Crude Oil Trains—My neck of the woods is not on the list, but these rolling firebombs waiting to happen are rumbling through a good portion of the state. It feels a little too close to home.

To Improve Accuracy, BBC Tells Its Reporters To Stop Giving Air Time To Climate Deniers—Finally, a news corporation takes a stand on giving climate deniers equal time. Why do people who are outnumbered at least 99 to 1 if not 999 to 1 get anywhere close to equal time on the air? Besides Fox News, the BBC’s practice should be standard for every other news outlet. Who cares what Rush says about your bias because he is a blowhard bought and paid for by the extreme right.

This Train Could Power A Fleet Of Electric Buses—Trying to wring out every last wasted kilowatt of electricity is a surer climate change mitigation strategy than any expansion of renewables in terms of immediate return on investment. Innovative solutions like this are going to be part of the future plan.

Californians Keep Up With Joneses’ Water Use—This is depressing. California is facing epic drought and its citizens are doing little if anything to conserve water on a personal level. Who needs a freakin’ green lawn in California? No one.

Protecting Parrotfish on the Path to a Caribbean Reef Revival—Reefs are complete ecosystems, so we need to ensure the vitality of all the creatures that inhabit them. The decline of parrotfish means that algae and other organisms colonize the coral and outcompete more traditional reef inhabitants.

Interior Commits to Bison Restoration, but Offers few Specifics—The North American bison is an amazing creature and its restoration from near extinction is also equally amazing. What is needed, as the Poppers postulate in their Buffalo Commons idea, is a wide scale reintroduction into the landscape of the American west that has been long dominated by cattle.

What Type of Environmentalist are You?—This little quiz made the rounds of the internet during this week. It’s a fun little diversion.

More And More Companies Are Buying Their Way Overseas To Get Lower Taxes—Do you want to know why we have a revenue problem in the U.S.? It’s because corporations keep making more money and keep paying less in taxes. ‘Nuff said.

Friday Linkage 5/16/2014

So, every time you hear a proponent of Keystone XL talk about the safety of oil pipelines witness the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale. In the wee hours of Thursday morning a pipeline burst sending tens of thousands of crude into the city streets. Yep, great safety record for those pipelines.

On to the links…

America’s Oil And Gas Industry Averaged At Least 20 Spills Per Day In 2013—Think about that average for a moment. It is stunning. There is no such thing as truly safe oil and gas drilling and transportation. It is inherently susceptible to spills and accidents.

This Is Your Country With 10 Feet Of Sea Level Rise—It looks like I am safe in eastern Iowa, but large portions of very populous cities in the U.S. are not so lucky.

Slow Exit of the Midwest’s Winter Buries Gardens in a Deep Freeze—The past winter was brutal and as those of us in the Midwest take stock in the spring it is not any prettier. At the moment I am down two trees, three butterfly bushes, and a shrub. Plus, the plants that did survive are slow to leaf out and bloom.

The Toxic Brew in Our Yards—It is a spring and summer ritual where I live to see the chemical trucks spraying lawns and leaving little signs that might as well say, “Toxic waste dump. Stay off the grass!”

How Large-Scale Solar Power Can Reduce Pressure On Farm Land—Just some interesting ideas about how to marry large scale solar with other land use. Anything that moves solar PV forward is a good thing in my book.

Pakistan’s First Solar Project Is One Of The World’s Largest—Damn, this is a big solar project. When a country like Pakistan is getting on board with solar you know that things are happening for the technology.

Germany Sets New Record, Generating 74 Percent Of Power Needs From Renewable Energy—Hot damn that is impressive. Just take a moment and think about what that would mean if every country were as committed to large scale renewables. Pretty sight indeed.

A Whale And A Cruise Ship Collided In New York Harbor—I kind of wondered about this possibility the one time I took a cruise. These boats are massive and there is no way for these boats to avoid whales if they cross paths. Ugh.

Friday Linkage 9/20/2013

My heart really goes out to all of the people suffering from the flooding on the Front Range in Colorado.  Our friends and family in the area have been spared the worst of the damage and continue to live in their homes unlike so many others in communities across the region.  As someone who witnessed the flood of 2008 in Cedar Rapids, which devastated a large swath of the metro area, I hope that everyone understands just how long it takes to recover from a natural disaster like this.

On to the links…

Flood-Ravaged Boulder, Colo., Sets Annual Rainfall Record—This chart is just mind blowing:

9_15_13_andrew_boulderrainfallrecord

Imagine going from long-term drought conditions to flood ravaged.  Well, that is what happened to a large swatch of the Front Range over the past couple of weeks.

One Weird Trick to Fix Farms Forever—If you have ever seen the difference between soil that is tended to like David Brandt’s versus traditional farm soil than you would wonder why anyone would use any other method.  The difference is stunning.  We need to stop thinking about our farming as getting crops out of the soil, but rather as building soil.  The crops will come if the soil is healthy.

Germany’s Effort at Green Energy Proves Complex—Really?  Changing over from a century or more of fossil fuels would be complex?  I cannot imagine.  The real crux of this story is that consumers in Germany have been forced to bear higher costs because over 700 companies are shielded from the higher costs.  Nice handout to industry.

U.S. Installed 832 MW of Solar PV in Q2 2013—Growth in the solar PV sector has been solid for the past year.  Disregarding the big spike in Q4 2012, the result of regulatory uncertainty and a rush to ensure tax credits, there had been a steady upward trend.  Let’s hope it continues.

Wind Power Generation at Record Levels in 4 Australian States—South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and New South Wales all broke records for wind power generation in August.  Too bad elections in that country are likely to slow renewable energy progress.

Ocean Thermal Energy Could Power the Entire Big Island of Hawaii—Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) is a pretty cool idea in that it uses the naturally occurring temperature gradient of the ocean to create clean energy.  I just do not get why Hawaii does not utilize more geothermal given the proximity of resources, but whatever.

Detroit’s Dirty Petcoke Disappeared, but Where did it Go?—The gigantic piles of nasty petcoke on the lakeshore in Detroit are gone, but where did they go?  Oh those crafty Koch brothers…

Your Half-Eaten Sandwich’s Dirty Secret—Food waste is a huge problem.  How big?  Worldwide food waste would be the third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions if it were considered a country.  Eat those leftovers please.

Chicken is Killing the Planet—I think you could probably amend the headline to read “Meat is Killing the Planet,” but I will accept the chicken story.

In Pursuit of Tastier Chickens, a Strict Diet of Four-Star Scraps—Here’s another idea of how chicken should be raised.  I would be interested to see the results in that I wonder how much difference in taste that there would be between the different feed regimens.

Factory Farms from Above—I do not know if these images run afoul of “ag gag” laws, but the imagery is amazing and disturbing at the same time.  The scale is just humongous.

Sprawling, Gorgeous Photo Project Dives Deep Into the Life and Heavy Industries of Rivers—Rivers are amazing landscapes.  Particularly because these waterways were so industrialized in the early part of U.S. history.  Now, the industry is gone or withering and the landscape remains.

In South Florida, a Polluted Bubble Ready to Burst—If I wanted to there could be a weekly post entitled “Crazy Stuff Going Down in Florida.”  I actually think it would be pretty cool to do that.  Lake Okeechobee and the entire South Florida water system is a mess.

Greener Alternatives to Spray Foam Insulation—I am so glad that our builder moved us away from using spray foam.  I was enamored with the stuff after watching Mike Holmes use it in almost every show like it was magic fairy dust for home problems.  Every week seems to bring a new finding about how the stuff is less magic and more nasty.  Hooray for dense pack cellulose.

Lots of Ideas for Using Mason Jars—Are mason jars the hipster Swiss army knife?  Seriously, every day I run across a story that finds another use for these humble glass containers.  Did you know that you can probably thread a mason jar onto your blender base in place of the glass pitcher?  Yep, direct to container blending.  Dig it.

Thinking about Solar Potential

Iowa is a national leader in terms of wind power.  As it stands now, the state gets about one-quarter of its electricity from the wind.  Many projects, including a recently announced $1.9B project by MidAmerican Energy, will keep pushing that percentage higher.

But what if wind power was not the sole solution?

Well, what is the problem we are trying to solve?  The elimination of fossil fuels to generate electricity is my goal and I think that Iowa has the potential to get there.

In a prior post I wrote about the level of windpower investment required to eliminate fossil fuels from the power equation.  Depending upon how you add up the numbers with regard to projects in the pipeline Iowa is almost 75% of the way there.

Assuming that these projects do not all happen for various reasons, what are the other options?  Disregarding hydropower, which is a solution for some locales but not a state like Iowa, the solution, in terms of renewables, must be solar.

“Solar cannot work in Iowa!” the naysayer says.  Really?

Germany is a leader in the deployment of solar photovoltaic technology.  That country is never thought of as being sun drenched like its southern EU compatriots Spain or Greece.  Do not even think of comparing Germany’s solar radiation with North Africa’s.  So, solar works in places that are not thought of as ideal.  Got it.

In 2012, Germany is estimated to have produced 28,000 GWh of solar electricity.  Iowa is about 41% the physical size of Germany, so if Iowa deployed solar in proportion to geographic size the generation potential would equal 11,480 GWh of solar electricity on an annual basis.  What does that number mean?

In 2010, Iowa produced about 57,508 GWh of electricity.  Assuming the numbers for the last full year are similar, the state would have produced about 43,131 GWh of electricity using fossil fuel or other non-renewables.  This assumes that 25% of the state’s electricity generation came in the form of wind power.   At the deployment figure stated above, 11,480 GWh, solar could easily account for approximately 27% of the state’s electricity generation.

A side benefit to deploying solar is that it tends to be at a production peak that is counter cyclical to wind power’s production peak, which levels out the demands on the grid.

It’s total “pie in the sky” territory, I realize, but it’s fun to run the numbers and see how close we could be to a time when we no longer burn fossil fuels to watch Whale Wars.