Tag Archives: grid parity

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.

Friday Linkage 8/14/2015

I know I originally said I was not going to publish any links today, but there were a few good stories about renewable energy costs that I wanted to highlight. Plus, it’s been a slow couple of days for work here in Boulder.

On to the links…

Cost of Producing Wind Power Reached a New Low in the U.S. Last Year—It is very cheap to deploy wind power.

‘Tipping Point’ for Florida Solar? Orlando Utility Buys at Under Fossil Generation Prices—Remember for a moment that this is in not very renewable friendly Florida. If that state can have renewables at parity or below with fossil fuels it has to be a cinch for other states to do the same.

Another Low-Solar-Price Record: Saudi Electric Company Lands Solar PPA Under 5¢/kWh—This is some seriously cheap solar.

Axa Boss Henri de Castries on Coal: ‘Do you really want to be the last investor?’—This has to be one of the most damning statements I have seen about the future viability of coal company stocks. Remember, publicly traded stock is how many large companies achieve capital goals in the modern age. Without access to this capital it is very hard, if not impossible, to achieve scale.

Cloud Peak Energy Fights To Preserve Loopholes, Ability To Rip Off Taxpayers—So, not only are these companies increasingly bad investments but their financial security rests on ripping off the American people. Why exactly do people like Mitch McConnell defend coal companies with such vigor?

New Zealand to be Coal-Free by 2018, 90% Renewable by 2025—Now these are some goals I can get behind. Imagine if the U.S. said that we wanted to be 90% renewable in ten years?

Coca-Cola-Funded Scientists Say Overweight Americans Are Too Worried About What They Are Eating—The “crap food industry” has been pushing the line that exercise is the reason people in the Western world are increasingly obese, but the reality is that our diets are to blame for our round midsections. How stupid does Coca-Cola believe that we are?

Mmm, Beer: Brewers Are on a Quest to Breed a Better Hop—This is perhaps the best line about beer and wine drinkers that I have read in a long time:

Hopheads are embracing diversity,” says Myles. “Wine snobs are viticultural racists.

Friday Linkage 5/29/2015

You have to love the politicians in Texas. There are some who voted against relief for the victims of Hurricane, er Superstorm Sandy who are now advocating for federal assistance in the wake of the massive storms that hit the region. Hypocrisy knows no bounds when it comes to the Republican Party in 2015.

On to the links…

EPA Finalizes New Clean-Water Rule Protecting Thousands more Waterways—The new rule, sure to set off some serious litigation jones by the right wing, cleans up the language surrounding what waterways are protected under the auspices of the Clean Water Act. For decades polluters have used the idea behind navigable waterways and waterways contained within a state as loopholes to keep our waters dirty. No more.

Why are Federal Dollars Financing this Thirsty Crop in Arizona?—Take the time to read this relatively long article on cotton subsidies that enable cotton to be grown in the desert. Remember, there is a global glut of cotton and there are places much more suitable to grow cotton than Arizona. These are your tax dollars at work.

Solar Parity Coming Faster Than Expected—The death knell for traditional fossil fuels outside of certain applications is coming faster than a lot of people expected because of trends like this:

population-at-solar-parity-in-top-40-metros-2015-ILSR

Solar PV Costs To Fall Another 25% In Three Years—Another 25%? Damn. Someone is going to start giving away solar systems at this rate.

2 Cool Maps that Show how Wind Power is Poised to go Big—Just in case you thought I was neglecting wind power with my love of solar power check out this trend map:

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The Six Craziest Arguments Politicians Are Making Against Protecting National Parks And Wildlife—Republicans do not like National Parks or nature. So, naturally, they fall back on arguments like “it’s vital for national security” to justify gutting protections that most Americans agree are a good thing.

Food Poisoning Bug ‘Found in 73% of Shop-Bought Chickens’—Sure, this was in the U.K., but if you think the meat in the U.S. is any safer I have a few books for you to read. Our global food system is screwed because of our hunger for cheap meat.

Jail Doesn’t Cost What You Think It Does—This is an issue I am glad is finally making some headway in the national conversation. We incarcerate too many people in the United States and we spend too much money on that incarceration. We have allowed a system of private prisons to develop that is incentivized to keep people in prison. It is shameful.

13 Story Timber Tower to be Built in Quebec City—I am really interested in the potential of cross laminated timber construction as an alternative to carbon intensive concrete construction for buildings taller than one or two stories.

Netflix Says Streaming Is Greener Than Reading (or Breathing)—Is my Netflix habit bad for the environment? I do not know, but I somehow doubt that it is better than breathing in terms of carbon footprint. Sorry, but I do not need Netflix whereas I need to breathe. Just saying.

Friday Linkage 1/16/2015

The amazing thing about cancelling my pay television subscription is how much time I freed up to do some things around the house without even noticing the change. Kill your television. You will be thankful.

On to the links…

The Anti-Science Climate Denier Caucus, 114th Congress Edition—The 114th Congress has been sworn in and here is how it looks from the perspective of which members are anti-science:

Denier-Caucus3

72 Percent of Republican Senators Are Climate Deniers—The population of the U.S. as a whole may agree that climate change is real, but the people who elect Republicans obviously do not care.

Scientists Discover Two New Pollutants In Fracking Waste—We barely know what is in fracking waste, but every new discovery makes it sound worse and worse.

Cost Of Solar Already Less Than Grid Electricity In Largest US Cities—Grid parity has got to be a nightmare for coal producers, coal fired power plants, and other fossil fuel proponents.

Clean Tech Investment Surges Back in 2014—Globally, clean energy and technology investment has almost reached the high levels seen in 2011. It remains to be seen what low oil prices and global economic uncertainty do to future investment, but the trend is positive.

5 GW Wind-Solar Energy Park Planned In Gujarat, India—Here is why there is so much clean energy investment…every time you read another article it is about 100s of megawatts and even gigawatts being installed. I remember a time when kilowatts were what people were talking about in Homepower magazine.

SunEdison To Build $4 Billion Solar Manufacturing Plant in India—This is a plant that will have the capacity to annually produce up to 7.5 gigawatts of panels. Damn.

100 MW Of New Solar Power Plants Approved In Idaho—No one is going to confuse Idaho for a hippie paradise, but even the potato state is getting in on the solar bandwagon.

Ecolab to go All-Solar in Minnesota—Minnesota, a state not known for its solar resources, is really pushing forward in making solar a part of the energy future.

Florida Conservative Group Launches A Ballot Initiative To Increase Access To Solar Power—The only people who do not like solar power anymore are those with a vested and moneyed interest in seeing the status quo remain.

These Five States Took Anti-Solar Action in 2014—Oklahoma, Ohio, Kansas, New Mexico, and Arizona took actions that will hurt widespread adoption of solar technology. The surprise to me was New Mexico and Arizona given that those states are blessed with a whole lot of solar potential.

Turning Waste into Energy in Oregon: City of Gresham Wastewater Treatment Plant—Why isn’t every city with a decent size water treatment facility in line to install a system like this? It seems like there is a free energy resource just sitting under our noses.

A Caribbean Island Says Goodbye Diesel and Hello 100 Percent Renewable Electricity—I have heard that the reefs around Bonaire are amazing and now I have a second reason to visit.

Rooftop Solar In South Australia Met One Third Of State’s Daily Electricity Demand—Rooftop solar, not utility scale projects, met almost one third of South Australia’s electricity demand. That is amazing when you consider that this is a conglomeration of small scale systems tied into the grid.

Investment in Almonds is Worsening California’s Drought—The symbolic produce of California is the grape. We mythologize the grape as the source of Napa’s amazing wines and people salivate over pinot noirs. However, almonds are now almost as valuable in terms of money but the value comes at a high price. It takes almost a gallon of water to produce a single almond. California does not have that kind of water available.

Could ‘Salt Potatoes’ Create a Food Revolution?—A lot of soil has been damaged by accumulation of salts. Anything that could grow in these degraded soils and provide food could be a game changer for people living on the fringes.

Iceland Brewery makes Beer using Smoked Whale Testicles—Craft beer experimentation has officially jumped the shark…er, whale with this creation.

Friday Linkage 10/31/2014

Just living takes a lot of time. You wake up, get the kids ready for the day, finish a day of work, make some dinner, and look up to see that it is almost 7:00 which means the bedtime routine is about to start. I envy people who find time in their day for other pursuits, but I am not one of those people lately. It’s like we barely have time enough to get the bare minimum done. I guess this is what you mid-thirties with two kids is supposed to be like. Right?

On to the links…

Climate Change And Rising Violence Are Linked, According To 55 Scientific Studies—Get ready for a world where conflicts arise because of climate change. If you thought the water wars in the Mad Max films were a fantasy then you have not been paying attention.

NPR Guts Its Environment And Climate Reporting Team, Becomes ‘Part Of The Problem’—If NPR, which usually gets credit for being one of the honest brokers, is not giving good coverage to climate issues who will be the voice of reason? It sure as shit is not going to be Fox News.

Solar Grid Parity In All 50 US States By 2016, Predicts Deutsche Bank—Imagine the demand destruction that can take place when solar is on par with the cost of other power sources. The panels on your roof could be putting out power on a per watt basis that was comparable with dirty coal or fracked natural gas. Let the sun shine, baby!

Minnesota Gets Ready To Launch Solar Highways—Just look out the window for a moment the next time you drive on a highway and think about all of the land sitting there that could be used for solar energy installations. It’s a lot.

SolarCity Unveils ZS Beam — New System Improves Speed + Affordability Of Solar Carport Installation—If you are done thinking about all of the right of ways along American highways start thinking about all of the parking lots that could be covered with solar carports. It’s an amazing opportunity to get two uses out of space that is just sitting there and is not very aesthetically pleasing.

The Australian Solar Industry Has Grown By 1 GW Since July 2013—When you think about Australia you probably think about the sun. Here is a country roughly the size of the continental United States that gets absolutely blasted by the sun. It should be covered in solar panels.

MGM Installs America’s Largest Rooftop Solar Array but it Only Powers 1/5 of the Hotel—This solar array is freaking huge and it only powers 20% of the convention center/hotel’s needs. That really speaks volumes about the nature of energy use in Las Vegas. It is still cool to see something of this scale done.

How Cheap Wind Energy Threatens To Upend The Kansas Governor’s Race And Upset The Koch Brothers—What the heck is wrong with Kansas? It is the home the Koch brothers, which is bad enough but it is also the state that elected Sam Brownback to be governor. That guy is a complete stooge. The state should also be covered in wind turbines like Iowa, but the industry is still in its infancy. WTF?

America’s Last Coal-Fired Ship Finally Stops Dumping Coal Ash Into Lake Michigan—The S.S. Badger is a freaking ecological disaster that as used political machinations to continue operation long beyond its expiration date. It looks like the boat might finally be cleaning up its act. Somewhat.

How California is Turning Drainage Canals Back to Rivers—People think of California as this ecological oasis, but its modern history has been of subverting the natural order. As people begin to realize the value of nature some of these mistakes are being rectified.

John Oliver’s Takedown of the Sugar Industry is Pretty Sweet—John Oliver, like his former boss, delivers some of the most had hitting commentary with a hint of humor that is undeniably excellent. I cannot wait for the 2016 election cycle. It’s going to be epic. Although his assertion that cranberries taste like cherries that hate you is a little harsh. C’mon John.

Against the Grain: Should you go gluten-free?—Gluten. The new big bad in the nutrition “whack a rat” game. It’s funny how people eliminate gluten and feel better. No, it’s really just common sense that if you eliminate beer, refined carbohydrates, and lots of calories that you will feel better. Alas, it’s a fad.

What the World Eats—Check out National Geographic’s series of images on what various countries eat. It’s kind of shocking.

What Food Do We Throw Away the Most?—Ahhh, an infographic. Noel Dempsey has produced a couple of graphics that show what we throw away:

Food-Waste-Infographic

Friday Linkage 8/22/2014

Taking a different job within the same company is a surreal experience. I work at the same company, but due to the company’s size and building footprint it is a totally different experience in my new job. I do not want to make excuses for why I have not been posting lately, but I am too swamped to even come up with a better reason.

On to the links…

Pink Slime Is Making A Major Comeback—You knew it would happen. The furor would die down and industry would be waiting to swoop back in to offer their nasty products. This crap is nasty and we should not be feeding it to our children.

False Facts and the Conservative Distortion Machine: It’s Much More than just Fox News—There is a concerted effort, funded by big business, to muddy the waters on every important issue of the day. Books have been written, exposes aired, and no one seems to really care that one political party is making a conscious effort to use bad information in crafting policy.

Where We Came From and Where We Went, State by State—This series of interactive graphs showing how the populations of states evolved is a massively fun time waster.

Why the Scientific Case Against Fracking Keeps Getting Stronger—Is there a good story about fracking? Sure, our energy prices have remained low because of new domestic supplies, but doesn’t that just delay the inevitable price shocks that will come later?

This Is Where Your Electricity Comes From—I just love data visualization.

At Ford Headquarters, Electric Cars To Be Charged By Solar Canopy Parking Lot—The United States is covered in parking lots. Between roads and parking lots we have paved over an area the size of Georgia. Why isn’t more of this area covered in some type of solar canopy?

Power Surge in Minnesota’s Solar Industry—Minnesota, like Germany, does not strike me as a place where solar would be a big deal but the Land of 10,000 Lakes and Michele Bachmann is a surprising place sometimes. Now, will someone please explain hot dish to me?

Explosive US Solar Power Growth & Jobs—So, despite a hostile regulatory environment and Congress that cannot get out of its own way solar is kicking ass. Yep, solar is kicking ass.

Rooftop Solar May Reach Grid Parity In 25+ States By 2017—I would not want to be a power industry exec imagining what the demand destruction will look like when more than half of the states can generate clean power on their roofs for the same cost as dirty coal power. I can’t wait to listen to those investor calls.

Wind Energy Prices at an All Time Low—Wind power is cheap and it is generating almost 5% of the total electricity in the U.S. Wow!

Spain Met More than a Third of July’s Electricity Demand with Wind and Solar Power—Sure, Spain’s economy is in the toilet but the country is a renewables leader. It’s not correlated by the way.

NYC Has More Food Waste-To-Energy Tricks Up Its Sleeve—It amazes me how much energy we just throw away each year. Think about all the waste, both from our kitchens and our bodies, that just gets thrown in the trash or down the sewer drain. What if we could harness that waste to create energy? Imagine…

How To Make Marinara Sauce—This is one of those skills that every child should be taught before leaving the house. It is a lifesaver when you need to make a meal.

Friday Linkage 3/28/2014

Getting back to work after more than a week of vacation is hard. Total first world problem, but it is almost impossible to get back into the groove. Having a house full of sick travelers does not help either. Is there anything worse than coming home on a plane full of people hacking and wheezing knowing that you will be doing the same thing in a few days? I know, total first world problem again.
On to the links…
Solar Power Is Now Just As Cheap As Conventional Electricity In Italy And Germany—Grid parity is a big deal because it means that it costs no more to deploy renewables versus traditional fossil fuels like coal, natural gas, or nuclear—yes, I lump nuclear in with fossil fuels because fissile material is mined and fusion is a pipe dream.
Soon The Ocean Will Be Generating Power Near Seattle—Tidal power is slightly less of a pipe dream than fusion and right below large scale offshore wind in terms of primetime readiness. It seems like advocates have been telling us for decades that tidal power can be a major player, but the projects never seem to materialize or reach their potential.
Hog Wild: Factory Farms are Poisoning Iowa’s Drinking Water—The hog industry totally has the government in Iowa bought and paid for because the problems of CAFOs outweigh whatever economic gain they might provide. Ugh!
Are We Becoming China’s Factory Farm?—It looks like our agricultural industry is focused on satisfying the growing appetites of Chinese consumers rather than protecting the welfare of our own citizens. Great.
Coal Ash Ponds: How Power Companies Get a ‘Bypass’ on Regulations Against Pollution—Like manure lagoons from CAFOs, coal power plants have been able to skirt regulations for years. After several spills and contaminations I hope the tide is turning toward some form of real control.
Does Comfrey Really Improve Soil?—Confrey is one of those miracle plants of the sustainable garden world that seems to take care of many problems. A lot of organic and/or sustainable gardeners use comfrey leaves to make a fertilizer tea or use it to supercharge compost piles or improve the soil. Here is some evidence that it may actually be improving the soil. I am thinking about conducting a similar experiment myself.
Taxpayer Dollars Teach that Evolution is ‘wicked and vain’—Every time I am amazed by the ignorance of climate deniers and Republicans in general I need to remember that the same people who form the rabid base of that political ideology are the same ones still fighting for creationism. Yep, Jesus rode a dinosaur like a cowboy.
Let Food be Thy Medicine—I am glad to see that the medical community is finally waking up to the positive powers that diet can have on people’s health. It’s not rocket science, but there is often a disconnect between the doctor’s office and the kitchen when in reality there are very real linkages.
How to Make Microwave Popcorn in a Plain Paper Bag—I love popcorn, but I often find myself craving it at work which means microwave popcorn is the only answer because there is no stove and my Whirlypop stays home. With this method I could be nuking a bag of Tiny But Mighty for an afternoon snack at my desk.
Beneath Cities, a Decaying Tangle of Gas Pipes—The explosion that leveled a building in Harlem brought attention to the rat’s nest of cables and pipes that sit just below the surface of our cities. Infrastructure is amazing to me in that it works at all when you consider the complexity, operating environment, system stress, and age.
Turn a Cordless Drill into a Solar Drill—I love solar for so many reasons. I also love checking out solar projects that are easy. Check this one out.
Super-Cheap Paper Microscope Could Save Millions of Lives—This just seems amazing.