Tag Archives: Hawaii

Friday Linkage 9/11/2015

Winter is coming. At least that is what my daughter thinks now that the air conditioning is off for the summer and the night time temperature is dropping into the 40s. She is constantly asking how many days it is until ski resorts in Colorado open. We might have created a monster here.

On to the links…

US Solar Capacity Now Exceeds 20 GW—Believe it. I am hoping to add my own little bit to this number before the close of the year with an approximately 5 kWh system on a west facing roof. Permits be damned.

Why Solar PV is Unstoppable – and Renewable Targets will Cost Little—Fossil fuels are looking over their shoulder at the ultimate killer app in solar. Once deployed it is cheap because the fuel is free and the lifespan is long because the technology is solid state.

The Default Move For US Oil Is Downward. Here’s Why—An interesting technical analysis of the recent drop in oil prices and why we may be looking at a new normal. I think this price drop is a temporary reprieve that gives our economy some breathing room to start making a real transition away from fossil fuels.

Kauai Utility Signs Deal with SolarCity on Energy System to Provide Power at Night—Hawaii has mad renewable energy potential, but the problem is that peak demand continues after the period of peak production crests. This pilot project aims to level out some of that disparity and pump clean power back into the grid after the sun goes down.

Colorado Invests $1.2M In Low-Income Community Solar Projects—One of the biggest and most poignant critiques of solar is that it is something reserved for people with a large degree of discretionary income. Community solar that is subsidized by some degree may be an answer to this critique.

India’s Installed Solar Power Capacity Tops 4 GW—I am kind of a solar junkie when it comes to news stories. I love hearing/reading about new milestones.

Delhi Eyes 2 GW Rooftop Solar Power Capacity By 2022—Remember, this is rooftop solar so it is going on top of existing buildings instead of taking up ground in greenfield or brownfield sites. What is the potential across the world for such an endeavor.

India’s Wind Energy Potential Upgraded To 302 GW—The interesting thing about this number is that slightly more than half is available in what is considered waste land.

How Australia’s Electricity Demand Is Slashed By Solar PV—Simply put when solar panels are producing the most power is when there is a spike in demand. Point of use solar power generation is knocking down the peak of demand.

From Icky Bugs to Good Grub: Why More People are Eating Insects—I think that I read one or two of these stories each year that claims the boom in eating insects is a year or so away. It feels a lot like nuclear fusion. It’s a ten years away and that was true ten years ago.

In Praise of Cheap Knives—I am always reminded of a woodworker I knew who collected beautiful tools in a manicured shop, but no one could ever recall him actually building anything.

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Friday Linkage 9/4/2015

Damn, I looked up and it was September. Without cable and no more HDTV football season will not be the same. Listening to games on the radio, however, gives me the opportunity to spend some time in the shop working on a handful of projects that have languished most of the summer.

On to the links…

MidAmerican Energy Announces New Wind Farms—By the end of 2015, MidAmerican will get 42 percent of its power from wind versus 36 percent from coal. That is an impressive renewable energy footprint that is only going to get bigger with the construction of these recently announced projects.

Simple Solar From Cedar Falls Utilities — Crowdfunded Community Solar—Iowa has a long way to go with regard to climate change mitigation, but there are a lot of good things happening on the ground. Cedar Falls, famous for its public internet company, is also getting into the community solar game.

Xcel Energy Taking Heat for Slow Rollout of Solar Garden Program in Minnesota—Meanwhile, Xcel in Minnesota seems to be doing everything to kill the community solar project with a thousand cuts.

Solar Power on at Large and Small Scale—Ahhh, infographics. How I have missed thee:

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Solar Energy Means Jobs, Savings, and a Low-Cost Future—Solar is good. ‘Nuff said:

solar-in-missouri-means-jobs-savings-low-cost-future-ILSR

Hawaii’s Going 100 Percent Renewable, And It’s Not Using Natural Gas As A ‘Transition’—Hawaii is going to try and make the leap to all renewables without taking the baby step of using natural gas as a bridge fuel. I wish them the best of luck because the islands can be a laboratory for the rest of the United States.

Florida Public Service Commission OKs FPL’s Plan To Purchase & Shut Down 250 MW Coal Plant, As Means Of Getting Out Of Costly PPA—This is how you know coal is troubled. It is easier for a power company to buy and shut down a plant as a means of avoiding contractual power purchase obligations than to go ahead with the contract.

Digging into Big Coal’s Climate Connections—The great thing about bankruptcy of a public company in the U.S. is the enormous amount of information that becomes public as a result. Alpha Natural Resource’s bankruptcy is pulling the curtain back on climate shenanigans.

Unicornomics—If you want to understand right wing thinking in the 21st century you need to understand that it is based on the belief that reality and facts are secondary to dogma. I want a unicorn farm, but that does not mean I am going to get a unicorn farm.

Farmed Fish could bring Us Cheaper Food, but is it Ethical?—Aquaculture is the future of the fish on our tables because we have trashed and overfished the oceans. There are a lot of problems with aquaculture, but we can try to work through those for a better system.

9 of 10 Seabirds Have Glow Sticks, Lighters, Toy Cars, Other Plastics in their Guts—We have trashed the planet, the animals are paying the price, and we have to figure out a way to start cleaning up after ourselves.

Climate Change Means One World’s Death and Another’s Birth—The world is going to change. It might change at a pace that is understandable on the human being’s lifespan. This is unprecedented.

The True Story of Kudzu, the Vine That Never Truly Ate the South—This story kind of bummed me out because kudzu was the plant from a horror movie in my youth. It was the cautionary tale that every biology teacher used to illustrate the folly of trying to mess with nature.

Friday Linkage 7/3/2015

Damn, it’s July. Where did June go? That’s right, I spent the month trying to put as many miles on my bikes as possible and spending the rest of my time enjoying a few moments of clam between rain storms.

On to the links…

Americans Are Drinking Less Coffee Thanks to K-Cups—So, we are drinking less coffee but paying more for the privilege of brewing it a single cup at a time. How is this a good trade off?

The Surprising Environmental Reason Weed Should Be Legal—Marijuana should be legal nationwide because the war on drugs is a sham perpetuated by the prison industrial complex. It also appears that there is an environmental benefit to legalization.

Solar Power Per Capita & Wind Power Per Capita Leaders—Lichtenstein is the leader in per capita solar? Really?

Largest Solar Plant On Planet Earth — Solar Star — Comes Online—With all the hype about distributed solar—of which I am a big proponent—sometimes the scale of these utility projects gets lost. Solar Star in California has a rated capacity of 579 megawatts of funky yellow sun fueled electrical power.

How Renewables are Thriving in the US Thanks to State Policies—Government policy can advance the cause of renewables despite what right wingers might say:

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Total Plans 500-800 MW Solar Power Capacity In Bolivia—Bolivia has not ever come up in the links before that I can remember. The French energy titan Total is putting some serious money into renewables in that country.

3 Out Of 4 New Solar Homes In NSW To Include Battery Storage—The more I read and the more I think about the topic the more that I come to the conclusion that Australia seems like the perfect laboratory for the distribution of massive amounts of residential solar.

The West Is Literally On Fire, And The Impacts Could Be Widespread—As the climate changes as a result of global warming we are going to have to deal with the massive impacts of wildfires in drought stricken regions.

Californians Getting Drought Message: Water Usage Plunges—The state still has not addressed some of the agricultural usage insanity—like growing alfalfa to feed to cows or to export—but the residents of the state seem to be getting the idea that el Nino will not rescue them from drought this time.

Mark Bittman Wants You to Know the Drought Isn’t Your Fault—The drought is not our fault, but our food choices may be making things worse. Given the water situation in California there is no logical reason why cows should be residents of that state. None.

Corn Syrup’s DC Attack on Sugar Could Hit Minnesota Beet Industry—Talk about some lobby-on-lobby crime. These two subsidized industries need to get of the government welfare.

Hawaii Just Became The First State To Ban Plastic Bags At Grocery Checkouts—A big thank you to the aloha state for banning the distribution of single use plastic bags. These things are the scourge of the earth.

Friday Linkage 5/8/2015

I know that the people in California do not want to hear this, but eastern Iowa is a little sick of rain right now. It has stormed almost every day for the past week and the ground is the consistency of a soaked sponge. The forecast, unfortunately, calls for another week of similar showers and it means that most outdoor projects are going to get delayed another week. Ugh.

On to the links…

Why the Koch Brothers’ War against Clean Energy is Still Failing—You would think for a couple of supposedly astute business people—who got a nice helping hand by inheriting some level of wealth from their parents—the Koch brothers do not seem to get a good return on their investment in trying to fight progress. Of course, trying to fight progress is never a good idea in the long term because reactionary elements tend to die out leaving you alone as a flag bearer of outdated ideas.

MidAmerican Energy Plans $900 Million Wind Expansion in Iowa—That is almost a billion dollars and the news kind of flew under the radar. Including this investment MidAmerican Energy will have nearly 4,000 megawatts of wind power in Iowa with a total investment of almost $7 billion dollars. When the projects are completed the utility may be able to serve 57 percent of its total retail load with wind.

100% Renewable Electricity Goal Passed By Hawaiian Legislature—Hawaii should be 100% renewable considering the prices ratepayers are paying, the danger of bringing in fuel on tankers, and the state’s abundant renewable resource potential. Maybe politicians have finally listened.

95% Renewable Power-Mix Cheaper Than Nuclear And Gas—In a nutshell, at current costs with a decent share of renewables deployed the cost to deploy a nearly 100% renewable grid will cost nothing more to the consumer. The clean power revolution is already at the tipping point. We just need to apply some more pressure and leverage.

The New Normal? Renewables, Efficiency, And “Too Much Electricity”—Overgen might be something we need to get used to in the future and it speaks to the need for energy storage. Widely deployed energy storage, be it in the form of EVs or wall mounted batteries, can serve to level out the disparity between generation and demand of electricity.

Refrigeration Battery is a Cool Idea for Saving Energy at the Supermarket—I remember these ice systems being the rage a few years ago and I remember seeing one in action at New Belgium Brewery’s facility in Fort Collins, Colorado. Now, as time of day pricing becomes more prevalent these systems may start to proliferate.

Western Towns Hard-Hit by Climate Change Unite, Target Coal for Funds—There is a movement afoot at the grass roots level to adapt to the threat of climate change. National politicians will not see it because they are beholden to small number of primary voters and big ticket donors, but when reliably conservative western towns start making a ruckus they will have lost the war.

Hundreds of Lapsed Permits Found on Forest Service Land—Basically, private companies are not paying for what they are taking from the public trust. Criminals.

Bill Would Roll Back Public Lands Protections In The Name Of National Security—When will the insanity of the border protection industrial complex stop? Building more walls and radio towers and roads will not stop people trying to flee truly horrible situations in their own countries. Maybe if we put some of those resources into trying to make these countries better places there would not be such an exodus. Just saying.

Central Valley’s Growing Concern: Crops Raised with Oil Field Water—Would you like some heavy metals and other chemicals with your salad mix? Didn’t think so.

EPA Faces Struggle to Regulate Formaldehyde—Can’t we all just agree that formaldehyde is nasty stuff. People who lived in FEMA trailers know this. People who bought cheap laminate flooring from China at Lumber Liquidators know this. And kids in biology class know this.

The World’s First Self-Driving Semi-Truck Hits the Road—Imagine the increased efficiency of trucks that could drive at non-peak hours in a very consistent manner safely. Awesome. It would also be awesome if this technology were in consumer cars and I could just zone out during the stretch of interstate from North Platte, Nebraska until Denver. I-76 must die.

UPS to Experiment with Renewable Biogas in 400 Vehicles—Some places call it “poo” gas, but biogas derived from rotting organic material can be a drop in replacement from gas from fossil fuel sources. You can actually tap the landfill. How cool is that?

Friday Linkage 4/3/2015

Are the recent pieces of legislation that codify discrimination based on supposed religious grounds the death rattle of the right wing? Yes, the bills passed in Indiana and Arkansas. Heck, the governor of Indiana signed the crap legislation and now has backpedaled like an all-pro defensive back. However, the national backlash is inspiring. The majority of Americans think that this type of legislation is wrong—moral, legal, or otherwise. Once your party is stuck supporting such a lunatic fringe what hope do you have of being nationally relevant over the long term?

On to the links…

EPA To Place Restrictions On The World’s Most Widely Used Herbicide—Glyphosate is nasty shit, but it is available almost without restriction. It probably causes cancer and it is over applied throughout the U.S. The EPA is finally starting to act.

New Cars Are More Efficient Than Ever, Beating Standards By A ‘Wide Margin’—The most recent targets for fuel efficiency are working as cars rolling off the assembly line are increasingly fuel efficient. In 2013, cars were getting 1.3 miles per gallon more than was required by law. Damn.

Has motorization in the US peaked?—Peak car or peak motorization is a concept that draws out some pretty partisan bickering. The auto culture is a big part of the identity of the U.S. yet there is an undercurrent developing that is rejecting that component.

Banks Losing Millions On Bad Energy Industry Loans—Energy project financing rarely makes the headlines because people’s heads hurt when talking about debt. However, this is a big deal because it will make it increasingly difficult for fossil fuel energy projects to receive bank backed funding.

SolarCity Reaches 5 GWh In One Day, Two Weeks After Smashing Past 4 GW–Progress. Plain and simple.

$100 Million For Solar PV Systems In Hawaii—I am waiting for the day when Hawaii is 100% clean energy. With an expensive electricity market and ideal conditions the worm may be turning for this to become a reality.

600 MW Perovskite Solar Cell Facility Slated For Turkey—Every day other countries are getting in on the solar bandwagon. Remember, each year this plant will be pumping out 600 MW of solar cells that will destroy demand for fossil fuels. Each and every year.

Beijing Puts Brakes on New Solar Panel Capacity—It was a low-key announcement but the overcapacity of solar cell manufacturing that has led to a supply gut and drastic price cuts has compelled the Chinese government to put a halt to further manufacturing capacity additions.

Clean Energy Makes Up Record Share of UK Power with Coal-to-Biomass Conversions—The moral of the story is that coal is screwed. Renewables and cheap gas are pushing the dirtiest of fuels to the backburner. For good, hopefully.

Wind Replaces Coal, Geothermal Overtakes Gas As Major Sources Of Power Generation In New Zealand—Almost 80% of the energy produced in New Zealand is from clean sources. Coal and gas are both declining as renewables come on line that are cheap and clean.

Beijing’s Four Major Coal-Fired Power Plants Will Completely Shut Down—I do not know if it will make a difference in China’s notorious air quality, but the people of Beijing have agitated enough that officials have made the decision to close the four closest plants burning coal. It’s baby steps.

How Long Can Oceans Continue To Absorb Earth’s Excess Heat?—There is a growing scientific consensus that climate change’s impacts have been mitigated by the world’s oceans being able to absorb excess heat. Now there is a concern that this mitigation is reaching the end of the line. Uh oh.

Bayou Bonjour: Caernarvon Diversion Builds Land and Gives Birth to New Bayou—This an amazing story about the restorative power of letting nature do its thing. River deltas are some of the most threatened ecosystems on the planet, yet these same ecosystems have the ability to be restored in short order if left alone.

Warming Winters Not Main Cause of Pine Beetle Outbreaks—This is interesting because for years the narrative in the American west has been that global warming has allowed the pine bark beetle to survive previously harsh winters and thus decimate forests. However, the real culprit may be forest thick with trees that would have been thinned out via other natural events that man has prevented. Ten o’clock rule anyone?

Florida’s Climate Denial Could Cause Catastrophic Recession-Florida and Rick Scott are the best. Essentially, so much property in Florida is insured by the federal government that if a major loss of value occurs due to a natural disaster—which will be made worse by the very climate change that Rick Scott denies is real—the U.S. economy may be pushed into a deep recession because of the cost.

Tips to Lower Your Carbon Footprint—Sometimes you just need to take a little action by yourself:

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Friday Linkage 3/13/2015

Things are going to be on hiatus for a while during my vacation, which begins about lunchtime today. Later.

On to the links…

Here’s What Gas Would Have To Cost To Account For Health And Environmental Impacts—If gasoline prices had to account for externalities it would cost an additional $3.80 per gallon. That would make a gallon of gas here in eastern Iowa cost ~$6.25. Seems about right.

The World Added 51,477 Megawatts of Wind Power in 2014—That total number represents a 44% increase over the prior year.

US Solar PV Installations Surpassed 6 GW In 2014—If you could not tell I have a hard jones for solar. It looks like the rest of the U.S. is catching on to my solar love.

Solar and Wind on Track to Dominate New U.S. Power Capacity in 2015—2014 was a good year, but 2015 may be even better. The climate change deniers and fossil fuel flunkies can harp about solar panels and wind turbines being for the hair shirt crowd…it does not matter. The market is speaking. I love that invisible hand.

US PV Installations Predicted To Pass 8 GW in 2015—Every time you see a headline the numbers for installations are bigger. It’s like a snowball rolling downhill and picking up some wicked speed.

Solar System Pricing Dropped By 9% In 2014—Almost a 10% drop in one year! Talk about bending the cost curve downward.

Solar As Cheap As Coal… Why Not Cheaper?—Balance of system costs and “soft” costs are keeping the price of solar systems higher than need be. If the cost curve for these other costs were matching the cost curve for panels solar systems would be way cheap.

Hawaii Ready for 100% Renewable Energy—I am a big Hawaii fan. If my family would allow it I would sell all of my stuff and move to the islands tomorrow. It’s also a great laboratory for what the future of renewable energy in the U.S. looks like. Now, if I could just find some of that Hawaiian Sun here on the mainland.

New York Just Showed Every Other State How to Do Solar Right—Public policy is not the most exciting topic to wade through, but small changes can have dramatic impacts on markets. Since most utilities are regulated as public concerns there is a great amount of influence that policy can have on their behavior.

You Can Now Invest In Solar Bonds Through Your Retirement Account—If you thought public policy was boring wait until you wade into the world of IRA options and plan construction. However, trillions of dollars are stashed in these funds so it is a huge potential source of funding for the solar industry if “solar bonds” can become a trusted investment grade vehicle.

Solar Power To Form 25% Of India’s Installed Power Capacity By 2022—India, a rapidly growing emerging economy, is doubling down on renewables, particularly solar, like a riverboat gambler with a hot hand.

Non-Fossil Fuel Sources Provide 25% of China’s Electricity—China’s air may be a mess and the country is still a totalitarian state, but they are trying.

Ghana Increases Levy On Petroleum Products To Fund Solar Power Projects—This is a wonderful piece of policy and something I wish the U.S. would adopt. Tax fossil fuels to fund the development of renewables. It would never happen here because of big money influence. You go Ghana.

Documents Detail Sugar Industry Efforts To Direct Medical Research—As if you needed more proof that the industrial giants behind sugar and process foods were manipulating health officials, doctors, and governments. Well, here you go.

Perennial Rice: In Search of a Greener, Hardier Staple Crop—Perennial rice seems like a great idea as it avoids the destructive process of planting, but critics point to lower yields. It’s an interesting scientific pursuit.

The True Energy Savings of Living Sustainably—I have not posted an infographic in a while and thought this one uses British pounds as a currency you can do the math to figure out what the savings would be:

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Friday Linkage 2/20/2015

This week was hard. Vanilla Ice got nabbed for burglarizing a vacant home next to a home that he and his crew were remodeling. Stay classy ,nilla!

On to the links…

If People Treated Their Homes like They Treat the Earth—Pretty much says it all:

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Statistical Realism—At its most basic, the shale oil boom is a momentary blip in the inevitable decline of readily available and economically viable fossil fuels. The sooner we come to the realization the better off the economy and environment will be.

Is Hawaii’s Solar Power Surge Slowing Down?—Hawaii has solar panels on ~10% of roofs statewide, which compares with ~0.5% in the U.S. as a whole, but as the technology disperses and penetrates the market further conflicts have risen to the fore. HECO, the primary provider of electric power on the islands, is no friend to this site and is claiming to have reached a point of saturation. Never mind the threat to their little monopoly.

Cloudy Prospects for Rooftop Solar Growth in Florida—Unlike Hawaii, Florida is trying to not even get the ball rolling when it comes to rooftop solar. Then again this is a state where the top elected official oversaw the largest fraud in the history of Medicare.

SolarCity Leasing 200,000-Sq-Ft Former Solyndra Manufacturing Facility In Fremont—Solyndra was Benghazi before there was a Benghazi for Republicans. It’s too bad the successes of the loan program were not highlighted, only the failures but that is the cost of doing business with a political party in the pocket of the oil and gas industry. SolarCity, however, is killing it now.

1 Million Solar Homes Project Announced By President of Tanzania—The developing world holds a lot of potential for distributed renewables because the investment in a centralized infrastructure was never made. Essentially, these nations can “leapfrog” that development step.

World’s Biggest Offshore Windfarm Approved for Yorkshire Coast—The numbers are pretty staggering…enough electricity to power approximately 2 million homes…covering 430 square miles…900 jobs…potentially 2.5% of the U.K.’s electricity needs. Damn.

Biofuel from Trash could Create Green Jobs Bonanza—This is an interesting development. Close by in Marion, Iowa a Dutch company is building a sorting facility that will provide an ethanol distillery with the feedstock it requires. The feedstock is the municipal waste stream. I kind of look forward to pulling up for a gallon or two of “trashanol.”

First Purebred Bison Roam Larimer County since Civil War—The problem with a lot of existing stock of bison is that the animals have been crossbred with cattle—remember the beefalo? Thus, genetically pure hers are an important reservoir of genetic diversity for this amazing animal.

Warmer Ocean Blamed for Struggling Sea Lion Pups found at Beaches—Raise your hand if you saw this coming when you read the stories about starving sea lion pups. Yep, pretty much everyone with half a brain and an eye on the changing planetary dynamics brought about by human derived climate change.

We Lock Up Tons of Innocent People—and Charge Them for the Privilege—We have privatized a lot of penal functions, so it should come as no surprise that the prison industrial complex has tried everything within its purview to maintain revenue in the face of public opposition to a continued crisis of incarceration.

At Chipotle, How Many Calories Do People Really Eat?—Watching people dive into burritos loaded with sour cream, cheese, and guacamole almost makes me want to scream because they have no idea how many calories are in the food. Just because it is prepared in front of you from well sourced ingredients does not mean that it is necessarily a good idea to pile on the toppings.

General Mills Cutting Sugar in Yoplait Original by 25 percent—The more I read and the more I think about nutrition—Sweet Poison by David Gillespie helped as well—the more I come to the conclusion that added sugar is the primary culprit in our national waistline problem. Yogurt is a great example of this. Just look at the ingredients and see how much added sugar is in this “healthy” food.

The Unnatural: How Mark Dayton Bested Scott Walker—and Became the Most Successful Governor in the Country—Nobody ever really talks about Minnesota as a laboratory for politics on a national level. It’s viewed with the same curiosity that other nations view Nordic countries. There must be something to all that cold weather and clean living.

A Room-by-Room Guide To Ousting The (Energy) Vampires Lurking In Your Home—There is a stunning amount of energy that gets consumed by appliances just standing at the ready. Take the time to cut down on these vampire loads and the planet will thank you.