Tag Archives: Iceland

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:

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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:

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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.

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 10/4/2013

The government is shut down, the debt ceiling is about to be reached, and all we hear is politicians crowing on the news shows about how no one wants to “compromise.”  Note to any tea party Republicans, when you only control one chamber of the legislature and do not occupy the office of the executive compromise does not equal getting everything you want.  As it was said so many times during the second Bush’s dastardly administration, elections have consequences.  I also remember a lot of these same blowhards saying “love it or leave it” but that sentiment seems to be one that only bloviating Rush Limbaugh types like to bust out.

On to the links…

U.S. Carbon Dioxide Emissions down 11 Percent Since 2007—There are a lot of interesting graphs to drive home the point, but comes down to some pretty simple facts—we are burning less coal, driving fewer miles, and getting more miles per gallon from our cars.

America’s First “Legal” Hemp Crop in Almost 60 Years—It’s legality can be questioned because the federal government probably does not view it the same as state authorities.  Granted, the feds have other things to worry about right now.  It’s a small step, but hemp could be an interesting crop for farmers to add to the rotation.

Can the Economy go Full Circle—The idea of a circular economy—where new goods are produced from old goods without using new resources—is the holy grail of the green community.  Instead of downcycling, things are truly recycled.

Tastes Like Chicken—Is non-meat meat the future?  If you read this article by uber food dude Alton Brown there might be a glimmer of hope for faux meat to reach the promise of replacing the conventional meat in the future.

The Benefit of Frozen Foods—I do not get why people hate on frozen foods so much.  Sure, it seems like buying reusable bags full of fresh food all the time is the best solution but there is a place for frozen foods in the equation of healthy living.  I am not talking about frozen pizzas or T.V. dinners.  Think about the utility of frozen vegetables or fruits.

The Nacho Dorito Taste—Do you want to know why you crave a half dozen Doritos Los Tacos at 2 AM?  Watch this video from Michael Moss and find out.  Or, just stay blissfully ignorant about the ways that our brains are manipulated by food scientists.  Hmmmm, tacos…

IKEA to Sell Residential Solar Panels in Britain—A lot of analysts talk about something meeting the China or India price.  That is the point when things become affordable in emerging markets.  Well, for the developed world I think it should be called the IKEA price.  Now you are going to be able to buy a solar PV system at everyone’s favorite purveyor of flat pack furniture.

Xcel Energy Opens Way to Solar Gardens—Solar gardens are a sweet idea.  A lot of people do not live in homes that can take advantage of roof mounted racks of solar panels.  These people would probably like to take advantage of renewable energy.  This is where a solar garden comes in.  You buy into a portion of the power produced and the array is built in a location that is suitable.  It’s a great idea because it expands the pool of people who can participate and it scales up projects to take advantage of cost efficiencies.

Iceland Seeks to Cash in on its Abundant Renewable Energy—Iceland is always a fascinating country to me.  Something about it just intrigues me.  Already the country gets most of its electricity from renewable sources, geothermal and hydro, and it is looking to export that power via an undersea cable to Europe.  I guess international banking was a bust, so something had to give.

Composting Made Easy—Besides making your children do it, I dig the idea of just burying kitchen scraps in the garden.  A lot of permaculture gardens use a similar method of burying organic matter to decompose deep within beds.

How to Grow a Food Forest—I just love food forests.  There is something magical about a lush landscape that produces food.  It’s like living in Pixie Hollow.

Siberian Tigers Making a Comeback in China—It looks like one of the most endangered apex predators in the world has a shot at survival.  If an animal can make a comeback in China, it can probably be something that is repeated just about anywhere else.

Elephant Says Goodbye to an Old Friend—As elephants are slaughtered in Africa, it is essential to remember the humanity of these majestic creatures.  Here is a picture of an elephant standing guard over an old friend who has passed away.  It’s gut wrenching and touching at the same time.

Geothermal Potential

Wind and solar get the lion’s share of attention when it comes to discussing renewable energy and the portfolio of options for zero carbon electricity generation.  Nuclear energy is brought up by its proponents as part of the solution, but the cost and risk, in regards to both the project liability and the waste disposal issue, preclude it from being a serious part of the discussion.  Hydropower is definitely part of the solution because it is well proven and can provide consistent power, but it is unlikely that any new major hydropower projects are going to be built because of the damage existing facilities have done to our waterways.  Any gain in hydropower will be achieved through wringing out more electricity from currently running facilities, replacing derelict power generation facilities, or retrofitting existing dams to accommodate hydropower.  Granted, there is probably a lot of potential in those three options but I am no expert.

One renewable energy source that is consistently overlooked is geothermal.  Maybe it’s because we cannot picture a geothermal plant or, if we can, it conjures up images of Iceland.  However, geothermal power is an excellent source of base load renewable power.  What do I mean by base load?  This is the power that is available consistently 24 hours a day.  Wind and solar are intermittent and variable, so it is hard to go to a system that depends upon such power.  This is the argument that the coal and natural gas lobbies use to defend the construction and operation of their facilities.  Geothermal power, however, is there all the time.

But what is the potential for the power?  Not everyone lives in a place like Iceland or Hawaii where the hot core of the earth is literally bursting at the seams and pouring out as lava.  Here is what the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) worked up using date from Southern Methodist University:

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The western United States is brimming with potential for geothermal power.  Even my little portion of southeast Iowa looks like it might be sitting on a potential spot for favorable, if not optimum, conditions.

Iceland, a country known for its volcanic activity and hot springs, gets an estimated 30% of its electricity from geothermal sources.  Now, imagine a world where everyone got 30% of their electricity from geothermal and what that would represent in terms of closures of dirty fossil fuel plants.

Don’t think it can be done in the U.S.?  Why not?

Let’s look at Iowa, my home state, for a moment.  According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) the production of electricity in January 2013, the latest month for which data is available publicly, looked like this:

Chart Energy

Iowa is already getting almost one-third of its electricity from renewables, a combination including a small amount of hydroelectric, with the rest coming primarily from coal.  At these levels there is approximately 100 GWh of coal fired electricity being generated per day.  Using my crude mathematics skill—100 GWh per day = 100,000 MWh per day = 4167 MW per hour—you would need to install ~4200 MWs of capacity to totally supplant coal.  Granted, no facility is 100% efficient so assuming 75% efficiency the installed capacity would have to be rated at approximately 5,500 MW.

Now, the U.S. as a whole does not have that much installed capacity for geothermal but I was trying to replace all coal fired generation.  There is nothing to say that coal cannot be supplanted by a portfolio of options, one of which could be geothermal.  I am just trying to show that there is a place in the conversation for geothermal energy.

The more research that I do into the issue the more I am left with the distinct feeling that no one really knows how much geothermal power potential exists.

The problem is that there does not appear to be a lot of movement to develop these resources in any cohesive national way.  We hear a lot about the production tax credit for wind power or feed-in tariffs for solar energy, but there is no equivalent government incentive for geothermal that would spur development.  Why?

As we look to transition to a carbon neutral economy a solution like geothermal power cannot be ignored.