Tag Archives: renewable energy

Friday Linkage 2/9/2017

So Herr Trump wants a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue now.  Why?  Probably because he got to go to a parade in France and he cannot be upstaged by the French.

Can we just allow this doofus to get a few parades, drive a few tanks, make a few speeches, and let him believe he is the President of the United States while some adults actually do the governing?  I do not think that I can take three more years of this clown.

On to the links…

The Dark Reason so Many Millennials are Miserable and Broke—This is a lot more important than I think even the authors believe.  People are literally living in a way that is trying to compete with complete strangers on social media platforms and it’s killing them.  Not literally, which has to be the millennials favorite word, but spiritually.  Just stop.

Why Trump Wants to Repeal an Obama-Era Clean Water Rule—The reason why he wants to repeal this rule has to do with him hating anything to do with Obama and Scott Pruitt being a toady for industry.  The real question will be what these stooges come up with to replace the current rules.

Every Climate Denier in Trump’s Cabinet—It is always good to see what kind of no talent ass clowns Trumps has surrounded himself with these days.  Now, it is likely that by the end of the month several of these people will have angered the head cheese puff so take it with a grain of salt.

A Beginner’s Guide to the Debate over 100% Renewable Energy—No one knows what is possible or probable because the assumptions we make today will not be in valid in three to five years anyway.  The one thing I think we all can agree on is that clean energy is better than fossil fuel energy.  Anything after that is just a discussion about degrees of development.

Regulatory Relief Didn’t Help Coal Industry in 2017 and Can’t Save it in 2018—Trump can hold a hundred rallies and talk about “beautiful clean coal” all he wants because the market does not want it anymore.  It’s called a death spiral for a reason.

Coal’s Foes and Friends get Fired up in Hearing Over Future of Xcel Plants in Colorado—This is like trench warfare.  Each coal plant that gets retired is not going to be replaced with other coal fired power, so it is gone forever.  However, you have to fight every battle anew and each fight is entered with renewed vigor by all sides.

5 Graphs Explain Coal in Trump’s First Year—It’s not a pretty picture if you like “beautiful clean coal.”

Squaw Valley to Be First Ski Resort in U.S. to Run Just on Renewables—If you ski then you understand how at risk our pastime is to the impacts of climate change.  The powers that be running these ski resorts are woke to the reality.

Australian Solar Installs Are Going Through The Roof—Australia can feel like the future and a vision of the past all at the same time.

Tesla To Construct Virtual Solar Power Plant Using 50,000 Homes In South Australia—Let’s consider Australia to be the laboratory for what large scale solar power integrating into a larger grid looks like for the future of every sunny place in the world.  If they get it figured out we just scale it worldwide.

Nebraska Republican Seeks to Hobble Wind Power by Redefining it as Not ‘Renewable’—This is why Nebraska should not be allowed to have nice things.

What Bison in South Dakota can Teach us About Fighting Climate Change—Land use and agriculture are two areas where we can make dramatic gains in the fight against catastrophic climate change without having to confront the same demons of the fossil fuel industrial complex.

Being A Homebody Has A Surprising Environmental Upside—Anyone who spends a bunch of time at home—like me—understands this almost implicitly.  Once you get away from the temptation of online shopping—buying stuff is not good no matter how green the product—it becomes almost like a passion project.

Climate Strange—Maybe we should all just embrace a little bit of our weird side.  I got looked at a little bit strange when I put solar panels on my roof, but now at least a half dozen homes have panels on the roof in my neighborhood.  Who’s strange now?  Hopefully my bike commuting catches on in a similar way.

H&M is Closing Stores as Sales Shrink—Could we finally be reaching a point when we are past peak fast fashion crap?


Almost 200 kWh of Solar Electricity in January

So close.  Like less than 5 kWh away from a total of 200 kWh for the month:


Still, I like that production is trending upward after some fairly light months in the last quarter of 2017.  It will be very interesting to see how quickly my system ramps up production as the days increase in length and the amount of solar radiation increases.

Based on my, admittedly crude, calculations I should overproduce against my initial estimates in the summer months and underperform during the winter months.  Only time will tell if my math works out this time.

Maybe I should add some more panels?

For the month I figure that my solar photovoltaic system produced more than two-thirds of the electricity that we used for the month.  Considering that we were home for the entire month and only went out to eat twice—I call that a “home based life”—it feels even more like success.

Friday Linkage 1/26/2017

It has been an odd few weeks.  For a good portion of that time I was on a forced digital detox as my work computer went belly up—twice!—and some of my frequently used online accounts were frozen as a result of a fault in some encryption software.  To make a long story short my work computer failing sent out a signal to my online accounts that someone was trying to do something nefarious in my name.  Thus I spent two weeks in a sort of 1990s like on line presence.  It was actually kind of refreshing.

Now, I am back online and back at it…which also means that I am witness to the insanity of our world yet again.

On to the links…

One Year In, Trump’s Environmental Agenda is Already Taking a Measurable Toll—The Trump administration may seem incompetent and, in many ways, the people running government are truly clueless.  However, when it comes to rolling back progress on environmental issues he has picked some real go getters.

In Colorado, a Glimpse of Renewable Energy’s Insanely Cheap Future—The future is here.  These prices are for projects to be built by companies looking to make money.  This is not some speculative investment in burgeoning technologies.  This is mature, utility scale renewable energy being offered in a competitive solicitation.

Orphaned’ oil and gas wells are on the rise—Remember this every time that you hear someone like Rick Perry or Scott Pruitt say that industry will do what is right because of…reasons.  The only thing these companies will do is try to extract the maximum amount of money with the minimum amount of inputs.  Once you view them through that lens then none of the subsequent behavior is surprising.

Several Key Coal States Lost More Jobs than they Gained in Trump’s First Year—My father used to say that dinosaurs do not appear dead for a while because it takes them a little longer to roll over.  Coal is rolling over despite Tump’s best attempts—Rick Perry, at his finest, and wearing hard hats at rallies—at creating a renaissance.

Australia Will Meet 2020 Renewable Energy Target Following Record Investments—Everyone seems to be putting more money into the renewable energy game.  Will the U.S. end of getting left behind?  Not in the Kirk Cameron bad movie sense either.

Saudi Arabia Plans Up to $7 Billion of Renewable Energy Projects This Year—Why?  Use fewer fossil fuels at home, so that they can export more fossil fuels abroad.  What happens if no one is there to buy the fossil fuels?

The ski resorts of the West—I want this map.  Christmas present anyone?

Athletes Who Are the Same Size as Donald Trump—This is the thing that drives me nuts about Trump more than anything: he has to be the “best” at everything even when the preponderance of evidence staring him and everyone else in the face tells a different story.  He is a spoiled rich kid who spent his whole life telling everyone the same lie, “I’m the most amazing…”  It’s just too bad enough suckers actually believed him and voted for him to become president thus perpetuating this lie.


Friday Linkage 1/5/2018

It’s 2018 and it’s cold.  I am not just talking about the relationships in and out of the Trump White House either.

Since it is so cold across much of the United States I am waiting for James Inhofe to give one of his patented rants about how winter disproves any science about global warming or climate change.  It will happen as surely as taxes, ridiculous tweets by Trump, and bad midseason television shows.

On to the links…

Ryan Zinke Taps almost $40,000 from Wildfire Preparedness Fund to Pay for a Helicopter Trip—Scandal and corruption have a name.  That name is Ryan Zinke and he is the head of the Department of the Interior.  The government is nothing but a slush fund for these kleptocrats to live high on the hog while the Donald tweets his latest brain fart.

Vehicles are Now America’s Biggest CO2 Source but EPA is Tearing up Regulations—Reducing our use of fossil fuels for transportation is the single biggest challenge facing us in the coming years.  However, it is one the easiest things for individuals to reduce given our profligate use of personal automobiles for transportation.

Norway Reaches Carbon Emissions Goal From Transportation 3 Years Early, Thanks To Tesla—The solutions to reduce our transportation emissions exist.  It is a question of political will and money.  Norway did it.

100% — Chinese City’s Record-Smashing 16,359 Electric Bus Fleet—Shenzen went all EV for its bus fleet.  Imagine if the major U.S. cities made this kind of commitment?  It would mean a huge buildout in charging infrastructure and demand for EV busses that would drive down the cost for smaller fleets.  It’s a virtuous circle of EV awesomeness.

Finance Institutions Are Making a Massive Investment in Solar—Is this where the worm turns?  Once financial institutions choose renewables over fossil fuels it will be increasingly difficult for the legacy energy regime to finance expansion in any economical manner which will be a death knell for the future of those fuels.  We can hope.

The Dutch Plan to Build an Artificial Island to Support the World’s Largest Wind Farm—The Dutch are not fooling around when it comes to wind.  30 GW of wind power is a huge amount.  How huge?  30 GW roughly equates to 30,000 MW of capacity.  In real terms that represents more than 4 times the wind power installed in the state of Iowa.

New York to Procure 800 MW of Offshore Wind in Next Two Years—After seeing what the Dutch are doing this does not seem like much, but any progress is progress.

Trump Holds Geothermal Card Up His Sleeve When Pitching “Energy Dominance”—What role does geothermal energy play in the future energy mix?  Like hydro, geothermal tends to be a forgotten player despite its benefits of being near baseload power and having a lot of unexplored potential.  The fact that the Trump administration has the near future in its hands—however tiny—makes me very nervous.

Nuclear Agency Has The Hots For Solar Energy Windows—I have the hots for solar windows.  Imagine every multistory building with a glass façade generating electricity because it was covered in transparent solar glass.  That is the future, man.

Takeout Creates a Lot of Trash. It Doesn’t Have To.—Normally, I do not patronize takeout.  Choosing to dine in or eat homecooked meals is my modus operandi.  However, this past week I brought some takeout beignets from the Lost Cajun in Breckenridge to our friend’s condo.  I can attest to the waste of takeout.

Tom Brady Is Drowning In His Own Pseudoscience—Like Gwyneth Paltrow and Goop, Tom Brady and his junk science doctor are peddling some serious bullshit.  Here is my two cents: If someone is giving you health advice and also selling an item to further that same advice take the time to question the veracity of every claim.  This includes the health advice from your doctor.  And Tom Brady.  Especially Tom Brady.


We Have More than Enough Money to Decarbonize Our Energy System

If I ever hear another American politician say that we cannot afford the transition to clean energy I will scream.  Why you ask?

In 2012 it was estimated that consumers in the U.S spent approximately $65 billion on soda.  In that same year it was estimated that consumers in the U.S. spent approximately $11 billion on bottled water.  [1] That is to say that American consumers spent over $75 billion on unnecessary drinks and, in the case of soda, a product that is generally regarded to be detrimental to your health.  Not to mention the environmental impact of disposable, single use containers.

Okay, why is that relevant in the terms of this discussion?  In 2016, the most recent year for which full year data is available, the U.S. invested $44 billion in clean energy including both private investing and government expenditure.  [2]

Therefore, we spend more than 50% more on soda and bottled water per year than we invest in clean energy.  If we just directed the money from soda and bottled water to clean energy investment it would represent an increase of 172%.  That is a lot of solar panels and wind turbines.

Someone may argue that this scenario is impractical, but I would challenge such an argument on several fronts.  One, spending on soda and bottled water—for the most part—is totally discretionary.  No one needs a Diet Coke to survive and other than emergency situations no one needs bottled water.  It could be argued that it would be better if no one consumed bottled water given the economic and environmental impact of a product that can also be obtained from municipal water supplies.  Two, by and large individuals now have the power to redirect their discretionary spending toward renewable energy.  As long as you have the capital or alternative financing arrangements are available you can put solar panels directly on your roof.  Thus, your Diet Coke and Evian habit can be turned into clean energy.  A direct substitution, so to speak.

My point is to illuminate that when we discuss the level of investment necessary to decarbonize our energy system it needs to be placed in direct comparison to some broader economic choices.  Is the future our planet worth skipping that Dr. Pepper?

  1. http://classroom.synonym.com/how-much-do-americans-spend-on-soft-drinks-12081634.html
  2. http://www.businessinsider.com/us-2015-renewable-energy-investments-2016-5

Friday Linkage 11/3/2017

Could Washington D.C. be a bigger shit show right now?  Just when you think that American democracy has hit a new low, Donald J. Trump and his sycophants come out with some new affront to decency.  At what point do people look around and tally up the damage done—Russia, cronyism, nepotism, money laundering, and the list goes on for sure?  Is it 2018 yet?

On to the links…

This One Quote Shows What Angry White Guys Mean when They Talk About Government Overreach—Nothing says America like making a truck belch thick plumes of diesel smoke.  Oh wait, nothing says ‘Merica quite like the practice of rolling coal.  My bad.  The sooner that politicians stop pandering to this segment of society the sooner we can move on to a more advanced phase of our development as a country.

The Trump Administration Is Teeming With Climate-Change Deniers—It is like Donald Trump sat down with his chief of staff and asked, “Can you find me the biggest sack of sorry ass climate deniers to staff my administration with because…fake news.  Sad.  Isn’t Ivanka amazing?”

Scott Pruitt Is Using the Bible as His Guide for Reorganizing EPA’s Science Boards—If you thought it could not get worse, it usually does with the Trump administration.  I always wonder why these guys manage to peel out the parts of the Bible that they like without actually having to follow all of its prescriptions like, say, not eating shrimp.  Just consider this list of things “banned” in Leviticus.

Scandals Pile up for Interior Secretary—Sam Clovis did not even get to assume his post, so maybe we can now focus on the organizational dumpster fire that is Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.  We’ve got campaign finance chicanery, disaster relief scandals, plane scandals, and a whole bag full of other crap.

Global Solar Market Demand Expected To Reach 100 Gigawatts In 2017—What does 100 GW mean?  It would be a 30% increase over what was installed in 2016.  This makes solar the fastest growing form of energy in the world.

US Wind Energy Pipeline Nears 30 Gigawatts—This is not 30 GW worldwide, but 30 GW just in the United States.  Suck it coal.

Trump Admin. Desperate To Keep Coal Power Plant Alive With Taxpayer Dollars—It is not and it never was about the free market.  Trump’s obsession with coal goes back to his need for adoration and coal barons are always ready to give Trump the love because he is their last hope.  The market does not love them.  The utilities do not love them.  Trump does love him some coal.

Italy To Phase Out Coal By 2025—Another one bites the dust.

Electric Buses are Coming, and They’re Going to Help Fix 4 Big Urban Problems—If I had to put my money behind the electrification of transportation in America I would start with buses and garbage trucks.  There are few vehicles I see that could benefit from the advantages of an electric drivetrains and getting black smoke billowing diesel engines out of our cities would be a good thing.

Vikings Razed the Forests. Can Iceland Regrow Them?—The moral of this story is that it is hard to undo damage.  Especially when that damage occurred over a thousand years ago and your country happens to be a volcanic hot zone.  It does not mean, however, that you do not try.

If You Care About Cleantech, You Have To Change Your Diet—There are few more impactful things you can do in terms of greenhouse gas emissions than changing your diet to one that does not feature meat or other animal products.

Why You Shouldn’t Exercise to Lose Weight, Explained with 60+ Studies—You are what you eat.  Literally.  It does however make sense for you to exercise to be healthy.  There is nothing more liberating than following an exercise regimen to reach a goal that is not weight specific.  The scale is no longer your enemy.  It’s just another diagnostic tool.


Friday Linkage 10/27/2017

A little late with the links today, but I was distracted by eastern Iowa’s first flurries.  While most of my co-workers were cursing the sudden snap to cold weather I was dishing out my silent thanks to Ullr.  Winter is coming and those deranged bastards like myself are very excited.  It also helps that I am less than 60 days away from a break in Summit County.

On to the links…

The Key to Tackling Climate Change: Electrify Everything—It is a simple plan.  Step one: clean up electricity.  Step two: electrify everything.  The best part is that step one can be ongoing while we start step two.

Pollution Linked to 9 Million Deaths Worldwide in 2015—Here is the human cost of pollution.  This is why we are working to close down coal fired power plants and electrify our transportation.

Global Tree Cover Loss Reaches a Record High in 2016—Can we all agree that reforestation is an admirable goal?  Who can disagree with trying to regenerate the forests of this planet?

Scott Pruitt Betrays a Deep Distrust of his own Agency with New Announcement—You have to wonder about people who profess to hate government, seek positions in government, work to destroy the things government can do, and wonder why people are upset with them afterward.  When the accounting is done in a few years the Trump presidency and its administration will be considered one of the worst ever.

The Most Effective Clean Energy Policy gets the Least Love—This should be a conservative wet dream.  A state sets a percentage for renewable energy to contribute to the grid by a certain date and industry figures out the most effective way to make that happen.  In Iowa it is wind power all the way, but in Arizona it might be solar.  In Hawaii it might be an expansion of geothermal.  Local solutions, baby!  However, the Koch-addled brain on modern Republicans heard renewable and thought, “Kochs told me renewable power is bad.  Socialism.  Fake news.  Sad.”

Renewable Energy is Creating US Jobs Twice as Fast as Any Other Industry—Republicans might crow about jobs all day long, but they do not care about jobs except as a way to line the pockets of their fossil fuels interest.  Just like the forthcoming tax plan everyone who is not a millionaire or giant corporation will be content with scraps at the end of the feeding trough.

Trump Administration Scrambles to Save Largest Coal Plant in the West—There are no more conservative principles.  These coal fired power plants were priced out of the market by a number of factors with cheap natural gas being the most prominent.  However, the Trump administration needs to bring home the bacon for the coal barons so the book of political tricks is open for them to play from.

Solar Power Crushes its Own Record for Cheapest Electricity ‘Ever, Anywhere, by any Technology’—Think about this for a moment, the lowest price for solar power is now the highest price in current bids.  That is not bending a cost curve, that is blowing it up.

Hybrid Wind, Solar and Energy Storage Project Coming to Australia—The future is here and it might be in Australia.  A season of unreliable power has really forced the folks down under to consider solutions.

Still No Takers For One Of India’s Cheapest Solar Projects—I am blown away by this development.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Winners and Losers of the Electric Car Race (So Far)—It is very early in this race so it is my guess that the winners in a few years will look nothing like the winners we think of today.  Heck, some of the companies at the head of the pack might not even exist in a few years.