Tag Archives: renewable energy

Friday Linkage 5/31/2019

It’s the last day of May, which means the high summer is just around the corner.

The crazy thing is that my summer trip to the Rocky Mountains is being altered by the presence of snow from this amazing winter.  The recpath through Ten Mile Canyon is closed due to avalanche debris removal.  Several 14er summits are closed until late summer (e.g. August) because of snowpack.

However, A-Basin might still be open by the time I roll into Summit County so I have that going for me.

On to the links…

Energy Department says Gas Permit Promotes ‘Molecules of Freedom’—That’s right kids, for those of you too young to remember “freedom fries” the Orwellian Trump administration has now rebranded natural gas as “freedom molecules.”  You cannot make this stuff up.

Renewable Energy Costs Take Another Tumble, Making Fossil Fuels Look More Expensive Than Ever—The market has spoken.  Renewable energy is cheaper than fossil fuels.  The future is now.

The Billion-Dollar Coal Bailout Nobody Is Talking About: Self-Committing In Power Markets—The price wars have been won and renewables beat coal.  Now, market forces are being superseded by back door shenanigans.

Rich Farmers, Not Mom-and-Pop Farms, Will Collect Most of Trump’s Tariff Bailout—This is America under Trump.  The rich get bailouts and everyone else is left holding the check.  Don’t believe me?  Ask any contractor that has ever done work with Trump.

Mining Has Been King in Idaho for Generations. A Little-Known Law Might Stop That.—Mining is king across the west.  Outdoor recreation is the new king.

The Bus Wars are Over. Electricity — and China — Won.—Here’s the thing, anyone can buy a lot of electric buses.  Just because China has “won” so far does not mean that another country cannot leapfrog.  The energy transition is not a zero sum game where there must be a winner for every loser.

Visualization: 2012–2019 US Electric Car Sales (This Is A Must See)—This image is just fun to watch.

EV Charging Sites Now Outnumber Petrol Stations in UK—Never mind the plugs available in many homes.  If you build it, the people will come.

Algae: Single-Celled Savior Of The Climate Crisis—I feel like we have been talking about algae as a source for oils and other compounds for decades with the breakthrough just around the corner.  The problem is that we never seem to turn the corner.

A Major US Utility is Moving Toward 100% Clean Energy Faster than Expected—This is happening under a Trump administration.  Imagine how fast the transition could be under a progressive president.  I am hoping that the last few years have been storing up momentum for the transition like winding a spring.  Once some barriers are removed it will be like letting go of a slingshot.

Illinois Will Make Polluters Pay for Coal Ash Cleanup—How expensive will coal be for utilities when they are forced to pay for the cleanup of the leftovers?

The Ticket to 100% Renewable Power is Underneath Our Feet—Geothermal energy is the unloved member of the renewable energy family.  Part of it is that I think the technology, at face value, resembles fossil fuel electricity generating plants and even utilizes some of the same drilling technology.  However, geothermal is green and it is base load power.

Cool Your Home Without Air Conditioning—It’s almost air conditioning season here in the Midwest, although a cool and wet spring has moderated that arrival somewhat.  Just going a little bit longer without turning on the AC can be a big energy saver.

Scientists Develop a Super-Strong Wood that Completely Reflects the Sun’s Heat—How do I get siding made of this material?

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Friday Linkage 5/24/2019

You may not believe climate change is here and you may not believe that the strange weather we have seen this spring is the future, but I have seen what our flagrant disregard for science has wrought and it is not pretty.

Rain events that were once rare are now common.  Floods in Iowa are an annual or more regular occurrence.  My prediction is that after a wet and cold spring we will have a hot and dry summer.  Nothing like a little baking heat and drought to bookend the seasons.

On to the links…

How the Baby Boomers Wrecked the Economy for Millennials—Let’s start a new trend where we replace “Millennials are killing…” with “Baby Boomers wrecked…”  Never has a generation produced so little when given so much and left such a mess for future generations to clean up.  As a member of the tail end of Generation X—whatever the hell that means anymore—I feel like we will spend the next twenty years sweeping up the rubble of Baby Boomers’ excess.

If 2020 Democrats Are Going to Be Serious About Climate, They Need to Cut Out Congress—The U.S. Senate is a retrograde institution run by a power hungry vestige of the post-Civil War southern power structure who cares for nothing other than his own political power.  The 2020 Democratic nominees need a plan that can be acted on from Day One in office.

Scientists Have Pinpointed the Mystery Source of an Ozone-Destroying Chemical—Trump may be wrong on almost everything, but his desire to realign our relationship with China may not be that awful.  His methods are crap, but there is something fundamentally rotten about the way that China does business.  Agreements are meaningless, business is paramount, everything else be damned…kind of sounds like the modern Republican Party.

Xcel’s Plan to 2030: Close Two Coal Plants, Extend Nuclear Plant, Add More Solar—Coal is dead.  It is just going to take some time for the dinosaur to roll over and actually know its dead.

Puerto Rico Got Rid of Its Coal Ash Pits. Now the Company Responsible Is Moving Them to Florida.—At what point can we just write off the entire state of Florida?  If there is a bad idea that has failed everywhere else, it will get a new lease on life in Florida.  If there is a grifter who has been run out of every town in America, that person will eventually end up somewhere in Florida.

Critics Question Ethics Behind Impossible Burger’s Rapid Fast-Food Expansion—The purity police are out to get Impossible Foods now that they are working with fast food chains.  This is ridiculous.  Every animal based burger replaced with a plant based burger is a win.

Impossible Foods’ Rising Empire of Almost-Meat—The buzz is there.  Now it is time for Impossible Foods to see if they can execute in an efficient enough manner to actually scale their business.

It’s Not Just Salt, Sugar, Fat: Study Finds Ultra-Processed Foods Drive Weight Gain—Maybe the new guideline should be “If you cannot figure out how to make the food at home you should not eat that food.”  Can’t figure out how to make a homemade PopTart?  Do not eat a PopTart.

It is Solved by Walking—Just putting one foot in front of the other is a powerful choice in a world defined by our mechanized transport.

Americans Need More Bike Transit – And these Nonprofits are Bringing It—Bicycles are a humble solution to the problem of transportation emissions.

There Is No Excuse for You to Casually Drink Bottled Water—Outside of people dealing with the aftermath of natural disasters, why are we even having this discussion about bottled water?

It’s Time to Embrace American Hemp Production—Did you have that guy in your dorm who always liked to tell you about the magic nature of hemp?  I remember that guy.  Maybe he was not so crazy after all.

Friday Linkage 4/26/2019

Steve King, the white supremacist representative from northwest Iowa, is not a man of faith.  He uses his so-called faith as a shield for his vile beliefs and his lack of a record in Congress.  He is not like Jesus Christ, but he will waste no time in making the comparison if he thinks it will help him get elected.

This is the same strain of “faith” that allows people like Michele Bachmann to claim that Donald Trump is “godly.”

It is the same strain of “faith” that allows hucksters like Jerry Falwell Jr. to claim that Donald Trump can do no wrong in his eyes.

It is not faith.  It is naked lust for power.

On to the links…

Interior Department Watchdog Opens Ethics Probe Into 6 Agency Officials—Repeat after me, “This is the most corrupt administration in the history of the United States.”

This GIF Captures Just How Gigantic the U.S. Carbon Footprint Is—It’s kind of alarming to see this play out.

There’s an Amazingly Simple, Beautiful Way to Fix Midwestern Farmlands—This is the most impactful potential change I have seen proposed and it makes so much sense.  For too long the modus operandi has been to encourage farmers, at their own economic risk, to plant as much acreage as possible. What if the solution is to maximize the efficiency of capital relative to planted acreage?

10 Ways to Accelerate Progress Against Climate Change—We know what we can do in the near term to accelerate the fight against climate change.  None of these actions require breakthroughs in technology.  It just requires political will.

7 Things We’ve Learned about Earth since the Last Earth Day—Knowledge is power.

How America’s ‘Tree-to-Toilet Pipeline’ is Destroying Forests—We are literally wiping our asses with boreal forest.  There is a better way.

Eco-Friendly Solid Could Replace Conventional Refrigerants—No one talks about the damage refrigerants can cause because we think we beat this beast in the 1990s with bans on certain CFCs.  Nope and in a world where air conditioning becomes more prevalent the damage will be greater.

Could Hawaii Be Paradise For Hydrogen-Powered Public Transit?—Hawaii is our energy laboratory.  The hydrogen economy never really got off the ground because it was just a better idea to feed renewable energy into the grid instead of converting it to hydrogen and dealing with the attendant losses.  However, what if you have too much renewable energy at certain times?  Now it makes sense to think about hydrogen as a chemical battery of sorts.

The Problem with Online Shopping—I think the article could have stopped at the “problem with online” and answered a lot of questions.  The most frightening passage in the article is this:

Consumption has reached an all-time high in the United States. In 2017, people spent $240 billion on random stuff like clothes, shoes, phones, books, and toys – double what was spent in 2002, despite the population growing by only 13 percent.

What the hell?

Why You Should Join the ‘Do Nothing’ Club—Maybe we should all aspire to be Peter Gibbons.

Back to Earth: Washington Set to Allow ‘Human Composting’—Ashes to ashes and dust to dust…yeah, this is the way I want my family to deal with my mortal remains in the end.

Friday Linkage 4/19/2019

Easter is such a strange holiday in the United States.  It is, ostensibly, a religious holiday for Christians but it is also a non-denominational consumption opportunity.  There is nothing Christian about dying eggs, eating candy, and buying pastel colored crap.

And what is up with having a family dinner centered on ham for Easter?

On to the links…

A Shocking Discovery Shows Just How Far Wind Can Carry Microplastics—The planet is our wastebasket for plastic.  It is everywhere.

This Scientist Thinks She has the Key to Curb Climate Change: Super Plants—This may be our only hope and at the same time it may be our undoing.

Lack of Demand Hasn’t Stopped Trump from Opening Tons of Land to Oil and Gas Drilling—Fossil fuel interests are treating the Trump administration like the last orgy before everyone finds religion.  It does not matter what the oil and gas interests want, Trump will give it to them.

How a Single Sentence in a Colorado Bill Could Pump the Brakes on the Fracking Boom—Imagine governments being told to regulate rather than foster oil and gas development.  As if there was any other purpose to government besides making money for fossil fuel companies.

Global Economy Would Save up to $160 trillion by Shifting to Renewables, Electric Cars—Here is a punch line for everyone to remember: Invest a dollar in renewables, get seven in return.

California’s Solar Power Record Setting Season is Here—This chart is amazing:

generation.png

That is a whole lot of solar.  What surprises me is solar’s “shoulders” in terms of its ability to generate a lot of power.  It does not peak and decline.  It peaks and stays.  This is the future.

How Coal-Killing Solar Panels Can Help US Farmers—Let’s have a real discussion here.  Besides coal, who does not benefit from more deployment of solar?  This is why, even with the most rabid anti-renewable energy administration in the White House, people are still installing solar.  It just makes sense.

Republicans Push Anti-Wind Bills in Several States as Renewables Grow Increasingly Popular—This is your modern day Republican party fighting against stuff that a majority of people like because a small coterie of wealthy donors and a reactionary base are what fuels its policy decisions.

Plummeting Battery Prices to Make Electric Cars Cheaper than Gas Cars in 3 Years—Like solar before it, the cost of electrical vehicles is dropping by a lot.  Now parity with gas cars is three years away.

US Electric Car Registrations Doubled Between 2017 and 2018—Most of the increase was in California, but a doubling is still a big deal.  I think the bigger problem for states not named California is that dealers are reluctant to embrace electric vehicles.  Trust me, when I bought a used Nissan Leaf it was like pulling teeth at the dealership.

Amazon says it’s a Leader on Fighting Climate Change. 5,000 Employees Disagree.—No business that sends a single order of five things to your house in five boxes can be a leader on climate change.  Amazon is part of the problem, not the solution.

The Hidden Horror of Hudson Yards Is How It Was Financed—Hudson Yards is an architectural monstrosity that was constructed for the lowest price per square foot.  Even worse is that it was financed by the lies of the EB5 visa program.

Hormel Admits Natural Choice Meats Aren’t Very Natural—The term “natural” means jack shit nothing when it comes to food labeling.

A 30-year Harvard Study Reveals the 5 Simple Habits that May Prolong Your Life by 10 Years or More—Are we really shocked to learn that these habits will help us live longer?

Breckenridge Tourist Walking Dog Injured After 10 Minute Standoff With A Moose—I may get a chuckle out of the signs warning skiers about moose on the trails, but these giants are no laughing matter.

Friday Linkage 4/12/2019

Yep, pretty much sums up the world we are living in nowadays:

1433ckCOMIC-who-acknowledges-climate-change.png

On to the links…

A Virtual Solar Power Plant for L.A.? ‘It Will Happen’—The idea is to turn a conglomeration of batteries into a virtual power bank that charges in the middle of the day, when solar power is at peak generating capacity, and save the power for the late afternoon/early evening, when electricity demand spikes as people return home.

U.S. Wind Capacity Grew 8% in 2018—These are not crazy growth numbers, but 8% growth in a country led by Donald Trump has to be considered a success.  Now imagine an environment with a rational president.  Whoa!

Saudi Arabia To Build 6.2 Gigawatts Of Wind Capacity By 2028—Saudi Arabia is putting a lot of money into renewables.

DTE Energy Speeds up Closing of Coal-Fired Plants—This is why coal is dead.  Less cost, fewer emissions…the headlines sort of write themselves.

“Innovation”: the Latest GOP Smokescreen on Climate Change Policies—How do I know Republicans are blowing smoke about climate change?  Their lips are moving.  Normally it is “national security” that is used as a blanket defense/reasoning for whatever draconian policy they want to institute.

An Easy, Cost-Effective Way to Address Climate Change? Massive Reforestation.—No shit.  This should be point number one in any climate change mitigation plan.  Why?  It is so dead simple and the downside to planting a lot of trees is…what exactly?

Corn Pollution Kills Thousands of Americans a Year—So, we need to grow less corn.

As Mass Timber Takes Off, How Green Is This New Building Material?—This is where we get into trouble.  Instead of asking if mass timber is better than other methods we end up trying to evaluate its “green” credentials in a vacuum.

Amazon Accused of Abandoning 100 Percent Renewable Energy Goal—Corporations will only be held accountable as long as customers keep them so.  Otherwise, a decision will be made deep in a conference room somewhere that guts whatever environmental commitment has been made.

China wants to Ban Bitcoin Mining because it ‘Seriously Wasted Resources’—No truer paragraph has ever been written about Bitcoin:

In a typical Bitcoin mining operation, powerful banks of computers are dedicated to crunching out “blockchain” numbers that serve absolutely no purpose, but have value because people think they do.

Climate Change Could Make Duluth America’s Premier Destination—This is a little tongue in cheek, but the future is a scary place right now.

Forever Wild—If you have only skied major resorts tied to corporations like Vail Resorts it is likely that you have missed the spirit of skiing embodied by shaggier ski hills.  If only we could all capture a little of this magic.

Baby Boomers Commit the ‘7 Deadly Sins’ of Retirement Planning—Baby boomers are the worst.  Fight me.  Subsequent generations are going to be stuck cleaning up the mess of a generation that accomplished so little relative to what they were given.  Yet, we have to hear endless stories of their greatness.

Friday Linkage 4/5/2019

Now wind turbines cause cancer.  Okay, only Donald Trump believes that but he also said his father was born in Germany when in fact Fred Trump was born in New York.  You say tomato and Trump says Germany.

At least Chuck Grassley, the senior and most useless senator from Iowa, finally got off his lazy rear end to criticize something the president said.  Yes, Trump’s comments about wind turbines causing cancer are idiotic.

On to the links…

Trump’s Pick for Interior Dept. Continued Lobbying After Officially Vowing to Stop—Nothing can stop the corruption of the Trump Administration because it is corrupt at heart.  The entire act is an exercise to loot America.

Renewables ‘Have Won the Race’ against Coal and are Starting to Beat Natural Gas—It’s over with except for the accounting.

New Coal Power Projects Are In Decline Across The World—Every solar panel and wind turbine installed is another nail in the coffin of coal.  The march is on across the globe:

20190328_Coal_Power_Forbes.jpg

A Good Problem to Have—California has a problem.  California almost has too much renewable energy.  Okay, it really has a lot of renewable energy in the middle of the day:

March 23 renewables

We have now gotten to the point where we are trying to figure out how to reconfigure demand to match renewable energy production.

A Silver Lining to Sage Grouse Rollbacks?—States are where the action will have to be for the foreseeable future as Congress is riven with the division of Mitch McConnell.  However, great strides can be made at the state and local level.

High-Density EV Battery could Offer 600-mile Range on a Single Charge—This is a long way away from prime time, but imagine an EV with 600 miles of range.  My truck with a 36 gallon tank scratches that kind of range on highway trips.

Behold the Beefless ‘Impossible Whopper’—I love fine dining as much as anyone, but rolling out a product at a national fast food chain is scale like no other.  This is the kind of move that can make a product like the Impossible Burger as mainstream as any other food.

Inside the Race to Build the Burger of the Future—AOC is not coming for your burger.  However, there is a lot of effort to make your burger less bad for the environment.  Expect that little bit of nuance to be lost on the hosts of Fox News.

Spring has Sprung: March 2019 Solar Production and EV Stats

Can you tell the exact time when the snow finally melted in Iowa and it began to feel like spring?  I will give you one guess looking at the image below:

Image-1 (1)

It was like someone opened a door and spring rushed in looking for treats like a good boy.  I said it last year and I will say it again this year…I need to get a roof rake so that I can brush the snow off when it refuses to slide off my solar panels.  The way these things go it will probably be a very light snow year next season and the roof rake will sit in the garage unused for months.

It is my hope that April sees a production number on par with the prior year as the previous few months have really been mediocre in terms of solar production.  There is something ironic about getting an electric vehicle at the same time that my solar production fell off a cliff.  Oh well.

Speaking of the Nissan Leaf it also had a month when it became obvious that the weather had turned.  I drove 603.4 miles at an average efficiency of 5.0 miles per kWh.  This compares with average efficiencies of 3.6 and 3.9 miles per kWh in January and February respectively.

Two factors played into this efficiency increase: warmer weather that resulted in less use of the resistive heater and better knowledge of how to wring out mileage from the vehicle.  It is kind of amazing how you can optimize your driving along a route without resorting to any crazy hypermiling or vehicle modification. This is the kind of improvement that makes me wonder how much efficiency we can wring out of the transportation system without having to resort to draconian measures.

Over the course of the past two and a half months I have driven a total of 1583.6 miles in my Nissan Leaf.  That has saved 1731.9 pound of CO2 versus my prior vehicle and cost a total of $49.34.  The emissions and cost numbers are based on me using grid electricity for the entirety.

As an aside, I utilized a public charger for the first time this month.  In practical terms it was super easy.  I pulled up to one of the two spots at my place of work, tapped my Chargepoint RFID keycard, and got to charging.  There has been a lot of talk about infrastructure for charging and how it impacts the widespread adoption of EVs.  In my experience, the publicly available charging infrastructure is not the major hurdle to adoption for a lot of people.  Unlike urban areas, the suburban area that I live in is rife with attached garages where people can charge their vehicle at home overnight.  Within line of sight of my garage are two houses with Tesla Model 3s and in conversations with the owners I have found that they also rarely, if ever, utilize public chargers, including Tesla’s vaunted Supercharger.  It is just not necessary for the majority of driving that takes place in an average day.  Heck, I only used the charger at work to ensure that my Chargepoint card worked so that I could take my Leaf down to Iowa City in the summer.