Tag Archives: renewable energy

Friday Linkage 8/2/2019

I say this a lot on this blog, but I have a hard time believing that it is already August.  My kids are three weeks away from going back to school, people are starting to talk about fall sports, and my mind starts to wander to thoughts of skiing.  Pretty soon the miles on the bike will start to decline and the trips to the weight room will increase.  Gotta’ get the knees ready for big days on the mountain.

On to the links…

Just 10% of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Cash ‘Could Pay for Green Transition’—When someone says that we cannot afford to transition to 100% clean energy what they are really saying is that we are choosing not to afford the transition.  There is more than enough money sloshing around in government and corporate coffers to make a renewable energy world possible.

A Wind Turbine Farm The Size Of Delaware Could Power The Entire United States—Take a look at the map and understand just how much or how little area we are talking about here:

US-map-1.png

Now imagine we actually utilize the offshore wind resources.  Look at how much coastline there is to develop.  We can make this happen.

Low-Carbon Energy Makes Majority of UK Electricity for First Time—This is not a small island being powered by solar.  This is a large island with a post-industrial economy that got over 53% of its electricity in 2018 from low or no carbon power sources.

Coal’s Demise Quickens in Europe as Market Shift Idles Plants—If no one is lining up to buy the power then the plants will sit idle.  The market is working.

Ohio just Passed the Worst Energy Bill of the 21st Century—This is what you get with Republicans in control.  It is crony capitalism at its finest.  Private companies line their pocket with the public’s money with the consent of elected officials.

Angry about No Pay, Kentucky Miners Block Train Loaded with Coal—The coal industry does not care about the people in their employ.  These companies have never treated their employees with anything but contempt at best and deadly intent at worst.  As coal companies go bankrupt they will continue to use the legal and political system to destroy the land and line their pockets at the expense of the communities in which they operate.

Most EV Charging Infrastructure Is Wasted Due To Lack Of New Thinking—It is not that EV charging spots are not numerous enough considering that anyone with a garage or dedicated parking space probably has access to some level of charging.  It is that the charging infrastructure that exists today may not align with how we drive our EVs.

Minnesota Town Makes do Without being Connected to Power Grid—I know that a lot of us imagine living off the grid, but this is what the reality looks like.

Beyond Meat’s Competitor Impossible Foods Plans to Launch in Grocery Stores in September after getting FDA Approval—I am really looking forward to buying a sleeve of Impossible Burgers and throwing them on my own grill this fall.  What I really want to see is Beyond Meat or Impossible Burger selling sleeves of their plant based goodness at Costco.

Plant-Based Eggs Land their First Major Fast Food Deal—Slaughter houses get a bad rap because they are nasty places, but our eggs are also produced in some fairly brutal conditions.  First the plant based substitutes came for our hamburgers, now they are coming for our eggs.  I welcome the transition.

Can Chefs Learn to Love Cooking Without Fire?—Can we just stop our love affair with primal fire?  I get that something about the flame speaks to our lizard brain, but as someone who has cooked with electricity daily for the past twenty years there is no reason to rely on piping explosive gas into our homes to fuel our gastronomic adventures.

Why Republican Baby Boomers are More Likely to Share #fakenews on Facebook—I rag on Baby Boomers pretty hard, but until someone can show me how this generation has actually made the country a better place I am going to keep piling on.

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Knocking it Out of the Park with EV Efficiency…Solar Not So Much

There are times when driving my second hand Nissan Leaf feels like I am working on cracking a code.  Change one behavior (e.g. turning on the heat) and relative efficiency takes a nose dive.  Adjust a few things (e.g. make sure to drive with the car set in “B” mode) and it seems like you can do no wrong.  Ambient air temperature, type of driving, route choice…on and on it goes.

I am certain that it is the same for a traditional ICE vehicle or even a Tesla, but when you are limited to a little more than 100 miles on a full charge there is a hyper heightened awareness to how quickly the “guess o’ meter” depletes.  However, it was a lot less of a concern this month as I averaged 6.1 miles per kWh for just a tenth of a mile over 900 miles.  That works out to a little less than 148 kWh of electricity consumed and ~1,053 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions avoided versus driving my truck.

Since January I have driven 4,607 EV miles at an average efficiency of 5.1 miles per kWh.  This correlates to ~5,234 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions avoided versus driving my truck.  As I have said before this assumes that I draw all of my power from the grid as opposed to generating it on site with my solar panels.  Based on gasoline prices I have saved about $650 just in fuel since January.

Speaking of solar photovoltaic production, July was a fairly good month:

Image-1 (3)

720 kWh for the month is good.  It is a little bit less than the same month during the prior year, but I would say that it is within the margin of error.  It is not like this is January and February where snow covered my panels up to a foot deep some times.

All in my household consumption ended up about 26 kWh more than my production.  Included in my household consumption numbers are almost all of my EV charging, so without the Nissan Leaf in the garage we would have ended up over 100 kWh.  Granted, that would mean I was spewing carbon dioxide from the tailpipe of my truck.  I will take the trade.

Unlike some summer months we were home for every weekend and took no trips.  Furthermore, for the entire month of July we went out to eat once.  I feel fairly good about making all but one meal at home, charging my electric car, running the air conditioning when it got really hot, and still managing to almost be even in terms of household electricity consumption versus solar electricity production.  It is my hope that in the next month I will adding about 60% more solar photovoltaic capacity to my roof.

Friday Linkage 7/5/2019

With July 4th falling on a Thursday this year it makes for a rather strange week.  If you are not taking vacation, like half of my building it seems, you get a day off near the end of the week and have to come back for a Friday.

It’s like a ghost town in the office right now.

On to the links…

What Will Our 2040 Energy Future Look Like?—These forecasts have a way of being very wrong when market forces and technology collide to change the paradigm.  However, when a relatively conservative news outlet like Forbes is sounding the death knell for certain fossil fuels you know something is up.

There’s a New EPA Air Sheriff in Town, and She’s Got a Shaky Grasp on Climate—Where is the Trump administration finding so many barrel bottoms to scrape these political appointees from?  How soon before Sean Hannity is appointed to be Secretary of State or some such BS?

The Sack Of Washington—Oh wait, it is like a concerted plan by the most polluting industries to destroy the EPA from within.  I was giving ol’ Donnie Two Scoops too much credit.  [LINK: https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/events/two-scoops%5D

For the First Time Ever Renewables Beat Coal in the US—23% of U.S. power in April was generated by renewables. 23%!

Market Efficiency, Not Regulation, Is Driving People from Coal—Nothing Donald Trump does can stop this from happening.  His actions can slow down progress, but come January 2021 the game us up.

As Trump Attempts to Prop Up the Struggling Coal Industry, Illinois is Taking Another Step Away from its Dirtiest Source of Electricity—Illinois is merely pushing over a tottering industry.  The article states that the eight coal fired power plants at risk for closure are already uneconomic to operate.

A 100% Renewable Grid isn’t Just Feasible, it’s in the Works in Europe—I have said this many times on this blog, do you remember a time when skeptics said renewables could only be a small portion of our electricity generation? First, it was no more than 5%.  Then it was adjusted higher.  Each time renewables exceed a certain threshold the skeptics just keep adjusting higher.  100% is going to be the upper limit.

Fracking Creates A Glut Of Fossil Fuels & A Mountain Of Debt—If you want to destroy value just invest in the fracking industry.  Don’t listen to me, listen to a former shale gas executive lay it out:

The shale gas revolution has frankly been an unmitigated disaster for any buy-and-hold investor in the shale gas industry with very few limited exceptions. In fact, I’m not aware of another case of a disruptive technological change that has done so much harm to the industry that created the change. While hundreds of billions of dollars of benefits have accrued to hundreds of millions of people, the amount of shareholder value destruction registers in the hundreds of billions of dollars. The industry is self-destructive.

Cement Production makes More CO2 than all the Trucks in the World—Our love affair with cement and concrete is killing the planet.  This is why tall timber buildings are the future.

Shipping Sector Comes Under Increasing Pressure To Cut Its Carbon Footprint—This is why it is so critical to stop buying so much stuff.  That stuff we buy has to be shipped and shipping is a carbon bomb.

Cities are Beginning to Own Up to the Climate Impacts of What they Consume—What we consume has a direct relationship to our carbon emissions.  Consume less, emit less.  As the economic engines of the modern world cities have a lot of power to change consumption patterns.

One Man Is Trying to Fight Climate Change By Mobilizing an Unlikely Team: Iowa’s Farmers—Actual farmers, as opposed to giant corporations and absentee land owners, care about the soil because these men and women understand that the soil is what sustains generations upon the land.  We need to support policies that reinforce these beliefs at the expense of the agricultural industrial complex.

Big Farms Find Easy Ways around Trump Trade Aid Limits—Color me surprised that big corporate agricultural interests found a way to work around rules meant to benefit smaller producers.  Oh wait, that is basically how agricultural policy in the United States has worked for the past fifty years or so.

Everything You Need to Know about the Booming Business of Fighting Food Waste—We waste a lot of food.  Combating food waste is both an economic and environmental imperative.

Give Your Yard Back to Nature—Every square foot of turf grass that we replace with low maintenance native plants is a victory for bugs and the land.  Our never ending expanses of artificially green turf grass is an eco-catastrophe.

The Mycelium Revolution Is upon Us—There is a fungus among us.  Sorry, I could not help myself.

Friday Linkage 6/21/2019

No linkage next week.  I am on vacation.  Hopefully the Colorado River levels cooperate to let the family go rafting.  Otherwise, it is going to be a really laid back week in Summit County.  I guess we will have to go looking for that wooden troll.

On to the links…

Climate Change Deniers Aren’t Getting Very Far With America’s Judges—It is one thing to spout crap opinions on Fox News where Sean Hannity will lick your MAGA boots, but standing in front of a judge is another matter.  Just like Alex Jones wilting under the glare of a trial, climate change deniers will wilt in the face of courtroom battles that put actual evidence of manmade climate change against…that’s right, there is no other evidence.

Trump’s EPA just Replaced Obama’s Signature Climate Policy with a Much Weaker Rule—The Clean Power Plan may be dead in the executive branch of government, but remember that 2020 is coming.  Sweeping Trump out of office undoes all of his machinations because he lacks the political will, clout, and understanding to make lasting change in Washington D.C.

Renewable Industry Employed 11 Million People in 2018—Eleven million people.  This is not a few hippies in a rundown storefront.  These are big numbers.  In the U.S. almost as many people are employed in renewable energy fields as are employed in fossil fuel fields.

Renewables are Winning the Economics Battle Against New Coal and Gas, Stunning Study Shows—The worm has turned and economics no longer favor fossil fuels.

There is No One Energy Solution—There never was a single silver bullet because that introduces a single point of failure for the future.  The future of energy is in a diversified portfolio of energy sources.  Portfolio theory, look it up.

United States Spend Ten Times More On Fossil Fuel Subsidies Than Education—Here is an idea for the current crop of contenders to be the Democratic nominee for President of the United States: eliminate all fossil fuel subsidies.  These are some of the most profitable companies in the history of the world.  These subsidies are just transferring wealth from Americans into the pockets of company shareholders.

Bitcoins Now Suck Up as Much Energy as Las Vegas—Can I ask the question?  Why Bitcoin?

Outdoor Brands Are Uniting Against Single-Use Plastic—Leadership has to come from somewhere.  The outdoor industry flexed its muscle recently when it made the move from Salt Lake City to Denver for its annual tradeshow.  Now it is looking at single use plastic.

How to End the Cycle of Throwaway Plastic Toys—Ugh, spider rings.  I think that I might be finding these things in random places in my house for the next decade even though I cannot remember the last time that one of my children brought one home.

New California Bill Could Revolutionize How the U.S. Tackles Plastic Pollution—Why does California have to be the leader on all of these environmental issues?  Why can’t Minnesota or Massachusetts be the leader?

Beijing Opens New Bicycle Expressway—I want one.

This Man Ate ‘Expired’ Food for a Year. Here’s Why Expiration Dates can be Meaningless.—I have always thought that the dates on a lot of food products might as well be considered the same as model years on cars.  What?  You bought a 2018 instead of the newer 2019?

White Castle and Red Robin Reportedly Running Low on Impossible Burgers—This is called the free market.  Impossible Foods brought a product to market and the market responded with demand.

Beer Boom Creating Thousands of Jobs—Craft beer might not be able to save the world, but the model is a hell of a lot better than anything else.

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?

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.