Tag Archives: renewable energy

Friday Linkage 11/16/2018

California is on fire.  Venice is under water.  Glaciers in South America have retreated.  Famine in Yemen is accelerating.  It seems like this week has brought out the apocalyptic news.

On to the links…

The Zinke Effect: How the US Interior Department became a Tool of Big Business—Ryan Zinke is the robber baron that we deserve.

Interior Department Whistleblower: Ryan Zinke Hollowed Out the Agency—Rebuilding the federal government after the tragedy of the Trump administration is going to be a long, hard road.  This is what you get when you elect people to run government who happen to claim to hate government.  It is also what you get when you elect a serial philanderer who cannot stay out of bankruptcy court.

Trump Campaign Paid Millions to Trump Businesses During Midterms—This is what grift looks like in an era when there is no accountability.  Imagine if Barack Obama had paid himself for the use of a plane he owned from campaign funds?  Mitch McConnell would still be crowing about it and clutching his pearls.

In New Mexico, Public Lands Turned an Election Blue—It turns out that people like the idea of public lands being available for use by the public and not just a land trust for the use of fossil fuel interests.  Republicans will never understand this fact because it runs counter to their deeply held beliefs that oil and gas companies can do no wrong.

Why Nevada Upped its Renewable Energy Standards (and Arizona didn’t)—It was really a mixed bag for climate change related policies on the ballot during the midterm election.  Some states came through while others just toed the line.  Arizona has always struck me as the Florida of the west.  The state will act against its own self-interest time and time again in some misguided defense of “principles.”

Scotland’s Wind Turbines Generated ‘98% of Electricity Demand’ Last Month—It was not really 98% of electricity in a linear fashion all month.  Sometimes it was “only” ~65% of electricity demand while other times it was well over 200% of electricity demand.  Remember when people opposed to renewables said that the maximum would only ever amount to 5% or so of total demand?

Global Coal Use May have Peaked in 2014, Says Latest IEA World Energy Outlook—Despite what the orange despot in the White House says on the campaign trail, coal is not coming back.  Coal is not beautiful.  Coal is dead.

BNEF Confirms US Coal On Track For Record Capacity Decline—Every wind turbine and solar panel that we can deploy is another brick in the wall.

Big Oil’s Death by a Thousand Small Cuts—Every Tesla Model 3 or Chevy Bolt or Nissan Leaf represents demand destruction for oil that is not coming back.

10% Of New Vehicles Purchased in California Are EVs—If I am an oil company or a car company without an EV this trend would scare the living crap out of me.

Spain to Ban the Sale of All Gas-Powered Cars by 2040—The Spanish plan is part of a larger initiative to break free from fossil fuels in our lifetime.  Now, imagine you are an international auto exec watching an entire country ban the sale of gas cars.

The Wheels on These Buses Go Round and Round With Zero Emissions—If I am in Congress the first bill I propose—ok, maybe not the first—is a program to help subsidize the purchase of electric school buses across the country.  Along with electric city buses, garbage trucks, and delivery vehicles.

Electric Tuk-Tuks Power EV Revolution In India—Sometimes the best conversion from fossil fuels to EV is a low tech swap.  Replace hundreds of thousands of two stroke tuk tuks in India with EV versions and you have made a real dent in air pollution.

Heat-Rejecting Film could Reduce Air Conditioning Costs—Anything that can reduce our demand for air conditioning, thus reducing our demand for the electricity to cool the air, is something worth pursuing.  Particularly, if the solutions do not require retrofitting buildings in expensive and labor intensive ways.

Impossible Foods Will Finally Sell Plant-Based Burger Meat in Grocery Stores—I have yet to try one of these burgers, but maybe if I can find a package in the grocery store I will take it home to compare with an actual ground beef burger.

Plot Twist! Elephants come up with a Foolproof Way to Survive Ivory Poachers—I have linked to similar stories in the past, but it really gives me a chance to post one of my favorite lines from blockbuster movies of the past:

goldblum

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Friday Linkage 11/9/2018

The midterm election is over save for the inevitable recounts, runoffs, and lawsuits.  So, it is not really over.  Heck, if you are anything like Donald Trump you will never get over the last election.  Just saying.

If anyone thought that Democrats taking back the House of Representatives was going to serve as a check on Trump’s worst instincts think again.  Within twenty four hours he was already back to his Orwellian self when he held a press conference full of combative lies and followed it up with a Soviet style doctored video to support his banishment of Jim Acosta from the White House.  We live in strange times indeed.

On to the links…

How ‘Makers’ Make the Classroom More Inclusive—Maybe we need to make school a little less about preparing for tests and more about making things.  I do not care if kids are making art or wooden clocks or theater productions because being responsible for the creation of something is instruction in and of itself.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke might Face a Criminal Investigation—Right now is not a good time to be a grifter in the employ of Donald Trump.  Ryan Zinke is not facing an ethics complaint, he is facing a freaking criminal investigation for being a con artist and thief.

UN says Earth’s Ozone Layer is Healing—It was not all political news.  Too bad China is not honoring commitments to phase out certain ozone destroying compounds and is, instead, allowing for unregulated use.

Voters Raise Nevada Renewables Goal to 50%, NV Energy Has $2B Plans—Nevada’s goal of 15% renewable energy by 2025 was rejected by voters in favor of 50% by 2030.  Way to go Nevada.

Navajo Nation Eyes Utility-Scale Solar with Growing Interest—The Navajo Nation possesses a lot of land with a lot of solar potential in the southwest United States.  Think about some of that land being deployed to produce clean, green utility scale solar fed into the grid.

Indiana Utility Submits Plan to Move from Coal to Renewables—Losing Indiana to renewable energy is pretty bad for coal because the Hoosier State is surprisingly reactionary in its right wing attitudes toward anything that might be labelled progressive.  You know that the economics favor renewables when this is the headline.

Scottish Utility goes 100% Renewable, Pushes Electric Vehicles too—If it’s not Scottish, it’s crap!  Could not help myself.  I love me some So I Married an Axe Murderer.

British Renewables Hits 42 Gigawatts & Surpasses Fossil Fuels—I am sure that someone will put a half dozen caveats on these numbers, but renewables are a big part of the grid.  There was a time when most “experts,” probably just shills hired by coal and gas companies, said that renewables could not be more than a sliver of the grid because of unreliability, etc.  Reality has proven them wrong.

The Secret Power of the Flexitarian—The power is in being flexible in achieving your goal.

American Diet Changes Gut Bacteria of Immigrants—This might not be so bad, but apparently the resulting changes lead to an increase in conditions like diabetes, obesity, etc.

One Third of Britons has Drastically Reduced Meat Consumption—This was not done in response to any major external stimuli like a war or depression.  Imagine what is possible in this world if we would just decide to live less destructive lives.

Fish Fingers Surprisingly Sustainable, say Conservationists—Fish sticks, or fish fingers to those of you across the pond, are the offal of the seafood aisle.  In my house fish sticks still get some love, but we also happen to be big fans of catfish.

Finland: Where Second-Hand Comes First—Think about the impact if we all thought about buying something secondhand before buying new.  Sure, new stuff would need to be made to feed the consumption cycle at some point but a world of more durable and high quality goods is a better place.

Embracing Inconvenience—We could all use a little more inconvenience in our lives.

Friday Linkage 10/19/2018

It is eighteen days until election day.  I will start every post for next eighteen days with the same message.

If you care about the outdoors, whether it is just to appreciate nature or to recreate, you need to read this guide to the midterm election put together by the Outdoor Industry Association.  Let me skip to the punch line: most, if not all, Republicans are bad for the land.

I understand that it is hyperbole, to some extent, in claiming that this is the most important election in history.  However, I do believe that this may be the most important election in my lifetime.  At least until 2020.

On to the links…

8 Things You Need to Know About the IPCC 1.5˚C Report—The IPCC’s report is not getting the attention it deserves because the United States is run by an orange monster who fills our heads with childish insults and ridiculous lies that a fourth grader using Google can debunk.

Can Consumer Choices Ward Off the Worst Effects of Climate Change? An Expert Explains.—We are told that our choices do not matter, but that is bunk.  Some choices matter more than others.  It is okay to get down in the dumps a little bit about climate change.  However, it is not all right to do nothing.

What Tiny Bhutan can Teach the World about Being Carbon Negative—I want to see a movement where people start saying, “Be like Bhutan.”

The Best Way to Reduce Your Personal Carbon Emissions: Don’t be Rich—Well, that is some advice.

How Much Energy is Used to Heat, Cool, and Light our Homes in Different U.S. Climate Regions?—Where we live goes a long way in determining our energy usage patterns.  However, I would argue that this analysis is incomplete without looking at transportation emissions by climate region. Someone in New York City may use more energy to heat and cool their residence than someone in Orlando but that Floridian sure as hell uses a lot more energy for transportation.

Even Trump is Beginning to Realize that He can’t Save Coal—Coal is dead.  Trump, in some ways, hastened its demise because political opponents have no need to even attempt to cater to a craven interest group that will utilize all the political chicanery of nationalism to achieve its financial goals.

White House Shuns Energy Secretary’s Coal & Nuclear Bailout—The plan was shit, but that did not stop Rick Perry from trying to accomplish the goals of his buddies in the coal industry with the nuclear boys along for the ride.  When even Donald Trump’s administration realizes that something is a bad idea you know it was really bottom feeding.

Hawai’i Looks To Add 260 Megawatts Of Solar & 1+ Gigawatt-Hour Of Storage—If there is one U.S. state that can go completely renewable in the short term it is probably Hawaii.  The state’s residents pay a lot for electricity and it is disconnected from any larger electrical grids as each island is basically its own mini-grid.

Sony Brings its 100 Percent Renewable Energy Goal Forward a Decade—The federal government and many states may be absent from going after ambitious goals, but large private companies that are bigger energy users than some small countries are making a commitment to renewable energy.

40% Of China’s Coal Plants Are Losing Money, Reports Carbon Tracker—Is China the great economic bubble of our time?  I am beginning to wonder if the entire economy is being run like a giant Ponzi scheme that everyone is afraid to question because the impact of collapse would be so damaging to the world economy.

Global Warming to Leave us Crying in our Costlier Beer—Global warming has come for chocolate and coffee.  Now it is coming for our beer.

Beyond Meat’s Veggie Burger Produces 90% Fewer Greenhouse Gas Emissions than Cow-Based Burgers—You can question the health benefits of an ersatz beef patty.  You can even question whether the effort to mimic animal protein is worth the effort when high protein, meat free dishes can be ultra-appetizing without resorting to culinary trickery.  You cannot deny that on a emissions versus emissions basis there is no question replacing a beef patty with a veggie patty is a winner.

New Study Suggests it’s Time to Replace Modern, Grassy Lawns—If there is one change I wish every homeowner, regardless of climate, would do it is taking out as much of their home’s lawn as possible.  Yes, it is hard work to initially remove lawn and replace it with something more planet friendly but think about the benefits.  No more mowing.  ‘Nuff said.

Friday Linkage 10/12/2018

There are just 25 days until the midterm elections on November 6th.  If you are not registered to vote, do so as soon as possible.  If you are unfamiliar with the rules for voting in your state, get educated as soon as possible with regard to identification requirements and what not.

It is generally hyperbole to claim that any single election is the “most important election” of our lifetime, but given the absolutely dystopian two years under President Trump and his Republican enablers one has to believe with some temerity the claim of importance.  Nonetheless, get out and vote.  There is no excuse.

On to the links…

A Major New Climate Report Slams the Door on Wishful Thinking—The recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is grim as fuck.

10 Ways to Accelerate Progress Against Climate Change—The actions we need to take are not mysteries.  We just need to possess the will to actually demand and implement change.

Trump’s FERC Pick Could Tip Balance in Favor of Coal Bailout—Everyone is pretty much against this silly ass bailout plan for non-competitive coal and nuclear power plants save for Trump and a coterie of people who make money off of ageing coal and nuclear plants.  When you can’t get the result you want make sure you appoint a loyal toadie to make it happen.  It’s the Trump way.

EPA Chief Andrew Wheeler Engaged With Racist, Conspiratorial Posts On Social Media—Seriously, can Trump not find a single person to serve in his administration who is not compromised morally or ethically?  It’s like he has a deck of cards with every rogue who wants to serve in government, but was blackballed by prior administrations for sucking at life.

Science Says Saving the Planet Could Really Be as Simple as Saving Trees—Trees are amazing and as a collective forest these organisms are even more amazing.  In these troubled climatic times, we need an effort to radically and quickly reforest degraded lands and stop the destruction of the forests that remain.

Caution Urged Over Use of ‘Carbon Unicorns’ to Limit Warming—Geoengineering is a slippery slope.  There is a segment of the populace that believes the solution to our climate change challenge lies in developing carbon sequestering technologies that will suck the carbon out of the atmosphere.

No State Has Ever Enacted a Carbon Tax. Washington Voters Might Just Do It Anyway.—The irony of the carbon tax as the “holy grail” of climate policies is that is actually one of the simplest tools to actually implement.

The End of Coal Could Be Closer Than It Looks—Coal may continue down what appears to be a fairly linear decline until it hits a cliff because at a certain point the economics become untenable.  Maybe.

One Of America’s Oldest Coal Companies Just Filed For Bankruptcy—Declaring bankruptcy is something that rich people and corporations do to keep from actually having to pay their debts, see the current President of the United States who loves bankruptcy filing almost as much as he loves divorce court.  However, it is not something that is done by healthy businesses in attractive industries.  Mining coal is anything but an attractive industry right now.

Wyoming Proposes Its Own Methane Regulations As Federal Level Sees Rules Relaxed—Curbing methane emissions from natural gas wells was a central part of the Obama-era climate change action plan that has been gutted by the great cheese puff.  You know that things might be going your way when a state like Wyoming works toward some sort of action on the issue.

Iowa Looks to Take the Next Steps on Storage—Iowa has a lot of wind energy with even more coming on line.  However, intermittency is an issue.  Enter energy storage.

Five Radical Steps We Can Take to Fight Climate Change—It’s not rocket science.  Heck, it will probably look a lot like things in European countries during war time.

Oysters On The Half Shell Are Actually Saving New York’s Eroding Harbor—It’s not all bad news all the time.  This is a great story about taking something that restaurants literally threw away and turning that waste into something beneficial.  Why can’t this program be expanded all along the Atlantic seaboard?  And the Pacific seaboard for that matter?

Friday Linkage 9/28/2018

Some weeks feel like we are living through an episode of the Twilight Zone.  I keep waiting for Rod Serling to introduce the day’s episode.  Don’t believe me?  Think about what happened this week:

  • Cleveland Browns win a game for the first time in over 630 days
  • Trump’s performance art speech at the UN General Assembly
  • Brett Kavanaugh’s increasingly bizarre path to confirmation
  • Buffalo Bills stomping on the Minnesota Vikings
  • Cats and dogs sleeping together, sorry that was Ghostbusters

On to the links…

Rising Seas Could Cause a Mass Migration of Americans Seeking Higher Ground—If you want to imagine a dystopia imagine millions of people forced to move because climate change and its impacts make communities unlivable.  Imagine wide swaths of the eastern seaboard rendered a climate change wasteland and those people moving inland.

Fear Climate Change — and Our Response to It—Humans are not rational creatures, so any model that assumes rational behavior is bound to end in failure.  We are not rational about climate change.

Carbon Emissions Could Be Costing the US 8 Times What Trump’s EPA Estimates—When the government in Washington D.C. is somewhat rational again we need to make sure that the figures used for estimates of climate change and its impacts are properly accounted for in any and all models.

Toxic Red Tide Could Fuel a Blue Win in Florida—Rick Scott represents some of the worst trends in American politics.  He is a scammer who takes no responsibility for his shenanigans and then tries to blame everyone else for his own behavior.  He has made the environment in Florida worse by being in the pocket of developers and big sugar.  Hopefully this is the grifter’s last con.

Trump Admin to Move $260M from Cancer Research, HIV/AIDS and Other Programs for Migrant Child-Custody Costs—You just know that Donny Two Scoops will brag about this on the campaign trail when e is trying to gin up what is left of his Alt Right supporters and closeted racist Republicans who cannot stand to see a brown person.

China Bumps up Renewable Energy Target to Reduce Reliance on Coal—China is trying to kick the coal habit.

Renewables in UK Energy Mix Hit All-time High—The mix actually was not super favorable to renewables as onshore wind suffered from lower wind speeds and hydro suffered from reduced rainfall.  Imagine what this will look like when the wind blows and the rain falls.

A Hail Mary Attempt to Save the West’s Largest Coal Plant Has Failed—This particular coal plant closing is a big deal.  The coal industrial complex has always viewed this plant as one of its redoubts.  It is now closing in 2019 after the latest attempt to keep operating beyond that date failed.  Yes, the local economy is going to need help because of the loss of jobs.  Yes, this is an unalloyed good in the fight to kick the coal habit.

Texas Coal Plant Announces Plans to Shut Down—The market is speaking and even in deep red Texas money still talks.  According to the article, this represents the fifth announced closure of a coal plant in Texas this year.

As Coal Stalls, Wyoming Considers New Environmental Clean-Up Rules—When Wyoming comes to the realization that trusting coal companies to pay for clean-up costs is unrealistic you know that coal is in trouble.

New Jersey Makes Way For 1.1 Gigawatt Offshore Wind—Usually, people are making fun of New Jersey for being corrupt or downright awful.  Go New Jersey!

How a New Zinc-Air Battery Could Transform the Grid—Cheaper batteries are the next hurdle for the clean energy revolution.  It is already cheap to generate power from sun and wind.  Now we need to be able to store some of that bounty for times when the sun does not shine and the wind does not blow.

Fast Charger Infrastructure In Iowa Limited By State Law & Utility Rules—This is why people hate utility companies.  The double speak is amazing.  Saying people do not understand billing by kilowatt hours is the most asinine thing yet because most, if not all, utility companies send out bills calculated via kilowatt hours.  It’s a fairly well understood metric.

No, Avoiding Meat and Dairy is Not ‘Elitist’—Here’s the thing, most of the world already avoids meat and dairy because it is too expensive.  Only in the West, particularly in North America, do we consider a meat or dairy free diet to be elitist.  Then again we live in a country where a man with his name plastered on buildings and a private plane was called the “blue collar billionaire.”

9 Times Mister Rogers said Exactly the Right Thing—Appreciate Mister Rogers as the antithesis of our current predicament.

Two Approaches to the Environment on the Ballot this Midterm Election

In November we will be given a choice to change the direction of the United States politically.  As is the case every two years the entirety of the U.S. House of Representatives is up for election.  Many of the House districts in the United States are drawn in such a way that partisan incumbents face little challenge to their reelection bids.

In Iowa, however, relatively fairly drawn House districts mean that we have an actually competitive race between incumbent Rod Blum, no friend of this blog, and Democratic challenger Abby Finkenauer.

As an environmentalist I think comparing the candidates’ views on climate change to be instructive as it serves as a point of departure from the Trump wing of America and the rest of the country.

Rod Blum is a climate change denier.  As a member of the arch-conservative and downright wacky House Freedom Caucus Blum has not met an environmental rule or agreement that he did not want to gut like a catfish.  In 2014 he went on the record as a skeptic of climate change.  He supported Trump’s move to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.  While in office he has continued to financially benefit from oil and gas stocks while moving to open up public lands to more oil and gas drilling.

The League of Conservation voters nailed it by giving Rod Blum a 2% lifetime score when it comes to national environmental issues.  Honestly, I am quite surprised he managed to drum up 2% given his voting record.  He’s basically Scott Pruitt, but from Dubuque, Iowa.

Contrast that with Abby Finkenauer, who has an entire section of her campaign website dedicated to the environment and clean energy.  Entitled “Growing our Clean Energy Economy and Protecting our Environment” it states that:

I’ll play a similar watchdog role in Congress, and will just as firmly stand up to attempts to weaken key programs and measures that fight climate change, grow our clean energy economy, and protect our environment. Ultimately it’s time we had a representative who fights for Iowa families – ensuring they can live in healthy environments supported by good jobs – rather than standing with corporate polluters and those opposed to science.

A-freaking-men!

I believe that the choice of what is right for Iowa’s 1st district and, thus, the United States is to vote for Abby Finkenauer this November.  It’s just the planet that is counting on you.

A Mixed Bag for Solar Production in August

The solar photovoltaic system on my roof had a mixed record of production in August:

Solar August

I would have thought the system would come in a little closer to July’s number, but a consistently rainy and dreary end to the month dashed those hopes.  Still, over 563 kWh of clean solar energy was more than enough to offset my consumption and I ended the month up a little over 100 kWh.  In total, over the course of the past year or so since my system was installed I am up over 800 to 850 kWh.

It’s a little hard to tell exactly where I am at because my utility company replaced my electric meter without telling me so I lost some data points that I was tracking manually on a spreadsheet.  If you have a solar system watch your electric bills like a hawk.  My utility company consistently uses incorrect meter readings that discount the amount of solar electricity that I produce.  It is amazing that my consumption from the grid is never discounted.

My hope is that September turns into a good month for solar production, but the rainy weather that ended August is carrying over in September.  The first few days of the month have been little more than rain.  So much so that the ground is like a wet sponge and my grass is growing like crazy.  Maybe a I should just get a goat to mow the lawn…