Tag Archives: renewable energy

Friday Linkage 12/6/2019

I drive by the signs advertising Ronald Reagan’s childhood home frequently when traveling to the Chicagoland area.  It is just too delicious that the patron saint of government bashing’s house is going to be administered by the government.

Or maybe the problem is that people really do not care all that much about hypocrites like Ronald Reagan.

On to the links…

The Economics behind Planting Billions and Billions of Trees–To bastardize a saying of Michael Pollan’s, “Plant trees, on appropriate land, mostly native species.”  It is a simple action that really has no downside. If we focus on areas that have been logged, burned over, or denuded by other means it will reintroduce tree cover to appropriate lands.

The World’s Top 10 Carbon Dioxide Emitters–Take a look:

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The future of the Earth rests in the hands of China, the United States, and India.

This Energy Transition Is Different. Here’s Why–I applaud Andy Stone for pointing out that the key ingredient missing in the transition to a fossil free future is sufficient political will on the part of all politicians, but particularly those leaning with a conservative bent.  Our politics are bought and paid for by fossil fuels.

Spain Might Be The World’s Most Important Climate Test–How did we end up in an era where our political choices are being defined by progressives facing off against neo-fascists?

CO2-Eating Bacteria Made in the Lab Could Help Tackle Climate Change–Does this sound like the beginning to a young adult dystopian novel?

Let’s Implement a Luxury Carbon Tax, because not all Carbon is Created Equally–Let’s start with first class and business class airline flights.  Say $25 per ticket. All funds to be spent on reforestation.

Renewables are Not Making Electricity any More Expensive–Economics is a health of a thing.

Utilities Running Uneconomic Coal Plants Cost Consumers $3.5 Billion From 2015-2017–Coal is costing you money.

Average Battery Prices Fell To $156 Per kWh In 2019–Here is the key line: “this year the average EV battery pack prices decreased to around $156/kWh, which is some 87% less than it was in 2010 (over $1,100/kWh).”  In less than a decade’s time the average price has decreased almost 90%.

Are Electric Vehicles Really About To Plateau Oil Demand?–Plateaued oil demand is bad enough, but even a lower growth model will doom many higher cost oil plays in the short term.  EVs are part of the problem for oil demand, but just as important are tighter regulations on fossil fuel emissions in general.

Coal Power Becoming ‘Uninsurable’ as Firms Refuse Cover–If you cannot get insurance, you cannot operate.  I am sure that Donald Trump and his coal dust caked cronies will come up with a government backed reinsurance scheme to make sure that people like Bob Murray can profit from killing the planet.

Why Aren’t We Building a Traveling Wave Reactor in the U.S.?–Nuclear power always seems like it is an answer to our electricity problems until you account for all of the problems that nuclear power creates.  I am unwilling to hop on the traveling wave reactor bandwagon, but maybe Bill Gates is on to something. At least he is not spending his money on running for president.

Biofuels Could Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions By 96%–If nuclear seems like the holy grail of energy security, biofuels have to be the One True Cross of energy security.  At what point do we give up on the idea of liquid biofuels?

Agriculture is Part of the Climate Change Problem. Colorado Wants Farmers’ Soil to be Part of the Solution.–Improving soil health across grazing and other agricultural lands is probably one of the biggest “gains” we can make in the war against climate change.  Furthermore, increases in soil health and captured carbon will improve our ability to feed more people.

Chew On This: Farmers Are Using Food Waste To Make Electricity–Every kilowatt hour of electricity generated without the use of fossil fuels is a good thing.  Using a waste product to generate that electricity is like a double bonus.

DiGiorno and Stouffer’s Bring Plant-Based ‘Meat’ to Frozen Italian Food–If you do not think that plant based meat stand-ins are mainstream then how do you explain it being available in frozen pizza and lasagna?  Maybe it will be considered mainstream when there is a Jack’s frozen pizza with plant based pepperoni on sale for 4 for $10.

How Our Home Delivery Habit Reshaped the World–In an age of ubiquitous and pervasive shopping opportunities we need to radically rethink our relationship with consumerism.

Green Consumerism Is Part of the Problem–There is no such thing as “green consumerism.”  There is just “less bad consumerism.” Once we understand and internalize the reality that we cannot buy our way out of the problem of climate change, the sooner everyone will be better for it.

November 2019 Solar PV and Nissan Leaf EV Performance

November was an ugly month for solar photovoltaic production:

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Why?  My system was disconnected and shut down due to a planned upgrade.  The guys from Moxie Solar installed an additional 8 panels and the attendant “balance of system” components like a new grid tie inverter.  The 8 additional panels represent an approximate 62% increase in nameplate capacity for my system.  Given the orientation and installation location are virtually the same as the previous 16 panels I expect to see an approximate 62% increase in solar production once the array is powered up.

This has to be one of the most frustrating parts of a solar installation.  The rooftop install and other system components were done in a little more than a working day.  The city inspection was done in about fifteen minutes and done a few days after installation.  The permission to operate and the simple act of flipping the switch?  I am still waiting.

See most of those zero production days in the last week of November?  That is the cost of waiting for someone to come over from the electric utility and watch a person from the solar installer flip a switch.   It is like a bad anecdote about union rules from the 1980s.  Soon…the switch will be flipped soon.

This might also be the last month for a while where I seen an average of over 5 miles per kilowatt hour in my Nissan Leaf.  For the month I drove a total of 619 miles that used 123.8 kWh of electricity at an average efficiency of 5.0 miles per kWh.  At an average carbon intensity, I avoided emitting ~702 pounds of CO2.

What November really taught me is that cold weather kind of sucks for an EV.  My particular Nissan Leaf is not equipped with the heat pump, so it relies on a resistive heater to provide any level of defrost in cold weather.  Most of the time my trips are short enough that I just deal with a cold cabin while the heated seat and steering wheel keep me cozy.  Put three passengers in the car and the windows start to fog up pretty quick with hot breath.  There is nothing so dispiriting as watching the guess-o-meter drop by 30% or more when you turn on the heat.

It is not enough to dissuade me from recommending an EV in general or an older Nissan Leaf in particular.  There is something to be said for taking advantage of a market dynamic like extreme depreciation.  You can have your Tesla Model 3.  I will take my solar panels, Nissan Leaf, and decarbonized home to the bank every day.

Friday Linkage 11/29/2019

It’s Black Friday.  I hope that you are doing something today that is not shopping related.  Please.

On to the links…

Keystone XL: Police Discussed Stopping Anti-Pipeline Activists ‘by any means’–That is right, your freedoms as guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States mean nothing when an oil company wants to build a pipeline on your land.  The government is in bed with the oil companies.

Global Use of Coal-Fired Electricity Set for Biggest Fall this Year–We keep fighting and we keep pushing for a coal free future.  Our literal lives depend on it, literally.

Coal Knew, Too–Surprise, surprise.  The coal industry is almost universally a bad actor.  The coal industry treats communities, individuals, and the environment horribly in pursuit of a few extra dollars.

What A $108/kWh Battery Pack Would Mean For Tesla–I do not remember what the magic number in terms of cost was supposed to be for battery packs in EVs to speed mass adoption.  Maybe it was $100 per kWh. Maybe. Regardless, Tesla appears to be getting close on a decent level of scale. Now imagine millions of battery packs being manufactured by lots of players.  Scale brings cost down.

BMW Spends Billions to Secure Batteries and Drivetrains for its EVs–This is a sign that EVs are mainstream.  It is important to remember that many automobile manufacturers plan along 5-10 year time horizons given the lead times for things like stampings, etc.

Strike for Sunshine–Everyone on the left keeps waiting for a revival of organized labor in America.  Maybe the ideas behind the Green New Deal can spark a revival, but I am skeptical.  I do believe, however, that old school shoe leather organizing of workers across the industrial spectrum is what is needed.  Imagine a better world where Amazon warehouse workers, WalMart employees, and whoever else are unionized.

Clean Energy Technology was Thought to be Uninvestable. One Fund Thinks Otherwise–I am very leery of the “smart money” of Wall Street.  However, access to lots of capital may help speed development of clean energy.  I just hope that this is not a Faustian bargain.

How Bamboo Building Can Cool the Climate–Bamboo is just cool.

Kids In Finland Ride Their Bicycles To School In -17°C Weather–People at work look at me strangely when I go on a walk outside in weather that just hovers around freezing.  Imagine what they would say if I let my kids bike to school in even colder weather. Oh wait, my son walks to school year round.

Coca-Cola Sweden First Market To Adopt Fully Recycled Plastic–This is the absolute bare minimum that we should accept from packaged food makers.  If you cannot package your product in 100% recycled materials you cannot put your product up for sale.  Simple.

Friday Linkage 11/22/2019

This week one of the true giants of craft brewing announced a sale to a multi-national beverage conglomerate.  Fort Collins based New Belgium Brewery–the people behind Fat Tire Amber Ale–sold out to the group behind Kirin. This is the fourth largest craft brewery in the United States and the eleventh largest brewery overall.  Middle craft beer is dead. Support your small local brewery. Like today.

On to the links…

Keystone Spill Has Affected Nearly 10x More Land Than Was Estimated–Every time that someone brings up an argument in favor of an oil pipeline, especially the Keystone XL pipeline, just link to this article.  There is no such thing as a perfectly safe and secure oil or gas pipeline. The only perfectly safe and secure oil or gas pipeline is one that is not built.

See How Good the World Could be in 2040—If We Act on Climate Solutions Now–Lost in a lot of the pessimism about climate change specifically and the state of the world in general is that a future dystopia is not the only path available to use if we act.  Sure, right wing fanatics would have you believe that accelerationism–which is really just a pet theory for apocalypse nuts–is driving the world to the end times but they are wrong.

How Much Energy do We Really Need?–This is the kind of question that we need to be asking because it cuts at the very heart of the perpetual growth arguments of modern economic theory.  If we do not need to grow in perpetuity than we will need less energy than forecast in the future.

How to Cut U.S. Carbon Pollution by Nearly 40 Percent in 10 Years–Common sense and simple solutions to accelerate the climate change solution are available.  The problem is that a portion of this country’s politicians have no incentive whatsoever to embrace anything other than reactionary politics.  This is how we got a place where a conservative solution to health care coverage became the right wing’s bugaboo. We are doomed as long as these people are given any agency.

A Carbon Tax Won’t Kill the Economy–When someone at Forbes writes this article you have to wonder if the worm has turned.  It could also be that even the people at Forbes realize that America is relatively undertaxed and a carbon tax would go a long way to addressing destructive behaviors.  Somewhere Grover Norquist is hiding under his bedsheets and crying.

Two of America’s Biggest Coal Plants Closed this Month–This is why we keep pounding away at the problem by increasing efficiency, installing solar panels, and fighting for the true costs of fossil fuels to be included in the price of extraction.  Even with a president in the pocket of coal barons the ancient fuel is dying. Here is the damning paragraph from the article:

Together, the two retirements equal all the emission reductions from coal plant shut-downs in 2015, a record year when 15 GW of mostly smaller and older units were shuttered, reports Scientific American. Last year, 14 GW were mothballed. In 2020, more are on the way, including Kentucky’s Paradise plant.

The Paradise plant in Kentucky represents 1.15 GW of coal fired capacity.  It’s closure and another TVA asset in the region will save customers over $300M.  That is economics, bro!

5 Things to Know about Fighting Climate Change by Planting Trees–Here is the thing that gets me about this debate: the argument is that planting trees is not as good as some people make it out to be.  Okay, but that does not mean it is not beneficial. Just because the upside potential is lower than advertised does not mean that it ceases to be a worthwhile endeavour.  What is the downside?

When Residents Support Solar—Just ‘Not in My Backyard’–This is the worst.  Supposed liberals and supporters of green energy who just want to put energy production somewhere else.  Take responsibility for your consumption.

EasyJet Flights are Now Carbon Neutral–Carbon offsets are kind of the crack cocaine of the climate mitigation movement.  Easy to consume and oh so addictive. “See, we are carbon neutral,” a company can say without really addressing the underlying environmentally destructive behaviors that drive their business.

This Man Wants to Convince America Beef is Healthier than Meatless Burgers–This is also a man who worked for years to convince the American public that smoking was not a public heath crisis.  This is the same kind of man who will tell you industrial pollution is actually good for you. This is the same kind of man who will sell his soul for a few extra dollars in his bank.  This is the kind of man who needs to rot in hell.

There Are 2,000 Untested Chemicals in Packaged Foods — and It’s Legal–In some dark basement somewhere Richard Berman is swimming in his ill gotten gains like an oily Scrooge McDuck wondering if he should contact the packaged food industry to begin a campaign of telling us that untested chemicals in our food are really good for us.  Or, we could just avoid the middle aisles of the grocery store.

Los Angeles Places Largest Single Electric Bus Order In US History — 130 BYD K7M Buses–I am really waiting for the day when orders like this are just commonplace.  Or when orders of a much larger magnitude are what we report about. Still, progress.

Dominion Energy’s Electric School Bus Program Offers Valuable Vehicle-to-Grid Lesson–When electric buses are idle those big batteries can be part of the solution in shifting the mismatch between the supply of renewable energy and the demand for electricity.

Thermal Camera Reveals Efficiency Gap Between EV And ICE–About this time of year I wished I had a little bit of that wasted energy for heating my Nissan Leaf.

The U.S. Natural Gas Boom Is Fueling A Global Plastics Boom–Cheap natural gas equals cheap plastic.

Fast Shipping isn’t Great for the Environment— 7 Ways to Cut the Carbon Footprint on your Amazon Deliveries–Until Amazon is rocking a fleet of Rivian electric delivery trucks you are stuck with getting stuffed shipped the old fashioned way–heavily carbon intensive.  The advice is really simple: ship it together and ship it slowly. Or just stop buying stuff online.

Friday Linkage 11/15/2019

I know that I have said this before, but I feel like we are living in a “bizarro” world where we all should have goatees and act in ways contrary to our nature.

How have we gotten to a point in America where the defense of a sitting president using his office’s power for personal gain is defended as “not as bad as it could be?”  That was almost the literal defense that was provided by the Republicans chosen lawyer in the House’s impeachment proceedings.

If that is the bar for criminality than the U.S. prison system is about to get a whole lot less crowded.

On to the links…

Little Ice Age Lessons–Take a moment and read through the article while reserving judgement until you finish.  I might quibble with the details, but the idea that we have the ability to adapt to dramatically different climate conditions is a little ray of hope in a generally cloudy forecast.

Mike Pence’s Office Pushed to Reroute Foreign Aid to Favored Christian Groups–Just a friendly reminder that Mike Pence is a horrible human being.

If the US Military is Facing up to the Climate Crisis, shouldn’t We All?–Yes.

Carbon Dioxide Emissions To Rise Through 2040–Well, that is just kind of depressing.  It also underscores the need to cut emissions today.

US Energy Dept. Has A Solar Power Message For Coal: Get Lost!–Even the U.S. government understands that the economic case for coal is a lost cause.  This is a U.S. government agency under the thumb of the corrupt Donald Trump administration where coal companies are welcome.  What happens under a president that does not kowtow to coal robber barons?

Bob Murray: The Last Coal Baron?–We can hope.

Colorado’s Cleanest Energy Options are Also Its Cheapest–Renewable energy is cheap.  As states build out plans to decarbonize the economic benefits will become clear.  Add in the environmental benefits and you have a recipe for an economic and environmental transformation on par with the Industrial Revolution.

Berkeley scientists develop better batteries for storing renewable energy–Battery technology is not all about improving EVs.  The ability to store energy as a way to moderate the delta between renewable energy production and electricity demand is probably just as important for our decarbonized future.

Electric Cars are Changing the Cost of Driving–No oil changes.  Check. No fuel system.  Check. No complicated cooling system, transmission, exhaust, etc.  Check. As people drive EVs they come to realize that it is just a better way to motor.  Now if I could just get a BEV pickup truck.

Should You Even Bother Recycling Your Plastics?–This is why it is so important to reduce before reusing or recycling.  Plastics that are never introduced to the waste stream are the best kinds of plastic.

In Honolulu, An Ambitious Plastics Reduction Bill Is Moving Through City Council–Cities, especially cities on islands, are the climate laboratories of the 21st century.  Policies that would not be adopted in places like Omaha, Nebraska can be passed in island cities and proven to work.

Air Bubble Barrier Traps Plastic Waste in Amsterdam’s Canals–Some ideas are so simple that it boggles the mind that no one thought of this before.  How can we get a group like 4ocean to pilot these bubble barriers in several rivers, canals, whatever waterways across the globe?

Silvopasture: The Benefits of Integrating Livestock and Trees–There are more ways to skin the agriculture cat than we usually consider.  Livestock can be part of a system that helps to regenerate the landscape or produce renewable energy.  It is not always a zero sum game.

11 Unbelievably Easy Swaps To Be More Eco-Friendly–Imagine a world where we all woke up and did these eleven things?  Ok, for the dudes out there the whole diva cup thing is not applicable so pick an extra thing to do.

Friday Linkage 11/8/2019

Did Trump suffer the greatest defeat of all time in Kentucky?  Not so much. He was in that state to rally for a horrible candidate who ended up losing by a razor thin margin.  However, Trump is a loser nonetheless. And a clown.

On to the links…

It’s Official: Trump Just Started the Process to Formally Pull Out of the Paris Climate Accords—This is where we are now.  In one year we have the best chance and maybe our only chance to stop this madness.

EPA to Ease Restrictions on How Coal Plants Store Toxic Waste—This is what you get with the Trump administration.  Coal companies want to pollute without regard for anything.  Coal companies get what they want because they are sucking up to Trump and will be with him until the end.

Why Restoring Nature is so Important to Limiting Climate Change—Restoration is the concept we need to be fighting for right now.  If we can restore forests, wetlands, bayous, grasslands, and what not we have a chance.

How To Reach U.S. Net Zero Emissions By 2050: Decarbonizing Industry—Transportation gets all of the attention because cars are part of our national psyche, but industry is a big player in terms of emissions.  Just reducing emissions by concrete and steel producers would do a lot to put us on the path of net zero emissions.

How America Can Reach Net Zero Emissions By 2050: Decarbonizing Buildings—There is a lot of progress that can be made by figuring out how our buildings are using energy and fossil fuels.

Race Heats Up For Title Of Cheapest Solar Energy In The World—This is a race to the bottom that you want to participate in as much as possible.  How is coal and, perhaps, natural gas going to compete with solar at $0.0164 or lower per kWh?

Huge Battery Investments Drop Energy-Storage Costs Faster Than Expected, Threatening Natural Gas—Peaker plants are going to be replaced by big batteries.  Like replacing coal, these batteries are going to replace the most inefficient and polluting natural gas electricity sources.  Overbuilding renewables and building out a level of storage is how we beat the “duck curve.”

Giant Water Battery Cuts University’s Energy Costs by $100 Million Over Next 25 Years—This is so low tech and cool at the same time.  Why can’t this type of solution be deployed in places like California and Arizona?  Oh wait, it could.

New Lithium Ion Battery Design Could Allow Electric Vehicles to Be Charged in Ten Minutes—This is how EVs get better without a major breakthrough in battery technology.  Improve the charging, increase the efficiency of the components, etc.

Can ‘Nests’ and Eco Bikes Reduce the Environmental Impact of Parcel Delivery in Cities?

—Bikes are amazing and if we are going to insist on buying everything from Amazon at the very least the delivery can be eco-friendly.

Sydney Hints At Electrification Of 8,000 Buses—We are never going to build out rail networks in our cities that are built for automobiles using surface streets.  However, as density increases we can utilize electric buses to utilize the existing infrastructure in a better way.

Backcountry.com Breaks its Silence Amid Trademark Lawsuit Controversy to Apologize and Aay “We made a mistake”–The first rule of being an outdoor manufacturer or retailer should be “Don’t be a dick.”  No one was confusing someone talking about backcountry skiing with an internet retailer.

October 2019 Solar Production and EV Performance

October 2019 was an okay month for solar production:

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As you can see, my solar array exceeded the production of 2017 but fell short of what was produced in 2018.  Those are the breaks.  All in, my household ended up down ~229 kWh.

Granted, a lot of this delta between consumption and production can be accounted for by the Nissan Leaf sitting in my garage.  For the month of October I drove 900.3 miles at an average efficiency of 5.4 miles per kWh.  Total electricity consumption to drive my EV was ~167 kWh.  This represents an approximate savings of 1,034 pounds of CO2 versus driving my prior vehicle.

For the year I have driven 6,794 miles with an average efficiency of 5.3 miles per kWh.  Assuming all of the electricity I have used comes from the grid at an average carbon intensity for my region I have saved ~7,767 pounds of CO2 from being emitted.

What is really a good sign is that I should really be in the black when it comes to consumption versus production within a month or so.  My local electric cooperative approved my revised interconnection agreement and an additional 8 360 watt solar panels are waiting to be installed.  A weekend with snow has kind of messed up everyone’s schedule around these parts so I am just waiting for the phone call from the installers.  Any day now.

An extra 62% production capacity will put me well above my consumption numbers, including my EV’s needs and a few electrification projects I have pending, for the foreseeable future.  For the year I estimate that I would be ahead of consumption by 1,858 kWh assuming similar weather patterns.  That is a lot of cushion to further decarbonize my household.