Tag Archives: solar

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…

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Friday Linkage 8/24/2018

I came back from London to a world where “Truth isn’t truth.”  Maybe so, but felony convictions and guilty pleas are pretty much fact.

I thought that we had reached peak semantic games when Bill Clinton tried to debate what the meaning of the word is was under a given context, but Donald Trump and his minions have come along to upset the entire apple cart of human decency.

We now live in a country and, maybe, a world where a large segment of the population does not believe in objective truth unless supported by Sean Hannity and Alex Jones—who, by the way, tried to argue in a custody case that he was a “performance artist” and therefore his speech was “art.”  You get the idea.

On to the links…

Trump Administration Scraps Plan To Sell Land Cut From Utah Monument—It is all a grift.  Everything these criminals do is in support of the con to loot the American public of every last nickel and dime before the authorities finally start actually locking people up.

Ryan Zinke Would ‘Sell His Grandkids For Big Oil,’ Says Washington Governor—Jay Inslee forgot uranium mining and coal mining and mineral extraction…

Trump Administration Hit With 7 Major Environmental Setbacks In Court In Past Week—Granted, the impact of this administration will be felt for decades as Republicans in Congress have finally decided to fill long empty court seats because they like a white guy picking judges as opposed to a black guy.  If you think their reticence to confirm Obama’s nominees has anything to do with anything other than naked racism you are delusional.

Trump’s Attacks on Public Lands Could Help the Democrats in These States—Surprise, surprise…people in western states like public lands and understand when a politician is just shilling for the oil and gas industries.

Talk About “Losing Money” — US Shale Gas Will Crash … Hard—This is not a really bold prediction for anyone who has followed the boom and bust cycle of the U.S. oil industry for the past fifty or so years.  Remember Denver in the late 1980s?  No one really does because the crash turned the city into a ghost town.

New 9.8 Megawatt Solar Farm In Gallup, New Mexico, Will Save City $785,000 In First 8 Years—Keep pushing coal Donny Two Scoops.  Meanwhile, the rest of the world will move to cheaper and cleaner sources of energy.

Bitcoin’s Annual Carbon Footprint Is Equal to One Million Transatlantic Flights—I admittedly do not really understand bitcoin, but the carbon footprint is out of control.

The Conflict of Interest That Is Killing Recycling—It is the fox guarding the hen house.  Landfill operators and trash haulers want to pick up rubbish and dump it in a landfill.  That is where they make their money.  Recycling is just something that municipalities have burdened them with and they are failing to make the entire endeavor work.

New York’s Push to End Inequality Extends to Garbage—Environmental justice is social justice.  The story of garbage collection and transfer in New York City is the story of how rich people or, at the very least, not poor people have paid to have their trash sent to places where the residents did not have the money and/or clout to prevent the operation of transfer stations.

Report Finds Traces of a Controversial Herbicide in Cheerios and Quaker Oats—Who does not want a little Roundup in their breakfast cereal?  Seriously, we need to stop indiscriminately spraying chemicals on our land.  It is wrong.

Piles of Peer Reviewed Research Show How Bad Cooking with Gas is for Your Health—I have always been a fan of a smooth top electric range because of how easy the top is to clean, but now it looks like I was making a healthy choice as well.  I have always kind of wondered about the wisdom of having an open flame burning in my kitchen.

In Praise of the Dumb Box—I don’t know if calling it the dumb box is the right idea.  Simple.  Austere.  Nordic?  For every “starcitecht’s” whack ass vision in curves and angles there is a basic box doing yeoman’s work housing people.  We tend to actually like basic boxes because it provides us actual space to put our touch on things rather than living in a prefab module.

Norway Has A Radical Approach To Plastic Pollution, And It’s Working—On top of dealing with climate change, we need to deal with the scourge of plastic pollution.  Maybe the Norwegians have figured something out.

Indian Man has Planted a Tree Every Day for 40-Years and Now has a Thriving Forest Larger than Central Park—Maybe we should all just wake up tomorrow and plant a tree.  Turn off the news, put down the phone, and plant a tree.

Friday Linkage 8/3/2018

Election Day is 95 days away.  On November 6, 2018 the people of the United States have the best chance to show the world that Donald Trump and his coterie of right wing, e.g. Republican, enablers do not represent America.

Here in the 1st district of Iowa we have a chance to eliminate the stain of representation that is Rod Blum, a parody of late stage capitalist politician if ever there was one.  He has the benefit of being from the same state as Steve King so no one ever calls him the worst politician from the state of Iowa.

On to the links…

Friendly Policies Keep US Oil and Coal Afloat Far More than We Thought—This is where the fight needs to be in the near future.  Eliminate all subsidies for energy sources that contribute to climate change.  Seriously, do we need to spend public money to subsidize energy companies that have made more money than any other type of company in the history of mankind?

Congress Tries, Fails, to Destroy ANOTHER National Monument—Remember, this is a Congress led by Republicans in both chambers and they still cannot get anything done.  Government is not inherently incompetent, it is just incompetent when run by right wingers.

Dozens Of Lion Trophy Permits Issued To Hunters As Trump Rolls Back Import Hurdles—Donny Two Scoops is really looking out for the interests of the American people with this one.  How soon before Don Jr. or the goblin shark Eric come back from Africa with a mounted lion?

The EPA Just Undid Scott Pruitt’s Final Act in Office—This is why the election in November is so important.  Without a compliant Congress, any changes made by the corrupt Trump administration will be swept away with a change in the Oval Office.

Andrew Wheeler is Afraid to Revoke California’s Fuel Waiver. He Should Be.—The Trump administration is itching to fight over anything that even hints at the previous administration.  They should be careful about what they wish for when it comes to legal cases.

Coal Mining Has Destroyed 1.5 Million Acres of Appalachian Forest—Imagine if someone came up with a plan to restore these 1.5 million acres to something resembling a forest?  Imagine hundreds of millions of dollars flowing into a region for the largest environmental restoration project in the history of mankind?  I can imagine it being possible, can you?

From Coal Mines To Solar Farms: It’s Complicated, But Doable—The landscapes of coal country have been scarred by an extractive industry, see above, that has no interest in the long term viability of the communities or the health of the people left behind.

US Wind Installations To Surge Before PTC Phase-Out In 2021—We can all hope that by 2020 or so there is a more visionary government installed in the U.S. that extends these tax credits to continue one of the few positive developments in our energy infrastructure.

The $3 Billion Plan to Turn Hoover Dam Into a Giant Battery—The era of “big” public works seems to be over, but what if we could use all of that infrastructure to help the transition to a 100% renewable economy?

‘Peak Coal’ is Getting Closer, Latest Figures Show—This is why the deployment of renewables, energy efficiency, and demand destruction are so important.  Coal is teetering on the edge of economic relevance and we can topple the beast with a concerted effort.

Energy Dept. Coal and Nuclear Subsidy could Cost Average US Household $160 to $500 Per Year—As coal and nuclear are no longer competitive in the electricity generation marketplace it is now the responsibility of the American people to ensure that these companies make money.  Why?  Because they donate a lot of money to people like Donald Trump.  This is not about national security, it is about keeping coal companies humming along.

UPS Partners with L.A.-Based Startup Thor on Electric Delivery Truck—Electrification of the heavy and medium duty truck market would be a more cost effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than trying to goose adoption through personal automobile electrification.  These commercial vehicles are driven a lot more, bought in large quantities by a single user, and can make an economic case better than personal automobiles.

Have We Reached Peak Storage?—I truly hope we have reached a point where we no longer need to build storage units external to our home to store stuff that we use so infrequently that it can be stored at a remote location.

Marie Kondo Wants You to Buy More Boxes—What the shit?  Is this when you know a trend has really “jumped the shark?”  I thought the idea behind this was to buy less stuff?  We’re all just pimps for something.

Why Your Kid Needs Time Just to Be—As parents we are a seriously neurotic bunch worrying about our kids future.  Maybe, just maybe, the key to raising a happy child is to let them be a kid once in a while.  Or, letting them just be a kid a whole lot.

Over 700 kWh of Solar Electricity in July

July 2018 was the best month ever for my house’s solar photovoltaic array:

Image-1 (2)

Approximately 742 kWh of renewable energy from the roof of my garage seems like magic.  I still think there is some black magic going on in those panels that turns sunlight into electricity, but I also still like Harry Potter so maybe magic is my thing.

Even with some days of fairly heavy air conditioning use when the humidity climbed along with the temperature, I still managed to produce ~250 kWh more this month than I consumed.  In total, since my system was turned on at the end of August I am up over 700 kWh when I compare production versus consumption.

Here’s the thing, with a middling sized solar array—just 4.64 kW on a 270 degree azimuth facing roof—generates more than 100% of the electricity that I use in a large-ish American suburban home.  It is my contention that this shows we can move to 100% renewable energy a lot easier than anyone thinks.  A combination of renewable energy deployment, efficiency, and comment sense conservation can get us there with little sacrifice.  For everyone who says that it cannot be done I welcome you to have a discussion with me about the topic.

Here’s to hoping that August and September can come in big to build a buffer against the gloomy winter months.

Friday Linkage 7/13/2018

Well that was an interesting week.  Scott Pruitt “resigned” amid corruption that had not been seen since the Warren G. Harding administration.  Donny Two Scoops got to nominate another justice to the Supreme Court and he promptly picked the most white toast candidate possible.  Another judge that comes from an Ivy League background, clerked for a Supreme Court justice, worked in Washington D.C. and so on.  For a guy who was going to “drain the swamp” he is operating pretty much like a dyed in the wool establishment Republican when it comes to the Supreme Court.

I guess we have to wonder if Steven Mnuchin or Ryan Zinke will be the next stooge on the corruption stage.  I am voting for Mnuchin only because his wife is just like a villain from a Disney movie.

This is the last very special Scott Pruitt section of links…

Read Scott Pruitt’s Bizarre Resignation Letter—Can we call for a moratorium on right wing a-holes praising God no matter how reprehensible their actions may have been?  Scott Pruitt is a horrible human being who was only looking out for himself.  God had nothing to do with anything that he did.

Scott Pruitt is Gone, but the Trump Administration’s Culture of Corruption Remains—The corruption is on display for everyone to see.  Republicans must be made to answer for why they have allowed a public looting of the American enterprise by Trump, his family, and his cohort of cartoon stooges.

Scott Pruitt Investigations Aren’t Ending just Because he Resigned—He can always hope that he gets a pardon from the head cheese puff.

Scott Pruitt is Leaving Behind a Toxic Mess at the EPA—The EPA is a mess.  Environmental regulation and enforcement under Trump is a disaster.  Andrew Wheeler, Scott Pruitt’s replacement, is like replacing Cruella De Ville with Mother Gothel.  One villain is a lot more showy than the other, but they are both horrible people.

Scott Pruitt Gave “Super Polluting” Trucks a Gift on his Last Day at the EPA—It’s one last middle finger to the majority of Americans as Scott Pruitt finds a way to reward a campaign donor yet again.

Scott Pruitt’s Resignation Is Just The Start—We can hope.  However, given how pervasive the corruption is at every level of this administration and given the complicit nature of Congressional Republicans the best chance to really turn up the heat will not come until a new Congress is sworn in this coming January.

Well, bye:

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On to the links…

Thanks to Natural Gas, US CO2 Emissions Lowest Since 1985—This is one of those good news, bad news kind of things.  Emitting less CO2 is good.  However, natural gas production may be emitting a lot of unaccounted for methane which is like a supercharged greenhouse gas compared to carbon dioxide.  It also begs the question about us making an actual transition to renewables.

China Is Swallowing A Bitter Pill And Trying To Cut Its Coal Use—China realizes that burning coal to power its economy is causing too much trouble.  When China decides to go coal free what hope does the old black rock have of being relevant as an energy source in the future?

One of the World’s Biggest Insurers Is Ditching Coal—Insurance is one of those boring but important facts of business.  If your project cannot get insured, you will be forced to offer investors a higher rate of return which will reduce your economic competitiveness.  In the case of coal, this will put the old dirty fuel another step behind cleaner alternatives.

New Utility Settlement Highlights how Ohio Utilities are Leaving FirstEnergy Behind on Clean Energy—FirstEnergy might have a better chance of bringing back Blockbuster than trying to revive the hopes for its fleet of coal burning power plants.

The First Fully Solar-Powered Ski Area: Wolf Creek, CO—If you ski you should care about renewable energy because it might be the only hope that we have of actually getting to ski on snow in the future.  Way to go Wolf Creek on going 100% solar.  Totally!

EPA Blocks Warnings on Cancer-Causing Chemical—This is the kind of government you get when you elect people who tell you that they hate government.

Why is the Trump Administration Putting a Tariff on Chinese LEDs?—My first inkling is to say that Donald Trump does not understand how international trade works, but the answer is probably that a lobbyist got to write down what products they wanted a tariff on in a book and our dear leader just copied the list down for action.  He is the muppet of presidents.  It looks like he is in charge, but somewhere hidden is someone with a hand up his ass telling him what to do on a minute by minute basis.

I Gave Up AC This Summer To Live Within My Means. America Should Try That—Maybe we should all try and give up a little something to live within our economic and environmental means.

One in Three Fish Caught Never Makes it to the Plate—We do not need to farm, raise, or fish for more food.  We need to waste less of what we already farm, raise, and fish.  If you could instantly take the wasted bycatch from the international fishing economy and bring that to market it would mean a more than 30% increase in available protein.

Stop Buying Tilapia! Here Are 5 Other Fish You Need to Try.—Seriously, stop buying tilapia.  It is like Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominees.  It is the dry white toast of fish.  It is what Becky would order for dinner after finishing her Frappuccino.

Friday Linkage 7/6/2018

I absolutely love the discussion about civility in national politics right now.  I love how people like Donald Trump, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, or anyone else associated with the right wing can claim to hold any shred of credibility with regard to being civil when these are the same people who have given us the likes of Steve King, Louie Gohmert, and others.  Heck, they gave us Donald Trump who is literally the most vulgar person to hold the office of President of the United States in the history of the country.  Come at me with a different person, please.

We have truly entered the straight up Orwellian dystopia phase of the current political cycle.  Up is down, black is white, and Trump is right.  If you are not with the dear leader, regardless of where his policy position is that day, you are against the dear leader even if you have done nothing but maintain long held beliefs.  Just wait until they start burning books that do not have more space dedicated to pictures than words.

On to the links…

Scott Pruitt Asked Aides To Find His Wife A $200,000 Job—Scott Pruitt may be the most corrupt person in Washington D.C. since the administration of Warren G. Harding.

It’s Time for the Republican Congress to Impeach the EPA’s Scott Pruitt—This is not the opinion of a liberal mouthpiece.  It is coming from a business publication.  Here is the thing I wonder about.  When the administration changes how will Republicans react to the smallest of infractions by a Democratic administration?  What sort of faux outrage will people like Chuck Grassley manufacture after spending the prior four years closing their eyes, plugging their ears, and screaming “La, la, la!” while Trump and his cronies looted America?

This is how People Tried to Teach Scott Pruitt about Climate Science—Remember, this is the man in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency.  You can’t teach Scott Pruitt because Scott Pruitt is bought and paid for by the oil and gas lobby.

Path to Zero Emissions Starts Out Easy, but Gets Steep—Does anyone really doubt that this is true?  However, we will not get to the innovation part unless we start on the easy stuff first.  If history is any guide to the future, however, advances in energy production will come along that moderate the steepness of the deployment curve.

Coal Power Plants Retiring Quickly During Trump Administration—It looks like we are already trying to get coal out of the picture.  Despite Trump’s best efforts—which have probably slowed down retirements but not stopped the trend—coal is not the way we will generate electricity in the future.  Maybe he really should try and bring back Blockbuster?  Or ToyRUs?

Solar Power Employs Twice As Many As Coal In US—For every coal mining job Trump claims he is trying to save, which is really code for him just trying to save coal barons’ paychecks at the expense of everyone else on the planet, he is endangering more solar jobs on the other side of the ledger.  This is a losing hand that he is playing to the bitter end.  Good luck with that Donny two scoops.

Electric Vehicles Alone Could Cause Peak Oil Demand within Decade—Peak oil used to be about Hubbert’s Peak and the decline of production based on economically producible reserves, but maybe the worm has turned and we will just demand to use less oil.  I like to think that I am contributing ever so slightly by biking into work several days a week.  Demand destruction is real.

Climate Change is Making it Harder to Revive Damaged Land—Just add this to the list of things that climate change is going to make harder for future generations.

Call to Turn Oil Rigs into Nature Reserves—Why don’t we just take every offshore rig at the end of its life and turn it into a combination artificial reef and offshore wind turbine?

UK Renewable Electricity Generation Tops 30%, Scotland Increases By 11%—The U.K. generated over 30% of its electricity in the third quarter via renewables.  Not for a day or a month, but an entire quarter.  In the same report it was noted that for the entirety of 2017 Scotland generated almost 70% of its electricity from renewable sources.  The future is now folks.

Battery-Backed Solar Power to Undercut Coal in China by 2028—So, once China figures out how to cut the price of solar with storage what is the market for energy going to look like?

Solar Power Fuels Savings, Consumer Loyalty and Competition Among Craft Brewers—You mean to tell me that people like it when their favorite beer makers also believe that the world is a better place with more solar power?  I would have never thought such a thing were possible.

The Dirty Little Secret Behind “Clean Energy” Wood Pellets—Do any biomass energy schemes ever work out as intended?  It always seems like the promise is predicated on a bunch of ifs.  If the forest is replanted or if the forest is not clear cut and so on.

The US has a 1.39 billion-pound surplus of cheese. Let’s try to visualize that.—I am stuck here thinking about what a 1.39 billion pound round of cheese would be like sitting on the mall in Washington D.C.:

Cheese_Stock__1_

Over 600 kWh of Solar Power in June, yet Left Wanting More

June 2018 ended with my home’s solar photovoltaic system have produced approximately 619 kWh for the month:

Image-1 (1)

This is about on par with May’s production, but several things are off.

See that really low production day on June 26th?  The weather was partly sunny or partly cloudy depending upon your weather vernacular.  That was also about the time that the monitoring data from the app that I use went all haywire.  One day it would show no production, but then update with crazy fluctuating production for that same day later.  I am liable to think that the numbers for the month are off as a result.  Since that period of hiccups everything looks fine, but I am suspicious.

Also, watch your meter readings like a hawk.  I received my electric bill from my local electric coop and it was way off.  How off?  Like someone switched the meter readings for production and consumption.  Instead of showing me positive approximately 500 kWh it was showing almost the same number as a deficit.  Granted, it was easy to figure out because I know how to read my meter but it was discouraging to have to go through the process with customer service.

Without telling me the electric coop replaced my bi-directional meter with a newer model.  It is no skin off my back, but I have lost my tracking of how well my system has done since being installed.  That being said I know that I am net positive more than 600 kWh since the system was installed and I am looking forward to a big month of production in July.