Tag Archives: solar

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.

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An October Surprise for My Solar System

It is five days until election day.  I cannot stress how important it is that everyone who is legally eligible to vote goes to the polls to cast a vote.

October turned out to be a decent month for solar:

Image-1

Production for 2018 beat the production from the same month in 2017 by a little bit.   According to my calculations I also ended the month in positive territory (production minus consumption) to the tune of ~45 kWh.  I say it was a surprising month for production because the month started out very gray with a lot of rain.  You can see the low production numbers for several days, but the sun came out at the back half of the month to bring in more than 316 kWh of clean, green electricity.

An unexpected car repair—nothing says welcome home quite like coming back from vacation and having your car not start—got my wife and I thinking about a new car.  Naturally, as someone who has a solar array on top of their house an electric vehicle of some sort is part of the consideration set.  The hard part, beyond the financial commitment of a new car which is something significant to consider after having zero car payments for the past five years, is comparable vehicles.  Is a Chevy Bolt, or Volt for that matter, really comparable to a Tesla Model 3?  Where does the Nissan Leaf fit into the equation?

In the end the part that got me the most excited about this discussion was how much solar photovoltaic capacity I would need to add to my roof to generate enough electricity to account for our annual driving of a single vehicle.  In an average year we drive less than 10,000 miles for either of the vehicles in our garage.  Some years it is quite less if we do not take any extended road trips, which are one of our indulgences.

How does 10,000 miles equate into electricity?  Based on a cursory search of various message boards for EV owners I am going to use a figure of 3.5 miles per kilowatt hour of electricity.  Therefore, a system would need to produce ~2,850 kWh per year to account for 10,000 miles of driving.  Based on the actuals from my current solar photovoltaic array I figure that I would need to add 9 or 10 290 watt panels, which are equivalent to what is on my roof today.  At a cost of $2.5 per watt installed I would be looking at $7250 before state and federal incentives.

Does anyone realize how scary that idea must be for oil companies?  With just 10 panels on a west facing roof in Iowa I can account for 100% of my annual miles driven at a cost of little more than seven thousand dollars.  No gas stations, no wars in the Middle East, no refineries…yeah, that is truly scary for oil companies.  The revolution will be powered by the sun!

Friday Linkage 11/2/2018

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

I just spent a few days in central Florida—hence the light linkage this Friday—and I do not remember ever being assaulted with that many political ads.  It’s not just the headliner races for Senate and Governor, but down ballot races were all over the airwaves.  It actually continued during my time driving south from Minneapolis where ads for the state’s attorney general race were omnipresent on the radio.

Thinking I escaped it all was but a wispy dream when I opened my mailbox to a flood of mailers for Iowa races.  Damn, I cannot wait until Wednesday.

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…

Zinke and Trump Are Ignoring the Public—One of the tropes of the 2016 election was that of the “liberal snowflake” who was too brittle of psyche to handle direct criticism of foundational beliefs.  Does anyone find it funny just how scared of the public that Republican leaders are right now?  Who was really the “snowflake” all along?

‘Unfit to Serve’? US Interior Secretary Faces Fresh Ethics Scrutiny—Is “unfit to serve” going to be the term that describes the Trump era in American history?

A Guide to the Ryan Zinke Investigations—Just a handy breakdown of the corruption at the head of the Department of Interior.

The Older Kids Get, the Less Time They Spend Outdoors—This is probably true for most of us.  As we get older we spend less time outdoors.  Maybe that is a reason why we, as a society, are so broken.

Electric Vehicles are Going to Render the Fight over Fuel Economy Standards Moot—Trump can try and turn back the clock for automobile fuel efficiency, coal, or whatever strikes his Diet Coke addled brain at the moment but the march of progress is constant.

7 US States Set To Double Their Wind Capacity—These are good numbers, but not great.  I would like to see Iowa get back on the list of states deploying a lot of wind although I believe that the numbers for the fourth quarter of the year will be strong because of a few projects coming on line.

Is Australia on the Verge of Having too Much Solar Energy?—In short, no.  Do you notice a trend with these arguments?  First, it was renewables would be too small a percentage of the overall electricity supply to be relevant.  Second, it was renewables were too intermittent to be a reliable source of power.  Now, it is the threat of too much renewable energy.  If someone keeps moving the goal posts for measuring success you know you are doing something right that scares the shit out of them.

Coal Report says Australian Exports have Peaked and are in ‘Terminal Long-Term Decline’—My dad used to say that these large industries are like dinosaurs.  Even though they may be dead it takes a long time for them to roll over so that anyone actually notices.  The best thing we can do is find ways to hasten the decline.  Push that snowball downhill.

Tall Wood gets Green Light from Building Code—From the boring but important files.  Building codes are boring.  Like, very boring.  However, so much of what we build is determined by how building codes are implemented and adopted.

Low Cost, Low Energy Cooling System Shows Promise—On a hotter planet reducing the energy need for cooling will be a critical pieces in the fight to erase climate change.

Solar Power was Nearly Even Stevens in September 2018

Image-1 (3)September was an odd month.  Solar production really fell off because the weather turned overcast and rainy real quick, but the first week or so of the month was really hot and humid.  Here is what the production looked like for the month.

It’s pretty obvious that things were a little gray since the array ended up about 100 kWh down compared with the prior year.

All in, my household ended the month with a surplus of 17 kWh.  The system will probably run a surplus in October and November depending on the weather and, therefore, the amount of heating we deploy before going into deficit for the deep winter months.

With a little more than a year under my belt of solar powered bliss I am pleasantly surprised that my little system—just 16 290 watt panels for a total of 4.64 kW of solar potential—has been able to cover more than my household’s needs.  As I look out at houses in my development and others nearby I wonder how much potential there is for everyone to be solar powered.

Imagine a world where we lived off the power we could produce from our roofs?  That is a future I want to live in.

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…

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.