Tag Archives: Star Tribune

Friday Linkage 7/31/2015

The end of July. School is only a few weeks away for my daughter. Where did the summer go?

On to the links…

Farmworkers Score Big in New Tomato Deal—The Coalition of Immokalee Workers just got Ahold USA to sign up to its program. This is a big win. Pressure is working.

Battle of Solar Pits Rooftop Against Utility-Scale Systems—Why not both? Seriously, why is there a conflict between these two? Oh right, follow the money…

Hillary Clinton Pledges Half a Billion Solar Panels for US—This has to be one of the easiest policy wins of recent memory. Let’s see…clean, emission free power from the sun for the next twenty five years after the panel is installed. I am sure Ted Cruz is pissed about this.

Hillary Clinton Still Won’t Take a Position on the Keystone XL Pipeline—Why is this such a hard thing for her to disavow? Keystone XL is a loser on so many levels.

Wind Energy Provides Europe With 8% Of Its Electricity In 2014-8% is a good number. I would like to see more.

Large-Scale Solar Near Parity In World’s Three Biggest Markets—When power from emission free sources is at parity with fossil fuels even accounting for the loss of subsidies we will have reached a major turning point.

First Ever US Offshore Wind Farm Gets First “Steel In Water,” No Turning Back Now—This is exciting because offshore wind has such potential. It can deliver clean, emission free wind power to the heavily and densely populated eastern seaboard.

Rocky Mountain Resorts Race to Defend their Businesses Against Climate Change—Those beautiful powder days are threatened by climate change. Skiing in late March is threatened by climate change. Does anyone care about climate change?

U.S. Craft Beer Volume Production up 16% through 1st Half of 2015—People keep waiting for the crash in craft beer explosion, but it just looks like a lot of people cannot get enough of craft beer:

Mid-Year-Craft-Production-Volume-2015-BeerPulse

Pour some more IPAs folks!

America Is Not Getting Fatter Anymore—This is amazing to me. People are consuming a lot less soda and actually paying attention to their health in terms of obesity.

Looking Up: How Farming Changed my Perspective on Rain—When you make your living from the land you take a whole new perspective on a lot of different issues. Rain is life instead of inconvenience.

Friday Linkage 7/3/2015

Damn, it’s July. Where did June go? That’s right, I spent the month trying to put as many miles on my bikes as possible and spending the rest of my time enjoying a few moments of clam between rain storms.

On to the links…

Americans Are Drinking Less Coffee Thanks to K-Cups—So, we are drinking less coffee but paying more for the privilege of brewing it a single cup at a time. How is this a good trade off?

The Surprising Environmental Reason Weed Should Be Legal—Marijuana should be legal nationwide because the war on drugs is a sham perpetuated by the prison industrial complex. It also appears that there is an environmental benefit to legalization.

Solar Power Per Capita & Wind Power Per Capita Leaders—Lichtenstein is the leader in per capita solar? Really?

Largest Solar Plant On Planet Earth — Solar Star — Comes Online—With all the hype about distributed solar—of which I am a big proponent—sometimes the scale of these utility projects gets lost. Solar Star in California has a rated capacity of 579 megawatts of funky yellow sun fueled electrical power.

How Renewables are Thriving in the US Thanks to State Policies—Government policy can advance the cause of renewables despite what right wingers might say:

CESA-Wind-and-Solar-infographic-FINAL_1-465x1024

Total Plans 500-800 MW Solar Power Capacity In Bolivia—Bolivia has not ever come up in the links before that I can remember. The French energy titan Total is putting some serious money into renewables in that country.

3 Out Of 4 New Solar Homes In NSW To Include Battery Storage—The more I read and the more I think about the topic the more that I come to the conclusion that Australia seems like the perfect laboratory for the distribution of massive amounts of residential solar.

The West Is Literally On Fire, And The Impacts Could Be Widespread—As the climate changes as a result of global warming we are going to have to deal with the massive impacts of wildfires in drought stricken regions.

Californians Getting Drought Message: Water Usage Plunges—The state still has not addressed some of the agricultural usage insanity—like growing alfalfa to feed to cows or to export—but the residents of the state seem to be getting the idea that el Nino will not rescue them from drought this time.

Mark Bittman Wants You to Know the Drought Isn’t Your Fault—The drought is not our fault, but our food choices may be making things worse. Given the water situation in California there is no logical reason why cows should be residents of that state. None.

Corn Syrup’s DC Attack on Sugar Could Hit Minnesota Beet Industry—Talk about some lobby-on-lobby crime. These two subsidized industries need to get of the government welfare.

Hawaii Just Became The First State To Ban Plastic Bags At Grocery Checkouts—A big thank you to the aloha state for banning the distribution of single use plastic bags. These things are the scourge of the earth.

Friday Linkage 5/8/2015

I know that the people in California do not want to hear this, but eastern Iowa is a little sick of rain right now. It has stormed almost every day for the past week and the ground is the consistency of a soaked sponge. The forecast, unfortunately, calls for another week of similar showers and it means that most outdoor projects are going to get delayed another week. Ugh.

On to the links…

Why the Koch Brothers’ War against Clean Energy is Still Failing—You would think for a couple of supposedly astute business people—who got a nice helping hand by inheriting some level of wealth from their parents—the Koch brothers do not seem to get a good return on their investment in trying to fight progress. Of course, trying to fight progress is never a good idea in the long term because reactionary elements tend to die out leaving you alone as a flag bearer of outdated ideas.

MidAmerican Energy Plans $900 Million Wind Expansion in Iowa—That is almost a billion dollars and the news kind of flew under the radar. Including this investment MidAmerican Energy will have nearly 4,000 megawatts of wind power in Iowa with a total investment of almost $7 billion dollars. When the projects are completed the utility may be able to serve 57 percent of its total retail load with wind.

100% Renewable Electricity Goal Passed By Hawaiian Legislature—Hawaii should be 100% renewable considering the prices ratepayers are paying, the danger of bringing in fuel on tankers, and the state’s abundant renewable resource potential. Maybe politicians have finally listened.

95% Renewable Power-Mix Cheaper Than Nuclear And Gas—In a nutshell, at current costs with a decent share of renewables deployed the cost to deploy a nearly 100% renewable grid will cost nothing more to the consumer. The clean power revolution is already at the tipping point. We just need to apply some more pressure and leverage.

The New Normal? Renewables, Efficiency, And “Too Much Electricity”—Overgen might be something we need to get used to in the future and it speaks to the need for energy storage. Widely deployed energy storage, be it in the form of EVs or wall mounted batteries, can serve to level out the disparity between generation and demand of electricity.

Refrigeration Battery is a Cool Idea for Saving Energy at the Supermarket—I remember these ice systems being the rage a few years ago and I remember seeing one in action at New Belgium Brewery’s facility in Fort Collins, Colorado. Now, as time of day pricing becomes more prevalent these systems may start to proliferate.

Western Towns Hard-Hit by Climate Change Unite, Target Coal for Funds—There is a movement afoot at the grass roots level to adapt to the threat of climate change. National politicians will not see it because they are beholden to small number of primary voters and big ticket donors, but when reliably conservative western towns start making a ruckus they will have lost the war.

Hundreds of Lapsed Permits Found on Forest Service Land—Basically, private companies are not paying for what they are taking from the public trust. Criminals.

Bill Would Roll Back Public Lands Protections In The Name Of National Security—When will the insanity of the border protection industrial complex stop? Building more walls and radio towers and roads will not stop people trying to flee truly horrible situations in their own countries. Maybe if we put some of those resources into trying to make these countries better places there would not be such an exodus. Just saying.

Central Valley’s Growing Concern: Crops Raised with Oil Field Water—Would you like some heavy metals and other chemicals with your salad mix? Didn’t think so.

EPA Faces Struggle to Regulate Formaldehyde—Can’t we all just agree that formaldehyde is nasty stuff. People who lived in FEMA trailers know this. People who bought cheap laminate flooring from China at Lumber Liquidators know this. And kids in biology class know this.

The World’s First Self-Driving Semi-Truck Hits the Road—Imagine the increased efficiency of trucks that could drive at non-peak hours in a very consistent manner safely. Awesome. It would also be awesome if this technology were in consumer cars and I could just zone out during the stretch of interstate from North Platte, Nebraska until Denver. I-76 must die.

UPS to Experiment with Renewable Biogas in 400 Vehicles—Some places call it “poo” gas, but biogas derived from rotting organic material can be a drop in replacement from gas from fossil fuel sources. You can actually tap the landfill. How cool is that?

Friday Linkage 3/6/2015

I do not know if is a function of human derived climate change or the fact that weather in the Midwest can be schizophrenic, but we have seen the temperature go from 35 on Monday down to negative 5 on Thursday and back up to 35 by Friday afternoon. Whiplash anyone?

On to the links…

Ringling Bros. Eliminating Elephant Acts—After much public pressure and bad behavior on Ringling Bros. part the misuse of elephants as entertainment appears to be coming to an end. It is too bad that these animals are still going to live in a facility run by Ringling Bros. More pressure is needed to get these animals to a real sanctuary.

How Global Warming Helped Cause the Syrian War—If you do not believe that global warming and climate change are a threat to national security you are probably a stooge getting payments from the Koch Brothers or Exxon.

The U.S. Just Got One Step Closer To Regulating Airplane Carbon Emissions—Air travel is a huge source of carbon emissions. Regulating these emissions is a big deal. There is progress being made. If you ever doubt the importance of the election in 2016 remember that a Republican president would roll back any of the progress that has been made on issues like these. Those are the stakes.

Solar Energy’s Unexpected Conservative Backers—The price is right and the technology is available. It finally looks like the political roadblocks to widespread solar adoption are falling as conservative—just not the right wing of the right wing—politicians and pundits are jumping on the bandwagon.

Google Invests $300 Million in SolarCity Rooftop Solar Installations—So, $300M supports at least 25,000 solar installations. Imagine if we just stopped subsidizing oil and gas to the tune of billions of dollars and funneled that same amount of money into funds deploying solar? I know, it’s crazy talk.

Solyndra’s Fall was Great for Solar, Just Ask Henry Ford—The shakeout in the solar industry was good for the industry as a whole and consumers because it got rid of the weaker players or non-competitive technologies. It is the sign of a maturing market.

Why Utility-Scale Solar is Booming on the East Coast—Solar is not just about the sunny climes west of the Mississippi.

“Countertop” Flow Battery Is Coal-Crushing Energy Storage On Steroids—Cheap and abundant energy storage is the killer technology for distributed renewables. With this technology the peaks and valleys of energy production and demand can be leveled out without the need for fossil fuel base load power.

Deepwater Gets Financing for First US Offshore Wind Farm—Cape Wind’s financing appears to be in trouble, but this wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island might go forward. It’s a small project—only five 6 megawatt turbines—but think of it as a proof of concept that could lead to a lot more deployment.

Electricity Cost Decreases By 30% In Kenya Due To Geothermal—Where available and appropriate, geothermal is a wicked good renewable energy choice.

Is Grass-Fed Beef Really Better for You, the Animal and the Planet?—The moral of the story is that we should eat a lot less meat, especially a lot less beef.

Minneapolis Compost Rules Scrutinized with Pets in Mind—Someone’s pet gets into a compost bin that is not their own and it is the fault of the compost program that the dog got sick. How come no one asks the question about the dog owner’s responsibility to keep their pet from ingesting scraps bound for a compost facility?

Amsterdam is Out of Bicycle Parking Spaces, so it’s Building 40,000 More—If I ever had to pick someone other than the U.S. to live it would be the Netherlands. It’s the only place I have seen with high tech bike parking right next to a train station and a giant parking ramp for bicycles in the city center.

10,000 Elephants in the Room: I Made It Through CPAC Without Puking—Granted, every major political conference brings out the crazies. However, CPAC seems to have more than its fair share of whack jobs in Duck Dynasty garb, gun nuts, John Birch types, and whatever is left of the Tea Party.

3 Vile Myths too Many Food Companies are Shoving Down our Throats—Like urban legends, these food myths refuse to die.

Starve a Landfill: Efficiency in the Kitchen to Reduce Food Waste—Everything but the oink became a sign of the lengths the industrial food machine would go to extract profit from the slaughter of animals, but the same principle needs to be applied in our homefront war on global warming. With so much food waste in the U.S. it is imperative that we waste less in order to live better.

11 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Plastic Waste Today—Sometimes we forget about the little things that we should be doing to make this planet a better place. Just a friendly link reminder.

Friday Linkage 2/20/2015

This week was hard. Vanilla Ice got nabbed for burglarizing a vacant home next to a home that he and his crew were remodeling. Stay classy ,nilla!

On to the links…

If People Treated Their Homes like They Treat the Earth—Pretty much says it all:

earthhome720

Statistical Realism—At its most basic, the shale oil boom is a momentary blip in the inevitable decline of readily available and economically viable fossil fuels. The sooner we come to the realization the better off the economy and environment will be.

Is Hawaii’s Solar Power Surge Slowing Down?—Hawaii has solar panels on ~10% of roofs statewide, which compares with ~0.5% in the U.S. as a whole, but as the technology disperses and penetrates the market further conflicts have risen to the fore. HECO, the primary provider of electric power on the islands, is no friend to this site and is claiming to have reached a point of saturation. Never mind the threat to their little monopoly.

Cloudy Prospects for Rooftop Solar Growth in Florida—Unlike Hawaii, Florida is trying to not even get the ball rolling when it comes to rooftop solar. Then again this is a state where the top elected official oversaw the largest fraud in the history of Medicare.

SolarCity Leasing 200,000-Sq-Ft Former Solyndra Manufacturing Facility In Fremont—Solyndra was Benghazi before there was a Benghazi for Republicans. It’s too bad the successes of the loan program were not highlighted, only the failures but that is the cost of doing business with a political party in the pocket of the oil and gas industry. SolarCity, however, is killing it now.

1 Million Solar Homes Project Announced By President of Tanzania—The developing world holds a lot of potential for distributed renewables because the investment in a centralized infrastructure was never made. Essentially, these nations can “leapfrog” that development step.

World’s Biggest Offshore Windfarm Approved for Yorkshire Coast—The numbers are pretty staggering…enough electricity to power approximately 2 million homes…covering 430 square miles…900 jobs…potentially 2.5% of the U.K.’s electricity needs. Damn.

Biofuel from Trash could Create Green Jobs Bonanza—This is an interesting development. Close by in Marion, Iowa a Dutch company is building a sorting facility that will provide an ethanol distillery with the feedstock it requires. The feedstock is the municipal waste stream. I kind of look forward to pulling up for a gallon or two of “trashanol.”

First Purebred Bison Roam Larimer County since Civil War—The problem with a lot of existing stock of bison is that the animals have been crossbred with cattle—remember the beefalo? Thus, genetically pure hers are an important reservoir of genetic diversity for this amazing animal.

Warmer Ocean Blamed for Struggling Sea Lion Pups found at Beaches—Raise your hand if you saw this coming when you read the stories about starving sea lion pups. Yep, pretty much everyone with half a brain and an eye on the changing planetary dynamics brought about by human derived climate change.

We Lock Up Tons of Innocent People—and Charge Them for the Privilege—We have privatized a lot of penal functions, so it should come as no surprise that the prison industrial complex has tried everything within its purview to maintain revenue in the face of public opposition to a continued crisis of incarceration.

At Chipotle, How Many Calories Do People Really Eat?—Watching people dive into burritos loaded with sour cream, cheese, and guacamole almost makes me want to scream because they have no idea how many calories are in the food. Just because it is prepared in front of you from well sourced ingredients does not mean that it is necessarily a good idea to pile on the toppings.

General Mills Cutting Sugar in Yoplait Original by 25 percent—The more I read and the more I think about nutrition—Sweet Poison by David Gillespie helped as well—the more I come to the conclusion that added sugar is the primary culprit in our national waistline problem. Yogurt is a great example of this. Just look at the ingredients and see how much added sugar is in this “healthy” food.

The Unnatural: How Mark Dayton Bested Scott Walker—and Became the Most Successful Governor in the Country—Nobody ever really talks about Minnesota as a laboratory for politics on a national level. It’s viewed with the same curiosity that other nations view Nordic countries. There must be something to all that cold weather and clean living.

A Room-by-Room Guide To Ousting The (Energy) Vampires Lurking In Your Home—There is a stunning amount of energy that gets consumed by appliances just standing at the ready. Take the time to cut down on these vampire loads and the planet will thank you.

Friday Linkage 1/16/2015

The amazing thing about cancelling my pay television subscription is how much time I freed up to do some things around the house without even noticing the change. Kill your television. You will be thankful.

On to the links…

The Anti-Science Climate Denier Caucus, 114th Congress Edition—The 114th Congress has been sworn in and here is how it looks from the perspective of which members are anti-science:

Denier-Caucus3

72 Percent of Republican Senators Are Climate Deniers—The population of the U.S. as a whole may agree that climate change is real, but the people who elect Republicans obviously do not care.

Scientists Discover Two New Pollutants In Fracking Waste—We barely know what is in fracking waste, but every new discovery makes it sound worse and worse.

Cost Of Solar Already Less Than Grid Electricity In Largest US Cities—Grid parity has got to be a nightmare for coal producers, coal fired power plants, and other fossil fuel proponents.

Clean Tech Investment Surges Back in 2014—Globally, clean energy and technology investment has almost reached the high levels seen in 2011. It remains to be seen what low oil prices and global economic uncertainty do to future investment, but the trend is positive.

5 GW Wind-Solar Energy Park Planned In Gujarat, India—Here is why there is so much clean energy investment…every time you read another article it is about 100s of megawatts and even gigawatts being installed. I remember a time when kilowatts were what people were talking about in Homepower magazine.

SunEdison To Build $4 Billion Solar Manufacturing Plant in India—This is a plant that will have the capacity to annually produce up to 7.5 gigawatts of panels. Damn.

100 MW Of New Solar Power Plants Approved In Idaho—No one is going to confuse Idaho for a hippie paradise, but even the potato state is getting in on the solar bandwagon.

Ecolab to go All-Solar in Minnesota—Minnesota, a state not known for its solar resources, is really pushing forward in making solar a part of the energy future.

Florida Conservative Group Launches A Ballot Initiative To Increase Access To Solar Power—The only people who do not like solar power anymore are those with a vested and moneyed interest in seeing the status quo remain.

These Five States Took Anti-Solar Action in 2014—Oklahoma, Ohio, Kansas, New Mexico, and Arizona took actions that will hurt widespread adoption of solar technology. The surprise to me was New Mexico and Arizona given that those states are blessed with a whole lot of solar potential.

Turning Waste into Energy in Oregon: City of Gresham Wastewater Treatment Plant—Why isn’t every city with a decent size water treatment facility in line to install a system like this? It seems like there is a free energy resource just sitting under our noses.

A Caribbean Island Says Goodbye Diesel and Hello 100 Percent Renewable Electricity—I have heard that the reefs around Bonaire are amazing and now I have a second reason to visit.

Rooftop Solar In South Australia Met One Third Of State’s Daily Electricity Demand—Rooftop solar, not utility scale projects, met almost one third of South Australia’s electricity demand. That is amazing when you consider that this is a conglomeration of small scale systems tied into the grid.

Investment in Almonds is Worsening California’s Drought—The symbolic produce of California is the grape. We mythologize the grape as the source of Napa’s amazing wines and people salivate over pinot noirs. However, almonds are now almost as valuable in terms of money but the value comes at a high price. It takes almost a gallon of water to produce a single almond. California does not have that kind of water available.

Could ‘Salt Potatoes’ Create a Food Revolution?—A lot of soil has been damaged by accumulation of salts. Anything that could grow in these degraded soils and provide food could be a game changer for people living on the fringes.

Iceland Brewery makes Beer using Smoked Whale Testicles—Craft beer experimentation has officially jumped the shark…er, whale with this creation.

Friday Linkage 8/22/2014

Taking a different job within the same company is a surreal experience. I work at the same company, but due to the company’s size and building footprint it is a totally different experience in my new job. I do not want to make excuses for why I have not been posting lately, but I am too swamped to even come up with a better reason.

On to the links…

Pink Slime Is Making A Major Comeback—You knew it would happen. The furor would die down and industry would be waiting to swoop back in to offer their nasty products. This crap is nasty and we should not be feeding it to our children.

False Facts and the Conservative Distortion Machine: It’s Much More than just Fox News—There is a concerted effort, funded by big business, to muddy the waters on every important issue of the day. Books have been written, exposes aired, and no one seems to really care that one political party is making a conscious effort to use bad information in crafting policy.

Where We Came From and Where We Went, State by State—This series of interactive graphs showing how the populations of states evolved is a massively fun time waster.

Why the Scientific Case Against Fracking Keeps Getting Stronger—Is there a good story about fracking? Sure, our energy prices have remained low because of new domestic supplies, but doesn’t that just delay the inevitable price shocks that will come later?

This Is Where Your Electricity Comes From—I just love data visualization.

At Ford Headquarters, Electric Cars To Be Charged By Solar Canopy Parking Lot—The United States is covered in parking lots. Between roads and parking lots we have paved over an area the size of Georgia. Why isn’t more of this area covered in some type of solar canopy?

Power Surge in Minnesota’s Solar Industry—Minnesota, like Germany, does not strike me as a place where solar would be a big deal but the Land of 10,000 Lakes and Michele Bachmann is a surprising place sometimes. Now, will someone please explain hot dish to me?

Explosive US Solar Power Growth & Jobs—So, despite a hostile regulatory environment and Congress that cannot get out of its own way solar is kicking ass. Yep, solar is kicking ass.

Rooftop Solar May Reach Grid Parity In 25+ States By 2017—I would not want to be a power industry exec imagining what the demand destruction will look like when more than half of the states can generate clean power on their roofs for the same cost as dirty coal power. I can’t wait to listen to those investor calls.

Wind Energy Prices at an All Time Low—Wind power is cheap and it is generating almost 5% of the total electricity in the U.S. Wow!

Spain Met More than a Third of July’s Electricity Demand with Wind and Solar Power—Sure, Spain’s economy is in the toilet but the country is a renewables leader. It’s not correlated by the way.

NYC Has More Food Waste-To-Energy Tricks Up Its Sleeve—It amazes me how much energy we just throw away each year. Think about all the waste, both from our kitchens and our bodies, that just gets thrown in the trash or down the sewer drain. What if we could harness that waste to create energy? Imagine…

How To Make Marinara Sauce—This is one of those skills that every child should be taught before leaving the house. It is a lifesaver when you need to make a meal.