Tag Archives: wind power

Friday Linkage 7/19/2019

July has really come out swinging with hot weather.  It came in hot and dry and now we get hot and humid.  In reality, I do not know which one I prefer or, rather, hate less.

There is something pernicious about hot and dry weather in a place accustomed to a certain level of moisture.  Here in eastern Iowa plants began to go dormant and things get all crinkly as it dries out.  This is not western Colorado where the plants are adapted to this kind of weather.  It was somewhat of a relief when some drenching rains happened over the past few days and the green returned.

On to the links…

Are We Having Too Much Fun?—I remember a discussion I had with an Iranian ex-patriate who was studying at the University of Minnesota when I was an undergraduate at the Minneapolis campus.  He said that his biggest problem with American society was that we trivialized everything until, at seemingly random intervals, something began to matter.  It did not make sense to him.  It does not make sense to me when put that way.

The Life-Changing Magic of Making Do—Barring some major external event—depression, war, etc.—I doubt that we will ever embrace a relationship with our stuff that is fundamentally different versus today’s paradigm.  However, it is something to strive for on an individual level and hope for the best.

America’s Addiction to Absurdly Fast Shipping has a Hidden Cost—Our addiction to stuff is just a problem.  Why do we feel the need to buy so much stuff?  When did shopping become an activity in and of itself?

Workers with Short or ‘Active’ Commutes are Happier Campers—From the land of “obvious conclusions from studies that did not need to be conducted” comes this gem.  Spend a week in a long commute and you will understand why shorter commutes make for happier people.

US Energy-Related CO2 Emissions Expected to Fall this Year, Almost Solely Due to a Drop in Coal Use—So, how do we drive coal to zero?  More solar.  More wind.  More energy efficiency.  It is not a complicated blueprint.

Fiscal Collapse of Coal Towns Increasingly Likely, New Research Shows—States like Wyoming, which is reliant on coal dollars, are going to have to deal with the reckoning of coal’s collapse sooner rather than later.  These declines usually happen in a stair step, as opposed to linear pattern, as major suppliers are driven out of business and no one steps in to resume operation.

The Game-Changing Spark Iowa’s Solar Industry Needs Could be in Louisa County—We have a lot of wind power built out in Iowa and more is on the way.  Solar could be the next big buildout that pushes Iowa to a nearly carbon free electricity grid.

Minnesota Utilities Weigh Energy Storage as Substitute for Peaker Plants—We are now reaching a point when renewable energy storage, through a variety of mechanisms, is considered a viable alternative to conventional natural gas “peaker” plants.

Fossil Fuels Increasingly Offer a Poor Return on Energy Investment—The economics are turning against fossil fuels.

Former Rick Perry Staffer Raises Six-Figures for Trump’s Reelection Campaign—Donald Trump’s presidency is the best thing that money can buy for the energy industry.

Government Watchdog Fears EPA’s New Climate Scientists Are Not Vetted And Have Conflicts of Interest—I will save everyone the effort: anyone who goes to work in the Trump administration is likely to have not been vetted, probably lacks credible experience, and is riven with conflicts of interest.

Scotland Generated Enough Wind Energy to Power its Homes Twice—There was a time when pundits said that renewable energy could never power more than 5% of the grid.  Then it became 10% and has been revised upward ever since.  Now places like Scotland are generating more power from renewables than needed.

Can Mass Timber Reform Construction’s Carbon Footprint?—Combined with a program of extensive reforestation I believe that mass timber can be the construction method of the future carbon neutral world.

This Colorado Ranch-Made-Lab is Turning Beetle-Kill Trees into Lumber in the Name of Forest Health—Trinchera Blanca Ranch is a living, breathing example of how regenerative ecology can work.

Jump Aboard the eDumper, the World’s Largest Electric Vehicle—Most of us think of Tesla Model 3s or Nissan Leafs when we think of EVs, but maybe we should think of something like the eDumper?

The Humble Pea is America’s Favorite New Crop—One of the upsides to products like the Impossible Burger is that there is a growing demand in the marketplace for peas, which can supplant commodity crops like corn and soybeans.

Clothing You Don’t Have to Wash, Explained—Is this really a good idea?

San Francisco: Wealthy Opponents of New Shelter Claim Homeless are Bad for Environment—We have really reached peak California with this NIMBYism.  At what point do we just call out California for the hypocrisy that permeates everything?

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Friday Linkage 3/29/2019

Spring is here.  Sure, Iowa may see a few more nights below freezing but for the most part it is on to planting and cleaning.  So much cleaning.  If only there was a way to KonMarie my yard work.

On to the links…

2 Years after Tax Bill’s Passage, Corporate Tax Revenue has Plummeted—Cue Republicans to tell us how we cannot afford Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the defense budget…oh wait, not the defense budget…because the deficits are a threat to our national security.

Recording Reveals Oil Executives Laughing About “Unprecedented Access” to Trump—It’s a pay for play day in the White House every day.

BP Lobbied Trump Administration to Roll Back Key US Climate Rules—Nothing like a foreign company getting cozy with our corrupt president to influence policy in favor of profits over protecting American citizens.  The Republican way…profits over people.

US Banks Pledged to Fund Renewable Energy, But They Still Spend Way More on Fossil Fuels—Banks are nothing more than the financial arm of the same many tentacled beast that also concerns fossil fuels.  It is one system that protects itself at all costs.

US Coal Generation Expected To Continue Steady Decline, Claims EIA—Trump cannot save coal.  He can bluster and bully all he wants but the economics and politics do not line up in such a way to make this a winnable fight.  Now, he will probably double down on claims that he is the most pro-coal president in history in a lame attempt to shore up support in rural areas.

It’s Cheaper to Replace Most Coal Plants with Renewables than Keep Them Open—This is why coal is in so much trouble.  For less money you can generate electricity that has none of coal’s baggage.  It’s like a death cross in finance.

Forget Tesla, It’s China’s E-Buses That Are Denting Oil Demand—China is all in on electric busses.  Personal EVs may get a lot of the press around the world but the humble electric bus may actually hold more of the secret to our climate salvation.  This is the critical point:

Buses matter more because of their size and constant use. For every 1,000 electric buses on the road, 500 barrels of diesel are displaced each day, BloombergNEF estimates. By comparison, 1,000 battery electric vehicles remove just 15 barrels of oil demand.

Missouri Greenlights Massive New Wind Power Transmission Project—To get wind energy from windy rural America to urban America we need more transmission lines.  It tells you everything that you need to know when red states will fight electricity transmission lines but go gangbusters for oil and gas pipelines.

Scientists Found Worrisome New Evidence About Roundup and Cancer—Remember, this is the pesticide that is sprayed indiscriminately on Roundup Ready crops like corn and soybeans.  If you live in a corn or soybean producing state you have been exposed.

Climate Change Is Already Reshaping How We Farm—Rural areas are on the front lines of climate change because so many of these areas depend on agriculture.  Farmers are already having to adapt to climate change whether politicians in Washington D.C. want to admit it or not.

Impossible Burger 2.0 Produces 89% Less Emissions than Beef—I have had the Impossible Burger 1.0 and it is a pretty damn good facsimile of an actual beef patty.  The 2.0 version is supposed to be an even closer facsimile.  Now imagine a world where we replace all meat hamburgers with Impossible Burgers.  What would that look like from an emissions reduction perspective?

5/4/2018 Friday Linkage

May the Fourth…you get it right?  Somewhere along the line May 4th became a Star Wars related day as if we lacked for moments when Star Wars did not saturate our cultural landscape.  Seriously, between Disney princesses, Marvel superheroes, and Star Wars the Walt Disney corporation probably controls a plurality of our cultural touchstones for anyone under the age of fifteen or over the age of forty.

On to the links…

Two Top Officials Close to Pruitt Resign in EPA ‘Exodus’—The level of corruption and stink coming from Scott Pruitt’s office is so high that I could post several entries a week just about the comings and goings of America’s top pollution enabler.  Instead, I will just lead with more evidence of the chaos of the Trump administration.

Pruitt is Facing at Least 10 Ethics Investigations as EPA Watchdog Announces New Probe—Will there ever be a more ethically compromised presidency?  People thought that it would be hard to top the likes of Warren G. Harding, but Trump’s people are really giving it a go.

The EPA Is Acting Like Big Tobacco—This is what you get when you put someone in charge of an agency that they had spent a career trying to damage.  It’s like Rick Perry in charge of the Department of Energy or Mick Mulvaney in charge of anything.

EPA Chief Pruitt Overrules Staff, Gives Wisconsin’s Walker, Foxconn Big Break on Smog—I have to imagine that this is heading for court.  The deal for the Foxconn plant is just turning out to be one of the biggest corporate giveaways and inside deals ever.  Nothing says Republican governance quite like giving away the store in return for the promise of a few crumbs.

Proof that the Clean Power Plan’s Strategy for Cutting Carbon Pollution is the Industry Standard—The Clean Power Plan is probably dead, but that does not mean the Clean Power Plan cannot live again.  It is a market based approach that lets individual states decide how best to meet targets.  It is essentially an old school Republican ideal that has somehow become a bugaboo for today’s Tea Party right wing whackos.

It’s Time to Think Seriously about Cutting off the Supply of Fossil Fuels—If we can come at this problem from both the demand and the supply side progress will be much quicker.

A Zero-Carbon Economy is Within Reach, Thanks to Strong Public Policy—It will not necessarily be easy or cheap, but it is possible and that is they key.  We have the solutions, we know how to deploy them, and there is a general acceptance of the urgency.

California Sets New Solar & Renewable Records At End Of April—The amount of energy generated is one thing, but the more critical part of this story is that the power authority is getting better at regulating the supply of renewables and the demands from consumers.  This disparity has always been the great bugaboo when it comes to renewable energy.

A Renewable Energy Future In Hawaii, Faster Than We Thought—The time has come for Hawaii to embrace renewables even more so than in the past because the cost of doing so is now cheaper than the cost of doing nothing further.   Imagine 84% renewable energy in 2030?  Talk about living aloha!

The Stunningly Lopsided Growth of Wind Power in the US, in 4 Maps—Is anyone surprised that the southeast has very little wind power?  Sure, the wind resources—excluding offshore wind—are not ideal but I have a feeling something else is going on.

Brooklyn SolarWorks can Turn Almost any Rooftop into a Sun-Powered Oasis—I like the idea of putting these over rooftop patios so that hipsters can have a shade generating solar canopy.  However, imagine this type of system being placed on the top floor of every parking garage in the United States.  Just in my mid-sized town there are acres of top floors of parking garages that could be generating amazing solar photovoltaic electricity.

Building on the Promise of Solar+EV Charging—The technology is not quite there yet, but as we deploy more and more solar along with more and more EVs there is an opportunity to combine the two into a powerhouse solution to intermittency.  An EV is really just a portable battery that sits idle a lot of the time.  Plugging that into a grid that can decide when to charge based on power availability and demand would be huge.  Yuge!

Costco Sold a Million “Bleeding” Vegan Burgers in 60 Days—I knew about the Impossible burger and the Beyond burger, but I have never heard of Don Lee Farms or their version of a “bleeding vegan” plant based burger.  Too bad it does not look like something that will be in a Costco near me.

Budweiser’s New Beer is Based on George Washington’s Hand-Written Recipe—Why did they not just call it ‘Merica and put this picture on the label:

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Friday Linkage 2/16/2018

There are no words.  There are no prayers.  Nothing matters except action.  The United States is the only developed country that accepts routine mass gun violence.  Every other developed country in the world has acted in some way to address this problem, but the United States has failed to act because a large percentage of its politicians are in the pocket of an industrial gun lobby that masquerades as a defender of constitutional liberties.

On to the links…

The Outdoor Recreation Industry Generated $374 Billion in 2016. It’s Ready to Wield that Influence in Washington and on Wall Street.—The debate over public lands and the giveaways by the Trump administration should highlight the power and clout that outdoor recreation can wield.  Politicians need to realize that when the fossil fuel industry comes knocking its interests are in direct opposition to a large outdoor recreation industry that can generate economic activity without the environmental degradation.

Survey Says: The American Public is Souring on Coal—No one wants these plants in their communities,  no one wants to deal with the waste in their environment, and no one wants to hear Trump talk about beautiful, clean coal.

MidAmerican Energy Completes Two New Wind Farms in Iowa—The amazing thing is that there is a lot more wind power in the plan for the state and older turbines are being replaced with newer, more powerful turbines generating more clean power from the wind.

2018 Solar Power Rocks Report Grades Every State On Solar Friendliness—How does your state compare:

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Major Utility Fails to get West Virginia Customers to Bail out its Aging Coal Plant—Right wing coal barons love the free market except when it is crushing their pet fuel.  The plan here was just ridiculous.  FirstEnergy wanted to take a non-competitive coal plant supplying a deregulated energy market and transfer it to a regulated markets thus burdening the regulated market with a costly energy source that no one wanted.

Mix of Solar and Batteries Is Beating Natural Gas—This is where the future begins.  Having the ability to store and dispatch renewable energy allows for the leveling of demand across the day to match production which moderates the variability of renewable production.

Australia’s Solar Energy Capacity Could Almost Double in One Year—These are monster numbers.  Imagine if the western United States deployed solar at these kind of rates?

Total Wind Capacity Surges While Total Number Of Turbines May Soon Plummet: Indulging In 4 Decades Of Danish Wind Energy Data—This is a treasure trove of data.  The opportunity to replace existing sited turbines with infrastructure in place with more powerful turbines represents a mind boggling opportunity to deploy more power in a quick manner.

Where Does The IOC’s Money Go?—Let me give you a hint: the billions do not go to the local communities or the cities or the athletes.  The money goes into the pockets of the IOC which is a corrupt cabal extorting money from countries with the promise of global goodwill.  Remember this as your city might consider bidding for the games.

Friday Linkage 11/17/2017

It somehow ended up being more than halfway through November before I even realized that the time had passed.  Maybe I was spending too much time looking at opening dates for ski hills and poring over the long range snow forecasts.

On to the links…

100% Global Renewable Electricity No Longer Flight Of Fancy, More Cost-Effective Than Current System—The economics have turned.  Now all that remains to construct an energy system for the future is to amass the political will.  Obviously that is something that is easier said than done.

Richest 1% Now Owns Half the World’s Wealth—Well, that is depressing.  If you want to understand why politicians could care less about your desires as a voter or those of your community it is encapsulated in this statistic.  You do not grease the wheels of power because you do not have nearly the money that the 1% possesses.

One of the World’s Largest Mining Companies is Ditching Coal—These mines will probably be sold and will probably still be operational for a time.  The key fact to remember is that a giant, international company has decided that coal mines have no future and may become stranded assets sometime in the near future.

Subsidizing Coal, Nuclear Could Drive Customers Off-Grid—From the pages of the book of unintended consequences comes this little gem.  By making grid power more expensive in order to subsidize dying power regimes the genius of Rick Perry’s Department of Energy could hasten the death spiral of the centralized grid.

New Study Shows What Would Happen If the US Went Vegan—It’s just a model, but it is interesting to see what the ramifications would be of such a conversion.  I tend to think the more sustainable model would be a pseudo-vegetarian model with a focus on improved rangeland management, elimination of high fructose corn syrup production, and an emphasis on reduced food waste.

MidAmerican will Spend $1 billion ‘Repowering’ Oldest Wind Turbines—This seems like an amazing opportunity to take wind turbines that are already sited and have the infrastructure in place in an effort to get more power generated.  How many fifteen to twenty year old wind farms are out there that could use a “repowering?”

Tesla Powers Up Nantucket With Grid Storage Installation—Tesla may be a Ponzi scheme masquerading as a next-generation solutions type of company but damn if these guys aren’t out there pushing boundaries.  These are not PowerPoint presentations.  These are on the ground solutions that are operational.

California may Use 50 Percent Renewable Electricity by 2020, a Decade Ahead of Schedule—I am really amazed by this development.

4 Ways Cities can Become Climate Heroes—Cities and other municipalities can become the agents of change in the era when leadership at the state and federal level is in the hands of climate deniers more inclined to line the pockets of coal barons and oil companies than worry about the health and safety of millions of people.

Denver Votes to Require Environment-Friendly ‘Green’ Roofs—Amidst all of the election analysis there was no coverage of this little gem unless you were reading the Denver Post or other regional newspapers.  Now, “green roof” can mean plants but it can also mean solar energy.  Given 300 days of sunshine per year why isn’t every roof on the Front Range a green roof?

One Bitcoin Transaction Takes More Energy than a Household uses in a Week—We tend to think of virtual anything as “free.”  However, all of those cat videos, Jerry of the Day posts, and Bitcoins add up to some serious computer time that uses a lot of electricity.

Millennials Lose Taste for Dining Out, Get Blamed for Puzzling Restaurant Trend—We can blame millennials for a lot of things.  Especially avocado toast and everything else they feel compelled to put avocados on.  Avocados are not that great, so stop putting that vegetable snot in my sushi.  However, can we lay the blame for this trend on crap chain restaurants.  Does anyone really need to go to the Olive Garden or Chili’s?

Vail postpones Opening Day due to lack of snow—Well, fuck.  Even the 1% who frequent this mountain are going to be impacted by climate change.  It’s not too late to join Protect Our Winters kids.

Behold the Wonders of Rep. Louie Gohmert’s Conspiracy Chart—Louie Gohmert is one of the biggest no talent ass clowns in the history of American politics.  This is peak Louie Gohmert:

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Did he just sit back listening to Alex Jones on an endless loop and create a flowchart based on that stream of consciousness verbal vomit?  This is what passes for representation in America in 2017.

Friday Linkage 4/28/2017

Did you see the details of Donald Trump’s tax “reform” plan?  Okay, details were sparse because it read like an objectivist’s children’s book on tax reform.  Taxes…bad!  Corporations…good!  If you want to know how this story plays out look at Kansas.  Maybe that is not the comparison that Trump and the Hucksters would like you to make, but it is the most apt corollary.

On to the links…

Is Wind Power Saving Rural Iowa or Wrecking It?—Most people I know who live in rural Iowa are wind power proponents.  Lease payments have allowed people to continue to maintain farms in lean years when crop prices fall.  However, there are those who consider the turbines a blight.  I think that the important question to ask is what these communities would look like without wind power.  There was nothing else that was going to fill the economic void.

Windblown: MidAmerican Zeroes in on 100% Renewable Energy—Iowa, as a whole, may get nearly 37% of its electricity from the wind but utility MidAmerican, owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, is closing in on getting 100% of its juice from the wind.  That seems like something worth celebrating.

Going Green Shouldn’t be this Hard—No one is saying we need to whole hog embrace a hair shirt lifestyle cold turkey.  Incremental improvement across a broad swath of areas is the key to lasting and meaningful change.

How Republicans Came to Embrace Anti-Environmentalism—I think it all comes down to cash.  People like the Kochs, flush with fossil fuel cash, were willing to lavish it on politicians who defended their oily interests.

Outdoor Recreation Industry, Seeing Role to Protect Public Lands, Boasts $887 Billion Impact—There is a downside to exploiting public lands for mineral gain.  The opportunity cost is a loss of sustainable recreation dollars.

Can We Fight Climate Change with Trees and Grass?—We are going to need all the tools we can get in the coming decades.

New Orleans — “Biking Boomtown” — Doubled Rate Of Bicycle Commuters In 10 Years—New Orleans does not leap to the front of mind when thinking about bicycling hot spots.  However, mild winters and a flat topography do make for a favorable location.  Why can’t more communities put some effort into bicycling as transportation like New Orleans?

Dodging Rubble is One Thing — in Mosul, Cyclists Contend with Mortars and Gunfire Too—If you complain about the problems on your commute just think about living in Mosul, Iraq.  First world problems, man.

Milkweed by the Masses: Nebraska Eyes New Habitat Goal for Monarchs, Other Pollinators—Iowa has seen great success with introducing pollinator friendly milkweed patches and it now looks like Nebraska, normally a fairly reactionary environmental state, is getting in on the action.

Does Saturated Fat Clog Your Arteries? Controversial Paper Says ‘No’—No one is saying binge on bacon, but maybe we can finally retire the old Ancel Keys’ wisdom about fats being the root cause of our dietary ills.

Friday Linkage 7/17/2015

Where do the days go during the summer? Maybe it’s the lament of the modern age, but time does seem to just fly by.

On to the links…

We Broke a Whole Lotta’ Climate Records in 2014—For the record, it is not a good thing to be breaking these climate records. The world is getting hotter. The oceans can no longer absorb the excess heat. Weather is local and climate is global despite what clowns like James Inhofe say. Something is broken and we need to fix it. Fast.

How To Talk To A 5-Year-Old About Climate Change—What do you say, really? I am sorry that previous generations were selfish fools who stupidly left you with a big god damned mess to clean up?

Price of Solar Hits Record Low Again!—I keep looking at getting a solar panel installation on my roof and every time that I come back to the idea it seems like solar has hit a new price record.

Can Installation Innovations Keep Cutting Solar Soft Costs?—While panels have gotten a lot cheaper in recent years, the soft costs of a solar system have been a lot stickier. It just costs a lot of money to put people on your roof installing panels.

Gas Surges Ahead of Coal in US Power Generation—Nobody wants to be associated with coal anymore. The companies that mine coal are losing value like crazy. Power companies want to transition away from the dirty fuel. Customers do not want to pay for an energy source that is killing the planet. Can we finally start playing taps over the body of coal?

Wind Power Generates 140% Of Denmark’s Power Demand—Sometimes these numbers are a result of locally favorable conditions and not a product of long term trends. I still love seeing a country generate so much green power that it almost has to give it away to neighbors.

23% Of New Cars In Norway Now Electric Cars—I know Norway subsidizes the hell out of EVs, but I am impressed by the adoption rate.

Solar Provided 2.4% Of Australia’s Power Generation In 2014—2.4% might not seem like a big number, but it is huge for solar.

Australian Government Curbs Investments in Wind and Solar Energy—About the time you think Australia is on the right path deploying renewables and protecting the environment the government goes all retro on you.

‘Before and After’ Satellite Imagery Shows how Earth’s Prominent Features Change—I could spend hours looking at similar photo sets with sliders showing change over time. We live in the Anthropocene for sure.

Rotterdam may Pave its Roads in Recycled Plastic—Maybe there is finally a use for all of those single use plastic water bottles that seem to multiply when the weather gets hot.

SeaWorld Accused of Sending Employee to Infiltrate Animal Rights Protests—Really SeaWorld? Really?