Showing posts with label Renewable Energy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Renewable Energy. Show all posts

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Joining Syria and Nicaragua

President Trump officially announced today that the United States would be withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accords. This agreement was signed on to by every other country in the world except Syria and Nicaragua. What great company to be in! Actually, considering who we have as president and how he is trying real hard to turn this country into a banana republic, I guess we fit right in.

Trump is a total fucking moron. Whether you "believe" in climate change or not, by pulling out of this agreement, we are essentially handing the keys to the renewable energy market over to the Chinese. We are saying to the world that we don't want to get into the business of renewable energy because our leader and his followers want to win a blog argument about global warming (hint: they already lost.)

We had 8 years of a great president moving us forward in the world. Now, we have a reality show buffoon whose only conviction is vanity moving us backwards. Worse, his followers are likely cheering this right now in one giant mouth foam at how they are sticking it to those smug liberal elites who think they know so much. Again, why is our country having to pay for their personal problems in life?

If we truly want US values in the world, we can't allow countries like China to lead on anything. This withdrawal means they get to run the table on us in countries that will be hit the hardest on climate change. China, not us, will be allowed to instill their values on these countries.

What a fucking disaster.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Hooray for...China?

China Poised to Take Lead on Climate After Trump’s Move to Undo Policies

For someone who is supposed to be a successful businessman, why can't Donald Trump see the profit to made in renewable energy? More serious are the consequences of a China dominated renewable energy market. Consider what happens when people are desperate for alternative sources of energy to mitigate the effects of climate change in their region. They will turn away from US and be forced to buy from China.

Considering China's record on human rights, I'd say that's a large problem.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Ecolab Going All Solar

Ecolab, a global company that is a seller of hygiene, energy and water technologies to businesses, is the first big Minnesota company to go all-in on solar. With this deal, Ecolab will acquire more solar output than now exists across the entire state.

“It’s groundbreaking in many ways,” Ken Johnson of the Solar Energy Industries Association, a Washington, D.C., trade group, said of the Ecolab-SunEdison deal. “When people think of solar they tend to think of places like California, Arizona, Hawaii and Florida. They don’t traditionally think of the Midwest. This is going to open up a lot of eyes.”

It's been pretty amazing to drive around Minnesota and Iowa the last few years and see the renewable energy market exploding. Wind turbines have already dominated rural areas in southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa. Now we are going to see more solar panels and deeper buy in from private concerns like Ecolab with renewable energy.

In my view, this shift in the free market will render further discussion about climate change largely moot. If corporate America decides that's where the money is, climate deniers will end up about as relevant as the cassette tape.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Going Solar!

The cover piece for this week's Christian Science Monitor is truly splendid. Africa is experiencing a quiet solar revolution and brushing off the usual criticism of developing countries not being able to do renewables.

Now, however, a new solar energy movement is bringing kilowatts to previously unlit areas of Africa – and changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. The idea behind the latest effort isn’t to tap the power of the sun to electrify every appliance in a household. Instead, it is to install a small solar panel not much bigger than an iPad to power a few lights, a cellphone charger, and other basic necessities that can still significantly alter people’s lives. 

Going smaller better fits the budgets of the rural poor. People use the money they normally would spend on kerosene to finance their solar systems, allowing them to pay in small, affordable installments and not rely on government help. The concept is called pay-as-you-go solar.

Check out the whole piece, folks. There are going to be big things happening with renewables in the next couple of years!

Friday, October 10, 2014

100% Renewable

Burlington Vermont is now running on 100% renewable energy and I think that's pretty fucking cool. It's especially wonderful when you consider that the state of Vermont is planning on becoming the first state to be 100% renewable.

I wonder how many more states will follow suit...

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Good Words (Renewable Energy Version)

Vivek Wadhwa's recent piece on solar energy really puts things in perspective. He notes one of my favorite thinkers and his astute prediction.

Futurist Ray Kurzweil notes that solar power has been doubling every two years for the past 30 years — as costs have been dropping. He says solar energy is only six doublings — or less than 14 years — away from meeting 100 percent of today’s energy needs. Energy usage will keep increasing, so this is a moving target. But, by Kurzweil’s estimates, inexpensive renewable sources will provide more energy than the world needs in less than 20 years. Even then, we will be using only one part in 10,000 of the sunlight that falls on the Earth.

In places such as Germany, Spain, Portugal, Australia and the Southwest United States, residential-scale solar production has already reached “grid parity” with average residential electricity prices. In other words, it costs no more in the long term to install solar panels than to buy electricity from utility companies. The prices of solar panels have fallen 75 percent in the past five years alone and will fall much further as the technologies to create them improve and scale of production increases. By 2020, solar energy will be price-competitive with energy generated from fossil fuels on an unsubsidized basis in most parts of the world. Within the next decade, it will cost a fraction of what fossil fuel-based alternatives do.

Yes, it will. And then all this silliness over the validity of climate change being a "hoax" won't matter. The free market will have simply taken care of all of it.

The rest of the piece contains some very interesting chestnuts. These two are my favorites.

There will be disruption of the entire fossil-fuel industry, starting with utility companies, which will face declining demand and then bankruptcy.

We will go from debating incentives for installing clean energies to debating subsidies for utility companies to keep their operations going.

Indeed. It will be a pleasure to see climate change skeptics, who rabidly defend fossil fuel producers, turn on them for taking government handouts. Or will they?

They are insanely stubborn people, after all:)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Navy Comes Through

Our government does more good things than people want to give them credit for which gets pretty frustrating for me. Here's a great example:

US Navy Cracks New Renewable Energy Technology To Turn Seawater Into Fuel, Allowing Ships To Stay At Sea Longer.

The development of a liquid hydrocarbon fuel could one day relieve the military’s dependence on oil-based fuels and is being heralded as a “game changer” because it could allow military ships to develop their own fuel and stay operational 100 percent of the time, rather than having to refuel at sea. The new fuel is initially expected to cost around $3 to $6 per gallon, according to the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, which has already flown a model aircraft on it.


Consider that this same technology will be put out to the private sector at some point as well. That would completely change the face of energy on the planet. Countries like our own have access to abundant seawater which means we would be a powerhouse. Juxtapose that with out ability to innovate and that second American century is looking crystal clear.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

The Keystone Report

The State Department has released its report on the Keystone Pipeline. There is no recommendation one or another on whether the pipeline should be built. It noted that even with some sort of governmental blockage on the line, it would accomplish very little to slow the expansion of Canada's vast oil sands. The report offered some solace to climate activists who want to stem the rise of oil sands output. It reaffirmed the idea that Canada's heavy crude reserves require more energy to produce and process - and therefore result in higher greenhouse gas emissions - than conventional oil fields.

So where does that leave us? In my view, still undecided. I don't see any convincing evidence that Keystone is going to do massive environmental harm, as activists claim. Yet I also don't see a negligible impact on the environment either. I guess I'm wondering why we are having this debate in the first place. Arguing about oil is like having a debate over the viability of the cassette tape versus Mp3s. We should be spending our time on bringing down the cost of renewable energy and making it as cheap as coal and oil. The entire debate over Keystone reminds of past arguments over the NEA (a loser for both sides who just want something stupid to club each other over the head with).

So, John Kerry is going spend the next three months consulting with government agencies when he should be doing other things like...oh, I don't actual peace deal between Israel and Palestine.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Socialist Windmills

The other day in class we were talking about the chemical spill in West Virginia by Freedom Industries (ironic name, no?) and that discussion led into the topic of renewable energy. I mentioned the windmills we see when we drive down to Iowa to visit my in-laws. That was right around the time a student name Billy chimed in. A little background first...

Billy clearly has very conservative parents who feed him a lot of disinformation. When we do current events, he always makes some sort of anti-Obama comment followed by right wing blogsphere nonsense. The rest of the class usually rolls their eyes (even the Republicans) and, invariably, a debate ensues. Billy is a good kid, though, and is a ton of fun.

When the subject of wind power came up, he asked, "You mean those socialist windmills?"

"What makes you think they are socialist?" I wondered.

"Because Democrats support them so that means they are socialist."

After a brief explanation of the differences between the Democratic Party and socialism, as well as assurances from me that wind power in Iowa is privately owned, Billy seemed to understand the nuance.

I have to wonder how much longer we are going to have to clean out plaque from these poor people...

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Future of Renewable Energy

It's going to be interesting to see what happens in Boulder over the next few years. Something else that struck me about this video. Isn't the action of these residents, in no small way, a rally against big government? They are assuming local control of their power and shunning the government sponsored monopoly. Perhaps this is a way we could find some common ground in the renewable energy debate.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Which Car is Outselling The Rest?

That would be the Tesla.

In the first half of 2013, Tesla captured 0.6 percent of the total light-duty vehicle market in the state—more than Buick, Fiat, Land Rover, Lincoln, or Mitsubishi. And looking only at June, the latest month for which figures are available, Tesla also topped Cadillac, Chrysler, and Porsche. That’s especially impressive when you consider that those brands are selling multiple different cars, whereas the Model S is the only Tesla vehicle in production.

I was told there was no market for this sort of vehicle. Huh.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

An Environmental Case for Factory Farms

Environmentalists generally hate giant factory farms. These massive livestock operations cause all kinds of environmental and health problems. Gigantic chicken, hog and dairy farms are notorious for catastrophic manure spills that kill millions of fish, pollute water with high levels of nitrates that cause spontaneous abortions, cause Salmonella, E. Coli, and cryptosporidium contamination, emit hydrogen sulfide that can cause brain damage in those exposed and even kill them, contribute to the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico that degrades fishing and shrimping, and so on.

But there are large dairy operations that environmentalists could grow to love. The New York Times has an article about one of the largest dairy farms in the country. Fair Oaks Farms, which has 30,000 dairy cows, uses the methane from cow manure to generate the electricity that powers their entire operation, as well as fueling the tractor-trailers that take the milk to processors in three states. That saves two million gallons of diesel fuel alone per year.

Minnesota Public Radio has a story about the Crave Brothers cheese farm, which uses an anaerobic digester to process manure and waste whey to create methane that's burned to generate all the electricity for the farm's operations, as well as 300 additional households. The remaining waste is used as fertilizer and bedding for the cows.

In these operations potentially toxic manure is neutralized and turned into fuel and fertilizer in a sustainable and carbon-neutral fashion. Instead of taking methane and crude oil from deep within the earth that will be burned once, constantly increasing the amount of dioxide in the atmosphere and contributing to global warming, these farms use the natural carbon cycle to power their operations. Sunlight makes their crops grow, which takes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere; the cows eat the crops and produce manure; methane is extracted from the manure; the methane is burned and put back into the air as carbon dioxide; and the cycle is complete. The farms' operations can be carbon neutral.

There's a certain minimum size required for such an operation, from both an economic and efficiency standpoint. The larger the operation, the more steps in production you can colocate on the farm (growing feed, producing milk and meat, and more industrial process like cheese making or slaughtering), the more efficient the carbon cycle will be. This form of electrical cogeneration is a perfect way for factory farms to redeem themselves and become heroes of the environmental movement instead of the archvillains.

However, factory farms are guilty of other sins: they use antibiotics simply to increase weight gain, and they confine animals in inhumane, crowded and dirty conditions, rather than allowing them to wander aimlessly through idyllic grassy fields. There's no excuse for indiscriminate antibiotic use: the practice is quickly creating superbugs that are immune to our entire arsenal of antibiotics. Instead, farms should keep animal pens clean, which has been shown to be just as effective in increasing weight in poultry and is essential to proper dairy operations in any case.

The problem with aimless wandering is that manure will be dropped over large areas, making it less efficient to collect it for methane generation. The animals are part of a giant food- and electricity-generating machine, sort of like the people in The Matrix.

We should avoid unnecessary cruelty to animals, and maybe we can find a way to efficiently generate electricity from free-range cows. But if we can't, and the choice is between confined cows and a 10-foot rise in sea level in the next 40 years, the choice should be obvious. If environmentalists want to stop indiscriminate fracking, expanded use of coal and nuclear, they have to be open to all forms of carbon-neutral energy generation.

Even if it makes Bessie sad.