Outrun Change

We need to learn quickly to keep up with the massive change around us so we don't get run over. We need to outrun change.

Archive for the tag “energy cost”

Poor economics for batteries at the industrial scale and to power a home

Industrial backup power system consisting of many batteries. Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Someday some wizard will develop a chemistry breakthrough that will do for storage of electricity what horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing has done for oil and gas production.

In the meantime, the cost for battery storage of electricity is staggering.

5/22/17 – Wall Street Journal – The Race to Build a Better Big Battery – The unreliable intermittent nature of solar power is a massive problem blocking the way of solar being a viable substitute for fossil fuels.

Major efforts are underway to figure out some way to store electricity on an industrial scale.

One cited experiment is being run by Greet Mountain Power. They have a 7,722 panel solar plant which has a theoretical capacity of providing the power to 2,000 homes when the weather conditions are right.

Read more…

Update on environmental damage from wind power

WInd farms will soon get 30 year long permits to take out those birds. Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub prior to their merger into Adobe Stock.

WInd farms will soon get 30 year long permits to take out those birds. Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub prior to their merger into Adobe Stock.

Just a few of the recent articles providing updates on slice-and-dicers damage in general and status of North Dakota wind farms plants in particular.

  • Wyoming project may get specific permission to kill eagles
  • All wind farms plants get broad permission to kill eagles for 30 years
  • Massive subsidies for wind power, which is intermittent and unreliable, meaning it is often unavailable when needed
  • Updates on two N.D. turbine farms

12/8/16 – Denver Post – Wyoming wind project may get permit to kill eagles – The Chokecherry-Sierra Madre wind farm plant, which will start with 500 slice-and-dicers and may expand to 1,000 bird-choppers, could get two critical permits by next month (January).

The first permit will allow destroying eagle nests that are currently unoccupied. I’m guessing that will chase away eagles from the kill zone.

The second permit will allow the facility to kill 14 golden eagles a year for five years. They can also off 2 bald eagles a year for five years.

The slicer farm plant will have to do mitigation for the golden eagles they expect to kill, but not the bald eagles.

Read more…

Massive experiment to store electricity will add massive cost to consumers

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The Gordon Butte Pumped Storage Hydro Project in Montana is moving forward, having previously received an assessment of no significant impact on the environment from FERC and having just received a 50 year license to operate the facility.

Looks to me like the project will substantially increase the cost of electricity.

Stored water concept

The concept is that electricity generated by wind farms plants or solar farms plants when there is no need for the electricity can be sent to the Gordon Butte facility. The otherwise unusable electricity will be used to pump water from a reservoir uphill to a reservoir at a higher elevation. That “stores” the potential energy.

Later, when consumers want more electricity than the slice-and-dicers and wing-toasters can produce, water will be drained from the upper reservoir to the lower reservoir through turbines thus generating electricity from the stored water.

Read more…

Updates on renewable energy

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub before it merged into Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub before it merged into Adobe Stock.

A few of many articles of interest for unreliable energy.

  • Very large solar farm completed in snowy Minnesota
  • Fighting over taxes on wind power

10/21 – AP at Reuters – Construction wraps up on largest solar facility in Midwest and 1/21/16 – Star Tribune – Largest Minnesota solar array wins approval from utility regulators and Community Energy Solar – North Star Solar

The North Star Solar facility in Minnesota has over 440,000 solar panels with theoretical capacity of 100 MW. Reported cost is $180M.

Read more…

2013 construction costs for different energy sources

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Construction of the above is four times as expensive as natural gas, but at least this won’t incinerate birds. Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Million Dollar Way pointed me to EIA data for 2013 on the costs for construction and amount of new capacity for wind, solar, natural gas, hydro and biomass. As expected, the non-reliables have extremely high construction costs.

The data can be found here

Since the graph is public information, I will post it below:

Source: Energy Information Administration

Source: Energy Information Administration

Read more…

Estimates of construction costs for new energy projects

Photo of multi fuel power plant courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Photo of multi fuel power plant courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Bruce Oksol at The Million Dollar Way provides an updated scorecard on what he is seeing as the cost to construct a variety of electricity generating plants.

From Enquiring Minds Want to Know – January 30, 2016: Read more…

Data points for building solar farms at airports

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Have mentioned some of this before, but will post again to keep track of it.

12/3 – The Million Dollar Way – Minneapolis Airport Solar Project Twice The Quoted Rate for Solar Energy Projects at $7 Million / MW; No Problem – Increased Landing Fees – No One Will Notice

Two Minnie solar projects on top of parking garages at the airport.

Read more…

Official estimates of capital costs for electricity sources

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

I’ve been tracking the actual costs of various electricity projects as I come across them in my reading. Came across a superb source for future reference.

The Energy Information Administration calculates the costs to build a wide variety of generating plants. The 2014 data is here: Table 8.2 Cost and performance characteristics of new central station electricity generating technologies

I’m probably in over my head with this table, but here is what I’ve learned. The total overnight cost is the estimated amount if the project were to be built instantly. I think that represents what most people would consider to be the cost of construction.

Read more…

Cost to construct energy facilities

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

I am trying to collect reference points for the cost to construct different types of facilities. Here are a few data points I’ve noticed lately and some data points I’ve mentioned before.

Remember to discount all the construction costs below by the 15% to 30% capacity rate. That means backup natural gas or coal plants are needed for the 70% or 85% of the minutes each day the facilities aren’t producing.

Offshore oil

I haven’t paid attention to offshore drilling so I’m not familiar with production levels or costs. Here is one data point I just saw:

11/25/15 – Wall Street Journal – Italy’s Eni Plans to Pump Arctic Oil, After Others Abandon the Field – An Italian oil company, Eni SpA, will continue its work 300 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Their Goliat platform will start pumping in 2015.

Goal is to produce 100,000 bopd. Cost is estimated at $6 billion. Field is expected to be productive for 15 years.

For context, you could probably drill 1,000 wells in North Dakota for $6B.


3/17/15 – Million Dollar Way – Here we go again – solar project in the dead of winter in a northern latitude state. – Standing Rock Reservation will construct 636kW solar project for $2M, of which $1M will be from federal government. Read more…

Coal powered electric vehicles

Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Energy source for electric vehicles in Netherlands, China, and many places in the U.S.  Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com. Um, by the way, that’s a coal plant.

In addition to having distance capacity which may or may not be sufficient to get you where you want to go in a day, electric vehicles (EVs) are frequently powered by coal, can drain the grid during the day, and eventually they may force replacement of every neighborhood transformer in the grid.

11/23 – The Washington Post – Electric cars and the coal that runs them – Electric vehicles require huge amounts of electricity. Article says one charge takes as much electricity as a refrigerator uses in a month and a half. That electricity has to come from somewhere, even more so when a country has dramatically increased the amount of EVs on the road.

In Netherlands electricity to charge EVs comes from coal. Yes, coal.

To handle the huge increase in electricity demand because of EVs, the country has built three brand-new coal-fired power plants, of which two are at the Rotterdam Harbor.

Read more…

Wind farm owner settles criminal charges for killing 38 golden eagles and 298 other protected birds over 6 years

There was another settlement last week for a wind farm owner killing a bunch of birds.

The slaughter of eagles and other protected birds is the reason wind turbines have the well-earned title of slice-and-dicer. One pundit calls them Cuisinarts.

The Associated Press reports: Wind farm operator PacifiCorp Energy pleads guilty in bird deaths at wind farms in Wyoming.

The Seven Mile Hill and Glenrock/Rolling Hills projects in Wyoming are owned and run by PacifiCorp Energy. The owner has entered a guilty plea to two counts of breaking the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Officials have counted the dead birds at those two facilities since 2009. How high is the count of shredded birds? The article says:

  • 38 golden eagles
  • 336 other protected birds

I think that count is incorrect. According to the criminal information complaint filed in the case, which is available in the federal PACER system, the total bird count at the two facilities is 336, which includes the 38 golden eagles. The two counts consist of one count for each facility.

Read more…

Update on wind and solar plants in California and North Dakota – solar #34

A few updates on a few slice/dice/fry projects, as one observer calls them:


11/4 – ReWire – “Dead” Solar Plant May Rise From Grave – The joint owners of the Palen Solar Electric Generating System pulled their plan recently. One of the owners (Abengoa Solar) will buy out the other (Brightstar), revise the design, and resubmit their plan. That is the announced goal. The wing-toasting facility will be redesigned with one tower and the ability to store electricity using molten salt.

This would be Palen plan #3. The first was parabolic solar. The second was 3 warming towers. This will be only one solar collecting tower plus storage capacity.

10/30 – ReWire – Wind Project Pulled from San Bernardino MountainsRead more…

More data points on building power plants using natural gas and solar

It is far more expensive to build solar or wind plants than natural gas. A few more data points:

8/25 – Million Dollar Way – Power Plant Costs – For the Archives – August 25, 2014; Cost of Renewable Energy – Staggering – Bruce Oksol accumulates some costs for building different kinds of power facilities:

Read more…

Wood-burners – The high cost of using 1860s and 1930s technology for heating, illumination, and cooking

The cutting edge of renewable energy is chopping down trees, chipping them, loading the chips onto a truck, transporting to a brand new plant, and burning them.

Yes, burning trees to read your paper at night, illuminate your office during the day, and (for some) cooking dinner. The new technology is called biomass.

That’s the same power source used by Abraham Lincoln when he was going to school. His family used wood for cooking, heating, and illumination.

In fact, as recently as when my dad was growing up on a farm, the family used wood for cooking and heating. Thanks to John Rockefeller, they were able to use kerosene for illumination. They would buy coal to keep the house warm overnight. Wood was the sole cooking source and primary heating source.

Public Service of New Hampshire has a new wood-burner fully online. I calculate it will cost New Hampshire residents an extra 1 or 2  cents a kilowatt-hour.

For the next 20 years.

New wood-burner plant at full capacity

Read more…

What’s it cost to run an oil well for a year?

I’ve been wondering about that. Million Dollar Way quotes some comments from a Google Discussion Group that gives some info: Monthly Costs For Maintaining An Active Well…

Most companies estimate production costs at $6,000 to $8,000 per month per well…or $70,000 to $100,000 per year.

Keep in mind that a majority of wells require a week or more of maintenance each year with a workover rig with support equipment and crew at $10,000 plus per day.

You also have significant power costs in addition to general lease operations. A 6-8 well pad could easily require $750,000 to $1 million per year to keep everything in top condition to maximize production without any major operational downhole problems.

Since I’m an accountant, I’ll convert that background into a specific calculation adding in a few of my assumptions. Read more…

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