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 “solar power”

The energy revolution driven by fracking isn’t over – 2 of 2

Training rig. Photo by James Ulvog.

Training rig. Photo by James Ulvog.

Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have turned the energy world upside down. The massive transition isn’t over. A few articles on the massive benefits of fracking. Part 1 of this discussion here.

2/14 – Matt Ridley, Rational Optimist – Low Oil Prices Are a Good Thing / The shale revolution has changed the world  – Article explains that low oil prices are an incredible benefit for consumers across the world.

Pointing out news that is not news to anyone who has paid attention to the energy business in the recent years, article explains the current volatility is currently disrupting and will continue to disrupt many producers. A lot of producers will go out of business. Keep in mind that the drilling rigs, equipment, and especially the oil under the ground will not vaporize as a result. The know-how to more efficiently drill more productive wells more quickly more cheaply will be around a long time.

Article explains a cited book which makes the point that the shale revolution is just getting started. The improved efficiency producing higher output in the last two years has brought many producers to the point where they can be productive in the $30 or $40 range.

The technology has increased to the point that if prices rebound to slightly higher levels than where they are now would make it possible to bring horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing into conventional oil fields and produce increases there.

The net effect of all these amazing advances is that shale oil will put a cap on how far oil prices can rise. As prices go up a whole bunch of undrilled locations become lucrative.

3/1 – Mark Perry, Carpe Diem – Charts and Updates on America’s Amazing Shale Revolution, It’s Not over yet – Astounding graphs, as usual.

Read more…

Net metering and solar+storage

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

A few articles catching my eye on consumer level solar, particularly the battle over non-solar retail customers involuntarily subsidizing rooftop installations of their neighbors, also known as net-metering. Of note is that in general solar power projects are only feasible with massive federal subsidies and residential solar power also requires heavy subsidies from other customers in the form of net-metering as well as all levels of government.

12/29/15 – Wall Street Journal – Nevada’s Solar Flare / State regulators roll back the net-metering electricity scam. Nevada is reducing the subsidy homeowners with solar panels get for electricity that isn’t used.

Currently, the electricity generated by solar panels that isn’t used by the homeowner is credited at the retail rate instead of the wholesale rate. That clever angle being played is that the retail rate also includes distribution costs, while wholesale rate reflects generation only.

Read more…

Ivanpah gets a reprieve

Low output, high cost, bird-killing, natural gas guzzling solar project has another year to hit contracted output. Photo by James Ulvog.

Low output, high cost, bird-killing, natural gas guzzling solar project has another year to hit contracted output requirements. Photo by James Ulvog.

Mentioned yesterday that the Ivanpah wing-toaster facility was in danger of having to close because it wasn’t producing enough electricity.

The plant owners can breathe easier. The Press Enterprise reports on 3/17: PUC gives Ivanpah plant operators more time to increase output.

In what looks to be a contract dispute, PG&E pointed out Ivanpah plant wasn’t delivering the contractually required amount of electricity and therefore was in violation of some state rules or regulations or something.

That meant Ivanpah needed special dispensation to continue operations. On Thursday, the state gave that permission.

Read more…

Poorly producing Ivanpah plant might have to close due to low production

The glare from those towers is visible from the air 100 miles away. The field around that white-hot tower toasts birds. Photo by James Ulvog.

The glare from the Ivanpah towers is visible to pilots 100 miles away. The field around that white-hot tower toasts birds that venture too close. Photo by James Ulvog.

In news cheered by all migratory birds west of the Mississippi, The Wall Street Journal reports on 3/16 that Ivanpah Solar Plant May Be Forced to Shut Down.

In old news, the plant isn’t producing as much electricity as expected. The new information is the wing-toasting solar plant isn’t meeting its contractually required output. Due to peculiarities of the regulatory world, this means it needs special permission from state regulators to keep operating.

Update: One year reprieve to meet contract requirements granted when PUC approved a forebearance agreement between PG&E and Ivanpah.

Read more…

That’s all for Palen Solar Power Project

The future for the land that was going to be used for the Palen solar project. Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

The future for the land that was going to be used for the Palen solar project. Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

There will not be any environmental and economic destruction from the Palen project in Riverside County. It is as dead as the wildlife it would have otherwise killed.

12/16/15 – Chris Clarke at ReWire – Weird Twist for Riverside County Solar Project – The Palen Solar Power Project has been sold by its near bankrupt owner to the fifth owner. A bankruptcy court has approved the transfer from Abengoa Solar to Maverick Solar LLC (sub of EDF Renewable Energy).

Read more…

More on the destruction from solar power

NIce view of the mountain, huh? What looks like a lake is appealing to birds, but landing on it will be deadly. Photo by James Ulvog.

Nice view of the mountain, huh? What looks like a lake is appealing to birds, but landing on it would be deadly. Photo by James Ulvog.

Have lots of articles on the damage from wind and solar power I want to discuss. Background article on wing-toasters suggests we may not see any more concentrated solar towers blight landscape and destroy wildlife. Article has video of the ‘streamers’ killed by a solar tower – 14 are visible in 9 seconds.

Oh, the solar-powered Ivanpah facility burns so much natural gas that the project will have to participate in the state cap-and-trade program.

9/25/15 – Chris Clarke at ReWire – Are Solar Power Towers Doomed in California? –  We can only hope.

Article gives deep background on the various concentrated solar power facilities actually built, planned, or abandoned in California.

There are currently two operating solar tower projects in California:

  • 392 mW Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating system next to I-15 near the California-Nevada border and
  • 5mW Sierra Sun Tower demonstration project in Lancaster.

Article discusses a variety of other projects, with the only one that seems likely to move forward is the 500mW Palen Solar Electric Generating System, which at the time of the article was  going to be built with parabolic trough design instead of the wing-toasting CSP towers. (In 2/16, regulators finally pulled the plug on the stalled project.)

CSP is providing only 4% of the solar power in the state.

Read more…

Update on devastation from wind and solar power. Catching up on backlog of articles.

Only one of the three Ivanpah towers is burning the wings off birds at the moment this picture was taken in 2013. Photo by James Ulvog.

Only one of the three Ivanpah towers is burning the wings off birds at the moment this picture was taken in 2013. Photo by James Ulvog.

I have a plethora of articles on the wide range of economic, environmental, and biological harm caused by wind and solar power. Will try to get caught up. So much devastation. So little time.

3/2/15 – Coyote Blog – New Business Opportunity: Lolo’s Eagle and Waffles Next to Large Solar Plants – Post points to the following two articles. Those articles plus this headline suggest that if the solar plants can get away with killing eagles and other federally protected migratory birds, then perhaps there is a business opportunity from serving up the carcasses as exotic dishes at a nearby café.

2/18/15 – ReWire – Scores of Birds Killed During Test of The Project in Nevada – During a test on 1/14/15 at the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project outside Tonopah, Nevada, federal biologists counted 130 streamers.

Read more…

Visual illustration of energy foolishness

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

I just learned that Robert Wilson (@CountCarbon) does a huge amount of graphing. (Yeah, yeah, I’m slow to catch up with what’s happening. On the other hand, keeping up with change is the purpose of this blog.)

Here are two of his illustrations that shows the utter foolishness of two specific energy policies: ethanol and solar power.

Ethanol

Question along with graph to help figure out your answer:

corn used in ethanol

Question: Would corn be better used to feed people than cars?

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…

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.

Solar

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…

Government intervention can stop an industry or make the good times roll

Old joke: You don't want to know how either sausage or legislation is made. Today we see an illustration of the outcome. Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Old joke: You don’t want to know how either sausage or legislation is made. Today we see an illustration of the outcome. Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

There was lots of news yesterday about the House passing a budget that covers all federal operations for the 2016 fiscal year.

I will leave the heated political observations to others. They seem to all be having fun.

What I’ll focus on is several ways that the sausage-making legislative compromises affected some of the wide open frontiers I’m watching.

Export ban on crude oil

Read more…

Can we rely on wind and solar? Do you want a one word, three sentence, or four minute answer?

Operational condition of wind turbines in California for 86% of the time in first quarter of 2015. Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Operational status of wind turbines in California for 86% of the time in first quarter of 2015. Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Take your pick. I have the answer in a word, paragraph, or 4 minute video.

Alex Epstein at Prager University provides us the answer on 10/20/15:  Can We Rely on Wind and Solar Energy.

Short answer is no.

Medium answer is wind and solar are weak and unreliable. Technical terms are dilute and intermittent. That makes them both extremely unreliable and extremely expensive. Oh, that also means that backup power must be available, which will obviously be fossil fuels.

For the four and a half minute answer, check out:

Two superb primers on energy

Without cheap, abundant, and reliable energy neither the construction, illumination, nor activity after dark you see here would be possible. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com.

Without cheap, abundant, and reliable energy none of the construction, illumination, or activity after dark you see here would be possible. Photo of San Diego skyline courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com.

I found two more in-depth discussions of energy. I’m writing this blog to help me learn what is going on around us. If you are tagging along on my learning journey, you really oughta’ check these out:

8/21 – Daniel Yergin at Wall Street Journal – The Power Revolutions /Natural gas, solar power and data-driven efficiency are making big gains, but history shows that the shift away from coal and oil won’t be fast or neat – Anything you see in print from Mr. Yergin is worth reading.

He points out that it takes an extremely long time to make any major transition in sources of energy.

Read more…

Another case study in the cost of rooftop solar, this time focusing on the sky-high financing terms

photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Here is another case study, this time emphasizing the really high cost of leasing.  The Wall Street Journal has an article in the 8/4 print edition:  Solar-Power Fight Hits Home in Arizona/ New rules to require solar companies to tell potential customers how much systems will cost over the lifetime of their contracts.

Car dealers and bank loan officers, please sit down.

Apparently home solar installers are all up in arms because Arizona now requires them to tell customers how much they’re going to pay over the term of the contract. Yes, you lenders who have to deal with truth-in-lending laws that have been around since, oh, before you were born can now chuckle.

Typical roof-top solar contracts run for 20 years and have built-in annual price increases. When told the total of what they will pay, many customers choose to buy the system instead of pay an extra fortune over two decades.

Typical terms according to the article for an average system: Read more…

Environmental devastation from constructing wind turbines and solar farms.

Turbines under construction in Holland. Picture courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com.

Turbines under construction in Holland. Picture courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com.

Constructing turbines or solar panels consumes vast amounts of natural resources. Consider just some of the resource drain created by ‘renewable’ energy discussed on 1/13/15 at The Scotsman:  Comment: Renewables drain our resources

Wind turbine towers are constructed from steel manufactured in a blast furnace from mined iron ore and modified coal (coke). Turbine blades are composed of oil-derived resins and glass fibre. The nacelle encloses a magnet containing about one third of a tonne of the rare earth metals, neodymium and dysprosium. Large neodymium magnets also help propel electric cars.

A third of a ton of rare earth metals for every turbine. So what? Consider: Read more…

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