Monday, November 26, 2012

Some Cool Things About Wind Energy in November 2012



NY State just had its latest and (technically) largest wind farm commence operations (Nov 4). The 210 MW Marble River wind farm (pictured), located near the Canadian border in the northeastern part of the state in Clinton County has been years in the making, and most of this time was occupied with compiling the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The project features 112 meter rotor diameters and 94 meter tall towers. Along with a couple other northeast US projects (Vermont and New Hampshire), this is one of the few places in the US to use these bigger, taller and new model units.


Location of the latest NY wind farm

Since the project was initiated, the selected turbine changed from a 2.1 MW Suzlon unit to the Vestas V112 x 3 MW, which are now among the largest wind turbines in North America (still pretty small by European Standards). The project size has stayed pretty constant at ~ 200 MW, and this is likely due to the capacity of the electric transmission lines out of that area. There are already four wind farms operating in this area (Franklin and Clinton Counties) - Altona (97.5 MW), Chateaugay (106.5 MW), Clinton (100.5 MW) and Ellensburg (81 MW). The combined 384.5 MW are all owned by Nobel Environmental Power (a "derivative" of JP Morgan Chase - see http://www.masshightech.com/stories/2009/06/01/daily52-Wind-developer-Noble-Environmental-Power-withdraws-IPO.html) and these all use GE 1.5 MW sle turbines (80 meter tall towers, 77 meter rotor diameters) - these have been operating since 2008 or 2009. With the completion of the Marble River project, almost 600 MW of wind sourced electricity could be produced and exported towards NY City from this sparsely populated part of NY State.

By going with the larger turbines, the project owner (Horizon Wind, a subsidiary of EDPr Renewables, one of Portugal's biggest companies) could drop the number of installation sites from 100 to 70. This was very helpful because of the swampy terrain of this area, and as a result 30 fewer foundations/roads/sections of underground power lines were needed. At the top of the blade circle, the tip of the turbine would be 150 meters (492 feet) above the ground. With the higher hub height, these new V112 units should be able to produce about 11% more electricity from winds present at 94 meters versus the winds present at 80 meters above the ground. The estimated output is predicted to average 64.7 MW, or almost 31% of the capacity of the array (from NYSERDA: "2012-rps-report.pdf"). each turbine would average 925 kw, though the output at any specific time would vary with the wind speed...

Because of the strange way that wind turbines get financed in the USA, the owners of these projects need to have considerable "tax appetite". In return for investing in environmentally and economically sensible activities, the project owners are allowed to avoid paying Federal Income taxes within defined limits. In NY State, the Renewable Portfolio Standard will pay out $22.01/MW-hr for 10 years, or close to $125 million over a 10 year period. The Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and the MACRS rapid depreciation allowance would be worth around $320 million in avoided taxes (5.6 c/kw-hr for 10 years) for this project, and there is always the interest deduction on any borrowed money which adds to avoidable taxes …..

In some of its financial summaries (for example, http://bo.edprenovaveis.pt/upload/Site_1/Files/EDPR9M2012HandoutEN.pdf), EDPr listed the "merchant rates" for electricity in the US as between 2 to 3 c/kw-hr (it would be near 3 c/kwhr for NY State based on the initial 10 months of 2012). This project probably cost around $500 million, and a return of around $50 million/yr to pay this off would be considered pretty pathetic by most US corporate standards (15% is "normal", and 20% is considered "OK" by pharmaceutical standards). By this 10% level and an estimated wind farm output of 567,326 MW-hr/yr, the required price needed to bring in $50 million/yr in revenue would be around $88.13/MW-yr . Obviously, if the grid (NYISO Zone D, or North) is only paying $30/MW-hr, this is a financial hoser par excellence unless some means of making up the $58/MW-hr is arranged).

A modern wind turbines (and the V112 is one of those) would be expected to have "O&M" costs of around 1 c/kw-hr ($10/MW-hr), and this would also be added on to the $88/MW-hr, resulting in a need for a "real price" needed of close to $98/MW-hr. For the initial 10 years, here is the breakdown on things:

Merchant Price            $30/MW-hr
NYSERDA RPS          $22/MW-hr
MACRS (10 yr basis) $34/MW-hr
PTC/ITC                     $22/MW-hr

This adds up to $108/MW-hr, which is a simple profit of $10/MW-hr, but only for 10 years. After 10 years, there is only the merchant price for revenue ($30/MW-hr), which, after the O&M cost, only leaves $20/MW-hr to the owners. Potentially, this is a profit of $11million/year on an asset of $500 million, or a 2.2% simple Return on Assets ……  The entire debt on this project needs to be repaid in the initial 10 years, as the revenue after the subsidies go away are not going to be able to make much of a dent in any project debt…..

Because of the expiration of the PTC/ITC incentives, there is unlikely to be any new wind farms for NY State until the end of the RPS (2016). This means that NY's wind turbine capacity will stay at around 1617 MW, with an average output of 400 MW, not the intended 1138 MW of the initial RPS goal ("25% x 2015") or the ~2100 MW for the "30% x 2015" enhanced RPS goal. In fact, the RPS incentives, while better than nothing, won't even get to 20% of the "enhanced" goal, or 35% of the initial RPS goal.

To date, a bit more than 1000 of the V112 units have been sold. These represent a new class of commercial scale wind turbines - ones with a rotor diameter greater than 100 meters and tower heights greater than 80 meters - at least for the US. In Europe, the next generation of low, moderate and high speed (= offshore) turbines is already being deployed. For the Low Wind Speed Turbines, tower heights of 120 to 150 meters  and rotor diameters greater than 120 meters are being sold and deployed. Perhaps when the PTC incentive reappears and the next wave of turbines gets installed, there will be more of the likes of 100 plus diameter rotors on taller towers tapping faster winds than those present at 80 meters. Larger sized generators and higher net yields, all in an attempt to keep energy generation costs as low as possible. There is still no way that wind turbines can generate electricity for 3 c/kw-hr, but those using natural gas to make electricity can no longer do that, either, since prices for that fossil fuel have almost doubled in the last 6 months. And until natural gas prices have reached the marginal price needed to make tracking a generally profitable venture (around $10/MBtu), looks like that trend will continue for a while. And at that price for gas, wind turbines are lower cost than gas, even if no subsidies bare present at all. But that's not now, and it may take a year or two before that happens, and even if it does, given the roller-coaster pricing history of gas in the recent past, prices could rapidly drop (if only for just a bit), once again trashing the viability of wind turbines without either a long term power purchase agreement, or better yet, a Feed-In Tariff pricing system. Of course, stable prices for electricity means that the money cost for wind turbine projects can drop, and who but those with a mean spirit would object to that….

Picture Credits:
Top:
http://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/story/20913/20121120/expiring-tax-credits-blow-ill-wind
Map: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clinton,_Clinton_County,_New_York

Friday, November 16, 2012

Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory - America's Wind Energy Blowout


In Gloucester Massachusetts a pair of 2.5 MW Kenersys (100 meter rotors, 100 meter tall towers) are currently being installed at the local Varian Corporation manufacturing facility (they make the stuff that makes solar cells and semiconductors, among other things). These will generate about 9 million kw-hrs/yr (a bit more than a MW of average delivered power). Because it is being made on-site, this electricity will be cheaper than if it was bought off the grid, since they don't have to pay the electricity transportation fees to their local distribution monopoly (National Grid, an English company). Gloucester is a fairly small town near Boston, and this construction project is a big deal. And judging by the local papers, this is looked upon with great pride by the town's residents in contrast to towns like Falmouth, Mass, afflicted with mass hysteria over a pair of wind turbines located at the local sewage treatment facility, but egged on by those financing the opposition to the Cape Wind project. For more see http://www.gloucestertimes.com/local/x1088166459/Wind-turbines-coming-next-month

And there will be no hiding these turbines (top of the rotor blade circle is 150 meters, or 492 feet above ground, and these are apparently being put on a hill, too). But, rather than pay their foreign owned T&D monopoly its rather outrageous "trolling fees", this electricity will be both non-polluting and lower cost than can be obtained off the grid even with below the costs to produce it natural gas via fracking making that electricity. The lower cost is achieved  once the federal incentives (Investment Tax Credit, MACRS rapid depreciation) are added into the picture. For example, the ITC will lower the cost from $11 million to $7.7 million, and the MACRS deductions will drop the cost to less than $3.4 after a 5 year period- as long as Varian pays taxes, of course (if no taxes are paid, tax credits and tax deductions have no value, as there are no paid taxes to avoid paying). At this point (and using a 7.55%/20 year cost of money basis), the delivered electricity will cost Varian around 4.8 c/kw-hr. They may even get to sell CO2 pollution avoidance credits (RECs), which might add roughly $50,000/yr more in benefits to Varian. Varian is the major employer in Gloucester, and this investment (after they get to avoid paying up to $7.6 million in taxes) in low cost pollution free electricity will help keep this employer in business, which is very good for Gloucester. And since it is mostly working class in population, none of the insanity of "Wind Turbine Syndrome" (a made up, imaginary ailment) or the non-factual complaints that wind turbines destroy property values will crop up (see http://theconversation.edu.au/theres-still-no-evidence-that-wind-farms-harm-your-health-10464). After all, Gloucester knows what really destroys property values - de-industrialization and high levels of unemployment. Too bad Buffalo NY doesn't "get the picture" and start actually making things again...

So, that is a small example of what the wind business is capable of doing for both business and the world. Those turbines will displace around 7700 tons of CO2 pollution each year. Only 582,000 more of those and the US could kick its nuke, natural gas and coal addiction. And with that sort of market demand (about $2.9 trillion), well, instead of importing 2.5 MW turbines from Germany, those could be made in the US. One of the reasons they had to import them was because it was such a tiny order (only two turbines) and there was such a rush to get big orders completed in the US this year, due to the impending demise of the Production Tax Credit/Investment Tax Credit incentives. If projects are not operating - even for a few hours - by the end of Dec 31 of this year, no incentives can be received for the one form of renewable energy capable of delivering electricity at near the cost of existing pollution based electricity generation and at humongous scale.

After all, the US generates around 475 GW of electricity, on average, and 87% of that is pollution based. About 20% is made via the extraordinarily dangerous route known as nuclear fission - in essentially 50 years of operation there have already been 4 catastrophic incidents out of the 6 known major scale partial core meltdowns. Another 20% of that is presently being made by a fuel whose present low price is the result of a decent sized $300 billion (or more) con-job known as fracking. Combined with widespread ignorance of what a fossil fuel resource (the actual mass of fossil fuels buried in some field, such as the Marcellus shale) versus a reserve (the amount of that resource that can be extracted at a given price), fracking sourced gas has made big inroads in the electricity business of late. However, at present wellhead prices (~ $3.70/MBtu) and delivered prices (~$5/MBtu), the deliverable reserves of Marcellus shale gas are quite small (less than 5% of the resource), and concentrated in a relatively few "sweet spots". In order to make that more like 20% of the resource (~ 141 trillion cubic feet, or ~ 6 years of present US usage - see http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-01-23/u-s-reduces-marcellus-shale-gas-reserve-estimate-by-66-on-revised-data.html), prices have to go way up to cover both the increased cost to drill and frack those wells but also deal with the associated pollution and trash disposal. And for just the CO2 air pollution from burning the methane, another 3.6 c/kw-hr needs to be tacked onto the price of gas sourced electricity (CO2 pollution at $85/ton). But, when the real Global Warming effect of the leaking methane from a fracking well (~ 7% of all methane extracted from that well), another 5 c/kw-hr should be added to fracking sourced natural gas derived electricity. So, add 8.5 c/kw-hr for Frankenstorm (like Katrina and Sandy) creating Greenhouse Gas (GHG) pollution plus 10 c/kw-hr needed to pay for the real costs of drilling and some proper waste disposal/treatment and this electricity (18 c/kw-hr) now becomes as expensive as offshore wind based electricity, and way more expensive than wind based electricity, WITHOUT subsidies.

Of course, 18 c/kw-hr electricity derived from natural gas is still cheaper than electricity made from PV panels, especially in the US northeast, which is (at least, so far), not a desert. But, if we only have ~ $3 trillion in the next decade to spend on upgrading our electricity generation to a non-depletable and catastrophic accident-proof arrangement, wind seems like the best bet around. It can be supplemented by pumped hydro storage, tidal (Bay of Fundy "underwater turbines"), biomass, perhaps ammonia/ethanol backup-powered arrangements, some biogas and biomass, in addition to existing hydroelectric schemes.

Could we actually spend $3 trillion in a decade on wind turbines and related installations? Based on how rapid we did things in WW2, Korea and Vietnam wars, the race to the moon and lots of other things both good and/or bad as well as with sub-urbanization and the interstate highway construction, no problem.

In 2012, with ridiculously complicated and convoluted incentives, about $25 billion will be put down on wind turbines to create 12,000 MW of new capacity, and about 4 GW of new, delivered electricity. We now "start" with a delivered 20 GW of wind sourced electricity, and only have 400 GW to go (delivered basis), doubling the amount laid down each year until 2016 (24 GW capacity installed in 2013, 48 GW in 2014, 96 GW in 2015, 192 GW in 2016) would get 398 GW of delivered wind energy electricity by 2020. And since 70% of all wind turbine manufacture was made domestically in 2012 (about 75,000 were employed in 2012 in the wind biz), installing 192 GW capacity (= 64 GW delivered) each year would create around 1.6 million jobs. And there is no reason other than lack of a desire to employ around 1.5 million people in this country building something new and something that makes the world a better place. Who has that lack of desire? Well, you can start with the US Chamber of Commerce, for starts...

Of course, once the pollution sourced electricity is replaced, that's not the end of the story. The natural gas used for heating needs to be replaced, and most of that will happen with electrically powered ground sourced heat pumps. Any hydrogen gas made needs to be made from either biomass or by electrolyzing water, and a new use for that H2 made would be to react CO2 made by fermentation or biomass combustion into fuels. Or it could be used to upgrade the crude fuels made by the pyrolysis of biomass into things that burn nicely and don't stink to an amazing degree. Those biomass pyrolysis compounds could also replace petroleum based chemicals, and that means less oil needs to get extracted from the ground.

Transportation needs to go either directly electric, or indirect via reduction of CO2 and biomass with renewable energy sourced hydrogen. Such fuels won't be cheap, but they won't deplete, either, and we won't have to pay off some of the most vile and evil kleptocratic dictators the world has ever had the misfortune to experience in exchange for their oil and natural gas. Odds are, we would need a price about double what current oil prices are going for to make such biofuels in usable amounts. But since oil prices will already be at that price in about 5 years, maybe that is a pretty good deal. Besides, it will employ a lot more people than will extracting oil and gas from the dregs of what remains of our oil and natural gas reserves. And if that leaves most of the coal in the ground, well, think about the jobs  balance. About 1.6 million jobs in the wind business, or 30,000 jobs in the coal business. And if you can't figure that one out, quit watching Faux News TV for a bit, and odds are your mental faculties will return..

But, alas, we will likely hear no such bold plans, or of renewable energy pricing systems like Feed-In Tariffs (FITs), which would allow $400 billion/yr of buisness (192 GW/yr of wind turbine installs) to be a viable and to succeed without tax avoidance subsidies. And also those 1.5 million new jobs plus the 75,000 existing ones that actually now exist in states OTHER THAN NY State. You heard right, of the $3.5 billion installed to date, we have around 300 manufacturing jobs, and maybe 100 warehouse/inventory jobs (better than nothing) at GE near Albany. Maybe there were some legal/banking/financing jobs created (complying with tax avoidance incentives at the hundreds of millions/project scale is not for amateurs), but those are not the real wealth creating middle class jobs that will actually pull NY State out of its economic doldrums.

Or will FITs get discussed? To make them allowable, here is the 132 words needed to update an obscure piece of legislation passed in 1978 (PURPA):

Section 210 of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 is amended by adding at the end thereof:
 ‘‘(o) CLARIFICATION OF STATE AUTHORITY TO ADOPT RENEWABLE ENERGY INCENTIVES. — Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act or the Federal Power Act, a State legislature or regulatory authority may set the rates for a sale of electric energy by a facility generating electric energy from renewable energy sources pursuant to a State-approved production incentive program under which the facility voluntarily sells electric energy. For purposes of this subsection, ‘State-approved production incentive program’ means a requirement imposed pursuant to State law, or by a State regulatory authority acting within its authority under State law, that an electric utility purchase renewable energy (as defined in section 609 of this Act) at a specified rate.’’.


This is taken from the 2009 American Climate and Energy Security Act - passed by the House, ignored/filibustered by the Senate, a 900+ page tome. To make renewable energy economically viable with no need for tax avoidance subsidies, this is the ONLY part of the bill that needs to be used - no need for CO2 pollution taxes or "get Goldman Sachs richer via "Cap'N Trade" schemes" (see http://www.selectsmart.com/DISCUSS/read.php?16,934844,934904).

But if that's what gets you off and through the night, have at it - just keep that away from this tiny piece of legislation. The last time an attempt to add this PURPA upgrade was bundled in with the goodies for Goldman Sachs (CO2 auctions), it failed miserably. And didn't Albert Einstein say that to repeat what did not work and expect a different result was a definition of insanity? The good doctor was a smart one...

Oh well, only 46 days left till the wind industry goes "poof" in the US with the demise of the Production and Investment Tax Credit, just like Cinderella's ride that morphs back into pumpkin form. Sure, we have an equivalent of those spiffy dancing shoes in the form of $120 billion worth of wind turbines installed so far in our country, turning wind into electricity and avoiding the consumption of close to 1.5 trillion cubic feet per year of fracking sourced natural gas, as well as saving consumers close to $100 billion or more in the form of higher natural gas heating costs, and probably $50 billion in higher electricity costs that come when high priced natural gas is used to make electricity. And maybe it is the fault of the wind biz for not taking a decent cut of those savings on consumer gas heating and gas based electricity payments, though how that would be done is not clear at all.... But, to overcome the legal bribery from the oil, natural gas, nuke and coal business, it would have to be a big cut, and when you jump into the pig-stye of corporate funding of elections and rent-a-politician auctions, sometimes you don't emerge unscathed, and instead become transmorgified into something no longer any good. It's like those corporate polluters are infectious zombies with bad attitudes, biting and infecting with abandon.

So, what's it going to be for a future? A nice one like the folks at Varian in Gloucester are working on, or a Koch-fueled dydstopia that bears too much of a resemblance to Resident Evil... Do you really want to spend all that time and energy fending off what some nasty corporate types will deliver (such as Frankenstorms that are the cost and by-product of short term profits form the sale of pollution sourced energy) unless we set things straight? You won't always be lucky, and you wouldn't want to run out of ammo if that dystopia does get delivered, as that would give rise to serious problems...



Top Photo credit:
http://goodmorninggloucester.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/photo-32.jpg
Cap'N Trade Photo:
http://crooksandliars.com/susie-madrak/taibbi-guess-whos-getting-rich-cap-an
RE Photo:
http://screencrave.com/2010-03-31/resident-evil-afterlife-photos-with-alice-claire-chris/

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Wind-itorial - Variation on the Editorial

Part of the London Array, now almost complete (with 151 of 175 x 3.6 MW turbines installed).... It began exporting electricity to the mainland last week. This almost $US 3 billion project will be the largest offshore array until Phase 1 gets expanded by 240 MW of additional capacity, at a cost of around $US 1 billion additional. All that investment means a lot of European jobs (as almost everything used in them is made in Europe). No "economic leakage" in that segment of the European economy, so to speak, which is partly why it becomes so beneficial to Europe...Too bad NY State does not get the hint....

One day to go, and the fate of the wind turbine industry in the U.S. may be decided. Does it get a stay on its possible extermination (from the Romney side, who would much rather promote coal and fracking sourced natural gas, not to mention nukes)? Or does the Obama Administration prevail, and with it the possibility of a continued wind industry. Down-ballot, to what extent do Democrats prevail in the Senate - can they possibly co-opt the only trace evidence  of "moderate" Republicans (all one of them - Olympia Snowe of Maine) remaining in the Senate, and/or will the filibuster be laid to rest? And then there is the long-shot of the night - control of the House of Representatives. Will it switch (long-shot) from dictatorial Republican mindset or will the place go to close to evenly split, so the the few remaining "moderate" Congresspeople could cut their own deals with Democrats? Will that long forgotten word called compromise apply to both parties, or is it only supposed to apply to Democrats to such an extent that they become compromised? Will many of the utterly inflexible "Teabaggers" bite it, electorally speaking, so that the 80 or so of them no longer "rule the roost" in the House?

After all, the existing US wind industry goes into hibernation as of December 31 this year. Looks like it may have done $25 billion in business in 2011, coming close to a cumulative capacity of 60 GW (about $120 billion of invested capital). But without that barely effective tax avoidance subsidy law that goes under the term "Production Tax Credit" (PTC), all that work will pretty much be all for naught - it just will be impossible to compete against the highly subsidized pollution based electricity generation business - coal, natural gas and nukes. Note: Almost all energy production and/or development  in the U.S. is subsidized, with nukes the most subsidized of all, so cutting only wind turbines off from its subsidies really is targeting this business for extinction. The PTC law could be extended (it is really popular, and most of the economic benefits of installations (property taxes, land leases, some maintenance jobs) tend to be in Republican controlled areas, anyway...). Maybe the legislative ransom Republicans demand in return for renewal will not be too onerous, and some compromise can be agreed to with fewer Republican Senators and House members. Maybe…

It is not every day that an industry that was up to 75,000 employed can be allowed to go "poof" at the stroke of midnight on New Years Eve. Or a $25 billion industry just made to evaporate in the course of a few months. But this is the Republican plan. The wind business has become too effective for its own good, at least according to those in charge of the natural gas (and by extension, oil) business, the coal business and companies that use coal to make electricity, as well as the "nukes boys". The 60 GW of cumulative wind turbine capacity making electricity averaging near 20 GW in the US means that about 1.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas each year no longer has to be burned. If that extra methane demand existed, natural gas prices could be double or triple what they presently are -  but instead, the gas business drowns in red ink (especially the frackers) or else fails to meet earnings expectations, which is effectively just as bad, since this has been a four year slump and it might last another year unless the competition (wind turbines) can be stomped down severely.

Wind turbines have been "stealing" money that would otherwise bear a close similarity to having been stolen from American consumers. This theft happens when prices for gas and electricity shift from competitive mode (cost plus a reasonable profit) to a "whatever can be extracted" mode via prices for all providers based on the marginal price set by the highest cost supplier needed to satisfy demand. This "theft" of the theft actually results in a Robin Hood like situation, because the money "stolen" from the nuke, coal and gas oligarchs was left in the pockets of American electricity and natural gas consumers, with only a fraction of the $100 to $150 billion prize taken in the form of avoided taxes going to owners of wind turbines. But who said life had to be fair, anyway? And when you kick an ogre with a bad attitude where it really hurts (as in "in the profits"), well, there's bound to be a backlash from that angry ogre. Enter the Republican control of the House in 2010, and a possible Mitt Romney in 2012….

This year in the wind biz has seen lots of good things happen. Europe just passed the 100 GW of capacity threshold. The record size for an offshore wind farm went from 317 MW to 362 MW to 506 MW, and a 630 MW wind farm (the London array) just began generating electricity, all in the space of a year.  Onshore, a 600 MW project just put Romania on the wind turbine map. South Africa - as addicted to King Coal as any country could ever be - recently announced plans for 1.2 GW of new wind turbine capacity, in exchange for some jobs in making some of the components of these wind turbines.  A whole new generation of wind turbines (Low Wind Speed Turbines) ideal for low to moderate wind resource regions (which is most of the land area of the planet) became big commercial successes, and are poised to deliver some impressive quantities of electricity at very reasonable prices. And it looks like tall towers only possible with reinforced concrete (as hybrid steel-concrete or all concrete) are going commercial in a big way - even in the U.S., providing we get over this self-induced bout of Republicanism (tall towers have been used in Europe for quite a while). A 140 meter tall tower can allow about 40% or more electricity to be made from a given spot/blade area versus from a standard 80 meter tower. Job creation, anyone? How about more bang for the buck - being smart, and delivering lots of CO2/CH4 pollution avoidance at reasonable prices? In the light of Frankenstorm Sandy, who in their right mind would object to that (right mind being the key phrase)?

In the U.S., one of the biggest land based arrays (Shephards Flats, 845 MW, ~ $2 billion) was recently completed in Oregon using GE's new 2.5 MW turbines. Two states (South Dakota and Iowa) now generate more than 20% of their electricity from wind turbines. At an average of around 20 GW output from 60 GW of generating wind turbine capacity, that is more than the combined output of the 30 smallest/oldest nukes in the US (including many Fukshima style ones…).  And since 2012 gave rise to a new word - Frankenstorm - via a humongous Atlantic Ocean storm (Hurricane Sandy) that landed near Halloween (hence the name), maybe the American public might finally "get the hint" that doing something about CO2 pollution caused trouble via Global Warming might be a smart thing to do. More wind turbine capacity may be installed in Kansas (politically, home base of many Teabaggers/wingnut extremists and fossil fuel fools to the core) this year than any other state. And why not? It is incredibly windy in Kansas, and thanks to Global Warming, extensive drought will become the norm, so about the only thing most farms will be growing there (unless they use irrigation) is likely to be either cactus or wind sourced electricity...

But maybe it's too late. Maybe the US will lead the world down a dark path based on maximizing CO2 pollution for the short term gain of a few, maybe some cheap electricity for a couple of years for most until the opportunity for maximum greed rears its mighty head. But without competition to coal and natural gas from wind, we get what Led Zeppelin so eloquently said/warned us about:  "Prayin' won't help you, crying won't do you no good". Some defacto monopolists will make a speculative proverbial killing, getting really really rich in the process. And when the next Frankenstorm comes along, or when the heat wave and associated drought never seems to stop, the press they finish buying will just say that's life, that's the new normal, so adapt or die. And they will call that compassion….

But, maybe it's not too late - you know, hope springs eternal and all that stuff. If you want to minimize Global Climate Change induced grief, wind turbines should be in your vision of the future. So it's election time again. It's only the fate of roughly a third of all living species on the planet in your hands, well, you and a lot of other people. So what are you waiting for? Hell won't freeze over under the current circumstances, but it could pay us all an unwanted visit if we insist on old 20th century, CO2 pollution laden ways to make electricity.

So anyway, all that from the expiration of a subsidy for wind turbines. Who'd a thunk...

The completed London Array project will replace electricity that otherwise would be made along with 1.54 megatons/yr of CO2 pollutant. After all, every little bit helps... Picture from http://www.greenpacks.org/2012/11/02/largest-offshore-windfarm-starts-power-generation/.

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Fracking Primer


Odds are most people don't know why fracking HAS to be used in the US
so much - there is simply no other way to supply Ngas at rate of the
25 trillion cubic feet per year (tcfy) at any price (imports and
"conventional" supply only 17.6 tcfy these days). So if we wish to
avoid fracking sourced Ngas, we need to use less Ngas. And that
includes Ngas used to make electricity, and which is where wind
turbines could come in really handy. Odds are, that (do less fracking)
will not be an unpopular message, regardless of "why".


So, here is the Powerpoint type explantation (in other words, a really quick read). Any questions?









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