Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Food is the ultimate security need

Food is the ultimate security need, new map shows | Damian Carrington | Environment | "A new map of food security risk around the world is, in some ways, depressingly familiar. Sub-saharan Africa leaps out as the place where the most people fear for their next meal, while the rich world has more to fear from obesity. But there's plenty of salutary reminders and fascinating detail, like India's food problems and the vulnerability of Spain.

And it demonstrates the sickening, symbiotic relationship between lack of food and conflict: where one leads, the other follows."

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

An Excellent Fellow Calls out the Academy of Medical Sciences

- Bishop Hill blog - Health "co-benefits":

"Some years ago, presumably for having written books on genetics, I was elected a fellow of Britain’s Academy of Medical Sciences (AMS). This was a great honour and I was even more pleased to be invited to speak at one of their annual dinners.

Then, towards the end of 2010, there dropped through my letter box a newsletter from the AMS which included an item on the academy having signed up to an “international statement” on the “health benefits of policies to tackle climate change” together with other medical science academies around the world. The newsletter said that the health “co-benefits” of tackling climate change “show that climate change mitigation strategies need not be socially and economically demanding”. Since everything I was reading at the time about rising food and fuel prices driven partly by climate change mitigation policies was pointing to the opposite conclusion – namely that malnutrition and hypothermia were being increased by such policies, outweighing any health advantages – I went online to read the statement, to find out what I had been signed up to as a fellow."

'continue reading on the Bishop Hill blog'

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hitachi Signs Nuclear Deal with Saskatchewan

Hitachi to develop N-projects in Canada : Business : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri): "Hitachi and the provincial government will work on projects developing small nuclear power reactors, technology to re-collect uranium for nuclear fuel and medical technologies that use radiation."

'via Blog this'

Thursday, August 25, 2011

SNC Lavalin Signs a CANDU deal

Embalse refurbishment contracts signed:
Jose Luis Antunez, vice president of Nucleoelectrica Argentina, noted that the Embalse plant has operated with "a flawless performance" since it started operating in 1984. For this reason, he said, "it is considered more than reasonable to extend its life for another 30 years." He also said that the reactor's generating capacity would be increased by 5% (about 35 MWe).

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Easy Money causing switch from promising CSP to Limited PV

Solar Trust Ditches CSP for PV at Massive Blythe Plant, Cites Market Conditions :: POWER Magazine

Solar Trust of America will convert the first 500-MW phase of its massive concentrating solar power (CSP) project under construction near Blythe, in Riverside County, Calif., to photovoltaic (PV) technology because market conditions currently favor PV, the company announced on Thursday.

This is interesting, because CSP held the promise of supply that would be matched to demand - as opposed to the intermittency of generic PV. According to the website, this is not the first project altered to PV from CSP:

This February, Tessera Solar similarly sold its Imperial Project, a 709-MW CSP plant designed to boost Stirling Engine technology, to AES Solar. In May, that project was switched over to PV.

McGuinty Q & A

McGuinty Q&A | London | News | London Free Press

My eyes were drawn to the final Q & A:

Q:Are you being honest with voters when you give them a 10% rebate on electricity costs that they will have to pay anyway in the long run?

A: I don't think it's fair for our generation to rebuild (an electricity) system . . . to pay it all up-front, one-shot when for the (foreseeable future) other people will get the benefit. We are in fact deferring the cost, we're in effect borrowing money, and I think that's a fair way to spread the workload.

Actually, we are contracting almost everything for new generation, and funding it with the public generation built 20-100 years ago, while strangling the rates paid for public power in order to fund the contracted supply - the bulk of transmission spending is also to accommodate new, unreliable, and expensive, supply.

Not that the answer could have been anything but ridiculous. Critics, particularly the anti-nuclear ones, say the debt retirement charge points to the waste of previous governments' spending, while adding the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit, which is twice the size of the DRC.

Does that mean his government is twice as bad as previous ones, or ...
that the green/gas alliance of supply is twice as expensive as nuclear?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Biomass Growth Remains Muted in North America

Biomass Boiler Market Remains Unpredictable :: COAL POWER magazine:
The common denominator of these projects is that they are generally 50 MW or less—much smaller than the larger coal-to-biomass conversion projects that haven't fared well in the marketplace.
Another approach now being considered by utilities that is less intrusive than a complete repowering to burn biomass is cofiring biomass in existing coal-fired plants.

One billion cars, and counting ...

1bn cars and counting - the global traffic jam just got worse | Jonathan Watts | Environment |
I am starting this post snared in traffic on Beijing's third ring road, breathing exhaust fumes and taking it on faith that the sun is up there somewhere behind the smog.

First, the number of cars on the planet has just passed the billion mark. Second, more than half of the new growth is in China. Third, Toyota managed to sell only one Prius in China last year. That's right. The world's most commercially successful hybrid car has found only one buyer in the fastest growing market. SUV sales, by contrast, are surging.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Podesta On MaRs

I read an article online yesterday about Pennsylvania's governor ending all green energy programs.

The gist of the Energy Central piece was that Pennsylvania's Energy policy is now synonymous with two other words: Marcellus Shale.

Monday, August 15, 2011

For Coal Plants, A Game Of Chicken

For Coal Plants, a Game of Chicken -

"In a research note released late Friday, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said that capacity payments in 2014 and 2015 would reach a level equal to $7 per megawatt-hour of electricity sold — in other words, about $7 on the monthly bill of that suburban house, or seven-tenths of a cent per kilowatt-hour. The national average retail price of a kilowatt-hour is about 10 cents, although in some parts of the Northeast it can be triple that amount.

Higher capacity payments are one of the mechanisms through which surviving electric plants will get the revenue needed for add-on antipollution devices.

Charles Blanchard, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance and author of the research note, said in an e-mail that capacity payments may reach 25 percent of total revenues as supply is reduced."

This article, from the New York Times, is very important to electricity markets, but my myopic Ontario outlook demands I note the 'capacity' market stateside is equivalent to the debt retirement charge we have in Ontario.

Interesting - and likely not a coincidence at all.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

McIntryre's Conclusions Being Noted By Environmentalists

Hansen, WG3 and Green Kool-aid « Climate Audit

I've linked to the Hansen piece,  noted by McIntyre, here, and have alluded to Lovins' Rocky Mountain Institute a couple of times (re: urban planning).  I generally have avoided the skeptics, but this article is noteworthy for the side by side view of the graphing of future supply mixes, from 1976, by Lovins, and the 2011 future hoped for by Greenpeace.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

EU challenges Canadian green power rules at WTO | Reuters

EU challenges Canadian green power rules at WTO | Reuters

"It is illegal to condition access to a subsidy to the use of domestic products," the European Commission said in a statement.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mr. Premier, 135 is greater than 80

Green energy costs will drop: McGuinty | Toronto & GTA | News | Toronto Sun

Here's what Ontario's premier said:
“Think about the original price of a calculator — of a VCR, a DVD player, a flat screen TV, or a cell phone,” McGuinty said, standing in front of three electric cars.
“What happened to the price of our technologies over time? With innovation and imagination on the part of people, we found a way to bring those costs down. Whether we’re talking about wind turbines, solar panels or electric cars, we know which way those costs are going.”
It is nice to take successful technologies to illustrate reduced costs with increased production, but most expensive products fail. A responsible energy policy probably wouldn't continue to throw money at things that shows no indication of being successful in any market.

A Cod Piece - Save the BOFFFs

Putting the Cod Back in Cape Cod -

A couple of weeks ago I read of a new study providing some optimism regarding increased populations of Atlantic cod:
The Atlantic cod population is showing signs of a comeback, decades after a high-profile collapse that had a calamitous impact on fishing communities. 
Andrew Revkin's piece today included some video related to the possibility of a future cod fishery around Cape Cod.

Manufacturers Drove 2009's Reduction in Electricity Demand

Producers cutting back on power use | Pulp and Paper Canada

"In Ontario at least, industry's energy use took a dive along with the economy, says Alexandra Campbell, spokesperson for Ontario's Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), which operates the province's electricity system.

"During the recession, industrial demand went down from 10 to 30%. Since 2009, the industrial load has gone back up about 10%," she says.

While reduced production does impact energy consumption, there have been other factors at play across Canada.

"Power demand doesn't exactly mirror what's happening in the economy," Campbell says, pointing out that usage from residential, commercial and some smaller industries stayed relatively the same during the downturn."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Bavarian Business Survey Shows Electricity Pricing Concerns

DIHK Survey: High Energy Costs Obstacle for German Competitiveness « German Energy Blog

According to a study published in July by the economic research and consulting company Prognos AG on behalf of the Bavarian business association vbw, electricity prices will rise by 53% für non-energy intensive industries and by 41% for energy-intensive industries between 2010 and 2025.
From the linked article, via Google translation:

Associated with getting higher CO2 emissions have a negative effect on the climate of Germany and Bavaria. In Bavaria, caused by the generation of CO2 emissions increase from 2010 to 2023 to about eight million tonnes to 15 million tons.

The German reduction target of minus 40 percent between 1990 and 2020 can probably be achieved just yet. Because of the specifications by the European Emission Trading Scheme (ETS), the additional emissions in the German electricity but must be offset by a reduction in other ETS States. That has a price increase of CO2 allowances to follow.

The new strategy costs more and it emits more.

A Vermont View Of Canadian Electricity Export Plans

Canadian power brokers look to transmit electricity to points south

According to Hydro-Quebec’s 2009-2013 Strategic Plan, Hydro-Quebec Production’s net exports in 2008 accounted for 8 percent of their sales volume (C$977 million) but 32 percent of the company’s net income. By 2013, it continues, Hydro-Quebec Production’s net exports will actually drop in net revenue to $915 million–“export volume will increase significantly…while the average price of exports will fall, given the forecast price of natural gas”–but that will comprise 12 percent of their sales volume and 38 percent of Hydro-Quebec’s net income.
According to the import/export reporting of Canada's National Energy Board, net revenues dropped below $830 million already, in 2010.
And it was down again over the first 5 months of 2011.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Monbiot Responds to Goodall

Greens must not prioritise renewables over climate change | George Monbiot and Chris Goodall | Environment |

'When the government's statutory advisers propose a shorter timescale for cutting emissions than one of Britain's leading greens, we should ask ourselves some hard questions about our priorities.'

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Demand Records in Multiple Electricity Systems

Reddy Kilowatt Works Up a Sweat -
But this summer, the Midwest Independent System Operator, which covers an area from Michigan to Manitoba to the Dakotas, blew through its record on July 20. That system serves about 40.3 million people.
Just to the east, the PJM Interconnection, which covers parts of 13 states and a population of 58 million people, set its record the following day. Both of those systems managed with little difficulty.
The Southwest Power Pool, which covers parts of nine states, including Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and part of Texas, with a population of 15.5 million, set records on Monday and Tuesday, and repeatedly asked for customer help in limiting consumption in the hot afternoons.

And more trouble in Texas due to ERCOT's isolation:

It was hit hard this week, and by Thursday it had declared that conservation was critical and rotating blackouts were a possibility. Power prices on the spot market jumped to 100 times their normal levels.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Dr. James Hansen + Ontario Politics

Dr. James Hansen is a very active scientist/citizen. Hansen has not only been unwavering in his opposition to coal-fired electricity generation, he's also stepped it up and even managed to get arrested at protest as he approaches his 8th decade on the planet. Hansen is also influential in policies dealing with 'black carbon' - a recent focus of Ontario's Environmental Commissioner.
Ontario, my province, has, since the summer of 2003, a policy to phase out coal-use by 2015 (now it's 2014, as promised by the man after he promised a 2007 date to get elected, in the fall of 2003, over the evil people - an all-party commission - that claimed 2015 was the practical date).

Thursday, August 4, 2011

India Reaffirms Nuclear Future and Private Firms Want In On the Business Too

ONGC Plans Nuclear Plants in India, Starts Uranium Exploration

Asia's third-biggest economy reaffirmed plans to boost nuclear power generation about 13-fold by 2030 to bridge an energy shortfall after conducting a safety review that was triggered by Japan's Fukushima disaster.

Monday, August 1, 2011

U.S. EIA Annual Energy Outlook 2011

U.S. Energy Information Administration - EIA - Independent Statistics and Analysis

Some quotes:

More recently, the economic recession in 2008 and 2009 caused a significant drop in electricity demand. As a result, the lower demand projected for the near term in the AEO2011 Reference case again results in excess generating capacity. Capacity that is currently under construction is completed in the Reference case, but only a limited amount of additional capacity is built through 2025. In 2025, capacity growth and demand growth are in balance again, and they grow at similar rates through 2035.
...geothermal resources triples as a result of technology advances that make previously marginal sites attractive for development, as well as increasing the resources available at existing geothermal sites.
...generation from biomass more than triples from 2009 to 2035, when it accounts for 39 percent of total nonhydroelectric renewable electricity generation.

Because the Federal PTC expires at the end of 2012, however, 73 percent of the overall increase in wind capacity (18.2 gigawatts) occurs between 2009 and 2012. From 2012 through 2035, only an additional 6.9 gigawatts of wind capacity is added.