Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Solar’s deathly spiral and the $650 million Suntech fraud | Climate Spectator

The headline here is somewhat overdone, as the main point at the end of the article is consolidation and dropping share, and product, values are predicted to continue falling until 2105/2016.  
It is important to see the top manufacturer lists of 2011 and 2007, to illustrate the 'first mover' advantage doesn't exist (on the manufacturing side).  

Solar’s deathly spiral and the $650 million Suntech fraud | Climate Spectator:
Subsidies for solar, particularly in Europe, led to rapid production growth through the lure of decent profits. It encouraged plenty of new competitors to try their hand in the sector and as the new entrants gathered, particularly in China, prices began to fall rapidly – 75 per cent since 2008 and 45 per cent last year alone.
With prices falling so swiftly on the back of innovation and an oversupply, solar manufacturers in developed economies have been caught short. Most simply can’t reduce prices as quickly as the likes of manufacturers in China due to considerably higher labour costs. That being said, even the Chinese firms are struggling.
Continue reading at Climate Spectator:

Monday, July 30, 2012

GE Chief: Nuclear 'hard to justify'

I recall a study showing emissions rising rapidly the past 2 years, demonstrating that if emissions targets are to be achieved, emissions reductions would need to be achieved globally at a rate only sustained over a decade twice: once by France's move to nuclear, and once by the UK's dash for gas period.
I also recall gas subsequently getting more expensive as it became scarcer in the UK.
As Stephen Colbert once said (I paraphrase):  "There's a great saying about history ... I can't remember what it is, but it's a great saying"

GE Chief: Nuclear 'hard to justify' - CNN.com:
"(Financial Times) -- Nuclear power is so expensive compared with other forms of energy that it has become "really hard" to justify, according to the chief executive of General Electric, one of the world's largest suppliers of atomic equipment.
"It's really a gas and wind world today," said Jeff Immelt, referring to two sources of electricity he said most countries are shifting towards as natural gas becomes "permanently cheap".
"When I talk to the guys who run the oil companies they say look, they're finding more gas all the time. It's just hard to justify nuclear, really hard. Gas is so cheap and at some point, really, economics rule," Mr Immelt told the Financial Times in an interview in London at the weekend. "So I think some combination of gas, and either wind or solar ... that's where we see most countries around the world going."
Mr Immelt's comments underline the impact on the global energy landscape of the US shale gas revolution," 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Renewed U.S. Interest in Japan's Fast Reactor? - ScienceInsider

The search for a viable IFR includes reviewing Japan's Monju program

A Renewed U.S. Interest in Japan's Fast Reactor? - ScienceInsider:
Nuclear power experts from Japan and the United States met in Tokyo today, and one surprising topic of conversation was the host country's Monju experimental fast reactor. "The possibility of cooperative work with Japan in the area of fast reactors is something that is attractive to us precisely because they have Monju," Daniel Poneman, the U.S. deputy secretary of energy, said at a press conference today...
Monju has a troubled history. A succession of mishaps and a scandal over an attempt to cover up an accident have kept the facility shut down for all but a few months since it first achieved criticality, or a sustained nuclear reaction, in 1994. The program is currently on hold, with just enough funding for maintenance
Continue reading at ScienceInsider

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Report: Fukushima a "Speed Bump" on the Road to Massive Nuclear Power Expansion

The UN's Nuclear Energy Agency and the International Atomic Energy Agency report that nuclear power will expand between 44 and 99 percent by 2035, with known supply ample for a century.

Report: Fukushima a "Speed Bump" on the Road to Massive Nuclear Power Expansion - IEEE Spectrum:
"The report, known informally as the Red Book, predicts nuclear will expand between 125 and 185 percent in East Asia, with heavy construction in China, South Korea, India, and Russia. (Notably though, the low end of that prediction does not include the possibility that Japan will fully disavow the use of nuclear in Fukushima's wake.)
It seems striking that a disaster that captured the world's full attention might have so little lingering effect. Gary Dyck, the head of nuclear fuel cycle and materials at IAEA, told Reuters that "we see [Fukushima] as a speed bump. "
Continue reading at IEEE Spectrum:

Ontario's Innumerate Environmental Commissioner's Latest Misguided Post

From the innumerate Mr. Miller's latest musings on the wonders of things that spin and shine:

Raising the Bar on Renewable Energy in Ontario - ECO Blog:
" If the government chooses the latter path, it won’t be embarking alone. Germany, which decided last year to entirely phase out it’s nuclear generating capacity, is forecasting a greater than 60 per cent share for non-hydro renewables by 2030 and Denmark intends to supply 100 per cent of its entire energy supply (electricity, heating, industry and transport) by renewable sources by 2050. While Ontario has yet to set such lofty goals, there may be a window of opportunity open next year when the government reviews whether a higher target for renewable electricity supply is warranted."
From the National Inventory Report filed in 2009 for Germany "...in the public electricity and heat production sector CO2 emissions have been growing again slightly since 1999."  Their emissions fell with the 2009 recession but returned to trend - increasing - after that.
Readers of this blog will know there are multiple indications Germany will abandon it's coals as it fails to control costs.

FirstEnergy looking into buying small nuclear reactor from Babcock & Wilcox

Utilities are looking at small modular reactors.  Several designs, intended to allow centralized manufacturing,  appear to be approaching submission to regulators for approval

FirstEnergy looking into buying small nuclear reactor from Babcock & Wilcox | cleveland.com:
"B&W is now working on the final designs of the reactor. It plans to submit a completed design for the reactor to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by the end of 2013. Licensing could take several years, but the NRC has already begun gearing up to handle what it thinks will be an influx of competing designs for small reactors.
B&W's Barberton facility is involved in the design of the small reactor, and the reactor could even be built there, said Chris Mowry, president of the B&W division that would produce the small reactor."
Read the entire article at cleveland.com:

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Economics Minister Rösler Backs Environment Minister Regarding Energy Prices

The German Energy Blog is not prone to hyperbole - so "reign in skyrocketing cost" caught my attention.

Economics Minister Rösler Backs Environment Minister Regarding Energy Prices « German Energy Blog:
"In view of the short comments of both ministers and the upcoming political summer break it seems too early to draw precise conclusions from the ministerial interviews, yet they seem to indicate that the government is trying to prepare the public for a slower implementation of the energy policy shift. How the government wants to reign in the skyrocketing cost remains, however, unclear."
Read the entire post at the German Energy Blog

Pascal Bruckner: Scorning the propaganda of fear

An article on a financial site covering a philosopher tackling current attitudes, and consequent politics, surrounding the environment and climate change.
Très Bon

Scorning the propaganda of fear:
"Intelligent responses to environmental degradation are therefore required rather than radical “belt-tightening” and “privation” in the form of a retreat from nuclear power and even domestic heating.
“There is this famous notion defended by the ecologists of ‘negawatts’: the best energy is that which we don’t expend,” the philosopher almost sneers.
“Yes, we need to make some savings. But wealth reproduces itself and life cannot simply be a subtraction. It is like saying ‘the best life is the life we don’t lead’. This is a kind of neo-Malthusianism.”"
Read the entire article at the Financial Review website

Second Candu gets restart nod

Second Candu gets restart nod:
"Canadian regulators have authorised the restart of the Point Lepreau nuclear power station at low power. The announcement comes days after Bruce A1, also undergoing major refurbishment, received permission to restart."

CNSC executive vice-president and chief regulatory operations officer Ramzi Jammal said that the regulator was satisfied that the operator had completed all the necessary safety tests required before removing measures that guaranteed the reactor’s safe shutdown state. "As the power gradually increases and before electricity is produced, additional safety checks and approvals will be necessary," he noted.
Continue Reading at World Nuclear News:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The UK's far-reaching energy plan: not perfect, but the only realistic road to decarbonisation

Capacity markets, long-term power purchase agreements, carbon pricing, and standards ... the European Energy Review site has an article by Jonathan Lane how detailing the issues surrounding the UK's approach to each of these current issues in it's energy bill.

The UK's far-reaching energy plan: not perfect, but the only realistic road to decarbonisation:
"The most controversial part of the UK government's latest draft energy bill, released in May 2012 and expected to be passed into law in the second half of 2012, are undoubtedly the measures known as the Electricity Market Reform (EMR). There are four major parts to the EMR:
1. A contracts-for-difference (CfD) scheme aimed at supporting investment in low carbon generation;
2. A capacity market where generators will be paid for having capacity available as well as generating electricity;
3. A carbon price floor ; and
4. An emissions performance standard (EPS) which will cap the carbon emissions of any new electric generation plant to be built in the UK"
Continue Reading at the European Energy Review site:

Sunday, July 22, 2012

CNSC OKs Bruce 1 nuclear power reactor restart

... the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) announced its decision to authorize Bruce Power to restart Unit 1. This authorization will allow Bruce Power to restart the reactor and bring it up to 50% of full power in order to perform several safety tests under the oversight of the CNSC. Bruce Power will also require CNSC approval to increase power further...

"The CNSC is satisfied that Bruce Power has completed all necessary safety tests in order to restart its newly refurbished Unit 1," said Ramzi Jammal, CNSC Executive Vice-President and Chief Regulatory Operations Officer. “CNSC staff will closely monitor all restart activities before electricity is produced. 
Full CNSC News Release
Bruce Power News Release  

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Texas Struggles to Keep Up With Power Demand

Texas is an interesting situation for those interested in the economics of electricity supply.  They are isolated and fighting for a functional market (not contracting supply or creating a capacity market).  This year they have raised the ceiling market price to $4500/MWh (from $3000).  Alberta is similar, although it has substantial intertie capacity, particularly with adjacent provinces (it's cap is also only $1000/MWh).
An issue in both is the addition of wind (which does have price exposure to markets in both) does not negate the need for other generation (as it can be absent when demand is highest), so the capacity factors drop elsewhere and potential suppliers have little visibility of how frequently their projects would be productive.
Thus the need to allow very high rates to encourage the construction of peaking capacity.

Texas Struggles to Keep Up With Power Demand — Energy | The Texas Tribune:
"It is almost August. That means Texans are avoiding the heat, air conditioners are cranking and electrical power demand is going through the roof.
Hopefully, the power will stay on.

United Arab Emirates Set to Build First Nuclear Power Plant

United Arab Emirates Set to Build First Nuclear Power Plant - IEEE Spectrum:
"The United Arab Emirates will be the first among Gulf region Arab states to build a nuclear power plant after getting past an important permitting barrier this week. The UAE's regulatory body, the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation, will grant a license for the country's first two nuclear reactors to be built near the Saudi Arabian border.
Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp. will spend $20 billion to build the power plant, construction for which has been contracted out to Korea Electric Power Corp. A total of four 1400 megawatt reactors are planned for the site eventually, and ENEC wants the first to be running within five years. By 2020, they want to provide as much as 20 percent of the country's power."
Continue reading at IEEE Spectrum

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ontario Converts Coal Plant to Biomass, Creates 200 Jobs

Atikokan facts.
It has rarely output any generation since summer 2011 (which was very dry in Ontario's northwest region).  
With an annual capacity factor of 3-4%, refurbishing it will save 90% of the almost nil emissions due to it not usually being fueled anyway.

Ontario Converts Coal Plant to Biomass, Creates 200 Jobs:
"Ontario is moving forward with the conversion of the Atikokan Generating Station from coal to biomass, creating 200 construction jobs and helping to protect existing jobs at the plant."

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Doubts Increasing about Germany's Switch to Renewable Energy

Spiegel Online has an article which indicates Merkel's government is lowering expectations for the immediate future, while holding onto long-term (post next year's election) goals.  

In contrast to the following quotes, Merkel is reportedly noting "global warming will accelerate at a dramatic rate unless leaders reach a deal on limiting greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible."
National Inventory reports show that between 2005, when Merkel was elected Chancellor, and 2010, Germany's greenhouse gas emissions fell 6 %.
As did the USA's
And Canada's.

Doubts Increasing about Germany's Switch to Renewable Energy - SPIEGEL ONLINE:
...two ministers, Environment Minister Peter Altmaier and Economy Minister Philipp Rösler, have cast doubt whether the targets are reachable and said their priority is to make sure that electricity prices don't rise too much.
Altmaier, a close ally of Merkel who took over the ministry after his predecessor Norbert Röttgen was sacked in May, on Sunday cast doubt on whether Germany will be able to cut its energy consumption by 10 percent by 2020 as planned -- a precondition for reaching the 35 percent renewables target that year.
"If we still want to manage that somehow it will take huge efforts," he told Bild am Sonntag newspaper. Altmaier said his ministry had made mistakes, that there had been a lack of coordination and that forecasts for electricity prices had had to be revised. He even warned that the energy revolution could lead to social problems if prices rose too high. "For me it's a priority that electricity remains affordable," he told the paper.
Continue reading at SPIEGEL ONLINE:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Korean Consortium exempt from transmission licencing requirements

In the beginning the project proponent was known as the Korean Consortium.
And it included Samsung and KEPCO.
KEPCO, South Korea's publicly owned electricity company, was the transmission expertise.  
Apparently the Korean Consortium's expertise is in getting exempted from following the onerous processes Hydro One must follow.

Renewable energy generator exempt from transmission licencing requirements : Canadian Energy Law:
"In an interesting case that has been winding its way through the Ontario Energy Board (OEB), Grand Renewable Wind LP (GRWLP) ― which was formed for the purpose of owning and operating a 153 MW wind facility in Haldimand County ― was exempted from the obligation to obtain a transmitter’s licence for transmission connection facilities it intends to develop and operate to convey its wind generation and solar energy generated by a related company, Grand Renewable Solar LP (GRSLP)."
Continue reading at the Canadian Energy Law site:

Illinois Green Lobby Fights Sane Consumer Pricing

My understanding of this story:

  • state passes a law for x% of all electricity to come from certain sources (we'll call them green)
  • big energy gives out big power purchase agreements to professional influence peddlars (Invernergy) for local 'green' generation
  • Consumer advocates win right to purchase power from other providers
  • other providers get certificates for 'green' source generation elsewhere.
  • Influence peddlars move cost of their contracts off of commodity charge of bills and into a tax on all users.

ComEd's loss of cities hurts wind, solar power facilities in Illinois - In Other News - Crain's Chicago Business:
"Chicago's recent move to join more than 100 suburbs in allowing residents to buy cheaper power than that offered by Commonwealth Edison Co. could kill the construction of any more wind farms or other large-scale renewable-energy facilities in Illinois, clean-energy companies say.
Two major state energy laws have combined in an unanticipated fashion to make new wind farms and large-scale solar facilities impossible to finance. One requires an increasing percentage of the power consumed here to come from clean sources. The other allows municipalities to buy cheap electricity in bulk on behalf of their constituents."

Monday, July 16, 2012

The best reporting on a Toronto Gas Plant Fiasco is in French

N'est pas Globe?
Quoi Up Star?

Centrale au gaz de Mississauga : Apparence de conflit d'intérêts | Ontario | Radio-Canada.ca:

Eastern Power et Greenfield South n'arrivaient pas à trouver de bâilleurs de fonds, malgré un contrat de 20 ans avec le gouvernement de l'Ontario pour l'approvisionnement en électricité.
En 2010, la firme Morgan Stanley leur a refusé un prêt de 335 millions.
De plus, deux des compagnies qui bénéficieront du dédommagement de la province sont des donateurs réguliers à la caisse électorale du Parti libéral de l'Ontario.
Eastern Power, et son sous-traitant, Aberlici Construction ont donné, ensemble, près de 20 000 dollars en cinq ans au Parti libéral de Dalton McGuinty.
  • 3000 dollars en 2007
  • 4000 dollars en 2008
  • 9000 dollars en 2009
  • 3000 dollars en 2010
En 2009, Eastern Power et Aberlici Construction ont fait don de 9000 dollars aux libéraux lors de l'élection partielle de Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock.
Eastern Power garde aussi le terrain de Mississauga et le gouvernement lui fait aussi presque don du nouveau site de Sarnia.
La compagnie n'aura qu'à payer un demi-million de dollars pour acquérir une parcelle de terre de 12 acres.
The full article can be read at Radio-Canada.ca ...
I'd like to thank Google products for allowing me to read it in English.

Friday, July 13, 2012

July 2012 Ontario Electricity Exports Bulletin - and Rebuttal

It's the time of the month we play the Energy Ministry Said, Scott Said

July 2012 Ontario Electricity Exports Bulletin:
"Ontario's electricity market generated over $16.5 million in June by exporting electricity to other states and provinces, bringing total net export revenues to almost $110 million this year."
That's nice.
And expenses on purchasing the power to export?

In June, for instance, that's on net exports of ~804,391MWh - which would mean exports were sold at an average rate of $20.50/MWh.

The lowest purchase price for power was probably for OPG's non-regulated hydro assets, which would have received about $23.14/MWh.   The exports are therefore not only sold at a loss even if they are considered to come from the cheapest supply, but removing the net export value from OPG's unregulated hydro production doesn't leave much output for the owners of OPG = aka the people of Ontario.

The people of Ontario will pay a little over $80/MWh.

SkyPower seeks $100M over Dalton McGuinty’s solar rejig

I noticed the feed-in tariff related Ministerial Directive to the Ontario Power Authority earlier this week (PDF on OPA site).  I sent a short e-mail out with my first thoughts on first glance:
- seems to put some teeth into local ownership provisions
- seems to slightly restrict land available for solar

It was already known that the process would be restarted necessitating applicant to re-apply under the new system, so I assume SkyPower had a number of projects without local ownership on sites containing some workable farmland, or on lands planned for the development as settlement areas in municipal plans.

SkyPower seeks $100M over Dalton McGuinty’s solar rejig | Canadian Politics | Canada | News | National Post:
The new dispute stems from the realization that the changes, which did not apply to already-approved projects, does in fact apply to those awaiting approval — those in the queue, to use Mr. Gilbert’s phrase.

Candu proposal would see four reactors burning MOX in Pu disposition program for NDA | i-NUCLEAR

More detail on the CANDU6e approach to entering the UK market.

Candu proposal would see four reactors burning MOX in Pu disposition program for NDA | i-NUCLEAR:
"The Candu Energy proposal to the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority for plutonium disposition envisions the use of four 700-MWe, generation III, Enhanced Candu 6 (EC6) reactors running on up to 100% mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel cores, a company spokeswoman said.
In less than 30 years, the four EC6 reactors could burn through the UK’s 112 tonnes of plutonium and then be available for another 30 years to run on more conventional fuels, reprocessed uranium stocks or more advanced fuels.
Candu Energy spokeswoman Katherine Ward said July 12 that the exact configuration of reactors and fuel mix would be considered in more detail as part of the study the NDA has contracted Candu Energy to perform."
The entire article can be read at the Independent Nuclear News site

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Conversation - Australian Experience Looks to be Matching Ontario's

Another article from Australia which displays similarities to Ontario in shrinking demand, declining market prices and escalating retail rates.    

The Conversation:
"In reducing my demand, I effectively create an oversupply in the market. And, as with any efficient market, prices respond with a signal to reduce supply. In fact recent market trends show that in addition to reducing the revenue in electricity sold by about $4, my turning off one 75 watt globe reduces the revenues of all other electricity sold by more than $10 across the year. So the net impost on the generator’s revenue is more than $14, most of which is profit.
Still not too much of a worry, unless of course I am not alone. Multiply my action by 7 million, or about 1 in every 3 Australians, and generator revenue would be down more than 100 million dollars on a net reduction in demand of 65 megawatts. That is about 1% of expected annual wholesale market bottom line, but a much higher percentage of generation profits. Multiply that again by a factor of 10, and we are talking of losses in the billions, and a potential bankrupting of some leading industry players.
And it is already happening."
Read the entire article at The Conversation

German government backtracks on the Energy Transition

Another article dealing with the challenges of Germany's Energiewende.  If furthers my suspicions that coal is, in fact, a much better compliment for renewables than natural gas.  Vattenfall's head is quoted as saying, "We cannot do without coal. You can call it a bridge technology, but then it is a hell of a long bridge."

German government backtracks on the Energy Transition:
"...policy reports about Germany's energy transition may sound impressive, but they have little to do with the everyday reality of German power supply. At present, nuclear power still makes up 18 percent of electricity supply, with renewables coming in at around 20 percent - and the remaining approximately 60 percent coming mainly from brown coal, anthracite, and natural gas. Indeed, the use of coal-fired power plants has been growing in Germany at the expense of more climate-friendly gas-fired capacity. In a recent report, Deutsche Bank predicts that 25% of German's gas-fired power plant capacity will be shut by 2015, and replaced by coal power."
The entire article can be read at the European Energy Review site:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Liberal campaign ordered Mississauga gas plant killed, Chris Bentley says ... and says very well

The Toronto Star's headline indicating Energy Minister Chris Bentley owned up to the politicization of electricity policy promised an article the wouldn't portray Mr. Bentley favourably.
I ended up appreciative that he owned up to it, leaving his questioner looking like an unprincipled opportunists.  Governments are legally elected and none of the parties should have campaigned on throwing away the peoples' commitment undertaken on the advice of professional system planners.

The Liberal re-election campaign — not the government — made the controversial $180 million decision to scrap a Mississauga gas-fired plant, admits Energy Minister Chris Bentley.
Testifying Wednesday at the legislature’s estimates committee, Bentley emphasized that the announcement came in “a Liberal Party press release” — not from the ministry.
“It was our intention that should we form the government to relocate the plant,” the minister said, stressing he was not running the Energy department at the time.
“I became the minister in October of 2011 and proceeded to implement the commitment that we made, which was exactly the same commitment that your party made, which was exactly the same commitment as the NDP made,” he told Progressive Conservative MPP Rob Leone (Cambridge).
Bentley noted because both the Tories and New Democrats also pledged to close the plant there would have been a cost to abandoning the Sherway Gardens-area plant.
The entire article can be read at thestar.com

It ends with Nanticoke rumours, building on a comment in my previous post, the Star now acknowledges the cost of a new pipeline to Nanticoke is working it's way into negotiating the costs of abandoning the Oakville plant.
Sources have told the Star it appears TransCanada could wind up with the contract to retrofit the massive Nanticoke coal-fired plant to natural gas and a new pipeline to fuel it as compensation for the Oakville matter.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Settlement to scrap Mississauga gas plant costs - and costly precedent

The Toronto Star article on the move of a a natural gas-fired generation plant from Mississauga to Lambton includes notification that the settlement may serve as a road map for a larger one.
Projects were already in the works for Lambton ... and Nanticoke.  The settlements punish public Ontario Power Generation for the government's adventures in privatization.

Liberals say settlement to scrap Mississauga gas plant cost $180M - thestar.com:
The only memory of Sir Adam Beck in T.O.
... Bentley said the Oakville situation remains unresolved.
“There are discussions going on with respect to the Oakville plant between the proponents and those discussions continue,” he said.
Sources told the Star it appears TransCanada could end up getting the contract to retrofit the massive Nanticoke coal-fired plant to natural gas and a new pipeline to fuel it as compensation for Oakville."
OPG was proceeding with post coal plans for both Lambton and Nanticoke.

Ontario moves Toronto's Planned Generation to Lambton.

The government has announced that the generation facility planned for the western GTA is being relocated to Lambton.

Statement from Ontario Minister of Energy:
"Today, I am pleased to announce that the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) has reached an agreement with Greenfield to relocate the plant. The government has accepted the OPA's recommendation to relocate the 300 megawatt natural gas plant on part of Ontario Power Generation's Lambton Generating Station site."
The total cost of relocation is approximately $180 million. This includes a settlement agreement with EIG, the financier of the Greenfield South Power project, on behalf of Greenfield, the OPA and the Province. The settlement is necessary in order to relocate the plant and resolves all outstanding legal proceedings. The total relocation cost also includes all payments made in relation to the original site, including construction costs, design costs, and permitting costs.
Read the entire press release here:

A tool to detect electricity drains in your home

The "Do the Math" blog provides a great perspective on reducing personal emissions.  It is data driven and can be technical, but some of the basic points I've gotten are it might be pretty simple to curtail driving instead of getting the ultimate gas guzzler - simpler to turn down the thermostat than invest in more efficient heating, etc.
The author of the blog, physics Professor Tom Murphy, shares his data detective experience.

TED-Stravaganza | Do the Math:
In Canada, TED can be bought here ($205)
TED is The Energy Detective. That same earlier post told the story of TED’s tortured journey to our home—a tale of excitement, rejection, and ultimate acceptance.
This post is not meant to convey anything deep and meaningful about the energy challenges we face, except for the fact that those challenges provided a background motivation for me to explore and monitor energy data in my home (it should be obvious by now that I’m a data-holic). Rather, I will simply showcase a number of data captures from TED so you can see for yourself the interesting hidden behaviors of appliances, and develop some intuition about how much of a toll various devices take."
Continue reading at 'Do the Math'

CSP sector accuses utilities of asking EU to back Spain FIT cuts

Rumours out of Spain lately circle around a tax on intermittent generators - with the government already have ceased new subsidies with generation capacity reportedly 3 times greater than maximum demand.
This particular report is strange, as CSP delivers a more predictable output than either wind or solar PV - but it is further indication that something is happening.

CSP sector accuses utilities of asking EU to back Spain FIT cuts - Politics - Renewable energy news - Recharge - wind, solar, biomass, wave/tidal/hydro and geothermal:
"Sources from the utilities confirmed that their representatives had taken part in the meeting with the European Commission’s director general for energy, Philip Lowe, but stressed that it had been organised by UNESA.
The association says in a statement that “the objective of the meetings has been to address the serious problem that the tariff deficit poses for the Spanish electrical system, caused principally by the generous subsidies that solar technologies receive".
UNESA adds that it informed European Commission officials about recent Spanish Supreme Court judgements which it claims have “dismissed the (legal) pretensions of the PV sector”.
“The high court affirms that the subsidies for these energies can be modified if the economic circumstances of the country have changed, and if there is a substantial increase in the tariff deficit.""
Continue reading at Recharge:

Monday, July 9, 2012

Logical Fallacies That Make You Wrong More Than You Think

Judith Curry picked up on an article from CRACKED, and added some comments relevant to the discussions featured on her Climate Etc. blog.  

Logical Fallacies That Make You Wrong More Than You Think | Cracked.com:
"The Internet has introduced a golden age of ill-informed arguments. You can't post a video of an adorable kitten without a raging debate about pet issues spawning in the comment section. These days, everyone is a pundit. 
But with all those different perspectives on important issues flying around, you'd think we'd be getting smarter and more informed. Unfortunately...
  1. We're Not Programmed to Seek "Truth," We're Programmed to "Win...
  2. Our Brains Don't Understand Probability...
  3. We Think Everyone's Out to Get Us...
  4. We're Hard-Wired to Have a Double Standard...
  5. Facts Don't Change Our Minds
Read more at Cracked.com, or at Climate Etc.

The Ruinous Privileges of Renewable Energy

Here's an article that interests me, but that I disagree with sections of strongly.
The similarities between Australia and Ontario, not only government activities in the energy sector, but the timelines for those actions, are striking.

Quadrant Online - The Ruinous Privileges of Renewable Energy:
"Household electricity prices in Australia have risen by more than 40 per cent since 2007, and are projected to rise by another 30 per cent by 2013–14. ...
In March 2009, Quadrant published our article “The Very High Price of PC Power”, which described the forces which were changing Australia from a nation which had enjoyed one of the lowest electricity cost regimes in the developed world, to one where electricity prices would become amongst the highest. All of our predictions have been fulfilled."

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Europe Burns Coal Fastest Since 2006 in Boost for U.S.

Bloomberg reports on the growing use of coal - in Europe

Europe Burns Coal Fastest Since 2006 in Boost for U.S. - Businessweek:
"Europe is burning coal at the fastest pace since 2006, as surging imports from U.S. producers such as Arch Coal Inc. (ACI) (ACI) helped cut prices 26 percent in a year and benefited European power companies including EON AG.
Demand for coal, the dirtiest fuel for making electricity, grew 3.3 percent last year in Europe while sales of less- polluting natural gas fell 2.1 percent, the steepest drop since 2009, according to a BP Plc report. Germany’s EON and RWE AG (RWE), the biggest utilities in Europe’s largest power market, are considering shutting unprofitable gas-fired plants even as Chancellor Angela Merkel promotes gas to replace nuclear energy.
Europe’s higher coal use defies its policies to penalize carbon emissions and is based on profit margins climbing to a two-and-a-half year high for coal-burning power stations, data compiled by Bloomberg Industries show. Cheaper coal was made possible partly by a 49 percent jump in first-quarter imports from the U.S., Energy Information Administration data show."
Read the entire article at the Businessweek website:

This report is not news to everybody.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Solar Stories from Europe, Economic Lessons for Ontario

There are 3 solar articles the caught my attention in the past couple of days.  Two articles centred on Germany balance views on the costs/benefits of solar policies there, while a third from Germany displays the enormous market challenges presented by the large solar capacity that produces only a small share of overall power requirements.

Spiegel Online's Germans Cough Up for Solar Subsidies covers many of the multiple criticisms of Germany's solar policies, but also reports on some of the back-room influence peddling/profiteering driving up household energy costs in Germany (for Ontario similarities see Parker Gallant's multiple articles, but particularly Environmental "Don" or "El Hefe" of Sustainable Energy)

Monday, July 2, 2012

A TED Talk Too Far

In May millionaire Nick Hanauer gave a short TED Talk.

It's a provocative talk, which was followed by nothing from the TED folks (Technology Entertainment and Design), including, notably, not posting a video of the Talk ... which provoked additional communication with media outlets.  Time's article on the events was title "Was Nick Hanauer's TED Talk on Income Inequality Too Rich for Rich People?"

Basically Mr. Hanauer said that rich people don't create jobs.  When TED didn't post the video it was suggested rich people, no matter how strong their desire to be forward-thinking liberal minds, don't post videos arguing they should be taxed more.