Friday, September 28, 2012

Loop Flows, Surging Consumer Costs and Capacity Payments Signal End of Honeymoon Period for Renewables

A number of recent articles deal with the market/supply challenges (put mildly) of the increased presence of uncontrollably intermittent renewable generation in energy mixes.  The articles appear to be precipitated by leaks from a pending EU Commission report

FAZ/EWI Energy Conference: Oettinger on Harmonsation of Renewable Support, EEG Surcharge, Loop Flows, Capacity Markets « German Energy Blog:
"The EU Commission is becoming increasingly displeased with Germany’s energy policy and its lack of European coordination, the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) writes. Climate protection and energy efficiency could be better promoted on a larger scale than by individual national measures, EU Energy Commissionar Günther Oettinger said at an energy conference organised by FAZ and the Institute of Energy Economics at the University of Cologne (EWI)."
The article notes Oettinger concurs with a recent Deutsche Bank assessment of the renewables surcharge Germany's residents pay:
...the EEG surcharge could otherwise not only rise from 3.592 ct/kWh in 2012 to approximately 5 ct/kWh in 2013 as widely predicted, but to 6 or 7 ct/kWh and including VAT something like 9 ct/kWh, endangering public support for renewable energy

Analysis of Cost of Moving TransCanada Generating Station From Oakville to Lennox

The following post is written by Bruce Sharp.  
"Bruce Sharp. P. Eng, an energy consultant with 25 years of experience in the Ontario energy industry ".
TransCanada Energy (TCE) 900 MW Natural Gas – Fired Generating Station
Analysis of Cost of Moving From Oakville to Lennox
Bruce Sharp, P. Eng.

Results Summary


The following additional costs occur – now or in current dollars – as a result of moving the project.
  • $ 40 million Relocation 
  • $ 88 million Turbine payment, excess
  • $152 million Gas Delivery and Management Services (GDMS) 
  • $280 million Total


Other, unknown costs include some or all of gas pipeline and electrical interconnection costs and payments made to Ontario Power Generation (OPG).

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Toyota drops plan for widespread sales of electric car

Toyota drops plan for widespread sales of electric car | Reuters:
(Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp has scrapped plans for widespread sales of a new all-electric minicar, saying it had misread the market and the ability of still-emerging battery technology to meet consumer demands.
Toyota, which had already taken a more conservative view of the market for battery-powered cars than rivals General Motors Co and Nissan Motor Co, said it would only sell about 100 battery-powered eQ vehicles in the United States and Japan in an extremely limited release.
The automaker had announced plans to sell several thousand of the vehicles per year when it unveiled the eQ as an pure-electric variant of its iQ minicar in 2010....
"The current capabilities of electric vehicles do not meet society's needs, whether it may be the distance the cars can run, or the costs, or how it takes a long time to charge," said, Uchiyamada, who spearheaded Toyota's development of the Prius hybrid in the 1990s.
Read the entire article at Reuters

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Germany Wind Statistics Lack Integrity ... but Production is Probably Down.

The latest reports of numbers from "The Federal Association of the Energy and Water Industry (BDEW)" indicate wind production over the first 7 months of 2012 down from the same period in 2011.
If you want a big number for German wind production, pick BDEW.  The report 29.697TWh of generation over the first half of the year (up slightly from a reported 29.385 TWh).

I noted a variety of numbers are available for Germany in a recent post on my original content blog.

Don't like wind, pick ENTSO-E.  10.234TWh (down from 20.69TWh)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Regarding The Real Cost of Electricity and Who gets the BIG Money!

This is comment I made on Parker Gallant's article on the Wind Concerns Ontario site.

Parker, your recent The Real Cost of Electricity and Who gets the BIG Money! cited some numbers in the 2011 Yearbook of Distributors that surprised, and troubled, me.

$10,361 million is an interesting number for “Cost of Power and Related Costs.” It’s interesting as the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) reported an average Hourly Ontario Energy Price (weighted) of $31.47/MWh on a total market of 154.3 million MWh, plus a total Global Adjustment of $5,309.6 million, which constitutes a total market value of only $10,149 million. I am of the impression the global adjustment contains all payments for conservation and supply, so it’s a little disconcerting that the figure you note in the OEB Yearbook is over $200 million higher than the IESO figures would indicate.

You reference the yearbook total of 126.2 TWh, and that is close to what the IESO 18-month outlook shows for LDC (local distribution company) consumption for 2011 (table 3.3.3 tab of this spreadsheet).  That figure does include line losses and “generator consumption”, but not ~16TWh of ‘wholesale’ customer consumption, or the 12.8TWh of exports. The OEB Yearbook and IESO statistics don’t totally agree (due to billing cycles), but they are close and the total market (all generation plus all imports, or all consumption, line losses and exports) is ~28-29TWh greater than the LDC totals.

So the LDC figures you cite collect more than the value of the entire market ($10.36 billion of  $10.15 billion), but the LDC’s are only about 82% of the total market.

European Governments Taking Wind Problems Seriously

Renewable International has a blog entry today that notes an exchange between "Torsten Albig, Minister-President of the German state of Schleswig-Holstein" and "German Environmental Minister Peter Altmaier"
Albig told German Environmental Minister Peter Altmaier, “we aim to have 300% renewable power by 2020, and ours will be cheaper than wind power in the south,” where there is less wind. Altmaier’s response was interesting: “I believe you can go 300% renewable, but what will you do with the other 200%?” he asked Albig. “I currently have 14 of the 16 German states wanting to be 100% renewable by 2020, so who is going to buy your exports?”
The figures they are referring to must be for capacity.  Germany has a target of 35% of electricity  coming from renewable sources by 2020.  In order to achieve that, they would require far more renewable capacity than the average demand (due to capacity factors for renewables ranging from 10-35%).  Altmaier is aware that even with "300%" renewable power Germany will continue to need controllable traditional generation; the majority of that capacity currently under construction will be fueled by hard coal (BNetzA .xls).

Blow-by-Blow PV System Efficiency: A Case Study for Storage

The "Do The Math" blog is always interesting - the latest provides efficiency figures on his DIY-solar set-up, with a comparison of "off-grid" to "on-grid" efficiency.

Blow-by-Blow PV System Efficiency: A Case Study for Storage | Do the Math:
The primary result is that I only get to use 62% of the energy delivered by my panels. The comparable number for a grid-tied system is something like 87–90% (inverter efficiency). My system suffers an additional 87% efficiency factor due to its full-tummy effect. This is close to the grid-tied inverter efficiency, so we can say that a panel in a small-scale off-grid system will likely deliver only something like 60–65% as much total energy as a grid-tied panel.
Continue Reading at 'Do the Math'

Monday, September 17, 2012

Why the difference between carbon taxes and cap-and-trade isn’t as important as you think

An interesting article on carbon policies which, I think, gets the conclusions wrong.

Why the difference between carbon taxes and cap-and-trade isn’t as important as you think - Business, Econowatch -
In the case of the carbon tax, the money goes to the government. But if output is capped at Q1, that difference is pure profit: a permit to produce one unit of output allows its owner to collect a rent equal to to the difference between the selling price and the cost of production. If permits are traded, their price will be bid up so that their price will be equal to T. So where that money goes depends on how the permits are allocated in the first place. If the permits are simply given to existing emitters, then those profits are pocketed by the firms. If the permits are auctioned off, the price will be bid up to T, and the government gets the money.
So if permits are auctioned off by the government, then cap-and-trade and a carbon tax are equivalent: same quantities, same prices, and the government gets revenues equal to the area in the green rectangle in the graphs.
Read the article at

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Shipping gas to Asia a race against time, B.C.’s Clark says

The goals of BC's carbon tax disappear quickly in a market environment where, as Forbes notes,  Japan is "paying close to $20/Mmbtu compared to $2/MMBtu on U.S. Henry Hub"

Shipping gas to Asia a race against time, B.C.’s Clark says - The Globe and Mail:
Canadian liquefied natural gas could begin shipments to Asia in as little as three years, B.C. premier Christy Clark said in China this week, in what she warned is a race against time to capture a highly competitive market.
“These companies have to lock up their long-term contracts with their Asian customers now. If they are thrown off by five years, it will be too late,” Ms. Clark said in a telephone interview from near the Great Wall just before returning to Canada this week. She has said one terminal, most likely the Apache-led consortium for which ground is now being cleared at Kitimat, will be operational by late 2015 or early 2016, with at least two more and possibly up to five running by 2020
Continue reading at The Globe and Mail:

Friday, September 14, 2012

Japan Draws Curtain on Nuclear Energy Following Germany - Bloomberg

An announcement on policy in Japan of a nuclear exit ... and a restart of more of their idled reactors.

Japan Draws Curtain on Nuclear Energy Following Germany - Bloomberg:
Japan plans to scrap atomic power by the end of the 2030s, bowing to public pressure after the Fukushima nuclear disaster caused mass evacuations and left areas north of Tokyo uninhabitable for decades.
The country’s first post-Fukushima energy policy approved today by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda means the country will join Germany in abandoning the power source that helped both countries build world-beating economies and models for development from the destruction of World War II."
While the meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501)reactors in 2011 led nations from China to France to review atomic policies, including the phase-out ordered by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, countries including Britain affirmed plans to rely more on atomic power. Even Japan’s new policy will allow idled reactors to restart during the 27-year wind-down period.
“A whole generation of Japanese will grow up during this transition,” said Vicente López-Ibor, president of Estudio Juridico Internacional, an energy law firm in Madrid. “They will have to decide which renewable-energy technologies should be used, such as offshore wind farms, and consider shale gas too.
Read the full article at Bloomberg

Why wind producers can pay us to take their power - and why it is a bad thing

Matthew Wald's "An Argument Over Wind" post on the NY Times Green blog today notes the NorthBridge Group study out today, commissioned by Exelon, demonstrating the impact of wind energy on market pricing: 
As a matter of both economics and public policy, no government production tax subsidy should ever be so large that it creates an incentive for a business to actually pay customers to take its product. Yet, the federal Production Tax Credit (“PTC”) for wind generation is doing just that with increasing frequency in electricity markets across the United States. In some “wind-rich” regions of the country, wind producers are paying grid operators to take their generation during periods of surplus supply. But wind producers more than make up the cost of the “negative price” payment, because they receive a $22/MWH federal production tax credit for every MWH generated.
The NY Times article primarily deals with the Production Tax Credit subsidy, but the issues appear in markets where the primary subsidy is a feed-in-tariff (the quotas of renewable energy standards too, but the PTC accompanies these in many US states)

Is the government gas plan going to bust the UK's carbon targets?

Duncan Clark's article at the Guardian's Environment Blog includes his opinion that movement towards natural gas-fired electricity generation are not being driven by long term thinking, but more immediate concerns of keeping on the lights in the next few years.

Is the government gas plan going to bust the UK's carbon targets? | Environment |
...what's going on here? It's hard to say. One possibility is that Decc officials haven't yet come to terms with the fact that their best-laid plans are going to be railroaded by the gas-loving Treasury. Another is that Decc has skilfully trodden a line between keeping the Treasury satisfied on the one hand while protecting the carbon budgets on the other.
My own hunch, however, is that the recent statements on gas have been driven less by the Treasury and more – rightly or wrongly – by a fear about keeping the lights on in the next five years. In a recent briefing, a senior figure in UK energy world told me that on current trends, spare capacity in the UK grid would get worrying low in a few years' time. The only way to be sure of reliable power supply in the short term, he said, would be to build more gas plants but this wasn't happening due to the uncertain investment climate – including for example lack of clarity on 'capacity payments' paid to owners of gas power plants that end up serving mainly as backup for renewables.
Read the entire article at

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Ontario a tiny little Step Closer to Eliminating Dirty Coal

Ontario is taking steps to make Atikokan cleaner by converting it from not running on coal to not running on biomass

Ontario One Step Closer to Eliminating Dirty Coal:
Ontario is taking the next step in eliminating coal-fired power generation. Yesterday, the Atikokan Generating Station burned its last piece of coal, helping ensure cleaner air and a healthier future for families.
The figures I've been gathering show that in the past 2 years Atikokan produced approximately 96000MW, or about 2.6% of it's theoretical maximum (the capacity factor).

The 12-month moving average price in the regional "node" is showing hope of moving above zero.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Shell's Pearl proves its worth, but it's early days yet for gas-to-liquids

An extensive article on the importance of Shell's Pearl gas-to-liquids (GTL) project celebrates the success of that project, but also notes the impact on traditional oil markets will be minimal, at least through 2020.

Shell's Pearl proves its worth, but it's early days yet for gas-to-liquids:
The successful launch of Shell's giant Pearl gas-to-liquids (GTL) project in Qatar has demonstrated not just that GTL technology works at large scale, but also that its economics can be very attractive indeed. So, after a decade of disappointments, and in an era of structurally high oil prices and increasingly abundant natural gas, the GTL industry is looking forward to a more promising future. However, with the technology leaders Shell and Sasol jealously guarding their secrets, and other technologies yet to be tested at scale, growth will be constrained by the availability of proven technology."
In 2002 Shell executive Rob Dakers arrived in the Qatari capital Doha to single-handedly set up a new office for the company. His first tasks, he says, were to recruit a secretary to support him and to get the phones connected up.

Shell's low-profile return to Qatar was ironic given that in 1971 it had discovered the massive offshore gas field on which Qatar's ambitious natural gas developments have been founded. Shell had left the country before the North Field gas boom got under way, but was returning to invest in what is now the single largest energy project in Qatar and one of the largest in the world: Pearl GTL
Continue Reading at European Energy Review:

Monday, September 10, 2012

More wind power needs better forecasting ... and more traditional capacity

This is an informative article.  I found it interesting that the writer, Gerard Wynn, is noted as being a Reuters analyst, but this work is cited as his own.
The article perhaps lacked the certainly on 'news', or perhaps conflicts with the Thomson world-view.

More wind power needs better forecasting | ArabNews:
LONDON: One way to cut the cost of greater reliance on wind power is to improve day-ahead weather forecasting, to make it less expensive for grid operators to balance national demand and supply.

As countries seek to meet renewable energy targets, extra costs include subsidies, direct grid connection, backup reserves to cover intermittency and short-term grid balancing.

Short-term balancing adds costs both for grid operators, which have to pay power plants to turn off or to meet excess demand, and for generators switching on and off units designed for constant, baseload operation.

Renewable power will add to balancing costs by increasing uncertainty, for example when excess wind power has to be shut down on windy days or is dispatched to the grid unexpectedly.
Wind power in particular has an impact because its access to the grid is all but guaranteed, as a power source with zero marginal costs that can force out thermal fossil fuel generation.

Asian Water Scarcity Risked as Coal-Fired Power Embraced

An interesting article in Bloomberg on the strong connection between electricity generation and water usage.  The selected quotation is from a section of the article titled "Investor Risk" - which seems applicable to both the risk investors take, and and the risk of having the investors investing in coal-fired generation.

Asian Water Scarcity Risked as Coal-Fired Power Embraced - Bloomberg:
“Power is a very good example of the risk investors can potentially face,” Giulio Boccaletti, a partner heading McKinsey’s water resource economics practice, said in an Aug. 30 interview. “A problem with water can leave you with a stranded asset.”
China and India account for than 60 percent of the world’s coal-fired power plants on the drawing boards by 2035, capable of producing about 805 gigawatts. China’s alone will consume 82 billion cubic meters of water a year by 2030, second only to the nation’s farmers, McKinsey & Co. forecast.
More than half of existing and planned power plants by the biggest publicly traded companies in India and Southeast Asia are in areas likely to face water shortages, according to the World Resources Institute in Washington, which maps water risks for industries. Little data is collected by companies or their investors on what that means for projects with a 40-year lifespan, the U.S.-based researcher said in a report.
Asian Water Scarcity Risked as Coal-Fired Power Embraced - Bloomberg:

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Deutsche Bank Sees Germany's renewables surcharge over 10 cents/kWh (US) by 2014

Estimates for a steep increase in the EEG reallocation charge have been around for a while - Deutsche Bank sees the highest estimates for 2013 and raises with another steep increase estimated for 2014 (one Euro currently costs about $1.25 Canadian or US dollars) 

German environment minister has presented a 10-point energy programme:
The EEG reallocation charge (EEG-Umlage) will increase to around 6 cents per kWh (2012: 3.59 Ct/kWh) in 2013 and perhaps 8 Ct/kWh in 2014 (own calculations), whereas in 2011 Chancellor Merkel promised a limit of 3.5 Ct/kWh for the future.
The headline I selected due to an informative, if slanted article where I picked up the link to the Deutsch Bank statement:  German renewables surcharge designed to skyrocket.

Out of the Nuclear Closet

A blunt assessment, from nuclear supporters, of the requirements for a nuclear renaissance.

Out of the Nuclear Closet - By Jessica Lovering, Ted Nordhaus, and Michael Shellenberger | Foreign Policy:
As long as nuclear technology is characterized by enormous upfront capital costs, it is likely to remain just a hedge against overdependence on lower-cost coal and gas, not the wholesale replacement it needs to be to make a serious dent in climate change. Developing countries need large plants capable of bringing large amounts of new power to their fast-growing economies. But they also need power to be cheap. So long as coal remains the cheapest source of electricity in the developing world, it is likely to remainking.
The most worrying threat to the future of nuclear isn't the political fallout from Fukushima -- it's economic reality. 
Read the entire article at Foreign Policy

Friday, September 7, 2012

Private Households Pay EUR 937 Million in VAT on EEG Surcharge

The EEG surcharge is Germany's method of recovering the cost of contracted power (feed-in tariffs).  The Left is a party currently polling in single digits.
It will be interesting to see if identifying the dual regressive mechanisms of shifting energy costs to households, and the VAT consumption tax, gains them support.

Private Households Pay EUR 937 Million in VAT on EEG Surcharge « German Energy Blog:
Private German households will pay EUR 937 million in value added tax in 2012 on the EEG surcharge that is part of the electricity bill, the German Finance Ministry told The Left Party upon an interpellation...
Katja Kipping, co-leader of The Left, demanded to return the VAT on the EEG surcharge to consumers. The money had to go into a fund for a social energy policy shift, she added, saying that her party wanted to introduce a scrapping bonus of EUR 100 for households that replace energy guzzling household appliances by more efficient ones and wanted to set aside money for hardship cases, in which households were behind on payments of the electricity bills.
Read the full blog post at the German Energy Blog

EU's greenhouse gas emissions down 2.5% in 2011

I think this mainly says Europe's emissions were down because temperatures were up - but I particularly like the message that sectors outside the Emissions Trading System (ETS) declined at a far greater rate than the sectors within the ETS.

EU's greenhouse gas emissions down 2.5% in 2011:
The European Union's (EU) greenhouse gas emissions fell by 2.5% in 2011 despite higher coal consumption, according to new estimates from the European Environment Agency (EEA).
The economic sectors not covered by the EU Emission Trading System (EU ETS) reduced emissions by approximately 3.1%.
The full article may be read at

China’s Roads-to-Subways Construction Spurs Stocks Rally - Bloomberg

Sounds like plans for some appropriate transit for dense urban areas one day was not nearly as popular with traders as lots of roads the next.

China’s Roads-to-Subways Construction Spurs Stocks Rally - Bloomberg:
China approved plans to build 2,018 kilometers (1,254 miles) of roads, spurring the biggest stock- market rally in almost eight months on signs the government is stepping up stimulus efforts to revive economic growth...
The Shanghai Composite Index closed 3.7 percent higher, led by construction stocks, on speculation infrastructure spending will help bolster growth that’s cooled to the slowest pace in three years. The announcements came a day after approvals for subway projects in 18 cities, an earlier rise in the railway- building budget and increases in land supplies in cities including Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai.
Read the entire article at Bloomberg

Japan Axing Nuclear for Renewables Means Missing Carbon Goal - Bloomberg

Bloomberg has an extensive article on issues connected to decisions Japan is making on nuclear energy policy.  The impression left is that the government may get re-elected by moving off of nuclear altogether, but the drain of energy-intensive, and if mildly intensive business would continue, greenhouse gas emissions would continue to escalate, and more utilities would be incapable of continuing financially (TEPCO already having been nationalized).
I suspect many elderly Japanese own shares in those utilities, and wiping out the wealth in the utilities will cause as many social problems as dividing the country among those with FiT contracts, and those without.
No easy answers ... no yen for the yen

Phasing out nuclear power in Japan will cost the country the equivalent of $622 billion to build a power grid around renewable energy and means it will fail to meet a target to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
That’s an estimate from the government as it mulls going ahead with a recommendation made yesterday by its own advisory body to eliminate use of atomic power, an option favored in public opinion polls, in its first post-Fukushima energy policy.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has called a press conference this evening in Tokyo when he may follow the advice of the ruling party advisory board and phase out nuclear plants over the next two decades. That would require more use of fossil fuels as wind and solar plants are built, meaning Japan won’t meet a pledge to cut greenhouse gases 25 percent over the three decades starting in 1990.
“There is no doubt the government will scrap the 25 percent target,” Keigo Akimoto at the Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth wrote in an e-mail response to questions. Without nuclear, Japan would have to buy 320 million tons of overseas emission credits a year to meet the target and the public won’t accept that amid higher sales taxes and electricity tariffs, the researcher said.
Continue reading at Bloomberg

Video View of an Endangered Program Cutting Energy Waste

This video seems appropriate to post in honour of the New Democratic Party's victory in the Kitchener-Waterloo by-election yesterday.
I am fairly certain the late Jack Layton would enthusiastically approve of programs like this - and hope Mr. Tabuns and Ms. Horwath would too.

Video View of an Endangered Program Cutting Energy Waste -
Two years ago I set out to make a five minute film on the history of the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) for a joint project of the State & Local Energy Report magazine and the National Association for State Community Service Programs. As we started collecting footage, stories, and artifacts from the program, what emerged was a compelling story of people who work day in and day out to make the homes of low-income Americans safe, affordable and energy efficient. It turned into a two-year project and a 50-minute film.

The entire article is at dot earth on the NYTimes site

Alpha dog flies plane to parent cranes

I would think there are less photogenic activities Russia's president could initiate that would benefit the endangered crane.
The Siberian cranes are in rapid declinewith estimated numbers in the region of 2,900-3,000. Their listing as critically endangered is the highest category of threat before extinction used by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Putin pilots hang-glider to lead endangered cranes on migration route | World news |
Picture from the Guardian
Putin has communed with wild animals several times as part of an effort to create the image of a clean-living, nature-loving person during his 12 years as Russia's paramount leader.
This time around, he donned a baggy white costume with a spacious helmet and goggles and flew in a motorised deltaplane light aircraft surrounded by several young cranes that were born in captivity in order to help introduce them to the wild.
"They got used to it. They are not afraid, they are overtaking the deltaplane," a smiling Putin said after landing.
"They are overtaking, approaching the wing from the left, from the right, from above. Well done. Beautiful guys. Cute. They are three months old but already quite big.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Mowat Centre Report Advocates New Approach to Canadian Energy Research & Development

I saw this report referenced in the Globe and Mail article, but recommend those with an interest in structuring research and development programs to skip the filters and go straight to the Mowat Centre.  My quick impression is very favourable 

Smarter and Stronger: Taking Charge of Canada's Energy Technology Future:
This report highlights the need for Canada and Ontario to make energy technology policy a top priority and reform their approaches to supporting energy R&D.Becoming an energy technology leader should be a concrete policy commitment from both orders of government. That commitment should span the whole energy system, from supply to end-use."
A quick skim through the report is probably unfair for me to review that document, but I did get significant satisfaction from the comments on feed-in tariffs (my main criticisms are here and here).

ScienceDebate 2012: Q & A with US Presidential Candidates

The two main Presidential candidates answer 14 questions pertaining to science and technology

"Whenever the people are well-informed," Thomas Jefferson wrote, "they can be trusted with their own government."
Science now affects every aspect of life and is an increasingly important topic in national policymaking. invited thousands of scientists, engineers and concerned citizens to submit what they felt were the the most important science questions facing the nation that the candidates for president should be debating on the campaign trail.
Read the answers from Barack Obama and Mitt Romney at

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Argument Over the Value of Solar Focuses on Spain

News of an upcoming study evaluating the Energy Return on Investment (EROI) of solar PV includes an interesting evaluation of methods with higher EROI.
I get the message that projects with low EROI are being built because the costs of the fossil fuels invested is still cheap - so the cheap solar PV we hear promised will bump fossil fuels is actually the PV that utilizes fossil fuels the most.
That seems to be why it's the cheapest.

"Coauthored by ecologist Charles A.S. Hall and Spanish telecom and solar systems engineer Pedro A. Prieto, the book is a case study of Spain's utility-scale installations of photovoltaics. It will be, the authors claim, the first comprehensive analysis of large-scale PV based on data rather than models. Hall—a professor at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, in Syracuse—formalized the concept of EROI more than 40 years ago, as the energy yielded by an energy-gathering activity divided by the energy invested in that activity.

While mum on their EROI numbers, Hall and Prieto say the book will demonstrate that building and operating PV requires considerably more energy than its promoters claim. And, they add, fossil fuels provide the bulk of the energy investment. "The conclusion is that solar PV systems are very much underpinned by a fossil fuel society," says Prieto. "
Prieto cites two dozen energy inputs left out of many life-cycle analyses of photovoltaic systems. He witnessed these inputs directly while building one of Spain's earliest utility-scale solar facilities—a 1-megawatt plant in Extremadura that began operating in 2006—and while supporting subsequent PV installations. The factors include construction of roads, water pipes, and transmission lines to serve the often-remote solar sites, and even international flights to get on-site help from specialist engineers. 

All told, says Prieto, the result could be an EROI figure even lower than the already controversial EROI of 6.8 that Hall previously cited for PV
Read the full article at IEEE Spectrum:

Tol on Stern: an exercise... in policy-based evidence making

This article caught my eye primarily as a paper on economics by an MP (Peter Lilley is a British Conservative Party MP) getting a forward written by Benjamin Tol.  
That it is published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), and released on the same day as a UK Cabinet shuffle, is also interesting.

Was Stern 'wrong for the right reasons' ... or just wrong? • The Register:
"For an issue that is discussed in stark moral terms – good guys favour cutting carbon emissions, and bad guys don't – things are not what they seem, suggests former Cabinet Minister Peter Lilley. Poverty is the greatest killer on the planet, robbing societies of the ability to protect themselves, and look after their most vulnerable. A legacy of our obsession to cut carbon dioxide emissions aggressively may be to trap billions in poverty, and the avoidable suffering that goes with it."
Read the article at The Register ...

Guangzhou Moves to Limit New Cars

I previously referenced an article about transit is a Chinese city when I noted "The De-Bikification of Beijing"
This is a very big change, and one that might be a factor in lower imports of crude/oil into China.

Guangzhou Moves to Limit New Cars -
"measures have the potential to help clean up China’s notoriously dirty air and water, reduce long-term health care costs and improve the long-term quality of Chinese growth. But they are also imposing short-term costs, economists say, at a time when policy makers in Beijing and around the world are already concerned about a sharp economic slowdown in China.
“Of course from the government’s point of view, we give up some growth, but to achieve better health for all citizens, it is definitely worth it,” said Chen Haotian, the vice director of Guangzhou’s top planning agency.
Nanjing and Hangzhou in east-central China are moving to require cleaner gas and diesel. Cities near the coast, from Dongguan and Shenzhen in southeastern China to Wuxi and Suzhou in the middle and Beijing in the north, are pushing out polluting factories. And Xi’an and Urumqi in northwestern China are banning and scrapping cars built before 2005, when automotive emissions rules were less stringent.
“There’s a recognition finally that growth at all costs is not sustainable"
Read the entire article at

Monday, September 3, 2012

Australia's Victoria set to slash rooftop solar FIT level

Australia's Victoria set to slash rooftop solar FIT level - Finance - Renewable energy news - Recharge - wind, solar, biomass, wave/tidal/hydro and geothermal:
"The Australian state of Victoria is to slash its solar feed-in tariff (FIT) to A$0.08/kWh ($0.082) from A$0.25/kWh effective from 1 January 2013."
State energy minister Michael O’Brien announced the cut today as part of a policy to widen the remit of the FIT beyond solar to include all renewables and low-emissions deployments of less than 100kW.
From the beginning of 2013, the new tariff will pay owners of rooftop PV systems a minimum of A$0.08/kWh for their exported electricity.
The rate will be updated each year in line with the wholesale electricity price...
The entire article, which can be read at, notes:
"Australia’s Clean Energy Council says the solar industry is bracing itself for yet another boom-bust cycle following Victoria’s decision."
In my opinion exorbitant FIT offers are exactly what has been driving boom-bust cycles.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

One gram of “garbage” per day: we should all be so lucky

The Canadian Energy Issues blog has an appendix, of sorts, for an article on nuclear waste in the Toronto Star.  Both are worthwhile reading.  
I will note the Star's description of  waste that would fill "six NHL hockey rinks, stacked up as high as the boards," basically states all spent fuel could fit in a single, typical, warehouse.

One gram of “garbage” per day: we should all be so lucky | Canadian Energy Issues:
"Yesterday’s Toronto Star carried a curiously soft-hitting front page headline about nuclear “waste,” which while trumpeting the fact that Canada has produced over 2 million bundles of it—which sounds like a lot—gives no point of comparison with the waste products of other types of power plants. If comparators had been presented in the article, the picture would be more accurate.
Those 2 million used nuclear fuel bundles, each weighing about 20 kilograms, collectively weigh 40 million kilograms, or 40,000 metric tons. That’s from over four decades of operation."
If you think 40,000 tonnes over four decades is a lot, here is a point of comparison the Star could have provided. Gas-fired power plants in Ontario have dumped more than 5,300 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) between midnight September 1 and and 0830 September 2. They will likely have surpassed nuclear spent fuel by midnight tonight, i.e. within a single day. Every year they dump literally millions of tons into the air. Operators of gas-fired power plants simply could not keep the stuff on site; at a production rate of thousands of tons of it per day, there is just too much of it. So it gets dumped into our air, where it swirls around for hundreds of thousands of years before dissolving in ocean water, making it more acidic.
Read the entire article at Canadian Energy Issues:

How to Succeed in Journalism when You Can't Afford an Internship

George Monbiot referenced the essay on Twitter.  
It is an appropriate read for a Labour Day weekend..

How to Succeed in Journalism when You Can't Afford an Internship | Random House of Canada:
"To be a writer in this market requires not only money, but a concept of “work” that is most easily gained from privilege. It requires a sense of entitlement, the ability to network and self-promote without seeing yourself as an arrogant, schmoozing blowhard. And it requires you to think of working for free—at an internship, say, or on one of those gratis assignments that seem to be everywhere now—as an opportunity rather than an insult or a scam.
This is no longer an industry that rewards working-class values, in other words, and I underestimated how hard it would be to shuck them. It still seems strange to me that people work, unpaid, without a guaranteed job at the end. And I haven’t reconciled myself with the central irony here: that journalism, ostensibly a populist endeavour, is becoming a rarefied practice best suited, both financially and psychologically, to the well-off."
Read Alesandra Kimball's essay at Random House of Canada