Tuesday, September 30, 2014

U.S. Regulators OK 330-mile Canada-NYC transmission line

This is good for Quebec, long term.

It is also good for New York, which should see slightly lower rates, but maybe only for a while.

New York's Governor wants to close nuclear, and that will more than cancel out the consumer benefits of improved connections with other jurisdictions.

Regulators OK 330-mile Canada-NYC transmission line:
Image from source article
Federal energy regulators have given final approval for construction of a 330-mile electric transmission line to carry lower-cost Canadian hydroelectric power to New York City.
In a decision Wednesday, the Department of Energy said the permit requires some final concerns to be addressed by Albany-based Transmission Developers Inc. but otherwise clears the way for the 1,000 MW Champlain Hudson Power Express transmission line. The project has been in development since 2008.
The agency said the decision was "based on consideration of the potential environmental impacts, impacts on the reliability of the U.S. electric power supply system under normal and contingency conditions, and the favorable recommendations of the U.S. Departments of State and Defense."
Continue reading at Electric Light & Power

Smil on "How Green is Europe?"

A new article from Vaclav Smil, the always entertaining European accented Manitoba professor, is in the American online magazine.

How Green Is Europe?
A superficial look might indicate great achievements. Yet a closer view reveals how far the European renewables have to go, and what irrational choices are made to meet EU green energy quotas.
Germany produces half of energy with solar.” That was the recent headline on a German website of news in English, and it would have duly impressed anybody whose understanding of energy matters extends to just such headlines. But the headline, totally wrong, was also a perfect example of why it is so important to deconstruct the reports about green Europe.
Undoubtedly, the EU’s promotion of wind and solar resources resulted in consumption shares higher than anywhere else, but the contributions are uneven and remain small in absolute terms...  their contribution to the EU’s total primary energy supply remains very small: in 2012 about 1.1 percent for wind and not quite 0.5 percent for solar PV. Even in Germany their combined share of total primary energy supply was just 2 percent in 2012. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The precursor: Massachusetts' Electric Rates Soar

A 37% electricity rate hike for Christmas.
New England, with its protectionism opposing Quebec's hydro power and anti-everything reliable positions, must have done something bad.

Massachusetts' Electric Rates Soar | NECN:
For years energy experts have warned that New England would pay a price for wanting to use more and more natural gas for heating buildings and to replace dirty coal-fired power plants for producing electricity, while not making any investments in expanding gas pipelines.

Tuesday came shocking word of just how much that situation will cost in a matter of weeks, as National Grid, Massachusetts’s biggest utility, said it needs to seek a 37 percent rate hike for the six months beginning November 1.
...a monthly increase of $33 a month for a homeowner or business using 500 kilowatt-hours of power monthly, or a 37 percent increase in the overall bill. The big driver is that the cost of electricity – which is added to delivery charges and green energy fees to become the total bill – has jumped to 16.2 cents per kilowatt-hour, up from 10 cents last winter and 8.3 cents under the current warm-weather rates.
The entire story can be read at NECN

or just watch it:

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A skeptic look at an $8-billion green energy initiative

Hey ho, another day, another "affordable" renewables story:

$8-billion green energy initiative proposed for Los Angeles - Duke Energy:
Four companies today jointly proposed a first-in-the-U.S., $8-billion green energy initiative that would bring large amounts of clean electricity to the Los Angeles area by 2023.

The project would require construction of one of America’s largest wind farms in Wyoming, one of the world’s biggest energy storage facilities in Utah, and a 525-mile electric transmission line connecting the two sites.

“This project would be the 21st century’s Hoover Dam – a landmark of the clean energy revolution,” said Jeff Meyer, managing partner of Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy, one of the four companies involved in the initiative. 
The proposed project would generate more than twice the amount of electricity produced by the giant 1930s-era hydroelectric dam in Nevada – 9.2 million megawatt-hours per year vs. 3.9 million megawatt-hours 
A key component of the project – a massive underground energy storage facility – would yield 1,200 megawatts of electricity, equivalent to the output of a large nuclear power plant and enough to serve an estimated 1.2 million L.A.-area homes.
Read Duke Energy's full release, and if that floats your boat there's a video too.

This doesn't look equivalent to "a large nuclear plant" to me.

Monday, September 22, 2014

S.Africa signs 9.6 GW nuclear power deal with Russia

International new builds increasingly seem like a Russia, China and South Korea thing - mainly the first two if financing is part of the package.

UPDATE 1-S.Africa signs 9.6 GW nuclear power deal with Russia | Reuters:

(Reuters) - South Africa signed a $10 billion nuclear power cooperation deal with Russia on Monday that paves the way for the building of up to 9.6 GW of nuclear power based on Russian technology by 2030, both sides said.
The surprise announcement from the sidelines of a International Atomic Energy conference in Vienna suggests Pretoria is moving ahead with its plans for nuclear power, despite concerns over funding.
"This agreement opens up the door for South Africa to access Russian technologies, funding, infrastructure, and provides proper and solid platform for future extensive collaboration," South African energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said in the statement.
Read the entire article at Reuters

More, from Rosatom

Friday, September 19, 2014

China joins nations eyeing India's civil nuclear sector

Meanwhile, where energy has the potential to enrich hundreds of millions of lives...

China joins nations eyeing India's civil nuclear sector - Yahoo News UK:
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - China became the latest nation to line up for a stake in India's civil nuclear energy drive on Thursday, agreeing to open talks on cooperation in a sector that New Delhi sees as the solution to its chronic power problems.
..."I think the Chinese are looking basically at the commercial angle, since India is going to be giving contracts for nearly $150 billion in the next 10-15 years," said Srikanth Kondapalli, a China watcher at Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University.
The announcement, made after Xi met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi, comes on the heels of a deal India struck earlier this month to buy uranium from Australia to increase its fuel supplies.
Days before that, Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to accelerate talks on a nuclear energy pact.
Nuclear power, which currently accounts for just 3 percent of India's output, is key to future energy plans in India, where a quarter of the 1.2 billion population has little or no access to electricity.
Read the entire Reuters article. which ends:

Words on Stern 2.0; impacts of carbon pricing

"...if the modeling exercises that Krugman touts are correct, and countries pursue policies based on a belief in wind and solar, the actual costs of cutting emissions will be far higher than what Krugman claims."  - Michael A Levi

Let's start in 2010, on page 1 of 10 from Paul Krugman's Building a Green Economy:
The casual reader might have the impression that there are real doubts about whether emissions can be reduced without inflicting severe damage on the economy. In fact, once you filter out the noise generated by special-interest groups, you discover that there is widespread agreement among environmental economists that a market-based program to deal with the threat of climate change — one that limits carbon emissions by putting a price on them — can achieve large results at modest, though not trivial, cost.
Krugman today, in Could Fighting Global Warming Be Cheap and Free:
I’ve just been reading two new reports on the economics of fighting climate change: a big study by a blue-ribbon international group, the New Climate Economy Project, and a working paper from the International Monetary Fund. Both claim that strong measures to limit carbon emissions would have hardly any negative effect on economic growth, and might actually lead to faster growth. This may sound too good to be true, but it isn’t.

What's worked to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and Klein, etc.

Apparently there's going to be a parade, or a protest, or something in New York this weekend which caused Torontonian Naomi Klein to release a book that's getting lots of attention in prospective marching circles.

The Economist does a  good job, with the graphic, of reminding people that standards accomplish things. So to, it seems, do big capital intensive projects.

Curbing climate change: The deepest cuts | The Economist:
ON SEPTEMBER 23rd 120-odd presidents and prime ministers will gather in New York for a UN meeting on climate change. It is the first time the subject has brought so many leaders together since the ill-fated Copenhagen summit of 2009. Now, as then, they will assert that reining in global warming is a political priority. Some may commit their governments to policies aimed at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. What few will say is how many tonnes of carbon dioxide these will save—because they almost never do. 
According to scientists, cutting carbon-dioxide emissions is an essential part of reducing catastrophic risks from climate change. Yet governments are persistently averse to providing estimates of how much carbon a policy saves. That may be because, in countries where climate change is controversial, it makes more sense to talk about the other benefits a scheme offers rather than its effect on carbon. Or it may be that, in countries which are enthusiastic about renewable energy, pointing out that it may not save that much carbon is seen as unhelpful. Or perhaps governments think climate change is so serious that all measures must be taken, regardless of cost (though their overall lacklustre record suggests this is not the case).
Continue reading at The Economist

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Big Stick: Cap and Trade in the Peoples Republic of Carbon

A good summary article from Maximillian Auffhammer.

I'm really not sure if notable peope are wise enough to avoid noting the cap-and-trade purpose is to protect the apparently very powerful incumbant generators (and miners, etc.), or if somebody, somewhere, actually thinks it's an honest alternative to a carbon tax.

The Big Stick: Cap and Trade in the Peoples Republic of Carbon | Energy at HAAS:
The National Development and Reform Commission, which is the arm of the Chinese government responsible for economic planning, has provided coarse outlines of a national market starting in 2016, which will cover 3-4 billion tons of CO2 with a volume of roughly 65 billion US Dollars by 2020. This is twice the volume of the European market. And some simple algebra suggests that the planners expect permits to trade at just below $20, which is higher than anywhere else in the world currently or in any of the regional markets in China. This is exciting news and will surely provide some significant momentum in the upcoming climate talks. 

I am somewhat puzzled by the apparent choice of a national cap and trade system over the other price based alternative to a CAT: a carbon tax. The reason I am puzzled is deeply rooted in some simple political economy. Cap and trade generates valuable assets (permits), which are frequently handed out to carbon intensive industries, which would otherwise fight the regulation and possibly prevent it from being implemented. If the government hands out permits, it gets no revenues from these permits.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

California solar projects, or methane projects ...

California solar projects plan undergoing major overhaul - SFGate:
... solar plants were rushed through the environmental approval process. Miles of unspoiled desert lands were scraped and bulldozed to make way for sprawling arrays of solar panels. Desert tortoises required mass relocation, and kit fox burrows were destroyed. Surprise troves of American Indian artifacts found in the Mojave Desert were moved to a San Diego warehouse, where they remain.

And once it was built, the largest solar plant of its kind in the world - the Ivanpah installation in the Mojave - began igniting birds and monarch butterflies that fly through intensely concentrated, reflected sunbeams aimed at 40-story "power towers," according to a confidential report by federal wildlife officials.

Owned by BrightSource of Oakland, with investment partners Google of Mountain View and NRG Energy of Houston, the 5.4-square-mile, $2.2 billion facility was built with a $1.6 billion federal loan and went online last fall.

...BrightSource underestimated how much natural gas it would need to run the Ivanpah plant when the sun doesn't shine. And scientists now say desert soils contain vast stores of carbon that are unleashed by construction of solar facilities.
The entire article can be read at SFGate (affiliated with the San Franscisco Chronicle).

Thursday, September 4, 2014

more On Importing More Electricity from Québec

The latest Aegent Energy Advisors newsletter post is, characteristically, a substantial contribution to a discussion instigated by an insubstantial, but popular, proposal

On Importing More Electricity from Québec… | Aegent Energy Advisors Inc.:
  • Some believe that Ontario could tap into cheap imports from Québec to offset our substantially more expensive electricity. In reality, this is a complex technical and economic decision that would not reduce power rates in Ontario for many years to come.
  • With the two provinces having somewhat complementary electricity load profiles, the current market-based imports and exports between the two are working as intended: each province has the ability to purchase electricity from the other province when market conditions are favourable to do so.
  • There may be some point beyond 2018, when Ontario would need to procure additional resources to meet its adequacy target. If Québec could offer firm imports into Ontario when there is a need - at a cost cheaper than other available options - then a case could be made for firm imports.
Read the entire post at Aegent Energy Advisors Inc.:

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Argentina and China sign deal for CANDU 6 type Atucha III

"According to sources close to these meetings, the deal involves a founding estimated in two billion dollars, aimed for Chinese products and services, including a third a country, and 32 billion dollars in Argentine origin suppliers.
The new nuclear plant will be run via a CANDU reactor through natural uranium and heavy water, and is expected to reach a power capacity close to 800 megavolts. The complex will be built in Lima town, Buenos Aires province."
More information is in a Spanish language report. From the Google translation: