Friday, April 8, 2016

Blogs, solar, beef and social media

I used to blog here frequently.

I'm going to post some content tonight, but first I want to explain the lack of productivity on this blog which will also put this blog in the context of all the web avenues I am now communicating on.

When I started Cold Air Currents it was to post articles of interest that I didn't write. One early example of content was Donald Jones' More wind means more risk to the Ontario Electricity Grid. This proved to be a step on the path to the Donald Jones Articles site. Other prominent examples of posts that I did not write are Parker Gallant articles on the financing of MaRS Discovery District, which seemed out of place but needed a home - 2 years prior to the news entering the popular press.

As I became more knowledgeable on energy and tangentially related issues, I tried to add context to the articles I was citing here. This sometimes made it difficult to choose posting on my original Cold Air content blog, or this site.

Citations, without adding context, I have been actively doing on Twitter for some time, and more frequently on Facebook. For many, social media replaces blogging, but I find the experiences very different. Both Facebook and Twitter are social - which it took me quite some time to figure out.  On Facebook my crowd is probably more the anti-wind tribe, and on Twitter likely a little more pro-nuclear. A lot of what interests me doesn't necessarily fit those crowds, but often I don't have the time, or inclination, to put things in the context my tribes already know.

Which brings me to my latest use of social media - the little used Google Plus. I've started to use it as I first used this blog - to hold articles of interest that may end up on this site once I have time to collect a few related articles and create a context/narrative to present them together. If you followed this blog in the hopes of spotting interesting articles, and not for my insights into them, those are most likely to pop up on Twitter amidst a bunch of banter with others, and on Google Plus relatively uncluttered.

Relatively because I have other blogs, and new platforms.

One blog platform I find halfway between blogging and social media is tumblr - which I find particularly easy to create for from my laptop. It could be me ranting, or it could be one graph I've created I think deserves a quick commentary.

I was advised some time ago, to a person near and dear to me, that I am not funny on my blogs - but assured I am a funny guy. I said that was because I have a mean sense of humour and that would detract from my messaging - the unimpressed response was "yeah, well, you're not funny online." So I created a Wordpress blog to stay familiar with that platform (which is more social than Blogger, and the one I recommend for those entering the online content creation world). It is where I intend to be edgier. Having said that, a lot of my best original work has probably been there, on topics I felt hesitant to bring to the Cold Air site that is now associated with "energy blogging" distinct with a heavy data analysis emphasis.

That's most of what I do. If you care to keep track, I always hope I'll do more with but it now exists and points to all these different vehicles.

On to some of the topics in articles I pasted into Google Plus recently...


I've been writing on curtailment of electricity supply in Ontario (hydro here, wind here) and noting others writing about curtailment in California. I'll note the articles I see in California discuss actions to alleviate waste - not so the muffled discussion in Ontario, where curtailment is much greater.

What Will California Do With Too Much Solar? | Lauren Sommer, KQED Science:
add up all those energy sources – solar, wind, natural gas, as well as hydropower, nuclear and others – and on some days, they’re making more electricity than California needs.
“When it gets really bad, now we really got to start cutting as much as we possibly can,” Traweek says. “If that’s not done, then you could have a blackout.”
So, grid operators have to tell solar farms to shut off....
California’s grid operator is developing a solution...a larger regional grid, sharing power across state lines...
This marriage of electric grids would start with PacifiCorp, a utility that runs its own grid in Oregon, Utah, Idaho and Wyoming....
“PacifiCorp is by far the largest owner of coal plants in the Western United States...”
From my perspective in Ontario, which is about 80% nuclear and hydro, this makes sense - renewables essentially only have value when they are replacing coal or gas - and for reservoir hydro when the reservoirs are not full.
So California needs to partner with coal regions if it's spilling solar.

California has too much solar power. It needs another grid to share with | David Roberts | Vox:
Eventually states or regions are going to reach a point where there are no more bigger grids to hook up. And then the whole-system problems return. At that point, the system can't be made any bigger, so the problems have to be solved some other way.
One way to tackle the problems is cheap and effective energy storage...
The other big one is figuring out ways to shift demand so that it coincides better with periods of peak VRE production. There are lots of ways to do that, from incentives that change human behavior to automated networks of electric vehicle batteries to ... water heaters.
California is smart to set its sights on a bigger grid. It will ease the immediate problem... 
Context here could go on for a while. The eternal promise of storage I'll leave along today, but that bigger grid...

Today I was alerted to a Chinese plan for the ultimate grid expansion:
a global smart ultra-high-voltage (UHV) grid that transmits only “clean energy.”
The transition will entail three phases. First, from now until 2020, the State Grid will promote the interconnection of national grids in various countries. That will require “promoting consensus,” conducting technical research, building smart grids, and accelerating the deployment of renewables.
Over the following 10 years, until 2030—Phase 2—countries within a continent will connect their grids and develop “clean energy” bases. In Phase 3, which runs from 2030 to 2050, those transcontinental grids will be linked via UHV “backbone” grids. This last phase will also see the completion (with development beginning sometime in the second phase) of 3,000 TW of wind power in the Arctic region and 9,000 TW of solar power in the equatorial regions."
I'm skeptical.
I'll stick with the works of Leon Hirth as my guide, with curtailment as one more form of the declining value for Variable Renewable Energy (VRE) as market share rises.

COWS - emissions from meat

I find myself about halfway through the movie Cowspiracy on netflix, having been set on this path by the Geoff Russell article, Cowspiracy? Or Is There A Deeper Problem?
The Cowspiracy directors tell it like it is – livestock generate more warming than cars, but it’s missing from every major US organisation’s campaigning hit list?
... you won’t see a call for “100 percent plants” alongside the calls for “100 percent renewables”.
For those who don't want to give up meat (me and most of the people I know), there is the reduced impact route, discussed in  BETTER LIVESTOCK MANAGEMENT COULD REIN IN BILLIONS OF TONS OF CARBON:
That eating meat can contribute to climate change is a sore subject for many. Much research has pointed out that livestock production is a significant source of greenhouse gases. Most recently, a study detailed how a worldwide shift to a less meat-based diet could slash greenhouse gas emissions related to the food system by more than half...
I'm glad to be challenged on the diet topic, particularly as I watch Cowspiracy from a treadmill, but I'm more taken with a popular disinterest in carbon reduction in the food chain, in heavy contrast to the heavy focus on electricity.

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