Posts Tagged ‘renewables’

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There are robust and reliable electricity supplies, or the other kind.

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Texans have been in the news for all the wrong reasons, over the last week or so.

Hurricane Harvey belted the Texan coast with 130 mph (209 kph) winds and delivered a deluge of biblical proportions.

For some time now, Texas has been the pinup girl for American wind worshippers. With some 21,000 MW of nominal capacity spread over 40 projects, like everything in Texas, wind power is ‘big’.

Except, of course, when the weather turns nasty.

Modern industrial wind turbines do not operate when wind speeds hit around 25 m/s (90kph or 55mph) – Hurricane Harvey dished up a gale double that speed, and more.

In order to prevent their catastrophic disintegration (as seen in the video below) Texas’s turbines downed tools, en masse, (as they are deliberately designed to do) leaving the critical work of providing power to storm battered Texans to its fleet of nuclear power plants.

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German wind farm [image credit: Dirk Ingo Franke / Wikipedia]


If the flood of subsidies looks like turning to a trickle, the backers of renewables soon get cold feet – in Germany at least, as Pierre Gosselin explains (via GWPF).

While Germany likes to fancy itself as being among the “global leaders” in tackling climate change by expanding green energies, the country has in fact taken very little action recently to back up the appearances.

If anything, Germany is more in the green energy retreat mode. There are good reasons for this.

German flagship business daily “Handelsblatt” reported yesterday how Germany’s wind energy market is now “threatening to implode” and as a result “thousands of jobs are at risk”.

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As stopthesethings sums it up: ‘Third World outcomes with First World costs’. But will other renewables-mad governments take any notice?

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Diesel-fuelled jet engines: what promises to power
SA this summer and next summer and ..

If South Australia were a novel, it would find itself a place amongst the classic tragic comedies.

For a while the bromance between its vapid Premier, Jay Weatherill and Californian carpetbagger, Elon Musk might’ve earned a place in the ‘rom/com’ category, as well.

However, now that Jay Weatherill is determined to keep the lights on this Summer and beyond using diesel fuelled jet engines – instead of powering SA with sunshine and breezes captured and stored lovingly in Musk’s mega-batteries – that romance is clearly at an end.

South Australia generating electricity from rubbish and diesel powered jets, if they could only burn government regulations instead
Jo Nova Blog
Jo Nova
9 August 2017

A little update on our favourite green state.

SA tries to fix a Big-Government mess with a Bigger Government: Man-made regulations created…

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Credit: inhabitat.com


Another green dream has crumbled in the face of inconvenient reality, defeated by biology, as Yahoo News reports. Research shows it is neither commercially nor environmentally sustainable, unless the equivalent of three Belgiums and a mountain of fertilizer can be found.

Modern biofuels have been touted as a greener alternative to petrol and diesel since the early 1900s. It seems like a good idea on paper, and they do work – but their use and production doesn’t come without problems.

The first generation of biofuels – mainly ethanol made from plant crops – and second generation, derived from plant and animal waste streams, both had environmentalists and others concerned about the competition for land and nutrients between biofuels production and food production.

It was with a lot of hope, and hype, that production of the third generation of biofuels was started. Unlike their predecessors, these biofuels are derived from algae, and so in theory the food vs fuel dilemma of crop-based biofuels would be solved.

Fossil fuel oil and gas originated from ancient algae in large measure, so the concept here is to replicate the essence of the creation of fossil fuels, albeit accelerated and optimised with modern chemical engineering. It was claimed that using algae would be much more efficient than creating biofuels from terrestrial plants and that the technology would make use of poor quality land not able to grow other crops.

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21st Century Scottish landscape


John Constable and Matt Ridley at Capx deliver the lowdown on how Scotland gets UK taxpayers to pay for its windfarms, even when there’s no wind – or too much wind.

Imagine a sausage factory – the luckiest, most profitable sausage factory in the world. Its machines crank out their sausages, and lorries carry them to supermarkets. So far, so normal.

But this particular factory makes as many sausages as the management and staff choose. If they feel like taking the day off, the lorries and shelves stay empty. If they want to go a bit wild, they sometimes make so many sausages that there aren’t enough lorries to take them away. Or they carry on cranking out sausages even if the shelves are already full.

And here’s the really amazing thing: even when the lorries can’t cope or there is no demand for sausages, the factory gets paid.

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This is a fun spectacle from a distance, but not so much for South Australia’s hard-pressed electricity consumers.

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What left wing fu%#wits can achieve…

South Australians must wake up each morning in the vain hope that it’s all just a very bad dream.

Alas, their sorry reality is one dictated by wind worshipping lunatics, not least its vapid Premier, Jay Weatherill.

Last week, Weatherill launched an astonishing tirade against Chris Kenny – a columnist with The Australian and The Advertiser – calling him a “right-wing fuckwit” for having the temerity to point out one or two fairly obvious facts about the unfolding disaster caused by Weatherill’s obsession with wind power.

With a grid on the brink of collapse (the coming summer promises more mass blackouts and load shedding, whenever wind power output collapses on a total and totally predictable basis) and the highest power prices in the world by a country mile, you might think that humility would be the order of the day among the leaders responsible…

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What to do with millions of tons of retired solar panels? Answers on a postcard to China.

China will have the world’s worst problem with ageing solar panels in less than two decades, according to a recent industry estimate, as South China Morning Post reports.

Lu Fang, secretary general of the photovoltaics division in the China Renewable Energy Society, wrote in an article circulating on mainland social media this month that the country’s cumulative capacity of retired panels would reach up to 70 gigawatts (GW) by 2034.

That is three times the scale of the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydropower project, by power production.

By 2050 these waste panels would add up to 20 million tonnes, or 2,000 times the weight of the Eiffel Tower, according to Lu.

“In fair weather, prepare for foul,” she warned.

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Bottlenose dolphin [image credit: NASA]


H/T Wind Energy News

Ideally these studies should have been done years ago, but better late than never.

Scottish scientists are set to gain new insights into the lives and habits of the world’s most northerly resident population of bottlenose dolphins and how they are coping with wind turbines in the North Sea, says The Scotsman.

The study is one of four new scientific projects selected as part of a pioneering £2.7 million investigation into the potential impact of offshore wind farms on society and the environment launched by the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC).

The £300 million scheme, Scotland’s largest offshore wind power testing facility, will trial cutting-edge renewables technology in Aberdeen Bay. Experts say the innovative programme, which is jointly funded by EOWDC owner Vattenfall and the European Union, will put Scotland at the forefront of research and development in the sector.

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Whitelee wind farm, Scotland [image credit: Bjmullan / Wikipedia]


Wherever onshore wind turbines are built there will also be networks of electricity pylons to carry the power away. Tourism is big business in windy Scotland.

A survey carried out on behalf of the John Muir Trust (JMT) found that 55% of respondents were “less likely” to venture into areas of the countryside industrialised by giant turbines, electricity pylons and super-quarries, reports The Times (via GWPF).

Just 3% said they were “more likely” to visit such areas, while 26% said such large-scale developments would make “no difference”. The poll has rekindled calls for Scottish ministers to increase protection for wild and scenic areas that, it is argued, will protect rural tourism businesses.

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Governor on the wind power fiasco: ‘Decisions made now will affect, and perhaps destroy, our state government financially over the next 14 years.’

You couldn’t make it up.

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As Mark Twain put it: “It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.” And, even when the dupe accepts his folly, sorry seems to be the hardest word.

Frank Keating was governor of Oklahoma 1995-2003 and is responsible for its wind power calamity, as he calls it.

Uncharacteristically of a modern politician, Keating taps into that fast disappearing virtue – grace – not only admitting that he was fooled, but sincerely apologising for the harm caused to Okies and their State.

Frank Keating: I signed wind industry tax breaks, and I was wrong
Tulsa World
Frank Keating
25 February 2017

In 2001, when I served as governor of Oklahoma, I signed legislation creating the Zero Emissions Tax Credit for industrial wind energy. The tax credit was designed to give a jump-start to a wind industry in its infancy in Oklahoma at the time. It was…

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The dash for renewables in South Australia has gone so badly wrong that crisis measures are now called for, as PEI reports.

A large-scale temporary power solution is being considered, as South Australia struggles to ensure its energy security.

A 250 MW ship-based power station is under consideration as a solution to the crisis for the Australian state, which has seen a lot of investment in renewable power over recent years, while old fossil stations were retired.

The Turkish ship could be operational by the end of the year for less than the $360m budgeted for a new state-owned gas-fired power plant of the same capacity.

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There’s the wind, water, and solar (WWS) vision promoted by a few academics, and then there’s economic and technical reality – with a seriously large chasm in between.

Friends of Science Calgary

Contributed by Robert Lyman © 2017

A new paper prepared by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Earth System Laboratory and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) is drawing attention in policy circles in the U.S. The paper critiques the claims of a study by Mark Jacobson et. al. that it is feasible, at low cost, to achieve 100% conversion of the U.S. electricity generation system to wind, hydroelectricity and solar energy by 2050 (the “WWS Vision”).

The authors of the critique include experts in the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, who could not be accused of being “climate sceptics”. Indeed, they have previously authored reports in which they concluded that an 80% decarbonisation of the U.S. electrical grid eventually could be achieved at “reasonable” cost, assuming that a broad suite of generation options and other technologies are employed. Their critique of the Jacobson…

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Credit: Kite Power Systems [click to enlarge]


It may be hard to imagine large scale use of kites to generate electricity, but this is the concept being tested in Scotland with some big name backers behind it.

Kite Power Systems (KPS) has secured £2 million equity investment from the Scottish Investment Bank (SIB) says Utility Week.

The Scottish economy secretary, Keith Brown confirmed the news yesterday (22 June), following a visit to Kellwood Engineering in Dumfries, where KPS’s latest 500kw demonstration model is being built. Brown said the company’s approach to wind energy “shows great promise”.

“The company has recently relocated from Essex to Glasgow and this £2 million investment from the SIB will enable it to expand further and demonstrate the latest iteration of its kite power technology in Scotland,” he added.

KPS has developed a power system that features two kites, which fly up to an altitude of 1500 feet. Both kites are attached by tethers to a winch system, which generates electricity as the winch spools out. 

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Some day UK leaders might work out that the energy policies of recent years have cost far too much for no good reason. But nobody’s holding their breath waiting for that day. Reducing bills while driving up costs does not compute.

The U.K.’s search for 100 billion pounds ($127 billion) to maintain electricity supplies is likely to become tougher after the Conservative government lost its parliamentary majority in an election last week, says the GWPF.

Prime Minister Theresa May, who is leading a minority government, will need to focus more than ever to get consensus from lawmakers on Britain’s exit from the European Union. That leaves little time for setting new policies that could bolster the case for investing in new energy infrastructure, industry officials said.

“There’s not going to be an energy policy,” Guy Madgwick, managing director of Northern Europe for wind turbine manufacturer Senvion SA, said in a phone interview. “It’s nowhere near the top of their list.”
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Anyone who fondly imagines that wind and solar power are about to become as cheap as chips in some glorious renewable future, should read this tale of Australian woe.

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No way back from here: Malcolm muddles & Frydenberg fudges.

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Australia’s energy crisis is a self-inflicted calamity with no apparent end in sight.

The PM, Malcolm Turnbull seems intent on protecting his son, Alex’s investment in Australia’s most notorious wind power outfit, Infigen (see our post here).

While his gormless Energy Minister, Josh Frydenberg behaves like a punch-drunk boxer, who cannot land a punch and with absolutely no idea what’s going on around him.

Into that mix strides Alan Finkel; a boffin tasked with trying to rescue Australia’s power grid from imminent collapse, the consequence of loading it up with intermittent, chaotic and erratic wind and solar power.

Some see Finkel as the Great White Hope.

STT will reserve its judgement on that matter: bright and shiny ideas are one thing, implementing them over a pack of rabid, salivating rent-seekers out to prevent you from doing so is…

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Credit: Wave Swell Energy


It’s essentially an artificial blowhole according to the company CEO. They say the device uses resonance to make the most energy out of the water that washes into it, by operating at the natural frequency of the waves, and claim it’s ‘120% more efficient than a conventional device’.

Wave Swell Energy plans to install a commercial scale wave energy plant in the Bass Strait, off King Island in Tasmania, reports Tidal Energy Today.

Wave Swell’s series of one-megawatt generators will cost up to $7 million to build, and at peak times will provide up to half the power for King Island’s 1,600 residents, according to the Australian Maritime College (AMC).

The Australian-based wave energy developer said it expects the cost of wave power to be less than 10 cents per kilowatt hour when built at scale.

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H/T GWPF

Is solar power in terminal decline in Europe, as subsidies and public enthusiasm dwindle?

Germany’s SolarWorld, once Europe’s biggest solar power equipment group, said on Wednesday it would file for insolvency, overwhelmed by Chinese rivals who had long been a thorn in the side of founder and CEO Frank Asbeck, once known as “the Sun King”.

SolarWorld was one of the few German solar power companies to survive a major crisis at the turn of the decade, caused by a glut in production of panels that led prices to fall and peers to collapse, including Q-Cells, Solon and Conergy.

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Bret Stephens at The New York Times delves into the erroneous ‘climate-friendly’ image of biofuels, and questions the claimed success of renewables in general. Not new criticisms, but new for the NYT at least.

A few extracts from the piece:
“Converting biomass feedstocks to biofuels is an environmentally friendly process. So is using biofuels for transportation. When we use bioethanol instead of gasoline, we help reduce atmospheric CO2.”

These confident assurances come from “Biofuels: A Solution for Climate Change,” a paper published in 1999 by the Clinton administration’s Department of Energy. Feels a little dated in its scientific assumptions, doesn’t it?
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Credit: dragonproductsltd.com


H/T GWPF / RealClearEnergy

The author notes that ‘the rigs are getting roughly twice as productive every three years. No other energy technology is improving that quickly.’

Wind and solar are now experiencing a declining rate of improvement as those technologies start to approach their limits in terms of what physics permits. Shale technology is a long way from its physics limits. In fact, the shale industry is at the beginning of what I’ve earlier termed Shale 2.0.

The Promethean task of supplying energy to the U.S. economy and the rest of the world involves scales that are truly difficult to visualize. Many options appear to make sense until you crunch the numbers. That’s why Bill Gates said that people need to bring “math skills to the problem.”

Consider petroleum alone, which accounts for about one-third of global energy use.
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Enthusiasm fading for renewables targets?


This could put a bit of sanity back into UK electricity generation policy, if it happens.

Britain is preparing to scrap EU green energy targets which will add more than £100 to the average energy bill as part of a bonfire of red tape after Brexit, says the GWPF.
 
Government sources told The Daily Telegraph that the target, under the EU Renewable Energy Directive, is likely to be scrapped after Brexit.

The UK is currently committed to getting 15 per cent of all energy from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2020. Ministers have long been critical of the targets because they exclude nuclear power, carbon capture or gains from energy efficiency.

The UK is currently on course to miss the target and incur millions of pounds in fines from the European Union.
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