Costa Rica has produced 100% renewable electricity for 76 days straight — and still counting


Arturo Sotillo

❝ Costa Rica is well known for its lush rainforests, astounding volcanoes, beautiful beaches, and diverse wildlife. The country also has a reputation for actively focusing on climate change initiatives and can now boast the title of running on 100% renewable energy for 76 straight days – and counting.

According to Costa Rica’s National Centre for Energy Control, June 16, 2016 was the last day that fossil fuel-based energy was used on the national grid. Throughout August, the country has accumulated 150 days of renewable energy in 2016 alone…This is the second time the Central American country has run for more than two months straight on renewable energy. In 2015, Costa Rica powered itself for almost 300 days…without burning oil, coal, or natural gas…to produce electricity.

❝ Costa Rica is unique in that it’s powered on a mix of hydro, geothermal, wind, and solar energy, with hydropower providing about 80% of the total electricity for August. Geothermal plants contributed to about 13% of electricity generation in August, while wind turbines provided 7%, and solar 0.01%.

This impressive achievement is due to a couple advantages the country holds. Costa Rica is only about 19,700 square miles—a bit smaller than West Virginia at 24,231 square miles—and has a population of about 4.87 million people. This small population requires much less energy. Additionally, Costa Rica’s primary industries are tourism and agriculture versus energy-intensive industries such as mining or manufacturing. Heavy rains have also helped four big hydroelectric dams run above their usual capacity, allowing the country to turn off its diesel generators…

❝ While Costa Rica is undoubtedly setting an example in terms of how much focus it places on environmental sustainability, it also faces its own challenges. [Politicians] recently delayed its goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2021 to 2085. However, based on the progress the country has already made, 365 days of zero fossil fuels is surely on the horizon.

Comparing Costa Rica to West Virginia is silly, of course. South Carolina is closer in size. The population is almost identical. Tourism and agriculture are as important as in Costa Rica.

South Carolina’s GDP – and per capita GDP – is more than double the same measures in Costa Rica. Annual budget to run South Carolina is about a third larger than that of Costa Rica. Obviously South Carolina – given the inclination, dedication to human costs – could achieve much the same. As could many American states.

American politicians and the voters who put them in office have other priorities. In the rare instances when they concern themselves at all with a better life for all.

Progress building clean power in the USA even while conservatives drag their feet

❝ As the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals prepares to hear challengers’ arguments against the Clean Power Plan on September 27th, the most up-to-date analysis shows that the Clean Power Plan’s goals have become even more readily achievable as the electricity sector is already shifting to clean energy. Many power companies are not waiting for the courts to resolve the legal challenges. Instead, they are accelerating the shift to clean energy, assisted by the rapid cost declines of renewable technologies. This steady and continuing shift in our power sector makes clear that the goals set forth by the Clean Power Plan are eminently attainable.

❝ The Clean Power Plan — the centerpiece of U.S. action on climate change — places the first-ever limits on carbon dioxide pollution from power plants, our nation’s largest source of the dangerous pollution that drives climate change…In fact, the pace of investments in clean energy is accelerating in the power sector, continuing the strong climate progress of the last several years…Several recent studies have projected that renewable energy may double from 2015 levels by 2021…

❝ Dynamic maps in the article show the dramatic renewable energy progress that has been made across the country over the past several years. In the span of just five years, solar generation in Nevada increased more than seven-fold, and North Carolina has seen its solar generation increase five-fold in the past two years alone. Iowa and Texas, which were already leaders in wind power back in 2010, have both nearly doubled their wind generation over the past five years, and both states are expected to continue their shift to a clean energy future over the next several years.

The Clean Power Plan reinforces and builds on these market trends by embracing the kind of flexible strategies that the industry already employs. The CPP gradually phases in the required emissions limits starting in 2022, and by 2030 is projected to result in carbon cuts of roughly 32 percent below 2005 levels, or 19 percent below 2012 levels. Even though the CPP emissions limits don’t go into effect for another six years, carbon emissions from the power sector have already fallen by more than 5 percent since 2012. That means that in the past three years alone the power sector achieved more than one-quarter of the pollution cuts required by 2030…

The benefits are economic as well as environmental, they affect our public health as much as our economic health. Progress towards the time when global energy is dominated by renewables is no longer a dream but an obvious and growing reality. RTFA and take a look at those maps chugging along. Reflect upon the fact that the do-nothing, know-nothing Congress has been owned by fossil fuel industries so long they may as well change the name of the building to the Koch Bros. Lobbying Center. Yet, change is upon us all. Costs continue to reduce through the economies of scale, design and research.

Put some folks into elective office with backbone and principle. Who knows how much more will be accomplished?

Tesla building massive electricity storage unit for Los Angeles substation


Click to enlarge

❝ Tesla has been chosen by the Southern California Edison’s Mira Loma substation in Ontario, California to build an 80MWh battery plant that will be able to provide power to 2,500 homes for a full day. California Governor Jerry Brown indirectly initiated the action by mandating the California Public Utilities Commission to stabilize grid power following the gas leak at Aliso Canyon last October, when 100,000 tons of methane leaked into the atmosphere.

❝ Power storage is a fast-growing business, according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk. He says this market has a “super-exponential growth rate” that is “several times that of what the car business is per year.” Tesla did not reveal pricing and other details, but did say that the power storage facility would be ready by the end of the year.

The plan for storing power in batteries for peak time usage is actually years old, but has been accelerated since the Aliso Canyon incident, which forced more than 4,500 households to move into temporary quarters…

❝ Tesla and several of its competitors in the power storage industry will come together to create a system that will essentially “time shift” grid power from off-peak hours to peak hours, theoretically eliminating the need for conventional power stations to come online during high load times.

The base plan for the CPUC is to have 1,325 megawatts of power storage facilities by the year 2020. This will ideally be sufficient to power more than 41,000 homes for a day.

This is an example of how and why we’re changing the goal for solar electricity at our compound here in La Cieneguilla, New Mexico. Our confidence is way up about getting entirely off the grid. Not only are large economy-size grid backups like this becoming possible [and cheaper], firms like Tesla and their domestic and global competitors are doing the same for home-size solar panel systems.

NASA finds August 2016 tied July 2016 for hottest month ever recorded


Click to enlarge

❝ August 2016 was the warmest August in 136 years of modern record-keeping, according to a monthly analysis of global temperatures by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies…

❝ Although the seasonal temperature cycle typically peaks in July, August 2016 wound up tied with July 2016 for the warmest month ever recorded…

“Monthly rankings, which vary by only a few hundredths of a degree, are inherently fragile,” said GISS Director Gavin Schmidt. “We stress that the long-term trends are the most important for understanding the ongoing changes that are affecting our planet.”

The record warm August continued a streak of 11 consecutive months dating back to October 2015 that have set new monthly high-temperature records.

❝ The monthly analysis by the GISS team is assembled from publicly available data acquired by about 6,300 meteorological stations around the world, ship- and buoy-based instruments measuring sea surface temperature, and Antarctic research stations. The modern global temperature record begins around 1880 because previous observations didn’t cover enough of the planet.

Nothing like having a clear idea of how human beings are screwing up the planet.

Well, actually a small number of human beings. Like 1%.

“Our cause is just” — leader of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe fighting pipeline construction

❝ High on a hill overlooking the confluence of the Missouri and Cannonball rivers, Dave Archambault II knelt and touched a stone that bears a handprint worn into it by thousands of his ancestors who have done the same for centuries.

There, the leader of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe said a prayer for peace.

❝ Below, Archambault can see Native Americans from across North America gathered at an encampment a half-mile away, joining his tribe’s growing protest against a $3.8 billion four-state oil pipeline that will cross the Missouri River nearby. It’s a project they fear will disturb sacred sites and impact drinking water for thousands of tribal members on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and millions further downstream.

“Our cause is just,” the laconic, soft-spoken 45-year-old said. “What we do today will make a difference for future generations.”

❝ His contemporaries say he’s the right person at the right time to lead the fight, which has led to the arrests of about 30 people, Archambault included, for interfering with construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.

❝ Since becoming the leader of about 9,000 people in 2013, Archambault has sought to improve housing, health care, employment, education and other grim realities that his 2.3 million-acre reservation that straddles the North and South Dakota border and reservations nationwide face.

Now, he’s dealing with added pressure of the pipeline, which he has called yet another “historic wrong involving tribal sovereignty and land rights.

RTFA. Decide which part of history deserves your support: short term profits including construction jobs for a couple of years – or long-term civil rights and sovereignty for a Native American nation simply trying to live in peace.

California is about to institute a radical climate policy — will they succeed and lead?

❝ California has long prided itself on being a world leader on climate change — and with good reason…Within the United States, California is No. 1 in solar power and No. 3 in wind power. It boasts the third-lowest carbon dioxide emissions per capita behind New York and Vermont. Since 2000, the state has managed to shrink its overall carbon footprint slightly even as its population grew and economy boomed:

But now California is taking on a far, far more audacious task: trying to prove to the world that it’s possible — desirable, even — to pursue the really drastic emission cuts needed to stave off severe global warming.

❝ The state is already on track to nudge its greenhouse-gas emissions back down to 1990 levels by the year 2020. Then last week, after much fierce debate, the California Assembly and Senate passed a new bill, known as SB 32, that would go much further, mandating an additional 40 percent cut in emissions by 2030…

The stakes are enormous: Policymakers everywhere will be watching to see if California can pull this off. Getting a 40 percent cut will require more than bucking up wind and solar and putting more electric cars on the road. It will mean reshaping virtually every facet of the state’s economy, from buildings to transportation to farming and beyond…

❝ So far, these programs have worked reasonably well. California is on pace to push its emissions back down to 1990 levels by 2020 — and the economy has thrived…

Anyone can put lofty climate goals on paper. The real question is whether California can undertake the specific actions needed to actually cut emissions.

California is essentially offering itself as a guinea pig in the world’s most important policy experiment. Everyone else will be watching and learning from the state’s successes and failures — whether it can develop the needed clean tech, whether it can spur innovation, whether it can control costs and navigate political opposition, whether it can rejigger the grid to accommodate enormous quantities of renewable power. No pressure!

Watch this space.

Army has reached $1 billion in energy-saving projects


Click to enlargeUS Army Corps of Engineers

In less than five years, the Army has engaged in 127 energy-saving projects with the private sector that now exceed $1 billion in investments, announced Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning…

The president challenged all federal agencies in December 2011 to partner with companies to save energy. It was called the Energy Savings and Performance-Based Contracting Investments Initiative and the president wanted all of government to execute $4 billion in projects by the end of 2016.

The Army’s projects alone represent 33 percent of all the federal government’s current contributions to meeting the president’s goal…

On our installations, and wherever we maintain and train our force, the Army is focused on finding the sweet spot between energy efficiency and energy security,” he said. The 127 projects have been undertaken at 52 installations.

“This is a case where public policy has worked well,” said Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment.

These contracts are important to the Army, she said. Federal agencies like the Army can leverage their utility budgets and take the steps essential to enhancing resiliency, achieving cost savings, and improving operations and maintenance, with no upfront costs to the government, she explained.

The costs of the projects are paid back over time as the Army realizes savings from the improvements…

RTFA for beaucoup details. Especially pleasant – and surprising – to see a chunk of the Pentagon come through with savings of any kind projected over time.

Nearly three-quarters of Florida voters approve solar tax relief


AP/Alan Diaz

❝ Solar advocates finally got a win in the Sunshine State on Tuesday, as voters approved a measure to get rid of property taxes on solar equipment.

With more than 1,970,000 Floridians checking ‘yes,’ the measure, known as Amendment 4, received more support than the state’s two U.S. Senate primary winners, Marco Rubio (R) and Patrick Murphy (D), combined.

❝ It’s not surprising that the measure passed, although the overwhelming support was a morale boost for the industry, which has faced hurdles in Florida. Amendment 4 received 72 percent approval overall — and needed only 60 percent to pass…

Supporters are hoping the tax break will spur companies such as Walmart, IKEA, and Costco, which have made massive investments in solar elsewhere in the country, to install solar panels on their Florida stores. It will also allow solar leasing companies such as SolarCity to improve their margins.

❝ According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, a Washington, D.C.-based industry group, Florida has the third-most potential for solar in the country, but it is only 14th in amount of installed solar — even while installing 90 percent more solar in the past year. Massachusetts, Colorado, and North Carolina all have more installed solar.

Not that Republicans, Blue Dog Democrats and other fossil fuel pimps have given up. They still have Amendment 1 on the horizon for November.

❝ If Amendment 1 passes, it will prohibit Floridians from selling their electricity to third parties. In effect, it would do away with Floridians’ rights to lease solar panels, since, in that situation, the owner of the panels generally sells the electricity to the homeowner. Leasing solar systems has been an effective and popular way to allow homeowners to go solar without paying for the system up front…

Amendment 1 will also face a 60 percent threshold for approval, but there is expected to be a significant media campaign encouraging people to vote yes on 1.

What? You actually believe the Trumpkin crap that the owners of mass media are all lefties and liberals. Don’t kid yourself. They believe wholeheartedly in kissing the butt of corporate advertisers.

All U.S. energy consumption in one giant diagram

This graphic is special type of flow chart, called a Sankey diagram…This particular one shows the total estimated energy consumption in the United States in 2015, and how energy flowed from source to the final destination. The graphic comes to us from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Department of Energy.

The beauty of a Sankey is in its simplicity and and effectiveness. No information is left out, and we can really see the full energy picture from a 10,000 foot view.


Click to enlargeThe Visual Capitalist

❝ What’s a quad? It’s equal to a quadrillion BTUs, which is roughly comparable to any of these:

8,007,000,000 gallons (US) of gasoline
293,071,000,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh)
36,000,000 tonnes of coal
970,434,000,000 cubic feet of natural gas
25,200,000 tonnes of oil
252,000,000 tonnes of TNT
13.3 tonnes of uranium-235

It’s a lot of energy – and if you look at the diagram, you’ll see most of it is actually wasted.

Thanks, Barry Ritholtz

Moored at sea, generating electricity off the island of Texel


Click to enlargeDamen

Taking just six months from the drawing board to realisation, the BlueTEC Texel tidal energy platform was installed in the summer of 2015 and is operating off the island of Texel in the Netherlands. The prototype is producing electricity from the tides into the local grid.

BlueTEC Modular was designed by Damen to be transported and installed all over in the world to provide clean energy in remote areas and small islands, replacing diesel generators.

Just before the end of 2015, the platform was fitted with a more powerful Tocardo T2 turbine and, in early 2016, the platform was commissioned with a larger T2 tidal turbine. Currently the platform generates clean electricity from the tides in the Wadden Sea of The Netherlands.

Six months start-to-finish. Replacing a diesel-powered generator. How long do you think this would take to design, approve through local, state and federal government, construct and put in place — here in the GOUSA?

Uh-huh.