First floating wind farm – built by an offshore oil company BTW – starts delivering electricity


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❝ The world’s first floating offshore wind farm began delivering electricity to the Scottish grid last week.

The 30MW installation, situated 25km from Peterhead in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, will demonstrate that offshore wind energy can be harvested in deep waters, miles away from land, where installing giant turbines was once impractical or impossible. At peak capacity, the wind farm will produce enough electricity to power 20,000 Scottish homes.

❝ The installation, called Hywind Scotland, is also interesting because it was built by Statoil, a Norwegian mega-corporation known for offshore oil drilling. Statoil has pursued offshore wind projects in recent years, using the company’s experience building and managing infrastructure in difficult open sea conditions to its advantage.

❝ Hywind Scotland began producing power in September, and on the 18th it started delivering electricity to the Scottish grid. Now, all that’s left is for Statoil and its partner company Masdar to install a 1MWh lithium-ion battery, charmingly called “Batwind,” on shore. Batwind will help the offshore system regulate power delivery and optimize output.

❝ After a number of small demonstration projects, the five 6MW turbines are the first commercial turbines to lack a firm attachment to the seafloor. They’re held in place using three giant suction anchors, which are commonly used in offshore oil drilling. Essentially, an enormous, empty, upside-down “bucket” is placed on the seafloor, and air is sucked out of the bucket, which forces the bucket downward, further into the seafloor sediment.

RTFA for greater understanding of why Statoil invested the funds and effort into a technology – that unsurprising – hasn’t a ROI greater than the average pilot plant.

Hint! Eventually, it will.

Wind Overtakes Coal Power in Europe — Turbines Increase Offshore


Dong Energy

❝ Wind farm developers installed more power than any other form of energy last year in Europe, helping turbines to overtake coal in terms of capacity…

European wind power grew 8 percent, to 153.7 gigawatts, comprising 16.7 percent of installed capacity and overtaking coal as the continent’s second-biggest potential source of energy, according to figures published Thursday by the WindEurope trade group. Gas-fired generation retained the largest share of installed capacity.

❝ With countries seeking to curb greenhouse gas emissions that causes climate change by replacing fossil fuel plants with new forms of renewable energy, investment in wind grew to a record $29.3 billion in 2016, WindEurope’s annual European Statistics report showed.

Wind and coal are on two ends of the spectrum,” said Oliver Joy, a spokesman for WindEurope, in an e-mail. “Wind is steadily adding new capacity while coal is decommissioning far more than any technology in Europe.”

❝ The group underscored that wind, which only produces power intermittently, hasn’t yet overtaken coal share in total power generation.

And, so, good sense marches hand-in-hand with a positive commitment to better living.

Trump ready to end the ban on Black Site prisons

❝ The Trump administration is preparing a sweeping executive order that would clear the way for the C.I.A. to reopen overseas “black site” prisons, like those where it detained and tortured terrorism suspects before former President Barack Obama shut them down.

President Trump’s three-page draft order, titled “Detention and Interrogation of Enemy Combatants” and obtained by The New York Times, would also undo many of the other restrictions on handling detainees that Mr. Obama put in place in response to policies of the George W. Bush administration.

❝ If Mr. Trump signs the draft order, he would also revoke Mr. Obama’s directive to give the International Committee of the Red Cross access to all detainees in American custody. That would be another step toward reopening secret prisons outside of the normal wartime rules established by the Geneva Conventions, although statutory obstacles would remain…

❝ It was not clear whether the C.I.A. would be enthusiastic about resuming a role in detaining and interrogating terrorism suspects after its scorching experience over the past decade.

Not that our Fearless President has any problem ignoring law, regulations or institutional procedures when it comes to stamping his little feet to get his way.

Microsoft wins milestone appeal over US wanting to snoop offshore email

A federal appeals court…said the U.S. government cannot force Microsoft Corp and other companies to turn over customer emails stored on servers outside the United States.

The 3-0 decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan is a defeat for the U.S. Department of Justice and a victory for privacy advocates and for technology companies offering cloud computing and other services around the world.

Circuit Judge Susan Carney said communications held by U.S. service providers on servers outside the United States are beyond the reach of domestic search warrants issued under the Stored Communications Act, a 1986 federal law.

“Congress did not intend the SCA’s warrant provisions to apply extraterritorially,” she wrote. “The focus of those provisions is protection of a user’s privacy interests.”

The case has attracted strong interest from the technology and media sectors, amid concern that giving prosecutors expansive power to collect data outside the country could make it harder for U.S. companies to compete there.

Dozens of companies, organizations and individuals filed briefs supporting Microsoft’s appeal, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Amazon.com, Apple, Cisco Systems, CNN, Fox News Network, Gannett and Verizon…

Judge Carney said limiting the reach of warrants serves “the interest of comity” that normally governs cross-border criminal investigations.

She said that comity is also reflected in treaties between the United States and all European Union countries, including Ireland, to assist each other in such probes.

It’s like the stupidity that passes for legal reason over most “religious freedoms”. You decide what you want for an outcome and then search till you can find articles or junk research to suit your convictions. Regardless of logic or science. This is what political lawyers do in so many cases involving privacy and free speech.

Constitutional protections be damned. If they can find some out-of-date regulation that can be torturously interpreted to validate the result they want – Bingo, make it so!

Germany adds to its wind energy portfolio — Nordsee Ost comes online


Click to enlargeLuftfoto/Scheer

Wind energy is a vital part of a German move to a low-carbon economy, the German economic minister said during the inauguration of RWE’s Nordsee Ost wind farm.

German Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel hosted ministers from the Group of seven industrialized economies, along with representatives from RWE, for the inauguration of the 48-turbine wind farm off the northern German coast.

“Offshore wind energy is a strategically important element of Germany’s energy and climate policy and is key to the success of the energy transition,” Gabriel said…

Germany is one of the world leaders in renewable energy, a trend established after its decision to move away from nuclear power, in the wake of the nuclear tragedy in Japan in 2011. The United Kingdom is close behind and, combined, the European Union has more than 100 gigawatts of wind power online.

Nordsee Ost has an installed capacity of 295 megawatts, enough power to meet the annual energy needs of about 320,000 households.

RWE’s project is among the largest of its kind in the world and, by year’s end, more than 40 percent of its power capacity will be generated from wind energy.

The expansion of renewable energy is one of our main growth areas and offshore wind energy will play a vital role,” Chief Executive Officer Peter Terium said. “RWE will become the third largest player in the European offshore market this year.”

Strange as it may seem to Americans, European conservatives haven’t dedicated their political careers to standing in the way of switching to renewable energy sources and walking away from unhealthy fossil fuels, uneconomic nuclear power generation.

Republican Party wants to repeal law against offshore tax dodgers

The Republican Party is expected to approve a resolution this week, calling for repeal of an Obama administration law that is designed to crack down on offshore tax dodging…In what would be the party’s first appeal to scrap the law…

True to their dedication to time-wasting, we can expect 47 more attempts to follow another failure to make 19th Century capitalism the state religion.

Approved in 2010 after a tax-avoidance scandal involving a Swiss bank, FATCA requires most foreign banks and investment funds to report to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service information about U.S. customers’ accounts worth $50,000 or more…

Repeal seems unlikely, but more political heat from Republicans could further complicate and delay implementation, said financial industry lobbyists…

Defending the law, Treasury Department spokeswoman Erin Donar said in a statement: “FATCA continues to gain momentum and international support as we work with partners around the world to fight offshore tax evasion.”

In the tradition of rightwing politicians in American history, today’s Republicans want armies stationed around the world, highway and rail systems to move industrial products to market, a certain level of education [albeit minimal] and obedient Bob Cratchit-level bureaucrats to run the infrastructure – paid for exclusively by taxes on workingclass families, our ever-diminishing middle class. No taxes on wealthy individuals or corporations.

Perish the thought Republican family values include honesty, responsibility, paying your own way.

Tech contracts now requiring data storage offshore from USA

Firms in the UK and Canada are reportedly updating their cloud contracts to demand that their data be kept out of the US. The report doesn’t contain enough details, however, to say if this is a trend or an isolated incident.

Is this the backlash? A handful of companies are requiring cloud service providers to promise — in writing — that they won’t store any client data in the United States, according to Bloomberg.

The report says that a British grocery chain and a Canadian pharma company have responded to the ongoing US surveillance scandal by adding language to existing contracts that mandate suppliers to segment their data and keep it out of America.

The report of the revised contracts comes as the cloud computing industry continues to digest news that America’s National Security Agency is tapping underwater cables and infiltrating the servers of storage providers as part of a sweeping counter-terrorism program…

So does the Bloomberg report portend the start of a trend? It’s too soon to say. The report, which also claimed a Canadian agency had asked for the “no data in USA” clause, was based on a single source (an Indiana security firm known as Rook Consulting) and did not name any of the companies involved.

And, while such reports are eye-catching, they also provide a public relations opportunity for cloud providers outside of the US.. to drum up business. In the meantime, it’s unclear if European cloud providers have the capacity to take over existing large-scale data storage contracts, and to what degree companies’ existing cloud contracts dissuade them from switching services.

Are we to give thanks to the NSA for providing a great reason for offshoring business from the United States? Roberts’ article doesn’t ask the important question: What idiots in our government skipped past the question of how being the most intrusive Big Brother in the World would affect American businesses dependent on guaranteeing security to their clients?

If I was working in communications with valuable data there is no way on Earth I would trust an American corporation to provide me with anymore privacy than the American government seems to allow. Which is damned little.

Former Canadian officials consult on tax-dodging offshore

A CBC investigation found a former Canada Revenue Agency lawyer and a former Royal Bank of Canada executive giving advice on how to hide money offshore.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported…it turned up the tax-avoidance advisers during its undercover camera investigation into offshore banking practices.

The CBC and its French-language investigative program, Enquete, hired a private investigator to test 15 offshore service providers in Canada and abroad. The CBC said its experts assessed the advice given by the firms and found more than half provided advice that wouldn’t stand up to scrutiny concerning tax evasion.

The CBC said among those who doled out advice on how to avoid paying Canadian taxes in ways that wouldn’t pass regulators’ muster was Gilles Gosselin, who practiced law in Canada and used to work for the Canadian Revenue Agency before moving to Barbados, and Lynn Garner, a vice president with DGM, a private Barbados bank, who was once the trust manager for the Royal Bank of Canada in Barbados…

Gosselin told the CBC he told the network’s undercover investigator what he was contemplating was against the law in Canada…”But if he wants to go ahead and open a BVI company and manage his assets with the BVI company, until he’s actually gone there and done that, he hasn’t done anything wrong,” he said…

Garner initially told the undercover investigator her bank would never take a client seeking to avoid taxes, then proceeded to tell him how to go about doing just that, the CBC said.

Heartwarming to see former members of our northern neighbor’s government acting just like our own “late officials”.

Has Mitt Romney set up a consultancy in Ottawa, yet?

World’s wind turbines will pass the 300 gigawatt mark this year

The world will have enough wind turbines to generate more than 300 gigawatts of power – the equivalent of 114 nuclear power plants – by the end of the year, industry figures show.

As Brazil, China, Mexico and South Africa add turbines, the figure represents modest growth compared with a year ago, when the overall total capacity was just over 280 gigawatts…

Europe, which has led the world on wind, still represents around a third of all capacity, with more than 100 gigawatts, but its growth has been stalled by uncertainty as financial crisis has meant abrupt changes to subsidy regimes…

The most heated debate has been in Germany, ahead of elections in September, where the cost of energy and progress of implementing the nation’s Energiewende – or transition to green energy and away from nuclear fuel – are election issues.

Heavy industry has attacked renewable subsidies, arguing they add to costs and damage competitiveness, especially when the United States benefits from cheap shale gas.

Representatives of the renewable industry say they are working to produce energy that can compete economically with traditional sources, which would lower political risk.

They say they have made progress on onshore wind and solar, but for the huge scale of offshore wind, a technology still in its infancy, subsidies are essential, probably for the rest of the decade…

Wind energy executives note conventional fuel sources have long benefited from support in the form of tax breaks for oil and gas and government help in disposing of spent nuclear fuel.

State and federal subsidies have been part of construction costs for every kind of power station built in the last century. Not that the fact isn’t brought up as a special case by know-nothings who oppose reductions in the consumption of fossil fuel and the inevitable effects that has on environmental quality. Sometimes, subsidies are also added in to defray fuel costs, as well. Something never going to be needed by renewable sources like wind, solar and hydro.

Koch Brothers make a market in the dirtiest fuel on Earth


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Assumption Park gives residents of this city lovely views of the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit skyline. Lately they’ve been treated to another sight: a three-story pile of petroleum coke covering an entire city block on the other side of the Detroit River.

Detroit’s ever-growing black mountain is the unloved, unwanted and long overlooked byproduct of Canada’s oil sands boom…And no one knows quite what to do about it, except Koch Carbon, which owns it.

The company is controlled by Charles and David Koch, wealthy industrialists who back a number of conservative and libertarian causes including activist groups that challenge the science behind climate change. The company sells the high-sulfur, high-carbon waste, usually overseas, where it is burned as fuel.

The coke comes from a refinery alongside the river owned by Marathon Petroleum, which has been there since 1930. But it began refining exports from the Canadian oil sands — and producing the waste that is sold to Koch — only in November…

An initial refining process known as coking, which releases the oil from the tarlike bitumen in the oil sands, also leaves the petroleum coke, of which Canada has 79.8 million tons stockpiled. Some is dumped in open-pit oil sands mines and tailing ponds in Alberta. Much is just piled up there.

Detroit’s pile will not be the only one. Canada’s efforts to sell more products derived from oil sands to the United States, which include transporting it through the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, have pulled more coking south to American refineries, creating more waste product here…

Residents on both sides of the Detroit River are concerned that the coke mountain is both an environmental threat and an eyesore…

Coke, which is mainly carbon, is an essential ingredient in steelmaking as well as producing the electrical anodes used to make aluminum…While there is high demand from both those industries, the small grains and high sulfur content of this petroleum coke make it largely unusable for those purposes, said Kerry Satterthwaite, a petroleum coke analyst at Roskill Information Services, a commodities analysis company based in London.

It is worse than a byproduct,” Ms. Satterthwaite said.“It’s a waste byproduct that is costly and inconvenient to store, but effectively costs nothing to produce…”

The Environmental Protection Agency will no longer allow any new licenses permitting the burning of petroleum coke in the United States. But D. Mark Routt, a staff energy consultant at KBC Advanced Technologies in Houston, said that overseas companies saw it as a cheap alternative to low-grade coal. In China, it is used to generate electricity, adding to that country’s air-quality problems. There is also strong demand from India and Latin America for American petroleum coke, where it mainly fuels cement-making kilns.

“I’m not making a value statement, but it comes down to emission controls,” Mr. Routt said. “Other people don’t seem to have a problem, which is why it is going to Mexico, which is why it is going to China.”

“One man’s junk is another man’s treasure,” he said. One of the world’s largest dealers of petroleum coke is the Oxbow Corporation, which sells about 11 million tons of fuel-grade coke a year. It is owned by William I. Koch, a brother of David and Charles.

The people who deal in this deadly waste, who care less than any other clique in American capitalism about the lives, lifestyle and lifespan of ordinary American citizens – stockpile this crap alongside a metropolitan river. After turning an extra profit from a dirty byproduct of the dirtiest fuel source on Earth – they couldn’t care less about the air and water they befoul where they store this petro-coke before shipping it off to be burned. Then, in turn, the Koch Bros. profit from fouling the air of the whole planet.