Coal-fired electricity now crashing faster under Trump


Click to enlargeplanetenergynews.com

❝ More coal plants are now projected to retire more quickly than experts thought a year ago, according to energy-industry analysts who gathered in Chicago…

Three alternative energy sources — wind, solar and natural gas — are expected to divide up the spoils, they said at the American Wind Energy Association’s Windpower 2018 conference…

❝ The projection changed in part because of more announced retirements, Bruce Hamilton said, “but more importantly, the fundamentals of the economics of coal have gotten worse, with costs going up, while the competition for coal—that is, gas, wind and solar—has all gotten cheaper. So it’s getting to the point where huge swings are forecast. You can see it will be throughout the decade.”

NatGas is replacing dewatted coal powerplants faster than any source, so far. That’s also a good symptom for renewables. NatGas plants can swing online faster than any coal or nuclear plant could. That aids fill-in for downtime from renewables like solar and wind power.

“Old” Energy buys into “New” Energy

❝ A decade ago, EON SE and RWE AG were two of Germany’s most valuable companies and their businesses were roughly similar: they generated power (much of it from coal and nuclear), ran energy networks and sold electricity to end consumers.

The complex asset swap and share issue they announced over the weekend — including the divvying up of RWE-controlled Innogy SE’s assets — is the last death knell for that all-encompassing model. EON will become a company focused purely on energy networks and retail customers, while RWE will combine the two companies’ renewables businesses.

❝ If EON and RWE can prevail, other utilities may follow. Utility investors would then be able to decide what future they believe in: a world where solar and wind energy is cheap and so what matters are cash-generating networks and end-customers (EON). Or one in which the whole economy is electrified and the electricity generator is king (RWE). At least we’d have a choice.

Either road, we consumers, citizens of Planet Earth, stand a better chance for an affordable, long and healthful life.

Alberta energy revolution begins with largest solar project in Western Canada


Alongside the Trans-Canada Highway

There usually isn’t much to look at driving the Trans-Canada Highway through southeast Alberta, aside from the occasional bobbing pumpjack, the odd herd of cattle and the abundance of brown prairie grass.

That’s one reason why a new solar project outside the city of Brooks is so jarring. Seeing the 30-hectare site filled with solar panels is not only a sharp contrast to the landscape, but also to the province and its massive oil and gas industry.

The Brooks project, which launched last week, is the first utility scale solar facility in Western Canada, far surpassing any other solar project currently operating. This is the first of several renewable energy projects to be constructed in Alberta as the province shifts away from coal power plants.

They need a windbag like Trump to blow away the snow.

Wind Power Set a New Green Energy Record in Europe Last Week


Click to enlargeGetty Images

❝ On October 28, wind power sources from 28 countries in the EU set a new record: they provided 24.6% of total electricity — enough to power 197 million European households.

Though the spike in power was likely due to the powerful storm that passed over Europe that weekend, with 153.7 Gigawatts of wind power capacity installed in the EU (including the largest offshore wind farm off the coast of Kent) Europe is on its way to becoming a major force for renewable energy…

❝ …Offshore wind energy is now cheaper than nuclear energy in the UK, and countries across Europe receive significant portions of energy from wind. Denmark regularly gets more than 100 percent of its energy from wind (and hit 109% last weekend), while wind frequently provides Germany more than half of its electricity. Additionally, Scotland recently made news in opening the first floating wind farm, which should provide power to 10,000 homes.

Additionally, with new wind farms being constructed offshore, these high records are likely just the beginning of a new norm for European energy. Denmark’s Ørsted Energy is currently working on the world’s largest offshore wind farm for the UK, which will have the capacity of 1200 Megawatts when it opens in 2020—and they’re under contract to build what will become the next largest offshore wind farm, also in the UK, with a planned capacity of 1386 MW when it opens in 2022.

Gee, Republicans say the United States is incapable of reaching similar goals. They’re already happy with second-rate…from the White House to Congress.

Being led by third-rate minds makes it easier, I guess.

Lessons from Germany’s Transition from Coal to Renewables

❝ Seventy-seven-year-old Heinz Spahn—whose blue eyes are both twinkling and stern — vividly recalls his younger days. The Zollverein coal mine, where he worked in the area of Essen, Germany, was so clogged with coal dust, he remembers, that people would stir up a black cloud whenever they moved. “It was no pony farm,” he says — using the sardonic German phrase to describe the harsh conditions: The roar of machines was at a constant 110 decibels, and the men were nicknamed waschbar, or “raccoons,” for the black smudges that permanently adorned their faces.

Today, the scene at Zollverein is very different. Inside the coal washery where Spahn once worked—the largest building in the Zollverein mining complex — the air is clean, and its up to 8,000 miners have been replaced by one-and-a-half million tourists annually. The whole complex is now a UNESCO world heritage site: Spahn, who worked here as a fusion welder until the mine shut down on December 23, 1986, is employed as a guide to teach tourists about its history. “I know this building in and out. I know every screw,” he says fondly.

Zollverein is a symbol of Germany’s transition away from fossil fuels toward renewable energy — a program called the Energiewende that aims to have 80 percent of the country’s energy generated from renewables by 2050. That program has transformed Germany into a global poster child for green energy. But what does the transition mean for residents of Essen and the rest of the Ruhr region — the former industrial coal belt—whose lives and livelihoods have been dramatically altered by the reduced demand for coal? The answer to that could hold some useful lessons for those undergoing similar transitions elsewhere…

The trade unions are stronger in Germany than in the United States. Progressive politicians are often voted into office – locally and nationally – in Germany. There has been legitimate, strong pressure exerted upon government and corporations alike in Germany. RTFA and see what a difference that has made in the transition away from the most polluting energy sources.

The Light from Coal begins to Flicker and Die in Colorado


Valmont Power PlantPaul Aiken/Daily Camera

❝ Xcel Energy Colorado has closed several coal plants over the past decade, usually to address air quality concerns in metro Denver. Those early closures have typically resulted in higher electricity rates for its customers.

But last week, the state’s largest utility made an economic argument for shuttering two of its coal-burning units in Pueblo a decade ahead of schedule, saying the move would address public demands for cleaner energy, significantly reduce air pollution, and lower electricity costs.

❝ Xcel Energy submitted its Colorado Energy Plan to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, including a request to shut down two units at the Comanche Generation Station in Pueblo with a capacity of 660 megawatts.

Bids will go out to replace that generation later this year, part of a much larger request for up to 1,000 megawatts of wind, 700 megawatts of solar and 700 megawatts of natural gas generation.

“We expect the Colorado Energy Plan portfolio will come in lower than current costs. It will significantly reduce customer bills,” said Erin Overturf, chief energy counsel at Western Resource Advocates, one of 14 groups involved in working out the agreement with Xcel.

As as the cost of producing electricity becomes cheaper and cheaper, the arguments for switching away from internal combustion engines to drive private transport and commerce will die along with the ideology of fools who advocate for suffocation and stillbirth. Profits rooted in unsound technology will drive profit only for fools and those who think they need fools to govern.

139 countries could be 100% powered by wind, water, and solar energy by 2050

❝ The latest roadmap to a 100% renewable energy future from Stanford’s Mark Z. Jacobson and 26 colleagues is the most specific global vision yet, outlining infrastructure changes that 139 countries can make to be entirely powered by wind, water, and sunlight by 2050 after electrification of all energy sectors.

Such a transition could mean less worldwide energy consumption due to the efficiency of clean, renewable electricity; a net increase of over 24 million long-term jobs; an annual decrease in 4-7 million air pollution deaths per year; stabilization of energy prices; and annual savings of over $20 trillion in health and climate costs…

❝ The challenge…is one of the greatest of our time. The roadmaps developed by Jacobson’s group provide one possible endpoint. For each of the 139 nations, they assess the raw renewable energy resources available to each country, the number of wind, water, and solar energy generators needed to be 80% renewable by 2030 and 100% by 2050, how much land and rooftop area these power sources would require (only around 1% of total available, with most of this open space between wind turbines that can be used for multiple purposes), and how this approach would reduce energy demand and cost compared with a business-as-usual scenario…

❝ …Jacobson says that the overall cost to society (the energy, health, and climate cost) of the proposed system is one-fourth of that of the current fossil fuel system. In terms of upfront costs, most of these would be needed in any case to replace existing energy, and the rest is an investment that far more than pays itself off over time by nearly eliminating health and climate costs.

RTFA for a clear exposition. There’s a link available to the original paper published in JOULE. Much heavier reading. A necessity for real scientific analysis and review.

U.S. Military Marches Toward Energy Independence


Hill AFBOfficial White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

The U.S. is at a transformative moment in electricity. And the military is helping us move toward a new era of independence.

❝ The U.S. electrical grid was ranked by the National Academy of Engineering as the greatest achievement of the 20th century, and it was this vast infrastructure that helped to power our economy, enhance our communities and light up our lives. But the centralized power grid is not perfect, and it faces an array of risks from natural disasters to human and cyber attacks.

As electricity becomes more and more critical in our lives, wide-ranging blackouts won’t just be a personal annoyance — they could cripple our economy. A diversified energy portfolio that includes renewable generation creates a more resilient grid. A recent draft of a report from the Department of Energy also concluded that wind and solar energy create a more reliable grid.

❝ The added security provided by renewables is why everyone — from the military to Fortune 100 companies — is finding ways to use clean reliable distributed power systems to support their operations.

RTFA to learn how this understanding makes sense. Moving forward.

Future economics: This is how Big Oil will die

❝ It’s 2025, and 800,000 tons of used high strength steel is coming up for auction.

❝ The steel made up the Keystone XL pipeline, finally completed in 2019, two years after the project launched with great fanfare after approval by the Trump administration. The pipeline was built at a cost of about $7 billion, bringing oil from the Canadian tar sands to the US, with a pit stop in the town of Baker, Montana, to pick up US crude from the Bakken formation. At its peak, it carried over 500,000 barrels a day for processing at refineries in Texas and Louisiana.

But in 2025, no one wants the oil.

Thanks, @Smartalix

Chinese province runs seven days on renewable energy alone


Click to enlarge

❝ Northwest China’s Qinghai Province has just run for seven straight days entirely on renewable energy.

From June 17 to midnight of June 23, Qinghai used only wind, solar and hydro power stations.

Quan Shengming, general manager of the provincial grid company, said during the period, electricity use was 1.1 billion kilowatt hours, equivalent to 535,000 tons of coal.

❝ Hydro power plants supplied 72.3 percent of the electricity, with new energy like wind and solar supplying the remainder for the province, which is home to 5.8 million people, said Han Ti, vice general manager.

Laxiwa hydro-power station in Guide county, is the largest on the upper stream of the Yellow River. On average, it generates 10.2 billion kilowatt hours a year…

❝ Home to the source of China’s major rivers, Qinghai has strong hydro-power and solar supplies.

Clean energy is the ultimate way. We need to reduce reliance on fossil fuel, improve our energy structure, and reduce carbon emissions,” said Han.

It’s happening all around the world. In the United States, the changeover will continue upon the efforts of states and localities – now that we have a federal government run by 18th Century ideologues.