Wind power now cheaper than NatGas


Click to enlargeNREL

❝ This week, the US Department of Energy released a report that looks back on the state of wind power in the US by running the numbers on 2018. The analysis shows that wind hardware prices are dropping, even as new turbine designs are increasing the typical power generated by each turbine. As a result, recent wind farms have gotten so cheap that you can build and operate them for less than the expected cost of buying fuel for an equivalent natural gas plant…

❝ Overall, that brings the US’ installed capacity up to nearly 100GW. That leaves only China ahead of the US, although the gap is substantial with China having more than double the US’ installed capacity. It still leaves wind supplying only 6.5 percent of the US’ total electricity in 2018, though, which places it behind a dozen other countries. Four of them—Denmark, Germany, Ireland, and Portugal—get over 20 percent of their total electric needs supplied by wind, with Denmark at over 40 percent.

❝ That figure is notable, as having over 30 percent of your power supplied by an intermittent source is a challenge for many existing grids. But there are a number of states that have now cleared the 30 percent threshold: Kansas, Iowa, and Oklahoma, with the two Dakotas not far behind. The Southwest Power Pool, which serves two of those states plus wind giant Texas, is currently getting a quarter of its electricity from wind…

So while wind remains a small factor in the total electricity market in the US, there are parts of the country where it’s a major factor in the generating mix. And, given the prices, those parts are likely to expand.

So-called cultural lag is a joke when American politics is called into play. We still function by 19th Century standards of knowledge, support, guidance and, especially, profit. If coal was still as profitable as plentiful, Congress wouldn’t care if we all died of Black Lung disease as long as the money kept rolling in. Creeps like Trump and McConnell would have even fatter wallets.

World’s #1 wind-power producer budgeting almost $15 billion for US construction the next 4 years

❝ …The world’s largest wind-power producer, Iberdrola SA, has brushed off Big Oil’s embrace of renewable energy as “more noise” than action.

Major oil and gas firms have been venturing into renewable power under pressure from climate-change policy, collectively spending around 1 percent of their 2018 budgets on clean energy…

❝ However, Iberdrola Chief Executive Ignacio Galan, who has led the Spanish utility for 17 years, shrugged when asked in a Reuters interview if Big Oil represented a competitive threat.

“It’s good that they have moved in this direction but they make more noise than the reality,” he said on Thursday on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland…

❝ He said U.S. states were more influential than Washington in terms of energy investment, and that several were looking to develop America’s first offshore wind farms, from Massachusetts down to North Carolina and New York across to California.

“The states are more and more committed to moving to renewables and the same is true of the cities and towns,” he said, adding that falling generation costs of renewable energy was a big driver of the U.S. adoption of wind and solar power.

Woo-hoo. I knew they were taking on the first big US wind-power project off Martha’s Vineyard. Hadn’t realized the size of their immediate follow-on commitment. [Davos has been really interesting this year and the coverage from Bloomberg TV has been stellar.]

Cheaper to build a new wind farm than to keep a coal plant running


No Coal Smoke in These Skies

Wind power costs have dropped as utilities have turned to bigger and bigger turbines, which can produce more energy. The largest turbines installed today can produce double the power they could’ve a decade ago, according to the Energy Information Administration, dramatically increasing the amount of power a parcel of land can produce. Wind and solar installation has also gotten more competitive, driving the development of more efficient technology.

The Investment Bank Lazard also noted that wind and solar farms typically require fewer people to run than a coal or nuclear plant, further decreasing their cost.

And, of course, it’s expensive enough trying to save crap coal-generated electricity, you have to add in the cost of bribes to pimps like Trump.

World’s Largest Offshore Wind Farm Opens in the Irish Sea


Click to enlarge

Orsted A/S unveiled the world’s largest offshore wind farm, an 87-turbine complex in the Irish Sea covering an area more than double the size of Manhattan.

The Walney Extension off the coast of northwest England has a generating capacity of 659 megawatts and is capable of powering 590,000 homes, according to Danish company Orsted, the world’s biggest developer of offshore wind farms.

The only functioning wind farm in the United States exists at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC.

China selling off oil it no longer needs

The pace at which China exports the fuel it doesn’t want is set to jump by more than four times in 2018, according to the nation’s biggest energy producer.

That’s a harbinger of bad news for processors in the rest of Asia — from South Korea to Japan and India — who now have to contend with higher crude prices as well as the threat of the flood dragging down refining margins. Government-issued quotas to sell oil products abroad may also expand this year in order to ease a large supply glut in the domestic market, an analyst at China National Petroleum Corp. said on Tuesday.

China’s net oil-product exports — a measure that strips out imports — may climb about 31 percent to 46.8 million metric tons this year, CNPC said in its annual report released in Beijing. Shipments rose about 7 percent in 2017.

In particular, exports of diesel — also known as gasoil — are expected to soar 47 percent to 23.8 million tons in 2018 from a year earlier, according to the CNPC report.

Yup. Countries smart enough to walk away from fossil fuels, pollution, economists and politicians with fossilized brains – end up with “problems” like selling off the excess crap they no longer need or want. One of the early results from switching to renewables like wind and solar-generated electricity.

California has beaucoup solar power — so much that other states are sometimes paid to take it

❝ On 14 days during March, Arizona utilities got a gift from California: free solar power.

Well, actually better than free. California produced so much solar power on those days that it paid Arizona to take excess electricity its residents weren’t using to avoid overloading its own power lines…

The number of days that California dumped its unused solar electricity would have been even higher if the state hadn’t ordered some solar plants to reduce production — even as natural gas power plants, which contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, continued generating electricity…

❝ Why doesn’t California, a champion of renewable energy, use all the solar power it can generate?…

❝ The answer, in part, is that the state has achieved dramatic success in increasing renewable energy production in recent years. But it also reflects sharp conflicts among major energy players in the state over the best way to weave these new electricity sources into a system still dominated by fossil-fuel-generated power

That’s the polite way to put it.

❝ …The California Legislature has mandated that one-half of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2030; today it’s about one-fourth. That goal once was considered wildly optimistic. But solar panels have become much more efficient and less expensive. So solar power is now often the same price or cheaper than most other types of electricity, and production has soared so much that the target now looks laughably easy to achieve.

At the same time, however, state regulators — who act independently of the Legislature — until recently have continued to greenlight utility company proposals to build more natural gas power plants.

Generally, when folks are sleeping in a strange bed it involves sex or money or both. RTFA and decide how much of each is involved.

The World’s Largest Coal Company Is Shutting Down 37 Mines


Channi Anand

❝ Coal India — a government-backed coal company – is reportedly closing 37 of its “unviable” mines in the next year to cut back on losses.

India is primed for an energy revolution. The country’s ongoing economic growth has been powered by fossil fuels in the past, making it one of the top five largest energy consumers in the world. But it has also invested heavily in renewables, and the cost of solar power is now cheaper than ever. In some instances, villages in India have avoided coal-powered electricity altogether, and “leapfrogged” straight to solar power…

❝ India’s energy situation is changing so fast that even expert predictions about its switch to renewables are wildly off: A study from last year claimed India would be building more than 300 coal plants in the next 10 years, but experts said the data was already outdated by the time the report was published, and that India would be moving toward renewables instead.

The decline of Coal India, which produces 80 percent of the country’s domestic coal output, is more evidence that we are collectively moving away from fossil fuels as cleaner, renewable technologies become more widely available. This reality is important to grasp in every country where coal used to be king. Even as Donald Trump promises coal jobs, let’s remember that those jobs aren’t likely to come back.

❝ And for countries like India, where companies like Coal India employ more than 300,000 people, training people to work in more viable energy markets will be increasingly important to provide sustainable livelihoods. Luckily, it looks like the solar industry will have some job openings.

The same is true in the United States on a smaller scale. US mines are highly automated compared to India. Still, the possibilities for new jobs are at least as strong – if we only had state and federal governments in place that cared more about retraining workers for new jobs than guaranteeing profits for out-of-date lobbyists and corporate CEOs.

The Power of Wind Revisits the North Sea Courtesy of G.E. and Germany


G.E’s DolWin3 floating wind power platform

❝ General Electric Co. said it’s ready to ship a 1.5 billion euro offshore wind platform destined for the North Sea, underscoring the industrial giant’s commitment to clean power.

The platform is a key part of the DolWin3 offshore project and will help transmit wind power generated in the North Sea, according to Alf Henryk Wulf, who heads GE’s power unit in Germany, which led construction of the unit. Wulf didn’t want to discuss U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to quit the Paris accord during an interview at a port in Rostock, Germany where the 900-megawatt high-voltage converter was built.

❝ Commissioned by grid builder Tennet Holding BV, Dolwin3 is undergoing final dry-dock tests before being floated around Denmark and into the North Sea. The platform will bundle power from three wind farms next year, transmitting high-voltage direct current onshore, where it can then be reconverted to alternating currents for use in homes.

“As offshore prices fall, the North Sea’s potential for offshore is shining even brighter,” Wulf said. “We all owe it to consumers to engage that potential.”…

And Trump’s favorite coal investors get little or nothing from their best pimp.

❝ Germany, which holds the rotating presidency of the Group of Twenty nations, has sought to keep the U.S. on board the Paris treaty, wooing Trump with projections that a global shift from fossil fuel would create jobs and stimulate economic growth.

Just 1 percent of the North Sea’s offshore potential has been exploited, and billions of euros in future investment will be needed to tap the rest, Siemens said last month. Dong Energy SA and Energie Baden-Wuerrtemberg AG won Germany’s maiden auction of 1.49 gigawatts of offshore power in April offering to build parks free of subsidies.

I don’t think anyone holds out hope for reality, evidence-based investing or modern science to mean a damned thing to our so-called president.

California cranked out so much solar power this spring that wholesale electricity ran negative$

❝ The extraordinary success of solar power in some pockets of the world that combine sunshine with high investment in the technology mean that governments and energy companies are having radically to rethink the way they manage—and charge for—electricity.

California is one such a place.

❝ On March 11, it passed a milestone on the route to powering the whole state sustainably. For the first time, more than half the power needs of the entire state came from solar power for a few hours that day…

The power came from utility-scale solar photovoltaic farms, solar thermal plants, and the panels installed on private homes. Based on the data it collects, the EIA estimated that in each hour of peak times, that total capacity produced 4 million kWh of electricity on March 11…

❝ The spikes also have a big effect on wholesale energy prices, which dipped to zero or even to negative territory this spring during certain hours in California…That’s in sharp contrast to the same hours (8am to 2pm) in the month of March between 2013 and 2015, when average hourly wholesale prices ranged from $14-45 MWh.

Negative prices usually happen because there’s a glut of renewable energy, but non-renewable generators are also producing. They don’t shut them off completely because of the high costs of restarting.

California now accounts for a sizable chunk of the US market, having the highest energy demand of any state after Texas. It also has almost half of all the solar power in the US.

❝ This doesn’t mean, however, that Californians are paying nothing for their power because wholesale prices don’t translate directly into retail prices, which are based on averages, not single days. But it will mean energy companies start to rethink how they deliver and charge for electricity as the mix of renewables increases.

Unless, of course, you’re a public utility, fossil fuel producer or dimwit politician who hopes and prays that renewable power sources just disappear.

Ohio fossil fuel pimps pass anti-wind bill that costs schools hundred$ of thousand$ of dollar$


Give frackers a chance to match Ohio earthquakes with Oklahoma 🙂

❝ Superintendent Ken Amstutz dreamed of propelling his rural Ohio school district into a high-tech future with nearly a million dollars in annual revenue from a single wind farm set to go online this year.

That was until the state legislature blocked wind development across Ohio, halting construction of the Long Prairie Wind Farm and leaving Amstutz’s district in financial limbo…

❝ Revenue from the Long Prairie Wind Farm in Van Wert City would have delivered Chromebooks to every student in the district, Amstutz said. It would have ensured existing programs stay in effect and allowed the school to expand its science, math, and performing arts curricula. Teachers would have gotten raises, and the district would have had the resources to support new, innovative programs…

❝ A short drive up the road from Van Wert City Schools, students of Lincolnview Schools saw a different ending to the same story. That district benefits from a program that allows wind companies to provide a portion of their revenue to the local community — 80 percent to schools, 20 percent to the township — instead of paying taxes. Lincolnview’s clean-energy benefactor is the Blue Creek Wind Farm, which went up before the setback rule was changed. The project, which consists of 152 turbines that can power up to 76,000 homes, contributes $400,000 annually to local schools, funding classes like pre-engineering and biomedical.

“Additional revenue allows us to think out of the box and do something new,” said Linconview Superintendent Jeff Snyder. “We’ve been able to pay for new programs, classes, and technologies as a one-time expenditure. We’ve hired a couple of additional teachers, as well as a Special Ed director and a curriculum director… That money is not leaving our area to go somewhere else. It’s staying in our district to benefit our kids and future generations of students as well.”

❝ Lawmakers and lobbyists have seized on local opposition to wind power to pass policies that favor oil and natural gas — despite the fact that infrastructure-related risks, infringement on property rights, and nuisance issues used to justify the state’s aggressive resistance to wind can be common with fossil fuel extraction.

This doesn’t faze Ohio State Sen. Bill Seitz (R), who says that “cheap and plentiful” natural gas doesn’t threaten homeowners because, unlike wind turbines, gas infrastructure operates underground.

Like many Republicans or Conservative Democrats, fracking, problems with gas pipelines are nothing to be concerned about. No doubt they get their campaign checks right on time, too.

❝ There is still hope for the landowners, farmers, families, and schools of northwest Ohio who have not reaped the benefits of wind power…House Bill 190, introduced in 2015, would give setback and siting decisions to individual counties. If that bill is signed into law, schools across the state could see decades of revenue they desperately need.

Ohio state Sen. Cliff Hite (R), who voted for the bill that pulled the plug on Van Wert’s school funding, hopes to revive commercial wind development with HB 190. “I believe these projects should have the chance to thrive where people want them,” he said. “And I believe they will live to fight another day.”

The concept of elected officials providing leadership to a better future – instead of marching lockstep back into some imaginary past – remains an alien concept to an awful lot of Americans. Time to get up off your rusty- dusty folks and fightback.