Summertime is here

Installation by one of my favorite critters. Variously called balloon spiders or parachute spiders [generation dependent?] – they are tiny – and they spin out a long filament of their web into the wind till the lift is greater than their miniscule weight. Take off and fly like a balloonist until they reach a useful obstacle which they homestead.

Checked back through the blog and they’re 3 days earlier than last year. Pretty much always a June discovery and a solid sign of summer for me.

Brits just had their 1st week in a century without electricity from burning coal

❝ Britain has had its first week without using electricity from burning coal since the 1880s, according to the National Grid Electricity System Operator.

Fintan Slye, director of ESO, said this would become the “new normal”.

❝ The world’s first centralised public coal-fired generator opened in 1882 at Holborn Viaduct in London.

❝ Mr Slye said: “As more and more renewables come on to our energy system, coal-free runs like this are going to be a regular occurrence.

“We believe that by 2025, we will be able to fully operate Britain’s electricity system with zero carbon.”

What will it take for someone in our Department of Energy to say the same?

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.