May 5 2013

Solar replaces utilities

Kal @ 18:25

On May 2 Avedon posted this interesting bit about the disruptive effect of cheap solar and other forms of alternative energy:

"To keep the lights on, Oslo needs to import trash from the U.S.: Did you know that the city of Oslo is powered by garbage? Amazing and true. The Norwegian capital, home to about 650,000 residents, operates two enormous incinerators which supply the city with about 1.5 terawatt-hours of power." I've always wondered why nobody did this, and now it turns out that somebody is, but we're not hearing about it. I know why we're not hearing about it, of course - the energy industry we have is dependent on our not pursuing alternatives. That's why they work so hard to kill renewable projects like solar power. In fact, they recently released their own report (quietly - and the press didn't seem to notice) saying that they expect to be put out of business by renewables: "Just the other day, Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers said, 'If the cost of solar panels keeps coming down, installation costs come down and if they combine solar with battery technology and a power management system, then we have someone just using [the grid] for backup.' What happens if a whole bunch of customers start generating their own power and using the grid merely as backup? The EEI report warns of 'irreparable damages to revenues and growth prospects' of utilities."

Tags:

Category: Beyond Petroleum | Economics | Solar

Jun 4 2010

Beyond Petroleum – Can anyone still think more petroleum is good?

Kal @ 09:07

Petroleum related disasters everywhere. The Gulf is burning. The climate is deteriorating. Europe is broke. The US has nearly 20% unemployment. Other regions have even more. People are hungry and homeless.

Isn’t it about time to think about alternative ways to organize the distribution of goods and services? What we are doing is clearly not working.

But all I hear from officialdom is “more of the same”, possibly better, but more of the same basically.

No discussion of whether it is a jungle we live in, or a community? There is a lot of discussion of The Market, and how efficient it is. The Market looks a lot like a very complex jungle to me, where the strong win and the weak get eaten.

Tags:

Category: Beyond Petroleum | Climate Change | Peak Oil | Politics | Population | Solar | Sustainability | Steady-State Economics

May 28 2010

Beyond Petroleum – Wind and Solar are better deals

Kal @ 09:30

Offshore oil vs. offshore wind ... who wins?

How many offshore wind turbines could have been bought for the cost of 1 Deepwater Horizon? The answer is enlightening.

More...

Tags:

Category: Climate Change | Peak Oil | Politics | Solar | Sustainability

May 26 2010

Beyond Petroleum

Kal @ 12:38

It is time to go Beyond Petroleum.  Way beyond petroleum, all the way to solar.

Start the drums rolling.

Tags:

Category: Climate Change | Peak Oil | Resource Depletion | Solar | Steady-State Economics | Sustainability

Apr 22 2010

Is collapse inevitable?

Kal @ 10:39

John Michael Greer has another of his well thought out posts up again at The Archdruid Report titled Economic Superstitions.

Economics is our modern superstition – well, one of them, at any rate, and one of the most popular among the political class of today’s industrial societies. Like any other superstition, it has a core of pragmatic wisdom to it, but that core has been overlaid with a great deal of somewhat questionable logic. My wife’s Welsh ancestors believed that the bowl of milk on the back stoop pleased the fairies, and that’s why the rats stayed away from the kitchen garden; the economists of the twentieth century believed that expanding the money supply pleased – well, the prosperity fairies, or something not too dissimilar – and that’s why depressions stayed away from the United States.

In both cases it’s arguable that something very different was going on. The gargantuan economic boom that made America the world’s largest economy had plenty of causes; the accident of political geography that kept its industrial hinterlands from becoming war zones, while most other industrial nations got the stuffing pounded out of them, had more than a little to do with the matter; but the crucial point, one too often neglected in studies of twentieth century history, was the simple fact that the United States at midcentury produced more petroleum than all the other countries on Earth put together. The oceans of black gold on which the US floated to victory in two world wars defined the economic reality of an epoch. As a result, most of what passed for economic policy in the last sixty years or so amounted to attempts to figure out how to make use of unparalleled abundance.

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Tags:

Category: Climate Change | Economics | Peak Oil | Politics | Resource Depletion | Solar | Sustainability

Nov 19 2009

A Plan to Power the US NOW 100% Without Imported Oil

Kal @ 11:27

This radical idea comes from John Michael Greer on his blog in a piece titled: Facing the Deindustrial Age

Thus it's one thing to try to find some way to power today's industrial system with renewable sources while leaving intact the structures of everyday life that give our civilization its extravagant appetite for energy. It's quite another thing, and much closer to the realm of the possible, to use renewable energy to meet the far more modest energy requirements of an agrarian society. Especially in North America, restating the question in this way opens up immense possibilities. Very few people who live on this continent, for instance, have noticed that it's only our energy-wasting lifestyles that keep us dependent on imported oil -- with all the unwelcome economic and political consequences that brings. Even 35 years after its own Hubbert peak, the United States is still one of the largest producers of oil on Earth. If the average American used only as much energy per year as the average European, America would be exporting oil, not importing it. Only our insistence on clinging to the dysfunctional lifestyles of an age that is passing away keeps such an obviously constructive goal off the table in discussions of national energy policy.

I will repeat the money line for emphasis: If the average American used only as much energy per year as the average European, America would be exporting oil, not importing it.

Of course, cutting consumption is not the only thing we should be doing. We should be adding renewable energy sources as fast as they can be manufactured until only the most basic transportation needs are powered by oil. If we limit the use of fossil fuels to powering airplanes, we probably have enough to last quite a long time.

Tags:

Category: Sustainability | Solar | Resource Depletion | Politics | Economics | Climate Change

Nov 5 2009

A Plan to Power 100 Percent of the Planet with Renewables

Kal @ 10:23

From the November 2009 Scientific American Magazine. Download the Full Paper from paper by Jacobson and Delucchi.

Key Concepts
Supplies of wind and solar energy on accessible land dwarf the energy consumed by people around the globe.

The authors’ plan calls for 3.8 million large wind turbines, 90,000 solar plants, and numerous geothermal, tidal and rooftop photovoltaic installations worldwide.

The cost of generating and transmitting power would be less than the projected cost per kilowatt-hour for fossil-fuel and nuclear power.

Shortages of a few specialty materials, along with lack of political will, loom as the greatest obstacles.

In December leaders from around the world will meet in Copenhagen to try to agree on cutting back greenhouse gas emissions for decades to come. The most effective step to implement that goal would be a massive shift away from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy sources. If leaders can have confidence that such a transformation is possible, they might commit to an historic agreement. We think they can.

Tags:

Category: Sustainability | Steady-State Economics | Solar | Resource Depletion | Politics | Peak Oil | Climate Change

Sep 11 2009

Solar Can Power The World

Kal @ 09:50

 

Surface Area Required To Solar Power The World

September 3, 2009

Surface Area Required To Power The World Using Solar Panels Alone - Click for larger image

 

 

According to the United Nations 170,000 square kilometers of forest is destroyed each year. If we constructed solar farms at the same rate, we would be finished in 3 years.

 

 

From the NY Times, 9/9/2009

$4.1 Billion in Orders for Thin-Film Solar

Since its founding in 2002, Nanosolar has raised a lot of money – half a billion dollars to date – and made a lot of noise about upending the solar industry, but the Silicon Valley start-up has been a bit vague on specifics about why it’s the next big green thing.
On Wednesday, Nanosolar pulled back the curtain on its thin-film photovoltaic cell technology — which it claims is more efficient and less expensive than that of industry leader First Solar — and announced that it has secured $4.1 billion in orders for its solar panels.
Martin Roscheisen, Nanosolar’s chief executive, said customers included solar power plant developers like NextLight, AES Solar and Beck Energy of Germany.
The typical Nanosolar farm will be between 2 and 20 megawatts in size, Mr. Roscheisen said in an e-mail message from Germany, where he was attending the opening of Nanosolar’s new factory near Berlin. “This is a sweet spot in terms of ease of permitting and distributed deployment without having to tax the transmission infrastructure.”
Nanosolar, based in San Jose, Calif., has developed a solar cell made from copper indium gallium (di)selenide. The semiconducting materials and nanoparticles are contained within a proprietary ink that makes it possible to print flexible solar cells on rolls of cheap aluminum foil.

Nanosolar details  (pdf)

Tags:

Category: Climate Change | Economics | Resource Depletion | Sustainability | Solar

Jun 9 2009

Al Gore - Putting his house in order

Kal @ 16:32

This is another in my WingNut Email series, and once again, hat tip to Greg for sending it along. Another came from Murray yesterday, but it was just to bizarre to even try to make sense of so I did not bother to write about it. Something about how the Obama Cairo speech failed to indict all Muslims for the invasion of Europe in 732.

The email lays out in great detail various facts about Al Gore's large house in Tennessee, including that it is large and old and uses a great deal of electricity and natural gas to keep it going. I have not been able to find the date of building. Or of the email either, it is also apparently badly out of date.

The email then points out that the former Bush ranch near Crawford, TX is very energy efficient. What it does not mention is that the Bush ranch was purchased just in time for the presidential election as a stage prop, was never lived in by the Bush family, and was abandoned/sold even before the Obama inauguration. It was used for vacations and photo sets.

The point of this and other attacks on Gore seems to be that 'if Gore is not a saint, then global warming is a hoax', and besides, Al Gore warmed up the planet single handedly, so na, na, na-na, na. Of course global warming is not about Al Gore, or even George Bush, but it is still kind of fun to poke holes in the hypocrisy of pieces like this. 20090609 gore solar panels

This photo is of the solar panels on the roof of Al Gore's house and was found in Tree Hugger dated 6/12/2007. So anyone circulating the current email has had plenty of time to get it right.

The following is from Drew Johnson On Al Gore’s House

The Gores honored Earth Hour by shutting off the lights at their residence. The heating and air conditioning were turned off as well. But more importantly, the Gores live in a Gold LEED certified home, powered by geothermal power. They have undergone renovations to put solar panels on the roof and participate in all of the renewable power programs offered by their local utility. They aren’t perfect, no family is, but they do their best, year-round to try to make a difference at home and across the country to make a difference on the climate crisis.

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Tags:

Category: Climate Change | Morals | Politics | Solar | Sustainability | wingnuttery

May 9 2009

Reality Strikes Again - The time for climate action is now!

Kal @ 20:29

  Potsdam Institute For Climate Impact Research discussing an article in Nature, International weekly journal of science.

On the way to phasing out emissions: More than 50% reductions needed by 2050 to respect 2°C climate target

 


Illustrative Figure for free use:

Meinshausen_etal_SimpleFigure_big.jpg   Two possible futures: One in which no climate policies are implemented (red), and one with strong action to mitigate emissions (blue). Shown are fossil CO2 emissions (top panel) and corresponding global warming (bottom panel). The shown mitigation pathway limits fossil and land-use related CO2 emissions to 1000 billion tonnes CO2 over the first half of the 21st century with near-zero net emissions thereafter. Greenhouse gas emissions of this pathway in year 2050 are ~70% below 1990 levels. Without climate policies, global warming will cross 2°C by the middle of the century. Strong mitigation actions according to the blue route would limit the risk of exceeding 2°C to 25%.

...

April 30, 2009 - Less than a quarter of the proven fossil fuel reserves can be burnt and emitted between now and 2050, if global warming is to be limited to two degrees Celsius (2°C), says a new study published in the journal Nature today (1).

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Tags:

Category: Climate Change | Politics | Solar | Steady-State Economics