Please support this Forum and Neven's Blog

Author Topic: But, but, but, the United States  (Read 654 times)

rboyd

  • ASIF Citizen
  • Posts: 115
    • View Profile
But, but, but, the United States
« on: April 07, 2017, 08:01:54 PM »
Given the move of the United States into a position of climate hooliganism and outright pandering to the fossil fuel industry, I feel that its appropriate to have a topic specifically for that country. There are a number of areas that the U.S. is relatively unique in:

1. The large-scale of the privately owned fossil fuel organizations, with their related oligarch owners (e.g. Koch Industries) that are very directly involved in all aspects of societal and political opinion forming and decision making. Together with the huge corporations, such as Exxon Mobil. No other advanced industrialized country has such as scale of fossil fuel interests. The value of their assets is directly threatened by substantive action to reduce fossil-fuel usage.

2. The complete lack of any control over the ability of the rich and corporations to use money as a political tool.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/24/books/review/dark-money-by-jane-mayer.html

http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/donald-trump-american-oligarch

3. Major increases in indigenous fossil fuel production due to the fracking revolution. Falls in U.S. electricity-related CO2 emissions have mainly come from a switch from coal to fracked gas, when not accounting for fugitive CH4 emissions.

http://fortune.com/2017/03/17/world-co2-emissions-stalled-last-year-thanks-to-the-u-s/

4. A world leader in industrial innovation, and a growing economic sector dependent upon the success of the energy transition.

5. The diplomatic, economic and military ability to make or break any global climate initiative.

rboyd

  • ASIF Citizen
  • Posts: 115
    • View Profile
Re: But, but, but, the United States
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2017, 08:34:19 PM »
A large increase in U.S. methane emissions over the past decade inferred from satellite data and surface observations - 2016 scientific paper.

Abstract

The global burden of atmospheric methane has been increasing over the past decade, but
the causes are not well understood. National inventory estimates from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency indicate no significant trend in U.S. anthropogenic methane emissions from 2002 to present. Here we use satellite retrievals and surface observations of atmospheric methane to suggest that U.S. methane emissions have increased by more than 30% over the 2002–2014 period. The trend is largest in the central part of the country, but we cannot readily attribute it to any specific source type. This large increase in U.S. methane emissions could account for 30–60% of the global growth of atmospheric methane seen in the past decade.

The U.S. may have reduced emissions of CO2 over this period, but perhaps not CO2 equivalents? The Trump administration has removed the Obama-administrations attempts to reduce CH4 emissions at fracking sites.

http://acmg.seas.harvard.edu/publications/2016/Turner_GRL_2016_Methane.pdf

This work was supported by NASA, will such work survive the Trump cuts? The fate of organizations that provide inconvenient facts perhaps.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2017, 08:40:14 PM by rboyd »

rboyd

  • ASIF Citizen
  • Posts: 115
    • View Profile
Re: But, but, but, the United States
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2017, 08:48:53 PM »
Switching from coal to natural gas does not curb global warming effectively, due to CH4 fugitive emissions. Review of academic literature by Skeptical Science.

"it can be concluded from these papers that EPA is very likely underestimating fossil fuel related methane emissions in its greenhouse gas inventory, anywhere between 30% and 100%, possibly even more. Meaning, in order for the US to effectively lower its greenhouse gas emissions, it also needs to get fugitive methane emissions under control."

"best case scenario assumes that relative leak rates, globally, are about 50% higher than what EPA currently estimates (based on Brandt et al., 2014). Since we know by now that even that could be too optimistic, it becomes more and more obvious that a switch from coal to natural gas for electricity production is not likely to curb global warming effectively, but rather delay effective measures further"

https://www.skepticalscience.com/frackingupdate2016.html

Sigmetnow

  • ASIF Royalty
  • Posts: 7451
    • View Profile
Re: But, but, but, the United States
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2017, 10:27:02 PM »
Solar breaks 50% of California electricity for first time – driving negative wholesale rates
According to the EIA, California solar power has been driving wholesale electricity rates towards – and sometimes below – $0/MWh – and on March 11th total solar power production broke 50% of demand. The increase in utility-scale solar power , which grew 50% in the state in 2016, is quickly changing the landscape. Recently we saw California solar + wind hit a record high at 49.2%, with all renewable energy above 56%.

In March, during the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., system average hourly prices were frequently at or below $0 per megawatthour (MWh). In contrast, average hourly prices in March 2013–15 during this time of day ranged from $14/MWh to $45/MWh.
...
Per the EIA, there are multiple reasons why March is the season most probable for negative wholesale rates, including one unique to this year – heavy amounts of hydroelectric power due to flooding this winter. The other major reason is that spring and fall are low demand seasons due to the temperate climate not needing as much heating or cooling. Solar will produce more electricity in the summer – but the high demand of summer means the solar is a lower overall percentage.
...
Battery investors will build to have access to $0/MWh solar power – so they can later sell it from 4-8 PM as the duck curve grows and dies.
https://electrek.co/2017/04/07/solar-power-breaks-50-of-california-demand-for-first-time-driving-negative-wholesale-electricity-rates/
People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.

Sigmetnow

  • ASIF Royalty
  • Posts: 7451
    • View Profile
Re: But, but, but, the United States
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2017, 03:32:08 AM »
People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.

rboyd

  • ASIF Citizen
  • Posts: 115
    • View Profile
Re: But, but, but, the United States
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2017, 04:25:34 AM »
U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions fell 1.7% in 2016 - but on a CO2 equivalent basis, counting the methane emissions, US GHG emissions may not have fallen at all over the past decade.

A large increase in U.S. methane emissions over the past decade inferred from satellite data and surface observations:

http://acmg.seas.harvard.edu/publications/2016/Turner_GRL_2016_Methane.pdf

The U.S. has been emitting a lot more methane than we thought, says EPA:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/04/15/epa-issues-large-upward-revision-to-u-s-methane-emissions/?utm_term=.00e412add0a7

rboyd

  • ASIF Citizen
  • Posts: 115
    • View Profile
Re: But, but, but, the United States
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2017, 07:43:41 PM »
Interesting report on Minnesota's 2025 Energy Plan, and the way that "energy independence" can be reframed to support renewables and keeping the states energy dollars within the state. Also very independent of federal actions, and therefore intervention from the Denier In Chief.

http://www.lec.leg.mn/projects/2025/MN_E2025_final.pdf

Now if the U.S. northern states and Canada could get together on a renewable energy superpower plan ...

rboyd

  • ASIF Citizen
  • Posts: 115
    • View Profile
Re: But, but, but, the United States
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2017, 10:30:01 PM »
EPA halts inquiry into oil and gas industry emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas

The Ostrich approach to climate change issues, remove the ability to see the problem. If you can't see it, then it doesn't exist. See no methane, hear no methane, speak no methane ...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/03/02/epa-halts-inquiry-into-oil-and-gas-industry-emissions-of-methane-a-powerful-greenhouse-gas/?utm_term=.363448c75519

Bob Wallace

  • ASIF Upper Class
  • Posts: 1198
    • View Profile
Re: But, but, but, the United States
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2017, 10:51:02 PM »
Switching from coal to natural gas does not curb global warming effectively, due to CH4 fugitive emissions.

That would hold if 1) we were doing a 1:1 exchange of coal for NG and 2) if we do nothing to curtail emissions.

1) Wind and solar are now cheaper than buying fuel for gas plants.  That means when the wind blows or Sun shines CCNG plants will shut down.  Assume no new storage, we'd be likely to end up with about 30% solar, 40% wind and 30% NG. 

That's a move from 100% coal to 30% NG.  A 70% CO2 savings.  Storage will take NG's contribution lower. 

2) There's at least one study that demonstrates that methane leaks at the well site and in distribution can be held at very low levels.  The cost would apparently be low due to the gas saved and sold on to offset the cost. 

It's a matter of adequate regulation (and enforcement) which was beginning to happen under PBO.  We may suffer a four year interruption with the current White House part time occupant.

Furthermore, there is a very large amount of methane released in coal extraction and processing.  Those coal mines that blow up?  Gas seepages were not being vented out rapidly enough.  I've been trying to nail down some numbers but it looks like we produce about the same amount of NG emissions per MWh with coal as with NG.  And the NG emissions are largely controllable.

rboyd

  • ASIF Citizen
  • Posts: 115
    • View Profile
Re: But, but, but, the United States
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2017, 07:09:35 AM »
With a lot of spare natural gas generation capacity, the marginal cost of the fuel is the driving factor. For NG, that cost could easily fall. There could also be a limit on renewables share, as reduced demand for NG could drive its price down - making it more competitive at the margin (and reducing the build out of new renewable capacity). A meaningful carbon tax would stop such a scenario from happening - much higher than Obama or the current Canadian government are considering. The IEA deals with this through multiple price options.

https://www.eia.gov/pressroom/presentations/sieminski_01052017.pdf

Up to now gas has been increasing pretty much in lockstep with coal being reduced. Renewables increases have been matched by demand growth. Renewables have to grow a lot faster than currently estimated by the wind and solar industry associations.

As the methane leakage is at the well-head and throughout the distribution network, would seem to be relatively hard to limit it. A carbon tax that included methane leakages would help do the job. Havn't seen any studies comparing coal methane leakages and NG leakages, would very interesting to see some.

Let's hope that it only four years of Trump!

Bob Wallace

  • ASIF Upper Class
  • Posts: 1198
    • View Profile
Re: But, but, but, the United States
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2017, 09:33:05 AM »
I'm not so sure about falling NG prices.  Much of our supply now comes from oil wells, does it not?  If oil prices stay low we won't be drilling any new oil wells in the US.  Our production prices are too high.

The NG fracking wells have turned out to not be a source of cheap gas.  In most fields they have a year or so of high production and then output falls to a small fraction of the initial year's output.  That means the need to constantly drill, and spend money to drill.

We're likely to keep increasing our NG usage for a few more years until we get a lot more wind and solar online.  That demand may use up what oil well NG we have.  Return on fracked NG wells may be low enough to make it hard to get financing for many replacement wells.

I think most of the methane distribution leaking comes from our old urban distribution system.  Not the main pipes that carry from well to generation plant.  Fixing leaks in those limited, large diameter pipes should be easy to detect and repair.  Some of our cities leak methane like a sieve.


rboyd

  • ASIF Citizen
  • Posts: 115
    • View Profile
Re: But, but, but, the United States
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2017, 05:37:07 PM »
There have been some real breakthroughs in the costs of fracking (pressurizing suppliers as well as some real technical improvements), so break-even costs have been falling. At $50 per barrel the rig count in the US is going up, and current break-evens may be as low as $37/barrel and $2.50/MMbtu. In addition, there is a global glut of natural gas so hopes of shipping US NG around the world probably wont pan out - keeping the supply within the U.S.

"Mexico has become such a critical release valve for U.S. production that, without exports to Mexico, our gas prices would be 30-35% lower."

https://www.forbes.com/sites/judeclemente/2017/01/08/u-s-natural-gas-production-in-2017/#67a1b0c0683b

"Now, with shipping and regasification amounting to $1/MMBtu, U.S. exporters will be under serious pressure"

https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaellynch/2017/03/16/the-glutted-world-gas-market/3/#eea9b1359eaf

"The number of working [oil] rigs has more than doubled from a 2016 low of 316 in May."

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-04-17/crude-slips-near-53-a-barrel-as-u-s-adds-rigs-for-13th-week

Bob Wallace

  • ASIF Upper Class
  • Posts: 1198
    • View Profile
Re: But, but, but, the United States
« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2017, 10:28:22 PM »
Revisit that post in five years.  After EVs, battery power buses and battery powered trucks have started biting into oil demand.

It won't take much demand erosion to drop prices closer to $30.  The lower cost producers (Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia) are likely to be pumping out as much as they can while there is a market and selling for as much as  they can while still undercutting the countries with $30+ production costs.

rboyd

  • ASIF Citizen
  • Posts: 115
    • View Profile
Re: But, but, but, the United States
« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2017, 10:37:38 PM »
Natural Gas fracking is relatively independent of oil fracking, not that much overlap. So its the MMbtu price that matters more than the oil price.

As per my comments on the car thread, a drop in oil demand will drop the oil price which will make ICE's more competitive. I see a "stair-step" process where at each point a lower oil price slows down electric-car adoption growth until costs of the latter can come down far enough to overcome the low price. Could get harder and harder though as we travel toward the sub-$10 prices that the Middle East producers can live with.

Bob Wallace

  • ASIF Upper Class
  • Posts: 1198
    • View Profile
Re: But, but, but, the United States
« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2017, 02:36:09 AM »
In 2015 we sourced our domestic natural gas -

Oil wells = 6,452,680 million cu ft
Shale gas wells = 15,475,887 million cu ft
Coal bed wells  = 1,181,320 million cu ft

28% of our NG from oil wells.  If the price of oil goes up we drill fewer oil wells and produce less NG as a secondary product.  If the price of oil goes down then we drill more oil wells.

As per my comments on the car thread, a drop in oil demand will drop the oil price which will make ICE's more competitive.

True.  But in short years a new car buyer should be looking at two identical cars, other than the propulsion system.  One will cost less, be less onerous to power, require less maintenance, and offer a better ride.

Will most buyers purchase the more expensive, larger hassle vehicle or the less/less?

$5/gallon fuel certainly would drive EV sales faster.  But I can't see a route for ICEVs to undercut the purchase and operating cost of EVs.

Then, not too far out, car companies will simply start cutting their ICEV offerings.  We saw that happen with film cameras as digital took over.   The lower featured models disappeared first, and rapidly.    The top of the line fSLRs hung on longer but it wasn't long until companies quit spending money on development of new models.  All the research/development money went into digital.

(Disposable cameras held on for a while.  Cell phones with cameras quickly killed them.)

rboyd

  • ASIF Citizen
  • Posts: 115
    • View Profile
Re: But, but, but, the United States
« Reply #15 on: April 19, 2017, 05:20:53 AM »
Looks like it will take significantly lower oil prices to drive down the fracking brigade, Wall Street is pouring money into the sector again at $50/barrel.
http://oilprice.com/Energy/Oil-Prices/Wall-Street-Is-Pouring-Money-Back-Into-Shale.html

Elon Musk even says that cheap oil will hurt electric car sales
http://fortune.com/2016/01/25/elon-musk-oil-prices-electric-cars/

As electric car sakes move beyond the expensive models and the early-adopter types, the effect of very low gas prices will have an impact. Right now EV sales are still a tiny niche within the overall market: 159,000 out of 17.5 million in 2016. California was over 50%, with the biggest incentives.

http://www.fleetcarma.com/ev-sales-usa-2016-final/



Bob Wallace

  • ASIF Upper Class
  • Posts: 1198
    • View Profile
Re: But, but, but, the United States
« Reply #16 on: April 19, 2017, 05:26:43 AM »
At about $100/kWh for cells EVs hit production cost parity with ICEVs.  We're probably going to see $100 cells by 2020.

Obviously more expensive oil will push people to EVs.  But if EVs are cheaper to purchase and at least a little cheaper to operate they will take over the market.

Think about all the people who are concerned about climate change and are willing to do something if it doesn't cost them a lot.  Now think about the choice they'll make if they can do something about climate change if it saves them some money.