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Messages - Ken Feldman

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Policy and solutions / Re: Global economics and finances - impacts
« on: October 15, 2019, 07:42:34 PM »
The investors of the $13.4 billion University of California endowment and $70 billion pension fund are divesting from fossil fuels.  The reasons aren't political pressure but that the investments are too risky.

We are investors and fiduciaries for what is widely considered the best public research university in the world. That makes us fiscally conservative by nature and by policy — “Risk rules” is one of the 10 pillars of what we call the UC Investments Way. We want to ensure that the more than 320,000 people currently receiving a UC pension actually get paid, that we can continue to fund research and scholarships throughout the UC system, and that our campuses and medical centers earn the best possible return on their investments.

We believe hanging on to fossil fuel assets is a financial risk. That’s why we will have made our $13.4-billion endowment “fossil free” as of the end of this month, and why our $70-billion pension will soon be that way as well.

So what’s the bottom line?

In April 2014, when Jagdeep arrived to become UC’s chief investment officer, UC Investments had a total of $91.6 billion in assets under management. As of June 30, the total portfolio stood at $126.1 billion. In five years, that includes $2.4 billion in value added above our benchmarksand a savings of $1 billion in reduced costs of management.

During that same time frame, we made no new investments in fossil fuels and four years ago, we sold our exposure to coal and oil sands. We found them too risky — and it’s worth noting that Jagdeep joined UC from one of Canada’ sovereign wealth funds in the heart of the oil sands region. We continue to believe there are more attractive investment opportunities in new energy sources than in old fossil fuels.

Permafrost / Re: Arctic Methane Release
« on: October 15, 2019, 07:25:10 PM »
Any links to research relating to non russian (or non S&S) methane research cruises there?

And links to the work of ´multiple scientists look at the ESAS using both similar and more complex methods and have come back with radically different answers.´?

It would be interesting to contrast those just to see what kind of emissions we can expect as a lower bound.

Outside of replication we have things like the #1087 record size plumes. Something you could have expected in this starkly warming world.

I wonder if the more complex methods reproduce them...

Here's a link to the Thornton et. al 2016 paper about their 2014 cruise in the same area that S&S covered.

The Laptev and East Siberian Seas have been proposed as a substantial source of methane (CH4) to the atmosphere. During summer 2014, we made unique high‐resolution simultaneous measurements of CH4 in the atmosphere above, and surface waters of, the Laptev and East Siberian Seas. Turbulence‐driven sea‐air fluxes along the ship's track were derived from these observations; an average diffusive flux of 2.99 mg m−2 d−1 was calculated for the Laptev Sea and for the ice‐free portions of the western East Siberian Sea, 3.80 mg m−2 d−1. Although seafloor bubble plumes were observed at two locations in the study area, our calculations suggest that regionally, turbulence‐driven diffusive flux alone accounts for the observed atmospheric CH4 enhancements, with only a local, limited role for bubble fluxes, in contrast to earlier reports. CH4 in subice seawater in certain areas suggests that a short‐lived flux also occurs annually at ice‐out.

Also, if there were persistent methane leaks in the amount of those hyped by S&S recently, the methane would drift to the observation sites around the Arctic.  There's a paper that looked for increased methane concentrations due to those types of emissions from the ESAS that was published in 2016.

Atmospheric constraints on the methane emissions from the East Siberian Shelf

Abstract. Subsea permafrost and hydrates in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS) constitute a substantial carbon pool, and a potentially large source of methane to the atmosphere. Previous studies based on interpolated oceanographic campaigns estimated atmospheric emissions from this area at 8–17TgCH4 yr−1. Here, we propose insights based on atmospheric observations to evaluate these estimates. The comparison of high-resolution simulations of atmospheric methane mole fractions to continuous methane observations during the whole year 2012 confirms the high variability and heterogeneity of the methane releases from ESAS. A reference scenario with ESAS emissions of 8TgCH4 yr−1, in the lower part of previously estimated emissions, is found to largely overestimate atmospheric observations in winter, likely related to overestimated methane leakage through sea ice. In contrast, in summer, simulations are more consistent with observations. Based on a comprehensive statistical analysis of the observations and of the simulations, annual methane emissions from ESAS are estimated to range from 0.0 to 4.5TgCH4 yr−1. Isotopic observations suggest a biogenic origin (either terrestrial or marine) of the methane in air masses originating from ESAS during late summer 2008 and 2009.

Note that this paper confirmed the S&S estimates for summer emissions, but found that the winter emissions were far less than those assumed by S&S.

The stories about the recent large plume of methane measured by S&S are mostly hype.  We've seen other stories about methane bubbling up in the past, this is the first time they've been measured while actually active.  There are many pingo-like features on both land in the Arctic (the famous Yamal methane craters are an example) and below the sea.  Here's a paper describing the sub-sea pingo like features.

Methane release from pingo‐like features across the South Kara Sea shelf, an area of thawing offshore permafrost

The Holocene marine transgression starting at ~19 ka flooded the Arctic shelves driving extensive thawing of terrestrial permafrost. It thereby promoted methanogenesis within sediments, the dissociation of gas hydrates, and the release of formerly trapped gas, with the accumulation in pressure of released methane eventually triggering blowouts through weakened zones in the overlying and thinned permafrost. Here we present a range of geophysical and chemical scenarios for the formation of pingo‐like formations (PLFs) leading to potential blowouts. Specifically, we report on methane anomalies from the South Kara Sea shelf focusing on two PLFs imaged from high‐resolution seismic records. A variety of geochemical methods are applied to study concentrations and types of gas, its character, and genesis. PLF 1 demonstrates ubiquitously low‐methane concentrations (14.2–55.3 ppm) that are likely due to partly unfrozen sediments with an ice‐saturated internal core reaching close to the seafloor. In contrast, PLF 2 reveals anomalously high‐methane concentrations of >120,000 ppm where frozen sediments are completely absent. The methane in all recovered samples is of microbial and not of thermogenic origin from deep hydrocarbon sources. However, the relatively low organic matter content (0.52–1.69%) of seafloor sediments restricts extensive in situ methane production. As a consequence, we hypothesize that the high‐methane concentrations at PLF 2 are due to microbial methane production and migration from a deeper source.

David Archer, an expert in global methane sources, debunked hype about the Siberian craters years ago at Real Climate.

Siberia has explosion holes in it that smell like methane, and there are newly found bubbles of methane in the Arctic Ocean. As a result, journalists are contacting me assuming that the Arctic Methane Apocalypse has begun. However, as a climate scientist I remain much more concerned about the fossil fuel industry than I am about Arctic methane. Short answer: It would take about 20,000,000 such eruptions within a few years to generate the standard Arctic Methane Apocalypse that people have been talking about. Here’s where that statement comes from:
How much methane emission is “a lot”? The yardstick here comes from Natalie Shakhova, an Arctic methane oceanographer and modeler at the University of Fairbanks. She proposed that 50 Gton of methane (a gigaton is 1015 grams) might erupt from the Arctic on a short time scale Shakhova (2010). Let’s call this a “Shakhova” event. There would be significant short-term climate disruption from a Shakhova event, with economic consequences explored by Whiteman et al Whiteman et al (2013). The radiative forcing right after the release would be similar to that from fossil fuel CO2 by the end of the century, but subsiding quickly rather than continuing to grow as business-as-usual CO2 does.

If the bubble was pure methane, it would have contained about … wait for it … 0.000003 Gtons of methane. In other words, building a Shakhova event from these explosions would take approximately 20,000,000 explosions, all within a few years, or else the climate impact of the methane would be muted by the lifetime effect.

There have been many studies (by both Russian and non-Russian scientists) into methane emissions from the Arctic seafloor.  Here is an example.

Methane oxidation following submarine permafrost degradation: Measurements from a central Laptev Sea shelf borehole

Submarine permafrost degradation has been invoked as a cause for recent observations of methane emissions from the seabed to the water column and atmosphere of the East Siberian shelf. Sediment drilled 52 m down from the sea ice in Buor Khaya Bay, central Laptev Sea revealed unfrozen sediment overlying ice‐bonded permafrost. Methane concentrations in the overlying unfrozen sediment were low (mean 20 µM) but higher in the underlying ice‐bonded submarine permafrost (mean 380 µM). In contrast, sulfate concentrations were substantially higher in the unfrozen sediment (mean 2.5 mM) than in the underlying submarine permafrost (mean 0.1 mM). Using deduced permafrost degradation rates, we calculate potential mean methane efflux from degrading permafrost of 120 mg m−2 yr−1 at this site. However, a drop of methane concentrations from 190 µM to 19 µM and a concomitant increase of methane δ13C from −63‰ to −35‰ directly above the ice‐bonded permafrost suggest that methane is effectively oxidized within the overlying unfrozen sediment before it reaches the water column. High rates of methane ebullition into the water column observed elsewhere are thus unlikely to have ice‐bonded permafrost as their source.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: October 11, 2019, 01:19:16 AM »
While the coal industry is looking to Vietnam to at least postpone its decline, Vietnam is going to renewables instead.

In a country like Vietnam, for instance, last year our story was that Vietnam was the country with the largest number of new coal fire power plants. They were going to build 25 new coal fire plants. And then the government came out with a new policy – [companies] get offered a [tariff] for large-scale solar.

Vietnam had a target to reach 4.5GW of solar then by 2025. This is a lot if you have nothing.
The target was to be reached by 2025, and to everybody’s surprise they reached that on the 1st of July this year.

From nothing to 4.5GW — and not plans, not ideas but projects that are already built and connected to the grid.

Hanoi (VNA) – Since 2017, the Vietnamese Government has issued a number of priority policies to develop renewable energy to boost production and attract domestic and foreign investment, heard a workshop in Hanoi on September 17.

As a result, in just two years, the proportion of renewable energy in the national electricity structure has increased rapidly to more than 9 percent with wind power and solar power being the two main sources.

Vietnam looks to solar to fill energy void
By Taylor McDonald -2019-09-24

Vietnam is looking to renewable energy solutions to solve a growing power shortfall which is intensified by the dispute with Beijing over oil and gas reserves in the South China Sea.

Policy and solutions / Re: Coal
« on: October 10, 2019, 06:39:01 PM »
Poland is importing record amounts of electricity because it costs less than the domestically produced coal power.

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland is on track to import a record amount of electricity this year as power traders buy cheaper and cleaner electricity from neighboring countries, reducing demand for the mostly coal-fired energy produced by state-run utilities.

The majority of Poland’s electricity imports this year came from Sweden and Germany, where average wholesale prices in the first half of the year were 175 zlotys ($44.71) and 165 zlotys per MWh respectively compared to 229 zlotys in Poland.

Exports amounted to 2.9 TWh and 4.2 TWh in 2018 and 2017 respectively. Until 2014, Poland exported more energy than it imported.

Analysts said that while Poland continues to produce most of its electricity from coal, prices will be higher than in neighboring countries, which use more green energy sources.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: October 08, 2019, 07:58:16 PM »
With all of the bad news at the Federal Government level, it's easy to overlook the progress that is being made in the transition to a carbon free economy.  With renewables being cheaper than fossil fuels, "green-washing" has given way to lowering costs by going green.

At a time when the federal government is increasingly stepping away from addressing issues like sustainability and climate change, corporate America is stepping up. Retail giants from Target to Walmart to Amazon; and tech titans from Apple to Google to Facebook, are taking action to respond because it’s good for business and good for corporate image. For many consumers, addressing core issues like climate change and sustainability go hand-in-hand with attracting their business.

Going green has never looked so good — or cost so little. Solar power is almost 90 percent cheaper than it was 10 years ago and wind power is about 70 percent cheaper, said Gregory Wetstone, president and chief executive of the American Council on Renewable Energy, a nonprofit that promotes the transition to renewable power. That explains why companies in the United States purchased three times as much power generated from solar and wind energy in 2018 than they did the year before.

“Every aspect of retailing’s machine is going to be modernized and ultimately energized green,” said Marshal Cohen, chief retail industry analyst at The NPD Group, a research and consulting specialist. This green evolution not only applies to energy use, but everything from packaging to fuel consumption during delivery, he said. “Retailers will chase greenness to be viewed as part of their DNA.”

This has left many of the world’s biggest companies falling all over themselves to embrace solar power, wind power and other renewables. But over the past decade, major retailers like Target and Walmart, who use vast quantities of energy in their stores, have gone from sticking a toe in the water to diving in headfirst.

I think that many of the posters on this site who embrace a negative outlook on the growth of renewables are under-estimating the pace of the transition.  They think that the current deployment rates, which involve decisions made when renewables cost more than fossil fuel energy, can be used to forecast the future.

But new investments being made now will have to take into account that it's cheaper to build new renewable power plants (or slap a bunch of solar panels on a roof) than it is to buy power from an operating fossil fuel plant.  That means that the only limit on how fast fossil fuels will be phased out is how quickly new wind and solar plants can be built.

That's not hopium, that's economics.

The rest / Re: Elections 2020 USA
« on: October 01, 2019, 02:11:24 AM »
From reading some of the comments, and watching some of the videos in them, it seems that a lot of people have misconceptions about the impeachment inquiry and even the process of impeachment.  The story linked below is a good summary:

Given these complexities, responsible discussions of impeachment must consider three questions. First, has the president engaged in conduct that warrants his removal under the Constitution? Second, is the effort to remove him likely to make a positive impact—or will impeachment be a mere quixotic quest? And third, would impeachment be worth the resulting rupturing of our national fabric?

Americans have never reduced to a simple formula what it means to commit “high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” A working definition captures two general elements. First, impeachable offenses represent betrayal of office. And second, those offenses pose such a serious risk of harm that they require preventive action—in other words, they suggest that the president endangers the nation. Such offenses may involve a pattern of closely related abuses, rather than a single deed. But the ultimate inquiry is whether the president has so betrayed his office and poses such a continuing threat that leaving him in power could imperil our constitutional democracy.

This president has done just that.

Begin with the White House readout of Trump’s phone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. That readout, even in its presumably sanitized form, reveals a multitude of impeachable offenses. On that call, Trump abused the foreign policy and military powers entrusted to the president by Article II to serve his own political interests—and perhaps those of his sometime-benefactor, Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose tanks have penetrated Ukrainian territory and would be opposed by the military aid Trump was unilaterally withholding—rather than the interests of the American people.
The resultant cover-up, too, is staggering. We have learned that the effort to protect the president ensnared numerous senior White House officials, including the lawyers representing not the president personally but the presidential office. Indeed, the whistleblower complaint alleges that the cover-up was part of a pattern of systematically overclassifying politically embarrassing information to protect the president. Such conduct betrays the institution of the presidency and poses a clear and present danger to our national security. It does so by compromising the integrity of our system for classifying intelligence, thereby undermining the confidence of our key allies in how the secrets they share with us will be handled. And it conceals the ongoing danger posed to our most sensitive secrets by the seemingly reckless way our commander in chief deploys those secrets for personal advantage or political leverage.

The primary arguments against impeachment—articulated by liberals like Bruce Ackerman, moderates like Frank Bruni, and reactionaries like John Yoo—do not deny the gravity of the president’s violations. Rather, they argue that impeachment is not worth the national costs of enraging the incumbent president’s supporters, fanning the flames of the white-hot anger that drove many of them into his camp in the first place, and leaving even some who might be prepared to vote against Trump in 2020 with the sense that a group composed almost entirely of Democrats is illegitimately undoing the results of an election with which they never came to terms. We should weigh those costs carefully as we consider how to proceed.

But those concerns cannot outweigh the imminent concern of a lawless presidency. Yes, impeachment would be traumatic. But what is the alternative? Acquiescing to lawlessness out of fear? And declining to impeach would be traumatic as well.

Policy and solutions / Re: Batteries: Today's Energy Solution
« on: September 27, 2019, 07:19:36 PM »
GE is shifting from producing turbines for steam plants (i.e. coal and natural gas) into batteries for renewable plants.

General Electric profits have been hammered recently because a large part of its business involved supplying generating systems powered by steam. As the world transitions to renewable energy, steam turbines are less and less in demand and GE’s business has suffered as a result.

But the company is reinventing itself as a provider of grid scale energy storage systems and has recently received two important contracts — one to provide a total of 100 MWh of battery storage at three locations in California and another for 300 MWh of storage in South Australia.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: September 24, 2019, 05:57:29 PM »
The beginning of the end of the fossil fuel companies?

The $47 Trillion Death Sentence For Oil & Gas
By Cyril Widdershoven - Sep 23, 2019, 5:00 PM CDT

The future of hydrocarbons is becoming bleak if plans presented by international banks, representing around $47 trillion in value, will be fully implemented.

Around 130 international banks, all present at the UN climate change summit in New York, have committed themselves to decrease their support and investments in the oil and gas sector the coming years. The banking groups have signed the so-called Principles for Responsible Banking, which entails a promise by financial institutions to fully support the implementation of the Paris Agreement, by decreasing hydrocarbon investments while promoting renewables. This statement is going to be a major earthquake for oil and gas companies, threatening upstream and downstream operations worldwide, forcing oil & gas producers to either reduce their impact on the environment or to seek new sources of investment. It is already becoming more difficult for oil and gas companies to find new financing, and on top of this, a large group of institutional investors, representing a value of $11 trillion, are already actively divesting their oil and gas assets.

International banks, such as Deutsche Bank, ABNAmro, Citigroup, Barclays, and ING, are joining the framework. Under the title of action against global warming, the largest financial institutions now seem to be headbutting oil and gas operators. The impact of activist shareholders and NGOs is sending shockwaves through the sector. If the framework is successfully implemented, the hydrocarbon sector shouldn’t fear unrest in the Middle East, but rather their current financiers.

Policy and solutions / Re: Coal
« on: September 10, 2019, 12:11:38 AM »
Thermal coal (burned to make electricity) is all but dead everywhere except Asia.  And it's on the way out there too.

So steelmaking is the only market left for coal.  But that's changing too.

The way steel is made has not changed significantly in the past 150 years. Iron ore is
smelted in huge blast furnaces that use carbon-rich coke — a form of coal — as a
reducing agent to turn the iron into steel. Those furnaces belch out huge amounts of
carbon dioxide, and it’s not like the iron ore just shows up at the furnaces unaided.
Mining it and transporting it creates lots more carbon emissions.

Climate activists have been hammering the steel industry for years to clean up its
emissions. Now a new report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance claims hydrogen could
replace coke in 10 to 50% of all steelmaking my the year 2050, given the right carbon
pricing. Using hydrogen instead of coke — a process known as direct reduction —
could lower the carbon emissions from steel mills significantly.

Bloomberg NEF says hydrogen technology will be competitive with high-cost, coal-based
plants when the cost of renewable hydrogen falls below $2.20 a kilogram, assuming
coking coal prices remain where they are now at about $310 a ton. That could happen
by 2030, Bloomberg says. Currently, most commercial hydrogen in North America is
derived from natural gas, which has its own carbon and methane emissions problems.
But new technologies that rely on renewable energy are coming to market soon.

Any shift to hydrogen would pose a danger to coking coal producers and their investors.
The material has few uses other than in blast furnaces. “It has long been thought that
met-coal is untouchable and would be unaffected by the changes sweeping the energy
sector,” Bhavnagri says. “Hydrogen extends the reach of renewables right into the front
yard of met-coal miners.”


Will be interesting to see what happens during the next ten years, could we see battery driven or hybrid light tanks as battery ranges increase? The advantage of the latter would be no complex ICE to break down in the middle of a battle, no hot exhaust fumes and noise to give away a position, and if the batteries are at the bottom of the tank maybe fewer fires (although mines could be really dangerous).

One of my colleagues is studying the carbon emissions of the military, which are colossal. Governments try really hard not to disclose the scale of the military's GHG emissions.

I read somewhere that the US military GHG emissions would rank in the top 50 nations if they were a separate Country.  I think it's among the low lying fruit that a new President could tap if they want to immediately cut US GHG emissions.

They could by executive order:
- Require all military bases to be powered by green energy through PPAs.
- Require all new non-combat vehicles to be battery powered (there are a lot of sedans, pickups, vans and buses used to get around the huge military bases)
- Increase the amount of solar panels on military housing and buildings (there are already a lot, started under the Obama administration)
- Fund grid interconnection projects to strengthen the electrical grid against potential terrorist attack (and in the meantime alleviate intermittency problems that could occur with large amounts of solar and wind powering the grid)
- Fund research in solid-state batteries for ships and combat vehicles through DARPA and the other military research funds (it's a large budget)

Science / Re: The Science of Aerosols
« on: September 05, 2019, 08:02:49 PM »
Thanks.  Here's a paper that discusses variability of natural aerosols.

Large contribution of natural aerosols to uncertainty in indirect forcing
K. S. Carslaw, L. A. Lee, C. L. Reddington, K. J. Pringle, A. Rap, P. M. Forster, G. W. Mann, D. V. Spracklen, M. T. Woodhouse, L. A. Regayre & J. R. Pierce

Nature volume 503, pages 67–71 (07 November 2013)


The effect of anthropogenic aerosols on cloud droplet concentrations and radiative properties is the source of one of the largest uncertainties in the radiative forcing of climate over the industrial period. This uncertainty affects our ability to estimate how sensitive the climate is to greenhouse gas emissions. Here we perform a sensitivity analysis on a global model to quantify the uncertainty in cloud radiative forcing over the industrial period caused by uncertainties in aerosol emissions and processes. Our results show that 45 per cent of the variance of aerosol forcing since about 1750 arises from uncertainties in natural emissions of volcanic sulphur dioxide, marine dimethylsulphide, biogenic volatile organic carbon, biomass burning and sea spray. Only 34 per cent of the variance is associated with anthropogenic emissions. The results point to the importance of understanding pristine pre-industrial-like environments, with natural aerosols only, and suggest that improved measurements and evaluation of simulated aerosols in polluted present-day conditions will not necessarily result in commensurate reductions in the uncertainty of forcing estimates.

Science / Re: The Science of Aerosols
« on: September 04, 2019, 11:15:55 PM »
Having a million difficulties trying to upload the presentation as a PDF.

I tried to take detailed notes, and stuck around for the Q&A. I may be able to answer some basic questions if anybody has any.

Did the question about a possible spike in warming from reduced aerosols with the reduction in fossil fuel burning come up?  If so, what was the answer?

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: August 27, 2019, 07:00:07 PM »
The trade war between the US and China is slowing investment in new LNG infrastructure.

According to the Bank of America Merrill Lynch, a number of companies may delay their final investment decisions on new LNG capacity to next year because of U.S.-Chinese trade tensions. Bloomberg reports these include Tellurian and NextDecade, as well as other companies focused exclusively on LNG.

While the companies themselves are not too talkative when it comes to possible obstacles to the so-called second wave of LNG projects in the U.S., the facts are not encouraging: China has imported no U.S. LNG since March, according to data from ClipperData. Bloomberg data is even gloomier: it suggests no U.S. LNG has made its way into China since February. No wonder, since Beijing first imposed a 10-percent tariff on the commodity and then upped this to 25 percent in retaliation for U.S. tariffs.

Yet there is another aspect of the trade war that is more damaging to U.S. LNG producers. To secure funding for these projects that typically cost billions, U.S. companies need long-term commitments to convince banks the projects are viable. Chinese buyers were the natural choice for these long-term commitments but this is no longer the case as Chinese investors shun U.S. projects amid the war.

To add insult to injury, the gas price context is increasingly unfavourable and could add justification to delays in final investment decisions. U.S. energy companies are producing too much gas at a time when domestic demand is stalling and global demand is being met by a growing number of countries. LNG projects are also suffering the effects of low gas prices. As RBC recently forecast, this year, the natural gas market will remain oversupplied, and this oversupply will extend into 2020 as well.

Policy and solutions / Re: Direct Air Capture (of Carbon Dioxide)
« on: August 13, 2019, 10:58:39 PM »
An additional benefit of renewables is that they do not lend themselves to the economics of scarcity

Well, they are very dependent on mined resources. All those rare earth metals have to be dug up.
Long term is a bitch.

This is an incredibly persistent myth.  While some manufacturers still use rare earth minerals for wind turbines, they can be easily replaced with iron and copper.  That's why the price for rare earth minerals crashed pretty quickly after it spiked around 2010.

Around 2010, many commentators stridently warned that China’s near-monopoly on supermagnet rare-earth elements could make the growing global shift to electric cars and wind turbines impossible—because their motors and generators, respectively, supposedly required supermagnets and hence rare earths. Some such reports persist even in 2017. But they’re nonsense. Everything that such permanent-magnet rotating machines do can also be done as well or better by two other kinds of motors that have no magnets but instead apply modern control software and power electronics made of silicon, the most abundant solid element on Earth.

The first kind is the induction motor, invented by Nikola Tesla 130 years ago and used in every Tesla electric car today. The second kind, less well-known despite origins tracing back to 1842, is the switched reluctance (SR) machine, likewise made of just iron and (less) copper, but using a different geometry and operating principle. If well-designed, which many are not, SR motors are simpler than permanent-magnet motors, more rugged (so they’re widely used, ironically, in mining equipment), more easily maintained, and equally light and compact. They can switch in milliseconds between serving as a motor or as a generator, and spinning in either direction. They’re also more flexibly controllable, more heat-tolerant, and cheaper for the same torque and production volume. The only scarce resources associated with such capable SR machines are familiarity, which few motor experts have, and skill in their more-difficult design—especially at the level achieved by the UK firm SR Drives (bought first by the US firm Emerson Electric, then by Japan’s Nidec).

Both kinds of magnet-free machines can do everything required not only in electric cars but also in wind turbines, functions often claimed to be impossible without tons of neodymium. That some wind turbines and manufacturers use rare-earth permanent-magnet generators does not mean others must. It’s better not to, and the word is spreading.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: August 09, 2019, 01:35:50 AM »
With all of this wonderful news, when should we expect the Keeling curve to curve back on itself?

Renewables and batteries are wonderful additions to our power mix, but in most venues they aren't keeping up with additional demand.


First emissions need to peak.  That'll be within a few years.

Then emissions need to go to zero.  That'll be about 2050.

Meanwhile, direct air capture and carbon sequestration needs to be deployed, along with land use changes that sequester more carbon and build up carbon sinks.  The Democratic candidates for President in the US are talking about that now, so hopefully we'll see that deployment in the US in the 2020s.  A lot of these applications, such as biochar to replace (or at least offset some) chemical fertilizers are being used in small scales now.

So when the carbon sinks are beefed up and the carbon emissions are near zero, the concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere will start declining.  I assume that's what you mean by the Keeling curve curving back on itself.  I think we'll see that in the 2040s.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: August 02, 2019, 10:06:16 PM »
Adding battery storage to cheap renewables "disrupts" the energy markets (in a positive way, read on).

In the past, utilities had to "take what they could get" from slow, inflexible fossil-fuel plants, Ahlstrom said. Their primary concern was having enough energy to meet peak demand.

Now, utilities will have abundant cheap power from renewables. Paired with batteries, that power can be deployed by computer in microseconds to ensure reliability or fulfill other ancillary services.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 26, 2019, 09:55:46 PM »
South Australia is on target for generating 100% of its electricity from renewables by 2030.

Following a string of development approvals for big solar+storage projects, South Australia’s large-scale wind and solar pipeline has grew to 10 GW. As it moves further than the previous target of 75% of its electricity generated by renewables by 2025, SA aims to hit “net” 100% renewables by 2030 and become a major energy exporter to other states.

SA has long been the nation’s renewable energy front runner. According to a recent report from Green Energy Markets, the state is on track to generating renewable energy equal to 73.5% of its consumption by 2030, up from 53% in 2018. To achieve the government’s target of 100% renewables it roughly needs another 1,300 MW of capacity, the report found.

With a number of development approvals for massive solar and battery projects in the recent period, SA is taking major strides towards its target. In a matter of weeks, the state government has waved through 500 MW of solar PV collocated with 250 MW/1000 MWh of battery storage around five kilometers north-east from Robertstown and the 280 MW Bungama Solar Farm coupled with a 140MW/560MWh battery storage facility proposed by EPS Energy, while another massive project – the Solar River Project, which comprises a 200 MW solar PV and 120 MWh of battery storage and potentially another 200 MW of solar and 150 MWh in the second stage, inked a power purchase agreement with Alinta Energy.

As reported by the daily, the latest project to receive the government’s tick of approval is a $200 million solar+storage facility at Murray Bridge. Proposed by developers RES, the 176 MW Pallamana Solar Farm coupled with 66 MW/140MWh lithium-ion battery will be located on 730 hectares of land around 60km south-east of Adelaide.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 25, 2019, 05:51:58 PM »
In South Carolina, electricity bills are very high to pay off the failed VC Summer nuclear power plant abandoned several years into construction.  The state recently passed a bill promoting rooftop solar and people are using it to cut their energy bills.


Freed made the switch to solar energy a few months ago. He said he wanted to reduce his carbon footprint and slash his monthly power bill. Especially after the VC Summer debacle. According to officials, South Carolina has one of the highest power rates in the country.

Freed said his bill has reduced dramatically. “For at least two months now, I’ve had no electricity charges minus the facility fee you’re going to pay no matter what.”

Solar companies said they will see an increase in the number of customers, all thanks to the Energy Freedom Act that was signed into law earlier this year.

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, companies have installed 18,000 solar systems in South Carolina. Over the next year five years, they predict 22,000 new systems will be installed.

Solar companies said the new law removed caps on net metering and leasing, which means more customers will be incentivized to put solar on their roofs at their homes and businesses.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 22, 2019, 07:34:51 PM »
NextEra Energy is predicting that the US will get 50% of its electricity from renewables in 2030.

In May, the company presented a slide based on data supplied by IHS Markit for calendar year 2017. It showed the United States would get 25% of its electricity from renewable energy resources by 2030. That slide was deleted from the June presentation and replaced with one based on data supplied by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory for calendar year 2018. The new slide projects the country will reach 50% renewables by 2030. The difference is startling and proof of how quickly things are changing in the utility industry.

NextEra Energy is no featherweight. It has the largest market capitalization of any utility holding company. It is the parent company of Florida Power & Light, Gulf Power, and NextEra Energy Resouces, among other entities. It employs 14,000 people, generates 45,900 megawatts of electricity annually, and has yearly revenue of $17 billion. If it says renewables will account for half of all electricity a decade from now, other companies should sit up and take notice. Government leaders, too.

NextEra Energy produces more electricity from the wind and sun than any other company on the planet, according to Its NextEra Energy Resources subsidiary operates 17 gigawatts of wind and solar power assets across the country today. It owns more installed wind power capacity than all but seven countries and is the fifth-largest capital investor in the United States. It plans to build an additional 29 gigawatts of wind and solar power assets in the coming years. This is not a company that makes predictions lightly.

How can it make such bold predictions, ones that are significantly more aggressive than those being made by other industry sources? Simple. It feels those other sources are wildly pessimistic in their estimates. See chart below.

That’s a huge disparity between what NextEra Energy thinks will happen and what other supposedly informed sources think will happen. A lot of CleanTechnica readers have commented over the years that forecasts from the Energy Information Administration are notoriously inaccurate. The next chart proves it.

Arctic sea ice / Re: When will the Arctic Go Ice Free?
« on: July 15, 2019, 06:55:53 PM »
But they are better than nothing, you have to work with the tools you have got not the ones you would like, and the models show the same thing for 2020 2040 and 2060.

Let me be very clear about this. In the model that predicts a BOE by 2080, if you instantly remove the ice in 2020, 2040, or 2060 the ice immediately comes back. Well of course it does. The model is underestimating melt and/or overestimating freeze.

A wrong model is worse than nothing, if you make decisions according to the wrong model.

However, as the arctic keeps changing and showing scientist new secrets, I'm sure that better models will emerge.

You might want a newer source and better model, but basically tough: If it doesn't exist, then you are not going to get it. If there are two papers saying the same thing, then another paper is unlikely to be published unless it is saying something markedly different.

You don't think missing the first BOE by 4 decades (possibly more) is something markedly different?

Those model results are based on actual physics and include things often missing from the simplistic arguments about a BOE.  For example, the negative feedbacks, the depth of the central Arctic Ocean, and the fact that the gradual build up of the heat in the atmosphere mostly goes into the deep ocean, not the atmosphere or the ice.

Here's a good explanation of why there isn't expected to be a "tipping point" in the event of a BOE from a 2018 paper by Julienne Stroeve and Dirk Notz.

Changing state of Arctic sea ice across all seasons
Julienne Stroeve and Dirk Notz 2018 Environ. Res. Lett. 13 103001


The decline in the floating sea ice cover in the Arctic is one of the most striking manifestations of climate change. In this review, we examine this ongoing loss of Arctic sea ice across all seasons. Our analysis is based on satellite retrievals, atmospheric reanalysis, climate-model simulations and a literature review. We find that relative to the 1981–2010 reference period, recent anomalies in spring and winter sea ice coverage have been more significant than any observed drop in summer sea ice extent (SIE) throughout the satellite period. For example, the SIE in May and November 2016 was almost four standard deviations below the reference SIE in these months. Decadal ice loss during winter months has accelerated from −2.4 %/decade from 1979 to 1999 to −3.4%/decade from 2000 onwards. We also examine regional ice loss and find that for any given region, the seasonal ice loss is larger the closer that region is to the seasonal outer edge of the ice cover. Finally, across all months, we identify a robust linear relationship between pan-Arctic SIE and total anthropogenic CO2 emissions. The annual cycle of Arctic sea ice loss per ton of CO2 emissions ranges from slightly above 1 m2 throughout winter to more than 3 m2 throughout summer. Based on a linear extrapolation of these trends, we find the Arctic Ocean will become sea-ice free throughout August and September for an additional 800 ± 300 Gt of CO2 emissions, while it becomes ice free from July to October for an additional 1400 ± 300 Gt of CO2 emissions.

4.2. Stability of the ice cover

In addition to changes in the external forcing and internal variability, a self-amplification of the ongoing ice-loss could in principle have contributed to the rapid ice loss in recent years. Such self-amplification is usually discussed in the context of so-called tipping points or nonlinear threshold, which are often defined as processes in the climate system that show substantial hysteresis in response to changed forcing.

The best known example for such possible hysteresis behavior is related to the ice-albedo feedback mechanism: a reduced ice cover in a given summer will cause increased absorption of solar radiation by the ocean, contributing to further reductions in the ice cover. Such positive feedback loop can cause the irreversible loss of Arctic sea ice in idealized studies based for example on energy-balance models (see review by North 1984), and have hence been suggested to possibly be relevant also for the real world.

However, an analysis of the existing observational record and a substantial number of respective modeling studies with complex ESMs all agree that such a 'tipping point' does not exist for the loss of Arctic summer sea ice. For example, Notz and Marotzke (2012) found a negative auto-correlation of the year-to-year changes in observed September SIE. Hence, whenever SIE was substantially reduced in a given summer, the next summer usually showed some recovery of the ice cover. This was further supported by Serreze and Stroeve (2015). Such behavior suggests that the sea-ice cover is at least currently in a stable region of the phase space, as otherwise one would then expect that any year with a really low ice coverage should be followed by a year with an even lower ice coverage, driven by the ice-albedo feedback mechanism. As shown by Tietsche et al (2011), the contrasting behavior of the real ice cover can be explained by compensating negative feedbacks that stabilize the ice cover despite the amplifying ice-albedo feedback. The most important of these stabilizing feedbacks relates to the fact that during winter the ocean very effectively releases heat from those areas that became ice free during summer, thus over-compensating for any extreme ice loss in a preceding summer. Ice that is formed later in the season also carries a thinner snow cover and can hence grow more effectively during winter (e.g., Notz 2009). Stroeve et al (2018) suggest, however, that this stabilizing feedback mechanism is becoming weaker and weaker as Arctic winters become warmer and warmer. Increased winter cloud cover after summer sea ice loss as found by Liu et al 2012 also weakens the stabilizing feedback, as it reduces the loss of heat from the ocean surface.

The apparent mismatch of observations and complex model studies on the one hand, which both show no emergent tipping-point behavior of the ice loss, and studies with idealized models, which show tipping-point behavior, was resolved in a dedicated study by Wagner and Eisenman (2015). They were able to extend simplified models until their behavior agreed with more complex models. In doing so, they found that both spatial communication through meridional heat transport and the annual cycle in solar radiation are important for stabilizing the ice cover's response to changes in the external forcing.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 12, 2019, 12:44:50 AM »
[Third of three posts addressing a decrease of investment in renewable energy in 2019]

The above articles, showing differences in investment from 2017 to 2018, explain how the fact that renewables keep getting cheaper means you have to look behind the amount of money invested and see how much capacity was actually funded. 

rboyd's linked article was about a drop in investment in China in the first half of 2019 compared to other recent six-month periods in Chinese investment in renewables.  It's very interesting in another fact it left out, as the following article explains.

According to BloombergNEF (BNEF), which compiled the figures, the fall in investment is largely due to a change in approach by the Chinese government, which is in the middle of a move away from government-set tariffs to holding competitive auctions for new wind and solar capacity – an approach increasingly favoured by governments around the world as it leads to lower costs.

Given that solar and wind, even with battery storage costs, are now cheaper than coal, natural gas and nuclear, the move from feed-in-tariffs to competitive auctions is probably the end of new coal plants in China.

The article continues:

“The slowdown in investment in China is real, but the figures for first-half 2019 probably overstate its severity,” said Justin Wu, head of Asia-Pacific for BNEF. “We expect a nationwide solar auction happening now to lead to a rush of new [solar photovoltaic] PV project financings. We could also see several big deals in offshore wind in the second half.”

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 12, 2019, 12:17:38 AM »
[This is the first of three consecutive posts that address the hugely misleading article linked to by rboyd above.  I'm not going to quote rboyd or repost his link, as that would perpetuate the spread of misinformation.]

rboyd's linked article about the decrease in global investment in renewables failed to take into consideration two huge positive causes for the decrease in investment.

The dip in investment in 2018 can be partly attributed to falling technology costs in solar photovoltaics, which meant that the required capacity could be secured at a lower cost, and a slowdown in solar power deployment in China.

Yes, solar cost less (and so did wind) in 2018 versus previous years, which means that you can also build more of it for lower investment.

If China is excluded, renewable energy investment in the developing world actually increased 6 per cent to USD 61.6 billion, a record high.

“When overall investment falls, it is easy to think we are moving backwards, but that is not the case,” Angus McCrone, Chief Editor at BloombergNEF, commented: “Renewable energy is getting less expensive and we are seeing a broadening of investment activity in wind and solar to more countries in Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East and Africa.”

Investment in Europe jumped 39 per cent to USD 61.2 billion, the highest level in two years, driven largely by large on- and off-shore wind investments.

In the United States, investment edged up 1 per cent to USD 48.5 billion, the highest level since 2011, also driven by an increase in wind power financing.

And why did China decrease solar investment?  Probably for the same reason they seriously decreased coal investment, less demand for energy due to slower growth.  Here is a report about coal's decline worldwide:

Here is an excerpt about China's planned investment in coal in 2018.

Planned new coal capacity has fallen particularly rapidly
in China and India. At the end of 2015, China had
plans to construct 515 GW of new coal power capacity.
That figure now stands at 70 GW, an 86% decline.

Here's a link to the BNEF report on renewables:

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 05, 2019, 08:11:34 PM »
Vietnam is rapidly expanding it's solar energy capacity, connecting 4.3 GW to the grid in the last 11 weeks!

While Australia and Vietnam have been progressively expanding over 12 months, the latest tally showed the Southeast Asian country had overtaken Australia for operating utility scale solar PV capacity, according to Norwegian consultancy Rystad Energy.

Building on the previous year’s record volume of new large scale PV capacity, Australia continued to expand its portfolio of commissioned projects. According to Rystad’s data, the nation’s operating capacity rose from less than 600 MW to 2.7 GW over 12 months. However, that performance was put in the shade as the Vietnamese market skyrocketed on the back of June installation figures, from less than 10 MW of operational generation capacity in June 2018 to more than 4 GW – a 400-fold increase.

People constantly underestimate how quickly solar can be deployed.  And now that it's cheaper than an operating coal plant (and almost as cheap as operating natural gas), we're going to be seeing many more stories like the one from Vietnam.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 02, 2019, 09:10:17 PM »
The utility scale renewable installations get a lot of attention, because they replace fossil fuel power plants.  Residential applications are also important, because they reduce the amount of electricity that needs to be supplied by the utilities (and in some cases, can be fed back into the grid when generation exceeds consumption).  Here's a news article about the growth of residential solar in Florida, not exactly a progressive state.

Florida’s stunted customer owned solar grows 76% in 2018

The State of Florida deployed 113 MWac of net metered, customer owned solar power across 13,705 installations last year – 68% more installations and 76% more watts than the prior year.
July 1, 2019 John Weaver

The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) has reported that cumulative customer-owned renewable energy systems installed in the state increased by 57% over the prior year’s cumulative total. The total capacity of customer sited renewable energy reached 317 MWac.

In terms of solar power alone – which pv magazine USA broke out alone in this Google Sheet, the state deployed over 13,702 systems and 113 MWac. These numbers were increase of 68% and 76%, respectively, versus 2017 deployment volumes. In total, the state now has 310 MW of customer owned, net metered, solar power in the state.

For comparison’s sake, the State of California – with nearly double population of Florida – deployed more than 1.5 GWdc of customer owned solar power in 2018. This value is more than four times greater than Florida has deployed cumulatively.

While this data doesn’t break it out, and since it takes time for large commercial machines to expand, some of this volume increase might be for “customer owned” systems that are actually owned by the large residential lease companies. This might lead to further expansion in growth numbers as we saw Sunrun break the dam by getting approved for a fixed price solar lease – not a power purchase agreement that varies based on generation – in the state in 2018. Subsequently, all major third party solar companies got their respectively solar lease contracts approved by the PSC as well.

Policy and solutions / Re: Coal
« on: July 01, 2019, 10:20:32 PM »
Bob, look at the numbers.

They said they'd stop insuring power companies only if they exceeded 30% of revenue derived from coal.

Coal only supplies 27.4 % of the power in the US. It supplies even less of the revenue.

Ergo; a very small minority of power companies will be affected by this policy change.

I'm all for eliminating coal as a power source, but if they were serious they'd cut off insurance to coal plants. Period!

Linking policy to revenue (net or gross?) and percentages gives them too much wiggle room while at the same time looks like positive P.R.

They aren't issuing any new policies for any coal power plants.

They're ending all existing policies for any coal power plants or coal mining by 2022.

No insurance policies from Chubb if you derive more than 30% of your revenues from coal.  There are large companies in this category, Arch, Cloud Peak, Peabody, Murray, etc...

The information about companies that get less than 30% of their revenue from coal power plants or coal mining gives those companies three years to divest from the coal related businesses if they still want to get insurance from Chubb.

The significance of the story is that a company that does a lot of business in the US is finally joining the European insurers in divesting from coal.  This article from March 2019 explains the issue.

European insurers in particular are moving away from insuring coal projects and the companies behind them. Since 2015, some 17 major insurance companies have divested from coal, withdrawing an estimated $30 billion from the sector, according to the Unfriend Coal campaign.

More than 100 financial institutions globally have introduced policies to restrict funding for coal, according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. Since 2013, coal exit announcements have occurred at a rate exceeding one per month from banks and insurers with over $10 billion of assets under management, according to a reportfrom the institute.

However, U.S. companies AIG, Liberty Mutual, Chubb and Berkshire Hathaway continue to insure coal projects around the world, which demonstrates that the divestment movement has some way to go. AIG declined to comment on coal investment for this research.

The 40 largest U.S. insurers hold more than $450 billion in coal, oil, gas and electric utility stocks and bonds, according to Insure Our Future, a campaign against U.S. companies insuring and investing in coal and tar sands projects. U.S. insurers continue to financially prop up the coal industry, despite paying out in claims as a result of extreme weather events exacerbated by a changing climate. Wildfires in Northern California generated $12.6 billion in insurance claims in 2017, and that year’s hurricane season accounted for more than $200 billion in damages, according to an announcement from the campaign in September.

Permafrost / Re: Arctic Methane Release
« on: June 26, 2019, 02:00:39 AM »
And I'm sure that you'll recall that while the average depth of the ESAS is 10m, 50% of the area of the ESAS is more than 50m deep.
I'm confused:  If 50% of an area is 50 m deep and the other 50% is 0.0 m deep, the average will be 25 m deep.  So how can the two halves of what I quoted be true?

To add to the discussion (maybe), I recall reading some permafrost is melting some 70 years before it was expected to (by some scientists).  I expect some things, like methane release from various natural environments, will be faster than 'expected'.  Bomb?  Hope not; but I'll let actual experts tease out the truth.  There will be lots of different types of truths revealed!

I accepted Oren's 10m average depth rather than looking it up.  My bad.

According to this 2002 paper, the average depth of the East Siberian Sea is 52 m.

This website about the work of Drs. Shakhova and Semiletov shows that the ESAS is composed of the parts of the Laptev, East Siberian and Chukchi Seas closest to Siberia.  It states that the average depth of the ESAS is 50 m.


What is the East Siberian Arctic Shelf?

The East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS) is the largest and the shallowest shelf in the worlds ocean with a mean depth of  around 50m. The total area of the ESAS is 2,000,000 sq Km’s with a seabed of frozen organic matter called subsea permafrost. This coastal permafrost (ground that remains less than or equal to 0ºC for 2 or more years) developed when the northern hemisphere cooled  around 2.5 million years ago.

As the glaciers eventually melted, the sea-level rose submerging the permafrost. Inundation of the shelf with seawater has changed the permafrost properties due to an increase in temperature of as much as 17ºC.

Warming of the ESAS began about 12-13 thousand years ago when the entire shelf area was exposed above sea level. When the inundation occurred, numerous thaw lakes underlain by taliks, existed on the surface of the permafrost. A talik is a layer within the permafrost that is above 0ºC.

Permafrost / Re: Arctic Methane Release
« on: June 25, 2019, 11:59:37 PM »
Nutshell: there have been warm periods in the recent past, long ones – where the methane hydrates did not come out, so it’s a high bar to prove they will be forced out under current conditions.  For example, the last interglacial, known as the Eemian, about 120,000 years ago – got warm enough to raise sea levels 15 or 20 feet above todays (now, that’s a problem..) – but no “methane bomb”.

What a horrifying mistake from one of the world's leaders of climate science.

It is not the same a 10C temperature rise in the Arctic that takes ten thousand years than 10C over the arctic in just 100 years.

On top of that, unlike the modern quick thawing of the Arctic, the peak temperature during the eemian happened just as the continental ice sheets melted. This time around the natural peak temperature happened 10k years ago, most of the continental ice sheets melted and we are warming it back up in a geological instant. To draw a sense of safety from this analogy is simply wrong.

Archimid, that's the view of most of the scientists who study climate change, not just one.  That's why the UNFCCC agreed to the 2C temperature limit increase in 1992 and reaffirmed it under the Paris Treaty in 2015 and in the IPCC 2018 report.

Keep in mind that the long interglacials (thousands of years long) were caused because the axial tilt of the Earth meant much higher solar radiation in the Arctic than we are seeing now.  So the forcing on the Arctic was much higher than the we are seeing through global forcing of greenhouse gases, even with polar amplification (which also occurred during the interglacial periods as ice melted and the albedo decreased).  And the Arctic did not release the methane currently sequestered in the permafrost and hydrates during those interglacials.

The Arctic temperature was up to 4C higher than today during the "Holocene Climate Optimum" just 5,000 to 9,000 years ago when there were no continental ice sheets.  And still the methane did not explode out of the Arctic.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: June 25, 2019, 05:50:23 PM »
A fracking pioneer sums up the state of the industry.

“The shale gas revolution has frankly been an unmitigated disaster for any buy-and-hold investor in the shale gas industry with very few limited exceptions,” Steve Schlotterbeck, former chief executive of EQT, a shale gas giant, said at a petrochemicals conference in Pittsburgh. “In fact, I'm not aware of another case of a disruptive technological change that has done so much harm to the industry that created the change.”

He did not pull any punches. “While hundreds of billions of dollars of benefits have accrued to hundreds of millions of people, the amount of shareholder value destruction registers in the hundreds of billions of dollars,” he said. “The industry is self-destructive.”

The message is not a new one. The shale industry has been burning through capital for years, posting mountains of red ink. One estimate from the Wall Street Journal found that over the past decade, the top 40 independent U.S. shale companies burned through $200 billion more than they earned. A 2017 estimate from the WSJ found $280 billion in negative cash flow between 2010 and 2017. It’s incredible when you think about it – despite the record levels of oil and gas production, the industry is in the hole by roughly a quarter of a trillion dollars.

It's like a pyramid investment scheme.

The industry is at a bit of a crossroads with Wall Street losing faith and interest, finally recognizing the failed dreams of fracking. The Wall Street Journal reports that Pioneer Natural Resources, often cited as one of the strongest shale drillers in Texas, is largely giving up on growth and instead aiming to be a modest-sized driller that can hand money back to shareholders. “We lost the growth investors,” Pioneer’s CEO Scott Sheffield said in a WSJ interview. “Now we’ve got to attract a whole other set of investors.”

They'll make it up in volume though.

But, as Schlotterbeck told the industry conference in Pittsburgh, the problem with fracking runs deep. While shale E&Ps have succeeded in boosting oil and gas production to levels that were unthinkable only a few years ago, prices have crashed precisely because of the surge of supply. And, because wells decline at a precipitous rate, capital-intensive drilling ultimately leaves companies on a spending treadmill.


Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: June 04, 2019, 08:47:24 PM »
The world's largest offshore wind farm is now operational.

The UK is quickly becoming the epicenter of the offshore wind industry. Point in case: On Monday, the first part of the world’s largest and furthest offshore wind farm came online.

The first workers were shuttled 75 miles off the east coast from Grimsby, UK, to the Hornsea One wind farm, which is partially operational. When it comes fully online next year, it will be capable of generating enough electricity to power a million homes. Right now, it’s “only” capable of powering up to 287,000 homes. But the opening of the farm coupled with plans to construct a twin behemoth nearby shows that offshore wind is growing in leaps and bounds.

The massive wind farm currently has 50 of its 174 turbines spinning. When completed, the project will have a generating capacity of 1.2 gigawatts, more than double the capacity of the current largest offshore wind installation (which is also in the UK).

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: June 04, 2019, 08:27:03 PM »
California natural gas power plant is cancelled.  The beginning of trend for natural gas similar to coal in the US?

Independent power producer Calpine has abandoned plans to build a new natural-gas plant in Southern California, swelling the ranks of recently canceled fossil fuel plants in the state.

The company withdrew its application for the Mission Rock plant in a letter to the California Energy Commission dated May 21. That decision ended a years-long conflict over the permitting of the plant, a 255-megawatt combustion turbine facility planned on the banks of the Santa Clara River in Ventura County, northwest of Los Angeles. The Native American Chumash people opposed the plant as a disruption to a river environment that they consider sacred.

The permitting battle also became a test case for new fossil fuel plant development as the Golden State moves toward its legislative goal of carbon-free electricity by 2045.

Mission Rock joins a string of recent gas plant cancellations in California. The state still relied on natural-gas generation for 34 percent of its electricity in 2017, but new gas construction there has become a rarity as market and policy headwinds intensify.

Mission Rock did not die because regulators rejected it. That means that gas plants could still win approval in California, if the state's energy agencies do not assess applications differently as a result of the 100 percent clean electricity law.

Whether or not new gas plants make economic sense for developers is another matter.

The thinning pipeline and recent string of failed gas plant developments raise the possibility that California won't build any more new plants.

"I really think that we have turned the corner on building or investing in gas in California," Meszaros said. "It’s increasingly difficult for people to say they prefer a technology that has these negative impacts."

The 2045 deadline sets a countdown for any new plants to pay themselves off, Gillespie said. While 25 years may seem like a long time, it's a typical amortization period for a gas plant. The business case becomes even more challenging when the operating lifetime is capped by legislation.

Meanwhile, clean options like solar power and energy storage keep getting cheaper and more competitive with gas, he added. Utilities, regulators and advocates are gaining more experience in evaluating zero-carbon portfolios to meet grid needs.

"We’re still a decade or two away from being able to really fully get off of gas, but it’s coming soon," Gillespie said. "You’re not going to see any new proposals come forward at this point that are going to get serious airtime from regulators, utilities or the public."

Permafrost / Re: Arctic Methane Release
« on: June 01, 2019, 12:33:00 AM »
This study from January 2019 indicates that bacteria consume between 25% to 34% of methane from Arctic soils.

Anaerobic Methane Oxidation in High-Arctic Alaskan Peatlands as a Significant Control on Net CH4 Fluxes

Kimberley E. Miller 1,2,3,*, Chun-Ta Lai 1, Randy A. Dahlgren 2 and David A. Lipson 1

1 Department of Biology, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA 92182, USA

2 Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA

3 Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, Ohio University, The Ridges Building 22, Athens, OH 45701, USA

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.

Soil Syst. 2019, 3(1), 7;

Received: 1 November 2018 / Revised: 13 December 2018 / Accepted: 28 December 2018 / Published: 9 January 2019


Terrestrial consumption of the potent greenhouse gas methane (CH4) is a critical aspect of the future climate, as CH4 concentrations in the atmosphere are projected to play an increasingly important role in global climate forcing. Anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) has only recently been considered a relevant control on methane fluxes from terrestrial systems. We performed in vitro anoxic incubations of intact peat from Utqiaġvik (Barrow), Alaska using stable isotope tracers. Our results showed an average potential AOM rate of 15.0 nmol cm3 h−1, surpassing the average rate of gross CH4 production (6.0 nmol cm3 h−1). AOM and CH4 production rates were positively correlated. While CH4 production was insensitive to additions of Fe(III), there was a depth:Fe(III) interaction in the kinetic reaction rate constant for AOM, suggestive of stimulation by Fe(III), particularly in shallow soils (<10 cm). We estimate AOM would consume 25–34% of CH4 produced under ambient conditions. Soil genetic surveys showed phylogenetic links between soil microbes and known anaerobic methanotrophs in ANME groups 2 and 3. These results suggest a prevalent role of AOM to net CH4 fluxes from Arctic peatland ecosystems, and a probable link with Fe(III)-reduction. 

Policy and solutions / Re: Cars, cars and more cars Part Deux
« on: May 31, 2019, 06:36:28 PM »
The IEA is now projecting that there will be 250 million EVs on the road in 2030 (up from 125 million last year).

What a difference a year makes. Last year, the International Energy Agency annual report predicted there would be 125 million EVs on the road worldwide by 2030. Its new 2019 report is out and it has doubled that prediction to 250 million electric vehicles by 2030, assuming the 25 nations that are part of the Clean Energy Ministerial EV30@30 program honor their commitments.

electric car sales If they do, that will mean 43 million new EVs are sold in 2030. If the more conservative “new policies” scenario prevails, 23 million EVs will be sold in 2030 and the total worldwide will reach 130 million.

Considering there were about 5 million electric cars on the road at the end of last year, this year’s prediction anticipates a dramatic increase in the number of EVs that will be sold worldwide over the next 10 years. The IEA report excludes sales of electrified two- and three-wheeled vehicles.

The current rate of cost reduction for battery storage systems is likely to continue over the next 10 years and will be strongly linked to the growth of electromobility. “It is expected that by 2025, batteries will increasingly use cathode chemistries that are less dependent on cobalt, such as NMC 811, NMC 622 or NMC 532 cathodes in the NMC family, or advanced NCA batteries,” the report adds.

The output from battery manufacturing plants will increase considerably from annual production of about 8 GWh today to an around 20 GWh in 2023, further driving down prices for EV batteries.

“Other technology developments are also expected to contribute to cost reductions,” the IEA claims. “These include the possibility to redesign vehicle manufacturing platforms using simpler and innovative design architecture that capitalize on the compact dimensions of electric motors ….. The use of big data to customize battery size to travel needs and avoid over sizing the batteries [will be] especially relevant for heavy duty vehicles.”

In general, IEA predictions tend to be on the conservative side, so the size of the EV market in 2030 could be significantly larger than suggested by this year’s report. After all, the IEA’s own forecast doubled in just the past 12 months. Absent the US forcing the world to start driving coal burning vehicles, for EV advocates the future is bright indeed.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: May 23, 2019, 05:30:02 PM »
Solar or wind plus storage continues to replace gas peaker plants in the US.

U.S. grid-connected energy storage capacity this year is set for a twofold increase to 712 MW from 376 MW last year. What’s more, between 2019 and 2024, storage capacity will soar to almost 5 GW, of which 90 percent will be battery storage, IHS Markit said in a new report.

In fact, in some cases, solar and wind plus storage is cost-competitive with traditional peaker plants that use fossil fuels to provide backup power when needed. This week the U.S. News & World Report wrote about Southern California Edison’s decision to scrap its plans for a new 262-MW peaker plant in favor of a 195-MW battery array that will store energy produced by solar and wind farms.

Wood Mackenzie’s head of energy storage says battery storage facilities are increasingly becoming a better alternative to peaker plants.

"Gas peakers only operate a few hours in a year,” Ravi Manghani told the U.S. News & World Report. "We've seen four to six hours of energy storage is technically sufficient to replace most of these peaking assets. As battery costs continue to fall, battery storage systems have become economically more attractive alternatives."

Policy and solutions / Re: Nuclear Power
« on: May 20, 2019, 08:33:26 PM »
The former Chairperson of the NRC is now strongly anti-nuke.

Before the accident, it was easier to accept the industry’s potential risks, because nuclear power plants had kept many coal and gas plants from spewing air pollutants and greenhouse gases into the air. Afterward, the falling cost of renewable power changed the calculus. Despite working in the industry for more than a decade, I now believe that nuclear power’s benefits are no longer enough to risk the welfare of people living near these plants. I became so convinced that, years after departing office, I’ve now made alternative energy development my new career, leaving nuclear power behind. The current and potential costs — in lives and dollars — are just too high.

For years, my concerns about nuclear energy’s cost and safety were always tempered by a growing fear of climate catastrophe. But Fukushima provided a good test of just how important nuclear power was to slowing climate change: In the months after the accident, all nuclear reactors in Japan were shuttered indefinitely, eliminating production of almost all of the country’s carbon-free electricity and about 30 percent of its total electricity production. Naturally, carbon emissions rose, and future emissions-reduction targets were slashed.

Would shutting down plants all over the world lead to similar results? Eight years after Fukushima, that question has been answered. Fewer than 10 of Japan’s 50 reactors have resumed operations, yet the country’s carbon emissions have dropped below their levels before the accident. How? Japan has made significant gains in energy efficiency and solar power. It turns out that relying on nuclear energy is actually a bad strategy for combating climate change: One accident wiped out Japan’s carbon gains. Only a turn to renewables and conservation brought the country back on target.

The real choice now is between saving the planet and saving the dying nuclear industry. I vote for the planet.

Policy and solutions / Re: Cars, cars and more cars Part Deux
« on: May 17, 2019, 05:58:16 PM »
Peak ICE is here.

However, as Liam Denning points out for Bloomberg Opinion, even as it will take time for EV sales to surpass their fossil fuel counterparts, the more important metric may be when EVs capture more of the growth in sales. If EVs begin to seize all or most of the growth going forward, the position of major automakers – and the oil market – will quickly run into trouble. It only takes change at the margins to create significant disruption.

That may already be underway. Last year, EVs took home all of the growth in the auto market, a trend that is likely to continue, even if some short-term fluctuation is possible. In other words, the peak of the internal combustion engine may already be here. Independent researcher and journalist Gregor Macdonald has been beating this drum for quite a while, noting that gasoline and diesel vehicle sales in China have already hit a peak as well.

As the internal combustion engine sees sales plateau at a time when EV sales are soaring, automakers and Big Finance will turn to the growth opportunity.

This story may apply more broadly to the energy transition, not just to transportation. Fossil fuels dominate, and clean energy is still relatively small. But the lumbering giant is beginning to crumble. The 170 companies in the Russell 3000 Energy Index are down 12 percent since the start of 2017, according to Matthew Winkler of Bloomberg News. The decline comes even as broader equity markets have climbed substantially. The Russell 3000 gained 27 percent over the same period.

More importantly, clean energy stocks have done even better. The 89 publicly-traded companies that earn at least 10 percent of their revenues from clean energy, as identified by BloombergNEF, have seen their stocks rise by 50 percent since the beginning of 2017, Winkler points out.

In other words, if you invested in an oil or gas company in 2017, you likely have seen negative returns since then. If, instead, you chose to put your money in a clean energy company, you are likely pleased with that decision today.

Arctic sea ice / Re: The 2019 melting season
« on: May 16, 2019, 06:15:48 PM »
Does anyone know where I can find the extra energy input / day (power) due to albedo change compared with 1900 or before due to reduced sea ice cover ?

Try this study. I think it concludes that the forcing equivalent associated with all (sea and land) lost Arctic albedo is equivalent to half of all athropogogenic CO2 emissions.

If you put the title of the study into a search engine, you can find other more recent studies that cite it as a reference.  Here's a 2019 study that looks at how clouds moderate the impact of the loss of sea ice.

Atmosphere 2019, 10(1), 12;

How Much Do Clouds Mask the Impacts of Arctic Sea Ice and Snow Cover Variations? Different Perspectives from Observations and Reanalyses

Anne Sledd * and Tristan L’Ecuyer

Decreasing sea ice and snow cover are reducing the surface albedo and changing the Arctic surface energy balance. How these surface albedo changes influence the planetary albedo is a more complex question, though, that depends critically on the modulating effects of the intervening atmosphere. To answer this question, we partition the observed top of atmosphere (TOA) albedo into contributions from the surface and atmosphere, the latter being heavily dependent on clouds. While the surface albedo predictably declines with lower sea ice and snow cover, the TOA albedo decreases approximately half as much. This weaker response can be directly attributed to the fact that the atmosphere contributes more than 70% of the TOA albedo in the annual mean and is less dependent on surface cover. The surface accounts for a maximum of 30% of the TOA albedo in spring and less than 10% by the end of summer. Reanalyses (ASR versions 1 and 2, ERA-Interim, MERRA-2, and NCEP R2) represent the annual means of surface albedo fairly well, but biases are found in magnitudes of the TOA albedo and its contributions, likely due to their representations of clouds. Reanalyses show a wide range of TOA albedo sensitivity to changing sea ice concentration, 0.04–0.18 in September, compared to 0.11 in observations.

The reduced sensitivity of TOA albedo to surface cover is important for the ice-albedo feedback.  Our work supports previous studies that have found reduced ice-albedo feedback parameters due to clouds [17,18]. We have found that clouds mask the surface albedo and damp changes in surface cover at the TOA. When the surface albedo is sensitive to SIC changes in the summer and fall, the surface contribution to the TOA albedo is low, leading to reduced changes at the TOA. There is nuance, though.  Clouds do not simply replace underlying snow and ice. While clouds have higher albedos than open  ocean, there is still a measurable difference (0.15) in TOA albedo between land with and without snow cover and ocean with and without sea ice cover. Clouds may reduce the ice-albedo feedback, but the radiative effects of clouds at the TOA are unlikely to be large enough to prevent the ice-albedo feedback from continuing and contributing to Arctic amplification.

Policy and solutions / Re: Coal
« on: April 29, 2019, 10:48:36 PM »
Battery costs  have come down even faster than wind and solar costs.

But now another technology revolution is underway that could help solve that problem: an electricity storage boom. The cost of lithium-ion batteries has plunged 85 percent in a decade, and 30 percent in just the past year, so utilities across the U.S. have started attaching containers full of them to the grid—and they’re planning to install far more of them in the coming years. Electricity has always been the toughest commodity to manage, because unlike water, grain, fuel or steel, it has been largely impossible to store for later use. But that is changing fast, and even though the dramatic growth of batteries on the grid will be invisible to most Americans, it has the potential to transform how we produce and consume power, creating more flexible and resilient electricity systems with less waste, lower costs and fewer emissions.

Overall, the consultancy Wood Mackenzie expects U.S. storage additions to double in 2019, triple in 2020 and increase 13-fold over the next five years, which would store enough electricity to power more than 5 million homes. The forecasters at Bloomberg New Energy Finance expect more than $600 billion in global investment in battery storage by 2040. The storage boom, like so many green trends in America, first took hold in California, but Ravi Manghani, the head of energy storage research at Wood Mackenzie, says it is spreading much faster than anyone expected, ending the era when power had to be distributed and used the instant it was generated.

“Every time we do a new forecast, we have to revise it up for deployment and down for cost,” says Ravi Manghani, head of energy storage research at Wood Mackenzie. “We’ve been proven wrong again and again.”

A 13-fold increase in 5 years!  And an acknowledgement that they often underestimate the  growth rates and cost reductions.

Shah says the spectacular growth in storage built by utilities alongside solar plants might eventually be dwarfed by homes and businesses installing “behind-the-meter” battery units to store solar power from their rooftops; last year, 15,000 individual battery storage units like the Tesla PowerWall were installed in the U.S., still a tiny slice of the market but a fivefold increase over the previous year. Utilities are also building batteries alongside wind farms, storing excess nighttime generation for use during morning peaks when families are getting ready for work and school. The Southwest Power Pool, which runs the grid serving 14 states in the windy and predominantly Republican middle of the country, now has 5 gigawatts worth of storage projects in its queue, nearly four times the current U.S. total.

“It gives you an idea of the magnitude of interest,” says Bruce Rew, vice president for operations. “We’ve got lots of wind, and storage will help us manage it.”

This study from 2018 indicates that the West Antarctic Ice sheet wont disintegrate if we can reduce emissions to the RCP 2.6 scenario.

Uncertainty quantification of the multi-centennial response of the
Antarctic Ice Sheet to climate change

Kevin Bulthuis, Maarten Arnst, Sainan Sun, and Frank Pattyn

Abstract. Ice loss from the Antarctic ice sheet (AIS) is expected to become the major contributor to sea-level rise in the next centuries. Projections of the AIS response to climate change based on numerical ice-sheet models remain challenging to establish due to the complexity of physical processes involved in ice-sheet dynamics, including instability mechanisms that can destabilise marine sectors with retrograde slopes. Moreover, uncertainties in ice-sheet models limit the ability to provide accurate sea-level rise 5 projections. Here, we apply probabilistic methods to a hybrid ice-sheet model to investigate the influence of several sources of uncertainty, namely sources of uncertainty in atmospheric forcing, basal sliding, grounding-line flux parameterisation, calving, sub-shelf melting, ice-shelf rheology and bedrock relaxation, on the continental response of the Antarctic ice sheet to climate change over the next millennium. We provide probabilistic projections of sea-level rise and grounding-line retreat and we carry out stochastic sensitivity analyses to determine the most influential sources of uncertainty. We find that all 10 sources of uncertainty, except perhaps the bedrock relaxation times, contribute to the uncertainty in the projections. We show that the sensitivity of the projections to uncertainties increases and the contribution of the uncertainty in sub-shelf melting to the uncertainty in the projections becomes more and more dominant as the scenario gets warmer. We show that the significance of the AIS contribution to sea-level rise is controlled by marine ice-sheet instability (MISI) in marine basins, with the biggest contribution stemming from the more vulnerable West Antarctic ice sheet. We find that, irrespectively of parametric 15 uncertainty, the strongly mitigated RCP 2.6 scenario prevents the collapse of theWest Antarctic ice sheet, that in both RCP 4.5 and RCP 6.0 scenarios the occurrence of MISI in marine basins is more sensitive to parametric uncertainty and that, almost irrespectively of parametric uncertainty, RCP 8.5 triggers the collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet.

It's important to note that the scientific paper that introduced MICI, Pollard, DeConto and Alley, 2016, was done to try to determine how the sea levels could have risen by 17m during the Pliocene era. While MICI may cause the Antarctic ice sheets to collapse more quickly than they would from MISI alone, it's important to understand that the conditions that could initiate MICI are at least a century off in even the worst case business as usual emissions scenarios.

To investigate the impact of the cliff-failure and melt-driven hydrofracture mechanisms, the ice-sheet model is run forward in time, forced by climate representative of past warm periods. Simulations are started from a previous spin-up of modern Antarctica using observed climatology. An instantaneous change to a warmer climate is applied, broadly representative of a warm Pliocene period. The past warm atmospheric climate is obtained from the RegCM3 Regional Climate Model (Pal et al., 2007) applied over Antarctica with some physical adaptations for polar regions, and with 400 ppmv CO2 and an orbit yielding particularly strong austral summers (DeConto et al., 2012). Detailed simulation of ocean warming beneath Antarctic ice shelves is currently not feasible on these time scales, so a simple uniform increment of
 is added to modern observed ocean temperatures, broadly consistent with circum-Antarctic warming in Pliocene paleo-oceanic reconstructions (Dowsett et al., 2009). The climate forcings are described in more detail in Supplementary Material Section S.3.

Note that they start the model with a 3C warmer temperature than preindustrial, and a 2C warmer ocean.

The equivalent eustatic sea level rise reaches 5 m after ∼200 yr and 17 m after ∼3000 yr (Fig. 4, red curve), similar in magnitude to albeit uncertain proxy estimates of past sea-level variations mentioned above. About 3 mesl comes from West Antarctica, and the remaining ∼14mesl  comes from East Antarctic basins. The bigger contribution of EAIS, despite its similar area of collapse to WAIS, is explained by the much greater volumes of ice above flotation in the East Antarctic basins, particularly in the Aurora (Fig. 1c).

The main aim of adding hydrofracturing and cliff failure was to produce total Antarctic retreat consistent with albeit poorly constrained past sea-level data, and no effort was made to adjust the rate of retreat. The time scale that emerges for West Antarctic collapse (∼3m contribution to global sea-level rise within O(100)  years after a step-function warming) is an order of magnitude faster than previous estimates for the next century, which range from ∼0.1 to 0.6 m by 2100 AD (Pfeffer et al., 2008, Levermann et al., 2014, Joughin et al., 2014). The modeling approaches in Pfeffer et al. and Levermann et al. are very different, and our study is not directly applicable to the future because of our step-function climate change, Pliocene-like climate, and homogeneous ocean warming. But even so, our predicted WAIS retreat rates are much faster than might be expected from the previous work. The main cause is the new mechanisms of hydrofracture and cliff failure.

But to initiate the higher rates of sea level rise, ocean temperatures need to reach 2C above pre-industrial with global temperatures at 3C above pre-industrial.   AbruptSLR, what studies support such a rapid increase in ocean temperatures to allow for initiation of MICI by the 2040s to 2050s as you often claim?

Policy and solutions / Re: Coal
« on: April 26, 2019, 06:45:28 PM »
This article sums up the fate of coal in the USA.  It conveniently ignores that natural gas has basically put coal on life support, renewables are taking the blame for pulling the plug.

Washington State just passed a bill requiring 100 percent clean and renewable electricity by 2045, while also completely eliminating coal-fired power by 2025. New Mexico passed a similar bill that calls for 100 percent clean energy by 2045. Along with previously passed 100 percent clean energy mandates in California and Hawaii, there are now four states with such laws on the books.

Nevada’s Governor just signed into law a bill that would require 50 percent renewable energy by 2030. Maryland is moving forward on similar legislation – 50 percent by 2030.

There are countless policies at the municipal level that also push the envelope. Notably, New York City just passed a law aiming to slash emissions from buildings by 40 percent by 2030. Buildings are responsible for nearly three-quarters of the city’s emissions. New York’s effort targeting commercial buildings has been called “unprecedented.”

Most states have renewable portfolio standards in some form, requiring utilities to generate or procure a portion of electricity from renewable or otherwise low-emissions sources. At the start of the year, there were 29 states plus the District of Columbia that that had renewable portfolios in place, according to the EIA. States with legally binding requirements accounted for 63 percent of electricity retail sales in 2018, the agency said. At present, there is no federal requirement for renewable energy, although that is something that is gaining a bit of traction in Congress.

Looking forward, the battle between fossil fuels and clean energy on the U.S. grid is already won. Solar and wind will capture the majority of new capacity additions for at least the next two years, according to the EIA, a trend that should only accelerate over time. Utility-scale solar will grow by 10 percent this year and another 17 percent in 2020, while wind will expand by 12 percent and 14 percent in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Natural gas generation will also grow, but coal-fired power plants will continue to close, as they have for the last decade.

For years, renewables fought with coal and gas over which was cheaper in terms of new additions. But renewable energy is increasingly the cheapest option even when compared to existing coal-fired power plants. In other words, it is increasingly cheaper to build new solar and wind than it is to simply operate an existing coal plant.

The energy transition, in many respects, is inevitable. The question is just how quickly it will unfold. The ratcheting up of renewable portfolio standards will accelerate the changeover.

Here's an interesting article on how Sander's polling numbers compare to other candidates who had national name recognition from previous elections.

1.While Sanders is one of perhaps a dozen candidates with a plausible shot at the nomination, the field is fairly wide open, and it’s too early to say how formidable he is.
2.It’s also too early to conclude very much about Sanders’s “electability” against Trump, especially in comparison to other Democrats.
3.Finally, even if they wanted to stop Sanders, it’s too early for the party establishment to know how to go about doing that — without more input from rank-and-file voters, any move meant to hinder Sanders could backfire.

Each one of these claims could be the subject of a long post — so I just want to focus on the first one for today and leave the others for later.

To be clear, I think Sanders can win the Democratic nomination. He’s probably the 3rd- or 4th- most likely nominee, in my estimation — slightly behind Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and roughly tied with Pete Buttigieg, but ahead of everyone else. All of these candidates (and others such as Elizabeth Warren and Beto O’Rourke) have their own assets and liabilities, so I wouldn’t go to the mat if you put them in a different order.

But sometimes, I get the sense from Sanders backers — or from other election analysts who look at the polls a little differently than I do, or from traditional reporters — that they think Sanders’s strength in the polls is being ignored. Empirically, however, Sanders’s position in the polls is not all that strong; it’s consistent with sometimes winning the nomination but usually not.

Across the board, those numbers are well down from 2016 — when Sanders got 43 percent of the vote nationally, along with 50 percent in Iowa and 60 percent in New Hampshire.

You could take a glass-half-full view of this for Sanders, however. Sure, he isn’t getting as many votes as last time around, but you wouldn’t expect him to in a field that already includes 17 major candidates, rather than just Sanders and Hillary Clinton. And 20 percent or 30 percent of the vote could still be good enough for first place in the early states.

Historically, though, candidates who are polling at only about 20 percent nationally despite the near-universal name recognition that Sanders enjoys don’t have a great track record.

The story goes on to list 15 candidates who had similar polling leading up to the primaries, and only three of them won the nomination, Obama, Romney and McCain.  Then it describes other factors that lead up to winning delegates for the nominating convention.

You could also argue that the three winning candidates from the list — Barack Obama and John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012 — aren’t good comparisons for Sanders, especially from a “The Party Decides” standpoint where preferences among party insiders and activists are leading indicators of voter preferences. Romney, for instance, had the backing of the GOP party establishment as a potential consensus choice, whereas Sanders largely lacks it from Democrats. Obama was a rising star, rather than someone left over from a previous cycle, and gained a lot of momentum among party elites as the 2008 cycle wore on, even if they also liked Clinton. McCain, who ran against the party establishment in 2000 but was someone the party could live with in 2008, is in some ways the most favorable comparison for Sanders.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: April 24, 2019, 06:35:05 PM »
Investors are starting to understand what the fact that new solar is now cheaper than operating coal means for investment opportunities.

The solar energy industry is making a major comeback. Solar stocks have been soaring across the board in 2019, and it looks like the solar sector is going to be able to keep it up, based on analyses of both majorly improved performance and extremely positive long-term projections--a winning combo.

So far this year, according to “multimedia financial services company” the Motley Fool, “First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR), SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR), Sunrun (NASDAQ:RUN), and Vivint Solar (NYSE:VSLR) are all up over 40% [as of April 21] and Chinese manufacturer JinkoSolar (NYSE:JKS) has nearly doubled.”

One such country is South Africa, where a major energy crisis, brought on by years of mismanagement and high-level corruption, has left the energy grid devastated. Rolling blackouts are devastating the national economy to the tune of $284 million every day, pushing the populace to look for alternative solutions. This is where solar comes in. South Africa averages 2,500 hours of sunshine a year, which makes solar an obvious choice for a nation looking for sustainable solutions, especially now that it’s not so prohibitively expensive for a cash-strapped country like South Africa.

Despite observable cultural and societal trends like the South African solar revolution, exact numbers to quantify solar growth are somewhat hard to come by. As the Motley Fool points out, it’s hard to get exact figures on the number and size of solar installations around the world, since many countries don’t keep detailed data on total installed capacity. That being said, many analysts are making bold predictions for what could be a record-breaking year. Bloomberg New Energy Finance, for example, “expects solar installations to grow from 109 gigawatts (GW) in 2018 to 125 GW to 141 GW in 2019, or enough to power 23.1 million U.S. homes.”

Solar energy has become far cheaper than many traditional resources. “In most of the U.S. today, it's cheaper to build a new solar or wind farm than to simply keep an existing coal plant running”, reports CBS News. One reason for this is that solar panel technology has greatly improved, but it’s mostly thanks to an economy of scale now that solar has been much more widely adopted.

What’s more, for solar panel manufacturers who have long grappled with razor-thin profit margins, if any, it’s looking like growing demand for solar energy is finally going to translate into rising profits as industry growth takes the edge off of price pressure. Solar panels are also getting more and more efficient, and as the Motley Fool puts it, “these technology improvements will help expand differentiation, increase margins, and if all goes well increase profits.”

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: April 23, 2019, 09:01:16 PM »
It looks like solar is outcompeting wind in Germany.

Germany’s Federal Network Agency, the Bundesnetzagentur, announced last week the results from its most recent joint tender for solar and onshore wind projects. Germany currently conducts numerous auctions each year, some of which are technology-specific and others which are technology-neutral. Already this year the Bundesnetzagentur has awarded 476 MW worth of onshore wind contracts in a significantly undersubscribed tender, and another 505 MW of large-scale solar at an average price of €0.065 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), in an oversubscribed tender.

Announced last Thursday, the Bundesnetzagentur revealed that it had awarded 210 MW of solar contracts to 18 solar power bids in the joint solar and onshore wind tender. The tender was originally for a flat 200 MW but was significantly oversubscribed at 719.5 MW worth of solar projects bidding for contracts. No onshore wind contracts were awarded.

While the most recent tender results are obviously good news for Germany’s solar industry — and representative of the industry’s strength, considering just how thoroughly oversubscribed the tender was — the auction continues to ring a warning bell for the country’s wind industry, specifically regarding the policies surrounding the development of new projects. As was highlighted in February in the wake of the first onshore wind tender of 2019, Germany’s permitting process for new onshore wind projects is hampering growth, as new permits can now take over two years to complete. Further, wind projects which do receive permits are increasingly being challenged in courts, further hampering development, with at least 750 MW worth of onshore wind projects held up in legal proceedings as of February.

“This is now the 3rd German onshore wind auction in a row that’s been under-subscribed,” explained WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson in February. “It’s clear the permitting process is not fit for purpose. It’s taking longer and longer to get a permit. The Bundesländer are reluctant to identify new locations for wind farms. And even if wind farms do get a permit, many then get caught up in legal disputes, which is pushing up costs.

“The German Government needs to take urgent action to make permitting easier. And the Bundesländer need to identify appropriate new zones for onshore wind. If they don’t, auctions will continue to be under-subscribed, and prices will remain higher than they should be. And this will jeopardise Germany’s target of 65% renewables in electricity by 2030.”

The rest / Re: Elections 2020 USA
« on: April 19, 2019, 07:41:55 PM »
Bernie Sanders calls for an end to fossil fuels.

This week, Sanders made a rather stunning proposal on behalf of himself and his supporters: “We say to Donald Trump and the fossil fuel industry that climate change is not a hoax but is an existential threat to our country and the entire planet — and we intend to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel and into energy efficiency and sustainable energy and, in the process, create millions of good paying jobs. All of us have a moral responsibility to make certain that the planet we leave to our children and grandchildren is healthy and habitable.” If you go to, you will see his entire position on climate change:

Climate change is the single greatest threat facing our planet. Yet the giant, multi-national fossil fuel corporations have spent hundreds of millions of dollars furthering their greed and protecting their profits at the expense of our climate and our future.

The recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has made it clear that if we fail to substantially cut the amount of carbon in our atmosphere in under 11 years, the human, environmental, and economic costs will be severe and irreversible.

Climate change is not a problem we will have to worry about 50 years from now. Overwhelming scientific consensus indicates that climate change is already exacerbating extreme weather events like heat waves, wildfires, droughts, floods, and hurricanes. Climate change is already negatively impacting real estate values due to sea level rise and global agriculture and food security through changing water availability, flooding, and drought.

These trends will only continue as global temperatures and sea levels continue to rise. We need a president –Bernie Sanders — who understands that climate change is real and an existential threat to our country and the entire planet. When we are in the White House, we will:
◾Pass a Green New Deal to save American families money and generate millions of jobs by transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels to 100% energy efficiency and sustainable energy. A Green New Deal will protect workers and the communities in which they live to ensure a transition to family-sustaining wage, union jobs.
◾Invest in infrastructure and programs to protect the frontline communities most vulnerable to extreme climate impacts like wildfires, sea level rise, drought, floods, and extreme weather like hurricanes.
◾Reduce carbon pollution emissions from our transportation system by building out high-speed passenger rail, electric vehicles, and public transit.
◾Ban fracking and new fossil fuel infrastructure and keep oil, gas, and coal in the ground by banning fossil fuel leases on public lands.
◾End exports of coal, natural gas, and crude oil.

Policy and solutions / Re: Nuclear Power
« on: April 18, 2019, 09:35:26 PM »
After the Fukushima disaster, US nuclear power plants were assessed for flood risks.  Turns out, 54 of the 60 plants weren't built to withstand the flood risk they face.

According to a Bloomberg review of correspondence between the commission and plant owners, 54 of the nuclear plants operating in the U.S. weren’t designed to handle the flood risk they face. Fifty-three weren’t built to withstand their current risk from intense precipitation; 25 didn’t account for current flood projections from streams and rivers; 19 weren’t designed for their expected maximum storm surge. Nineteen face three or more threats that they weren’t designed to handle.

The industry argues that rather than redesign facilities to address increased flood risk, which Jaczko advocates, it’s enough to focus mainly on storing emergency generators, pumps, and other equipment in on-site concrete bunkers, a system they call Flex, for Flexible Mitigation Capability. Not only did the NRC agree with that view, it ruled on Jan. 24 that nuclear plants wouldn’t have to update that equipment to deal with new, higher levels of expected flooding. It also eliminated a requirement that plants run Flex drills.

The commission’s three members appointed by President Trump wrote that existing regulations were sufficient to protect the country’s nuclear reactors. Jaczko disagrees. “Any work that was done following Fukushima is for naught because the commission rejected any binding requirement to use that work,” he says. “It’s like studying the safety of seat belts and then not making automakers put them in a car.”

The commission “is carrying out the Trump deregulatory philosophy,” says Edwin Lyman, head of the Nuclear Safety Project at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “The NRC basically did everything the industry wanted.” The two Democratic appointees objected to the NRC’s ruling. “The majority of the commission has decided that licensees can ignore these reevaluated hazards,” commissioner Jeff Baran wrote in dissent. His colleague Stephen Burns called the decision “baffling.” Through a spokesman, the Republican appointees declined to comment.

Policy and solutions / Re: Nuclear Power
« on: April 18, 2019, 12:33:55 AM »
I missed this story when it came out last month.  The US government increased the amount of guaranteed loan subsidies for the Vogtle reactors under construction by $3.7 billion.  That means the taxpayers are now on the hook for $12 billion if the plant goes belly-up.  I doubt that the taxpayers will see a penny of the profits if this plant ever produces any.

The Trump administration will finalize $3.7 billion in loan guarantees to Southern Co. and its partners who are building a troubled nuclear reactor project in Georgia -- the last of its kind under construction in the U.S. -- according to two people familiar with the matter.

The guarantees, expected to be announced Friday when U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry visits Plant Vogtle alongside Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Southern Chief Executive Officer Tom Fanning, represents a critical lifeline for the project, which is more than five years behind schedule and has doubled in cost to $28 billion.

The additional help also puts taxpayers on the hook for more money if the project were to collapse. Southern and its partners in Plant Vogtle were already recipients of record $8.3 billion in federally-backed loan guarantees from the Obama administration, but asked the Trump administration to come to their aid amid ballooning costs and setbacks caused in part by the bankruptcy of a contractor, Westinghouse Electric Co.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: April 04, 2019, 01:43:53 AM »
The EU is addressing fugitive methane emissions from oil and gas production and distribution:

Although not legally binding, the new European Parliament resolution is the final climate resolution of the current mandate, meaning it will help raise expectations for the new Parliament taking office on July 1, 2019. Rapid policy development on methane emissions should be a top priority for the new Parliament and feature prominently in the questions for the incoming Commission’s parliamentary hearings in September 2019.

Global methane emissions from the oil and gas sector need to be on a rapidly declining pathway. As one of the world’s largest consumers of gas, Europe can and must play a significant role in driving action at a global scale. Fortunately, methane emissions from the oil and gas sector have been recognized as low hanging fruit, with the technologies and approaches to mitigating them well known and inexpensive.


Abrupt SLR,

Cheer me up. Are there any significant -ve feedbacks that do not require active input by us humans that could at least slow Armageddon for a day or two?

While there are many negative climate change feedback mechanisms (see the linked article), some people feel comforted by that fact that currently global warming is increasing Net Primary Productivity of plants; which might be beneficial if society can some how follow a SSP1-type of pathway (see the attached image) sooner rather than later:

Title: "Climate change feedback"

Extract: "Net Primary Productivity
Net primary productivity changes in response to increased CO2, as plants photosynthesis increased in response to increasing concentrations. However, this effect is swamped by other changes in the biosphere due to global warming."
Thanks AbruptSLR for trying.

The link shown by you is the one I found last week. I have to say it felt like being on a bicycle playing chicken against a Mack Truck. I guess it was a forlorn hope.

As the cliché has it - "It is what it is".

While AbruptSLR is doing a great job in highlighting potential dangers of climate change, he is focusing on the very low-probability extreme climate change scenarios.  If you read the articles he links to, they often focus on hypothetical extreme model runs to show what could happen in the case of runaway carbon emissions.  He has recently posted papers with 4 times increases in CO2 concentrations and 5 or 11 times increases in methane concentrations.  Those are scenarios well beyond even the extremes of RCP 8.5.

Also, many posters on this site assume that if we stop burning fossil fuels, aerosol emissions will be so reduced that increased shortwave radiation will overwhelm any benefit we gain from reducing carbon emissions.  This is false.  The effects of aerosols are still being debated in the scientific literature, and AbruptSLR is focused on the ones that show more warming if aerosols are reduced.  There are scientific articles that show the opposite, such as this one published in Nature Communications in 2018:

Decrease in radiative forcing by organic aerosol nucleation, climate, and land use change
Jialei Zhu,
Joyce E. Penner,
Fangqun Yu,
Sanford Sillman,
Meinrat O. Andreae &

Hugh Coe

Nature Communicationsvolume 10, Article number: 423 (2019)  |  Download Citation


Organic nucleation is an important source of atmospheric aerosol number concentration, especially in pristine continental regions and during the preindustrial period. Here, we improve on previous simulations that overestimate boundary layer nucleation in the tropics and add changes to climate and land use to evaluate climate forcing. Our model includes both pure organic nucleation and heteromolecular nucleation of sulfuric acid and organics and reproduces the profile of aerosol number concentration measured in the Amazon. Organic nucleation decreases the sum of the total aerosol direct and indirect radiative forcing by 12.5%. The addition of climate and land use change decreases the direct radiative forcing (−0.38 W m−2) by 6.3% and the indirect radiative forcing (−1.68 W m−2) by 3.5% due to the size distribution and number concentration change of secondary organic aerosol and sulfate. Overall, the total radiative forcing associated with anthropogenic aerosols is decreased by 16%.

Also, renewable energy is now cheaper than coal and is quickly becoming cheaper than natural gas and EVs are poised to outsell ICEs in the coming decade.  As a result, we're probably going to end up on an emissions path between RCP 2.6 and 4.5. 

So there are many reasons to hope.  I agree with AbruptSLR and many posters on this site that we need to get off of fossil fuels as quickly as possible and I also agree with the consensus climate scientists that it's not too late.  Don't give up hope.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: March 19, 2019, 07:22:40 PM »
The State of Washington is leasing land for a solar farm at 150 times the revenue it was receiving for grazing fees.

Would you rather lease your land for $300/acre/year for 20+ years in a fixed contract (probably with a 1-3% escalator)? Or for $2/acre/year? The State of Washington has put pen to paper with an answer.

Avangrid Renewables has signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Puget Sound Energy (PSE) for their currently under development 150 MWac / ~190 MWdc solar power plant located in Klickitat County, Washington – named the Lund Hill Solar Project. The project’s electricity will be sold through the utility’s Green Direct program which sells 100% green energy options to commercial entities.

The second round of PSE’s offering of the Green Direct program is already fully subscribed and will be a blend of wind and solar, with the Lund Hill Solar project supplying the solar product. The state of Washington is one of the largest customers in PSE’s Green Direct program, which has more than 40 customers signed up to receive the wind and solar power.

Lund Hill Solar will be located on approximately 1,800 acres, a mix of land leased from private landowners and the Washington Department of Natural Resources, the state’s first solar power land lease. 480 acres of that land will be leased from the State of Washington. Prior, the state was leasing the land for $2/acre/year for cattle grazing. The goal is to have 500 megawatts of solar capacity operating on leased state lands by 2025.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: March 15, 2019, 06:25:28 PM »
Please note that the arcticle linked below appears to quote from a GE press release about a new model of wind turbine, and thus may be a little too optimistic for some readers.  I'm posting it because the article illustrates the technology improvements that are currently happening in the wind energy industry and how they will allow the amount of wind power being deployed to continue to increase.

A year later, GE Renewable Energy announced the upgraded 5.3 MW version and the new “Cypress Platform” naming convention. The new Cypress turbines are designed to produce over 20 gigawatt-hours of power annually and offer a 50% increase in Annual Energy Production over their lifespan.

“We’re delighted with the progress our team has been able to make in bringing our innovative, high-tech turbine to market on an accelerated schedule,” said Jérôme Pécresse, CEO of GE Renewable Energy. “We are confident that Cypress, with its two-piece blade design, will be a game changer for the industry. We’re hearing equal enthusiasm from our customers across the globe, who tell us they appreciate the potential of Cypress to help them both lower the cost of onshore wind and gain added flexibility in siting turbines.”

The Cypress Platform of turbines are offered with multiple power ratings and varying hub heights, enabling a lower cost of electricity by matching each wind turbine to specific site needs. Designed with a “revolutionary” two-piece blade design which makes it possible to use larger rotors and site the turbines in a wider variety of locations, the Cypress turbines can thus be installed at locations that were previously inaccessible.

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