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Messages - Ken Feldman

Pages: [1] 2
1
Arctic sea ice / Re: When will the Arctic Go Ice Free?
« on: July 15, 2019, 06:55:53 PM »
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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.

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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.

https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aade56/meta

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

Abstract
 

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.

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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.

2
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.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/dominicdudley/2019/07/10/renewable-energy-investment-falls/#626ec8384fb7

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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:

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“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.”

3
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.

https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/press-release/renewable-energy-investment-2018-hit-usd-2889-billion-far-exceeding

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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.

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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:

https://endcoal.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/BoomAndBust_2019_r6.pdf

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

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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:

http://www.ren21.net/gsr-2019/




4
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!

https://www.pv-magazine.com/2019/07/05/vietnam-overtakes-australia-for-commissioned-utility-scale-solar-following-june-fit-rush/

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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.

5
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.

https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2019/07/01/floridas-stunted-customer-owned-solar-grows-76-in-2018/

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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

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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.

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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.


6
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.

https://poweringpastcoal.org/insights/policy-and-regulation/companies-reduce-exposure-to-coal-as-climate-risks-increase

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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.

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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.


7
Permafrost / Re: Arctic Methane Release
« on: June 26, 2019, 02:00:39 AM »
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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.

https://envisionation.co.uk/index.php/nick-breeze/203-subsea-permafrost-on-east-siberian-arctic-shelf-now-in-accelerated-decline

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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.


8
Permafrost / Re: Arctic Methane Release
« on: June 25, 2019, 11:59:37 PM »
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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.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocene_climatic_optimum

9
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.

https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Shale-Pioneer-Fracking-is-an-Unmitigated-Disaster.html

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“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.

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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.

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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.

D'oh!

10
Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: June 04, 2019, 08:47:24 PM »
The world's largest offshore wind farm is now operational.

https://earther.gizmodo.com/the-worlds-largest-offshore-wind-farm-just-came-online-1835215479

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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).

11
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?

https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/calpine-drops-mission-rock-application-as-californias-gas-plant-pipeline-dw

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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.

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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.

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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."

12
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.

https://www.mdpi.com/2571-8789/3/1/7

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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; https://doi.org/10.3390/soilsystems3010007

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

Abstract

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. 

13
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).

https://cleantechnica.com/2019/05/30/iea-predicts-250-million-evs-on-the-road-by-2030/

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

14
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.

https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/US-Energy-Storage-Capacity-Set-To-Double-This-Year.html

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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.

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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."


15
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.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/i-oversaw-the-us-nuclear-power-industry-now-i-think-it-should-be-banned/2019/05/16/a3b8be52-71db-11e9-9eb4-0828f5389013_story.html?utm_term=.8788440bd581

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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.

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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.

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

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

https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Peak-Gasoline-Vehicles-Is-Already-Here.html

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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.

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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.

17
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 ?

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/24550469/

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.

https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4433/10/1/12

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Atmosphere 2019, 10(1), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos10010012

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

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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.

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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.

18
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.

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/04/29/trump-wrong-about-wind-power-electricity-battery-storage-226755

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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.

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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.

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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.”

19
This study from 2018 indicates that the West Antarctic Ice sheet wont disintegrate if we can reduce emissions to the RCP 2.6 scenario.

https://www.the-cryosphere-discuss.net/tc-2018-220/tc-2018-220.pdf

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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.

20
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.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0012821X14007961

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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
+2°C
 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.

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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).

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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?

21
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.

https://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Renewable-Energy/A-Wave-Of-Clean-Energy-Policies-Are-Killing-Coal.html

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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.

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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.

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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.

22
Here's an interesting article on how Sander's polling numbers compare to other candidates who had national name recognition from previous elections.

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/bernie-sanders-can-win-but-he-isnt-polling-like-a-favorite/

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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.

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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.

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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.

23
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.

https://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Solar-Energy/Solar-Stocks-Are-Booming-This-Year.html

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

24
Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: April 23, 2019, 09:01:16 PM »
It looks like solar is outcompeting wind in Germany.

https://cleantechnica.com/2019/04/23/solar-dominates-latest-german-renewable-auction/

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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.

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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.

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“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.”

25
The rest / Re: Elections 2020 USA
« on: April 19, 2019, 07:41:55 PM »
Bernie Sanders calls for an end to fossil fuels.

https://cleantechnica.com/2019/04/19/bernie-sanders-calls-for-an-end-to-fossil-fuels/

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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 BernieSanders.com, 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.

26
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.

https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2019-nuclear-power-plants-climate-change/

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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.

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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.

Quote
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.

27
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.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-20/trump-to-finalize-3-7-billion-in-aid-for-troubled-nuclear-plant

Quote
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.

28
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:

https://www.energycentral.com/c/ec/momentum-building-methane-europe%E2%80%99s-climate-blind-spot

Quote
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.

29
...

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"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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:

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-08407-7

Quote
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

Abstract

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.

30
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.

https://pv-magazine-usa.com/2019/03/15/solar-power-increases-land-lease-rate-by-150x-for-washington-state/

Quote
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.

Quote
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.

31
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.

https://cleantechnica.com/2019/03/14/ge-installs-worlds-largest-onshore-wind-turbine-in-the-netherlands-the-5-3-megawatt-cypress/

Quote
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.

Quote
“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.

32
Policy and solutions / Re: Nuclear Power
« on: March 12, 2019, 11:46:22 PM »
More from the World Nuclear Industry Status Report (2018):

https://www.worldnuclearreport.org/World-Nuclear-Industry-Status-Report-2018-HTML.html

Quote
It’s that time of year again when those who value unvarnished data, and analyses of global nuclear energy developments, free of industry spin, look forward to the latest annual World Nuclear Industry Status Report (WNISR). The 2018 edition does not disappoint; it reveals fascinating new information and trends, and confirms that, as the world undergoes a fundamental and far-reaching energy transition, nuclear is being left behind.

I have worked in the energy sector for nearly 40 years and I have never seen as rapid innovation and change as in the last five. The relative prices of electricity generation sources have switched, and solar and wind energy are now, in most countries, the cheapest grid-connected sources of energy. And as storage prices plummet, off-grid power solutions are becoming more cost-competitive. The electricity system is becoming more decentralized, with a multitude of smaller, incremental investments by utilities, industries and households, which are becoming producers as well as consumers of power. Networks and mini-grids are increasingly radial, meshed and fractal, and as energy, transport and communications technologies converge, along with the internet of things, machine learning, demand-side management, and block-chain payment systems, energy services will be democratized and controlled to match optimally individual and community needs.

The nuclear industry seems puzzled by these developments and is mostly in denial. As the competitiveness of solar and wind energy become undeniable – renewable energy auctions are transparent with published long-term contracted prices – the nuclear industry shifts the debate away from the costs of nuclear to issues of system reliability and to its role in the transition to a low-carbon economy. In so doing, they discount the huge construction time and cost overruns in generation III and III+ nuclear reactors and the difficulties of financing nuclear, especially in emerging economies.

Quote
As solar and wind grow exponentially, nuclear energy has remained stagnant. There are fewer nuclear reactors in operation today than there were 30 years ago. Nuclear reactors have increased in size, so they produce more electricity, but still less than in 2001. The share of global electricity production decreased from a peak of 17.5 percent in 1996 to 10.3 percent in 2017. This is hardly a growth industry.

It is instructive to note that the construction of new nuclear power plants is mostly driven and backed by states, and not by the private sector. China accounts for a third of nuclear plants under construction. Nuclear is becoming an option for fewer countries, and only those that are prepared to offer significant government support, including sovereign guarantees. It is regrettable that often this support is facilitated by rent-seeking and corruption.

Quote
◦Five construction starts in the world in 2017, of which a demonstration fast reactor project in China.
◦No start of construction of any commercial reactors in China since December 2016.
◦The number of units under construction globally declined for the fifth year in a row, from 68 reactors at the end of 2013 to 50 by mid-2018, of which 16 are in China.
◦China spent a record US$126 billion on renewables in 2017.

Quote
◦As of mid-2018, 32 reactors—including 26 in Japan—are in Long-Term Outage (LTO).
◦At least 33 of the 50 units under construction are behind schedule, mostly by several years. China is no exception, at least half of 16 units under construction are delayed.
◦Of the 33 delayed construction projects, 15 have reported increased delays over the past year.
◦Only a quarter of the 16 units scheduled for startup in 2017 were actually connected to the grid.
◦New-build plans have been cancelled including in Jordan, Malaysia and the U.S. or postponed such as in Argentina, Indonesia, Kazakhstan.

Decommissioning Status Report
◦As of mid-2018, 115 units are undergoing decommissioning—70 percent of the 173 permanently shut-down reactors in the world.
◦Only 19 units have been fully decommissioned: 13 in the U.S., five in Germany, and one in Japan. Of these, only 10 have been returned to greenfield sites.

Quote
Renewables Accelerate Take-Over
◦Globally, wind power output grew by 17% in 2017, solar by 35%, nuclear by 1%. Non-hydro renewables generate over 3,000 TWh more power than a decade ago, while nuclear produces less.
◦Auctions resulted in record low prices for onshore wind (<US$20/MWh) offshore wind (<US$45/MWh) and solar (<US$25/MWh). This compares with the “strike price” for the Hinkley Point C Project in the U.K. (US$120/MWh).
◦Nine of the 31 nuclear countries—Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain and United Kingdom (U.K.)—generated more electricity in 2017 from non-hydro renewables than from nuclear power.

33
Arctic sea ice / Re: Null School Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies
« on: March 12, 2019, 07:33:03 PM »
I could not find a thread already open specifically for null school output. I have seen this discussed before though but I am wondering can anyone shed some light on why there is always very high SSTs displayed west of Svalbard and also to the SE of Svalbard.

I know the West Spitzbergen Current is a renowned warm,salty current but the temps shown by null school are well out of line. Today for example it shows SSTs of 16 C. There are also SSTs of 13 C to the south east of Svalbard and it is also picking up very warm lake temps from Finland.

Any thoughts why it (Null School) is picking up these high values at these locations. It is very persistent also?
Thanks.

Someone asked this on Reddit:

https://www.reddit.com/r/askscience/comments/7nwovt/why_are_there_two_spots_with_higher_sea_surface/

Here is the answer they got:

Quote
I've sent an email to the Robert Grumbine, he goes over the sea surface temperature data of NOAA, the data in question.


Dear Mr. Grumbine,

Recently, I have come across a curiosity while exploring a visualisation tool for, among others, Sea Surface Temperatures. The tool, accessible online via the link https://earth.nullschool.net/, showed two spots near Svalbard where the SST was considerably higher than its surroundings, at 78°N 7°E and at 76°N 30°E. This visualisation tool cites NOAA as its source for Real Time Global Sea Surface Temperature, and linked to the website http://polar.ncep.noaa.gov/. These warmer spots are also visible on the website’s own charts: http://polar.ncep.noaa.gov/sst/ophi/archive/20180103/color_newdisp_sst_north_pole_stereo_ophi0.png These spots also seem to be present every winter.

Out of personal curiosity, I would like to know if there is an explanation for this phenomenon. Without much expertise in this field, it seems unlikely to me that these spots exist because of ocean currents. Volcanic activity also seems to fall short as an explanation for the roughly 10°C warmer water.

So I would like to ask you if it would be possible that some kind of error has occurred in the data, either during measurement takings or during data analysis, that would explain these warmer spots?

This inquiry is not for academic purposes, merely out of personal interests, but I would appreciate it if you could help me.

Thank you in advance. Yours sincerely,

His response:


Hello Mr. Reusens,

Those two areas always challenging. Both areas tend to be cloudy, so the satellites we use can't see the ocean surface. Only a microwave instrument can do so. And neither is close to much shipping, so we get no observations that way either. We're left with drifting buoys and the occasional clear day for our data. That means we're also occasionally rejecting good data because it disagrees by too much with our last good observation.

But these two spots have some pecularities that make those warm temperatures not as exceptional as you might think. In particular, the 78 N, 7 E. There are two currents between Greenland and Svalbard. One carries near-freezing water out of the Arctic down the east coast of Greenland. The other brings some of the warm North Atlantic current water from Norway in to the Arctic west and east of Svalbard. Warm being relative, of course; 6-8 is still pretty cold for swimming.

In looking at the anomaly (deviation) from climatology (which is 1961-1990), these are showing > +8 C. But you'll notice that there are other substantial areas of such extremely warmer than usual water. This is happening a lot in areas where there is historically a sharp temperature gradient (see also the Gulf Stream) in temperatures, and the transition zone has moved northward (in the Atlantic or Arctic). http://polar.ncep.noaa.gov/sst/ophi/archive/20180103/color_newdisp_anomaly_north_pole_stereo_ophi0.png

The many tight contours do look suspicious, so I'll be investigating the locations specifically for what observations we have to support them being this warm and do an update if needed.

Regards, Robert Grumbine

34
Policy and solutions / Re: Nuclear Power
« on: March 09, 2019, 12:37:29 AM »
Here are some interesting statistics about nuclear power from the 2018 World Nuclear Performance Report published in August 2018 by the World Nuclear Association.  Link to the full report here:

https://www.world-nuclear.org/getmedia/b392d1cd-f7d2-4d54-9355-9a65f71a3419/performance-report.pdf.aspx

Quote
At the end of 2017 the global nuclear capacity of the 448 operable reactors
stood at 392 GWe, up 2 GWe on the end of 2016 total. Four new reactors were
connected to the grid, with a combined capacity of 3373 MWe. Five reactors
were shut down, with a combined capacity of 3025 MWe.

Quote
The capacity factor for the global fleet stood at 81%, maintaining the high
availability of around 80% that has been maintained since 2000, up from the
60% average capacity factor at the start of the 1980s.
 

(Note that according to the US EIA, nuclear capacity factors in the US over the past few years have varied between 89% to 93%).

With a net addition to capacity of 348 MW (3373 - 3025) and an average operating capacity of 80%, that's 278 MW.  According to Wikipedia, in 2017 95 GW of Solar PV capacity was installed and the average worldwide capacity of solar is 11% (according to EIA averages from 208 to 2012.  The US capacity factor has grown from 15% in that time period to 25% now, so the worldwide average may be in the 20 to 25% range now)).  That's 10.45 GW of generation (assuming the probably low capacity factor of 11%), or 37.5 times the amount of new nuclear generation added to the grid.

Quote
The number of reactors under construction at the end of 2017 was 59. The
median average construction time for the four reactors grid connected last
year was 58 months. In addition to the four grid connections, there were four
construction starts and two construction projects halted.

Four is a small sample size, but 5 years to go from start of construction to grid connection is pretty fast for nuclear.  The projects underway in the US and Europe are taking much longer, often because quality inspectors reject key components.  Hopefully the other countries aren't cutting corners on quality.

Quote
With construction on more than 25 reactors scheduled to be completed in
2018 and 2019 strong progress is being made. New reactor projects are
needed to maintain and accelerate global nuclear build so that nuclear
generation can meet the Harmony goal of supplying 25% of the world’s
global electricity by 2050.

Given that nuclear is about 9% of current global electricity production and that most of the current fleet of reactors is between 30 and 60 years old, this would seem to be a very unlikely goal.  Nuclear is more expensive than coal and natural gas, while renewables are even cheaper than those sources.  I would expect to see more nuclear projects that are currently being proposed (and even some under construction) be cancelled than new projects being announced.

35
Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: March 05, 2019, 07:21:38 PM »
I think Lurk and I actually have the same goals and would like to ultimately see all of the world's energy come from carbon free sources, and the sooner the better.  It seems he objects to my pollyana-ish language, so I'll try a different tone. :P

Yet another corporation is refusing to wait for the global systemic change requiring them to use carbon free energy sources and has instead installed a massive solar power plant.

https://bigthink.com/technology-innovation/disney-builds-massive-solar-facility-to-cut-emissions-in-half-by-2020

Quote
You know who's one of the world's leaders in tackling greenhouse gas emissions? You might be surprised to know that the venerable corporation that brought us Mickey Mouse is staying ahead of the pack by following through on its pledge to cut emissions by 50 percent. Disney's goal is to reach half the emissions it had in 2012 by the year 2020.

One big way the entertainment juggernaut is making its commitment a reality is by opening an enormous new 270-acre, 50-megawatt solar facility in Florida. It went online in 2019 to provide clean renewable energy to the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. As stated on Disney's blog, the facility will generate so much power, Disney will be able to use it to operate two of its four theme parks in Central Florida.

The new solar farm, consisting of more than half a million panels, will majorly reduce net greenhouse gas emissions, lowering them by more than 57,000 tons per year.

The article is silent on the economics on the deal and instead quotes a corporate spokesperson blathering about "being a responsible citizen of the world".

36
Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: March 04, 2019, 08:51:46 PM »
The first large-scale solar farm in North Dakota is starting construction.

https://bismarcktribune.com/news/state-and-regional/north-dakota-s-first-commercial-solar-energy-project-gets-ok/article_30b14097-1f6e-51ac-bd62-77d852997bca.html

Quote
FARGO — North Dakota’s first commercial solar energy complex will start construction this spring in rural Cass County’s Harmony Township and go into operation in 2020.

The $250 million project will sprawl over 1,600 acres and have a capacity of up to 200 megawatts — generating enough electricity to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 240,000 metric tons, or the equivalent of taking 50,000 cars off the road every year.

37
Policy and solutions / Re: Cars, cars and more cars. And trucks, and....
« on: February 28, 2019, 07:31:34 PM »
Here's a good article that discusses among other things, the cost trends in drivetrains and explains why Tesla has gone after the luxury market first.

https://cleantechnica.com/2019/02/25/the-osborne-effect-on-the-auto-industry/

It starts with a discussion of how projected improvements in battery technology are going to impact consumer demand ("The Osborne Effect").

Quote
The next generation of fully electric vehicles with larger batteries is a far superior generation of products than any vehicle burning fossil fuels in an internal combustion engine (FFV). This opinion is considered a fact by many who know both types of vehicles, and to them, there is “no discussion about it.”

“Luckily,” not many customers are currently aware of this. Otherwise, the industry would be in big trouble already.

The article then goes into a discussion of the differences between a technology curve and a learning curve.

Quote
Many analysts think of battery price improvements as a learning curve combined with economies of scale. This is a fundamental error. When the Tesla Gigafactory has reached its economies of scale and the production processes are optimized at the end of the learning curve, the battery price will not stabilize. It will keep declining according to its technology curve.

It follows this up with a discussion of "S-curves" for adoption of new technologies and how current forecasts of EV adoption fail to incorporate S-curves.

Quote
Bloomberg expects 1,000% (a tenfold) growth between now and 2025, reaching 11% market share for BEVs in the total private vehicle (PV) market by then. It then anticipates another 170% growth from 2025 to about 30% in 2030. That is followed by only 80% growth from 2030 to reach a 55% market share in 2040. Why Bloomberg expects the growth curve to flatten when the products get better and cheaper instead of following the normal S-curve is not discussed.

Bloomberg is by far the most optimistic of the large forecasters. Whether they are oil industry associations, car industry groups, large consulting firms, banks, or financial institutions, they all predict a flattening growth curve or stagnation after 2025–2030. No one offers any explanation why this would happen besides a non-informative “our research shows.”

The article then follows up with a graph and explanation of how electric drivetrain costs compare with different classes of cars.



Quote
Looking at this graph, it is clear that in 2010 Nissan could not compete in the C-segment with its Leaf, but in 2012, Tesla was able to compete in the F-segment with its Model S.

Regarding today, it explains why Tesla can tackle the D-segment with the Model 3, and why GM was just too early and too expensive to have a chance in the C-segment with its Bolt, available a year earlier.

The main forces that push the curves on this graph are battery prices and regulations.

The article then discusses each of the segments with a paragraph or two.  Here's the "C-Segment" analysis.

Quote
The C-segment is starting to become crowded and has many enticing BEVs, especially if you count overlapping with the B-segment. The Renault Zoe and BMW i3 are B-segment on the outside and C-segment on the inside, thanks to the new design opportunities electric drivetrains offer. With the Leaf, e-Golf, four Koreans (Kona EV, Niro EV, Ioniq EV, Soul EV), PSA trio (208, Corsa, 2008), i3, Bolt, and Zoe, we have nearly a dozen in this segment. Most are not available in all markets around the world, but it is a big change from last year.

These models are still too expensive to take over the C-segment from the current FFV rulers — VW Golf, Toyota Corolla, and Honda Civic. However, electric driving advantages, lower operating costs, and governmental incentives enable a serious challenge to these rulers. With the competition among the BEVs and higher production volumes, prices will start to merge towards the prices of their tailpipe-equipped competition. 2021 is expected to be a big crossover year in this regard.

It's taken a long time to get to the main point of the article, but here it is:



Quote
A rule of thumb for S-curve disruptions of the market is that it will take about as long to reach 1% as it will take to go from 1% to the top of the curve. That first part is often not shown, but for those following the market for years, and realizing that we crossed the 1% threshold in 2018, it is included. If anybody is not scared of this graph, read on to enter a nightmare scenario.

The demand for fossil fuel cars is the red line, the wildfire of public perception. The blue line is the carmakers’ reaction to the demand. It is way too optimistic — carmakers can’t scale this fast — but the function I use for S-curves draws it like this. Also, Elon Musk and Cathie Wood (CEO of ARK Invest) mentioned even more optimistic numbers for 2023 in a recent podcast.

Our own Jose Pontes reports regularly about different markets having record growth. Maximilian Holland has also been reporting on FFV sales declines, long waitlists for BEVs, and a problematic lack of choice of good electric vehicles.

Probably at this moment your reaction is: “Ahh well, the carmakers have to do a bit more. Is that your nightmare? Some missed sales and revenue, less profit for the shareholders?”

No, that is not the nightmare. The yellow line is.

That is the size of the car market. The drop is as severe as in 2008, when GM and Chrysler went under and others were saved by bailouts, soft credit, and cash-for-clunkers programs. This time, stimulating demand or providing incentives for buying a car won’t help. It is not a scared public not wanting to spent the money. It is carmakers not having the product for which there is demand.


So the good news is a crash in the demand for ICE powered vehicles.  The bad news is a world-wide recession if car makers cant make the switch to EVs in time.

38
Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: February 28, 2019, 06:39:24 PM »
As the saying goes, "follow the money":

https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Wall-Street-Loses-Faith-In-Shale.html

Quote
To Wall Street, the shale industry has lost a lot of its allure. A decade’s worth of promises have failed to materialize, and Big Finance is cutting some of its ties with smaller shale drillers who have not delivered.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the shale industry only saw $22 billion in new bond and equity deals, down by more than half from 2016 levels, which was a much worse time for the market.

The steep decline in new debt and equity issuance is a sign that major investors are no longer rushing to finance unprofitable shale drilling. It’s worth noting that this is a new development. For years Wall Street financed unprofitable drilling, holding out on the promise that rapid production growth would eventually pay off.

Shale wells suffer from precipitous decline rates, with as much as three quarters of a well’s total lifetime production coming out in the first year or two. After an initial burst of output, shale wells enter a steep decline.

Of course, this has been known since the beginning and Wall Street has long been fully aware. But major investors hoped that shale companies would scale up, achieve efficiencies and lower breakeven prices to the point that they could turn a profit.

However, that has not been the case. While there are some drillers that are profitable, taken as a whole the industry has been cash flow negative essentially since its beginning in the mid-2000s. For instance, the IEA estimates that the shale industry posted cumulative negative free cash flow of over $200 billion between 2010 and 2014.

Quote
To top it off, all of these pesky investors are much more demanding than they used to be, calling on companies to stop spending so much and instead return cash to shareholders. That leaves less capital available to inject back into the ground. Earlier this month Barclays issued a double-downgrade to Occidental Petroleum, lowering it from Overweight to Underweight, citing the company’s deficit after dividends at a time when the driller still expected to aim for an aggressive production target.

So where is the money going?

https://moneymorning.com/2018/10/10/chart-the-biggest-investors-in-renewable-energy-will-shock-you/

Quote
If You Can't Beat Them, Buy Them

Big Oil firms are no longer content competing against renewable energy, they're now getting into the clean energy business themselves.

And when some of the biggest companies on the planet decide to start spending money, we're more than happy to get in on the action.

Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM), for example, has more than $3 billion of cash on hand they can deploy on renewable energy. In fact, that's exactly what Big Oil firms have just started doing.

As of last year, the oil majors spent a total of $6.2 billion on renewable energy firms, and they bought twice as many clean energy companies in 2016 as they did in 2015, the most recent years available.

Relying on oil alone simply won't be enough for the oil supermajors to sustain their profits.

Take a look at some of the most recent blockbuster Big Oil deals in renewable energy…

Earlier this year, Royal Dutch Shell Plc. (NYSE: RDS.A) spent $217 million to buy a 44% stake in Silicon Ranch Corp., a major U.S. solar developer. Shell is committing $1 billion a year to clean energy investments.

BP Plc. (NYSE: BP) spent $200 million for a 43% stake in Lightsource in 2017. Lightsource BP is Europe's largest solar development company.

Thanks to its 60% stake in SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR), French super major Total SA (NYSE: TOT) now dominates the French solar power market. And to make its foothold even larger, Total paid $1.1 billion for Saft, an energy storage company, an essential service supporting renewable energy.

Even Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX), one of the last oil supermajors to embrace renewables is investing $100 million into a "Future Energy Fund" designed to help develop new clean energy technology.

And this is just the beginning of the trend.

39
Permafrost / Re: Arctic Methane Release
« on: February 26, 2019, 10:02:53 PM »
And when the cost of building new renewables plus battery storage is cheaper than operating fossil fuel plants, you'll see those plants close.  We hit that point the USA last year too.

https://thinkprogress.org/colorado-wind-batteries-cheap-12e82b91a543/

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This is how coal dies — super cheap renewables plus battery storage

New Colorado wind farms with batteries are now cheaper than running old coal plants

Joe Romm Jan 10, 2018, 12:35 pm

Solar, wind, and battery prices are dropping so fast that, in Colorado, building new renewable power plus battery storage is now cheaper than running old coal plants. This increasingly renders existing coal plants obsolete.

Two weeks ago, Xcel Energy quietly reported dozens of shockingly low bids it had received for building new solar and wind farms, many with battery storage (see table below).

The median bid price in 2017 for wind plus battery storage was $21 per megawatt-hour, which is 2.1 cents per kilowatt-hour. As Carbon Tracker noted, this “appears to be lower than the operating cost of all coal plants currently in Colorado.”

And the trend for coal worldwide is not looking good:

https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/renewables-may-prove-cheaper-than-96-of-coal-plants-2030#gs.u6ErXI9T

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A new global analysis of 6,685 coal plants finds that it is now cheaper to build new renewable generation than to run 35 percent of coal plants worldwide. By 2030, that percentage increases dramatically, with renewables beating out 96 percent of today’s existing and planned coal-fired generation.

The 4 percent exception is in markets with extremely low fuel costs, where coal is cheap and plentiful, or with uncertain policies for renewables, like Russia.

The EIA is notorious for underestimating the growth of renewable energy.  The EIA reports are not reliable for estimates of future energy generation.

40
Permafrost / Re: Arctic Methane Release
« on: February 26, 2019, 05:55:11 PM »
A good explanation of the recent rise in methane concentrations (which are still below the annual increases that happened in the 1980s to early 1990s) is increased fossil fuel emissions.  The huge increase in fracking oil and natural gas in the US is a probable source.  Also, the growth in agricultural emissions has continued unabated.

See the two studies cross-posted from AbruptSLR in the Antarctica forums:

The first linked 2017 reference used satellite data to reconcile different estimates of methane emissions by correcting for estimates of methane emissions from biomass burning from 2001 to 2014.  This implies that the recent increases in both biomass burning and in fossil fuel use are contributing to the current high rate of increase of atmospheric methane concentrations (see the attached image for Mauna Loa Atmospheric Methane concentration from 2005 to Feb 26, 2019).  That said I also suspect that increases in agricultural methane emissions and natural emissions from wetlands are also contributing:

Worden et al. (2017), "Reduced biomass burning emissions reconcile conflicting estimates of the post-2006 atmospheric methane budget", Nature Communications 8, 2227, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-017-02246-0

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-017-02246-0

Abstract: "Several viable but conflicting explanations have been proposed to explain the recent ~8p.p.b.per year increase in atmospheric methane after 2006, equivalent to net emissions increase of ~25Tg CH4 per year. A concurrent increase in atmospheric ethane implicates a fossil source a concurrent decrease in the heavy isotope content of methane points toward a biogenic source, while other studies propose a decrease in the chemical sink (OH). Here we show that biomass burning emissions of methane decreased by 3.7 (±1.4) Tg CH4 per year from the 2001–2007 to the 2008–2014 time periods using satellite measurements of CO and CH4 nearly twice the decrease expected from prior estimates. After updating both the total and isotopic budgets for atmospheric methane with these revised biomass burning emissions (and assuming no change to the chemical sink), we find that fossil fuels contribute between 12–19 Tg CH4 per year to the recent atmospheric methane increase, thus reconciling the isotopic- and ethane-based results.

See also:

Title: "NASA-led Study Solves a Methane Puzzle"

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/nasa-led-study-solves-a-methane-puzzle

& see:

Adam Yeeles (2019), "Coal methane unabated", Nature Climate Change 9, 186, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-019-0432-x

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-019-0432-x

See also:

Julie Wolf et al, Revised methane emissions factors and spatially distributed annual carbon fluxes for global livestock, Carbon Balance and Management (2017). DOI: 10.1186/s13021-017-0084-y

https://cbmjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13021-017-0084-y

Abstract

Background

Livestock play an important role in carbon cycling through consumption of biomass and emissions of methane. Recent research suggests that existing bottom-up inventories of livestock methane emissions in the US, such as those made using 2006 IPCC Tier 1 livestock emissions factors, are too low. This may be due to outdated information used to develop these emissions factors. In this study, we update information for cattle and swine by region, based on reported recent changes in animal body mass, feed quality and quantity, milk productivity, and management of animals and manure. We then use this updated information to calculate new livestock methane emissions factors for enteric fermentation in cattle, and for manure management in cattle and swine.

Results
Using the new emissions factors, we estimate global livestock emissions of 119.1 ± 18.2 Tg methane in 2011; this quantity is 11% greater than that obtained using the IPCC 2006 emissions factors, encompassing an 8.4% increase in enteric fermentation methane, a 36.7% increase in manure management methane, and notable variability among regions and sources. For example, revised manure management methane emissions for 2011 in the US increased by 71.8%. For years through 2013, we present (a) annual livestock methane emissions, (b) complete annual livestock carbon budgets, including carbon dioxide emissions, and (c) spatial distributions of livestock methane and other carbon fluxes, downscaled to 0.05 × 0.05 degree resolution.

Conclusions
Our revised bottom-up estimates of global livestock methane emissions are comparable to recently reported top-down global estimates for recent years, and account for a significant part of the increase in annual methane emissions since 2007. Our results suggest that livestock methane emissions, while not the dominant overall source of global methane emissions, may be a major contributor to the observed annual emissions increases over the 2000s to 2010s. Differences at regional and local scales may help distinguish livestock methane emissions from those of other sectors in future top-down studies. The revised estimates allow improved reconciliation of top-down and bottom-up estimates of methane emissions, will facilitate the development and evaluation of Earth system models, and provide consistent regional and global Tier 1 estimates for environmental assessments.

41
Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: February 25, 2019, 09:44:39 PM »
A new 1.5 GW solar power plant with battery storage is under construction:

https://cleantechnica.com/2019/02/25/queensland-breaks-ground-on-1-5-gigawatt-solar-farm-with-500-mwh-battery-storage/

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The 5100-acre solar farm will be built in three 500 MW sections and connect to the 275 kV high voltage national distribution network in Queensland. There will be two substations and the proposed 500 MWh of battery storage will be added after the solar farm is completed. Total cost of the project is given as $3.5 billion.

The Sunshine Energy website claims the installation will produce about 2,600 GWh of electricity each year. The proximity to the Queensland high voltage utility grid was a key factor in deciding where to place the new solar farm, which will be capable of powering 300,000 homes in Queensland. Up to 1,000 construction jobs will be created and 30 to 60 full time positions will be needed to maintain and operate the facility once completed.

There are two larger ones (as noted upthread) in the planning phase:

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The Sunshine Energy project will be the largest in Australia — for now. There are other larger projects waiting in the wings for regulatory approval — a 4 GW renewable energy hub in New South Wales and the 11 GW Asian Renewable Energy Hub that will export power to Southeast Asia via undersea transmission lines.


42
Arctic sea ice / Re: The 2018/2019 freezing season
« on: February 13, 2019, 08:09:23 PM »
The Nenana Ice Classic reported some extraordinary low figures for the ice thickness on the Tanana river. Somehow they are showing no increase since January reading (Only 16 inches)

Surely there is some mistake with this.

Rick Thoman seems to think so. He has tweeted that the NWS also take readings on the Tanana and their thickness figure recently was more like 28 inches.

It may not be an error.  Temperatures have been way above normal in Alaska this winter:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2019/02/13/strange-days-winter-temperatures-have-been-way-above-normal-northernmost-part-united-states/?utm_term=.021e09db9bdb

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Part of an alarming trend in recent years, temperatures have been scarily above normal this month at the northernmost point of the United States.

Through the first 12 days of February, Utqiaġvik (previously known as Barrow) is running 21 degrees warmer than normal. On Friday, readings soared as high as 30 to 50 degrees above normal for the date across Alaska’s North Slope, a region north of the Arctic Circle.

The combination of warmer-than-normal conditions and significant storminess was enough to create open water in parts of the region. This kind of weather is an extreme rarity in the middle of winter.

Temperatures even ticked above freezing in Utqiaġvik, which is something that has only happened in winter a handful of times since the early 1900s. The 33-degree high on Feb. 8 is one of the top 10 warmest readings so early in the year, and the third-warmest for this point in February.

Edit: Since this is a US news source, I assume the temperatures are being reported in Farenheit, not Celsius.

43
Permafrost / Re: Arctic Methane Release
« on: February 07, 2019, 01:57:31 AM »
Here's a 2018 study on microorganisms that oxidize methane in subsea permafrost:

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-19505-9

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Thawing submarine permafrost is a source of methane to the subsurface biosphere. Methane oxidation in submarine permafrost sediments has been proposed, but the responsible microorganisms remain uncharacterized. We analyzed archaeal communities and identified distinct anaerobic methanotrophic assemblages of marine and terrestrial origin (ANME-2a/b, ANME-2d) both in frozen and completely thawed submarine permafrost sediments. Besides archaea potentially involved in anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM) we found a large diversity of archaea mainly belonging to Bathyarchaeota, Thaumarchaeota, and Euryarchaeota. Methane concentrations and δ13C-methane signatures distinguish horizons of potential AOM coupled either to sulfate reduction in a sulfate-methane transition zone (SMTZ) or to the reduction of other electron acceptors, such as iron, manganese or nitrate. Analysis of functional marker genes (mcrA) and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) corroborate potential activity of AOM communities in submarine permafrost sediments at low temperatures. Modeled potential AOM consumes 72–100% of submarine permafrost methane and up to 1.2 Tg of carbon per year for the total expected area of submarine permafrost. This is comparable with AOM habitats such as cold seeps. We thus propose that AOM is active where submarine permafrost thaws, which should be included in global methane budgets.

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Taken together our molecular and biogeochemical data from two submarine permafrost cores indicate several microbial assemblages that have the potential to prevent the release of trapped or recently produced methane into the overlying unfrozen sediment following submarine permafrost thaw. Therefore, we challenge the assumption that high methane emissions reported for the Siberian Arctic Shelves originate from degrading submarine permafrost itself9 and suggest different mechanisms to be responsible, such as diffusion or ebullition through discontinuities in permafrost or the release from gas hydrates8,68 at a limited spatial scale.

44
Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: February 06, 2019, 11:56:31 PM »
The Florida Public Services Commission ruled that solar leases don't constitute the sale of electricity:

https://cleantechnica.com/2019/02/05/florida-public-service-commission-opens-the-floodgates-for-solar-leases/

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The approval gives Tesla and other solar providers in the state the green light to move forward with solar leasing in the state. Solar is the easiest to get onto rooftops when it does not come at an incremental cost to homeowners and instead, replaces the existing electricity bill with a solar leasing bill that is typically lower than what customers were paying for electricity.

The ruling clarified that the Florida Public Service Commission views Tesla’s solar leases as leasing of equipment and not the sale of electricity, which allows Tesla to continue leasing solar equipment in the state. Click Orlando quoted Florida PSC Chairman Art Graham as saying, “while today’s declaration is limited to the facts in Tesla’s petition, companies operating under the same facts can rely upon this declaration as well.”

45
Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: February 06, 2019, 11:46:15 PM »
Off-grid solar is growing in Africa:

https://www.ozy.com/fast-forward/africa-embraces-an-8-billion-solar-market-for-going-off-grid/92303

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Nairobi-based M-KOPA started the revolution. Launched commercially in 2012, M-KOPA allows low-income families access to solar energy for as little as $1 per month. This is cheaper and more environmental than the alternatives, kerosene or diesel fuel, and offers a metered payment system tracked through their phone SIM cards. The first firm in the world to develop that innovation, M-KOPA now has 600,000 customers across Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, and is bringing solar power to 500 new homes every day. It has received $162 million in investments since 2014. But the firm is no longer alone.

Uganda-based Fenix, which launched in Africa soon after M-KOPA, has now reached more than 1 million homes. While Uganda remains its biggest market, it is now expanding to other nations. In 2018, Fenix — which has raised $16 million in investments — entered Zambia, and within nine months had converted 30,000 families to solar energy users. Tanzania-based ZOLA Energy — better known by its earlier name, Off Grid Electric — is now expanding into West Africa, starting with Ivory Coast. It has already reached 50,000 homes in Tanzania.

46
Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: February 06, 2019, 07:30:28 PM »
This peer reviewed study from two researchers in Australia shows that most of the arguements saying we can't go to 100%   renewable sources for our energy are based on myths:

http://pubclimate.ch.mm.st/TheFeasibilityOf100pcRenewableElectricitySystems--AResponseToCritics--Diesendorf--Elliston2018.pdf

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The rapid growth of renewable energy (RE) is disrupting and transforming the global energy system, especially
the electricity industry. As a result, supporters of the politically powerful incumbent industries and others are
critiquing the feasibility of large-scale electricity generating systems based predominantly on RE. Part of this
opposition is manifest in the publication of incorrect myths about renewable electricity (RElec) in scholarly
journals, popular articles, media, websites, blogs and statements by politicians. The aim of the present article is
to use current scientific and engineering theory and practice to refute the principal myths. It does this by
showing that large-scale electricity systems that are 100% renewable (100RElec), including those whose renewable sources are predominantly variable (e.g. wind and solar PV), can be readily designed to meet the key
requirements of reliability, security and affordability. It also argues that transition to 100RElec could occur much
more rapidly than suggested by historical energy transitions. It finds that the main critiques published in
scholarly articles and books contain factual errors, questionable assumptions, important omissions, internal
inconsistencies, exaggerations of limitations and irrelevant arguments. Some widely publicised critiques select
criteria that are inappropriate and/or irrelevant to the assessment of energy technologies, ignore studies whose
results contradict arguments in the critiques, and fail to assess the sum total of knowledge provided collectively
by the published studies on 100RElec, but instead demand that each individual study address all the critiques’
inappropriate criteria. We find that the principal barriers to 100RElec are neither technological nor economic,
but instead are primarily political, institutional and cultural.

47
Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: January 30, 2019, 05:47:14 PM »
New renewable energy projects are replacing fossil fuel plants as they age out:

Here's an article about the EU:

https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/news/renewable-energies-chip-away-at-coal-power-stats-show/

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New wind, solar and biomass power generation displaced hard coal last year – especially in Germany, France and the UK – according to a 2018 review of European electricity statistics by two leading energy policy think tanks.

Renewable energies continued to pick up last year to reach 32.3% of total power generation in the EU, up two percentage points from the previous year, according to the report, published today (30 January).

Total coal power generation fell by 6% across the EU in 2018 and is now 30% below 2012 levels, the analysis found, confirming the rapid decline of coal in electricity generation across most European countries.

“This was caused by renewables growth in Germany and the UK and by the return of hydro in Italy and Spain,” said the report by Agora Energiewende and Sandbag, two leading energy think tanks.

China:

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/politics/article/2183960/china-powers-renewable-energy-some-wind-farms-still-struggle

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China’s renewable power capacity rose 12 per cent in 2018 compared to a year earlier, official data showed on Monday, with the country still rolling out new projects despite transmission capacity concerns and a growing subsidy payment backlog.

China has been aggressively promoting renewable power as part of an “energy revolution” aimed at easing its dependence on coal, a major source of pollution and climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

Total capacity – including hydro and biomass as well as solar and wind – rose to 728 gigawatts (GW) by the end of last year, the National Energy Administration (NEA) said.

That amounted to 38.3 per cent of China’s total installed power capacity, up 1.7 percentage points on the year and around 7 percentage points higher than at the end of 2015.

The USA:

https://cleantechnica.com/2019/01/05/2018-was-a-fulcrum-year-for-renewable-energy-in-the-us/

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Xcel Energy, based in Minnesota, has 3.6 million customers in 9 states. It began the transition by announcing a plan to transition to 100% zero emissions energy by 2050 — the first utility company in the US to make that a corporate goal. Economics has a lot to do with that decision. Wind power in the Midwest is abundant and inexpensive but solar farms are also springing up across America’s heartland.

But there is something other than the bottom line at work here. Ben Fowke, Ecel’s CEO, said at a news conference back in December, “We knew we could step up and do more, at little or no extra cost.” His remarks were spurred in part by the latest IPCC 6 climate report and the recent climate assessment published by the US government in November.

Consumers Energy, with 1.8 million customers in Michigan, announced a plan in June to transition to more solar power over the next 20 years. Until now, it has relied on coal-fired generating stations for most of its electricity. “Our vision considers people, the planet and the prosperity of our state and the communities we serve,” Patti Poppe, its CEO said at the time of the announcement.

Northern Indiana Public Service Company said last year it plans to close all of its coal-fired facilities within 10 years. It currently gets 65% of its power from burning coal. It says building new renewable energy resources simply costs less than keeping those coal fired plants open any longer.

Utility companies used to base their future plans on an expectation of rising energy demand. They could justify building new fossil fuel plants because the cost would be offset by selling more electricity. That is no longer the case as the demand for electricity has remained flat for several years. Not only is coal no longer competitive economically but natural gas has a history of fluctuating significantly in price.

https://cleantechnica.com/2019/01/24/quiet-clean-energy-revolution-scored-strong-growth-in-usa-last-year/

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1. Record corporate renewable energy purchasing

U.S. corporations have spurred a global movement towards purchasing renewable energy over the last decade, and 2018 was a banner year. Companies in the United States purchased a record 6.43 gigawatts (GW) of renewable power, enough to power more than 1.5 million American homes each year and  more than double the previous record of 3.22 GW in 2015. The number of corporations entering in to renewable energy deals for the first time doubled. There were also a record number of deals through utility-offered, large-scale renewable energy purchasing programs, called “green tariffs.”

A growing number of large buyers are also publicly committing to source 100 percent of their electricity from renewables. Today, there are 53 Fortune 500 companies with 100 percent renewable energy goals; there were 23 companies with the same target in January 2017.

2. U.S. cities make ambitious commitments to renewables

In the absence of a federal renewable energy push, local governments are taking matters into their own hands. More than 300 U.S. cities, towns or counties have made commitments to climate action.1 As of November 2018, 99 U.S. cities have committed to 100 percent renewable energy, up from just 50 cities a year ago.

Of these, six U.S. cities (Aspen, CO; Burlington, VT; Georgetown, TX; Greensburg, KS; Kodiak Island, AK; and Rockport, MO) have already met their 100 percent renewable energy goals through a variety of approaches, including on-site installations, off-site purchases and Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs).

Since many cities are just starting to set these commitments, they are at the beginning stage of the learning curve. In 2019, it will be important to watch how cities can push utilities to provide more clean energy.

There are also large renewable projects underway in India, Brazil and many other countries.  It's not difficult to envision that by 2050 most of the energy production in the world will be from renewables.

48
Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: January 29, 2019, 06:22:15 PM »
The EIA underestimates of the growth of renewables are on the order of over 300% for generation and 4000% for capacity.  So if the EIA is projecting that the US will be getting 30% of it's electricity from renewables in 2050, it's going to be closer to 90 to 100%.

That includes all electricity generation to meet all demand, whether it's from EVs or cell phones or TVs or electric heaters.

Source on EIA underestimates:

https://qz.com/1103874/the-us-government-underestimated-solar-energy-installation-in-the-us-by-4813-along-with-renewable-wind-and-solar-generation/

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The agency’s “projections bear little resemblance to market realities” because they ignore publicly available evidence, argues the clean-energy non-profit Advanced Energy Economy. It cites the EIA’s 2015 expectation for solar capacity to double by 2026, despite a pipeline of projects that would—and ultimately did—exceed that benchmark by early 2017. Similarly, the EIA expected the installment of 6.5 GW of new wind capacity between 2017 and 2030—even though new US wind installations averaged 6.5 GW per year between 2007 and 2014. “They’re not just conservative about change,” Advanced Energy Economy vice-president Robert Keough told Politico. “ They’re ignoring the evidence of what’s actually happening in the market.”

49
Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: December 20, 2018, 12:13:47 AM »
The EIA has been notorious for underestimating the growth of renewable energy, the reductions in the cost of renewable energy and for overestimating the growth of fossil fuels.  Here's a link to one article summarizing their errors:

https://www.energyandpolicy.org/eia-forecasts-are-frequently-wrong/

Given that both new wind and new solar power plants are currently cheaper than continuing to operate existing coal plants, there is no way that coal will maintain the market share it currently has until 2040.  In the US alone, about 20% of existing plants are expected to be retired in the next five years.

And a lot of natural gas is currently being produced by fracking.  Fracked wells deplete quickly and producers have to continuously drill and frack new wells to maintain production levels.  In the face of rapidly declining prices for new solar and wind plants, plus the rapid development of battery technology, natural gas production will be on the decline by the 2020s. 

Oil production will decline when the transportation sector switches to electric vehicles.  We're still in the early stages of the transition and vehicles will be on the road (and in the air and on the seas) for decades after new electric vehicles become the dominant form of transportation.  Solid-state batteries are still in the experimental stage; they're expected to be commercialized in the 2020s.  When that happens, EVs will outsell ICEs  So, we'll probably see peak oil demand in the 2020s as well.

50
Permafrost / Re: Arctic Methane Release
« on: December 01, 2018, 01:20:38 AM »
Some here are very convinced the methane threat isn’t real. I’m out

I believe upthread someone said something along the lines of 'What could change ( in the science) in 2 years?' Yet in 2014 we got the first reports/images of a yamal 'blowout' and 2 years later we have reports of over 1,000 newly heaved up 'pingo like structures' then the 'on the ground' ,eyes on the prize, info would suggest that a lot can change in 2 years?

I never got my question answered either so I guess the guys who were busy telling us it could never happen ,even as the 'Pingo like structures' were heaving out of the permafrost, have no opinion on the events of the real world just what their models are telling them?

I believe the info since the 'Boiling Oceans' reports from the ESS in 2010 point to the start of a release episode and , should Semiletov's timings be correct for the length of time it takes from formation to blowout crater, Yamal goes POP this coming summer?

EDIT: I suppose the Anchorage quake is a timely reminder that 'natural' events will also continue on and degraded permafrost caps for clathrate deposits on continental shelf areas could find themselves destabilised at any time?

Gray-Wolf,

I did respond, and you even paraphrased my comment about not much changing in two years (between Real Climate's response about methane craters discovered in 2014 and the new Yamal craters appearing in 2016). 

Submarine methane craters have been known about for decades.  Here's a paper from 1992 discussing them:

https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php?action=post;quote=182696;topic=12.750

What's new is that scientists have found craters in the permafrost on land (starting in 2014) and that a methane explosion that was near enough to humans was witnessed in 2016 or 2017.  However, the existence of vast amounts of methane in permafrost has been know about for decades and the possibility of it warming enough to release that methane has been acknowledge.  One of the reasons for the goal of keeping global warming to less than 2 degrees C as agreed upon in international treaties is to avoid some of the impacts, like massive releases of methane from the permafrost.

I think the important part of to think about these craters is how much methane they can release into the atmosphere and how much that would increase the global warming.  The short answer is it would take about 20 million of these explosions occurring within about a decade (after which time the methane is converted to CO2 and other gases) to release enough methane to raise the global temperature by about 2 degrees C.  If the methane continues to leak out a current rates, or even at 10 times current rates, it wont really impact warming much.   Based on field observations, methane emissions from the ESAS are less than 2.9 Tg per year.  Global methane emissions are around 550 Tg per year.  So even if the arctic emissions were to increase by ten-fold, they'll still be pretty low compared to other GHG emissions.

Not many scientists believe that is very likely with the warming in the oceans and land that we've seen to date.  These include scientists who have gone to the Arctic and measure the methane coming out of the methane seeps.

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