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Messages - Ken Feldman

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Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 14, 2020, 01:06:28 AM »
Utility scale solar installations in the US were up 65.5% from 2019 in the first quarter of 2020.

US utility-scale solar installations accelerate with 1,962 MW of new capacity in Q1'20
06 Jul 2020
Gaurang Dholakia

New York — Utility-scale solar installations in the U.S. totaled 1,962 MW of new capacity in the first quarter of 2020, which was 65.5% higher than the total installed in the first quarter of last year and the strongest first quarter in the last five years, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data.

The analysis aligns with data from the Solar Energy Industries Association Inc., which said that the first three months of 2020 was the strongest first quarter on record with new additions, including residential solar, totaling 3.6 GW.

Cumulative installed utility-scale solar capacity in the U.S. as of March 31 reached 40,652 MW, up 18.4% from 12 months prior.

As of June 8, the amount of capacity scheduled to come online in the next five years is expected to peak in 2021, with 28,172 MW planned. Most planned capacity over the five-year period is in early development.

Edit:  Modified to make clear that this is in the US.

Policy and solutions / Re: Low GHG Meat
« on: July 14, 2020, 12:55:27 AM »
Another new feed additive has been found to decrease methane emissions from dairy cattle by up to 40% while increasing butterfat levels and not affecting the milk yield.

Feed Additive Reduces Methane Emissions Up to 40 Percent In Dairy Cows
Jim Dickrell
June 25, 2020

A feeding trial using 3-nitrooxypropanol (3-NOP) reduced enteric methane emissions in dairy cows 22 to 40 percent in a short-term study done at Pennsylvania State University. The average level of methane reduction was 31 percent.

The European Union is formulating policies to address methane emissions.

EC consults on methane leaks in push to clean up EU gas imports
13 Jul 2020
Siobhan Hall

Brussels — The European Commission is seeking views on how to reduce leaks of potent greenhouse gas methane from oil, gas and agricultural sectors as part of the EU's efforts to become climate-neutral by 2050.

Most of the methane leaks from fossil gas production and transport happen before the natural gas or LNG reaches the EU, so a new EU policy on methane emissions could have far-reaching impacts on the global gas market.

The key challenge is how to improve measuring, reporting and verifying emissions at the level of private entities, it said.

On average, 5% of sources account for 50% of the leaks, known as "super-emitters".

Leak detection and repair programs, as well as finding and addressing these "super-emitters, can be a very effective action," the EC said.

Policy and solutions / Re: Coal
« on: July 14, 2020, 12:37:06 AM »
While both China and the US are trying to prop up coal, both countries are failing to do so.  Coal just isn't competitive with the alternatives, formerly natural gas and now increasingly solar and wind power.

Global demise of coal-fired generation driven by idle and unprofitable plants

China grapples with overcapacity by slowing coal plant construction while more U.S. plants have closed during the first three years of the Trump administration than in Obama’s two terms.
June 23, 2020 K Kaufmann

The demise of coal is now a global phenomenon that — rather like Covid-19 — is no respecter of borders or governments, with both China and the United States grappling with the social and economic impacts of overcapacity.

In other words, baseload power just isn’t what it used to be, and too many coal plants around the world are sitting idle and unprofitable too much of the time. In China, the issue has surfaced in a recent government policy statement calling for the elimination of outdated coal-fired plants and stricter controls on new capacity.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., President Donald Trump’s efforts to revive the coal industry have not slowed the snowballing pace of plant closures, now running at a higher rate than during the eight years of the Obama administration. According to figures from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), reported in E&E News, 15 GW and 33 GW were retired during Obama’s first and second terms, respectively, versus 37 GW since Trump took office in 2017. Another 3.7 GW of capacity are projected to close in the next six months.

While China leads the world in solar capacity, its continuing reliance on coal and on the construction of new coal-fired plants to drive economic growth has also made it the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Coal accounted for 57.7% of the country’s energy consumption in 2019.

Capacity up, utilization down

But, according to a recent analysis published on the Carbon Brief website, as capacity has increased, utilization has gone down, with many Chinese coal companies running at a loss, and plants typically operating at 50% capacity.

The story in the U.S. is more familiar and more certain, with the EIA reporting coal-fired generation at its lowest point since 1976, undercut primarily by cheap natural gas and wind. Even with ongoing plant closures, utilization rates also fell to 48%, and for the first time, Americans consumed more renewable power, including hydroelectric, than coal-fired generation.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 14, 2020, 12:21:31 AM »
New solar farms in Texas (a large state in the United States) will result in the idling of the remaining coal-fired power plants supplying the state grid (abbreviated ERCOT in the story).

Solar Surge Set to Drive Much of Remaining Texas Coal-Fired Fleet Offline Growth in Utility-Scale PV Production Is Rapidly Changing the ERCOT Market

Executive Summary

Coal-fired power generation in Texas, pummelled by clean, no-fuel-cost wind over the past 10 years, is about to be hit by a second wave of competition from renewables as utility-scale solar power, which is still only a small component of the state’s generation mix, stands to gain significant market share over the next few years.

While installed solar power capacity in the U.S. has grown by almost 4,000% over the past 10 years, its growth rate in Texas—specifically across the vast footprint of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), has been even faster, with installed capacity increasing from just 15 megawatts (MW) in 2010 to 2,281MW at the end of 2019,a 15,107% increase. ERCOT’s installed capacity could climb at a comparable annual rate this year, with current projections showing solar topping 5,800MW by the end of 2020.

Even though solar is still a small percentage of ERCOT’s overall numbers, both in terms of generation and installed capacity, it is beginning to have a noticeable impact. This June, for example, solar generation supplied 4-5% of daytime electricity demand on many occasions. Given its low cost, and given the Texas grid’s energy-only business model, which pays for electricity produced rather than mere generation capacity, solar is gaining—and will continue to gain—market share. This will come at the expense of more costly generation, most likely coal-fired, which will be backed out of the ERCOT generation mix by a comparable amount.

This is clear in ERCOT’s generation figures from this year through the end of June. Overall, ERCOT demand has increased slightly since last year, even with the pandemic and the oil price collapse. But there is a much bigger story behind these grid-wide totals. So far this year, coal-fired generation has fallen across ERCOT by more than 8.6 million megawatt-hours (MWh), while solar and wind generation has increased by just over 8.5 million MWh, an increase of almost 21%.

Coupled with expected continued increases in wind capacity, which totalled just under 24,000MW at the end of 2019 across ERCOT and is projected to top 34,000MW by the end of2021, IEEFA sees a number of the 11 remaining ERCOT coal plants likely retiring by 2025. The economic competitiveness of the ERCOT market makes such closures a near certainty.

Edit: Modified to clarify that this applies to a state in the United States.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 14, 2020, 12:03:42 AM »
The Biden campaign (for US President) has released their climate change plan, which includes policies that would lead to a huge expansion of renewable energy.

Biden-Sanders task force calls for 500m solar panels in five years

A wide-ranging joint report published by the Democratic presidential candidate and his former rival includes the section: ‘Undoing the harms of the Trump administration and righting the wrongs.’
July 13, 2020 Eric Wesoff

On renewables, the task force aims to:

    Dramatically expand solar and wind energy deployment through community-based and utility scale systems. Within five years, states the report, “we will install 500 million solar panels, including eight million solar roofs and community solar energy systems and 60,000 made-in-America onshore and offshore wind turbines”
    Cut red tape, by promoting fast and easy permitting for rooftop solar and energy retrofits
    Launch a battery storage and clean energy transmission line moonshot to super-charge investment in innovation and the deployment of American-made battery technology and clean energy transmission lines
    Improve transmission planning by increasing transparency and fairness in the power markets for clean energy generators. The report also aims to develop and implement a long-term transmission plan to deliver more renewables
    Adopt scaled-up tax credits for renewable energy projects that meet labor standards

Edit: Modified to clarify that Biden is running for President of the United States and that these are policy proposals, not politics.

The IPCC Special Report on the Oceans and Cryosphere covers this topic in section and includes the reference on short lived greenhouse gases (Zickfeld et. al., 2017).

Beyond the 21st century, the relative importance of the long-term contributions of the various components of SLR changes markedly. For glaciers, the long-term is of limited importance, because the sea level equivalent of all glaciers is restricted to 0.32 ± 0.08 m when taking account of ice mass above present day sea level (Farinotti et al., 2019). Hence, there is high confidence that the contribution of glaciers to SLR expressed as a rate will decrease over the 22nd century under RCP8.5 (Marzeion et al., 2012). For thermal expansion the gradual rate of heat absorption in the ocean will lead to a further SLR for several centuries (Zickfeld et al., 2017).

While the IPCC SR1.5 didn't make it super-clear, they did discuss this issue in brief.  The reference that I bolded discusses the same issue for CO2.

Sea level

Policy decisions related to anthropogenic climate change will have a profound impact on sea level, not only for the remainder of this century but for many millennia to come (Clark et al., 2016). On these long time scales, 50 m of sea level rise (SLR) is possible (Clark et al., 2016). While it is virtually certain that sea level will continue to rise well beyond 2100, the amount of rise depends on future cumulative emissions (Church et al., 2013) as well as their profile over time (Bouttes et al., 2013; Mengel et al., 2018) . Marzeion et al. (2018) found that 28–44% of present-day glacier volume is unsustainable in the present-day climate and that it would eventually melt over the course of a few centuries, even if there were no further climate change. Some components of SLR, such as thermal expansion, are only considered reversible on centennial time scales (Bouttes et al., 2013; Zickfeld et al., 2013) , while the contribution from ice sheets may not be reversible under any plausible future scenario (see below).

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 13, 2020, 10:32:47 PM »
Investment in offshore wind farms has quadrupled globally in the first half of this year.

Offshore wind energy investment quadruples despite Covid-19 slump
Investors give greenlight to $35bn worth of projects worldwide in first half of 2020

Jillian Ambrose
Mon 13 Jul 2020

Global offshore wind investment more than quadrupled in the first half of the year even as the coronavirus pandemic triggered an unprecedented economic shock.

A report has found that investors gave the greenlight to 28 new offshore windfarms worth a total of $35bn (£28bn) this year, four times more than in the first half of 2019 and well above the total for last year as a whole.

The growth in offshore wind powered a 5% jump in total renewable energy investment to $132.4bn despite a slump for onshore wind and solar power projects. Onshore wind investment for the first half of the year fell by a fifth to $37.5bn, while solar investment slipped 12% to $54.7bn.

Keep in mind that the cost of renewables has been declining every year (in every country of the world), so this means that much more capacity is being installed (globally) for a given amount invested (in any country).

Edit:  Modified to clarify that this applies in every country in the world.

Arctic sea ice / Re: The 2020 melting season
« on: July 11, 2020, 01:10:27 AM »
How can you tell the difference on a satellite photo between a ice covered in melt ponds and frozen ice that isn't covered by snow?  Both would appear blue from a distance and I don't think most satellite photos have the resolution to show the difference.  Is there something I'm missing?

Here's a natural color Worldview pic from June 26 (much bluer in most areas) vs. the same area from today July 10.  That ice didn't refreeze, it just has less standing water on it is my interpretation. The bluish tint seems to fade to grayish as the melt pond drain I think.

This doesn't address my question.  How do you know that the blue on the June 26 photo is from melt ponds, not ice?  Ice appears blue from a distance.

Snow is white because full spectrum, or white, light is scattered and reflected at the boundary between ice and air.

In ice, the absorption of light at the red end of the spectrum is six times greater than at the blue end. Thus the deeper light energy travels, the more photons from the red end of the spectrum it loses along the way. Two meters into the glacier, most of the reds are dead. A lack of reflected red wavelengths produces the color blue in the human eye.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 11, 2020, 12:29:22 AM »
The oil glut is projected to take two years to clear at present rates of production and consumption.

The Largest Oil Inventory Increase In History
By Editorial Dept - Jul 10, 2020

1. The oil market’s massive inventory problem

- Oil inventories increased in the second quarter at a rate of nearly 1.8 mb/d, more than four times the ten-year average, according to Standard Chartered.

- Inventories typically increase in the second quarter, but this was the largest build since data collection began in 1956.

- The oil market has technically flipped into a deficit, although at a much lower base. Instead of a 100 mb/d market, supply is right around 88 mb/d and demand at 89 mb/d, rebalancing at a lower level.

- If sustained, the market will draw down on inventories going forward, although the overhang will take around 2 years to drain back to normal levels.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 11, 2020, 12:25:45 AM »
The US EIA is reporting that the share of non-hydro renewables in electricity generation is expected to increase from 11% last year to 13% this year.  Due to higher precipitation in the Pacific Northwest, hydropower will increase by 1%, from 7% to 8%.

EIA also expects generation from renewable energy sources will increase in 2020. Slightly higher precipitation levels in the Pacific Northwest drive EIA’s forecast that conventional hydroelectric generation will provide 8% of total U.S. generation in 2020, compared with 7% last year. Most of the expected increase in generation from renewables is a result of new solar and wind generation capacity additions. EIA expects the generation share from renewable energy sources other than hydropower will increase to 13% in 2020 compared with 11% in 2019.

Renewables Capacity. After adding 5 gigawatts (GW) of capacity in 2019, EIA forecasts 13 GW of utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity will be added in 2020 and 11 GW more will be added in 2021. Fewer capacity additions in 2021 takes into consideration some effects of the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) phase-down. Based on the latest available data that EIA has received, the impact of COVID-19 on PV capacity in development is limited; therefore, the forecast for utility-scale PV capacity additions in 2020 and 2021 is only slightly lower than the forecast in the January STEO.

EIA also expects a total of 9 GW of small-scale solar PV capacity will be installed during 2020 and 2021, mostly in the residential sector. EIA expects small-scale solar to continue to grow, although at a slower pace than the level forecasted in the January STEO. Various state and federal policies support EIA’s forecast solar capacity growth, including California’s requirement that all new home construction has rooftop solar panels beginning this year. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimates that 15% of detached single-family homes in California currently have solar PV systems.

Policy and solutions / Re: Coal
« on: July 11, 2020, 12:17:18 AM »
The US EIA reports that coal has been the power source most impacted by the Covid-19 downturn.  It's share of the US electricity generation will decrease from 24% in 2019 to 18% this year.

Coal-fired electricity generation has been the energy source most affected by the reduction in electricity demand resulting from COVID-19 mitigation measures. EIA estimates that U.S. electric power sector coal generation was 314 billion kilowatthours (kWh) during the first half of 2020 compared with 467 billion kWh during the first half of 2019. Coal-fired generation has been falling faster than the overall level of electricity demand as a result of competition from other energy sources. In particular, the cost of natural gas has fallen to its lowest levels in 25 years. In addition, significant levels of new generating capacity using renewable energy sources have been added. EIA expects the share of total U.S. generation from coal-fired power plants will average 18% in 2020 compared with 24% in 2019.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 11, 2020, 12:10:39 AM »
The US EIA is forecasting  decreased natural gas consumption of 3.1% in 2020 and 4.5% in 2022.

Natural Gas Consumption. Consumption of natural gas in the United States averaged an estimated 85.0 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2019, and EIA expects U.S. consumption will decrease by 2.6 Bcf/d (3.1%) in 2020 before decreasing by an additional 3.7 Bcf/d (4.5%) in 2021.

The largest natural gas consuming sector in the United States is the electric power sector. EIA estimates that electric generation will consume an average 31.9 Bcf/d in 2020, which is 2.9% more than in 2019 because of new natural gas-fired electric generation capacity and competitive natural gas prices. EIA forecasts power sector consumption of natural gas to decline by 14.3% in 2021, which reflects increased competition from renewable sources and from coal. Growth in renewable sources of electricity generation is a result of continuing renewables capacity additions. EIA’s forecast of higher natural gas spot prices in 2021 compared with 2020, makes natural gas less competitive compared with coal for use in power generation.

Natural gas losing share to renewables seems obvious.  But coal?  Coal plants are closing and no new ones are being built.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 11, 2020, 12:04:31 AM »
The US rig count continues to decline.

U.S. Rig Count Falls For 18th Week In A Row
By Julianne Geiger - Jul 10, 2020

Baker Hughes reported on Friday that the number of oil and gas rigs in the US fell again this week, by 5, to 258, marking the eighteenth loss in the number of active rigs, with losses in the Permian, Eagle Ford, Marcellus, and Barnett basins.

The total oil and gas rigs is now sitting at 700 fewer than this time last year.

Policy and solutions / Re: Direct Air Capture (of Carbon Dioxide)
« on: July 10, 2020, 11:44:53 PM »
Enhanced rock weathering is another method to remove carbon dioxide from the air while improving the quality of agricultural soils.

Beerling, D.J., Kantzas, E.P., Lomas, M.R. et al. Potential for large-scale CO2 removal via enhanced rock weathering with croplands. Nature 583, 242–248 (2020).


Enhanced silicate rock weathering (ERW), deployable with croplands, has potential use for atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) removal (CDR), which is now necessary to mitigate anthropogenic climate change1. ERW also has possible co-benefits for improved food and soil security, and reduced ocean acidification2,3,4. Here we use an integrated performance modelling approach to make an initial techno-economic assessment for 2050, quantifying how CDR potential and costs vary among nations in relation to business-as-usual energy policies and policies consistent with limiting future warming to 2 degrees Celsius5. China, India, the USA and Brazil have great potential to help achieve average global CDR goals of 0.5 to 2 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year with extraction costs of approximately US$80–180 per tonne of CO2. These goals and costs are robust, regardless of future energy policies. Deployment within existing croplands offers opportunities to align agriculture and climate policy. However, success will depend upon overcoming political and social inertia to develop regulatory and incentive frameworks. We discuss the challenges and opportunities of ERW deployment, including the potential for excess industrial silicate materials (basalt mine overburden, concrete, and iron and steel slag) to obviate the need for new mining, as well as uncertainties in soil weathering rates and land–ocean transfer of weathered products.

Arctic sea ice / Re: The 2020 melting season
« on: July 10, 2020, 10:53:53 PM »
Maybe this belongs in the stupid questions thread, but I see this come up a lot in this thread.

How can you tell the difference on a satellite photo between a ice covered in melt ponds and frozen ice that isn't covered by snow?  Both would appear blue from a distance and I don't think most satellite photos have the resolution to show the difference.  Is there something I'm missing?

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 09, 2020, 11:07:45 PM »
The outlook for LNG exports is grim.

Coronavirus demand destruction cuts U.S. LNG exports to over 20-month low
July 8, 2020
Scott DiSavino

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Natural gas flows to U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) export plants plunged this month after falling to a 20-month low in June as coronavirus lockdowns cut global demand for the fuel.

With U.S. LNG capacity rising as new units enter service, utilization of those plants has collapsed from 85%-90% in 2019 to just 32% so far this month as buyers cancel dozens of cargoes.

Analysts at Simmons Energy, energy specialists at U.S. investment bank Piper Sandler, projected U.S. LNG utilization will hover between 60%-70% over the next several years.

Those plants cost billions of dollars to build.  If they're sitting idle, their owners will go broke.

Science / Re: Where are we now in CO2e , which pathway are we on?
« on: July 09, 2020, 08:58:42 PM »
kassy, are the rising permafrost emissions, possible subsea methane bursts, rising lake emissions and lost forest-sinks etc. included in our radiative forcing path?

Many of the projects about emissions from permafrost, methane bursts, etc... are based on RCP8.5 model runs.  Reading the papers, you see that the projections of increased emissions are much lower for RCP 4.5 or RCP 2.6.  And the amount of methane from the Arctic is much less than what's emitted in the tropics, much of it coming from fossil fuel extraction and agriculture.

Here's today's view of methane emissions from Copernicus, the North Pole view.  Note that many parts of the Arctic Ocean over the ESAS are free of sea ice now, Siberia is burning up, etc...  Yet those areas are below the global average methane concentration.,3,2020070803&projection=classical_north_pole&layer_name=composition_ch4_totalcolumn

Science / Re: Where are we now in CO2e , which pathway are we on?
« on: July 09, 2020, 08:45:23 PM »
The energy mixes assumed in the RCPs were extremely pessimistic on renewables.  The RCPs were drafted in the early 2000s when renewables were much more expensive than fossil fuels.  Now renewables are cheaper than both new build and operating coal, and new natural gas.  As a result, more money is being invested in renewables then in fossil fuel plants.  Some fossil fuel plants are being shut down and being replaced with renewables at a savings to the rate payers.

Skepticalscience has a great article on the RCPs:

The Beginner's Guide to Representative Concentration Pathways

By G. P. Wayne

Welcome to the Beginner's Guide to Representative Concentration Pathways. Arranged in three parts, you can access each part by clicking on the tabs below. Part 1 provides background to the scenarios used by climate scientists. Part 2 describes the development of RCPs, and Part 3 provides a quick reference to many of the key parameters and data (there’s also a further reading list at the end). The guide is also available as a PDF.

Here are some images from that article related to energy trends:

Figure 13: Development of primary energy consumption (direct equivalent) and oil consumption for the different RCPs (van Vuuren 2011). The grey area indicates the 98th and 90th percentiles (light/dark grey) (AR4 database (Hanaoka et al. 2006) and more recent literature (Clarke et al. 2010; Edenhofer et al. 2010). The dotted lines indicate four of the SRES marker scenarios

    “For energy use, the scenarios underlying the RCPs are consistent with the literature— with the RCP2.6, RCP4.5 and RCP6 again being representative of intermediate scenarios in the literature (resulting in a primary energy use of 750 to 900 EJ in 2100, or about double the level of today).

    “The RCP8.5, in contrast, is a highly energy-intensive scenario as a result of high  population growth and a lower rate of technology development”. (van Vuuren 2011).

Figure 14: Energy sources by sector (van Vuuren 2011)

    “In terms of the mix of energy carriers, there is a clear distinction across the RCPs given the influence of the climate target. Total fossil- fuel use basically follows the radiative forcing level of the scenarios; however, due to the use of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies (in particular in the power sector), all scenarios, by 2100, still use a greater amount of coal and/or natural gas than in the year 2000. The use of oil stays fairly constant in most scenarios, but declines in the RCP2.6 (as a result of depletion and climate policy).

    The use of non-fossil fuels increases in all scenarios, especially renewable resources (e.g. wind, solar), bio-energy and nuclear power. The main driving forces are increasing energy demand, rising fossil-fuel prices and climate policy. An important element of the RCP2.6 is the use of bio-energy and CCS, resulting in negative emissions (and allowing some fossil fuel without CCS by the end of the century)”. (van Vuuren 2011).

While we are currently somewhere between 2.6 and 8.5, current investments in energy infrastructure that will dictate future energy trends are much closer to the RCP2.6 scenario, even though the mix is much more weighted to renewables than bioenergy with CCS.

Antarctica / Re: Ice Apocalypse - MULTIPLE METERS SEA LEVEL RISE
« on: July 09, 2020, 08:30:55 PM »
The Miami SLR mitigation effort with building walls will generate a lot of CO₂ emissions.
Miami is build on porous limestone, if I remember correctly, so I think the water will come up behind the walls and therefore render the mitigation effort useless apart from exceptional storm surges. Massive retreat seems inevitable.
Am I correct with this line of thinking?

I believe that the Corps is proposing to inject/pump freshwater into the porous limestone in order create an underground hydraulic head to limit saltwater from mixing with the local groundwater; however, I do not believe that this method will work for high levels of SLR.

It wont work for low levels of SLR either.  As mentioned upthread, the ground is porous limestone and water already comes up from it during the highest high tides of the year.  There's no way to cap every pore with concrete. 

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 09, 2020, 06:45:23 PM »
All those stories about economies recovering quickly and oil demand returning rapidly are failing to pan out.  Demand has levelled off at 88 to 89 million bpd, well below the 100 mbpd it was at before the Covid recession.  And the US isn't even out of the first wave of infections yet.

Oil Market Recovery Threatened By Weaker Fuel Demand
By Nick Cunningham - Jul 08, 2020

Gasoline demand appears to be weakening in some parts of the United States, as the coronavirus continues to spread. The states hardest hit by the surging number of infections are also some of the largest, with tens of millions of drivers.  Much of the country continues to see a slight uptick in gasoline consumption. But in Arizona, Texas and Florida, where the coronavirus is raging, a growing number of people are staying home. Cases are rising in more than 30 states.

Gasoline demand in the U.S. climbed back to 8.6 million barrels per day (mb/d) for the week ending on June 19, up from a low of 5 mb/d in early April. But demand slipped a bit by the end of June as the virus began to spread at a faster clip. On Wednesday, the EIA reported another increase in demand, although the report was offset by a rise in crude inventories, and the slightly muddying caveat that it was a holiday weekend. Gasoline demand is still roughly 1 mb/d below last year’s levels.

To be sure, the sharp decline in oil production has tightened up the market. Instead of supply and demand balancing at 100 mb/d, the market is now “balanced” at a level that is 10 percent smaller. In fact, demand could average around 89 mb/d in July, with supply at only 88 mb/d. The oil market has now reached a new “balance at the bottom,” according to Rystad Energy.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 09, 2020, 06:39:03 PM »
The Washington DC transit system just sold the air space above its parking lots to solar developers.  The deal will generate funds for public transit and allow for 12.8 MW of solar power capacity in an urban environment.

Metro agrees to solar power deal worth $50 million
Justin George
July 8, 2020 at 4:12 p.m. PDT

Metro has sold 13 football fields’ worth of space at its parking lots and garages in the District and Prince George’s County for a solar power project worth up to $50 million over 25 years, the transit agency said Wednesday.

The deal provides SunPower Corporation and Goldman Sachs Renewable Power space on Metro’s surface parking lots and above its parking garages to install solar-paneled carports or canopies at four rail stations. Metro said the four sites will have the capacity to generate 12.8 megawatts, making it “the largest community solar project” in the Washington region.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 06, 2020, 08:51:42 PM »
A Florida utility, Duke Energy, is doubling their solar power capacity.  They are using an innovative approach to finance the project.  The financing method will allow apartment renters and low income homeowners to participate.

Duke Energy proposes $1 billion solar expansion to double its capacity
Duke Energy Florida announced plans late Wednesday afternoon to double its current solar energy capacity.
By Malena Carollo
Published Jul. 1

Duke Energy Florida announced plans late Wednesday to double its solar energy capacity.

The utility, which serves much of Pinellas County, said Wednesday is asking for permission from the Florida Public Service Commission to build 750 megawatts of new solar energy installations through its “Clean Energy Connection Program.” It is currently in the process of completing 700 megawatts of solar capacity from a plan announced in 2017.

Customers, Gibbs said, would be charged for the $1 billion project if it is approved and built. What’s different about this round is that the amount they will be charged depends on how many customers opt into the plan, which will offset what customers who aren’t participating pay. Because of this structure, the utility doesn’t yet have an estimate for how bills would be affected.

Customers can purchase a block of solar power for $8.35 per kilowatt. In exchange for the addition to their monthly bill, customers will receive a credit back that will grow each year they participate. After about five years, Duke Energy said, the credit will be greater than the amount a customer pays to participate in the program.

This is meant to allow customers who don’t have access to rooftop solar, such as those in apartments or for whom the cost is prohibitive, to participate in clean energy savings.

Duke Energy said 26 megawatts are set aside for low-income customers.
A quarter of the project is slated for residential subscriptions and three-quarters will go to commercial and industrial customers, including local governments.

Currently, Duke Energy is courting a round of early subscribers to help cover a majority of the cost of the project. One such subscriber is the city of St. Petersburg, which asked for 28.3 megawatts in the program, just under 4 percent of the project’s total.

Gibbs said that 12 commercial and industrial customers have reserved 540 megawatts of capacity thus far — a little more than 70 percent of the project — and local governments will have until the end of August to enroll.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 06, 2020, 08:38:02 PM »
China's renewable energy investment is shifting from hydropower to solar.

China's mega-dams are giving way to cheaper renewable energy
China switched on its latest large-scale hydropower plant last week with another due to come online next year.
15 hours ago

It's the beginning of the end for the era of mega-dam building in China.

China Three Gorges Corp. last week turned on the first set of generators at the massive Wudongde hydropower plant, deep in the mountains of Yunnan province. About 170 kilometers (106 miles) downstream on the Jinsha River sits Baihetan, the last of its kind, scheduled to go into operation next year.

Now, China's hydro industry is down-shifting toward smaller projects and pumped storage. Engineers have run out of the easiest locations to power massive sets of turbines and the falling cost of rival energy sources such as solar mean it isn't worth moving on to more challenging locations.

Policy and solutions / Re: Coal
« on: July 03, 2020, 01:26:34 AM »
Renewables are now so much cheaper than coal that replacing all of the existing coal power plants would save money.  Even in China.

How To Retire Early
2020  |  By Rocky Mountain Institute

As the urgency of the climate crisis grows, new analysis reveals that coal is no longer the cheapest way to power the global economy. The cost of clean energy has fallen so far that new renewables are now cheaper than new coal plants virtually everywhere, and there are specific financial strategies that utilities and policymakers can use to engineer a faster phaseout of coal in various regions of the world.

Policy and solutions / Re: Coal
« on: July 03, 2020, 01:15:08 AM »

BP claims that China set a new coal production record in 2019.

On page 46 - 79.82 conditional energy joules in 2019 against 79.32 in 2013.

World production is also a world record - 167.58 against 166.64 in 2013.

On the contrary, there is a global decline in oil production (strongest increase in gas).

The report also notes, also on page 46, that consumption was down 0.6%.

World coal consumption fell by 0.6% (-0.9 EJ), its fourth decline in six years.

And the Covid recession has caused coal demand to drop dramatically.  Exporting countries are being hit hard.

Virus to cut coal demand 9% this year – mining association
in Commodity News 15/06/2020   

The Covid-19 pandemic will result in a reduction of at least 9% in global seaborne thermal coal demand this year, the chairman of Indonesia’s Coal Mining Association (APBI) said.

The total represents around a 10% drop from the 2019 demand total.

India accounted for 40m tonnes of the downward revision, followed by China and South Korea, each with 10m tonnes, APBI estimates showed.

“There is a possibility for further downside to these demand numbers, if lockdowns are extended or reinstated,” he said.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 03, 2020, 12:59:59 AM »
Fossil fuel advocates like to point to natural gas power plants as being the main reason for the decline of coal.  That may have been the case in the past, but renewables are so cheap, that even new gas plants can't compete, despite the low prices of gas due to the current glut.

More utilities bypassing natural gas bridge and going straight to renewables
July 2, 2020 Jean Haggerty

Utilities that are transitioning away from coal are starting to view the creation of a natural gas “bridge” to renewable energy as an unnecessary step. Last week utilities in Arizona, Colorado and Florida announced plans to close one or more of their coal plants and build renewables without adding any new gas-fired generation.

Separately, staff at the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission recommended a similar gas-free transition when assessing the future capacity needs of the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM).

Renewable energy economics have been challenging the competitiveness of coal for a while now, but these latest moves indicate a greater confidence that the switch from coal to renewables can be done cost effectively and reliably without the construction of new gas fired generation as an interim step.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: July 03, 2020, 12:47:16 AM »
Renewables are starting to dominate electricity generation, as almost all new capacity added to existing grids is renewable.  The cost of renewable power plants are lower than new fossil fuel plants, and in many cases, a utility can save money by shutting down an operating coal or natural gas plant and replace it with a solar or wind plant with battery backup.  That's not cherry-picking, it's reality.

And renewables will catch up in total energy demand as gasoline and diesel powered vehicles are replaced by electric vehicles.  The growth of the electric vehicle market is poised to take off in the 2020s.

Electric Vehicles Will Kick Gas

As the world reels from the public health impacts of the pandemic and economic uncertainty looms large, stories about an impending electric vehicle market crash provide click-bait, little more. It is no longer a matter of if but when and where EVs will dominate auto markets.

Stan Cross | June 26, 2020

In 2020, for the first time, more new EV models are entering the market than new gas car models. That tells us where auto manufacturers’ Research & Development dollars are going. Looking forward, the automakers show no signs of slowing down. At least ten new models are due out in 2021 from auto giants like GM and Ford to niche manufacturers like Tesla and newcomer Rivian.

Investors Bullish on EV Charging Despite Slowdown in Car Sales

While much of the energy sector struggled under lockdown, vehicle-charging startups continued to win over investors such as BP.
Julian Spector June 10, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic forced layoffs and spending cuts across the solar industry and hammered global electric vehicle sales. But startups serving the EV charging market have continued pulling in new investments in spite of the uncertainty.

As time passed and new data came in, the outlook improved somewhat. BNEF in May predicted that the global electric passenger vehicle market would shrink by 18 percent in 2020, performing better than internal combustion engine cars, whose sales it expects to fall 23 percent. BNEF believes internal combustion engine car sales peaked in 2017 and won’t beat that level, even after a post-crisis recovery.

In a few years, electric cars will become cheaper than their gas-burning counterparts, said Geoff Eisenberg, partner at Ecosystem Integrity Fund. The ensuing adoption of batteries on wheels will merge the auto industry and the electric grid sector, with massive ramifications for both. Investors that buy into that vision can wait out a temporary pause.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 03, 2020, 12:11:50 AM »
The oil rig count is still dropping, albeit more slowly than earlier in the recession.

Oil Rig Count Collapse Beginning To Slow
By Julianne Geiger - Jul 02, 2020

Baker Hughes reported on Thursday that the number of oil and gas rigs in the US fell again this week, by 2, to 263, showing the second small loss in the number of active rigs in as many weeks after a long streak of major losses.

The total oil and gas rigs is now sitting at 700 fewer than this time last year.

The number of active oil and gas rigs in the United States has continued to decline over the last seventeen weeks.

To compare active rigs with supply figures, the EIA’s estimate for oil production in the United States, which rose for the first time in eleven weeks for week ending June 19, held fast for the second week at 11 million barrels of oil per day for week ending June 26. Oil production in the United States is still 2.1 million bpd less than the all-time high for US production.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: July 03, 2020, 12:07:56 AM »
More important business consultants are declaring that oil demand has probably peaked and that the Covid recession will speed the energy transition.

Moody’s Turns Bearish On Oil Demand Growth
By Irina Slav - Jul 02, 2020

Billions of people spent the last few months in a lockdown of some form or another with travel bans or severe restrictions in place. Some warn that this will be our new normal. And this new normal could accelerate a shift away from hydrocarbons as the single most popular source of energy.

As demand for oil falls, Moody’s said, slower economic growth, increased use of alternative fuels for transportation, electric vehicles, and better fuel efficiency will add their own weight on oil demand. And as new behavioral patterns become permanent, this weight on oil demand will also become permanent.

But things may already be past the point of no return for oil. In fact, according to Boston Consulting Group, peak oil demand has been passed, and the coronavirus pandemic has only made this more obvious.

In a report, BCG noted how disproportionately hard oil and coal were hit in terms of demand, unlike renewable energy, the demand for which continued to grow throughout the lockdowns. Of course, a lot of the demand loss for oil was because of the virtual halting of global passenger air traffic—a sector where renewables are not yet a viable alternative to fossil fuels, so they could not be affected by events. But air transport was not the whole picture.

BCG, like Moody’s, cites the slow global economic recovery from the crisis as a fundamental factor in oil demand changes ahead. But it also notes the green recovery plans of governments and similar scenarios of international energy authorities. By modeling the impact of the pandemic on fossil fuel demand, BCG analysts revealed that the only scenarios where oil demand recovered to growth mode were the ones that featured no green recovery measures at all.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: June 29, 2020, 11:45:22 PM »
The BP Energy review for 2019 shows renewable share of electricity generation increasing exponentially, natural gas plateauing, and all other forms of generation declining.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: June 29, 2020, 06:38:08 PM »
The natural gas glut has gotten so severe that buyers are paying to cancel deliveries and US producers are planning to shut-in production.

Natural Gas Price Plunge Could Soon Lead To Shut-Ins
By Nick Cunningham - Jun 28, 2020

Natural gas prices plunged to new lows this week, falling below $1.50/MMBtu, a catastrophically low price for U.S. gas drillers.  The factors afflicting the gas market are multiple. Prices had already fallen below $2/MMBtu at the start of 2020, weighed down by oversupply. But it wasn’t a problem confined to the U.S. There was also a global glut of LNG due to a wave of capacity additions in 2019. 

Buyers abroad are willing to pay a cancellation fee instead of receiving shipment from U.S. exporters, a sign of how badly the market has deteriorated. For August delivery, between 40 and 45 cargoes have been cancelled, nearly double the rate of cancellation in June.

Typically, cheaper gas can stimulate demand, particularly in the electric power sector. But that outlet is not as large as it may have been in the past, not least because gas has already been cheap for quite some time. Thus, the coal-to-gas option is limited. Without an export route, and without larger uptake from utilities, the gas glut has deepened.

Worse, for American shale gas drillers, backed up LNG cargoes will exacerbate the glut within the United States. By the end of the summer, the volume of cancelled gas could add more than 760 billion cubic feet of gas to storage, according to Goldman Sachs.

Still, others say the outlook is more negative, even in the medium-term. The pandemic, weaker demand and the shock to capital budgets make it unlikely that any additional North American LNG project goes forward in the next five years, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics.

Permafrost / Re: Toward Improved Discussions of Methane & Climate
« on: June 27, 2020, 01:33:10 AM »
Satellites are showing that leaks from operating oil and gas infrastructure are responsible for much higher methane emissions than previously estimated.

June 25, 2020
Satellites reveal major new gas industry methane leaks
Shadia Nasralla

LONDON (Reuters) - Last fall, European Space Agency satellites detected huge plumes of the invisible planet-warming gas methane leaking from the Yamal pipeline that carries natural gas from Siberia to Europe.

Energy consultancy Kayrros estimated one leak was spewing out 93 tonnes of methane every hour, meaning the daily emissions from the leakage were equivalent to the amount of carbon dioxide pumped out in a year by 15,000 cars in the United States.

Up to now, estimates of greenhouse gas emissions from industries have relied mainly on paper-based calculations of what’s pouring out of tailpipes and smokestacks, based on the amount of energy consumed by people and businesses.

But as satellite technology improves, researchers are starting to stress test the data - and the early results show leaky oil and gas industry infrastructure is responsible for far more of the methane in the atmosphere than previously thought.

A study in February’s Nature magazine reinforced the idea that the oil and gas industry produces far more methane than previously thought as it suggested emissions of the gas from natural causes have been significantly overestimated.

A year later, Canadian greenhouse gas monitoring company GHGSat found another major leak at pipeline and compressor infrastructure near the Korpezhe field in Turkmenistan.

In an October report, GHGSat estimated the leak released 142,000 tonnes of methane in the 12 months to the end of January 2019 and said then it was the biggest on record.

For comparison, a large Siberian methane crater was estimated to have released 3,000 tonnes of methane and when it initially exploded.  See the RealClimage article here:

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: June 25, 2020, 06:51:48 PM »
The Covid lockdowns are showing that solar power has an unexpected positive feedback.  As more solar power is installed to replace fossil fuels, the air will be clearer, leading to more electrical generation from the solar panels.

Coronavirus Lockdowns Are Actually Making Some Solar Panels More Efficient
23 JUNE 2020

Lockdowns have been a controversial aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yes, they undoubtedly save lives, but they also cause major ongoing economic issues – disrupting industries, causing job losses and associated financial pain.

But another thing lockdowns have done all over the world is decrease air pollution, and new research shows an interesting flow-on effect of this.

The new study has looked at solar power in Delhi – one of the most polluted cities in the world – and has found that the reduction in air pollution has allowed significantly more sunlight to get through to solar panels in the city, increasing their output.

"The increase that we saw is equivalent to the difference between what a photovoltaic (PV) installation in Houston would produce compared with one in Toronto," says first author Ian Marius Peters of Helmholtz-Institut Erlangen-Nürnberg for Renewable Energies in Germany.

The team found that, overall, the amount of sunlight reaching solar panels in Delhi increased by around 8 percent in late March 2020, and 6 percent in April 2020 compared to similar dates in earlier years.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: June 25, 2020, 06:46:35 PM »
The cost of solar power continues to decline.

PV module prices are falling faster than all predictions

New research from Wood Mackenzie shows that overall system costs for installations using mono PERC modules are set to fall by as much as 20% by 2025.
June 24, 2020 Tim Sylvia

Across all market segments, PV system costs are falling faster than anticipated, according to new research from Wood Mackenzie. The unexpected fall in costs has been attributed to the rapidly declining price of modules, with the costs of a residential system using mono PERC modules now expected to fall 17% from 2020 to 2025, while mono PERC commercial and utility system costs are expected to decline 16% and 20% respectively over the same time.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: June 24, 2020, 07:51:16 PM »
North Dakota will start plugging the wells abandoned due to the Covid demand destruction.

North Dakota Oil Income Crashes By 81%
By Irina Slav - Jun 24, 2020

Oil production in North Dakota shrunk by 15 percent between March and April and is expected to have shrunk even more in May. As of April 15, oil producers active in the state had idled as much as 35 percent of producing wells.

Meanwhile, some wells have been abandoned, and producers will begin plugging them in July, the AP reported earlier this month. North Dakota will use some $66 million in federal aid to finance the operation, which will involve at least 239 wells and other sites. Following the plugging, plans are to reuse the land for agriculture or return it to its natural state.

The high-flying models have more to prove in terms of tracking actual temperatures, than their more realistic competitors. So what's the argument, ASLR, why should they be "downweighted", as you propose? Because they don't err on the side of maximum ECS drama?

It is clear that climate change is more complex than any current model can simulate, thus it is bad science to keep focusing on relatively simple models and then demanding unreasonable accuracy from more nonlinear models, as the use of simple models for a complex system entails a large degree of climate risk.

It's also bad science to focus on the few models that appear to be outliers, denigrate the vast majority of other models and ignore the paleoclimate evidence that supports a lower ECS.

The aforementioned Zeke Hausfather has a good article on this:

Cold Water on Hot Models
Feb 11, 2020

News headlines have recently warned about “troubling” new warming projections from climate models that are “running red hot.” In reality, these only represent a small subset of the new models currently being developed — most of which are not running notably “hot.” And many of the “hot” models do a relatively poor job of reproducing past temperature changes, an important test of model skill. Climate scientists use many different lines of evidence to estimate how sensitive the climate is to increasing greenhouse gas concentrations, and it is premature to conclude that climate sensitivity is likely higher than we previously thought.

Many high sensitivity models have poor hindcasts

Climate models provide both projections of future warming and “hindcasts” of past temperatures. These hindcasts can be used as a tool to evaluate the performance of models, though historical temperatures are only one of many hundreds of different variables that climate models generate.

A number of the higher sensitivity models in CMIP6 have had trouble accurately “hindcasting” historical temperatures. Some show almost no warming over the 20th century — with cooling effects from aerosols almost completely counterbalancing rising atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations — followed by a massive warming spike in recent decades. Others show too much warming over the past 150 years.

High sensitivity models (in red) generally show more warming than observations over the last three decades, while those with a TCR of around 2.2C or less (in blue) tend to agree much better with observations. High ECS models tend to have high TCR, though the two measures of sensitivity are not perfectly correlated. In this case, all the models in the figure with an ECS above 5C (except for one — CESM2) also have a TCR value above 2.5C.

Climate sensitivity should be based on multiple lines of evidence

Models are an important way that climate scientists estimate sensitivity, but they’re far from the only one. Sensitivity can also be estimated by applying emergent constraints to climate models — for example, identifying which models perform better on observable metrics such as cloud behavior that are correlated with climate sensitivity. Sensitivity can also be inferred from the instrumental temperature records over the past 150 years, as well as from climate proxy records from the Earth’s more distant past — periods such as recent ice ages, the Pliocene, or the Eocene.

By considering these multiple lines of evidence — rather than just a subset of the latest climate models — we get a more nuanced view of climate sensitivity than if we only rely on the latest climate models. The figure below shows the climate sensitivity range inferred from various types of studies, based on a review of 142 estimates published between 2001 and 2018.

These new 5C ECS models should remind us that large uncertainties (and long tails of risk) remain, but they do not by themselves overturn the long-term consensus that climate sensitivity is likely somewhere around 3C (+/- 1.5C) per doubling of CO2.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: June 24, 2020, 01:04:25 AM »
Updated forecasts of natural gas production show large decreases from last year.

Global Gas Production Set To Tumble In 2020
By Rystad Energy - Jun 23, 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has landed a lasting blow to both oil and gas markets. Global oil production has absorbed the lion’s share of the impact, but natural gas output, which was previously set to grow, is also set to decline by 2.6 percent this year, Rystad Energy forecasts. Production of associated gas from oil fields will be hit most, losing some 5.5 percent compared to 2019 levels.

Production from natural gas fields, which was initially expected to rise to 3,687 Bcm this year from 3,521 Bcm in 2019, is expected to reach 3,445 Bcm instead, recovering to 3,485 Bcm in 2021 and further to 3,551 Bcm in 2022.

Science / Re: Re: 2020 Mauna Loa CO2 levels
« on: June 24, 2020, 12:45:27 AM »
It will be interesting to see if methane concentrations decrease later this year since much of the US and Canadian fracking decreased in May and looks to be reduced through 2021 with the oil oversupply and Covid recession demand destruction.

Considering methane leaks are a feature of fracked wells, and considering that the frackers have even less free cash than usual for properly abandoning their wells, I  do not expect methane pollution to drop appreciably.

Abandoned wells leak less methane then wells that are actively venting and flaring the cheap gas because it's in the way of the oil that the producers can sell.

More information has come in on the CMIP 6 models and Realclimate has an update:

Sensitive but unclassified: Part II
Filed under:

    Climate modelling Climate Science

— gavin @ 13 June 2020

The discussion and analysis of the latest round of climate models continues – but not always sensibly.

In a previous post, I discussed the preliminary results from the ongoing CMIP6 exercise – an international, multi-institutional, coordinated and massive suite of climate model simulations – and noted that they exhibited a wider range of equilibrium climate sensitivities (ECS) than in previous phases (CMIP5 and earlier) and wider than the assessed range based on observational constraints (of many kinds).

Since then, more model results have been added to the archive, and thanks to Mark Zelinka, we can see some of the analysis as it updates in real time.

Since my first post, there have been a number of papers have looked at the skill of these models to see whether there are some key observational data that might help in constraining the sensitivity (and by extension, the projections into the future). One set of papers has focused on the global mean trends from 1990 or so onward which is a period of stable or declining aerosol trends and which might therefore be a closer test of the models’ transient sensitivity to CO2 than earlier periods. Notably Tokarska et al. (2020) and Njisse et al. (2020) suggest that many of the high ECS group warm substantially faster than observed over this period and therefore should be downweighted in the constrained projections of the future.

In the meantime, claims that climate sensitivity is much higher, or that worst cases scenarios need to be revised upwards, are premature.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: June 23, 2020, 08:34:25 PM »
While the recession is slowing down some energy projects, projections for solar in the US continue to show strong growth.

Solar Power Rebound Expected After COVID-19 Speed Bump
Pandemic temporarily slowed solar panel installations after record breaking first quarter.
Mark Shenk   June 22, 2020   

The U.S. solar industry, like most sectors, struggled early in the COVID-19 pandemic, but experts project it to resume growing shortly.

Solar power was riding high before the coronavirus outbreak. During the first three months of 2020, there were 3.62 gigawatts of solar-panel capacity installed in the U.S., a record for the first quarter. The industry was largely unaffected by COVID-19 in that time frame, but is expected to take a hit during the second quarter, Wood Mackenzie and the Solar Energy Industries Association said in a report, though that setback isn’t expected to last.

Residential demand is expected to slow this year, though large-scale projects will pick up the slack. Total U.S. solar capacity will likely climb 33% this year, with almost 18 gigawatts on installations, according to Wood Mackenzie. That’s down from the growth of 20 gigawatts forecast before the pandemic hit, but still well ahead of the prior record year of 2016, when around 15 gigawatts of capacity was added.

U.S. utility-scale solar capacity will climb by 12.6 gigawatts this year, and increase by a further 10.7 million gigawatts in 2021, the Energy Information Administration said in a report on June 9. The U.S. solar sector is projected to install 113 gigawatts of capacity between 2020-2025, which is down 3.6 gigawatts from Wood Mackenzie’s 2019 Year-in-Review report.

“Renewables in general are the leading source of new generation,” Perea said. “This should continue.”

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: June 23, 2020, 07:35:41 PM »
Investment in all forms of energy is declining due to the Covid recession, but fossil fuels are being hit much harder than renewables.

IEA: COVID-19 crisis causing the biggest fall in global energy investment in history
31 May 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has set in motion the largest drop in global energy investment in history, with spending expected to plunge in every major sector this year—from fossil fuels to renewables and efficiency—the International Energy Agency said in a new report.

At the start of 2020, global energy investment was on track for growth of around 2%, which would have been the largest annual rise in spending in six years. But after the COVID-19 crisis brought large swathes of the world economy to a standstill in a matter of months, global investment is now expected to plummet by 20%, or almost $400 billion, compared with last year, according to the IEA’s World Energy Investment 2020 report.

Global investment in oil and gas is expected to fall by almost one-third in 2020. The shale industry was already under pressure, and investor confidence and access to capital has now dried up: investment in shale is anticipated to fall by 50% in 2020. At the same time, many national oil companies are now desperately short of funding. For oil markets, if investment stays at 2020 levels then this would reduce the previously-expected level of supply in 2025 by almost 9 million barrels a day, creating a clear risk of tighter markets if demand starts to move back towards its pre-crisis trajectory.

Power sector spending is on course to decrease by 10% in 2020, with worrying signals for the development of more secure and sustainable power systems. Renewables investment has been more resilient during the crisis than fossil fuels, but spending on rooftop solar installations by households and businesses has been strongly affected and final investment decisions in the first quarter of 2020 for new utility-scale wind and solar projects fell back to the levels of three years ago. An expected 9% decline in investment in electricity networks this year compounds a large fall in 2019, and spending on important sources of power system flexibility has also stalled, with investment in natural gas plants stagnating and spending on battery storage levelling off.

The overall share of global energy spending that goes to clean energy technologies—including renewables, efficiency, nuclear and carbon capture, utilisation and storage—has been stuck at around one-third in recent years. In 2020, it will jump towards 40%, but only because fossil fuels are taking such a heavy hit. In absolute terms, it remains far below the levels that would be required to accelerate energy transitions.

Policy and solutions / Re: Renewable Energy
« on: June 23, 2020, 07:14:29 PM »
H/T to RBoyd for the link to the BP Statistical Review.


Renewable energy (including biofuels) posted a record increase in consumption in energy terms (3.2 EJ). This was also the largest increment for any source of energy in 2019.

The slowdown in energy demand growth, combined with a shift in the fuel mix away from coal and toward natural gas and renewables, led to a significant slowing in the growth of carbon emissions, although only partially unwinding the unusually strong increase seen in 2018.

World coal consumption fell by 0.6% (-0.9 exajoules, or EJ), its fourth decline in six years, displaced by natural gas and renewables, particularly in the power sector (see electricity section). As a result, coal’s share in the energy mix fell to 27.0%, its lowest level in 16 years.

Generation of electricity grew by only 1.3% last year, around half of its 10-year average. Growth was weak or negative in most regions, other than in China which increased by 340 TWh (4.7%), accounting for 95% of net global growth (360 TWh).

Renewables provided the largest increment to power generation (340 TWh), followed by natural gas (220 TWh). These gains came partially at the expense of coal generation which fell sharply (-270 TWh), causing the share of coal in power generation to fall by 1.5 percentage points to 36.4% – the lowest in our dataset (which goes back to 1985). Despite this, coal remained the single largest source of power generation in 2019. Meanwhile, the share of renewables in generation increased from 9.3% to 10.4%, surpassing nuclear generation for the first time.

Renewables only became cheaper than coal in 2018 in some parts of the world.  They are now cheaper than coal almost everywhere and approaching parity with natural gas.  Given the time to plan, permit and build power plants, the statistics above reflect investments made prior to 2018.

In the linked reference, Pollard and DeConto largely confirm their 2016 projections for the WAIS.  Furthermore, if they were adopt the TCR and ECS values from E3SM1 (one of the CMIP6 models) then their projected collapse dates for the WAIS under RCP8.5 would most likely be significantly earlier than indicated by the attached image.

Pollard, D. and DeConto, R.: Improvements in one-dimensional grounding-line parameterizations in an ice-sheet model with lateral variations, Geosci. Model Dev. Discuss.,, in review, 2020.

Abstract. The use of a boundary-layer parameterization of buttressing and ice flux across grounding lines in a two-dimensional ice-sheet model is improved by allowing general orientations of the grounding line. This and another modification to the model's grounding-line parameterization are assessed in two settings: a narrow fjord-like domain (MISMIP+), and in future simulations of West Antarctic ice retreat under RCP8.5-based climates. The new modifications are found to have significant effects on the fjord results, which are now within the envelopes of other models in the MISMIP+ intercomparison. In contrast, the modifications have little effect on West Antarctic retreat, presumably because dynamics in the wider major Antarctic basins are adequately represented by the model's previous simpler one-dimensional formulation. As future grounding lines retreat across very deep bedrock topography in the West Antarctic simulations, buttressing is weak and deviatoric stress measures exceed the ice yield stress, implying that structural failure at these grounding lines would occur. We suggest that these grounding-line quantities should be examined in similar projections by other ice models, to better assess the potential for future structural failure.

Caption: "Figure 7. Equivalent global sea level rise in simulations of future West Antarctic ice retreat with climate forcing based on the RCP8.5 greenhouse gas scenario. The sea-level rise calculation accounts for ice grounded below sea level, which if melted contributes only its ice-overflotation amount. Thin lines: with previous model (no modifications, version A). Medium lines: with new 2-D grounding-line orientation (section 2.1, version B). Thick lines: with new 2-D orientation and new grid-cell weighting of imposed grounding-line velocities (section 2.2, version C). Blue: control (perpetual modern climate). Green: with RCP8.5 forcing, without hydrofracturing or cliff failure. Red: with RCP8.5 forcing, with hydrofracturing and cliff failure."

Why did they do a new paper using the "extreme" (their word) RCP 8.5 scenario (red line in their graph)?  I think most scientists recognize that RCP 8.5 is incredibly unrealistic now, given the complete collapse of coal mining and the rapid ascent of wind and solar.

The current forcings, continued, is somewhere between RCP 4.5 and 2.6.  It's represented by the blue line in their graph.  It would appear to be more realistic, if less sensational.

Figure  7.  Equivalent  global  sea  level  rise  in  simulations  of  future  West  Antarctic  ice  retreat  with  climate  forcing  based  on  the  RCP8.5 greenhouse gas scenario. The sea-level rise calculation accounts for ice grounded below sea level, which if melted contributes only its ice-over-260 flotation  amount. Thin  lines:  with  previous  model  (no  modifications,  version  A).Medium  lines:  with  new  2-D  grounding-line  orientation (section 2.1, version B). Thick lines: with new 2-D orientation and new grid-cell weighting of imposed grounding-line velocities (section 2.2, version C). Blue: control (perpetual modern climate). Green: with RCP8.5 forcing, without hydrofracturing or cliff failure. Red: with RCP8.5 forcing, with hydrofracturing and cliff failure.

The link study reports on an updated survey of sea level experts for their projections of future sea level rise.

Published: 08 May 2020

Estimating global mean sea-level rise and its uncertainties by 2100 and 2300 from an expert survey

Benjamin P. Horton, Nicole S. Khan, Niamh Cahill, Janice S. H. Lee, Timothy A. Shaw, Andra J. Garner, Andrew C. Kemp, Simon E. Engelhart & Stefan Rahmstorf

Climate and Atmospheric Science volume 3, Article number: 18 (2020)


Sea-level rise projections and knowledge of their uncertainties are vital to make informed mitigation and adaptation decisions. To elicit projections from members of the scientific community regarding future global mean sea-level (GMSL) rise, we repeated a survey originally conducted five years ago. Under Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 2.6, 106 experts projected a likely (central 66% probability) GMSL rise of 0.30–0.65 m by 2100, and 0.54–2.15 m by 2300, relative to 1986–2005. Under RCP 8.5, the same experts projected a likely GMSL rise of 0.63–1.32 m by 2100, and 1.67–5.61 m by 2300. Expert projections for 2100 are similar to those from the original survey, although the projection for 2300 has extended tails and is higher than the original survey. Experts give a likelihood of 42% (original survey) and 45% (current survey) that under the high-emissions scenario GMSL rise will exceed the upper bound (0.98 m) of the likely range estimated by the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is considered to have an exceedance likelihood of 17%. Responses to open-ended questions suggest that the increases in upper-end estimates and uncertainties arose from recent influential studies about the impact of marine ice cliff instability on the meltwater contribution to GMSL rise from the Antarctic Ice Sheet.

Also, in the linked 2019 article, Rob DeConto (a very straight shooter) says that the basic conclusions of the DeConto & Pollard (2016) reference about MICI risks remains unchanged:

Title: "Doomsday Postponed? The Takeaway From the Big New Antarctica Studies"

Extract: "“We still see a dangerous threat,” Rob DeConto, one of the authors of the 2016 paper, said in an email to Grist. “I don’t really see ice fracture as an optional process that can be excluded from ice sheet models.”

“If the pace of calving we observe in Greenland today someday becomes widespread around the edges of the vastly bigger Antarctic ice sheet, it could cause very fast sea-level rise,” DeConto said. “This was the take home message from our 2016 paper. Based on all the work that has followed, that basic conclusion remains unchanged.”"

We're still waiting for the updated numbers from the DeConto and Pollard study, first promised in early 2019.

The research with Pollard incorporated the IPCC’s Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) into their ice sheet models, comparing the sea level rises associated with the various greenhouse gas emission scenarios that the IPCC uses to compare global circulation models. Their results—with their model including MICI for the first time—showed a meter of sea level rise coming from Antarctica by 2100, which was considerably higher than the likely range of 0.26–0.82m projected in IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (2013). However, DeConto told us in the audience that RCP2.6, a scenario that assumes rapid, successful global efforts to bring down carbon emissions worldwide, greatly reduces the risk of such a large, quick rise in sea level. He noted a “role for policy,” emphasizing that our climate future can still be adjusted through swift and serious policy action.

To my surprise, DeConto then launched into a frank discussion about how the article that resulted from their research was not included in the 2019 IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC), an assessment meant to update world decision makers on exactly the subject matter Pollard and DeConto had been working on. He, and the expert community he is aligned with, had realized that in their models “the climate forcing went too warm, too fast.” DeConto and Pollard immediately went to work fixing the issue but as he put it, the quantification “was not there” in time for SROCC.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: June 22, 2020, 11:43:30 PM »
Don't forget that the oil and gas companies spend a great deal of money lobbying their Congressional representatives for these subsidies.  They also pay people to write articles denigrating renewables and all of the subsidies the government gives the renewable sector.

In the meantime, they've received many orders of magnitude more subsidies, such as the lack of funding for cleaning up their mess, than the renewables sector has received.

Special Report: Millions of abandoned oil wells are leaking methane, a climate menace

<Merged the post with this thread since it needs some policy and solutions. Kassy>

Here's an article about plugging abandoned oil and gas wells in the US.

Should feds plug 'orphan' wells? States offer a warning
Mike Lee, E&E News reporterPublished: Monday, June 22, 2020

The article starts by describing the problems Ohio had in hiring contractors to plug abandoned wells two years ago.  The article fails to mention that most oil and gas service companies were busy drilling new wells; there are many idle firms that could bid on the work now.

Ohio's experience could be a cautionary tale as Congress considers using federal stimulus funds to plug defunct aging oil and gas wells around the country. The idea is being promoted by Democrats and environmental groups as a way to provide jobs for oil field workers during the economic slump and also cut back on the pollution associated with aging wells (E&E Daily, June 2).

"In the face of economic headwinds for the oil industry, the number of orphan wells can only be expected to grow, which will be detrimental to workers, the environment and already budget-constrained states," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) wrote in a letter to the Bureau of Land Management last week. That followed a statement from the New Mexico congressional delegation this month urging Congress to provide more funding on the issue.

State oil and gas regulators, who are most closely involved in tracking and fixing orphan wells, are generally receptive to the idea. The Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, which serves as a trade group for state regulators, sent a letter to Congress this month asking lawmakers to consider spending some of any federal stimulus on orphan wells.

Most states require companies to put up a bond guaranteeing that they'll cover the cost of plugging wells at the end of their productive life. But some Eastern states like Pennsylvania and Ohio were home to decades of production before the bonding rules went into place.

Even now, many states' bond amounts are inadequate anyway. Ohio allows companies to post a $15,000 bond to guarantee an unlimited number of wells. The state's average plugging cost last year was in excess of $100,000 per well.

That makes the idea of plugging wells with federal funds attractive, said Adam Peltz, a senior attorney with the Environmental Defense Fund. Federal money not only would supplement the states' limited resources, it would help reduce pollution and provide blue-collar jobs in largely rural areas.

Ohio's oil and gas division found there were only 29 qualified contractors when the state first tried to expand its plugging program. After some work, the state now has a list of 52 contractors, Vendel said.

Pennsylvania, where the first U.S. oil well was drilled in 1859, has as many as 560,000 orphan wells and spends about $400,000 annually on plugging.

In North Dakota, the state Industrial Commission voted Friday to spend $33 million in funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act on plugging wells. The commission, led by Gov. Doug Burgum (R), approved the idea in part to keep oil workers from leaving the state.

Policy and solutions / Re: Oil and Gas Issues
« on: June 22, 2020, 10:01:26 PM »
Oil demand isn't expected to rebound to pre-Covid levels before 2022, if ever.

What’s Holding Back A Full Recovery In Oil Demand
By Tsvetana Paraskova - Jun 21, 2020

Since oil demand started crashing amid lockdowns to contain the coronavirus, analysts have been trying to predict when demand will return to the pre-crisis levels, throwing in V, U, or L shaped forecasts. There is a growing consensus among major international forecasting agencies that a 'return to normal' oil demand will take longer than anticipated—probably until 2022. Many analysts believe that a V-shaped recovery for total global oil demand is not in the cards.   

While oil demand for road transportation is showing signs of recovery--especially in China, which exited lockdowns first--demand for jet fuel will continue to drag on global oil demand for at least another two years. Permanent changes in lifestyle and possible reduced commuting in developed economies (with work from home now the norm rather than the exception) could also weigh on oil demand. Then there's the recession with high unemployment rates and reduced manufacturing activity, which could also stall the recovery in oil demand.

This year, demand is expected to drop by 8.1 million bpd, the biggest-ever decline, the IEA said in its latest Oil Market Report for June.

While the latest estimate is an improvement from the IEA's forecasts from April (9.3 million bpd drop) and May (8.6 million bpd slump), the first look into 2021 demand is not so encouraging.

Demand is set to recover by 5.7 million bpd next year, according to the IEA. This means that at 97.4 million bpd, global oil demand in 2021 will still be 2.4 million bpd below the 2019 level. Most of the 2.4 million bpd gap in demand between 2019 and 2021 would be due to "the dire situation of the aviation sector," the IEA said.

Uncertainties about oil demand range from a second wave of COVID-19 infections to fewer people commuting to work either because they work from home or are out of work. Even if gasoline and diesel demand recovers soon, jet fuel demand will still take years to return to pre-crisis levels. The global recession is set to reduce industrial activities and fuel demand from the industry. Oil demand recovering to pre-pandemic levels will likely take more than a year and a half. The recovery will not be V-shaped, but it's so uncertain and could be so bumpy that no letter in the alphabet can describe it. 

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