Get Energy Smart! NOW!

Blogging for a sustainable energy future.

Get Energy Smart!  NOW! header image 1

Irma: considering the worst …

September 7th, 2017 · No Comments

The damage reports are coming in from Caribbean islands and the warnings are mounting for the Continental United States: Hurricane Irma could drive up the entire Atlantic Coast of Florida, a category 5 hurricane strike on Miami and the homes/work places of millions of American citizens.  Prior to the first rain drops hitting Miami, people are already bandying about that this could turn out (seen predictions of odds from 5-20%) as the most expensive (human-climate enhanced/driven) natural disaster in U.S. history — potentially on the order of $300 billion of direct impacts (without, for example, dealing with the financial impacts of the quite possible (likely) collapse of coastal real estate in Florida if not across the United States and even globally).

(update: courtesy of Climate Central)

While some might (secretly and/or openly) celebrate that Donald “global warming is a Chinese Hoax” Trump’s Mar-A-Lago lies directly in the storm’s path, the catastrophic nature of the potential impacts are nothing to joke about.

Let’s think about potential Storm Surge impacts.  Some people are bandying about that this could, dependent on many factors, reach a 15 foot storm surge. [Update: NWS is predicting 7-10 foot storm surge in Miami area; 5-8 foot Palm Beach) Just how much impact might this have?  Let’s use Climate Central’s sea-level rise tool to judge this.

First, what if it is a minimal storm and only has a two-foot storm surge.

A 2 foot sea level rise and Miami area http://sealevel.climatecentral.org/

Not much impact to see …

Let’s go, however, to the maximum that Climate Central allows: a 10 foot sea level rise.

The Miami area and a 10-foot sea level rise

[UPDATE: Climate Central has visualizations of potential storm surge impacts. Rather daunting in terms of potential risks.]

See all that blue?  Essentially all of southern Florida would be under water with 10 feet of sea-level rise (SLR). While SLR is far from a perfect surrogate for storm surge impacts (storm surges are generally geographically limited (not that whole region) and temporarily short, unlike SLR’s (on human scale) permanence), it provides a window for understanding just how far saltwater might reach if Irma’s impacts on Florida are as bad as some fear it could be.

Consider this, the National Weather Service is already warning of “possible devastating impacts across south Florida …” with “locations [potentially] uninhabitable for weeks or months”.

The nation is being struck by a series of “unprecedented”, “never seen before”, “record-breaking” #climate catastrophes From Sea to Shining Sea.

The bill is mounting — in human lives, in money, in stressing society, in … — and Irma could add a massive increase to the mounting bill.

Those fighting climate action, denying climate change reality, often argue that ‘we can’t afford’ to invest perhaps $100-$200B per year to mitigate climate risks (with huge returns outside reduced risk) while we see ever mounting costs accruing from climate-related disasters and challenges.

Just from current catastrophes,

  • Harvey: $150B-$250B+
  • California Fires/Heat Wave: Unknown
  • Oregon/Montana/Washington State Heat Waves/Fires: Unknown
  • Irma: Potentially over $300B.

And, of course, this is ‘just’ counting direct US catastrophic events — ignoring disastrous situations around the world

The bills are coming in from our failure(s) to #ActOnClimate. Those bills will continue to mount … even as the imperative to #ActOnClimate mounts. Action — whether clean energy, energy efficiency, land-use changes, and/or — is required and the only path we have to gain any prospect of controlling how large tomorrow’s climate bills will become.

==============

UPDATEs:

Storm surge risk

Potential Irma cost. Over $1 Trillion?

And, I thought $300B sounded high …

 

→ No CommentsTags: Energy

The contrast stuns me/should stun you: Climate Catastrophes vs Fossil Foolish Promotion

September 7th, 2017 · 2 Comments

Whether purposeful or not, Donald Trump manages to provide stunning, jaw-dropping moments and actions at a pace impossible for a reasonable person to track while attempting to maintain anything close to a normal life.  Amid outrageous actions (like against the Dreamers & DACA), immoral and despicable commentary (such as emphasizing those “very fine people” who marched under Nazi flags in Charlottesville), criminal actions (Emoluments Clause, anyone), outrageous twitter distractions (commentary against media), etc, etc, etc, there are many items that can fly by without notice.

How many, in the media world and punditry, has picked up and run with a stunning contrast yesterday. As fossil-fueled climate catastrophes strike the United States “From Sea to Shining Sea”, Donald Trump flew out to North Dakota to speak at an oil refinery!

Bill Mckibben, in a tweet last night, sought to shine a spotlight on this the incredible (probably unconscious) disconnect:

While a rational and competent President, who put the interests of the nation and Americans above his own self-interest and self-absorption, would be focused on monitoring these disastrous situations across the nation and assuring the most effective Federal response to assistance to save lives and speed recovery, Trump is off promoting tax concepts that would (further) enrich the richest of society at the expense of everyone else (both today’s and tomorrow’s Americans).

When the science is (and has been for decades) eminently clear and incredible strong linking the burning of fossil fuels with climate change AND that human-driven (fossil-fueled) climate change creates circumstances for catastrophes and worsens them, the climate-science denying (“Chinese Hoax) “narcissistic maniac” occupying the White House is off promoting fossil foolish intensification of our use of oil, natural gas, and coal: e.g., Team Trump is working hard(est?) to foster conditions for even more and even worse climate catastrophes in the coming years and decades.

That rational and competent President, as well, would be asking the question:

  • (how) Can we reduce the risks of such catastrophes?
    • Drive toward a lower carbon (negative emissions) economy at an accelerated pace.
    • Adopt policies that foster better land use and agricultural practices (that lower carbon impacts, reduced methane emissions, etc …)
    • And …
  • (how) Can we reduce the impacts of future natural disasters — recognizing that human-driven climate change creates conditions for new “unprecedented” events and severity events for decades to come (even with the most aggressive efforts to act on climate)?
    • Learn lessons and create resiliency in our society (built environment and otherwise);
    • Invest so that mitigation, resiliency, and adaptation investments are optimized so that resiliency and adaptation investments, as much as possible, also contribute to climate change mitigation.
    • NOTE:  Houston’s medical system and its operations during Hurricane Harvey, as a case study, provide a partial template and ideas for this.

As Bill McKibben highlighted in yesterday’s stunning contrast between climate catastrophes and fossil-fuel promotion, as we are already aware in so many ways, Donald Trump is not that rational and competent President.

UPDATE:  That contrast is even more stunning if you have the strength to listen to Trump’s speech.

 

→ 2 CommentsTags: climate change · Donald Trump

#Trump’s @EPA to #Flint: let the #bedbugs bite (to scientists: don’t study/mention #climate change)

September 5th, 2017 · 1 Comment

As if Trump weren’t bad enough,

The United States is currently experiencing a nightmarish epidemic of disgusting blood sucking parasites, and no, I am not talking about our politicians.  There is a full blown bed bug epidemic happening all across America and it just seems to get worse with each passing year.

What is Team Trump’s response to this epidemic? Especially when it comes to environmental justice and poor communities?  Put a political hack in charge of reviewing all scientifically-reviewed and approved Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) research grants who then nixes

 a $20,000 award to the Midwest Pesticide Action Center to train Flint residents on how to combat bedbugs.

bedbug infestations have spread over time in the Michigan city — which has grappled with lead-contaminated drinking water since 2014 — and the center’s past sessions attracted packed audiences. “People really do need this,” she said. “For low-income communities, it’s a really desperate situation.”

Just $20k, who cares … and, well, so what …?

John Konkus reviews every award the agency gives out, along with every grant solicitation before it is issued. According to both career and political employees, Konkus has told staff that he is on the lookout for “the double C-word” — climate change — and repeatedly has instructed grant officers to eliminate references to the subject in solicitations.

Who is this Konkus? The Deputy Associate Administrator for Public Affairs at EPA with a career of Republican political (including lots with Trump’s presidential campaign) and administrative work.  As to his academic background to be reviewing literally $billions of EPA grants?  A BA in political science from the University of Maryland.

The double c word” is clearly in the cross-hairs (though there is also research work being suppressed about impacts of mining, pesticides, … along with life-saving grants supporting, for example, deployment of clean stoves in developing nations) of eminent scientific authority Konkus.

Seemingly ages ago (with all the Trump crises du jour) but less than two weeks ago, Dr. Jennifer Bowen broke into the open that EPA staff were telling scientists who had received grants to remove “climate change” from their abstracts.

At least some reacted, ‘well, she was awarded the grant, why bother to edit out the words’ (not asserting Weinstein is one of those) and that she shouldn’t do so because “this is what censorship looks like”—that she should simply ‘resist’ this odious recommendation.

With the news of Konkus’ focus on “the double C word”, it does look like the staff workers were seeking to protect Bowen’s (and others’) research from the Konkus political hack hacking.  That email, in fact, might actually best be seen as ‘deep state’ efforts to protect substantive, valuable science funding from ‘the double C-word’ hack hacking.

While the nation faces climate catastrophes from coast-to-coast, the worst catastrophe of all might just be what Donald Trump and the GOP are doing in Washington, DC.

[Read more →]

→ 1 CommentTags: EPA · global warming deniers · science · science denial · Trump Administration

#Climate catastrophes striking “From sea to shining sea …”

September 4th, 2017 · 6 Comments

“From sea to shining sea …” America the Beautiful tugs at the hearts of all patriots …

At this time, America the Beautiful is facing a painful reality of being flooded, scorched, and threatened from ‘sea to shining sea’ by climate catastrophes.

Something that all these events share … climate signals, signs (with scientific basis) that human-driven climate change is exacerbating the situation.

Climate catastrophes are happening not just From Sea to Shining Sea but across all the seas — massive flooding in South Asia (with thousands dead and millions displaced), mudslides in West Africa, drought in Italy and massive fires in Portugal, record low-levels of Arctic ice, melting Greenland, …

All too often, commentators will argue that “we must act now to avoid catastrophe …”  Looking at flooded Houston and burning Los Angeles, it is far past time to face reality: we are already in catastrophe and feeling catastrophic impacts. (Consider what you might have thought would be ‘catastrophe’ in terms of climate impacts decades ago ..) Across the globe, human-driven climate change (AGW) is exacerbating, accelerating, worsening, amplifying weather events to make hard situations into horrible. And, the situation will get worse — no matter what — due to latent impacts (the time delay) from the pollution we’ve already pumped into the atmosphere.

What we — humanity — does have is a choice to act to reduce just how catastrophic those events and the future situation(s) will be, to reduce the risks of total calamity for human society.

Even as the occupant of the Oval Office declares climate change a “Chinese Hoax” and fills the US government with climate science deniers, reality is reality …

As to reality

While it is far past time to #ActOnClimate,

It is time to #ActOnClimate.

 

 

→ 6 CommentsTags: Energy

For @NASA, @RealDonaldTrump proposes #climate #science denier

September 2nd, 2017 · No Comments

In another Friday dump, Team Trump’s choice for NASA:Representative Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), a true climate zombie.  Here is material from his statement that called on President Obama to cut climate science funding to move it to weather research.

 

global temperatures stopped rising 10 years ago.

False.

This is such classic twisted denial that Skeptical Science created the “escalator” gif to provide context.

https://www.skepticalscience.com/graphics.php?g=47 One of the most common misunderstandings amongst climate contrarians is the difference between short-term noise and long-term signal. This animation shows how the same temperature data (green) that is used to determine the long-term global surface air warming trend of 0.16°C per decade (red) can be used inappropriately to "cherrypick" short time periods that show a cooling trend simply because the endpoints are carefully chosen and the trend is dominated by short-term noise in the data (blue steps). Isn

Global temperature changes, when they exist, correlate with Sun output and ocean cycles.

Okay, I’m lazy. I’ll stick with Skeptical Science and climate science denial by the numbers. This is filled with multiple misnomers and misleading games..  First, while there are throughout geologic history, portions of the temperature records that “correlate with Sun output and ocean cycles”, this is a path toward misleading: no climate scientist asserts that natural change and natural cycles don’t exist, we are concerned about humanity’s ‘thumb’ on the scale.  Right now, as we are seeing ever hotter global temperatures, Bridenstine’s ‘it’s the sun’ (Denialist item #3) is simply false as “the sun’s energy has decreased since the 1980s but the Earth keeps warming fasterthan before.”

During the Medieval Warm Period from 800 to 1300 A.D.—long before cars, power plants, or the Industrial Revolution—temperatures were warmer than today.

Denialist point #27: “”Medieval Warm Period was warmer” when, actually, “globally averaged temperatures are higher now than in medieval times”.

During the Little Ice Age from 1300 to 1900 A.D., temperatures were cooler.

Sigh, #47. “The main drivers of the Little Ice Age cooling were decreased solar activity and increased volcanic activity.  These factors cannot account for the global warming observed over the past 50-100 years. Furthermore, it is physically incorrect to state that the planet is simply “recovering” from the Little Ice Age.”

Neither of these periods were caused by any human activity

Okay, not going to address that because this is sort of misdirection since the points he is referring to are falsehoods.  However, something to consider, there is scientific work (papers, studies) suggesting human impacts on the climate going back 10,000 years or more. (Not expert at this, but here is somewhere to start.)

If you’re visual and just ach to see Bridenstine’s climate science denial in action,

There is so much clear on his  denial. See https://www.ofa.us/climate-change-deniers/jim-bridenstine-oklahoma/  for his clearly ‘contrarian’ view: pic.twitter.com/bDvsAF4Hen

Here is  promoting  denial on the House floor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUcsAFnwC7k  He also lies about funding lines.

Trump doesn’t do things cuz they are hard.
He does them cuz they are stupid:
Anti-Science Hack will Ru(i)n NASA 

[Read more →]

→ No CommentsTags: climate zombies · Trump · Trump Administration

#HurricaneHarvey & the #HoustonFloods proves #climate adaptation investments can pay off …

August 31st, 2017 · 1 Comment

Scenes of the Cajun Navy, CNN rescues, Waffle House and other businesses acting decently to great, and basic human decency (even heroism) seem to dominate ‘the’ story as to helping Houstonians amid and after Hurricane Harvey’s (still probably inconceivable for all of us who were under its) 50 inches of rain.

Despite this compelling (and meaningful) stories, a basic truth is that major institutions bear the major brunt and role both in preparing for and dealing with disaster situations.  Amid the serious (and often valid) discussions of how Houston’s free-wheeling land development and Texas political elite’s climate-science denial’s damaging of efforts to reduce vulnerabilities, there are ways in which parts of Houston showed real learning and invested (often with meaningful Federal (both Bush and Obama Administration) support to be better prepared to face climate-driven/enhanced catastrophes like Hurricane Harvey.  Houston’s hospitals and medical system might prove to be the strongest example of how learning from expert analysis (of disasters and risks) and investments based on that learning help society better deal with climate impacts.

Upfront: Before jumping into the discussion of Houston’s hospitals, some basic truth:

Even with news of chemical plant explosions, some news from Houston shows that climate adaptation investments can work and enable resiliency in the face of climate-intensified disasters. Example #1: Houston’s medical system.

Previous storm weather events created havoc in Houston’s medical services.

Houston’s medical complex … was swamped by Tropical Storm Allison in 2001. That storm caused a blackout, inundated medical center streets with up to 9 feet of water, and forced evacuations of patients, some airlifted from rooftops by helicopter. Damage totaled more than $2 billion.

Consider that damage figure.  That is, roughly, one percent of the damage totals being bandied about for Hurricane Harvey’s impacts. (Today, saw estimate of $150B — have to think that this will increase — though perhaps that is solely Federal aid request level.)

Houston’s hospitals and the overall medical system didn’t, however, simply cash disaster-relief checks for $2B (and boost bonuses) but did what good medical professionals do: they considered what had happened, sought to learn lessons, and took action based on recommendations from those evaluations.

After a review of the area’s flood weaknesses, member hospitals moved their electrical vaults and backup generators out of basements to areas above flood level. Scores of existing buildings were fitted with flood gates, and new buildings were built surrounded by berms. Underground tunnels were outfitted with 100 submarine doors, some 12 feet tall. The $756 million bill was paid by the Federal Emergency Management Agency; millions more were spent on the public works projects.

The result? Some hospitals evacuated, but Houston’s medical world mostly withstands Harvey. While hospitals reduced operations (stopped outpatient services), evacuated some patients, and had to deal with challenges like reduced food services,

Disruptive as such changes have been, doctors, health-care administrators, and the leaders of the regional network say Houston’s vaunted web of hospitals has generally come through the storm in far better condition than during the last massive rains to deliver a direct hit.

During Allison, “Memorial Hermann, for one, had no power because its basement-level generator had been flooded, and staff members were working by flashlight and ventilating patients by hand.The pills in hospital pharmacies were wet and ruined. Medical equipment shorted out. The medical center’s research laboratories suffered $2 million in losses.” And, even months later, the hospital warned the community

“Drink milk, not booze, on this Fourth of July weekend, because if you get into a wreck or get in a fight, we have no way to take care of you.”

During the ongoing massive flooding and catastrophe?  The hospital is able to take care of patients — even if stressed by the realities of one of the nation’s largest (climate-enhanced) natural disasters.  As per the view from another hospital’s windows,

when William McKeon, the Texas Medical Center’s president, looked outside during the height of the storm, “We saw the water flowing and the streets looking like rivers when the bayou crested, but the lights were all on,” he said. “The people were inside, were caring for patients as they do every day.”

Without question, the climate adaptation investments have paid for themselves — in this one instance — in terms of reduced damage costs.  It seems quite likely, though harder to calculate with assurance, that they have paid off in terms of saved lives as well.

And, Houston’s medical community already has its eyes on learning from Harvey to better prepare for tomorrow. “Following its protocol, the Catastrophic Medical Operations Center will conduct an after-study to compile evidence of how hospitals weathered the storm.”

In conclusion …

While must emphasize climate mitigation (reducing pollution), the reality is that humanity has driven a changed climate and we are already facing (and will, no matter what, face more) impacts from those changes. Thus, climate adaptation investments are necessary.  Houston’s medical community’s performance during Hurricane Harvey proves that they pay off and provide a real return on investment.

NOTE: If Houston’s Medical System has not already, as part of its investment streams, started investing in climate mitigation (that at least intersects with adaptation), perhaps they will do so.  What are examples of potential investment opportunities that meet this criteria?

  • Energy efficiency: cut demands for energy services through, for example, LED lighting and control systems … this can save $s directly, reduce pollution from energy production, while also helping adapt with greater resiliency during stressed power situations/outages.
  • On-site renewable energy: such as solar panels over parking lots (yes, they wouldn’t be producing much as the rain fell …) which, again, leads to reduced energy costs and pollution loads while providing on-site generation and resiliency if the grid is disrupted during a climate-driven catastrophe;
  • Green roofs and other ‘green’ methods to help reduce energy costs AND absorb rainfall to reduce runoffs. No, such investments wouldn’t soak in a 50 inch rainfall, but widespread green roofing could have reduced by the equivalent of a few inches the runoff from those roofs.
  • Etc …

 

 

 

 

 

→ 1 CommentTags: climate change · economics

“And it confounds the #science”: @RealDonaldTrump tweeting, #climate denial

August 29th, 2017 · No Comments

Amid the need to response and help people suffering the massive real-time #climate impacts in Houston (and Mumbai/SouthAsia and …), a telling, on-target, and eminently toe-tapping perspective on @RealDonaldTrump from The Parody Project.

With this song, the Parody Project truly hits it out of the park for me.

  • Lyrics capture Trump all-too-well
    • “It’s time for him to tweet again, but first he’ll have to check in with Fox News, cause that the only place he gets his views. That’s how things get planted in his brain, where they remain’.
    • “And it confounds the science. The problem is that he’s not alone, he tweets to people on his phone, that global warming is a giant hoax perpetuated by the liberal folks …”
    • … listen/watch, it’s worth it …
  • Music close to core identity
    • We all, of course, have our own ‘musical lineages’, what we’ve listened to and love … for many of us, certainly for me, Simon and Garfunkel is well within that — speaking to me (us) on so many levels.
    • I grew up on their songs, had them on vinyl, on cd, and now digital.  Just last week, my eldest, youngest, and I listened (repeatedly) to ‘Sounds of Silence’ (along with other songs) en route ‘going back to university’ with a side-detour for eclipse.

Shareable music that, well, could well be useful #SciComm(science communication) about how Trump/GOP ‘confound the science’.

If you are ready for more, “Lies, lies, lies, lies, lies …” (“The Tweeter” parody of “The Boxer”) also highly recommended:

  • “Lie, lie, lie … when he tweets, you know its probably a lie …”

PS: Re Mumbai:

On opposite sides of planet,  inundated by  by Monsoon. Not just signs, reality of changed/changing https://twitter.com/AssaadRazzouk/status/902494093808476160 

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Mumbai Facing Historic Flood As
City of 18 Million Pounded by 9 Times Its Usual Monsoon Rain

Almost as if the climate is … changing

[Read more →]

→ No CommentsTags: Energy

Systems Power: Three thoughts for Virginia’s next governor

August 17th, 2017 · Comments Off on Systems Power: Three thoughts for Virginia’s next governor

Energy and climate issues are a prominent part of Virginia’s 2017 campaign season, perhaps more than any time in the past.  From fossil-foolish pipelines to corporate donations to potential economic development opportunities, there is more energy about the discussion of energy in a Virginian election year than perhaps any time in the past.

Not surprisingly, the differences between the two candidates for governor are stark, with Republican “Enron Ed” Gillespie given minimal (at best) acknowledgment of climate change (not outright denying like so many other (Virginia) Republicans — what a low bar to reach) without any example of how he would address its risks/opportunities. While far from a passionate Climate Hawk, the Democratic Party nominee, Ralph Northam, clearly understands and respects climate science and proposes a number of policies to mitigate and adapt to climate changes realities.

While Northam discusses climate change and has proposed some steps (unlike his opponent) to help address it, clearly Ralph Northam can be more aggressive in those measures … and with steps that address climate reality while improving Virginians’ health, improving Virginia school systems’ performance, fostering job growth and the development of a stronger 21st century workforce/work environment, reducing costs (for citizens, businesses, government), boosting economic development, and improving Virginia’s image in the nation and internationally

The reality of 21st century opportunities and challenges is that they are intertwined: systems-of-systems where understanding and emphasizing those interconnections and interactions can lead to far more valuable outcomes.  Staying again, for convenience sake, solely within the campaign website, it is hard to see where or how Ralph Northam emphasizes any of this.

My top concern space is climate — and the environmental, energy, technology, societal, business practice, etc. arenas associated with it. One of the notable elements over more than a decade related to climate/environment policy/discussion are serious efforts to move past a stove-piped understanding of these issues. The simplest construct is that it is NOT environment vs. economy but Environment AND Economy.

The intertwining and reinforcing nature of linking environment AND economy  are seriously interconnected spaces, where smart policies/proposals could offer serious payoffs for Virginia and, in fact, the Northam campaign’s electoral prospects.  Here are three examples of tangible examples of systems-of-systems environment/economy proposals that Ralph Northam can – and should -embrace/promote.

  • Greening Schools
    • Greening schools might be the most cost-effective path toward improving school performance. In fact, it might be the only educational achievement-enhancing path that is also “profitable” (due to energy and operational cost benefits) even without considering the secondary (job creation, student/teacher health) and tertiary (pollution levels, capacity building for energy efficiency and other ‘green’ across the country) benefits.
    • Note that:
      • A ‘greening schools’ program can fit strongly with Northam’s STEAM concepts, create jobs, help address environmental justice issues and economic disparity (with additional greening support as a path to help improve educational performance in less-wealthy districts), improve energy resiliency, improve health, reduce pollution, and save taxpayers’ money.
      • Improving K-12 educational achievement is a top-notch path for improving economic performance (from attractiveness to businesses to job creation to …) and, again, a major program to green schools could secure these payoffs even while saving money.
  • Leveraging VW settlement funds for a PHEV/EV School Bus program
    • VW’s diesel fraud led to a major settlement — which includes $87M for the Commonwealth “to fund environmental improvement and air pollution reduction projects.” That is a targeted “trust fund for use on projects to improve the environment by reducing air pollution in the transportation sector.”
    • Virginia’s school buses are an excellent target for this fund.  School buses are fuel hogs, spew diesel fumes, and worsen student/public health.  Transitioning to plug-in hybrid electric school buses and electric school buses would have tremendous payoffs in terms of reduced pollution (from cancer-causing particulates to CO2 to noise), reduced damage to student (and public) health, improved grid stability, emergency response value, and financial savings.
      • Notes:
        • Dominion Power and other Virginia electric utilities should be supportive of such a program as it translates to increased electricity demand (while reducing diesel demands)
        • A strong program could create numerous jobs: Virginia, as a driver in PHESB/ESB introduction (that would drive down prices due to economies of scale), could demand suppliers (manufacturers) have work content (set up facilities) in the Commonwealth.  And, those facilities could end up exporting buses to other states — after Virginia’s program has create enough demand to drive down costs via economies of scale.
  • Championing a major acceleration of Virginia offshore wind:
    • For those of us who closely watch the energy domain, the dramatic price falls in offshore wind have been a pleasant surprise over the past few years.
      • Seriously, I do not recall a conversation from the early 2010s that postulated any offshore wind project delivering at below 10 cents per kWh (might not have been in the right conversations but …) and, well, we are now seeing hard bids for well under that in Europe.
      • Key players in offshore wind are bidding into projects in the United States … able to take their lessons from Europe and apply them here.
    • Virginia hasn’t been the “go-to place” for offshore wind for multiple reasons:
      • cheap electricity rates;
      • lukewarm (at best) Dominion Energy engagement;
      • no mandatory Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) or carbon price; etc.
    • Virginia can/should be a lead offshore wind energy player.
      • The dramatic price drops in wind power, along with the burgeoning programs up the coast, should help to change this in terms of Virginia government priority.
      • Among other things, offshore wind power development would help secure the Tidewater region (with its excellent harbor, extensive shipbuilding/manufacturing capacity, etc …) as the nation’s (or at least the East Coast’s) leading industrial/logistical support hub for what will likely be a booming industry for years/decades to come.

These are just three examples of environment AND economy proposals, with tremendous benefits for Virginians and Virginia, that Ralph Northam can — and should — embrace. Showing that he “gets” the environment/economic interaction (rather than opposition or separation), along with substantive proposals for action in these veins is a way for Ralph Northam to generate enthusiasm in this Virginian voter, and possibly many others as well.

Comments Off on Systems Power: Three thoughts for Virginia’s next governorTags: PHEV

The power of solar and oil …

August 16th, 2017 · Comments Off on The power of solar and oil …

The decades-long stark separation of ‘transportation’ and ‘stationary’ energy markets is breaking down in multiple ways. While one of the prime ways is transportation electrification (rail and automotive), there has been significant growth in the use of liquid fuels for electricity generation: primarily in oil producing nations but also areas with inadequate to non-existent electricity services.

Solar power’s plunging prices — due primarily to economies of scale and the related/intertwined innovations (technical, policy, business practices …) due to increased solar business — are on the cusp of having significant impact on that intertwining of stationary and mobile environments. This includes solar on Indian railroads and automotive roofs (primarily to support auxiliary demands) as well as solar displacement of diesel electricity generation.

The just-announced Kuwait deal is a significant milestone in this development.

Kuwait is putting out a tender for a 1 gigawatt solar farm with an expected price point about $1.20 per watt (or $1.2 billion). This project, to be competed by 2020, is expected to “save burning 5.2 million barrels of oil a year” for electricity generation.  At a relatively low estimate of $50 per barrel (anywhere from 10% to >30% below analyst forecasts …), that ‘saved’ oil will have a value of $260 million on the world market.  Thus, all things being equal, Kuwait will have a full return on investment for the solar plant in under five years. And, an ROI that will keep paying back year-after-year.

While this sort of rapid assured payback for a major unsubsidized solar project was close to inconceivable just a few years ago, it is a clear sign post of where the world energy market is and is headed: solar systems are ever-more frequently a pure high-value investment even without considering ‘externality’ benefits.

As to the Kuwait project, any calls of this as somehow ‘green’ should be — at best — muted (if not silenced).  Kuwait isn’t suggesting that this solar project will somehow keep these 100,000 barrels per day from being burned and contributing to our climate change challenges.  This is displacement — rather than burning for electricity, the hydrocarbons will be used for petrochemical projects and/or sold into the world oil market.

This project will add roughly the equivalent of a good sized well (about 14,100 barrels per day) to the available oil supply. This oil will contribute to, writ large, lowering oil prices and contributing to oil price stability.  While, in near term, this is a ‘positive’ good in terms of economic development, it is also — by definition — will be a (very minor) contributing factor to undermining movement toward a clean-energy future.

That ‘undermining’, however, is overwhelmed by the economy of scale issue — another $1 billion in solar work and another gigawatt deployed. That is another move forward in the ever-increasing solar economies of scale which is driving innovation that is helping to drive down prices that contributes to ever-lower solar pricing.

While Kuwait’s solar doesn’t displace oil, the value of that produced oil will be lower as ever-cheaper solar power increases the economic viability and attractiveness of electric transportation options.

Comments Off on The power of solar and oil …Tags: economics · oil · solar

#AlternativeFacts from @RealDonaldTrump about #Gas prices

July 4th, 2017 · Comments Off on #AlternativeFacts from @RealDonaldTrump about #Gas prices

Amid the mania of Trump tweeting, this one passed millions of computer screens on the 4th of July

Donald J. Trump 

Gas prices are the lowest in the U.S. in over ten years! I would like to see them go even lower.

Oh, the pain …

There is an old adage: a lie goes halfway around the world before the truth gets out of bed.

It is painful trying to chase down and refute deceit — far more hear and absorb the deceit than ever hear the truthful refutation.

And, when the deceiver occupies the Oval Office and has the megaphone of a (bot-heavy) massive Twitter account …

Was about to chase down some truth in the vigil of chasing that lie halfway around the world when this one crossed my tweet stream:

Gas prices are the lowest in the U.S. in over ten years! I would like to see them go even lower.

Thank you, Richard Hine, for saving me the time to track down the data.

Some points from the Energy Information Administration data about gas prices across the nation.

  • Feb 2016: $1.78 per gallon
  • Dec 2008: $1.72 per gallon
  • June 2017: $2.37 per gallon

[Read more →]

Comments Off on #AlternativeFacts from @RealDonaldTrump about #Gas pricesTags: Energy