..or, Texas. I’m at the Texas Renewable Energy Association conference in Austin – coming right off the AGU. Probably a little overconfident in my ability to withstand jet lag.

Will start to catch up with postings soon.

Joe Bast: Smooth Reasoning

December 5, 2012

bastcamel

Smooth character, smooth reasoning.

Climate Denier, Tobacco tool, and President of the Heartland Institute, Joe Bast, wrote a daffily miffed, sniffy letter of complaint to the Washington Post, about perceived bias in a recent Post article.

Washington Post:

The article also misrepresented our work. The Heartland Institute is not “skeptical of climate change science.” We are one of its leading supporters, having hosted seven international conferences (with an eighth one taking place in Munich this week) and published a comprehensive survey of the scientific literature in two volumes, with a third volume on its way. We spend more supporting climate science than all but a handful of public policy think tanks.

Finally, The Post reported that we ran a billboard “comparing those who believe in global warming to domestic terrorist Theodore J. Kaczynski.” Also untrue. The billboard simply reported the fact that the infamous Unabomber still believes in man-made global warming, despite the mounting scientific case against it, and asked viewers if they do, too.

I just can’t add anything to that.  Kurt Vonnegut comes to mind.

TreeHugger: 

The latest round of ARPA-E grants was just announced and among the 66 cleantech projects that received funding was GE’s latest wind technology development: fabric wind turbine blades. When I first read this, I was imagining something that looked like sails, but the structure of the blade will remain pretty much the same except instead of fiberglass, a super-strong architectural fabric will be wrapped around the blade frame.

According to GE, this swap will allow for turbine blades that perform just as well, but can be made on site for a much lower cost — up to 40 percent less.

From an energy generation standpoint, the use of fabric, which is lighter than fiberglass, would allow for the production of much longer blades. Longer blades can capture even more of the wind’s energy.

The press release explains,”GE’s research will focus on the use of architectural fabrics, which would be wrapped around a metal spaceframe, resembling a fishbone. Fabric would be tensioned around ribs which run the length of the blade and specially designed to meet the demands of wind blade operations. Conventional wind blades are constructed out of fiberglass, which is heavier and more labor and time-intensive to manufacture.”

General Electric:

· New manufacturing approach could reduce blade production costs by up to 40%

· Would make wind energy as economical as fossil fuels without government subsidies

· Will pave the way to longer blades that exceed 130 meters

NISKAYUNA, NY – November 28, 2012 – In a move that could put wind energy on equal economic footing with traditional fossil fuels, GE (NYSE: GE), Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University (Virginia Tech), and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), will begin work on a project that could fundamentally change the way wind blades are designed, manufactured and installed.

With most of the cost of electricity for wind tied up in the initial capital investments made in the wind turbines themselves, new technology advancements that reduce these costs could substantially lower the overall cost of wind energy.

“GE’s weaving an advanced wind blade that could be the fabric of our clean energy future,” said Wendy Lin, a GE Principal Engineer and leader on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E) project. “The fabric we’re developing will be tough, flexible, and easier to assemble and maintain. It represents a clear path to making wind even more cost competitive with fossil fuels.”

Climate Deal in the Works?

December 3, 2012

https://i2.wp.com/newshour.s3.amazonaws.com/photos/2012/11/26/156958275_blog_main_horizontal.jpg

Bloomberg Business Week:

As leaders in Washington obsess about the fiscal cliff, President Barack Obama is putting in place the building blocks for a climate treaty requiring the first fossil- fuel emissions cuts from both the U.S. and China.

State Department envoy Todd Stern is in Doha this week working to clear the path for an international agreement by 2015. While Obama failed to deliver on his promise to start a cap-and-trade program in his first term, he’s working on policies that may help cut greenhouse gases 17 percent by 2020 in the U.S., historically the world’s biggest polluter.

“We are making good progress, and I think we are on track,” Stern told reporters today in Doha when asked if the U.S. can meet its goal even if Congress doesn’t pass climate legislation this decade.

Obama has moved forward with greenhouse-gas rules for vehicles and new power plants, appliance standards and investment in low-emitting energy sources. He’s also doubled use of renewable power and has called for 80 percent of U.S. electricity to come from “clean” energy sources, including nuclear and natural gas, by 2035.

“The president is laying the foundations for real action on climate change,” Jake Schmidt, who follows international climate policy for the Washington-based Natural Resources Defense Council, said in an interview in Doha. “Whether or not he decides to jump feet first into the international arena, we’ll see.”

sandy12_2

Appears to support what Kerry Emanuel has been saying.

IowaNow:

Tropical storms that make their way into the North Atlantic, and possibly strike the East Coast of the United States, likely will become more intense during the rest of this century.

That’s the prediction of one University of Iowa researcher and his colleague as published in an early online release in the prestigious Journal of Climate, the official publication of the American Meteorological Society.

The study is a compilation of results from some of the best available computer models of climate, according to lead author Gabriele Villarini, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and assistant research engineer at IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering, and his colleague Gabriel Vecchi of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Princeton, N.J.

“We wanted to conduct the study because intense tropical cyclones can harm people and property,” Villarini says. “The adverse and long-lasting influence of such storms recently was demonstrated by the damage Hurricane Sandy created along the East Coast.”

The study itself examines projected changes in the North Atlantic Power Dissipation Index (PDI) using output from 17 state-of-the-art global climate models and three different potential scenarios. The PDI is an index that integrates storm intensity, duration, and frequency.

“We found that the PDI is projected to increase in the 21st century in response to both greenhouse gas increases and reductions in particulate pollution over the Atlantic over the current century. By relating these results to other findings in a paper we published May 13, 2012 in the journal Nature Climate Change, we found that, while the number of storms is not projected to increase, their intensity is,” he says.

“Moreover, our results indicate that as more carbon dioxide is emitted, the stronger the storms get, while scenarios with the most aggressive carbon dioxide mitigation show the smallest increase in intensity,” he says.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/83/Pretty_flamingos_-_geograph.org.uk_-_578705.jpg

International Renewable Energy Agency:

Renewable energy has become the most cost-effective way to generate electric power for hundreds of millions of people worldwide who are not on the grid, a new IRENA policy brief reveals. Renewable energy has also become the least-cost option for extending grid supply in areas with suitable resources, such as sun and wind.

The findings serve as a wake-up call to policy-makers on the declining cost of renewables.

“A renewable revolution is underway,” says Dolf Gielen, IRENA’s Innovation Director. “Recent years have seen consistent, sometimes dramatic, falls in the cost of electricity from renewables – making it the cheapest option off-grid, and even on-grid in places with plentiful resources.”

“The message is clear: renewable energy today is often the cheapest option to meet rising demand for electricity – even without subsidies. It is also healthier, and better for the environment. A renewable energy future is now bankable, and there are further cost reductions to come.”

Highlights of the IRENA publication, “ Renewable Power Generation Costs” include:

  • Biomass power generation has become competitive wherever low-cost agricultural or forestry waste is available, with the most competitive projects producing electricity for as little as USD 0.06/kWh.
  • Concentrating solar power, in which mirrors focus light over a large area into a central generator, has seen costs drop to as little as USD 0.14/kWh.
  • Hydropower, currently the world’s largest source of renewable energy, today often provides the lowest cost electricity of any generation source.
  • Solar photovoltaics (PV), which has seen rapid development over the past two years, is set to achieve grid parity with residential electricity tariffs in many locations around the world. PV costs typically range from USD 0.16 to 0.36/kWh.
  • The most competitive onshore wind power sites can deliver electricity costs at as little as USD 0.04/kWh. (note: the best great plains sites in the US are down to 0.03, with more savings expected – PS)

By way of comparison, electricity generated from fossil fuel typically costs between USD 0.06 and 0.12/kWh in OECD countries – excluding the cost of transmission and distribution.

Description:

Journalist Osha Gray Davidson explains the rapid growth of renewable energy in Germany, the roots of the German sustainability movement, why there is more market stability in renewable energy and what the United States can do to follow the German lead.

Guess I’ll be able to give a first hand report. Stay tuned.

Scientific American:

Editor’s note (11/30/12): The article will appear in the January 2013 issue of Scientific American. We are making it freely available now because of the flooding underway in California.

The intense rainstorms sweeping in from the Pacific Ocean began to pound central California on Christmas Eve in 1861 and continued virtually unabated for 43 days. The deluges quickly transformed rivers running down from the Sierra Nevada mountains along the state’s eastern border into raging torrents that swept away entire communities and mining settlements. The rivers and rains poured into the state’s vast Central Valley, turning it into an inland sea 300 miles long and 20 miles wide. Thousands of people died, and one quarter of the state’s estimated 800,000 cattle drowned. Downtown Sacramento was submerged under 10 feet of brown waterfilled with debris from countless mudslides on the region’s steep slopes. California’s legislature, unable to function, moved to San Francisco until Sacramento dried out—six months later. By then, the state was bankrupt.

https://i0.wp.com/www.scientificamerican.com/media/inline/megastorms-could-down-massive-portions-of-california_1.jpgA comparable episode today would be incredibly more devastating. The Central Valley is home to more than six million people, 1.4 million of them in Sacramento. The land produces about $20 billion in crops annually, including 70 percent of the world’s almonds—and portions of it have dropped 30 feet in elevation because of extensive groundwater pumping, making those areas even more prone to flooding. Scientists who recently modeled a similarly relentless storm that lasted only 23 days concluded that this smaller visitation would cause $400 billion in property damage and agricultural losses. Thousands of people could die unless preparations and evacuations worked very well indeed.

Was the 1861–62 flood a freak event? It appears not. New studies of sediment deposits in widespread locations indicate that cataclysmic floods of this magnitude have inundated California every two centuries or so for at least the past two millennia. The 1861–62 storms also pummeled the coastline from northern Mexico and southern California up to British Columbia, creating the worst floods in recorded history. Climate scientists now hypothesize that these floods, and others like them in several regions of the world, were caused by atmospheric rivers, a phenomenon you may have never heard of. And they think California, at least, is overdue for another one.