Offshore Wind Begins US Take-Off

July 29, 2015

offshorewindNow that offshore wind has a foothold in the US, it will begin the same price drop that has made solar power a game changer in so much of the country.

What a lot of renewable bashers did not get 7 or 8 years ago is that, solar did not have to be the least-cost producer to get started – it just had to outcompete the most expensive conventional power out there, – which is peak power from diesel generators and gas peaker plants – some of the most expensive imaginable sources. (sort of like that old joke about out-running the bear)
Once solar cracked the peak market (which occurs conveniently during the sunniest part of the day), the logic of markets and mass production took over, and the price slide went into overdrive.

Now the same phenomenon will take hold with offshore wind – which already employs 60,000 people in Europe.

MSN Money:

High winds and expensive electricity make Block Island a good site for the first U.S. offshore wind farm. For the same reason, Long Island may be next.

Deepwater Wind LLC last week began towing the first of five massive steel frameworks to a site off Rhode Island’s Atlantic coast. When complete next year, the 30-megawatt wind farm will sell power for 24.4 cents a kilowatt-hour.

While that is almost tripe the 8.5 cent levelized cost for wind turbines installed on land, the project is expected to lower electricity rates by 40 percent for residentso f Bloc Island, a popular vacation destination that’s powered primarily with imported diesel fuel.

“You’ve got a unique situation with Block Island,” said Jim Bennett, renewable energy program manager wt the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the U.S Energy Department charged with leasing sites for offshore wind farms.

Wind turbines on land produce some of the cheapest energy available. Installing them at sea is more difficult and much more costly. That’s hindered the emergence of U.S. offshore wiind power.

The ‘extremely high’ electricity rates on Block Island will help absorb much of the project’s 250 million dollar cost, said Jesse Broehl, a senior research analyst at Navigant Research in Boulder, Colorado.

The econoics work because of “high energy demand and high-priced electricity coincident with strong offshore wind resources along the eastern seaboard,” Broehl said.

Harford Courant:

NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — Construction has begun off Rhode Island’s coast on the nation’s first offshore wind farm, a milestone that federal and state officials say will help the fledgling U.S. industry surge ahead.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said Monday that lenders, regulators and stakeholders can now see a path forward.

“It’s great to witness a pioneering moment in U.S. history,” she said during a boat tour of the site. “We are learning from this in what we do elsewhere. I think it will help the country understand the potential that exists here.”

Deepwater Wind is building a five-turbine wind farm off Block Island, Rhode Island, which it expects to power 17,000 homes as early as next year. It began attaching the first of the steel foundations to the ocean floor Sunday. The first one touching the seabed is known in the industry as the “first steel in the water

WindPower Engineering:

The potential for offshore wind power generation in the U.S. is staggering. At a projected 4,223 gigawatts (GW) of electric generating potential (with the Ohio waters of Lake Erie alone accounting for more than 50 GW of that power), offshore wind offers a viable, untapped opportunity for large-scale clean energy projects that produce zero emissions in operation, consume no water, and displace the generation from some of our nation’s dirtiest power plants.

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58 Responses to “Offshore Wind Begins US Take-Off”

  1. renewableguy Says:

    why didn’t they put wind turbines on the Island instead of in the water? I like the idea of offshore wind, but it would of been cheaper on land.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Way cheaper, but then some people would have to LOOK at them and others might have their brains melted by the NOISE they make. Turbines have to be 15 miles and more out to sea before they become “barely visible” from shore, and the depth of water out there calls for some serious underpinnings.

      At least this is a start—-there are NO off-shore wind projects in the U.S. but this one as yet, are there? Dominion Power is dragging its feet here in VA because off-shore wind is “too expensive”. Va was supposed to be among the first but plans have now been pushed back a few years.

      • andrewfez Says:

        In So CA, our electricity prices went from $0.09/kwh to $0.15, and nothing happened. I’m sure the east coast price could be pushed up a few cents to pay for offshore wind, and it may even motivate some rednecks to go rent a cellulose insulation blower at Home Depot and get to work on their walls and attics. S7 represents a possible wind site off of VA:

        The bottom graph represents the aggregate of all the Atlantic offshore sights combined. If anybody else has a graph, please post it; I was thinking there would be less variability than what this one shows.

        • Gingerbaker Says:

          Nothing happened? Your electricity rates nearly doubled!

          • andrewfez Says:

            But the economy didn’t collapse because of it! Actually one thing happened: Someone wrote a newspaper article about how LADWP is fleecing its customers in the name of green energy.

        • andrewfez Says:

          PS That bottom graph is Capacity Factor where 1 = full capacity. It’s possible even at CF 0.33 the collective could still be generating a good baseline a la the U of Delaware 3x wind overbuild model. I’ll have to find some more graphs as time permits.

        • Gingerbaker Says:

          Here in Burlington, Vermont our electricity utility is a public entity. They don’t get to charge any old rate they want – a rate change requires a long, drawn out process where they have to present a case for why a rate increase might be justified. The group who listens to their argument is composed of diverse individuals – including plain folks from the community.

          Our rates don’t go up much. We have enjoyed the lowest-cost highest-reliability electric service in the state for decades.

          I would be interested to learn just how an electric utility justifies a rate increase for installing a wind, sun, or tide system considering that no one knows the expected lifespan of these technologies yet.

          Having a public entity as utility service seems to me to be much more conducive to new renewables. (I’m thinking out loud here):

          The utility wouldn’t have to buy the infrastructure, and then recoup investment and financing costs by raising rates. The community buys the equipment, financed by muni bonds. Rates could, should, go down. The utility is not married to milking profits out of old capital investments like fossil-burning power plants.


    • If I remember correctly, I was on Block Island a number of years ago and they did have a wind turbine generator.


  2. Offshore wind will always be more expensive than onshore wind. Small islands with independent grids that currently rely on fossil generation are a good fit for offshore wind. But for the continents, it’s hard to make the case that we should invest the extra cash for offshore, when we can get more energy for less money by going onshore.

    Regarding the prediction that wind will get the same price drop as solar, don’t hold your breath. Wind prices hit bottom at around the turn of the century and have been basically been going sideways since then, albeit with some bouncing around. Wind is a mature technology, with no game-changers on the horizon.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      Keith, in my state of Michigan wind power price has dropped from 9.9 cents/kwh
      in 2010 to 5 cents in 2014. US Dept of Energy predicts a price drop of another third still in the pipeline, and the technology continues to develop.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        “Wind is a mature technology, with no game-changers on the horizon”. Yep.

        “….in my state of Michigan wind power price has dropped from 9.9 cents/kwh in 2010 to 5 cents in 2014. US Dept of Energy predicts a price drop of another third still in the pipeline, and the technology continues to develop”. Yep.

        Hmmmm! Some contradictions there. Yes, “technologies continue to develop”, just like the automobile (which still has four rubber tires, brakes, a steering wheel, etc, but no longer looks like a Model T). What are they going to make wind turbines out of that is not steel, concrete, copper, aluminum, and fiberglass? What new designs are they going to come up with that is going to be such a cost breakthrough drive the prices through the basement floor?. Just asking (and I’m not holding my breath).

        • Gingerbaker Says:

          On the other hand, there are a ton of seemingly good ideas out there for better wind tech. Kites with rotors; vertical sails instead of huge rotors; kites pulling on ropes which turn the generators; “forests” of vertical spires which wobble to power generators in their bases; multiple rotors on a single stalk, etc.

          There doesn’t seem to be a research program with enough funding to develop these ideas – it’s all start-up entrepreneurs, or student projects. If our government was serious about this, we would be employing thousands of scientists full-time to develop our energy future. Instead, we get more laissez-faire sitting-on-our-hands as the ear-splitting ticks from the clock reverberate across humanity.

          It does seem pretty absurd to me that a ‘proper’ wind device means elevating a 56-ton generator (that part that breaks and needs maintenance) nacelle 300 feet in the air. 164 tons for each 1.5 MW device. Each single blade on a 3MW machine is about 14 tons, and costs ~$300,000.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Yes, a lot of “seemingly good ideas out there for better wind tech”, just as there have been “good” and “new” ideas in such technologies as cars, planes, and boats. “Cars” with two, three, four, and more wheels, planes with one, two, and three wings, and boats with one, two, and three hulls. All of those “designs” still needed wheels, wings, and hulls because the basic physics of moving an object on land , sea, and air are the same—-mass, energy, motion, friction, etc—-and the simplest and cheapest ideas often prove to be the best.

            In this profit-centered “everyone can be an entrepreneur” world, we are saddled with the guys like the Solar Roadway types, a “seemingly good idea” that is going nowhere. It’s the same with just about all of the rather wild wind power schemes. The wind turbine IS a “mature” technology and isn’t going to make major breakthroughs. We DO need to have more of it to cut carbon, but solar is IMO the technology to emphasize. Again, solar is “maturing” as a technology and may not have very far to go advances-wise, but it IS the one that can be scaled to fit and employed everywhere at comparatively low cost.

            We come full circle on the problem with “…If our government was serious about this, we would be employing thousands of scientists full-time to develop our energy future”. They’re not serious because our “government” has been bought and paid for by the fossil fuel interests, the plutocracy, and the mindless conservatives who will cut off their noses to spite their faces—they don’t want things to change, and until we deal with that, little progress will be made.

            Yes, all you say about standard design wind turbines being “pretty absurd” is true, but it all comes down to ROE in this profit-crazed world—-if it pays off, people will build them, and they DO work, although they may reach a cost/benefits floor before long. As you and others have said in other comments, the real question is what price do we put on reducing carbon?

          • Gingerbaker Says:

            Thank you for bringing up Solar Roadways – I had not had a good laugh until then.

            It is like the word “cowbell” – can’t hear it without cracking up now :>D


      • Price is not cost, and PPA price is especially not cost. To get cost, you have to look at LCOE, and it’s rather interesting that DOE’s calculated LCOE for wind is about 1/5 of DOE’s actual mean LCOE computed from selected actual projects. Just sayin’.
        http://energy.gov/eere/wind/downloads/2013-distributed-wind-market-report-data


  3. “Informed” resistance to the project. I like the one about the “major pollution” if a hurricane knocks the windmills down, like the BP spill.

    http://www.deepwaterresistance.org

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Yep the “Sandy Scare” is a good one, but I prefer their “scaled” video view of the five towers (with sound effects) on their Block Island page that supposedly shows what towers that are THREE miles offshore will look like and sound like.

      A bunch of NIMBYS who have the nerve to describe themselves as “well-informed” LOL.

      They can scribe a circle with a three mile radius around my house and put up wind turbines all around the circumference—-I’ll hardly see them, and the tire noise from the Interstate less than 2 miles away and the planes flying overhead from Dulles will drown out the noise. The 600 feet height at 15,840 feet distance works out to a ratio of 6 to 158, so the visual impact would be the same as if you laid on the ground on the 50 yard line of a football field and looked at someone standing on the goal line and twirling a five-ribbed umbrella with no fabric in front of their chest (or in this case 5 people spread out along the goal line doing so). Big whoop!

      And why hasn’t anyone though to paint wind turbines a color other than bright shiny white? There has been a movement to paint water towers across the country a sky-blue-gray color that makes them almost disappear (depending on lighting conditions), and the military and mother nature countershade planes and fish to make them blend with their backgrounds. Wind turbines could be made less visually obtrusive in that way in more populated areas where people complain about their appearance. (Don’t ask about the colors that work best to minimize turbine hazards and attractiveness to wildlife—-purple and black).

      • Lionel Smith Says:

        “Wind turbines could be made less visually obtrusive in that way in more populated areas where people complain about their appearance.”

        At the risk of higher incidence of bird and plane strikes perhaps. Some avoid window collisions of the former by sticking on black silhouettes.

        But what would any NIMBYs prefer, a wind turbine or a fracking installation.

        We all realise that wind turbine objection is a nonsense stirred up by fossil industry agents.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          Have many planes ever collided with wind turbines in the world? Could find reference to only one.

          https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2015/04/21/ntsb-factual-report-released-in-collision-with-wind-turbine/

          • jimbills Says:

            The plane comment is a new one. Funny. I suppose it’s valid if one assumes airplane pilots have the same intelligence level of seagulls and that there wouldn’t be warning lights installed on the wind towers.

            Out of curiosity, the tallest wind tower in the world is 120 meters, or 394 feet tall:
            http://cleantechnica.com/2014/11/11/indias-suzlon-energy-installs-worlds-tallest-hybrid-wind-turbine-120-m/

            According to FAA guidelines, pilots must remain at least 500 feet above the surface or away from any structure or vessel:
            http://www.risingup.com/fars/info/part91-119-FAR.shtml

            The average altitude for a commercial liner is over 25,000 feet. It has to land, sure, but one could assume we wouldn’t be so stupid as to place wind towers in the landing path.

            On the birds, I always find it interesting how fossil carbon must be St. Francis to animals while wind power is Freddy Krueger. So disingenuous.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Your citation is to an article on the world’s tallest HYBRID wind turbine, and it’s not the tallest of all types. There are some older design turbines that exceed 600 feet in height to the tip of the top rotor blade—the Enercon E126 7.5MW is 650 feet—135 meters hub height and 63 meter blades = 198 meters = ~650 feet.

            (And we can hope pilots are smarter than seagulls—-I’m afraid that some private small plane pilots may not be, especially the ones that vote Republican).

          • jimbills Says:

            Yep, you’re right. Found this, too:
            http://ecowatch.com/2015/06/22/fukushima-offshore-wind-turbine/

            220 meters tall.

            Apparently, Lionel IS an airplane pilot (click on his name), so there ya go. Of course, if he wants to apply the precautionary principle to wind turbines and planes over the ocean, he might consider applying the precautionary principle in other ways, too.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            220 meters is 720 feet, and they are going to be mounted on floating bases and hooked up to land with big extension cords? And don’t typhoons strike there with some frequency? Sounds like a NON-plan to me.

          • Lionel Smith Says:

            “Have many planes ever collided with wind turbines in the world? Could find reference to only one.”

            WRT aircraft I was thinking more of the light aircraft, small helicopter, microlight level of flying where user qualifications and experience can be a grey area. But I note that you have already considered this in a post below.

            In the UK the density of power line pylon installations is high and also present a hazard.

  4. Canman Says:

    If anyone wants a more critical look at wind power to balance the enthusiasm here, I would like to suggest this post:

    http://judithcurry.com/2015/05/12/true-costs-of-wind-electricity/

    • greenman3610 Says:

      judith curry, who I have seen speak, is clearly mentally ill, and does not get much respect here.
      Moreover, she has no expertise whatever in the realm of energy production.
      If that’s the resource you are satisfied with, have at it. I prefer to talk to people who actually know something, but that’s just me.

      • Canman Says:

        That post was not written by Judith Curry (who seems eminently sensible to me), but by Rud Istvan and Planning Engineer. They’re both engineers with experience in energy. Istvan goes over a lot of energy options in his ebook, “Blowing Smoke”. He does have his own spin, but he follows a wide range of developments and is very knowledgeable, especially wrt batteries. He holds some super capacitor patents. Planning Engineer works with utilities and is anonymous so he can present a candid view. They have lots of posts at Climate Etc. and are very popular there. Readers can read about energy both there and here and judge for themselves.

        Wind might be doing better than expected (Michigan’s flat landscape appears to be good for wind, but not for pumped storage), but a clerk in the Bay County building just told me that electric rates are going up.

        • greenman3610 Says:

          wind is doing better than expected everywhere my friend.
          http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/24/business/energy-environment/solar-and-wind-energy-start-to-win-on-price-vs-conventional-fuels.html?_r=0

          “The cost of providing electricity from wind and solar power plants has plummeted over the last five years, so much so that in some markets renewable generation is now cheaper than coal or natural gas.”

          “According to a study by the investment banking firm Lazard, the cost of utility-scale solar energy is as low as 5.6 cents a kilowatt-hour, and wind is as low as 1.4 cents. In comparison, natural gas comes at 6.1 cents a kilowatt-hour on the low end and coal at 6.6 cents. Without subsidies, the firm’s analysis shows, solar costs about 7.2 cents a kilowatt-hour at the low end, with wind at 3.7 cents.”
          —-
          – and falling, I might add.

          “michigan not good for pumped storage”
          https://www.consumersenergy.com/uploadedImages/CEWEB/OUR_COMPANY/Electricity/Pumped_Storage/consumers-energy-pumped-storage-facility-located-in-ludington-michigan.jpg?n=7129
          see this, about the size of the Hoover dam.
          – but there are many other storage options, if needed, including compressed air, for which states like michigan have excellent geology, with large salt caverns that have been successfully used for natural gas storage historically.
          http://solarcellcentral.com/grid_storage_page.html

          “..a clerk in the Bay County building just told me that electric rates are going up.”
          So therefore, wind is too expensive? Really?
          Bay City Mich has their own municipal utility, and if they are raising rates, it’s unlikely because they own too much wind.

          http://www.baycitymi.org/departments/electric-department/item/140-history

          “In 1978, the utility joined with other municipal utilities in Michigan to form the Michigan Public Power Agency (MPPA). The purpose was to pool their resources to jointly own pieces of a large central station coal-fired generation with the investor owned utilities. Through MPPA, Bay City owns 5.2 megawatts of the 820 megawatts Campbell 3 plant operated by Consumers Energy and 8.7 megawatts of the 1,260 megawatts Belle River Plant operated by Detroit Edison. These plants were completed in 1980 and 1985, respectively, and have helped the utility keep its rates low.”

          anything else on your mind?

      • dumboldguy Says:

        I’m with you there. Peter. Judith Curry has no business talking about wind power, and the fact that she seems “eminently sensible” to Canman tells us all we need to know about him. You’ve caught another live one.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      A great link to an article that slings a whole lot of obfuscatory horseshit against the wall and hopes some of it will stick. A real tour de force in that genre.

      The very first graphic in the article doesn’t seem to support the author’s contention that fossil fuels are “cheaper” than wind. Am I missing something?


  5. So good to see this finally getting off the ground. The political resistance to it has just been outrageous. I’m hoping these few pebbles contribute to the renewable energy landslide that is already well underway. We need it!


  6. Hi Folks,

    I am the last to be fond of fossil fuel industry, but that does not mean I am ready to accept whatever the renewable energy enthusiasts claim. Carbon Counter is always a good source of balanced reporting regarding renewable energy. Here is his take on wind farms (in UK):

    I showed that aggregate wind farm output should be expected to fall below 1% of total installed capacity. This is actually a much stronger claim.

    In effect, wind farms can be relied on for absolutely zero power.

    How reliable are Britain’s wind farms?

    The stability of ocean wind power definitely IS higher (capacity factor is 50%, compared to about 25% of land wind farms), but also the price of ocean farms is about double of that on lands. Maintenance is also costlier.

    Finally, it is not solving our dependence on oil (at all).

    Just my 2 cents,

    Alex

    • greenman3610 Says:

      We’ll look for the electric grids in Texas, Iowa, Germany and Denmark to fail catastrophically annn-y time now.
      Thanks for playing, I’ll remember to get my information from the ever reliable Telegraph.

    • renewableguy Says:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power_in_Iowa#Wind_generation

      16,295 gwhr in 2014. Iowa was no. 2 in the nation in generation of wind power.

      I’m impressed at 28% of electrical generation for the state.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        You are perhaps being bright-sided. Way more electricity is generated from coal in Iowa than from renewables, and although Iowa may be making great strides with renewables, you need to look at the overall energy picture. Iowa gets its energy from (by source):

        37% Coal
        32% Oil
        26% Natural gas
        3% Nuclear
        2% Renewables

        https://store.extension.iastate.edu/Product/ian106-pdf

        I will say it yet again. We need to pay attention to how slowly fossil fuel use is coming down from a high level rather than how rapidly renewables are rising from a very small base. The clock is ticking and we are doing too much wishful thinking.

        • jimbills Says:

          I completely agree with your general conclusions, but you might want to double check the date on your source here. The mix rates sounded old to me, and there are references to a 1998 report in your link. I can’t find a later date there, either.

          For Iowa specifically, this has useful info on emissions:
          http://www.iowadnr.gov/InsideDNR/RegulatoryAir/GreenhouseGasEmissions/GHGInventories.aspx

          Total emissions in Iowa did not go down from 2005 to 2013.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            I didn’t do much to find or verify that “data”—-googled quickly, looked at only the one link that I cited—it was “official” and “good enough”, so I made my point with the data that was there. It’s only a snapshot, and it doesn’t much matter if it’s off even by a substantial margin—the overall numbers are clear. (And I find it amazing that the statistics-keeping bodies can’t even reach close agreement on what has happened in the past—doesn’t instill confidence in projections far into the future).

            Your link is a good one, and has some nice graphics. It IS true that “Total emissions in Iowa did not go down from 2005 to 2013”, but emissions from coal use DID drop quite a bit during that time. My point (and yours) is always that rapid growth in renewables won’t counter too slow a decline in fossil fuel use, and that we’re running out of time. Iowa is proof.

          • jimbills Says:

            Yes, the Iowa report here is a good case study:
            http://www.iowadnr.gov/portals/idnr/uploads/air/insidednr/ghgemissions/2013_ghg_inv.pdf

            What it shows is that despite a decent drop in carbon emissions from energy (in Iowa that’s almost exclusively due to wind taking away market from coal), total emissions are slightly higher. Growth in agriculture and the residential/commercial/industrial sectors outweighed the loss in carbon from all that wind power – which goes to my point about growth being the most significant problem we face.

            One could say, validly, that all that wind helped prevent a significant rise in emissions. It did that, but when we’re talking about a global problem, the only way to fight a rise in carbon emissions in the developing world is a rapid decrease in emissions in the developed world – and there aren’t any indications that’s in the offing virtually anywhere. Denmark might be an exception if they stick to their 2050 plan, but as you point out, that’s a very small piece of the pie.

            Elsewhere, we get happy stories about how solar and wind is a lot cheaper, which is fine, but when one looks at the numbers, with growth, it’s not going to be enough to just let the market do its thing and assume everything will be fine. It’s dangerous to think that, possibly to probably fatal – and I think that’s our shared concern here. We need massive intervention and coordinated, cohesive plans with enforced goals at set timeframes. Even then, it’s probably not enough – but then, it’s better than doing nothing.

            One other small point from Iowa – transport emissions flatlined over the period of 2009 to 2013. The report says that there are more vehicle miles during that time, but that efficiencies in light duty vehicles created the leveling off. That’s probably true, but another way to look at that would be to see that growth erased the efficiency gains altogether.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Double dittos on all of it.

          • addledlady Says:

            “… which goes to my point about growth being the most significant problem we face.”

            Which goes to emphasise another point that energy efficiency is still one of the most important and effective targets for reducing emissions.

            You guys had “cash for clunkers” not so long ago for emissions from transport. A subsidy system or similar “cash for … ” for people to upgrade refrigerators, aircon, washing machines and – especially – hot water systems could have a big impact on total demand. Commercial and industrial power use for lighting, heating, cooling, hot water could also be substantially reduced if we could find a way to replace their current power guzzlers. (Do hotels still have the aircon on in unoccupied rooms in the USA?)

            Whether it’s done by subsidising solar hot water and/or PV systems or by doing what our state government did here … sending energetic young people out onto suburban streets with cartons of CFLs and simply going into people’s houses and replacing their conventional old-fashioned bulbs for them worked pretty well. They’ve augmented that with nifty gadgets for controlling standby power on televisions and central controllers for computers and attached equipment (along with low flow shower heads for bathrooms) in later “waves” of door-knockers doing the light bulb replacements. For those who missed out – most likely by being new owners/tenants in houses where the previous occupants turned the door-knockers away – these things are still available on the basis of a simple phone call.

            I’m constantly reminded of this when I see new installations of wind or solar farms described as supplying “enough power for xy000 homes”. I look at the number and calculate how many more 1000 homes would be supplied with sufficient power if the power consumption of individual homes was improved by 5 or 10 or 20%.

        • renewableguy Says:

          It looks like this transition is coming.

          http://content.sierraclub.org/press-releases/2015/07/united-states-phases-out-200th-coal-plant-momentum-renewable-energy-grows

          San Francisco, CA – Alliant Energy, a major Iowa utility, has committed to phase out coal use at six of its plants in the state, marking the 200th coal plant to shut down in the United States. This marks a milestone in the country’s transition to clean energy and underscores Iowa’s growth as a clean energy state. The announced coal plant retirements are the result of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign advocacy, which has been a driving force in the national transition to renewable sources of power. The retirement of 200 coal plants nationwide represents the phase out of nearly 40 percent of the 523 U.S. coal plants that were in operation just five years ago. The work of Sierra Club and more than 100 allied organizations to retire these plants and replace them with clean energy has enabled the United States to lead the industrialized world in cutting global warming pollution, and has put the White House on firm footing to push for a strong international climate accord in Paris at the end of this year.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Swell, only 300+ coal plants to go! How long do you think it will take before we have ZERO coal being burned in the U.S.? And what is replacing coal as a fuel at many generating plants? Oh, natural gas, you say? Swell again, since natural gas is “cleaner” than coal—burning it produces less CO2!!!

            I will say it more loudly—BEWARE BRIGHT-SIDEDNESS AND WISHFUL THINKING!!

            We are not moving fast enough to cut the burning of carbon fuels of all kinds, and anyone who wants to emphasize the “growth” of renewables over the “too slow death” of fossil fuels is just whistling past the graveyard.,

          • jimbills Says:

            DOG:
            http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jun/08/five-g7-nations-increased-their-coal-use-over-a-five-year-period-research-shows

            “The US has reduced its coal consumption by 8% largely because of fracking for shale gas. ”

            A 40% drop in coal plants in the last 5 years, and an 8‰ drop in U.S. coal consumption from 2009 to 2013. Most of that 8% has been replaced by fracked gas. That’s the reality on coal in the U S.

            Globally:
            http://www.businessinsider.com/global-coal-demand-is-slowing-fast-2015-6

            Very early indications are that coal use growth may be slowing, but it’s also not dropping.

            Until the U.S. gets really serious about climate change in the way Denmark is doing, these little bright spots in market dynamics are just lozenges for pneumonia.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            “….these little bright spots in market dynamics are just lozenges for pneumonia”
            ….I like that.

            Yep, coal consumption is increasing in some places and not declining much in others, and a “projection” of the 8% decline for coal over 5 years in the U.S. means that we will hit ZERO coal use in about 60 years. Another Big Whoop! for that.

            It’s all part of the “water-filled balloon” dilemma—-push in one place, and it bulges somewhere else. And we are pumping more “water” into the balloon every day (“water” = CO2 from more people having “better” standards of living and the need for worldwide economic “growth” so corporations can “profit”). The balloon is finite—-you can only fill it and push on the “bumps” so much until the whole thing bursts, and we have NO real idea what that limit is.

            (And a Big Whoop for the Danes, all 5 or 6 million of them. There are 320 million of us, and we have the Kochs and the Repugnants getting in the way of our replicating Denmark’s successes).

          • renewableguy Says:

            Mr. Dumboldguy,

            You do it your way, and I’ll do it mine. That can be a one two punch. If you still can’t let it go, then I give a damn what you think. I’m not interested in your fight.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            1happywoman? Are you watching this? The “boys” are about to engage in some “squabbling” in the man cave, although it likely won’t last long because renewableguy will probably be true to type and go off in a hissy-fit rather than engage with us. And women (and folks of any and all self-defined genders) are welcome in the man cave—-as long as you know what you’re talking about , we don’t care what flag you fly.

            Renewable guy appears to be a bit “pee-kayed” by something I said, and to the point that he is not speaking to us very clearly. Poor baby!

            “You do it your way, and I’ll do it mine.”, he says? What’s that supposed to mean? He actually thinks that there’s any equivalency between his mindless bright-sidedness and my insistence that we look at cold hard FACTS?

            And what can be a “one two punch”? I want to see a carbon tax, more nuclear power, more efficiency measures, more solar and wind, and as rapid a ohaseout of fossil fuels as we can manage—-right NOW! Bright-sidedness only lulls people into an “it’s going to be OK” mindset and delays action—no “punch” there at all, except on the side of the Kochs and their paid whores. Is renewableguy a secret agent?—-is he here to obfuscate and confuse and delay?

            And what am I supposed to “let go” anyway? Am I supposed to stop pointing out his horseshit? And if I don’t, he doesn’t “give a damn what I think”?. Anyone who says “I’m not interested in your fight” has already conceded defeat, folks, and doesn’t get to make the rules.

            Just what we don’t need—-a “Mister Rogers” speaking to us of a rosy and bright future as if we were children. Engage or go away, R-guy!

          • renewableguy Says:

            Mr. Dumboldguy:

            I’m not interested in changing my game. I view you as a little depressed and am not going there. I don’t disagree with your view of how serious co2 still going up in some sectors, but I want to focus on the solution. I am not here to complain about what is not getting done. The solutions project is an excellent way to show it can be done. To move into that zone is a good start along with all the other things that need to be changed. Changing our power source is a good start. More needs to be done. Agreed.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            LOL—-renewableguy is now pretending to be a mental health professional and is diagnosing MY “problem”?

            He views me as “…a LITTLE depressed” and says that he “…is not going there”. He wants to “…focus on the solution”, and touts the solutions project as “…an excellent way to SHOW it can be done”, and talks about “…MOVING into that zone…all the other things that NEED to be changed…GOOD starts”, …and “MORE needs to be done”. How nice. And actually quite revealing.

            I suggest that we can apply the Kubler-Ross model to R-guy’s words here and perhaps better understand what makes him tick. IMO, he is still in Denial of the mathematics that demonstrate the seriousness of the situation, doesn’t like being perceived as “Angry” so he’s too polite, is pretty much trapped in Bargaining with his bright-sided need to see renewables so narrowly, and will likely fall into true depression when the SHTF. I would not venture a guess as to whether or not he will ever reach acceptance.

            FYI, R-guy, I am science trained and have never been in denial of anything pertaining to AGW, I have been angry for 60+ years about many things that demonstrate the stupidity of mankind, I do no bargaining, and at the age of 75 have pretty much reached the stage of (angry) acceptance. The only thing that may “depress” me is that I’m not likely to live long enough to see how the movie ends.

            Before you reply to this, ask yourself why you feel the need to “fight” with me when you said you didn’t want to do so. Self-awareness is a good thing.

          • redskylite Says:

            Dalai Lama quote,

            “Like anyone else, I too have anger in me. However, I try to recall that anger is a destructive emotion. I remind myself that scientists now say that anger is bad for our health; it eats into our immune system. So, anger destroys our peace of mind and our physical health. We shouldn’t welcome it or think of it as natural or as a friend.”

            None of us will live long enough to see how this ends, but we will all see some more highs and lows.

            I can only compare it to projects I’ve worked on in my working life, (mainframe computers to distributed servers), starts off slowly in small steps, gathers pace and accelerates to the end.

            I can see an analogy with energy.

            Hnag on in there ….

    • renewableguy Says:

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

      Chicago area is hungry for clean energy. This is a market that is going to bring all kinds of money to sellers of wind and solar. All it has to do is be built.

  7. Gingerbaker Says:

    I would just like to challenge the whole idea of comparing the “costs” of renewable vs fossil-sourced electricity. Stop it!

    The real cost of fossil-sourced is astronomically expensive. In fact, it is more expensive than that! It is downright impossible to determine just HOW MUCH more than astronomically expensive it is – we just don’t really know yet.

    What is the price of the end of civilization? What is the price of the loss of 50%+ of the species on Earth? The price of New York City under thirty feet of water? The price of the loss of breadbasket agricultural zones?

    Meanwhile, we are parsing pennies on electric rates. Stop it!

    Renewables are incredibly, titanically, gigantically cost effective – no matter what they cost. Getting renewables up and running is the most important thing that needs to be accomplished in your (my) entire life.

    And then stopping the burning of fossil fuels is a close second as the most important thing. Which is why I am constantly putting forth the concept of demanding that our renewable energy prices be subsidized to the lowest price possible. To get people to trade in the fossil-burning cars and furnaces on electric equivalents.

    It is our government, folks. Spending some tax money on renewables as opposed to armies is not just intelligent, it is ethical, proper, and the way government is supposed to work.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Well said. A real “Cross of Fossil Fuels” speech—-William Jennings Bryan would be pleased.

    • renewableguy Says:

      Our pollution is nastier than we know. So if the economy is so important, when are we going to shift the cost of carbon to the source.

      http://cleantechnica.com/2015/01/16/the-social-cost-of-carbon-is-six-times-higher-than-estimated/

      A Trillion-Dollar Economic Threat to America?

      Economic evaluation of U.S. federal climate policies has hinged on a social cost of carbon estimate since it was first defined in 2010 and subsequently updated to $37 per metric ton of CO2 in 2013. The social cost of carbon estimates monetized damages from climate-related impacts like decreased agricultural production, human health, and flood damages, among others.

      Unfortunately, $37 seems like a dangerously low estimate. Each metric ton of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere causes $220 in economic damages, say the Stanford researchers. If that seems like a manageable cost, add in context from overall U.S. emissions and a staggering economic threat takes shape.

      In 2013, American energy sector CO2 emissions rose 2.5%, totaling 5,396 million metric tons. If the Stanford research is applied, America may face a price tag of well over $1 trillion dollars annually just from generating power, not to mention transportation or manufacturing-related emissions. Considering America’s gross domestic product (GDP) was $16.7 trillion in 2013, our carbon costs are significant, to say the least.

  8. redskylite Says:

    And its great to see Countries, regions and cities that actually have the ambition to get to 100 % renewable, like Lancaster, California (with its pro renewable Republican Mayor). Godspeed to the first wave .. .. .. ..

    “World Moves Toward 100 Percent Renewable Energy – First Electricity, Then Heating/Cooling, and Finally Transportation”

    http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/articles/2015/07/world-moves-toward-100-percent-renewable-energy-first-electricity-then-heating-cooling-and-finally-transportation.html


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