Astounding, mike dropping, comic butchery.

The essential takedown thus far.

Who’s the Other Guy?

February 29, 2016

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The PBS report above leaves out some crucial information.

Although briefly touching on what the benefits of residential/commercial solar installs might be – the report does not spell out those benefits.  The biggest one is that a distributed network of solar systems provides energy during the heaviest demand times of day – the midday thru afternoon period – and helps head off the need for rate-payers to finance very expensive “peaker” plants that are designed to make up the difference during those limited time periods, sometimes meaning they are used only on a limited basis thru the year – and are very costly.

A network of solar installations fills this spot very neatly – and was specifically not considered as part of the Nevada evaluation of solar costs.  The New York Times piece below hints at the reason – the new Nevada anti-solar rules were written at least in part by ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a key player in the Koch Brother’s ongoing war on solar.
I fault PBS for not pointing out this easily-googled and critical fact.

CleanTechnica:

Current PV and wind technologies have improved to the point where they can produce enough power to meet the needs of the owner, plus excess energy that can be exported to the grid. When you add the latest utility-grade storage batteries to those installations, along with the most advanced inverters and electronics, you now have a reliable source of energy that can be tapped even when there’s no active generation.

It’s a simple step from using this technology to solve one consumer’s energy needs to addressing the problem in Ohio. Using cloud-based software management, these individual units can be aggregated by a local utility into a “virtual” power plant, or VPP, serving a whole neighborhood, an industrial park or even entire communities. The control systems allows the aggregated power of these systems to be redirected over the local grid at periods of high demand, to any consumer – not just to another DER owner.

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The more of these renewable systems with integrated storage are installed in an area, the more they reduce the need to bring additional large-scale plants online to meet demand. And when enough VPP capacity is connected to the grid, the available stored energy and flexible nature of VPPs will make it possible to retire these old, costly and polluting plants. Their extra capacity will have been replaced by VPPs and be fully prepared to meet peak demand.

In fact, we will be better prepared to meet that demand reliably, because distributed VPPs eliminate the potential for single-point failure that is inherent in those large plants. Unplanned outages due to large plant failures also wreak havoc on utilities and consumers, and cause wild price fluctuations. Locating resources close to demand also reduces power losses, and may allow utilities to defer costly transmission and distribution upgrades.

Flexibility, reliability and cost: This is what makes VPPs highly attractive to utilities, while at the same time providing the assurance of reliability to the consumers who own them, as they have first call on their own power.

New York Times:

WHEN President Obama proclaimed in his State of the Union address last month that “solar is saving Americans tens of millions of dollars a year on their energy bills,” he clearly wasn’t talking about Nevada.

In late December, the state’s Public Utilities Commission, which regulates Nevada’s energy market, announced a rate change drastic enough to kill Nevada’s booming rooftop solar market and drive providers out of the state. Effective Jan. 1, the new tariffs will gradually increase until they triple monthly fees that solar users pay to use the electric grid and cut by three-quarters users’ reimbursements for feeding electricity into it.

More startlingly, the commission made its decision retroactive. That means that the 17,000 Nevada residents who were lured into solar purchases by state-mandated one-time rebates of up to $23,000 suddenly discovered that they were victims of a bait-and-switch. They made the deals assuming that, allowing for inflation, their rates would stay constant over their contracts’ 20- to 30-year lifetimes; instead, they face the prospect of paying much more for electricity than if they had never made the change, even though they’re generating almost all their electricity themselves.

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As I show on this page, and here as well, Ted Cruz, the most hated man in America, is now the face of climate denial.

A leading voice affirming the science of climate change, Leonardo DeCaprio, just won the Oscar for best Actor, and gave an impassioned plea for climate action last night. DeCaprio has also been a strong supporter of our Greenland work with the Dark Snow Project.

Yeah, I know. Hollywood people, yadda yadda.
I’ll take it.

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DeCaprio foundation funding announcement from last year is below. We still need continuing support for future efforts, but this was a huge affirmation. Read the rest of this entry »

As promised.

A few weeks ago, Ted Cruz gave the world perhaps the greatest gift he is capable of at this point – a widely publicized rant on video which included just about every bonehead climate denial talking point now current.

Having the country’s most hated man as the spokesperson for climate denial is a good thing.

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Independent:

Rapidly disappearing Arctic sea ice is about to set a new record after an “absurdly warm” winter at the top of the world. For the second year running, it will have grown to cover less of the Arctic Ocean than ever before.

The revelation comes as scientists are increasingly worried that the heating of the region could escalate out of control, as growing numbers of “feedback mechanisms” – which reinforce and accelerate the process – are being discovered.

Most attention on the melting sea ice so far has been focused on the increasingly low minimum levels it reaches each September. Its nine smallest-ever extents have all occurred in the last nine years, with the record being reached in 2012, when it covered only 3.41 million square kilometres –  44 per cent less than the average of the previous three decades, and a full 16 per cent lower than the previous record, in 2007.

But the amount by which the ice recovers each winter, peaking at the end of February and the beginning of March, though little publicised, is at least as important. Last year it reached only 14.54 million sq km on 25 February, its peak day – the lowest ever. Exactly a year later, at the end of last week, it was just 14.27 million sq km, a fall of 270,000 sq km.

Scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Boulder, Colorado (NSIDC) – the world’s foremost authority on the issue – are not quite ready to proclaim a new record, as the ice may yet spread further over the next days. But, with another week of unseasonably warm weather forecast for the region, they privately believe it is almost certain.

Above, Bloomberg analysis shows electric cars will have an impact sooner than you think.

Videos below from my interview with Brewster MacCracken of Austin’s Pecan Street Project on his detailed findings of solar and EV “early adopters”.

Bloomberg:

It’s time for oil investors to start taking electric cars seriously.

In the next two years, Tesla and Chevy plan to start selling electric cars with a range of more than 200 miles priced in the $30,000 range. Ford is investing billions, Volkswagen is investing billions, and Nissan and BMW are investing billions. Nearly every major carmaker—as well as Apple and Google—is working on the next generation of plug-in cars.

This is a problem for oil markets. OPEC still contends that electric vehicles will make up just 1 percent of global car sales in 2040. Exxon’s forecast is similarly dismissive.

The oil price crash that started in 2014 was caused by a glut of unwanted oil, as producers started cranking out about 2 million barrels a day more than the market supported. Nobody saw it coming, despite the massively expanding oil fields across North America. The question is: How soon could electric vehicles trigger a similar oil glut by reducing demand by the same 2 million barrels?

That’s the subject of the first installment of Bloomberg’s new animated web series Sooner Than You Think, which examines some of the biggest transformations in human history that haven’t happened quite yet. On Thursday, analysts at Bloomberg New Energy Finance weighed in with a comprehensive analysis of where the electric car industry is headed.

Even amid low gasoline prices last year, electric car sales jumped 60 percent worldwide. If that level of growth continues, the crash-triggering benchmark of 2 million barrels of reduced demand could come as early as 2023. That’s a crisis. The timing of new technologies is difficult to predict, but it may not be long before it becomes impossible to ignore.

Rocky Mountain Institute:

Those who claimed low oil prices would crash renewables (other than biofuels) were wrong. The reason is simple. Wind and solar power make electricity. Oil makes less than four percent of world and under one percent of U.S. electricity, so oil has almost nothing to do with electricity. Thus in 2015, as oil prices kept skidding, global additions of renewable power set a new record, adding about 121 GW of wind and solar power alone. Renewables’ $329 billion investment was up 4% from 2014, says Bloomberg New Energy Finance (which tracks each transaction), but it added 30 percent more capacity because renewables got much cheaper. Solar power is booming even in the Persian Gulf, where it beats $20 oil.

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Trailer: Ice and the Sky

February 27, 2016

Claude Lorius is one of the pioneer ice scientists of the past century. This movie is about him.

He’s been featured here before.

In this clip, Lorius describes the discovery of how air bubbles, trapped in glacier ice, can be a window into the past.
It all started with a glass of whiskey.

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The Hill:

The United States is racing toward achieving the goals of the Clean Power Plan (CPP), even as the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia raises the prospect of a deadlocked Supreme Court ruling. Achieving CPP carbon-dioxide emissions targets 14 years ahead of schedule is now likely thanks to a remarkable confluence of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies each achieving affordability after decades of developments.

Technologies from LED lights to electric cars to heat pumps are leaping past their less-efficient successors and are poised for mass adoption. Meanwhile, plunging prices push wind turbines and now solar panels into pole position for least-cost new electric capacity. Together, the technological innovations and market shifts are drastically reducing our nation’s need for coal for electric generation, and is even slicing into natural gas demand as well.

The Clean Power Plan requires a 32 percent reduction in power sector carbon-dioxide emissions by 2030 from 2005 levels. As of 2014, the latest year available, emissions had fallen 15 percent. U.S. power plant consumption of coal, the leading source of carbon dioxide targeted by the CPP, fell an additional 12 percent in 2015.

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