Let’s unlock a gigantic potential resource.

Cleveland.com:

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a state permit to construct the first freshwater, offshore wind turbine facility in North America was appropriately granted for the Icebreaker project in Lake Erie.

The Icebreaker project proposes to build six turbines eight to 10 miles off the Lake Erie coast, near Cleveland. The demonstration project would generate 20.7 megawatts of electricity, with a potential to expand if successful.

At issue before the court was whether the Ohio Power Siting Board followed the law in granting the permit.

Ohio Justice Jennifer Brunner wrote the majority opinion. Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Justices Patrick F. Fischer, R. Patrick DeWine, Michael P. Donnelly and Melody Stewart joined her opinion.

Justice Sharon Kennedy dissented.

Brunner, a Democrat, and Kennedy, a Republican, are running for Ohio Supreme Court chief justice in this November’s election. O’Connor is retiring due to age limits in the judiciary.

With the Ohio Supreme Court approval, the Lake Erie Energy Development Corp., which is called LEEDCo and is developing the project, has additional security to market the power to potential customers, the company said in a statement Wednesday, shortly after the Supreme Court decision was released.

A third of the power is under contract with the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. LEEDCo can now focus on marketing the remaining two-thirds.

There isn’t yet a date for when construction will start, as LEEDCo was waiting on the court, said Will Friedman, president and CEO of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority.

No matter what your position on nuclear energy, we have a lot of nuclear waste that is currently stored in unsustainable situations – for instance, 60,000 tons stored on the shores of the Great Lakes – 20 percent of the world’s fresh water. There has to be a long term solution, and taxpayers are going to have to jumpstart it.

New evaluation of satellite imagery gives new ice loss assessment. It’s not great.

NASA:

The greatest uncertainty in forecasting global sea level rise is how Antarctica’s ice loss will accelerate as the climate warms. Two studies published Aug. 10 and led by researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California reveal unexpected new data about how the Antarctic Ice Sheet has been losing mass in recent decades.

One study, published in the journal Nature, maps how iceberg calving – the breaking off of ice from a glacier front – has changed the Antarctic coastline over the last 25 years. The researchers found that the edge of the ice sheet has been shedding icebergs faster than the ice can be replaced. This surprise finding doubles previous estimates of ice loss from Antarctic’s floating ice shelves since 1997, from 6 trillion to 12 trillion metric tons. Ice loss from calving has weakened the ice shelves and allowed Antarctic glaciers to flow more rapidly to the ocean, accelerating the rate of global sea level rise.

The other study, published in Earth System Science Data, shows in unprecedented detail how the thinning of Antarctic ice as ocean water melts it has spread from the continent’s outward edges into its interior, almost doubling in the western parts of the ice sheet over the past decade. Combined, the complementary reports give the most complete view yet of how the frozen continent is changing.

“Antarctica is crumbling at its edges,” says JPL scientist Chad Greene, lead author of the calving study. “And when ice shelves dwindle and weaken, the continent’s massive glaciers tend to speed up and increase the rate of global sea level rise.”

Most Antarctic glaciers flow to the ocean, where they end in floating ice shelves up to 2 miles (3 kilometers) thick and 500 miles (800 kilometers) across. Ice shelves act like buttresses to glaciers, keeping the ice from simply sliding into the ocean. When ice shelves are stable, they have a natural cycle of calving and replenishment that keeps their size fairly constant over the long term.

But in recent decades, the warming ocean has been destabilizing Antarctica’s ice shelves by melting them from below, making them thinner and weaker. Satellite altimeters measure the thinning process by recording the changing height of the ice, but until this study, there hasn’t been a comprehensive assessment of how climate change might be affecting calving around the continent.

That’s partly because satellite imagery has been challenging to interpret. “For example,” said Greene, “you can imagine looking at a satellite image and trying to figure out the difference between a white iceberg, white ice shelf, white sea ice, and even a white cloud. That’s always been a difficult task. But we now have enough data from multiple satellite sensors to see a clear picture of how Antarctica’s coastline has evolved in recent years.”

For the new study, Greene and his co-authors synthesized satellite imagery of the continent in visible, thermal infrared (heat), and radar wavelengths since 1997. Combining these measurements with an understanding of ice flow gained from an ongoing NASA glacier-mapping project, they charted the edges of ice shelves around 30,000 linear miles (50,000 kilometers) of Antarctic coastline.

Losses from calving have outpaced natural ice-shelf growth so greatly that the researchers think it’s unlikely Antarctica can grow back to its pre-2000 extent by the end of this century. In fact, the findings suggest that greater losses can be expected: Antarctica’s largest ice shelves all appear to be headed for major calving events in the next 10 to 20 years.

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David Wallace-Wells has a useful summary in the Times – also recommend the Energy Gang Podcast on this topic.

David Wallace-Wells in New York Times:

I don’t think many Americans appreciate just how tense and tenuous, how very touch and go the energy situation in Europe is right now.

For months, as news of the Ukraine war receded a bit, it was possible to follow the energy story unfolding across the Atlantic and still assume an uncomfortable but familiar-enough winter in Europe, characterized primarily by high prices.

In recent weeks, the prospects have begun to look darker. In early August the European Union approved a request that member states reduce gas consumption by 15 percent — quite a large request and one that several initially balked at. In Spain, facing record-breaking heat wave after record-breaking heat wave at the height of the country’s tourist season, the government announced restrictions on commercial air-conditioning, which may not be set below 27 degrees Celsius, or about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. In France, an Associated Press article said, “urban guerrillas” are taking to the streets, shutting off storefront lights to reduce energy consumption. In the Netherlands a campaign called Flip the Switch is asking residents to limit showers to five minutes and to drop air-conditioning and clothes dryers entirely. Belgium has reversedplans to retire nuclear power plants, and Germany, having ruled out the possibility of such a turnabout in June, is now considering itas well.

Below, the UK is particularly vulnerable due to lack of fossil gas storage.

Can confirm – after driving across the deep heartland of the US, from Michigan to Missouri. Gasoline prices are now well below 4 dollars for most Americans.
But there are concerns – see above.
The real energy crisis emerging in Europe – I’ll be posting on that elsewhere.

NYTimes:

Gas prices in the United States fell below $4 a gallon on Thursday, retreating to their lowest level since March, a drop that has brought relief to Americans struggling with the skyrocketing cost of everything from groceries to rent.

The national average cost of a gallon of regular gasoline now stands at $3.99, according to AAA, after 58 consecutive daily declines. That’s higher than it was a year ago but still well below a peak of nearly $5.02 in mid-June. Energy costs feed into broad measures of inflation, so the drop is also good news for policymakers who have struggled to contain the price increases and for President Biden, who has pledged to lower gas costs.

The national average includes a wide range of prices, from nearly $5 a gallon in Oregon and Nevada to about $3.50 in Texas and Oklahoma. But, broadly speaking, the drop reflects a number of factors: weaker demand, because high costs have kept some drivers off the roads; a sharp decline in global oil prices in recent months; and the fact that a handful of states have suspended taxes on gasoline.

Solar Farm under construction in Michigan, 2019

Ford Motor Company:

  • Through its MIGreenPower program, DTE to add 650 megawatts of new solar energy in Michigan for Ford, increasing the total amount of installed solar in Michigan by nearly 70%
  • By 2025, every Ford vehicle manufactured in Michigan will be assembled with the equivalent of 100% carbon-free electricity, 10 years earlier than Ford’s global goal
  • Ford’s purchase of carbon-free electricity will avoid as much as 600,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually
  • While advancing Ford’s progress towards carbon neutrality, the purchase will also create jobs and tax revenue in Michigan

DETROIT, August 10, 2022 — Through a new clean energy agreement with DTE Energy (NYSE: DTE), Ford Motor Company will soon be able to attribute all its electricity supply in Michigan to clean energy, a major step toward Ford’s goal to reach carbon neutrality. As part of the new agreement announced today, DTE will add 650 megawatts of new solar energy capacity in Michigan for Ford by 2025. The purchase is a strategic investment in Michigan through DTE’s MIGreenPower program and is the largest renewable energy purchase ever made in the U.S. from a utility.* According to data collected by the Solar Energy Industries Association, once installed, the arrays will increase the total amount of installed solar energy in Michigan by nearly 70%. 

“This unprecedented agreement is all about a greener and brighter future for Ford and for Michigan,” said Jim Farley, president and CEO, Ford Motor Company. “Today is an example of what it looks like to lead… to turn talk into action.”

Since 2009, DTE’s investments in renewable energy have created more than 4,000 Michigan jobs. DTE estimates that the construction of the solar arrays will create 250 temporary jobs and 10 permanent jobs. Local communities that host DTE’s renewable energy projects also benefit from the additional tax revenue these projects generate. This revenue can be used for community support services including roads, schools, libraries and first responders.

“We want to congratulate Ford Motor Company for its environmental leadership and commitment to clean energy,” said Jerry Norcia, chairman and CEO, DTE Energy. “Ford was the first large industrial customer to enroll in our MIGreenPower program in 2019 and we thank Ford for its continued commitment to using MIGreenPower to help decarbonize its operations and meet its sustainability goals.”

Telegraph:

Germany’s Rhine river will become impassable for barges carrying coal, oil and gas later this week, in a devastating blow to factories upriver.

Levels at Kaub, a key point along the waterway west of Frankfurt, are predicted to fall to below 40cm on Friday, according to the German Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration.

At that chokepoint, the river becomes effectively impassable for many barges, which use the Rhine to move a range of goods including coal, oil and gas.

Water levels will then fall further to 37cm on Saturday, officials warned.

The river runs from Switzerland through France and Germany to the Netherlands, where it joins the North Sea.

UPDATE:

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Economic Development expert Connie Neininger presenting to leaders in Clinton, Indiana, in support of solar energy

All is not well in the Heart of America.
I’ve been criss crossing the upper midwest this summer in support of renewable energy, and can confirm what a lot of people already know – things have not been going well in small town America, nor have they for a long time.
Economies have been hollowed out over the last 30 years, communities are hurting, young people are leaving.

And yet these are some of the most beautiful, fruitful, abundant landscapes in the world. What’s the disconnect?

Mostly tax base. Manufacturing has been drawn overseas in recent decades, and nothing has replaced it to supply the economic underpinning for local infrastructure – schools, roads, fire-rescue, law enforcement, senior services, libraries.

The solution, of course, is renewable energy – providing tax base for communities, payments to farmers in good years and bad, keeping farmers on the land, and keeping the agricultural character of local communities.

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