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kristopher

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Member since: Fri Dec 19, 2003, 02:20 AM
Number of posts: 29,798

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(Financial Times) The Big Green Bang: how renewable energy became unstoppable

The Big Green Bang: how renewable energy became unstoppable
The shift to cleaner power is disrupting entire industries. Will the 21st century be the last one for fossil fuels?


May 18, 2017 Pilita Clark


One of Torotrak’s most promising gadgets has long been the V-Charge, a smarter version of a turbocharger that took six years to develop. In the middle of last year, Mr Robson began pitching it to the world’s top auto component and carmakers, including General Motors, Volkswagen and Toyota.

About a dozen said they were interested. But by January, things changed. Company after company turned him down. Suddenly, none wanted new products for cars running on fossil fuels.

“They all said, ‘We think the shift to electric vehicles is accelerating and we have only limited R&D money to invest and we are going to put all of it into the electric car revolution’,” Mr Robson says. “This is a colossal structural shift and it’s come at a pace that has never occurred in people’s careers before in this industry.”

Torotrak was hit hard. Its shares plunged 40 per cent. It has shut down one of its main engineering sites, making about 40 staff redundant, and put the V-Charge on ice. It is now focusing on heavy-duty diggers and other gear it hopes will not go electric any time soon.

Much more at: https://www.ft.com/content/44ed7e90-3960-11e7-ac89-b01cc67cfeec


Get Your Behind-the-Meter Battery for $15 a Month

Tesla and Green Mountain Power: Get Your Behind-the-Meter Battery for $15 a Month

Tesla and Green Mountain Power: Get Your Behind-the-Meter Battery for $15 a Month
A super-cheap energy storage offering, built on the promise of the Powerwall 2 and SolarCity’s GridLogic software.


by Jeff St. John
May 12, 2017

Tesla and Vermont utility Green Mountain Power are offering a low price for home backup batteries: $15 per month.

Now they’ve only got to get 2,000 customers to sign up, and make sure they’re capturing the additional grid benefits from each Powerwall 2 to make the price pencil out for the utility.

That’s the plan behind Tesla’s offering, unveiled Friday, to equip Vermonters with emergency backup power during blackouts.

That’s less than half the $37.50 per month that GMP set for its first test-run offering of Powerwalls back in late 2015, after testing Tesla’s technology in a pilot project in Rutland, Vt.

The difference in prices comes from two main sources...
https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/tesla-and-green-mountain-power-get-your-behind-the-meter-battery-for-15-a-m?utm_source=Daily&utm_medium=Newsletter&utm_campaign=GTMDaily

The business case for pollinator-friendly solar sites

The business case for pollinator-friendly solar sites
Steve Levitsky, Brian Riddle, Dennis vanEngelsdorp and Albert Todd
Monday, May 15, 2017

Courtesy of: Fresh Energy

A critical opportunity is being largely overlooked on solar sites developed on farmland and outside of the desert Southwest — there has been too much focus on the hardware and not enough consideration of the vegetation under and around the panels.

Some folks don’t like living next to solar arrays, particularly when the array is "solar-centric" in design (gravel covering the site). Instead of solar-centric approaches, businesses can help local farms and lakes, streams and estuaries by encouraging co-benefit/low-impact solar designs that are planted with native flowering plants.

We support the development of new "pollinator-friendly" solar approaches, which bring with them potential agricultural, economic and environmental benefits.

Opportunities for agriculture

Pollinator habitat on solar sites is a common practice in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and is abundantly feasible wherever solar installations are replacing rowcrops. The practice simply uses a different seed mix — not turf grass — to create a low-growing and shade-tolerant flowering meadow. These flowering plants have many agricultural and ecological benefits. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that globally, 75 percent of food crops rely at least partially on pollination. Pollinator-friendly solar sites can bring pollinators into closer contact with food crops.

...
...

Improvement of soil and water quality

Instead of gravel or turfgrass, sites with properly designed native vegetation help capture nutrients in the soil and prevent the movement of nutrients into our lakes, streams and estuaries (the Chesapeake Bay being the nation’s largest). Unlike shallow-rooted turfgrass, deep-rooted native flowers and grasses significantly increase organic matter and the quality of soils. ...

... https://www.greenbiz.com/article/pollinator-friendly-solar-sites

Blackout parties: how solar and storage made W. Australia farmers the most popular in town

Blackout parties: how solar and storage made WA farmers the most popular in town
Once considered an eco-warrior’s pipe dream, renewable energy is rapidly gaining ground in the traditional mining state of Western Australia


Max Opray 14 May 2017
Along the remote southern coastline of Western Australia, the locals have cottoned on to a new, surefire way to keep their beer cold.

The energy grid around Esperance and Ravensthorpe is unreliable at the best of times, but after a bushfire took out the poles and wires around these far-flung outback towns last year, the power company asked residents if they might be interested in trying out a more economically and environmentally sustainable way to keep the lights on and the bar fridge humming.

Rather than fully rebuild the sprawling infrastructure required to reconnect all residents to the grid, network operator Horizon Power turned to WA renewables pioneer Carnegie Clean Energy to help roll out stand-alone solar and storage systems.

The Carnegie managing director, Michael Ottaviano, said the scheme had led to a new phenomenon in the towns. “People assume the grid is something reliable and permanent, but in reality it is a centralised system with very long lines out to remote communities – it is in fact highly susceptible to failure,” he says.

“And when it does now we’re hearing our customers are having blackout parties. You take Raventhorpe for instance...


https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/may/15/blackout-parties-how-solar-and-storage-made-wa-farmers-the-most-popular-in-town

Blackout parties: how solar and storage made Western Australia farmers the most popular in town

Blackout parties: how solar and storage made WA farmers the most popular in town
Once considered an eco-warrior’s pipe dream, renewable energy is rapidly gaining ground in the traditional mining state of Western Australia


Max Opray 14 May 2017
Along the remote southern coastline of Western Australia, the locals have cottoned on to a new, surefire way to keep their beer cold.

The energy grid around Esperance and Ravensthorpe is unreliable at the best of times, but after a bushfire took out the poles and wires around these far-flung outback towns last year, the power company asked residents if they might be interested in trying out a more economically and environmentally sustainable way to keep the lights on and the bar fridge humming.

Rather than fully rebuild the sprawling infrastructure required to reconnect all residents to the grid, network operator Horizon Power turned to WA renewables pioneer Carnegie Clean Energy to help roll out stand-alone solar and storage systems.

The Carnegie managing director, Michael Ottaviano, said the scheme had led to a new phenomenon in the towns. “People assume the grid is something reliable and permanent, but in reality it is a centralised system with very long lines out to remote communities – it is in fact highly susceptible to failure,” he says.

“And when it does now we’re hearing our customers are having blackout parties. You take Raventhorpe for instance...


https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/may/15/blackout-parties-how-solar-and-storage-made-wa-farmers-the-most-popular-in-town

Teslas Home Solar Roof Pricing Is Cheap Enough to Catch Fire

Tesla’s Solar Roof Pricing Is Cheap Enough to Catch Fire
The cost of Elon Musk’s remarkable new product is judged “better than everyone expected.”

by Tom Randall
May 10, 2017

....Tesla will begin with production of two of the four styles it unveiled in October: a smooth glass and a textured glass tile. 1 Roofing a 2,000 square-foot home in New York state—with 40 percent coverage of active solar tiles and battery backup for night-time use—would cost about $50,000 after federal tax credits and generate $64,000 in energy over 30 years, according to Tesla’s website calculator.

That’s more expensive upfront than a typical roof, but less expensive than a typical roof with traditional solar and back-up batteries. The warranty is for the lifetime of your home.

“The pricing is better than I expected, better than everyone expected,” said Hugh Bromley, a solar analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance who had been skeptical about the potential market impact of the new product. Tesla’s cost for active solar tiles is about $42 per square foot, “significantly below” BNEF’s prior estimate of $68 per square foot, Bromley said. Inactive tiles will cost $11 per square foot....



The vision Musk describes with the solar roof is the grand unification of Tesla’s clean-energy ambitions, combining solar power, batteries, and electric cars. “These are really the three legs of the stool for a sustainable energy future,” Musk said. “Solar power going to a stationary battery pack so you have power at night, and then charging an electric vehicle … you can scale that to all the world’s demand.”

The rooftop shingles are virtually indistinguishable from traditional high-end roofing products, with ...

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-10/tesla-s-solar-roof-is-finally-ready-for-you-to-buy

The big future of microgrids

The big future of microgrids
Published: 10 May 2017, 15:56
By: John Parnell


The terminology might seem diminutive, but there is no doubt that the future for microgrids is anything but small.

In fact, in future, microgrids themselves won’t necessarily be that small physically in their own right either. Misconceptions about the isolation of microgrids also abound.

They don’t have to work in full isolation, they may in fact be made up of several small grids and via the legacy grid, they may well be connected in the future to series of similar microgrids. It’s not easy to find a catch-all term that encompasses all of these characteristics. So with the objective of scaling up the benefits of microgrids to larger and larger systems, is the name misleading?

“Possibly, yes,” says Troy Miller, director of grid solutions at S&C Electric. “We've got some exciting projects in the pipeline that are much larger. People have used the term microgrid generically to mean a system, whatever the size, that can be separated from, islanded from. The overall larger grid is measured in GWs and TWs, microgrids can be tens or hundreds of MW. I haven't heard a name for them as they get bigger but people have coined new terms for them as they got smaller, nano- grids and pico-grids.”

S&C played a key role in the development of an ambitious micro-grid project completed in 2015 for the Texas utility firm Oncor. The site is part of a large Oncor testing facility that had been operating with diesel back-up....
https://www.energy-storage.news/blogs/the-big-future-of-microgrids

Misrepresenting the German Energy Situation

Misrepresenting the German Energy Situation

Amory Lovins responds to Bret Stephens’s New York Times article “Climate of Unintended Consequences”


May 5, 2017 | By Amory Lovins


Mr. Stephens misrepresents the German energy situation in three ways. First, he compares 2016’s record renewable electricity production with the whole economy’s carbon dioxide emissions. In 2015–16, those rose 0.9 percent—one-third due to leap day and a cold winter—as transport fuels and the gas that heats half the buildings got efficient and renewable slower than renewable electricity grew. Yet Germany’s coal burn fell in 2016, both in total and in the power sector, as renewables generated 29 percent of 2016 electricity and met 32 percent of domestic needs. (The difference was record net exports, 9 percent of production, notably to offset France’s nuclear decline with cheaper German wholesale power.)

Next, Mr. Stephens cherry-picks his emissions comparison with 2009, when the deep global recession made GDP nosedive to 13 percent below 2016’s, so energy use and emissions plummeted too, facilitating his deceptive conclusion that “emissions are almost exactly what they were in 2009.” But that’s wrong anyway. During 2009–2016, renewable electricity grew 98 percent (nearly twice nuclear’s decline), and the power sector’s CO2 emissions fell 3.5 percent, or 16 percent per dollar of GNP—hardly an “illusion of ecological virtue.” Germany’s renewables significantly cut its CO2 emissions, and helped make wholesale electricity prices some of the lowest in Europe (as Germany’s rising power exports confirm).

Third, Mr. Stephens cites German households’ high electric bills without mentioning that as a longstanding policy, home electricity is heavily taxed, averaging 55 percent taxes and fees. Only 22 percent pays for renewables—not just for the households themselves but also for billions of Euros of annual cross-subsidy to thousands of industries, though German taxpayers don’t subsidize renewables as Americans do.

Mr. Stephens is in good company in misunderstanding German energy policy and outcomes. Both have been widely misrepresented, including by the New York Times. Some of the most common misconceptions are corrected here, here, and here. Today, Mr. Stephens’s latest post recommends Der Spiegel as a “reputable” source on German energy policy. Its sensationalist campaign against renewables has long astonished German and other readers. Mr. Stephens may as well look to supermarket tabloids for evidence about climate.
https://www.rmi.org/news/misrepresenting-german-energy-situation/

See also
https://www.rmi.org/news/debunking-renewables-disinformation-campaign/

https://www.rmi.org/news/separating-fact-fiction-accounts-germanys-renewables-revolution/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/amorylovins/2014/06/28/how-opposite-energy-policies-turned-the-fukushima-disaster-into-a-loss-for-japan-and-a-win-for-germany/#53cf144210ee

Steady growth of renewables and efficiency efforts strangling future for coal

This study attributes 44% of coal's decline to efficiency and renewables. Since the price of renewables continue their decline and they are garnering a steadily increasing share of energy investment money, IMO the disruption of the baseload fleet seems set to increase.

A Coal Comeback? Analysis Casts Doubt On Industry’s Chances
By GLYNIS BOARD

Can coal make a comeback? That’s the title of a new report from Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy. Researchers there analyzed the factors leading to the coal industry’s sharp decline over the past six years and assessed the Trump administration’s efforts to revive it.

...

Trevor Houser with the economic research company Rhodium Group is a co-author of the Columbia study. His report begins with analysis of what’ was driving the dramatic decline in the coal industry since 2011.

https://cpa.ds.npr.org/wkyu/audio/2017/05/0510CoalComebackWeb_0.mp3
Hear Glynis Board's story about coal's future, from The Ohio Valley ReSource.

“We’ve gone from 130,000 to 75,000 employees, and coal production has dropped by 30 percent,” Houser said.


CREDIT ALEXANDRA KANIK

Cheaper natural gas from the shale gas boom is the biggest factor contributing to coal’s decline. Changes in international markets have reduced demand and lowered coal prices here in the U.S. Renewable energy is also becoming a lot more competitive. The report highlights how wind energy prices have fallen by 40 percent in recent years and solar by 80 percent.

“It’s unlikely that those market factors that have reduced coal production over the last five years are....
http://wkyufm.org/post/coal-comeback-analysis-casts-doubt-industry-s-chances#stream/0

Debunking the Renewables Disinformation Campaign

Debunking the Renewables “Disinformation Campaign”

July 31, 2013 | By Amory Lovins
According to Fox Business reporter Shibani Joshi, renewables are successful in Germany and not in the U.S. because Germany has “got a lot more sun than we do.” Sure, California might get sun now and then, Joshi conceded during her now-infamous flub, “but here on the East Coast, it’s just not going to work.” (She recanted the next day while adding new errors.)

Actually, Germany gets only about as much annual sun as Seattle or Alaska; its sunniest region gets less sun than almost anywhere in the lower 48 states. This underscores an important point: solar power works and competes not only in the sunniest places, but in some pretty cloudy places, too.

A PERVASIVE PATTERN
The Fox Business example is not a singular incident. Some mainstream media around the world have a tendency to publish misinformed or, worse, systematically and falsely negative stories about renewable energy. Some of those stories’ misinformation looks innocent, due to careless reporting, sloppy fact checking, and perpetuation of old myths. But other coverage walks, or crosses, the dangerous line of a disinformation campaign—a persistent pattern of coverage meant to undermine renewables’ strong market reality. This has become common enough in mainstream media that some researchers have focused their attention on this balance of accurate and positive coverage vs. inaccurate and negative coverage.

Tim Holmes, researcher for the U.K.’s Public Interest Research Centre (PIRC), points out press coverage is important because it can influence not only “what people perceive and believe” but also “what politicians think they believe.” PIRC’s 2011 study of renewable energy media coverage surveyed how four of the highest-circulation British daily newspapers reported on renewables during July 2009. A newspaper’s balance of positive and negative renewables coverage tended to align with its editorial ideology. The difference was astounding. In one instance, negative coverage of renewables was just 2.5 percent; in another, upwards of 75 percent.

A follow-up 2012 study by public relations consultancy CCGroup examined five of the most-read newspapers in the U.K. during July 2012. ...

More at https://www.rmi.org/news/debunking-renewables-disinformation-campaign/
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