As this article makes clear, we need dams. In my mind they are a trade off we can live with, and the excuse that it is just unprofitable to repair them is disgusting. Still, there are environmentalists who disagree.

http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/one-of-africas-biggest-dams-is-falling-apart

One of Africa’s Biggest Dams Is Falling Apart

By

The new year has not been kind to the hydroelectric-dam industry. On January 11th, the New York Times reported that Mosul Dam, the largest such structure in Iraq, urgently requires maintenance to prevent its collapse, a disaster that could drown as many as five hundred thousand people downstream and leave a million homeless. Four days earlier, the energy minister of Zambia declared that Kariba Dam, which straddles the border between his country and Zimbabwe, holding back the world’s largest reservoir, was in “dire” condition. An unprecedented drought threatens to shut down the dam’s power production, which supplies nearly half the nation’s electricity.

The news comes as more and more of the biggest hydroelectric-dam projects around the world are being cancelled or postponed. In 2014, researchers at Oxford University reviewed the financial performance of two hundred and forty-five dams and concluded that the “construction costs of large dams are too high to yield a positive return.” Other forms of energy generation—wind, solar, and miniature hydropower units that can be installed inside irrigation canals—are becoming competitive, and they cause far less social and environmental damage. And dams are particularly ill-suited to climate change, which simultaneously requires that they be larger (to accommodate the anticipated floods) and smaller (to be cost-effective during the anticipated droughts).

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Go there and read. More next week.

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I never really thought about cars this way before. It seems the more they HELP you drive the more expensive and complicated they are. If the car drives you, it will have a very complicated electronics system but a pretty simple structure. This would mean a much cheaper car and a radically restructured automobile industry.

http://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/bosch-active-gas-pedal/

 

Bosch is developing a connected gas pedal with haptic feedback

This pedal promises to use haptic feedback toward helping you save fuel while driving.

Andrew Krok mugshot
Andrew Krok

Would you be okay with your car bossing you around if it saved you fuel, and therefore money? Bosch is hoping that you won’t mind a few extra pointers on the road with its new active gas pedal, which the company believes can decrease fuel consumption by 7 percent.

Of course, creating a smart gas pedal is a complicated endeavor. By connecting to a vehicle’s various electronic systems, it can use haptic feedback (Bosch mentions vibration, knocking and variable pedal resistance) to tell the driver when to shift, when to cut back on wasteful acceleration and even when a hybrid vehicle is about to switch from electric- to gas-based propulsion.

While going green is a big part of this new pedal, there’s also a safety angle to it. Not only can the pedal be linked to active safety systems like forward collision warning or parking sensors, but it could also connect to the navigation system to prevent drivers from taking corners with too much chutzpah. And once vehicle-to-vehicle technology becomes common, the pedal can be used to warn drivers of upcoming hazards like potholes or stopped vehicles.

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Go there and ponder. More next week.

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I know that this is part of the motive and the profit to do solar equipment deals. It would be a better model if they told you about it up front and then split the RECs with the buyer or homeowner.

http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2016/01/green-energy-rec-rooftop-solar-panels

The Problem With Rooftop Solar That Nobody Is Talking About

Where does the green energy from your panels really go?

 

A couple of years ago, Steven Weissman, an energy lawyer at the University of California-­Berkeley, started to shop around for solar panels for his house. It seemed like an environmental no-brainer. For zero down, leading residential provider SolarCity would install panels on his roof. The company would own the equipment, and he’d buy the power it produces for less than he had been paying his electric utility. Save money, fight climate change. Sounds like a deal.

But while reading the contract, Weissman discovered the fine print that helps make that deal possible: SolarCity would also retain ownership of his system’s renewable energy credits. It’s the kind of detail your average solar customer wouldn’t notice or maybe care about. But to Weissman, it was an unexpected letdown.

To understand his hang-up, you need a bit of Electricity 101. If you have solar panels on your roof, the electrons they produce flow across the electric grid like water, following a path of least resistance. As they whiz around, electrons are impossible to track and look identical, whether they’re coming from solar panels, a coal plant, or whatever. But there is value in keeping tabs on the renewable ones, so energy wonks came up with renewable energy credits (RECs), a tradable financial instrument that corresponds to a certain amount of energy produced by a certain renewable source like solar or wind.

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I know that solar financing makes eyes glaze.  Go there and read anyway. More next week.

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This is an old piece but there is a petition being circulated on line:

http://www.stopthegreatlakesnucleardump.com/

Please go there and sign it. I could not find a newer piece but this should shock your socks off. If it were to ever leak we would have another Fukushima on our hands.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/05/20/stopping-the-great-lakes-radioactive-dump/

Stopping the Great Lakes Radioactive Dump

Hundreds of environmental and public interest groups, dozens of governmental bodies and thousands of concerned residents across the Great Lakes Basin have joined in rejecting a proposal by the giant utility company Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to bury 200,000 cubic meters of its radioactive waste on the eastern shore of Lake Huron, near its Bruce Nuclear Generating Station, in Kincardine, Ontario. The proposed dump is for so-called low- and intermediate-level radioactive wastes from the company’s 20 nuclear reactors. The site is 1.2 kilometers from Lake Huron on Bruce Peninsula.

On May 6, Canada’s Joint Review Panel submitted to Canada’s Ministry of Environment — the Honorable Leona Aglukkaq — its formal recommendation to approve the plan. Intervening parties have 120 days to submit comments on the JRP’s “environmental assessment” once its “conditions” have been made public. Aglukkaq will then make a recommendation to Ontario’s Premier, Kathleen Wynne, who will make the final decision about whether the dump should be constructed.

Most of the groups, legislators and cities opposing the so-called Deep Geologic Repository (regular folks call it a hole in the ground) have decided to ignore or to just parody the forthcoming “conditions” regulating the plan. A nit-picking analysis of them, they say, only gives the impression that permanent contamination of the Great Lakes somehow an acceptable risk under certain theoretical, computer-model-derived conditions. As Dr. Gordon Edwards, founder of Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, said May 19 over the phone, “We reject any permanent abandonment of radioactive waste deep underground near the Great Lakes. And this project, at this time, under any conditions is absurd.”

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Go there and read. More next week.

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This natural gas “eruption” has been going on in Southern California for a month. The gas company, SoCalGas, claims that it may be several more months before they get the leak plugged. Some people have compared it to the BPH spill in the Gulf Of Mexico. BUT and this is a big but, its in the air. This means it will spread around the world. The effects will be felt everywhere.

Plus this is the largest title I have ever posted!

http://enenews.com/tv-unprecendented-catastrophe-underway-los-angeles-largest-gas-leak-recorded-report-thousands-suffer-nose-bleeds-vomiting-potentially-devastating-planetary-scale-videos

TV: Unprecendented catastrophe underway near Los Angeles; Largest gas leak ever recorded — “Equivalent to strength of a volcanic eruption” — “Thousands suffer nose bleeds, vomiting” — “Potentially devastating on planetary scale” — Expert: “It’s so far above and beyond what I’ve ever seen” (VIDEOS)

CBC News, Dec 31, 2015 (emphasis added): Methane leak in California a ‘major catastrophe‘; Leak ‘largest ever recorded‘ could take 4 months to stop… “The amount of methane and natural gas that’s coming out of the Aliso Canyon Facility really is probably one of the largest volumes of gas ever recorded from a single leak,” says Tim O’Connor, an oil and gas specialist… “We have tried that seven times and have been unsuccessful in trying to stop the leak,” said SoCalGas spokesman Michael Mizrahi. “I have to say more than likely it’s [because] the pressures that are coming up from the leaking well are so intense.” The company says it doesn’t know exactly how much gas is escaping…

The Federal Aviation Administration has imposed a no-fly zone because of the small risk that a plane could ignite a pocket of methane… Laurie Rosenberg is among the many Porter Ranch residents who say the chemicals are causing them health problems. “I’ve had migraine headaches … itchy eyes, and runny nose 24/7… I think there’s more up there than they’re really willing to admit.”

Gizmodo, Dec 28, 2015: The largest natural gas leak ever recorded is jeopardizing health and causing evacuations for thousands of Southern California residents… Methane is estimated to be leaking out of the Aliso Canyon site at a rate of about 62 million standard cubic feet, per day… it’s potentially devastating on a planetary scale…

Erin Brockovich, Dec 21, 2015: “The enormity of the Aliso Canyon gas leak cannot be overstated… and it shows no sign of stopping… According to tests conducted in November by the California Air Resources Board, the leak is spewing 50,000 kilograms of gas per hour — the equivalent to the strength of a volcanic eruption.”
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Go there and read. More next week.
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Coal is now the most expensive energy source in the United States. That means that it will be to expensive to mine. It also means that the worth of the mining companies will fall and their stocks will collapse. It  can’t happen soon enough for me.

http://blogs.edf.org/energyexchange/2015/12/28/a-sunny-future-for-utility-scale-solar/

A Sunny Future for Utility-Scale Solar
By John Finnigan | Bio | Published: December 28, 2015
Utility-scale solar and distributed solar both have an important role to play in reducing greenhouse emissions, and both have made great strides in the past year.
Utility-scale solar, the focus of this article, is reaching “grid parity” (i.e., cost equivalency) with traditional generation in more areas across the country.  And solar received a major boost when the federal tax incentive was recently extended through 2021. The amount of the incentive decreases over time, but the solar industry may be able to offset the lower tax incentive if costs continue to decline.  New changes in policy and technology may further boost its prospects.
Record year for utility-scale solar
Some of the world’s largest solar plants came on-line in the U.S. during the past year, such as the 550-megawatt (MW) Topaz Solar plant in San Luis Obispo County, California and the 550MW Desert Sunlight plant in Desert Center, California. Last year saw a record increase in the amount of new utility-scale solar photovoltaic generation installed – about four gigawatts (GW), a whopping 38 percent increase over 2013, and enough solar power to supply electricity to 1.2 million homes.  This number is expected to increase in 2015 when the final numbers are in.
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Go there and read. More next week.
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This the first of a tow part report. The first focuses more on the “Coal is dead part”.

http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2015/04/11/coal-is-dead-its-time-to-accept-it.aspx

Coal Is Dead: It’s Time to Accept It

The coal industry is on life support, and that’s not changing anytime soon.

Apr 11, 2015 at 9:09AM
For years, coal supporters have been saying that a turnaround is just around the corner. China’s demand is about to pick up, domestic environmental regulations will be struck down and we’ll fire up coal plants again, or clean coal is here!

Let’s face it: Coal is dead, and it’s been a long time coming. Peabody Energy (NYSE:BTU), Arch Coal (NYSE:ACI), Alpha Natural Resources (NYSE:ANR), and others are just barely holding onto survival while reporting hundreds of millions in losses annually. But they’ll eventually be scrapped for parts as the energy industry moves to cheaper forms of energy. Whether you accept it or not, that’s the reality of coal in 2015.

No one wants to build coal power plants
Whether it’s regulations, smog, or cost, there’s no country that wants to build more coal power plants than it absolutely has to. That puts coal producers in a tough position, dealing with falling demand and competitors that are fighting over scraps of the coal market.

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Go there and dance on coal’s grave. More next week.

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They were losing money. Lay offs were coming. At least three plants were going to close. But, then not so much. Maybe they should just close them instead and invest in solar.

http://illinoistimes.com/article-16558-clinton-nuclear-plant-gets-reprieve.html

Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015 12:09 am

Clinton nuclear plant gets reprieve

Exelon won’t close facility for at least a year

Despite years of unfavorable conditions, Exelon thinks next year may be different.

The company announced earlier this year it won’t close the Clinton Nuclear Power Plant, 45 miles east of Springfield, for at least another year in light of potential market reforms in Illinois. The announcement follows similar announcements for two of Exelon’s other Illinois nuclear plants. Meanwhile anti-nuclear groups are calling for the plants to begin shutting down now.

The landscape of the energy market is undergoing major changes as coal plants begin to close, thanks in large part to tightening environmental regulations and a glut of cheap natural gas. Because coal has long been one of the main fuels for electricity production in the U.S., its decline creates a vacuum for other sources of electricity to fill. While environmental groups prefer more solar, wind and hydro electricity, companies which operate nuclear power plants see an opportunity for a larger role.

In Illinois, however, nuclear power has faced a competitive disadvantage since the late 1990s due to the state’s “deregulated” energy market. Illinois law requires a separation between companies that generate electricity and those which transmit electricity to customers. (Springfield’s City Water, Light and Power is allowed to own both generation and transmission assets because it’s a municipal utility.)

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Go there and read. Get some Christmas cheer. More next week.

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Unfortunately it will be several years before we know whether it will make a dent in emissions, but as everyone says, it is a start. I am particularly excited by the concept of “ratchet” and whether it can be implemented. What do you think?

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/12/12/world/paris-climate-change-deal-explainer.html?_r=0

Inside the Paris Climate Deal

The text of the climate pact establishes a commitment by 195 countries to take concrete measures to reel in planet-warming carbon emissions. Related Article

Paris Climate Agreement

View the Full Document »

Temperature Increase

“Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.”
Justin Gillis, climate science reporter:
This agreement adopts a more ambitious target for limiting global warming than in the past by mentioning 1.5 degrees Celsius as part of the concrete goal to stay well below 2 degrees. If that were to be actually achieved, it would likely ward off some of the most severe effects of climate change. For example, although we don’t know the exact temperature, there is a trigger point at which the whole Greenland ice sheet and the West Antarctic ice sheet will melt. There is a chance that staying below 2 degrees Celsius would avoid that trigger point, and an even better chance if we stay below 1.5 degrees.
Page 23

Preservation of Forests

“Parties are encouraged to take action to implement and support, including through results-based payments, the existing framework as set out in related guidance and decisions already agreed under the Convention for: policy approaches and positive incentives for activities relating to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries; and alternative policy approaches, such as joint mitigation and adaptation approaches for the integral and sustainable management of forests, while reaffirming the importance of incentivizing, as appropriate, non-carbon benefits associated with such approaches.”

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Go there and read all the good news. More next week.

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The link below is for the New York Times Climate Change Conference in Paris. I have picked the plight of the Marshall Islands as the text for this blog, but you can go whenever and wherever you want.

http://www.nytimes.com/news-event/un-climate-change-conference

Paris Climate Change Conference 2015

The Marshall Islands Are Disappearing

Rising seas are claiming a vulnerable nation.

— Linber Anej waded out in low tide to haul concrete chunks and metal scraps to shore and rebuild the makeshift sea wall in front of his home. The temporary barrier is no match for the rising seas that regularly flood the shacks and muddy streets with saltwater and raw sewage, but every day except Sunday, Mr. Anej joins a group of men and boys to haul the flotsam back into place.

“It’s insane, I know,” said Mr. Anej, 30, who lives with his family of 13, including his parents, siblings and children, in a four-room house. “But it’s the only option we’ve got.”

Standing near his house at the edge of a densely packed slum of tin shacks, he said, “I feel like we’re living underwater.”

 

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Go there and read until your eyes bleed. More next week.

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