Friday, December 19, 2014

FPL gets approval to charge customers for fracking investment... The Real Story.

FPL gets approval to charge customers for fracking investment | Tampa Bay Times:

I was astounded to here that FPL is getting into the Fracking business. There's this baloney about trying to save some money for their investors. FPL Customers pay, in advance, to drill Nat Gas wells in Alabama, and then reap some of the benefits of the wells, if any, in the form of low NatGas prices in the future.

It sounds too good to be true. And leaves you shaking your head as to why a publicly regulated power utility would wonder off the path into the woods looking for firewood and NatGas.

So the Fla PSC rubber stamped the deal. As they always do. (Although the PSC turned down a petition to pay for Federal Lobbying, an obvious red herring in the mix.)

Comes to find out that NextEra, the parent company of FPL, already has oil drilling interests... 

There are many reasons why a power company might want to get into the drilling business, but the one given seems like the very last on the list.

Water, maybe. Fracking takes huge amount of water, as does power generation.

Pipe lines. Power companies already have massive right-of-ways related to power lines. This seems like a perfect fit: run power through the line and gas through the ground.

The one I like best would be to capture the NatGas that is flared in oilfields, produce power and send the power off to the grid through wire. We currently flare half of all NatGas produced in the USA. Nobody really wants to talk about it, but probably more than half. (Better to flare it, then release the methane, but still a very ugly and wasteful business).

Here seems to be the answer: Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) through pipelines to markets, domestic and abroad. We in the US pay only bout 1/3 of what the rest of the world pays for NatGas. At about $3.50 per unit for us, and maybe $10-$12 for most other countries. Liquidification and shipping LNG is in the works on many fronts. Cheniere Energy, Inc.
(trading symbol LNG) is coming on board with export terminals with a vengeance. 

Imagine what it will look like when our mountains of NatGas start to look like mountains of dollars.

So what does this mean in the next era of power utilities? I don't really know. It should take some time to understand the maze and the interlinking parts. 

Here is discussion about Spectra Energy (drilling and such) and FPL and the pipeline in existence and/or planned. article. There's a pipeline through the Gulf...

So very interesting.

And, of course, it has to be mentioned: NatGas is far better than that other major fuel (not mentioning any names, like Coal), but it is still not a renewable resources. Non-sustainable, by any other name, is still a broken business model... It's just a mater of time.

'via Blog this'

Friday, December 12, 2014

Energy Efficiency & Renewables... Good signs for both.

In one recent edition of the New York Times, there were two very positive articles on energy efficiency and improving the cost/kwh of renewables.  The Monday, November 24, 2014, issue featured "Good News on Energy," by Ralph Cavanagh of theNatural Resources Defense Fund, and "Solar and Wind energy Start to Win on Price vs. Conventional Fuels," by Diane Cardwell,

From Cavanagh, peaked energy use occurred in the US in 2007 and has trended downward since with a small increase in 2013.  And, economic growth is increasing more rapidly than the growth in energy usage because technology is making energy sources more efficient.  The LED light bulb is a good example.  Improvements over the last 40 years have done more to meet US energy needs than the combined contributions of oil, coal, natural gas and nuclear power.

Electricity consumption has decreased since 2000 despite the introduction of new consumer electronics.  Moreover, oil consumption by homes, businesses and vehicles is down 12% since the peak in 2005.  June, 2013, began a 12-month period in which the combined usage of renewables exceeded hydroelectric power.  More than 12% of our energy supplied comes from renewables and that category is growing faster than the others.

In her article, Cardwell confirms that the cost of providing electricity from wind and solar has dropped significantly in the last five years, so much so that in some markets renewable generation is now cheaper than coal or natural gas.  Several utility companies in the Great Plains and Southwest where wind and sunlight are abundant have signed power purchase contracts, known as "power purchase agreements," for solar and wind at prices below that of natural gas.

According to Lazard, an investment banking firm, the cost of utility-scale solar energy is 5.6 cents/kwh with wind as low as 1.4 cents/kwh.  Without federal subsidies that are up for renewal by Congress in 2016, solar costs are about 7.2 cents/kwh and wind would be 3.7 cents/kwh.  Natural gas is at 6.1 cents/kwh on the low end and coal is at 6.6 cents.

Both renewables and fossils have limitations.  For renewables, the wind has to blow and the sun has to shine as electrical storage technology needs a break through.  For the fossils, there are regulations and costs due to carbon emissions pollution.  One can expect this hybridization of fossils and renewables to continue for a considerable period of time.
Minor edits: 12/17/2014.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

GreenBiz 2015 | GreenBiz Conferences, Feb 17-19, 2015

GreenBiz 2015 | GreenBiz Conferences, Feb 17-19, 2015:

This is a very cool Sustainability/GreenBiz forum lineup. In Phoenix, in February.

Listen to some of the big companies out there including Unilever, J&J, Target, Levi's, adidas,... I like some of the discussion on metrics and ROI from sustainability... Seems like such a good place to start.

Should be fun. Also, if you are associated with Gov or Edu or ?Org? you might be eligible for a 40% discount.

I might have to try to do it online. I didn't see any details about that. Obviously keynotes are easier to virtualize than breakout/work sessions.

Hope to see you all there.

'via Blog this'

Monday, December 8, 2014

WMO Warns Lima Delegates 2014 May Be Hottest Year | Climate Central

WMO Warns Lima Delegates, 2014 ... Hottest Year in History!:-( | Climate Central:

Ouch, this is really really ugly, the data related to 2014 as the hottest year in modern history.

Double to the angst is the melt-off of the Antarctic.

Here's a discussion about both.

The period between April and September, according to NASA GISS was the hottest in 120 years. Most (?all?) of the months since April will set all time heat highs, as well.

Fortunately an El Nino weather pattern did not develop this year or the year-end temperatures would be even higher.

The consistent march of the oceans to higher temperature is doubly scary. It should take years, if not decades for rising temperatures to make a dent in the ocean temperatures. If the oceans are, on average 2 miles deep, it should take a long time for warming at the surface to permeate down to the depths.

Thermal expansion is scary. A 1 degree increase in surface temperatures, on average, should eventually result in about 2 feet of rise at the ocean surface due to thermal expansion as water gets warmer. This may take many years, but the increase is "baked in" if surface temperatures stay the same (or continue rising).

But doubly worrisome are the ice sheets in Antarctica (and Greenland and Iceland) which are ice sheets on top of land. The Arctic in the north is generally ice on top of water, so when the ice melts up there, as it is rapidly doing, it does not affect ocean levels (directly).

A study accepted for publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters found that the Amundsen Sea Embayment in West Antarctica is melting quickly and at an increasing rate. They found that the ice loss was equivalent to the volume of Mt Everest every 2 years.

The accepted draft of the article is here: paper...

Too bad. After seeing some encouraging studies that suggested that there might be a bit of a hiatus to the march of global warming, some of the more recent measures are not so good.


'via Blog this'