Renewable Energy in Decline

By Steve Goreham

Originally published in Communities Digital News.

The global energy outlook has changed radically in just six years. President Obama was elected in 2008 by voters who believed we were running out of oil and gas, that climate change needed to be halted, and that renewables were the energy source of the near future. But an unexpected transformation of energy markets and politics may instead make 2014 the year of peak renewables.

In December of 2007, former Vice President Al Gore shared the Nobel Peace Prize for work on man-made climate change, leading an international crusade to halt global warming. In June, 2008 after securing a majority of primary delegates, candidate Barack Obama stated, “…this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal…” Climate activists looked to the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference as the next major step to control greenhouse gas emissions.

The price of crude oil hit $145 per barrel in June, 2008. The International Energy Agency and other organizations declared that we were at peak oil, forecasting a decline in global production. Many claimed that the world was running out of hydrocarbon energy.

Driven by the twin demons of global warming and peak oil, world governments clamored to support renewables. Twenty years of subsidies, tax-breaks, feed-in tariffs, and mandates resulted in an explosion of renewable energy installations. The Renewable Energy Index (RENIXX) of the world’s 30 top renewable energy companies soared to over 1,800.

Tens of thousands of wind turbine towers were installed, totaling more than 200,000 windmills worldwide by the end of 2012. Germany led the world with more than one million rooftop solar installations. Forty percent of the US corn crop was converted to ethanol vehicle fuel.

But at the same time, an unexpected energy revolution was underway. Using good old Yankee ingenuity, the US oil and gas industry discovered how to produce oil and natural gas from shale. With hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, vast quantities of hydrocarbon resources became available from shale fields in Texas, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania.

From 2008 to 2013, US petroleum production soared 50 percent. US natural gas production rose 34 percent from a 2005 low. Russia, China, Ukraine, Turkey, and more than ten nations in Europe began issuing permits for hydraulic fracturing. The dragon of peak oil and gas was slain.

US Oil and Gas 2000-2013 Article

In 2009, the ideology of Climatism, the belief that humans were causing dangerous global warming, came under serious attack. In November, emails were released from top climate scientists at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, an incident christened Climategate. The communications showed bias, manipulation of data, avoidance of freedom of information requests, and efforts to subvert the peer-review process, all to further the cause of man-made climate change.

One month later, the Copenhagen Climate Conference failed to agree on a successor climate treaty to the Kyoto Protocol. Failures at United Nations conferences at Cancun (2010), Durban (2011), Doha (2012), and Warsaw (2013) followed. Canada, Japan, Russia, and the United States announced that they would not participate in an extension of the Kyoto Protocol.

Major climate legislation faltered across the world. Cap and trade failed in Congress in 2009, with growing opposition from the Republican Party. The price of carbon permits in the European Emissions Trading System crashed in April 2013 when the European Union voted not to support the permit price. Australia elected Prime Minister Tony Abbott in the fall of 2013 on a platform of scrapping the nation’s carbon tax.

Europeans discovered that subsidy support for renewables was unsustainable. Subsidy obligations soared in Germany to over $140 billion and in Spain to over $34 billion by 2013. Renewable subsidies produced the world’s highest electricity rates in Denmark and Germany. Electricity and natural gas prices in Europe rose to double those of the United States.

Worried about bloated budgets, declining industrial competitiveness, and citizen backlash, European nations have been retreating from green energy for the last four years. Spain slashed solar subsidies in 2009 and photovoltaic sales fell 80 percent in a single year. Germany cut subsidies in 2011 and 2012 and the number of jobs in the German solar industry dropped by 50 percent. Renewable subsidy cuts in the Czech Republic, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom added to the cascade. The RENIXX Renewable Energy Index fell below 200 in 2012, down 90 percent from the 2008 peak.

Once a climate change leader, Germany turned to coal after the 2012 decision to close nuclear power plants. Coal now provides more than 50 percent of Germany’s electricity and 23 new coal-fired power plants are planned. Global energy from coal has grown by 4.4 percent per year over the last ten years.

Renewable Spending 2004-2013 Article

Spending on renewables is in decline. From a record $318 billion in 2011, world renewable energy spending fell to $280 billion in 2012 and then fell again to $254 billion in 2013, according to Bloomberg. The biggest drop occurred in Europe, where investment plummeted 41 percent last year. The 2013 expiration of the US Production Tax Credit for wind energy will continue the downward momentum.

Today, wind and solar provide less than one percent of global energy. While these sources will continue to grow, it’s likely they will deliver only a tiny amount of the world’s energy for decades to come. Renewable energy output may have peaked, at least as a percentage of global energy production.

Steve Goreham is Executive Director of the Climate Science Coalition of America and author of the book The Mad, Mad, Mad World of Climatism:  Mankind and Climate Change Mania.

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cnxtim

Please, “Using good old Yankee ingenuity” enough of the jingoistic drivel. engineers from all over the world have known about the ‘next mile’ extraction of carbon reserves for decades.
The fact that the USA is just waking up to clean coal, gas, shale and fracking extraction is good to see, but the USA woefully lags the rest of the world in this regard, but I suspect with yankee enthusiasm for the job at hand, not for much longer.
It is a good thing – welcome Americans to the 21st century and beyond to the real world of affordable, clean, diverse and abundant fuel and join the rest of us laughing at the idiocy of windmills.

Bill H

Given that the EU is no longer subsidizing wind farms I suspect that there will be piles of rusting steel soon and a very ugly eye sore… But then we knew this was coming.

Andrew30

Investment climate change.

hunter

Andrew30,
+1
Save the birds, stop the windmills.

cnxtim says: “engineers from all over the world have known about the ‘next mile’ extraction of carbon reserves for decades.”\
JK – Then why didn’t they do it all over the world?
Not enough “good old Yankee ingenuity”?
thanks
JK

John F. Hultquist

Thanks Steve, but . . .
This is terribly inconvenient news. Someone wants a legacy and foreign policy and health care are beyond salvage. Stopping the Planet from warming and the sea from rising was going to be the good news. Now what?
A lot of our money has been passed to his friends, that ought to get him something!

lee

Are the renewable companies responsible for rehabilitating the countryside when they leave?

Janice Moore

FANTASTIC!
AGW is dead. Hurrah! Hurrah! Oooohhhh, huuuurrrah!!!
Celebrate the TRIUMPH OF TRUTH with a song
by an Italian (Rossini) about a Swiss hero (Tell) using Chinese fireworks
(viewed on a little device that is yours compliments of …
Yankee Ingenuity (Edison and Bell and Gates, et. al. — (smile))

.
.
.
D1e, windmills, d1e!

John F. Hultquist

cnxtim says:
March 1, 2014 at 10:06 pm
Please, “Using good old Yankee ingenuity” etc. etc. fracking . . .”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Enough of your “jingoistic drivel” :
On March 17, 1949, Halliburton performed the first two commercial hydraulic fracturing treatments in Stephens County, Oklahoma, and Archer County, Texas.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydraulic_fracturing#Hydraulic_fracturing_in_oil_and_gas_wells

Oil shale in Australia was referred to for the first time by François Péron, in “Voyage de Découverte aux Terres Australes”, which was published in Paris in 1807, It described what was Torbanite from the Newnes deposit in the Blue Mountains. Around 1850, oil shale was discovered at Joadja Creek in Southern New South Wales. In 1854, oil shale from the River Lett near Hartley, in New South Wales was exhibited at the Paris Exhibition and in 1862, oil shale from Murrurundi, New South Wales was exhibited at the London International Exhibition.

Janice Moore

N. Tesdorf (at 10:36pm) — Well, sir, that’s all very nice in its way, but, well, hm.
Just standing about looking at that oil shale wasn’t going to accomplish much, was it?
See John Hultquist’s more powerful point at 10:34pm. #(:))

john karajas

cnxtim: Come off the grass mate! As an experienced Aussie geologist, I have nothing but admiration as to how “Yankee ingenuity” took the techniques of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing and applied them successfully to “tight” shale formations. Just one question, though: was this done on any scale prior to USA application anywhere else in the world? Love to know.

cnxtim

jim, simple fact is they did and they have without any goyi
Can you imagine a country where all the bus’s, taxis and most of the long-distance truck run on actual gas (not refined petrol or diesel)?
No need, they exist beyond your boundaries and have for decades, and even better they are now relegating nonsense UNsustainable renewables to the history books along with their rusted on greenuts – where they belong.

outtheback

But Obama was right.
Sea level rise is slowing down and the world has stopped warming.
Coincidence?
Nr 10 on the list of reasons why the warming has stopped.
Anyway, we better make good use of this period of plenty and develop something affordable and long lasting, like it or lump it one day oil will only come from difficult places where it will be pumped if the price is $200 or more a barrel.
Nothing to do with AGW or whatever it is called these days and even if oil and/or gas is abiotic eventually with the ever increasing rate of consumption we will scrape the bottom of the barrel.
At $200 a barrel solar and wind will seem affordable too.

Hari Seldon

Whogives a shit who did what and when? The windmills are dying! (in my dreams at least)

Janice Moore

Mr. or Ms. C. N. Xtim,
And just who invented the predecessors to those buses, taxis, and trucks?
Good for you to be proud of what Jews have done — a whole lot! Being proud of what you can do “without any goyi{m}” is fine. Perhaps, though, you might pause and think a moment that it is pardonable in us Yankees {both those who are Jewish and those who are not so fortunate} to be a bit proud, too?
Thank you, nevertheless, for reminding us Americans that others (such as Australia! — good on you, John Karajas) have also made important, enduring, contributions to science.
Your Gentile Friend (who loves the Jews),
Janice

Solar and wind costs are still falling so output from them is still rising despite total investment dropping. The Chinese economy is now driving ….. more and more coal stations are being mothballed as renewable have a momentum without recourse to subsidy.

fredb

Funny story. My renewable energy shares have risen frmo $4 to $18 in the last year. If that’s evidence of decline, roll on decline

andygood87 says:
March 1, 2014 at 11:03 pm
Solar and wind costs are still falling so output from them is still rising despite total investment dropping. The Chinese economy is now driving ….. more and more coal stations are being mothballed as renewable have a momentum without recourse to subsidy.

Wrong. “Renewable” are viable NOWHERE in the world without rate subsidies, friendly tax subsidies, fabrication subsidies, and permanent backup from conventional fossil and nuclear power plants. Not everywhere, but such “legal” fraud as the Spanish company that powered their solar plant at night using floodlights from a nuclear power plant ….
Nowhere in the world are wind and solar plants competitive except isolated off-grid location (islands, remote low-power sites where no other lines can be run.
The EPA is demanding through bureaucrat dictates that fossil plants be shutdown – not through rational policies nor long-range planning. Just dictatorship-mandated rulings based on a compliant injustice system based on lies and propaganda.
Every wind turbine requires expensive shutdown and maintenance times that are NOT being routinely subsidies: Wait another five years and let’s just see how many have burned up. Who will pay for their stripping, their roads, their waste?

Janice Moore

@ Fred B. — SELL. Now.
Your friendly investment advisor.

Phillip Bratby

Several proposed UK offshore wind farms have been camcelled in the last few months. It is the result of subsidies being cuts, costs rising and the realisation by developers that wind turbines do not perform as the salesmen claim and their performance degrades rapidly as they age. By 15 years they are total junk.

Colorado Wellington

fredb says:
March 1, 2014 at 11:10 pm

Funny story. My renewable energy shares have risen frmo $4 to $18 in the last year. If that’s evidence of decline, roll on decline…

Janice Moore says:
March 1, 2014 at 11:24 pm

@ Fred B. — SELL. Now.
Your friendly investment advisor.

I ran the numbers. It’s a splendid hockey stick. Don’t sell, Fred. Your stock will rise to $80 this year and will sit pretty at $350 in 2015. Don’t sell.
I’d show you the math if I didn’t think Janice would try to find something wrong with it.

Janice Moore

My dear Lord Wellington,
As if. #(:)) My advice is based solely on intuition based on information I read about markets, current events, etc… and my own knowledge. Your figures would be unassailable by me.
And after all your graciousness toward me these past few months, I would not even want to try. I hope March in Colorado is going well for you so far.
(I still think Fred ought to sell, though)
Your WUWT pal,
Janice

Joe Adam-smith

Please use proper terminology, folks – don’t fall into the Greenist DoubleSpeak. Firstly, use wind turbines, not windmills Windmills use the power of the wind to mill (ground) corn. Second, don’t use windfarms. Sounds green and environmentally friendly. Call them what they are – wind power stations. (Well they ARE supposed to produce power…)
And, finally, please refer to the European Union as the European Soviet Union – for that is what it is: a replacement for the USSR

Colorado Wellington

I am sorry to contradict your intuition, my dear Lady Janice, but the renewable energy hockey stick math is robust. I did it on a spreadsheet.

Rhys Jaggar

Alternatively, technology in renewables may improve over the next 3 or 4 decades, rendering it a worthwhile investment in 2050?? I include in that, modes of renewable energy which have neither been conceived yet nor developed into prototypes, demonstration plants or commercial scale undertakings……

tango

the sorry state in Australia is the scrapping of the carbon tax has hit a brick wall with labour and the dumb greens have stopped PM Tony Abbott so far in scrapping the carbon tax which is destroying Australian industry, the green rat bags are all very happy can you believe that

ConfusedPhoton

What is not discussed is the cost of decommissioning renewable energy generation. For example think of all the concrete and turbines that will have to be disposed of safely. This will not be insignificant!

rogerknights

cnxtim says:
March 1, 2014 at 10:43 pm
jim, simple fact is they did and they have without any goyi

What did they do? Did they pioneer fracturing, as Goreham claimed the US had done? Here’s what you offer as proof:

Can you imagine a country where all the bus’s, taxis and most of the long-distance truck run on actual gas (not refined petrol or diesel)?
No need, they exist beyond your boundaries and have for decades,

Those users’ countries pioneered the consumption of natural gas, not its production.

Tucci78

At 10:06 PM on 1 March, cnxtim groused:

Please, “Using good old Yankee ingenuity” enough of the jingoistic drivel. engineers from all over the world have known about the ‘next mile’ extraction of carbon reserves for decades.

Sorry, but all indications are that the combination of dirigible multiple-shaft horizontal drilling (to make methane and liquid petroleum economically viable from extremely deep strata like that of the Marcellus Shale), fractional casing perforation, and hydraulic fracturing – which are all subsumed by the expression “fracking” – really was first effected by American petrochemicals extraction engineers here in these United States.
Live with it.

rogerknights

fredb says:
March 1, 2014 at 11:10 pm
Funny story. My renewable energy shares have risen frmo $4 to $18 in the last year. If that’s evidence of decline, roll on decline…

There has been a bounce in renewable energy shares in the past year, but nothing like what yours have seen. A large part of it has come from the EC’s recent vote to buy carbon trading permits (subsequent to Goreham’s claim of the opposite) and from Obama’s push to close down coal power plants. Another part of it has come from the enthusiasm of greenie investors for the sector. I doubt that this bounce is sustainable.

Stephen Richards

Bill H says:
March 1, 2014 at 10:09 pm
Given that the EU is no longer subsidizing wind farms
Bill, this is simply not ‘completely’ true. As Obama le Menteur said “there is more than one way to skin a cat”.
The EU is forcing members to subsidise bird mincers through their co² directives. Note directives not rules or suggestions. They are dictators, they direct.

A. Scott

Hydraulic “fracking” as others have noted isn’t a “new” technology … its been around in the US since the mid 1900’s … commercial viability came more recently in the 1980’s as horizontal fracking began.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydraulic_fracturing_in_the_United_States

jaymam

New Zealand power generation and demand:
http://www.lincoln.ac.nz/PageFiles/12814/NZ-electricty-map.png
Look! Almost no coal (half of one power station), a little bit of wind, almost no solar PV.
Otherwise mostly hydro and geothermal.

Streetcred

Spain slashed solar subsidies in 2009 and photovoltaic sales fell 80 percent in a single year. Germany cut subsidies in 2011 and 2012 and the number of jobs in the German solar industry dropped by 50 percent.

Yeah, so much for the “sustainable” in the energy and development scam.

J Martin

andygood87 said on March 1, 2014 at 11:03 pm
Solar and wind costs are still falling so output from them is still rising despite total investment dropping. The Chinese economy is now driving ….. more and more coal stations are being mothballed as renewable have a momentum without recourse to subsidy.

The only coal fired power stations being closed are the very old low capacity and ineficient ones, mostly in the USA. None of the large high capacity coal stations have closed, not even in the USA where they do more gas fracking than anywhere else in the World. Meanwhile Germany and especially China are building new generation larger and significntly more efficient coal fired power stations. Worldwide overall energy generation by coal is increasing. A terrible waste of a valuable chemical resource.
Thorium is what we should be moving towards. If only all the money that has been wasted on so called renewables had been put into developing Thorium power. Appalling short sighted policies, that’s what politicians do best.

Jimbo

It seems the good news for carbon free sources of energy ended in 1999.

Roger Pielke Jr – 9 July 2013
“Clean Energy Stagnation
Growth in Renewables Outpaced by Fossil Fuels
The world was moving faster towards reducing its reliance on carbon intensive energy consumption in the 1970s and 1980s than in the past several decades. In fact, over the past 20 years there has been little if any progress in expanding the share of carbon-free energy in the global mix. Despite the rhetoric around the rise of renewable energy, the data tells a far different story……
The figure above shows the proportion of global energy consumption that comes from carbon-free sources. These sources include nuclear, hydro, solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass……
However, since 1999 the proportion of carbon-free energy in the global mix has dropped slightly…….”
http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/voices/roger-pielke-jr/clean-energy-stagnation/

Stephen Richards

rogerknights says:
March 2, 2014 at 1:19 am
fredb says:
March 1, 2014 at 11:10 pm
Funny story. My renewable energy shares have risen from $4 to $18 in the last year. If that’s evidence of decline, roll on decline
Roger, FredB is largely correct. Vestas’ shares have shown a rock solid rise over the last 3 years and continue to hold their ground. Green investors are putting large sums of money into the market based on EU and government promises worlwide to continue with the subsidise. In the UK, wave technology is beginning it’s meteoric rise through large scale investments from other countries because the UK CC act is still pumping huge subsidies into the enrgy market.
The UK is in dire straits, IMHO, because they will be forced, by the EU and their own CCAct, to close several coal fired stations in 2015 with no backup technology in place.
The dismissal of their legacy polititians is their only hope but the people do not have either the intellect or the courage to do that.
INTERESTING TIMES ARE COMING !

Stephen Richards

ConfusedPhoton says:
March 2, 2014 at 1:06 am
What is not discussed is the cost of decommissioning renewable energy generation. For example think of all the concrete and turbines that will have to be disposed of safely. This will not be insignificant!
There is no cost. The green generators will go bust and leave their merde in situ to rot away. What’s not to like about green technology.

Frank

John writes: ” Stopping the Planet from warming and the sea from rising was going to be the good news.” He should declare victory. That dang’ed ol’ planet did stop warming. Good job Obama!

Frank

“If only all the money that has been wasted on so called renewables had been put into developing Thorium power. Appalling short sighted policies, that’s what politicians do best.”
But what makes us think the government won’t come up with appallingly short sighted strategies to make Thorium uneconomic. That’s the problem when the government starts to pick winners and losers. It’s really bad at it.

Juan Slayton

Janice, Fred, Wellington, Insiders Trading, Other disinterested persons:
I sold my SPWR stock the day after Christmas, 2012, at $5.50. Today, it’s $33.13. Some companies prosper, others don’t. Individual investment transactions tell nothing about industry trends. Remains to be seen how various companies fare as government incentives fall away.
: > )

J Martin

@ Stephen Richards. “The dismissal of their legacy polititians is their only hope but the people do not have either the intellect or the courage to do that.”
The people have been brainwashed, but as information about the real state of the climate gradually leaks out to the wider populace that situation will change. The UK people have shown courage in adversity before and I believe will do so again shoud the need arise. Intellect is not necessarily required, ever colder winters combined with ever climbing energy prices will serve just as well. That process will speed up as the “pause” continues and especially so if the slight cooling that we have seen over the last 6 years steepens as must be inevitable given the prolonged low solar high and the increasing likelyhood of the next solar cycle being still lower. Not to mention a negative PDO and a soon to go negative AMO.
“Legacy politicians”, fabulous phrase, I love it.

Non Nomen

@Bill H
“Given that the EU is no longer subsidizing wind farms I suspect that there will be piles of rusting steel soon and a very ugly eye sore… But then we knew this was coming.”
Absolutely right. Wind turbine companies went bust and solar panel manufacturers as well. But then the real problem occurs: it’s been the chinese that bought the remainders almost for nothing and then walked away with very sophisticated technology smiling like fat copy cats . And in consequence, more jobs will be lost all over the world. Competition is good, monopoly isn’t at all. I’m afraid we’re on the road to oligopoly already. I think that reasonable subsidies should be given to keep up with state-of-the-art technology.

Jimbo

The problem with doomers and peak oilers is they assume technological innovations are not taking place in the background. I found out that at least back to the 1960s a few patents were filed techniques to recover shale oil and gas via hydraulic fracturing. In 1976 Othar Kiel introduced high rate pumping for “hesitation” or “dendritic” fractures. Today Kiel’s ideas are used by some in the the shale gas industry.
http://www.thepttc.org/newsletter/v17n1.pdf

PATENT – 1957
Process for recovery of petroleum from sands and shale
US 2813583 A
…..These natural vertical fractures do not, in general, permit sustained commercial production from the principal sandstone layers, and it is therefore desirable to apply hydraulic fracturing which enlarges them and appreciably increases the recovery of oil therefrom……
http://www.google.com/patents/US2813583

These very same kind of assumptions are made about future sources. Think methane hydrates and work being carried out into nuclear fusion. OK it’;s always “just a decade away” but it just needs ONE very important breakthrough and it’s a new ball game.

Jimbo

Al Gore saw the writing on the wall a couple of years back and withdrew his investment company’s holdings in renewables. When Al Gore gets out you know it will soon be over.

“Al Gore bails from green energy investment” – 2012
…..“Generation Investment says it is all about climate change, but it is just a typical investment fund with typical stocks,” Gunderson said.
“It has Amazon, Colgate Palmolive, eBay, Nielsen, Qualcomm, Strayer University and a smattering of stocks from biotech and health care. Not one company that makes solar panels, or windmills or biogas or electric cars. Catheters and commercial real estate, yes. Solar panels, no.”….
http://www.wnd.com/2012/09/al-gore-bails-from-green-energy-investment/

SEC records for Generation Investment Management LLP
http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1375534/000117266112000799/generation2q12.txt

Mike McMillan

J Martin says: March 2, 2014 at 1:38 am
Thorium is what we should be moving towards. If only all the money that has been wasted on so called renewables had been put into developing Thorium power. Appalling short sighted policies, that’s what politicians do best.

The better use for all those subsidies would have been the development of electrical storage to overcome intermittency, the Achilles heel of renewables. Governments should be subsidizing only those (essential) areas that the private sector can’t. Wind turbines are as efficient as they are ever going to get, and thorium and increases in solar electric efficiency will come of their own. They don’t need subsidies.
If those billions had been spent on storage, however, we might today be in a position where we didn’t need to build a megawatt of reliable conventional to back up every megawatt of intermittent renewable.

Jimbo

andygood87 says:
March 1, 2014 at 11:03 pm
Solar and wind costs are still falling so output from them is still rising despite total investment dropping. The Chinese economy is now driving ….. more and more coal stations are being mothballed as renewable have a momentum without recourse to subsidy.

But their share has not risen in the energy mix for a long time now despite the hullabloo. As for China and coal use it seems they have other plans.

More than 1,000 new coal plants planned worldwide, figures show
World Resources Institute identifies 1,200 coal plants in planning across 59 countries, with about three-quarters in China and India
A coal-burning power station in Beijing, China – the country is planning to build 363 new coal-fired power plants.
Coal plants are the most polluting of all power stations and the World Resources Institute (WRI) identified 1,200 coal plants in planning across 59 countries, with about three-quarters in China and India……
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/nov/20/coal-plants-world-resources-institute

The USA maybe hell bent on closing its coal fired power stations but COAL MINING and exports continue. Where do you think that coal goes to? Answer: China and other Asian nations.

In 2013, five coal export terminals were in the planning stages in the Pacific Northwest.
2012
The economic expansion in Asia is ramping up that region’s demand for coal. And the energy resource is in abundance in the Powder River Basin that straddles the Montana-Wyoming border.
But how to get it from the Rocky Mountain heartland of North America to factories and power plants in China, Japan, South Korea?
That’s where proposed coal export terminals come in.
http://earthfix.opb.org/energy/article/coal-score-card/

A. Scott

Solar and wind will likely never be commercially viable in any large scale basis. They require massive subsidies, and drive up electric costs significantly where used. They currently pay little or nothing towards the grid despite their causing significant problems and spikes due to their intermittency problems. And presently in many cases renewables are receiving retail rates for power fed to the grid – which is wholly unsustainable – if you sell to the grid you should be paid the same or similar wholesale price, a [price that reflects the operating costs of the grid, and covers any work needed to the grid to handle the variable extra power.
Wind and solar will still also need virtually 100% stand alone dedicated backup power – as their capacity factor is in the low 20% or less range. Even in a best case area the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow the vast majority of the time. Sometimes for days on end.
For every watt of wind or solar generation there must be a watt of fossil fueled conventional backup generation … running online 24/7/365 – to handle power demands when solar and wind stop. That backup generation must come from inefficient and dirtier peaking load plants, that can provide power on demand … as compared to much more efficient and clean base load plants that run at near full load all day, every day year round.
Germany found emissions have increased with the addition of significant solar renewable energy – I believe it was 1.5% increase in emissions, vs a decrease of appx 1.3% annually in the EU … net appx 2.8% increase in emissions by using solar.
The only possibly viable option is small scale rooftop solar … provided IMO they also have natural gas backup generation onsite as well. And provided they receive wholesale costs for any power sold to the grid, AND pay their fair share of the costs of operating and maintaining the grid.
The economics of large scale solar are simply ridiculous, in many ways. The huge Ivanpah solar farm recently in the news (for frying large numbers of birds etc) covers some 3,500 acres of land with massive mirror arrays focused on a massive 459 foot tall tower. Cost $2.2 billion with $1.6 billion of that from a federally guaranteed loan.
It allegedly provides power for 140,000 homes. Left out of all the press releases is the capacity factor is under 25% … a conventional base load power plant provides power more than 90% of the time – the Ivanpah site capacity factors is claimed at 28.74% – in my opinion based on other info, that is exaggerated.
Compare Ivanpah with its 377 MW nameplate capacity, appx 28.74% capacity factor at best, and supplying energy for an alleged appx 140,000 homes during peak hours of the day, to a single base load plant like XCEL Energy Sherco Power plant in Minnesota … with its 2,400 MW nameplate capacity and 95+% capacity factor, the XCEL Sherco plant powers more than 2 million homes essentially all the time.comment image

Ian W

Joe Adam-smith says:
March 2, 2014 at 12:29 am
Please use proper terminology, folks – don’t fall into the Greenist DoubleSpeak. Firstly, use wind turbines, not windmills Windmills use the power of the wind to mill (ground) corn. Second, don’t use windfarms. Sounds green and environmentally friendly. Call them what they are – wind power stations. (Well they ARE supposed to produce power…)

I agree that we should call these collections of wind turbines by their correct name, that is subsidy farms . They only exist while subsidies are available, the subsidies are only paid if wind turbines are erected, as soon as subsidies stop the wind turbines are abandoned. Hence they are subsidy farms , generation of electricity is only a by product of subsidy farming.