Interesting articles on energy

david52 Zone 6November 26, 2012

#, which I just stumbled across, about how come they don't sell energy efficient vehicles here. Quote to ponder: For example, Ford builds a high fuel economy diesel engine in Great Britain for the ECOnetic, a small car that gets as much as 71 mpg by U.S. standards, but has a fairly small engine (1.6 litre). Ford executives reportedly believe that two factors make a North American version of the Fiesta ECOnetic uneconomical

So they're selling cars that get 71 mpg in the UK. But the guru's at Ford say that it won't work here.

And then yesterday, an article about the slow demise of coal fired power plants and replacing them with natural gas.

money quote: Firing up the [coal] plant is time-consuming. It takes 10 or 12 hours to get the pulverizers going and the boiler temperatures up.

-snip -
The new [gas] plant would be cooled primarily by air and would use 100,000 gallons of water a day; the coal plant cools itself with 100 million gallons of water a day from the harbor, Furniss said. And, with a new generation of gas turbines GE unveiled in September, the plant could ramp up in as little as 15 minutes, not 10 hours.

So, I was thinking that you use solar during the day, then hit the switch for natural gas at night.

Here is a link that might be useful: at the link

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tobr24u(z6 RI)

It seems that we will also be oil independent soon so the SUV is here to stay...

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 5:18AM
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Dave, solar during the day in winter-time might be feasible in the southwest, but not in the northeast corridor with orders of magnitude more population density and as many cloudy zero-solar-gain days as sunny ones.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 7:45AM
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david52 Zone 6

We tend to forget that coal-fired power plants pretty much need to run all the time, even if the demand isn't there. Thats an awful lot of pollution for not much benefit. The example in the article is some ancient plant, but the same hold true for all of them: they take hours and hours to 'warm up' to be able to produce electricity. Which is why they offer such enormous differentials on nighttime vs daytime consumption - the plants are running all night long even if the demand isn't there. Our coop charges 10 cents a KWA. If you sign up, you can use all the power you want at night for 3 cents, and daytime at 14 cents.

Thats an awful lot of coal being burned for not much use. It also fits in with the concept that there already exists enough generating capacity to replace the entire fleet of gasoline powered cars with electric cars, just charge them at night.

With these new gas plants, you just hit the switch, 15 minutes later, power. Not to mention the (supposed) vast reserves and at least the burning part is cleaner. The frackng part is still an open question.

I posted recently a link to an article about solar power in Germany - they now have enough capacity that on a sunny day, they can run the entire country.

I guess the big point is that us 'Mericans are so stuck with the fossil fuel propaganda and disproportionate weight the industry has on the political / subsidy process that we can't seem to comprehend that the rest of the world is moving on - we are as well, in spite of all the noise.

/now lets start trashing Solyndra.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 11:49AM
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Ah, I meant to post to your Solar thread, re the storage of solar and wind energy--the technology has been up and running for decades, even in the US, I believe.

That said, national (global?) energyplans are drafted in back rooms, and forced onto the citizenry. And everything that threatens this monopoly will be fought tooth and nails.

What it needs is a de-centralized energy net. As for gas--everywhere natural gas runs, Methane can run too.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 12:16PM
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Brushworks Spectacular Finishes(5)


Germany has plans to build 10 coal fired power plants.

It is amazing how biased the international media is when it comes to reporting on energy generation, specifically electricity.

In mid-August, Germany opened a new 2200MW coal-fired power station near Cologne, and virtually not a word has been said about it. This dearth of reporting is even more surprising when one considers that Germany has said building new coal plants is necessary because electricity produced by wind and solar has turned out to be unaffordably expensive and unreliable.

The article goes on to state...

That means that, when they build 3,000MW of wind power, they expect to actually get merely 900MW, because the wind does not always blow at the required speeds. But in reality, after ten years, they have discovered that they are actually getting only half of what they had optimistically, and irrationally, hoped for: a measly 16.3 percent.

Even worse, after spending billions of Euros on subsidies, Germany�s total combined solar facilities have contributed a miserly, imperceptible 0.084% of Germany�s electricity over the last 22 years. That is not even one-tenth of one percent.

Moreover, the actual cost of Germany�s wind and solar electricity is far and away higher than its cost of coal and nuclear power. So much for "free" solar and wind. So much for all the German jobs that depend on reliable access to plentiful and affordable electricity.

I guess Germany doesn't generate enough solar to run the entire country.

Here is a link that might be useful: Propaganda

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 12:37PM
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I've never quite understood why electrical usage is so much less at night, at least during winter in the northern latitudes.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 12:43PM
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CFact? You must be joking.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 1:01PM
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Circus Peanut

Brushworks, as you must be able to tell, that article is rather crazily biased (never heard of Cfact, but it's definitely skewed on the presentation of this particular issue).

I'll try to find good neutral English-language sources that describe the current situation of the German EEG (renewable energy law). The inclusion of thermal energy (e.g., coal) was part of the EEG plan from the get-go -- nobody expected that a full transition would happen within a few years or even a few decades.

The latest big media hoopla is spurred by the recent increase in the required surcharge levied on all energy customers. Minister of Energy Peter Altmaier has accused the energy companies of raising the charge higher than necessary to cover their own costs of making the changeover. The coal and nuclear industrien have been fighting the EEG tooth and nail, of course, helped out by political cronies in government. Like all huge governmental reforms (see: Obamacare), this one also keeps getting changed by the party or coalition currently in power.

Merkel is quite worried about votes in upcoming election, and thus her guy Altmeier wants to slow down the rising cost of the switchover to voters. Thus his proposal for more coal power plants to cover the gap more cheaply.

So that's the driving factor here, not the "failure" of German alternative energy per se as tritely concluded in the Cfact report.

Gotta run, more on this later. (I also meant to respond to David's earlier German wind thread and was derailed by life's minutiae.)

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 2:40PM
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david52 Zone 6

It looks like I'm way off on the solar power for the entire country. It looks more like they now have the capacity for 25% of their power from renewables, at the link is one article, search for "german green energy record" for many different takes on the same thing.

Brushworks, if you group all the energy produced over the last 22 years, its gonna skew things towards coal, doncha think? :-)

Re the new German coal plants, they're going pretty hightech, and it looks like they've found a solution to running at near or full capacity all the time.

They do point out that they still emit an awful lot of carbon. But then in Colorado, they're burning less coal for power, but the mines are increasing production, sending the coal to China.

/climate? We're still headed over the cliff

Here is a link that might be useful: link to article on new german coal plants

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 2:47PM
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You betcha, David... and we should be seeing that cliff edge rather shortly...

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 3:39PM
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Brushworks Spectacular Finishes(5)

Germany is building 10 coal fired power plants. Regardless of your attacks on the site, that won't cancel the fact that they are relying on coal. I doubt that Germany generates enough solar power to supply the US military installations there, let alone the entire country (which David claims).

The road to the sunny, clean future is not as smooth as it seemed.

Is BBC an approved source for the ones who always challenge a link, but can't find their own?

Here is a link that might be useful: More Coal for Germany

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 3:56PM
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david52 Zone 6

Brushworks I said I was wrong, I mis-read something earlier. its currently 25 % renewables - largely solar and wind. And yes, Germany is building 10 new coal-fired power plants, what with their decision to phase out nuclear power what with not wanting their own Chernobyl, convinced by the recent disaster in Japan.

Your BBC link talks about that, my link to Spiegel talks about how their new coal plants are far more efficient, and are able to gear down to 10% capacity when the load is off.

We are in agreement that there is going to continue to be a lot of coal-sourced CO2 headed in the sky for years to come.

At the link is something I posted a week or so ago about the problems the Germans are having with their subsidized solar, and the general trends in the country. It got one response and disappeared.

I guess now is the season, when I look down at the filthy yellow horizon to the south from the garbage the two NW New Mexico coal plants spew out year after un-regulated year, my mind turns to cleaner alternatives....

Here is a link that might be useful: link to article about solar power problems in Germany

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 4:13PM
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The situation with Germany illustrates why large-scale solar and wind installs are not all over the developed world: because it's much more expensive, on average, than coal and/or gas. It will remain that way for quite some time. So soon as the cost switches the other way (if it ever does) they will sprout like mold on whole wheat bread.

Why do we keep expecting big investors to make stupid decisions? They don't, but governments sometimes do.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 6:32PM
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david52 Zone 6

There was another tidbit that I didn't know - diesel contains more energy than gasoline per unit of volume.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 11:13AM
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