QUICK NEWS, 4-29: A GO FOR U.S. OFFSHORE WIND; STOP THE LIES ABOUT WIND; OFFSHORE OIL IS SAFE UNTIL IT ISN’T; OIL CO BUYS GEOTHERMAL
A GO FOR U.S. OFFSHORE WIND
Cape Wind, first U.S. offshore wind farm, approved
Ros Krasny (w/ Scott DiSavin, Scott Malone and Doina Chiacu), April 28, 2010 (Reuters)
"The first U.S. offshore wind farm, a giant project 5 miles/8 km off the Massachusetts coast, was approved… after years of opposition…U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar gave the green light for the historic 130-turbine, 420-megawatt Cape Wind project in Horseshoe Shoal, Nantucket Sound, in what supporters considered a huge step forward for renewable energy in the United States…
"Although small in terms of its production… its approval was encouraging to other offshore wind projects already proposed for the East Coast and Great Lakes…The turbines, more than 400 feet high, will dot an area of about 24 square miles (62 square km), larger than Manhattan, [supply enough electricity to power 400,000 houses] and be visible low on the horizon from parts of Cape Cod. The site is tucked between the mainland of the cape…the islands of Martha's Vineyard…and Nantucket."
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"German conglomerate Siemens AG will provide the turbines. Construction is expected to begin before the end of the year, said Jim Gordon, president of Cape Wind Associates. Power generation could begin by 2012.
"The decision to approve Cape Wind, subject to certain conditions designed to protect offshore waters from damage and reduce visibility, is expected to face legal challenges, but Salazar said he was confident the approval would stand…Supporters say wind farms represent a giant push for renewable energy efforts and reducing dependence on foreign oil…Cape Wind was subject to years of environmental review and political maneuvering, including adamant opposition from the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy…[and] two Wampanoag Indian tribes complained that the giant turbines would disturb spiritual sun greetings and possibly ancestral artifacts and burial grounds on the seabed."
Now all this is possible. (click to enlarge)
"Opponents have deemed the project an eyesore, and raised issues ranging from a detrimental effect on property values in the popular vacation area south of Boston, to possible damage to birds, whales, fishing, aviation, and historic sites…U.S. Senator Scott Brown, the Republican elected this year to fill Kennedy's seat…said the project was a threat to regional tourism and fishing…The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation…[also recommended] the project be rejected.
"The governors of six eastern U.S. states shot back in a letter to Salazar, arguing that other offshore projects will likely be abandoned if the Cape Wind project was rejected…Less than 2 percent of wind energy is offshore, but turbine makers see it as an area of huge growth potential…Siemens rival General Electric Co expects to increase its offshore business to generate $3 billion to $5 billion a year over the next few years…"
STOP THE LIES ABOUT WIND
…Actually, Wind Power has Reduced Denmark’s CO2 Emissions a Lot
Matt Wasson, April 27, 2010 (Huffington Post)
"…[C]limate change denier and long time fossil fuel cheerleader Robert Bryce…doesn't know much about renewable energy. Relying on bad science like the Nature Conservancy's "Energy Sprawl" study and thoroughly discredited white papers like "The Case of Denmark" from Bjorn Lomborg's Institute for Energy Studies, Bryce deftly turns common sense on its head to convince his readers that burning more fossil fuels is really the best path to a green energy future.
"…Bryce begins his [Wasington Post] argument with what has become the new favorite talking point of renewable energy detractors and climate change deniers: "solar and wind technologies require huge amounts of land to deliver relatively small amounts of energy, disrupting natural habitats." …In the [Energy Sprawl] study, wind power was presumed to impact an area as much as 300-400 times greater than the actual footprint of the turbines on the land, while the impacts of coal power, for instance, were assumed to go no farther than the footprint of mine permits, leaving aside…habitat fragmentation and wildlife disturbance…the acreage consumed by actual coal-fired power plants, the infrastructure for processing coal and disposing of processing wastes, the rail and barge infrastructure for transporting coal to power plants, or the fills and impoundments used for disposing of coal combustion waste."
Wind's land use is hundreds of times smaller than oil propagandist Bryce claims. (click to enlarge)
"While it should strain the credulity of even the most entrenched climate change denier that a single wind turbine would impact more than 100 football fields worth of land, at least the "Energy Sprawl" study makes clear that only 2-5% of the area is cleared for access roads and a buffer around each turbine. Bryce makes it sound like they're referring to the actual footprint of the turbine, which is about 1/3rd of an acre for a 2MW turbine (or about 1/300th of the land impact estimate cited by Bryce). If a fair comparison were made, wind would produce 10 to 20 times as many watts per square meter as Bryce's hypothetical natural gas well.
"But where Bryce really goes off the deep end is when he states: "Nor does wind energy substantially reduce CO2 emissions. Since the wind doesn't always blow, utilities must use gas or coal-fired generators to offset wind's unreliability. The result is minimal -- or no -- carbon dioxide reduction."
"…[I]t's true that there is not necessarily a one-to-one relationship when it comes to displacement of coal or natural gas by wind. Because of its intermittency, wind requires a certain level of "firming" with conventional or other renewable technologies like biomass and hydro to ensure there is sufficient electricity supply when wind resources are low. That's an issue that could be intelligently discussed and built into energy plans were it not for people like Bryce that use it as an opportunity to confuse the public and mislead them into believing intermittency makes wind an unreliable source of power."
U.S. CO2 will go down dramatically as its wind grows. (click to enlarge)
"More apalling, however, is Bryce's extraordinary claim that wind power results in little or no CO2 reduction. As evidence, he cites the 2007 annual environmental report from Energinet.dk, the largest operator of Denmark's electricity grids…[though Bryce] doesn't appear to have read it[:]…"CO2 emissions vary considerably from year to year, depending on electricity trading. Adjusting for imports and exports resulted in an overall emissions reduction of 23% in the 1990-2007 period. The primary reason is a conversion of Danish electricity and heat generation to less CO2 intensive fuels such as natural gas, coupled with increased use of renewable energy sources"
"So what's the disconnect between Bryce's analysis and reality? As with many small European countries, Denmark's electric grid is integrated into larger grids of neighboring countries…What Bryce has done is compare 1990, a year when Denmark imported a huge proportion of its electricity from other Scandanavian countries, with 2007, a year it was a net exporter of electricity…[The analysis] is based on the bizarre assumption that wind-generated electricity exported to Germany simply disappears from the grid, rather than viewing Denmarks's energy production in the context of a multi-nation integrated grid."
Denmark's CO2 has gone down and will continue going down as it builds more wind. (click to enlarge)
"But the point where Bryce's analysis goes from misleading (or ignorant) to downright dishonest is when he attributes Denmark's success in controlling CO2 emissions to a low population growth rate, while touting the United States' success in decreasing per capita emissions by 2.5% between 1980 and 2006. Keeping with the 1990-2008 time frame from the most recent Energinet.dk report, the US has done somewhat better than that, decreasing per-capita CO2 emissions by about 4.5%. But over that same time period, the Danes have decreased their per capita CO2 emissions by 21%.
"A final piece of distorted analysis provided by Bryce is when he states: '... Through 2017, the Danes foresee no decrease in carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation.'"
Denmark's SO2 has gone down, too. (click to enlarge)
"On the surface, that is true, the Danes project no decrease in carbon dioxide emissions from ELECTRICITY GENERATION over the next decade, but that is because they plan to replace inefficient old oil heaters with heat pumps and transition to far more efficient electric vehicles. The net effect will be an enormous decrease in OVERALL CO2 emissions over that time period. The remarkable thing is that the projected 1.2% annual increases in electricity demand resulting mostly from transitioning to more efficient electric vehicles (10% by 2020) and heat pumps will be met entirely with renewable energy sources, primarily wind. In fact, increasing wind generation up to 20% of their electricity generation has been such a success that the Danes plan to expand their wind generation up to 36% of their electricity mix by 2020.
"On a final note, Bryce ignored the many other environmental benefits Denmark has enjoyed from its rapid transition to renewable energy sources. For instance, sulfur dioxide emissions, which decreased in the US by about 50% between 1990 and 2008, were reduced by 94% in Denmark over the same period…[S]ulfur dioxide emissions are the primary cause of acid rain which, back in the early 90s, was found to be responsible for massive reproductive failure in some species of birds nesting in Northern European forests. The benefits of these reductions for bird populations absolutely dwarfs the impacts of the small number of birds killed by wind turbines…"
OFFSHORE OIL IS SAFE UNTIL IT ISN’T
Oil spill burned in Gulf of Mexico, in hope of saving coast
Steven Mufson, April 29, 2010 (Washington Post)
Rear Adm. Mary Landry, U.S. Coast Guard: "It's premature to say this is catastrophic…I will say that this is very serious."
"The Coast Guard and BP set fire to a portion of the crude oil floating in the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday in a bid to limit the impact of a widening slick, which federal officials said could touch shore in parts of the Louisiana delta as early as Friday evening.
"With BP unable to stop the flow of oil from a deepwater exploration well that blew up last week, attention was turning to the gulf's coastlines, where the spill could threaten wildlife, tourism and the livelihoods of fishermen…[BP] corralled the thickest areas of the oil slick inside fireproof booms, lighted it and burned it…[which] could limit damage to coastal areas…[A] burn off U.S. shores and the prospect of oil landing on the gulf coastline could become powerful symbols of the perils of offshore drilling…"
Latest reports say the spill may be five times bigger than the oil folks say. (click to enlarge)
"The crisis in the gulf is likely to get worse before it gets better. It began April 20, when an oil and gas discovery blew upward, setting the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig on fire. The rig, owned by Transocean and leased to BP, later sank, and 11 of its workers are missing and presumed dead…[O]il could be pouring out of the ground at a rate of up to 5,000 barrels per day…At that rate, this spill may already have surpassed the size of the 1969 Santa Barbara spill that helped lead to the far-reaching moratorium on oil and gas drilling off the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, a ban that Obama recently said he wants to modify…
"BP said Wednesday that it has continued to try, in vain, to use submarine robotic vehicles to activate a malfunctioning blowout-preventer at the site of the well…[F]ederal inquiries into the cause of the accident [will] have to focus on Transocean's preventer…the "failsafe mechanism of the industry"…
"…[BP is] fabricating a 100-ton steel dome the company hopes to lower over the oil leak…but it would take two to four weeks to put it in place, if that can be done at all. The dome would funnel oil, natural gas and seawater into a pipe leading to a floating processing and storage facility. The technique has been used in shallow waters around 350 feet deep…but the current spill is leaking from pipes lying 5,000 feet deep…BP will [also] begin drilling a new well to intercept the leaking one…[but] it will take weeks…"
Coming soon to Gulf Coast beaches. (click to enlarge)
"With that timetable looming, attention was turning to coastlines…Government agencies and BP have set up 100,000 feet of booms to protect sensitive coastal areas. BP has also hired a firm that specializes in rescuing birds…[A] forecast for the spill showed it touching land for the first time this weekend…BP and the Coast Guard are also using chemicals to disperse the oil, which for the most part is spread in a thin sheen…more than 150 miles long and about 30 miles wide.
"A BP official said controlled burns can get rid of 50 to 99 percent of oil within a limited area, but Robert Bea, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California at Berkeley who worked on controlling the damage of the Santa Barbara spill, warned that in open seas, companies have generally captured less than 10 percent of oil spilled."
OIL CO BUYS GEOTHERMAL
Schlumberger's Geothermal Signpost
Dave Forest, April 28, 2010 (Pierce Points Daily Newsletter via Before It’s News)
"…[Signpost events] are happenings, often small in and of themselves, which suggest a larger change rippling through the ether of a business, industry or nation.
"There have been a number of signpost events in the geothermal sector recently…[like] the emerging trend of advanced-stage geothermal projects being bought by major players in the sector such as Ormat."
click to enlarge
"Yesterday… came another…[with] oil-field services major Schlumberger buying out California-based GeothermEx… one of the top groups in the geothermal space doing project feasibility assessments. They have written reports on most of the major geothermal projects in the U.S. and abroad. The group will now become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Schlumberger."
click to enlarge
"The acquisition is an aggressive move by Schlumberger into the geothermal space. The company sees something they like…and they want to be a big part of it.
"This is just one more indication that the geothermal business is 'ready for prime time'. Profitability in the sector is increasing, in large part due to recent tax incentives introduced by the U.S. government…Increased profitability always drives an industry forward…[T]he drive is definitely on for geothermal…"