Within the context of South African energy development, and less so within the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), I often find myself being misunderstood as to the role coal plays within the energy economy.
I recognize, on the surface, many observers and colleagues alike, may gather an impression I am advocating for the unequivocal closure of all coal assets and the direct economies they support. Nothing could be further from the truth, and although my knowledge and experiences tell me, coal’s impacts on the global climate are negative, with dire human and economic consequences, I have long since passed the days of being an ‘environmental crusader’, motivated by heart, not facts and reality.
Ending all coal fired electric generation tomorrow, if this was my position, would be pushing for the closure of currently operational power stations and ceasing the capital flow of hemorrhaging new builds under construction, struggling to meet project deadlines and cost projections. My pragmatism steers me clear of any designs that risk a near certain economic collapse regardless some “ideal energy world” I may dream up.
Legacy electrical generation technologies; coal, large hydro & nuclear, are falling under their own weight of inflexibility in demand response, costly and time sensitive project delays and a growing public and financial understanding of their long standing dependence on subsidies, an once accepted necessity in meeting “developed world” baseload needs to fuel strong economies. Continue reading Keystone XL, a positive statement to changing global energy dynamics?
We have 3-4 billion in a rush to get energy (China, Africa, India, SE Asia & less so South America), while a billion or so already have it (USA, Canada, a decent part of Europe, South Korea, select Middle Eastern countries, and up until the Tsunami, Japan). The latter fell into the trap of needing to refurbish legacy plants (coal & nuclear) while bringing on national gas (NG) and renewable energy (RE). While the former are building whatever they can, maybe at a 10 to 1 ratio (fossils/nuclear/large hydro to REs).
I recently responded to a post on LinkedIn in the “Energy Innovation by Statoil” group about wind turbines being “unappealing” visually within the discussion brought about by a completely wide-open question “How do you feel about wind farms?”
Obviously, that is a subjective question, setting the stage for far ranging arguments lacking substantiated reasoning. This being akin to the common misunderstanding of billowing exhaust plumes at power plants thought to be laden with green house gases, pollution and toxic chemicals. The reality being, most of the visible “offenses” are waste heat removal through water evaporation cooling, not the invisible fossil fuel combustion effluent as commonly believed.
It was also stated, wind farms can be the cause of drought, which initially caught me off guard as I have lived and breathed water issues the past 20 years and it is a major determinant in my self assessed classification as “A Westerner”. Water is in our blood, both figuratively and literally. A transplant, to the western US, can be easily identified based on their lack of understanding and comprehension of where their water comes from and exactly how precious it is to maintaining our lifestyles. “Water Wars” are not just some future post apocalyptic scenario, they have been fought for over a century here in the United States.
A nice highlight of some of the key differences between the US model and that of the Danes, although this could be said of the European models in general.
How long until we recognize a focus on communal efforts for collective gains as opposed to idolizing individual achievements results in better overall outcome?
What I have seen working with global leaders in their industries here in the US is more consistent with the European business and social cultures, a drive for efficiency and a greater prioritization on accountability.
Author’s note: This is a beta format, temporary post. 7/23/14 I find myself needlessly having to explain these limitations countless times, effectively wasting time explaining the reality of PV to those unfamiliar with these real world limitations. Under current implementation trends, and infinite variability, residential solar rarely breaks a threshold of 30% nameplate capacity (adjust for region and day of the year) that can be considered baseload, reliable input to the grid.
Current trends, especially in the U.S., of PV’s effective implementation, are proceeding down a pathway that are counterproductive to maximizing our investments with the overall goal being to significantly reduce our release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
If we do not do this second part with an altruistic twist, those less fortunate will attempt to come up to our standards through whatever means possible. As seen in China, those “whatever” means will be through “cheaper” means, most likely conventional fossils fuels or enormously expensive large scale hydro.
In the debate over SUVs and larger vehicles being needed for “safety” over going smaller more economical, either for ecological or economical reasons, the data doesn’t match the “Status Quo” Conventional Wisdom pushed by many, including the “Global Warming Skeptics”. So let’s look at the “big” argument in favor of “Larger is Better”, and Semis versus Passenger Vehicles. [No this is not a male enhancement advertisement, heads out of the gutter please 😉 ]
Maybe a “factor” in choosing safety over economy, should be respecting the semi in the first place. Cut one off, drive in it’s blind spots, drive like an idiot around one, be accepting of Newton’s Law when it plows into you.