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.
Valentine’s Day can bring out the best and the worst in people.
In this new “love ballad” by the Energy Policy Alliance, we see how the inherent need to be loved is not just a human trait anymore. How certain sectors of the energy industry can take on human emotions of neglect, rejection and the wear and tear of getting older.
Unfortunately, this can bring out the worst in not only humans, but industry as well, and desperation can set in. Such is the case with all relationships, and the choice is ours to decide whether we want to see the glass half-full, or half-empty. To appreciate what we have, or lament what we are lacking.
It looks as though Mrs. Oil has a half-empty attitude, but can you blame her given her long run at the top and being the most universally adored and fought over energy for decades? Changes are bound to happen as nothing lasts forever, and the global energy environment is at its most dynamic position shy Ms. Black Gold’s storming the stage not more than a hundred years ago to claim the spotlight.
Is Mrs. Oil starting to get desperate? Is she seeing the writing on the wall? Is she trying to steal the noteworthy fame of her fellow energy divas knowing full well they frequented the same clubs, but rarely socialized directly with each other all through their history?
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?
There is currently much “buzz” about methane releases from Natural Gas Exploration & Production (NG E&P), especially with regards to the buzzword friendly “Fracking” dominating all discussions. The NG industry is clearly “green washing” the public through slick advertisements, as it knocks off its primary competitor Coal, and has already surpassed Nuclear for electrical output in the US.
The fact of the matter is, there are currently NG “Peaker” plants associated with almost all existing Coal and Nuclear plants, often on the same properties, owned and operated by the same generation company. This is really no different than many of our most famous hydroelectric dams being built with coal plants just out of view of the sweeping and magnificent concrete arches. Glen Canyon Dam, on the mighty Colorado River, and the 2,225 MW Navajo Generation Plant were paired in construction under the CRSP (Colorado River Storage Project) to mitigate water storage requirement priority over hydroelectric generation.
My use of the word “competitor”, when we discuss Natural Gas in contrast to Nuclear or Coal, becomes very much a gray area once we dig into the numbers of overall electrical production. But back to the topic of methane releases.
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.