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Monthly Archives: February 2016
From SAFE Advisory Board member, Nancy Gilberg:
“Salem Sound Coastwatch put on another fantastic program last night. The first presenter was Keith Cialino of NOAA’s Marine Debris Program, who gave me permission to share info from his slides. Pretty stunning statistics. Here’s info from his first four slides:”
What is marine debris? Marine debris is “any persistent solid material that is manufactured or processed and directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally, disposed of or abandoned into the marine environment or the Great Lakes.”Marine debris sources:
- Ocean based:
- Commercial and recreational fishing operations.
- Derelict and abandoned vessels.
- Offshore industry (e.g. aquaculture; oil rigs)
- Land based:
- Storm drains
- Illegal dumping
- Accidental or storm-related movement from land (wind, hurricanes, flooding)2010 statistics: 270 million metric tons of global plastic production (amount of plastic stuff produced worldwide). 275 million metric tons global plastic waste (yes, that means we threw away more than we produced that year). 8 million metric tons of plastic waste made its way to the ocean. (Source: Jambeck et. al., Science 2015)What does 8 million metric tons look like? The above statistic (8 million metric tons of waste entering ocean in 2010) is the equivalent of 5 grocery bags of garbage per 1 foot of shoreline worldwide (Source: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/02/150212-ocean-debris-plastic-garbage-patches-science/)
Marine debris from below in Hawaii.
Image source: NOAA's Marine Debris Program's website
The following email was sent our Co-Chair, Jeffrey Barz-Snell, out to the SAFE listserve regarding a bill in the House that could bring solar power business in our state to a grinding halt. We are posting Jeffrey’s letter here as well and hope that you will write your State Representatives and State Senators as a result. Here are the links to a template for a sample letter:
Jeffrey’s letter to SAFE:
Hello SAFE supporters,
As we all know there is an attempt by Speaker DeLeo here in Massachusetts to change the regulations that permit the growth of solar and wind power here in the Commonwealth. Representative DeLeo is listening to lobbyists for the public utilities and trying to undermine the business model on which solar and wind projects are based; specifically no longer obligating public utilities to buy back power from solar systems at almost the same exact price for which they are selling it. This is calledNet Metering and it is a key regulation anywhere that solar has grown as an industry here in the US and around the world.
The State of Nevada has already changed their net metering regulations, (through their Public Utilities Commission) and the impacts are significant and devastating to solar system owners and users in the state. Similar sorts of changes to solar regulations are now being proposed in many states all over the country, in what appears to be a coordinated effort to undermine the growth of solar and wind power generation. Here’s an article about what has happened in Nevada:
This cannot and should not happen here in Massachusetts. Call your local representative and senator (Paul Tucker and Joan Lovely here in Salem) and tell them you oppose House Bill 3854, which will change net metering rules and greatly reduce (or even eliminate) the growth of solar and wind generation here in the Commonwealth. And encourage your friends and family all over the state to do the same.
[NOTE: SAFE needs signatures to prevent the cost of gas leaks onto us ratepayers, but more importantly, to STOP the gas leaks altogether. Sign our online petition today!]
An aging gas well, lack of any inspections since 1976, and a sloppy “quick fix” in 1979 led to the worst natural gas disaster in Porter Ranch, California. [Update: the leak was temporarily stopped this past Thursday.]
From LA Weekly contributor, Gene Maddaus:
SS-25 was cemented only from the bottom up to a depth of 6,600 feet. The rest — more than a mile of steel pipe — was left exposed to the rock formation. At the top, the 7-inch casing is surrounded by an 11¾-inch surface casing, which is cemented to the rock. But a new well also would have a layer of cement between those casings to provide greater strength and protection from corrosion.
Gas is now leaking through a hole in the 7-inch casing at 470 feet down to the bottom of the outer casing at 990 feet, and out through the rock to the surface.
SS-25 is made of three cylinders one inside the other. Gas is escaping from a vast underground “reservoir” via a hole in the inner, 7-inch casing at 470 feet deep. The gas is traveling down to the end of the outer casing at 990 feet, then out through the rock. Modern wells are cemented from the surface to the reservoir to stop corrosion, but the 7-inch casing of this well, circa 1953-1954, was only cemented from a depth of 6,600 feet down to 8,500 feet. The hole from which gas is spewing occurred far above this safety cementing.
Illustration by Darrick Rainey
Massachusetts House Representative Marjorie Decker recently held a press conference underlining the need to immediately lift the cap on net metering. Massachusetts is in danger of not only losing 15,000 solar jobs, but also of losing its solar installation companies to other states with solar legislation that is more favorable.
From CommonWealth Magazine, by Kate Galbo:
Fast-growing industry is being hung out to dry
While all parties agree that the next SREC program should be gradually reduced in size, the cap on net metering needs to be lifted. Having an arbitrary cap on the fair compensation for solar development increases uncertainty in the market, drives up costs, and reduces investment in the local energy economy. In addition, keeping the net metering credit rate at retail value will ensure that low-income, community shared, or municipal solar projects can move forward.
Massachusetts needs more leaders within the Legislature to answer the call to action. Unless members of the House recognize the need for dynamic solutions to lift the caps, not only does the Commonwealth risk losing its competitive edge, it risks losing its role as a clean energy leader.
[Image: Daderot at the English language Wikipedia]
From the Citizens Climate Lobby website:
The Basics of Carbon Fee and Dividend:
1. Place a steadily rising fee on fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas).
2. Give all of the revenue from the carbon fee back to households.
3. Use a border adjustment to discourage business relocation.
4. It’s good for the economy AND even better for the climate.
“…phased-in carbon fees on greenhouse gas emissions (1) are the most efficient, transparent, and enforceable mechanism to drive an effective and fair transition to a domestic-energy economy, (2) will stimulate investment in alternative-energy technologies, and (3) give all businesses powerful incentives to increase their energy-efficiency and reduce their carbon footprints in order to remain competitive…”
Download Carbon Fee and Dividend, a full-text version of CCL’s Carbon Fee and Dividend proposal.
1952: Smoke pouring from the New Farm Power House in Brisbane, Australia caused numerous complaints from residents. Source: Wikimedia Commons
As solar becomes more cost-competitive, utilities look at how new technology affects their business models
This is occurring all over the country with respect to large utilities pushing back against the different forms of renewable energy, especially solar. It’s from the Al Jazeera America news site. This explains the issues quite well.
From Al Jazeera America contributor, Renee Lewis:
States weigh rate changes for rooftop solar:
“Utilities don’t want to risk losing financial (compensation) for their investments in the grid to serve all customers, while rooftop solar developers don’t want to lose business opportunities if their potential customers are not compensated as highly by utilities when excess rooftop solar generation is sent back to the grid,” read a recent blog post by Pierre Bull, a policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
Following Nevada’s decision, California’s new rules for solar customers showed there is a “better way,” Bull wrote.
California’s PUC decided last week to take a pause to look at grid impact and market analytics before making its decision.
In the meantime, “they have assured existing net metering customers that their generation will continue to be credited at the full retail rate, which is a good, reasonable approximation for the benefits they provide to the grid,” Bull wrote.
Last week, California’s PUC upheld net metering by 3-2, allowing solar customers to continue lowering their overall power bills — which assists them in paying off the investment in rooftop solar…
IMAGE: JOHN HARRINGTON / SUNRUN / AP
An interesting proposal for huge wind turbine blades…the length of which would be greater than two football fields…could mean 50-megawatt turbines for offshore use. Sandia National Laboratories is researching the extreme-scale blades for the Department of Energy. Most wind turbines presently yield between one and two megawatts, so this would be an enormous jump in power production. This new design could be built in segments, making unnecessary the large equipment needed to transport and put together current wind turbines. During hurricanes, the blades could be stowed and lined up with wind direction, exactly the way a palm tree does.
From Sandia news media contact: Stephanie Holinka (email@example.com) —
Sandia National Laboratories’ research on the extreme-scale Segmented Ultralight Morphing Rotor (SUMR) is funded by the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy program. The challenge: Design a low-cost offshore 50-MW turbine requiring a rotor blade more than 650 feet (200 meters) long, two and a half times longer than any existing wind blade…
“Exascale turbines take advantage of economies of scale,” said Todd Griffith, lead blade designer on the project and technical lead for Sandia’s Offshore Wind Energy Program.
Sandia’s previous work on 13-MW systems uses 100-meter blades (328 feet) on which the initial SUMR designs are based. While a 50-MW horizontal wind turbine is well beyond the size of any current design, studies show that load alignment can dramatically reduce peak stresses and fatigue on the rotor blades. This reduces costs and allows construction of blades big enough for a 50-MW system.
Most current U.S. wind turbines produce power in the 1- to 2-MW range, with blades about 165 feet (50 meters) long, while the largest commercially available turbine is rated at 8 MW with blades 262 feet (80 meters) long.
Todd Griffith shows a cross-section of a 50-meter blade, which is part of the pathway to the 200-meter exascale turbines being planned under a DOE ARPA-E-funded program. The huge turbines could be the basis for 50-megawatt offshore wind energy installations in the years ahead. (Photo by Randy Montoya)
House officials are creating an “omnibus” energy bill, which may lead to one of the more interesting debates on Beacon Hill in years. House Speaker Robert DeLeo (pictured below) has been discussing this for some time, his approach being that when there are many debated yet related issues, the best thing is consolidate them into one bill and begin negotiating. The advantage is that it may be better to address the state’s energy issues in a way that’s not fragmented up into multiple bills.
From CommonWealth Magazine contributor, Bruce Mohl (January 14, 2016) —
A conference committee consisting of members from the House and Senate was appointed to resolve the different net metering approaches of the two branches, but there has been little progress. Many think net metering and the whole issue of solar incentives may be tossed into the omnibus pot.
One source said it will be interesting to see if the House pushes for special incentives for offshore wind at a time when it is trying to cut incentives for solar. Both renewable energy technologies hold the promise of developing new industries of the future, but both require, at least for now, heavy ratepayer incentives to work financially.