Popular and ‘Best-Of’ Posts



aa CT GTM TEC RENEWIND INTERMITTENCY IS EXAGGERATED – NREL study shows US wind potential is larger and more stable than previously thought with capacity factors of 65% available, see details HERE.  Better even than Handleman Post predictions, that capacity factors of 50% can be achieved in large volume.

CleanTechnica logo-JoBEST US WIND SITES ARE BARELY TOUCHED –  HERE  – is a post showing where the best sites are why they are underutilized and how we can harvest much more wind at those sites.

WIND TURBINE STATE OF THE ART – New wind turbine technology is further reducing the cost and intermittency of wind power – HERE


COST – The cost of Renewables Is Dropping Rapidly – HERE are some great graphs showing declining costs. HERE is Lazards 2018 report on the cost of generation showing solar and wind as the least cost sources.  You can always get the most up to date version of this annual report by searching on ‘Lazard’s Levelized Cost’.

GROWTH – The amount of renewable energy has been growing exponentially for decades.  Here are some good graphics illustrate that growth.

HERE is a link to videos of an entire course on renewable energy.  The presenter is engaging making it fun and interesting.


– Storage is vitally important for the future of renewable energy and many think that Lithium Ion batteries will play an important role if the cost can be brought down.   Elon Musk predicts breaking the important $100 / kwhr barrier by 2025.  This is in the same ballpark as predicted by Navigant and McKinsey  prior to the Tesla announcement of the Gigafactory.

aa Logo CleantechnicaGIGAFACTORY A conservative bet for Tesla – HERE .

LITHIUM AVAILABILITY – And not to worry, there is plenty of Lithium – HERE .

The Energy CollectiveThere has been much excitement over the Tesla Powerwall energy storage system.  It is important but not for the reasons described in the press.  My recent post post on the significance of Powerwall was picked up by The Energy Collective – HERE.


EV EMISSIONS – Electric Vehicles pollute less even when you take into account emissions from the generation source HERE

TESLA IS REVOLUTIONARY – Tesla really is revolutionary. HERE

BATTERY COSTS PLUMMET – EV batteries are the cost driver and they are coming down FAST – HERE

aa CT-RENEEVs FOR LOAD SHIFTING – EVs combined with Load Shifting use market forces to increase the value of wind power while reducing the cost of driving. – HERE

EV RANGE IS A NONISSUE – HERE  CleanTechnica logo-Jo  .

The world according to Elon – Elon Musk on the Tesla road map from 2006.  And now more from Elon on the derogatory Larry Hirsh article.


aa CT-RENEGIGA SCALE AND EFFICIENCY INCREASES POINT TO GRID PARITY – Multiple entrants in the <20% Efficient PV module space points to impending solar grid parity.

SOLAR LAND AREA – The Land area required for solar is relatively small in comparison to the overall human footprint.


EFFICIENT LIGHTING – Incandescent bulbs are being phased out in favor of high efficiency lights.  The most efficient is LED lighting which is dropping in price rapidly and is more efficient than CFLs – Here.


Moving renewable energy from the best sites (eg Great Plains for wind, the Southwest for solar) to sites of highest demand such as the East Coast requires upgraded power transmission infrastructure

EFFICIENT INTRACONTINENTAL POWER TRANSMISSION – Clean Line Energy HERE is developing HVDC transmission lines – HERE to do just that.

LINKING THE THREE US GRIDS – The US is composed of three separate, independent electrical grids, by connecting the three grids Tres Amigas will make wider use of renewable energy possible.

aa Logo CT-TEC-RENEBENEFITS OF AGGREGATION, A CASE STUDY – Texas’ grid expansion demonstrates a path towards higher wind penetration HERE .  Completed transmission lines nearly eliminate curtailment.


These resources help you use renewable energy as a context to teach STEM.

Calculate the area required to power the earth with solar modules.  This post discusses this and includes a spread sheet with the calculations.

This site has lots of data from a fixed and a tracking array.  You can download the data or plot it on the site.  If it doesn’t plot data for today then select an earlier date a couple of years earlier.  It is an old site and the computers sometimes go down.

General Resources

BNEF report on the coming crash in oil.

Coffee House

Posted in EV PEV, New Energy Paradigm, Path to a New Paradigm, T&D The New Grid, US Energy Competitiveness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Winning the War Without Firing a Shot

It is time we recognize that we are now at war with Russia. This is no longer the cyber war that may happen in the future, it is now.  And the answer to winning it is not tit for tat. That could easily escalate to nuclear war. The winning is easy and simply requires changing the rules. In fact it would all be above board and all Putin could do is sit back and impotently watch his hard work implode.

Step 1 – must happen in 2018 with democrats sweeping into control of congress and throughout the country at state and local levels. Step II is to is to destroy the Russian economy (No Marshal plan until their economy has been crushed and they should be removed from the UN security council and replaced by Germany – Germany has done their WWII penance and now is a world leading economy who has led the European Union wisely).

Step 2 – we go all renewables. This is actually easy to do and the crush Russia part could be done in about 5 years. Energy is non-linear, we would not need to get far into that program before it would collapse the price of oil and just like the Alaskan Pipeline and CAFE standards crushed the Soviet Union, another collapse in oil prices will destroy the Putin regime. Not much is required from a policy standpoint to make this happen. The technology is ready now and companies and capital are ready to step in and make it happen almost over night.  Here’s how:

Simply triple the number of ZEV vehicles that are covered under the ZEV tax credit and change the formula to leverage state’s buy-in. Have the feds lower the federal tax credit to $5000 but add a match to state incentives up to $2500 per vehicle.  This would raise the incentive from the current $7500 federal incentive to $10,000 bringing EVs to the reach of the middle class.  As gasoline prices crashed it would be important to raise the gasoline tax and use the revenues to retrain oil and gas workers for the enormous uptick in manufacturing jobs that would arise out of the shift to renewables.  The amount of the gas tax increase would require analysis beyond what I bring to the party but my guess is that starting immediately with $0.10 per gallon = over $10 billion to start training workers immediately.  As the price of gasoline would drop precipitously, the tax could be ramped up. Some of the funds could be fed back into the oil industry to shut down oil fields in a permanent and environmentally sound fashion which would provide a cushion and ease the employment displacement.

The renewable power needs to be brought from where it is cheap (great plains for wind and Southwest for solar) to where it is needed, the East and West coast.  This requires some wise lawmaking.  We need to adjust eminent domain laws to cover intra-continental transmission lines.  There may be need of a utility / regulated monopoly status.  Currently people are trying to adjust eminent domain laws for private companies that want to build the lines.  There is the potential for unfair wealth shifting, there is some real innovation needed here by law makers.

Require real time, time of use metering for electricity.  This must include not only billing but signals to all power consumers and producers so that they can control their loads and generation to respond to the price of electricity on the grid. 

With the high capacity factor, low cost wind power in the great plains, low cost, surprisingly predictable solar in the Southwest and enormous storage that will come online with the ramp up of electric vehicles, a stable, zero emission electric grid could be ours in 2 decades.  However, due to the highly inelastic pricing of oil and gasoline, we could crush the Russians in about 5 years.  While it would be hard for us, we have many industries to fall back on, they do not.  It would end Putin’s regime and possibly bring us someone like Gorbachev who was interested in a free and democratic society.  Then, and only then, might we offer the olive branch of something like a Marshal Plan.   


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The Real Meaning of the 2016 Election

These pieces pretty much summarize the impetus behind the political problems emerging throughout the world:

The Big Oil Anti-Climate Machine


Misinformation machine

View at Medium.com

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World Energy Reserves – Graphic

Richard Perez has updated his World Energy Reserves graphic to show higher wind potential as well as including high burn of nuclear – likely consideration of Gen 4 nuclear.

World Energy Reserves 2015


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EIA Gets It Wrong Again

In their Annual Energy Outlook for 2016, the Energy Information Agency is frighteningly off base in their projections for increased electricity use due to electric vehicles. They project negligible increases in electricity use for transportation through to the year 2040.  If our policy makers rely on the EIA for their data they will be caught completely off guard as the oil industry unravels over the next decade.

It is very troubling that EIA expects Electric Vehicles will have a negligible impact on electricity sales through 2040.  Bloomberg (BNEF) projects that roughly 400 Million EVs will be on the road by 2040.  If 100 million of these are in the US and we assume they average 5 kwhr per day then that represents an increase of about 800 TWhr annually or roughly a 20% increase in electricity demand.  Because of the inelasticity of the oil market, BNEF is projecting major shocks to the oil industry as early as 2024.

It is important to recognize that the BNEF data was released in February, before the Tesla Model 3 received 400,000 preorders with deposits.  This was far in excess of even Elon Musk’s expectations and has led to a rethink of how rapidly EVs are going to disrupt the transportation market.

One can only hope that congressional staffers look beyond EIA for their projections.  It begs the question, why do we pay them to do something that they have consistently shown they are unable to do?  We can only hope that there is reform in EIA or that they stop doing the projections.  Policy with enormous impact is based, in part, on EIA data and with the disruptive changes that are emerging in the energy industry it is time that they reform or get out of the projection business.


Posted in New Energy Paradigm | 1 Comment

4 GW Transmission Line to Carry Wind Power From the Great Plains East

By Clayton Handleman

As reported here  explosive growth in wind power at the best sites in the Great Plains is hindered only by lack of transmission line access.  That barrier is now crumbling.  The Department of Energy announced that it will participate in the development of the Plains & Eastern Clean Line project.  This is a 4 GW transmission line designed to bring power from wind farms in Oklahoma and Kansas to large transmission resources in Tennessee.  From there the wind power will reach large electricity markets in the industrial Midwest and points East.  Using its authorization under the section 1222 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 the DOE will secure the right of ways for Clean Line Energy Partners to develop the transmission line.  Details are found in the Department of Energy Link above.



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EIA Consistently and Grossly Underestimates Renewables

Hope to find time to turn this into a real post.  But for now I wanted to post this links list that brings to light EIA’s consistently low-balled estimates of renewable energy.  No doubt this has enabled many a fossil fuel advocate to have their way with policy makers.

This post and the comment thread below is a good starting point.

An interesting post from Greentech

More from Cleantechnica RE: Greenpeace data by this group

This is disturbing, just how bad IEA is.

The estimate below was done around 2013.  As of the end of 2015, the US has already exceeded the EIA estimate for 2035.

EIA solar projections

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Avian Mortality in Perspective

There are a lot of forces arrayed against renewable energy.  Some are well meaning and many are not.  Clearly there is an enormous fossil fuel industry effort to discredit any threats to their dominance.  As data emerges, renewables are looking better and better.  Two numbers offer a good starting point for perspective.

  1. Human death’s by autos in the US exceeds 32,000 annually.
  2. According to this 2005 study, human caused avian mortality (not including habitat destruction) was about 1 billion (10^9  birds per year.)

One project that has received a lot of attention is the 377 MW Ivanpah “power tower” in California.  This project is relatively unique as a solar energy source due to its ability to store energy for night time use.  However concerns have arisen due to the high operating temperatures of the system and early avian mortality.  In its first year of operation the upper bound for total avian mortality from known and unknown causes was just under 3,500 or about 1/10 th the number of human fatalities in auto accidents and 1 / 285,714 the total human caused avian mortality.  This post offers considerable information on Avian mortality at Ivanpah.  While it is put out by the Brightsource (the company running the facility) it should be noted that it references independent sources extensively.

Recent developments in power tower operations are encouraging in terms of dramatically reducing avian mortality.  This article about the Crescent Dunes project reports on operational changes that dramatically reduce avian mortality at power tower sites.  Initial reports are that avian mortality was eliminated.  While useful conclusions await independent verification this is encouraging news.  Further,  while avian mortality is an important issue, when put in perspective and compared to other sources of human caused bird death, it would appear that the cost benefit trade-offs are not show stoppers.

There is enough data to come up with an upper bound.  If we were to get all of our electricity (about 650 GW) from power towers we would need about 6500 Ivanpah sized facilities.  If they all killed birds at a rate of 3,500 per year then that would amount to roughly a 22% increase in avian mortality.  However, a more careful read of the literature shows that fewer than 1500 deaths definitively attributable to burning.  Which suggests less than a 10 increase in bird deaths.  And the industry is aggressively pursuing means to reduce avian deaths.  Early Crescent Dune data suggests that it may be a solved problem.

Recall that the power tower technology includes storage so it will dramatically reduce the need for natural gas generation.  An optimist would anticipate that mitigation measures could substantially decrease avian mortality, possibly eliminating it.  But in a worst case scenario we would see a 22% increase in anthropogenic avian death’s traded for elimination of CO2 production in electricity generation.  If climate change goes unchecked, human caused avian mortality will be dwarfed by rapid environmental shifts so this would appear to be a good trade even in the worst case scenario.

This is a nice graphic on avian mortality.



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Elon Musk –

A friend posted this on FB – Look forward to having time to read it.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Elon Musk, Tesla, biography

Posted in New Energy Paradigm | 1 Comment

Do I Oppose Nuclear Power?

People often ask whether I oppose nuclear power.  The answer is that I think there are a number of really good things about nuclear power BUT that human civilization has not created sufficiently robust management systems to address the details.  And the details have long term extremely costly implications for future generations. So in principle I favor nuclear power but in practice I do not.  Bottom line, lets move forward with renewables, it will work, it will be market based and renewable energy will offer power to the people in the sense that it distributes the monetary benefits to a much larger number of stakeholders.

Here is a case in point:  we put in place the trust funds to address decommissioning but our dysfunctional government, which has had ample time, has not created a solution for storage.  We were promised this was relatively straight forward to solve.  And most issues with nuclear power are well withing our ability to solve from a technical standpoint but we do not have political systems with sufficient integrity to do their part.  And so here it begins, we kick the can down the road to avoid dealing with the problem.  What is next, we simply don’t decommission the power plants?

Time for a new paradigm.  There is a path that appears to be viable with renewables.  It is time to pursue it.

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Do the Sharp and Solar City Announcements Mark the Beginning of Solar Without Subsidies?

aa CT-RENE     Featured on:  Cleantechnica, REconomy

By Clayton Handleman

PV has reached the point of commoditizing high efficiency modules and the ripple effect on system level costs has profound implications.  Not so long ago Sunpower’s 20+ % High Efficiency Modules (HEM) were seen as high end niche products.  Last week Solar City announced that they had leapfrogged the Sunpower benchmark with 22% modules that are now rolling off of their 100 MW lines.  They also promised that these HEMs will soon be rolling of their 1 GW line at Elon Musk’s ‘other’ gigafactory in Buffalo NY.  In the 2016, 2017 time frame multiple vendors will be at GW scale with HEMs marking this technology’s transition to high volume production on an industry and world scale. This volume, combined with multiple entrants competing will create a competitive environment which will continue to put downward pressure on prices.

Adding fuel to the fire Sharp, a long time leader in PV recently announced that they are joining the HEM club, in impressive style, raising the bar again with a 22.5% efficiency benchmark from production prototypes.   Presumably they will not be far behind with large scale manufacturing.  And the longtime leader, Sunpower, is in the process of upping their game with 23% efficient modules planned for production in 2017 from their Fab 5.  Fab 5 has a planned 800MW (.8GW) capacity that will also produce solar HEMs at the GW scale.

The importance of these announcements cannot be overestimated.  It was only a very short time ago that those who have held onto the vision of clean domestic energy for decades saw PV cross the threshold to cost effectiveness WITH subsidies.  Now we are thrilled to see that cost effective PV without subsidies is in reach during our lifetimes.  Solar City has long stated that their plan is for their residential PV systems to be cost competitive without subsidies by the time US tax credits expire.  Low cost, high efficiency modules offer a path to that goal by reducing the physical size of solar arrays and the size related costs.   The benefits of high efficiency include reduced footprint and reduced balance of system costs on a dollars per kwhr basis and amortization of fixed costs over a larger system capacity.  This article has a nice graphic showing the economics nearly a year ago.  They are only getting better.  And things have only gotten better since it was written.

Many residential systems are limited by roof space not desired capacity.  And a substantial fraction of the cost of residential systems is fixed.  As such, by increasing the array capacity those costs can be amortized over a larger project.  This reduces the cost per watt and therefore the cost per kwhr.  As module prices have dropped Balance of System costs for racking, wires etc. are contributing a larger percentage of system costs.  Because more efficient modules provide more energy per square foot, they reduce the cost of balance of system components on a dollars per watt basis.

The recent announcements offer the final piece of the puzzle, gigawatt scale manufacturing that can provide high volume and lower price.  Solar city is doing that with their PV gigafactory and Panasonic has the scale to develop manufacturing on a globally significant level.  When Sunpower was the only game in town and they were producing a tiny fraction of the worlds PV modules, it really didn’t matter how much their modules cost, they had no real impact on the cost of solar globally.  However with the emergence of gigawatt scale assembly lines, Solar City’s vision of PV reaching grid parity even as incentives are phased out, appears to be coming to pass.  And in volumes with global significance.  Clearly the industry is rapidly transitioning to greater than 20% efficiency as the new normal.  And with it, the brass ring of cost effective solar without subsidies is rapidly coming within reach.

A story that came out after mine that has the same idea.

Posted in New Energy Paradigm | 8 Comments