Thursday Open Thread

"The reason I talk to myself is because I’m the only one whose answers I accept."

–George Carlin

57 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Duke Cox says:

    I have mentioned before my belief that  oil and gas policies are driving the unrest in Europe. Here's why….

    Sanctioning Goliath: Why Russia's Gazprom Remains Out of Reach

    Gazprom is one of Russia's largest and most lucrative energy companies, but it has managed to elude sanctions.

     

    Gazprom ranks as one of the largest extractors of natural gas and one of the biggest companies in the world – and it's mostly owned by the Kremlin. Widely seen as an arm of the Russian government, it's played a pivotal role over the past decade in the "near abroad" of former Soviet satellites, severing gas supplies to Ukraine over pricing disputes in 2006 and 2009. Last month, Russia again threatened supply disruptions over Ukraine's alleged billions in unpaid bills.

    “Gazprom is intimately connected with the Kremlin,” says Paul Sullivan, a professor of economics at National Defense University and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University. “It acts as a powerful arm of Russian foreign policy. In many ways it is often Russian foreign policy.”

     

    http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/05/07/sanctioning-goliath-why-russias-gazprom-remains-out-of-reach-for-us-eu

    Putin isn't really calling the shots. He works for the Russian oil billionaires…not the other way around.

     

    • mamajama55 says:

      Interesting, Duke. I see that Ukraine also has significant coal and gas resources that Russia wants, and that they had started investing heavily in wind power before the Russian invasion.

      The Gazprom pipelines also cross the Ukraine to Europe.

      So sanctions on Russian will be ineffective without Europe's becoming more energy independent, i.e., following Germany's lead on renewable energy.

       

       

  2. dwyer says:

    Thank you DC, for this important information, and mj55 for a thoughtful comment.  I have a question and a request.

    The question is:  The crisis in the Ukraine is immediate, how long would it take Europe to be more energy independent? And related, Does this increase the "pressure" to okay Keystone?

    Request:  The thread begun is important, my request is not to let AC sabatoge the discussion and therefore my request is simple not to respond to him, today.

    • dustpuppy says:

      It does not make it okay for keystone when the net jobs is only 50 permanent jobs so some pig named Koch can enrich themselves by using our land to pollute toxic tar sands for refining? 

       

       

    • MichaelBowman says:

      Germany is, today, generating a full 25% of their energy from renewables under their Energiewende initiative ("the energy transition'). At their current pace they could be at 50% in the next five years. (Germany generated 122 Terrawatts of renewables in 2011)  They had originally set out to be at 80% by 2050, but a funny thing happened: their feed-in-tariff system, made politically possilbe by the conservative farmers in the Bavarian region, allowed the transition to happen at a more rapid pace than believed possible. It's amazing what can happen when you open up a market and levelize the access. 

      I spent some significant time in Germany studying their system with a group of rural electric managers almost two years now.  It isn't without a large helping of irony that we learned Germany's fastest growing legal mechanism for creating these community-based energy systems is the cooperative model.  Yes, the very group in the United States that has spent the better part of the last decade fighting every single green initiative on the state and federal levels is being used in Germany as the very model to propel this transition. 

      Because of the empowerment of the German federal law coupled with the cooperative structure of ownership, 40% of all installed systems are owned by individuals; 11% are owned by farm cooperatives, 14% by project developers, 7% by the large, German utilities and 7% by small (village) cooperatives.

      Currently, 90% of Germany's solar production is from rooftop solar; they believe a vast, distributed generation plan is the best way to augmnt their grid.  So While we fight Xcel Energy here at home for the continuation of the Solar Rewards program, and their hell-bent plan on creating their 'Solar Done Right' (which is code for, "we'll own it")..the Germans cherish a very differnt approach: individual ownership.

      Germany already has several hours in their days where 100% of their energy is being met exclusively with wind and solar.

      The most significant 'untold story' about this transition is they have inverted their demand curve.  During daytime hours, when US manufacturing pays a premium for peak power, the Germans have awashed their system in solar and wind electrons, making their daytime power no longer 'expensive'.  Given the energy-intense nature of the German manufacturing sector, it is giving them a competitive edge in the global market. 

      There are no shortage of detractors worldwide regarding the energy transition; just part of 'the club' who desperatley wants to derail the weaning of our selves from fossil fuels.  One of the best counter-arguments to these faux arguments by the fossil barons was done by our very own, Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Institute. 

      The concept of sustainabilty was born in Germany.  40% of their forests are public, and they manage them carefully, utilizing the trimmings and thinnings for energy.  Last year, the amount of biomass-derived electricity generated was the equivalent of three nuclear plants.  'Renewable heat', an offset to natural gas consumption, stood at 20%.

      A recent Stanford study shows that we could achieve a transition to 100% renewable energy by 2030 and that in that mix we would need 50% of it to come from wind.  That would require the installation of 3.5 million, 5 Megawatt turbines.  To put that in perspective, we will produce 70 million in that same timeframe.  Don't say 'it can't be done'…

      That was probably more information than you were seeking – and it's a long way of saying, "Yes, it can be done.  But it takes political will, and leaders with a spine."  We're on the cusp of a Third Industrial Revolution, and we can put noisemakers like Putin in the dustbin if we simply decide that's what we're going to do. 

       

       

      • dwyer says:

        @Bowman

        Good god, this is great stuff. I am embarassed by my own ignorance.  Thank you.

        • Zappatero says:

          The Koch Brothers, and Americans for (the) Prosperity (of their Billionaire Funders – the Koch Brothers) and all their ancillary organizations don't want solar, they've paid off politicians so we don't have solar to the point that Arizona only get 3% of its energy from solar.

          • ajb says:

            UT, AZ, NE: So much potential…so little foresight.

          • dwyer says:

            @Zappatero

            I look at some states in amazement.  North Dakota is the poster child for oil exploration and a booming non-renewal energy economy with the lowest employment rate in the country.  Yet, more than 12.6% of its electricity is generated from nonhydro renewable resources.  Solar? Wind? How does either survive ND winters?

            Second in electricity generated from nonhydro renewable are oil king states like Oklahoma and Texas!  I find this encouraging.

            And Oregon in the top tier….what is the technology used? I thought it just rained there all the time.

        • MichaelBowman says:

          Global Solar Dominance Is In Sight from Business Insider:  (for those of us who aren't dostracted by the nice lady in the black pantsuit assuring us that fracking for natural gas is our future)…

          For the world it portends a once-in-a-century upset of the geostrategic order. Sheikh Ahmed-Zaki Yamani, the veteran Saudi oil minister, saw the writing on the wall long ago. "Thirty years from now there will be a huge amount of oil – and no buyers. Oil will be left in the ground. The Stone Age came to an end, not because we had a lack of stones, and the oil age will come to an end not because we have a lack of oil," he told The Telegraph in 2000. Wise old owl.

      • MichaelBowman says:

        Thanks, Dwyer. My fingers got ahead of my brain – the world will produce 70 million cars in the same timeframe that we would need to produce 3.5 million wind turbines to reach the "50% by wind" scenario. 

      • MichaelBowman says:

        Just a few more tidbits then I have to run:

        • The Feed-In-Tariff program used by Germany (at the behest of the conservative, political block controlled by the Bavarian region) didn't see the early days of the program as "higher rates", but "an investment in thier future generations.  They know they'll have to play hand maid to Putin as long as they are reliant upon him for a portion of their energy needs. 
        • With their current penetration of renewables, they are moving from the phase (which we are still in) of 'integrating renewables' to 'transforming the system'. Of the 140+ energy zones in Germany, over 30 of them are, today, generating in excess of 100% of their local load.
        • In May of 2012, 40% of the country's entire power demand was met by their solar pv rooftop installations across the countryside; in February of 2012 they delivered excess solar power to France in that cold snap, as France's nuclear power plants couldn't satisfy demand.
        • Germany now sees themselves as having 'first mover advantage'.
        • Today, worldwide, we are generating 350 Gigawatt horus of electicity from diesel.  Every single one of those electrons could be replaced by solar.
        • Last, by not least, the concept of the FIT (feed-in-tariff) was actually a US invention.  But of course, actually opening up markets and granting access to every US citizen is something we just like to talk about – as if it is actually happening.  While we 'talk', the Germans 'do'.
  3. Andrew Carnegie says:

    No need to worry about the Keystone Pipeline, the people calling the shots for the Dems obviously want to help Putin take over the nation states of the former Soviet Union and want to keep leftist dictators in charge in Venevuela.  That is the obvious consequence of the don't extract energy over here because it would adversely effect Russia and Venevuela whose economies are tied to energy.  

    A vote for Udall and Polis who oppose the Keystone Pipeline and Fracking is a vote for Putin and Maduro.

  4. Andrew Carnegie says:

    Here is a photo of the outrageous incursion on Polis' privacy caused by fracking, c/o the folks at Colorado Peak Politics.  Poor boy.

     

    View image on Twitter

     

  5. ct says:

    AC is a moron.  There is no concludion other than it is a complete idiot.  A bag of sawdust is brighter than the 'Librarian.'  

  6. Konola says:

    How interesting. You may remember that I blogged about this prospect some time ago, although I had the job wrong. Hilkey goes to work for Hickenlooper, the Republican vacancy committee appoints a new sheriff, and presto chango, Steve King is appointed as sheriff and runs as an incumbent. I like Hilkey, so this is good news for him, but the rest of the story points out how sordid the political power locally really is. Do you think it is a coincidence that this announcement was made the day after the legislative session ended?

    Hilkey tapped for Hickenlooper Cabinet post | GJSentinel.com

    http://www.gjsentinel.com

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