7 Factors Show Why Wind & Solar Are The 1st Choices

Discussions of electrical generation technologies frequently fall into the trap of considering a single factor. One way this occurs is with advocates of a specific legacy technology pointing out a single downside of wind or solar generation as if it’s a gotcha. This is equally true of wind and solar advocates who point at single-factor issues with nuclear or coal, as examples, making the comparison to the more virtuous renewables.

However, there is no single technology which will prevail on all grids in the future. There will be multiple generation technologies at any given time, the mix will change over time, and the specific mix will vary for specific geographies.

The following is my multi-factorial assessment as of 2016 for different forms of electrical generation. The assessment is a simple scale of 1 to 5, and is based on my judgment of each of these technologies which is informed by my background, knowledge, research, and systemic perspective. It is not a quantitative evaluation.

It is unweighted because my weighting would be roughly equal on these points for North America or Europe, but the explicit weighting would vary substantially based on geography. The strict market cost of generation has far outweighed the other factors historically, and only wind and solar’s plummeting costs have made them expand as rapidly as they have recently.

Electrical generation factorial assessment

Unsurprisingly, coal falls near the bottom of the rankings. Its challenges in terms of pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, relatively low flexibility, and liabilities make it non-viable in a multi-factorial assessment, with only its position as a form of legacy generation and lower price point making it as dominant as it is. If someone suggested coal as a new form of generation today without its history, it’s hard to imagine the idea would gain traction.

Nuclear’s poor ranking is perhaps more surprising. It’s gained a good deal of favour among various former opponents over the past few years due to its lack of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. However, its inflexibility, the high impact of any failures, its high economic cost, and the limitation to roughly 30 countries globally make it much less attractive. In countries where it already exists, in general, very few new reactors are being considered compared to the amount of wind and solar being put on grids. Only China is expanding its nuclear fleet in any substantial way.

Each of these factors is explained below with examples of the reasons for many of the rankings. Not all rankings are explicitly explained, but nuances which would assist in weighting for specific circumstances are discussed.

Economically Viable

This is straightforward. Society runs on energy and money. Given a choice between something which costs 3 cents per kWh (LCOE) and something which costs 15 cents, pretty much everything will favour the 3 cents option. (This is why it’s perplexing that the UK conservatives are still pushing for the Hinkley nuclear choice, which costs 15 cents USD per kWh.)

The least expensive forms of new generation today in strict market terms are wind, solar, and methane generation.

Low Negative Externalities

A negative externality is a cost of something which is not included in the dollars paid for it. With fossil fuel electrical generation, negative externalities include CO2 emissions and methane leaks which cause global warming, particulate matter and nitrous oxides emissions which impact lung health, and sulphur oxide emissions which kill trees and lakes. With wind energy, they make a little bit of noise, which some people who live close to them find annoying part of the time. With solar energy, there’s some mining and manufacturing pollution. Hydroelectricity in desert areas or the far north or south can be very low carbon, but may impact fish stocks or require population dislocation.

Negative externalities are dealt with by finding ways to include them in the cost of the product through regulation requiring that they eliminate the negative externality (e.g., sulphur scrubbers and low-sulphur coal for coal plants), or through market mechanisms which burden the cost of the externality and let people figure out how to deal with it (e.g., carbon pricing). In both cases, the cost of the negative externality needs to get added to cost of the form of generation so that market mechanisms can do their job, but in both cases, regulation is required in order to have that happen.

The best forms of generation today in this respect emit no CO2, particulate matter, NOx, hydrocarbons, or SOx during operation (e.g., wind, solar, geothermal, tidal, and nuclear). Large-scale carbon capture and sequestration has proven to be an economically non-viable pipe dream, as basic analysis of the underlying physics and economics made clear to dispassionate observers long ago, so fossil fuel generation will never be carbon neutral at any reasonable costs.

The best forms of generation today for negative externalities are wind, solar, tidal, and nuclear.

Broadly Deployable

3t_global_windThe wind doesn’t blow equally everywhere, but can be harvested in every country in the world economically. The sun doesn’t shine as strongly in Alaska as in Florida (or in Germany as in most of the US, despite what some people say), but is a viable resource in most countries of the world.

There aren’t effective sequestration sites under most parts of the world that would make it somewhat cost effective to put coal plants there and capture the carbon emissions. There aren’t good hydroelectric sites in many countries. Natural gas isn’t cheap everywhere. Landlocked states have no option for tidal energy. Islands have lots of waves, but less land and expensive grid connections, so wave energy starts to be viable. Nuclear is restricted to 30 or so stable regimes which are already part of the nuclear club, and expansion of the club is unwise.

What this all means is that there will be different mixes of generation that make sense in different places. This is mitigated massively, however, by the emerging continent-scale grids, high-voltage DC transmission which vastly lowers transmission losses, and energy markets. Basically, it’s getting easier and easier on more developed continents to generate electricity almost anywhere on the continent and get it to the major consumers at a reasonable price.

Given the above, in terms of broad deployment, the best forms of generation today in most countries of the world are wind and solar.

Flexible

There are forms of generation which must run at 90% capacity factors in order to be economically viable (e.g., nuclear). There are forms of generation whose technology makes them very slow to respond to changes in demand or supply (e.g., nuclear). There are forms of generation which come onto the grid or fall off of the grid only in major increments of a GW or so, requiring substantial hot backups and contingencies (e.g., nuclear).

Then there are forms of generation which ramp up and down easily (e.g., wind, solar, gas, and hydro).

duck-curve-california-electricity-demandAs economies develop, they go through a stage where 24/7 heavy manufacturing provides a very stable baseload demand which is easily met by inflexible generation. After that stage, they enter a consumer and knowledge worker economy where demand is much lower in the troughs and higher in the peaks. Too much inflexible generation, historically known as baseload generation, causes conditions of surplus baseload generation regularly for these economies. That occurs today in places like France and Ontario, with their large nuclear fleets, requiring them to pay neighbouring jurisdictions to take their electricity on a regular basis.

Given the above, on a flexibility basis, the best forms of generation in most places in the world are wind, solar, and methane generation.

Rapid to Build

There is a pressing need globally to decarbonize electrical generation, and in China, India, and many other places, to reduce pollution from electrical generation. A solution which takes 15 years on average to put in place from conception to commissioning (e.g., nuclear), isn’t a viable choice given the significance and urgency of the challenges. A solution which takes 1–3 years to put in place in utility scales (e.g., wind and solar) is much preferable.

Given the above, the best forms of generation in most places in the world are wind and solar.

Reliable & Predictable

A form of power which has a high likelihood of producing a certain number of MWh of generation in a certain period is reliable. A form of power whose availability can be determined with reasonable accuracy at longer time frames and high accuracy in shorter time frames is predictable. Grids require reliability and predictability.

Most classical forms of generation are reliable and predictable (e.g., coal, nuclear, gas, and hydro). Hydro is predictably better in the spring than fall, and reliable over the year.

ElectricityUCTE.svgNew renewable forms of generation have proven themselves to be both reliable and predictable. Wind and solar are the fastest-growing forms of generation on every grid in the world today because they are sufficiently predictable and reliable that they do not destabilize grids in large volumes of generation. Their purported challenges in this regard are massively mitigated by wide area synchronous grids and markets. It’s only in isolationist and small grids that this is a challenge, but to be clear, there are enormous numbers of people living in archipelagos where this is a greater issue. High voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission offers a solution for archipelagos such as Indonesia due to its much lower losses underwater.

The most reliable and predictable generation in most places in the world today are wind, solar, hydro, nuclear, and methane gas. Coal is predictable and reliable, but at such great cost otherwise that it is impossible to recommend it.

Low Liability

Forms of generation which have operational or failure modes which cause massive economic disruption or health challenges, or which include potential for significant misuse of materials for terrorist ends, are high in liability in the event of a problem. Nuclear is the most obvious example of this, with very rare accidents on a per TWh basis, but very high impacts of those accidents. Fukushima is likely to cost closer to a trillion dollars (USD) for cleanup, economic disruption, replacement by expensive fossil fuels, etc. Coal has so many negative health and climate repercussions compared to alternatives that it must be considered a high liability form of generation.

The best forms of generation in most places in the world from this perspective are wind and solar.

Source: Clean Techinaica

Natural Medicine: Affordable, Effective & Eco-friendly

It seems like everyone is taking pharmaceuticals, and although they are effective, these drugs are finding their way into our drinking water. In 2008, an Associated Press investigation showed that mood stabilizers, sex hormones, antibiotics, etc, were found in at least 41 million Americans’ drinking water supplies. Because of this water quality issue, it’s important to acknowledge that many health problems can be resolved through lifestyle changes (such as proper diet, exercise and stress reduction regimes) as well as natural medicines. Effective alternatives that have less of an impact on our water supply include but are not limited to essential oils, flower essences, acupuncture and Chinese herbs. pills

Mood Enhancers
Having a baby, losing your job, relocating and other major life events can cause dysfunction and chaos in your life. You might not even feel like yourself, but instead of resorting to anti-depressants, sometimes a holistic approach will suffice.

Essential oils are liquids distilled from plants and flowers, and they have powerful healing properties. Some massage therapists integrate these oils into their treatment, but you can create a personalized aromatherapy session at home. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “Research has confirmed that lavender produces calming, soothing, and sedative effects.” For example, if you’re stressed out or anxious, a few drops of lavender essential oil in your bath or vitamin E body cream may calm your nerves. Bergamot and Neroli have a reputation for uplifting your energy and relieving depression, so these oils can be diffused in your home or office.

However, do keep in mind that although each oil has certain properties or a reputation, your body might react to them differently. Also, when using essential oils, it’s important to purchase 100 percent therapeutic grade oil. Still, regardless of the oil’s quality, certain types such as cinnamon and peppermint can burn if applied directly to the skin. Essential oils are versatile and each oil has several health benefits, and if you visit a massage therapist or holistic practitioner, you’re sure to find a blend of oils to meet your needs.

Another option is to use flower essences. Dr. Edward Bach was a British physician who created Bach Flower Remedies. These flower essences are 100 percent natural and are made by sun-steeping or boiling spring water infused with wild flowers. In comparison to essential oils, they don’t have a fragrance and are completely safe. If you have any emotional imbalances or undesirable feelings such as fear, worry or aggression, a couple drops of flower essences in your water may help bring peace back into your life.

Treating Illnesses
Diseases may initially affect a specific part of your body, but eventually they cause other organs and bodily functions to malfunction or shut down. Because diseases are complex in nature, holistic cures for serious illnesses often attempt to treat the body on multifaceted level.

Jeffrey Bond has been practicing acupuncture for 20 years, and people of all ages with various ailments seek his expertise. Bond explains that acupuncture can treat many different problems, because it “treats the person as a whole system.” Often times another system in the body is neglected or cannot be properly treated by Western methods. Bond says this is when “chi and channels are key,” because the “matrix of channels throughout our body (blood, circulation) influence emotions.”

Chinese medicine understands this connection and this is why acupuncture can treat back pain and stress as well as more severe ailments such as Ménière’s disease. This disease is an abnormality of the inner ear, which often affects only one ear. In 1861, French physician Prosper Ménière described the following symptoms of the disease: pressure or pain in the ear, variable hearing loss, severe dizziness or vertigo, and a roaring sound in the ears.

Bond once treated a woman with Ménière’s, and the disease caused her to experience severe vertigo, migraines and tinnitus (a ringing sound in the ears). In addition, the imbalance made her violently sick to the point of collapse. According to Bond, acupuncture helped her manage the disease, and he says the symptoms no longer plague the patient.

If needles deter your interest in trying acupuncture, visiting a Chinese herbalist is an alternative. After the herbalist diagnoses you, he/she will prepare your herbal remedy by measuring a concoction of leaves, twigs and other dried plants, which you boil down to tea. According to the Rocky Mountain Herbal Institute, composing the herbs is a methodical process, and you can’t simply choose herbs for a single symptom. Some herbal doctors such as Dr. Bob Shen, OMD, LAC have created formulations to help combat certain ailments such as diabetes, asthma and herpes as well as prevent high blood pressure, Parkinson’s disease, cancer and osteoporosis.

There are a variety of affordable ways to heal your ailments without traditional medicines. Plus, these alternative treatments can have a lower impact on your body and the environment. Whether you choose traditional or natural medicines, it’s best to do plenty of research and discuss your treatment options with a doctor. Pharmaceuticals are powerful drugs that we are lucky to have available, but it’s comforting to know that you have other options that are not as harmful to our drinking water.

Source: About My Planet

Eco-friendly Cleaning Products

It’s common to disinfect toilets, sinks, counters, etc. with bleach or other harsh chemicals that only leave behind a strong, unpleasant odor. Sometimes an odor so suffocating that it causes you to leave the sparkling room before you even get a chance to enjoy it. But cleaning products don’t have to be so assaultive to your body and surroundings.2531475055_e022dda01a_m

A more natural way to clean is to use essential oils. Essential oils are liquids distilled from flowers, trees, roots, bushes, shrubs and seeds. Essential oils were actually humankind’s first medicine, and there are 188 references to essential oils in the Bible. Each oil has different properties and certain ones can protect the immune system, enhance your mood, stimulate or regenerate tissues and nerves, oxygenate cells and even destroy odors.

The simplest way to create a multi-purpose cleaner is to use a spray bottle and add 30 drops of lemon essential oil to 8 ounces of water. Lemon like other citrus fruits is a natural antibacterial and antiseptic, so this solution is good to use on counter tops, floors, toilets, etc. Cinnamon can be used too as an antifungal, antiviral and antimicrobial. It’s important to make sure that the oil you are purchasing is 100% therapeutic grade; otherwise, it can burn your skin.

The best place to purchase quality oils is at a natural health food store. Although they are expensive, they last awhile since you don’t need to use a lot. Essential oils are a healthy alternative to the common toxic cleaning products. However, you can also use vinegar as a multi-purpose cleaner and baking soda as a carpet deodorizer.

Remember to use rags instead of paper towels, because you can wash and reuse them. If you use any other disposable fabrics to clean, find alternatives that are either biodegradable or can be reused.

Eco-friendly cleaning products are safe to use around pets and children, and when you choose to use essential oils, you clean and refresh your house with aromatic ingredients. There are a variety of oils that can mixed to create a customized scent and cleaning product to meet your needs.

What Homebuyers Should Know About Solar Panels

Consider these questions before buying a home with solar panels.

As Americans gain awareness about the financial and environmental cost of non-renewable energy sources, residential solar installations are increasing across the country. The Solar Energy Industries Association reports that the U.S. now has enough solar installations to power 5.7 million homes, with more than 1 million individual solar installations across the country. While solar installations were once common in high-end homes, the decreasing cost of these systems means they’re showing up on moderately priced homes, too.

As homeowners with solar panels sell those homes, it presents an opportunity for new homeowners to reap the benefits of lower electric bills and a smaller environmental footprint. Still, new owners won’t qualify for the solar rebates and tax credits that the original installer could get. “The single most effective thing that any one individual can do [to combat climate change] is to go solar,” says Raina Russo, founder of Women4Solar, and advisor for CREW: Own the Switch Advisor for Integrity & Mission Council Team Builder. “A homeowner that buys a solar powered house should feel very proud,” she adds.

Of course, the decision to install solar panels goes beyond the potential energy savings and environmental impact. The original owners have the opportunity to thoroughly research their purchase, choose between different manufacturers and installers and make other choices. Meanwhile, homebuyers searching for a residence with existing solar panels can avoid this legwork, but they should still do their homework since the purchase has more complexities than a conventional home purchase. Solar is essentially a “25-year marriage,” Russo says.

 backwoods_panels_1_copy

In general, buyers are willing to pay more for a home with solar features since they know they’ll be rewarded with low (or no) electric bills. A 2015 Berkeley Laboratory study found that buyers are willing to pay an average of $4 per watt of solar photovoltaic energy system installed, which equates to about $15,000 for the average system.

 However, home appraisers don’t always factor solar panels into their assessment of the home’s value, especially if there aren’t other comparable homes in the area that have solar. “The awareness about the value of solar varies widely across the country,” says John Livermore, executive director of the nonprofit Healthy Home Healthy Planet. When the sellers price a home based on the value of solar features but the appraiser doesn’t, that can create a gap between what the buyer offers to pay and the amount the mortgage lender is willing to loan on the home. “That’s a conversation that the agent should be having with the appraiser,” says Shane Herbert, a real estate agent at Summit Sotheby’s International Realty in Park City, Utah.

With that in mind, here are some questions to consider before buying a home with existing solar panels.

Are the panels leased or owned? Ideally, you’d buy a home from someone who owns the solar panels affixed to the home rather than assuming their solar lease. Because solar leases are an ongoing liability (often with escalating payments), assuming a lease can raise your debt-to-income ratio and hinder your ability to qualify for a mortgage on the home. Leasing solar may also give you fewer certainties than owning them, adds Christina Mathieson, vice president of marketing at the New York-based SUNation Solar Systems and a LEED Green Associate. “What we’re seeing is that many leasing companies retain the right to change their production guarantee,” she says. “They retain the right to every year or two lower the amount that they say their system is going to produce,” she adds. Plus, there’s no guarantee that the leasing company will approve you as the new lessee either.

 Who is the manufacturer? Even if you haven’t chosen the solar manufacturer, you should still research its reputation. In the best-case scenario, the solar system is from a U.S. company, according to Mathieson. “That doesn’t necessarily mean that the panels are exclusively manufactured here, but you want them to be a U.S. corporation so you’re protected by the Magnuson–Moss Warranty Act [a law that protects U.S. consumers from shady warranty practices],” she says.

Who installed the panels? Mathieson suggests researching the reputation of the person who originally installed the solar system. “The roof is one of the most important structures of your home,” she explains. “Check out the installer that put the system in and make sure that that installer has a warranty,” she suggests, pointing out that the installer or the company that sold the system may be willing to inspect it for you to provide peace of mind. Herbert also suggests getting an independent professional to inspect the system before you commit to buying a new home with existing panels.

Can I see past electric bills? Ask to see the current owner’s utility bills from the past year, so you’ll know what to expect. Most parts of the U.S. operate under net metering where your electricity bill can be zeroed out by solar, but not reduced further. Still, you could roll over credits from a sunny month into a less sunny month, according to Livermore. In a few areas, you can actually get paid for excess electricity your solar panels generate as allowed by your state and your utility provider. Not all solar systems are created equal. “The age of the solar does make a drastic difference, also how many panels and how much energy usage the house is seeing,” Herbert adds.

 What’s the warranty? Ask about the warranty terms. You likely have two separate warranties: one for the panels and another for the inverter, which converts the energy produced by your panels into alternating current that actually powers your house. “Usually the warranty for the inverter is shorter and the expected life is shorter,” Livermore says. “Sometimes when a solar system is sold, the buyer will purchase an option for the replacement of the inverter. Sometimes they don’t,” he adds. The typical solar panel warranty might run 25 to 30 years, while inverters might be warrantied for 10 years, according to Livermore. “They need that documentation to be passed on to them [in case] there were any issues down the road,” Russo adds.
 Source: USMoneyNew

15 Cheap Ways to Stay Cool This Summer

When the weather is hot and humid, turning on the air conditioner at full blast or sticking your head in the freezer sure feels nice – but neither is energy efficient or particularly frugal. The 15 ideas below, however, will help keep your temperature down without sending your electric bill upStaying-cool-this-summer

1. Go to the library. 

The library is filled with free books, magazines, movies, Wi-Fi and, most likely, air conditioning. Instead of reading or surfing the Internet at home on a hot day, do it at the library instead. And if you have kids, be sure to look into what programs might be available for little ones in the summer, such as story time or book clubs.

2. See a matinee. 

Another place that pumps in air conditioning is movie theaters. If you’re planning to see a new movie anyway, make it a matinee. The ticket price will be cheaper, and you’ll be able to get out of the heat while the sun is shining.

 3. Take a shower  and don’t towel off. 

A cool shower is already a great way to help beat the heat. But when you’re done, dry yourself in front of a fan instead of using a towel – the evaporation will help cool you down. You can also use a spray bottle to spritz yourself and get the same effect.

4. Keep the curtains drawn during the day. 

If you’re not at home, keep the curtains drawn and the blinds down – this helps stop sunlight from getting in and heating up your house.

5. Wear light colors (and sunscreen).  GTY_drinking_water_sk_150626_16x9_608

Light colors reflect light instead of absorbing it, like dark colors do. So why the sunscreen? While wearing light colors will keep you cooler, they’re not as effective at blocking the sun’s harmful rays from your skin. Consider applying a daily lotion that contains SPF 30 so you remain protected.

 6. Freeze your pillowcase. 

If it’s still hot out when you’re going to bed, stick your pillowcase in the freezer for a bit before you hit the hay. That way, you’ll be able to fall asleep on a nice, cool pillow.

7. Use your fans right.  Air-conditioning-wind

Unlike air conditioners, fans are usually most effective at cooling people directly, not cooling entire rooms. Or if you have more than one fan, and it’s cooler outside than inside, you can position two fans in your windows so that one pushes hot air out, and the other brings cool air in.

8. Eat strategically. 

We all know that eating and drinking cold things can help cool us down. But you might be surprised to learn that eating very spicy foods can also help you chill out because they help induce sweating.

9. Open your windows at night. 

Opening your windows during the day can just make your house hotter. Instead, wait until the evening to open your windows to let the cool air in.

10. Don’t use the oven to cook. 

Using the oven can drastically increase the heat in your kitchen. Instead, plan for meals that only use the stove top, microwave or grill.

11. Keep bottles of water in your freezer. 

A few bottles of frozen water can do a lot! Put one behind your neck when you’re watching TV or in your bed with you when you sleep at night. If you’re going out and about, bring it to drink – the water will melt slowly, leaving you with something extra cold to sip on.

12. Replace your light bulbs. 

Incandescent light bulbs use more energy and emit more heat than compact fluorescent light bulbs, so if you haven’t already, replace your old bulbs.

13. Wear the right fabrics. Lemon-mint-water-6-660x440

Loose cotton and linen will help keep you cool; synthetics will usually make you sweat. So dress accordingly.

 14. Drink lots of water.

Staying hydrated is one of the best ways to keep cool. If you’re bored by regular water, try infusing it with fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs. Some refreshing combinations include cucumber with lemon and orange with mint. Infusing is easy – just slice up the elements you want to use for flavor, put them in a pitcher with some water and keep it in the fridge.

15. If you do use AC, don’t go too cool.

Setting your air conditioner at 78 degrees instead of 72 degrees could decrease your cooling bill between 6 and 18 percent, according to energy.gov. If 78 degrees sounds warm to you, don’t worry – when it’s 90 degrees or hotter outside, 78 will feel plenty cool.

Source: US MoneyNews

5 reasons to air seal ,insulate your home and Rebate Info

In addition to making your home more comfortable, sealing air leaks and adding insulation can also reduce your energy use which may lower your heating and cooling bills. Just like you wouldn’t go outside during winter without a coat, your home needs layers too protect itself against the cold too.

Air sealing is the process of sealing cracks and other sources of leaks in your home to prevent heated air from escaping and unwanted outside air from entering your home. home-energy-savings

Insulation is a protective barrier between heated or cooled areas of your home and the outside to reduce heat loss and regulate air flow.

Here are the top five reasons to air seal and insulate your home:

1. Increase comfort

When cold air enters your home, it lowers the temperature of the house and overworks your furnace. Your furnace then struggles to maintain the thermostat’s specified temperature. By reducing drafts and air leaks, your furnace will work more efficiently.

2. Reduce energy waste by up to 20 percent.

After you seal leaks and insulate, your furnace doesn’t have to work has hard a break and you gain as much as 20 percent of heated air back in your home.

 3. Lower your heating costs

By adding layers to the envelope of your home, your heating system works to your advantage and keeps you warm—because the furnace doesn’t need to run as often. This can lower your heating costs while still keeping you comfortable.

 4. Improve air quality

Through sealing and insulation, you can control air flow and moisture, minimizing pollutants entering your home and circulating your duct system.

 5. Get a rebate

You can receive up to $1,500 for an air sealing and attic insulation project. For a list of approved contractors, For rebate amounts, check out our rebates for your home page.

Source: NiCor Gas