Category Archives: Natural gas

How much solar power could Sabal Trail’s $3.2 billion buy?

The same money would buy a lot more electricity through solar power than that fracked methane pipeline could generate.

Update 2 March 2017: Added tables; fixed some typos.


Ramez Naam, his blog, 21 September 2016, New Record Low Solar Price in Abu Dhabi — Costs Plunging Faster Than Expected

Start with Sabal Trail’s numbers

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U.S. electric power source projections: solar still most by 2023

According to FERC’s own figures from 2012 and 2016, my solar projections from 2013 (and former FERC Chair Jon Wellinghoff’s) were pretty good, and more U.S. electricity will still come from solar power by 2023. LAKE Solar Table 2017 Since coal and nuclear are already crashing, and natural gas isn’t increasing even as fast as formerly projected, solar could win even faster.

I constructed table below from the 2012 and 2016 summaries of total U.S. electric power generation from all sources, by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Look at the 2012 column: only coal and natural gas generated more than 25% of total U.S. electricity.

But in 2016 it’s only natural gas, because coal’s growth rate actually turned negative: utilities are shutting down coal plants, not building them. Back in 2013 I did not predict that to happen so quickly.

Now look at the growth rates, both my 2013 projections (see also the graph on the right) and my corrected 2017 projections. Only wind (and waste heat) is higher than 5%, plus solar alone at more than 50% new installed capacity per year. According to FERC’s 2016 figures (the “actual:” numbers in the 2016 columns), my 2013 solar projection was a little high by deployed utility-scale solar power, but was actually low as a proportion in 2016, because coal and nuclear are already crashing. Sure, one new nuclear power plant opened in 2016, but more than one closed.

And remember, utility-scale solar power, which is all FERC records in its Energy Infrastructure Updates, isn’t the whole story. FERC recorded 7.748 GW of new solar power in 2016, but SEIA added in rooftop and community solar power for a total of 14.6 GW of new solar power in 2016.

You don’t see rooftop coal, or nuclear, or natural gas. You don’t any of those installed in 9-month or less timeframes, as for solar power: they all require multi-year permitting processes because they’re so environmentally destructive. So it’s very unlikely there are any significant additions to coal, nuclear, or natural gas U.S. energy generation beyond what FERC reported.

Solar power has what we could call the personal computer or mobile phone advantage: anybody can own one. Practically by definition, you’ll never see that advantage for utility-scale power generation.

Looking that the 2021 and 2023 projections in the table, of course they’re naive projections, simply taking the old 2013 rate and the new 2017 corrected rate and projecting them forward. The 2013 rate I made by comparing FERC’s 2012 total figures to previous years. The 2017 rate I made by comparing FERC’s 2016 total figures to its 2012 total figures.

By 2021 coal won’t even account for 25% of U.S. electricity generation, and it didn’t even in FERC’s actual 2016 figures. In 2021 natural gas will account for a higher proportion because of coal’s capitulation, even though it’s actually growing slower than my 2013 projection.

Also in 2021, solar and wind will both be greater than 10% of U.S. generation, although wind will not yet reach that by the corrected projection. Since in 2016 according to SEIA solar actually beat wind for new installed capacity, I wonder if wind is already having trouble competing with solar power.

In 2023, by either my old or new projections, solar power will generate more U.S. electricity than anything else. Wind doesn’t grow nearly as fast by the corrected 2017 factor. Maybe 2016 was a glitch for wind, or maybe there’s something deeper going on.

For how naive these projections are, look at the Total row. U.S. electricty demand is unlikely to increase by 20% by 2021 (only four years from now) and it’s even less likely to increase by 52% by 2023 (only seven years from now). What that actually probably means is that coal and nuclear will crash faster and natural gas will follow them down, leaving solar and wind power as the main sources of U.S. electricity.

These projections and this table are just to illustrate some basic points. Other people are doing much more sophisticated projections, such as Stanford Professor Mark Z. Jacobson and his research team, which graphically show fossil fuels and nuclear crashing while solar and wind win.

Goldman Sachs already called this a year ago, and many other big financial institutions predicted even earlier that solar and wind will win. This economic sea change is driven by solar prices dropping faster than Moore’s Law, which is accelerated by economies of scale as solar deployment increases. Economics are driving politics. Even Georgia in 2015 revised its antique law so third party power-purchase-agreements are now possible, and Georgia has become the fastest-growing U.S. solar market.

LAKE Solar Table 2017

Data from: FERC Office of Energy Projects
Energy Infrastructure Update For December 2012
Energy Infrastructure Update For December 2016
Total Installed Operating Generating Capacity
Projections by: Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE)
2012 2016 2021 2023
Power Source Projected Rates Installed GW 2012
(% of Total)
Projected GW 2016
(% of Total)
Projected %increase to 2016 Projected GW 2021
(% of Total)
Projected %increase to 2021 Projected GW 2023
(% of Total)
Projected %increase to 2023
Coal 2013: 1.3% 2017: -3.6% 337.71
(29.17%)
355.62
(26.93%)
actual: 291.79 (24.65%)
105%
actual:
86.4%
379.34
(19.95%)
corr.: 242.79 (17.13%)
112%
corr.:
71.9%
389.27
(15.13%)
corr.: 225.63 (12.74%)
115%
corr.:
66.8%
Natural Gas 2013: 1.8% 2017: 1.0% 491.82
(42.48%)
528.20
(39.99%)
actual: 511.74 (43.23%)
107%
actual:
104%
577.48
(30.37%)
corr.: 537.90 (37.95%)
117%
corr.:
109%
598.46
(23.26%)
corr.: 548.71 (30.98%)
121%
corr.:
111%
Nuclear 2013: 1.0% 2017: -0.1% 107.01
(9.24%)
111.36
(8.43%)
actual: 106.58 (9.00%)
104%
actual:
99.6%
117.04
(6.16%)
corr.: 106.05 (7.48%)
109%
corr.:
99.1%
119.39
(4.64%)
corr.: 105.84 (5.98%)
111%
corr.:
98.9%
Oil 2013: 1.0% 2017: 1.9% 41.32
(3.57%)
43.00
(3.26%)
actual: 44.85 (3.79%)
104%
actual:
108%
45.19
(2.38%)
corr.: 48.95 (3.45%)
109%
corr.:
118%
46.10
(1.79%)
corr.: 50.82 (2.87%)
111%
corr.:
123%
Water 2013: 1.0% 2017: 0.5% 98.12
(8.47%)
102.10
(7.73%)
actual: 100.59 (8.50%)
104%
actual:
102%
107.31
(5.64%)
corr.: 102.62 (7.24%)
109%
corr.:
104%
109.47
(4.25%)
corr.: 103.65 (5.85%)
111%
corr.:
105%
Wind 2013: 22.8% 2017: 9.2% 57.53
(4.97%)
130.82
(9.91%)
actual: 81.87 (6.92%)
227%
actual:
142%
365.33
(19.21%)
corr.: 127.03 (8.96%)
635%
corr.:
220%
550.90
(21.41%)
corr.: 151.48 (8.55%)
957%
corr.:
263%
Biomass 2013: 3.7% 2017: 2.6% 15.00
(1.30%)
17.35
(1.31%)
actual: 16.78 (1.42%)
115%
actual:
111%
20.80
(1.09%)
corr.: 18.90 (1.33%)
138%
corr.:
125%
22.37
(0.87%)
corr.: 19.89 (1.12%)
149%
corr.:
132%
Geo- thermal Steam 2013: 4.2% 2017: 1.5% 3.70
(0.32%)
4.36
(0.33%)
actual: 3.93 (0.33%)
117%
actual:
106%
5.36
(0.28%)
corr.: 4.23 (0.30%)
144%
corr.:
114%
5.82
(0.23%)
corr.: 4.36 (0.25%)
157%
corr.:
117%
Solar 2013: 60.9% 2017: 57.0% 3.90
(0.34%)
26.14
(1.98%)
actual: 23.70 (2.00%)
670%
actual:
607%
281.88
(14.82%)
corr.: 226.03 (15.95%)
7227%
corr.:
5795%
729.76
(28.36%)
corr.: 557.14 (31.46%)
18711%
corr.:
14285%
Waste Heat 2013: 0.4% 2017: 14.4% 0.69
(0.06%)
0.70
(0.05%)
actual: 1.18 (0.10%)
101%
actual:
171%
0.72
(0.04%)
corr.: 2.32 (0.16%)
103%
corr.:
335%
0.72
(0.03%)
corr.: 3.03 (0.17%)
104%
corr.:
439%
Other 2013: 0.0% 2017: -8.5% 1.04
(0.09%)
1.04
(0.08%)
actual: 0.73 (0.06%)
100%
actual:
70.2%
1.04
(0.05%)
corr.: 0.47 (0.03%)
100%
corr.:
45.0%
1.04
(0.04%)
corr.: 0.39 (0.02%)
100%
corr.:
37.6%
Total 2013: 0.0% 2017: 0.5% 1157.86
(100.00%)
1320.69
(100.00%)
actual: 1183.74 (100.00%)
114%
actual:
102%
1901.49
(100.00%)
corr.: 1417.29 (100.00%)
164%
corr.:
122%
2573.3
(100.00%)
corr.: 1770.94 (100.00%)
222%
corr.:
152%
corr.: LAKE 2013 projection corrected by LAKE in 2017 according to growth rate from 2012 to 2016.
Factor colors: red: < 0%; orange: < 2%; blue: > 5%; green: > 50%. Proportion background colors: darkyellow > 10%; yellow > 25%.

2012 FERC Source: Data derived from Ventyx Global LLC, Velocity Suite.

2016 FERC Sources: Data derived from Velocity Suite, ABB Inc. and The C Three Group LLC which include plants with nameplate capacity of 1 MW or greater. The data may be subject to update.

* “Other” includes purchased steam, tires, and miscellaneous technology such as batteries, fuel cells, energy storage, and fly wheel.

Waste Heat

What is the mysterious Waste Heat that FERC does not define in either of the source reports? EPA defines it like this:

Waste heat to power (WHP) is the process of capturing heat discarded by an existing industrial process and using that heat to generate power (see Figure 1). Energy-intensive industrial processes—such as those occurring at refineries, steel mills, glass furnaces, and cement kilns—all release hot exhaust gases and waste streams that can be harnessed with well-established technologies to generate electricity (see Appendix). The recovery of industrial waste heat for power is a largely untapped type of combined heat and power (CHP), which is the use of a single fuel source to generate both thermal energy (heating or cooling) and electricity.

So waste heat is efficiency measures for existing thermal industrial processes. Thus it is unlikely ever to account for a significant proportion of electricty generation.

Putting it another way, waste heat is greenwashing obsolete power generation. Case in point: Status of Waste Heat to Power Projects on Natural Gas Pipelines, November 2009, prepared for Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA). Sorry, fracked methane purveyors, waste heat won’t save you.

Solar power will soon account for the largest proportion of U.S. electricity generation.

And that’s just the start. We know how to get to 100% sun, wind, and water power for the U.S. by 2050, for everything, including heating, cooling, and transportation. Solar power will win like the Internet did.

Let the sun rise!

-jsq

Investigative reporting costs money, for open records requests, copying, web hosting, gasoline, and cameras, and with sufficient funds we can pay students to do further research. You can donate to LAKE today!

New solar up 95% in 2016, more installed than gas or wind

Solar passed both wind and natural gas in 2016 for most new U.S. electricity installed in a year. Yet Bloomberg still doesn’t quite get it: solar is growing exponentially, and is still on track to produce more U.S. electricity total than any other power source by 2023.

Chris Martin, Bloomberg Markets, 15 February 2017, U.S. Solar Surged 95% to Become Largest Source of New Energy,

  • Solar installations surpassed gas and wind for first time
  • Record 14.6 gigawatts of solar panels added in 2016, SEIA says

Solar developers installed a record 14.6 gigawatts in the U.S. last year, almost double the total from 2015 and enough to make photovoltaic panels the largest source of new electric capacity for the first time.

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Georgia Power new acquisition AGL’s Pivotal LNG exporting through Jaxport

Back in May 2015, Southern Company CEO Tom Fanning and Georgia Power CEO Paul Bowers both told me “If we can’t do coal, we have to do pipelines”. I-75 through Atlanta, Macon, Valdosta, I-10 through Lake City A year in the making, Southern Company bought pipeline company AGL Resources. Turns out AGL Resources is also an LNG export company, exporting through Jacksonville by LNG containers on trucks. And the plot thickens with the pending corporate takeover of CSX Railroad by the former CEO of Canadian Pacific, given that CSX depends a lot on carrying coal, which remember is what Southern Company is rapidly getting away from. Could CSX want to carry LNG? Meanwhile, LNG containers are already rolling down I-75 and I-10 to Jaxport, apparently through Atlanta, Macon, Valdosta, and Lake City.

Southern Company PR, 1 July 2016, Southern Company and AGL Resources complete merger, create a leading U.S. energy company, Continue reading

Pipelines companies don’t detect corrosion or stop explosions

A reminder of why to stop pipeline companies from burying investors’ money in the ground and get on with solar power: the pipeline that exploded in Texas last week was half owned by Spectra Energy, the pipeline company behind Sabal Trail, AIM, Penneast, and numerous other fracked methane invasions and behind thirty years of undetected corrosion resulting in leaks, explosions, property damage, and deaths. The pipeline company didn’t detect it and couldn’t even turn it off quickly. Want to bet that it, like Spectra’s Pennsylvania explosion last spring, was corrosion?

A very Texas report said “no people or cattle were injured” and also notice: “The fire is under control and will burn itself out.” Continue reading

Solar Panels at Daytona International Speedway

Even FPL is doing solar power now, as evidenced by these pictures John Horton sent back from Daytona yesterday. Front gate So, FPL, how about cancel Sabal Trail and help the sun rise faster on the Sunshine State?

Kelly Pickerel, Solar Power World, 19 February 2016, Three solar canopies complete at Daytona International Speedway, Continue reading

America’s largest college mutual fund VA529 owns Spectra Energy, a stranded investment

Parents and grandparents buy 529 college savings plans as safe investments, so VA529 chose poorly in Spectra Energy, the very risky company behind the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline now plowing through the Floridan Aquifer drinking water of south Alabama, Georgia, and all of Florida and under the Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers against growing opposition. Maybe you’d like to mention that to Mary G. Morris, the Chief Executive Officer of Virginia529 College Savings Plan, the biggest mutual fund investor in both Spectra Energy and in Enbridge, which is buying Spectra. There’s a handy VA529 contact form or you can call or write:

1-804-371-0766
Toll-Free: 1-888-567-0540
9001 Arboretum Parkway
North Chesterfield, VA 23236

Spectra is so risky it just sold itself so Enbridge would take on about $22 billion of Spectra debt. Debt especially racked up since Continue reading

Videos: Water, VSU bonds, 3 road abandonments, 1 widening, MIDS bus, Comprehensive Plan @ LCC 2016-10-11

Two weeks ago, County Manager Joe Pritchard announced that Commissioner Joyce Evans is now serving as Vice Chairman, yes, the resolution to approve the VSU bonds was requested by the South Regional Joint Development Authority (SRJDA), and John Stevens is the new VDT reporter. Citizen Shirley Moore said she’d like a connection to county water and sewer. They tabled the Comprehensive Plan update, apparently because the Commissioners wanted to “dig into it deeper”.

The rest was mostly approving what they already discussed the previous morning. They meet again Monday morning.

Below are links to each LAKE video with a few notes, followed by a video playlist.

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Videos: Art, hurricane, engineering reports, VSU bonds, 3 road abandonments, 1 widening, MIDS bus, Comprehensive Plan @ LCC 2016-10-10

The Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline and others already in the county came up in the Comprehensive Plan approval discussion, as you can see in these LAKE Videos from Monday morning; they vote tonight 5:30 PM.

Stephen Spradley and Georgia Forestry were still helping after Hurricane Matthew, but Ashley Tye reported on evacuees, Chad McLeod reported on engineering projects including the Naylor Boat Ramp at the Alapaha River, and Angela Crance reported on an art district; actually Buddy Boswell did that.

They also heard about a self storage rezoning, three road abandonments, a road widening, the annual MIDS bus service renewal, and a county resolution about bonds for another private LLC by the South Regional Joint Development Authority (SRJDA), different from the one with the public hearing October 21st at a private law firm. What does the resolution say? It’s not in the documents with the agenda.

Below are links to each LAKE video with a few notes, followed by a video playlist. Continue reading

Florida state-owned uplands crossed by Sabal Trail

FDEP is fine with Sabal Trail boring through the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway in Marion County, FL, Marjorie Carr Cross Florida Greenway State Recreation and Conservation Area, FLORIDA NATIONAL SCENIC TRAIL, Marion Co., FL as well as drilling under Suwannee River State Park in Hamilton and Suwannee County, FL.

For that Greenway, see the maps shown here (click on any one of them for a larger image), pulled from Sabal Trail’s Continue reading