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Two Podcasts: Same Rant About the Need of Reliable Energy

Hi All, I hope you're getting outside today to enjoy the balmy 38! degree weather. If you're out and about or walking the dog, here are two podcasts I appeared on yesterday discussing how Minnesota dodged a bullet during the cold snap, and we were fortunate we didn't run out of natural gas. That being said, wind energy was basically no help. Why would we build energy sources we can't depend on? In The Tank Donny Kendal and Isaac Orr, Policy Fellow at the Center of the American Experiment bring you episode #176 of the In The Tank Podcast. Today's episode features work from the Center...

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Bitter Cold Shows Reliable Energy Sources Are Critical

The Star Tribune has published an opinion piece I wrote on how Minnesota's bitter cold should be a wake-up call for energy policy in our state. Instead of mandating the use of wind and solar, which generated just 24 percent of its installed capacity, and provided just four percent of MISO's electricity, we must maintain and keep reliable electricity sources like coal, nuclear, and natural gas plants running. You can read the article by clicking here....

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Wind Power Engineering and Development: Why Wind-Turbine Gearboxes Fail to Hit the 20-year Mark

The short, 20-year lifespan of wind turbines is one of the most important, but least talked about facets, aspects of energy policy. American Experiment has written about this topic several times, but as I was researching further I found this interesting article from Wind Power Engineering and Development which states wind turbine gearboxes fail to reach even this milestone. As utility-scale wind turbines have developed from the kilowatt-class to the multi-megawatt machines installed today, the components inside a nacelle have also evolved to keep up with new power demands. Drivetrains, in particular, have had to change significantly to meet stronger, more variable wind loads...

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It’s Negative 24 Degrees and the Wind Isn’t Blowing. This is Why We Need Fossil Fuels and Nuclear Power, Not Renewables

Good morning, everyone! I hope you're staying warm. If you are, it's because of natural gas, oil, coal, nuclear power, or even wood, because the wind isn't blowing right now. The screenshot below is from Electricity Map. It's a fun app that tells you how your electricity is being generated at any given moment in time.  Turns out wind is  producing only four percent of electricity in the MISO region, of which Minnesota is a part. While that's not good, what's worse is wind is only utilizing 24 percent of it's installed capacity, and who knows how this will fluctuate throughout the course of the...

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Germany is Largest Buyer of Russian Natural Gas

Yesterday I wrote about how Germany gets about 37 percent of its electricity from beautiful, clean coal, but it also generates a significant portion of its electricity with natural gas. Whereas the United States has used hydraulic fracturing, also known as "fracking,"  to turn the U.S. into the largest producer of natural gas in the world, Germany has banned fracking within its borders, and as a result, it instead purchases its natural gas from friendly Uncle Vlad. In fact, Germany is the single-largest consumer of Russian gas, Russia’s natural gas exports to Germany increased 12.2 percent in the first half of 2018, compared...

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EIA Data: Wind Replaced Natural Gas, Not Coal in 2017

The U.S. Energy Information Administration recently released its electricity data for Minnesota in 2017, and boy, were there some interesting findings. One of those interesting findings is that contrary to the popular narrative that by building wind turbines, we will make Minnesota less dependent upon coal-burning power plants. The graph below shows the annualized capacity factor for each generation source in 2017. I've used this graph in recent blog posts but this merits its own 15 minutes of fame in this post. The capacity factor for coal was 61 percent, much larger than the capacity factor for wind at 35.9 percent,...

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Throwing Shade at the Solar Pathways Analysis: 70 Percent Solar and Wind Would Require We Build 6 to 11 More Capacity Than Nuclear Would Require: At a Massive Cost

Renewable energy advocates have been trumpeting the findings of the Solar Pathways Analysis (SPA) that claims solar power can not only meet 70 percent of Minnesota's energy demand, but it can also do it affordably. However, this type of thinking requires a gold medal in mental gymnastics. It's time to throw some serious shade at the SPA for being a shoddy work of scholarship. For the purposes of this article, it's helpful to understand that a gigawatt (GW) is the equivalent of 1,000 megawatts (MW) and 1,000,000 kilowatts (kw). First off, the SPA says we can achieve a grid powered by 70 percent...

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MPCA Testimony: The Air Is Getting Cleaner

On Tuesday, January 22, 2019, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) delivered a presentation to the Minnesota House of Representatives detailing the condition of the state's air. In what may be a surprise to many people, the air quality in Minnesota has improved significantly from 2003. According to an article reporting on the hearing: In a presentation about air quality, Kohlasch and Greta Gauthier, the PCA’s assistant commissioner of legislative and intergovernmental relations, said that the number of “bad air days” – when the air becomes unhealthy for sensitive groups -- is declining, while good days are mostly on the rise since...

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With Rise of Electric Vehicles, a New Foreign Energy Dependence Looms

Self-identified environmentalists in Minnesota want to increase the adoption of wind, solar, and electric vehicles in our state, but they also generally oppose opening new mines in Minnesota that would help provide the copper, nickel, and cobalt that will be needed to actually build the wind turbines, solar panels, and electric cars they profess to care so much about. [caption id="attachment_11096" align="aligncenter" width="748"] One 3-MW turbine contains. 335 tons of steel. 4.7 tons of copper. 1,200 tons of concrete (cement and aggregates) 3 tons of aluminum. 2 tons of rare earth elements. aluminum. zinc. molybdenum. (NW Mining Association)[/caption]   Cobalt is an especially...

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