The main thing the greens accomplished was increased transport of oil via rail. Rail transport is much more dangerous and environmentally damaging than pipeline, but Keystone XL was always a "rally the troops" issue not a "protect the environment" issue.
I love your Starbucks analogy. To make the analogy really match net metering, though, you need to pass a new law forcing Starbucks to let customers bring in their excess home-brewed coffee whenever they feel like it (e.g. just before closing time) and get a full cup-for-cup credit to be redeemed later (e.g. during the morning rush).
Starbucks wouldn't have any problem with that, right?
Brian, can you clarify your statement that ecars will double electricity demand? US vehicle miles traveled is about 3 trillion miles/year, which would consume 1 trillion kWh or roughly 1/4th of current US electricity demand.
$748m spent to upgrade and extend Monticello will provide Minnesota with 671 MWs of electricity with over 90% duty cycle. That's roughly 14,500 MWh each day.
$748m spent on PV would (optimistically) provide 374 MW of rated power. Minnesota averages a bit over 4 hours of solar insolation per day, so the same $748m delivers roughly 1,500 MWh/day.
Even with massive cost overruns, upgrading and extending Monticello provides roughly 10x bang for the buck over PV.
Brian, although it's true oil is rarely used to generate electricity these days, natural gas is used quite often. And in many countries the price of natural gas is related to LNG import/export prices, which are tied directly to oil prices. So cheaper oil -> cheaper LNG -> cheaper NG-fired electricity.
None of the above is true in the USA. The US does not materially participate in the global LNG market so our natgas prices are disconnected from oil. In fact, as oil companies cut back on drilling the US market will see reduced output of associated natural gas, possibly driving natgas prices up a little.
Finally, the Saudis aren't "killing" solar and wind. They pump the same amount of oil as they have for years. The people blaming the Saudis for the price crash are mostly other oil producers such as Russia, Iran, Venezuela and investors in shale oil companies. They want Saudi Arabia to cut their own output so everyone else can pump all out while enjoying $100/bbl pricing. That's great for everyone else but bad for Saudi Arabia. It's absurd to think the Saudis would go along with such a lopsided scheme, but that's what people expected.
Some Passivhaus designs may achieve costs close to conventional, but this one came in a $396/sqft exclusive of land. Conventional building here in TX, even with those expensive heating/air conditioning systems, is around $80/sqft. I applaud the professor's passion and his willingness to put his money where his mouth is. We need pioneers to move these designs forward in the hopes that some day they'll make sense for typical working families.
I'm not a big believer in cellulosic ethanol, but POET is way ahead of you Anon. For starters, they only take a fraction of the stover, leaving enough in the fields to maintain soil health. Most cellulosic schemes were pie-in-the-sky tax boondoggles, but POET's is a well-planned add-on to one of their conventional corn ethanol plants. Their approach may fail -- progress always comes with risk -- but they've done their homework.
"Distributed rooftop solar REDUCES GRID LOADING. So their argument is bs."
It reduces AVERAGE grid loading. I have yet to see it reduce maximum grid loading. And max load determines cost.
At high penetrations distributed rooftop solar INCREASES grid cost, because one must upgrade components to handle 2-way flow. You can avoid these upgrade costs by shutting some rooftops down in times of high output.
"Renwables don't need storage anymore than baseload did."
Oh come on. Nuclear and coal can easily load-follow if designed to do so. France's nuclear plants do it every day. The US uses nuclear and coal as base load for economic reasons. Nuclear and coal have very high construction cost and very low fuel cost. You want to run those plants 24x7 to get as many kWhs as possible from your initial investment. Throttling back reduces your revenue without appreciably reducing your costs. Gas/liquid turbines are the opposite - very low upfront cost and high fuel cost. Shutting them down when not needed reduces your costs considerably.
If demand fluctuations force you to buy generators that sit idle 90% of the time, you want the cheapest generators you can find. You don't care so much about their fuel cost, because 90% of the time their fuel cost is ZERO.
You could easily supply the US with 100% nuclear and no storage. Good luck doing that with wind or solar. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of wind and solar. But absurd claims don't promote the cause, they only make renewable supporters look like a bunch of clueless morons.
There's just no pleasing some people.
I'm no fan of LNG, but oil-fired electricity is so dumb even LNG may make sense as a transition fuel for Hawaii. Certainly more sense than using solar panels to make hydrogen. As for Portugal, half their renewable energy comes from large-scale hydro which doesn't apply to Hawaii.
If regulators allow it, NextEra has the capital to vastly accelerate Hawaii's wind and solar rollout. Hawaii is also ideal for pumped hydro, by far the most cost-effective energy storage method. Other renewables (e.g. Big Island geothermal) may also play roles. The economics strongly favor renewables and large reductions in CO2. But beware the politicians and bureaucrats.
Sean > Hawaii, aka the Big Island, has terrific geothermal resource. Oahu, where most of the people live, does not. So geothermal is a niche solution unless you run an inter-island power cable on the ocean floor. Might be worth doing, but it's a vastly more complex project than you imply.
Tell me, how does a utility "keep solar out"? Residents can install panels and disconnect their meter any time they want. Of course most PV enthusiasts prefer to stay connected to the grid and use its services for free. And have their neighbors subsidize their upfront cost while they're at it. That works when PV is an extreme niche market as it's painless for the many to subsidize the few. But it doesn't scale up. How do you pay for the grid and backup generation if everyone net-meters down to 0 kWh? It's absurd. If you want renewables to remain small then go ahead and "stick it to the utilities" by pushing net-metering and other subsidy schemes. If you want renewables to dominate, as I do, you need to start looking at the big picture.