Solar Tour 2014

Cowessess Wind Developments Ltd. turbine.
800kW at 32mi/h
tailless, computer controlled.
Has Li-ion batteries.
Solar Tour Regina

Solar Tour Regina
Solar farm and home system of 10kW
Inverter anti-islanding. Prevents electrifying the grid while grid is down.
Isolation ring for the meter can be installed so you can attach a generator to the house to let the inverter keep working during a grid failure.

A Canadian report of a 2008 study of cities over 200,000 people around the world, listed Regina as sixth best in the world for solar energy generation potential.

Kelln has a system for pumping cattle water, that motion detects cattle, pumps up water to a bowl, and then lowers it below the frost line after the cattle have left.

Solar panels have passed the $1/Watt holy grail.
$500/Watt at the beginning.

250W panels on Toronto St. install.
Pool inside.

Solar Tour Regina
Namerind put a system on a rest home. The Resting Place south of The Serbian Club.
Namerind has a power generation update on their website.
Check out 1100 block Winnipeg in a few weeks.

Battery Depot which we drove by, has no apparent interest in marketing their products to solar users. Why aren’t they making money by putting solar panels on their south facing roof?

Tour’s poster designed by anti-nuke artist Richard Vicarious [sp?].

Picked up a few more people at Candy Cane park, then at Mac the Moose in Moose Jaw.

Mitchell’s thermal hot air system. Pop can design.
Solar Tour Moose Jaw

2.7kW grid tied system next on the south west corner of Moose Jaw. There are two arrays mounted on the ground, and their angles can be changed.

Next was a hybrid system to heat a stable. GAIT equestrian centre.
$1500 for the excavation of a geothermal cooling/heating system seen in photo.

Radiant heat presentation.

Saw a real moose behind Mac the Moose.
IMG_2642

5.7kW building integrated solar on a car port in Belle Plaine.

More detail and photos to come soon.

Solar Power for all Saskatchewan households

A recent poll has shown that nuclear power doesn’t have majority support in Saskatchewan, and I think that’s fine. My own family has mixed attitudes toward it. My parents, who own 17 solar panels, wouldn’t mind seeing nuclear power in Saskatchewan, while I oppose the waste-producing nuclear technology available today.

A 2010 study by the CCPA shows “nuclear power has the potential to triple current electricity rates for Saskatchewan consumers.” If we’re going to pay more than we do for Estevan’s coal and Manitoba’s hydro, I want us to invest in solar power.

The massive Ivanpah solar power facility that opened this year for California consumers should be considered as an option for sunny and vast Saskatchewan. Smaller solar plants such as this type could be constructed with mostly Saskatchewan and Canadian materials, knowledge, and labour. Built at the 3 year pace set by California, we could jump to having solar power overtake some fossil fuels as our electricity provider, before 2020.

Given that there are about 410,000 households in Saskatchewan, we’d need about 3 Ivanpah style solar power plants to provide electricity to every home in the province. We can do it, and we should.

First Nations Get $0.3M for Solar Research #skpoli

The Conservative government generously gave First Nations in Saskatchewan enough grant money to build one impressively sized solar array that could power a half dozen homes.

Ontario is going with $5,000M.

SaskPower gave 10 times the recent federal contribution, to the UofR to research how to put CO2 underground so more oil can be pumped out of the Weyburn area.

Lockheed manufactures illegal weapons, and is part of the F-35 dud stealth bomber boondoggle.

Solar is not “concentrated” in SK as explained in the article, we just have more sun hitting the ground throughout the year than most of Canada. There’s no magnifying glass aimed at Regina or Estevan, fortunately.

$300K is better than a kick in the teeth, I suppose. It’s to be used on little demonstration projects. It’s 2013, and Germany has already done a country-wide demonstration project that we can wholesale adopt here in Saskatchewan. Let’s get on with it already.

Continue reading

Oil and Tobacco

It’s worth remembering that marketers should not drive scientific research.
Cigarettes are dangerous?
We’d better make them appear less dangerous so they will still sell.
I know, let’s filter the smoke. This fibre seems to do some filtering, or at least we can convince people of that.
Wait, what’s the fibre? Asbestos.

==
Link dump:

What Saskatchewan and Canada should do with oil wealth.

==

Something other than oil would be nice.

SK Climate Hearings talked about some of these solutions.

We Have The Technology to Stop Air Pollution

Listen to a scientist say very clearly that we have the science and technology to create 100% renewable power in the United States within my lifetime (2050).

We’re only held back by politicians who fail to implement an urgent plan to save us, as they were required to when implementing policy during WWII from another clear threat to the American way of life.

An Irrational Mixup at SaskPower

Ten years ago, SaskPower was spending money to promote education about Climate Change.

The poster contest is an important component of our efforts to educate the public about the climate change issue. There are increasing concerns that human activity – such as the burning of coal and other fossil fuels to generate electricity – contributes to climate change, which has been associated with increased risk of droughts, heat waves and storms.

Yet a decade later its CEO and President, Robert Watson, has written the Star Phoenix dismissing a good question from a Saskatoon Community Wind representative, James Glennie, to meaningfully reduce pollution. Why isn’t SaskPower investing heavily in distributed power generation from renewable sources like wind, and solar thermal and photovoltaic? Our coal-burning crown corporation last year on its website was citing a study into solar power, conducted in the year 2000, to dismiss solar as a viable commercial power generation option. It sounded suspiciously similar to Mr. Watson’s excuses given to Mr. Glennie’s good ideas. We know technology has changed significantly since 2000, not only in computers, but in solar panels and solar thermal. Saskatchewan home owners installing net metered solar arrays, now expect to make profit on their investments, in as few as ten years pay-back time.

Instead of giving ‘Can’t-Do’ excuses for why it’s more difficult to use solar and wind in Saskatchewan’s tough climate, our crown corporation’s CEO could co-opt can-do direction from Saskatchewan people, and develop renewable energy technology right here. We can sell those adaptations abroad to other places with harsh, sunny Winters. I’m also not pleased with a SaskPower VP telling me last year, there’s a high cost for “utilities in the Northern Hemisphere” to use solar. Have they not seen what Germany, Spain, Ontario, California, and other utilities in our hemisphere are investing in? Every American border station has a large solar power installation because it’s “a high cost”? I don’t think so. Judging by SaskPower’s President’s remarks in the paper, innovation and change will come from the bottom up.

Below is a re-write of Mr. Watson’s letter to the editor, which cuts through the BS.

I’d like to provide additional information on SaskPower’s plans for a power generation mix that has served to make Saskatchewan, Canada’s worst per-capita air polluter.

Unlike fossil fuel sources, which can produce power and greenhouse gas constantly, wind and solar are not sources of greenhouse gases (i.e. they don’t cause climate change) and can meet our day-to-day requirements if we change how we use electricity. We can keep fossil fuels as emergency backup only.

Wind power is intermittent and cannot be effectively stored without innovation SaskPower is not willing or able to provide. Our province’s wind conditions allow for turbines to generate electricity nearly 40 per cent of the time, which is as much time in the day as you might directly need immediate electricity. They do not produce greenhouse gas or smog, which makes them safer than coal plants. We don’t paint windmills black to naturally heat them, so when it’s too cold outside we shut them down and lose potential generation revenue.

Solar power, in various forms, is suitable for widespread generation in Saskatchewan because the technology has improved immensely and is set to become cheaper than coal within the life-span of many coal turbines already built.

SaskPower will continue to ignore innovation so it has to invest less in retraining engineers who are really good at operating coal turbines and conventional grids, but don’t seem to have a sniff about how to create a distributed smart grid of renewable energy with a fossil fuel backup system.

Now, the real, depressing letter:

A rational mix
Robert Watson, Letter to the The Starphoenix
Published: Saturday, August 31, 2013

In response to James Glennie’s letter Blown opportunity (SP, Aug. 26), I’d like to provide additional information on SaskPower’s plans for a power generation mix that will serve Saskatchewan today and into the future.

Unlike geothermal sources, which can produce power constantly, wind and solar are not sources of baseload power (i.e. stable, constant) and cannot meet our day-today requirements due to the unpredictable nature of the source.

Wind power is intermittent and cannot be effectively stored for future use. Our province’s wind conditions allow for turbines to generate electricity nearly 40 per cent of the time. They do not produce when there is too little or too much wind (for safety reasons) or it’s too cold outside.

Solar power is not suitable for large-scale generation in Saskatchewan because of its high cost and low capacity factors.

There is certainly a place for these power sources in our generation mix – Sask-Power currently has approximately 200 megawatts of wind power, enough to power 86,500 homes. By 2017, we will have doubled our wind capacity with the installation of a new facility near Chaplain and other projects with independent power producers.

Solar power is best suited for small-scale operations and SaskPower does offer programs to encourage this.

SaskPower will continue looking at every option to ensure the future includes reliable, sustainable and affordable power.

Robert Watson
SaskPower president and CEO

And here’s the letter that kicked things off:

Blown opportunity

By James Glennie, The Starphoenix August 26, 2013

I read with interest the article, Geothermal study gets SaskPower funding (SP, Aug. 20) and think it’s admirable that SaskPower is using ratepayer funds to investigate expensive new technologies such as DEEP. One might add to these costs the $1.2-billion, carbon capture scheme at Boundary Dam.

One wonders, however, whether Saskatchewan’s long-suffering ratepayers might be better served by an analysis of technologies that can achieve the same thing at much lower cost. For instance, why is $2 million being spent to investigate a technology that is

hugely expensive and buried three kilometres below the earth, when Saskatchewan has one of the best wind and solar resources in North America? No digging required and no carbon emissions.

Very detailed and highly sophisticated electrical studies have been carried out in numerous jurisdictions worldwide that show wind and solar can reliably and economically provide 25 per cent of total electricity demand on an integrated and modern electricity system. At the same time these clean, renewable technologies have minimal technological risk, enjoy overwhelming public support and can provide massive rural economic stimulus – vital for numerous small towns struggling with lack of jobs and depopulation.

Yet despite this overwhelming body of evidence SaskPower insists that wind and, one presumes, solar will never provide more than five per cent of Saskatchewan’s electricity.

Perhaps DEEP’s $2 million would have been better spent on an independent electrical study which sets out to solve the perplexing riddle of why it is that electrons behave so differently in this corner of the universe?

James Glennie

Saskatoon Community Wind

Renewable Energy Predictions Way Off

They were vastly underestimated.

Here’s info about that out of date solar power study that SaskPower was touting.

Coal Hard Truth #skpoli

The Leader-Post may be giving kudos to the Sask Party’s singular focus on Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS), but I won’t be. The primary reason CCS (clean coal) is getting so much Conservative and Sask Party government funding, is because it’s a hidden subsidy to the oil industry so that they can recover more oil from otherwise exhausted oil fields.

“We have a great story to tell,” Wall said.

We need more than a fairy tale, or a Sask Party narrative to save us from climate change. We need significant improvements in energy efficiency in our homes and transportation utilization, as well as plenty of increased investment in renewable energy.

On the question of overall provincial support for the environment, the NDP Opposition correctly notes the Sask. Party government cut funding for climate change activities by 73 per cent in the past two years. This is not exactly a great record for Wall when he goes to Pittsburgh or Washington to tout Saskatchewan’s clean energy.

Friends recently told me that PARC at the UofR had been cut significantly, since I last noted on my blog that PARC was a significant admission by the Sask Party that climate change is coming, and will be a huge economic and quality of life game changer. The lack of meaningful investment in renewable energy leaves Saskatchewan behind in the global economic situation emerging.

One year ago, the opposite from the oil industry:

“Our decision was essentially based on the fact that we could not see a way to make the economics of our CCS project work as we originally intended,” said Don Wharton, vice-president of policy and sustainability at TransAlta.

He said markets for pure carbon didn’t develop as expected, and federal and provincial governments took no steps to recognize the value of reduced emissions by implementing a price on carbon, for example, or a cap-and-trade system.

In short, despite nearly $800 million in government subsidies, the company had no incentive to invest in CCS.

The “Clean Coal” lie rolls on. Now it has a new timeline for implementation. Let’s collectively watch it be missed (again).

The government boasted at last week’s Boundary Dam symposium that the project will be up and running this fall and completed by next April, on time and on budget. It will reduce CO2 emissions at the plant by 90 per cent (one million tonnes a year) by shipping emissions 60 kilometres to Weyburn’s enhanced oil recovery project.

From 2009:

“The committee will complete work on the development phase by August 31, 2009, including a full project plan, engineering design, business plan, detailed budget and construction timeline.

With the financial support of the Governments of Canada and the United States, construction of the plant could begin as early as September 2009 and the plant could be operational as early as the summer of 2011. The goal for the reference plant is to test a range of technologies in the capture of up to one million tonnes of CO2 over a four-year period.”

Mini Solar Tour in the Fog of Wood Mountain and Glentworth

I went on a road trip Saturday with my friend Adam K., down to my parents’ place, and his grandparents’ farm. On the way around southern Saskatchewan, we saw close to 150 deer and antelope, a snowy owl, a dozen hawks, a handful of Canada Geese, smaller birds, two dead raccoons, and the final resting place of four children who passed away in 1919 (Spanish Flu maybe?).
Ukrainian Catholic Church

To Moose Jaw
The road into Regina was ice, and the road to Moose Jaw was quite a bit better, but still partly covered in a thick layer of ice. There was a semi on the eastbound highway that had done a 180, and blew open its trailer door, strewing boxes across the ditch at Belle Plaine.

We filled up in Moose Jaw, then ate at the Steakhouse in Assiniboia (we had waffles). The GPS kept trying to convince us to turn off the paved road instead of going to Limerick. We went to Limerick, I took a couple photos, and on through flooded Flintof and dry Wood Mountain we continued. Many deer were along the way, and the misting rain continued through the trip after Moose Jaw’s southern hills.
Flintoft turn

Hawk landing
– A hawk about to land

After second lunch we strolled around the various energy and heating systems my parents had installed for their home.
Solar Hot water panel mount

Solar PV

Convincing SaskPower that a generator ring/link was a good idea for a Saskatchewan power meter, took some convincing. Fortunately Dad is persistent.

Wood Mountain elevator

Ukrainian Catholic Church
– 1925 built Ukrainian Catholic near Glentworth, SK

Ukrainian Catholic Church

More photos next time of the animals who made this print:
Deer tracks

Tarsand Analogy

This is an unpolished analogy of Canada’s attitude toward the tarsand/climate change problem.

Let’s say Canada is a person complaining about their weight (they think their carbon footprints are too heavy). To solve this problem they read a diet book that their friend Europa suggested to them, and they even try to get FIT in the Ontario core area, but they continue to eat at the greasy Tar Sands Cafe every day and never learn to cook their own meals in a solar oven. Canada’s friend Alberta and Tex suggest a new method of eating at the Tar Sands which will improve Canada’s bank account by next year. The only catch is that it requires hooking a food line right into a vein and causes early death. Canada isn’t totally sold on the idea, but is addicted, so this mainline seems like an option. Plus, they’re scared about not having enough money.

Canada could choose to start using their solar oven, and make meals at home, but would have to convince Tex and Alberta to join them in making healthier food. That seems like too much work, and it’s so much easier to take the mainline and watch Rex Murphy rant on TV about how things should never change. The dough rolls in, and the weight piles on.