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Rocky Flats Made Nukes. Then It Made A Mess. Now It’s About To Become A Public Park.

"Plutonium, named for the Roman god of the underworld and the dwarf planet at the edge of the solar system, is one of the world’s most dangerous elements. Inhaling just one particle will bombard internal organs, particularly the lungs and liver, with harmful alpha radiation for decades. For the most part, it isn’t naturally occurring. But until just over a decade ago, it was plentiful in this 5,000-acre patch of rolling hills and grasslands."

"From 1952 to 1989, this picturesque sanctuary was home to a factory that produced plutonium triggers for nuclear weapons ― a lot of them. Nearly all of the approximately 70,000 nuclear weapons produced in the United States include a part made at Rocky Flats."

"It was designated as a Superfund site in the early 1990s, and the radioactive materials have been removed. It’s scheduled to open to the public for the first time next summer."

2016 Energy Consumed for Large Office Buildings in Albany Area

By far the biggest consumer of energy as state office buildings in the Albany-area is the Empire State Plaza, which includes all of the plaza buildings, along with the State Capitol, Alfred E Smith Building and Education Building. All these buildings are connected to common utilities, so they count as one. The second biggest energy user in the Capital Region is the Harriman Office Campus and the University at Albany Campus.

Data Source: New York State Government Building Energy Use Intensity Data: Beginning State Fiscal Year 2010. https://data.ny.gov/Energy-Environment/New-York-State-Government-Building-Energy-Use-Inte/nfvi-5nt4

Rick Perry Denies Climate Change Role of CO2

"Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Monday he does not believe carbon dioxide emissions are the main driver of the earth's record-setting warming, a core finding of climate science. Instead, Perry said, the driver is most likely "the ocean waters and this environment that we live in."

"Perry became the second of President Donald Trump's cabinet members to go on television to publicly dismiss the importance of CO2 in global warming, ignoring the scientific evidence. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt rejected its role in answer to essentially the same question in March, also on CNBC's "Squawk Box."

Hard Lessons from Zion

"The Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan, which is scheduled to close in 2022, is one of six nuclear plants across the U.S. expected to shut down over the next decade. Each plant and the community around it will need to address the same crucial problem that plagues the 30 reactors decommissioned since 1957: where do you send millions of pounds of fuel rods that will remain radioactive for tens of thousands of years? The answer, for now, is nowhere."

Two Government Agencies. Two Different Climate Maps.

"With gardens a-sprouting, a warm, wet winter behind us,1 and a hotter-than-average summer for much of the country ahead, we decided to look at whether and how climate change was affecting what plants can grow around the country. The easy data solution — or so it seemed — was to look at a series of maps dedicated to showing Americans what plants can survive in their neck of the woods. These are called plant hardiness zone maps, and they’ve been produced since the 1960s by the U.S. Department of Agriculture."

"But then we noticed something weird. The USDA’s website specifically asks people not to use these maps to document climate change. Meanwhile, it looked as if other parts of the federal government were doing exactly that in reports such as the National Climate Assessment."

"So what gives? It turns out, the government produces two hardiness zone maps — one made by the USDA and one made by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. Both divide the country into segments, each of which represents a 10-degree increment of the average annual minimum temperature. But the underlying data used to build out the zones is different. Those differences are driven by the agencies’ goals, and they affect what the different maps are intended to be used for."

Wind and solar in March accounted for 10% of U.S. electricity generation for first time

"For the first time, monthly electricity generation from wind and solar (including utility-scale plants and small-scale systems) exceeded 10% of total electricity generation in the United States, based on March data in EIA’s Electric Power Monthly. Electricity generation from both of these energy sources has grown with increases in wind and solar generating capacity. On an annual basis, wind and solar made up 7% of total U.S. electric generation in 2016."

"Electricity generation from wind and solar follows seasonal patterns that reflect the seasonal availability of wind and sunshine. Within the United States, wind patterns vary based on geography. For example, wind-powered generating units in Texas, Oklahoma, and nearby states often have their highest output in spring months, while wind-powered generators in California are more likely to have their highest output in summer months."

"Monthly solar output is highest in the summer months, regardless of location, because of the greater number of daylight hours. About half of all utility-scale solar power plants in the United States use some form of sun-tracking technology to improve their seasonal output."

Solar jobs now outnumber coal jobs in the US

"That may not be possible: 40 percent of coal-mining jobs have disappeared since 2011, and now only 50,000 of these jobs remain. Experts say automation, lower demand for electricity, and, above all, competition from cheaper fuels are killing the industry. Those fuels include natural gas from fracking, and, increasingly, renewable energy.

Rob Godby, an energy economist at the University of Wyoming, says one of the biggest challenges facing workers in the coal industry is simple: location. “When you are thinking about coal mining in Appalachia, oftentimes there are generations of families in those regions, and it's just very difficult to pick up and move,” Godby says.

Nationwide, coal miners make on average of $35 an hour, Godby says, in part because the job can be so dangerous. In renewables, the pay averages between $20 and $25 an hour. “That doesn't mean you couldn't raise a family on that, but you're a lot closer to the average income in a lot of states in the solar industry than you are in mining industries,” Godby says.

For some workers, however, the switch to a job in the renewable energy industry has proved successful. Wylie Koontz, 23, used to work at a coal mine, though as a lower-paid contractor. When he got laid off last year, he saw a job opening with Energy Independent Solutions, a local solar company."

Carbon Emissions, Pie Chart

This is a graph of sovereign states and territories by carbon dioxide emissions due to certain forms of human activity, based on the EDGAR database created by European Commission and Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency released in 2014. The following table lists the 2014 annual CO2 emissions estimates (in thousands of CO2 tonnes) along with a list of emissions per capita (in tonnes of CO2 per year) from same source. The data only considers carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and cement manufacture, but not emissions from land use, land-use change and forestry. Emissions from international shipping or bunker fuels are also not included in national figures, which can make a huge difference for small countries with important ports. The top 10 largest emitter countries account for 68.2% of the world total. Other powerful, more potent greenhouse gases are not included in this data, including methane.

Data Source: https://www.wikiwand.com/en/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions

Weekly Carbon Dioxide Readings, 2015-present

68% of the Earth's land is north of the equator in the Northern Hemisphere, while only 32% is south of the equator in the Southern Hemisphere. During the summer in the Northern Hemisphere, there are a lot more plants that become green and turn carbon dioxide and sunlight into sugars using chlorophyll.

Data Source: Mauna Loa Observatory Readings, Weekly Averages 2015-2017. ftp://aftp.cmdl.noaa.gov/products/trends/co2/co2_mm_mlo.txtftp://aftp.cmdl.noaa.gov/products/trends/co2/co2_weekly_mlo.txt

FACT CHECK: Is President Trump Correct That Coal Mines Are Opening?

"The coal mines that are opening up produce a special kind of coal used in steelmaking, and are opening largely because of events unrelated to federal policy, experts say. The market for the kind of coal used in electricity — the biggest use for coal — remains down relative to where it was several years ago."

"In other words, the industry has rebounded slightly after years of layoffs and closures caused mainly by competition from cheap natural gas. And a handful of new mines in Wyoming, Alabama, Pennsylvania and West Virginia are either opening or slated to open in the next few years."