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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Natgas as bridge fuel gets boost

A new report from Lux Research finds that solar power will become competitive with natural gas-fired electricity globally by 2025, and - as others have found - that solar and natgas could form a symbiotic relationship with the development of hybrid technologies that use both sources.

The results are summed up here:
"On the macroeconomic level, a ‘golden age of gas’ can be a bridge to a renewable future as gas will replace coal until solar becomes cost competitive without subsidies,” Lux research associate Ed Cahill said in a statement. “On the microeconomic level, solar integrated with natural gas can lower costs and provide stable output."
That integration of solar and gas is described by Think Progress as: 
hybrid plants that combine solar and natural gas power through a variety of methods. The solar portion of the system would protect against price swings for natural gas, while the natural gas portion would ensure a reliable electricity supply on days when sunlight is intermittent. Lux even raises the possibility of gas-powered microturbines that can be installed in an individual home and integrated with a rooftop solar array as a form of distributed generation.
This symbiotic use of solar and natgas cold significantly advance the adoption of renewable power generally:
(T)his sort of piggybacking could bring intermittent renewable power to 25 percent of the U.S. grid’s power supply without compromising stability — with the possibility to go as high as 45 percent.
A bridge to a renewable future can be built - if we have the will, and the right energy and regulatory policies. Will we build it?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Voters strongly value conservation over natgas development

Voters in the Applachian region value conserving natural areas over natural gas development.

That's the take-away from a new poll commissioned by The Nature Conservancy that surveyed voters in seven states - New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Virginia.

The poll finds a remarkable prevalence - and persistence - of collective wisdom and common sense around natgas development

TNC's release says:
A clear majority of voters (68 percent) consider Central Appalachian forests “critical to the local economy” and more than three-quarters of voters in the region consider their forests a “national treasure.”
When offered a choice, a majority (54 percent) of voters prioritize conserving forests, natural areas and wildlife habitat over natural gas development—even if doing so would lead to higher energy costs.
To protect forests, rivers, and streams from the potential negative effects of natural gas development in the Central Appalachians, robust majorities of voters in the region support establishing strong environmental safeguards as a condition on further natural gas development, including:
  • Requiring natural gas developers, before they start drilling, to prepare regional plans for locating their wells and pipelines to reduce impacts on wildlife habitat and water quality (93 percent)
  • Requiring natural gas developers to prevent or fix any negative impacts that drilling, pipelines, and roads may have on forests or water quality (92 percent)
  • Requiring companies that drill for natural gas to follow guidelines based on sound science to guide their decisions about where to put natural gas wells (91 percent)
Voters must translate these strongly-held beliefs into action.  They must hold their elected officials accountable for their stewardship - or lack thereof - of our natural resources. Landscape industrialization and other impacts of development clearly place the industry's social license to operate at risk.

Elected officials and the natgas industry ignore these results at their peril. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

In DC and environs tomorrow

Tomorrow, I'll be participating in a meeting of the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin, where I serve as an alternate Federal Commissioner. From there, I'll be heading to the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. to speak with members of the U. S. House of Representatives Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC). We'll be discussing hydraulic fracturing and state/federal regulation. My co-panelists will include experts from Colorado, Illinois, and California.