Friday, May 08, 2020

Not so green energy: Hundreds of non-recyclable fiberglass wind turbine blades are pictured piling up in landfill

Incredible photos have revealed the final resting place of massive wind turbine blades that cannot be recycled, and are instead heaped up in piles in landfills.

The municipal landfill in Casper, Wyoming, is the repository of at least 870 discarded blades, and one of the few locations in the country that accepts the massive fiberglass objects.

Built to withstand hurricane winds, the turbine blades cannot easily be crushed or recycled. About 8,000 of the blades are decommissioned in the U.S. every year.

Once they reach the end of their useful life on electricity-generating wind turbines, the blades have to be hacked up with industrial saws into pieces small enough to fit on a flat-bed trailer and hauled to a landfill that accepts them.

In addition to the landfill in Casper, landfills in Lake Mills, Iowa and Sioux Falls, South Dakota accept the discarded blades - but few other facilities have the kind of open space needed to bury the massive blades.

Once they are in the ground, the blades will remain there essentially forever - they do not degrade or break down over time.

'The wind turbine blade will be there, ultimately, forever,' Bob Cappadona, chief operating officer for the North American unit of Paris-based Veolia Environnement SA, told Bloomberg in February.

Veolia is searching for better ways to deal with the massive waste generated by the discarded blades. 'Most landfills are considered a dry tomb,' Cappadona said. 'The last thing we want to do is create even more environmental challenges.'

Texas-based Global Fiberglass Solutions claims to be the first U.S. company to develop a method to repurpose discarded turbine blades into useful products.

The company uses material from the blades to make fiberglass pellets that can be turned into flooring, parking bollards, warehouse pallets, and other items.

'We can process 99.9% of a blade and handle about 6,000 to 7,000 blades a year per plant,' CEO Don Lilly told Bloomberg. 'When we start to sell to more builders, we can take in a lot more of them. We're just gearing up.'

Like nearly every other industry, the U.S. renewable energy industry is reeling from the coronavirus pandemic, which has delayed construction, put thousands of skilled laborers out of work and sowed doubts about solar and wind projects on the drawing board.

As many as 120,000 jobs in solar and 35,000 in wind could be lost, trade groups say.

The wind industry is plagued by slowdowns in obtaining parts from overseas, getting them to job sites and constructing new turbines.

'The industry was on a tremendous roll right up until the last month or two,' said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. 'That reversal is stunning and problematic.'

Fossil fuels such as natural gas and coal remain the leading providers of the nation's electricity, with nuclear power another key contributor, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

But renewable sources - wind, solar, hydroelectric, biomass and geothermal - have jumped in the last decade as production costs have fallen and many states have ordered utilities to make greater use of renewable energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Renewables produced nearly one-fifth of the country's energy last year.

The EIA predicts renewable energy, despite recent setbacks, will grow 11 percent this year - an indication of the sector's strong surge before the economy tanked. Meanwhile, coal-fired power is expected to decline 20 percent and gas generation to grow just 1 percent.

The wind and solar industries have asked lawmakers and federal agencies for help, including an extension of their four-year deadlines for completing projects without losing tax benefits. Similar assistance was granted during the 2008-09 recession. 


Systemic Misuse of Scenarios in Climate Research and Assessment

Roger Pielke, University of Colorado Boulder and Justin Ritchie,
University of British Columbia


Climate science research and assessments have misused scenarios for more than a decade. Symptoms of this misuse include the treatment of an unrealistic, extreme scenario as the world’s most likely future in the absence of climate policy and the illogical comparison of climate projections across inconsistent global development trajectories. Reasons why this misuse arose include (a) competing demands for scenarios from users in diverse academic disciplines that ultimately conflated exploratory and policy relevant pathways, (b) the evolving role of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – which effectively extended its mandate from literature assessment to literature coordination, (c) unforeseen consequences of employing a nuanced temporary approach to scenario development, (d) maintaining research practices that normalize careless use of scenarios in a vacuum of plausibility, and (e) the inherent complexity and technicality of scenarios in model-based research and in support of policy. As a consequence, the climate research community is presently off-track. Attempts to address scenario misuse within the community have thus far not worked.

The result has been the widespread production of myopic or misleading perspectives on future climate change and climate policy. Until reform is implemented, we can expect the production of such perspectives to continue. However, because many aspects of climate change discourse are contingent on scenarios, there is considerable momentum that will make such a course correction difficult and contested - even as efforts to improve scenarios have informed research that will be included in the IPCC 6th Assessment.


The Scientific Case for Vacating the EPA's Carbon Dioxide Endangerment Finding

Patrick J. Michaels

Executive Summary

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2009 “Endangerment Finding” from carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases grants the agency a legal mandate that can have profound and far-reaching effects. The Finding is based largely on a Technical Support Document that relies heavily upon other mandated reports, the so-called National Assessments of global climate change impacts on the United States.

The extant Assessments at the time of the Endangerment Finding suffered from serious flaws. We document that using the climate models for the first Assessment, from 2000, provided less quantitative guidance than tables of random numbers—and that the chief scientist for that work knew of this problem.

All prospective climate impacts in the Endangerment Finding are generated by computer models that, with one exception, made systematic and dramatic errors over the climatically critical tropics. Best scientific practice would be to emphasize the working model, which has less warming in it than all of the others.

Instead, the EPA relied upon a community of wrong models.

New research compares what has been observed to what is forecast, and finds that warming in this cen- tury will be modest—near the lowest extreme of the prospective range given by the United Nations.

The previous administration justified its policy choices by calculating the Social Cost of Carbon [dioxide]. We interfaced their model with climate forecasts consistent with the observed history and enhanced the “fertilization” effect of increasing atmospheric concentrations of CO2. We find that making the warming and the vegetation response more consistent with real-world observations yields a negative cost under almost all modeled circumstances.

This constellation of unreliable models, poor scientific practice, and exaggerated estimates of the Social Cost of Carbon argue consistently and cogently for the EPA to reopen and then vacate its endangerment finding from carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.


CO2 Emissions Have Declined in the USA More Than Anywhere

No country on earth has done more to reduce CO2 emissions than the United States. Its emissions have declined big-time since 2005 while others’ grew.

From the June 2019 BP Statistical Review of Global Energy, the following are some details on global C02 emissions between 2005 and 2018 (the most recent year available):

CO2 emissions

Between 2005 and 2018, global CO2 emissions from energy grew by 20 percent (5748 million metric tons)

Declines in CO2 emissions between 2005 and 2018 were led by the United States (-12 percent and 706 million metric tons). Annual CO2 emissions in the United States declined 8 times during this period.

The next largest decline was in the United Kingdom (-32 percent and 182 million metric tons).

The largest increase in carbon dioxide emissions between 2005 and 2018 came from China (55 percent and 3329 million metric tons).

The next highest increment came from India where emissions rose by 106 percent (1275 million metric tons).

Together, China and India accounted for 80 percent (4604 million metric tons) of the increase in global carbon emissions (5748 million metric tons).

Editor’s Note: I’m not convinced CO2 emissions are the big threat others suppose them to be, as they’ve gone up and down many times over the eons, but assuming there is a benefit in reducing them, no country in the world has made as much progress as the United States of America.

Meanwhile, China, the source of the virus killing people and economies throughout the world has vastly increased its CO2 emissions. This is as some attempt to give it credit for renewables leadership but the only real progress that matters is happening right here in the United States of America.

Moreover, our first class progress on CO2 emissions is happening due to the efforts of private industry, operating without the corporatist subsidies on which green eggs and scam here and everywhere depends. It’s fuel switching made possible by fracking that changed everything.



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