Solar / battery peaker plants now cheaper than natural gas

8minutenergy solar / battery peaker plants

Peaker plants operate when there is peak demand for electricity and deliver it instantly. Unlike base load power plants, they do not run continually. Peaker plants used to be mostly powered by natural gas. However that is changing fast. Solar power peakers with battery backup are now delivering power more cost-effectively cheaper than natural gas.

This is a worldwide trend and is irreversible. Solar and wind plants are now produce power cheaper than coal and natural gas. These costs are going to keep dropping, especially when battery storage is used. Long-term, coal and natural gas are dead.

8minutenergy (that’s how long it takes energy from the sun to reach the earth) has multiple sites with grid-scale solar with battery backup, mostly in California. Their cost for a new solar / battery site is now much less than natural gas.

I can beat a gas peaker anywhere in the country today with a solar-plus-storage power plant,” says Tom Buttgenbach, CEO of developer 8minutenergy Renewables. “Who in their right mind today would build a new gas peaker? We are a factor of two cheaper.”

There is so much demand for batteries from solar sites that hybrid and EV automakers are having to compete to get them.

“When you see projects now being planned at over 1 GWh in scale, when only 18 months ago a 300 MWh installation was something to behold, you know you have entered a new era,” says Simon Moores, managing director of Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.. “It has been quite interesting to watch the battery makers’ dilemma of where to send the lithium ion cells. Of course they have contracts to honor with automotive producers, but the order inquiries from [energy storage] producers have been incredible.”

Cybercrime and ransomware. Detective Jefferson Grace.

Cybercrime. Locky ransomware sourse code.

Cybercrime is way worse and more prevalent than you think, even if you consider yourself knowledgeable. Detective Jefferson Grace of Las Vegas Metro PD spoke to a continuing education class yesterday. He has thirteen years experience in Financial crimes Investigations. My wife attended. The notes she took were sobering.

The majority of cybercrime groups are state-sponsored or terrorist-sponsored. Their crimes include ransomware, skimming ATMs, cloning cell phones and credit cards, phishing, data theft, and more.

Ransomware is the primary reason for crypto currencies. In 2015 ransomware payments were estimated at $385 million. In 2017 it was $5 billion. 2018 will be higher. This is sophisticated organized crime.

Bitcoin scammers have deliberately increased liquidity in bitcoin so it could then more easily accept their bitcoin ransomware payments. This of course is also money laundering on a major scale.

LinkedIn is the #1 source of social engineering fraud because it stores so much personal information. For example, scammers spoof business email addresses and request that employees paychecks be auto-deposited elsewhere.

The Ashley Madison attack was wildly successful because it used a dictionary of common passwords. That’s all it took. Really folks, “123456” isn’t a secure password, it just isn’t.

Title companies no longer do business by email due to wiring fraud. Phony emails pretending to be from, say, a home buyer, ask the money to be transferred to a bogus account. The money then vanishes.

GandCrab is nasty ransomware and it’s also for sale on the dark web. Buy it, then attack sites on your own.

Solutions (his and mine):

Use Two Factor Authentication.

Never reuse passwords, use similar passwords, or use predictable passwords. Get a password manager.

Consider using a different email address for bank accounts.

Keep your computer updated. Windows 10 was immune from recent ransomware attacks because it has been patched to stop them. It is also has multiple levels of security baked into the OS. IMO, you are asking for trouble if you still use Win 8 or earlier.

Turn off Location Settings on photos.

Don’t post about vacations on social media until you are back. Be prepared.

Yes, it’s a jungle out there.

Green New Deal is well-meaning, vague on implementation

Green New Deal Twitter thread

The Green New Deal proposed by Osacio-Cortez is hugely ambitious and light on details. I wanted to really like it, however it’s a bit scattered. At heart, it’s about social justice more than anything else. Yes, absolutely, the poor and underclasses are adversely affected way more than others by climate change, high energy costs, and pollution. Getting 100% of our energy from renewables, as proposed, will help the poor enormously, and the rest of us too.

Yet, making social justice a major focus, along with peripheral goals (medical care, more unions) that have little to do with renewables and remediating climate change make the whole proposal fuzzy. I give it an A for enthusiasm and a C- for implementation and hope Version 2.0 is more focused. It has definitely started a conversation about green energy, and that’s absolutely a good thing.

I’m just not seeing much in the Green New Deal (PDF) on the specifics of how to get to 100% renewables. The most concrete plan in the proposal is for the federal government to fund renewable energy research, which is already happening despite the Orange Malignancy in the White House. (Also, a meaningful Green New Deal will not happen until Trump is no longer in power, so ousting him needs to be goal #1.)

Transitioning to clean energy is complicated. You can’t just build renewable energy plants and expect it all to work smoothly. Those power plants will be part of a grid that needs to stay in balance between supply and demand. By its very nature, renewable energy is not generated 24/7. Therefore, baseline power will always be needed. That probably means coal, natural gas, and nuclear will be with us for a while, even as solar / battery peaker plants are cheaper than natural gas now. And before pro-nuke people say woo-hoo, let’s build more nuclear power, we in southern Nevada beg to differ, because your toxic waste is being stored here. Nuclear energy is zero emissions except for the radioactive material, so it’s not really zero emissions at all.

The technical challenges is transitioning to a green economy are enormous and the cost will be huge. I applaud this Green New Deal, however do think it’s bit vague and not particularly well thought-out.

Green New Deal and Trump

Green New Deal platform

building resiliency against climate change-related disasters.

repairing and upgrading the infrastructure in the United States.

meeting 100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, re8 newable, and zero-emission energy sources.

building or upgrading to energy-efficient, distributed, and ‘‘smart’’ power grids.

upgrading all existing buildings in the United States and building new buildings to achieve maximum energy efficiency.

spurring massive growth in clean manufacturing in the United States and removing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing and industry.

remove pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural and transportation sectors.

removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and reducing pollution by restoring natural ecosystems
restoring and protecting threatened, endangered, and fragile ecosystems

cleaning up existing hazardous waste and abandoned sites.


providing and leveraging, in a way that ensures that the public receives appropriate ownership stakes and returns on investment, adequate capital (including through community grants, public banks, and other public financing.)

ensuring that the Federal Government takes into account the complete environmental and social costs and impacts of emissions.

providing resources, training, and high-quality education, including higher education, to all people of the United States, with a focus on frontline and vulnerable communities.

making public investments in the research and development of new clean and renewable energy .
directing investments to spur economic development, deepen and diversify industry and business in local and regional economies.

ensuring the use of democratic and participatory processes that are inclusive of and led by frontline and vulnerable communities.

guaranteeing a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave.

strengthening and enforcing labor, workplace health and safety, antidiscrimination, and wage and hour standards across all employers, industries, and sectors.

obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of indigenous peoples for all decisions that affect indigenous peoples and their traditional territories.

ensuring a commercial environment where every businessperson is free from unfair competition and domination by domestic or international monopolies.

Paul Erickson indictment: Fraud, money laundering, and Maria Butina

Paul Erickson indictment
Hey, let’s exploit the elderly and investors with a Ponzi scheme!

Paul Erickson and Maria Butina, two crazy kids in love with, with dicey bank accounts sending money every which way. That’s just adorable. But he’s twice her age, balding and dumpy-looking. Why would semi-hottie Maria be attracted to him? Hmm.

Oh right, it’s all about the money, and money laundering, and fraud. And the NRA, Russia, and Putin.

Paul Erickson was indicted this week in federal court in South Dakota on one count of fraud and ten counts of money laundering. The indictment details two decades of Ponzi schemes with multiple corporations.

Money laundering

And lookee here. Payments to American University, where Butina was a student, and personal payments to “M.B.”

Paul Erickson indictment. Payment to American University
Paul Erickson indictment. Payments to "M.B."

The bank accounts

Erickson and Butina were busy, busy, busy.

Here Is The Money Trail From The Russian “Agent” And Her Republican Partner

Federal investigators say some of the money went to Maria Butina’s campaign to help Russia infiltrate American politics.

Wells Fargo officials expressed suspicion about the “significant control” Erickson had over Butina’s account. He had access, Wells Fargo found, to her personal checking account, which she opened in 2014. He frequently made payments on her behalf; the recipients have not been identified. He sometimes appeared to write checks that Butina signed.

Erickson appears to be one of those slithering weasels that Donald Trump is so fond of, “very good people” indeed.

In 1994, Erickson obtained a $30,000 contract with Jack Abramoff to lobby for entrance into the United States by Mobutu Sese Seko, the military dictator of the Democratic Republic of the Congo who had been banned from the entering the United States due to the corrupt and dictatorial nature of his regime. Mobutu sought a visit to the United Nations to claim credit for this offer, but his visa request was ultimately denied due to his past human rights abuses.

During Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016, Erickson attempted to develop a back-channel between the NRA and the Russian government. In May 2016, Erickson sent an e-mail with the subject line “Kremlin Connection” to Trump campaign adviser Rick Dearborn asking Dearborn and then-Senator Jeff Sessions for advice on setting up a meeting between Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin at an annual NRA convention. After Trump won the presidential election in November 2016, Erickson said he was advising his transition team.

Fuel cell trucks. Battery powered trucks.

Toyota fuel cell big rig truck

Fuel cells convert hydrogen and oxygen into electricity, creating water as a byproduct. There are no toxic emissions. Electricity is stored in batteries or directly powers devices and vehicles. Several automakers already have fuel cell cars. Increasingly, they are developing fuel cell trucks. which are especially suited for short- to medium-haul routes with fixed pick up and drop off locations. The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach already have zero emission fuel cell big rigs. They perform well, just like any other semi, and have no stinky emissions. Maintenance for them is less than for diesels.

The trucks will transport cargo across the Los Angeles basin, including to inland cities like Ontario and San Bernardino. The project is being funded by a $41 million grant from the California Air Resources Board (CARB), itself part of a larger $82 million funding program to add more hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles and fueling facilities around the greater Los Angeles area by 2020.

Toyota’s choice of Kenworth as a partner is not surprising. The automaker used Kenworth trucks as the basis for its prototype Project Portal hydrogen fuel-cell semis, the first of which began operating in the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in October 2017. Toyota introduced an updated second-generation version in 2018, based on the Kenworth T680.

Battery powered trucks

Battery powered trucks, like from Telsa, are increasingly being eyed by big rig operators as a way to cut costs and emissions. Walmart Canada is saying goodbye to diesel, and plans to have its entire fleet powered by renewable energy by 2028. It now has 40 Tesla EV trucks. Daimler is producing electric trucks for Penske. They can charge from empty to 80% in 60 minutes and have a range of 230 miles.

Regenerative braking

Bosch is working on regenerative braking for EV semi-trucks. Passenger hybrids like the Prius have had done for years. Kinetic energy created by braking is converted into electricity and stored in the electric motor battery. This technology, Bosch says, could save $11,400 per year per truck. A big trucking companies like Schneider has over 10,000 trucks. Do the math. The savings are huge.

Normally, friction braking would slow down a semi truck by using pneumatically actuated brakes, transforming motion into heat, whereas the regenerative braking will use the resistance of the electric motor to turn the kinetic energy into something that can be harnessed later. The energy is stored in batteries found in the trailer and can be used as either supplementary power to increase an electric semi’s range, or to power refrigeration units.