Oklahoma to Build World’s Second Largest Wind Farm as France + UK Pledge to Ban Fossil Fuel Vehicles

If we’re going to effectively deal with climate change while maintaining economic prosperity, then it’s absolutely essential to rapidly transition fossil fuel based energy to non-carbon emitting energy. And some of the best options for doing so presently involve leveraging economies of scale with three widely available technologies — wind, solar, and low cost storage and EV batteries.

Oklahoma Wind Capacity to Rise Above 30 Percent of Electrical Generation

Over the past week, serious advances continue to be made on these fronts. In the Oklahoma panhandle, Invenergy has partnered with GE Renewable Energy to build a 2 GW onshore wind farm. Once finished, the farm (named Wind Catcher) will be the largest U.S. wind farm and the second largest such farm in the world. The farm itself will be composed of 800 massive 2.5 megawatt wind turbines. This is GE’s largest wind turbine model and its size will help to lower the cost of producing electricity, some of the benefits of which will then be passed on to energy customers.

(According to the American Wind Energy Association, Oklahoma presently ranks as third in the U.S. for wind electrical generation capacity at 6,645 megawatts. Adding another 2,000 megawatts would considerably increase Oklahoma’s wind energy share by 30 percent. As a result, present Oklahoma wind generation of 25 percent of the state’s electrical supply would likely rise to 32.5 percent as a result of this single large project.)

Pete McCabe, President and CEO of GE’s Onshore Wind business noted in Clean Technica:

“GE is delighted to be a part of the groundbreaking Wind Catcher project with Invenergy and American Electric Power. We look forward to putting our teams to work in these communities as we continue to move toward our goal of ensuring that no one has to choose between sustainable, reliable and affordable energy.”

The project which will cost 4.5 billion dollars hits a pretty amazing price of around 2.25 cents per kilowatt hour installed. And with new wind energy projects costing as little as 2.5 cents per kilowatt hour on average in 2017, it appears that raw economic factors alone are likely to continue driving large and lucrative wind projects like the one now being pursued in Oklahoma. A single project that will increase Oklahoma’s wind energy generation capacity by 30 percent to 8,645 GW and push wind’s total share of state electrical generation to around 32.5 percent (see image and caption above).

France and UK Pledge to Ban Fossil Fuel Vehicles

Even as wind gains a larger share of energy production capacity in a red state, the UK and France have now joined a growing number of cities and nations in providing a responsible pledge to ban petrol and diesel based vehicles by 2040. These national moves match a recent initiative by Norway — which aims to sell only electrical vehicles in country by 2025. Meanwhile, India has also recently set a goal to sell only electrical vehicles in its own markets by 2030. Cities such as Madrid, Munich and Stuttgart are also considering diesel bans.

Concerns about worsening air quality, recent cheating by automakers on emissions standards, worries about climate change and a major threat to traditional automaker market share by all-electric manufacturers like Tesla appear to have reached a kind of critical mass.

From the New York Times:

Britain’s decision is, however, the latest indication of how swiftly governments and the public in Europe have turned against diesel and internal combustion engines in general. Automakers, though reluctant to abandon technologies that have served them well for more than a century, are increasingly resigned to the demise of engines that run on fossil fuels. They are investing heavily in battery-powered cars as they realize their traditional business is threatened by Tesla or emerging Chinese companies, which have a lead in electric car technology. The shift away from internal combustion engines is in large part a result of growing awareness of the health hazards of diesel.

According to reports from the BBC, France’s own July 6 decision to ban petrol and diesel vehicle sales by 2040 was spurred by the Trump Administration’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord. France has long aimed to reduce its carbon emissions and the 2040 vehicle ban is part of a larger plan for the country to become carbon neutral by 2050.

Links:

USA’s Largest and World’s Second Largest Wind Farm to be Built in Oklahoma

Britain to Ban New Diesel Cars by 2040

France to Ban Sale of Petrol and Diesel Vehicles

American Wind Energy Association

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48 Comments

  1. Banning cars always reminds me of a Rush song; Red Barchetta.

    A sad thing, but also a tempting one. As those who have the space will keep a few of the banned things, tucked away as ‘collectibles’. I imagine they’ll gather dust as the technology of the electric engines advances and the electric cars become better than the old motor cars ever were.

    Reply
    • Ken Provost

       /  July 27, 2017

      They already are — it’s just the batteries that could use improving 🙂

      Reply
    • And may the misplaced nostalgia for fossil fuel vehicles begin. I say — good riddance. Add fossil fuel burning to nationally accepted slavery and a million other ills that were properly consigned to the dustbin of history.

      Reply
  2. Ken Provost

     /  July 27, 2017

    Great essay from Richard Heinberg just out on Resilience, Common Dreams, and Smirking Chimp (wonderful site):

    http://www.resilience.org/stories/2017-07-27/are-we-doomed-lets-have-a-conversation/

    Reply
    • Heinberg has always struck me as more than a bit too pessimistic with regards to our ability to innovate. He’s right that we should look to use less energy per capita. But what I think he misses is that a transition to renewables enables efficiency. And his attacks on renewables are way, way off base. Further, he tends to push for austerity rather too hard. If, for example, his view became dominant, the economies that took it on would retract rapidly creating social unrest and backlash. For sustainability, we have to thread a needle — producing enough prosperity for human economic systems not to collapse while also working a rapidly declining curve of lowered externalities. This is not a utopian view. And, though a challenge, it is far more achievable than Heinberg’s radical and likely very harmful vision of enforced austerity.

      That said, moving banking systems more toward a Rooseveltian model would add stability, reduce harmful growth, and reduce material and labor throughputs to more rational levels. I think Heinberg’s views are based on good general notions (excepting the weird and misplaced attacks on renewables). But pushing an extreme view on de-growth is not really helpful.

      Reply
      • wili

         /  July 28, 2017

        Good points. At some point, though, we have to give up the idea of limitless growth, which by definition is impossible on a limited planet. The sooner we figure out how to do that humanely, the better, imvho. I know the notion is still far from main stream, in spite of being decades old, but the main stream has pretty much gotten us into this mess.

        Growing economies, of course, do not guarantee that all boats are raised. Shrinking economies, it seems to me, need not mean sinking the smallest boats, either.

        Reply
        • The notion of actual limitless growth is kind of a red herring. The economic system already includes a number of abstract metrics for growth that do not include labor and material throughput. In my view, those are the two areas we need to focus on.

          In labor, automation is the primary enabler now of increased productivity. For the standpoint of sustainable societies, if societies automate to high degrees, there need to be a number of constraints applied.

          1. Wealth needs to be redistributed such that the fruits of automation are generally shared. If loss of labor to automation results in desperation by those who’ve lost jobs, then social unrest and collapse pressure ensue.
          2. Rational constraints to consumption need to be applied. This can be managed by adding efficiency, providing disincentives for certain high impact products, and by generally rewarding lower impact behavior. In the range of human activity, it’s pretty easy to determine what rational use in the context of the individual is and what excess is. For example, owning five homes that are unoccupied is a pretty obvious excess. But enabling a person to live reasonably and travel are things we can do within constraints if we are smart about it.
          3. Aim to reduce and disincentivize hoarding.
          4. Provide outlets for people to work for social and societal goods as automation takes down key jobs. This produces an additive sustainability impact multiplier.
          5. Focus more on community and quality of life issues. Less on quantity, marketing, and consumption.
          6. Most importantly — automated systems need to be run using recycled materials and renewable energy in every way possible.
          7. Artificial intelligence should not rise to the level that, on balance, it harmfully competes with human individuals or creates unsustainable harmful externalities. In the worst case, some have envisioned scenarios where artificial intelligence automated systems become predatory to humans. Given the predatory nature of certain corporate entities, I think that such behavior is a sad possibility. But more from the standpoint of systems designed to exploit human limitations for the benefit of a few individuals. We should be very aware of this potential going forward and apply strong constraints as they become necessary.

          I think Heinberg would probably agree with a number of these principles while thinking that some of the more positive visions were utopian. But pessimists and cycnics have long derided those who pushed for positive social action as utopians. Those who pushed for women’s rights — impractical utopians. Those who pushed for an abolishment of slavery —
          the same. It’s just true that there are always some people who decide that it’s a moral and just thing to use their considerable endowment of human thought and reason to work for a more hopeful and just future. And there will always be those who gave up on such notions because they lacked the imagination and heart to see a postive way forward. That’s what I mean by threading the needle. We need a balanced action that creates a real pathway to better outcomes. We do what we can. We recognize the threats. But we also keep a place in our hearts for the warm light of hope.

        • wili

           /  July 28, 2017

          I think all of your numbered points are great. Any ideas which ones might have the best chances in our current political environment?

          There is always a place for hope, but the question is…hope for what?

        • I think continuing to emphasize these points makes it more likely that we’ll see them come up as policy or affect policy. There’s no direct road for influence in the U.S., I think. But the more hands you have on the scales, the better.

        • You need a balance of both to be accurately representative of reality. It’s not hope vs fear. It’s hope and fear.

        • Some similar thoughts from a climate scientist can be found here. It’s in the form of a Twitter thread, so quick reading. Hmmm, actually, I guess I can just pin the start of the thread here instead of a link to the blog where it’s posted.

        • Oops, no, that didn’t work, as the tweets don’t seem to be threaded properly. So here is the link to the blog post with the full thread:

          https://initforthegold.blogspot.com/2017/07/twitter-rant.html

      • wpNSAlito

         /  July 29, 2017

        “Heinberg has always struck me as more than a bit too pessimistic with regards to our ability to innovate.” I’ve learned to be chary of arguments that *rely* on innovation, though. It’s all too easy for worries about sustainability to be waved off with vague predictions of a future technological breakthrough that will ride to the rescue. I’d rather be relieved and surprised if some invention or discovery solves or alleviates a problem than use them as a planning crutch in the first place.

        Reply
        • Heinburg’s anti innovation arguments proved dead-wrong when it came to peak oil. Economic systems innovate when faced with challenges and scarcity.

          For example — we have a cobalt shortage for battery producers now. In the past, batteries were produced with 6:2:2 ratios of which the final two iterations were cobalt portions. But low and behold, with shortages and increased costs, new lithium batteries with considerably less cobalt in a 8:1:1 ratio are now being produced. The anti-innovation, peak materials camp failed to factor in these responses and are, again, coming up wrong.

          The anti-innovation perspective always assumes that everything is a set value, that nothing can or will change, and that markets, technologies and individuals will not respond to new conditions. Reality is far more fluid. And very seldom are boundaries within systems absolute.

          In addition, if we’re looking at climate change and energy — innovation is required to get out of this mess. If we don’t innovate, we’re basically screwed. So you’d better hope for your sake and that of your children that innovation does work out.

  3. Jeremy in Wales

     /  July 27, 2017

    Robert small typo Stuttgart not Stuggard.
    Home to to the first car plus HQ of Mercedes-Benz and Porsche.

    Reply
  4. Jeremy in Wales

     /  July 27, 2017

    The problem with the UK governments announcement is not in the direction of travel but in the usual cack handed way they go about these policy initiatives. It is all very well having the dream or the intention but no thought goes into how we get from here to there. Firstly you need an industrial policy – totally lacking as all effort is into Brexit – secondly training and re-training – third infrastructure which is particularly important in the UK with an old housing stock of terraced housing (imagine the health & safety implications of a millions of wires snaking across pavements (sidewalks)) – all this is left unaddressed in the hope that the next government might address these areas. Longterm thinking is generally missing in these islands.
    Technology is likely to resolve some of these areas but direction from government is essential to avoid incompatible competing technology ie the current multitude of charging points and apps to book and pay.

    Reply
    • It’s amazing how many of these problems are solveable with just a bit of direct management. Good points all. Hopefully, we’ll see some leadership on this issue in the UK. The fact that they have been brought up in the press is some cause for hope that they might get implemented. And we should have been in this place at least a decade ago. But better to be here now than two decades from now. The opportunity to prevent serious harm is considerable at this time. And though some harms are being locked in now, a larger energy transition is a considerable tool for reducing global carbon emissions and the big first step we need to take toward net zero and net negative.

      Reply
  5. wili

     /  July 27, 2017

    I find the percentages even more inspiring and instructive than the raw total production numbers.

    American Wind Energy: #Windpower fact of the day: 14 states now rely on wind to generate at least 10% of their electricity.
    https://mobile.twitter.com/AWEA/status/889878684190035970

    Reply
    • wili

       /  July 27, 2017

      Electrek says: “Looking at the swath across the Midwest you see Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas and Oklahoma all above 20% of their electricity from wind power…

      and then you’ve got to ask – what’s wrong with Nebraska at 10%? Missouri at 1.4%? Politics baby – big money politics. Nebraska is the only state in the union whose coal use has increased over the last decade.”

      https://electrek.co/2017/07/27/egeb-utilities-making-money-from-green-rough-solar-cells-hail-1-san-antonio-solar-0-more/

      Reply
      • So digging into the weeds, this was why the Clean Power Plan was so important — it would have forced those laggards to start to move. Now we’ve got a growing number of states bailing carbon out of the energy system while a few counter-productively bail it in. The overall industry trend is amazing and considerable. And the economics of renewables would win in the end. But speeding up that process through policy incentive will result in significantly less future harm and that’s why it’s imperative that we should support any policy that moves in that direction while also actively problem solving as we go. It’s a huge challenge. But I think it’s workable if we get enough hands on deck.

        Reply
  6. wili

     /  July 27, 2017

    Two contrasting stories on solar:
    Small-scale EPC replaces 17,920 panels at two-year-old solar farm

    Sometimes freak accidents happen. Like when a hail storm takes down an entire 4.4-MW solar farm in Texas.

    “This was a very rare, unusual event,” said Adam Burke, president of Texas Green Energy. “It was a pretty isolated area, but it happened to be right over Alamo 2 solar farm. It was baseball-sized hail.”

    About one-third of the solar panels at OCI Solar Power’s Alamo 2 dual-axis solar project were visibly damaged by the April 2016 hail storm, with many panels having multiple points of impact. Alamo 2 is one of many sites within OCI’s 400-MW Alamo project for San Antonio’s utility CPS Energy. The damaged two-year-old solar array was still producing some energy, but CPS Energy wanted its asset back at full capacity.

    Texas Green Energy (No. 184 on the 2017 Top Solar Contractors list), usually a small-scale solar installer based in College Station, Texas, won the bid to reinstall all 4.4 MW at Alamo 2. Although every panel didn’t have shattered glass, many were assumed to have microcracks, so it was determined to replace all 17,920 panels.

    “It required some careful planning and orchestration to replace everything all at once with minimal downtime,” Burke said. “We had it all planned out to the day what was going to happen. The plant was divided into four sections called blocks. We shut down two blocks at a time so we could be working on the second one as the first one was coming up so we weren’t just sitting there waiting for things to be reconnected.” …

    https://www.solarpowerworldonline.com/2017/07/small-scale-epc-replaces-17920-panels-two-year-old-solar-farm/

    Reply
    • wili

       /  July 27, 2017

      versus:

      Hail No! National Lab’s Solar Panels Survive Severe Storm

      ” The Denver area was pelted with an unusually severe hailstorm on May 8 – one that left a trail of destruction in its wake, shattering car windows and leaving golf ball-sized dents on the roofs of local homes and vehicles.

      After the storm, staff at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) set out to assess the damage. Its main campus in Golden, Colorado boasts more than 2.5 megawatts of photovoltaic (PV) power. A majority of those panels (more than 3,000) are located on or adjacent to the roof of the lab’s Research Support Facility, a net-zero energy building. The post-storm inspection revealed just one broken panel.

      NREL researchers are funded by SunShot to participate in the International Photovoltaic Quality Assurance Task Force, which develops standardized industry quality tests to assure that solar panels on the market can survive the harsh environmental conditions to which they are directly exposed. This includes not only how panels react to mechanical stress, such as hail or being walked on, but also high and low temperatures, humidity, solar ultraviolet radiation, and even the electrical stress that the panels apply to themselves when operating in high-voltage systems. These quality standards help reinforce consumer and investor confidence in PV.”

      https://energy.gov/eere/articles/hail-no-national-labs-solar-panels-survive-severe-storm

      Reply
      • Greg

         /  July 27, 2017

        Wili,
        Tesla solar tiles hail damage testing:

        Reply
        • wpNSAlito

           /  July 29, 2017

          I never liked that hail damage demo, since it compares performance against brittle terra cotta tiles instead of the much more common asphalt shingles or metal roofing.

    • It’s worth noting that most major infrastructure is vulnerable to various impacts related to extreme weather and climate change. Adding resiliency will be necessary. But in several key metrics — water use, distribution, level of collateral damage to surrounding area, ability to harden — renewables easily beat out traditional power supplies. Of course, this doesn’t mention the fact that renewables also reduce the total extremity of impacts by drawing down carbon emissions.

      Reply
      • wili

         /  July 28, 2017

        Good points. I do wonder, with increased hail storms and increase hail size being pretty well baked in, whether we should be designing solar systems to be more resilient to such threats.

        Reply
  7. Greg

     /  July 27, 2017

    Robert, the upcoming very unusual low to hit the mid-Atlantic starting tomorrow is getting attention and will impact you and others with possibly very serious training and flooding. Of note:
    “Some models predict pockets of 6 to 7 inches of rain. The weather disturbance coming through at high altitudes is unusually strong (for stats geeks: 4 standard deviations below the norm) and will contain a deep pool of chilled air.”
    (If you hit the paywall you can continue by re-opening your browser in secret mode.)
    “https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2017/07/27/at-summers-peak-a-rare-winter-like-storm-is-set-to-drench-washington-friday-into-the-weekend

    Reply
  8. Greg

     /  July 28, 2017

    Sono Sion Unveiled, World’s First Production Solar Car – Up To 18 Miles PV Added Range Per Day. Musk doesn’t think it is practical, so no solar on Tesla but this is still really cool, if just to charge for cooling the interior and a few miles of charge but still noteworthy

    http://insideevs.com/sono-sion-unveiled-worlds-first-production-solar-car/

    Reply
    • So 18 miles added with PV is rather significant. In my driving situation, that would result in me only needing to charge the car for long trips. I like that they added solar to the whole body, not just the roof. Even if you got 10 miles, I think this would be a 30 percent range extender and reduced charging need for most drivers.

      Reply
  9. Robert McLachlan

     /  July 28, 2017

    The more wind farms the better, bring it on! But elsewhere I read that the cost is $2.9b for the wind farm and $1.6b for the transmission line. If the line is needed just for the wind farm, then the total cost is $2.25 per installed watt. At 30% efficiency, each watt generates 2.63kWh/yr, so the capital cost is $0.86/kWh/yr. If the cost of financing is 6%, that means the cost of electricity is 5.2c/kWh, not counting any maintenance or finite life of the turbines. Seems a bit expensive for wind these days? Also, other sites are reporting that subsidies for wind power have ceased in Oklahoma and wind is now the only unsubsidised form of energy in OK (although I’m not sure exactly what is meant by that).

    Reply
    • The adding of long distance, high load, transmission is pretty critical to being able to move wind energy from highest production regions to highest demand regions. It also enables energy trading. Considering the size of the turbines (blade span and height) and the availability of the resource in the region, it’s likely the cost of generation, even adding in the lines and the financing, is rather lower.

      Reply
    • wili

       /  July 28, 2017

      If we want to do this kind of ‘full accounting,’ we really need to price in the enormous cost of the FF industry not paying for its inevitable effluent and the massive destruction that entails. And for nukes, the enormous costs of evacuating thousands of people from the inevitable disasters, inevitable clean up costs, costs of the dozens of plants that have been started and then abandoned in the last few years…

      Yes, by all means, do a full accounting. But doing so just for wind but not for its alternatives is…well, myopic at best.

      Reply
    • A few weaknesses in this analysis:

      – 5.62 cents/kWh is actually not very expensive. Here in Vermont, I pay 15 cents/kWh retail. Not sure what the average cost of generation nationwide is, but I think it’s around 5 cents/kWh.

      – Today’s turbines are getting higher capacity factors than 30%. Again, I’m not sure what the average is, but I’d guess it is somewhere in the 40s for new installations. This is being done by modestly increasing rotor size.

      – “If the transmission is just for the wind farm … ” But in general, that’s not how we do things. The transmission system is available to anyone who has a power plant, once they go through the requisite hoops and hurdles (so others can use it, and it strengthens the entire system). In some places, wind projects HAVE been stalled by the idea that if you’re going to build one, you should pay for the new transmission needed, even if several other developers can then build projects and use the transmission. Texas got around this by designating “zones” with renewable energy resources and building transmission to them. Some $25 billion or so of new wind development has resulted. The sensible way to handle transmission costs is, gasp, to “socialize” them–spread them over all of the customers who benefit by using electricity. A billion dollar transmission line thus becomes part of the 1-2 cents/kWh per month most households pay for “system costs” on their power bills. In general also, such transmission projects pay for themselves in a few years through reduced electricity costs–that’s what is happening in Texas, as more cheap, no-fuel wind power from the state’s north and west flows to the population centers in the southeast.

      Reply
  10. Spike

     /  July 28, 2017

    Interesting stuff on Pliocene sea levels and Antarctica

    Reply
  11. wili

     /  July 28, 2017

    Relevant to previous thread: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/07/28/romans-are-about-to-go-eight-hours-a-day-without-water/?hpid=hp_hp-more-top-stories_rome-745am%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.652345525c38
    “Romans are about to go eight hours a day without water”

    “Two thousand years ago, Rome could pride itself on having the world’s most advanced aqueducts, exporting the technology throughout Europe and the Middle East. Today, the city is literally running out of water — thanks in part to its crumbling infrastructure.

    One-third of the city’s residents are set to have their water supply cut off for eight hours every day, possibly beginning as early as Friday; different neighborhoods will take turns in sharing the burden. It’s an unprecedented move for a major Italian city, said Giampaolo Attanasio, a public infrastructure expert at the advisory firm Ernst & Young. But it may soon be routine.

    “Rome could be just the beginning. If the situation doesn’t improve, other large cities will have to ration water as well,” Attanasio said in a telephone interview. “Small towns already have.”

    The main culprit, experts say, is climate change. In 2017, Italy experienced its second-hottest spring in the past 200 years, according to a report by Italy’s Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate. Spring rainfall decreased by 50 percent compared with the seasonal average, the same report said, and nearby Lake Bracciano, from which the city gets part of its water supply, is drying up at an alarming rate: The water level has fallen by 1 centimeter every single day.” (Sorry about the paywall)

    Reply
    • Thanks for the update.

      I’m pretty concerned myself that we’re already seeing water rationing impacts for places like Rome. It really shows that no place is really safe from the impacts of these new hydrological events. Although some of the model studies did warn us that the Sahara basically moves north into Southern Europe under under human forced warming. We are seeing a precursor to that trend now.

      Reply
  12. wharf rat

     /  July 28, 2017

    Here’s why Kansas City turned into a ‘rainforest’ with all that flash flooding

    As the storms developed, there was a tremendous amount of moisture to work with. It was almost like they came through and wrung the moisture out of the atmosphere.”

    That made the the storms very efficient in producing rain — at one point rain was falling in some areas at the rate of 5 inches per hour.

    http://www.kansascity.com/weather/article164001997.html
    =
    Posted 36 minutes ago
    The National Weather Service in Sterling Virginia has issued a

    * Flash Flood Warning for…
    The northern District of Columbia…
    Northern Prince Georges County in central Maryland…
    https://www.google.org/publicalerts/alert?aid=975b84dd445162f&hl=en&gl=US&source=web

    Reply
  13. Another encouraging development in the EV realm–charging technology is, um, charging ahead, to the point where it won’t be long before EV charging times are comparable to gas station stops.

    http://blog.caranddriver.com/1800-miles-per-hour-ultrafast-charging-tech-moving-far-faster-than-anticipated/

    Reply
  14. This is one of the few times where I can say, “way to go Oklahoma!” Now can they stop fracking…

    Reply
  1. Oklahoma to Build World’s Second Largest Wind Farm. France & UK Pledge to Ban Fossil Fuel Vehicles – Green Energy Post

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