Thursday, September 16, 2010

Natural Gas Burns the Wind

Call this a new take on Tilting at Windmills.  Worth reading: Wind Energy’s Real Problems: (Hint: It Has Nothing to Do With The Wall Street Journal). One quote:
The other key problem facing wind energy: low natural gas prices. Wind energy competes primarily with natural gas-fired generation. And when gas prices are low, wind energy is at a big disadvantage in the marketplace,
and by the way, natural gas prices are (really) low. There is even a story on how it is impacting nuclear. Makes you wonder what will happen when Saudi starts to focus on develping natural gas, instead of just just flaring it off or virtually giving it away for free. But what is going to be a big economic story is the growing displacement of coal being caused by natural gas. What is that definition of a "disruptive technology"?

See recently the WSJ: Turning Away from Coal,  or BusinessWeek: Natural Gas Erodes Coal’s Share at Power Plants: Energy Markets

But what it means for a lot of towns in the middle of the coal patch.. NYT:  A Europe Kicks Coal, Hungarian Town Feels Pain.

Big huge economic story for the (greater) Pittsburgh region which is the still coal country. Which leads to an interesting topic. In a comprehensive economic impact analysis of Marcellus Shale (and other new shale developments for that matter) do you need to net out the negative economic impacts on the coal industry, and I suppose wind as well?  If that question matters anywhere it is probably here and WV.

14 Comments:

Anonymous The Terrible Tunnel said...

(Apologies to Myron.)

Save the Arena, tear down the Casino!

Or wait, maybe the Allegheny River tunnel will save the Casino, what with all those Mt. Lebanon seniors soon to have a straight shot to the slots.

Friday, September 17, 2010 8:55:00 AM  
Anonymous The Wiz said...

Lets hope that NatGas takes down solar power also. None of these "green" technologies is as green as presented and they are not close to being cost-efficient except for small specialized uses. See the editorial in last Sunday's PG by M Granger Morgan.

As for the extraction tax, its no surprise that politicians and special interest groups all have their hands out for a piece of the pie. I have talked to several state reps about trying to get some the tax revenue for funding for municipalities to convert buses, garbage trucks, and other fleet vehicles to NatGas. By using a locally produced resource, this would help create jobs in Pa, keep money flowing in Pa, reduce foreign imports, and clean the air here as gas is much cleaner than diesel.

And I would like to see the gas provided by private companies instead of municipality run facilities. This would provide gas fueling stations for private trucking companies and other fleets to convert to gas.

All have told me they like that idea . . . but they tell everyone that. I'll withhold judgment until after the bills are passed.

Friday, September 17, 2010 2:56:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

Granger will be happy to hear his opeds are being read up north. Your use of 'also' in that comment may not be fair. You may want to look up his work on clean coal and related technologies.

Sure hate those municipal natural gas pumps? Curious. I can't find too many folks advocating for municipal run natural gas pumps??

Friday, September 17, 2010 6:18:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

Years ago, I worked for a guy who had a truck that ran on propane. I don't know if that is similar or not.

Friday, September 17, 2010 8:18:00 PM  
Anonymous The Wiz said...

@C.Briem "also" is my thinking.

Many transit authorities and some cities around the country use NatGas and usually they have an in-house fueling system run by the municipality. Someone told me Philly uses NatGas but I am not sure. I know DC does. So does Yosemite Park, to cut down on pollution in the park.

Having an in-house system would restrict private vehicles from fueling up there. I just think having a system open to all vehicles would encourage private companies into making the switch. Ever see T Boone Picken's plan to switch all heavy trucks to gas? He says that alone would cut foreign oil imports by nearly a third and be much cleaner.

MH; I once bought a used van from the New Castle News that had been converted to propane in the late '70s. It even had a switch on the dash so that the van could use either propane or gasoline, which ever was cheaper. Many companies switched to propane then but that drove up the price so much that after a few years most gave up on the idea. Hopefully with the huge Marcellus and other shale gasses here and around the country the prices would remain stable this time.

Friday, September 17, 2010 10:49:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

but that does not explain the gratuitous opposition to municipal natural gas pumps that nobody is proposing expanding? I just don't get why you keep bringing it up. Am I missing some big debate somewhere? It's curious anyway. If the private market wanted to build natural gas pumps there is nothing really stopping it. Used to be some public natural gas pumps in the city of Pittbsurgh I do believe, but they shut down given the obvious lack of demand.

in addition to propane, or much larger than propane, are LPG (Liquified Petroleum Gas) vehicles and I've seen the extensive LPG infrastructure in place in some countries where LPG terminals are common at fuel stations. Private fuel stations by the way.

Saturday, September 18, 2010 10:51:00 PM  
Anonymous The Wiz said...

My "gratuitous opposition to municipal natural gas pumps is because of my minimal-government, pro business inclination. The history of the '70s shows that most cities used an in-house system for fueling their vehicles and I fear the same thing if we move to NatGas again. Having an in-house system inhibits private fleets from converting over also. And any time a governmental institution runs anything that entity becomes a reward system for political backers and cronies.

Right now its the chicken vs egg routine for private industry. No one wants to convert their vehicles because there are no fueling stations. No will build fueling stations because no vehicles have been converted. Who goes first? If government fleets convert and use public fueling stations, that could be the seed to a more widespread acceptance/use of NatGas.

Sorry if I have posted too often. I started reading blogs during the start of the Iraq war and frequented blogs that often had over 100 or 200 comments per post with lots of back and forth debating various issues. There is no debate that I am aware of on this issue but its something I would like to see and am trying to start a debate. I have emailed multiple state legislatures and am trying other avenues to get the idea out, including blogs and radio talk shows.

Perhaps it is time to start my own blog as you suggested.

Sunday, September 19, 2010 9:32:00 AM  
Anonymous n'at said...

@Briem you're right about the NatGas station on the Southside. Around the turn of the millenium (giggles), the city had a motor pool of Cavaliers which ran on natural gas.

Planning for future energy use/trends must marry the source with the end user location and their demands.

In our region, we can export the resources to produce energy AND export energy in it's useful form of electricity.

If environmental factors are quantified and included within the cost of production, delivery and consumption of energy, then there may be a valid argument for wind in Altoona and solar cells on every house in Pittsburgh.

However, the option of weatherization and efficiency upgrades gets lost in energy debates. This is most unfortunate because the quickest and cheapest path to reducing all the negatives of energy is reducing wasted or unnecessary consumption by the end user.

Same premise for commuting: the quickest and cheapest solution to reducing congestion, greenhouse gas emissions, oil and gas consumption is eliminating wasted or unnecessary motor vehicle trips. - but, I'll leave that for another day...

Sunday, September 19, 2010 10:34:00 AM  
Anonymous johnnyg said...

I know that you guys are all into new media n'@, but do any of you bother to read old media anymore? Like the one with reporters who actually do research and fact-check their stories? I love you guys, but, at he same time you're all "discussing" this with no facts, the Trib is reporting that the public Equitable CNG station for the Strip (projected opening March 2011) and the Giant Eagle CNG station for Crafton are still on track: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/s_699436.html. And Honda, because there are public stations coming (or, in the case of the Philly region, operational), plans to start selling its Honda Civic GX (which runs on CNG) in Pennsylvania by year's end.

Sunday, September 19, 2010 12:06:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

I know that you guys are all into new media n'@, but do any of you bother to read old media anymore?

Not since Calvin and Hobbes stopped.

Sunday, September 19, 2010 2:08:00 PM  
Anonymous johnnyg said...

You gotta expand your horizons, MH. No "Get Fuzzy" or "Born Loser"? The comics are the best part of the daily paper, and I think well-worth the 50 cents at day for any local rag.

Sunday, September 19, 2010 5:35:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

@n'at: didn't the city once run natural gas Chevettes?

Sunday, September 19, 2010 10:14:00 PM  
Anonymous n'at said...

Chevettes? Hmm... a Post-Gazette article from July 3, 1989 written by Sharon Voas reports the use of natural-gas cars and trucks by city officials and parks workers. Cites a Chevrolet Blazer and a Mercury Sable.

Other municipalities were getting into natural gas at the time. Equitable was working to build out their infrastructure for distribution to government fleet vehicles, and then to private operators.

Monday, September 20, 2010 7:39:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

I was joking mostly... the city did have this big Chevette fleet once, but the thought of a CNG Chevette sounds about as safe as a gasoline powered Pinto.

Monday, September 20, 2010 10:31:00 PM  

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