SACRAMENTO, Calif. —
Gov. Jerry Brown declared an end to California’s historic drought Friday, lifting emergency orders that had forced residents to stop running sprinklers as often and encouraged them to rip out thirsty lawns during the state’s driest four-year period on record.
The drought strained native fish that migrate up rivers and forced farmers in the nation’s leading agricultural state to rely heavily on groundwater, with some tearing out orchards. It also dried up wells, forcing hundreds of families in rural areas to drink bottled water and bathe from buckets.
Brown declared the drought emergency in 2014, and officials later ordered mandatory conservation for the first time in state history. Regulators last year relaxed the rules after a rainfall was close to normal.
But monster storms this winter erased nearly all signs of drought, blanketing the Sierra Nevada with deep snow, California’s key water source, and boosting reservoirs.
“This drought emergency is over, but the next drought could be around the corner,” Brown said in a statement. “Conservation must remain a way of life.” (2)
Mega projects grab headlines and provide many photo opportunities for politicians. Since the construction of the depression era Hoover Dam, these massive construction projects have historically provided for jobs and opportunity when the economy is slow. However, some questions remain, such as; are these projects in everyone’s best interests, what are we losing, and is there a better way to accomplish our goals?
“‘Water grabbing’ refers to a situation in which public or private entities are able to take control of, or reallocate, precious water resources for profit or for power — and at the expense of local communities and the ecosystems on which their livelihoods are based.
The effects have been well-documented: examples include families driven away from their villages to make room for mega dams, privatization of water sources that fails to improve access for the public, and industrial activity that damages water quality.”
“…hydropower comprises about 70 per cent of the world’s renewable energy mix, and guarantees a lower amount of total emissions than fossil fuel plants, its overall impacts are not always positive. This is especially the case when dams are not planned with an emphasis on the impacts on people and the environment.
In North America, many dams built in the 1980s are now being demolished because of their impacts on fish species such as salmon. In some cases they are replaced with more modern dams that do not require building large-scale reservoirs.” (1)
A Short Political History of the Site C Dam
Figure 1. Construction on the Site C dam on the Peace River in the fall of 2016. Photo: Garth Lenz. (2)
“On May 10, 1990, the Vancouver Sun reported remarks made by then Energy Minister Jack Davis at an Electric Energy Forum: “Power projects initiated by B.C. Hydro will be increasingly guided by environmental concerns because of mounting public pressure.” Noting the province’s abundance of power sources, he said: “We have the scope to be different.”
However, during a 1991 Social Credit party leadership campaign the winner, Rita Johnston declared in her policy statement that she wanted to accelerate construction of the “$3 billion” dam. Johnston’s leadership was brief because the Socreds were defeated in October 1991.
In 1993, the dam was declared dead by then BC Hydro CEO Marc Eliesen. “Site C is dead for two reasons,” Eliesen said. “The fiscal exposure is too great … the dam is too costly. Also it is environmentally unacceptable.”
Despite these twists and turns, B.C. Hydro’s staff worked diligently to keep the dam alive.
Fast forward to April 19, 2010, when then B.C. Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell made his announcement that Site C was on again, now branded as a “clean energy project” and an important part of “B.C.’s economic and ecological future.”
Campbell claimed the dam would power 460,000 new homes and repeated the mantra of an increasing power demand of 20 to 40 per cent in the following 20 years.
In the ensuing seven years since the 2010 announcement, power demand has stayed virtually the same, despite BC Hydro’s forecast for it to climb nearly 20 per cent during that time. The reality is B.C.’s electricity demand has been essentially flat since 2005, despite ongoing population growth.
Campbell resigned in 2011 amidst uproar over the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), opening the field for a leadership race, which Christy Clark won. That brings us to the May 2013 election, during which Clark pushed liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports as the solution to B.C.’s economic woes. With the LNG dream came a potential new demand for grid electricity, making Site C even more of a hot topic.
Four years on from Clark’s pronouncement there are no LNG plants up and running, despite her promise of thousands of jobs. Without a market for Site C’s power, Clark has started ruminating about sending it to Alberta, despite a lack of transmission or a clear market.
Oxford University Professor Bent Flyvbjerg has studied politicians’ fascination with mega projects, describing the rapture they feel building monuments to themselves: “Mega projects garner attention, which adds to the visibility they gain from them.”
This goes some way to explaining the four-decade obsession with building the Site C dam, despite the lack of clear demand for the electricity. (2)
- Water and power: Mega-dams, mega-damage?
Four Decades and Counting: A Brief History of the Site C Dam https://www.desmog.ca/2017/03/23/four-decades-and-counting-brief-history-site-c-dam
One of the downsides to large-scale solar power is finding space suitable for the installation of a large area of PV panels or mirrors for CSP. These are long-term installations, and will have impact on the land and it’s uses. There are potential objections to committing areas of undeveloped or pristine land to solar power.
Solar Energy on Reservoirs:
Floating arrays have been installed on surfaces such as water reservoirs as these “land areas” are already committed to a long-term purpose. Solar power is considered a good synchronistic fit, and most recently work was completed in England seeing “23,000 solar panels on the Queen Elizabeth II reservoir at Walton-on-Thames”. (1)
Water utilities are the first to see the benefit of solar panel installations as the power generated is generally consumed by the utilities operations for water treatment and pumping. This of course offsets demand requirements from the electrical utility and reduces operating costs with a ROI from the installation. Possible government or other industry incentives and subsidies may enhance benefits. Last year a 12,000 panel system was installed on a reservoir near Manchester (UK) and was the second of it’s kind in Britain, dwarfing the original installation of 800 panels. (2) (3)
Image #1: World’s largest floating array of PV Solar Panels in Japan (4)
Currently Japan has the most aggressive expansion plans for reservoir installations, with the most recent being the world’s largest of it’s kind. Recent changes in energy policies and the ongoing problems associated with Nuclear Power has propelled Japan into aggressively seeking alternative forms of energy.
“The 13.7-megawatt power station, being built for Chiba Prefecture’s Public Enterprise Agency, is located on the Yamakura Dam reservoir, 75 kilometers east of the capital. It will consist of some 51,000 Kyocera solar modules covering an area of 180,000 square meters, and will generate an estimated 16,170 megawatt-hours annually. That is “enough electricity to power approximately 4,970 typical households,” says Kyocera. That capacity is sufficient to offset 8,170 tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year, the amount put into the atmosphere by consuming 19,000 barrels of oil.”
“[…]“Due to the rapid implementation of solar power in Japan, securing tracts of land suitable for utility-scale solar power plants is becoming difficult,” Toshihide Koyano, executive officer and general manager of Kyocera’s solar energy group told IEEE Spectrum. “On the other hand, because there are many reservoirs for agricultural use and flood-control, we believe there’s great potential for floating solar-power generation business.”
He added that Kyocera is currently working on developing at least 10 more projects and is also considering installing floating installations overseas.” (4)
Solar Energy on Brownfields:
A Brownfield is defined generally by the EPA (5)
A brownfield is a property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. It is estimated that there are more than 450,000 brownfields in the U.S. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties increases local tax bases, facilitates job growth, utilizes existing infrastructure, takes development pressures off of undeveloped, open land, and both improves and protects the environment.
Image #2: 6-MW solar PV array on the site of the former Palmer Metropolitan Airfield (6)
Traditionally most solar projects have been built on “Greenfields”, however, on further analysis it makes far more sense to install solar on “Brownfields”.
The U.S. is home to more than 450,000 brownfields – unused property that poses potential environmental hazards. Eyesores as well as potential health and safety threats, brownfield sites reduce urban property values. Rehabilitating them pays off, and in more ways than one, according to a July, 2014 National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) working paper entitled, ¨The Value of Brownfield Remediation.¨ […]
NBER researchers determined that remediation increased the value of individual brownfield sites $3,917,192, with a median value of $2,117,982. That compares to an estimated per-site cost of $602,000. In percentage terms across the study’s nationally representative sample, EPA-supported clean-ups resulted in property price increases of between 4.9% and 32.2%. (6)
In another example where a Brownfield remediation effort has payed off utilizing a Solar Power upgrade is at the Philadelphia Navy Yard according to a June 2011 report by Dave Levitan (7) where it says:
“The Navy Yard solar array is just one of a growing number of projects across the U.S. that fall into the small category of energy ideas that appear to have little to no downside: turning brownfields — or sites contaminated
Every solar project that rises from an industrial wasteland is one that won’t be built on pristine land.
or disturbed by previous industrial activity — into green energy facilities. Among the successfully completed brown-to-green projects are a wind farm at the former Bethlehem Steel Mill in Lackawanna, New York; a concentrating solar photovoltaic array on the tailings pile of a former molybdenum mine in Questa, New Mexico; solar panels powering the cleanup systems at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Superfund site in northern California; and the U.S. Army’s largest solar array atop a former landfill in Fort Carson, Colorado.”
Solar Energy on Landfills:
Building solar power projects on top of closed off landfills appears to be a good idea, however, there are additional considerations and requirements which must be met which would exceed those of a normal type of undisturbed geology.
“Construction and ongoing operation of the plant must never break, erode or otherwise impair the functioning integrity of the landfill final closure system (including any methane gas management system) already in place.” (8) […]
Image #3: Prescriptive Landfill Capping System
In general, the features of a conventional “Subtitle D” final protection barrier cover system on USA waste sites are shown in the illustration above and include the following layers added on top of a waste pile:
- First, a foundation Layer – usually soil—covers the trash to fill and grade the area and protect the liner.
- Then typically a geomembrane liner or a compacted clay layer .is spread over the site to entomb the waste mass in a water impermeable enclosure.
- A drainage layer (i.e. highly transmissive sands or gravels or a manufactured “Geonet”) is next added– especially in areas with heavy rainfall and steeper slopes. This is to prevent the sodden top layers of dirt from slipping off the impermeable barrier (a.k.a. a landslide).
- Next, typically 18 inches of soil is added as a “protection layer.”
- Finally, an “erosion layer” of soil – typically 6 inches of dirt of sufficient quality to support plant growth (grasses, etc., etc.) which the waste industry calls a “vegetative layer.”
Image #4: Established Solar Energy Projects on Closed Landfills (9)
As of 2013 we can see that there already have been a number of solar installations and that this number is still growing through to the present as more municipalities seek ways to convert their closed landfills into a renewable resource and asset.
Summary of Solar Energy Project Types by Site
A greenfield site is defined as an area of agricultural or forest land, or some other undeveloped site earmarked for commercial development or industrial projects. This is compared to a brownfield site which is generally unsuitable for commercial development or industrial projects due to the presence of some hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant.
While a water reservoir is not a contaminated site, it is generally rendered useless for most purposes, however provides an ideal site for locating solar panels as they provide relatively large areas of unobstructed sun. Also reservoirs provide water cooling which enhances energy efficiency and PV performance. Uncovered reservoirs can be partially covered by floating arrays of PV panels, of modest to large sizes in the 16 MW range. Installations can be found throughout the world, including England and most recently Japan where interest in alternative energy sources is growing rapidly.
A brownfield site is considered ideal for the location of a solar plant as a cost-effective method of an otherwise useless body of land, such as a decommissioned mine, quarry, or contaminated site. A landfill is one form of brownfield site which could be suitable for the installation of solar power where provision has been made to protect the cap on the landfill. Municipalities have been showing growing interest in landfill solar as a means to offset operational costs.
PV – Photo Voltaic
CSP – Concentrated Solar Power
ROI – Return On Investment
UK – United Kingdom
NBER – National Bureau of Economic Research
EPA – Environmental Protection Agency
Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.youtube.com
image credit: (2)
“[…] “Fracking”, or Hydraulic Fracturing, is a new technology that has opened up immense resources of natural gas buried in deep shale beds. The process involves injection of highly-pressurized water, sand and chemicals to shatter underground layers of shale and extract previously inaccessible natural gas.
But the process and its sudden spread across the North American landscape, has become an incredibly divisive issue, ripping apart communities and even families. The backlash to the gas industry is unprecedented, with some countries, Canadian provinces and American states adopting fracking bans and moratoriums. […] “(1)
“[…] In Dimock, Pennsylvania, residents found their water contaminated after fracking began nearby. As it turns out, the cement casings that were meant to prevent the water from escaping had failed, and now all of their water was contaminated. One man described his daughter’s experience showering in that water:
“My daughter would get in the shower in the morning, and she would have to get out and lay on the floor because she thought she was going to pass out from the methane. She had eczema on the insides of her arms, hives up and down her body, and she said, ‘I want to have kids some day’. You know, my job is to protect my kids, how do I protect them from this?” […] “(2)
The global desalination capacity will double by 2020, according to a new analysis by Frost & Sullivan.
Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.processingmagazine.com
“[…] rapid industrialization and urbanization have increased water scarcity in many parts of the world. As drought conditions intensify, desalination is expected to evolve into a long-term solution rather than a temporary fix.
Technology providers can capitalize on this immense potential by developing cost-effective and sustainable solutions, the consulting firm said.
The report states that the global desalination market earned revenues of $11.66 billion in 2015, and this figure is estimated to reach $19.08 billion in 2019. More than 17,000 desalination plants are currently in operation in 150 countries worldwide, a capacity that is predicted to double by the end of the decade.
“Environmentally conscious countries in Europe and the Americas are hesitant to practice desalination owing to its harsh effects on sea water,” noted Vandhana Ravi, independent consultant for Frost & Sullivan’s Environment and Building Technologies unit. “Eco-friendly desalination systems that do not use chemicals will be well-received among municipalities in these regions.”
The report highlights several factors that are holding back adoption in some parts of the world, including lack of regulatory support and the high cost of desalination. The thermal desalination process also releases significant volumes of highly salty liquid brine back into water bodies, impacting the environment. Brine disposal will remain a key challenge until a technology upgrade resolves the issue. […]”
Over the last 60 years urban areas of Southern California have lost significant amounts of fog due to the heat created by paved roads and buildings.
>” A new study reports that coastal fog in Southern California is on the decline, especially in heavily urbanized areas.
In particular, Los Angeles saw a 63 percent decrease over the last 60 years.
You can blame the heat island effect created by city streets and buildings, said the study’s author Park Williams of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York.
Fog may be a nuisance for drivers, but according to Williams, it also plays a crucial role in hydrating many costal ecosystems.
These include mountains with coastal forests and hillsides covered in chaparral, which easily burns when conditions are too dry.
“They all receive water directly from fog and benefit from the shading of these clouds,” Williams said.
In fact, he noted that in some parts of Southern California, fog may provide plants with almost as much water as rain does. Williams says this loss of coastal fog could impact the regional environment.
Fog typically forms when the air is cool enough for clouds to condense close to ground level. This often happens at night and in the early morning.
However, Williams said this process is being upset by all the concrete in urban areas, which absorbs heat in the day and slowly releases it over night, raising temperatures.
“When you increase the temperature of the surface of the Earth, then you essentially need to go higher up into the atmosphere before [it] is cool enough to promote condensation,” Williams explained.
The end result is that as cities heat up, clouds rise and fog disappears.
Data for the study came from the detailed logs of the 24 coastal airports between Santa Barbara and San Diego.
“Of course airports have been collecting really good data on clouds because the presence of clouds and their hight in the atmosphere really affects air travel,” he said.
Many of these logs had hourly updates on cloud height, some dating back to the 1940s.
Using this information, Williams and his colleagues determined that the greatest loss of fog occurred in Ontario where there was a nearly 90% decrease over the last 60 years.
Other airports such as LAX, Burbank’s Bob Hope, Long Beach Airport and John Wayne Airport in Orange County also saw a considerable decrease in the average amount of fog.
However, less urban areas like Santa Barbara and the undeveloped the Channel Islands remained quite misty.
Williams says this trend is concerning because man-made climate change is expected to heat things up even more in the future.
Coastal fog can help cool an area down but as cities continue to bake, they will gather and emit even more heat, driving away even more fog.
“That can then feedback until the cloud layer is eaten away entirely in the daytime,” he said.
Soon, Williams hopes to explore how much water fog provides Southern California in general to see whether the continued loss of these low clouds could dry out the region even more.
His current paper appears in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.”<
Covanta’s Delaware Valley energy-from-waste facility in Chester, Pennsylvania, has saved 1.3 million gallons a day from local water supplies by installing Ge…
>” […] The Chester facility generates up to 90 megawatts of clean energy from 3,510 tons per day of municipal solid waste. Previously, the plant used 1.3 MGD — or nearly 5 million liters a day — of municipal drinking water in its waste conversion process, costing the company thousands of dollars in daily water purchases.
To reduce facility operating expenses and the consumption of local water resources, Covanta Delaware Valley upgraded the facility by installing GE’s RePAK combination ultrafiltration (UF) and reverse osmosis (RO) system as a tertiary treatment package. The new system enabled the plant to reuse 1.3 MGD of treated discharge water from a nearby municipal wastewater treatment plant for the facility’s cooling tower.
GE installed two RePAK-450 trains, each producing 450 gallons per minute of purified water. As a result, Covanta Delaware Valley has eliminated the need to purchase 1.3 MGD of local drinking water a day, which results in a substantial financial savings in addition to the environmental benefits.
GE’s RePAK equipment was delivered in 2014, with commissioning taking place the same year, making Covanta Delaware Valley the first North American company to deploy GE’s RePAK technology.
Covanta chose a combined water treatment technology approach because the typical organic and dissolved mineral content of the wastewater requires additional treatment to be suitable for use as cooling tower makeup. RO was selected as the technology of choice, and UF was required as the pretreatment solution.
GE’s RePAK combined treatment system reduces the equipment footprint up to 35 percent as compared to separate UF and RO systems. By combining the UF and RO into a common frame with common controls and GE’s single (patent-pending) multi-functional process tank, GE also is able to reduce the capital costs and field installation expenses when compared to the use of separate UF system and RO systems with multiple process and cleaning tanks, the company says.”<
Desalination would seem to answer every prayer to fix California’s water shortages. But turning the sea into drinking water is not so easy. The state’s first major desalination plant, under construction in Carlsbad, is a major test for the industry and wary environmental groups.
The United States’ top nuclear regulator said Friday that atomic energy users, including Japan, must figure out how to ultimately store radioactive waste.
>Japan has no final waste repository, not even a potential site. The U.S. government’s plan for building a repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada has been halted by strong local opposition due to safety concerns.
“In the nuclear community, we of course have to face the reality of the end product — spent fuel,” Macfarlane told reporters.
She urged countries that are contemplating or embarking on a nuclear power program to formulate back-end plans at an early stage.
The new policy under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pro-nuclear government is pushing to restart as many reactors as possible if deemed safe under the new, stricter safety standards that took effect this past summer. The new policy, whose draft was discussed Friday by a government panel, is also expected to stick to Japan’s shaky fuel cycle program despite international concerns about the country’s massive plutonium stockpile.
Japan is stuck with 44 tons of plutonium at home and overseas after unsuccessfully pushing to establish a fuel cycle, with its fast breeder reactor and a reprocessing plant never fully operated. Experts say Japan’s plutonium stockpile poses a nuclear security threat and raises questions over whether Japan plans to develop a nuclear weapon, which Tokyo denies.
Japan also has more than 14,000 tons of spent fuel in cooling pools at its 50 reactors, all of which are offline. Some pools are expected to be full in several years, and are expected to be moved to a dry cask facility just completed in northern Japan.<
See on www.ctvnews.ca
PORTLAND, OR–(Marketwired – Oct 29, 2013) – The Green Building Initiative (GBI) applauds the General Services Administration on its recognition of Green Globes® alongside the U.S.
>GBI’s growth in the market is due to its commitment to the practicality of its tools for use by building owners, designers, and facility managers as well as its commitment to open, consensus-based review of its technical criteria. In 2010, GBI was recognized for developing Green Globes for New Construction as the first ever American National Standard for a commercial building rating system. As it continues to improve its rating systems based on changes in the market, GBI remains committed to using the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approved consensus procedures.
“GBI is the only commercial building rating system developer to vet its technical criteria through the ANSI process,” stated GBI Chairman Tonjes. “This helps to ensure that GBI’s rating systems provide the opportunity to evaluate the widest range of buildings using an open, science-based approach to building performance.”
ANSI/GBI 01-2010, also known as Green Globes for New Construction, is due for revision before the end of 2015 based on ANSI periodic maintenance requirements. According to Tonjes, GBI’s ANSI-based rating system review process will begin before the end of this year with the filing of required documents followed by reformation of the technical review committee.
GBI’s tools have a significant focus on both the reduction and efficient use of energy and water in buildings. These, along with other criteria, help reduce building operating costs and their overall impact on the environment.
“Since 2005, the Green Globes product line has evolved to include several updated and expanded tools,” stated Erin Shaffer, vice president of federal outreach at GBI.<
See on www.marketwired.com