Author: Jude Hislop

Battery storage now vital to American power grid

Batteries can help balance electricity supply and demand on multiple time scales Driven largely by installations over the past three years, the electric power industry has installed about 700 megawatts (MW) of utility-scale batteries on the U.S. electric grid, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. As of Oct.  2017, these batteries made up about 0.06 per cent of U.S. utility-scale generating capacity. Another 22 MW of batteries are planned for the last two months of 2017, with 69 MW more planned for 2018. New energy storage information available in the 2016 edition of EIA’s Annual Electric Generator Report provides more detail on battery capacity, charge and discharge rates, storage technology types, reactive power ratings, storage enclosure types, and expected usage applications. Batteries, like other energy storage technologies, can serve as both energy suppliers and consumers at different times, creating an unusual combination of cost and revenue streams and making direct comparisons to other generation technologies challenging. The decision to build a new power plant depends in part on its initial construction costs and ongoing operating costs. Although battery projects have a relatively low average construction cost, they are not stand-alone generation sources and must buy electricity supplied by other generators to charge and cover the round-trip efficiency losses experienced during cycles of charging and discharging. Battery costs also depend on technical characteristics such as generating capability, which for energy storage systems can be described in two ways: Power capacity...

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Fact checking Lorne Gunter…it’s the dumpster fire you always imagined

Edmonton Sun columnist Lorne Gunter ignores basic journalism – interviewing sources, respect for facts – in recent column By Markham Hislop Canadians understand the quality of modern journalism has declined because media businesses, particularly newspapers, suffer from a broken revenue model. If you can’t afford experienced journalists, you get kids out of J-school willing to work for peanuts. – and not even enough of those. But wouldn’t it make sense, then, to use what limited resources are left to produce the best possible reporting and op-ed writing ? Apparently not, because Edmonton Sun columnist Lorne Gunter still has a job. Readers may be surprised to learn that Gunter’s alt-right bias isn’t what bothers me. Alberta is full of wacky fringe conservatives and Gunter is free to write for that audience. Just like his buddy Ezra Levant is free to organize anti-Muslim rallies and post anti-semite videos on the Rebel Media website. The issue of increasingly biased and incompetent journalism from Postmedia came to mind recently when someone  posted a Gunter column on my Twitter feed. Gunter has written some laughable stuff over his not so illustrious career, but “More pain comin’” – about how the Notley NDP government is single-handedly responsible for the recent tough times of the Alberta economy – is over-the-top execrable – the polite writer’s term for “wow, that was shitty.” What’s bothers me is Gunter’s poor regard for the trade we...

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How the Trudeau government tore up the rulebook on pipelines

 Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government is scrapping years’ worth of Harper-era strategy on getting pipeline deals done. Will it work? Published in Canadian Business by Markham Hislop When Justin Trudeau’s Liberals won an unexpected majority government last October, Canadian First Nations and environmentalists cheered, while oil and gas executives groaned. The new prime minister banned oil tankers off the northern coast of British Columbia just nine days after assuming office. But what a difference seven months make. Trudeau has emerged as a pipeline champion, with a good shot at seeing construction on two projects, Energy East and Trans Mountain, start during his first term in power—something his Conservative predecessor, Stephen Harper, didn’t achieve in nine years. Trudeau’s about-face is rooted in the Liberal vision of a global economy at the beginning of a decades-long transition from fossil fuels to clean energy technology, says Jim Carr, minister of natural resources. From this perspective, oil—and the pipelines that carry it to market—will be needed for a long time. The Winnipeg MP points to the prime minister’s March speech at a Vancouver clean tech conference as the turning point. “[W]e must continue to generate wealth from our abundant natural resources to fund this transition to a low-carbon economy,” Trudeau told the audience. “The choice between pipelines and wind turbines is a false one. We need both to reach our goal.” How will Trudeau...

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Alberta oil sands advisory group illustrates new political consensus on energy, climate

Co-existence of climate mitigation and oil sands development will be the new norm for many decades Critics of the new Alberta Oil Sands Advisory Group are missing a key point: mixing environmentalists with industry representatives perfectly reflects the NDP approach to climate and energy strategy. Rachel Notley’s government, like the Justin Trudeau Liberals in Ottawa, is working from a worldview that is increasingly common in global governments, and even the oil and gas business: That the economy has begun a transition from fossil fuels to clean energy technology that will take 75 to 100 years, during which hydrocarbons and renewable energy will co-exist – and compete – for decades. I recently interviewed Jim Carr, Canadian natural resources minister. He told me the energy transition model drives Canadian government policy and those of a number of key Canadian provinces, including Alberta. And only a few weeks ago the Prime Minister was quoted at a Vancouver clean tech conference saying there is no contradiction between wind turbines and pipelines, both are needed. We shouldn’t be surprised, then, that this dual approach is embedded in just about every policy and program introduced by the Alberta government, including the Oil Sands Advisory Group. Notley deliberately chose “members from industry, environmental organizations, and Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities to advise government on the oil-sands aspects of its Climate Leadership Plan and ensure that its initiatives are effective and widely...

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