Wednesday, July 17, 2013

We Are All Climate Change Deniers

One time in an airport, when a man noticed I was reading Hot: Living Through The Next Fifty Years on Earth, he leaned over and said conspiratorially, “You know that is alarmist bullshit.”

I asked, “Do you think the world’s weather is changing?”

“The changes are part of a natural cycle. CO2 doesn’t heat up the atmosphere. The sun heats the earth,” he replied.

When I asked him what he thought would happen in the next centuries, he said, “I think the sun will cool back down and everything will work out fine in the end.” I respectfully disagreed with him and quickly left to buy a sandwich.

I’ve learned not to argue too long with people who do not “believe in” human-made climate change. I figure it’s impossible to reason someone out of a position that they didn’t reason themselves into. But the fact is that even those of us who do believe climate change is man-made are in partial denial about our enormous global problems, and almost all of us minimize or normalize the situation.

Our denial is understandable. Our species is not equipped to respond to the threats posed by global warming. Humans are built to find food and shelter, reproduce, and enjoy each other. We are genetically programmed to react to threats by fleeing or fighting, and at first, our environmental crisis does not seem to allow us to do either. We’re better at dealing with problems that are concrete, close-at-hand, familiar and require skills and tools that we already possess. Our global storm is invisible, unprecedented, drawn out, and caused by all of us. We have Paleolithic arousal systems, Neolithic brains, medieval institutions and 21st century technology—not a good mix for solving our climate problems.

And so we feel paralyzed and our belief that we are powerless can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. In a crisis that seems impossible to confront and but too scary to ignore, many people live in a state that psychologist Stanley Cohen calls “willful ignorance.” We both know and don’t know what is going on.

But to state the obvious, we cannot solve a problem we will not face. Gregory Bateson said, “The unit of survival is the organism and its environment.” Our survival depends on our ability to acknowledge, discuss and deal with reality. Once we face our situation, we can progress through a healing cycle that moves from awareness to action. And action, especially in collaboration with others, can be an antidote to despair.
When problems seem too big for us, the solution is to grow bigger. Of course, we will always have some climate change deniers, but more and more of us are realizing that we will all survive or none of us will. This past February, on a cold and windy day in Washington, D.C., 40,000 people gathered in the largest environmental action in our nation’s history. Of course, even without collective action, we don’t know for sure what will happen to our planet. But we do know what will happen to us when we act. We will feel more vibrant, empowered and connection. And we will be more hopeful, because hope comes from acting in meaningful ways towards goals we most value.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Coastal cleanup aimed at raising environmental awareness - Jakarta

Coastal cleanup aimed at raising environmental awareness

Taipei, July 4 (CNA) A monthly coastal cleanup campaign will take place during the latter half of 2013 to encourage the public to get involved in environmental protection efforts, the organizer said Thursday.

The Taiwan Environmental Information Association said the idea of the mission is to allow people to learn about what is happening to their surroundings so that proper environmental measures can be taken.

"Knowledge is the foundation of meaningful action," the non-government group said on its campaign web page.

During the cleanup at New Taipei's Jinshan beach, participants will be able to observe the debris on the beach.

The campaign could also help the authorities keep a closer eye on the make-up of the trash washed up on the beach and come up with solutions.

In a similar cleanup event held in June, 22 volunteers collected 160.5 kg of trash, according to the association.

Those who are interested in the event can go to

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)

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Sunday, June 30, 2013

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Constitutionality of Renewable Energy Mandates in Question

In a potentially crushing strike against advocates for renewable energy mandates, a federal court ruling recently raised the issue of constitutionality of major provisions of many states’ renewable energy mandates.
On June 7, 2013, U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) position against the state of Michigan (and other petitioners) in a disagreement over FERC’s proposal to distribute costs for new power lines to supply millions of megawatts of wind power in the Great Lakes area.  Michigan believes that this plan would, in essence, require them to pay for expensive new power lines intended for transmitting renewable energy out of the state. Based on the law establishing Michigan’s 2008 Renewable Energy Standard, only renewable energy generated inside its state borders is qualified to fulfill Michigan’s obligation to utilize 10% of eligible renewable energy sources by 2015.
Speaking for the Court, Judge Richard Posner ruled:
“Michigan’s first argument—that its law prohibits it from crediting wind power from out of state in favor of the state’s obligated use of renewable energy by its utilities—trips over an unbreakable constitutional precedence. Michigan cannot, without violating Article I of the commerce clause of the Constitution, discriminate against out-of-state renewable energy (emphasis added).”
Thirty states, including the District of Columbia, have mandates on renewable energy that require electric companies to purchase a certain quota or percentage of renewable energy by a projected year. Just like Michigan which has a clear ban on wind produced in other states from being allowed into their mandate, other states also “discriminate” against out-of-state renewable power. When counting mandate compliance, several states count in-state power at a higher rate than out-of-state power, a practice popularly labelled as “multipliers”:
Delaware has a 300% credit multiplier for customer-sited, in-state photovoltaic (PV), a 350% multiplier for a specific offshore wind project, and a 150% multiplier for all other in-state wind projects;
Colorado applies a 1.25 multiplier for its in-state generation;
Michigan provides an extra 0.1 credit for projects that use state-available components and its local workforce;
Missouri grants a 1.25 multiplier for all in-state generation.
Kansas uses a 1.1 multiplier for all in-state resources;
Moreover, some state renewable policies have a list of renewable energy grades, where certain power sources can only be utilized to fulfill a part of the mandate.  Others have grade levels dedicated particularly to in-state power generation that may now be doubtful in view of the recent decision by the federal court:
New Mexico’s Tier V applies to customer-sited resources;
Massachusetts’ Tier IV exclusively applies to in-state PV projects;
New York’s Tier II covers customer-sited resources.
The new ruling is significant since one of the main points raised by mandate proponents is the creation of jobs in the concerned state.  Certainly, these claims merely consider the overall “green” jobs provided, while totally neglecting the loss of net jobs resulting from increased electricity rates arising from these mandates. The federal court ruling might just end up nullifying the argument for in-state green-job employment since renewable power can be imported out-of-state to comply with the mandate.

Lawmakers in these states with power mandates may now question the value of raising electricity rates on their state power consumers for the purpose of subsidizing “green” job creation in another state nearby. In the end, what this ruling has done is to unravel the problems and complexities with a market for renewables that has been created through government policies.

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Niam Cein - Tumblr - Crown Eco Management

Niam Cein - Tumblr 

wireless technology improves visibility»

A move to automated measurements, via wireless technology, has offered greater process visibility for one gas storage operator which has allowed it to work much closer to capacity.

RWE Gas Storage is an underground gas storage operator in the Czech Republic, operating six facilities with a total capacity of almost three billion cubic metres. Gas is stored in porous underground facilities during low-off take periods and supplied to users when demand peaks.

The facility has active operating reserves of 900 million cubic meters with a current maximum daily output of 15 million cubic meters and is supplied by 47 production wells via an underground pipeline. Incoming gas is filtered and metered, then compressor units generate the necessary injection pressure. After the gas cooling process, the gas is pumped through high-pressure pipes into wells connecting to the storage caverns.

The company is continually looking to improve the overall effectiveness of its underground gas storage facilities as measured by the maximum daily input and output. To improve the total amounts required better control, which required higher visibility into the process. However, manually reading over 100 pressure and temperature measurements took around two hours every shift. Having so many manually read gauges was a particular problem when the gas injection rate was higher. This required manual supervision along the entire pipeline, which utilised most of the operations resources. Automating these measurements would give operators greater visibility into the process and increase their efficiency, which would enable them to perform other, more important activities.

As well as gaining access to diagnostic data from existing control valves new online pressure, temperature and level measurements were required. Improved visibility to the process would enable operators to run the facility closer to capacity minimising downtime by detecting problems that would, otherwise, lead to unplanned maintenance. This would help to increase overall input and output at the facility.

Time limits
The difficulty was completing the necessary work in the limited time available. The upgrade needed to be performed in a short space of time as any planned maintenance or upgrade projects at the facility can only be performed during two short periods – about two weeks in the autumn and again in the spring – when neither injection nor withdrawal takes place. Such tasks need to be carefully planned, and even then there are limitations in terms of the size of project that can be completed within the tight timeframe. The scale of the project, including upgrades to existing valves and installation of over 100 new measurement points, would be difficult to complete in the time available.

To add to the difficulty of the task, there was no available existing cabling infrastructure to support the new digital measurement devices, and a lack of available I/O cards in the control host.

RWE investigated the possibility of installing new cabling throughout the facility to connect the new and upgraded devices, but installation could not be accomplished in the two-week window. Even if the upgrade were divided into smaller projects it was still not possible to complete within the timeframe. There was also no possibility of increasing the shutdown period. Every day the facility was not available to withdraw gas would cost RWE an estimated $250,000 in lost income. A wired solution was therefore not an option.

The use of wireless technology would remove the need to install new cabling, significantly reducing the overall upgrade project time, making the project more manageable and ensuring it could be completed without additional plant downtime. RWE estimated that upgrade projects using wireless take only a quarter of the time required to install wired devices.

Gaining diagnostics capabilities
The company selected Smart Wireless technology from Emerson Process Management which is based on IEC 62591 (WirelessHART) communications. The availability of HART data, including diagnostics from new and existing devices, was a significant reason for selecting this technology. Having the opportunity to diagnose potential device problems quickly and easily without having to go out into the field could further improve operator efficiency at the facility.

Another advantage of Smart Wireless technology was the ability for RWE to continue to operate injection/withdrawal even when wireless transmitters were being installed. Unlike a wired solution, Smart Wireless did not require new I/O cards in the control host. Smart Wireless gateways were merely added to the existing Modbus network and all data from the wireless transmitters was then available within the existing control system. This also meant that the instrumentation upgrade did not have to be completed within the allotted two-week downtime. Tasks could be split into manageable sections and implemented ‘live’, with no concern about overrunning and affecting normal operations.

Five separate wireless networks were installed using five gateways to deliver data from across the entire 50,000-m2 facility back into the control system. Over 100 new Smart Wireless devices were installed. Predominantly these were wireless pressure and temperature transmitters, but a number of Guided Wave Radar level transmitters and control valves were also connected using Emerson’s THUM adapters.

The pressure and temperature transmitters now provide continuous measurement of gas at different sections of the pipeline to calculate volume of gas. Other applications include measuring boiler oil level using the THUM adapters to connect to Rosemount 5300 Guided Wave Radars, and monitoring pipeline microfilters using wireless pressure transmitters to detect changes caused by blocked filters. Within the gas cooling section of the facility, existing Fisher control valves now have THUM adapters installed to provide additional diagnostic information.

By implementing wireless, rather than a wired solution, the company saved around 20% on the cost of installation and commissioning. The total saving is much higher considering the potential lost income from the plant being unavailable during the required extended shutdown period. Having installed the wireless networks, the company is also saving 10% per year on maintenance costs. Remote online access to diagnostic information has enabled potential problems with instruments to be identified and corrected earlier, before poor measurements affect the process. Access to online data also reduces the number of trips into the field as problems can be spotted and often solved without leaving the control room.

The wireless network is able to work without failure or lost transmissions despite the distance between devices being up to 200m with an environment that includes masonry/steel construction.

Emerson’s AMS Suite predictive maintenance software is used to monitor network performance. During the project phase, this was also used to help calibrate instruments. AMS Suite is now used to provide ongoing device and wireless network diagnostics. The next planned step for the company is to export this data into its own management reporting system.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Crown Capital Eco/biomass Boiler Addresses Alaskans' Environmental, Economic Concerns

The heavily forested city of Ketchikan, Alaska, is built on rock and surrounded by water. Every commodity that comes into Ketchikan must arrive by sea or air. The use of fuel oil is problematic for both economic and environmental reasons because the oil must be obtained and refined elsewhere and transported (using additional fuel). What's more, fuel oil is subject to price instability.

Southeast Alaska Discovery Center in Ketchikan, which provides information to more than a million visitors each year, is the site of a pilot biomass boiler system now coming to life. Two oil-fired boilers serving the 250,000-sq-ft center were replaced with a highly efficient system fueled by local wood. Manufactured by Hurst Boiler & Welding Company Inc., the hot-water boiler was custom-designed to fit within very limited indoor space.

Under the direction of E. Dane Ash, project manager for Tyonek-Alcan Pacific LLC, the biomass boiler system was developed with Hurst representative Gregory W. Smith of Global Energy Solutions Inc. to address environmental concerns, as well as issues related to building space, fuel costs, comfort, reliability, and simplicity of operation.

The new boiler is located on the lower level of the Discovery Center, which requires heating for a minimum of nine months a year. Local wood densified into fuel pucks is delivered to an elevated walking-floor storage bin in a vestibule area built to protect against excessive moisture. (The biomass-fired boiler can burn any wood product with up to 50-percent moisture content.) An auger moves pucks from the storage area to a metering bin and into the boiler. Freezing is not an issue because the walking floor easily breaks up any frozen contents.

The boiler system was designed to highlight how biomass can reduce or eliminate the use of fossil fuels. Visitors can see the boiler operate through specially designed windows. In the hall just outside of the boiler room, the noise level and ambient temperature is consistent with the rest of the building.


Fuel costs have been cut by two-thirds. The densified pucks are used with almost no residual ash; eventually, however, tree clippings from the Ketchikan walking trails will be ground and fed into the boiler, eliminating the need for transport to a landfill, burning, and other methods of disposal.

The Boiler

The Hurst S100 Series Fire Tube 27 HP Hydronic Water Heating Boiler features a pre-heater to optimize combustion and an underfeed stoker with dry-ash-removal system.


The system easily can be replicated for heat or heat/power generation up to 20,000 kw. In June 2011, Smith served as a keynote speaker for the fifth annual Native American Economic Development Conference in Anaheim, Calif., where he described the initiatives being implemented in Ketchikan and shared success stories of biomass-fired boiler systems installed on institutional campuses and in manufacturing facilities throughout the United States, particularly in challenging and remote locations. Systems include municipal solid waste, as well as woody biomass for steam production and steam to power.