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Scientists Warn That Filling The Sahara With Solar Panels Is A Bad Idea

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"Zhengyao Lu from Sweden’s Lund University and Benjamin Smith from Western Sydney University warned in a recent paper that turning the Sahara into a giant solar farm will have negative consequences for the global climate because of the way solar panels work.

Everyone knows the basics: photovoltaic panels absorb the energy of the sun. But just a step beyond these basics, we are reminded of the efficiency factor of solar panels, or the rate, at which it converts the energy it absorbs into electricity. The average to date is between 15 and 20 percent. So, 15-20 percent of the light solar panels absorb, they convert into electricity. The rest appears to be the problem, according to Lu and Smith."

Given that the Sahara is roughly 3000 miles across, it's worth pointing out that the largest 'reasonably sized' solar farm to meet global power production needs would be about 150 miles x 150 miles on a side. Any larger farm would generate power no one could use.

In any case, solar power farms would presumably be situated near their respective markets, so the Sahara would serve Europe and North Africa. Farms elsewhere would serve the southern countries in Africa. South America would have its own farms, as would North America. Sites in Asia might include the Gobi desert and certain parts of India. Australia has vast amounts of room, and might export power to countries like Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Probably the largest economically rational site in the Sahara would be about 80 miles x 80 miles.

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34 minutes ago, Meredith Poor said:

"Zhengyao Lu from Sweden’s Lund University and Benjamin Smith from Western Sydney University warned in a recent paper that turning the Sahara into a giant solar farm will have negative consequences for the global climate because of the way solar panels work.

Everyone knows the basics: photovoltaic panels absorb the energy of the sun. But just a step beyond these basics, we are reminded of the efficiency factor of solar panels, or the rate, at which it converts the energy it absorbs into electricity. The average to date is between 15 and 20 percent. So, 15-20 percent of the light solar panels absorb, they convert into electricity. The rest appears to be the problem, according to Lu and Smith."

Given that the Sahara is roughly 3000 miles across, it's worth pointing out that the largest 'reasonably sized' solar farm to meet global power production needs would be about 150 miles x 150 miles on a side. Any larger farm would generate power no one could use.

In any case, solar power farms would presumably be situated near their respective markets, so the Sahara would serve Europe and North Africa. Farms elsewhere would serve the southern countries in Africa. South America would have its own farms, as would North America. Sites in Asia might include the Gobi desert and certain parts of India. Australia has vast amounts of room, and might export power to countries like Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Probably the largest economically rational site in the Sahara would be about 80 miles x 80 miles.

At about 150MW of capacity per km2 the amount of land used would be minimal. 

Each MW will generate 1800-1900 Mwh a year. About 15% less if  west / east facing. 

285 Gwh per Km2. 

Say 300 Twh import into Europe each year thats about 1100km2 which is less than the land area of greater London. 

Obvious interconnect routes are Morocco - Spain, Algeria - Spain, Tunisia - Sicily & Sardinia, Libya - Greece, Egypt to Greece. Spread over 3 different time zones and if a proportion of panels east and west facing a nice evened out spread across a long day. 

 

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On 2/27/2021 at 3:58 AM, Meredith Poor said:

turning the Sahara into a giant solar farm will have negative consequences for the global climate because of the way solar panels work.

If it was possible to cover the whole Sahara with solar panels, and this seems a stretch, that might be a problem for climate, but as Meredith points out you're not likely to get much beyond 80 miles - 128 kilometres - square, which would be difficult to find in the Sahara unless you had exact co-ordinates. Whether such a vast bank of PVs would really be practical in the desert - think of the wear on the panels through the extreme heat and cold (it gets cold in the desert at night) - is another question..  

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Almeria in Spain is 100 miles north of North Africa. It has more than 100 square miles of plastic greenhouses growing fruit and veg for Europe. The extra solar heat trapped should be indicative of that of a large area of solar panels. Negative effects can be measured there. I would add that the negative social effects are horrendous. Illegal immigrants work in 100F heat and live in squalor. The roads built with EU money pass through wooded country for many miles on the border with France. Every 100 yards or so,there is a bouncy blonde offering her services to the lorry drivers. Presumably these are Romanian,but could possibly be Ukrainian.

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That is a really bad argument. Nobody suggested powering the entire world from the Sahara desert so that 150 sq mile farm would never be needed. Besides, it is easy to power each country locally, so why import it?

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On 2/27/2021 at 11:31 PM, markslawson said:

If it was possible to cover the whole Sahara with solar panels, and this seems a stretch, that might be a problem for climate, but as Meredith points out you're not likely to get much beyond 80 miles - 128 kilometres - square, which would be difficult to find in the Sahara unless you had exact co-ordinates. Whether such a vast bank of PVs would really be practical in the desert - think of the wear on the panels through the extreme heat and cold (it gets cold in the desert at night) - is another question..  

North Africa certainly has a lot of space and very good solar resources. While the desertec proposals are very fanciful there is noreason why each of the countries can't built out solar for their own needs and also supply into and access the European market. Morocco already has an interconnector with Spain. Distance from Algeria to Spain is not that far and Tunis to Scilily a relatively small distance. Lets say 3-4 2GW connectors 

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2 hours ago, NickW said:

North Africa certainly has a lot of space and very good solar resources. While the desertec proposals are very fanciful there is noreason why each of the countries can't built out solar for their own needs and also supply into and access the European market.

Nick - if those countries want to put a whole heap of PV panels in the desert its up to them. Sure, they would work nicely for a time but just think where you're putting them - in an area of extreme heat and cold (gets cold in the desert at night) and dust storms that can last for days.. As yourself just how long the panels will produce electricity and at what efficiency and about operating costs.. then ask yourself about how grid operators would manage this vast increase in power which only comes on during the day and is only at full capacity for a few hours, and not all during a dust storm until someone goes and dusts off all the panels. Its not surprising that they haven't gone in for PVs on the scale suggested in the original post..    

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16 hours ago, markslawson said:

Nick - if those countries want to put a whole heap of PV panels in the desert its up to them. Sure, they would work nicely for a time but just think where you're putting them - in an area of extreme heat and cold (gets cold in the desert at night) and dust storms that can last for days.. As yourself just how long the panels will produce electricity and at what efficiency and about operating costs.. then ask yourself about how grid operators would manage this vast increase in power which only comes on during the day and is only at full capacity for a few hours, and not all during a dust storm until someone goes and dusts off all the panels. Its not surprising that they haven't gone in for PVs on the scale suggested in the original post..    

None of those countries are particularly wealthy however Morocco has got a significant wind and solar programme incentivised by their daily oil production of 160 bpd. 

They have about 2GW of wind with a pipeline out to 2030 of another 2.5GW

They have about 2GW of solar and another 4.5GW in the pipeline. 

They can utilise the 2GW interconnector with Spain. 

 

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22 hours ago, markslawson said:

Nick - if those countries want to put a whole heap of PV panels in the desert its up to them. Sure, they would work nicely for a time but just think where you're putting them - in an area of extreme heat and cold (gets cold in the desert at night) and dust storms that can last for days.. As yourself just how long the panels will produce electricity and at what efficiency and about operating costs.. then ask yourself about how grid operators would manage this vast increase in power which only comes on during the day and is only at full capacity for a few hours, and not all during a dust storm until someone goes and dusts off all the panels. Its not surprising that they haven't gone in for PVs on the scale suggested in the original post..    

Following on from my previous comment

Egypt currently building the worlds 4th biggest solar farm (1.8GW) 

Benban Solar Park - Wikipedia

In addition Wind scheduled to hit 7-8GW by 2030. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, NickW said:

Following on from my previous comment

Egypt currently building the worlds 4th biggest solar farm (1.8GW) 

Benban Solar Park - Wikipedia

Nick - go back and read the material you linked. See this part..

To create the park, Egypt’s government selected a remote desert site with high solar radiation and divided it into 41 plots of varying sizes. It assigned those plots to roughly 30 developers that expressed interest in the project, and the government promised to pay a competitive price (through financial incentives called feed-in tariffs [PDF]) for all power produced at Benban for 25 years. 

With loans from the International Finance Corporation and the World Bank, the state-owned Egyptian Electricity Holding Company built roads and other infrastructure at the site, including four substations, a control center, and a connection to an adjacent corridor of 220-kilovolt (kV) transmission lines.

Also note this part

High temperatures can also reduce the efficiency of PV cells, as can sand or dust that blows onto the panels. To combat the latter, employees will clean all the panels at Benban once or twice a month by passing by in specialized tractors equipped with brushes.

You might also note, if you weren't too busy cheering on solar that the article also says that two combined cycle gas plants at 4.8 GW were also coming on line at the same time. Now note: Orabi thinks the next step for Benban should be to invest in energy storage to ensure the power produced there is put to good use, and to help smooth out any grid fluctuations. 

In other words its a massive, heavily subsidised PV farm, which requires additional, huge investment in storage and conventional plants for the grid to cope with it.  This has all the hallmarks of a financial disaster which power consumers in Egypt will pay for. 

The business about being able to see the installation from space, incidentally, is almost certainly nonsense.

That's as far as this can take us. Leave it with you..  

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12 hours ago, markslawson said:

In other words its a massive, heavily subsidised PV farm, which requires additional, huge investment in storage and conventional plants for the grid to cope with it.  This has all the hallmarks of a financial disaster which power consumers in Egypt will pay for. 

Everyone should save that quote and post it each time there is an opportunity to do so.

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The subsidies in solar and wind by the federal government make investment in fossil fuels and nuclear power not only unfeasible without a return but as in Big Oil, very unpopular as their Boards fill with climate warriors.  Solar as in wind sounds like a great idea, until we find out that we've actually made climate change worse and the environment unstable.  Here in America Biden is moving heaven and earth to reduce our natural gas, coal and nuclear power with no reliable alternatives.  Even a small component such as polyurethane glycol is derived from petroleum and utilized in the manufacture of the COVID-19 vaccines.  As we continue down the path of the Green New Deal and discussions on the land mass necessary to have renewable power, a cut from a major study on solar farm development in the Sahara was pretty interesting - here it is:

Sahara Desert Solar Farm is Not Good?

According to a report by Inverse, researchers have found evidence that only a certain per cent of the sun's heat is being transformed into reusable energy and the rest is being returned to our environment as heat, which helps increase the Earth's temperature and contributes to global warming.

It is something that many of us were not expecting at all and is what we're trying to avoid by using clean, reusable energy sources such as sunlight.

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1 hour ago, Dan Warnick said:

Everyone should save that quote and post it each time there is an opportunity to do so.

The feed in tariiff on this project was set at 8.4C (US) / kwh which is below the global average price for domestic and business electricity. 

Egypt electricity prices, June 2020 | GlobalPetrolPrices.com

Its above Egyptian prices because Egypt heavily subsidises electricity supply - oil on troubled waters exercise. The solar project also creates some local employment. 

 

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1 hour ago, JoMack said:

The subsidies in solar and wind by the federal government make investment in fossil fuels and nuclear power not only unfeasible without a return but as in Big Oil, very unpopular as their Boards fill with climate warriors.  Solar as in wind sounds like a great idea, until we find out that we've actually made climate change worse and the environment unstable.  Here in America Biden is moving heaven and earth to reduce our natural gas, coal and nuclear power with no reliable alternatives.  Even a small component such as polyurethane glycol is derived from petroleum and utilized in the manufacture of the COVID-19 vaccines.  As we continue down the path of the Green New Deal and discussions on the land mass necessary to have renewable power, a cut from a major study on solar farm development in the Sahara was pretty interesting - here it is:

Sahara Desert Solar Farm is Not Good?

According to a report by Inverse, researchers have found evidence that only a certain per cent of the sun's heat is being transformed into reusable energy and the rest is being returned to our environment as heat, which helps increase the Earth's temperature and contributes to global warming.

It is something that many of us were not expecting at all and is what we're trying to avoid by using clean, reusable energy sources such as sunlight.

The obvious problem--in addition to the one you highlighted--is that as the earth warms from nonsensical energy (the 85% that hits the solar panel but cannot be converted to electricity), it will very likely be blamed on fossil fuel induced global warming. 

I rather suspect that we're going to have to run this giant experiment--all over the world where there's enough sunshine--before the renewables fanatics finally entertain the idea that the "solution" might have become the problem. 

Solar and wind both have great potential for causing unintended consequences. Trillions of dollars are going to be injected into this massive scheme. Probably just about the time carbon capture becomes a commercial reality. 

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The report says that covering 20% of the Sahara will cause problems and covering 50% of the Sahara will cause bigger problems. The report does not say what the world would do with all of that electricity: We currently have no way to use that much, so the report is ludicrous.

The world's population currently consumes about 150,000 TWh/yr of energy of all types:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_energy_consumption

A solar panel in the Sahara will produce about 1.5 kWh/day per m2, or >500 kWh/yr per m2.  2 million m2 per TWh/yr. 2 km2 per TWh/yr, so 300,000 km2 will provide all of the energy of all types that humanity currently uses.

The Sahara is 9,200,000 km2:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sahara

Solar panels equivalent to all of humanity's energy usage would be 300,000/9,200,000 or less than 3.5%  of the Sahara. But to use that much energy, we would need to convert all energy use to electricity. But the other types of energy also contribute to global heat retention in much "worse" ways in terms of heat retained versus usable MWh.  As a trivial example, thermal power plants (coal, nuclear, NG) are maybe 60% efficient, so they produce 2/3 as much waste heat as they do electricity. Gasoline engines in cars are much worse.

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24 minutes ago, Dan Clemmensen said:

The report says that covering 20% of the Sahara will cause problems and covering 50% of the Sahara will cause bigger problems. The report does not say what the world would do with all of that electricity: We currently have no way to use that much, so the report is ludicrous.

The world's population currently consumes about 150,000 TWh/yr of energy of all types:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_energy_consumption

A solar panel in the Sahara will produce about 1.5 kWh/day per m2, or >500 kWh/yr per m2.  2 million m2 per TWh/yr. 2 km2 per TWh/yr, so 300,000 km2 will provide all of the energy of all types that humanity currently uses.

The Sahara is 9,200,000 km2:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sahara

Solar panels equivalent to all of humanity's energy usage would be 300,000/9,200,000 or less than 3.5%  of the Sahara. But to use that much energy, we would need to convert all energy use to electricity. But the other types of energy also contribute to global heat retention in much "worse" ways in terms of heat retained versus usable MWh.  As a trivial example, thermal power plants (coal, nuclear, NG) are maybe 60% efficient, so they produce 2/3 as much waste heat as they do electricity. Gasoline engines in cars are much worse.

The efficiency on thermal plant in hot climates is relatively low so here is another advantage of solar in these regions. They also serve a practical purpose of taking day time load off the thermal plant which can then operate more efficiently at night with cooler ambient temperatures. 

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5 hours ago, NickW said:

The efficiency on thermal plant in hot climates is relatively low so here is another advantage of solar in these regions. They also serve a practical purpose of taking day time load off the thermal plant which can then operate more efficiently at night with cooler ambient temperatures. 

Nick,

You seem to have an expansive amount of information and in all of your commentary on renewables, I've never read anything to suggest there is a downside, unless I missed it.  I find it hard to grasp that large amounts of solar and wind farms along with battery power to store enough power to be a reliable source of energy can occur without an impact on agriculture, shipping, wildlife, travel, manufacturing, petrochemicals, and other sectors that rely on crude, natural gas, nuclear, coal, and I'll throw in some biomass.  I only come to terms with what I reason is most secure and reliable and I don't find it with renewables.  I'm interested since, as you can see, I am not a fan of renewables as the solution to our energy security and national security, I'd like to know your thoughts.

Biden is about to deliver a $2 Trillion infrastructure bill, with no push to improve the grid.  If EVs are the way of the future in travel, can you tell me how you believe electric vehicles and jets will charge?  I ask this since California is starting to ban gas stations.  So, I'd like to know how you would solve this issue since I'm having difficulty trying to figure out how to charge an EV without the grid.  And, remember, the target for Biden is 2030.  Thanks.  BTW, I'm not trying to be snarky, I'd just like to see what you think.

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1 hour ago, JoMack said:

Nick,

You seem to have an expansive amount of information and in all of your commentary on renewables, I've never read anything to suggest there is a downside, unless I missed it.  I find it hard to grasp that large amounts of solar and wind farms along with battery power to store enough power to be a reliable source of energy can occur without an impact on agriculture, shipping, wildlife, travel, manufacturing, petrochemicals, and other sectors that rely on crude, natural gas, nuclear, coal, and I'll throw in some biomass.  I only come to terms with what I reason is most secure and reliable and I don't find it with renewables.  I'm interested since, as you can see, I am not a fan of renewables as the solution to our energy security and national security, I'd like to know your thoughts.

Biden is about to deliver a $2 Trillion infrastructure bill, with no push to improve the grid.  If EVs are the way of the future in travel, can you tell me how you believe electric vehicles and jets will charge?  I ask this since California is starting to ban gas stations.  So, I'd like to know how you would solve this issue since I'm having difficulty trying to figure out how to charge an EV without the grid.  And, remember, the target for Biden is 2030.  Thanks.  BTW, I'm not trying to be snarky, I'd just like to see what you think.

JoMack, your post raises so many issues, and mixes them in such a way, that is it hard for me to separate them out to respond. I will try. Please feel free to grab them in separate posts if I screwed it up.

Reliability: Wind and solar cannot ever be "baseline" or "responsive" or "dispatchable"  generators. They are variable. This means you need some way to store the energy and provide it later. There are two timescales: "daily" and "longer-term". For "daily", batteries are ideal. They are very reliable and very efficient. For longer term, the best existing technology is to use the electricity to produce a gas (H2, NH3, or CH4) and store the gas or any period of to months, and then burn the gas in a generator.

Grid: I have no reason to think NickW believes we can count on increased use of electricity without upgrading the grid. Where did you see that? I think a grid upgrade will be needed. If we do not shift from NG to electricity fairly quickly, we will need a major upgrade to the decaying NG infrastructure, so we have a problem either way.

EV power: Build out the electrical grid and provide electricity to the EVs via chargers. We already know that an EV company can provide enough chargers to power the EV fleet that it builds, including the required local infrastructure upgrades: Tesla has shown that.

Jets: make jet fuel from electricity and CO2 form the air. This has already been demonstrated.

Impact on society: Societies either evolve or die. Societies that refuse to evolve (Imperial China, ancient Greece, Rome,  and many others) eventually exhaust their resources and starve. All technological advances have had impacts on someone: the industrial revolution, the railroads, and automobiles are big examples. Given those examples, we should look for way to ease the transition, not stop the transition.

I'm sorry you do not find renewables reliable. I do not find fossil fuels to be reliable. Unless you have large-scale NG storage, your generators depend on continuous supply from unreliable NG wells. This can lead to large-scale failures, as in Texas.

National security: The US was dependent on massive fossil fuel imports for decades, from about 1970 until about 2010, or about half the time that automobiles have been in wide-scale use. Renewables will allow us to achieve true energy independence even after the Permian is drained.

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14 hours ago, Dan Warnick said:

Everyone should save that quote and post it each time there is an opportunity to do so.

I disagree. Keep in mind all sorts of infrastructure like this tends to be financed in order in order to seed industries, especially in countries where said infrastructure historically hasn't existed. This is whole point of developmental finance.

You may call it subsidies as well, but in general, things like oil, gas, railroads, etc were often bootstrapped (or "subsidized" even today) this way. What did you think J.P. Morgan, the man, did back in the day? The big difference is that often governments, or say, the World Bank, often don't take equity but promote good governance in return for loans (this is what the World Bank and IMF typically do). The US government, or the tax payer, would have been far richer if it had equity in Tesla from 2007-2008 for example. 

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10 hours ago, JoMack said:

Nick,

You seem to have an expansive amount of information and in all of your commentary on renewables, I've never read anything to suggest there is a downside, unless I missed it.  I find it hard to grasp that large amounts of solar and wind farms along with battery power to store enough power to be a reliable source of energy can occur without an impact on agriculture, shipping, wildlife, travel, manufacturing, petrochemicals, and other sectors that rely on crude, natural gas, nuclear, coal, and I'll throw in some biomass.  I only come to terms with what I reason is most secure and reliable and I don't find it with renewables.  I'm interested since, as you can see, I am not a fan of renewables as the solution to our energy security and national security, I'd like to know your thoughts.

Biden is about to deliver a $2 Trillion infrastructure bill, with no push to improve the grid.  If EVs are the way of the future in travel, can you tell me how you believe electric vehicles and jets will charge?  I ask this since California is starting to ban gas stations.  So, I'd like to know how you would solve this issue since I'm having difficulty trying to figure out how to charge an EV without the grid.  And, remember, the target for Biden is 2030.  Thanks.  BTW, I'm not trying to be snarky, I'd just like to see what you think.

On numerous occasions I have said that I don't see intermittent renewables being a practical 100% replacement for thermal plant (or where available large amounts of Hydro). I am broadly supportive of nuclear if done safely and for colder countries unless blessed with lots of hydro is a must if going down the fossil fuel free route. 

However:

If we accept that fossil fuels are not going to last for ever we need to start making that transition early on before scarcity hobbles our ability to make that change. Humans seem to be unique in being able to plan ahead long term and this gift whether by force of nature / god or whatever gives us that distinct advantage . Its comparable to the saying make hay when the sun shine.

Personally I think coal needs to be phased out rapidly but I see a place for natural gas and oil for the forseeable future. 

Many countries are reliant on imports so ubiquitous renewables like solar and wind offer an opportunity to reduce reliance on imports so strengthen energy security. There is a practical limit but if cost effective scalable storage becomes available then that raised practical limit will significantly reduce the reliance on fossil fuel imports. 

Even for fossil fuel rich countries renewables has bought benefits. Until recently the USA was a net importer of energy. Its now exporting large amounts of LNG. A proportion of that feed gas for LNG has been made available as wind energy in Texas and mid west states has reduced demand for gas. I estimated that Texan wind energy was roughly the equivalent of 20% of the feed gas used in US LNG imports. 

If BOTS like Ecocharger are right and the next ice age is upon us then they are not at odds with the AGW crowd because the mitigation and adaptation measures help in both scenarios

  • Saving fuel - potentially for later use
  • Energy efficiency
  • New sources of captured energy - wind, solar, geothermal etc. 

 

 

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3 hours ago, NickW said:

Even for fossil fuel rich countries renewables has bought benefits. Until recently the USA was a net importer of energy. Its now exporting large amounts of LNG. A proportion of that feed gas for LNG has been made available as wind energy in Texas and mid west states has reduced demand for gas. I estimated that Texan wind energy was roughly the equivalent of 20% of the feed gas used in US LNG imports. 

There is so much natural gas coming out of the Permian, especially the Delaware sub-basin, that if anything, wind energy has stalled the buildout of more takeaway pipes. Had wind never been harnessed, the LNG exportation business would be exactly where it is now.

As a matter of fact, an argument could be made that Texas wind energy actually increased methane troposphere pollution--globally. The major reason for all the venting/flaring of methane gas over the last decade has been the inability to handle all that gas--you had to be a large enough operator to be able to afford a reservation in the pipeline. If you couldn't do that, you vented and flared. 

The recent storm is going to tally up as a $100 billion-dollar event, very likely. I'm not singularly blaming the failure of wind input for all that damage, but your persistent explanation that wind resulted in some sort of economic boondoggle for the LNG doesn't hold water.

You are so right: some energy-starved areas needs to build out solar/wind. Texas doesn't happen to be one of those places. Texas has been venting/flaring about $3M of nearly pure methane gas each day. Remove as much water as possible, winterize the valves in Christmas trees, and pipe NG to utility plants all over the state. It won't make a dent in the feedthrough to LNG trains. 

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1 hour ago, Gerry Maddoux said:

There is so much natural gas coming out of the Permian, especially the Delaware sub-basin, that if anything, wind energy has stalled the buildout of more takeaway pipes. Had wind never been harnessed, the LNG exportation business would be exactly where it is now.

As a matter of fact, an argument could be made that Texas wind energy actually increased methane troposphere pollution--globally. The major reason for all the venting/flaring of methane gas over the last decade has been the inability to handle all that gas--you had to be a large enough operator to be able to afford a reservation in the pipeline. If you couldn't do that, you vented and flared. 

One would assume its at least flared in order to convert the Methane to CO2? 

The allowance of so much flaring, particularly with onshore oil is a regulatory failure in my view in that the licensing of the wells should have subject to the gas being captured and transferred into the network.   

BTW - I'm all in favour of seeing more US LNG on the international market as a counterwieght to Qatari and Russian dominance in the western hemisphere. 

Edited by NickW
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1 hour ago, Gerry Maddoux said:

There is so much natural gas coming out of the Permian, especially the Delaware sub-basin, that if anything, wind energy has stalled the buildout of more takeaway pipes. Had wind never been harnessed, the LNG exportation business would be exactly where it is now.

As a matter of fact, an argument could be made that Texas wind energy actually increased methane troposphere pollution--globally. The major reason for all the venting/flaring of methane gas over the last decade has been the inability to handle all that gas--you had to be a large enough operator to be able to afford a reservation in the pipeline. If you couldn't do that, you vented and flared. 

I assume reinjection is not a feasible option on fracked oil fields? 

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2 hours ago, NickW said:

One would assume its at least flared in order to convert the Methane to CO2? 

The allowance of so much flaring, particularly with onshore oil is a regulatory failure in my view in that the licensing of the wells should have subject to the gas being captured and transferred into the network.   

BTW - I'm all in favour of seeing more US LNG on the international market as a counterwieght to Qatari and Russian dominance in the western hemisphere. 

Texas Railroad Commission--the regulatory agency--Statewide Rule 32 states that natural gas can be vented for only up to 24 hours or flared for up to 10 days. After that, you have to hook up to a pipeline or shut in production. The TRRC used to be strong. Then they folded. To be perfectly honest, this allowance has been one of the great causes of a glut in the NG/light sweet oil market. Rather than allow small operators to go broke, the TRRC allowed them to vent and flare, thereby producing enough money to move on to the next hole. And so on. The Permian Basin gas flares makes the area appear like London at night, from a satellite image. And there is lots of venting of methane too. This, like a lot of things in the Texas energy world, is about to undergo major change.

 

2 hours ago, NickW said:

I assume reinjection is not a feasible option on fracked oil fields? 

NG is used as an oil-lifting agent in the Permian, but methane is not such a great lifting gas--not nearly as good as say ethane. So, no, re-injection is not an option. I cannot over-emphasize how much methane gas comes up with the oil in the Permian. 

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22 minutes ago, Gerry Maddoux said:

Texas Railroad Commission--the regulatory agency--Statewide Rule 32 states that natural gas can be vented for only up to 24 hours or flared for up to 10 days. After that, you have to hook up to a pipeline or shut in production. The TRRC used to be strong. Then they folded. To be perfectly honest, this allowance has been one of the great causes of a glut in the NG/light sweet oil market. Rather than allow small operators to go broke, the TRRC allowed them to vent and flare, thereby producing enough money to move on to the next hole. And so on. The Permian Basin gas flares makes the area appear like London at night, from a satellite image. And there is lots of venting of methane too. This, like a lot of things in the Texas energy world, is about to undergo major change.

 

NG is used as an oil-lifting agent in the Permian, but methane is not such a great lifting gas--not nearly as good as say ethane. So, no, re-injection is not an option. I cannot over-emphasize how much methane gas comes up with the oil in the Permian. 

Thanks for the information

In my opinion it demonstrates a regulatory failing in that development of oil wells should have gone hand in hand with capturing the NG. 

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