Sunday, January 29, 2012

Biomass Energy Update -- Minnesota's Perspective -- The StarTribune

Link to StarTribune here.
Minnesota has spent more than $11 million in taxpayer and utility funds to advance technologies that burn biomass for heat and electric generation or convert it to a synthetic gas. Now, it's getting difficult for the technology to compete.

"The era of low-priced natural gas has blunted opportunities for biomass and other renewables," said Doug Tiffany, an agricultural economist at the University of Minnesota.

Natural gas prices have dropped by half since their peak in 2008 as exploration using hydraulic fracturing opened new gas fields in shale formations beneath Texas, Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

What's been a bonanza for those states has been just the opposite for Chippewa Valley Ethanol in Benson, Minn., 125 miles west of the Twin Cities. The cooperative spent more than $20 million in 2008 on a system that gasifies wood chips and corncobs.
Of course this is just part of the story. Minnesota bans coal-generated electricity from North Dakota.

Fargo: Participating in the Bakken Boom -- The Williston Basin, North Dakota, USA

Link here to the Fargo Forum.

Nothing really new in this article, but another "feel-good" story coming out of the Bakken.
The ongoing boom in the western North Dakota Oil Patch has been a siren song for businesses here – a lucrative but not easy opportunity.

Among the many answering the call is Indigo Signworks, a Fargo-based company with locations in Bismarck and Grand Forks in North Dakota, as well as Alexandria in Minnesota.
“I can name company after company expanding out there,” said Bernie Dardis, CEO of Indigo, which last summer purchased a 110-year-old sign company in Minot, N.D., so it could better meet demand in the Oil Patch.

Area business leaders say though they aren’t sure how many yet, local companies are increasingly getting in on the oil boom action in western North Dakota.
A fair number of data points in this article including the need for surveyors, and a the "great golf course" in the Bakken.

I do find it amazing; Fargo is about as far as one can get in North Dakota from the Bakken. As "big" as this story (the Bakken) is, it's only in a few western counties in North Dakota (as well as about three counties in eastern Montana and a bit of the provinces north of the border). I still maintain that most North Dakotans do not really have any first-hand knowledge of what is going on in their state. It was notable that the surveyors mentioned in this story were from out of state, Minnesota and Michigan.

Why I Love to Blog -- Reason #532

Not too long ago I asked folks to send me reports of any Bakken (Williston Basin) wells that had produced more than 40,000 bbls/month.

Today, "Old Oil" alerted me to "the original Lodgepole well" in the Dickinson vicinity.
  • 13447, 419, ConocoPhillips, Dickinson-Lodgepole Unit 74, Dickinson, s11/92; t2/93; F; cum 2.9 million bbls 11/11;  
Record months of production for this well: 06/1993 -- 53,000 bbls; 07/199 -- 51,000 bbls.

This well is still producing in excess of 4,000 bbls of oil per month.

But notice something else: no pump. Still flowing without a pump.

See other monster wells at my "Monster Wells" page.

For more on this well, go to this link

More Global Warming -- Fairbanks Freezing -- Owls Have Had Enough -- Mary Tyler Moore

Link here.
Winter continued to show her love of Interior Alaska by bestowing yet another cold snap on its beleaguered residents this weekend.

The temperature at Fairbanks International Airport hit 50 below zero Saturday morning for the first time since 2006, while a low of 57 below was reported in North Pole.

Fort Yukon and Huslia were the coldest Interior communities at 63 below zero, while two others beat their own records.

Tanana hit 61 below zero Saturday morning, breaking its previous record low of 58 below, set in 1919, and Bettles, at 60 below, broke its previous record of 56 below, which was set in 1989.
No comment.

In a related article, yesterday there was a story about mass migration of snowy owls from the Arctic. It was suggested it was due to the lemming population. I don't know about you, but when temperatures are hitting -61, it's time for the snowy owls to leave. But if you want to blame it on the lemmings, that's fine with me.
Bird enthusiasts are reporting rising numbers of snowy owls from the Arctic winging into the lower 48 states this winter in a mass southern migration that a leading owl researcher called “unbelievable.”

Thousands of the snow-white birds, which stand 2 feet tall with 5-foot wingspans, have been spotted from coast to coast, feeding in farmlands in Idaho, roosting on rooftops in Montana, gliding over golf courses in Missouri and soaring over shorelines in Massachusetts.

Holt and other owl experts say the phenomenon is likely linked to lemmings, a rodent that accounts for 90 per cent of the diet of snowy owls during breeding months that stretch from May into September. The largely nocturnal birds also prey on a host of other animals, from voles to geese.
I think these experts either need to read the weather reports or actually visit Fairbanks. Unless the lemmings are migrating en masse to Massachusetts to escape the cold. But wow, that's a long trip for lemmings.

By the way, speaking of weather, I have my older granddaughter give me a weather report every day: temperature, wind, precipitation, cloud cover, etc. It's one of our favorite 30-second activities on the way to school.

I've taught her the gradations of snow precipitation: light snowfall, heavy snowfall, snow storm, blizzard, extreme blizzard, North Dakota blizzard.

Notes to the Granddaughters

I think I mentioned some time ago that I no longer watch FOX (too much fluff, too political); ABC, NBC, and CBS (too much fluff, too political, too hypocritical) except for sports events (NASCAR and football, occasional golf, no basketball). I don't even watch the award shows any more.

In every major metro market, there seems to be at least one "retro" station on cable and that's the station I watch.  The granddaughters and I now make it a habit to catch "MASH" at 7:00 p.m. every night, in between their showers. ("Lost in Space" on Saturday evening is the older one's new favorite. Who woulda thought?)

After they are in bed, then a string of Mary Tyler: Mary Tyler, Bob Newhart, Dick Van Dyke.

The reason I bring this up: today there's a long, long article on MTM in the Los Angeles Times. This is a great article; brings back lots of memories. I knew a lot about MTM but this was the biggest surprise: half of the couple who slept in separate beds in Dick Van Dyke produced "Hill Street Blues," which made news when it showed some male nudity on network prime time television. I didn't see that episode (I generally did not watch HSB but I read about that episode).

Glossed over, but mentioned, is the fact that MTM has diabetes; born in 1936, she must be about 29 years old (again). She has managed her diabetes very, very well. As a kid, I thought she was beautiful. With Dick Van Dyke, she was. In MTM, not so much. But wow, what a dancer. Of all the things MTM is famous for and all that she has done, not much seems to be said about her dancing, unless of course I've missed that, which is very possible.

No Warming In 15 Years -- NASA -- New Ice Age -- An Inconvenient Truth

I do not google for these stories. They are appearing with increasing frequency. In mainstream media. An inconvenient truth for some.

Just after posting "the house of cards is falling" yesterday, lo and behold, this story pops up:
The supposed 'consensus' on man-made global warming is facing an inconvenient challenge after the release of new temperature data showing the planet has not warmed for the past 15 years.
The data was released without fanfare from the Met Office of the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit.
The figures suggest that we could even be heading for a mini-ice age to rival the 70-year temperature drop that saw frost fairs held on the Thames River in the 17th century.

Based on readings from more than 30,000 measuring stations ... it confirms that the rising trend in world temperatures ended in 1997.
Exactly what my data showed from my home thermometer which I check every couple of months. Or years. And NASA confirms.

The linked article is one of the best I've seen, with graphs, and lithographs, and everything. You can always count on the Brits to mince no words.

Anyway, put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Note to the granddaughters

One of the best-kept secrets in San Pedro is the marine biology library at Cabrillo Beach.  It is co-located with the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium -- up on the second floor across the way from the aquarium itself, overlooking the beach, LA Port, and the western half of San Pedro harbor. I was told the marine biology library is the best of its kind in the US. I don't know if that's accurate, but it is very, very good. The aquarium is free, with a $5.00 suggested donation. One might be able to find free parking on the street outside the beach area, but if not, parking costs $1/hour with a maximum of $9/day. It's a very, very good deal.

Today -- August 5, 2012, while visiting and reading random book selections I came across this, regarding global warming, a scholarly work written in 1973:
During the last century, CO2 in the atmosphere has increased by about 11 percent, and this increase is enough to account for about half of the 0.6 C mean hemispheric warming that occurred before 1940. With the accelerated burning of fossil fuel that is expected durng the next three decades, the CO2 level will be increased by about 50 percent (to 450 parts per million) and global warming attributable to this cause will be about 1 C. Such a strong warming would be further reinforced by substantial changes in sea-ice extent and might trigger other important internal variables in the climate machine.

Thus it appears the CO2 influence on climate may soon become critical. On the other hand, other influences may counter these trends. For example, the cooling of the 1950s and 1960s shows that some ohter factor is more than countering the warming effect of CO2. Stratospheric dust form increasing volcanic activity reflects more sunlight away from the earth and thus causes cooling. This may account for recent trends, but records of dust load in the atmostphere are inadequte for a reliable evaluation. Man's contribution to the atomospheric dust load is increasing at an exponential rate with a doubling time in the 10- to 20-year range. A 10-year doubling time would more than compensate the warming due to CO2, a 20-year doubling time would compensate only partially. Thus it appears that the influence of each of these factors, dust and CO2, will become larger compared to natural variations, but the net effect is difficult to estimate without better data. -- pp. 136 - 137 from -->
Frozen Future: A Prophetic Report From Antarctica, Our Planet's Last Continent and Last Chance, edited by Richard S. Lewis and Philip M. Smith. Introcution by Walter Sullivan, science editor of The New York Times.  c. 1973.

Since that book was published, some attention has been thrown on solar flares as contributing to global warming but that, too, is very, very controversial. The point is: not all possible causes for global warming were mentioned in that book.

$700K To Improve Williston Waste Water Plant -- The Bakken, North Dakota, USA

Link here to Williston Herald.
The Williston City Commission approved a low-bid of $704,700 from Magney Construction to make "influent and transfer pumping" improvements to the city's Wastewater Treatment Facility, which has been running at capacity due to high demand and increased population.

New Man-Camp In Williston -- The Heart of the Bakken, North Dakota, USA

Link here to the Williston Herald.

Open to everyone, but built primarily for its own workers.
  •  "For us it's a key step, because as we came here over a year ago, we knew we had to solve our own problem, not add to the problem," said Kevin Burke, president and CEO of Burke Construction. "The precursor to us planting our flag in this community is this facility you're looking at."
Data points:
  • $105/night vs $200/night for Williston motels; drops to $90/night for stays at least 30 days
  • Boxed breakfast, free laundry