Archive for Monday, October 27, 2008

Greenpeace fires away at coal

Local residents take a stand against coal today outside of Westar's Lawrence Energy Center.

October 27, 2008


Dozens of Kansans gathered Sunday afternoon in front of the Lawrence Energy Center, run by Westar Energy, to bring attention to the dangers of coal.

"Coal is one of the major emitters of greenhouse pollution," said Suzanne Graham, the global warming field organizer for Greenpeace. "If we don't get rid of coal or at least phase it out and move toward a renewable energy economy, we're not going to stop global warming."

Plus, with the election just over a week away, the rally attendees saw an opportunity to grab the attention of candidates.

"Their ears are wide open so we're trying to be as loud as we can," said Lawrence resident Jason Boyer. "This is something that's going to go on for a long time, so whoever is elected into office, we're going to have to continue this work."

A press release from the group says the Lawrence Energy Center is "the nation's 12th most polluting coal plant." Global warming is a key issue for Greenpeace, which supports alternative ways to get energy, including wind.

"We know that there's other alternatives," said Lawrence resident and Greenpeace volunteer Sylvia Niccum. "It's here, we need to use it and we just want our leadership to know that and do something about it."

Graham also emphasized that the environment wouldn't be the only benefactor of a switch to clean energy.

"Recently, a report came out saying that 19,000 jobs in Kansas alone could be created with an investment in a renewable energy economy," she said. Graham says that includes wind and solar energy and retrofitting buildings to make them greener. She says many areas like research, development, transportation and manufacturing could be helped by renewable energy.

But the issue isn't restricted to just Kansas.

"We're trying to bring some national attention to the issue," said Boyer. "This is something that all the states need to start trying to do."


Bill Griffith 9 years, 7 months ago

Does Greenpeace have an office in Kansas? I didn't know they had a presence here. Interesting, I wonder if this was a coordinated nation-wide effort. I bet Westar was just ecstatic over this little get together.

Jennifer Forth 9 years, 7 months ago

As the bumper sticker says - Lawrence, 27 square miles of reality surrounded by Kansas.

FMT6488 9 years, 7 months ago

Also - wasn't it the Greenpeace group that objected to wind farms because of the supposed bird kills?

FMT6488 9 years, 7 months ago

Coal is also more reliable than Solar(cloudy days, rain), Wind(gotta be blowin' to make electricity), Hydro(requires a nearby river or lake), Tidal(still being researched, works - but also tends to disturb shipping and recreation), and Geo-thermal(like Hydro, it requires a nearby source). Personally, I have nothing against alternative systems - I would love a cleaner source of electricity. Until one can be produced as reliably and either cost the same(or less) than current methods(coal,methane, or nuclear), this is all screaming at a brick wall.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 7 months ago

Coal like Nukes are very expensive sources and require tons of subsidy tax dollars to make them appear affordable. Wind,Solar and Hydro power are truly less expensive and produce quick payback. These three do not have expensive waste storage attached to them.Wind,Solar and Hydro = fiscally responsible juice

POTATOCHImPPS 9 years, 7 months ago

WE need to change things.Brother AmenOnly through the wave of my hand can you find ye holy peace with the sanctions of God.Brother AmenWe can bind ourselves together to demise our minions and our opinions and devise ways to hinder the common folk and hold them hostage to our perspectives.Brother Amen.(Meanwhile Earl, LeRon and Marcus hide in the shadows trying to find a way to hurt the little chap trying to get his degree at a University minus their influence.)

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 7 months ago

"It's not like they can close the plant, as the nay-sayers won't let them build a clean replacement. Greenpeace would rather curse the darkness than light a candle."Umm, hip, they were there demanding real clean replacements, unlike the oxymoronic "clean coal."

labmonkey 9 years, 7 months ago

Figures assume .25 to 2 acres needed per windmill. It is estimated that the United States will use 4782 billion kWh of electricity in 2020. Since they are designing bigger windmills, lets assume that the average windmill will produce 1.65 megawatts of electricity (since most being put up now are of the 800 kilowatt variety, but they are building bigger models). Using a 30% national average capacity factor for each windmill, each windmill will produce 4336200 kWh of electricity per year. That means over 1.1 million windmills would have to be in service (and that is assuming a generous, 1.65 megawatt average). Not all areas of the United States are suitable for windmills, and many of the areas that are suitable are already populated. Using the .25 acre to 2 acre figure, I will go low end and assume 1 acre per windmill (as they will need more space as they grow larger). That means 1.1 million acres would be needed just for the windmills. This is not counting all the extra power lines that would be needed to transport the electricity form so many non centralized sources. Although that does not sound like much compared to the size of the United States, whole regions of the country are not suitable for wind power, and many of the regions that are theoritically suitable are already populated, or the terrain doesn't allow for the building of windmills. So yes, my prior statement was an exaggeration, but 1.1 million acres is a lot of ecosystem disturbance, killing of birds, and general unsightliness.

hipper_than_hip 9 years, 7 months ago

I happened to drive by the powerhouse yesterday, and there were maybe 20 people there; does that really qualify as dozens?FYI: Westar will begin construction on a new baghouse and dry scrubbers at the Lawrence plant next year. They're fully aware that the Lawrence plant is old and dirty, and they're working to clean it up. It's not like they can close the plant, as the nay-sayers won't let them build a clean replacement. Greenpeace would rather curse the darkness than light a candle.

ralphralph 9 years, 7 months ago

Nuclear is what will make "green" possible. It is the clean, safe, reliable base upon which you can stack wind and solar ... at least until those technologies progress further. Coal is not the way, but nuclear must be there.Clean. Safe. Reliable. Nuclear.

royalpain 9 years, 7 months ago

How many of these granola-munchers drove their cars out there? Seems like an awful lot of pollution could have been prevented if they all walked or rode their bicycles to the big protest!

Larry Bauerle Jr. 9 years, 7 months ago

"I bet Westar was just ecstatic over this little get together."Looking at the picture of the "dozens" of people, I'm sure they were very concerned.

imastinker 9 years, 7 months ago

Wind doesn't work al the time, and coal takes a long time to come on line or shut down. Therefore, to supplement wind generators the power companies need big natural gas generators. These are expensive to run (much more than coal) and are dirtier than coal also. The net savings for wind are not really that big.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 7 months ago

"It is also a given that solar and wind simply will not serve as a base. "No, it's not a given.

appleaday 9 years, 7 months ago

Well we all know that Westar has our best interests at heart.

calvin 9 years, 7 months ago

I am glad that the LJ World never lets facts get in the way. The 'dozens of Kansans' looks like about 20 people.

justaverage 9 years, 7 months ago

I quit listening to Greenpeace after I saw a documentary in which they were harassing off-shore oil platforms from their diesel powered ships and gasoline powered boats! Talk about a bunch of hypocrites!

ilikestuff 9 years, 7 months ago

While I'm all for reducing dependence on foreign energy sources and am theorectically in favor of phasing out fossil fuels, we need a stop-gap to compensate for the descrepancy between current technological limitations and the sentiments of those noted in the article above. We will likely need to employ the cleaner versions of fossil fuel use as is currently feasible for, most likely, a generation, as "greener" technologies are further developed. If energy conservation is the desired aim, current "green" technologies" aren't wise as they lack efficiency to replace fossil fuels. Further, as significant changes to our national infrastructure will be required it'd be most efficient to make such changes as few times as possible. Finally, albeit a bitter pill to swallow, we simply don't have available the resources to make wholesale changes even if favorable technologies were presently available.

hipper_than_hip 9 years, 7 months ago

Regarding baseline generation, do you think Greenpeace would say yes to a nuc or combustion turbine in Lawrence? I don't think so. I would bet that Westar wouldn't hesitate to close the Lawrence plant if they could build a replacement plant without all the hassle. The more people stand in the way of cleaner burning coal technology, the longer we have to live with old dirtier than necessary plants.

Chris Golledge 9 years, 7 months ago

There are solutions to the problem of solar and wind having periods of low yield. Case in point: There is a town, I believe in NM or CO, that has a municipal "money pump". They have two reservoirs, one uphill from the other. When electric rates are low, during the night, they pump water uphill. When the rates are high, they release it through turbines and sell the electricity.That might work everywhere, but it shows that there exist solutions, with well established technology, of buffering energy through low yield times, like night or when the wind is not blowing. That should negate the argument that we will always need non-replenishable energy sources.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 7 months ago

"Clean. Safe. Reliable. Nuclear."That's the propaganda, anyway.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 9 years, 7 months ago

Ha, ha, ha, this is funny. LJW pulled this article from the main page. Musta been a lot of flack at the old Simons place!!

billbodiggens 9 years, 7 months ago

When it came to Sunflower somebody in Lawrence turned to dogs loose. Now, it appears that the dogs are turning on their master. Hmmmmm.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 7 months ago

Western Kansas is looked as one of the treasure chests of wind power for the nation = dollars and cents for western Kansas property owners. Solar is all over the place and as we all know hydropower has been around for a very long time.Geo Thermal is no further away than 13th and Mass street.Using at least 4 different sources is not a new concept which makes up a team of cleaner power sources.We can always count on Coal and Nuke power sources and investors for misinformation. It is difficult to understandwhy so many would rather pay more and more instead of potentially perhaps substantially less with cleaner sources.After all if some are living in fear of terrorists why want more nuke plants?

billbodiggens 9 years, 7 months ago

cg22165 wrote about a "money pump." Cg only wishes about a money pump. It is called a "pump back" hydro electric plant.The plant will have the capacity to generate only 400 megawatts of power for six hours a day throughout the year. The $640 million project (1.6 mil per megawatt) also entails building a 12,000-15,000 acre-foot reservoir above Brush Hollow Reservoir near Penrose. A second reservoir above that one would serve as a "forebay."Water from the forebay would drop 700 feet, generating electricity as it moves through a turbine during peak demand times. During off-peak times, usually at night when power demand is low, pumps would move water from the lower reservoir back to the forebay.This project is only for a peak time small usage area. It is being built in Fremont County, Colorado, home of most of the Colorado State prison system, a large federal prison facility, and Canon City, Colorado, of the Royal Gorge fame.Be my guest in building one in Kansas. All you need is a hill with a 700 foot fall and room on the top of the hill for 15,000 acre feet of water. And, then all you have to have is no more than a 400 megawatt surge during peak power usage times. Gee, it might work in special place in northeast Kansas where the ego's are as big as Pike's Peak.

billbodiggens 9 years, 7 months ago

I suppose somebody could fly a kite into a thunderstorm for an alternative source also. But, in the mean time I would suggest that the practical be done. It is also a given that solar and wind simply will not serve as a base. Useful, but not the ultimate source and only needed source.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 7 months ago

The point, billbo, isn't that that reservoir system is the "only" solution to all energy needs everywhere- the point is that there are many possible technologies and methods that can be used, and they will vary from region to region. Relying on the same old dinosaur, unsustainable technologies is not a viable option.

Curtis Lange 9 years, 7 months ago

I am embarrassed to say I know someone in the photos associated with this story. :(

Bill Griffith 9 years, 7 months ago

Well.......these folks are certainly extremely dedicated, but I have to disagree with frwent and say they are not "dangerous" from my viewing of the photo. I think I could pass them in a dark alley without feeling I was just finishing up a mixed martial arts contest. Whether they need an alternative hobby is a different question.

Bill Griffith 9 years, 7 months ago

labmonkey states "we need more clean coal plants". We need one clean coal plant before we can desire more of them. (By definition, I mean that it will take the CO2 out of the waste stream as the EPA defines clean coal) I am also interested in your source stating we do not have enough land to replace the grid with wind energy (not that I believe we would ever do that). I don't think this statement passes muster but if you have a good source I will be glad to take a look at it. Thanks.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 9 years, 7 months ago

Extremists of any stripe are very, very dangerous. These idiots are extremist in the max. These people simply need something constructive to do rather than expousing these nitwit crusades and ignorance of reality.

Bill Griffith 9 years, 7 months ago

LM: As far as desert states go and wind production, check out what is happening in Nevada and New Mexico. 5% of electricity is certainly easily obtainable by 2020 since we are at about 10% in 2008 here in Kansas. I think you are underestimating renewable penetration as it is graphing out-let alone if a national RES is implemented next year in Congress-which it will be. I will not comment on the statement that "Liberals want others to sacrifa(i)ce without doing so themselves...". Your research is on the right track, but you seem to be stopping before it takes in all the up-to-date data. The roving blackouts in California were caused by power companies withholding power at critical times or sending it out of state and then selling it back into the California market. What saved California's bacon much of the time was the amount of energy effiicency investment they had done in the previous 15 years.

labmonkey 9 years, 7 months ago

Many new coal plants will have carbon recovery soon....although primary literature and history have shown me the book is out about man-made global warming. (Again, ice cores have shown that temperature rises first, then CO2 levels rise). Baghouses in coal plants remove nearly all the solid pollution from flue gasses, and bottom ash has been used in road construction. WIth zero liquid discharge, water is recycled throughout the plant and not placed back into the environment which removes much of the pathway for metals pollution. You complain about heavy metals pollution, yet I am sure you are for those little twisty lightbulbs that you nearly need HAZMAT training to clean up a broken bulb due to mercury (not to mention the mercury seeping out of landfills when they are thrown away). The 2.5 megawatt models are new, but still run at 25-40% operating factor...which you will never get more from a windmill. The 5 megawatt models will have to be based offshore due to their size. Even so, most of the windmills being put up now are of the 800 kilowatt variety which means it will take nearly 5000 windmills to send Marty back to 1985.A policy in which we encourage wind and solar are great (and there should be huge tax breaks for anyone who will put solar panels on their house), but right now, it will not be more than a suppliment to an already taxed power grid. The grid is so taxed and regulations make it so hard for power companies to build new plants that they themselves encourage electricity saving measures, and will even give huge subsidies themselves to people who buy air conditioners with time controlled thermostats. We do need to invest in the renewable resources, but right now we need new clean coal and nuclear plants just to keep the grid from being overtaxed. If companies cannot build here, I fear they may go to Mexico where there are no regulations and send electricity here via the grid.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 7 months ago

We don't need to and probably never will get 100 percent of our electricity from wind. But just for argument's sake, 1.1 million acres is a lot-- but the lower 48 states are comprised of nearly 2 billion acres, so using your figure, we would only need to use 5 hundredths of one percent (.05%, which is one acre in 2000) of the total US land mass for wind energy. The state of Kansas alone has more than 50 million acres, so if we used just 2% of the area of Kansas, we could supply the entire country all of its electrical needs. To put that in a perspective a little closer to home, Douglas County could meets its entire electrical needs with 150 of the relatively small turbines you use in your calculation. Which means that if they dispersed evenly across the county, they would be about a mile and half apart from each other. As for the electric grid, we wouldn't need much more than we already have in place, although the current grid is quite antiquated, and needs to be upgraded considerably no matter what sort of power generation is employed.You're not making your case very convincingly, labmonkey.

Bill Griffith 9 years, 7 months ago

Many interesting comments on this article. I am going to comment on one that seems to get bandied that is a lazy and incorrect assertion that you have to have 100% or so back-up for windpower. If this was true then wind facilities wouldn't be built and a firm would simply build the back-up plant and enlarge it some. To explain a little deeper let's use our favorite whipping boy-Westar. Let's say Westar has about a 5000MW load and they plan to build 500 MW of wind. This would represent 10% of name plate capacity. Given the variability of wind the real production might actually be 200 MW (500 times .40). To get 10% of Westar's real output of 5000 MW you could build over 1200 MW of wind. You would then back this up with 120 MW of natural gas-NOT 1200(!). This would be like building a 480 MW coal plant. This is done in many countries and is a standard practice. Back-up power is often called "spinning reserve" and a good spinning reserve number for Kansas is around 10%.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 7 months ago

Well, as long as you want to throw up strawman arguments (wind can't supply 100% of our electricity needs, so it should be ignored,) there isn't much room for an actual discussion. But even if we did get ALL our electricity from wind, and even if it took 11 million acres instead of your guess of 1.1 million acres, it would only require 1/2 of 1% of the entire land mass of the US. We already very likely use that much for all the existing power generation capacity and the coal mines and uranium mines and existing grid. One thing your calculations also exclude is the very real probability of offshore wind farms, where 5 MW (and larger) turbines will be located. And guess how much land they take?Your mathematical scare tactics just don't add up.

NoSpin 9 years, 7 months ago

20 degrees below normal- global warming took a day off!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 7 months ago

Coal will never be "clean" because of its output of CO2, not to mention the heavy metals that even the latest "clean" coal plants still emit in significant quantities.As far as wind turbines go, there are currently 2.5 megawatt models in operation, and it won't be long before there are 5 megawatt models in operation. And beyond that, fairly small turbines can be placed in industrial and commercial sites, and their excess capacity would be fed onto the grid.If we were really serious, it wouldn't take much more than the $700 billion banker bailout has cost us to supply almost 100% of our electricity needs from wind, solar, hydroelectric and other sustainable, minimally polluting sources.Unfortunately, we have more greedy vested interests than we do imagination and political will.

Bill Griffith 9 years, 7 months ago

LM, your statement alluding to Gore flying to Bali to work on a climate treaty was hypocritical due to the carbon emissions that were emitted for his trip, remind me of my own history somewhat. At times I have been known to journey to Topeka to testify at the legislature on various energy issues and I did not walk, I drove my car. I took personal leave time from work to do this as well-which is a sacrifice in my book, plus my own fuel expenses as well. Is this hypocritical on my part in attempting to advance the energy debate since I did emit carbon emissions on these endeavors?

labmonkey 9 years, 7 months ago

Bozo-How are you able to run a computer to type posts if you dont use electricity? Wind and solar are good suppliments to the grid, but they are hardly a replacement. Contrary to what the "dozens" of greenpeace people will tell you, clean coal is very clean. The technology is actually getting to the point that we can use poorer quality coal and still remove 99% of NOx and SO2 from the flue gasses. The only thing that goes out the stack is water. And now, most new coal plants have to have a zero discharge system which means that it recycles all the water needed to run the turbines which eliminates thermal pollution which effects local ecosystems. Most wind turbines can only produce less than one megawatt of electricity and operate at a capacity factor (actual amount of electricity over time/power produced if operated at 100% capacity) of 25-40%. Most coal fired units can produce 500-1000 megawatts and have a capacity factor of up to 80%...and nuclear units can produce over 1300 megawatts with even a higher capacity factor. That means that you would need at least 2500 windmills to replace one coal-fired unit (and many power plants have more than one unit). We do not have enough land in this country to replace the grid with wind energy. As for solar, the technology is getting better, but the largest current plant (in Spain) only produces 23 megawatts. There are plans to build an 800 megawatt solar plant in California, but it will cover 12.5 square miles with mirrors...but that is only in the middle of a sunny day.Right now, we tax the grid as it is. We need more clean-coal and nuclear plants.

persevering_gal 9 years, 7 months ago

Could we also form a protest in regards to the 11% rate increase?

Jennifer Forth 9 years, 7 months ago

Been on campus lately? The flags on Fraser are a pretty good indicator of how wind power could generate lighting and much more for KU while significantly decreasing the costs!

labmonkey 9 years, 7 months ago

These nutbags shouldn't be given the attention. I worked for a chemical company in 2002, and on September 11, 2002, we had extra security...not due to foreign terrorists, but the domestic terrorist organization Greenpeace threatened to break into chemical plants.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 7 months ago

According to this site average size turbine installed in 2006 was 1.6 MW, and the average installed price of such a unit would be $1.6 million. So, if you mulitply that times the 150 of them that it would take to supply 100% of all the power Douglas County electrical needs, that comes to about $240 million. That is approximately the same as Douglas County's share of the tab for the $700 Billion bailout package, and about 1/4 of our share of tab for the Iraq War, so far.

labmonkey 9 years, 7 months ago find enough farmers who want to give up that much land not only for windmills, but for the powerlines needed. Most of my estimates were on the generous side of windmills (megawatt size, acres etc...) so it will probably be more. Yes, 1.1 million acres is small compared to the size of the United States, but you have to find that 1.1 million acres that is suitable and unpopulated. (Wind needs to be 16-60 mph for the turbines to produce electricity). The whole of the Southeast is unsuitable due to wind conditions, the northeast is too populated as well as a combination of population, lack of suitable places, and forests rule out much of the west coast and desert states. That means the 1.1 million acres would have to come primarily from the mid-west, and I don't really see that many farmers giving up their land. And wind is never guaranteed to produce electricity whereas that coal or nuclear plant run constantly (with the exception of maintance outages). Liberals want others to sacriface without doing so themselves (kind of like conservatives and their morals). I am not against wind and solar as a suppliment, and 5% of electricity from renewable energy is easily obtainable by 2020. I would like to just see common sense used in energy policy. Conservatives are "drill baby drill," whereas liberals want to produce electricity from magic and demand that others sacriface while they themselves don't (i.e. Al Gore and all of those people who flew to Bali for the UN conference). Clean coal and Nuclear are needed....although roving blackouts of California do make me laugh.

labmonkey 9 years, 7 months ago

belexus-That is different. I mean no disrespect, but you probably aren't important enough that someone would listen to you if you didn't drive to Topeka. If they wanted to have the UN conference, they could have used the power of Al Gore's internet and had a huge videoconference. Same discussion, less pollution, less hypocracy. Bozo-Maybe you should reread my last post. I did say that 5% from renewable resources is easily obtainable by 2020. Does that really sound like "Well, as long as you want to throw up strawman arguments (wind can't supply 100% of our electricity needs, so it should be ignored,) there isn't much room for an actual discussion." to you? And I wasn't trying math scare tactics. Someone called me out when I said there wasn't enough land, so I looked it up and did some math to see how much land it would take. I see no strawman argument in my comments. I did mention the 5 megawatt turbines in a previous post. But since I dont fall into line with your far-left ideology, you gloss over what I posted and make conjecture about my arguments. Read someone's posts before you dismiss them you moron.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 7 months ago

" I did say that 5% from renewable resources is easily obtainable by 2020."That's easily obtainable within a couple of years, if we really want. Saying it's obtainable by 2020 is tantamount to totally ignoring it. Now that, my friend, is moronic.

Bill Griffith 9 years, 7 months ago

LM, I would disagree that the "same discussion" could be had by videoconferencing. When dealing with complex negotiations, representatives and attendees spend time between official events at conferences making their point(s) to others and sway/get swayed to certain positions. I have found face-to-face much more effective if the issues at that particular meeting are dealt with in person. People are also social animals and a certain amount trust and rapport can be gained in person as opposed to videoconferencing. For lesser decisions or meetings videoconferencing and conference calls are a good choice.

idarastar 9 years, 7 months ago

I drove past the Tecumseh Westar Plant. It scared me. Warning signs about fog everywhere. I couldn't even breathe there. I felt sorry for the people that have to live across the street from the plant.

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