Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Want to build a power plant?


I hear India might be in the market for an integrated team of planners, designers and constructors capable of delivering new power plants!

Second Grid Failure in 2 Days in India

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Monday, July 30, 2012

The Energy Revolution ... Professor Mead


Professor Mead provides excellent insights into the energy revolution now underway.  This column fits nicely as a follow on to the King Coal post from yesterday and the piece linked to earlier today on the grid crash and blackout in Northern India.

Here's a great quote to whet your appetite.  You will definitely want to read the whole thing.

In other words, a newly oil rich United States is going to fight even harder against global green carbon policies, and the new discoveries will tilt the American political system even farther in the direction of capitalist oil companies. 
Capitalism is not, Monbiot is forced to admit, a fragile system that will easily be replaced. Bolstered by huge supplies of oil, it is here to stay. Industrial civilization is, as far as he can now see, unstoppable. Gaia, that treacherous slut, has made so much oil and gas that her faithful acolytes today cannot protect her from the consequences of her own folly. 
Welcome to the New Green Doom: an overabundance of oil and gas is going to release so much greenhouse gas that the world is going to fry. The exploitation of the oil sands in Alberta, warn leading environmentalists, is a tipping point. 


The Energy Revolution

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Electric Grid Crashes in India


People are suffering the sweltering heat with no electricity in Northern India as a result of the grid crashing.  Many parts of the US will experience similar failures if  fail and refuse to build new generation power plants.  The new EPA regulations that make it unprofitable to run a coal fired power plant - as President Obama promised when he was running for office - combined with the oil & gas industry's successful tapping of shale gas reserves all over the country indicate natural gas fired power plants are likely our best option.

In India they have vast coal reserves and coal would be the most economical choice, but India has had a hard time attracting firms willing to build such plants.  I'd like to know why India has been unable to build enough new power plants to keep up with economic growth and what the country plans to do to avoid similar crashes in the future.

The AP article is linked below.  This event highlights the importance of the earlier post about King Coal and shines a spotlight on the situation in India.  Any readers with insights are encouraged to chime in in the comments section or email me directly.

370 Million Indians Swelter


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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Old King Coal

I've discussed the dreaded failure of peak-oil to materialize with many of my green friends over the years.  We must, of course, be good stewards of the environment and should press for increased efficiency and productivity here ever possible.  What we should not do, in my humble opinion, is stride to the top of a ladder, insert our economic necks in a noose and then scream at China, India, and other countries with rapidly developing economies that we will jump if they don't agree to reduce their carbon emissions.

Europe has already tightened the noose and has been leaning against the rope to see how much oxygen they can cut off to their brain / economy and still survive.  It's as if they are engaged in a bizarre economic version of sexual asphyxia whereby they seek to heighten the pleasure resulting from the implementation of orgasmic policies designed to deprive their economies of oxygen as those policies - like carbon emission reductions, green energy initiatives etc. - are tested on grander and grander scales.

U.S leaders climbed up and down the ladder and played with the rope for years, but it wasn't until the Obama administration that certain sectors of the economy were fitted for nooses and those nooses were tightened.  The oil and gas industry was fitted for a noose but caste it off because private property owners in the Marcellus, Bakken and Eagle Ford shale plays invited them to drill.  Canadian production of oil sands also helped.  The Obama administration did reduce drilling in the Gulf via draconian regulation and has refused, to date, to tap resources in Alaska and elsewhere.

The coal industry - which Obama promised to bankrupt when he ran for office - has been fitted with a noose and pushed off the ladder by the EPA.  They are now dangling from the rope, thrashing about, and kicking existing coal fired power plants offline in the process.  Nuclear power plants are also failing and the strain on the national electricity grid is beginning to show.

China and India will soon cut the rope and revive the coal industry, but the coal companies will have to ship thousands and thousands of jobs overseas to take advantage of those opportunities.  The charts that accompany this post highlight the folly of believing either China or India will ever cower at that alter of Mother Gaia along side the greens who worship her.

China and India, the two beasts in the east, are committed to coal for the foreseeable future.  Promoting and supporting the use of natural gas and / or nuclear fired power plants in China and India would do more to reduce pollution - the REAL problem - than threatening to hang ourselves ever will.




Green advocates should embrace natural gas as it is much cleaner than Coal.


The chart below makes it painfully obvious China and India have hitched their economies to coal and, as the greens learned in south Africa and Brazil, they have absolutely no intention of taking their foot off the pedal of their economies.  That means coal fired power plants will continue to be built in both countries at a rapid pace.  The question for those of us who advocate increasing efficiency AND a cleaner environment is what can we do to ameliorate the effects of those plants or make those plants better?  Ignoring the problem will not make it go away.
If Greenpeace cannot defeat a Japanese Whaling ship how will they stop China?

Meanwhile, shale oil and shale gas have emerged as a mortal danger to the green movement's plans.

The green movement's use of global warming - or the specter thereof - to justify the imposition of massive carbon taxes via Koyoto and its progeny has failed.  Especially when it comes to changing policy in China, India and other developing companies.  The chart to the right shows exactly why.


Shale oil and shale gas are now so widely available and so readily extracted at such low prices that the continued exploitation of those resources is unavoidable. Further, watermelon greens - those who are green on the outside and red on the inside - whose virulent hatred of capitalism drives their daily thoughts, need to keep the chart below in mind.  It shows the vast majority of the world's known oil reserves are controlled by nation states, not "evil" private oil companies.  That means those nation states who have no regard for private property rights - or the Kyoto treaty - will push forward with the extraction and exploitation of vast reserves of shale oil and shale gas now known to exist all over the world.



The carbon emission bubble is bursting.  Oil and gas reserves are going to be exploited, and the Al Gores of the world, who got rich off the carbon emission scheme, are going to have a find another hobby horse.

Damn that Gaia!  She sure is making it hard to protect her.



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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Natural Gas Prices Headed to $8+?


The article excerpted and linked below argues we are headed to $8+ natural gas.  The > $2.00 per unit prices from the spring are being driven higher by a number of factors, not the least of which is a full 32% of our electricity is now being generated by natural gas fired power plants, the same percentage as those fired by coal.

The article contains a lot of very interesting information and I encourage you to read the whole thing.  Hat tip to Andrew Abernathy in Arizona, the author of the very interesting My Strings Blog.  An excerpt follows:

The British Thermal Unit (btu) equivalent of one barrel of oil equals six thousand cubic feet of natural gas. Therefore if gas at $3.00 per mcf were to be at energy parity with oil, then oil would sell for $18.00. But WTI sells at $90 bbl. So gas must get more expensive or oil will get cheaper. As the gas rig count dwindles and evidence mounts that at least some of the shale plays are depleting much faster than projected, the result has been the aforementioned much lower than normal stockpile injection rates. With the disparity between oil and gas prices at such extremes, all available capital will continue to flow into drilling for gas liquids and oil. Some of the remaining dry gas drilling is probably just to maintain lease rights.  Newton’s 3rd Law of Thermodynamics says for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Natural Gas at $13.28 is too high and the April price of $1.89 is too low. The rubber band is becoming stretched in the direction of tight supply. It’s too cheap to drill for, so supplies will further dwindle until inexorably the shortage occurs and prices spike irrationally higher. That time is sooner than later.

Link to the Article

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Microgrids are working


Microgids are a really important piece of the sustainability.

Link

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fracking leading to lower CO2 Emissions?


CO2 Emissions in the US declined dramatically over the past 15+ years.  The best explanation, other than our stagnant economy, seems to be an increase in fracking which has led to a massive increase in low cost natural case.  Power generation plants, which traditionally burn coal, appear to be turning to natural gas as a cheaper, cleaner alternative.

Plunge in CO2 Output

Again, advocates of IPD, BIM and lean processes need to focus on the energy sector.  Increasing the efficiency with which oil & gas companies explore for, extract, transport and process oil & gas represents an excellent opportunity to positively impact the environment, the economy and the lives of billions of poor people all over the world.


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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Investing in Fracking Guar Beans


Interesting article below on the increased demand for Guar beans, grown mainly in remote arid regions of northwestern India.  Poor farmers in the region are experiencing pleasant hikes in the price of the bean as it, in powdered form, is a key ingredient in many fracking solutions.

Guar Beans for Fracking

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Mining Asteroids


Collaborative Construction has been paying close attention to the natural resource sector over the past couple of years.  I've written dozens of oil & gas related posts, but have not delved very deeply into mining yet.  In January I presented three collaborative workshops in Western Canada and came away impressed with the Canadian government's approach to developing its natural resources.  Consequently, I began to investigate and explore issues of potential interest to built industry professionals in my network, and for whom Collaborative Construction provides services.

I am now convinced that the mining sector, like oil & gas sector, would benefit from the involvement of built industry professionals who understand the value of IPD, BIM and lean processes and are familiar with the AEC sector's struggles to deploy those tools.  Accordingly, over the next few months I will be blogging a bit about the mining sector.

This post, which will be followed by a post on deep sea gold mining, involves the search for mineral resources off planet.  Two companies, Planetary Resources, Inc. and Virgin Galactic LLC signed an agreement where by Planetary Resources, Inc. will provide Virgin Galactic with low earth orbit launch services.  Planetary Resources long term goal is to mine Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs) which contain significant quantities of precious metals.

Don't dismiss these efforts as science fiction.  Space X, a company founded by PayPal founder Eon Musk, just delivered 1,300 pounds of supplies to the International Space Station.  After NASA retired the Space Shuttle, the delivery of supplies to the International Space Station was temporarily outsourced to the Russians, who successfully supplied the station until the successful launch, May 22, 2012, of the Falcon 9 rocket.

These companies are on the cutting edge of space exploration and the mining of NEAs offers a tangible profit motive.  Space X is offering a private alternative for the launch of satellites, Virgin Galactic is offering space tourism, and Planetary Resources is seeking commercially viable ways to develop natural resources in space.   It all sounds like a very interesting and collaborative start to a new industry to me!

Planetary Resources and Virgin Galactic Ink Deal

P.S.  While Collaborative Construction intends to keep an eye on the nascent deep sea and space mining industries the real action will likely be ground based for the foreseeable future.  We will keep you posted regardless.


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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Don't Pave a Cow Path

At least not if you and your company intend to stay on horseback from a technology perspective.  The cow path comment came from the CIO of Bechtel Group, Inc. and reminded me of an integration timeline I'm putting together.  Old and new technologies co-exist in many ways, but we must continue to make progress.


More firms are making new apps because today's technology is making that easier, added Dennis Sheldon, AIA, CTO of Gehry Technologies of Los Angeles. Web Services protocols are making it easier for this to happen. 
Sheldon said he disagreed with the notion that more firms are building their own apps "because tech isn't doing what you want it to do." Instead, he countered, "the emerging paradigm in technology is that you do what you want with it. I think people are moving (shall we say) away from this idea that a product comes in a box and you install it, and if you don't like that one than you get a different one." The boundaries of technology are starting to erode.  "We're seeing this with YouTube and Facebook getting plugged into each other by design," for example. "The common infrastructure of the open standards: that's the operating systems, that's the application. This is the mashup concept."

Read the whole thing

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Obamacare explained





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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Unleashing the North American Energy Colossus


The report linked and excerpted below is a very interesting read.  Economic reality dictates that advocates of IPD, BIM and lean processes substantively engage the energy industry in a responsible and timely manner.  The two Americas worth of expanded energy consumption mentioned in the report requires immediate attention.  Renewable energy is critical and deserves careful and continued support and development.  But the reality is the billions of people scrambling up the economic ladder globally deserve affordable and dependent energy.  Renewable energy, at this point, is neither.

The excerpts below come from the Executive Summary of the report.  The entire report deserves your attention.


An affirmative policy to expand extraction and export capabilities for all hydrocarbons over the next two decades could yield as much as $7 trillion of value to the North American economy, with $5 trillion of that accruing to the United States, including generating $1–$2 trillion in tax receipts to federal and local governments. Such a policy would also create millions of jobs rippling throughout the economy. While it would require substantial capital investment, essentially all of that would come from the private sector.

***

In collaboration with Canada and Mexico, the United States could—and should—forge a broad pro-development, pro-export policy to realize the benefits of our hydrocarbon resources. Such a policy could lead to North America becoming the largest supplier of fuel to the world by 2030. For the U.S., the single most effective policy change would be to emulate Canada’s solution for permitting major energy projects: create a one-portal, one-permit federal policy for all permits

***

The projected growth in total world energy demand through 2030 is equal to an additional two Americas’ worth of consumption. Every credible forecast shows hydrocarbons fueling the major share of that growth, as they have in the past. While alternative energy has grown rapidly, the overall contribution to U.S. and world supply remains de minimus and stays that way in every credible future scenario. 


Unleashing the North American Energy Colossus



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Monday, July 9, 2012

The Energy Revolution - winners & losers


The article excerpted and linked below delves into the geopolitical ramifications of shale oil and shale gas discoveries occurring around the globe.  It is well worth your time.

While the chattering classes yammered on about American decline and peak oil, a quite different future is taking shape. A world energy revolution is underway and it will be shaping the realities of the 21st century when the Crash of 2008 and the Great Stagnation that followed only interest historians.  A new age of abundance for fossil fuels is upon us.  And the center of gravity of the global energy picture is shifting from the Middle East to… North America.

The Energy Revolution

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

BIM for little people


An enduring misconception associated with the value and use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) and and Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) is that these tools only work on large project and only large firms have the resources and where-with-all to effectively deploy these tools.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Small agile firms enjoy great success when utilizing BIM and IPD and small project benefit tremendously from the use of these tools.  Custom home builders routinely deploy integrated teams and operate in a quasi-IPD environment.  Combining existing IPD structures by joining forces with BIM enabled design firms gives such home builders a real advantage in the market place.

For readers interested in delving further into the issue I'm linking to a blog post by my friend Bob Heyman with SUMMIT BIM out of Vancouver who, in turn, links to an interesting piece by David Miller in the UK who has yet another persepctive.

The bottom line?  BIM & IPD work for firms and projects of all sizes.

BIM IS for small firms

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Israel to capitalize on new oil & gas reserves


Israel has discovered additional oil & gas off shore.

Last week, Israel Opportunity Energy Resources LP discovered an offshore oil and gas field with an estimated 1.4 billion barrels of oil and 6.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.


When combined with the enormous reserves in the Leviathan formation, also off shore, the Israelis may be sitting on oil & gas reserves that rival those found in Saudi Arabia and extend known reverses in other areas of the middle east.

This will continue the ongoing shake up of the geopolitical chess board in the region.  These reserves, combined with the so-called Arab Spring, provides significant fuel for speculation in the region.

An Energy Giant in the Making?

UPDATED.  Professor Mead has a piece up that is more thorough and more well documented than the initial piece to which I linked.  The excerpt below comes from his blog post, linked below.

Gas is one thing, but potential for huge shale oil reserves under Israel itself, however, is a new twist. According to the World Energy Council, a leading global energy forum with organizations and affiliates in some 93 countries, Israel may have the third largest shale oil reserves in the world: something like 250 billion barrels. (The US and China are both believed to have larger shale oil reserves, with the US believed to have the equivalent of well over 1 trillion barrels of potentially recoverable shale and China having perhaps one third of that amount. Canada’s Athabaskan oil sands reserves may contain the equivalent of 2 trillion of barrels conventional oil, or more than all the conventional oil known to exist in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran combined.) If the estimates of Israeli shale oil are correct, Israel’s gas and shale reserves put its total energy reserves in the Saudi class, though Israel’s energy costs more to extract.

Israel's Emergence as an Energy Superpower Makes Waves


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Monday, July 2, 2012

Graphene... is there anything it cannot do?



Desalination might sound boring, but it’s super important. Around 97% of the planet’s water is saltwater and therefore unpotable, and while you can remove the salt from the water, the current methods of doing so are laborious and expensive. Graphene stands to change all that by essentially serving as the world’s most awesomely efficient filter. If you can increase the efficiency of desalination by two or three orders of magnitude (that is to say, make it 100 to 1,000 times more efficient) desalination suddenly becomes way more attractive as a way to obtain drinking water. 
Desalination works exactly as you might expect; you run water through a filter with pores small enough to block the salt and not the water. It’s a process called reverse osmosis. The issue is that the thicker your filter is, the less efficient the process is going to be. If you know anything about graphene, you know where this is going. Graphene sheets are one atom thick. It’s sort of a best case scenario. Because it’s nanoporous and so insanely thin, it can let water (but not salt) through it without requiring the comparatively high levels of pressure that current filters do.

Read the whole thing

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Truthland v Gasland


Many readers have seen the documentary Gasland that purports to detail the problems associated with fracking natural gas wells.  A Pennsylvania dairy farmer and her family were worried about the impact on their land and investigated.  The results of her investigation are set forth in a documentary called Truthland.  You can watch the documentary below and visit the Truthland website at the link below.

Truthland provides an interesting counterpoint to the Gasland documentary and is, I think, worth your time.  Truthland was funded by the natural gas industry and tilts in favor of fracking.  But the tilting is less dramatic than the tilting against fracking on display in Gasland.  Again, the 35 minute clip is well worth your time if you are interested in being informed.



Truthland Website

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