From my understanding it's an article about a family owned business supplying coal for a newly launched coal power plant in a remote Alaskan college town.
There were 4 quotes from the article:
1- From a representative of the college (good)
2- From an analyst who did not participate in this situation making a report that is totally unrelated to this news piece
3- From an analyst commenting on the news piece
4- From the company's website
There were no interviews with the residents. Nothing about the business supplying the coal. No comments from students. No mention of town halls or different sides.
Am I just becoming an old crabby guy or was this... lacking something?
But it was lacking any depth.
It seemed one sided. But I can't even call it that. It didn't even give a side. It was more like... hearsay with a single interview, probably on the phone, with 1 person on the ground. Even then, they could have published the interview for some depth. But not even that. Hell, probably browsing local facebook groups/reddits or calling their local municipality/college associations you could find more information with a few hours of free time. It's... surreal in terms of how shallow it was.
I mean, don't get me wrong, I'd fully expect a tabloid to publish trash rag stuff, but... I'm seeing it more now in major publications, and even oddly shared on sites like this.
I'm just... I just find it odd.
Could be that an overloaded author, sitting at a Bloomberg desk, was assigned the story ... with no experience in energy, and given nothing to to work with but a couple of local Alaskan newpaper clips. Maybe muttering to himself while he typed.
a) does the new build bring any new capacity to the grid
b) what is the CO2 emissions per kWh
c) how does that compare to the old plant
I don’t have time to read the article right now, perhaps it explains?
Yes a typical nuclear power plant would average 1 GW, so to me, the smallness of the coal plant and its exorbitant price should be the core facts of the article.
Maybe due to the remoteness of the location, they couldn't build an offshore wind farm and send the electricity over the grid (although I'm skeptical that they put enough energy into exploring this option).
Someday we'll probably be drying algae, hemp, switchgrass or peat as feedstock for these legacy fossil fuel plants.
I didn't RFQ, but I'm guessing below $1M...
They need this and a storage tank.
Here's another: $125K per 1.7 mW..
The story should be about gross tuitions at pubic universities..
More details on the "cleanliness" of this new plant:
3% less CO2 than the old plant
"very low" PM2.5 emissions
There is a few areas in super remote locations within Alaska where the ground is literally on fire. Building geothermal plants would be a clean way of capturing and producing power for the entire state. The problem is that the areas are so remote that running transmission lines would cost ~$1M/mile and go across some pretty inhospitable land.
I had the idea of building the plant and then housing cryptocurrency mines, on site in containers, to literally generate the revenue to build the transmission lines. The problem being of course that in order to that, it would require quite a bit of capex based on a pretty volatile market. Not really an ideal investment.
Anyway, just thought it would be a fun story to share here. Cheers.
At least it's efficient.
Under "bio-mass" did they consider burning local wood? At least it would be carbon neutral...
Regardless, burning a tree is only carbon neutral if you actually plant more trees, and probably a LOT more trees, since the tree you burnt was presumably more mature and it still takes a long time for trees to grow. Moreso, you can achieve carbon neutrality with fossil fuels through the exact same mechanism - burn coal, then plant trees.
Obviously other sources of energy are better than burning wood, but efficiently burning wood is better than burning coal or oil.
This sort of application is where one of the smallest Small Modular Reactor designs would theoretically be great, but nobody is offering a commercial SMR yet. All SMR designs are still in the R&D phase. The smallest commercially available power reactor designs start at hundreds of megawatts, which is far larger than the 17 MW the campus needed.
They both sound simple on paper but in reality they'd probably cost more than the natural gas pipeline Fairbanks wishes it had.
When public institutions engage in infrastructure projects they need to do a massive amount of work to ensure their ass is completely and totally covered from every angle. Trying to do something off the beaten path, like go nuclear, is a recipe for lengthy court battles and cost overruns. Blazing that trail is best left to the wealthy universities. Modern micro scale nuclear reactors and power stations built out of surplus hardware would be cool but there's a massive cost disadvantage for the first mover.
Total enrollment is 10k students. We’re firing up a replacement coal plant, which is not paying for its CO2, mercury, and uranium emission externalities, for 10k students.
Something to ponder, though: how much CO2 would be emitted if you shut down the university, and had to build the infrastructure to house and educate those 10k students elsewhere? Building a campus of that size would likely cost >$1 billion and would itself involve lots of emissions from concrete and power generation. And even once constructed, base power generation would still likely use fossil fuels. Natural gas is a far sight better than coal, but it still emits CO2 when burned.
My gut, given these considerations, is that it's much more environmentally friendly to use existing infrastructure and replace this coal-fueled plant with a more efficient coal-fueled plant, which is exactly what the university is doing.
Weird example, I would expect more compassion from most people for that scenario. Criticizing coal plants is common but criticizing people for living on Hawaii seems.. unusual.
I meant somewhere like the Marshall Islands, where there’s nothing.
Anyway, criticism for living somewhere like the Marshall Islands, while perhaps rationally warranted, is very rare to actually see compared to criticism for coal plants. So this is still a bizarre example.
Edit: I take no issue with the people of Hawaii, and that was not the example I intended.
10,000 people is a non-trivial number. Constructing a new 10,000-student-sized university somewhere is also going to need some surrounding infrastructure to support it, which Fairbanks already has, and which (presumably) the new place doesn't have.
If you want to just ship them somewhere else, I doubt that there are openings for 10,000 students in all the universities in the western half of the US.
And if you want to just have those 10,000 students not get an education in preference to building a power plant, feel free to get lost.
At no point did I say these students shouldn’t receive an education. I’m arguing about the wasteful use of resources to be educated in a specific (edit: clean, renewable) energy resource poor location.
We did examine both the operating and fuel costs of a gas option. It costs less to build a gas plant; however, gas is a more expensive fuel than coal. All our models are just that -- models -- because there is currently not a reliable source of gas. Using today's prices, our fuel costs with the new boiler would be about $5.3 million each year. Fuel costs at current gas prices would be about $20 million a year. Until a low-cost, reliable supply of gas becomes a reality in Fairbanks, a gas option is not viable.
I'd vote myself for something nuclear if the other options are unavailable but the investment required to make it work is outrageous, especially if it'll be servicing such a small population.
Before opting for coal, the school looked into using liquid natural gas, wind and solar, bio-mass and a host of other options. None of them penciled out, said Mike Ruckhaus, a senior project manager at the university.
(1) This is not pop sci : https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S00063... - it's a research article resulting from a collaboration between 2 universities
(2) The paper mentions pesticides but also mentions climate change (global warming due to high-carbon), also mention intensive agriculture.
(3) usage of pesticide is highly linked with C02 pollution and climate change. You cannot consider one without not considering the other.
(4) How do insects thrived in warm high-carbon eras? I'd be happy to read papers on this