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Extraordinary Potential of Fusion

October 21, 2014

Lockheed Martin made an astonishing claim on October 15, that they had developed an approach that would make energy from fusion a reality in the next decade or so.

Fusion has long been the Holy Grail of nuclear physics.

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), has been a multinational project for developing a fusion reactor. The project has been funded by seven countries, including the United Sates.

Suddenly, in addition to ITER, there are two new approaches for developing a fusion reactor.

There is the Lockheed announcement, and a project under development by the University of Washington that was announced last spring.

Simply stated, fusion is the process of two atoms fusing together when subjected to tremendous heat and pressure, and where the combination creates new atoms and releases huge amounts of energy.

Fusion is the opposite of fission. Fission is where an atom is split and releases large quantities of energy. All current nuclear reactors use fission, the splitting of atoms, to generate the heat to produce steam that drives turbine generators that produce electricity.

The basic problem in developing a fusion reactor is that it has required more energy to control the plasma in which the reaction takes place, than the amount of energy produced by the reaction.

The proposals from Lockheed and UW will supposedly create ten times more energy than the energy required to run the process.

The Lockheed lab unit, called the compact fusion reactor (CFR), is only a few square feet in size. It supposedly can be increased in size so that a 100 MW reactor would measure around 23 by 43 feet, and could be mounted on a trailer.

All of this is highly theoretical, and Lockheed admits it will take five years in which to develop a prototype. They also say it will take an additional ten years to produce a working installation.

Needless to say, many scientists are very skeptical of the Lockheed announcement.

The University of Washington design uses a concept called a “spheromak” that drives the electrical currents into the plasma to create the magnetic fields to contain the plasma.

The University of Washington experimental unit is about one-tenth the size of an operational unit, so an operational unit would fit into a space of less than 60 by 60 feet.

More importantly, according to researchers at the University, a large working unit would cost slightly less than a coal-fired power plant of equal output, or about $2,700 per KW.

Then there is ITER, a project that has benefitted from 20 years of previous experimentation with Tokamak coils.

ITER Tokamak from ITER Web Site

ITER Tokamak from ITER Web Site

The Tokamak design utilizes a vacuum vessel, shaped like a huge donut, with a massive magnetic field constraining the plasma.

The entire Tokamak unit, consisting of electromagnets, vacuum vessel, blanket modules, solenoid (transformer) and correction coils, is contained in a cryogenic vessel, depicted above, which is essentially a thermal insulating blanket, 91 feet tall, 89 feet in diameter, and weighing 23,000 tons.

Thus far, it has cost $50 billion. The ITER construction and development program is to take until around 2030, and is intended to merely prepare for the building of a demonstration power plant.

The Lockheed and University of Washington programs have the potential to develop fusion power generation more rapidly than the ITER project, and at far less cost.

Fusion power generation holds out the prospect of unlimited power using easily obtained materials, deuterium, i.e., heavy water, and tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen. The deuterium is separated from water, while the tritium can be produced in existing nuclear reactors using lithium rods in place of control rods. It may also be possible to produce tritium from within the fusion reactor using lithium.

Diagram from ITER

Diagram from ITER

Only small quantities of deuterium and tritium are required, with Lockheed estimating that a mere 25 pounds of deuterium and tritium, combined, will be needed to operate a 1,000 MW power plant for a year.

While the potential of fusion is staggering, the facts are not very encouraging.

When compared with the work being done by Lockheed and the University of Washington, the ITER project would seem to be an expensive boondoggle, where success could take many decades.

The Lockheed announcement consisted of more hype than substance, and Lockheed will need to answer many questions before its proposal can be taken seriously.

The University of Washington’s proposal, however, has been couched in conservative terms, and the announcement last spring was not given much attention. If a prototype could be developed in five years, as the Lockheed team is claiming for its approach, it would seem very worthwhile to supply the needed funding.

DOE has provided grants for many bad ideas, but this one has the potential to change the world.

The consequences of fusion power will be examined in the next article.

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Impact of Electric Vehicles on Grid

October 17, 2014

While EVs and PHEVs are still few in number, we should understand their effect on the grid if their numbers grow significantly.

Remember, hybrids, i.e., HEVs such as the Prius, do not affect the grid.

The following are some potential hidden costs of EVs and PHEVs.

1. Cost of building new power plants to supply the additional electricity needed for recharging batteries

2. Cost of replacing distribution and substation transformers as loads increase from charging batteries

From top left clockwise, transmission lines, sub-station, overhead distribution transformers and distribution lines, underground pad mounted transformers for underground distribution. Photos by D. Dears

From top left clockwise, transmission lines, sub-station, overhead distribution transformers and distribution lines, underground pad mounted transformers for underground distribution. Photos by D. Dears

Item 1:

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) determined that 73% of the existing cars in the lower 48 states, or 142 million vehicles, not including trucks, could be EVs and PHEVs before it would be necessary to build new power plants.

While this would mean that EVs and PHEVs wouldn’t require new power plants until many years in the future, the PNNL study assumed that recharging would be spread throughout the 24-hour day, filling the valleys when the regular load was below the peak. This essentially assumed that the system could be operated at its peak available load throughout the day, which is unrealistic.

Restricting battery charging to off-peak hours reduces the number of vehicles before new power plants are needed to approximately 78 million vehicles.

Assuming the PNNL study is correct, it will be many years before EVs and PHEVs will require the building of new power plants.

There are two caveats to this conclusion:

  • EVs and PHEVs aren’t concentrated in a small number of metropolitan areas
  • Recharging is done at night and not primarily during the day, especially during periods where the grid is operating near its peak

Studies have not yet been done to ascertain the effect of EVs and PHEVs if they are concentrated in various metropolitan areas or where charging is done during the day.

Governments and environmental organizations encourage the building of charging stations in downtown areas so that vehicles can be charged away from home, during the day.

If 240-volt charging stations, costing $2,500 each, are used to charge batteries, with charging spread out over several hours from 8 am to 5 pm, charging will take place during peak periods. If people use rapid charging for only an hour, with charging stations that cost $25,000, the charging load will be greater, and, depending on when the daily peak occurs, could be done during peak periods.

Charging batteries downtown during the day will require building new power plants sooner rather than later.

While EVs and PHEVs are still small in number, the effect of charging during the day needs further study, especially in areas where these vehicles are concentrated.

The key is whether charging during the day increases the peak and encroaches on reserve margins.

Item 2:

When distribution and substation transformers become overloaded, they fail.

The distribution transformer is the green box sitting in the yard of a home or the blue or grey-can hanging from a utility pole down the street.

When a distribution transformer becomes overloaded and fails, it cuts the electricity to all the homes being served by the transformer. It can take several hours to replace failed units. Condos and apartments have significantly larger distribution transformers located on the property to supply all the residences.

Substation transformers supply distribution transformers and as the load on the distribution transformers increases, the load on substation transformers also increases.

Each residential distribution transformer supplies the electricity to four or five homes, and is usually a 25, 371/2 or 50 KVA unit, depending on the number of homes being served and the electrical load in those homes.

It’s difficult to determine how many EVs or PHEVs can be garaged (and recharged) in homes served by a distribution transformer before the distribution transformer becomes overloaded and causes an outage.

The existing load on distribution transformers is unknown to virtually every utility.

Homeowners have been adding appliances, such as flat panel TVs, so the load on the transformer has gradually increased to the point where the additional battery charging load could cause the transformer to become overloaded and fail.

If two or three EVs and PHEVs are charged simultaneously at night, between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am, when homes generally have very low loads, it’s unlikely the transformer serving the homes will fail.

Transformers typically fail without warning and the utility will have to rush to replace the failed unit to restore electrical service to the affected customers.

It’s a relatively simple matter to change out a smaller distribution transformer with a larger unit. There are few weight limitations for pole-type units, and the pads for pad-mounted residential units are usually large enough to accommodate up to a 100-KVA pad-mounted transformer.

Condominiums and commercial properties use larger distribution transformers where failures affect more people, and replacement transformers cost considerably more.

Transformers increase in size from small single phase units rated 15 KVA to 100 KVA, serving 4 to 6 homes, to transformers rated 167 KVA to around 4,000 KVA, single and three phase, serving commercial areas and condominiums. Next in the hierarchy are substation transformers that supply electricity to the distribution transformers located within a geographic area in a town or city. Next are the very large transmission transformers that are not likely to be affected by the use of EVs and PHEVs.

Substation transformers, which can easily cost as much as a million dollars, will require advance planning. If the transformer fails without notice, there could be several days, or even weeks, before the transformer can be replaced. An emergency spare, perhaps a mobile unit, might have to be installed temporarily at an additional cost.

When a transformer becomes overloaded and must be replaced with a larger unit, there is the cost of the new transformer, the cost of having a utility crew remove and replace the existing transformer, and the cost of re-inventorying or disposing of the old transformer.

The cost of changing out one 50 KVA distribution transformer, and replacing it with a 75 KVA unit is well over $3,000. The cost of replacing a substation transformer can exceed $1 million.

Conclusion

Eventually, as the population of EVs and PHEVs increases, these hidden costs will become apparent and affect the public and economy. These hidden costs could be substantial, especially for metropolitan areas where EVs and PHEVs are concentrated.

If it’s assumed one distribution transformer will have to be replaced, at a cost of $3,000 for every 10 EVs or PHEVs sold, and assuming 20 million EVs and PHEVs on the road in 2024, it would cost over $6 billion to replace the distribution transformers serving homes.

If it’s assumed that one substation transformer, with a cost of $1,000,000, will have to be replaced for every 5,000 EVs or PHEVs sold, it would cost $4 billion for substation transformer replacements.

While these assumptions may be more applicable to metropolitan areas than nationally, they provide a preview of the hidden costs and reliability issues associated with EVs and PHEVs.

EV and PHEV sales would have to be wildly more successful than they have been for hidden costs to become a major problem, but policy makers, and especially mayors and utility executives in major metropolitan areas, should be alert to how these vehicles can affect the grid.

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Electric Vehicle Update

October 14, 2014

Tesla continues to grab the headlines, but how are EVs and PHEVs really doing?

Year over year, the sale of EVs and PHEVs have increased by 29.7%.

Interestingly, the YOY sale of Hybrids has been a negative 8.7%.

Here are year-to-date sales for 2014.

US Sales of Electric Vehicles, Including HEVs YTD 2014

Hybrids (HEVs)

PHEVs

Battery (BEVs)

Total for EVs & PHEVs

January

27,085

2,934

2,971

5,905

February

30,561

3,721

3,324

7,045

March

43,790

4,594

4,578

9,172

April

39,430

4,718

4,187

8,905

May

52,227

6,651

5,802

12,453

June

39,225

6,511

4,982

11,493

July

44,488

5,740

5,693

11,433

August

48,208

5,920

6,483

12,403

September

31,385

3,357

5,983

9,340

Total

356,399

44,146

44,003

88,149

2013 YTD

389,725

32,718

35,261

67,979

YOY %

-8.6%

34.9%

24.8%

29.7%

While a 29.7% increase for EVs and PHEVs seems impressive, the absolute numbers should be very discouraging for those who support these types of vehicles.

When these vehicles were introduced, it was expected that there would be 1,000,000 sold by the end of 2015. This was the forecast made by President Obama.

Total cumulative sales since these vehicles were introduced in 2011 are:

PHEVs = 139,409

EVs = 116,012

Total EVs and PHEVs, 2011 – 2014 ytd = 255,421

Even if sales were to increase 30% every year, it wouldn’t be until 2020 that there would be one million of these vehicles on the road. This should be compared with the 250 million cars and light trucks currently on the road, to gain a perspective on the value of EVs and PHEVs in reducing the consumption of oil, or reducing CO2 emissions.

Volt and Leaf

Volt and Leaf

It also brings into question whether the proposed $5 billion dollar battery factory will be a sound investment, or a good use of tax payer subsidies with perhaps $1.5 billion in subsidies from Nevada alone.

The factory is being built to support the sale of 500,000 EVs per year, by 2020.

It’s important to recognize that HEVs, such as the Prius, are not the same as EVs and PHEVs.

They do not recharge their batteries from the grid and have no effect on the grid, whereas EVs and PHEVs do affect the grid as explained in the next article.

HEVs use electric motors to improve the overall efficiency of a vehicle powered by an internal combustion engine. HEVs use gasoline, or diesel fuel, as the primary source of energy for propelling the vehicle.

This is different from EVs, which are designed to use only batteries and eliminate the use of gasoline, and PHEVs, which are intended to use battery power for commuting distances. EVs have a range of around 100 miles, while PHEVs have a range of around 35 miles on battery power, and use an auxiliary internal combustion engine to allow the PHEV to travel longer distances.

Some commentators mistakenly combine HEVs, EVs and PHEVs when describing electric vehicles. This distorts the actual market penetration of cars that rely on battery power, either exclusively, such as the Tesla, an EV, or for commuting distances, such as the GM Volt, a PHEV.

Half of the EVs sold so far this year have reportedly been the Nissan Leaf. Tesla doesn’t report its sales by country, so Tesla’s U.S. sales are unknown.

Starting prices are around $29,000 for the Nissan Leaf and $69,000 for the Tesla S. Tesla is betting that the new giga factory can bring the cost of the Lithium-ion battery down by 30%, so that its new lower-price model can be competitive.

Whether this is achievable will have to be seen.

So far, EVs and PHEVs have been toys for the rich and famous, with middle class families subsidizing these purchases with tax payer dollars.

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Alarmists Pull Out All the Stops

October 10, 2014

Big marches, emotional speeches and new reports about climate change are part of the big push to achieve a new climate treaty in Paris next year.

Among the plethora of misinformation about global warming is a new report, Better Growth, Better Climate, by The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.

Impressive name, but merely a cover for climate alarmists.

The commission isn’t global, but merely sponsored by seven countries — Colombia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Norway, South Korea, Sweden and the UK. The chair is Felipe Calderon, former President of Mexico, with Nicolas Stern, of the highly controversial, and some say discredited, Stern Review, as co-chair.

The underlying premiss of the report is that Climate Change must be stopped by cutting CO2 emissions.

The report tries to show that the world can cut CO2 emissions while achieving economic growth: Fossil fuels can be eliminated and replaced with renewables at no increase in cost and with benefits to humanity.

Of course, the world must conform to what these people say we must do, which is always the problem with leftist theology.

Cover of Report by Global Commission on the Economy and Climate 2014

Cover of Report by Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, 2014

One message is that cities must be constructed around mass transit. This requires mixed use with people forced to live around mass transit stations. Suburban sprawl must be avoided at all cost. It infers that the American model of suburbia is a threat to mankind, and that the automobile is a weapon against humanity.

The report calls for setting a price on carbon to make renewables seem more economically competitive. This, of course, means higher electricity costs for people, but it will supposedly save them from climate change.

The war on coal goes global, without any recognition that new Ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plants produce cheap electricity with much lower emissions of all types, actually almost as low as emissions from natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) power plants … but NGCC power plants are also ultimately a threat because they emit CO2.

Here are the 10 action plans proposed by this report.

  1. Accelerate low-carbon transformation by integrating climate into core economic decision-making processes
  2. Enter into a strong, lasting and equitable international climate agreement
  3. Phase out subsidies for fossil fuels and agricultural inputs, and incentives for urban sprawl
  4. Introduce strong, predictable carbon prices
  5. Substantially reduce capital costs for low-carbon infrastructure investments
  6. Scale up innovation in key low-carbon and climate-resilient technologies
  7. Make connected and compact cities the preferred form of urban development
  8. Stop deforestation of natural forests by 2030
  9. Restore at least 500 million hectares of lost or degraded forests and agricultural lands
  10. Accelerate the shift away from polluting coal-fired power generation

It’s impossible in a short article to cover all these ten items, but here are a few comments.

Item 1 infers that government should dictate how people live. Many things people do, such as driving cars, eating meat, or living where and how they want, affect climate.

It reminds me of the policy actually proposed by a member of the UK parliament to give a carbon debit card to all UK citizens.

“Each time a person did something, the card would be debited for the carbon usage resulting from the transaction. Filling the gas tank would debit the card for the CO2 caused by the amount of gasoline purchased. Lamb chops would debit the card for the green house gasses caused by sheep. Buying an airplane ticket would debit the card for the CO2 released by the jet engines.”

In essence, government would control what people do.

Item 2 would be Kyoto redux, locking the US into committing national suicide while other countries would likely cheat. It would force the US to cut per capita emissions from 16.6 tons per person to 2.3 tons by 2050, an impossible task without destroying the US economy. The last time the US had per capita emissions of 2.3 tons was in 1900.

How many cars, airplanes, refrigerators and air conditioning units did the US have in 1900?

Virtually none. How do Americans cut CO2 emissions 80% without eliminating these necessities?

CO2 emissions with 80% cut

CO2 emissions with 80% cut

With respect to item 3, eliminating fossil fuel subsidies. The report claims fossil fuel subsidies amount to $600 billion per year, but nowhere in the report does it itemize or identify the subsidies, except that countries, such as Venezuela, subsidize the use of gasoline by charging 6 cents per gallon.

The report claims fossil fuels are subsidized, but doesn’t say how.

With respect to item 8, the forested area in the United States is the same as it was in 1900, while population has increased by over 400%. There’s no need to increase forested area in the United States, unless it is to return it to the way it was when the Pilgrims arrived.

Item 10 is merely a continuation of the war on coal, even though coal is the lowest cost method for generating electricity in most undeveloped countries around the world. And many of these poor countries have substantial deposits of coal. (India is an exception.) It asks that export credit agencies restrict loans for building coal-fired power plants in developing countries.

The war on coal deprives poor people, such as in Africa, of electricity for heating and cooking, forcing them to continue to use dung and wood with resulting damage to their health. Burning wood also contributes to deforestation, so cheap electricity produced by coal-fired power plants would help stop deforestation.

Another major fallacy of the report is that it repeatedly claims that carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) works. This is a flagrant error. No one has demonstrated that sequestration will keep billions of tons of liquid CO2 under high pressure, locked-up, underground for centuries.

There are many other items in the report that should be of concern to all who live in freedom.

For example, the report says governments should promote a shift in diet from meats.
And it distorts the truth by using the EIA’s Levelized Cost of Electricity for coal that includes a charge for carbon. This artificially increases the cost of electricity from coal-fired power plants, which is then used in an attempt to demonstrate that solar and wind are competitive with coal.

Reports like this, and there have been many before it, try to gin up support for cutting CO2 emissions.

They are long on rhetoric and short on objective commentary and facts.

This report’s rhetoric says, “Unchecked emissions from coal, oil and natural gas represent a potentially grave risk to future generations.”

But their proposed cure; curtailing freedom, reducing economic growth, and condemning people to live in poverty, is hardly the answer, and is likely to present an even greater risk to future generations … especially if global warming is not caused by CO2 emissions.

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Fracking Gets Better

October 7, 2014

The fracking revolution gets better, and oil wells produce more.

When it started, fracking was somewhat a hit and miss, trial by error effort to learn how to extract oil and natural gas from shale.

Horizontal wells were initially fairly short, perhaps a few thousand feet long, and only single fracs were used.

As more was learned, horizontal wells became longer and there were more fracs on each well. Multiple fracs are done by separating the horizontal well, or lateral, into shorter sections, beginning at the far end of the lateral, by blocking off each section, and performing the frac operation in each section, one at a time.

Today, horizontal wells, or laterals, can be 10,000 feet long, or nearly two miles long, with thirty fracs taking place in a lateral.

The length and depth of wells vary with each shale formation, but the trend is similar in virtually all areas, longer horizontal wells and more fracs.

Here are a few comparisons:

  • Eagle Ford, average horizontal length approximately 6,500 feet, longest 10,000 feet. Deepest vertical, approximately 8,000 feet.
  • Permian Basin (all), average horizontal length approximately 7,500 feet, longest 9,500 feet. Deepest vertical, approximately 11,500 feet.
  • Bakken, average horizontal length approximately 9,500 feet, longest 9,900 feet. Deepest vertical, approximately 11,500 feet.
  • Marcellus, average horizontal length approximately 4,500 feet, longest 7,000 feet. Deepest vertical, approximately 9,000 feet.

In nearly all cases, the amount of oil or natural gas being produced has increased significantly.

As can be seen, fracking typically takes place several thousand feet below the water table, so there is little, if any possibility that fracking can contaminate aquifers or water wells.

One of the trends that has emerged is that the gravity API rating of the oil has become higher, which means the oil has become thinner.

Crude oil used by refineries has an average API of around 34, ranging from 30.07 to 37.27 in different districts this year. Oil that is considerably thinner, with a higher API rating, is less valuable. Oil with an API of 50, might have a value $5 less per barrel than crudes with an API of 34. Condensate, which is even thinner, may be worth $10 less per barrel than oil with an API of 34.

Interestingly, Bakken crude consistently has an API of around 42, which appears to be acceptable to many refineries, those that aren’t designed to process heavier crudes.

The latest study on well contamination, published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Noble gases identify the mechanisms of fugitive gas contamination in drinking-water wells overlying the Marcellus and Barnett Shales, once again demonstrated that fracking does not cause contamination of water wells or aquifers.

The study specifically stated that methane, i.e., natural gas, did not migrate through multiple strata of rock above where the fracking took place, to reach water wells or aquifers.

Contamination by methane can result from poor cementing of wells, but this can be for any kind of drilling. It’s also a preventable problem.

The myth that fracking caused methane contamination was perpetuated by the movie Gas Land which showed a water faucet being set on fire.

This picture, published in the National Geographic Magazine decades before fracking became popular, and decades before the movie Gas Land, clearly demonstrates that methane can migrate naturally into water wells.

Photo from August, 1980 issue of National Geographic Magazine

Photo from August, 1980 issue of National Geographic Magazine

New practices are increasing the amount of oil being produced from fracking, bringing the United States ever closer to being independent of foreign crude, other than from Canada and Mexico.

Fracking has been a blessing for the United States, resulting in greater oil production, low cost natural gas for power generation and the heating of homes, increased jobs, bringing manufacturing back to the United States and improving our balance of payments.

The new practices include more fracs in each horizontal well, longer horizontals and the use of greater quantities of sand to prop open the cracks in the shale created by the fracking process.

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An Analysis of the War on Fossil Fuels

October 3, 2014

President Obama and the EPA insist that the United States cut its CO2 emissions 80% from 1990 levels by 2050, but what would that mean for Americans?

Let’s look at the supply of electricity to see what it would mean.

Figure 1 shows the installed capacity of 1,049,615 MW in 2004, which has changed only slightly since then, primarily with natural gas replacing some coal.

Figure 2 show the total CO2 emissions of 2,298 Million Metric Tons (MMT) from power generation, color coded by source, with coal being the largest source of CO2 emissions.

Figure 3 show the projected increase in new power generation of 609,258 MW required by 2050, with a 1% annual growth rate in electricity usage.

A growth rate of 1% is as forecast by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The 1% growth rate is only slightly higher than the population growth rate of 0.83%, with population in 2050 being 420 million. This growth does not include any increase in generating capacity required for EVs or PHEVs.

Generation Capacity, Today and in 2050

Generation Capacity, Today and in 2050

The next figure show the maximum amount of CO2 that can be emitted in 2050 from power generation sources, which is 361 MMT, if CO2 emissions are cut 80% from 1990 levels.

Allowable CO2 emissions from Power Generation in 2050

Allowable CO2 emissions from Power Generation in 2050

Current CO2 emissions from natural gas power plants, including the recent switch from coal to natural gas, already exceeds the amount allowed in 2050.

This means, that no new natural gas power plants can be built from this point forward, if we are to meet the 80% cut in CO2 emissions required by president Obama and the EPA.

So what can we do, or will there be a shortfall in electricity in 2050?

Figure 4, indicates that wind and solar can provide 20% of our electricity in 2050, but this assumes that the environmental organizations are correct in saying that unreliable sources, such as wind and solar, can provide 20% of the total.

Germany is already finding that this probably isn’t true.

As noted, 663,549 wind turbines or comparable solar installations will be required.

But even with wind and solar, there is a huge shortfall in generating capacity.

Americans will be without the electricity they need.

Note that the projections assume that existing coal-fired power plants will remain in place, but that they will all be outfitted with carbon capture capabilities, and that the CO2, thus captured, can be sequestered underground (CCS).

But the carbon capture installations consume about 30% of the electricity generated by coal-fired power plants. This parasitic load is required to power the pumps and compressors needed to capture, compress and then transmit liquid CO2, via pipeline, to where the CO2 is sequestered, in underground geologic formations, at approximately 2,000 psi.

This creates an additional shortfall, as depicted in Figure 4 as CCS shortfall.

Power Generation Capacity Shortfall in 2050

Power Generation Capacity Shortfall in 2050

In total, there will be at least a 24% shortfall of electricity.

But this assumes that 22 new nuclear power plants will be built, and that all existing nuclear power plants remain in operation, which is highly unlikely, because many will not receive a second extension to their operating licenses.

Environmentalists say we can be more energy efficient and cut our usage of electricity, but it seems highly unlikely that we can cut our use of electricity more than a few percentage points, especially when taking into consideration the growth in population. There is no demonstrable evidence that electricity usage can be cut by anywhere near 24%.

The facts are clear.

  • Wind and solar cannot provide 20% of our electricity. Germany, with 22% of their electricity coming from wind and solar, is already experiencing difficulties that are destroying their utilities, and requiring Germans to pay four to five times as much as we do for their electricity. Storage is supposed to alleviate this problem, but there are no proven methods of utility scale storage other than pumped storage, and all the possible storage alternatives are extremely expensive.
  • Nuclear power plants will decline in number, not increase.
  • CCS is unproven, and requires millions of tons of CO2 to be locked in geologic formations for centuries. Without CCS all coal-fired power plants would have to be shut down.
  • Natural gas power plants already exceed total allowable CO2 emissions from all sources of power generation.

This administration is setting a course for disaster.

Per capita CO2 emissions are 16.6 tons today, and would have to be reduced to 2.3 tons by 2050. The last time we had per capita emissions of 2.3 tons was in 1900, when there was no air-conditioning, refrigeration or other electrical appliances. Is that the standard of living we want for our children and grandchildren?

The above facts cannot be disproven.

If we continue down the road established by President Obama and the EPA, a disastrous shortage of electricity will be unavoidable and will harm all Americans.

* * * * * *

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The War on Methane and Freedom

September 30, 2014

In 2012, the Sierra Club declared war on natural gas, which is methane.

Here is how the Sierra Club portrayed the issue:

“Fossil fuels have no part in America’s energy future — coal, oil and natural gas are literally poisoning us. The emergence of natural gas as a significant part of our energy mix is particularly frightening because it dangerously postpones investment in clean energy at a time when we should be doubling down on wind, solar and energy efficiency.”
—Robin Mann, Sierra Club President

This is a call to use high-cost methods to generate electricity, rather than using low-cost natural gas. It’s also a call to increase home heating bills for all Americans who use natural gas for heating.

The United States has abundant supplies of low-cost natural gas, more than enough for its domestic needs, including power generation, home heating and fleets of local trucks and busses, and which also has the potential to vastly increase the number of vehicles powered by natural gas.

With huge supplies of natural gas, the United States is on the verge of exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG). But this requires building export terminals, and the big environmental guns are now aimed at stopping their construction.

Without actually saying so, Obama’s climate action plan provides support for the war on natural gas.

He has called on federal agencies to prevent green house gas emissions, including methane, which, in over 100 years is 25 times more potent than CO2, is an easy target for federal agencies, such as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

FERC must approve LNG export terminals, and is presently sitting on several applications for permits to build LNG export terminals.

LNG FERC Sites Map

The most direct way to stop the export of natural gas is to stop fracking, as this will end the surplus of natural gas available for export.

Fracking has resulted in abundant supplies of natural gas which have led to an industrial revival, created millions of jobs, and which will allow the United States to end oil imports, other than from Canada and Mexico.

But preventing green house gas emissions is more important to radical environmental groups than guaranteeing an abundant supply of low-cost natural gas and having North America becoming oil independent.

Killing the goose that laid the golden egg is what these environmental groups will achieve if fracking is stopped.

It’s not necessary to outlaw fracking: Enacting enough regulations to make it uneconomic achieves the same result.

An important member of the war on fracking is the Natural Resource Defense Council, which makes a seemingly innocuous statement, but one that will stop fracking.

“NRDC opposes expanded fracking until effective safeguards are in place.”

This is essentially their position on nuclear as expressed on their web site: They don’t oppose it outright, but demand stringent regulations on the entire fuel cycle, from mining to disposal of waste.

They don’t oppose it, they just want to regulate it to death.

One method of delay is to require extensive and politically vulnerable environmental studies.

The Sierra Club and 15 other environmental organizations wrote to president Obama claiming that LNG exports would contribute to global warming, and asked him to have FERC conduct an in-depth environmental impact study on the proposed Cove Point LNG export terminal.

The organizations signing the letter to Obama included:

  • Center for Health, Environment and Justice
  • Center for Biological Diversity
  • Chesapeake Climate Action Network
  • Earthjustice
  • Earthworks
  • Energy Action Coalition
  • Environmental Action
  • Friends of the Earth
  • Food and Water Watch
  • Sierra Club
  • 350.org
  • Waterkeeper Alliance
  • Green America
  • Earth Day Network

Clearly, the strategy is the same as used in stopping the Keystone pipeline: delay, delay, delay; and FERC is in a position to delay approving these terminals.

Meanwhile, environmental groups are attacking fracking in an attempt to shut fracking down, the ultimate method for stopping LNG exports.

The motivation behind the opposition to natural gas, the Keystone pipeline and LNG export terminals is global warming and climate change.

At some point, Americans will have to decide whether global warming and climate change are sufficiently important to curtail their freedom and reduce their standard of living.

The EPA’s efforts to cut CO2, because of global warming and climate change will also hurt Americans. See Higher Costs Built Into EPA Proposal.

Freedom and living standards are what are at stake.

* * * * *

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© Power For USA, 2010 – 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author, Donn Dears, LLC, is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Power For USA with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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