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Ozone and 2.5 Particulates are Not Killing People

July 3, 2015

The EPA has proposed reducing particulates to an extremely low level so as to save lives.

The EPA claims that PM 2.5 and ozone are killing people.

A new study by Stanley Young, Ph.D, proves they do not. Another scientist, Dr. Enstrom, has pointed out that the average U.S. adult inhales about 1 teaspoon of invisible PM 2.5 in 80 years.

But is this tiny amount a problem? This is addressed by Dr. Young.

It was impossible for Dr Young to obtain the data used in the studies that were referenced by the EPA in support of its claims that PM 2.5 and ozone kills people.

That the authors of these studies refused to make their data available raises the question: What are they hiding?

Unable to get the datasets from the studies used by the EPA, Dr. Young turned to a large publicly available dataset from California, possibly the largest dataset ever used in an air-pollution related study.

The California records contained data from 8 basins, covering 13 years, i.e., 2000 to 2012, for daily deaths, air quality and weather. The data covered 37,000 days of exposure with 2 million death certificates.

A statistical analysis of the data resulted in two charts, establishing that PM 2.5 and ozone were not related to deaths in California.

This contradicts the EPA’s claim that PM 2.5 and ozone kills people.

PM 2.5 and Ozone Test Results, Dr. Young

PM 2.5 and Ozone Test Results, Dr. Young

In this diagram, the left chart is for PM 2.5 and the right is for ozone.

The charts show the deviation from the median. The X axis is for the level of PM 2.5 and ozone. High levels to the right, low levels to the left. The Y axis is the deviation from the median with, from top to bottom, high number of deaths on a daily basis, to low number of deaths.

Quoting Dr. Young, these are “a spectacular demonstration of no effect.”

If PM 2.5 or ozone were causing deaths, the dots would sweep from the lower left to the upper right.

Regression analysis of both PM 2.5 and ozone data verified the “no effect” conclusions.

Dr. Young’s conclusions relate to acute deaths, those that occur within a few days of exposure. The EPA has claimed that PM 2.5 can cause sudden death, within hours of exposure. Meanwhile, Dr. Enstrom has concluded that there is no longterm threat either.

These comments come largely from Dr. Young’s and Dr. Enstrom’s presentations at the recent Tenth International Climate Change Conference in Washington DC.

Importantly, the organizations that provided the reports used by the EPA would not make their data available for analysis, which prevented other scientists from examining the data to determine whether the conclusions were verifiable.

This is in stark contrast to Dr. Young, who said he will provide his data to any scientist wanting it to analyze it.

Dr. Young is completely transparent, while the EPA hides its data.

Furthermore, the above charts demonstrate there is no linear threshold effect. Low quantities do not cause death. The no linear threshold (LNT) concept has also been used mistakenly for radiation. LNT is not an accurate representation of risk for radiation, or for PM 2.5 and ozone.

In an important conclusion, if any organization or state, such as New York, publishes information indicating that PM 2.5 or ozone causes death, it must be the result of other factors, not the size of particles or of ozone levels.

This is a critical distinction. The size of the particle has no bearing on risk. Something else may be affecting people’s health.

Another conclusion that can be reached from this study is that natural gas power plants have virtually no negative health effects. NGCC plants inherently have extremely low particulate matter and nitrogen oxide emissions, and, as the study demonstrates, whatever is emitted will not affect mortality rates from PM 2.5 or ozone.

Another critical conclusion is that claims made by the EPA in its impact analysis of the Clean Power Plan about monetized savings from PM 2.5 and ozone, which are at the core of the savings derived from the EPA’s Clean Power plan, are false. Specifically:

Section 4.3.2 Economic Valuation for Health Co-benefits:

“Avoided premature deaths account for 98% of monetized PM-related co-benefits and over 90% of monetized ozone-related co-benefits”

Based on Dr. Young’s study, these supposed savings from the prevention of premature deaths are obviously false.

Dr. Young’s study establishes that PM 2.5 and ozone are not killing people. Other scientists are welcome to try to refute his analysis with Dr. Young’s dataset available to all scientists.

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Stopped Dead in itsTracks

June 30, 2015

Using natural gas for powering automobiles and trucks has been stopped dead in its tracks by the low price of gasoline and diesel fuel.

When Saudi Arabia decided to maintain its output of oil to keep its market share, it resulted, whether intentionally or not, in stopping, or at least slowing down, the move toward using natural gas as a transportation fuel.

Using compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquified natural gas (LNG) as a transportation fuel, relies on there being a sufficient spread between the prices of gasoline and diesel fuel, and that of CNG and LNG respectively.

Using CNG and LNG requires special tanks and fueling stations, which adds to the cost of using natural gas.

Table 1, based on 2013 data, shows the added cost per vehicle for equipping them to use natural gas.

TABLE 1

Type

Number Vehicles

Fuel Used

Incremental or Conversion Cost for Natural Gas

Heavy-duty long distance trucks (18 wheelers) 3.8 million 1.25 mb/d

$70,000

Heavy-duty fleet trucks1 1.0 million 0.38 mb/d

$70,000

Medium-duty fleet trucks 3.9 million 0.4 mb/d

$32,000

Transit buses 0.07 million 0.04 mb/d

$50,000

School buses 0.7 million 0.6 mb/d

$32,000

Light vehicles 237 million 8.2 mb/d

$6,000 for cars

$11,000 for pick-up trucks2

Notes:

1. Estimate 20% of 4.8 million 18 wheelers and 20% of 1.63 mb/d fuel used

2. Duel fueled gasoline and natural gas, vehicles

Sources: Energy Information Administration and National Renewable Energy Laboratory

The added cost of equipping vehicles to use natural gas must be offset by lower costs for GNG or LNG.

The low price of oil has resulted in the cost differential between CNG and gasoline, and LNG and diesel fuel virtually disappearing.

CNG, Gasoline and Diesel prices From Department of Energy

CNG, Gasoline and Diesel prices From Department of Energy

In addition, there is a woeful lack of CNG and LNG fueling stations.

Currently, there are only 832 CNG and only 73 LNG public fueling stations in the United States. Table 2 shows the high cost of building the required infrastructure for natural gas to become a major factor in transportation.

TABLE 2

Type fueling station

Estimated Cost

LNG (50,000 DGE per month or approx. 10 trucks per day) $2 million each station
LNG (150,000 DGE per month or approx. 20 trucks per day) $4 million each station
LNG (300,000 DGE per month or approx. 40 trucks per day) $6 million each station
CNG (Low volume. 25,000 GGE) $1 million each station
CNG (Moderate volume. 50,000 GGE) $2 million each station
DGE = Diesel Gallons equivalent GGE = Gasoline Gallon Equivalent

For LNG stations, assume truck tank size is 200 gallons of DGE

Two years ago, there was a significant effort to increase the number of fueling stations with companies such as Shell and Clean Energy Fuels saying they would build CNG and LNG fueling stations along major truck routes.

At present, the low price of gasoline and diesel fuel make the use of CNG and LNG problematic.

There will be special situations that favor the use of natural gas, especially in countries where the cost of imported diesel fuel is high and there are plentiful supplies of natural gas. This is an example from Australia where the use of CNG is being evaluated. The fiber glass cylinders, shown next to the truck, are housed in the cabinet between the wheels.

CNG Cylinders and Truck

CNG Cylinders and Truck

Conditions are bound to change as demand for oil increases with a resulting increase in its price.

Even when the price of oil increases, the ever present possibility that low prices will reemerge will remain a threat to those who want to invest in CNG and LNG vehicles.

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No One Can Force the Sun to Shine or Wind to Blow

June 26, 2015

Two facts are incontrovertible:

  • Wind turbines don’t generate electricity when the wind isn’t blowing
  • Solar power plants don’t generate electricity when the sun isn’t shining

Storage can mitigate this to some extent, but it can double the initial investment in wind and solar.

Because wind and solar don’t generate electricity when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining, there must be backup fossil fuel generation sufficient to meet demand.

When wind and solar provide small amounts of electricity, maintaining the fossil fuel backup is a nuisance and moderately expensive.

But what happens when wind or solar provide very large amounts of electricity, especially if they provided 80%, as proposed by Germany and as espoused by extreme environmentalists?

No bureaucrat can force the sun to shine or the wind to blow, so backup fossil fuel generation must be maintained to meet total demand at any time of day.

As this curve from Germany demonstrates, approximately 70 GW of generating capacity must be maintained so that total demand can be met when the wind stops blowing and the sun stops shining. (The red line approximates 80% production from renewables.)

Who is going to pay for maintaining this capability?

German Load Curve at 60% Renewables

But Germany is part of the European grid so it can export or import electricity to help mitigate the problem of generation by renewables.

Denmark is a good example of why the investment in renewables is actually wasted.

Denmark Generation by Category with Consumption

Denmark Generation by Category with Consumption

The green bars represent power from central stations, which is essentially from fossil fuel power plants.

The brown line shows total consumption.

Clearly, all of the load could have been supplied solely by fossil fuels, possibly with some small assist from combined heat and power (CHP).

The investment in wind turbines has been completely wasted.

Considering that wind is more expensive than fossil fuels in most countries, it makes no economic sense to build wind turbines.

In actuality, Denmark exports a large amount of its wind generated electricity to Norway, because Norway, where over 90% of its electricity is provided by hydro, can absorb the excess wind generated electricity from Denmark, which would otherwise have to be dumped.

The two countries that are consistently held up as examples of the wonders of renewables are both wasting billions of dollars in their quest to eliminate CO2.

The average citizen is footing the bill with higher rates for electricity and higher taxes.

 

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Clean Coal is Dead, Long Live Clean Coal

June 23, 2015

The coal industry bungled its response to extreme environmentalists when it assigned the sobriquet “clean coal” to IGCC (integrated gasification combined cycle) power plants.

This was a huge mistake, meant to assuage the political elite in Washington DC, and extreme environmentalists.

Instead, the term clean coal has backfired, leaving the coal industry worse off than if it had taken a principled stand, based on facts, rather than adopting a strategy of appeasement.

By inferentially agreeing CO2 emissions were the cause of global warming with their proposal to use IGCC power plants to remove and sequester CO2, the coal industry acknowledged guilt, when there was no need to.

From that point forward, the coal industry was in retreat.

Compounding the initial error, IGCC power plants have proven to be exorbitantly expensive, unable even to compete with expensive wind and solar.

IGCC power plants cook the coal to produce a synthesis gas, syngas, consisting of CO2, hydrogen and carbon monoxide, where the CO2 is captured, or stripped from the syngas, leaving mainly hydrogen that is burned in a gas turbine to generate electricity.

The CO2 could then, supposedly, be sequestered underground. Since the ability to sequester CO2 underground is unproven, the underlying concept of IGCC power plants was flawed from the beginning. See, The Why and How of Carbon Capture and Sequestration.

IGCC Schematic from DOE Report

IGCC Schematic from DOE Report

A fact based argument can be made, in combination with allies who question whether CO2 is the cause of global warming, promoting Ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plants as clean coal.

The argument could first be made that traditional coal-fired power plants have already been dramatically improved. For example:

  • The level of coal-fire power generation today is essentially the same as it was in 1990, yet total emitted tons of SO2, NOx and particulates have been reduced 70%. According to a World Health Organization study, the United States’ air quality is among the top seven best of industrialized nations.
  • When the “American Lung Association listed the ten counties in the United States with the worst air quality, every county was in California” where there are no coal-fired power plants.

Then, the full story of Ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plants could be told.

  • Ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plants have a thermal efficiency approaching 45% HHV, with the potential to achieve a thermal efficiency of 50% HHV, compared with traditional coal-fired power plants having a thermal efficiency of 33%. This improvement in efficiency also results in a corresponding reduction in emissions of virtually all types, which in combination with modern control technologies would meet all EPA requirements other than for CO2 emissions.

Only one Ultra-Supercritical coal-fired power plant has been built in the United States, AEP’s Turk, Ultra-supercritical plant in Arkansas.

While the United States is being prevented from building Ultra-Supercritical coal-fired power plants, many are being built in China and elsewhere around the world.

Meanwhile, IGCC power plants have turned out to be white elephants costing as much as nuclear power plants to build.

Three IGCC plants have been built in the United States: One by Tampa Electric, a second by Duke at Edwardsport, Indiana, and now, the Kemper power plant by The Southern Company.

The Kemper plant is now projected to cost $6.2 billion, and a partner of the Southern Company, South Mississippi Electric Power Association, has backed out of the project.

Costs were to have been capped at $2.9 billion, but with a cost of $6.2 billion, and still possibly rising, rate payers in Mississippi may see a very large increase in what they pay for electricity.

IGCC power plants have been an absolute failure.

Perhaps it’s time for a new group of leaders in the coal industry, who believe in the ability of coal to provide inexpensive and environmentally compatible electricity using Ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plants, to step forward.

It’s not too late to bestow the sobriquet clean coal on Ultra-supercritical plants, especially as they are being built around the world.

Coal would still have to compete with natural gas, but the arbitrary restrictions created by the EPA preventing the use of coal could be removed … and that could ultimately benefit America.

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Now they Tell You How To Live

June 19, 2015

California now wants to dictate what kind of home you live in.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the California Energy Commission (CEC) want all new homes to be zero net energy in 2020.

Zero net energy homes produce as much energy as they consume.

It requires a home to create as much energy as it uses over a year. California reportedly wants this to also apply to multifamily and low-income housing.

This will require all new homes to have PV rooftop solar installations large enough to produce as much energy as the home consumes. To be a zero net energy home also requires offsetting the natural gas that’s used.

The aim is to have zero net energy homes mandated by code.

Cover from Novel by George Orwell

Cover from Novel by George Orwell

The city of Lancaster, California has already mandated that homes on lots over 7,000 sq. ft must have solar panels. Lots that are 70 feet wide and 100 feet deep, or equivalent, are typical of residential lots throughout America, while the average lot size in the United States is over 10,000 sq. feet.

This obviously adds to the cost of new homes. A PV rooftop solar installation for an average sized home using 900 kWh per month, the national average, will cost around $24,000 with a Powerwall battery. And this doesn’t offset the use of natural gas for heating.

Interestingly, it was this type of mandate that was included in the Waxman-Markey, American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, that was defeated in the U.S. Senate after passing in the House.

Congressman Waxman is from California, so the idea of forcing people to live in a zero net energy home is not new. This idea has been the dream of extreme environmentalists for years.

It reflects the concept of Big Government knowing what’s best for people.

Zero net energy homes will cost more than new homes without PV rooftop solar, and also more than existing homes. Existing homes would need to add PV rooftop solar as well as insulation to become zero net energy homes. Adding insulation is very expensive.

Square foot to square foot, this would make existing homes easier to sell when in competition with more costly new zero net energy homes.

Once the codes are established for new homes, it’s very likely they will be extended to existing homes.

The idea is to force people to install PV rooftop solar with batteries, and to reinsulate their homes. This concept was in the Waxman-Markey legislation.

Forcing people to own zero net energy homes is part of the program to cut CO2 emissions. Cutting CO2 emissions 80% by 2050 is the stated goal of the Obama administration and the EPA.

It is also the goal of this administration to have the United States agree to a treaty to be agreed upon this December in Paris, at the next Council of the Parties (COP) meeting.

COP meetings are part of the structure of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), a treaty the United States has already ratified, whereby the United State becomes a party to any new agreement to cut CO2 emissions.

The French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius said, “The agreement must be such that it doesn’t have to be ratified by the U.S. Senate.”

The fact that those in favor of a new agreement, similar to the Kyoto Protocol, want to bypass the U.S. Senate, which represents the people of the United States, shows how little regard these extremists have for Americans and their democracy.

California leads the nation in efforts to cut CO2 emissions, without regard for personal freedoms.

Imposing zero net energy homes is only the latest step. And it won’t be the last.

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So-called Progress that Goes Backwards

June 16, 2015

Sailing ships were a thing of beauty.

Clipper Ships forged ties with the orient, but are merely recollections in paintings.

The last serious commercial use of sailing ships in 1938 was in the grain trade, from Europe to Australia and back again, 14,000 miles of dangerous, grueling work by the seamen who manned the ships.

One of the last of these voyages was described in Grain Race, a true story by a crew member of a barque carrying grain.

Photo from Grain Race by Alan Villiers

Photo from Grain Race by Alan Villiers

Conditions on sailing ships were unimaginably bad for those living today.

It was not uncommon for crewmen to climb ratlines to 100 feet or more above the deck of a ship rolling 10 or 15 degrees, then, swaying back and forth above the deck and ocean, with sleet hurled relentlessly into their faces, using bare and freezing hands to haul in sails to slow a ship struggling in gale force winds.

Even on calmer days, there was always danger lurking with every step. Certainly there was constant backbreaking work. Sea shanties were sung by the crew so they could work in unison as they bent over, with feet braced against the deck, to haul in lines.

From Grain Race, By Alan Villiers

From Grain Race, By Alan Villiers

They sailed around the Cape of Good Hope and around Cape Horn, where the tides, seas and wind were vicious. Nearly 80 years later, my trip around Cape Horn in a comfortable cruise ship was uneventful. Horn is an Island 80 miles south of Ushuaia, Argentina, but is in Chilean waters.

Picture by D. Dears of Cape Horn, Horn Island, Chile

Picture by D. Dears of Cape Horn, Horn Island, Chile

The advent of steam, using coal was a godsend to the average crewman.

Sail gave way to coal and steam, and later to gas turbines and natural gas.

This was progress. It made life easier and safer for those who sailed the ships, and far more efficient and less costly for moving goods quickly around the world. No one, except those with fantasies of the glory of sail, regretted moving forward from the age of sail.

We now have a parallel fantasy of using wind for generating electricity which is turning the clock backwards.

The romantic history of the West is dotted with windmills, pumping water and serving the people as they developed farms and communities. But they were abandoned when electric motors could do the job better. The Brush windmill in Cleveland, in 1888, that generated electricity was abandoned because it was inefficient.

Today, wind turbans cost more to install than building a natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) power plant.

  • A 1.5 MW wind turbine costs $1,400 per KW to install.
  • A NGCC power plant costs $1,100 per KW to build.

In addition, the monster sized windmills that scar the landscape are inefficient.

It requires 2,000 wind turbines rated 1.5 MW to equal the same output as does a single nuclear power plant rated 1,000 MW. (Using the formula: kWh output = Nameplate rating * capacity factor * hours in a year)

  • The nuclear power plant requires an area of less than 0.5 square miles.
  • The 2,000 wind turbines require an area of 400 square miles. (At spacing = 10 * rotor diameter)

While the open space around the turbines may be usable for farming or ranching, virtually all other uses are excluded. The economic value of the land is therefore reduced. For example, it can’t be sold for building homes, or commercial activities.

There can be little question that wind is far less efficient in land utilization than nuclear.

The same is true for natural gas and coal-fired power plants, though the equivalent area required by the wind turbines is 220 sq. miles rather than 400. (Using an NGCC capacity factor of 0.6 compared with 0.9 for a nuclear power plant))

Furthermore, it costs more to generate electricity with wind turbines than with either NGCC or coal-fired power plants.

The cost of generating electricity is:

  • NGCC = 5 cents/kWh
  • Coal-fired = 6 cents/kWh
  • Wind = 11 cents/kWh

Even if the cost of wind generated electricity can be reduced, it will still cost more than the electricity produced by NGCC or coal-fired power plants.

There is a great deal of misinformation about the cost of generating electricity from wind, but even the EIA (a U.S. government agency), a supporter of renewables, says the cost of wind generated electricity is more than the cost when using NGCC power plants.

Wind is also unreliable. It doesn’t generate electricity when the wind stops blowing.

This results in additional costs. Backup power is the most obvious. The cost of storage is also an additional cost as storage is added to the grid.

Sailing ships were a thing of beauty, but they were slow and unreliable. They were also death traps for the sailors who manned them.

Fossil fuels allowed us to move beyond sailing ships, with steam and gas turbines.

We wouldn’t go backwards and return to using sailing ships.

So why are we going backwards by trying to use inefficient, costly and unreliable wind to generate electricity?

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How to Fool Americans

June 12, 2015

When it comes to renewables and other clean energy issues, there is an effort to make things seem what they aren’t.

In media parlance, by using spin.

Three such “spins” come immediately to mind.

Unfortunately, they are from our government, where the Energy Information Agency (EIA) attempts to mislead Americans by spinning information pertaining to the cost of generating electricity based on each method’s Leveled Cost of Electricity (LCOE)(1).

The following explains how the EIA is misleading Americans with respect to:

  • Coal
  • Wind and Solar
  • Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS)

Coal

While coal generates some of the least costly electricity, the EIA attempts to make it appear as though it is more expensive than wind.

The table accompanying the EIA website shows the LCOE of coal as 9.66 cents /kWh and wind as 8 cents /kWh.

Clearly, according to the EIA, it costs less to generate electricity with wind than with coal-fired power plants.

Pinocchio. Photo by D. Dears

Pinocchio. Photo by D. Dears

This is repeated by the media and by those who favor wind.

But the table is misleading, and it’s necessary to read the text accompanying the table to understand why.

Buried in the text, the EIA increases the cost of capital that’s equivalent to a $15 per metric ton of CO2 penalty to the LCOE calculation for coal-fired power plants.

The EIA arbitrarily increases the cost of coal generated electricity by adding a charge for CO2. Here is the actual EIA text.

“In LCOE terms, the impact of the cost of capital adder is similar to that of an emissions fee of $15 per metric ton of carbon dioxide (CO2).”

The EIA cooks the books to make it appear that wind is less costly than coal, when in fact, wind is at least twice as expensive as coal for generating electricity.

Wind and Solar

Another spin by the EIA is found in the same table referenced above.

It shows the cost of onshore wind at 8 cents /kWh, offshore wind at 20 cents /kWh, PV solar at 13 cents /kWh and thermal solar at 24 cents /kWh.

But these are for 2019, four years from now.

These are merely estimates and are not actual costs.

Obviously, the cost of these renewables is higher today, since the estimates are based on anticipated improvements in these renewables.

Again, the media and proponents of renewables use this data to spin the so-called benefits of renewables. They merely say, “As reported by the EIA, wind costs 8 cents /kWh.” But wind doesn’t cost 8 cents /kWh, it actually costs much more.

I have seen 8 cents /kWh quoted in several media articles, AND it is WRONG.

Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS)

It’s not clear whether it was the EIA or Power Magazine that distorted the cost of CCS.

Power Magazine referred to EIA data and said, “The critical point is that coal with CCS is not economically disadvantaged when [compared with the cost of wind and solar after adding storage costs etc.]”

The article avoided comparing the cost of CCS with the cost of generating electricity by natural gas or coal without CCS, thereby distorting the truth about CCS.

Obviously, CCS is disadvantaged when compared with the least costly methods of generating electricity rather than with expensive alternatives. In fact, the cost of electricity using CCS is two to three times more expensive than when generated without CCS.

In essence: “CCS isn’t so terrible when compared with other terrible alternatives.”

Or, phrased differently: A skunk doesn’t smell badly when compared with other skunks.

The article also inferred that CCS will eventually be viable, when it’s clear that CCS won’t work. See, The Why and How of Carbon Capture and Sequestration.

Summary

These examples are clearly attempts to fool Americans about the cost and usefulness of clean energy, specifically wind, solar and CCS.

Here we have an agency of the U.S. government distorting information and undermining the confidence that Americans have in their government.

We also have a magazine whose readers expect it to provide factual information to the utility industry, but which seems to parrot the government’s line.

Americans deserve better from their government.

 

  1. Reference EIA web site: http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/electricity_generation.cfm

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