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Wind and Solar Inflict Pain

January 13, 2017

Actual costs show that wind and solar are more costly than natural gas or coal for generating electricity.

Equally important is that wind and solar create problems for utilities and grid operators.

This is best explained using the Duck curve created by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO).

CAISO curve showing load during a 24 hour period

CAISO curve showing load during a 24 hour period

The topmost curve shows the load in 2013, when there were few wind and solar installations, while the bottommost curve shows the load supplied by baseload power in 2020.

The shaded area, from morning to evening between the topmost and bottommost curves, represent the power supplied by renewables, which, coincidently represents the power not supplied by baseload power.

Typically, in most areas of the country, baseload power is supplied by natural gas and coal-fired power plants.

The second most important feature of the Duck curve is that it shows how baseload power must be rapidly ramped up when the sun sets, which can severely stress power plant and distribution equipment, causing costly maintenance problems.

Duck Curve showing effect of 80% renewables

Duck Curve showing effect of 80% renewables

The second graph depicts the potential effect on the load curve when wind and solar provide 80% of the electrical load. (Note that the Duck curve uses a suppressed zero on the load axis, so zero load on the left axis is below the elongated red curve.)

When 80% of the daytime load is supplied by wind and solar, only a very small portion of the daytime load is provided by natural gas and coal-fired power plants.

This has important implications.

  1. Since wind and solar are intermittent, and don’t supply electricity when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun stops shining, all the fossil fuel power plants must be available, at a moment’s notice, to supply power that’s no longer being provided by wind and solar.
  2. Fossil fuel power plants can’t be disposed of. They must be kept and maintained, no matter how much wind and solar is on the system.

During the day, essentially from 7 am to 7 pm, the utilities do not receive revenues when wind and solar installations are owned by other entities: Either companies, like YieldCos, or individuals in the case of PV Rooftop solar.

Without revenues, the utilities can’t stay in business. Either utilities must be taken over by the government, using taxpayer money to support them, or the public must pay a capital charge on their electric bills to cover the cost of maintaining the fossil fuel power plants.

The undeniable fact is that wind and solar increase the cost of electricity.

  1. The levelized costs of electricity (LCOE) for wind and solar are 2 to 5 times greater than for natural gas or coal-fired power plants.
  2. The penalty for having to maintain fossil fuel power plants, either by imposing a capital charge on utility bills, or by having the government nationalize the utility system, creates additional costs that tax payers, one way or the other, must pay.

Wind and solar, with their current state of technology, are bad ideas that create problems and force people to pay much more for their electricity.

* * * * * *

Nothing to Fear, Part 2, explores the inherent problems with wind and solar.

Nothing to Fear is available from Amazon and some independent book sellers.

Link to Amazon: http://amzn.to/1miBhXy

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

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© Power For USA, 2010 – 2017. 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.

Betting on Long Shots

January 10, 2017

Another Department of Energy (DOE) long shot bet using tax payer money on a renewable energy source .

DOE recently awarded the Oregon State University’s (OSU’s), Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center (NNMREC) a $40 million grant.

In making the grant, the DOE said, “Wave energy resources range between approximately 900 TWh and 1,230 TWh per year, distributed across the coast of Alaska, the West Coast, the East Coast, the Gulf of Mexico, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. For context, approximately 90,000 homes can be powered by 1 TWh per year.”

While impressive, the probability of wave energy ever becoming economically viable is close to zero.

While research is useful, tax payer money could be put to better use than for, what is clearly, a very long shot investment.

Graphic from Oregon State University web site

Graphic from Oregon State University web site

Wave energy faces huge obstacles.

The ocean environment is destructive. Wave energy installations must be able to withstand huge storms, a corrosive salt water environment and destructive marine organisms.

There have been several test facilities and numerous experiments of wave energy around the world.

Testing has been done at Perth, Australia, in Scotland, Hawaii, Northern Ireland, off the Aguçadoura coast of Portugal, a tidal barge off the French coast and the Sihwa Lake tidal power station in South Korea.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) noted, “Levelized costs of ocean energy technologies are currently substantially higher than those of other renewable [wind and solar] energy technologies.”

And electricity from wind and solar is two to four times more costly than electricity from natural gas or coal-fired power plants.

There is no question that the ocean has tremendous power and virtually unlimited energy, but trying to capture that energy to generate electricity is unlikely to be accomplished economically with any existing technology.

There are few environments on earth that are as harsh as that found in the ocean.

The allure of wave energy is romantic, but the reality is that we aren’t likely to see the generation of electricity from the motion of waves or tides … except from demonstration sites.

Wave energy is a boondoggle, and not suitable for the use of tax payer money when the nation is already seriously in debt.

* * * * * *

Nothing to Fear, Part 2, explores the problems of using wind and solar for generating electricity.

Nothing to Fear is available from Amazon and some independent book sellers.

Link to Amazon: http://amzn.to/1miBhXy

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

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© Power For USA, 2010 – 2017. 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.

The Final Nail?

January 6, 2017

When first introduced, electricity from nuclear power was to be too cheap to meter.

Then, while the first nuclear power plants were being built, extensive delays and modifications resulted in large cost overruns. The utilities incurred these cost overruns, as the contracts were mostly cost-plus, where the construction companies were reimbursed for their costs.

By the end of the last century, 100 nuclear power plants providing 20% of America’s electricity had been built, but the sentiment in the industry was that nuclear power was too costly.

The constant changes and delays while building the first 100 nuclear power plants were attributed to construction being done on site where it was difficult to control events and costs.

It was thought that costs could be controlled by building major components in a factory and then shipping them to the site for installation.

It was believed that a factory environment would allow for the use of manufacturing disciplines and quality control that would keep costs under control.

At the start of this century, there was support for a nuclear renaissance, where new nuclear power plants of a new and safer design could be built at a reasonable cost, with major components being built in a factory.

Vogtle nuclear power plant. Photo courtesy of Southern Company Inc.

Vogtle nuclear power plant. Photo courtesy of Southern Company Inc.

The Fukushima disaster raised the specter of radiation danger once again, but the new generation of nuclear power plants would shut down safely and automatically if there was a problem.

As construction was started at the four new nuclear power plants, two in Georgia and two in South Carolina, there was great confidence that this time it would be different: Costs would be controlled and the plants would be built on schedule.

With last week’s announcement that Toshiba would take a multi-billion dollar charge against operations due to cost overruns, quality control problems and delays at the four nuclear power plants being built in the United States, it is now clear that nuclear power may be dead … at least for the foreseeable future.

Westinghouse, the Toshiba subsidiary building these new nuclear power plants, has experienced many of the same problems that occurred in the last century.

Toshiba’s stock fell 30% with the announcement confirming the problems at Westinghouse, and of problems with the construction of other nuclear power plants being built in other countries.

Whereas the utilities incurred the overrun costs in the last century, this time the contracts were written so that the construction companies and supplier of reactors incurred most of these extra costs.

Nuclear power was already dying a slow death in the United States as there was considerable doubt whether existing nuclear power plants would receive a second extension to their operating licenses. See Nothing to Fear for a description of why nuclear power is dying in the United States.

The problems at Westinghouse probably preclude any construction company or supplier of reactors from entering into contracts where they would be liable for cost overruns, and it’s doubtful that any utility regulator would allow any utility to assume such liabilities in the future.

This may have been the final nail in the coffin for nuclear power in the United States.

* * * * * *

Nothing to Fear, Appendix, explains why nuclear power is dying in the United States.

Nothing to Fear is available from Amazon and some independent book sellers.

Link to Amazon: http://amzn.to/1miBhXy

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

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© Power For USA, 2010 – 2017. 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.

Kemper Travesty is No Way to Save Coal Mining Jobs

January 3, 2017

Recently, members of Congress from both parties have put forth proposals to continue or increase subsidies for power plants that capture CO2.

The most notorious of these plants is the disastrous Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) power plant in Kemper County, Mississippi.

These proposals are being made under the banner of saving coal mining jobs, which is a ruse.

Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, met this month with president-elect Trump to discuss “a realistic path forward for coal,” saying Kemper was a “first-of-a-kind project that are often problematic.”

But, Kemper is not a first-of-a-kind project. Two other IGCC power plants have been built, both with terrible economic results.

Photo of Kemper Power Plant, courtesy of Mississippi Power Company

Photo of Kemper Power Plant, courtesy of Mississippi Power Company

The first IGCC power plant was in Tampa, Florida, where two such plants were to be built, but the second was cancelled after costly problems with building the first plant.

Another IGCC power plant was built in Edwardsport, Indiana by Duke Energy in 2013, with terrible economic consequences. Originally it was to be built for $1.9 billion, but actually cost over $3.5 billion.

IGCC power plants cost around $6,000 per KW to build, which is about the same as a nuclear power plant.

Quoting from the Wall Street Journal, “One of the bills, filed by Republican Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas, seeks to raise subsidies and continue them indefinitely rather than have them expire once 75 million metric tons of carbon dioxide have been captured, a milestone under the current law that is expected to be reached by 2019.”

Continuing or increasing subsidies for IGCC power plants is a travesty against tax paying Americans.

An additional travesty is that no more ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plants can be built in the United States because of the new EPA regulations, while a truly clean ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plant was built by Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO) in Texarkana, Ark. in 2012, shortly before the EPA issued its regulations on CO2 emissions from power plants.

SWEPCO’s, John W. Turk Jr. power plant, rated 600-MW, is a modern, ultra-supercritical plant, built for less than half what an IGCC power plant will cost.
Ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plants meet all EPA requirements except for the amount of CO2 they emit. They are 40% more efficient than traditional coal-fired power plants.

The John W. Turk plant was completed shortly before EPA issued its rules limiting CO2 emissions from power plants, where coal-fired power plants are limited to 1,400 lbs CO2/MWh.

Ultra-supercritical plant CO2 emissions are around 1,700 lbs CO2/MWh.

Modifying the EPA rule, even as a temporary method before eliminating the rules entirely, to accommodate ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plants would be a far better method for saving coal mining jobs than wasting billions of tax payer dollars on subsidies for monstrous IGCC power pants.

* * * * * *

Nothing to Fear, Chapter 12, explains why carbon capture and sequestration will not work.

Nothing to Fear is available from Amazon and some independent book sellers.

Link to Amazon: http://amzn.to/1miBhXy

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

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© Power For USA, 2010 – 2017. 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.

Devastating Fuel Economy Standards

December 27, 2016

A $2.2 billion curse on the American economy.

This is the estimated cost to refiners for having to comply with the government’s program forcing renewable fuels on Americans.

This cost to refiners for buying RINs (Renewable Identification Numbers) is actually a tax on Americans.

The Oil and Gas Journal (OGJ) provided details on how this government program is costing Americans billions of dollars. Money that could be better spent on infrastructure that benefits everyone, not a few.

The Renewable Fuel (Volume) Obligation (RVO) is determined by the EPA annually, and establishes the obligation of refiners.

Quoting from OGJ, “The RVO is expressed in RINs, which attach to every gallon of renewable fuel produced at rates that vary with fuel type. One gallon of corn ethanol, has 1 RIN attached to it. If the producer sells the ethanol, the RIN goes with it.”

When a refiner blends ethanol with gasoline the RINs are separated and go toward the refiner meeting its RVO obligations.

If the refiner has too few RINs to meet this obligation, the refiner must buy the RINs from the open market.

Diagram from EPA website

Diagram from EPA website

The entire process is extremely complicated. Problems associated with the corrosive nature of ethanol limits where gasoline and ethanol can be mixed, i.e., blended, which creates additional costs.

There is also the problem of cellulosic ethanol not being available. Not only, is it not available, but it’s expensive.

Cellulosic ethanol is another rathole down which the government is throwing tax payer dollars.

The EPA explains, from its website,

“Congress created the renewable fuel standard (RFS) program in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and expand the nation’s renewable fuels sector while reducing reliance on imported oil.”

Here we have a program that is costing tax payers an exorbitant amount of money, while accomplishing very little, if anything.

There is no need, for example, to reduce reliance on imported foreign oil. Oil imports are decreasing due to increased production of shale oil.

It’s been demonstrated that ethanol doesn’t reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and it’s becoming ever more clear that GHG are not the cause of climate change.

It expands the renewable fuel sector when it’s uneconomic and unnecessary.

And, it uses corn, a food, to produce a product that will be burned. Using corn to make ethanol is a travesty against humanity.

The government created this monster of a program and encouraged farmers to participate in it.

Since the program is unnecessary, it needs to be disbanded in a way that minimizes harmful impacts on farmers.

The RFS program is an excellent example of government interference with free markets. The RFS program harms everyone by wasting tax payer money and encouraging farmers to invest in a useless, and some could say prejudicial activity, i.e., corn for ethanol.

* * * * * *

Nothing to Fear explains why CO2 isn’t to be feared. Chapter 15, An Alternative Hypothesis, describes Dr. Svensmark’s hypothesis on cosmic rays.

Nothing to Fear is available from Amazon and some independent book sellers.

Link to Amazon: http://amzn.to/1miBhXy

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

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© Power For USA, 2010 – 2016. 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.

EIA is in the Crosshairs

December 21, 2016

There has been a hue and cry over the Trump transition team asking DOE for explicit information, with a list of 74 questions.

The media has criticized the questions as a witch hunt targeting scientists. Michael Halpern of The Union of Concerned Scientists said,

“If the Trump administration is already singling out scientists for doing their jobs, the scientific community is right to be worried about what his administration will do in office. What’s next? Trump administration officials holding up lists of ‘known climatologists’ and urging the public to go after them?”

Of course, this is what the Attorney General from New York, and Senator Whitehouse of Rhode Island have already been doing by targeting so-called deniers.

Willis Eschenbach commented on all 74 questions in an article on WattsUpWithThat, http://bit.ly/2hp3dax His comments concern the relevancy of each question.

From EIA Web site

From EIA Website

I’ll limit my comments to the 15 questions relating to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), as many of my articles highlighted how the EIA published misleading information in support of the administration’s CO2 climate change agenda.

For example, the EIA included a charge for carbon in its LCOE calculation for coal-fired power plants without referencing the charge in the LCOE table. This charge for carbon inflated the LCOE for coal-fired power plants from 6 cents per kWh to 10 cents per kWh, a 67% increase.

The existence of the carbon charge was buried in the text accompanying the LCOE table, so most readers would miss it.

It used to be the practice of the EIA to publish realtime, current data, but beginning a few years ago, the EIA started publishing estimated, future LCOE costs. This hid the true nature of the high cost of wind and solar. For example, The EIA is currently publishing LCOE for power plants entering service in 2022 … these are estimates, not facts.

The cost of transmission lines to accommodate wind and solar are either omitted or trivialized in the EIA LCOE data. Their cost, however, can be very high. For example, the cost of transmission lines to achieve a mere 20% penetration by wind was developed by the Midwest ISO, and came to $80 billion … And this only covered the Eastern half of the United States.

Numerous articles have pointed out that wind and solar are unreliable and require backup by fossil fuel power plants, yet the cost of this backup power is omitted from the EIA’s LCOE calculations.

From my perspective, the 15 questions are appropriate and relevant, given the examples of EIA misinformation cited above.

List of transition team questions of the EIA.

  1. EIA is an independent agency in DOE. How has EIA ensured its independence in your data and analysis over the past 8 years? In what instances do you think EIA’s independence was most challenged?
  2. Part of EIA’s charter is to do analyses based on Congressional and Departmental requests. Has EIA denied or not responded to any of these requests over the last ten years?
  3. EIA customarily has or had set dates for completions of studies and reports. In general, have those dates been adhered to?
  4. In the Annual Energy Outlook 2016, EIA assumed that the Clean Power Plan should be in the reference case despite the fact that the reference case is based on existing laws and regulations. Why did EIA make that assumption, which seems to be atypical of past forecasts?
  5. EIA’s assessments of levelized costs for renewable technologies do not contain back-up costs for the fossil fuel technologies that are brought on-line to replace the generation when those technologies are down. Is this is a correct representation of the true levelized costs?
  6. Has EIA done analysis that shows that additional back-up generation is not needed? How does EIA’s analysis compare with other analyses on this issue?
  7. Renewable and solar technologies are expected to need additional transmission costs above what fossil technologies need. How has EIA represented this in the AEO forecasts? What is the magnitude of those transmission costs?
  8. There are studies that show that your high resource and technology case for oil and gas represents the shale gas and oil renaissance far better than your reference case. Why has EIA not put those assumptions in your reference case?
  9. Can you describe the number of personnel hired into management positions at EIA from outside EIA and compare it to the number of personnel hired into management positions at EIA who were currently serving at EIA?
  10. How does EIA ensure quality in its data and analyses?
  11. Where does EIA think most improvement is needed in its data and analyses?
  12. We note that EIA added distributed solar estimations to your electricity data reports. Those numbers are not part of your supply/demand balance on a Btu basis. Why has that not been EIA updated accordingly?
  13. How many vacancies does EIA have in management and staff positions? What plans, if any, does EIA have to fill those positions before January 20?
  14. Is the EIA budget sufficient to ensure quality in data and analyses? If not, where does it fall short?
  15. Does EIA have cost comparisons of sources of electricity generation at the national level?

Actually, the 74 questions asked of DOE will only provide important clues about the organization.

Summary

The media may be focussed on the 74 questions, but they are merely the tip of the iceberg.

Finally, there is the ultimate alternative, eliminate the DOE as proposed by William O’Keefe at http://bit.ly/2hlJfju

The appointment of Governor Rick Perry will certainly put the abolition of the Department of Energy in the crosshairs, as, in the past, he has said it should be abolished.

* * * * * *

Nothing to Fear is available from Amazon and some independent book sellers.

Link to Amazon: http://amzn.to/1miBhXy

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

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© Power For USA, 2010 – 2016. 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.

Dakota and the Pipeline Abyss

December 16, 2016

The political left is fighting hard to prevent the building of pipelines.

Currently, the most noisy protest has been to prevent the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. This pipeline is being built to transport oil from the Bakken shale oil fields to an Illinois refinery.

The Climate Disobedience Action Fund temporarily shut down five other pipelines in support of the group protesting the Dakota Access pipeline.

The name of this group, i.e., Climate Disobedience, actually defines the real purpose for all the attempts to shut down oil and natural gas pipelines.

These groups are attempting to impose their views on climate change on the rest of Americans.

They are opposing natural gas pipelines, because natural gas is actually methane, a greenhouse gas.

They are, for example, opposing the Vermont Gas Systems pipeline in Addison County, Vermont.

Some more examples:

  • Headline from WWLP. com, “Massachusetts residents oppose natural gas compression station.”
  • From Herald-Dispatch. com, “Cincinnati opposing proposed natural gas pipeline.”
  • From PennEnergy headline, “Protesters rallying against Boston-area natural gas pipeline project.”
  • From NPR, “[University of Vermont] Students Call On Leahy To Oppose Pipelines.”
Map of Natural Gas Pipelines feeding New England, from Climate Shift

Map of Natural Gas Pipelines feeding New England, from Climate Shift

Typically, other reasons are cited as to why pipelines shouldn’t be built. In North Dakota, it’s the possibility there may be Indian artifacts in the area, and that the pipeline, which is going under the Missouri River, might cause water contamination.

From an article in the Wall Street Journal:

  • The pipeline does not cross any land owned by the Standing Rock Sioux.
  • The project’s developer and the Army Corps made dozens of overtures to the Standing Rock Sioux over more than two years. Other tribes and parties did participate in the process. More than 50 tribes were consulted, and their concerns resulted in 140 adjustments to the pipeline’s route.
  • This isn’t about water protection. Years before the pipeline was announced, the tribe was working with the Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps to relocate its drinking water intake. The new site sits roughly 70 miles downstream of where the pipeline is slated to cross the Missouri River. Notably, the new intake, according to the Bureau of Reclamation, will be 1.6 miles downstream of an elevated railroad bridge that carries tanker cars carrying crude oil.

In Vermont, the protesters say the gas would come from Canada where fracking was used to extract the natural gas.

But, at the core of the protests is the idea that oil and natural gas affect the climate.
These protesters ignore some important facts.

  • Transporting oil by pipeline is the safest means of transport, far safer than transporting oil by rail or truck.
  • Natural gas is used for heating millions of homes in America, and without pipelines Americans might not be able to heat their homes during the winter except by burning wood. Oil is the other alternative for heating, and is widely used in New England.
  • Homeowners were hit with high prices for natural gas and electricity during the winter of 2013 due to insufficient supplies of natural gas because of pipeline inadequacy.
  • Natural gas is used for power generation, which, with the closing of coal-fired power plants, is becoming more important for providing people with low-cost electricity.

Blocking pipelines from bringing natural gas to New England power plants is endangering those living in New England with the potential for blackouts.

The law requires that homes have first priority on natural gas, so power plants might not be allowed to burn natural gas in the winter for a protracted period of time when temperatures are freezing.

The idea that CO2 and methane are the primary cause of global warming and climate change is being discredited by scientists in many parts of the world. The book, Nothing to Fear, explains why the sun may be the more likely cause.

Blocking the construction of pipelines is endangering all Americans, because pipelines are the safest method for transporting oil, natural gas and other petroleum products, such as gasoline, and because both oil and natural gas are vital to the safety and economic health of all Americans.

* * * * * *

From Chapter 16 of Nothing to Fear, The Tragic War on Fossil Fuels, “Mankind needs fossil fuels to eliminate poverty and sustain a healthy lifestyle.”

Nothing to Fear is available from Amazon and some independent book sellers.

Link to Amazon: http://amzn.to/1miBhXy

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

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© Power For USA, 2010 – 2016. 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.