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Wind and Solar in Perspective

January 8, 2016

The media continuously promote renewables, reporting on job creation, payments to farmers and other supposed benefits.

Unfortunately, the media ignores higher costs to consumers, the use of tax payer money for subsidies, the loss of jobs in the coal and related industries, and how it is the poorest among us who must pay the penalty for the higher cost of electricity caused by wind and solar.

Inevitably, the media promotes renewables so as to cut CO2 emissions, on the false assumption that renewables can replace the electricity generated by fossil fuels.

This table, from the Energy Information Administration, shows the percentage of electricity generated in the United States by source.

  • Coal = 39%
  • Natural gas = 27%
  • Nuclear = 19%
  • Hydropower = 6%
  • Biomass = 1.7%
  • Geothermal = 0.4%
  • Solar = 0.4%
  • Wind = 4.4%
  • Petroleum = 1%
  • Other gases ~ 1%

Two-thirds come from fossil fuels.

Wind generates only 4.4% of the electricity generated in the United States, after spending roughly $132 billion on wind turbine installations with an installed capacity of 65,879 MW.

The installed cost of these wind installations was approximately $2,000 per KW, which is twice the installed cost of a natural gas combined cycle power plant. And this doesn’t include the hidden costs of backup generation for when the wind doesn’t blow, or for the billions of investment in new transmission lines to bring wind generated electricity from where it’s generated to where it can be used.

It’s interesting to compare the residential cost of electricity in California, 15 cents per kWh, the state with the most emphasis on renewables and the highest renewable portfolio standards (RPS) of 33%, with the residential cost of electricity in Arkansas, 10 cents per kWh, where nearly 70% of the electricity is generated by coal and natural gas and where there is no RPS.

338-foot-tall wind turbine collapse, Scotland, 2015, from BBC Screenshot. Debris was widespread, but no residential buildings were nearby.

338-foot-tall wind turbine collapse, Scotland, 2015, from BBC Screenshot.
Debris was widespread, but no residential buildings were nearby.

The residential cost of electricity will inevitably rise much faster in California than in Arkansas, based on Germany’s experience with energiewende, where the cost of electricity is roughly 4 times as much as in Arkansas.

It’s also important to note that Germany, with its huge investments in solar and wind, has still only reduced its CO2 emissions by approximately 25%. Compare this with Obama’s stated goal of cutting CO2 emissions 80% by 2050, only 35 years from now.

When comparing the pitifully small amount of electricity generated by wind, solar and other so-called renewables, it’s obvious that trying to replace all the electricity generated by fossil fuels with renewables is a fool’s errand.

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The new book that explains why CO2 isn’t to be feared, and why fossil fuels can last a thousand years for the benefit of mankind.

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

The opening paragraph of Nothing to Fear sets the tone:

“Nothing to Fear explains why mankind has the ability to withstand nearly everything mother nature may throw at it, so long as mankind doesn’t institute policies that cripple its ability to respond to potential threats.”

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

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

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© Power For USA, 2010 – 2015. 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.

Nothing to Fear

January 5, 2016

This important new book is now available on Amazon.

Here is what Bryan Leyland, an expert on hydropower, says about Nothing to Fear.

If you have ever wondered about the reality of dangerous man-made global warming, or the costs of energy from wind farms and solar power, or the difficulties of operating a power system with intermittent generation, or the economics and environmental effects of biofuels, or whether or not carbon capture and sequestration is practical, this is the book for you.

It goes through the basic science and engineering and explains in simple language why the evidence says that dangerous global warming is not happening, wind and solar power and biofuels are expensive and impractical and carbon capture and sequestration is an impossible dream.

Finally it discusses the huge benefits that fossil fuels have brought to mankind and can continue to bring to the developed and developing world. It also discusses the advantages of nuclear power and the need for the United States to continue building this safe, clean and environmentally friendly form of power generation.

Donn Dears’ book deserves wide dissemination and it should promote much-needed debate on a very contentious and important range of subjects.

Donn has spent a lifetime in many different aspects of power systems engineering and the book combines this knowledge with an open and enquiring mind. It is highly recommended.

Bryan Leyland, based in New Zealand, is a world-respected expert on hydropower and has extensive experience in all forms of renewable energy.

He recently returned from Afghanistan, where he was a World Bank consultant for the refurbishment of a 100 MW hydropower station which had been built by the Russians in the mid-1960s.

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

He is not alone in his praise for Nothing to Fear. Here is another by Neil Jones:

Nothing to Fear is an important book for those who are troubled by the media’s constant exaggeration of climate change disasters. It reviews the alternatives to the CO2 hypothesis and describes the importance of fossil fuels to society and why they could benefit humanity for a thousand years.

Neil Jones is a retired telecommunications executive.

More endorsements can be viewed on the back cover of Nothing to Fear.

The opening paragraph of Nothing to Fear sets the tone:

Nothing to Fear explains why mankind has the ability to withstand nearly everything mother nature may throw at it, so long as mankind doesn’t institute policies that cripple its ability to respond to potential threats.”

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

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

 

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NOTE:

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© Power For USA, 2010 – 2015. 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.

Ten Most Important Articles of 2015

December 29, 2015

Here are articles of particular interest:

1. Energy efficiency was an important topic.

Only LEDs Can Significantly Cut Electricity Usage

2. CO2 emissions were enshrined at COP 21, when no government group has ever looked into whether atmospheric CO2 is a problem. Why hasn’t there ever been a study into what could be causing global warming and climate change? These two articles explore one such possibility.

Sun Power, Part 1 and Part 2

Sun Spot Cycle 24 as of January 2015

Sun Spot Cycle 24 as of January 2015

3. Storage of electricity is, and was, a crucial subject. This article discussed some alternative storage methods and their costs:

The Quest for Storing Electricity

4. Subsidies remain an important issue as we enter 2016, especially since Congress has just reauthorized subsides for wind and solar.

The Big Untruth

5. Rooftop solar was extolled by the media, without considering its negative consequences:

Rooftop Solar is Harmful, Part 1 and Part 2

6. America’s ability to develop and produce oil and natural gas has been an epic story in 2015. This article addressed how fracking continues to be improved.

Shale Oil Revolution Continues

7. Environmentalists continue to use an old propaganda technique in their attempts to discredit many scientists.

The Fraudulent 97% Consensus

8. Nearly all experts agree that carbon capture and sequestration is essential if CO2 levels are to be kept below 450 ppm, yet CCS is a pipe dream, as discussed in this article..

The Why and How of Carbon Capture and Sequestration

9. It’s an unfortunate aspect of today’s administration that it is using all elements of government to mislead Americans. The EIA is doing this with respect to the cost of renewables.

How to Fool Americans

10. Extremists have done great harm by scaring Americans about nuclear energy. Radiation is not to be feared, but rather respected.

Unreasonable Fear of Radiation

Watch for my new book, which will be available in January.

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© Power For USA, 2010 – 2015. 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.

Coal Ash Used Beneficially

December 22, 2015

Using coal to generate electricity produces ash, and this has been a problem.

Coal ash has most often ended up in surface compounds, or storage areas.

Coal ash is now regulated by the EPA, which says, from its web site, “Coal ash contains contaminants like mercury, cadmium and arsenic. Without proper management, these contaminants can pollute waterways, ground water, drinking water, and the air.”

Recently, two coal ash or slurry containment structures have collapsed, allowing large amounts of coal ash to enter rivers and streams.

Environmentalists have long claimed that coal ash was another reason to do away with coal-fired power plants.

No doubt, there are situations where coal ash has created problems.

But coal is an important source of energy.

Coal-fired power plants will be an important source of electricity for decades to come, even with the advent of low-cost natural gas as the result of fracking.

The EIA projects that coal will produce 35% of US electricity production in 2040.

With this in mind, its worth examining how coal-ash can be used beneficially rather than having it accumulate in storage ponds or land fills.

Approximately 130 million tons of ash, i.e., coal combustion products (CCP), were produced in the United States in 2014, up from 115 million tons in 2013.

(CCP includes coal ash, fly ash and fluidized bed combustion ash. Coal ash, as used in this article, refers to all three.)

At the same time, 62.4 million tons were used beneficially in 2014, up from 51 million tons in 2013.

From EPA web site

From EPA web site

Until 2014, the amount of coal ash being used beneficially had decreased each year since 2008. The reduction in the quantity of coal ash being used beneficially was probably due to concerns about whether the EPA would establish coal ash as a hazardous material.

When the EPA did not establish coal ash as a hazardous material in December 2014, it revived the beneficial use of coal ash, so there should be more coal ash being used in suitable products in the future.

Currently, there are two important uses of coal ash: It is being used in the manufacture of wall board and in concrete.

Approximately 40% of the wall board produced in the United State uses coal ash, while coal ash increases the durability of concrete.

Other potential uses for coal ash include.

  • Roofing materials
  • Bricks
  • Agriculture

The “EPA encourages the beneficial use of coal ash in an appropriate and protective manner, because this practice can produce positive environmental, economic, and product benefits.”

Coal ash can become a benefit rather than an impediment to using coal-fired power plants.

Watch for my new book, which will be available in January.

 

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NOTE:

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© Power For USA, 2010 – 2015. 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.

Adverse Effects of EPA’s Clean Power Plan

December 18, 2015

The effects of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) will be widespread across the United States, but a closer look at a Florida COOP demonstrates the negative consequences that the CPP will have on ordinary people.

The Seminole Electric Cooperative serves 1,400,000 people throughout much of Florida.

Seminole Electric Cooperative uses coal to generate most of the electricity it produces for nine distribution cooperatives. It primarily uses two 650 MW coal-fired power plants, a 500 MW natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) power plant and five aero-derivative peaking gas turbines rated 310 MW to generate electricity.

Nine distribution cooperatives distribute the electricity generated by Seminole to 1,400,000 people throughout many areas of Florida.

These people will be harmed by the effects of the CPP.

Map showing Florida coop's served by Seminole Electric Cooperative

Map showing Florida coop’s served by Seminole Electric Cooperative

The EPA’s CPP could require Seminole’s two coal-fired power plants to close prematurely. While many radical environmentalists will applaud their closing, Seminole’s customers will suffer the consequences.

These units, according to the EPA, will have 20 years cut off their operating life.

The loans associated with the two coal-fired plants amount to nearly $700,000,000, and these loans will have to be paid off even when the two coal-fired power plants don’t generate electricity and produce income.

Unfortunately, there will be a financial penalty for the 1,400,000 people as they will bear the burden of paying off these loans.

Interestingly, the Seminole coal-fired power plant that will have to be closed, received a “top plant award” from Power Magazine in 2009.

In addition, it is believed the NGCC power plants, that also produce CO2 emissions, will have to be operated at substantially reduced capacity.

Meanwhile, the lost generation from the two coal-fired power plants and from the NGCC power plants will have to be replaced.

It might be replaced with wind and solar, but these will make the electricity more costly for the 1,400,000 people served by Seminole. Renewables will also create reliability problems since solar and wind are unreliable.

Until now the 1,400,000 people served by Seminole have paid a low price for their electricity, but the CPP will result in higher costs for electricity.

Many of the 1,400,000 people affected by the higher costs will be seniors, who can least afford the higher cost of electricity.

The CPP will also affect all Florida residents, of which 18.1%, or 5.331,000, are seniors.

While the other electric utilities serving Florida have a smaller percentage of their generating capacity using coal, it is still significant.

Using more natural gas in Florida may be a problem as studies have shown that the  transmission lines in Florida may not be able to accommodate the needed output from additional natural gas power plants.

According to the EIA, 23% of Florida’s electricity was generated using coal, and all the units that supplied this electricity will be affected by the CPP.

The end result is that all 5,331,000 seniors in Florida will be adversely affected by the CPP.

Since coal is the least costly method for generating electricity, followed closely by natural gas, the addition of wind and solar power generation facilities to replace the electricity that will no longer be generated from coal-fired power plants will mean higher costs for seniors, and also for low and middle income citizens.

The situation at Seminole is a microcosm of what will happen across the United States.

While the precise circumstances surrounding each location around the country will be different, the outcome will be similar: Higher costs for all Americans.

 

Watch for my new book, which will be available in January.

 

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© Power For USA, 2010 – 2015. 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 conten

 

Robots to Replace Human Workers

December 15, 2015

The following headlines highlight how robots might be able to replace human workers.

  • RoboBees with Laser Eyes Could Locate Disaster Victims
  • How Robots Are Building a 3D-Printed Metal Bridge in Amsterdam
  • Your Next Garbageman Could Be a Robot

(These three examples are from the LiveScience web site.)

In the 1970s, the factory of the future was to be the “next big thing”, a $25 billion market of which GE would have a 20% share.

GE lost at least $120 million (1980 dollars) in its efforts to develop robots for its factory of the future thrust.

Now, 45 years later, the headlines are still promising that robots have a future, so what went wrong? And do they have a future?

The answer to the second question is yes, because engineers now have a better understanding of the software needed to control robots, and because engineers recognize applications where robots can work.

When GE first embarked on its factory of the future program, it had been developing robots for several years, and believed that a robot could be trained to self generate the program for controlling its motions. Under this scenario, a robot would be manually walked through each step of a process, where it would remember the motions so they could be repeated continuously when the robot was in operation. GE also had a leadership position in the controls and communication devices needed to interconnect equipment, which supported its efforts.

The vision was sound, but an understanding of the technical requirements was lacking.

There were successes, but in nearly every success the processes were highly repetitive: Spot welding robots manufacturing automobile frames, and robots painting identical parts are examples.

All businesses within GE were encouraged, better stated ordered, to develop applications using robots in their plants. In one of my plants, an attempt was made to use a robot to weld various components, but the variations encountered were too great to allow the robot to work without constant supervision. No savings could be identified, and costs actually increased.

Robots, to be successful, must be able to control precise, intricate motions that are very often understood by the workman, but not by the programmer creating the code that is to control the robot. Situations, such as in welding, where the human operator can automatically respond to unexpected variations in the job at hand, are extremely difficult to program.

From LinkedIn Discussing Martin Ford’s book, The Rise of the Robots: Is this Time Different?

From LinkedIn Discussing Martin Ford’s book,
The Rise of the Robots: Is this Time Different?

Repetitive applications are ideal candidates for robots, so RoboBees with laser eyes, programed to fly a predetermined route is realistic. Using drones to map agricultural fields with LiDAR to ascertain crop yields is already being done successfully.

An important lesson to be learned from the history of robots is that new technologies can take decades to become economically viable.

A good example is battery powered vehicles (BEVs). While BEVs work, they are not economically viable because of the high cost of the battery used to power the vehicle.

While there are new methods for designing and producing batteries being developed in the laboratory, such as Sakti’s solid state manufacturing of battery cells with material deposition, it could be years before they will dramatically reduce the cost of batteries in BEVs. It’s very likely that BEVs will be a niche product that can’t compete economically with gasoline powered vehicles for decades.

Solar power is another example where the process works, but is uneconomic. Someday, it may be possible to use the sun to generate electricity economically, but there is nothing on the horizon to indicate it will be economically viable within decades.

Even robots that are now becoming viable will have limited applications. It will require advances in software development, with self learning and sophisticated feed back loops, often referred to as deep learning, before robots become truly flexible.

Watch for my new book, which will be available in January.

 

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© Power For USA, 2010 – 2015. 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.

Ocean Acidification is a Ploy to Scare People

December 11, 2015

One of the founders of Greenpeace has published a paper clearly demonstrating that ocean acidification is merely a tactic being used by environmental extremists to scare people into believing that CO2 emissions could cause the oceans to become acidic and, as a result, cause the extinction of shellfish and corals, and much of marine life.

Ocean acidification, if it were true, would be a far more serious threat than rising temperatures or climate change.

Alarmists have created an issue divorced from climate change.

It allows environmental extremists to claim that CO2 emissions must be eliminated even though CO2 doesn’t cause rising temperatures or catastrophic climate change.

The paper, Ocean Acidification Alarmism in Perspective, by Patrick Moore, examines the issue in considerable depth and concludes that CO2 entering the oceans will not result in the oceans becoming acidic or cause extinctions of marine life.

It’s obvious to anyone who has taken high school chemistry that the oceans are basic, and could never become acidic.

Extremists use the term acidification to infer that CO2 might be able to make the oceans less basic, which misleads people into thinking the oceans can become acidic.

Environmental extremists also make the claim that shell fish and corals cannot contend with higher levels of CO2 in saltwater as the CO2 would create an acidic, less basic, environment that would prevent shellfish from forming calcium carbonate by using the calcium and CO2 dissolved in seawater.

The alarmists also contend that the killing off of these species will spread to the extinction of other marine life.

Dr. Moore’s, paper deals with successive issues, from whether CO2 can cause the oceans to become acidic, to whether CO2 in the oceans can disturb or interrupt the ability of shell fish and related organisms to contend with higher levels of CO2.

The paper states,

“The pH of the world’s oceans varies from 7.5 to 8.3, well into the alkaline scale. It is therefore incorrect to state the oceans are acidic or that they will become acidic under any conceivable scenario.”

Dr. Moore’s paper establishes that CO2 levels have varied widely over millions of years, without adversely affecting the ability of marine life to survive.

Chart from Dr. Moore's paper showing relationship between CO2 and Temperatures.

Chart from Dr. Moore’s paper showing relationship between CO2 and Temperatures, millions of years before present.

Among other items of interest, the accompanying graph shows that current atmospheric CO2 levels, despite a small recent uptick, are among the lowest in the Earth’s history.

Also, as noted by Dr. Moore,

“During the late Carboniferous Period and into the Permian and Triassic Periods, CO2 was drawn down from about 4,000 ppm to about 400 ppm, probably owing to the advent of vast areas of forest that pulled CO2 out of the atmosphere and incorporated it into wood and thus into coal.”

The ability of organisms to adapt to changing environmental conditions was explored in depth by Dr. Moore in his paper.

Dr. Moore’s final conclusion is that:

“There is no evidence to support the claim that most calcifying marine species will become extinct owing to higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere and lower pH in the oceans.”

Extreme environmentalists are creating a new threat, ocean acidification, now that their existing claims of dire catastrophes from climate change are being refuted by scientists.

As they have done in the past, they constantly create new threats that create an unending attack on modern life and modern civilization. It exposes them for what they are, anti-people, anti-civilization extremists.

Quoting from Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb:

“Over population is now the dominant problem.”

Ocean acidification is merely another bogus threat, promulgated by extreme environmentalists.

Watch for my new book, which will be available in January.

 

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NOTE:

It’s easy to subscribe to articles by Donn Dears.

Go to the photo on the right side of the article where it says email subscription. Click and enter your email address. You can unsubscribe at any time.

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© Power For USA, 2010 – 2015. 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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