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Millennial’s May Have to Delay Buying First Home

September 27, 2016

It’s always been difficult for young families to buy their first home. I was 28 before I could afford mine.

Millennials, for example, are beginning to buy their first home. But will they continue to be able to do so, and what about generation Z, which is next in line.

Saving enough for the down payment, and earning enough to qualify for a mortgage is hard enough, but what happens when the cost of homes goes up?

Especially, when it’s the government that’s forcing the price of homes to rise.

That’s what is happening in California, and will happen in other states too, if extreme energy efficiency measures are put in place.

ca-2016-energy-efficiency-stds

California is putting measures in place that will force builders to construct new homes with much higher levels of energy efficiency.

And, this is increasing the cost of homes in California.

California regulators are establishing rules so that every home built by 2020 is a Zero Net Energy (ZNE) home. ZNE homes must not use more energy than they produce.

It’s almost a requirement that ZNE homes have PV rooftop solar panels to generate electricity, while also being extremely energy efficient. (Geothermal, and wind are conceivable alternatives to PV rooftop solar in a few situations.)

For example, in Southern California, the cost of a PV rooftop solar installation is approximately $21,000 dollars, and will save approximately $2,500 a year in electricity costs. This installation requires 8 years to recover the investment, which means, in economic terms, it’s a poor investment.

Equally important, the cost of the home is increased by $21,000, making it more difficult for young families to save enough for a down payment.

But this is only half the story, because the home must also conform to new energy efficiency standards that will further increase the cost of a new home.

To meet these new efficiency requirements, homes must be far better sealed.

Rather than using wooden 2×4’s, the industry standard for decades, homes might have to use “insulated concrete panels and polystyrene walls to create a sealed envelope.” At least, this is what Meritage Homes Corp. says it may do.

There aren’t many options for sealing and increasing the air-tightness of a building, or improving its insulation level.

For example, the Reston Association, near Washington DC, proposed reviving the straw bale techniques of pioneer days, with a new building having walls a foot thick, and using straw for insulation to improve energy efficiency.

It should also be noted, sealing a home too tightly can degrade inside air quality.

The California government is proposing that all appliances be rated energy star, and interconnected with a controller so that dishwashers, washing machines and clothes driers only function when electricity is at its cheapest, which is during nighttime. They also propose windows be energy rated so as to reduce the amount of heating caused by the sun.

Low-E windows could cost $20,000 to $30,000 for a typical home.

Here’s what DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) said about triple pane windows it has used in its studies:

“It would take 23 to 55 years to save enough on a utility bill to cover the higher cost of the windows, based on national electricity costs.”

Low-E windows, energy efficient appliances and controllers being required by government, could add another $20,000 to $40,000 (possibly more) to the cost of a new home.

All told, PV rooftop solar panels (or equivalent) and energy efficiency requirements, mandated by government regulations, could increase the cost of a new home by $40,000, and possibly twice that much, thereby forcing millennial and generation Z families out of the housing market.

The reason for forcing people out of the housing market is to reduce CO2 emissions.

By 2050, California plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% below 1990 levels.

California says residential buildings account for 32% of the state’s electricity usage, while commercial buildings account for 37%, therefore new regulations are required to force builders to build more efficient, and more expensive buildings.

And, of course, what about existing buildings?

What new regulations will be put in place to force existing homeowners to add insulation, or replace existing appliances with more efficient appliances.

These same types of regulations are being planned for other states, because they too will need to force people to spend money on energy efficiency, and, possibly, PV rooftop solar to achieve ZNE homes.

In California, electricity prices are rising. The Energy Commission says that homeowners can offset the higher cost of electricity by investing in energy efficiency and PV rooftop solar, thereby justifying the cost of the added investments. As prices rise, efficiency becomes more valuable.

But this is an hypocritical argument, because it’s the government that’s forcing utilities to use expensive and unreliable wind and solar, which is causing electricity prices to rise in the first place.

Government is creating the higher cost of electricity, while expecting homeowners to offset the higher cost by investing more of their hard earned money in energy efficiency.

Forcing people, industry and utilities to cut CO2 emissions is a fool’s errand, because it hurts Americans without any possibility of eliminating the threat from climate change.

It’s all pain and no gain.

* * * * * *

Nothing to Fear, Chapter 14, Impossible Objective, provides data on the quantity of CO2 emissions from each sector of the U.S. economy, and why it’s impossible to cut CO2 emissions enough by 2050 to stop climate change, if it really is caused by CO2.

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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Wall Street Journal Lurches Left

September 23, 2016

Until now, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) could be read without concern over the veracity of its articles.

That is changing.

Today, it’s necessary to verify the facts and content of WSJ articles.

On September 14, the WSJ included a special section, Innovations in Energy.

The centerpiece of this special section was The Coming Price on Carbon, a full page article, proposing that a price on carbon was necessary, in part, at least, because Moody’s, and others, considered uncertainty over carbon a financial risk.

It went further to say, not only was it necessary, but that industry favored it, that the COP 21 agreement committed the United States to cutting CO2 emissions, and that a carbon tax would not put the United States at a disadvantage to China and others, because they are pursuing actions to cut CO2 emissions by using cap-and-trade.

Interestingly, the article said, “U.S. trading partners have priced carbon, and so Americans already pay for carbon in goods from those countries, which include European Union countries, Japan and South Korea.”

The fact we are already paying more, doesn’t seem like a good reason to inflict additional economic pain on Americans. It hardly seems rational to add a carbon tax to the goods we produce, just because some other country adds one to the goods they produce.

From Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) web site: Picture of power plants releasing steam into the air.

Steam from a power plant, used as a symbol of CO2 emissions.

In so far as industry support for a carbon tax is concerned, much of that comes from companies, like Total, BP and Shell, based in Europe where there already is a carbon tax in the form of cap-and-trade. It’s true that Exxon has also said they favor a carbon tax, but as producers of natural gas they would benefit when competing with coal, while also fending off environmental extremists who want the government to prosecute Exxon for supposedly committing fraud.

The WSJ allowed this article to be printed, even though there were factual errors and misleading information contained in the article.

Here are three examples of inaccurate or misleading statements from the WSJ article, The Coming Price on Carbon.

  • The article claims that the cost of solar has fallen and “put the price of power in parity with natural gas in some markets.” I know of no such instance, and in fact, even the Energy Information Administration (EIA) admits that the levelized cost (LCOE) of solar is significantly higher than from natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) power plants and from coal-fired power plants.
  • The article claims that the price of batteries for backing up solar has come down 50%, but, while this may be true, the cost of battery storage is still far greater than the cost of building an NGCC power plant and generating electricity. The cost of battery storage is at least $2,000 per KW, which is twice the cost of building an NGCC power plant. Battery storage is not economical.
  • The article says that industry doesn’t want to invest in carbon capture and storage (CCS), which is probably true. CCS is not only exorbitantly expensive, it won’t work. Integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plants cost 6 times as much as a natural gas power plant. Storing huge quantities of CO2 underground for centuries without leaking back into the atmosphere, quantities that are millions and millions of tons greater than have been tried thus far, is probably not possible, especially when there are examples of how gasses stored “securely” underground have leaked into the atmosphere. See, Kemper is No Keeper.

The article assumes that CO2 is the cause of global warming, and that a price must be put on carbon.

But that in itself is a false assumption, because CO2 may very possibly not be the cause of global warming.

The article completely ignores the possibility that the sun is the cause of global warming.

If the WSJ didn’t want to force the author to rewrite the article, it could have offered a rebuttal to all the false and misleading information contained in the article. The WSJ did publish an article, A Price on Carbon? Don’t Bet on It, that examined the political reasons why congress wouldn’t impose a price.

But, saying a carbon tax won’t happen because of politics, is vastly different from saying the original article was misleading and inaccurate.

It’s the accuracy and truthfulness that is missing from the WSJ special section.

Allowing misinformation to stand without questioning it, should be unacceptable.

It’s tragic, it’s no longer possible to read the WSJ and believe the information will be factually correct. Virtually the entire special section, Innovations in Energy, is an opinion piece that should have been in the editorial section.

This is the second time within a month that the WSJ has published misleading and inaccurate information, without providing an explanation. See, Wall Street Journal Drinks the Kool Aid.

* * * * * *

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, including the Heartland Institute.

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.

Is The Strategic Petroleum Reserve Necessary?

September 20, 2016

Recent media stories have claimed the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) is no longer necessary, or that oil from the reserve could be sold to offset the budget deficit.

With this in mind, it’s important to evaluate exactly what the SPR is capable of doing, and what it means to the national security of the United States.

A recent Department of Energy (DOE) report concluded that:

  • The United States could not meet its international obligations, established by treaty, if there was a severe interruption to the world’s oil supply.
  • The SPR facility, due to its age, requires considerable new investment to bring the facility up to date, and ensure its ability to operate.
  • Changes to pipeline flows caused by shale oil production has resulted in the SPR not being able, under some circumstances, to deliver oil to where it’s needed in the U.S.

What are the potential threats to the world’s oil supply?

Major choke points in oil flows from EIA

Major choke points in oil flows from EIA

From the map, three choke points are obvious, together with the amount of oil flow, in million barrels per day, that could be interrupted.

  • Strait of Hormuz, 17
  • Bab el Mandeb, 3.8
  • Suez Canal, 4.5

To these must be added major oil processing or shipping installations.

  • Ras Tanura or Al Jubayl (Saudi Arabia, Persian Gulf export terminals), 3.0 ea.
  • Abqaiq, 8.0

Blockage of the Suez Canal or the Bab el Mandeb would result in an interruption of oil supplies for about two months, as tankers are rerouted around Cape Agulhas, South Africa.

For reference, here are the disruptions used by DOE in its report and computer projections.

Chart from DOE SPR report

Chart from DOE SPR report

  • It’s important to note that the DOE report assumed 8 mmb/d disruption if the Strait of Hormuz is blocked, which grossly underestimates the threat. Even so, DOE determined the U.S. could not meet its treaty obligations.
  • Similarly, the Abqaiq threat is underestimated. Approximately 80 to 90% of Saudi oil must be processed through Abqaiq.

The U.S. is obligated by treaty to export, from the SPR, 44% of the amount of oil that the IEA determines is required under “collective action”. In the case of the Strait of Hormuz, the U.S. would be required to export 7.5 mmb/d, from its SPR, which is impossible since the maximum amount that can be released is 4.4 mmb/d, for 3 months, after which the amount is reduced to 3.8, 3.4 and1.9 mmb/d.

Similarly, the U.S. could not meet its treaty obligations if Abqaiq was severely damaged.

Chart from DOE SPR report, showing current 695 million barrel capacity of SPR, together with drawdown rates.

Chart from DOE SPR report, showing current 695 million barrel capacity of SPR,
together with drawdown rates.

If either the Strait of Hormuz was blocked or Abqaiq was severely damaged, the U.S. would release 4.4 mmb/d from the SPR, and sell it to the world. This would help reduce the impact on the world price of oil, which would nonetheless spike due to the sharp reduction in supply.

In all other situations, the U.S. would be able to meet its treaty obligations by exporting 2.0 mmb/d, or less, for about 5 months, while distributing the balance of oil from the SPR to U.S. refineries. (Exports help maintain oil supply around the world and mitigate the tendency of the price of oil to spike.)

It should be noted that the other countries with a Strategic Petroleum Reserve must also release oil, which in total, will be about 10% more than the release from the U.S. SPR. Combined, these releases will restore, at least partially, the amount of oil available to world markets.

Market forces would find it virtually impossible to react quickly to resolve oil supply shortages if there was a sudden disruption to oil supplies amounting to 4 to 5% of world supply, or around 4 mmb/d. Market forces would, unfortunately, probably exacerbate the spike in oil prices with demand far exceeding supply.

Computer models have attempted to show both, that the SPR is beneficial, and, alternatively, that it is unnecessary. Factually, computer models are limited in their ability to handle unknowns, and merely reflect what some expert believes is the appropriate probability. For example, what probability should be assigned to a computer model for blockage of the Strait of Hormuz? The risk may only be 1%, which would likely show the SPR to be unnecessary, but if a blockage occurred, the consequences would be devastating without the SPR.

It’s easy to visualize how the Strait of Hormuz could be blocked for as long as 6 months.

It’s also very easy to visualize how Abqaiq could be severely damaged and put out of operation for a year. Similarly, the Suez Canal, Bab el Mandeb, Ras Tanura and Al Jubayl are all large, soft targets.

The United States consumes approximately 19 million barrels of oil per day, of which 6.4 million are imported. Approximately 4.5 million of these imports are from Canada and Mexico.

Assuming the United States could continue to import oil from Canada and Mexico, the SPR would provide enough oil in all but two cases, to allow U.S. consumption to continue at approximately 19 mmb/d.

In summary:

  • The SPR can protect the United States from serious consequences of major oil disruptions except in two cases: Blockage of the Strait of Hormuz, and severe damage to Abqaiq. Even in these cases, the SPR can mitigate damaging economic consequences.

Two conclusions can be reached from this cursory examination of the SPR.

  1. The SPR is important to the national security of the United States.
  2. Congress and the administration should not sell oil from the SPR to balance the budget, and Congress and the administration should appropriate and use the necessary funds to maintain the SPR in good operating condition.

NOTE:
Readers can forward this article to their Senators and to their Representative, or write to them, with copies of this article attached.

The media is not adequately reporting on the SPR. A recent WSJ article provided scant information on the importance of the SPR to national security. Contrary to the conclusions of this article, the Heritage Foundation, an influential Washington DC think tank, says Congress should pull the plug on the SPR because market forces are able to handle any and all supply disruptions.

They also claim, with some justification, that the SPR has been used by politicians for their political advantage.

While market forces could probably handle small interruptions, market forces can’t handle massive interruptions. The SPR is an insurance policy protecting the United States against the most serious threats.

The DOE SPR report is available at http://bit.ly/2cvMzpU

* * * * * *

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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.

VP Biden in Europe Supports Fracking

September 16, 2016

Speaking in Stockholm, Vice President Biden warned Europe against the proposed Nord Stream-2 pipeline that would bring more Russian gas to Germany. The existing 745-mile long underwater Nord Stream Pipeline, under the Baltic, brings large quantities of Russian natural gas to Germany.

Nord Stream Pipeline Route

Nord Stream Pipeline Route

The proposed Nord Stream-2 would essentially double the capacity of the Nord Stream pipeline.

Biden said, when indirectly referring to Russia, “No country should be able to use energy as a weapon, to coerce policies from other nations.”

Europe depends on Russia for 1/3 of its natural gas, while some Eastern European nations are wholly dependent on Russia for their natural gas.

Biden proposed, instead, that Europe should use LNG from the United States.

While this was a very sound proposal, and an important strategic option for Europe, the natural gas from the United States would come from fracking.

We now have the spectacle of Vice President Biden speaking out in opposition to the position taken by the Democrat platform that calls for the abolition of fracking.

The United States itself would have a shortage of natural gas if it weren’t for fracking.

Adding to this spectacle is that Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, has joined the Ukrainian gas company, Burisma, as a board member.

Another member of Burisma’s board is Devon Archer, a former senior advisor to current Secretary of State John Kerry.

As reported, “Mr [H.] Biden and Mr Archer are also managing partners at Rosemont Seneca Partners, a Washington, DC-based investment company.”

Meanwhile, Vice President Biden said, the United States will help Ukraine with “technical know-how” for horizontal drilling and unconventional natural gas production from shale, so that Ukraine can increase natural gas production.

All of this would be an excellent foreign policy position, except for a single factor:

It’s contrary to this administration’s actions, and those of environmental organizations such as the Serra Club, to kill fracking in the United States.

Without fracking there wouldn’t be any surplus natural gas from the United States.

Aside from the hypocritical nature of these events, they demonstrate that fracking can provide the natural gas needed by the United States, and, to some extent, Europe.

The war against natural gas, i.e., methane, is contrary to the interests of 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.

Censorship at Colleges

September 13, 2016

What’s being taught in colleges and universities about energy and energy issues?

This is the third article on this subject.

While the previous two articles discussed college professors in general, and the Great Courses specifically, this will highlight professors at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, who have outlawed free speech during their course. This came to light when a student’s letter was published on The College Fix web site.

Professors Rebecca Laroche, Wendy Haggren and Eileen Skahill, told students that there was to be no discussion of climate change during their course, either in class or between students during on-line forums.

Infrastructure associated with fossil fuels

Infrastructure associated with fossil fuels

The class, Medical Humanities in the Digital Age is to examine the health and medical consequences of climate change.

Several students had expressed concern after watching the first on-line lecture on the effects of climate change.

Students were told to keep silent about opposing views or drop the course.

Further restricting students’ ability to obtain a broad and diverse education, the students were told they could only use reference material that had been “peer-reviewed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).” The professors provided a link to IPCC material.

Obviously, anything that had been approved by the IPCC had to support the hypothesis of manmade climate change.

Additionally, the course syllabus indicated the course would study the health effects of fracking.

Assigned readings includes: “4 States Struggling to Maintain Radioactive Fracking Waste,” “EPA Study on Fracking Ignored Contamination Studies,” and “Frack Free Colorado: ‘Colorado’s Affected People.’”

These references were clearly one-sided.

The only conclusion any open minded person can reach is that this course is not education, but, instead, indoctrination.

For earlier articles on how professors are corrupting science for political purposes, See What’s Being Taught on Campus, and A Great Course Failure

The University of Colorado, Colorado Springs joins other campuses, and the Great Courses in indoctrinating their students on energy issues, rather than providing them an education.

* * * * * *

Nothing to Fear, Chapter 15, An Alternative Hypothesis, describes why the sun is the far more likely cause of global warming.

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.

Wall Street Journal Drinks Kool-Aid

September 9, 2016

An article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) misleads readers into thinking wind provides cheap electricity.

Texas is an ideal location for the use of wind and solar for generating electricity, perhaps one of the best areas in the country. If wind and solar aren’t competitive in Texas, they aren’t likely to be competitive anywhere else in North America.

Texas has areas that are very favorable for generating electricity from wind, and therefore, developers have invested heavily in wind farms. As a result, according to the WSJ article, wind represents 16% of installed capacity in Texas.

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) from wind farms will be 7.3 cents per kWh in 2020, four years from now. Obviously it’s more costly today.

The Institute for Energy Research (IER) has calculated the LCOE from land based, i.e., on-shore, wind today is 10.4 cents per kWh, which more accurately establishes today’s cost of wind power.

The WSJ article says the retail cost of electricity in Texas is 8.6 cents per kWh. How can the retail cost be 8.6 cents per kWh when it costs 10.4 cents to generate electricity from wind?

The answer is straight forward.

  • To begin with, wind provides a tiny portion of the electricity used by Texans. The 16% of installed generating capacity doesn’t translate into an equal percentage of electricity produced from wind. The capacity factor in the U.S. is generally less than 30%, but in Texas it’s probably somewhat higher, perhaps 33%. This means that wind contributes around 5% of electricity in Texas … a small amount.

In other words, low-cost natural gas is providing the bulk of electricity, and its what’s creating low-cost electricity for Texans.

  • Next, wind farm developers receive a subsidy of 2.3 cents per kWh for the electricity they produce. Wind farm developers can sell their electricity for practically nothing, and still make money. In fact, there have been instances where the wind farm developers have paid ERCOT to take their electricity so that the developers could receive the 2.3 cent subsidy.

It’s this subsidized low-cost that’s contributing to the low-cost of electricity for Texans.

The WSJ article is pandering to environmentalists and distorting the truth, so that people will get the wrong impression about the cost of, not only wind, but also solar. In truth, wind and solar are expensive and unreliable.

This chart shows the real effect of wind and solar where it has been used most extensively, Germany and Denmark. Countries such as Norway, which uses hydro for the bulk of its electricity, have far lower costs.

eu-electricity-prices-from-energy-matters

Depending on the exchange rate, the cost of electricity in Germany is around 3 to 4 times the cost of electricity in the United States.

The WSJ has done Americans a disservice by printing an article that distorts the facts while promoting wind and solar.

* * * * * *

Nothing to Fear, Chapter 9, The Utility Death Spiral, explains why displacing fossil fuels with wind and solar will result in the bankruptcy of Utilities and the possible takeover of the industry by the government.

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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National Security and Arctic Drilling

September 6, 2016

Top U.S. military leaders recently wrote to the Obama Administration emphasizing the need for continued drilling in the Arctic, in the interest of national security.

This was in response to a request from the Department of Interior for comments on proposed leasing from 2017- 2022. The military leaders wrote:

  • “As foreign policy and national security specialists, we support retaining the two Arctic leasing areas when the Program is finalized. The strategic significance of the Arctic is growing … Excluding the Arctic from the Program would harm our ability to protect our interests and to promote cooperation in the region.”

The military leaders went on to say:

  • “Russia, notably, has been investing heavily in the region with a world-leading 40 ice-breakers, new Arctic bases, airfields, and ports, and ambitious new energy development projects. Russia’s military has established an Arctic Strategic Command and conducted large-scale Arctic exercises.”
  • “PLA (Navy) destroyers and other combat ships sailed the Aleutian Islands as President Obama toured Alaska, the Chinese Navy’s first operation in the Bering Sea.”
  • “In contrast, Arctic capabilities of the U.S. have dramatically declined.” For example, the Coast Guard now has only two ice breakers, the same number as Estonia, while at one time the Coast Guard had 8.
  • “Our reduced Arctic presence and capabilities challenges the U.S. ability to positively influence all developments in the region.”
  • “Excluding the Arctic from the Program would signal retreat.”

Against this backdrop of concern for the interests of the United States, the AP reported that:

  • “Nearly 400 scientists have signed a letter urging President Obama to eliminate the possibility of Arctic offshore drilling … by taking the Arctic Ocean out of the next federal offshore lease sale plan.”
  • These scientists were concerned, “Global warming will be accelerated by burning oil found in the Arctic Ocean.”

It’s clear that there is considerable pressure to ignore our national security interests in favor of cutting CO2 emissions to comply with the Paris COP 21 accord.

Meanwhile, in May this year, Norway opened its Arctic waters to drilling by 13 oil companies.

Russia is taking the lead in Arctic offshore oil production. Gazprom Neft expects to more than double oil production this year from Prirazlomnaya field in the Pechora Sea.

Russia Arctic Circle

Russia Arctic Circle

Russia has also claimed considerable areas beyond its continental shelf, which could give Russia rights to resources beyond its 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone in the Arctic.

China isn’t sitting idly by, and has made some acquisitions with the Arctic in mind. “China also obtained an exploration license for Iceland’s Dreki region in the Norwegian Sea.”

President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau issued a joint statement concerning the Arctic.

A few salient items are as follows:

  • “The two leaders regard the Paris Agreement as a turning point in global efforts to combat climate change and anchor economic growth in clean development.”
  • “Canada and the U.S. will work together to implement the historic Paris Agreement, and commit to join and sign the Agreement as soon as feasible.”
  • “Both countries commit to work together to support robust implementation of the carbon markets-related provisions of the Paris Agreement.”
  • “Canada and the U.S., commit to take action to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector.”
  • “Canada and the U.S. affirm their commitment to reduce use and emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).”
  • “Reduce emissions from international aviation.”
  • “Commercial activities will occur only when the highest safety and environmental standards are met, including national and global climate and environmental goals.”

For the many other joint U.S. & Canadian commitments concerning the Arctic, see, U.S.-Canada Joint Statement on Climate, Energy, and Arctic Leadership.

America’s energy interests are in danger of being ignored because of the emphasis being placed on reducing CO2 and methane emissions so as to comply with the Paris accord, even though the accord is supposedly not a treaty, and has not been ratified by the Senate.

* * * * * *

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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Boring, But Important LCOEs

September 2, 2016

Levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) is what excites engineers and economists, and bores most other people, but can have profound effects on Americans.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) publishes LCOEs for various methods of generating electricity, such as for coal and solar, but their estimates are based on today’s conditions, or conditions a few years from now, for building new power plants.

What’s important, is that the LCOEs supplied by the EIA do not reflect the cost of generating electricity from existing power plants. Plants that have already been built.

A new study by the Institute for Energy Research (IER) has calculated the LCOEs for existing power plants and compares them with the LCOEs for new power plants.

These include adjustments for intermittency and capacity factors for wind and solar.

Today, we are scrapping 110,000 MW of existing coal and nuclear power plants before the end of their useful lives, and replacing them with wind and PV solar.

In other words, we are replacing existing power plants that generate low-cost electricity with new power plants that generate expensive electricity, merely because of new regulations and a political effort to cut CO2 emissions.

As explained below, these actions can harm the American economy, which kills jobs.

Here are the LCOEs for existing power plants, by type from the IER study.

  • Coal-fired: 4 cents per kWh
  • Natural gas combined cycle (NGCC): 3.4 cents per kWh
  • Nuclear 2.9 cents per kWh
  • Hydroelectric: 3.5 cents per kWh

Here are the LCOEs for new wind and PV solar power plants, from the IER study.

  • Wind 10.4 cents per kWh
  • PV solar 14.3 cents per kWh

The IER study did not include Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) plants, such as Ivanpah, but CSP LCOEs will be approximately 8 cents greater than for PV solar, based on earlier EIA estimates.

Since it’s doubtful there will be any significant building of new nuclear or hydro power plants, we need only examine coal-fired and NGCC power plants.

It’s obvious that replacing existing power plants before the end of their economic lives, with wind or solar, will increase the cost of electricity for all Americans. The cost of electricity produced by wind and solar is two to three times the cost of generating electricity from existing coal-fired or NGCC power plants.

LCOEs are an abstract for most Americans, so here is what the higher LCOEs for wind and solar mean for the American economy.

Americans used 3.9 trillion kilowatt hours of electricity in 2015.

If all of this, excluding hydro and existing wind and solar, were generated from new PV solar power plants, where electricity cost 10.9 cents per kWh more than from existing NGCC power plants, it would cost Americans an additional $379 billion each year. For wind, where wind costs 6.4 cents per kWh more than existing coal-fired power plants, it would cost Americans an additional $223 billion each year. (See note)

Just as lower gasoline prices helped fuel the American economy, higher costs for electricity will be a drag on the economy.

Gasoline at $2 per gallon, rather than $3, saved Americans $140 billion and had a beneficial effect on the economy. (Americans used 140.43 billion gallons of gasoline in 2015 according to the EIA.)

Imagine the negative effect on the economy if Americans spent an additional $379 billion for their electricity by using PV solar.

And $2 gasoline is temporary, while the high cost of electricity would be permanent.

Not only would the average American be paying more for electricity, over $3,000 per household for PV solar, they will have fewer job opportunities due to the effect of higher energy costs on the economy.

While it’s physically impossible for wind and solar to replace all base load power generation, the use of wind and solar in place of coal-fired or NGCC power plants increases the cost burden on all Americans. This burden is made even greater if a carbon tax is added to the cost of generating electricity.

CAISO Duck Curve

CAISO Duck Curve

About the ISO “Duck” curve:

  • California ISO “Duck” curve showing negative impacts of adding wind and solar to the grid. (a) Gutting base load power plant output (b) Dramatic need for storage to prevent huge ramp-up when sun sets

In addition, the higher percentage of wind and solar on the grid, as demanded by the government, will require storage, and storage costs were not included in the IER study.

It’s a fact that wind and solar will be an economic burden on all Americans if current efforts to cut CO2 emissions continue.

Wind and solar are bad for Americans.

LCOEs may be boring, but they are important and can demonstrate how different energy policies can have a huge impact on Americans.

 

Note about cost comparisons:

If the comparison was between new wind and solar versus new coal-fired and NGCC power plants, the extra financial burden on Americans would be lower. For example, $306 billion rather than $379 billion for NGCC power plants, because the new build cost for NGCC plants is 5.5 cents per kWh rather than 3.4 cents for existing NGCC plants. The IER report made no LCOE calculation for new coal-fired power plants, because EPA rules prohibit building new coal-fired power plants.

* * * * * *

Nothing to Fear, Part 2, Renewables, explains why wind and solar cost more and why they adversely affect the grid, and, using the California ISO “Duck” Curve, how they endanger the ability of utilities to survive.

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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Reversing a Long Standing Wrong

August 30, 2016

Environmental groups have used fear of radiation to scare Americans into believing that all radiation is dangerous, and that nuclear power is dangerous because of radiation … no matter how small the dose.

The linear no-threshold model (LNT), used by the EPA and other environmental organizations, claims that radiation can cause cancer no matter how small the dose.

The LNT model has been debunked for years by many highly respected scientists.

Professor Wade Allison, a Fellow of Keble College and Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford, is one of those distinguished scientists who has written about radiation and demonstrated that the LNT is wrong.

His book, Radiation and Reason, explains why.

He asks, with birds nesting unaffected in the Chernobyl sarcophagus and animals running around unscathed in the area around Chernobyl, “Is there something wrong with the accepted orthodox view of the dangers of radiation to life?”

Book Cover

Book Cover

Radiation and Reason describes, in considerable clarity, some of the basic principles surrounding radiation, including an overview of the entire radiation spectrum from AM radio to gamma rays. He explains why nuclear power is inherently safe, and made even safer with the latest designs that can shut down without fear of overheating the core.

By providing this overview, Professor Wade establishes a scientific basis for his comments that the reader can follow.

See an earlier article, Radiation Fears, for details about Chernobyl, and radiation around the world.

Now another scientist, Carol Marcus, M.D. and Ph.D, professor nuclear medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, says LNT is baloney, and, ”Essentially in the same category as, The Earth is flat.”

Dr. Marcus, in a pending petition to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), is asking the NRC to abandon the LNT model. And, quoting another scientist, she calls LNT, “The greatest scientific scandal of the 20th century.”

Quoting from the Wall Street Journal, “Dr. Marcus advocates an approach that holds that low radiation doses aren’t harmful and could even benefit people’s health — a phenomenon known as hormesis, possibly reducing cancer rates by stimulating the body’s protective systems. Among other things, she wants the NRC to raise by 50-fold its allowable annual radiation dose to the public.”

Unfortunately, and true to form, the EPA is against any changes to the LNT model.

Extreme environmentalists who cry wolf at every mention of radiation have done our country a terrible disservice. They have played on people’s lack of knowledge about radiation so that every mention of radiation elicits a negative response.

Fear, promoted by extreme environmentalists and the EPA, has resulted in the gradual destruction of the nuclear industry 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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Air Conditioning as Dangerous Climate Threat

August 26, 2016

According to environmental extremists, air-conditioning has been a disaster for the environment.

Secretary of State, John Kerry said, “Air-conditioners and refrigerators pose as big a threat to life on the planet as the threat of terrorism.”

Kerry made this claim because hydrofluorocarbons (HCF) refrigerants are a source of green house gas emissions that, according to extreme environmentalists, threaten the climate.

Kerry Cartoon re A:C

Gina McCarthy, EPA Administrator, said, during negotiations in Vienna last month, “[A] global deal would match new EPA regulations to ban HFCs in the United States and promote alternative chemicals for use in appliances.”

Eliminating HCFs would create a problem for homeowners and businesses.

At present, HCFs that harm the Ozone layer are no longer being used in air conditioning units or refrigerators. Freon has been outlawed.

New HCFs, that don’t harm the Ozone layer, are used today. All air-conditioning units in the United States use these new HCFs. Here are some examples of refrigerants currently in use:

R-410A

  • Often referred to by a brand name such as Puron®, Suva® 9100, or Genetron® AZ-20®
  • It is a hydro-fluorocarbon (HFC) that does not contribute to ozone depletion

R-407C

  • Often referred to by a brand name such as Suva® 407C or Genetron® 407C
  • R-407C is a hydro-fluorocarbon (HFC) that does not contribute to ozone depletion
  • It provides the simplest conversion from R-22, i.e., Freon, due to its similar pressures

R-134a

  • Widely used in many air conditioning and refrigeration systems globally
  • It is a hydro-fluorocarbon (HFC) that does not contribute to ozone depletion

Eliminating HCFs will affect all Americans, and increase their costs unnecessarily.

Homeowners, automobile owners and businesses will all be affected.

It should be noted that HCFs are used because they are the most efficient low-cost chemical available for operating refrigeration units, including air-conditioners. They are also safe, and don’t present a fire hazard.

There are other chemicals that can be used as refrigerants.

For example, ammonia is an effective low-cost refrigerant, but it isn’t safe. An ammonia leak will drive people from their homes. As a youngster, I remember having to evacuate our apartment building because a refrigerator using ammonia in an apartment above us leaked. Chloroform can also be used as a refrigerant, but it has a major downside.

Automobiles will shift to HFO-1234yf in 2017, but older cars will find it increasingly difficult, and probably more expensive, to find R134a, the currently approved refrigerant for automobiles.

CO2 can also be used as a refrigerant, but it operates at much higher pressures, at over 1450 psi, or ten times the pressure of current air-conditioning units. CO2 as a refrigerant will result in more heavily constructed, and more expensive air-conditioning units.

Even if a new refrigerant is developed for home air-conditioning units, new units will probably operate at higher pressures, requiring more expensive components resulting in more costly new air-conditioning units. Homeowners will find they will have to replace their existing air-conditioning units with new units that comply with the new EPA regulations when supplies of currently approved HCFs run out.

Europeans won’t feel the impact of doing away with HCFs, since only a small percentage of the population uses air-conditioning. Europe is requiring CO2 to be used as the refrigerant.

Americans will bear the brunt of any ban on HCFs.

Older refrigerators will have to be scrapped.

Think of people living in Florida, or other states that have high summer temperatures, such as Arizona, who will be required, at some point, to buy new, more expensive air-conditioning units.

Kerry says air-conditioning is a greater threat to the world than ISIS. Tell that to homeowners in Florida and the desert southwest.

* * * * * *

Nothing to Fear, Chapter 14, An Impossible Objective, explains why it’s impossible to cut CO2 emissions 80% without destroying America’s standard of living.

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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EPA Mileage Gap & Paris Climate Accord

August 23, 2016

EPA insists automobile manufacturers must exceed the 54 mpg mileage requirement in 2025, so that the U.S. can meet carbon targets agreed to at the Paris COP Climate meeting.

Christopher Grundler, director of EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality, said:

The U.S. will have to accelerate carbon reductions beyond current regulations … to meet targets called for in the global climate agreement reached in Paris last year.”

This conforms to the Democrat Platform, that said:

“We will transform American transportation by reducing oil consumption through cleaner fuels, vehicle electrification, and increasing the fuel efficiency of cars, boilers, ships, and trucks.”

The automobile manufacturers have already indicated they will not be able to meet the existing 2025 mpg requirements if they are to produce the type of cars Americans want.

This chart shows the huge disparity between the reality of todays actual 2016 mileage of 25.2 mpg, and the required 2025 mileage of 54 mpg, adjusted for allowances. See, Collision of Mileage Regulations and Technology, for information on these allowances.

Chart depicting large increase in mpg required by 2025.

Chart depicting large increase in mpg required by 2025.

Some might say car manufacturers have always cried wolf, but then met safety requirements despite their protestations. It’s difficult, however, to see how the mileage GAP can be addressed without the public buying tiny cars or expensive electric vehicles.

The public has demonstrated a desire for SUVs and pickup trucks, so the government will be forcing its wishes on Americans in order to meet the Paris climate, carbon agreement.

The mileage gap is around 30 mpg, or double existing actual mpg.

Yet, the EPA infers it wants even larger mileage mpg targets, so as to comply with the Paris climate, carbon accord.

EPA’s Grundler went on to say:

“We’re going to need to see a lot of zero and near-zero emissions technology coming into the fleet,” if we are to reduce CO2 emissions, as required by the Paris climate, accord.

This confirms the need for large numbers of expensive EVs, powered by batteries, if the U.S. is to meet the commitments of the Paris climate, carbon accord.

Americans will be forced by the EPA to buy these cars, or do without.

Is this the future Americans want?

* * * * * *

Nothing to Fear, Chapter 15, An Alternative Hypothesis, describes why the sun is the far more likely cause of global warming..

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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At Stake: America’s Energy Future

August 19, 2016

There is a profound difference between the Democrat and Republican platforms, with each platform advancing diametrically opposed visions for America’s energy future.

The Democrat platform is based on a blind adherence to the Paris Climate Accord, proclaiming that cutting CO2 emissions is of paramount importance, specifically by “reducing greenhouse gas emissions more than 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050.”

The platform declares:

“Our generation must lead the fight against climate change and we applaud President Obama’s leadership in forging the historic Paris climate change agreement. We will not only meet the goals we set in Paris, we will seek to exceed them …”

Screenshot of Democrat Platform Drafting Committee from CNN

Screenshot of Democrat Platform Drafting Committee from CNN

The Democrat platform’s extreme focus on cutting CO2 emissions ignores the real needs of Americans.

For example, the Democrat platform’s:

  • Support of wind and solar over traditional methods for generating electricity will impose higher electricity prices on all Americans
  • War on methane, i.e., natural gas will increase the cost of heating American homes
  • Proposed mandates for renewables of all kinds, with increased subsidies, will impose additional taxes on all Americans
  • Proposal to “transform American transportation” by imposing electric vehicles and biofuels on Americans, regardless of cost, will harm Americans
  • Proposal to impose a carbon tax on greenhouse gasses, including natural gas, i.e., methane, will drive up energy costs for all Americans
  • Support for banning fracking will create a shortage of natural gas and cut domestic oil production, which not only drives up the cost of heating homes and using electricity, but will also result in a need to import more oil from Mideast countries
  • Request to have the Justice Department investigate those who do not agree with the Democrat’s views on climate change is a threat to the freedom of all Americans

The Republican platform is the precise opposite of the Democrat platform, and places emphasis on stopping “unelected bureaucrats” from imposing their will on Americans.

The differences are both stark and profound.

There is no need to editorialize on the differences, because they speak for themselves.

Yet, the media virtually ignores these differences.

If it were merely a political issue, one might ignore the media’s continuing support of Democrats.

But this goes beyond politics.

It’s about America’s future, and the media, for the most part, shows a complete disregard for America and Americans. Five conglomerates own most of the newspapers and radio and TV stations in the United States, and this stifles the dissemination of information.

Without a free press, that is objective in its reporting, Americans are in danger of falling prey to mindless, uninformed social media rhetoric.

The differences between the two platforms are so profound that they deserve wide dissemination.

Unedited quotations from the Democrat and Republican energy platforms are at Energy Platform Comparisons.

* * * * * *

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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Now, Environmentalists Oppose Corn Ethanol

August 16, 2016

In a dramatic reversal, environmentalists now oppose ethanol produced from corn.

Groups such as Friends of the Earth, The Environmental Working Group and the National Wildlife Federation now say that producing ethanol from corn generates more greenhouse gasses than does gasoline, and that it harms the environment.

These same groups are now urging Congress to modify or do away with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requiring that ethanol be used in gasoline.

The EPA and this Administration have been urging just the opposite, by endorsing a higher percentage of ethanol for use in gasoline. Currently, ethanol content is limited to 10% because most manufacturers say ethanol in higher amounts will damage automobile engines, unless the vehicle has been specially built for larger amounts of ethanol.

In 2004, The Natural Resources Defense Council used a 96-page report proclaiming boundless biofuel benefits, such as slashed greenhouse gas emissions, improved air quality and more wildlife habitat.

Of course, it’s now clear this was merely typical misinformation from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Eight states are the largest producers of corn, and these are the states that will be affected by changes to the RFS. Representatives Peter Welch (D) of Vermont, and Bob Goodlatte (R) of Virginia, are cosponsoring such changes.

  • Iowa
  • Illinois
  • Nebraska
  • Minnesota
  • Indiana
  • South Dakota
  • Kansas
  • Ohio

“Collin O’Mara, president of the National Wildlife Federation, told a House committee last month that the RFS program has wreaked severe, unintended consequences, including the loss of prairie land and water-supply damage that threatens wildlife.”

If these environmental groups have been wrong on this issue, why should they be believed about other issues, when there is substantial evidence they are wrong?

PV rooftop solar is a good example of programs promoted by environmental groups, and the Democrat Platform, that actually hurt Americans with higher costs for electricity and more tax payer money used for subsidies.

Only one state, Hawaii, might possibly be able to use PV Rooftop solar economically. Without subsidies, PV Rooftop solar is uneconomic in every other state, with payback periods ranging from 8 to over 20 years.

There are, of course, some proponents of ethanol who want to cling to the use of corn based ethanol, including the Renewable Fuels Association, an organization with an obvious self interest in perpetuating the program.

Corn-based ethanol has been a drain on American pocketbooks, without environmental benefits.

Chart showing required amounts of ethanol by type, by year. Yellow: Corn based, Blue: Cellulosic, Green: Other advanced, Red: biodiesel

Chart showing required amounts of ethanol by type, by year.
Yellow: Corn based, Blue: Cellulosic, Green: Other advanced, Red: biodiesel

Beyond corn, cellulosic ethanol has been a failure, in that volumes have been far below what had been promised, with subsidies harming ordinary tax payers.

The accompanying chart shows how much cellulosic ethanol is required by the existing RFS, where it is now obvious that it is impossible to produce the required amounts of cellulosic ethanol.

The RFS program is intellectually bankrupt. See, False Promise of Biofuels.

Ethanol was promoted to cut CO2 emissions, and cutting CO2 emissions is at the heart of the Democrat platform. See, Energy Platform Comparisons.

* * * * * *

From Chapter 10 of Nothing to Fear:

“The possibility of producing biofuels economically and in required quantities seems remote … if not absurd.”

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.

How Outlawing Fracking Would Hurt Americans

August 12, 2016

The Democrat party platform calls for outlawing fracking wherever states have done so.

What would be the effect on Americans if fracking was outlawed?

To determine what would happen to Americans if fracking was outlawed, it’s necessary to view the situation before fracking was used to extract oil and natural gas from shale.

Natural Gas, i.e., Methane

Prior to the advent of fracking, the United States was running out of natural gas, and LNG import terminals were being built. It should be noted that Democrat activists opposed the building of LNG import terminals, which would have resulted in greater shortages of natural gas if fracking hadn’t been invented.

The price of natural gas was peaking at around $13 per million BTU in 2006 and 2009, compared with the recent henry hub price of around $2 per million BTU.

Eliminating fracking would result in a huge increase in the price of natural gas, which would increase the cost of heating American homes, and increase the cost of electricity for all Americans.

It would also kill jobs.

Since 2009, several chemical companies have been building new facilities in the United States to utilize the low-cost natural gas produced by fracking, to produce chemicals and fertilizer.

Eliminating fracking would result in much higher natural gas prices, causing chemical companies, once again, to export jobs to areas of the world, mostly in the Mideast, where there was low-cost natural gas. Over 400,000 jobs were lost during the 1990s and early 2000s as companies moved chemical plants to where the cost of natural gas was cheap.

Eliminating fracking would also eliminate the possibility of exporting natural gas, with the loss of additional American jobs.

Oil

In 2005, the United States imported 10 million barrels of oil daily, or roughly half of US oil consumption.

By 2015, oil imports had been reduced to 7.3 million barrels per day.

 

Oil imports, as reported by the EIA

Oil imports, as reported by the EIA

The ability of the United States to increase its oil production, as the result of fracking, had an important effect on the U.S. trade deficit.

 

Chart from the EIA

Chart from the EIA

 

As the chart shows, oil imports have a huge effect on the U.S. trade balance. With a nearly 30% reduction in oil imports, the trade deficit was substantially reduced. The exporting of petroleum products and crude oil also has a beneficial effect on America’s trade balance.

Without fracking, America’s balance of trade will be badly damaged, with a resulting increase in the, already huge, national debt.

Eliminating fracking also kills oil field jobs, just as the war on coal killed coal mining jobs.

Fracking has forced OPEC to stop attempting to control the price of oil. If fracking is eliminated, OPEC has nothing to prevent it from policies that result in higher oil prices.

Summary

Eliminating fracking, when even the EPA has said there was no systemic negative effects on water supply, would cause serious economic harm to the economy and to every American … especially the poor who can least afford higher prices for heating, food and electricity.

  • The cost of natural gas to heat homes would increase dramatically
  • Industries that use natural gas for producing materials such as steel would see their costs increase
  • The cost of electricity would increase, harming Americans and American industry
  • The cost of natural gas to chemical companies would increase substantially, with the resulting elimination of thousands of American jobs, just as happened in the 1990s and early 2000s
  • The cost of gasoline will increase as OPEC regains control of oil prices
  • The cost of food will increase as the cost of operating farm equipment and the cost of transporting farm produce increases as the result of higher oil prices
  • Jobs will be killed in the oil field and in manufacturing
  • The deficit, which is already over $19 trillion, will increase as trade balances deteriorate

Eliminating fracking would cause great harm to America and Americans.

* * * * * *

Nothing to Fear, Chapter 9, The Utility Death Spiral, explains why displacing fossil fuels with wind and solar will result in the bankruptcy of Utilities and the possible takeover of the industry by the government.

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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Energy Platform Comparisons

August 9, 2016

What follows are quotations from the platforms of the Democrat and Republican parties relating directly to energy issues.

Emphasis has been added, but no changes to words have been made. Each statement is a direct quote.

These platforms are dramatically different.

There is a clear choice between the Democrat party’s energy policies, and those of the Republican party. Except for highlighting differences, the platforms speak for themselves.

Trump & Hillary

Democrat Platform

Democrats share a deep commitment to tackling the climate challenge; creating millions of good-paying middle class jobs; reducing greenhouse gas emissions more than 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050.

We believe America must be running entirely on clean energy by mid-century.

We are committed to getting 50 percent of our electricity from clean energy sources within a decade, with half a billion solar panels installed within four years and enough renewable energy to power every home in the country.

We will cut energy waste in American homes, schools, hospitals, and offices through energy efficient improvements; modernize our electric grid; and make American manufacturing the cleanest and most efficient in the world.

We will transform American transportation by reducing oil consumption through cleaner fuels, vehicle electrification, increasing the fuel efficiency of cars, boilers, ships, and trucks.

Democrats believe the tax code must reflect our commitment to a clean energy future by eliminating special tax breaks and subsidies for fossil fuel companies as well as defending and extending tax incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy.

Democrats believe that carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases should be priced to reflect their negative externalities, and to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy and help meet our climate goals.

Democrats are committed to defending, implementing, and extending smart pollution and efficiency standards, including the Clean Power Plan, fuel economy standards for automobiles and heavy-duty vehicles, building codes and appliance standards. We are also committed to expanding clean energy research and development.

Democrats are committed to closing the Halliburton loophole that stripped the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of its ability to regulate hydraulic fracturing, and ensuring tough safeguards are in place, including Safe Drinking Water Act provisions, to protect local water supplies.

We believe hydraulic fracturing should not take place where states and local communities oppose it.

We will streamline federal permitting to accelerate the construction of new transmission lines to get low-cost renewable energy to market, and incentivize wind, solar, and other renewable energy over the development of new natural gas power plants.

The impacts of climate change will also disproportionately affect low-income and minority communities, tribal nations, and Alaska Native villages — all of which suffer the worst losses during extreme weather and have the fewest resources to prepare. Simply put, this is environmental racism.

The fight against climate change must not leave any community out or behind — including the coal communities who kept America’s lights on for generations. Democrats will fight to make sure these workers and their families get the benefits they have earned and the respect they deserve …

All corporations owe it to their shareholders to fully analyze and disclose the risks they face, including climate risk.

Democrats also respectfully request the Department of Justice to investigate allegations of corporate fraud on the part of fossil fuel companies accused of misleading shareholders and the public on the scientific reality of climate change.

We oppose drilling in the Arctic and off the Atlantic coast, and believe we need to reform fossil fuel leasing on public lands. We will phase down extraction of fossil fuels from our public lands, starting with the most polluting sources …

Democrats will work to expand the amount of renewable energy production on federal lands and waters, from wind in Wyoming to solar in Nevada.

We believe that in order to be effective in keeping our air and water clean and combating climate change, we must enlist farmers as partners in promoting conservation and stewardship.

Republican Platform

The EPA’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, issued jointly with the Army Corps of Engineers, is a travesty. It extends the government’s jurisdiction over navigable waters into the micro-management of puddles and ditches on farms, ranches, and other privately-held property. Ditches, dry creek beds, stock ponds, prairie potholes, and other non-navigable wet areas are already regulated by the states.

Unelected bureaucrats must be stopped from furthering the Democratic Party’s political agenda through regulatory demands forced upon citizens and businesses beyond that which is required by law.

We support the opening of public lands and the outer continental shelf to exploration and responsible production, even if these resources will not be immediately developed.

Because we believe states can best promote economic growth while protecting the environment, Congress should give authority to state regulators to manage energy resources on federally controlled public lands within their respective borders.

Keeping energy in the earth will keep jobs out of reach of those who need them most. For low-income Americans, expensive energy means colder homes in the winter and hotter homes in the summer, less mobility in employment, and higher food prices.

Clean Power Plan — the centerpiece of the President’s war on coal — has been stayed by the Supreme Court. We will do away with it altogether.

The taxpayers will not soon forget the current Administration’s subsidies to companies that went bankrupt without producing a kilowatt of energy. The same Administration now requires the Department of Defense, operating with slashed budgets during a time of expanding conflict, to use its scarce resources to generate 25 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2025.

Climate change is far from this nation’s most pressing national security issue.

We support the development of all forms of energy that are marketable in a free economy without subsidies, including coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear power, and hydropower.

A federal judge has struck down the BLM’s rule on hydraulic fracturing and we support upholding this decision.

We will end the Administration’s disregard of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act with respect to the long-term storage of nuclear waste.

We encourage the cost-effective development of renewable energy sources — wind, solar, biomass, biofuel, geothermal, and tidal energy — by private capital.

The United States is overwhelmingly dependent on China and other nations for rare earth and other hardrock minerals. … We support expediting the permitting process for mineral production on public lands.

We support lifting restrictions to allow responsible development of nuclear energy, including research into alternative processes like thorium nuclear energy.

We oppose any carbon tax.

American energy producers should be free to export their product to foreign markets.

We remain committed to aggressively expanding trade opportunities and opening new markets for American energy through multilateral and bilateral agreements, whether current, pending, or negotiated in the future.

Energy is both an economic and national security issue. We support the enactment of policies to increase domestic energy production, including production on public lands, to counter market manipulation by OPEC and other nationally owned oil companies. This will reduce America’s vulnerability to energy price volatility.

We propose to shift responsibility for environmental regulation from the federal bureaucracy to the states and to transform the EPA into an independent bipartisan commission, similar to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, with structural safeguards against politicized science.

We will strictly limit congressional delegation of rule-making authority, and require that citizens be compensated for regulatory takings.

We will put an end to the legal practice known as “sue and settle”, in which environmental groups sue federal agencies whose officials are complicit in the litigation so that, with the taxpayers excluded, both parties can reach agreement behind closed doors.

We will likewise forbid the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide, something never envisioned when Congress passed the Clean Air Act.

Congress shall immediately pass universal legislation providing for a timely and orderly mechanism requiring the federal government to convey certain federally controlled public lands to states.

Information concerning a changing climate, especially projections into the long-range future, must be based on dispassionate analysis of hard data.

We reject the agendas of both the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement, which represent only the personal commitments of their signatories; no such agreement can be binding upon the United States until it is submitted to and ratified by the Senate.

We demand an immediate halt to U.S. funding for the U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in accordance with the 1994 Foreign Relations Authorization Act.

Closing comment:

Climate change is at the core of the differences between the two visions for our energy future, with the Democrat platform fully committed to the CO2 hypothesis.

The Democrat platform confirms this by saying:

“Our generation must lead the fight against climate change and we applaud President Obama’s leadership in forging the historic Paris climate change agreement. We will not only meet the goals we set in Paris, we will seek to exceed them and push other countries to do the same by slashing carbon pollution and rapidly driving down emissions of potent greenhouse gases like hydrofluorocarbons.”

The entire platforms can be read by using these links.

Democrat 2016 Platform http://bit.ly/2akcEcg
Republican 2016 Platform http://bit.ly/2ayM38z

* * * * * *

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.

Deceitful Studies

August 5, 2016

Some organizations publish studies purporting to demonstrate why their proposals are good for America, but the studies are based on opinions masquerading as facts.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEE) recently published another study, quoted by the liberal media in Canada and the US, establishing that the US remained behind Germany in energy efficiency.

The ACEEE uses a methodology in their reports that include non-tangible policy issues, such as whether a government has enacted the types of legislation desired by the ACEEE.

Governments adopting these policies rank highly in ACEE studies, while countries that don’t adopt their environmental policies rank poorly.

Yet, these biased studies are used by the media to illustrate how backward the United States is in developing energy programs to cut CO2 emissions.

Germany, for example, as reported in the Canadian Globe and Mail, “Won its top position because it has set targets to reduce energy consumption 50% below the level of 2008 by 2050.”

Once again, ACEEE ranks China ahead of the United States in the ACEE’s overall measurement.

Their earlier studies have also shown the same bias against the United States. See, Calling For Government Mandates.

An interesting comparison is in the category of buildings, where China, with a score of 18, is almost tied with the United States, with a score of 18.5, for energy efficiency of buildings.

Anyone who has visited China knows that this ranking is absurd, if energy alone was the metric.

New apartment buildings in China don’t have heating or air-conditioning and lack elevators below the fifth floor. The government assumes people don’t need heating with temperatures of 40 degrees F since they can put on sweaters or jackets. People also don’t need air-conditioning with temperatures of 95 degrees F, temperatures that are not uncommon in much of China.

Interestingly, people who buy these apartments try to add heating and air-conditioning, as can be seen in this picture. They also hang out their wash on the balconies because they don’t have clothes dryers.

Air-conditioning units and clothes hanging to dry. Photo by Dears

Air-conditioning units and clothes hanging to dry. Photo by Dears

And, these new buildings are a huge improvement over buildings in rural areas that probably have little heating, and virtually no air-conditioning.

It’s also interesting to see how the United States compared with China in other areas, according to the ACEEE.

  • Water efficiency policy: China better than U.S.
  • Energy saving goals: China better than U.S.
  • Energy efficiency spending: China better than U.S.

The ACEEE uses their opinions as to what is important when it comes to energy.

Cost, reliability and availability of energy have no bearing on the ACEEE’s evaluation.

The fact that electricity costs the average German 4 to 5 times as much as the average American is of no import, according to the ACEEE.

While the results determined by the ACEEE are obviously biased and slanted toward eliminating CO2 emissions, the fact that the media promotes the results of these phony studies demonstrates how biased and uncritical the media has become.

* * * * * *

Nothing to Fear, Chapter 14, An Impossible Objective, explains why it’s impossible to cut CO2 emissions 80% without destroying America’s standard of living.

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.

Methane Hydrates Have a Bright Future

August 3, 2016

Scientists from India, Japan and the United States USGS, have discovered large deposits of methane hydrates in the Bay of Bengal.

They report that these methane hydrates were found in “coarse-grained sand-rich depositional systems in the Krishna-Godavari basin” and are more easily mined than the methane hydrates off the United States continental shelf.

“[Methane] gas hydrate at high concentrations in sand reservoirs represent the best combination for production using existing technologies.”

The work being done by the USGS is intended to not only discover where large concentrations of methane gas hydrates are located, but also to determine the best method for safely extracting the methane trapped in the hydrate.

Methane hydrates are, methane, i.e., natural gas, trapped in an ice lattice. They form under very low temperatures or high pressures, or a combination of the two.

Map of world showing underwater topography from USCD

Map of world showing underwater topography from USCD

The pink areas of this map are the outer continental shelves on which methane hydrates can be found. Methane and natural gas, are the same, i.e., CH4.

Extreme environmentalists have declared war on methane, so they will be attacking any development of natural gas from methane hydrates.

The world, however, can benefit from this clean burning fuel.

Tim Collett, USGS senior scientist, said: “The discovery of what we believe to be several of the largest and most concentrated gas hydrate accumulations yet found in the world will yield the geologic and engineering data needed to better understand the geologic controls on the occurrence of gas hydrate in nature and to assess the technologies needed to safely produce gas hydrates.”

Japan has a program for producing natural gas from methane hydrates located near its coast, and predicts it will be successful by 2019. See, Natural Gas Bonanza from Hydrates.

The Indian National Gas Hydrate Program was an important part of the Bay of Bengal explorations, as India can use a natural gas supply to replace LNG imports.

There are huge reserves of natural gas entrapped in methane hydrates around the world.

For example, methane hydrates along the United States outer continental shelf could provide more than 20 times its existing natural gas reserves.

Methane hydrates represent another wonderful supply of fossil fuels that can benefit mankind.

* * * * * *

Nothing to Fear, Chapter 18, Remarkable Availability of Life Saving Fossil Fuels, explains why the United States has a huge potential supply of natural gas from methane hydrates.

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

* * * * * *

NOTE:

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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.

Corporate Cowards Hang Separately

July 29, 2016

Exxon recently began to aggressively support a carbon tax.

Admittedly, Exxon has been the target of radical environmentalists, and even of state AGs who have subpoenaed Exxon while accusing it of fraud.

Exxon’s motive in promoting a carbon tax may be to appease radical environmentalists.

Or, Exxon may see a carbon tax as a way to improve its competitive position versus coal, since Exxon has huge shale holdings and major investments in natural gas that compete with coal for power generation.

Or, perhaps Exxon is being hypocritical, assuming that Congress will never pass a carbon tax, while possibly benefitting from an improved PR image.

Exxon Logo

Exxon Logo

But history is clear: Trying to play nice with the Devil, no matter what the motive, is a prescription for disaster.

And, history is also clear, it’s foolish to assume how a political organization, such as Congress, will act.

For example, the United States Senate ratified the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) assuming ratification would have no effect on the United States because actions under the treaty were voluntary.

Unfortunately, the United States, with only one vote among 195 countries at UNFCCC COP meetings, has been consistently outvoted and held up for ridicule around the world.

The US delegation was booed by the other 190 countries at the COP meeting in Bali because the US delegation didn’t want to approve the Bali Road Map for fighting climate change.

Assuming that your enemy will forget and forgive is even more dangerous.

Chesapeake Energy donated large sums of money to the Sierra Club hoping the Sierra Club would decrease its attacks on natural gas, but to no avail.

Exxon should take heed, because the Sierra Club, and nearly every other radical environmental group has declared war on fracking, and is determined to eliminate fracking.

The Democrat party’s platform calls for the end of fracking.

The experience of the coal industry is a good example of what happens when you try to appease your enemies.

The coal industry, rather than fighting the supporters of anthropogenic climate change, where CO2 is the cause, tried to placate its enemies by proposing “clean coal”, a process where the coal is cooked to create syngas, so the CO2 can be separated, removed and sequestered, while using the hydrogen from the syngas to power a gas turbine. The so called “clean coal” process would eliminate CO2 from the atmosphere and allow coal to be used for power generation.

But, the radical environmentalists would have no part of this peace offering, and worse yet, the “clean coal” Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) power plant has become exorbitantly expensive. See, Kemper is No Keeper 

To have any possibility of lowering CO2 emissions sufficiently to limit atmospheric CO2 levels to 450 ppm, one of the levels frequently mentioned as the tipping point, would require a carbon tax much higher than previously proposed, i.e., $15 per ton of CO2 (which is mentioned most frequently and used by the EIA), and would have to apply to much more than oil and power generation. It would, for example, have to apply to livestock production, and other agricultural processes.

Rather than fighting for their industry and opposing the bad science on which CO2 caused global warming is based, some in the fossil fuel industry are trying appeasement.

The end result has been the bankruptcy of major coal producing companies, such as Peabody Coal.

By appeasing its opponents, Exxon is joining the major European oil companies who are doing the same.

But some oil companies, including Chevron, are standing their ground, and fighting for a scientific resolution of the issue.

Crony capitalism (where companies, such as GE, with its wind energy business taking advantage of government subsidies) and the concept of a carbon tax to raise money for the government, with the money supposedly being redistributed to the needy, is not in the best interests of a free market … or a free society … or America.

Appeasing big government and radical environmentalists is a fools game, not worthy of Exxon.

* * * * * *

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.

Key, Electric Vehicle Headlines

July 26, 2016

There are three key headlines for US electric vehicle sales after the first six months of 2016:

  1. BEV (battery powered vehicles) sales have stalled.
  2. PHEV (plug-in vehicle) sales are up dramatically.
  3. HEV (hybrid) sales are down dramatically.

US Sales of Electric Vehicles, Including HEVs 2016

Month

Hybrid (HEVs)

PHEVs* 

Battery (BEVs)

Totals

Total PHEV & EV

January

20,967

3,137

3,576

27,680

6,713

February

24,371

3,909

4,424

32,704

8,333

March

28,756

5,290

7,115

41,161

12,405

Total 1Q

74,094

12,336

15,115

101,545

27,451

Total 1Q 2015

86,005

7,722

14,127

107,854

21,849


% 1Q change


-16%


37%


7%


-6%


20%

April

28,988

5,842

6,266

41,096

12,108

May

30,573

5,619

6,526

42,718

12,145

June

27,679

6,094

7,678

41,451

13,772

Total 2Q 2016

87,240

17,555

20,470

125,265

38,025

Total 2Q 2015

104,965

10,787

20,069

135,821

30,856


% 2Q change


-17%


63%


2%


-8%


23%

*Extended Range Vehicles

(Data from Electric Drive Transportation Association)

Introduction:

BEVs are vehicles powered entirely by battery power. PHEVs use the battery to travel for the first 35 miles, but then switch to an internal combustion engine to extend its range.

An important distinction between HEVs, such as the Prius, and BEVs or PHEVs is that an HEV can travel on battery power for an extremely short distance, if at all, while BEVs and PHEVs can travel for at least 35 miles using batteries alone.
HEVs are essentially battery-assisted vehicles that use the internal combustion engine to power the car.

Perhaps the most significant observation after the first six months of 2016, is that the sale of battery-powered vehicles (BEVs) has stalled.

This, in spite of the hype that Tesla received when it announced its new Model 3, priced at $35,000, with a 215 mile range.

It’s possible that drivers are beginning to see the PHEV as a better value than a BEV, since PHEVs have a range comparable to ordinary internal combustion engine vehicles of approximately 400 miles.

This may also account for the substantial increase in PHEV sales.

Meanwhile, sales of the HEV, similar to the original Prius, have fallen dramatically.

The price premium of HEVs is difficult to offset when gasoline prices are as low as they have been this year.

Norway, where 50,000 BEVs have been sold, provided generous subsidies for electric vehicles, so generous it was almost foolish to not purchase a BEV, has decided to roll back the subsidies. This could seriously crimp Tesla’s sales in Europe where Tesla has outperformed German luxury car makers.

Meanwhile China has been a disappointment for Tesla.

Tesla

Tesla

Tesla has been the most important seller of BEVs in the United States, with the LEAF and other manufacturers BEVs accounting for only a small part of BEV sales during the first six months of 2016.

Any slowdown in European sales by Tesla could be significant if BEV sales in the United States have stalled.

In addition, when Tesla sells more than 200,000 vehicles in the United States, Tesla vehicles will no longer be eligible for the $7,500 tax credit, which is likely to affect Tesla’s sales.

The media is, of course, still hyping BEVs, but the next six months could be a negative turning point for Tesla if sales of BEVs remain sluggish.

* * * * * *

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

* * * * * *

NOTE:

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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.

Europe’s High Cost of Renewables

July 19, 2016

In its quest to cut CO2 emissions, Europe has promoted the adoption of wind and solar to replace fossil fuels.
This has resulted in a large increase in electricity rates for Europeans.

Electricity Rates US v EU

The first chart shows the change in electricity prices after Europe initiated its efforts to cut CO2 emissions.

EU Electricity Prices in Euros

The first chart shows the impact of adding wind and solar to the energy mix for all of Europe, while the second chart distinguishes the effect between countries.

It’s immediately evident that those countries that have invested most heavily in wind and solar have seen their electricity prices soar.

Specifically Denmark and Germany, followed by Italy, Ireland, Spain and Portugal.

Costs have gone up least, in countries that have continued to use coal, except for France, where nuclear is the primary source for electricity, and Norway where hydro is the primary source.

Poland, Rumania, Hungary and the Czech Republic continue to use coal to provide most of their electricity. For the most part, these and other countries, such as Croatia and Finland, have not invested heavily in wind and solar.

The message from Europe is clear, wind and solar significantly increase the cost of electricity.

The same message can be found within the United States.

States using natural gas or coal as their primary source of electricity have markedly lower electricity prices than California, the leading proponent of wind and solar for generating electricity.

Specifically, California’s electricity rate, at an average of 15.34 cents/kWh, is 50% higher than Kentucky, Arkansas, Utah, and Wyoming, which have a combined average rate of 10.25 cents/kWh, and rely on fossil fuels for generating electricity.

States like New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey have residential electricity prices that are, on average, 50% or more higher than states that rely on natural gas and coal for electricity, but these higher prices are primarily due to taxes, including efforts to promote wind and solar and pay the carbon tax.

For example, “Up to 70% of New York’s retail electricity price per kWh goes toward Delivery, Taxes, and Regulations.” And, “Since 2008, the cost to produce electricity has stayed the same or been reduced while transmission costs and taxes have shot up dramatically.” Including, “New York’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard, Renewable Portfolio Standard, and Systems Benefit Charge.”

In summary:

  • It’s clear that wind and solar in Europe has resulted in higher prices for electricity.
  • It’s also clear that states promoting wind and solar, such as California, and to some extent the states included in the regional greenhouse gas initiative, have also caused higher prices for electricity.

We can learn from Europe’s use of subsidies to promote wind and solar, where the subsidies have resulted in the high cost of electricity.

We have examples in the United States that confirm the lessons learned from Europe.

Wind and solar substantially increase the cost of electricity, which harms families and makes manufacturing more expensive.

* * * * * *

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

* * * * * *

NOTE:

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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.

Job Displacement Threat

July 12, 2016

(Another article on manufacturing and jobs)

The use of robots in factories is not likely to cause large job displacement, as the process of using robots in factories has evolved over a period of 30 to 50 years, with robots still primarily used for repetitive operations. See Robots inManufacturing.

If there is a threat to jobs, it probably comes from elsewhere.

The University of Oxford’s Martin School, in England, predicted that computerization would eliminate nearly half the jobs in the U.S. over the next 20 years.

As already noted, this seems very unlikely, even when considering concepts such as Uber, autonomous vehicles and deep learning.

Off-highway vehicles, used in mining, etc., have been singled out for conversion to autonomous vehicles. It should be noted that off-highway vehicles follow repetitive routes using GPS or other electronic means, including LiDAR and RADAR, for accurate location of the vehicle as it moves. Their environment is relatively controlled, when compared with autonomous vehicles used on highways where the surrounding environment is constantly changing.

Accuracy for autonomous vehicles may mean a few inches, while for robots used in manufacturing, accuracy will mean a fraction of an inch. This is an important distinction.

While truck drivers may lose jobs, other new jobs will be created and the productivity of the mining operation will be improved by eliminating, for example, unnecessary stopping and starting, and waiting during shift changes, etc.

But, the situation may be different if long-haul 18 wheelers, are replaced by autonomous trucks.

Freightliner Truck, Courtesy of Freightliner Corporation

Freightliner Truck, Courtesy of Freightliner Corporation

If long-haul autonomous trucks become ubiquitous, millions of truck driver jobs could be lost. Freightliner board member, ­Wolfgang Bernhard, predicted that production of autonomous 18 wheeler trucks is only “two, to three years away.”

There is a view that the potential for job displacement could become more pronounced if the family car becomes an autonomous vehicle.

However, the transition of family cars to autonomous vehicles should require considerable time. The recent high-profile hacking of a Jeep ­Cherokee demonstrates there are many obstacles and threats to autonomous vehicles on major highways or in crowded city traffic. And there is the recent fatality involving a Tesla vehicle.

The more extreme view, that many  jobs will be lost, has been expressed by Barcaly’s Capital, which predicted:

“With autonomous vehicles shared between family members and across communities, [coupled with the proliferation of Uber and similar concepts], autonomous vehicles will displace much of the current fleet of privately owned cars.”

Barclay’s Capital went on to say:

“Annual auto sales in the United States could decline by as much as 40 percent, and there would be a 60-percent drop in the total number of vehicles on the road.”

If this becomes reality, there will be a huge displacement of workers.

But that forecast seems extreme.

While Uber may displace car ownership in cities, it seems unlikely that it will have the same effect in the suburbs and rural areas.

People will still need to go to the local dry cleaners or grocery store, and won’t want to call Uber or a driverless taxi for a ride. Autonomous vehicles can be a godsend for the elderly who can’t drive because of poor eyesight or slow reflexes.

Forecasting a dramatic drop in car ownership seems to be a radical view of the future.

If it required 30 to 50 years for factory automation, with the use of robots for repetitive operations, to become common place, it’s likely to require a comparable amount of time for autonomous vehicles to replace the family car.

The idea that every American should be given an annual grant to compensate for job displacement seems inappropriate, counter productive and unworkable.

Without addressing where the money for such grants will come from, let’s look at better alternatives.

As with the use of robots in factories, new jobs will be created, where many of the new jobs can’t be envisioned at this time.

Historically, this is the way the country has confronted change. For example, the transition from horses to automobiles displaced workers, but created new opportunities.

Many sweepers pushing brooms in the factory were replaced with ride-on sweepers, and so forth.

A better way to prepare for the future, than with grants of taxpayer money, is by preparing people for the new jobs that frequently require higher levels of technical skills.

Education should be tailored to the new reality of a technology driven economy.

Expensive college courses that are no better than basket weaving which lead to low-paying, menial jobs are inappropriate in a technology driven economy. They rob from the student and leaves him ill-equipped for the future.

Mathematics, engineering, and science need to be emphasized, along with vocational training for the jobs that can’t be done by robots, of which there will be many, such as welding and tool and die makers. History, especially American history, must be taught to prepare students for a vibrant economy where work is rewarded.

Robots at McDonalds and other fast food stores will eliminate introductory jobs and temporary jobs for students, so, perhaps, vocational training can be supported to compensate for these lost introductory jobs.

Rather than stifling the work ethic with government handouts, let’s prepare people for the technology driven future.

When appropriate, additional articles will focus on manufacturing and the new, high-tech economy. Meanwhile, articles on energy issues will remain the primary focus.

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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.

Nuclear May Be Green After-all

July 9, 2016

Radical environmentalists may be having regrets over their campaign to kill nuclear energy.

After decades of demonizing nuclear power, some environmental groups are rethinking their opposition to nuclear power.

Unfortunately, they may be too late in the United States and Germany, and possibly France.

Germany is on the path to shutting down all its nuclear power plants by 2020.

In the United States, several plants are on the verge of being shut down, and it’s clear all existing nuclear power plants will be shut down over the next 80 years as they fail to get their operating licenses renewed, and that no more new nuclear plants, other than the four being built now, will be built.

See Nuclear Fallout and U.S. Nuclear Demise Amid Increases Elsewhere.

Radical environmentalists killed the coal industry in the United States, while ignoring and campaigning against the only method for generating base-load electricity that doesn’t emit CO2 … nuclear power.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that environmental groups were rethinking their opposition to nuclear power. The Sierra Club is, according to the article, “debating whether to halt its longtime position in support of shuttering all existing nuclear-power plants earlier than required by their federal operating licenses.”

How can they now say nuclear power is safe, when for decades they have been warning people against the threat of radiation and the China syndrome?

Suddenly, there is no threat from radiation?

Suddenly, there is no threat of the China syndrome?

Chernobyl reactor 4, courtesy of RT

Chernobyl reactor 4, courtesy of RT

Actually, the China syndrome was a creature of radical environmentalists’ imagination, so as to scare people from using nuclear power. The China syndrome could not happen, but it had the appeal of being able to scare people into thinking thousands, if not millions would be harmed by radiation. See Destruction of America’s Nuclear Industry.

Were the radical environmental groups lying then?

Or are they conveniently changing their stripes now?

Was nuclear power dangerous last year, and for the last 70 years? So why isn’t it dangerous now?

The perfidy of radical environmental groups is appalling.

How can they be trusted?

They have misrepresented the dangers from radiation. They have misrepresented the dangers from nuclear power plants. They have hastened and promoted the closure of existing nuclear power plants.

Now … they want to save nuclear power?

What else have they been lying about?

* * * * * *

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 – 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.

CO2 Through the Ages

July 5, 2016

In my book, Nothing to Fear, I use the 2,000 year period between today and the time of Christ to demonstrate that there is no clear evidence that atmospheric CO2 levels have had an effect on temperatures. For example, the medieval warm period had temperatures as high as today’s, while CO2 levels were unchanged.

In the book, I use an IPCC chart showing that, prior to around 1850, atmospheric CO2 levels were constant at around 280 ppm going back for 2,000 years. I used the IPCC chart since few people would likely criticize the data.

GHG Graph from IPCC AR4

GHG Graph from IPCC AR4

In my talks, I go back 4,000 years to make the same point.

4,000 year history of temperatures and CO2

4,000 year history of temperatures and CO2

During this 4,000 year period, there have been four warm periods, including today’s. In the previous warm periods, Medieval, Roman and Minoan, temperatures have been as high, or higher, than they are today, while atmospheric CO2 has remained essentially constant at around 280 ppm.

This again supports the contention that CO2 is having little effect on temperatures rise.

It’s possible to go back hundreds of thousands of years and still see that CO2 hasn’t seemed to affect temperatures. I didn’t propose going back that far in my book since there were so many other forces at work about which much is still unknown.

During the Carboniferous period, for example, the formation of skeletal life drew CO2 from the atmosphere and locked it permanently in the Lithosphere as Limestone.

However, as the following chart shows, atmospheric CO2 has been very much higher than today, while CO2 levels over the past three million years have been among the lowest levels during the Earth’s history. Meanwhile temperatures have varied widely, with little correlation to atmospheric levels of CO2.

While these records comparing atmospheric CO2 levels with variations in temperatures provide substantial proof that CO2 has not been the primary cause of temperature change, they do not infer that CO2 hasn’t had some effect on temperatures.

They also don’t infer that mankind hasn’t affected the environment.

They do, however, demonstrate that the CO2 hypothesis, claiming that atmospheric CO2 is causing global warming and climate change, is unsubstantiated, and that history has shown there is little correlation between CO2 and temperatures.

Geologic Time Scale CO2 and Temperatures

Geologic Time Scale CO2 and Temperatures

There are other hypotheses for the cause of global warming with greater scientific support than the CO2 hypothesis.

For example, there is Dr. Svensmark’s hypothesis, where cosmic rays create low-level clouds that shade the Earth and reflect sunlight back into space. This is explained more fully in Nothing to Fear.

The recent CERN CLOUD experiments have provided support for Dr. Svensmark’s hypothesis. See, Global Warming Science isn’t Settled.

Not only does it appear that the CO2 hypothesis is weak, but that it has been transformed into a political weapon with political, rather than scientific, purposes.

* * * * * *

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.

Robots in Manufacturing

July 1, 2016

There has been much fanciful thinking about having all the parts of a product, or even just the raw materials, entering one end of an unmanned factory, with the completed product exiting from the other end.

This provides the backdrop for how workers will be displaced by robots.

The facts, however, are very different.

Robots aren’t new.

While any automatic piece of equipment can be called a robot, the term emerged more accurately during the 1960s when robots could be programmed to perform specific actions.

GE became interested in robots during the 1960s and worked with a designer of robots, Engelberger, and his manufacturing company, Unimate.

At that time, robots were used mostly for transferring materials from one location to another.

GE became very interested in robots in the 1970s, and by 1980 had dedicated a business to the Factory of the Future, incorporating GE machine controls, an existing business, and robot designs licensed from others.

The concept failed, though pieces of the business remained profitable.

Robots need to be programmed, which is at the heart of many problems, and why robots have been limited to repetitive operations.

Since the 1980s, robots have become familiar pieces of equipment in many factories, if not ubiquitous. In nearly every application, however, the robot is used for repetitive operations, such as spot welding an automobile frame or painting a component.

Different model automobile frames can be processed through the same facility, but the robot must be told to follow a different program for each model, preprogrammed in the robot’s computer controls.

With Unimate in the 1960s, programming was accomplished by moving the robot arm to a desired position, recording it, and then moving the arm to the next position, recording it, and so on. The robot’s hand, or effector, when it was in position was itself manipulated, rotated, grasped, etc., to each desired position which were then recorded in a controller; a simple computer by today’s standards.

Obviously the programing of a robot is much easier today with modern computers, and a plethora of subprograms, or subroutines, that have been banked for use as needed. For example, PolySync used for autonomous vehicles, has a suite of applications that speed-up programing, and make it easier.

But the basics remain: Robots must be programmed to accomplish the work to be done.

The concept of self learning may ease the programming problem. But it too will still be limited to operations that don’t vary, by very much.

For example, a robot’s program can be viewed as a series of what-if statements. Trying to answer an infinite number of what-if statements results in an infinite loop, where the robot freezes.

Robots used in restaurants and in hotels, for example, merely follow a set of what-if statements programmed into the computer. It’s a simple matter for a robot to deliver a meal from the kitchen to a table, as the motions are very repetitive. Even the hotel desk clerk can be programmed to answer the steps taken for checking into the hotel. They are fixed and routine. It’s actually possible for people to check themselves into a hotel without a desk clerk, but people expect someone behind the desk.

Robots Welding Automobile Frames, from The Old Robots. Org

Robots Welding Automobile Frames, from The Old Robots. Org

In a factory, the robot must be able to accurately position itself, that is its effector, to a specific x, y, z axis, and expect that the part, say a joint in an automobile frame to be spot welded, will be precisely at that position.

This is why parts to be worked on by a robot must be prepositioned, or the relationship between the part and the robot be maintained when both are moving.

But, will robots displace so many workers that every person should receive an annual grant from the government?

The fact is, robots have been used for decades and have displaced many workers.

But new jobs have been created, such as mechanics to maintain and repair robots, design engineers who have learned to use CAD, i.e., computer aided design programs, and engineers who have learned how to program the robots.

The main problem has been how to train the displaced worker, a painter, for example, so he is capable of doing one of the new jobs, or finding the painter a job somewhere else.

Again, this has already happened, as progress has been made with automated factories and the use of robots.

The ideal way to accommodate workers displaced by automation is to grow the business so that overall, more workers will be needed.

This is another reason why economic growth and the revitalization of manufacturing is so important.

It’s not likely that automated factories will suddenly cause tremendous job displacement, because the use of robots has been evolving slowly.

It required 30 to 50 years for factory automation, with the use of robots for repetitive operations, to become common place, during which time new jobs have been created.

The potential for large job displacement comes from outside manufacturing, with concepts such as Uber, and the use of autonomous vehicles.

A future article will explore these other forces.

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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.

Manufacturing, Jobs or Grants to Americans

June 28, 2016

There has been considerable discussion recently concerning proposals to provide every person a guaranteed annual grant.

There have been three basic reasons for these proposals.

  1. To protect people who lose their jobs due to job displacement, especially from robots and technology replacing people.
  2. To replace the welfare state with an annual grant for every US adult.
  3. To revive our civic culture.

Interestingly, a referendum in Switzerland to have every person receive an annual grant was decisively defeated, but the Wall Street Journal devoted two pages to a similar proposal for the United States.

However, even the author of the Wall Street Journal article admitted it wouldn’t work unless all welfare payments, including social security and medicare, were repealed.

This is utopian thinking, as there will always be someone who will be in need, and who will get sufficient political support for additional payments.

Why grants would revive our civic culture is beyond me, because civic culture involves human nature.

It’s my view that any proposal for an annual grant is a bad idea, first, because it is not feasible, and second, because it undermines the economic stability of the country while sending the wrong economic message to people.

The Wall Street Journal also recently published an entire section on the future of manufacturing, or how to revitalize manufacturing in the United States.

Manufacturing, to me, is at the core of job creation, and is contradictory to the concept of free money, or grants.

Welding

Welding

Until now, virtually all my articles have dealt with energy, but now, some of my articles will address manufacturing and jobs. Other people can consider whether the welfare state can be replaced and whether civic culture can be revived with an annual grant of money. My focus, when not on energy, will be on manufacturing and job creation.

My first love was for the sea, which took me, as a cadet/midshipman, to Asia, Northern Europe, the Caribbean and down the East coast of South America while I was 19.

My second love was for manufacturing, including service, which is really the component of manufacturing that deals with products that have been placed into operation.

I spent three years on General Electric’s manufacturing management program, with work assignments in several manufacturing businesses, including DC motors, locomotives, small jet engines, naval ordnance, steam turbines and transformers.

The program was, in most respects, the equivalent of a master’s degree program, while involving real working assignments in manufacturing.

My assignments were in several disciplines: Manufacturing engineering, production control, materials management, and purchasing, coupled with academic studies in related subjects, such as scientific quality control using statistical methods for monitoring the quality of parts and products being produced, and for determining and assuring the reliability of machines to operate at required levels of precision.

My upcoming articles on such things as robots and advanced manufacturing processes have evolved from these experiences.

My first article on manufacturing will address robots, because they are currently in vogue.

There is some preliminary, fundamental information that must be discussed before proceeding to robots.

To begin with, every product has a material list that itemizes every part in the product.

Material lists can include several thousand parts, each part with a specific drawing number.

Each drawing will define the dimensions, including tolerances, and materials to be used in each part.

Materials management and production control will explode these lists to determine how many of each part is required for a production run, and how much material will be needed. Some of these materials, such as forgings, may require long lead times, which must be accounted for when scheduling the factory.

Fortunately today, exploding the materials list can be computerized together with much of the scheduling.

Materials management must manage inventories, both working inventories and finished products. Reducing the number pf parts in a product, and the number of products while still meeting customer needs, helps reduce investment in inventories.

There are thousands of manufacturing processes that must be understood, which is where manufacturing engineering is involved.

For example:

  • Removing metal can be done by drilling, broaching, vertical or horizontal boring, milling, turning on a lathe, reaming or grinding.
  • Cutting materials can be done using saws, acetylene torches, lasers or shears.
  • Forming can be done by stamping, or hydro forming, forging, the use of hydraulic presses, extrusion, brake presses or injection moulding. Powdered metallurgy can be useful for some parts.
  • Forming requires making tools and dies, a vital component of manufacturing.
  • Holding, including pre-positioning, requires jigs and fixtures. Prepositioning is critical for the use of automated equipment or robotics.
  • Painting can involve spray painting, with or without electrostatic systems and immersion. Other coatings, including epoxies may involve fluid beds.
  • Applying wear resistant materials can be done with flame spray or welding.
  • Joining materials can include spot welding, riveting, the use of screws, brazing or epoxy.
  • There are several types of welding that can be used for joining or for repair work including TIG, arc (stick or wire fed), MIG, resistance, submerged arc, flash and many variations such as flux cored wire.

These lists are not intended to be all inclusive, but merely to illustrate the scope and complexity of manufacturing processes.

Manufacturing engineering needs to select the appropriate process and machine tool to make all the parts called for in the material list, taking into consideration the required tolerances, costs and the amount of scrap that’s produced with each process, or whether to outsource production of a specific part or process … or whether the part needs to be redesigned for manufacturability.

Computers used for designing parts, can allow drawings to be downloaded directly to the machine tool.

Additive manufacturing, i.e., 3-D printing, can be useful where standard processes can’t make the part economically, or where the number of parts and sub assemblies can be reduced to a single part, or where the design can be modified to replace several parts with a single part that can only be produced with additive manufacturing.

I apologize for this lengthy discussion, but an appreciation of these fundamental processes is essential when thinking about manufacturing and job creation.

There is also the impact of regulations that affect cost and availability. Large castings, for example, may not be available in the United States because of the regulations that have made casting facilities uneconomic.

There is also the question of critical mass, such as when there are insufficient production facilities to support critical skills, and how to create those skills, when lost, in the work force.

Next, robots, which aren’t that new, in manufacturing.

* * * * * *

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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.