Britons lose Interest in Saving the Planet thanks to rising Utility Bills and Green Levies to pay for Wind Farms

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 1st, 2013

Week in Review

Britain is green.  They have made the prevention of manmade global warming a national goal.  They’re gradually doing away with carbon-based energies.  Like coal-fired power plants.  And replacing them with green things like wind farms.  Although one large wind project just got derailed.  The £4bn ($6.6 billion US) Atlantic Array project in the Bristol Channel.  But just the fact that they were going to spend $6.6 billion to build an offshore wind farm shows you how committed they are in going green.  Of course one might ask where does one get $6.6 billion to build a wind farm?  Simple.  You just add a green levy to everyone’s utility bill (see Energy policies just rob Peter to pay Paul by Telegraph View posted 12/1/2013 on The Telegraph).

Yesterday morning, George Osborne and Ed Balls both graced the sofa of the Andrew Marr Show as part of a pre-Autumn Statement offensive to woo the voters. Perhaps the biggest issue of the day was the fate of the green levies on consumers’ bills – a policy that Ed Miliband began as energy secretary and which the Tories embraced in office as a way of proving their environmentalist credentials. Now the consensus that the consumer should be forced to pick up the tab for saving the planet is gone, thanks to sky-rocketing energy costs. But the solutions proposed by Mr Osborne and Mr Balls may not be enough to induce a warm glow in the heart of the hard-pressed voter.

Mr Balls had nothing compelling to say. He made some noises about “value for money” and said that anything the Government could do to reduce costs was welcome. But it was Labour, after all, that introduced the green levies and remains committed to unreasonable decarbonisation targets. The party’s core pledge now is to freeze prices after the 2015 election. It is, as Mr Osborne called it, “back of a fag packet” stuff. Labour can do nothing to control global energy prices; a price freeze could put smaller providers out of business; and the likely outcome is that companies will simply hike bills before the freeze comes into effect. This variety of socialist populism typically ends up hurting the economy in the long run.

However, there are serious flaws in Mr Osborne’s alternative. Although the average bill could fall by £50 under the Government’s plan, some bills are predicted to rise by £120.

First of all, “back of a fag packet” isn’t a gay slur.  A fag is slang for cigarette in the UK.  And a fag packet is a pack of cigarettes.  So “back of a fag packet” stuff is a plan with so little meaningful details that they can write it out on one side of a pack of cigarettes.  It’s sort of like us yanks writing out something on the back of a cocktail napkin.  It’s not detailed stuff.  And probably not stuff thought out well.  Hence the disparaging tone of George Osborne’s criticism of the Labour Party’s idea of a price freeze.

As interesting as this explanation was it’s what is in the following paragraph that is of note.  The rise in the average bill of £120.  This is the green levy on the people’s average utility bill.  Which comes to $197.16 in US dollars.  This is the cost of all those wind turbines they’re building.  A number so painful that Britons everywhere are saying that this manmade global warming?  It isn’t as bad as I once thought it was.  So we can stop building these silly windmills.  Especially those that cost $6.6 billion.  Let’s just leave those beautiful coal-fired power plants on line.  So I can afford to feed my family.  For I know my history.  And my Dickens.  England during the Industrial Revolution was a filthy place.  Where workers—and everything else—were covered in soot and ashes.  And despite all of this manmade carbon it was not warm and balmy during those times.  No.  People struggled to both eat.  And stay warm.  England is cleaner today and yet we are suffering from manmade global warming?  Right, pull the other.

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Free Speech is becoming an Endangered Species in Communist Vietnam

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 1st, 2013

Week in Review

The American left has been critical of free speech that they don’t agree with.  Nancy Pelosi has stated she would like to bring back the Fairness Doctrine (aka the Hush Rush Bill).  Forcing radio stations who carried conservative talk shows like the Rush Limbaugh show to carry equal programming of the opposite viewpoint.  For try as they might liberals have no Rush Limbaugh of their own.  So if they can’t beat them they would like a law to encourage broadcasters to drop these conservative talk shows.  As they probably would if they were forced to carry an equal amount of programming of the opposite viewpoint.  For it would be easier just not to carry controversial programming.

And then there’s net neutrality.  Which is kind of like the Fairness Doctrine for the Internet.  But more complex.  And more murky.  The left likes the idea of enforcing net neutrality.  Especially if they could shut down conservative websites they didn’t like.  For that would make it harder to fund raise.  And you wouldn’t have to use the IRS to illegally impede conservative fundraising.  Like they did with Tea Party groups in the 2012 election.  Getting caught in that was just a pain in the ass for the Democrats.  And they would love to be able to do the same thing without anyone throwing the Rule of Law in their face.

The rollout of Obamacare was not all that great.  And the White House didn’t like what they were hearing in the media.  So they called in their friends in the liberal media.  And said you’re killing us.  Please don’t say these things anymore.  And, instead, say these talking points.  Lie for us.  Just help us get these idiots (the people losing their health insurance because of Obamacare) off of our backs.  It was an ‘off the record’ meeting so we don’t know exactly what they said.  But this was probably the gist.  A return to that recurring theme of theirs.  Trying to censor bad things being said about them.  Using these sneaky ways because they just can’t do this (see Vietnam: Criticize government on social media and go to jail by Dara Kerr posted 11/29/2013 on CNET).

 Vietnam is joining the ranks of Iran, Saudi Arabia, and China, as being known as a country that censors its citizens on social media.

The government introduced a new law this week that fines people $4,740 for posting comments critical of the government on social-networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, according to Reuters. Some people could also face extensive prison terms.

While the law is unclear about what kind of speech sparks government censorship, it does say that “propaganda against the state” and “reactionary ideology” would elicit fines.

Vietnam’s communist government has increasingly censored its citizens’ free speech over the past few years. According to Reuters, arrests and convictions for criticizing the government online have skyrocketed the last four years…

In a recent Global Transparency Report, Google said that it has seen an alarming incidence in government requests to gather information on their citizens. Some of the top offending countries in Google’s report include the US, India, and Germany.

You know the Obama administration would love to do this.  You should at least not be surprised if they did.  For they are spying on us.  And collecting information on us.  Using the IRS to silence the opposition.  Lying to us, telling us a YouTube video killed our ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi.  Something they are tired hearing about.  And no doubt envy Iran, Saudi Arabia, and China for being able to do what they want to do but can’t.  Having the power to take away our free speech.

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Big and Heavy things that Travel Fast along the Ground have a lot of Dangerous Kinetic Energy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 1st, 2013

Week in Review

The most dangerous parts of flight are the landing and taking off parts.  Why?  Because planes are big and heavy.  And they travel fast.  And whenever anything big and heavy travels fast near the ground bad things can happen.  Because that’s a lot of kinetic energy that can do a lot of damage when it comes to a sudden and unexpected stop.  But up in the air away from the ground planes easily earn their title as the safest way to travel.  For up in the lonely expanses of the sky they can travel in excess of 500 miles per hour without a care in the world.  Because the odds of them striking anything are virtually zero.  This is where big and heavy things that travel fast belong.  Not on the ground.  Like high-speed rail.  For even low-speed rail can be dangerous (see New York train derailment: Safety officials recover ‘black box’ by Tina Susman posted 12/1/2013 on the Los Angeles Times).

Investigators have recovered the “event recorder” from a Metro-North train that derailed in New York City early Sunday, a major step toward determining what caused the crash that killed four people and left scores injured…

Earl F. Weener of the National Transportation Safety Board said at a news briefing that the agency expected to have investigators on the scene in the Spuyten Duyvil area of the Bronx for a week to 10 days.

“Our mission is to understand not just what happened but why it happened, with the intent of preventing it from happening again,” Weener said. He said investigators had not yet talked to the train’s operator. Some local media have said the operator has claimed that he tried to slow down at the sharp curve where the derailment occurred but that the brakes failed.

The speed limit at the curve is 30 mph, compared to about 70 mph on straight sections of track.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the area is “dangerous by design,” because of the curve, but he said the bend in the track alone could not be blamed for the crash.

“That curve has been here for many, many years,” he told reporters at the scene, as darkness fell over the wreckage. “Trains take the curve every day … so it’s not the fact that there’s a curve here. We’ve always had this configuring. We didn’t have accidents. So there has to be another factor.”

High-speed rail is costly.  Because it needs dedicated track.  Overhead electric wires.  No grade crossings.  Fencing around the track.  Or installed on an elevated viaduct.  To prevent any cars, people or animals from wandering onto the track.  They need banked track for high-speed curves.  And, of course, they can’t have any sharp curves.  Because curves cause a train to slow down.  If they don’t they can derail.  Which may be the reason why this commuter train derailed.  It may have entered a curved section of track at a speed too great for its design.  Which shows the danger of fast trains on sharp turns.

There haven’t been many high-speed rail accidents.  But there have been a few.  All resulting in loss of life.  Because big and heavy things that travel fast along the ground have a lot of kinetic energy.  And if something goes wrong at these high speeds (collision with another train or derailment) by the time that kinetic energy dissipates it will cause a lot of damage to the train, to its surroundings and to the people inside.

The high speed of today’s high-speed trains is about 200 mph.  Not even half of what modern jetliners can travel at.  Yet they cost far more.  Most if not all passenger rail needs government subsidies.  Air travel doesn’t.  Making high-speed rail a very poor economic model.  But they are capital and labor intensive.  Which is why governments build them.  So they can spend lots of money.  And create a lot of union jobs.  Which tends to help them win elections.

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First Electric Cars now an Electric Helicopter

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 1st, 2013

Week in Review

The federal government is doing everything it can to stimulate electric car sales.  Because they’re so green.  But despite huge government subsidies for both manufacturers and buyers people just aren’t buying them.  In large part because of their limited range.  Keeping away potential buyers.  And filling electric car owners with range anxiety.  That dread that fills them when they start worrying whether they have enough battery charge to get home.  And getting stranded a long way from home.  Of course, this range anxiety could be worse (see 18-rotor electric helicopter makes maiden flight by Tim Hornyak posted 11/25/2013 on CNET).

The VC200, however, has a proper cockpit for two, and is described as a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) manned aircraft that doesn’t quite fit into any traditional category of flying machine.

It has 18 zero-emission, battery-powered electric motors for propulsion instead of the traditional combustion engines of helicopters. A frame and branching supports for rotors are made of carbon fiber help keep the weight down.

E-volo says the Volocopter VC200 can offer passengers a quiet, smooth, green ride. The vehicle is also easy to fly by joystick, and will have low operating and maintenance costs.

The VC200 flew to a height of some 70 feet during its test flights, which were recorded in the video below, which is pretty noisy but that may be due to the camera position.

It can fly for about 20 minutes with current battery technology, but E-volo hopes that will improve to allow for flights of an hour or more.

Really?  An electric helicopter?  It’s bad enough having your electric car coast to a stop on the road after your battery dies.  But to fall out of the sky?

Before a commercial jetliner flies it calculates how much fuel they need to get them to their destination.  To get them to an alternate destination in case something prevents them from getting to their primary destination.  And a reserve amount of fuel.  For the unexpected.  They are very careful about this because a plane cannot coast to a stop on a road.  If they run out of fuel they tend to fall out of the sky.  So the FAA is pretty strict on fuel requirements.  Can you imagine them certifying an electric helicopter that can carry only one battery charge?  That has to power the craft regardless of the weight of the air craft?

On the one hand pushing the bounds of technology is a good thing.  We can develop better batteries to use in our mobile devices and tablet computers.  But electric cars and electric flight?  The very design requires solving a paradox.  To get greater range we need more/bigger batteries.  But more/bigger batteries means greater weight.  And greater weight means reduced range.  That is, the very thing that increases range also reduces range.  The current technology just isn’t good enough to give us electric cars or electric flight at this time.  And any tax dollars that go to subsidize it is tax money poorly spent.

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Wind Power for the People and Fossil Fuel for Gold Mines and Hospitals

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 1st, 2013

Week in Review

Energy firm RWE just backed out of a £4 billion ($6.6 billion) offshore wind farm.  The Atlantic Array project in the Bristol Channel.  Because of higher than expected costs.  And lower than expected government subsidies.  Meanwhile a new power plant was delivered in the Dominican Republic this year.  A nation that shares an island with Haiti surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.  With a lot of sea wind to spin wind turbines.  Just as they filled the sails of the colonial powers’ ships centuries ago.  But they didn’t build a wind farm (see Quisqueya I & II, Dominican Republic posted on Wärtsilä).

Sometimes, one plus one does not equal two. The 25,000 inhabitants of Quisqueya, a small town close to San Pedro de Macorís, in the Dominican Republic, know so.

In September 2011, Barrick Gold Corporation acquired a majority share in a soon-to-be-opened gold mine, some 100 kilometres away from the Dominican capital, Santo Domingo. As soon as the mining company understood the needs of their new power-hungry mine, they decided to place an order for a state-of-the-art Wärtsilä power plant. The way in which Barrick, its host country and Wärtsilä would cooperate for the greater good came to exceed the initial expectations of any of the three involved parties and strike gold in an unforeseen way.

The Quisqueya project is a rare combination of two power plants. Due to clever project design it satisfies not only the gold mine’s power needs, but also those of the local population, who often deals with blackouts and an unstable power grid. The dual function came to be as the largest utility in the country, EGE Haina, decided to jump on the boat of efficient and  reliable power generation, turning the initial project to a synergetic effort where the total value exceeds the sum of its parts.

While Quisqueya I is owned and used by Barrick Gold, its twin sister Quisqueya II is run by EGE Haina. Although ordered by different parties, the plants are being built on the same site and together form the largest power plant complex in the world ever delivered by Wärtsilä at the time of the order, setting a new standard for the 21st century power plants. As an outsider, you cannot clearly draw a line between the power supplied to the mine and that supplied to the local community, nor between the corporate profit and the social one. Quisqueya I & II is a beautiful example of how a sensible and responsible utilization of natural resources can directly improve a community’s way of life.

Both Quisqueya plants will feature Wärtsilä Flexicycle™ combined cycle technology and operate on 12 Wärtsilä 50DF dual-fuel engines each. The primary fuel is to be natural gas with liquid fuel as back-up, and the combined output from the two plants will be 430 MW. Wärtsilä’s scope of supply for the Quisqueya power plant includes full engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC). The power plant will have a net efficiencyof 48 %, which is an astonishingly high figure in tropical conditions, with soaring humidity and temperatures above 35°C.

Lucky are the people living near this power-hungry gold mine.  Because it gets top of the line electric power.  That furnished by fossil fuels.  Which can burn no matter what the winds are doing.  Keeping this gold mine in operation.  And giving the people around it reliable electric power.  And if the winds stop blowing these people will still have their power.  And if a hurricane blows through it may down some power lines.  Which can be replaced to restore electric power.  Whereas if a hurricane takes out an offshore wind farm power will be out a lot longer.  Either until they rebuild those very expensive wind turbines (probably requiring huge green tariffs to cover the costs of building this wind farm twice).  Or until they build a new power plant that uses a fossil fuel.

Interesting when a power plant is to power a million homes like the Atlantic Array project in the Bristol Channel a government looks to spend $6.6 billion for unreliable power.  But when a power plant is furnishing something that produces revenue and economic output they don’t build a wind farm power plant.  No, when they need to count on that electric power to be there they turn to fossil fuels.  For the same reason hospitals don’t put wind turbines on their roof for backup electric power during a blackout.  They use backup generators that burn a fossil fuel.  Because they need to count on that electric power to be there.

Fossil fuel is reliable.  While wind power is not.  Which is why governments use fossil fuels for gold mines and hospitals.  And wind power for the people.  Because governments can screw the people to meet silly green power targets with little blowback.  Because, hey, it’s for the environment.

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