Environmentalists hate American Bald Eagles and Urge the Building of Eagle Killing Machines

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 23rd, 2013

Week in Review

We have spent billions building wind farms all over the world.  To fight the rise of manmade global warming.  By replacing dirty, filthy, polluting, carbon-producing, global-warming-generating coal-fired power plants.  Which haven’t replaced many if any coal-fired power plants.  Because we still need those coal-fired power plants to provide electric power when the wind doesn’t blow.  Or blows too strong.  Making the whole wind power industry a costly joke.  Well, a costly sad joke.  As those great spinning killing machines are killing some of our most precious natural resources.  American Bald Eagles (see Energy company to pay out $1m over eagle deaths at wind farms by AP posted 11/23/2013 on The Telegraph).

The U.S. government for the first time has enforced environmental laws protecting birds against wind energy facilities, winning a $1 million settlement from a power company that pleaded guilty to killing 14 eagles and 149 other birds at two wind farms in the western state of Wyoming.

The Obama administration has championed pollution-free wind power and used the same law against oil companies and power companies for drowning and electrocuting birds. The case against Duke Energy Corp. and its renewable energy arm was the first prosecuted under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act against a wind energy company…

An investigation by The Associated Press in May revealed dozens of eagle deaths from wind energy facilities, including at Duke’s Top of the World farm outside Casper, Wyoming, the deadliest for eagles of 15 such facilities that Duke operates nationwide. The other wind farm included in the settlement is in nearby Campbell Hill…

A study in September by federal biologists found that wind turbines had killed at least 67 bald and golden eagles since 2008. That did not include deaths at Altamont Pass, an area in northern California where wind farms kill an estimated 60 eagles a year.

Until Friday’s announcement, not a single wind energy company had been prosecuted for a death of an eagle or other protected bird – even though each death is a violation of federal law…

Wind farms are clusters of turbines as tall as 30-story buildings, with spinning rotors as wide as a passenger jet’s wingspan. Though the blades appear to move slowly, they can reach speeds up to 170mph at the tips, creating tornado-like vortexes.

Flying eagles behave like drivers texting on their cellphones; they don’t look up. As they scan for food, they don’t notice the industrial turbine blades until it’s too late…

Once a wind farm is built, there is little a company can do to stop the deaths. Some firms have tried using radar to detect birds and to shut down the turbines when they get too close. Others have used human spotters to warn when birds are flying too close to the blades. Another tactic has been to remove vegetation to reduce the prey the birds like to eat.

As part of the agreement, Duke will continue to use field biologists to identify eagles and shut down turbines when they get too close. It will install new radar technology, similar to what is used in Afghanistan to track missiles. And it will continue to voluntarily report all eagle and bird deaths to the government.

Here’s a thought.  Instead of spending billions to build wind turbines.  And additional God knows how much more for radar technology and human bird spotters to shut down the wind turbines when birds are near.  Or razing the earth to kill the ecosystem for the wildlife that eagles feed on.  Instead of doing these things why not just use coal-fired power plants?  After all, what do you think will provide our electric power when radar or those human spotters shut down those wind turbines?  That’s right.  Coal-fired power plants.

Of course the environmentalists hate the modern industrial world.  And using energy to raise our standard of living.  They’d like to go back to a time when we grew our own food.  And spun our own clothing.  For them the modern world is an obscene abomination to them.  With America being the worst.  As we are the most advanced nation in the world.

It’s bad enough the environmentalists are raising the cost of electric power with their renewable energy nonsense.  But they’re also killing American Bald Eagles.  Sure, the glorious American Bald Eagle may not be as important to them as a forest rodent (preventing the cutting of firebreaks in forests to prevent the spread of forest fires) or delta smelt (shutting down the irrigation pumps in California’s Central Valley that provides much of our food), but they are a living creature, too.  And should be allowed to live freely in their habitat.  Then again, perhaps they don’t care about the American Bald Eagle.  As it is America’s national bird.  And they just hate America so much that they hate our national bird, too.

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A Renewable Boom means more Expensive and Less Reliable Electric Power

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 20th, 2013

Week in Review

The news on our green energy initiatives sounds good.  We’re importing less oil.  And adding more and more wind power.  If you’re a proponent of green energy you no doubt are pleased by this news.  But if you understand energy and economics it’s a different story.  You’ll think the country is moving in the wrong direction.  Ultimately raising our energy costs.  Without making much of an impact on carbon emissions.  And just because we are exporting gasoline doesn’t mean we’re on the road to being energy self-sufficient (see The Renewable Boom by Bryan Walsh posted 10/11/2013 on Time).

Earlier this year, the U.S. became a net exporter of oil distillates, and the International Energy Agency projects that the U.S. could be almost energy self-sufficient in net terms by 2035.

This is not necessarily a good thing.  Being a net exporter of oil distillates.  It means that US supply exceeds US demand at the current market price.  That’s an important point.  The current market price.  The US has been in an anemic economic recovery—though some would say we’re still in a recession—since President Obama assumed office.  During bad economic times people lose their jobs.  Those who haven’t are worried about losing theirs.  And they worry about the uncertainty, too, about the cost of Obamacare.  So people are driving less.  And they are spending less.  Because they have less.  And worry about how much money they’ll need under Obamacare.  So they’re not taking the family on a cross-country vacation.  Some are even spending their vacation in the backyard.  The so called ‘staycation’.  No doubt the 10 million or so who disappeared from the labor force since President Obama assumed office aren’t driving much these days.  So because of this US demand for gasoline is down.  And, hence, prices.   Even though gasoline prices are still high and consuming an ever larger part of our reduced median family income (also down since President assumed office), gasoline prices are higher elsewhere.  Which is why refineries are exporting their oil distillates.  To meet that higher demand that has raised the market price.

But the biggest source of new electricity in the U.S. last year wasn’t a fossil fuel. It was the humble wind. More than 13 gigawatts of new wind potential were added to the grid in 2012, accounting for 43% of all new generation capacity. Total wind-power capacity exceeded 60 gigawatts by the end of 2012—enough to power 15 million homes when the breeze is blowing.

These numbers do sound big for wind.  Like it’s easy sailing for wind power to replace coal.  But is it?  Let’s look at the big picture.  In 2011 the total nameplate capacity of all electric power generation was 1,153.149 gigawatts.  So that 13 gigawatts though sounding like a lot of power it is only 1.127% of the total nameplate capacity.  Small enough to be rounding error.  In other words, that 13 gigawatts is such a small amount of power that it won’t even be seen by the electric grid.  But it gets even worse.

We used the term ‘nameplate capacity’ for a reason.  This is the amount of power that this unit is capable of producing.  Not what it actually produces.  In fact, we have a measure comparing the power generation possible to the ‘actual’ power generation.  The capacity factor.  Which measures power production over a period of time and divides it by the total amount of power that the unit could have produced (i.e., its nameplate value).  Coal has a higher capacity factor than wind because coal can produce electric power in all wind conditions.  While wind power cannot.  If the winds are too strong the wind turbines lock down to protect themselves.  If the wind is blowing too slowly they won’t produce any electric power.

The typical capacity factor for coal is 62.3%.  Meaning that over half of the installed capacity is generating power.  Some generators may be down for maintenance.  Or a generator may be shut down due to weak demand.  The typical capacity factor for wind power is 30%.  Meaning that the installed capacity produces no power 70% of the time.  And it’s not because turbines are down for maintenance.  It’s because of the intermittent wind.

So coal has twice the capacity that wind has.  Does this mean we need twice the installed capacity of wind to match coal?  No.  Because if you tripled the number of wind turbines in a wind farm they will still produce no power if the wind isn’t blowing.  In this respect you can say coal has a capacity factor of 100%.  For if they want more power from a coal-fired power plant they can bring another generator on line.  Even if the wind isn’t blowing.

You could say wind power is like parsley on a plate in a restaurant.  It’s just a garnishment.  It makes our electric power production look more environmentally friendly but it just adds cost and often times we just throw it away.  For if coal provides all our power needs when the wind isn’t blowing and the wind then starts blowing you have a surplus of power that you can’t sell.  You can’t shut down the coal-fired power plant because the wind turbines don’t produce enough to replace it.  You can’t shut down the wind turbines because it defeats the purpose of having them.  So you just throw away the surplus power.  And charge people more for their electric power to cover this waste.  Like a restaurant charges more for its menu items to cover the cost of the parsley the people throw away.

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India leads the world in Wind and Solar Power but turns to Nuclear Power for Serious Power Generation

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 19th, 2013

Week in Review

By 2012 India had about 1,045 MW of solar power capacity connected to their electric grid (see Year End Review of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy posted on the Press Information Bureau, Government of India website).  Available when the sun shines.  India had about 18,320 MW of wind power capacity attached to their electric grid.  Available when the wind blows.

In July of 2012 India suffered the largest power outage in history.  Approximately 32,000 MW of generating capacity went offline.  Putting about half of India’s population of 1.22 billion into the dark.  Which her solar and wind capacity was unable to prevent.  So even though they’re expanding these generating systems guess what else they’re doing?  Here’s a hint.  You don’t need as much land to make this power.  And a little of it can create a lot more electric power than solar or wind can (see Areva says India keen to start using EPR reactor by Geert De Clercq posted 1/17/2013 on Reuters India).

Negotiations about the sale of two French nuclear reactors to India are at an advanced stage and Indian authorities are keen to start using French nuclear technology, reactor builder Areva (AREVA.PA) said on Wednesday…

The World Nuclear Association expects India’s nuclear capacity will grow fourfold to 20,000 megawatts by 2020 from just under 5,000 MW today, making it the third-biggest market after China and Russia…

The third-generation European Pressurised Reactor (EPR), conceived following the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, has a double containment wall and a “core catcher” to contain core meltdown. Its 1,600 megawatt capacity is the largest on the market…

The planned site for the EPR reactors in Jaitapur – on the subcontinent’s Arabian Sea coast, 400 km south of Bombay and 230 km north of Goa – could receive up to six nuclear reactors, though at the moment only two EPRs are under consideration.

If you do the math that one site in Jaitapur will be able to produce 9,600 MW.  They’ve been building solar power for a decade or more and have only brought that capacity up to 1,045 MW.  That one nuclear power site will produce 9.2 times the power produced by all the solar power they’ve built to date.  And it doesn’t matter if it’s day or night.  That nuclear power will always be there.

To produce that additional 15,000 MW of nuclear power will only require building two nuclear sites like at Jaitapur.  To get this additional capacity they could double their wind power installations to add another 18,320 MW.  Of course if they did that power would only be available when the wind blew.  Which is why they are installing nuclear power.  Because it’s easier, less costly and more reliable.  And with good reliable power some 610 million people may avoid another power outage like that in 2012.  Or they can build more solar and wind.  And continue to set more records for power outages.

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Wind Power is both Costly to Build and to Maintain

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 9th, 2012

Week in Review

Green energy enthusiasts love wind power.  For they think it’s free and as good and reliable a source of electric power as is coal.  Because you don’t have to buy wind.  It’s just there for the taking.  As long as the wind is blowing.  But wind power isn’t free power.  For one you have to build a lot of wind turbines to get close to what a coal-fired power plant can generate.  Covering acres of land (or water).  That’s a lot of moving parts that someone has to maintain.  And a lot of gearboxes to wear out (see Deval-ued Wind Power by Kevin D. Williamson posted 12/3/2012 on National Review Online).

Last September in the tiny town of Princeton, Mass., the general manager of the local utility authority sent out an extraordinary little memo that is one part standard bureaucratic posterior-covering and one part cry for help, noting that a modest wind-energy project already has lost nearly $2 million — a whopping number for a community of only 3,413…

“As best I can look into the future,” general manager Brian Allen wrote, “I would expect the wind turbine losses to continue at the rate of around $600,000 a year. This assumes current wholesale electricity rates, no need for extraordinary repairs, and that both turbines continue operating. If any major repairs are required, this will be an additional expense for the PMLD. The original warranties on the turbines have expired, and extended warranty options are not available.”

Those warranties are an acute concern: After becoming operational in 2010, one of Princeton’s two wind turbines broke down in August 2011 and was not back online until nearly a year later. Princeton had a warranty from the turbine’s manufacturer, the German firm Fuhrländer, but the usual political cluster of agents and subcontractors meant that the whole mess still is in litigation. If Princeton does not prevail in its lawsuit, it will suffer hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional expenses. The cost of replacing a gearbox on one of the Fuhrländer turbines is estimated at $600,000.

Those breakdowns are real concerns. According to the trade publication, Wind Energy Update, the typical wind turbine is out of commission more than 20 percent of the time — and regularly scheduled maintenance accounts for only 0.5 percent of that downtime. The group also estimates that some $40 billion worth of wind turbines will go out of warranty by the end of 2012, leaving the Princetons of the world looking at a heap of expensive repair bills. In Europe, the largest wind-energy market, operations-and-maintenance expenses already are running into billions of dollars a year.

So, if you have a wind farm with let’s say 600 wind turbines that would be approximately $360 million to replace all of those gearboxes.  But if they’re lucky enough to only have to replace 20% each year that’s only $72 million a year.  That’s a lot of money for ‘free’ electricity from the wind.  Especially when you consider routine maintenance comes in at around $600,000 a year.  And even that number is a lot higher than anyone dreamed it would be for free electricity.

The truth is this.  Wind power isn’t free.  It’s very, very expensive.  And this for generating equipment that is offline 20% of the time.  Worse, for those that are online their capacity factor is only about 30%.  Meaning that over a period of time a wind farm will provide only about 30% of their nameplate capacity.  So not only is this power costly but it is intermittent.  Which is why no one builds wind farms without massive government subsidies.  As they are about the worst energy investment anyone can make.  With the only way of funding these projects is by bleeding the taxpayers dry.

It’s different with coal.  Green governments have to impose costly regulations to try and shut down coal-fired power plants.  Because they are such a good energy investment the only way they can stop the free market from building and operating them is reducing the return on investment through costly regulation.  Which increases our electric bills.  So with coal money flows from the power producers to the government.  And we get less expensive electricity.  For wind power money flows from the government to the power producers.  And we get more costly electricity.  Which makes no sense whatsoever for the taxpayer.  But it makes a lot of sense if you’re getting campaign contributions from your friends in green energy.

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Wind Power cannot work in the Free Market without Massive State Subsidies

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 9th, 2012

Week in Review

A typical size of a wind turbine is around 3 megawatts.  Whereas a typical steam turbine (the kind spun by a coal-fired power plant) can be as big as 500 megawatts.  So you would need about 167 wind turbines to produce the output of one steam turbine.  But even then they won’t produce the same amount of useable power.  Because the wind doesn’t blow all of the time.  Making wind power a very expensive, intermittent power.  So expensive that no free market solution exists.  Which is why the government heavily subsidizes wind power (see 7 Myths About the Wind Production Tax Credit by David Kreutzer, Ph.D., posted 12/4/2012 on The Foundry).

The wind production tax credit (PTC) has created an industry that produces overpriced, intermittent power, and it will continue to produce overpriced, intermittent power so as long as there is a PTC to pay for it…

… if wind were already cheaper, then it could compete right now. If it is on the verge, then wind-power producers could enter into long-term contracts (which they already do) that would allow them to recoup their investments in the near future when wind will supposedly be so cheap. Neither case argues for subsidies…

The legislation in force has been very clear ever since it was written: Wind turbines put in place by December 31, 2012, qualify for 10 years of production tax credits. Windmills placed in service this year will continue to receive credits—which are worth 40 percent or more of the wholesale value of electricity—for every kilowatt-hour generated until 2022…

Subsidies may well provide jobs and income for those receiving the subsidies, but, as the Spanish experience illustrates, whatever job-creating mechanism the subsidies put in play is offset by running this same mechanism in reverse elsewhere: Financing the subsidies requires taxing other parts of the economy.

A 40 percent or more subsidy?  Anyone that needs a 40% subsidy to stay in business shouldn’t be in business.  That’s a lot of money pulled out of the private sector to produce substandard electric power.  If we went with reliable electric power from coal-fired power plants we wouldn’t need to pull a 40% subsidy from the private sector.  And the power would be first-rate.  Whether the wind blows or not.  Which is why coal-fired power plants work in a free market economy.  And wind power does not.

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Britain will have to add New Nuclear Power Plants to their Renewable Energy Mix to meet Demand

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 25th, 2012

Week in Review

Coal-fired power plants produce reliable and inexpensive electric power.  But they pollute too much for those on the left.  So they want to replace them with renewable energy sources.  The leading two being solar power and wind power.  Which require a lot more infrastructure to produce the same amount of electric power.  Making these sources very, very expensive.  So no one builds these unless they are highly subsidized by the taxpayers.

But they have other problems besides their high costs.  The sun doesn’t always shine.  And the wind doesn’t always blow.  Which means you can’t replace all coal-fired power plants with these renewable sources.  You also need something that can produce electric power when the sun doesn’t shine.  And the wind doesn’t blow (see Britain to Encourage Both Nuclear and Wind Power by STANLEY REED posted 11/23/2012 on The New York Times).

The British government on Friday announced far-reaching changes in energy regulation designed to encourage development of renewable energy and nuclear power while ensuring the country could meet its electricity needs.

The changes will gradually quadruple the charges levied on consumers and businesses to help support electricity generation from low-carbon sources, to a total of about £9.8 billion, or $15.7 billion, in the 2020-21 fiscal year from £2.35 billion currently.

The government forecasts that the new price supports will add 7 percent, or about £95 a year, to the average household electricity bill. Currently, such charges add 2 percent to energy bills, or £20 a year…

Electricity generated from cleaner sources like nuclear and offshore wind is much more expensive than power generated by coal- or gas-fired plants. Companies will invest in clean energy only if given substantial incentives. The government hopes to attract £110 billion in energy investment through 2020…

Others said they were appalled by support for new nuclear installations. While nuclear plants are low carbon emitters, they bring risks of accidents as well as the unresolved problem of what to do with spent fuel.

Stephan Singer, head of energy policy in Brussels for the World Wildlife Fund, said his organization was “fundamentally opposed” to price supports for nuclear power…

Britain intends to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 compared with 1990 levels. Until now, wind power has been the main beneficiary of government intervention. Now the government has come to believe that while building more nuclear plants would be costly and controversial, they will be necessary to reach emission targets.

This is the price of going green.  Higher electric bills.  And more nuclear power plants.  For there are no renewable sources that we can build that can provide baseload power.  Power that is there 24/7 regardless of time of day or weather conditions.  Hydroelectric power could but pretty much all the good rivers have already been dammed.  Which lives only one emissions-free energy source.  Nuclear power.  With all the baggage it comes with.  Safety issues.  Spent fuel issues.  Terrorist issues.  Things you don’t have to worry about with a coal-fired power plant.  That’s why they provide the majority of our electric power.  There just isn’t anything else that can do it as well.

But because a coal-fired power plant may put into the atmosphere dangerous emissions over their operating lifetime equal to a volcanic eruption or two the environmentalists won’t have them.  No.  They’d rather you have higher electric bills.  And suffer more power outages.  Of course, they may change their tune once their Internet access becomes spotty due to those power interruptions.  But until then expect higher electric bills.  To fund those new windmills and nuclear power plants.  The costly renewable energy that will replace your beloved coal-fired power plants.

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Wind Power Expansion Reliant on Market Forces now so there probably won’t be Much More of It

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 17th, 2012

Week in Review

The wind power market is slowing down.  Not that there was ever a wind power market.  The only way wind power has grown has been with massive taxpayer subsidies.  But as economies wallow in stagnant economic growth those subsidies are starting to dry up.  And with it the expansion of wind power in nations across the world (see Wind Power Market to Slow on EU, U.S., China Hurdles, Lobby Says by Alex Morales posted 11/14/2012 on Bloomberg).

Wind farm growth is set to slow as limits on capacity in China’s grid, falling carbon prices in Europe and a lack of direction in U.S. government policy hamper demand in major markets, the Global Wind Energy Council said.

Turbine capacity of 586,729 megawatts will be installed by 2020, from 237,699 megawatts in 2011, the Brussels-based lobby said today in an e-mailed report co-authored by environmental campaigner Greenpeace. They see annual investment of 45 billion euros ($57 billion) in 2020, down from 50 billion euros in 2011. The figure is equivalent to annual capacity growth of less than 11 percent, down from 28 percent for the 15 years through 2011…

Chinese growth in the past few years has outstripped the ability of the country’s power grid to absorb new generating capacity. In the U.S., the industry has been hobbled by the government’s failure to extend a tax credit that expires at the end of this year, and in Europe carbon prices this year have reached all-time lows, reducing the incentive to cut emissions.

The report took as its central scenario a “new policies” pathway outlined by the Paris-based International Energy Agency. Using that scenario, Greenpeace and GWEC said installations in China, slowing because of constraints in the power grid, will climb more than 180 percent to 179,498 megawatts in 2020.

Wind capacity in the 27-nation European Union will rise 120 percent to 207,246 megawatts, and North America will gain 130 percent to 121,238 megawatts. African installations will surge fivefold to 5,372 megawatts, Latin America almost triple, and Indian installations double, according to the scenario.

Let’s look at some of these numbers.  And note the units.  Annual investment in wind power is falling to $57 billion a year.  For what?  To bring installed wind turbine capacity up to 586,729 megawatts worldwide.  That’s a lot of money for not a lot of power.  As a percentage of total installed capacity that comes to about 11% for North America, 25% for China and 27% of the EU.  Sounds like it will make a difference.  And it will.  But not in a good way.

The power wind power is replacing is basically coal-fired power plants.  Which are on all of the time.  Having capacity factors reaching and exceeding 90%.  Meaning that over a given period of time 90% or more of that installed capacity will be on line producing useable electric power.  Why?  Because coal will burn all of the time.  Something wind can’t do.  Blow all of the time.  And when it blows it doesn’t always blow at the right wind speed.  Which is why the capacity factor for wind power is much lower.  About 25%.  So if you convert the wind power to equivalent coal power the installed wind turbine capacities fall.  From 121,238 megawatts in North America to about 30.3 megawatts (or about 2.7% of the total installed capacity).  From 179,498 megawatts in China to about 44.8 megawatts (or about 6.2% of total installed capacity).  And from 207,246 megawatts to about 51.8 megawatts in the EU (or about 6.8% of the total installed capacity).  Which is a lot less power for the investment.

This is why wind power is not economically viable.  And can only exist with taxpayer subsidies.  And adding a tax to the more reliable and more plentiful power sources.  Such as coal.  As in carbon prices coal-fired power plants have to pay.  A cost that they add to our electric bills.  And why are carbon prices falling in Europe?  Because the economy is so poor that there is a low demand for electric power.  In part due to the EU’s green policies that hinder economic growth.  By raising the cost of doing business.

So what will green energy do for us?  It will raise the cost of our electric power.  And make that electric power less reliable.  Making rolling blackouts a common occurrence.  Even though we’re paying more for electric power.  That is what green energy will do for us.

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Governor Cuomo cuts Government Regulations to Speed Fuel Deliveries into New York Harbor

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 4th, 2012

Week in Review

The crisis in the northeast following super storm Sandy has shown why we are ‘addicted’ to oil.  For when everything else fails us it’s what we turn to most (see New York Harbor Reopens, Bringing Hope to the Fuel-Hungry by Martha C. White posted 11/2/2012 on CNBC).

On Friday, Cuomo signed an executive order allowing distributors and transporters to bring gasoline, diesel and kerosene into New York State without being required to meet typical registration requirements.

How do you make things work faster and more efficiently?  Get rid of governmental regulations.  That’s right, when you need things to operate at their best you remove government.  You don’t add more government.  Just think how much better the economy would be if it was this way all of the time.  If it was we probably wouldn’t have a U-6 unemployment rate of 14.6%.

But other means of getting fuel into the area were still limited. And that’s not such good news for drivers who have spent hours lined up for gas or for thousands of homeowners who have been forced to use gas-powered generators to light homes darkened by Sandy.

Attack oil all you want but there is a reason why we’re addicted to it.  It’s the fuel that brings food to our grocery stores.  It’s the fuel that lets us drive to someplace that didn’t lose their electric power so we can find food and shelter.  And it’s the fuel that lets us heat our homes and refrigerate our food when we lose our electric power.  Oil is the go-to fuel when everything else fails us.  It’s Old Reliable.  And at times the difference between life and death.

The Oil Price Information Service reported that two big pipelines were scheduled to resume partial operations Thursday and Friday, although the oil they carry only moves at a rate of three to five miles an hour.

Even if the ports and pipelines were running at full capacity, though, getting that fuel into people’s cars presents other challenges.

One is the ongoing power outages. “We are all dependent on utilities for electricity and that includes service stations and bulk terminals,” Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at OPIS, said via email…

At the retail level, tankers won’t deliver fuel to a gas station that doesn’t have electricity to power its pumps. As of Thursday, the American Automobile Association estimated that only 35 to 40 percent of gas stations in New York City and New Jersey were operating. On Long Island, the estimate was 30 to 35 percent.

The winds and tidal surge were devastating.  Downing power lines like falling dominoes.  But once the power lines are back up electric power will flow again.  Imagine if they had to rebuild the power generating infrastructure, too.  If the areas affected by super storm Sandy were powered by clean energy of the future.  Wind power and solar power.  If these were swept away like falling dominoes, too, it would take months to install new solar arrays and windmills.  In fact, it would take so long that they would probably attach the grid in those areas to a coal-fired power plant.  Until they could rebuild the clean power of the future.  While the detested coal-fired power plant (detested by the Left) shoulders the load comfortably.  Allowing those ravaged by super storm Sandy to return to normalcy quicker.  In fact, it would be far less costly just to leave these areas connected to a coal-fired power plant.  And smarter.  Because there will be other super storms coming that will just sweep the new solar arrays and windmills away like the previous ones.

If you’re interested in protecting human life during trying times you should embrace oil and coal.  As one will allow people to live when everything else is failing them.  And the other will allow the restoration of power as soon as the power lines are restored.  Something that solar and wind won’t do.

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FT142: “Solar and wind power would take the longest to restore after a devastating weather event.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 2nd, 2012

Fundamental Truth

Neither Snow nor Rain nor Heat nor Gloom of Night Stays the Production of Electric Power from Coal

What’s the best way to generate electric power?  This is not a trick question.  There is an answer.  And there is only one correct answer.  Coal.  A coal-fired power plant is the best way to generate electric power.  Coal-fired power plants can run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  You never have to turn them off.  They can produce an enormous amount of power for the given infrastructure.  You can put these power plants anywhere.  Where it’s snowy and cold.  Where it’s bright and sunny.  Where it’s cloudy and rainy.  It doesn’t matter.  Coal-fired power plants are like the US Postal Service.  Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays the production of electric power from coal.

Coal is a highly concentrated form of energy.  Burning a little of it goes a long way.  This is why one coal-fired power plant can add over 2,000 megawatts to the electric grid.  And why about 600 coal-fired power plants can provide over half of our electric power needs.  Coal is one of the most abundant fuel sources in the world, too.  In fact, America has more coal than we can use.  This high domestic supply makes coal cheap.  Which is why coal-produced electric power is some of the cheapest electricity we have.

The only thing that will shut down a coal-fired power plant is running out of coal.  Which doesn’t happen easily.  Look around a power plant and you will see mountains of coal.  And conveyor systems that move that coal to the firebox that burns it.  You’ll probably see more coal arriving.  By unit train.  Trains with nothing but coal cars stretching a mile long.  By river barge.  Or Great Lakes freighter.  Making round-trip after round-trip from the coal mines to the power plants.  We’ve even built power plants near coal mines.  And fed those plants with coal on conveyor systems from the mines to the power plants.  Trains, barges and freighters use self-contained fuel to transport that coal.  And electric power energizes those conveyor systems.  Electric power that comes from the power plant.  Making it difficult to interrupt that flow of coal to our power plants.  Onsite stockpiles of coal can power the plant during brief interruptions in this coal flow.  When the lakes freeze they can get their coal via train.  And if there is a train wreck or a track washout they can reroute trains onto other tracks.  Finally, coal-fired power plants are least dependent on other systems.  Whereas a natural gas-fired power plant is dependent on the natural gas infrastructure (pipelines, pumps, valves, pressure regulators, etc.).  If that system fails so do the natural gas-fired power plants.

Solar Panels produce low DC Currents and Voltages that we have to Convert to AC to Connect them to the Electric Grid

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays the production of electric power from coal.  But they sure can interrupt solar power.  Which won’t produce much power if there is snow or rain or night.  Giving it one of the lowest capacity factors.  Meaning that you get a small fraction of useful power from the installed capacity.  Wind power is a little better.  But sometimes the wind doesn’t blow.  And sometimes it blows too strong.  So wind power is not all that reliable either.  Hydroelectric power is more reliable.  But sometimes the rains don’t come.  And if there isn’t enough water behind a hydroelectric dam they have to take some generators offline.  For if they draw down the water level too much the water level behind the dam will be below the inlet to the turbines.  Which would shut off all the generators.

Of course, hydroelectric dams often have reservoirs.  These fill with water when the rains come.  So they can release their water to raise the water level behind a dam when the rains don’t come.  These reservoirs are, then, stored electric power.  For a minimal cost these can store a lot of electric power.  But it’s not an endless supply.  If there is a prolonged draught (or less snow in the mountains to melt and run off) even the water level in the reservoirs can fall too low to raise the water level behind the dam high enough to reach the water inlets to the turbines.

Storing electric power is something they can do with solar power, too.  Only it’s a lot more complex.  And a lot more costly.  Solar panels produce low DC currents and voltages.  Like small batteries in our flashlights.  So they have to have massive arrays of these solar panels connected together.  Like multiple batteries in a large flashlight.  They have to convert the DC power to AC power to connect it to the grid.  With some complicated and costly electronics.  And any excess power these solar arrays produce that they don’t feed into the grid they can store in a battery of batteries.  And as we know from the news on our electric cars, current battery technology does not hold a lot of charge.  Barely enough to drive a 75 mile round-trip.  So you’d need a lot of batteries to hold enough useful power to release into the grid after the sun goes down.

Storms like Sandy would wipe out Solar Arrays and Wind Farms with their High Winds and Storm Surges

When a 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit Japan in 2011 the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant suffered no damage.  Then the storm surge came.  Flooding the electrical equipment with highly conductive and highly corrosive seawater.  Shorting out and destroying that electrical equipment.  Shutting down the reactor cooling pumps.  Leading to a partial reactor core meltdown.  Proving what great damage can result when you mix water and electric equipment.  Especially when that water is seawater.

Hurricane Sandy hammered the Northeastern seaboard.  High winds and a storm surge destroyed cities and neighborhoods, flooded subway tunnels and left tens of millions of people without power.  And they may be without power for a week or more.  Restoring that power will consist primarily of fixing the electric grid.  To reconnect these homes and businesses to the power plants serving the electric grid.  They don’t have to build new power plants.  Now if these areas were powered by solar and wind power it would be a different story.  First of all, they would have lost power a lot earlier as the driving rains and cloud cover would have blocked out most of the sun.  The high winds would have taken the windmills offline.  For they shut down automatically when the winds blow too hard to prevent any damage.  Of course, the high winds and the storm surge would probably have damaged these as well as the power lines.  While shorting out and destroying all of that electronic equipment (to convert the DC power to AC power) and the battery storage system

So instead of just installing new power lines they would have to install new windmills, solar arrays, electronic equipment and storage batteries.  Requiring long manufacturing times.  Then time to transport.  And then time to install.  At a far greater cost than just replacing downed wires.  Leaving people without electric power for weeks.  Perhaps months.  Or longer.  This is why using coal-fired power plants is the best way to generate electric power.  They’re less costly.  Less fragile.  And less complicated.  You just don’t need such a large generating infrastructure.  Whereas solar arrays and wind farms would cover acres of land.  And water (for the wind farms).  And storms like Sandy could wipe these out with their high winds and storm surges.

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Clean Renewable Energy leaves India Vulnerable to more Massive Power Blackouts

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 25th, 2012

Week in Review

Hydroelectric power is the king of renewable energy.  The fuel is free.  It doesn’t burn.  It doesn’t pollute.  It’s quiet.  They can produce power when the sun doesn’t shine (unlike solar power).  And they can produce power when the wind doesn’t blow (unlike wind power).  Their reservoirs make scenic lakes and wildlife areas.  And after they’re built they don’t need a complicated infrastructure or masses of workers running around acres of land to keep them running.  They really only have one drawback.  You have no control over that free fuel (see More Power Blackouts Expected In India by Kenneth Rapoza posted 8/20/2012 on Forbes).

Between lackluster rainfall during monsoon season and a nasty political imbroglio in the capital city, India seems to be going back to the past.

And now, the northern states, including Delhi, could face power outages yet again as three small hydroelectric power stations have been shut down.  Combined, they run about 3,000 megawatts of electricity. Electricity generated at those power plants is distributed to 28 per cent of Indian households.

At the end of last month, back to back power outages gave way to power surges that unleashed quite a bit of chaos for over 600 million people affected.  In the last week of July, around 360 million people lost power in northern India due to excessive demand and a shortfall in hydropower. On July 31, power resumed in Delhi only to fail again the next day, with the chaos spreading to Calcutta and other parts of eastern India.

This is why reliable coal-fired power plants typically provide the majority of baseload power requirements.  The minimum amount of power we consistently use throughout the year.  Because a coal-fired power plant can also produce power when the sun doesn’t shine or when the wind doesn’t blow.  And they can even produce power when the monsoons don’t come.  You can call coal Mr. Reliable when it comes to power generation.  Old Faithful.  Mr. Dependable.  The Life Saver and Comfort Giver.  No matter the heat or humidity a coal-fired power plant will say, “Give me coal and I will keep your lights on and your air conditioners running.  In your homes.  In your hospitals.  In your restaurants.  Wherever you go.  Whatever your needs.  To help you back to good health.  Or so you can simply relax at the end of a hot, humid and exhausting day.  Give me coal and I will provide for you.”

But, alas, the government of India is trying to reduce India’s carbon footprint.  And is pursuing wind and solar power.  In fact they have just connected the world’s largest solar power plant to their electric grid.  Gujarat Solar Park.  Covering some 11 sites spread over 3,000 acres.  Putting some 600 megawatts onto the grid.  Replacing about 20% of what those three small hydroelectric dams were putting on the grid.  That is, the world’s largest solar power plant can only produce what three small hydroelectric dams can produce.  And that’s only when the sun shines.  An incredible investment of capital that did not prevent in any way the back to back massive power failures that left 360 million people without power.  Which is more than the entire population of the United States.  Which is about 314 million.  Just to give you an idea of how big this power failure was.

Just think what that massive investment in solar power could have done in the northern states of India.  Instead of tilting at windmills.  The global warming boogeyman.  They could have rebuilt the electric grid.  Added a coal-fired power plant or two.  And paid for who knows how much coal.  Had the Indian government done that the good people of India probably would not have suffered through back to back power outages.  Not with Mr. Reliable on the scene.  Who laughs at large power loads.  Because he can produce power every hour of every day of every season.  The way people like their power.

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