Wind Turbines versus a Coal-Fired Power Plant

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 26th, 2013

Economics 101

The Diameter of a 6 Megawatt 3-Blade Rotor is Greater than two 747-400s parked Wingtip to Wingtip

One of the largest coal-fired power plants in the world is in Macon, Georgia.  Plant Scherer.  Whose furnaces consume some 31,000 tons of coal a day.  Producing 3,500 megawatts of electric power.  Enough to power three good sized American cities.  A few million households.

One of the largest offshore wind turbines available on the market is 6 megawatt.  Which is huge.  One blade can be as long as 250 feet.  A typical 3-blade rotor can have a diameter of just over 500 feet.  To get a feel of this magnitude the wingspan of the world’s most common jumbo jet, the Boeing 747-400, is about 211 feet.  Which means one blade of a 6 megawatt wind turbine is longer than the wingspan of a Boeing 747-400.  And the diameter of a 3-blade rotor is greater than two 747-400s parked wingtip to wingtip.

A 6 megawatt wind turbine requires a tower of about 300 feet tall.  So the blades can spin without hitting the ground.  Which is about the same height of a 20 story building.  And if it’s an offshore turbine you can add another 2 stories or so for the tower below the surface of the water.  So these things are big.  And tall.  Some of the largest manmade machines built.  And some of the most costly.  It takes a huge investment to install a 6 megawatt wind turbine.  That can only produce 0.171% of the electric power that Plant Scherer can produce.

There is a Small Window of Wind Velocities that we can use to Generate Electric Power with Wind Turbines

So how many 6 megawatt turbines does it take to match the power output of Plant Scherer?  Well, to match the nameplate capacity you’ll need about 584 turbines.  If we install these offshore in a line that line would extend some 56 miles.  About an hour’s drive time at 55 mph.  Which is a very long line of very large and very costly wind turbines.

We said ‘nameplate capacity’ for a reason.  If 584 wind turbines were spinning in the right kind of wind they could match the output of Plant Scherer.  And what is the right kind of wind?  Not too slow.  And not too fast.  These turbines have gear boxes to speed up the rotational speed of the rotors.  And they vary the pitch of the blades on the rotors.  So the turbine can keep a constant rotational input to the electric generator.  If the wind is blowing slower than optimum the blades can catch more air to spin faster.  If the wind is blowing pretty strong the blades will turn to catch less air to spin slower.

In other words, there is a small window of wind velocities that we can use to generate electric power with wind turbines.  Too slow or no wind at all they produce no power.  If the wind is too great the blades turn parallel to the wind.  So the wind blows across the blades without turning them.  They also have brakes to lock down the rotors in very high winds to prevent any damage.  So if a storm blows through 584 offshore turbines they’ll produce no electric power.  Which means they can’t replace a Plant Scherer.  They can only operate with a Plant Scherer in backup.  To provide power then the winds just aren’t right.

The more Wind Turbines we install the more Costly our Electric Power Gets

Now back to that nameplate capacity.  This is the amount of power a power plant could produce.  It doesn’t mean what it will produce.  The capacity factor divides actual power produced over a period of time with the maximum amount of power that could have been produced.  A coal-fired power plant has a higher capacity factor than a wind turbine.  Because they can produce electricity pretty much whenever we want them to.  While a wind turbine can only produce electricity when the winds are blowing not too slow and not too fast.

So, if the winds aren’t blowing, or if they’re blowing too strongly, it is as if those wind turbines aren’t there.  Which means something else must be there.  Something more reliable.  Something that isn’t weather-dependent.  Such as a Plant Scherer.  In other words, even if we installed 584 turbines to match the output of Plant Scherer we could never get rid of Plant Scherer.  Because there will be times when those windmills will produce no power.  Requiring Plant Scherer to produce power as if we never had installed those wind turbines.  And because it takes time to bring a coal-fired power plant on line it has to keep burning coal even when the wind turbines are providing power.  So it can be ready to provide power when the windmills stop spinning.

Wind may be free but 584 wind turbines cost a fortune to install.  And this investment is in addition to the cost of building, maintaining and operating a coal-fired power plant like Plant Scherer.  All of which the consumer has to pay for.  Either in their electric bill (adding a surcharge for ‘clean energy investments’).  Or in higher taxes (property tax, income tax, etc.) that pays for renewable energy grants and subsidies.  Which means the more wind turbines we build the poorer we get.  Because we have duplicate power generation capacity when a single power plant could have sufficed.

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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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Windmills, Waterwheels, Steam Engine, Electric Power, Coal, Heat Engine, Steam Turbine, Generator and Coal-Fired Power Plant

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 11th, 2012

Technology 101

By burning Coal to Boil Water into Steam to Move a Piston we could Build a Factory Anywhere

We created advanced civilization by harnessing energy.  And converting this energy into working power.  Our first efforts were biological.  Feeding and caring for large animals made these animals strong.  Their physiology converted food and water into strong muscles and bones.  Allowing them to pull heavy loads.  From plowing.  To heavy transportation.  To use in construction.  Of course the problem with animals is that they’re living things.  They eat and drink.  And poop and pee.  Causing a lot of pollution in and around people.  Inviting disease.

As civilization advanced we needed more energy.  And we found it in wind and water.  We built windmills and waterwheels.  To capture the energy in moving wind and moving water.  And converted this into rotational motion.  Giving us a cleaner power source than working animals.  Power that didn’t have to rest or eat.  And could run indefinitely as long as the wind blew and the water flowed.  Using belts, pulleys, cogs and gears we transferred this rotational power to a variety of work stations.  Of course the problem with wind and water is that you needed to be near wind and water.  Wind was more widely available but less reliable.  Water was more reliable but less widely available.  Each had their limitations.

The steam engine changed everything.  By burning a fuel (typically coal) to boil water into steam to move a piston we could build a factory anywhere.  Away from rivers.  And even in areas that had little wind.  The reciprocating motion of the piston turned a wheel to convert it into rotational motion.  Using belts, pulleys, cogs and gears we transferred this rotational power to a variety of work stations.  This carried us through the Industrial Revolution.  Then we came up with something better.  The electric motor.  Instead of transferring rotational motion to a workstation we put an electric motor at the work station.  And powered it with electricity.  Using electric power to produce rotational motion at the workstation.  Electricity and the electric motor changed the world just as the steam engine had changed the world earlier.  Today the two have come together.

You can tell a Power Plant uses a Scrubber by the White Steam puffing out of a Smokestack

Coal has a lot of energy in it.  When we burn it this energy is transformed into heat.  Hot heat.  For coal burns hot.  The modern coal-fired power plant is a heat engine.  It uses the heat from burning coal to boil water into steam.  And as steam expands it creates great pressure.  We can use this pressure to push a piston.  Or turn a steam turbine.  A rotational device with fins.  As the steam pushes on these fins the turbine turns.  Converting the high pressure of the steam into rotational motion.  We then couple this rotational motion of the steam turbine to a generator.  Which spins the generator to produce electricity.

Coal-fired power plants are hungry plants.  A large plant burns about 1,000 tons of coal an hour.  Or about 30,000 pounds a minute.  That’s a lot of coal.  We typically deliver coal to these plants in bulk.  Via Great Lakes freighters.  River barges.  Or unit trains.  Trains made up of nothing but coal hopper cars.  These feed coal to the power plants.  They unload and conveyor systems take this coal and create big piles.  You can see conveyors rising up from these piles of coal.  These conveyors transport this coal to silos or bunkers.  Further conveyor systems transfer the coal from these silos to the plant.  Where it is smashed and pulverized into a dust.  And then it’s blown into the firebox, mixed with hot air and ignited.  Creating enormous amounts of heat to boil an enormous amount of water.  Creating the steam to turn a turbine.

Of course, with combustion there are products left over.  Sulfur impurities in the coal create sulfur dioxide.  And as the coal burns it leaves behind ash.  A heavy ash that falls to the bottom of the firebox.  Bottom ash.  And a lighter ash that is swept away with the flue gases.  Fly ash.  Filters catch the fly ash.  And scrubbers use chemistry to remove the sulfur dioxide from the flue gases.  By using a lime slurry.  The flue gases rise through a falling mist of lime slurry.  They chemically react and create calcium sulfate.  Or Gypsum.  The same stuff we use to make drywall out of.  You can tell a power plant uses a scrubby by the white steam puffing out of a smokestack.  If you see great plumes puffing out of a smokestack there’s little pollution entering the atmosphere.  A smokestack that isn’t puffing out a plume of white steam is probably spewing pollution into the atmosphere.

Coal is a Highly Concentrated Source of Energy making Coal King when it comes to Electricity

When the steam exits the turbines it enters a condenser.  Which cools it and lowers its temperature and pressure.  Turning the steam back into water.  It’s treated then sent back to the boiler.  However, getting the water back into the boiler is easier said than done.  The coal heats the water into a high pressure steam.  So high that it’s hard for anything to enter the boiler.  So this requires a very powerful pump to overcome that pressure.  In fact, this pump is the biggest pump in the plant.  Powered by electric power.  Or steam.  Sucking some 2-3 percent of the power the plant generates.

Coupled to the steam turbine is a power plant’s purpose.  Generators.  Everything in a power plant serves but one purpose.  To spin these generators.  And when they spin they generate a lot of power.  Producing some 40,000 amps at 10,000 to 30,000 volts at a typical large plant.  Multiplying current by power and you get some 1,200 MW of power.  Which can feed a lot of homes with 100 amp, 240 volt services.  Some 50,000 with every last amp used in their service.  Or more than twice this number under typical loads.  Add a few boilers (and turbine and generator sets) and one plant can power every house and business across large geographic areas in a state.  Something no solar array or wind farm can do.  Which is why about half of all electricity produced in the U.S. is generated by coal-fired power plants.

Coal is a highly concentrated source of energy.  A little of it goes a long way.  And a lot of it produces enormous amounts of electric power.  Making coal king when it comes to electricity.  There is nothing that can match the economics and the logistics of using coal.  Thanks to fracking, though, natural gas is coming down in price.  It can burn cleaner.  And perhaps its greatest advantage over coal is that we can bring a gas-fired plant on line in a fraction amount of the time it takes to bring a coal-fired plant on line.  For coal-fired plants are heat engines that boil water into steam to spin turbines.  Whereas gas-fired plants use the products of combustion to spin their turbines.  Utilities typically use a combination of coal-fired and gas-fired plants.  The coal-fired plants run all of the time and provide the base load.  When demand peaks (when everyone turns on their air conditioners in the evening) the gas-fired plants are brought on line to meet this peak demand.

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Global Warming is Bad unless that Warming is the Byproduct of Efforts to Prevent Global Warming

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 29th, 2012

Week in Review

One of the solutions to global warming has one minor drawback.  Wind farms may cause global warming.  Talk about your ironies (see Wind farms can increase night time temperatures, research reveals by Damian Carrington posted 4/29/2012 on The Guardian).

Large windfarms can increase local night time temperatures by fanning warmer air onto the ground, new research has revealed. The study used satellite data to show that the building of huge wind farms in west Texas over the last decade has warmed the nights by up to 0.72C…

The scientists say the effect is due to the gentle turbulence caused by the wind turbines. After the sun has set, the land cools down more quickly than the air, leaving a cold blanket of air just above the ground. But the turbine wakes mix this cold layer with the warmer air above, raising the temperature. A previous study found a similar effect but was based on data from only two weather stations over just six weeks.

“The result looks pretty solid to me,” said Steven Sherwood at the climate change research centre at the University of New South Wales, Australia. “The same strategy is commonly used by fruit growers, who fly helicopters over the orchards rather than erect windmills, to combat early morning frosts…”

He told the Guardian that his results could not be used as an justification for blocking new wind farms. “The warming might have positive effects,” he said. “Furthermore, this study is focused only on one region and for only 9 years. Much more work is needed before we can draw any conclusion.”

For those outside the metric system, that 0.72 degrees Celsius temperature rise is almost 2 degrees Fahrenheit.  Which can be the difference between water and ice.  Or frost.

This warming might have positive effects?  As opposed to the kind of warming that wind farms are supposed to prevent?  Interesting.  Warming is bad.  So we need to build wind farms.  Wind farms may cause warming.  But, hang on, warming can now be beneficial (such as when it improves crop yields in orchards).  What is this?  Schrödinger’s Cat?  That is both alive and dead when sealed in a box.  And only do we know its true state when we open the box and observe what’s inside.  If so then why do the global warming alarmists, I mean scientists, always assume the cat is dead when it could very well be alive?

Of course it’s premature to draw any conclusions because it’s been barely a decade of study.  We don’t want to jump to any conclusions like they did when they said an ice age was coming.  Just before they changed their mind and said it was global warming.  And the science had always said it was global warming.  Despite what conclusions they jumped to back then.  Back to Schrödinger’s Cat we go.  Where apparently they observe what they want to observe to favor the prevailing political climate.  So I guess it’s climate science after all.  The science of political climate.

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Sir Tim Rice drops Support for Conservatives because they Support and Subsidize Wind Farms

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 25th, 2012

Week in Review

Sir Tim Rice is one of the greatest lyricists to ever write a lyric.  Yes, Lord Lloyd-Webber can write a catchy tune.  But it was Sir Tim’s lyrics that really made Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita come alive on stage.  Which is a very big reason why these shows still tour.  The man is brilliant.  And as it turns out, in more ways than one (see Sir Tim Rice on his new musical and working with Andrew Lloyd Webber by Roya Nikkhah posted 3/25/2012 on The Telegraph).

Falling out of love with the Conservatives, for starters. Once a stalwart party donor and fundraiser, his support has waned as the Tories’ enthusiasm has grown for “insane” policies such as supporting and subsidising wind farms.

“I recently declined to support a Conservative function because I’m so incensed about these wind turbines. Like all so-called climate-change doubters, I am very pro the environment, but I strongly believe that it is something that can only be cured locally. Some insane overall scheme isn’t going to cure all the problems. And the money that is wasted! As a landowner in Scotland [Sir Tim owns the 33,000-acre Dundonnell estate in Wester Ross on the west coast], I’ve been offered vast amounts of money to stick up wind turbines, which not only will make me richer, it will make less well-off people poorer, and will damage the environment. These schemes aren’t doing any good – just making rich people richer, and it’s depressing to see great areas of these useless objects up there.

“It’s a scam – a con – and until the Government has the brains to actually say, hang on, we’ve got it wrong, this is a total economic and environmental error, then I find it hard to give total support to them.”

It is so refreshing to hear someone in the arts community speak out against silly environmental policy.  Which is rather rare.  For people in the arts pursue their passions.  Their love of art leaves little room for much else.  So they don’t spend a whole lot of time studying the issues of the day.  Their industry as a whole has a position on these issues.  Which many artists simply endorse.  Thinking they are well thought out positions.  But they’re not.  And are usually guided by their desire for further government funding.  Requiring higher taxes on businesses.  And as a result artists tend to be anti-business.  Because they ‘take money away’ from the arts.  Even though they accept grants from them and will display their names prior to a performance.  But in general they don’t much care for business.  And tend to come down on the side in favor of environmental regulation and green energy.  But not Sir Tim.  Who apparently has studied the issues.  And has made an informed decision. 

The reason why we use coal, natural gas and nuclear power is because these sources of energy are highly concentrated sources of energy.  A little of them will produce a lot of electricity.  And they are reliable.  They’ll produce electricity rain or shine.  Day or night.  Wind or no wind.  Wind power is none of this.  It is not a concentrated source of energy.  So it takes a lot of windmills to produce a little electricity.  And if the wind doesn’t blow they don’t produce any electricity.  So this is a lot of money to produce a little electricity.  It is not cost-efficient.  A terrible waste of investment capital.  And taxpayer money.  Which is the point Sir Tim is making. 

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Flint Tools, Levers, Wheels, Animal Power, Water Power, Wind Power, Steam Power, Electrical Power, Nuclear Power and Solar Power

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 22nd, 2012

Technology 101

Man harnessed the Energy in Moving Water with a Water Wheel

When prehistoric man first chipped a piece of flint to make a sharp edge he learned something.  It made work easier.  And his life better.  This tool concentrated his energy into that sharp edge.  Increasing the amount of energy he could put to work.  Allowing him to skin an animal quickly and efficiently like never before.  Making better hides to protect him from the elements.  Yes, he said, this tool is good.  But in a somewhat less sophisticated manner of speech.

From that moment forward it has been man’s singular desire to improve on this first tool.  To find ways to concentrate energy and put it to work.  Levers allowed him to move heavier things.  Wheels allowed him to move heavier loads.  The block and tackle allowed him to lift or pull heavier weights.  Harnessing animals allowed him to do all of these things even better.  And we would use animal power for millennia.  Even today they still provide the primary source of power for some less developed countries.

But animals have their limitations.  They’re big, they eat, drink, pee and poop.  Which doesn’t make them an ideal source of power to turn a mill wheel.  A big wheel that grinds grain into flour.  It’s heavy.  But it doesn’t have to spin fast.  Just for long periods of time.  Then man had another moment like he did when he chipped a piece of flint.  He noticed in his environment that things moved.  The wind.  And the water in a river.  The wind could blow fast or slow.  Or not at all.  But the water flow was steady.  And reliable.  So man harnessed the energy in the moving water with a water wheel.  And connected it to his mill wheel via some belts and pulleys.  And where there was no water available he harnessed the less reliable wind.

The Steam Engine eliminated the Major Drawbacks of Water Power and Wind Power 

The water flowed day and night.  You didn’t have to feed it or clean up after it.  And a strong current had a lot of concentrated energy.  Which could do a lot of work.  Far more than a sharpened piece of flint.  Which was ideal for our first factories.  The water wheel shaft became a main drive shaft that drove other machines via belts and pulleys.  The main drive shaft ran the length of the factory.  Workers could operate machinery underneath it by engaging it to the main drive shaft through a belt and pulley.  Take a trip to the past and visit a working apple mill powered by a water wheel.  It’s fascinating.  And you’ll be able to enjoy some fresh donuts and hot cider.  During the harvest, of course.

While we built factories along rivers we used that other less reliable source of energy to cross oceans.  Wind power.  It wasn’t very reliable.  And it wasn’t very concentrated.  But it was the only way you could cross an ocean.  Which made it the best way to cross an ocean.  Sailors used everything on a sailing ship from the deck up to catch the wind and put it to work.  Masts, rigging and sails.  Which were costly.  Required a large crew.  And took up a lot of space and added a lot of weight.  Space and weight that displaced revenue-earning cargo.

The steam engine eliminated the major drawbacks of water power and wind power.  By replacing the water wheel with a steam engine we could build factories anywhere.  Not just on rivers.  And the steam engine let ships cross the oceans whenever they wanted to.  Even when the wind didn’t blow.  And more space was available for revenue-earning cargo.  When these ships reached land we transferred their cargoes to trains.  Pulled by steam locomotives.  That could carry this revenue-earning cargo across continents.   This was a huge step forward.  Boiling water by burning coal to make steam.  A highly concentrated energy source.  A little of it went a long way.  And did more work for us than ever.  Far more than a water wheel.  It increased the amount of work we could do so much that it kicked off the Industrial Revolution.

With Nuclear Power our Quest to find more Concentrated Forms of Energy came to an End 

We replaced coal with oil in our ships and locomotives.  Because it was easier to transport.  Store.  And didn’t need people to shovel it into a boiler.  Oil burners were more efficient.  We even used it to generate a new source of power.  Electrical power.  We used it to boil water at electrical generating plants to spin turbines that turned electrical generators.  We could run pipelines to feed these plants.  Making the electricity they generated even more efficient.  And reliable.  Soon diesel engines replaced the oil burners in ships and trains.  Allowed trucks and buses to run where the trains didn’t.  And gasoline allowed people to go anywhere the trains and buses didn’t go.

The modern economy ran on petroleum.  And electricity.  We even returned to the water wheel to generate electricity.  By building dams to build huge reservoirs of water at elevations.  Creating huge headwater forces.  Concentrating more energy in water.  Which we funneled down to the lower elevation.  Making it flow through high-speed water turbines connected to electrical generators.  That spun far faster than their water wheel ancestors.  Producing huge amounts of reliable electrical power.  We even came up with a more reliable means to create electrical power.  With an even more concentrated fuel.  Fissile material gave us nuclear power.  During the oil shocks of the Seventies the Japanese made a policy change to expand their use of nuclear power.  To insulate them from future oil supply shocks.  Which it did.  While in America the movie The China Syndrome came out around the time of the incident at Three Mile Island.  And killed nuclear power in America.  (But as a consolation prize we disproved the idea of Keynesian stimulus.  When the government created massive inflation with Keynesian policy.  Printing money.  Which raised prices without providing any new economic activity.  Causing instead high inflation and high unemployment.  What we call stagflation.  The Japanese got a big Keynesian lesson about a decade later.  When their massive asset bubble began to deflate giving them their Lost Decade.)

And with nuclear power that quest to find more ways to make better and more efficient use of concentrated energy from that first day we used a flint tool came to an end.  Global warming alarmists are killing sensible sources of energy that have given us the modern world.  Even animal rights activists are fighting against one of the cleanest sources of power we’ve ever used.  Water power.  Because damming rivers harms ecosystems in the rivers we dam.  Instead political pressures have turned the hands of time backwards by using less concentrated and less efficient sources of energy.  Wind power.  And solar power.  Requiring far greater infrastructure installations to capture far less amounts of energy from these sources.  Power plants using wind power and solar power will require acres of land for windmills and solar panels.  And it will take many of these power plants to produce what a single power plant using coal, oil, natural gas or fissile material can generate.  Making power more costly than it ever has been.  Despite wind and sunshine being free.  And when the great civilizations become bankrupt chasing bankrupt energy policies we will return to a simpler world.  A world where we don’t make and use power.  Or machinery.  Much like our flint-tool using ancestors.  Albeit with a more sophisticated way of expressing ourselves.

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Trump Blasts the Scots for Planning to Build Windmills off the Coast of his Golf Resort

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 11th, 2012

Week in Review

Putting up windmills in the country is one thing.  Sure, the famers may hate not being able to get a decent night’s sleep because of the incessant noise from the windmills but what are they going to do about?  They’re poor farmers.  It’s not like they’re rich (see Angry Donald Trump blasts plans for Scottish wind farm near his luxury golf resort by Associated Press posted 2/10/2012 on The Washington Post).

Trump has launched a blistering attack on Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond over plans to build a “horrendous” wind farm off the coast of his luxury Scottish golf resort. In an open letter, Trump accuses Salmond of being “hell bent on destroying Scotland’s coast line and therefore Scotland itself…”

He ridicules the Scottish National Party’s renewable energy policies, claiming the economic benefit is going to China and other countries, not Scotland.

 “Jobs will not be created in Scotland because these ugly monstrosities known as turbines are manufactured in other countries such as China. These countries, who so benefit from your billions of pounds of payments, are laughing at you!” Trump said.

Trump isn’t alone.  The late Ted Kennedy felt the same way.  Back when they were trying to install windmills in Nantucket Sound that could provide three-fourths of Cape Cod’s power cleanly without any carbon footprint Kennedy said whoa now, just wait a minute.  This champion of green energy said windmills are all well and fine when they spoil someone else’s view.  But not ours.  We’re rich.  Put them someplace else.

It just goes to show you that rich people don’t like green energy.  At least, not when it’s in their own backyard.  But at least Trump notes an economic argument as well.  And then there’s the fact that sometimes the wind doesn’t blow.  Which is why windmills have a pretty low capacity factor (only 20-40% of the installed capacity is typically generated).  A lot of money for little benefit to combat the lie of man-made global warming.  If Trump knows anything it’s return on investment.  So not only will they spoil his view they’ll do so for a bad investment.  Which must just add insult to injury for an investor like Trump.

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People don’t want Costly, Inefficient and Noisy Wind-Generated Power forced on them in Ontario

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 22nd, 2012

Week in Review

Ontario is putting up wind farms in rural communities.  And the people in those communities are very unhappy about it (see Ontario farm group urges halt to wind power development by Richard Blackwell posted 1/20/2012 on The Globe and Mail).

Ontario’s largest farm organization has called for a moratorium on wind power development in the province, saying there are too many unanswered questions about its value, and that the debate over turbines is polarizing rural communities.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture, which represents more than 38,000 farmers in the province, said Friday that no more wind turbines should be built until a number of issues are dealt with.

First, some of the planning for wind farms should be returned to municipalities, the OFA said. Under the province’s Green Energy Act, municipalities have very little say in the decisions where turbines will be built.

Health and noise complaints also need to be addressed, the OFA said, and more study has to be done to ensure that the current minimum 550 metre “setback” from houses is sufficient.

People living close to these turbines complain about the noise and vibrations.  Can’t sleep.  Some even getting sick.  And when they sell their houses they have to disclose these health problems lest they be sued by the new owners.  When they can sell, that is.  It’s so good to be green.  People feel good about going green.  That they’re doing their part for the environment.  As long as they do their part in someone else’s backyard.  Because the people who are unlucky enough to live by these turbines are seeing their property values plummet.  Because people don’t want to live by these windmills.  Because they’re big and noisy.  And won’t let you sleep.

There needs to be more work done to allow the electricity generated from turbines to be stored, the federation said, because the power is currently often sold at a loss on export markets when it is not being generated at times of peak usage…

Ontario has installed about 2,000 megawatts of wind power capacity, by far the most of any Canadian province. Development has been accelerated by the Green Energy Act, under which the province pays premium rates for electricity produced by renewable power projects.

And if the health problems and declining property values weren’t enough these windmills are also inefficient.  Producing electricity during off-peak times.  So to make them efficient will require a massive investment in energy storage facilities.  Consisting of electrical rectifiers, batteries and inverters.  To convert the AC generated power to DC so it can be stored in batteries.  And then converted back into AC when sold on the grid during peak demand.

It sure is a lot of trouble for some 2,000 megawatts of wind-generated electricity.  But the wind doesn’t blow all of the time.  And it isn’t constant when it does blow.  Which is why we rate wind-generation with a capacity factor.  A percentage of the nameplate value.  These factors range from 20-40%.  Which means this 2,000 megawatts of wind-generated electricity is more like 400-800 megawatts.  Not a lot, is it?  By contrast the Nanticoke Generating Station in southern Ontario has a rated capacity of 3,964 MW.  And all you need to get that capacity is to turn the plant on and feed it fossil fuels.

The Nanticoke Generating Station is one facility.  Where it can be managed.  And its emissions can be scrubbed.  Wind turbines, on the other hand, come in small sizes.  They can’t be too big because they sit on top of a pole.  The turbines at the 181.5 MW Enbridge Ontario Wind Farm in Bruce County, Ontario, have a nameplate rating of 1,650 kilowatts each.  Which is why they need 110 of them for that 181.5 MW rating.  Which is more like 36-73 megawatts when factoring in the capacity factor.  Again, not a lot for all of the trouble they cause.  Which begs the question are they worth it?  From an economic standpoint the answer couldn’t be more ‘no’.  They’re very bad economics.  And people hate living by them.  So are they worth it?  It sure doesn’t look like it.

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Team Obama Lying to Scare Americans to Increase the Debt Limit so they can Continue their Orgy of Spending

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 10th, 2011

Talking up the Horrible Economy in 2010

Back in August of 2010, Timothy Geithner took to the New York Times to tell everyone how wonderful the economic recovery was (see Welcome to the Recovery by Timothy Geithner posted 8/2/2010 on The New York Times).

The recession that began in late 2007 was extraordinarily severe, but the actions we took at its height to stimulate the economy helped arrest the freefall, preventing an even deeper collapse and putting the economy on the road to recovery…

Private job growth has returned — not as fast as we would like, but at an earlier stage of this recovery than in the last two recoveries. Manufacturing has generated 136,000 new jobs in the past six months…

Wow.  In only 6 months their policies have created 136,000 new jobs.  And their swift and bold action prevented the freefall loss of gosh knows how many jobs.  That’s good.  So how bad was that freefall?

The new data show that this recession was even deeper than previously estimated. The plunge in economic activity started an entire year before President Obama took office and was accelerating at the end of 2008, when G.D.P. fell at an annual rate of roughly 7 percent.

Panicked by the collapse in demand and financing and fearing a prolonged slump, the private sector cut payrolls and investment savagely. The rate of job loss worsened with time: by early last year, 750,000 jobs vanished every month. The economic collapse drove tax revenue down, pushing the annual deficit up to $1.3 trillion by last January.

Okay, first he has to get the obligatory blame George W. Bush first out of the way.  So then we get to the good news.  The amount of damage they prevented.  We were losing 750,000 jobs every month.  Which would be 4,500,000 in a 6-month period.  Humph.  Getting back 136,000 of the 4,500,000 jobs lost is being on the road to recovery?  That’s like one job back for every 33 lost.  Are you sure this is a recovery? 

Oh, and that $1.3 trillion deficit?  It wasn’t from a lack of revenue.  It was from an orgy of spending.

The economic rescue package that President Obama put in place was essential to turning the economy around. The combined effect of government actions taken over the past two years — the stimulus package, the stress tests and recapitalization of the banks, the restructuring of the American car industry and the many steps taken by the Federal Reserve — were extremely effective in stopping the freefall and restarting the economy.

According to a report released last week by Alan Blinder and Mark Zandi, advisers to President Bill Clinton and Senator John McCain, respectively, the combined actions since the fall of 2007 of the Federal Reserve, the White House and Congress helped save 8.5 million jobs and increased gross domestic product by 6.5 percent relative to what would have happened had we done nothing. The study showed that government action delivered a powerful bang for the buck, and that the bank rescue on its own will turn a profit for taxpayers.

A powerful bang for the buck?  I don’t know.  Saying how great your actions were by what didn’t happen is a bit spurious.  I mean, I could say that thanks to George W. Bush and the policies he implemented after 9/11 he saved the lives of 8.5 million Americans that would have otherwise died in terrorist attacks.  Simply by scaring a lot of bad guys from trying anything now that there was a new sheriff in town.  It’s as plausible as that Blinder and Zandi report.  You can’t prove either.  Or disprove either.  So it’s a license to lie.

Still Talking up the Horrible Economy in 2011

It’s almost been a year since Geithner’s NYT piece.  If he was right things should be a whole lot better now.  The Obama administration took full credit then for the ‘recovery’.  So the current economic numbers are now theirs.  Which means they can’t blame George W. Bush anymore.  And how are those numbers?  Still horrible (see You are what your record says you are by Conn Carroll posted 7/10/2011 on The Washington Examiner).

Last month, David Gregory tripped up new DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz up with a chart detailing President Obama’s economic record. It showed unemployment up 25 percent since Obama was inaugurated, debt up 35 percent, and gas up more than 100 percent. Wasserman Schultz lamely tried to argue that the economy was getting better, to which Gregory replied: “Americans don’t believe that’s the case.”

This Sunday was Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s turn and he fared no better. At one point he even blamed the weather for Obama’s terrible economic record.

The numbers are horrible now.  And they were horrible a year ago.  There’s been no recovery.  And all of the administration’s actions haven’t done anything but explode the federal debt.  Which is at a record high.  As are the deficits under Obama.  And what does Team Obama want to do about that?  Why, borrow some more.  To spend some more.  Of course.

The U.S. isn’t close to Running out of Money

Despite the great economic news last August and the current great news (per the Obama administration, not per reality), things are pretty bad on the debt front.  In fact, those rascally Republicans with their opposition to raising the debt limit may place this glorious economic recovery into jeopardy.  Worse, they may destroy America as we know it (see ‘No delaying’ deadline to lift US debt ceiling posted 7/10/2011 on the BBC).

The US faces running out of money and defaulting if Congress does not allow the government to take on more debt.

If no agreement is reached, the government would be unable to pay civil servants, government contractors, pensioners or holders of government debt.

Economists and the White House have warned that such a default could push the US back into recession and have a global economic impact.

This is actually BS.  And I don’t mean Barbara Streisand.  The federal government is awash in cash.  Just not enough to further increase spending.  How much?  Well, let’s look at some of the numbers per the Tax Policy Center.  Tax receipts (i.e., actual cash dollars the government collects) for the years 2008, 2009 and 2010 were $2.5 trillion, $2.1 trillion and $2.2 trillion, respectively.  That doesn’t include any borrowing.  That’s pure cash on the barrelhead.  That’s a lot of cash that can pay a lot of bills.  It’s in the neighborhood of $180 billion a month.  And the projection for 2011?  Holding steady at about $2.2 trillion.  Again, that’s cash flowing into Washington from taxpayers.  Nothing borrowed.  Or printed.

Despite this staggering amount of cash raining down on Washington it’s not enough.  For the years 2008, 2009 and 2010, the deficits were $458 billion, $1.4 trillion and $1.2 trillion, respectively.  And the projected deficit for 2011 is $1.6 trillion.  Again, it’s the orgy of spending that is the problem.  It’s not a revenue problem.  The U.S. isn’t close to running out of money.  Team Obama is just lying to try and scare the pants off of people to get them to hate Republicans.  And to pressure them to raise the debt limit.  So they can borrow more.  And go on another spending bender.

Green Energy can only Survive when heavily Subsidized by the Government 

So what, exactly, did they spend all that money on?  Well, there was the stimulus.  The financial and auto bailouts (which should have been left to the bankruptcy courts).  And all their tweaking of the private sector economy.  Especially the green one.  For that’s America’s future.  Green energy.  And they were going to help make it happen.  By subsidizing the crap out of it (see Michigan town shows promise and pitfalls of job retraining by Don Lee posted 7/10/2011 on The Los Angeles Times).

Uni-Solar began with a hiring surge that by 2009 had climbed to 422 workers… But the Greenville plant’s primary market is Europe, and when sales in Italy and France declined as a result of the recession and other factors, Uni-Solar cut back…

Greenville and Uni-Solar also were hurt because state and federal policies simply weren’t in place to support them. Unlike the United States, for instance, Canada subsidizes consumers who adopt solar power, but only if they buy solar panels with domestically manufactured contents…

Canada is not alone in adopting comprehensive programs of subsidies, tax provisions and other incentives to foster domestic industries. Germany has an elaborate program to support automobile, electronics and other manufacturing and to discourage its companies from moving operations overseas.

That’s right, the green energy sector can only survive when heavily subsidized by the government.  To help the green energy market compete with the more reliable and less expensive fossil fuel market.  In the U.S.  As well as in Europe.  Worse, all this government help has only created a green energy bubble.  Created a lot of supply for a demand that wasn’t there.  Just like this plant in Greenville, Michigan.

The only way to make Green Energy practical is to make Consumers pay more for Electricity

The U.S. should consider itself lucky that their government is cutting subsidies.  Because it at least gives consumers a chance at a better economy.  Perhaps Washington will cut its spending.  And let the taxpayers keep more of their money so they can make it in an economy with rising prices.  Unlike in the UK (see Power bills to soar by 30% in ‘green’ reforms by Rowena Mason and David Barrett posted 7/9/2011 on The Telegraph).

Costly new incentives to encourage energy companies to invest in renewable power sources such as wind farms will put an extra £160 a year on the average household bill over the next 20 years…

Mr Huhne is expected to announce on Tuesday that energy companies, such as Centrica and EDF, will get a fixed price for electricity generated from nuclear power and wind farms, which will be higher than the market price.

The financial incentives will be funded by consumers, who will see their electricity bills rise by 30 per cent over the next 20 years from an average of £493 per year to £655 per year.

You see, renewable energy is a money losing investment.  It’s just too costly.  So power companies won’t venture into these green markets unless someone makes it worth their while.  And in the UK the government is doing just that.  By giving them lucrative cash incentives.  Which the government will pay for via higher electricity bills.  Leaving the consumer with less money to live on in an economy with rising prices.

The costly package due to be outlined in full this week is designed to reassure generation companies that Britain is an attractive place to build nuclear power stations and wind farms.

Mr Huhne admitted in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph last year that there was no money available for direct state subsidies for a new generation of nuclear plants, so this week’s announcement sets out how consumers will shoulder the cost of incentives directly.

Yes, the only way to make green energy practical is to make consumers pay more for electricity.

The changes to be outlined by Mr Huhne this week will hand billions of pounds in subsidies to the energy companies and kick-start a construction programme creating thousands of jobs.

But combined with further green taxes, such as the European emissions trading scheme, and upgrades to Britain’s national grid the measures could see Britain’s gas and electricity bills rise by 50 per cent – or £500 per average household bill – according to Ofgem, the energy regulator.

Create ‘thousands of jobs’ by making all consumers live on less.  At least those who use electricity.

By the time you factor in the other costs of green living the average Briton could see a 50% increase in their utility costs.  Which is a staggering cost to pay for a few thousand jobs.  The economy, and the consumer, would be better off with coal.  It’s more reliable.  It’s cheaper.  And one plant out of site can provide power to hundreds of thousands.  Which is better than dotting the landscape with windmills as far as the eye can see.  To produce power only when the wind blows.

The Government has a Spending Addiction

Team Obama has made a mess of things with their orgy of spending.  More than tripled the deficit since coming into office.  Requiring ever more borrowing to ‘save the country’.  Which is, of course, a lie.  Washington is awash in cash.  Over $2 trillion a year.  And if that isn’t enough to pay the bills then this administration should just resign.

The economy is stalled.  The recession never ended.  Money poured into the green energy sector was money wasted.  And is only creating a green energy bubble by building supply for demand that isn’t there.  Like in Greenville, Michigan.  Yes, supply can create demand per Say’s Law.  If that supply is something that people want.  And that’s the problem.  People don’t want more expensive and less reliable energy.  Especially in an economy with rising prices.

The facts and figures all confirm one thing.  The U.S. has a spending problem.  Not a revenue problem.  The government is like an addict with a spending addiction.  Who will lie and say anything to satisfy that addiction.  Only this addict is worse than your run of the mill junkie.  For if Team Obama overdoses it will take a nation with it.  In fact, this administration is in such denial that perhaps an intervention is in order.  Which is really what the budget debate is.  The Republicans need to be strong.  For Obama.  And the nation.  They have to hold the line on the debt limit.  Do not give them more money to spend.  Because with over $2 trillion a year, they have enough already.

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Green Energy taking us to a George Orwell 1984 Future?

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 8th, 2011

Smartphones so Smart they know where you’ve Been

The digital world leaves a lot of digital footprints.  And there’s a lot of money in those footprints (See Apple, Google to face lawmakers in privacy tussle by Diane Bartz posted 5/8/2011 on Reuters).

Tech companies such as Apple and Google are hoping the tracks of millions of mobile device users will lead to billions of dollars in revenue.

But where they see dollar signs, lawmakers see red flags.

Following us around and keeping track of where we went?  I don’t know.  Sounds a little creepy to me.  But I guess if everyone knows they’re doing this and voluntarily agree to it, I guess there’s no problem.

Smartphone and advertising companies argue that they use data on what users like (which they know because users use the phone to check prices); where they are (which they know because of contact with cell phone towers); and who their friends are (which they know from social media like Facebook) to give their customers ads for products they are most likely to buy…

But the discomfort comes with the failure of companies — ranging from smartphone makers, to app makers, to advertisers — to disclose to customers what information they are collecting and what they will do with it, said a staffer for Democratic Senator Al Franken, chairman of the online privacy subcommittee that will hold Tuesday’s hearing.

What we like?  Where we are?  Who our friends are?  Without our knowledge?  Sure, we clicked to approve the 50 million-word user agreement to activate our stuff so we could get on with our lives.  But we’re not all lawyers.  And some of us work.  We don’t have the time to read these agreements and then to hire someone to explain what they mean. 

It’s still creepy but as long as it’s not for nefarious purposes…

Franken’s staff has been concerned by reports that insurance companies have explored using location tracking to calculate insurance rates by noting where people go — for example if they go to a gym or a donut store…

“The fact is that they’re creating these sort of mobile digital dossiers based on what you do on your mobile phone and where you are,” said Jeff Chester, head of the Center for Digital Democracy.

Whoa.  This is just a little too KGB-like police state.  The government is right to step in stop this Orwellian activity.  Thankfully, we can always trust government to do what’s right for the people.  I mean, they would never consider tracking our whereabouts like these untrustworthy corporations.

Government Considering getting Deep into our Private Lives

Actually, as it turns out, they would.  Track us.  Or, rather, our cars.  Which typically only go where we go.  So it’s a lot like Apple and Google.  Only, unlike them, the government won’t be trying to persuade us to buy something.  They’ll just be taking our money (see Pay per mile: A timely tax idea, or a privacy threat? by Tom Curry posted 5/5/2011 on msnbc).

Department of Transportation officials have drafted legislation that would study a vehicle tax to track how far drivers travel and charge them by the mile. The proposal would create a “Surface Transportation Revenue Alternatives Office” to conduct trials of the concept.

The draft proposal was first reported this week in Transportation Weekly, a trade publication. A White House spokeswoman told The Hill newspaper that the draft “does not represent the views of the president” and is in no way an administration proposal.

To ‘track’ drivers.  Rather ominous.  Government tracking our whereabouts.  That’s more something out of 1984 than the United States of America.

A tax or fee on miles driven could possibly supplant the gasoline tax, which has has lost a third of its purchasing power since it was last raised by Congress in 1993. Since 2008, according to a Congressional Budget Office report, the money available in the highway trust fund has not been enough to cover federal spending on highways, requiring an additional injection of about $30 billion from the federal treasury. 

Yes, “supplant” the gas tax.  If there is one thing Americans are familiar with is the way government eliminates taxes that they don’t need any more.  And by ‘familiar with’ I mean it rarely ever happens.  Because new taxes are implemented to fund ever growing government spending.  And eliminating a tax just makes it harder to fund ever growing government spending.

But raising the tax when a gallon of gas costs more than $4 in many parts of the country is a nonstarter for most members of Congress.

And the gasoline tax is pumping less money into federal coffers over time, as automobile companies continue to improve the fuel economy of cars they manufacture.

So even though we are paying more for gasoline than we ever have and more people are driving than ever before, it’s not enough to fund government.  How much do you want to bet that gas prices will go down after they implement the new ‘government tracking your whereabouts’ tax?  Don’t bet.  Because they won’t.  And if you were about to bet that they would you should probably have someone else handle your money.

With the Obama administration encouraging people to buy fuel-efficient vehicles, “there’s a total contradiction in current government policy” in how highways are funded, said energy consultant Geoffrey Styles, who writes the widely followed Energy Outlook blog.

Styles said policy makers need to address this issue “before there are 20 million electric vehicles on the road.”

“If we’ve waited that long, and all those folks have been used to driving those cars without paying any energy tax, then trying to change what we do is going to be a big disconnect,” he said.

And there is that most coveted tax of all.  The energy tax.  And the electric car makes it the fair thing to do.  It kind of reminds me of that line in the movie Patton.  Near the end when Patton is talking on the phone with General Bedell Smith.  Patton is just itching to start a war with the Russians.  And says that he can.  That he can start a war with the “sons of bitches” and make it look like it was their fault.  General Smith calls Patton mad and hangs up.  Now I’m not saying that the government planned to pass the energy tax by making it look like the sons of bitches (i.e., we the people) asked for it.  I’m just saying it reminds me of that line in Patton.

As experts have recognized, many Americans would be wary of the idea of a government agency tracking their vehicle in order to tax the miles they drive.

“The problem comes the minute you introduce a device in the vehicle” because people “do not want the government to know where they are and where they are going,” Styles said.

That’s right.  Our privacy is sacred.  So sacred that the government is convening hearings to look into Apple and Google for violating that sacred trust.  Because targeting advertising at us threatens the very foundation of a free society.  Unlike an all-powerful government using its power to track what we do in our personal lives to extract tax payments.  Or, perhaps, to let them know we’re going somewhere they’d rather we didn’t.  No, that they’re okay with.

Green Electric Cars may Track you.  And Strand You.

These electric cars are more trouble than they’re worth.  Invasions into our private lives.  And a justification for more taxes.  Like that ever elusive energy tax the government so wants to implement.  Because energy is everywhere in a modern society.  Well, almost everywhere (see Electric car charging points ‘shortfall’ by the BBC posted 5/8/2011 on the BBC News UK).

Only 704 of the 4,700 expected by the end of the year are in place and two-thirds of towns with a population of over 150,000 do not have any public charging infrastructure.

David Martell, of charging supplier Chargemaster, said the lack of points can be very stressful for drivers…

Mr Martell said many electric vehicle drivers suffer from “range anxiety”, which concerns their fear that they run the risk of running out of power due to a lack of charging points.

As if fearing Big Brother might catch us going somewhere ‘inappropriate’ (a casino, a lingerie/sex toy store, a Kentucky Fried Chicken, a Republican fundraiser, etc.) wasn’t enough, now we have to worry whether or not we’ll ever be able to make it back home when we venture out in our electric cars.  And what may happen to us if we don’t.  I don’t know about you, but that internal combustion engine is looking better and better all of the time.  It sure delivers the liberty enshrined in our Founding Documents.  Unlike that ‘police state’ green technology.

Green Energy adds to Electrical Demand while Reducing Electrical Supply

Range anxiety may not be our only anxiety.  Because with the move to green energy sources there’s a good chance that even if you find a charging point, it may not have any juice in it to recharge your battery (see Wind farms produced ‘practically no electricity’ during Britain’s cold snap by Rowena Mason posted 1/11/2010 on The Telegraph).

The cold weather has been accompanied by high pressure and a lack of wind, which meant that only 0.2pc of a possible 5pc of the UK’s energy was generated by wind turbines over the last few days.

Jeremy Nicholson, director of the Energy Intensive Users Group (EIUG), gave warning that this could turn into a crisis when the UK is reliant on 6,400 turbines accounting for a quarter of all UK electricity demand over the next 10 years.

He said the shortfall in power generated by wind during cold snaps seriously undermined the Government’s pledge on Friday to build nine major new wind “super farms” by 2020.

“If we had this 30 gigawatts of wind power, it wouldn’t have contributed anything of any significance this winter,” he said. “The current cold snap is a warning that our power generation and gas supplies are under strain and it is getting worse.”

This is from a January 2010 Telegraph article.  That’s not one winter ago.  That’s two winters ago.  They are well aware of this problem.  Yet they move forward building windmills.  And with plans to shut down safe, reliable coal-fired plants.  Because they’re too dirty. 

In an effort to save the planet it is the human race that constantly has to make concessions.  They’ll walk back our standard of living right back to the 18th century when there were no cars.  No internal combustion engines.  No electricity.  To a time when the earth was a happier, cleaner place.  Where human and horse feces covered the streets and sidewalks.  And famine was just a part of life.

Our Green Future:  Higher Electric Bills, Service Interruptions and Big Brother

We bought more fuel efficient cars to protect the planet even though we wanted those big SUVs.  Then even though we were driving those small cars and using less gas we were spending more money for gas.  So some of us spent more money for an electric car and drove less.  But because we did and bought less gas there may be a new mileage tax.  Calculated by a little black box in our cars.  That tracks where we go.  To be fair.  So everyone pays for the amount of roads they drive on.  Which will probably negate any cost savings made by moving into an electric car.

And if that wasn’t enough, there will have to be a huge investment to install an electric car charging infrastructure.  All paid for by the new mileage tax.  Probably.  Or maybe the gas tax.  Or some new tax.  And when we put this huge new demand on our aging electrical grid that we’re trying to make green, we’ll probably pay higher electrical bills.  Or suffer through service interruptions when the wind doesn’t blow.

Well, that’s about as cheerful a future as poor old Winston Smith had in Orwell’s 1984.  And if you’re interested in seeing what that future is, you can read the book.  Or see the movie.  You know, while you can.  Before they consider these too inappropriate for us.  Like the SUV.  Because Big Brother will soon be watching and judging what we do.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

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