Tag: Energy economics

When even the science fs up your agenda…

I just recently had several discussions in the last week or so, with different people at different times, about energy and economic impacts of that energy’s availability and cost. I pointed out that people have spent the last 5 decades telling us we would be running out of fossil fuels in the next 3 or 4 decades, only to end up with scientific advances and human ingenuity raising the time we have at a curved use of the stuff from decades to centuries. Of course they all turned up their noses to what they consider to be Satan’s shit and wanted it replaced, but when asked by what, it was all pie-in-the-sky answers. For me, based purely and simply on the numbers and the science, the one viable technology that can produce energy in the amount we would need to replace fossil fuels, is nuclear. Nothing else can, but the people that want to get us green all seem to have bought into Hollywood’s depiction of how dangerous and nasty nuclear energy is. So instead they seem to propose we use the equivalent of unicorn farts as the alternative to oil, gas, and coal.

When we discussed these various alternatives the greens have a boner for and went through the list, one after the other fell off. Solar and wind have been terribly disappointing. We are not about to build giant space based solar arrays and beaming down the energy as microwaves any time soon, because the same green people would have heart attack at the potential use as a weapon. And we could cover the planet with windmills and it would still not produce enough power. So they always go to the renewables, of which far less is known, but far less is pretended can come, to justify the campaign to stop us from using fossil fuels. Of course, renewables have not really shown much other than promise at this time, but the greens have no doubt that this stuff will save their faltering agenda. And then there are the facts:

Two highly qualified Google engineers who have spent years studying and trying to improve renewable energy technology have stated quite bluntly that renewables will never permit the human race to cut CO2 emissions to the levels demanded by climate activists. Whatever the future holds, it is not a renewables-powered civilisation: such a thing is impossible.

Both men are Stanford PhDs, Ross Koningstein having trained in aerospace engineering and David Fork in applied physics. These aren’t guys who fiddle about with websites or data analytics or “technology” of that sort: they are real engineers who understand difficult maths and physics, and top-bracket even among that distinguished company. The duo were employed at Google on the RE<C project, which sought to enhance renewable technology to the point where it could produce energy more cheaply than coal.

REclosed it down after four years. Now, Koningstein and Fork have explained the conclusions they came to after a lengthy period of applying their considerable technological expertise to renewables, in an article posted at IEEE Spectrum.

The two men write:

At the start of RE<C, we had shared the attitude of many stalwart environmentalists: We felt that with steady improvements to today’s renewable energy technologies, our society could stave off catastrophic climate change. We now know that to be a false hope …

Renewable energy technologies simply won’t work; we need a fundamentally different approach.

One should note that RE<C didn’t restrict itself to conventional renewable ideas like solar PV, windfarms, tidal, hydro etc. It also looked extensively into more radical notions such as solar-thermal, geothermal, “self-assembling” wind towers and so on and so forth. There’s no get-out clause for renewables believers here.

Koningstein and Fork aren’t alone. Whenever somebody with a decent grasp of maths and physics looks into the idea of a fully renewables-powered civilised future for the human race with a reasonably open mind, they normally come to the conclusion that it simply isn’t feasible. Merely generating the relatively small proportion of our energy that we consume today in the form of electricity is already an insuperably difficult task for renewables: generating huge amounts more on top to carry out the tasks we do today using fossil-fuelled heat isn’t even vaguely plausible.

Even if one were to electrify all of transport, industry, heating and so on, so much renewable generation and balancing/storage equipment would be needed to power it that astronomical new requirements for steel, concrete, copper, glass, carbon fibre, neodymium, shipping and haulage etc etc would appear. All these things are made using mammoth amounts of energy: far from achieving massive energy savings, which most plans for a renewables future rely on implicitly, we would wind up needing far more energy, which would mean even more vast renewables farms – and even more materials and energy to make and maintain them and so on. The scale of the building would be like nothing ever attempted by the human race.

The funny thing is that you don’t need a PhD to figure this stuff out. And note they point out this stuff won’t work as marginal energy just to reduce emissions. The logical conclusion is that it hence will also never be a replacement. But the greens seem to be immune to the simple facts and science and far more interested in science fiction and fantasy because they are driven by something other than either. The watermelons pretend to be scientific, but the fact is there is very little of that and a lot of feelings and the overarching collectivist agenda, and very little of the former. So for now we are stuck with oil, gas, and coal. Maybe someone will find a way to make fusion work and that can fill in the gap, but the other stuff the greens pine for simply is not gonna happen. That won’t stop them from taking advantage of the plethora of fools that will allow a few of them to get stinking rich at tax payer’s expense.

How Not to Fight Global Warming

Following on Alex’s post about the booming energy sector, you should check out this report from Der Spiegel about the disaster that is Germany’s green energy sector:

For society as a whole, the costs have reached levels comparable only to the euro-zone bailouts. This year, German consumers will be forced to pay €20 billion ($26 billion) for electricity from solar, wind and biogas plants — electricity with a market price of just over €3 billion. Even the figure of €20 billion is disputable if you include all the unintended costs and collateral damage associated with the project. Solar panels and wind turbines at times generate huge amounts of electricity, and sometimes none at all. Depending on the weather and the time of day, the country can face absurd states of energy surplus or deficit.

If there is too much power coming from the grid, wind turbines have to be shut down. Nevertheless, consumers are still paying for the “phantom electricity” the turbines are theoretically generating. Occasionally, Germany has to pay fees to dump already subsidized green energy, creating what experts refer to as “negative electricity prices.”

On the other hand, when the wind suddenly stops blowing, and in particular during the cold season, supply becomes scarce. That’s when heavy oil and coal power plants have to be fired up to close the gap, which is why Germany’s energy producers in 2012 actually released more climate-damaging carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than in 2011.

Emphasis mine. New gas plants are able to cut greenhouse gas emission in half through better engineering and using gas instead of coal. But somehow, green energy is increasing greenhouse gas emissions (although that may partially be because Germany is foolishly phasing our nuclear power).

It actually gets worse. Big factories are being told to shut down when energy use exceeds capacity. Spiking energy prices and taxes are incredibly hard on poor Germans, with some 300,000 having the power shut off every year for delinquent bills. The soaring bills are mainly going into some 4,000 different subsidies that mainly go to affluent people who can afford to dabble in green energy.

I should point that Der Spiegel is not a conservative rag that opposes green energy. What they actually are suggesting is modeling Germany’s energy policy after Sweden’s, which abandoned micromanaging in favor of overall mandates on renewable energy. This has allowed Swedish energy interests to invest in whatever technology is most promising (mainly hydroelectric, but many greens don’t like hydro). For the US, a better policy might be a carbon tax, which attempt to fold in the environmental cost of CO2 into the cost of carbon energy and could be balanced by cutting or eliminating corporate income taxes. But however you look at it, the system of micro-management and subsidies is a disaster.

Long term, the only solution to global warming is technological innovation. The current version of solar and wind are not up to replacing fossil fuels. The energy grid is not efficient enough. And there is no way of storing energy effectively. Here’s a question: will German businesses and universities make big breakthroughs in dark rooms? Will they make them when their industry can’t run because there is no power? Will they do it through a maze of red tape, subsidies and mandates?

The good news is that we have time to back away from this foolishness. The latest data show that global warming has slowed, as it did in the 1960’s and 1970’s, and climate sensitivity may have been overestimated. We have a lot more time to deal with this than we thought — decades more. That means we don’t have to break our civilization on the alter of wind turbines to stop global warming NOW RIGHT NOW. We have time to unshackle industry, fund basic research and make the true breakthroughs that will give our economy the same boost 20 years from now that fracking and shale are giving it now.

Benefits of brown energy are yet to come

So says IHS’s report on the economic impact shale which has tallied up the benefits coming from shale oil & gas exploration & extraction.

In their latest report on the economic benefits of the shale revolution, the global research firm IHS makes a number of encouraging findings. IHS estimates that the unconventional oil and gas value chain already supports over two million jobs, is responsible for $1,200 in average additional net income per household and is contributing nearly $300 billion to GDP. The most promising finding for manufacturers is that the best is yet to come. Looking at just one manufacturing sector, the chemical manufacturing sector, capital investments in new plants and expansion at existing plants is expected to more than triple in just four years.

These estimates are not theoretical; they are largely based on real projects that are already under development, some of which are identified in the report. Similar growth is expected in several manufacturing sectors, which collectively will drive more production, create more jobs and further fuel the economy.

Of course, the Gaia worshippers want nothing to do with this real economic boon, and keep pretending that the heavily subsidized and failure prone green energy sector is where all the good stuff is. Dreams are just that: dreams. As I told some leftard that kept telling me he wished the green energy sector would show how great it was already earlier today: shit in one hand and keep making that idiotic wish in the other, and see which one fills up first.

High energy prices are “the” policy?

Well, so says this NR post, which makes the case that the Obama WH has purposefully engaged in an agenda to cause higher energy prices when it failed to get “Cap & Tax” forced through congress to push its “green” energy agenda:

A new report from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform details a disturbing “pattern of evidence” indicating that not only are the Obama administration’s energy policies responsible for higher oil and gas prices, but that the administration’s energy policy, in fact, is higher gas prices.

The report’s findings are the result of an extensive committee review of public records, policy analysis, statements and e-mails from administration officials, and reveal “a pattern of actions [that] shows the Administration is, in fact, pursuing an agenda to raise the price Americans pay for energy,” according to a copy of the report obtained by National Review Online.

“What President Obama failed to accomplish through the so-called ‘cap and trade’ program, his administration is attempting to accomplish through regulatory roadblocks, energy tax increases, and other targeted efforts to prohibit development of domestic energy resources,” the report concludes.

Energy prices are currently artificially high, despite the fact that we are still in a recession that the Obama administrations seems to be doing its best to drag on as long as possible, and while the WH and the democrats have made a concerted effort to blame everyone but themselves, this House committee points out that the WH itself has obviously been creating the artificial shortage to drive up prices. Pretty ugly stuff:

According to the report, the administration’s “concerted campaign” to keep energy prices high extends “across government agencies” and constitutes a complete disregard for governmental transparency, much less the pocketbooks of all of those affected by the increased cost of energy. “An effort to intentionally raise the costs of traditional energy sources is a dangerous strategy that will harm economic recovery and job growth,” the report asserts. “If past statements of key administration officials are indeed reflections of the policies they are pursuing, this strategy is playing a quiet but significant role in the higher energy prices Americans are currently paying.”

Its obvious that as long as our energy policy is to make it as hard as possible to get real energy of any kind to push this green mendacity the left hopes will make so many of them rich, that the prices of energy will stay high. The next time you hear one of the scumbags tell you how the oil companies or the traders are screwing us, remember that it is the policy to prevent us from getting our own resources that’s doing the most to push prices up. At this point I think the WH even feels their aids in the MSM will deflect the blame with enough effect to avoid hurting them at the polls in the next election, which in terms of new energy generation is very close, because they seem unwilling to really do more than talk.

The next time you pay an arm and a leg at the pump, or when you sign a new heating oil contract that makes you feel like you are yanking out a kidney with a butter knife, remember why this stuff is really so expensive.