Tag: renewable-energy

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.

Gassed Out

I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago about how awesome natural gas is as a source of energy. That doesn’t mean I’m fine with stuff like this:

In August 2011, the City Council of Boulder, Colorado, referred two ballot measures to voters. One authorized the city to take over (or “municipalize”) the privately owned utility that provides Boulder’s electricity. The second measure imposed a modest tax on ratepayers to finance the takeover and convert the utility from coal to natural gas.

The initiative passed. Amazingly, the Spectator portrays this as a good thing: that the citizens of Boulder, in the face of an “astroturf” campaign of a company trying to defend their interests, deprived their fellows citizens of their property rights (this isn’t an eminent domain issue; energy is a “public use”). Boulder is also pushing to go 90% renewable. We’ll see how that goes. Forbes warned a month ago that such efforts often massively underestimate the cost and technical problems connected with such municipalization schemes. You can’t just wave a magic wand and cause renewable energy to appear because you want it to.

We may see more of this in the future as the Left becomes more frustrated with their inability to foist “green” energy on us. And, of course, they’ll find some other industry to blame when these schemes completely fail.

More “green” magic!

Check green this nonsense out:

Oil companies will pay $6.8 million in fines for not meeting federal quotas for blending in cellulosic biofuels – those produced from grasses, wood and plants – even though there weren’t enough of those biofuels available for use, the New York Times reported. Those fines are likely to rise in 2012 because the cellulosic biofuel quotas that refiners have to meet will rise more than 30 percent to 8.65 million gallons.

Charles Drevna, the president of the National Petrochemicals and Refiners Association, said the imposition of the fines “belies logic,” while Dennis McGinn, a retired vice admiral who serves on the American Council on Renewable Energy, said that the quota “is the right thing to do” even if the imposition of the fines “doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense,” the Times reported. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) spokeswoman Cathy Milbourn said the 2012 quota was “reasonably attainable.” Hence the fines.

First off, let me point out that this insane article gets something seriously wrong: oil companies are not paying that $8.6 million fine, those of us that buy products from them – anyone that owns or rides a vehicle or lives somewhere that needs heat or cooling – are paying it. This idiotic notion that companies pay for anything needs to die an ugly death. It is always those of us that own their stock or use their services and products that are the ones being punished by fines like this. I should point out how obvious it now is that Obama meant it when he told us we would have to pay through the nose for any fossil fuels that his green donor buddies don’t like.

Now let’s discuss some serious watermelon logic that should make everyonethat is not insane do a double take. That Dennis McGinn fellow sums up to me the whole dysfunction of the green movement with his comment that even though government mandated additive doesn’t exist yet, he sure as hell feels the fines are awesome, despite the admission that he is quite aware that it smacks of serious stupidity to impose a fine for not using something that doesn’t exist. He gets what is going on here fine. So do I. Dennis, like all these watermelon crooks, just thinks anything that hurts oil companies and jacks up prices on consumers is, to use his own words, is “the right thing to do”. Logic or sense both be damned, unless the logic here is to price fossil fuels through gimmicks and government manipulation into being so expensive that this green shit suddenly looks semi-competitive. Now for the bullshit.

The fines illustrate the emphasis the federal government is putting on production of biofuels in an effort to cut dependency on foreign oil. Last month, the EPA said it boosted its 2012 goals for production of non-corn-based biofuels by about 36 percent. Specifically, the EPA increased its production goal for advanced biofuels, whose feedstocks range from sugarcane ethanol to algae, by 48 percent, while increasing its goal for cellulosic biofuels by 34 percent. Production of biomass-based biodiesel is set to rise 25 percent this year, according to the EPA.

Can you pack more idiotic lies in a paragraph than this? I am sure Obama will do that in his speech tonight, but come on! Watch this bio fuels emphasis produce the same result as the emphasis on ethanol has: less corn to feed both farm animals and people, resulting in those at the lowest economic rungs being stung the hardest by the cost increases lower supply caused. And it gets better. The EPA is making decisions on its own about these things that while stupid should be coming from congress, and of all things precisely because a previous decision to push corn based biofuels has had catastrophic consequences. Of course, I expect the usual idiots to tell me this unconstitutional overreach of power by the EPA is all fine and dandy because of the idiotic Clean Air act. I am sure rounding up people that are not buying this green shit and exterminating them can be rationalized and justified under the Clean Air act. After all, it’s for our own good!

Oh, wait! They have an act passed by congress?

Annual increases in the EPA’s renewable-fuel production guidelines are a response to the Renewable Fuel Standard 2 (RFS2) and 2007’s Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), which, in part, set a U.S. production goal of 36 billion annual gallons of renewable fuel by 2022.

This was right after Pelosi and her crew of pirates took over the House, wasn’t it? And this bill, a precursor to the “Cap and Tax” boondoggle that died a well deserved couple of years later, never gave the EPA any of the powers it now has abrogated to itself, despite what these communists greens pretend. The part that was most laughable came from the summary:

Taken together, these measures will save American consumers $400 billion, create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, and cut global warming pollution. The Energy Independence & Security Act represents a down-payment on Congress’ plan to move America forward, toward a more affordable, sustainable, and secure energy future.

What a crock of shit! Prices are going to go up, not down. That savings they promise was probably computed using the same idiotic math that they used to compute savings from Obamacare. And steps that would guarantee us definite energy independence – like getting our own oil & natural gas or making deals to procure oil and gas from friendly neighbors while building nukes –are no where mentioned in this boondoggle. No, this act was more of a precursor to give democrats a means to fuck over tax payers by giving billions of our dollars to questionable green industries that would not survive without both massive government subsidies and government imposed penalties against viable energy. The only thing guaranteed is that we will have less available energy and have to pay more for it. Where is my reach around, huh?

Solyndra update: WH doubled down.

The AP has this piece running today dealing with how the WH knew Solyndra was a disaster waiting to happen, and that when it happened, it was coming right around the 2012 election, too. While the AP article is not clear as to exactly when the WH figured out this company was a disaster waiting to happen – likely I feel, that because pointing out that they knew even before the loan was made, would be damning – it is clear that they knew Solyndra was in deep trouble before Obama went on stage in 2010 to tout them as the example of the success of the stimuluspatronage bill. Epic fail on both counts.

From an e-mail by WH budget official trying to red flag this disaster we get the following:

An email from a White House budget official to a co-worker discussed the likely effect of a default by Solyndra Inc. on President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.

“The optics of a Solyndra default will be bad,” an official from the Office of Management and Budget wrote in a Jan. 31 email to a senior OMB official. “The timing will likely coincide with the 2012 campaign season heating up.”

You think? But it gets better! Why was the e-mail sent? Well lets read on.

The email, released by the House Energy and Commerce Committee as part of its investigation into a half-billion dollar federal loan to Solyndra, said the budget official wanted White House budget director Jacob Lew to warn Energy Secretary Steven Chu about the risk posed by Solyndra, which was once the poster child for the Obama administration’s clean energy program but by early this year was teetering on collapse.

At the time of the email, the Energy Department was pushing to release an additional $67 million to Solyndra. The Fremont, Calif.-based solar panel maker received a total of $528 million in federal loans before declaring bankruptcy Aug. 31 and laying off 1,100 workers.

They where considering if they should give Solyndra another $67 million of tax payer money. Was that money part of the original allocated half a billion dollars, or was that money on top of that? If the first, then the money was given despite the terrible news, and on can not help but speculate that considering what they knew, if it was done hoping to prevent or postpone the inevitable? If it was new money, we obviously where spared that pain.

We also again get validation that people knew Solyndra was in trouble, but that the WH dismissed them:

At least three reports by federal watchdogs over the past two years warned that the Energy Department had not fully developed the controls needed to manage the multibillion-dollar loan program.

Emails obtained by The Associated Press show that a White House official dismissed reports about Solyndra’s gloomy future. An email from Greg Nelson, a White House official who had been involved in the planning of Obama’s May 2010 trip to Solyndra’s headquarters, to a Solyndra executive downplayed a July 2010 news story in a trade publication that criticized the company’s financial health.

Seems B.S.,” Nelson wrote.

A 2009 report by the Energy Department’s inspector general warned that the DOE lacked the necessary quality control for the loan guarantee program, which was created in 2005 to support clean-energy projects that could not obtain conventional bank loans due to high risks.

In July 2010, the Government Accountability Office said the Energy Department had bypassed required steps for funding awards to five of 10 applicants that received conditional loan guarantees.

Can we now stop pretending that not only did the people in the WH get told Solyndra was a dead beat company, but that they also where warned that they had no mechanism to make sure Solyndra used the money wisely and that the DOE had bypassed required steps in the process by the GAO (that’s fast tracking if you have a problem with English comprehension), but that then politics and ideology trumped common sense, here?

And lest there be any doubt that this was ideology trumping everything else, there is this tidbit:

The report did not publicly identify the companies that were not properly vetted, but congressional investigators say one of them was Solyndra. The company was the first to receive a loan guarantee after the program was expanded under the 2009 stimulus law.

Solyndra was not the only one that had their application process not thoroughly vetted. There is a pattern here. How many of these “other companies” that are not identified by the AP article had similar problems as Solyndra but still got money? How many more Solyndra-like failures are there in the near or not-so-near future? Why where these companies fastracked in the first place? Was it either desperation to produce something with all that stimulus cash being thrown around, or was it because of the political/ideological belief that green industry was the solution to all our ills? Me, I bet it was a little bit of both. And it get’s better!

The Obama administration is moving to finalize as many as 15 loan guarantees for renewable-energy companies before the stimulus program ends on Sept. 30. Republicans question whether that could lead to more loans to companies that fail like Solyndra.

Time will tell. One thing is for sure: this is damaging to Obama, the progressives and the green movement in general, and most of all to the tax payer which foots the bill for these ideologues and their crusades against evil fossil feul in the progressive government controlled battle to pick who wins and who loses. And while I suspect no laws where broken, it is obvious that this will haunt Obama and the left in 2012.