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US Energy Policy

US Energy Policy

Energy Policy

The incandescent lightbulb is now outlawed.[1]  This fact is a perfect metaphor for “energy policy.”  Should it be illegal in the United States to manufacture, sell, buy, and use a traditional incandescent light bulb?  Your informed answer to that question will provide deep insight into your views on hundreds of other energy policy questions.   (BTW, my answer is no, but I bet you guessed that.)

Energy is the lifeblood of our economy; it touches your life in a hundred ways each day.  Yet energy policy--the set of government rules and regulations that prescribe how energy is produced, delivered, and consumed--is a complex and even a chaotic subject.

Energy was an uninteresting subject for the average person prior to the OPEC Oil Embargo in 1973.  Oil prices had been stable at about $20 a barrel in real terms for nearly a century and electricity prices had declined from about 22 cents per kilowatt to about 13 cents from 1960 to 1973, even as consumption of electricity quadrupled from 1950 to 1973, as more and more homes and appliances used electricity and utilities became better at building large coal and nuclear plants.

But the OPEC Embargo changed everything about energy and energy policy.  Four points will illustrate this importance. 

  • President Jimmy Carter’s presidency (1976 to 1980) was dominated by energy issues which he characterized as the “moral equivalent of war.” 
  • A little more than two decades later a California governor was recalled because he botched an electricity crisis in California and Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected Governor. 
  • There is a widespread perception that the US has gone to war in the Middle East over oil issues.
  • The Pope of all people has recently declared war on climate change, most of which is laid at the feet of fossil energy.

Part of the complication in energy policy is that it must be addressed on many fronts; international, national, State, and local governments all have a role in stirring the pot. 

Many books and articles are written on very specific aspects of energy policy but most are written for other experts.  Surprisingly, few are written that cover the broad landscape of energy policy.  Even fewer of these writings take a strong market-oriented perspective; the vast majority take an interventionist approach largely for environmental and oil import reasons.  And none that I have found are addressed to the pro-market political activist who has a real job during the day and then tries to save the country in his or her spare time.  This discussion is for that heroic citizen, The Forgotten Man.

So what’s the bottom line on energy policy? 

  • First, we make energy policy much more difficult than it has to be.  Energy is a commodity just like wheat or cars or hamburgers.  Mostly, we rely on competitive markets in each of these other commodity industries to make sure that we have an adequate supply to meet the consumers’ needs at reasonable prices.  But we treat energy differently.  I venture to guess that there are only a few industries more affected by government intervention than energy.  Why is that?  Does that mean we benefit from that intervention?  Is there a better way?  The article explores these questions.
  • Second, right now energy policy is being driven by climate change.  Even if one is sympathetic to some of the claims made about climate change, many stupid actions are being taken in its name that has profoundly negative effects on energy markets. 
  • Third, oil issues get the most attention but we do not face any real danger in oil markets.  Oil trades in global markets and while there may be price fluctuations (as I write, oil is about $35 a barrel, having been over $100 in the recent past), we will never face a situation where we run out of oil.  Most countries with plentiful oil have built their economies on oil revenue and the recent drop in oil prices has created serious political problems for these countries.  They simply can’t afford not to produce oil.  But problems in oil markets can result in unnecessarily higher prices and thus we need to pay some attention to them in order to promote prosperity. 
  • Fourth and most important, electricity faces real problems that could result in catastrophic failure of the system, thus threatening not only prosperity but human life.  The major framework for electric policy was set in 1935.  That framework worked fine up to the OPEC Embargo.  Electricity can compete against oil and natural gas in many applications.  Thus adjustments were necessary to the historical framework after the Embargo.  But policymakers have only nibbled at the edges of electricity policy and have not fundamentally changed the 1935 framework.  Yet little more than additional tinkering is being done to promote an electricity industry for the 21st Century.  Many special interests are pushing and pulling on the antiquated framework for personal gain but few are fundamentally committed to a complete rethinking of the role of the electric system of the future, especially given the increasing digitalization of our economy.  And as noted above, unsound policies on climate change make electric issues even more difficult.


[1] This is a good place to make a point.  Some pointy headed academics will disagree with even this first sentence.  Technically, Congress did not “ban” incandescent bulbs in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.  Rather, they set a standard that most, if not all, traditional incandescent bulbs could not achieve and established a schedule for light bulbs of different wattages to meet this standard.  So it is fair to say that Congress outlawed incandescent bulbs.  But since the accompanying Article is a synthesis of the broad topic of “energy policy” it would needlessly clutter and complicate the text to be “technically” accurate in every instance.  The size of the document would need to double and the reader would understand less of the essence of energy policy if I did not make some broad generalizations.  Nonetheless, I am sure I will receive some criticism that many of my statements are not “technically correct.”  I hope that making this point early in the article will allow for a better understanding of the content of the Article.

 

Highlighted Article: A Coal Exit Treaty Can Radically Simplify and Accelerate Climate Policy

  • 9/30/21 at 07:00 AM

 

From: The Honest Broker Newsletter

By: Roger Pielke Jr.

Date: September 20, 2021

 

A Coal Exit Treaty Can Radically Simplify and Accelerate Climate Policy

 

"A focus on eliminating coal power offers a much more pragmatic approach to deep decarbonization

While there are encouraging signs that the global emissions of carbon dioxide have plateaued, achieving deep decarbonization of the global economy remains a massive challenge. In this post I’ll propose a complementary approach to climate policy that is far more pragmatic than the current architecture of global climate policy.

For decades, climate policy has focused on managing outcomes, which at various times have included the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases and more recently, global average surface temperatures. Such outcomes are useful for setting goals – like the well-known 2 degree Celsius temperature target -- but are poor choices for management, because such outcomes can only be indirectly managed. Policy typically works better when focused on managing causes rather than consequences.

Climate policy, broadly conceived, includes an incredible array of issues touching upon just about every facet of policy making, but here I focus on a narrow but important element of climate policy, the emission of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels. Here the math is incredibly simple: if the temperature targets of the Paris agreement are to be reached, then carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels necessarily ..."

 

A Coal Exit Treaty Can Radically Simplify and Accelerate Climate Policy

 

Tags: Highlighted Article

Pieces of a Plan

"A goal without a plan is just a wish." – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The Biden Administration has yet to release a plan to reach its stated CO2 emission reduction goals for 2030, 2035 and 2050. However, the Administration has taken several apparently disjointed actions which provide some hint of what the plan will involve. These actions present the potential of a very inconvenient and dangerous energy future for the US.

Intermittent renewable generation provided approximately 10.7% of US electricity generated for all uses in 2020. The Administration’s stated goal is to achieve 100% clean electricity by 2035, or within 13.3 years. The US currently has 1,117,475 MW of generating capacity, of which 66%, or 737,534 MW is fossil fueled and would need to be replaced by clean generators, primarily wind and solar. Assuming that the current shares of solar (~20%) and wind (~80%) continue into the future, total new intermittent renewable generating capacity of approximately 2,000,000 MW would be required to replace the entire fossil fuel generating fleet.

Wind turbines would constitute approximately 80% of the new generating capacity, requiring installation of 1,475,000 MW of wind turbine generating capacity. This would require production and installation of approximately 500,000 onshore 2 MW wind turbines, approximately 100,000 offshore 14 MW wind turbines, or some combination thereof. Solar PV collectors would constitute approximately 20% of the new generating capacity, requiring installation of approximately 590,000 MW of solar generating capacity, or approximately 1,475,000,000 solar collectors of 400W capacity. Note that these calculations are based on current electricity demand and consumption and make no allowances for the additional demand and consumption which would result from conversion to electric vehicles and the replacement of residential and commercial natural gas, propane and oil fueled appliances and equipment, most of which would likely occur after 2035.

The Administration has proclaimed that this transition would result in creation of millions of high paying union jobs, which implies that the production of the wind turbines and solar collectors would occur in the US. This would require preparation of numerous environmental impact statements by potential generation developers, review and approval of those impact statements by federal and state regulators and the issuance of building permits by federal and state authorities. This is currently a long, difficult and expensive process which could extend to, and likely beyond, 2025. This would also require the design, construction and commissioning of manufacturing facilities for the wind turbines and solar collectors, which could also extend to, and likely beyond, 2025.

Assuming such a schedule, achieving the Administration goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035 would require production and installation of approximately 100 wind turbines and approximately 400,000 solar collector panels per day. Also, each MW of generating capacity would require installation of 2-4 MW of grid-scale storage capacity to support the grid during multi-day periods of little or no generation due to weather conditions.

The scale of this effort might require the return of “Rosie the Riveter”. However, at this time, it all remains a wish.

 

Tags: CO2 Emissions, Renewable Energy, Wind Energy, Solar Energy

Curiouser and Curiouser

Strange decisions are being made by numerous global governments which have committed under the Paris Accords to reduce CO2 emissions in an effort to limit the increase in the global average temperature anomaly to 1.5°C.

China is building numerous new coal-fired electric generating stations and plans to build numerous additional coal-fired generating stations. China is also funding construction of new coal-fired generating stations in numerous other countries in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa under its “Belt and Roads’ program. These new coal-fired generating stations would be expected to have useful lives of 40-60 years, suggesting either that they will continue to operate beyond the “Net Zero by 2050” timeframe or that their operation will be discontinued before the end of their useful lives, resulting in very large deadweight losses. Operation of these new coal-fired generating stations will obviously increase annual CO2 emissions, even if they are offset, in part, by emissions reductions achieved by other nations.

Russia is proceeding with construction of the Nordstream 2 natural gas pipeline, with the support and encouragement of the Western European nations which will be its customers, rather than replacing existing fossil energy consumption with renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar.

Several nations in western Europe are proceeding with plans to discontinue operation of their existing nuclear electric generating capacity, though many of those plants have not reached the end of their useful lives and the early closings will result in massive deadweight losses. This issue has the greatest potential impact in France and Germany, which have been heavily reliant on nuclear generation.

Numerous nations are encouraging a transition from gasoline and diesel vehicles to electric vehicles, though this transition would place additional pressure on electric generating systems already struggling to deal with the impacts of increasing intermittent wind and solar generation and the loss of baseload and load following generation capacity.

The actions announced by the US might perhaps be the most curious. The US Administration has committed to Net Zero electric generation by 2035. Numerous states are requiring the closure of nuclear generators, several of which have not reached the end of their useful lives. The Administration recognizes that the transition to solar and wind generation and to electric vehicles would require vast amounts of rare earth minerals but has announced that the mining of these minerals will not occur in the US, leaving the US dependent on other nations, primarily China, for these materials. The decision not to mine in the US also reduces the opportunities for the creation of “high paying union jobs” for miners displaced from high paying union jobs in the coal mining industry.

The US Administration also intends to incentivize installation of 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations and announced that these charging stations would be installed preferentially in disadvantaged and rural areas, even though these areas are not where electric vehicles are being purchased and operated, or where their owners would likely choose to go to charge them.

The US Administration has apparently decided to adopt the approach of starving markets of fossil fuels to force adoption of electric end use appliances and equipment, assuming that renewable electric supply will grow rapidly enough to meet the increased demand and consumption.

What could possibly go wrong with that scenario?

 

Tags: Nuclear Power, Net Zero Emissions, Developing Nations Power

Electric Energy Storage

The operation of the electric grid requires continuous balance between supply and demand. Electric demand fluctuates throughout the day and these fluctuations are significantly different between weekdays and weekend days. Electric powerplant outputs are adjusted as required to match demand. The recent addition of limited grid scale electric storage facilities assists the grid operators in responding to demand fluctuations. However, these storage facilities are primarily intended to assist grid operators in responding to supply fluctuations resulting from the intermittent nature of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, whose outputs can change very rapidly.

The principal tool of grid supply management is the natural gas combined cycle powerplant, since its output can be adjusted rapidly over a broad range. However, as the percentage of renewable generation feeding the grid increases and the percentage of fossil fueled generation decreases to reduce CO2 emissions, the availability of demand-responsive fossil fuel generation to match the expected rapid changes in renewable supply would decrease.

The intended replacement for demand-responsive generation is grid-scale storage. This storage would be configured to meet short term fluctuations in renewable generator output, intermediate term reductions resulting from multi-hour periods of overcast skies or still air conditions, overnight periods of zero solar generation and even multi-day periods when either solar or wind or both are unavailable or dramatically reduced.

The ability to use grid-scale storage to supplement renewable generation is dependent upon the availability of surplus renewable generation to charge and maintain the storage batteries as well as to compensate for the losses which occur during battery charging and discharging. The capacity of the storage system is a function of the percentage of renewable generation supplying the grid, the number of days during which there might be low or non-existent renewable generation and of the capacity factor of the renewable generation fleet.

The 30 GW offshore wind generation target established by the Biden Administration for 2030 can be used to illustrate this issue. The generators to be deployed to meet this target were assumed in the previous commentary to have a 60% capacity factor. This would be achieved over a range of possible operating scenarios from 100% capacity operation 60% of the time to 60% capacity operation 100% of the time. In the case of 100% capacity operation 60% of the time, approximately 40% of the power generated would have to be stored for use during the 40% of the time the generators were not producing power. In the case of operation at 60% capacity 100% of the time, storage requirements would be reduced, with the reduction determined primarily by the demand curves of the served customers.

Onshore wind generation has a lower capacity factor, which peaks at 40-45% in the best locations and would decrease as additional generators were installed in sub-optimal locations. Solar generators have an even lower capacity factor, which peaks at approximately 30% in optimal locations. As the capacity factor of the renewable generator fleet declines, the storage capacity required to supply grid demand during periods of low or no renewable generation increases, as does the renewable generator capacity required to meet current grid demand while providing sufficient additional generation to recharge the battery storage.

 

Tags: Electric Power Storage, Electric Power Generation

Tracking Climate Progress

The Biden Administration has established targets of reducing US GHG emissions by 50-52% by 2030 and achieving net zero emissions from the electricity sector by 2035. The Administration has not yet publicized a plan to achieve these targets.

Roger Pielke, Jr. recently proposed a simple, intuitive method for tracking climate policy progress which focuses on the required reduction in the number of fossil fueled electric generation plants in the US. The graph below illustrates a linear path to closing fossil fueled generating plants to achieve net zero emissions from the sector by 2035.

 

The Path to Net-Zero Carbon Dioxide from Electricity in the United States by 2035

 

While Pielke’s method is indeed simple and intuitive, it is clearly unrealistic to assume that such a linear reduction in US fossil fueled generating plants could begin immediately, or even in the near future, if electric grid reliability is to be maintained.

The Administration’s stated intent is that the solar and wind generation equipment used to repower the US electric grid would be fabricated from US materials in the US, creating union jobs. The US does not currently have the production capacity to manufacture solar collectors and wind turbines in the quantities necessary to achieve the Administration’s stated targets on the announced schedule. Therefore, additional production capacity would have to be designed, permitted, constructed and commissioned if the schedule is to be met. This would require significant time, even if the government acted to hasten regulatory approvals.
 
Operating this new production capacity would increase electric consumption and fossil fuel consumption in the short term, requiring continued operation of existing generating capacity at higher levels of output, until sufficient incremental solar and wind generation equipment had been fabricated, sited, installed, connected to the electric grid and placed in service to provide the incremental power requirements of this new production capacity.

The intermittent nature of solar and wind generation requires supplemental power to support and stabilize the electric grid when solar or wind generation is unavailable. This supplemental power is currently supplied by the existing fossil fueled, nuclear, hydro and geothermal generating capacity. However, net zero operation would require replacing the fossil fueled portion of this capacity with either additional nuclear, hydro or geothermal generating capacity or grid-scale battery storage.

Grid-scale battery storage technology is not yet as mature as either solar or wind technology and the costs of this storage capacity are not yet commercially viable. Early storage technology forcing could dramatically increase the cost of the transition to renewables. Therefore, grid-scale battery storage capacity would probably lag increased solar and wind capacity by several years, until storage economics improve.

Once sufficient non-fossil generating capacity and battery storage capacity have been permitted, sited, constructed and commissioned existing fossil generating capacity could be retired at the rate of approximately 1 gigawatt of rating plate fossil generating capacity per 4 gigawatts of rating plate solar generating capacity or 3 gigawatts of wind generating capacity. The availability of sufficient conventional generating capacity to support and stabilize the grid during periods of low renewable generation would reduce these rating plate capacity ratios. However, reliance on a greater fraction of battery storage would require increased renewable rating plate capacity to compensate for the inefficiency of the battery storage systems.

These considerations suggest that the number of conventional powerplants would remain relatively stable for the first several years, then decline more sharply than envisioned by Dr. Pielke in the graph above. The remaining coal fired generators would be expected to be shutdown first as their CO2 emissions per gigawatt are higher than for combined-cycle natural gas plants and they are less able to respond the fluctuating supply and demand on the grid.

 

Tags: CO2 Emissions, Electric Power Storage

Highlighted Article: The Green Energy Agenda vs. Long Run Strategic Planning

  • 6/24/21 at 03:00 AM

 

From: Master Resource

By: Robert Bradley Jr.

Date: June 8, 2021

 

The Green Energy Agenda vs. Long Run Strategic Planning

 

“All of this data leads us back to the question, can we spend trillions of dollars in support of a political-motivated soundbite that may or may not produce a net loss of carbon emissions and/or may not be feasible given the known quantities of minerals needed?”

“… the vast majority of the 195 countries cannot afford any of the Green movement. Do we print a few extra trillion dollars to bankroll them into Green compliance?”

 

"President Biden has set goals for the U.S. to “Achieve 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2035″, “Net-zero emissions by 2050,” and “Cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030”.  Additionally, the party in power is pushing to have a majority of US-manufactured cars be electric by 2030 and every car on the road to be electric by 2040.

In total that says to we-the-people: shut down the coal/oil/gas-fired electric producing plants and drive electric cars.

Are we to believe those statements/directives in any way represent the results of an all-inclusive long-range strategic plan (LRSP)? No; not only no, but hell no, not even close." ...

 

The Green Energy Agenda vs. Long Run Strategic Planning

 

Tags: Highlighted Article

Highlighted Article: The Sad Truth About Traditional Environmentalism

  • 6/17/21 at 03:00 AM

 

From: Quillette

By: Zion Lights

Date: May 31, 2021

 

The Sad Truth About Traditional Environmentalism

 

"What if you’d dedicated most of your life to trying to save the planet, but then you realised that you may have actually—potentially—made things worse?

Over the last few years this has become one of my main concerns. I’ve been active in various green groups for over a decade, from setting up the first green society at my university and getting them to switch to renewable energy 15 years ago, to being one of the leading spokespeople for Extinction Rebellion as recently as last year.

Through writing, public speaking, and taking direct action (I was arrested multiple times for climate action in the early 2000s), I have done everything in my power to fight to bring down global greenhouse gas emissions. And I have come to the stark realisation that nothing I have done has worked. Worse, emissions have continued to rise despite public concern for the environment (in the UK at least) being as high as it has ever been.

Something has gone wrong.

Many people do care about the" ...

 

The Sad Truth About Traditional Environmentalism

 

Tags: Highlighted Article

Goals Without Plans

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”, Antoine de Saint-Exupery

The Biden Administration has produced a new US INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) after rejoining the Paris Accords. The new INDC roughly doubles the “ambition” of the previous INDC offered by the Obama Administration, calling for a 50% reduction in US CO2 emissions relative to 2005 by 2030 and achievement of net zero emissions by 2050. Even though this new INDC has not satisfied some environmental activist groups, it is still a major expansion of the US commitment. However, the Paris Accords are not a treaty from the US perspective and likely will not be for the foreseeable future, since Senate ratification would be highly unlikely.

The Administration has discussed several areas of focus for its efforts, including eliminating CO2 emissions from the electric sector by 2035, incentivizing installation of 500,000 EV charging stations, converting the US school bus fleet to EVs, weatherizing large numbers of housing units, making rail travel as fast as air travel, and ultimately achieving net zero emissions by 2050 The Administration’s stated intent is to accomplish all of these objectives using equipment produced in the US, largely by union labor.

Shutting down the 70% of US electric generation powered by fossil fuels over a 14-year period while maintaining a reliable electric grid and providing the power required for the production of the necessary wind turbines and solar panels to replace that generation plus the electric storage facilities required to maintain reliable grid function during periods when wind and solar are unavailable will require careful coordination. The plan for this effort has not been made public and its current state of development is unknown. The incentives to be provided are also undefined.

The proposed locations and installation schedule for the EV charging stations are not yet public, nor is the proposed incentive schedule. The future incentives for electric vehicle purchases are also currently undefined. Two states have now elected to halt sale of new fossil fuel vehicles in 2035, which will force the schedule in those states, causing most vehicles to “age out” before 2050. It is unclear whether the Administration will follow this pattern or continue to move the market with incentives, or both.

The approach to converting the US school bus fleet and the schedule are not yet public. The Administration has the option of requiring all new school bus purchases be EVs after some date certain, since all school buses would “age out” before 2050, though the intent might be to accelerate the transition by mandating and incentivizing conversion of existing buses.

The technology for high speed electric rail exists, though only a few localized systems exist in the US and none approach the speed necessary to match point-to-point air flight times. A Japanese manufacturer has demonstrated a prototype magnetic levitation train capable of achieving 374 miles per hour, though the first commercial service is not scheduled until 2027.

Fully upgrading residential dwellings for improved energy efficiency and all electric operation is estimated to cost approximately $50,000 per dwelling unit. There is no definition of the Administration approach to selecting dwellings to be upgraded or the approach to assuring that the upgrades occur and are effective.

 

Tags: Climate Policy, CO2 Emissions, Electric Power Generation

Technology Forcing – 2050

Technology forcing is a regulatory strategy that establishes currently unachievable and uneconomic performance standards to be met at some future point in time. ... Basically, technology forcing sets regulatory standards and provides incentives for achieving the standards or disincentives for not achieving them.”

The Administration’s more ambitious INDC targets net zero CO2 emissions from all sectors of the US economy by 2050 would require the replacement of all existing residential and commercial end uses of coal, oil, natural gas, propane and other combustible hydrocarbon gases by electricity or biofuels.

In the residential and commercial markets, all oil and gas furnaces, boilers and water heaters would be required to be replaced with electric equipment, as would all fossil-fueled ranges, ovens, laundry dryers and outdoor grills. Emergency generators would be replaced by biofuel generators. A ban on the sale of fossil-fueled appliances and equipment effective in 2030 would likely result in “aging out” all existing equipment by 2050.

In the industrial markets, all production equipment and processes would also have to be replaced by electric alternatives, where possible. At present, there are numerous industrial processes for which no electric alternatives exist, for example in iron, steel and cement production. These processes would require application of equipment level carbon capture and storage (CCS) or equivalent CO2 removal from the atmosphere. CCS is not currently economically viable even at multi-megawatt scale. CO2 removal from the atmosphere is not available, no less economical, at any scale. Emergency generators would be replaced by biofuel generators while on-site generation might be provided by modular nuclear generators.

The transportation market would require comprehensive electrification or offsets provided by CO2 removal from the atmosphere. Electric vehicles are currently available for personal and light commercial applications, but are not economical and require significant incentives to support the market. Their higher cost is largely the result of the cost of the batteries required to provide acceptable vehicle operating range. Vehicle range is currently limited, restricting their use to local travel and commuting. This is coupled with limited availability of vehicle charging stations, which results in “range anxiety” and reduces vehicle appeal.

Electric buses are available for a variety of uses, but are also subject to battery-based range limitations. The Administration is currently focusing on school bus conversions, since school buses have more limited range requirements than transit buses and can conveniently be recharged between morning and afternoon operating schedules. The Administration plans to provide significant incentive funding for these school bus conversions.

Trucks large enough to require their operators to have commercial drivers’ licenses are not currently available with electric drive trains. The largest of these vehicles typically have operational weight restrictions and their net carrying capacity would be reduced by the incremental weight of the large battery systems required to provided needed range.

The application of electric motor drive in the railroad industry has a long history for passenger rail, though not for the far higher demand freight rail segment. Biofuel operation is also a possibility for freight rail.

Finally, aircraft would either require biofuels or offsetting CO2 removal from the atmosphere.

Note that the various potential applications of biofuels would require a major expansion of biofuel production, as well as the land area dedicated to the growing of the biofuel feedstocks. Note also that the various potential applications of electricity to replace fossil fuels would require major expansion of existing US generation, transmission and distribution capacity, as well as the installation of massive grid-scale electricity storage to compensate for the intermittent nature of solar and wind generation.

 

Tags: Climate Policy, CO2 Emissions, Efficiency Standards

Highlighted Article: The U.S. Will Need a Lot of Land for a Zero-Carbon Economy

  • 5/27/21 at 03:00 AM

 

From: Bloomberg Green

By: Dave Merrill

Date: April 29, 2021

 

The U.S. Will Need a Lot of Land for a Zero-Carbon Economy

 

"At his international climate summit last week, President Joe Biden vowed to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030. The goal will require sweeping changes in the power generation, transportation and manufacturing sectors. It will also require a tremendous amount of land.

Wind farms, solar installations and other forms of clean power take up far more space on a per-watt basis than their fossil-fuel-burning brethren. A 200-megawatt wind farm, for instance, might require spreading turbines over 19 square miles (49 square kilometres). A natural-gas power plant with that same generating capacity could fit onto a single city block.

Achieving Biden’s goal will require aggressively building more wind and solar farms, in many cases combined with giant batteries. To fulfill his vision of an emission-free grid by 2035, the U.S. needs to increase its carbon-free capacity by at least 150%. Expanding wind and solar by 10% annually until 2030 would require a chunk of land equal to the state of South Dakota, according to Bloomberg and Princeton University estimates. By 2050, when Biden wants the entire economy to be carbon free, the U.S. will need up to four additional South Dakotas to develop enough clean power to run all the electric vehicles, factories and more." ...

 

The U.S. Will Need a Lot of Land for a Zero-Carbon Economy

 

Tags: Highlighted Article

Technology Forcing

Technology forcing is a regulatory strategy that establishes currently unachievable and uneconomic performance standards to be met at some future point in time. ... Basically, technology forcing sets regulatory standards and provides incentives for achieving the standards or disincentives for not achieving them.”

The recent changes in the US INDC in response to the Paris Accords commit to elimination of CO2 emissions from electric generation by 2035 and net zero CO2 emissions from all sectors of the US economy by 2050. These commitments and the legislative and regulatory actions which must flow from them are clearly technology forcing in that they will require both uneconomic decisions and the implementation of technologies which are either unavailable or uneconomic. The US “electrify everything” approach is the extreme case of government picking winners and losers, which in the past has not been a notable government skill.

Roger Pielke, Jr. has suggested a simple method for tracking progress toward the Administration’s 2035 target for electric generation emissions. His method identifies the need to close an average of 11 coal and natural gas generating stations each month, beginning immediately. Forcing the closing of “used and useful” generators before the end of their economic life is certainly uneconomic in that it results in a dead weight loss. Closing the generators is “easy”, though it might well become legally contentious.

Replacing the fossil generating capacity with renewable generating and storage capacity would not be “easy”, nor would it be economic since it would require financial and operational incentives. These renewable incentives would also disadvantage the remaining fossil generating fleet, as has already been the case when renewable generation has been installed. Financial incentives reduce the cost of renewable power and environmental dispatch provides delivery preferences for the renewable power, reducing demand for and consumption of fossil-generated power.

Siting of power generation and transmission facilities has become a long and difficult process as the result of requirements for environmental impact statements, protracted environmental and regulatory review and lawsuits filed by affected parties attempting to prevent the installation of the generation and transmission facilities. Maintaining the schedule required to achieve net zero electric generation emissions by 2035 would require immediate action to site and permit facilities. It would also likely require federal pre-emption and massive streamlining of the approval processes.

The Administration’s commitment to source the required generation and transmission equipment from within the US would require massive increases in wind turbine and solar collector manufacturing capacity, as well as massive increases in the production of the steel for the turbine unipoles and the support structures for the solar collectors and of the cement required for the concrete used to support the unipoles and solar collector mounting structures. The energy requirements for the steel and cement production would result in increases in US CO2 emissions before the new renewable generation could begin to displace existing fossil generation.

Achieving the Administration’s commitments, if even possible, would require a level of effort reminiscent of “Rosie the Riveter”

 

Tags: Climate Policy, CO2 Emissions, Efficiency Standards

On-site Generation

On-site power generation was common in the mid-20th century for large power users with the need for high reliability power supply. These users included industrial plants running continuous processes, plants with large steam consumption, and institutions such as asylums, prisons and hospitals required to have on-site generation in the event of a grid outage. These on-site generation facilities were typically either coal or oil fueled, depending on geographic location and the existence of other coal or oil end uses at the site.

Many of these generating facilities were closed later in the century as grid capacity and reliability increased and the need for on-site generation became less critical and emissions regulations more damanding. On-site generation is now making a comeback, using natural gas simple cycle turbines with heat recovery systems or high efficiency natural gas combined-cycle turbines.

Hospitals and some other institutions are required to have on-site power with either high priority natural gas supply contracts or on-site propane or diesel fuel storage adequate to continue operations for some number of days.

These classes of electricity customers will face new and growing challenges as federal programs require the electric grid and its suppliers to shift to non-fossil sources of power generation, most of which (solar, wind) are intermittent and non-dispatchable. Grid reliability is expected to suffer, as has been demonstrated in California and Texas. The grid operators currently stabilize power supply with hydro, geothermal, natural gas, coal and nuclear generation. However, the fossil fuel generators would be unacceptable after 2035 under the current Administration climate plan, unless equipped with carbon capture and storage (CCS) capability or converted to biofuel operation.

Grid operators are investigating the potential of battery storage to stabilize the grid. However, the current cost of grid-scale battery storage is extremely high and the availability of the required batteries is extremely limited.

The challenges for facilities required to possess on-site generation capability, either for continuous or emergency use, are more complicated. Very few of these facilities are large enough to economically continue to use fossil generation with CCS. They could conceivably be granted waivers to continue to operate fossil-fueled generators until the net zero requirement proposed for 2050. Beyond that, their choices would be limited to biofuel generators, on-site battery storage or on-site packaged nuclear power plants.

Many small to medium sized commercial establishments and many single and multi-family residences are currently equipped with automatic standby generators, typically fueled by natural gas, propane or diesel. Biofuels would currently appear to be the only alternative for these smaller users after 2050.

Net zero would also require replacement of all fossil-fueled thermal end use equipment with electric end equipment for applications such as space and water heating, cooking and baking, laundry drying and steam generation. These new electric end uses would require larger on-site generation or electricity storage systems to meet critical needs during grid outages.

While on-site solar and wind generators are compatible with a wind and solar-powered grid, they would be unacceptable as on-site emergency generators, since they would be expected to be affected by the same weather conditions which affected the grid power generation facilities.

The brave new world of net zero would have its challenges.

 

Tags: Electric Power Generation, Net Zero Emissions

Highlighted Article: Cities, countries, and economies were built with derivatives from oil, not by electricity

  • 4/22/21 at 03:00 AM

 

From: CFACT

By: Ronald Stein

Date: April 8, 2021

 

Cities, countries, and economies were built with derivatives from oil, not by electricity


"Before world leaders move too fast to consummate their climate policies, they need to be cognizant of two “aha” moments: 1) wind and solar can only generate intermittent electricity, and 2) electricity cannot manufacture the oil derivatives that are the basis of the thousands of products that have built the world’s cities, countries, and economies over the last 200 years.

Can you imagine primitive man with an abundance of wind and solar electricity and nothing to power! Imagine living with Just GREEN Electricity.

Interestingly, for more than two centuries the most important benefits to humanity from fossil fuels is the oil derivatives, that electricity CANNOT provide, and NOT the fuels that can be manufactured for the transportation and military infrastructures.

The world has had more than 200 years to develop clones or generics to replace the crude oil derivatives that are the foundation of all the products demanded by lifestyles and economies around the world. Wind and solar are not only incapable of manufacturing any such derivatives, but the manufacturing of wind and solar components are themselves 100 percent dependent on the derivatives made from crude oil.

Ever since the beginning of manufacturing and assembly of cars, trucks, airplanes, and military equipment in the early 1900’s, and the discovery of the versatility of products that could be made from petroleum derivatives, the world has had almost 200 years to develop clones or generics to replace the crude oil derivatives that account for more than 6,000 products that are the basis of lifestyles and economies of the healthier and wealthier countries around the world." ...

 

Cities, countries, and economies were built with derivatives from oil, not by electricity

 

Tags: Highlighted Article

Highlighted Article: Cultural Motivations for Wind and Solar Renewables Deployment

  • 12/17/20 at 03:00 AM

From: Climate Etc.

By: Andy West

Date: November 19, 2020

 

Cultural Motivations for Wind and Solar Renewables Deployment


“For me the question now is, now that we know that renewables can’t save the planet, are we going to keep letting them destroy it?”. – Michael Schellenberger

Introduction

"There have been many technical analyses of Wind and Solar energy, covering a raft of issues from energy density and efficiency, through subsidies and land usage, to maintenance, grid impacts, intermittency and more. The angle examined here is in no way intended to replace such necessary views, whether they lean to the pessimistic or the optimistic or anywhere in-between. Rather, a complementary view is provided regarding an aspect that such technical analyses cannot address, albeit it often features in the conclusions and questions these analyses raise at the end. Right here at Climate Etc, the first of the excellent analyses by ‘Planning Engineer’ (on his retirement revealed to be Russ Schussler, ex-VP of Transmission Planning at Georgia Transmission Corporations), laudably highlighted the limitation of technical analyses with his very first line: “Power System Planners do not have the expertise or knowledge to say whether or not the benefits of reducing carbon emissions are worth the costs. However they should be respected as experts for obtaining a better understanding of what the implications and costs of such programs are.”...

 

Cultural Motivations for Wind and Solar Renewables Deployment

 

Tags: Highlighted Article
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