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In the Wake of the News

Electric Transition


The US EIA graph below summarizes the sources and uses of energy in the US economy. The Administration has established a series of progressive goals to eliminate fossil fuel consumption in the energy economy and achieve Net Zero emissions by 2050.


U.S. energy consumption by source and sector 2020


Currently, electricity from all sources represents 12.5 quads of the total of 69.7 quads of energy consumed in the economy, or approximately 18% of total energy consumption. Net Zero would require that all uses of petroleum, natural gas and coal which result in the emission of CO2 be replaced by renewable electricity. This would specifically exclude the petroleum and natural gas consumed in the production of chemicals and plastics. Therefore, approximately 30 quads of petroleum, 30 quads of natural gas and 9 quads of coal end-use consumption would be transitioned to renewable electricity by 2050.

Assuming that the Industrial and transportation electric end uses would average three times the efficiency of the fossil fuel end uses and that the residential and commercial electric end uses would average twice the efficiency of the fossil end uses, renewable electricity generation would be required to replace not only 7 quads of fossil fuel-generated electricity but also provide approximately 7 quads to replace fossil energy consumption in the industrial sector, approximately 7 quads to replace fossil energy consumption in the transportation sector and approximately 5 quads to replace fossil energy consumption in the residential and commercial sectors of the economy.

The combined effect of these energy transitions is to approximately quadruple current electricity demand and consumption in the economy. US electric utilities currently operate approximately 850 GW of fossil-fueled electric generation capacity, which historically operates at approximately a 40% system load factor and represents an approximate 20% capacity reserve margin relative to peak demand.

US EIA uses a 45% capacity factor for wind and a 30% capacity factor for solar PV generation. Therefore, a combination of wind and solar generation would have a capacity factor similar to the grid capacity factor. However, current grid generating capacity, with the exception of wind and solar generation, is dispatchable to meet contemporaneous grid demand. Wind and solar generation require storage to render them dispatchable. The storage system design must accommodate timing differences between peak generation and peak demand, multi-day periods of low/no wind and/or solar availability and seasonal variations in capacity factor. Currently, storage systems capable of multi-day and seasonal compensation are unavailable.

The transition of the existing electric grid to renewable generation is currently being accomplished by relying on conventional generation sources to supply the grid during periods of low/no wind and/or solar availability. However, the requirement to discontinue operation of existing fossil generation capacity, combined with the increased demand and consumption which would result from the electrification of all current fossil fuel end uses in the industrial, transportation, residential and commercial sectors of the economy would require that all additional renewable generating capacity be combined with adequate storage to render the capacity dispatchable, plus the additional generation capacity necessary to recharge depleted storage while still meeting the contemporaneous demand of the grid.


Tags: Electric Power Generation

Highlighted Article: Crossing (or not) the 1.5 and 2.0C thresholds


From: Climate Etc.

By: Judith Curry

Date: January 23, 2022


Crossing (or not) the 1.5 and 2.0C thresholds

The first rule of climate chess is this.  The board is bigger than we think, and includes more than fossil fuels.”  – Jon Foley

The strategy to limit global warming is tied directly to limiting the amount of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere. Emissions targets are a centerpiece of the UNFCCC Paris Agreement.  The goal of the emissions targets is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably 1.5 degrees Centigrade, compared to pre-industrial levels (typically the baseline period 1851-1900).  For reference, the climate has warmed in 2020 by about 1.2oC

Using the medium emissions scenario (SSP2-4.5), the IPCC AR6 constrained global mean temperature projections indicate that there is a 50% chance that the 1.5oC threshold would be crossed around 2030 and the 2oC threshold would be crossed around 2052.  There is uncertainty in the year for which the thresholds would be crossed (2026-2042 for the 1.5oC threshold and 2038-2072 for the 2oC threshold), mostly owing to the range of climate sensitivity to CO2 among different models.

This post illustrates now natural climate variability could influence the global mean surface temperature change through 2050, and hence influence the time of crossing the 1.5 and 2.0oC thresholds.  Specifically, alternative scenarios of volcanic eruptions, solar variability and internal climate variability are considered.  The risk from not realistically accounting for natural climate variability is that critical possible future climate outcomes are being discounted, potentially causing maladaptation.  Each of the scenarios presented here is arguably more plausible than the high emissions scenarios RCP8.5/SSP4-8.5 LINK.  For additional reference, see also this previous blog post." (continue reading this post)


Crossing (or not) the 1.5 and 2.0C thresholds


Tags: Highlighted Article

Highlighted Article: Should Government Control Scientific Research?


From: Watts Up With That

By: Andy May

Date: January 21, 2022


Should Government Control Scientific Research?


"This is the transcript of a talk I gave to the ASME (The American Society of Mechanical Engineers) South Texas Section January 20, 2022

Federal money allows unelected bureaucrats to control scientific research. They dictate the projects, and often the outcomes. They use selective leaks to the press to embarrass anyone who tries to interfere with their control. They trade in fear and relish it. Anyone who disagrees with them is suppressing “science.”

They also use an ignorant and compliant news media, to demonize privately funded scientific research as “corrupted” by “evil” corporations.[1] Government research is “science” and privately funded research is corrupt. Using this narrative, they become the “truth,” and no contrary views are allowed.

President Eisenhower said, quote:

“The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocation, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.”

President Eisenhower’s farewell speech, 1961

H. L. Mencken wrote, quote:

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

H. L. Mencken, 1918, In Defense of Women

What better way to frighten the public than with a scientist’s prediction?" (continue reading)


Should Government Control Scientific Research?


Tags: Highlighted Article

Gas Appliance Phaseout

Achieving Net Zero GHG emissions by 2050 would require a complete phaseout of residential and commercial gas appliances, including furnaces and boilers, water heaters, ranges and ovens, laundry dryers, grills, and standby generators.

US DOE, in cooperation with the US electric utility industry, has been attempting to eliminate gas end uses for decades. Initially, this effort was based on the ludicrous fantasy that electricity magically appeared at the customers’ meters at 100% efficiency. This fantasy ignored the primary energy losses during the generation processes as well as the secondary losses, including generating plant parasitic power consumption as well as transmission and distribution losses. This approach placed gas end uses at a disadvantage since gas parasitic losses and transmission and distribution losses are far lower than those in the electric system, and gas equipment losses occur downstream of the customer meter.

This fantasy rationalization has now been replaced by the fantasy of climate change as a “crisis”, “emergency” or “existential threat". The federal government has set Net Zero as a goal to be achieved by 2050, but with no published plan to achieve the goal. The Administration has taken several steps toward a gas phaseout, including a proposed ban on gas exploration and production both offshore and on federal lands. The Administration is also pressuring lenders to refuse to finance new gas system investment. Several state governments have banned hydraulic fracturing for natural gas production. Other states have refused to approve pipeline expansions to serve growing consumer demand. One state is attempting to halt operation of an existing pipeline that serves both US and Canadian markets. Several cities have banned or announced bans on new natural gas connections.

These actions have already driven significant increases in natural gas prices and have threatened supply shortages. The situation will only get worse as supply is restricted further.

Replacing existing gas end-use appliances and equipment with electric end-use equipment would often require electric service upgrades of 100 amperes in residential dwellings and of several hundred amperes in commercial buildings. The replacement appliances and equipment would add thousands of dollars to the cost. The replacement electric appliances would also increase consumer energy bills as electricity rates increase due to the transition to renewable energy sources plus electricity storage.

The realization that gas service would become unavailable in the future would cause builders and their customers to choose all-electric construction to avoid later conversion costs. It would also cause customers faced with appliance replacement decisions to choose electric appliances to replace worn-out gas equipment. Progressive appliance and equipment replacement would increase gas costs as the existing transmission and distribution infrastructure was used to deliver less and less gas over time. It is completely predictable that these cost increases would be blamed on the suppliers, rather than on the government actions which caused the increases.

The unavailability of gas standby generation systems would increase the vulnerability of customers which require an uninterruptible power supply, such as hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, and some residential buildings including high-rise apartment and condominium complexes, to grid interruptions.


Tags: Net Zero Emissions

Highlighted Article: 2022 Energy Predictions: Coal Decline Accelerates, Federal Funds Spur Clean Energy, Millions Of New Electric Vehicles And Chargers


From: Forbes

By: Silvio Marcacci

Date: January 10, 2022


2022 Energy Predictions: Coal Decline Accelerates, Federal Funds Spur Clean Energy, Millions Of New Electric Vehicles And Chargers

"2021 was a landmark year for clean energy and climate policy, from dozens of nations pledging to phase out coal, to the most ambitious federal climate proposals in United States history, to automakers going all in on electrified transportation.

Many of these developments were forecast by policy experts who thought Democratic control of the White House and Congress, fast-falling clean energy and electrified technology prices, and the undeniable need to confront climate change by cutting emissions portended a groundswell of action.

But the outlook for 2022 is not as clear. Will China commit to phasing out new domestic coal plants? Will the U.S. Senate finally pass the Build Back Better Act (BBBA) and unlock hundreds of billions in investment? How will billions in electric vehicle (EV) and grid investments from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) be allocated? And will growing consumer demand for clean energy drive new renewable energy, EV, and electrified appliance sales?

Five leading policy experts shared their predictions for the year ahead including coal’s accelerating decline, federal investments energizing clean energy adoption and grid expansion, and millions of EVs hitting U.S. roads to help EV chargers become a new investment class." (continue reading)


2022 Energy Predictions: Coal Decline Accelerates, Federal Funds Spur Clean Energy, Millions Of New Electric Vehicles And Chargers


Tags: Highlighted Article

Highlighted Article: The Cost of Net Zero Electrification of the U.S.A.


From: Watts Up With That

By: Ken Gregory, P. Eng.

Date: January 12, 2022


The Cost of Net Zero Electrification of the U.S.A.


"This article by Ken Gregory, P. Eng. is a critique of an influential report  by Thomas Tanton “Cost of Electrification: A State-by-State Analysis and Results” and provides corrected new capital cost estimates to achieve net zero emissions in the U.S.A. Estimating the increased operating costs is beyond the scope of the study.  This post provides a condensed version of the blog post previously published at Friends of Science here.

Executive Summary

Many governments have made promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by replacing fossil fuels with solar and wind generated electricity and to electrify the economy. A report by Thomas Tanton estimates a capital cost of US$36.4 trillion for the U.S.A. economy to meet net zero emissions using wind and solar power. This study identifies several errors in the Tanton report and provides new capital cost estimates using 2019 and 2020 hourly electricity generation data rather than using annual average conditions as was done in the Tanton report.  This study finds that the battery costs for replacing all current fossil fuel fired electricity with wind and solar generated electricity, using 2020 electricity data, is 109 times that estimated by the Tanton report. The total capital cost of electrification is herein estimated, using 2020 data, at US$433 trillion, or 20 times the U.S.A. 2019 gross domestic product. Overbuilding the solar plus wind capacity by 21% reduces overall costs by 18% by reducing battery storage costs. Allowing fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage to provide 50% of the electricity demand dramatically reduces the total costs from US$433 trillion to US$24 trillion, which is a reduction of 94.6%. Battery storage costs are highly dependent on the year’s weather and the seasonal shape of electricity demand.


The U.S.A. government has set a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel use and cement manufacturing to net zero economy-wide by no later than 2050. Some believe this could be achieved by replacing most fossil fuel use with non-emitting energy sources and sequestering carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the remaining fossil fuel use by carbon capture and storage (CCS)." (continue reading)


The Cost of Net Zero Electrification of the U.S.A.


Tags: Highlighted Article

US ICE Vehicle Phaseout

We need to make green energy much cheaper.”, Bjorn Lomborg

Global policymakers appear to have adopted a uniform approach to the green energy transition – making fossil energy unavailable through supply restriction or legislative and regulatory prohibition, or more expensive through taxation. They either lack confidence in future green energy cost reductions or they lack the patience to wait for those cost reductions. Lomborg sees the need to make green energy cheaper in absolute terms, while policymakers pursue the approach of making it cheaper in relative terms by increasing the cost of conventional energy and its end uses.

The US government and some state governments are pursuing these approaches to phaseout internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles and transition to electric vehicles (EVs) or hydrogen fueled vehicles. California plans to ban sale of ICE vehicles in 2030, while the federal government plans to ban their sale in 2035. The federal government currently pays incentives of up to $7,500 to purchasers of electric vehicles and plans to increase the incentives to up to $12,500 for vehicles produced by union labor. The federal government also intends to incentivize installation of up to 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations, with a focus on disadvantaged and underserved neighborhoods. Incentives are also planned for electric school buses and transit buses.

These mandates and incentives are deemed necessary because current electric vehicles are expensive, largely because of the cost of their batteries. Also, current EVs are range limited by their batteries, reducing their utility for other than short trips. EV owners also experience “fuel anxiety” because of the limited EV charging infrastructure.

The EV transition is also currently being impeded by concerns about battery fires, which have resulted in major vehicle recalls. Concerns regarding battery fires are also causing some jurisdictions to consider prohibiting EV charging stations in public and private parking structures and underground parking facilities in residential complexes.

There are currently light duty and medium duty EVs available in the market, though they represent only approximately 7% of passenger car sales and a lesser share of light and medium duty truck sales. Heavy duty EV trucks are just being introduced to the market and EV semi-tractors are under development. The major concern with these heavy-duty vehicles is the effect the weight of the batteries has on the gross vehicle weight (GVW) of the truck and the limitation that imposes on cargo weight.

The conversion of railroad vehicles to EV is a major challenge. EV passenger rail in highly populated areas of the country has been in use for decades. However, passenger rail power demands are much lower than for freight service. Freight locomotives in current service use electric drive motors at the wheels, but the electricity is provided by diesel generators in the locomotives. Installing overhead electric lines of sufficient current carrying capacity on the 140,000 route miles of freight rail infrastructure and converting existing locomotives with catenaries and transformers would be an extremely expensive undertaking.

Conversion of off-road vehicles, such as farm and construction equipment, to EV operation present interesting charging and utility challenges.



Highlighted Article: Where Fake Science Came From


From: Science Errors

Date: January 10, 2022


Where Fake Science Came From

"Journalists created the global warming scare, not real scientists. There always is a lot of incompetence and errors in science, but they slowly wash out under normal conditions. Journalists railroaded that process with global warming—imposing nihilism onto the public and scandalizing real scientist out of science.

Then they repeated the same thing with the non-solution of renewable energy. Real engineers tried to explain the fallacy of such renewable energy, but they were shoved out of the process by totalitarian journalists.

Why that happened is being revealed with the fascist overthrow of government. It's because modern methods of reality control systematically overwhelm rationality. Reality is being railroaded everywhere by the transformation of journalistic media. It's not a process that rationality can survive.

The old method of communicating through the paper medium was methodical in correcting errors. People got accustomed to a process that could be relied upon for sorting out falsehoods. People were then caught off guard by scam methods of reality control that developed, in part due to the internet but also due to increased social complexities, while conservatives dismantled standards of normalcy in politics and throughout society." ...


Where Fake Science Came From


Tags: Highlighted Article

Renewable Transition

The US transition to renewable electric generation is proceeding down a path which assures that electric rates will rise. Wind and solar are “source of opportunity” generators, producing electricity when the wind blows and the sun shines. They are intermittent, unreliable, non-dispatchable sources of electricity, which require backup from conventional generation sources or storage when they are not producing electricity. The renewable generating capacity connected to the grid is redundant capacity, in that it cannot replace conventional generation capacity, though the electricity it generates displaces electricity generation from conventional generators.

This duplication of generating capacity increases electricity infrastructure investment, thus increasing required return on investment and consumer electric rates. The addition of the renewable generation combined with the requirement to retain conventional generation, in the absence of electricity storage capacity, decreases the quantity of electricity generated by the conventional generating plants while increasing the cost of the electricity they do generate, since plant investment must be recovered from decreased generation volumes. The subsidies and incentives provided for renewable generation reduce the cost of the electricity they produce to consumers by transferring that cost to taxpayers, most of whom are also consumers.

The renewable energy industry is very quick to point out that the cost of the electricity it produces is declining and, in some cases, is cheaper that electricity produced by conventional sources. However, this is a faulty argument since renewable electricity is not reliable and dispatchable. The renewable energy industry asserts that providing transmission access and the storage capacity necessary to make renewable electricity dispatchable is the responsibility of others, such as the utility industry. This position allows the renewable energy industry to maintain the fiction that renewable energy is low cost and would result in rate reductions. Transferring this responsibility to the utilities also allows the renewable energy industry and its allies in government and the media to blame rate increases and grid unreliability on the utilities.

Logic suggests that the storage capacity required to render renewable generation reliable and dispatchable should be co-located with the wind or solar generation. The generators produce DC electricity and batteries store DC electricity. Inversion to AC power at transmission voltage would occur when the capacity of the generation / storage facility was dispatched. This approach limits losses to the in and out losses of the storage system and the energy lost in the inversion to AC power at grid voltage.

Remote location of the storage required to achieve reliability would require that the DC electricity generated at the site be inverted to AC electricity at transmission voltage, transmitted to the storage facility, rectified to DC electricity at storage voltage for storage, then inverted to AC electricity at transmission voltage again for dispatch. These multiple DC to AC to DC to AC conversions cascade the losses associated with each of the conversions.

Regardless of the transmission and storage approach pursued, the conventional generation fleet cannot be decommissioned until a fully dispatchable alternative is in place and operating. However, even after the renewable generation and storage infrastructure replaces the conventional generation infrastructure, electricity rates would still likely be higher until the cost of the required storage infrastructure declines significantly.


Tags: Solar Energy, Wind Energy, Renewable Energy, Electric Power Generation

Highlighted Article: So, What Exactly Is Long-Duration Energy Storage?


From: Greentech Media

By: Julian Spector

Date: October 26, 2020


So, What Exactly Is Long-Duration Energy Storage?

"Long-duration storage occupies an enviable position in the cleantech hype cycle. Its allure has proven more durable than energy blockchain, and its commercialization is further along than super-buzzy green hydrogen.

Depending on who you talk to, long-duration storage technology can knock out coal and gas peaker plants, turn renewables into round-the-clock resources and generally pave the way for a carbon-free grid.

But beyond the high-level predictions, it’s hard to find a consistent definition of what this category actually means and exactly what it's supposed to do. That's largely because a market for such things hasn't really existed.

That’s starting to change. On October 15, a coalition of community-choice aggregators in California released the first major request for proposals targeting long-duration projects. To qualify, plants must be:

  • 50 megawatts or greater
  • Able to discharge electrons at that level for eight hours or more
  • In operation by 2026

Companies interested in this process cover a range of technologies, including pumped hydro, gravity-based, compressed air and flow batteries, as well as current market leader lithium-ion batteries.

GTM previously covered the main technologies vying for this emerging grid role and recently published an explainer on green hydrogen, another long-duration contender. In light of the new effort to actually buy some of this stuff, GTM has compiled a guide to why it matters, what products and companies are competing to supply it, and what hurdles this category faces." ...


So, What Exactly Is Long-Duration Energy Storage?


Tags: Highlighted Article

Gas Generation Phaseout

The US currently generates more than 500,000,000 Megawatt-hours, or approximately 25% of electric utility annual electricity production, in coal-fueled generating stations, which the Administration has said will all cease operation by 2030. The US currently generates more than 800,000,000 Megawatt-hours, or approximately 37% of electric utility annual electricity production, in natural gas fueled generating stations, which the Administration has said will all cease operation by 2035. US natural gas fueled electric generation has more than doubled over the past 10 years because of the lower cost of natural gas and the higher generating efficiency of natural gas combined cycle powerplants.

The US currently generates 338,000,000 Megawatt-hours, or approximately 8.4% of all utility-scale electric generation. This electricity is generated by approximately 60,000 wind turbines with a total nameplate capacity of 122,465 MW operating at an average capacity factor of approximately 32%.

Replacing the generating capacity of the US coal-fueled generating fleet would require installation of approximately 625,000 MW of wind turbine rating plate capacity, plus the electricity storage capacity to store the output of the wind turbines for the maximum number of days duration of a potential “wind drought”. Additional generation capacity would be required to recharge storage after such a “wind drought” while meeting the contemporaneous demand on the grid.

Replacing the generating capacity of the US natural gas generating fleet would require installation of approximately 1,000,000 MW of wind turbine rating plate capacity, plus the storage capacity required to make the wind generation reliable and dispatchable, and the additional generating capacity required to recharge storage after periods of low/no wind generation.

US wind turbine installations peaked in 2020 at 14.2 GW (14,200 MW). Installation of 625,000 MW of wind turbine rating plate capacity over the period 2022-2029 would require installation of an average of 78 GW of new wind turbine generating capacity per year, or 5.5 times the capacity added in 2020. Installation of an additional 1,000,000 MW of wind turbine generating capacity over the period from 2030-2034 would require installation of an additional 200 GW of new wind turbine generating capacity per year, or 14 times the capacity added in 2020.

The current installed cost of new wind turbine generating capacity is approximately $1.3 million per MW. Assuming anticipated cost reductions resulting from increased manufacturing volume would be offset by cost increases resulting from increased demand for the rare earth materials required for fabrication of the wind turbines, the total cost of replacing existing fossil fuel electric generation with wind generation would be approximately $2 trillion. This estimate does not include the cost of the land on which the wind turbines are installed, the cost of the storage batteries required to make the wind capacity reliable and dispatchable and the cost additional transmission infrastructure required to connect the wind farms to the existing electric grid.

The replacement of both the coal and natural gas generating capacity would be deferred toward the ends of the required decommissioning periods to assure grid reliability through the transition, as operating experience was gained with the replacement wind and storage infrastructure.


Tags: Electric Power Generation, Net Zero Emissions

Highlighted Article: A Victim of the Climate Wars: A Warning from the U.K.


From: National Review

By: Andrew Stuttaford

Date: December 31, 2021


A Victim of the Climate Wars: A Warning from the U.K.

"Shell’s decision to pull out of the Cambo North Sea oilfield-development project in early December — which could have also provided enough natural gas for 1.5 million homes for a year — may not seem like something that should concern Americans. Check a little more closely, though, and this grim tale begins to look a lot like an example of how our own oil and gas production is going to be — or is already starting to be — constrained, not necessarily by legislation but by a combination of regulatory overreach, activist agitation, and the increasingly malevolent influence of financial institutions. Many of those in the last group on that list are major institutional investors out to advance a socio-political agenda unconnected, whatever they may claim, to the generation of financial return for their clients. This agenda is often sold under the guise of “socially responsible investing” (SRI), and particularly these days, as “ESG,” a peculiarly virulent variant of SRI under which actual or prospective investments are not only assessed for the money they might make but also for how they score against certain environmental, social, and, much more reasonably, governance benchmarks.

In other instances, the pressure will be from banks, unwilling to help fund fossil-fuel projects that may cause them difficulty with activists, ESG-touting institutional investors, and, before too long, regulators, specifically central banks citing “climate risk.” That this risk is illusory doesn’t matter; that the illusion is useful does. It should be stressed that “illusory” refers not to the question of climate change but to the danger it might pose to our lending institutions.

Economist John Cochrane addressed this issue in a recent article for Capital Matters. Here is an extract:" ...


A Victim of the Climate Wars: A Warning from the U.K.


Tags: Highlighted Article

US Coal Phaseout

The US currently generates more than 500,000,000 Megawatt-hours, or approximately 25% of annual electricity production, in coal-fueled generating stations. Coal generation has decreased by more than half over the past 10 years, largely replaced by lower cost natural gas in more efficient combined-cycle power plants or repowering coal plants to burn natural gas to reduce emissions.

The Biden Administration had expressed a goal of reducing US electric generation CO2 emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieving Net Zero electric generation CO2 emissions by 2035. This two-step goal dramatically changes the electric generation landscape. Essentially, all coal fueled powerplants would be required to cease operation by 2030, unless they were repowered to burn natural gas. However, since all natural gas fueled powerplants would be required to cease operation by 2035, it is not likely that many coal fueled powerplants would be repowered to extend their lives by an additional 5 years.

US electric utilities had scheduled closure of the remaining coal fueled powerplants by the end of 2048. However, Kerry’s statement appears to require that the 65 coal generators currently scheduled to be retired after 2029 would be retired early. These generators have a combined generating capacity of approximately 35,000 MW. Many of these generators are relatively new and would have been candidates for future life extension projects. These generators represent an initial investment of approximately $100 billion and would have an estimated residual value of approximately $50 billion, which would become an economic dead loss upon closure of the plants.

Termination of coal fueled generation would also strand approximately $30 trillion of coal resources in the US. The federal government might continue to permit the mining and sale of US coal to other countries, although such a decision would make no sense if the intent is to eliminate CO2 emissions from coal combustion, since the resulting CO2 would enter the same atmosphere regardless of where the coal was burned.

Current US coal generating capacity is approximately 200,000 MW. If that capacity is eliminated prior to 2030 as envisioned by Mr. Kerry, it must be replaced by equivalent dispatchable capacity consisting of renewable generators combined with massive electricity storage systems. It is highly unlikely that much, if any, of the replacement generation would be fossil fueled, since all fossil fueled generation is to be retired by 2035, unless equipped with carbon capture and storage capability.

Wind turbines are currently the leading source of renewable electricity generation in the US. Replacing current US coal generation of 500,000,000 Megawatt-hours with wind turbines would require the installation of approximately 76,000 2.5 MW wind turbines at an estimated investment of approximately $1.3 million per MW, or approximately $250 billion. However, if the coal generators were being operated in load following mode, at a grid capacity factor of approximately 40%, replacing their capacity would require installation of approximately 190,000 2.5 MW wind turbines and an investment of approximately $625 billion. The installed cost of equivalent solar photovoltaic generating capacity would be approximately the same. Neither of these system costs includes the cost of the land the systems would occupy or the storage required to make them dispatchable.

The installed cost of dispatchable wind or solar generating capacity is not possible to estimate because the battery storage technology required to store electricity for more than a few hours is not commercially available. However, a stable and reliable electric grid would require that renewable generating capacity be dispatchable and that sufficient excess generating capacity be available to recharge storage after use while meeting the demand on the grid.

Decommissioning one coal fueled electric generator each month over the next 8 years is a massive task, but it pales in comparison with the task of replacing those generators with dispatchable renewable capacity over the same period. Anticipated electric demand and consumption growth resulting from federal efforts to electrify transportation and other fossil fueled end uses would make the replacement process even more daunting.


Tags: Coal, Electric Power Generation

Highlighted Article: Digital Book Burning and the Degradation of Science

  • 1/6/22 at 07:00 AM


From: A Walk On The Natural Side

By: Jim Steele

Date: December 11, 2021


Digital Book Burning and the Degradation of Science

"Today i want to talk about how a small self-righteous group is trying to control what scientific ideas get shared with the public. I call them the new book burners As Ray Bradbury warned, you dont need to burn books to destroy a culture, ... Just get people to stop reading them.

We teach students that science is driven by the scientific method. You make observations that raise questions. Then a plausible explanation or hypothesis is offered to answer those questions. Then experiments are done to test that hypothesis, and results and conclusions are published so others then can evaluate your methods and conclusions. But that is just one turn of many, in the scientific method.

Science then requires debate. Others may have had similar observations but different explanations, which lead to different conclusions. We trust science as a truth seeking method because many eyes and many voices can weigh in and debate the final conclusions.

Robust science and our democracy require a culture that holds sacred the freedom of speech and skepticism As Carl Sagan said, science requires an almost complete openess to all ideas, balanced by rigorous and uncompromising skepticism. Similarly, America's founding fathers made sure any form of tyranny over the minds of people should be strongly opposed Walter Gilbert, a 1980 nobel prize winner for his contribution to the methods that enabled the sequencing of DNA and RNA, also praised the virtues of scientific skepticism and independent thought. But he also warned.....good scientists often morph into authoritarians who claim “only their way of doing science is the only valid view” ...


Digital Book Burning and the Degradation of Science

Tags: Highlighted Article

Climate Goals 2022

The Biden Administration has announced numerous climate goals over the past year. These goals are not accompanied by a documented, coherent, comprehensive plan for achieving these goals, so they remain merely wishes for desired outcomes. Each of the Administration’s wishes requires supportive participation by individuals and small and large businesses. However, the absence of a plan leaves those participants unsure of when and how they will be required to participate. This suggests that not much is likely to happen until these issues are clarified.

The Administration’s climate wishes include:

•    A 50% reduction in US CO2 emissions by 2030
•    Elimination of US coal consumption by 2030
•    Net Zero electric generation CO2 emissions by 2035
•    Cessation of production of ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles by 2035
•    Net Zero US CO2 emissions by 2050

The Administration has identified expansion of renewables, electrification of current non-generation fossil fuel end uses, electric vehicles, energy efficiency and conservation as the paths to achieving its climate wishes.

The 50% reduction in US CO2 emissions, combined with the elimination of US coal consumption, would require closure of all existing US coal electric generation plants, eliminating approximately 25% of US electric generation capacity over the next 8 years. This reduction would also require massive reductions in the annual operating hours of US natural gas combined-cycle generation facilities.

The 50% reduction in US CO2 emissions would also require significant shifting from ICE vehicles to electric vehicles and shifting from natural gas and propane residential and commercial appliances and industrial end uses to electric end uses. The progressive electrification of the vehicle fleet and residential, commercial and industrial end uses would significantly increase electric demand and consumption while conventional fossil fuel generating capacity was being reduced. This would require not only replacing the existing fossil fuel generation capacity being abandoned or constrained, but also adding additional non-fossil generating capacity to satisfy the increased demand and consumption of the newly electrified end uses.

The premature closure or forced generation reductions in the electric generation sector would raise legal and regulatory issues regarding utility recovery of rate base investments as the generating plants cease to be “used and useful”. The electrification of current gas end uses would raise legal and regulatory issues in the gas industry, as utilities and non-utility fuel suppliers would be required to recover their investments from declining sales volumes, thus requiring rate increases.

The greatest risk in these transitions would be the closure of conventional, dispatchable generating facilities before sufficient dispatchable renewable generation facilities were online. This is the most critical issue which must ultimately be resolved by an Administration transition plan.

Regrettably, the handwriting is already on the wall regarding the likely Administration approach to the inevitable rate increases and the inevitable loss of reliability of the US electric grid. The Administration will deny any responsibility for events as they unfold, as they have already done regarding gasoline price increases, and will blame the affected industries for the problems.

It well might be that the plan for the transition is not available because the existence of such a plan would make the Administration’s denials of responsibility for its effects implausible.


Tags: Climate Change Debate, Fossil Fuel Elimination / Reduction, Electric Power Generation
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