All Fuels are important! A review of the Reality of Competitive Electricity Generation and the supply of needed Transportation fuels

The President has re-engaged the Obama Administration “War on Carbon” and signed executive orders to kill pipelines, restrict drilling and production of oil and gas on Federal lands and to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. If not rescinded, this will cripple American economic growth and prosperity. For decades I have promoted policies of “ALL FUELS are IMPORTANT” so that America can remain a world leader, become energy independent and be competitive in manufacturing. Long story short, the Four E’s have been important to me for many years. The four E’s are: Energy, Environmental Protection, Education and Economic Prosperity.

America depends on 88% conventional fuels to power our high quality of life, our manufacturing and is important for National Security. The 88% is not a wild exaggeration, I have posts in other articles on this Blog that support it as being a fact. Yes, one in ten units of energy are from conventional fuels. Attempting to Kill conventional fuels is worse than dumb policy.

Yet, the Leftist Democrat politicians, the main stream news, entertainment personalities, TV and movies all lead the American public to believe that most of our electricity is generated or could be, from renewable power and soon. This is wrong.

I thought it might be useful to show where our electric power comes from when we need it today. A case in point is the PJM Interconnection which provides electricity generation control (like the FAA provides Air Traffic Controls, PJM provides electrical Dispatch controls for most of the northeastern U.S.A. from New Jersey going west to Chicago. Today is a cold day in Philadelphia and there is not a lot of wind and at 0500 AM zero solar. So, where is the power being generated? Here is a real time chart which was available on the PJM.com website. This shows generation by fuel. Note that about a third each is nuclear, coal and natural gas. Out of 104,430 MW’s being generated only 3,342 MWs are from Renewables. This is 3.2% of the 104,430 MW’s being used (needed) this morning.

Feb. 10, 2021 Generation mix by fuels from pjs.com website

Here is a screen shot from a wsj video on the rise of Renewable Power Generation. Usually, the wsj is a factual news organization. I must admit, it is true that 90% of the NEW Generation in 2020 was Renewables, but still this is only a small percentage of the total (about 3.7 % of 1,000GW of total generation capacity). As the above data from PJM shows, 3.2% by renewables, the EIA data for the entire year 2020 was about 3.8% total energy from renewables.

Here is a picture of the Alaska Pipeline. I show this because it is useful to illustrate the amount of energy America depends on each day. About 20 million barrels per day is what America uses in oil. That is used mostly for vehicle transportation, Jet Fuel and industrial output. The Alyeska pipeline passed about 2.2 million barrles per day on it’s most productive year, 1988. So, picture ten pipelines like this to represent the U.S.A.’s oil use. The Keystone Pipleine is rated at 830,000 barrels per day or less than half of the flow in one 48″ diameter Alaska pipeline.

Just as a reminder, America uses about 100.9 Quadrillion Btu’s of total energy each year. This is utilized as shown below on the chart:

Each of us use about 300-330 million Btu’s per year on average. Whether it is coal, natural gas, nuclear, jet fuel, gasoline, Diesel, hydroelectric, Biomass, wind or solar. We depend on this much energy for our life styles, transportation, comfort, cooking, heating, convenience, manufacturing, commerce, mining, manufacturing and National Defense. Think about the importance of energy in your life.

When the President issues Executive Orders to work toward stopping coal plants, killing pipelines, stopping Hydraulic Fracturing for natural gas production, shutting down oil production and stopping use of all Fossil Fuels, it is simply not possible in the short term. Maybe not possible in decades to do without Fossil Fuels. My friend Donn Dears wrote on his Blog recently about the use of coal and fossil fuels for the production of steel and concrete. Together steel and concrete, according to Mr. Dears represented about 12% of all carbon dioxide emissions.

The Democrats and Green Extremists are, whether they understand it or not, working against the best interests of America. They are harming our hard fought struggle to become energy independent. (I understand in November 2020 America was a net exporter of oil for the first time in decades) If we shut down U.S.A. production of energy fuels, then it is making us vulnerable to supply disruptions. I am old enough to remember the Arab Oil Embargo’s of 1973 and 1980. We do not want to return to dependence of volatile supplies of vital fuels or minerals. Dependence on vital minerals such as Lithium, Rare Earth minerals and other ores is a topic for another day.

Another important point. If the Democrats want to save the planet, the best people to produce energy is Americans. We have standards, regulations and practices that have worked well. I submit, look at our stellar record of safety for nuclear and coal plants. The long life of the Alaska pipeline. If sources in America are off limits then the fossil fuels will be imported from other countries that do not have safeguards as effective and proven as ours. How does that improve the environment?

Back to electricity. These were the six top producers of America’s electricity in 2019: Not a bad balance. (data from the EIA)

  1. Natural Gas Fueled Plants         38.4% of USA total
  2. Pulverized Coal Power Plants    23.4% of U.S.A. Total                                              
  3. Nuclear Power Plants                       19.6% of USA total
  4. Hydroelectric generation               7% of USA total
  5. Wind Turbines                                       7.1% of USA total
  6. Solar Power                                             1.7% of USA total

Of course protection of the environment is important. Also important is National Defense, homeland Domestic manufacturing (to keep jobs here), Economic Prosperity, keeping our high quality of life and a fair world trade balance. The four E’s which I think are all very important and should be balanced for truly sustainable living well: Energy, Environmental Protection, Economic Prosperity and Education.

The fourth “E” Education on Energy Matters has not been very well mastered by the President and Democrat politicians.

Thus, my conclusion that

ALL FUELS are IMPORTANT!

Dick Storm

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