“Energy, is the only universal currency”
The author of several books on energy, Vaclav Smil is quoted as saying “Energy is the only universal currency: one of its many forms must be transformed to another in order for stars to shine, planets to rotate, plants to grow, and civilizations to evolve.”
Most American citizens simply take abundant, reliable and reasonable cost energy for granted. It is not until a major pipeline is shutdown as the Colonial Pipeline was last year by hackers. Or, there is severe weather such as a hurricane that shuts down refineries and/or topples electricity transmission towers. Only then does the average American notice just how important energy is to our lives. As important as energy is to us, we are allowing politicians who know very little about the production of energy, electricity generation, transmission and distribution of energy to, “Completely transform America’s energy infra-structure with the Green New Deal” I wrote last year on Hawaii’s path toward the “Green New Deal”, Here is the link: https://wordpress.com/post/dickstormprobizblog.wordpress.com/32
I used Hawaii as an example, because Hawaii is literally an energy island and is not connected to the American Electric Grid. Thus, it provides a perfect laboratory to expose the results of going green, or at least moving in that direction. Because of the isolation from competitive electricity supplies, the change to more green generation is making a much faster impact on electricity pricing. There is not the ability to import low cost coal or natural gas power from other states as say, California can. Because of the intermittant nature of renewable power (Non-Dispatchable), much of Hawaii’s electricity is generated from oil fuel. In fact, you can get a real time update on the generation source here: https://www.islandpulse.org
Oahu has a very reliable and clean coal plant, Barber’s Point. The real time screen shot above shows 14% of Oahu’s power was being provided at this moment. Unfortunately, because of unreasonable Political reasons, the coal plant is scheduled for premature shutdown. Just because the elected officials have their own war on carbon. Their intentions may be pure but in reality to keep the power supply reliable, much of the electricity generation is from oil fuel. (no natural gas pipelines in Hawaii either, thus, oil backup power) Most of the cost of electricity (about 75% for coal and 90% fuel cost component for natural gas or oil) production from a Thermal Power Plant is for fuel. Therefore, using Diesel Fuel which second only to hydrogen, is the most expensive fuel available. As time goes on, the higher production cost of electric generation must be passed on to the Rate-Payers. Thus, Hawaii has the highest electricity costs in America. Note the chart below provided by the Electric Choice.com web site. The average retail cost of electricity in America is about $0.13/kWh. As shown below, Hawaii’s is $0.327/kWh
Critics can say that electricity is a small cost of our household expenses. That, high electric costs such as Hawaii and California have is not a big deal. Well, in my state of South Carolina, manufacturing (jobs) is still a large part of our economy. We have NUCOR Steel and Century Aluminum manufacturers. The production of vital steel and aluminum that we need is very electricity intensive. So, perhaps Hawaiians can enjoy life and their economy thrive. Tourism and government facilities can absorb the high electric costs, competitive manufacturing cannot. My state cannot. Just for reference, over 50% of our electricity in SC is generated by four well run nuclear power plants. These nuclear plants plus reasonable cost natural gas and coal plants keep our electricity costs below the National average. The generation is “Dispatchable too!” That means, electricity load can be increased or decreased as customer demand fluctuates.
All of us should be aware of China’s dominating world manufacturing. China produces over 50% of the world’s steel, aluminum and concrete. China uses over 57% of the world’s coal production for electric power. Yes, China is the most productive and least cost producer of many products manufactured in the world. China the last time I checked, produces about 28% of the world’s manufactured goods. I submit that electricity prices matter. Reasonable cost electricity is absolutely required for competitive manufacturing.
My presentation to the Delaware County Bar Association in July 2016 has some facts and information on how China crushed ALCOA’s aluminum production. This is at this link:
My personal experiences included working (as a contractor/consultant) for ALCOA all over the world at their Alumina and Aluminum smelting facilities. I made many friends with Alcoans from 1978 till about 2012. Then, huge plants such as the Rockdale Texas Smelting operation, the smelter at Suriname, SA and others were shut down. Why? Becuase aluminum requires about 5 kWh per pound to produce the metal. This is just for the smelting operation. More energy is required for alumina production and transportation. Energy costs matter for economic prosperity. For many of my friends at ALCOA, the Chinese dumping of aluminum on the London Metal Exchange, meant early retirement or job changes.
The “Green New Deal” is anti-American and will weaken America’s competitive capacity. Conversely, the “Green New Deal” will strengthen China’s grip on world manufacturing. Their dominance in solar panel manufacturing is well documented.(4) The Green New Deal if passed will be a (another) huge gift to China.
Donn Dears has an excellent website where he provides information on energy, Net Zero Carbon, Electric Vehicles electricity generation, nuclear power generation, hydrogen and much more. Here is the Power for the U.S.A. Blog address: https://ddears.com/donns-articles/ I strongly recommend reading Donn’s articles. He has a knack for writing short concise posts with ample facts and references.
The changing of America’s electric power generation to becoming carbon free is not practical and in fact, with today’s technology, impossible. I submit the case study of Hawaii’s experiences to show the fallacy of committing to new renewable power sources to quickly. California and Texas have experienced Blackouts because of too much intermittant renewable power and not enough reliable and Dispatchable generation capacity. (Key phrase, Dispatchable Electric Generation capacity) Why would we enact policies and Regulations that make America weaker and less competitive with China?
Dick Storm, August 20, 2021
- Island Pulse website by Blue Planet Foundation for real time electric generation data for Hawaii Electric on the island of Oahu. https://www.islandpulse.org
- Electric Choice.com for electric rate comparisons of 50 states.
3. Donn Dears Blog: Power for the U.S.A. An excellent collection of relevant articles on energy and electric power generation. https://ddears.com/donns-articles/
4. Coalition for a Prosperous America, report on Solar Panel Manufacturing and dominance of China: Coalition for a Prosperous America report on Solar Panels from China: https://prosperousamerica.org/cpa-releases-report-on-reclaiming-the-us-solar-supply-chain-from-china/
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