Part 3, 2010-2022, by Dick Storm
AMERICA BUILDS THE CLEANEST, MOST EFFICIENT COAL PLANTS IN THE WORLD, ACHIEVES ENERGY INDEPENDENCE, BEGINS RESHORING AMERICAN MANUFACTURING, CLEANS OUR AIR AND THEN….
COMMITS SELF INFLICTED ENERGY EUTHANASIA
My intention for the first two parts of the “History of Energy and Electricity Generation” was to outline the importance that energy and electricity played in improving our quality of living & growing our economy to become the largest in the world. America is still the world’s largest economy, but if we continue on the Net Zero Carbon Path of the “Green New Deal” then America will become weaker and China’s influence in the world will exceed America’s. Perhaps not a problem if China was run by Boy Scouts with high morals. But, the CCP does not share our values.
At current trends of economic growth, China’s GDP is likely to surpass the U.S.A.’s before 2030. The Sub-Title of this post is a reminder that during the Obama Presidency America’s Energy Policy was essentially committed to a Self-Inflicted path of energy euthanasia for our great country. Meanwhile, China ramped up energy production from All Fuel sources. I have written before on the relationship of energy and economic prosperity. That was the theme of parts 1 & 2 of this series. Abundant, reasonable cost energy fueled America’s economy for all of the 20th Century as America became the most productive country in the world with the world’s largest economy.
TWO MAGNIFICENT POWER PLANTS MADE IN THE U.S.A
On a positive note, let’s start with a description of two magnificent Ultra-supercritical clean coal plants. Made in the U.S.A. and amongst the best coal plants ever built. We should have more like these being built now!
The Best Clean Coal Plants Ever Built, Sadly amongst the last ones Built in the U.S.A.
In December 2012 one of the finest examples of American Clean Coal Plants started up. The 600 MW John W. Turk Plant in Arkansas. Power Magazine(3) awarded the plant the highest honor in 2013 for clean, reliable and efficient power generation. Here below is an excerpt of the article in POWER Magazine.
“AEP’s SWEPCO requested proposals in December 2005 for new generation to meet long-term capacity needs, and by August 2006 the company settled on coal-fired technology for a new plant site in Arkansas. Construction began in early 2008, and the new plant entered commercial service in December 2012. For overcoming numerous legal and regulatory obstacles and for building the first ultrasupercritical plant in the U.S., the John W. Turk, Jr. plant is awarded POWER’s 2013 Plant of the Year Award.
The new 600-MW John W. Turk, Jr. Power Plant owned by American Electric Power’s (AEP) Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO) is located on a 2,800-acre tract near Fulton, in Hempstead Country, Arkansas, about 20 miles northeast of Texarkana. The Turk Plant, the first modern plant in the U.S. to commercialize ultrasupercritical (USC) boiler technology, was officially declared commercial on Dec. 20, 2012.”
The specifications are impressive. The steam generator is rated at 650 MW power generation capacity. The steam generator evaporates 4,420,000 pounds per hour of water to superheat to 1,100 degrees F. Think about what that means. Four million pounds per hour, if it is expressed as gallons per minute, the evaporation rate is the equivalent flow in GPM of about 8,800 gallons per minute. This quantity of water is pumped at a pressure of over 4,400 pounds per square inch and then super-heated to over 1,100 degrees F. every minute. That still impresses me to think about it. Thanks to the American metallurgical and welding technology, the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code and over 150 years of experience, that is one of the American Power Industry’s most magnificent accomplishments, in my opinion.
Plants such as Turk can do this 24/7 constantly and at a high-capacity factor. Unlike Wind or Solar Power, the Turk Plant is fully Dispatchable too. That is why I describe plants such as Turk and Longview as magnificent! They are truly engineering marvels.
Another example of a modern, efficient supercritical coal plant is the Longview Power Plant near Morgantown, West Virginia. Longview has also attained the accomplishment of becoming the most efficient coal plant in America (different years for Turk and Longview)
Both Turk and Longview are clean coal plants equipped with Flue Gas Desulfurization equipment, Baghouses for particulate collection and Selective Catalytic Reactors for Oxides of Nitrogen correction. Called “Clean Coal because the truly harmful pollutants have been removed.
These two highly efficient HELE Plants, (HELE=High Efficiency Low Emissions) are amongst the last several major coal generating plants built in America. That’s right, about 2012 marked the end of new coal plant design and construction of coal plants in America. Few people outside the power industry understand the implications of what this means for our future.
Let me state here that I worked my entire career in the pursuit of excellence in coal power generation. Including efficiency and emissions improvements. I believe in clean air and clean water. The EPA was needed in 1970 because acid rain, fine particulates and ground level ozone were problems which large coal fired power plants contributed to. The success of the efforts of the EPA to clean the air is best described on the chart below which is prepared by the EPA(11).
From my viewpoint, cleaning the air of harmful emissions was accomplished by the time that Obama became President. From that point on, the EPA was weaponized against the best interests of America. Weaponzizing the EPA to create what I call, Energy Euthanasia. It continues today with the Climate Policies that are Destroying America. Check reference # 15 below, Donn Dears Book entitled, “NET-ZERO CARBON, THE CLIMATE POLICY DESTROYING AMERICA”
Weaponizing the EPA:
Commiting to the Present Path of Climate Policy has Seriously Wounded America’s Supply Chain for Power Generation Equipment
The Obama years 2008-2016 set a course for American Energy that were very difficult. Especially for coal power. During Obama’s Presidency, he led the EPA to declare that Carbon Dioxide should be regulated. This was later, upheld by the Supreme Court, the CO2 regulations, right or wrong, became the law of the land. Here is a short summary of how the “War on Coal” during the Clinton administration ratchetted up to becoming “The War on Carbon” and becoming lethal for American Energy Independence, the Fossil Power Plant Equipment Supply Chain & the Economic growth and prosperity that Energy Independence provides.
According the WSJ April 18, 2009, “In 1998, the Clinton administration EPA studied the question and determined that the Clean Air Act was “potentially applicable” to CO2 and other greenhouse gases. But despite continued pressure from environmental groups, the Clinton administration never moved to regulate the gases.
The EPA lumped carbon dioxide with five other gases — methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride — into a single class for regulatory purposes. That’s because they share similar properties: All are long-lived and well-mixed in the atmosphere; all trap heat that otherwise would leave the earth and go into outer space; and all are “directly emitted as greenhouse gases” rather than forming later in the atmosphere.”
According to the bulk of somewhat biased scientific research, such as that assembled by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the more greenhouse gases there are in the atmosphere, especially carbon dioxide, the more heat is trapped. That leads to rising temperatures. The EPA endorsed the (Politically Biased) IPCC research and specifically said that “natural variations” in climate, such as solar activity, couldn’t explain rising temperatures. For the record, I believe that global rising temperatures have mostly been from natural forces for thousands of years, even before the Ice Age. I am not a Climate Scientist, but there are many highly qualified well credentialed Climate Scientists that I agree with. Such as Professor Richard Lindzen, Judith Curry, Roy Spencer, John Christy, Steven Koonin and many more. Here below is an excerpt from Koonin’s book, “Unsettled, What Climate Science Tells Us and What it Doesn’t and Why it Matters”(18) His closing thoughts are in green font below:
Dr. Steven E. Koonin is a leader in science policy in the U.S. He served as Undersecretary for Science in the Dept. of Energy under President Obama.
“What we think we should do, in short, is begin by restoring integrity to the way science informs society’s decisions on climate and energy-we need to move from The Science back to science. And then take the steps most likely to result in positive outcomes for society, whatever the future might hold for our planet. As President Biden exhorted in his inaugural address, “We must reject the culture which facts themselves are manipulated, or even manufactured”
In my opinion, Dr. Koonin is correct, we should let science get back to science and that much of the huge volumes of research on manmade climate change has been politically inspired, not science inspired.
The current policy of “Net Zero Carbon” has been based on politically biased science and is driven by special interests, but not in the best interests of America.
Further, the Chinese for one country outside the U.S. have worked to influence alarm with American University students to go green. See reference below (10) where Professor Lindzen of MIT writes on China’s recent actions.
China is Fortifying Their Supply Chain, While We are Self-Inflicting Harm on Ours
The Weaponization of carbon became very effective during the Obama Administration. Interrupted by President Trump and then intensified under the Biden Administration. The path to harm the Fossil Power Systems and Fossil Power Production was ratcheting up to becoming more and more lethal. (Lethal to the Made in U.S.A. supply chain) Electricity prices were kept reasonable and the Greenhouse Gas emissions reduced during this time, thanks to the Shale Gas Revolution.
The Shale Gas Revolution Aids the War on Coal
As the War on Coal progressed, the public was insulated from electricity price rises due to enormous natural gas productivity and falling natural gas prices. The graph below shows the path of natural gas prices/million BTU’s from 2006-2012. Ultimately, gas prices dropped to levels below coal prices on a $/million Btu basis. This illustration was used for a training class I was involved with in 2012 to a coal plant staff to emphasize why excellence in O & M and best Heat-Rate operations were important for competitive power generation from coal. At the time, natural gas fueled power generation had suddenly became less expensive than coal. This is because in a Thermal-Power Plant, most of the electricity generation cost is for fuel. In GTCC (Gas Turbine Combined Cycle) plants the fuel cost component is about 90% of the production cost of electricity. Thus, doubling fuel cost/million Btu’s by itself nearly doubles the production cost of electricity. Conversely, halving the fuel cost nearly halves the production cost for electricity generation.
Also during this time Gas Turbine Combined Cycle Plant technology had improved to approach 65% Thermal Efficiency. The most efficient Heat-Engines in History. Thus, it appeared between 2010 and 2020 that America could wage war on carbon and enjoy economic prosperity including the lowest electricity costs in the world. We also had the largest drop in Carbon Dioxide emissions in the world. A 52% drop.
The following charts will illustrate the path from 2005 forward of reducing carbon emissions and keeping electricity prices reasonable.
First, fuel changes from coal to natural gas created drastic CO2 emissions, because natural gas generated electricity produces about 50% of the CO2 that coal fueled plants do.
Because electricity produced by natural gas creates about half the carbon dioxide as coal generated electricity, the first 50% reduction in Greenhouse Gases was painless. Low natural gas cost (Thanks to the Shale Gas Revolution) plus high efficiency GTCC plants provided this huge first step.
The increase in natural gas power production replaced coal power production. Together, coal, gas and nuclear still provide over 80% of our electricity. The chart above is 2004-2019. The one below is the actual (Dispatchable too!) generation across the U.S.A. in September-October of 2021:
The two pie charts of generation by Fuel (below) are from the Midwest Independent System Operator (MISOEnergy.com) and the PJM Interconnection (PJM.com) for January 26, 2022. Note the importance of coal power generation. Again, coal, nuclear and natural gas are providing over 80% of our nation’s electricity generation when it is most needed. Many of the coal plants providing this power are planed to be shut down in the next few years. They will be missed. Note reference(17) below, list of coal plants to be retired in the next few years.
AMERICA ACHIEVES ENERGY INDEPENDENCE IN 2019
The U.S. Supply Chain for Manufacturing Fossil Power Systems Equipment
Besides the importance of reliable, reasonable cost electricity, there is the Supply-Chain which we should all be concerned about.
The Supply Chain of Coal Plant Components includes thousands of tons of components. Once manufactured solely in the U.S.A., these components provided hundreds of thousands of jobs. For example, when I worked for B&W in 1969, B&W employed over 35,000 employees. Combustion-Engineering also employed over 35,000 employees. General Electric and Westinghouse Electric back then employed hundreds of thousands of employees. America was the world’s #1 manufacturer and this served our country very well. Take a look at the illustrations below of major coal plant components during construction.
A large clean coal plant involves tens of thousands of tons of steel manufacturing, seamless high alloy tubing, high pressure piping, hundreds of miles of copper wire, transformers, steam turbines, large pressure vessel manufacturing, pumps, heat exchangers, motors, generators and many other components. Manufacturing of these components involves hundreds of thousands of jobs for skilled engineers, technicians and craftsmen. The Supply-Chain is very large and spreads all across the U.S.A. Here below is a list of the suppliers to the Turk Plant. This is from the POWER Magazine article.
We stopped building large coal plants about 2014. With that comes a withering and loss of our productive manufacturing capacity. Recently, our Supply-Chain woes have been in the news. My friends ask me, How could we invent computer chips and then lose the capability to produce them here in the U.S.? How about steel tubing, steel shapes, aluminum, Rare Earth minerals and EV components? Pharmaceuticals? Where do most of these come from now? Most, come from China. China is the World’s largest manufacturer, so it seems reasonable to accept the published data that shows China using more energy than any other country.
China Energy Consumption, compared to the Rest of the World
Meanwhile, China is Getting a Lot of Practice in Building Large Coal Power Plants, All of the Equipment Involved and Many Other Products…..
Boston University has a web site that tracks China Coal Plants:
In my life-time I saw America as the top Industrialized Country of the world. We shared our wealth and technologies with other countries in good faith. Then for whatever reasons, the people of great influence, mostly from the American Democrat Party, sought to weaken our productive capacity and to cede that capacity to the Chinese Communist Party. The Mainstream News, Entertainment and most Democrats have all been part of this transfer of productive capacity and with that productive capacity comes influence in the world.
It is my hope that sometime soon, our President and Congress will wake up and see the importance of energy to power our economy. The U.S. Senate Report, “Europe’s Energy Crisis, A Warning to America” should be read by all elected officials.(15) The other references below are also informative.
Dick Storm, January 30, 2022
- How Carbon Dioxide Became a Pollutant, April 18, 2009, WSJ : https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB124001537515830975
- COP-26 Climate Conference article, Oct. 30, 2021, WSJ : https://www.wsj.com/articles/cop26-climate-summit-consensus-is-sought-after-decades-of-false-starts-11635598801?cx_testId=3&cx_testVariant=cx_2&cx_artPos=5&mod=WTRN#cxrecs_s
- John W. Turk Power Plant wins POWER Magazines highest honor for clean coal: https://www.powermag.com/aeps-john-w-turk-jr-power-plant-earns-powers-highest-honor/
- Longview, Rehabilitated Coal Power Plant Most Efficient in U.S. POWER Magazine, August 2016: https://www.powermag.com/longview-power-plant-rehabilitation-results-efficient-u-s-coal-plant/ https://www.powermag.com/longview-power-plant-rehabilitation-results-efficient-u-s-coal-plant/
- China to Build 43 new coal plants, “Time” August 2021: https://time.com/6090732/china-coal-power-plants-emissions/
- China could build more coal plants even after Xi promises not to, Bloomberg Oct 2021: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-10-27/climate-cop26-china-could-build-new-coal-plants-overseas-even-after-xi-pledge
- China’s Coal Plant Capacity More than 3 X the Rest of the World’s, Reuters, Feb 2021China’s new coal power plant capacity in 2020 more than three times rest of world’s: study:https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-coal/chinas-new-coal-power-plant-capacity-in-2020-more-than-three-times-rest-of-worlds-study-idUSKBN2A308U
- Hassyan Power Plant in Dubai: https://www.nsenergybusiness.com/projects/hassyan-coal-fired-power-plant-dubai/
- Hassyan Power Plant ACWA Power web page: https://acwapower.com/en/projects/hassyan-ipp/
- China Warming, Tablet Magazine by Richard Lindzen, October 19, 2021: https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/science/articles/china-warming-richard-lindzen
- EPA Progress in Cleaning our Air: https://gispub.epa.gov/air/trendsreport/2019/#growth_w_cleaner_air
- Mid America Independent System Operations, MISO Energy: https://www.misoenergy.org
- PJM Interconnection, Independent System Dispatch of Electric Power for much of the Northeast and west to Chicago: https://www.pjm.com
- Boston University Global Development Policy Center: https://www.bu.edu/cgp/
- U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Report; “Europe’s Energy Crisis, A Warning to America”: https://www.energy.senate.gov/services/files/2D862C16-4157-4A39-9CCE-098B5C818C01?mc_cid=d94787db9d&mc_eid=9e46528ac6
- Donn Dears Book, “NET-ZERO CARBON, The CLIMATE POLICY DESTROYING” AMERICA: https://amzn.to/31j7vMh
- Reuters, List of Coal Plants Scheduled to be shut down: https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/us-coal-fired-power-plants-scheduled-shut-2021-10-28/
- Steven E. Koonin, “Unsettled, WHAT CLIMATE SCIENCE TELLS US,WHAT IT DOESN’T, ANDWHY IT MATTERS” 2021, BenBella Books, Inc.