It is well documented that China is the world’s largest manufacturer of just about everything. This manufacturing might requires a lot of energy and electricity generation to power it. I first became concerned about the loss of American manufacturing (and jobs) with NAFTA in the 1990’s when my state of North Carolina lost most of the furniture and textile manufacturing. Then, after China entered the WTO (about 2001), the loss of American aluminum (and other industries) became very personal with me. I had worked as a Field Service engineer/Consultant on coal and oil power generation all around the world for ALCOA for 35 years (1977-2012). ALCOA during the 1980’s was the world’s largest alumina and aluminum manufacturer. After China was admitted to the WTO (World Trade Organization) the CCP promptly ramped up their aluminum production from insignificant production in the year 2000 to over 50% of world capacity by 2012. They produced aluminum at very low cost and then sold aluminum ingot (some would say, Dumped) on the London Metal Exchange. The figure below is from a Dick Storm presentation in 2016. The production data is from the International Aluminum Association and the WSJ. My Blog post in Feb. 2021 outlined some of my personal experiences in working for the power plant which powered the massive ALCOA Rockdale Smelting Works in Rockdale, TX.
At about this time, Alcoa was reducing capacity & shutting down refining and smelting capacity. (including the Rockdale Works). I gave a presentation to the (PA) Delaware County Bar Association in 2016 wherin I used my experiences of working with ALCOA to make my point on the importance of reasonable cost, abundant and reliable energy to create jobs and economic prosperity. Local manufacturing and providing high paying jobs ultimately leads to improving Real-Estate markets. Perhaps this is abtract, but that is how I saw it from 1990- 2016.
Then in 2020 I wrote on my Blog regarding the Rise of China and my concerns for American competitiveness. The Blog in 2020 combined my personal experiences of working several decades for ALCOA plus two OLLI courses given at USCB. One course on the “Rise of China” was presented by retired U.S. Army General Craig Whelden and the other on the “Rise, Fall and Rise again of Nations” of the world, presented by Retired Navy Intelligence Officer, Captain Greg Blackburn. So, after thinking about my personal past experiences and then combining the information provided in the OLLI courses, I thought it would be timely to update the energy and electricity generation capacities of China as compared to the U.S.A. I chose to focus on the extreme increase of aluminum production in China (at the expense of U.S. production) because huge amounts of electricity are needed to produce aluminum. Aluminum, of the commonly used metals, requires the greatest amount of electricity to produce. Aluminum smelting requires about 5 kWh per pound of smelted aluminum ingot from alumina powder. Note on the chart below, the growth in electricity generation capacity of China since 2010. This growth was used to increase manufacturing capacity including aluminum production, as noted above.
Most of the electricity generation is from coal as shown on the EIA chart above.
Comparing China’s fuel use for electricity production (above) to the U.S.A. (below). This is an overview of energy and electricity generation capacity in the U.S.A. in 2021 with natural gas being the largest fuel source.
U.S. Has Shut Down Over 102,000 MW of Coal Plants Since 2010
The U.S. has aggressively shut down hundreds of coal power plants and replaced most of the lost generating capacity with natural gas fuel. This was possible as a result of the “Shale Gas Revolution” which produced enormous amounts of natural gas after the perfection of Directional Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing which became commercial about 2010. The two graphs of fuels used for U.S. electric power production are shown below.
China Uses More Than 50% of the World’s Coal Fuel
Comparing China’s coal consumption to the world, we have the graph below. In actuality, China consumes more than 50% of the world’s coal production. This chart is provided by the IEA.
You may say, “So What?” Well, China, Russia and the United Nations are all in agreement that the U.S. and the rest of the western world, the Free World, should stop using Fossil Fuels. Meanwhile, Russia and China are profiting and expanding their influence by using the very fuels that the U.N. and the MSM, WEF and others have decided are harmful for the planet. I will just leave it there for you to decide the U.N. and Environmental Extremists motives for Demonizing Carbon use by the Western World. The top sixteen “Influencers” are identified on my Blog of January 4th. A good friend commented that I forgot to list Al Gore as one of the primary influencers, so perhaps the number should be 17 for top ranked individuals and organizational influencers. No matter the number, they have harmed America’s competitiveness and productive manufacturing capacity.
World CO2 Emissions by Country
Carbon Footprint by Country
According to the European Union‘s Joint Research Centre, total global CO2 emissions increased from 34.1 GT in 2010 to 37.9 GT—an all-time high—in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic and its related restrictions on travel and transportation triggered a decrease to 35.962 GT in 2020, but emissions are expected to resume increasing once 2021 totals become available. China is the largest emitter of CO2 in the world, with 11680 Mt (11.680 GT) of carbon dioxide emissions in 2020. This is just over 32% of the world’s total 2020 emissions. The United States released the second-highest amount of carbon emissions at 4.535 GT, or roughly 12.6% of the total global emissions.
Top 10 CO2-emitting countries in the world (Total CO2 in Mt) – EU JRC 2020
Total emissions, however, fall short of telling the full story. For example, sharp-eyed observers may notice that the top three emitters are also three of the most populous countries on Earth that also have the largest manufacturing capacity. So it stands to reason that their emissions would be higher than that of countries with a fraction as many residents and less manufacturing.
China’s Planned Future Electricity Generation
To China’s credit, unlike the U.S. they have a rational path forward to transition toward a reduced carbon energy future. However, until the 150 new nuclear plants are completed and increased renewables are installed, China is forging ahead with plenty of conventional generation capacity. As you can see from the aforementioned information, China currently has 2,390 GW of electric generating capacity and the U.S. about 1,200 GW.
China’s Most Recent Announcement of A Major Power Plant Expansion, A 16 GW Wind-Solar and Coal Plant
This was reported in this month’s (Jan. 2023) edition of POWER Magazine: China talks a good game on being “Green” and promoting renewables. The facts are that China’s leaders clearly believe in “A Balanced Generation Portfolio”. Not a bad approach for any country. Let’s get back to China’s latest Press Release:
“A massive, multibillion-dollar renewable and fossil-fuel energy project is underway in China. The installation, being built by China Three Gorges (CTG), includes wind, solar, energy storage and coal-fired power generation.
Ground was broken for the first pilot of the Kubuqi Base project in Dalate Banner, Ordos, Inner Mongolia on Dec. 28, 2022, according to Chinese media. Kubuqi represents an investment of 80 billion yuan ($11.6 billion). Reports said the installation will eventually have 8 GW of solar power capacity, along with 4 GW of wind power, and 4 GW of coal-fired generation, in addition to energy storage.
“The Kubuqi Base project is the world’s largest wind [and] photovoltaic base project developed and constructed in … desert areas,” CTG said in a statement. The company said it wants to build “the Three Gorges on the Great Wall,” which is apparently a reference to CTG’s major 22.5-GW hydropower project on the Yangtze River, the world’s largest hydro installation and largest power plant of any kind by power generation capacity.”
The capacity of 16,000 MW’s is huge. However, to put it into Reality and perspective, China currently has about 2,390 GW’s of installed electricity generation capacity.
In February 2022, China had 2,390 GW of installed capacity. This is comprised of 17% Hydroelectric, 14 % Wind, 14% Solar and 5% Natural Gas and 2% nuclear, Coal Power generates over 2/3 of China’s electricity. Keeping in mind that Nameplate capacity is not the same as actual generation through the year. China plans to install over 3,000 GW of total generation capacity by 2025. The U.S. by comparison is about 1,200 GW.
The total electricity generation (for China) by fuel from 1990 to 2020 is shown below. This is from the IEA statistics:
Coal is widely used in China for generating electricity, despite the country’s rapid growth of renewable energy in recent years.
According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, coal accounted for 56% of the country’s total energy consumption in 2021. The ratio signifies a continuous decline from more than 70% in the mid-2000s. Nevertheless, the absolute level of China’s coal use has continued to rise.
Two important metals are steel and aluminum. The best data available shows that China produces more than 50% of both the steel and aluminum needed by the people of the world. This production requires large amounts of primary energy, which for China means, mostly coal fuel.
China’s carbon dioxide emissions are the largest in the world, about 33% of the world total in 2022.
China has a Rational Energy Policy to increase conventional generation as they move toward reduced carbon production of electricity, including 150 planned new nuclear power plants. China is not sacrificing manufacturing capacity or competitiveness like the U.S. and the rest of the Free World.
China is likely to remain the world’s largest manufacturer of aluminum and steel for the foreseeable future.
American leaders seem to be tone death on the importance of energy to keep America strong.
I thought the summary above would be useful for anyone interested is comparing the energy policies of the U.S. to those in China. In addition to the information provided above, some additional references are provided below for further reading and research.
Yours very truly,
Dick Storm, January 18, 2023
References and links for additional reading and research
The impossibility of achieving Net Zero Carbon by 2050
This is a follow up to my last post: “Influencers of American Energy Policy” The purpose of the January 4th post was to outline “who” influenced the current American Energy Policy and how the “War on Carbon” advanced to reckless, un-American government policies to reach the unobtainable goal of Net Zero Carbon by 2050. A decarbonization path removing 80%+ of the conventional energy we depend on without an engineered transition plan to replace either the conventional electric power generation capacity or the fuels for transportation, cooking, heating, industrial production, commercial enterprises and our high HDI (Human Development Index). If carbon free power is to be achieved and our economy and quality of life is to be sustatained, then a major investment in nuclear is needed. As it stands now, there is No government Energy Policy, only a Decarbonization and anti-nuclear policy, thanks to the heavy influence of Environmental Extremists. Since 2010 over 102,000 MW of reliable coal and nuclear generation capacity has been shut down. It has not been replaced with new HELE coal plants nor with no startups yet of any new nuclear plants. The shutdowns are equivalent to more than 40 power plants the size of the Robert Moses Hydroelectric plant at Niagara Falls. And the MSM reports that the reason for Blackouts was unseasonable cold and too much electricity use for heat-pumps and electric heating. What caused Rolling Blackouts over Christmas week? My answer is because there was too much reliable coal generation shut down and retired, without replacing that capacity in new plants! It is not that I alone am concerned, see July NERC Reliability report which also warned of diminishing reserve capacity. Also, compounding the problem of minimum maintenance on the existing coal fleet. Why? Because Utility executives expect the coal plants to be required to be shut down anyway, such as the (another energy incompetent lawyer making public policy) NC Governor Roy Cooper’s Clean Power Plan.
Replacing 100% of reliable coal and nuclear capacity with wind and solar is not possible.
I personally gave a presentation to the August 4th ENERUM Conference in Columbus, Ohio where I cautioned the audience on the inability of wind and solar to replace the generation from prematurely retiring of coal plants based on my own obervations and experience in the industry.
The principal reference that I have used below is from Mr. Donn Dears latest book, “Clean Energy Crisis”. Donn Dears has written numerous books and on his Blog “Power for the U.S.A.” on the topics of Energy, Environmental Regulations, The Looming Electricity Generation Crisis, Net Zero Carbon, Electric Vehicles and the facts on carbon dioxide’s impact on the planet. At the end of this post I have included over 100 references for further reading that support both Mr. Dears and my belief (also many other climate scientists and power engineers agree) that America truly does have a Clean Energy Crisis and that America has a (to borrow a WSJ headline) self-sabotaged Electric Grid. This is being done by the people and organizations written about in my January 4th Blog post. The WSJ also has chronicled some of the failures of green energy.
In “Clean Energy Crisis” much of the reasearch and facts previously described by Mr. dears and documented in his books and his excellent Blog, “Power for the U.S.A. These facts and information are condensed and summarized in a little over 100 pages. Here are some of the facts and thoughts from from “Clean Energy Crisis”.
What it Will it Take To Achieve Net Zero Carbon Bulk Electric Power Generation by 2050
For an energy engineer or anyone trained and experienced in energy and electric power generation, it is absurd to believe that renewables can replace fossil fuels. For example, here is what Dears suggests as a generation portfolio in 2050 that has no natural gas or coal power generation. It will take……..
Wind– 995,141 Wind Turbines of 2.5 MW each
Solar 3,918,996 MW (this is 139,964 MW each year)
Nuclear 881 new nuclear power plants, which is 31 per year for every year from 2022-2050
For anyone involved in electricity generation the numbers shown above for Wind, Solar and Nuclear will instantly appear unachievable due to the intermittancy & the low energy density of wind and solar. The land area required for solar and wind will be immense. Doug Houseman, Principal Consultant at 1898 Consulting Division of Burns & McDonnell has provided his insight here on a LinkedIn post.
Nuclear, the most energy dense fuel, is the most proven provider of reliable, affordable Base load Bulk Power electricity generation. Nuclear power generation, in fact, has provided about 20% of America’s electricity for decades. For my state of SC over 50% of the total electricity is generated by four nuclear power plants. However, the building of 31 new plants nationwide, every year from 2022 till 2050 is simply not possible with the current workforce, manufacturing capacity, Federal regulations and numerous supply chain limitations. For those not familiar with primary energy and electricity production/generation a short overview is provided below. There is a lot of catching up to do to install reliable new power plants to replace the over 102,000 MW that has been shut down. Also, a lot of new power plants to produce the needed new power generation required for EV charging, hydrogen production and population growth. By 2050 the U.S. Population may exceed 438 million citizens. If everything is “Electrified” as some suggest, the electrification will not be from wind and solar. It is impossible for the Green New Deal to work.
What Fuels are used for the Currently Installed Bulk Electricity Generating Capacity Now? Here is What Powers America Now:
Electricity generation uses about 37% of the Primary Energy (see LLNL chart below) used by the U.S. Therefore, if much more expansion of EV use for transportation, home heating, cooking and other current uses of primary energy are transitioned from natural gas, gasoline, Diesel, Jet Fuel, etc, to being powered by electriciity, (are you ready to board electric or hydrogen powered airliners?) then the electric generation capacity will will need to be drastically increased. Also, by 2050 the U.S. population is projected to be up to about 438 million. The new citizens will want and should have high quality lives as we enjoy now. Like Donn Dears, I am interested in the future of America for our grandchildren and for future generations of Americans, which according the the Census Statistitions, will be more citizens in 2050.
1,143,757 MW of Installed Generation by Fuel in U.S.-2021: From EIA website. Note the numbers below express “Nameplate Capacity” This is not the same as actual generation, that will be discussed further down in the post.
Electricity Generation by Fuels, Now
The data above shows installed capacity in 2021 by “Nameplate” rating. The actual electricity generation for the Grid is accomplished by the most affordable fuels that are available at a given time. Those of us that have worked in the electric power industry know this as “Economic Dispatch” That means the lowest cost generation is selected to run at the highest possible capacity so that electric power production can be accomplished for the lowest overall cost to the consumers. Fuel alone constitutes about 90% of the production cost for a gas turbine combined cycle plant. So, if fuel costs double, so does the production cost of electricity.
Note: For the peak load which is highlighted, this is 80% Dispatchable Bulk Power provided by Natural Gas, Coal and Nuclear. Total electricity generation on Dec. 21st at the peak was 627,323 MW. Of that total, 221,648 MW was from gas, 132,423 MW was from coal and 92,397 MW was from nuclear power. Over 80% generation from conventional fuels.
Wind and Solar at peak shown above were 7% of the total generation mix. Not a forecast or guess. Just fact.
Wind and solar groups actively undermine grid reliability
This is excerpted from the “American Experiment.org” in Minnesota. This is regarding XCEL Energy’s plans to shut down the 2,238 MW Sherburne County Coal Plant in 2024. The below is quoted from the “American Experiment”.
“Adding new power plant capacity is fraught with challenges, especially if that power plant is supposed to be reliable.
For example, in Minnesota, Xcel Energy announced it would shut down all three units at the massive 2,238 MW Sherburne County (Sherco) generating station beginning next year for Sherco 2 (680 MW), Sherco 1 in 2026 (680 MW), and Sherco 3 (876 MW) by 2030.
Xcel’s original plan was to replace the retiring coal units with an 800 MW combined-cycle natural gas plant to maintain reliability, but the company caved to wind and solar special interest groups who, wrongly, argued the plant was not necessary for reliability.
Instead of building more reliable natural gas capacity, these groups, consisting of Fresh Energy, the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, the Clean Grid Alliance, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the Minnesota Citizens Utility Board, argued the company should instead pursue wind, solar, battery storage, and limiting people’s access to electricity through LMRs, which seek to solve the problem of renewable unreliability by reducing electricity demand instead of providing adequate reliable power.
It was a textbook example of how these groups are willing to sacrifice reliability for more renewables.”
As outlined in my January 4th Blog post, what is stated by the “American Experiment” is typical across the U.S.A. The results of the shutdowns of reliable coal plants should not be unexpected……
Rolling Blackouts, Christmas Week, 2022 Tennessee and North Carolina
Yes, Christmas brought Rolling Blackouts to two well respected and well run Utilities, Duke Energy and TVA. Why? In my view, it was forced by environmental extremists that have influenced the Clean Power Plan in NC and the National Net-Zero Carbon Policy of the government to incentivize more wind and solar and the shutting down of reliable coal plants by TVA. Here is the testimony of a representative of a large Industrial customer of Duke Energy and his OpEd in a local NC Newspaper:
N.C. Utilities Commission Testimony of Bradford Muller of Charlotte Pipe and Foundry:
The PRIMARY AND SECONDARY ENERGY that We Depend On:
Electricity and Hydrogen are forms of Secondary Energy. Primary energy must be used to create them. Forms of primary energy are natural gas, coal, nuclear, hydro, wood (Biomass), MSW Municipal Solid waste, wind and solar. I showed the U.S. Grid generation during Christmas week 2022 above. This was for electricity generation and on the chart are the forms of primary energy used to generate the electricty that was needed (called Demand). The chart below shows America’s use of just short of 100 Quadrillion BTUs of energy during the entire year 2021. This includes energy flows for all forms of energy from source to end use. I think it is the best graphic to show the energy needs of the U.S. in one illustration. Energy is expressed in British Thermal Units (Btus) and all forms are converted to Btus for comparison. For example, wind & solar power of 1 kWh is equivalent to 3,412.6 Btus. Thus, all forms of energy are depicted on the chart, including renewables in their BTU equivalence.
The title of this post is, “The Impossibility of Achieving Net Zero Carbon by 2050”. One way to visualize the impossibility of replacing conventional primary energy with wind and solar is to study the LLNL energy flow chart above. Note that after decades of subsidies (since Jimmy Carter’s National Energy Policy Act of 1978) for solar and wind, less than 5% of our total primary energy was produced by wind and solar for the entire year. Also note the U.S. Grid chart of actual generation by fuel for Christmas week, 7% of the total electricity generation was from wind or solar at the peak load point that I referenced.
It will be impossible to sustain the American economy and our life styles without about 0.8 million Btus per person per day. This aggregates to about 100 Quadrillion Btus of annual primary energy use total. It is important to specify Primary Energy. Those who promote electrifying everything or using hydrogen for transportation are performing a disservice by promising mythical power that must be produced by a form of Primary energy. Electricity and hydrogen do not occur naturally in nature, they must be produced using primary energy.
Replacing the approx 80% of our primary energy now provided by Fossil Fuels with wind and solar is not possible today and without immediate and extreme technological advances it will not be possible by 2050.
Nuclear energy as a primary fuel, could provide a huge portion of (secondary energy) electricity and hydrogen. However, building 31+ nuclear plants/year is simply not possible. Why? because of manufacturing supply chain limitations plus a lack of a trained workforce of engineers & craftsmen. The workforce and supply chain will need to be rebuilt, literally starting at Middle School training, as many of the workforce that built the existing nuclear fleet are retired or in other forms of work.
The Perpetrators of the misguided “Demonization of the Fuels we depend on, deserves most of the blame. However, the cause of the decline in energy independence and electric reliability is spread widely as outlined in my January 4th post. Regional Transmission Operators and cut throat pricing exaserbated by subsidized renewables contributes to the problem. Meredith Angwin, an energy expert has outlined other problems of Grid Reliability. Here is a LinkedIn post on her book, “Shorting the Grid”.
There is no transition plan for “Decarbonization”. Only ever increasing regulations to force the shut down of reliable coal plants with no viable replacements. Over 102,000 MW of reliable coal and nuclear plants have been shut down since 2010. These have been (at least some thought capacity was replaced) replaced in “Nameplate” capacity with natural gas, wind and solar. The Rolling Blackouts over Christmas week are the result of shutting too much reliable coal and nuclear generation down over the last few years. A true transition plan would include replacing existing older designs with new HELE ( High Efficiency Low Emission) coal plants. A major (600 MW or larger) new coal plant has not been build in the U.S. since 2013.
The people that truly understand energy and electricity know that replacing fossil fuels and nuclear with wind and solar is impossible by 2050, if ever. The problem as I see it, is that energy engineers and others trained and experienced in energy and electricity production are in a small minority of the U.S. and the world’s population. I estimate in the U.S. less than 3% of the total population understands energy and electricity generation. However, the majority of the U.S. and world citizens have been scared into believing carbon and nuclear energy is evil. How? By one very effective disinformation campaign by the MSM, WEF, the United Nations, wealthy Billionaires and government agencies. The policies of Environmental Extremism are about power over the people, not about saving the planet.
Some who read this post will disagree with me. That is expected because of the very effective work of the aforementioned organizations to demonize carbon and nuclear. This has been anticipated and below there are more than 100 reference links to support my conclusions, Most of these have not been reported fairly in the MSM so the original links are shown on this blog so that any one who disagrees is welcome to form your own opinion by reading and studying the references provided. Thank you for your attention to this important topic.
Dick Storm, January 10, 2023
Suggested for further reading and reference. Many of the references are related to Climate Science, sea level rise and Anthropogenic Global Warming. However, the focus is on keeping America Energized!
Dick Storm presentations at ENERUM, August 2022, Columbus, Ohio. These presentations are posted on the WESCOM website, Link to Dick Storm ENERUM Presentations and Podcast Oct. 2022: https://linktr.ee/wescominc
Professor Vaclav Smil quote: (Smil is a prolific author on energy issues and lives in Canada)I absolutely hate the word sustainability because there is no such thing. Sustainability cannot be defined. Sustainable for what? Over next year? Over 10 years? Over a millennium? On a local basis, on a planetary basis? I mean, there are so many time and space dimensions to it you cannot define what is sustainable. If somebody is boasting what they are doing is sustainable, it’s a total laugh. There is no sustainable thing.
America has foolish Decarbonization policies, now codified by our government. The U.S. Energy Policy amounts to No Energy Policy at all. It is absurd and unbelievable that such a great country as ours could enact such harmful policies. But, the U.S. Congress did. It is fair to ask, how could this come to be? The purpose of this post is to expose some of the organizations and people who have put America in Harm’s Way with Energy Insufficiency. The greatest country in the world may in fact be faced with energy & electricity rationing if Congress does not act.
The sixty year journey of American Energy Policy fits my career. I started in the Power Generation business in 1962 upon graduation from Williamson. I retired in 2012 and after retirement have kept up with the energy and electricity generation business as an instructor to the USCB-OLLI program and I have been a speaker to schools, colleges and civic clubs on the topic of energy and electricity generation. Kindly allow me to review some of the highlights of the past six decades, from my own experiences as a coal power engineer, supervisor and eventually, engineering services company president. This is my story on energy and electricity generation from my own experiences.
During the 1960’s coal power provided over 50% of the fuel for electricity generation. Nuclear power was just beginning (I started work for B&W in the nuclear Division in 1965). Admiral Rickover’s gift of Nuclear power generation was heralded as leading to “Electricity that will be too Cheap to Meter”. Coal will no longer be used in the future…… was the common beliefs in 1965. In 1966, I transferred to the B&W Power Generation Division which designed and built coal, oil, and gas fueled boilers. Why? Because I did not like the enormous burden of paperwork required by the AEC and DOD. I decided I would study, work hard and learn as much as I could to be the best at fossil power generation that I could be, where there were fewer regulations. I thought, at least some of the coal boilers built in the 1960’s and 70’s would still be running when it was time to retire. (I was right)
The EPA begins in 1970 and coal plant stack emissions begin a long successful program of cleanup. When in 1972 I led the startup of CP&L’s 420 MW, Sutton #3 in Wilmington, NC, both Oil and coal fuel were about $0.50/million Btu’s. Because of the similar fuel cost of oil and coal, many Utilities faced with restricted emission limits on particulates and sulfur by the new EPA, changed fuels from coal to oil to reduce pollution. That was OK until….
Then in 1973 the Arab Oil Embargo is experienced and those of us that lived through those years remember the gas lines, stock market drop and Utilities that could not raise Capital for new plants. They were tough financial times in the energy world and for all Americans.
Jimmy Carter becomes President after the Arab Oil Embargo and he makes Energy Security a centerpiece of his Administration. In 1978, Carter introduced the National Energy Act, which established energy goals, specifically reducing the nation’s dependency on oil and increasing the use of renewable resources, such as solar energy. The Cabinet level position heading the Department of Energy, eventually grows to a Bureaucracy of over 15,000 employees. The goal of the new Department of Energy that I recall was to “Create Energy Independence” for America. A worthy goal with merit!
During the years following Jimmy Carter’s Presidency and enactment of the National Energy Act, many coal power plants were built to use America’s treasure of coal energy. Power generating units got larger, and larger until they reached the level of the magnificent 1,300 MW B&W Supercritical Units at TVA Cumberland and AEP Mountaineer, Zimmer and others. Later, these highly efficient supercritical plants were equipped with the latest stack clean up gear. Combustion Engineering also built large magnificent supercritical coal plants up to about 900 MW. Also designing and building Utility scale boilers were Foster-Wheeler and Riley Stoker. I worked for Riley as a startup engineer from 1969-1973. Then I joined CP&L as a senior engineer and later was promoted to Operations Superintendent at the 2,500 MW Roxboro Steam Plant in 1977.
The years 1962 until my retirement were exciting and I had the pleasure of knowing and working with many brilliant engineers (such as Mendall Long of CP&L , Bill McCall of Santee-Cooper and Bill Lee of Duke) They each led their teams of engineers to implement their vision to produce electricity at ever more affordable prices and at the same time, reduce emissions. The U.S. economy grew, pollution was reduced, power costs dropped relative to the increased cost of living. They were good times to be involved in power generation and I was Blessed to have had a long and productive career during that fifty-year period 1962-2012.
Then things changed. Instead of priorities of producing reasonable cost power, many groups & politicians began to demonize the very fuels that built our great country. (Fossil fuels and nuclear still provide over 87% of our Primary Energy). This post is to highlight some of the major players that are, in my viewpoint, the Root Cause of foolish energy policies that are harming and hastening the decline of our great country. Someone before me said “Energy=Life” I think it was Vaclav Smil. Here is my story of how this energy crisis came to be, based on my personal 60 years of being interested and involved in energy and electricity production.
The references I have used are open sources, easily verified for accuracy. However, few of the details listed in my references (over 180 links at the end of this post) have been reported in the Main Stream Media. The purpose of this post, is to expose those who have had the most influence on weakening America’s Energy Supply.
Here are My Nominations of the Top Sixteen Organizations and Individuals that have Put the U.S. in “Harm’s Way” concerning Energy Security
The “War on Carbon” has been around since at least 1998. My first concern of EPA over-reach was on “New Source Review” issues. On performance improvement upgrades of existing coal plants to improve capacity and reduce emissions, the Utility companies that I worked with were threatened (and some prosecuted) by NSR (New Source Review) I thought it was ludicrous because the improvement we had either proposed or implemented imroved efficiency. Since then NSR has been ramped up in intensity and hundreds of coal plants shut down. Over 100,000 MW’s of generating capacity. For those who may read this that are not involved in the power industry, let me provide a comparison to the Robert Moses Hydroelectric Plant at Niagara Falls. That plant has a reliable water flow from most of the rainfall and rivers feeding all of the Great Lakes. The size of the Niagara Falls Power Station on the U.S. side is about 2,500 MW’s generation capacity. Therefore, to replace the 102,600 MW of coal and nuclear plants shut down since 2010 would require the equivalent of over 40 new plants each with the output of Niagara Falls. This is, as Michelle Bloodworth of America’s Power put it in her Commentary in the January issue of POWER Magazine, “Are we headed for a Reliability Train Wreck”?
The EPA has become even more extreme in their effectiveness to shut down reliable coal plants. In addition, incentives for wind and solar have forced exceptional competitive burdens on coal and nuclear units by the tax dollar incentivizing of renewable electricity onto the Grid when it is intermittently available, thus driving down capacity factors of coal generation. I hate to use the term “Death Spiral”, but in essence that is what has been forced on the coal power generation industry by lucrative incentives for intermittent wind and solar generation. Further incentives (through the Inflation Reduction Act) of “Green Energy” will make the Grid less reliable. It will be difficult to change or correct because accountability is spread so widely. The harm to reliability has been documented by NERC (North American Electric Reliability Corp.) Many others including myself have written numerous other posts (in Donn Dear’s case, several books) on the need for a Rational Energy Policy. The Myths of wind and solar to power America on a Net-Zero Carbon path without conventional fossil and nuclear fueled plants to carry Base Load and to provide Dispatchable backup electricity generation is well documented. Energy experts, such as Donn Dears & Vaclav Smil have written numerous books and Blog posts on the dangers of following the Net-Zero Carbon path. In spite of the excellent work by many to report the true benefits of using the Treasure of Energy the U.S. has within our borders, our country is on a dangerous path of restricting the use of fossil fuels. To say it is absurd is a gross understatement.
Let’s get to the top influencers. These are my opinions and mine alone. However, at the end of this Blog, I will provide at least one hundred eighty references for further reading and you can decide for yourself the importance of energy and who were or are the top influencers of harmful and un-American energy policies. My choices for the top honors in weakening America follow:
Barack Obama. Under his administration the EPA was Weaponized to effectively attack Coal plants. His policies were very effective (Harmful is a better word). The last clean coal plants to startup in the U.S. was about 2013. Turk,Longview and Cliffside #6 were the three last new (600 MW or larger) coal plants in the U.S. that I am aware.
Gina McCarthy An important person of the “War on Carbon”, she was Obama’s EPA Chief then with NRDC (NRDC-Action Fund) and Biden’s Climate Advisor until resigning in sept 2022. She was replaced by John Podesta, who may turn out to be worse than McCarthy.
Sierra Club Has led a very successful public smear campaign against coal plants and publicized their “War on Coal” as the “Beyond Coal” Publicity Campaign. They have bragged on their website and in publications on the number of coal plants they have stopped from being built or shut down. They are (or at least were) also against natural gas and nuclear plants. Sierra Club (as well as other extremist groups) has Millions of dollars in assets and is continually funded by U.S. Billionaires as well as other sources.
Natural Resources Defense Council like the Sierra Club has had a War on Coal for many years. It was the employer of EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy between her service (I use the word service loosely) in government between the Obama and Biden Administrations. Well funded and the NRDC has enormous financial assets.
John Podesta Now Biden’s Green Investment Czar, he was previously employed as Chief of Staff for Bill Clinton when the “War on Coal” began during the Clinton Presidency years, then Podesta was associated with Hillary Clinton during her years as Secretary of State when the Uranium One Deal was made to sell American Uranium assets to the Russians. Podesta was also involved in a business relationship with a Russian influenced company, Joule Unlimited. Now Podesta has replaced Gina McCarthy as the Whitehouse coordinator in spending the $370 Billion dollars approved by Congress to be spent on Green energy.
John Kerry Appointed special presidential envoy for climate creating a new Bureacracy. He is at a cabinet-level position. Mr. Kerry has traveled on private jets around the world promoting the war on carbon. He does this as energy prices have soared, citizens of the world have experienced wars, blackouts, industrial plant shutdowns, food scarcity, fertilizer shortages and inflation. John Kerry sees his “War on Carbon” as more important than “World Peace” Kerry doesn’t need money, but he has been accused of being associated with Green Groups.
Michael Bloomberg Successful business man and a Billionaire. He has generously funded the Sierra Club to fight coal plants.
Jeff Bezos Like Bloomberg, Bezos has funded the Sierra Club and other Environmental Extremists to fight coal plants.
Klaus Schwab Not that well known by the general public, but he is the Founder of the World Economic Forum and yes, they too have waged a war on carbon.
Anthony Guterres The United Nations Secretary General. He is a Socialist and has done an effective effort of leading the signers of the Paris Climate Change Agreement to Decarbonize the Free World. Note, he has done little or nothing to stop the Russia-Ukraine War or apply pressure on the world’s largest CO2 emitter, China, but he continues to push Decarbonization to the Free Western (Capitalist) world.
Michael Regan- EPA Administrator. Regan has been the secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality since 2017. Before then, he worked on clean energy initiatives for the Environmental Defense Fund, a national environmental advocacy group. Regan returned to the agency where he spent much of his early career.
Environmental Defense Fund The current EPA head of Air Quality Joe Goffman was employed here before becoming a high level official at the U.S.-EPA He has been a mastermind on crafting legislation to codify the war on coal.
Joe Goffman- Assistant EPA Administrator, An activist lawyer that has been involved in forming legislation and rules against coal plants for years, before employment with EPA he was employed by the Environmental Defense Fund.
Jennifer Granholm Secretary of Energy. Here is an excerpt of her speech to the Europeans March 2022 of where she stands on energy policy: “Let me be clear though: We are playing catch up with Germany! Although the U.S. may make different choices in how we approach our own energy transition, you and other EU parties have already made some incredible progress.Germany has slashed greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels, and supercharged their clean energy output.Last year, Germany generated almost 50 percent of their electricity through renewables—more than all fossil fuels combined. These are the kinds of results we need to replicate here in the U.S.“ Note Secretary Granholm’s last line copied above, should be read and then also compare her statement with the reality of the recent energy struggles and de-Industrialization of Germany.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) The list would not be complete without including the EPA. They have over 18,000 employees, many of which are employed to implement policies and rules that, now that the air is cleaned (see chart above) are simply an Ideological War on carbon and are against the best interests of American Business, Industry & Citizens.
Department of Energy Like the EPA, the DOE has thousands of employees (over 14,000 not incl. contract employees). Many DOE employees have expertise in engineering and energy. However, they are led by Jennifer Granholm and other non-energy trained “Green Energy” Ideologues. Remember the original goal of the DOE, “To Make America Energy Independent”
Why a War on Carbon
Since my first involvement (about 1998) with “New Source review” I have wondered, “Why do these people hate coal”? A decade later when Obama was President they came out against carbon and all fossil fuels? Energy is Life and how can these leaders be so misguided? Is it a lack of knowledge in physical science? Is it a Green Religion and hate of conventional fuels? Are they concerned about the “Carrying Capacity of the Earth” in population growth? Are they influenced by foreign governments? As a Patriotic American that understands the importance of energy and energy independence, I have wondered.
Well, the more I dug down into the origins of the hate for fossil fuels the more I found out that it is some or all of the above. I also discovered in reading about the Sierra Club and the NRDC that they also object to nuclear power and pipelines. Many of the people involved with environmental extremist groups rotate into high level jobs in government where they are able to ratchet anti conventional energy policies to ever higher levels of Regulation and consequent energy cost escalation. When energy costs rise, so does almost everything else, including food.
America Has No Energy Policy
I was not going to mention political parties. However, all of the top influencers are members of the Democrat Party, including WVA’s Senator Joe Manchin. Manchin is as influential and responsible for the wasteful and harmful legislation as much as all of the other Democrats. The Green policies that they voted for have created enormous sums of financial incentives (about $370+ Billion). This taxpayer provided financial resource then creates interest of many Utilities and other businesses to cash in. As the expression goes, “Follow the Money”....now there are many Utilities and other large companies that are in on the gravy train and they will likely then become more “Woke” as they become dependent on the public Dole. This is not good for the American citizens, not good for Businesses, definitely not good for Industrial competitiveness with China and reshoring of American Manufacturing. National Security, like in President Jimmy Carter’s days, depends on Energy Independence. The green policies are in my viewpoint at the very least, Un-American. They are in my opinion, a path to Socialism.
No, I Do Not Believe in Man-Made Climate Change!
I have been an instructor on energy and electricity production and given public talks on energy. I usually do not discuss Climate Change for two reasons: 1. I am not an Atmospheric Scientist that is an expert on Climate and 2. I am an expert on conventional energy and electricity generation after having worked for six decades in power generation and power plants all around the world. Therefore, my main concern is that conventional fuels provide about 80-90% of our total Primay Energy. A transition from this 80-90% conventional to renewable will take time and Technology gains. In my experience and opinion, the current government policy to change to 100% renewable by 2030 or even 2050 is not planned and the path our government is on now is based on scare tactics to Demonize Hydrocarbon fuels and nuclear. I have written other Blog posts on the 100 Quadrillion Btus of Primary Energy that America depends on. Conventional energy cannot be discontinued and replaced with renewable wind and solar. A systematic transition is needed, not a shock shutdown of conventional energy. The following are my reasons for opposing Net-Zero Carbon:
The disruption (weakening of America) of our high quality of life to meet Net-Zero Carbon is not nessessary . The high standard of living Americans enjoy requires about 850,000 to 1,000,000 Btu’s per day, per person of energy equivalent. Total U.S. Primary Energy use/year about 100 Quadrillion Btus
Carbon Dioxide from manmade sources, in the opinion of many Atmospheric Scientists is not the primary driver of Climate Change. CO2 is however, beneficial for plants and crops to grow increased amounts of food.
Many of the Climate Scientists that are claiming manmade carbon dioxide emissions are changing the Climate have been subsidized by government grants and other funding to bias the narrative. In essence, the Anthropogenic Global Warming Scare is about control of the population and distribution of wealth, Decarbonization is not about saving the planet. Dr. Tim Ball had the courage to call it corruption of science
There are many Scientists that disagree with the government narrative that fossil fuels are changing the Climate
The United Nations IPCC and other pressures on the U.S.A. are not so much about saving the Planet as they are distribution of wealth from the top most wealthy countries to poorer countries.
The appendix of additional reading materials includes numerous publications, slide presentations and books authored by truly well credentialled Climate Scientists. I recommend referring to these Scientists regarding the question of Anthropogenic Climate Change.
There have been 50 years of wrong predictions by the Environmental Extremists, they have tried scare tactics for a long time
Climate is changing. It always has. We all know that about 11,000 years ago the Ice Age had large glaciers covering North America. There is time to adapt to climate change. It is not a crisis. The government response to the scare tactics of the Greens has in fact, caused a real “Energy Crisis”. The Energy Crisis can be fixed with a Rational Energy Policy.
America and Europe are going to have a tough winter. Much of the pain, inflation, suffering, deaths and De-Industrialization (loss of jobs too) will be caused by foolish Decarbonization policies. The Sixteen organizations and individuals above have been successful in scaring the public and exaggerating the impact of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. I thought it was past-time that someone who is in the energy business should push back and post this information, just so anyone with an open mind and interest in truth can view some of the players and their background in Energy and Electricity generation. These organizations and individuals have inflicted serious harm to America. Perhaps innocently and with good intentions. However, there are very few, if any experienced energy engineers represented by the leadership of the 16 organizations and policy leaders listed above.
These thoughts and all that is written here is my opinion based on my personal involvement over the last 60 years, of which I worked actively for 50 years in the electric power industry. The opinions and research are all mine and I take full responsibility for the words written above. They are mine alone and are not influenced by any other organization that I have been a part of.
Yours very truly,
Richard F. (Dick) Storm
Want to dig deeper? Here are over 180 References and Documents for further reading and to support the comments that I have offered in the remarks above:
Professor Vaclav Smil Book, “The Way the World Really Works” One of his quotes: (Smil is a prolific author on energy issues and lives in Canada) I absolutely hate the word sustainability because there is no such thing. Sustainability cannot be defined. Sustainable for what? Over next year? Over 10 years? Over a millennium? On a local basis, on a planetary basis? I mean, there are so many time and space dimensions to it you cannot define what is sustainable. If somebody is boasting what they are doing is sustainable, it’s a total laugh. There is no sustainable thing.
Coal Plant Shut Downs without replacement of new coal units is largely due to opposition by Environmental Extremist Groups, such as the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Program. Their Website: https://coal.sierraclub.org