Registered Professional Engineer in NC. Specialized as a Coal power generation engineer. Began career in 1962. Worked as electrician at SPS Technologies, Utility Engineer at Mobil Oil Corp, at Babcock & Wilcox as a Results Engineer, Riley Stoker as Senior Field Service Engineer, Carolina Power and Light Company as a Principal Engineer, head of Technical Services Department of Flame Refractories and then founded Storm Technologies in 1992. Served as a contributing Editor to POWER Magazine and Instructor of Power Generation Short Courses at Storm Technologies and Williamson College of the Trades. My largest current concern is the inadequate understanding of the general public on the importance of energy to humankind and western civilization. Only 2% or less of the public really understand electricity generation and the fuels needed to sustain our way of life.
For those of us middle class folks that have lived the American Dream to enjoy a very comfortable life, it is not hard to imagine using a million Btus each day with the various forms of energy depicted above. Energy used on our behalf goes beyond what we personally use. The pro-rated energy use per Capita (as recorded by the DOE) includes Industrial manufacturing, Military Defense, government, commercial, fertilizer production, food production and shipping transportation uses. Energy does in fact provide for our high quality of life. Perhaps it would be helpful to compare our energy use to the people of other countries. Here below is such a comparison.
Flows of Total U.S. Primary Energy
For anyone who has seen my posts before you will know that I am very enamored with the simple yet clear illustration of U.S. Energy Sources and flows provided by the Department of Energy’s LLNL. This chart shows all major sources of energy which includes renewables and illustrates the quantities of each produced and used by the thickness of the flow lines.
Continental Resources Chairman and founder Harold Hamm detailed on Monday (Mayc2022) what he believes is behind the record prices Americans are facing at the pump, arguing that the Biden administration’s “failed policies on energy are not working. https://video.foxbusiness.com/v/6306265270112#sp=show-clips
Heating the Oceans: By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)An issue with addressing how the earth cools is the mental concept of time. According to the Stefan-Boltzmann law, the earth is continuously emitting infrared energy depending on temperature. Some atmospheric gases, greenhouse gases, continuously interfere with the release of this energy to space in specific wavenumbers (number of wavelengths per centimeter, sometimes called frequency). In clear skies near the surface, most of the gases are well mixed except for water vapor, which varies significantly by region. : http://sepp.org/twtwfiles/2022/TWTW%208-6-2022.pdf
The Modern World Can’t Exist Without These Four Ingredients, They All Require Fossil Fuels, Vaclav Smil
America has no energy policy. We only have a policy to decarbonize. Recently I had an opportunity to meet with my representative in Congress, I brought up the topic of the coming energy crisis and how foolish current energy policies are, etc. My Congresswoman basically responded with this comment: ” I can’t do anything about that until we have a majority in Congress” I could paraphrase her response as “It’s not my job” which was a term I hated to hear from people I worked with.
Congress Abdicates Responsibility
The EPA has 14,581 employees and a 9.6 Billion dollar budget. The Department of Energy another 10,000+ employees. The heads of these departments are basically political appointee’s with no required expertise in environmental science or energy. They are not formulating energy policy or working toward energy independence for the U.S. In fact, they are led by environmental extremists. I have written numerous posts regarding the importance of energy to everything we do and eat. America runs on energy and it takes 100 Quadrillion Btus each year to power our economy, our industrial production, food production, transportation, heating, cooling, refrigeration, cooking, comforts and conveniences.
Failure to Plan Electricity Generation Capacity
The environmental extremists believe that everything can be electrified and that the electricity will be provided by renewable wind and solar power. The EPA and other state and Federal agencies have thousands of employees writing regulations to favor wind and solar and to discourage or cancel the use of coal, oil and gas. The “War on Carbon” has been going on a long time and the extremists have been very successful. The chart below is from NERC, (the North American Electricity Reliability Council). Note that since 2011 the U.S. has lost 102,600 MW’s of electric generation capacity from coal and nuclear plants.
More plants are scheduled to be shut down in the next year or two and until they are shut down, maintenance work is minimized, thus forcing a death spiral to their longevity. However, to keep the power on this summer our country has depended on Dispatchable Fossil Fuels, nuclear and hydro for over 80% of the electricity generation. A typical week of generation by fuel is shown below from the U.S. Grid Monitor website. Total generation 664,749 MW of which, 83% was Dispatchable generation. The totals by fuels on June 14 were: Gas 41%, Coal 20%, Nuclear 14%, Wind 11%, Hydro 8%, Solar 6%.
A Reminder: These are the Fuels that We Depend On Now
Natural gas, coal and nuclear fuels are what produce the most reliable and affordable electricity. This summer, about 80+% of our electricity. Here below is a typical week from the U.S. Grid Monitor website.
Reserve generation was tight and coal power generation was 36.86% for MISO and 21% for PJM as can be seen from the two charts below. Although coal power has been important this summer and will likely be more important in the winter, over 12,600 MW of coal plants are scheduled to be shut down in the next year or two. Natural gas provided the largest generation this summer and will likely be needed in similar quantities at winter peaks. However, in the winter residential heating competes with power generation and supplies due to limited pipeline capacity will likely be an imbalance of supply & Demand.
Fossil Fuels Provide 79% of U.S. Total Energy
Electricity is essential. Just remember the last hurricane or extreme weather event that caused power to be off for a day or two. It has been rare for many Americans to experience loss of electricity but when we have lost it is when we appreciate it the most. However, electricity represents about 37% of America’s promary energy consumption. The rest is used for transportation, industrial production, feedstock for plastics and other materials, fertilizer production, food production, food processing and food distribution. Seventy nine percent is from fossil fuels. When nuclear is included as “Conventional Electricity Generation” then the total conventional electricity generation is over 87%.
The Total Primary Energy Needed by the U.S. is right at 100 Quadrillion Btus per year. The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory keeps track of energy sources and use each year. A chart is published to show energy flows by fuel as a form of Sankey Diagram where the thickness of each line represents the portion of each source of energy or fuel.
Note the solar and wind production in 2021. Total of wind and solar as primary energy was less than 5% of America’s total primary energy supply. Fossil fuels plus nuclear are over 87%. Who believes that wind and solar after many years of subsidies and now only produces 5% can replace the 87%? For sure in the next 28 years it is not going to provide energy for jet aircraft propulsion, cement production, steel, ammonia fertilizer and feedstock for plastics. I repeat: There is no energy policy in the U.S.
A Rational Energy Policy
A rational energy policy would be to plan for the future power generation needs of our country and to plan for adequate fuels to be produced from within our borders by reducing Federal Regulations. Basically six goals:
Energy Independence: Coal, Oil, Gas and Nuclear Fuels
Adequate Electricity Generation Capacity with 80% Dispatchable
Minimum 15% Reserve generation during summer/winter Peak generation
Increased Production of coal, oil, gas and nuclear fuels to sustain our economy and high quality of life
Encourage new nuclear, Natural gas production increases and pipelines, clean coal with future CCS
Expand Oil & Natural Gas Production and Refining capacity to meet U.S. Demand
Congress has abdicated their responsibility and delegated too much authority to (out of control) Bureaucrats that are functioning to control Society without oversight. Example, EPA Clean Power Plan and now CSAPR to cause further pain and costs in operating coal plants
America depends on 87% conventional energy but the EPA and DOE are working to create regulations to tax or restrict its use.
The Bureaucrats have created rules and laws to restrict conventional energy production and use which will worsen the energy crisis
The EPA and DOE have top management Extremists that have little understanding or interest in doing what is best for our nation. We should watch what they do, not listen to what they claim. Also, do the math on energy requirements of our society for sustainable “American Dream” living
The EPA and Department of Energy are run by conventional fuel hating Ideologues
Congress will not act until the energy crisis becomes worse. Until then, the Ideoloques in the government will continue to harm our nation.
Dick Storm, August 19, 2022
References and information for further reading & reasearch
Island Pulse, Real Time Power by Fuel, Hawaii Electric. This is cited as an example of a state that is truly an energy island and dependent on self sufficiency. Attempted to be 100% green but because of intermittancy, uses large amounts of high cost Diesel fuel, thus, highest cost electricity in the U.S. : https://www.islandpulse.org
Food Supply, Ammonia, Steel, Plastics and Concrete
This is my personal opinion. My attempt to show how the policies of environmental extremists, some who hold elected office & some who have high Bureaucratic offices have placed America on a perilous path of energy insecurity. These are my personal opinions and they are not related with any other company or organization with which I am a part of or have ever been a part of. I have used references that I have checked and believe to be totally accurate. Many of the references used are listed at the end of this post for further substantiation of my opinions.
The importance of energy is well known by engineers involved in the energy production and electric generation industries. Energy is essential to power our economy, high quality of life, freedom of travel, comforts and conveniences. Also, food production and distribution are impacted by rising energy costs. The MSM has not reported much on the impact of the rising cost of energy to food price excalations. I will here.
According to the EIA, 79% of our total primary energy in 2021 was provided by fossil fuels. When nuclear power is included as a form of conventional energy, then over87% of the energy we depend on is from conventional fuels. So, let’s think about important materials and crops that support our high quality of life, including more than adequate food. Energy is essential to produce the materials we need as well as the abundance of food that Americans are Blessed with.
Affordable, Abundant, Reliable Energy is Essential to Power Life as We Know It
I would like to focus this post on the importance of energy and especially fossil fuels to provide essential materials and food for people of the world. Oil did save the whales (true) with Drake’s first oil well and Standard Oil’s kerosene production. Then Edison, Tesla and Westinghouse’s successes in developing electricity, motors and illumination by about 1898. Now, let’s switch from energy to food production concerns in 1898.
The Relationship of Energy and Food
Interestingly, the Head of the British Scientific Society, William Crookes, gave a sobering talk in 1898 to state that the planet can only support a total population of about two billion people. Why? Because there was not enough guano (sea bird droppings deposits on islands) and imported Chilean nitrate fertilizer to grow crops to support a growing world population over about 2 billion. This is well documented in the book, “The Alchemy of Air” as well as books by Vaclav Smil.
Vaclav Smil is a well-respected energy expert and he has written dozens of books centered on the topic of energy. His latest book is, “How the World Really Works”. I borrowed part of the title of this post from his chapter #4 “Understanding Our Material World”.
The four materials that Smil has selected are Ammonia, Plastics, Steel and Concrete. These are all dependent on vast quantities of energy to produce and yes, we all depend on them for our everyday lives. Let’s start with Ammonia.
Ammonia, A Pre-Requisite to Feeding the World
An interesting book by Thomas Hager, “The Alchemy of Air” chronicles the development of the Haber-Bosch process. The story of how Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch invented and developed the process for producing synthetic nitrogen fertilizer. The book starts out by reminding us of the concern by the head of the British Academy of Sciences, William Crookes in 1898 that the earth will not be able to support a population growing above about 2 billion people, because there simply is not enough fertilizer from natural sources such as guano, manure or Chilean Nitrate to fertilize the world’s crops in sufficient quantity to feed a growing world population. Thus, the prospect of famine was real. That was 1898 and within ten years Fritz Haber a Jewish chemist, living in Germany, invented the process to create ammonia from natural gas and air. Later, Haber teamed up with Carl Bosch then a senior manager at BASF and together the developed and commercialized the Haber-Bosch process for creating ammonia. Fast forward to 1972 and President Nixon’s first trip to China to open doors for trade. What did China want first? They wanted ammonia plants to produce fertilizer after millions(1) of Chinese had died of starvation during Mao Tse Tung’s “Great Leap Forward” of failed central control. According to Smil, China’s first trade deal after Nixon’s visit was to purchase 13 ammonia plants from M.W. Kellogg of Texas. That was the only way that China could produce sufficient food to feed their growing population. Today, as with many other products, China produces more ammonia than any other country.
50% of the World’s People Could Not Exist Without Ammonia
(Smil states on page 83) “I hasten to add that 50% of humanity dependent on ammonia is not an immutable approximation. Given prevailing diets and farming practices, synthetic nitrogen feeds half of humanity—-or, everything else being equal, half of the world’s population could not be sustained without synthetic nitrogenous fertilizers”.
Of course, the point is, food production is related to fertilizer production and fertilizer production depends on natural gas as a feedstock. About 1.2% of the world’s total primary energy is used for fertilizer and about 3-5% of food production depends on fossil fuels. Thus, Vaclav Smil picked energy intensive Ammonia as the number one material of the four materials that are (his ranking) pillars of modern civilization.
The Cost of Energy for Food Production & Distribution is About 50%
The IEA published a chart to show the cost components of energy for nine selected crops. The chart is copied below. Note that total energy cost for the nine selected crops range from a low of about 40% for cotton to almost 60% for wheat and sorghum, over 50% for corn. The cost of production for all food crops in the U.S. is about 50%. Most of this fuel is from fossil fuels. Energy is important for all of the people of the world and reasonable cost, abundant energy is crucially important for crop production and processing. Escalating energy costs will increase the costs of food and in some cases, reduce the quantity of food production due to limited fertilizer (ammonia based) availability. The fuel for Diesel tractors and food processing is significant. The final point: Solar and Wind cannot create fertilizer and both are impossible in the near term to power tractors and intercity or Global transportation.
Sources of World Energy about 86.25% Conventional Fuels, oil, gas, coal and nuclear
From BP-Statistical Review of World Energy Consumption:
Oil 184.21 EJ 31%
Natural Gas 145.35 EJ 24%
Coal 160.10 EJ 27%
Nuclear 25.31 EJ 4%
Hydro-Electricity 40.26 EJ 7%
Renewables 39.91 EJ 7%
Total Primary Energy 595.15 Exajoules
World Consumption of Primary Energy-BP Statistical Review-2022
The world’s energy consumption does inrease year after year, except during the Pandemic of 2020 as can be seen on BP’s graph above. If we extrapolate and expand the forecast to 2050, then increased energy will be required for the estimated 9 Billion world population that is expected in 2050. For now, 86% of the world’s energy and 87.4% of the United States Energy is provided by conventional fuels of oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear fuels. Solar and wind provide only about 7% of the world’s primary energy and less than 5% of the United States Energy for 2021. The U.S. energy flow chart is shown below:
Energy Flow Chart for United States, 2021
No! We Cannot Electrify Everything!
Government officials for the last 18 months have been scolding and attempting to scare the general public into getting rid of our internal combustion engines and buy EV’s. Claiming we need to “Decarbonize our society”. In essence, they are literally saying, “Electrify Everything”. In fact, I did see at least one article on electrify everything. The two charts above which show the reality of the energy needs of the United States and the world, should help explain: NO, We Cannot Electrify Everything! For sure, plastics, concrete, steel, air transportation, aluminum and fertilizer cannot be produced from windmills and solar panels. I contributed to an article by Hayden Ludwig of the Capital Research Center in December 2021. Our goal was to try to set the record straight on “No, We Cannot Electrify Everything”.
Let’s get back to the relationship of energy and food production. Fertilizer production for a start, uses about 1.2% of the world’s total primary energy. As mentioned above, literally half the world’s population would suffer famine if ammonia fertilizer production was stopped.
Fertilizer and Food
The IEA chart above showed the energy cost component for food production. Much of the energy used is natural gas for fertilizer production. Here below are some fertilizer facts to consider. This reference is for the year 2010 and this is the most recent document I could find. I think it is reasonable to estimate that the 1.2% energy use for fertilizer production has tracked about the same trend for the last twelve years as the world population has grown and the nutrition for the people of the world has generally improved.
Energy, The Pre-Requisite for a High HDI (Human Development Index)
Here are three illustrations to show the importance of energy for both improved HMI (Human Development Index) and Economic Prosperity:
The first chart below is from a Power-Point presentation I prepared in 2016 for a course on energy and power generation at Williamson College of the Trades. This clearly shows the relationship of energy and economic prosperity as well as the relationship of energy to HMI.
Another chart by ExxonMobil’s Energy Outlook in 2017, also captures the relationship of energy, HMI and economic prosperity. As quality of life (including adequate nutrition) goes up, so does the demand for energy.
The final chart is the NASA composite photo entitled, “The Earth at Night”. This shows the earth’s illumination from space and the photo clearly identifies the countries that have a higher standard of living (HMI) and that tend to use more energy to provide their higher quality of life.
The modern world’s people need food, transportation, indoor cooking, refrigeration, materials for manufacturing and construction, manufactured products and much more. Over 86% of the world’s energy to provide crucially important materials, travel, shipping, industrial output, heating and airconditioning comes from conventional fuels. This includes fossil fuels of oil, natural gas & coal. When nuclear is included as a conventional fuel, then the total primary energy from conventional fuels is about 87% for the U.S.A.
The abolishment of fossil fuels may be possible someday, but in my opinion and observations, not until far beyond 2050.
Fertilizer and food production use between 3 and 5% of the world’s total primary energy. Much of this is required to come from fossil fuels.
Aircraft with batteries or hydrogen fuel may in fact be possible, someday. However, replacing the fleet presently flying of jet fuel powered Boeing and Airbus planes is not possible by 2050 and there are many of us that would prefer the proven safety of flying jets powered by jet fuel.
Steel made from hydrogen is possible, but not at a competitive cost with coke. China produces over 50% of the world’s steel now and they will continue to use the lowest cost production methods.
Aluminum is a very important metal for aircraft, automobiles and many other utilitarian uses. Aluminum uses the most electricity of all metals for production. Smelting alone uses about 5 kWh per pound and this is in addition to Bauxite refining, transportation, rolling and forming. Reasonable cost, reliable and abundant electricity is required to produce aluminum. China produces over 50% of the world’s aluminum also.
Plastics and synthetic fibers are used in everything we depend on through the day. Auto parts are largely plastic, so are many utility pipes. Many textiles are based on fibers from oil or natural gas.
The government “War on Carbon” is destroying America. It is contributing to inflation and shortages of critical materials that we depend on.
The United Nations, the World Economic Forum, The Main Stream Press, Entertainment is interested in power and influence over the citizens of the U.S. It is not about climate
Environmental Extremist organizations such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund (and many more) have extensive funding of Billions of dollars obtained from Bloomberg, Bezos and others that is tax exempt and used against the best interests of American citizens.
The overall “War on Carbon” is making energy and electricity prices higher in the U.S. This makes America less competitive with China and it increases the job losses here and increased off-shoring of manufacturing
America does not have an “Energy Policy” per se’. America has an a “Hate Carbon Policy” that has progressed far enough to create an energy crisis, possible Rolling Blackouts, Brownouts and excalating food prices.
Here is my personal opinion along with some facts to attempt to show how the policies of environmental extremists have placed America on a perilous path of energy insecurity. These are my personal opinions and they are not related with any other company or organization with which I am a part of. These are my personal thoughts regarding my concern for the future of the U.S.A.
Most of my engineer/manager/business owner friends who have worked and are familiar with electricity generation share my dismay that our great country has gone far astray from planning and building a better future for our chlidren and grandchildren. As one friend, a senior nuclear engineer stated (paraphrasing), “Our predecessors did great things, in many cases, rather than build on or advance these items, our generation has allowed them to be destroyed (think the World Trade Center towers, NASA, or in my personal case – the nuclear power industry). Our successors/followers seem to be more “lost” than ever, they accept the position that “feelings” and “beliefs” overcome scientific facts. This will be our legacy.”
The six major pollutants of sulfur, oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide, lead, particulates and volatile organic compounds were controlled. The EPA illustration below shows progress on cleaning the air from 1970 when the EPA was formed.
CLEANING THE AIR, A JOB WELL DONE!
78% Less Pollutants in 2020 than in 1970
According to the EPA, between 1970 and 2020, the combined emissions of the six common pollutants (PM2.5 and PM10, SO2, NOx, . VOC’s, CO and Lead) dropped by 78 percent. This progress occurred while U.S. economic indicators remain strong, as shown on the chart above. This is tremendous progress that all Americans can be proud of accomplishing. America has amongst the cleanest air when compared to other Developed nations.
OK, The Task of Cleaning the Nation’s Air Has Been Accomplished, So Now Let’s Keep American Business and Industry Productive, Energy Independent and Remain Competitive as the World’s Strongest Economy
If we look at the Total Primary Energy that we use, the quantitative measurement of fuels that power our total economy (Total Energy! Electricity, Industrial, Transportation, Residential and Commercial) and our high quality of living are represented on the Energy Information Administration chart below. Yes, 79% is fossil fuels. This is for the year 2021 and renewables are less than 5%. America depends on about 87% conventional fuels when nuclear power is included as a conventional fuel.
The extremists include many participants in the “World Economic Forum”. These wealthy people and organizations have funded extremist organizations with Billions of dollars in assets to fight against Natural Gas Hydraulic Fracturing, Exploration, Permitting, Drilling, Pipelines , New Refineries, Upgrading of older Power Plants and Refineries, Shutting down efficient, clean coal plants, Stopping construction of or shutting down of safe Nuclear power plants, stopping energy plant expansions and any part of improving the use of conventional fuels that power our country. Perhaps begun with good intentions, but in my view this is un-American. Where do these IRS 501(c) 3 and 4 tax exempt organizations obtain these generous funds? A good question. However, here are just a few of their sources of funding, based on Press Releases of public information. This is a sampling of how extremist, un-American organizations stay so well funded. Jeff Bezos awards NRDC $100 million dollars.Michael Bloomberg’s Bloomberg Philanthropies awards Sierra Club $174 million. The Sierra Club and Bloomberg Philanthropies brag on the Sierra Club and Bloomberg Philanthropies websites that, They have caused to shut down over 60% of America’s Coal Plants.
Tom Steyer another Billionaire starts a Climate Action Fund. I repeat, well funded to fight against us common folks achievement of the American Dream. Worse yet is the denying of needed energy for Developing countries of the world. Take a check of the Capital Research Center’s “Influence Watch” website. You won’t need to scroll through many major environmental organizations to tally up over a $Billion dollars in assets. This is mostly used to create political opposition to coal, natural gas, pipelines, Refineries, nuclear power plants and nearly all forms of conventional energy. Sure, they all were begun with good intentions of protecting the environment, that was in the Good Old days of 1892, when the Sierra Club Founder, John Muir began a movement and founded the Sierra Club to improve the environment. Like I said, it started with good intentions. However, now the extremists are endangering the future of our country. This may seem like hyperbole to those not closely involved with the energy industries. The screen shot below is from the Sierra Club, “Beyond Coal” website. Yes, they brag on shutting down 357 coal power plants. Some of these, such as Zimmer near Cincinatti should still be operating, so should some in Texas and many other states. If you have rolling Blackouts or job losses in your state, thank Michael Bloomberg, Jeff Bezos, the World Economic Forum, Tom Steyer, Movie star Celebrities, The MSM, the U.N. and the activist environmental extremists that have brought us to this crisis. Some community and state leaders proudly proclaim, “Coal is in a Death Spiral”. Maybe it is, but if so, who or which countries will benefit?
However, I am very concerned. We should look east toward Europe and Asia to learn some of the challenges that occur when energy becomes scarce. A world renowned energy expert and author Dr. Vaclav Smil has coined the phrase, “Energy is the Universal Currency”. Sadly, as this is written, the countries that understand and act on that best are Russia and China.
Environmental extremism has progressed to the point that America is likely to continue with an energy crisis that will be worse than the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo. Yes, I am old enough to remember 1973 and carrying precious five gallon cans of gasoline (knowingly unsafely) in the back of our station wagon we used to transport our family on vacation from N.C. to Florida. The gasoline shortages, the Utility stock value declines and strain on the American economy (and American Families) was difficult and memorable. Perhaps that is why I am so passionate about writing this message. This crisis does not need to happen. However, it appears to be too late to stop it and even the IEA Head, Dr. Faith Birol has admitted that it will likely get worse. In conclusion, these are the major points I wish to make:
The U.S. uses and requires about 100 quadrillion British Thermal Units each year. This is about one million Btu’s per day, per person. During 2021 wind and solar provided less than 5% of that total energy. It is impossible to replace the over 87% conventional energy with wind and solar power any time soon. America is the Saudi Arabia of Coal and we should use this resource as well as nuclear, natural gas and all other fuels within our borders.
Environmental Extremists have done a very effective job of stopping progress for America’s economy and productive capacity. They have caused us to lose our position of being energy independent in 2020. They are part of a five headed Monster. The five monster heads are; Public Education, The Media, Entertainment, Government and Extremist organizations that operate (protected from paying taxes) as non-profit organizations.
Nuclear Power is one form of carbon free energy that can significantly increase our energy independence with proven technology (if we are concerned about carbon) However, most of the Environmental extremist organizations are against nuclear as well as being against coal, gas and oil. There is only one nuclear power plant under construction in the U.S. at this time. Georgia Power/Southern Company’s Plant Vogtle. The cost overruns in my opinion are largely due to over-Regulation.
We need more new HELE Coal plants. ( High Efficiency, Low Emissions). The last two built, John Turk and Longview Plants were commissioned about 2012. Since then, much of the Supply-Chain of engineers, craftsmen and manufacturing capacity have retired or been out-sourced to China. Witness the once great pioneering power generation equipment manufacturing company, “Combustion-Engineering” now gone. Also, the American manufacturing company Foster-Wheeler. Still here in name only.
The future of solving our energy crisis looks bleak due to the momentum of poor decisions and poor priorities. It is not only the U.S. It is also Europe, Sri Lanka, Australia and India. If you have time, peruse through some of the links provided below to review the news of the International Energy Crisis.
My recommendation is that we should be using All Forms of energy and have a Balanced Energy Portfolio. One local example is my adopted state of S.C. Still a Regional Utility (state owned) they have shown in their IRP (Integrated Resource Plan) that they are likely to follow the rest of the U.S. in shutting down existing coal plants before adequate, proven, Dispatchable replacement generating capacity is built and commissioned. I favor building new Coal HELE plants, new nuclear whether SMR or conventional, and of course, the proven Gas Turbine Combined Cycle Units that have done so well at operational efficiencies above 50%.
Provide the infra-structure of pipelines and fuel supply chains to existing plants. Coal trains and pipelines.
Maintain the existing plants as if they are going to run another ten years. Plan new coal plants to replace the old ones that need to be retired.
Most importantly! Educate the General Public and K-12 Students on the true facts about the importance of energy similar to what was done by the Electric Utility Companies in teh 1950’s -1970’s up to the Arab Oil Embargo in 1973.
The preceding opinions are my own, not shared by any other company or organization that I have been associated with. These are my strong personal opinions and this was written solely by the author.
Yours very truly,
Dick Storm, July 13, 2022
References for further research and to refer to more factual information
The recent Supreme Court ruling which trimmed the power of the EPA is important to provide for less government restrictions and for the freedom of future Americans to enjoy the “American Dream”. This post is based on the importance of energy to power our way of life. Each American uses about a million Btus of energy each day. Energy fuels our way of life. The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has kept track of the total primary energy use of America for many years. Total primary energy use has held steady at about 100 quads (+/-10) per year for the last 23 years. Total Primary Energy includes all forms of energy. The Energy Flow Chart for 2021 is copied below:
Total Primary Energy Supply 1999-2021 about 100 Quadrillion Btu’s
A fair question is, what does the Supreme Court ruling on the EPA’s right to regulate carbon have to do with living the American Dream? Here is my answer. If we accept that the U.S. requires 100 quadrillion Btus of energy to power our high quality of living, then how can we continue living our good lives if over 80% of the fuel we depend on is considered unavailable by the government? Yes, from the LLNL figure above, (in Quads) 35.1 Petroleum + 10.5 Coal +31.3 Natural Gas +8.13 nuclear power = 85.03 quadrillion Btus which is 87.4 % of the 97.3 Quads of Total Primary Energy.
Thermal energy is important for every American. The 87.4% includes nuclear. Therefore, the total primary energy provided from conventional forms of energy is 87.4%.
The government, “Woke” Business leaders, celebrities and many in the media have pushed the fantasy of achieving American energy needs from 100% solar and wind by 2030 or 2050. To attempt to be polite, thinking we can replace conventional forms of energy within a few years is being detached from reality and delusional. Let me explain why I believe this to be so by looking at the last 23 years of energy use to show where we came from in two decades and to then look into the future to see the next two decades:
The 1999 Sankey diagram (above) shows total energy use in the U.S. of 96.6 quadrillion Btus. I stated above that America’s total primary energy has held pretty steady for decades. So, here is the factual data of energy flows from 1999. Over the years, the fuel sources have changed but the total primary energy required to power our lives and economy has remained fairly constant, right at 100 quadrillion Btus. In 1999 coal was 23.3 quadrillion Btus and natural gas 19.29. The “Shale Gas Revolution” which began about 2010 created production of low cost natural gas which displaced much of the coal used for power generation. This fuel substitution of natural gas for coal was mostly for economic dispatch reasons of a more economical fuel for power generation. By the way, if you compare the natural gas prices/million Btus to coal today, coal looks far more reasonable in cost.
Total Primary Energy is Needed for Electricity Generation Plus… Industry, Transportation, Commercial and Residential
The graph below was prepared by the EIA to illustrate the production and use of total energy in the U.S.A. from 1950 to 2020. This also supports the statement that America has used right at 100 Quadrillion Btus for the last 23 years. This includes all forms of energy and including coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, hydroelectric, solar, wind, Biomass, geothermal. As can be seen from the graph, energy independence was achieved in 2020. This was largely as the result of increased oil and natural gas production within the U.S.A.
The Fantasy of Wind and Solar Replacing Conventional Energy and Achieving Net-Zero Carbon by 2050
Fossil fuels plus nuclear energy provided over 87% of America’s total primary energy for the year 2021. This is a fact. (as shown on the first chart above from LLNL) It is also a fact that wind and solar together provided about 5% of our total primary energy. The question needs to be asked, Is it reasonable to expect solar and wind to replace the energy currently provided by petroleum, natural gas, coal and nuclear? I say NO it is not reasonable to expect solar and wind to replace coal, oil, gas and nuclear any time soon. Yes, wind and solar are being forced on America by the energy policies and incentives of government, but it is implausible to expect the total of 100 Quadrillion Btu’s equivalent of energy to come from wind and solar. In my opinion, impossible until there are major technological advancements.
Here are eleven reasons why Net-Zero Carbon is Not Practical within the next 28 years:
The land area of 100% renewables required is enormous. The energy density of solar and wind is far too low(1)
Electricity storage is not yet technologically advanced for commercial applications at Utility scale for long time periods
If all Internal Combustion Engines for ground transportation are electrified, then it exacerbates the first two points. It still takes about the same primary energy content to move vehicles no matter what fuel or energy source is used. Example, EV’s need charging to provide motive force
Solar and Wind are not Dispatchable. They provide maximum output as nature provides when the wind blows and the sun shines, not as Citizen electricity demand requires
About 8-10% of petroleum is refined into Jet Fuel. Hydrogen fueled aircraft may be safe & practical some day, but that someday is decades away.
Fertilizer and food production uses between 2 and 5% of total primary energy. This cannot be replaced with wind and solar
The Transmission and Distribution network of the electric Grid is not setup for solar and wind systems. It takes time to permit, design and construct T&D systems
Oil, coal and natural gas provide raw materials for textiles, rubber, plastics and many other products that the world depends on
Coking coal is required to produce the best quality steel from iron ore
Cement production requires fuel for production
Nuclear power is the largest provider of carbon free energy, yet there is only one new nuclear plant under construction in the U.S. The Georgia Power Plant Vogtle Units 2 &3
All Fuels are Important and a Balanced Energy Portfolio is Preferred
America has been depending on coal power for many years. Although not appreciated by the media and even some Utility Exec’s, coal remains important. I will cite three examples below: First the U.S. Grid Electric Generation by fuel type for the weeks of September 25 -October 2, 2021 and from June 10- 16, 2022. Note the Dispatchable power of over 80% in both cases, with coal providing a significant portion of the generation. Also shown below are screen shots of actual generation by fuel for both the MISO and PJM RTO’s (Regional Transmission Operators)
The four illustrations above show examples of the importance of coal fuel to electric power generation for the lower 48 states, for the Midcontenent Independent System Operator and for the PJM Interconnection. All four examples show significant generation by Dispatchable power: coal, gas and nuclear. These four charts could be considered “A Balanced Generation Portfolio” By balanced, I mean fuel diversity of nuclear, gas, coal and renewables. This is good, however, the current U.S. Path is to shutdown many of the coal plants that were participating in the above “examples. Take a look at the EIA report that states 12.6 GW of coal plants to retire by 2022. (4)
Also, the recent closures of Palisades Nuclear Plant in Michigan and the William Zimmer 1300 MW coal plant near Cincinnati.
Coal, The American Treasure of Energy
When I was active in the American Coal Council we had an interesting speaker from the National Coal Council, on the coal, oil and gas reserves within the borders of the U.S. The speaker (Robert Beck) presented a study of using captured CO2 to force oil still trapped beneath Ohio’s old oil fields. As I recall, the presentation summary was that any place that coal is found, so is oil and gas. Thus, if you look at a map of U.S. coal deposits, sure enough, gas and oil has also been produced. Getting back to the National Coal Council presentation, the statement was made that about 3 million barrels a day of oil could be recovered from the “Old abandoned” Ohio Oil fields of decades ago, by using enhanced oil recovery of pressurizing the oil deposits with CO2 captured from the many coal plants in Ohio.(5) Here below is an illustration of world coal reserves. It could be said, the U.S. likely has the largest fossil fuel reserves in the world. The statement made by a coal expert that I heard ten years ago seems true, “Wherever there is coal, so is there oil and gas”. Texas, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and North Dakota all have coal and all have had significant oil and gas production since Hydraulic Fracturing combined with directional drilling has been utilized.
Why should our politicians cripple our economy over the politically inspired (not Environmental protection driven) U.N. -IPCC, Paris agreement?(56,57,58,59)America can be Energy Independent. We were in 2020 and we can do it again!
Meanwhile in China
China is the world’s largest producer of aluminum and steel. They also are the largest manufacturing nation on the planet. This manufacturing might is powered mostly by coal power. China gets it and they are diligently working toward a “Balanced Generation Portfolio” of coal, nuclear, wind, solar and gas.(51, 52, 53) Russia is conveniently in an excellent geographic and economic position to supply coal, oil, nuclear and gas to China to power their industrial output.
China is a large country that is committed to increasing the size of their economy. Powering manufacturing requires large amounts of reliable, reasonable cost electricity generation. China has a truly “Balanced Portfolio of Generation Capacity”, including nuclear as shown above and also enormous amounts of renewable power from the Three Gorges Hydroelectric plant which is over 22 GW in capacity, as well as wind, solar and coal. I thought I should interject the energy facts regarding China’s Bulk Power Generation, because competing with them will require reasonable cost Bulk Power here. Especially for energy intensive manufacturing such as aluminum smelting and other primary metals production.
Conclusions from Excerpts of Vaclav Smil book, “Power Density” on the Use of Wind, Water and Solar to Generate most of Our Electricity
Vaclav Smil has written many books on Energy, Power and Electricity generation. His book “POWER DENSITY” for this discussion is particularly relevant. Copied below are excerpts from the final chapter of “POWER DENSITY”:
“What Would it Take”
“If you are willing to engage in unbounded science and engineering fiction, then acccording to Jacobson and Delucchi (2011), this is what it would take to supply the world with 100% renewable energy in 2030 by using electricity (generated by wind, water and solar PV installations) and electrolytic hydrogen for all purposes: 3.8 million 5-MW wind turbines, 49,000 300-MW central solar plants, 1.7 billion 3-kW rooftop PV installations, 5,350 100-MW geothermal plants, 270 new 1.3 GW hydro stations, 720,000 0.75-MW wave devices and 490,000 1-MW tidal turbines. All of that will require only about 0.4% of the world’s land for its footprint and 0.6% for spacing, and we are assured that the barriers to the plan are primarily social and political, not technological or economic as the energy cost in a new wind-water-solar world should be similar to that today” (The above is quoting from Jacobson and Delucchi)
Smil continues (from pg 244, Power Density)
“These assurances asides, the simplest reality check shows the fictional nature of these assumptions. In 2013 the worldwide capacity in wind turbines reached 330 GW, while 13 TW (40 times as much) would be needed by 2030. Total rooftop and large plant PV capacity reached about 100 GW, but 17.1 TW of these installations would be required (170 times as much); moreover, there was not a single 300-MW solar PV plant (five plants rated between 200-250 MW), whereas 40,000 would be needed by 2030. In 2013 there was only one central solar power facility rated at more than 300 MW, Ivanpah, at 392 MW, but nearly 5,000 such facilities would be needed by 2030 (an increase of four orders of magnitude). There were fewer than 50 geothermal stations rated at more than 100 MW, but 5,350 would be needed (a 100-fold increase). Pelamis (2014, the world’s most advanced wave energy company, produced six 0.75 MW devices by the beginning of 2014, but 720,000 would need to be operating by 2030 (an increase of five orders of magnitude). Finally, by 2013 there were fewer than ten small tidal stations with aggregate installed power of much less than 1 GW, while 490 GW would have to generate by 2030 (two orders of magnitude more).
Such ramping-up of all kinds of capacities-design, permitting, financing, engineering, construction, all going up between one and five orders of magnitude in less than two decades-is far, far beyond anything that has been witnessed in less than two decades-is far, far beyond anything that has been witnessed in more than a century of developing modern energy systems. And that still leaves out two other key facts, namely, that such a gargantuan renewable energy system would need an enormous expansion of high-voltage transmission and would require the creation of an entirely new, hydrogen-based society. I am still not sure how we would fly with hydrogen (or electricity) or smelt pig iron. In any case the chances of a 100% water-wind-solar world to be ready by 2030 are nil, but it is worth while exploring what it would (realistically) take to create an increasingly nonfossil global energy system.” The preceding “What Would it Take” is a direct quotation from Smil’s book, pages 243-245.
Summary & Conclusions:
In my opinion, Vaclav Smil in the preceding paragraphs captured the essence of the fictional engineering that can create a path to Net-Zero Carbon by 2050. In the references that follow, Donn Dears and others have come to similar conclusions on the futility of achieving Net-Zero Carbon.
With regard to Anthropogenic Climate Change, I have included some references from expert Climate and Atmospheric Scientists that know the topic well.(2,7,8,9,10,12,13,15,16,56,58,59)
Climate Policies and the UN-IPCC are driven by politics and not by science or a sincere interest in saving the planet. Some references which support this claim are also included for further reading.(56,58,59)
I will close with seven conclusions, which are:
The Economic Harm to the U.S. if the Path to Net-Zero Carbon with solar and wind and without nuclear power as a major component, will weaken the U.S.A. and harm our capability to compete in world markets. Especially competing with China and the rest of the world in manufacturing.(2, 3, 4, 7, 8 & 9)
Dispatchable Coal Plants should not be shut down until they are replaced by proven and commissioned “Dispatchable” generating capacity. Shutting down 12.6MW of coal plants as planned, will lead to Blackouts and Brownouts(4,22,25, 26, 27)
Depending on wind and solar to replace the existing 2022 still operational coal and nuclear plants will lead to increased electricity costs as well as reduced reliability(14, 36)
China is the world’s largest manufacturer and will remain ahead of the U.S. and gain further if the U.S. continues down the Net-Zero Carbon Path(17, 18, 19, 28)
America invented nuclear power (Rickover) for peaceful purposes and was the world leader in developing nuclear power for peaceful purposes. We have lost that lead and China and Russia are building more nuclear power plants in the world than the U.S. Most of our problems are unessessary Federal Regulations(11, 51,53,57)
Energy Independence plus reasonable cost, abundant and Dispatchable Electricity are pre-requisites for a strong economy and a strong National Defense. America should expand and increase our treasures of nuclear, coal, oil and gas forms of energy to reachieve Energy Independence.(5)
The U.S. should use all of the energy resources within our borders to be 100% Energy Independent. This includes the Treasure of Coal Energy which we know how to burn cleanly.(30, 31, 32)
Dick Storm, July 4th, 2022
References for Further Reading:
Vaclav Smil Book, “POWER DENSITY” The MIT Press 2015
Santee-Cooper is a state owned Utility in the Great State of South Carolina. The Total Generation Capacity is about 6,000 MW, though a small Utility it is, I think, a great example of one which currently has a well balanced generation portfolio and it should stay that way.
Myself and others have commented on the importance of a Balanced Energy Portfolio on LinkedIn, other Social Media, in technical presentations, papers and short courses that we have presented. The Wall Street Journal, NERC, MISO, Utility Dive, Power Magazine, Forbes and other respected Technical Journals and magazines have reported that America may in fact, experience Blackouts during the summer of 2022(1,2,3,4,5) This is serious and it shows the poor planning or absence of any planning at all for the future sustainable energy needs of America.
So, If I am so Critical, Shouldn’t I provide My Suggestions? Here they are.
I thought it would be appropriate to take a 6,000 MW Electric Utility as an example and show in detail what I recommend for a Balanced Generation Portfolio should look like for the next 10-20 years. I selected Santee-Cooper as the example because I am very familiar with their coal plants having worked as a field service engineer, a contractor, course instructor and consultant since 1970. I have personally worked at all of the coal plants that they have owned and operated, including two that have been since shut down. Also, Santee-Cooper asked for public involvement in updating their IRP (Integrated Resources Plan), which I volunteered to participate in and was accepted as a member of their SC citizen/customer Stakeholder participants. So, what follows are my suggestions of what a Balanced Generation Portfolio could look like to keep the fine record of reasonable cost & reliable electricity for the territory served by Santee-Cooper and the Co-operatives that are major customers.
Santee-Cooper also known as South Carolina Public Service Authority
The Figure below lists the generating assets that Santee-Cooper currently owns and are operable. The generation assets total are 5,801 MW. Coal plants are 3,530 or 61% of the total generation capacity. Natural gas fueled units at Rainey are the next largest at 1,150 MW and Nuclear capacity of Summer is 322 MW. Solar as of winter 2021-2022 is planned to be 82 MW. Therefore, of the 5,801 total generation capacity over 86% is Dispatchable and of proven reasonable cost and reliable generation.
Load Growth Projections by Santee-Cooper, Supply/Demand Balance 2022-2040
Electricity demand expectations are by 2040 to grow above 6,000 MW. Currently there are plans to shut down the 1,150 MW Winyah coal fueled power station. This, I believe, if carried out will be a mistake. The world situation with energy and power should show us the importance of Domestic energy supply and Santee-Cooper has, up to this point, had a balanced energy portfolio to meet the Demand of the customers with affordable, reliable electricity supply. I have included references below of reasons why coal power is important.
The table below (labeled 2-2) is another listing of Santee-Cooper generating assets. This one is from a publicly available Black and Veatch report dated 2019.
South Carolina is #3 in Nuclear Generation in the U.S.A.
Nuclear Power is Most Dominant in South Carolina but, Many Nuclear Plants are Old and Some Could Shut Down by 2040? Licenses Need to Be Renewed by the NRC to Depend on these for backup.
In my view, Santee-Cooper is a state treasure and that the low cost, reliable generation capacity should be planned to maintain that excellent record using the proven fuels that have served our state so well (My adopted state since moving here full time). Much of the benefits of low cost electricity have come from being interconnected on the Grid with Duke and Dominion Power. They are great neighbors and also have excellent records. However, in my view and based on my experience, I think Santee-Cooper should plan future generation with a balanced portfolio with at least a 15% margin of reserve capacity for winter and summer peak loads. The current stated license expirations for the neighboring utilities and including the Summer Unit #1 which Santee-Cooper owns a portion are:
From Nuclear Energy Institute web site(15)
Duke and Dominion are likely to and in fact, I think they have already proceeded to extend the operating licenses of these nuclear plants. However, the reality is that several sister nuclear units of Duke’s nuclear fleet have already been shut down. The Crystal River nuclear unit and one of the Three Mile Island nuclear units designed and built by Babcock & Wilcox and very similar. ( I know that to be a fact, because I worked at B&W in the 1960’s) These two units performed well for many years, but are now shut down. The age of these wonderful assets must be taken into consideration when depending on the stability and reasonable cost of being dependent on the Grid connection. I feel strongly that the state power generation capacity should be capable of complete independence from neighboring Utility reserve capacity.
The Myth of Green Power
I became interested in participating as a stakeholder in the IRP process as a result of receiving the flier copied below which came with my electric bill from Palmetto Electric. It inferred that the electricity supplied to Hilton Head Island during the Heritage Golf Tournament in April was being provided by “Green Power”. Most of the power that Palmetto Electric distributes to members is provided by Santee-Cooper or from the Grid. It is my understanding that Hilton Head Island uses over 180 MW on a hot summer day. The renewable power generation assets are listed above. The renewables assets are far from adequate to meet the demand of Hilton Head Island during a normal summer day. I have shown above the facts on generating assets and electric power generation statistics for previous years. The load growth projections to 2040 were provided in the Santee-Cooper IRP Presentation. Santee-Cooper and Palmetto Electric have done a wonderful job in providing reliable, affordable electricity to Hilton Head Island. Green power if expanded at the extreme risk and expense of decommissioning Winyah and even one or more of the Cross Units will cause economic harm to our citizens and to this up to now, great state with reliable and reasonable cost power, in my opinion.
Coal and nuclear power have served the great state of South Carolina very well for many years. Coal, Gas and Nuclear power generation are all Dispatchable and with a balanced portfolio economic dispatch can continue to sustain reasonable cost Bulk Power delivery.
Fuel prices fluctuate widely due to world supply and Demand events. Before I retired in 2012, I participated in delivering courses on power generation and power generation economics. My specialty was coal firing and heat rate improvements. The graph below was prepared to present to the O & M Team of a Florida Utility to show the importance of efficient coal plant operation to compete with the then low cost natural gas fuel. In 2012 the Shale Gas Revolution was going strong and over-supply of natural gas drove natural gas prices down to levels below coal fuel cost for equivalent energy. Of course now (June 2022) natural gas prices at the Henry Hub exceed $9.00/million Btu. Thus, coal fuel, if it can be delivered, is much lower in cost. This is my basis for stating that a Balanced Portfolio of generation assets is important.
The majority of generation must be Dispatchable for voltage and frequency stability. Here below is a chart of real time power generation for a typical week in 2021. This is from the EIA website. Note that the majority (80%) of the power generation is from coal, nuclear and gas fuels. All dispatchable forms of electricity generation.
The above is real time generation. Below is the installed capacity by fuel type. Conventional generation is the majority and if this reliable generation is compromised then the entire US and the state of SC capability to deliver reasonable cost, reliable power will be harmed.
Solar power is useful for shaving day time peak load and I support the use of solar for purposes of taking advantage of daytime solar power. In fact, I was part of a team at a College in Pennsylvania where I agreed with the use of roof solar panels on the sports center for purposes of reducing August peak load demand from the local Utility. So, I agree that sometimes solar is practical, but not to replace reliable Base load Bulk Power Capacity such as the Winyah Coal plant generating capacity.
Solar and Wind power is more expensive than coal, nuclear and gas power generation. The chart below is one reference to show that. Below I will offer the example of Hawaii. Texas also should be considered from recent experiences of over building non-Dispatchable renewables.(2,11)
The chart below is Retail Electricity Costs as published on the EIA website(16) . Note the cost of Hawaii Electric which is about three times the cost of South Carolina. Hawaii of course, is an island and therefore they have no interconnections with neighboring Utilities such as Santee-Cooper does with Dominion and Duke. Therefore, the Bulk Power production costs are higher because when wind and solar is not available, Diesel Fuel is used for power generation. In large steam plants the fuel cost component of electricity generation is between 75 and 95% of the production cost at the Bus Bars. Check the Island Pulse website to see real time power generation by fuel.(14)
The continued good economic prosperity of South Carolina depends on a future of reasonable cost electric power. That future, in my strong opinion, should be provided by keeping the existing coal plants and including the coal transportation and supply chain infrastructure. Further, the existing coal plants should be operated, periodically tested and maintained. They should be protected from deterioration from corrosion and other forms of deterioration by operating them at a significant load factor and keeping them in top condition.
Each American that lives an above average life-style in our country uses about a million Btu’s per day. So, if the government wishes to outlaw fossil fuels through ever increasing regulations, then what are we prepared to give up? Politicians are continuing the war on carbon which began under the Clinton Administration in 1993. What freedoms are you and I willing to give up? As for me, and my family, I say none! As this is written, it is Memorial Day weekend and many fine Americans gave all so that we can enjoy our lives. The 2020 election created serious consequences for Americans to continue to live the American Dream.
Freedom & Sustainability
Joe Biden and the Democrats are doing their best to outlaw fossil fuels. This is un-American and in fact, anti-American sustainability. Sustainability to me, means to sustain our high quality of life and for our children and grandchildren to have an ever increasing quality of life. That is the way my God gifted life has gone, each year in general, became better with more manual work performed by energy. Some examples, modern electric appliances, power tools and yard tools. We depend on energy to replace muscle more than any time in history. Our quality of life is a result of using more energy and less muscle power. About a million Btus per day, per person. So, if Fossil Fuels are providing the majority of the energy we depend on (see 2021 LLNL chart below), then the Democrats must want us to scale back our quality of life? Because abundant, reasonable cost and reliable Energy is required to power our good lives. This includes the supply chain, fertilizer and food production, manufacturing, jobs, transportation and just about everything that makes living the American Dream possible. Fossil Fuels currently provide about 79% of our energy.
The illustrations above and below are copied from a presentation I gave to the Annual Meeting of the ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) in 2011. This was following the Financial crisis of 2008. Remember that? The energy consumption of the U.S. in 2009 actually dropped from about 100 Quadrillion Btu’s per year to about 94.6 Quadrillion Btu’s/year. The point is, that energy does in fact provide for economic prosperity and our high quality of life. Freedom too!
In 2009 about 50% of America’s electricity was being generated by coal. That was before the Shale Gas Revolution. After the recovery from the 2008 Financial crisis, life became very good again. Actually, we Americans have been Blessed with very good lives for many decades. I have had the gift of living for seven decades of a wonderful life reaching all the goals I could have wished for as a child. Energy has played a big part of America’s rise during the last 100 years. Now each of us uses about a million Btu’s of energy each day.
Coal fuel produced about 50% of America’s electric power up to about 2012 when the Shale Gas Revolution took over and natural gas became so abundant that fuel prices for gas dropped below coal. The graph below shows the trend of natural gas prices from 2006-2012. When natural gas dropped to about $2.00/million Btu it became very competitive with coal and in fact in certain areas of the U.S., a less expensive fuel than coal for power generation.
From Dick Storm OLLI Course , Energy Production Part 1, January 2021
Total Primary Energy Flows
Shown above is the Sankey Energy Flow Diagram for the year 2009. Below is the latest version of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Energy Flow Diagram for the year 2021. If you compare 2009 with 2021 Total Energy Flows, they are very close at 94.58 and 97.3 Quadrillion Btu’s. In 2019 America used right at 100.2 Quadrillion Btus. The economy was improving and 2019 was the year before the Covid Pandemic. So, as the economy improves, more energy is used. When the economy shrinks, less energy is used. This is TOTAL ENERGY which includes energy from all sources, including renewables. It also included electricity generation (about 37%) and Transportation (about 27%). Keep in mind that if we maintain or sustain our current freedoms of travel and lifestyles, likely the total energy use will remain rght at 100 Quadrillion Btus. Population increase and reshoring manufacturing will increase energy use above 100 Quad’s.
Can EV’s for Transportation Substitute Electricity for Petroleum?
There are about 280 million light trucks and cars on our highways today. All but about 11 million of these vehicles are fueled with gasoline and Diesel fuel. Heavy trucks for commerce are mostly Diesel powered and of course, airlines are fueled with Jet Fuel. These comprise fuel for transportation, which is about 28% of the Total Primary Energy used in the U.S. If these were all electrified then the electric power generation would need to vastly increase to use about 65% of the total primary energy. Of course, the about 8-10% of petroleum that is used for Jet Fuel will still be needed even if all other vehicles were replaced with EV’s. This is not practical any time soon. Check the excellent research that Donn Dears has done on this.(3)
Hydrogen as Fuel
Replacing petroleum with hydrogen fuel has been talked about for decades. Yes, it is feasible to use Electrolyzers to separate hydrogen and oxygen molecules from water and thus produce “GreenHydrogen”. However, it takes about 2.5 to 3 times more electricity to produce a unit of hydrogen than what that unit of energy will produce in electric power.
America uses about 100 Quadrillion btus each year. Over 79% of these energy units are provided by Fossil Fuels. Replacing them with renewables in the near term is at the very least, impractical. In my view it is impossible during my lifetime or the lifetime of my children.
Net Zero Carbon Policies are not driven by science or protection of the planet. They are politically driven for the benefit of politicians to wield power over the people.
Climate Policies are being formulated by politicians and non-science trained individuals.
Energy and Economic Prosperity are linked together. As shown in the Energy Flow diagrams above, when there was a recession in 2008-2009 America’s energy use declined. Likelwise during the 2020 Pandemic. As the Economy thrives, we use more energy. Energy is vital for a thriving economy.
America will continue to use 100 Quadrillion Btu’s per year and more when our economy is performing at it’s best. As population grows and hopefully, more manufacturing is reshored, energy use will rise. Solar and wind power cannot meet this increase.
New Nuclear plants are needed to keep a Balanced Electric Generation Portfolio(7,8,9)
By not keeping a Balanced Electric Generation Portfolio, America risks energy shortages and Blackouts(10)
All Developed Countries depend on reliable, affordable energy. In my opinion, a significant portion of the 100 Quadrillion Btu’s America has been using for decades, should continue to be supplied by coal fuel.(6, 22)
The Transportation fuels of gasoline and Diesel cannot be replaced in the short term with EV’s or Hydrogen.
If America continues on the Net-Zero Carbon Path, then it will lead to a reduction in our freedoms to live sustainable lives as we have been accustomed to. (11)
Energy is important not only to power our high quality of lives, but reasonable cost, abundant energy is also important to the supply chain and food production(17)
Each person that lives in a Developed Country and enjoys our high quality of life uses well over a million Btu’s per day. This post is a reminder of the importance of energy to power our lives and the sources of the energy we depend upon.
The war on carbon has been going on for a long time. I have written my thoughts on the start of the war on carbon which has been escalating since the Clinton Presidency and was ramped up during Obama’s. The Biden Administration has further ramped up Climate Policies (aka war on carbon) which encompass the entire government, making the Clinton and Obama attacks on carbon compare as small nuisances. Then the United Nations Secretary General has piled on with his urging to ban investment in any fossil fuel production and to use the world’s financial institutions to cut off investment through ESG policies. The Main Stream Media and Entertainment and many “Woke Banks and large Businesses” have joined in to create a serious indoctrination program for the people of the world and tightened up the available financial investment to expand or modernize energy production facilities of any type. Not only the U.S., but the Climate Policies of the world to attain Net Zero Carbon by 2050 now has much momentum. The purpose of this post is to simply lay out the facts of the energy needs of today for anyone living in the Developed World.
The Importance of Energy
Energy use, economic prosperity and Quality of life go hand in hand. The title of one of Mr. Donn Dears recent books is: “NET-ZERO Carbon, The Climate Policy Destroying America”.
At first glance, the sub title, “Climate Policy Destroying America” may seem to be an exaggeration. The intention of this short essay is to show that Mr. Dears is correct, if we move toward Net-Zero Carbon too quickly, it will destroy the American way of life and will cripple our economy. The word “Sustainability” means to me, that we sustain our quality of life as Americans have enjoyed for many years. Energy, quality of life and economic prosperity are all related. Kindly stick with me and read to the end to review the importance of conventional energy.
100 Quadrillion Btu’s Per Year Energy Use
America has used right at 100 Quadrillion Btu’s (+/- 10) annually of energy for the last twenty years. The EIA and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have calculated and published this data for decades. Here is an excerpt of the LLNL description from their website.
“The national economy is reenergizing, quite literally”
Each year, LLNL releases flow charts that illustrate the nation’s consumption and use of energy. In 2021, Americans used 97.3 quads (quadrillion BTU) of energy, which is 4.4 quads more than last year’s 92.9 quads, equivalent to a 5% increase. Both 2020 and 2021 annual energy consumption totals are less than 2018 and 2019, where Americans used more than 100 quads per year. A BTU, or British Thermal Unit, is a unit of measurement for energy; a BTU is the amount of heat it takes to raise 1 pound (~1 pint) of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit. 3,412 BTUs is equivalent to 1 kilowatt-hour, which is the amount of energy it takes to light an efficient LED lightbulb for a week. “ The chart below includes all forms of energy, including wind and solar which are included as the thermal equivalents of the electric power they produced. The chart shows “Total Primary Energy” which includes electricity generation, residential, commercial, industrial and transportation. This is my favorite chart for illustrating energy sources and uses. Suffice it to say, it is a lot of information in one chart.
Please note the quantities of solar and wind which are 1.5 Quads for solar and 3.33 Quads for wind. Yes, this is an increase from previous years. However, the total wind and solar is 3.85 Quads or right at 4%.
My point is that Electrifying Everything if it were possible to take a magic wand and change all energy use to electric power, including heating, cooking, transportation and industrial production, then it will take a growth of 25 times what is installed now by nameplate power. When considering capacity factors of wind and solar it will actually be more like 75-100 times current installed capacity plus, technological advancements in energy storage would need to be accomplished. In essence, it is impossible to get there within 8 to 28 years (2030 or 2050) and still sustain our high quality of life and yes, our high standard of living. Not to mention Dispatchability, energy storage limitations and land use requirements. Also, the practical limitations of changing energy use for transportation, the second largest use of total primary energy after electricity generation, to electric or hydrogen power. How many of us would be willing to fly on a hastily developed hydrogen fueled jet aircraft? Change our lives to use EV’s for long distance drives? Give up the plastics, textiles and numerous other products that are created from oil, gas and coal? Let’s get back to what we do and enjoy through the use of today’s forms of energy.
So, How Much Energy, in Btu’s Does Each American Use per day?
The illustration below was prepared to show a Middle School class the equivalent forms of energy they would use in a day. For our high quality of living, it is not hard to see how we depend on an average of about a million Btu’s of energy each day.
Not shown in the illustration is the energy that is used on our behalf to provide industrial production, military defense and transportation of food and products to our local stores or even deliveries to our door via Amazon, Walmart, UPS, FedEx or other delivery services. Also, about 1% of America’s energy is used to produce fertilizer for farming, not including the fuel for tractors and processing food. All of these energy uses averaged out come to (in a good year) about 100 Quadrillion Btu’s. Remember, up to now, 4% are from wind and solar.
Does it seem reasonabe to expect that we can electrify everything? Including aircraft propulsion, all light vehicles, trucks, ships, trains, fertilizer and more? I don’t think so.
Think about your day and both the necessities and the conveniences made available through the use of energy. My heading stated we use an average of about a million Btu’s per person each day. For those that will read this post, I suspect each of you are using far more than a million Btu’s per day. For example if a person takes a two hour flight on a airline, even at 80 miles per gallon per seat mile, the per person fuel for a 1,000 mile flight is about 12.5 gallons of Jet A. The plane trip alone uses about a million five hundred thousand Btu’s. The LLNL and EIA data that show our “average use per citizen” include children and folks that live very modestly and do not travel much. Also, the importance of energy used for Industrial production (including producing products from oil feedstock) which provides jobs and a productive economy cannot be underestimated. Industrial production to compete with China cannot be powered by solar and wind any time soon.
Summary and Conclusions
Where extreme priorities have been imposed to switch to renewables such as in Germany, the UK, Hawaii and Texas, there have been issues of high costs, unreliability and economic impact. Some references for further reading are provided below.
I agree with the Title of Donn Dears book, “NET-ZERO CARBON, THE CLIMATE POLICY DESTROYING AMERICA“
Dick Storm USCB-OLLI Courses, Energy and Electricity, History of Energy and Electricity and the Future of Energy and Electricity. The four parts of the “History of Energy and Electricity” are on my website: https://dickstormprobizblog.org
The United Nation’s Highest Priority In November 2021 to Save The Planet Was COP-26. Which Is More Important , Peace in the World, The Paris Climate Agreement or Avoiding World Famine and Improving the Quality of Life For All of the People of the World, Including Ukraine?
By Dick Storm
Horrible crimes against humanity are being committed in the Russia-Ukraine war. Innocent people are being murdered, homes demolished by military bombardment and artillery, world food production slowed(3,4,5) and what are the leaders of the world concerned about? Manmade Climate Change, the most successful scientific hoax in the history of the world. Three world leaders could improve world peace and start the correction of the mess the world is in today if they would change the priorities of the UN. Who am I referring to: Joe Biden, Justin Trudeau and the United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres.
Remember the UN priorities in November 2021? If not, here is a review of what these three leaders considered the most sinister problem the people of the world would face in the future. Flashback to Scotland, November 2021:
What is The Purpose of the United Nations and The Paris Agreement? World Peace? Protection of the Environment?….or One World Government to Control The People of The World?
As the world is on the threshold of nuclear war with a world food crisis likely next winter from reduced fertilizer availability and massive unproductive farmland in a war zone, these three leaders and many other sycophants have the Paris Agreement for Climate Change Policies as their top agenda, instead of the best interests of their constituents, world peace and improving the human development index of the people of the world.
I feel strongly that the top priority of these leaders and the U.N. is not concern for the planet that drives them. It is politics and control of the world’s citizens. In short, power over people. For example, the UN Secretary General’s background is copied below. This is from his Bio on the UN web page, From Mr. Guterres Curriculum vitae: “For many years Mr. Guterres was active in the Socialist International, a worldwide organization of social democratic political parties.”
Let me digress and quote the past president of the Czech Republic on the “Climate Zealots” such as Guterres, Biden, Kerry, Gore, Trudeau and many more.
Vaclav Klaus is Past President of The Czech Republic and grew up under Communism then had to wrestle with policies by the “Greens” of Europe. An Economist by training. His words, from about 2007…..“Global Warming is a false myth and every serious person and scientist says so. It is not fair to refer to the U.N. panel. The IPCC is not a scientific institution: it’s a political body, a sort of non-government organization of green flavor. It’s neither a forum of neutral scientists nor a balanced group of scientists. These people are polititicized scientists who have arrive there with a one-sided opinion and a one-sided argument”(49)
Justin Trudeau also could help guide the United Nations to a truly serious priority, but according to Peter Schweizer’s recent book, “Red Handed”, Trudeau also ranks political power above world peace. See page 187 describing the Trudeau family and links to China: Justin Trudeau is quoted in 2013: When asked which country he admired the most replied “There is a level of admiration I actually have for China….because their basic dictatorship is allowing them to turn their economy around on a dime and say, ‘we need to go greenest, fastest—we need to invest in solar’ I mean, there is flexibility that I know Stephen Harper (the Canadian PM at the time) must dream dream about having a dictatorship that he can do everything he wanted, and I find that quite interesting”
It should be blatently obvious that ranking peace and the world food supply should be more important than the Paris Climate Agreement which is based on a scientific hoax anyway. Ukraine alone supplied about 12% of the global wheat before the war, and was the biggest producer of sunflower oil. About two-thirds of the country’s wheat exports had already been delivered before the invasion, but the rest is now blocked, and farmers may be unable to continue with spring planting, or take in grain harvests in the summer. A headline in the “Times of Israel” reads, “Israel scrambles for solutions as Ukraine war chokes off egg, wheat imports”Industry figures predict egg shortage and sky-high wheat prices just in time for Passover holiday. The prospect for the world later this year is shortages of food across the globe. (3,4,5, 30)
Fertilizer costs in the U.S. have also tripled this year. Partly because of Biden’s energy policies and exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The impact of energy on food availability goes beyond higher cost Diesel fuel for shipping transportation fuel in the supply chain. Fertilizer and farmland in areas of conflict are a huge problem. (2,3,4,9,10)
Perhaps better kept as a separate subject to write on, but most people are not aware that between 30 to 40% of the U.S. corn crop is used to produce Ethanol for a gasoline additive that lowers the energy equivalent of gasoline and reduces auto mileage. Suffice it to say, energy and environmental policies that promote burning food for fuel also affects the world food supply.(16,17)
How is Energy Linked to World Peace?
I began this essay on the priorities of the leaders of the world and the priorities they saw as top priority in November 2021. Well, if you think the Mainstream Media has been duped and indoctrinated then you are not alone. While the world’s media attention was on the War on Carbon, very serious problems were brewing and under-reported. Kindly take a look at the six charts below: 1. Total primary energy of the world, 2. Coal Consumption by Region, 3. CO2 Emissions of the World, 4. Total Energy by Source for China and 5. Total End Use of Coal Fuel for Products and 6. China, The World’s Superpower of Manufacturing.
Over 50% of the world’s Fossil Fuel energy is being used by China to manufacture over 50% of the world’s steel, aluminum and just about every other product needed by the free world. These are easily verifiable facts reported by Our World in Data, IEA.org, the United Nations, EIA and Statista. Energy and Economic Prosperity are inextricably related.
So what is driving the recent rapid increase in world CO2 emissions? According to the IEA, it’s mainly China:
The rebound of global CO2 emissions above pre-pandemic levels has largely been driven by China. . . . China’s CO2 emissions increased by 750 Mt over the two-year period between 2019 and 2021. China was the only major economy to experience economic growth in both 2020 and 2021. The emissions increase in China more than offset the aggregate decline in the rest of the world of 570 Mt between 2019 and 2021. . . . With rapid GDP growth and additional electrification of energy services, electricity demand in China grew by 10% in 2021, faster than economic growth at 8.4%. The increase in demand of almost 700 TWh was the largest ever experienced in China. With demand growth outstripping the increase of low emissions supply, coal was called on to fill 56% of the rise in electricity demand.(47)
Total Energy Supply (TES) By Source, People’s Republic of China, 1990-2019
“The South China Morning Post” reported April 1, 2022, quoting “China’s Zhang Jianhua, chief of the National Energy Administration: “It signed an agreement to be supplied with 100 million metric tonnes of Russian crude oil over the next 10 years and a 30-year gas supply contract.
The world’s second largest economy suffered a nationwide energy crunch in September of last year amid local decarbonisation and energy saving campaigns, which has forced policymakers to adjust energy policies.
In the 14th five-year energy plan for 2021-25 released last week, Beijing said it would set annual crude output at around 200 million metric tonnes and lift natural gas output to more than 230 billion cubic metres from 205.3 billion cubic metres.
Coal and thermal power will remain the bedrock of China’s energy security strategy, Zhang wrote in the article.” (31)
The above is a direct quote from the SCMP, except the bold and underlining of the last line which was by me.
A recent post in WUWT stated, “China Continues To Laugh At Western “Green Energy” Foolishness”(47)
Why? The graphs above show China’s energy sources and growth in consumption. Economic prosperity is powered by Energy and China has used a lot of energy to become the world’s largest manufacturer.
Russia is the World’s Gas Station, China is the World’s Largest Manufacturer, Still think the UN Has it Right with the War on Carbon as their Top Priority?
China continues to power their mammoth manufacturing might with coal plants. We should remember our history, do you remember the term “The Arsenal of Democracy” when America provided the remarkable production of airplanes, tanks, guns, ships, arms and materiel to help the Allies win WWll? Some say “History Repeats”…..and if we switch to current events, Russia and China are very cozy with each other at this horrible time for Ukraine.
My point is that energy is a pre-requisite for economic prosperity. China gets it. China, Environmental Extremists, Socialists and Russia have duped the UN and the world leaders into believing the planet is imperiled by 0.041% carbon dioxide that is in the atmosphere. Meanwhile, China burns over half of the world’s coal to power their industries. Russia remains the world’s gas station and holds Europe hostage to Russia’s gas (and more) while the Green’s of Germany shut down safe, proven, reliable and reasonable production cost coal and nuclear power plants, making them beholden to Russian energy. This is nuts.
China has risen from a “Developing Country” in 2000 to the second largest economy in the world. They not only manufacture much of the steel, aluminum, rare earth minerals for batteries, solar panels and wind turbine components, they also manufacture much of the Pharmaceuticals used in the world and in the U.S. Have you tried to purchase a made in U.S.A. Drug lately? This brings me to banking. As a small businessman about thirty years ago, I remember how important banks were to sustain our business. To provide business loans for expansion, cover payroll until the invoice for products or services was paid and for conducting commerce in other countries. Banks and the size of banks is one metric to use to judge a country’s economic prosperity. China seems to me, to be pretty slick in their approach to dominating the world. They quietly support Russia and other rogue nations while they focus on producing products, acquiring world natural resources and taking over the world by using the weaknesses of Democracy & Capitalism to exploit their Financial muscle. Let’s take a look at China’s financial muscle. To be perfectly honest, the ranking of the world banks surprised me and I thought I kept up with world business news.
China and Banking
China now has five of the world’s ten largest Banks. Yes, being the world’s largest manufacturer has it’s advantages. It creates wealth which can then be converted into International Influence. The China “One Belt, One Road” or “Belt and Roads Initiative” is an example that is playing out around the world. Also, I am told by a financial expert, China holds about 4% of the U.S. Treasury debt.
A lot of people who have not run a business do not understand the need for working Capital. When a company cannot get loans to cover everyday costs or to finance future improvements they go out of business. We might ask some questions regarding the ESG Movement and Regulations that are pending with regard to discouraging or demonizing investments in fossil fuels (and suppliers to fossil fuel producers) by US investors. Is there a sinister, foreign influence side to the ESG movement and Federal Regulations? Here is the list of the top ten banks of the world. Yes, five of the top ten are Chinese.
My point is, manufacturing requires lots of energy. Especially primary metals and heavy manufacturing. As seen from the graphs above, China has grown enormously in manufacturing capacity since they entered the WTO in 2001. To put it in perspective, China built more electric generation capacity in twenty years than the U.S. did since the days of Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse 100+ years ago.
Getting back to finance, did you catch the small news item last week? As it is related to energy, Saudi Arabia is considering acceptance of the Chinese Yuan for oil and China will be pushing to use other currency than the USD as they continue to grow their economy. (50)
Let’s Review the Sources of the Dependable, Dispatchable and in 2020, Reasonable Cost Energy that We Depend On
If you take what you see in the newspapers and on TV seriously, you would think that we only have a little way to go to convert our economy to zero carbon. This is not true!
I cite the example of a usually conservative Newspaper, the Wall Street Journal. This is a screen shot of a video they had last year which was based on facts, but at the same time misleading the public on the success of “Green Energy”.
Yes, the 90% of “NEW GENERATION” in 2020 was Renewable, but the true useful energy production was less than 4% of the total energy provided to the U.S.A.
This is a reminder, over 90% of America’s energy is provided by conventional fuels such as oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear, waste to energy, biomass and old hydroelectric power stations. The Lawrence Livermore Labs Sankey Diagram, in my opinion, is the best single illustration to show true energy flows from the sources to end use. It is copied below for the year 2019. This is simply the true facts of where we obtain our energy:
America has been using right at 100 Quadrillion Btu’s of energy for decades. The next chart below, shows the historical energy use from 1950-2019. This is a useful chart to consider the transfer of energy from fossil fuels to electric vehicles. Notice that only 3.78% of our Total Energy was provided by solar and wind in 2019. Now imagine the futility of replacing the 37% of our Total Energy now provided by petroleum, with EV’s. The Government Net Zero Carbon plans to replace not only the petroleum but also Natural Gas and Nuclear. The Total Energy supplied by Petroleum is about 37%, Gas 32%, Coal 11.4% and Nuclear 8.5%. These “Conventional sources of energy total 88.9%. Replacing this energy with renewables by 2030 or even 2050 will require an enormous technological breakthrough. The government should not promote policies based on miracles.
To keep our same freedom and high quality of life, it requires each of us 331 million Americans to utilize an average of about a million Btu’s in energy each day. Averages are often misleading, consider the millions of Btu’s used by the world elitists that traveled to Scotland for COP-26. My understanding is that there were over 400 private jets and that the fuel used for these delegates exceeded the total petrol used by Scotland for an entire year. That should provide a clue regarding the sincere interest of the participants in the UN Climate talks to save the planet. It is reasonable for each of us living in the Developed World to continue using our allotment of about a million Btu’s of energy each day.
My Suggestion, On How to Fix this Energy, World Peace and Food Supply Mess
The War of Carbon in my viewpoint is contributing to International conflicts and harming world peace. If Joe Biden would rescind most of his Executive orders including drilling on Federal Lands, Building the Keystone Pipeline and scrapping the Paris Climate Agreement, it would, in my opinion, contribute to world peace and much more.(1,2,3,5,13)
The Biden administration is testing new depths of mind-blowing political dysfunction, by begging OPEC for more oil, while at the same time maintaining their attack on the US domestic oil industry. (28) Speaking of attacks on the energy producers that we depend on…..
ESG, One of America’s Self Inflicted Roadblocks for a Sane Energy Policy
The (ESG) movement is harming U.S. productive capacity of conventional fuels that are needed. (See above Sankey Diagram to show what we need) These actions are pushed by environmental groups, by government and by big business. (33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40) These ESG punitive actions have been ramped up, such as Biden’s “Whole Government Approach to Climate Control Policies” with involvement of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the EPA, IRS Tax policies and more.
Meanwhile, NGO’s also are attacking US Energy producers. Does this look to you like it could be coordinated with America’s world competitors or enemies? It does to me. Check reference #44 entitled, “What Divestment From Russia Means for Activism Against Fossil Fuels” then the sub title: “It’s time to scale up fossil fuels divestment”(44). When 80% of the energy we depend on is from oil, gas & coal, does this seem like a Patriotic and good action? Not in my book. Another excellent reference on the good that Fossil Fuels do to keep America strong and to improve the quality of life for all of the people of the world. The publication by Liberty Oilfield Services is entitled “Bettering Human Lives, 2020 ESG Report”(45)
It could be argued, that keeping America energy independent and the Free World less dependent on rogue nations is important for national security. Look at the mess Europe is in now with their dependence on Putin’s Russian natural gas. The Greens helped push Europe toward Green Energy and they are working hard here in the US too. The environmental extremists were successful in stopping all major new coal plants from being constructed in the US since about 2012. The last major Utility scale clean coal plants I am aware of are Turk in Arkansas and Longview in West Virginia. Even then to obtain operating permits, the environmental extremists were paid off in settlements. These settlements were millions of dollars.(46) Quite honestly, it is extortion which was enabled by the US government. How does this make America stronger and more energy independent?
How About Clean Air?
Before Biden’s Executive orders to push America toward intermittent green energy, our air was and remains amongst the cleanest in the world. The EPA Graphic copied below shows the trends of cleaner air from 1970-2020. This is regarding the six major pollutants that are a real threat to health. I just like everyone else enjoy and appreciate clean air and clean water. I also like my freedom and the American life style that I have enjoyed all of my life.
From my personal experiences of traveling around the world, I can honestly say America’s air is as clean or cleaner than most other countries that I have visited either on business or pleasure. Note the EPA chart above does show the increases in population and GDP from 1970 to 2019, as the six aggregate named pollutants were steadily reduced. There does come to be a point of diminishing returns on air pollution controls just like most other problems. That is, unless you are a Bureaucrat and wish to keep making more and more and stricter yet Regulations. That is the case, in my opinion of the restrictions on CO2 and the Net Zero Carbon and Extreme Green policies. These Regulations and Executive Orders are harmful for American competitiveness and harmful for Peace and Prosperity of the world.
The Net-Zero Carbon Climate Policies are contributing to turmoil in the world by weakening America and NATO Allies. The Paris Agreement for working toward Net Zero Carbon is politically driven, not by concern to save the planet.
The Green Energy Movement in Europe should be an example for the U.S. to learn from. They have had extreme cost escalations and, in some cases, rolling blackouts.
Conventional Fuels of Natural Gas, Coal, Oil, Nuclear, Hydroelectric and Biomass provide over 90% of our energy. Ramping up Renewable solar and wind from about 4% to 100% is unrealistic and impossible to achieve without technological breakthroughs.
The ESG Movement (Environmental Social and Governance) is Discouraging needed investments in oil and gas production as well as harming most all Energy Producers. Check references 33 through 39 for more details.
If Net Zero Carbon was really needed or important, then the Government would encourage the building of more nuclear power plants. Hundreds of them as most of the about 20% of our electricity and over 50% of our carbon free electricity is produced by nuclear now. Most of these nuclear plants were started up in the 1970’s and 1980’s. (41, 42, 43)
World Peace and Prosperity could be better achieved if the world leaders were to focus on the true problems of the world, rather than a war on carbon.
The foregoing are selected facts and data to support my claim that if President Biden were to rescind his 2021 Executive orders and roll back EPA, Dept of the Interior and other Government Regulations to those in effect when he took office, America could begin a recovery of correcting inflation, supply chain issues, increased food production for the world, improved economic growth & Prosperity and even leading the world to peace.
Dick Storm, April 5, 2022
References and Resources for Further Reading to Support My Conclusions:
Helping our youth to understand the importance of energy and electricity to energize our good lives
Why Should We Invest Time with the Public School Students?
From a personal viewpoint, I have always considered it a high priority to do my best to support energy education of the public and especially our public school students. A great group to start with if we wish to improve the general public’s understanding of the importance of energy. Perhaps if we start with the youth, they will educate their parents on the facts; That conventional sources comprise about 90% of the total energy that makes our high quality of life possible. By conventional, I mean, Natural Gas, Nuclear, Coal and Hydroelectric.
All of us who have been employed in the supply chain of producing energy understand the rarity of energy savvy people we meet who are not or have not been closely involved with our industry. So, when an opportunity to present a short class on energy and electricity generation came up at our local Middle School, I accepted the invitation. Here are some of the slides I will use for this group of 8th Graders.
The general public’s knowledge of energy and it’s importance seems to be limited to gasoline prices. When in a social setting and I discuss the U.S. need for 100 Quadrillion Btu’s of energy and where it comes from, most people’s eyes glaze over and are not very interested. However, with the Russia-Ukraine war, it seems folks are more interested now than they were a few months ago. Perhaps timely to give a course on energy fundamentals.
Each American uses about 800,000 to 1 million Btu’s every day
How did I come up with 800,000 – 1,000,000 Btu’s per person, per day? Here is how: America uses right at 100 Quadrillion Btu’s annually. If 100 Quadrillion (15 zeros) is divided by the population of the U.S.A. of about 330 million people, the result is about 303 million Btu’s per person. This is the average energy use for each of us. Then, divide 303 million by 365 days per year and it is 830,000 Btu’s per day. The above illustration shows how we may use our portion of fuels to consume our share of the Nation’s energy. If we are traveling by car for an interstate trip, we can easily use more than a million Btu’s in a day. Likewise, ordering a large shipment of furniture or heavy goods from Amazon or other on-line Retailer will require energy to be used on our behalf to deliver our products to the door. You get the picture.
Another way to illustrate 300-330 million Btu’s is to show the equivalence in barrels of gasoline, Diesel Fuel, propane or coal. Also, nuclear. This is shown below.
So Where Did You Come up with 100 Quadrillion Btu’s?
The U.S. Department of Energy has been measuring, calculating and reporting total primary energy use for decades. I have been watching this and America’s energy use has held right at 100 Quadrillion Btu’s +/- 10%, for the last twenty years or so. Below is the Sankey diagram which shows 2019 total primary energy flows. The sources are on the left and uses are on the right. This is how the breakdown of uses was established: 37% electricity generation, 28.1% transportation, 26.4% Industrial, 11.4% Residential and 9.41% Commercial.
I stated above that the U.S. has used right at 100 Quadrillion Btu’s for decades. The chart below published by the EIA (Energy Information Administration) shows the total energy used 1950 to 2019. The differences in “Production and Consumption” are imports. As of December 2020, America produced as much energy as we consumed. Again, right at 100 quadrillion Btu’s.
Let’s Drill Down to See Where the Energy Is Used in SC to Generate Electricity
Currently and at least through 2030, over 50% of South Carolina’s electricity will come from nuclear power generation.
S.C. has four large nuclear power plants with a total of seven generating units. Here is a map of where they are located.
The second largest source of our electricity is natural gas fuel. This is burned very efficiently in power plants such as this. The newest natural gas generating plants can obtain thermal efficiencies over 60%.
Coal fuel was over 50% of Santee-Cooper’s electric generation about ten years ago. Since then, natural gas fuel became lower in cost and abundant and has replaced much of the coal power generation. However, today natural gas prices are increasing and it is likely that coal fuel will be more economical to generate our electricity not generated by nuclear and renewables.
The Santee-Cooper coal plants that provide electricity to our local electricity distributor, Palmetto Electric Co-Op are shown below.
Isn’t Most of Our Power Provided by Solar, Wind and Hydro-Electric?
No! That is a popular misconception. Even the Wall Street Journal has misled people into thinking that most of our electricity is generated by renewables (wind, solar and hydro). The data above show the true facts of the sources of our electricity and total energy.
Note that of our total energy in 2019, wind and solar together only provided about 3.8% of America’s total energy. The 96.2% was provided by conventional forms of energy such as nuclear, natural gas, coal and hydro-electric. The WSJ Headline is accurate in stating that 90% of the New Electricity Generation in 2020 came from Renewables. That is because they used “Nameplate Capacity” for the Renewables and the simple fact that the “Old coal, Nuclear, Coal and Hydroelectric” plants are very robust, reliable and have long lives when properly maintained.
The Santee-Cooper Pinnopolis Dam, Hydro-Electric plant is shown above. When I use the term “Old Hydroelectric plants”, this is where I was coming from. If you look at “Total Renewables Energy” on the Sankey diagram above, you will see that most of the renewable generation is from old hydroelectric plants. In 2019 that was about 2.5% of our total primary energy as compared to 1.04% solar.
These are the hydro plants operated by Santee-Cooper. Located about 100 miles north of Hilton Head near Moncks Corner, SC.
Much is written in the news about solar and many people are of the impression that solar is a major source of Bulk Electric generation. The fact is that yes, much money is being invested in solar but the total generation is very small when compared to nuclear, gas and coal. Here below is a much hyped solar farm on the east side of I-95 about 50 miles north of Hilton Head. It is about 15 acres and during a bright sunny day will produce about 3.5 MW.
By the way, if 3.5 MW seems like a lot of electric power consider that on a hot summer day Hilton Head Island uses about 180 MW during peak Demand.
Palmetto Electric Co-Op distributes electricity on Hilton Head Island. They obtain most of their Bulk Power wholesale from Santee-Cooper which is owned by the state of SC. Generation capacity of Santee-Cooper power plants is listed below. Note, most generation capacity is coal, nuclear and natural gas.
Electricity is Secondary Energy and uses about 37% of America’s total Primary Energy. The other 63% of Energy is Important to Fuel Our High Quality Lives!
The Federal government, at this point in time, is stating and making policies that would “Electrify Everything”. Especially transportation. Most large automobile manufacturers have stated that they plan to phase out the Internal Combustion Engine by 2035. That is only 13 years into the future.
Think about the chart above. Yes, 96% of our Primary Energy comes from conventional sources. (I consider nuclear, coal, gas, biomass and hydroelectric all conventional sources) The highest percentage of primary energy is from petroleum. America uses about 20 million barrels per day of oil. To illustrate what 20 million barrels per day looks like, take a look at the photo below. This is a picture of me standing in front of a portion of the above ground Aleyeska pipeline in Alaska. It is above ground because of passing through frozen tundra and the heated oil must be above ground for environmental and pipeline integrity concerns. This pipeline is capable of moving about 2 million barrels of oil per day. So, to imagine the quantity of oil that America uses, picture 10 of these pipelines side by side. Yes, 10 pipelines like this. At 42 gallons per barrel, that is a lot of oil.(2)
Most rimary energy is used in “Heat Engines” that convert heat energy to motive force. Another point to imagine, is if the about 275 million light trucks and cars registered in the U.S. were converted to EV’s…..This could create Demand for an enormous amount of electricity. However, in some cases the electricity needs to be “Dispatchable” when it is needed, such as in charging EV’s on a road trip. In other cases such as long range aircraft and ship propulsion, electricity is not an option with current technology. Fossil Fuels are important to fuel our lives.
Heat Energy from fuels is enormous. Just a reminder of the definition of a “Horsepower” and a BTU (British Thermal Unit).
A horsepower is equivalent to the work accomplished by lifting a weight of 550 pounds in one second or 33,000 Foot pounds per minute. One BTU converted at 100% thermal efficiency to work is equivalent to 778 Foot pounds. A gallon of gasoline contains between 115,000 and 125,000 Btu’s. So one gallon of gasoline is worth over 90 million foot pounds of work.
Perhaps a reminder of agricultural productivity is timely. At the turn of the 20th Century, about 40% of our population was required to work on the farms to feed our nation. Then, we changed from muscle power of animals to mechanized farming, using tractors. The work of a team of horses could be accomplished with a single gasoline powered tractor.
A reminder from U.S. history…..Our Economy became the largest in the world as America switched from muscle power of draft animals and humans to mechanization powered by fossil fuels.
Summary and Conclusions
Energy and Economic Prosperity are inter-related
America has used about 100 Quadrillion Btu’s annually for decades and to preserve our high quality of life, will continue to require 100 Quadrillion+ Btu’s each year into the future
Fossil fuels provide about 80% of our total primary energy
Conventional forms of energy, including Gas, Nuclear, Coal and old Hydroelectric plants, provide over 90% of our primary energy
The Mainstream News, Entertainment and Misguided Politicians are wrong to attack fossil fuels. Donn Dears book(4) “Net Zero Carbon, Climate Policies Destroying America” lays out facts and policies to support the title
When I am in the classroom, I will not discuss the politics of “Climate Change”, only the facts on energy and electricity. I hope all of my friends employed in energy industries do likewise to attempt to set the record straight on the importance of energy and electricity.
Yours very truly,
Dick Storm, March 9, 2022
References for further reading and research:
Dick Storm USCB-OLLI Courses, Energy and Electricity, History of Energy and Electricity and the Future of Energy and Electricity. The four parts of the “History of Energy and Electricity” are on my website: https://dickstormprobizblog.org