Each citizen needs about 315 million Btus of energy to sustain our freedom of travel and way of life
Yesterday I was a guest speaker at the “Money Talks Club” gathering in Sun City. I presented my views of Net Zero Carbon and was impressed with the interest and understanding of energy and electricity generation by the group. A fine gathering of American Patriots and I was honored to be their guest. At the same time of my talk, Santee-Cooper published their final 2023 IRP which shows the planned shut down of the 1,150 MW Winyah coal plant and plans to replace the generation largely with solar panels. Based on my experience yesterday, I thought it would be timely to attempt to explain in as short a post as possible, the importance of energy to our lives and where this primary energy can be sourced. Hint, it is not from wind and solar.
I have lived the American Dream and wish the same for my grandchildren to do so. I also pray that the U.S. politicians will wakeup and understand the energy sources to keep America strong, productive and free.
As shown above, the majority of the energy we depend on each day is sourced from traditional forms of primary energy. To me, sustainable living means that we Americans can continue to live our good lives as we have been. Doing so requires that reasonable cost, abundant forms of energy are an absolute pre-requisite. Replacing the traditional forms of energy with wind and solar is simply not possible. Attempting to do so by, shutting down, “Killing the supply chain”, demolishing and abolishing reliable forms of primary energy as shown above, is self sabotaging our quality of life. It is engineering fiction to believe that wind, solar and batteries can replace the Primary Energy sources that have served us so well for my entire life-time and I have been Blessed with many good years.
The most descriptive and simplified chart to show the forms of energy we depend on and how that energy is used, is the LLNL energy flow chart. The 2021 version is shown below.
Americans have used right at 100 Quadrillion Btus of Primary energy for over 20 years. The chart from 2021 shows a total of 97.3 Quads because 2021 was after the Covid lockdowns and reduced freedom of travel and reduced industrial production as well as other factors. The fact remains that Americans still used within +/- 3% of the decades long energy consumption, about the same amount of total Primary Energy, 100 Quads.
Electricity is Secondary Energy
The understanding of Primary and Secondary Energy should be clarified. When the government or MSM promotes “Electrify Everything” they are suggesting that electricity always will be available from some unlimited and magical source to power their EV’s, trucks, cooking, HVAC, industrial production, etc. The inference is that pollution free electricity can be provided by wind and solar to replace fossil fuels by simply spending billions of taxpayer dollars in incentives and installing millions of acres of wind farms and solar panels. My point here is to remind readers that Electricity is Secondary Energy. It must be generated using Primary energy! Batteries and hydrogen are also forms of Secondary Energy.
Let’s go back to the LLNL energy flow chart above. Note that wind and solar provided less than 5% of the total Primary energy in 2021. This is after over 30 years of incentives to force renewable wind and solar onto the Grid. Most of the other 95% Primary Energy was provided by conventional forms of energy.
How Can We Electrify Everything Without Increasing Generation From Traditional Forms of Energy?
The short answer is, we can’t. I have written other posts to explain. Donn Dears and Vaclav Smil together have written over 50 books to try to explain the importance of energy and the most likely sources for the future. I highly recommend their books to help understand the Importance of Energy and the differences between Primary and Secondary Energy..
Here is a list of the most common sources of carbon-free energy. Please refer to the LLNL Energy Flow chart above and then you decide how to replace or reduce fossil fuels by substituting those that are socially acceptable today:
I wanted to keep this post short and concise. For more details on the importance of energy in our lives, I suggest referring to other posts on my Blog and Donn Dears and Vaclav Smil’s books listed below.
The most important point of this post is to attempt to explain how keeping your quality of life depends on abundant, reasonable cost and reliable Primary Energy. Electrifying transportation and nearly everything else you use and doing so with wind and solar alone will be impossible in the near term.
Since the Oil Embargoes of the 1970 and 1980’s the public has been indoctrinated by extremists. Part of the indoctrination was well meaning to force government action on cleaning the air and water of our great country. This goal, has been largely accomplished. However, the extremists have grown in influence to seek more than clean air and clean water, they have morphed into promoters of Socialism and one world government. My previous posts on my Blog have described my thoughts on the demonization of carbon and the war on coal, and how they came to be. This post was primarily written to show my attempt through a two part course on energy and electricity generation to provide an energy information course for the general public. The course was provided as part of the USCB-OLLI program and entitled, “Understanding Net Zero Carbon”. It is posted on LinkedIn. Part 1 and Part 2. Then, as I thought about the misguided indoctrination of the public, I thought it would be helpful to provide some insight as to how such absurd energy policies came to be. Therefore, at the end of this post is a summary of some of how this public indoctrination into “Electrifying Everything with Wind and Solar” evolved. It began as misguided public indoctrination. Now it is the “Green New Deal” passed into law and codified into government policy as part of the so-called “Inflation Reduction Act”. The green policy is based on the premis that, “Everything can be Electrified”. Really? The illustration below shows the traditional sources of 95% of our primary energy. A large part of the public’s misunderstanding about energy is NOT knowing the difference between Primary and Secondary Energy. Many Energy providers do not help with clearing up the public’s confusion. I will provide an example later.
Net Zero Carbon by 2050 and Sustaining Our High Quality of Living is Impossible
The short course I presented at OLLI is my attempt to explain the facts of: “Primary & “Secondary” Energy, Energy Density, Dispatchable Generation, Electricity Storage, Electricity Demand Cycles and production cost increases with increased percentages of wind and solar. The main point: If reduced carbon intensity is really sought after, then the only known and proven source of reliable 24/7 carbon-free Bulk electricity generation is to build many new nuclear plants. The current path of reaching Net-Zero carbon by 2050 using only wind and solar is impossible.
Donn Dears published the book(19), “Clean Energy Crisis” just a couple months ago. In about 100 pages Mr. Dears explains the futility and impossibility of achieving Net Zero carbon by 2050. One excerpt from chapter 8, “Impossibility of Net-Zero Carbon”, expresses the number of new nuclear power plants needed to achieve Net Zero Carbon by 2050: “The total number of new nuclear plants needed to achieve net-zero carbon by 2050 is 881. This requires building thirty-one new nuclear plants, comparable in size to existing units, every year between 2022 and 2050. This in spite of the fact that the United States hasn’t been able to build one new nuclear plant over the last ten years.” Check the latest news update for Georgia Power’s Vogtle Units 3 & 4, the only major 1,100 MW+ new nuclear units under construction in the U.S. at this writing. The loss of nuclear component manufacturing facilities and obtaining a trained workforce of engineers, welders, machine tool operators, electricians and instrument technicians is a topic for another day. Suffice it to say here, The U.S. does not have the facilities and talent to build the components needed to build 31 new nuclear plants each year. Plant Vogtle is struggling to build two.
The current policies of decarbonization favor (and incentivised with tax dollars) wind and solar generation. Getting back to Mr. Dears “Clean Energy Crisis”, he has calculated that by 2050 almost a million wind turbines would need to be installed. To be exact, he calculated 995,141 wind turbines of 2.5 MW each. To achieve this number 35,540 must be installed each year. If they were 5 MW each, it would take 17,770 installations per year. The maximum actually installed in one year to date is 5,680. At this rate it will take 175 years to install the needed wind turbines. An important point I made in my course is that wind and solar are forms of “Intermittent Power Generation” and must be backed up by other forms of Dispatchable generation, such as gas turbines, coal plants or Diesel generators.
Replacement of conventional generation with solar is just as impossible. According to Mr. Dears, “It would take 3,918,996 MW of capacity. The most ever installed in one year is 21,500 MW. Therefore, it would take 182 years to complete”. Like wind power, solar power is intermittent power good for about 6 hours each sunny day. Therefore, energy storage by not yet invented batteries or other storage devices will need to be installed for backup.
Mr. Dears (and mine) Conclusions of the Net-Zero Carbon Transition:
It is impossible for the United States to achieve net-zero carbon by 2050.
CO2 is not a threat to mankind.
The EIA chart of nuclear generated electricity for the state of S.C. is shown below. Over 54% of S.C. electricity was generated from four nuclear stations within the state in 2022. These plants are very reliable, robust and safe. Most are also very old. Two, Oconee and Robinson began operations in the 1970’s. I know that for a fact, because I was working for Babcock & Wilcox in Barberton, Ohio in 1966 when the Reactors and Steam Generators for Oconee were being manufactured. These outstandingly successful units may receive new operating licenses for another 30 years, but the fact remains, some day new generation will be required to replace the aging units.
I personally had believed that NuScale Nuclear’s “Small Modular Reactors” (SMR’s) would be a large part of future replacements for aging coal and nuclear plants. However, the recent cost escalations do not look very encouraging, based on Donn Dears cost analysis of NuScale’s SMR. (275)
Over 200 slides are included in my course to show the reality of all forms of Primary and Secondary Energy. Energy used by America is used for more than generating electricity. In fact, about 37% of total primary energy is used for generating electricity. The other 63% is for Industrial production, Transportation, residential and commercial, cooking, heating, lighting, entertainment and cooling.
The course includes information on all forms of energy and how it is used to power our lives. I invite you to take a look at it, if you are interested, part 1 and part 2.(2,3)
Confusing the Public
I live in Hilton Head, South Carolina and soon the Heritage Golf Tournament will take place. This is a huge event that draws tens of thousands of Golf fans to this island. The normal peak electric power demand on Hilton Head is between 150 and 250 MW’s and it is provided by Palmetto Electric Co-Op which distributes electricity generated by Santee-Cooper, a state run electric utility. Santee-Cooper has about 5,300 MW of installed capacity and most of this is coal, natural gas and nuclear generation. Santee-Cooper is interconnected with the Duke and Dominion nuclear plants as well as other generation from the Grid. Overall, over 50% of S.C. electricity has been from nuclear power. (Santee-Cooper owns 322 MW of Summer nuclear plant operated by Dominion Energy) Santee-Cooper advertizes that they have about 400 MW (Nameplate) of solar power capacity either owned or under contract. So at first glance the claim of 100% green power to power the island may seem plausible, especially if Palmetto Electric defined nuclear power (they don’t) as being “Green”. Nuclear is the largest form of carbon-free electricity generation in the world. The point not explained regarding solar and wind is that “Nameplate Capacity” is not the same as delivered Dispatchable power. The actual electricity produced in the state through the year 2022 to SC is shown above. 54% nuclear & about 5% solar.
The bill insert from Palmetto Electric Coop, the HHI electricity supplier is copied below. This infers that the island of Hilton Head is powered by wind, solar and landfill gas. If you check the website scgreenpower.com it shows that most of the green power is from the 29 MW landfill gas units that Santee-Cooper operates. Not solar and ironically, they mention nothing about the importance of carbon free nuclear generation?
The misinformation and resulting misconceptions are nationwide as shown below. The headline refers to installed “CAPACITY” not actual generation. My Part 2, OLLI course(2,3) , slides # 16-20 show the recent actual generation for the U.S. electric Grid by fuels. (about 80% conventional generation)(157)
The actual delivered wind and solar generated electricity cost when metered and billed to the consumer is typically a higher cost/kWh than electricity generated from conventional generation. This is partly because the intermittent solar or wind power needs to be backed up with natural gas, Diesel or other Dispatchable generating capacity. So, the installed cost of solar is only the cost to install solar collectors or wind turbines. In the real world, the cost to the consumer includes the cost of the installation and fuel for backup generation. Another factor regarding intermittent wind and solar is that maintenance costs tend to be very high. Especially for offshore wind turbines. The chart below is from European experiences. The case study of Hawaii Electric which has shut down their one highly successful, clean and reliable coal plant is shown on slide # 48 of part 2 of the OLLI course. Now, dependent on wind, solar and other renewables Hawaii has the highest cost electricity in the U.S.A.. (53, 223 & 224) Mostly because the backup power when the wind isn’t blowing or sun not shining must be made up by Diesel Fuel burned in Internal Combustion engines, gas turbines or oil fueled steam boilers. Diesel fuel in the middle of the Pacific ocean is the most expensive form of primary energy. Diesel fuel is also one of the highest cost forms of primary energy anywhere, second to hydrogen in $/BTU.
Weaponization of the EPA
The Biden Administration is hell-bent on killing coal power generation(29) in America. The latest EPA Rules may in fact kill over a third of the remaining U.S. Coal generation capacity. Many of the power generation facilities that have been depended on as recently as last December 2022, (even now) will likely be shut down in the next year or two. This despite the fact that electricity shortages are expected. We already have had Rolling Blackouts in 2022 due, in part to too many reliable coal and nuclear power plants being shut down without replacing them in kind. Check slide #81 of OLLI course, part 2. This shows the over 102,000 MW of coal generation shut down since 2011. This is from data in the NERC report.(4)
In addition to the concerns of solar and wind being intermittent generation, there is the concern of Grid voltage and frequency stability with increasing generation provided through inverters. (20) The “Spinning Reserve” of thousands of tons of generator rotors from conventional power plants add Grid Stability of voltage and frequency as new power demand is added. Solar and wind power provided through inverters does not provide this dynamic reserve stability.
“Roosters of the Apocalypse” How Junk Science of Global Warming Nearly Bankrupted the Western World(1)
The Heartland Institute published the short book, “Roosters of the Apocalypse” in 2012. Basically it is a story of how “in the spring of 1856, the Xhosa tribe in today’s South Africa destroyed it’s own economy. According to the book, the Xhosa killed an estimated half-million of their own cattle (which they ordinarily treated with great care and respect), ceased planting crops and destroyed their grain stores. By the end of 1857 between thirty and fifty thousand of them had had starved to death. A third of the population. The British herded survivors of the once powerful tribe into labor camps, and white settlers took much of their land.(1)
The Xhosa had acted on the prophecy of a 15 year old girl who promised that if they destroyed all they had and purified themselves of “witchcraft” (including evil inclinations and selfishness), the world before the white invaders came would be restored: The British oppressors would flee, and the Xhosa ancestors would return, bringing with them an even greater abundance of cattle and grain.”
I found a copy of this book which I had purchased in 2012 amongst some other old books. I paged through it and thought “gee whiz, this is very relevant to the absurd actions and Regulations our government is now forcing on us”. The EPA and most of the rest of the U.S. government (Nearly all government Bureaucracies) have been weaponzied.(5) An OpEd opinion writer to the “Wall Street Journal” has written at least one letter with the truthful title: “America is Self Sabotaging the Electric Grid”. Then considering the story of the young girl advising the Xhosa tribe we could say, this is much like the message of Greta Thunberg and non-energy savvy politicians. In current times we have an inexperienced and thoroughly green indoctrinated Greta Thunberg (and along with many energy ignorant politicians) addressing the World Economic Forum as if she (and they) is/are well credentialed Atmospheric Scientist(s) and Greta appears on the cover of Internationally circulated magazines and is Time Magazine’s person of the year in 2019. Greta’s message, “Stop using fossil fuels”.(270) The fossil fuels that power 80%+ of all that we depend on to achieve the high standard of living we have come to enjoy.
Are the free people of the western world as gullible as the people of the Xhosa tribe? It sure looks that way to me. The Net-Zero Carbon Path may be impossible and wrong-headed, but our government sure is hell-bent on following it no matter what the consequences.
How, Why or Who is Responsible for the Absurd Energy Policies and Demonization of Carbon?
The perpetrators of the war on carbon and all conventional fuels for that matter are numerous. In my opinion, it began with the United Nations Agenda 21 and that (later the formation of the UN-IPCC) I believe is the root cause of why and how the “Green” policies have been started in the U.S. and EU. Demonizing conventional forms of energy (carbon and nuclear) and strangling of the Free World’s Energy supplies. I started digging to try to discern how such ludicrous policies could become embraced by most of the leaders of the free western world, some who are otherwise reasonable people believed to be of above average intelligence.
The intent of the following is to show the progression of the U.N. Agenda 21 from the inception in 1992 and how it morphed into being a policy to promote “One World Government” and control over all of the citizens of the Free World and to do this through environmental regulations. Why did the UN choose the environmental route to promote socialism? Because, in my opinion, everyone wants clean water and clean air, so it was a means for the leaders of the U.N. and Socialists to appeal to the free world’s citizens, even if it meant using scare tactics(6). If it sounds like a conspiracy, well please read on. I have provided many references at the end for your further reading and research. I said the scare tactics are aimed at the citizens of the Free Western World. You would think that the Main Stream Media would notice and report that the war on carbon does not apply to China and Russia. These two countries have the most to gain as the OECD countries become weaker.
The largest influencers of U.S. energy policy has been environmental extremist organizations.(250, 251, 252, 253,254, 255)Not engineers or energy savvy organizations. Not even electric Utilities.
The Beginning of Agenda 21 1992-Rio De Janeiro -Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED)
This conference produced three documents: The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (an international treaty), the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (an international treaty), and U.N. Agenda 21, (not a treaty, but a “soft law” or suggestion)
President George H.W. Bush along with 178 other countries signed the agreement, along with 178 other countries. But he refused to sign the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity because it required transfer of technology without recognition of property rights.
The treaties and the Agenda 21 (soft law) were not ratified by the U.S. Congress. However, parts of it have been incorporated into other laws passed because all members of Congress do not read all of the words that are in Bills. (7)
Nancy Pelosi in 1992 introduced a bill to follow the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to conform to U.N. Agenda 21, its local sustainable community practices, and to follow international law.
The administration of the next President, Bill Clinton initiated the “War on Carbon”. (10) Many prominent members of the Democrat Party have hated coal for a long time, and I have yet to find a reason for their angst against the treasure of energy that America is Blessed with? Clinton’s administration started with appointing environmental activist zealot Carol Browner to the EPA. Between her and some clever and devious lawyers on staff at the EPA they ramped up the Rules on “New Source Review”. This is the point that extreme policies came to my attention. At that point in my life (early 1990’s) I was working as a boiler engineer/consultant and was directly involved in upgrading and improving older coal plants to improve efficiency, reliability, fuel flexibility, reduced NOx emissions and capacity. I learned the hard way that the word “Upgrade” was a trigger word to the EPA. It triggered NSR. Even if it improved efficiency and reduced emissions. The word upgrade in a technical report we wrote or a proposal triggered NSR “New Source Review”(8,9). The concept by the EPA was to eliminate coal plants gradually by forcing an environmental review of an older plant as if it was a new plant being constructed at that time. Because the older coal plants were built before the newer Regulations, NSR was a death sentence to any coal plant faced with NSR. Here are some links to NSR lawsuits. That was the beginning of the war on coal, based on my observations, then the U.S. had a pretty good run of enjoying some of the lowest cost electricity in the world for the next two decades.
Summary and Conclusions
It will not be possible to reach net-Zero Carbon by 2050. It may be possible to help the Chinese Economy and Influence in the world to surpass America’s by restricting, regulating and taxing America’s vast energy resources. Thus, weakening America as the WSJ OpEd title stated, “America is Self Sabotaging Our Electric Grid”. It is not only the electric grid. Remember there is a difference between “Primary and Secondary” energy. Electricity currently utilizes about 37% of America’s “Primary Energy. If everything is electrified (not possible) then the Grid will need much more than the 37 Quadrillion BTUs used currently to generate our electricity. Note the LLNL chart below of total PRIMARY Energy use in the U.S.
My hope is that the American people (and our elected officials) who are not involved in energy or electricity production, will wake up and study the fundamentals of energy and electricity generation. (that was the intent of my OLLI course) I have written to many elected officials. I have had little if any interest by these officials to do anything. Why? I think it is because the environmental extremist organizations have literally Billions of dollars of funding to use in election campaigns against any politician that stands up for Common sense Energy Policies. Check Capital Research Center’s “Influence Watch” website to see some of the enormous resources of funds that the Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, NRDC and others have. Besides being enormously well funded, these are Tax sheltered. Also, the 2012 book, “The New Leviathan”(158) which outlines the funds of extremist non-profit organizations in Appendix X, page 245: $9,310,833,507. That was 2012 and at that time the average annual revenues were $6,454,568. Being 501(c)3 non-profits, they have even greater funding today,(15,16,162) thanks to American Billionaires and some Dark Money. Many of the non-profit leaders have participated in a Revolving Door of high government positions with the EPA and other agencies of the U.S. government. (254)
Also, I have written on my Blog on Influencers of Energy and Environmental Policy. America has not had an energy policy since the presidency of Jimmy Carter. His National Energy Act as older folks will recall, was following Oil Embargoes of the 1970’s and 1980’s.
A couple final thoughts on “Electrify Everything”…..
Itshould be obvious that Energy Independence is a prerequisite for National Security.
Everything cannot be electrified. For example, Plastics, Steel, Cement and Fertilizer. Yes, energy and food production are inextricably linked also.(182)
The bottom line is. America does not have an Energy Policy(159) for an orderly transition to Net-Zero Carbon. My message to my fellow citizens is this: Please wake up(59) and go study the true facts on energy and electricity. If you only check two references, the two I suggest are Vaclav Smil’s book, “How the World Really Works” and take a look at the Finnish GTK presentation, entitled, “Time to Wake up”. (59)
Yours very truly,
Dick Storm, March 18, 2023
When you have some free time, kindly read or at least peruse through the additional resources listed below. Learn about the details of our energy mess and then educate your friends and neighbors to the true facts. Especially your friends that are involved in education. Thank you.
References and Factual Information for Further Reading
Roosters of the Apocalypse by Rael Jean Isaac, published by the Heartland institute, 2012
TED Talk Nuclear Power Is Our Best Hope to Ditch Fossil Fuels | Isabelle Boemeke on the need for more nuclear power. I do not agree with her bashing fossil fuels, but her promotion of nuclearis correct and well done with class and a little humor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESAaz9v4mSU
Here is the actual Bulk Power Generation by fuel for Christmas week 2022. Note that at the peak on Christmas eve, 80% of the total electricity generation was from conventional generation using natural gas, coal and nuclear fueled generation. Sixty five percent was from natural gas and coal, this does not fit well for Net-Zero Carbon and abolishing fossil fuels. This is reality. The Clean Energy Crisis is a manufactured crisis that should not have gone this far. Donn Dears has much to offer in his new book
Donn Dears is a genuine energy expert having a long career working on design, manufacturing, maintenance and use of major equipment used in energy production. Donn has studied, worked and witnessed for himself energy production from all areas of the world including Asia and the Mideast. He understands the importance of energy to sustain a high quality of life and he understands the importance of protection of the environment. Like many of us, Donn cares about the planet and the well-being of his children and grandchildren. Clean Energy Crisis distills Donn’s career experiences plus considerable additional research to provide the reader with energy savvy. Facts that, if used can formulate a rational energy policy for the future. Every elected official must read this book and keep it for reference! Here is an outline of the contents.
Part 1 Energy Fundamentals
Fossil Fuels (Overview of oil, NG, & coal. US has largest reserves in the world.)
The grid ( Grid is mismanaged. Reliability is in danger. Baseload power essential.)
Importance of coal (HELE plants essential for poor countries.)
The promise of nuclear power ( SMRs hold promise for revival. Cost and fear stand in their way.)
Demand for Materials (Mining and shortages, environmental issues & China.)
Comparing BEVs and ICEs (Electricity demand, cost and safety issues.)
Environmental Blackhole (NEPA’s need for reform to prevent interminable legal challenges.)
Part 2 Impossible Dreams
Impossibility of Net-zero Carbon (Wind, PV solar, & nuclear: impossible to build enough capacity to meet demand.)
Creating Fear to Sell Climate Change (Show that fear of sea-level rise, hurricanes, etc., is unfounded.)
Appendix A How the grid works
Appendix B Dangerous ESG Mandates
Appendix C Battery-Powered Bucket Trucks
Appendix D Climate Science (Happer, Wijngaarden paper)
Currently over 87% of the U.S. Primary Energy is provided by natural gas, nuclear, coal and old hydroelectric plants. It is engineering fiction to believe that wind and solar can replace these forms of affordable, reliable, dispatchable and high energy density fuels. Clean Energy Crisis explains the roots of the myths of green energy and provides a realistic path forward for U.S. Energy Policy……
Monday evening I was invited to the Sunset Rotary Club to provide a presentation on energy and electric power generation. I accepted the invitation because I believe it is important for the general public to understand the importance of affordable, reliable energy and electricity generation. Rotary Clubs are comprised of great civic minded people that are involved in the community. Thus, the title of the talk, “Demystifying the Importance of Energy and Electric Power” . My intention was to help the Rotarians understand the differences of Primary and Secondary Energy, Dispatchability of electricity generation and provide an overview of the sources of our energy. Here is the presentation with a short narrative of each of the slides I used to compress a two hour topic into 30 minutes:
The object of the short talk was to cover the importance of energy and to attempt to bring the facts to community leaders that care, but are not experts in or involved in energy engineering or businesses.
Rotary members are very active in the community and the world in helping the less fortunate. The first part of the meeting was members discussing helping students and those people in the community that are living in poverty. (Yes, on Hilton Head Island we have a lot of poverty) In my attempt to pique the attention of members on the plight of people living in Developing countries and the relationship of energy and economic prosperity, I used the cover of the June 2021 Rotary Magazine. This showed an example of indoor cooking of a family in Mongolia. Another photo of a woman cooking over a wood fire in Africa. Lifting people such as these from poverty can be done with the wise and careful use of fossil fuels. Such as propane and natural gas for cooking and coal for electricity generation.
Most of America’s energy is provided by conventional forms of energy; petroleum, natural gas, coal, nuclear, biomass and hydroelectric. These six forms of primary energy provide over 90% of the energy we use, need and depend on to power our high quality of living. I used the John Deere tractor as an image to get attention to the energy component of food production. Rotary is involved in helping the less fortunate all around the world. The Energy cost component of food production is over 50% for most foods when “farm to table” is considered. Costs such as; fertilizer, tractor fuel, grain drying, food processing, refrigeration for dairy and meat products and distribution transportation power and supermarket refrigeration. As energy costs rise, they become one of the root causes of inflation.
The relationship of energy and economic growth is well known by those of us that have worked in the energy business but not so well known by the general public. To illustrate this relationship I used the data compiled by the U.S. Department of Energy back in 2010 to show the correlation of coal consumption and GDP growth from 1970-2010. This GDP growth was steady and in spite of the Arab Oil Embargo’s of 1973 and 1980. Back in the late 1970’s, when Jimmy Carter was President, his Administration promoted a National Energy policy that focused on Domestically produced energy. Because America is the “Saudi Arabia of Coal” over 50% of the U.S. ever growing electricity generation, continued to be from coal fuel.
Moving forward from 2010 to 2021, the Energy Flow Chart shows the sources and uses of each form of energy. Including renewables.
The LLNL Sankey Diagram of total primary energy flows is my favorite illustration. This shows on one diagram the total energy sources and consumption. I think it is an easy to understand graphic that any reasonable person can understand. Thus, it is my favorite energy chart.
Three points are to be made with this chart: 1. America uses about 100 Quadrillion Btus of energy each year and that this has been steady for the last 20+ years. The year 2021 energy use dipped to 97.3 Quads because of Covid and reduced travel and industrial output. 2. The LLNL chart shows PRIMARY Energy Flows. The distiction of Primary and Secondary Energy needs to be understood. For example, electricity and hydrogen are forms of Secondary Energy 3. The most important point emphasized by this chart is that wind and solar only provided 4.96% of the U.S. Primary Energy. This after decades of subsidies and taxpayer funded incentives for wind and solar.
Each South Carolina citizen uses an average of 866,000 Btus per day. Each of us in the room live a slightly above average life style. Thus, I submit that each one of us uses over a million Btus of conventional energy each day. The slide above shows the forms that energy is used by each of us, or on our behalf. I say on our behalf considering for example, the Diesel fuel used to power a truck delivering an Amazon shipment to our home, or Jet Fuel for a Fedex air freight shipment. Also, many of us will travel to see friends and family over the Thanksgiving Holiday and vacations. Travel such as that uses much more than a million Btus/day/person when gasoline and jet fuel are considered. The number is derived from dividing the total primary energy BTUs used in the state by the population then divide by 365 days, to come up with the energy/person/day consumption. The information on the illustration below is compiled by the U.S. Department of Energy for SC residents.
This reminds me of one of the excellent questions asked at the end of my presentation. The question was, “If we each use about a million Btus per day, how much do they cost in dollars?”. Great question and the answer reminds us of how fortunate we are to be Americans! A million Btu’s of natural gas costs about $7.00/million Btu and a million Btus of Diesel fuel costs about $46.00/million Btus. Depending on our personal use of energy it will be somewhere in between. Coal energy is the least costly and before Covid was less than $3.00/million Btus. But, lately due to so many factors resulting from the government’s “War on Carbon”, delivered coal costs are about the same as natural gas. This is what the proponents for renewables want, higher costs of fossil fuels which then makes renewables more competitive by increasing the costs of the once affordable fuels. In my opinion, this is not a good strategy to keep America strong.
The Alaska pipeline was approved by Congress and built after the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo. It presents a vivid image of the amount of oil America depends on each day. The Alaska pipeline is above ground because of the Permafrost Tundra in northern Alaska. The above ground image provides a graphic illustration of a pipeline capable of transporting about two million barrels of oil per day. America uses about twenty million barrels per day of oil, so to illustrate that, imagine ten pipeleines like the one shown above, side by side. Yes, that is a lot of oil to be refined into gasoline, jet fuel, kerosene, lubricating oil, grease and many other petroleum products. Not to mention the oil used in making plastics and other materials used for manufactured products of all types.
Total Primary energy production and use 1950-2020. I stated earlier that America has leveled off at about 100 Quadrillion Btus of energy each year. This chart by the EIA shows that from about the year 2000, the U.S. has used right at 100 Quadrillion Btus/year. Another point to make: Note that in 2019 it was the first year since about 1960 where America produced as much Domestic energy as we consumed. In other words, in 2019 America became energy Independent.
The data above is a few years old as it shows the world population at 7.2 billion. Just this week the U.N. estimated that the world has now passed 8 billion in total population. It is my opinion that not much has changed in the percentages of people living below the energy and HDI levels of the Developed world. As shown on the chart, about half the world population lives well below our quality of life in energy poverty. The difference? Energy and Liberty. This is the season of Thanksgiving and all Americans have much to be thankful for. I know I am.
A reminder that Energy Independence is important not only to power our HDI but also for National Security. Both militarily and for economic security. If one does not believe energy is important for a sustainable and good life, then that person should read up on the current events in Europe and Ukraine with energy shortages. Read the news on BASF downsizing fertilizer production in Germany because of high energy costs and also other German industrial plants are being downsized or shut down. All older Americans should remember the Oil Embargo’s of 1973 and 1980. Taking the U.S. Oil Embargos and Russian war on Ukraine into consideration this should elevate the understanding of the importance of energy independence and affordable production of energy to sustain our lives. Also, those of us living on the coast remember how our lives changed when hurricanes like Mathew in 2016 knocked out electricity and stopped gasoline deliveries.
Electricity generation that is “Dispatchable” is important for reliable electric service. The 24 hour chart above shows typical electric Demand for a Utility. The red lines are summer with higher air conditioning load and the winter in blue. Whether summer or winter, electric load is greatest in the morning and late afternoon. The Demand at 5:00 PM will typically be about 150% to 200% of the Demand at 5:00 AM. This is because of increased commercial lighting, cooking for dinner, folks returning home from work and turning on TV, etc. As my first “Electricity 101” instructor put it in 1959, “Electricity Needs to be Generated the Instant it is Needed”.…This is called Dispatchable electricity generation.
The Current Grid example above shows electricity generation for the 48 states of the U.S.A. This example is from October 2021 but it was similar for 2022. The cycling lines representing natural gas power illustrate the electric load Demand swings from daytime to night-time. The variations are similar but less extreme for coal and hydro. These four sources of electric generation are Dispatchable. Over 80% of the generation for the 48 states up till now, is from Dispatchable generation. Solar and wind are Not Dispatchable. So, as in California a year or two ago, as people came home from work, started cooking dinner, charged their EV’s and turned on TV’s…..the Demand for electricity exceeded the available supply and rolling Blackouts occurred. Texas in the winter of February 2021 had a similar experience. Both Blackout events were the result of too much intermittent power generation from wind and solar with too many Dispatchable coal and nuclear plants having been shut down in the last few years.
The graphic above is from the Midcontinent Independent System Operator known as MISO. Actual data from July 2022. The point is to show the generation by fuels which includes 41.85% coal. Many of these coal plants are planned to be shut down in the coming years, without planning replacement generation fron Dispatchable sources. (This is an absence of a Rational Energy Policy)
For people like myself that have been involved with energy and electricity generation for decades, it just seems foolish and ill planned. I started digging a year or two ago to attempt to determine why America has no energy policy to replace the coal and nuclear plants that have been shutdown with more to follow? The answer is that America’s energy policy is driven by environmental extremists that know little about energy and electricity generation and seem to not care about the consequences and weakening of America. Some of these organizations are shown below.
The public Indoctrination has been highly successful in indoctrinating the general public believe that green power can replace coal, gas, oil and nuclear energy. It cannot if we are to continue to enjoy our high HDI style of living.
Another RTO (Regional Transmission Operator) is the PJM Interconnection. This RTO serves as the electric power equivalent of an “Air Traffic Controller” to distribute the power genaration to the least cost electric generating plants between NJ and Illinois. A huge portion of the Northeastern states. Like MISO, much of the pwer generation this summer was from coal plants. Like MISO, many of the Dispatchable coal plants are planned for shut down in the near future. Until then neeeded preventive maintenance is not the same as if they were valued assets to be depended on for decades into the future. Also, there are no plans to replace the lost generation with new coal or nuclear units, at least, not yet.
Let’s talk about South Carolina and where we get our electricity.
Over 56% of SC electric generation is from nuclear power generation. SC ranks #3 in the U.S.
Here on Hilton Head Island our electricity is distributed by Palmetto Electric Co-Op. Palmetto Electric receives most of their Bulk Power from Santee-Cooper. The generation assets of Santee-Cooper are shown on the chart above. In the lower right inset, is shown the Summer Nuclear Plant which is operated by Dominion Energy. Santee-Cooper owns 322 MW of the nuclear generation capacity of Summer Unit #1. Two additional nuclear units were planned when SCE&G was the owner but mismanagement resulted in quitting the construction process after spending about nine Billion dollars on the expansion. Had it been successful, it would have been a good plan for carbon free electric generation capacity. Currently, most of Santee-Cooper’s power generation is from the Cross and Winyah coal power plants. As can be seen from the Santee-Cooper table above of electricity generation assets, over 67% of them are coal plants. The Cross Steam plant is about 130 miles north of Hilton Head in Pineville, SC. This plant is rated at 2,350 MW. Just to put that in perspective, the Cross coal plant is close to the same size as the American side Hydroelectric plant at Niagara Falls. This is serious Bulk Power generation capacity.
The Santee-Cooper utility also owns the 3.5 MW rated Solar Farm off of I-95 near Walterboro. Again, referring to the generation assets of Santee-Cooper, the solar capacity is about 0.1% of the total.
The solar collectors are not Dispatchable and obviously only can generate power only about 4-8 hours during the sunny portion of a 24 hour period. Also considered “Green Power” and can function 24/7 is the Landfill Gas plants that Santee-Cooper operates. These capture and use the methane gas which is produced from the decomposition of the organic materials in municipal waste.
The chart below is from the Santee-Cooper projection of electricity growth from 2020 through 2040. As can be seen from the chart, the 1,045 MW Winyah coal plant is planned for shut down in 2028. The difference between the expected growth to over 6,000 MW by about 2035 could have easily been made up for, were the Pee Dee coal plant and one of the planned additional units at Summer been completed. As this is written, Santee-Cooper and their stakeholders are working to figure out where to secure the replacement generation to replace the 1045 MW’s in capacity that will be lost when the Winyah plant is shut down. From what I have read, the most likely approval will be solar, batteries for backup and when all that is inadequate, they will install more Gas Turbine Combined Cycle units. Time will tell.
Based on the foregoing and a lot of additional information, some of which is included in the references at the end, I have formed my conclusions….
Thank you for this opportunity to be part of your program tonight. I sincerely appreciate your interest in energy and electricity. Feel free to contact me should you have any further questions,
Yours very truly,
Dick Storm, Monday November 14, 2022
Energy equivalents and other information relevant to this presentation is copied below. Further references and information for further reading are listed following these conversions:
Energy Units and Conversions The data and information which follows is listed for reference and further reading.
1 Watt is the power from a current of 1 Ampere flowing through 1 Volt 1 kilowatt (kW) is a thousand Watts
1 kilowatt-hour is the energy of one kilowatt power flowing for one hour. (E = P t)
A BTU (British Thermal Unit) is the amount of heat necessary to raise one pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit (F).
1 Megawatt (MW) is a thousand kilowatts (if Dispatchable power, up to 164 homes)
Hilton Head Island uses about 150-200 MW on a hot summer day
1 Gigawatt (GW) is a thousand Megawatts
1 kWh=3,412.6 BTUs (if converted at 100% efficiency)
1 BTU to convert to work at 100% efficiency= 778 Foot Pounds
1 Quadrillion = 1015 BTU (World energy usage is about 600 Quads/year, US is about 100 Quads/year since 1996)
Important Points on the use of Hydrogen (Secondary Energy) as Fuel:
Conversion by Electrolyzer of water to Hydrogen, takes about 50 kWh/pound of hydrogen (39 kW/pound is at 100% efficiency)
Electrolyzer produced electricity back to electricity = 26-30% round trip
It takes 9 pounds of water to create 1 pound of hydrogen
Hydrogen Energy from 1 cubic foot=325 BTUs, Methane CH4 = 1,030 BTUs Hydrogen has less Energy Density
Liquified Hydrogen is -423 Degrees F. (Liquifying is at cost of of about 30% of the energy available from the Liquid Hydrogen Fuel itself)
Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) is -260 Degrees F.
1 horsepower (hp) = 745.7 watts
I Air Conditioning Ton approx. 1 kWh
Gas Volume to Energy Conversion
One thousand cubic feet of natural gas (Mcf) -> 1.027 million BTU
Energy Content of Fuels
Coal (Bituminous) 10,500- 12,500 BTU/pound (Recent cost $15.00/million BTUs, Cost in 2019 about $2.50/million Btus)
America and all Developed countries require Energy to power our lives and our economy. It is time (for the government, energy savvy citizens already know this) to face the facts and reality that nearly 90% of the energy America depends on, including for our Defense of National Security, is sourced from conventional fuels or sources of natural gas, nuclear, oil, coal and old hydropower generation. Wind and Solar cannot replace these forms of energy and the path to Net-Zero Carbon will weaken our country. A Rational Energy Transition is needed over the next few decades. As a reminder, the Sankey Diagram below shows the total primary energy flows by sources and flow for all of 2021 forms of energy . Note that less than 5% of the primary energy provided to the U.S. was from wind and solar.
The two key words are PRIMARY ENERGY! As a couple people have asked me on EV’s…..”You mean the electricity has to be generated somewhere else to charge an electric vehicle?”
Yes, over 89% of the PRIMARY ENERGY we use is from conventional sources of Petroleum, Coal, Natural Gas, Nuclear and Hydroelectric and yes, electricity to charge an EV likely came from conventional sources.
I have met with numerous groups to discuss our energy future and every time I outline the current government path to Net-Zero Carbon the people I talk with are shocked that there is not a planned transition to reduced carbon emissions and sustaining a reliable, affordable energy supply. Why? I believe it is because those that are knowledgeable in all forms of primary energy production are a small minority. Similar for secondary energy production, such as for producing electricity and hydrogen. I estimate that the people who thoroughly understand energy production is less than 5% of American (and the world) citizens. Smooth talking non-energy savvy politicians, the United Nations, the Main Stream Media, World Economic Forum and Public Education have Hoodwinked the Public into Demonizing carbon and preaching and legislating Green Power incentives. These powerful innfluencers have forced wind and solar Green Energy Religion on Americans. It is not possible to switch all of America or the rest of the Free World to Renewable wind and solar energy. It is possible to have a smooth transition to increase carbon free nuclear power and nuclear power produced hydrogen over the next three decades, but not by 2030 or 2035 as is proclaimed by the Biden Administration. America has no energy policy, only a policy of demonizing carbon and forcing the citizens to depend on unreliable, intermittent wind and solar.
Energy Misinformation is World-Wide
My friend Vincent who lives in France has sent me dozens of informative documents on energy. One document he sent yesterday caught my attention. It is the opening introduction of Professor Samuel Furfari’s article published on the Friends of Science Blog of Calgary University. I will quote Professor Furfari as he captures what I believe to be true as well. Furfari is referring to Europe, but much of what he states is applicable all over the Free World:
“Energy is life. Without energy, we could not live. That is why our distant ancestors adopted, then invented ways to create fire. The use of energy is essential for life: animals and human beings eat because their bodies need energy. Moreover, energy is also the blood that runs through the veins of the economic system. In recent years, instead of seeing energy as a vital commodity, environmental activists have succeeded in reversing the logic by blaming energy for all the planet’s ills, to the point where energy is no longer spoken of in negative terms. Energy has become the symbol of pollution and climate catastrophe. A few days ago, at the end of a lecture, a student confessed to me that he had been shaken because I had shown, with data, that the quality of life measured by the UN HDI index and life expectancy at birth depended on per capita energy consumption. This correlation is also valid with CO2 emissions since 82% of the energy used in the world is fossil fuel. He had never thought about it. No one had ever told him that.” Furfari continues….
“Will the current crisis be enough to bring us back to the common sense of the absolute priority of having abundant and cheap energy, as the founders of the EU said in the past? This is not certain, as the population has been so indoctrinated with negative and even catastrophic messages. But if the current crisis was to last and worsen, climate policies could face fierce opposition from the population, since it is true that the population cannot do without abundant and cheap energy, as the current panic demonstrates. Thanks to the development of technology and our energy resources (North Sea hydrocarbons and nuclear energy), the EU was able to escape the oil crises of the 1970s. The energy terrorism that may develop in the near future will have much more far-reaching consequences, as the EU is now much more dependent on energy consumption than it was fifty years ago.”
The foregoing is from a European viewpoint. My opinion/commentary now continues:
We Cannot Electrify Everything!
It is not even possible to install enough wind turbines and solar collectors across the U.S. to “Electrify Everything”. Further, we cannot electricfy everything and still sustain our high quality of living. For such products/materials as fertilizer, ammonia, food production energy, plastics, cement manufacture and steel manufacture. So what would a Rational Energy Policy look like? Here is my shot at offering one:
A RATIONAL ENERGY PLAN
Here is what a Rational Energy Plan would look like:
Maintain Existing Coal & Nuclear Plants as If they will Run for 20 more years….because… we will likely need them.
Reduce Federal Regulations on Oil, Gas, Coal production and all hard rock Mining within the U.S.A.
Reduce Regulations and build more Refinery Capacity
Approve Keystone and other Pipelines for Construction
Reduce Federal Regulations on Coal Plant Emissions to levels in effect in 2020 (except CO2 restrictions that were later vacated by SCOTUS)
Build New HELE Coal Plants, Equipped with Provisions for Future CCUS (HELE=High Efficiency Low Emissions)
Continue R & D for Energy Storage and Hydrogen Production
Increase Hydrogen Distribution Infrastructure
Keep Options of Continuing Internal Combustion Engines Beyond 2035 for those citizens that prefer Internal Combustion Engines
Expand Oil & Gas Infrastructure to meet next 30 year Demand
Increase the pace for designing, NRC Approvals, manufacturing and construction of new Small Modular Nuclear Reactors to be built all across the U.S.A. to replace the 102,000 MW’s of reliable, Dispatchable electric power production capacity that has been shut down since 2010.
Summary and Conclusions
When America’s economy and our productive capacity are restored, it will be with the result of reduced Federal Regulations and increased Domestic Energy production. To sustain life as we know it, each American on average needs about one million BTUs of energy equivalence each day. This includes energy for electricity generation, transportation, Industrial production, National Defense, commercial and residential uses. Over 90% of that energy is sourced from conventional sources of natural gas, oil, coal and nuclear. These numbers are substantiated by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Sankey Diagram I placed as the first illustration. Yes, it shows 95% of the primary energy America runs on is from conventional forms of energy. It is Energy Fiction to believe that the conventional forms we use and depend on now can be provided by wind and solar as the Biden Administration and Congress have advocated. (I suppose we could add to this list of indoctrinators: the United Nations, World Economic Forum, Environmental Extremist groups, the MSM, U.S. Public Education and Woke corporations)
If the Biden Administration and Congress do not create a Rational Energy Policy as I have outlined above, then America’s Infuence in the World and our Economy will go into an ever increasing decline. As outlined by Professor Samuel Furfari, the same is true for Europe. “Energy is Life, Without Energy we cannot live”.
The Developed World runs on energy and America has the natural resources to regain Energy Independence.
Dick Storm, October 12, 2022
Quote of the Week: “Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression.” —James Madison (1788)
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
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.
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
The purpose of this post is to show the progress of creating America’s huge Grid, made up of Dispatchable Power from coal, nuclear, gas and oil fuels from 1955 through 2010. Also during this time, the EPA came to be and began regulating true pollutants from power generation facilities. America’s designers, engineers and manufacturers of electric generating equipment rose to meet the challenge and provided energy to expand the American economy while at the same time cleaned our air. Nuclear Power grew to be about 20% of our total electricity generation during this 55 years. These years were special for me, because they include my becoming interested in power generation in 1959 as a Freshman at Williamson and then joining the B&W Nuclear and Special Projects Group in the 1960’s when nuclear was believed to be the future of electricity generation.
The First Pressurized Water Reactor, Nuclear Steam System
It was 1954 and the Nautilus, the first Nuclear submarine ever built was launched. The pressurized water nuclear steam system was a prototype for future Navy as well as commercial applications.
“President Dwight D. Eisenhower was determined to solve “the fearful atomic dilemma” by finding some way by which “the miraculous inventiveness of man” would not be dedicated to his death, but consecrated to his life. In his “Atoms for Peace” speech before the United Nations General Assembly on December 8, 1953, President Eisenhower sought to solve this terrible problem by suggesting a means to transform the atom from a scourge into a benefit for mankind. Although not as well-known as his warning about the “military industrial complex,” voiced later in his farewell radio and television address to the American people, President Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace speech embodied his most important nuclear initiative as President”. (2)
The Research and Development into peaceful use of atomic energy continued on “Atoms for Peace”. The partnership of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and the brilliant minds of employees from the American companies; Westinghouse Electric, General-Electric, Babcock & Wilcox, Combustion Engineering, Allis-Chalmers and other fine U.S. companies brought enormous advancements. In just a few years there was great progress in atomic physics, nuclear safety, ASME Codes for Pressure Vessel Design, Welding, Non-Destructive testing of welded joints and material science. The future of nuclear power looked extremely bright.
So did efficient coal power generation. I love this advertisement (below) for B&W, then a Fortune 500 company (#134 in 1960) and builder of many of the U.S. Navy’s Boilers that helped win two world wars. B&W also built the pressure vessels for the reactors and steam generators used in the Nautilus and many of the commercial nuclear steam systems to follow. Including Duke Energy’s highly successful three Unit Oconee Station which the first unit began commercial operation in 1973.
Nuclear Steam Systems were a logical extension for B&W and Combustion Engineering Company to move into after many decades of building Fossil Steam Systems. I have referred to the importance of Heat-Engines often during my career. Perhaps that is from recollections of working for B&W in the 1960’s. Below is a copy of a B&W ad from 1954:
In 1954 and the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission Lewis Strauss in his extreme enthusiasm for commercial nuclear power generation, coined the phrase….”Too Cheap to Meter”…..That was in 1954 and of course there was a building boom of nuclear power plants from 1960 to 1990. Over 100 nuclear steam systems were put into operation between 1970 and 1990. Here are the 93 that are still operating:
Yes, Nuclear Power has been a very good invention for America. Although thousands of employees made nuclear steam systems possible, the primary credit for this gift to Humankind should go to one man, Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, Father of the U.S. Navy Nuclear Fleet and Father of Commercial Nuclear Steam Systems.(8)
The combination of new nuclear units plus ever more efficient and clean coal plants created electric growth with electricity costs amongst the lowest in the world.
This was good for world manufacturing competitiveness (especially good for energy intensive industries such as aluminum and steel manufacture) also good for reasonable household electric costs to power ever increasing labor saving household appliances.
Speaking of reasonable household electric costs and high quality of living. These ads for “Living Better Electrically” were common in the 1950’s to 70’s.
My state of South Carolina continues to enjoy reassonable cost, abundant and reliable power from Admiral Rickover’s invention. According to the EIA and NEI, over 55% of SC electricity is generated from nuclear power. I might add, these are “old nuclear plants” that have been well maintained, well run, proven and reliable. Several of these were started up in the 1970’s like Turkey Point and may have their licenses extended for 80 years. Amazingly robust and well built.
The chart below is from the NRC website. As mentioned above, many of the very reliable and I might add, Dispatchable power generating nuclear power plants are aging and before they are shut down, it would be wise to plan, design and begin construction on the next generation of nuclear plants. Renewables such as wind and solar are not Dispatchable and electric battery storage is not yet feasible. These issues will be discussed in a future post. Suffice it to say for the time period 1950-1990 America had four very good decades of power generation advancements which resulted in an extremely reliable Grid providing some of the lowest cost electricity in the world.
Energy, Economic Prosperity and Living with a High Human Development Index
The 1970’s and 1980’s saw clean coal and nuclear power together, provided about 70% of our electricity. America’s GDP pretty much followed the production and consumption of coal fuel. Coal and nuclear at the time were the most reasonable cost fuels to generate electricity.
The U.S.A. has used about 100 Quadrillion Btu’s annually for many years. Below is a copy of the EIA Total Energy Use by Fuels from 2008. This is getting ahead of 1990 but for reference, the Total Energy Use of America has held very close to 100 Quadrillion Btu’s per year for many years. The chart below shows consumption of 94.58 Quadrillion Btu’s in 2008. This reduction in energy demand was the result of the Financial crisis of 2008.
As we move forward keep this in mind. From 1950-1990 the fuel mix was changing. Thsese changes had to do with cost of fuel, pollution and availability. But for the last two decades America has used a total of about 100 Quadrillion Btu’s +/- 10 per year. This includes electricity, transportation, Industrial production, heating, and cooling. The chart reads from left to right with the fuel sources on the left and energy flows to the right.
The 1970’s Were Good Years of Progress…. But Not Perfect
The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) began in 1970 under the Nixon Administration. Amongst the first pollutants to be regulated, was sulphur and particulate emissions. The trend of the six major pollutants has been downward every since 1970.
The six major pollutants that were significantly reduced during this time period are: Particulates, Sulfur, Carbon Monoxide, Lead, Ground level Ozone & Oxides of Nitrogen.
The first steps the EPA took to regulate a path for cleaner air was to regulate particulates and sulfur. Some electric Utilities immediately (1970-71) switched from coal fuel firing in their boilers to oil fuel. This was when the fuel cost/million Btu’s of oil and coal were about the same, in 1972 that was about $0.50/million Btu. By switching to oil the switchover downtime was reduced and huge Capital cost of Electrostatic Precipitators avoided. I was working at Carolina Power and Light at that time and remember these times well.
The Neighboring Utility in Virginia, then (1973) VEPCO had switched much of it’s generation to oil fuel, so did Potomac Electric (PEPCO) and Philadelphia Electric and others to the north. They were dependent on the (at that time) reasonable cost, easier to control emissions oil fuel. Well, that was fine until the first Arab Oil Embargo in October 1973.
Arab Oil Embargo, 1973
I was a senior engineer working at Carolina Power and Light Compay’s Roxboro Generating Station. My job was a startup and test engineer for the coal fueled 720 MW, Unit #3 which began commercial operation during the summer. Many mechanical problems were needing to be sorted out and I had job security for the next several years.
The Arab Oil Embargo lasted about a year, 1973-74 and during this time, many Utilities purchased new coal generation capacity. Especially in the southern states where air-conditioning load in the summer and heat-pump load of the winter was growing rapidly. I remember year over year growth in the range of 10% increase in electric demand. Of course, manufacturing was strong back then too.
As time went on in the 1970’s more coal plants and more nuclear plants were started up. The future of clean, reliable Nuclear power looked great until……
Three Mile Island, 1979
The future of nuclear power had a serious setback in March 1979. Although no one was injured, this was pretty much the end of new nuclear steam system orders for U.S. Utilities. It took more than another decade to complete the 100 + nuclear steam systems that were on order. More strict Regulations by the NRC and more built in safety requirements ensured that nuclear power would not be “Too Cheap to Meter” in the U.S.A.
New Clean Coal Plants are Built
To meet the increasing Electricity Demand, and do so with Domestically sourced fuel, more large coal plants were built in the 1980’s. These however were nearly all equipped with Flue Gas Desulfurization and Particulate controls. Later in 1991 the EPA Clean Air Amendment was made into law and Oxides of Nitrogen were significantly reduced and more FGD equipment began being retrofitted on existing large coal plants that did not have FGD. Thus, the ever cleaner air as shown in the foregoing chart. Yes, the EPA was needed in 1970 and the Clean Air Ammendment of 1991 also has turned out to be beneficial.
How The Public Perception of Coal Becomes Tarnished
During the Arab Oil Embargo not only did we have gasoline shortages and gas lines. But the electric Utilities also suffered financially due to the rapid increase in oil costs and with the ramp up in oil costs, so did the price of competitive fuels such as gas and coal. During this time of financial stress, the Utilities drastically reduced Operation and Maintenance Budgets. What was cut first? Tree trimming around high voltage transmission line, painting and maintenance costs such as these. These are expected during volatile times in business and can be recovered from.
The Worst Budget Cut
The worst budget cut, in my view, was the cutting of public education of “Living Better Electrically” and “Better Things for Better Living”. Back in the 1970’s there were Utility representatives that invested time in Public Schools to teach the girls about electric appliances and how to use them. The boy students learned how electricity was generated from coal, oil, gas and hydro-electric sources. There was advertizing on the radio and TV. Remember “Reddy Kilowatt”? Reddy Kilowatt was the lightening bolt stick figure mascot for the investor owned Electric Utilities. Between Reddy Kilowatt and a small army of Home Economics teachers from the Electric Utilities, American Citizens learned the importance of electricity and how it was generated. I personally remember learning that as a teenager in the 1950’s, and I was just an average student.
I gave a presentation to the American Coal Council membership in 2008 on how, in my view, the public perception of coal changed. Here below is the illustration that I used to show the change from pro-active Utility education of the Public to the taking over of this effort by the Environmental Movement. Believe me, I support clean air and clean water as much as anyone. In fact, I worked much of my career exerting my best efforts to reduce particulates, reduce NOx and improve efficiency of power plants. However, the Environmental Extremists took over shaping the Public’s Perception of coal following the Arab Oil Embargo and filling the void of public education left by the exit (regarding public education) of the Electric Utilities. Not all, but most Utilities management were enthusiastic about exiting the Public Schools and Public Education just as many that ran bus services were quick to exit that business as soon as the Regulators would allow them to quit. The chart below illustrates the enormous funding of the leftist Green organizations after 1970. The green groups funding helped to indoctrinate or shape public views against coal and carbon. Now the Green Extremist organizations literally have far more money to spend on public indoctrination than the private sector manufacturers. But, that is a topic for another day.
All Fuels are Important
The Total Energy Flows of the year 2007 are shown on the Sankey Diagram below. This is TOTAL Energy which includes Electricity, Industrial, Transportation, Commercial and Residential uses of energy. The changes of the percentages of each fuel change with the economics of producing the fuels. Such as discussed above when the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973-74 caused oil prices to rise sharply in 1974 and many power generation plants were switched back to coal from oil. We should keep this in mind as the government pushes us toward Electric Vehicles in the future. In my view, we will need over 100 Quadrillion Btu’s annually to support our high quality of life. So, as electricity is substituted for gasoline or Diesel fuel, more electricity generation will be required which more than likely will come from conventional sources of gas, nuclear, coal & hydro-electric. The chart below is 2007. In part 3 I will include more recent Sankey Diagrams of Total Energy Flows.
This will conclude Part 2 of this series on the History of Energy and Electricity Generation in the U.S.A. The next section will cover 2005-2022.
Projections into the future are simply, projections. We can learn from our recent energy history of nuclear being thought to be, “Too Cheap to Meter” and the end of coal just a few years away. In the 1960’s the future of coal was proclaimed Dead….. However during this current cold weather in the U.S. Coal Power is depended on for a large percentage of electricity generation. Just check pjm.com
Likewise, the EIA projection published in 2009 showing an increase in coal going forward did not take into account the Shale Gas Revolution made possible by Directional Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing. The coal consumption dropped off primarily due to the reduction in cost of the newly abundant Domestic natural gas that became available about 2012. Low natural gas prices were helpful for those opponents of coal fuel.
Reasonable cost energy is required to fuel a thriving Economy. Note the drop in energy use after the 2008 Financial Crisis.
Industrial output is particularly linked to reasonable cost, abundant and reliable energy. Especially primary metals like steel and aluminum.
Net Zero Carbon is a disasterous Policy for the U.S. to follow unless a large number of new generation nuclear plants are deployed in the U.S. generation fleet.
Nuclear, Coal, Gas, Oil, Thermal Biomass and Hydro-Electric are the only Dispatchable sources of electricity generation by today’s technology
Reliable, Abundant, Reasonable cost and Dispatchable electric generation is required for a country to remain or to become competitive in the world with a manufacturing based economy. China has proved this over the last 20 years since joining the WTO
America has burned coal and natural gas more responsibly and cleaner than any other country that uses Fossil Fuels for Bulk Power production in Gigawatt quantities
The Net Zero Carbon Policy is a Disasterous path for our country to follow. We should learn from historical events of the past.
My friend a Tinkerer reminded me of the old phrase, “When Tinkering, it is important to save all of the pieces” This old saying should be remembered by the politicians that are “Tinkering with America’s Energy Policy” and allowing reliable and needed coal plants to be shut down and demolished. This has even occurred with reliable nuclear plants. We should be preserving the power generation infra-structure that powers America’s economy and our life styles.
Dick Storm, January 19, 2022
Author’s note on the background and why I write on this Blog:
I said at the beginning this was a special time for me. Well, it was because my life-time career in power generation began in 1962 after graduation from Williamson. I joined Babcock & Wilcox’s Nuclear and Special Products Division in 1965 and worked as an assistant to the Project Manager for Navy PWR’s and on the Oconee Nuclear Steam System. I did not like the rigorous administrative paperwork required by the AEC at the time and many engineers were transferring into the Nuclear Division from the Fossil Power Generation Division, leaving many vacancies in PGD. So, I arranged a transfer to Results Engineering to work for one of the best Mentors ever, Silas Morse. The “Too Cheap to Meter” phrase regarding nuclear power was well known within the walls of B&W and as a 22 year old newby, I was strongly advised that coal plants will be shut down in a decade because nuclear is so clean, has such an extreme energy density and it is highly productive. I went anyway, vowing to study and learn all I could about coal power so that I could remain employed for my future career. It worked.
My stint at B&W provided travel to large Paper Mills from New England to Missoula, Montana, to run acceptance tests on the largest (then the largest steam plants were about 500 MW) coal and gas plants at Baltimore Gas & Electric, Houston Light & Power, Illinois Power, Ohio Edison and more.
Always wanting to be a startup engineer, in 1969 I left B&W to join Riley Stoker as a senior startup engineer at Tampa Electric’s Unit #6 at Gannon Station. Then off to participate in the startup of Riley’s first and only coal-fueled supercritical units at Wateree Station for SCE&G near Columbia, SC. In between, helped with acceptance testing at Santee-Cooper’s Jeferies coal plant in Monck’s Corner. Then back to Florida to startup new oil fueled units at the City of Lakeland and Jacksonville.
My big opportunity to get involved with a major Utility came in 1972 and I was assigned to be the lead Startup Engineer for the 420 MW dual fueled Sutton Unit #3. Then in January 1973 I joined Carolina Power and Light Company as a Senior Engineer in charge of the startup of the 720 MW Roxboro Unit #3. Great learning experiences including the Arab Oil Embargo and the “Wheeling” of Coal Generated Power from CP&L to Utilities in the north that had switched fuels from coal to oil and then were short on fuel with the oil embargo.
In 1977 I left my position, then as Operations Superintendent at CP&L’s Roxboro Plant, to join a newly formed small contractor, Flame Refractories, in Oakboro, NC. Flame was small, only a dozen or so total employees when I joined. The company grew and I started Flame Technical Servives. Flame grew to be a major Utility Specialty contractor with hundreds of employees. My Technical Services Department eventually grew to an average size of about 20 engineers and technicians and became well known all across the U.S.A. and Internationally. Some of the most interesting International trips began in 1978 when ALCOA hired us to correct some boiler problems at the Suriname Aluminum Company in Suriname, South America. Then later to Guinee in Africa, Jamaica, Spain and Australia.
In 1992 after 15 very interesting and growing years at Flame, I started Storm Engineering later to be folded into Storm Technologies, Inc. We continued solving large electric Utility Boiler problems for the next twenty years that I was President of Storm Technologies. Storm Technologies earned a good reputation for solving difficult coal plant problems and we traveled all around the world to work at plants in South America, Asia, Oceana, Africa, India, the Philippines, Indonesia and of course, all across the U.S.A. and Canada. During these travels is when the relationship of Energy and Economic Prosperity became apparent to me. Where we traveled to help sort out problems in coal plants around the world, there was and remains, a higher quality of life. The UN calls it “Human Development Index”. I saw the affects of reasonable cost, reliable energy on the improving quality of life in Developing countries.
I retired from active involvement at Storm Technologies in 2012 when my son Danny became President.
Since then, I have done my best to give back by teaching the importance of power generation and wise use of resources for power generation. I was on the Williamson College of the Trades Board until 2019 where I championed the modernization and upgrades to the Energy Island used for power generation and instructional purposes at the College. Also, have volunteered to teach courses on Energy and Electricity Generation at schools and Colleges. The genisis of this post and others on my Blog are from slides used at the USCB-OLLI courses I have presented here on Hilton Head Island.
One of the biggest problems our country has is a misunderstanding of energy and electricity generation. The current path to Net Zero Carbon is a very hamful path for America because Renewables are not capable of replacing the large, reliable and proven coal, gas and nuclear plants that power our country. Therefore, I continue to do my best to Educate the public on the true facts regarding energy and electricity generation.
Thank you for taking time to read this. Your comments are welcomed.
Energy and electricity have fascinated me ever since I was a teenager. The purpose of this post is to share the progress of energy and electricity from the Industrial Revolution to today. I had the honor of presenting a course at USCB-OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) and much of the information presented in that course is presented here.
After presenting the course on energy and electricity generation in February (2021), it occurred to me that it may be interesting for some OLLI members to review of how energy and electricity came to be so important in the lives of all of us. Especially the aspects of Industrial growth, manufacturing and economic prosperity. As I was preparing for the course, the relationship of energy and economic growth became very clear to me. I always thought the relationship of Energy and economic growth was important. Nearly all of the College Professors of Engineering and History simply cover the History of Electricity production or the History of Energy. Few that I have known connect the inter-relationship of Energy and the growth of the “Human Development Index”. If we couple progress in energy production with economic progress, I think it is worth sharing because the application of energy to food production, transportation and industrial output grew geometrically from 1900 to today. Many factors contributed to the sharp rise of America’s HDI (Human Development Index) and manufacturing capacity after the year 1900, but in my view, the importance of abundant and reasonable cost energy has not been taught in Public Education or appreciated by the News Media. So, here is my shot at connecting the dots of the advances in energy and economic prosperity.
I have always loved thermal power plants and spent five decades working in the electric power generation business. Mostly as a “Boiler Engineer”. Over my career I have accumulated a library of old books and technical literature on power generation and most of the illustrations used are from my library.
Let’s start with the importance of “Steam”. We do not hear many references to steam today, but Steam remains important in power generation today and is likely to remain important in the future as well.
So, let’s start with the first steam engines and take a quick trip through the ages of energy and power generation to see how humans have harnessed energy to do our hard tasks and improve our lives.
James Watt is usually given credit for the first commercially applied steam engine of the Industrial Revolution. But, to be fair, there were at least three before him. Hero’s turbine in the first Century and Thomas Savory in 1698 applied steam as a motive force. Then, Newcomen in 1712.
The Industrial Revolution began with the invention of the steam engine. The first version was invented by Newcomen about 1712. This engine uses water to condense the steam vapor beneath the piston which then provides differential pressure between atmospheric pressure and the partial vacuum created upon the collapse of the vapor. A pound of water will expand about 1500-1700 times when changed to vapor. In Newcomen’s engine, it was the collapse of the steam space that created atmospheric pressure to force the piston down and thus operate the pump.
About 64 years later, James Watt invented his version of the steam engine that could generate more force than atmospheric pressure by using high pressure steam.
James Watt’s engine created the potential for greater engine output and became the basis for the Industrial Revolution.
The first electric generation in the U.S.A. was about 1880 by Thomas Edison using a reciprocating steam engine drive. Before getting into electricity generation, it is timely to remember that illumination before the light bulb was provided by whale oil and then kerosene. Thus, it can truly be stated that the oil industry saved the whales.
As we cover the history of energy, I think it is notable to consider the environmental aspects of energy produced in 1850 for illumination. Before Edwin Drake struck oil and started the American oil industry, whale oil or candles were used for night-time illumination. It could be said that Drake, Rockefeller and others involved in the production of oil & kerosene helped to save the whales. Next, the advancements of energy were used to provide transportation. Steam boats and Railroads first used wood and then coal fuel to produce steam power for motive force.
Transportation propulsion systems have been the leader for commercial electric power generation since Edison’s day. First, reciprocating steam engines used as prime movers for steamboats and then locomotives were adapted to stationary generators. Then, steam turbine drives for ships were adapted to stationary power generation. Later, aircraft jet engines were adapted for use as stationary generators and finally, nuclear propulsion systems developed by the US Navy were applied to commercial power generation.
Wood was the primary fuel of the 19th Century and it was used for heating, cooking and transportation via railroad locomotives and steam boat propulsion. The steam engines used for railroads, boat and ship propulsion were later adapted for stationary use in power plants to generate electricity. Interestingly, marine propulsion systems were the basis of technology later adapted to use for power generation. Steam engines, steam turbines, the latest advances in coal boiler developments and even nuclear power generation designs all had their roots in marine propulsion.
Memories and photos of Coal Fueled Steam locomotives of the 19th Century do not help the case for use of coal in today’s power generation plants. The enormous potential power of steam was harnessed for transportation as well as to power the Industrial Revolution. Environmental controls of exhaust gases and particulates came much later.
This is a short course, so there is clearly a compression of a lot of history. It is my hope to take a quick review of the significant inventions of the last 150 years and to show the relationship of energy to the growth of America and our very high quality of living. Until there is a disruption of our energy supply, such as a pipeline shutdown or a hurricane, we tend to take for granted, our place at the top of the “Human Development Index Pyramid”. Energy is at the heart of our high quality of living.
It is true that through the use of our God given energy resources, our lives have progressed to a higher Human Development Index. More on that later when the HDI of other countries is compared to ours.
American civilization grew from an agriculturally based society to an Industrial production-based country in just a few decades. About 1915 and continuing to today, much of the work that our ancestors were subjected to is now accomplished with energy. Heat-Engines lay at the heart of the rapid progress of the last 100 years for food production, transportation, industrial production and Economic progress.
Looking back to the days of my grandfather (born 1895), about 40% of the American population lived in rural areas on farms and it took 40% of the population to produce food for the other 60%.
1900 was a year to keep in mind for both the astounding progress of energy and electricity generation. Also, in that year, the Father of Nuclear Power Generation was born. Hyman Rickover was born in Makow, Poland. It was during his lifetime that he personally developed nuclear power for ship propulsion systems. First for submarines and later for aircraft carriers and then commercial nuclear power generation plants. Rickover’s life was productive and amazing. Truly, this one individual changed the world of power generation over his life-time.
A classic speech given by Rickover in 1957 starts with how man has used energy to improve quality of life. Rickover gave historical milestones in energy going back to the Egyptians. This was part of President Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” initiative. The genesis of peaceful uses for nuclear power.
Muscle power was being replaced by steam, gasoline and Diesel engines. James Watt created a definition of “Horsepower” by performing various tests. The numbers he settled on to describe a “Horsepower” (still used today) are 550-foot pounds of work in a second or 33,000-foot pounds per minute. This is the definition of one horsepower.
The illustration shows a cartoon of a horse pulling a large bucket of coal vertically upward, representing 1 HP.
The Railroads traversed America in the later part of the 19th Century and provided a platform to further advance the development of boilers and steam engines. It was not long to reach the point that coal fueled locomotives could greatly outrun a team of horses and do so for long duration.
Economic Prosperity parallels the advancements in use of machines powered by steam or internal combustion engines are used to replace muscle power.
Karl Benz is credited with building the first gasoline powered automobile about 1886. Later, Henry Ford invents and develops the assembly line to mass produce automobiles and the demand for petroleum soars. Rockefeller had been producing kerosene for illumination up to about 1900. Rockefeller was concerned that Edison’s electric light bulb invention would reduce the demand for kerosene and it did. However, with the steady increase of mass-produced gasoline powered automobiles, the demand from Rockefeller’s Refinery’s was steadily increasing.
The right panel (below) shows the sharp increase in GDP at about 1900. America’s GDP and individual family earnings led the world. In my opinion, much of this sharp increase in economic prosperity is due to the reasonable cost, abundant and domestically available energy which was replacing muscle power.
As seen above, the American Economy soared after 1900. By 1903, America’s GDP per person was the greatest of all of the Industrialized Countries of the world. The U.S.A. GDP/person $8,941 with the United Kingdom second at $7,482. Nearly double that of France and Austria. This coincides with the introduction of electricity distribution, the start of gasoline powered tractors, trucks, the beginning of U.S. Steel, Aluminum and automobiles. Energy use was multiplying the production of primary metals and manufactured products. Much previously produced with muscle and some hydropower.
At the same time that Westinghouse, Edison, Tesla and Allis-Chalmers were building power plants in the U.S.A., Parsons, Brush, Thompson, Siemens and others were taking similar steps in Europe.
Edison invented the Incandescent Light Bulb in 1880. However, carbon arc, electric lights were used for street lighting about 1870. (Carbon Arc Lighting was invented by Humphry Davy in early 1800’s using hundreds of batteries to produce the voltage needed for an arc)
Werner Von Siemens invented the Dynamo in 1866. Another European, Nikola Tesla became interested in Alternating Current and invented the Poly Phase Motor. Tesla then found work at an Edison Power Plant in Paris. Tesla was able to work out a transfer to Menlo Park to work directly with Edison.
Edison was convinced that A/C power was not as good as D/C power. Tesla correctly favored A/C because of the ability to transform to higher voltages for long distance transmission and also because the Poly Phase A/C system worked well with his Poly Phase Motor.
Tesla leaves Edison’s employment and struggles in business by himself for a while. Then, Tesla and George Westinghouse team up together. By 1890, Westinghouse had invented the Transformer and this plus Tesla’s inventions of Poly Phase Motors and A/C current create a harmonious and productive team effort of Tesla and Westinghouse. One milestone project that Westinghouse topped Edison on was providing the generators for the first hydro-electric plant at Niagara Falls. The advantages of Alternating Current made longer distance power transmission possible. With Direct Current that Edison favored, the wires could only transmit power about a mile.
There is much written on the “Current Wars” between Edison and Westinghouse. The American Juris Prudence System does not look so great in retrospect and especially the harsh handling of the engineering excellence that was applied by Tesla and Westinghouse. J.P. Morgan gets involved as a major investor in Edison General Electric which then becomes, “General Electric” and Tesla’s Patents on the Poly Phase Motor and Alternating Current become the basis for the American Electric Grid. From what I have read, it was the deep pockets of J.P. Morgan that held Westinghouse back.
The disputes between Westinghouse and Edison were not very harmonious to put it mildly.
Steam Power requires a steam generator or boiler. As is the case today, Thermal Power Generation provides most of teh world’s electricity. Steam boilers are important and Babcock & Wilcox invents the inherently safe, water-tube boiler in 1867. I will give a few examples of boiler safety later.
The difference between a “Water-Tube” and a “Fire-Tube” Boiler is the manner in which the heat is transferred from the products of combustion to the water to create high pressure steam. A Fire-Tube Boiler has a large diameter shell (like a Locomotive Boiler) with the hot gases passing through tubes that pass through the large diameter shell. Steam engines are the prime movers for generators of either A/C or D/C and to have steam, so a reliable high-pressure boiler. Is needed to provide the steam supply. There are two types of boilers, Fire-Tube and Water-Tube. The fire tube boiler is a typical design which is similar to steam locomotives of the 19thand 20th Centuries. The products of combustion leave the fire box and the hot gases of about 2,000-2,500 degrees F. enter tubes which pass through a large pressure vessel. Heat flows from the hot gases through the fire tubes and into the water contained in the large cylindrical pressure vessel. The larger the steaming capacity the larger the boiler cylinder needs to be.
This evolution of boilers is taking place in 1850 to 1900 and steam engines for ships, locomotives and stationary power generation systems are getting larger and larger. Thus, the boiler pressure vessels had to grow in diameter as well.
The science of Welding and Metallurgy was in its infancy and steel plates were rolled into cylinders to form boiler shells but instead of welding the seams as is done today, they were caulked and riveted. The many riveted joints were an inherent weakness of large pressure vessels.
The inherent safety risk of Fire-Tube Boilers was that the shell diameter for a large capacity boiler must be very large. In the 19th Century and in fact, until about 1930, boilers were constructed using rivets to attach the shell plates together. Welding was not applied to boiler pressure parts till about 1930. Thus, the rivets combined with relatively primitive advances in steel manufacturing and metallurgy, created a high risk for failure of the pressure parts. Between 1895 and about 1910 there was about one major boiler explosion per day. Often each individual boiler explosion would kill dozens of people. Here are a few examples of terrible boiler explosions.
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) is Founded in about 1880 and one of the main reasons is to work as an organization to improve the safety of the public. The first edition of the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code is published about 1915.
Niagara Falls became the first major Hydro-Electric Plant in the USA and I believe, the largest in the world at the turn of the Century. A beautiful and environmentally friendly way to harness the energy of falling water.
Niagara Falls was an important milestone for power generation. But the enormous demand that began with the 20th Century was satisfied by heat-engines. Reciprocating Steam engines and steam turbines.
Meanwhile, in England, Charles Parsons is experimenting with steam turbine designs. As with steam engines, the first major applications of steam turbines are for ships. One of the notable steam turbine applications was to the Royal Navy Ship the Turbinia.
The British turbine powered “Turbinia” was built about 1894. This ship was demonstrated by Parsons to the Royal Navy as being twice as fast as reciprocating steam engine powered ships of the time. Marine applications tend to lead stationary power plants into the nuclear age with the first of a kind used for ships and the Navy, both in Europe and the U.S.A.
In America, about 1900 the transition from steam engines to steam turbines began. In this figure below there is one huge steam engine with a large flywheel in the foreground. In the back can be seen three smaller, but larger capacity steam turbines. From 1900-1915 numerous manufacturers of steam turbine drives came to be. Among them: Westinghouse, General-Electric, Allis-Chalmers, Charles Parsons, Brown-Boveri and Siemens.
In London and other large cities, Central Stations were built to generate electricity for the surrounding area. With DC current, it was only practical to extend wires for about a mile square. Later, AC was used which can be transformed to higher voltage and transmitted over longer distances. The slide of the London Power Station shows the typical arrangement of equipment in this time. Note the belt drives to the Dynamos located on a level above the steam engines and the water-tube boilers.
Energy use is not just for electricity. Even today, about 63% of our primary energy is used for transportation, industrial production and heating. About 37% of America’s energy is used to generate electricity. Automobiles become common and at the turn of the Century, the Internal Combustion Engine was welcomed as a great improvement for the environment. Cars and trucks powered by gasoline engines were a lot cleaner than horses. Petroleum became the largest portion of our energy use following WWII and continues to this day to be the major source of primary energy. Increased Industrial production, improved comforts and conveniences, improved quality of life and the resulting economic activity after 1900. All of these increased demand for most forms of primary energy and electricity.
Both marine uses and stationary power generation prime movers make progress from reciprocating steam engines to turbines and to advanced boiler designs for safety, improved efficiency and reliability.
The illustration below shows a diagram of how using coal as a source of heat energy is converted to steam which is then converted by a steam turbine to shaft “Horsepower”. Keeping in mind the definition of a horsepower is 33,000-foot pounds of work in one minute. In this example, using coal that has 11,500 Btu’s per pound, the potential work equivalent is 11,500 multiplied times 778-foot pounds per Btu. At 100% efficiency, this one pound of coal would produce about 9-million-foot pounds of potential work. The enormity of this heat energy provides insight into the tremendous energy provided by steam and also, the stored energy within the pressure containment of a steam boiler. This brings us to the advancements in safe design and construction of steam boilers over the next few decades.
The demand for electricity grew sharply after the inventions of motors, air conditioning and home appliances. Refrigerators became commonly used in homes beginning about 1927.
Coal fuel was the predominate fuel during this period for electricity generation. Steam turbine drives as prime movers had grown in size and reliability. The steam boilers larger and larger. Welding of boiler pressure parts was advanced after about 1930 and steam boilers became larger and more safe. Overall, the coal plants became quite large. Here is an article that appeared in “Combustion Magazine” during the 1930’s.
At about this same time, pre WWII, Frank Whittle invented the Jet Engine. This basic design was later used after WWII as the besis for stationary Gas Turbine Drives for generators.
Frank Whittle of the UK is generally given credit for design of the jet engine. It is thought that Von Ohain in Germany had access to Whittle’s Patent before his work.
Only twenty-two years old when he first conceived the idea of a continuous cycle combustion engine in 1933, von Ohain patented a jet propulsion engine design in 1934 that was similar in concept to that of Sir Whittle but different in internal arrangement.
Von Ohain joined Ernst Heinkel in 1936 and continued with the development of his jet propulsion concepts.
He successfully bench tested of one of his engines in September 1937 and a small aircraft was designed and constructed by Ernst Heinkel to serve as a test bed for a new type of propulsion system known as the Heinkel He178. The Heinkel He178 flew for the first time on August 27, 1939.
G-E progressed using Whittle’s design to develop both aircraft and stationary gas turbines for power generation.
Following WWII, America’s Industrial might continued with the rebuilding of Europe and Japan with the Marshall Plan. Energy use increaded as did manufacturing capacity. Along with the energy and manufacturing capacity increases came increased Economic growth.
The growth of energy consumption is shown above. This growth in energy can be compared to the GDP of Economic growth in the chart below which is copied from “Our World in Data” website.
The chart below was prepared by ExxonMobil for their Energy Outlook publication. The data is from the World Bank and the United Nations. The point is, the Human Development Index is related to energy avalaibility and use. More energy use can be parlayed into a better quality of life. The foregoing text and illustrations show how the U.S.A. progressed from an Agrairian Economy in the 19th Century to become the most productive Industrial Economy of the world by the mid 20th Century. Of course, Economic Freedom had much to do with America’s rise, but so did the availability of abundant and reasonable cost energy. This will conclude Part 1 of this post. Part 2 will show the relationship of energy and economic prosperity from 1950 to the present day.
Conclusions and Summary:
America progressed from wood and whale oil fuels to the more abundant and increased energy density of coal and oil in about 50 years, 1850-1900.
Our economy progressed and quality of life improved as more muscle labor (human and animal muscle) saving machines were invented, produced and utilized.
Steam engines and steam turbines were the prime mover of choice for ships, railroads and agriculture until the various versions of internal combustion engines were invented and manufactured. The gasoline Otto Cycle and the Diesel Cycle engines were invented and began production in the late 19th Century.
The first major oil discovery in Texas is Spindletop, 1901. This begins the long and productive history of oil production in the state of Texas.
Willis Carrier invents modern air conditioning and humidity control 1902.
Henry Ford revolutionized automoble transportation starting about 1903.
Agricultural production is vastly more productive by the replacement of horse muscle power with mechanized tractors powered by gasoline or Diesel internal combustion
Carnegie and United States Steel become the largest steel manufacturers in the world after 1901
Charles Martin Hall invents and perfects the Aluminum Smelting process in 1888. The Pittsburgh Reduction Company produces aluminum used in the Wright Brothers “Flyer” 1903. Later the name is changed to the Aluminum Company of America and the acronym, ALCOA
Production of both Steel and Aluminum are both very energy intensive. Thus, abundant, reasonable cost energy is required for the steel and aluminum industries to grow as they did.
About 1928 General-Electric produces home refrigerators for preservation of food.
Texas begins development of the Permian Basin oil fields, 1928
During WWII America becomes the “Arsenal of Democracy” and along with our Allies save Western Civilization. The Allies “Arsenal” was fueled mostly by American produced energy, mostly coal and oil.
Captain Hyman G. Rickover has a vision for nuclear propulsion system for submarines and nearly singlehandedly, designs and then leads a team to build the first nuclear powered submarine, the Nautilus which puts to sea 1955.
President Eisenhower launches “Atoms for Peace” Initiative for Peaceful uses of atomic energy. Begins at Atoms for Peace Conference in Geneva, 1955
This is Part 1. Part 2 to follow in the near future. The purpose of this post is to show the importance of reliable, reasonable cost and abundant energy. Energy to power our high quality of living. Our energy has been reliable, low cost and abundant for decades. My observation is that people have become accustomed to reasonable cost and reliable energy for so long that we take it for granted. The environmental extremists on the other hand, have attacked all conventional forms of energy including Fossil Fuels and nuclear which together comprise about 90% of the energy that we depend on.
The foregoing list of 15 accomplishments is intended to show the relationship of energy to high quality of life and economic prosperity. If energy availability is reduced, then our quality of life and economic prosperity are harmed. Up to this point in history, we have always increased energy production to meet the demand of our growing population.
Dick Storm, January 13, 2022
Believer in Freedom to use of Energy for sustainable high quality lives