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
Here is my personal opinion along with some facts to attempt to show how the policies of environmental extremists have placed America on a perilous path of energy insecurity. These are my personal opinions and they are not related with any other company or organization with which I am a part of. These are my personal thoughts regarding my concern for the future of the U.S.A.
Most of my engineer/manager/business owner friends who have worked and are familiar with electricity generation share my dismay that our great country has gone far astray from planning and building a better future for our chlidren and grandchildren. As one friend, a senior nuclear engineer stated (paraphrasing), “Our predecessors did great things, in many cases, rather than build on or advance these items, our generation has allowed them to be destroyed (think the World Trade Center towers, NASA, or in my personal case – the nuclear power industry). Our successors/followers seem to be more “lost” than ever, they accept the position that “feelings” and “beliefs” overcome scientific facts. This will be our legacy.”
The six major pollutants of sulfur, oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide, lead, particulates and volatile organic compounds were controlled. The EPA illustration below shows progress on cleaning the air from 1970 when the EPA was formed.
CLEANING THE AIR, A JOB WELL DONE!
78% Less Pollutants in 2020 than in 1970
According to the EPA, between 1970 and 2020, the combined emissions of the six common pollutants (PM2.5 and PM10, SO2, NOx, . VOC’s, CO and Lead) dropped by 78 percent. This progress occurred while U.S. economic indicators remain strong, as shown on the chart above. This is tremendous progress that all Americans can be proud of accomplishing. America has amongst the cleanest air when compared to other Developed nations.
OK, The Task of Cleaning the Nation’s Air Has Been Accomplished, So Now Let’s Keep American Business and Industry Productive, Energy Independent and Remain Competitive as the World’s Strongest Economy
If we look at the Total Primary Energy that we use, the quantitative measurement of fuels that power our total economy (Total Energy! Electricity, Industrial, Transportation, Residential and Commercial) and our high quality of living are represented on the Energy Information Administration chart below. Yes, 79% is fossil fuels. This is for the year 2021 and renewables are less than 5%. America depends on about 87% conventional fuels when nuclear power is included as a conventional fuel.
The extremists include many participants in the “World Economic Forum”. These wealthy people and organizations have funded extremist organizations with Billions of dollars in assets to fight against Natural Gas Hydraulic Fracturing, Exploration, Permitting, Drilling, Pipelines , New Refineries, Upgrading of older Power Plants and Refineries, Shutting down efficient, clean coal plants, Stopping construction of or shutting down of safe Nuclear power plants, stopping energy plant expansions and any part of improving the use of conventional fuels that power our country. Perhaps begun with good intentions, but in my view this is un-American. Where do these IRS 501(c) 3 and 4 tax exempt organizations obtain these generous funds? A good question. However, here are just a few of their sources of funding, based on Press Releases of public information. This is a sampling of how extremist, un-American organizations stay so well funded. Jeff Bezos awards NRDC $100 million dollars.Michael Bloomberg’s Bloomberg Philanthropies awards Sierra Club $174 million. The Sierra Club and Bloomberg Philanthropies brag on the Sierra Club and Bloomberg Philanthropies websites that, They have caused to shut down over 60% of America’s Coal Plants.
Tom Steyer another Billionaire starts a Climate Action Fund. I repeat, well funded to fight against us common folks achievement of the American Dream. Worse yet is the denying of needed energy for Developing countries of the world. Take a check of the Capital Research Center’s “Influence Watch” website. You won’t need to scroll through many major environmental organizations to tally up over a $Billion dollars in assets. This is mostly used to create political opposition to coal, natural gas, pipelines, Refineries, nuclear power plants and nearly all forms of conventional energy. Sure, they all were begun with good intentions of protecting the environment, that was in the Good Old days of 1892, when the Sierra Club Founder, John Muir began a movement and founded the Sierra Club to improve the environment. Like I said, it started with good intentions. However, now the extremists are endangering the future of our country. This may seem like hyperbole to those not closely involved with the energy industries. The screen shot below is from the Sierra Club, “Beyond Coal” website. Yes, they brag on shutting down 357 coal power plants. Some of these, such as Zimmer near Cincinatti should still be operating, so should some in Texas and many other states. If you have rolling Blackouts or job losses in your state, thank Michael Bloomberg, Jeff Bezos, the World Economic Forum, Tom Steyer, Movie star Celebrities, The MSM, the U.N. and the activist environmental extremists that have brought us to this crisis. Some community and state leaders proudly proclaim, “Coal is in a Death Spiral”. Maybe it is, but if so, who or which countries will benefit?
However, I am very concerned. We should look east toward Europe and Asia to learn some of the challenges that occur when energy becomes scarce. A world renowned energy expert and author Dr. Vaclav Smil has coined the phrase, “Energy is the Universal Currency”. Sadly, as this is written, the countries that understand and act on that best are Russia and China.
Environmental extremism has progressed to the point that America is likely to continue with an energy crisis that will be worse than the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo. Yes, I am old enough to remember 1973 and carrying precious five gallon cans of gasoline (knowingly unsafely) in the back of our station wagon we used to transport our family on vacation from N.C. to Florida. The gasoline shortages, the Utility stock value declines and strain on the American economy (and American Families) was difficult and memorable. Perhaps that is why I am so passionate about writing this message. This crisis does not need to happen. However, it appears to be too late to stop it and even the IEA Head, Dr. Faith Birol has admitted that it will likely get worse. In conclusion, these are the major points I wish to make:
The U.S. uses and requires about 100 quadrillion British Thermal Units each year. This is about one million Btu’s per day, per person. During 2021 wind and solar provided less than 5% of that total energy. It is impossible to replace the over 87% conventional energy with wind and solar power any time soon. America is the Saudi Arabia of Coal and we should use this resource as well as nuclear, natural gas and all other fuels within our borders.
Environmental Extremists have done a very effective job of stopping progress for America’s economy and productive capacity. They have caused us to lose our position of being energy independent in 2020. They are part of a five headed Monster. The five monster heads are; Public Education, The Media, Entertainment, Government and Extremist organizations that operate (protected from paying taxes) as non-profit organizations.
Nuclear Power is one form of carbon free energy that can significantly increase our energy independence with proven technology (if we are concerned about carbon) However, most of the Environmental extremist organizations are against nuclear as well as being against coal, gas and oil. There is only one nuclear power plant under construction in the U.S. at this time. Georgia Power/Southern Company’s Plant Vogtle. The cost overruns in my opinion are largely due to over-Regulation.
We need more new HELE Coal plants. ( High Efficiency, Low Emissions). The last two built, John Turk and Longview Plants were commissioned about 2012. Since then, much of the Supply-Chain of engineers, craftsmen and manufacturing capacity have retired or been out-sourced to China. Witness the once great pioneering power generation equipment manufacturing company, “Combustion-Engineering” now gone. Also, the American manufacturing company Foster-Wheeler. Still here in name only.
The future of solving our energy crisis looks bleak due to the momentum of poor decisions and poor priorities. It is not only the U.S. It is also Europe, Sri Lanka, Australia and India. If you have time, peruse through some of the links provided below to review the news of the International Energy Crisis.
My recommendation is that we should be using All Forms of energy and have a Balanced Energy Portfolio. One local example is my adopted state of S.C. Still a Regional Utility (state owned) they have shown in their IRP (Integrated Resource Plan) that they are likely to follow the rest of the U.S. in shutting down existing coal plants before adequate, proven, Dispatchable replacement generating capacity is built and commissioned. I favor building new Coal HELE plants, new nuclear whether SMR or conventional, and of course, the proven Gas Turbine Combined Cycle Units that have done so well at operational efficiencies above 50%.
Provide the infra-structure of pipelines and fuel supply chains to existing plants. Coal trains and pipelines.
Maintain the existing plants as if they are going to run another ten years. Plan new coal plants to replace the old ones that need to be retired.
Most importantly! Educate the General Public and K-12 Students on the true facts about the importance of energy similar to what was done by the Electric Utility Companies in teh 1950’s -1970’s up to the Arab Oil Embargo in 1973.
The preceding opinions are my own, not shared by any other company or organization that I have been associated with. These are my strong personal opinions and this was written solely by the author.
Yours very truly,
Dick Storm, July 13, 2022
References for further research and to refer to more factual information
The recent Supreme Court ruling which trimmed the power of the EPA is important to provide for less government restrictions and for the freedom of future Americans to enjoy the “American Dream”. This post is based on the importance of energy to power our way of life. Each American uses about a million Btus of energy each day. Energy fuels our way of life. The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has kept track of the total primary energy use of America for many years. Total primary energy use has held steady at about 100 quads (+/-10) per year for the last 23 years. Total Primary Energy includes all forms of energy. The Energy Flow Chart for 2021 is copied below:
Total Primary Energy Supply 1999-2021 about 100 Quadrillion Btu’s
A fair question is, what does the Supreme Court ruling on the EPA’s right to regulate carbon have to do with living the American Dream? Here is my answer. If we accept that the U.S. requires 100 quadrillion Btus of energy to power our high quality of living, then how can we continue living our good lives if over 80% of the fuel we depend on is considered unavailable by the government? Yes, from the LLNL figure above, (in Quads) 35.1 Petroleum + 10.5 Coal +31.3 Natural Gas +8.13 nuclear power = 85.03 quadrillion Btus which is 87.4 % of the 97.3 Quads of Total Primary Energy.
Thermal energy is important for every American. The 87.4% includes nuclear. Therefore, the total primary energy provided from conventional forms of energy is 87.4%.
The government, “Woke” Business leaders, celebrities and many in the media have pushed the fantasy of achieving American energy needs from 100% solar and wind by 2030 or 2050. To attempt to be polite, thinking we can replace conventional forms of energy within a few years is being detached from reality and delusional. Let me explain why I believe this to be so by looking at the last 23 years of energy use to show where we came from in two decades and to then look into the future to see the next two decades:
The 1999 Sankey diagram (above) shows total energy use in the U.S. of 96.6 quadrillion Btus. I stated above that America’s total primary energy has held pretty steady for decades. So, here is the factual data of energy flows from 1999. Over the years, the fuel sources have changed but the total primary energy required to power our lives and economy has remained fairly constant, right at 100 quadrillion Btus. In 1999 coal was 23.3 quadrillion Btus and natural gas 19.29. The “Shale Gas Revolution” which began about 2010 created production of low cost natural gas which displaced much of the coal used for power generation. This fuel substitution of natural gas for coal was mostly for economic dispatch reasons of a more economical fuel for power generation. By the way, if you compare the natural gas prices/million Btus to coal today, coal looks far more reasonable in cost.
Total Primary Energy is Needed for Electricity Generation Plus… Industry, Transportation, Commercial and Residential
The graph below was prepared by the EIA to illustrate the production and use of total energy in the U.S.A. from 1950 to 2020. This also supports the statement that America has used right at 100 Quadrillion Btus for the last 23 years. This includes all forms of energy and including coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, hydroelectric, solar, wind, Biomass, geothermal. As can be seen from the graph, energy independence was achieved in 2020. This was largely as the result of increased oil and natural gas production within the U.S.A.
The Fantasy of Wind and Solar Replacing Conventional Energy and Achieving Net-Zero Carbon by 2050
Fossil fuels plus nuclear energy provided over 87% of America’s total primary energy for the year 2021. This is a fact. (as shown on the first chart above from LLNL) It is also a fact that wind and solar together provided about 5% of our total primary energy. The question needs to be asked, Is it reasonable to expect solar and wind to replace the energy currently provided by petroleum, natural gas, coal and nuclear? I say NO it is not reasonable to expect solar and wind to replace coal, oil, gas and nuclear any time soon. Yes, wind and solar are being forced on America by the energy policies and incentives of government, but it is implausible to expect the total of 100 Quadrillion Btu’s equivalent of energy to come from wind and solar. In my opinion, impossible until there are major technological advancements.
Here are eleven reasons why Net-Zero Carbon is Not Practical within the next 28 years:
The land area of 100% renewables required is enormous. The energy density of solar and wind is far too low(1)
Electricity storage is not yet technologically advanced for commercial applications at Utility scale for long time periods
If all Internal Combustion Engines for ground transportation are electrified, then it exacerbates the first two points. It still takes about the same primary energy content to move vehicles no matter what fuel or energy source is used. Example, EV’s need charging to provide motive force
Solar and Wind are not Dispatchable. They provide maximum output as nature provides when the wind blows and the sun shines, not as Citizen electricity demand requires
About 8-10% of petroleum is refined into Jet Fuel. Hydrogen fueled aircraft may be safe & practical some day, but that someday is decades away.
Fertilizer and food production uses between 2 and 5% of total primary energy. This cannot be replaced with wind and solar
The Transmission and Distribution network of the electric Grid is not setup for solar and wind systems. It takes time to permit, design and construct T&D systems
Oil, coal and natural gas provide raw materials for textiles, rubber, plastics and many other products that the world depends on
Coking coal is required to produce the best quality steel from iron ore
Cement production requires fuel for production
Nuclear power is the largest provider of carbon free energy, yet there is only one new nuclear plant under construction in the U.S. The Georgia Power Plant Vogtle Units 2 &3
All Fuels are Important and a Balanced Energy Portfolio is Preferred
America has been depending on coal power for many years. Although not appreciated by the media and even some Utility Exec’s, coal remains important. I will cite three examples below: First the U.S. Grid Electric Generation by fuel type for the weeks of September 25 -October 2, 2021 and from June 10- 16, 2022. Note the Dispatchable power of over 80% in both cases, with coal providing a significant portion of the generation. Also shown below are screen shots of actual generation by fuel for both the MISO and PJM RTO’s (Regional Transmission Operators)
The four illustrations above show examples of the importance of coal fuel to electric power generation for the lower 48 states, for the Midcontenent Independent System Operator and for the PJM Interconnection. All four examples show significant generation by Dispatchable power: coal, gas and nuclear. These four charts could be considered “A Balanced Generation Portfolio” By balanced, I mean fuel diversity of nuclear, gas, coal and renewables. This is good, however, the current U.S. Path is to shutdown many of the coal plants that were participating in the above “examples. Take a look at the EIA report that states 12.6 GW of coal plants to retire by 2022. (4)
Also, the recent closures of Palisades Nuclear Plant in Michigan and the William Zimmer 1300 MW coal plant near Cincinnati.
Coal, The American Treasure of Energy
When I was active in the American Coal Council we had an interesting speaker from the National Coal Council, on the coal, oil and gas reserves within the borders of the U.S. The speaker (Robert Beck) presented a study of using captured CO2 to force oil still trapped beneath Ohio’s old oil fields. As I recall, the presentation summary was that any place that coal is found, so is oil and gas. Thus, if you look at a map of U.S. coal deposits, sure enough, gas and oil has also been produced. Getting back to the National Coal Council presentation, the statement was made that about 3 million barrels a day of oil could be recovered from the “Old abandoned” Ohio Oil fields of decades ago, by using enhanced oil recovery of pressurizing the oil deposits with CO2 captured from the many coal plants in Ohio.(5) Here below is an illustration of world coal reserves. It could be said, the U.S. likely has the largest fossil fuel reserves in the world. The statement made by a coal expert that I heard ten years ago seems true, “Wherever there is coal, so is there oil and gas”. Texas, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and North Dakota all have coal and all have had significant oil and gas production since Hydraulic Fracturing combined with directional drilling has been utilized.
Why should our politicians cripple our economy over the politically inspired (not Environmental protection driven) U.N. -IPCC, Paris agreement?(56,57,58,59)America can be Energy Independent. We were in 2020 and we can do it again!
Meanwhile in China
China is the world’s largest producer of aluminum and steel. They also are the largest manufacturing nation on the planet. This manufacturing might is powered mostly by coal power. China gets it and they are diligently working toward a “Balanced Generation Portfolio” of coal, nuclear, wind, solar and gas.(51, 52, 53) Russia is conveniently in an excellent geographic and economic position to supply coal, oil, nuclear and gas to China to power their industrial output.
China is a large country that is committed to increasing the size of their economy. Powering manufacturing requires large amounts of reliable, reasonable cost electricity generation. China has a truly “Balanced Portfolio of Generation Capacity”, including nuclear as shown above and also enormous amounts of renewable power from the Three Gorges Hydroelectric plant which is over 22 GW in capacity, as well as wind, solar and coal. I thought I should interject the energy facts regarding China’s Bulk Power Generation, because competing with them will require reasonable cost Bulk Power here. Especially for energy intensive manufacturing such as aluminum smelting and other primary metals production.
Conclusions from Excerpts of Vaclav Smil book, “Power Density” on the Use of Wind, Water and Solar to Generate most of Our Electricity
Vaclav Smil has written many books on Energy, Power and Electricity generation. His book “POWER DENSITY” for this discussion is particularly relevant. Copied below are excerpts from the final chapter of “POWER DENSITY”:
“What Would it Take”
“If you are willing to engage in unbounded science and engineering fiction, then acccording to Jacobson and Delucchi (2011), this is what it would take to supply the world with 100% renewable energy in 2030 by using electricity (generated by wind, water and solar PV installations) and electrolytic hydrogen for all purposes: 3.8 million 5-MW wind turbines, 49,000 300-MW central solar plants, 1.7 billion 3-kW rooftop PV installations, 5,350 100-MW geothermal plants, 270 new 1.3 GW hydro stations, 720,000 0.75-MW wave devices and 490,000 1-MW tidal turbines. All of that will require only about 0.4% of the world’s land for its footprint and 0.6% for spacing, and we are assured that the barriers to the plan are primarily social and political, not technological or economic as the energy cost in a new wind-water-solar world should be similar to that today” (The above is quoting from Jacobson and Delucchi)
Smil continues (from pg 244, Power Density)
“These assurances asides, the simplest reality check shows the fictional nature of these assumptions. In 2013 the worldwide capacity in wind turbines reached 330 GW, while 13 TW (40 times as much) would be needed by 2030. Total rooftop and large plant PV capacity reached about 100 GW, but 17.1 TW of these installations would be required (170 times as much); moreover, there was not a single 300-MW solar PV plant (five plants rated between 200-250 MW), whereas 40,000 would be needed by 2030. In 2013 there was only one central solar power facility rated at more than 300 MW, Ivanpah, at 392 MW, but nearly 5,000 such facilities would be needed by 2030 (an increase of four orders of magnitude). There were fewer than 50 geothermal stations rated at more than 100 MW, but 5,350 would be needed (a 100-fold increase). Pelamis (2014, the world’s most advanced wave energy company, produced six 0.75 MW devices by the beginning of 2014, but 720,000 would need to be operating by 2030 (an increase of five orders of magnitude). Finally, by 2013 there were fewer than ten small tidal stations with aggregate installed power of much less than 1 GW, while 490 GW would have to generate by 2030 (two orders of magnitude more).
Such ramping-up of all kinds of capacities-design, permitting, financing, engineering, construction, all going up between one and five orders of magnitude in less than two decades-is far, far beyond anything that has been witnessed in less than two decades-is far, far beyond anything that has been witnessed in more than a century of developing modern energy systems. And that still leaves out two other key facts, namely, that such a gargantuan renewable energy system would need an enormous expansion of high-voltage transmission and would require the creation of an entirely new, hydrogen-based society. I am still not sure how we would fly with hydrogen (or electricity) or smelt pig iron. In any case the chances of a 100% water-wind-solar world to be ready by 2030 are nil, but it is worth while exploring what it would (realistically) take to create an increasingly nonfossil global energy system.” The preceding “What Would it Take” is a direct quotation from Smil’s book, pages 243-245.
Summary & Conclusions:
In my opinion, Vaclav Smil in the preceding paragraphs captured the essence of the fictional engineering that can create a path to Net-Zero Carbon by 2050. In the references that follow, Donn Dears and others have come to similar conclusions on the futility of achieving Net-Zero Carbon.
With regard to Anthropogenic Climate Change, I have included some references from expert Climate and Atmospheric Scientists that know the topic well.(2,7,8,9,10,12,13,15,16,56,58,59)
Climate Policies and the UN-IPCC are driven by politics and not by science or a sincere interest in saving the planet. Some references which support this claim are also included for further reading.(56,58,59)
I will close with seven conclusions, which are:
The Economic Harm to the U.S. if the Path to Net-Zero Carbon with solar and wind and without nuclear power as a major component, will weaken the U.S.A. and harm our capability to compete in world markets. Especially competing with China and the rest of the world in manufacturing.(2, 3, 4, 7, 8 & 9)
Dispatchable Coal Plants should not be shut down until they are replaced by proven and commissioned “Dispatchable” generating capacity. Shutting down 12.6MW of coal plants as planned, will lead to Blackouts and Brownouts(4,22,25, 26, 27)
Depending on wind and solar to replace the existing 2022 still operational coal and nuclear plants will lead to increased electricity costs as well as reduced reliability(14, 36)
China is the world’s largest manufacturer and will remain ahead of the U.S. and gain further if the U.S. continues down the Net-Zero Carbon Path(17, 18, 19, 28)
America invented nuclear power (Rickover) for peaceful purposes and was the world leader in developing nuclear power for peaceful purposes. We have lost that lead and China and Russia are building more nuclear power plants in the world than the U.S. Most of our problems are unessessary Federal Regulations(11, 51,53,57)
Energy Independence plus reasonable cost, abundant and Dispatchable Electricity are pre-requisites for a strong economy and a strong National Defense. America should expand and increase our treasures of nuclear, coal, oil and gas forms of energy to reachieve Energy Independence.(5)
The U.S. should use all of the energy resources within our borders to be 100% Energy Independent. This includes the Treasure of Coal Energy which we know how to burn cleanly.(30, 31, 32)
Dick Storm, July 4th, 2022
References for Further Reading:
Vaclav Smil Book, “POWER DENSITY” The MIT Press 2015
Santee-Cooper is a state owned Utility in the Great State of South Carolina. The Total Generation Capacity is about 6,000 MW, though a small Utility it is, I think, a great example of one which currently has a well balanced generation portfolio and it should stay that way.
Myself and others have commented on the importance of a Balanced Energy Portfolio on LinkedIn, other Social Media, in technical presentations, papers and short courses that we have presented. The Wall Street Journal, NERC, MISO, Utility Dive, Power Magazine, Forbes and other respected Technical Journals and magazines have reported that America may in fact, experience Blackouts during the summer of 2022(1,2,3,4,5) This is serious and it shows the poor planning or absence of any planning at all for the future sustainable energy needs of America.
So, If I am so Critical, Shouldn’t I provide My Suggestions? Here they are.
I thought it would be appropriate to take a 6,000 MW Electric Utility as an example and show in detail what I recommend for a Balanced Generation Portfolio should look like for the next 10-20 years. I selected Santee-Cooper as the example because I am very familiar with their coal plants having worked as a field service engineer, a contractor, course instructor and consultant since 1970. I have personally worked at all of the coal plants that they have owned and operated, including two that have been since shut down. Also, Santee-Cooper asked for public involvement in updating their IRP (Integrated Resources Plan), which I volunteered to participate in and was accepted as a member of their SC citizen/customer Stakeholder participants. So, what follows are my suggestions of what a Balanced Generation Portfolio could look like to keep the fine record of reasonable cost & reliable electricity for the territory served by Santee-Cooper and the Co-operatives that are major customers.
Santee-Cooper also known as South Carolina Public Service Authority
The Figure below lists the generating assets that Santee-Cooper currently owns and are operable. The generation assets total are 5,801 MW. Coal plants are 3,530 or 61% of the total generation capacity. Natural gas fueled units at Rainey are the next largest at 1,150 MW and Nuclear capacity of Summer is 322 MW. Solar as of winter 2021-2022 is planned to be 82 MW. Therefore, of the 5,801 total generation capacity over 86% is Dispatchable and of proven reasonable cost and reliable generation.
Load Growth Projections by Santee-Cooper, Supply/Demand Balance 2022-2040
Electricity demand expectations are by 2040 to grow above 6,000 MW. Currently there are plans to shut down the 1,150 MW Winyah coal fueled power station. This, I believe, if carried out will be a mistake. The world situation with energy and power should show us the importance of Domestic energy supply and Santee-Cooper has, up to this point, had a balanced energy portfolio to meet the Demand of the customers with affordable, reliable electricity supply. I have included references below of reasons why coal power is important.
The table below (labeled 2-2) is another listing of Santee-Cooper generating assets. This one is from a publicly available Black and Veatch report dated 2019.
South Carolina is #3 in Nuclear Generation in the U.S.A.
Nuclear Power is Most Dominant in South Carolina but, Many Nuclear Plants are Old and Some Could Shut Down by 2040? Licenses Need to Be Renewed by the NRC to Depend on these for backup.
In my view, Santee-Cooper is a state treasure and that the low cost, reliable generation capacity should be planned to maintain that excellent record using the proven fuels that have served our state so well (My adopted state since moving here full time). Much of the benefits of low cost electricity have come from being interconnected on the Grid with Duke and Dominion Power. They are great neighbors and also have excellent records. However, in my view and based on my experience, I think Santee-Cooper should plan future generation with a balanced portfolio with at least a 15% margin of reserve capacity for winter and summer peak loads. The current stated license expirations for the neighboring utilities and including the Summer Unit #1 which Santee-Cooper owns a portion are:
From Nuclear Energy Institute web site(15)
Duke and Dominion are likely to and in fact, I think they have already proceeded to extend the operating licenses of these nuclear plants. However, the reality is that several sister nuclear units of Duke’s nuclear fleet have already been shut down. The Crystal River nuclear unit and one of the Three Mile Island nuclear units designed and built by Babcock & Wilcox and very similar. ( I know that to be a fact, because I worked at B&W in the 1960’s) These two units performed well for many years, but are now shut down. The age of these wonderful assets must be taken into consideration when depending on the stability and reasonable cost of being dependent on the Grid connection. I feel strongly that the state power generation capacity should be capable of complete independence from neighboring Utility reserve capacity.
The Myth of Green Power
I became interested in participating as a stakeholder in the IRP process as a result of receiving the flier copied below which came with my electric bill from Palmetto Electric. It inferred that the electricity supplied to Hilton Head Island during the Heritage Golf Tournament in April was being provided by “Green Power”. Most of the power that Palmetto Electric distributes to members is provided by Santee-Cooper or from the Grid. It is my understanding that Hilton Head Island uses over 180 MW on a hot summer day. The renewable power generation assets are listed above. The renewables assets are far from adequate to meet the demand of Hilton Head Island during a normal summer day. I have shown above the facts on generating assets and electric power generation statistics for previous years. The load growth projections to 2040 were provided in the Santee-Cooper IRP Presentation. Santee-Cooper and Palmetto Electric have done a wonderful job in providing reliable, affordable electricity to Hilton Head Island. Green power if expanded at the extreme risk and expense of decommissioning Winyah and even one or more of the Cross Units will cause economic harm to our citizens and to this up to now, great state with reliable and reasonable cost power, in my opinion.
Coal and nuclear power have served the great state of South Carolina very well for many years. Coal, Gas and Nuclear power generation are all Dispatchable and with a balanced portfolio economic dispatch can continue to sustain reasonable cost Bulk Power delivery.
Fuel prices fluctuate widely due to world supply and Demand events. Before I retired in 2012, I participated in delivering courses on power generation and power generation economics. My specialty was coal firing and heat rate improvements. The graph below was prepared to present to the O & M Team of a Florida Utility to show the importance of efficient coal plant operation to compete with the then low cost natural gas fuel. In 2012 the Shale Gas Revolution was going strong and over-supply of natural gas drove natural gas prices down to levels below coal fuel cost for equivalent energy. Of course now (June 2022) natural gas prices at the Henry Hub exceed $9.00/million Btu. Thus, coal fuel, if it can be delivered, is much lower in cost. This is my basis for stating that a Balanced Portfolio of generation assets is important.
The majority of generation must be Dispatchable for voltage and frequency stability. Here below is a chart of real time power generation for a typical week in 2021. This is from the EIA website. Note that the majority (80%) of the power generation is from coal, nuclear and gas fuels. All dispatchable forms of electricity generation.
The above is real time generation. Below is the installed capacity by fuel type. Conventional generation is the majority and if this reliable generation is compromised then the entire US and the state of SC capability to deliver reasonable cost, reliable power will be harmed.
Solar power is useful for shaving day time peak load and I support the use of solar for purposes of taking advantage of daytime solar power. In fact, I was part of a team at a College in Pennsylvania where I agreed with the use of roof solar panels on the sports center for purposes of reducing August peak load demand from the local Utility. So, I agree that sometimes solar is practical, but not to replace reliable Base load Bulk Power Capacity such as the Winyah Coal plant generating capacity.
Solar and Wind power is more expensive than coal, nuclear and gas power generation. The chart below is one reference to show that. Below I will offer the example of Hawaii. Texas also should be considered from recent experiences of over building non-Dispatchable renewables.(2,11)
The chart below is Retail Electricity Costs as published on the EIA website(16) . Note the cost of Hawaii Electric which is about three times the cost of South Carolina. Hawaii of course, is an island and therefore they have no interconnections with neighboring Utilities such as Santee-Cooper does with Dominion and Duke. Therefore, the Bulk Power production costs are higher because when wind and solar is not available, Diesel Fuel is used for power generation. In large steam plants the fuel cost component of electricity generation is between 75 and 95% of the production cost at the Bus Bars. Check the Island Pulse website to see real time power generation by fuel.(14)
The continued good economic prosperity of South Carolina depends on a future of reasonable cost electric power. That future, in my strong opinion, should be provided by keeping the existing coal plants and including the coal transportation and supply chain infrastructure. Further, the existing coal plants should be operated, periodically tested and maintained. They should be protected from deterioration from corrosion and other forms of deterioration by operating them at a significant load factor and keeping them in top condition.
Each person that lives in a Developed Country and enjoys our high quality of life uses well over a million Btu’s per day. This post is a reminder of the importance of energy to power our lives and the sources of the energy we depend upon.
The war on carbon has been going on for a long time. I have written my thoughts on the start of the war on carbon which has been escalating since the Clinton Presidency and was ramped up during Obama’s. The Biden Administration has further ramped up Climate Policies (aka war on carbon) which encompass the entire government, making the Clinton and Obama attacks on carbon compare as small nuisances. Then the United Nations Secretary General has piled on with his urging to ban investment in any fossil fuel production and to use the world’s financial institutions to cut off investment through ESG policies. The Main Stream Media and Entertainment and many “Woke Banks and large Businesses” have joined in to create a serious indoctrination program for the people of the world and tightened up the available financial investment to expand or modernize energy production facilities of any type. Not only the U.S., but the Climate Policies of the world to attain Net Zero Carbon by 2050 now has much momentum. The purpose of this post is to simply lay out the facts of the energy needs of today for anyone living in the Developed World.
The Importance of Energy
Energy use, economic prosperity and Quality of life go hand in hand. The title of one of Mr. Donn Dears recent books is: “NET-ZERO Carbon, The Climate Policy Destroying America”.
At first glance, the sub title, “Climate Policy Destroying America” may seem to be an exaggeration. The intention of this short essay is to show that Mr. Dears is correct, if we move toward Net-Zero Carbon too quickly, it will destroy the American way of life and will cripple our economy. The word “Sustainability” means to me, that we sustain our quality of life as Americans have enjoyed for many years. Energy, quality of life and economic prosperity are all related. Kindly stick with me and read to the end to review the importance of conventional energy.
100 Quadrillion Btu’s Per Year Energy Use
America has used right at 100 Quadrillion Btu’s (+/- 10) annually of energy for the last twenty years. The EIA and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have calculated and published this data for decades. Here is an excerpt of the LLNL description from their website.
“The national economy is reenergizing, quite literally”
Each year, LLNL releases flow charts that illustrate the nation’s consumption and use of energy. In 2021, Americans used 97.3 quads (quadrillion BTU) of energy, which is 4.4 quads more than last year’s 92.9 quads, equivalent to a 5% increase. Both 2020 and 2021 annual energy consumption totals are less than 2018 and 2019, where Americans used more than 100 quads per year. A BTU, or British Thermal Unit, is a unit of measurement for energy; a BTU is the amount of heat it takes to raise 1 pound (~1 pint) of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit. 3,412 BTUs is equivalent to 1 kilowatt-hour, which is the amount of energy it takes to light an efficient LED lightbulb for a week. “ The chart below includes all forms of energy, including wind and solar which are included as the thermal equivalents of the electric power they produced. The chart shows “Total Primary Energy” which includes electricity generation, residential, commercial, industrial and transportation. This is my favorite chart for illustrating energy sources and uses. Suffice it to say, it is a lot of information in one chart.
Please note the quantities of solar and wind which are 1.5 Quads for solar and 3.33 Quads for wind. Yes, this is an increase from previous years. However, the total wind and solar is 3.85 Quads or right at 4%.
My point is that Electrifying Everything if it were possible to take a magic wand and change all energy use to electric power, including heating, cooking, transportation and industrial production, then it will take a growth of 25 times what is installed now by nameplate power. When considering capacity factors of wind and solar it will actually be more like 75-100 times current installed capacity plus, technological advancements in energy storage would need to be accomplished. In essence, it is impossible to get there within 8 to 28 years (2030 or 2050) and still sustain our high quality of life and yes, our high standard of living. Not to mention Dispatchability, energy storage limitations and land use requirements. Also, the practical limitations of changing energy use for transportation, the second largest use of total primary energy after electricity generation, to electric or hydrogen power. How many of us would be willing to fly on a hastily developed hydrogen fueled jet aircraft? Change our lives to use EV’s for long distance drives? Give up the plastics, textiles and numerous other products that are created from oil, gas and coal? Let’s get back to what we do and enjoy through the use of today’s forms of energy.
So, How Much Energy, in Btu’s Does Each American Use per day?
The illustration below was prepared to show a Middle School class the equivalent forms of energy they would use in a day. For our high quality of living, it is not hard to see how we depend on an average of about a million Btu’s of energy each day.
Not shown in the illustration is the energy that is used on our behalf to provide industrial production, military defense and transportation of food and products to our local stores or even deliveries to our door via Amazon, Walmart, UPS, FedEx or other delivery services. Also, about 1% of America’s energy is used to produce fertilizer for farming, not including the fuel for tractors and processing food. All of these energy uses averaged out come to (in a good year) about 100 Quadrillion Btu’s. Remember, up to now, 4% are from wind and solar.
Does it seem reasonabe to expect that we can electrify everything? Including aircraft propulsion, all light vehicles, trucks, ships, trains, fertilizer and more? I don’t think so.
Think about your day and both the necessities and the conveniences made available through the use of energy. My heading stated we use an average of about a million Btu’s per person each day. For those that will read this post, I suspect each of you are using far more than a million Btu’s per day. For example if a person takes a two hour flight on a airline, even at 80 miles per gallon per seat mile, the per person fuel for a 1,000 mile flight is about 12.5 gallons of Jet A. The plane trip alone uses about a million five hundred thousand Btu’s. The LLNL and EIA data that show our “average use per citizen” include children and folks that live very modestly and do not travel much. Also, the importance of energy used for Industrial production (including producing products from oil feedstock) which provides jobs and a productive economy cannot be underestimated. Industrial production to compete with China cannot be powered by solar and wind any time soon.
Summary and Conclusions
Where extreme priorities have been imposed to switch to renewables such as in Germany, the UK, Hawaii and Texas, there have been issues of high costs, unreliability and economic impact. Some references for further reading are provided below.
I agree with the Title of Donn Dears book, “NET-ZERO CARBON, THE CLIMATE POLICY DESTROYING AMERICA“
Dick Storm USCB-OLLI Courses, Energy and Electricity, History of Energy and Electricity and the Future of Energy and Electricity. The four parts of the “History of Energy and Electricity” are on my website: https://dickstormprobizblog.org
The United Nation’s Highest Priority In November 2021 to Save The Planet Was COP-26. Which Is More Important , Peace in the World, The Paris Climate Agreement or Avoiding World Famine and Improving the Quality of Life For All of the People of the World, Including Ukraine?
By Dick Storm
Horrible crimes against humanity are being committed in the Russia-Ukraine war. Innocent people are being murdered, homes demolished by military bombardment and artillery, world food production slowed(3,4,5) and what are the leaders of the world concerned about? Manmade Climate Change, the most successful scientific hoax in the history of the world. Three world leaders could improve world peace and start the correction of the mess the world is in today if they would change the priorities of the UN. Who am I referring to: Joe Biden, Justin Trudeau and the United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres.
Remember the UN priorities in November 2021? If not, here is a review of what these three leaders considered the most sinister problem the people of the world would face in the future. Flashback to Scotland, November 2021:
What is The Purpose of the United Nations and The Paris Agreement? World Peace? Protection of the Environment?….or One World Government to Control The People of The World?
As the world is on the threshold of nuclear war with a world food crisis likely next winter from reduced fertilizer availability and massive unproductive farmland in a war zone, these three leaders and many other sycophants have the Paris Agreement for Climate Change Policies as their top agenda, instead of the best interests of their constituents, world peace and improving the human development index of the people of the world.
I feel strongly that the top priority of these leaders and the U.N. is not concern for the planet that drives them. It is politics and control of the world’s citizens. In short, power over people. For example, the UN Secretary General’s background is copied below. This is from his Bio on the UN web page, From Mr. Guterres Curriculum vitae: “For many years Mr. Guterres was active in the Socialist International, a worldwide organization of social democratic political parties.”
Let me digress and quote the past president of the Czech Republic on the “Climate Zealots” such as Guterres, Biden, Kerry, Gore, Trudeau and many more.
Vaclav Klaus is Past President of The Czech Republic and grew up under Communism then had to wrestle with policies by the “Greens” of Europe. An Economist by training. His words, from about 2007…..“Global Warming is a false myth and every serious person and scientist says so. It is not fair to refer to the U.N. panel. The IPCC is not a scientific institution: it’s a political body, a sort of non-government organization of green flavor. It’s neither a forum of neutral scientists nor a balanced group of scientists. These people are polititicized scientists who have arrive there with a one-sided opinion and a one-sided argument”(49)
Justin Trudeau also could help guide the United Nations to a truly serious priority, but according to Peter Schweizer’s recent book, “Red Handed”, Trudeau also ranks political power above world peace. See page 187 describing the Trudeau family and links to China: Justin Trudeau is quoted in 2013: When asked which country he admired the most replied “There is a level of admiration I actually have for China….because their basic dictatorship is allowing them to turn their economy around on a dime and say, ‘we need to go greenest, fastest—we need to invest in solar’ I mean, there is flexibility that I know Stephen Harper (the Canadian PM at the time) must dream dream about having a dictatorship that he can do everything he wanted, and I find that quite interesting”
It should be blatently obvious that ranking peace and the world food supply should be more important than the Paris Climate Agreement which is based on a scientific hoax anyway. Ukraine alone supplied about 12% of the global wheat before the war, and was the biggest producer of sunflower oil. About two-thirds of the country’s wheat exports had already been delivered before the invasion, but the rest is now blocked, and farmers may be unable to continue with spring planting, or take in grain harvests in the summer. A headline in the “Times of Israel” reads, “Israel scrambles for solutions as Ukraine war chokes off egg, wheat imports”Industry figures predict egg shortage and sky-high wheat prices just in time for Passover holiday. The prospect for the world later this year is shortages of food across the globe. (3,4,5, 30)
Fertilizer costs in the U.S. have also tripled this year. Partly because of Biden’s energy policies and exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The impact of energy on food availability goes beyond higher cost Diesel fuel for shipping transportation fuel in the supply chain. Fertilizer and farmland in areas of conflict are a huge problem. (2,3,4,9,10)
Perhaps better kept as a separate subject to write on, but most people are not aware that between 30 to 40% of the U.S. corn crop is used to produce Ethanol for a gasoline additive that lowers the energy equivalent of gasoline and reduces auto mileage. Suffice it to say, energy and environmental policies that promote burning food for fuel also affects the world food supply.(16,17)
How is Energy Linked to World Peace?
I began this essay on the priorities of the leaders of the world and the priorities they saw as top priority in November 2021. Well, if you think the Mainstream Media has been duped and indoctrinated then you are not alone. While the world’s media attention was on the War on Carbon, very serious problems were brewing and under-reported. Kindly take a look at the six charts below: 1. Total primary energy of the world, 2. Coal Consumption by Region, 3. CO2 Emissions of the World, 4. Total Energy by Source for China and 5. Total End Use of Coal Fuel for Products and 6. China, The World’s Superpower of Manufacturing.
Over 50% of the world’s Fossil Fuel energy is being used by China to manufacture over 50% of the world’s steel, aluminum and just about every other product needed by the free world. These are easily verifiable facts reported by Our World in Data, IEA.org, the United Nations, EIA and Statista. Energy and Economic Prosperity are inextricably related.
So what is driving the recent rapid increase in world CO2 emissions? According to the IEA, it’s mainly China:
The rebound of global CO2 emissions above pre-pandemic levels has largely been driven by China. . . . China’s CO2 emissions increased by 750 Mt over the two-year period between 2019 and 2021. China was the only major economy to experience economic growth in both 2020 and 2021. The emissions increase in China more than offset the aggregate decline in the rest of the world of 570 Mt between 2019 and 2021. . . . With rapid GDP growth and additional electrification of energy services, electricity demand in China grew by 10% in 2021, faster than economic growth at 8.4%. The increase in demand of almost 700 TWh was the largest ever experienced in China. With demand growth outstripping the increase of low emissions supply, coal was called on to fill 56% of the rise in electricity demand.(47)
Total Energy Supply (TES) By Source, People’s Republic of China, 1990-2019
“The South China Morning Post” reported April 1, 2022, quoting “China’s Zhang Jianhua, chief of the National Energy Administration: “It signed an agreement to be supplied with 100 million metric tonnes of Russian crude oil over the next 10 years and a 30-year gas supply contract.
The world’s second largest economy suffered a nationwide energy crunch in September of last year amid local decarbonisation and energy saving campaigns, which has forced policymakers to adjust energy policies.
In the 14th five-year energy plan for 2021-25 released last week, Beijing said it would set annual crude output at around 200 million metric tonnes and lift natural gas output to more than 230 billion cubic metres from 205.3 billion cubic metres.
Coal and thermal power will remain the bedrock of China’s energy security strategy, Zhang wrote in the article.” (31)
The above is a direct quote from the SCMP, except the bold and underlining of the last line which was by me.
A recent post in WUWT stated, “China Continues To Laugh At Western “Green Energy” Foolishness”(47)
Why? The graphs above show China’s energy sources and growth in consumption. Economic prosperity is powered by Energy and China has used a lot of energy to become the world’s largest manufacturer.
Russia is the World’s Gas Station, China is the World’s Largest Manufacturer, Still think the UN Has it Right with the War on Carbon as their Top Priority?
China continues to power their mammoth manufacturing might with coal plants. We should remember our history, do you remember the term “The Arsenal of Democracy” when America provided the remarkable production of airplanes, tanks, guns, ships, arms and materiel to help the Allies win WWll? Some say “History Repeats”…..and if we switch to current events, Russia and China are very cozy with each other at this horrible time for Ukraine.
My point is that energy is a pre-requisite for economic prosperity. China gets it. China, Environmental Extremists, Socialists and Russia have duped the UN and the world leaders into believing the planet is imperiled by 0.041% carbon dioxide that is in the atmosphere. Meanwhile, China burns over half of the world’s coal to power their industries. Russia remains the world’s gas station and holds Europe hostage to Russia’s gas (and more) while the Green’s of Germany shut down safe, proven, reliable and reasonable production cost coal and nuclear power plants, making them beholden to Russian energy. This is nuts.
China has risen from a “Developing Country” in 2000 to the second largest economy in the world. They not only manufacture much of the steel, aluminum, rare earth minerals for batteries, solar panels and wind turbine components, they also manufacture much of the Pharmaceuticals used in the world and in the U.S. Have you tried to purchase a made in U.S.A. Drug lately? This brings me to banking. As a small businessman about thirty years ago, I remember how important banks were to sustain our business. To provide business loans for expansion, cover payroll until the invoice for products or services was paid and for conducting commerce in other countries. Banks and the size of banks is one metric to use to judge a country’s economic prosperity. China seems to me, to be pretty slick in their approach to dominating the world. They quietly support Russia and other rogue nations while they focus on producing products, acquiring world natural resources and taking over the world by using the weaknesses of Democracy & Capitalism to exploit their Financial muscle. Let’s take a look at China’s financial muscle. To be perfectly honest, the ranking of the world banks surprised me and I thought I kept up with world business news.
China and Banking
China now has five of the world’s ten largest Banks. Yes, being the world’s largest manufacturer has it’s advantages. It creates wealth which can then be converted into International Influence. The China “One Belt, One Road” or “Belt and Roads Initiative” is an example that is playing out around the world. Also, I am told by a financial expert, China holds about 4% of the U.S. Treasury debt.
A lot of people who have not run a business do not understand the need for working Capital. When a company cannot get loans to cover everyday costs or to finance future improvements they go out of business. We might ask some questions regarding the ESG Movement and Regulations that are pending with regard to discouraging or demonizing investments in fossil fuels (and suppliers to fossil fuel producers) by US investors. Is there a sinister, foreign influence side to the ESG movement and Federal Regulations? Here is the list of the top ten banks of the world. Yes, five of the top ten are Chinese.
My point is, manufacturing requires lots of energy. Especially primary metals and heavy manufacturing. As seen from the graphs above, China has grown enormously in manufacturing capacity since they entered the WTO in 2001. To put it in perspective, China built more electric generation capacity in twenty years than the U.S. did since the days of Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse 100+ years ago.
Getting back to finance, did you catch the small news item last week? As it is related to energy, Saudi Arabia is considering acceptance of the Chinese Yuan for oil and China will be pushing to use other currency than the USD as they continue to grow their economy. (50)
Let’s Review the Sources of the Dependable, Dispatchable and in 2020, Reasonable Cost Energy that We Depend On
If you take what you see in the newspapers and on TV seriously, you would think that we only have a little way to go to convert our economy to zero carbon. This is not true!
I cite the example of a usually conservative Newspaper, the Wall Street Journal. This is a screen shot of a video they had last year which was based on facts, but at the same time misleading the public on the success of “Green Energy”.
Yes, the 90% of “NEW GENERATION” in 2020 was Renewable, but the true useful energy production was less than 4% of the total energy provided to the U.S.A.
This is a reminder, over 90% of America’s energy is provided by conventional fuels such as oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear, waste to energy, biomass and old hydroelectric power stations. The Lawrence Livermore Labs Sankey Diagram, in my opinion, is the best single illustration to show true energy flows from the sources to end use. It is copied below for the year 2019. This is simply the true facts of where we obtain our energy:
America has been using right at 100 Quadrillion Btu’s of energy for decades. The next chart below, shows the historical energy use from 1950-2019. This is a useful chart to consider the transfer of energy from fossil fuels to electric vehicles. Notice that only 3.78% of our Total Energy was provided by solar and wind in 2019. Now imagine the futility of replacing the 37% of our Total Energy now provided by petroleum, with EV’s. The Government Net Zero Carbon plans to replace not only the petroleum but also Natural Gas and Nuclear. The Total Energy supplied by Petroleum is about 37%, Gas 32%, Coal 11.4% and Nuclear 8.5%. These “Conventional sources of energy total 88.9%. Replacing this energy with renewables by 2030 or even 2050 will require an enormous technological breakthrough. The government should not promote policies based on miracles.
To keep our same freedom and high quality of life, it requires each of us 331 million Americans to utilize an average of about a million Btu’s in energy each day. Averages are often misleading, consider the millions of Btu’s used by the world elitists that traveled to Scotland for COP-26. My understanding is that there were over 400 private jets and that the fuel used for these delegates exceeded the total petrol used by Scotland for an entire year. That should provide a clue regarding the sincere interest of the participants in the UN Climate talks to save the planet. It is reasonable for each of us living in the Developed World to continue using our allotment of about a million Btu’s of energy each day.
My Suggestion, On How to Fix this Energy, World Peace and Food Supply Mess
The War of Carbon in my viewpoint is contributing to International conflicts and harming world peace. If Joe Biden would rescind most of his Executive orders including drilling on Federal Lands, Building the Keystone Pipeline and scrapping the Paris Climate Agreement, it would, in my opinion, contribute to world peace and much more.(1,2,3,5,13)
The Biden administration is testing new depths of mind-blowing political dysfunction, by begging OPEC for more oil, while at the same time maintaining their attack on the US domestic oil industry. (28) Speaking of attacks on the energy producers that we depend on…..
ESG, One of America’s Self Inflicted Roadblocks for a Sane Energy Policy
The (ESG) movement is harming U.S. productive capacity of conventional fuels that are needed. (See above Sankey Diagram to show what we need) These actions are pushed by environmental groups, by government and by big business. (33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40) These ESG punitive actions have been ramped up, such as Biden’s “Whole Government Approach to Climate Control Policies” with involvement of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the EPA, IRS Tax policies and more.
Meanwhile, NGO’s also are attacking US Energy producers. Does this look to you like it could be coordinated with America’s world competitors or enemies? It does to me. Check reference #44 entitled, “What Divestment From Russia Means for Activism Against Fossil Fuels” then the sub title: “It’s time to scale up fossil fuels divestment”(44). When 80% of the energy we depend on is from oil, gas & coal, does this seem like a Patriotic and good action? Not in my book. Another excellent reference on the good that Fossil Fuels do to keep America strong and to improve the quality of life for all of the people of the world. The publication by Liberty Oilfield Services is entitled “Bettering Human Lives, 2020 ESG Report”(45)
It could be argued, that keeping America energy independent and the Free World less dependent on rogue nations is important for national security. Look at the mess Europe is in now with their dependence on Putin’s Russian natural gas. The Greens helped push Europe toward Green Energy and they are working hard here in the US too. The environmental extremists were successful in stopping all major new coal plants from being constructed in the US since about 2012. The last major Utility scale clean coal plants I am aware of are Turk in Arkansas and Longview in West Virginia. Even then to obtain operating permits, the environmental extremists were paid off in settlements. These settlements were millions of dollars.(46) Quite honestly, it is extortion which was enabled by the US government. How does this make America stronger and more energy independent?
How About Clean Air?
Before Biden’s Executive orders to push America toward intermittent green energy, our air was and remains amongst the cleanest in the world. The EPA Graphic copied below shows the trends of cleaner air from 1970-2020. This is regarding the six major pollutants that are a real threat to health. I just like everyone else enjoy and appreciate clean air and clean water. I also like my freedom and the American life style that I have enjoyed all of my life.
From my personal experiences of traveling around the world, I can honestly say America’s air is as clean or cleaner than most other countries that I have visited either on business or pleasure. Note the EPA chart above does show the increases in population and GDP from 1970 to 2019, as the six aggregate named pollutants were steadily reduced. There does come to be a point of diminishing returns on air pollution controls just like most other problems. That is, unless you are a Bureaucrat and wish to keep making more and more and stricter yet Regulations. That is the case, in my opinion of the restrictions on CO2 and the Net Zero Carbon and Extreme Green policies. These Regulations and Executive Orders are harmful for American competitiveness and harmful for Peace and Prosperity of the world.
The Net-Zero Carbon Climate Policies are contributing to turmoil in the world by weakening America and NATO Allies. The Paris Agreement for working toward Net Zero Carbon is politically driven, not by concern to save the planet.
The Green Energy Movement in Europe should be an example for the U.S. to learn from. They have had extreme cost escalations and, in some cases, rolling blackouts.
Conventional Fuels of Natural Gas, Coal, Oil, Nuclear, Hydroelectric and Biomass provide over 90% of our energy. Ramping up Renewable solar and wind from about 4% to 100% is unrealistic and impossible to achieve without technological breakthroughs.
The ESG Movement (Environmental Social and Governance) is Discouraging needed investments in oil and gas production as well as harming most all Energy Producers. Check references 33 through 39 for more details.
If Net Zero Carbon was really needed or important, then the Government would encourage the building of more nuclear power plants. Hundreds of them as most of the about 20% of our electricity and over 50% of our carbon free electricity is produced by nuclear now. Most of these nuclear plants were started up in the 1970’s and 1980’s. (41, 42, 43)
World Peace and Prosperity could be better achieved if the world leaders were to focus on the true problems of the world, rather than a war on carbon.
The foregoing are selected facts and data to support my claim that if President Biden were to rescind his 2021 Executive orders and roll back EPA, Dept of the Interior and other Government Regulations to those in effect when he took office, America could begin a recovery of correcting inflation, supply chain issues, increased food production for the world, improved economic growth & Prosperity and even leading the world to peace.
Dick Storm, April 5, 2022
References and Resources for Further Reading to Support My Conclusions:
Vaclav Klaus is a past President of the Czech Republic. Klaus wrote the book, “Blue Planet in Green Shackles” in 2007, published by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. The sub-title reminds me of the current crisis in the Ukraine. With Russia’s economy being fortified by PetroDollars and the CCP working in earnest to Dominate the World with their influence. I re-ask the question “What Is Endangered: Climate or Freedom?”
Vaclav Klaus, A Smart and Courageous Man, Also A Great Thinker and Writer!
Václav Klaus, (born June 19, 1941, Prague, Czechoslovakia [now in Czech Republic]), Czech economist and politician who served as Prime Minister (1993–97) and President (2003–13) of the Czech Republic.
Klaus graduated from the University of Economics in Prague in 1963. He was a research worker at the Institute of Economics of the Czech Academy of Sciences in 1968 when he completed his Ph.D. in economics. After working for several years at the Czechoslovak State Bank, he joined the Forecasting Institute of the Czech Academy in 1987. At the beginning of the 1989 Velvet Revolution which brought about the peaceful end of Communism in Czechoslovakia, Klaus entered politics. This Bio from the Encyclopedia Brittanica.
Another quote attributed to Klaus: “The climate change debate is basically not about science; it is about ideology. It is not about global temperature; it is about the concept of human society. It is not about nature or scientific ecology; it is about environmentalism, about one – recently born – dirigistic and collectivistic ideology, which goes against freedom and free markets”
Prescient Words from Klaus in 2007
“As someone who lived under Communism for most of my life, I feel obliged to say that the biggest threat to freedom, democracy,the market economy and prosperity at the beginning of the 21st Century is not Communism or its various softer versions. Communism was replaced by the threat of ambitious environmentalism. This ideology preaches Earth and nature, and under the slogans of their protection-similarly to the old Marxists-wants to replace the free and spontaneous evolution of mankind by a sort of central (now global) planning of the whole world.”
“The environmentalists consider their ideas and arguments to be an indisputable truth and use sophisticated methods of media manipulation and (Public relations) campaigns to exert pressure on policymakers to achieve their goals. Their argumentation is based on the spreading of fear and panic by declaring teh future of the world to be under serious threat. In such an atmosphere, they continue pushing policymakers to adopt illiberal measures; imposearbitrary limits, regulations, prohibitions, and restrictions on everyday human activities; and make people subject to omnipotent bureaucratic decision making. To use the words of Friedrich Hayek, they try to stop free, spontaneous human action and replace it by their own, very doubtful human design….”
The above is an excerpt from page 76 of the book’s appendix. This book is only about 100 pages long including the four appendices, the last one being Klaus’ speech to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in 2007. The U.N. should have paid more attention and acted as Dr. Klaus recommended.
Where is the Czech Republic?
The Czech Republic began its exit from Communism in 1989. The map below shows its position to the south of Germany and Poland.
So What Does The United Nations do for World Peace?
Since about 2007 or so, the Main Stream Media would have us believe the top priority with the U.N. is to save the planet from global warming and climate change. I have written on another post my thoughts on the U.N. Agenda 21 and the IPCC.
The News from the last week or so in Europe is troubling as Russia launches attacks on the Ukraine. The pain, suffering and deaths of the people of the Ukraine is horrible to watch on TV.
So, where is the U.N.? Now a sovereign country has a genuine and true crisis for humanity in Europe. Russia has invaded, waged war and is attempting to take over the sovereign country of the Ukraine, a country of 44 million freedom loving people and a land area about the size of our state of Texas. The U.N. apparently agrees with John Kerry, policies that are related to Climate Change are more important than world peace.
To me this confirms the belief that the U.N. is more interested in a new world government than in promoting peace between nations, promoting freedom, Democracy and improving living conditions for the people of the world. (11)
Fossil Fuels Have Served Russia and China Well
China’s has used coal power to build the largest manufacturing economy in the world. Yes, they lifted millions out of poverty as they did so, but could they have a hidden agenda for world domination? Read about their “Belt and Roads Initiative” and you may find the answer.(9,10,12)
Another country that is fueling their economy on petro-dollars is Russia.
My point: The Peaceful Nations of the World have been duped into signing the Paris Climate Change Agreement while China and Russia appear to be working together on dominating the world with their influence and in the case of the Ukraine, war and atrocities on the citizens only because Putin wants the Ukraine to be within the control of Moscow. As regards Peace in the World, the United Nations has been AWOL, ( like John Kerry), more interested in the war on carbon(11) than a real unprovoked war that has created death and destruction.
Vaclav Klaus writes much in his book of 15 years ago, on the manipulation of science and use of public relations to spread false information. What a genius Klaus is! He saw this a long time ago and tried to warn the people of the world.
Fossil Fuels & Nuclear, The Energy The Developed and Developing World Depends On….or Should Be Depending on!
The Developed Countries of the world depend on abundant, reliable energy to fuel their economies. I have written on China and how they have lifted millions of people from poverty in just twenty years. Amazing progress from a human development standpoint. China did this using fossil fuels, as America did over the last 150 years. As you can see on the chart above, mostly coal.
Fossil Fuels still provide over 80% of the world’s energy. Let’s take a look at the U.S.A. energy supply. We have used right at 100 Quadrillion Btu’s annually for decades. The breakdown by fuel sources is shown below. The Fossil Fuels portion is 80.2%, comprised of 36.7% Oil, 32.1% Natural Gas and 11.4% Coal. Add in nuclear and then the total “Conventional Energy” sources are 88.56%. Solar and Wind even after decades of government subsidies total only 3.78%. A shift to Net Zero Carbon Fuels without a massive expansion of nuclear plants will be incredibly disruptive. In fact, impossible. (13)
Klaus Recommendations in his 2007 Book
Klaus understood the foolishness of net zero carbon and the fact that Climate Policy by world governments is NOT about saving the Planet, it is about government power over the citizens. His recommendations in 2007 were:
The UN should organize two parallel IPCC’s (Intergovernmental Panels on Climate Change) and publish two competing reports. To get rid of the one-sided monopoly is a sine qua non for an efficient and rational debate. Providing the same or comparable financial backing to both groups of scientists is a necessary starting point.
The countries should listen to one another (and) learn from (the) mistakes and successes of others, but any country should be left alone to prepare its own plan to tackle this problem and decide what priority to assign to its other competing goals.
These two recommendations, offered by Klaus to the U.N. were not considered and certainly not followed.
Net-Zero Carbon, The Climate Policy Destroying America, by Donn Dears
Donn Dears book covers much of what is wrong with current Climate Change Policies. His book is available on Amazon.com or you can write him by email or LinkedIn message. I have purchased copies to provide to friends and educators. Unfortunately, Dears subtitle, “The Climate Policy Destroying America” also seems prescient.
I have written dozens of posts on my Blog which you can easily access. Including a four part series on the history of energy and electricity generation. Part 4 covers China’s Rise over the last twenty years. My conclusions are:
If the current “Green New Deal” policies continue, we will weaken America’s productive capacity.
China is the world’s largest manufacturer and will continue to grow in International influence.(9)
Russia and China seem aligned now and their cooperation together is not likely to favor U.S. interests in the world.
Rejecting the Keystone Pipeline and President Trump’s policies on oil and gas drilling on public lands was a serious mistake by the Biden Administration…
Germany is a couple years ahead of the U.S. on stopping the use of coal and nuclear plants. We should learn from their experiences. (7,8)
The United Kingdom also is struggling with shortages and high costs of energy. Like mentioned for Germany, the U.S. should learn from the experiences in the UK.(14)
America’s current Energy and Environmental Policies are wrong for the best interests of America and the Free World.
I started this post with reference to Vaclave Klaus. Today I have great respect for the man who stood up to the bullying and railroading of poor science to thrust ridiculous energy policies on the free world. Sadly, we of the free world are in a position of weakness compared to where we were when President Trump left office. I am familiar with the famous quote from Ronald Reagan, which goes something like….”Freedom can be lost in one Generation” Many people of the world are losing their freedom only one year after the 2020 U.S. Election.
Dick Storm, February 27, 2022
References for Further Reading:
“Blue Planet in Green Shackles” by Vaclav Klaus and published by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, 2007
China entered the WTO in 2001. Since then it has increased in Manufacturing Might to become the World’s Largest Manufacturer and the World’s Largest Economy. To do so, it has built more electric power capacity in 20 years than the U.S. did in the preceding 150 years. China is a perfect example of how Energy and Economic Prosperity are inextricably related. First the U.S. showed the world how to use energy to replace muscle power by building our Industrialized economy using energy. This post, Part 4 shows how China has powered their manufacturing-based economy.
The relationship of energy and economic prosperity has always fascinated me. Parts 1-3 of this series focus on the America’s progress in energy development, electricity generation advances and rise in economic prosperity from 1850-2000. America during that 150 year period became the world’s largest Industrialized economy. Lifting millions of people from living in poverty to becoming the richest nation on earth.
That to me is impressive, but if we want a more recent example of the inter-relationship of energy and economic prosperity, China provides such an example. China’s climb to lift millions out of living in poverty over a couple decades is an amazing accomplishment. China used an aggressive “All Fuels are Important” policy become the world’s wealthiest country on a PPP basis (Purchasing Power Parity). From last to first in about 20 years.
Like America’s rise a hundred years ago, the best interests of the people and the nation were put first, before restrictive regulations as we Americans (thanks to an out of control Bureaucracy) get hung up on. The following two charts show electricity growth and economic growth of China.
China entered the World Trade Organization in 2001 and immediately began ramping up manufacturing facilities for aluminum and steel production. In just fifteen years China went from insignificant steel and aluminum production to becoming the world’s leader and by 2016 was producing more than 50% of the world’s aluminum and steel.(3)
Leadership in Energy & Manufacturing, Creates Wealth of a Nation
China has become the world’s largest manufacturer. This, unfortunately has been accomplished by many American businesses simply partnering or willingly yielding market share (along with 100 years of technological experience) to the Chinese. According to Statista:
China’s Electricity, Energy Sources and Plans for the Future
China has embarked on an aggressive path of “All Fuels are Important”. I have advocated this for many years for the U.S.A. As I covered in History of Energy and Electricity in Part 3, America invented, perfected and produced the first commercial nuclear power plants. We designed and built the best and cleanest coal plants. These U.S. plants were amongst the cleanest and most efficient coal plants in the history of power generation of all the world. Then, we quit. I would like to think “Paused” but with the Bureaucrats in Washington, Pausing means quitting. So, is it any wonder that China has passed us in manufacturing capacity? Worse yet, influence in the world. Getting back to China’s appproach to “All Sources of Energy are Important”.
I personally believe (along with many others(16) that most of Climate Change is from natural forces and that America’s energy security and reliability should be priority #1. Apparently on matters of Climate and Energy, China thinks like I do. Can’t think of much I agree with on China, but on “All Fuels are Important”, China and I do agree. For now, China is using enormous quantities of Fossil Fuels to power their Economy (and wealth, they own about 4% of American Treasury Bonds). Later, more nuclear and renewables will also be applied to their Grid. They already have the largest hydroelectric generation in the world. The Chinese have a good balance of Dispatchable generation and renewables.
China’s Coal Plants
Time Magazine’s August 2021 issue(5) states that China plans to build 43 new coal plants. These are planned to be clean and efficient, but in fact, coal fueled.
Not only are 43 coal plants planned to be built in China, but through their Belt and Roads Initiative, China is financing and building coal plants all over the world.(15) Reminescant of the way the U.S.AID did when I started my career in the 1960’s. Now, China is Financing, Manufacturing and Constructing power generation equipment and installing facilities all over the world.(7)
China does in fact have a forward path of matching electricity Demand with carbon-free nuclear power. Admiral Rickover and the U.S. Navy may have invented and perfected safe nuclear power generation but, China is the largest Benefactor from nuclear power generation. The new Westinghouse AP-1000 Units under construction by South Carolina Electric and Gas were stopped due to mismanagement and nine Billion USD in budget overruns. Southern Company’s Vogtle AP-1000 Units under Construction in Georgia are far over budget and behind schedule. Now planned for startup in 4th Quarter 2022(9)
China, on the other hand, plans 150 new nuclear plants and has already started up their Westinghouse AP-1000 Unit(10) Shandong Nuclear Power Co.’s Haiyang nuclear power plant is pioneering two significant aspects of nuclear diversification in China: district heating and desalination. Some of the other 150 nuclear plants are listed in the World Nuclear Association update of November 2021(11) China is on the way to leading the world in nuclear power generation.
China generates more electricity than any other country from hydroelectric power. The “Three Gorges Dam” at 22.5 GW capacity , is the largest power station in the world.(13) Suffice it to say, China, like America has taken advantage of available river flows to install dams and hydroelectric generation. Still, most of the Dispatchable electric power must come from coal, nuclear and gas plants. The chart below was done by the EIA about 2017 to show what the U.S. Dept. of Energy Forecasted for China electric power generation through 2040.
Solar and Wind Generation
Renewables in China are also huge. (6) China is also the world’s largest manufacturer of solar and wind turbine components. The chart below shows the world renewables generation. Keep in mind, renewables are not “Dispatchable”. The variations in Demand must be handled by Dispatchable power generation capacity such as those conventional systems mentioned above. Namely, coal, gas, nuclear, hydro and to a small extent, oil fueled generators. The two blue lines at the lower right of the chart are wind and solar and worldwide total about 10% of generation. The majority of the Bulk Power generated from renewables is from Hydroelectric power.(13) Hydroelectric power, by the way, is Dispatchable.
China has taken full advantage of All Sources of Energy and especially all forms of energy used to generate electricity. They have used their enormous wealth from exporting manufactured products to provide funding to build more manufacturing capabilities and to expand their influence to other countries of the world. China is a current example of how abundant and reliable energy can be used to accummulate wealth and influence in the world. Another metric of how the rapid build out of manufacturing capacity has increased wealth is to consider that four of the 10 largest banks in the world are Chinese owned.(14)
China understands the importance of “ALL Fuels are Important”. Meanwhile, the U.S. leadership is attempting to crush our major energy producing companies through excessive regulations and restrictions as well as foolish “Woke” social policies.(1) Then there is the foolish ESG Movement favored by the Democrat Party, the World Bank, Blackrock, major U.S. Banks and many U.S. manufacturing and Media corporations. The “Woke” ESG movement is weakening America and strengthening China, Russia, Iran and other countries not aligned with Freedom loving western nations.
It would be wise for our elected officials to wake up. We can only hope and pray that they do so before it is too late.
AMERICA BUILDS THE CLEANEST, MOST EFFICIENT COAL PLANTS IN THE WORLD, ACHIEVES ENERGY INDEPENDENCE, BEGINS RESHORING AMERICAN MANUFACTURING, CLEANS OUR AIR AND THEN….
COMMITS SELF INFLICTED ENERGY EUTHANASIA
My intention for the first two parts of the “History of Energy and Electricity Generation” was to outline the importance that energy and electricity played in improving our quality of living & growing our economy to become the largest in the world. America is still the world’s largest economy, but if we continue on the Net Zero Carbon Path of the “Green New Deal” then America will become weaker and China’s influence in the world will exceed America’s. Perhaps not a problem if China was run by Boy Scouts with high morals. But, the CCP does not share our values.
At current trends of economic growth, China’s GDP is likely to surpass the U.S.A.’s before 2030. The Sub-Title of this post is a reminder that during the Obama Presidency America’s Energy Policy was essentially committed to a Self-Inflicted path of energy euthanasia for our great country. Meanwhile, China ramped up energy production from All Fuel sources. I have written before on the relationship of energy and economic prosperity. That was the theme of parts 1 & 2 of this series. Abundant, reasonable cost energy fueled America’s economy for all of the 20th Century as America became the most productive country in the world with the world’s largest economy.
TWO MAGNIFICENT POWER PLANTS MADE IN THE U.S.A
On a positive note, let’s start with a description of two magnificent Ultra-supercritical clean coal plants. Made in the U.S.A. and amongst the best coal plants ever built. We should have more like these being built now!
The Best Clean Coal Plants Ever Built, Sadly amongst the last ones Built in the U.S.A.
In December 2012 one of the finest examples of American Clean Coal Plants started up. The 600 MW John W. Turk Plant in Arkansas. Power Magazine(3) awarded the plant the highest honor in 2013 for clean, reliable and efficient power generation. Here below is an excerpt of the article in POWER Magazine.
“AEP’s SWEPCO requested proposals in December 2005 for new generation to meet long-term capacity needs, and by August 2006 the company settled on coal-fired technology for a new plant site in Arkansas. Construction began in early 2008, and the new plant entered commercial service in December 2012. For overcoming numerous legal and regulatory obstacles and for building the first ultrasupercritical plant in the U.S., the John W. Turk, Jr. plant is awarded POWER’s 2013 Plant of the Year Award.
The new 600-MW John W. Turk, Jr. Power Plant owned by American Electric Power’s (AEP) Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO) is located on a 2,800-acre tract near Fulton, in Hempstead Country, Arkansas, about 20 miles northeast of Texarkana. The Turk Plant, the first modern plant in the U.S. to commercialize ultrasupercritical (USC) boiler technology, was officially declared commercial on Dec. 20, 2012.”
The specifications are impressive. The steam generator is rated at 650 MW power generation capacity. The steam generator evaporates 4,420,000 pounds per hour of water to superheat to 1,100 degrees F. Think about what that means. Four million pounds per hour, if it is expressed as gallons per minute, the evaporation rate is the equivalent flow in GPM of about 8,800 gallons per minute. This quantity of water is pumped at a pressure of over 4,400 pounds per square inch and then super-heated to over 1,100 degrees F. every minute. That still impresses me to think about it. Thanks to the American metallurgical and welding technology, the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code and over 150 years of experience, that is one of the American Power Industry’s most magnificent accomplishments, in my opinion.
Plants such as Turk can do this 24/7 constantly and at a high-capacity factor. Unlike Wind or Solar Power, the Turk Plant is fully Dispatchable too. That is why I describe plants such as Turk and Longview as magnificent! They are truly engineering marvels.
Another example of a modern, efficient supercritical coal plant is the Longview Power Plant near Morgantown, West Virginia. Longview has also attained the accomplishment of becoming the most efficient coal plant in America (different years for Turk and Longview)
Both Turk and Longview are clean coal plants equipped with Flue Gas Desulfurization equipment, Baghouses for particulate collection and Selective Catalytic Reactors for Oxides of Nitrogen correction. Called “Clean Coal because the truly harmful pollutants have been removed.
These two highly efficient HELE Plants, (HELE=High Efficiency Low Emissions) are amongst the last several major coal generating plants built in America. That’s right, about 2012 marked the end of new coal plant design and construction of coal plants in America. Few people outside the power industry understand the implications of what this means for our future.
Let me state here that I worked my entire career in the pursuit of excellence in coal power generation. Including efficiency and emissions improvements. I believe in clean air and clean water. The EPA was needed in 1970 because acid rain, fine particulates and ground level ozone were problems which large coal fired power plants contributed to. The success of the efforts of the EPA to clean the air is best described on the chart below which is prepared by the EPA(11).
From my viewpoint, cleaning the air of harmful emissions was accomplished by the time that Obama became President. From that point on, the EPA was weaponized against the best interests of America. Weaponzizing the EPA to create what I call, Energy Euthanasia. It continues today with the Climate Policies that are Destroying America. Check reference # 15 below, Donn Dears Book entitled, “NET-ZERO CARBON, THE CLIMATE POLICY DESTROYING AMERICA”
Weaponizing the EPA:
Commiting to the Present Path of Climate Policy has Seriously Wounded America’s Supply Chain for Power Generation Equipment
The Obama years 2008-2016 set a course for American Energy that were very difficult. Especially for coal power. During Obama’s Presidency, he led the EPA to declare that Carbon Dioxide should be regulated. This was later, upheld by the Supreme Court, the CO2 regulations, right or wrong, became the law of the land. Here is a short summary of how the “War on Coal” during the Clinton administration ratchetted up to becoming “The War on Carbon” and becoming lethal for American Energy Independence, the Fossil Power Plant Equipment Supply Chain & the Economic growth and prosperity that Energy Independence provides.
According the WSJ April 18, 2009, “In 1998, the Clinton administration EPA studied the question and determined that the Clean Air Act was “potentially applicable” to CO2 and other greenhouse gases. But despite continued pressure from environmental groups, the Clinton administration never moved to regulate the gases.
The EPA lumped carbon dioxide with five other gases — methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride — into a single class for regulatory purposes. That’s because they share similar properties: All are long-lived and well-mixed in the atmosphere; all trap heat that otherwise would leave the earth and go into outer space; and all are “directly emitted as greenhouse gases” rather than forming later in the atmosphere.”
According to the bulk of somewhat biased scientific research, such as that assembled by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the more greenhouse gases there are in the atmosphere, especially carbon dioxide, the more heat is trapped. That leads to rising temperatures. The EPA endorsed the (Politically Biased) IPCC research and specifically said that “natural variations” in climate, such as solar activity, couldn’t explain rising temperatures. For the record, I believe that global rising temperatures have mostly been from natural forces for thousands of years, even before the Ice Age. I am not a Climate Scientist, but there are many highly qualified well credentialed Climate Scientists that I agree with. Such as Professor Richard Lindzen, Judith Curry, Roy Spencer, John Christy, Steven Koonin and many more. Here below is an excerpt from Koonin’s book, “Unsettled, What Climate Science Tells Us and What it Doesn’t and Why it Matters”(18) His closing thoughts are in green font below:
Dr. Steven E. Koonin is a leader in science policy in the U.S. He served as Undersecretary for Science in the Dept. of Energy under President Obama.
“What we think we should do, in short, is begin by restoring integrity to the way science informs society’s decisions on climate and energy-we need to move from The Science back to science. And then take the steps most likely to result in positive outcomes for society, whatever the future might hold for our planet. As President Biden exhorted in his inaugural address, “We must reject the culture which facts themselves are manipulated, or even manufactured”
In my opinion, Dr. Koonin is correct, we should let science get back to science and that much of the huge volumes of research on manmade climate change has been politically inspired, not science inspired.
The current policy of “Net Zero Carbon” has been based on politically biased science and is driven by special interests, but not in the best interests of America.
Further, the Chinese for one country outside the U.S. have worked to influence alarm with American University students to go green. See reference below (10) where Professor Lindzen of MIT writes on China’s recent actions.
China is Fortifying Their Supply Chain, While We are Self-Inflicting Harm on Ours
The Weaponization of carbon became very effective during the Obama Administration. Interrupted by President Trump and then intensified under the Biden Administration. The path to harm the Fossil Power Systems and Fossil Power Production was ratcheting up to becoming more and more lethal. (Lethal to the Made in U.S.A. supply chain) Electricity prices were kept reasonable and the Greenhouse Gas emissions reduced during this time, thanks to the Shale Gas Revolution.
The Shale Gas Revolution Aids the War on Coal
As the War on Coal progressed, the public was insulated from electricity price rises due to enormous natural gas productivity and falling natural gas prices. The graph below shows the path of natural gas prices/million BTU’s from 2006-2012. Ultimately, gas prices dropped to levels below coal prices on a $/million Btu basis. This illustration was used for a training class I was involved with in 2012 to a coal plant staff to emphasize why excellence in O & M and best Heat-Rate operations were important for competitive power generation from coal. At the time, natural gas fueled power generation had suddenly became less expensive than coal. This is because in a Thermal-Power Plant, most of the electricity generation cost is for fuel. In GTCC (Gas Turbine Combined Cycle) plants the fuel cost component is about 90% of the production cost of electricity. Thus, doubling fuel cost/million Btu’s by itself nearly doubles the production cost of electricity. Conversely, halving the fuel cost nearly halves the production cost for electricity generation.
Also during this time Gas Turbine Combined Cycle Plant technology had improved to approach 65% Thermal Efficiency. The most efficient Heat-Engines in History. Thus, it appeared between 2010 and 2020 that America could wage war on carbon and enjoy economic prosperity including the lowest electricity costs in the world. We also had the largest drop in Carbon Dioxide emissions in the world. A 52% drop.
The following charts will illustrate the path from 2005 forward of reducing carbon emissions and keeping electricity prices reasonable.
First, fuel changes from coal to natural gas created drastic CO2 emissions, because natural gas generated electricity produces about 50% of the CO2 that coal fueled plants do.
Because electricity produced by natural gas creates about half the carbon dioxide as coal generated electricity, the first 50% reduction in Greenhouse Gases was painless. Low natural gas cost (Thanks to the Shale Gas Revolution) plus high efficiency GTCC plants provided this huge first step.
The increase in natural gas power production replaced coal power production. Together, coal, gas and nuclear still provide over 80% of our electricity. The chart above is 2004-2019. The one below is the actual (Dispatchable too!) generation across the U.S.A. in September-October of 2021:
The two pie charts of generation by Fuel (below) are from the Midwest Independent System Operator (MISOEnergy.com) and the PJM Interconnection (PJM.com) for January 26, 2022. Note the importance of coal power generation. Again, coal, nuclear and natural gas are providing over 80% of our nation’s electricity generation when it is most needed. Many of the coal plants providing this power are planed to be shut down in the next few years. They will be missed. Note reference(17) below, list of coal plants to be retired in the next few years.
AMERICA ACHIEVES ENERGY INDEPENDENCE IN 2019
The U.S. Supply Chain for Manufacturing Fossil Power Systems Equipment
Besides the importance of reliable, reasonable cost electricity, there is the Supply-Chain which we should all be concerned about.
The Supply Chain of Coal Plant Components includes thousands of tons of components. Once manufactured solely in the U.S.A., these components provided hundreds of thousands of jobs. For example, when I worked for B&W in 1969, B&W employed over 35,000 employees. Combustion-Engineering also employed over 35,000 employees. General Electric and Westinghouse Electric back then employed hundreds of thousands of employees. America was the world’s #1 manufacturer and this served our country very well. Take a look at the illustrations below of major coal plant components during construction.
A large clean coal plant involves tens of thousands of tons of steel manufacturing, seamless high alloy tubing, high pressure piping, hundreds of miles of copper wire, transformers, steam turbines, large pressure vessel manufacturing, pumps, heat exchangers, motors, generators and many other components. Manufacturing of these components involves hundreds of thousands of jobs for skilled engineers, technicians and craftsmen. The Supply-Chain is very large and spreads all across the U.S.A. Here below is a list of the suppliers to the Turk Plant. This is from the POWER Magazine article.
We stopped building large coal plants about 2014. With that comes a withering and loss of our productive manufacturing capacity. Recently, our Supply-Chain woes have been in the news. My friends ask me, How could we invent computer chips and then lose the capability to produce them here in the U.S.? How about steel tubing, steel shapes, aluminum, Rare Earth minerals and EV components? Pharmaceuticals? Where do most of these come from now? Most, come from China. China is the World’s largest manufacturer, so it seems reasonable to accept the published data that shows China using more energy than any other country.
China Energy Consumption, compared to the Rest of the World
Meanwhile, China is Getting a Lot of Practice in Building Large Coal Power Plants, All of the Equipment Involved and Many Other Products…..
Boston University has a web site that tracks China Coal Plants:
In my life-time I saw America as the top Industrialized Country of the world. We shared our wealth and technologies with other countries in good faith. Then for whatever reasons, the people of great influence, mostly from the American Democrat Party, sought to weaken our productive capacity and to cede that capacity to the Chinese Communist Party. The Mainstream News, Entertainment and most Democrats have all been part of this transfer of productive capacity and with that productive capacity comes influence in the world.
It is my hope that sometime soon, our President and Congress will wake up and see the importance of energy to power our economy. The U.S. Senate Report, “Europe’s Energy Crisis, A Warning to America” should be read by all elected officials.(15) The other references below are also informative.
Coal has been important to lift people from poverty to good lives for about 150 years. The Developed world made great progress from 1900 to present day thanks to reasonable cost coal power. The Electric Utilities once educated the public on power generation and “Living Better Electrically” Any of us born before 1950 can remember the Edison Electric Institute Mascot, “REDDY KILOWATT”. What a wonderful benefit that was for Humankind. As a high school student I actually knew where electric power came from and the basics of Thermal Power Plants.
Then ironically, about the time of the 1973-74 Arab Oil Embargo, I was working for Carolina Power and Light Company. A responsible and efficient Electric Utility headquartered in Raleigh, NC. I remember as a fact, CP&L cut the Public Relations Budget which included killing programs in schools to teach Home Economic Students the benefits of “Living Better Electrically”. Also, TV and Newspaper articles to explain the importance of electricity. So, what filled the void? The Environemntal Extremists filled the void. Then in the 1990’s Bill Clinton’s Presidency began the “War on Coal”. Later the war on coal morphed into the war on carbon.
Thank you Ron Clutz for writing your article. I will post a couple pictures of life without Fossil Fuels. As John Kerry flies around the world professing to save the Planet, I suppose this is what he and the Biden Administration wish for us to do, return to muscle power. This is preposterous considering we are well into the Digital and Space Age!
Believer in Freedom to use of Energy for sustainable high quality lives