Here is the actual Bulk Power Generation by fuel for Christmas week 2022. Note that at the peak on Christmas eve, 80% of the total electricity generation was from conventional generation using natural gas, coal and nuclear fueled generation. Sixty five percent was from natural gas and coal, this does not fit well for Net-Zero Carbon and abolishing fossil fuels. This is reality. The Clean Energy Crisis is a manufactured crisis that should not have gone this far. Donn Dears has much to offer in his new book
Donn Dears is a genuine energy expert having a long career working on design, manufacturing, maintenance and use of major equipment used in energy production. Donn has studied, worked and witnessed for himself energy production from all areas of the world including Asia and the Mideast. He understands the importance of energy to sustain a high quality of life and he understands the importance of protection of the environment. Like many of us, Donn cares about the planet and the well-being of his children and grandchildren. Clean Energy Crisis distills Donn’s career experiences plus considerable additional research to provide the reader with energy savvy. Facts that, if used can formulate a rational energy policy for the future. Every elected official must read this book and keep it for reference! Here is an outline of the contents.
Part 1 Energy Fundamentals
Fossil Fuels (Overview of oil, NG, & coal. US has largest reserves in the world.)
The grid ( Grid is mismanaged. Reliability is in danger. Baseload power essential.)
Importance of coal (HELE plants essential for poor countries.)
The promise of nuclear power ( SMRs hold promise for revival. Cost and fear stand in their way.)
Demand for Materials (Mining and shortages, environmental issues & China.)
Comparing BEVs and ICEs (Electricity demand, cost and safety issues.)
Environmental Blackhole (NEPA’s need for reform to prevent interminable legal challenges.)
Part 2 Impossible Dreams
Impossibility of Net-zero Carbon (Wind, PV solar, & nuclear: impossible to build enough capacity to meet demand.)
Creating Fear to Sell Climate Change (Show that fear of sea-level rise, hurricanes, etc., is unfounded.)
Appendix A How the grid works
Appendix B Dangerous ESG Mandates
Appendix C Battery-Powered Bucket Trucks
Appendix D Climate Science (Happer, Wijngaarden paper)
Currently over 87% of the U.S. Primary Energy is provided by natural gas, nuclear, coal and old hydroelectric plants. It is engineering fiction to believe that wind and solar can replace these forms of affordable, reliable, dispatchable and high energy density fuels. Clean Energy Crisis explains the roots of the myths of green energy and provides a realistic path forward for U.S. Energy Policy……
Monday evening I was invited to the Sunset Rotary Club to provide a presentation on energy and electric power generation. I accepted the invitation because I believe it is important for the general public to understand the importance of affordable, reliable energy and electricity generation. Rotary Clubs are comprised of great civic minded people that are involved in the community. Thus, the title of the talk, “Demystifying the Importance of Energy and Electric Power” . My intention was to help the Rotarians understand the differences of Primary and Secondary Energy, Dispatchability of electricity generation and provide an overview of the sources of our energy. Here is the presentation with a short narrative of each of the slides I used to compress a two hour topic into 30 minutes:
The object of the short talk was to cover the importance of energy and to attempt to bring the facts to community leaders that care, but are not experts in or involved in energy engineering or businesses.
Rotary members are very active in the community and the world in helping the less fortunate. The first part of the meeting was members discussing helping students and those people in the community that are living in poverty. (Yes, on Hilton Head Island we have a lot of poverty) In my attempt to pique the attention of members on the plight of people living in Developing countries and the relationship of energy and economic prosperity, I used the cover of the June 2021 Rotary Magazine. This showed an example of indoor cooking of a family in Mongolia. Another photo of a woman cooking over a wood fire in Africa. Lifting people such as these from poverty can be done with the wise and careful use of fossil fuels. Such as propane and natural gas for cooking and coal for electricity generation.
Most of America’s energy is provided by conventional forms of energy; petroleum, natural gas, coal, nuclear, biomass and hydroelectric. These six forms of primary energy provide over 90% of the energy we use, need and depend on to power our high quality of living. I used the John Deere tractor as an image to get attention to the energy component of food production. Rotary is involved in helping the less fortunate all around the world. The Energy cost component of food production is over 50% for most foods when “farm to table” is considered. Costs such as; fertilizer, tractor fuel, grain drying, food processing, refrigeration for dairy and meat products and distribution transportation power and supermarket refrigeration. As energy costs rise, they become one of the root causes of inflation.
The relationship of energy and economic growth is well known by those of us that have worked in the energy business but not so well known by the general public. To illustrate this relationship I used the data compiled by the U.S. Department of Energy back in 2010 to show the correlation of coal consumption and GDP growth from 1970-2010. This GDP growth was steady and in spite of the Arab Oil Embargo’s of 1973 and 1980. Back in the late 1970’s, when Jimmy Carter was President, his Administration promoted a National Energy policy that focused on Domestically produced energy. Because America is the “Saudi Arabia of Coal” over 50% of the U.S. ever growing electricity generation, continued to be from coal fuel.
Moving forward from 2010 to 2021, the Energy Flow Chart shows the sources and uses of each form of energy. Including renewables.
The LLNL Sankey Diagram of total primary energy flows is my favorite illustration. This shows on one diagram the total energy sources and consumption. I think it is an easy to understand graphic that any reasonable person can understand. Thus, it is my favorite energy chart.
Three points are to be made with this chart: 1. America uses about 100 Quadrillion Btus of energy each year and that this has been steady for the last 20+ years. The year 2021 energy use dipped to 97.3 Quads because of Covid and reduced travel and industrial output. 2. The LLNL chart shows PRIMARY Energy Flows. The distiction of Primary and Secondary Energy needs to be understood. For example, electricity and hydrogen are forms of Secondary Energy 3. The most important point emphasized by this chart is that wind and solar only provided 4.96% of the U.S. Primary Energy. This after decades of subsidies and taxpayer funded incentives for wind and solar.
Each South Carolina citizen uses an average of 866,000 Btus per day. Each of us in the room live a slightly above average life style. Thus, I submit that each one of us uses over a million Btus of conventional energy each day. The slide above shows the forms that energy is used by each of us, or on our behalf. I say on our behalf considering for example, the Diesel fuel used to power a truck delivering an Amazon shipment to our home, or Jet Fuel for a Fedex air freight shipment. Also, many of us will travel to see friends and family over the Thanksgiving Holiday and vacations. Travel such as that uses much more than a million Btus/day/person when gasoline and jet fuel are considered. The number is derived from dividing the total primary energy BTUs used in the state by the population then divide by 365 days, to come up with the energy/person/day consumption. The information on the illustration below is compiled by the U.S. Department of Energy for SC residents.
This reminds me of one of the excellent questions asked at the end of my presentation. The question was, “If we each use about a million Btus per day, how much do they cost in dollars?”. Great question and the answer reminds us of how fortunate we are to be Americans! A million Btu’s of natural gas costs about $7.00/million Btu and a million Btus of Diesel fuel costs about $46.00/million Btus. Depending on our personal use of energy it will be somewhere in between. Coal energy is the least costly and before Covid was less than $3.00/million Btus. But, lately due to so many factors resulting from the government’s “War on Carbon”, delivered coal costs are about the same as natural gas. This is what the proponents for renewables want, higher costs of fossil fuels which then makes renewables more competitive by increasing the costs of the once affordable fuels. In my opinion, this is not a good strategy to keep America strong.
The Alaska pipeline was approved by Congress and built after the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo. It presents a vivid image of the amount of oil America depends on each day. The Alaska pipeline is above ground because of the Permafrost Tundra in northern Alaska. The above ground image provides a graphic illustration of a pipeline capable of transporting about two million barrels of oil per day. America uses about twenty million barrels per day of oil, so to illustrate that, imagine ten pipeleines like the one shown above, side by side. Yes, that is a lot of oil to be refined into gasoline, jet fuel, kerosene, lubricating oil, grease and many other petroleum products. Not to mention the oil used in making plastics and other materials used for manufactured products of all types.
Total Primary energy production and use 1950-2020. I stated earlier that America has leveled off at about 100 Quadrillion Btus of energy each year. This chart by the EIA shows that from about the year 2000, the U.S. has used right at 100 Quadrillion Btus/year. Another point to make: Note that in 2019 it was the first year since about 1960 where America produced as much Domestic energy as we consumed. In other words, in 2019 America became energy Independent.
The data above is a few years old as it shows the world population at 7.2 billion. Just this week the U.N. estimated that the world has now passed 8 billion in total population. It is my opinion that not much has changed in the percentages of people living below the energy and HDI levels of the Developed world. As shown on the chart, about half the world population lives well below our quality of life in energy poverty. The difference? Energy and Liberty. This is the season of Thanksgiving and all Americans have much to be thankful for. I know I am.
A reminder that Energy Independence is important not only to power our HDI but also for National Security. Both militarily and for economic security. If one does not believe energy is important for a sustainable and good life, then that person should read up on the current events in Europe and Ukraine with energy shortages. Read the news on BASF downsizing fertilizer production in Germany because of high energy costs and also other German industrial plants are being downsized or shut down. All older Americans should remember the Oil Embargo’s of 1973 and 1980. Taking the U.S. Oil Embargos and Russian war on Ukraine into consideration this should elevate the understanding of the importance of energy independence and affordable production of energy to sustain our lives. Also, those of us living on the coast remember how our lives changed when hurricanes like Mathew in 2016 knocked out electricity and stopped gasoline deliveries.
Electricity generation that is “Dispatchable” is important for reliable electric service. The 24 hour chart above shows typical electric Demand for a Utility. The red lines are summer with higher air conditioning load and the winter in blue. Whether summer or winter, electric load is greatest in the morning and late afternoon. The Demand at 5:00 PM will typically be about 150% to 200% of the Demand at 5:00 AM. This is because of increased commercial lighting, cooking for dinner, folks returning home from work and turning on TV, etc. As my first “Electricity 101” instructor put it in 1959, “Electricity Needs to be Generated the Instant it is Needed”.…This is called Dispatchable electricity generation.
The Current Grid example above shows electricity generation for the 48 states of the U.S.A. This example is from October 2021 but it was similar for 2022. The cycling lines representing natural gas power illustrate the electric load Demand swings from daytime to night-time. The variations are similar but less extreme for coal and hydro. These four sources of electric generation are Dispatchable. Over 80% of the generation for the 48 states up till now, is from Dispatchable generation. Solar and wind are Not Dispatchable. So, as in California a year or two ago, as people came home from work, started cooking dinner, charged their EV’s and turned on TV’s…..the Demand for electricity exceeded the available supply and rolling Blackouts occurred. Texas in the winter of February 2021 had a similar experience. Both Blackout events were the result of too much intermittent power generation from wind and solar with too many Dispatchable coal and nuclear plants having been shut down in the last few years.
The graphic above is from the Midcontinent Independent System Operator known as MISO. Actual data from July 2022. The point is to show the generation by fuels which includes 41.85% coal. Many of these coal plants are planned to be shut down in the coming years, without planning replacement generation fron Dispatchable sources. (This is an absence of a Rational Energy Policy)
For people like myself that have been involved with energy and electricity generation for decades, it just seems foolish and ill planned. I started digging a year or two ago to attempt to determine why America has no energy policy to replace the coal and nuclear plants that have been shutdown with more to follow? The answer is that America’s energy policy is driven by environmental extremists that know little about energy and electricity generation and seem to not care about the consequences and weakening of America. Some of these organizations are shown below.
The public Indoctrination has been highly successful in indoctrinating the general public believe that green power can replace coal, gas, oil and nuclear energy. It cannot if we are to continue to enjoy our high HDI style of living.
Another RTO (Regional Transmission Operator) is the PJM Interconnection. This RTO serves as the electric power equivalent of an “Air Traffic Controller” to distribute the power genaration to the least cost electric generating plants between NJ and Illinois. A huge portion of the Northeastern states. Like MISO, much of the pwer generation this summer was from coal plants. Like MISO, many of the Dispatchable coal plants are planned for shut down in the near future. Until then neeeded preventive maintenance is not the same as if they were valued assets to be depended on for decades into the future. Also, there are no plans to replace the lost generation with new coal or nuclear units, at least, not yet.
Let’s talk about South Carolina and where we get our electricity.
Over 56% of SC electric generation is from nuclear power generation. SC ranks #3 in the U.S.
Here on Hilton Head Island our electricity is distributed by Palmetto Electric Co-Op. Palmetto Electric receives most of their Bulk Power from Santee-Cooper. The generation assets of Santee-Cooper are shown on the chart above. In the lower right inset, is shown the Summer Nuclear Plant which is operated by Dominion Energy. Santee-Cooper owns 322 MW of the nuclear generation capacity of Summer Unit #1. Two additional nuclear units were planned when SCE&G was the owner but mismanagement resulted in quitting the construction process after spending about nine Billion dollars on the expansion. Had it been successful, it would have been a good plan for carbon free electric generation capacity. Currently, most of Santee-Cooper’s power generation is from the Cross and Winyah coal power plants. As can be seen from the Santee-Cooper table above of electricity generation assets, over 67% of them are coal plants. The Cross Steam plant is about 130 miles north of Hilton Head in Pineville, SC. This plant is rated at 2,350 MW. Just to put that in perspective, the Cross coal plant is close to the same size as the American side Hydroelectric plant at Niagara Falls. This is serious Bulk Power generation capacity.
The Santee-Cooper utility also owns the 3.5 MW rated Solar Farm off of I-95 near Walterboro. Again, referring to the generation assets of Santee-Cooper, the solar capacity is about 0.1% of the total.
The solar collectors are not Dispatchable and obviously only can generate power only about 4-8 hours during the sunny portion of a 24 hour period. Also considered “Green Power” and can function 24/7 is the Landfill Gas plants that Santee-Cooper operates. These capture and use the methane gas which is produced from the decomposition of the organic materials in municipal waste.
The chart below is from the Santee-Cooper projection of electricity growth from 2020 through 2040. As can be seen from the chart, the 1,045 MW Winyah coal plant is planned for shut down in 2028. The difference between the expected growth to over 6,000 MW by about 2035 could have easily been made up for, were the Pee Dee coal plant and one of the planned additional units at Summer been completed. As this is written, Santee-Cooper and their stakeholders are working to figure out where to secure the replacement generation to replace the 1045 MW’s in capacity that will be lost when the Winyah plant is shut down. From what I have read, the most likely approval will be solar, batteries for backup and when all that is inadequate, they will install more Gas Turbine Combined Cycle units. Time will tell.
Based on the foregoing and a lot of additional information, some of which is included in the references at the end, I have formed my conclusions….
Thank you for this opportunity to be part of your program tonight. I sincerely appreciate your interest in energy and electricity. Feel free to contact me should you have any further questions,
Yours very truly,
Dick Storm, Monday November 14, 2022
Energy equivalents and other information relevant to this presentation is copied below. Further references and information for further reading are listed following these conversions:
Energy Units and Conversions The data and information which follows is listed for reference and further reading.
1 Watt is the power from a current of 1 Ampere flowing through 1 Volt 1 kilowatt (kW) is a thousand Watts
1 kilowatt-hour is the energy of one kilowatt power flowing for one hour. (E = P t)
A BTU (British Thermal Unit) is the amount of heat necessary to raise one pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit (F).
1 Megawatt (MW) is a thousand kilowatts (if Dispatchable power, up to 164 homes)
Hilton Head Island uses about 150-200 MW on a hot summer day
1 Gigawatt (GW) is a thousand Megawatts
1 kWh=3,412.6 BTUs (if converted at 100% efficiency)
1 BTU to convert to work at 100% efficiency= 778 Foot Pounds
1 Quadrillion = 1015 BTU (World energy usage is about 600 Quads/year, US is about 100 Quads/year since 1996)
Important Points on the use of Hydrogen (Secondary Energy) as Fuel:
Conversion by Electrolyzer of water to Hydrogen, takes about 50 kWh/pound of hydrogen (39 kW/pound is at 100% efficiency)
Electrolyzer produced electricity back to electricity = 26-30% round trip
It takes 9 pounds of water to create 1 pound of hydrogen
Hydrogen Energy from 1 cubic foot=325 BTUs, Methane CH4 = 1,030 BTUs Hydrogen has less Energy Density
Liquified Hydrogen is -423 Degrees F. (Liquifying is at cost of of about 30% of the energy available from the Liquid Hydrogen Fuel itself)
Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) is -260 Degrees F.
1 horsepower (hp) = 745.7 watts
I Air Conditioning Ton approx. 1 kWh
Gas Volume to Energy Conversion
One thousand cubic feet of natural gas (Mcf) -> 1.027 million BTU
Energy Content of Fuels
Coal (Bituminous) 10,500- 12,500 BTU/pound (Recent cost $15.00/million BTUs, Cost in 2019 about $2.50/million Btus)
The U.S. has No Energy Policy in 2022. Only a Decarbonization Policy without a Rational plan to achieve a low carbon Energy supply. Keep in mind, Energy is needed for not only electricity generation, but also for Transportation, Industrial production, Commercial and Residential uses. Currently, about 87% of our total primary energy is provided by conventional sources of natural gas, coal, nuclear and hydroelectric. Wind and Solar provided less than 5% of total Primary Energy in 2021. Yet, there are many influential groups calling for policies to “Electrify Everything”.
Let me digress and quote a highly respected Utility Engineering Manager from the 1970’s. That man is Mendall H. Long, a member of the Greatest Generation who after graduation from NCSU served as the youngest Chief Engineer of the Standard Oil Fleet during WWII. After the war he joined Carolina Power & Light and rapidly rose through the ranks from shift supervisor to Manager of Fossil Plant Engineering. Me and many others loved that man for both his engineering skills as well as his wisdom and leadership. In the 1970’s CP&L and Duke Power’s electricity growth was almost 10% per year with growing industrial load and wide use of residential heat pumps. At CP&L which then was a 4,000 MW regional utility, the Asheville Unit #2 (200MW) was built about 1970, then the 700 MW H.B. Robinson nuclear plant about 1971, 420 MW Sutton #3 in 1972 and the 720 MW Roxboro #3 started up in June 1973. Except for Robinson, all were coal plants and needed to satisfy load growth. That was when Utilities planned for electric load growth and added generation based on projections of future demand. The four new units built between 1970 and 1973 above totaled 2,040 MW and the total peak generation was in the range of 4,000 MW. The quote from Mr. Long that I remember as he motioned toward some Internal Combustion gas turbines that were built for peaking and backup of the large new coal plants, “Those are Monuments to Poor Planning”. So, I wonder what the “Monuments to Poor Planning will be in 2024? I worked with (both as a Riley startup engineer and as an engineer employed by CP&L) and for CP&L during those years and the information provided is from my personal experiences and memory.
Lets take a look at what a Rational plan would be to add generation in anticipation of future Demand. In fact, lets take my adopted state of South Carolina as an example.
South Carolina Electricity Generation Planning 2006-2016
Before I retired from full time employment, I participated in consulting, testing, trouble shooting and design of performance improvements for coal power plants at South Carolina Electric and Gas and Santee-Cooper power plants (as well as many other utilities). During this process I got to know and respect a number of senior managers at these Utilities. One such senior manager was Mr. Bill McCall of Santee-Cooper. I remember one technical conference where Mr. McCall gave a presentation on Santee-Cooper’s load growth from both electricity intensive Industrial plants within the Santee-Cooper service territory, such as Alumax (now Century Aluminum) and Nucor Steel and the rapid growth of housing (like NC in the 1970’s) and commercial enterprises along the coast north and south of Myrtle Beach. Mr. McCall went on to describe how electric demand was growing at unprecedented levels, and it was. He went on to show the need for building the two additional coal units at the Cross Generating Station, increasing the generation capacity of that plant to 2,340 MW and the need for the proposed 600 MW Pee Dee Generation Plant. Then there was the joint effort/ownership of SCE&G and Santee-Cooper to build the two additional nuclear units at Summer Station in Jenkinsville, SC. The significant dates of new units built or planned to be built during this period is shown below:
1984 Santee-Cooper Electric Generation Peak exceeds 5,000 MW
1984 Cross Generating Station Is Commissioned
1995 Cross Unit #2 Becomes Commercial
1999 800 MW Rainy Gas Turbine Combined Cycle Plant Approved for Construction
2004 Two 600 MW Cross Units #3&4 Construction in progress
2004 600 MW Pee Dee Energy Campus is approved by Santee-Cooper Board for construction
2007 New Peak Demand record set at 5,563 MW’s, Cross Unit #3 begins commercial operation
2008 SCE&G and Santee-Cooper File appliction for Summer Unit #3 Nuclear Unit (1,100 MW)
2011 NRC approves second Summer Nuclear Unit for a total expansion of 2,200 MW of new nuclear power generation capacity. This is shared capacity of SCE&G and Santee-Cooper with Santee-Cooper having a 45% ownership share. Now, the foregoing new plants to be added from 2007 on would seem to be a good plan for growth. It was until two major problems: 1. The 600 MW Pee Dee Energy Campus was cancelled in 2009 due largely to outside interference and agitation from environmental extremist groups and 2. Mismanagement of construction of the two nuclear units at Summer by SCE&G. A Rational Plan for new generation capacity of Dispatchable coal and nuclear generation capacity was scrapped. Now, there are continuing and increasing public and government pressures to install only wind and solar and to shut down existing coal plants as soon as possible. The 1,045 MW Winyah coal plant is planned to be shut down in 2028. But, at this writing there is no definite plan (that I am aware) to replace the 1,045 MW of coal generation. The illustration below is from Santee-Cooper’s IRP presentation.
When I first became associated with Santee-Cooper in 1971 as one of the test engineers performing acceptance testing at the Jefferies Coal plant in Moncks Corner, the system peak load was about 3,000 MW. Since then as can be seen from the projections to the future, Santee-Cooper’s service territory will grow to over 6,000 MW by 2037. This is natural growth without the MSM and government screaming, “Electrify Everything”!
Who is Accountable for Poor Planning?
In my opinion, there are multiple reasons and organizations that have brought our country to the absense of proper generation planning. Nine major contributors to “Poor Planning” are the U.N.-IPCC, the World Economic Forum, the Main Stream Media, Public Indoctrination by Politicians that follow the “Green Religion”, the U.S. Democrat Party, Environmental Extremist Organizations, Billionaire activists such as Bezos and Bloomberg and Public School Indoctrination of Green Policies and “Woke” corporations. I presented my views to the ENERUM Energy Forum in Columbus in August of this year. One slide I used is copied below:
On a national level, the slide covers many of the major players that have thrown a monkey wrench into generation planning, as it was once done by responsible regional utilities. Now, with the emphasis on interconnecting all Utilities with Regional Transmission Operators and a Federal War on Carbon, there is No Rational Energy Policy. Only a policy to attempt to kill coal and gas plants. It is un-American. My respected and Patriotic engineering manager friend Mr. Long would be screaming from his grave if he knew the madness that has taken over in the U.S. Oh, how I miss gutsy and knowledgeable managers like Mendall Long!
Getting back to S.C. and the lack of planning here. Here are a couple newspaper reports regarding the cancellation of the Pee Dee Coal plant and the Summer units 2&3 nuclear plant.
America did better generation planning in the 1970’s than we do now. In spite of the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo, America’s electricity remained reliable, was affordable and it fueled great economic growth 1970-2020.
There is no energy policy today. The “Electrify Everything” policy promoted by many here and in Eurpope is based on the myth that wind and solar can provide sufficient power. It can’t. Many promoting this myth should know better!
The Regional Transmission Operators such as MISO, PJM and ERCOT combined with economic incentives for wind and solar have made the Grid fragile and less Resilient.
The Environmental Extremists have made policies to shut down vital coal plants that will contribute to unreliable electricity generation.
The EPA and government is run by environmental extremists that escape accountability for the actions and harm they are causing.
Europe is an example our elected officials could look too to observe the costs and harm that extreme green policies can cause.
Meanwhile, China is growing their economy and is on track to become the world’s largest economy passing the U.S.A. and doing so with massive amounts of coal power.
In closing let me ask you, what do you think the Monuments to Poor Planning will be in 2024?
America and all Developed countries require Energy to power our lives and our economy. It is time (for the government, energy savvy citizens already know this) to face the facts and reality that nearly 90% of the energy America depends on, including for our Defense of National Security, is sourced from conventional fuels or sources of natural gas, nuclear, oil, coal and old hydropower generation. Wind and Solar cannot replace these forms of energy and the path to Net-Zero Carbon will weaken our country. A Rational Energy Transition is needed over the next few decades. As a reminder, the Sankey Diagram below shows the total primary energy flows by sources and flow for all of 2021 forms of energy . Note that less than 5% of the primary energy provided to the U.S. was from wind and solar.
The two key words are PRIMARY ENERGY! As a couple people have asked me on EV’s…..”You mean the electricity has to be generated somewhere else to charge an electric vehicle?”
Yes, over 89% of the PRIMARY ENERGY we use is from conventional sources of Petroleum, Coal, Natural Gas, Nuclear and Hydroelectric and yes, electricity to charge an EV likely came from conventional sources.
I have met with numerous groups to discuss our energy future and every time I outline the current government path to Net-Zero Carbon the people I talk with are shocked that there is not a planned transition to reduced carbon emissions and sustaining a reliable, affordable energy supply. Why? I believe it is because those that are knowledgeable in all forms of primary energy production are a small minority. Similar for secondary energy production, such as for producing electricity and hydrogen. I estimate that the people who thoroughly understand energy production is less than 5% of American (and the world) citizens. Smooth talking non-energy savvy politicians, the United Nations, the Main Stream Media, World Economic Forum and Public Education have Hoodwinked the Public into Demonizing carbon and preaching and legislating Green Power incentives. These powerful innfluencers have forced wind and solar Green Energy Religion on Americans. It is not possible to switch all of America or the rest of the Free World to Renewable wind and solar energy. It is possible to have a smooth transition to increase carbon free nuclear power and nuclear power produced hydrogen over the next three decades, but not by 2030 or 2035 as is proclaimed by the Biden Administration. America has no energy policy, only a policy of demonizing carbon and forcing the citizens to depend on unreliable, intermittent wind and solar.
Energy Misinformation is World-Wide
My friend Vincent who lives in France has sent me dozens of informative documents on energy. One document he sent yesterday caught my attention. It is the opening introduction of Professor Samuel Furfari’s article published on the Friends of Science Blog of Calgary University. I will quote Professor Furfari as he captures what I believe to be true as well. Furfari is referring to Europe, but much of what he states is applicable all over the Free World:
“Energy is life. Without energy, we could not live. That is why our distant ancestors adopted, then invented ways to create fire. The use of energy is essential for life: animals and human beings eat because their bodies need energy. Moreover, energy is also the blood that runs through the veins of the economic system. In recent years, instead of seeing energy as a vital commodity, environmental activists have succeeded in reversing the logic by blaming energy for all the planet’s ills, to the point where energy is no longer spoken of in negative terms. Energy has become the symbol of pollution and climate catastrophe. A few days ago, at the end of a lecture, a student confessed to me that he had been shaken because I had shown, with data, that the quality of life measured by the UN HDI index and life expectancy at birth depended on per capita energy consumption. This correlation is also valid with CO2 emissions since 82% of the energy used in the world is fossil fuel. He had never thought about it. No one had ever told him that.” Furfari continues….
“Will the current crisis be enough to bring us back to the common sense of the absolute priority of having abundant and cheap energy, as the founders of the EU said in the past? This is not certain, as the population has been so indoctrinated with negative and even catastrophic messages. But if the current crisis was to last and worsen, climate policies could face fierce opposition from the population, since it is true that the population cannot do without abundant and cheap energy, as the current panic demonstrates. Thanks to the development of technology and our energy resources (North Sea hydrocarbons and nuclear energy), the EU was able to escape the oil crises of the 1970s. The energy terrorism that may develop in the near future will have much more far-reaching consequences, as the EU is now much more dependent on energy consumption than it was fifty years ago.”
The foregoing is from a European viewpoint. My opinion/commentary now continues:
We Cannot Electrify Everything!
It is not even possible to install enough wind turbines and solar collectors across the U.S. to “Electrify Everything”. Further, we cannot electricfy everything and still sustain our high quality of living. For such products/materials as fertilizer, ammonia, food production energy, plastics, cement manufacture and steel manufacture. So what would a Rational Energy Policy look like? Here is my shot at offering one:
A RATIONAL ENERGY PLAN
Here is what a Rational Energy Plan would look like:
Maintain Existing Coal & Nuclear Plants as If they will Run for 20 more years….because… we will likely need them.
Reduce Federal Regulations on Oil, Gas, Coal production and all hard rock Mining within the U.S.A.
Reduce Regulations and build more Refinery Capacity
Approve Keystone and other Pipelines for Construction
Reduce Federal Regulations on Coal Plant Emissions to levels in effect in 2020 (except CO2 restrictions that were later vacated by SCOTUS)
Build New HELE Coal Plants, Equipped with Provisions for Future CCUS (HELE=High Efficiency Low Emissions)
Continue R & D for Energy Storage and Hydrogen Production
Increase Hydrogen Distribution Infrastructure
Keep Options of Continuing Internal Combustion Engines Beyond 2035 for those citizens that prefer Internal Combustion Engines
Expand Oil & Gas Infrastructure to meet next 30 year Demand
Increase the pace for designing, NRC Approvals, manufacturing and construction of new Small Modular Nuclear Reactors to be built all across the U.S.A. to replace the 102,000 MW’s of reliable, Dispatchable electric power production capacity that has been shut down since 2010.
Summary and Conclusions
When America’s economy and our productive capacity are restored, it will be with the result of reduced Federal Regulations and increased Domestic Energy production. To sustain life as we know it, each American on average needs about one million BTUs of energy equivalence each day. This includes energy for electricity generation, transportation, Industrial production, National Defense, commercial and residential uses. Over 90% of that energy is sourced from conventional sources of natural gas, oil, coal and nuclear. These numbers are substantiated by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Sankey Diagram I placed as the first illustration. Yes, it shows 95% of the primary energy America runs on is from conventional forms of energy. It is Energy Fiction to believe that the conventional forms we use and depend on now can be provided by wind and solar as the Biden Administration and Congress have advocated. (I suppose we could add to this list of indoctrinators: the United Nations, World Economic Forum, Environmental Extremist groups, the MSM, U.S. Public Education and Woke corporations)
If the Biden Administration and Congress do not create a Rational Energy Policy as I have outlined above, then America’s Infuence in the World and our Economy will go into an ever increasing decline. As outlined by Professor Samuel Furfari, the same is true for Europe. “Energy is Life, Without Energy we cannot live”.
The Developed World runs on energy and America has the natural resources to regain Energy Independence.
Dick Storm, October 12, 2022
Quote of the Week: “Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression.” —James Madison (1788)
America has no energy policy. We only have a policy to decarbonize. Recently I had an opportunity to meet with my representative in Congress, I brought up the topic of the coming energy crisis and how foolish current energy policies are, etc. My Congresswoman basically responded with this comment: ” I can’t do anything about that until we have a majority in Congress” I could paraphrase her response as “It’s not my job” which was a term I hated to hear from people I worked with.
Congress Abdicates Responsibility
The EPA has 14,581 employees and a 9.6 Billion dollar budget. The Department of Energy another 10,000+ employees. The heads of these departments are basically political appointee’s with no required expertise in environmental science or energy. They are not formulating energy policy or working toward energy independence for the U.S. In fact, they are led by environmental extremists. I have written numerous posts regarding the importance of energy to everything we do and eat. America runs on energy and it takes 100 Quadrillion Btus each year to power our economy, our industrial production, food production, transportation, heating, cooling, refrigeration, cooking, comforts and conveniences.
Failure to Plan Electricity Generation Capacity
The environmental extremists believe that everything can be electrified and that the electricity will be provided by renewable wind and solar power. The EPA and other state and Federal agencies have thousands of employees writing regulations to favor wind and solar and to discourage or cancel the use of coal, oil and gas. The “War on Carbon” has been going on a long time and the extremists have been very successful. The chart below is from NERC, (the North American Electricity Reliability Council). Note that since 2011 the U.S. has lost 102,600 MW’s of electric generation capacity from coal and nuclear plants.
More plants are scheduled to be shut down in the next year or two and until they are shut down, maintenance work is minimized, thus forcing a death spiral to their longevity. However, to keep the power on this summer our country has depended on Dispatchable Fossil Fuels, nuclear and hydro for over 80% of the electricity generation. A typical week of generation by fuel is shown below from the U.S. Grid Monitor website. Total generation 664,749 MW of which, 83% was Dispatchable generation. The totals by fuels on June 14 were: Gas 41%, Coal 20%, Nuclear 14%, Wind 11%, Hydro 8%, Solar 6%.
A Reminder: These are the Fuels that We Depend On Now
Natural gas, coal and nuclear fuels are what produce the most reliable and affordable electricity. This summer, about 80+% of our electricity. Here below is a typical week from the U.S. Grid Monitor website.
Reserve generation was tight and coal power generation was 36.86% for MISO and 21% for PJM as can be seen from the two charts below. Although coal power has been important this summer and will likely be more important in the winter, over 12,600 MW of coal plants are scheduled to be shut down in the next year or two. Natural gas provided the largest generation this summer and will likely be needed in similar quantities at winter peaks. However, in the winter residential heating competes with power generation and supplies due to limited pipeline capacity will likely be an imbalance of supply & Demand.
Fossil Fuels Provide 79% of U.S. Total Energy
Electricity is essential. Just remember the last hurricane or extreme weather event that caused power to be off for a day or two. It has been rare for many Americans to experience loss of electricity but when we have lost it is when we appreciate it the most. However, electricity represents about 37% of America’s promary energy consumption. The rest is used for transportation, industrial production, feedstock for plastics and other materials, fertilizer production, food production, food processing and food distribution. Seventy nine percent is from fossil fuels. When nuclear is included as “Conventional Electricity Generation” then the total conventional electricity generation is over 87%.
The Total Primary Energy Needed by the U.S. is right at 100 Quadrillion Btus per year. The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory keeps track of energy sources and use each year. A chart is published to show energy flows by fuel as a form of Sankey Diagram where the thickness of each line represents the portion of each source of energy or fuel.
Note the solar and wind production in 2021. Total of wind and solar as primary energy was less than 5% of America’s total primary energy supply. Fossil fuels plus nuclear are over 87%. Who believes that wind and solar after many years of subsidies and now only produces 5% can replace the 87%? For sure in the next 28 years it is not going to provide energy for jet aircraft propulsion, cement production, steel, ammonia fertilizer and feedstock for plastics. I repeat: There is no energy policy in the U.S.
A Rational Energy Policy
A rational energy policy would be to plan for the future power generation needs of our country and to plan for adequate fuels to be produced from within our borders by reducing Federal Regulations. Basically six goals:
Energy Independence: Coal, Oil, Gas and Nuclear Fuels
Adequate Electricity Generation Capacity with 80% Dispatchable
Minimum 15% Reserve generation during summer/winter Peak generation
Increased Production of coal, oil, gas and nuclear fuels to sustain our economy and high quality of life
Encourage new nuclear, Natural gas production increases and pipelines, clean coal with future CCS
Expand Oil & Natural Gas Production and Refining capacity to meet U.S. Demand
Congress has abdicated their responsibility and delegated too much authority to (out of control) Bureaucrats that are functioning to control Society without oversight. Example, EPA Clean Power Plan and now CSAPR to cause further pain and costs in operating coal plants
America depends on 87% conventional energy but the EPA and DOE are working to create regulations to tax or restrict its use.
The Bureaucrats have created rules and laws to restrict conventional energy production and use which will worsen the energy crisis
The EPA and DOE have top management Extremists that have little understanding or interest in doing what is best for our nation. We should watch what they do, not listen to what they claim. Also, do the math on energy requirements of our society for sustainable “American Dream” living
The EPA and Department of Energy are run by conventional fuel hating Ideologues
Congress will not act until the energy crisis becomes worse. Until then, the Ideoloques in the government will continue to harm our nation.
Dick Storm, August 19, 2022
References and information for further reading & reasearch
Island Pulse, Real Time Power by Fuel, Hawaii Electric. This is cited as an example of a state that is truly an energy island and dependent on self sufficiency. Attempted to be 100% green but because of intermittancy, uses large amounts of high cost Diesel fuel, thus, highest cost electricity in the U.S. : https://www.islandpulse.org
Source Watch Brags on NRDC being responsible for forcing shutting down of Seven major coal plants in Texas in 2007: https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Natural_Resources_Defense_Council#Support_for_coal_gasification
Helping our youth to understand the importance of energy and electricity to energize our good lives
Why Should We Invest Time with the Public School Students?
From a personal viewpoint, I have always considered it a high priority to do my best to support energy education of the public and especially our public school students. A great group to start with if we wish to improve the general public’s understanding of the importance of energy. Perhaps if we start with the youth, they will educate their parents on the facts; That conventional sources comprise about 90% of the total energy that makes our high quality of life possible. By conventional, I mean, Natural Gas, Nuclear, Coal and Hydroelectric.
All of us who have been employed in the supply chain of producing energy understand the rarity of energy savvy people we meet who are not or have not been closely involved with our industry. So, when an opportunity to present a short class on energy and electricity generation came up at our local Middle School, I accepted the invitation. Here are some of the slides I will use for this group of 8th Graders.
The general public’s knowledge of energy and it’s importance seems to be limited to gasoline prices. When in a social setting and I discuss the U.S. need for 100 Quadrillion Btu’s of energy and where it comes from, most people’s eyes glaze over and are not very interested. However, with the Russia-Ukraine war, it seems folks are more interested now than they were a few months ago. Perhaps timely to give a course on energy fundamentals.
Each American uses about 800,000 to 1 million Btu’s every day
How did I come up with 800,000 – 1,000,000 Btu’s per person, per day? Here is how: America uses right at 100 Quadrillion Btu’s annually. If 100 Quadrillion (15 zeros) is divided by the population of the U.S.A. of about 330 million people, the result is about 303 million Btu’s per person. This is the average energy use for each of us. Then, divide 303 million by 365 days per year and it is 830,000 Btu’s per day. The above illustration shows how we may use our portion of fuels to consume our share of the Nation’s energy. If we are traveling by car for an interstate trip, we can easily use more than a million Btu’s in a day. Likewise, ordering a large shipment of furniture or heavy goods from Amazon or other on-line Retailer will require energy to be used on our behalf to deliver our products to the door. You get the picture.
Another way to illustrate 300-330 million Btu’s is to show the equivalence in barrels of gasoline, Diesel Fuel, propane or coal. Also, nuclear. This is shown below.
So Where Did You Come up with 100 Quadrillion Btu’s?
The U.S. Department of Energy has been measuring, calculating and reporting total primary energy use for decades. I have been watching this and America’s energy use has held right at 100 Quadrillion Btu’s +/- 10%, for the last twenty years or so. Below is the Sankey diagram which shows 2019 total primary energy flows. The sources are on the left and uses are on the right. This is how the breakdown of uses was established: 37% electricity generation, 28.1% transportation, 26.4% Industrial, 11.4% Residential and 9.41% Commercial.
I stated above that the U.S. has used right at 100 Quadrillion Btu’s for decades. The chart below published by the EIA (Energy Information Administration) shows the total energy used 1950 to 2019. The differences in “Production and Consumption” are imports. As of December 2020, America produced as much energy as we consumed. Again, right at 100 quadrillion Btu’s.
Let’s Drill Down to See Where the Energy Is Used in SC to Generate Electricity
Currently and at least through 2030, over 50% of South Carolina’s electricity will come from nuclear power generation.
S.C. has four large nuclear power plants with a total of seven generating units. Here is a map of where they are located.
The second largest source of our electricity is natural gas fuel. This is burned very efficiently in power plants such as this. The newest natural gas generating plants can obtain thermal efficiencies over 60%.
Coal fuel was over 50% of Santee-Cooper’s electric generation about ten years ago. Since then, natural gas fuel became lower in cost and abundant and has replaced much of the coal power generation. However, today natural gas prices are increasing and it is likely that coal fuel will be more economical to generate our electricity not generated by nuclear and renewables.
The Santee-Cooper coal plants that provide electricity to our local electricity distributor, Palmetto Electric Co-Op are shown below.
Isn’t Most of Our Power Provided by Solar, Wind and Hydro-Electric?
No! That is a popular misconception. Even the Wall Street Journal has misled people into thinking that most of our electricity is generated by renewables (wind, solar and hydro). The data above show the true facts of the sources of our electricity and total energy.
Note that of our total energy in 2019, wind and solar together only provided about 3.8% of America’s total energy. The 96.2% was provided by conventional forms of energy such as nuclear, natural gas, coal and hydro-electric. The WSJ Headline is accurate in stating that 90% of the New Electricity Generation in 2020 came from Renewables. That is because they used “Nameplate Capacity” for the Renewables and the simple fact that the “Old coal, Nuclear, Coal and Hydroelectric” plants are very robust, reliable and have long lives when properly maintained.
The Santee-Cooper Pinnopolis Dam, Hydro-Electric plant is shown above. When I use the term “Old Hydroelectric plants”, this is where I was coming from. If you look at “Total Renewables Energy” on the Sankey diagram above, you will see that most of the renewable generation is from old hydroelectric plants. In 2019 that was about 2.5% of our total primary energy as compared to 1.04% solar.
These are the hydro plants operated by Santee-Cooper. Located about 100 miles north of Hilton Head near Moncks Corner, SC.
Much is written in the news about solar and many people are of the impression that solar is a major source of Bulk Electric generation. The fact is that yes, much money is being invested in solar but the total generation is very small when compared to nuclear, gas and coal. Here below is a much hyped solar farm on the east side of I-95 about 50 miles north of Hilton Head. It is about 15 acres and during a bright sunny day will produce about 3.5 MW.
By the way, if 3.5 MW seems like a lot of electric power consider that on a hot summer day Hilton Head Island uses about 180 MW during peak Demand.
Palmetto Electric Co-Op distributes electricity on Hilton Head Island. They obtain most of their Bulk Power wholesale from Santee-Cooper which is owned by the state of SC. Generation capacity of Santee-Cooper power plants is listed below. Note, most generation capacity is coal, nuclear and natural gas.
Electricity is Secondary Energy and uses about 37% of America’s total Primary Energy. The other 63% of Energy is Important to Fuel Our High Quality Lives!
The Federal government, at this point in time, is stating and making policies that would “Electrify Everything”. Especially transportation. Most large automobile manufacturers have stated that they plan to phase out the Internal Combustion Engine by 2035. That is only 13 years into the future.
Think about the chart above. Yes, 96% of our Primary Energy comes from conventional sources. (I consider nuclear, coal, gas, biomass and hydroelectric all conventional sources) The highest percentage of primary energy is from petroleum. America uses about 20 million barrels per day of oil. To illustrate what 20 million barrels per day looks like, take a look at the photo below. This is a picture of me standing in front of a portion of the above ground Aleyeska pipeline in Alaska. It is above ground because of passing through frozen tundra and the heated oil must be above ground for environmental and pipeline integrity concerns. This pipeline is capable of moving about 2 million barrels of oil per day. So, to imagine the quantity of oil that America uses, picture 10 of these pipelines side by side. Yes, 10 pipelines like this. At 42 gallons per barrel, that is a lot of oil.(2)
Most rimary energy is used in “Heat Engines” that convert heat energy to motive force. Another point to imagine, is if the about 275 million light trucks and cars registered in the U.S. were converted to EV’s…..This could create Demand for an enormous amount of electricity. However, in some cases the electricity needs to be “Dispatchable” when it is needed, such as in charging EV’s on a road trip. In other cases such as long range aircraft and ship propulsion, electricity is not an option with current technology. Fossil Fuels are important to fuel our lives.
Heat Energy from fuels is enormous. Just a reminder of the definition of a “Horsepower” and a BTU (British Thermal Unit).
A horsepower is equivalent to the work accomplished by lifting a weight of 550 pounds in one second or 33,000 Foot pounds per minute. One BTU converted at 100% thermal efficiency to work is equivalent to 778 Foot pounds. A gallon of gasoline contains between 115,000 and 125,000 Btu’s. So one gallon of gasoline is worth over 90 million foot pounds of work.
Perhaps a reminder of agricultural productivity is timely. At the turn of the 20th Century, about 40% of our population was required to work on the farms to feed our nation. Then, we changed from muscle power of animals to mechanized farming, using tractors. The work of a team of horses could be accomplished with a single gasoline powered tractor.
A reminder from U.S. history…..Our Economy became the largest in the world as America switched from muscle power of draft animals and humans to mechanization powered by fossil fuels.
Summary and Conclusions
Energy and Economic Prosperity are inter-related
America has used about 100 Quadrillion Btu’s annually for decades and to preserve our high quality of life, will continue to require 100 Quadrillion+ Btu’s each year into the future
Fossil fuels provide about 80% of our total primary energy
Conventional forms of energy, including Gas, Nuclear, Coal and old Hydroelectric plants, provide over 90% of our primary energy
The Mainstream News, Entertainment and Misguided Politicians are wrong to attack fossil fuels. Donn Dears book(4) “Net Zero Carbon, Climate Policies Destroying America” lays out facts and policies to support the title
When I am in the classroom, I will not discuss the politics of “Climate Change”, only the facts on energy and electricity. I hope all of my friends employed in energy industries do likewise to attempt to set the record straight on the importance of energy and electricity.
Yours very truly,
Dick Storm, March 9, 2022
References for further reading and research:
Dick Storm USCB-OLLI Courses, Energy and Electricity, History of Energy and Electricity and the Future of Energy and Electricity. The four parts of the “History of Energy and Electricity” are on my website: https://dickstormprobizblog.org
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
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.
The purpose of this post is to show the progress of creating America’s huge Grid, made up of Dispatchable Power from coal, nuclear, gas and oil fuels from 1955 through 2010. Also during this time, the EPA came to be and began regulating true pollutants from power generation facilities. America’s designers, engineers and manufacturers of electric generating equipment rose to meet the challenge and provided energy to expand the American economy while at the same time cleaned our air. Nuclear Power grew to be about 20% of our total electricity generation during this 55 years. These years were special for me, because they include my becoming interested in power generation in 1959 as a Freshman at Williamson and then joining the B&W Nuclear and Special Projects Group in the 1960’s when nuclear was believed to be the future of electricity generation.
The First Pressurized Water Reactor, Nuclear Steam System
It was 1954 and the Nautilus, the first Nuclear submarine ever built was launched. The pressurized water nuclear steam system was a prototype for future Navy as well as commercial applications.
“President Dwight D. Eisenhower was determined to solve “the fearful atomic dilemma” by finding some way by which “the miraculous inventiveness of man” would not be dedicated to his death, but consecrated to his life. In his “Atoms for Peace” speech before the United Nations General Assembly on December 8, 1953, President Eisenhower sought to solve this terrible problem by suggesting a means to transform the atom from a scourge into a benefit for mankind. Although not as well-known as his warning about the “military industrial complex,” voiced later in his farewell radio and television address to the American people, President Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace speech embodied his most important nuclear initiative as President”. (2)
The Research and Development into peaceful use of atomic energy continued on “Atoms for Peace”. The partnership of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and the brilliant minds of employees from the American companies; Westinghouse Electric, General-Electric, Babcock & Wilcox, Combustion Engineering, Allis-Chalmers and other fine U.S. companies brought enormous advancements. In just a few years there was great progress in atomic physics, nuclear safety, ASME Codes for Pressure Vessel Design, Welding, Non-Destructive testing of welded joints and material science. The future of nuclear power looked extremely bright.
So did efficient coal power generation. I love this advertisement (below) for B&W, then a Fortune 500 company (#134 in 1960) and builder of many of the U.S. Navy’s Boilers that helped win two world wars. B&W also built the pressure vessels for the reactors and steam generators used in the Nautilus and many of the commercial nuclear steam systems to follow. Including Duke Energy’s highly successful three Unit Oconee Station which the first unit began commercial operation in 1973.
Nuclear Steam Systems were a logical extension for B&W and Combustion Engineering Company to move into after many decades of building Fossil Steam Systems. I have referred to the importance of Heat-Engines often during my career. Perhaps that is from recollections of working for B&W in the 1960’s. Below is a copy of a B&W ad from 1954:
In 1954 and the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission Lewis Strauss in his extreme enthusiasm for commercial nuclear power generation, coined the phrase….”Too Cheap to Meter”…..That was in 1954 and of course there was a building boom of nuclear power plants from 1960 to 1990. Over 100 nuclear steam systems were put into operation between 1970 and 1990. Here are the 93 that are still operating:
Yes, Nuclear Power has been a very good invention for America. Although thousands of employees made nuclear steam systems possible, the primary credit for this gift to Humankind should go to one man, Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, Father of the U.S. Navy Nuclear Fleet and Father of Commercial Nuclear Steam Systems.(8)
The combination of new nuclear units plus ever more efficient and clean coal plants created electric growth with electricity costs amongst the lowest in the world.
This was good for world manufacturing competitiveness (especially good for energy intensive industries such as aluminum and steel manufacture) also good for reasonable household electric costs to power ever increasing labor saving household appliances.
Speaking of reasonable household electric costs and high quality of living. These ads for “Living Better Electrically” were common in the 1950’s to 70’s.
My state of South Carolina continues to enjoy reassonable cost, abundant and reliable power from Admiral Rickover’s invention. According to the EIA and NEI, over 55% of SC electricity is generated from nuclear power. I might add, these are “old nuclear plants” that have been well maintained, well run, proven and reliable. Several of these were started up in the 1970’s like Turkey Point and may have their licenses extended for 80 years. Amazingly robust and well built.
The chart below is from the NRC website. As mentioned above, many of the very reliable and I might add, Dispatchable power generating nuclear power plants are aging and before they are shut down, it would be wise to plan, design and begin construction on the next generation of nuclear plants. Renewables such as wind and solar are not Dispatchable and electric battery storage is not yet feasible. These issues will be discussed in a future post. Suffice it to say for the time period 1950-1990 America had four very good decades of power generation advancements which resulted in an extremely reliable Grid providing some of the lowest cost electricity in the world.
Energy, Economic Prosperity and Living with a High Human Development Index
The 1970’s and 1980’s saw clean coal and nuclear power together, provided about 70% of our electricity. America’s GDP pretty much followed the production and consumption of coal fuel. Coal and nuclear at the time were the most reasonable cost fuels to generate electricity.
The U.S.A. has used about 100 Quadrillion Btu’s annually for many years. Below is a copy of the EIA Total Energy Use by Fuels from 2008. This is getting ahead of 1990 but for reference, the Total Energy Use of America has held very close to 100 Quadrillion Btu’s per year for many years. The chart below shows consumption of 94.58 Quadrillion Btu’s in 2008. This reduction in energy demand was the result of the Financial crisis of 2008.
As we move forward keep this in mind. From 1950-1990 the fuel mix was changing. Thsese changes had to do with cost of fuel, pollution and availability. But for the last two decades America has used a total of about 100 Quadrillion Btu’s +/- 10 per year. This includes electricity, transportation, Industrial production, heating, and cooling. The chart reads from left to right with the fuel sources on the left and energy flows to the right.
The 1970’s Were Good Years of Progress…. But Not Perfect
The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) began in 1970 under the Nixon Administration. Amongst the first pollutants to be regulated, was sulphur and particulate emissions. The trend of the six major pollutants has been downward every since 1970.
The six major pollutants that were significantly reduced during this time period are: Particulates, Sulfur, Carbon Monoxide, Lead, Ground level Ozone & Oxides of Nitrogen.
The first steps the EPA took to regulate a path for cleaner air was to regulate particulates and sulfur. Some electric Utilities immediately (1970-71) switched from coal fuel firing in their boilers to oil fuel. This was when the fuel cost/million Btu’s of oil and coal were about the same, in 1972 that was about $0.50/million Btu. By switching to oil the switchover downtime was reduced and huge Capital cost of Electrostatic Precipitators avoided. I was working at Carolina Power and Light at that time and remember these times well.
The Neighboring Utility in Virginia, then (1973) VEPCO had switched much of it’s generation to oil fuel, so did Potomac Electric (PEPCO) and Philadelphia Electric and others to the north. They were dependent on the (at that time) reasonable cost, easier to control emissions oil fuel. Well, that was fine until the first Arab Oil Embargo in October 1973.
Arab Oil Embargo, 1973
I was a senior engineer working at Carolina Power and Light Compay’s Roxboro Generating Station. My job was a startup and test engineer for the coal fueled 720 MW, Unit #3 which began commercial operation during the summer. Many mechanical problems were needing to be sorted out and I had job security for the next several years.
The Arab Oil Embargo lasted about a year, 1973-74 and during this time, many Utilities purchased new coal generation capacity. Especially in the southern states where air-conditioning load in the summer and heat-pump load of the winter was growing rapidly. I remember year over year growth in the range of 10% increase in electric demand. Of course, manufacturing was strong back then too.
As time went on in the 1970’s more coal plants and more nuclear plants were started up. The future of clean, reliable Nuclear power looked great until……
Three Mile Island, 1979
The future of nuclear power had a serious setback in March 1979. Although no one was injured, this was pretty much the end of new nuclear steam system orders for U.S. Utilities. It took more than another decade to complete the 100 + nuclear steam systems that were on order. More strict Regulations by the NRC and more built in safety requirements ensured that nuclear power would not be “Too Cheap to Meter” in the U.S.A.
New Clean Coal Plants are Built
To meet the increasing Electricity Demand, and do so with Domestically sourced fuel, more large coal plants were built in the 1980’s. These however were nearly all equipped with Flue Gas Desulfurization and Particulate controls. Later in 1991 the EPA Clean Air Amendment was made into law and Oxides of Nitrogen were significantly reduced and more FGD equipment began being retrofitted on existing large coal plants that did not have FGD. Thus, the ever cleaner air as shown in the foregoing chart. Yes, the EPA was needed in 1970 and the Clean Air Ammendment of 1991 also has turned out to be beneficial.
How The Public Perception of Coal Becomes Tarnished
During the Arab Oil Embargo not only did we have gasoline shortages and gas lines. But the electric Utilities also suffered financially due to the rapid increase in oil costs and with the ramp up in oil costs, so did the price of competitive fuels such as gas and coal. During this time of financial stress, the Utilities drastically reduced Operation and Maintenance Budgets. What was cut first? Tree trimming around high voltage transmission line, painting and maintenance costs such as these. These are expected during volatile times in business and can be recovered from.
The Worst Budget Cut
The worst budget cut, in my view, was the cutting of public education of “Living Better Electrically” and “Better Things for Better Living”. Back in the 1970’s there were Utility representatives that invested time in Public Schools to teach the girls about electric appliances and how to use them. The boy students learned how electricity was generated from coal, oil, gas and hydro-electric sources. There was advertizing on the radio and TV. Remember “Reddy Kilowatt”? Reddy Kilowatt was the lightening bolt stick figure mascot for the investor owned Electric Utilities. Between Reddy Kilowatt and a small army of Home Economics teachers from the Electric Utilities, American Citizens learned the importance of electricity and how it was generated. I personally remember learning that as a teenager in the 1950’s, and I was just an average student.
I gave a presentation to the American Coal Council membership in 2008 on how, in my view, the public perception of coal changed. Here below is the illustration that I used to show the change from pro-active Utility education of the Public to the taking over of this effort by the Environmental Movement. Believe me, I support clean air and clean water as much as anyone. In fact, I worked much of my career exerting my best efforts to reduce particulates, reduce NOx and improve efficiency of power plants. However, the Environmental Extremists took over shaping the Public’s Perception of coal following the Arab Oil Embargo and filling the void of public education left by the exit (regarding public education) of the Electric Utilities. Not all, but most Utilities management were enthusiastic about exiting the Public Schools and Public Education just as many that ran bus services were quick to exit that business as soon as the Regulators would allow them to quit. The chart below illustrates the enormous funding of the leftist Green organizations after 1970. The green groups funding helped to indoctrinate or shape public views against coal and carbon. Now the Green Extremist organizations literally have far more money to spend on public indoctrination than the private sector manufacturers. But, that is a topic for another day.
All Fuels are Important
The Total Energy Flows of the year 2007 are shown on the Sankey Diagram below. This is TOTAL Energy which includes Electricity, Industrial, Transportation, Commercial and Residential uses of energy. The changes of the percentages of each fuel change with the economics of producing the fuels. Such as discussed above when the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973-74 caused oil prices to rise sharply in 1974 and many power generation plants were switched back to coal from oil. We should keep this in mind as the government pushes us toward Electric Vehicles in the future. In my view, we will need over 100 Quadrillion Btu’s annually to support our high quality of life. So, as electricity is substituted for gasoline or Diesel fuel, more electricity generation will be required which more than likely will come from conventional sources of gas, nuclear, coal & hydro-electric. The chart below is 2007. In part 3 I will include more recent Sankey Diagrams of Total Energy Flows.
This will conclude Part 2 of this series on the History of Energy and Electricity Generation in the U.S.A. The next section will cover 2005-2022.
Projections into the future are simply, projections. We can learn from our recent energy history of nuclear being thought to be, “Too Cheap to Meter” and the end of coal just a few years away. In the 1960’s the future of coal was proclaimed Dead….. However during this current cold weather in the U.S. Coal Power is depended on for a large percentage of electricity generation. Just check pjm.com
Likewise, the EIA projection published in 2009 showing an increase in coal going forward did not take into account the Shale Gas Revolution made possible by Directional Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing. The coal consumption dropped off primarily due to the reduction in cost of the newly abundant Domestic natural gas that became available about 2012. Low natural gas prices were helpful for those opponents of coal fuel.
Reasonable cost energy is required to fuel a thriving Economy. Note the drop in energy use after the 2008 Financial Crisis.
Industrial output is particularly linked to reasonable cost, abundant and reliable energy. Especially primary metals like steel and aluminum.
Net Zero Carbon is a disasterous Policy for the U.S. to follow unless a large number of new generation nuclear plants are deployed in the U.S. generation fleet.
Nuclear, Coal, Gas, Oil, Thermal Biomass and Hydro-Electric are the only Dispatchable sources of electricity generation by today’s technology
Reliable, Abundant, Reasonable cost and Dispatchable electric generation is required for a country to remain or to become competitive in the world with a manufacturing based economy. China has proved this over the last 20 years since joining the WTO
America has burned coal and natural gas more responsibly and cleaner than any other country that uses Fossil Fuels for Bulk Power production in Gigawatt quantities
The Net Zero Carbon Policy is a Disasterous path for our country to follow. We should learn from historical events of the past.
My friend a Tinkerer reminded me of the old phrase, “When Tinkering, it is important to save all of the pieces” This old saying should be remembered by the politicians that are “Tinkering with America’s Energy Policy” and allowing reliable and needed coal plants to be shut down and demolished. This has even occurred with reliable nuclear plants. We should be preserving the power generation infra-structure that powers America’s economy and our life styles.
Dick Storm, January 19, 2022
Author’s note on the background and why I write on this Blog:
I said at the beginning this was a special time for me. Well, it was because my life-time career in power generation began in 1962 after graduation from Williamson. I joined Babcock & Wilcox’s Nuclear and Special Products Division in 1965 and worked as an assistant to the Project Manager for Navy PWR’s and on the Oconee Nuclear Steam System. I did not like the rigorous administrative paperwork required by the AEC at the time and many engineers were transferring into the Nuclear Division from the Fossil Power Generation Division, leaving many vacancies in PGD. So, I arranged a transfer to Results Engineering to work for one of the best Mentors ever, Silas Morse. The “Too Cheap to Meter” phrase regarding nuclear power was well known within the walls of B&W and as a 22 year old newby, I was strongly advised that coal plants will be shut down in a decade because nuclear is so clean, has such an extreme energy density and it is highly productive. I went anyway, vowing to study and learn all I could about coal power so that I could remain employed for my future career. It worked.
My stint at B&W provided travel to large Paper Mills from New England to Missoula, Montana, to run acceptance tests on the largest (then the largest steam plants were about 500 MW) coal and gas plants at Baltimore Gas & Electric, Houston Light & Power, Illinois Power, Ohio Edison and more.
Always wanting to be a startup engineer, in 1969 I left B&W to join Riley Stoker as a senior startup engineer at Tampa Electric’s Unit #6 at Gannon Station. Then off to participate in the startup of Riley’s first and only coal-fueled supercritical units at Wateree Station for SCE&G near Columbia, SC. In between, helped with acceptance testing at Santee-Cooper’s Jeferies coal plant in Monck’s Corner. Then back to Florida to startup new oil fueled units at the City of Lakeland and Jacksonville.
My big opportunity to get involved with a major Utility came in 1972 and I was assigned to be the lead Startup Engineer for the 420 MW dual fueled Sutton Unit #3. Then in January 1973 I joined Carolina Power and Light Company as a Senior Engineer in charge of the startup of the 720 MW Roxboro Unit #3. Great learning experiences including the Arab Oil Embargo and the “Wheeling” of Coal Generated Power from CP&L to Utilities in the north that had switched fuels from coal to oil and then were short on fuel with the oil embargo.
In 1977 I left my position, then as Operations Superintendent at CP&L’s Roxboro Plant, to join a newly formed small contractor, Flame Refractories, in Oakboro, NC. Flame was small, only a dozen or so total employees when I joined. The company grew and I started Flame Technical Servives. Flame grew to be a major Utility Specialty contractor with hundreds of employees. My Technical Services Department eventually grew to an average size of about 20 engineers and technicians and became well known all across the U.S.A. and Internationally. Some of the most interesting International trips began in 1978 when ALCOA hired us to correct some boiler problems at the Suriname Aluminum Company in Suriname, South America. Then later to Guinee in Africa, Jamaica, Spain and Australia.
In 1992 after 15 very interesting and growing years at Flame, I started Storm Engineering later to be folded into Storm Technologies, Inc. We continued solving large electric Utility Boiler problems for the next twenty years that I was President of Storm Technologies. Storm Technologies earned a good reputation for solving difficult coal plant problems and we traveled all around the world to work at plants in South America, Asia, Oceana, Africa, India, the Philippines, Indonesia and of course, all across the U.S.A. and Canada. During these travels is when the relationship of Energy and Economic Prosperity became apparent to me. Where we traveled to help sort out problems in coal plants around the world, there was and remains, a higher quality of life. The UN calls it “Human Development Index”. I saw the affects of reasonable cost, reliable energy on the improving quality of life in Developing countries.
I retired from active involvement at Storm Technologies in 2012 when my son Danny became President.
Since then, I have done my best to give back by teaching the importance of power generation and wise use of resources for power generation. I was on the Williamson College of the Trades Board until 2019 where I championed the modernization and upgrades to the Energy Island used for power generation and instructional purposes at the College. Also, have volunteered to teach courses on Energy and Electricity Generation at schools and Colleges. The genisis of this post and others on my Blog are from slides used at the USCB-OLLI courses I have presented here on Hilton Head Island.
One of the biggest problems our country has is a misunderstanding of energy and electricity generation. The current path to Net Zero Carbon is a very hamful path for America because Renewables are not capable of replacing the large, reliable and proven coal, gas and nuclear plants that power our country. Therefore, I continue to do my best to Educate the public on the true facts regarding energy and electricity generation.
Thank you for taking time to read this. Your comments are welcomed.
A Ryan Zorn post inspired me to write on the need for us to become involved in public education. Ryan Zorn suggested “Make this the year to get in the classroom”.
I have been retired for a number of years but became interested through my Rotary Club on Hilton Head Island. Yes, Ryan is correct, all of us Energy Savvy engineers should become involved with helping to educate the public and especially K-12 students that may otherwise be indoctrinated. Check the link below in references for Ryan’s PPT.
A separate message I got in reviewing LinkedIn posts and especially focused on education was the need to pass on the soft skills that many successful people used to reach comfortable retirement. The big question, “Can we teach the Virtues that helped us get here, to K-12 students?” It occurred to me that about twenty years ago I compiled a list of 55 Virtues for my sons and later shared with the employees of Storm Technologies. I will list these below. Perhaps many would think they are corny and old fashioned? In my view looking back, they worked very well for me. I hope that the sharing of these with some young people will inspire them to use these to contribute to their success in their careers.
Back to energy education, I will post a presentation of my version of educating the public on energy and electricity generation for the future on a future post. For now, here are my 55 Virtues, which I tried to practice and live by:
Always do your best. Be the best in what you do!
Continuously study, stretch, and learn new skills.
Tithe to the church and other worthy charities. Be active in the charities you choose in order to know your gifts are well spent.
Be active in church. Seek and do leadership activities. Teach Sunday School, chair a committee. You would be surprised how this develops confidence and public speaking skills.
Practice balance in your life.
Control your nutrition.
Stay physically fit. Exercise a minimum of 30 minutes at least 4 times/week. Use the YMCA!
Do not judge others. Use the standard of being the best, fairest, and the example of Christ.
Remove all thoughts of “Envy” of others from your mind. Do not compare what you have to what others have. Remember only those that are less fortunate than we are and do what is possible to help them to have an improved situation.
Treat family with reverence, respect, and love. Think before saying hurtful words, especially be aware of respect for each other!
Take at least 2 days (16 hours) of continuing education each year.
Present at least one technical paper each 3 years.
Be active in professional associations.
Be active in the community, serve in important positions on the school board, a civic club, or a worthy charity.
Enjoy your work and make it enjoyable for all of your co-workers, peers, subordinates, and family. (If you do not enjoy your work, find work that you do enjoy). Anyone who works 8-12 hours per day should be enthusiastic and feel that he/she is making a positive contribution. Work should be exciting and fun, not dreaded. Think about the “golden rule” for people you supervise.
Practice and show good manners by example. Including; when in meetings only speak one person at a time, same for conference calls, do not initiate side bar conversations when in a meeting or teleconference, develop extraordinary good manners so that you are remembered for them as well as your other good and professional qualities.
Lead by example in neatness of your dress, your cleanliness of your car/truck, the order of your office and home.
Be organized – office, home, vehicle, calendar/schedule.
Be disciplined in balancing life’s priorities.
Help others. Be a good neighbor, friend, confidant, good Samaritan.
Pass these virtues on to your sons and daughters because we have “so much” and because we love our children – we do not want to ruin their chances to be all that they are capable of being.
Form alliances and friendships with schools, shops, businesses. Nurture and build these for mutual benefit.
Control your temper.
Manage your finances to minimize debt to others.
Make time to enjoy your wife/husband periodically. Do special trips and weekends on occasion.
Plan and execute family vacations at least once per year to spend at least 7 days at a fun location with your family.
Be honest and reliable, always. Keep your word! Let your words and promises be your bond.
A reputation is earned over many years. Practicing Integrity beyond reproach is one major factor in building a good reputation.
Do the “little extra” in all that you do. (Do what is expected, “And Then Some”)
When doing something special, consider doing a “little extra” to completely surprise the person toward whom the kindness is directed.
Be careful with controllable expenditures.
Be generous with others. Yet, practice “Tough Love” and provide a growth opportunity to up and coming people to earn their way to an improved situation.
Develop pride and high esteem in yourself and all that you do. Know that you have done the best! While having Pride is important, keep your Humility.
Always PREPARE! Whether for a Sunday School lesson, a speech, or presentation, know your subject well. Be prepared.
Be humble. Balance PRIDE and knowing you are the best; have prepared the best, with humility. Others will recognize quality, achievement of any type.
Read for recreation, read books in your free time, and when traveling on airplanes. Improve your vocabulary, continuing education, and understanding of history, the world, cultures, politics, philosophies, and current events. Be informed. Remember, a large part of fiction books are based on facts.
Develop outside interests and hobbies. Prepare for “retirement” by finding some enjoyable, outside interests. Remember, this is part of keeping the “balance!”
Become active in politics. Good, right-living people must be involved or else the “wrong” people will continue to rise to positions of influence and power. Know the issues, be an informed voter. Influence others through factual education.
Always have a clear list of tasks “to do” for subordinates. Use their time wisely by preparation, planning and careful delegation.
Keep a pocket calendar or electronic “to-do” list of goals for yourself. You will be surprised at the progress that can be achieved by a written “punch list” of tasks to be done. Review your list daily.
Respect your wife/husband’s wishes of to-do items. Place them at equal priority with yours.
Teach a course or seminar. The teacher always learns the most from the necessary preparation.
Welcome the opportunity to volunteer and provide service to others. Control this to be joyful when the opportunity arises. In other words, do it, but do not get yourself over-committed (Balance)!
Develop a habit of annual physical exams. “Work” toward a healthy height/weight as clearly defined by your family doctor and insurance company recommendations. We owe it to our loved ones to practice healthy lifestyles. Some of our family genes are good, some not so good. We know how to take advantage of the good genetics.
Know your body, know your body’s sensitivities. For example, if sugar makes you tired, be careful about too much sugar when driving long distances at night. Control alcoholic consumption. Be disciplined. Do not let momentary pleasures of any sort ruin your’s or someone else’s life.
Think safety at all times. Remember, most accidents happen at home. Last year (2001, this was originally written in 2002), “Engineering News Record” reported 852 on-the-job industrial fatalities and said this was a “terrible record.” Compare this with 42,000 people killed in automobile accidents. Be wary and aware of the safety of your family, your co-workers, and yourself – at all times.
Nurture and develop the continued support of your wife. The continued and unwavering support of your wife is absolutely essential for professional and business success. Earn their support by your respect and interest in you wife and family – again, BALANCE!
Stick to your principles.
Be professionally, politely, but positively aggressive. Develop business potential with more customers than can be handled and then do business with those that are the most compliant with your terms, desires, profitability and your core strengths.
Lead others. Especially those who work for you. Be an enthusiastic Mentor and teach young up and coming employees on how to improve their capabilities on the job and how to improve themselves in general. The best way to do this is by setting a good example.
Be an “Encourager”. Always encouraging others to do a little better, do a little more.
Always be Enthusiastic in the good works that you do. Enthusiasm is contagious and can inspire those around you.
Have a Long-Term Vision and Plan for the Future, both Professionally and personally.
In all that you do, work to make this a better world than you found it.
Let’s all get out and do our best to support education. Think of it this way, in about 5 years the average Middle School Student will become a voter.