China’s Economic Influence in the World and Some Thoughts on the need to Reshore American Manufacturing

If America Was the Arsenal of Democracy for the Allies in WWII, Then What to Think of The Rise of China?

I voted for and support President Trump for reelection in 2020 because, I see him as the first President in recent years to recognize and act on reversing the De-Industrialization of America. The graphic below shows the ranking of world manufacturers. This in itself is not troubling. However, as you read later in this document, the rise of China may not be done solely for Humanitarian purposes and to lift 1.5 billion chinese from poverty. The Chinese 100 year plan 1949-2049 serves the CCP First.

The Rise of China since 1950

The Chinese Flag and Statue in Front of The CCP School. From PBS News Hour Report 2019
From the You Tube Video Which Illustrates the Top 10 Car Producing Countries in the World. In 1950, China had Negligible Car Production

In 1950, China was not a significant manufacturer of automobiles when compared to other nations. I took screen shots of a you tube video presented by USCB which showed the changing world manufacturing of automobiles from 1950-2020. This video is on you tube.

Then, by the year 2000, China progressed to rank #8 manufacturing just short of 2 million vehicles per year and more than the UK.

China is admitted to the WTO (World Trade Organization) in 2001 and China welcomes western Industry to setup manufacturing facilities in China.  Yes, we gave much of our manufacturing expertise to China, but what they were not given, they took. The automobile production which is mostly for Chinese consumption, is an index of economic growth and increased demand for steel, aluminum, copper and other materials. 

The astounding production year 2016 is shown below and still increasing. China is now building more than 2X the number of motor vehicles than we do in America. 

By 2016, China has Progressed to Ranking the #1 Car Manufacturer in the World

Some may say, “so what?”  They have 1.5 Billion people in China and they need a lot of cars.  This is true. Yes, they do need a lot of cars, but let’s take a look at China’s Published Grand Strategy:

Well, the supply chain for building motor vehicles is much the same as for military equipment. 

Remember recent history of America in WWII when FDR referred to us as the “Arsenal of Democracy” Steel, aluminum, copper, electronics, ships, planes, tanks, guns, etc.

 Below is the World Steel Association report from 2018 steel production. (World Steel Association:

I have seen these numbers, at least the percentages, in other articles and magazines. Fact: China produces over 50% of the World’s steel and Aluminum. 

On aluminum, in 2016 I was preparing for a talk and copied the aluminum production from the Aluminum Institute web site. This talk text is included on this Blog in 2016. References for World Aluminum Production are on the web at: ( Today they have updated the site to show a Sankey Diagram of aluminum flows by country and including recycling. 2018 data, International Aluminum Institute diagram is copied immediately below: 

The Largest World Producer of Aluminum is China. This from the International Aluminum Institute

The photo credit on the aluminum ingots on the dock is from the Wall Street Journal which wrote quite a bit about how China was taking over the world aluminum production in 2016. It began about 2002 from the chart above (no longer on the IAI website)

This was of particular interest to me because I did a great deal of work for ALCOA, all around the world, every year from 1977 to about 2012. I saw first hand how their business was shrinking from many plants all over the world and in 2006, about 125,000 employees, now drastically downsized. Thanks to China dumping of metal ingots on the world market.

Usually, I write about energy and electric power generation. That was my career for 50+ years. The observation I made during those years of world travel was that economic prosperity and energy use usually parallel each other. That is, it takes a lot of energy to create manufacturing  jobs and to produce primary metals. China after entering the WTO then began building new power plants at an incredible pace. They built more coal fueled power generation capacity in twenty years than America did in the preceding 100 years. This is not an exaggeration. The coal consumption data as compiled by the EIA (U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration) is copied below. China uses about 5X America’s coal consumption for electric power generation.

China’s “Belt and Roads Initiative” is worldwide. It includes gaining control of ports and natural resources all over the world, including Africa and South America. I personally was involved with a meeting with a law firm in West Virginia in 2008 and China was attempting to purchase WVA metalurgical coal mine. As you will see below, they have secured a foothold in American Real-Estate in the Mariana Islands.

Coal Consumption for Electric Power Generation by China. From the US-Dept. of Energy, EIA

Not only does China consume a lot of coal for power generation, but they have exported their coal plants at extremely cheap prices to other countries of the world. This improves their manufacturing economy, employs millions of workers at home and expands their reach. It also works toward the economic harm of America (and all western countries) through unfair competition.

New Coal Power Generation Plant Being Built in Dubai, Hassyan Plant

Here is one example of a coal plant being built in Dubai with a joint venture of Chinese investments and UAE. Link:

China is exporting their power generation equipment with components manufactured in China, all over the world. America once did this through USAID. 

Below is from a lecture by a retired General who had personal experience in command of Pacific Defense installations.

So, what is the economic activity that China is engaged in, in the South China Sea and Western Pacific?

Bloomberg News of Casino built in Saipan by China:

Some would say, so, China built a Casino on American soil in Saipan. So what? Also in the news if you dig deeply, is reference to China building military bases on manmade islands in the South China Sea and Pacific.  Here are some satelite photos:

Energy and Economic Prosperity are inter-related. The World uses about 100 million barrels of oil per day. Much of this oil is transported to Asia through the Straits of Malacca.

So, if I get back to the matters of manufacturing, energy and economic prosperity, then a picture can be drawn of the rise of Chinese influence and control and the reduction of American influence and control. The economic piece of the aggression is ceding of the western Free World’s Manufacturing might to China. In doing so, it provides a revenue stream to fund their military buildup. One estimate of the projected military resources in 2025 is shown below. The red images of planes, missles, ships, submarines are China’s. The blue represent America’s. 

In my opinion, the return of manufacturing to the U.S.A. is important. Remaining energy independent is important. Keeping America’s military strong to continue Ronald Reagan’s legacy of “Peace through Strength is important. 

Additionally, protecting America’s Intellectual Property and securing the R&D of  American Universities and Industry is important.

It is not only steel and aluminum that China has exceeded all other world manufacturers. It is also Pharmaceuticals as we learned during the recent Pandemic. It is also Rare earth minerals and electronics as used in modern electronic devices. Manufacturing by U.S.A. companies also funds R&D which is then owned by the inventing company. If manufacturing is lost in America much of the funding for higher education as well as R&D will be compromised.

All of these and more require a President to place America’s priorities FIRST. These are some of the reasons why I voted for President Trump and a Straight Republican Ballot.

Let me close by asking before you vote, please do research on the inter-relationships of the importance of being energy independent, economic prosperity, fair trade and improving K-12 as well as Trade and College education within our borders.

Dick Storm

November 1, 2020

Additional References:

  1. Brian T. Kennedy, President of American Strategy Group, “Facing Up to the China Threat”,
  2. German News on 40 years of China’s Rise in Economic Power:
  3. PBS Hour Power and Prosperity Nov 2019:
  4. Bloomberg News of Casino built in Saipan by China:
  5. Dubai Coal Power Plant being built by China joint venture:
  6. Vehicle Manufacturing 1950-2018 You Tube:
  7. World Steel Association report from 2018 steel production. (World Steel Association:
  8. International Aluminum Institute:  web site.
  9. Dick Storm’s Blog, “The Importance of Energy to Economic Prosperity”

Part 6: A Thriving Economy and clean air too

In the preceding posts, energy and it’s relationship to economic prosperity are discussed. The clear example of the use of energy and electricity to power economies of entire countries are discussed using the example of the U.S.A.’s economic prosperity from the advent of coal powered central station power plants 1882-2012. During this 130 year period, coal power was America’s #1 fuel for power generation. America’s power since 2012 has been generated with growing use of natural gas from hydraulic fracturing and at the same time, application of advanced pollution controls have been applied to our coal plants. These advancements have drastically reduced pollutants from America’s coal power generation. Both coal plant backend environmental emission controls and use of more emissions friendly natural gas have contributed to the drastic reductions in pollution.

America is also energy independent, thanks to President Trump’s policies to reduce regulations plus America’s treasure of enormous reserves of coal, oil and gas. Fracking and reduced Regulations together have unleashed our reserves of oil and gas. A geologist who specializes in oil exploration once told me, “Wherever there is coal, there is oil and natural gas.” This is true. Take a look at the history of coal, oil and gas production in Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Dakota and Texas as four examples. These four states have lots of coal and lots of oil and gas too!

China on the other hand, has built more coal fueled electric power generation plants in the last twenty years than America did in the preceding 100 years. One difference is, American Industry has been responsible and reduced emissions while China has been focused on becoming the largest manufacturer in the world with less emphasis on pollution. Here is a graph of growing economic prosperity, increased population, increased travel and yet ever improving air quality. This is from the EPA website which shows the great progress in cleaning our air over the last 50 years since the EPA was began in 1970.

EPA Comparison of U.S.A. Growth of Economic, Miles Traveled, Population,Energy Production, CO2 and at the same time, Downward Trend of the six major Pollutants. From the EPA web page

Before the Pandemic in December 2019, America’s economy was thriving and manufacturing within our borders was increasing. Yes, President Trump’s policies of reducing regulations was working not only for increasing economic prosperity and jobs, but also resulting in continued clean air trends.

The EPA Chart of clean air trends clearly shows American Industry’s good and responsible progress in pollution reduction. That is not what you will see in the mainstream media. The illustration below attempts to compare the perception of “Dirty American Coal Plants” with reality.

I used the figure above in a recent presentation to our Hilton Head Rotary Club to discuss the “Importance of Reasonable Cost, Reliable Energy and Electricity to South Carolina”. In SC about one third of our electricity is used for the production of primary metals. Namely, steel and aluminum. The NUCOR Steel and Century Aluminum plants are amongst the state’s largest employers. The steel and aluminum is important for American manufacturing. Reasonable cost, clean energy is required for America’s steel and aluminum manufacturers to compete with China. In previous posts I have shown China’s rise in manufacturing since 2001 where they now produce over 50% of the entire world production of steel and aluminum. It is important that America keeps production of primary metals within our borders not only to provide jobs and a thriving economy but also for National Security. Yes, in America, we have proven that when we work together, we can have it all! Economic prosperity, Made in U.S.A. products and clean air and clean water too!

Another illustration I used in the recent Rotary presentation was a photo of aluminum ingots being exported from China and a graph of chinese aluminum production 2005-2016. This is an example of American manufacturers competing in the production of energy intensive primary metals.

During the years 1978-2012 I traveled the world working as a consultant to ALCOA. I saw as the expression goes, “Like a fly on the wall” the decline in ALCOA’s aluminum production as China dumped millions of tons of metal into world markets. Yes, they are over 50% of the world’s production capacity. Being competitive matters to every one of our 50 states, but here in SC (and every other U.S. State) it is particularly important to continue generating reasonable cost, reliable electric power. How does SC do that? It may surprise a lot of folks, but SC nuclear power generation is number 3 in America and provides over 55% of South Carolina’s electricity. In 2019 56.9% of SC’s electricity was generated by nuclear power. Of course, that helps both the clean air and reasonable cost generation factors.

South Carolina Electric Production by Fuel, 2019. From Energy Information Administration

Note that 93.5% of South Carolina’s electricity was produced by traditional, conventional power sources: Nuclear, Natural Gas and Coal. Yes, 93.5%. The reasonable cost power drives South Carolina’s manufacturing economy and provides thousands of jobs. A previous post discusses the “Green New Deal” and the potential harm to the American economy. Imagine the difficulty of attempting to compete with China in manufacturing if we changed to mostly solar and wind power produced at say $0.35/kWh? First of all, it cannot be done in the short term. Not until there are extreme advances in solar panel production and electric storage will reasonable cost electric generation from renewables be possible. Note in an earlier post this year on this Blog, I showed the example of Hawaii Electric which is attempting to become mostly renewable and have planned to shut down their most reliable and least cost source of electricity from their lone coal plant. So, what do they use in the interim? Oil, the most expensive fuel for power generation. No worries for manufacturing in Hawaii, their economy is driven by toursim, government facilities and agriculture. They can use the highest cost electricity in America with not too much pain. This would not bode well in a state with major manufacturing as SC has.

In conclusion, let me state, yes we can compete with the world and China in manufacturing as long as energy and electricity proces remain reasonable in cost. We have proven that not only can we generate relable 24/7 power generation but also do so with clean air and clean water.

Dick Storm, October 23, 2020

Part 5: Dick Storm’s Thoughts on the “Green New Deal”

Energy Part 5:

Thoughts on The New Green Deal and (so-called) Renewable Energy


Energy and economic prosperity go together. In part 4 I posted some facts on the growth of American industry over the last 140 years since electricity became commercialized. China has managed to expand their primary metals and manufacturing production to exceed that of America’s in about 20 years. How? By central planning and using enormous amounts of electricity mostly generated by coal power, just as America did over the 130 years 1882-2012. Reasonable cost electricity is important to power manufacturing and especially primary metals such as steel, aluminum and copper. A large aluminum smelter or Steel Mill will use as much power as a medium sized city. Electric power and economic power are inter-related. Where there is abundant and reasonable cost electricity, so is vibrant manufacturing and of course, jobs. Conversely, where electricity costs are high and electricity supplies unreliable, industry does not thrive. The preceding part 4 was intended to show how China replicated America’s success in expanding electrical production to power manufacturing and their economy. This part focuses on the high cost of renewable power and why a “Balanced Portfolio of All Fuels is Important” All sources of energy are important, including: Natural gas, Coal, Nuclear, Biomass, Hydropower, wind, geothermal and solar.

So, what is “The Green New Deal”?

Most if not all of the Democrats in Congress have been pushing for legislation to change America from being dependent on fossil fuels to changing to renewable fuels and eliminating carbon-based fuels in the near future. Here is an excerpt from the Democrat Party Platform, I deliberately selected red font for a reason:

“To reach net-zero emissions as rapidly as possible, Democrats commit to eliminating carbon pollution from power plants by 2035 through technology-neutral standards for clean energy and energy efficiency. We will dramatically expand solar and wind energy deployment through community-based and utility-scale systems, including in rural areas. Within five years, we will install 500 million solar panels, including eight million solar roofs and community solar energy systems, and 60,000 wind turbines, and turn American ingenuity into American jobs by leveraging federal policy to manufacture renewable energy solutions in America. Recognizing the urgent need to decarbonize the power sector, our technology-neutral approach is inclusive of all zero-carbon technologies, including hydroelectric power, geothermal, existing and advanced nuclear, and carbon capture and storage.”

The Democrat Platform excerpt copied above  ( and it has many more pages) and the Biden-Sanders agreement  basically lean toward eliminating Hydraulic Fracturing and conventional energy production by the U.S.A. America has become the world’s #1 energy producer during the past four years and we have surpassed Saudi Arabia and Russia in oil and gas production.  Does anyone remember the Solyndra debacle from the Obama years? An excellent review is provided by the CATO publication, “Solyndra: A Case Study in Green Energy, Cronyism and The Failure of Central Planning”

Recent legislation by the House of Representatives confirms the path toward the Green New Deal if Biden is elected President.  The new legislation is, H.R.4447 – Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act also known as the “Green House Gases Bill” Donn Dears has written a summary of this in his Blog4   I share Mr. Dears concern for this anti-American energy legislation.

Non-Dispatchable renewable power causes problems with electric grid reliability as we have seen with recent California Blackouts . In addition to forcing solar and wind power onto the California grid, the San Onofre nuclear plant was prematurely shut down and regulations for conventional power plants increased. Worse yet, the one remaining nuclear plant, Diablo Canyon is scheduled to be shut down in 2025. So like Hawaii, California also has some foolish energy policies that are causing increased costs and reduced reliability.  These two states are early indicators of what the “Green New Deal” could mean for the entire U.S.A. if Biden and Harris are elected and Democrats also control Congress.

Then there is the skepticism that solar can make a good difference with slowing down climate change. There are studies by some well respected organizations such as Carnegie University and Stanford 5 that solar panels will require huge amounts of Real Estate and can increase the surrounding ambient air temperature just from the solar collectors themselves. Just how much Real Estate you may ask? According to the 2015 study by Carnegie and Stanford, here is the quote in blue font from the Climate Centralarticle:

“We see that ‘big solar’ is competing for space with natural areas,” she said. “We were surprised to find that solar energy development is a potential driver of the loss of California’s natural ecosystems and reductions in the integrity of our state and national park system.”

Finding ways to resolve conflicts between renewable energy development and ecosystem protection may be critical if the U.S. is to rely on more solar power to displace fossil energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Assuming that 500 gigawatts of solar power may be needed to meet a future climate goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, Hernandez’s team found that a region of California roughly equal to the land area of South Carolina may be needed to accommodate all the new solar power plant development.

There are caveats to that, however: Though a 2050 greenhouse gas reduction goal has been adopted in California, the Obama administration’s current goal for the U.S. is to cut emissions by up to 28 percent below 2005 levels within 10 years. The study also does not account for increasing solar panel efficiency over time, something that is likely to reduce the amount of land needed to generate a megawatt of solar electricity.”

Yes, you read that right, an area the size of the state of South Carolina. Two points, one, I don’t think we will actually do this and two, the solar panels only provide electricity during periods of sunshine.  

So, now lets move on to the real world experiment in Hawaii, which by the way, has the highest electricity costs of all 50 states. 

My post on this blog in June 2020, showed the example of Hawaii which has pretty much accepted the “Green New Deal” and they are shutting down their most reliable and most reasonable production cost coal power plant at Barber’s Point 3 .  Ironically, as Hawaii has regulated to eliminate fossil fuels, their power costs are the highest in the nation and most of the electric power generated comes from oil fuel. Why? Because Hawaii is an island and is not connected to the mainland electric grid. Thus, for reliability the power at night and when the sun is not shining, requires proven conventional forms of energy such as natural gas, coal or nuclear power. Because Hawaii does not have natural gas or nuclear and they are shutting down their one remaining coal plant, the choice for keeping the lights and air conditioners humming depends on oil fueled power plants. The most expensive of all the choices for fuel.

If you wish to check real time power generation for the island of Oahu here is the link: In my opinion, because of Hawaii being an energy island and not connected to the grid, it is an excellent living laboratory to show what the “Green New Deal” could mean for America. They are graced with ample wind and sunshine, but depend on fossil fuels for much of their reliable power. Thus, the highest cost electricity7 in America.

For the rest of America, (not including Hawaii and California) a balanced portfolio of generation has helped keep energy costs reasonable and helped fuel our economy. America’s economy was doing very well until the Pandemic.

In the previous Part 4, the rise of China during the last twenty years is highlighted. China, by utilizing fossil fuels has greatly surpassed America’s use of coal.  The high cost of electricity in Hawaii is discussed above. This may not be a problem for Hawaii because the power is used by government facilities, by hotels, restaurants, commercial and residential customers. But, the high cost electricity definitely rules out heavy manufacturing and primary metals production. 

As a Patriotic American, I would like to see us mine, manufacture and produce most of the products needed for our lifestyles from within our borders. Including aluminum, copper and steel production. Doing so and remaining competitive in the world requires low cost electricity. I have mentioned this before, it takes about 5kWh of electricity to smelt one pound of aluminum metal. If the aluminum is selling for about $0.80/pound and if electricity was to cost at the wholesale rate, about $0.10/kWh then over 62% of the production cost of aluminum would be in electric power. Of course, this does not include the electricity and energy costs for mining the Bauxite, shipping, and for forging, rolling and forming aluminum sheet or bars. Reasonable Electricity costs are necessary to create competitive manufacturing costs. 

National Security has to be considered too. International tensions and Wars have been fought over control of energy resources. Think back to before WWl when Winston Churchill converted the British Navy from coal to oil fuel. Then following WWll the Father of the American Nuclear Navy, Hyman Rickover saw the need for a better fuel for the US Navy. Now, America’s aircraft carriers and submarines are fueled by nuclear and can stay operational without refueling for decades. The American and world fleet of nuclear power plants owe their existence to Admiral Rickover and with some political help from President Eisenhower. So, for National Defense some major ships and submarines are powered by nuclear. However, helicopters, F-22’s, F-35’s, FA-18’s and Army tanks are fueled by Jet Fuel or Diesel. Keeping the abundant fuel supplies within our borders and secure is a part of our promoting Peace from a position of strength. Being against Fracking, against exploring and Drilling is a path that has a very distinct downside. In America we have found a balance of protecting the environment while still producing coal, oil and natural gas. Keeping the balance is important. Kindly scroll up to the EIA chart of energy used in the year 2019. Note that 89% of our energy is from conventional sources. Let’s not elect leaders that will cause harm and unnecessary risk to our country.

The foregoing are some of the reasons why I believe the “Green New Deal” is bad for America.

Another well researched document on why the Green New Deal will not work is authored by Mark P. Mills of the Manhatten Institute 8. Check his article for more details, link below.

Dick Storm October 10, 2020

  1. Democrat Party Platform:
  2. Wall Street Journal Opinion, July 30, 2020 on the Biden-Sanders Manifesto:
  3. “Hawaii, A Glimpse into the Future of the Green New Deal”:
  4. Donn Dears Blog on the Greenhouse-Gas Bill:
  5. Climate Central, Carnegie and Stanford study of impact on surrounding ambient temperature from solar panels:
  6. Forbes article on California Blackouts caused by Climate and anti-nuclear Policies:
  7. Energy Information Administration Electricity costs:
  8. Manhatten Institute, Mark P. Mills, “Magical Thinking” :
  9. EIA (Energy Information Administration) Monthly Energy Review, April 2020
  10. CATO 2015 publication, by David Boaz, “Solyndra: A Case Study in Green Energy, Cronyism and the Failure of Central Planning”

Part 4, The Importance of Energy to Economic Prosperity

INTRODUCTION, The Rise of the American Economy

Economic prosperity and energy use have gone hand in hand for most of history. This blog is about the importance of energy today so let’s just go back about 140 years or so.  The first battery in the world was invented by Antonio Volta at the beginning of 19th century. In 1831, Michael Faraday devised a machine that generated electricity from rotary motion, but it took almost 50 years for the technology to reach a commercially viable stage. In 1878, Thomas Edison (U.S.A) developed the first stable and domestic light bulb which led to the first commercial power plant in 1882. Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla all had parts in developing and commercializing the generation of electricity in America. Edison’s Pearl Street Station, is in my understanding, the first central station power plant in the world. It was started up about 1881. It was Direct Current. Then in 1897 George Westinghouse and Nikolai Tesla completed the first major Alternating Current Power Station at Niagara Falls. Here are excerpts of a speech by Nikola Tesla:

Nikola Tesla’s Speech at Niagara Falls Opening Ceremony

“We have many a monument of past ages; we have the palaces and pyramids, the temples of the Greek and the cathedrals of Christendom.  In them is exemplified the power of men, the greatness of nations, the love of art and religious devotion.  But the monument at Niagara has something of its own, more in accord with our present thoughts and tendencies.  It is a monument worthy of our scientific age, a true monument of enlightenment and of peace.  It signifies the subjugation of natural forces to the service of man, the discontinuance of barbarous methods, the relieving of millions from want and suffering”
 – Nikola Tesla’s speech at the opening ceremony of the hydroelectric power station, January 12, 1897.

The Industrial Revolution had already began but now in the 20th Century the Developed World had electricity to drive economic progress forward. Tesla, Westinghouse and Edison had started an incredible Century of Industrial growth made possible by harnessing energy.

When I worked for Carolina Power and Light the CEO at the time, was Sharon Harris, (he, Bill Lee of Duke Power and other Electric Utility Executives) used to give speeches and proudly show a chart of electricity and energy use correlated with economic growth. In previous chapters I have discussed the importance of heat engines. Most electricity in the world is generated from thermal power plants. Large hydro-electric plants like Niagara Falls, Grand Coulee Dam or the Three Gorges Dam in China are huge. However, there are limited sites for hydro-electric power on the planet and most of the electricity is generated from thermal power stations. Vaclav Smil has written a book on the history of “Energy and Civilization”. One of the graphs included is the one below which shows the primary energy used from the year 1800 to 2019. Quality of life and as the investor owned electric utilities coined the phrase in the 1950’s “Living Better Electrically” was indeed true. Industrial output as well as air conditioning, heating and cooking became much improved after electricity became readily available.

Graph from Our World in Data, BP and Vaclav Smil. Primary Energy Use of the World 1800-2019

In America, our manufacturing output dominated the world in with America’s immense productive capacity. Especially during and following WWll when America became the “Arsenal of Democracy” and ramped up steel, aluminum and war materiel production to provide the U.S. Military as well as our Allies with ships, planes and arms. After the war, America turned to manufacturing for building infra-structure, cars, trucks, airplanes and home appliances. Living Better Electrically became a reality.

The manufacturing increases in the U.S.A. 1940-1960 were the envy of the world. These were driven by energy and in particular, coal energy. Here below is a graph from the EIA which I used in a presentation to an ASME meeting in 2015 to discuss the “Importance of Coal” The parallel growth of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and coal usage were very proportional.

America’s Major Fuels

Coal was the dominant fuel starting about the mid 19th Century until the last decade. Nuclear became important starting about 1960. Then natural gas became competitive and today is the dominant fuel for America’s electricity generation.

2009 data from the Energy Information Administration, correlating coal consumption and GDP

Admiral Hyman Rickover invented nuclear propulsion systems for the U.S. Navy at the end of WWll. Then about 1957 through President Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” Initiative, Admiral Rickover was asked to work with the private sector to develop peaceful nuclear power plants. The first of these was Shippingport, near Pittsburgh, PA. Between 1960 and about 1980 over 100 nuclear power stations were built and commissioned in America. After the accident (No one was injured or killed) at Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, no more nuclear units were purchased until about thirty years later with the Southern Company Vogel nuclear plant expansion. (Still under construction, expected to startup in 2022). The nuclear plants are important too. Although today there are just under 100 operating nuclear plants, nuclear energy provides about 20% of America’s electricity. Before the Shale Gas Revolution, nuclear plants provided the lowest cost electric power generation.

A Few Words on Solar and Wind Power

My purpose in starting this Blog is to provide information related to energy and economic prosperity with a focus on Heat-Engines that provide most of our (and all of the Developed World’s power) motive force for driving transportation, industrial production and electricity.

Excessive renewable power has been forced onto the Grid because of Laws and Regulations. My friend Donn Dears has an excellent Blog “Power for the U.S.A.” where he addresses regulations and more advanced discussions of why renewable power has caused so many problems. In fact, his book “The Looming Energy Crisis, Are Blackouts Inevitable” covers much on this topic. Suffice it to say, wind and solar power is being forced onto the Grid by Rigged Auctions. If you wish further information on this, I recommend visiting Donn Dears Blog and buying his book mentioned above. Here is a link to Mr. Dear’s Blog:

In 2019 the fuels used to generate America’s electricity were:

17.5% Renewables of which about 40% was from old hydroelectric generators

The great abundance of our electricity generation comes from Heat-Engines, to be precise about 82%. Now let’s review the shale gas revolution and the part it played in keeping electricity generation costs reasonable to power the American economy.

THE SHALE GAS REVOLUTION, Thanks to Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking)

It was about 2009-2012 that natural gas became much more abundant in the U.S.A. due to the disruptive technology of Hydraulic Fracturing combined with Directional Drilling. As America progressed into becoming the world’s largest natural gas producer, natural gas power plants started replacing coal power ( and sadly, some nuclear units) generation.

The economics of selecting the fuel to use is based on the production cost of electricity. The cost to produce electricity includes a number of components: Amongst these cost factors are, the cost of the fuel, Capital cost to build the plant, operational labor costs, maintenance costs and environmental reagents and chemicals.

Natural gas plants with a high efficiency are hard to beat for producing the lowest cost electricity as long as gas prices are below $3.00/million Btu’s and providing the gas is abundant and available with operating pipelines. In western PA, gas is an easy solution. In northern Alaska or Hawaii, there are few, if any gas lines. Therefore the fuel choices and equipment choices to produce the lowest cost electricity can vary drastically by states and even within each state.

The correlation of electricity consumption and GDP is very much influenced by industrial production. Producing primary metals of aluminum, copper and steel for example use enormous amounts of electricity. A so called Steel “Mini Mill” will use about 175,000 kW of electricity. An aluminum smelter, depending on the size, about 400,000 kW. It takes about 5 kWh of electricity to produce one pound of aluminum ingot from aluminum oxide. So as more industrial output is built, so does the electricity demand increase. Conversely, as America became de-Industrialized in the late 1990’s after NAFTA and later when China entered the World Trade Organization, then much electricity capacity that was used for primary metals production and manufacturing became available for commercial and residential use. This shift from industrial consumption to residential and commercial consumption helped keep America’s electricity prices reasonable.

Energy Fuels the Rise of China’s Manufacturing and Economic Strength 2001-2020

The reader will likely be well informed on the Industrial Revolution and growth of American manufacturing during the 20th Century. The growth of China’s Manufacturing and Economy between the year 2001 and 2020 is startling. Unfortunately, the growth of China’s manufacturing came at the expense and loss or transfer of much of America’s heavy industry. Especially energy intensive manufacturing of steel and aluminum. China currently produces about 50% or more, of the world’s steel and aluminum. So, let’s explore the growth of China’s aluminum industry and how the energy production paralled that rise.

China’s coal consumption 1980-2018. China uses as much coal as all of the rest of the world each year

Another chart below shows how China’s Electric Production 1980 through 2019:

China built hundreds of large coal plants and also completed the Three Gorges Dam which is the largest Hydro-Electric plant in the world. Much of this electricity production was utilized for primary metals production and manufacturing. The figure below shows the comparison of China’s manufacturing output compared to America’s.

The aluminum ingots on a dock in China ready for export to the world. Production of all primary metals is energy intensive. However, aluminum requires enormous amounts of electricity to produce ingot metal from aluminum oxide. If you correlate the coal electricity prodution increases with aluminum production one can see where a lot of the electricity was utilized.

In July 2016, I prepared a presentation to “The Delaware County Bar Association”. This is in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA. My presentation was to show the linkage of energy, electricity, jobs and Real-Estate and how energy impacted the Pennsylvania economy in 2016. Having worked with ALCOA ( a PA based company) as a consultant/contractor from 1977-2012, I had a “Fly on the Wall” viewpoint of how China was over-producing and dumping aluminum metal ingots on the world markets. The full text of my presentation is included in this Blog if the reader is interested. See “Energy and Economic Prosperity, July 15, 2016”. It is one of the first entries to this WordPress site.

Perhaps a stretch on the correlation to PA Real-Estate transactions , but World Competitiveness of primary metals and energy costs are a little more direct. The next graph is Chinese aluminum production during the period that they were accepted into the WTO (World Trade Organization). It is pretty drastic and from my personal experiences, had been working as a consultant/contractor for ALCOA Worldwide Alumina. My first assignemnt with ALCOA was in 1977 at the Mobile, AL Refinery. Now shut down. I worked for ALCOA almost every year since then up to about 2012. The plant shutdowns in the U.S.A. were sickening to observe. ALCOA went from a workforce of about 125,000 in about 2003 to about half that in a decade. Meanwhile, China’s aluminum production ramped up sharply as China exceeded all of the rest of the world’s production capacity. The metal was agressively traded on the Free Markets of the London Metal Exchange and eventually achieving more than 50% of the worlds production. The story for steel production is similar.

China’s Aluminum Production is shown in green and is far above all of the other major world producers of the metal. This graph was copied from the International Aluminum Institute in 2016 when I was preparing for the June presentation that year.
A comparison of Aluminum Production in China compared to the rest of the world. up to 2011. Chart from the Wall Street Journal.
Note the Chinese steep increase in manufactured goods starting about 2004. China was accepted into the WTO 2001
Trucks shipping made in China products to distribution centers in the U.S.A. Chinese manufacturing and exports to America exploded after China entered the WTO in 2001
As of 2018, China became the largest Manufacturing Country in the world.


It was my intention for this section to illustrate how Energy and Economic Prosperity are inextricably linked. The two main comparisons in the foregoing were the rise of the U.S.A. and China. The U.S.A. rise in world status began about 1890, the approximate time that electricity was commercialized, until present. China had the advantage of copying the electric producing equipment and electrification model used by America. When China’s rise began it was as a result of agressive manufacturing, powered mostly from coal fueled thermal power generation plants. The proceeds of exported manufactured products then fueled their economy. This incredible rise took only about twenty years. America’s rise had taken about 100 years. China had the advantage of using American technology and expertise’ with very little Regulations on air and water quality to build their enormous capacity in power generation. This accellerated following the admission of China to the WTO. Following 2001, China rapidly expanded their electricity production capacity. Unfortunately for the U.S.A., the rise of China manufacturing was largely at the expense of American manufacturing capacity and jobs.

My point in this section is to simply show the relationship of energy and economic prosperity. I hope you find it interesting.

Dick Storm, September 21, 2020


The U.S. Department of Energy, through the EIA (Energy Information Administration) keeps up with the energy used by America. The measurement used is the BTU or British Thermal Unit. One BTU is the amount of heat required to raise one pound of water (about a pint) one degree Fahrenheit. Thus heating a pound of water from 32 degrees F. to 212 degrees F. requires 180 BTU’s. So, why is it important to know how many Btu’s are utilized? The reason is that 90% of the energy used in America is used by Heat-Engines to provide the motive force for vehicles, airplanes, drive electric generators and power industry. America in 2019 used about 100.2 Quadrillion Btu’s. Here is how these units of heat energy were utilized:

Most folks don’t think about Heat-Engines and their importance to provide our everyday high quality of lives. The facts are that Fossil Fuels, Nuclear and Thermal Power from Biomass together consume about 90% of our total energy. Did you ever consider that a Boeing 747 at cruise will consume about a gallon of jet fuel a second and burn about ten tons of jet fuel/hour of flight time. Everyday when you are driving you enjoy the convenience of your personal vehicle and see many large trucks delivering needed goods to local stores or shipping interstate. Electric vehicles are becomeing more common on the highway, but they too are using energy that originated (80+%) as either coal, natural gas or nuclear energy. An electric vehicle such as a Tesla uses stored electricity to power the vehicle. The electricity to charge the batteries (usually) comes from the American electric grid, most of which (about 80%) is provided by conventional energy of natural gas, nuclear and coal.

The intent of this chapter is to describe Heat-Engines. So lets first look at the example of a steam turbine commonly used in thermal power generation plants.

The simplified process of converting chemical energy of fuel to heat, to steam and then converting the heat energy to turn a magnet in a coil of wire to produce electricity

Each Btu is worth 778 foot pounds of mechanical Energy if converted from heat to work at 100% efficiency.

In essence, this is the process that takes place in all steam powered thermal power plants. Whether wood, coal, Biomass, natural gas or nuclear fueled. The heat is used to generate steam and then the steam is passed through a steam turbine to produce electricity. The figure below shows examples of heat engines that we depend on every day. Each of these converts heat energy from fossil fuels into motive force for either transportation or the generation of electricity.

Each of the examples above are heat engines. The auto and aircraft engines are internal combustion engines. The car uses a gasoline engine. The jet airliner uses a jet engine. The steam turbine (is really an external combustion engine) in the lower center has the top half of the shell removed to expose the turbine blading and rotor. The large reciprocating Diesel engine driven generator in the lower right is a drive engine for a ship and uses the Diesel cycle. Another version of a reciprocating internal combustion engine is the natural gas fueled, spark ignited gas engine. A natural gas reciprocating engine will look very similar to a Diesel or gasoline reciprocating engine. The steam turbine uses steam generated in a boiler, thus the combustion is external to the steam turbine and it would be considered an “External Combustion Engine”.

Modern Coal plants use the Rankine steam cycle to generate electricity.

The process of converting coal energy to electricity is shown below. In this example about 0.8 pound of coal is used to generate one kilowatt of electricity. One kilowatt hour of electricity is about the same as using ten 100 watt light bulbs or one toaster for an hour.

A simplified steam power plant fueled by coal

The illustration is greatly simplified. In order to achieve high efficiency a clean coal fueled power plant has lots of complicated equipment and the steam turbine is multiple stages of highly precise manufacture. A typical electric utility scale steam turbine is shown below. This is the prime mover to spin the rotor (magnet) of the generator.

The illustration above is a large electric utility scale steam turbine. A typical 600 MW steam turbine will utilize about 4.2 million pounds of steam flowing through it per hour at 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The flow of 4.2 million pounds of steam per hour is equivalent to about 8,403 gallons per minute of water flow entering the steam generator. Therefore, all of the components of the steam generator, fuel handling and emissions control devices are huge in size.

A schematic of a modern coal plant which utilizes the Rankine steam cycle is shown below. This shows the water, steam, cooling water flows through the boiler, steam turbine-generator and condenser. The illustration does not include the enormous amount of equipment for fuel preparation and emissions control. Solid fuels require much more equipment to convert the heat to electricity than liquid or gaseous fuels.

Here below is a modern four unit, 2,400 MW coal power plant. In this example, the four boilers are the tallest structures and are about as tall as twenty story building. The stacks are about 300 ft tall. The plume of gases coming our of the stacks is water vapor. This is steam released as the exhaust flue gases are cleaned from sulfur using limestone slurry of water and powdered lime. Known in the industry as Flue Gas Desulfurization. So the white plumes are simply water vapor from the cleaned flue gases. Also within the plumes are the invisible gases of nitrogen, carbon dioxide and oxygen.

A modern coal power plant with four units and including FGD (Flue Gas Desulfurization) and SCR (Selective Catalytic Reactor) to remove oxides of nitrogen emissions

A 2,400 MW power plant when operating at full capacity (depending on the heating value of the coal fuel) will burn about 2,000,000 pounds per hour of coal. Supplied by 100 ton rail cars this is about 10 rail cars per hour of fuel. The raw coal supplied from the mines is pulverized to a fine powder slightly more coarse than face powder and is conveyed to the furnaces using fans to mix the powdered fuel with air. The coal is burned in suspension in the furnaces much like a huge gas flame. A schematic of a typical Utility scale Steam Generator (Boiler) is shown below.

A Typical 600 MW Utility Scale Steam Generator. The furnace is approximately 40 ft. deep by 80 ft wide and about 150 feet tall. A Unit such as this will burn about 133 pounds of coal per second and the products of combustion will be completely burned out and converted to hot gases in about one second in the furnace. The coal particles are an average size of about 60 microns and burn as a gas. The grey device on the lower left of the illustration above represents a coal pulverizer. A boiler this size will usually have five or six large coal pulverizers to supply the fuel to the furnace.

This description is intended for High School students and to provide a brief overview of the various heat-engines that we depend on each day. Suffice it to say, a large coal power plant is a very complicated and very large complex of equipment. In essence a huge “Heat-Engine” that uses solid fuel, coal. The coal is burned in the furnace above reaching peak temperatures of about 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. As the products of combustion pass through the boiler the water entering is heated to steam at up to 1,150 degrees F. and the flue gases (Products of combustion) are cooled to about 300 degrees F. The flue gases are then treated with emissions equipment to remove the oxides of nitrogen, the sulfur and the solid ash particulates. The solid ash particles are referred to as being Flyash and today much of the flyash is recycled to use in high strength concrete. Much of the FGD scrubber slurry waste (calcium sulfate) is recycled into sheetrock for home building.

A modern, clean coal plant such as the above example may require a staff of about 160 full time employees. One of the reasons coal plants have difficulty competing with natural gas plants is the large number of personnel and the costs of fuel preparation, maintenance and cost of chemical reagents to remove the sulfur and oxides of nitrogen from the exhaust gases. A Gas Turbine Combined cycle plant of four units and also producing 620 MW will require a staff of about 25 employees. A four unit 2,400 MW of power will require a much smaller staff than a similar sized coal plant, about 40 full time employees.

The choice of the fuel and prime mover depends on the geography and availability of coal, natural gas or nuclear fuel. Alaska for example is most suitable for coal because there is not a network of gas pipelines. Also, the demand for power is less than would be justified to construct a large nuclear plant. Coal plants are also common and competitive in Developing Nations such as African and Asian countries.

Background on How Natural Gas Plants Using Aeroderivative Gas Turbine Drives Have Replaced Much of America’s Coal Electric Power Generation

Up till about the year 2010 about 50% of America’s electricity was generated from coal and about 20% from nuclear. Then came Hydraulic Fracturing and oil and gas production in the U.S.A. from locations that were not anticipated before, such as North Dakota and Pennsylvania. The U.S.A. after ten years or so of successful and highly productive Hydraulic Fracturing and directional drilling, the U.S.A. has become the world’s #1 oil and gas producing nation. What does this mean? It means economic prosperity for the U.S.A. but also it has been a disruptive economic force in electric power generation. Because about 75% of the production cost of electricity from a coal plant is fuel, the new low cost natural gas has made natural gas a less expensive fuel option for power generation. In addition, the Gas Turbine Combined Cycle Power Plants have become the most efficient “Heat-Engines” ever developed. A GTCC Power Plant has far less components than a similar sized coal plant, thus a much smaller staff and overall has lower operations & maintenance production cost. (GTCC=Gas Turbine Combined Cycle) Because of the small staff the main production cost for electricity from a GTCC plant is fuel. The natural gas fuel is about 90% of the production cost of electricity from a GTCC plant.

Further, not only lower fuel costs than coal, the GTCC plants are now approaching 65% Thermal Efficiency. More on thatin a later chapter on economics of power generation.

How Did Jet Airplane Engines Fit Into Electric Power Generation?

Jet aircraft engines have been used for air travel and military uses since the 1950’s. The jet engine is another form of internal combustion engine. For jet airplanes, the engine creates hot air and gases that are forced out the rear of the engine thus causing thrust, a force to propel the airplane forward. For planes designed to fly less than about 450 mph, such as Regional Air Transportation, a Turbo-Prop is more efficient than jet thrust alone. A derivation of the jet engine is to use the hot air and combustion products to force over a gas turbine rotor and turn a shaft which in turn drives a propellor. This is called a “Turbojet”. Many Regional commuter airliners use propellors driven by a turbojet engine. A turbo-prop engine is shown below.

Turbo-Prop Engine fueled by jet fuel. The jet engine provides hot gases to spin the turbine which creates shaft power to drive the propellor.

The jet engines and turbo prop engines have advanced in power and efficiency drastically since first use during WWll. The advancements have been applied to Gas Turbines used for power generation in stationary power plants. This gas turbine engines which are derived from the best aviation jet engines to power generation have been referred to as “Aeroderivative”. That is because the R&D that was invested in developing the most powerful and highly efficient jet engines has been adapted to electric power generation using natural gas fuels. The G-E “F Class” Series of “Gas Turbine as installed in many modern natural gas fueled power generation plants. A G-E Gas Turbine is shown below. Siemens, Mitsubishi, Rolls-Royce, Pratt-Whitney and a few other world manufacturers also design and manufacture large Utility Scale Gas Turbines.

As described earlier, the gas turbine drives a shaft which is connected to a generator to produce electricity. Here is a schematic of the gas turbine combined cycle plant exhausting heat to a steam generator that then provides steam to a steam turbine. This is called a Gas Turbine, Combined Cycle Power Plant. The combined cycle is using two cycles for power generation, the internal combustion (Brayton) cycle and the external combustion (Rankine) steam cycle. By combining the two cycles overall efficiencies have reached the highest of any other thermal power generatioin cycle or process at up to 65% efficient.

A modern 620 MW Gas Turbine, Combined Cycle Power Plant is shown below. This is the Duke Energy, Buck Plant located near Salisbury, NC.

Duke Energy’s Buck Gas Turbine Combined Cycle Power Plant located near Salisbury, NC

South Carolina has generated about 28.6% of the electricity consumed from natural gas fuel. Most of that is through gas turbine combined cycle plants similar to the Duke Buck Plant in the photo above. FYI, North Carolina generated about 33% of that states electricity from natural gas.

Up to this point we have discussed the reciprocating gasoline engine, the Diesel, coal plants, jet engines and gas turbines. All of these are variations of “Heat-Engines” they convert heat energy into thrust or shaft horsepower that is a motive force for either propulsion of a vehicle, train, ship or plane or for turning a shaft that drives an electric generator. These engines consume a high percentage of the total energy utilized in America. Next covered is nuclear which has generated about 18-20% of America’s electric power for decades. A nuclear plant produces steam using the heat of nuclear fission. The steam is then passed through a steam turbine, much the same as in a coal plant described above. Here below is a schematic of a nuclear power plant using a pressurized water reactor,

An example of a pressurized water reactor system for generating electricity from nuclear power. The Turbine-Generator and condenser are similar to those utilized in a large coal plant.

Electricity generated from nuclear power also utilizes the steam turbine prime mover as a massive heat engine. Instead of using combustion to provide the heat to produce steam, a nuclear power plant utilizes nuclear fission within the reactor vessel. The primary coolant for the nuclear reaction is water under high pressure so that it will not boil. This loop of hot, pressurized water is circulated through the steam generator where the heat is transferred to the secondary cycle which provides the steam flow to drive the steam turbine. Another version of a “Heat-Engine”

Other Heat-Engines that We Depend on

You have heard of renewable power generation which includes Hydro-electric, solar, wind and biomass. Solar and wind usually generate power directly, although there are a couple of hybrid designs that utilize sunlight to boil water and produce steam. These will not be discussed here.

Biomass fuel such as waste wood or processed wood chips is used much like coal in a boiler furnace to produce steam to drive a turbine generator, Then there is Bio-Fuels such as Ethanol made from corn which is added to gasoline and burned in Internal Combustion engines of our cars and trucks.

Another form of Biomass fuel is Landfill Gas which is methane that is generated from decaying garbage in landfills. This gas is collected and piped to power boilers to generate steam and electricity.

Lastly, a small amount of electricity is generated in the U.S.A. by geothermal power. This is usually in the western U.S.A. in California and Nevada where hot rocks below the ground are used to generate steam which is then passed through a steam turbine generator.

The above serves as a primer to become familiar with the importance of heat engines in our everyday lives.

Dick Storm, September 9, 2020

The Importance of Energy, Part 2, Our Energy Sources

This chapter will focus on the sources and fuels of energy for the U.S.A. The average American likely believes our electricity is coming mostly from renewable sources. Why? Because we are all indoctrinated with advertisements and Mainstream News Media reports on massive solar and wind farms. Well the true story is that over 80% of the energy we depend on comes from natural gas, nuclear, coal and old hydroelectric power plants. The EIA (Energy Information Administration ) a department of the U.S. Department of Energy, publishes data to provide access for all who are interested in the facts. The figure below shows American energy sources consumed in the year 2019.

This is Total Energy used for Electricity Generation, Transportation, Industrial Production, Residential and Commercial uses.

The renewables at 11% include 22% old hydroelectric plants such as the Grand Coulee Dam and many other dams in the Pacific northwest operated by the Bonneville Power Authority. The renewables also include Biofuels, Biomass and wood power for Thermal Heat Engines. Digging down into the data of the 2019 energy pie chart shows: About 93% of the energy used in 2019 was in Heat-Engines. Yes, even about 43% of the biomass renewables were utilized in heat engines, such as Landfill gas burned in power boilers, wood fuel and ethanol biofuels burned in internal combustion engines. Heat-Engines play a large part in making our lives productive and good. A friend of mine always reminds me about National Security and keeping our Military strong. Military jets, Surface ships, Armored Personnel Carriers and Helicopters operate on Diesel and Jet Fuel. Peace through strength is important, I believe. More on the importance of combustion and Heat-Engines in a later chapter.

A couple years ago, Ginny and I took a river cruise on the Snake and Columbia Rivers from Idaho to Portland. Often I wondered why citizens in the west were so strong in their voices for renewable power and so against fossil fuels. I figured out part of the answer as we toured Bonneville Power Dams and became aware of the over 22,000 MW of generation capacity of BPA (Bonneville Power Authority). The cost of power is subsidized by the Federal Government and is about $0.02/kWh. Abundant and reasonable cost. Great for the Pacific Northwest, however, there is only one Columbia River in the U.S.A. What is good for Portland, Oregon doesn’t apply to South Carolina or other states. Here is an example of why a diverse generating portfolio for 50 states is important.

The Bonneville Power Authority is Federally run and has over 22,000 MW of capacity. Mostly Hydro-Electric power generation on the Columbia River.

All sources and all fuels are important and should be included in America’s energy mix. Here below is the comparison of South Carolina’s electricity generation during 2019. Over 55% is from nuclear generation.

South Carolina has seven reliable and proven nuclear power plants owned by Duke Energy, Dominion & Santee-Cooper (South Carolina Public Service Authority)

The discussion of electricity production in Oregon and South Carolina show the extreme differences in affordable and reliable power from these two states. Nationwide, electricity generation is the largest consumer of primary energy. “Energy” encompasses much more than electricity production. The next largest consumer of primary energy is Transportation. For the U.S.A. our energy production and consumption is shown on the Sankey Diagram below:

The Sankey Diagram shows the total energy expressed in “BTU’s (British Thermal Units). During 2019 America utilized 100.2 Quadrillion Btu’s. The sources of these Btu’s and the end use is shown on the diagram. The left side shows the energy sources and as the lines move left to right show the utilization of the heat energy. The line thickness is in proportion to the amount of Btu;s for each path.

The Sankey Diagram provides details of energy flows. The chart below by the EIA summarizes the American Energy Sources in 2019;

Data summary by U.S. Department of Energy, EIA

The foregoing charts and data represent energy for America in 2019. Below is the forecast to 2050 for the U.S.A. Renewables are forecasted to be up to 38% of total electricity generation by then.

So, how about electricity generation in China and the rest of the world? Forecasts for the World energy production and demand to 2050 is shown below:

The perspective of the world energy use and production of carbon dioxide is shown in the chart below by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Not to become distracted but forecasts are simply best guesses of the future. One reasonably reliable forecast for the future is, that the world population will grow from about 7.2 Billion on 2019 to something over 9.0 Billion in 2040. These additional 2 Billion people (plus the almost 1 Billion who currently do not have access to electricity) will desire and demand the same advances in quality of life, clean water, clean air, transportation, indoor air quality, cooking, air conditioning and industrial output that those of us that live in Developed countries have. Here is the United Nations projection for world population growth.

This United Nations Data is from the UN website

I show these data on world population and current energy use to emphasize why I believe a portfolio of all fuels are important. The figure below is a reminder of the importance of energy to power high quality of living and the uses of energy in the U.S.A. Please keep in mind, Electricity is very important and I worked my entire career helping to produce the least cost, most efficient and most reliables electricity that I could. Transportation, Industrial output, residential heating, cooling and cooking and commercial buildings together comprise nearly twice as much energy consumption as electricity generation. Electric vehicles like the Tesla electric vehicle shown in the lower left below may change the use of primary energy by 2040 or before.

A typical electric steel furnace as illustrated above will use about 175 MW of electricity. An aluminum smelter, such as the Century Aluminum Smelter in Mt. Holly, SC will use up to 400 MW of electricity. To compare this to small cities, my old town of Albemarle, NC has a municipal electric system that peaked at about 50 MW for a city of 20,000 people. My current town of Hilton Head with a population of about 40,000 and tourists in the summer of about 100,000 uses about 250 MW on a hot August day. I state these examples to illustrate the enormous amount of electricity that is needed for heavy industry. For America to remain economically strong and competitive in the world, we need to maintain industrial output at high levels and heavy industry, especially metals production, is very energy intensive. Later in the chapter on world trade and energy I will expand on the relationship of electricity and trade. Especially important for primary metals such as aluminum, steel and copper. All of these use large amounts of electricity. Aluminum production from aluminum oxide to ingot aluminum requires about 5 kWh to produce. This does not include the energy used to refine Bauxite into alumina or the energy needed to forge or roll the aluminum ingots into finished product.

I will close this chapter with a chart showing energy measurements, equivalents and cost per million Btu’s and a reminder of the importance of Heat-Engines.

Key to comparing energy costs for use in Heat-Engines is to compare the cost per million Btu’s. The chart below provides some commonly used data and terms.

The next chapter will cover common heat engines and a brief description of each type. Why Heat-Engines? Note the illustration below, yes 90%. This is why the Energy Information Administration measures and reports total Btu’s produced and consumed:

Dick Storm, August 28, 2020

The Importance of Energy to Power High Quality of Life, Part 1

The citizens of North America, Europe, Japan and Australia are all accustomed to having abundant, reliable and reasonable cost energy and electricity. Not until a hurricane or extreme weather comes when power lines are downed, do Americans appreciate the importance of energy and electricity to power our way of life. My goal in this Blog is to show the relationship of energy to the Human Development Index and the inter-relationships of energy and our quality of life.

First let’s take a look at NASA’s composite photo of the “Earth at Night”. Remember the dark areas of the Planet as you then scroll through the next few graphs of economic activity and energy.

NASA, A Composite Photo by Satellite of the World at Night

Next, plots of energy and GDP for selected countries of the world. North Korea is not included in the data plot, but the satellite photo showing lights below the 38th Parallel clearly show the distinction of a centrally controlled Socialistic government and Economic Freedom of South Korea.

Total Energy in Total, Millions of Btu’s, consumed per Capita and Relationship with Human Development Index as a Measure of Quality of Life

Satellite view of the 38th Parallel separating North and South Korea

The next graph is from ExxonMobil’s Outlook for Energy and uses data from the U.N., World Bank and other respected references. Note the vertical axis showing energy use in kWh per person/year. Over 50% of the world’s population uses less than 2,000 kWh/year. Americans on average use about 13,000 kWh/year. The electricity is used for residential heating, cooling & cooking. Keeping it into perspective, nearly 1 Billion people of the world do not have access to any electricity. Note the chart which follows, below. This data from the UN, World Bank and the chart was prepared by “Our World in Data”.

There are almost 1 Billion people of the world that do not have access to electricity. If you go back to the NASA composite photo of the earth at night above, you can see by illumination the difference between the Developing countries and the Developed Countries.

So, how do citizens use energy to create better lives? The figure below shows the uses of Total Energy used in the U.S.A. Americans utilize on average about 100 Quadrillion Btu’s (BTU= British Thermal Unit). The 100.2 Quadrillion divided by 330 million citizens comes out to about 330 million Btu’s/person/year. This is total energy use and includes energy used for electricity generation, transportation, industrial production, heating, cooling, cooking.

The highest use of energy in the U.S.A. is for electricity production at 37% of our total. Next is transportation at 28.2%. When all uses of energy are totaled in Btu equivalents, then divided by the population, the average comes out to about 330 million Btu’s per person per year. This includes all uses of energy.

To illustrate what 330 million Btu’s is equivalent to our friends at Storm Technologies created the graphic below:

The energy equivalent of 330 million Brittish Thermal Units could be about 48 barrels of Diesel fuel, 64.5 barrels of gasoline, 14 tons of coal or 778 pounds of propane. This is what Americans use on average. Those of us that travel more or have larger homes use more than the average. An apartment dweller in a large city with no car will use less. Also figured into the average energy use is Industrial production. Primary metals such as aluminum, copper and steel use huge amounts of electricity to produce.

The Industrial production provides jobs and improved economic freedom. The next chapter will cover energy independence and how reasonable cost energy impacts world trade and competition.

Dick Storm

Hawaii: A Gimpse Into the future of the “green new deal”

Hawaii is a model of the impact of applying carbon free electricity generation policies before storage technology catches up. “Green Policies” do not necessarily result in “Green Power” as I will close with the actual power generation in real time.  As an engineer specializing in efficient and clean coal power generation for five decades, whenever a coal plant shutdown is in the news, it catches my attention. So, when I read about the plans to shut down the 180 MW, AES Barbers Point Coal Plant near Honolulu, it caught my eye.

The title of the article in the Honolulu newspaper sums it up nicely: “Our Cheapest Power Is About to Go Away……. In 2016, HECO paid AES Hawaii an average of 5 cents per kilowatt hour. During the same period, wind was about 20 cents per kilowatt hour, solar about 21 to 23 cents.”

Hawaii is a perfect laboratory to show the effect of implementing extreme green policies on electric generation. Why? Because as islands, they are not connected to the US Grid. Therefore, the policies as implemented will create a fairly swift impact on electricity prices. According to the EIA, the highest retail electricity price in the U.S.A.:  Hawaii at $0.3099/kWh.

Digging a little deeper the plans for the future are for 52% Renewables by 2021 and 100% Renewables by 2045.

As the Democrats in congress push for the new Green Deal, Hawaii offers an example of the adverse impact on electricity prices. Later, when Barbers Point is shut down, reliability could also become an issue. 

If you are interested in the fuel mix for generation on the island of Oahu, here is a link for the real time power generation.  As this is written (0700 3/24/2020), I checked and 86% of the power was Fossil Fuels and of the 14% Renewables, they include 9% from the thermal waste to energy facility, 5% wind and because it was early morning, 0% solar.

I have always advocated a “Balanced Portfolio of Generation”. A plan to include LNG, Coal, Renewables, Oil and Waste to Energy would have been wiser, in my opinion.

Dick Storm

South Australia Heatwave Wind Power Collapse, Rolling Blackouts

So much for green power reliability

Watts Up With That?

Wreck Beach, South Australia. Wreck Beach, South Australia. By Jacqui Barker [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia CommonsGuest essay by Eric Worrall

h/t AndyG55, JoNova – South Australia, the world’s renewable energy crash test dummy, is once again experiencing horrendous power price spikes and rolling blackouts, thanks to excessive reliance on wind, a lack of dispatchable power capacity, and high demand caused by a Summer heatwave.

Rolling blackouts ordered in Adelaide as city swelters

Widespread power blackouts were imposed across Adelaide and parts of South Australia with heatwave conditions forcing authorities to impose load shedding.

About 40,000 properties were without electricity supplies for about 30 minutes because of what SA Power Networks said was a direction by the Australian Energy Market Regulator.

The temperature was still above 40C when the rolling blackouts began at 6.30pm to conserve supplies as residents sought relief with air conditioners.

Appearing live on Facebook for a…

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Environmentalism as a religion

A very good essay and so true.

Watts Up With That?


The late Dr. Michael Crichton was wonderful writer. In 2003 he presented a wonderful essay in San Francisco equating environmentalism to religion. Nobel prize winning physicist Dr. Ivar Giaver makes the same point in a presentation here. In religion man is meant to be saved from the consequences of his sins. In the environmentalist religion the world was a wonderful, beautiful Eden until man and his technology came along. Man has eaten the apple and lost Eden. Now we must give up our “evil” technology and go back to nature, otherwise all is lost.

As Crichton notes:

“There is no Eden. There never was. What was that Eden of the wonderful mythic past? Is it the time when infant mortality was 80%, when four children in five died of disease before the age of five? When one woman in six died in childbirth? When the average lifespan was 40…

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Believer in Freedom to use of Energy for sustainable high quality lives