Tag Archives: Energy Economic Prosperity

American Dream = 100 Quadrillion Btus 

Introduction

The recent Supreme Court ruling which  trimmed the power of the EPA is important to provide for less government restrictions and for the freedom of future Americans to enjoy the “American Dream”. This post is based on the importance of energy to power our way of life. Each American uses about a million Btus of energy each day. Energy fuels our way of life. The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has kept track of the total primary energy use of America for many years. Total primary energy use has held steady at about 100 quads (+/-10) per year for the last 23 years. Total Primary Energy includes all forms of energy. The Energy Flow Chart for 2021 is copied below:

Total Energy Flow Chart for the U.S. in 2021
LLNL TOTAL PRIMARY ENERGY FLOW CHART 2021: https://flowcharts.llnl.gov

Total Primary Energy Supply 1999-2021 about 100 Quadrillion Btu’s

A fair question is, what does the Supreme Court ruling on the EPA’s right to regulate carbon have to do with living the American Dream? Here is my answer. If we accept that the U.S. requires 100 quadrillion Btus of energy to power our high quality of living, then how can we continue living our good lives if over 80% of the fuel we depend on is considered unavailable by the government? Yes, from the LLNL figure above, (in Quads) 35.1 Petroleum + 10.5 Coal +31.3 Natural Gas +8.13 nuclear power   = 85.03 quadrillion Btus which is 87.4 % of the 97.3 Quads of Total Primary Energy.

Thermal energy is important for every American. The 87.4% includes nuclear. Therefore, the total primary energy provided from conventional forms of energy is 87.4%.

The government, “Woke” Business leaders, celebrities and many in the media have pushed the fantasy of achieving American energy needs from 100% solar and wind by 2030 or 2050.  To attempt to be polite, thinking we can replace conventional forms of energy within a few years is being detached from reality and delusional. Let me explain why I believe this to be so by looking at the last 23 years of energy use to show where we came from in two decades and to then look into the future to see the next two decades:

EIA Annual Energy Outlook 1999

The 1999 Sankey diagram (above) shows total energy use in the U.S. of 96.6  quadrillion Btus. I stated above that America’s total primary energy has held pretty steady for decades. So, here is the factual data of energy flows from 1999. Over the years, the fuel sources have changed but the total primary energy required to power our lives and economy has remained fairly constant, right at 100 quadrillion Btus.  In 1999 coal was 23.3 quadrillion Btus and natural gas 19.29. The “Shale Gas Revolution” which began about 2010 created production of low cost natural gas which displaced much of the coal used for power generation. This fuel substitution of natural gas for coal was mostly for economic dispatch reasons of a more economical fuel for power generation. By the way, if you compare the natural gas prices/million Btus to coal today, coal looks far more reasonable in cost.

EIA Data and authors notes

Total Primary Energy is Needed for Electricity Generation Plus… Industry, Transportation, Commercial and Residential

The graph below was prepared by the EIA to illustrate the production and use of total energy in the U.S.A. from 1950 to 2020. This also supports the statement that America has used right at 100 Quadrillion Btus for the last 23 years. This includes all forms of energy and including coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, hydroelectric, solar, wind, Biomass, geothermal. As can be seen from the graph, energy independence was achieved in 2020. This was largely as the result of increased oil and natural gas production within the U.S.A.

Total primary energy production and consumption 1950-2020

The Fantasy of Wind and Solar Replacing Conventional Energy and Achieving Net-Zero Carbon by 2050

Fossil fuels plus nuclear energy provided over 87% of America’s total primary energy for the year 2021. This is a fact. (as shown on the first chart above from LLNL) It is also a fact that wind and solar together provided about 5% of our total primary energy. The question needs to be asked, Is it reasonable to expect solar and wind to replace the energy currently provided by petroleum, natural gas, coal and nuclear? I say NO it is not reasonable to expect solar and wind to replace coal, oil, gas and nuclear any time soon. Yes, wind and solar are being forced on America by the energy policies and incentives of government, but it is implausible to expect the total of 100 Quadrillion Btu’s equivalent of energy to come from wind and solar. In my opinion, impossible until there are major technological advancements.

Here are eleven reasons why Net-Zero Carbon is Not Practical within the next 28 years:

  • The land area of 100% renewables required is enormous. The energy density of solar and wind is far too low(1)
  • Electricity storage is not yet technologically advanced for commercial applications at Utility scale for long time periods
  • If all Internal Combustion Engines for ground transportation are electrified, then it exacerbates the first two points. It still takes about the same primary energy content to move vehicles no matter what fuel or energy source is used. Example, EV’s need charging to provide motive force
  • Solar and Wind are not Dispatchable. They provide maximum output as nature provides when the wind blows and the sun shines, not as Citizen electricity demand requires
  • About 8-10% of petroleum is refined into Jet Fuel. Hydrogen fueled aircraft may be safe & practical some day, but that someday is decades away.
  • Fertilizer and food production uses between 2 and 5% of total primary energy. This cannot be replaced with wind and solar
  • The Transmission and Distribution network of the electric Grid is not setup for solar and wind systems. It takes time to permit, design and construct T&D systems
  • Oil, coal and natural gas provide raw materials for textiles, rubber, plastics and many other products that the world depends on
  • Coking coal is required to produce the best quality steel from iron ore
  • Cement production requires fuel for production
  • Nuclear power is the largest provider of carbon free energy, yet there is only one new nuclear plant under construction in the U.S. The Georgia Power Plant Vogtle Units 2 &3

All Fuels are Important and a Balanced Energy Portfolio is Preferred

America has been depending on coal power for many years. Although not appreciated by the media and even some Utility Exec’s, coal remains important. I will cite three examples below: First the U.S. Grid Electric Generation by fuel type for the weeks of September 25 -October 2, 2021 and from June 10- 16, 2022. Note the Dispatchable power of over 80% in both cases, with coal providing a significant portion of the generation. Also shown below are screen shots of actual generation by fuel for both the MISO and PJM RTO’s (Regional Transmission Operators)

From EIA U.S. Grid Monitor website
MISO Energy Generation by Fuel: https://www.misoenergy.org
PJM Interconnection: https://www.pjm.com/markets-and-operations

The four illustrations above show examples of the importance of coal fuel to electric power generation for the lower 48 states, for the Midcontenent Independent System Operator and for the PJM Interconnection. All four examples show significant generation by Dispatchable power: coal, gas and nuclear. These four charts could be considered “A Balanced Generation Portfolio” By balanced, I mean fuel diversity of nuclear, gas, coal and renewables. This is good, however, the current U.S. Path is to shutdown many of the coal plants that were participating in the above “examples. Take a look at the EIA report that states 12.6 GW of coal plants to retire by 2022. (4)

Also, the recent closures of Palisades Nuclear Plant in Michigan and the William Zimmer 1300 MW coal plant near Cincinnati.

Coal, The American Treasure of Energy

When I was active in the American Coal Council we had an interesting speaker from the National Coal Council, on the coal, oil and gas reserves within the borders of the U.S. The speaker (Robert Beck) presented a study of using captured CO2 to force oil still trapped beneath Ohio’s old oil fields. As I recall, the presentation summary was that any place that coal is found, so is oil and gas. Thus, if you look at a map of U.S. coal deposits, sure enough, gas and oil has also been produced. Getting back to the National Coal Council presentation, the statement was made that about 3 million barrels a day of oil could be recovered from the “Old abandoned” Ohio Oil fields of decades ago, by using enhanced oil recovery of pressurizing the oil deposits with CO2 captured from the many coal plants in Ohio.(5) Here below is an illustration of world coal reserves. It could be said, the U.S. likely has the largest fossil fuel reserves in the world. The statement made by a coal expert that I heard ten years ago seems true, “Wherever there is coal, so is there oil and gas”. Texas, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and North Dakota all have coal and all have had significant oil and gas production since Hydraulic Fracturing combined with directional drilling has been utilized.

Why should our politicians cripple our economy over the politically inspired (not Environmental protection driven) U.N. -IPCC, Paris agreement?(56,57,58,59) America can be Energy Independent. We were in 2020 and we can do it again!

From EIA and American Geosciences sources

Meanwhile in China

China is the world’s largest producer of aluminum and steel. They also are the largest manufacturing nation on the planet. This manufacturing might is powered mostly by coal power. China gets it and they are diligently working toward a “Balanced Generation Portfolio” of coal, nuclear, wind, solar and gas.(51, 52, 53) Russia is conveniently in an excellent geographic and economic position to supply coal, oil, nuclear and gas to China to power their industrial output.

BP Statistical Review
World Nuclear Association website(10)

China is a large country that is committed to increasing the size of their economy. Powering manufacturing requires large amounts of reliable, reasonable cost electricity generation. China has a truly “Balanced Portfolio of Generation Capacity”, including nuclear as shown above and also enormous amounts of renewable power from the Three Gorges Hydroelectric plant which is over 22 GW in capacity, as well as wind, solar and coal. I thought I should interject the energy facts regarding China’s Bulk Power Generation, because competing with them will require reasonable cost Bulk Power here. Especially for energy intensive manufacturing such as aluminum smelting and other primary metals production.

Conclusions from Excerpts of Vaclav Smil book, “Power Density” on the Use of Wind, Water and Solar to Generate most of Our Electricity

Vaclav Smil has written many books on Energy, Power and Electricity generation. His book “POWER DENSITY” for this discussion is particularly relevant. Copied below are excerpts from the final chapter of “POWER DENSITY”:

“What Would it Take”

“If you are willing to engage in unbounded science and engineering fiction, then acccording to Jacobson and Delucchi (2011), this is what it would take to supply the world with 100% renewable energy in 2030 by using electricity (generated by wind, water and solar PV installations) and electrolytic hydrogen for all purposes: 3.8 million 5-MW wind turbines, 49,000 300-MW central solar plants, 1.7 billion 3-kW rooftop PV installations, 5,350 100-MW geothermal plants, 270 new 1.3 GW hydro stations, 720,000 0.75-MW wave devices and 490,000 1-MW tidal turbines. All of that will require only about 0.4% of the world’s land for its footprint and 0.6% for spacing, and we are assured that the barriers to the plan are primarily social and political, not technological or economic as the energy cost in a new wind-water-solar world should be similar to that today” (The above is quoting from Jacobson and Delucchi)

Smil continues (from pg 244, Power Density)

“These assurances asides, the simplest reality check shows the fictional nature of these assumptions. In 2013 the worldwide capacity in wind turbines reached 330 GW, while 13 TW (40 times as much) would be needed by 2030. Total rooftop and large plant PV capacity reached about 100 GW, but 17.1 TW of these installations would be required (170 times as much); moreover, there was not a single 300-MW solar PV plant (five plants rated between 200-250 MW), whereas 40,000 would be needed by 2030. In 2013 there was only one central solar power facility rated at more than 300 MW, Ivanpah, at 392 MW, but nearly 5,000 such facilities would be needed by 2030 (an increase of four orders of magnitude). There were fewer than 50 geothermal stations rated at more than 100 MW, but 5,350 would be needed (a 100-fold increase). Pelamis (2014, the world’s most advanced wave energy company, produced six 0.75 MW devices by the beginning of 2014, but 720,000 would need to be operating by 2030 (an increase of five orders of magnitude). Finally, by 2013 there were fewer than ten small tidal stations with aggregate installed power of much less than 1 GW, while 490 GW would have to generate by 2030 (two orders of magnitude more).

Such ramping-up of all kinds of capacities-design, permitting, financing, engineering, construction, all going up between one and five orders of magnitude in less than two decades-is far, far beyond anything that has been witnessed in less than two decades-is far, far beyond anything that has been witnessed in more than a century of developing modern energy systems. And that still leaves out two other key facts, namely, that such a gargantuan renewable energy system would need an enormous expansion of high-voltage transmission and would require the creation of an entirely new, hydrogen-based society. I am still not sure how we would fly with hydrogen (or electricity) or smelt pig iron. In any case the chances of a 100% water-wind-solar world to be ready by 2030 are nil, but it is worth while exploring what it would (realistically) take to create an increasingly nonfossil global energy system.” The preceding “What Would it Take” is a direct quotation from Smil’s book, pages 243-245.

Summary & Conclusions:

In my opinion, Vaclav Smil in the preceding paragraphs captured the essence of the fictional engineering that can create a path to Net-Zero Carbon by 2050. In the references that follow, Donn Dears and others have come to similar conclusions on the futility of achieving Net-Zero Carbon.

With regard to Anthropogenic Climate Change, I have included some references from expert Climate and Atmospheric Scientists that know the topic well.(2,7,8,9,10,12,13,15,16,56,58,59)

Climate Policies and the UN-IPCC are driven by politics and not by science or a sincere interest in saving the planet. Some references which support this claim are also included for further reading.(56,58,59)

I will close with seven conclusions, which are:

  • The Economic Harm to the U.S. if the Path to Net-Zero Carbon with solar and wind and without nuclear power as a major component, will weaken the U.S.A. and harm our capability to compete in world markets. Especially competing with China and the rest of the world in manufacturing.(2, 3, 4, 7, 8 & 9)
  • Dispatchable Coal Plants should not be shut down until they are replaced by proven and commissioned “Dispatchable” generating capacity. Shutting down 12.6MW of coal plants as planned, will lead to Blackouts and Brownouts(4,22,25, 26, 27)
  • Depending on wind and solar to replace the existing 2022 still operational coal and nuclear plants will lead to increased electricity costs as well as reduced reliability(14, 36)
  • China is the world’s largest manufacturer and will remain ahead of the U.S. and gain further if the U.S. continues down the Net-Zero Carbon Path(17, 18, 19, 28)
  • America invented nuclear power (Rickover) for peaceful purposes and was the world leader in developing nuclear power for peaceful purposes. We have lost that lead and China and Russia are building more nuclear power plants in the world than the U.S. Most of our problems are unessessary Federal Regulations(11, 51,53,57)
  • Energy Independence plus reasonable cost, abundant and Dispatchable Electricity are pre-requisites for a strong economy and a strong National Defense. America should expand and increase our treasures of nuclear, coal, oil and gas forms of energy to reachieve Energy Independence.(5)
  • The U.S. should use all of the energy resources within our borders to be 100% Energy Independent. This includes the Treasure of Coal Energy which we know how to burn cleanly.(30, 31, 32)

Respectfully submitted,

Dick Storm, July 4th, 2022

References for Further Reading:

  1. Vaclav Smil Book, “POWER DENSITY” The MIT Press 2015
  2. Donn Dears Book, Net-Zero Carbon, The Climate Policy Destroying America” 2022
  3. Donn Dears website, numerous article on the foolishness of Zero Carbon policies, EV’s and Power Generation: https://ddears.com/donns-articles/
  4. EIA Report on 12.6 GW of Coal Plants to Close in 2022, January 2022: https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=50838
  5. National Coal Council, Carbon Collection and use for Enhanced Oil Recovery, 2012: http://www.nationalcoalcouncil.org/reports/07-10-12-NCC_Harnessing_Coals_Carbon_Content_to_Advance_Economy_Environment_EnergySecurity.pdf
  6. Capital Research Center, Nov. Dec. 2021 Issue article on the impossibility of replacing conventional energy with solar and wind: https://capitalresearch.org/app/uploads/Capital-Research-2021-8.pdf
  7. The Right Stuff Climate Team (Retired NASA Engineers): https://www.therightclimatestuff.com
  8. CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH CENTER REPORT, PRIMER ON ENERGY (GOOD REFERENCE WITH EXCELLENT FIGURES) https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R46723
  9. Dr. Judith Curry, 15 slides to summarize Climate Change website: https://judithcurry.com/2021/09/03/15-minutes/#more-27827
  10. Science and Environment Policy Project  Website: http://www.sepp.org
  11. World Nuclear Association, Status of Nuclear Power in China: https://www.world-nuclear.org/country/default.aspx/China
  12. Global Warming Policy Foundation: https://www.thegwpf.org
  13. Mark Mills, The Myth of Renewable Energy: https://www.manhattan-institute.org/the-myth-of-the-great-energy-transition
  14. WSJ, Wind Stops in Europe: https://www.wsj.com/articles/energy-prices-in-europe-hit-records-after-wind-stops-blowing-11631528258?mod=djem_EnergyJournal
  15. A key segment begins at minute 24 where the effects of CO2 are discussed by Professor Happer. https://bit.ly/3zsXcS6
  16. SKY NEWS SUN ACTIVITY AFFECTS EARTH TEMPERATURE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViY2J3LPgN4
  17. China buying Russian oil, gas and coal, Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/asian-buyers-russian-oil-gas-coal-2022-02-22/
  18. China-Russian Energy Deal, February 2022: https://www.reuters.com/markets/europe/russia-china-may-sign-energy-other-deals-amid-moscow-tension-with-west-2022-02-03/
  19. Russia overtakes Saudi Arabia as World’s largest oil supplier, June 20, 2022 Bloomberg: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-06-20/china-buys-7-5-billion-of-russian-energy-with-oil-at-record
  20. Korea Times, China depends on Sanctioned Russian Fuel, June 20, 2022: https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/world/2022/06/501_331352.html
  21. Utility Dive, Capacity Auction Prices, June 25,2022: https://www.utilitydive.com/news/pjm-capacity-auction-nuclear-solar-coal-prices/625861/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Issue:%202022-06-22%20Utility%20Dive%20Newsletter%20%5Bissue:42604%5D&utm_term=Utility%20Dive
  22. Detroit News, Consumers Energy to End Coal Use in 2025: https://www.detroitnews.com/story/business/2022/06/23/michigan-panel-approves-consumers-energy-plan-end-coal-use-2025/7716918001/
  23. Alliant and WEC Change Plans to Retire Coal to Meet Demand, June 22, 2022: https://www.utilitydive.com/news/wisconsin-utilities-coal-retirement-miso-delay/626005/
  24. WSJ Report on Ameren Keeping Rush Island Operating to Satisfy Demand June 10, 2022:https://www.wsj.com/articles/old-coal-plant-neared-retirement-but-now-its-needed-to-keep-the-lights-on-11654858801?mod=djem_EnergyJournal
  25. WSJ May 8, 2022, Power Plants Struggling With Electricity Shortages to Keep Power on: https://www.wsj.com/articles/electricity-shortage-warnings-grow-across-u-s-11652002380?cx_testId=3&cx_testVariant=cx_2&cx_artPos=0&mod=WTRN#cxrecs_s 
  26. WSJ June 18, 2022, West Risks Blackouts From Drought and loss of Hydroelectric Capacity: https://www.wsj.com/articles/west-risks-blackouts-as-hydroelectric-power-dries-up-11624008601?mod=article_inline  
  27. WSJ, Opinion, May 27, 2022, Jason Hayes, “Why Blackouts are Coming to Michigan” Regarding shutdown of Palisades Nuclear Generating Plant: https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-electricity-blackouts-are-coming-to-michigan-nuclear-power-plant-green-energy-renewable-climate-11653685521?cx_testId=3&cx_testVariant=cx_2&cx_artPos=5&mod=WTRN#cxrecs_s
  28. The Guradian (UK) China’s Premier Calls For More Coal Plants, June 24, 2022: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jun/24/chinese-premier-calls-for-more-coal-production-as-electricity-demand-soars 
  29. Global Food Supply at Risk Due to High Energy Prices, The Guardian, June 25, 2022: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/jun/25/our-global-food-supply-is-at-risk-when-high-gas-prices-limit-the-creation-of-fertiliser
  30. US and World Coal Reserves Map: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Coal-reserves-volumes-by-countries-of-the-world-3_fig1_328037099
  31. EIA 2nd reference on World Coal Reserves, EIA 2011: https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=2930
  32. American Geosciences institute, World Coal Reserves: https://www.americangeosciences.org/critical-issues/maps/interactive-map-coal-resources-united-states
  33. EIA Total Energy Use 1950-2020: https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=43515
  34. St. Louis Fed. Renewable Power Increases have reduced Conventional Power Generation Capacity Factors, thus weakening cash flow for O&M and improvements: https://fredblog.stlouisfed.org/2020/10/renewables-have-increased-the-capacity-for-electricity-production/?utm_source=series_page&utm_medium=related_content&utm_term=related_resources&utm_campaign=fredblog
  35. Fact Check on Wind Power Cost: https://www.factcheck.org/2019/07/does-wind-work-without-subsidies/
  36. Forbes, Michael Schellenberger article on True Cost of Wind Power: https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/2021/04/20/why-renewables-cause-blackouts-and-increase-vulnerability-to-extreme-weather/?sh=6400daf54e75 
  37. EPA Retains Tools to Harm Coal Power Production, Utility Dive, July 1, 2022: https://www.utilitydive.com/news/supreme-court-epa-GHG-carbon-power-plant/626456/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Issue:%202022-07-01%20Utility%20Dive%20Newsletter%20%5Bissue:42837%5D&utm_term=Utility%20Dive
  38. VOX, Electrify Everything! : https://www.vox.com/2016/9/19/12938086/electrify-everything
  39. Stanford, Mark Jacobson, Net Zero Carbon by 2050 : https://news.stanford.edu/2015/06/08/50states-renewable-energy-060815/
  40. Jacobson’s website: https://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/WWS-50-USState-plans.html
  41. UN Net Zero Carbon website: https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/net-zero-coalition  
  42.  Princeton University Net Zero Carbon Plan: Net Zero Carbon Project Princeton University Researchers, Jenkins et al: https://cmi.princeton.edu/annual-meetings/annual-reports/year-2019/the-net-zero-america-project-finding-pathways-to-a-carbon-neutral-future/
  43. Princeton University, additional presentations on reduced carbon emissions: https://cmi.princeton.edu/presentations/year-2022/
  44. Cornell Daily Sun, Speaker discusses Coal Plants in a Death Spiral: https://cornellsun.com/2016/10/03/keynote-speaker-investigates-recent-transformations-in-the-energy-grid/
  45. WSJ Australia Warning on Green Energy Risks:  https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-warning-from-australias-power-crisis-green-energy-anthony-albanese-11655659465?cx_testId=3&cx_testVariant=cx_2&cx_artPos=3&mod=WTRN#cxrecs_s
  46. National News on Nuclear Power needed for the future carbon free generation January 23, 2022: https://www.nationalnewswatch.com/2022/01/18/race-to-cut-carbon-emissions-splits-u-s-states-on-nuclear-b/#.Ye2BWS-B2J9
  47. Reuters, List of Coal Plants Scheduled to be shut down: https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/us-coal-fired-power-plants-scheduled-shut-2021-10-28/
  48. S&P Global Natural Gas Use for Fertilizer production, surging natural gas prices, cause fertilizer costs to soar Jan 19, 2022: https://www.spglobal.com/commodityinsights/en/market-insights/blogs/agriculture/011922-fertilizer-costs-natural-gas-prices
  49. Michael Schellenberger article on German experience of “Green Power”: https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/2019/05/06/the-reason-renewables-cant-power-modern-civilization-is-because-they-were-never-meant-to/?sh=6da16be6ea2b
  50. NERC Long Term Reliability study: https://www.nerc.com/pa/RAPA/ra/Reliability%20Assessments%20DL/NERC_LTRA_2021.pdf
  51. MSNBC China and Russian Reactor Designs Dominate New Construction, Warns IEA Chief,  July 2022: https://www.cnbc.com/2022/07/01/russian-and-chinese-designs-in-87percent-of-new-nuclear-reactors-iea-chief.html
  52. Bloomberg, China’s Climate Goals Depend on 440 Billion Nuclear Power Plant Buildout: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2021-11-02/china-climate-goals-hinge-on-440-billion-nuclear-power-plan-to-rival-u-s
  53. IEA Global Energy Outlook, April 2022: https://www.rff.org/publications/reports/global-energy-outlook-2022/
  54. IEA Publications Available: https://www.rff.org/publications/reports/
  55. Three Gorges Dam, 22.5 MW : https://www.britannica.com/topic/Three-Gorges-Dam
  56. Climate Sensitivity is Likely Low Enough to be of Little Concernhttps://everythingclimate.wpcomstaging.com/emissions-climate-models/
  57. Nuclear Power Is Poised for a Comeback. (In U.S.) The Problem Is Building the Reactors, WSJ July 2022: https://www.wsj.com/articles/nuclear-power-climate-change-russia-energy-11655995024?mod=Searchresults_pos2&page=1
  58. United Nations-IPCC Reports Are Not Science: http://sepp.org/twtwfiles/2022/TWTW%206-25-2022.pdf
  59. Donn Dears, IPCC Report, Part 1: https://bit.ly/3Aeruea

Texas and Coal Power 6,000+ MW’s of Coal plant Capacity is missed!

Introduction:

My first assignment to Texas was as a young B&W Results Engineer. I was participating as one of the Results engineers to perform acceptance tests of a large (500 MW class) natural gas fueled boiler at the P.H. Robinson Plant near Houston. That was about 1968. After that involvement I watched with great interest as Texas built dozens of 500-750 MW natural gas and oil fueled plants all across Texas. Built by Foster-Wheeler, Combustion-Engineering and Babcock & Wilcox. Then came the Arab Oil Embargo in 1973 and Texas responded to this true energy crisis with an incredibly successful fuel change to power production changing from oil and gas to Texas and Wyoming coal. The huge build out of coal plants went from the late 1970’s till the mid 1980’s and I was impressed. I had the pleasure of working at many of the coal plants operated by various Texas Utility Companies and what impressed me most was the “Can Do” attitude of Texans. Then about 1978 I became very involved as a Field Engineer to help solve combustion and power generation challenges with ALCOA’s massive Rockdale, Texas Lignite Fueled Power Plant. Also in the mid 1980’s involvement with acceptance testing of the 450 MW Gibbons Creek Coal Plant near College Station.

Why am I writing this? It is because I am perplexed after watching for decades how Texans were so practical and innovative, they became enamored with Renewable Wind and Solar Power to a fault. I was not surprised that California had such foolish policies but found it odd that practical Texas would fall into the trap of too much dependence on unreliable, non dispatchable renewables.

In the 1970’s Texas rallied to successfully change from oil and gas fuel to coal. In 2021-2022 I see Texas rallying again to overcome the problem of over-dependence on renewables.

The Good Old Days of Coal Power and Aluminum Production in Rockdale

Here is how coal power in Texas helped to build some of the most productive aluminum manufacturing in North America. A major contributor to the local economy and manufacturer of critical metals for America at the same time providing over 1600 jobs. A story to document the relationship of reasonable cost energy and economic prosperity.

The following is from the Milam County Archives, 1974:

On November 24, 1952, something strange happened in the small, agriculturally-oriented Central Texas town of Rockdale. A visitor, seemingly from a different world, changed the living habits of its people along with the general tempo and appearance of its community. 

The courting days of the 1950’s has now, nearly 22 years later, turned into a love affair unmatched in many communities between industry and townspeople. 

It began innocently enough. The Korean War was raging on and government needed aluminum to make airplanes. Aluminum Company of America needed a new facility to meet the demand. Rockdale, with its large lignite reserves, was the apple in Alcoa’s eye. 

Thousands of acres of the “Cinderella fuel” nestled beneath the earth’s crust gave rise late in 1951 to the establishment of the aluminum industry in Milam County. Aluminum production demands electric power to break down ore, shipped in from South America, to form the lightweight, corrosion-free metal. 

Demand for the metal by government and this abundance of the electrical energy- producing fuel triggered boom-like industrialization when Alcoa’s multi-million dollar Rockdale Works raced into production only 13 months after groundbreaking. 

Tipping the giant vat to cast the first aluminum ingot were the plant’s first boss (now Alcoa board chairman and chief executive officer) John D. Harper and smelting division manager R. T. Whitzel of Pittsburgh corporate headquarters.

Today, Rockdale Works is Aluminum Company of America’s largest worldwide metal producer with eight potlines and the capacity for turning out 280,000 tons annually or 1.5 million pounds per 24-hour, continuous operation day. 

The original four-potline plant was expanded by two more lines in 1956 and the Central Texas smelter became Alcoa’s largest in 1969 with the addition of the seventh and eighth lines. For the first time, Alcoa began producing more aluminum in Texas than in any other state. Rockdale Works and Point Comfort Operations down on the Gulf Coast have a joint capacity for making 455,000 tons annually. 

Rockdale Works has one of the world’s biggest carbon electrode-making facilities and a diversified ingot plant which converts molten aluminum into extrusion, sheet and remelt ingot. The latter produces everything from a 50-pound to a 22,000-pound product. 

A couple of fabricating facilities further enhanced the company’s local investment in the 1960’s. An atomized aluminum powder unit was built in 1966 and has been expanded twice. It’s now the biggest aluminum powder producer in the U. S. Then came a redraw rod facility in 1968 which spews out “raw material” for Alcoa’s electrical conductor-or wire-fabricating plants, primarily its nearby Marshall (Texas) Works. 

The Rockdale story is like many across the Developed World. Reasonable cost and abundant energy is used to fuel a manufacturing facility with the end result of not only manufacturing vital materials but also contributing to employment, funding the local tax base and infra-structure and more. Energy and Economic prosperity go hand in hand. Now, the four power generating units at Sandow Station are shut down. The Rockdale Plant is for sale and aluminum is no longer manufactured here. It was a great run from 1952 till about 2008 when the Chinese took over the aluminum smelting market.

https://www.bizjournals.com/pittsburgh/news/2017/12/22/alcoa-to-close-texas-site-divest-italian-smelter.html

Recent Shutdown of 6,453+ MW of Coal Capacity

Including the Sandow Plant which was adjacent to the ALCOA Rockdale Plant, there were five other robust, reliable coal plants shutdown. These are:

Sandow 1252 MW, Oklaunion 650 MW, Monticello 1,980 MW, J.T. Deely 932 MW, Big Brown 1,186 MW, TMPA Gibbons Creek 453 MW.

Perhaps the renewable wind and solar power capacity made some folks feel good when it was purchased and installed. I am sure it made the environmental extremists happy to see these coal plants gone. However, the people in the great state of Texas sure could have used the reliable electricity that could have been produced from these plants, had they not been prematurely shut down.

Hayden Ludwig published this short video on the Capital Research web site on more sinister reasons of America’s foolish Green Energy policies: https://capitalresearch.org/article/how-china-designed-american-environmental-policy/

It personally saddens me to see the loss of the aluminum manufacturing in Rockdale which essentially was given up to Chinese aluminum smelting capacity. It saddens me also to see the unneccessary suffering of the people of Texas. The environmental extremists may be happy to have successfully hoodwinked the politicians on the evils of carbon. Perhaps now is the time to account for the costs in the loss of American jobs, economic prosperity, the powering of heat pumps, Refineries and Businesses and often overlooked, contributions to the local schools and government infrastructure & tax base.

Dick Storm

February 19, 2021