America and all Developed countries require Energy to power our lives and our economy. It is time (for the government, energy savvy citizens already know this) to face the facts and reality that nearly 90% of the energy America depends on, including for our Defense of National Security, is sourced from conventional fuels or sources of natural gas, nuclear, oil, coal and old hydropower generation. Wind and Solar cannot replace these forms of energy and the path to Net-Zero Carbon will weaken our country. A Rational Energy Transition is needed over the next few decades. As a reminder, the Sankey Diagram below shows the total primary energy flows by sources and flow for all of 2021 forms of energy . Note that less than 5% of the primary energy provided to the U.S. was from wind and solar.
The two key words are PRIMARY ENERGY! As a couple people have asked me on EV’s…..”You mean the electricity has to be generated somewhere else to charge an electric vehicle?”
Yes, over 89% of the PRIMARY ENERGY we use is from conventional sources of Petroleum, Coal, Natural Gas, Nuclear and Hydroelectric and yes, electricity to charge an EV likely came from conventional sources.
I have met with numerous groups to discuss our energy future and every time I outline the current government path to Net-Zero Carbon the people I talk with are shocked that there is not a planned transition to reduced carbon emissions and sustaining a reliable, affordable energy supply. Why? I believe it is because those that are knowledgeable in all forms of primary energy production are a small minority. Similar for secondary energy production, such as for producing electricity and hydrogen. I estimate that the people who thoroughly understand energy production is less than 5% of American (and the world) citizens. Smooth talking non-energy savvy politicians, the United Nations, the Main Stream Media, World Economic Forum and Public Education have Hoodwinked the Public into Demonizing carbon and preaching and legislating Green Power incentives. These powerful innfluencers have forced wind and solar Green Energy Religion on Americans. It is not possible to switch all of America or the rest of the Free World to Renewable wind and solar energy. It is possible to have a smooth transition to increase carbon free nuclear power and nuclear power produced hydrogen over the next three decades, but not by 2030 or 2035 as is proclaimed by the Biden Administration. America has no energy policy, only a policy of demonizing carbon and forcing the citizens to depend on unreliable, intermittent wind and solar.
Energy Misinformation is World-Wide
My friend Vincent who lives in France has sent me dozens of informative documents on energy. One document he sent yesterday caught my attention. It is the opening introduction of Professor Samuel Furfari’s article published on the Friends of Science Blog of Calgary University. I will quote Professor Furfari as he captures what I believe to be true as well. Furfari is referring to Europe, but much of what he states is applicable all over the Free World:
“Energy is life. Without energy, we could not live. That is why our distant ancestors adopted, then invented ways to create fire. The use of energy is essential for life: animals and human beings eat because their bodies need energy. Moreover, energy is also the blood that runs through the veins of the economic system. In recent years, instead of seeing energy as a vital commodity, environmental activists have succeeded in reversing the logic by blaming energy for all the planet’s ills, to the point where energy is no longer spoken of in negative terms. Energy has become the symbol of pollution and climate catastrophe. A few days ago, at the end of a lecture, a student confessed to me that he had been shaken because I had shown, with data, that the quality of life measured by the UN HDI index and life expectancy at birth depended on per capita energy consumption. This correlation is also valid with CO2 emissions since 82% of the energy used in the world is fossil fuel. He had never thought about it. No one had ever told him that.” Furfari continues….
“Will the current crisis be enough to bring us back to the common sense of the absolute priority of having abundant and cheap energy, as the founders of the EU said in the past? This is not certain, as the population has been so indoctrinated with negative and even catastrophic messages. But if the current crisis was to last and worsen, climate policies could face fierce opposition from the population, since it is true that the population cannot do without abundant and cheap energy, as the current panic demonstrates. Thanks to the development of technology and our energy resources (North Sea hydrocarbons and nuclear energy), the EU was able to escape the oil crises of the 1970s. The energy terrorism that may develop in the near future will have much more far-reaching consequences, as the EU is now much more dependent on energy consumption than it was fifty years ago.”
The foregoing is from a European viewpoint. My opinion/commentary now continues:
We Cannot Electrify Everything!
It is not even possible to install enough wind turbines and solar collectors across the U.S. to “Electrify Everything”. Further, we cannot electricfy everything and still sustain our high quality of living. For such products/materials as fertilizer, ammonia, food production energy, plastics, cement manufacture and steel manufacture. So what would a Rational Energy Policy look like? Here is my shot at offering one:
A RATIONAL ENERGY PLAN
Here is what a Rational Energy Plan would look like:
Maintain Existing Coal & Nuclear Plants as If they will Run for 20 more years….because… we will likely need them.
Reduce Federal Regulations on Oil, Gas, Coal production and all hard rock Mining within the U.S.A.
Reduce Regulations and build more Refinery Capacity
Approve Keystone and other Pipelines for Construction
Reduce Federal Regulations on Coal Plant Emissions to levels in effect in 2020 (except CO2 restrictions that were later vacated by SCOTUS)
Build New HELE Coal Plants, Equipped with Provisions for Future CCUS (HELE=High Efficiency Low Emissions)
Continue R & D for Energy Storage and Hydrogen Production
Increase Hydrogen Distribution Infrastructure
Keep Options of Continuing Internal Combustion Engines Beyond 2035 for those citizens that prefer Internal Combustion Engines
Expand Oil & Gas Infrastructure to meet next 30 year Demand
Increase the pace for designing, NRC Approvals, manufacturing and construction of new Small Modular Nuclear Reactors to be built all across the U.S.A. to replace the 102,000 MW’s of reliable, Dispatchable electric power production capacity that has been shut down since 2010.
Summary and Conclusions
When America’s economy and our productive capacity are restored, it will be with the result of reduced Federal Regulations and increased Domestic Energy production. To sustain life as we know it, each American on average needs about one million BTUs of energy equivalence each day. This includes energy for electricity generation, transportation, Industrial production, National Defense, commercial and residential uses. Over 90% of that energy is sourced from conventional sources of natural gas, oil, coal and nuclear. These numbers are substantiated by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Sankey Diagram I placed as the first illustration. Yes, it shows 95% of the primary energy America runs on is from conventional forms of energy. It is Energy Fiction to believe that the conventional forms we use and depend on now can be provided by wind and solar as the Biden Administration and Congress have advocated. (I suppose we could add to this list of indoctrinators: the United Nations, World Economic Forum, Environmental Extremist groups, the MSM, U.S. Public Education and Woke corporations)
If the Biden Administration and Congress do not create a Rational Energy Policy as I have outlined above, then America’s Infuence in the World and our Economy will go into an ever increasing decline. As outlined by Professor Samuel Furfari, the same is true for Europe. “Energy is Life, Without Energy we cannot live”.
The Developed World runs on energy and America has the natural resources to regain Energy Independence.
Dick Storm, October 12, 2022
Quote of the Week: “Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression.” —James Madison (1788)
The recent Supreme Court ruling which trimmed the power of the EPA is important to provide for less government restrictions and for the freedom of future Americans to enjoy the “American Dream”. This post is based on the importance of energy to power our way of life. Each American uses about a million Btus of energy each day. Energy fuels our way of life. The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has kept track of the total primary energy use of America for many years. Total primary energy use has held steady at about 100 quads (+/-10) per year for the last 23 years. Total Primary Energy includes all forms of energy. The Energy Flow Chart for 2021 is copied below:
Total Primary Energy Supply 1999-2021 about 100 Quadrillion Btu’s
A fair question is, what does the Supreme Court ruling on the EPA’s right to regulate carbon have to do with living the American Dream? Here is my answer. If we accept that the U.S. requires 100 quadrillion Btus of energy to power our high quality of living, then how can we continue living our good lives if over 80% of the fuel we depend on is considered unavailable by the government? Yes, from the LLNL figure above, (in Quads) 35.1 Petroleum + 10.5 Coal +31.3 Natural Gas +8.13 nuclear power = 85.03 quadrillion Btus which is 87.4 % of the 97.3 Quads of Total Primary Energy.
Thermal energy is important for every American. The 87.4% includes nuclear. Therefore, the total primary energy provided from conventional forms of energy is 87.4%.
The government, “Woke” Business leaders, celebrities and many in the media have pushed the fantasy of achieving American energy needs from 100% solar and wind by 2030 or 2050. To attempt to be polite, thinking we can replace conventional forms of energy within a few years is being detached from reality and delusional. Let me explain why I believe this to be so by looking at the last 23 years of energy use to show where we came from in two decades and to then look into the future to see the next two decades:
The 1999 Sankey diagram (above) shows total energy use in the U.S. of 96.6 quadrillion Btus. I stated above that America’s total primary energy has held pretty steady for decades. So, here is the factual data of energy flows from 1999. Over the years, the fuel sources have changed but the total primary energy required to power our lives and economy has remained fairly constant, right at 100 quadrillion Btus. In 1999 coal was 23.3 quadrillion Btus and natural gas 19.29. The “Shale Gas Revolution” which began about 2010 created production of low cost natural gas which displaced much of the coal used for power generation. This fuel substitution of natural gas for coal was mostly for economic dispatch reasons of a more economical fuel for power generation. By the way, if you compare the natural gas prices/million Btus to coal today, coal looks far more reasonable in cost.
Total Primary Energy is Needed for Electricity Generation Plus… Industry, Transportation, Commercial and Residential
The graph below was prepared by the EIA to illustrate the production and use of total energy in the U.S.A. from 1950 to 2020. This also supports the statement that America has used right at 100 Quadrillion Btus for the last 23 years. This includes all forms of energy and including coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, hydroelectric, solar, wind, Biomass, geothermal. As can be seen from the graph, energy independence was achieved in 2020. This was largely as the result of increased oil and natural gas production within the U.S.A.
The Fantasy of Wind and Solar Replacing Conventional Energy and Achieving Net-Zero Carbon by 2050
Fossil fuels plus nuclear energy provided over 87% of America’s total primary energy for the year 2021. This is a fact. (as shown on the first chart above from LLNL) It is also a fact that wind and solar together provided about 5% of our total primary energy. The question needs to be asked, Is it reasonable to expect solar and wind to replace the energy currently provided by petroleum, natural gas, coal and nuclear? I say NO it is not reasonable to expect solar and wind to replace coal, oil, gas and nuclear any time soon. Yes, wind and solar are being forced on America by the energy policies and incentives of government, but it is implausible to expect the total of 100 Quadrillion Btu’s equivalent of energy to come from wind and solar. In my opinion, impossible until there are major technological advancements.
Here are eleven reasons why Net-Zero Carbon is Not Practical within the next 28 years:
The land area of 100% renewables required is enormous. The energy density of solar and wind is far too low(1)
Electricity storage is not yet technologically advanced for commercial applications at Utility scale for long time periods
If all Internal Combustion Engines for ground transportation are electrified, then it exacerbates the first two points. It still takes about the same primary energy content to move vehicles no matter what fuel or energy source is used. Example, EV’s need charging to provide motive force
Solar and Wind are not Dispatchable. They provide maximum output as nature provides when the wind blows and the sun shines, not as Citizen electricity demand requires
About 8-10% of petroleum is refined into Jet Fuel. Hydrogen fueled aircraft may be safe & practical some day, but that someday is decades away.
Fertilizer and food production uses between 2 and 5% of total primary energy. This cannot be replaced with wind and solar
The Transmission and Distribution network of the electric Grid is not setup for solar and wind systems. It takes time to permit, design and construct T&D systems
Oil, coal and natural gas provide raw materials for textiles, rubber, plastics and many other products that the world depends on
Coking coal is required to produce the best quality steel from iron ore
Cement production requires fuel for production
Nuclear power is the largest provider of carbon free energy, yet there is only one new nuclear plant under construction in the U.S. The Georgia Power Plant Vogtle Units 2 &3
All Fuels are Important and a Balanced Energy Portfolio is Preferred
America has been depending on coal power for many years. Although not appreciated by the media and even some Utility Exec’s, coal remains important. I will cite three examples below: First the U.S. Grid Electric Generation by fuel type for the weeks of September 25 -October 2, 2021 and from June 10- 16, 2022. Note the Dispatchable power of over 80% in both cases, with coal providing a significant portion of the generation. Also shown below are screen shots of actual generation by fuel for both the MISO and PJM RTO’s (Regional Transmission Operators)
The four illustrations above show examples of the importance of coal fuel to electric power generation for the lower 48 states, for the Midcontenent Independent System Operator and for the PJM Interconnection. All four examples show significant generation by Dispatchable power: coal, gas and nuclear. These four charts could be considered “A Balanced Generation Portfolio” By balanced, I mean fuel diversity of nuclear, gas, coal and renewables. This is good, however, the current U.S. Path is to shutdown many of the coal plants that were participating in the above “examples. Take a look at the EIA report that states 12.6 GW of coal plants to retire by 2022. (4)
Also, the recent closures of Palisades Nuclear Plant in Michigan and the William Zimmer 1300 MW coal plant near Cincinnati.
Coal, The American Treasure of Energy
When I was active in the American Coal Council we had an interesting speaker from the National Coal Council, on the coal, oil and gas reserves within the borders of the U.S. The speaker (Robert Beck) presented a study of using captured CO2 to force oil still trapped beneath Ohio’s old oil fields. As I recall, the presentation summary was that any place that coal is found, so is oil and gas. Thus, if you look at a map of U.S. coal deposits, sure enough, gas and oil has also been produced. Getting back to the National Coal Council presentation, the statement was made that about 3 million barrels a day of oil could be recovered from the “Old abandoned” Ohio Oil fields of decades ago, by using enhanced oil recovery of pressurizing the oil deposits with CO2 captured from the many coal plants in Ohio.(5) Here below is an illustration of world coal reserves. It could be said, the U.S. likely has the largest fossil fuel reserves in the world. The statement made by a coal expert that I heard ten years ago seems true, “Wherever there is coal, so is there oil and gas”. Texas, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and North Dakota all have coal and all have had significant oil and gas production since Hydraulic Fracturing combined with directional drilling has been utilized.
Why should our politicians cripple our economy over the politically inspired (not Environmental protection driven) U.N. -IPCC, Paris agreement?(56,57,58,59)America can be Energy Independent. We were in 2020 and we can do it again!
Meanwhile in China
China is the world’s largest producer of aluminum and steel. They also are the largest manufacturing nation on the planet. This manufacturing might is powered mostly by coal power. China gets it and they are diligently working toward a “Balanced Generation Portfolio” of coal, nuclear, wind, solar and gas.(51, 52, 53) Russia is conveniently in an excellent geographic and economic position to supply coal, oil, nuclear and gas to China to power their industrial output.
China is a large country that is committed to increasing the size of their economy. Powering manufacturing requires large amounts of reliable, reasonable cost electricity generation. China has a truly “Balanced Portfolio of Generation Capacity”, including nuclear as shown above and also enormous amounts of renewable power from the Three Gorges Hydroelectric plant which is over 22 GW in capacity, as well as wind, solar and coal. I thought I should interject the energy facts regarding China’s Bulk Power Generation, because competing with them will require reasonable cost Bulk Power here. Especially for energy intensive manufacturing such as aluminum smelting and other primary metals production.
Conclusions from Excerpts of Vaclav Smil book, “Power Density” on the Use of Wind, Water and Solar to Generate most of Our Electricity
Vaclav Smil has written many books on Energy, Power and Electricity generation. His book “POWER DENSITY” for this discussion is particularly relevant. Copied below are excerpts from the final chapter of “POWER DENSITY”:
“What Would it Take”
“If you are willing to engage in unbounded science and engineering fiction, then acccording to Jacobson and Delucchi (2011), this is what it would take to supply the world with 100% renewable energy in 2030 by using electricity (generated by wind, water and solar PV installations) and electrolytic hydrogen for all purposes: 3.8 million 5-MW wind turbines, 49,000 300-MW central solar plants, 1.7 billion 3-kW rooftop PV installations, 5,350 100-MW geothermal plants, 270 new 1.3 GW hydro stations, 720,000 0.75-MW wave devices and 490,000 1-MW tidal turbines. All of that will require only about 0.4% of the world’s land for its footprint and 0.6% for spacing, and we are assured that the barriers to the plan are primarily social and political, not technological or economic as the energy cost in a new wind-water-solar world should be similar to that today” (The above is quoting from Jacobson and Delucchi)
Smil continues (from pg 244, Power Density)
“These assurances asides, the simplest reality check shows the fictional nature of these assumptions. In 2013 the worldwide capacity in wind turbines reached 330 GW, while 13 TW (40 times as much) would be needed by 2030. Total rooftop and large plant PV capacity reached about 100 GW, but 17.1 TW of these installations would be required (170 times as much); moreover, there was not a single 300-MW solar PV plant (five plants rated between 200-250 MW), whereas 40,000 would be needed by 2030. In 2013 there was only one central solar power facility rated at more than 300 MW, Ivanpah, at 392 MW, but nearly 5,000 such facilities would be needed by 2030 (an increase of four orders of magnitude). There were fewer than 50 geothermal stations rated at more than 100 MW, but 5,350 would be needed (a 100-fold increase). Pelamis (2014, the world’s most advanced wave energy company, produced six 0.75 MW devices by the beginning of 2014, but 720,000 would need to be operating by 2030 (an increase of five orders of magnitude). Finally, by 2013 there were fewer than ten small tidal stations with aggregate installed power of much less than 1 GW, while 490 GW would have to generate by 2030 (two orders of magnitude more).
Such ramping-up of all kinds of capacities-design, permitting, financing, engineering, construction, all going up between one and five orders of magnitude in less than two decades-is far, far beyond anything that has been witnessed in less than two decades-is far, far beyond anything that has been witnessed in more than a century of developing modern energy systems. And that still leaves out two other key facts, namely, that such a gargantuan renewable energy system would need an enormous expansion of high-voltage transmission and would require the creation of an entirely new, hydrogen-based society. I am still not sure how we would fly with hydrogen (or electricity) or smelt pig iron. In any case the chances of a 100% water-wind-solar world to be ready by 2030 are nil, but it is worth while exploring what it would (realistically) take to create an increasingly nonfossil global energy system.” The preceding “What Would it Take” is a direct quotation from Smil’s book, pages 243-245.
Summary & Conclusions:
In my opinion, Vaclav Smil in the preceding paragraphs captured the essence of the fictional engineering that can create a path to Net-Zero Carbon by 2050. In the references that follow, Donn Dears and others have come to similar conclusions on the futility of achieving Net-Zero Carbon.
With regard to Anthropogenic Climate Change, I have included some references from expert Climate and Atmospheric Scientists that know the topic well.(2,7,8,9,10,12,13,15,16,56,58,59)
Climate Policies and the UN-IPCC are driven by politics and not by science or a sincere interest in saving the planet. Some references which support this claim are also included for further reading.(56,58,59)
I will close with seven conclusions, which are:
The Economic Harm to the U.S. if the Path to Net-Zero Carbon with solar and wind and without nuclear power as a major component, will weaken the U.S.A. and harm our capability to compete in world markets. Especially competing with China and the rest of the world in manufacturing.(2, 3, 4, 7, 8 & 9)
Dispatchable Coal Plants should not be shut down until they are replaced by proven and commissioned “Dispatchable” generating capacity. Shutting down 12.6MW of coal plants as planned, will lead to Blackouts and Brownouts(4,22,25, 26, 27)
Depending on wind and solar to replace the existing 2022 still operational coal and nuclear plants will lead to increased electricity costs as well as reduced reliability(14, 36)
China is the world’s largest manufacturer and will remain ahead of the U.S. and gain further if the U.S. continues down the Net-Zero Carbon Path(17, 18, 19, 28)
America invented nuclear power (Rickover) for peaceful purposes and was the world leader in developing nuclear power for peaceful purposes. We have lost that lead and China and Russia are building more nuclear power plants in the world than the U.S. Most of our problems are unessessary Federal Regulations(11, 51,53,57)
Energy Independence plus reasonable cost, abundant and Dispatchable Electricity are pre-requisites for a strong economy and a strong National Defense. America should expand and increase our treasures of nuclear, coal, oil and gas forms of energy to reachieve Energy Independence.(5)
The U.S. should use all of the energy resources within our borders to be 100% Energy Independent. This includes the Treasure of Coal Energy which we know how to burn cleanly.(30, 31, 32)
Dick Storm, July 4th, 2022
References for Further Reading:
Vaclav Smil Book, “POWER DENSITY” The MIT Press 2015
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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: (https://alucycle.world-aluminium.org/public-access/) 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 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.
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.
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.