Week in review – Energy edition

by Judith Curry A few things that caught my eye this past week.

The EPA’s growing battle with the corn and ethanol industry [link]

6 new things happening with biofuels [link]

A new look for nuclear power [link]

How California plans to put distributed energy on the grid [link]

250 B.C. to 2015 & beyond, take a look back at where battery technology has taken us & where it’s going: [link]

A big new study finds that residential energy efficiency isn’t nearly as cost-effective as we thought: [link]  …

Efforts to trim the 10% of our greenhouse gas emissions that come from agriculture: [link]  …

All choked up: did Britain’s dirty air make me dangerously ill? Very interesting article, I was unaware of the diesel fuel issue [link]

Report: Cost For ERCOT and Xcel to Integrate Wind and Solar is Less Than Expected via @greentechmedia [link]

Can OPEC kill off the shale industry? [link]

Bangladesh & India sign boundary deal for cooperation on #nuclear power [link]

EPA study of US cost difference from hi/low greenhouse scenarios shows lag time of mitigation payoff: [link]  …

UNFCCC Lancet Commission: Tackling climate change could be the greatest global health opportunity of this century [link]

183 responses to “Week in review – Energy edition

  1. Can one describe the Vox piece, looking “only” 35 years into the future, as short term thinking?

    “Forethought we may have, undoubtedly, but not foresight.

    Napoleon Bonaparte

  2. Your link to “battery technology” is an advertisement for Texas Instruments battery management. Kinda short and superficial. It might be nice for planingengineer to send you a synopsis of the major events happening in the field of electrical energy production/consumption/regulation from the perspective of veteran. Use what you find relevant if you are interested in a particular view point.

  3. In an upcoming Supreme Court decision next week (they’re on a roll), they will decide on the EPA regulation of mercury and toxins from coal plants. The complaint against the EPA is that they didn’t consider cost when making their regulation recommendation for those toxins. The defense is that cost should not be a factor in regulating toxins, and it isn’t for private industry. The plaintiffs are saying it is a special case for utilities. Clearly their case is nonsense. If you find a utility company is spewing toxins, you regulate it regardless of cost, same as you would for an industry. You can’t say that they can pollute as much as they want because it is too expensive to stop them. In fact the added cost of mitigation is only 3% of their annual revenue.

    • The CEO of Peabody Coal hired one of Obama’s former constitutional law professors (a liberal icon to boot) to argue in behalf of the coal industry and ‘free market rules’. I hope the guy demanded cash up front because S&P just downgraded Peabody’s debt to triple C-. The equity is headed towards being de-listed at this rate. Peabody was also a major funding source for the Heartland Institute so they got to be watching the collapse of capital in the resource extraction business.

      • David L. Hagen

        Leigh Thompson’s testimony: Regulation and Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions summarized:

        Constitutional scholar and liberal icon Laurence Tribe testified in March before the U.S. House committee on Energy and Commerce. He asserted that “[the CPP’s] submissive role for the States confounds the political accountability that the 10th Amendment is meant to protect. The EPA’s plan will force States to adopt policies that will raise energy costs and prove deeply unpopular, while cloaking those policies in the Emperor’s garb of state choice[.]” “Such sleight of hand,” Tribe says,“offends democratic principles by avoiding political transparency and accountability.”6

        Laurence Tribe, Testimony of Laurence H. Tribe, EPA’s Proposed 111(d) Rule for Existing Power Plants: Legal and Cost Issues, House Committee on Energy and Commerce: Subcommittee on Energy and Power, 34 (17 Mar. 2015).

        The Environmental Protection Agency’s “Clean Power Plan” would command every State by the year 2016 to develop a package of EPA-approved laws requiring coal-fired power plants to shut down or reduce operations, consumers and businesses to use less electricity and pay more for it, and utilities to shift from coal to other energy sources  a total overhaul of each State’s way of life. Noncomplying States would face sanctions, including the potential loss of federal highway funds, and the takeover of their energy sectors by an inflexible federal plan of uncertain scope that would inflict significant economic damage.
        EPA lacks the statutory and constitutional authority to adopt its plan. The obscure section of the Clean Air Act that EPA invokes to support its breathtaking exercise of power in fact authorizes only regulating individual plants and, far from giving EPA the green light it claims, actually forbids what it seeks to do. Even if the Act could be stretched to usurp state sovereignty and confiscate business investments the EPA had previously encouraged and in some cases mandated, as this plan does, theduty to avoid clashing with the Tenth and Fifth Amendments would prohibit such stretching.
        EPA possesses only the authority granted to it by Congress. It lacks “implied” or “inherent” powers. Its gambit here raises serious questions under the separation of powers, Article I, and Article III, because EPA is attempting to exercise lawmaking power that belongs to Congress and judicial power that belongs to the federal courts. The absence of EPA legal authority in this case makes the Clean Power Plan, quite literally, a “power grab.”
        EPA is attempting an unconstitutional trifecta: usurping the prerogatives of the States, Congress and the Federal Courts  all at once. Burning the Constitution should not become part of our national energy policy.

      • Thank you David, I have read it. He is relying heavily on a States Rights defense and that’s a good tactic with the Robert’s court. The supreme court has been pretty good to business in the past and if this case fails I would say the economic argument won the day.
        X-Factor. Fate may have an ace up her sleeve since 6 of the Judges are Catholic and the pope maybe the most popular human alive at the moment so check with your bookie first

      • PS: You have to hand it to Tribes with his claim about “confiscate business investments”. The resource extraction business is flying with out a net. They are loosing self bonding status because they don’t have the money to reclaim or rehabilitate the land they have already mined. I think this time we should just leave them as ATV parks and sell tickets to the rubes.

      • I must have read my tea leafs right. The EPA lost the mercury pollution law.
        Consider the timing of the Supreme Court’s passing judgement on the EPA just a week after the Pope declared climate change one of the defining issues facing humanity.
        It was a strong affirmation that capitalism trumps religion in the USA and that’s a good thing. Capitalism always chooses the low cost option and considering the trajectory of renewable energy and smart grids the future is not centralized fossil fueled power plants.
        On the down side Scalia may have booked himself a room in Hades if there is a god and the pope rats him out.

    • What if the rate of mercury emission is less than the mercury from your dental fillings?

      Is zero a good goal?

      • What a question. Do you prefer zero or some when it comes to releasing toxins?

      • Well, the background concentration of mercury isn’t zero. It is about 60 PPB. So zero is an irrational target.

      • Zero was a straw man added by someone above.

      • Jim D,

        A potential problem might be the definition of a toxin.

        For some people, one virus particle can cause death. For others, exposure to billions may have no effect.

        In small doses, strychnine is an appetite stimulant. Fatal in large doses.

        With regard to elements, no one knows precisely how much zinc, iron, phosphorus, selenium or even lead, cadmium or mercury, may be necessary for an individual human to maintain health from time to time.

        I have several mercury amalgam fillings, but I don’t worry about the toxic effects. I don’t worry about the amount of asbestos particles released into the air from friction linings of many sorts being worn away doing their job. And no, even the EPA has not banned the use of asbestos in many areas.

        It’s an individual decision, I figure. Anaphylactic shock can kill without warning, even due to something you have had no problem with in the past, so you can’t cover every possibility.

        I agree about cleaning up power station emissions, but it seems logical to ask consumers if they are prepared to pay any additional costs involved. The nanny state works on the principle that the population is so stupid that the government has to make the decisions for them. I know I’m dumb, but I’d rather be asked than told, at least initially.

      • How much Mercury does burning wood put out?

        Aren’t forest fires the source of most of the Mercury in the air?

      • @Mike Flynn
        ‘I have several mercury amalgam fillings, but I don’t worry about the toxic effects.’

        … well, this is what mercury does, in a short time… Ain’t pretty, uh?


        In that case the corporation also tried to minimize its responsibilities…

      • “PA | June 28, 2015 at 9:40 pm |
        Well, the background concentration of mercury isn’t zero. It is about 60 PPB. So zero is an irrational target.

        Jim D | June 28, 2015 at 10:26 pm |
        Zero was a straw man added by someone above.”

        Nope, Zero tolerance isn’t a strawman, it is a noble cause or an ideal reference depending on your semantic mood. Estimates put natural atmospheric Mercury sources at around 50%. Northern Hemisphere atmospheric Mercury is about 1/3 higher than Southern Hemisphere, so possibly 1/3 of atmospheric Mercury is industry/FF related. Completely eliminating FF Mercury Emissions could reduce atmospheric Mercury by 33%, eliminating ALL anthropogenic sources could reduce atmospheric Mercury by 50%. Moderately heroic regulation may produce a 15% to 20% reduction.

        The largest sources of methyl Mercury in the US diet are deep water fish, Tuna, Sword and Tiles. Southern Hemisphere tuna seem to be slightly higher in Mercury than NH which indicates submarine volcanic sources are a big deal. The more expensive fish, Sword and White Meat Tuna tend to have the highest concentrations (except for sharks) so Mercury in US diet is a bit of a rich person problem not a problem of the masses. It is quite likely that zero Mercury emissions from coal will have no measurable impact on diet related Mercury.

        In the US, Arsenic in Texas rice is more likely a bigger heath concern than US industrial/FF Mercury emissions. China though has areas with lots of Mercury mining and processing.


        Now JimD, exactly how much bang can we expect from your 3% buck?

    • It’s complicated. There are two cases, but the Peabody (carbon) case has not reached the Supreme Court yet, only the mercury case. They are intertwined.

      • rogerknights

        An article in Reason magazine quotes the SC’s majority decision at http://reason.com/blog/2015/06/29/in-mercury-case-supreme-court-rules-that

        “EPA found power-plant regulation “appropriate” because the plants’ emissions pose risks to public health and the environment and because controls capable of reducing these emissions were available. It found regulation “necessary” because the imposition of other Clean Air Act requirements did not eliminate those risks. The Agency refused to consider cost when making its decision. It estimated, however, that the cost of its regulations to power plants would be $9.6 billion a year, but the quantifiable benefits from the resulting reduction in hazardous-air-pollutant emissions would be $4 to $6 million a year. …

        “The costs to power plants were thus between 1,600 and 2,400 times as great as the quantifiable benefits from reduced emissions of hazardous air pollutants. …

        “..the phrase “appropriate and necessary” requires at least some attention to cost. One would not say that it is even rational, never mind “appropriate,” to impose billions of dollars in economic costs in return for a few dollars in health or environmental benefits. In addition, “cost” includes more than the expense of complying with regulations; any disadvantage could be termed a cost. EPA’s interpretation precludes the Agency from considering any type of cost—including, for instance, harms that regulation might do to human health or the environment. The Government concedes that if the Agency were to find that emissions from power plants do damage to human health, but that the technologies needed to eliminate these emissions do even more damage to human health, it would still deem regulation appropriate. See Tr. of Oral Arg. 70. No regulation is “appropriate” if it does significantly more harm than good.”

      • So they can’t stop polluting because it is too expensive to. Senseless decision. Typical pro-corporation anti-people mindset at work. The cost was also only 3% of revenue, so they could have slightly raised the price of coal if they had to, but no, let’s just have the mercury instead.

      • Jim D wrote, “So they can’t stop polluting because it is too expensive to.”

        This is a variation of the, “If we save just one life, it will be worth it” argument.

      • If it costs 3% to stop pollution, we can’t afford it, they say. How about 1% then? No, they are just looking for excuses. Thankfully the pollution is being reduced by responsible coal plants anyway and it is only the deadbeats who couldn’t care less about putting mercury in the environment that are bringing this case.

      • Jim D:

        All they have to do is a cost benefit analysis at the beginning of the rule making process.

        This ruling is not saying they cannot make a rule – just that they did it wrong this time.

      • The argument is that the costs come in at the later stages of regulation, not in the finding of whether to regulate.

      • Jim D:

        Right – and bringing the costs in at the later stages of rule making is what was done wrong.

        So they can try again and do the rule properly this time and maybe it will not have a different outcome.

        Or maybe – if they do a proper cost/benefit they will decide not to do a rule – or a different rule – hard to say.

      • I meant maybe it will have a different outcome . . .

      • Jim D

        The court simply stated that the EPA needs to consider both the costs and benefits of proposed regulations.

      • The rule had the word “appropriate” that the industry wanted to interpret as cost. If it meant cost it would have said cost, but no, it came to the 5-4 interpretation. Appropriate means the health costs of the pollution, not the cost of the yet-to-be-determined cure. EPA doesn’t base recommendations on what to regulate on how much exactly it costs. It is the question to try to regulate or not at this stage.

      • JimD, “If it costs 3% to stop pollution, we can’t afford it, they say. How about 1% then? No, they are just looking for excuses. ”

        You are not stopping pollution you are reducing emission of some pollutants. It cost x billion to reduce pollutant y by so percentage. That reduction “may” have a positive health impact worth more of less than x.


        That is one attempt to put a value on negative externalizes. For that particular power park it works out to a little less than a dime a megawatt. Of course there is no mention of the positive impact of the 1358 megawatts, and the biggie is that maybe 10 people per year might die prematurely and their reduced lifespan is worth about $7.2 Mil a pop.

        In Duval County there are about 3000 CP deaths per year with about 300 attributed to PM10 so the SJRPP can take credit for about 10. (older report, http://www.nrdc.org/air/pollution/bt/FL.asp ) If you completely eliminate the SJRPP, you couldn’t find a statistically significant health impact. You reach a point of no financial return no matter who plays with the numbers.

      • The latest SCOTUS ruling in EPA matters maybe a stumbling block to EPA’s long effort to destroy the coal industry. The Endangerment Finding (which the SCOTUS let stand) declared CO2 to be a poison and, labeling CO2 as a poison was to kill coal because burning coal produces CO2. The Endangerment Finding didn’t kill coal. Then EPA rule-making required a permit for coal fired utilities to invest any more than 15% of plant value in upgrades. Requiring a permit from EPA limited utilities on what they could do as to investing in newer technologies to burn coal more efficiently as well as install pollution control system. Both upgrades would extend the utilities plant life. EPA wouldn’t issue permits. The EPA latest rule on smoke stack pollutants like mercury was yet another effort to ban utilities from burning coal, hence emit mercury since utilities didn’t have the pollution controls installed, because, the EPA wouldn’t issue permits to upgrade; the so called ” Catch 22.” The coal fired utilities went ahead and installed pollution controlling measures that were cheap and efficient. These measures reduced mercury and other pollutants substantially from smoke stacks. This is why the cost benefit argument worked for the utilities’ case. The $9.6 billion of added cost to achieve EPA’s mercury threshold is not cost effective for $4 million in a calculated gain. The utilities had lowered mercury emission sufficiently low that extraordinary costs would be necessary to remove the last traces of mercury from the smoke stack.

        EPA has other zero tolerance limits for substances, but that is a topic for another day.

      • The health gain was estimated to be 3-10 times the cost, but that wasn’t good enough. Perhaps the SC did not want to consider health gains at this point in the process, just costs. Where does the cost-benefit analysis stop, just at the cost part? They made a mess of the law here by misinterpreting the single word ‘appropriate’ from ‘appropriate and necessary’. Necessary maybe, but ‘appropriate’ kills it. Cost isn’t even a consideration when judging whether an industry is polluting. They just have to stop whatever the cost. They are trying to make a special case for utility industries.

  4. Pingback: Week in review – Energy edition | Enjeux énergies et environnement

  5. “All choked up: did Britain’s dirty air make me dangerously ill? Very interesting article, I was unaware of the diesel fuel issue”

    “One who did understand was David Fisk, chief scientist and policy director in the departments of both the environment and transport in the 1990s. He recalls that there was “concern” in government when it was proposed that diesel be backed over petrol.”

    So did my father, he was Deputy General of research for the Dept of Environment, and Director of the Road Research Laboratory before that, but had retired several years before this happened. He thought it a very unwise decision.
    I have always been amazed how many people that considered themselves to be environmental aware or green, insisted on diesel powered cars. It hardly smells of roses, and we have all seen the clouds of fumes from buses and taxis.

    Just previous to this, Margaret Thatcher has made large cuts to the already tiny Inspectorate of Pollution, leaving them with such a low moral that the head Brian Ponsford took his own life:

  6. “He notes that it’s still not entirely clear why Michigan’s weatherization program didn’t save nearly as much energy as modelers had predicted — a fact he calls “unsettling.””

    Just goes to show, there are “models”, “models”, and “climatology”.

    Some are useful, and some are pretty much wishful thinking. The trick is being able to distinguish which is which, before you’ve wasted billions of dollars.

    • Mike,
      I still want to know why you have decided not to have a smart meter. If your utility has deployed smart meters it’s not just a opt-out option. It cost $$ to send out a meter reader every month so it doesn’t seem rational to avoid them.

      • I have smart meter but not by choice. They installed them here and that was all there was to it. Smart meters worry me because it is such a short move from a smart meter to having someone else control your thermostat or adding a carbon tax based on consumption as computed by a smart meter or deciding when you can draw energy based onto e greater good. We have begun using a parallel solar system, i.e. one that is totally independent of the one providing utility electricity and we are currently using the solar system for all rechargeable stuff and a few low draw appliances. The cost of integrating our system with the hydro company is far too high and I prefer the separation anyway. (They charge hundreds to thousands for the engineering study they require and that can also take months to complete.) My hope is as we expand the solar we can expand the second system and the use more and more of our own power without involving the utility at all.

      • You can bet I’ll jump on the first chance I get to go off the grid with a viable battery system. I designed my system oversized to factor in a battery system plus a normal PV 25 year degradation and still supply 110% of my base average usage (2007-2011). I’m shedding over a megawatt a year into the grid so at least someone benefits for now.

      • jacksmith4tx,

        Sorry I didn’t get round to answering before.

        For the same reason I declined the offer to have a free PV system installed by the Government, I guess. I figured I’d wait for a while, and see how my next door neighbour fared. He took up the offer – who wouldn’t? Totally free, what could possibly go wrong?

        Suffice it to say, I’m content with declining the installation of the free PV system.

        One state that went with the economic modelling, and didn’t offer an opt out option for smart metering, is apparently regretting its decision, due to voter disenchantment.

        Taking everything into account, I am happy to continue as I am. If circumstances change, I might reconsider. As they say, you pays your money, you takes your chances. You might come to a different decision if your circumstances are different.

      • Thanks Mike,
        I guess this whole thing about is more about principles than economics then.To each his own. Good luck.

      • Was visiting my all-solar neighbours again the other night. It’s always fun to see what can be rigged up, and I like that sort of alternate thing. (In their case, the grid was not available when they started building.)

        The son who had set up the projector for our viewing of the rugby league game was complaining about problems with powering a desktop and he was thinking of buying a new laptop with better battery life. This surprised me, but I’ve often noticed that appliances and other amenities cost them much more, have to be bought new most of the time, and require more fiddling and fuss – though I’m sure if they spent even more time and money the desktop issue could be resolved. What can’t you do with enough heavy manufacturing, coal power and money, right?

        I go all-grid and all-electric apart from some local timber for the slow-combustion in winter. Any device works, and running a computer is a simple matter of saving a half dead old thing and putting some flavour of Linux on it. I’ve also done without a vehicle for long stretches, since I don’t have to fetch my power. In short, I live light and recycle without the slightest urge to be green. Don’t praise me, praise coal. Ah, the grid!

        Of course, the real cost for my off-grid neighbours is in all the diesel, gas, wood, wear and tear on (two) heavy vehicles, trailers, chainsaws, cylinders etc etc. Then there’s all that perishing solar hardware, especially batteries. Ah, the off-grid!

        Having lived before with all-solar, I’d like to go off-grid again purely as an expensive hobby. But I would never delude myself that I was saving money or emissions, let alone the silly bloody planet.

    • Steven Mosher

      That is the whole point of randomized testing. http://www.vox.com/2015/6/26/8849695/weatherization-e2e-study-response

      • Steven Mosher,

        I am of the view that, if possible, you find out as early as possible whether your program is proceeding as intended, whether based on models or not.

        This should avoid the following type of thing –

        “And yet, in this particular study, the economists found that the federal home weatherization program was not a particularly cheap way to reduce CO2 emissions. Although energy use (and hence carbon pollution) from the homes studied did go down, it came at a cost of about $329 per ton of carbon. That’s much higher than the $38-per-ton value of the social cost of carbon that the US federal government uses to evaluate the costs and benefits of climate policies.”

        You obviously disagree about the value of monitoring from the start. I’m glad it’s your money your Government is apparently wasting, and not mine. Same with the climate modelling. What’s a good few billion dollars more or less, if it all turns out to be completely useless?

        And there has been precious little of value demonstrated so far, wouldn’t you agree?

      • Steven Mosher

        another “flynn”

        “I am of the view that, if possible, you find out as early as possible whether your program is proceeding as intended, whether based on models or not.”

      • Steven Mosher

        “And there has been precious little of value demonstrated so far, wouldn’t you agree?”



      • Steven Mosher,

        I apologise for not being clearer.

        I was referring to climatology (the supposed science of examining the average weather), when I asked if you agreed that there was precious little of value obtained from the supposed science.

        Even worse, you can’t even define this wondrous “climate” as anything except the average of events which have already happened.

        You believe that “climate science” is of value, but you can’t actually specify a single instance of its achievements, specific to the field

        What next? Shoe sizeology? You could spend years calculating, revising, estmating and generally conducting any number of pointless exercises relating to average shoe sizes, globally or otherwise!

        Go for it.

      • Steven Mosher

        “I was referring to climatology (the supposed science of examining the average weather), when I asked if you agreed that there was precious little of value obtained from the supposed science.”


        Climatology is used every day. lots of value.

        I use it every day. If you want to buy climatology I can direct you to people who sell it. The market says flynn is wrong.

        if you want to buy forecasts.. join coke and walmart autozone


        basic stuff.

        When people have to make money, they use what works and ignore flynn

      • Steven Mosher

        “What next? Shoe sizeology? You could spend years calculating, revising, estmating and generally conducting any number of pointless exercises relating to average shoe sizes, globally or otherwise!”

        Pointless? hardly. especially if I have to do planning on leather purchases.

      • Steven Mosher,

        Look in your local newspaper. You will probably find an astrology section.
        Now locate the climatology section.

        Can you guess which one newspaper proprietors pay for and print?

        I note your example link contains a claim of 85% accuracy. It may be coincidence, but the rate of success of a naive forecast (as performed by an unskilled 12 year old with 5 minutes instruction), is given as between 70% and 90%, depending on circumstances.

        I also note –


        . . . University of Miami and West Point PhD Climatologist’s prove WTI’s year-ahead forecasts are several times more accurate than NOAA ”

        Gee. Why bother with NOAA?

        You still haven’t provided a benefit to mankind of “climate science”. You probably never will, but you never know. Miracles happen. Ask the Pope.

      • Steven Mosher,

        You need less clangers, more zingers!

        You wrote –

        “Pointless? hardly. especially if I have to do planning on leather purchases”

        OK. Here’s your task, oh mighty leather purchaser. The average global shoe size, as determined by Mosher’s Institute of Shoesizeology is 42m.

        How much leather will we need? What’s that? You need more information?

        Stop whining! You said all you needed was the global average shoe size. You’re fired!

      • Isn’t it something like this, weather/days ahead > climatology/years ahead > radiative physics/decades ahead? All integrated in some way. Longer into the future requires lower level physics?

      • Steven Mosher

        “How much leather will we need? What’s that? You need more information?”

        1. You always need MORE information.
        2. Planning means you make the most of the limited information you
        3. Given an average shoe size of 42cm. ( or 11) each will consume
        three square feet of leather. If your last year global leather shoe
        sales where 1 million, go do the math. If you plan on growing market
        share, then adjust accordingly. If last years average shoe size was smaller, adjust accordingly.

        The trick is making the most of the limited information you have.

        more flynn:

        “I note your example link contains a claim of 85% accuracy. It may be coincidence, but the rate of success of a naive forecast (as performed by an unskilled 12 year old with 5 minutes instruction), is given as between 70% and 90%, depending on circumstances.”

        Wrong: it’s more like 10%

        The proof of course is in the facts

        “Our clients love us. Over the past 13 years we have provided accurate and actionable weather intelligence on 1000’s of seasonal categories, equities and commodities, yielding over $1 billion in ROI for our clients.”

        Now, if flynn things that he can beat 85%… he could make billions.

        For example; a 1F change in temperature increases beer sales by 1.2%
        mouse traps 6%

        The system basically works like this

        For every category of product in retail you have a seasonally adjusted demand.

        This is HISTORY: for example in the 26th working week you will sell
        10,015 units.

        That sales history is used to create a naive forecast which drives purchasing and inventory.

        But a naive forecast can be wildly wrong if the product sales are weather driven. I see weekly errors of over 100%. That means stock outs and lost sales. So rather than flying blind, we try to know the future.
        Any improvement over naive is useful.

        big dollars.

        like I said the market knows the future. flynnn not so much

      • We use climatology to design offshore platforms and pipelines. For example, when we build offshore pipelines in the Arctic we have to consider the ice scour on the sea floor. In some areas we see deep scours from ice keels, so the trick is to figure out their age, what was the climate like, and what’s the probability of getting an iceberg or an ice ridge to repeat the event.

    • “He notes that it’s still not entirely clear why Michigan’s weatherization program didn’t save nearly as much energy as modelers had predicted — a fact he calls “unsettling.””

      Just goes to show, there are “models”, “models”, and “climatology”.

      Probably not.

  7. From the Biofuels article written by Pat Adams from the Department of Energy …

    Rapid advancements in biofuels science have reduced the cost per gallon from $400,000 to $6. Soon that number will be even lower, making it competitive with today’s fossil fuels.

    Call back when “soon” arrives — fossil fuel prices have been falling too.

    • Well, Roving you missed the important question:

      How much rainforest should we destroy and how many people should we starve to make biofuels?

      The 40% US corn biofuels program contributed mightily to the middle-east unrest that started as food riots.

      The major driver for rainforest destruction is sugar cane for ethanol and palm oil for biodiesel.

      • PA — Why do you (and Others) keep on quoting the 40% number on corn and ethanol? Why doesn’t Distiller Grains matter to you? Why doesn’t the math of “gross” versus “net” matter to you? Please explain why DDGs are just not important.

      • Stephen Segrest,

        I assume you are talking about a byproduct from the ethanol process.

        DDGs are only important to buyers if they are cost effective. However, (from BEEF magazine), conditions are constantly changing –

        “It’s been said that the more things change, the more they stay the same. While that may be true in many cases, the opposite happens when the item that’s changing is a byproduct such as distiller’s grains. Indeed, for cattlemen who use distiller’s grains as a protein and energy supplement for wintering cows or stockers, or in feedyard rations, changes in the nutrient profile of the byproduct could well be a game changer.”

        The distillers try to extract more value in the first instance. The byproduct therefore retains less value. When the cost of transportation and distribution costs exceeds the value of the byproduct, the DDGs become waste, and effectively valueless. Giant piles may wind up littering the landscape, as the distillers will pay the lowest disposal costs possible.

        Maybe the EPA has taken this possibility into account. I don’t know. I do know that sometimes things turn out to have unexpected outcomes or consequences.

      • Stephen Segrest | June 27, 2015 at 10:45 pm |
        PA — Please explain the economics of the below story to me: http://www.agweb.com/article/biggest-us-corn-stockpile-since-1988-seen-pushing-prices-lower-blmg/

        Oh, thats easy.

        I was originally a farm boy.

        Farmers break even 1/3 of the time, have a boom year 1/3 of the time, and have a bust 1/3 of the time.

        They don’t happen in sequential rotation.

        The question is what is happening to the the multiple year average. If you pull enough grain out of the system, the average price goes up.

        Ethanol was 1% of us fuel in 2000, 3% in 2006 and 10% in 2011 (and is still increasing), what happened to corn prices?

        The argument has been made that ethanol has more than doubled the average corn price.


        An interesting perspective that raises a number of points (I don’t agree with all the points but that’s life). The big issue is there is a lot of ground water irrigation that is going to become increasingly hard to maintain.

        Without more atmospheric CO2 to reduce plant water consumption food supply could become somewhat problematic.

      • Mike Flynn — I could provide a gazillion links as to the importance of Distiller Grains and their established markets — but it just would not matter to many here at CE. I could never provide the “perfect” argument.

      • Senator Grassley does a “Fact Check” — but here at CE, he of course has no credibility:

      • Stephen Segrest | June 27, 2015 at 11:37 pm |
        Mike Flynn — I could provide a gazillion links as to the importance of Distiller Grains and their established markets — but it just would not matter to many here at CE. I could never provide the “perfect” argument.

        Well… the distiller grains argument is interesting, but from the numbers over 70% of the corn volume is lost to ethanol production. Also we seem to be exporting about 40% of the DGS.


        The other issue is they are stripping out the oil and using it to make biodiesel which makes the DGS less nutritious and reduces its volume.

      • Eastern South Dakota has a lot of ethanol plants and a lot of cattle. The farmers and ranchers… I wonder if they have ever experienced better times. I know lawyers and doctors who are envious of the rich brother who stayed on the farm. That did not happen when I was growing up. The dullards stayed; the smart kids moved to the city and got rich in a profession like law or medicine.

      • “The 40% US corn biofuels program contributed mightily to the middle-east unrest that started as food riots.”

        I don’t believe this is the root cause of unrest in a region that seems to love living in unrest – witness the last 2,000 years over there. That being said, what’s the downside?

  8. All the concern about pollution in modern society, for everyone who dies early from second-hand smoke, just think of the billions of dollars lost to the vaping industry from their early demise.

  9. Re Corn and EPA battle: This is an absolutely classic example of why government should stay out of farming. Their created an artificial demand without considering the consequences. The environmental effects on subsidizing or encouraging monoculture are the same. I have personally seen it happen in Canada with wheat. To take advantage of subsidies farmers in the 60s were cutting down shelter belts, burying rock piles and draining sloughs on very marginal land and replacing them with more wheat acreage because of pressure from regulation. And let’s not forget that it when it was a choice for choosing between the science on cutting back on fats and the sincere for cutting back on carbs (especially in the form of glucose-fructose), government policy went with cutting back fats because promoting the carbs meant corn famers would be happy. The result of THAT lunacy is our current obesity epidemic.

    • I think it’s too late. Monsanto uses it legal monopoly in GMO grains to make sure the free market (them) have access to bushels of tax cash. Look up former Monsanto lawyer Clarence Thomas and his voting record. Lucky break for Monsanto to have friends in high places. All that aside GMO will be critical to the future of the planet so it’s important for our corporate citizens to behave ethically.

      • Monsanto….don’t get me started. My father-in-law used his own seed grain to avoid them. It didn’t actually affect his production compared to his neighbours because using your own seed grain costs so much less and I think over multiple generations his wheat was also locally adapted. He had an informal “club” of like minded farmers who would act as a bcak up in a bad year and they shared “good” seed around.

    • I continue to try and be polite on discussing ethanol here at CE — but you can not have a discussion on ethanol without addressing octane requirements.

      OK, Let’s eliminate ethanol. What do we replace it with for minimum octane requirements? Lead? MTBE? Benzine? What?

      Anybody can give an opinion. But what are the detailed studies that fully vet issues of “costs” and “environmental concerns” with the ethanol alternatives for octane? Why isn’t there a detail vetted study on this by Congress? (like the Congressional Budget Office).


      • Stephen:
        Your article says:
        “In the 1990’s, the U.S. EPA began requiring that lead be phased out of gasoline. Initially, this was achieved by using the high octane and oxygenate additive MTBE (derived from fossil fuels)”

        which is misleading.Actually TEL began to be phased out with introduction of unleaded fuel in 1974.

        The reduction in lead in gasoline in the United States came in response to two main factors: (1) the mandatory use of unleaded gasoline to protect catalytic converters in all cars starting with the 1975 model year; and (2) increased awareness of the negative human health effects of lead, leading to the phasedown of lead in leaded gasoline in the 1980s.
        Unleaded Mandate for All Cars Starting with 1975 Model Year
        As is summarized in Table 1, the phasedown of lead in gasoline began in 1974 when, under the authority of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1970, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) introduced rules requiring the use of unleaded gasoline in new cars equipped with catalytic converters. The introduction of catalytic converters for control of HC, NOx and CO emissions required that motorists use unleaded gasoline, because lead destroys the emissions control capacity of catalytic converters.

        A large proportion of the eventual phasedown of lead in gasoline is in fact attributable to the decreasing share of leaded gasoline that resulted from the transition to a new car fleet. This transition is shown in Figure 1.
        Figure 1. Share of Unleaded Gasoline in Total U.S. Production (Page26 )
        Figure 2. Lead Content in Leaded Gasoline (U.S. average)

        Note that TEL was already at minimal levels by 1988.

        Refineries increased pool octane capability with a number of process changes, such as
        1) increased naphtha reformer severity
        2) Light naphtha (C5C6) isomerization
        3) Enhanced conversion of light ends to high octane mogas components for example

        In addition to which Fluid Cat Cracker Octanes have increased over time with higher temp pure riser cracking (vs older bed cracking)

        “The octane of FCC gasoline can be increased by raising riser top temperature. The rule of thumb is 1 research octane number increase per 10 C. increase in temperature.23”

        all the best

      • Between 1992 and 2005, MTBE had been used at higher concentrations in some gasoline to fulfill the oxygenate requirements set by Congress in the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. (A few cities, such as Denver, used oxygenates (MTBE) at higher concentrations during the wintertime in the late 1980’s.)

  10. 6 new things in biofuels. I see the U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY is using the same set of creative writers and statistics manipulators as NOAA. I have not heard of anyone who produce commercial levels at $6 a galloon and if they did, how is that supposed to be competitive with the cost of fossil fuels? I for one don’t want to start paying over (likely well over) $6/gallon. I don’t think I am alone in this sentiment either.

  11. Federal energy-efficiency efforts were likely running way over cost due to multiple levels of administration and poor biased bidding processes for the work. Contractors who are dealing with the government tend to raise prices and do a sloppier job that they would for customers they have to deal with directly because, well it’s government.

  12. Comment on air pollution. As an asthmatic all kinds of things bother me but two in particular are a real problem when I am in the city and a good part of the reason I live in a rural town of 75. 1) Diesel fumes. 2) Air poisoners. I have to avoid anything with diesel fumes while out and about because they make me horribly ill. A traffic jam in a contraction zone is torture. Perfumes, aftershave, cologne, scented products in the laundry aisle, those little automatic air poisoning sprays of floral scent in public washrooms, those air-sick plug in things people insist on having in their homes, and those little solid hangy-on-the-rear-view mirror air poisoners all make me sick. I think if the world started regarding us asthmatics as proxies for the proverbial canary in the coal mine and took our misery as a sign of danger to everyone else, air pollution would be much less of an issue because people would not let it continue. The entire scent industry would also collapse. Oh well. Sulfur is out of diesel and public smoking is a thing of the past in most places. I should stop complaining.

    • “construction zone”, some days I think autocorrect is the devil’s tool

    • David Wojick

      Interesting, but EPA says all your problems are due to distant coal fired power plants.

    • David Wojick

      On reflection, FTTW, what you describe are allergies, not pollution. We are not going to stop using perfumes, or peanuts, or milk, or diesel, just because some people are allergic to them. You have an illness.

      • Actually that is mostly incorrect. Diesel is not something I am allergic to. It is an airborne irritant and health hazard for everyone. I am simply more sensitive than others and I react sooner. I agree partly on the allergies except that perfumes are carried on oils and alcohols or you wouldn’t be able to smell them those are also airborne particles and general irritants. Having allergies to certain flowers simply means I have an allergic reaction to certain scents in addition to responding to the irritant factor. So the air is being filled with irritants in addition to allergenic stuff. I see no reason for filling public washroom with irritants nor would any considerate person put on scent and then ride in a bus or elevator among other people simply because 5% of the population is allergic and/or sensitive. I would prefer people pass gas in public instead of using scent as that is transient and far less irritating.

  13. A new look for nuclear power [link]

    Here’s hoping.

  14. Re: The diesel fuel issue …

    Air Pollution and Cardiovascular Disease

    A Statement for Healthcare Professionals From the Expert Panel on Population and Prevention Science of the American Heart Association

    From the section Potential for Prevention/Public Policy …

    The increase in relative risk for cardiovascular disease due to air pollution for an individual is small compared with the impact of the established cardiovascular risk factors. However, because of the enormous number of people affected, even conservative risk estimates translate into a substantial increase in total mortality within the population.

    Published in 2004.

    The report was updated in 2010. It is interesting to note what was learned in the six years between publications and astonishing to see the volume of studies cited in the 2010 survey.

    AHA Scientific Statement
    Particulate Matter Air Pollution and Cardiovascular Disease
    An Update to the Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association


  15. All choked up: did Britain’s dirty air make me dangerously ill? Very interesting article, I was unaware of the diesel fuel issue [link]

    A few years back, the Green movement in Europe and UK persuaded complicit lawmakers to incentives a switch from petrol (gasoline) to diesel fuels because the diesel footprint was less than gasoline and diesel achieved 20% more miles per gallon. Of course there were unintended consequences in that diesel engines produce a prodigious amount of PM2.5 particles, the so call “respirable particles”. PM2.5 are inhaled deep into the lungs and can penetrate the alveolar gas exchange units and find their way into the blood stream. These black carbon particles carry the attached toxins that can cause cancer as well as inflammation of the arteries. The relevance of particulates causing artery inflammation becomes more important as the cholesterol etiology of arterial and heart disease has been shown to be false. Inflammation is the most likely reason for the significant heart disease in the world and why modifying diets to reduce cholesterol has not altered heart disease in the slightest.

    As the Europeans had bought the diesel switch hook line and sinker, the European cities began having more and more pollution from diesel engine powered vehicles: cars, buses, and trucks inhabiting their cities. As air quality measures progressively have gotten worse, eventually the political types began to declare against diesel vehicles in their cities.

    “The mayor of Paris on Sunday announced radical plans to ban diesel cars from the French capital by 2020 as part of an anti-pollution drive.” (December 2014)


    For people who work on diesel engines like mechanics, railroad workers, truck drives and those people living along side busy roadways, NIH and OSHA have long observed the health consequences of diesel engines. The information is not new, just like some inconvenient truths about climate change, this information didn’t get much press because of the CO2 scare.


    Imagine this: wouldn’t it be a hoot if heart disease were a major function of cigarette smoking in the middle of the 20th Century and air pollution because of the Green mania was responsible for keeping heart disease as a major health issue in the latter portion of the 20th and early 21st Century?

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    • RiH008, There is also an “other” issue involved with PM2.5. A study in Rotterdam indicates that 70% of the carbon in PM2.5 there is “biogenic” not fossil fuel sourced, based on C14 testing. Tire, road and break wear are even a larger source. So any “drastic” measure to reduce FF related PM2.5 is likely to be about half as effective as “projected”. Targeting PM2.5 is going to be a waste. Targeting specific elements of PM2.5 in order of most urgent will likely reveal some new demons like wood pellets, palm oils and other “sustainable” alternatives that involve combustion.

      • It is obviously very variable globally. Coal-powered states are the ones most affected according to the Harvard study.

      • Steven Mosher

        For EC the percentages were reversed at 17% and 83%.

        The fraction of pm2.5 that comes from the burning of fossil fuels

        1. Spatially dependent
        2. Seasonally dependent.

        Rotterdam is not the world
        4 weeks is not a lifetime.

        We have ( are creating) a pretty good database on concentrations in well instrumented parts of the world.
        The missing link ( work continues) on sources.

        Once those two come together in estimating the amount that comes from FF will be easier and we wont have to rely on short time span studies over limited geography

      • Steven Mosher,

        “well instrumented parts of the world.” Is not the world. Like Amsterdam is not the world.

        Just thought I’d let you know, in case you missed it.

      • > “well instrumented parts of the world.” Is not the world. Like Amsterdam is not the world.

        Rotterdam has larger ambitions. First, Amsterdam. Then the world. Then anywhere:

      • Capt’nDallas

        Thanks. I read the paper and I agree:


        As the rural migration to urban centers increases, particularly in the developing world, think China, India, Brazil and regions of Africa, PM 2.5 pollution will impact a greater number of people and the ability to regulate its production will remain limited as the spectrum of vehicles in these countries with respect to age, maintenance, and the stop and go traffic congestion will only get worse. Rural electrification and infrastructure investment including roads, bridges and traffic lights would be the next step in addressing PM 2.5 production.

        Coal is the most likely means to power these nations into a health enhancing environment. Monsoon rains cleans the air and washes the soot into the rivers providing a fresh palate to paint a better life year after year.

      • Steven Mosher

        ““well instrumented parts of the world.” Is not the world. Like Amsterdam is not the world.

        Just thought I’d let you know, in case you missed it.



        did one of those letters confuse you.

      • Steven Mosher

        “Rural electrification and infrastructure investment including roads, bridges and traffic lights would be the next step in addressing PM 2.5 production.”

        First we kill coal. no regrets.

      • Steven Mosher,

        I presume Rotterdam is one of those well instrumented parts of the world, as you describe it.

        I’m not quite sure why you are creating another database to estimate how much of something comes from something else, when both are changing constantly. I guess you can spend a lot of time pointlessly going back and creating missing values if the estmates don’t come out the way you want them.

        I suppose we all need something to keep us occupied.

        By the way, sorry about writing Amsterdam when I meant Rotterdam. Both were beautiful.

      • Willard,

        Apologies, of course.

        Meant Rotterdam. Wrote Amsterdam. Been to both a couple of times. At least they are both in Holland (or the Netherlands, if you prefer.)


      • RiH008, Beijing does not have a very health enhancing environment, probably largely due to coal. They have at least now realized their mistake, and it should be a lesson to others. This is proof that clean air acts are needed. Search for pics on Beijing pollution if you don’t know what I am referring to. They may be the PM2.5 capital of the world.

      • Don Monfort

        Oh, yimmy has pointed out that now the Red Chinese Thugocracy has realized coal burned willy nilly without proper scrubbers etc. is not good for the health of the citizens. They knew it all along, little dude. But now they are going to clean things up, because they made a green deal with Obama. Naive.

        The Party bosses have poisoned China’s air, land and water to go all out for economic growth and their own enrichment. They can’t clean that mess up in a hundred years. They are on their way out the door, with the gold.

      • Don Monfort

        I see you are still getting flynned, Steven.

      • Steven Mosher

        “I presume Rotterdam is one of those well instrumented parts of the world, as you describe it.”

        Not really. 6 stations. But since pm25 is not a problem in rotterdam
        I suppose they have all the coverage they need.
        The point is simple. the good captain, ignored the EC findings and concentrated on the OC findings. Regardless, he selected a city
        that HAS NO PROBLEM. today rotterdam read 34 ( <50 is healthy)

        Here is what you want: you want to study the problem in those well instrumented parts of the worlds that ACTUALLY HAVE A PROBLEM

        reading today is 202


        "I’m not quite sure why you are creating another database to estimate how much of something comes from something else, when both are changing constantly."

        1. a database doesnt estimate.
        2. There is no something coming from something else.
        3. My weight is constantly changing. every single time I breathe or fart
        my weight changes. SOME of the weight changes are important
        and some are not.

        " I guess you can spend a lot of time pointlessly going back and creating missing values if the estmates don’t come out the way you want them."

        1. you dont create missing values
        2. if you did create missing values they wouldnt be missing any more.

        English is great language. Learn it: 병신

      • Steven Mosher,

        You wrote –

        “English is great language. Learn it . . . ”

        You are not doing too badly at learning English. You still have a little way to go. Native English speakers usually say “English is a great language . . .”. You might care to concentrate on your grammar and punctuation more.

        There are many good books on simple English expression, and I am sure they will assist you in knowing when to capitalise words, and so on.

        I can see you need something to occupy your time. There are many databases, and averages thereof, which you might find worthwhile.

        Have you tried to compile a database of motor vehicle colours throughout the world? You could calculate the average colour in a number of different ways, by location, manufacturer, and so on. I’m sure will find it quite as valuable as any of your recent database work,

        The truth is out there, and as you point out, if you can sell it, it must be worth something!

      • David Springer

        mosher writes: “3. My weight is constantly changing. every single time I breathe or fart my weight changes. SOME of the weight changes are important and some are not.”

        True for most people but not in your case.

      • Mosher, “For EC the percentages were reversed at 17% and 83%.

        The fraction of pm2.5 that comes from the burning of fossil fuels

        1. Spatially dependent
        2. Seasonally dependent.”

        The Fossil Fuels EC were related to vehicle exhaust emissions so that means kill coal right?


        Rotterdam is a fairly “clean” air quality city and spring is a “clean” time of the year. In a clean city during a clean time of year, urban activities increase PM2.5 by about 4 times background. If you focus on Coal you are focusing on background so you may be able to reduce 50% of 25% of the problem.

        When you centrally burn any FF you can more cost effectively reduce specific emissions than you can with millions of smaller point sources. Increasing electrical cost increases the number of point sources and it doesn’t matter if those sources are “sustainable”, the activity isn’t.


        Your kill coal to reduce PM2.5 is a fart in the wind.

      • Steven Mosher

        “First we kill coal. no regrets.”

        I am glad your calculus has figured out how to bring billions of people out of poverty and the drudgery of survival. I must travel to all the wrong places to not see the thirst for electrical power quenched by soccer moms and dads talking about it.

      • Jim D

        “RiH008, Beijing does not have a very health enhancing environment, probably largely due to coal.”

        Beijing has had for centuries red dust from the Gobi Desert blanket the city on a regular basis. More recently, beginning with the “Great Leap Forward” the progressive desertification of Gobi Desert grasslands by overgrazing and drawdown of water sources, the regularity of the dust storms covering Beijing have intensified as the Gobi Desert marches closer to the urban center. The building of coal fired power plants is a relatively new phenomenon and not using the wet scrubbers already installed has been a financial decision as the use of scrubbers adds about 1 to 2 cents per kilowatt hour. Increasing the cost of energy would put a dent in the cost competitiveness China is currently experiencing with the rest of Southeast Asia.

        I’m sure you knew all that though. Sorry to be repetitive.

      • RiH008, during the Olympics and for other international events, they heavily regulate pollution from local industries and traffic, and it has a major impact as they see blue skies for a change. These periods are ideal experiments in what part is controllable, and it is most of it.

      • Jim D

        Your timing is impeccable. The Summer Olympic Games August 8 to 24, 2008, Beijing China. And the regular Gobi Desert dust storms blowing Eastward over Beijing are in the Spring: March April May. So, if I were a great planner in a controlled seat of power, I would have the Chinese Summer Olympic Games as far away from the Spring as I could manage. Wouldn’t you?

      • RiH008, the Chinese are measuring their pollution and can tell the difference between dust and industrial pollution. They are not that primitive. The non-dust seasons are pretty bad, and this is how they can tell. Also it is a relatively new phenomenon not to see blue skies very often with almost permanent haze.

      • Jim D

        I am not sure why our verbal conflict.

        Let me say: industrial pollution in China is bad. The PM 2.5 story is most recently been highlighted by the monitoring systems on top of the US Embassy for a long time and Chinese people as well as Ex-Pats living in China use the US monitoring data for judging air pollution when and if they can get it. US has been reporting PM 2.5 and PM 10 as well. Under pressure from some higher-ups, have the Chinese Government have been measuring and reporting PM 2.5 more recently. It is not just foreign governments complaining as their Ex-Pats don’t want to locate in China nor governmental bureaucrats want to do a tour of duty in China, particularly if they have families. China air, ground, water pollution is bad bad bad. It was a financial decision to allow China to be the low cost heavy industry provider.

        My point about the Gobi Desert was that air, ground and water pollution from dust storms has been a regular feature in China, especially Beijing for centuries. Pollution during the Spring is bad bad bad.

        The issue of PM 2.5 and the article from the Netherlands was to highlight that PM 2.5 comes not only from stationary power sources, but, from diesel trucks, cars, and the wear and tear of tires and roads and, more likely than not, the PM 2.5 from cars and trucks and things that go is greater in urban areas than stationary sources.

        My other point was that in the developing world, the PM 2.5 pollution is great as the vehicles are aged, poorly maintained, the roads are terrible and the traffic congestion is unbearable. All these lead to high PM 2.5 pollution. The solutions are fundamental: retard the transmigration from rural to urban through rural electrification. Build infrastructure including roads, bridges, water and sewer. Improve the urban air through not allowing the decrepit vehicles as well as high polluting vehicles like the Chinese mule, into the city. Importing vehicles that have pollution mitigating equipment installed and then, inspect for the functioning of the pollution controls, removing those vehicles which do not comply. This latter solution was used when coal fired steam engines were banned from entering cities and an electric locomotive was used to bring the train into the city/station.

        Coal fired power plants can be made “acceptable” with regards to air (including PM 2.5) as long as the CO2 meme is not added to urban pollution cacophony.

  16. More on diesel particles …

    Wall-flow diesel particulate filters usually remove 85% or more of the soot, and under certain conditions can attain soot removal efficiencies approaching 100%. Some filters are single-use, intended for disposal and replacement once full of accumulated ash. Others are designed to burn off the accumulated particulate either passively through the use of a catalyst or by active means such as a fuel burner which heats the filter to soot combustion temperatures. This is accomplished by engine programming to run (when the filter is full) in a manner that elevates exhaust temperature In conjunction with an extra fuel injector in the exhaust stream that injects fuel to react with a catalyst element to burn off accumulated soot and convert it to ash where it is stored in the DPF filter,[3] or through other methods. This is known as “filter regeneration”.

    [ … ]

    As of December 2008 the California Air Resources Board (CARB) established the 2008 California Statewide Truck and Bus Rule which—with variance according to vehicle type, size and usage—require that on-road diesel heavy trucks and buses in California be retrofitted, repowered, or replaced to reduce particulate matter (PM) emissions by at least 85%. Retrofitting the engines with CARB-approved diesel particulate filters is one way to fulfill this requirement.[15] In 2009 the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided funding to assist owners in offsetting the cost of diesel retrofits for their vehicles.[16] Other jurisdictions have also launched retrofit programs …


  17. From Cato: Directional drilling, horizontal drilling, hydraulic fracturing, and radical new advances in offshore platform technology and global positioning software have revolutionized both onshore and offshore oil and gas production.

  18. Re floating nuclear power plants. What could possibly go wrong? The economics of construction – ocean-based oil and gas facilities are many times more expensive than land-based counterparts. So, how does a marine nuclear power plant have reduced costs – solely by eliminating concrete? Hmmm…. I think that one needs some explaining.

    No danger of overheating, per the article. Seriously? Passive water flow through holes in the walls, it says. Maybe for the first month, but then who cleans off the marine bio-growth? Regularly, and never omitting that.

    No danger of tsunamis, well that’s a relief. No mention of storms, hurricanes, or wild waves, though. Surely the lateral and vertical forces will be in the design, with no danger of excessive forces. (sarcasm here, for those who are unable to detect such)

    I’m relieved (NOT) to see that everything important is below sea-level. Surely such a system will never, ever spring a leak, not in 40 or 60 years or whatever the NRC allows for an operating life. No core meltdowns, no terrorist attacks, no sabotage, no internal fires in electrical systems, nothing like the litany of screw-ups and disasters that send the NRC special investigation teams to a US nuclear plant, on average, every three weeks, over the past 5 years.

    And the radiation leakage will require almost 100 percent indemnification, and government subsidy for costs, or can MIT prove that it will not?

    I could go on, but why bother.


    • I could go on, but why bother.

      None!. Because you are wrong. You’ve been told a dozen times that the safest way to generate electricity is with nuclear power. But you brain is so locked shut, you are unable to challenge your beliefs. Until you stop denying the relevant facts. there can be no communication with you, or the rest of the anti-nuke ideologues.

      • Sure! Of COURSE nuclear power is the safest way, if you don’t mind irradiating the populace (we have had 5 serious core meltdowns, with 4 of those having explosions) in the past 40 years. Count ’em: Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and three at Fukushima-Daiichi. That’s five, an average of 8 years.

        And of course they are safe, if you don’t count the endless decades and centuries of deadly radiation just waiting to spew forth and bombard the innocent population from “spent” fuel storage — where the “spent” fuel is far, FAR more radioactive than new fuel.

        Of course, Mr. Lang wants the existing radiation limits increased to provide ever more exposure to the population.

        The facts are exactly what Mr. Lang refuses to discuss. The record is quite clear – including emergency shutdowns of reactor cores in the US on a frequent basis. Every three weeks, on average, a serious nuclear event occurs that results in the NRC sending a special investigation team to the nuclear plant. Those are just a few of the facts that Mr. Lang refuses to acknowledge.

      • David Wojick

        I think you are being stupid, Roger. NRC over regulation is actually the problem. False ranting is not an argument. There has been exactly one harmful nuclear accident, for well known reasons, and the spent fuel is fine. No form of energy production is harmless, how could it be? But nuclear is pretty safe.

      • David Springer

        Thank you Roger for reminding everyone of the high cost and danger of nuclear power.

      • Peter,

        Don’t waste your time. That Roger can make this statement

        “irradiating the populace (we have had 5 serious core meltdowns, with 4 of those having explosions) in the past 40 years. Count ’em: Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and three at Fukushima-Daiichi. That’s five, an average of 8 years”

        or this one

        “centuries of deadly radiation just waiting to spew forth and bombard the innocent population from “spent” fuel storage ”

        it become obvious he is anti-nuclear. Almost rabidly so. Perhaps as a kid he saw one of those 1950’s era sifi movies with the giant spiders and still suffers from nightmares. That he can refer to spewing radiation of the “deadly” kind pretty much tells us he suffers from unreasonable fear.


        Remind us again how many folks died as a result of TMI (the only one of the examples that is a US run reactor)?

        How about the death toll from Fukushima? (BTW, nice use of statistical inflation, count Fukushima as three, even though you know the resultant failure was due to the same incident – the tsunami.

        And lets include the deaths from Chernobyl as well, even though that was a 1950’s era design which had its safety features intentionally by-passed by plant operators. A design that would never have been built for commercial generation in the US.

        Anyone taking an honest look at Chernobyl would discover that other than plant personnel and first responders who tried to bring the fires under control, almost all other fatalities attributed to the disaster were preventable, involved children who did not receive iodine treatment immediately after exposure because the Russian government was trying to play down the extent of the disaster.

        The only spewing going on is from Roger, when he talks about how dangerous nuclear power plants are.

      • Springer,

        I pay attention to your opinions on a wide range of topics. However when it comes to nuclear power, it is like you just finished washing down your tab of acid with 5 or 6 Long Island iced teas and settled back to enjoy a snack of roasted peyote buttons and a nice fat joint.

        High cost of nuclear – ok. It isn’t really debatable about it being high cost. However it is debatable whether or not that cost is intrinsic or introduced.

        Highly dangerous – that’s only for people tripping on baseless fear. There is not an industry on this planet which wouldn’t trade their safety record for that of the commercial US generation industry.

    • Roger: I’m familiar with offshore construction as well as floating system fabrication costs. I think shipyard and dry dock construction costs of modular facilities would be much lower.

      I also think there’s no need to use the circular shape. A deep draft rectangular shape can provide a much better layout. The mooring system can be designed to allow partial barge rotation around a bow turret.

    • This floating nuclear plant project will, I predict, go the way of the South Texas Nuclear Project expansion: the vendor made initial promises on the cost, the owners questioned that; and the vendor increased the cost estimate over and over and over again. Finally, the owners withdrew in disgust as the final price (estimated, not even close to the probable true cost) grew so great that it was clear the project would never be economic.

      Nuclear plant vendors are notorious for passing off low cost estimates to secure a contract, then watching the owners plow money into an ever-expanding sinkhole.

      • From the article:

        According to the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), the South Texas Plant and Comanche Peak combined supply 60 percent of Texas’ emission-free power and help improve the air quality statewide. Together, the two Texas plants avoided the emission of 64,000 tons of SO2, 17,000 tons of NOx and 30 million metric tons of CO2 in the year 2010. Texas anticipates significant growth in electricity demand in the coming years, and both of the Lone Star State’s nuclear plants are planning to add reactors.


      • From the article:

        CPS Energy Recommends Expansion Of South Texas Project

        “We’ve carefully examined many scenarios involving natural gas, coal, nuclear and even purchased power from the Texas grid to provide our community with a large-scale, long-term, cost-competitive source of electricity. We’ve concluded that expansion of STP has the highest probability of accomplishing that important goal.”

        Nuclear plants cost more to build than other power plants, Lee explained, but they offer savings over the long haul because of comparatively lower fuel costs and no emissions. Natural gas-fired plants are less-expensive to build, but the cost of natural gas is subject to volatile fluctuations. Coal plants with carbon capture and sequestration have yet to be built and proven on a large commercial scale, and not building a plant would mean purchasing natural gas-generated power from the unpredictable wholesale electric marketplace.

        CPS Energy already relies on STP to meet more than one-third of Greater San Antonio’s annual electrical requirements, Lee noted. Nuclear-generated electricity is the least expensive among the company’s various sources of power.

        Over the past five years (2004-2008), CPS Energy customers’ electric bills were $1.86 billion lower, thanks to the availability of nuclear power versus other higher-priced fuels, he added. In 2008, a year of higher-than-normal natural gas prices, the average residential electric customer saved $34 per month in fuel costs because of STP.

        Bartley said more nuclear-generated electricity is compatible with the Strategic Energy Plan, which calls for pursuing energy conservation/efficiency; increasing the supply of renewable energy; supplying low-cost, competitive electric power; and maintaining the company’s environmental commitment.

        “We’ve made tremendous progress in all four areas of our Strategic Energy Plan,” Bartley said. He cited the following examples:


      • Roger warns us of the dangers of nuclear reactors at see.

        Yep, after 60 years of operating reactors at sea the Navy has decided it is unsafe after listening to Roger and is mothballing all of its nuclear powered vessels.

        Personally, I’d rather see widespread adoption of smaller modular reactors. They should be as easy to permit as gas-fired peaking turbines, with a cost to construct far lower per megawatt than current plants.

    • Counterexample: the United States Navy. Nothing new under the sun, or sea.

    • Roger Sowell

      “Sure! Of COURSE nuclear power is the safest way, if you don’t mind irradiating the populace (we have had 5 serious core meltdowns, with 4 of those having explosions) in the past 40 years. Count ’em: Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and three at Fukushima-Daiichi. That’s five, an average of 8 years.

      And of course they are safe, if you don’t count the endless decades and centuries of deadly radiation just waiting to spew forth and bombard the innocent population from “spent” fuel storage — where the “spent” fuel is far, FAR more radioactive than new fuel.”

      Roger, here are two numbers from Fukushima for you:

      1. 16,000 killed by the quake and tsunami.
      2. 0 killed by radiation

      Try to be rational. It’s difficult, cognitive strain and dissonance and all that, but you can do it.

    • I agree with David Wojick:

      you are being stupid, Roger

      I’d go further. I’d say you are being obstinately innumerate.

      Nuclear power is safest, or about the safest, way to generate electricity. Therefore, more nuclear power replacing other electricity generation technologies, saves lives. Is that beyond your comprehension?

      Energy Source Mortality Rate (deaths/trillionkWhr)

      Coal (elect,heat,cook–world avg)100,000 (26% of world energy, 50% of electricity)
      Coal electricity – world avg 60,000 (26% of world energy, 50% of electricity)
      Coal (elect,heat,cook – China) 170,000
      Coal electricity- China 90,000
      Coal – U.S. 15,000 (44% U.S. electricity)
      Oil 36,000 (36% of energy, 8% of electricity)
      Natural Gas 4,000 (20% global electricity)
      Biofuel/Biomass 24,000 (21% global energy)
      Solar (rooftop) 440 (0.2% global electricity)
      Wind 150 (1.6% global electricity)
      Hydro – global average 1,400 (15% global electricity)
      Nuclear – global average 90 (17% global electricity w/Chern&Fukush)

      The only genuine issue is the cost of nuclear. As David points out,. That is caused by the regulatory ratcheting over a period of 50+years. And these cost increases are cause by ignorant anti-nukes, and their nuclear paranoia.

    • Well…


      There is 16.2 metric tons of radioactive elements and 653 GBq (gigabecquerels) of radioactivity in the average 1 square mile by 1 foot piece of dirt.

      There is 12300 Becquerels of radioactivity in each cubic meter of sea water.

      The earth is composed of parts of a supernova remnant and is hot as hell.

      People actually live in places where the average radioactivity is over 30 mS/y without apparent harm (look up Ramsar, Iran).

      This makes the claims of any effect from low levels of radioactivity (the linear no-threshold model) difficult to defend.

      Fukushima ocean contamination was largely unnoticeable by the time it got to California (they actually did locate one hot spot 100 miles from shore) and the sea side collection effort of Woods Hole last year (2014) was pretty much a dry hole..

      The NIH tested some tuna that migrated from Japan shortly after Fukushima and the contamination dose in the fish caught in August 2011 was 1/500th the dose from natural elements..

    • Perhaps I’m stupid… stupid enough to look at the evidence before us.

      After more than 50 years of best efforts, nuclear power world-wide is only 11 percent of total electricity production. It is in 4th place behind coal, natural gas, and hydroelectric power. The only technologies that are smaller are oil, wind, solar, and geothermal, plus the experimental ones like wave, tidal, and bio-gas.

      After more than 50 years of best efforts, small nuclear plants are not economic, as evidenced by no small island having nuclear power. Nothing of 1 million population or smaller. Yes, Taiwan, Japan, and UK are islands but have much greater populations.

      For all their supposedly great benefits and low costs, nuclear plants are shutting down right and left because they simply lose too much money. Plant owners in the US are crying to their congressmen to “DO SOMETHING!!!” so they can stay running – producing power nobody can afford and nobody wants.

      For all their vaunted safety, as the commenters on this blog harp on and on about, not one of you can point to a single nuclear plant that is self-insured; or has commercial insurance for all of its liability. Prove me wrong, name all of the nuclear plants that are completely un-subsidized.

      Even the newest nuclear plants, and not in the US so one cannot blame the NRC, have horrendous cost overruns and schedule delays. Finland and France cannot seem to build the new EPR for what they said and as fast as they said.

      Now, the UK finally became honest and published the huge subsidy for the Hinkley Point facility that all its electricity will require if and when it is built. Quoting my article on SLB:

      “The Hinkley Point C plant will have two reactors, each 1,600 MWe, of the EPR reactor design that is currently such a fiasco in Finland at Olkiluoto. To their credit, the BBC article admits the Hinkley Point C will require 10 years to first operation. However, the plant life is also stated as 60 years, which is wildly optimistic.

      The subsidy for Hinkley Point C apparently takes the form of a high sales price for power at the transaction bar – the plant boundary. The plant owner is guaranteed the equivalent of US 15 cents per kWh, approximately double the present rate for wholesale power in the UK.

      What is interesting is the quoted price to build the plant, at £24.5 billion (the equivalent of US$ 39.2 billion). This equates to MORE than $10,000 per kW, at $12,250. Again, this is precisely what SLB has maintained all along – a new nuclear power plant costs far more than the $4,000 some advocates maintain. Instead, it will cost at least $10,000 per kW, and more likely $12,000 per kW. Here we see at least a small beginning of honesty from the nuclear establishment.

      However, given the long, dismal history of nuclear plant schedule delays and cost overruns, it is to be expected that the Hinkley Point C twin reactor plant will take far longer than 10 years to startup, and will cost far more than US$ 39 billion. It will likely require 15 years or longer, and $48 billion or even more.”

      Russian plants in other countries are only built with below-cost financing.

      France, that darling of the nuclear proponents, had to subsidize its electricity and was caught for doing so. Strange, for a country that has nuclear supplying 85 percent of its power grid, that the power is just not that cheap and required massive, decades-long subsidies.

      The safety argument is equally invalid, but the ostriches on this blog bury their heads in the sand and refuse to see reality. Yes, I know there are a few (very few) who are objective and can see the futility of nuclear power, but the nasty nay-sayers are far more abundant.

      Prove me wrong. To Mr. Grace, yes, there have been 5 serious meltdowns, not 3 as the nuclear proponents would have us all believe.

      • Well, all this is fine and good.

        1. The Chinese reactors are coming in at under $3 billion per reactor for 1000 MWe reactors.
        2. Build times are about six years.
        3. By 2030 China plans to have about 150 GWe of generation capacity.

        4. Nuclear power is base-band power and competes with coal (the cheapest power source). Only about 20% of total generation capacity is needed 100% of the time year round. So 20% is real target penetration level for nuclear which is what was achieved in the US.

        As far as safety, the old adage is that more people died in the back seat of Ted Kennedy’s car than from radioactivity in nuclear power plant accidents in the US.

        Galen Windsor who swam in the spent fuel pools and ate uranium and drank reactor pool water. He died in 2008 at 82 years old. There is no indication he died from anything other than old age (although there are some anti-nuclear activists lying about his death to fit their meme).

        Home nuclear power plants were actually considered at one time and some of the anti-nuclear hysteria was apparently an effort to discourage this. Philo Farnsworth (the real inventor of TV who got royalties from RCA) designed a home nuclear reactor the size of a pot bellied stove.

      • RE: Roger’s points –

        “despite our best efforts” – Apparently you set a very low bar when evaluating effort Roger. To say the commercial nuclear industry in the US has experienced “our best efforts” is a joke. (BTW – again with manipulating the numbers. Using “world wide” to get the lowest percentage possible. )

        “nuclear plants are shutting down right and left” – well yes plants are shutting down, but it is a combination of factors. For one, I believe the majority of plants that have been decommissioned have or are reaching the end of their original operational lifes. In some cases it just isn’t cost effective to extend their operating lives. This reality is not limited to nuclear power. The other factor I’ve heard which is coming into play is that the low cost of NG has been putting pressure on the opertaing costs of nuclear. At least in some instances. However if what Roger claims is the true really were, then you would see wholesale closures and decommissionings.

        cost over runs in the newest plants (and not in the US so no NRC fall guy) – sure Roger, Finland and France have next to nothing with regard to regulatory requirements. Their licensing process pretty much goes like this: “We want to build a new nuclear plant.” “Ok.” And then it’s off to construction. Roger, you once again pick a problem that is common to a wide range of industries – in this case a couple of European nuke plants – and make it sound as if it is uniquely a nuclear problem. Poor project management happens all the time.

        “perhaps I’m Stupid” – you are by no means stupid Roger. However it does appear that you have a very large stick up your butt when it comes to nuclear power. It must be painful, as it causes you to stray from some very well founded critizisms related to cost, into exagerated claims of danger. What’s the deal with raising the nuclear bogyman?

    • richardswarthout

      If the president vetoes the 2016 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill, and the affected departments are therefore unfunded, what would be the result? I suspect the majority party knows about Obama’s threat and has a strategy. Perhaps the president will get an offer he can’t refuse or perhaps there is the knowledge that shutting down two departments will not be as bad as shutting down all departments. And BTW the last government shutdown caused few employees to get their paychecks; all eventually were compensated.


  19. Beta Blocker

    How California plans to put distributed energy on the grid:

    Here is a question for aplanningengineer, and for those with that kind of expertise, concerning California’s interactions with the Western Interconnection. My question is related to another question I asked aplanningengineer in the fall of 2014 concerning how he would go about implementing 50% renewables for the California electric grid by 2030 without using nuclear or expanded hydro, under the basic assumption that cost was no object.

    The question is this …… How far could California go in adopting wind, solar, and PV in all of its forms, both distributed and centralized; and in setting its own technical and administrative management policies for California’s in-state electric grid, without causing too many problems for the Western Interconnection?

    As was the case with the question I asked in the fall of 2014, a basic assumption is that whatever it costs, the money will be spent. In addition, what constitutes ‘too many problems’ is a matter of subjective opinion, of course.

    • Strictly speaking from a technology standpoint our destiny is to transition to micro grids (think cellular networks). I’m just extrapolating from existing trends but I think some of those trends were pre-ordained decades ago. So the task at hand is to match the trajectory of your transition with the key inflection points of the natural exponential growth of energy technologies and knowledge.
      I was interested in the Cal. plan for market aggregators. Might even call then virtual energy markets.

      • Beta Blocker

        Would these micro grids be fully independent of each other, or would there be ties to other micro grids, but with ties that are less robust than the ties within the major national interconnections which exist today?

        Would a series of semi or fully independent micro grids be inherently less vulnerable to cyber attack than one large highly interconnected grid?

      • I’m thinking along the lines of WAN->LAN->Node architecture. Start by integrating the concept of stateless interconnections with bidirectional parallel networks. Cyber attacks will probably be with us forever so WAN to LAN isolation will provide the best defense. If fact if international financial markets are found to be impossible to protect from world wide attacks I think we will see the zoning off of the internet by geographic regions. We maybe be living in the golden age of the international web which might have to evolve into a more segregated network.

      • in California, somebody could probably sell these…


  20. A big new study finds that residential energy efficiency isn’t nearly as cost-effective as we thought: [link] …

    The “low hanging fruit” of residential energy efficiency resides only in the mind’s eye of EPA bureaucrats when “modeling” benefits of their amended Clean Air Act enforcement regulations. However, once a large random controlled study was completed, results showed: low willingness to participate in a free weatherization program by eligible households; negative rate of return on investment no matter how extended the time line; CO2 avoided costs higher by an order of magnitude to the US Governments target social cost of $38 per ton CO2 avoided.

    “When the experimental estimates of actual natural gas and electricity savings are used in column
    (2), the analogous costs per ton of CO2 avoided are $329 (3% discount rate) and $484 (7% discount
    rate). These costs exceed the United States Government’s social cost of carbon by roughly an
    order or magnitude, suggesting that, at least in this study’s context, residential energy efficiency
    investments are an inefficient approach to mitigating climate change.”

    30,000+ households. Michigan weather. $5000+ energy saving retrofits (new furnaces, insulation, plugging weather infiltration sources). Before and after in home assessments of temperatures; Cost/benefit analysis: it cost 2.5 times the energy/CO2 savings for residential weatherization programs.

    After reading the paper and somewhat between the lines, it seems to me that one of the impediments to initiating Government involved weatherization of homes was the usual squabble around using local wage levels/lack of skills of workforce/seeing the weatherization program at some level as a jobs program, circumstances entangling most Governmental agency programs.

    In any case, there would be little to no benefit to residential energy retro fit even those houses not eligible for Federal assistance and performed by the private sector. As the EPA assumes there is a 50% energy savings by conservation in their latest regulations by 2020, it seems that costs will exceed energy savings.

    I wonder if Congress would cut from the EPA budget the amount in cost exceeding benefit. Maybe EPA bureaucrats would work towards and choose more realistic targets for their projections of benefits of their regulations?

  21. The EPA’s Clean Power Plan has more flaws than a cheap diamond. Clearly, the EPA has no shame; and furthermore, they have no expertise to regulate the U.S. multi-trillion dollar electrical grid. None!

    The debate over scientific fraud and political science is at the height of importance right now, because the Harvard study seems to confirm the $50-200 billion future health benefits claimed by the Clean Power Plan. I can’t help but wonder if Harvard (and Science Magazine) will take responsibility for the latest emissions/health study printed under their imprimatur? Ultimately, the EPA, Harvard and the Driscoll/Schwartz study team should be required to disclose the internal communications between the groups, the math and science of the Driscaoll/Harvard Report and the $45 million that the EPA gave to the members of the study in grants. What Judith described as the “funding-induced bias.”

    I thought you would be interested in the following story from The Wall Street Journal.

    Scientific Fraud and Politics


    • richardswarthout

      I think Justice Roberts criticized the EPA during oral arguments because it was claiming health and cost benefits for pollution reductions, for pollutions not part of the proposed new regulation.


      • David Wojick

        Questioned rather than criticized. Yes, half of the benefits EPA is claiming are purported health benefits from shutting done coal fired power plants, based on the never disclosed Harvard studies, the so-called “secret science.”

        The rest are from the absurd “social cost of carbon” which projects economic damages from today’s emissions for the next 300 years. That is right, 300 years, so think about that modeling. Most of the damages occur in the 100 to 300 year timeframe, mostly from sea level rise.

        Policy does not get any crazier than this. Environmentalism meets the abyss. But the Court will never rule on the science.

      • Is this the “secret” study? You just need to know where to look. They say PM2.5 and ozone reductions are healthier, but I guess the “skeptics” want to dispute that too.

  22. Bill McKibben in The New Yorker

    Power to the People
    Why the rise of green energy makes utility companies nervous.

    Neither [ … ] changed their homes out of concern for global warming. (“If it’s not on the Disney Channel, I don’t hear about it,” Sara Borkowski said.) But that’s the point: a bold reworking of energy systems, long necessary and expensive, is now necessary and much more affordable. That could make for a very different world.

  23. Bill McKibben is simply the loudest anti-fossil fuel priest currently in the spotlight, thanks to Rolling Stone and The New Yorker. His understanding of the electrical grid is even worse than the EPA’s.

  24. I asked the following question of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners Santa Fe conference attendees in late April: “Clean Power Plan: Isn’t it really an artificial emergency with impossible deadlines created by hastily written federal regulations for unwilling states and their utilities.” This remains a very good question.

    Am I the only person who is troubled by forecasting about earth in 85 years, 2100?

    • “Am I the only person who is troubled by forecasting about earth in 85 years, 2100?”

      Nope. It’s absurd. Hubris.

    • Steven Mosher

      “Am I the only person who is troubled by forecasting about earth in 85 years, 2100?”

      Well, if you want to build a dam.. you have to forecast 100 years


      In other places you might not even have historical data
      so you have model make make a bunch of assumptions


      Here you have to estimate 10000 year rare floods


      It is pretty simple we have forecasted floods for a long long time.
      people are not upset about forecasting out to 10000 years.

      There are many tools: extrapolating the past ( boo hiss)
      physics modelling ( go team GCM)

      The only people who are skeptical about forecasting the future are people who dont have to do it.

    • Well…

      The last 15 years have been kind of illuminating.

      Emissions increased about 45.6% since 2000. You can make the case that the rate of CO2 increase has gone up maybe 10%. It seems the CO2 level isn’t going anywhere fast, certainly not as fast as predicted. The highest CO2 increase on record, 2.93 PPM in 1998, has never been equaled or even approached since then, despite almost 50% more CO2 emissions to work with.

      The temperature hasn’t changed much at all. There are even people who project that 2030 will be cooler.

      The real question is why aren’t all those emissions having much of an impact? Coal is responsible about 44% of fossil fuel CO2 emissions and it seems obvious we can’t maintain current emissions when we start running out of other fossil fuels by mid-century.

      From the looks of things we will run out of fossil fuel (due to rising prices) long before the emissions become a problem.

      What is clear is the last 15 years weren’t the disaster they were projected to be. This casts doubt on future projections of disaster.

      Since we obviously have time to sort things out, let the 0 warmers, the skeptics, and the CAGWers make their predictions for the next 15 years and see who is right. If they can’t get the next 15 years right they probably don’t have a keen insight into the next 100. We can let whoever correctly calls 2030 set policy.

    • Steven Mosher,

      Anybody from Nostradamus to the U.S. Government can make a forecast.

      If enough people make enough forecasts, some will turn out to be correct.

      You may forecast 100 year floods, but between 2005 and 2013, there were at least 173 documented dam failures in the U.S. It appears neither forecasts, modelling, or physics are a guarantee that dams won’t fail.

      The USGS has this to say –

      “Hydrologists don’t like to hear a term like “100-year flood” because, scientifically, it is a misinterpretation of terminology that leads to a misconception of what a 100-year flood really is.”

      Your Japanese design reference is very good. I suggest you read it.

      10,000 year forecasts? Good luck with that! The Millenium Challenge Corporation is dreaming.

      I can’t see where any of your references indicate any faith at all in GCMs, I presume you put that in for fun, thinking that people might believe GCMs have some utility. They don’t.

      Anyone who believes forecasting floods is pretty simple, is probably pretty simple. A Warmist, perhaps?

  25. Finding ways to increase cost and shrink choices: Big Green is the new OPEC.

    And the self-flagellating West is…well, it’s the old self-flagellating West. We even have a new Nasser in Erdogan.

    The compelling case for coal and nukes is that nobody has to worry about whether they will flow through Putin-land or Erdogan-land…or stop flowing. No Nigerian ‘tribespeople’ can stop Australians walking into Sydney’s back yard to pick up centuries of the good Permian black. Gazprom can’t squeeze France the way it can squeeze Ukraine. Think those Poles don’t have more reasons to mine lignite when they glance to their east and west? Nice neighbours!

    How can geopolitics not be a huge factor in all this gourmandising over the naughty-or-nice of energy supply? Hell, it’s not like Asia isn’t making most of your stuff already. (And now we’re having brawls over sea lanes!)

    Why not make coal as clean as you can get it, locate your nukes with commonsense, frack where it’s wise, dam what you can (sorry tadpoles), make what you can at home, liberalise more, modernise more etc etc? Put money in thy purse, neither a borrower nor a lender be…and the rest of the Shakespearean jive. Turn your swords into ploughshares, your wind turbines to phone towers, and your solar concentrators to installation art.

    I don’t know the ppm of the various emissions from hot war, but I have an inkling there’ll be a cough or two heard. Why, war might even be bad for the asthma of the “kids” of those “folk” Obama likes to talk about.

  26. mosomoso,

    You said it better than I would. I’ve no doubt, having heard that, many will sigh, “Amen!”


  27. Excerpt:
    System costs

    As the role of renewable sources increases, there has been more attention paid to system effects relating to the interaction of variable renewables with dispatchable technologies. System effects refer to the costs above plant-level costs to supply electricity at a given load and level of security of supply. A 2012 OECD Nuclear Energy Agency report focused on “grid-level system costs”, the subset of system costs mediated by the electricity grid, which include a) the costs of extending and reinforcing transport and distribution grids as well as connecting new capacity, and b) the costs of increased short-term balancing and maintaining the long-term adequacy and security of electricity supply.

    The report showed that while all technologies generate system costs, those of dispatchable generators are at least an order of magnitude lower than those of variable renewables. If the system costs of variable renewables were included at the level of the electricity grid, the total costs of electricity supply increased by up to one-third, depending on country, technology and penetration levels. While grid-level system costs for dispatchable technologies are lower than US$ 3 /MWh, they can reach up to $40 /MWh for onshore wind, up to $45 /MWh for offshore wind and up to $80 /MWh for solar. In addition, the greater the penetration of intermittent renewables, the higher the system costs. Introducing renewables up to 10% of total electricity supply will increase MWh costs 5% to 50% (depending on country) and typically 13-14%, but with 30% renewables the MWh costs will typically increase by one-third.

    Currently, such grid-level costs are simply absorbed by electricity consumers through higher network charges, and by the producers of dispatchable electricity in the form of reduced margins and lower load factors. Failing to account for system costs means adding implicit subsidies to already sizeable explicit subsidies for variable renewables. As long as this situation continues, dispatchable technologies will increasingly not be replaced as they reach the end of their operating lifetimes, thereby seriously diminishing security of supply. Meanwhile their economic viability is seriously eroded, with the effect most marked on those technologies with the highest variable costs. Maintaining high levels of security of electricity supply in decarbonising electricity systems with significant shares of variable renewables will require incentives to internalise the system costs, as well as market designs that adequately cover the cost of all dispatchable power production, including low-carbon nuclear energy.”

    More … http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Current-and-Future-Generation/Electricity-Transmission-Grids/

  28. Looking at the sea level rise in the EPA report on the impact of climate change (page 15). Under the “reference” scenario (no mitigation), global mean sea levels are projected to rise about 56 inches by 2100, “slightly larger than the [Third National Climate] Assessment’s likely range of 12-48 inches.” Hmm, comparing a “best guess” to the upper end of a range makes it only “slightly larger”…

    Putting numbers to their Figure 1, global mean sea level apparently rose 4 mm/yr from 1990-2010, and has been rising at 7 mm/yr since 2010. Who knew? A shame they relied on simulations rather than asking the Univ. of Colorado Sea Level Research Group.

    • Your link points to a useful document with an interesting graph.

      From the graph the sea level will rise 5.5 inches from 2000-2025 (0.7-0.15)..

      Now the estimates of 21st century sea level rise vary from 1.4 mm/y to 2.9
      mm/y. The satellites give the high number. The expected rise by 2025 is is 2.9 inches by satellite (no GIA) and 1.7-1.9 inches from people reading tide gauges.

      If the sea level in 2025 is less than about 3 inches higher than 2000 (no GIA) we can basically disregard the document and should consider RIFing the department at EPA that produced it. They get partial credit and a reprieve if the sea level hits 4 inches.

  29. Dear PA,

    (1) Rising prices generally means less consumption.

    (2) You seem to be saying we are facing “peak oil,” but isn’t that argument from 1970’s. It is my suspicion that the tight oil and natural gas waiting underground in much of the world will unleash a whole new “birth of freedom” in many impoverished parts of Planet Earth. Yes, it will be environmentally friendly fracking that rides to the rescue.

  30. From the article:

    World governments will try to forge a new global accord to address climate change at a UN climate conference in Paris in December, with both developed and developing countries committing to cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

    The landmark agreement would limit global warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (two degrees Celsius) from pre-industrial revolution levels as of 2020.

    “We are all responsible for this crisis,” Redford told the gathering. “Your mission is as simple as it is daunting: save the world before it’s too late.”

    Redford pointed to global warming fueling extreme weather such as the deadly heatwaves in India and Pakistan that have claimed thousands of lives.

    “Everywhere we look, moderate weather seems to be going extinct,” said Redford, who starred in such classic films as “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and founded the Sundance Film Festival.


    • jacksmith4tx,

      Maybe you underestimate the intelligence of the Chinese. They might realise that CO2 is a GoodThing(tm), and be going all out to produce lots of it, while laughing at silly “round-eyes”.

      According to at least one paper, written by non Asians, the US ranks 9th in country IQ, along with Andorra, Australia, Latvia, etc. Darn.

      Obviously, the Flynn effect –

      “The Flynn effect is the substantial and long-sustained increase in both fluid and crystallized intelligence test scores measured in many parts of the world from roughly 1930 to the present day.” – hasn’t had time to work its magic on the USA just yet.

      You just have to have a good laugh sometimes, don’t you? Should Steven Mosher pay more attention to us Flynns?

  31. The BBC reports that “China – the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases – has announced details of its climate action plan. The office of Prime Minister Li Kegiang said that emissions “will peak by around 2030” and China would work hard to achieve the target even earlier. The statement echoes China’s declaration last November following a US-China summit. China’s pledge comes ahead of talks late this year in Paris to seek a new global deal on climate change.

    “The statement, released following a meeting in Paris between Li and French President Francois Hollande, said China aimed to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 60-65% by 2030, from 2005 levels. The carbon intensity target builds on a previous plan to cut carbon intensity by 40-45% by 2020. China also aimed to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in its primary energy consumption to about 20% by 2030, the statement added. Beijing previously set a goal of getting around 15% of its energy from clean sources by 2020.”


    So what does this mean for emissions reduction: in short, China, currently the world’s largest emitter, might be emitting around half as much again by 2030, making a mockery of any reductions in, say, Australia.

    China’s GDP growth this year is estimated at 7%. That is regarded by China as inadequate, but if we assume it continues at 7%, with 2015 GDP as 100, 2030 will be 276. The statement refers to a 2005 base; I don’t know the comparable current figure. Assume emissions intensity in 2030 is 50% of 2015 levels: emissions would be 34% higher than in 2015; at 60%, 66% higher.

    Question for CE posters: what is the implication for global emissions levels in 2030, if China and other countries meet their targets (which has rarely been the case)? I’d be surprised if they weren’t higher than at present.


    • Maybe you just don’t understand China. Under what possible scenario could you envision the USA pulling off their ‘One Child’ policy? They may not make their CO2 target but if they really want to do something with big social and economic impact I myself will not bet against them.

      Answer to your question: I hope so. It would help if Bernie Sanders is elected

    • Faustino, it’s the old argumentum ad collectivismum, as put forward by Cristina Figueres. If the punters are powerless enough, wonders can be performed. (What I don’t get is why better-off western nations stopped multiplying without being commanded by a Son of Heaven or Great Chairman or Dear Leader or plain ol’ Target.)

      And, yes, I get your simple point without having to immerse myself in Chinese ways. I’ll add that the title of masters of the world have been given to master planners before this: OPEC in the 70s, Japan in the 80s, the EU after that. Now China. All the top-down smarties.

      I think I’ll stick with untidy democracy in a messy sovereign state with a brawling parliament. A sorry thing…but for all the rest.

  32. The BBC, like the Guardian, NYT, HuffPo and Malcolm Turnbull, will politely keep a straight face when mentioning China’s latest commitment.

    And the Chinese will keep a respectful straight face in front of the West’s journalists and thinky types.

    Later, of course, they will laugh so hard that they choke on their dim sims.

  33. David L. Hagen

    Gates: Renewable energy can’t do the job. Gov should switch green subsidies into R&D

    ‘Only way to a positive scenario is innovation’ . . .
    the cost of using current renewables such as solar panels and windfarms to produce all or most power would be “beyond astronomical”. At present very little power comes from renewables: in the UK just 5.2 per cent, the majority of which is dubiously-green biofuel burning1 rather than renewable ‘leccy – and even so, energy bills have surged and will surge further as a result.

    In Bill Gates’ view, the answer is for governments to divert the massive sums of money which are currently funnelled to renewables owners to R&D instead. . . .
    “The only way you can get to the very positive scenario is by great innovation,” he told the pink ‘un. “Innovation really does bend the curve.”

    Gates says he’ll personally put his money where his mouth is. He’s apparently invested $1bn of his own cash in low-carbon energy R&D already, and “over the next five years, there’s a good chance that will double,” he said. . . .
    “There’s no battery technology that’s even close to allowing us to take all of our energy from renewables,” he said, pointing out – as we’ve noted on these pages before – that it’s necessary “to deal not only with the 24-hour cycle but also with long periods of time where it’s cloudy and you don’t have sun or you don’t have wind.” . . .
    Gates is already well known as a proponent of improved nuclear power tech, and it seems he still is. He mentioned the travelling-wave reactors under development by his firm TerraPower, which are intended to run on depleted uranium stockpiled after use in conventional reactors. He also spoke of methods of using solar power to produce liquid hydrocarbons, which, unlike electricity, can be stored practicably in useful amounts: “one of the few energy storage things that works at scale”, as he put it.

  34. From the press release:

    Bedford, Mass
    Joule, the pioneer of liquid fuels from recycled CO2, today announced the issuance of an additional patent on the direct, continuous production of hydrocarbon fuels – extending its ability to target the highest-value molecules of the petroleum distillation process and generate them on demand from sunlight and CO2.

    U.S. Patent #9,034,629, issued on May 19, covers both the cyanobacterium and the process for directly converting CO2 into medium-chain alkanes, which are the molecular basis of diesel, jet fuel and gasoline.

    This latest issuance complements Joule’s existing patents on the production of long-chain alkanes, ethanol and multiple chemicals, protecting the company’s unique capability to produce a full breadth of drop-in products without biomass feedstocks or complex refining. Moreover, because the process consumes waste CO2 emissions, the resulting fuels can enable carbon-neutral transportation by supplanting their petroleum-derived counterparts.


  35. From the article:

    But Joule also has repeatedly misfired with lofty predictions of how soon it will be able to produce its fuels on a commercial scale.

    The secretive startup once said it planned to sell its biofuels sometime in 2012. In early 2014, Joule said it was still “poised” to make the leap from demonstration to sales. Today, Joule says it could begin building a 1,000-acre commercial-scale plant sometime in 2017. The company is also on its fourth CEO.

    Tom Jensen, an executive vice president, said Joule has made significant progress in the past year, fine-tuning both its fuel-producing microorganisms and the production equipment that could eventually be expanded to a full-size factory capable of producing 15 milllion gallons of ethanol or 25 million gallons of diesel per year.

    “The kind of production levels we see in an indoor environment is getting close to what we believe we need in the first commercial plant,” Jensen said. “We’re not at those thresholds yet. But we have visibility to what we need for the first commercial plant.”


    • Y’know, back in the ’60’s there used to be paranoid stories about oil companies buying up innovative patents and sitting on them, to protect their mono-oligopoly. I’m beginning to wonder if the whole Joule thing isn’t a modernized version…

      • Possibly. But, OTOH, “green” energy projects frequently turn out to be a pie-in-the-sky scheme to catch some public green (tax money).

        I can’t prove it, but my gut says these guys are for real. Guess we’ll see.

      • I can’t prove it, but my gut says these guys are for real. Guess we’ll see.

        So was mine. I just said I’m beginning to wonder. Just a little.

    • While Germany provides a great example of what not to do, Obumbles stumbles along the same path. Pathetic.

    • Germans can be super-smart with a million details while forgetting to question the principle. Like the idea of monetary union without fiscal union: it came with a million fabulous details. It’s just that the idea has never worked in the tide of the times. Never mind…on to Istanbul!

      Acres of solar panels, all no doubt calculated to be efficient, durable and well pitched…but they’re at 50+ degrees north. And it’s diffuse energy. And it’s intermittent.

      Never mind…on to Moscow (but just to ask that nice Mr Putin for the odd squirt of gas.)

  36. WTI crude, front month price, at a glance:

    • 6/30/2015
      Daqo New Energy announces initial production of it’s new 6000 MT silicon foundry that adds to a 12000 MT current output. New process will reduce price to $12kg.
      You should look at the price of pure silicon ingots since 2009. $80kg to $12kg NOW and they did it using less input energy. You can’t say that about the carbon resource extraction business. There must be so much intellectual brain power focused making the big break through on the whole storage issue from the iWatch to grid scale. I bet most forecasts are too conservative.

      • I bet the silicon foundries use fossil fuels, though. :) Reducing quartz to silicon is still energy intensive. And, finally, the price of silicon isn’t the only cost of solar sourced energy, as you should well know if you’ve been keeping up here at CE.

      • jim2 – Actually they use electricity to melt cheap sand in to silicon ingots. Who knows how they made the electricity that is used in their foundry but the point was they use less of it. The advancement of PV manufacturing is a perfect example of what you would expect with any exponentially growing technology. For some reason carbon resource extraction seems to bring out some of the worst aspects of humanity. From Russia to the Mideast, Western Africa and Venezuela it seems to lead to bad behavior.

      • Actually they use electricity to melt cheap sand in to silicon ingots.

        It’s much more complicated than that. Melt sand and you get glass, silica not silicon. After that, you have to reduce the silica to silicon, which also requires energy, although AFAIK most current technology uses chemical energy. That energy has to be reconstituted, though, which AFAIK depends on electricity.

        After that, the silicon has to be purified, which usually requires melting it and cooling again under specified conditions. That usually uses electricity.

        The economics are complex. Right now, AFAIK most silicon manufacture uses energy from the grid, which is mostly fossil-sourced. Before on-site solar power will be able to economically replace it, the storage problem has to be addressed. But just because silicon manufacture currently uses fossil-sourced energy doesn’t mean it won’t be using solar-sourced by the time it scales up to a significant proportion of global energy.