Week in review – energy, water, food edition

by Judith Curry

A few things that caught my eye this past week.


“The World’s Largest Solar Plant Just Torched Itself” [link]

Georgia Power gets green light on new nuclear plant [link]

Renewables just beat coal in the UK for the first time ever [link]…

“New form of carbon capture actually creates power, rather than consuming it” [link]

Cambridge: “CO2 can be stored underground for 10 times the length needed to avoid climatic impact” [link]

Nuclear power unaffected by extreme weather, even this unprecedented heat wave. Other sources not so good. [link]

Overselling California solar [link]

Analysis: Decline in China’s coal consumption accelerates [link]

Decentralized renewables & the rise of the micro-enterprise economy: [link]

Pumped Up: Renewables Growth Sparks Revival of Old Power-Storage Method [link]

Alex Epstein:  How Opposition To Fossil Fuels Hurts The Poor Most Of All [link]

When Clean Energy is Dirtier Than Coal: [link]

Methane leaks: A dirty little secret [link]

No **** Sherlock: Renewable Energy a Disaster Says New York Times [link]

Garden grass could be source of cheap renewable energy [link]

Lomborg: Rethinking energy efficiency policies [link]

Can the US close its nuclear plants without raising emissions? Two @UCLA researchers explain how hard it will be [link]

Beyond Cap-And-Trade: Environmentalists Say California Will Have Fewer Emissions, Better Policy If Ditches Program [link]

Why #solar will wreck the economics of #power markets  [link]

Pointman: The sun is setting on solar power, the money’s gone and nobody’s asking any questions.  [link]

Moving To Renewable Energy Is More Costly Than You Think  [link]

Renewables Subsidies Are Killing Nuclear and Threatening Climate Progress, Bloomberg New Energy Finance Study Shows [link]

Breakthrough:  We need existing nuclear for near-term climate goals. We need advanced nuclear for deep decarbonization. [link]

Opening up electricity markets to advanced energy technologies: [link]

Shell is shifting to natural gas as the industry adapts to climate change [link]

Reflexive Realism: Talking with Shell about climate change [link]



What Happens to the U.S. Midwest When the Water’s Gone? [link]

In wake of catastrophic floods, China questions whether #ThreeGorges Dam can stop disasters: [link]

More on the Three Gorges Dam’s flood control capabilities and its performance in one of the wettest seasons for China since the record-breaking El Niño event of 1997-98. [link]

Grain drain, Laos’ sand #Mining damaging the #Mekong [link]

Could China’s water harvesting “sponge cities” work in India? [link]

Looking to desalination as a way to reduce conflict in the Middle East  [link]


As Corn Devours U.S. Prairies, Greens Reconsider Biofuel Mandate [link]

Best piece of food journalism this year: “Welcome to Brazil, Where a Food Revolution Is Changing the Way People Eat” [link]

The fight for the future of food is here and the skies the limit for these hungry, hungry startups: http://bit.ly/2acsxP1

Jon Foley: Changing the global food narrative [link]

America Wastes Half The Food It Produces While Hunger Runs Rampant Around The Globe [link]

From field to fork: the six stages of wasting #food [link]


125 responses to “Week in review – energy, water, food edition

  1. Pingback: Week in review – energy, water, food edition – Enjeux énergies et environnement

  2. johnvonderlin

    “America Wastes Half The Food It Produces While Hunger Runs Rampant Around The Globe.” Like last week’s article about this issue this one does a disservice to the reality of food wastage. After I have a great day, I’ll try to post a comment this evening encapsulating my many objections to the article; its slant; the misuse of statistics, the exaggerations, the misdirections. etc. But, I’m sure the author would be glad to know that as a token of my desire to help, I’m going to fish the egg shells, chicken bones, used coffee grounds, and cantaluope rind out of my garbage and have them for lunch, reducing the alleged wastage..

  3. David Wojick

    In the context of many of the above articles, it is interesting, or should I say nuts, that EPA’s modeling for the goofy Clean Power Plan has solar replacing nuclear by 2050. Surely this is not the Federal energy policy that we want, but EPA makes our energy policy.

    • So the EPA has invented grid energy storage?

      • Ak that Navy patent has nothing to do with solar electricity energy storage in any meaningful sense. See last years guest post on grid storage for a still current survey of that landscape.

      • David Wojick

        I do not know. Here is the model:
        No idea how it handles storage, if at all.

      • Ak that Navy patent has nothing to do with solar electricity energy storage in any meaningful sense.

        Oh yes it does.

        And I’m sure you’re not talking to me when you say “[s]ee last years guest post on grid storage for […]”. I don’t count you as an expert on the subject, primarily because I read that post and made my own evaluation.

        In fact, I don’t count you as an expert in anything. I listen to you (read), but I do my own research before forming any opinion. And usually, I don’t agree. At least not entirely.

      • Curious George

        No. EPA plans a second Sun.

      • dougbadgero

        How is the NRL patent an energy storage device? It appears to be a method of making synthetic liquid fuels via hydrogen and CO2. Unless someone has repealed the laws of physics it is not an energy storage device.

      • Unless someone has repealed the laws of physics it is not an energy storage device.

        Of course it is.

  4. Midwest water. The article is about the Ogallala Aquifer. Wrote about it in Gaia’s Limits, chapter on food. It is correct that this is fossil water, and in many places will be fully depleted within a decade. At that point, center pivot irrigation stops and farming reverts to dryland. That means grasses for grazing cattle, and winter wheat. No corn, no soy, no alfalfa. Will mean tough times in north Texas, eastern Oklahoma, and west Kansas.
    Same issues in Northern India, where the impact on food and cotton will be much more severe by 2030. The Bangladesh arsenic poisoning issues are a result of the rapidly falling groundwater table.
    Already happened to Saudi Arabia. Main aquifer depleted, farming essentially stopped by 2000. Fresh water now comes from gas fired flash desalination plants. Almost all food except fish and high end fruits and vegetables (drip irrigation) is imported.
    Already happened in Egypt despite Nile irrigation. Over 60% of wheat is imported.
    On a global scale given ‘virtual water’ (imported food from elsewhere where water is from precipitation–only 20 percent of arable land is irrigated) world will be able to feed about 9.1-9.3 billion given yield improvements (GMO), spread of best practices (cultivars, fertilizer, pesticides), and net change in arable land (very small net increases, very strong decline in net arable hectares per capita). Maybe 9.5 billion with dietary changes (less meat, especially beef and pork, fewer total calories per capita in developed world). But not more. Gaia’s fundamental carrying capacity constraint. Anyone who thinks otherwise hasn’t run the numbers in detail or believes in miracles.

    • Gaia’s fundamental carrying capacity constraint. Anyone who thinks otherwise hasn’t run the numbers in detail or believes in miracles.

      Miracles=routine technological development.

      • AK, granted they have not occurred yet, so point out possible pathways. Science based possible pathways. Dwarfing has been done (reduce root/shoot ratios in rice and wheat). Cannot be done a second time. Hybrid vigor has been done. Cannot be done another time. GMO is being done. Except Europe won’t allow it. Golden rice GMO to solve the VAD problem has been done, and Greenpeace won’t allow it.
        As for miracles equalling routine technical development, know something about that. I have 13 hard won US patents. How many do you have?
        It is clear you have not run the numbers on food. Nor read chapter 3 of Gaia’s Limits.

      • I have 13 hard won US patents. How many do you have?


        I told my employer’s lawyers that IMO everything I developed was basically “state of the art”. This was when software patents were just getting started. I might have been wrong, but everything was so specific to our company’s software platform that I still think I was right that going to the effort would have been a waste of time. (But I won’t deny that there might have been some internal kudos from a few patents.)

        It is clear you have not run the numbers on food. Nor read chapter 3 of Gaia’s Limits.

        I’ve run some numbers. I’m not going to discuss paywalled stuff other readers may not be able to access.

        Your problem is that you’re not thinking out of your tiny little box of open agricultural land created from existing land. If humanity needs more agricultural land we can build it, floating on the ocean (parts that are naturally effectively sterile). As long as we’re building it, we can cover it with inflated polymer film, turning it into isolated greenhouses that can conserve 90-99% percent of irrigation water, protect from wind-borne viral, bacterial, fungal, and arthropod pests, allow substantial increases in CO2 (independent of atmospheric ratios), allow substantial reductions of O2 (independent of atmospheric ratios), and temperature control independent of insolation.

        It’s easy to dismiss such ideas based on today’s costs. But the last few century’s changes in costs, especially exponential reductions in costs of technology, should be enough to make any intelligent person skeptical of straw-man arguments based on today’s costs.

        And notice how such an approach can increase carrying capacity while reducing the human footprint.

      • Curious George

        General AK, thank you for making a lot of unsupported claims. I fully understand that your platform was so confidential that it can not be named. Not even 40 years later.

      • @Curious George…

        General AK, thank you for making a lot of unsupported claims.

        You’re welcome.

        I fully understand that your platform was so confidential that it can not be named.

        Proprietary corporate platforms generally aren’t given “names” It was just a bunch of proprietary software useful only for our business model. Most of the high-value design work I did was useful only for linking to/between internally developed software platforms only useful for our business model.

        Not even 40 years later.

        More like 20-25 years. And most of it is probably obsolete by now. (I left in 2001 so I don’t know to speak of.)

  5. “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” will be confirmed once again when leaders of nations and national academies of sciences openly admit that the message – indelibly recorded in rest masses of the 3,000 types of atoms that comprise all matter – overrules the lock-step, “97% consensus scientific support” for Standard Models of Climatology, Cosmology, Nuclear & Solar Physics!

    All of the unholy bonds holding nations and national academies of sciences together to deceive the public will be broken almost simultaneously.

  6. Good piece by Pointman on solar.
    In my small world I am inundated with ads shilling home solar.
    Complete with such brilliant lines as “ditch your old, outdated electricity for new modern electricity.”
    Reminds me of ‘Tin Men,’ squeezing the last dollars out of the marks before the scam is exposed.
    A facade with a 20 year contract.

    • Curious George

      That’s a 2012 blog post. Dollars are still flowing in 2016. I am tempted, just like Anthony, to take advantage of subsidies. But – I have a tall guttertile roof, and a leak could easily erase my savings. And no one guarantees that panels are earthquake proof.

  7. Carbon Brief:
    “Nearly half of the UK’s electricity came from renewables and nuclear in 2015”

  8. Pioneer Says Some US Fracking Costs Competitive with Saudis

    Improved fracking techniques have helped cut Pioneer Natural Resources Co’s production costs in the Permian Basin…low enough to compete with oil rival Saudi Arabia, CEO Scott Sheffield said on Thursday….

    “Definitely we can compete with anything that Saudi Arabia has,” he said…..

    Pioneer said it is now introducing its third generation of well completion techniques, called version 3.0, that is using even more sand and water than the super-sized volumes introduced at the start of the price crash to pull more oil out of rock….

    Wells fracked using completion techniques known as version 2.0 have produced about 2,000 barrels per day in their early days, double what they were producing with earlier wells.

    • GS, bluster from Pioneer. Their V3 may be better than V2 in the Permian basin. But the WSJ says that average Saudi 2016 cost is $8/bbl. I do not think that true of Pioneer in the Permian

      • Forbes Feb 3 2016 estimates Permian frack costs from about $25/bbl to about $45/bbl depending on target formation and county. That is 3x to over 5x Saudi Arabia.

      • ristvan,

        I have no idea what you’re talking about.

        The latest Wall Street Journal article I’ve seen (April 15, 2016) reported production costs for Saudi Arabia of $3.00 per barrel. Here’s the graphic from the article:

        It reported production costs for U.S. shale at $5.85 per barrel. Again, here’s the graphic from the article:

        Sheffield is saying that, with the new fracking techniques, it is possible to reduce production costs from $5.85 to $2.25, which is less than Saudi Arabia’s $3.00.

        Sheffield adds that, in a $55 per barrel oil price environment, the industry should be able to grow oil produciton in the Permian Basin from the current 2 million BOPD to 5 million BOPD.

        Of course, it goes without saying that the potential would be much greater in, for instance, a $100 per barrel oil price environment.

      • ristvan said:

        Forbes Feb 3 2016 estimates Permian frack costs from about $25/bbl to about $45/bbl depending on target formation and county. That is 3x to over 5x Saudi Arabia.

        Well again, I have no idea what you’re talking about. This is certainly not a vernacular that anyone in the oil industry would ever use.

      • Curious George

        Insiders – please stop leaking trade secrets. Or, shut up.

      • You post counter charts whose bottom line is near 3x. Your own charts. We are in a fact dogfight. You just got bit.

      • ristvan,

        You’re like a bulldog that’s fallen in love with Peak Oil theory, and no reality and no common sense can penetrate your mind. But in the end, regardless of what epistemology Willard’s pitching, the fact/theory dichotomy has not collapsed.

        Sheffield didn’t say that Pioneer’s total cost to produce a barrel was $2.25. What he said was that Pioneer’s “production cost,” using the new fracking techniques, has dropped to $2.25 per barrel. For those in the oil business, “produciton cost” has a very specific meaning. The reason it has dropped is because, as Sheffield explains, wells completed using version 2.0 are producing double what those completed with version 1.0 produced. And further production gains are expected with version 3.0. Thus a drop from the $5.85 that the Wall Street Journal cited to $2.25 is not at all unrealistic, given the far better well performance of wells completed with the newer technology.

        Sheffield also said that an oil price environment of $55 per barrel would be needed to grow Permian Basin oil production from 2 to 5 million BOPD. To make a profit at $55 oil, the total cost to produce a barrel of oil would need to be around $18, about $6 per barrel less than the $23.55 figure that the Wall Street Journal cited.

      • GS, lets let the denizens decide who has the better argument. They can research that themselves.

      • ristvan said:

        GS, lets let the denizens decide who has the better argument.

        That’s about the only thing you’ve said so far that makes any sense.

        If nothing else, folks can look at the proven, demonstrated performance of the frackers to date.

        And this was achieved using version 1.0. Imagine what they can achieve using version 3.0 if oil recovers to the $60 to $70 range.

      • The newer completion technologies also reduce the decline curve. And, wells can be re-fracked using the newer techniques. And, the previously fracked wells shut in due to lower prices can recover previous production levels within about a week.

      • jim2 said:

        The newer completion technologies also reduce the decline curve.

        That’s right. If we look at the production history of earlier wells that Pioneer completed using Version 1.0, they pretty much follow the 1 MMBOE type curve.

        Wells completed using Version 2.0 clearly outperform those using version 1.0, and this is especially true with the passing of time, as there is a significant reduciton in the decline curve. And for the handful of wells that Pioneer has completed using Version 3.0, production doesn’t begin to depart significantly from wells completed using Version 2.0 until after the first 60 days of production. Version 3.0 is not about initial potentials, but the reduction of decline curves.

      • Here is a page from Pioneer’s latest earnings report showing the wide variation of production costs for various types of wells it operates in different fields.

        The $2.25 per barrel production costs for the Permian horizontal wells is not only because of their greater production volumes, but also because there is a 4,000 foot shale column in the Permian, with at least seven and potentially as many as 10 or 12 distinct shale intervals that wells can be completed in.

        So instead of building one drilling pad and one tank batter for one or two wells, a tank battery can be built to accomodate multiple wells. Here’s a photo, for instance, of one of Pioneer’s tank batteries. As one can see by the number of separators and heater treaters, this particular tank battery has 13 different leases flowing into it.

        This allows for cost savings from economies of scale that cannot be realized in other fields.

      • Glenn, that pic of the oilfield brings back fond memories. Once the oilfield is in your blood, there’s no getting rid of it.

  9. In UK “renewables” are currently 25% wind&solar and 75% biomass. Biomass, of course, is not renewable at all and has higher CO2 output/MWh than coal. So, not much has changed in the UK. Drax converted to wood chips and the UK shut down some old coal plants. Wind and solar stil have minor contribution to electric power and almost zero (2.5% to primary power.

    • I do not understand why green politicians are enamoured with biomass. It isn’t renewable more like pre-fossil.

      • Biomass, of course, is not renewable at all and has higher CO2 output/MWh than coal.

        It isn’t renewable more like pre-fossil.

        Of course it’s renewable. Especially with proper coppicing.

        Using such techniques with ramet forming species gives a double whammy:

        When woody plants form clonal colonies, they often remain connected through the root system, sharing roots, water and mineral nutrients.

        A coppiced ramet can form new suckers that spring, which can grow extra-fast because they have access to sugar from more established ramets, as well as nutrients from an already well-established root system.

        It’s even possible that with a little GM (nobody would have to eat it) suckers could be grafted onto coppiced ramets that would grow even faster.

  10. Glenn Stehle,

    I think you made this chart:

    Can you please tell me how you calculated the subsidies for solar. I have calculated the same as you for all the other technologies, but I haven’t found the total electricity generation for all solar in US in 2013. This EIA report starts in 2014:

    The Federal share of subsidies is here:

    The total generation for all other technologies is here. http://www.eia.gov/electricity/data/browser/#/topic/0 . But the solar figure is for utility scale only. Can you give me the source for generation for all US solar generation in 2013?

    • Peter,

      I’ve slept since then, but I think I lifted those from a chart of Schellenberger.s This was the reference he cited.


      If you scroll down to Table ES2:Quantified energy-specific subsidies and support by type, FY 2010 and FY 2013 (million 2013 dollars)

      TOTAL Solar: 5328

      Then if you scrol down to Table Table ES5. Measures of electricity production and growth

      Solar 2013 Net Generation (billion kilowatt-hours); 19 (9 utility and 10 distributed)

      $5328 million/19 million kilowatt-hours = $280/megawatt hour

    • In continuing to show the above graph, Mr. Lang continues to show a lack of knowledge of historical or current U.S. Tax Policy.

      The above solar number is primarily driven by an “investment tax credit” (ITC) on the capital costs. As a one-time tax credit, the ITC is usually taken when the project is placed in service.

      What the above chart (evidently developed by Mr. Stehle and not on the EIA website) conveniently omits are two significant pieces of information on nuclear power:

      (1) Investment Tax Credits on Existing Nuclear when they were originally placed in service (just like solar is now doing).

      (2) 2 major subsidies available to New Nuclear — a Tax Credit (when the units will be place-in-service), and the DOE Guaranteed Loan Program (same program as Solyndra).

      If we modified Mr. Stehle’s above graph to include these missing pieces of nuclear power information we’d have:

      Solar Subsidy: $280
      Wind Subsidy: $35
      Existing Nuclear: ~$120 (stated in 2016 dollars).
      New Future Nuclear: ~$147 (Based on Georgia PSC data on Vogtle).

      Of course, there are additional subsidies for nuclear in addition to the Tax Credit and Loan Guarantee.

      Sources to check my validity:

      • As I already stated above, I’m merely channeling MICHAEL SHELLENBERGER. So since he’s such a good bud of yours, as you frequently claim, maybe you should take it up with him.

        I took his numbers and replotted them so that one can see the full impact of the way in which solar subsidies are so outsized compared to other energy sources.

        Here’s Shellenberger’s original graph:


      • I have previously provided about a dozen links written by Michael or his Organization which clearly show he is not calling for the elimination of wind, solar subsidiesas you and Mr. Lang keep on incorrectly stating.

        The clearest example is Michael calling to include existing nuclear into State Renewable Energy Programs.

        While I’ll state it again, Michael’s position (and mine also) pretty much follows this LA Times Editorial:

        where the key point was: Congress and State Legislators should support the nuclear sector in the same way it’s helping wind and solar.


      • Mr. Stehle Your’s and Mr. Lang’s message on Renewables is completely opposite to what Michael is saying.

      • Stephen Segrest,

        Let me state it for the record one more time. I merely took Michael Shellenberger’s numbers and presented them in a different form.

        If you have problems with those numbers, take it up with Shellenberger.

      • Mr. Stehle — For the record then, what have been your arguments on tax credits for Renewables in the context of your chart? Have you been trying to make a point (that Mr. Lang is clearly making)? Or do you have no opinion, and are just stating some data?

      • Stephen Segrest,

        Your challenge was to the accuracy of the numbers in the chart.

        So let me state one more time for the record. If you have a problem with the numbers in the chart, take it up with Mr. Shellenberger.

      • Mr. Stehle — No my criticism was that you left out key data that you obviously didn’t even know about — only showing part of the picture. But, you’ve answered my question that everyone can see — You have no opinion on Renewable Tax Credits that you wish to back up, you’re just presenting a graph. Easy way to get off the hook, when everybody knows what your intent was.

      • Stephen Segrest,

        Let me state this for the record for the third time.

        Those figures are Michael Shellenberger’s, and if you belive that he “left out key data” then you need to take it up with him.

  11. “Renewables just beat coal in the UK for the first time ever”

    The linked article is actually titled “Six charts show UK progress towards low-carbon energy”

    The most revealing chart is “UK energy use by sector (Mtoe), 1970-2015”

    It reveals that from 1972 to 2015 industrial energy use dwindled to about 1/3 of its previous value. All of the energy savings for these 33 years came from this one sector. The UK simply outsourced its industrial output, and these charts provide no clue whether the successor nations were more or less energy efficient in those endeavors.

    In today’s western society that passes for progress.

  12. “What Happens to the U.S. Midwest When the Water’s Gone?”

    Water can’t “go” unless the oceans boil off (as James Hansen would have us believe). There is effectively unlimited water in the oceans and effectively unlimited energy (nuclear) available for desalination. Therefore, water is effectively unlimited. Distribution is technically solvable but a cost item.

  13. Mr. Lang continues to show a lack of knowledge in (1) integrated grid engineering economics; (2) U.S. Tax Policy and energy subsidies; and (2) U.S. regulated and de-regulated markets.

    Clearly, he is also not a nuclear engineer. Yet he continues to profess knowledge that no one must ever challenge. His latest claim was on the current load following capabilities on nuclear units.

    The following report is not from say the Sierra Club, or Greenpeace. It’s from the World Nuclear Organization:

    (1) Go to: http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/country-profiles/countries-a-f/france.aspx

    (2) Scroll down about half way on page and click on the link: Load-following with PWR nuclear plants

    Does CE have any Nuclear Engineers reading this? If so please comment on load following and the nuclear fuel cycle — e.g. when the fuel cycle is +65%, essentially no power variation is allowed.

    Unlike Mr. Lang’s “not to be questioned” claim, this WNO paper’s conclusion emphasized the importance of hydro and the limited capability of nuclear.

  14. Mr Segrest – you must have missed this sentence from your link –

    Plants being built today, eg according to European Utilities’ Requirements (EUR), have load-following capacity fully built in.

    The Westinghouse AP1000(not a EU design) can load follow for up to 90% of the fuel cycle.

    Having said that a nuclear plant is an expensive intra-hour peaker…open cycle gas turbines can do intra-hour load following at a fraction of the cost.

    • A lot of the anti-nuke people like to talk about older designs. Willful ignorance at best.

      • Quoting the WNO is willful ignorance?

        My point is simple and clear — Existing nuclear appears to have a difficult time following load based on its fuel cycle. You (and Others) never wanted to talk about this engineering concept. Its your constant cherry-picking.

    • No harrywr2 — I saw that. Mr. Lang’s argument was that existing nuclear was routinely used to follow load in France and could do also in the U.S.

      This question remains — can existing nuclear in the U.S. follow load as Mr. Lang argues? Based on the fuel cycle concept — apparently not.

      • Segrest,

        Please quote what I said (with full context) and link to where I said nuclear load follows in the US.

        I don’t recall saying that. Since you habitually misrepresent me and others, and since I have shown many time previously that you are a habitual liar and habitually dishonest, I suspect this is another example of your dishonesty. I’ve also addressed the Greens’ biased and distorted arguments about subsidies for nuclear on many previous threads. There is no point debating anything with a person who is incapable of a rational, honest debate.

      • Mr. Lang’s — My last reference is last weeks’ post on the importance of load following where I cited an article and Dr. simply thanked me for the link. You went into a typical long diatribe to Dr. Curry of me and the authors being dishonest (which is a common theme of you).

      • Where’s the quote and the link to where you claim I said US reactors load follow. ? If you can’t or wont provide the quote and the link, it would be fair to assume you are just misrepresenting and lying about what I said again, as you do habitually. Typical Greens behaviour.

  15. 2016’s Most & Least Energy-Expensive States:


    What surprised me was California’s rank as one of the lowest electricity costs (monthly bill).

    This follows up on European data (previously posted) where customers in Germany (and Others) pay equal or less than the U.S. in their monthly electricity bill.

    Must be something here (that never gets discussed at CE) on the impact of efficiency or energy-wise use and price elasticity. Wonder if TOU is a pricing mechanism used often in Europe?

    • Jesus Segrest. Do you think anyone here is going to fall for that nonsense? Compare California weather to New York and Texas, then report back.

    • Average lowest electricity costs(Total bill) for California are easy to explain.

      Prevailing winds are west to east in the Northern Hemisphere. The pacific ocean creates a nice temperature moderator for the west coast of the US.

      No such moderator exists east of the Cascades/Rocky mountains.

      I.E. I live west of the Cascades…if I took my exact same house and exact same lifestyle and moved east 80 miles my energy consumption would double.

      To some extend the same is phenomenon is true for West Europe.

      London,UK is further north then Toronto,UK but snow is uncommon in London due to the moderating effects of the Atlantic Ocean.

  16. Financial Times on the UK Hinkley Nuclear Power Plant:

  17. This is an important link to read on Electricity Generation Planning from Nature:


    While I don’t know what Dr. Curry’s company does — Companies like her’s are involved in gathering regional weather information that is applied to wind and solar to calculate an effective capacity factor — e.g., capacity when the Utility needs it like at peak.

    Using this type of approach, I’ve seen solar projects in Nevada receiving a factor in the 90s.

    • Weather forecasting for wind and solar energy generation focused mostly on the period up to 48 hours. My company mostly addresses longer time horizons, we do have several extended range forecast products out there and we are in early discussions with Planning Engineer to develop something along these lines for his company.

    • David Wojick

      Predicting that solar will be available at peak in Nevada is easy. It is in the middle of hot sunny days. I am surprised it is not 100% accurate. Elsewhere not so easy.

    • johnvonderlin

      Thanks for the link. I’m glad other countries are attempting transition before us. Nothing like learning from the mistakes of those that have gone before you to guide your future strategy. I’m not sure a small country, 16,000 sq. miles and 5 million folks nestled among many others is particularly applicable to our 3 million plus sq. miles and 300 million plus energy hogs. But, there must be some useful lessons. A quick check shows Denmark with the highest average KW price at 41 cents, compared to our 12 cents. That certainly sounds a cautionary warning to me.

      • johnvonderlin — I hope I’ve always been clear that I’m certainly no expert on Europe. Like most folks in the U.S. electricity biz, I am watching places like Germany’s experiment with great interest.

        Being a “good student” of watching this experiment means not jumping to conclusions (which the anti-Renewables crowd here a CE does all the time).

        Looking at the components of electricity prices in Denmark illustrates my point:

        Denmark has among the lowest electricity costs in Europe, it is their VAT and Other taxes which drive this cost to the high level you referenced.


        But make no mistake, the point you bring up is excellent. We need to understand and know the pieces parts of the EU experiment. One aspect that I would love to see is the transmission cost infra-structure that’s is being incurred.

      • dougbadgero


        That Denmark has the lowest electricity costs excepting taxes is playing fast and loose with reality. Renewables have very low marginal operating costs, this is common knowledge to those of us in the business. Those taxes are what support the capital investment that built those windmills in the first place.

      • dougbadgero — So you are saying the numbers shown do not reflect any capital cost recovery? How do you know this? How do you know the numbers only reflect marginal costs of fuel and O&M and no capital cost recovery (revenue requirements)? Please correct me — I didn’t see your statement said.

      • dougbadgero,

        Watch out for Segrest. He habitually misrepresents what others have said, then distorts and twists it and tries to say you said something you didn’t. It needs to be pointed out every time. He continually makes up strawman. He is a habitual liar.

  18. China: 17.8% “clean”energy, 64% coal. 1% reduction in coal energy needs >5% increase in clean OUTPUT.

    If solar and wind are the providers, with 24% efficiencies, 1% decrease in coal energy requires >20% increase in solar/wind CAPACITY.

    It takes two hours to reduce coal energy output by 1%. How long (and at what price) does it take to increase solar and wind capacity by 20%?

    Chinese coal use decline must be issues of new plant efficiency and reduced economic activity of high energy businesses. The time parameters do not support the Greenpeace narrative.

  19. The Pointman post on solar is back from April of 2012 and details dozens of PV companies going bankrupt.Green blogs and writers are now touting how cheap solar has become. Are these low prices due to consolidation or a glut? Solar PV panels are only a fraction of the cost of solar energy. The rest is stuff like wiring, mounting, inverters and maintenance. Are these getting any cheaper?

  20. Background — Per the EIA, the current penetration level of Solar in the U.S. is about one-half of 1%.

    Probably the biggest thing that irks me about Mr. Lang’s comments is his constant use of LCOE (generation basis) comparing nuclear with solar. In the “real world” this is comparing apples to oranges — as they are currently different technologies for different loads. Base load versus Peaking.

    Want to be a “Electricity Planner”? Go to this website, choose the LCOE option, and select both a nuclear and solar option with a 20% capacity factor. See what the LCOE is for both options for a peaking load requirement.


    • Segrest,

      The biggest think that irks me about you is that you you are are habitually dishonest. You continually misrepresent what I and others say, and continue to do so even when you’ve been corrected on your misrepresentations over and over again. Typical behaviour of extremist Greens advocates. Repugnant ethics and certainly not that of a Professional Engineer, which you are not and I expect never have been.

    • dougbadgero

      Interesting website. It assumes all sources are dispatchable so it is not really useful for the comparison you suggest. However, it does illustrate why you shouldn’t build a nuclear plant unless you expect it to be base loaded.

      The effective load carrying capacity of solar is about 50% at low penetration…it varies widely dependent on location. It drops as penetration level rises. Wind is even worse at about 9%.

      • dougbadgero Finally, we have a basis of a constructive dialogue! You are absolutely correct that as say solar penetration increases, its value becomes less and less as it picks off lower and lower cost generation on the economic dispatch.

      • dougbadgero As I said previously today — I’ve seen effective capacity factors for solar of +90% in Nevada and +80% in New York State (and Others) using the engineering approach of incorporating historical weather data. Will provide probably NREL links when I have time.

  21. Mr. Lang — By your standards, anyone who disagrees with you is dishonest. At least go take an engineering class in integrated system engineering economics. You didn’t even know what a MAPS type model was when I started balking at your statements. But you have your own model that you developed in Excel which is better than anything GE (with decades of experience and actual planning engineers) could come up with. GE and me don’t have your “Big Picture”.

  22. I believe that in making new generation decisions (whether nuclear, or natural gas, or Renewables) that one must follow sound state-of-the-art practices of integrated system engineering economics.

    Mr. Lang calls this building a strawman.

    I adamantly oppose a Federally mandated Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, which would take decision making out of the hands of our engineers and put it will Washington Politicians.

  23. Segrest,

    Repeatedly misrepresenting what others have said is dishonest. Continuing to repeat the same misrepresentation on many successive threads, after having been corrected on that misrepresentation repeatedly, is grossly dishonest. Asserting someone said something or meant something without quoting what they actually said in full with full context or honestly explaining the contest, is dishonest. These behaviours demonstrates you are dishonest, a habitual liar and have low moral standards. Therefore, nothing you say should be trusted.

  24. Re the discussion upthread about electricity costs. Here’s a look into how Ontario is pricing away affordable power in order to look green.


  25. From the article:

    Oil prices dip below $40 a barrel on worry over OPEC supply, rig count rise


    • There’s been a 60 rig uptick in US rig count since May. Of that 60 rig increase, 40 were in the Permian Basin.

      When the oil prices hit $50, I think a lot of companies hedged at that price.

      Permian Basin wells using frack Version 2.0 look like they’re going to make about 240,000 BOE in the first year of production — 210,000 BO and 175,000 MCFG.

      Assuming an 80% Net Revenue Interest, that’s 168,000 BO and 140,000 MCFG net to the operator.

      With production costs of $2.25 per barrel and production and ad valorem taxes of $2.74, the cash margin with an oil price of $50 is $45.

      168,000 BO x $45 = $7,560,000
      140,000 MCFG x $2 = 280,000
      TOTAL = $7,840,000

      Pioneer is saying the cost to drill a horizontal Permian well and frack it using the new Version 2.0 was about $7 to 7.5 million.

      So they’re looking at a payout of less than a year with an oil price of $50. And at the end of that year the well is still producing several hundred BOPD due to the reduction of decline rates achieved with Verson 2.0 fracking technology, with remaining EURs of well over 1 million BOE. Talk about a printing press! That’s like minting money.

      Pioneer is of course drilling its sweet spots first. But the Permian and Delaware basins are so vast there are many of those.

      It may be quite a while before we see oil prices rebound above $70 per barrel, because currently the cost to proudce that marginal barrel is below $70.

      • S.A, Iran, and Russia are in a race to the bottom to supply Asia. Talk about cutting off your nose …

  26. Electricity markets have been dramatically changing in the U.S. One aspect of this is capacity auctions

    In the PJM auctions, existing nuclear units have made headlines because they were above the clearing price. For a casual observer often not up to speed in these changing markets, this is somewhat confusing as the existing nuclear units’ capital cost has to be recovered by now — compared to newer units (e.g., natural gas).

    Why can’t existing nuclear compete in capacity markets?

    (1) Is it because when existing nuclear bids into a capacity auction, it includes very high retrofit capital additions required to keep it operating?

    (2) Or does it involve some questionable market manipulation as the two stories below suggest:


    (3) Or something else — like how capacity auctions are built for peak demand?

  27. Transmission and the New York Clean Power Plan: http://www.eenews.net/stories/1060041006

  28. The Georgia Power nuclear go-ahead is refreshing good news – in stark contrast to the entrenched decision paralysis in the UK.

    The PSC’s staff had recommended that the commission put off a decision on the new nuclear plant until 2019.

    But Commissioner Stan Wise, who made the motion, said growing pressure from the federal government on states to reduce carbon emissions from coal-burning power plants coupled with the volatility of natural gas prices make additional nuclear power an option that can’t wait.

    “The void has to be replicated with something that is cost effective and maintains our diverse portfolio [of energy sources],” he said. “I refuse to sit on my hands and defer a decision to a future commission.”

    Good for Stan Wise. But after making statements like that I doubt he would even be allowed to enter the UK.

  29. RE: “The World’s Largest Solar Plant Just Torched Itself”

    The penchant of Ivanpah for toasting thousands of birds and its own tower should remind the proponents that Archimedes invented the solar concentrator 2,200 years ago as a weapon of mass destruction. He toasted invading Roman ships with this awesome weapon. Given Ivanpah could not make ends meet as a solar plant, just convert it into a defense system that toasts incoming enemy missiles and fighter jets. These supersonic weapons are no match to the Death Ray that travels at the speed of light.

  30. Curious George — I continue to look for that “SIMPLE” and “PERFECT” example of an effective capacity factor that engineers use in evaluating intemittant Renewables. While I haven’t found the perfect article, I have found perhaps the perfect picture:

    LOLP means Loss of Load Probability

    Graph is from PacifiCorp testimony of their long range Integrated Resource Plan.

    As I’ve tried to explain, when an Utility System needs new capacity, they don’t need it 24X7 — they need it at a peak time(s). So when people argue that solar doesn’t work at night — well, the Utility doesn’t need its capacity at night.

    I’ve seen graphs like this also for Nevada and New York State.

  31. New York State Commission saves Existing Nuclear by giving subsidy pretty close to that given Renewables:


    Their formula was interesting — involving things like the social cost of carbon and the region’s cap and trade.

  32. President Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) just doesn’t make sense for existing nuclear — and perhaps explains California’s actions to retire Diablo Canyon. The logic: If CA retires Diablo Canyon and replaces it with Renewables, CA gets credit under the CPP. If CA keeps Diablo Canyon in service, CA gets zilch under the CPP. HUH????


  33. RE: Methane leaks

    “Carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for more than 500 years; methane just for 12. But the latter is about 25 times more potent.”

    This is an often repeated lie by those who wish to undermine methane as a greenhouse gas. “25 times more potent” spreads the warming effect over 100 years. But methane stays in the atmosphere for just 12 years. The correct number is over 87 times. They should state the real effect over 12 years, not the imaginary effect over 100 years.

    • Reducing emissions of methane, black carbon, HFCs, and smog (called SLCPs) is a common ground mitigation effort that people like Dr. Curry and Nobel prize winning scientists like Dr. Molina (a CAGW Warmist) can both agree on.

  34. I previously showed where the 2013 chart developed by Mr. Stehle is inappropriate as no nuclear plantswent into service that year. If an existing or new nuclear unit would have gone in service in 2013, the graph would be very different.

    I found a paper by Mark Cooper which illustrates even further the inappropriateness of this graph — that I will quote below:

    While Mr. Lang (and Others) complains “about the subsidies that are bringing Renewables into the market today, analysis of the historical pattern demonstrates that the cumulative value of federal subsidies for nuclear power dwarfs the value of subsidies for Renewables and efficiency. Nuclear received much larger subsidies in its developmental stage and enjoyed truly massive subsidies compared to other resources as it grew.”

    “There can be debate about the current level of subsidies, particularly given the difficulty of valuing the nuclear insurance and waste subsidies which are existential rather than material. However, there is no doubt that the long-term subsidization of nuclear power vastly exceeds the
    subsidization of Renewables and efficiency by an order of magnitude of 10 to 1.”

  35. Nuclear Power Executives on being competitive: “We are not going to cost cut our way out of this problem” — Nukes need more revenues from federal or state sources: http://www.eenews.net/stories/1060040694

  36. Easy read and excellent article on Existing Nuclear Power Plants. A “must read” for anyone wanting to be a serious energy student: https://www.sparklibrary.com/addressing-plight-existing-nuclear-part-1/

  37. More on the New York Clean Energy Plan to save existing nuclear — which compensates using the social cost of carbon: http://www.utilitydive.com/news/with-clean-energy-standard-new-york-looks-to-save-nukes-skirt-legal-chall/423673/