Week in review – energy and policy edition

by Judith Curry

A few things that caught my eye this past week.

Well, actually, the past month; it’s been a while since I’ve done an energy thread.

Fossil fuels

Beginning of the end for fossil power [link]

Much of huge change in energy/co2 during Obama years due not to POTUS but fracking [link]

Addicted to Oil: U.S. Gasoline Consumption is Higher than Ever [link] …

Southern’s $6.9 Billion Clean #Coal Plant Produces First Power [link]

‘Green’ China Investing Massively in Fossil Fuel Power” [link]

New Bangladesh coal power plant “will be big enough to provide around 10% of the country’s electricity generation” [link]

Southeast Asian Nations Plan Huge Expansion Of Fossil Fuel Economy [link]

Shell CEO: Red lights on path to greener energy [link]

Renewables and nuclear

#CostaRica demonstrates life w/o #fossilfuels is possible by running on 100% #renewableenergy for 2 months straight: [link] …

Interesting piece on #solar & molten-salt storage & how they are a sustainable #energy security match [link]

Biofuels cause four times more carbon emissions [link]

The Race To Clean Energy May Leave Utilities In The Dust [link]

A reality check on renewable energy potential [link] …

New @NREL study shows E US grid can operate reliably with 30% #wind + #solar [link]

Portugal cuts green subsidies = renewables fall off the cliff [link] …

Terrestrial Energy’s Advanced Nuclear Technology – The IMSR – Takes Several Steps Forward [link]

Scotland hosts first offshore tidal turbines to deliver electricity to grid: [link]

The federal government itself is shifting to clean energy — and the Navy is leading the way [link]

Battery that could revolutionise renewables on trial in Scotland [link]

What if renewables + storage needs ‘baseload’ more than ever? [link]

Former Unilever chief scientist promotes Stable Salt Reactor as cheaper alternative to Hinkley  [link]

New Nuclear Designs Are Great. Don’t Expect to See Any of Them for Decades [link]

So it was wind power that caused the South Australia blackout after all, says Australian Energy Market Operator [link]  …

Review of supercritical CO2 power cycle technology for nuclear power [link]

This engineer wants to convince you that nuclear is just what the climate needs [link] …

“Are lithium-ion batteries reaching the point of diminishing returns?”  [link]

Ethanol is the wrong solution [link]

Offgrid solar lighting up Ethiopia [link]

A small island in the India Ocean offers big lessons on clean power [link]

MIT:  Calculating the financial risks of renewable energy [link]

The long-running biofuel boondoggle is hamstringing US refiners at the worst possible time: [link]

Policies focused on solar & wind will contribute only marginally to solving #globalwarming. [link]

Solar Panel Plan Is Basically A $206 Billion Handout To China, Report Finds [link]

Department of Energy Task Force Backs @EnvProgress Call for Temporary Subsidy to Save Nuclear Plants [link]


.@GulfPower’s investments in storm-hardening technology have significantly reduced power outages [link]

Armor for the grid: the grid is vulnerable to attack [link]

“The extraordinary decoupling between economic growth and [CO2 emissions] is happening” [link]

The birth and troubled childhood of an American super grid [link]

Why smart utilities are embracing distributed #electricity: [link]

New regulatory approaches for #electricity #utilities: [link]


Memo to next president: Here’s how to avoid our history of energy policy mistakes. [link] …

An energy policy based on wishful thinking [link]

David Battie:  An unprecedented challenge [link]

The historical context of court battle over the U.S. Clean Power Plan [link]

The carbon tax is not just political; it’s ineffective, too [link]

US emissions set to miss 2025 target in Paris climate change deal [link]

The Paris Climate Accords will cost developing economies in Asia $3 billion a year [link]

Bloomberg editorial: Fuel Subsidies Are the World’s Dumbest Policy [link]

The real cost of environmental regulation: ‘many Indians won’t get the benefits that go with air-conditioning.’ [link]

Energy efficiency: The enormous scale of all the energy that we never used: [link]

83 responses to “Week in review – energy and policy edition

  1. The sanity of free enterprise capitalism is now being practiced around the world:

    “China is investing massively in fossil fuel energy – not just at home but across the world, such as this project in the former Yugoslavia.”

  2. “The point of the project is to demonstrate “a more modern, customer-centric grid.” That sounds a lot better than our current aging, profit-centric grid.”


      • Yes. Judith cites an article above blaming it and on the wind. Usually their are multiple contributors to such an outage (though a major storm by itself can be enough). But all else equal the grid is likely to do better with synchronous generation as opposed to asynchronous intermittent generation. In this case it looks like a balance with more conventional generation would have limited the consequences and the blackout could have been avoided.

      • “Blaming it on the wind” is a disingenuous bit of deflection. Read the entire article – it shows how politics trumped facts and sound practices/policies before and especially after the catastrophic failure of wind-based energy supply.

      • harkin – It isn’t “trumped facts” just because you say it is. “Perception is reality” isn’t. From the article:

        The weather resulted in multiple transmission system faults. In the short time between 16:16 and 16:18, system faults included the loss of three major 275 kV transmission lines north of Adelaide.

        Generation initially rode through the faults, but at 16:18, following an extensive number of faults in a short period, 315 MW of wind generation disconnected (one group at 16:18:09, a second group at 16:18:15), also affecting the region north of Adelaide.

        The uncontrolled reduction in generation resulted in increased flow on the main Victorian interconnector (Heywood) to make up the deficit. This resulted in the Heywood Interconnector overloading. To avoid damage to the interconnector, the automatic-protection mechanism activated, tripping the interconnector. In this event, this resulted in the remaining customer load and electricity generation in SA being lost (referred to as a Black System).

    • I think of it more like Customer = micro grid/nano grid.
      Current grid w/centralized power plants = telephone landline w/central office.
      The future grid will adopt the topology of cellular phone networks.

      I won’t try a guess when this will happen en-mass but like most new technology it will reach a tipping point and the whole world will switch over at about the same speed as the internet is connecting societies.

    • There are many investor owned utilites. But there are also municipal, federal and non-profit cooperatives who plan, build and operate portions of the grid. While these entities have differing drivers in many cases, the grid philosophy’s are not significantly different to suggest that the grid is driven by “profit” considerations.

      A column here a little bit ago referenced an article in this publication on “Drivers of the Grid”. https://issuu.com/hungryeyemedia/docs/rmel_electric_energy_issue_2_2016

    • PE, Here is the AEMO preliminary report:

      Greg Kaan, who sometimes comments on CE wrote tow good letters to the Australian Energy and Environment Minister. He posted them on Energy matters here:

      Greg is an electrical engineer in South Australia. He clearly knows a lot about the National Electricity Market system, not just in SA.,

      • Peter-I see this getting some attention in the US and maybe it will grow with time if those with particular knowledge can effectively convey the concerns. It’s not getting traction and widespread attention with anything near the scale and speed as foreign “cyber events”.

      • Thank you, PE. I agree. I suspect the issue of wind and solar reducing the reliability of electricity supply systems wont get much attention until there is a major blackout in Europe, GB or in one of the US grids.

      • Again, can we have some objective discussion on Renewables here at CE? Of course not. As the most frequent Commentors here at CE constantly show — they will only discuss the potential negative.

        One of thousands of articles (that Lang would call from “junk engineers or not engineers at all, or intellectually dishonest engineers” at MIT) showing some positives:

        Go to page 24 of the 2nd MIT article ( http://energy.mit.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/MITEI-RP-2011-001.pdf ):


        According to (NERC, 2009) modern wind turbine generators can meet equivalent technical performance requirements provided by
        conventional generation technologies with proper control strategies, system design, and implementation. In combination with advanced forecasting techniques, it is now possible to design variable generators with a full range of performance capability that is comparable, and in some cases superior, to that in conventional synchronous generators. This includes voltage and VAR control and regulation, voltage ride-through, power curtailment and ramping, primary frequency regulation and inertial response.

      • The real cost of electrical energy
        by the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers.

        Note: Professional Engineers, not green advocates who promote economically irrational policies to subsidise and incentivise nonsynchronous, intermittent, weather-dependent, hugely costly, low CF, renewable energy, which also require hugely costly transmission systems and reduce the reliability of the electricity system.

      • “According to (NERC, 2009) modern wind turbine generators can meet equivalent technical performance requirements provided by
        conventional generation technologies with proper control strategies, system design, and implementation.”

        The problem with this sentence, Stephen, is that it is also true of every Rube Goldberg machine. Modern hamsters and billiard balls can meet the equivalent technical performance requirements provided by a hand to turn the page of a newspaper. http://coolmaterial.com/roundup/rube-goldberg-machines/
        To put it another way, your feet can perform the same function as a 757 jet yet most people do not walk across the country and are not persuaded to do so by the fact that it’s possible.
        But guess what, last time I had to go across country I used both my feet and the airplane and I did it without a federal mandate that some arbitrary percentage of my trip be by foot and without federal shoe subsidies.

      • jeffnsails850 I could link to hundreds of written opinions from sources like MIT, University of Chicago, NREL, EPRI ….. etc. and it just wouldn’t matter to you and most others here at CE.

      • The problem with Lang is that he clearly has never taken a formal course in integrated grid engineering economics — nor has he ever run sophisticated software (like GE MAPS).

        When I say that its very possible that say a solar project can be less costly (revenue requirements) than a simple cycle combustion turbine on an integrated grid (where solar penetration is about one-half of 1 percent in the U.S) — Lang calls this being an irrational green advocate.

        Lang doesn’t have the engineering economics background to know what I’m talking about (where Planning Engineer and Rud do know, but are almost always silent to positive aspects of Renewables at X% penetration levels).

      • Stephen, let’s look at an article you are going to love:
        It isn’t until paragraph 17 that The Post gets around to mentioning that all is not well, even though Scotland is perfect- just perfect – for wind generation and gets 100% of it’s energy (with the usual unstated caveats of course) from cheap, simple, wonderful wind power.
        “More serious obstacles lie ahead, however, threatening to derail Scotland’s progress entirely. Most notably, the U.K. government has shifted dramatically away from support for onshore wind and solar power as it prioritizes other sources, including nuclear energy and fracking.”

        What’s that, what is this “support” and why would anyone look to something else?

        “Subsidies for solar and onshore wind, meanwhile, have been slashed, with the government insisting that the public can’t continue to bear the cost of technologies that have dropped dramatically in cost and that should be able to compete without help from taxpayers. ”

        Oh. Wind is really expensive despite all the promises and there are other technologies that actually address CO2 emissions reductions at both lower cost and a more stable electric grid. In other words, in places that have actually tried it, the world has learned that to believe in easter bunny solutions is no different than believing global warming is a hoax- they’re both forms of denial.

      • jeffnsails850 — I will be a broken record, that one can not make blanket statements about Renewables like Lang and others constantly do here at CE (a key concept is Dr. Curry’s above link on Renewable’s penetration of 30%).

        In the U.S., for most Utilities especially in the East and South, wind and solar penetration is very low (for the entire U.S. solar’s penetration is only about one-half of 1%).

        For off-shore wind and solar generation (with low integrated grid penetration levels) the most often integrated grid current decision that engineers are trying to make is for peaking load — with a typical decision between a fossil fuel combustion turbine versus solar or off-shore wind (e.g., Block Island is doing this, with the economics driven by peaking demand on the mainland).

        So many factors involved like load shapes, how flexible is the current system (e.g. combined cycle natural gas units?, inter-connections to available large sources of hydro?); current penetration levels . . . etc.

      • Stephen
        From your excerpt,
        how much subsidy is hidden in the word “implementation”?

      • Stephen, your team makes so many “blanket statements” on renewables you could call it a sleepover. Let’s not pretend critics are solely involved in blanket statements.
        Critics have been admirably straightforward;
        1. Some places and some applications are good for some small (even some large) percentage of renewables. They will be used there because they make sense. Not one single solitary person on this planet is refusing functional, cost-effective use of renewable out of spite. Your team likes to suggest otherwise purely to allow you to have different messages to different audiences: You tell the greenies we can power the whole world with “free” wind now only the GOP won’t allow you to. But when anyone actually points out that’s not true, you retreat into mumbling that you aren’t asking to run the whole country on renewables which leads to….
        2. Who cares about a 30% or any other goal? Again- use them if and when they make sense, don’t everywhere else- that could be 1%, could be 90%. What the goal setting means is that you know reality dictates a tiny percentage, you don’t like that, and you want to force an impractical goal (otherwise there’s no reason for the goal). Which leads to…
        3. most importantly, the alternatives work so well they don’t need the renewables- they’re like forcing Harley Davidson to include everything you need to pedal power the motorcycle just because you think it would be cool if some random percent of street travel was human-powered. If you can power New Hampshire reliably and cost-effectively with two nukes, you don’t need two nukes and $100 million worth of subsidized solar panels and windmills. You certainly don’t need them just so we can hit an arbitrary goal based on the arbitrary lie that the nukes aren’t “clean”? Most people can think of a long list of better ways to spend tax money than tacking on superfluous solar and windmills.

      • Stephen-in many areas there are frequent tensions between those in the ivory tower and front line practitioners. There often is a difference between how things work in theory versus practice. By all means Stephen make Arguemenrs based n Ivory Tower thinking. But thes appeals to authority devoid of arguement are useless.

        In some fields and some places, estimations for performance of new technologies are overly pessimistic and they perform better than expected. The marketplace usually responds. In the area of renewables the reverse has more often been the case.

        What can be done is not the same as what might be done practically, I understand renewables could do a lot more than they do now and I have written on that. You can hold back some capability to help renewables perform like synchronous machines, Unlike some though, I point out that these capabilities will come at higher costs. When there are examples of renewables significantly outperforming expectations, I will note and applaud such.

      • Today’s lead article in ‘The Australian’:

        ‘High-cost’ hit from renewables, warns generator

        [Queensland’s Premier] Annastacia Palaszczuk’s ambitious 50 per cent renewables ­energy target has been undercut by Queensland’s largest government-owned power generator, which has warned Australia is moving from being one of the lowest-cost electricity nations to one of the highest.

        In a submission to a landmark review into electricity security, the Queensland ­government-owned Stanwell Corporation said renewable ­energy policies had “emphasised ‘energy’, while neglecting to value other electricity market services which are ­required to maintain a secure and reliable electricity ­supply”.

        “This has led to the weak system and instability problems in South Australia,” Stanwell said, while also ringing the alarm about energy affordability. “It is disappointing that Australia has moved from one of the lowest-cost electricity nations to one of the highest cost, to the detriment of Australian industry and economic growth.”

        The comments, which are ­focused on the national energy market and do not single out Queensland, have reignited debate over renewable ­targets and are significant as the Queensland Premier pursues a 50 per cent renewables target by 2030. Former Queensland Labor treasurer Keith DeLacy warned last night that high renewable energy could send energy-intensive industries offshore, which would mostly have an impact on those on lower incomes. “There is no place for hi-vis shirts in a high-renewable ­energy state,” he told The Australian. “All manufacturing jobs will be gone, exported offshore to all those countries who are more interested in growing the economy and providing electricity than they are in saving the world.”

        EnergyAustralia chairman Graham Bradley backed Stanwell’s warning about energy affordability as “dead right”. “We have had the cheapest electricity due to abundance of coal, mine-mouth power stations in proximity to our cities,” Mr Bradley said. “That has given us a competitive power price advantage over probably 40 years. We’ve had an ­ideally balanced east coast electricity supply situation. That is no longer the case … As we move ­towards more renewables, we are by definition reducing our comparative competitive advantage.”

        Stanwell operates 40 per cent of Queensland’s coal-fired generation capacity.

        Continue reading this article here: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/mining-energy/highcost-hit-from-renewables-warns-generator/news-story/3011b094706894b498858ad74e477e7e
        (or Google the title if it is behind a paywall)

      • Planning Engineer I guess I missed the days in class at the University of Chicago, Georgia Tech, Iowa State, countless workshops over decades at GE, EPRI, DOE Labs, ect. that according to you, teach only Ivory Tower Engineering Economics.

        I also must have a very bad memory of working for two major electric utilities where (also according to you), we must have presented Ivory Tower engineering economics to PSCs, FERC, and even the Supreme Court. We must have been really good, also selling these Ivory Tower ideas to the largest industrial electricity users in the U.S.

        The problem with so many here at CE is that you want to approach Renewables in fighting mode, in ideological mode. You just love it when arguments of 100% Renewables and 0% fossil fuel generation are made — although the vast majority of U.S. planning engineers don’t make this argument (we would have to increase solar tenfold for it to have a penetration level of 5%).

        Unlike you (and others) I come from a REAL WORLD perspective in the U.S. that things like solar penetration is about one-half of 1%. I also see an explosion in installed solar capacity.

        Now we can believe 2 things: (A) solar use is a political conspiracy; or (B) At existing extremely low penetration rates, solar is just beating things like simple cycle combustion turbines to meet growth in peaking demand.

        You (and others) want to believe (A) conspiracy. I’ll believe in the engineering economics that every electric utility does, publicly presents and must defend (especially with Industrials).

        I’m sure you are a very good transmission planning consultant for Munis, Co-op’s, and REAs in Georgia — but IMO, you are just not showing much depth or breath in generation planning in the “current” real world of generally very low Renewable penetration in the U.S.

      • Stephan – you make a lot of sweeping generalizations, mischaracterizations and place a lot of words in people’s mouths that did not originate with there. If you have a problem with anything I’ve said, please quote it and please stop with attributing to me your misunderstandings and false extensions.

        There is a lot wrong with your most recent post, too much to for me to even begin,

      • I don’t know a soul who thinks solar is a “conspiracy.” I know a bunch who realize the subsidy structure is such that you can get the state, feds and local government to pay a big chunk of the cost of buying and installing (apparently because schools and roads don’t need any money) and once in place you can essentially have free electricity for most of the day by “selling” back to the power company what your panels produce from noon to five. That’s not a conspiracy, it’s really bad unsustainable policy.
        Oh, and even with the subsidized purchase and install and the “free” heat at night, most of the folks I’ve talked to who’ve installed the things say they don’t expect to get their money back.
        Finally, we’ve actually looked at what you claim. Tell us again why the Caribbean and Hawaii are still powering with imported diesel when they have tradewinds, abundant sun, mountains next to the sea (for pumped hydro) and in many cases the only Republicans around are on vacation.

      • Planning Engineer — I believe that for the most part in the U.S. that Utilities are following sound engineering economics in their decision making. Even where there are State Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards we see Legislatures pulling back on targets when things are moving too fast (per, I believe to be Utilities showing the Legislators potential problems).

        I balk at your use of “Ivory Towers” to describe the profession of planning engineers making Renewable Energy decisions. Your characterization is just wrong on so many levels. It shows a lack of respect at so many different levels from Utilities to Federal DOE Labs and engineers at places like MIT, University of Chicago, etc..

        I believe that a “norm” situation currently in the U.S. is that the growing load is peak demand. I believe that things like solar are simply beating options like simple cycle combustion turbines (both new and replacement for existing peakers).

        This “Real World” situation coupled with very low existing penetration levels for solar explains a lot — rather than your “Ivory Tower” charge. As long as you present almost entirely negatives on RE with incorrect charges of “Ivory Towers”, I will continue to call you out on what many engineering planners believe you are incorrect one.

      • Stephen -I think you flipped what I was saying. I was distinguishing between practitioners (front line) and academics (ivory tower). Planning engineers would be more front line practicioners as opposed to say professors at MIT. I think there s a role for both practitioners and academics in the dialogue -and it is often good when there are tensions and pushback between the two -because that provides opportunities for learning. Certainly this is not an absolute dichotomy as practice impacts academics and vice versa as well. (My impression/recollection is that you on occasion reject what I find to be common agreements among practioners-by referring to what you read in academic journals. Further you refer to that but don’t share the arguements-so it sounds to me like an appeal t academic authority.)

        I am at a resource planning conference right now. I asked some of the folks who have been coming to this one for year if they shared my observation that a few years back there were a number of starry eyed optimists at these meetings, but lately not so much. The answe I got was “yes-everyone is dealing with the cold hard truth.” We discussed people here have implemented wind and solar programs with frequent struggles and unanticipated problems and costs. No stories of unanticipated benefits or performance in excess of expectations. These resource planners struggle with regulations promoting “clean power” as they seek to provide economic and reliable energy. You and I are both fans of standard utility economic evaluations but I recognize how they are hindered by regulations, incentives and political expediency.

      • Planning Engineer — Well, at least one part of your last post made me feel better, when you said “You and I are both fans of standard utility economic evaluations”.

        But you go on to say that you believe “engineering economics are hindered by regulations, incentives and political expediency and that [Renewables] have provided no unanticipated benefits or performance in excess of expectations. Lots of charges here with also a confusing conclusion — what does no unanticipated benefits mean? Were all the benefits anticipated?

        I’m from the South and know very little about the integrated grid economics of on-shore wind. One aspect that I do know something about is peaking load and trying to match least cost generation sources to this demand — such as a simple cycle CT, solar, off-shore wind (e.g., Block Island in New England), natural gas combined cycle units, DSM programs (e.g., NYC), etc.

        Looking at EIA and World data on new electricity generation — solar is booming not only in the U.S. but world-wide. According to your above quote, this boom isn’t happening based on sound engineering economics — as the decision making has been taken out of engineer’s hands through political regulations, incentives, and political expediency (which one assumes is secretive back room deals that large Industrials could never find out about).

        But a point that conflicts your “opinion”: If decision making is being done en mass now by Politicians as you believe — why is solar penetration only about one-half of 1% in the U.S.? Seems like it would be much higher.

        As I’ve said before, I’m sure you are a wonderful transmission planning consultant to Munis, Co-ops, REAs in Georgia — But IMO, you are not demonstrating much depth and breath in integrated grid generation planning.

        A different opinion from you view of basically political charges could be: Growth in Base Loads are rather static in the U.S. with the high growth area being in peaking. When solar’s existing penetration level is very low on a grid — new solar could be picking off the highest existing marginal cost units (like old inefficient clunker CTs), very high purchased power contracts, and new CTs.

        In this alternative opinion to yours — the growth in solar could very well be following sound integrated grid engineering economics where: solar generation options are simply beating other fossil fuel options (e.g., simple CTs) in the growth area of peaking load.

      • I will reiterate that I’ve consistently stated that I oppose a U.S. Federal Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard. This would truly put decision making in the hands of Washington Politicians (a horrible thought).

        I think State Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards are fine — as long as they are viewed as targets and not set in stone mandates.

        While no expert in political commentary — I believe that this is what’s going on in Ohio, where Renewables were perceived as moving too quickly with the Legislature pulling back (I assume after objectively hearing pros and cons).

        Earlier this year, I linked to a story/interview from Hawaii which illustrated the same thing — flexible goals and not set in stone mandates.

      • If decision making is being done en mass now by Politicians as you believe — why is solar penetration only about one-half of 1% in the U.S.? Seems like it would be much higher.

        What limits solar penetration is the common-sense and intelligence of the general population. There is a practical limit to how much deceit they will tolerate and how much money wasting they will permit.

        But you go on to say that you believe “engineering economics are hindered by regulations, incentives and political expediency and that [Renewables] have provided no unanticipated benefits or performance in excess of expectations. Lots of charges here with also a confusing conclusion — what does no unanticipated benefits mean? Were all the benefits anticipated?

        [some commentary on grid planning]

        Planning Engineers statement would seem to suggest that renewable projects at best minimally meet project objectives.

        The fact that the grid is getting a 1/2 Trillion dollar makeover and grid ties to renewable projects are typically buried in grid upgrades or other projects to make them look cheaper, plus the sky high subsidies, and mandates to boot means renewables are in general an outright loser.

        Further solar increases global warming and is worse than a parking lot. 4°C worse than desert (which is already bad) and 1°C worse than a parking lot. Plus solar reduces plant growth compared to a fossil fuel plant.

        The claim that solar solves peaking problems ignores the duck curve which solar just aggravates. Using solar to solve peaking problems is like shooting yourself in the foot to distract yourself from pain in the other foot.

      • PA’s last comment illustrates the total lack of objectively that exists here at CE in discussing energy issues. What Planning Engineer never discussed here at CE with the Duck Curve was its source (and why).

        The source of the “Duck Curve” was the California System Operator. Did they do it to bash Renewable Energy objectives? Of course not.

        The “Duck Curve” was coined to illustrate the need for flexible new generation natural gas resources in California — specifically, natural gas combined cycle units. I saw numbers from the EIA that through this PR effort — California was leading the U.S. in new orders for (flexible) natural gas combined cycle units.

      • Stephen Segrest | October 20, 2016 at 1:44 pm |
        PA’s last comment illustrates the total lack of objectively that exists here at CE in discussing energy issues.

        I don’t believe any of the engineers here (except me – I think solar farms and windmills are ugly wastes of resources and should be banned for not producing CO2) would object to renewable deployment if the mandates and subsidies were tossed and renewables had to sink or swim on their own.

        Mr. Segrest likes renewables because it is more of a challenge to piece together a stable grid system with lousy technology.

        Having created stable systems with bad technology before I understand the fascination. However since the renewables game is being played with taxpayer and rate payer money it would be nice if he restrained his enthusiasm.

      • PA,

        I don’t believe any of the engineers here […] would object to renewable deployment if the mandates and subsidies were tossed and renewables had to sink or swim on their own.

        I agree with the thrust of this but I would add:

        1. I support whatever technologies and technology will best meet the requirements of the consumers, especially industry and business, now for the many decades the investments in associated industry will last. Because of the impacts of decisions now, they affect future decisions and meeting requirements for perhaps a century. The main requirements, IMO, in order of priority are: energy security, reliability of supply, cost of energy to consumers, health and safety, environmental impacts.

        2. There should be minimal interference in the energy markets – just enough to ensure fair competition and meeting the objectives. There should be no ideology or dogma driven incentives or disincentives for certain types of technologies. The massive incentives for renewables and disincentives for nuclear should be removes as quickly as pragmatically feasible. Consideration should be given to providing compensation for past bad policies that have delayed progress and caused substantial economic damage.

        3. I’d add, the best evidence available is that intermittent renewables like solar and wind can make only a small contribution to global electricity supply, and negligible to total energy consumption. Therefore, they have a negligible role to play in reducing GHG emissions. They not get incentives.

        4. Wind and solar are not sustainable – they do not produce sufficient energy through life to power modern society and reproduce themselves. They are entirely dependent on fossil fuels and other high ERoEI technologies.

        5. Conversely, nuclear is sustainable effectively indefinitely and could, eventually, supply most of the world energy requirements (including transport fuels).

        Note for the RE advocates: I’ve provided the links for all this many times before. I doubt there is worth the effort to do it again here.

      • PA — I believe in following integrated grid engineering economics (end of story really).

        My “opinion” is that in the U.S., except with Outliers (definitely California, and maybe New York), that the majority of current generation decisions are being made by engineers following integrated grid economics.

        Yes, a major part of engineering economics is tax law. Its always has been — In the 80’s, coal Interests were howling over tax preferences being given to nuclear.

        Now, if you take the Ron Paul type Position and call for the ending of all subsides — including nuclear and oil/gas, then, while I disagree with you, I tip my hat and respect your opinion.

        But if your not consistent on everything then I don’t think much of your position.

      • A belated correction to Peter Lang’s comment on the 15th – https://judithcurry.com/2016/10/15/week-in-review-energy-and-policy-edition-29/#comment-817829

        I am not an electrical engineer although I did study electrical engineering as a major portion of my undergraduate degree (a few decades ago, now). I will gladly defer to those with practical experience such as the likes of aplanningengineer but I do have a deeper understanding of the issues than the average man on the street.

  3. Kemper finally generates first power. Lignite gasification, CCGT, CCS. At a final capital cost/KW that is three times the Voglte 3 and 4 nuclear units being built by the same utility at the same time. Kemper was supposed to prove that CCS is ‘commercial’ per the CAA requirement. It ended up proving the opposite.

  4. Before we get all worked up over “Green” energy, this sheds light on a couple of aspects of it.

    1. View any “studies” that green energy will save money with a jaundiced eye.
    2. Look at what happened in this case.
    3. There is also the black out, unrelated to this article but covered by Nova earlier, in South Australia that was in part due to wind mills.

    From the article:

    The Green industry has done over Ontario consumers. Government control of the electricity market was “cheered on by a growing industrial complex of wind and solar promoters backed by a large contingent of financial firms, big name consultants, fee-collecting law firms and major corporations. All were anxious to play a lucrative role fulfilling renewables objectives”.

    Ontario was going to be the North American leader in renewable energy. It would save lives, create jobs, cost nothing, but instead the electricity bills have doubled, no lives were saved and the only jobs created were temporary (and almost certainly cost more jobs in other areas due to high electricity costs). The only “success” for the extra wind and solar power that’s locked into the grid is that it has “saved” some meaningless CO2 emissions at the exorbitant, flagrant cost of $250 per ton. Green energy was supposed to save $4.4billion in healthcare and other costs, but virtually none of that materialized.

    Canada, electricity, supply, demand, costs.Costs have gone from 5.5c a KWh in 2006 to 11c KWh in 2016. (How is it still so incredibly cheap ask Aussies? We are the largest coal exporters in the world and have some of the largest uranium reserves but Australians pay from 25c to 36c per KWh* and the currencies are 1:1).

    According to Terence Corcoran things are so on the nose that the premier can’t even mention hydro without getting booed. The costs of going green have been estimated at $170 billion over 30 years, and while smog has decreased somewhat, no one is sure whether that was due to the coal stations closing in Ontario, or is linked to US changes. In any case, the coal plants could have been fitted with smog-cleaning gear for a tiny fraction of the cost.

    The Ontario government has finally started canceling new wind projects, but there are long term contracts for current wind farms that go on for years. Jan Carr was head of the Ontario Power Authority and says the government is “finally waking up to Ontario’s electricity carnage.”


  5. Addicted to Oil: U.S. Gasoline Consumption is Higher than Ever [link] …

    In this story:
    Regardless of what happens, fuel economy standards have a fatal flaw that fundamentally limits their effectiveness. They can increase fuel economy, but they don’t increase the cost per mile of driving. Americans will drive 3.2 trillion miles in 2016, more miles than ever before. Why wouldn’t we? Gas is cheap.

    This is typical liberal democrat flawed thinking. They think that low cost affordable energy and transportation are a bad thing. They want to drive us to lose out on world markets.

  6. Looks like another run-around of Congress. From the article:
    …More than 170 countries agreed early Saturday morning to limit emissions of key climate change-causing pollutants found in air conditioners, a significant step in the international effort to keep global warming from reaching catastrophic levels.

    The deal reached in Kigali, Rwanda, comes after years of wrangling over HFCs—short for hydrofluorocarbons—and could on its own prevent a 0.5°C (0.9°F) rise in temperature by 2100. Scientists say such an achievement could be crucial to the goal laid out in last year’s Paris Agreement of holding global temperature rise below 2°C (3.6°F) by 2100.

    Total global HFC emissions—most commonly from air conditioners and refrigerators—are far less significant contributors to climate change than the aggregate emission of other greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane. But HFCs are thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide on a pound-per-pound basis, making them an obvious target for international efforts to combat climate change.


    • “HFCs are thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide on a pound-per-pound basis”

      So they keep telling us. But I am unable to find any solid scientifically grounded explanation of precisely why.

      • It’s time to “just say no” to the EPA.

      • It’s a matter of perspective on concentrations:

        For instance, methane and CO2 have roughly equivalent GHG effects. In either case, if you double the concentration, you increase the GHG (uncorrected) by a few watts/m^2. Double it again, you increase it by roughly the same amount.

        But the overall concentration of methane in the atmosphere is several orders of magnitude smaller. So a fixed number of tons of methane increases its concentration by a few orders of magnitude larger relative amount than the same fixed number of tons (or moles) of CO2.

        It’s even more that way for GHG’s with much lower concentrations, such as CFC’s, HFC’s, SH6. etc. That’s why a much smaller number of tons released by man can have such a relatively much larger effect on the atmosphere.

        This is all implicit in the oft-repeated observation that the greenhouse effect increases logarithmically with atmospheric concentration. (Roughly.)

      • I mean SF6.

      • I am unable to find any solid scientifically grounded explanation of precisely why.

        And yet it took me all of 30 seconds to find a paper exemplifying the methodology for a compound.


        I used a novel an unusual research technique known as “Teh Google” which revealed the existence of “teh Wiki” from which I could follow “teh linkz”


        I guess we should be charitable and apply Hanlon’s razor to Kool Kat


      • VTG, I said SOLID scientific evidence, not speculative. Further, I asked WHY, and not one of your links – only one of which was vaguely relevant – explained that, other than totally speculative estimates of persistence time.

        As to no less than two references to Wikipedia – one entirely generic and the other intended as an insult to myself.

        Further, as we are discussing a gas with an atmospheric concentration measured as a few parts per trillion, even if it has an effect three orders of magnitude greater than CO2, we are looking at a CO2 equivalent of the order of parts per billion.

        Perhaps you will appreciate why – considering the total cost involved in this endeavour – I am somewhat unimpressed by all the hysterical backslapping by scientifically illiterate windbags like John Kerry..

        Two out of ten and must try harder, VTG.

        Oh, and AK, SF6 is not a chloroflourocarbon, hence irrelevant in this discussion.

        However, it is an essential substance in the manufacture of photovoltaic cells and is released by the Chinese in large quantities. But as PV is an essential ingredient in the Green’s plans to ‘Save the World™’, I don’t suppose that counts.

      • I asked WHY

        Just asking questions Kat?

        Read da linkz Kat. “Absorbance” or “absorption” is your search term Kat. It’s really not difficult Kat.

  7. Lithium ion limits. That is not new news in the energy storage community. It is calculable from first principles of electrochemistry. Depends slightly on the exact cathode chemistry and electrolyte composition. Rule of thumb at the last international battery conference I attended (Salzburg in 2013) was best commercial cells (not the cheapest) were at ~85% of theoretical max in both gravimetric (WH/Kg) and volumetric (WH/L) energy density. And, at a cost of very low cycle life, Saft had already made LiIon almost as power dense as supercaps. But no market for such cells outside of Ferrari’s Formula 1 KERS system in 2010, since supercaps have effective cycle lives over 1000000.
    Expect no energy storage miracles, despite the steady stream of breathless green PR.

    • Curious George

      For a grid storage, gravimetric and volumetric energy densities are not crucial. The proper measure would be Wh/$ – would it be a currencymetric density?

      • Grid storage is only attractive based on politically-dictated electricity price differentials– i.e., it is a product of modeling based on politically correct facts and subsidies. Continuing to eschew market forces can only result in an overall decrease of net present wealth as Western civilization skips along toward the cliff.

    • I wouldn’t bet the old nag’s oats on it happening this Monday but sooner or later, dividend-free, profitless Tesla will be coming off its high horse… and, probably bring the market down with it.

  8. Temporary nuclear subsidy. News flash, Secretary Moniz and rest of DoE. As long as wind is subsidized and feed in favored, any nuclear subsidy will not be temporary. This shows wilful political ignorance of how the electricity marketplace actually works.

  9. Union of Concerned Scientists and ‘it’s’ evaluation of 8 major fossil fuel companies: http://www.ucsusa.org/press/2016/new-study-ranks-eight-major-fossil-fuel-companies-their-climate-change-actions#.WAKpbOArKM8

    Had to ask, should I post in politics or here.

    • Yup. UCS has been wacko since the 1970’s. My economics summa thesis back then showed US nuclear was likely uneconomic for subtle reasons (capital, time to build, waste disposal); UCS was all over me in Cambridge Mass (their HQ) like …. fill in your own favorite disgusting analogy. Watermelons then, watermelons now.
      BTW, thesis turned out right with benefit of much hindsight. Not much built after mid 1980’s until Voglte 3 and 4. And those were commissioned before the fracked gas revolution, so are with benefit of more recent hindsight further colossal investment mistakes by Southern. Although not nearly as bad as Kemper.

    • Shouldn’t that be “Union of Concerned Scientists and Small Dogs”, Danny?

    • Post on their website rather than pollute this one. Union of Concerned Scientists are something to make fun of, not pay attention to.

  10. The most important policy issue of all remains unanswered: What is the evidence that human caused GHG emissions are or will do more harm than good.

    Note: temperature change is not measure of damage. There is a lack of evidence demonstrating that GHG emissions will do more harm than good.

    Those who believe GHG emissions are or will be damaging, need to provide evidence to support their belief and to justify the huge expenditures they advocate spending on mitigation policies.

    • There are lots of computer models predicting many different forms of harm. There is a whole science industry doing this, publishing thousands of papers a year. That is their evidence, all computerized speculation, but there is a great deal of it.

      • Well, that takes the cake! Even Chicken Little has been automated.

      • Search on Google Scholar, for 2015 alone, on the terms “climate change” and “sensitivity” gives almost 40,000 scholarly hits. Some are on climate sensitivity but most appear to be on the adverse sensitivity of something to climate change. Big government bucks in action.

      • David,

        Thank you for your two comments. Regarding your second comment:

        Search on Google Scholar, for 2015 alone, on the terms “climate change” and “sensitivity” gives almost 40,000 scholarly hits. Some are on climate sensitivity but most appear to be on the adverse sensitivity of something to climate change.

        That highlights the issue. All the debate is about climate sensitivity and projected temperatures, not unbiased, objective analysis of the net-damages or net-benefits. The increasing CO2 concentrations and hypothesized future temperatures are irrelevant if there is no persuasive evidence they will do significantly more harm than good. And there seems to be no persuasive evidence to support the damage functions used in the IAMs for projecting damages. Even IPCC says so -18 times in AR5 WG3 Chapter 3, http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/wg3/ipcc_wg3_ar5_chapter3.pdf . Some examples:

        “Damage functions in existing Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) are of low reliability (high confidence).” [3.9, 3.12]”

        “Our general conclusion is that the reliability of damage functions in current IAMs is low.” [p247]

        “As discussed in Section 3.9, the aggregate damage functions used in many IAMs are generated from a remarkable paucity of data and are thus of low reliability.”

        The belief that GHG emissions will be damaging is driven by advocates using innuendo and unsupported assumptions.

      • Steven Mosher @ September 26, 2016 at 3:01 pm, https://judithcurry.com/2016/09/24/week-in-review-science-edition-56/#comment-813933 responded to David Wojick with 12 examples about CAGW issues people argue about, but completely dodged the most critical one of all – Are GHG emissions doing more harm than good? What’s the damage function? What’s the evidence to calibrate the damage function?

        In reply to David Wojick, Mosher said:

        “But Mosh, in the climate debate the expansion lies before us, in the actual arguments that people are making. The issue tree is the structure that is already there.”
        Ah no. The fact that someone asks a question, or raises an issue, does not, make the tree real. you can IMPOSE a tree structure if you choose to, you can take questions as serious, when they are not.
        1. Whether the LIA was global.
        A) Has ZERO relevance to The AGW argument or the CAGW
        Neither answer to this question changes the fundamentals.
        It is warming because of mans c02 emissions.
        This warming could be catostrophic, under some definitions
        of catastrophe.
        2. The accuracy of ice core bubbles as CO2 measurements.
        Zero Relevance. We knew c02 was an issue before we ever
        measured a bubble
        3. The effect of heat contamination on the thermometer readings.
        Zero issue: Rural only gives you the same answer.And
        70% of the data is ocean. Erase ALL thermomemter history
        and the issue of CAGW still satnds
        4. The validity of adjustments to thermometer data (there are more than seventeen distinct issues with the thermometer data alone).
        Zero Issue. Raw data Gives Higher sensitivity. And temperature
        data is beside the point
        5. The evidence for the Svensmark model of indirect solar causation (easily 17 re solar).
        Zero Evidence. And beside the point
        6. The economic impact of a carbon tax (easily 17 re carbon tax).
        Off Topic. the issue is CAGW, NOT what we should do about it.
        BAD BAD BAD david
        7. The viability of pumped storage re intermittency (easily 17 re intermittency).
        See ablove, Off topic, different tree
        8. The sign of water vapor feedback.
        Again, not relevant to the argument.
        9. The proper discount rate to use in SCC calculations (easily 17 re SCC).
        Off topic. this is about Possible ACTIONS, not about the THREAT
        of CAGW
        10. How climate models handle clouds. (Lots re models.)
        Not an issue. We Know enough WITHOUT GCMS to know
        that CAGW is a threat.
        11. The error potential in the surface temperature statistical models (lots here).
        Again, not an issue. The models have been tested and validated.
        And the temperature record is beside the point
        12. The error potential in the satellite temperature measurements.
        Not an issue. We Knew well in advance of sat data that there was an issue. it changes nothing

        Twelve points and not one of them deal with: are GHG emissions a threat? Are they and will they do more harm than good? What’s the damage function? What’s the empirical evidence to calibrate it (equivalent to the empirical evidence needed to calibrate ECS, TCR, etc.)

  11. The historical context of court battle over the U.S. Clean Power Plan [link]

    “Polling suggests Americans as a whole are somewhere in the middle. A majority want to curb climate change, but they don’t necessarily put that work above other priorities they look for in political candidates. While they want to solve the problem, they don’t want to solve it at any cost.”

    The Flint Michigan water crisis; i.e., the invisible water contaminated from lead pipes into the homes, has now made tax-payers aware that lead pipes are both an urban and suburban issue, essentially, a legacy infrastructure problem needing to be addressed. Roads and bridges are a visible reminder of infrastructure that will consume tax-payers dollars. None of this is lost on elected representatives.

    As acknowledged, the Clean Power Plan (CPP) will not impact global temperatures yet will cost state rate-payers much and on an uneven basis. For the 28 states suing EPA, the CPP will hurt their state’s people. And, for 22 states, the CPP will be OK. No wonder there has been Congressional foot dragging.

    In addition, the supporters of the CPP observe that the pain and suffering of the negatively impacted people will remain the individual state’s responsibility. There is no political will on sharing the misery with everybody I guess.

    New York wins, West Virginia looses. Hows that Louisiana to NY gasoline pipeline interruption work out for you NY? What if it were the La. to NY natural gas pipeline interrupted? maybe during a frosty winter? all the tall building fire suppression water pipes freeze? We are all dependent on natural resources being shipped cross country.

    For CPP to be “fair” in the same of social justice, NY will have to take the same financial hit as W Va. A financial transfer that I am sure Wall Street bankers would be only too happy to get their claws into, eh? Ms. Clinton?

  12. Dear Dr. Curry,

    I am back in the saddle (moderation) again. Where a friend of a friend is a friend. Please be my friend and move me back into the thread limelight.

  13. Elsewhere, tom0mason correctly described energy and policy as the bastard love child of theoretical science and green politics!

  14. The Saudi’s have shot themselves in an effort to thwart Iran and US shale producers. From the article:

    The interest rate banks charge one another for loans rose by the most since August on Sunday, extending a trend that’s slowing earnings and corporate borrowing in the world’s biggest oil exporter. The increase is defying the central bank, which has sought to ease the cash crunch by relaxing lending limits, offering new borrowing facilities and injecting funds into the financial system, including 20 billion riyals ($5.3 billion) pledged Sept. 25.

    “Rates won’t easily come down with one $5 billion injection,” said John Sfakianakis, director of economic research at the Gulf Research Center Foundation in Riyadh. “Bringing them down would require a significant liquidity injection effort. The $5 billion is a good step forward, but given the asset size of Saudi banks it would require several additional injections.”

    Financial institutions in the Arab world’s largest economy are bearing the brunt of a halving of oil prices since 2014. Economic growth in the kingdom is slowing, curtailing bank deposits just as the government increases borrowing to help plug a budget deficit that last year was the widest since 1991.

  15. David L. Hagen

    War on Coal can’t smother rally built on fuel’s enduring demand.

    You know the war on coal isn’t working when it’s up more than 50 percent this year. . . .demand will remain little changed for decades, according to the International Energy Agency and BHP Billiton Ltd. . . .Coal demand remains robust because “a lot of the existing coal capacity has been added recently,” said Matt Brown, an analyst at Poeyry Oyj. “We are in a business with long-lived assets.”

  16. Why is it that climate scientists seem only interested in temperatures and not in net global impacts (benefits or damages) of projected GHG emissions?

    The fact the lack of evidence to justify the damage function is so studiously avoided by climate scientists and CAGW advocates suggests to me either:

    1. they know it is the weak link in their hypothesis, or

    2. they recognise the necessary evidence to calibrate the damage functions is lacking, so they ignore this issue

    3. the rewards for being a believer and advocate, and the harassment and vitriol if you are not, means it’s better to be a disciple.

    4. they are in denial


      Free: http://www.copenhagenconsensus.com/sites/default/files/climate_change.pdf

      Figure 3 shows estimates of the net impact of GW to 3.75C increase. Excluding the cost of energy (for now), the other impacts would seem to project to net positive to well beyond 4 C warming. I exclude the cost of energy because I understand the estimates assumed high cost renewable energy, whereas we have an effectively unlimited source of potentially cheap energy – i.e. nuclear!. So, I expect, energy cost of higher temperatures would be much less than this projection suggests.

      I realise this paper was criticised and some errors were found. What I would like to know is how much difference the corrections would make to the projected impacts.

      I also recognise Richard Tol wrote as second paper where he fitted lines through estimates by others. But I am not sure how much confidence we should have in the estimates the lines have been fitted to. I also doubt the abrupt change from warming is beneficial to warming is damaging is credible.

      Can anyone post a link to a corrected versions of Tol’s Figure 3 please?

  17. Re: #CostaRica demonstrates life w/o #fossilfuels is possible ==> This feat was accomplished with Hydro power providing about 80.27 percent of the total electricity in the month of August while Geothermal plants contributed roughly 12.62 percent — totaling 93%. Wind supplied the other 7%. Despite being a tropical country, solar supplied a mere 0.01%. Note that “2016’s milestone was helped along by heavy rainfalls at the country’s four hydroelectric power facilities.”.

    The United States, however, has been eliminating hydro power — at the end of WWII, hydro supplied 30% of total US electricity — now? 6%. Total production (in Kw hrs) has been flat since 1970.

    California does not consider power generated from large hydroelectric facilities (facilities greater than 30 megawatts) to meet its strictest definition of “renewable”.

    The Sun heats the Earth, water evaporates and the incoming energy is converted through water vapor rising in the atmosphere, then falling as rain on high places, where the energy can be recaptured as electricity — hydro power. This is as it has always been — man utilizing the power of falling water.

    The energy department issued a report last year stating that potential increased hydro in the US currently available, without new dams, would add an additional 12 GW — total potential, with new dams, 65 GWs without encroaching on national parks, wild and scenic rivers or wilderness areas.

  18. Jump to time 58:08

    President talks about how the ‘wild wild west’ of information on the internet needs to be reigned in and ‘truthiness’ tests added. Context here is climate change, but Cass Sunstein and others have stated this same concept more generally.

    I know the perfect organization to do this. Skeptical science would surely perform this function for the UN, who can now implement it but snipped the wires on any sites that don’t pass.


    These people are totalitarians and hypocrits.

  19. Is the UK’s Guardian going to retract its brazen misinformation following the South Australia blackout?


    Grauniad journalists please write 350 times:


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