Which is exactly what they intend
Wind Shortfalls Make Grid Guys Nervous
When it comes to integrating wind into the transmission lines, system operators say that they are challenged. While they understand and appreciate the reasoning, they are saying that the networks lack the flexibility to handle wind variation.
Green energy has a lot of public appeal. But the intermittent nature of wind and solar power coupled with the relatively higher costs put the grid’s traffic cops in an untenable position. Those are the fellows whose job it is to schedule the resources to where they need to be so that the electricity keeps flowing. Their task is to maintain that reliability with the lowest-priced fuels.
“We have to be truthful about what the impact will be,” says Jim Detmers, principal in Power Systems Resources and the former chief operating officer of the California ISO. “The devil is in the details. These new embedded costs will be significant.” Better communication with policymakers is essential.
In the case of California, it now has 3,000 megawatts of wind. In a few years, that will be 7,000 megawatts. A few years later, it will be 10,000 megawatts. By 2020, the goal is to have 33 percent of electricity generated from renewable energy. “That’s making grid operators nervous,” says Detmers, who spoke at Wartsila’s Flexible Power Symposium in Vail, Colo.
Simply, the wind does not blow on demand. Ditto for the sun. So these resources must be backed up with other, “dispatchable” forms of generation. But such “firming” or “cycling” creates two distinct issues: The first is that the power is not free and the second is that if coal plants are “cycled” up and down, they release more pollutants per unit of output than if they ran full steam ahead.
No doubt, the price of wind and solar energy is falling while their productivity rates are increasing. But the technologies still have a ways to go.
“If you are a grid operator, you must be dispassionate and follow the engineering,” says David O’Brien, former head of the Vermont’s Department of Public Service and now a consultant for Bridge Energy Group, during a phone call. “The best thing they can do is to provide the data to their stakeholders and to be an honest broker. But they have to ultimately accept the policy mandates.”
According to Steve Lefton, director of Intertek Aptek who also spoke at the Wartsila conference, those base-load coal units developed decades ago were never designed to firm-up wind generation. They were made to run at full capacity. So when they are used as such, they create excess emissions.
As wind energy increases its market share, thermal plants can be expected to rev up and down more often. If coal is the main fuel source that is dispatched, it will decrease the emissions savings from wind.
“The actual emissions reduction rates from wind are far less than what the lobbyists are touting,” if system operators do not have the flexibility to use cleaner backup fuels, says Brannin McBee, energy analyst for Bentek Energy, a speaker at the conference. “Thermal plant cycling is also very expensive,” particularly if the older coal plants are used to firm up the wind generation.
With the public demands to increase green energy growing, what might be an optimal firming fuel? The answer could be natural gas. Regulators tend to favor it because it releases far fewer emissions than coal while the price is expected to remain low at $4-$7 per million BTUs.
Coal facilities without carbon capture and sequestration cannot get the permits to operate, says Doug Egan, chief executive of Competitive Power Ventures. And if the plants are built with such capacity they are too costly. Even those with coal gasification that nearly eliminate the sulfur, nitrogen oxide and mercury but which don’t capture and bury the carbon are prohibitively expensive, he adds.
In recent years, developers have abandoned their plans to build 38 coal plants, says the Sierra Club. Meanwhile, it says that 48 more can be expected to be retired.
Natural gas is the most plausible option to firm up wind and solar. More than enough of it exists with the recent discoveries of shale gas, the unconventional source that is extracted from rocks more than a mile beneath the ground using hydraulic fracturing. That withdrawal technique, though, is under fire from some community organizations that say it is polluting their drinking water.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants developers to voluntarily disclose the chemicals they are using as a way to ease tensions. Producers are balking for now, saying its exploratory methods are proprietary.
“Fracking can be dealt with,” says Egan. “Producers will share their secret sauce. It will make it the process slightly less efficient. But a deal with get cut.”
Managing a grid and keeping the lights on is difficult. Green energy’s role will increase but so too will the challenges associated with delivering it -- facts that must be relayed to policymakers and customers alike. Older coal plants present the most issues but the newer gas-fired generation may be more accommodating.
Reckless, Quixotic Fantasies
At what point do environmentalist liberals become accountable for the results of their policies instead of their allegedly good intentions? Why isn't President Obama held accountable for his ideologically based interference with lower oil prices?
Obama has repeatedly shown his willingness to use his executive authority discriminatorily to implement his preferred environmental policies. On the presidential campaign trail, he bragged that he would ensure that any company that built a coal-fired plant would go bankrupt. By charging coal-powered plants "a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted," he would "generate billions of dollars that we (could) invest in solar, wind, biodiesel and other alternative energy approaches."
He also made no secret of his intention to pressure Americans into driving hybrids or into taking alternative means of travel entirely. His transportation secretary, Ray LaHood, arrogantly boasted that the administration would "coerce people out of their cars." In justifying the administration's push for public mass transit options, LaHood said, "We have to create opportunities for people who want to ride a bike or walk or take a streetcar." Obama's ill-conceived and cost-prohibitive high-speed rail proposal is similarly fueled by this obsession.
Have we detected any concern by the administration about the economic impact of all of this? Then again, how often do environmentalist zealots concern themselves with economic realities?
Research has shown, for example, that if the United States were to adopt the Draconian cap-and-trade policies urged by the administration, it could cause a loss in gross domestic product of $9.4 trillion by 2035 and increase each family of four's share of the national debt by $115,000. Never mind that the policies would have a trivial impact on future concentrations of greenhouse gases and have no meaningful impact on global temperatures, even by 2100.
Not that we need more proof, but we might recall Obama's lawless defiance of a federal court order blocking his moratorium on offshore drilling -- a moratorium that would further exacerbate our lack of domestic oil production, our dependence on foreign oil and the high price of oil to the American consumer.
The unmistakable lesson is that such is the myopic zealotry of environmentalists like Obama that they would implement policies virtually guaranteed to harm our economy significantly, even when they offer no promise of appreciable environmental benefits.
It is doubtlessly this factual backdrop that led Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour to accuse the Obama administration of favoring a run-up in gas prices to prod consumers to buy more fuel-efficient cars. Barbour cited Energy Secretary Steven Chu's comment that a gradual increase in gasoline taxes could coax consumers into dumping their gas guzzlers and finding homes closer to where they work. Higher gas prices, according to Chu, could force investments in alternative fuels and spur us to embrace "cleaner energy sources."
I think Barbour has a point, especially in view of Obama's attitude and energy policies. But we needn't get bogged down in this ongoing debate over whether Obama sets out intentionally to harm the economy or even to raise gas prices. We must, however, hold him accountable for his damaging policies, irrespective of his intentions.
On that note, The Heritage Foundation argues that Obama's policies are indeed making gas prices higher. This week, the price of a barrel of crude oil surpassed $100 for the first time since September 2008. Heritage acknowledges that Middle East turmoil has had an impact, but long before this chaos, experts were predicting $4-a-gallon prices by the summer and $5-a-gallon gas by 2012 because of "increased oil demand worldwide."
So what's the obvious solution? Well, increasing domestic oil production comes to mind. But the administration has done just the opposite -- to the direct detriment of the American people.
Both Chu and White House press secretary Jay Carney have insisted that the remedy is to develop alternative energy sources to decrease our dependency on foreign oil. That's just peachy in theory and something to continue to explore for the long run. But in the short run, it is a reckless, quixotic fantasy -- a tilting at windmills.
Windmills, incidentally, are not the answer. Heritage experts argue that wind and solar energy sources are miniscule and "entirely irrelevant to gasoline supply in the transportation sector." The administration's other alternative sources of energy, such as corn and electric cars, "won't help a bit." Corn-based ethanol produces less energy than gasoline, "contributes to food price increases, costs taxpayers $4 billion to produce 2 percent of the total gasoline supply, and has dubious environmental effects." Electric cars are "prohibitively costly and environmentally suspect."
Wake up, folks. Regardless of Obama's intentions, his energy policies are, at best, grossly negligent and irrefutably damaging to Americans and our economy.
Electric cars Show Lackluster Sales
Autoblog reports that the Chevy Volt sold 281 units in February, down from 321 in February. Meanwhile, sales of the Nissan Leaf dropped from 87 to 67. The trend seems pretty dismal
It's going to take a long time at this rate to hit their sales target. Here's Charles Ghosn, the CEO of Renault, saying that he's going to sell 500,000 electric cars a year by 2013:
On the eve of the market debut of the Nissan Leaf electric car, Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of the Renault-Nissan alliance, said the only constraint on sales for the next three years will be how many battery packs the factories could churn out.
Deliveries of the Leaf are scheduled to start next month. Mr. Ghosn, speaking to reporters in Washington on Monday afternoon, did not say just how many he expected to sell in the first three years. He said, however, that the Leaf would hit 500,000 units a year in three years. Mass production, he explained, would lower costs enough to make the car a sales success without subsidies sooner than once expected. He said he once thought that number was a million cars a year, but now believed it was from 500,000 to 1 million.
173 down, 499,827 to go.
The planning for the Volt has been similarly optimistic flights of fancy:
Production of Chevrolet's Volt was supposed to be limited to 10k units this year, a target GM has already set its sights on surpassing. With 2012 volume projections now reaching 25k units, the next step in The General's quest to prove that the Volt is a viable vehicle is a staggering goal: doubling its 2013 production target from 60k to 120k units of production. According to Bloomberg, GM has not officially announced the 120k volume goal and may not build that many Volts in 2013 at all, if energy prices and supplier challenges don't allow it. And though supplier issues could well leave the goal out of reach, even if GM is able to ramp up production to fulfill its 120k unit goal by next year, there are no signs yet that the market will support those production levels. After all, GM is essentially banking on the kind of volume-to-price niche that BMW has taken years to cultivate with its 3 Series... which starts at prices slightly below the Volt's $41k, and still moved fewer than 110k units last year.
As Autoblog says, the question is: "Why?" Is this just the slow ramp-up of new production? Are the dealers falling down on the job? Did weather and the short month keep buyers off the lots? Did we simply need to see higher gas prices to goose demand, meaning that sales will now take off? Or did two major auto manufacturers dump huge sums of money into a technology that is struggling to get its sales volumes into the four figures?
It certainly wouldn't be the first time that companies have made this sort of colossal misjudgment. It wouldn't even be the first time an auto company has done so. (Remember the Edsel)? March and April sales volumes should be telling: gas prices are high, and the Leaf is supposed to hit 4,000 production units this month. If volumes remain low, we may be looking at green elephants.
Greenpeace Co-Founder Slams Species Extinction Scare Study as proof of how 'peer-review process has become corrupted'
Greenpeace Co-Founder and ecologist Dr. Patrick Moore, slammed a new study claiming a dramatic and irreversible mass species extinction. “This [journal Nature] article should never have made it through the peer-review process,” Moore told Climate Depot in an exclusive interview. “The fact that the study did make it through peer-review indicates that the peer review process has become corrupted,” Moore, the author of the new book "Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout,” added.
“The authors [of the journal Nature study] greatly underestimate the rate new species can evolve, especially when existing species are under stress. The Polar Bear evolved during the glaciation previous to the last one, just 150,000 years ago,” Moore explained.
The new alarming species mass extinction study was described in an article in Yahoo News and AFP on March 4, 2011 titled: 'World's sixth mass extinction may be underway: study.' The AFP article reported: Mankind may have unleashed the sixth known mass extinction in Earth's history, according to a paper released by the science journal Nature. Over the past 540 million years, five mega-wipeouts of species have occurred through naturally-induced events. But the new threat is man-made, inflicted by habitation loss, over-hunting, over-fishing, the spread of germs and viruses and introduced species, and by climate change caused by fossil-fuel greenhouse gases, says the study. [End article excerpt.]
But Moore, in an interview with Climate Depot, refuted the claims of the species study. “The biggest extinction events in the human era occurred 60,000 years ago when humans arrived in Australia, 10-15,000 years ago when humans arrived in the New World, 800 years ago when humans found New Zealand, and 250 years ago when Europeans brought exotic species to the Pacific Islands such as Hawaii,” Moore explained.
“Since species extinction became a broad social concern, coinciding with the extinction of the passenger pigeon, we have done a pretty good job of preventing species extinctions,” Moore explained.
“I quit my life-long subscription to National Geographic when they published a similar 'sixth mass extinction' article in February 1999. This [latest journal] Nature article just re-hashes this theme,” he added. Moore left Greenpeace in 1986 because he felt the organziation had become too radical. Moore also challenges man-made global warming fears. See: Greenpeace Co-Founder Dr. Patrick Moore Questions Man-Made Global Warming, Calls it 'Obviously a Natural Phenomenon'
This is not the first time Moore has gone to battle of alarming claims of species extinction. In the 2000 documentary “Amazon Rainforest: Clear-Cutting The Myths”, Moore bluntly mocked species extinction claims made by biologist Edward O. Wilson from Harvard University. Wilson estimated that up to 50,000 species go extinct every year based on computer models of the number of potential but as yet undiscovered species in the world.
Moore said in 2000: “There's no scientific basis for saying that 50,000 species are going extinct. The only place you can find them is in Edward O. Wilson's computer at Harvard University. They're actually electrons on a hard drive. I want a list of Latin names of actual species.” Moore was interviewed by reporter Marc Morano (now with Climate Depot) in the 2000 Amazon rainforest documentary:
Environmental activist Tim Keating of Rainforest Relief was asked in the 2000 documentary if he could name any of the alleged 50,000 species that have gone extinct and he was unable.
“No, we can't [name them], because we don't know what those species are. But most of the species that we're talking about in those estimates are things like insects and even microorganisms, like bacteria,” Keating explained.
UK scientist Professor Philip Stott, emeritus professor of Biogeography at the University of London, dismissed current species claims in the 2000 Amazon rainforest documentary.
“The earth has gone through many periods of major extinctions, some much bigger in size than even being contemplated today,” Stott, the author of a book on tropical rainforests, said in the 2000 documentary.
“Change is necessary to keep up with change in nature itself. In other words, change is the essence. And the idea that we can keep all species that now exist would be anti-evolutionary, anti-nature and anti the very nature of the earth in which we live,” Stott said.
GREENIE ROUNDUP FROM AUSTRALIA
Three current articles below
Wind farms hurting rural communities
WIND turbines are closing in on four generations of the Quinn family who still live at Mt Bryan in South Australia's picturesque and productive Mt Lofty Ranges.
Rosemary Quinn, 74, says she spends her nights locked inside the 1900s stone house she has occupied for 55 years. She shuts the windows and sets the ceiling fan on high to cover the noise of the wind turbines 2km away.
Quinn's son Bill and his wife Jenny are about to gamble their 200ha property in a Federal Court challenge to the expansion plans of wind farm developer AGL.
Bill Quinn's daughter Deb, 32, who works for businesses that profit from the wind farm developments, is worried about the future of her daughter, Jacqueline, and what long-term exposure to nearby wind turbines may mean.
The Quinns are not alone.
They are part of an increasingly vocal army of people in rural settlements who believe they have become collateral damage in Australia's rush to embrace wind as an alternative energy to combat climate change.
Stories such as the Quinns', and much, much worse, are scattered through the more than 1000 submissions to a Senate inquiry into the effect of wind farm developments on rural communities.
The inquiry by the Senate community affairs committee has certainly received many submissions of support for wind-farm developments to meet the federal government's 20 per cent renewable energy target by 2020. Local community and sporting groups have praised the donations they have received.
But alongside the positive feedback are stories of gag orders, split communities, strongarm tactics and details of awful physical symptoms that people feel sure are the result of living in the auditory and sun-flicker shadow of wind turbine developments that are sweeping the rural landscape.
Family First senator Steve Fielding, who pushed for the Senate inquiry, says: "This is not a question about the viability of renewable technologies. It is to have a look at any adverse health effects for people living in close proximity."
He says the Senate committee has approached the inquiry with an open mind, but "certainly there are people whose health has deteriorated to the stage that they have had to move out at a complete loss to themselves".
Glenn Brew of Evansford in Victoria, near the controversial Waubra wind farm, has told the committee he was beginning to think he had a brain tumour until he discovered that other farmers in the area were experiencing headaches similar to his when they were close to the turbines.
Steven Hilary, 50, also of Waubra, has told the committee he is convinced the turbines pose a serious health risk.
"On April 22nd at 4am I suffered a heart attack and to date I have been continually suffering blood pressure issues, heart palpitations, headaches, dizziness, nausea, unbearable tinnitus and disrupted sleep patterns that led to numerous ambulance trips to hospital," he wrote.
The Senate inquiry clearly has opened a can of worms: affected rural residents believe city dwellers with a penchant for green power have been happy to ignore the situation. Despite what opponents may say, this is not a community backlash that can be dismissed as being rooted in climate change denial or greed.
When Rosemary Quinn first heard wind turbines were coming to her area she visited the already established wind farm developments at Yorke Peninsula and Cape Jervis to have a look. "I thought they were a terrific invention and we really needed to get all this green power," she says.
"People now just say I have got a set against them and if they passed us a lot of money it would be all right, but I had a sermon in church this morning that money doesn't matter. I don't want their money, I just want some peace and quiet in the last months of my life."
Sarah Laurie, a South Australian GP who has become a rallying point for people concerned about health effects from living near wind turbines, also cannot be written off as a stalking horse for big coal or the nuclear industry, as her detractors would suggest.
Laurie has worked among South Australia's Aboriginal communities on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands, where her husband still works as a travelling dentist.
She is a progressive with rooftop solar panels on her Crystal Brook property, and has alienated some friends by asking inconvenient questions about the green revolution. "I still am supportive of wind turbines in the right place," Laurie says. "I believe it is a siting issue primarily and we need to get the information in order to site the turbines safely.
"We have a window of opportunity now to get this right. If we don't I am concerned there is an unfolding public disaster. "This is not a NIMBY [not in my back yard] issue," Laurie says. "I don't think they should be in anybody's back yard."
All Laurie is requesting is that rigorous tests, independent of the industry or concerned residents, be carried out. Laurie knows her research, which catalogues a series of health effects among those living near wind turbines, will always be considered tainted by the fact there is a proposal for a wind farm near her own property. But her findings mirror the results of other research that has also struggled for official recognition from the wind industry and government agencies.
Brown's green jobs to deindustrialise Australia
Dr Oliver Marc Hartwich
Politicians love ‘creating’ jobs, especially when these jobs serve a ‘greater good,’ such as fighting climate change. Greens leader Bob Brown recently praised Germany’s renewable energy policy.
Brown believes that investment in green technologies saved Germany’s economy from the global financial crisis. This in itself is a questionable assertion: the German GDP fell by 4.7% in 2009, and despite a 3.6% growth in 2010, output has not returned to pre-crisis levels.
Senator Brown also claims that ‘330,000 extra jobs have been created in Germany because of legislation moving to a clean, green energy future.’ If only.
The figure of 330,000 green energy jobs may well be true if you add up all employees working in industries such as wind energy, biomass and solar power. But were these ‘extra’ jobs ‘created’ as a result of green legislation? And at what cost?
First, it is necessary to count the costs of the alleged green jobs miracle. A study by the respected economic research institute RWI concluded that every single worker in these industries had been supported to the tune of €175,000 ($240,000). Given this enormous subsidy, it is remarkable how few jobs have been created.
In Germany, subsidies for renewable energies are paid for by energy users. Renewable energy suppliers can feed their production into the grid at guaranteed high prices; the additional cost of green electricity is passed on to private and business energy users.
As consumers have to pay more for power than they would have otherwise, they cannot spend the money elsewhere. Job losses then occur in other industries. In particular, high energy costs threaten energy-intensive industries such aluminium smelting, steel and cement.
The future of Germany’s largest aluminium smelter Rheinwerk, employing more than 600 people in the city of Neuss, hangs in the balance as high energy costs leave it uncompetitive. The weekly Die Zeit recently reported that Rheinwerk is only producing at 10% capacity despite a growing global demand for aluminium.
Aluminium is not an exception. According to the RWI study, net employment effects of green energies are minimal and may well be negative. Instead of creating ‘extra’ jobs, renewable energies are destroying jobs. These lost jobs are dispersed across the economy and not always easy to spot.
This week, EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger warned that high energy taxes had triggered a ‘creeping process of deindustrialisation’ in Germany. As regulatory elements accounted for more than 40% of energy costs, companies were moving their activities abroad, he said. Far from creating green industries, German eco-subsidies have led to industrial decline.
Maybe that is what Senator Brown would like to see in Australia as well.
The above is a press release from the Centre for Independent Studies, dated 4 March Enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Snail mail: PO Box 92, St Leonards, NSW, Australia 1590.
Carbon tax no climate cure-all: Lomborg
CARBON taxes can do little to change global warming, controversial Danish political scientist Bjørn Lomborg said in Australia this week, but it could fund a genuine solution. In Dr Lomborg's view, that solution lies in the ubiquitous availability of cheap green energy.
"The current solution is to make fossil fuels so expensive that nobody will want them," Dr Lomborg said, adding that this is "economically inefficient and politically impossible".
Instead, he thinks the world should be innovating "to make green energy so cheap that everyone will want it". "This is not about subsidies to green energy, it's about innovation."
Dr Lomborg, currently an adjunct professor at Copenhagen Business School, is the author of The Skeptical Environmentalist and Cool It. He is often branded a climate change skeptic, but his skepticism is these days directed more at the economic solutions proposed to address climate change.
"Global warming is real, it's a man-made problem, it's something we need to fix," he said on Tuesday. "Any economist would say that CO2 is bad and it should be taxed in principle."
However, he added, "The best economic analysis suggests that damage cost of CO2 is about $7 a tonne. So by all means (impose a tax) but it will reduce CO2 emissions very little." "Focusing on the tax is putting the cart before the horse. What we really need to do is focus on the innovation, and a carbon tax is a way to fund that innovation."
Citing Richard Tol, a climate economist who believes the potential effects of climate change are overplayed, Dr Lomborg poured cold economic water on the long-term benefits of a direct assault on fossil fuels. His assessment of the Kyoto Protocol is that it would cost about $180 billion per year by 2100, and reduce global temperatures by 0.00°C.
Dr Tol's modelling of the objective to reduce global temperatures by 2°C by 2100 came up with a bill of $40,000 billion per year, with each dollar spent avoiding only two cents of climate damage.
"We fail to remember that we don't burn fossil fuels to annoy Al Gore," Dr Lomborg observed. "We burn fossil fuels because they power virtually everything we like."
His solution, which he says stems from the work of several leading economists, including a handful of Nobel winners, is to direct 0.2 per cent of global GDP toward research and development of breakthrough green energy technologies. The cost would be about $100 billion a year ($1.6 billion for Australia), with a claimed return of $11 for each dollar invested.
"I don't think we should focus on a particular issue—solar or wind. Some things won't come through. Those that do will power the rest of the 21st Century." "Fundamentally, it's a much cheaper way to do much more good."
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