Friday, February 20, 2015
Despite $39B in Annual Gov't. Subsidies, Solar Produced 0.5% of Electricity in US
Despite receiving an estimated $39 billion in annual government subsidies over the past five years, the solar energy industry accounted for just one half of one percent (0.5%) of all the electricity generated in the U.S. during the first 10 months of 2014, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Between January and October of last year, the U.S. produced a total of 3,431,473 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity. But only 15,973 million kWh were generated by solar thermal or photovoltaic (PV) solar modules that use semiconducting materials to convert sunlight into electricity, according to EIA's latest Monthly Energy Review.
The amount of solar power generated last year was up from the 9,252 million kWh produced in 2013, but still remained a tiny fraction of the nation’s total power generated in 2014 despite billions of dollars in subsidies spent on hundreds of solar programs at the federal, state and local level.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) “Sunshot Initiative” proposes to have solar energy account for 14 percent of all electricity generated in the U.S. by 2030 and 27 percent by 2050. But even among renewable energy sources, solar still accounts for just a small percentage, according to the EIA.
Renewable energy sources
Although sunlight is free, capturing and storing the sun’s energy in the form of electricity is definitely not. Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor, noted last year that “if the 27 percent of U.S. electricity generated by natural gas came instead from solar power, consumer costs for monthly electric bills would increase about 25 percent.”
In 2008, then presidential candidate Barack Obama promised five million new “green” jobs, including jobs in the solar industry, where employment increased 22 percent between November 2013 and November 2014.
However, a January 27, 2015 report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) stated that “the solar manufacturing sector supported 32,490 jobs nationwide in 2014,” which amounted to just a “tiny sliver of the more than 12 million domestic manufacturing jobs in 2014.”
Competition from China, which manufactures 70 percent of the world’s solar panels, and the availability of cheap natural gas to generate electricity has negatively impacted a number of American solar companies, mostly located in California, Ohio, Oregon, Texas and Washington State.
”Some PV manufacturers have closed their U.S. operations, some have entered bankruptcy, and others are reassessing their business models,” the CRS reported, adding that “a large share of the facilities that have closed [including Solyndra, Inc.] operated for less than five years.”
“In the absence of continued government support for solar installation or for the production of solar equipment, the prospects for expansion of domestic PV solar manufacturing may be limited,” CRS noted.
Even with massive government subsidies, some solar projects have not lived up to expectations.
For example, a project to install solar panels on schools and other public buildings in three counties in New Jersey that was supposed to pay for itself by allowing the counties to sell excess electricity back to the grid was touted as a national model four years ago. But the deal has gone sour, with only half of the work completed and taxpayers on the hook for $88 million.
"Solar energy remains prohibitively expensive - often three times more than electricity produced from natural gas and other sources," according to a report by the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) entitled Filling the Solar Sinkhole: Billions of Bucks Have Delivered Too Little Bang.
That includes the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in California, the largest solar power plant of its type in the world, which generated only about half of the electricity it was expecting to produce last year due to “fewer sunny days” than initially predicted.
“Despite reaping $1.6 billion in subsidies, [Ivanpah] produces electricity at a cost 3 times higher than traditional power and has requested $539 million in additional direct handouts from the federal government,” the report said.
“We’re shining a bright spotlight on the darker side of solar power,” said TPA president David Williams. “Taxpayer-backed loans to the solar industry, bailouts, and publicly funded grants cost Americans more than $39 billion annually. Despite these massive costs, taxpayers aren’t even benefitting with lower electricity prices.”
In addition to the federal tax credits, grants, guaranteed loans and other subsidies, "there are 43 different solar-power-related tax breaks available across 20 states" as well as "538 different state and local green energy rebate programs across the United States," TPA researchers found.
"These schemes are intended to reduce the final cost of products including solar water heaters and grid-connected rooftop solar panels to make them more appealing to customers." However, even with generous government subsidies, including a tax credit that reduces the cost of installing solar panels by 30 percent, "none of it has worked," the TPA report concluded.
"With so little to show for so many costly initiatives, it should be apparent to objective observers that federal solar power efforts have not been a productive or prudent use of precious tax dollars."
The EPA's Ozone Nightmare
By Alan Caruba
Putting aside its insane attack on carbon dioxide, declaring the most essential gas on Earth, other than oxygen, a “pollutant”, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently engaged in trying to further regulate ozone for no apparent reason other than its incessant attack on the economy.
In late January on behalf of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), Dr. Bonner R. Cohen, Ph.D, filed his testimony on the proposed national ambient air quality standard for ozone. The EPA wants to lower the current ozone standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb) to a range of 70 to 65 ppb, and even as low as 60 ppb.
“After promulgation of the current ozone standards in 2008,” Dr. Cohen noted, “EPA two years later called a temporary halt to the nationwide implementation of the standard in response to the severe recession prevailing at the time.”
In other words, it was deemed bad for the economy. “Now, EPA is proposing a new, more stringent standard even before the current standard has been fully implemented and even though, according to the EPA’s own data, ozone concentrations have declined by 33 percent since 1980.”
According to Wikipedia: “Ozone is a powerful oxidant (far more so than dioxygen) and has many industrial and consumer applications related to oxidation. This same high oxidizing potential, however, causes ozone to damage mucous and respiratory tissues in animals, and also tissues in plants, above concentrations of about 100 ppb.
This makes ozone a potent respiratory hazard and pollutant near ground level. However, the so-called ozone layer (a portion of the stratosphere with a higher concentration of ozone, from two to eight ppm) is beneficial, preventing damaging ultraviolet light from reaching the Earth’s surface, to the benefit of both plants and animals.”
So, yes, reducing ozone in the ground level atmosphere does have health benefits, but the EPA doesn't just enforce the Clean Air Act, it also seeks to reinterpret and use it in every way possible to harm the economy.
As Dr. Cohen pointed out, “the Clean Air Act requires EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee to produce an evaluation of the adverse effects, including economic impact, of obtaining and maintaining a tighter standard. Despite repeated requests from Congress, (the Committee) has not produced the legally required evaluation. By ignoring this statutory mandate, and moving ahead with its ozone rulemaking, EPA is showing contempt for the rule of law and for the taxpayers who provide the agency’s funding.”
Since President Obama took office in 2009 he has used the EPA as one of his primary tools to harm the U.S. economy. In a Feb 2 Daily Caller article, Michael Bastasch reported that “Tens of thousands of coal mine and power plant workers have lost their jobs under President Obama, and more layoffs could be on the way as the administration continues to pile on tens of billions of dollars in regulatory costs.”
The American Coal Council’s CEO Betsy Monseu also testified regarding the proposed ozone standards, noting that the increased reductions would affect power plants, industrial plants, auto, agriculture, commercial and residential buildings, and more.
Citing a study undertaken for the National Association of Manufacturers, “a 60 ppb ozone standard would result in a GDP reduction of $270 billion per year, a loss of up to 2.9 million jobs equivalents annually, and a reduction of $1,570 in average annual household consumption. Electricity costs could increase up to 23% and natural gas cost by up to 52% over the period to 2040.”
In a rational society, imposing such job losses and increased costs when the problem is already being solved would make no sense, but we all live in Obama’s society these days and that means increasing ozone standards only make sense if you want to harm the economy in every way possible.
Study: Obama’s Carbon Rules Could Cost Thousands of Manufacturing Jobs in Your State
A new study predicts that more than a half million manufacturing jobs will be eliminated from the U.S. economy as a result of the Obama administration’s proposed regulations to curb carbon dioxide emissions.
“Every state would experience overwhelming negative impacts as a result of these regulations, but especially those with higher-than-average employment in manufacturing and mining,” said Nick Loris, a co-author of the study, which was completed by energy experts at The Heritage Foundation—the parent organization of The Daily Signal.
The researchers projected how many manufacturing jobs would be eliminated in each state and congressional district as a consequence of the carbon plan, which is the centerpiece of President Obama’s effort to combat climate change.
The results show that 34 states would lose three to four percent of manufacturing jobs by 2023, and nine other states would lose more.
In Ohio alone, 31,747 jobs would be lost.
The study predicts that the Midwest would be hit the hardest, with Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin losing more than 20,000 jobs each.
“Because America’s industrial base relies on affordable, reliable energy, these regulations would deal a crushing blow to the manufacturing sector, particularly impacting the Midwest.” -Nick Loris.
On a local level, 68 percent of U.S. Congressional districts are expected to lose more than 1,000 manufacturing jobs.
Loris says the manufacturing sector is an “important piece of the puzzle” that should not be overlooked when considering the administration’s proposed rule meant to limit carbon pollution.
“Our analysis shows that it’s not just coal-country that’s hit hard by the federal government’s climate regulations,” he said. “Because America’s industrial base relies on affordable, reliable energy, these regulations would deal a crushing blow to the manufacturing sector, particularly impacting the Midwest.”
How Billionaires Run Solar Plant Scams
At the recent inauguration of the Desert Sunlight solar farm, Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell stated, “This is the beginnings of a renewable energy future.”
Let’s hope she is wrong, because the Desert Sunlight project is cronyism at its worst. This project involves $1.5 billion of subsidized loans. It also mandated purchases of overpriced power, all to benefit the project’s owners. And don’t think those owners are struggling mom-and-pop operations. Instead, they’re three of the world’s largest corporations—GE (market capitalization of $247 billion), NextEra Energy (market capitalization of $47 billion) and Sumitomo Corporation (market capitalization of $13 billion).
Here’s how the scam works. It begins with proposing to build a solar plant. But solar plants take up a lot of land. Gosh, that can be expensive. So, the government rents them the land at bargain prices.
The next problem is that solar plants are outrageously expensive, which is why real capitalists tend to shy away from solar energy. Luckily for the aspiring political crony, the government will help you get a loan guaranteed by taxpayers. (Just like the $500 million dollar loan they gave Solyndra, before it went bankrupt. Oops!) Added to all this, the federal government is willing to offer a 30 percent solar investment tax credit, a deduction of 30 percent of your cost from your taxes.
Now that there is money and land for the plant, what next?
Well, even with those unconscionable subsidies solar is still too expensive: utility companies prefer cheaper, more reliable energy. So then, the state government steps in to rig the market even more.
Of course, if renewable energy were already competitive there would be no need for the mandate. But it’s not.
So helpfully for companies like Desert Sunlight, California requires utility companies to meet “renewable portfolio standards,” which mandate that at least 33 percent of their energy come from renewable sources.
How uncompetitive is solar power? There’s no clear answer: California electricity consumers are kept in the dark. The price of this renewable electricity is expressly kept secret from both taxpayers and consumers.
If the Desert Sunlight solar farm is the “beginnings of a renewable energy future,” then the future doesn’t look bright, for taxpayers, ratepayers and all Americans who think mega-corporations should make a living by selling their products, not by selling a bill of goods.
How High Costs Killed This Clean Coal Power Plant Project
The Department of Energy pulled the plug on this $1.1 billion project in Illinois: a “clean coal” power plant that would capture carbon dioxide and store it underground.
President George W. Bush proposed the carbon-free power plant in 2003 but shelved the project five years later because of cost overruns. President Obama’s Energy Department revived the plant in 2010. Now, five years and $200 million later, the financing is being terminated because the project can’t be completed by its September deadline.
FutureGen isn’t the only carbon capture and sequestration plant to run into trouble. Southern Co.’s Kemper Plant in Mississippi — like FutureGen, a stimulus handout recipient — has been plagued with delays and cost overruns. The estimated cost, initially projected at $2 billion, now stands at $6.1 billion, making it the most costly coal-fired plant in U.S. history.
Obama wasn’t kidding when he said, in 2008: “So if somebody wants to build a coal power plant, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.” He just neglected to mention that taxpayers and ratepayers would be stuck with the tab.
Candidate Obama made the comment when pitching his “cap-and-trade” plan to make coal-generated electricity prohibitively expensive. But when Congress refused to pass cap-and-trade, the president decided to use the federal bureaucracy to regulate new and existing coal plants out of existence.
The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed regulations that effectively would ban construction of coal-fired electricity generating units. To meet emissions standards, new plants would have to install the carbon capture and sequestration technology that has driven Kemper and FutureGen into the financial ditch.
Bizarrely, the proposed rule cites both projects as evidence of significant progress toward commercialization of carbon capture and sequestration. In fact, they serve as exhibits A and B for why the federal government’s clean power plan is destined to drive up energy costs for families and businesses.
Coal remains the single largest electricity source in America. As a power source, it is plentiful, affordable and clean. The U.S. boasts 487 billion tons of coal recoverable with today’s technology. That is enough to provide electricity for over 500 years at current consumption rates.
Markets — not bureaucrats — should drive how much coal Americans use. But the administration seems committed to promulgating regulations that will drive coal plants off the grid and drive consumer energy costs through the roof.
Make no mistake: It’s not just “coal country” that would take an economic hit because of these regulations. Sharply higher energy prices will ripple throughout the economy, increasing the cost of producing and delivering virtually every type of good or service. Those costs will be passed on to consumers. As their pocketbooks absorb hit after hit, they will be forced to buy less. That, in turn, will force companies to shed employees, close entirely or move to other countries where the cost of doing business is lower.
Researchers in The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Data Analysis have examined how killing coal would affect our economy. Using a derivative of the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s National Energy Model System, we found job losses of more than 600,000 by 2023.
Income for the typical family of four would drop more than $1,200 per year.
What does the planet receive in return for that economic sacrifice? A change in global temperatures almost too small to measure. Using a climate calculator and model developed by the EPA, climatologists Paul Knappenberger and Pat Michaels project that the EPA’s climate regulations would, by the end of the century, mitigate warming by 0.02 of a degree Celsius. High costs killed FutureGen again last week. It’s time for Congress to step in and kill the administration’s clean power plan — before the regulations kill family and business budgets across the country.
Crazy Climate Scientists Claim Baking Soda ‘Carbon Capture’ Breakthrough
Written by Dr Klaus L.E. Kaiser
Would you have thought of that? The solution to a non-existing problem resides right on your kitchen shelf! baking soda
As Nature World News reports, “It’s possible the solution to our world’s buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has been sitting on our grocery shelves all along. Baking soda of all things may help to capture carbon dioxide, according to a new breakthrough study.” As that new report is authored by no less than 15 scientists it must carry some weight and be based on realistic experiments and knowledge. At least you’d be forgiven for thinking that.
The article notes further that “Scientists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), in collaboration with researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Harvard University, have developed a new type of carbon capture medium made up of core-shell microcapsules, consisting of a polymer shell that is highly permeable. The shell contains a solution of sodium carbonate, which is the main ingredient of baking soda, and it can absorb carbon dioxide (CO2).”
Let’s begin with some Chemistry
Just for the (very) few Dear Readers unaccustomed to chemical thinking, baking soda also goes by the term “sodium hydrogencarbonate” or, more commonly, “sodium bicarbonate” (SBC), the salt of sodium hydroxide with “hydrogen-carbonic acid.”
From a chemical point of view, SBC is fully “saturated” or “loaded” with carbon dioxide and could not take up any more.
Therefore, the idea that sodium bicarbonate may be able to absorb more carbon dioxide (from whatever source) is simply nonsense. In fact, the opposite is true and that’s the sole reason for using baking soda at all. It decomposes at temperatures above 50 C (120 F) when you are baking in the hot oven to release tiny bubbles of CO2 gas that make the dough rise. These bubbles expand and your baked cake has an airy texture. Of course, by the time it is ready to be eaten the gas in these voids has exchanged its composition with the surrounding air.
What the reporter and apparently also the contact author fail to mention is that the baking soda solution needs first to be treated either with an acid or by way of heating it in order to liberate half of the CO2. Of course, that is ancient chemistry knowledge and has been used in the Benfield Process to remove CO2 from a gas stream. Nothing new here.
What is new is the authors’ claim of having created microcapsules containing a sodium carbonate (not bicarbonate) solution with permeable silicon-based shells that allow easy passage of CO2 gas. They also claim that this kind of process “may enable low-cost and energy-efficient capture of carbon dioxide from flue gas.”
Why use Baking Soda?
Even without knowledge of any chemistry whatsoever, just by logical thought, anyone should wonder about the use of baking soda as a “carbon capture” technology. If that material produces CO2 upon heating, how could it possibly be used to accumulate CO2 from the air? It is already saturated with CO2, the sole reason for its application in baking.
You’ll probably find some baking soda in your kitchen, perhaps a box of 500 g, or one lb. when it was full. Such a box of SBC contains, chemically bound, approximately one half of the weight in carbon dioxide (CO2). Using that baking soda in your baking makes 50% of its bound CO2 escape into the air. So, Dear baking Readers, please note that you could be a source of CO2 to the atmosphere! Perhaps, you may even have to file some government form claiming an exemption of sort, for your contribution of CO2 to the atmosphere that is said to cause “climate change.”
Not that CO2 has any negative effect on your or “the climate’s” well-being; I just want to make sure you aware of that.
You may also be interested in some comparative figures that ought to alleviate any concerns you may harbor about your baking contributing to “climate change.” For that, let’s assume you breathe in and out, 24 hours a day, once every 4 seconds. That is roughly 20,000 breaths a day. At a volume of 0.25 L/breath that comes to 5,000 L of air expelled with 40,000 ppm or 4% CO2. Each liter of that then contains 40 mg (40/1000 g) of CO2. In other words, the 5,000 L/day of exhaled breath that you and every other person on this planet produce contain in the order of 0.2 kg CO2. That’s many times the amount of CO2 released from the commonly used amount of baking soda when baking just one cake. Therefore, there’s no need for you to worry about your cake-baking, regardless of whether you use baking soda or not.
When comparing the amounts of CO2 coming out of your cake with that from your lungs, you might just get the idea to stop breathing altogether. Be assured there is no need for that either, notwithstanding the President’s claim in his recent State of the Union address that “There’s one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other, and that is the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate.” That “changing climate” is attributed by many to your exhaled CO2 (and other sources from mankind), also known as anthropogenic carbon dioxide. If you really want to know where most CO2 in the air comes from, look no further than the next volcano, for example Kilauea on Hawaii that spits out 9,000,000 kg of CO2 every day – and that’s just one of thousands of volcanos and sea-vents on the globe.
Of course, the whole “climate change” or “global warming” claims attributed to CO2 are nothing but a ruse to make you buy into the “agenda,” i.e. the U.N Agenda-21. As Dr. I. Johnson Paugh just wrote in her column on Agenda 21, Cooked Science Data, and Property Rights, “U.N.‘s Agenda 21 is so insidious that people do not connect the dots between global warmists, the climate change industry, extreme environmentalists, property rights battles with NGOs around the country, main stream media, publishers of textbooks and other publications…”.
This scientific publication by 15 scientists from several previously renowned institutions is just another example of the current preoccupation of science with solving a problem that does not exist. As quoted by Nature World News’ regular columnist Jenna Iacurci, “Our method is a huge improvement in terms of environmental impacts because we are able to use simple baking soda - present in every kitchen - as the active chemical,” Roger Aines, one of the LLNL team members, said in a statement.”
If quoted correctly, this statement is nonsense par excellence, not just chemically but, more importantly, the new technology (if it works at all) would not provide any beneficial impact on the environment. At best it may keep some CO2 capturers employed for a while longer.
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Posted by JR at 1:50 AM