Friday, June 23, 2017

Solar Power Stops Working Well When It’s Hot Outside

Don’t expect recent heat waves hitting the southwest to make solar panels produce more energy, according to an industry representative.

High temperatures decrease a photovoltaic solar cell’s output by between 10 and 25 percent, Stuart Fox, a vice president at the green energy company CivicSolar, told The San Francisco Chronicle Wednesday. Research indicates that a solar panel’s power output drops by 1.1 percent for every 1.8 degree rise in temperature above 107 degrees Fahrenheit, and solar panels can get much hotter than that.

“If you take a glass solar shingle and lay it on the roof, there’s no air going behind it, so it might get a lot hotter — it might get to 140 or 160 degrees Fahrenheit,” Fox told The Chronicle.

Photovoltaic solar cells work when energy from the sun excites electrons on the panels, which generates energy the cells can capture. However, at high temperatures it takes less energy to excite the electrons, meaning that the cell produces less power. High temperatures frequently coincide with peak demand for electricity, meaning that solar power is at its least effective when it is most needed.

This effect is a big problem for rooftop solar panels, which lack the capacity for large scale cooling of industrial solar systems but receive the majority of taxpayer support.

Most state solar subsidies go to residential rooftop installations through a subsidy called net metering, a 30 percent federal tax credit. Previously, solar subsidies were so lucrative that solar-leasing companies installed rooftop systems, which run at minimum $10,000, at no upfront cost to the consumer. Companies do this because state and federal subsidies are so massive that such behavior is actually profitable.

Researchers found that expanding or maintaining net metering subsidies for rooftop solar will drive up power prices. Without government support, solar energy is non-viable, according to a 2015 study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Even proponents of solar power and net metering recognize their reliance on subsidies. Without high net metering payments, rooftop solar “makes no financial sense for a consumer,” Lyndon Rive, CEO of SolarCity, told The New York Times in February 2016.


Obama Still Creating a Toxic Environment for Trump’s Policies at EPA

“Pay no attention to that man behind that curtain!” The Wizard of Oz had a good reason for trying to distract Dorothy when his true identity was revealed in the 1939 classic film. The last thing he wanted was for her to figure how things really operated.

Oz isn’t the only place where people are ignorant of who operates quietly in the shadows. The federal government is rife with people who do their jobs away from the spotlight, wielding a measure of influence that can even outweigh that of their bosses.

Take the Environmental Protection Agency. You may be aware that its current administrator is a man appointed by President Trump – Scott Pruitt. But there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of Francesca Grifo, the agency’s “Scientific Integrity Official.”

And frankly, that’s fine by Grifo. The less you know about her and many other unelected bureaucrats, the easier their jobs are. Especially because Grifo’s current job appears to be trying to subvert Pruitt’s.

Grifo was hired in 2013. Her position as “Scientific Integrity Official” grew out of President Obama’s stated goal to “restore science to its rightful place,” as he put it in his 2009 Inaugural address.

Like so many other titles and goals, it all sounds pretty harmless. But as Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberly Strassel recently pointed out, a political motive was at work. This was, she writes, Obama’s “way of warning Republicans that there’d be no more debate on climate change or other liberal environmental priorities.”

Grifo came to the agency from the far-left Union of Concerned Scientists, so you can imagine why she was selected. You can also imagine what her job boils down to now that Donald Trump is president: thwarting his agenda as much as possible.

Toward that end is a meeting she’ll be hosting soon with numerous groups to discuss ways to pursue “scientific integrity.” The initial guest list read like a “who’s who” of the liberal environmental movement: Earthjustice, Public Citizen, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Progressive Reform, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, and yes, the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“This is a government employee using taxpayer funds to gather political activists on government grounds to plot — let’s not kid ourselves — ways to sabotage the Trump administration,” Strassel writes. (Since then, some conservative groups have been invited as well, but it took Strassel’s column to do it.)

It isn’t just disagreements over policy that fuels the behind-the-scenes activities of bureaucrats such as Francesca Grifo. They surely have their eyes on the budget cuts that the president has proposed to climate programs.

Climate Wire called his budget “a slap in the face.” To Scientific American, it’s a “slaughter.” Think Progress deems it “a punitive … assault on science, the environment, and indeed the planet.”

But as environmental experts Katie Tubb and Nicolas Loris point out in a piece for the Daily Signal, all this hyperventilating lacks context.

For one thing, some cuts to the federal government’s sizable climate budget are clearly in order: At least 18 agencies administer climate-change activities, to the tune of $77 billion between fiscal years 2008 and 2013.

There’s a lot of wasteful spending in there, such as $700,000 to a global-warming musical, and an EPA grant for “green” nail salon concepts in California. Moreover, Tubb and Loris note, most of the money goes to “green” tech rather than to science, wildlife or international aid. “Even after the president’s proposed cuts,” they write, “there is plenty of money left in the federal budget to study and model the climate.”

If President Trump wants to make any headway at the EPA and other federal agencies, he needs to do more than appoint good people to run them. He needs to make sure that the people behind the curtain aren’t working to undermine him.


Experts Published A Scathing Rebuttal To The Left’s Favorite Green Energy Study

A group of researchers have published a scathing rebuttal to a 2015 report claiming the U.S. could run on 100 percent green energy, which they say suffered from “significant shortcomings.”

The 2015 study led by Stanford University professor Mark Jacobson claimed wind turbines, solar power and hydroelectric dams could power the entire U.S. But 21 researchers published a retort to Jacobson’s study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Jacobson’s “work used invalid modeling tools, contained modeling errors, and made implausible and inadequately supported assumptions,” reads the PNAS study’s abstract.

“Policy makers should treat with caution any visions of a rapid, reliable, and low-cost transition to entire energy systems that relies almost exclusively on wind, solar, and hydroelectric power,” wrote the 21 experts, led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Christopher Clack.

The researchers were worried politicians would use Jacobson’s study to promise a “greener” world that’s more expensive and less technology achievable than they let on.

David Victor, an energy policy expert at University of California-San Diego and PNAS co-author, said Jacobson’s study sets “wildly unrealistic expectations” that could cause a “massive misallocation of resources.”

“That is both harmful to the economy, and creates the seeds of a backlash,” Victor told MIT Technology Review.

So far, only Hawaii has a policy calling for 100 percent green energy, but California Democrats are pushing legislation to get all its electricity generated from green energy by 2045.

Environmentalists and some Democrats hailed Jacobson’s paper when it was first published. The study was even featured in the anti-fracking film “Gasland II” and attracted the attention of celebrities, like Mark Ruffalo.

Jacobson’s paper also spawned the creation of the “Solutions Project” — a non-profit dedicated to “moving all of us to clean, renewable energy powered by the wind, water, and sun.” Ruffalo sits on its board, along with Jacobson.

A group of left-leaning non-profit foundations, including the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, the Tides Foundation and the Rockefeller Family Fund, back the Solutions Project.

Jacobson did not sit idly by, and published his own rebuttal to the PNAS report. He also lashed out against the PNAS authors in the media.

“They try to falsify this thing by claiming that there are errors,” Jacobson told The Washington Post. “This is what really bothers me with this paper. I don’t have any problem with people trying to quibble with our assumptions.”

“There is not a single error in our paper,” Jacobson told Technology Review in a short email.

He even accused Clack of using “intentional misinformation” to back his study and said his critics had a financial incentive to dispute his research.

“They’re either nuclear advocates or carbon sequestration advocates or fossil-fuels advocates,” Jacobson said. “They don’t like the fact that we’re getting a lot of attention, so they’re trying to diminish our work.”

Essentially, the criticism of Jacobson’s paper comes down to modeling and assumptions.

“They do bizarre things,” PNAS co-author Daniel Kammen of the University of California-Berkeley, told Technology Review.

“They treat U.S. hydropower as an entirely fungible resource. Like the amount [of power] coming from a river in Washington state is available in Georgia, instantaneously,” he said.

PNAS study authors say the U.S. could get 80 percent of its energy from sources that emit no carbon dioxide, but that goes beyond solar, wind and hydro power. The authors say nuclear energy, bioenergy and carbon capture and storage systems for biomass would be needed.


EPA’s suspect science

Its practices have defiled scientific integrity, but proposed corrections bring shock and defiance

John Rafuse

President Trump’s budget guidance sought to cut $1.6 billion from the Environmental Protection Agency’s $8.1 billion expectation. Shrieks of looming Armageddon prompted Congress to fund EPA in full until September 2017, when the battle will be joined again.

Then EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said he would prioritize Superfund cleanups based on toxicity, health-impact and other factors. The ensuing caterwauling suggested that EPA had no priorities since Bill Ruckelshaus (EPA’s first administrator, 1970-1975). But consider some standard EPA practices:  

1. EPA advocates claim the US is unhealthy and dirty. They won’t admit that US water quality has improved dramatically since 1970. They deny that factories, cars and power plants are far more efficient and clean. They ignore that, while most nations continue to cut down forest habitats for fuel, the Lower 48 states have more forest coverage than when the Pilgrims landed in 1620.

They never mention that the US did not sign the 1992 Kyoto Accord, nor that it is the only nation to meet its Kyoto targets. Is it ignorance? malignance? eco-professional propaganda? Yes, yes, and yes.

The United States is one of the cleanest, healthiest nations on earth. Our progress will continue because we rejected the Paris Accord and thus will not cripple our economy, jobs or environmental progress. Other nations must work hard to catch us. They may work hard, but they won’t catch up, and they’ll blame us.        

2. Eco-militants at EPA tricked the Supreme Court into letting it label plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide a pollutant. Meanwhile, professional enviros demand “zero tolerance” for pollutants – because they claim “any dose kills.”

However, CO2 is plant fertilizer, the trace gas that makes plant and animal life possible on our planet. Atmospheric CO2 is just 400 parts per million (ppm), or 0.04% of the air we breathe, compared to 21% oxygen and almost 1% argon.  Classrooms average 1,000 to 2,000 ppm; US nuclear submarines average 5,000 to 8,000ppm. We inhale 400 ppm and exhale 40,000 to 50,000 ppm.

That means 100 to 125 times the “fatal dose” of a “zero tolerance pollutant” is always in our lungs.  We don’t die, because CO2 is not a pollutant and because real scientists know that dosage, not microscopic presence, is the key.

EPA keeps cheating, but dosage always determines poisonous impact. In fact, EPA experiments illegally exposed human test subjects to 10 and even 30 times the levels of fine soot particles that EPA claims are lethal. No one got sick or died, and yet EPA continues its “standards” and lies.

3. DDT saved millions in World War II from death by typhus. By 1970 DDT had helped wipe out malaria in 99 countries, including the USA. Administrator Ruckelshaus appointed a scientific committee to examine claims that the pesticide caused cancer and other problems. The experts said it did not, because dosage determines effect.

Ruckelshaus ignored them, never attended a minute of their hearings, never read a page of their extensive report. He simply banned DDT in 1972.  He later said he had a “political problem” due to Rachel Carson’s misinformed book Silent Spring and pressure from the Environmental Defense Fund, and he needed to “fix it.”

Other nations followed suit, banning DDT. Since 1972, some 40 million children and parents have needlessly died from malaria. Today DDT is partially reinstated, but P.A. Offit, Pandora’s Lab, Seven Stories of Science Gone Wrong, quotes Michael Crichton, MD: “Banning DDT is one of the most disgraceful episodes in twentieth century America. We knew better, and we did it anyway, and we let people around the world die, and we didn’t give a damn.”

4. EPA knowingly relies on fake science. Data from point-source “pollution” are used to “project” thousands of asthma cases and cancer deaths. EPA “validates” the analyses by “assuming” that each projected death and illness happened to someone who had spent every second of a 70-year life at the point-source – within 6 feet of the measurement point. But Newton’s Law of Inverse Squares proves that dosage wanes by the inverse square of the distance; 5 units of distance cuts dosage impact to 1/25 what it was at its source. At 10 units, the impact is 1/100th.  EPA’s analysis is a dishonest, purposeful scam.

The 70-year/6-foot/no-movement assumption makes a joke of all its calculations and projections. EPA has relied on that scam for decades to “prove” need for a non-scientific regulatory remedy for every newly invented threat.

5. EPA colludes with professional environmentalists to “fix” “inadequate” draft regulations. EPA then “settles” cases, pays co-conspirators’ fees with taxpayer funds and wins excessive regulatory powers it sought from the beginning. Parties who oppose the decision never get a day in court, and the “sue-and-settle” cases ensure high costs but provide no health or environmental benefits.

6. EPA covers up crimes. As the auto industry cratered since 2000, Flint, Michigan has lost 25,000 citizens and become poorer and more minority. The 2010 Census Report concluded that 42% of the population was in a “level of poverty and health … not comparable to other geographic levels of these estimates.” Yet EPA (and state and local authorities) did nothing to protect them. What happened?

The 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act delegated compliance to EPA, which typically approves a State Compliance Plan, re-delegates authority, and oversees State and local enforcement. Flint’s drinking water has been lead-poisoned for three years – ever since state and local officials switched water sources to save money with no hearings, approvals or notifications to EPA or affected citizens.

Drinking, tasting and smelling nauseating newly-brown water alerted residents to potential dangers. An EPA expert tested the water in 2014 and wrote repeated warnings to Agency officials. A February 2015 Detroit News report said EPA’s Regional Administrator knew the facts but claimed her “hands were tied.”

Then-EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy forbade the staff expert from meeting, writing or speaking about the issue, and reassigned him.  Thus the two most senior and directly responsible EPA officials “washed their hands” of the problem.

But Flint Medical Center tested for lead in the water and sounded the alarm. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added powerful voices. Flint’s mayor and Michigan’s governor took heat until the state’s attorney general initially charged five Flint and Michigan officials with wrongful issuance of permits, and tampering, altering and falsifying evidence. That has now expanded to more than 50 criminal charges against 15 state officials; including one of involuntary manslaughter (an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease took 12 lives).

The two “clean-handed” EPA officials kept mum until June 12, 2016, when Gina McCarthy wrote to Michigan’s governor and Flint’s mayor. Citing “major challenges” and her “long-term” clean water goal, she blamed state and local staffs and old and (newly) over-large piping. She said EPA had no money to help. Will Michigan’s AG indict EPA officials involved in the EPA cover-ups?  That would be logical, but don’t bet on it.

McCarthy’s was a nasty letter from a culpable official. Later in 2016, Congress voted $110 million to repair Flint’s drinking water, no thanks to EPA. The work will go on for years as Flint residents get bottled water from EPA and the state.

President Trump’s budget guidance exposed decades-old EPA abuses. The evidence exposes EPA’s lack of mission, commitment and integrity. If EPA would use honest, evidence-based science to protect the nation’s health, it would be a welcome and long overdue change – perhaps a miracle. What’s your bet?

Via email

Former Dem congressman: End the war on coal


Very few members of Congress have actually shoveled tons upon tons of coal. I have.

I started working in a coal yard at the age of 13 and I know what coal has meant to the development of this great country and the comfort of its people.

I later had the honor of serving in Congress for four terms. As a Democrat from western Pennsylvania, I spent my time in Congress and the years since I left as an advocate for clean American coal.

For Pennsylvania, the reasons to support coal are obvious, regardless of your political affiliation. Until recent years, the coal industry was a cornerstone of our regional economy. An industry that once employed almost 863,000 American workers now employs just over 50,000. According to the most recent statistics, only about 6,600 of those jobs are in Pennsylvania — down more than 16 percent from the previous year.

As the rest of the world relies more and more on coal, Washington has told us to use less. — it wasn’t a suggestion. A single rule passed in 2011 wiped out half of the coal industry’s entire output. Plants shuttered overnight and the jobs that supported them were gone as well. And that’s thanks to just one regulation that is part of a much larger war on coal that has gone on for at least a generation. The casualties are thousands of lost jobs, entire communities shuttered as their sole source of prosperity disappeared thanks to overtly political mandates from Washington.

The damaged caused by the war on coal doesn’t end in Pennsylvania, or even the coal mining regions of Appalachia. Until recently, resilient resources like coal and nuclear energy provided what’s known as “baseload power” to our country’s energy grid. By definition, baseload power is able to withstand sudden and drastic fluctuations in both supply and demand. Coal and nuclear facilities maintain weeks — and up to a year — worth of fuel on-site and have reliable supply chains that can deliver power to customers even under crisis conditions. These fuels are the only energy sources capable of delivering baseload power. But Washington has nearly regulated them out of existence.

This is not an inconvenience. It’s a crisis. Other energy sources have already proven themselves unworthy in the event of a catastrophe. Our reliance on natural gas nearly cost lives during the 2014 polar vortex, when supply disruptions forced power plants to cut production or shut down altogether and prices skyrocketed overnight. And for all of the government subsidies directed toward so-called renewable energy like solar and wind, those sources aren’t anywhere close to being able to meet the country’s energy needs even under ideal circumstances.

If we wait for the next severe weather event or a terrorist attack on our power grid, it will already be too late. We have to act now. The process of changing rules and rolling back regulations in Washington can take years. If we don’t get ahead of the next catastrophe, it could cost lives and lead to massive price volatility.

There is a sliver of hope. Right now, the Department of Energy is conducting a study on baseload power and our nation’s energy supply chain. That study will likely reveal what we already know — that we are in a crisis situation. At that point, it will be up to Energy Secretary Rick Perry and President Trump to act swiftly to roll back regulations, end the war on coal and right the ship so our energy grid is once again fueled by baseload power.

For years, Washington has waged a war on reliable energy under the auspices of environmental protection. This is a false choice. Clean American coal is both responsible and reliable — if only we unshackle it from wild overregulation and political stigma. We can restore energy stability and security in the United States and make this country a world leader when it comes to clean and sustainable energy. That’s no small feat considering that coal consumption is booming in countries like China and India.

In a much more immediate sense, we will find ourselves on stable footing here at home for the first time in years. We need the ability to fuel our grid with reliable, resilient baseload power. It’s good for our workers, it’s good for our national security and it’s good for our country. Washington needs to act immediately.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   main.html or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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