Tuesday, January 19, 2021

California secretly struggles with renewables

By David Wojick |January 16th, 2021|Economy|17 Comments
California has hooked up a grid battery system that is almost ten times bigger than the previous world record holder, but when it comes to making renewables reliable it is so small it might as well not exist.

The new battery array is rated at a storage capacity of 1,200 megawatt hours (MWh); easily eclipsing the record holding 129 MWh Australian system built by Tesla a few years ago. However, California peaks at a whopping 42,000 MW. If that happened on a hot, low wind night this supposedly big battery would keep the lights on for just 1.7 minutes (that’s 103 seconds). This is truly a trivial amount of storage.

Mind you this system is being built to serve just Pacific Gas & Electric. But they by coincidence peak at about half of California, or 21,000 MWh, so they get a magnificent 206 seconds of peak juice. Barely time to find the flashlight, right?

There is no word on what this trivial giant cost, since PG&E does not own it. That honor goes to an outfit called Vistra that does a lot of different things with electricity and gas. But these complex battery systems are not cheap.

This one reportedly utilizes more than 4,500 stacked battery racks, each of which contains 22 individual battery modules. That is 99,000 separate modules that have to be made to work well together. Imagine hooking up 99,000 electric cars and you begin to get the picture.

The US Energy Information Administration reports that grid scale battery systems have averaged around $1.5 million a MWh over100% renewable deception the last few years. At that price this trivial piece of storage cost just under TWO BILLION DOLLARS. At 103 seconds of peak storage that is about $18,000,000 a second. Money for nothing.

Mind you the PG&E engineers are not that stupid. They know perfectly well that this billion dollar battery is not there to provide backup power when wind and solar do not produce. In fact the truth is just the opposite. The battery’s job is to prevent wind and solar power from crashing the grid when they do produce.

It is called grid stabilization. Wind and solar are so erratic that it is very hard to maintain the constant 60 cycle AC frequency that all our wonderful electronic devices require. If the frequency gets more than just a tiny bit off the grid blacks out. Preventing these crashes requires active stabilization.

Grid instability due to erratic wind and solar used to not be a problem, because the huge spinning metal rotors in the coal, gas and nuclear power plant generators simply absorbed the fluctuations. But most of those plants have been shut down, so we need billion dollar batteries to do what those plants did for free. Nor is this monster battery the only one being built in California to try to make wind and solar power work. Many more are in the pipeline and not just in California. Many states are struggling with instability as baseline generators are switched off.

There is even an insane irony here, one that is perfect for Crazy California. This billion dollar battery occupies the old generator room of a shut down gas fired power plant. Those generators used to make the grid stable. Now we are struggling to do it.

Of course no one at PG&E or Vistra says publicly that this monster battery is there to keep renewables from trashing the grid, not to back them up. One wonders if the California Public Utilities Commission knows this? The big question is why is the rate paying public not told? Or the press? There is really a very expensive hoax here.

While on this topic, let’s ask what it would actually cost to back up wind and solar with batteries. This depends a lot on local climate. How often the wind does not blow hard for example. Wind generators need about 10 mph just to start and more like a sustained 30 mph for full power.

Multi-day heat waves are often periods of very low wind, combined with a maximum need for power. A nasty combination. So my rough rule of thumb is that you need storage of 7 days times peak need.

California peaks at 42,000 MWh and 7 days is 168 hours so using this rough rule we would need about 7 million MWh of batteries. This makes 1200 MWh truly trivial. Then at $1.5 million a MWh we get an astounding 10.5 TRILLION DOLLARS, just for the batteries to make renewables reliable.

The scam is breathtaking, and not just in California. Nationwide we are spending untold billions of dollars trying to keep the erratic nature of renewables from crashing the electric power system. But these efforts are routinely portrayed as storage for when renewables do not run. Stabilization is the opposite of storage. We are being lied to about renewables.

Nio, the ‘Chinese Tesla’ that has electrified investors worldwide

When William Li, the founder and chief executive of Nio, decided that the electric car company’s mission statement should be “To shape a joyful lifestyle”, he probably wasn’t thinking about Britain’s twentysomethings happily punting on its share price to stave off boredom in lockdown.

Nio, based in Shanghai and a relatively small company by revenues, making about 200 cars a day, has lofty goals, not least helping to tackle climate change by shifting the world away from internal-combustion engines.

However, it has emerged, with a New York listing, as one of the most popularly traded stocks in Britain, boosted by the commonly expressed prediction that the company is going to be “the next Tesla”.

According to Susannah Streeter, senior investment analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, Britain’s biggest stocks platform: “Nio is the second-most popular overseas investment on the HL platform and since the start of the year has been in the top ten overall.”

AJ Bell, another large investment platform, said that it had handled more trades in Nio in the first week in January than in all of December. Markets.com has reported “very high interest” among its clients.

The stock also seems to be one of those prospective world-beaters that catch the imagination of younger, novice investors: those who have never experienced a full-scale bear market.

IG, the spread-betting group, said that Nio was its second most popular stock globally behind Tesla, especially with younger investors: “We’ve seen a huge amount of interest in it and other electric vehicle stocks over the past 12 months, particularly among the new, younger cohort of clients.”

Etoro, a fast-growing investment-cum-social media platform popular with young people that claims to have about 1.7 million registered users in Britain, said that Nio was its most frequently traded stock in December.

Some investors know very little about the company, let alone take a considered view about its prospects. One 26-year-old quantity surveyor, who asked not to be named, told The Times: “My mate told me to invest in it. He’s bang on it. I’d actually never heard of it before. It’s the Chinese Tesla.

“It’s tipped to nearly double by the end of the year. I’m just waiting for it to make me a millionaire.” This was said tongue-in-cheek, but there is no denying that investors hope to make a profit.

Social media sites are full of chat between millennials relating their investment experiences. One said that after making profits from bitcoin, he was shifting into Nio having taken advice from a 19-year-old friend on Tiktok: “He really knows his shit.”

This kind of talk is grist to the bears and sceptics who mutter about elevator boys in 1929 Manhattan offering share tips just before the Wall Street crash. Nio’s popularity, they argue, is a classic example of a frothy market, with some stocks in bubble territory.

Yet to portray Nio as a stock purely puffed up by naive novices would be wrong. The company has fans among some of the most admired and successful technology investors in the world.

James Anderson, manager of Scottish Mortgage, the FTSE 100 investment trust, sang its praises in a webcast with his investors last week, arguing that it had emerged over the past year from being merely one of perhaps a hundred electric car businesses in China to being “probably the clear leader”.

Nio shares reflect that progress, rising 28-fold from a low of $US2.11 in March to more than $US60 today, valuing Nio at $US96 billion ($125bn) – more than General Motors at $US74bn, or Ford at $US40bn. According to Scottish Mortgage’s most recent filings, its stake in Nio was worth £857 million ($1.5bn) on November 30.

If it holds the same number of shares, that will be more than £1bn today. That is starting to look meaty even against Tesla, which went up by a mere 1000 per cent in the same period since March. The Scottish Mortgage stake in Tesla was worth more than £2bn that last time that it reported.

“Tesla way underperformed Nio last year, so perhaps we should ask Mr Musk [Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla and now the world’s second richest man] why he’s doing so badly,” Mr Anderson said.

Underpinning the confidence of investors is some eye-catching engineering. The latest Nio models seem not only to be ahead of the offerings from traditional car companies but also ahead of Tesla itself.

Nio’s 70 kilowatt-hour battery and 100kwh battery packs make its cars capable of travelling up to 450 miles (724km) on a single charge, soothing “range anxiety”. The company claims to be close to producing packs of denser, solid-state batteries to replace the ubiquitous lithium-ion batteries and push ranges to more than 960km.

Then there is its innovative approach to recharging. It has rejected the hugely expensive motorway service station superfast chargers being put in by Tesla, which still take 20 minutes to re-fire its cars, and has opted instead for battery-swapping stations, which reduce the stop time to only five minutes.

Nio also is turning out cars with “Level 2” autonomous capability as standard, a level of driver assistance – automatic braking, acceleration, lane guidance – only a step before the machine takes over at the steering wheel.

In a recent report into the electric vehicle market, Jefferies, the stockbroker, cited range, connectivity, autonomous driving and charging solution as the unique selling propositions of Nio in an industry divided between legacy companies and the wannabes.

“Wannabes’ success may hinge on legacies’ inability to respond,” it concluded. That included the way to market. The legacy companies rely on outmoded dealership showroom networks. Nio is selling on the internet and is marketing through pop-up shopping centre “Nio spaces”.

The excitement around Nio is that it is coming soon to try to crack the European market, where electric adoption is accelerating. Tesla is proving that the new wave can succeed, delivering the best electric car sales in Britain, ahead of BMW, Nissan and Renault.

So the company’s prospects are immeasurably sunnier than they were last March, when, as Mr Anderson concedes, the company was in “severe danger”. A $1 billion rescue by the provincial Chinese government of Anhui, where the vehicles are manufactured, helped to put the company on a more solid footing. Even so, the valuation remains stratospheric by conventional measures.

Nio is lossmaking, recently reporting a $US154m net loss for the quarter to September, although this was down by 59 per cent from a year earlier and down by 11 per cent on the previous quarter.

Annualising that quarter’s sales puts Nio on a multiple of 36 times annual revenues. To put it more starkly, the company is valued at $US2.19m for each car it has produced in the past year.

The “buy” case is that the lesson of digitised, globalised, brand-driven capitalism is that a very small number of winners – Apple, Google and Netflix – grab all the cake. In carmaking, Nio, founded in 2014, might just be that winner in ten or twenty years’ time.

Nio, which buffs up its brand via its Formula E motor racing team, as well as clothing merchandise, brought out its latest model this week. The ET7 is a £60,000 car that goes from nought to 62mph (99.8km/h) in 3.9 seconds and has a claimed range of 435 miles (700km).

That puts it head-to-head with Tesla’s forthcoming Model S Plaid, as well as traditional marques, such as the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Nio, for now, is roaring ahead, whether or not investors look under the bonnet.

At the White House, the purge of skeptics has started with David Legates

President Donald Trump has been sympathetic with the climate skeptics’ position, which is that there is no climate crisis, and that all currently proposed solutions to the “crisis” are economically harmful to the U.S. specifically, and to humanity in general.

Today I have learned that Dr. David Legates, who had been brought to the Office of Science and Technology Policy to represent the skeptical position in the Trump Administration, has been fired by OSTP Director and Trump Science Advisor, Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier.

The event that likely precipitated this is the invitation by Dr. Legates for about a dozen of us to write brochures that we all had hoped would become part of the official records of the Trump White House. We produced those brochures (no funding was involved), and they were formatted and published by OSTP, but not placed on the WH website. My understanding is that David Legates followed protocols during this process.

So What Happened?

What follows is my opinion. I believe that Droegemeier (like many in the administration with hopes of maintaining a bureaucratic career in the new Biden Administration) has turned against the President for political purposes and professional gain. If Kelvin Droegemeier wishes to dispute this, let him… and let’s see who the new Science Advisor/OSTP Director is in the new (Biden) Administration.

I would also like to know if President Trump approved of his decision to fire Legates.

In the meantime, we have been told to remove links to the brochures, which is the prerogative of the OSTP Director since they have the White House seal on them.

But their content will live on elsewhere, as will Dr. Droegemeier’s decision.

Trump’s past Actions Should Slow Biden’s Radical Climate Agenda

Incoming President Joe Biden has promised to implement the most radical energy and climate agenda Americans have ever seen.

With the Democratic party having become an almost wholly owned subsidiary of the radical progressive environmental left while controlling both houses of Congress for at least the next two years and the White House for the next four years, Biden and his climate alarmist ilk have their best opportunity ever to impose the biggest government takeover of the economy since the Great Depression.

Fortunately, in the waning days of President Donald Trump’s term, his administration took a series of actions that will act as shock absorbers for the economic havoc Biden’s climate policies would wreak, complicating Biden’s attempt to impose a “Great Reset” to fight supposed climate change.

The Trump administration auctioned off oil and gas leases on public lands in Alaska (January) and California (December). These sales will complicate Biden’s ability to keep his promise of ending new oil and gas leases on federal land.

Although, to the federal government’s fiscal detriment, a Biden administration can refuse to offer more leases, it will be hard to prevent future production from leases the Trump administration recently approved, unless it can come up with the money to buy the leaseholders out of the leases. Federal regulatory agencies under Biden’s control can drag out the environmental review and permitting process, but as long as the companies comply with the relevant laws and guidelines, they should eventually be able to develop these lands.

Biden has vowed to take us back into the Paris climate agreement, from which Trump withdrew the United States, and he can do so. Yet, actions the Trump administration has adopted will make it harder to implement Paris-compliant regulations solely through executive action.

In December, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) determined current National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone and Particulate Matter (PM) were protective of public health. EPA also finalized a rule requiring comprehensive benefit-cost analyses (BCA) be carried out for all future rules implemented under the 1970 Clean Air Act (CAA).

The Obama administration justified most of its climate policies based on claims they would save thousands of lives and billions of dollars. Almost all the supposed benefits of the regulations, however, resulted from counting benefits of restrictions on pollutants such as PM and ozone as if they were new benefits from limiting nontoxic carbon dioxide emissions.

Other purported benefits of carbon-dioxide restrictions flowed from including benefits to people in foreign countries while limiting the cost calculations to those accruing within the borders of the United States.

Under the EPA’s recently finalized BCA rule, all new CAA rules must be accompanied by a BCA that must include a statement discussing any industry, group, or geographic region that will be disproportionately negatively impacted by the rule.

Each new CAA-related regulation must contain a plain-language explanation of what welfare and public health benefits EPA believes the rule will deliver and what costs it will impose. BCAs, under the new procedures, will distinguish between benefits flowing directly from the rule and “co-benefits” resulting from other CAA requirements, and they will separate domestic benefits from any benefits the rule produces for people in other countries, reporting both.

Because Trump’s EPA affirmed and locked in the current ozone and PM standards for the next five years, the Biden administration should find it exceedingly difficult to claim “new” co-benefits from tighter restrictions on these two pollutants from any proposed carbon-dioxide restrictions.

In addition, in early January, Trump’s EPA finalized a rule to improve the transparency and public scrutiny of the science used to justify regulations.

Under the final transparency regulation, the Biden administration will be required to be more transparent than any administration in history concerning the science used to justify new climate regulations. The rule establishes requirements for the independent peer review of pivotal science. In addition, when proposing a significant regulatory action, the agency now must clearly identify the research used to inform the rule, specifying which studies it relied upon for rule-making.

The rule also requires EPA to consider studies for which the underlying dose-response data are available for independent validation and public examination.

Each of the policies described here was in the works long before any votes were cast in the 2020 presidential election. As such, the rules were intended to further Trump’s efforts to promote American greatness and energy independence, not to thwart Joe Biden from implementing his climate agenda.

In fact, these rules by themselves cannot stop Biden from attempting to impose whatever climate policies he thinks he can get away with. What these policies do, however, is make Biden’s efforts more transparent. Maximum transparency and thorough publicly justified analyses are good policies to follow in a democratic republic, regardless of the president or the party in power.


My other blogs. Main ones below

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com TONGUE-TIED)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://john-ray.blogspot.com (FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC) Saturdays only

http://australian-politics.blogspot.com (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

https://heofen.blogspot.com/ (MY OTHER BLOGS)


No comments: