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It was the largest oil spill our nation had seen up until that point – a catastrophic blowout from an oil platform off of Santa Barbara in southern California that spread an 800 square-mile oil slick along a thirty mile coastline. Many of us alive today did not experience the tides of dead seals, dolphins and birds; those who did say the spill stripped them of their innocence and left them with indelible memories of crimes against nature.
Although the players and stage have changed since 1969, the overall story has not. We are faced with the same fundamental problem now as we were then: our dependence on fossil fuels and the risks associated with that dependence.
Today, California is exploring an energy option that is no more necessary than drilling offshore (or for that matter, drilling in national forests or the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge). The latest debate centers around increasing California’s natural gas supplies by importing liquefied natural gas, or LNG. The problem is, we don’t need more natural gas in California because renewable energy and energy efficiency can meet future energy demands.
LNG is natural gas that has been cooled to the point where it becomes a liquid, making it easier to transport. In California, three LNG import terminals are seeking permits, all in Southern California. One is planned for a site about fourteen miles offshore from Oxnard, by BHP Billiton, an Australian energy company. Another has been proposed for Platform Grace, a retired oil rig off Ventura’s coast, by Houston-based Crystal Energy. But the most worrisome is Mitsubishi and Chevron’s proposed plant in the Port of Long Beach – much closer to urban areas than the first two.
Anytime you concentrate a fuel and confine it in a small space, concerns about safety and environmental protection arise. Even without those concerns, however, I would argue this: these LNG terminals simply aren’t necessary.
The Community Environmental Council, a Santa Barbara-based non-profit, has completed a rigorous examination of natural gas supply and demand and has concluded that there are better, more viable alternatives. Essentially, if California lives up to its own state laws mandating that we get more of our electricity from renewable resources and energy efficiency, we do not need these terminals.
Let’s look at some numbers. Right now we need about 6.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day to heat our homes and run our power plants. The California Energy Commission – the state’s official word in this area – projects that by 2016, that number will rise to 6.6 billion cubic feet. So we need to find an additional 400 million cubic feet per day in the next decade.
Before we start asking how we’re going to meet that need, let’s look at what we need the natural gas for. In California, about half of our power plants use natural gas to generate electricity – which can be generated by other energy sources, such as wind and solar power, and the rest is used for heating, cooking and industry. Natural gas for electricity generation is the only area expected to grow appreciably. So instead of trying to find a source for 400 million cubic feet per day of natural gas in the next ten years, let’s instead look for its equivalent: about 43,000 gigawatt hours of electricity per year.
California law requires that twenty percent of our electricity come from renewable resources by 2010, about 55,000 gigawatt hours per year – more than enough to meet the 43,000 gigawatt hours we’re looking for. (And the amount from renewables will probably be higher, as the state is considering advancing its goal so that thirty-three percent of all electricity would be produced by renewables by 2020.)
But that’s not all. We haven’t even yet asked whether we could reduce demand through conservation and more efficient technology. California’s investor-owned utilities recently received $2 billion in state funding to achieve $5 billion in energy efficiency savings, equivalent to more than 10,000 gigawatt hours a year through 2008. The state also has set an achievable goal of saving 23,000 gigawatt hours per year by 2013.
Under these existing mandates, we will more than offset future energy demand just by following the path that the state and the utilities already have in place. Even if you wanted to hedge your bets, there are sixteen new LNG import terminals already approved by regulators elsewhere in the U.S. and Baja California, as well as plans for gas pipelines from Canada and Alaska – all of which could funnel more natural gas our way if needed.
While natural gas is certainly cleaner and a preferable choice over oil or coal, let us not forget this it is still a non-renewable source of energy and a potentially explosive fuel. It is our belief that opting for LNG may divert attention from renewable energy and energy efficiency - the far more preferable alternatives. Let’s hope that policymakers at the local, state and federal levels give more thought to the necessity of constructing off-shore LNG terminals than they did the construction of oil rigs off our coast.
As we pass the anniversary of the January 28 oil spill, we should be asking ourselves: how long do we want to stay beholden to these dinosaur fuels?
For information on purchasing reprints of this article, contact sales. Copyright 2013 CyberTech, Inc.
I fully concur with the author that LNG imports are a bad idea, and that the increasing use of gas for power generation is the primary culprit. Importing large amounts of gas, primarily from the Middle East (even Russia, perhaps), just so we can use it in large, centralized, baseload power plants is impossible to justify.
Becoming highly dependent on these unstable regions for gas, just like we are for oil now, will greatly harm the US geopolitical position, as well as its balance of trade. It will make resource wars (e.g., Iraq) much more likely. Gas baseload plants also make no sense from a resource management point of view, in that they consume large amounts of a precious, limited resource, for a task that can easily be performed using several fuels/sources that are domestic, and much more abundant. California, with it's defacto "all gas" policy, has one of the most irresponsible energy policies in the nation.
All that said, if the author (and his ilk) wan't to be taken seriously, they have to show a little more willingness to compromise. One of the most irresponsible things that "environmentalists" have done, and continue to do, is spread the dishonest mantra that conservation and renewables alone can meet all of our future energy needs. No serious energy expert has ever believed this. As they contunue to beat this drum, w/o any hint of compromise, most people have stopped even listening to them, as they don't offer any real solutions. The fact is, if we limit our alternative options to conservation and renewables only, the use of gas for power generation in California WILL continue to increase, making LNG necessary.
Our primary goals should be to greatly reduce the use of gas for baseload power generation (for the reasons given above), and to greatly reduce the use of conventional (non-IGCC) coal, due to its unacceptable environmental and health costs. If we are to have any chance of doing this, we are going to need a much larger tent. Due to their intermittantcy, renewables can not do the job alone. Not even close. There seems to be a growing concensus (among those capable of compromise) that a combination of clean (IGCC) coal, nuclear, and renewables, as well as conservation, is going to be required to get the job done.
Edward Reid, Jr. 2.3.06
Unfortunately, the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution requires the rest of us to share the results of California's folly. California's combination of a very low conventional generating capacity reserve margin and its aggressive renewable portfolio standard means we will likely not have to wait long to view the results.
Full scale experiments, while very costly, are nevertheless extremely convincing.
Charles Petterson 2.3.06
The author claims
"In California, about half of our power plants use natural gas to generate electricity – which can be generated by other energy sources, such as wind and solar power, .... "
You can? Than why is it that you are NOT doing this? I have seen the same statement, or similar claims, for thirty years. Yet, the reality is that the folks in California can not find it in their interest to actually generate electricity in any significant amount, by these methods. None of these methods have provided enough capacity to accomodate the GROWTH of the power needs of the state, let alone REPLACE any thermal generation capacity.
I don't understand why this is. California, by their own admission, has the brightest, most beautiful, nost creative perople in the world. Yet, all they create is dreams, wishes, fantasies when it comes to generating power.
Go ahead . Protest to your hearts content. Keep offering up fanciful solutions. Such proposals serve you well.
chuck petterson persia
Len Gould 2.3.06
"California’s investor-owned utilities recently received $2 billion in state funding to achieve $5 billion in energy efficiency savings"
How much more will you need to "pay" the incumbents to achieve these goal of eliminating natural gas? From here it looks like a very lucrative flim-flam game they've got going with you. I'd suggest extreme caution in listening to any further proposals of this sort.
Len Gould 2.3.06
A question to the author, and/or anyone else: How might I access any web-available documentation of the methodology used to determine the amount of savings achieved by any specific utility-funded energy efficiency projects?
I note in Recommendation #5 of the ACEEE (American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy) report at http://www.aceee.org/conf/03ee/Kushler-7w.pdf the wording
"The traditional structure for the evaluation of utility energy efficiency programs should be maintained, including ......... (4) an open process, with full public access to all reports"
They then require a $13.00 fee to download any of their reports.
What I'm particularly interested in is "How to the program decision-makers avoid the liklyhood of design engineers designing new projects with an object of benefiting from this sort of program?" The ways to do so are endless, such as building a new manufacturing facility with all cheap inefficient electric motors to start, then having the efficiency program pay to replace those motors with new and costly high-efficiency motors while moving the nearly-new low-effic. motors onto phase 2 of the project. DO and repeat, while taxpayers foot the bill.
An interesting problem in economics and incentive.
Tam Hunt 2.6.06
James Hopf: I don't think you read the piece carefully enough. I state that renewables and energy efficiency can (under existing state mandates!) meet the additional natural gas demand projected by the state's energy agencies. I did not state that renewables and energy efficiency can replace all electricity generation.
I will, however, state now that I do indeed believe renewables and energy efficiency can replace all of our electricity generation in California - AND all of our natural gas needs (for non-electricity generation purposes) AND all of our transportation fuel needs. Indeed, this is our regional goal with our Fossil Free By '33 program (www.fossilfreeby33.org).
If you'd like extensive documentation, and real world examples, to back up this admittedly non-mainstream claim, I welcome further dialogue. You can email me directly at email@example.com.
Tam Hunt 2.6.06
Len Gould: I have many documents on this issue, and can show you how to access these documents online for free. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tam Hunt 2.6.06
Len Gould: you question the wisdom of paying the utilities to achieve energy efficiency goals. Here's the rationale: the cost of creating "new generation" through energy efficiency and demand response programs is much cheaper than actually building new plants. Official state policy supports energy efficiency, demand response, and renewable electricity as the first three items in the state's loading order (the preferred sources of electricity). Accordingly, the state was willling to pay $2 billion (paid for with ratepayer funds to the tune of about $19 per year for each resident of California) to incentivize the utilities to invest seriously in these programs instead of building less cost-effective forms of new generation - which would then get passed on to the ratepayers as higher utility bills. It's a win win win situation and is eminently reasonable.
Tam Hunt 2.6.06
Charles Patterson: You raise a good point about earlier claims by renewables advocates. I wasn't around during the first round of interest in renewables, back in the 70s and 80s, but I can tell you this: the intervening 20 years has brought us light years closer to prime time. In California, fully 11% of our electricity comes from renewable sources (5% from geothermal being the single largest source of renewables), which is not insignificant. State law requires 20% by 2010. That's not insignificant. And the Governor is calling for 33% by 2020, which is most definitely not insignificant. Wind power is growing bey leaps and bounds, as is solar power (concentrating solar being the most promising for utility-scale generation). When ocean power technologies mature over the next decade, we expect to see a large amount of power from this area.
California is not already producing 33% renewable electricity b/c of many reasons, some of which are admittedly technological and economic in nature. These barriers have largely been overcome now and it's simply a matter of time before the political and industry barriers to a large increase in renewable generation takes us to the existing state goals, and hopefully much further.
Len Gould 2.6.06
Tam: Every possible efficiency saving possible through subsidy would also be available through intelligent nd constantly communicating TOU metering which also charged customers real prices according to market conditions on an hourly basis. California could replace all 10 million existing meters for perhaps $6 billion one-time cost. The meters would also be smart enough to use the premesis wiring system to control non-critical loads via powerline carrier signals, provide full AMR and TOU metering for electric, gas and water and communicate intelligently with larger customer's local energy management systems.
A far smarter use of limited resources (capital)
William Quapp 2.7.06
I believe that California does not need LNG but does need more solutions than the so-called "renewables". I agree with others that becoming dependent on imported sources of LNG is bad social policy. It is time we stop trading the lives of our military for energy supplies.
I am also opposed to the misguided use of natural gas for baseload electric power as are others commenting on this column. It is a thermodynamically wasteful use of fuel. In domestic heating or in chemical processes, 90% of the natural gas energy is extracted for beneficial use. In gas turbines, it is less than half of that value. This wasteful use of natural gas for baseload electric power is the reason that domestic heating users have seen a threefold increase in gas rates over the last 3 to 4 years! It is also the reason many chemical companies depending on natural gas for their feedstock have moved their manufacturing to other countries. Thus, the misguided use of natural gas has caused the heating bills to increase while jobs disappear! Logical? No.
I make note that "renewables" as discussed by Mr. Hunt have an interesting attribute. The solar renewable source operates about 50% of the time under the best of sunny conditions. The other half of the time it is dark. Maybe renewable is a synonym for "restartable" since solar power systems must be restarted on a daily basis. Note also that the land use to generate power from solar renewables will not be from land around Santa Barbara where Tam Hunt lives, it will be from eastern California deserts where smaller populations of people with less political power live. Is this NIMBY or what?
The other renewable energy he discusses, wind, also has interesting attributes. A couple of weeks ago, I drove the I10 interstate from the Ontario, CA airport to Palm Springs. Between these points is a mountain pass where the largest installation of wind machines I have ever seen is located. The fields of machines stretch for miles along the interstate and on mountain ridges within sight of the interstate. There must be several thousand machines. During this drive, the wind was blowing particularly aggressively from the east, enough so, that it was the subject of the local news every time I bothered to listen. Nevertheless, a large number of the wind machines sat motionless! Thus, better performance reliability is clearly needed.
Now to further observe, that since no one controls the wind, this renewable energy source is also not dependable. During hot summer days when air conditioning is badly needed in inland California communities, often the wind does not blow. So where does the power come from then? Natural gas turbines with the adverse social and economic effects illustrated above.
Mr. Hunt needs to face the reality that in this country, either everyone moves to Santa Barbara and similar coastal communities where the effects of winter and summer extremes are damped, or we go to more conventional and RELIABLE sources for generating electric power that do not depend on imported energy supplies. Jim Hopf made the right suggestions for satisfying this reliability need.
There is one renewable source of energy that California can use but many of the environmental extremists groups oppose it. That is waste. The municipal solid waste (trash) generated in California could be converted into electricity or hydrogen using gasification technologies. According to a California Integrated Waste Management Board 2004 report, about 40 million tons/year of waste are generated in the state. Most of this ends up in landfills where greenhouse gas generation and groundwater pollution are known outcomes. If this waste is processed in a gasification process, the gross power available is in the range of 42,000 gigawatt hours. So, the natural gas shortfall can be largely made up using gasification technologies to process the waste resource now being wasted. And, lest I not address the subject, this process can operated with minimal air emissions -- contrary to what the ill-informed anti-everything community generally claims.
So California does have indigenous energy options, it just needs to use the intellectual power of the state to implement those solutions instead of always advancing the NIMBY responses to energy options.
Randy Park 2.7.06
One key aspect which has not been raised - the assumption that if natural gas use doesn't increase, supply will be okay. But many observers believe North American natural gas production is in decline. So LNG will be needed to replace existing consumption, even before new consumption is added. Randy Park www.EnergyPredicament.com
Edward Reid, Jr. 2.8.06
If the federal and state governments restrict access to even more of our natural gas resource base, gas production could decline even more rapidly.
Tam Hunt 2.8.06
Len Gould: re your comments on TOU metering, the CPUC is currently examining the results of PG&E's apparently successful pilot project with 2,500 customers. It's likely the PUC will allow PG&E to spend billions on these new meters, which I agree is a very good bang for the buck.
However, your assertion that all possible energy efficiency measures could be obtained simply through advanced metering is incorrect. There are many additional measures, such as demand response (shutting off power to volunteer customers during high summer peak demand, for one example), educational programs, retrofits for insulation, etc., that will not be impacted directly by advanced meters.
Tam Hunt 2.8.06
William Quapp: you make two main points: 1) solar and wind are intermittent; 2) it's unlikely we'd build serious renewables in our neck of the woods.
1) Solar intermittency is readily soluble with CSP technologies. Solar Two (not operating anymore) used a molten salt storage system that allowed it to operate continuously for a week, day and night. The still operating SEGS by Barstow have natural gas backup generators, which produce about 10% of their power, allowing full dispatchability to Edison, the purchaser. For wind, geographic dispersion acts as a natural balancer and other solutions such as pumped hydro storage, compressed air energy storage, and hydrogen storage are either being done already or are being perfected.
2) We are in fact propsing construction of many GW of renewable capacity in our region b/c a large part of our program is to create a sustainable local economy. If we outsource to the desert for our power needs, we're not localized. We'll certainly have some opposition, but we hope the magnitude of our problems stemming from our existing power mix will help convince others that we need to get serious about own backyard.
Tam Hunt 2.8.06
Randy Park: the CA Energy Commission projects that domestic US NG production will in fact increase, while Canada's NG exports to the US will decrease over the next decade or so. The increases in US production far outweigh the decrease in imports under current projections. Moreover, there are numerous LNG plants already in North America and many more either being constructed or already permitted. We don't support these developments, but we acknowledge the impact these other LNG terminals willl have on our own NG supplies.
James Hopf 2.8.06
Nobody said that renewables couldn't provide more than, say, ~15-20% of our overall energy. It's just that it would be prohibitively expensive (storing energy on large scale, that is).
The great majority of experts don't see renewables making up more than a small percentage of the INCREASE in power demand (which is what I had said earlier, just to be clear). Instead, what we see is converntional (dirty, non-IGCC) coal making up the great majority of new generation. Given how things are going, it is the height of hubris to proclaim that renewables can do it all, and that good but not perfect options like clean (IGCC) coal and nuclear should not be built. Keep in mind that wind and solar only account for a fraction of one percent of US generation. With this little accomplished so far, you do not bet the farm on these sources completely and miraculously succeeding. You do give them ample support, however.
Even the American Wind Power Association understands the limitation on wind's overall potential, due to the intermittantcy issue. Their optimistic goal (i.e., wish list) is for wind to eventually provide ~15% of our power (perhaps by ~2020, or later). Even if this optimistic goal is achieved, it will be more than offset by the increase in demand.
Despite our differences about predictions of wind's potential and future economics, we may be able to agree on policy. The main policy failure nowadays is that external costs for fossil fuels are not considered in their price (and they are held to much lower standards in terms of allowable public health risk). There is also no disincentive for using energy from unstable foreign sources. I think we should do the following, and Tam may agree:
1. US LNG terminals should be blocked. If one really believes that unavoidable, non-power gas needs makes them necessary anyway, then they should be allowed only in conjunction with reinstatement of the Fuel Use Act (banning the use of gas for baseload power plants).
2. Either IGCC should be required for all new coal plants, or there should be regulations requiring dramatic reductions in pollution (or massive pollution taxes to reflect coal's external costs).
3. CO2 emissions should be capped or taxed, such that they will steadily and significantly decrease over the next few decades.
After all, the issues addressed by the policies above are the REAL issues. Once policies are in place to reflect these issues (like the ones above) the market should be left to decide how best to proceed. If renewables are as capable and economical as Tam suggests, then he should have nothing to fear, as they will win the overwhelming majority of market share. Why wouldn't a utility choose renewables? It's by far the most popular choice.
The one thing we don't need is for other legitimate sources like clean coal or nuclear being politically stonewalled (i.e., not being given the chance to compete) by a public that has been convinced by snake oil salesmen that they are unnecessary because renewables will be able to (economically) provide everything.
Johnny Williams 2.9.06
Tam Hunt: The answer is staring you in the face and has been for many years. It is called nuclear power. I saw no mention of it in your "vision for California".
I have observed the promises of the environmentalist systematically fail to deliver for over 35 years. The anti-nukes have used every scare tactic in the book to prevent the building of new plants.
The "waste issue" is really a non-issue.
With fuel reprocessing and use of mixed oxide fuel - the total waste produced by all operating plants could be stored on a single football size field - and the waste would be no more radioactive than the original ore after a period of around 900 years.
As far as the need to drill off-shore - until the automobile is eliminated - the US has but two choices: Drill for domestic supplies or continue to get our oil from from imports.
Tam Hunt 2.9.06
James Hopf: I do indeed agree with your suggested policy solutions. California is in the process of implementing numbers 2 and 3, and we are now trying to convince them to implement number 1. That is, the CPUC recently announced, in a resolution, it's intention to use an "environmental adder" when evaluating procurement bids. The coal industry has interpreted this as a de facto moratorium on coal b/c most companies believe IGCC, with carbon sequestration, as the resolution calls for, is simply too expensive to compete. The PUC directed staff to investigate such a mechanism, so it's not a done deal yet, but likely to be implemented. The same resolution state's the PUC's intent to establish an "offset system" for GHG emissions, which may end up as some kind of cap and trade system.
One concern, however, of a carbon focused energy procurement system is the potential for nuclear power to squeak in. Some scholars believe nuclear power, when the full mining to production cycle is considered, produces 20-40% of the emissions of a modern natural gas plant, and with lower grade ores up to 100%. Even if they're wrong in their analysis, the nuclear waste and terrorism concerns surrounding nuclear power make it highly unattractive as a power source. I would also note that the Palo Verde plant, the US's largest nuke, at 4 GW, has been very unreliable the last two years, shutting down numerous times for up to a week.
As for the potential of renewables, in general, to meet significant amounts of US demand, time will tell. Cellulosic ethanol, plug-in hybrids, wind power, biomass, (concentrating) solar, and ocean power, have tremendous potential. Check out the Western Governors Association website for a number of reports on the potential of these sources in the western states.
Bruce Gerhold 2.10.06
Your article focused on California needs for natural gas. However, California remains a state in the United States and the nation as a whole needs added energy sources like LNG.
California has enjoyed domestically produced gas from other states, Alaska oil and now the time has arrived for California to contribute to the national interest. Assessing the need for LNG terminals based ONLY on California needs appears selfish and screams "not in my back yard". This is particularly true considering LNG is a very clean fuel that cannot foul beaches.
Safety is an issue, but even Boston sees fit to import LNG and they accomodate the ship traffic in a safe manner.
California can develop all the renewables possible, but California also needs to re-join the United States.
James Hopf 2.11.06
Does the PUC's procurement system apply only to coal plants built in CA, or does it also apply to coal plants built in nearby states that would supply CA? Recently, this "loophole" has been exploited alot, with no coal plants existing in CA, but CA importing a lot of its power from coal plants in other Western states.
To be brief, I'm ready to believe that CA's current (and near future) policies may effectively remove coal from consideration, but I'm not inclined to believe it will do anything to halt the growth (let alone decrease) in CA gas use for power generation. Hence the push for LNG. You'd think that a limit on power sector CO2 emissions (which is being discussed) would effectively require a reduction in gas use, given that CA already doesn't use coal. All I can say is, if such a policy truly would require such a reduction, it will be dropped, or circumvented somehow, because I don't see CA taking the steps necessary to actually reduce power-sector gas use (build nukes, that is) anytime soon.
Concerning nuclear, your statement on how "letting nuclear squeak in" would constitute a problem with an otherwise rational policy is the very type of prejudiced thinking that makes it so important to have objective, merit-based policies (like the ones I gave above), as opposed to politically/popularity-based policies like renewable portfolio standards. I, for the life of me, can't understand how an ample, long-term, reliable, domestic energy source that has never had any measurable impact on public health or the environment could be considered "undesireable".
Even considering all the issues you mentioned, there has been complete scientific consensus for some time now that the overall external costs (i.e., public health and environmental risks/costs) of nuclear power are negligible compared to those of fossil fuels (especially coal and oil). The most recent, and rigorous scientific estimates of external costs for various energy sources (expressed as a monetary cost, per kW-hr) shows nuclear's external costs to be ~0.25-0.5 cents/kW-hr, compared to over 1 cent/kW-hr for gas and ~3-8 cents/kW-hr for coal and oil (for most nations). External costs for biomass were higher than nuclear. Solar was similar (slightly lower) and wind was lower. A summary of this study are shown on page 37 of:
In terms of nuclear's CO2 emissions, the agenda-driven "studies" you reference don't have an ounce of credibility. The great majority of reputable studies show that the entire nuclear power production process have very small net CO2 emissions, about ~2% that of coal, or ~5% that of gas. One such study is at:
And besides, if the nuclear production process had significant net CO2 emissions, what should yuo be afraid of. Any system that limits or taxes CO2 emissions would (theoretically) increase the costs of nuclear fuel production or plant construction (or whatever) and it would show up in nuclear's power price anyway. That's the thing about these elegant, merit-based policies..... And yet, I've never spoken to a nuclea advocate who was at all afraid of this "potential issue". Co2 limits were never viewed as anything but a boon.
One final thing, concerning reliability. Nuclear power plants have a capacity factor of ~90%, the highest of any type of power generation. No issue there. Renewables, on the other hand, are the least reliable. How can you raise this as an argument against nuclear and for renewables??!!
Graham Cowan 2.11.06
LNG will be coming to California. With enemies like Hunt, it doesn't need friends ... although certainly it will have them, for natural gas is heavily taxed. Lots in there for community councils, if that's what they're calling them now-a-days.
I'm sorry. But your article is so far off base I can only respond with the admonition "Get Real". You forgot to ask the people of California if they will put up with all the changes you propose, and you brush off the economic considerations as though they are not important. You also ignore another reality: when there are fuel shortages, the Feds will open up every possible source of natural gas and oil. The Santa Barbra channel will be festooned with rigs, Californians will be screaming for LNG, and organizations like yours and the Sierra Club will take a detrimental PR hit. The California 2005 Integrated Energy Policy Report, published by the California Energy Commission, sharply disagrees with your assessment of California's energy needs and challenges. To quote: from the Executive Summary – "California is the sixth largest economy in the world. To meet the needs of its growing population, California's economy depends upon affordable, reliable, and environmentally sound supplies of electricity, natural gas, and transportation fuels. The challenge for California's policy makers is to manage an energy sector that is increasingly dependent on oil and natural gas and may face spiraling energy prices, potential supply shortages, and an inadequate and aging energy delivery infrastructure. …. With world oil prices topping $70 per barrel, it is unlikely that gasoline consumers will see any meaningful relief in the near future. Electricity rates, although not as erratic as they were during the state's 2000-2001 energy crisis, are still among the highest in the nation, ….. California depends upon natural gas to generate about half of its electricity, so natural gas prices that have more than doubled since 2000 are likely to keep electricity rates high. Energy demand in all sectors will continue to rise with California's rapidly growing population and strengthening business sector. Weather-adjusted electricity consumption in California increased an average of 2 percent over each of the last two years, and continues to rise. Meanwhile, state demand for transportation fuels has increased 48 percent over the last 20 years and continues to grow at an alarming rate despite record high gasoline and diesel prices. … Despite improvements in power plant licensing, enormously successful energy efficiency programs, and continued technological advances, development of new energy supplies is not keeping pace with the state's increasing demand. Construction of new power plants has lagged and the number of new plant permit applications has decreased. In addition, the development of new renewable resources has been slower than anticipated, due in part to the state's complex and cumbersome Renewable Portfolio Standard process. In the transportation sector, California's refineries cannot keep up with the mounting need for petroleum fuels and consequently depend upon increasing levels of imports to meet the state's needs. California also imports 87 percent of its natural gas supplies, which are increasingly threatened by declining production in most U.S. supply basins and growing demand in neighboring states. California's energy infrastructure may be unable to meet the state's energy delivery needs in the near future. …. The systematic under-investment in transmission infrastructure is reducing system reliability and increasing operational costs. …. California's petroleum import and refinery infrastructure also faces challenges including the inherent conflict between the need to expand import, refining, and storage facilities to meet transportation fuel demands and the environmental and social concerns of local communities affected by these needed expansions. In the natural gas sector, California has made infrastructure improvements that will increase the reliability and operational flexibility of the natural gas system, but must still address the need for additional pipeline capacity to meet peak demand. … The state must …. take immediate action to address problems in the energy sector to meet the state's policy goal of ensuring adequate, affordable, reliable, and environmentally-sound energy services for its citizens."
Although the report mentions possible energy shortages, the word "depletion" does not appear anywhere in the Executive Summary. Was that omission deliberate? Was it done because due consideration for the issues of depletion would force a substantial change in environmentalist theology? Does that mean California's liberal legislature continues to base its energy policy on a politically correct, but totally unrealistic, assessment of the real world? May I suggest you read the essays on Martis Valley, Energy and Government Energy Policy at www.tce.name, and then follow the WEB site links for additional perspectives on what is happening in the real world. You should also buy my book "Oil, Jihad and Destiny" for an economist's view of depletion. Then, when you understand the challenges that lie ahead,
Len Gould 2.13.06
Also depressing for anyone honestly concerned with GHG emissions to see an article in "ReFocus" magazine, the bible of the renewables religion, touting the breakthrough possibility that France will in future switch from building nuclear generation to building wind generation, "France is slowly catching up with the rest of Europe".
NB: The article also stresses how important in this process is "liberalization of the energy markets in France", because no private company could afford the risk of building new reactors in France, and therefore will instead build crowds of small wind generation "as in Spain".
What a joke. And the Lord Said "Let there be no nuclear, LNG or IGCC coal." and the installers and sellers of photocells and wind turbines were exceedingly pleased.
Dale Nesbitt 2.13.06
If a government subsidizes something, I always hope it is someone else’s government doing it and not mine. If a government restricts something, I always hope it is someone else's government doing it and not mine. What sort of elitism is it that convinces California barristers that they alone have the omniscience to see through the “economic murk” to discern which subsidies or restrictions are needed and in what magnitude? Who more so than California can boast such an abysmal track record of government intervention into the energy system? They write books about that, and this article would pen yet another dismal chapter of shortages, high prices, perhaps rationing, price caps to control spiraling prices, increasing reliance on contiguous states, business emigration, etc. to deal with policy-induced shortages. Been there, done that. De facto restrictions against nuclear have caused economic and environmental havoc.
The notion in the paper that “concentration of Btu’s” is problematic on its face is abjectly preposterous. I would wager that Mr. Hunt drives an automobile (or would recognize a photo of one at a single glance). In the fuel tank of that automobile, there is a sufficient number of Btus to levitate that automoble many feet into the sky. Right in Mr. Hunt’s own gasoline tank is a more concentrated Btu source than LNG. If highly concentrated Btus per unit volume were a problem, Mr. Hunt would be petrified to use nuclear fuel, gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, electricity, and coal, all of which are more concentrated than LNG. Mr. Hunt is diametrically wrong; concentrated Btu's are low cost Btus because there are huge economies of scale from such concentration.
Todd McKissick 2.14.06
Why is it that there is such a mentality on all sides that their solution is the only one? The only option available that will actually happen given the way a capicalistic society works, is a mix of all sources. Period. Naysayers of any source seem to justify themselves by saying things like "those widgets can't possibly supply all our energy needs". What purpose does that serve? If intelligent conversations can't be held in forums such as this, then how can we complain that the policy makers won't choose real world options? My humble opinion personally thinks that given enough money/acceptance/support, pretty much any source could supply all our needs. (picture every non-airport square acre in the country covered with double & tripple decker wind turbines. OUCH ...but you get my point) The problem is in deciding what we are willing to pay in respect to those costs to achieve the goal. This is a money driven market and only parts of it are swayed by policy. With price competition such as it is, the correct mix will eventually be installed. I think it very easily do-able for renewables to cover the increase in total energy use drawing near. It's even possible, given the support they now command to surpass that amount. What are the naysayers' comments going to be when that level has been reached and no longer requires fossil fuels with all their issues?
I personally think that we should not import LNG, but I find it a necessary evil for the short term. I really hate upgrading an infrastructure (NG) that will be eventually torn down at some level. Too many people think that it's good policy to simply use up one resource until it's too expensive (peak oil worries) and move on to deplete another (NG). Haven't we learned anything from doing that? How high do NG prices have to get to before we switch to clean coal. Then what's next? I believe, instead, in moderation and mixing. What's wrong with a steady increase in renewables with each weighted according to their total benefits (market driven). During this time maintain the status quo with an economically safe slant towards cleaner, safer & more efficient generation in the hopes of renewables & conservation consistantly taking over increasing sized chunks. Yes, I'm being vague in percentages here, because they don't matter as much as just maximizing progress toward the goal. If that goal is not coming fast enough, then nuclear should be used to make up the difference. The problems with nuclear are most definitely NOT a non-issue. The public may not like it because of only incorrect quoted statistics, but the fact remains that they are, like everything else, ran by humans. TMI was more of an accident because of egos hiding problems in the beginnings of an event. When the pressure of "the future of all nukes" rides on a safety record, as it will, how will that affect a similar scenerio. Let's all face up to the fact that nuclear is not the perfect solution that some say. It is, however, our best one on a purely technical basis right now.
To those that say efficiency/conservation & renewables can't provide a very high portion of our needs, I can say that I've ran across an incredible amount of new technologies recently that show promise. So many in fact, that space doesn't even allow me to list the categories, let alone the individuals. Some are geared to small utility or plant scale while others are for residential. Some will work, others will not. Some have expensive storage (as electricity) while others have extremely cheap (solar thermal) potential. And just like anything else, you can make anything as reliable as you want to pay for and unlike the 70's, we now have all the conditions ripe for their advance. When each of these becomes commercially available AND cost beneficial, consumers will shift to demanding them. To see how that could grow, just think of some other consumer product of comparable gain/cost. How fast is any given Hybrid auto line ramping up? Project that across a couple dozen residential renewable products and see what you get. ...even if they only save a couple hundred kWh/month each. Of the ones I regularly follow, their problem is not as much technical or usually even cost competitiveness, but rather perception and investor issues. but I've ranted in that direction too often.
I think it is the 'height of hubris' to judge the future of renewables or any form of power, as not worth betting on based on current capacity. Maybe a better comparison would be to project their growth year-over-year and figure that as a percentage of the mix. Any industry in it's infancy would fail the prior comparison. :( What percentage does clean coal now produce? As optimistic as I am, my '05 predictions were surprisingly underestimated.
I commend Mr. Hunt on his article and optimism and effort. I think that all we can do is change public perception to provide more support (investment & policy) for ou
Todd McKissick 2.14.06
(cont) I commend Mr. Hunt on his article and optimism and effort. I think that all we can do is change public perception to provide more support (investment & policy) for our longest term goals. Any other goals are short term necessary evils and will happen regardless of what we do. How about a little more "What would it realistically take for X to make it in the market?"
Joseph Somsel 2.14.06
As a Californian engaged in our state's energy markets and politics for 30 years, I can only note with forlorn that Mr. Hunt's views are widely given lip service by too many of the state's opinion leaders and political elite.
On the hopeful side, most everyday Californians are much more clear-eyed and reasonable about our energy issues. Even aging hippies in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury neighborhood are reportedly open to more nuclear power.
This conflict between public political correctness about energy and voter realism makes the state's politics "metastable." When the reality becomes undeniable, as in did in 2001, visible and accountable advocates of positions like Mr. Hunt's will suffer the political backlash. I have little hope that our leadership will have the foresight and courage to prevent the inevitiable crisis that these daydreams will produce.
I share the misgivings about building LNG terminals and our becoming increasing dependent on overseas energy supplies but I recognize that in the intermediate term (5 to 20 years) the state will need them. I think that represents mainstream, if still silent, public opinion in the state of California.
Mr. Hunt's positions are increasingly considered unworkable and ill-conceived.
"You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all the people all the time." Abraham Lincoln.
Len Gould 2.14.06
Despite my distaste for the "religion of renewables" advocates who prefer to immediately and arbitrarily ban all energy sources but their "chosen one", I do agree with those like Todd M who advocate strong financial support for a selection of energy sources which a) can serve to achieve a social goal such as reducing dependence on unstable imports, begin the transition from fossil. b) show evidence of a potential to become market viable without subsidy in a fairly near term. c) prove thenselves with honest measurement system, which many "efficiency" programs fail to do.
I would prefer if this were do-able with an accurate "Externalities Levy" rather than a subsidy, but realize that powerful entrenched interests will never allow that so am resigned to the subsidy approach.
Graham Cowan 2.14.06
Somsel and others should consider the possibility Hunt's apparent opposition to LNG is not real. He says it is potentially explosive, as if it had no history of actually blowing up, and also "the nuclear waste and terrorism concerns surrounding nuclear power make it highly unattractive as a power source", as if someone at some time in history had been harmed by either nuclear waste or terrorism involving nuclear facilities. This sort of bias is symptomatic of fossil fuel interest.
Graham, I just read that as being written more in a passive voice so as to not solicit getting jumped on for making the statements more bold. Then again, maybe you're secretly supporting Hydrogen under a cloak.
I do read into his writing a little acceptance that LNG might need to be used in smaller doses. He mentions two port's issues but states the third one is significantly worse due to it's location. It's almost like saying, "if you have to, then just don't use the third location."
Somsel really makes me wonder what act of God it would take for his kind to accept a totally clean and cheap renewable energy source as an equal. Would they agree it's better than nukes only after we've flipped off the last fossil fuel / nuclear plant? I especially got a chuckle out of unsubstantiated "reports" of aged San Francisco based hippies being "open" to nuclear. How much? Were they given a the facts or a choice? Who reported this? Who cared enough to take notes? Very significant indeed coming from a group stating incorrect or a lack of facts to base a decision on. Exactly where is the line that we need to cross for them to stop attributing the renewable movement as being agenda/political driven and related to 'fooling some of the people'? It has gotten so tiresome, that it has nearly convinced me to stop reading the instant I see any nuclear support. ....regardless of the author. How many others out there also turn off the nuke talk? Talk about beating the drum.
"You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all the people all the time." Abraham Lincoln.
Joseph Somsel 2.14.06
As to accepting "totally clean and cheap renewable energy source as an equal," I can only say, you got one? Pray tell, show us. I would add that it needs reliablity equal to the demands of a modern electric supply system and a competitive price. What we've seen so far is clearly wanting and claims to the contrary are flat out lies.
The problem is that of "moral free riders." Mr. Hunt, Mr. McKissick and the like can advocate the nonsensical, the unproven, and the uneconomical because they are personally not accountable. If wrong, they pay no priice for the follies they advocate. They seem to delight in wasting other peoples' money to purchase their own delusionary sense of moral and intellectual superiority.
For those of us to whom the public looks to deliver affordable electricity 365/24, the problem is one of high gravity and personal responsibility. When I worked for the local utility, the neighbors repeatedly asked ME why the lights went out or why their bills were so high.
Five or ten years from now, are people going to ask Mr. Hunt why their homes are cold, their houses dark, and their jobs shuttered? He'll be long gone to the next pipe dream, the next "cause de jure." I'll stop advocating nuclear power when I'm assured that my grandchildren will have enough power to live prosperous, healthy lives.
As to the source of the opinions of San Francisco residents, a close relative was a candidate for supervisor in San Francisco in the last election and had extensive contact with voters in his district which included the Haight-Ashbury. When he discussed energy problems with his fellow citizens in private and at public forums, he was shocked and surprised at the broad interest in new nuclear power, even amongst those one would at first glance would assume to be anti-nuclear, ie aging hippies. It was not unanimous and seldom enthusiatic, of course. He was not pushing nuclear, either. Political aspirants work hard at understanding the views of their constituants. His experiences mirror mine in other parts of the state and those polls taken by NEI.
I'll stand by my assessment of the metastable nature of the issue in this state.
Of the specific LNG terminals proposed in this state, the one in Long Beach Harbor does not appear to be a wise location. The one using the old oil platform off Malibu is much more sensible and should be pursued.
Todd McKissick 2.14.06
I just love how easy it is for some to say show it and then I'll believe it. Also humorous is how renewables have to adhere to the perfect standards that the fossil fuel sources do. Well, there are a couple problems with that. First off is the fact that no fossil fuels are held to their total costs today. They either strip land, use vast external resources, polute, endanger, leave unaccounted for waste or they put unnecessary and unwanted strains on our economy. For example maybe all the issues above should be included in a comparison between say the SEGS solar thermal plants and the fossil fuel plant of your choosing, Mr. Somsel. Just how much was spent in dollars alone on the Iraq war? Can you honestly tell me that Katrina's result wouldn't have been much worse had we been short Iraq's contribution to the world oil supply? If your answer is yes, then I submit that to be a 'flat out lie'. So that makes the war justified, but not right. More like a tragic necessary evil result of our addiction. How many of these externalties have the SEGS plants cost us? How many lives have been lost? Those plants were designed for day and night operation as per your request and 2 decades ago they produced that result cheaper than today's electricity cost. So there's your clean, cheap, reliable and competitive example. The majority of the newer alternatives have the same capability of heat storage like those and the Solar II plant, but choose to use the storage up during the day when they can get a higher price per kWh. Call it the low hanging fruit syndrome, but it's not a technical problem.
It is true however that not much has made it to commercialization since then, but there are some considerations that you may not be aware of regarding that. I'll use my situation as an example. Only after I saw it as a viable opportunity, did I start work on my own system around 1999. Working alone and under a strained budget, I made slow progress. It takes time to relearn thermodynamics, CAD and materials, etc. Once I partnered with a professional engineer last year, I found that it went faster but was still limited to my budget. With no proof of concept and public opinion such as yours available everywhere, financing was tough. Prototyping has also presented it's share of the delays with scheduling donated machine time and everything needing NDAs, etc. As you can see, it's not a job for the person who doesn't live, eat and sleep it. There are many such companies doing the exact same thing, each at varying stages, all racing toward commercialization. Some have made it to market like the solar dishes that just got the contract for 1/2 a gW + recently. Some have proven success but the managers that came along with their financing decided which direction to take their future. Be all that as it may, it won't be long before I'll be able to cite many more large scale examples comparable to SEGS. None of this even considers the other disciplines like peak shaving residential generation or wave / tidal / wind / Bio / PV / thermal Hydrogen / geothermal or even any conservation options. Keep in mind that none of these have to produce baseload or even dispatchable power to reduce the addiction to LNG/oil. They only have to offset oil or gas use by being predictable or able to be stored or backed up. With any fuel saved, we surely can use some of it as backup.
As far as having a stake in this, I submit to you that I have much more than you do. I also work my day job at a utility plant and have to answer for when the service dies. I will add that the services we provide have a much lower reliability that any system I would ever release. On top of that, emission permitting has made dirtier fuels more cost effective than the cleaner natural gas. So, yes if you couple that job with the endless after hours private work, the personal debt and committments I've accumulated to start out on my own, I'd say I have quite a bit on the line. At this stage, it's do or die but we're not worried at all.
What's your answer to your neighbors going to be in 5-10 years when you've spent billions to shore up the NG/LNG market and China or India outbids us, and our prices have skyrocketed higher than now? My answer and that of the others working toward renewables will be that I reduced our need by X% and that % is growing rapidly. I ask you why you can't see both options as a goal? No one's saying to dump all fossil fuel plants and replace them. We're just wanting guys like you to stop knocking renewable as nonsensical, unproven, uneconomical pipe dreams not worth funding, so we can get off the ground.
Don't worry, I feel totally comfortable that whatever fossil fuel plants (including nukes/ports/pipelines, etc.) that are reguired to keep the lights on, will still get their funding and get built along the way. Opportunity breeds competition, right?
Joseph Somsel 2.15.06
"What's your answer to your neighbors going to be in 5-10 years when you've spent billions to shore up the NG/LNG market and China or India outbids us, and our prices have skyrocketed higher than now?"
My answer - why didn't we build lots of nukes back when and how come you don't have a ground source heat pump and maybe a domestic solar hot water system? That's my energy prescription.
The terminals and deliver chains to the existing pipeline system are being privately financed. I'll allow Wall Street to decide whether to invest in such endeavors and how long they think they need to amortize them to make a profit..
We agree that the global LNG market will have a comparably short run, maybe 20 to 50 years. Resources are thin and demand is great. Competing uses such as GTL will also limit. We also share a disdain for pollution but I've chosen nuclear as the replacement path while you're placing your bets elsewhere.
Frankly, investors in green energy are dependent on future corporate welfare in the form of mandated purchase requirements and tax incentives. Plus, they anticipate future governmental and legal frustration of cheaper competitors, ie nuclear. Certainly there are and will
Nuclear only needs government to promise to get out and stay out of the way. Regulatory and political risks are the main deterrents to a rapid expansion of domestic nuclear capacity.
As to fuel savings, what about capital wasting? One has to ask, where can our capital investments for energy best be sunk? There is a huge need and only a limited amount of capital. Government distortions of investment decisions will only lead to waste.
Tam Hunt 2.17.06
Joseph Stomsel: you write: "Nuclear only needs government to promise to get out and stay out of the way. Regulatory and political risks are the main deterrents to a rapid expansion of domestic nuclear capacity."
If this is the case, please tell me why $6 billion in subsidies for nuclear power was included in the 2005 EPAct, about half of the total subsidies for all energy sources?
The fact is, nuclear power in the US has been incredibly expensive, especially so in California, where ratepayers are still on the hook for the high costs from San Onofre and Diablo Canyon.
Tam Hunt 2.17.06
James Hopf: please send me your number and email address, to email@example.com, as I'd like to discuss uranium resources in more depth.
Don Giegler 2.20.06
When a unit at DCNPP and a unit at SONGS went off line during the California electric energy crisis, the price of a Kw-hr of electric energy in California went up. This appears true even when the shenanigans of fast-buck artists manipulating the electric energy market are discounted. Perhaps those allocating R & D funding at the national level noticed this phenomena. If 20 year operating license extensions are granted to DCNPP and SONGS, the worn-out anti-nuke mantra of these plants costing ratepayers an arm and a leg will be even more ludicrous. This even after the capital cost of replacing steam generators! Mr. Somsel pinned the tail on you and Todd pretty well. Your contributions to conservation and the electric energy mix, should they make economic sense, should be welcome. Your political and anti-nuclear activism should be ignored.
Ferdinand E. Banks 2.21.06
This is a great discussion. I intend to refer it to as many people as possible, and also refer to it in my new energy economics textbook. I have one comment however. Tam Hunt says that "nuclear power in the U.S. has been incredibly expensive". This opinion should have been passed to those good people in Finland who set in motion the 1500 MW nuclear plant that is now under construction, although I'm not sure that they would listen too carefully. But if they did they would say that BEST PRACTICE nuclear is streets ahead of e.g. natural gas, which they could have bought without any difficulty from neighboring Norway and Russia. As for more renewables, I don't think that they would say anything, because like their colleagues here in Sweden they got tired of entertaining that kind of misconception many moons ago.
Todd McKissick 2.21.06
Mr. Somsel refers to the amount of capital wasted on.. I'm assuming, renewables. I'm interested in the answer to the question of the $6 Billion in nuclear subsidies? Why does a supposedly tried and tested source like that need a new 1.8 cent/kWh production credit? For that amount of money, you can buy the equivalent of 6-8 nuke plants worth of solar generation even in today's unrefined offerings.
Mr. Giegler, what does it prove to say that taking some nuclear generation offline during an energy crunch will or did cause a price rise? I don't care if you took pedal power offline, x amount off will result in y price rise. How exactly does this support your case?
If you're going to complain that you're tired of the anti-nuke mantra, then give us something different back. All we hear is pro-nuke and there's nothing else worth spending a dime on unless it's already cost effective! How much is in next year's budget for nuclear vs. solar research? Try Billions vs. 150 million. So stop complaining about spending so much on renewables because after 50 years, you're still getting 10 times our amount. That just boggles my mind. I also get tired of being referred to as anti-nuclear just for asking some tough financial questions of it. Maybe you could tell me how it costs you anything for me to build a privately funded solar plant that uses no foreign or domestic fuel, doesn't pollute and has high reliability/capacity? It just takes time, nothing gets cost effective right out of the gate. Even so, I do get tired of repeating to deaf ears that there currently are solar thermal solutions that compete with nuclear plants on all acounts except scale right now. You should look into this before you tout that we only need nuclear. As you may have read above, I said nuclear is currently the most technically feasable option right now.
Professor (of economics) Banks, how many decades of cutting edge advancement in renewables are you going to ignore before backing up your repeated discounting of renewables? I'm guessing you're in the crowd of when it's perfected, then I'll take my fingers out of my ears.
I would love to see the government get completely out of the energy business. I have never seen any organization that can spend so much to accomplish so little. I truly believe that private investment looks to the accomplishments of the government research as an indicator of which renewables are worth their salt. Unfortunately, the government labs only contain professional researchers with no accountability and a tendency to support mostly pie in the sky dreams. This doesn't fly in the private sector where the end goal is #1.
Len Gould 2.21.06
Agreed Todd. I'm pro-nuclear right now because I consider it infinitly more sensible than coal or gas generation, and we can still effectively use a LOT more electricity per capita (plug-hybrid cars, geothermal-het-pumps) to get further off the import addiction.
However I'm also completely convinced that fairly soon solar/biofuel is going to make more sense economically. Seen the article re- Iogen / Shell in Europe?
Don Giegler 2.22.06
Perhaps you do understand when you admit "...nothing gets cost effective right out of the gate..." . If so, we can avoid wasting time answering questions for which the answers are obvious. The R & D funding that incenses you, from the descriptions that I've read, appears to be for thermal splittlng of hydrogen-rich compounds and resuming investigation of improved spent fuel reprocessing technology, so precipitously terminated by that eminent nuclear engineer, Jimmy Who, in the late '70s.
Len Gould 2.23.06
Don. Why the heck would anybody want to produce h2 from Nat. gas, thermal splitting or not? Ohhh, big refineries. Well then. Why the heck would anybody want to subsidize big refineries in this market? Ohhh, political payoffs. Now it's clear.
Todd McKissick 2.23.06
Actually, Don. I'm glad you gave me the justification to clear that up. I am most certainly NOT against the R&D of future nuclear technologies. At very worst, I could be labeled complacent. I don't really see it as worth my efforts to research too much because there are people much more entrenched in it and the market will create or kill it depending on need.
What I am incessant on is the constant and unjustified attitude that a) all renewables are toys and can't possibly compete economically, b) all renewables are created equal, c) they are a waste of money, d) they can't supply enough to make a difference, and e) they are distracting from getting down to business of shoring up fuel source x, y, or z. That really gets my goat when it comes from people who have gotten subsidies for 50 years with their own set of promises and their own guarantees of eutopia. I have fought this attitude for so long, I'm sick of it. It is unjustified, arrogant and immature. Unfortunately, those accusations don't stick to the nuclear crowd. Only through the current fossil fuel crisis are they starting to stick to that group. If was was to say that nuclear was a joke and not worth spending a dime on (let alone pulling ALL the subsidies) I would be laughed out of here. No I don't feel that way, but I'm trying to show the inequality of competition.
As far as my personal support. I tend to support all renewables if they are clean, truly renewable and provide sufficient reliable capacity. That quickly narrows the field to only solar thermal to electric generation with a CHP adder. I believe the only way to do that is via Stirling engine. I researched that engine and found that all the 'experts' give way to some "magic" at some point in the process explaination so I spent nearly a decade learning the most basic level of physics going on. This led me to see opportunities that are being missed in today's offerings. This led to a new design, to prototyping, to funding hunting, to legislative research, to online "due dilligence" support for investors, and finally to fighting popular opinion against the viability of Stirlings. Now maybe you can see how the casual dismissal of alternative technologies in public can have a profound impact on their development. ...and I'm not asking for any subsidy or help in any way from any government entity. Anyone designing a long term business around short term subsidies, credits, policies or fuel volitility has their hydrocarbons and carbohydrates confused. ;)
How's that for the nutshell version. If you would like to continue this conversation on the side, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org
Don Giegler 2.23.06
Who knows. Perhaps there is some intent to produce electric energy, obtain hydrogen and sequester carbon simultaneously. I take it natural gas isn't the only hydrogen-rich compound, but it will do for a start. As Dr. Banks puts it, "many moons ago" we learned that LH2 and LOX had a helluva specific impulse, much to the detriment of certain engine test stands when things went wrong. The squeal of the pig is there. Can we use it? On one thing we may agree; it's getting harder and harder these days to tell the difference between legitimate R & D funding and political payoffs. Maybe that's the penalty you and I pay for living in two countries with representative forms of government elected by the people. The people, by the way, who are the corporations, the companies, the small businesses and the public servants.
"Unfortunately, those accusations don't stick to the nuclear crowd." is probably less clear to me than what I've addressed to you is to you. Though I support Mr. Somsel's and Dr. Bank's assessments of the renewers and the conservers, may the gods of optimality smile on both groups.
Len Gould 2.24.06
Too bad none of that subsidy money could have produced something like this South African professor has done.
"This means a 60-W panel would cost around R490, or R8 a watt, compared to imported panels entering local soil at R35 to R40 a watt, he notes." What net effect of a 400% to 500% reduction in cost-per-watt for solar cells? Can you say US$1,307 / kw? At that price, even with another $500/kw for inverters and $250 installation (the main layer of the new panesl is a top layer of glass substrate which the professor states is the most expensive layer in the entire cell), it will turn the energy industry on it's head.
Already 4 x 25 MW plants scheduled for construction.
And Don, feel free to subsidize your H2 from natural gas, but just not with my taxes. 9<)