Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Electricity Generation, Transmission, End-Use Efficiency

We use archaic methods to generate, transport, and consume electricity in the U.S.,

photo: treehugger.com

Electricity consumption in the U.S. is really, really inefficient...       
       93% of the coal used to generate electricity is wasted.

Average (2008) coal power plant efficiency:
       ~33% (3,412 [Btu content of a kWh of electricity] / 10,378 [heat content, Btu's]
       ::U.S. Energy Information Administration

(nuclear power stations are about the same efficiency, natural gas is a little better)

In 2007, national-level grid losses were 6.5% of total electricity disposition excluding direct use.
       ::U.S. Energy Information Administration

In general, up to 75% of the electricity used in the U.S. today could be saved with efficiency measures that cost less than the electricity itself.
       ::Wikipedia: Efficient energy use

of every 100 Btu's consumed, we lose: 100 * .33 = 33 * .935 = 30.855 * .25 =
       7.714 Btu consumed for desired uses,
       the rest thrown away

       => 92.29% of coal used to generate electricity is wasted

The Good News... 
All this inefficiency works both ways: for every watt you save through improved efficiency or conservation, you save about 10 Watts at the coal, gas, or nuclear generating plant.

Wind turbines and photovoltaics power the grid at 98% efficiency -- meaning they lose only 2% during generation and conversion to grid voltage -- compared to 92% lost with coal, gas and nukes.

Also, nationwide, coal-fired electric power generation declined 11.6 percent from 2008 to 2009, bringing coal's share of the electricity power output to 44.5 percent, the lowest level since 1978. Coal consumption at U.S. power plants paralleled the decline in generation, dropping 10.3 percent from 2008.

Nukes are losing ground to renewables, too. They are just too slow to bring on line, and way to expensive compared to renewables. Not to mention toxic.

       ::U.S. Energy Information Administration

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Global Warming: Farmer's Eye-Witness Account

Friday, November 26, 2010

Bad Government + Bad Bankers = Bad Energy

image: ElectronRun

According to a story in the NY Times, "Cost-Saving State Law Endangers Growth of Wind Industry," wind farms on the drawing board in Illinois might stay there, unbuilt, even though they are licensed by the state and financing is line up. Why? Because the Illinois Power Agency is committed to buying power at the lowest rate it can. It doesn't have a choice, that's the law. Even if that energy must be piped in from out of state, with all the attendant efficiency losses. Not to mention delaying the transition to cheap, clean electricity sources (especially if you include the cost of cleaning up heavy-metal-laden coal ash heaps).

Why? Because the wind farm developers can't get financing from risk averse bankers unless they have a commitment from Illinois to buy the power the wind farms produce for many years out. And new wind farms have capital -- and financing -- costs they need to cover, so their power is incrementally more expensive than established, out of state competitors. Eventually those investments will be paid for, and the banks paid off, so the cost of energy from the new Illinois wind farms will drop, too. But none of that matters.
"Mr. Deora said a failure to invest in new wind farms could lead to higher electricity rates, especially if stricter air quality laws, public opposition and aging equipment mean the closing of coal plants that now provide the majority of the state’s energy."
 This is just dumb, and could be fixed with a stroke of the pen. Will it? Who knows?
"Mr. Borgia, of the Illinois Wind Energy Association, said the Illinois Power Agency’s contracting structure was created to protect ratepayers in the bulk purchase of electricity from all sources, not to deal specifically with renewable energy or to facilitate new wind development.
Hence, wind experts say, Illinois’s wind procurement process is exceptionally complicated and inefficient.
'The contract wasn’t designed for this process,' Mr. Borgia said. 'It’s like using a water-slide contract to commission a wind farm. You could do that, but why would you? Why wouldn’t you use a wind farm contract?'”
We need leaders, not politicians. Otherwise, the future is never gonna happen

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Renewables Are the Smart, Least-Cost Energy Solution

[This is a reply to a comment on the Huff Post -- see below.]

We don't need "new equipment to power the US right now." We need to retire the dirtiest, most inefficient coal plants, and replace them with renewables, which are cheaper (not even counting the saved cost of pollution remediation from coal ash impoundments).

Domestic growth in demand for electricity is moderate to zero (California, with efficiency programs, has seen their demand drop steadily since the eighties, here's more info: http://www­.eia.doe.g­ov/oiaf/ae­o/electric­ity.html). We can meet most new demand for quite a while, as we've been doing without even trying very hard, with efficiency improvements that have short payback times relative to creating new generating and distribution capacity.

Implementing renewables to replace retired coal and nuke plants will save money up front (especially distributed renewables, which are more reliable and don't require power line upgrades [which we will need with new coal and nukes], aside from net meetering), and save money later since they don't create pollution and that needs to be dealt with (forever, in the case of nukes).

Renewables are possible, and the smart, least-cost thing to do. Most other industrialized countries (Russia excepted?) have figured this out, and are leaving the US.in the dust.

Read more here: http://com­pletelybak­ed.blogspo­t.com/2009­/11/wind-e­nergy-econ­omics.html

and here: http://com­pletelybak­ed.blogspo­t.com/2009­/02/renewa­bles-inter­mittency-r­eliability­.html

and here: http://com­pletelybak­ed.blogspo­t.com/2009­/03/electr­icity-gene­ration-cen­tralizatio­n.html (be sure to see links in this post)

About Green Energy
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Friday, November 19, 2010

Kentucky Cancels Coal Plant, New Power Movement Electrifies Grassroot Alliance

Electricity consumption by nation: http://en.­wikipedia.­org/wiki/L­ist_of_cou­ntries_by_­electricit­y_consumpt­ion

Union of Concerned Scientists sustainable energy info, including job creation: http://www­.ucsusa.or­g/clean_en­ergy/solut­ions/renew­able_energ­y_solution­s/clean-en­ergy-green­-jobs.html

My own renewable energy info collection: http://com­pletelybak­ed.blogspo­t.com/sear­ch/label/R­enewables

Efficiency is the cheapest electricity source, and requires no infrastructure. And the US is very, very inefficient, which amounts to throwing money away. Which is like buying oil from Canada (80% of imported oil) and Saudi Arabia...and on and on.

We ought to accept change, instead of clinging to the past and its archaic economic drags. Fear not the future...

About Green Energy

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I Eliminated the US Budget Deficit...

...on the NY Times, using their handy calculator:
Budget Puzzle: You Fix the Budget

Projected 2015 Shortfall: $418 Billion -- I came up with $716 Billion. A surplus!
Projected 2030 Shortfall: $1345 Billion -- I found $1584 Billion. Another surplus!

Try it, it's easy...when no politicians are around. ;)

Finding truth...

It seems that Republicans always seem to discover the error of their ways long after they've wreaked havoc on the country, and profited from it (I'm thinking now of Robert McNamara's regret of escalating the Vietnam war, but there have been others.).

David Stockman, budget director in the first Reagan administration, and supply-side zealot, presided over income tax cuts in the eighties that ran the country into a ditch, and started the long middle-class slide into the abyss.

Now, Mr. Stockman thinks the Bush tax cuts for rich people, paid for by poor people, are not so good for the country. This revelation is deja vu all over for Stockman: he blamed Reagan's "starve the beast" tax cut hijinks for the ballooning deficit and crushing recession that followed. He wrote a book about it. From which sales he no doubt made a pile of money.

Wow. I guess the scales fell from his eyes...again. Still, I'm grateful he has the courage to stand up and elucidate the obvious. Fiscal-fiasco Republicans rarely reach that level of enlightenment.

Here's the story in the NY Times, "A Republican for Higher Taxes"

Our current flock of self-serving Congressional Republicans will surely revile Mr. Stockman as traitor.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

President Obama Fails To Secure A Trade Deal With S. Korea

Hoorah! The NY Times story, "In Setback, U.S. and South Korea Fail to Agree on Trade" reports that the US and S. Korea failed to sign a "free" trade deal initiated by the Bush administration in 2007.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports the S. Korea trade deal. That's reason enough for fair-minded citizens to oppose it. The deal will do nothing to promote broad prosperity in the US. When we are told that it will create economic growth for the US, they mean growth in the finance sector: bankers cutting deals with S. Korean firms who will, in turn, substitute S. Koreans for American manufacturing workers. Once again, the middle-class, unionized work force loses.

What the hell are you thinking Mr. Obama?

You can sign a petition to "Tell the Obama Administration that adopting Bush's Korea trade deal is political suicide" at Public Citizen's site, and read more about free vs. fair trade.

Not Your Mother's Conservatives

In reply to comment on an article, Not Your Mother's Conservatives, in the Huffington Post, that describes the disconnect between voters who elected conservatives, and ostensible conservative policies.

Well said. Except...there is no such thing as free trade in operation these days, which I suspect you don't need to be told. I say abolish the notion and take us back to prosperous mercantilism. And let's have a value added tax, while we're at it. Save the middle class...

BTW, here's a fun read if anyone's interested: http://www­.conservat­ivenannyst­ate.org/cn­s.html

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Republican Venality Dooms Charmed Planet

From Mother Jones, "Audio: What the Republican Ascendancy Means for Global Warming:"
"Of all the Republicans newly elected to the U.S. Senate last week, only one has openly accepted the science behind anthropogenic climate change (Senator-elect Mark Kirk, of Illinois). As much as half of the new Republican majority in the House has either outright denied the existence of climate change or questioned whether the warming of the planet is caused by humans."
It astonishes me how politicians, for the pettiest short-term gain, can flout logic. We could have made lemonade from these global warming lemons: lots of well-paid, domestic, union jobs creating efficiency and clean, sustainable energy, and products we could have exported around the world. We could have left a cleaner, healthier planet for our descendants.

But, alas, no. Republicans prefer dirty, toxic, self-enriching, status quo coal. Oh, and nukes. All those big campaign contributions and overpaid, revolving-door lobbying jobs trump the planet's future every time a Republican makes such a calculation.

Eat, drink, and be merry...

The Webb Abides: Heroic Anti-Mountaintop Removal Activist Wins Prestigious Purpose Prize

Nice work, Mr. Webb. Keep the faith!
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Swiss Banker's Reaction to U.S. Treasury Hiding A.I.G. Loss

I second Mr. Hill's emotion. Why, I wonder, does Treasury and everyone else operating in the rarefied realm of finance think the rest of us are a bunch of f***nuts? Could this be blowback from the Tea Party extravaganza? Look at the people we elect to lead us? Of course the wizards of felonious finance think we are dimwitted

Collectively, we are.

And what about those "GOP Young Guns?" Are they serious?
More about the guns here:

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Sen. Fritz Hollings Asks: What Went Wrong?

Senator Fritz Hollings, at the Huffington Post, writes:
After eight years of Bush borrowing and spending to the tune of $6 trillion dollars, tax cuts and stimulus, wars and off-shoring a third of the nation's manufacture, the voters wanted no more. But Obama gave them even more borrowing and spending to the tune of $3 trillion, tax cuts and stimulus, wars, and off-shoring our industrial backbone -- thus, the shellacking. 
What Went Wrong
Right on, Senator. The decline of the middle class will not be reversed until we restore our manufacturing base via protectionist trade measures. (Or fair trade for everyone, but that'll never happen.) Enforcement of trade laws, and the implementation of a VAT are necessary components of a prosperous industrialized society. But the reversal of decline will never happen as long as our politicians are beholden to bankers, and the free trade chimera.

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

First Salvo In Social Security Fight: OweNo, A $20 Million Campaign Launched With Bayh, Conrad As Allies

Yeah, let's privatize Social Security so Wall Street gets their pound of flesh, and beneficiaries are subject to the vagaries of the market. They can spend their retirement years pondering the business section, and they'll still lose. But the brokers will win. The house always wins.

A few tweaks and Social Security is fine. Get rid of Medicare Part D, and let the gov negotiate better volume discounts for meds, and medicare is fine. Don't believe the starve the beast rhetoric on the right.

Privatization sounds like a great GOP idea: kick old folks -- the ones who actually kept the country running during their working lives -- into the gutter. Let them eat cake...

And what about this "GOP Young Guns" thing? Are we gonna let 'em get away with that kind of tin-eared goofiness? more here:

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Where Do Democrats Go Next? It's Not Where Evan Bayh Would Have Us Go

Aside from tweaking China for their trade rule violations, a value added tax would go a long way toward revitalizing US manufacturing, without which there is no future for the middle-class. Democrats need to find some cajones, let ALL of the Bush tax cuts expire, and propose legislation with teeth in it on every front: trade, energy, environment, and health care (in that order).

And then they should call out the GOP for their shameless shenanigans like the "GOP Young Guns" -- http://com­pletelybak­ed.blogspo­t.com/p/t-­h-e-d-u-n-­g-g-u-n-s.­html

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

I know, global warming's a hoax.

And the collapse of the Amazon is another unfortunate act of god.

Or, maybe -- on the off chance that global warming is real -- we could do a few things to stem the tide of impending disaster. Like conserving energy in industrialized countries -- the US in particular, where we waste about 80% of the electricity we generate. And 50% of that is generated with coal. The number one culprit in the unfolding global warming drama...um, I mean... hoax.

Here's a  bit from a story in the Global Post, "Rivers run dry as drought hits Amazon:"

Brazilians cross the muddy bottom of the Rio Negro, a major tributary to the Amazon River, in the city of Manaus, Oct. 26, 2010. (Euzivaldo Queiroz/A Critica/Reuters)
"The world’s largest rain forest has long been a bulwark of hope for a planet troubled by climate change. Covering an area the size of the continental United States, the Amazon holds 20 percent of Earth’s fresh water and generates a fifth of its oxygen. With the planet's climate increasingly threatened by surging carbon emissions, the Amazon has been one of the few forces keeping them in check. But the latest scientific evidence suggests the forest may be unable to shield us from a hotter world.
'Every ecosystem has some point beyond which it can’t go,' said Oliver Phillips, a tropical ecology professor at the University of Leeds who has spent decades studying how forests react to changing weather. 'The concern now is that parts of the Amazon may be approaching that threshold.'"
Would it kill us to turn off the lights when we leave a room? Or, turn up the AC a couple of degrees?

Nah, forget it.

Global warming's a big hoax...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Don't Forget to Support the GOP Dung Guns...

Here's my parody of the GOP Young Guns site -- it really exists!

Pundits Know Not of What They Speak

From the New York Times, "Debunking the Myths of the Midterm":
"The Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski, below, in what he called the law of the infinite cornucopia, stated that there was never a shortage of arguments to support any doctrine one wanted to believe in for whatever reasons."

Monday, November 1, 2010

Exclusive Interview With GOP Young Guns Founder

Several Republican Congressmen from the House of Representatives recently launched a national organization to promote Republican Party ideals amongst young people. This is ironic when you consider that ideals are anathema to the Republican Party, the party of crass venality, the party that enforces no ideals whatsoever, but instead pursues self-interest and short-term gain at any cost, social or environmental.

But that aside, CompletelyBaked had the opportunity to interview one of the founders of this new organization devoted to up and coming plutocrats. We refer to him as YG, since he prefers to remain anonymous due to a pending a criminal investigation by D.C. prosecutors on alleged charges of tax evasion, and sex crimes against the founders of GOP Young Guns.

CB: No offense, but you are not particularly young, nor do you appear to carry a gun. What’s up?

YG: No, no, no. You don’t get it. We’re a bunch of old, rich, white guys trying to attract young people, even poor young people, to the GOP.

CB: With guns?

YG: Sure, if that’s what the young people like. We have a second amendment, you know.

CB: All too well. You do carry a gun then?

YG: I prepare for the worst, and hope for the best, Soldier. That’s kind of a motto of mine.

CB: So you intend to drag young people into your organization at gunpoint?

YG: No. You don’t get it, do you? You must be one of those thickheaded, liberal, socialists. We make ourselves attractive to young people with the promise of companionship with youths, and guns. See, like a young posse. Out on the range. Yeah, Young Guns! Yee, ha!

CB: You didn’t just say...no, you said, “young posse,” right?

YG: Yes.

CB: So you promote vigilantism: lynchings, and so forth?

YG: Yes. No! Not the way you think of it...we promote individualism and independence. The stuff this country was built on. Pick yourself up by your bootstraps, make your own way in the world, defend yourself. No sissies.

CB: So no lynchings?

YG: I wouldn’t rule that out, but that’s not our focus. Our focus is freedom. You’ve seen the Magnificent Seven?

CB: It’s about sticking up for the little guy, and opposing oppression, right?

YG: I guess so. I couldn’t really tell you. My point is, there’s a posse in there.

CB: Not so young though.

YG: I think you’re hung up on age.

CB: But you’re the Young Guns.

YG: Yes. We are.

CB: Are you interested in boys and girls, or -- with your talk of posses, and all -- just young boys?

YG: I like young girls. That is, I think girls...women...young women should play a vital and commanding role in the modern Republican Party. Well, not so commanding, maybe. We don’t want another Hillary, do we? Ha, ha!

CB: I ask because some of your colleagues have revealed, perhaps reluctantly, a bias for young boys.

YG: Well, we all have our biases.

CB: Do our biases sometimes lead us to what others might call criminal, or deviant, behavior?

YG: The GOP Young Guns believe in individualism and independence, remember?

CB: And good lawyers?

YG: Nothing wrong with that.

CB: Not if you can afford them. And many of your congressional colleagues have proven they can. Several have spent lavishly to defend against charges of soliciting sex with minors, and sexual harassment of interns. But don’t you think this sets a bad example for the party?

YG: Not at all. Our private lives are just that. Private. When a liberal media elite attacks upstanding citizens, those good folks need to defend themselves by any means necessary. That includes lawyers.

CB: And posse’s with guns?

YG: Sometimes.

CB: And laws prohibiting abortion and same sex marriage?

YG: You betcha!

CB: So you would agree then that your colleagues, who happen to be adulterers and homosexuals who solicit sex in airport bathrooms, are upstanding citizens?

YG: We all have our own definitions for these things.

CB: So it’s all about independence and individualism for the GOP Young Guns?

YG: That’s right.

CB: With independence and individualism in mind, if you ran a business, you would reject special favors from Congress?

YG: Of course. The GOP -- and that includes the Young Guns -- believes in the free-market.

CB: So, lobbying for legislation to undermine environmental protection laws, consumer protection laws, stock and bond trading regulatory laws; you wouldn’t consider such legislation as favoring corporate profit over the general well being of the citizenry?

YG: Not at all. When corporations make money, the citizenry makes money.

CB: Even when most of that money is funneled toward an elite group at the well-healed end of the economic spectrum. Executive who co-serve on the boards of each other’s companies, and pay politicians, like you, to pass such legislation?

YG: It’s a free country, Bub. Take it or leave it.

CB: Thanks a lot.