On Stable Electric Power: What You Need to Know

nzrobin commented on my previous post Big Wind Blacklisted   that he had more to add.  So this post provides excerpts from a 7 part series Anthony wrote at kiwithinker on Electric Power System Stability. Excerpts are in italics with my bolds to encourage you to go read the series of posts at kiwithinker.

1. Electrical Grid Stability is achieved by applying engineering concepts of power generation and grids.

Some types of generation provide grid stability, other types undermine it. Grid stability is an essential requirement for a power supply reliability and security. However there is insufficient understanding of what grid stability is and the risk that exists if stability is undermined to the point of collapse. Increasing grid instability will lead to power outages. The stakes are very high.

2.Electric current is generated ‘on demand’. There is no stored electric current in the grid.

The three fundamental parts of a power system are:

its generators, which make the power,
its loads, which use the power, and
its grid, which connects them together.

The electric current delivered when you turn on a switch is generated from the instant you operate the switch. There is no store of electric current in the grid. Only certain generators can provide this instant ‘service’.

So if there is no storage in the grid the amount of electric power being put into the grid has to very closely match that taken out. If not, voltage and frequency will move outside of safe margins, and if the imbalance is not corrected very quickly it will lead to voltage and frequency excursions resulting in damage or outages, or both.

3. A stable power system is one that continuously responds and compensates for power/ frequency disturbances, and completes the required adjustments within an acceptable timeframe to adequately compensate for the power/frequency disturbances.

Voltage is an important performance indicator and it should of course be kept within acceptable tolerances. However voltage excursions tend to be reasonably local events. So while voltage excursions can happen from place to place and they cause damage and disruption, it turns out that voltage alone is not the main ‘system wide’ stability indicator.

The key performance indicator of an acceptably stable power system is its frequency being within a close margin from its target value, typically within 0.5 Hz from either 50 Hz or 60 Hz, and importantly, the rise and fall rate of frequency deviations need to be managed to achieve that narrow window.

An increasing frequency indicates more power is entering the system than is being taken out. Likewise, a reducing frequency indicates more is being taken out than is entering. For a power supply system to be stable it is necessary to control the frequency. Control systems continuously observe the frequency, and the rate of change of the frequency. The systems control generator outputs up or down to restore the frequency to the target window.

Of course energy imbalances of varying size are occurring all the time. Every moment of every day the load is continuously changing, generally following a daily load curve. These changes tend to be gradual and lead to a small rate of change of frequency. Now and then however faults occur. Large power imbalances mean a proportionately faster frequency change occurs, and consequently the response has to be bigger and faster, typically within two or three seconds if stability is to be maintained. If not – in a couple blinks of an eye the power is off – across the whole grid.

If the system can cope with the range of disturbances thrown at it, it is described as ‘stable’. If it cannot cope with the disturbances it is described as ‘unstable’.

4.There are two main types of alternating current machines used for the generation of electricity; synchronous and asynchronous. The difference between them begins with the way the magnetic field of the rotor interacts with the stator. Both types of machine can be used as either a generator or motor.

There are two key differences affecting their contribution to stability.

The kinetic energy of the synchronous machine’s rotor is closely coupled to the power system and therefore available for immediate conversion to power. The rotor kinetic energy of the asynchronous machine is decoupled from the system by virtue of its slip and is therefore not easily available to the system.

Synchronous generators are controllable by governors which monitor system frequency and adjust prime mover input to bring correction to frequency movements. Asynchronous generators are typically used in applications where the energy source is not controllable, eg: wind turbines. These generators cannot respond to frequency movements representing a system energy imbalance. They are instead a cause of energy imbalance.

Short -term stability

The spinning kinetic energy in the rotors of the synchronous machines is measured in megawatt seconds. Synchronous machines provide stability under power system imbalances because the kinetic energy of their rotors (and prime movers) is locked in synchronism with the grid through the magnetic field between the rotor and the stator. The provision of this energy is essential to short duration stability of the power system.

Longer-term stability

Longer term stability is managed by governor controls. These devices monitor system frequency (recall that the rate of system frequency change is proportional to energy imbalance) and automatically adjust machine power output to compensate for the imbalance and restore stability.

5.For a given level of power imbalance the rate of rise and fall of system frequency is directly dependent on synchronously connected angular momentum.

The rotational form of Newton’s second law of motion; Force = Mass * Acceleration describes the power flow between the rotating inertia (rotational kinetic energy) of a synchronous generator and the power system. It applies for the first few seconds after the onset of a disturbance, i.e.: before the governor and prime mover have had opportunity to adjust the input power to the generator.

Pm – Pe = M * dw/dt

Pm is the mechanical power being applied to the rotor by the prime mover. We consider this is a constant for the few seconds that we are considering.

Pe is the electrical power being taken from the machine. This is variable.

M is the angular momentum of the rotor and the directly connected prime mover. We can also consider M a constant, although strictly speaking it isn’t constant because it depends on w. However as w is held within a small window, M does not vary more than a percent or so.

dw/dt is the rate of change of rotor speed, which relates directly to the rate of increasing or reducing frequency.

The machine is in equilibrium when Pm = Pe. This results in dw/dt being 0, which represents the rotor spinning at a constant speed. The frequency is constant.

When electrical load has been lost Pe is less than Pm and the machine will accelerate resulting in increasing frequency. Alternatively when electrical load is added Pe is greater than Pm the machine will slow down resulting in reducing frequency.

Here’s the key point, for a given level of power imbalance the rate of rise and fall of system frequency is directly dependent on synchronously connected angular momentum, M.

It should now be clear how central a role that synchronously connected angular momentum plays in power system stability. It is the factor that determines how much time generator governors and automatic load shedding systems have to respond to the power flow variation and bring correction.

 

6 .Generation Follows Demand. The machine governor acts in the system as a feedback controller. The governor’s purpose is to sense the shaft rotational speed, and the rate of speed increase /decrease, and to adjust machine input via a gate control.

The governor’s job is to continuously monitor the rotational speed w of the shaft and the rate of change of shaft speed dw/dt and to control the gate(s) to the prime mover. In the example below, a hydro turbine, the control applied is to adjust the flow of water into the turbine, and increasing or reducing the mechanical power Pm compensate for the increase or reduction in electrical load, ie: to approach equilibrium.

It should be pointed out that while the control systems aim for equilibrium, true equilibrium is never actually achieved. Disturbances are always happening and they have to compensated for continuously, every second of every minute of every hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, year after year.

The discussion has been for a single synchronous generator, whereas of course the grid has hundreds of generators. In order for each governor controlled generator to respond fairly and proportionately to a network power imbalance, governor control is implemented with what is called a ‘droop characteristic’. Without a droop characteristic, governor controlled generators would fight each other each trying to control the frequency to its own setting. A droop characteristic provides a controlled increase in generator output, in inverse proportion to a small drop in frequency.

In New Zealand the normal operational frequency band is 49.8 to 50.2 Hz. An under frequency event is an event where the frequency drops to 49.25 Hz. It is the generators controlled by governors with a droop characteristic that pick up the load increase and thereby maintain stability. If it happens that the event is large and the governor response is insufficient to arrest the falling frequency, under frequency load shedding relays turn off load.

Here is a record of an under frequency event earlier this month, where a power station tripped.

The generator tripped at point A which started the frequency drop. The rate of drop dw/dt is determined by size of the power imbalance divided by the synchronous angular momentum (Pm – Pe)/M. In only 6 seconds the frequency drop was arrested at point B by other governor controlled generators and under frequency load shedding, and in about 6 further seconds additional power is generated, once again under the control of governors, and the frequency was restored to normal at point C. The whole event lasting merely 12 seconds.

So why would we care about a mere 12 second dip in frequency of less than 1 Hz. The reason is that without governor action and under frequency load shedding, a mere 12 second dip would instead be a complete power blackout of the North Island of New Zealand.

Local officials standing outside substation Masterton NZ .

7.An under frequency event on the North Island of New Zealand demonstrates how critical is electrical system stability.

The graph below which is based on 5 minute load data from NZ’s System Operator confirms that load shedding occurred. The North Island load can be seen to drop 300 MW, from 3700 MW at 9.50 to 3400 MW at 9.55. The load restoration phase can also be observed from this graph. From 10.15 through 10.40 the shed load is restored in several steps.

The high resolution data that we’ll be looking at more closely was recorded by a meter with power quality and transient disturbance recording capability. It is situated in Masterton, Wairarapa, about 300 km south of the power station that tripped. The meter is triggered to capture frequency excursions below 49.2 Hz. The graph below shows the captured excursion on June 15th. The graph covers a total period of only one minute. It shows the frequency and Masterton substation’s load. I have highlighted and numbered several parts of the frequency curve to help with the discussion.

The first element we’ll look at is element 1 to 2. The grid has just lost 310 MW generation and the frequency is falling. No governors nor load shedding will have responded yet. The frequency falls 0.192 Hz in 0.651 seconds giving a fall rate df/dt of -0.295 Hz/s. From this df/dt result and knowing the lost generation is 310 MW we can derive the system angular momentum M as 1,052 MWs/Hz from -310 = M * -0.295.

It is interesting (and chilling) to calculate how long it would take for blackout to occur if no corrective action is taken to restore system frequency and power balance. 47 Hz is the point where cascade tripping is expected. Most generators cannot operate safely below 47 Hz, and under frequency protection relays disconnect generators to protect them from damage. This sets 47 Hz as the point at which cascade outage and complete grid blackout is likely. A falling frequency of -0.295 Hz/s would only take 10.2 seconds to drop from 50 to 47 Hz. That’s not very long and obviously automated systems are required to arrest the decline. The two common automatic systems that have been in place for decades are governor controlled generators and various levels of load shedding.

The fall arrest between 4 and 5 has been due to automatic load shedding. New Zealand has a number of customers contracted to disconnect load at 49.2 Hz. From these figures we can estimate a net shed load of 214 MW (114 MW + 100 MW).

From 7 to 8 the frequency is increasing with df/dt of 0.111 Hz/s and the system has a surplus of 117 MW of generation. At point 8 the system reached 50 Hz again, but the system then over shoots a little and governor action works to reduce generation to control the overshoot between 8 and 9.

This analysis shows how system inertia, under frequency load shedding and governor action work together to maintain system stability.

Summary: The key points

  • The system needs to be able to maintain stability second by second, every minute, every hour, every day, year after year. Yet when a major disturbance happens, the time available to respond is only a few seconds.
  • This highlights the essential role of system inertia in providing this precious few seconds. System inertia defines the relationship between power imbalance and frequency fall rate. The less inertia the faster the collapse and the less time we have to respond. Nearly all system inertia is provided by synchronous generators.
  • Control of the input power to the generators by governor action is essential to control frequency and power balance, bringing correction to maintain stability. This requires control of prime mover, typically this is only hydro and thermal stations.
  • When the fall rate is too fast for governor response, automatic load shedding can provide a lump of very helpful correction, which the governors later tidy up by fine tuning the response.

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Big Wind Blacklisted

What is wrong with wind farms? Let us count the ways.

Dear Congress, stop subsidizing wind like it’s 1999 and let the tax credit expire is written by Richard McCarty at Daily Torch.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Congress created the production tax credit for wind energy in 1992. In other words, wind turbine owners receive a tax credit for each kilowatt hour of electricity their turbines create, whether the electricity is needed or not. The production tax credit was supposed to have expired in 1999; but, instead, Congress has repeatedly extended it. After nearly three decades of propping up the wind industry, it is past time to let the tax credit expire in 2020.

All Congress needs to do is nothing.

Addressing the issue of wind production tax credits, Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning stated, “Wind energy development is no longer a nascent industry, having grown from 0.7 percent of the grid in 2007 to 6.6 percent in 2018 at 275 billion kWh. The rationale behind the wind production tax credit has always been that it is necessary to attract investors.”

Manning added, “wind energy development has matured to the point where government subsidization of billionaires like Warren Buffett cannot be justified, neither from an energy production standpoint nor a fiscal one. Americans for Limited Government strongly urges Congress to end the Wind Production Tax Credit. The best part is, they only need to do nothing as it expires at the end of the year.”

There are plenty of reasons for ending the tax credit. Here are some of them:

  • Wind energy is unreliable. Wind turbines require winds of six to nine miles per hour to produce electricity; when winds speeds reach approximately 55 miles per hour, turbines shut down to prevent damage to the equipment. Wind turbines also shut down in extremely cold weather.
  • Due to this unreliability, relatively large amounts of backup power capacity must be kept available.
  • Wind energy often requires the construction of costly, new high-voltage transmission lines. This is because some of the best places to generate wind energy are in remote locations far from population centers or offshore.
  • Generating electricity from wind requires much more land than does coal, natural gas, nuclear, or even solar power. According to a 2017 study, generating one megawatt of electricity from coal, natural gas, or nuclear power requires about 12 acres; producing one megawatt of electricity from solar energy requires 43.5 acres; and harnessing wind energy to generate one megawatt of electricity requires 70.6 acres.
  • Wind turbines have a much shorter life span than other energy sources. According to the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the useful life of a wind turbine is 20 years while coal, natural gas, nuclear, and hydroelectric power plants can remain in service for more than 50 years.
  • Wind power’s inefficiencies lead to higher rates for customers.
  • Higher electricity rates can have a chilling effect on the local economy. Increasing electricity rates for businesses makes them less competitive and can result in job losses or reduced investments in businesses.
  • Increasing rates on poor consumers can have an even more negative impact sometimes forcing them to go without heat in the winter or air conditioning in the summer.
  • Wind turbines are a threat to aviators. Wind turbines are a particular concern for crop dusters, who must fly close to the ground to spray crops. Earlier this summer, a crop dusting plane clipped a wind turbine tower and crashed.
  • Wind turbines are deadly for birds and bats, which help control the pest population. Even if bats are not struck by the rotors, some evidence suggests that they may be injured or killed by the sudden drop in air pressure around wind turbines.

Large wind turbines endanger lives, the economy, and the environment. Even after decades of heavy subsidies, the wind industry has failed to solve these problems. For these and other reasons, Congress should finally allow the wind production tax credit to expire.

Richard McCarty is the Director of Research at Americans for Limited Government Foundation.

Update August 16, 2019

nzrobin commented regarding more technical detail about managing grid reliability.  A new post is a synopsis of his series on the subject On Stable Electric Power: What You Need to Know

EU Update: Pipelines and Pipe Dreams

Daniel Markind writes at Forbes The Nord Stream 2 Pipeline And The Dangers Of Moving Too Rashly Toward Renewable Energy. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Few Americans likely noticed last week that Denmark refused to grant a permit for finishing construction of the Russian natural gas pipeline Nord Stream 2, but its international significance is enormous. Denmark’s refusal is the latest chapter in a story of how good intentions in fighting climate change go bad. It is a cautionary tale of how a country – in this case, Germanywhile seeking to make itself and its energy use cleaner, more efficient and more self-sufficient, can produce the opposite of all three. As climate change becomes more of an issue in America heading into the 2020 election season, Nord Stream 2 provides a case study of the potential peril we face when our desire to switch as rapidly as possible to cleaner energy overwhelms current scientific, technological, political and economic realities.

The back story of Nord Stream 2 involves the desire of Germany to be the world leader in clean energy. In 2010, Germany embarked on a program called “Energiewende” – meaning literally, energy transition. This was designed to transform the German energy economy from being based on fossil fuels to being based on so-called “renewables”. In practical effect, the German government refused to approve any energy project that did not involve renewable energy. Germany hoped that Energiewende would reduce drastically Germany’s CO2 emissions and also end the country’s reliance on fossil fuels. This would strike a blow both for German energy independence and for the fight against climate change.

It didn’t work. At first the country’s CO2 emissions fell, but Germany never was able to generate enough reliable renewable energy to sustain itself. Instead, partially because it had not properly planned for its energy needs during the transition period to full renewable energy, Germany had to fall back on coal produced in the former Communist Eastern part. Ironically, the renewed reliance on this coal, called “lignite”, only made Germany’s short-term pollution problems worse, as lignite is a peculiarly dirty form of coal. By 2015, despite closing nuclear power plants and preventing new fossil fuel energy investment, Germany’s CO2 emissions started again to increase. They eventually dropped in 2018, but few are confident that decrease will continue.

Worse still, prices for German energy kept soaring, becoming among the highest in Europe. Simultaneously, Germany’s energy needs became more dependent on natural gas from Russia. Mainly for political reasons, Russia hardly is a reliable energy source. It certainly is not an environmentally conscious one. Instead of making Germany more self-reliant and a world clean energy leader, Energiewende actually drove Germany further into the arms of Russia. In addition, it otherwise thwarted Germany’s goal of a rapid renewable energy transition.

Had it been available, a more attractive and environmentally beneficial choice for Germany would have been imports of abundant, readily available, and above all relatively clean natural gas from the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia – at least on an interim basis until renewable energy transition could catch up to the political and economic realities. While there is more than enough gas in Appalachia and Northeastern Pennsylvania to export overseas to places like Germany and not delete supplies for domestic usage, American energy politics have prevented the needed pipeline and export infrastructure from being built. Simply put, without approved pipelines, the gas has no way to get from the point of production to ports where it can be shipped overseas. The Philadelphia area, which could be a center for the energy industry and for breaking Russia’s gas energy monopoly on Europe, remains woefully oblivious even of its possibilities.

The result is that instead of having natural gas transported to Germany from a NATO ally that drills and transports using stringent environmental safeguards, Germany now relies on Russia, a country that drills in a sensitive Arctic ecosystem with few environmental limitations. The money that could have gone to American companies, landowners and taxes goes instead to Gazprom, the Russian gas giant.

This still is not the end of the story. Germany receives its natural gas via pipelines that traverse Ukraine, Poland, and the Baltic States. Indeed the revenue to Ukraine for allowing transshipments of gas from Russia to Germany via existing overland pipelines within Ukraine’s borders constitutes over 2% of the total Ukrainian GDP. That mostly will end when Nord Stream 2 becomes operational. Nord Stream 2 will bypass the current overland route. That would largely cut out Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic States – all important United States and Western Europe allies.

Last July at the annual NATO summit, President Trump publicly excoriated German Chancellor Angela Merkel over Nord Stream 2. She rebuffed him, insisting on making her country more susceptible to Russian control while also upsetting other NATO allies. With the Nord Stream 2 pipeline currently 70% built and with the Ukrainian-Russian transshipment contract ending in 2020, it looked like all systems go.

Then Denmark stepped in. One of four countries that needs to approve the Nord Stream 2 pipeline route as it passed through Denmark’s territorial waters in the Baltic Sea, the Danes refused to grant the final permits. They demanded the pipeline be moved farther away from the country. At the least, based on published projections that may even understate the impacts, Denmark’s decision means an additional cost of €740M and an eight month delay, going beyond the end date for the current Ukrainian transit contract. This now will need to be extended, giving some consolation to Ukraine.

Still, Nord Stream 2 likely will be completed eventually, and by the same Europeans who routinely preach the loudest about climate change.

It appears to be a loser in every way a pipeline can.

Nord Stream 2 ties Germany closer to Russia, puts more money in the pockets of Gazprom, increases incentives for Russian President Vladimir Putin to ratchet up his environmentally unsound natural gas drilling in and transporting from the Arctic, gives Russia more ability to blackmail the West using its natural gas weapon, cuts out Western-leaning countries in Eastern Europe from needed revenue, and keeps money and investment out of the United States where it could go via exports from the Marcellus Shale deposits.

As always, reasonable people can argue about the wisdom of building new fossil fuel infrastructure when we hope to switch to renewables. However, given the current state of scientific knowledge and of world affairs, failure to do so also has real world adverse environmental, economic and political consequences.

To anyone serious about renewables and reducing our world-wide carbon footprint, the story of Energiewende and Nord Stream 2 should be studied carefully. Our desire to do something good for the planet cannot overwhelm our common sense and world realities. We must be very clear-eyed about how soon and how efficiently we can, in fact, switch from a carbon based energy infrastructure to one based entirely on renewable resources. The Danes just dealt Nord Stream 2 a temporary setback, but the only real winners from the Nord Stream 2 saga long term will be people in Moscow whose concern for the environment certainly is not equal to those who enacted Energiewende or who fight in the United States to stop oil and gas pipeline construction. This surely is not the result anyone in the West would have desired, nor is it good for the future of the planet.

Daniel Markind is a shareholder at Flaster Greenberg PC who practices in Energy, Real Estate, Corporate, and Aviation Law. He can be reached at daniel.markind@flastergreenberg.com.

Forget IPCC: Energy Industry Cuts Emissions, Nations Don’t

Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely writes at Town Hall Wait…Who’s Trying to Beat Climate Change?

Well, there goes the justification for Green Socialism and Nationalizing Energy Supply. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The energy industry is waging war against climate change – and winning.

Last week, the Environmental Partnership, a group of oil and gas firms dedicated to cutting greenhouse gas emissions, released its first annual progress report. The results are impressive — and showcase what happens when an industry unites to further the public good.

The Environmental Partnership launched in late 2017 with 26 members. Within 12 months, it more than doubled in size to 58 members — including 32 of America’s top 40 oil and gas producers. Today, its members account for nearly half of America’s oil and natural gas production.

The group focuses on cutting emissions of methane and other greenhouse gases known as “volatile organic compounds.” Without proper monitoring and maintenance, these gases can escape from drilling rigs and pipelines and contribute to global warming.

Even before the partnership formed, firms were spending millions to reduce their carbon footprints. Methane emissions have plummeted in America’s largest energy-rich basins, even as oil and gas production has spiked.  

Production at the Appalachia Basin, which spans from Alabama to Maine, rose more than 380 percent from 2011 to 2017 — yet methane emissions dropped 70 percent. Texas’s Eagle Ford Basin, meanwhile, produced 130 percent more oil and gas, but released 65 percent less methane.  And the Permian Basin, split between Texas and New Mexico, doubled production while decreasing emissions by almost 40 percent.

But firms in the Environmental Partnership weren’t satisfied with that progress. They sought to slash emissions even further.

First, the partnership focused on updating outdated technology like high-bleed pneumatic controllers. Pneumatic controllers regulate temperature, pressure, and liquid levels at natural gas sites by opening or closing valves. To operate these valves, the controllers rely on pressurized natural gas. As their name suggests, high-bleed pneumatic controllers can release relatively large amounts of natural gas, along with methane and VOC byproducts, into the air.  

The Environmental Partnership plans to replace all high-bleed pneumatic controllers in five years. And it’s well on its way to doing so. It replaced, retrofitted, or removed more than 28,000 prior to 2018 and an additional 3,000 last year. As a result, nearly 40 participating firms don’t use high-bleed controllers at all.

Second, the partnership set out to curb methane leaks – which can sometimes happen as firms extract, store, and burn natural gas. Methane is both a potent greenhouse gas and the main ingredient in natural gas. Participating companies conducted more than 156,000 surveys across 78,000 production sites, inspecting more than 56 million individual parts.

After its thorough inspections and repairs, the Environmental Partnership found that just 0.16 percent of industry parts contained leaks — and member firms repaired 99 percent of those in 60 days or less.
Participating firms also worked to better monitor liquid removal from natural gas wells. When too much liquid, mostly consisting of water, builds up within gas wells, firms manually direct the liquid to vents that bring it to surface. During that process, methane or volatile organic compounds can potentially escape into the atmosphere.

Over the course of 2018, the Environmental Partnership oversaw more than 130,000 manual removals to ensure environmentally safe execution.

In addition to these three initiatives, the Environmental Partnership held numerous conferences and workshops across the country to share best practices and new technologies. These conferences featured energy experts, regulators, and academics.

These meetings amount to more than feel-good powwows. The Environmental Partnership has spurred America’s largest energy producers to take a good, hard look at their operations, pinpoint the need for critical changes, and execute those reforms.

Methane emissions from natural gas systems fell over 14 percent between 1990 and 2017. The Environmental Partnership’s initiatives will undoubtedly cut these emissions even further. According to the EPA’s own estimates, reducing methane leaks and replacing high-bleed controllers can slash emissions by 40 and 60 percent, respectively.

Energy firms are weaponizing their data and tools for the common good. Let’s hope they keep up the fight in the war against climate change.

Paul E. Vallely is a retired U.S. Army major general who serves as a senior military analyst for Fox News. Gen. Vallely is the founder and chairman of Stand Up America, a public policy research organization committed to national security and energy independence.

 

LA Times Misreports Mexican Energy Realism

 

Emily Green writes at LA Times Alternative energy efforts in Mexico slow as Lopez Obrador prioritizes oil. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The title of the article is not wrong, as we shall see below. But as usual climatists leave out the reality so obvious in the pie chart above. Seeing which energy sources are driving his nation’s prosperity provides the missing context for understanding the priorities of Mexican President Andres Lopez Obrador

The alarmist/activist hand-wringing is in full display:

With its windy valleys and wide swaths of desert, Mexico has some of the best natural terrain to produce wind and solar energy. And, in recent years, the country has attracted alternative energy investors from across the globe.

An aerial view of the Villanueva photovoltaic power plant in the municipality of Viesca, Coahuila state, Mexico. The plant covers an area the size of 40 football fields making it the largest solar plant in the Americas. (Alfredo Estrella / AFP/Getty Images)

But the market has taken a step back under Mexico’s new president, who has made clear his priority is returning Mexico’s oil company to its former dominance.

Since taking office Dec. 1, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has canceled a highly anticipated electricity auction, as well as two major transmission-line projects that would have transported power generated by renewable energy plants around the country. He has also called for more investment in coal, and stood by as his director of Mexico’s electric utility dismissed wind and solar energy as unreliable and expensive.

It’s too soon to forecast the long-term consequences, but business leaders and energy consultants are seeing a trend: a chilling in the country’s up-and-coming renewable energy market.

Further on we get the usual distortions and misdirection: Renewables capacities and low prices are cited ignoring the low actual production and intermittancy mismatch with actual needs.

Energy and oil remain sensitive topics in Mexico, where people still recall the glory days of state-owned oil company Pemex, when it was the country’s economic lifeblood. There’s even a day commemorating Mexico’s 1938 nationalization of its oil and mineral wealth.

In recent years, however, Mexico’s energy market has undergone a transformation and reached out to investors. In 2014, Lopez Obrador’s predecessor, Enrique Peña Nieto, fully opened up the country’s oil, gas and electricity sector to private investment for the first time in 70 years.

The effects were immediate. In the oil sector, companies such as ExxonMobil and Chevron clamored to explore large deposits that had once been the sole purview of Pemex.

On the electricity side, the reform led to billions of dollars in private investment in Mexico’s power sector, both in renewable energy and traditional sources such as natural gas.

Through a series of auctions, Mexico’s state-owned utility awarded long-term power contracts to private developers. Although the auctions were open to all energy technologies, wind and solar companies won the bulk of the contracts because they offered among the lowest prices in the world. Solar developers won contracts to generate electricity in Mexico at around $20 per megawatt-hour, according to the government. Industry sources said that is about half the going price for coal and gas.

The country’s wind generation capacity jumped from 2,360 megawatts at the end of 2014 to 5,382 megawatts this April, according to the Mexican wind energy association. The numbers were even more stark in solar, which soared from 166 megawatts of capacity in 2014 to 2,900 megawatts in April, according to the Mexican solar energy association.

Virtue Signalling is an Expensive Way to Run an Economy

The electricity auctions were also seen as the main vehicle for Mexico to reach its clean energy commitments made as part of the Paris climate accord to produce 35% of its electricity from clean energy sources by 2024, and 50% by 2050. Under Mexico’s definition, clean energy sources include solar and wind generation, as well as sources that some critics say aren’t environmentally friendly — such as hydroelectric dams, nuclear energy and efficient natural gas plants. Currently, 24% of Mexico’s electricity comes from clean energy sources.

Summary

Note that for true believers, no energy is “clean” except wind and solar. And Mexico is another example of how renewables cannibalize your electrical grid while claiming to be cheaper than FF sources and saving the planet from the plant food gas CO2. Meanwhile those two “zero carbon” sources provide only 2% of the energy consumed, despite the billions invested.

I get the impression that ALO is much smarter than AOC.
See Also

Exaggerating Green Energy Supply

Cutting Through the Fog of Renewable Power Costs

Superhuman Renewables Targets

 

 

 

The End of Wind and Solar Parasites

Norman Rogers writes at American Thinker What It Will Take for the Wind and Solar Industries to Collapse. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The solar electricity industry is dependent on federal government subsidies for building new capacity. The subsidy consists of a 30% tax credit and the use of a tax scheme called tax equity finance. These subsidies are delivered during the first five years.

For wind, there is subsidy during the first five to ten years resulting from tax equity finance. There is also a production subsidy that lasts for the first ten years.

The other subsidy for wind and solar, not often characterized as a subsidy, is state renewable portfolio laws, or quotas, that require that an increasing portion of a state’s electricity come from renewable sources. Those state mandates result in wind and solar electricity being sold via profitable 25-year power purchase contracts. The buyer is generally a utility with good credit. The utilities are forced to offer these terms in order to cause sufficient supply to emerge to satisfy the renewable energy quotas.

The rate of return from a wind or solar investment can be low and credit terms favorable because the investors see the 25-year contract by a creditworthy utility as a guarantee of a low risk of default. If the risk were to be perceived as higher, then a higher rate of return and a higher interest rate on loans would be demanded. That in turn would increase the price of the electricity generated.

The bankruptcy of PG&E, the largest California utility, has created some cracks in the façade. A bankruptcy judge has ruled that cancellation of up to $40 billion in long-term energy contracts is a possibility. These contracts are not essential or needed to preserve the supply of electricity because they are mostly for wind or solar electricity supply that varies with the weather and can’t be counted on. As a consequence, there has to exist and does exist the necessary infrastructure to supply the electricity needs without the wind or solar energy.

Probably the judge will be overruled for political reasons, or the state will step in with a bailout. Utilities have to keep operating, no matter what. Ditching wind and solar contracts would make California politicians look foolish because they have long touted wind and solar as the future of energy.

PG&E is in bankruptcy because California applies strict liability for damages from forest fires started by electric lines, no matter who is really at fault. Almost certainly the government is at fault for not anticipating the danger of massive fires and for not enforcing strict fire prevention and protection. Massive fire damage should be protected by insurance, not by the utility, even if the fire was started by a power line. The fire in question could just as well have been started by lightning or a homeless person. PG&E previously filed bankruptcy in 2001, also a consequence of abuse of the utility by the state government.

By far the most important subsidy is the renewable portfolio laws. Even if the federal subsidies are reduced, the quota for renewable energy will force price increases to keep the renewable energy industry in business, because it has to stay in business to supply energy to meet the quota. Other plausible methods of meeting the quota have been outlawed by the industry’s friends in the state governments. Nuclear and hydro, neither of which generates CO2 emissions, are not allowed. Hydro is not strictly prohibited — only hydro that involves dams and diversions. That is very close to all hydro. Another reason hydro is banned is that environmental groups don’t like dams.

For technical reasons, an electrical grid cannot run on wind or solar much more than 50% of the time. The fleet of backup plants must be online to provide adjustable output to compensate for erratic variations in wind or solar. Output has to be ramped up to meet early-evening peaks. Wind suffers from a cube power law, meaning that if the wind drops by 10%, the electricity drops by 30%. Solar suffers from too much generation in the middle of the day and not enough generation to meet early evening peaks in consumption.

When a “too much generation” situation happens, the wind or solar has to be curtailed. That means that the operators are told to stop delivering electricity. In many cases, they are not paid for the electricity they could have delivered. Some contracts require that they be paid according to a model that figures out how much they could have generated according to the recorded weather conditions. The more wind and solar, the more curtailments as the amount of erratic electricity approaches the allowable limits. Curtailment is an increasing threat, as quotas increase, to the financial health of wind and solar.

There is a movement to include batteries with solar installations to move excessive middle-of-the-day generation to the early evening. This is a palliative to extend the time before solar runs into the curtailment wall. The batteries are extremely expensive and wear out every five years.

Neither wind nor solar is competitive without subsidies. If the subsidies and quotas were taken away, no wind or solar operation outside very special situations would be built. Further, the existing installations would continue only as long as their contracts are honored and they are cash flow–positive. In order to be competitive, without subsidies, wind or solar would have to supply electricity for less than $20 per megawatt-hour, the marginal cost of generating the electricity with gas or coal. Only the marginal cost counts, because the fossil fuel plants have to be there whether or not there is wind or solar. Without the subsidies, quotas, and 25-year contracts, wind or solar would have to get about $100 per megawatt-hour for its electricity. That gap, between $100 and $20, is a wide chasm only bridged by subsidies and mandates.

The cost of using wind and solar for reducing CO2 emissions is very high. The most authoritative and sincere promoters of global warming loudly advocate using nuclear, a source that is not erratic, does not emit CO2 or pollution, and uses the cheapest fuel. One can buy carbon offsets for 10 or 20 times less than the cost of reducing CO2 emissions with wind or solar. A carbon offset is a scheme where the buyer pays the seller to reduce world emissions of CO2. This is done in a variety of ways by the sellers.

The special situations where wind and solar can be competitive are remote locations using imported oil to generate electricity. In those situations, the marginal cost of the electricity may be $200 per megawatt-hour or more. Newfoundland comes to mind — for wind, not solar.

Maintenance costs for solar are low. For wind, maintenance costs are high, and major components, such as propeller blades and gearboxes, may fail, especially as the turbines age. These heavy and awkward objects are located hundreds of feet above ground. There exists a danger that wind farms will fail once the inflation-protected subsidy of $24 per megawatt-hour runs out after ten years. At that point, turbines that need expensive repairs may be abandoned. Wind turbine graveyards from the first wind fad in the 1970s can be seen near Palm Springs, California. Wind farms can’t receive the production subsidy unless they can sell the electricity. That has resulted paying customers to “buy” the electricity.

Tehachapi’s dead turbines.

A significant financial risk is that the global warming narrative may collapse. If belief in the reality of the global warming threat collapses, then the major intellectual support for renewable energy will collapse. It is ironic that the promoters of global warming are campaigning to require companies to take into account the threat of global warming in their financial projections. If the companies do this in an honest manner, they also have to take into account the possibility that the threat will evaporate. My own best guess, after considerable technical study, is that it is near a sure thing that the threat of global warming is imaginary and largely invented by the people who benefit. Adding CO2 to the atmosphere has well understood positive effects for the growth of crops and the greening of deserts.

The conservative investors who make long-term investments in wind or solar may be underestimating the risks involved. For example, an article in Chief Investment Officer magazine stated that CalPERS, the giant California public employees retirement fund, is planning to expand investments in renewable energy, characterized as “stable cash flowing assets.” That article was written before the bankruptcy of PG&E. The article also stated that competition among institutional investors for top yielding investments in the alternative energy space is fierce.

Wind and solar are not competitive and never will be. They have been pumped up into supposedly solid investments by means of ill advised subsidies and mandates. At some point, the governments will wake up to the waste and foolishness involved. At that point, the value of these investments will collapse. It won’t be the first time that investment experts made bad investments because they don’t really understand what is going on.

Footnote:  There is also a report from GWPF on environmental degradation from industrial scale wind and solar:

Greens Are Nuclear Power Deniers

Interesting Engineering reports news about the power of Nuclear energy in the Arctic Russia Gives the Green Light to Its Floating Nuclear Power Plant to Begin Work.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Imagine a massive nuclear power plant. Now picture that massive power plant floating out at sea. And then you have the Akademik Lomonosov.

The Akademik Lomonosov is precisely that, a floating nuclear power plant, run by the Russian State Nuclear Energy Corporation, or Rosatom, as it is more easily abbreviated.

The Akademik Lomonosov is not the first of its kind to start work offshore. Back in the 1960s, the US converted WWII war ship, originally the Liberty ship, was converted into a nuclear power plant, renamed the Sturgis. The Sturgis ended its working days in 1976.

Today, the Akademik Lomonosov has quite some power behind it.

Equipped with two KLT-40S reactor units, each able to generate 35 megawatt of power, it has some power behind it. With this power wattage it could essentially provide enough electricity to power a town of up to 100,000 people.

This is especially useful for a massive country such as Russia, with some extremely off-the-beaten-track towns in the North and Far East, as well as offshore oil and gas platforms owned by the country.

With this nuclear power plant, these far-to-reach spots could finally have electricity.

Rosatom’s subsidiary stated in a press release: “Rosenergoatom (Rosatom’s electric power division) has been authorized to use the nuclear facility of floating nuclear power plant Akademik Lomonosov for 10 years, until 2029.”

Allegedly, the floating power plant’s life span is up to 40 years, which could be prolonged to 50 years. 10 years hardly seems a stretch at this stage.

CNN picks up the story and spins it with help from Greenpeace (still mad at Russia for jailing their eco-terrorists).Russia plans to tow a nuclear power station to the Arctic. Critics dub it a ‘floating Chernobyl’ Excerpts in italics with my bolds

The Admiral Lomonosov will be the northernmost operating nuclear plant in the world, and it’s key to plans to develop the region economically. About 2 million Russians reside near the Arctic coast in villages and towns similar to Pevek, settlements that are often reachable only by plane or ship, if the weather permits. But they generate as much as 20% of country’s GDP and are key for Russian plans to tap into the hidden Arctic riches of oil and gas as Siberian reserves diminish.

The Lomonosov platform was dubbed “Chernobyl on Ice” or “floating Chernobyl” by Greenpeace even before the public’s revived interest in the 1986 catastrophe thanks in large part to the HBO TV series of the same name.

Rosatom, the state company in charge of Russia’s nuclear projects, has been fighting against this nickname, saying such criticism is ill founded.

“It’s totally not justified to compare these two projects. These are baseless claims, just the way the reactors themselves operate work is different,” said Vladimir Iriminku, Lomonosov’s chief engineer for environmental protection. “Of course, what happened in Chernobyl cannot happen again…. And as it’s going to be stationed in the Arctic waters, it will be cooling down constantly, and there is no lack of cold water.”

The idea itself is not new — the US Army used a small nuclear reactor installed on a ship in the Panama Canal for almost a decade in the 1960s. For civil purposes, an American energy company PSE&G commissioned a floating plant to be stationed off the coast of New Jersey, but the project was halted in the 1970s due to public opposition and environmental concerns.

At Real Clear Science Ross Pomeroy’s discusses the main distortions told by Greens The 3 Biggest Myths About Nuclear Power.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Earlier this year, an enormous confinement structure was completed and commissioned to seal away the highly radioactive ruins of Chernobyl’s number four nuclear reactor, a permanent reminder of the awesome – and potentially terrible – power of nuclear energy. More recently, Home Box Office (HBO) broadcast an even more penetrating reminder – the network’s television show Chernobyl garnered rave reviews and enthralled a wide audience. Nuclear power has once again been thrust to the forefront of society’s collective thoughts.

That makes this a great opportunity to shine the light of evidence on an issue clouded by confusion. For its rare, yet resonating disasters, nuclear energy prompts fear. But is that fear warranted?

Here are three common myths about nuclear power:

Myth #1. Nuclear is dangerous. In the minds of many, the examples of Three Mile Island, Fukushima-Daiichi, and Chernobyl, are enough to cement this statement as fact. But a full and rational examination of nuclear’s operational history swiftly dispels this common myth. As a variety of different analyses have shown, even when you factor in nuclear’s memorable accidents, it is vastly safer than any fossil fuel energy source. A NASA study in 2013 reported that “nuclear power prevented an average of over 1.8 million net deaths worldwide between 1971-2009” by displacing fossil fuel-based power stations and their associated dangers for miners, workers, and the general public. Nuclear may even be safer than renewable energy sources like wind and solar, as it reduces the need for hazardous mining.

All over the world, for decades, nuclear power has been producing emission-free energy quietly and consistently with vastly fewer ill effects compared to conventional power sources like coal and natural gas.

Myth #2. Nuclear waste is an unsolvable problem. Nuclear energy results in radioactive waste in the form of spent fuel rods – a big drawback. But did you know that coal plants actually produce more radioactive waste during their operation? Currently, more than 90,000 metric tons of nuclear waste (which would fill a football field twenty meters deep) are stored at more than a hundred sites around the United States, a workable but undesirable situation. However, that waste could be safely locked away in Yucca Mountain, a remote site in the Nevada desert situated on federal land. Political maneuvering has kept the site in limbo for decades, however. In the meantime, startups with high-profile backers like Bill Gates are racing to develop new forms of nuclear power that can actually recycle that waste, and there’s no technical reason to think that they won’t eventually succeed.

With a half-life as long as 24,000 years, nuclear waste may seem like a permanent problem, but it’s nothing that we can’t handle.

Myth #3. Nuclear is prohibitively expensive. No doubt you’ve heard or read numerous accounts about nuclear power plants shutting down or even being canceled in the process of construction for being too expensive. It’s true, in some locations, the landscape of electricity generation makes nuclear unprofitable, but in most locations, nuclear power is doing just fine.

Though renewable energy proponents insist that wind and solar are all that is needed to power the future, current reality does not back that assertion. While cheap and growing cheaper, wind and solar are intermittent and thus require some sort of grid storage in order to provide power all the time. Gigantic batteries are the most likely option. But this technology is nowhere near ready yet, presents its own environmental hazards, and will likely be very costly.

On the other hand, nuclear could readily provide the baseload power our grid needs to provide electricity around the clock.

Footnote: See also Greens Killing Electricity, Nuclear In Decline

 

Climate Zealots Throw Sand into Energy Supply

Roger Conrad reports on how the US energy infrastructure is hobbled by climate activists empowered by funds and lawyers. His article at Forbes is Best Bets On Pipeline Politics. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

It seems like a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. But barely two years back, permits for new US oil and especially natural gas pipelines were basically a formality.

Back then, the only US pipeline facing significant regulatory hurdles was TC Energy Corp’s (TRP) proposed Keystone XL pipeline to bring Alberta oil sands to US markets. And on the day the Obama Administration rejected that project for the final time, officials actually approved two oil pipelines elsewhere.

Everything changed following the November 2016 presidential election. Congress’ failure in 2016 to fill empty seats on the five-member Federal Energy Regulatory Commission led to the lack of quorum in early 2017.

New approvals ground to a halt for nearly six months. That gave “keep it in the ground” advocates precious time to tap into record fundraising, fueled by a groundswell of opposition to Trump Administration policies.

One result has been legal challenges to projects on an unprecedented scale at multiple venues. Work on Enbridge Inc’s (ENB, ENB) Line 3 pipeline expansion, for example, is now completed in Canada as well as North Dakota and Wisconsin.

Project suspended in June 2017.

Courts, however, have overturned Minnesota regulators’ prior approval of the project’s Environmental Impact Statement. That’s forced officials to go through the process again, delaying completion at least until the second half of 2020.

We’ve also seen a decided shift to more restrictive energy politics in several states, notably Colorado. Others like New York have dug in further in refusing to grant water permits from long-delayed projects like the Constitution Pipeline. That’s triggered warnings of prospective natural gas shortages from New York City’s distribution utility Consolidated Edison ED +0% (ED), which is restricting new customer additions.

Time equals money when it comes to multi-year, multi-billion dollar projects. Bloomberg Intelligence estimates a $2.75 million cost increase per mile of planned pipeline for every one-quarter delay in construction. The projected final cost of the Line 3 expansion, for example, is already billions higher than initial estimates.

Consequently, the game being played by pipeline opponents is to delay. That means mounting enough challenges to ramp up costs and ultimately convince developers to walk away. And for the first time, they have the funds to do the job.

Project abandoned in April 2016.

Opponents have been particularly successful quashing projects in New England and the Northeast US. To date, they’ve failed in Texas, where several giant pipelines are under construction. Kinder Morgan KMI +0% Inc (KMI) has one major gas pipeline from the Permian Basin coming on full stream later this year. It has another next year and a third in early stages of development.

Ground zero now in pipeline politics is the struggle of two projects in the Middle Atlantic/Southeast US to cross the Appalachian Trail: The Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

These projects’ ultimate success or failure will have a huge impact on the long-term profitability of Appalachia-based gas and oil producers, which are sitting on huge reserves in the Marcellus and Utica shale. Ironically, the longer they’re delayed, the greater demand will be for Texas energy and by extension new pipelines in the state.

That will benefit Texas developers like Kinder Morgan and Plains All-American Pipeline (PAA), which is focused on oil. And it will hit pipeline companies in the East like EQM Midstream Partners LP (EQM), which faces a massive writeoff if the Mountain Valley Pipeline can’t win through.

To be sure, natural gas development especially still has plenty of support in the US. Replacing older coal-fired facilities with gas, for example, reduces operating costs and electricity rates. New plants increase utilities’ rate base, spurring earnings and dividend growth. And the prospective environmental benefits are enormous, cutting future legal liabilities.

Gas emits none of coal’s particulate matter, which is blamed for a host of respiratory woes. It emits no acid rain gases that have caused billions in property damage and creates no toxic ash.

As for carbon dioxide, equivalent sized gas power plants emit less than half what coal does. In fact, gas adoption is the single biggest reason America is still meeting greenhouse gas commitments under the Paris Accords. Finally, surging US energy production has dramatically shifted global energy politics, demonstrated by the relative lack of reaction in oil prices to elevated tensions in the Persian Gulf.

During the Obama years, those facts were more than enough to hold together a consensus for US natural gas development. And the result was a relatively easy path for pipeline approvals.

These days, that’s not enough for pipelines to succeed. The silver lining is the more difficult it becomes to build, the more valuable existing infrastructure and ultimately successful projects will be.

In the days when pipeline approvals were swift, any company raising funds economically could get projects built. These days, would-be developers need to be financially and operationally strong enough to handle legal challenges wherever they occur.

Footnote:  The Climatist Manifesto

Mission: Deindustrialize Civilization

Goal: Drive industrial corporations into Bankruptcy

Strategy: Cut off the Supply of Cheap, Reliable Energy

Tactics:

  • Raise the price of fossil fuels
  • Force the power grid to use expensive, unreliable renewables
  • Demonize Nuclear energy
  • Spread fear of extraction technologies such as fracking
  • Increase regulatory costs on energy production
  • Scare investors away from carbon energy companies
  • Stop pipelines because they are too safe and efficient
  • Force all companies to account for carbon usage and risk

See Also Why People Rely on Pipelines

Payback Upon Climate Grasshoppers

 

 

Greens Killing Electricity, Nuclear In Decline

Green energy initiatives are steadily undermining the electrical grid essential to modern society. Coal-fired power is often termed “Climate Enemy #1”, but the War on Nuclear Energy started much earlier and has been more successful. This century is seeing many NPP closures, and almost none constructed.

The problem is that Nuclear plants produce neither dispatchable nor nondispatachable power. Capital costs are high while variable costs of nuclear electricity are very low, and plants have long 30 to 40 year lifetimes. Nuclear is economic as a base load producer of reliable electricity 24/7. It is not intermittent like wind and solar, and not very flexible like coal, gas or hydro to ramp up or down to meet changing demand. As we shall see, public policies as well as markets are now skewed in favor of wind and solar. The deck is stacked against Nuclear, and base load supply to electrical grids is threatened, not to mention dreams of zero carbon power production.

Update June 5, 2019 Ohio House passes bill to save nuclear power plants with Democrats Support Reuters

Update May 31, 2019 at bottom Democrats’ Curious Disdain for Nuclear Power

Background: War on Nuclear Power

From Environmental Progress, excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Nuclear has declined as a share of global electricity since 1995, and in absolute terms since 2006.

Nuclear’s underlying problem has to do with the well-funded and well-organized war against it that began in the 1960s.

Anti-nuclear groups opposed nuclear for being abundant and cheap and sought to make it expensive and scarce.

Anti-nuclear groups and individuals have consistently advocated coal and natural gas instead of nuclear for 40 years, and often accept contributions from fossil and other energy companies.

Even though nuclear is the safest way to make reliable electricity, it is regulated as though it is the most dangerous.

Opponents of nuclear have won large federal subsidies for wind and solar that have been in place for a quarter-century, and state clean energy mandates that explicitly exclude nuclear.

While it is tempting to blame low natural gas prices and misplaced post-Fukushima jitters, nuclear’s troubles are rooted in regulatory capture — a capture that finds its genesis in the origins of the U.S. environmental movement. This capture is now threatening to bring this climate-friendly energy source to the brink.

Everywhere the underlying reason is the same: anti-nuclear forces, in tandem with rent-seeking economic interests, have captured government policies. On one extreme lies Germany, which decided to speed up the closure of its nuclear plants following Fukushima. In Sweden the government imposed a special tax on nuclear. In the U.S., solar and wind are far more heavily subsidized than nuclear. And states across the nation have enacted Renewable Portfolio Standards, RPS, that mandate rising wind and solar, and that exclude nuclear.

In flat contradiction of their stated views that climate change represents an imminent catastrophic threat, anti-nuclear environmentalists from Germany to Illinois to California bless the burning of fossil fuels if it means they can force the closure of a nuclear power plant.

“We don’t need nuclear power,” environmental activist Bill McKibben told an audience at Middlebury in 2014, after a showing of the pro-nuclear documentary “Pandora’s Promise.” The world, he has repeatedly insisted, can be powered entirely on wind, water and solar energies. At the same time, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, whom McKibben endorsed early in the Democratic presidential nomination process, and national environmental groups, were quietly blessing the replacement of Vermont Yankee with natural gas.

The problem with nuclear is that it is unpopular, a victim of a 50 year-long concerted effort by fossil fuel, renewable energy, anti-nuclear weapons campaigners, and misanthropic environmentalists to ban the technology.

The Current Battle to Save Ohio’s Electrical Grid

Jessie Balmert writes in the Cincinnati Enquirer with an obvious bias against nuclear energy and in favor of wind and solar. Energy overhaul: ‘Clean Air Program’ just for nuclear plants, not wind or solar. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

FirstEnergy Solutions, owner and operator of the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station, has cleared a hurdle in its bankruptcy proceedings after U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Alan Koschik on Monday approved FES’ amended reorganization plan. It was the fifth revised plan filed in bankruptcy court by FES. (Photo: File)

COLUMBUS – Ohio Republicans’ energy overhaul started as a thinly veiled attempt to rescue two northern Ohio nuclear plants with new fees on everyone’s electric bills.

Now, the veil is off.

Changes made to House Bill 6 last week would direct most of the $197.6 million collected from new fees on Ohioans’ electric bills to Akron-based FirstEnergy Solutions, which operates two nuclear plants outside Toledo and Cleveland.

Renewable energy companies from wind to solar would not get a cut of this “Ohio Clean Air Program.”

In a double blow, lawmakers also axed current programs that encourage electricity providers to purchase renewable energy and help customers become more energy efficient.

And lawmakers ensured utilities could charge customers a fee for two coal plants operated by Piketon-based Ohio Valley Electric Corporation through 2030. The plants are located in Gallipolis and Madison, Indiana.

The cost of a bailout

The latest version of House Bill 6 would charge Ohioans a $1 fee each month starting in 2021 for nuclear energy. The fee is higher for businesses ($15) and industrial customers ($250 to $2,500). Those fees end after 2026.

The proposal also allows electric companies to charge residents up to $2.50 each month for the two coal plants. This isn’t a new charge for many electricity customers, who are billed between $0.51 and $1.64 a month for these plants thanks to an Ohio Supreme Court decision. (An average Duke Energy Ohio residential customer pays $0.97 a month.)

But the proposed changes would lock that fee in until 2030.

At the same time, the bill eliminates current green energy and energy efficiency requirements, which cost the average customer about $4.39 each month.

Republican lawmakers argued the state shouldn’t be picking winners and losers in the energy market. Meanwhile, the bill has clear winners: nuclear and coal.

“My goal would be we should eventually get rid of all of this stuff and just let everybody compete as best as we can,” said Rep. Nino Vitale, R-Urbana, who leads the committee where the energy bill is being debated.

But the federal government already offers tax credits and benefits to renewable energy, creating an uneven playing field, Vitale said.

“Part of this bill is to correct the distortion – not bail someone out,” Vitale said.

At the heart of the debate is whether Ohio taxpayers should save FirstEnergy Solutions.

The company, which was spun off from parent FirstEnergy Corp., filed for bankruptcy in March 2018 with more than $2.8 billion in debt.

Without help from taxpayers, FirstEnergy Solutions says the company will close its two nuclear plants in Ohio: Davis-Besse, east of Toledo, in May 2020 and Perry, east of Cleveland, in May 2021.

The two plants employ more than 1,300 skilled workers who pay taxes and raise children in northern Ohio.

“We like to produce power in Ohio and use Ohio power,” said Larry Tscherne, business manager for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 245, which represents Davis-Besse workers.

But opponents of the bailout say FirstEnergy made poor business decisions by investing in coal and nuclear plants rather than diversifying its energy portfolio. The company’s financial situation is not Ohio ratepayers’ problem.

Nuclear energy is costly compared to natural gas, coal and some renewable energy. Nuclear plants require security, disaster plans and maintenance that other plants do not. That has made nuclear energy dependent on subsidies to survive nationwide.

“Clean air is obviously good,” testified Michael Haugh with the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel. “But having state government choose outcomes in the competitive marketplace is not good.”

The Case for Nuclear Power from Steffen Henne, head of research for the Center for Industrial Progress.

Q: The Ohio General Assembly is debating a new bill that would subsidize our two nuclear plants to keep them open. Apparently, the plants produce 14 percent of the state’s power. Would shutting them down (as seems likely if the bill fails) almost certainly raise carbon emissions, at least in the short term?

HENNE: This depends on many factors, including how much electricity from other states will be imported and how much new natural gas capacity will replace Ohio’s coal fleet in the coming years to fill the gap. Ohio’s power generation is dominated by natural gas (34 percent) and coal (47 percent) right now. Taking out 14-15 percent of zero-CO2 generation immediately would definitely lead to higher CO2 emissions compared to keeping these power plants alive, even if the absolute emissions might decline over time.

It’s noteworthy that the problems of nuclear and coal power plants to turn a profit are in some significant way rooted in the presence of unreliable solar and wind. Both technologies are able to produce very cheap baseload electricity but in an environment where solar and wind can just produce when the weather is right and every other generator has to adapt to the gluts and shortfalls, the cost this creates are high for nuclear and coal plants, which have been built to run at high capacity constantly. The current nuclear reactors are usually inefficient at what’s called load following because they were not designed to do that. Although solar and wind create the problem, they don’t have to pay for the cost in the current regulatory framework.

To the extent natural gas outcompetes nuclear on fair terms, that’s a different story, but it rarely makes sense to build a new natural gas power plant if the existing nuclear capacity could still do the job. And natural gas still emits more CO2 than existing nuclear power plants in any assessment I have ever seen.

Q: Does nuclear power offer the best hope as a power source that produces energy without carbon emissions and is available 24-7? Are the Generation IV nuclear power plants as promising as their proponents claim?

HENNE: There are really only two major countries that have created affordable, abundant power with low CO2 emissions, France and Sweden, and both have done it by using nuclear technology. You can use wind and solar to some extent and at a high cost, as Denmark has done, but this is not really scalable. Denmark now has the highest electricity prices in Europe together with Germany, in large part because of their focus on wind, and they are dependent on the constant imports and exports of power to stabilize their power grid. Without the availability of large conventional power fleets in their neighborhood, the wind experiment would already be over and Danes would sit in the dark. Germany doesn’t even meet its short-term goals in CO2 emission reductions because their costly scaling of solar and wind is completely insufficient.

Yes, nuclear energy right now is the only way to reduce CO2 by significant margins without ruining the economy, grid reliability, and energy security. That is because of the inherent properties in nuclear technology, which turns an abundantly available raw material into a concentrated energy source that does not emit CO2 from a chemical combustion process.

Generation IV is an umbrella term that applies to a variety of different technologies. It is difficult to judge at this stage which of these technologies will be successful or most successful at delivering the most abundant, affordable, and reliable energy. But some of the concepts are really promising. There are, for example, fast spectrum reactors, which promise to be able to use the “waste” of other nuclear fission reactors as fuel and overall increase efficiency of the fuel. Today’s typical reactors only use a tiny fraction of the energy content in the uranium or other fuels, which means there is huge potential for efficiency increase with innovation. Other innovative approaches seek to circumvent the cost escalations in the current American regulatory and anti-nuclear social framework, which for the industry means large reactors will be delayed for years or even decades, increasing the upfront cost. Small modular reactors, which can be built in a factory instead of requiring extensive on-site work, might be a good option to reduce cost.

All that innovation potential should be exciting news for everyone concerned about CO2 emissions and the availability of affordable energy to advance human flourishing.

Q: What do you make of the fact that green organizations generally oppose nuclear power, and also insist that climate change is an emergency that must be addressed immediately?

HENNE: I think we have to recognize that for organizations like Greenpeace it doesn’t make sense to actually solve a problem. The more abstract and diffuse the doomsday narrative, the better for their business model. Both climate change catastrophism and nuclear catastrophism are really great for them.

There is also an esoteric religious component to it. The reason why wind and solar are the preferred green “solution” is that they are supposedly natural versus the “artificial” splitting of the atom. Facts don’t matter in that narrative. Although nuclear is the safest technology to generate power it is still vilified as poisonous and dangerous.

Solar and wind are not proposed because they are real solutions but because they fit into that religious thinking.

The most immoral part of it is the absolute disregard for human flourishing. If you cannot afford energy, you have no energy. If you don’t have reliable energy, you have no energy. But affordable and reliable energy is probably the most central aspect of our survival and safety, including safety from climate. Over the last 100 years, climate-related deaths plummeted. Not because the climate suddenly became so much better for us, although the mild warming and increasing CO2 over recent decades was certainly beneficial to us, but because we were able to use technology to protect us from a naturally dangerous environment. And that required the caliber of energy that so far only fossil fuels, nuclear technology, and to some extent large-scale hydropower were able to deliver on a scale of billions.

Summation from Michael Schellenberger at Quillette Why Renewables Can’t Save the Planet

The problem with nuclear is that it is unpopular, a victim of a 50 year-long concerted effort by fossil fuel, renewable energy, anti-nuclear weapons campaigners, and misanthropic environmentalists to ban the technology.

In response, the nuclear industry suffers battered wife syndrome, and constantly apologizes for its best attributes, from its waste to its safety.

Lately, the nuclear industry has promoted the idea that, in order to deal with climate change, “we need a mix of clean energy sources,” including solar, wind and nuclear. It was something I used to believe, and say, in part because it’s what people want to hear. The problem is that it’s not true.

France shows that moving from mostly nuclear electricity to a mix of nuclear and renewables results in more carbon emissions, due to using more natural gas, and higher prices, to the unreliability of solar and wind.

Oil and gas investors know this, which is why they made a political alliance with renewables companies, and why oil and gas companies have been spending millions of dollars on advertisements promoting solar, and funneling millions of dollars to said environmental groups to provide public relations cover.

What is to be done? The most important thing is for scientists and conservationists to start telling the truth about renewables and nuclear, and the relationship between energy density and environmental impact.

“Nuclear power is one of the chief long-term hopes for conservation … Cheap energy in unlimited quantities is one of the chief factors in allowing a large rapidly growing population to preserve wildlands, open space, and lands of high scenic value … With energy we can afford the luxury of setting aside lands from productive uses.”

Fifty years of empirical research show that Siri was right and the anti-growth anti-people extremists who started the anti- nuclear movement were wrong. More energy is good for people, and it’s good for nature.

Energy allows cities and agricultural intensification, which frees the countryside for return of forests and wildlife. Moving to nuclear frees us from air pollution, including carbon emissions.

Update May 31, 2019 Democrats’ Curious Disdain for Nuclear Power

Just published at National Review:  Until they embrace nuclear energy as a key to reducing emissions, the party’s many presidential candidates will be hard to take seriously on climate change.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The Democrats’ disdain for nuclear energy deserves attention, because there is no credible pathway toward large-scale decarbonization that doesn’t include lots of it. That fact was reinforced Tuesday, when the International Energy Agency published a report declaring that without more nuclear energy, global carbon dioxide emissions will surge and “efforts to transition to a cleaner energy system will become drastically harder and more costly.”

At the same time that an increasing number of rural communities are fighting the encroachment of large-scale renewable projects, the U.S. is facing a wave of nuclear-reactor retirements. Nine reactors in the U.S. are slated to be retired over the next three years, and the IEA estimates that domestic nuclear capacity could shrink by more than half in the next 20 years. The agency points to the many challenges facing the nuclear sector, including increased regulations, low-cost natural gas, and competition from subsidized renewables.

This is, frankly, one of the biggest and longest-running disconnects in American politics: The leaders of the Democratic party insist that the U.S. must make big cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions because of the threat posed by climate change, but for nearly five decades, they have either ignored or professed outright opposition to nuclear energy. The last time the party’s platform contained a positive statement about nuclear power was way back in 1972.

America’s top Democrats repeatedly tout the need for “clean” energy and massive deployments of wind and solar power, but by denying the role that nuclear energy must play in any successful decarbonization efforts, they are ignoring the scientific consensus. If they truly care about the dangers posed by climate change, they should stand up and tell the truth about the need for nuclear energy. Until that happens, their various plans to address the issue will be impossible to take seriously.

Footnote:

Many do not realize how intermittent power from wind and solar farms cannibalize the electricity supply.  Since wind and solar capacity is subsidized, any actual power they produce gets top priority for consumption, since it has little or no marginal cost to the grid.  So on days when solar power is abundant in the afternoon, it absorbs the high price demand, while base load and dispatchable plants are denied that revenue.  That pattern will drive those plants into bankruptcy, leaving the grid without backup power, unless more subsidies are added to keep them open.

Cynical Climate Politics

Lots of politicians in the US are grinding the climate ax, but the most cynical play of the climate card is on display in Canada. At Financial Post Gwyn Morgan describes how PM Trudeau is relying on global warming to escape electoral disaster in upcoming federal elections. His article: In choosing to mislead Canadians on climate change, the Liberals are basing their election campaign on a known lie. After describing a list of Trudeau missteps and failures widely criticized in the media, Morgan gets into the climate ploy. Excerpts intalics with my bolds.

So how does a government that can’t campaign on its record go about gaining re-election? By building its campaign around an issue where voters can see them as heroes fighting to save the planet against uncaring opponents. That issue is climate change and their weapon to fight it is carbon taxation. Winning re-election with this strategy requires convincing voters there’s a “climate emergency.” And so on April 1, the day the federal carbon tax kicked in on provinces unwilling to impose a tax that met the Liberals’ requirements, the federal Department of Environment and Climate Change released a supposedly independent report claiming “Canada is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world.”

[Note: Friends of Science deconstructed that report in post Climate Change NOT as Advertised, and Ross McKitrick dispelled the logic in Climate Hearsay ]

From now until the election, Canadians will hear Trudeau and his cabinet members blame every weather event, wet, dry, cold or warm on climate change. And the urgent need for a carbon tax to stop it. When the prime minister recently visited flood-ravaged areas in Quebec, he called the floods “the new reality of climate change.” But experts attribute the recent flooding to one of the longest, coldest, highest-snowfall winters on record. Isn’t climate change supposed to be about global warming?

Convincing Canadians of the need for carbon taxation is just the first element of the Liberals’ re-election strategy. Their most powerful — and cynical — tactic is their promise to give most taxpayers a bigger carbon-tax refund than what they will supposedly pay in carbon taxes. How is that possible? The answer is that individuals will get the refunds, while businesses bear the full cost. In other words, tax the job creators and use that money to bribe the voters.

The principal gladiators leading the Liberal carbon-tax forces are Trudeau and his eco-passionate environment minister, Catherine McKenna. The defenders opposing them in the carbon-tax coliseum are the premiers of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick, along with federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer. Scheer will have most of the spears trained on him. McKenna recently accused him of “having no climate plan.” But unlike the Liberals, Scheer’s climate plan needs to be based on the fundamental fact that Canadians could all move to Mars tomorrow and it would have virtually zero impact on global climate change. Here’s why.

Many Canadians have been led to believe (with the help of Liberal misinformation) that oil is a sunset industry. But the consensus of authoritative forecasts sees growth in developing countries pushing world oil demand from the current 100 million barrels per day to at least 110 million by 2030. Here’s the question Canadians should be asking: If world oil demand is going up anyway, why should Canada cede the market for our most important export to Russia, Iran, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia — countries that don’t care about the environment and have horrendous human rights records? At the same time, hundreds of coal-fired power plants are under construction in China, India and Southeast Asia. (Vietnam, one of the smallest countries in that region, has new coal plants under construction that could end up producing more carbon dioxide emissions than all of Canada.)

As good little scout Canada struggles mightily to meet its commitments under the Paris climate accord, the vast majority of nations on the planet have already given up on the pact. Last year, global greenhouse gas emissions grew by an estimated 2.7 per cent. So if Canada’s economy had simply ceased to exist, our 1.6 per cent of global emissions would have been replaced in just seven months.

These are irrefutable facts. So the decision by the Trudeau Liberals to base their election campaign on the assertion that reducing our country’s relatively tiny emissions will help fight climate change can only be explained in one of two ways. First, Trudeau and his team are breathtakingly unaware of facts anyone can learn through an afternoon of Googling. Second, they choose to mislead Canadians in a desperate bid for re-election. That would mean they choose to base their election campaign on a known lie.

So what should Canada actually do about climate change? The clearest answer was recently offered by a man in hip waders, who was filling sandbags to help with the flooding in Central Canada. When he was asked by a reporter what should be done to prevent the floods, he said this: “Well, there’s all this talk about climate change, but I don’t see what Canada can do about that when China and other countries keep burning more. If that’s going to cause more floods, we’d better figure out how we can be ready for them.”

That’s the most common-sense analysis I’ve heard. Instead of throwing away billions of dollars subsidizing costly and impractical “green power” and handing taxpayer money to buyers of electric cars, let’s redirect those billions to risk mitigation and homeowner compensation. In the case of floods, dikes and dams need to be improved where practical. Homeowners in unprotected flood plains should also be offered the full replacement cost to move, as Alberta did after the floods of 2013. After all, it’s flawed government zoning that put people in the flood plain and created the problem; it’s only fair to homeowners that government make things right. Forest-fire risk can be mitigated by underbrush removal, regulatory setback distances and fire-resistant building materials.

A Conservative climate-change mitigation strategy based on the common-sense words of that flood worker would make Canadians much better prepared for climate change. And it has the added benefit of actually telling Canadians the truth about the climate-change challenge. That would be Andrew Scheer’s most important difference from Justin Trudeau.

Gwyn Morgan is the retired founding CEO of Encana Corp.

Footnote:

A master class in exploiting global warming for political gain was portrayed in the British comedy series Yes Prime Minister

Transcript of video is at Yes PM Pokes Fun at Climatism