Cold Fury

Harshing your mellow since 9/01

Flirting with disaster

The New Green Deal…Or Whatever is no laughing matter.

But we don’t need to wait for a foreign adversary or domestic terrorist organization to cripple our energy infrastructure. We can quite effectively do it to ourselves.

In late January, it was very cold in Minnesota. And there wasn’t a lot of wind. Natural gas, also, was in short supply, as a result of pipeline capacity constraints. Xcel Energy urged its gas customers to turn down thermostats and water heaters, and to use electric heaters as necessary. The electricity was coming from primarily coal plants (40 GW) and natural gas plants (about 23 GW)–the gas plants, of course, are also dependent on pipeline capacity.

Also in Minnesota, here’s a large solar farm covered with snow. Wonder if it’s melted or been swept off yet? And here’s a cautionary story from Germany, where long, still, and dim winters do not mix well with wind and solar power generation.

Solar and wind in most parts of the US are now small enough in proportion to overall grid capacity that shortfalls can be made up by the other sources. What happens if they come to represent the majority of the grid’s power capacity–not to mention the exclusive source of capacity, as demanded by some?

It may be feasible to store a few hours of electricity without driving costs out of sight…but what about the situation in which wind and solar are underperforming for several days in a row? Interconnection of sources and demands over a wide area (geographical diversity) can help, but is by no means a comprehensive solution. So far, the gas, coal, and hydro plants have been there to kick in where necessary.

Almost every day, there are assertions that new solar is cheaper than its fossil-fuel equivalents. This may be true in some areas if you ignore the need to match supply and demand on an instantaneous basis. But if the fossil-fuel plants are there to handle only those periods when wind, solar, and limited battery storage aren’t sufficient to meet demand, then the total energy production against which their capital cost is charged will be much lower, and hence, the cost per unit will go up. In some states with net metering, a home or business owner can sell excess power to the grid when loads are low and buy it back at the same unit price when loads are at their maximum. This becomes especially problematic when “renewables” become a major part of the mix. Unless incentives are intelligently crafted–unlikely, given politics–“renewable” sources will effectively be subsidized by conventional sources and potentially make the construction and maintenance of those conventional sources impossible.

Any successful attempt to politically and rapidly drive wind/solar to 50% or more of the total mix…let alone to even higher numbers…is likely to result in vastly increased energy costs which will make American businesses less globally competitive…in addition to the direct imact on homeowners…and will quite likely also result in reduced reliability. But look what is going on in Los Angeles, where Mayor Eric Garcetti wants to shut down 3 natural-gas-fired peaker plants…which produce 2-7 percent of the city’s electricity and are most critical during the hottest days of the year, when demand for air conditioning spikes and power supplies are stretched to the limit…and forbid their replacement by other nat-gas peakers. The plans for replacing this capacity seem rather vague.

The quality of political discussion of energy-related issues is so low as to be abysmal. The interchange between Diane Feinstein was devoid of any discussion of evidence or lack of same related to fossil-fuel-drive climate change, or technological and logistical changes involved in swapping out America’s entire energy infrastructure. It was basically a Children’s Crusade, with the children spurred on by their priests to attack the heathen, and with Feinstein as an arrogant aristocrat, with no arguments other than “I’m the authority and I know best.”

Hey, that argument has always worked for ’em before. In fact, it ain’t merely an “argument”; it’s their governing philosophy entire. Foster goes on to draw the entirely apt analogy with “certain other top-down national efforts” in certain other socialist shitrapies, winding up thusly:

The threat of attacks on energy infrastructure by hostile states and/or by terrorists is indeed a serious one, but so is the danger of energy chaos created by arrogant and clueless politicians, journalists, and ‘celebrities’ of various kinds.

Yep. They’re playing with matches, and we’re all gonna end up getting burned.

Via WRSA, accompanied by a scarifying precursor from Bill Beck.


2 thoughts on “Flirting with disaster

  1. Here in the fourth highest cost state for utilities we can’t make solar affordable for our house. We get a lot of sun (when it is shining). Running the numbers we break even over the 20yr lifespan of the panels IF nothing goes wrong. It has to work at a high level and never break. Not worth the hassle to possibly, but unlikely to break even.

    About this GND and cow farts. Has anybody calculated the amount of human farts if were are all eating beans and lentils? I would not be surprised to find that replacing all meat protein with plant protein just might make more methane, not less.
    But maybe that is the plan to the argue for elimination of people until methane emissions are significantly lowered.
    Also, is there even enough arable land to grow all that protein without using artificial fertilizers (many petroleum dependent)? Another plan to reduce the population?

  2. Update: It can be a laughing matter:
    Me: Part of the deal is to eliminate air travel and replace with trains.
    Wife: Where?
    Me: In the US
    Wife: Immediate ‘that’s ridiculous’ guffaws that went on for a couple of minutes as each pause only gave time to think about it again and laugh some more.
    Me: I told you it was a crazy plan.

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"America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards." – Claire Wolfe, 101 Things to Do 'Til the Revolution

"To put it simply, the Left is the stupid and the insane, led by the evil. You can’t persuade the stupid or the insane and you had damn well better fight the evil." - Skeptic

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