Recently in Energy Category

The price of wind generated electricity

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Interesting article in the London Times:

Too much wind shocks electric bill payers
A record £4.8m was paid to wind farm operators in the space of one day, for switching off turbines when it became too windy.

More than 60 farms — most in Scotland — were compensated after electricity supply outstripped demand on October 8. The bonanza far exceeded the previous reported record of £3.1m, sparking fresh criticism of the Scottish government’s headlong rush towards green energy.

In exceptionally windy conditions, the National Grid cannot cope with the extra energy turbines produce, so firms receive “constraint payments” to shut down. Although most wind power comes from Scotland, households across Britain are funding the payments through their electricity bills.

“The high costs of wind farm constraints result from the Scottish government’s unbalanced enthusiasm for wind power,” said John…

Wind is not profitable without large government subsidies - thanks tax and rate payers... Why people do not go all out for nuclear is beyond me. The designs that have caused problems (Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima) are all old designs. The initial development of these designs was done seventy years ago. There are a lot of new designs that are intrinsically safe - pull the plug and they shut down by themselves. No pressure vessel needed so very cheap to build.

Cool news on the nuclear front

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A two-fer - this first one will have wonderful trickle-down effect for small towns and towns in very remote areas. From the Nuclear Energy Institute:

Micro-Reactors Could Power Remote Military Bases Within a Decade
With more than 70 advanced nuclear reactor projects in various stages of development in the United States alone, there is exciting growth in this field. “Micro-reactors” are one class of these innovative technologies, whose particular attributes hold out special promise to the nation’s largest energy user—the United States military.

Working closely with the reactor vendors and with relevant offices at the U.S. departments of Defense (DOD) and Energy (DOE), the Nuclear Energy Institute this week published a road map laying out the actions needed to ensure the successful deployment of a first-of-a-kind micro-reactor at a domestic defense installation by the end of 2027.

A bit more:

In contrast with the large nuclear reactors in operation all over the world that have a generating capacity of about 1,000 megawatts-electric (MWe), micro-reactors are typically less than 10 MWe in size. These smaller reactor designs are well-suited for transportation to and installation at remote military bases, where they can provide both electricity and heat for years at a time without refueling. They are capable of operating independently of external electricity grids that could be vulnerable to threats, natural and otherwise, in areas where DOD bases operate.

Micro-reactors are thus capable of providing the resilient energy the military needs, providing primary power under normal and emergency conditions and enhancing DOD’s range of operations, endurance, agility and mission assurance.

The key thing here is that the fully fueled core inside of its containment vessel and radioactive shielding is small enough that it can be trucked to the site or flown in on a cargo plane. The cores are not refueled in the field, they are returned to the manufacturer for processing so the on-site maintenance is basically nil.

Second - two excellent postings. From Neutron Bytes:

INL’s Rita Baranwal Nominated to be DOE A/Sec of Nuclear Energy
The Idaho Falls Post Register reported this week that Rita Barta the head of the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) has been nominated to serve as the U.S. Department of Energy’s assistant secretary for nuclear energy.

The White House announced the nomination of Rita Baranwal, who heads GAIN, which DOE created in 2015 to support nuclear startups and help universities, industries and other private groups get nuclear technology to the market more quickly. GAIN is managed by Idaho National Laboratory.

Previously, Baranwal was director of technology development and application at Westinghouse. She was a manager in materials technology at Bechtel Bettis. She led research and development in nuclear fuels materials for U.S. naval reactors.

Two very solid and competent postings. We need people like this to advance the next generation of nuclear power. The designs we are using now were first scribbled onto a cocktail napkin over 60 years ago. Time for some more modern designs.

President Trump and coal power

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We have - as a conservative estimate - about 350 years of known coal reserves in the USA and much more in Canada. Enough to meet our energy needs cheaply and cleanly (with proper scrubbers installed). The CO2 by-product is plant food - without CO2, photosynthesis would simply not happen. President Trump is putting coal back into States hands (as per the Tenth Amendment). From the Christian Science Monitor:

Trump plan rolls back Obama-era coal regulations
The Trump administration on Tuesday came out with new rules scaling back Obama-era constraints on coal-fired power plants, striking at one of the former administration's legacy programs to rein in climate-changing fossil-fuel emissions.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) called the Obama-era regulations on coal power plants "overly prescriptive and burdensome."

The Trump administration plan broadly increases the leeway given states to decide how and how much to regulate coal power plants. The EPA says it "empowers states, promotes energy independence, and facilitates economic growth and job creation."

Combined with the EPA's proposal earlier this month to ease mileage requirements for vehicles, the move may actually increase the country's climate-changing emissions, according to some former top EPA officials, environmental groups, and other opponents.

Good! Time we got back to the era of cheap(er) energy. The one thing that lifts people out of poverty is cheap energy - ( even the New York Times agrees) creates jobs, grows the economy, improves health and wealth. The idea of subsidizing expensive intermittent forms of just because they are "green" is abject stupidity. The billions of dollars wasted on this rat hole will have future generations scratching their heads.

From Buffalo, NY's The Buffalo News:

Four of NYS Thruway's costly wind turbines stand idle. Why?
Tens of thousands of people every day drive past the towering wind turbines posted at four Thruway exits between Eden and the Pennsylvania state line.

But no matter how windy the day might be, those two-blade turbines stand motionless.

Just a few years after the New York State Thruway Authority spent about $5 million on five turbines, four of them stand dormant. And a spokesperson indicated the Thruway Authority does not know when they will become operational again.

"They are currently offline waiting for replacement parts and/or maintenance," spokesperson Jennifer Givner wrote in an email.

And the timeline and the source:

But between October 2017 and January 2018, all of them except for the turbine at the Westfield interchange were taken offline. Givner said she did not know how much energy the turbines generated while they were operational.

The four inoperable turbines were manufactured by a French company, Vergnet, which declared itself insolvent a year ago.

So they failed in less than one year and now the parts are unavailable. What's more, the turbines were manufactured by a French company so the profit and the jobs went out of the United States.

Don't mess with Texas - oil

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From CNN:

Texas to pass Iraq and Iran as world's No. 3 oil powerhouse
The shale oil boom has brought a gold rush mentality to the Lone Star State, which is home to not one but two massive oilfields.

Plunging drilling costs have sparked an explosion of production out of the Permian Basin of West Texas. In fact, Texas is pumping so much oil that it will surpass OPEC members Iran and Iraq next year, HSBC predicted in a recent report.

If it were a country, Texas would be the world's No. 3 oil producer, behind only Russia and Saudi Arabia, the investment bank said.

"It's remarkable. The Permian is nothing less than a blessing for the global economy," said Bob McNally, president of Rapidan Energy Group, a consulting firm.

Great news - the idea that we have reached "peak oil" is not based on the numbers. There are a lot of untapped reserves and the technology is always advancing. failure in Germany

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Now this is going to leave a mark (ha ha ha) From World Nuclear News:

Germany to compensate utilities for nuclear phaseout losses
The German cabinet has agreed to grant compensation of up to EUR1 billion (USD1.17 billion) to the utilities forced to shut down their nuclear power plants by the Energiewende, or energy transition, that the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel introduced in response to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident in Japan in March 2011. At that time, Germany was obtaining around a quarter of its electricity from 17 nuclear reactors operated by EnBW, EOn, RWE and Vattenfall.

Some of those plants were scheduled to operate for a number of years more - that is a lot of revenue that the utility companies will be missing out on. Nuclear reactors cost a lot of money to build but are dirt cheap to run. Time to switch to Thorium - dirt cheap to build and dirt cheap to run.

People tout alternative energy as being good for the environment. Here is one story with a different outcome - from PV Tech:

‘Countless piles of dead batteries’ are testament to lead acid’s toxic legacy in Africa
Providers of solar-plus-storage into the continent of Africa have said that it is a misconception that lead acid batteries used in off-grid systems are recycled efficiently back into the supply chain.

PV Tech's sister title, Energy-Storage.News spoke with Powerhive and Offgrid Electric, two US-headquartered providers of solar which have both focused on the off-grid sector in Africa to date. Powerhive provides community microgrids and in essence acts as a utility, selling 240V AC power by the kilowatt-hour, while Offgrid Electric leases or sells solar home kits to individual households. The former is active in Kenya, with Rwanda and Nigeria expected to be its next ports of call, while Off Grid Electric is focused on Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana and the Ivory Coast at the moment.

The article links to a report that goes into much more detail. There is no infrastructure to recycle the lead acid batteries so they end up as waste.

First, this great article from Forbes:

If Solar And Wind Are So Cheap, Why Are They Making Electricity So Expensive?
Over the last year, the media have published story after story after story about the declining price of solar panels and wind turbines.

People who read these stories are understandably left with the impression that the more solar and wind energy we produce, the lower electricity prices will become.

And yet that’s not what’s happening. In fact, it’s the opposite.

Between 2009 and 2017, the price of solar panels per watt declined by 75 percent while the price of wind turbines per watt declined by 50 percent.

And yet — during the same period — the price of electricity in places that deployed significant quantities of renewables increased dramatically.

Electricity prices increased by:

What gives? If solar panels and wind turbines became so much cheaper, why did the price of electricity rise instead of decline?

The author puts forward several hypotheses and then says this:

The main reason appears to have been predicted by a young German economist in 2013.

In a paper for Energy Policy, Leon Hirth estimated that the economic value of wind and solar would decline significantly as they become a larger part of electricity supply.

The reason? Their fundamentally unreliable nature. Both solar and wind produce too much energy when societies don’t need it, and not enough when they do.

Solar and wind thus require that natural gas plants, hydro-electric dams, batteries or some other form of reliable power be ready at a moment’s notice to start churning out electricity when the wind stops blowing and the sun stops shining.

And unreliability requires solar- and/or wind-heavy places like Germany, California and Denmark to pay neighboring nations or states to take their solar and wind energy when they are producing too much of it.

Hirth predicted that the economic value of wind on the European grid would decline 40 percent once it becomes 30 percent of electricity while the value of solar would drop by 50 percent when it got to just 15 percent.

The natural gas plants have to be running on hot standby as if they are completely shut down, it takes ten minutes or so for them to start. An interesting read - well worth your time.

Secondly, when the government removes the subsidies (ie: our tax dollars), the economics of come crashing back down to reality. From James Delingpole writing at Breitbart:

Germany’s Solar Industry Crashes and Burns
Germany’s solar industry has crashed and burned after the government drastically cut its subsidies.

James quotes from a number of sources showing the spike in cost and has this to say:

Germany’s great transition from fossil fuel power to renewables – its Energiewende – will cost the economy an estimated 520 billion Euros ($635 billion) by 2020. This is roughly equal to 25,000 Euros ($30,500) per family of four.

The collapse of solar industry in Germany puts into perspective EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s recent comments on renewables.

“It’s not the job of this agency, or any job in the federal government, to use regulatory power to favor of one sector of the economy over another. And what you saw with the past administration is just that — an attitude that says fossil fuel … is something that should be diminished in favor of, what, renewables. That doesn’t mean renewables shouldn’t be a part of our electricity-generation mix. It should be. But to use regulatory power to favor renewables at the expense natural gas, oil and coal is just something that’s not within the regulatory powers of this agency. And so we’re fixing that.’

Wise words. The second article is well worth reading too. A harbinger of what we will face if we go overboard with the idea of renewable energy. It is a rat hole. We should be persuing Thorium reactors instead of this.

Interesting news on the Energy front

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From Environment & Energy News:

DOE could use wartime law to help coal. Here's how it works
Invoking a Korean War-era law to aid struggling coal and nuclear units would represent a dramatic expansion of the Trump administration's campaign to rescue the industry, lobbyists and analysts said yesterday.

The Department of Energy is reportedly weighing use of the Defense Production Act of 1950 to prevent the retirement of ailing coal and nuclear units at the request of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). The law gives the president broad powers to require businesses to prioritize contracts for materials deemed vital to national security. Bloomberg first reported on DOE's plan.

A bit more about the law

The Defense Production Act was passed during the Korean War to ensure the U.S. industrial base could meet the needs of the American war effort. It was later used during the California energy crisis, when the government compelled natural gas suppliers to fulfill contracts with the then-ailing Pacific Gas and Electric Co. The idea was controversial at the time.

In a 2001 hearing about the law's use during the crisis, then-Texas Sen. Phil Gramm (R) said, "The Defense Production Act is the most powerful and potentially dangerous American law, in my opinion."

The law was amended in 2009 to restrict its use, said Susan Tierney, a former DOE official in the Obama administration. Two provisions require the law to be limited to scenarios where a scarce material is essential to national defense or to instances where national defense requirements cannot be fulfilled without disrupting civilian markets.

All it will take is one major storm during an unseasonably cold winter to collapse the grid.

Yikes - power outage in Puerto Rico

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From the Chicago Tribune:

Excavator blamed for blackout that left 1.4 million without power in Puerto Rico
An island-wide blackout hit Puerto Rico on Wednesday after an excavator accidentally downed a transmission line, officials said, as the U.S. territory struggles to repair an increasingly unstable power grid nearly seven months after Hurricane Maria.

Officials said it could take 24 to 36 hours to fully restore power to more than 1.4 million customers as outrage grew across the island about the state of Puerto Rico's Electric Power Authority. It was the second major outage in less than a week, with the previous one affecting some 840,000 customers.

Odd that the grid would be so tender that one incident could take out the entire thing. The last paragraph speaks volumes:

The new blackout occurred as Puerto Rico legislators debate a bill that would privatize the island's power company, which is $14 billion in debt and relies on infrastructure nearly three times older than the industry average.

Hate to think of what combination of corruption and incompetence brought this about. Privatization is the way to go here - establish some standards and stick to them.

The beginning of the end of a big swindle - from Reuters:

Exclusive: EPA gives giant refiner a 'hardship' waiver from regulation
The Environmental Protection Agency has exempted one of the nation’s largest oil refining companies, Andeavor, from complying with U.S. biofuels regulations - a waiver historically reserved for tiny operations in danger of going belly up, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The exemption, which applies to the three smallest of Andeavor’s ten refineries, marks the first evidence of the EPA freeing a highly profitable multi-billion dollar company from the costly mandates of the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard. The law requires refiners to blend biofuels such as ethanol into gasoline or purchase credits from those who do such blending.

The decision, which has not been previously reported, raises the question of whether other big and profitable oil firms with small refineries - such as Exxon Mobil Corp, Chevron Corp and Phillips 66 -  also have or could receive the waivers, which are granted by the EPA in secret.

Good - the inclusion of corn-derived Ethanol in our gasoline is nothing about the environment, it is pure pork to the US corn growers. Modern automobiles have been formulated to tolerate this but small engines - lawnmowers, string trimmer, generators, etc.... - do not and the ethanol greatly reduces engine life. There is simply no need to use this and it benefits a very small but very politcally powerful section of agribusiness. Time to wean them off the government teat.

Great news - Canadian Nuclear power

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Good news from our neighbors to the North - from the Canadian Government:

Canada Mapping a Strategy for the Next Generation of Nuclear Reactor Technology
Canada has been a world leader in nuclear energy for over 60 years. The nuclear industry in Canada is a vital source of innovation, job creation and low-carbon energy. The next generation in nuclear technology will help Canadians build a cleaner, safer world while meeting our energy needs in a low-carbon economy.

Parliamentary Secretary Kim Rudd, on behalf of Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Jim Carr, today announced a road mapping process under the Energy Innovation Program to explore the potential for on- and off-grid applications for small modular reactor (SMR) technology in Canada.

Driven by interested provincial and territorial governments and energy utilities, the exercise will be delivered by the Canadian Nuclear Association and engage stakeholders to better understand their views on priorities and challenges related to the possible development and deployment of SMRs in Canada.

I wish that they were doing Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors - those are the wave of the future but still, SMRs are a lot better than the traditional big nukes. A lot less to go wrong and much cheaper to run.

Renewable energy - a three-fer

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Just the headlines - click to read the stories.

Sheesh - I could have told you this ten years ago. Renewables are not cost effective without huge government subsidies and THAT money is coming out of your pocket. If you want to virtue signal, do it on your own dime - not mine. More.

Renewable energy - a scam

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Renewable energy is not economically sustainable without heavy government subsidies. It simply does not fly. Fortunately, clear heads are realizing this - from US News and World Report:

Oklahoma Pulling up Red Carpet Offered to Wind Industry
A battle is shaping up at Oklahoma's Capitol over the burgeoning wind industry that is facing fierce opposition from some oil-and-gas leaders and critics who say the state has been too generous with incentives. Oklahoma rolled out the red carpet for the industry more than a decade ago with subsidies that now cost the state tens of millions of dollars each year.

Now those subsidies have all been ended, but there is still a push to impose a new production tax on wind energy and maybe even cap previously promised incentives.

Supporters of wind say the state is going back on its word and threatening an industry that has proven to be beneficial to the state, offering a new revenue stream for landowners and local school districts.

And to the wind industry? You had more than ten years to make it work. We the People do not want to spend any more of our tax dollars on these boondoggles. If they do not function economically, they need to be phased out with something that does work - clean coal or nuclear.

About that oil shortage in the USA

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Things certainly have turned around with this new President - from Bloomberg:

Oil World Turns Upside Down as U.S. Sells Oil in Middle East
The United Arab Emirates, a model Persian Gulf petro-state where endless billions from crude exports feed a giant sovereign wealth fund, isn’t the most obvious customer for Texan oil.

Yet, in a trade that illustrates how the rise of the American shale industry is upending energy markets across the globe, the U.A.E. bought oil directly from the U.S. in December, according to data from the federal government. A tanker sailed from Houston and arrived in the Persian Gulf last month.

The cargo of American condensate, a type of very light crude oil, was preferred to regional grades because its superior quality made more suitable for the U.A.E’s processing plants, a person with knowledge of the matter said, asking not to be identified discussing a commercially sensitive matter.

Good old Sweet Texas Crude - good stuff and we are sitting on vast resources. What energy crisis?

From the London Daily Mail:

Wind turbine fire risk: Number that catch alight each year is ten times higher than the industry admits
Nearly 120 wind turbines catch fire each year, according to new research - ten times the number reported by the industry.

The figures, compiled by engineers at Imperial College London and the University of Edinburgh, make fire the second-largest cause of accidents after blade failure.

The researchers claim that out of 200,000 turbines around the world, 117 fires take place annually - far more than the 12 reported by wind farm companies.

Renewable energy is a scam - it is so much more expensive than traditional energy and it is we the people who are paying for it. We need nuclear now!

A lot of people who do not know the story (and the technologies involved) are going to run around with their hair on fire. From David Middleton writing at WUWT:

Senate Budget Resolution Creates Pathway to Opening ANWR to Drilling!!!
Guest cheer-leading by David Middleton (from this article at Alaska Dispatch News):

U.S. Senate passes bill that offers a chance to open Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling
The U.S. Senate passed a budget resolution Thursday that could provide Alaska’s congressional delegation its best shot in four decades to open part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling.

The Senate voted 51-49 to pass the budget resolution, along party lines. Republicans defeated a Democratic amendment to strip the ANWR-allowing provision from the budget resolution, by a vote of 52-48.

And it is not just these oil and gas fields - from David:

In addition to being a boon to the US Treasury, the development of ANWR, NPR-Alaska and the Beaufort and Chukchi OCS areas are critical to maintaining the operation of the Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) and avoiding the stranding of billions of barrels of crude oil.

The failure to open ANWR-1002 soon will eventually force the premature shutdown and dismantling of the Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS).

A premature end to TAPS would strand about 30 billion barrels of oil and 137 trillion cubic feet of natural gas under Alaska and its OCS (outer continental shelf).

With the development of directional boring (initial development was patented in 1873), the oil companies can work from a small pad installed at the coastline and drill down and under to reach the oil-bearing strata. There is minimal danger of spilling or blowouts and the development of the harbor will allow better access to ANWR for scientists and eco-tourists. Win/win.

Much more at the site...

Great news from President Trump's Environmental Protection Agency - from the New York Times:

E.P.A. Announces Repeal of Major Obama-Era Carbon Emissions Rule
The Trump administration announced on Monday that it would take formal steps to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature policy to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, setting up a bitter fight over the future of America’s efforts to tackle global warming.

At an event in eastern Kentucky, Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, said that his predecessors had departed from regulatory norms in crafting the Clean Power Plan, which was finalized in 2015 and would have pushed states to move away from coal in favor of sources of electricity that produce fewer carbon emissions.

“The war on coal is over,” Mr. Pruitt said. “Tomorrow in Washington, D.C., I will be signing a proposed rule to roll back the Clean Power Plan. No better place to make that announcement than Hazard, Ky.”

Good - we have about 500 years of coal left given our current rate of energy consumption. Clean coal plants can be built, older plants can be retrofitted. Use what we have to bootstrap ourselves into energy of the future - Thorium and LFTRs. The one thing that stands in the way of human progress is expensive energy - cheap energy is what fueled the industrial revolution, the five day work-week, labor saving devices, technology as we know it. All as a direct result of cheap energy.

Great news on the nuclear front

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This is for traditional reactors but still - a big step forward. From Reuters:

U.S. offers Vogtle nuclear plant $3.7 billion in loan guarantees
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) said on Friday it has offered an additional loan guarantee of up to $3.7 billion to companies building two nuclear reactors at the Vogtle plant in the state of Georgia.

And the driving force behind this decision:

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who has remarked he wants to make nuclear power “cool again,” said in a statement that the “future of nuclear energy in the United States is bright” and that he looks forward to “expanding American leadership in innovative nuclear technologies.”

Very good - renewables are all right but they are not capable of providing reliable baseload electricity plus, when the government subsidies are added in, they are a lot more expensive. I wish that work in LFTR Reactors would go faster - that is the way of the future but conventional nuke is a great start.

Markets for everything - coal

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Obama declared a war on coal. President Trump has reversed this and we are now exporting tons of it. To where? Holier than thou Europe. From Oil & Gas 360:

U.S. Coal Finds Footing In European Markets
A report by the EIA indicated that coal exports—for both steam coal, used for power generation, and metallurgical coal, used for refining steel—have increased by 58 percent from Q1 of 2016 to Q1 of 2017. The majority of the increase was in steam coal, which grew by 6 million short tons (MMst).

Big U.S. coal customer: Europe
The majority of the coal was shipped from ports on the Atlantic Coast and Gulf Coast. The U.S. exported a total of 10.135 million short tons of steam coal during Q1. Steam coal exports were bound largely for European markets—which consumed approximately 50 percent of the U.S.’ total steam coal exports in Q1, 2017.

But wait - didn't the European nations do a whole bunch of virtue signalling saying that they were shutting down their coal-burning power plants to save the planet? Why the huge uptick in imports - could it be that smart numbers people are in charge?

Great news from the Department of Common Sense.

Everyone was hyperventilating about his tweets - from Investor's Business Daily:

Trump Launched An Energy Revolution While Everyone Was Obsessing On His Tweets
Last week President Trump announced plans to make the U.S. not just energy independent, but a global energy powerhouse. Too bad everyone was hyperfocused on his tweets.

On Thursday, Trump said he was ushering in a new energy policy that marked an end to decades of fretting about an alleged "energy crisis" brought on by supposed limited domestic supplies and an insatiable demand for fossil fuels.

"We now know that was all a big, beautiful myth," Trump said in remarks at the Department of Energy. "The truth is that we have near-limitless supplies of energy in our country."

Trump had already taken several steps toward unleashing domestic energy supplies, but he announced six more that he plans to take, including reviving nuclear energy, lifting barriers to building coal plants overseas, building more energy pipelines — including one into Mexico — increased natural gas exports, and creating a new offshore-leasing program.

"The golden era of American energy is now underway," he said.

It was cheap abundant energy that lifted humanity out of the feudal middle ages. Energy has done more for absolute equality than anything else. It used to be that only the royals had books and music, now everyone can have them - just a very small example.

India building a breeder reactor

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Different from the LFTR that I like but still a great thing. From Power Technology:

India set to commission nuclear reactor in Tamil Nadu this year
India plans to commission its first fast breeder reactor (FBR) by the end of this year at Kalpakkam in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

Making India the second country worldwide to commercially produce power through a fast-breeder reactor, the unit is claimed to be “ultra-modern, indigenously designed, and locally mastered', reported Press Trust of India.

Russia owns the other commercially run FBR, the Beloyarsk Nuclear Plant. Countries such as the US, France, and Japan have also experimented with fast breeder technology programmes.

India’s Prototype Fast Breed Reactor will produce 500MW of power. FBRs are claimed to generate more nuclear power than they consume.

They can also burn the leftover nuclear waste from conventional uranium reactors. Win/win. These designs use liquid sodium for coolant meaning that they operate at normal air pressure - no pressure vessel needed. Being walk-away safe is also a nice feature.

President Trump was right - the Paris Climate Accord is nothing. It is just a bunch of brain-dead virtue signaling and a financial shakedown of large nations by non-governmental organizations. Nobody is going to give up their cheap energy - it seems that Coal is having quite the renaissance. From the New York Times:

As Beijing Joins Climate Fight, Chinese Companies Build Coal Plants
When China halted plans for more than 100 new coal-fired power plants this year, even as President Trump vowed to “bring back coal” in America, the contrast seemed to confirm Beijing’s new role as a leader in the fight against climate change.

But new data on the world’s biggest developers of coal-fired power plants paints a very different picture: China’s energy companies will make up nearly half of the new coal generation expected to go online in the next decade.

These Chinese corporations are building or planning to build more than 700 new coal plants at home and around the world, some in countries that today burn little or no coal, according to tallies compiled by Urgewald, an environmental group based in Berlin. Many of the plants are in China, but by capacity, roughly a fifth of these new coal power stations are in other countries.

Over all, 1,600 coal plants are planned or under construction in 62 countries, according to Urgewald’s tally, which uses data from the Global Coal Plant Tracker portal. The new plants would expand the world’s coal-fired power capacity by 43 percent.

A bunch more at the site - renewables are all well and good but they do not provide baseload power to the grid - they are too variable. Coal will be fine until we get thorium nuclear power. Fusion is a nice idea but commercial production has been just 30 years 'round the corner for the last 60 years. in the news

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And a bit about climate too - first from the UK Guardian:

World has three years left to stop dangerous climate change, warn experts
Former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres among signatories of letter warning that the next three years will be crucial to stopping the worst effects of global warming.

Avoiding dangerous levels of climate change is still just about possible, but will require unprecedented effort and coordination from governments, businesses, citizens and scientists in the next three years, a group of prominent experts has warned.

Warnings over global warming have picked up pace in recent months, even as the political environment has grown chilly with Donald Trump’s formal announcement of the US’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement. This year’s weather has beaten high temperature records in some regions, and 2014, 2015 and 2016 were the hottest years on record.

A major point here - the claim of hottest year is from NASA (PDF). Not the 18,000 people who work for NASA, we are talking about one very small agency - the Goddard Institute for Space Studies which has about 140 staff of which, only about 30 are full-time employees of NASA; the rest are from nearby Columbia University or are visiting scientists or interns. This is a very partisan institution. Its founder was James Hansen who was fired because he got involved in more political issues than scientific ones. He had a narrative of global warming to pursue and he did it. Their data is cherry-picked and does not use atmospheric data from the many satellites. These are a lot more accurate and all of them show a 19+ year decline in atmospheric temperatures - concurring with the overall decline in output from our Sun. The data that GISS uses is gathered at the surface and subject to the Urban Heat Island effect.

The Guardian article leads with a photo of Ms. Figueres:


What a harpy - such condescension in her face. Bow down before me - I am your better.

Now, two on

First - from the Tulsa, OK Tulsa World:

Frank Keating: I signed wind industry tax breaks, and I was wrong
In 2001, when I served as governor of Oklahoma, I signed legislation creating the Zero Emissions Tax Credit for industrial wind energy. The tax credit was designed to give a jump-start to a wind industry in its infancy in Oklahoma at the time. It was sold to us as a low-cost way to broaden our already robust energy and economic development program. It was supposed to create jobs and develop a more prosperous future for Oklahoma.

Signing this legislation was simply a mistake. What was promised to cost the state less than $2 million annually when I was in office has soared to $113 million for the 2014 tax year and is expected to cost billions in the future. Wind farms average 10 percent to 13 permanent jobs, which hardly lives up to the promised employment growth.

Because the tax credits weren’t limited or capped, the Zero Emissions Tax Credit has warped into a scam costing taxpayers millions to the detriment of other publicly funded services. In 2014, the credits became directly refundable, meaning the state writes wind companies checks for 85 percent of the value of each credit. That’s essentially a blank check funded by taxpayers that goes to multibillion-dollar corporations based outside of Oklahoma and mostly located in foreign countries. It’s the worst kind of corporate handout.

Emh]phasis mine - this is not about manufacturing jobs - the two big turbine companies are  Vestas (Denmark) and Siemans (Germany) - here is a list of all of the manufacturers and only a handful are based in the USA.

Second - some good news from The Daily Caller:

The Western US’s Largest Coal Plant Has A ‘Fighting Chance’ Of Survival
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke hailed the Navajo Nation’s ratification of a new lease with operators of the largest coal-fired power plant in the western U.S., staving off its immediate decommissioning.

Zinke said the action gave Navajo and Hopi workers a “fighting chance” to keep their jobs at the coal plant and the mine that supplies it.

Navajo Nation ratified a lease agreement with operators of the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) Tuesday to extend power plant and mining operations through 2019. This gives the Department of the Interior, which co-owns the plant, and other stakeholders time to find ways to keep the NGS viable.

“Since the first weeks of the Trump Administration, one of Interior’s top priorities has been to roll up our sleeves with diverse stakeholders in search of an economic path forward to extend NGS and Kayenta Mine operations after 2019,” Zinke said in a statement.

Lulu and I saw this plant during our Southwest trip two years ago. They were not giving tours of the plant but we drove around it and visited the mine 80 miles away - the whole operation is clean, no ash, no odor, no visible color to the stack gasses - very complete combustion and it provides solid baseload power to most of Arizona and Nevada.

LFTR Reactors

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Was talking this morning and the conversation turned to generating power - people had not heard about Thorium.

Here is an excellent five minute YouTube compilation:

Wind power - not so much

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A very good metric on a new technology is if people replace it with the same technology when the original installation wears out. From the Canada's Calgary Herald:

Oldest commercial wind farm in Canada headed for scrapyard after 23 years
The oldest commercial wind power facility in Canada has been shut down and faces demolition after 23 years of transforming brisk southern Alberta breezes into electricity — and its owner says building a replacement depends on the next moves of the provincial NDP government.

TransAlta Corp. said Tuesday the blades on 57 turbines at its Cowley Ridge facility near Pincher Creek have already been halted and the towers are to be toppled and recycled for scrap metal this spring. The company inherited the now-obsolete facility, built between 1993 and 1994, as part of its $1.6-billion hostile takeover of Calgary-based Canadian Hydro Developers Inc. in 2009.

“TransAlta is very interested in repowering this site. Unfortunately, right now, it’s not economically feasible,” Wayne Oliver, operations supervisor for TransAlta’s wind operations in Pincher Creek and Fort Macleod, said in an interview.

In other words, wind power is not economically feasible unless it is subsidized by the government. Since the government makes essentially no money of its own, these subsidies come from the taxpayers. TransAlta is asking the Canadian government for a substantial handout.

From National Review:

Wind-Energy Sector Gets $176 Billion Worth of Crony Capitalism
It takes enormous amounts of taxpayer cash to make wind energy seem affordable.

Last month, during its annual conference, the American Wind Energy Association issued a press release trumpeting the growth of wind-energy capacity. It quoted the association’s CEO, Tom Kiernan, who declared that the wind business is “an American success story.”

There’s no doubt that wind-energy capacity has grown substantially in recent years. But that growth has been fueled not by consumer demand, but by billions of dollars’ worth of taxpayer money. According to data from Subsidy Tracker — a database maintained by Good Jobs First, a Washington, D.C.–based organization that promotes “corporate and government accountability in economic development and smart growth for working families” — the total value of the subsidies given to the biggest players in the U.S. wind industry is now $176 billion.

That is money coming right out of our wallets - the Federal Government does not make any appreciable money. All of its funding comes from our tax dollars. We are currently $19 trillion dollars in debt and we are spending this kind of money on crony capitalism and ratholes.

From The Sydney Morning Herald:

'Fast-moving clouds': How CS Energy's Kogan Creek Solar Boost project failed
It was supposed to supply cheaper, greener energy to up to 5000 homes but after six years and tens of millions of dollars, a cutting-edge solar energy project has produced nothing other than a large taxpayer-funded pile of scrap.

Three thousand solar panels sit unused on a concrete pad after the pioneering Kogan Creek Solar Boost project was shelved due to rusting pipes and "rapidly moving clouds".

The idea was invented by a local person:

The plan had been to use thousands of mirrors to focus solar energy to pre-heat steam used to drive power-generating turbines. The technology's inventor, Australian scientist Dr David Mills, in 2014 received an Order Of Australia for his work on solar power from the Abbott government.

But CS Energy scrapped the unfinished scheme last year, blaming "technical and contractual problems". It won't reveal exactly how much it cost, but recorded a $70 million impairment in its 2016 accounts because of the scheme.

And the money?

Half that amount came from the Queensland Government's Carbon Reduction Program.

Commonwealth body the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) was to put up an additional $35 million in funding, although it told Fairfax Media it ended up handing over only $6.4 million.

All of these "funds" come straight from taxpayer dollars. Calling them this fund or that fund puts a very thin veneer around that fact. Much more at the site - a perfect fustercluck. Goes to show that can never compete on a level playing field. If the technology was so good, we would have plants springing up all over. The only way these can operate is through heavy taxpayer subsidies.

Great news - Japan

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From World Nuclear News:

Japanese reactor restarts after lifting of injunction
Kansai Electric Power Company announced today that it had restarted unit 4 of its Takahama nuclear power plant in Fukui prefecture. The reactor - which together with unit 3 has been offline since March 2016 - is expected to re-enter commercial operation next month.

The company said the 830 MWe (net) pressurized water reactor (PWR) was restarted at 3.00pm today and is expected to achieve criticality tomorrow. Kansai plans to resume electricity generation at Takahama 4 and reconnect it to the grid on 22 May "as the final stage of the periodic outage inspection following various types of tests". It added that "full-scale operation" of the unit will resume in mid-June after the completion of the comprehensive inspection performed by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA).

I really wish these were Thorium reactors but still - cheap, zero carbon and safer than coal - what's not to love?

Poor widdle arabs - from The Daily Caller:

Saudi Arabia Whines US Has Too Much Control Over World’s Oil
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has asked the U.S. to stop producing so much oil, according to a report Thursday.

OPEC’s report blames the U.S. in particular because hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has greatly increased American oil production. The new production has led a lengthy period of very low oil prices. OPEC claims raising global oil prices will “require the collective efforts of all oil producers” and should be done “not only for the benefit of the individual countries, but also for the general prosperity of the world economy.”

New American oil production is undermining OPEC’s efforts to keep global prices between $50 and $60 per barrel, with current prices hovering around $47 a barrel.

“I think [OPEC] are now acutely aware that they don’t have the kind of influence they used to have 10 years ago, and that shale is now the swing producer in the market,” Tom Pugh, commodities economist at Capital Economics, told CNN Money.

The question that bears asking is what has Saudi Arabia done for the world? The USA routinely spends billions of dollars on foreign aid - what do the Arabs do? Why should we give a rats ass what they think - they are trying to monopolize the cost of energy. Let them learn about free market capitalism. It was cheap energy that drove the industrial revolution and makes our lives what they are today. It is cheap energy that drives down poverty in third-world nations and helps elevate them into first world power.

Great advertisement from Australia - good anthracite coal is over 95% pure carbon. If you are stuck burning something to make power, a modern coal plant is your best option by far.

From The Daily Caller:

Congress Asked To Eliminate $270 Million A Year In Solar Subsidies
Conservative groups wrote a letter to Congress Tuesday asking lawmakers on the appropriations committee to eliminate a solar subsidy program worth $270 million.

Conservatives want Congress to pull funding from the Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative, citing recent investigations that found the program provided subsidies for rooftop solar power.

The letter calls SunShot the “ground zero of the solar subsidy machine,” arguing that it gives out millions of dollars in subsidies through net metering programs. Such programs force utilities to buy the electricity from rooftop solar panels at up to six times the market price, effectively forcing non-solar residents to pay more to maintain the grid.

Good - we need to spend our money on real energy solutions instead of the warm and fuzzy experiments that have been promising renewable energy in just five years for the last thirty years.

Nuclear is the way to go especially Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors - no waste problems, operates at atmospheric pressure so no containment ve$$el needed and absolutely walk-away safe.

Solar power towers

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Cool news on the energy front

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Real dependable energy and not sunbeams and puffs of wind. From the U.S. Geological Survey

USGS Estimates 304 Trillion Cubic Feet of Natural Gas in the Bossier and Haynesville Formations of the U.S. Gulf Coast
The Bossier and Haynesville Formations of the onshore and State waters portion of the U.S. Gulf Coast contain estimated means of 4.0 billion barrels of oil, 304.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 1.9 billion barrels of natural gas liquids, according to updated assessments by the U.S. Geological Survey. These estimates, the largest continuous natural gas assessment USGS has yet conducted, include petroleum in both conventional and continuous accumulations, and consist of undiscoveredtechnically recoverable resources.

A bit more including a statement:

“As the USGS revisits many of the oil and gas basins of the United States, we continually find that technological revolutions of the past few years have truly been a game-changer in the amount of resources that are now technically recoverable," said Walter Guidroz, Program Coordinator of the USGS Energy Resources Program. "Changes in technology and industry practices, combined with an increased understanding of the regional geologic framework, can have a significant effect on what resources become technically recoverable. These changes are why the USGS remains committed to performing the most up-to-date assessments of these vital resources throughout the United States and the world.”

This is the largest known gas field in the USA.  Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke was stoked.

Great news - from Forbes:

Terrestrial Energy Describes Progress Towards Commercializing Advanced Small Modular Reactor
Simon Irish, the Chief Executive of Terrestrial Energy, provided a project update to the 7th Annual SMR and Advanced Reactor Summit organized by Nuclear Energy Insider.

What Is Terrestrial Energy Doing To Move Its Design To Market?
His company is developing an Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSRTM). He noted that he had last provided information to the Nuclear Energy Insider (NEI) annual summit two years ago when the event occurred in Charlotte, North Carolina. During the period since that report, his company has been making steady progress towards commercialization.

The article is a bit sketchy on details but basically, the company delivers a sealed core good for seven years of operation. At the end of seven years, the core is moved to a cool-down pool and a few years later, trucked back to the factory for recycling. It generates not only electricity but can be used for industrial process heat - tar sands extraction, reformation of methane to make Hydrogen, lots of applications. is a financial rathole when you do not have that sweet Federal teat to suck on. From the Flint, MI ABC affiliate:

Suniva in Saginaw Township to close its doors
Two years ago it was honored as a business bringing growth and jobs to the region. Today- ABC 12 News has learned that Suniva is closing. And the majority of the 60 plus workers at the Saginaw Township solar panel company are out of work.

We spoke with a former employee who thought he'd be returning to work here in April, he's learned that's no longer the case.

"They are shutting down the plant yes, the plant's done in Saginaw, no manufacturing at all in Saginaw," said Terry Moore.

Moore has worked as a maintenance technician at Suniva since April of 2015. He was layed off in February. and again last Thursday, but thought it was only temporary.

Then his boss notified him by email that the plant is closing for the "foreseeable future."

The era of Federal subsidies for alternate energy manufacturers is over - thank heaven! Our tax dollars were being spent on crap like this when we could have been putting our money into nuclear power - Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors.

Good news - environment

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A two-fer from The Daily Caller:

First - Yucca Mountain is back:

Trump’s Budget Revives Yucca Mountain After Harry Reid And Obama Killed It
President Donald Trump’s budget revives plans to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

The budget “provides $120 million to restart licensing activities for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste, repository and initiate a robust interim storage program,” according to a budget summary. “These investments would accelerate progress on fulfilling the Federal Government’s obligations to address nuclear waste, enhance national security, and reduce future taxpayer burden.”

Good - Reid and Obama thought they could put a damper on new nuclear plants by eliminating the waste storage. The technology for storing the waste is excellent and Yucca Mountain is about as stable geologically as it gets. The perfect solution.

Second - loans

Trump Budget Trashes Obama’s Green Energy Loan Program
President Donald Trump’s budget eliminates a pair of Department of Energy (DOE) green energy loan programs on track to lose taxpayers billions of dollars.

The budget entirely eliminates the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy and the Title 17 Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program. The DOE used these programs to issue roughly $16 billion in loan guarantees to 26 different projects over the years. Several of the companies that got taxpayer-backed loans went bankrupt.

These green loan programs lost $2.2 billion dollars between 2008 and 2015, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. As of 2015, the GAO concluded that taxpayers were securing $28 billion in loans for 30 different green energy projects.

Wonderful - this is the program that gave us Solyndra, SunEdison, Sungevity, Aquion Energy, First Solar, SunPower, SolarCity - each one of these was a multi-billion dollar failure and a horrible loss to us taxpayers.

Another bankruptcy

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This time it is Sungevity - from the San Francisco Business Times:

Oakland solar company Sungevity lays off 350 as it files for bankruptcy
Oakland solar company Sungevity has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a Delaware court, after laying off 350 workers and arranging the sale of all its assets to private equity firm Northern Pacific Group.

John Ordoña, vice president of communications for Sungevity, told the Business Times he couldn't provide comment on the layoffs, but a source close to the matter confirmed the job cuts. In January, the company laid off 66 workers, bringing the total number of job losses to 410.

What makes my eyebrow go up is this article from December 13, 2012 The Washington Post:

Solar firms probed for ‘misrepresentations’ in getting public money
Three of the country’s most prolific installers of residential solar panels are under federal investigation to determine if they inflated the cost of their work to increase the payments they would receive from the government, according to government and industry officials familiar with the probe.

SolarCity, SunRun and Sungevity have received subpoenas from the Treasury Department’s office of inspector general for financial records to justify more than $500 million in federal grants and tax credits the firms tapped for performing work. The probe seeks to determine whether the companies accurately reported the market value of their costs when applying for federal reimbursement, which was calculated at one-third of the costs.

The solar companies received money through the Treasury’s $13 billion program, known as the 1603 program, which used funds from President Obama’s stimulus initiative to offer cash grants to clean-energy developers. The goal was to spur the spread of wind farms, solar panels and other clean power sources nationwide.

SolarCity, SunRun and Sungevity have been by far the largest recipients among companies installing solar panels on homes. Working heavily in the sunny states of California and Arizona, the three firms collected hundreds of millions of dollars in federal cash grants to pick up a share of their costs on thousands of home installations during the past three years.

This is just a couple of days after Aquion Energy filed for Chapter 11. Who is next - burning through taxpayer funds like there is no tomorrow...

Molten Salt reactors in the news

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Just not here. China is building them, India is building them and now Indonesia is looking into building several. From Rod Adams at Atomic Insights:

ThorCon and Indonesia moving forward smartly on manufactured nuclear plants
Three state-owned Indonesian companies, Pertamina, PLN and INUKI, have completed the ThorCon technology pre-feasibility study agreed to in the Memorandum of Understanding with ThorCon International. The ten-month study concluded that the ThorCon molten salt reactor design could deliver safe, cheap, clean energy, could be built now, would be economically viable, and would have the potential to replace coal power plants.

ThorCon International is a company on a mission with a schedule objective that cannot be supported under the current U.S. NRC licensing framework. They made an initial presentation to the NRC, digested the response they received and moved on to focus their efforts in Indonesia with manufacturing support in Korean shipyards.

Their mission is to design, manufacture and support safe nuclear power plants whose total cost per kilowatt hour is cheaper than coal.

The beauty of these reactors is that they operate at atmospheric pressure - no expensive containment vessel is needed. They use Thorium as fuel - a very common element. Uranium is about as common (and expensive) as Platinum. These reactors can be adjusted to burn the spent waste from pressurized boiling water reactors. The waste from these reactors only needs to be sequestered for a few hundred years - not 30,000.

Here is a good introductory video:

South Australia (here, here, here and here) and Tasmania (here and here), have gone all out for with some pretty spectacular failures and exorbitantly high electricity costs. Farmers who irrigate are having to make a big change. From the Australian Broadcasting Corporation:

Rural businesses switch to diesel power as electricity prices soar
"I'm pissed off and I've had a gutful."

A long, dry summer is enough to frustrate any sugarcane grower, but Allan Dingle's anger is directed at the pile of electricity bills in front of him.

"You start to wonder why you get out of bed in the morning," he said.

Mr Dingle uses electric powered pumps to water his cane fields near Bundaberg, on Queensland's central coast, and the price to run those pumps has more than doubled over the past decade.

The soil here is rich-red and fertile and locals say, if you can add water, you can grow anything.

But as power prices rise, some farmers have been forced to turn off the pumps.

And the change:

Diesel pumps aren't pretty. One spits out fumes as it whirs into life, but Mr Doyle says it's the only option for his company right now.

He's done the maths carefully and it's already 30 per cent cheaper to pump water with diesel than electricity.

"With what we understand electricity prices are going to do into the future, that number will become even greater," he said.

A lot more at the article - a good cautionary tale of what can happen. Also, of note, the power companies in the afflicted areas are owned by the state governments. No competition, people are free to pursue the latest scam and there is no personal accountability. A formula for success if ever there was one.

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