Recently in Energy Category

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.

Another shining moment for


From FOX News:

Another taxpayer-funded energy company files for bankruptcy
A cutting-edge battery maker that received millions from taxpayers has become the latest government-backed energy firm to file for bankruptcy – reviving the controversy over how stimulus dollars were spent under the last administration.

Seven years after Aquion Energy received a $5.2 million stimulus-tied grant from the federal government, the Pennsylvania company on Wednesday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

$5.2 Million of our tax dollars just got stuffed down a rat-hole. The irony is this:

In January, the company was named “the North American Company of the Year Award” at the annual Cleantech Forum in San Francisco, which “focuses on emerging trends, leading innovation companies, and key players in sustainable innovation.” 

So less than 90 days from this prestigious award, the company is folding its tent. You would think there would be some measure of disclosure or transparency but this is a liberal scam so noooooo. Going to be a fun auction I bet.

Great news from Alaska

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Oil - lots of it. From CNN/Money:

Massive oil discovery in Alaska is biggest onshore find in 30 years
Some 1.2 billion barrels of oil have been discovered in Alaska, marking the biggest onshore discovery in the U.S. in three decades.

The massive find of conventional oil on state land could bring relief to budget pains in Alaska brought on by slumping production in the state and the crash in oil prices.

The new discovery was made in just the past few days in Alaska's North Slope, which was previously viewed as an aging oil basin.

Spanish oil giant Repsol (REPYY and its privately-held U.S. partner Armstrong Energy announced the find on Thursday, predicting production could begin as soon as 2021 and lead to as much as 120,000 barrels of output per day.

The oil resources lie in a well, called Horseshoe, that's 75% owned by Denver-based Armstrong. Repsol owns the rest of this well.

We keep finding new reserves. Did someone say something about "Peak Oil" - don't they know about the Simon–Ehrlich wager

Some bullet points on "clean" energy

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A look at some pesky numbers from Michael Shellenberger at Environmental Progress - these bullet-points are distilled from the graphs at the site:

    • USA has shut down nuclear plants prematurely because of lower natural gas costs - this has increased emissions of CO2 and air pollution
    • Overall energy costs have increased in the USA which correlate with lower nuclear energy mix
    • Germany has 6 times more carbon intensive energy than France
    • Germany shutdown nuclear energy and now is even more reliant on coal and fossil fuel
    • France uses 80% nuclear power for electricity
    • France has half the cost of electricity compared to Germany
    • The global decline in nuclear power (-7.5% of energy mix) has not been replaced by solar and wind (4.5%)
    • The global decline in nuclear (most of Japan nuclear shutdown, Germany shutdown, some early shutdowns in USA and Europe) has not been made up by the build in China and Asia and appears like future Europe and USA shutdowns (150 GW) will made up by new nuclear in China and India and Asia through 2030.

The only real option is nuclear and with technologies like LFTR, the waste only needs to be sequestered for around 300 years. The added plus is that the LFTR reactors can also burn conventional nuclear waste as fuel so the long term (30,000 year) storage problem is eliminated. The LFTR design is walk-away safe - accidents like Fukushima can not happen. They also operate at atmospheric pressure - there is no need for an expansive containment vessel and the associated equipment. Uranium (conventional reactors) is about as common (and expensive as Platinum. Thorium is one of the most common rare earths in the crust. Cheap as dirt.

From our local fishwrap- The Bellingham Herald:

Trump acts to advance Keystone XL, Dakota Access pipelines
President Donald Trump signed executive actions Tuesday to advance construction of the huge Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines, moving aggressively to overhaul America's energy policy and dealing a swift blow to Barack Obama's legacy on climate change.

Trump told reporters at the White House the pipelines will be subject to conditions being negotiated by U.S. officials — including a requirement that the pipe itself be manufactured in America.

"From now on we are going to start making pipelines in the United States," Trump said from the Oval Office.

On Keystone, the memorandum by Trump invites the pipeline builder, TransCanada, to resubmit its application to the State Department for a presidential permit to construct and operate the pipeline.

Right now, the oil is being transported by train much to the profit of Warren Buffett who is Obama's BFF. This is probably why Barry kicked the decision down the road as W.B. was a major contributor to Obama's campaign. Pipelines are a lot safer and cheaper to run - the cost of delivered energy will be lower. is very profitible if you know how to game the system. Spanish company Abengoa is a master. From The Green Corruption Files:

Abengoa Alert: New explosive whistleblower Intel reveals that the taxpayer-subsidized California Mojave Solar Plant is a massive green disaster
Last March, as a result of droves of brave whistleblowers, energy columnist Marita Noon and I began to unleash how the Spanish Conglomerate Abengoa, which bagged billions in U.S. green energy stimulus funds for three projects, committed a chain of “atrocities” on American soil.

In short, Abengoa intentionally violated American laws, codes and regulations that range across numerous federal and state government agencies, while on so many levels demonstrating a blatant disregard for our country and our citizens.

After these serious allegations against Abengoa were exposed, my inbox continued to be flooded with inquiries, confirmation as well as additional complaints and incriminating charges (even from South Africa) against this mega company.

The Abengoa transgressions go way beyond what we have reported thus far. In fact, new and explosive whistleblower Intel emerged in regards to the Mojave Solar Plant here in California, which prompted dozens of phone calls and countless hours of investigation over the course of the last two months all leading to a solar plant that at best is a massive “green” disaster. Worse case scenario is that this plant, which is supposed to save us from the “imminent global warming calamity,” is a “ticking time bomb.”

New “informants” (those that worked for ABEINSA EPC and Abengoa Solar, which are both subsidiaries of Abengoa the holding corporation, and/or those that worked at the Mojave Solar project in other capacities), whom have spoken on condition of anonymity, among other serious issues found at this California solar plant that included violating California State Seismic codes, came forward with startling revelations that will be disclosed in today’s blockbuster Green Corruption File.

    • The Mojave Solar Plant doesn’t meet the minimal life safety standard of California Tile 24
    • There was an unreported large toxic spill at the Mojave Solar Plant: “Hundreds of gallons of Heat Transfer Fluid (HTF) was spilled and they just dispersed into the ground“
    • The underground Heat Transfer Fluid tunnels were not ventilated
    • Despite California’s dreadful drought, “the Mojave Solar Plan is using 1,709,985 gallons of water per day”
    • Abengoa continues to abuse America

A favorite of the Obama White House, Abengoa was the second largest recipient of the Department of Energy (DOE) stimulus loans (the DOE’s “Junk Bond Portfolio“). This Spanish company, who is heavily connected to high-profile Democrats, between July 2010 and September 2011, was awarded over $2.8 billion to construct two solar energy complexes in Arizona and California and a biofuel plant in Kansas.

What really grinds my gears is that these projects are almost always foreign companies. Here is a Spanish one. The two biggies in wind turbines are Vestas (Danish) and Siemens (German) - wasn't the stimulus supposed to promote local businesses? Back in 2009, there was a big repaving job on our local highway. The pavement was ground up, some magic pixie sauce was added and it was laid back down again. The contractor was from California and the machinery was Canadian. Local jobs - yeah and I have another story for you...

From The Washington Free Beacon:

Congress: Obama Admin Fired Top Scientist to Advance Climate Change Plans
A new congressional investigation has determined that the Obama administration fired a top scientist and intimidated staff at the Department of Energy in order to further its climate change agenda, according to a new report that alleges the administration ordered top officials to obstruct Congress in order to forward this agenda.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R., Texas), chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, released a wide-ranging report on Tuesday that shows how senior Obama administration officials retaliated against a leading scientist and plotted ways to block a congressional inquiry surrounding key research into the impact of radiation.

The radiation in question is nuclear radiation. Current dogma puts it as being completely undesirable - there is no safe lower limit. Unfortunately for them, there is a large body of data that indicates that small doses are beneficial as it stimulates the body's natural defenses - Hormesis

Obama wanted to shut down our nuclear programs and move entirely to and he was looking for every way he could do this.

An interesting showdown is brewing. Recently, Trump's transition team sent the DOE a memo asking 74 very penetrating and well thought out questions.

From Willis Eschenbach writing at Anthony's:

Now, bear in mind that the Department of Energy has been the conduit for the billions of dollars wasted on propping up failing solar companies like Solyndra, it’s been the “Friends of Obama Funding Agency” … as a result, it’s not the Augean Stables, but it’s close …

So, let’s take a look at this already infamous 74-question memo. In it we’ll find two things: (1) just what is setting their hair on fire, and (2) whatever clues are there about future actions by the new administration. I’ll discuss both individual questions and groups of questions.

Questions for DOE

This memo, as you might expect, is replete with acronyms. “DOE” is the Department of Energy. Here are the memo questions and my comments.

1. Can you provide a list of all boards, councils, commissions, working groups, and FACAs [Federal Advisory Committees] currently active at the Department? For each, can you please provide members, meeting schedules, and authority (statutory or otherwise) under which they were created?

If I were at DOE, this first question would indeed set MY hair on fire. The easiest way to get rid of something is to show that it was not properly established … boom, it’s gone. As a businessman myself, this question shows me that the incoming people know their business, and that the first order of business is to jettison the useless lumber.

Here are three more - just a brief sampling:

6 The Department recently announced the issuance of $4.5 billion in loan guarantees for electric vehicles (and perhaps associated infrastructure). Can you provide a status on this effort?

Oh, man, they are going for the jugular. Loan Program Office? If there is any place that the flies would gather, it’s around the honey … it’s good to see that they are looking at loan guarantees for electric vehicles, a $4.5 billion dollar boondoggle that the government should NOT be in. I call that program the “Elon Musk Retirement Fund”.

Folks, for $4.5 billion dollars, we could provide clean water to almost half a million villages around the world … or we could put it into Elon Musk’s bank account or the account of some other electric vehicle manufacturer. I know which one I’d vote for … and I am equally sure which one the poor of the world would prefer.


27 Is there a readily available list of any technologies or products that have emerged from programs or the labs that are currently offered in the market without any subsidy?

Quite possibly not, but if so it would be an interesting list.

There is no program that I know of that operates without some sort of subsidy - they are not economically viable otherwise. The price difference is toxic to their development unless the government steps in with our taxpayer dollars.

55 EIA’s assessments of levelized costs for renewable technologies do not contain back-up costs for the fossil fuel technologies that are brought on-line to replace the generation when those technologies are down. Is this is a correct representation of the true levelized costs?

Since this is an issue I’ve raised publicly in my posts on levelized costs, I’m overjoyed to see them ask it.

EIA is the Energy Information Agency and is charged with collecting and maintaining energy-related data. I have said many times that is not baseload and that for every Megawatt of, you need to have a duplicate Megawatt of installed natural gas turbine generating capacity for when the wind doesn't blow/sun doesn't shine/etc... A lot of the reports on fail to take this into account when they compare levelized costs of generating technology - windmills, solar, hydro, gas, coal and nuke.

And of course, from Reuters today:

U.S. Energy Department balks at Trump request for names on climate change
The U.S. Energy Department said on Tuesday it will not comply with a request from President-elect Donald Trump's Energy Department transition team for the names of people who have worked on climate change and the professional society memberships of lab workers.

The Energy Department's response could signal a rocky transition for the president-elect's energy team and potential friction between the new leadership and the staffers who remain in place.

The memo sent to the Energy Department on Tuesday and reviewed by Reuters last week contains 74 questions, including a request for a list of all department employees and contractors who attended the annual global climate talks hosted by the United Nations within the last five years.

Energy Department spokesman Eben Burnham-Snyder said Tuesday the department will not comply.

"Our career workforce, including our contractors and employees at our labs, comprise the backbone of (the Energy Department) and the important work our department does to benefit the American people," Burnham-Snyder said.

The list of names in only three or four questions out of the 74 in the memo - this is skewed so far off-base to qualify as being "fake news" - does this mean that the DOE is going to respond to all of the other questions or are they just attempting to stonewall. The next couple of months are going to be a lot of fun and whomever Trump has working on Energy policy knows their stuff and is damn good at it.

Looks like the citizens of England are getting screwed by the greenies - from The Telegraph:

Britain facing energy crisis that could see families pay extra to keep the lights on while neighbours 'sit in the dark'
Britain's increasing reliance on "intermittent" renewable energy means that the country is facing an unprecedented supply crisis, a senior Ofgem executive has warned.

Andrew Wright, a senior partner at Ofgem and former interim chief executive, warned that households could be forced to pay extra to keep their lights on while their neighbours “sit in the dark” because “not everyone will be able to use as much as electricity as they want”.

Renewable energy has never been and will never be baseload. You need either coal or gas or nuclear. Anything else is just chasing unicorn farts.

Seeing the light in Pennsylvania

Great news from The Daily Caller:

New Report Makes The Case For Why We Shouldn’t Let Nuclear Plants Shut Down
A new study on Pennsylvania’s nuclear industry paints a worrisome picture of what could be lost if reactors continues to be shut down.

The new research (PDF file) found that Pennsylvania’s five nuclear plants account for 15,900 in-state, high paying, full-time jobs and generate $69 million in net state tax revenues each year. The reactors keep electricity prices low, reducing Pennsylvania residents’ power bills by about $788 million annually.

“Nuclear power keeps power prices lower than they would be otherwise,” Dean Murphy, an economist who coauthored the research for an economics consulting firm called The Brattle Group, told The Daily Caller. “It’d be a huge drag for the economy if the nuclear power plants closed and those prices went up. A big part of the positive effect is that the economy multiplies the benefits of cheap power.”

America currently operates 99 nuclear reactors across 61 commercially operating nuclear power plants, according to the EIA. The average plant employs between 400 and 700 high-skilled workers, has a payroll of about $40 million and contributes $470 million to the local economy, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute. A pair of reactors The Daily Caller New Foundation visited in April shells out $22.8 million in tax revenue each year.

“Electricity is so ubiquitous that the impact is extremely widespread,” Murphy continued. “The aggregate effect on the economy is really big and positive. If we were to lose the plants, the economy would multiply the harm of more expensive power.”

Good to see the knee-jerk enviros being stuffed back into under their rock. Nuclear is safe, clean and when we start building new molten-salt reactors, we will find the cost to be very low indeed. The new designs are walk-away safe and since you no longer need the huge pressure vessel, the cost to build and operate is minimal.

Compare that to our ninny President Barry who talked about how under his plan, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.

A process just waiting for the technology to catch up - from Next Big Future:

Microwave oil recovery could unlock trillions of barrels of oil and drinkable water from Oil shale and oil sands
Peter Kearl is co-founder and CTO of Qmast which is a Colorado-based company pioneering the use of the microwave technology to recover oil. Oil giants BP and ConocoPhillips are pouring resources into developing similar extraction techniques, which can be far less water- and energy-intensive than fracking.

There is more than 4.285 trillion barrels of oil barrels of oil in the Green River Formation (2011 U.S. Geological Survey of resource in-place). Using oil shale cutoffs of potentially viable (15 gallons per ton) and high grade (25 gallons per ton), it is estimated that between 353 billion and 1.146 trillion barrels of the in-place resource have a high potential for development

The Green river formation is the world’s largest known deposit of kerogen-rich rock and covers Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. This is oil shale.

Oil shale is not shale oil. Shale oil is essentially liquid oil locked up in rock that’s found in deep formations and requires hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for it to flow freely to the wellbore for extraction. Oil shale, on the other hand, isn’t really oil yet. Instead, it is found in more shallow formations that contain solid organic materials called kerogen. Oil shale must be heated to get oil out of it.

Producers would microwave oil shale formations with a beam as powerful as 500 household microwave ovens, cooking the kerogen and releasing the oil. It also would turn the water found naturally in the deposits to steam, which would help push the oil to the wellbore. “Once you remove the oil and water,” Kearl continues, “the rock basically becomes transparent” to the microwave beam, which can then penetrate outward farther and farther, up to about 80 feet from the wellbore. It doesn’t sound like much, but a single microwave-stimulated well, which would be drilled in formations on average nearly 1,000 feet thick, could pump about 800,000 barrels. Qmast plans to have its first systems deployed in the field in 2017 and start producing by the end of that year.

The technology?

The idea that a microwave antenna might do the job has actually been around for a while. However, equipment that can create, steer and stabilize the beam was too bulky to fit down a narrow well. Now, designs that will soon make the technology cheap and commonplace are emerging from small outfits, including one Kearl has set up, and from the defense industry.

And a nice spinoff:

Kearl thinks there is another, immediate use for his technology: to unblock existing oil and gas wells that have become too sluggish to be worth operating. In oil wells, this happens when paraffin wax and other impurities build up in the conduits to the pipe. Similarly, fracking well production declines quickly when the shale absorbs water, causing the rock to swell and squeeze into the fractures and block the gas’s exit. Many of these wells are abandoned despite there being . plenty of remaining oil or gas, and new wells are dug. If microwaves can melt paraffin and boil off water, blocked wells will flow like new. “They could be effectively rehabilitated by microwave heating,” says Kearl. This could help protect environmentally sensitive areas. “If we can produce more oil from old wells, that would lessen interest in drilling for new sources of oil,” says Stephen Brown, an energy economist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

I find it funny that people are crying about scarce resources when we have not even begun to scratch the surface. Peak Oil? Give me a break. Seriously.

Great news from Illinois - nuclear

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From Forbes:

Illinois Sees The Light -- Retains Nuclear Power
Last Thursday, December 1st, the Illinois State Legislature passed a measure that will allow continued operation of two of the state’s six nuclear power plants.

In a nail-biter more reminiscent of overtime at the Super Bowl, the Illinois State Legislature passed The Future Energy Jobs Bill (SB 2814) with less than an hour remaining in the legislative session. The bi-partisan bill allows Exelon’s Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear power plants to remain open, saving 4,200 jobs and over 22 billion kWhs of carbon-free power each year, more than all of the state’s renewables combined.

These two plants were in jeopardy of closing because even at a low cost of five cents or so per kWh, they were losing a combined $100 million per year because they could not compete with cheap natural gas and wind energy that is subsidized at 2.3¢/kWh. Illinois taxpayers subsidize solar energy at 21¢/kWh. This bill provides these nuclear plants with just 1¢/kWh, and only until market conditions change.

Once again, the only reason that works is because it is heavilly subsidized. Our tax dollars are going to fund this energy rat-hole. A bit more - the big picture:

Nuclear power produces over half of Illinois’ electricity, all with no carbon or other polluting emissions. The enormous negative impact of shutting down nuclear plants because of an artificial market finally got through to the Legislature, since the generating capacity of these nuclear plants would have to be replaced by natural gas or coal, doubling the State’s total carbon emissions and ensuring that the state would not meet its emissions goals anytime soon.

And if they had not done this:

This is just what happened in New England after the unnecessary closing of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant in 2014. Their clean nuclear energy was replaced entirely by natural gas and out-of-state purchases, the local community was devastated economically, and electricity prices have increased. Fortunately, people are starting to wise up:

Earlier this year, a coalition of scientists and conservationists, including famed climate scientist James Hansen, anti-nuclear activist turned nuclear proponent Michael Shellenberger, and Whole Earth catalogue founder Stewart Brand, sent an open letter to Illinois legislators asking them to “do everything in your power to keep all of Illinois’s nuclear power plants running for their full lifetimes.”

Even the Sierra Club reluctantly supported this bill.

Good news - consider the advances that have been made with personal computers in the last twenty years. The same kinds of advances have happened throughout the entire technological world - nuclear included. There are designs - LFTR or high temperature pebble bed reactors that are walk-away safe and very cheap to build as they do not require the large pressure vessel or containment structure.

Good news from Switzerland

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They get 52% of their electricity from hydro and 35% from nuclear. From Neutron Bytes:

Swiss Reject Plan for Early Close of Nation’s Nuclear Plants
The proposal to force older nuclear power plants to close in Switzerland has been rejected in a referendum by a vote of 56% to 44% to retain the units.

With 56% of people have voted ‘No’ to the rapid phase out, the election records a clear victory by winning both the popular vote and by taking majorities in the most cantons.

Makes sense - the reactors are paid for and the fuel is cheap.

Ethanol in our gasoline

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A few corporations are making a lot of money off of this scam but nobody likes it and it damages small engines. Now even the government admits it is bad policy - from The Daily Caller:

Gov’t Admits Ethanol Mandates Are Expensive And Failing
Federal ethanol mandates are extremely expensive and won’t meet their goals, according to a new report published Monday by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

GAO’s report concluded that producing advanced biofuel is extremely expensive, takes a long time to produce and likely won’t meet its goals of reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil or to lowering carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

“The Renewable Fuel Standard program calls for greater use of advanced biofuels—fuel made from waste fats and oils or crop residues, for example—in the transportation fuel supply through 2022,” states the report’s summary. “Yet, there is not nearly enough of this fuel to meet the program’s targets—nor will there likely be enough in the near future.”

Time to get these corporations off the government teat and stop diluting our gasoline.

The consequences of

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Those that support alternative energy are condemning the poor to a life of suffering. From Breitbart:

Light, water and heat are a luxury for millions in Spain
Pedro and Mohamed await every utility bill with much angst.

To reduce the money they have to pay, they live in the dark, without heating, or shower just once a week — victims like millions in Spain of energy poverty.

Welfare associations have for years warned against this situation, but the death earlier this month of 81-year-old Rosa in a fire caused by a candle she used for light has brought the issue firmly to the fore.

Socialist lawmaker Pilar Lucio asked the ruling conservative government to immediately implement a “winter truce” on companies cutting power to those who cannot pay — a measure with majority support in parliament and encouraged in a 2009 EU directive.

Last year, according to Spain’s National Statistics Institute, 10.6 percent of Spaniards were unable to properly heat their homes — or more than four million people — compared to just 5.9 percent in 2008, when an economic crisis kicked off.

The utility prices:

At fault are the economic crisis and widespread loss of jobs it caused, as well as a 30- to 50-percent rise in utility prices since 2006.

Directly caused by Spain's closing fully functional coal burning plants and replacing them with much more expensive solar and wind plants. Remember Obama's crack about how electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket?

Clever business move

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From the Wall Street Journal:

Czech Firm Makes Unusual Bet on Coal Power Plants
Not everyone in Europe has doubts about the future of coal.

While European utilities have been selling off their coal-fired power plants at a brisk pace, spurred by falling electricity prices and new rules against carbon-dioxide emissions, a least one buyer has been standing by to snap them up.

Since 2013, a little-known Czech company has purchased at least 10 coal- or lignite-fired power plants and related mines at fire-sale prices, in deals worth a total of more than $7 billion, according to data provider Dealogic. That gives it almost as much coal-derived electricity-generating capacity as Canada.

Heh - eventually people will wake up from the fever dream that coal is bad and when they do, they will find that their crown jewels are now owned by someone else. Renewable energy is not baseload - the two choices for reliable and cheap energy are coal and nuclear. They're not just buying the power plants:

In September, Swedish utility giant Vattenfall sold German lignite assets to EPH valued at an estimated $3.8 billion, according to Dealogic, one of the Czech company’s biggest deals. Germany’s focus on building renewable power capacity has left it reliant on more polluting fuels such as lignite on days when wind and solar don’t produce enough.

Beginning to end solution - the idea that solar and wind can provide sustainable cheap power is ludicrous especially considering the coming cold climate. More people die from cold than from heat.

Japan and Oil

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Some curious business - from industry magazine Oil Price:

Japan Is Aggressively Buying Up Oil And Gas Around The World
This coming year could be a surprisingly exciting time for oil and gas developers.

Yes, energy prices are depressed right now. But not everyone sees that as a negative. In fact, private equity funds are still raising record amounts of capital for energy investments — with managers and investors alike seeing the current downturn as a prime time to pick up good assets for cheap.

Most of that PE money is earmarked for U.S. shale. But this week’s announcements from Indonesia state oil firm Pertamina, and Japanese government arm Jogmec, show that the spending spree may now be extending to global oil and gas assets.

Pertamina had $700 million this year for acquisitions — and will likely have billions for the coming year. Jogmec is even more flush with cash — having arranged financial backing totaling $5.2 billion yearly for oil and gas M&A.

Much more at the site - the Japanese government through Jogmec is also doing a lot of surveying for future development in Africa and the Americas. They are scaling back on nuclear power. Wonder what their thinking is. $5.2 Billion is a large number for any economy.

That so-called 'dirty' coal - a gold mine

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There are a lot of valuable minerals in the residue of burning coal. Some of them are toxic to human health so the unregulated burning of coal on a large scale is not a good thing.

CAVEAT: I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA during the heyday of the steel mills and am really healthy - my Dad had to bring an extra shirt to work every day because his collar would be stained by lunchtime from the coal smoke in the air. He lived to be 94 years old. I am 66 and feel like a very strong 40.

That being said, there are two things to consider with coal.
First, we have a lot of it. More than most people can imagine. Several thousand years worth for just the known fields.
Second, we have the technology to use it without the impact it used to have. Mountains no longer need to be removed. Built into the mining contracts are the provisos that the mining company restore the land to what it used to be like. Sure, the countours will be different but the vegetation will be all native and in 20 years, it would take a trained geologist to tell that anything had ever happened to the site. Toxic runoff is a thing of the past. Using the stuff is now possible with stack scrubbers removing more than 99.9% of the contaminants.

Now it seems, some people in Russia are looking at the removed contaminants as another revenue stream after energy production. From Russia Today:

Modern alchemy: Russian scientists discover how to extract gold from coal
Researchers from the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Far East branch say they are building a facility to make gold out of coal.

Although the science is no fairy tale, to the dismay of business owners, the process is not as productive as they might hope – burning a ton of coal yields one gram of gold, tops.

At present, the scientists are setting the bar even lower, expecting a yield of 0.5 grams, or 1,500 rubles, per ton.

“We burn a ton – we gain 1,500 rubles,” Oleg Ageev, CEO of Complex Innovative Technologies of the Amur Scientific Center, said in a press statement.

At current exchange rates, that is roughly $23 US dollars.

Not much but a good start - remember, this is the revenue after the cost of purification and extraction so it is not too shabby.

There are a lot of other valuable minerals in coal particulates - mercury, lead, uranium, monazite (Thorium ore) some precious metals (depending on the origin) - this is not a waste stream, this is a resource and revenue opportunity.

Great article at The Daily Caller News Foundation:

Analysis: Enviro Groups Don’t Like It When You Check Their Math
A recent report by a prominent environmental group claims that energy efficiency measures have reduced American power bills, but a closer look at the data shows this may not be the case.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found states that did not invest in green energy projects and energy efficiency measures “are paying for it with both higher electricity bills and greater amounts of power-plant pollution emissions from fossil fuel-fired electricity generation.”

The report further claims states that invested heavily in green energy and efficiency measures have cut electricity rates or kept rates down, but a DCNF examination of NRDC’s data doesn’t support the group’s conclusion.

Statistical regressions run by TheDCNF using the same data found no statistically significant positive correlation between the number of pro-green energy polices in a state and falling power bills. In fact, statistical analysis determined that states with falling power bills tend to have very few policies supporting green energy and states with rising power bills had numerous policies.

Oops - pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. Some numbers:

The top four states with the fastest rising power bills were Hawaii with a 44 percent rise, Connecticut with a 39 percent rise, Massachusetts with a 29 percent rise, and Rhode Island with a 28 percent rise. Washington D.C. had a 37 percent rise.

Each of those states has more pro-green energy subsidies or energy efficiency measures than the national average, according to the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency. Democrats almost exclusively control the state governments in each of those states, and none of them voted Republican in the last five presidential elections.

The five states with the fastest falling power bills were Louisiana with a 14 percent fall, Illinois with a 12 percent fall, Arizona with a nine percent fall, Arkansas with a seven percent fall, and North Carolina with a four percent fall.

Other states with falling power bills included Maine, Iowa and Washington state. These states have fewer subsidies and energy efficiency measures than the average.

The cost of electricity goes into everything we buy - my store spends a couple hundred bucks each month just keeping stuff refrigerated and frozen.

Going to be a rough winter for France - they used to derive about 75% of their power through nuclear energy but as the plants have aged, they have not built new ones. They used to export electricity and now have to import. The joys of moving to From Reuters:

France could face winter power cuts, hit by nuclear dependence
France could impose power cuts this winter due to an electricity shortage, an unprecedented step in the wealthy nation which would expose the vulnerabilities of its dependence on nuclear power.

The warning was issued on Tuesday by grid operator RTE, which said power supply had been hit by the closure of around a third of the country's ageing nuclear reactors for safety checks. The country's regulator has ordered a review of the strength of crucial steel components after the discovery of manufacturing irregularities.

France relies on nuclear for three-quarters of its power, more than any other country. RTE said the amount of nuclear power available was at a record low for this time of year, around 10,000 megawatts lower than a year ago - equivalent to more than twice the consumption of Paris and Marseille combined.

Bad news on the conservation front:

Power supplies are likely to be most stretched in the first three weeks of December, RTE said. With about a third of French homes heated by electricity, the country is highly sensitive to cold snaps.

Emphasis mine - they could have offered mini-split heat pumps through the utility and saved a lot of money there. Too late now though. The safety checks are actually a very good thing:

The discovery last year of weak spots in the steel of the EPR reactor state-backed utility EDF is building in Flamanville in northwest France led nuclear regulator ASN to take a closer look at manufacturing procedures of state-owned reactor builder Areva.

In May, the ASN said the anomalies found in Flamanville had also been discovered in reactors being operated by EDF and ordered safety tests on 18 out of EDF's 58 reactors.

Unlike other nuclear countries such as the United States and China, which have used different reactor models and suppliers, all French reactors are pressurised water reactors made by the same manufacturer, a forerunner of Areva.

This standardisation allowed France to build reactors relatively quickly and cheaply, but also created the risk that a generic design flaw or manufacturing problem would affect many reactors and incapacitate a large part of the fleet. Green activists have warned of this possible scenario for years.

The Green activists do not know what the fsck they are talking about. The French did something that the US Navy does and it is the best way to go. Each USA and Chinese nuke plant is different. Sure, incorporating new technology is a good thing but when you have a proven design, it makes a lot of sense to duplicate that design. Henry Ford did this with the mass production of automobiles and made it so the common family could afford to buy a car. The economy of scale. With reactors, this is even better because if there is a problem at one plant with a certain pump's bearings, you isolate the problem, reproduce it, fix it and then go through and retrofit every other reactor with the same pump bearing upgrade. End of problem.

This so-called "generic design flaw" is a feature and not a bug.

What was that peak oil thing again?

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From the United States Geological Survey:

USGS Estimates 20 Billion Barrels of Oil in Texas’ Wolfcamp Shale Formation
The Wolfcamp shale in the Midland Basin portion of Texas’ Permian Basin province contains an estimated mean of 20 billion barrels of oil, 16 trillion cubic feet of associated natural gas, and 1.6 billion barrels of natural gas liquids, according to an assessment by the U.S. Geological Survey. This estimate is for continuous (unconventional) oil, and consists of undiscovered, technically recoverable resources.

The estimate of continuous oil in the Midland Basin Wolfcamp shale assessment is nearly three times larger than that of the 2013 USGS Bakken-Three Forks resource assessment, making this the largest estimated continuous oil accumulation that USGS has assessed in the United States to date.

“The fact that this is the largest assessment of continuous oil we have ever done just goes to show that, even in areas that have produced billions of barrels of oil, there is still the potential to find billions more,” said Walter Guidroz, program coordinator for the USGS Energy Resources Program. “Changes in technology and industry practices can have significant effects on what resources are technically recoverable, and that’s why we continue to perform resource assessments throughout the United States and the world.”

We have a proven reserve of 36.5 billion barrels, this discovery almost doubles the number. We have a nice pulse of energy to sustain our development until we get back on track with modern nuclear.

Nuclear power - first in twenty years

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We need to be building ten of these things per year - from the Tennessee Valley Authority:

Watts Bar Unit 2 Complete and Commercial
The nation’s first new nuclear generation in 20 years has officially entered commercial operation after the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watts Bar Unit 2 successfully completed an extensive series of power ascension tests and reliably operated at full power for more than three weeks.

“TVA’s mission is to make life better in the Valley by providing reliable, low-cost energy, protecting our area’s natural resources and working to attract business and growth—all priorities simultaneously supported by the completion of Watts Bar Unit 2,” said Bill Johnson, TVA president and CEO.

“Watts Bar Unit 2 is a key part of our commitment to produce cleaner energy without sacrificing the reliability and low cost that draws both industry and residents to our area.”

The $4.7 billion capital construction project was completed on budget. The unit now moves to working asset status.

Cheap power - if they built LFTRs, they would be even cheaper - no pressure vessel needed with these. All the politics about carbon and we still don't recognize that nuclear is the way to go.

Limiting the EPA

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Great news from the Beckley, West Virginia Register-Herald

Federal judge rules in favor of coal companies in EPA battle
A federal judge in West Virginia ruled Monday that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must comply with a federal code requiring the agency to evaluate the impact of its air pollution regulations on jobs.

U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey agreed with Murray Energy Corporation and its subsidiaries that the EPA's actions have caused harm to coal mining communities.

“In this case, the plaintiffs have alleged that the actions of the EPA have had a coercive effect on the power generating industry, essentially forcing them to discontinue the use of coal," the ruling said. "This Court finds these allegations sufficient to show that the injuries claimed by the plaintiffs are fairly traceable to the earlier actions of the EPA."

The EPA argued any injury caused to the plaintiffs would only be traceable to earlier EPA actions, not the failure of the EPA to conduct evaluations of job loss, but Judge Bailey disagreed.

The civil action suit said the plaintiffs combined employ more than 7,200 workers and comprise the largest underground coal mining operation in the U.S. The plaintiffs allege the EPA's actions have caused a reduced market for coal, which has threatened the economic vitality of the companies and their employees.

Good!  It is time to punch back twice as hard on those who would demonize coal. Raw, it is dirty and when burned in an uncontrolled manner will release a lot of toxins. I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania during the heyday of the steel mills and the atmosphere was palpably dirty. There are now clean ways to use coal. No reason to limit its use - it is abundant and cheap.

Now this is how you do

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From the Kemper Project website:

State-of-the-Art Technology
The Kemper County energy facility is a 21st-century integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) design called TRIG. IGCC converts lignite coal to synthesis gas. The lignite is sent through a device called a gasifier where it undergoes a chemical reaction creating a synthesis gas. The gas is then used to generate power by firing it in a gas turbine.

TRIG was developed over the last two decades at the Power Systems Development Facility (PSDF) in Wilsonville, Ala. - a research facility for the department of energy and Southern Company.

A unique feature of TRIG is the high-efficiency design that sends lignite not converted to gas in the initial process back for a second round of gasification. This allows a high rate of lignite-to-gas conversion to take place at a lower temperature - and thus lower cost - than what's possible with other available gasification technologies.

TRIG produces gas that can be used to generate electricity while making it easier to remove emissions, such as carbon dioxide, that otherwise would end up in the atmosphere.

Clean coal power - I wonder how long it will take for the green marxists to backpedal on their anti-coal platform. The way they were demonizing it, you think that there was something actually bad about it. All that wonderful cheap fuel to recharge their Teslas. Plus, it is baseload - it doesn't go away when the wind stops blowing (or blows too fast).

Infogalactic has more on IGCC. I would prefer LFTR - proven nuclear technology and lots of other nations are building them. Cheap to build and chep to run. The spent fuel needs to be sequestered for about 300 years max.

An interesting connection - from the Australia First Party website:

SA Blackout caused by China and cheap shoddy chinese steel dumped in Australia
So, a spring storm off the Bight blew over 23 electricity transmission towers south of Port Augusta, which caused the SA Blackout.

Cold fronts are a weekly occurrence over southern Australia. Sure, lightning strikes will trigger auto-tripping and isolation protocols as a safety precaution to the electricity network. But 23 steel towers blown over? Why?

Dodgy towers not rated to a maximum of 120 km wind? You’re kidding! But that was the reported maximum wind gust during the storm of September 28, 2016 this week. Yet south of Port Augusta where the ElectraNet transmission towers blew over, the Bureau of Meteorology recorded only a maximum wind gust of just 83 kph!

A bit more:

Welding Technology Institute of Australia (WTIA) says 80% of fabricated steel from China is shoddy and not safe and fails Australian standards.

A lot more at the article. They were spending so much money on foolishness that they had to use the lowest bidder for their transmission towers. Now, who will they use to replace them? The Chinese again? Here is another article on the blackout pointing out the silliness of windmills - from the Australian Broadcasting Company:

SA storms: Rushing to renewable energy targets puts sector's reputation at risk
The last time an entire state blacked out was on the night the Beatles arrived in Sydney in 1964.

So what happened in South Australia yesterday was rare and the repercussions could be vast.

The key question is whether that state's heavy reliance on wind turbines might have increased the risk of a state-wide blackout. More broadly, the event will supercharge concerns over how renewable energy is being integrated into a national grid that was not designed to cope with it.

Wind presents two problems. First, it is intermittent, so all of it has to be backed up by baseload power for those days when the wind does not blow.

The second is a diabolically tricky engineering problem. For an electricity network to function, demand and supply have to be kept in the perfect harmony of 50 hertz every second of every day. If the frequency gets out of tune, the system identifies a fault that could destroy it and that trips the shutdown switch.

This electrical harmony is called synchronous supply, and thermal power is very good at delivering it to the grid.

Thermal power being coal or gas. Finally, it is not just Australia getting bad steel - here is a story from the New Zealand website stuff:

Chinese steel fails strength test
Roading bosses are defending their quality control standards after 1600 tonnes of Chinese steel destined for a major Waikato project was found to be below standard.

The substandard steel piles were to be used on four bridges along the Huntly section of the Waikato Expressway.

Memo to self - check for the country of origin...

New nukes in China

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China is doing some wonderful work with nuclear power - from Neutron Bytes:

China comes calling for CANDU
The Montreal, Canada, based engineering and construction giant SNC-Lavalin, which five years ago, bought AECL’s reactor division from the government, has a new joint venture with China National Nuclear Corp. (CNNC) and Shanghai Electric Co.

The immediate results of the agreement will be the creation of two nuclear reactor design centers, one in China and the other in Canada. The design centers will collaborate to complete the Advanced Fuel CANDU Reactor (AFCR). It is expected that the first two units will be then built in China and then the reactor will offered via export to global markets.

It is not LFTR but CANDU is an excellent design from many standpoints:

What is CANDU?
CANDU stands for CANada Deuterium Uranium, because it was invented in Canada, uses deuterium oxide (also known as heavy water) as a moderator, and uranium as a fuel.

CANDU reactors are unique in that they use natural, unenriched uranium as a fuel; with some modification, they can also use enriched uranium, mixed fuels, and even thorium. Thus, CANDU reactors are ideally suited for using spent fuel from light water nuclear reactors, or downblended uranium from decommissioned nuclear weapons, as fuel, helping to reduce global arsenals.

They still use high-pressure water to cool the core which leads to potential steam explosion if there is a breach in the pressure vessel. Running on unenriched Uranium is a big plus - the energy densities are not as high so recovery from an incident is not as immediate a concern. The fact that it can run with Thorium or other reactor waste is a bonus.

From Bloomberg:

How New Nuclear Could Lift Renewables at a Third of Hinkley Cost
A former chief scientist for one of the world’s biggest consumer-goods companies says he can make nuclear power cheaper and safer and wants $30 million so that he can prove it.

After working 25 years at Unilever Plc, Ian Scott came out of retirement in 2013 to found Moltex Energy LLP. Three years later, the biochemist says he’s come up with an atomic-reactor design that produces more power for less money than standard pressured-water unit like the ones planned at Hinkley Point in Somerset, England.

“The Stable Salt Reactor is a U.K.-developed technology that can produce electricity at a third of the Hinkley-C strike price,” Scott said in an interview at Bloomberg’s office in London. “It can store energy at grid scale -- catalyzing the further rollout of renewables -- and can be powered by the country’s existing nuclear waste.”

A bit more:

Scott figures $30 million will buy his design the time it needs to win first-stage regulatory approval. The Moltex reactor builds off molten-salt technologies developed at the U.S. Oak Ridge National Laboratory that were abandoned because they couldn’t be used militarily.

Thorium does not go Ka-Boom so the military was not interested. The industry did not want to support two different fuel refining processes so they went with Uranium.

The website is here: Moltex Energy. I do not like that they are using zirconium metal in the fuel rods - this adds risk to the design. The traditional LFTR reactor is walk-away safe. This design is a lot safer than the current pressurized units but not as good as it could get.

Two good videos:

I'll believe it when I see it

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From Cornell University's The Cornell Daily Sun:

Cornell Researchers Use CO2 to Make Electricity
Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases have been long characterized as one of the leading causes of global warming. And with the seemingly limitless sources of emission — from general breathing of countless living species to vehicular and industrial emissions — the amount of carbon dioxide seems to be ever increasing. It is then, a huge waste of a resource when you consider how comparatively limited the human use of this abundant gas is.

The paper “The O2-assisted Al/CO2 electrochemical cell: A system for CO2 capture/conversion and electric power generation”, published in Science Advances, aims to change that.

Prof. Lynden Archer, chemical and biomolecular engineering, the James A. Friend Family Distinguished Professor of Engineering, and Wajdi Al Sadat, grad — who are the authors of this paper — have created a cell which can use carbon dioxide to produce electricity via electrochemical reactions.

Like I said, I'll believe it when I see it - I call these kinds of announcements an Aisle 14 announcement. I will believe it when these units are for sale at Walmart on Aisle 14 for $49.97. CO2 is an ash - it is the end result of combustion and has no more energy to release. What are they having to pump into their cell to drive this reaction?

Nuclear power - just not here

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Sad to believe that this source of unlimited carbon-free power is being ignored. From the MIT Technology Review:

Fail-Safe Nuclear Power
Cheaper and cleaner nuclear plants could finally become reality—but not in the United States, where the technology was invented more than 50 years ago.
In February I flew through the interior of a machine that could represent the future of nuclear power. I was on a virtual-reality tour at the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics in China, which plans in the next few years to build an experimental reactor whose design makes a meltdown far less likely. Inside the core—a superhot, intensely radioactive place where no human will ever go—the layers of the power plant peeled back before me: the outer vessel of stainless steel, the inner layer of a high-tech alloy, and finally the nuclear fuel itself, tens of thousands of billiard-ball-size spheres containing particles of radioactive material.

Given unprecedented access to the inner workings of China’s advanced nuclear R&D program, I was witnessing a new nuclear technology being born. Through the virtual reactor snaked an intricate system of pipes carrying the fluid that makes this system special: a molten salt that cools the reactor and carries heat to drive a turbine and make electricity. At least in theory, this type of reactor can’t suffer the kind of catastrophic failure that happened at Chernobyl and Fukushima, making unnecessary the expensive and redundant safety systems that have driven up the cost of conventional reactors. What’s more, the new plants should produce little waste and might even eat up existing nuclear waste. They could run on uranium, which powers 99 percent of the nuclear power plants in the world, or they could eventually run on thorium, which is cleaner and more abundant. The ultimate goal of the Shanghai Institute: to build a molten-salt reactor that could replace the 1970s-era technology in today’s nuclear power plants and help wean China off the coal that fouls the air of Shanghai and Beijing, ushering in an era of cheap, abundant, zero-carbon energy.

Over the next two decades China hopes to build the world’s largest nuclear power industry. Plans include as many as 30 new conventional nuclear plants (in addition to the 34 reactors operating today) as well as a variety of next-generation reactors, including thorium molten-salt reactors, high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (which, like molten-salt reactors, are both highly efficient and inherently safe), and sodium-cooled fast reactors (which can consume spent fuel from conventional reactors to make electricity). Chinese planners want not only to dramatically expand the country’s domestic nuclear capacity but also to become the world’s leading supplier of nuclear reactors and components, a prospect that many Western observers find alarming.

Much more at the site - the author: Richard Martin, is a senior editor at MIT Technology Review. He knows what he is talking about. The guy driving the efforts in China: Jiang Mianheng - learned his craft at our own Drexel University. We invented the technology 50 years ago, we are teaching the Chinese (and India and Norway) how to build it and we are not lifting a finger to do it here. Cheap energy is the salvation of any culture.

Why does not work

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Great article from The Wall Street Journal:

Why Venture Capitalists Abandoned Clean Energy
A decade ago, clean-energy companies were the hot trend that venture capitalists were chasing. Oil and natural-gas prices were on the rise and Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” had just made its premiere.

But high hopes that the clean-energy sector would replicate the big returns of biomedical and software startups quickly faded. Instead, monumental losses piled up: Venture-capital investors lost more than half of the $25 billion they pumped into clean-energy technology startups from 2006 to 2011.

It is not economically viable unless there are large government subsidies (ie: our tax dollars). There follows an interview - here is just one exchange:

WSJ: Why didn’t it work for VCs to continue betting on clean-tech startups?
DR. SIVARAM: First, we found these investments were illiquid. They would tie up capital for much longer than the three- to five-year time horizon that VCs preferred.

It also takes a lot of money to get fundamental science right and to scale it up. Building extensive factories and building demonstration projects to scale, those were not activities that VCs ended up being willing to fund at the hundreds of millions of dollars level.

Third, energy companies or clean-tech companies were going into markets that are legacy industries, for which a product already exists that does a pretty good job. So when you’re a solar-panel company competing with cheap electricity from natural gas, you don’t have the benefits of high margins. You instead have to compete at the razor-thin margins of the commodity markets.

And finally, the fourth reason we found was that the valuation premium that companies might receive upon exit, even if they were successful, simply was not high enough to justify the investment put into them.

I would love to use alternative energy but it is not economically viable and nothing is peeking over the horizon. What is viable is nuclear reactors - LFTR and nothing else.

A bit of a game-changer - Oil

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Great news from CNN:

Oil! Massive shale discovery in Texas
Apache revealed the huge find this week after more than two years of stealthily buying up land, extensive geological research and rigorous testing.

The Houston company estimates the discovery, dubbed "Alpine High," could be worth at least $8 billion.

Apache believes the new shale play spans at least five formations, contains over three billion barrels of oil and 75 trillion cubic feet of rich natural gas.

Now that is one big milkshake... 

Good news on finally seeing the light

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Editorial by Carol Browner - former Environmental Protection Agency administrator and former director of the White House Office on Energy and Climate Change Policy. From Huffington Post:

The Game Changer: New York’s Clean Energy Standard and Nuclear Energy
For years, I’ve said that when it comes to the challenge of fighting climate change, we will need every tool available to reduce carbon pollution and create opportunities for new clean energy technology.

Yet, despite a world that demands more carbon-free energy — not less — public policies have left some of the tools in the toolbox. Until now.

Last month, with the help of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s leadership, the New York State PSC took unprecedented action in passing a Clean Energy Standard that, in addition to ensuring ample opportunity for more wind, solar, and energy efficiency, recognizes the important role of existing carbon-free nuclear power. This is a game-changer: never before has nuclear received economic credit for its environmental benefits.

New York State is now the first government to include nuclear in its clean energy policy, providing a mechanism that will help keep New York’s nuclear energy plants open. In the wake of an energy market that did not previously adequately value this power, the state faced the very real prospect of having these plants shut down.

Well, she still seems to be stuck on stupid when it comes to carbon's benefits to Earth and plants in particular but her promoting nukes is a wonderful change from the bad old days. Now if they would just start developing some of the newer technologies and get us going a bit faster. Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor is an awesome design.

We built them back in the 1960's - the fast breeder reactors but Thorium does not go Ka-Boom and our military needed stuff that went Ka-Boom under the right conditions so the nuclear industry decided to just implement one chain of materials for both weapons and nuclear power. Just scratching the surface, we have about 5,000 years worth of easily mined Thorium to meet our every energy need - it is a very common element.

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the Air Vent
Tom Nelson
Watts Up With That?

Science and Medicine
Derek Lowe
Junk Science
Life in the Fast Lane
Luboš Motl
New Scientist
Next Big Future
Ptak Science Books
Science Blog

Geek Stuff
Ars Technica
Boing Boing
Don Lancaster's Guru's Lair
Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories
Hack a Day
Kevin Kelly - Cool Tools
Slashdot: News for nerds
The Register
The Daily WTF

The Argyle Sweater
Chip Bok
Broadside Cartoons
Day by Day
Medium Large
Michael Ramirez
Prickly City
User Friendly
What The Duck

Awkward Family Photos
Cake Wrecks
Not Always Right
Sober in a Nightclub
You Drive What?

Business and Economics
The Austrian Economists
Carpe Diem
Coyote Blog

Photography and Art
Digital Photography Review
James Gurney
Joe McNally's Blog
The Online Photographer

A Western Heart
American Digest
The AnarchAngel
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler
Babalu Blog
Belmont Club
Bayou Renaissance Man
Classical Values
Cold Fury
David Limbaugh
Defense Technology
Doug Ross @ Journal
Grouchy Old Cripple
Irons in the Fire
James Lileks
Lowering the Bar
Maggie's Farm
Marginal Revolution
Michael J. Totten
Mostly Cajun
Power Line
Questions and Observations
Rachel Lucas
Roger L. Simon
Sense of Events
Sound Politics
The Strata-Sphere
The Smallest Minority
The Volokh Conspiracy
Tim Blair
Weasel Zippers

Gone but not Forgotten...
A Coyote at the Dog Show
Bad Eagle
Steven DenBeste
democrats give conservatives indigestion
Cox and Forkum
The Diplomad
Priorities & Frivolities
Gut Rumbles
Mean Mr. Mustard 2.0
Neptunus Lex
Other Side of Kim
Ramblings' Journal
Sgt. Stryker
shining full plate and a good broadsword
A Physicist's Perspective
The Daily Demarche
Wayne's Online Newsletter

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the Energy category.

Electronics is the previous category.

Environmental is the next category.

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