Author: Capt. Walkabout

Under Sail Once More – Westward Bound

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August 4, 2016 – Canton,  Texas  (Transplanted from WordPress page)

Despite the massive incompetence that passes for management in the Walmart distribution center in Johnstown in upstate New York, the gate guards and  receiving staff were most polite and helpful. It just goes to show you that places are often remembered for their least admirable details.  Another New York example of that phenomenon  is their Arrogant Senator, the lower case chuck schumer.

When finally it came, it had been a “live” unloading, which means that I hung around while they unloaded the trailer I had brought.  First, they assign you a door and hand you a pager.  You are then expected to back the trailer into the door and wait for the cargo to be unloaded.  There is a mechanical arm that grabs the bumper of your trailer, in addition to wheel chocks and the trailer brakes that prevent you from moving while the forklifts run in and out the trailer carrying pallets of meat.  These precautions were not apparently enough to assuage the misgivings of Safety, so we are required to disconnect the tractor from the trailer and a receiving foremen locks out the trailer air hose connector as well.  The subject of airbrakes could make an entire post and I’ll put that on the list.


Besides all that, there is a red light flashing by the door, visible in your driver-side mirror that prohibits you from moving anything.   When the light turns green, we ain’t done yet! You have to wait until the pager explodes with flashing blue neon lights and go to the receiving window to get the paperwork.  All this may take four or five hours.  Some shippers and receivers have no concern whatsoever for the fact that drivers are paid by the mile and sitting in a door is a zero mileage trip.

By contrast, the next load I delivered was to Golden State Foods in Garner, NC.  There, I was admitted within 10 minutes of arrival.  I had only to back the trailer into a cargo door (no  need even to open the trailer doors), disconnect from (drop) that trailer and hook up to the trailer in the next door…and leave.  The whole thing took less than an hour.  See, New York?

Fortunately, the next load was only 37 miles away.  Unfortunately, the appointment to pick up was the next morning at 1 PM.  However, they give themselves until 11 PM to actually come across with the load. twenty eight hours away in time.  You can bet that it will happen within a half hour of that last deadline.  Here at Clayton, NC,  they will waste your time, but they will also give you a place to park and wait, on site (unlike Walmart, NY).   I took that load of meat to Texas in two full days of travel totaling over 1100 miles.   Now I sit in a truck stop at Canton, Texas for about 18 hours, in order to arrive in Garland, Texas at the proper time tomorrow.  I could have stopped further out, but then I risk being late for some accident or traffic jam.  The Federal regulations and the company’s speed limits have made this job a game of “Hurry Up and Wait”.

The First Mate was in Dallas with youngest son for University “camp” and she drove out to see me.  We took some photos. 

Definition:  First Mate – an officer on a ship , second in rank only to the  Captain  and responsible for the security of both Captain and Vessel.

CaptainAtTheHelm

Above: The Captain at the Helm

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 The First Mate

Katy Christmas Market-Dec 1

One, Two, Three, Etc. is an arts and craft company in Houston that offers Peruvian  jewelry, ornaments and accessories.  Coming soon to the  Ninth Annual Katy Old-Fashioned Christmas Festival 10 AM – 5 PM Saturday . Scroll down for a map.

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See the facebook page  for One, Two, Three, Etc.   ______________________ Proprietor Maria is also a Dream Vacations travel agent.


Find One, Two, Three, Etc. at Booth 90 on Avenue C, between Second and Third Streets

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Richmond

I am moving posts from the old WordPress site to Goingwalkabout.blog.  Please excuse the apparent anachronisms.

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August 1, 2016

Richmond, Virginia

Several of you have suggested that I need to post more photos and I agree.  Now that I am a solo driver, it is difficult for me to take photos while driving. I must keep my eyes on the road and I can snap un-aimed photos out the window – about one in ten are worth looking at.  So, mostly I will concentrate on photos while parked.  And where better to start than what is outside right now.

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Above:  The view from the “Captain’s Cabin”.

This is the vista that greets me this morning.  I am at a Pilot Truck Stop to the South of Richmond Virginia.  My truck is backed into a row of trucks that looks out on to the fuel isles.  From left to right, top to bottom:  The white truck over there would normally be hustled off by the  manager for blocking the Scales.  The reason he has not been is just barely visible as a Safety Ribbon indicating that the scales are currently out of order.  As I mentioned before, these scales are used by the majority of drivers to check their legality.  You might think that shippers would assure this, but you would be mistaken.  The driver is alone responsible for legal road weight.

The scale measures weights by the axle (or tandem).  The “ticket” received has four numbers that tell the driver all he needs to know. I’ll post a photo of same. The black rectangle at lower left covers my company’s name.  We won’t talk about them, yet.

ScaleTicket.jpg

The first weight is the front wheels that steer the truck.  Those are allowed to carry 12,000 pounds.  The next number is the weight of the drive axles – that is the cluster of eight wheels directly behind the driver that move the truck.  They, together, are allowed 34,000 pounds of weight.  As you see, I came in exactly on the limit and I’ll be buying a lottery ticket today.  The next number is the weight on the trailer wheels and that is also limited to 34,000 pounds.  What I did after this was to slide the trailer wheels forward to balance the load, overshooting by a hundred or two. After that, I put some more fuel in the tractor, so the two should be as close to balanced as makes no difference.  The last number is the combination total and that may be as much as 80,000 pounds.  For reference, a passenger car may weight about 2000 or 3000 pounds.  This is the Major Leagues, people!

 

Back to the view above.  The fuel stations each have two diesel pumps because the trucks all have a  fuel tank on each side.  They are filled simultaneously.  It is necessary for me to also pull up about 20 feet after fueling the tractor and fuel the trailer tank that feeds the refrigeration unit.  Obviously, that must be independent of the tractor, since these trailers may spend much time alone, waiting for transport.  When the place is busy, the trucks line up behind one another and ettiquete demands that when you are through fueling, you pull up and leave room for the next guy before you go in for your receipt and coffee, etc.  This has the effect of creating parking across from the fuel bays that has a long, easy backing situation for drivers who do not excel at backing (i.e., your humble narrator).

In the cab, you see (left) the curtain which, with its  mate on the right, closes for Captain’s privacy.  Then the Driver’s chair (very comfortable) and the steering wheel.  Next the instrument panel (I know what almost all of those do).  Above that is the satellite communication and navigation unit.  This is the source of the computer voice “Jill” who tells me where to go.  Below the panel is the transmission shifter (Nine forward gears and two reverse).  Right of that is the Captain’s Office.  It only looks like a piece of plywood with a laptop on it.  I am seated there now, writing this.  Both seats have armrests as you see on the Office chair.  The plastic bag in the foreground, right is the ship’s bakery, with a loaf of whole wheat bread.

I need to be rolling soon.

Over the Road,

Steve

Energy Corridor Farmers’ Market

For Saturday November 24:       

One, Two, Three, Etc. is an arts and craft company in Houston that offers Peruvian  jewelry, ornaments and accessories at local Craft Shows and Farmers’ Markets.

SteveTrucker2  Homepage   DreamVacations   Portfolio

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Proprietor Maria is also a Dream Vacations travel agent.    Saturday, November 24 will find the company’s booth  at the Energy Corridor Farmers’ Market   (E.C.F.M.) at 14710 Grisby Rd.,  Houston, TX 77079 near Highway 6 and the Katy (I-10) Freeway.  Please see the map below.     Drop by and have a look, after Nine AM.

 

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In Irons

I am moving posts from the previous WordPress site to Goingwalkabout.blog – please excuse any apparent anachronisms.

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July 29, 2016

Fonda, New York  (We decided it was named for Henry, not Jane)

The phrase “in irons” is used in sailing.  I had a sailboat once.  Actually, I had two.  The first was an 18 foot boat on a trailer that would not fit in the garage.  I spent a lot of time, effort and money on this boat and got a few hours of pleasure out of it.  It would have been far cheaper and far less trouble to rent a boat every few months for a few hours of sailing.  Unless you live on a lake where you could leave the boat in the water and unless you are comfortably retired and can spend some time actually sailing, I would advise you to do the same.

The far better solution for wannabe sailors is to have a friend with a boat.  That way you can make day trips on a sailboat or maybe even spend a weekend, sleeping in the tiny little guest bunk, while the owner enjoys the Captain’s cabin.  He’s entitled to the luxury, of course since he has to pay for and maintain this white elephant.  I had a friend with a boat and it was a bit of fun. He was dating my wife’s friend and the four of us spent a few days hanging around the boat in dock and we made a day trip on Galveston Bay… before  Hurricane Ike.  With the insurance money, he bought an apartment on the Seawall in Galveston.  Notice he did not buy another sailboat.  He learned his lesson and went looking for a friend with a boat, as well.

Where was I?  Oh yes  – “in irons”.   As you may know, sailboats can “sail close to the wind” by tacking – actually moving opposite to the wind direction at about a 45 degree angle.   By reversing in a zig-zag fashion, the boat can move upwind.  After the “zig” the sailor will turn by 90 degrees and the boat will turn to swing around and, having passed directly into the wind and then, carried by momentum , it will “come about” and the wind will fill the sail on the opposite side (the zag).

If, however, the helmsman is slow off the mark and does not pull off this maneuver sharply, the boat can wind up pointed directly into the wind, having lost all momentum.  Steering is now useless, because there is no moving water for the rudder to bear against and turn the boat further.  The boat is now “in irons” and will slowly begin to be pushed backward, losing the progress made by tacking.  It is something that is difficult to remedy.  Much progress can be lost.  At the end of this post, I will tell you the secret to getting “out” of “in irons”.

Now, I went through all that to describe why I am where I am now.  I am learning that shipping industry has participants that demonstrate the worst qualities of humanity.  They are hostile and vindictive.  They are petty and arbitrary.  They can be that way because they represent a lot of business to the freight companies.  The freight companies will put up with this abuse for the business.  Or, rather I should say, they will allow their drivers to be abused for that reason.

This cannot be assigned to companies in general, it has more to do with particular installations.  I arrived early at this particular receiver and was turned away because that is what they do.  Now, I have to go park at a truck stop and wait.  Unfortunately, the Federal Regulations say I have to stop driving before I  will be welcome at the receiver.  So I try to arrange a new time.  The management at this installation prefers not to do that, but to sarcastically call me a “no-show”.

So, I terminated that conversation and reported as “late” (while I was still early) and requested a “repower” on the satellite communication unit.  A repower is where someone could come and get my load and take it to the installation on time.  That did not  work and that is understandable, because there are only so many trucks in the company and besides, they operate with a skeleton crew at night and things seldom happen then.  So, finally, “dispatch” tells me to go in the morning to the same gate.  When I arrive, the gate guard makes a call and sure enough they can use this shipment to put meat on the shelves on the weekend.  So they assign a door for unloading.  But…one last check shows that the order has been cancelled.  I guess it is more important for the management to punish a driver for being early than to put product on the shelves for the weekend.

So, I am “in irons”  making no progress and no money for at least 19 hours more.  I took this opportunity to scan in my trip sheet with the previous load (with 8 days of hotel expenses – you can’t sleep in the truck while it is in the shop) so that some money will actually come in next week.  Breakdown pay is only $25 per day, so that is welcome.

I also  taped up the frayed and bared cable on the satellite radio/computer that sends assignments, swept out the truck, made some instant chicken soup and cleaned all the glass and mirrors very well (yes, I remembered Dad).

And then, of course, I wrote this for y’all.

Oh, wait!  How to get “out” of “in irons”

To review, you are in your sailboat which is pointed directly into the wind.  You are making no progress and in fact are beginning to drift backward.  What you need to do is go and push the boom.  That is the horizontal pole at the bottom of the sail.

Someone asked me once why they call it the boom.  Well, what you were trying to do when you got ”in irons” was called “coming about”  you were going from zig to zag by passing through an attitude directly into the wind by momentum, carrying over to tack on the other side.  The other way to turn is downwind.  Your sail will be on one side of the boat, going downwind and when you turn through the direct-downwind direction, the sail will suddenly go from one side to the other.  Now, that pole at the bottom of the sail will whip from one side to the other very suddenly. This is called making a “jibe”. The pole, generally speaking is right about at head level for people riding in the boat.  So the “boom” is named for the sound it makes when it collides with your skull.  This is called “onomatopoeia” where words are made directly from sounds.  Other examples of this are “wham” and “hiss”.

By the way, there is usually a rope-and-pulley system between the boom and the base of the mast to cinch the boom down tightly and make better speed.  It is called the “boomvang”.  Once, back in my Geophysicist Days, there was a seismic project called “Boomvang” and nobody else in the  company knew what the heck that meant.

Where was I?

The boom…to get out of “in irons”  you go and push the boom to one side to “back wind”.  That pushes your boat backward.  At the same time, you put the rudder over to the other side, which turns the boat until wind can again fill the sail and you can tack once more on the “zag”.  This is easy on a small boat or on a big one when you have a crewman.  Otherwise, it requires agility and creativity.

In Irons,

Steve

P.S.  I never did say who the small-minded, hostile staff of this upstate New York hell-hole worked for.  It rhymes with “Small Fart”.

Ad Hoc Programming

Seismic processing in remote locations can be an exercise in improvisation.  Likewise, when a system update leaves the office without vital software while IT scrambles to reverse the damage.  After the first few times, it became necessary to write my own utilities for plotting, geometry application, binning, etc.  Programming Action Request response time was measured in years.  We were told not to “Program”. Programs are compiled.  These were “Macros” that are “interpreted”. So, no problem, right?  I mention this in the Resume, but I don’t think you all are getting the idea.  Hence this graphic presentation.

The graphic below is the Excel “Control Panel” for a Seismic trace plotting utility.  There is a background Visual Basic language that puts code behind those command buttons. The spreadsheet acts as the parameter input and status output. Samples are read from the binary SEG-Y standard format and written to a bitmap file. There are many gain and plot color options.

SGY1BMP_Picture

Next is the plot generated by this utility of a United States Geological Survey  stacked section of a seismic  line (5688 traces) collected offshore of New England in 1978.  This is public domain and can be downloaded at the USGS website.

Line32-1978-015-FA-SE-001-39SECTION_RB.png
This was written all by top-down principles “from scratch”.  The header was “built” from USGS metadata and pasted in with MS Paint.

The following utility reads the SEG-Y trace headers and populates a spreadsheet with the information.  The values can be altered with header math or cut-and-paste.  Then the data are written back to the headers to assign geometry.

 

SEGY_Table_Picture
This one evolved over years as an extremely useful tool.  I wrote this from scratch, as well.

Below is the Control Panel for a Fourier Analysis tool to plot an amplitude spectrum.  This was originally for source signatures, so it has maximum and bubble picks, with P/B ratio calculations. again straight from the SEG-Y dataset.  I did look up an algorithm for this, but the VB coding was all my own.  I calibrated by comparing to MASOMO plots – Source Modeling Nerds will understand that. 😉  The trace analyzed here came from that same USGS section plotted above.

FourierAnalysisControlPanel

Below is the amplitude spectrum and a detail plot of the trace itself.  Both appear on another page of the spreadsheet when the “Execute” button is pressed.  This one makes use of the Excel chart generation tools.

FourierAnalysisFrequency

FourierAnalysisWavelet

I wrote a binning application that reads P190 multi-streamer navigation files and writes a holoSeis dataset with full, near, nearmid, farmid and far offset coverage planes. I modified it to handle multi-boat surveys – before PGS managed that trick. 

I wrote one that reads a SEG-Y trace and writes a WAV file. The original 12 second record is mostly below audible range, so I doubled (then) tripled the frequency.  The result (below) are 6 and 4 second recordings with some distortion at the initial reflection off the seafloor (d/t mp3 conversion).  It is still barely in audible range and headphones are required unless you have a system with good low response. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Montana Again

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Rest Area Interstate 84, exit 188, Hermiston, Oregon, December 16, 2016

   I passed this rest area just before the exit to my assigned fuel stop.  When I got to the truck Stop, there was a line of trucks backed up on the ramp up to the fuel islands,  The road was gravel with frozen slush and trucks were slipping around like so many novice ice skaters.  A rig coming out stopped and the driver put down his window, as I did in response.  He tells me to avoid the place unless I need fuel.  I did need fuel of course.  I am instructed to buy fuel here and there is no escape, but I thanked him for trying.  To say this did not bode well is to belabor the obvious.  Why did he stop to speak to me specifically, ignoring the others in line?  I can only guess that he was once a driver for The Company, like myself. 

   When the column of trucks moved forward, my wheels slipped.  I had locked the differential and so had all eight drive wheels spinning.  Fortunately, no one was yet behind me.  I let the whole rig slide back a bit and then steered off the  frozen slush ruts to newer snow, a trick I had just recently learned while walking to rest area bathrooms.  That made some forward progress possible.

  Most of my readers are unfamiliar with icy sidewalks, so while I am on the subject of walking on ice, it also pays to take small steps, keep your hands free to wave around for balance and don’t let anyone rush you.  I was exiting the commuter train station in Oslo, Norway once  (I worked for a Norwegian company, then). All the locals were in a hurry to get somewhere and I was swept up in the crowd.  I made a faux pas (French for “stupid mistake” – I never learned Norwegian) and I slipped on that invisible trap they call black ice.  I landed on the back of my head.  Lucky it wasn’t some important part.  It must have looked bad because a woman screamed.  I told my coworkers about it and for the rest of the week, they watched me for demented behavior – more than usual, that is.

   The fuel islands were chaos.  The truck ahead of me could not gain traction and he finally threw his tire chains under his wheels to make it to the pumps.  He wasn’t the first one to try that.  When I got to the pumps, I found some poor miscreant’s set of tire chains frozen in the ice.  I managed to fuel the tractor and pull up past the islands, to find what military men call a Charlie Foxtrot.  As I am sure I have mentioned before, this is a mnemonic phrase for an abbreviation of a “colorful” (obscene) expression for a massively confused and disorganized collection of human activity.  I did not take any pictures, because no one likes to be recorded in their misery and because I was busy struggling to get by, myself.

   After fueling there was a bottleneck to exit where six lanes converge to one and trucks attempting to park are sliding around blocking the way.  Forty five minutes later, I was back on the entrance ramp, but exiting.  I wanted to warn the poor fool I saw entering, but I was in no mood to stop.  So, I just made the sigh of the cross at him (May God bless you, my son).  He was probably wondering what I was trying to tell him.  I am sure it occurred to him a bit later. 😉

   There might have been a space I could have snagged by blocking the flow, but I wanted out of there.  Dante’s Inferno includes a section of Hell where sinners are imbedded in a frozen icy plane and this was beginning to resemble same. 

   I intentionally reversed my course (a trucker taboo) on the Interstate, found an overpass and returned to this rest area that I passed before.  There were two other trucks with three spaces between them.  I pulled into the center one.

I84RestAreaSereneScene.jpgAbove:  The serenity of the Rest Area contrasts with the Dante’s Inferno of the Frozen Truck Stop

 

I promised Montana pictures and I have not forgotten.  Events accumulate quickly in this Walkabout and I struggle to keep up. Things worthy of notice happen while I am remembering events of days past. Hence, this method of the standard font when remembering and the italics to describe what is happening in the moment.  If it confuses you, imagine how I feel!  About half the time, I can’t say what State I am in (other than that State of Confusion).

I am a bit like Columbus.  He did not know where he was going, didn’t know where he was when he got there and didn’t know where he had been when he got back.

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The Moon over Montana, setting just before the sun rises behind me.

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Arriving at those distant mountains seen before.  The sky brightens with the dawn

GnarlyMountain.jpgGnarly mountains garnished with fresh snow

Outcrop2.jpgAn outcropping of rock too steep for trees interrupts the forest.

RiverDirtyWindshield.jpgA river crossing.  Please excuse the dirty windshield.  Some of the most impressive views are not available for photography since bridges and the winding mountain pass roads require two-handed attention.  This one was an “easy bridge”.  I remind the readers that the walls at the edges of bridges and scenic steep drop-offs are about three feet tall.  That would stop a passenger car from careening over the edge.  But, my Decaton cargo is stacked on a trailer floor that starts at about three feet above the ground and continues to a height approaching fourteen feet.  It would easily careen over the wall and into a river or over a thousand foot cliff.  The wall, in fact would only insure that the rig would tumble into the abyss, rather than merely plunge into same.  Therefore, I must admit that many of the most stunning vistas pass unphotographed while I strangle the steering wheel with both hands!

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Through a National Forest.  

RiverValley1.jpgThe river shares the valley with the highway.

RestArea.jpgA snow covered rest area somewhere in the middle.  I should make notes of where these pictures are taken.   So quickly pass the miles and the vivid scenery that time and place are soon forgotten.

      

A Study in Contrast.  Very black cows on very white snow (this photo has run away – I will try to find it and force it back here – life is hard for photos;-)

MontanaSnowMoonlit.jpgMoonshine on the snow illuminates the landscape in a soft and eerie blue light.  I am not sure what caused that streak, just left of center.  I am sure it is not a comet, because I’ve seen a few.

MontanaSnowValleyMajestic2.jpgOut of the mountain pass into a valley.  The photos just do not convey the majesty of the vista that reveals itself to me as I descend.  It was far more breathtaking than what you see here.  I guess you just have to be there in person to get the full impact.  You may begin to understand what drives me to travel.

EndMontana.jpgThe mountains loom over me as I glance (keeping eyes mostly on the road) up at them.  I am only half-joking when I say that I could have sold tickets for the trip I made across Big Sky Country.  The photos may hint at that awesome beauty, but far more vivid images remain only in my memory.  This is a sign for Exit Zero, at the Western end of Montana. 

 

Over The Road

Steve

Whence Electricity?

SteveTrucker2    DreamVacations    June 15, 2018

The word “whence” is a Middle English term that means “from where”.  Use of this word has the advantage of eliminating dangling prepositions (as in:  Where does electricity come from?) and avoidance of sounding like Yoda (Comes from where, electricity does?).

A great many people have the idea that it is possible to eliminate “fossil fuels” and nuclear power from our energy supplies and that “electricity” is the means by which that will be accomplished.  That “Renewable Ideal” is founded upon a grand misconception and a stunning lack of common sense – as will become apparent while we contemplate  this question: “Whence Electricity?”.

The Reality as it Exists (2016)

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory does a survey of US energy use every year.  The results are published in a flow chart that requires considerable snaky-eyed concentration to understand.  But, I eyed the 2016 Livermore data for you to make this simple pie-chart of electricity in percentage by source:

All graphs are generated by the author and the numbers are from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories

WhenceElectricity
Figure 1:  85 percent of electric generation is from “fossil fuels” or nuclear power plants

Note: For purposes of this report, commercial sources of energy are capitalized – as in the graph above.

The most obvious lesson here is that Coal, Natural Gas and Nuclear power (with a tiny bit of Petroleum) provide the vast majority – some eighty five percent – of electric generation in the US. The remaining 15% that might be considered to be “environmentally correct” – we will refer to them as “Renewables”.

If you did not know this before, you will be further surprised that the amount of “Fossil Fuel” (and Nuclear) to be replaced in the electric grid is just the beginning of the task.

Limitations

There are some limitations that characterize the sources called “Renewables” that must be considered.

Hydro-Electric Generation (Hydro)

Hydro is a simple, inexpensive and reliable source of electricity that – unfortunately – has lost its “Green Credentials”.   Environmental “wisdom” doesn’t like those dams on rivers and they are now “all-in” on tearing them down.  Hydro is dwindling slowly and can be expected to die a slow, lingering death by Green politics.  You may think of Hydro as “Renewable” and that’s fine.  If you want to claim it is reliable, this reporter will disagree.  Your Humble Narrator once visited his in-laws in Bogota, Columbia (he’s a diplomat).  They had rolling black-outs because their Hydro projects were suffering from an extended drought (and funds for electrical development that somehow were mis-directed to politicians’ pockets).  Blind luck that the Bogota (La Ciudad de Nuestra Señora, Santa Fe De Bogota) has a climate mild enough to do without power at home for 8 hours.  Kerosene lamps, candles and propane stoves were enough to get by.  Business is another matter and the streets of the Capital were filled with gasoline generators running furiously outside the buildings and snaky extension cords going inside.  Hydro requires back-up – even if ad-hoc.

Biomass

The source of Biomass in electricity generation is mostly industrial and agricultural waste that is burned to generate electricity.  Those sources exist because engineers are making efficient use of what would otherwise be an expense nuisance. Most of those opportunities have already been realized, but you may count on that increasing as industry itself expands.  Ethanol and biodiesel are generally not used to generate electricity but do make up a small percentage of transportation fuel (which we have not addressed in this electric discussion).

Geothermal

The U.S. has the most Geothermal generation of any country and it is still quite small when compared to the total.  It could be expanded, but since it typically involves drilling holes in the Earth, fracturing and using groundwater for a working fluid (unlike petroleum operations), it is also in danger of losing its “Green Credentials”.

Wind

Wind is currently subsidized by tax credits and production mandates which make them quite profitable to build.  There are major windfarms now under construction.  This author has seen fields of hundreds of turbines now being erected in Texas and Kansas – as well as a vast staging yard with parts for hundreds more.  Wind provides the dominant part of growth in Renewable generation.

Solar

Photoelectric and solar-furnace generation is small but growing, though not as quickly as Wind.

ConventionalANDGreenGrowth
Figure 2: Current “Conventional Electricity and the growth of Renewable

Wind and Solar provide pretty much the only significant growth in Renewables. And that growth amounts to: 0.29 Quadrillion BTUs per year.  You see that growth rate graphed as a vertical green bar (i.e., flat green square) next to the orange bar representing 2016 total Conventional electricity capability that the Renewable Ideal would have us replace.

To examine what this “replacement” will require, we will assume that

  1. Electric Demand will not increase (except for all that transportation now fueled by Petroleum).
  2. That ONLY Gasoline and Natural Gas will be replaced. This allows us to avoid the obvious problems in making electric airplanes, trains and ships.  The alert reader will point out that ships and trains already are propelled by electric motors.  And, the author will point out that those vehicles get their electricity by burning Diesel fuel.
  3. That Wind and Solar plants either last forever or for 50 years (both are unrealistically long).

The graph below shows the timeline for replacement of the Conventional Electric Generation (orange line) and for replacement of both that and the Gasoline and Natural Gas transportation.

TimeBeforeGreenReplacement
Figure 3: Current Electric capacity (orange) plus Gasoline transport (yellow).  Assumed Green growth (green – doh!) and green growth with 50-year lifetime (blue).

The orange line represents total “Conventional” electric generation for 2016 and we have assumed that will not increase.  The yellow line is the total of Conventional electric and Gasoline energy expended in the Transportation sector.  We have assumed that neither of these will increase.  The green line represents Renewable generation increasing at the same rate as the last two years – when it has been quite actively increasing at unsustainable rates.  It is assumed that Renewable installations last forever.

In that case, full replacement of Conventional generation can be had by 2109 and replacement of that plus Gasoline and Natural Gas by 2169.

If – on the other hand – it is assumed that such installations last 50 years (a bit more reasonable, but again, overly generous) the years of both “replacement” points can be changed to “never” – as indicated by the blue curve.

There is More

Wind and Solar – which make up the Lion’s share of Renewable growth – are intermittent by their very nature.  Solar interruptions are mostly as predictable as the sunset and cause about a 60% full-blown outage every single day.  Wind on the other hand, can fail you at any moment  –  either by calm or storm.  Your Humble Narrator has seen whole wind farms in Wyoming standing idle in the fierce winds that frequent that state.  They would have been torn apart in the shifting, gusting conditions if they weren’t locked down.

Intermittent energy sources are dependent on other sources of generation.  The most clearly relevant of those others are Coal and Gas.  Nuclear has so long been long demonized and over-regulated that it will, at best stay constant, and will be of little help in backing up Wind and Solar.

One might come up with the idea of more Renewables as backup.  It does not require much thought to see the flaw in that reasoning.

What that means is that Conventional sources of electricity simply cannot be replaced unless you can convince every electric customer to live with intermittent service. That did not happen in the aforementioned Bogota example and will not happen here.  However, the attempt would make for Gargantuan sales of home generators – make mine a diesel, please.

Conclusion

So, the “All renewable” points in that graph are nothing less that Absolute Fantasy.  Wind and Solar must be backed up completely (that is to say 100%) with Fossil Fuels or Nukes!

Even if we imagine that windmills and solar panels last forever – after 90 to 150 years of hideous expense, there will be just as much “non-renewable” electric capacity as before.  The difference will be that the non-renewable plants will mostly be wastefully idling, waiting for the Sun to go down or the winds to calm.

Hasta Luego,

Steve

P.S.  Some of you are saying, “What about batteries, then?”

First off, you sound like Brits.

Second, I will address this in “Around Robin Hood’s Barn in an Electric Car – Part Two”

For more on US energy use – including non-electric consumption – see my articles called Changing Energy Use in the United States.   and  An Ill Wind

One, Two, Three, Etc.

For Saturday October 26:       

One, Two, Three, Etc. is an arts and craft company in Houston that offers Peruvian  jewelry, ornaments and accessories at local Craft Shows and Farmers’ Markets.

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Proprietor Maria is also a Dream Vacations travel agent.    Saturday, October 26 will find the company’s booth  at the Energy Corridor Farmers’ Market   (E.C.F.M.) at 14710 Grisby Rd.,  Houston, TX 77079 near Highway 6 and the Katy (I-10) Freeway.  Please see the map below.     Drop by and have a look, after Nine AM.

 

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