Tag: Science

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?).

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 Climate Fact – Introduction

stevetrucker2   Homepage GoingwalkaboutMorseSkinnypng
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    Once, I accepted – without examination – the idea that human activities might cause Global Warming.
   A Geologist colleague did not debate me, but rather challenged me to research the topic and come to an informed  conclusion.
   He was right and I am a Geophysicist with the tools, talent and temperament to do such  research.  That was over twenty years ago and I have since “done the math”, “paid my dues”, “done the due diligence” and examined the facts.
   My conclusion is that the idea of Man-made climate change is a political fiction.
   If I can get people to sit still and listen to me present the facts for an hour or so, I can show them (with facts, charts, graphs, data, references and quotes) exactly how I came to that conclusion.  That has happened a few times.  But, most people do not or will not willingly sit in a room and listen to a lecture.  It’s too much like going to school and they spent a large fraction of their youth doing that and most of them don’t want anything to do with further such activity.
   So, I have come up with this idea.  Take ONE FACT about the subject and present it with clarity and completeness.  Then, do that again with another fact.
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The Grand Ice Age

SteveTrucker2    DreamVacations OneClimateFact 

Not long ago, one of my Road Trip Interest Group members (you know who you are) asked this question:

“When was the last Ice Age?”

The term “Ice Age” is somewhat ambiguous. Fluctuations in the Earth’s climate are extreme and take place over many periods of time.  There have been eras when the Earth was completely devoid of ice.  There have been other times when all the Earth’s oceans had completely turned to ice.  So, when was the last “Ice Age”?

The most recent time that has been referred to that name was the “Little Ice Age”(LIA).  When exactly that was depends on who you ask.  The chart below defines the LIA as being between the years 1400 and 1800 AD.  This was a time that saw mountain villages in Europe consumed by glaciers.  The “Frost Fairs” on the frozen River Thames in London happened at these times and the story of Hans Brinker, likewise.  There is ample evidence of the LIA in art, literature and history.   That painting of George Washington un-wisely standing in a rowboat, while his men push big chunks of ice in the Delaware out of the way?  LIA, again.  Below is a graph of results for last two millenia of proxy derived temperature differences.  You see the Little Ice Age as well as what came before.

Timespan:  2000 Years

MWP_LIA
Figure 1: The Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and the Little Ice Age (LIA).

These are differences in temperatures derived from examination of cylinders of ice drilled out of an ice sheet. Where that zero axis falls depends on how much time is included in the graph.  So, these data do not tell us what a thermometer would have said then.  But, the historical record tells us that during the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) Greenland was occupied by an agricultural civilization where none at that level of technology would be possible in today’s climate.  In Alaska there are glaciers that have retreated from the Little Ice Age and uncovered immense tree-stumps still rooted in the ground.  There are no such climax forests there today.

mendenhall_Tree_Stumps
Thousand-year-old tree stump uncovered by the Mendenhall Glacier’s retreat from the Little Ice Age

They date to about one thousand years ago.  So, we know for a fact that the temperatures were warmer then than now.  There are some who imagine that this was only the case for the North Atlantic.  But, Alaska is not on the Atlantic, is it?  And ice cores from Antarctica tell pretty much the same story.

The time before the LIA was much warmer than the climate today.  The MWP was, itself just another in a series of warm periods, starting with the Minoan Warm Period and occurring roughly every 1000 years.  Below is a graph of oxygen-Isotope proxy temperature anomalies.

Timespan: 11,000 years. 

GISP_Holocene_Anotated_NO_CO2
Figure 2.  Greenland Ice Sheet Project (GISP) temperature differences derived from ice cores.

The last “Ice Age”  (without the “Little” modifier) is to be seen at the extreme left of the Holocene graph in figure 2. It is more accurately referred to as a “Glaciation” and is a part of a (roughly) one-hundred thousand-year oscillation of extreme cold followed by short periods (10,000 years or less) of warm weather.  This cycle is revealed, among other places – in the Vostok and EPICA Ice Core Projects in Antarctica.

Timespan 450,000 years

EPICA_VOSTOK_Annotated
Figure 3.  Antarctic Ice-core derived temperature differences.

You see that our current situation is an “Interglacial” age called the Holocene Climate Optimum that comes after the “Ice Age” (Glaciation). The Eemian which came before that Glaciation is another Interglacial in a long series of same, stretching back half a million years – at least.  The Holocene appears to be significantly cooler than the previous Interglacials – all of them.  (Put that in your “Global Warming” pipe and smoke it! 😉 )

While the future is not yet determined, it looks very much like the Holocene is about over and the next Glaciation is soon to be expected.

But, in all of this, there is still ice at the poles and on mountaintops.  The Glaciations seem to be the rule and the “Interglacials”, the exceptions.  Could we not say that the entire timespan above was a part of a larger “Grand Ice Age” with only the interglacial times interrupting?

What happens if we widen the time span?  Below is a graph of ocean sediment-derived temperatures.

Timespan: Five Million Years.

Five_Myr_Climate_ChangeAnnote
Figure 4.  Temperature differences derived from ocean sediments

The fact that those hundred-thousand-year cycles of the previous graph are seen lends credibility to this “proxy” of temperature.  Notice those thousand-century cycles are a recent phenomenon (relatively speaking) and followed a period of 41,000 year cycles.  Before that was a much warmer time.  There is fossil evidence that those were times when there was little or no ice on Earth at all.

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-12378934

Be warned that they will bring up “Global Warming” even though they can’t point to five-million-year-old Ford Explorers or make any reasonable defense of “Man-made Global Warming”.   -Steve

Quote about Antarctica:

“She recalled: “We were high up on glaciated peaks when we found a sedimentary layer packed full of fragile leaves and twigs.”

“These fossils proved to be remains of stunted bushes of beech. At only three to five million years old, they were some of the last plants to have lived on the continent before the deep freeze set in.”

The “deep freeze” referred to is when we live now!  

WELCOME TO THE GRAND ICE AGE!

It may surprise you to learn that you have been here all along.

Hasta Luego,

Steve

Ice Age Now and I-90 Rocks

I am doing research for yet another article that takes me to  Ice Age Now the blog of Robert Felix (Ice Age Bob).    Bob’s current first page features a video from YouTube called I-90 Rocks.

I have driven this route a couple of times, but I wish I had seen this video before, just so I could have appreciated the Geology I was passing through.

 

https://www.iceagenow.info/ice-age-lakes-between-seattle-and-the-cascades-video/

 

Changing Energy Use in The United States

SteveTrucker2  Homepage   DreamVacations   Portfolio

Steve Campbell           November 2015

Introduction

It is a habit of modern environmental advocates to insist upon doing away with fossil fuels and using only “renewable energy”. Fossil fuels are defined by as “a natural fuel such as coal or gas, formed in the geological past from the remains of living organisms.” (1). According to the US department of Energy, renewable energy includes “solar, wind, geothermal, bioenergy and water (hydroelectric)” (2).

If asked whether that replacement is possible or practical, most of those same environmental advocates (hereinafter referred to as: “Greens”) would enthusiastically reply in the positive, as if it is an obvious thing. It did not seem obvious to me and so I made an examination of modern energy use in the United States. At some point in the following pages, I will express a few opinions. But, I promise to end with some solidly founded conclusions.

The numbers

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory does a yearly assessment of energy use in the United States. It includes sources of energy, amounts of each source and what use is made of it by what sector of the economy. They publish a very interesting summary (3) of the results which you will see in Figure A. The amounts of energy are in Quadrillion British Thermal Units (which are mercifully referred to simply as “Quads”). A Quad is the equivalent of about 180 million barrels of petroleum. But, the important issue in this analysis is the portions that each source contributes to the total.

LivermoreUS_EnergyUse

Figure A: Energy Use in the United States 2014

Analysis

I will just look at the total energy use for this analysis. The numbers on the left side of the chart are detailed in the table in Figure B, below. The Non-renewables are in blue, the renewables in green. I have included Nuclear with the fossil fuels only because greens are as strongly opposed to that as they are to fossil fuels, if not more so. The table is depicted in a pie chart in figure C.

  EnergyUse2014Table  

Figure B: Energy sources and amount contributed to the total

EnergyUse2014Chart

Figure C: Pie chart of values in figure B, labeled by percent of total

The next pie chart in Figure D, has the fossil fuels and Nuclear plotted as blanks to show what needs to be replaced in the “total renewable” scenario. The result speaks for itself. Ninety percent of the current energy use is unacceptable to the Greens.

GreenEnergyComeUpShort

Figure D: The renewable fraction of US energy use in the US in 2014

So, we are left with these ten percent which must expand to fill 100 percent. The simple idea that we just multiply the capacity for each source by ten will quickly run into some serious problems. I will, of course elaborate upon them next by considering each source individually.

Biomass

Biomass in the transportation sector is mostly ethanol made almost exclusively from corn or biodiesel from other food crops like soybeans. Both are driving up the global price of food and are not profitable without government subsidies. I would just add that energy is used in growing crops, transportation to factories, fermentation, distillation and transportation of the biofuel to market (in tanker trucks because ethanol corrodes pipelines). Fertilizer is typically manufactured from natural gas. So, unless all that energy use is also converted to renewables, you have not accomplished much change.

According to the New England Complex Systems Institute (4):

“1. The amount of corn used to produce the ethanol in a gallon of regular gas would feed a person for a day,

  1. The production of ethanol requires so much fossil fuel energy that its energy benefit is only about 20%…
  2. The cost of gas made with ethanol is actually higher per mile because ethanol reduces gasoline’s energy per gallon…

The US used over 45% of its 2011 corn crop to produce ethanol, up from under 15% before 2005 …–a rise dictated by federal mandate and promoted by federal subsidies. The drought in 2012 is leading to questions about whether using corn for fuel is reasonable while people go hungry due to a world food shortage…

The total amount of ethanol produced in the US in 2011 was 13.95 billion gallons, enough to feed 570 million people that year.” (emphasis mine, SC)

I tried to check these numbers and I keep coming up with 535 million. Until I am able to resolve this difference, I will use the lesser figure. But the difference is small and number is still staggering.

In either case, that number was so staggeringly big that I reviewed the assumptions in the calculations in Albino, et al (4). There are a few mitigating factors. For one, the caloric requirements cited were the minimum for survival. Also, the field corn used for ethanol production is otherwise used for animal feed and for intermediate products like corn flour, meal, starch or oil. In all those cases, the food value ultimately is less than in direct consumption. Nevertheless, the 500+ million figure is still correct.  The potential use of the corn produced for fuel could supply that much food.

As I mentioned previously, we are trying to imagine increasing by a factor of ten the portion of energy that is “renewable”. In the case of biofuels, to increase by ten times means that the United States alone would be burning enough food to feed over Five Billion People. That is more than two thirds of the Earth’s population. That is simply not acceptable.

You will note in Figure A that the majority of biomass contribution is not in transportation, but rather in Industry. The burning of agricultural and industrial waste for heat or to generate electricity is a good example. Imagine a sawmill that accumulates tons of sawdust. That waste represents a good deal of energy. You may note from Figure A that Industry is the most efficient of all energy using endeavors. They use biomass because it makes economic sense. I would imagine that most such opportunities are already in use. So, an increase by a factor of ten would seem impossible.

 Hydroelectricity

Hydroelectricity is quite efficient, clean and reliable. While it does require a specific sort of geological setting, it could probably be increased a great deal. A factor of ten might be possible, at least in theory. The problem with Hydro is that its Green “credentials” have expired. Greens are beginning to call for the removal of dams from rivers and are not enthusiastic about increasing hydropower. According to the Hydropower Reform Coalition (5):

“There is a place for new conventional hydropower development in our nation’s renewable energy policy, but such development should be limited to projects that use existing water and infrastructure and do not place additional stress on river ecosystems.”  

I can only imagine that they are expecting an improved efficiency from “existing water and infrastructure”. Without new infrastructure, there can be no other way to increase production. Figure E shows the Energy Information Agency (EIA) numbers for amount of hydropower in the US over the years 1990 to 2010. While other renewables have increased, Hydro is in a definite decline. Note that the increase of “other renewable” is about equal to the decline in Hydro. This is far from a candidate for a massive increase. We will be lucky to retain what Hydro now exists.

Hydrootherrenw

Figure E: EIA graph of hydropower and “other renewable” electricity amounts.

Wind

Wind turbines can generate substantial amounts of electricity when the wind conditions are right. Because of government subsidies, wind power has expanded rapidly. As of 2014 Wind represents 2% of the energy mix in the United States. There is room for expansion. However, as it turns out this is a much more complicated subject than the previous energy sources.

The cost of wind power has been claimed by Greens to be less than fossil fuel power plants. This claim is ignoring a multitude of hidden costs, including massive subsidies at taxpayer expense. According to Ed Hoskins’ detailed analysis (6), the cost of wind is at least double that of natural gas. The chart in figure F shows these figures and I have included the Solar photovoltaic numbers to refer back to when I get to that source.

Cost_Wind_Gas

Figure F: Comparison of cost per unit energy for Solar, Wind and Natural Gas electric generation

But the point here is not cost, but rather reliability. Wind turbines have a range of wind speeds. There is a lower limit of wind speed below which the turbine cannot generate power. There is also a high speed limit where the turbine must be “feathered” or turned sideways to the wind to avoid damage to the blades. When those periods occur, the electric demand must still be met and other sources must be called upon to provide the power. There are electric storage systems like flywheels that can store power and smooth fluctuations, but their capacity can be measured only in mere seconds. This means that a coal or natural gas fired power plant has to be kept idling, ready to pick up the entire load with a moment’s notice. Idling is a particularly wasteful thing to do as it burns energy for exactly nothing.

There is one argument to the effect that “It’s always windy somewhere”. By that they mean to say that one windfarm can take over for another. There are regional weather systems where stagnant (i.e., near windless) high pressure sets in across most of the country. This can be during a heat wave or a frigid cold wave where power consumption is already high. The fact that it is windy in Romania is irrelevant. There is no free lunch. Wind power must have a 100% back-up or leave its customers in the dark when the going gets tough.

Now we get to the carnage. These wind turbines are sited in zones of prevailing wind, which by no coincidence are the same zones where birds migrate. Windmills chop up birds at a horrifying rate. The Greens are trying to sandbag this by pointing out that cats kill far more birds than windmills. I expect they are exaggerating, but it does not matter. My cat, for example brought me a few mocking birds and, once a blue jay.  But he never dragged a Golden Eagle carcass up to my back door. Furthermore, nobody ever claimed that cats are “Green” as they have claimed about Wind for decades. Windmills do not discriminate and kill many thousands of birds of “endangered species” per year. Certainly they are endangered! Yet, Wind currently has a “Get Out of Jail Free Card” to do so for the next thirty years. They will not be fined.

Then there are the bats. For example, in Central Texas there are large populations of bats. Those flying rodents eat the insects that would otherwise eat our food (and Biomass!) crops. They are murdered by the thousands by the windmills there. You might think that their echo-locating senses would help them avoid the spinning blades. Well, they don’t even have to be struck by the blades. The low-pressure zones behind the blades collapse their lungs. Birds are much tougher, but they never see the blades coming, especially at night. The toll on bats is large – perhaps more than on birds.

While I would never be accused of being Green, I find the situation unacceptable and I object to these bird and bat choppers on environmental grounds. In my humble opinion, Wind ain’t Green. And Greens are starting to agree.   They forced a wind farm in California named Altamont tear down their windmills and replace them with larger ones that supposedly kill fewer. I suspect, but cannot prove that the larger mills just throw the dead birds farther away so they are out of sight and not counted as damage.

Solar

Solar energy is not a new idea. It has been exploited for longer than human history. I am sure that my Ice Age ancestors dried their meat with Solar. For local reference, my mother used Solar to dry our clothes when I was young. Later, I saw coffee farmers in Venezuela, who to this day use Solar to dry their beans. Solar is respected in architectural and industrial design. In remote locations photovoltaics if properly managed can provide electricity in medium amounts but not continuously.

There is nothing wrong with Solar until someone wants to make it a baseline electricity source. Now we are in trouble – and for obvious reasons! Beyond the totally obvious fact that the sun goes down at night, there are times when the weather will cover the sun and not provide power, neither for photovoltaic, nor for solar thermal plants. You might put these way out in the desert where there are few clouds, but then you must build the powerline infrastructure to get the power to someone who will pay for it. That is far from free.

Now is when I will ask you to look back at Figure F, at that Cyan bar that shows that “Photovoltaics Large Scale” is almost four times the cost of natural gas generation. Looking further than cost, there is reliability to be concerned. In the desert, there might not be much concern about sunlight, but even there, the sun goes down. Storage of electricity is to this day, quite difficult and inefficient. To put it like Tom and Ray Magliozzi (Car Talk) when they speak of electric cars, “It’s all about the batteries and it always will be”. You might imagine that Elon Musk will build all the batteries we need with his mega-plant. You would be wrong. There is a place called Cushing, Oklahoma where there is a great tank farm that is the core of the distribution center of petroleum for the central United States. The reserve of energy in Cushing is such that it would take FOURTY of Elon’s “Super Factories” ONE HUNDRED YEARS to match it in energy storage. Cushing is the largest tank farm in the country, but there are hundreds of others.

Geothermal

(Wikipedia (7)) Geothermal energy is thermal energy generated and stored in the Earth. Thermal energy is the energy that determines the temperature of matter. The geothermal energy of the Earth’s crust originates from the original formation of the planet and from radioactive decay of materials (in currently uncertain[1] but possibly roughly equal[2] proportions). The geothermal gradient, which is the difference in temperature between the core of the planet and its surface, drives a continuous conduction of thermal energy in the form of heat from the core to the surface. The adjective geothermal originates from the Greek roots γη (ge), meaning earth, and θερμος (thermos), meaning hot…. …Geothermal power is cost effective, reliable, sustainable, and environmentally friendly,[8] but has historically been limited to areas near tectonic plate boundaries.

Geothermal energy also works well, in appropriate locations. This is another source that could be expanded and maximized. In the US, it contributes 0.2 Quads (far less than 1 %) of the national total. While this analysis is about the United States Energy sector, it is instructive to note other countries’ efforts in this regard. While the US capacity is small, it still represents 29% of the Geothermal in the world! No one else comes close. Figure G (again from Wikipedia) shows the amounts and contributions of geothermal generation of various countries. Of particular note are Iceland, which supplies 30% of their national energy use and also the Philippines with 27% and El Salvador with 25%. These countries have the advantage of local geology that make Geothermal a convenient and cheap source of energy. The US has many such zones that have already been developed to some extent and there should be reason to expect more.

The drawbacks? Well, the first thing they do in geothermal development is to drill holes in the ground and then fracture the rock structure so the water can circulate and pick up heat. While I have no problem with fracturing, an entire radical, hysterical contingent of Greens do have such problems! If they will allow fracturing for geothermal then they are colossal hypocrites.

Geothermal

Figure G: Geothermal generation of electricity by country (Wikipedia)

Conclusions

  • Biofuels right now consume enough food crops to feed over half a billion people. That is astonishing in itself. To multiply this burning of food by ten is nothing short of horrifying. This nation should stop the use of ethanol based fuel immediately, in my humble opinion.
  • Hydro is being assassinated by Greens and will be fortunate to not decrease. It could otherwise be increased substantially.
  • Wind is not a good idea for baseline power. Any increase will come at great cost and massive loss of avian life. And again, it must be backed up with Real Energy.
  • Solar has many of the same drawbacks as Wind. Even if it does increase by ten times, it would still represent only about 4% of the energy total and it still needs 100% back-up.
  • I see no reason why Geothermal could not increase by a factor of ten. That would make it about two percent of the energy mix.
  • While I have skipped over it because it is opposed so vehemently by Greens, Nuclear could take the majority of the energy burden. Don’t hold your breath!

Question: Can Fossil Fuels be replaced?

Short answer:   No!

References:

  1. Defining “Fossil Fuel” http://www.bing.com/search?q=define+fossil+fuel&qs=n&form=QBLH&pq=define+fossil+fuel&sc=9-18&sp=-1&sk=&cvid=D3703532B4D94B9F8098F2638D006AED
  2. Defining “Renewable Energy” http://energy.gov/science-innovation/energy-sources/renewable-energy
  3. Lawrence Livermore Energy Use Chart https://flowcharts.llnl.gov/content/assets/images/energy/us/Energy_US_2014.png
  4. D.K. Albino, K.Z. Bertrand, Y. Bar-Yam, Food for fuel: The price of ethanolarXiv:1210.6080(October 4, 2012). http://necsi.edu/research/social/foodprices/foodforfuel/ 
  5.  Hydropower reform Coalition hthttp://www.hydroreform.org/abouthydro/renewable
  6. Ed Hoskins WordPress.com site https://edmhdotme.wordpress.com/
  7. Geothermal energy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geothermal_energy

Five Decades, Five Comets

SteveTrucker2  Homepage   DreamVacations

 By Steve Campbell     Revised March, 2016

A few years ago, there was a comet (ISON) approaching the Earth.  It was discovered by two Russian astronomers, Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok  by way of the International Scientific Optical Network (ISON, hence the name)  at the Kislovodsk Observatory. The comet was approaching from out by Jupiter and passed by the Sun in November and December of 2013.

A comet is composed of rock, dust and a lot of ice. As a comet approaches the sun, heat will vaporize ices in its body, creating a “tail”.  Figure 1 is an optimistic “artist’s conception” of what it was to look like from about October 2013 through January 2014.

ISON

Figure 1: Prediction for Comet ISON (optimistic)

What actually happened was much less spectacular and could only be appreciated in a telescope.  This is par for the course when it comes to comets in the popular media.  I remember Comet Kouhutek, which made its appearance in late 1973.  It too, was touted as the “Comet of the Century” and it failed miserably to satisfy that reputation.  As usual, your humble narrator and alleged “dinosaur” was there to see it in person.   I remember looking for it in the bitterly cold winter at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.   The spirit was willing, but the flesh (having been raised in a more nearly tropical Houston) was weak.  I never actually sighted it.

Kohutek

Figure 2:  Comet Kouhutek (telescope view)  1973

A “big deal” was also made about the return of Halley’s Comet, which is expected every 76 years.  I remember Halley’s return in 1986 and it was rather disappointing, as well.  The comet was visible only in a telescope (at least from Houston) and the weather in the area was absolutely dismal for observing at that time.

There was one highlight, though.   On a rare cloudless night, out at a State Park, some friends and I had the comet in my 3″ Edmund Scientific Co. reflector telescope.  A very old gentleman approached and asked if he could take a look.  Of course, we were proud to show off “our” comet.  After taking a good look, he told us that this was the second time around for him, having seen it in 1910. So, I reckon it was we who were lucky to see “his” comet!   He went on to tell us that it was a naked-eye object and quite breathtaking back then.  He thanked us for the view to which we, of course, bade him quite welcome.  We also pointed out some other amateur astronomers in the park, who had bigger and better ‘scopes and he wandered off in their direction.

Halleys

Figure 3:  Halley’s Comet 1986

Yet another comet story happened in 1997 with comet Hale-Bopp.  It was much more satisfying and was a naked-eye object for months.  I had taken my five year-old son out in the countryside, away from the city lights to get a good look at the comet.  We were way down a dark county road with little traffic, pulled off in a driveway to somebody’s ranch.  After a while, a bunch of motorcycles appeared and almost pulled in to where we were parked, but then went a bit further down the road – for a “biological break” as it turns out.  After that they seemed to discuss something and then motored back to where my son and I were observing the comet.

 

HaleBopp

Figure 4:  Comet Hale Bopp  1997

Now, I have had nothing but good experiences with motorcycle enthusiasts, myself.  My childhood neighbors were such people (“Speedy” and “Ruby” – no, really!).  Speedy gave me a recommendation that got me my first real job.

But, at this late hour and so far from “civilization”, I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous at this attention.  These were a club, with matching leathers and they introduced themselves – politely – and asked what I might be doing so far out in the country.  I explained about the comet and pointed it out to the group.  They asked a few questions about comets and such, which I was glad to answer.  My son, of course, was fascinated by the motorcycles and I told him to look all he wanted, but not to touch.  That is always good advice when looking at machines that are not only highly regarded by their owners, but also very hot in places.

The group started to depart, but one of them – the only woman in the group – stayed to talk briefly.  She told me that she had seen me, way out here with a little boy, and was concerned that something “creepy” might be going on, so she insisted that the others come back with her to investigate. Turns out, she’s a lawyer.  So, any image of a motorcycle gang intent on menace fades in the reality of a group of gentlemen – implored by a concerned lady and for the sake of a child – prepared to confront what might have been a despicable character.  My good opinion of motorcycle enthusiasts was reinforced.

You will notice in Figure 4, that Hale-Bopp apparently has two tails.  This is not uncommon and comes about because the gas released from the warming comet streams directly away from the Sun, while the dust, which is ionized, is affected by the Solar Magnetic field and rushes off in another direction.

Another “naked-eye” comet happened in 2007 and its name was Holmes.  This was a comet that had previously neared the Earth in 1892 and at one point underwent an eruption of activity that made a blue-green glow in the sky.  The same happened this time and was clearly “naked eye” visible even from my home in the glaring city light of Houston.  Many folks thought they had discovered a nova (exploding star) or a new planet. I was also able to present views through my 12 inch Newtonian reflector telescope (a far cry from the early days) to family and friends.  The cloud of gas and dust expanded to rival the size of the sun.

 Holmes

 Figure 5: Comet Holmes 2007

Here’s the deal about comets.  They exist out in an area called the “Oort Cloud” way beyond the outer limits of the solar system.  They are composed of ice and dust and for reasons not well known, they occasionally get diverted and sent toward the inner planets (Earth being one of same).   Some comets pass near planets, thus having their orbits altered and some get “captured” into an elongated orbit that brings them back around every so often.  Halley’s Comet, Comet Holmes and Hale Bopp are three of these.  Kouhutek and ISON are not, being one-time visitors to the Solar System.  Their trajectories will never return them to our neighborhood.

There is another aspect about comets that explains the inability to predict their precise paths around the sun.  As comets approach the sun –especially the one-time comets – they are warmed by solar radiation and begin to emit gas and dust.  That, of course is the stuff that makes up the comet “tail”.  But, that vaporization also acts like a rocket to change the orbit of the comet. How much the orbit is changed depends on the composition of the comet, of which we know little, especially for “new” Comets.  At least, that is until they start spewing out tail material, which can be analyzed by spectroscope.

There was yet another comet due in 2014.  Its name was Siding Spring, named after the observatory, not the discoverer.    It will be passing close to the planet Mars.  Very Close.  In fact, a collision with Mars was within the error bars for this encounter. Chances of collision are now being quoted as 1 in 600.  Mars is now being observed by two surface rovers and three orbiting spacecraft.

Update: The space probes did provide views of the comet’s close approach, but there was no collision.

This comet was estimated to be about 50 km in diameter and is traveling in a retrograde orbit – which means that it is coming in in the opposite direction of Mars’ orbit.  That would have maximized the impact velocity.  If had collided with Mars, the crater diameter would have been about 320 miles.

SLidingSpring

Figure 6:  Artist’s impression of the comet C/2013 A1 (Sliding Spring) striking Mars. (I hasten to remind the reader that it never did this!)

Ex Scientia, Veritas

  Steve Campbell

 

 

Three Hundred Graphs say “Global Warming” is Bogus

 SteveTrucker2  Homepage   DreamVacations

   A recent article at Climate Depot has painstakingly assembled almost 300 graphs from Peer-reviewed scientific research that disprove the Man-made Global Warming Myth.   Click the following link:

Three Hundred Graphs

   Climate Depot is a project of the Center For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) and is edited by Marc Morano, a steadfast Champion of the Truth about the Climate Change Myth.  I saw him and many other respected authorities speak at a Conference in Houston. My attendance there was a part of my multi-decade research of this subject.  I introduced myself and briefly encouraged Marc to seek out and inform Texas Governor Rick Perry who was also there. 

  http://www.climatedepot.com/

   I mention this not to brag – but only to impress my audience that I am not just repeating talking points like Al Gore, but rather I have been actively involved in research and discussion about this.

Ex Scientia, Veritas

Steve

Global Warming Predictions are Wrong

stevetrucker2   Homepage    OneClimateFact

The entire Alarmist Fraud of Global Warming is based on computer models that predict that temperatures will rise catastrophically as Carbon Dioxide emissions from human activities continue.  This is absurd on the face of it, because:

  1. It ignores the fact that human emissions of CO2 are a tiny fraction of natural emissions from volcanoes, forest fires and the decay of dead plants and animals.
  2. It ignores fluctuations of natural CO2 emissions
  3. It ignores the natural reaction of plants to increased CO2 (i.e., they grow faster and absorb same).

None of these, however, is the One Fact that we are here to discuss, which is:

The computer models that the Alarmists have come up with have been proven WRONG by REALITY.

  

CMIP5-global-LT-vs-UAH-and-RSS 

As the title states these are 44 computer climate models all predicting warming of more than one degree Centigrade by 2025.  The blue and red lines are plots of actual experimental temperature measurements made by satellites and high altitude balloons.  Please notice that with the exception of 1998 (an “El  Niño” year), every year was measured to be in a flat trend – not a catastrophic increase.

Let me quote Renowned Physicist and Acknowledged Genius Dr. Richard Feynman:

  “It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.”

Ladies and Gentlemen: The idea that Human activities are causing the world to warm is WRONG.