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By Robert Rapier on Jul 3, 2011 with 115 responses

Book Review: Cracking the Carbon Code

Introduction

In Cracking the Carbon Code, Terry Tamminen lays out his strategy for managing and reducing carbon emissions. He describes what California has done. He describes great strides that China has made. He describes his strategic meetings on the subject with President Obama prior to his election. He makes estimates on what the costs would be to regulate carbon dioxide (0.7 cents per kWH of electricity; 35 cents per gallon of transportation fuel). He talks about carbon markets that have sprung up around the world, and makes recommendations for how businesses can inventory and manage their emissions (e.g., he recommends that all businesses have a carbon manager to deal with each company’s carbon emissions).

Cracking the Carbon Code: The Key to Sustainable Profits in the New EconomyA Fundamental Disagreement

But I read this book against the background of a fundamental nagging problem as I see it: I don’t believe there is a viable global solution to carbon emissions in any case – and so far the data back me up on this. Further, the author is fairly confident that we will get some meaningful regulations in the U.S. that will put a price on carbon dioxide emissions. In that case, a lot of what Tamminen describes in the book may be realistic. But I don’t think we will actually see any sort of stringent regulations being passed into law. There is too much opposition on the Republican side, so what I expect to see is a continuation of the voluntary carbon markets like the Chicago Climate Exchange. But those are so minor in the context of overall carbon emissions that I see them having little impact.

While the book lays out strategic plans, the fact is that carbon emissions continue to rise. The reason is understandable; developing countries want to develop and they are using cheap energy to do so. That’s why in 2010 – despite all of the efforts to rein in carbon emissions – coal usage was at an all-time record high. And that’s why according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) carbon emissions in the past decade were at their highest growth rate since NOAA started measuring them.

CO2 Emissions Are Rising Unabated

I have long believed that we are likely to consume most of our available fossil fuels. There will be some that are simply too expensive to extract, but even countries like Canada — where environmental awareness runs high — continue to develop their oil sands. Why? It is a boon to their economy, and if the U.S. doesn’t buy from them, China will. For the same reason, China, India, the U.S, and everyone else will continue to burn coal. Even if we could pass regulations with real teeth in the U.S. that could stop coal-fired power plants from being built — fulfilling a campaign promise of President Obama — it won’t make any difference. The developing world will continue to develop.

China and their consumption of 2 barrels of oil per person sits in stark contrast to the U.S. and our 23 barrels of consumption per year. While we won’t produce enough oil to allow them to consume what the U.S. consumes, China is busy securing fossil fuel resources around the world. They will continue to increase their fossil fuel consumption — and thus their carbon emissions. That is a very big part of the reason that the data show that this is a losing battle:

Greenhouse gas emissions hit record highs

Despite 20 years of effort, greenhouse gas emissions are going up instead of down, hitting record highs as climate negotiators gather to debate a new global warming accord.

The new report by the International Energy Agency showing high emissions from fossil fuels is one of several pieces of bad news facing delegates from about 180 countries heading to Bonn, Germany, for two weeks of talks beginning Monday.

And then there’s of course this:

Despite Various Attempts at Regulating CO2 Emissions, the Climb has been Unabated

Can you find the spot on the graph where the Kyoto Protocol was enacted? Neither can I.

There may be some local action that slows down the rate at which fossil resources are used, but as energy becomes more expensive pressure will mount to use those resources. This is why President Obama has waffled over offshore drilling. It is why the world will eventually start building more nuclear plants. If the choice is coal, oil, and nuclear power – or much higher energy prices – people are going to vote for candidates who promise to keep their energy bills in check.

One example of legislation that I expect to see watered down is Section 526 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA). This provision prohibits federal agencies from entering into contracts for transportation fuels with greater life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuel (such as synthetic fuels from coal). I have often said that it is simply a matter of oil prices before Section 526 is repealed. I am not saying that this is right or wrong, I just believe it is what will happen. Even today Section 526 is under attack, and I believe it will be repealed before 2020.

Specific Criticisms

Beyond the general disagreement with where CO2 regulations and emissions are headed, there were some nitpicks I had with the book.

In the forward by Arnold Schwarzenegger, he states that there is enough hydrogen in the water discharged by sewage treatment plants to power our cars, trucks, trains, and airplanes. I have no idea what that is supposed to mean.

The author spent a lot of time covering the great strides that China is making in cutting their carbon emissions. But that sort of glosses over the fact that China’s carbon emissions are growing rapidly. I had the impression here of the old saying “In theory, there is no difference between theory and reality. In reality, there is.” In theory China is doing a lot to cut carbon emissions. Meanwhile, they continue to build coal-fired power plants as quickly as they can, and so their carbon emissions were at an all-time record high in 2010.

In discussing the economics of some of the options for reducing one’s carbon footprint, Tamminen often treated state and federal tax money as simply a free pot money for everyone. Economic considerations were not really important in many cases because of the “free money.”

At one point I felt like he was playing games with the carbon measurement. It was essentially “If your carbon emissions are increasing, find a different metric for measuring them: Use per capita emissions if that works for you.” Thus, for a country with a high population growth rate, per capita emissions might be decreasing, while overall carbon emissions are in actually increasing rapidly.

In the book Tamminen incorrectly attributes Verasun’s bankruptcy to their high carbon footprint. In fact, that had nothing to do with what caused Verasun’s bankruptcy, and those plants continue to operate today under different management.

The book compares the trading scheme for sulfur that dramatically cut sulfur emissions in coal-fired power plants to a possible carbon trading scheme that could do the same. I don’t think these things are comparable for two reasons. One is that sulfur is washed out of the air by rain (and forms acid rain). That means that sulfur emissions in China aren’t going to result in a global increase in atmospheric sulfur. That is not the case with carbon dioxide. Second is that the point sources for sulfur were predominantly coal-fired power plants, and therefore pollution-control equipment could be concentrated there. There are far more point sources for carbon dioxide emissions.

Conclusion

If someone were to ask for a recommendation of a book that outlines steps for managing and lowering carbon emissions, I could recommend this book. The book does deliver on that account. There is a great deal of focus on measuring the carbon intensity of your business. The book covered that topic in enough detail that it could have been subtitled “How to do a Life Cycle Assessment.” But my overall assessment of the book is that it is idealistic relative to what can be achieved, and basically ignores the real-world data that shows that the situation is not improving.

However — and I do want to stress this point — I don’t mean to suggest that Tamminen is wasting his time. If the metric for success is global carbon emissions, then I do think efforts aimed at this will fail. On the other hand, many steps like improving energy efficiency are worthwhile for other reasons; for instance improving efficiency reduces susceptibility to energy price shocks. And that is the case with many steps that one would take to reduce their carbon footprint; there are other benefits that I think will end up being primary benefits.

  1. By Wendell Mercantile on July 3, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    But I read this book against the background of a fundamental nagging problem as I see it: I don’t believe there is a viable global solution to carbon emissions in any case – and so far the data back me up on this…

    I agree RR. And political satirist and commentator P.J. O’Rourke probably said it about as well and as concisely as can be said:

    There are 1.3 billion people in China, and they all want a Buick. Actually, if you go more than a mile of two outside China’s big cities, the wants are more basic. People want a hot plate and a piece of methane-emitting cow to cook on it. They want a carbon-belching moped, and some CO2-disgorging heat in their houses in the winter. And air-conditioning wouldn’t be considered an imposition, if you’ve ever been to China in the summer.

    Now, I want you to dress yourself in sturdy clothing and arm yourself however you like – a stiff shot of gin would be my recommendation – and I want you to go tell 1.3 billion Chinese they can never have a Buick.

    And the same goes for India. Terry Tamminen can write all the books and spell out all the policy he wants, but 2.3+ billion people in China and India want desperately to move into the middle-class, and their key to doing that is consuming energy at rates that approach the rate at which we use it. And as you point out, China now consumes only 2 barrels of oil for every 23 we consume.

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  2. By jerry-unruh on July 3, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    Robert:  

     

    I infer from your comments that you do not think there will be consequences severe enough to make the us change our ways within the timeframe for consuming all the fossil fuels.  Regrettably I strongly disagree. Time will tell.

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  3. By Wendell Mercantile on July 3, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    I infer from your comments that you do not think there will be consequences severe enough to make the us change our ways within the timeframe for consuming all the fossil fuels. Regrettably I strongly disagree.

    Jerry~

    There may be consequences that can get Americans to slow our consumption, but how do you get all those Chinese and Indians to decide they don’t really want to increase the quality of their lives?

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  4. By paul-n on July 3, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    In the forward by Arnold Schwarzenegger, he states that there is enough hydrogen in the water discharged by sewage treatment plants to power our cars, trucks, trains, and airplanes. I have no idea what that is supposed to mean.

    Some years ago I saw a concept plan for producing hydrogen by electrolysis of sewage.  The idea behind it is that if you make a significant reduction in the volume of sewage water that you have to treat, then you have a cost saving on the size and operating cost of sewage plants.   So if you are going to electrolyse something, the concept was, it might as well be sewage so you get a secondary benefit of volume reduction.

    It is far more complicated than that, of course, as you are electrolysing all sorts of other things in there too, which foul electrodes and contaminate the gases, but those details never stop the dreamers.

    Here are the numbers;

    Water is 12.5% H2 by weight.  If the average water use is 400L/person/day (105gal), then you have 50kg of H2 in there.  If you were to electrolyse all of it, you have 50kg x 121MJ/kg (LHV) = 6050MJ/day.  According to the EIA, the average, per capita, primary energy consumption is 330 million btu/yr, or 348GJ, or 950Mj/person/day.

    So, you would only need to electrolyse one sixth of the sewage water to get all the hydrogen for all primary energy needs – but the volume reduction is barely enough to make a difference.  And, you would need 3x the primary energy to make the electricity to do it.

     

    So Arnie is right in that there is enough hydrogen in the sewage volume, though this is indeed a relatively useless statement.  It is the same as saying “there is enough water, in seawater, to provide for all out needs” without going on to say that it would require a massive desalination effort to do this.  But what else do you expect from an actor and a politician – certainly not accurate thermodynamics?

     

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  5. By paul-n on July 3, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    and I want you to go tell 1.3 billion Chinese they can never have a Buick.

    Well, either no one took his chalenge to tell them that, or they weren;t listening;

    In April this year;


    Shanghai GM announced today that sales of Buick products in China have surpassed 3 million since 1999.

    In they only hit the 2m mark in 2009, so sales are accelerating.

    GM officials said they hope to double annual sales of all vehicles in China to 5 million.

    Yep, you won’t see that company advocating a low carbon lifestyle any time soon.

     

    As RR has said, we will burn it all  (unless China burns it all first!)

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  6. By Rufus on July 4, 2011 at 1:07 am

    So, it warms up, maybe, a degree, and we have another couple of hundred parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere. Oughta be good for the crops.

    Then the Glacial returns.

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  7. By carbonbridge on July 4, 2011 at 3:34 am

    Off Topic regarding more new Buicks for the Chinese and cracking the Carbon CO2 Code.  

    It was disappointing to begin reading news online early Sunday morning about a ruptured 12 in. crude oil pipeline which runs underneath the Yellowstone River about 15 miles west of Billings at the refinery town of Laurel, Montana.  This time the oil spill problem shifts from BP to ExxonMobil.  And the mighty Yellowstone River is running high and brown at flood stage right now.  At least the pipeline pressure was switched off rather quickly when crude oil pressures fell.  Now it is cleanup time, yet it is difficult to even get watercraft on this extra-high river which isn’t standing still… 

    And animals, birds, fish and farmer/landowners are at center stage of course…  Montana does have some Pelicans. 

    Wonderful 4th of July to Americans everywhere!  -Mark

    KALISPELL, Montana (Reuters) – Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer on Sunday questioned Exxon Mobil Corp’s contention that its oil pipeline spill into the Yellowstone River was concentrated within a 10-mile area.   Exxon said the spill, which occurred early Saturday near Billings, Montana, released into the river between 750 and 1,000 barrels of oil, which equals up to 42,000 gallons.

    The company also has said the spill appeared to be concentrated within a 10-mile stretch of the river between Billings and the nearby town of Laurel.  But Schweitzer said the oil’s spread in the Yellowstone — which is the longest undammed river in the United States — could be more extensive.

    “This is a lot of wild country, and they haven’t any idea whether it’s 5 miles, 50 miles or 100 miles, they’re guessing,” Schweitzer, a Democrat, told Reuters in a telephone interview.  Schweitzer said he wanted “every foot” of the Yellowstone’s banks to be examined for oil, and he said that he expects Exxon and any other responsible parties to clean up the spill.

    “(President) Reagan used to say, ‘Trust but verify.’ Well we’re not even going to trust, we’re just going to verify,” Schweitzer said.

    http://www.the33tv.com/sns-rt-…..9983.story

    Ruptured pipeline sends oil coursing down the Yellowstone River

    By ROB ROGERS and SUSAN OLP Of The Gazette Staff |  (41) Comments   19 photos at this link

    http://billingsgazette.com/new…..z1R79y5d9Q

    Exxon Yellowstone River Oil Spill on the farm

    Alexis Bonogofsky  — Our farm is located on the Yellowstone River in the Blue Creek area.  The oil is in our hay fields and pastures and has contaminated our pond and sloughs.

    http://billingsgazette.com/new…..790.html#0

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  8. By Wendell Mercantile on July 4, 2011 at 9:55 am

    In the forward by Arnold Schwarzenegger, he states that there is enough hydrogen in the water discharged by sewage treatment plants to power our cars, trucks, trains, and airplanes. I have no idea what that is supposed to mean.

    It means nothing. There’s also enough hydrogen in the water that comes out of the tap on my kitchen sink to power all that stuff. In fact, just think of all the hydrogen in the water in the Mississippi River and in the oceans of the world. There is no shortage of hydrogen — only a shortage of free hydrogen not already bound at the atomic level to other elements.

    But — and this is something S+14 didn’t say (or doesn’t know) — it takes energy to break apart the bonds holding together the oxygen and hydrogen atoms in those water molecules — lots of energy. More energy than we can ever get back by burning hydrogen as fuel.

    That means in almost all cases it would be better to directly use the energy needed to crack apart those water molecules in order to release hydrogen. Just as it would be more efficient to use natural gas directly to power cars instead of using it in the intermediate step of making ethanol.

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  9. By Rufus on July 4, 2011 at 10:11 am

    I wonder how many of those that speak of the efficacy of running the fleet on natural gas have actually converted their own cars to “natural gas?”

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  10. By Wendell Mercantile on July 4, 2011 at 10:30 am

    I wonder how many of those that speak of the efficacy of running the fleet on natural gas have actually converted their own cars to “natural gas?”

    Rufus~

    The number would be huge had our Federal government and politicians over the last 30 years directed the subsidies that went to corn ethanol to something that would have actually made a difference – such as a natural gas refueling infrastructure.

    It’s still not too late. There’s no reason that long-haul trucking shouldn’t be predominantly natural gas-powered, with the addition of natural gas refueling points at the truck stops along the Interstate highway system.

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  11. By Rufus on July 4, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Hmm, at $3,500.00/conversian – I wonder.

    I, also, wonder what the price of nat gas would be if we had thirty million cars running on it.

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  12. By jerry-unruh on July 4, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Wendell Mercantile said:

    I infer from your comments that you do not think there will be consequences severe enough to make the us change our ways within the timeframe for consuming all the fossil fuels. Regrettably I strongly disagree.

    Jerry~

    There may be consequences that can get Americans to slow our consumption, but how do you get all those Chinese and Indians to decide they don’t really want to increase the quality of their lives?


    Wendell:

     

    I was referring to worldwide consequences not just in the U.S.  For example, China may be running into ecological limits such as fresh water, food producing constraints, etc.  The Chinese are already buying land in other countries, particularly in Africa, in order to supply food – apparently oblivious to the effects that will have on local populations.  And contrary to other comments here in the Forum, increasing CO2 is much more likely to cause decreases in food production via droughts, floods, and increasing temperature.   My understanding is increasing temperature leads to decreasing yields of all the major grains.  Can this last problem be overcome via research in a timely fashion?  Once again, only time will tell.

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  13. By Kit P on July 4, 2011 at 10:57 am

     

    “Now, I want you to dress yourself in sturdy clothing and arm yourself however you like – a stiff shot of gin would be my recommendation ”

     

    I would recommend the same before going to West Virginia.

     

    Before I start hammering California environmentalism, let me say that I am in general agreement with RR’s last two paragraphs.

     

    Listening to the ideas of rich ‘environmentalists’ who live a consumptive life style really gets old.

     

    So Terry Tamminen want to make heating my home more expensive so he can do what? Before writing books on oil addiction and lowering the carbon foot Terry Tamminen wrote four books on pool and hot tub maintenance. There is nothing wrong with that than to suggest that Terry should know more about being the problem but does not seem very good with solutions. Hey Terry, why not try to get California environmentalists to carpool?

     

    “such as a natural gas refueling infrastructure. ”

     

    Paul is correct, H2 for transportation is stupid because we make it with NG. If you are concerned with AGW and running out of fossil fuel, switching to NG just a little bit less stupid. NG is a fossil fuel.

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  14. By Rufus on July 4, 2011 at 10:57 am

    Meanwhile, we might be on the road to an all-time high corn crop this year.

    That CO2 is some good stuff. That’s why all commercial greenhouses use it. They like it at about 1,000 ppm (compared to our present level of just under 400 ppm.)

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  15. By Rufus on July 4, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    From what I’m reading, I wouldn’t be the least surprised to read, sometime toward the end of next year, of a Solar Farm being built with an “Installed Cost” of $2.00 Watt. Without Subsidies.

    That will change the way a lot of people think about electricity in Phoenix, Tucson, LA, San Diego, San Antonio, Houston, etc.

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  16. By Rufus on July 4, 2011 at 11:08 am

    Think of a coal train 2,000 miles long. That’s what the U.S. and China uses every day.

    The biggest problem I see with fossil fuels is: there just aren’t enough of them. We’re at “peak oil,’ today, and we’re expected to hit “peak coal” within 20 yrs.

    Peak nat gas? Who knows, but you can bet it’ll be sooner than we think.

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  17. By Dave Runyon on July 4, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    I have been driving a Civic Natural Gas since February. Other than needing to plan ahead more for fueling and smaller trunk space, it is pretty painless (much less painful than other options for transportation). I agree with Rufus if we just drive up use of natural gas for transportation and electrical power generation, the price is unlikely to remain low ($2.47/gallon equivalent now where I fuel). Despite the legitimate and not so legitimate concerns about nuclear, I really don’t see a realistic alternative to nuclear for electrical power generation. Some of the generation IV nuclear designs would seem to be an enormous improvement in safety and dramatic reduction in waste. I have been very disappointed not to see a big push to accelerate the work on these since Fukushima. Replacing coal and generation I nuclear plants with gen IV (or at least the current gen 3 and 3+ currently available) would greatly improve safety and reduce pollution of all types.

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  18. By rrapier on July 4, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Jerry Unruh said:

    Robert:  

     

    I infer from your comments that you do not think there will be consequences severe enough to make the us change our ways within the timeframe for consuming all the fossil fuels.  Regrettably I strongly disagree. Time will tell.


     

    Jerry,

    That’s not at all what I am saying. I am saying even if the ultimate consequences are catastrophic, I don’t see a moment in time where there is a global “aha” moment and China and India decide to stop their fossil fuel consumption growth. That will only come about due to scarcity, in my opinion.

    Robert (sitting in an airport in Burlington, Vermont)

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  19. By rrapier on July 4, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    Rufus said:

    Hmm, at $3,500.00/conversian – I wonder.

    I, also, wonder what the price of nat gas would be if we had thirty million cars running on it.


     

    A big chunk of that, though, is due to EPA licensing fees as I covered here. I have been to India and saw CNG vehicles everywhere. If it was really that expensive to convert, they wouldn’t be running so many of them. In fact, the countries with the most CNG vehicles are mostly developing countries. Pakistan has the most, followed by Argentina, Iran, Brazil, and India. Can’t be too expensive to produce them.

    RR

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  20. By rrapier on July 4, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Wendell Mercantile said:

    In the forward by Arnold Schwarzenegger, he states that there is enough hydrogen in the water discharged by sewage treatment plants to power our cars, trucks, trains, and airplanes. I have no idea what that is supposed to mean.

    It means nothing. There’s also enough hydrogen in the water that comes out of the tap on my kitchen sink to power all that stuff.


     

    I presumed he must have talking about electrolysis (he didn’t specify), but as you say, what a meaningless point.

    RR

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  21. By Kit P on July 4, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    “Some of the generation IV nuclear designs would seem to be an enormous improvement in safety and dramatic reduction in waste. ”

     

    Dave, ever notice how nice that new car looks in the brochure but after five years is is just a car. It is not possible to have enormous improvements in safety because LWR are already enormously safe. That is the record. Statistically, an existing reactor might have a core damage frequency (an accident) of one in ten million and Gen III+, one in a hundred million. This does not include credit the containment building or evacuation. I have not seen a PRA for a Gen IV yet plants but you are comparing a very small number to another small. It is hard to get enormous out of that.

     

    The amount of waste from nuke plants is also very small. The French estimate the amount of waste for a lifetime of electricity from a LWR to be about the size of a baseball. The amount of waste is insignificant. Now divide insignificant in half and how much do you have?

     

    “I have been very disappointed not to see a big push to accelerate ”

     

    Work is continuing in the US to a design. Just heard a presentation by a visiting college professor from China. Construction is preceding with their HTGCR. The central government is going to be more active in criteria to site reactors since Fukushima. Wink, wink! China’s new built program was very aggressive.

     

    “generation I nuclear plants ”

     

    There are no Gen I reactors in the US. All 104 UE reactors meet modern safety standards.

     

    Just for the record, the best US policy to reduce AGW was the Bush policy to make in possible for US companies to help China build modern reactors. Westinghouse is now building four AP1000 in China. The utilities that are planing to AP1000 in the US have people in China to learn how to schedule work to build new reactors in 5 years.

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  22. By Rufus on July 4, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    In Phoenix, that $2.00/watt will get you about 3.0 to 3.5 kilowatt/hrs, annually, with no “feedstock” costs, no pollution, and no Hundreds of miles of Transmission lines.

    And, do it for somewhere between 50, and 100 yrs.

    And, obviously, do it when you need it the most.

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  23. By Citizen on July 4, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Cheap solar cells made out of plastics… A new innovation from British researchers…

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  24. By Kit P on July 4, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    “I wouldn’t be the least surprised to read ”

     

    Rufus, reading something like that would not surprise me either. Doing it is a different matter. I would think a man of your age would be less gullible. The solar industry is about selling junk not making electricity.

     

    There is tree basic problems with solar. First is the 20% capacity factor assuming no humidity. Good luck with that. Second, solar requires massive areas to collect the sun.

     

    “no Hundreds of miles of Transmission lines.”

     

    Lay off the Jack buddy, you will eat your liver out. The folks who want solar want to build else where. If you are going to put it in the Mojave desert, you will need transmission lines.

     

    Third, PV is junk.

     

    “And, do it for somewhere between 50, and 100 yrs. ”

     

    So you say. Some the report that gives production and O&M for even five years. Like Rufus and Kit P, leave something out in the sun all day and it gets old fast.

     

    “And, obviously, do it when you need it the most. ”

     

    Obviously Rufus you used the word obvious because you did not check the facts and hoped no one would because it is obvious. Looking at CAL ISO, summer peak demand is around 5-6 pm. Solar peak precedes demand by 4 hours. In winter, peak demand is between 7&8 pm.

     

    The problem with solar is not cost. If it makes people happy in California to pave the desert to protect the environment, that is fine with me. It will not reduce the amount of coal burned.

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  25. By Rufus on July 4, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    You’re just hyperbolatin’, Kit. PV is not junk. They’re taking 35 year old panels down that are operating within factory specs.

    And, land? You need a 500 Megawatts, and you go a mile out into the desert, and put panels on twelve, fifteen hundred acres. Of Desert. Gimmee a break.

    And, those PV panels are giving off a lot of juice at 7:00 PM. You want more juice at 7:00 PM you put up more panels.

    The cost of PV systems is dropping like a rock, Kit. And, I’ll guarantee you I could Install a solar farm for less than a quarter a watt.

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  26. By Rufus on July 4, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Also, if you’ll look at Ca ISO, wind starts picking up around 4:00 PM. It’s always a good idea to think of wind, and solar as a system.

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  27. By Rufus on July 4, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    And, of course wind, and solar will reduce the amount of coal burned. A Gigawatt produced by Solar doesn’t have to be produced by burning coal. I mean, I know “common sense” isn’t common, but come on.

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  28. By Kit P on July 4, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    “And, of course wind, and solar will reduce the amount of coal burned. ”

     

    It only works that way in your imagination Rufus. California does not have any large coal plants.

     

    Electricity is not supplied to grid based on common sense. It is based on generating cost. If you have mandates for that require the grid operator,  like CA ISO, to load renewable energy first, we see that yesterday, a steady 2000 MWe of generation came from non wind and solar renewable energy. Wind and solar provided a viable 200 – 1400 MWe supply which could have replaced natural gas since it is more expensive than coal generation.

     

    Roughly 70% of US electricity is fossil fuels. The mix of coal and NG varies so wind and solar has a long way to go before they make a difference. The reason is that wind and solar are no very good ways to make electricity. Thanks to fossil fuels, there is plenty of room for wind and solar but do not hold your breath based on press releases.

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  29. By Mark Duffett on July 4, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    those PV panels are giving off a lot of juice at 7:00 PM

    Only if by “a lot” you mean “less than 10% of what they were producing at noon”. Assuming no clouds. And that it’s not winter, in which case their output will have dropped to zero a couple of hours earlier.

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  30. By Rufus on July 4, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    Naw, that’s not right. Typical the last couple of months has been about 450 Megawatts during the highest hour, and about 5,000 to 5,500 MWhrs Total for the day. It only really drops off hard during Dec, Jan, and Feb, from what I’ve seen.

    Like I said, I think you’d be safe figuring close to 3.5 kwhrs, annually, per installed watt in that area.

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  31. By Rufus on July 4, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    Now, here’s one they’ve, evidently, just finished that delivers electricity 24 hrs/day. Salt Storage, 19.9 MW at Max, and can deliver 300 MWhrs over a 24 hr period. Takes the occasional thunderstorm out of the equation.

    http://cleantechnica.com/2011/…..nstructed/

    Didn’t give a cost on this one. Probably high; the first ones usually are. However, like most things it’ll probably come down.

    California’s got a couple of Solar thermal units under construction, I think; although, I don’t remember reading anything about 24 hr storage.

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  32. By mac on July 4, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    Rufus,

    If you are interested in solar, here’s an interesting film. The film’s point of view is decidedly pro-solar. But there is enough information about the historical development of solar in Germany and what’s actually going on in solar today (world-wide) to make it worth watching,

    Since the film was made about two or three years ago, a number of predictions made in the film have already come true.

    Last year Germany installed more Gigawatts of solar than they did wind..

    The rise of solar is an amazing story (whether you agree or dis-agree about “subsidized” solar power)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…..LHBFyfvK8A

    [link]      
  33. By Rufus on July 4, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    Thanks, Mac, I’ll give it a look.

    [link]      
  34. By Rufus on July 4, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    That was a Great Video, mac. Thanks a ton. It is funny. Those were/are the seers, and yet, in two years we are about where they thought we would be in five, or ten.

    Again, thanks a lot. It was Great.

    [link]      
  35. By Wendell Mercantile on July 4, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    Last year Germany installed more Gigawatts of solar than they did wind..

    That’s placarded gigawatts. Unfortunately, in Germany the Sun hardly gets above the horizon from the beginning of November to the end of February, and when it does, it’s usually overcast.

    [link]      
  36. By Rufus on July 4, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    Of course, the “Daddy” right now, in Wind, And Solar, is China. They’re installing way more than anyone else, and have somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 Companies producing Solar Panels.

    I like the feel of a “Solar Field” outside Every Town. Locally owned.

    Right next to the Cellulosic Biorefinery (that, also, produces electricity.)

    [link]      
  37. By Wendell Mercantile on July 4, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    Rufus~

    Thought you’d be interested in this: All that coal they are burning in China may actually be good for climate change: Asia pollution blamed for halt in warming

    Smoke belching from Asia’s rapidly growing economies is largely responsible for a halt in global warming in the decade after 1998 because of sulphur’s cooling effect, even though greenhouse gas emissions soared, a U.S. study said on Monday.

    “It has been unclear why global surface temperatures did not rise between 1998 and 2008,” said the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States.

    Sulphur aerosols may remain in the atmosphere for several years, meaning their cooling effect will gradually abate once smokestack industries clean up.

    [link]      
  38. By Rufus on July 4, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    Ah, S. Germany (Munich) would be about the same lattitude as the middle of Minnesota. Not where I’d put MY solar panel if I had my druthers, but they still get some juice.

    Germany has a problem. It’s either “Renewables,” or Russian Gas.

    Keep in mind: Germany is the No 1 Economy in Europe (and, some would say, the world – in many respects,) and it’s No. 1 in Renewable Energy.

    [link]      
  39. By Rufus on July 4, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    Could be, Wendell.

    Or, it could be just that the warming effect from CO2 is Logarithmic, and a few hundred ppm isn’t going to get you much at this point. :)

    [link]      
  40. By mac on July 5, 2011 at 12:11 am

    Okay Wendell.

    When you speak of “placarded” capacity in regard to re-newables, is this the same thing as “Name-plate” capacity ?

    I always thought that wind and solar farms were constructed on the basis of historic wind and solar data.

    If the Germans can somehow make solar work in their whacky climate, then solar will work ANY WHERE.

    [link]      
  41. By paul-n on July 5, 2011 at 12:48 am

    Yes, he means nameplate capacity.  However, the average capacity factor in Germany is all of 11% – it is not a very sunny place.

    I always thought that wind and solar farms were constructed on the basis of historic wind and solar data.

    That is where solar and wind engineers would like to decide where to put them, however, what actually determines where they go is which places offer the highest subsidies.  The south of France gets almost twice as much sun as Germany, but has no solar subsidies and so very few solar installations. 

    Wherever you are seeing a rush to put up wind or solar, it is highly likely there are  very generous and/or limited time subsidies on offer. 

     

    [link]      
  42. By mac on July 5, 2011 at 2:15 am

    Paul said,

    “That is where solar and wind engineers would like to decide where to put them, however, what actually determines where they go is which places offer the highest subsidies. The south of France gets almost twice as much sun as Germany, but has no solar subsidies and so very few solar installations.”

    “Wherever you are seeing a rush to put up wind or solar, it is highly likely there are very generous and/or limited time subsidies on offer. ”

    Or, geo-political considerations like the Russian nat gas import problem as Rufus has mentioned.

    Besides, (let’s face it), German solar resources are pretty pathetic, all things considered, If they can make solar work in Germany (whatever their motivation), then solar will work virtually anywhere.

    [link]      
  43. By paul-n on July 5, 2011 at 3:17 am

    Mac, You can make anything “work” anywhere if you subsidise it enough.  This explains the apparent success of both German Solar and American Ethanol.  

    We can see from the protests about about taking the subsidies away (in both countries)  that these things don’t “work” that well without them – where “work” is defined as being cost effective enough that people/business choose them, voluntarily, ahead of the alternatives.

    I cannot think of a major market for solar, wind , or ethanol/biodiesel  that does not exist primarily because of generous gov subisdy and/or mandate.

     

    [link]      
  44. By Frank Weigert on July 5, 2011 at 7:58 am

    Does the author differentiate between carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels (bad) and carbon emissions from burning biomass (potentially neutral)?

    [link]      
  45. By Rufus on July 5, 2011 at 8:15 am

    The American Ethanol Blenders quit pricing in the “Subsidies” on July 1st. All of the bills in Congress have the first of July as the cut-off date. The American Ethanol Market is now “Subsidy-free.”

    [link]      
  46. By Rufus on July 5, 2011 at 8:56 am

    Governments use subsidies to encourage the growth of desired industries. The U.S. gave the oil companies $13 Billion to go out and start drilling in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It gave the Blenders (basically, oil companies) $0.45/gal to blend ethanol into their gasoline (or, at least, not to fight too hard over the mandates.)

    We’re subsidizing Solar, Wind, etc to encourage Capital, and People to put resources to work in those industries. The Government, with its deep pockets, is helping to get the “risk” down to a level that industry can afford, and to a level that will bring in the Gamblers, and Entrepreneurs.

    Sometimes you end up with a lot of “Social Good” being accomplished. I think this has probably happened with the Wind, Solar, and Biofuels Industries.

    BTW, the same thing was done with the Nuclear Industry. The U.S. is still insuring those nuclear plants, right? And, still issuing huge Loan Guarantees for their construction. And, those electric cars get what, a $7,500.00 Tax Credit?

    You can say, “that’s silly; if there was a need, the market would do it on its own,” but in many situations the Government is trying to get these industries up and running before a “crisis” situation develops. The idea, in ethanol’s case, was to try to get the industry established Before Oil hit $150.00, or $200.00 bbl.

    [link]      
  47. By Duracomm on July 5, 2011 at 9:04 am

    Rufus said,

    The American Ethanol Market is now “Subsidy-free.”

    This is a wonderful first step.

    Now we can work on ending the mandate that forces the usage of the unwanted, unneeded, counterproductive ethanol fuel adulterant.

    [link]      
  48. By Duracomm on July 5, 2011 at 9:14 am

    Rufus said,

    Governments use subsidies to encourage the growth of desired industries

    You missed the real purpose of subsidies.

    Governments use subsidies to encourage the growth of desired industries handout corporate welfare to politically connected industries with good lobbyists.

    [link]      
  49. By Duracomm on July 5, 2011 at 9:17 am

    Oops , formatting fail in previous comment, lets try again,

    Rufus said,

    Governments use subsidies to encourage the growth of desired industries

    You missed the real purpose of subsidies.

    Governments use subsidies to handout corporate welfare to politically connected industries with good lobbyists.

    [link]      
  50. By Rufus on July 5, 2011 at 9:21 am

    Naw, you’ve got all you’re going to get. The RFS is set in stone, forever.

    [link]      
  51. By Wendell Mercantile on July 5, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Governments use subsidies to encourage the growth of desired industries…

    Rufus~

    That’s probably what your teachers taught you in 10th grade civics class, and in theory that’s true. But, pragmatically, no. In the real world subsidies go to those with the most political clout, and who spend the most on lobbyists. In the case of corn ethanol it was because of the 42 farm state senators and Corn Belt politics. Or the case of the infamous mohair sheep subsidy which started in WW II when military uniforms used mohair, and which has been embedded in every farm bill since, only because of politics, not because the military any longer needs mohair.

    [link]      
  52. By rrapier on July 5, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Frank Weigert said:

    Does the author differentiate between carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels (bad) and carbon emissions from burning biomass (potentially neutral)?


     

    Yes, he considered biofuels a route to low net carbon emissions.

    RR

    [link]      
  53. By Rufus on July 5, 2011 at 10:26 am

    Politicians do Politics!!

    Stop The Presses!!

    Sure some politics get done along the way. And, sometimes it reaches the levels of silliness, and fraud. But, whattaya goin’ to do? It’s “Government.”

    [link]      
  54. By Wendell Mercantile on July 5, 2011 at 10:34 am

    If the Germans can somehow make solar work in their whacky climate, then solar will work ANY WHERE.

    mac~

    There is no question Germany is building lots of solar capacity, but that’s not the same as “making it work.” The statistics for Germany always say how much capacity was installed, not how much actual power they are generating. (And yes, a placard is the same as a nameplate.)

    Unfortunately, Germany is handicapped by its high latitude and the poor weather of the long, northern European winters. They’ve overcome that handicap with quantity. Germany actually does produce considerable solar power, but only because they’ve installed so many panels. Install enough of something, and even at low efficiency you’ll get a lot of output.

    It would be more logical for Europe to make a united solar power effort and put the panels in southern France, Italy, Greece, and northern Africa and send the electricity to northern Europe. But the political obstacles of doing something like that in Europe are even greater than the political obstacles would be in the U.S.

    Sometimes you end up with a lot of “Social Good” being accomplished. I think this has probably happened with the Wind, Solar, and Biofuels Industries.

    Rufus~

    Please be so kind to tell us about the ‘social good’ Tunica County has because of the subsidies that have gone to the wind, solar, and biofuel industries.

    [link]      
  55. By Rufus on July 5, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Our Gasoline is a hell of a lot cheaper as a result of ethanol.

    [link]      
  56. By Rufus on July 5, 2011 at 10:47 am

    There are about 1.8 Million bbl/day of Ethanol produced, Globally, and probably a couple of hundred thousand bbl/day of biodiesel produced.

    Take that 2 Million bbl/day out of the World Market, and what do you think would happen to the price of gasoline?

    [link]      
  57. By Wendell Mercantile on July 5, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Rufus~

    When you said subsidies for wind, solar, and biofuels provided “a lot of social good being accomplished” I thought you meant things such as:

    1. Poverty rates
    2. Literacy rates
    3. Employment rate
    4. Access to healthcare
    5. Reduction in the number of unwed pregnancies
    6. Life expectancy
    7. Etc.

    All things that Tunica County could benefit from. Have those subsidies helped Tunica in any of those types of “social good?”

    [link]      
  58. By Rufus on July 5, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Why sure. Lower gasoline prices are positive for All those (except, of course, #5.) :)

    [link]      
  59. By Wendell Mercantile on July 5, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Lower gasoline prices are positive for all those…

    Rufus~

    I guess that means the literacy rate in Tunica must have been near 100% back when I was pumping gas in my Dad’s filling station at 34.9 cents/gallon, right?

    [link]      
  60. By Benny BND Cole on July 5, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    BTW, Methanex is now selling methanol, made from natural gas, for $1.28 a gallon.

    And we have natural gas to the moon.

    [link]      
  61. By Rufus on July 5, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Sam, I have another comment caught up in the filter.

    Okay, I’ll try “registering,” again. :)

    Thanks.

    Edit: I fished it out and manually approved. Send me an e-mail and I’ll reset the password on your old account. -Sam

    [link]      
  62. By Rufus on July 5, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    Renewable energy production has surpassed nuclear energy production in the U.S. according to the latest issue of Monthly Energy Review published by the Energy Information Administration. Production of alternative energy is also beginning to close in on domestic oil production.

    During the first three months of 2011, energy produced from renewable energy sources (biomass/biofuels, geothermal, solar, hydro, wind) generated 2.245 quadrillion Btus of energy equating to 11.73 percent of U.S. energy production. During this same time period, renewable energy production surpassed nuclear energy power by 5.65 percent. In total, energy produced from renewables is 77.15 percent of that from domestic crude oil production.

    When looking at all energy sectors, production of renewable energy has increased by a little over 15 percent when compared to first quarter of 2010, and by more than 25 percent when compared to the first quarter of 2009. Of this total, biomass/biofuels accounted for approximately 48 percent of this total followed by hydropower at 35.41 percent, wind at 12.87 percent, geothermal at 2.45 percent and lastly solar at 1.16 percent.

    Despite a seemingly low number for solar power, when compared to first quarter last year, solar power has increased by 104.8 percent while wind power increased by 40.3 percent.

    IEA

    [link]      
  63. By Rufus on July 5, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    Where do I send the email?

    [link]      
  64. By savro on July 5, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    Rufus said:

    Where do I send the email?


     

    editor [at] consumerenergyreport [dot] com

    [link]      
  65. By Optimist on July 5, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    Now, I want you to dress yourself in sturdy clothing and arm yourself however you like – a stiff shot of gin would be my recommendation – and I want you to go tell 1.3 billion Chinese they can never have a Buick.

    I don’t see a moment in time where there is a global “aha” moment and China and India decide to stop their fossil fuel consumption growth. That will only come about due to scarcity, in my opinion.

    Who needs scarcity if you have a free market (roughly speaking)? At $10/gal you won’t need to tell the Chinese anything. Heck, many Americans would be giving up their Buicks at that point…

    [link]      
  66. By Wendell Mercantile on July 5, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    During the first three months of 2011, energy produced from renewable energy sources (biomass/biofuels, geothermal, solar, hydro, wind) generated 2.245 quadrillion Btus of energy equating to 11.73 percent of U.S. energy production.

    Rufus~

    Notice it doesn’t say how much energy was consumed generating that 2.245 quads. Throw that into the calculus, and that 11.73% would drop significantly.

    [link]      
  67. By rufus on July 5, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    Sam, I’m afraid your forum just doesn’t like me. I’m logged in as Rufus, but when I try to make a comment it just says, “your comment is saved.”

    ?

    [link]      
  68. By savro on July 5, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    It’s showing up fine, Rufus. I’m not sure what the problem you’re experiencing is. Shoot me an e-mail if the problem persists.

    [link]      
  69. By mac on July 6, 2011 at 1:06 am

    Rufus,
    Glad you enjoyed the film. I especially liked the part where the guy from Applied Materials said that the EROEI for a solar farm was just 8 months.with continued production beyond 25 years.

    [link]      
  70. By mac on July 6, 2011 at 1:16 am

    Rufus,

    Glad you enjoyed the film. I especially liked the part where the guy
    from Applied Materials said that the EROEI for a solar farm was just 8
    months.with continued production beyond 25 years.

     

    In other words, the estimated return on energy invested is at least 25 to 1.

     

    OOps !!!!!

    [link]      
  71. By rufus on July 6, 2011 at 1:50 am

    China Is Investing Heavily in Clean Energy

    To realize its 12th FYP and CCCS environmental commitments, China is investing heavily in its clean technology sector. In 2010, China became the world’s largest investor in clean technology by a long shot, winning it title as the best country for clean technology investment by Ernst & Young. Mr Shi Dinguan, senior adviser with China’s State Council, publicly announced that by 2020, the Chinese government will have invested RMB300 trillion (approximately US$45 trillion) in clean technology.

    China Clean Energy

    [link]      
  72. By rufus on July 6, 2011 at 1:57 am

    Okay, there’s obviously a mistake in that “Investment” number. That’s an amount almost equal to their entire GDP.

    But, we do know they’re going Great Guns over there on Renewables.

    [link]      
  73. By paul-n on July 6, 2011 at 1:57 am

    Why Rufus, I think the Forum does like you – you are looking as good as ever in the forum view – even earned the status of “engineering mgr” – not bad for a retired insurance guy!  

     

    Interesting stats from the EIA (not the IEA) about renewables.  The way they calculate the total energy, in btu, for things like wind and solar is they assume the same heat rate (10,000 btu/kWh, or 35% efficiency)  as a fossil fuel plant.  So the measure is actually the amount of fossil fuel – coal – that would be needed to produce the same energy.

    Given that they have done, this, it would then be a simple step, for things like ethanol, to subtract the fossil fuel used to make it, and arrive at the net energy delivered by ethanol (about half).

    That aside, ethanol is yet to match good old wood as a primary energy source – it is getting close though.  The amount of wood used as fuel is equal to about 75% of the hydro electricity produced – quite an amazing number, IMO.  

    Equally amazing is just how small solar is, and how little it has grown.  In 1990 it was at 70 trillion btu’s, and stayed at or below that for the next decade, and now, has gotten up to 109 (for 2010).  This is 1.35% of renewables, and all of 0.1% of total primary energy production.

    A pretty good indication of just how massive the task is to try and  power today’s society with solar…

     

     

     

    [link]      
  74. By rufus on July 6, 2011 at 2:09 am

    EIA, IEA, EI, EI, OH Whatever :)

    Solar’s going to be a Monster, Paul. Forget $2.00/watt; I believe in two, or three years we’ll be looking at $1.50 Installed for thin-film.. The numbers are getting so compelling, and the installation is so easy, that it starts to boggle the mind.

    [link]      
  75. By rufus on July 6, 2011 at 2:31 am

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about ‘Powering Society with Solar.” I’m talking about, eventually, producing a very large amount of electricity with Solar. In most cases, I’m pretty sure it will make more sense to supply needed night-time electricity with Wind, than to “store” Solar.

    Then there’s Geo-Thermal, and a small cellulosic ethanol plant in every county would supply, I think, close to 10% of our electricity (I meant to run the numbers on that today, but I forgot, and now it’ll have to wait till tomorrow.)

    But, I could definitely see Solar producing forty, or fifty percent of our electricity. Maybe more, if we really get our tits in a wringer, and something else doesn’t come along.

    [link]      
  76. By mac on July 6, 2011 at 2:32 am

    Paul said:

    “Equally amazing is just how small solar is, and how little it has grown. In 1990 it was at 70 trillion btu’s, and stayed at or below that for the next decade, and now, has gotten up to 109 (for 2010).”

    First of all, how about referencing your source,

    Secondly, solar doesn’t make BTUs, it makes electricity.

    [link]      
  77. By paul-n on July 6, 2011 at 4:06 am

    Gee Mac, Rufus gave an EIA link, and I used it, and even said “interesting stats from the EIA”, but if you need to be spoon fed, here it is;

    http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy…..ec10_3.pdf

    And I said that they (EIA) report is as fossil fuel btu equivalent – they have chosen this method to keep everything at one common denominator.  I am not saying this is the best, or even most accurate way, but that is the way the US govt has decided to do it – if you don’t like it – take it up with them.

     

    @ Rufus,  I think as the solar costs come down, the market will obviously grow, but there is a problem in that if any real number of utility scale systems start to get built, the supply of panels will rapidly be maxed out.   

    Personally I think mid size commercial systems, at the point of use, (rooftops of warehouse etc) are the best way to go.  Solar is about the only on-site generation (other than NG) that can be done in urban areas, so it is on the downstream side of transmission constraints, and they produce when most commercial places are open – during the day.

    I do agree that systems to store solar energy are kinda pointless – even though it doesn’t match the peak perfectly, it is still during the higher use hours, and until solar gets to where it is even 10% of generation, there is no need to even think about wasting money on storage -plenty of other things to waste it on.

    Just for comaprison, the German solar generation capacity is (supposedly) 17,000MW in 2010 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power_in_Germany), and the output was 12,000 GWh, for a capacity factor of 8%.  Though this will be a bit undewrstated as many systems came online part way through the year.  

    This output was all of 2% of Germanys electricity consumption – so even they have a long way to go.

    Fifty percent?  No way.

    [link]      
  78. By rate-crimes on July 6, 2011 at 7:18 am

    “even though it doesn’t match the peak perfectly, it is still during the higher use hours, and until solar gets to where it is even 10% of generation, there is no need to even think about wasting money on storage -plenty of other things to waste it on.” – Paul N

    Paul N makes an essential point:  At current and foreseeable levels of generation, solar is an excellent supplement.  Arguments against solar made from dispatchability are specious, and are derived from a false ‘all-or-nothing’ model by minds whose thinking is constrained by the established paradigm of central generation hanging on an antiquated grid.

    “Personally I think mid size commercial systems, at the point of use, (rooftops of warehouse etc) are the best way to go.” – Paul N

    Another excellent point:  not only is solar more economical in the localized, distributed model, but it also distributes and diminishes the risks from catastrophes.  The more centralized is the generation, the more both generation and transmission must be ‘hardened’; and the higher the risk of sudden, catastrophic loss (think Fukushima).

    Another important advantage of many solar technologies that has not yet been mentioned here is solar’s negligible water requirements.  The importance of this aspect of solar will increase.

    [link]      
  79. By Wendell Mercantile on July 6, 2011 at 9:04 am

    Secondly, solar doesn’t make BTUs, it makes electricity.

    mac~

    Btus are a unit of energy, as are kilowatt-hours.. It’s not normally done, but electrical output can be measured in Btu, as well as kWh.

    1 kWh = 3412 Btu

    [link]      
  80. By mac on July 6, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Okay Paul.
    Sorry I missed Rufus’ reference. As far as btu versus Kwh or Mwh, that’s fine. Whatever floats your boat, We could also use Joules but Kwh or Mwh are pretty handy.

    [link]      
  81. By Morgan Barnhart on July 6, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Hi Robert,

    You said basically what I wanted to say, in your last paragraph. While this seems like a good book to read for theories, it doesn’t seem effective for laying out a plan of attack when it comes to our carbon footprint.

    Doing what we can on our own to cut down on emissions such as utilizing solar power, installing energy efficient windows, using energy efficient air conditioners, etc., will ultimately be effective in the end.

    One step at a time! Great review!

    [link]      
  82. By carbonbridge on July 6, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    Paul N said:

    Why Rufus, I think the Forum does like you – you are looking as good as ever in the forum view – even earned the status of “engineering mgr” – not bad for a retired insurance guy!  


     

    An Anonymous Poster one minute.  Then a couple of clicks later the same evening, an Anonymous Member.  Pretty good stunt there Rufus. 

    I thought membership on this Forum meant that we took our masks off and used our own true identities when we wrote and posted something publicly?  I guess I was wrong about the intent which RR and Sam seemingly had with ‘Members’ to this discussion forum. 

    At least you can go back and re-edit your posts after plunking them down.  This is one of the benefits of being a Member, albeit still a ghost.  Are you absolutely sure that you are not being salaried by the RFA?

    –Mark

    [link]      
  83. By Wendell Mercantile on July 6, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    …and a small cellulosic ethanol plant in every county would supply

    Rufus,

    There you go again. Small cellulosic plants are not going to be able to operate economically, and I suspect there is not enough biomass in each county to run them.

    I have said this a couple of times before over the last month, but no one apparently caught it: There is a 40-megawatt power plant I know of that recently converted to burning biomass from coal. It has been using more than 70 semi-loads of biomass a day, and they have had to gather biomass from within a 150-mile radius to find enough to keep this single plant running.

    Note: A 40-megawatt plant is really not that large, and they have had to go out for 150 miles to find enough biomass.

    Rufus,

    You now have 2,696-megawatts of coal-fired power plant capacity running in Mississippi. That would be 67 of these 40-megawatt biomass power plants. You can’t go out for a 150-mile radius from 67 separate 40-megawatt power plants and still be in Mississippi.

    There simply is not enough room in Mississippi for 67 biomass-powered 40-megawatt power plants which is what it would take to replace your current electrical generation capacity.

    [link]      
  84. By Kit P on July 6, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    “for a capacity factor of 8%. ”

     

    Sounds about right Paul. Since a properly installed and maintained system could be expected to have 20% CF, there are a lots of systems that are close to 0% CF.

     

    The expectation for solar should be that it will produce no electricity until data shows other wise.

     

    “the higher the risk of sudden, catastrophic loss (think Fukushima). ”

     

    There is certainly no risk with solar because no one depends on it.

     

    “BTW, the same thing was done with the Nuclear Industry.”

     

    No!

     

    “The U.S. is still insuring those nuclear plants, right?”

     

    Nuke plants and the rate payers pay the insurance. The federal government sets requirements like it does for many things interstate.

     

    “And, still issuing huge Loan Guarantees for their construction. ”

     

    We could only wish Rufus. Only one so far. The government is making a profits.

     

    Just for the record Rufus, ‘huge’ is the amount of electricity you would expect a new nuke to produce. Based on new plants in other countries, a 95% CF is what we expect.

     

     

    [link]      
  85. By rufus on July 6, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    There you go with that reading comprehension thing, again, Wendell. I didn’t say we should replace ALL of our coal with biomass. Only as much as is reasonable. We still have great Solar Resources, Good Wind in NW Mississippi, and the Ocean, and Rivers, themselves.

    I’ve, repeatedly, written about 10 – 15 Million gpy biorefineries, and we have Plenty of ag waste, msw, and low quality land for energy crops for that.

    [link]      
  86. By rufus on July 6, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    Wendell, there are 82 Counties in the State of Mississippi. A Cellulosic ethanol plant will tend to put out about one megawatt of electricity for every million gpy of ethanol produced (a bit more with some designs.)

    So 82 cellulosic plants could pretty easily give you 1,000+ Megawatts of electricity. Probably about 1/3 of our electricity. Add in a good dollop of Solar, and some Wind, and we could be getting pretty close to self-sufficiency.

    [link]      
  87. By Wendell Mercantile on July 6, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    ….and low quality land for energy crops for that.

    Low-quality land is called “low-quality land” for a reason. If they have to range out 150 miles to keep a 40-megawatt biomass power plant supplied in an area of “high-quality” farm land, what kind of radius are you thinking of for a 1-megawatt plant that produces not only power but ethanol in a “low-quality” area? (Although I always thought the Delta was pretty fertile.)

    Good Wind in NW Mississippi

    How many utility-scale wind turbines do you have in Tunica County? I was out flying today and flew over at least 300 utility-scale turbines in this area.

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  88. By rufus on July 7, 2011 at 12:12 am

    Are you obtuse, or just argumentative/ – never mind, silly question.

    Wendell, you’re in the middle of the best farmland in the world. Every acre that isn’t paved is farmed. If they’re not using corn stover, and I’m almost positive they’re not, it’s no wonder they have to go great distances to find biomass. It’s just an entirely different situation in the SouthEast.

    Also, your cellulosic plants will be looking for a different type of biomass than your power plant is looking for. The first cellulosic ethanol, of scale, will be from corn stover, and wheat straw. In the Southeast it will be a natural progression to grow switchgrass on some of the hillier, less cultivatible fields. You’re comparing apples, and oranges.

    I imagine it will be awhile before we see any wind turbines in NW Mississip. We don’t tend to be on the cutting edge, you know.

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  89. By rufus on July 7, 2011 at 12:14 am

    I was looking at the Midwest ISO, earlier. You guys need some Solar up there to balance out the lack of wind on these hot, still, summer days.

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  90. By rufus on July 7, 2011 at 1:41 am

    Poet got their DOE Loan Guarantee. Project Liberty

    NY Times Story

    Hat Tip: Sam’s “Energy Ticker”

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  91. By rufus on July 7, 2011 at 1:52 am

    Dupont is doing the same thing at Nevada, Iowa. If these two plants are successful, and, I’ll bet they will be, we’ll have another 4, or 5 Billion Gallons/Yr of Ethanol in 5 years.

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  92. By rufus on July 7, 2011 at 2:07 am

    We are probably using around 400 Billion cu ft of nat gas (imported) to produce our corn ethanol. A cellulosic facility such as this one next to every corn ethanol plant will end our need for that.

    Of course, that’s, also, another 4 Billion or so Gallons of Gasoline that we don’t have to import. Cool.

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  93. By Wendell Mercantile on July 7, 2011 at 10:17 am

    I imagine it will be awhile before we see any wind turbines in NW Mississip. We don’t tend to be on the cutting edge, you know.

    But…but…you said Mississippi has “good wind.” If that’s true, the “wind prospectors” should be flocking to your state. (There really are people called “wind prospectors” — they study maps, historical weather data, and drive around the countryside trying to get a feel for the local zoning laws and whether the local populace would be for or against large utility-scale wind farms — all without divulging their true intentions.)

    Are you obtuse, or just argumentative…

    Neither, it’s just that inquiring minds want to know. For these small county co-op cellulosic/biomass power plants you keep talking about, how big a radius of biomass will it take to support and sustain them, and make them economically viable? Ten miles? Twenty-five miles? Fifty miles?

    I really am curious, do you have any idea how far out one those co-op plants will have to go to gather the biomass they need to keep running twelve months a year?

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  94. By rufus on July 7, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    For my deal to work as I’d like in the Southeast, Wendell, we’ll use “energy grasses.” Switchgrass, Miscanthus, etc. They should average, let’s say, at least 12 Tons/Acre. Or, 800 gal/acre. So, for a 12 Million gpy refinery you would need 15,000 Acres, or an area about 5 miles, squared.

    I could see a lot of cases where you wouldn’t be hauling any biomass more than five to ten miles.

    As for the wind resources in NW Mississippi, all you have to do is look at a wind resource map, if you don’t want to take my word for it. However, if I were in that business, I would be concentrating my energies on more progressive, pro-wind states, right now.

    Why would I mess with Mississippi when wind is well established, and very well supported in states like Iowa, N.D, Mn, Wy, Id, Ca,Tx, etc?

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  95. By Wendell Mercantile on July 7, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    For my deal to work as I’d like in the Southeast, Wendell, we’ll use “energy grasses.” Switchgrass, Miscanthus, etc.

    Have you so soon abandoned the fabled Chinese tallow tree? I had so expected to see vast acres of Chinese tallow trees spread across the Delta. Tallow trees have very colorful foliage in the fall — that could even make Mississippi a tourist mecca in October and November. Your state tourist department could market the fall foliage vistas in combination with the casinos.

    We don’t tend to be on the cutting edge, you know.

    If Mississippi is not a fertile environment for wind development, why would it be any better for your co-op biomass project? Wouldn’t whatever it is that keeps Mississippi from being “cutting edge” — also apply to a large build out of small-scale biomass facilities?

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  96. By rufus on July 7, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Yes, Wendell, it would.

    NOW, for the Breaking News:

    The Deal is Done. Ethanol Tax Credit, and Import Tariff is history as of July 31.

    The source, who is an aide to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said the agreement was reached today between Feinstein and Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and John Thune, R-S.D., to repeal the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit, also known as the blender’s credit, at the current level of 45 cents per gallon and a 54-cents-per-gallon tariff on imported ethanol.

    Compromise Reached

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  97. By Kit P on July 7, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    “I imagine it will be awhile before we see any wind turbines in NW Mississippi.”

    How about never! I have looked at a wind resource map too. Duke Energy, for example, has limited resources to build wind farms. They announced recently a second wind in Kansas. There is always going to be a better place than NW Mississippi.

    “how big a radius of biomass will it take to support and sustain them, and make them economically viable? Ten miles? Twenty-five miles? Fifty miles?”

    I would say 25 miles Wendell assuming that barge transportation.

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  98. By paul-n on July 7, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    The Deal is Done. Ethanol Tax Credit, and Import Tariff is history as of July 31

    Well, hang on a minute there…  Doesn’t that bill still have to be passed by both  the House and the Senate, and then have O approve it?  There is still a possibility for something to derail it – it wouldn’t be the first time…

     

    btw Rufus, 12 dry tons/acre (30t/ha) per year is one very impressive yield – are you sure that is achiveable and long term sustainable?  If the soil and rainfall can produce that much grass, I would hardly call it marginal farmland.  Also, just think how well those Chinese Tallow trees would grow in it, and  much more attractive to look at than just fields of “grass”.

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  99. By rufus on July 7, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    No, it’s a done deal, Paul. Reid’s inserting it into the debt legislation. Everyone’s on board. It was a lengthy negotiation.

    These grasses require different circumstances than food crops, Paul. Their main requirement is warmth, and adequate moisture. Although the preferred growing method is to use some fertilizer the first year, or two, they don’t need much in the way of “nutrients.” I wouldn’t be surprised if the yield in the SE is, actually, a little bit better on average (a whole heck of a lot better in places.)

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  100. By Wendell Mercantile on July 7, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    Rufus~

    I think you’d have trouble getting a loan for a small co-op biomass plant — from even a bank in Mississippi — if your business plan is, “I wouldn’t be surprised if the yield in the SE is, actually, a little bit better on average…”

    I think anyone whom you ask for a large loan, would want you to be sure and have some hard numbers to support your plan. It’s no wonder the “biofuel boys” and their bankers all want Federal loan guarantees.

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  101. By rufus on July 7, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    They’ve gotten 25 Tons in some tests in the SE, Wendell. Some plots in Iowa, and N. Dakota have produced as little as three, or four. Before I tried to promote a plant somewhere I’d probably plant a few acres in the area, and have the local banker go out and count the bales, I imagine.

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  102. By rufus on July 7, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    I’ve said for quite awhile to watch Poet. With 20+ years in the business of making ethanol, building ethanol plants, and operating 26 refineries they’ll probably have about as good a result as anyone. Dupont bears watching as well.

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  103. By Wendell Mercantile on July 7, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    Their main requirement is warmth, and adequate moisture. Although the preferred growing method is to use some fertilizer the first year, or two, they don’t need much in the way of “nutrients.”

    Rufus~

    Sounds like what you’d want as a feedstock is kudzu. As far as I can tell, it doesn’t care what type of soil it grows in, and needs absolutely no nutrients. Ask a Mississippi banker for a loan to turn kudzu into biofuel, and he’d probably start throwing $100 bills at you.

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  104. By rufus on July 7, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    That stuff looks like a bitch to harvest, though. :)

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  105. By paul-n on July 8, 2011 at 12:14 am

    Kudzu is a nitrogen fixer – it actually improves the soil – it is not so good for the other plants though.

     

    When we get into the realm of energy crops, a common issue is the desirable characteristics of the energy crops – hardiness, fast biomass growth, able to out compete weeds, need no nutirents/pesticides etc are precisely the same characteristics of many invasive species – Rufus’ Chinese Tallow Tree being a good example, as is willow, Kudzu, water hyacinth, etc.  Some people even (mistakenly) regard eucalyptus as an invasive species.

    Anyway, if they are able to get 12t/ac/yr, year after year, then power to them.  

    I still think you could probably find a food crop that would grow well in the same conditions.

     

     

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  106. By rufus on July 8, 2011 at 12:27 am

    Keep in mind, Paul, that we still pay farmers NOT to Plant about 30 Million Acres.

    One thing, you can raise a lot of corn (for example) in the Southeast, you just don’t get many kernels. Stalks look great, though. Same with wheat. Nice stalks. Not much grain.

    It’s, usually, the “food” part that requires a lot of growing energy. That’s why you see grasses growing wild all over the place, but, not so much for corn, and wheat.

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  107. By rufus on July 8, 2011 at 12:41 am

    Anyways, we Are lucky in the U.S. (and Canada) in that we have some really low-hanging fruit. We Can increase the mileage of our cars, greatly. In fact, we’re in the process of doing that right now.

    Chevy has 110 Days Supply of Silverados sitting on dealers’ lots right now. Only about 15 days of supply for the Chevy Cruze. The only pickups that are selling are the Ford F-150s with the turbo-six Ecoboost Engine (also, Flexfuel.)

    We’re shipping More Freight than last year with 5% less Diesel by transferring a lot of our freight to Rail. These trends will help get us to the next step (Biofuels.)

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  108. By thomas398 on July 8, 2011 at 6:25 am

    Having grown up in a farming MS family, there is alot of productive land that is not under intensive agricultural use.  Many states would love to have our marginal land. Drive down the major highways and you will see hectacres of pine monocultures broken up by the occasional field of corn, cotton or soybeans. Cleared pine could be replanted with grass if the incentives were there, and provide a nice balance to the timber industry.  I don’t doubt the biomass could be produced–the fuel is another issue.

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  109. By rufus on July 8, 2011 at 10:00 am

    9.2% Unemployment.

    Would have been worse if a couple hundred thousand hadn’t “Left” the Labor Force (gave up looking.)

    The economy started slowing down when gasoline went over $3.25. It hit a brick wall at $3.50.

    It’s Now at $3.60, and heading for $3.75.

    Them’s the facts, Jack.

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  110. By Wendell Mercantile on July 8, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Rufus~

    You had better get on the ball and get some people in Mississippi to work at those small, county co-op cellulosic/biomass plants. When will we see a press conference saying Haley Barbour is headed to Tunica with a silver shovel for your groundbreaking.

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  111. By rufus on July 8, 2011 at 10:24 am

    Haley Barbour is Owned by the oil companies, Wendell.

    I’m just going to sit in the corner, and bitch.

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  112. By rrapier on July 8, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Just breaking news, but the Choren plant that I visited in Germany is declaring bankruptcy: Choren Begins Insolvency Proceedings.

    I will have a post up detailing some of what happened relatively soon.

    RR

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  113. By Frank Weigert on July 12, 2011 at 8:05 am

    Kit P said:

    “The U.S. is still insuring those nuclear plants, right?”

     

    Nuke plants and the rate payers pay the insurance. The federal government sets requirements like it does for many things interstate.

    The nuclear-powered industry regularly spreads disinformation.  One notorious example is that the industry and its rate payers are paying the whole cost of their liability insurance.  This is not true, even if it does appear in Wikipedia.  To dismiss this claim does not require any detailed knowledge of nuclear physics.  It is about politics.  

    If the industry was indeed paying the full costs of its insurance, why is the government involved at all? Why aren’t Republicans demanding that the government get out of this business and let the private liability insurance companies make a profit of insuring the nuclear industry? The answer is that the nuclear-power industry is NOT paying the whole cost of its insurance.  The excess liability is being dumped on the taxpayers through the Price-Anderson Act..  

    The liability insurance companies don’t want anything to do with the nuclear power industry.  The problem is that they do not know how to calculate an appropriate premium.  In mathematical terms, the product of zero times infinity is indeterminate.  In this specific case, very low probability accidents can have enormous consequences.  The product, the premium assigned to that particular risk, cannot be calculated.  In every other industry, low probability accidents do not cause outsized damages.  Not true for nuclear power.  The insurance industry must worry about the once in a thousand year incident in which a radiation leak makes a major city uninhabitable essentially forever.  The radiation from Fukushima spread to the west.  If it had moved south, and a little farther, Tokyo would have been at risk.  What is the cost of rendering Tokyo uninhabitable for the next million years? Or Philadelphia from the Three Mile Island? How can an insurance company pay dividends to its shareholders and a world-class salary to its CEO if it must accumulate premiums to pay for a once in a thousand year event?

    Without this subsidy, the nuclear power industry cannot stay in business in the United States.  To have some fun and watch them squirm, suggest repealing the Price-Anderson Act.

     


     

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  114. By Kit P on July 12, 2011 at 10:18 am

    “The nuclear-powered industry regularly spreads disinformation.  One notorious example is that the industry and its rate payers are paying the whole cost of their liability insurance.  ”

     

    The way I see it Frank is that if you have to talk about liability insurance as an argument against nuclear power you have a weak case.

     

    The fact is that the ratepayers do pay the entire cost and in the history of the program there have been very few claims.

     

    “If the industry was indeed paying the full costs of its insurance, why is the government involved at all? Why aren’t Republicans demanding that the government get out of this business and let the private”

     

    Another tactic of misinformation Frank Ask a question for which there is an obvious answer. The federal government regulates many things about the energy industry.

     

    “The excess liability is being dumped on the taxpayers through the Price-Anderson Act.”

     

    What excess liability? There has never been any excess liability. Not even close. Another tactic of misinformation Frank is to make up some absurd scenario in which there would be excess liability and claim the government would foot the bill. For example,

     

    “Or Philadelphia from the Three Mile Island? ”

     

    Well it did not Frank. But when did they clean up ‘filthydelphia’. Philadelphia used to be a cesspool at the time of TMI. The area around TMI was and is a nice place to raise children

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  115. By russ-finley on July 17, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    Terry is still making hay from his 3 years of fame:

    In November, 2003, Terry Tamminen was appointed Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency.[14] In April, 2004, the California Hydrogen Highway Network was initiated by Governor Schwarzenegger’s Executive Order S-07-04 energy technology.

    As is always the case,  celebritydom begets more celebritydom: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T…..y_Tamminen

    …which allowed him to get a book published about a complex issue that he is obviously not qualified to write about. He has been plugging this goofy idea of converting sewage into hydrogen for many years now and it demonstrates more than anything else his lack of understanding when it comes to the complexity of energy issues.  This book is also an example of why Americans remain so desperately ignorant on the topic as well. There is no law requiring you to know what you are talking about to get a book published. A lot of people will read that book, very few will read this review of it.

     

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