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Posts tagged “electricity usage”

By Elias Hinckley on May 7, 2014 with 16 responses

Texas is the American Leader in Energy – So How Can Its Electricity Markets be Such a Mess?

Texas both produces and consumes more energy than any state in the U.S. It controls one-quarter of U.S. proven oil reserves. Energy companies looking to grow or to establish a U.S. presence set up operations in Texas. The primary electricity transmission system in Texas is independent of the rest of the country (a long-time source of pride). The Electric Reliability Company of Texas, or ERCOT, is responsible for regulating the generation and supply of power to 85% of the state, except the extreme eastern and western portions.


The fundamental challenge of a closed system is that it must meet its own needs, and that has not happened.  There are increasing concerns about rolling blackouts in America’s “energy capital”. NRG Energy reported that by 2016, Texas could experience four rolling blackouts a year, and strongly recommended that the state build more power generation reserves to improve grid reliability. CONTINUE»

By Robert Rapier on Mar 4, 2010 with 57 responses

Electrifying the USPS

I usually scan the energy headlines each morning, but had somehow missed the stories on the recently introduced bills to electrify the U.S. Postal Service fleet:U.S. Postal Service to test a repurposed electric vehicle fleet Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) introduced a bill Friday that would pay for 109,500 electric vehicles, though the cost of that program isn’t known yet. “This, to me, would be a very productive thing and . . . likely to produce jobs and revitalize an industry,” Connolly said. In December, Rep. José E. Serrano (D-N.Y.) announced an “e-Drive” bill that would give $2 billion to the Energy Department and Postal Service to convert 20,000 mail trucks into electric vehicles. I have always liked the idea… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Oct 11, 2009 with no responses

Book Review – Power of the People

I will finish up my long-promised concluding post in the recent series on ethanol and oil imports. I have been traveling for ten days, and inadvertently left all of my graphics for that post on another computer. I am back home now, and will try to tidy it up and post it in the next few days. On the long plane ride back to Hawaii, I read Power of the People: America’s New Electricity Choices. I picked this book up at the 2009 Solar Tour – Pikes Peak Region, which I visited on my trip to Colorado. My new job has me getting more involved in the electricity sector, and I thought this would be a book that would help… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Aug 18, 2009 with no responses

Notes on Energy Efficiency

I arrived in one piece in Hawaii a few days ago, and have been settling in. It is still hard to believe I am here, and I plan to elaborate a bit on why I am here in the near future. In the interim – and because I haven’t posted anything new in a few days – I thought I would call attention to a story in the New York Times from a couple of days ago: Energy Efficiency: Fact or Fiction? You have to be registered to read it (although the Tehran Times has reprinted the first page of the article) but I will paraphrase/excerpt it. The article covers a number of facts and myths around energy efficiency: COMPUTERS… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Aug 8, 2009 with no responses

Running the Electric Grid with eSolar

As I often do on a Saturday morning, I was up early reading through energy headlines. I happened across this story on eSolar: Bill Gross’s Solar Breakthrough “We are producing the lowest cost solar electrons in the history of the world,” Bill Gross is telling me. “Nobody’s ever done it. Nobody’s close.” “We have a cost-effective, no-subsidy solar power solution and it’s for sale, anywhere around the world,” he says. The article was intriguing, and inevitably led me back to eSolar’s website to get a better idea of whether the claims appear to have merit. There, I watched the slide show on the technology, and caught this bit: A single unit generates 46 MW of clean electricity on a footprint… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Aug 7, 2009 with no responses

Britain’s Impending Energy Crisis

In case you missed the story yesterday in the Economist: How long till the lights go out? North Sea gas has served Britain well, but supply peaked in 1999. Since then the flow has fallen by half; by 2015 it will have dropped by two-thirds. By 2015 four of Britain’s ten nuclear stations will have shut and no new ones could be ready for years after that. As for coal, it is fiendishly dirty: Britain will be breaking just about every green promise it has ever made if it is using anything like as much as it does today. Renewable energy sources will help, but even if the wind and waves can be harnessed (and Britain has plenty of both),… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on May 12, 2008 with 13 responses

Replacing Gasoline with Solar Power

Executive Summary If you don’t want to run through the calculations, here is the summary. I attempted a thought experiment in which I calculated whether it would be feasible to use solar power to generate enough energy to offset all U.S. gasoline consumption. My conclusion is that it will take about 444,000 megawatts of electrical generating capacity. Current U.S. generating capacity is over 900,000 megawatts, but there isn’t a whole lot of spare capacity in that number. To generate 444,000 megawatts with solar PV would require just under 1,300 square miles (a 36 mile by 36 mile square) of just PV surface area. To generate that much power with solar thermal – including supporting infrastructure – would require 4,719 square… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Feb 25, 2008 with 3 responses

Running the U.S. on Solar Power

How much land would it take for solar power to satisfy the electricity demands of the U.S.? I made some attempts to calculate this before, but a recent story may enable me to calculate some more reliable numbers if the solar is provided via solar thermal power: Solar Power Heats Up: Another Plant Planned for Southwest Two bits caught my eye: Abengoa Solar, a subsidiary of a similarly named technology company based in Seville, Spain, and Arizona Public Service on Thursday announced plans to build a 280-megawatt solar thermal power plant about 70 miles southwest of Phoenix. So we know the planned capacity of the solar thermal plant. In case you are unfamiliar with solar thermal: Solano will use parabolic… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Jan 8, 2008 with no responses

Guest Essay on Energy Independence

I am still traveling for a few days, and will be back in Scotland on January 13th. One of the e-mails I received while I was traveling was a guest submission. The author wrote: Mr. Rapier After reading a bit of your blog, I am sending this to you in the spirit of promoting a lively debate. Please find attached a practical approach to achieving energy independence. It is a construction project rather than a research project. It does require some tinkering with the market; however, the energy market is not a free market today and the governments setting the price of oil are either overtly or covertly hostile to our interests. The plan is simple and for the most… Continue»

By Robert Rapier on Nov 22, 2007 with no responses

Britain Defers Coal Plant

Coal-based power has had a rough run lately: Coal power plant decision deferred A decision on whether to build Britain’s first coal-fired power station in more than 20 years has been deferred to a later date. Energy giant E.on UK sought permission from Medway Council to replace existing coal-fired units at Kingsnorth power station in Medway, Kent. E.on UK says the £1 billion investment to build two new cleaner coal units would produce power from coal more efficiently and more cleanly than ever before in the UK. The units would produce enough energy to supply about 1.5 million homes and lead to a cut in carbon emissions of almost two million tons a year, E.on UK says. However, more than… Continue»