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A View from the Altar / Energy
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Category Archives: Energy

Wind and solar power, and how to outrun Usain Bolt

24-Aug-12

Here’s the master plan.  We will put Bolt in shackles and manacles, chain him to a concrete wall, and maybe have him tow a boat trailer.  Then we can all outrun him. That’s the argument advanced in a Bloomberg article today in which the author describes the energy business in America as thriving under the […]

Putting our national head through a natural gas noose

10-Aug-12

Mr. Obama’s administration, true to his campaign threat, is aggressively shutting down the coal industry.  Virtually no new coal-fired power plants are being ordered or built in the United States.  When coal-fired electric power plants are retired at the end of their design life, they’re pretty much all being replaced with natural gas-fired generation. America […]

Might be pure moonshine.

24-Jun-12

It’s been a while since I linked any wisdom from Anthony Watt’s superb weblog Wattsupwiththat.com.  Watts is still at large publishing solid, balanced literature on the subject of weather, climate, and now, reproducing an article on “deniers.”  Next time you hear someone dismissed as a global warming “denier,” think about what a politically loaded term […]

Next round in the Obama/EPA war on American energy

01-Jun-12

Cheap, Cheap Gas Unless you’ve been living under a very remote rock, you know by now that there’s been an actual revolution in natural gas extraction methodology.  The so-called “fracking” technique has made American-produced natural gas so abundant that its price has just about collapsed.  Gas is sold in commercial quantities called “MMBTU” for million […]

Actually, USA is bigger than the “Saudi Arabia of oil”

12-May-12

The General Accounting Office has released a study that includes important information on the Green River Formation, an area of largely untapped oil and gas reserves in the western United States. I’ll cut to the extreme money quote first: Oil shale deposits in the Green River Formation are estimated to contain up to 3 trillion […]

So what’s wrong with just converting everything to natural gas?

07-May-12

Much of the electric utility industry is in the process of stampeding its giant herd to the same side of the boat.  Everybody is converting to natural gas because 1) Gas is cheap right now. 2) Gas plants are easiest to site and build. 3) Gas plants require the fewest personnel to operate. 4) Gas […]

See what I mean?

02-May-12

In a made-to-order illustration of the implacable hostility of the Democrat party toward the energy industry, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has requested a full environmental review of a proposal to export American coal to Asia.  Coal for export would be mined in Wyoming and Montana, shipped by rail across Idaho and Oregon with ultimate destinations […]

Enviro fad with an asterisk

28-Apr-12

The environmentalists are, as you know, fearful that carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants will change the atmosphere in such a way as to heat up the Earth.  Since power plants produce more CO2 than just about any other man-made source, a proposal to remedy this is called “carbon capture and sequestration,” or CCS.  […]

Billion dollar extension cords

16-Mar-12

Comparing these two maps shows one of the biggest obstacles for the wind industry. The best sources of wind power are located far away from consumers. Winds blow here: Power gets consumed where people live. Mostly that’s in the big urban centers. See population density map below. Notice that the most profitable wind areas are […]

Battery guys, keep on chargin’!

29-Feb-12

A company called Envia Systems announced it has built a record-setting lithium-ion battery with an energy storage density of 400 watt-hours per kilogram (Wh/Kg).  A more typical Li-ion battery has about half that density.  Converting this to standard engineering units gives 1.44 megajoules per kilogram (Mj/Kg). Compare the energy content of gasoline.  Published sources say […]

Blokes wising up to follies of wind power

18-Feb-12

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a more passionate denunciation of wind power than the one written by James Delingpole, a self-described “conservative – libertarian” from Britain.  As you’ll see in the link, Delingpole is not sanguine about wind power.  Despite his hands-in-the-air rhetoric, he identifies the same problems with wind power that its […]

Mental deficiency at World Trade Organization

04-Feb-12

Noted in passing: The WTO has issued orders to China about the terms under which they may sell, or not sell, their natural resources. Why this matters.  China owns a controlling proportion of so-called rare earth metals.  Rare earth metals such as neodymium are key to the development of greed gadget energy because they have […]

IBM’s possible EV battery

23-Jan-12

The electric car makers keep on dreaming, bless ’em.  A forecast by Deloitte says they’ll sell a bazillion overpriced golf carts, soon, to “Generation Y” because (I am not making this up) digital dashboards could be user-customized, and Gen-Yers like smart phones in their cars.  Personally, I’m doubtful.  But digital dashboards can be put anywhere, […]

A real money quote

19-Jan-12

I’ve often fumed about everyone in the power business picking natural gas over every other fuel source. The problem is that they’re all running to the same side of the boat. Now, gas is good stuff. It’s way cleaner than coal. Gas fired power plants are far easier to start and stop than either coal […]

Nuclear power still makes financial sense

04-Jan-12

A brief, back-of-envelope estimate of power costs from a new nuclear plant shows why utilities are still interested in building new nuclear capacity.  No, this isn’t a scientific analysis, just a rough estimate to show you it makes sense. Suppose it costs $17 billion to build a new, two-unit nuclear power plant.  And let’s suppose […]