Saturday, June 22, 2019

Offshore Wind Sells Power at €44/MWh

Subtitle:  Wind Industry Will Fly from here on. 

The lowest price, so far, for offshore wind sales may just be the €44/ MWh that was announced this week.  The project, offshore Dunkirk, France, will be 600 MW and employ wind turbines with 12-13 MW capacity each.  Those are the largest at this point in time.   
see link to article describing the project. 

In US currency, that is approximately 5 cents per kWh delivered.   As stated before on SLB, wind has won. 

Future projects will most likely, almost assuredly, use the largest wind turbines available since the economics are overwhelmingly favorable.  They cost less to install per MW, and have better output via higher capacity factors.  Also, there are fewer of the larger turbines, so maintenance costs are lower.  

This is beyond the turning point the industry has long sought:  sales price of 10 cents per kWh.  

From here on, the investments will be heavy into offshore wind.   The prospects for onshore wind are more limited, since a large hurdle is transporting blades to the installation site.  The very large turbine blades for 12 MW wind turbines simply cannot pass under the various bridges.  Of course, the open ocean has no such restrictions.  

It's a good day for the renewable energy industry.  


Sandia National Lab, 50 MW offshore wind turbine concept
Blades are downwind of tower, blades flex in very high winds
to allow continued operation.
 
Update: 6-23-19;  The offshore wind turbines are especially attractive in Europe, where the grid operators typically reduce natural gas-fired power plants as the wind power increases.  That is a savings of very expensive LNG that is vaporized to provide fuel to the power plants.  With LNG selling at $8 to $10 per million Btu, the electric customers should (and perhaps will) see a reduction in electric bills. 

The future is very bright for offshore wind in many areas of the world.  Northern Europe, US East Coast, US West Coast, and the East Coast of Asia are all developing wind projects offshore.   


Floating Spar mooring system, artist's concept
for Hywind, Scotland offshore wind farm
credit: Statoil ASA Environmental Statement
The largest turbines are not yet here, as SLB reported earlier, Sandia National Labs has a design for a 50 MW wind turbine, with flexible blades that bend with the strongest winds.   see link to SLB article, and see link to Sandia publication on the Segmented Ultralight Morphing Rotor.  (see photo at right)

The economics of such a wind turbine will be very attractive.   However, there are engineering issues to resolve with a large weight balanced at the top of a long and slender tower.   I suspect the answer will be, at least in part, a tower that is designed to sway in the wind, like a palm tree.

Another very good possibility is to employ the floating spar mooring technology as the Hywind project in Scotland uses.   The floating spars also sway in the strongest winds.  See this link for the SLB article on the Hywind floating spar wind farm.   -- end update


Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Houston, Texas
copyright (c) 2019 by Roger Sowell - all rights reserved



Topics and general links:


Nuclear Power Plants.......here
Climate Change................here  and here
Fresh Water......................here
Engineering......................here  and here
Free Speech.................... here
Renewable Energy...........here  

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Happy Day - Pilgrim Nuclear Plant Closes Forever

Subtitle: Uneconomic Nuclear Plants Should Close

It is always satisfying to watch predictions one has made come to pass.  I am on record (see link) as stating half of the US nuclear power plants (at least, those still operating) will close in 10 years, with the other half closing in another 10 years.  That works out to roughly 5 reactors per year, on average.   This article is about one that closed just two days ago, the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth, Massachusetts. 
Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant, Plymouth, MA -- photo from NRC


The current quote:  "PLYMOUTH, Mass. (AP) — The Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth has permanently shut down after 47 years of generating electricity, bring to a close the era of nuclear power in Massachusetts.    The final shutdown occurred at 5:28 p.m. Friday (31 May 2019)."  see news article at this link

My prediction from August 4, 2017:  "The essential facts in the US are a great number of nuclear plants will retire; many coal-fired plants will retire, many natural gas plants will be built; and a great number of wind turbine generators will be built.   Within 20 years, almost every one of the 98 nuclear plants in the US will retire.  Half of those will be shut down within 10 years."  (quoting the SLB article  "Offshore Wind Turbine Project – Statoil’s Hywind Scotland; A Positive Viewpoint"   see link)

So, what happened to cause the Pilgrim plant to shut down, nearly 13 years before its operating license expires?  This plant was given the green light by the NRC to extend its operating life beyond the initial 40 years, with a 20 year extension.  Nuclear cheerleaders often claim that nuclear plants run 60 years, yet we have never, ever, seen one operate that long.   The usual circumstances occurred, the same ones that caused other plants to retire early.  Those circumstances are an inability to operate profitably in the modern era with low natural gas prices, and very low renewable (wind especially) electricity.  The news articles are filled with report after report of nuclear plants presenting their bid for future electricity to the grid, and not being competitive.  The reasons, of course, are the high operating costs, even on a cash basis and not including capital charges.   

The nuclear plant owners typically turn to the state governments to plead for yet more subsidies to keep their plants running, and sometimes, those pleas are successful.  And then other times, they fail.  Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant failed to obtain taxpayer subsidies, and it is now closed.  

So, what alternatives to nuclear plant owners have?  Can they invest a few billion to reduce operating costs, perhaps increase power output and produce more income from the same asset?  Those have been tried, sometimes with success and at least one notable and dismal fiasco: the SONGS (San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station near San Diego, CA). The fiasco involved lies to the NRC about the new steam generators (four of them), when the design was very different but the owner lied to the NRC that the design had only minor changes and no need for the costly and lengthy review and approval process.  (The new steam generators, vertical U-tube heat exchangers, had more tubes, tubes with smaller diameters, and a different vibration suppression design).    

The problem Pilgrim had, as I see it, is too few years remaining in which to recover the investment from any effort to increase revenues.  

The same scenario is playing out at the aging, inefficient, high-cost nuclear plants in the US.  Plant after plant is crying to the government for more subsidies (on top of the numerous other subsidies already in place).   As governments see that shutting a nuclear plant has very little impact, if any, on the local economy, the pleas for bailouts will be refused.  

As an aside, no one granted the oil refineries any extensions, no subsidies, no fiscal help at all when nearly half the refineries shut down in the 1980s.  There were thousands and thousands of jobs at stake there, too, just like the nuclear cheerleaders are claiming today as their big reason for more subsidies.   The refineries shut down, nearly 150 of them across the country.  There was a temporary difficulty for the workers, the engineers, and management, but we all survived.   That's the way it is supposed to work in a market economy.  The more efficient weed out the lesser.  

Nuclear plants have had their day in the sunshine.   The sunset is here for many, many of them.  

It is indeed, a  happy day. 


Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Houston, Texas
copyright (c) 2019 by Roger Sowell - all rights reserved



Topics and general links:


Nuclear Power Plants.......here
Climate Change................here  and here
Fresh Water......................here
Engineering......................here  and here
Free Speech.................... here
Renewable Energy...........here  



Friday, April 12, 2019

Gen IV Nuclear Plants - AIChE Presentation

Subtitle: Gen IV Designs Have Too Many Serious Flaws

This article follows the previous article (see link) with my recollections and comments on the nuclear power presentation at the AIChE dinner meeting on 4-11-2019 in Houston, Texas.

The presenter, Dr. Pavel V. Tsvetkov, seemed quite knowledgeable and sincere in his views.  To his credit, he mentioned a few negative points for nuclear energy in general, and specific points to some of the designs he presented.  He did, however, say some things that were either unrealistic, or entirely too optimistic in my view.   And, that is ok; I believe we need optimists in the world, as long as their views are filtered and judged through a sober process that adequately considers safety, costs, and better alternatives. 

The questions in my previous article remained unanswered for the most part, as they were not asked.  A few others in attendance did ask a similar question on the safety, and spent fuel, and plant size or capacity.  But, nothing on subsidies, capacity factor in operation, construction costs, operating costs, or decommissioning costs. 

A few of the presenter's points made me pause and hope that no one ever, ever builds one of these things.  More on that below. 

In no particular order, then, here are some points I recall that seemed true about nuclear energy's drawbacks. 

- The entire fission nuclear process is carbon-free only in the operating reactor portion.  All the other aspects are performed now, and likely in the future, with a large degree of fossil fuel use.   Those other aspects include, but are probably not limited to, uranium mining, uranium ore processing and concentration, uranium fuel preparation and delivery, constructing a plant, decommissioning a plant, and spent fuel cooling, handling and monitoring. 

- Nuclear reactors have some ways to produce electricity other than boiling water or heating a gas, but the engineering challenges are simply too great to spend time on these.  

-  Nuclear plants can be built to follow the grid load, but the costs are greater.  This is a crucial point, because already high costs are increased even more as the plant reduces output to follow the load.  

Next, here are some points the presenter made that are absolutely false, in my experience. 

- Existing nuclear plants will run for 100 years.   No, they won't.  These plants shut down almost always before the 40th year of operation.  The ones that keep running are crying desperately for more government subsidies because they are losing money. 

-  SMR, or small modular reactors of various designs, will be very low-cost.  He stated they will be built in factories just like cars are built.   That is certainly not going to happen, as the need for electrical plants simply is not on the same scale as automobile sales.   Automobile sales are in the millions of units per year.  Power plant sales are in the few hundreds of plants per year.    No economy of production volume will change those economics.   For example, one can calculate that for a 40 year life, replacing only the natural gas and coal-fired plants in the US requires approximately 60 new plants each year.  If these were small enough, say 50 MWe output as envisioned for small modular reactors, we can increase that to 300 plants per year.   That is nowhere close to the millions per year required to achieve economy of scale through increased production volume.  Instead, the economics work against one, as smaller units cost much more per quantity of output. 

- Molten salt reactors, such as molten fluoride with dissolved thorium or uranium, are intrinsically safe.  No, they are not.  He showed a conceptual flow diagram that made me cringe.  The molten, 900 degree C radioactive bath is pumped from the reactor vessel through a heat exchanger, where a heat transfer fluid is heated.   That heat transfer fluid is then pumped through a second heat exchanger, where water is boiled to make steam for a turbine.  The heat transfer fluid is then pumped back around in a loop to the first heat exchanger.   The cringe-worthy aspect is the fact that heat exchangers eventually leak.  There will be heat exchanger fluid flow either into the radioactive molten salt, or the other way round with the molten salt injected into the heat exchanger fluid.  One picks one, or the other by choice of operating pressures in the heat exchanger.  Either way, that is some serious bad news when (not IF) the leaks occur.    As proof, one need only look at the heat exchanger leaks that occur periodically in the existing nuclear reactor fleet; and note soberly that such a leak was what caused the San Onofre Generating Station (SONGS) to shut down permanently.   That was "only" a radioactive steam leak.  

Another serious drawback is the pumping of that radioactive, molten fluoride salt.   Pumps leak, and having that material leak onto the concrete floor is more than a bit troublesome.  There will also be valves in the lines, and valves also leak.  Who wants radioactive, molten fluoride salt dripping from a valve, making a puddle to step in or over?

- Gen IV nuclear plants can be used to produce fresh water via desalination.   No, they won't.  The economics will not allow such a thing.  Even if desalination is ever necessary, solar thermal plants have a huge economic advantage over the incredibly expensive and dangerous nuclear plants. 

- Molten metal Gen IV nuclear plants will operate at high temperatures, therefore high thermal cycle efficiencies, and will be safe.   No, the same issues exist as described above with pumping molten salts: it is extremely difficult and dangerous to pump hot, molten sodium, and the same for hot, molten lead.   Sodium reacts explosively with contact with humid air, and lead fumes cause all manner of brain damage in humans. 

- Gen IV reactors will be ideal for supplying process heat in refineries and petrochemical plants, also chemical plants.   No, they won't.  The inherent dangers in such process plants simply will not be improved by the presence of a nuclear plant, whether for electricity or process heat production.  Instead, having a nuclear plant on the premises will make emergency responses much, much more hazardous.   Unfortunately, refineries and other process plants sometimes have operating upsets, fires, and explosions that require emergency response personnel to enter and handle the problems.   Who wants to speculate on the incredible situation where the plant is on fire, but the nuclear plant is so close to the fire that a radiation release is not only possible, but very likely.   No, thanks.  


There may be more issues to write about and discuss, but here ends the article for today. 

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Houston, Texas
copyright (c) 2019 by Roger Sowell - all rights reserved



Topics and general links:


Nuclear Power Plants.......here
Climate Change................here  and here
Fresh Water......................here
Engineering......................here  and here
Free Speech.................... here
Renewable Energy...........here  



Thursday, April 11, 2019

On Generation IV Nuclear Plants

Subtitle: Safer and Cheaper, or Just Make-Work Projects?

Tonight, 4-11-2019, the South Texas Section of AIChE will have the monthly dinner meeting, at which the presentation will discuss the research and status of Generation IV nuclear power plants.  This topic is the result, most likely, of the mis-guided belief by the current Section leadership that man-made climate change requires non-carbon-based electric power generation.  Therefore, they say, more nuclear plants should be built.  And, since no one can deny that the existing crop of nuclear power plants are far too dangerous and far too costly, they see a need for a new generation of nuclear designs.   This article poses a few questions I would ask, given the opportunity, about these planet-saving Gen IV nuclear power plants. 

What is a Gen IV plant?  These are, according to the NRC, nuclear plant designs that do not use light water as a moderator in the reactor.  At present, the existing plants use boiling water, or high pressure water in the reactor core as neutron moderators.  These have been shown to be far too expensive, as stated above.   The Gen IV plants will use various other things, such as graphite spheres in a high-temperature gas reactor (HTGR), molten fluoride salt in the reactor (MSR), or various molten or liquid metals in the reactor (molten lead, molten sodium, e.g.) .  

The questions, for now, include these:  What is the safety for Gen IV?  Will these plants require subsidies?  What is the on-line  capacity factor, or reliability of Gen IV?  What is the cost to construct?  What is the cost to operate?  What is the cost to decommission?  What are the issues with long-term spent fuel?

Safety

Will Gen IV reactors be safe, so safe that there is no longer an absolute need for the US government to provide damage payments for a catastrophic nuclear incident?  At present, every reactor enjoys such protection under the Price-Anderson Act.  Insurance companies refuse to insure nuclear plants, above a modest amount that is required by federal law.   Will these plants have materials of construction that operate reliably and safely for decade after decade?  We note that molten fluoride salts had serious metal cracking and embrittlement in earlier tests, are there proven alloys today that provide a safe operating system?

Subsidies

Will Gen IV plants require the numerous subsidies that current generation of light water reactors have?  SLB has articles on the numerous subsidies, such as liability for radiation leaks via the Price-Anderson Act, construction loan guarantees, new reactor direct subsidies for the first 10 years of operation, making lawsuits during construction almost impossible, and others.

Capacity Factor

Will Gen IV reactors run at 90 percent output year after year, for 40 years or more?  Will these exotic materials, molten lead, molten sodium, molten fluoride salts, create operating problems that shut the plant down routinely?  Test reactors over the years have had very serious drawbacks with pumping such materials, to name just one. 

Cost to Construct  

Will Gen IV plants be built at a low cost, so they can actually compete in the electricity market?  We see that pressurized water reactors now have an outrageous cost, of $12 billion for a 1000 MWe output.   How can anyone know what the costs to build will be?  The industry has time after time given low-ball initial costs, then see the actual costs balloon to 3, 4, and 5 times that initial cost.   

Cost to Operate

Will Gen IV plants have a low cost to operate, so that they can actually compete in the market?  We see today that plant after plant in the US cannot compete, even on their cash costs.  Current plants are shutting down, or crying to the government for more and more subsidies to keep the plants operating.   

Cost to Decommission

Will Gen IV plants require billions of dollars, and decades of time to decommission when the plants finally close?  Who provides that money?  Will it be a government subsidy, like the light water reactors now enjoy?

 Long-term Issues with Spent Fuel

Will the Gen IV reactors have spent fuel that must be stored, guarded, and cooled for centuries?  What are those radioactive byproducts, and what are the toxicity issues?  What requirements will be made to ensure many generations are safe from deadly radiation from these plants?

These questions will suffice, for now.   I hope to ask a question or two.

UPDATE:  The meeting concluded, my thoughts and comments are on the next post at this link.  end update 4-12-2019


Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Houston, Texas
copyright (c) 2019 by Roger Sowell - all rights reserved



Topics and general links:


Nuclear Power Plants.......here
Climate Change................here  and here
Fresh Water......................here
Engineering......................here  and here
Free Speech.................... here
Renewable Energy...........here  

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Meltdown Message - A Little Humility Needed

Subtitle:  Nuclear Can and Still Does Melt Down

Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant
courtesy Google Maps
Today, March 28, marks forty years to the day since the infamous Three Mile Island nuclear plant melted down in 1979 in Pennsylvania, USA.  It was a sobering reminder of the incredible danger associated with building nuclear power plants.   I remember it well, as a young 

process engineer working in a chemical plant on the Houston Ship Channel.   March 28 was a Tuesday, just another ordinary day, until the word began coming over the radio that a nuclear plant in Pennsylvania was having troubles.   Radiation leak was the phrase. 
As was normal then, and still is today, the nuclear industry was in full protect-thine-own-butt mode, with as little information made public as possible.  And then, only the bare minimum.  Those guys knew then, and know today, full well that their industry hangs on a slender thread.   One screwup, one meltdown, one massive radiation release into the sky or water, and they are done.  

As it turned out, TMI, as it was known, suffered "only" a partial melt-down.   The reactor operators screwed up, and screwed up royally.  They actually turned off a water pump that sent water into the core, and that act let the core overheat and melt down.  Eventually, they started that pump again and sent water into the core, but by then the damage was done.  The nuclear core had melted almost entirely through the reactor vessel's wall.   In their (operators') defense, the plant designers and those who approve the design did not give the operators a way to watch the water level in the reactor core.  They had to infer the water level by watching other measurements.   That was a design error that was changed in other US nuclear plants.  

All of the trouble started when a pump failed to operate.   As I wrote a few years ago in the Truth About Nuclear Power series, part 21:

"TMI (meltdown) was caused by a routine mechanical failure of a pump.  Nobody can claim that a pump failure is a rare event.   The problem at TMI was made much, much worse by a valve that stuck open.  It is inexcusable that nuclear plant designers, operators, and oversight agencies failed to recognize that valves sometimes stick.   The fact that valves sometimes stick in the open position, sometimes closed, and sometimes in-between is well-known to those in the process industries.   This particular valve was a relief valve.  Relief valves are even more prone to sticking open, a fact that is common knowledge.   Yet, as the facts below demonstrate, TMI operators made blunder after blunder because they believed the relief valve closed by itself – they believed it had not stuck open.  

"Nuclear proponents frequently argue that the reason nuclear plants cost so much is due to needless design changes by the NRC during plant construction, and costly retrofits to those plants already in operation.  The argument is invalid.  We would indeed be a stupid society to allow plants to operate with known safety deficiencies such as existed at TMI before the accident.   In fact, if not for the existence of all three required containment systems, deadly nuclear radiation would have spewed all over the northeastern corridor of the United States.   Those three levels of containment are the fuel tube, the reactor vessel, and the containment building.  Ultimately, the fuel tubes failed and melted, the reactor vessel barely contained the melted fuel, and the containment building contained most, but not all, of the gaseous radioactive particles.  


"With the passage of time, more than 3 decades now, TMI has faded into the background.  Yet, the lessons from that incident are serious, and point to what we can expect going forward."    see link to the rest of the TMI meltdown analysis on SLB. 

Fast forward 40 years to today, and we see the nuclear industry still points to the TMI incident as the turning point where the public mood for nuclear turned sour, and costs to build new nuclear plants began to zoom.   Today, a plant cannot be built for less than $10 billion for a 1,000 MWe output.  More typical is $12 billion.  That is approximately 10 to 12 times the price of a natural gas power plant with the same output.   We saw just recently that two new reactors were abandoned, unfinished, as completely out of the question due to construction costs rising and rising.   Two more reactors, these at Vogtle in Georgia, are staggering along, many years late and many $billions over their budget.  Only time will tell if the Vogtle reactors ever get finished, and what the final cost will be.  

In retrospect, nuclear plants seemed appropriate in the 1960s and then the 1970s after the oil price increases during the OPEC oil embargo.  We burned fuel oil then to make electricity, as strange as that sounds today.  Nuclear plants had almost zero fuel cost, we were told back then.  So, scrapping expensive oil as fuel, and building nuclear plants with very cheap fuel might have made sense.   After all, solar and wind power systems were possible, they actually worked, but their costs were outrageously high.   So, we built nuclear plants, approximately 120 of them.  

Today, though, all that has changed.  Wind turbines have declined in cost and improved in output, and the same is true for solar PV systems.  Also, natural gas power plants no longer are limited to the modest efficiency of a steam plant, with the Rankine cycle.  Improvements over the years now make the combined-cycle gas turbine plant much more efficient, at 60 percent.  Low natural gas prices also exist today due to superb innovations in natural gas production that uses precision directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing.  

Because of these things, we no longer have a need for nuclear power plants.   They served their purpose, they had their day.  It is time to retire them and stop building them.  

We note that it is seldom, and perhaps never, that a meltdown occurs in a shutdown nuclear power plant.   We don't need another Three Mile Island meltdown.   We need clean, safe, low-cost wind energy with efficient natural gas plants to accommodate the variations in output.  

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Houston, Texas
copyright (c) 2019 by Roger Sowell - all rights reserved



Topics and general links:

Nuclear Power Plants.......here
Climate Change................here  and here
Fresh Water......................here
Engineering......................here  and here
Free Speech.................... here
Renewable Energy...........here  

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Oil Company Favors Carbon Tax - No Surprise

Subtitle:  Never Interrupt Your Opponent When He's Making A Mistake

In an earlier article posted on SLB, (see link) I stated that oil companies are indeed in favor of a carbon tax, that is, a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, not because they believe the man-made global warming hype, but because they stand to profit by selling more natural gas.  Natural gas emits far less carbon dioxide when burned in comparison to coal,
BP Energy Outlook 2019,
Fair Use exception to US copyright law
especially in electric power generating plants.   It is pure self-interest that drives oil companies to favor a carbon tax, and if the world has gone crazy in the belief that man-made global warming is real, and dangerous, and ceasing emissions of carbon dioxide is needed, then oil companies seize this as an opportunity.  One wonders just how many coal companies also favor a carbon tax. 


Very recently, yesterday in fact, BP, a major oil company went on record and on camera with a review of energy demand for the near future, out to about year 2040.  A major part of their vision, if you will, was having governments collect a carbon tax.  BP stands to benefit, by selling more natural gas.  BP Energy Outlook 2019 is at this link

Some of the major points that BP made in the video are:

1. Favors a carbon tax to replace coal with natural gas
2. Favors subsidies for carbon capture-sequestration, CCS
3. Favors massive energy efficiency investments
4. Favors biofuels for aviation
5. Favors battery-powered transportation, for all but aviation.  This increases electric power generation and sales of natural gas.  

6. Oil will be reduced to non-transportation uses such as petrochemical feed, etc.  (note that these are the more profitable business segments)

The video may be viewed on Twitter at this link.  The interview begins at around 6 minutes 10 seconds into the recording.  

Carbon tax:  BP stated that burning natural gas yields about one-half the carbon dioxide when compared to burning coal in a power plant.  That is rather generous, since the actual comparison is approximately one-third.   My number is based on the gas-powered plant using combined cycle technology, CCGT, with 60 percent efficiency while a coal-fired plant has only 30 percent efficiency.  If the fuels had an equal number of carbon and hydrogen atoms, that would give the one-half figure by BP.  But, coal has more carbon and less hydrogen than natural gas, so the actual comparison is less than one-half, and approximately one-third.   However, natural gas consumption is increasing while coal is decreasing in some areas, without a carbon tax.  UK, for example, has almost zero coal-fired power at this time.  The US has increased natural gas and decreased coal consumption for power generation as pollution laws changed so that coal plants now must invest in pollution abatement equipment.  The plants shut down rather than invest.  Meanwhile, natural gas power plants are booming.  

It is also instructive that Peabody, the major coal company, does not favor a carbon tax.  Instead, Peabody advocates for subsidies for carbon capture technologies, see below.   Also, Peabody's statement on climate change and ways to address it are at this link.

Subsidies for CCS:  BP stated the long-term subsidies for wind and solar power were very effective in making those technologies economic, and wants a similar treatment for CCS technologies.  They refer to it as CCUS, for carbon capture, use, and sequestration.  Presumably, the "use" includes CO2 mineralization such as conversion to sodium bicarbonate for food sales.   At present, there is already a great deal of research into the capture technology, as that is the capital and energy-intensive part.   BP wants more. 

Energy Efficiency Investments:  It is unclear exactly what BP means by this; however we have already seen energy reduction by mandated efficiency for automobiles, the CAFE standards.  Many years ago, the US chemical and refining industries had a mandated energy efficiency improvement that was quite successful.   The problem with energy efficiency in many areas is a diminishing return on the investment.   There are some areas, though, where efficiencies can save more energy; the mandated sale of high-efficiency home appliances is one such area.   It may be a good idea to promote off-peak power consumption for chilled water or ice-and-water storage, then use the stored chilled water the next day for building or home cooling.  This could save fuel when more efficient power plants are running at night, and the least-efficient are running during the peak of the day.  

Biofuels for Aviation:  Bio-jet is similar to bio-diesel in that it handles and burns like jet fuel but is made from renewable feedstocks.   Bio-jet exists and a few test flights have been made. 

Battery-powered Transportation (EVs for cars and trucks):  BP favors these because they increase the demand for electric power.  In BP's vision, the additional electric power will be provided by natural gas, a product which they sell. 

Non-fuel uses for petroleum:  BP discussed single-use plastics, as an environmental problem that should be resolved.  Correctly, BP stated that plastic containers serve a useful purpose and their replacement must be carefully considered else it may be worse. Before plastic (another BP?), containers were typically glass or metal.  Plastic weighs less and therefore less fuel is consumed in the transport of such products in plastic containers.  

Conclusion
BP sees oil demand continuing for many years, perhaps two or three decades as fuel uses diminish, and petrochemicals from oil increase.   Not mentioned were asphalt and lubricating oils.   A reduced demand for oil will extend the life of oil fields, while reducing fuels produced from oil actually increases the profit margins for an integrated oil company. 

All of this has the goal of combating man-made climate change, or so BP says, but one really must wonder how much is simply taking advantage of an opportunity by putting self-interest first and nodding one's head.    Selling more natural gas as power plant fuel, and prolonging the life of oil reserves while making much more profit per barrel, are not bad things to a big oil company.   

If governments are making a mistake in stating that man-made global warming is real and a real danger, (and they are) then BP and other oil companies have figured out ways to make a profit.   That's not a bad thing, actually, since the entire business of mining, transporting, burning, and disposing of the ash from coal has serious and real environmental issues. 


Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Houston, Texas
copyright (c) 2019 by Roger Sowell - all rights reserved



Topics and general links:

Nuclear Power Plants.......here
Climate Change................here  and here
Fresh Water......................here
Engineering......................here  and here
Free Speech.................... here
Renewable Energy...........here  


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Why Climate False-Alarmists Are Completely Wrong

Subtitle: Polar Bears Don't Know They Went Extinct 100,000 Years Ago


photo courtesy of US Fish and Wildlife Service
Climate science must be consistent, if it is to have any credibility.  So, this bears (no pun intended) checking.  The polar bear diverged from brown bears approximately 400,000 years ago per the scientists who study such things, but we are also told that the previous inter-glacial period was 8 degrees C warmer than today's temperature.     The last inter-glacial period was approximately 100,000 years ago. 

Meanwhile, there is much agonizing by the false-alarmists over polar bears' imminent extinction due to a - and get this one, folks - 2 degree C increase in temperature.   They survived a 10,000 year period when the temperature was 8 degrees hotter than today, but now a 2 degree C increase will run them all extinct.   That's their claim.   (as an aside, one must also wonder exactly how coral reefs and sea turtles also survived in such an 8 degree warmer world)

The claim:  "We analyzed 89 complete genomes of polar bear and brown bear using population genomic modeling and show that the species diverged only 479–343 thousand years BP."  - (Shiping Liu et. al. "Population Genomics Reveal Recent Speciation and Rapid Evolutionary Adaptation in Polar Bears,"  Cell 157, 785–794, May 8, 2014)   see link

This claim of divergence approximately 400,000 years ago is disputed, as earlier work showed the divergence might have been a few millions of years ago.  Something about assumptions one uses in the science one employs.   Either way, those polar bears are pretty stout.  

And, where is the claim made that the last inter-glacial period was 8 degrees C warmer compared to today?  From those scientists that study ice cores, in this case the Greenland ice cores.    For that matter, more recent data from ice cores show that the last 15,000 years, the current inter-glacial period also had several periods that were substantially warmer than today.  These include the Medieval Warm Period, Roman Warm Period, Minoan Warm Period, and the even earlier Climate Optimum. 

Yet polar bears and coral reefs are still here.   No tipping points existed back then, where polar ice melted, oceans turned acidic, frozen methane hydrates belched forth their stinking clouds of methane, ocean levels rose by the tens of meters, Florida was a giant reef, Memphis, Tennessee was a seaport while New Orleans was like Atlantis, a fabled underwater city,  and many lovely tropical islands were underwater homes to tropical fish.  

The next time a climate false-alarmist starts proclaiming the end is near, bring these points up and watch what he (or she) does.   I did exactly that at a meeting of Chemical Engineers recently, (see link) and the reaction was, shall we say, less than positive.  


Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Houston, Texas
copyright (c) 2019 by Roger Sowell - all rights reserved



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