Thursday, March 16, 2017

Ninth Anniversary of SLB - Musings

Today, 3/16/2017, marks the ninth anniversary of SLB.  Just a short article to mark the occasion. 

The world has certainly changed, in many areas, in the past nine years.   The Obama administration came and went, with all the changes (some good, some not so good) that that brought.  The Trump administration is now in charge, and the results are necessarily not yet in.   The US EPA is certainly in for some changes, as is the US State Department.  Climate change is no longer high on the list of either agency, because the underlying science is too shaky to bet trillions of dollars.  

Nuclear power plants in the US are shutting down and have shut down, almost all for reasons related to economics: their high operating costs and inability to compete.  Natural gas abundance is high and price is low.  More importantly, renewable power from wind turbines is at an all-time low break-even price (4.3 cents per kWh), and solar from PV is not far behind.  Both wind and solar will become even less expensive in the very near future.   The first offshore wind power facility in the US started up just a few months ago.  Future installations will be much more economic.   

 Coal power plants are shutting down in record numbers, primarily because the de-facto environmental exemption they enjoyed for decades was finally brought to an end - Obama did that.   It will be quite interesting to see if President Trump reverses Obama on this, and allows coal plants to keep running.  In any event, the US has only a few years of economically-producible coal in the ground, as SLB articles showed.   Approximately 15-20 years of coal are available at current prices.  

Hawaii, the state, has announced plans to have 100 percent renewable energy within a very few years, which makes great sense for them.  Their conventionally-fired power plants yield a consumer price upwards of 25 cents per kWh.  Renewables with storage can certainly beat that.   Kudos to my Hawaiian associates. 

Grid-scale storage in the mainland US is already a reality, and growing less expensive each year.   Southern California has many MW of battery storage in service, with another 20 MW/80MWh battery under contract from Tesla.  

Climate change science has come under greater and greater scrutiny as the much predicted warming has simply not occurred over the past 20 years.   Some panicked scientists once again change their calculation methods in an attempt to show a warming where none exists.  This refers to the adjusting of sea surface temperature data to try to show a warming trend in the combined air-ocean data.   Meanwhile, the pristine areas where USCRN sites exist show no warming, instead a cooling occurred from 2005 until the 2015-16 El Niño made a temporary warming blip in the data.    The sunspots have virtually disappeared since January 2017, though, which is very early in the sunspot cycle for such to happen.  It will be quite interesting to watch the cooling that is inevitable.   More importantly, it will be quite fun to watch the main-stream climate scientists try to talk (and write) their way out of the box they find themselves in.  

There has been a bit of activity in lawsuits to hold ExxonMobil accountable for some securities violation, in which it is alleged that Exxon knew decades ago that their primary products, petroleum and natural gas, would cause the planet to warm rapidly from the CO2 released in their consumption.   All this is predicated on there actually being a warming that occurred due to CO2 increase from 300 to 400 ppm, parts per million.   SLB has several articles that show the measured warming from 1900 to 1998 is due to at least seven other causes, none of which is CO2.  (increased housing and population density in cities, increased energy use per capita, decreased air pollution, increased local humidity from human activity, changed temperature site conditions from rural to urban, long-term drought, and buildings that create wind-shadows.)

As to water, especially here in the desert Southwest and West, the six-year drought has ended with a big flurry of winter storms - after the El Niño has passed.   The big rains from El Niño fell north of California last year, leaving California mostly dry.  The rains and snow came this year, to the surprise of NOAA scientists.   The present situation in California is a monster snowpack that is ready to melt, and reservoirs full to the brim throughout the state.   Clearly, the state water managers must release huge amounts of precious water into the rivers and the ocean to make room for the meltwater.   Farmers are furious.    I have contended here on SLB that more reservoirs are simply not in the future for California, because more water leads to more population.   California elites want a smaller population, not more people.

My best to all who read SLB, and please remember that every comment is moderated by me.  

Roger E. Sowell, Esq.
Marina del Rey, California
copyright (c) 2017 by Roger Sowell - all rights reserved
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