Monday, February 11, 2019

Musings at 300,000 Views

The internal, Google-based page-view counter for SLB just rolled over 300,000 pageviews on February 10, 2019.  It's just a round number, but it is a milestone of sorts.   

In the past year or so, the topics that appear on SLB have had a few items of interest.  Nuclear power plants are still closing in the US, while 2 of the 4 under construction were abandoned, never to be finished.  The remaining 2 reactors, at Vogtle plant in Georgia, are limping along with years-long delays and ever-escalating costs to construct.  The latest (but certainly not the final ) cost estimate is US $25 Billion, which is approximately $11,000 to $12,000 per kW of nameplate.   As is the usual case, the ratepayers in Georgia get stuck with outrageously costly electricity.   Perhaps one day the people of Georgia will say Enough.   For SLB article on the very high costs to build nuclear plants, see link.

Again in nuclear power, the US government has agreed in principle to construct the first small, modular reactor as designed by NuScale.  see link The reactor is not yet approved for license and construction, but one presumes that will occur in due course.  (see link to article on SLB re the NuScale SMR under review at NRC) At only 50 MWe output, the tiny reactor cannot possibly hope to be economic, but then rational people knew that all along. 

And, the news just today states that infamous TMI, or Three Mile Island nuclear plant (the one that did not melt down) is in jeopardy of shutting down permanently due to losing money.  The appeals for yet more subsidies are under consideration in the Pennsylvania state government chambers.  see link   The argument this time appears to be that nuclear should be given special consideration like wind, solar, and true renewables have, since a nuclear reactor produces no carbon dioxide, CO2, when it operates.   The money-losing nuclear plants cannot compete in the market, and they make that misleading appeal.  The fact is, the nuclear plants are off-line approximately 10 percent of the time, but require massive inflows of electricity during that off-line period to keep cooling pumps running and other parts of the plant operating.  The electricity consumed is from the grid, which produces CO2 according to the mix of coal and natural gas fired plants.   So, nuclear is not carbon-free power; it is actually limited carbon power. 

So much for nuclear.  As stated often on SLB, the technology is too costly and too deadly to be built.    

In the climate change arena, specifically the man-made global warming aspect, we see more of the same from the official IPCC and the false-alarmists.   The rational climate analysts, though, see through the various shenanigans that produce the alarmist conclusions; the constant data adjustments, the making up data, the ignoring data that refutes the warming trend, the inclusion of blatantly wrong data, the splicing together of horribly wrong past data with modern satellite data, and of course many others.  

It is fascinating to witness the gyrations by climate false-alarmists during this very cold and snowy winter of 2018-19, with polar vortex incursions blamed on CO2-warmed air invading the Arctic and displacing the cold air into Canada and the US.   Interesting idea, but one must pause and wonder exactly how the brutally cold winters of 1977-79 (and others) happened, since CO2 was so much lower back then.   SLB has articles on those three winters, with the label Abilene Effect.  As usual, the false-alarmists have no credible explanation for the cold winters then, nor now.  And that was just in the late 1970s.  (see Figure 3 at this link, "Cold Winters Created Global Warming.")

As snow piles up in the Sierra Nevada mountains in early 2019, one considers the record snows of 1952 and 1937 (more than 60 feet of snow fell in each of those years, per Central Sierra Snow Laboratory at University of California, Berkeley).   How, exactly, did those monster storms off the Pacific bring all that moisture into the mountains, when CO2 was even less back then than it was in the late 1970s?    We see the California snow pack, measured in early February this year, is above the long-term average for that date.   Of course, the false-alarmists say that global warming does not mean no snow.   In fact, they say that global warming is supposed to make more snow.   

Another warning from the false-alarmists is the sea surface temperature that is (supposedly) increasing as CO2 beams its warming rays down onto the ocean.  Meanwhile, it is a solid fact that hurricanes cool surface waters, and there are fewer and fewer hurricanes in the Atlantic.   What the false-alarmists fail to discuss is why there is a dearth of hurricanes, when their theory on CO2-induced global warming requires there be more hurricanes, and more intense hurricanes.   As to sea-surface temperatures increasing, one must wonder how the waters immediately along the US coast, from Brownsville around Florida and up the eastern seaboard, are below the long-term average temperature.   Perhaps the explanation will be that CO2 gets a bit confused right at the coastline, and refuses to shine its warming rays down on that bit of water.    Here's an explanation that just makes one laugh (they used this on why lakes are not warming as predicted): the trees on the shoreline shaded the lake.  Maybe the trees on the ocean shore are also shading the coastal waters.   Those will be some mighty big trees. 

And now, a brief plug for a colleague, a PE in chemical engineering, highly experienced and even more highly respected by his associates, colleagues, and clients around the world, Mr. Arthur Krugler.   Art published (in late 2018) his book Polar Bears in the Hot Tub, with his always-interesting views on why the Arctic ice recently declined.  Ocean currents that are heated from below by a long chain of undersea volcanoes, stimulated by earthquake activity, had a lot to do with it.    The book is available on Amazon and other outlets.   

In the political arena, President Trump created a storm of outrage among the false-alarmists with his 2019 State Of The Union speech, by completely ignoring climate change.  The implied message was, We have numerous, serious issues to address, and climate change is simply not one of them.   He addressed many other topics, including peace in Afghanistan, the opioid crisis, health care, illegal immigration and the wall along the US southern border, the booming economy, and socialism has zero place in the USA. 

So much for climate change and false-alarmism, although there is much, much more to be said.  Now to renewable energy. 

In renewable energy and electrical grids, wind turbines are still the stars and growing ever-more economic.  We see ocean-based wind farms with 8 MW turbines, and Vestas announced a 9.5 MW machine.  GE is still working on their double-digit machine, a 12 MW turbine.  These, along with floating-spar mooring systems, are bringing down the cost of electricity from offshore wind.  A project was announced in Asia that will have a profit at 10 cents (US) per kWh sold.   

The Scotland-based Hywind project with floating-spar turbines (6 MW each) has exceeded performance expectations, just as predicted here on SLB.   The floating-spar technology with larger turbines is fully expected to yield sales prices of 4 to 6 cents per kWh within 4 or 5 years.  

An interesting development occurred this past year, for on-shore wind installations.  The US Department of Energy issued a general call for help in solving the transportation problem in that industry.  see link  At present, the roads and railroads are a limit to transporting large turbine blades to the wind farms.  Turbines of 2.5 to 3 MW are the maximum that can be installed until a way is found to transport larger turbine blades.   Perhaps the ideas will result in workable solutions, I suspect the answer will be in blades transported in segments, then assembled on-site.  Perhaps the blade manufacturers can consult with the US Navy about their folding-wing aircraft.   Maybe it is time to rebuild the interstate highway system and design for larger items to be transported.   It is certainly possible to put crossings under the interstate, and eliminate the low-clearance bridges.   It may be cheaper just to make the crossing bridges into draw-bridges.  

Then, there is the high-level hilarity from the rookie Democrat proposal for a Green New Deal, which would eliminate fossil fuel use in the US by 2030, only 11 years away.   That one has much to discuss, and I anticipate an article or two on that on SLB.  

Finally, a word about all-electric vehicles and the profound transformation underway in the global energy industry.   Battery technology has improved and is fully expected to continue to improve, so that pure EV (electric vehicles) are being produced and planned world-wide.  OPEC is in disarray over this, and oil companies now mention Peak Oil Demand in their speeches and on their websites.   It won't be long before the following slogan will be patriotic, 
"Drive An EV, And 
OPEC Can Pound Sand"

With gratitude to all who visit SLB and read and leave a comment, 

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

Topics and general links:

Nuclear Power
Climate  and here
Fresh  and here
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