Monday, July 28, 2014

Renewables Are "Winning" A Rigged Race

"Green energy" panacea-pushers at The Energy Collective (at least the name clues one in to their collectivist leanings) are hyperventilating again over the seemingly large percentage of new U.S. energy capacity being added by so-called renewables, which mostly means wind and solar. Here's the math in one hand-dandy chart.

But these gains are only impressive when taken out of context.

Renewables only appear to be gaining so much ground because two of their primary (and most potent) energy sector rivals, coal and nuclear power, are effectively dead in the water, thanks to the unfavorable (nay, hostile) political and regulatory climate created by the Obama White House and its Big Green allies. Note the long string of zeros to the right of coal and nuclear power. Renewables are "winning" the Daytona 500 because their rivals are stuck in the pits.  

The long-rumored U.S. nuclear energy revival is nowhere in sight, despite President Obama's "all-of-the-above" campaign rhetoric. And while the shale gas revolution can't be ignored as a contributing factor, knee-jerk opposition from extremists, and the daunting regulatory climate such resistance creates, very likely trumps market conditions as a primary cause. And building new coal-fired power plants isn't any easier, given a wave of EPA carbon mandates (backed up my court rulings) that seem designed to outlaw America's most abundant domestic energy source. Add in all the direct and indirect support and subsidies renewables receive, including mandates that guarantee them a market share, and it's not easy to see why these niche energy technologies appear to be on such a roll.

Force them to compete in an honest and free energy market, in which politicians aren't rigging the game in favor of politically-popular "pets," and the new capacity added by wind and solar would be what it's been for decades -- relatively insignificant, in the grand scheme of things. All these trend lines show is that America's foolish rush down the "green energy" rabbit hole is accelerating, as it abandons the tried and true for pie in the sky.      

Nor does this gloating by "green energy" proponents take into account the quality of the energy being added, though that matters a great deal because not every megawatt is created equal. What counts most in this modern industrial society, which requires and expects on-demand energy, is dispatchability -- the ability of a generating entity to increase or decrease power (at the flip of a switch, ideally, or faster) in response to the ebbs and flows of demand on the grid. This kind of power, sometimes called "base load" or "peaking power," just isn't something intermittent energy generators like wind and solar can dependably provide, making them of marginal utility in the grand scheme of things.

One day, perhaps, the grid won't function as it does today. One day, perhaps, we'll have the ability to store-up intermittent energy and dispatch it on-demand, addressing this deficiency. But until that someday arrives we're stuck with the reality of the grid as it works now, which limits renewables to a niche roll. Therefore, simply touting added capacity, without also examining what kind of capacity is being added, seems like another effort to lead energy illiterates down the primrose path.     

Thursday, July 24, 2014

How About Some Humility?

I admire scientists who can admit to ignorance and uncertainty -- as these do in response to a mysterious pause in solar flaring. It's a truly scientific mindset that's completely lacking among the "climate scientists" constantly beating the alarmist gong, who express a level of cocky confidence in their conclusions that more credible scientists should (but don't) repudiate. 

Despite great strides, we still actually know very little about how and why natural forces work as they do. But nobody ever landed a major government research grant, or made the newspaper, or justified another expansion of government, admitting that the root causes of global climate change remain mysterious.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I'm Baaaaack

After what seems like an eternity, I'm going to resume posting on this dormant but beloved old blog, which I launched after departing a former newspaper job simply to satisfy my addiction to the daily writing routine.

The problem I face now (after "pursuing other interests," as they say) isn't satisfying my writing fix, but shaking-off the rust, and clearing away the cobwebs, that accumulate when you aren't writing regularly. I've found that you can as easily fall out of "writing shape" as you can lose your physical fitness, so this will serve, for now, as a sort of off-the-beaten-track training camp, where I can ease back into the writing habit, and regain what "form" I once had, without public notice.

Why return here?

Why not?

In scanning back through the old posts, I liked some (but not all) of what I saw, so why start from scratch? This comfortable old walking shoe will do just fine as I attempt to regain my footing along the writer's path.    

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Low Volt Nation

The roadkill called the Chevy Volt is what happens when the "wisdom" of planners and social engineers in Washington overrides and overrules the logic of the free market. Shouldn't the lessons it teaches raise red flags everywhere else this sort of top-down, command-and-control approach is being applied, from energy to education to economic policy?

Leave all such decisions to Washington and the entire American economy will turn out just like the Chevy Volt.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Timothy Treadwell Syndrome

Some moderns still retain an instinct for self-preservation. Others apparently do not -- and they think of the natural world as a Disney movie. I have two words for the second class of people: Timothy Treadwell.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Republican Race to the Bottom

If Obama wins re-election -- and I think the chances of that improve daily without a quick winnowing of the Republican field, followed by a refocusing of Republican fire on the real target, rather than eachother -- this overly-drawn-out and acrimonious primary will be to blame.

The media and the Democrats (but I repeat myself) are loving it, but it is bleeding the right of resources and energy and it's "diminishing the brand," as Krauthammer points out. Paul and Gingrich have had as much impact as they are going to have. If they stay longer, it's just a selfish ego trip that assists Obama. Santorum has peaked; his "conservative" credentials are even more iffy than Romney's; he drags the party into a social issues quagmire that will kill it (which is where the media and the liberals want the battle fought); and he just doesn't have the horsepower to win.

Romney isn't ideal but he has been winning, with respectable levels of support from Tea Party people and true conservatives. Doubts about his conservative bona fides and "electability" are being exaggerated and amplified by the horserace-loving media. If the Right tries to make perfect an enemy of the good, it will lose and we'll have four more years of Obama.

Any questions? Send them to Krauthammer.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Vikings and RINOs

This is why Republicans lack credibility on fiscal issues -- something that's coming to haunt them in this presidential year.

Instead of drawing a bold line in the sand against taxpayer-financed pro sports stadiums, and against such acts of extortion by millionaire and billionaire team owners, they meet the free-spenders half way, thereby demonstrating that there's little real difference between the parties. One is always willing to screw the taxpayer, while the other eventually goes along after feigning reluctance.

Then Republicans wonder why consistent conservatives aren't flocking to the banner.