The Future For Electrical Power After Waxman Markey And Kerry Boxer (Part 3)

Posted on Wed 11/04/2009 by



October 2009 Chart

October Chart for U.S. Electrical Power Consumption.

In the earlier 2 posts, I showed how the 2 Bills before Congress, the Waxman Markey Bill, and the Kerry Boxer Bill have the specific aim not to reduce Carbon Dioxide Emissions, but just to impose a new tax on those emissions. Yesterday I showed how this tax, even though you are told is aimed at the coal fired power generating sector, is also felt, and in no small way on the Natural Gas fired power generating sector.

With this post today, I will show you how this tax also applies on the renewable sector of electrical power generation. I feel sure, in fact absolutely positive, that those sponsors of these two Bills, and those who support them will not be telling you this.

The image at left is the current chart for electrical power consumption for the U.S. The chart is from the huge Government site at the Energy Information Administration. This chart is from October Quarter Report and is for the previous 3 months. Click on the image to open it in a new and larger window.

We know that the new tax is aimed directly at the coal fired power sector, and yesterday I showed you how it also targeted two other sectors, that of the Natural Gas sector and also the petroleum based electrical power generating sector. That counts for more than two thirds of the total generation of electrical power.

Let’s then look directly at the sector there that makes up a further 3.9% of the power generation. The chart says ‘Other Energy Sources’, but this sector, when looked at in the data is the renewable power sector, and that is the title given to the sector by the Government.

Take this link and look at the methods of generation that the Government includes in this ‘renewable’ sector. Read the heading. ‘Other Renewables.’

There are 5 methods of power generation. These are Wind, Solar Thermal and Photovoltaic, Wood and Wood-Derived fuels, Geothermal, and Other Biomass.

Those first two are where the concentration is on and these two forms of renewable power are what we are told at interminable length is the path we must be proceeding down.

The total from them both amounts to 46% of that total in that ‘Renewable’ sector, but what is interesting is to compare this with the total power consumed in the U.S. The amount now extrapolates down to 1.5%, the bulk coming from Wind, and the Solar Power percentage comes in at 0.02%, so how long do you perceive it might take before Solar power makes up a large percentage of power, as we are so often told.

However, let’s look at CO2 emissions from this sector.

From the Wood and Wood-Derived products, the amount of power produced is equivalent to the output from three large coal fired power plants. This sector however only produces just more than half the CO2 as from an equivalent coal fired power plant, but the amount of CO2 is still quite substantial at 30 Million tons of CO2 each year.

That’s 30 Million tons of CO2 from this form of Renewable power generation.

Biomass power generation basically uses the methane gas generated from the Biomass, so let’s now work that out.

This Biomass sector produces around the same power as for one large coal fired power plant, and again, the CO2 emission is around half that for a coal fired plant, so the amount of CO2 produces comes in at 10 Million tons.

Now we have a total of 40 Million tons of CO2 from the ‘Renewable’ sector.

You may reasonably think that, well, that really is not right and that renewable power is specifically Wind and Solar, and I just love the way those who support renewable power always seem to be moving the goalposts on their supposedly level playing field, when their own Government specifically labels these methods as ‘Renewable’.

Let’s then look at one form of renewable power, that being Concentrating Solar Power. (Solar Thermal) These we are told are the way of the future, and that these plants actually can supply power on a regular basis. I have explained in numerous earlier posts that this is an outright fallacy. This form uses mirrors focussed onto either a central point or onto tubes at the focal point of the dished mirrors that track the Sun. A compound is either at the focus point on a tower, or passed through the pipes. The intense heat turns the compound molten. This molten compound boils water to steam to drive a turbine which then drives the generator.

As I have also mentioned, these plants will only ever be small, because the steam generated will only ever be enough to drive a small turbine/generator complex. The largest of these could actually produce around 250MW to 280MW, around 12 to 14% of the nameplate power produced from a large coal fired plant. These plants need enormous subsidies from Government, both at the front end construction, and also at the power to grid delivery end. To do this, part of the ‘deal’ is that they supply power to the grid for the full 24 hours. I have also explained in earlier posts that this form of power can still only produce power at varying levels lower than the maximum, depending on the Sunlight available. The molten compound will still be able to boil water after the Sun sets but only for another hour or so at the best, and it takes an hour or more in the morning before it reaches the molten level enough to boil the water. So the absolute best they can do is to provide power for 12 hours in the Summer, and 8 hours at best in Winter.

Concentrating Solar Chart

Image Source - Solar Millennium

The proviso that they supply power for the full 24 hours means that they must also generate power outside those Sun only times, and to do this, the plants have an auxilliary plant to drive the generator and produce the power at all times when the Sun is not providing the power. This plant is a natural gas fired plant.

This simple chart shows exactly the times when that gas turbine will be driving the generator. Click on the image to open it in a new and larger window.

As you can see, this is for a 250MW maximum concentrating solar plant, and the ‘firm’ total has to be 150 MW, and you can see quite easily from the chart that even though the plant loudly proclaims the maximum of 250MW, the best it can do is just a tad above 200MW and that only for 8 hours a day, in the best Sunlight.

However, for 9 hours of every day, and remember, that is the best case scenario, the plant is producing power from the burning of CO2 producing Natural Gas. (Methane) So extrapolating that out, this plant is producing a minimum of 860 tons of CO2 each day.

That may not seem much when compared to the emissions from coal fired power, but I’m willing to bet that those people who support renewable power were not aware of that, and you can bet that those supporters would be taken aback by that figure, as would everyone, having been told that this form of power is emissions free.

That’s 860 tons a day, working out to 314,000 tons a year. Tons. CO2. The Greenhouse gas we are told we need to rid ourselves of by introducing ‘Renewable’ power. That number is based on Summer figures for constant sunny days, so the actual number will be higher, and probably considerably higher.

So, The intent of this new tax to reduce emissions now catches up even the plants that they tell us is the way of the future. There are a number of these plants in the planning stage right now in the U.S. in this mad rush to spend Billions on plants that cannot really do what they actually claim they can.

Another problem with this form of Concentrating Solar power, and this also applies for the other form of Solar power, that being the Photovoltaic sector, is the need for huge amounts of water, this required to keep those hundreds of thousands of mirrors, and solar cells perfectly clean. Two new Concentrating Solar plants are planned for Nevada, again using the Natural Gas backup, again emitting CO2, and subject to the new tax as well.

These plants have hit a snag in that the requirement for the water amounts to 20% of the whole water allocation for the area they are planned for. Here is the link to that story, and read both pages. It’s very interesting indeed.

So, these renewable plants are not really all they are cracked up to be. In fact they are next to downright useless, providing boutique levels of power, using huge amounts of water, and still emitting CO2, and subject to the tax that we are told will decrease emissions.

I fully understand I write posts of a technical nature, and sometimes the data might be a little too much to comprehend, but let me tell you, no one is hearing about this because facts like these really are an inconvenient truth.

Even the Renewable sector is subject to having its CO2 emissions being taxed as well. People will say that the CO2 emissions are minor when compared to the other sectors, especially that for coal, but when the actual figures are shown they actually are quite large indeed.

Who would have thought a Solar Plant would be emitting 860 tons of CO2 on even the best of sunny days, and that the ‘Renewable’ sector could be emitting more than 40 million tons of CO2 each year. Now those numbers really are high, and the tax raised on them is not inconsequential.

So for all you smug people safe in the belief that you are doing something for the environment by using ‘Renewable’ power, well you be careful now, your halo is looking a little slippery right about now.