Kyoto Revisited – President Obama’s Pledge For Paris (Part Two)

Posted on Mon 04/20/2015 by



TonyfromOzProfileImageBy Anton Lang ~

Link to Part One of this Two Part Series

How easy is it for a President with less than two years to serve to make a pledge to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions by 28%? How easy is it for him to then strut the International stage in Paris with everyone fawning over him and lauding his pledge? How easy is it to claim that this is his Legacy, when he doesn’t have to actually do anything as the target date is still ten years away, long after he’s out of Office?

How difficult is it for anyone to tell the President what this might mean if this target was to be implemented? How difficult is it for anyone to tell the President what this might mean for the electrical power generation sector, which is the engine for the U.S.? How difficult is it to calculate what this meaningless pledge might actually cost?

Watch now as I build the answers for what it might mean for that electrical power generation engine, and then calculate the cost, just for that electrical power sector alone.

The answers are scary, and that’s probably an understatement.

logocop21-ppalIn the earlier Post, I explained the overall ramifications of what the President’s pledge for the Paris UNFCCC conference later this year to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions by 28% on the 2005 levels meant. I also provided some background on what has already happened with the reductions already achieved, and how much further those reductions need to go. While emissions from the coal fired sector have decreased, this has also caused power generation from that coal fired sector to decrease quite markedly. Nearly all that decrease of power from the coal fired sector has been replaced by an increase in power generated in the Natural Gas (NG) sector. Because of that there has been an increase in emissions from that NG sector. So, overall emissions have only fallen by a little below 10%. When the CO2 emissions from both sectors are calculated, we now find that there still needs to be a further reduction of 22% to achieve the President’s proposed target of an overall 28% reduction in emissions based on that 2005 level. I understand that the percentages are all pretty similar at the moment, and that’s why it’s easier to work with the actual totals for electrical power.


What is needed now is a reduction in coal fired power, but it cannot be replaced by any new Natural Gas Fired plants, in other words, a flat out cut in coal fired power ONLY. If the current already achieved 22% reduction in actual power delivered resulted in an 18% reduction in emissions in that coal fired sector, then, using that same ratio, it would require a cut back in power delivery from that coal fired sector of around 27%. Keep in mind that this is on top of the existing reduction in power already achieved. Now it has to go even further again.

This link shows the total power being generated in that coal fired sector, and here, it is in the left hand column and look at the total for end of year 2013 (second figure from the bottom in that top block of figures) here shown as 1,581,115  and that is in thousand MWH. Forget that during 2014, it actually rose, meaning that the target gets further away with less time to reach it, but a further 27% reduction in that total takes it down to 1,157,134 thousand MWH (73% of the original number) removing almost 425,000 thousand MWH.

Again, figures like this are somewhat meaningless, so now, compare that total removed with the current total generated power, in the column at far right, and for 2013. That is a removal of (same year, 2013) almost 10.5% of total generated power, and note how total generated power is higher now than in the base year 2005, and has been rising for the last three years.

Now, keep that window open and look at this chart below, and this is from another of those EPA documents. This details the total electrical power being consumed across the U.S. While this image is small and not easy to read, if you click on the image, it will open in a new page and it will be larger and easier to read.


Click on the image and it will open on a new page in a larger size for easier viewing.

Note that total consumed power for 2013, and the figure here is 3,831 and while this is expressed here in Billion KWH, it can be compared with the total from the generated power total at the other IEA chart by multiplying the figure in this image by 1000.

So, comparing actual consumed power with actual generated power you can see that there is an excess generated power to what is being consumed, naturally, as there always has to be enough power at the grid to cater for all consumption. That generated power total is 6.13% higher. That percentage for the excess has been virtually constant across all years of power generation and consumption.

So, I mentioned earlier that this reduction in coal fired power amounts to a 10.5% reduction in total power generation, then, if this power is not replaced, consumption will end up being higher than generation, so this power just HAS to be replaced, and keep in mind here that the target year to achieve this is 2025, only ten years from now.

It cannot be replaced from the NG sector, as that will increase emissions.

Some readers might suggest that this reduced power could be replaced from the Nuclear Power sector, and maybe it can. Go now to the open link of power generation from the EIA and note the total power currently being generated from Nuclear sources. That reduction is more than half the total power currently being generated from Nuclear sources, so to replace it you would need to increase the current Nuclear power fleet by more than half, and that comes in at around an extra 27 power plants, each with two reactor/generator units, hence an extra 54 reactors.

In ten years from now.

Good luck with that, as these plants would need to be not only planned, but currently under construction, and there are no plans on the drawing board, or even in thought bubbles for an increase on that scale.

So then, that leaves Wind and Solar, but these methods of power generation cannot generate power on the scale required, power which is currently being provided by coal fired power, a level of power which is available for the full 24 hours of every day.

Now, forget the fact that for years now, I have explained exactly why those current renewables in favour, Wind Power and Solar Power cannot replace coal fired power, but, for the sake of the exercise, let’s actually pretend that they can, because this is now the only source they have to replace that lost power.

What is needed is 425,000 thousand MWH, the proposed cut to coal fired power.

Look at this link, which shows the current power being provided by ALL wind and ALL solar power, those figures shown in the first three columns on the left hand side. For 2013, add together all wind, and both solar power figures, and the total comes in at 178,400 Thousand MWH.

So now, just to replace the power lost from the coal fired sector, you need what is currently existing for the TOTAL from Wind and Solar ….. multiplied by 2.4, and that’s in addition to what is already in existence.

In ten years from now.

Again, good luck with that, as, also, these plants would now need to be at the early construction phase. There’s currently around 40,000 or more wind towers across the U.S. so now we find that we need an extra 100,000 NEW wind towers.

I’ve also often mentioned that it’s not the Nameplate Capacity, the up front total power for the plant, that should be looked at here, but the actual power delivered. So here we have the requirement for an additional 425,000 thousand MWH, so then let’s look at the most obvious replacement here, Wind power, because solar power is so tiny, and will always be that small, as it is far worse at delivering power than even wind is.

The link above for renewables shows (and here I’m using the most recent figures for the 2014 total here) 181,791 thousand MWH and that is currently being delivered by the existing Nameplate Capacity total for wind of 66,000MW.

So then, if 425,000 is required then using the current ratio of power delivered to Nameplate, then what is needed here is a NEW Nameplate Capacity of around 155,000MW.

A (very) large wind plant is around 500MW in Nameplate, and that’s around 200 towers. You may think that a 500MW wind plant isn’t all that large, but there are only around 15 plants of 500MW or greater already in the U.S. So what is needed here is the construction of 310 NEW very large wind plants. 2025 is the target year, ten years from now, so that’s 31 of these new huge wind plants every year or one new plant open, operational, and delivering power every 12 days, and that’s working 7 days a week ….. and that’s doing that constantly for the next ten years.

A large Wind plant of this size comes in at around $2 Billion, so now we are looking at a projected cost of $620 Billion over that ten years or $62 Billion a year. Where is that sort of financial investment going to come from?


I find it absolutely amazing that something like this has not been thought out. It’s great to talk in percentage emissions reduction, but when you apply the figures to it, it’s so far beyond understanding that simple Maths and Engineering can show it to be absurd. Surely the President must ask questions about what something like this means. He can have the EPA draw up a thousand pages of documents which might show the current state of emissions, but unless there is an explanation of what the ramifications are, the whole exercise is pointless.

It all hinges on finding a replacement for that huge amount of lost electrical power generation.

1. They cannot replace it with Natural Gas fired plants, as this only adds to CO2 emissions, and the whole purpose is to reduce them.

2. They cannot be replaced with Nuclear Power. They may construct a few new plants, but here, we are talking in quite large numbers of new plants, and there is no current indications that these numbers are even being considered, let alone planned and in construction.

3. They cannot be replaced with new Hydro plants, as here we are talking again in huge numbers, and again, there are no plans for any new hydro plants on the scale needed here.

4. They cannot be replaced with new wind plants either as the above explanation so graphically showed. True, there will probably be a lot of new wind plants constructed in the upcoming ten years, but nowhere near on the scale required to replace that lost power, and even if they did find the money for it, a monumentally huge amount, wind power cannot provide the same 24/7/365 power that the coal fired plants currently do provide, and that’s what we are talking about here, the replacement of constant and reliable full time power with sporadic and unreliable power which requires constant backup.

5. Note again the current total power consumption across the U.S. on the chart above. They could reduce overall power consumption to make up for the cut in coal fired power, but again, to achieve this, then total power consumption needs to fall back to levels that they were before 1990, so that’s reducing total consumption to levels not seen for more than 30 years, and that most definitely will not happen. Consider here that any reduction in overall power consumption is not just fiddling around at the very tips of the edges with changing light bulbs in homes. This is an overall reduction in power consumption of a huge amount. Most of the electrical power consumption is in the Commerce (37%) and Industry (24%) sectors, while that Residential sector only consumes 38% of all power being consumed. A huge reduction in consumption means the shutting down of large scale Industry and also large scale Commerce as well, and that’s where all the jobs are in America. You just cannot take that away.

Any scenario here is scary in the extreme.

The President can pledge an emissions reduction of 28%. He can proudly say to the gathering at the Paris Conference that this is what the U.S. will be doing, but unless he tells us all how it’s going to be achieved, it’s all meaningless posturing. He can attempt to use what he’s doing as a bargaining chip to show other Nations what the U.S. is doing, and that they should follow his lead, and fawning leaders from other Nations will probably mindlessly follow that lead as well.

All the while, China, India, and many other Nations will still be increasing their emissions, and in the case of China, they will not be reaching their peak emissions until 2030, and will only consider reducing them after that time.

My considered guess is that this target has no chance whatsoever of being achieved, but hey, by 2025, President Obama will have been retired for almost ten years, and what he said at Paris will have been long forgotten by a media who only wants to say only good things about him. They won’t be pointing to this pledge from Paris way back in 2015. It will be long forgotten.

It just won’t get done. That’s all.

That amount of removed power MUST be replaced, and there’s no realistic way of replacing it on a like for like basis. You cannot just reduce consumption on a scale as huge as this.

Industry and Commerce will suffer, and that means jobs, and rising unemployment with no realistic work to go to.

Power prices will definitely go up, and there will be less electricity available. As a result many elderly and poor Americans, the first to suffer in all this, could actually die from either the cold, or from heat stroke, because they will be too scared to turn on the air conditioning or heating, for fear of not being able to pay their electricity bills, or when they have their power disconnected because they could not afford to pay their power bill.

A pledge to reduce emissions is meaningless without a plan to replace the power that is going to be lost here.

Anton Lang uses the screen name of TonyfromOz, and he writes at this site, PA Pundits International on topics related to electrical power generation, from all sources, concentrating mainly on Renewable Power, and how the two most favoured methods of renewable power generation, Wind Power and all versions of Solar Power, fail comprehensively to deliver levels of power required to replace traditional power generation. His Bio is at this link.


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