Filed under: Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Economics, Economy, Energy, Free Markets, Global Warming, Junk Science, Media Bias, Politics, Progressivism, Taxes, Technology, The United States | Tags: Abengoa Solar, Institute for Energy Research, The State of Maine, The Tesla Powerwall
Since then the Spanish company has built two American plants, one in Arizona and one in California, which supply electricity to more than 160,000 homes based on the capacity of the solar thermal plants. Remember that “capacity” is what the plants would provide on perfectly sunny days, and ignoring clouds or rain.
It appears that Abengoa got overambitious, and saddled with debt from its expansion, is scrambling to avoid what would be the biggest bankruptcy in Spanish corporate history. Abengoa’s American projects in Gila Bend, Arizona, and Barstow, California, still have around $2 billion in outstanding loans guaranteed by the United States government. The plants were partly financed by $605 million in federal grants and tax credits, besides the federal loan guarantees. The New York Times adds:
“The whole reason Abengoa Solar had to get the guarantee from the government is that no private lender thought the risk was worth it,” the Institute of Energy Research, a prominent renewables critic that has received financing from the oil industry, said in 2011.
Do note the NYT phrasing, and the “oil industry” link doesn’t seem to lead anywhere at all. Abengoa has legal problems as well from shareholders and creditors, with claims of misleading investors, and against individual executives. The company lost $1.3 billion last year and paid employees late.
They’ve also done projects in Central and South America. In 2007 they established the world’s first commercial solar thermal power plant on the outskirts of Seville. That year their stock hit a record high of €7.39 a share. In November, the share price had fallen below 40 euro cents. It’s now hovering around 71 euro cents.
Meanwhile up north in Maine: from Bloomberg:
Despite long winters, a famously foggy coastline and relatively few solar panels in operation, Maine is emerging as a pivotal U.S. state for determining how consumers will pay for power generated by the sun.
U.S. solar installations have boomed more than 10-fold in the past five years, driven in part by a policy known as net metering that requires utilities to pay their customers for extra solar energy from rooftop panels. That’s lowered consumers’ monthly bills, and also cuts into revenue for utilities that still must contend with their own fixed costs — spurring conflict between traditional power companies and solar providers.
The permanent problem with the sun is that sunlight is diffuse. The major greenhouse gas is water vapor, which we recognize as clouds. especially here on the Northwest coast where there is not a speck of blue sky today. Note the lovely photograph of the sun at the top of this post, and — the extensive clouds.
US solar installations have increased by 10-fold in the past five years driven by a federal policy called net metering that requires utilities to pay their customers for extra solar energy from rooftop panels. That has lowered customers’ monthly bills, but the utilities still have their own fixed costs, and it cuts into their revenue.
Maine has proposed replacing net metering with a system that lets utilities sign 20-year contracts with residential solar customers. And instead of paying the retail price, as called for under current policies, utilities would pay rates set by regulators.
Because this is the Twenty First Century, as we are so frequently reminded, the greens are sure there is a technological fix just around the corner, and energy storage will cease to be a problem. But every known rare earth has been tried and found wanting.
Elon Musk’s Tesla Powerwall is meant to be a daily use battery. Tesla has announced prices of $3,000 and $3,500, but that does not include the inverter, and with installation it comes to $7,340. It requires about 7.5 kilowatt hours to charge the Powerwall, providing about 5.4 kilowatt hours of power once charged. The Institute for Energy Research found that it would require a payback period of 38 years which is almost 4 times the warranty period of 10 years for the Powerwall. Even if solar power were used to charge the Powerwall the payback period would be 31 years. The obvious problem is that for home use, we require electricity most when the sun has gone down.
The government’s idea was that by stimulating greater consumer demand with subsidies, production would increase and costs would go down, but in the meantime the industry believes that solar is a complete non-starter unless utilities are forced to pay extremely unrealistic prices for solar energy produced by households with solar panels. It’s not just Maine, even in sunny Nevada solar requires huge subsidies.
Progressives are sure that the government can just order utilities to charge less for their services, much like ObamaCare just assumes that hospitals and doctors can be forced to accept less payment for their services and all will be well. Most of the problems with our frighteningly large national debt and yearly deficits are due to the fact that Progressives just don’t understand the free market at all. They only understand the pursuit of power and an ever-larger government.
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Economics, Energy, Environment, Global Warming, Junk Science, Law, Politics, Progressives, Regulation, Science/Technology, Taxes, Technology, The United States | Tags: California Public Utilities Commission, Ivanpah Solar Project, Pacific Gas and Electric
“Natural” is a ubiquitous word, especially for all things environmental. Wind and solar energy are held in high esteem largely because they are “natural.” Unfortunately, the word doesn’t mean much of anything, you only have to consider its opposite —”unnatural”— to point out how meaningless it is.
But for the environmental movement, natural is a very big deal indeed. We should draw our energy from the wind and the sun, eliminate unnatural chemicals from our diet, stop cutting down trees, save endangered species, but stop putting animals in cages, and stop eating meat. The word “natural” moved right to the top of the advertising buzz-word list.
So it is no surprise that in the panic about Global Warming, which was the next big thing after we stopped panicking about a new ice age in the 1970s, and the threat of a nuclear winter receded, we turned to trying to harness the power of the sun. Sensible people pointed out that the power of the sun was very diffuse, the sun had the habit of sinking below the horizon at night, and there was the problem of cloudy days and clouds on even nice days. But this is America, and the Twenty-First Century, as we are so frequently reminded, and we have technology!
The 2.2 billion Ivanpah solar project in California’s Mojave Desert is definitely high-tech. Those tiny white rectangles in the picture above are more than 170,000 mirrors, each about the size of a garage door, that rotate to follow the path of the sun across the sky. Solar-thermal technology was meant to supersede old-fashioned solar panel farms. The mirrors would reflect the sunlight to the huge “power towers,” enormous pillars to create steam which would generate electricity. It is not only the world’s largest solar project, it is also known as “the world’s largest outdoor bird fryer.”
The facility was built by Bright Source Energy Inc, and operated by NRG Energy Inc. NRG owns the facility along with Bright Source, Google and other investors. When I wrote about Ivanpah last November, they were delivering only 40% of their promised electricity, and they were trying to get a federal grant to pay off their $1.6 billion federal loan.
Now comes news that the Ivanpah solar plant may be forced to shut down. It is not producing the electricity it is contractually required to deliver to PG&E Corp., which says the solar plant may be forced to shut down if they don’t receive a break from state regulators. PG&E is asking the California Public Utilities Commission for permission to overlook the shortfall and give Ivanpah another year to sort out its problems. The extension request is opposed by some consumer groups, who are complaining that the cost of the electricity from the struggling plant is exorbitant. There is no mention in the article of whether or not they got the federal grant to pay off their federal loan. The high-tech power towers just aren’t working as advertised.
The huge array is owned by BrightSource Energy Inc., NRG Energy Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google. Government subsidy is what brings these projects to fruition and what brings investors who expect to be rewarded by the government subsidies. Over and over, across the world, when taxpayer subsidy is removed, the project shuts down.
In neighboring Nevada I had read recently that when Nevada withdrew the state subsidy, Elon Musk pulled out, but I apparently didn’t save the article.When I consulted Google, the headlines from the articles about Elon Musk and SolarCity are so completely fascinating that I couldn’t resist linking to that page. Do scroll down slowly to get the full picture. The federal government has no business using taxpayer money to pick winners and losers in the business marketplace.
California’s one remaining nuclear power plant, Diablo Canyon, produces more than twice as much clean, environmentally friendly electricity than all of California’s solar power installations combined. Environmentalists, of course, are trying to shut it down. (click to enlarge)
(h/t: Steven Hayward@ Powerline)
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Democrat Corruption, Energy, Environment, Global Warming, Junk Science, News the Media Doesn't Want You to Hear, Politics, Progressivism, Regulation, Science/Technology | Tags: "The Pause", A fact of life on Planet Earth, Patrick Moore PhD
“Since time immemorial, our climate has been and will always be changing. Patrick Moore explains why “climate change,” far from being a recent human-caused disaster, is, for a myriad of complex reasons, a fact of life on Planet Earth.”
Some scientists saw global temperatures climbing and noticed that at the same time, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere was climbing. Big Aha! moment. But as scientists keep telling us—correlation does not prove causation.
At the beginning of this delusion, climate scientists were not the leading lights in the faculty lounge, but when governments, accepting the UN’s IPCC as the authoritative source on all things climate, started to try to protect us from catastrophic global warming. suddenly there were grants and attention and new equipment for the labs and they began to be interviewed and became important, and the press wallowed in their authoritative utterances. The grants were all for proving the fact that the globe was warming unnaturally because, of the evildoing of humans for drawing fossil fuels from the bosom of the Earth instead of commuting on bicycles as they should.
It was discovered that the thermometer sites on which readings of national temperatures depended were not accurate at all because some idiots had put them right next to the heat vents from air conditioners or where sunlight reflected off concrete walls increasing temperatures abnormally. Then we had “the Pause” when global temperatures as measured by satellites stopped climbing. And they stopped climbing for over 19 years, yet the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere kept increasing. Causation would seem to have gone out the window, but true believers don’t give up easily, and the recipients of grants and subsidies don’t give up easily either.
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Economics, Economy, Energy, Mexico, Middle East, National Security, Politics, The United States
The price of oil has dived, which is a boon for Americans who are filling up their gas tanks, partly as a result of ‘Fracking,’ and partly because the Saudis have opened the spigot on their oil reserves. For drivers, it’s a wonderful drop in the cost of commuting, and a bit more freedom in the family budget. For oil field workers, it has meant layoffs for many. For investors in oil futures, it’s scary. For many businesses it’s a drop in their costs and a welcome boost in the bottom line.
For the Saudis, it means that Iran loses money on the sale of their oil because their break-even cost is far higher than the current cost of a barrel of oil. The Saudis fear major attacks by ISIS or Iran. The intricacies of Middle East relationships are fascinating but puzzling. Most Middle East countries are composed of tribes with different religions, different histories and different cultures.
Here at home, an article from Bloomberg Business chronicles just how complicated it all is, yet we need to understand. Laredo, Texas is a border town. One hundred and fifteen million people cross into Texas legally from Mexico every year, most of them just on a shopping expedition. By some estimates those shoppers are responsible for one of every two retail dollars spent in Laredo. They buy jeans, smart phones, toys, products that are more costly or not available in Nuevo Laredo. The peso has dropped 26 percent in relation to the dollar.
What’s different this year is that Eagle Ford, one of the big oil fields behind the surge in U.S. oil output in the past half-decade h as slashed production in response to the drop in the price of oil. Many of the storefronts on the downtown’s main commercial drag, and others near the river are boarded up or braced with metal grids over the windows. Silvia Guerra’s popular turquoise-colored crepe satin priced at $8.50 a yard, cost Mexicans 127 pesos last year and is 152 pesos today.
Crude prices have plummeted 70 percent since June 2014, idling oil rigs. All Texas border cities are feeling the pinch, but Laredo’s merchants say business is off 50 percent or more. Laredo has four international bridges, and is the country’s biggest inland port.
Sylvia Guerra’s store has racks of dresses and colorful rolls of fabric, but purchases are rare, and her business is dead. She suspects she will be out of business by May. Her husband has lost his job leasing drilling equipment for Weatherford International Plc. Their daughter is an administrator for Baker Hughes Inc. in San Antonio was told her position is at risk after major layoffs at the oil services company. Their son who supervises fracking operations for C&J Energy Services has seen his paycheck shrink so much he’s looking for an additional part-time job.
It’s just interesting to see how a change in the price of a barrel of oil plays out around the world, and around the country. It’s a lot more complicated than we think.
Today’s price of a gallon of regular gas at the pump, and a year ago:
In Washington State today: $2.09. A year ago, it was $2.82. In California today: $2,45. A year ago, it was $3,94. In Texas today, gas is $1.60, a year ago it averaged $2.25. In Ohio, the average is $1.87, down from $2,38 a year ago. And in Pennsylvania, the average today is $1.91, while a year ago it was 2.60. Being close to a refinery helps, as does having a handy oil field in your backyard. As you can see, it is a significant drop in the family budget, depending on how many miles you drive in a week.
Of course state officials have noticed that you aren’t paying quite so much for gas and see this as a dandy opportunity to raise gas taxes.
Filed under: Capitalism, Crime, Domestic Policy, Economics, Economy, Education, Energy, Health Care, National Security, Police, Taxes, The United States, Unemployment
Andrew Malcolm, who writes at Investor’s Business Daily, posted, “unfiltered, Trump’s remarks from Sunday night at an Alabama rally. No interpretation. No commercial interruptions. No analysis. Just Donald Trump, on the eve of Super Tuesday’s voting, in his very own words. Uncensored.”
“The 69-year-old making the case for why he wants to be president of the United States, commander-in-chief for the next four years. And why other candidates should not become chief executive, or even be allowed to run.
Perhaps reading in his own words how Trump details his positions and policies will help voters evaluate him and other candidates and decide how to vote, this week or later.
Trump takes the stage at a school stadium in Madison:”
This is amazing. Amazing. I could listen to that music all day long, all day long.
Well, I want to thank you. By the way, there’s 3,000 people waiting to get in. Should we start without ‘em? Yes. Yes! That’s amazing. So this is the biggest crowd of the political season by far. We have 30,000 people. 30,000. Amazing. 30,000 people. I just want to thank everybody.
You know, we have a lot of folks in the Huntsville-Madison area, this whole area. Really thriving. You do know that, right? Really thriving. It’s doing well. And you know we’re going to keep that space program going, folks. Gotta keep it going. We’ll be doing a lot cutting. But when it comes to that, I have to tell you, we’re going to be keeping it going.
I want to thank the Benghazi guys, you met ’em, you saw ’em. So incredible. Guts. Courage. They know what happened. Amazing guys. I want to thank Mark and John for being here today. Amazing. Amazing.
The rest is here. Do read the whole thing. Learn about how Mr. Trump plans to deal with our twenty trillion national debt, his plans for dealing with ISIS, with al Qaeda, with the mess in Syria and with the Iran Deal, and Iran’s continuing work on nuclear weapons in spite of the “Deal.” And about the drastic decline in our military readiness, our Navy the size it was in 1915, and the Army the size it was in 1940. Is that adequate to meet the needs of today? And if not, how does he plan to pay for it while also shrinking the debt?
Is he concerned about the Zika virus? What about the felons President Obama has released from prison? What does he plan to do about North Korea and China’s brand new islands in the South China Sea? President Obama has planned to admit large numbers of “Syrian” Refugees, but it is suspected that many of them are actually ISIS fighters, and we have no way to vet them. Attacks on the police are growing because of #Black Lives Matter agitation, how will you handle that? ObamaCare is failing, and insurers are going broke, more and more physicians refuse to deal with ObamaCare patients. It is a program that cannot work, so how do we get government out of the health care business?
Those are just a few of my questions that Mr. Trump did not address in the first 60 minutes of Trump’s full remarks. You undoubtedly have some questions of your own.
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Economics, Economy, Energy, Free Markets, Freedom, Law, Politics, Regulation | Tags: President Barack Obama, The Environmental Protection Agency, The Supreme Court
On Tuesday the Supreme Court issued a stay that blocked the federal government from implementing a series of far-reaching environmental regulations that essentially crippled the entire coal industry. The rules were issued by the Environmental Protection Agency as part of President Obama’s attempt to force America’s energy sector to reduce their carbon emissions to conform to the administration’s demands.
Once again acting on his “presidential authority,” the president was making laws that would close hundreds of coal-fired power plants, because the president believes that CO2 is a pollutant (it is not) and that CO2 is the cause of global warming (it is not). Mr. Obama was trying to set an example for other countries to do the same, to comply with the unenforceable agreement that came out of the Paris Climate Talks—COP21.
Because of a 5-4 majority on the court, nothing will be done to implement those changes until an appeals court can formally rule on a challenge brought by 27 states, and corporate and industry groups against the EPA. What the Supreme Court has done is to restore some sense of accountability to an agency that has attempted to become a legislative body without any authority to do so.
The appellate courts will now have to give the 27 states the opportunity to make their case. The Supreme Court is not just saving the jobs of coal miners and the economy in several states, but calls attention to the rule of law at a time when the president of the United States has come to believe that he doesn’t have to bother with the consent of Congress. He just rewrites the law and dares the critics to stop him.
That stay will remain in effect through the end of Mr. Obama’s presidency, until the Supreme Court has a chance to hear the case—in 2017 at the earliest. The stay sends the strongest possible signal that the court is prepared to strike down the Clean Power Plan on the merits, assuming the next president doesn’t revoke it.
Not since the court blocked President Harry Truman’s seizure of the steel industry has it so severely rebuked a president’s abuse of power. …
In a ruling two years ago the court held that the EPA couldn’t conjure up authority to make “decisions of vast economic and political significance” absent a clear statement from Congress. Thus, the EPA may have the authority to require power plants to operate more efficiently and to install reasonable emissions-reduction technologies. But nothing authorizes the agency to pick winners (solar, wind) and losers (coal) and order generation to be shifted from one to the other, disrupting billion-dollar industries in the process.
The EPA has been rebuked by the courts repeatedly. In January the House joined the Senate in trying to stop another of Obama’s “power grabs” — the EPA’s attempt to seize control of virtually all waterways across the country. The federal government has used the EPA as its proxy and the Clean Water Act to enact its ideas about controlling privately owned land through the regulation of waterways. This year they extended, without congressional input, their authority through the 1972 Clean Water Act.
The Obama administration excused this attempted appropriation as nothing more than an effort to save the nation’s streams, headwaters, creeks and wetlands from “pollution and degradation.” In reality, the EPA simply wanted to expand its command over such near-waterless features as dry creeks, potholes and puddles . Under this regime, private individuals or businesses would need government permission to do anything on their property that is even remotely related to water — such as digging a drainage ditch — giving Washington sweeping powers over private lands.
A federal judge told the EPA last August that they had gone too far, but they just shrugged and said they would enforce the rule in the 37 states that were not part of the lawsuit. “Administrative Law” is one of those innocuous phrases in which the Left excels, like the substitution of “extremist” for “terrorist.” But you must pay attention to the real meaning — which is the substitution of agency regulation and presidential orders or directions or memos for the lawful actions of Congress. As Jonathan Turley, professor of Law at George Washington University said:
“What the president is doing is not one of the dangers
the Framers were concerned about; it is the danger
the Framers were concerned about.”
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Democrat Corruption, Energy, Environment, Foreign Policy, Freedom, Intelligence, Iran, Military, National Security, Politics, Progressivism, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: Big Money for Climate, Climate Change & the Military, Not Much for the Military
This is the time of year when President Obama has to come up with his 2017 budget request. Reports have said that the president is planning to ask Congress for billions and billions more to spend on controlling the uncontrollable natural warming and cooling of the earth.
In his weekly address on Saturday, Obama repeated once again his belief that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time, which he has said repeatedly, at least 22 times, insisting that it ranks higher on the danger list than terrorism, which he plans to defeat with windmills. Last week he proposed a $10 a barrel tax on oil production, since the price of gas at the pump has dropped and you probably won’t notice if it goes right back up.
His formal request is for $5.2 billion for Department of Energy Green programs — like all the ones that have already gone bankrupt like Solyndra. $1.8 billion would go to making green energy storage more economical. DOE would also get $880 million to make green transportation more affordable and push green fuels. The big drop in the price of gasoline is playing hob with the sales of electric cars, which aren’t all that green anyway if you consider where they get the electricity from.
The EPA’s budget is supposed to get a 50% increase, while 20 states are asking the Supreme Court to challenge their climate rule, which the states say “would cause “irreparable harm” were it allowed to be implemented.”
The National Science Foundation would get $512 million to study green energy. and the USDA would get $105 million for “competitive and intramural research funding to support development of bio-based energy sources that range from sustainable and economical forest systems and farm products to increased production of biofuels.”Even HUD gets more money to get more low-carbon energy into residential homes.
Biofuels don’t work, ethanol should be banned, and Obama wants to put more wood products or anything at all that could replace fossil fuels into your gas tanks. He believes that carbon dioxide is a pollutant (which it isn’t) that it is the cause of the tiny rise in the temperature of the Earth over the last century (it isn’t). We need more CO2 in the atmosphere, because it is a natural fertilizer for plants and is greening the world.
The EPA has released a finding that aircraft (except for Air Force One) carbon emissions contribute to climate change. This will be coordinated with “the International Civil-Aviation Organization, a branch of the United Nations, which is drafting a global standard for airline carbon emissions.”
And terrorism? The bigger threat to America’s security is that the military has not made climate change its number one priority.” A new Pentagon directive says that climate change must be a part of all Defense Department “programs, plans and policies.”
A huge new defense climate bureaucracy is being born after years of defense cutbacks. Our Army is the smallest since 1940. The Navy is the smallest since 1915. Willful stupidity. Obama’s former CIA deputy director Mike Morell told PBS’s Charlie Rose “We didn’t go after oil wells…that ISIS controls, because we didn’t want to do environmental damage.” ISIS just cut their fighter’s salaries in half, because of the drop in the price of the oil that supports their activities.
In the meantime, North Korea just conducted a test of a three stage Taepodong that could potentially carry a nuclear weapon to the U.S. just a month after they said they had detonated a hydrogen bomb. Iran is working on a “Mysterious new installation that’s tied to its nuclear weapons program.” Iran is using North Korea to develop their nuclear program and are cooperating on their missile program. North Korea calls it a “satellite launch” which doesn’t fool anybody but Obama.
Investors says: “Closer to home, there have been at least 81 major terrorist threats against the U .S. since 9/11, the most recent just last month, according to the Heritage Foundation.” The administration tries to palm off their passivity with the term “strategic patience.” Obama has always hidden behind a carefully constructed web of clever words. Sometimes it works.