Friday, April 24, 2009


Base Power

I have good news and bad news. First the bad news: It appears that some sort of tax on fossil, that is, real, energy is all but a lock in Washington, DC, as are the new government approved power systems--solar and wind. Everyone with a scintilla of experience in the business of supplying a nation with electrical power knows that these intermittent sources are not only not the answer, but, like the former government approved power system, ethanol, they are counterproductive in almost every way imaginable. The idea that wind and solar will soon be providing a substantial amount of our power needs is merely a lefty fantasy, but the lefty fantasists are in power now. As our President promised during the campaign, he will make it financially ruinous to build a new coal fired plant. There will be no new nuke plants; and since we're near capacity for hydroelectric, we'll be stuck, for the next two decades, with the two thousand or so serious power plants we now have. OK, what was that good news?

The only way we can mitigate the extreme damage to our economy and our former cushy life styles that the Obama Administration is contemplating (and outsourcing the implementation thereof to allies in the House and Senate) is to build a lot of gas fired turbines to back up the fickle sources of wind and sun. Gas is an expensive way to back up intermittent sources but, and this is finally the good news, we will have plenty of natural gas at relatively low prices. The industry has solved, recently, formerly insurmountable problems with production from 'tight' formations and there will be lots of natural gas available.

I see in about twenty years, after trillions wasted and millions of jobs destroyed, an end to this collective fantasy and finally new nuclear and coal fired power stations being built, while thousands of large concrete towers with no wind generator on them dot the countryside.

In the meantime, if we have have enough collective neurons left, we will build many gas fired electricity generators to back up the waste of time (and money) wind generators and photovoltaic arrays. With some painful advances in energy conservation and increased efficiency, we will barely scrape by with about the same base power we can now provide. That the electricity doesn't flow from photovoltaics when the sun goes down will be a wash because our demand for power is less during the night. The increased need for power as we all get to work in the morning will be supplied by the fantasy power and natural gas and we'll get used to brown outs when it gets real hot and we all turn on our air conditioners. It is a bleak near future, but one we, as a nation. ought to be able to stand, barely.

Then the last of the Warmies will be ignored, as the temperature continues to decline. We'll realize that an increase of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is, nearly universally, only a benefit, and almost all forms of inefficient, intermittant power will be abandoned, at least until all the fossil fuel runs out in several hundred years and we switch to hydrogen.

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