Archive | June 2018

Alarming Privitization discussions

One more example of how what you don’t know is draining your pocketbook.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2018/03/08/feds-consider-privatizing-public-energy-agencies-bpa-and-tva

The power lines in this picture are owned by our country but are among the very lines being discussed in the privatization article.

They carry 100% renewable energy from the huge hydroelectric generators in the Northwest and deliver it to families, farms, and factories at a price that leaves families with some discretionary money, and keeps the farms and factories globally competitive.

We must keep it that way.

BPA Power lines

100% renewable hydroelectric power lines.

Federal ownership of these lines is crucial to our renewable energy future. TVA, BPA, and WAPA were formed to distribute hydroelectrically generated electricity to industry and Rural Electrification Associations. These assets are a legacy created by the federal government to create jobs during the Great Depression.

The very low-cost electricity being provided by these giant hydroelectric dams on the Columbia and Tennessee rivers is one of the key elements that led to the US becoming the world’s dominant industrial economy. No other country could make electricity cheaper than our federally owned, and massive hydroelectric generating plants.

The electricity cost-benefit provided by federal ownership also translates into millions of good-paying American jobs that will remain secure as long as this cheap combustion free electricity is available. That is crucial to the well being of America, and our ability to compete on a global basis.

There is another reason I am so passionate about something that has never been a topic of discussion in any energy forum I’ve ever attended. In fact, it’s something that is only discussed behind closed doors in major investor-owned utilities, and it’s not something they want to see any big dialog around.

Transmission and distribution are is now the sacred lifeline that must replace the evaporating revenue from generation ownership and energy sales.

The end of the Investor Owned Utility business model, as it has operated for decades started looming about 8 years ago. Many thought it wise to invest heavily in renewable energy assets. What no one could really forecast in the turbulent renewable energy transition was that none of the renewable energy portfolios would meet performance expectations.

What they have done is render virtually all of the other core generation assets uncompetitive. This has led to the low profile (no news releases) divestitures of renewable energy portfolios, along with other underperforming assets. This includes relatively new gas generation.

The net effect is that the renewable energy rush has led to a situation where all generating resources are losing money. Renewables, Coal, Gas, Nuclear all losing money.

The only assets that are or can generate net operating profits are hydroelectric, and now, transmission, and the new golden goose, batteries.

This is why the TVA, and BPA transmission and hydroelectric generation facilities may be the most valuable electricity asset portfolios in our country.

I will share some horror stories regarding current investor-owned transmission assets in a following post.

 

©2018 William Ross Williams

 

 

 

The question on Quora re Wind and Solar

“If wind and solar are supposed panacea for the end of oil, why do politicians put wind farms where there is little wind and solar farms where there is little sun?”

There are several reasons why this has been happening, and they have nothing to do with the electricity system that we have been able to absolutely depend on for decades.

This is a result of what I call “Political Power Planning.”

It’s interesting that in 2010, a friend, who had served on the Alberta Utilities Commission, and I took a hard look at the viability of developing a 50-100 MW wind farm in Southern Alberta,

We walked away from pursuing it because, in terms of what Alberta actually needs in order to continue supplying reliable power, there was very little justification for more electricity, and particularly the kind of intermittent electricity that wind power would generate,

However, as the wind generation and solar generation industries picked up more and more political pull, the pragmatic view of what was needed was suddenly being tossed aside across all of Europe and North America, and wind and solar generation have been being installed.
It is an understatement to say that this has been very disruptive, and is causing consumer electricity bills to take a bigger and bigger chunk of every household’s budget.

The will of an extremely misinformed public has been spoken, and since every misinformed consumer is a voter, electricity system planning is now being done from a political view, rather than referencing, true electricity system planning

 

©2018 William Ross Williams

Was it Tesla, Edison or someone else?

The fact is that it took 4 competing investors to end up with the system that has worked so well for the past century plus.

This can actually serve as Electricity 101 for laypeople. This video does not have biased and manipulative information that is carefully designed to keep you thinking in the dark, even though the rooms are lit.

The knowledge in this building block will help you understand the obscure concepts that will allow us to save our planet, and improve the quality of life for all 7.6 billion of earth’s human inhabitants.

 

 

© 2018 William Ross Williams

 

Africa Rising

“Africa might leapfrog straight to cheap renewable electricity and mini-grids.”

http://discovery.economist.com/worldcup/africa-might-leapfrog-straight-to-cheap-renewable-electricity-and-minigrids

I forecast explosive growth. Since India coupled private power with private industry in 1997, the per capita GDP has grown 1000%. From a key resources perspective, Sub Sharan Africa has quite an advantage over 1995 India, and my forecast is based on direct, on the ground, in Africa, observation, and case studies of private power impact in India.

My views on this are as contrarian as my views were in India in 1995, but the case for them is not nearly as vague as we had in India.

IMHO, the reason the renewable electricty system development has stalled in Africa is because it is putting development in the wrong order. Energy development must support the economic development, not try to lead it. Non-existent industry, cannot support power development.

By focusing on creating new economies and aggressively reducing poverty, Africa can rapidly become the most sustainable global economy in history. This is based on case studies, not speculation.

 

Copyright © 2018 William Ross Williams

 

The Sustainability Code

I’ve been focused on what is now called sustainability since we implemented our first sustainable energy facility in Pittsfield, MA in 1990.

Yet, my thinking has been more about action than the discussion of sustainability, and as an epistemological thinker, found that this manner of thought was not particularly welcome in the very lucrative Sustainability Discussion profession. Nonetheless, my emotional, business and intellectual commitment to initiating actions that will lead to a sustainable planet is my identity and reality, and will not stop in this lifetime. Along those lines, I’ve committed to writing a book regarding just how we can achieve sustainability, and preserve our planet, and a title that came to mind was “Sustainability Code.”

A prerequisite to titling a business or publication is to see it the phrase is in use. It is and in the most positive way.

Dr. Mark McElroy, of the University of Groningen in Vermont, published this article in 2006, which is the most thoughtful description of sustainability I have encountered in the decades I’ve spent trying to stimulate sustainability as an action.

http://www.sustainableinnovation.org/The-Sustainability-Code.pdf

I will be using this as a reference as I walk through the Sustainable development goal list, and discuss actionable possibilities, and the barriers to achieving them.

I will be sharing these as they are written

 

 

Copyright© 2018 William Ross Williams

 

 

 

Quora: How is electrical energy used in our daily lives?

I am so glad that you distinguished electrical energy from “energy” in general. Although electrical energy only provides 18% of the energy used in North America, that conversion of energy to work is extremely efficient

Electrical energy is what provides the “work” it takes to manufacture nearly everything. It provides the work of turning your hair dryer fan and heaters.

Our modern world has evolved around the assumption of abundant electricity supplies. Electrical energy can be produced far away and transported by wire to the point of use.

The reason our cities have been habitable so long is because electricity has replaced steam in running machinery. When we were still using steam it was necessary to have big coal or wood boilers onsite to provide the steam to processes that were only 25% efficient and very dirty.

It is important to recognize that, although electricity is now doing the work that steam used to do, it is not replacing the other 80% of our energy use for heat and transportation. In that arena, transportation is the biggest offender and is using more fossil fuels than all of the fossil fuels used to make electricity.

I know it seems like a paradox but electricity is by far the most efficient energy source for the machinery, data, and the zillion other things it provides the energy for, yet it does not and currently cannot be used for the other 80% of the fossil fuels we use for heat and transportation.

I am such a huge advocate of electrifying transportation. That is a double win because we are eliminating the inefficient use of petroleum, and getting the full highly efficient value out of renewable electricity

The EVs can provide the immense amount of electrical storage that renewable energy needs to provide full value. Using renewable electricity to charge the batteries in the EVs will reduce our CO2 emissions at triple the rate they can by trying to replace the reliable energy system that powers our currently electrified economy.

Can solar and wind power keep up with power demand from population, wealth and industrial growth?

The way we are currently using the electricity from wind and solar would never come close. Population, wealth and industrial growth need reliable electricity that will match the schedule of their needs.

No is the correct answer in this moments perception but in the near future, another view will emerge.

The electricity generated by wind and solar PV has zero incremental cost and can be used whenever it is available to “store” as heat, could ultimately start replacing the massive uses of heat that represent the 2/3 of the energy that is not electricity.

Electricity only provides 18% of the energy used in America. Petroleum products dominate the balance. Transportation is the largest category of energy use coming in at triple the energy consumption of all electrical uses. Industrial, commercial and residential heat uses twice the amount of energy consumed as electricity.

My personal advocacy is to start storing all of the produce-able electricity, that does not fit our electricity use patterns, to make and store distributed high-temperature heat, that can then start displacing vastly more carbon than our current electricity use patterns could ever do.

Hypothetically, if we can turn transportation into a massive semi-mobile battery that can be charged by this currently unusable electricity, and store massive amount as heat that can replace consumption, we could find wind and solar providing a much higher contribution to our energy mix than is currently imagined.

Here is the link to this chart https://flowcharts.llnl.gov/commodities/energy   and here is a YouTube video explainingsmaller llnl how to read it  https://youtu.be/G6dlvECRfcI

 

Copyright 2018 William Ross Williams