Why the FiT-All is a burden to consumers

* This is my article in BusinessWorld today.

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Last May 15, Transmission Corp. of the Philippines (Transco) presented at the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) its petition of Feed-in-Tariff Allowance (FiT-All) for 2017 of 26 centavos/kWh. Very fast adjustments from 4.06 centavos/kWh in 2015, rose to 12.40 centavos in 2016, and soon 26 centavos starting mid-2017, all “to save the planet.”

The ERC still has to conduct public hearings in Visayas and Mindanao until early June and likely to make an order by late June, to be reflected in our monthly electricity bills starting July 2017.

The feed-in-tariff (FiT) provision in the Renewable Energy (RE) Act of 2008 (RA 9513) is very anomalous on the following grounds: (1) guaranteed price locked in for 20 years despite technology improving very fast these days, (2) the FiT rates are rising (see table below) yearly due to inflation and forex adjustments, (3) FiT rates of P8+ to P10+ per kWh for wind-solar are way high compared to current Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) average prices of P2-P3/kWh, (4) current capacity installations for wind and solar are higher than what was allotted, and (5) even consumers in Mindanao who are not part of WESM, not connected to the Luzon-Visayas grids, are paying for this.

The total forecast cost revenue of FiT-eligible plants would be (in P Billion): 10.22 in 2012-2015, 18.54 in 2016, 24.44 in 2017, and 26.14 2018. The bulk of this will go to wind and solar plants.

(a) Wind: 6.32 in 2012-2015, 8.00 in 2016, 9.20 in 2017, 9.20 in 2018.
(b) Solar: 1.50 in 2012-2015, 5.88 in 2016, 7.03 in 2017, 7.00 in 2018
(c) Biomass: 1.86 (2012-2015), 3.95 (2016), 6.69 (2017), 6.79 (2018)
Hydro is small, only 1.52 in 2017 and 3.15 in 2018.
(Source: ERC, Case No. 2016-192 RC, Docketed April 27, 2017, Table 4)

Below are the beneficiaries of expensive electricity via FiT scheme by virtue of their hugeness and higher FiT rates.

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Many renewable firms were not able to snatch the limited FiT eligibility but they can still make money from expensive electricity via the renewable portfolio standards (RPS) provision of the RE law. The RPS coerces and forces distribution utilities (DUs) like electric cooperatives and Meralco to purchase a minimum percentage of their electricity supply from these expensive renewables, the price differential with cheaper conventional sources they will pass to the consumers. If DUs will not do this, they will be penalized and the cost of penalty they will still pass on to the consumers.

fitThe government should step back from price intervention and price control, grid prioritization of intermittent and unstable energy sources via legislation. Consumer interest of cheaper and stable electricity should be higher than corporate interest of guaranteed pricing for 20 years, lots of fiscal incentives and other privileges that are marks of cronyism. RA 9513 is anti-consumers, anti-industrialization and hence, it should be abolished soon.

Greenpeace, et al vs. “carbon majors” at the CHR

On September 2015, Greenpeace Southeast Asia + 13 PH-based NGOs, other individuals submitted to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) a “P E T I T I O N, Requesting for Investigation of the Responsibility of the Carbon Majors for Human Rights Violations or Threats of Violations Resulting from the Impacts of Climate Change.”

I read about it only in July 2016 and I wrote on July 30, 2016:
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There’s a new development, unprecedented so far — having the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) — to accuse and harass multinational firms engaged in oil, cement, coal and mining.

From The Guardian last July 27, 2016:
“In a potential landmark legal case, the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHR), a constitutional body with the power to investigate human rights violations, has sent 47 “carbon majors” including Shell, BP, Chevron, BHP Billiton and Anglo American, a 60-page document accusing them of breaching people’s fundamental rights to “life, food, water, sanitation, adequate housing, and to self determination”.

I support the CHR and its Chairman Chito Gascon, a friend, in their fight against extra judicial killings (EJKs), hundreds of these cases so far nationwide since mid-May 2016 alone. Their time and resources can easily be depleted if they go person to person cases, dead or imprisoned. 

But I can not support the CHR in this new climate harassment. 

The first round of climate extortion is by governments of developing countries, demanding $100 B a year from governments of rich countries, under the various UN FCCC annual negotiations. So this is the 2nd round of extortion, NGOs and the Climate Change Commission (CCC) that prodded the CHR ultimately to result in demand for big money from big multinationals as “climate justice.” So whether we have bad El Nino (drought, less rain/no rain) those multinationals should be harassed and they should give money. Or if we have a bad La Nina (lots of rains, lots of flooding) those multinationals should still give money. 

A similar situation would be Mr. X having less money and more money and people say that it is proof that he’s poor, so government should send him more money and other subsidies.

I remember that last January, Chito posted about the CCC-CHR meeting. So it was the CCC that influenced the CHR to launch this HR investigation. The hypothesis “more CO2 emission = more global warming/anthropogenic climate change” is a global and UN-hyped movement. Then later via other schemes, these firms should pay huge amount of money to the “climate victims” like the thousands who died in Tacloban City in November 2013 during typhoon Haiyan (local name “Yolanda”).
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I checked the Greenpeace petition, these are the “carbon majors” that they are suing.

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Notice something? All are private firms, no government- or state-owned oil companies like Saudi Aramco, Rosneft (Russia), Petron/PNOC (Philippines), Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. (ADNOC), China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC), Kuwait Petroleum Corp. (KPC), National Iranian Oil Co., Nigerian National Petroleum Corp., Oil India, Petroleos de Venezuela, etc.? All of these are non-“carbon majors”, maybe “carbon minors”? 🙂

I will meet CHR Commissioner Totsie Cadiz this week and ask about this weird case. Totsie is a friend, he is a rational lawyer, I hope to learn more about this from him.

Al Gore’s proposed $15 trillion carbon tax racket

According to the bible of Al Gore, the UN and other groups/individuals, we should be guilty that we are riding cars, jeepneys, buses, motorcycles, airplanes, boats, other machines that use fossil fuels. We should be riding only cows, horses, bicycles, skateboards other things that do not use fossil fuel. We should be guilty that we have 24/7 electricity mainly from base load coal and natgas power plants. Thus, we should send them more money via carbon tax so that they can “save the planet.” Nice but not-so-brilliant global robbery scheme.
http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/a-fools-errand-al-gores-15-trillion-carbon-tax/article/2622479

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The purpose of a carbon tax is to make cheaper energy, cheaper transpo, cheaper manufacturing, become expensive. National governments, the UN and Al Gore will get the extra money, trillions of $ of money and they will “save the planet”. http://www.carbontax.net.au/category/what-is-the-carbon-tax/

Al Gore, Obama, di Caprio, Richard Branson, etc., they hate fossil-fuel-guzzling airplanes a lot. https://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/04/20/want-a-green-pass-you-fly-your-own-private-jet-heres-how/

Meanwhile, the WB, IMF, ADB, DOF, etc already made a chorus that petroleum is a “public bad” because our use of cars, buses, boats, motorcycles, airplanes are bad for the environment, so they are raising the excise tax of petrol products by P6/liter across the board. Some legislators are not satisfied with this, they want additional tax on petrol products, coal power plants, etc. to get more money to “save the planet.” http://www.philstar.com/science-and-environment/2016/11/10/1642091/carbon-tax-eyed-philippine-polluters

People who are “non-polluters” are those who have zero demand for fossil fuels like petroleum and coal power plants. Like those who live in the caves, those who only ride horses, carabaos, bicycles or just walk/run only. For their trips to far away provinces and countries, they ride flying witches like manananggals that do not use fossil fuels.

The ecological socialists partner with “cap-carbon” capitalists for a multi-trillion dollars robbery of energy consumers. New racket indeed, but it is bound to fail. People hate more expensive energy, more government/UN taxation.

The quest for more stable and cheaper electricity in the ASEAN

* This is my article in BusinessWorld last April 28, 2017.

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High economic growth means high energy demand coming from stable supply and competitively priced energy, not unstable, intermittent, and expensive energy. This is what the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economies need as their high GDP growth of 4.7% in 2016 is projected to improve to 4.8% this year and 5% in 2018 (ADB data), much faster than the projected growth of other regions and economic blocs.

One week before the ASEAN 50th Summit Meeting, the 7th Annual Meeting of the Nuclear Energy Cooperation Sub-Sector Network (NEC-SSN) hosted by the Department of Energy (DoE) was held. A pre-feasibility study showed that many ASEAN countries are in favor of using nuclear energy for commercial use. The ASEAN Center for Energy (ACE) also sees nuclear energy as a long-term power source for the member-countries.

The intensive infrastructure projects of the Duterte administration require huge amount of energy. The proposed 25-km. subway in Metro Manila by the Japan government alone would require high energy supply for the dozens of trains running simultaneously below the ground plus dozens of train stations below and above ground.

Lots of base-load power plants, those that can run 24-7 all year round except when they are on scheduled shut down for maintenance, will be needed. These baseload plants include coal, natural gas, geothermal, and nuclear. Hydro plants too but only during the rainy season.

How reliable and how costly are the different power generation plants that the Philippines and other ASEAN countries will need? This table will help provide the answer as I have not seen data for the ASEAN yet.

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Power reliability is represented by plant capacity factor or actual power output relative to its installed capacity. So unstable, intermittent sources like wind and solar have low capacity factor, not good for manufacturing plants, hotels, hospitals, malls, shops, and houses that require steady electricity supply.

Power cost is represented by the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE), composed of capital expenditures (capex), fixed and regular operation and maintenance (O&M), variable O&M, and transmission investment. CCS means carbon capture and sequestration.

The cost of ancillary services for intermittent sources, the standby power plants if the wind does not blow or if it rains make solar plants temporarily inutile, does not seem to be reflected in the transmission cost though.

ASEAN countries like the Philippines will need those power plants that have (a) high reliability, high capacity factor, (b) low LCOE, and (c) low or zero need for ancillary services.

However, more ASEAN countries are entertaining more solar PV and wind onshore since they were convinced to believe that they need unstable yet expensive electricity to “save the planet.”

During the Energy Policy Development Program (EPDP) lecture last April 20 at the UP School of Economics (UPSE), Ms. Melinda L. Ocampo, president of the Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC) talked about “Electricity Trading and Pricing in the Philippine WESM.” Ms. Ocampo discussed among others, the new management system where the interval for electricity dispatch has been improved from one hour to only five minutes.

I pointed during the open forum that the imposition of the lousy scheme feed-in-tariff (FiT) or more expensive electricity for favored renewables was unleashed even to consumers in Mindanao, which is not part of WESM, and is not connected to the Luzon-Visayas grids. The FiT-Allowance that is reflected in our monthly electricity bill has risen from 4 centavos/kWh in 2015 to 12.40 centavos in 2016 and this year, we should brace for at least 26 centavos/kWh soon because the 23 centavos petition by Transco starting January 2017 has not been acted by the Energy Regulatory Commission yet.

The issue of stable and affordable energy will be tackled in the forthcoming BusinessWorld Economic Forum this May 19, 2017 at Shangri-La BGC. Session 4 “Fuelling Future Growth”of the conference will have the following speakers: John Eric T. Francia, president & CEO of Ayala Corp. (AC) Energy Holdings, Inc.; Antonio R. Moraza, president & COO of Aboitiz Power Corporation; Josephine Gotianun Yap, president of Filinvest Development Corp., and DoE Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi. Yap and Cusi are still to confirm the invite.

Local energy players will have a big role in ensuring that the Philippines should have stable and competitively priced energy supply today and tomorrow.

Developing Asia’s love affair with coal

Energy precedes development, not vice versa. Developing countries cannot sustain growth without cheap and stable energy supply.

I am reposting some recent reports about efforts by many developing Asian countries to grow fast via cheaper energy from coal power. Enjoy.
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“Pakistan’s Water and Power Ministry… investment project with China, it’s committed to spending $15 billion on as many as 12 new coal power plants over the next 15 years…

To anyone who would criticize the move, Piyush Goyal, India’s power minister, had this to say: “India is not a polluter,” he told the Financial Times. “It’s America and the western world that has to first stop polluting.” There’s a grain of truth to that: America and Europe did a lot of coal burning during their development, and now have strong economies to leverage in order to clean up their acts.” – May 3, 2017, https://www.technologyreview.com/s/604323/india-and-pakistans-continued-love-affair-with-coal/

“$54 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which includes spending of about $33 billion on a total of 19 energy projects, including coal-fired and renewable power plants, transmission lines, and other infrastructure.

Combined, the projects will eventually generate 16,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity, which the government says is urgently needed. About three-quarters of the newly generated power will come from coal-powered plants, and the government insists that these will be fitted with the latest technology to reduce pollution and climate-changing emissions.” – May 2, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-pakistan-energy-coal-idUSKBN17Z019

“China’s production of electricity from coal stayed at elevated levels post the northern hemisphere winter after reaching a high of 423.6 billion kWh in December – and the highest level recorded based on available data going back to January 2010.

And electricity production from coal in March 2017 rebounded strongly following the Lunar New Year lull in February, rising 7.7% year on year to 396.1 billion kWh, according to the National Bureau of Statistics data.” – May 2, 2017, http://blogs.platts.com/2017/05/02/china-coal-fired-power-generation-surprises-naysayers/

“India is heavily reliant on coal for its electricity, more than three-quarters of which was generated by its 132 coal-fired power stations in 2014-15, according to the most recent data from the central electricity authority. However, while it is the world’s third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in absolute terms, its per capita emissions are a fraction of many other nations’, at just 1.59 metric tonnes a year, compared with 7.55 for China and 16.39 for the US.” – May 3, 2017, https://www.ft.com/content/18268438-2e3e-11e7-9555-23ef563ecf9a

“A MoneySuperMarket report listed Mozambique, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe as having “the most environmentally friendly people in the world,” while ranking Americans as being some of the least eco-friendly people on the planet. That may not be a bad thing, though, given the greenest countries also tend to be poor and run by authoritarian regimes.” – April 22, 2017, http://dailycaller.com/2017/04/22/worlds-greenest-people-live-in-ridiculously-poor-authoritarian-regimes-graph/

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“America was built on cheap and abundant coal. Fossil fuels powered the U.S. into the industrial age and replaced inefficient windmills and woodburning as the primary sources of electricity. America currently has access to 500 years’ worth of coal — far more than any other nation. Even despite the last decade’s war on coal during the Obama years, the U.S. still derives about one third of our power from coal — second only to natural gas.” – April 17, 2017, https://spectator.org/coals-colossal-comeback/

“China’s fundamental demand for coal and natural gas has improved alongside better-than-expected economic growth in the first quarter,” Tian Miao, an analyst at North Square Blue Oak Ltd. in Beijing, said by phone. “The government’s investment in infrastructure has boosted power consumption while the move to replace coal with gas to fight pollution is also gaining some traction for gas demand.” – April 17, 2017, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-04-17/china-coal-production-rises-as-government-avoids-output-limits

“Coal conversion has become profitable in China because of an unusual combination of low coal prices relative to state-set gas or petrol prices.  Coal-to-liquids projects normally make economic sense only when oil prices are high or supply is limited. The technology was first developed in Nazi Germany, and commercialised in apartheid-era South Africa.” https://www.ft.com/content/02931290-1d94-11e7-a454-ab04428977f9

“despite a huge workforce of almost 400,000 solar workers (about 20 percent of electric power payrolls in 2016), that sector produced an insignificant share, less than 1 percent, of the electric power generated in the United States last year (EIA data here).

coal3In contrast, it took about the same number of natural gas workers (398,235) last year to produce more than one-third of U.S. electric power, or 37 times more electricity than solar’s minuscule share of 0.90 percent. And with only 160,000 coal workers (less than half the number of workers in either solar or gas), that sector produced nearly one-third (almost as much as gas) of U.S. electricity last year.” – May 3, 2017, http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/todays-most-productive-energy-workers-are-in-coal-and-gas-not-solar/article/2622029

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“According to a recent International Energy Agency (IEA) report, Japan’s 600 MW Isogo plant in Yokohama is probably the best in the world. It is an ultra-supercritical HELE plant, with emission levels comparable to a natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) power plant.” — April 18, 2017, https://dddusmma.wordpress.com/2017/04/18/japan-and-china-remarkably-clean-coal/

“The Petra Nova carbon capture system was installed in the W.A. Parish generation station. This is the largest and cleanest fossil fuel generaton station in the United States.” — April 18, 2017, https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/04/18/clean-coal-carbon-capture-and-enhanced-oil-recovery/

India’s “plans to build nearly 370 coal-fired power plants… The construction of 65 gigawatts worth of coal-burning generation with an additional 178 gigawatts in the planning stages would make it nearly impossible for India to meet those climate promises, the researchers say.” — April 25, 2017, https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/04/25/india-wont-be-able-to-meet-paris-climate-agreement-commitments-due-to-expanding-coal-power-plants/

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Two other useful sources here,

  1. http://www.jcoal.or.jp/eng/
  2. GWPF, “THE PARIS AGREEMENT and the Fifth Carbon Budget” by David Campbell, http://www.thegwpf.org/content/uploads/2016/09/Campbell.pdf  (13 pages long)

Bottomline: more environmentalism, more UN, more government renewables cronyism are bad for developing economies that want cheaper energy for them to develop faster and sustain growth.

On the retail competition and open access (RCOA) and EPIRA

* This is my article in BusinessWorld on April 19, 2017.

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Electricity distribution, unlike generation, is defined as a “public utility” and hence, is granted as a monopoly right via congressional franchise. There are more than 120 distribution utilities (DUs) such as Meralco and electric cooperatives.

To dilute this monopoly, the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) which was passed in 2001 came with Section 31, Retail Competition and Open Access (RCOA) that “shall be implemented not later than three (3) years upon the effectivity of this Act,” and Section 29, Supply Sector, “The supply of electricity to the contestable market …” These are useful, anti-monopoly provisions, thanks to EPIRA.

The RCOA was finally implemented 12 years after, on June 26, 2013. The Department of Energy (DoE) and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) issued orders to implement this beautiful provision.

But somewhere along the way, what should be a competitive scheme has become a “mandatory” order.

Some electricity consumers are unhappy because their choice to stay with their DUs — especially if these provide them good service and prices — has been done away with. This is why they went to the Supreme Court (SC) and asked for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the RCOA.

Below is a summary of these orders (one from DoE, four from ERC, and one from the SC).

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The SC TRO has mixed signals. It is good because (a) it stopped the “mandatory migration” to RES by contestable customers (CCs) and thus, they have the option to stay with their DUs or not, and (b) local RES will be allowed again. But it can also be bad because (a) it stopped the voluntary participation of CCs for 750kW (lowered threshold), and (b) some ERC Resolutions suspending earlier prohibitions to Retail Electricity Suppliers (RES) are also removed.

Government prohibitions should be kept to the minimum as much as possible.

These prohibitions would give people — especially those with very low technical and financial capacities — the right to become RES which might invite abuse of CCs.

2017041893842Such prohibitions should not include more RES players, the right of CCs to stay with their DUs or not, and voluntary participation of customers at 750kW.

EPIRA has provided for more customer choices, strengthened consumer empowerment, and demonopolization of electricity generation and distribution. Let this spirit stay in the succeeding orders of the DoE and the ERC.

 

Comparing energy density of solar, wind, nuke, others

I am reposting portions of two papers here published last year, one from WUWT arguing for more nuclear power, one from NTZ arguing against having more wind-solar. Enjoy reading.
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1. From WUWT: Climate Change Won’t Kill You – Having No Electrical Power Will
Guest essay by Tom D. Tamarkin, April 14, 2016

Abstract

AGW or climate change is not the big problem many claim. The perceived scare of AGW has been used by sub-groups in the United Nations to bluff wealthy industrialized nations into transferring money to poor often times corrupt nations. Monies gained from this mechanism have not been invested in the root cause of AGW (if in fact any exists.) At the same time over $1 trillion USD is spent worldwide annually on climate change studies, consultants, related government agencies, and the rapidly growing but totally ineffective green and renewable energy industry. This has also lead to the emergence of the carbon trading brokerage industry. This is based on fraudulent science as CO2 has an extremely small “greenhouse” effect far exceeded by water vapor from the oceans. Only fossil hydrocarbon fuels and nuclear energy can supply material amounts of energy due to their many orders of magnitude higher energy flux densities than so called renewables. Well over half the world’s economically viable recoverable fossil fuels have been consumed while over 3 billion human inhabitants live in “energy poverty:” over 1.5 billion without electricity. Once fossil fuels are depleted beyond the point of economically viable production there is only one energy source available to provide the Earth’s energy needs. That is the conversion of matter into energy as formulated in the equation E=mc2. Man must learn to generate energy based on his knowledge of the laws of physics and the interchangeability of matter into energy. Today we have started with the baby step of nuclear fission. Fission is practical and works today but is unsustainable due to radioactive waste issues. Therefore, we must immediately invest in the experimental understanding of the science leading to the successful demonstration of controlled atomic fusion followed by the R&D needed to commercialize it. Fusion is 100% safe, uses virtually unlimited fuel cycle non-radioactive light element components, and produces no significant radioactive byproducts. In the alternative, man will run out of fossil fuels. AGW is then a 100% moot point because hydrocarbon fuels are not being burned in material quantities. Under these conditions worldwide population will shrink to preindustrial revolution levels of about 10% of today’s population or about 700,000 750 million people worldwide.

Climate change has always been a part of the Earth’s dynamic atmospheric system. During the last 2 billion years the Earth’s climate has alternated between a frigid “Ice House” climate, today’s moderate climate, , and a steaming “Hot House” climate, as in the time of the dinosaurs….

Unfortunately, the potential threat of predicted future climate change has been used to transfer enormous amounts of money from wealthy nations to poor nations [1]. This has enabled the survival instinct mechanisms of the climate change community. That includes governments, consultants, and scientific researchers who simply study the perceived problem and generate academic journal articles and reports. The ineffective green energy solutions manufacturing and service industry also owes their life…and government subsidies…to the climate change scare. No serious money raised by the “climate scare” has been spent on solving the BIG problem.

The BIG problem is the fact that man was provided with about 400 years’ worth of hydrocarbon based fossil fuels which took several hundred million years to be created on Earth. The energy came from the Sun[2]. Integrated over large amounts of geological time, daily Sun energy was converted into chemicals through plant photosynthesis. These chemicals can, in-turn, be ignited to release the stored energy through an oxidation reduction reaction with oxygen [3]. Once they are gone they are gone in human life cycle terms.

 

You cannot power a world estimated to have 9 billion people by 2060 on energy produced from solar cells and wind turbines.

They are not sustainable meaning they cannot create enough energy quickly enough to reproduce themselves (build more) and provide energy to man. The reason is that the amount of energy received from the Sun is far “too dilute” meaning a very small amount of energy is received per square unit of surface area for relatively short periods of time given the day-night cycle and weather conditions [4].

Wind energy is a secondary effect of solar energy because wind is created by the atmosphere’s absorption of the Sun’s thermal energy in combination with the Coriolis force effect [5]. This is based on the rotation of the Earth coupled with atmospheric pressure differences relating to elevation, mountains, and the like [6].

Hydro power from dammed rives is also a secondary effect of solar energy. The movement of water in the Earth’s vast system of rivers occurs because of solar energy. This happens as seawater is evaporated, forms clouds, and ultimately water is released as rain and snow keeping our rivers full and flowing out to sea from higher elevations propelled by gravity. Unlike solar and wind, hydropower can consistently produce material but limited amounts of energy….

Appendix 1

Energy Flux Density Comparisons

Energy density is the amount of energy stored in a given system or region of space per unit volume. Specific energy is the amount of energy stored per unit mass (weight.) Only the useful or extractable energy is measured. It is useful to compare the energy densities of various energy sources. At the top of the list is fusion followed by nuclear fission and then hydrocarbon fuels derived from petroleum, coal and natural gas. At the bottom of the list are batteries which either generate energy or store energy as well as “renewable energy” such as solar….

Comparison of conventional fuel energy density

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Comparison of “renewable” energy density

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1 How much solar power per cubic meter is there? The volume of the space between a one-meter-square patch on Earth and the center of our orbit around the sun is 50 billion cubic meters (the earth is 150 billion meters from the sun, or 4,000 earth circumferences). Dividing the usable 100 watts per square meter by this volume, yields two-billionths of a watt per cubic meter. Sunlight takes about eight minutes(499 seconds) to reach the earth. Multiplying 499 seconds by twenty-six billionths of a W/m3 reveals that solar radiation has an energy density of 1.5 microjoules per cubic meter (1.5 x 10-6 J/m3).

2 The only way to extract thermal energy from the atmosphere is to construct an insulated pipe between it and a reservoir at lower temperature (preferably a much lower one). This is how geothermal heat pumps work. Typical ground temperature is 52F (284 K). On a 90F day, such a system has a peak efficiency of 7%, and a power density of only 0.05 mW/m3 (Stopa and Wojnarowski 2006): typical surface power fluxes for geothermal wells are on the order of 50 mW/m2 and have typical depths of 1 km. To find the energy density, a characteristic time must be included. The time used should be that of the time required for water being pumped into the ground to circulate through the system once. This number is on the order of ten days (Sanjuan et al. 2006). The resulting energy density is 0.05 J/m3, or roughly two to three orders of magnitude lower than wind or waves.

3 Wind is driven by changes in weather patterns, which in turn are driven by thermal gradients. Tides are driven by fluctuations in gravity caused by lunar revolutions. The energy densities of wind and water systems are proportional to the mass, m, moving through them, and the square of the speed, v, of this mass, or ½mv2. At sea level, air with a density of about one kilogram per cubic meter moving at five meters per second (ten miles per hour) has a kinetic energy of 12.5 joules per cubic meter. Applying Betz’s Law, which limits efficiency to 59% (Betz 1926), yields about seven joules per cubic meter. Thus, wind energy on a moderately windy day is over a million times more energy-dense than solar energy.
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2. From No Tricks Zone (NTZ): Analysis: Adding More Solar, Wind Power Increases Dependence On Fossil Fuels, ‘Doubles’ CO2 Emissions
By on 24. November 2016

As the reputed world leader in green energy policy, Germany plans to eliminate nuclear power as an energy source in the next 5 years.

2011 decision to phase out nuclear power by 2022  has meant that renewables like wind and solar power are expected to swiftly take the place of nuclear energy on the German power grid.  The portion of Germany’s power generation from wind and solar (renewables) has indeed risen dramatically in the last 10 years:

Germany-Power-Generation-Source-2015-copy

Dating back to 2000, electricity prices have risen by 80% in Germany, leaving 7 million citizens “energy poor” (meaning that more than 10% of their income has to be spent on heating and electrifying their homes).

Analysis by the European Commission indicates that “nearly 11% of the EU’s population [encompassing 54 million people] are in a situation where they live in  households in which they find themselves unable to heat their homes at an affordable cost,” which may effectively put their lives at risk.   This latter point is not an exaggeration.  In the UK, where heating costs rose 63% between 2009 and 2014, 25% of citizens over 60 are classified as “energy poor”, leaving the elderly population especially vulnerable.  During the frigid winter of 2014, the number of “excess winter deaths” reached 49,260, of which about 14,780  were due to people living in cold homes that they couldn’t afford to heat.

And despite the steep, expensive rise in power generated by renewables since about 2000, Germany still obtained about 44% of its power from coal as of 2014, which is a higher share than in the United States (33% as of 2015).  Hundreds of U.S. coal plants have been shuttered in recent years largely because of a monumental nation-wide shift to natural gas power generation, a cleaner fuel that emits much less CO2 upon combustion than does coal….