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On The German 'Energiewende' - Finally One Step Too Far?

Much of this thread is reminiscent of what happens every time the US  EPA puts out a new rule, ala SOx cap and trade- the traditional forces flood the media with claims that such measures spell the death of the economy, will cause skyrocketing utility rates, and bring armagheddon upon us. Of course, none of that every happens.

May 21, 2015    View Comment    

On The German 'Energiewende' - Finally One Step Too Far?

Theseare retail rates, not LCOE. See the last chart in the article.

May 18, 2015    View Comment    

On The German 'Energiewende' - Finally One Step Too Far?

That's what the study dsays- 2 decades, through to 2035. Costs peak in 2020 and slowly decline from there.

May 18, 2015    View Comment    

On The German 'Energiewende' - Finally One Step Too Far?

While short term costs are likely to rise, by 2035, 60% of German power will come from renewables and the rates will be about what they are this year. See: http://worthingtonsawtelle.com/german-electricity-rates-forecasted-to-return-to-2015-levels-by-2035/ 

May 17, 2015    View Comment    

On Can a Nationwide Conversation Ignite a New Era of Nuclear Energy Innovation?

I think many of the questions that will be posed in the workshops have great validity, some of which have loomed large over the industry over its entire commercial life. However, it was just announced that Vogtle will cost at least $7,500/kW and it is very difficult to imagine any of the SMR's, when all the dust settles, being much cheaper than that.  So there is an essential, threshold question that needs to be answered before any consideration of any new eras of commericial nuclear power in the US occur: what can be done to reduced the current capital costs for new nuclear by at least half, or, its corrolary: what is the rationale for customers to pay a very large premium for nuclear generated electricity relative to all of the alternatives?  

March 5, 2015    View Comment    

On Keystone XL Pipeline Opposition: Review of the Major Claims, Relevant Facts, and Most Probable Impacts

Why is the federal government involved? Because our laws require the federal government to weigh in on  interstate pipeline projects.  Are you arguing that Management and Stockholders, especially foreign ones, should be free to do whatever they like?  

Frankly there are plenty of examples of companies operating in the "free market" that get so invested in "significantly uneconomic" projects they don't consider halting it as an option, even though that is the best course of action. It is the commercial equivalent to the kind of psychology that happens in cockpits and control rooms when operators continue down the wrong path, oblivious to the obvious solution.

January 16, 2015    View Comment    

On Keystone XL Pipeline Opposition: Review of the Major Claims, Relevant Facts, and Most Probable Impacts

What about the myth that the pipeline represents an economic business decision?   What might have seemed an economic choice 10 years ago is no longer economic - the ultimate cost of most of the oil to be delivered at the Gulf cannot compete in the global market.  No currently available tar sands oil or bitumen is below breakeven price for Gulf delivery when its discount and transportation costs are considered, even after the subsidization they get from the Canadian government.  The medium and long term breakeven sales price for this oil is extremely likely to exceed world market price.  That means a pipeline that at best is way underutilized and in the extreme not used at all.  See: http://worthingtonsawtelle.com/keystone-xl-run-numbers-bad-business-decision/

Let's face it, if TransCanada were smart it would realize its investment decision is no longer viable, halt this effort and send its oil south over rail when and if it were economic.

So why on earth are US politicians wasting so much time and energy to allow what amounts to a stupid business decision?

January 16, 2015    View Comment    

On Eight Pitfalls in Evaluating Green Energy Solutions

I generally like Gail's analyses, however this one bothered me - it seemed a little too pat. Pitfall 1 would have applied to wood during the period when oil was just emerging or nearly any resource as it was being replaced by another.  3 would not be an issue if conventional, non-emerging resource subsidization, along with renewables subsidization were ended; if not ended the situation is even worse with the non-green technologies. I don't agree with 4 at all, at least given an appropriate time frame. The assumptions inherent in 6 and 7 have been disproved in the European networks. Only 2 and 8 make sense but they are non-sequitors.

November 28, 2014    View Comment    

On Eight Pitfalls in Evaluating Green Energy Solutions

I generally like Gail's analyses, however this one bothered me - it seemed a little too pat. Pitfall 1 would have applied to wood during the period when oil was just emerging or nearly any resource as it was being replaced by another.  3 would not be an issue if conventional, non-emerging resource subsidization, along with renewables subsidization were ended; if not ended the situation is even worse with the non-green technologies. I don't agree with 4 at all, at least given an appropriate time frame. The assumptions inherent in 6 and 7 have been disproved in the European networks. Only 2 and 8 make sense but they are non-sequitors.

November 28, 2014    View Comment    

On Some Lessons Were Learned from TMI, Others Were Not

"Subsidy" is a loaded word, implying more than it should. Convential wisdom defines subsidy as an artificial (and unfair) reduction in the cost of renewables. These "subsidies" simply offset the total costs of energy from that source.  Their "competition" in the market, however, are not costed at their total cost of energy. "Subsidies" would not be necessary if, for example, all tax credits and production incentives were removed from oil and gas; loan guarantees, production credits and Price Anderson support from nuclear; costs of respiratory health treatment and coal miner disease coverage for coal use; and the incremental costs of the military budget for oil protection were all reflected in what an end user pays for those resources.  Let all of those additional costs be reflected in each energy resource and then make policy based on the economics.

April 13, 2014    View Comment    

On Some Lessons Were Learned from TMI, Others Were Not

Just to set the record straight, there were no out of court settlements over health claims at TMI.  The cases that were filed were repudiated by several courts and courts of appeal for lack of evidence. The last appeal was in 1996.  Epidemiology is a tricky science.  For example, the levels of cesium in milk in the area around TMI were significantly higher as a result of fallout from Chinese nuclear testing than from anything that ever emanated from the site. 

April 13, 2014    View Comment    

On Some Lessons Were Learned from TMI, Others Were Not

I'm not celebrating anything.  I'm just mystified that many nuclear advocates seem to forget that this is a business in a marketplace.  What a waste of energy to rail at the ignorance of the public with their overblown perception of risk or attack renewables as if nuclear is being displaced by them.  Public perception is generally pro nuclear and has been for 30 years.  Nuclear plants are certainly not in competition with any renewable resource at the moment (unless and until there is economic grid scale storage) because they are baseload only and therefore only compete with coal and gas, whether in a vertically integrated utility, a generation company or as a merchant plant.  Nuclear plants are not being built because of a poor business case, period.  There is a lot that's bad about the patchwork quilt of how electricity is generated, transmitted and distributed in the US and the regulatory framework in which it exists, but it is what it is - a market that is not conducive to nuclear technology. Nuclear advocates ought to focus on cost issues and articulate why it makes sense to pay a premium for nuclear power.  See http://worthingtonsawtelle.com/where-are-the-smart-nuclear-advocates/ 

April 10, 2014    View Comment