Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The EIA Foresees Failure in Fight Against Climate Change

Mathematician Mary Hutzler, is an important voice in energy forecasting. Before she left the Energy Information Agency in 2004, Mary had served as both the acting administrator and deputy administrator of the agency. She was also the director of the EIA’s Office of Integrated Analysis and Forecasting. After 25 years with the agency, Mary in 2004 moved to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTSas where she served as the Associate Director of Statistical Programs). While at the BTS Mary served for 6 months as its Acting Director. During Mary's career at the EIA, she planned, directed, and managed all mid- and long-term analysis and forecasting at EIA, as well as the production of EIA’s annual forecasting publications. Hutzler oversaw development of the National Energy Modeling System, for which she received a Presidential Rank Award in 1999. Thus Mary Hutzler was for many years one of the top, if not the top energy analyst for the United States government.

Mary is thus uniquely qualified to analyze, and report EIA data. She gas just posted her analysis of the latest EIA 2035 energy forecast. Mary's conclusions are extremely sobering. We are loosing the war against AGW. Mary reports that the EIA's 2010 assessment indicates American carbon dioxide emissions will grow over the next 25 years. Hutzler states,
The agency expects liquid fuels and other petroleum demand to be up almost 10 percent by 2035, natural gas demand up by almost 7 percent, and coal demand up by 12 percent, all from 2008 levels.
She notes
Even with large gains in renewable capacity, fossil fuels will still dominate our energy landscape by 2035 to fuel the country’s economic growth expected to increase at 2.4 percent per year. Energy consumption is expected to increase by 14 percent by 2035 with large percentage increases in renewable fuels, but far larger absolute quantity increases in fossil fuels, making them the dominate source of energy for the foreseeable future. Carbon dioxide emissions will therefore continue to grow and EIA expects that growth to average 0.3 percent per year. However, due to structural changes in our economy and to efficiency improvements, carbon intensity (carbon dioxide emissions per unit of gross domestic product) will continue to decline. EIA expects that decline to be 2.1 percent per year. Carbon dioxide emissions per capita also decline by 0.6 percent per year.
But does the EIA ignore the growth of renewables?
EIA is forecasting an . . . 81 percent for all forms of renewable energy (hydropower, biomass, wind, solar, and geothermal). Hydropower is expected to be 22 percent higher due to improved water conditions and some minor capacity additions, biomass 88 percent higher, and wind, solar, and geothermal combined 187 percent higher. . . .

The largest increase in renewable generating capacity is expected from wind power (46 gigawatts), followed by biomass (29 gigawatts), and solar power (13 gigawatts). Except for wind power, most of the renewable penetration is not in the central station generating sector, but at industrial sites (for biomass) and on residential and commercial rooftops (for solar). Because, of the lower capacity factors for wind and solar power, the increase in renewable generation comes mainly from biomass, which supplies almost half of the increase in renewable generation. Wind power supplies 32 percent of that increase, followed by hydropower (10 percent) and solar (4 percent).
For those of us who view biomass conversion to energy as a step back for soil conservationl, this forecast is extremely discouraging.

The EIA also foresees very little progress for Nuclear power.
EIA is forecasting an increase of 11 percent for nuclear energy,
The reason for EIA pessimism is clear, the German renewable model has not only failed, but failed dismally. A recent report from the Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung titled "Economic impacts from the promotion of renewable energie" sets out the German renewables failure with brutal honesty.
* on-shore wind, widely regarded as a mature technology, requires feed-in tariffs that exceed the per-kWh cost of conventional electricity by up to 300% to remain competitive.
* (despite) having the second-largest installed wind capacity in the world, . . . the estimated share of wind power in Germany’s electricity production was 6.3%
* We estimate that the wind power subsidies may total 20.5 Bn € (US $28.1 Bn).
Solar PV performance was even worse. Solar PV had
* a feed-in tariff of 43 Euro-Cents (59 Cents US $) per kWh in 2009,
The total German solar subsidy including a feed in tariff between 2000 and 2009 cost an estimated
53.3 Bn € (US $73.2 Bn)
The feed in tariff alone cost German consumers
* 43 Euro-Cents (59 Cents US $) per kWh in 2009,
For this huge price the German renewable policy has lead to
* 6.3% of German electricity being generated by wind
*0.6% of German electricity being generated by solar PV.
In contrast German nuclear power plants, which the German Greens and Socialists were intent on shutting down, produce 28% of all German electricity. Thus without any recent investments, no subsidies, and despite political opposition German nuclear power produces 80% of German carbon free electricity. Urick Fahl of the University of Stuttgart estimates that it cost 7€ to eliminate a ton of CO2 with a European Pressurized Water Reactor. (For any who wonder the cost of eliminating a ton of CO2 with a LFTR could run as low as $1 per ton.) In contrast it costs between 611 and 716 € (US $1,050) per tonto eliminate CO2 with photovoltaics. The cost of carbon abatement with wind runs between 91 € and 54 € per ton, that is between 8 and 12 times the cost of carbon abatement with nuclear. Clearly further investments in renewables, coupled with a failure to set reasonable goals is the route to national suicide.

Daily Kos blogger "nnider" recently chose to leave Daily Kos because his use of the word stupid to describe critics of nuclear power was censored. But what can we say of people who favor mans of fighting AGW that are 100 to 1000 times less effective than nuclear power?

It is clear then that a lack of commitment to nuclear power, and especially a lack of commitment to the development of advanced forms of nuclear technology, will lead the world straight into disaster, and that the people who will be responsible for the disaster will be the greens who fight against nuclear power tooth and nail.


DV8 2XL said...

Reality alway bats last, something the Green boneheads don't seem to realize.

Jason Ribeiro said...


This is one of those everyone in America needs to read this articles! It's short, it's strait to the point, and the evidence for the conclusion is overwhelming and backed with the most credible sources anyone can find.

Unfortunately, I happen to agree with Mary Hutzler's assessment. If I were a betting man I'd put money down that she's right, but I hope that I am wrong. Keep preaching your Gospel, I think you are making a difference!!

Anonymous said...

You post the RWI data again? Incorrectly again? And people think it's credible? Amazing.

Keep up the moo work guys. I can see nuclear power's future is in great hands. Top notch questioning attitude. You guys should tailboard a vigorous pat each other on the back session.

DocForesight said...

"However, due to structural changes in our economy and to efficiency improvements, carbon intensity (carbon dioxide emissions per unit of gross domestic product) will continue to decline. EIA expects that decline to be 2.1 percent per year." How is this not considered a positive result, if CO2 is the culprit of climate change?

I have read elsewhere that the greenhouse effect of CO2 DECLINES logarithmically with increasing concentration. If that is the case, then why are we engaged in a "war" with this trace gas? If it is not the case, please direct me to evidence to support that contention.

Here is where I found my info:

Am always open to hearing valid responses.

Jason Ribeiro said...

@Doc - In regards to the point you make of the EIA expecting a decline of 2.1% per year, I think that this is a positive result but if there are simply more people and more demand it still won't make much of a dent. It's like the Jevon's effect where we simply do more with less energy but the end result is we still do more work and thus use more energy.

As for your point about CO2 declining logarithmically, I have no idea. I'm not a climate scientist but I can use logic here that is supportive of Charles' post.

First, we do know that CO2 can and does cause temperature increase. The question is then by how much and what are the inter-relationships it has in a complex global climate system? Again, I don't know. But I do feel that dumping 70 million tons of it (almost 8 cubic miles) into the atmosphere everyday doesn't sound like a good idea to continue to keep experimenting with, especially when we know how to avoid most of this with technology already invented. I believe that we can all agree on this but we are like the Hatfields and McCoys when it comes to which strategy and philosophy to implement to mitigate any of the effects.

Anonymous is caught up in the busy little details. I could really care less if the "RWI" report is credible or not because the preponderance of evidence otherwise shows two things:
1. Renewable energy has systemic problems that will never be overcome to power all of civilization, i.e. dilute source, intermittent, large collectors, etc.
2. Heavy metal fission is sustainable enough to power civilization for thousands of years safely, economically, and with an extremely small environmental footprint.

If we are going to be fighting a war against a trace atmospheric gas then I want us to win whether the climate science is right or wrong. The pure renewable path is a strategy for defeat either way and Mary Hutzler pointing this out to us.

Markus Gålfalk said...

"How is this not considered a positive result, if CO2 is the culprit of climate change?" - Doc

Because that's CO2-intensity(CO2/$), this just tells you the US is going to experience economic growth. The rate of CO2-emission is still projected to increase.

"I have read elsewhere that the greenhouse effect of CO2 DECLINES logarithmically with increasing concentration." - Doc.

You seem to have misdiagnosed the
sensitivity by a factor of ~10-100. An Earth devoid of greenhouse gases would have an average surface temperature closer to that of the surface of the moon; an unlivable iceball.

Even though a given increment in CO2 will have less effect than the last, the effect is still much too large to ignore.

There are also potential tipping points. Tipping points are treshholds(and we don't know quite where they are) beyond which you risk irreversible climate change. This could be due to the albedo change of arctic and antarctic sea-ice loss, the albedo change of forest die-back or any of several other hypothesized tipping points.

Tipping points can be discerned in the climate record. The "pacemaker" for ice ages is milankovitch cycles. Milankovitch cycles are slow, smooth undulations in orbital and axial tilt parameters of the Earth; but ice ages are not slow and smooth undulations they start and end abruptly. The reason ice ages behave this way is believed to be that the transition to an from an ice age occurs upon hitting some tipping point.

If you burn all conventional and unconventional oil, gas and coal you're in the 2000 ppm CO2 terrority and you may ressurecting the Cretaceous-Jurassic climate, in which you could go comfortably go skinny-dipping at the Earth's poles. You also risk oceanic anoxic events.

"If that is the case, then why are we engaged in a "war" with this trace gas?"

The same reason trace amounts of xenon-135 are so bothersome in a nuclear reactor.

The "trace gas" CO2 happens to be responsible for a significant chunk of the greehouse effect because unlike oxygen gas, nitrogen gas and argon it readily absorbs big swaths of the black-body radiation emitted by the Earth's surface and these other gases do not.

Water vapour, which is responsible for a larger radiative forcing than CO2, is not problematic for the reason that you cannot readily change it's concentration in the atmosphere. Water vapour has a residence time in the atmosphere of just weeks and if you try to inject more water vapour in the atmosphere than it can contain at a given temperature it will simply percipitate out as clouds and fog.

CO2 does not behave this way. At first oceans adjust to the increase in CO2 concentration by rapidly absorbing more CO2 but it reaches a new equilibrium in just decades. Oceans absorb about half the CO2 emitted, then it takes millenia for organisms to slowly suck the rest of the CO2 out of the atmosphere by turning it into lime-stone and other carbonaceous materials.

Charles Barton said...

Anonymous, In my estimation you have failed to make a case against the RWI data. As I argue elsewhere the wholesale price of day time electricity varies with source, and the wholesale of load following and peak generation capacity electricity is may not be a gage of the value which a free market would place on PV power because it is intermittent. It seems to me that the spot market sale price of PV generated electricity would be the only gage of PV's free market value. My investigation suggested that the spot market price of wind in Denmark runs about 2/3rds of the day time price of daytime Norwegian Hydro, or about 3 euro cents per kWh. It seems to me that in an electrical market in which price is fundamentally distorted by a mis guided attempt to replace a reliable low cost electrical generation source with an unreliable high cost source, critics can find grounds for criticizing almost any analysis of the cost of that attempt.

You have attempted to do so, but as i argue, your analytic categories are themselves based on overly simple criteria, which itself can be criticized, because your arguments are intended to obscure the undeniable fact that German politicians chose to overprice pV generated electricity, for ideological reasons.

Frank Kandrnal said...

Czech politicians outperformed the Green German political stupidity by a big margin when it comes to solar PV subsidies.
Generous 0.49 Euro ( $0.70 USD ) per kWh is dispensed with for the solar dream. In a country where wages are dramatically lower than in Germany such a political gesture amounts to criminal act against it’s own citizens.
Solar insolation is pathetic in Germany and Czech Republic as compared to United Arab Emirate who just decided to ignore solar power utopia and go with nuclear generated electricity.
Thank God there are still some governments on this planet with a brain attached to their neck that expose the absurdity of copy cat behavior of those governments who pander to the pressure of green dream idiots.
I applaud to UAE government for their wise decision to generate nuclear electricity for 1.6 cents/kWh for the benefit of their citizens.
I am sure the citizens in Germany and Czech Republic will take a notice of this latest development in UAE and will rebel in another velvet revolution, at election time, against their own insane political leadership. The scared politicians in Czech Republic and Germany are already debating how to get rid of those subsidies. After all, like the Anonymous said “never underestimate the Germans”

Anonymous said...

I'm not trying to obscure the fact that the FiT is a subsidy. I'm pointing out the correct way to calculate the cost of the subsidy.

Every political party in Germany supports the FiT. You call it ideology, perhaps it is. Or perhaps the Germans understand the concept of the learning curve. If I was in Germany I'd be paying attention to my neighbors (around 90% of PV systems are rooftop systems) who had installed solar panels. I'd be tracking the system prices. A lot of Germans are doing just this and they've seen system prices come down by 30% in the last year. That's positive feedback that is accessible to the general public.

Anonymous said...


"The scared politicians in Czech Republic and Germany are already debating how to get rid of those subsidies."

Every major political party in Germany supports extending the FiT. It's not only the Czech who have copied the Germans with a FiT program - Nearly every country in then EU has adopted a FiT policy.

Frank Kandrnal said...

Tonight at 11:00pm Ignalina nuclear power station in Lithuania will begin the permanent shut down to comply with extortion pressure from European Union bosses.
Closing down a power source that supply 70% of country’s electrical capacity at the onset of lowest Winter temperatures is nothing less than a reckless criminal act from EU against small member state.
The humane logic would be to shut the plant down late in Spring when warm Summer months could be utilized for adjustment transition to other power sources. This would at least assure that no one freezes to death if the replacement system crashes.
Nevertheless, as we know, the greens have never ever demonstrated any logic at all.
If I were in Lithuanian leader’s shoes I would refuse to endanger my own citizens in middle of the winter and I am sure the rest of the world would support me in my decision.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for Lithuania but you've got to have a containment building. I am sure the NRC would support me there.

One of the conditions of Lithuania's admission into the EU was the closure of Ignalia so I don't think you can characterize it as a "criminal act from EU against a member state." This event was part of a contract.

Why not build another nuclear plant with a containment building?

You place the blame on some fictitious population called the Greens. Why not just call them the boogie men or devil people? This would be true to the propaganda you're preaching.

Greens are a niche group who represent a minor portion of the population working towards alternative energy. I am not a "Green". I don't think you would find many "Greens" amongst all the engineers and technicians designing, building and installing PV panels.

I am not against nuclear power. I reckon I understand the technology and have studied its history more than most of you here. I don't need your sophomoric lectures on the subject. That said, I don't advocate it. I advocate PV.

Happy new years. Goodbye

DocForesight said...

@Markus - Thank you for your thorough explanation. However, I will defer the expertise of climatic effects of the various atmospheric gases, water vapor being the 95% contributor, to respected scientists like Richard Lindzen of MIT.

Did you read the link I included in my previous post? The author was an expert reviewer for the UN IPCC reports. Cheers.

"Tipping points" assumes we know the optimal amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. I believe that is still up for debate. I hope you don't deny the existence of a global Medieval Warm Period which is known to have been warmer than we have experienced over the last 30 years.

Jason Ribeiro said...

@Anonymous 2:19PM. If you don't need "sophomoric lectures" then don't read the comments or the Nuclear Green blog posts. The "Greens" is a broad term to describe groups such as Greenpeace, WWF, Sierra Club, etc. and their supporters who make a concerted effort to thwart nuclear energy at every opportunity, there is nothing fictitious about their existence.

crf said...

It's true greens exist, but their effect on energy policy is tiny. The economic arguments (fossil is cheaper than any other choice) and political power (fossil is in part cheaper than any other choice partly because political decisions have been made to keep its costs externalised) wielded by fossil fuel interests explains why we still have a fossil fuel dominated electrical power generation. Now that the costs of climate change are apparent, there is a massive campaign to denigrate and deny climate science the likes of which the western world has never witnessed.

Greens are often wrong. Yes. But they have no power. Have never had power. Never will have power. Pretending they do is a massive distraction.

DV8 2XL said...

Because what you say about the money amplified political power wielded by Big Carbon is true, the only recourse we have left is to mobilize public opinion such that we can counter this influence by threating politicians at the polls. Within the terms of that struggle, the current Green movement is doing much to undermine our efforts to present nuclear power as a viable option.

So while they have no direct influence, they do have the public's ear and that is why we have to fight them. Is it effort that could be better spent elsewhere? Certainly. Do we have to keep it up so that the misguided efforts of Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and the Sahara Club, among others don't give the field to or real opponents? Again certainly, like it or not.

Rod Adams said...

I assert that "The Greens" as defined above and "Big Carbon" are strange bedfellows who have been working towards a common goal for decades. They LIKE having a bunch of addicts who will pay high prices for energy and HATE the idea that there is a readily available alternative.

High prices put incredible sums of money into the pockets of fossil fuel suppliers - name me one other business where a company that has a 2-3% market share can bring in annual revenues of $440 BILLION dollars and produce official PROFITS of more than $40 BILLION after paying some enormous salaries, getting some special depletion allowance write offs, and hiding some international profits through various subterfuges that are perfectly legal ways to move money in interlocking corporations.

High fossil prices also make it seem "reasonable" to force taxpayers to support permanently unreliable "alternative" energy systems that have been known for millennia to be inferior to combustion. Greens love these warm and fuzzy "natural" sources like the wind and the sun. Some Malthusian Greens love the fact that humans could only survive with these sources if we somehow reduced our current population by a factor of 3-6. It is a simple matter for Big Carbon to toss a few bones towards the Greens to help them continue to capture the hearts and minds people who do not think very clearly.

Those donations help to keep the distraction going.

Many of the people associated with Big Carbon are carpe diem kind of people who care little about the future, do not plan for general prosperity and could not care less what happens in 50, 100, or 500 years to humanity. They will be dead by then.

For Anonymous - I highly doubt that you have studied the history and technology of nuclear energy (or even energy in general) more than I have.

Rod Adams
Publisher, Atomic Insights
Host and producer, The Atomic Show Podcast

DV8 2XL said...

Generally speaking I try and differentiate between the Green leadership, who are surely corrupted by fossil fuel interests, and the larger body of unwashed Greens that follow them.

Nonetheless both remain a serious impediment to the growth of nuclear energy because they have managed to stake out the moral high ground, and appeal to the residual Calvinism that seems typical of the Anglosphere. Unseating them from this position in the minds of the public is one of the more important efforts that we should be focused on, because as long as they have that they are difficult to fight.

heavyweather said...

I am back for more fun.

Rod. I am sure you`ve got the longest...

Saying that the Germans failed in their work sounds like jealousy to me.
Just think about it...7 out of the 10 biggest wind manufacturers are Eurpean...The rest China/India/US.
Another multi billion Euro bussines, the PV industry - Germany is all over the place.

Hurry up with your nuclear developements...

Why do you feel the need to "fight" anything when everything is alright on your side?
I doubt that the nuclear industry is any more interested in empowering the poor than the coal industry. They can`t een provide for jobs lost due to energy transition. Wind can, PV can.

Today is a great day for renewables...Europe will invest around 30 billion Euros in its grid to strengthen the renewable solution.
Today you can count 10% of installed wind capacity for base load. That number grows with better grids.
A combined renewable powerplant does not need coal, nuclear, oil or natural gas driven power stations.

heavyweather said...

Aren`t "Big Carbon" and the "nucular industry" the same people?

I doubt that higly distributed, independent, renewable energy souces such as the "Greens" adocate are in the interest of this other group...

A high capita cost nuclear power plant serves only those who own the capital. Thus it does have negative impact on a social social-order.
You also depend on fuel. Nuclear is just big money.
Something renewables are thretening to destroy. more interest in renewable energy and you will find that there are solutions without nuclear that are also more sustainable for society.

DV8 2XL said...

Heaveyweather, outright baiting is a sure sign that you have no real arguments to produce to support your side.

Frankly, you're just making yourself look like an ass.


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