Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Peak Oil Not a Big Deal

Peak Oil is Not a Big Deal, by Roger E. Sowell aka EnergyGuy.

This discusses a recent article on CNNMoney about peak oil, a coming crisis in energy, and $500 per barrel for oil. The article is found at


Excerpts from the article as allowed by copyright fair use laws follow, with my comments.

Essentially, Matt Simmons is wrong about the price of oil going to $500 per barrel because Saudi Arabia may have lied about their oil reserves. He is also wrong that the demand for oil will escalate to a point that an oil panic ensues. Mr. Simmons believes in peak oil, a theory in which many people "believe that world oil production is at or near an inflection point, after which it will fall inexorably and fail to meet projected future demands."

What Mr. Simmons fails to account for is alternative technologies. Very few commodities on earth have zero substitutes. Water for drinking is one, although there were times when wine or beer were safer. Air for breathing is another. But not oil.

As some before me have written, but Mr. Simmons has apparently forgotten, there are many alternatives to oil. Some of these include GTL, or Gas To Liquids, in which natural gas is polymerized into hydrocarbon chains suitable for use as gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel. Also, CTL, or Coal To Liquids, where coal is the starting material and gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel are products. There are also other sources of oil, including Canada's tar sands, already economic at $100 crude, and enhanced drilling and production techniques for old oil fields in California and Texas.

The East Texas oil field was managed poorly in the wild and woolly days after its discovery, leaving much of the oil in the ground. Soon we will have means to extract that oil.

But perhaps the greatest alternative is hybrid transportation technology, using electric motors as generators to recover energy from braking, and storing that energy in batteries. These roughly double the distance a vehicle can travel on the same amount of fuel. The plug-in hybrids allow the battery to recharge from the electrical grid or solar PV panels.

Hybrid systems are already in use for cars, delivery trucks, and freight locomotives. Police departments across the US are purchasing hybrid cars and conversion kits for existing cars as a means to reduce their fuel costs and stay on budget. More money spent on gasoline means less money for officer equipment, training, and hiring.

The other big alternative is hybrid vehicles fueled by CNG, compressed natural gas. Recent technology advances allow precise directional drilling of shale formations that contain huge quantities of natural gas. Coal-bed methane is another source.

A most interesting breakthrough was recently announced by ExxonMobil, of all entities. They have a radical new technology for batteries that will likely make car batteries lighter and more powerful. This is exactly what is needed for hybrid technology and pure-electric vehicles.

Yet another alternative is hydrogen from sunshine via enhanced proteins. The British scientists' breakthrough research in 2004 showed the exact atomic structure of the photosynthesis site in plant proteins where water is broken down by sunshine into oxygen and hydrogen. That hydrogen could and will be used in power plants, probably combined cycle cogeneration because it is the most efficient. The electric power will replace gasoline and coal that can then be used to produce jet fuel or diesel. A major side benefit is that nuclear power plants with their toxic wastes will be shut down forever.

Finally, there is an enormous amount of natural gas that is currently trapped as frozen methane hydrates in the deep ocean.

In short, there is no way oil will ever reach $500 per barrel unless inflation many years from now is the reason. If demand exceeds supply, the geeks and engineers will once again ride to the rescue and produce cheaper alternatives.

I am a geek, an engineer, and an energy attorney. I have a lot of faith in my fellow geeks and engineers. I have seen what we can do, and done quite a bit myself.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Texas Cogeneration

Abstract of speech by Mr. Tommy John, P.E., in March 2008 to STS-AIChE.
Mr. John holds a BS in mechanical engineering, a MS in chemical engineering, and is a registered professional engineer in Texas.

"30 years ago, cogenerators pioneered market
deregulation and energy efficiency in Texas. Today
Texas has 20% of the nation's cogeneration capacity,
some 16,000 MW of electrical generating capacity, representing
16% of the total, most associated with the
process industries. Yet there is potential for much more.

It is the cheapest option for baseload generation, in addition
to improving the reliability of energy supply, reducing
load on the transmission and distribution system, reducing
water consumption, improving air quality, and spurring economic development. The
need for additional generating resources in Texas will be reviewed as well as integrating with the open power market and renewable resources."

Sunday, August 10, 2008

More on Nuclear Power

Today's edition is from Townhall.com, with an article by Associated Press titled Obama Launches Yucca Attack at McCain. We hear from American Girl 1650, ex-Wyomingite, and Boone. As usual, I write as energyguy, and sign my real name as Roger E. Sowell.

My consistent theme is that nuclear power plants generate toxic waste that future generations must deal with, that new nuclear plants are too expensive to compete in the marketplace, and environmental attorneys will bring endless lawsuits to delay their construction. My conclusion is they will never get built in the U.S., so we must act to build other means of generating power.

American Girl 1650
Location: NY
Reply # 3
Date: Aug 9, 2008 - 10:53 AM EST
Subject: It's the only winning spin
that helps the voters deprive themselves of a viable component of the energy solution.

45 plants? The size we're used to? I don't think so. Did Mac say how small they'd be?

Technology has come a long way and you know the scientists and engineers (worldwide) have not stopped working while we stopped building.

Pretty soon we'll have laptops the size of pens. For sure Nuclear technology has not sat on the back burner.

Location: CA
Reply # 19
Date: Aug 10, 2008 - 12:54 PM EST
Subject: American Girl
Nice handle.

We will not see any new nuclear plants built for many, many years due to their excessive construction costs. Leaving aside the subject of nuclear wastes, reprocessing, and/or storage at Yucca Mountain.

A utility in Florida published in March 2008 their construction cost for a new-technology, AP1000 plant. They stated it would cost them $17 billion for a two-reactor plant generating 2200 MWe.

The article is here:
http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/energy/article414393. ece

This effectively puts new nuclear power plants on the back burner. Instead, we will see many more natural-gas fired combined cycle cogeneration plants, known as CCC. Natural gas prices are falling and likely to get even lower as LNG imports increase.

We still must dispose of all the nuclear waste our existing plants produce. But for now, we will not see any new nuclear plants.

-- Roger E. Sowell
Energy Attorney

Location: CA
Reply # 20
Date: Aug 10, 2008 - 4:26 PM EST
Are you old enough to remember John Fitzgerald Kennedy? People at the time said his ridiculous notion of putting a man on the moon by 1970 was too expernsive, technologically impractical and, worse, wasteful. Then do you remmeber the summer of 1969?

If President McCain, and that's a big if, but if President McCain puts before the nation a goal of having some percentage of our electrical needs met by nuclear generation, it will happen. Nobody will care about some bush league utility having to bear all the costs; it will become like the interstate highway construction program, perfectly feasible.

Millions of Americans were reminded of something the other night from the opening night ceremonies in Beijing. Put enough people to work on something, and the little picayune problems such as those you are fond of citing, vanish. Collectively we can do anything. We're Americans: it's only a matter of setting the goal.

Location: TX
Reply # 21
Date: Aug 10, 2008 - 5:15 PM EST
Subject: The waste problem is real. And forever.
If you want to get an idea just how permanent the waste problem is with nuclear power -- consider this. They are carving stick figure cartoons into the walls. Stick figure goes close to waste container. Invisible rays emanate from container. Stick figures drop dead. You see, people 100,000 years from now who may be another species, but will almost certainly not remember our civilization except the way we remember the sabertooth tiger or the dinosaurs will still be in danger should they wander into Yucca Mountain. People from other planets, maybe other galaxies, still need fear what we are leaving there. Certainly a safe centralized site is probably better than having it all over the country, but I would rather see it shot into the sun or buried on the moon -- both impossible with any forseeable technology. An earhquake of unforeseen magnitude could poison the ground water for most of a continent, but, heck, there may be some really cool mutant fishing available to future settlers on this planet as a tradeoff.

Location: IL
Reply # 22
Date: Aug 10, 2008 - 5:22 PM EST
has it right.

and Energyguy is "changing" the Obamantra to "Yes we can't". Blasphemy.

Two birds with one stone. We can make use of, and drive the waste right off the bridge to nowhere.

Better yet, we can drill and then fill the empty cavities with nuclear waste.

Location: CA
Reply # 23
Date: Aug 10, 2008 - 8:40 PM EST
Subject: ex-Wyomingite
I remember JFK well, and watched the first moon landing on TV at age 15. And what I remember is a massive spending program by the U.S. gov't in response to public hysteria that the Red Commies from Russia beat us into space with Sputnik.

It was far easier to manipulate public opinion in those days. We had not yet learned to be cynical.

Totally different worlds, then and now. We also had an economy slumping after WWII and no war to kick-start the economy -- Vietnam had not yet escalated yet in 1963.

If you want govt subsidized nuclear power plants, please go live in France. Leave my beloved U.S. of A.

If you would rather have the good old U.S. can-do spirit, where our smart guys and gals figure out the best solutions and a Reagan-style limited govt stays the he!! out of the way, then follow me. Our geeks and engineers can do it.

I have not exchanged views with most of you before now, so let me introduce myself. I am an energy attorney with 20 years prior experience as a refinery engineer world-wide, with a BS in Chemical Engineering. I welcome the debates on all these issues.

-- Roger E. Sowell

Location: CA
Reply # 24
Date: Aug 10, 2008 - 8:49 PM EST
You are absolutely right. Our creating toxic wastes for future generations to deal with is not playing nice during our four-score years on the world stage. I am convinced that future generations will curse ours, and with good reason, for mucking up the earth with radioactive wastes.

One chilling scenario is an asteroid strike that we cannot detect early enough, and cannot prevent, smack onto a nuclear plant (or close enough). Or the same asteroid smashing into Yucca Mountain. Remember that heat does not destroy that stuff, but it pulverizes the rock and sends the dust into the sky to make Chernobyl look like a minor problem.

Is it likely? No. Is it probable? No. Is it possible? Yes. And that is too much of a chance to leave our grandchildren, and their grandchildren, and their grandchildren to deal with.

Lucky for future generations, the present construction boom in China and India raised the prices of materials including those for nuclear power plants.

Also, the environmental attorneys are far better now than 30 years ago, and have far more laws with which to delay any nuclear power plant that obtains a construction permit.

They will never get built in the U.S. That is my prediction as a realist. Therefore, I support other means of making electric power, as we must have it, and must generate it ourselves.

It is very telling that 90 percent of all new gas-fired power generation in the U.S. is from CCC technology.

-- Roger E. Sowell

Nuclear Power Too Expensive

“Progress Energy [Florida] tripled its estimate for its new nuclear power plant in Levy County, saying Monday that the new price is $17-billion.

The utility paid more than $80-million for 5,200 acres in Levy County, about 10 miles north of its Crystal River power plant. It plans to build two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors, with a capacity of 1,100 megawatts each.

Despite [the utility company’s] assurances, the new price could leave some with sticker shock. The number will reverberate throughout the Southeast, where at least five similar projects have been announced. Utilities have said that surging prices for commodities like steel and concrete have driven up the cost of new nuclear, but Progress Energy is the first to offer a firm estimate."

Source: accessed 8-10-2008

Roger Sowell has these comments (aka Energyguy on Townhall.com):
This validates what I have maintained all along: Nuclear power plants will not cost $1 billion for a 1000 MW reactor, but much more. Far more. The surging costs of stainless steel, concrete, and copper contribute much to the higher price.

A utility can add to this the long construction times, likely 7 to 10 years, and the cost of borrowing money to finance the construction. Nuclear power plants are not the best economic option, leaving aside the toxic waste disposal or reprocessing problems.

Natural gas-fired combined cycle cogeneration, CCC, is far superior. The world is awash in natural gas, and has been for decades. We are discovering more and more by the day. LNG plants are sprouting around the globe. Super-tankers for LNG are a reality, led by ExxonMobil; these reduce the transportation costs dramatically. LNG receiving ports are under construction around the U.S., and elsewhere.

A CCC is far more energy efficient than a nuclear plant. A nuke puts 3000 to 4000 MW of energy into the ocean, river, or atmosphere via its cooling system, compared to only 250 to 300 MW for a CCC. That is about a 12 to 1 reduction in wasted heat, or thermal pollution. Does that matter? It should, to the eco-hysterics.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Natural Gas Price Drops Again

from AP, Aug 4 2008:

"Natural gas futures also fell sharply [today], dropping 66.3 cents, or 7.1 percent, to settle at $8.726 per 1,000 cubic feet."

From NYMEX, Aug 7, 2008: (closing price) $8.540 per 1000 cubic feet. Wow. Dropped almost 30 cents in three days.

I added a response on T. Boone Pickens' website www.PickensPlan.com. A commenter using BrianR as his handle stated that natural gas needs no refining, it is brought right out of the ground into pipelines for customers.

Well, that is just not true. I corrected that, stating raw natural gas has several impurities including water, sulfur, mercury (sometimes), ethane, propane, butanes, and natural gasoline. All these are removed by processing in a natural gas plant. Then, the processed gas is odorized to meet pipeline specifications and sent out to the consumers.

I also stated that mass conversion of autos to CNG will require some infrastructure work especially on the East coast. This was in response to those who claim that natural gas infrastructure is already in place. Well, it is, mostly, but it is strained each winter as the north and east get very cold. If the pipelines also had to supply gas for cars, there is not enough capacity.

One solution is to build one or more LNG regasification facilities on the east coast, preferably near New Jersey. But, the enviro-wackos will never allow that.

-- Roger E. Sowell, the energyguy on Townhall.com.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Nuclear Power - Rusher's Column

In which Wendy joins the debate, Rich D surfaces again, and energyguy again states his position. Wendy disagrees, and is rather dubious about energyguy's intentions, but is rather vague about what she means. David from Oklahomoa chimes in, stating solar does not work after the sun goes down. Energyguy corrects David's misconception. ModMark has a good question, but energyguy does not have sufficient time to address it tonight.

This is from William Rusher's column on Townhall of July 28, 2008 advocating nuclear power as the solution to the U.S. high energy prices.

Energyguy wrote:
With respect, Mr. Rusher, like many others, you have been deceived.

Some agree with you that nuclear power is safe, efficient, and will forever provide cheap power for the world.

Others, including myself, disagree. I listed 7 reasons not to glow nuclear on Rebecca Hagelin's recent column on this, at:

http://www.townhall.com/columnists/RebeccaHagelin/2008/07/2 4/nuclear_power_lighting_the_future

You have not mentioned the two show-stoppers for nuclear power in the U.S.: First, prohibitively high costs to build, with the very long construction times due to lawsuits, and Second, safe handling and disposal of the highly toxic wastes.

Solar power is competitive, and runs 24/7 in the Sun Belt. Wind power investment is booming, with far more than enough wind in the U.S. to shut down all the nukes forever. Wind-energy storage systems will soon make that a reality.

For any who are interested, I posted my thoughts on renewable energy at:

http://energyguysmusings.blogspot.com/2008/07/renewable-ene rgy.html

I have zero commercial interest in that blog. I created it solely to avoid typing that stuff over and over as more columnists weigh in on the same issues.

-- Roger E. Sowell
Energy Attorney
BS Chemical Engineering

Wendy wrote:
I have already read your "7 reasons" post, and it was just as silly the second time.

1. The reason nuclear plant construction is so expensive is because, as you yourself suggested, there are lawsuit issues, permit delays, environmental regulations, etc. that double the time and expense to build. This suggests that the problem is that our legislatures need to roll back the ridiculous anti-nuclear legislation that is on the books.

2. Safe handling and disposal of waste is only an issue for environmentalist wacko freaks. It is not a prohibitive issue to a serious mind.

Rational minds also do not suggest that wind and solar power are serious alternatives to sustain an industrial civilization, or that lack of brainpower in America makes it impossible to make our civilization nuclear-powered.

By the way, everyone on this board knows what your real interest is, and it is not the well-being of your fellow man.

Nuclear power won't happen overnight and will not replace oil in the near term (and should not), but if we wish to survive, it is our only solution on the horizon for the long-term.

David from Oklahoma wrote:
Subject: energyguy
Energyguy says solar power is available 24/7 in the sun belt. I live in the sun belt. This may surprise you, but the sun does actually set here like any place else. Liberal wingnuts like energyguy is the reason right now that nuclear cost so much to built and takes so long to come online.

Energyguy responded to David:
wrote: "Energyguy says solar power is available 24/7 in the sun belt. I live in the sun belt. This may surprise you, but the sun does actually set here like any place else. Liberal wingnuts like energyguy is the reason right now that nuclear cost so much to built and takes so long to come online."

Take a look at the CSP plant in Phoenix, Arizona. It uses solar power and generates electricity 24/7.

Yes, David, the sun goes down. Every night, even in Phoenix. But geeks and engineers figured it out, and did it with no toxic wastes.

As to nuclear construction costs, actually, you can blame the Chinese and Indians (from India, not the U.S. native groups). Their growing economies caused prices to skyrocket for construction materials like steel, copper, and cement. Nuclear power plants use a lot of those.

-- Roger E. Sowell

Vic tries to bait Energyguy into a response with:
Construction costs are no more for NUke plants than any other large construction. What costs money is delays caused by eco-idiot intervenors and regulators wanting continuous changes in design as you are building it.

Energyguy just ignores Vic; he has demonstrated no ability to use facts and logic but hurls weak insults instead.

Location: NY

Reply # 27
Date: Jul 29, 2008 - 10:45 AM EST
Subject: David
" Liberal wingnuts like energyguy is the reason right now that nuclear cost so much to built and takes so long to come online. "

Now EnergyGuy is a big boy and does not need me to defend him, I am afraid that defend him just make him a liberal in your mind.

I have no doubt that he is quite conservative and nothing worst than a true conservative being labeled a liberal.

But I must ask, why is energy production such a left vs right issue?

Why do you care how those electron flowing into your house is produced? Solar, wind, nukes, NG co-gen or that nasty coal all can produce electrons.

Just a matter which is cheapest for me.

ModMark poses a question to Energyguy:
Now EnergyGuy
" First, prohibitively high costs to build, with the very long construction times due to lawsuits,"

You not going to make any friends by talking lawsuits.

If you do your homework, why should lawyers be able to shut down a new AP1000 nuke plant?

Westinghouse did all the proper work and design, it has been approved by the government and is ready to roll.

Can my AGW lawyers start shutting down NG co-gen systems since they do produce CO2? In fact, those same lawyer may join the nuke side since it does not produce CO2.

Rich D wrote:
Subject: energyguy
Unless I'm mistaken, you left the previous forum where we were having a discussion without responding. Anyway, I just went to the Hagelin article and agree with some others that your seven reason post is not reflective of up-to-date nuclear technology. Just a few miles from Pittsburgh, Westinghouse has been advertising and getting many engineers and technical folks to staff up a new design center. Also, a critical mass of supporters and candle haters would be enough to put the Luddites in their place.

I don't know why you seem to ignore the new designs that produce little or no serious waste after reprocessing and contain considerably fewer components, shutdown safely even without an operator, and can be assembled from prefabricated, tested modules made off site.

Also, I see no response from you on the comparative generation and life-cycle costs of the co-gen plants that you advocate. Why is that? I respect your credentials, but others here are not ignorant of technology.

Energyguy responds to Wendy:
Please, spell out what you believe is my true interest?

I don't know how many, if any, who disagree with me are engineers. Not to make a big deal out of it, but I think I know whereof I speak, after 30-plus years as both an engineer, and an energy attorney.

Everyone is entitled to their views and opinions, but I expect those who want to argue to bring some facts and logic. Unsupported rants or insults are worthless.

I have previously posted the link to my website, so all can view my biography. Not that it matters to some.

I am a realist. I lived through the agonies of the utility companies building the first round of nuclear power plants in the U.S. I followed the litigation, and the delays that were not caused by intervenors. On a different column, I posted what happened at the South Texas Nuclear Plant.

At STNP, part of the problem were engineering errors, completely unrelated to the reactor side. Incompetent management also led to serious delays, thus increasing the final project cost. Things were bad there, including falsified x-rays of critical welds. Who knows why, and who knows if anything like that will happen again. I hope not.

I am intimately familiar with modular construction, indeed, it is the in-vogue style for much modern construction. It can increase quality control, and can reduce costs and time to construct. But, I can assure you it is not foolproof, either. Airbus, the company that makes the A380, is living proof of that. Boeing is having their own issues with the concept in building the Dreamliner.

But, to your first point on Congress removing laws that can be used by anti-nuclear groups. Many of those laws could have a nuclear plant exemption written into them by Congress, and then signed into law by a President. I seriously doubt that will occur. The political fallout would be immense.


-- Roger E. Sowell

energyguy Location: CA
Reply # 61
Date: Jul 30, 2008 - 12:18 AM EST
Subject: Wendy - pt 2
I wish all of you would read what I wrote about the Nuclear Death Spiral. It was real. And it hurt the innocent, the poor, those who had no ability to obtain power elsewhere. It got very little press coverage, but all the engineers I know are keenly aware of it.

I don't want to see that happen again.

Next, about nuclear wastes. Everyone has their opinion on this. I know how to handle toxic wastes, some of the stuff we make in chemical plants is incredibly dangerous stuff. As in cyanide, or phosgene, chromium-6, liquid chlorine, and tetra-ethyl lead (no longer, thankfully). I used to respond to HazMat situations.

The difference with nuclear wastes is that it lasts a very long time. Longer than any of us will be alive. I have heard the arguments pro and con for years, all from experts with serious credentials.

If I am wrong, then I am wrong. But I will not live near a railroad track that ships the stuff for reprocessing. I have seen too many chemical train derailments. No container is strong enough. (that usually gets a storm of disagreement...stay tuned).

-- Roger E. Sowell

energyguy Location: CA
Reply # 62
Date: Jul 30, 2008 - 12:36 AM EST
Wendy - finally
Your point about rational minds not touting wind or solar, and we don't have the brain power to do nuclear again.

You may be right. I just give my opinion, with facts taken from others, and sometimes my own experience.

The fact is that most farmers love a windmill. Just like most ranchers love an oil well on their land. The cattle love to scratch their sides up against it. It also brings more wealth to the rancher.

And, who are you to say that it is irrational to believe the DOE and their measurements on wind velocity and duration? Have you seen the Wind Energy Map of the U.S.? Those guys said there is sufficient wind energy at 20 miles per hour or greater.

And I happen to know that there is far more available wind energy at lower speeds, from 10 to 20 miles per hour. So does the DOE, and the guys at eere. That low-speed technology is in the works, and will be available soon.

I also know that Mr. Hails, PE, who wrote in to the Wall Street Journal the other day has serious credentials.

But, we engineers may all be wrong. There are probably thousands of bright grads out there with the smarts in math and physics and engineering and applied economics who are flipping hamburgers to pay their bills. They are just waiting for the nuclear renaissance to deliver them from a doom of sprinkling salt on french fries.

As to society's survival, just how did we manage for the 10,000 years or so before this past 40-year period of nuclear power?

Nuclear power is not a necessity. It is a luxury.

-- Roger E. Sowell

energyguy Location: CA
Reply # 63
Date: Jul 30, 2008 - 12:52 AM EST
Subject: Rich D
I don't always have time to post, just like everyone else. Tonight I do.

I can assure you, it is not cowardice that keeps me from responding!

As to the new technologies that you and some others speak of so lovingly, fine, great, but remember it is new. Not proven. Not tested.

But it is a way for nuclear design companies to generate more business. Maybe it will work. Maybe the plants can be built to generate 1000 MW at 90 percent or greater. And maybe they can be built for $1 billion each, and in 3 years.

That is a lot of maybes. And once again, speaking as a realist, there will be hordes of anti-nuke groups filing one lawsuit after another to block these things. But not me, that is not my thing.

I am not sure if anyone on TH fully appreciates just how pervasive the enviro-lawsuits are these days. I recently attended a seminar on airport construction, where one topic was a lawsuit filed by an unheard-of group (three members) to block a runway extension at Santa Barbara, California. The runway was needed for improved safety.

The runway was finally built, but it took much more time and money to fight the lawsuit. Yes, that was California, where people are nuts.

But the enviros have done the same in Chicago, specifically Whiting, where BP is expanding a refinery. They want the Whiting refinery to use the same level of technology as is required in California for air emissions controls.

Said that Chicago people are just as valuable as California people. Imagine that.

-- Roger E. Sowell

energyguy Location: CA
Reply # 64
Date: Jul 30, 2008 - 1:17 AM EST
Rich D
This next bit gets a little technical. Oh well. Here goes.

The next argument against nuclear and for combined cycle cogeneration that burns natural gas, is thermal pollution.

The fact is that a fission-based nuclear power plant wastes 75 to 80 percent of the heat generated in the reactor. So, for 1000 MW of power produced, an additional 4000 MW goes out the cooling tower as heat. That is somewhat simplified, for the purists out there.

In contrast, a CCC producing 1000 MW sends only about 250 to 300 MW of heat into the sky.

You can check my facts, and I expect some will do so.

Which is more environmentally sound? 250 MW with a bit of CO2, or 4000 MW with no CO2? Remember that clouds reflect heat as much or better than C02 in the sky. How many nuclear power plants are located in cloudy areas?

(Answer: most of them). I can think of three that are not: Palo Verde, San Onofre, and Diablo Canyon. I have driven past all three of those.

Another argument in favor of CCC over nukes is that no power lines need be built.

Another is that CCC generates valuable heat to the refinery, and nukes do not.

A final argument is that most modern refineries, and many chemical plants, have an excess of waste gases that can easily be burned as fuel in the CCC. The alternative is expensive treatment, or flaring.

The reality is that refineries and big chemical plants considered all their options and concluded (and still do) that CCC beats purchased power. As I wrote earlier, BP just bought a 500 MW CCC for the Whiting refinery.

But, not only refineries and chemical plants. As I posted earlier, the EIA's own figures show that utilities overwhelmingly choose CCC for their new gas-fired generating plants. They choose CCC 90 percent of the time.

-- Roger E. Sowell

End of the comments ----------

Monday, July 28, 2008

Renewable Energy

There is much discussion lately (July-2008) of alternative energy solutions to the high price of gasoline and diesel. I post comments from time to time on Townhall.com, as Energyguy, on these issues.

This blog posting is an attempt to bring to one place the things I know as fact, and the references to support them.

First, we are not running out of oil. Never have, never will. We have run out of cheap oil. There is plenty of oil, but the cost to extract it could be more than our current price of $130 per barrel. As just a few examples, Brazil just discovered a large oil field in deep water. ExxonMobil is developing a large oil field off Sakhalin Island north of Japan. The deep water in the Gulf of Mexico has fairly large fields.

Second, we will always need oil, just not for transportation. A significant part of the oil we refine today goes to non-transportation purposes, including home heating oil, lubricants (crankcase oil in the car), asphalt, and petrochemical feedstocks. Even if every transportation use was converted to another fuel, the need for those just listed will not disappear.

Third, we do not need new refineries, or more refineries in the U.S. My statement goes against some fairly heavy hitters, to use a baseball term. But I stand by my assertion. Our demand for gasoline is decreasing. Here is why.

The U.S. has enjoyed a prolonged period of heavy, large vehicles with poor gas economy. That is changing with gasoline at $4 per gallon (higher in CA and a few other states). Smaller cars, hybrid cars, plug-in hybrid cars, and all-electric vehicles, plus CNG vehicles are reducing the demand for gasoline.

Also, demand is dropping due to consumers changing how they drive. People are driving slower, for one thing. As I drive across Los Angeles, California on weekends when the freeways are fairly uncrowded, many cars are driving no more than 60 or 65 miles per hour. I know, because they are not passing me and I drive 60 or 65.

I believe people are also turning off the engine at red lights rather than letting it idle and waste gas. It takes far less gas to restart than to idle for more than about 5 seconds, especially on a modern, fuel-injected hot engine.

I see people coasting into stop signs and red lights. I don't see people pealing out, or screeching the tires by gunning the engine. I also see more people at the air station in filling stations, putting air in the tires. Finally, the people I talk to have cleaned out the car and the trunk, removing any extra weight.

The evidence for using less fuel can be found each Wednesday morning on the website www.eia.doe.gov, then look for the petroleum summary report. That report compares each week's demand to the same period last year. Each week for the past several months, the demand is less than last year. This trend will continue.

Diesel cars are making a comeback. As some may know, sale of new diesel cars were not allowed for the past few years because the air pollution laws were too strict. But the geeks and engineers prevailed, and VW has the first diesel-powered car that meets the emissions rules in all 50 states. Their car is the Jetta TDI. It also gets around 40 miles to the gallon.

In the face of all this, we see no new refineries being built, but a few are being expanded. The list of expansions includes BP at Whiting, Illinois, Motiva in Port Arthur, Texas, and Marathon in Detroit, Michigan. Other refineries have major projects underway including Chevron at Richmond, California, and Alon in Los Angeles, California.

In fact, Shell just cancelled a new refinery that was to be located in Sarnia, Ontario (Canada). Their reasons for cancelling included soaring construction costs, and demand uncertainty. That last is oil-speak for "we don't think there will be the demand for our products in 5 or 6 years when we finally get this thing built."

Furthermore, some refineries are cutting back production even though the summer driving season is not yet over. Total in Port Arthur, Texas, shut down several process units for a few weeks this summer, stating weak demand for gasoline. This is virtually unprecedented.

Finally, the technology to convert a standard car to a plug-in hybrid has arrived. An article on finance.yahoo.com gave the particulars. These after-market conversion systems replace the rear wheels with electric wheel-motors that also serve as generators when braking. An appropriate battery is installed, and a sophisticated computer control system to govern the system. These are not cheap, costing around $9000 installed. But, they pay for themselves in less fuel in just a few years. Also, they increase the value of the vehicle at trade-in or when sold. This is important, because many big SUVs have zero trade-in value at the moment.

For all the above reasons, it is clear that the U.S. will soon be an exporting country, selling gasoline and diesel fuel to India and China. Our gasoline demand will likely be cut by at least a third, probably half, within three years.

Now, to the alternatives. T. Boone Pickens, A Great American, is pushing for more windmills and solar power to generate electricity from wind and solar. He then wants to divert natural gas from power plants and use the natural gas as CNG for vehicles. This is a great plan, and we have been doing each part of it for years in California. As evidence, the mass transit bus system in Los Angeles and surrounding cities are almost entirely fueled by CNG. There are also fleets of city vehicles running on CNG. CNG fueling stations are in several locations. California also has two major wind-generation areas, one in the north at Altamont Pass near San Francisco, and one in the south along the highway leading from Los Angeles to Palm Springs. There are literally hundreds, perhaps thousands of windmills on those hills.

Some doubters claim that the Pickens Plan is a get-rich quick scheme for Pickens, and places a burden on taxpayers because the government builds the power transmission lines. Big deal.

Some claim that wind power is too unreliable, and we have to run fossil-fueled power plants in stand-by mode to take over the task when the wind fails. That argument does not seem to have effect in California, where we have the second-most wind generation in the U.S., second only to Texas.

Others argue that solar power is too unreliable because of clouds and day/night cycles. There is some truth to that for PV, photo-voltaic, solar power. But for the far more economic CSP, concentrating solar power, operation 24/7 is not only possible it is a reality. There is a large CSP plant operating in Phoenix, Arizona with hot oil storage, generating power 24/7.

Another alternative with great characteristics is wave-power in the oceans. That technology has advanced so that multiple systems using different ideas are practical. One design uses a submerged buoy where the top of the buoy is just below the wave troughs. As a wave passes over the buoy, the buoy is depressed by the added weight of the water above. When the trough passes, the buoy rises a bit. This oscillation generates power.

Another design uses articulated slender floats, with internal pistons to compress a fluid and turn a hydraulic turbine. It works.

The waves in the Pacific are large and almost constant, especially from the Canadian border down to northern California. Anyone can check the wave action on NOAA's website, which is updated each day. As I write this, the forecast off Oregon's coast is for 10 foot waves, combined wind and swell. These are small waves for that area.

An excellent source for news on alternative energy and renewable energy is www.eere.energy.gov. They send out a weekly email to anyone, free for the asking.

One last observation regarding drilling in ANWR and the OCS, offshore continental shelf. Neither option should be ignored, but economics will dictate whether the oil is drilled. Given our declining demand for gasoline and diesel, as discussed above, we are already using less imported oil. And, we are importing less today, every day, not having to wait however long it may take to drill for the oil, build the pipelines, and bring the oil to refineries. Oil companies are shrewd operators, and cannot afford many economic failures.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Nuclear Power in our Future

This entry chronicles comments on a Townhall.com column by Rebecca Hagelin, from July 24, 2008. My comments show up as "energyguy." I sign my name, Roger E. Sowell, and then SOB. Society of Oil Boilers.

SOB is, of course, a play on words. Those of us in the oil refining industry sometimes refer to ourselves as SOBs. The primary operation in a refinery is to boil oil and distill the oil in distillation towers. The other meaning is more obvious.

Energyguy wrote:
Subject: Reasons Not to Glow Nuclear

1. Waste reprocessing, or sequestering toxic radioactives for thousands of years.

2. Shortage of qualified engineers to design and supervise construction.

3. Shortage of skilled workers to construct the plants.

4. Skyrocketing costs of materials: steel, concrete, copper, and others. These plants will cost far more than the last group.

5. Environmental groups and their lawyers are far more numerous, and have far more laws to use in their lawsuits to delay the plants.

6. High-cost nuclear power in the 1970's and 80's provided strong incentives for refineries and large chemical plants to build their own, highly-efficient power plants and go off the grid. Many combined-cycle cogeneration (CCC) plants were built then. The same cycle of build-a-nuke, raise the rates, and watch the customer base shrink will happen again.

7. Distributed Generation: the geeks and engineers have been busy in the past 30 years. This time around, not just refineries and big chemical plants can go off the grid by building a CCC. Smaller versions of these allow small businesses and homeowners to use natural gas to provide power, heating in winter and air conditioning in winter. [should read Summer -- energyguy]

Utility planners should take note before embarking on new nuclear power plants.

Geeks and Engineers. Saviors of Society (TM)

-- Roger E. Sowell, SOB. Society of Oil Boilers

Monday, July 21, 2008

Nuclear Power

More articles on the pros and cons of nuclear power plants for the U.S.

This one from the Wall Street Journal; for comments posted to that article see:


I found two arguments compelling. First, Hails states that there are no longer sufficient engineers to design and build the plants. Second, another writer states we have lost all capability in the U.S. to build the steel containment shell, made of 12-inch thick steel. He says Japan can do it, but can only produce one per year for us.

Third, another writer states we do not have the skilled workforce to build the plants. Fourth, another writer states we have runaway construction costs (as we certainly do in expanding our refineries -- energyguy). The runaway construction costs will make the nuclear plants non-viable.

Hmmm...Hail's argument also states that 69 engineering schools dropped the courses required to train students in designing nuclear power plants. So, even if the students have the interest, there are few places left to teach them.

I wonder about the steel shell fabrication capability. We build nuclear subs, and aircraft carriers. I suspect they bend steel. And if not the 12 inch thick size, then we can build the plants to bend it. Whatever happened to the American Can-Do attitude? I know, who will build a plant to bend the steel, if the nuclear plants are never ordered or built? Chicken and the egg problem.

When we embarked on the Apollo space program, we needed a bunch of people to do the science and engineering on that one. The call went out, and qualified people showed up. Professors began teaching the courses to a new generation.

As to the skilled laborers to build the plants, we can train people as we go.

As to construction costs, there is virtually nothing to be done about that.

But none of this matters, ultimately. I predict (as I have many times in the past) that nuclear power plants will not be built in the U.S. because their power will be far too expensive when they finally start up.

The fuel cost is fairly low, that is certain, but the capital charge rolled into the rates will doom these projects. Reactor designers at GE and Westinghouse currently state that they can build a 1000 MW reactor for $1 billion and construct it in 3 years or so. We have heard this song before, same verse. It will likely cost $5 to $10 billion per plant, after the environmental lawyers have their turn in the courts.

Another poster stated that the U.S. Congress could make the nuclear power plants immune from lawsuits, as they did the Alaska Pipeline.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

ANWR and Not Drilling vs Hybrids and Slowing Down

There has been a lot of talk lately about removing the ban on drilling the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve, ANWR.

Here is an excerpt from an article today from CNN.money.

"No one really knows how much oil the coastal plain might contain - no one has ever actually drilled there.

But based on the region's geological features, and it's proximity to the oil rich Prudhoe Bay region, the government's Energy Information Agency said drilling in the reserve might eventually yield, in nearly 800,000 barrels of crude oil a day."

CNN.money is not an oil industry source, but they are quoting the EIA so that is ok in my book.

Now, let's analyze this. We will assume the facts as stated, without demanding proof. After all, it is all guesswork as to how much oil, if any, is there. But, for the sake of argument, I will go with their 800,000 barrels per day of oil.

Compared to our current use of oil at about 15.5 million barrels per day, that represents about 5 percent. That is supposed to be enough to bring down the price of oil by about $30 per barrel. I wonder how they arrived at that number?

So, let us compare this to my proposed means of reducing gasoline prices, that is, driving slower and driving hybrids, or preferably plug-in hybrids, that use CNG as fuel. By the way, I am doing my part. My commuter car, a 1998 Saturn SL2, gets 37 miles to the gallon, average city/highway. It is EPA rated at 27 mpg for city/highway. It is stock, with no modifications, and has 233,000 miles on it. It can be done. I got 30 mpg as of last December. I now drive slower, 60 miles per hour rather than 75, and turn off the engine at red lights. But, I digress.

We know that every two barrels of oil produces about one barrel of gasoline in the U.S. Therefore, those 800,000 barrels per day of ANWR oil would produce about 400,000 barrels per day of gasoline, again representing about 4.5 percent of gasoline demand as of July, 2008.

We have already seen a 2 percent decrease in gasoline demand in the U.S., just this summer and late spring, from either reducing speeds voluntarily, or possibly other driving habit changes. It could also be that the new hybrids hitting the road are doing the job.

It will not take very many more hybrid cars on the road to bring us to the full reduction of 4.5 percent that would be the equivalent of having those 800,000 barrels per day of ANWR oil.

And, we won't have to wait for Nancy Pelosi to get off her $ss and pass a bill. We also won't have to wait for the wells to be drilled, and the pipeline to be built to connect ANWR with the Alaska Pipeline (called TAPS). How many years will that take? I seem to remember that when Prudhoe Bay was drilled, it took a very long time to get the oil flowing. Maybe the oil companies are better at that, now, and won't take so long.

Then again, maybe we can get it done, and without waiting. Maybe we will help ourselves without government intervention, by driving smarter (slower), and buying hybrids. Or, converting existing cars to hybrids with those spiffy after-market hybrid conversion systems.

And, just watch those gasoline prices plummet when demand drops another few percent. It won't take oil companies and gasoline stations long to drop their prices when their sales drop noticeably.

Geeks and Engineers. Saviors of Society. (TM)

Gasoline Prices Drop 3.5 cents on West Coast

I wrote, as energyguy on Townhall, that gasoline prices are dropping in the Los Angeles area.

Another commenter scoffed, and said that gasoline prices are a national issue, not a local one.

I of course disagreed. I have never seen anyone drive across country just to fill up their car. Here are some facts to support my argument.

see http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/oog/info/gdu/gasdiesel.asp

from the Energy Information Administration, part of the Dept of Energy, this link shows both a table, and a graph, of gasoline prices by different areas of the country for July 14, 2008. That was this past Monday.

The US average price is down 0.1 cents per gallon, not much, agreed, compared to last week.

But the West Coast price is down 2.5 cents, and California price is down 3.5 cents.

Facts are stubborn things. -- energyguy, aka Roger E. Sowell

Geeks and Engineers. Saviors of Society. (TM)

Ann Coulter 7-16-08 This is Not a Drill

These comments ensued. In this edition, Vic calls energyguy a watermelon (green on the outside, red on the inside). Lolo1 gets into a fairly spirited argument with energyguy. George Washington asks some good questions, but energyguy failed to respond (not intentionally, GW, energyguy assures you). Rich D gets into the fray and energyguy disagrees with him factually and logically.

Also, T. Boone Pickens gets picked on by several, and defended by energyguy, Lolo1 accuses energyguy of being a shill for T. Boone, (and I am not by any means), and energyguy explains his opposition to nuclear power.

We also learn that ExxonMobil is about to introduce a breakthrough in automotive battery technology that will make plug-in hybrids commonplace.

This series ends with energyguy's complete refutation (with facts) of Vic's claims that power from gas turbines is uneconomic. What say you, Vic?

All this reminds me of what a tenured, seasoned, professor of chemical engineering told us in our senior year of undergrad:

"Men, you are about to become chemical engineers. You will find yourself outnumbered at times in your career, but you will NEVER be out-gunned."
and then, he smiled. He was always pounding into our thick skulls that arguments are worthless unless backed up by facts. -- energyguy

I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did participating. Let's do it again, yall, and soon!

energyguy Location: CA
Ms Coulter

wrote: "Conservation, efficiency and using oil we hold in reserve for emergencies does not get us more energy. It's as if we were running out of food and the Democrats were telling us: "Just eat a little less every day." Great! We'll die a little more slowly. That's not what we call a "plan." We need more energy, not a plan for a slower death."

Great writing, funny, wish I could do that. Ann, you are my kind of woman.

I agree that using our SPR is unwise; that is for supply emergencies. This is not such.

Conservation and greater efficiency, though, are two of our best bets for immediate and long-term solutions.

A vehicle that gets 80 miles per gallon uses one-fourth the gasoline compared to one at 20 miles per gallon. That has the same effect on the driver's wallet as gasoline at $1 per gallon.

Anyone remember those days? And that we were complaining about the high price of gas?

Those 80-mile per gallon vehicles are here, folks. see http://www.AFSTrinity.com, also http://www.Aptera.com, and just consider a VW Jetta TDI diesel (it gets about 50 mpg) with an add-on plug-in hybrid system. Add-on hybrid systems are here, too.

To Marinaro: Right On.

Since the engineers appear to be introducing themselves, here's my intro:

-- Roger E. Sowell, energy attorney and former refinery engineer, with a BS in chemical engineering.

energyguy Location: CA
President Bush

did ask for funding for alternative energy, including hydrogen.

The U.S. government has spent many millions through DOE research into solar, wind, hydrogen, and many others. Take a look at what Sandia National Labs and a few of the other national labs are up to. Also, see the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy website, part of the DOE, at http://www.eere.doe.gov.

The geeks and engineers are showing us the way out of this high-priced energy mess. Sure, the products are a bit pricey to start with, but so were personal computers in the early days.

I did not hear any whiners back then saying that this is unfair, those damn Republicans are creating a device that only the rich can afford.

Prices for the ultra-high mileage vehicles will come down very fast. There was a time when air conditioning on a car was an add-on, a luxury. I know, because I always wanted AC on long family vacations driving across Arizona in the summer as a kid. Not many years later, AC was not even an option. They were so cheap they were just included.

Geeks and engineers. Gotta love em.

-- Roger E. Sowell, energy attorney and former refinery engineer, with a BS in chemical engineering.

The Crawfish Location: PA
Subject: Oil-based fuels

As long as aircraft, trains, large trucks, heavy equipment, and ships run on oil-based fuel, we'll need it. I don't see viable alternative fuels for those machines coming down the pipe anytime soon.

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: Bubba -- at 7:13 am

wrote about more refineries, and nuclear power.

As some on TH know, I am against both. And here is why.

The democratic party's mantra that we have not built a new refinery in 30 years is dis-information. It misses the entire point, and that is, that we have always had adequate refining capacity, excepting a few weather-related events.

We had 12 million barrels per day refining capacity in about 1983. Today we have 18 million. That is 50 percent increase in 25 years, roughly 2 percent per year. That kept up with the demand for gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. The geeks and engineers did this by expanding existing refineries.

We do not need more refineries in the U.S., and here is why. The coming (or more accurately, the existing) decline in gasoline consumption in the U.S., does not indicate building more refineries. Instead, look for the U.S. refineries to begin exporting gasoline and diesel to other countries.

Note that there are a few U.S. refineries with major expansion projects right now. BP in Whiting IN is one, also a big refinery in Port Arthur TX.

There is a lot of talk about a new refinery in the Dakotas for the Bakken oil, but so far no one has written a check for the $8 billion or so that it will cost. I doubt anyone will.

Finally, just last week Shell cancelled their plans to build a new refinery in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. They cited market uncertainty, and surging construction costs as their reasons. Market uncertainty means "we don't think we can sell the products at a high enough price when we finally get this thing built in 4 years."

more on nukes later.

-- Roger E. Sowell, energy attorney and former refinery engineer, with a BS in chemical engineering.

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: ExxonMobil to the Rescue

I will probably get some flak for this.

The CEO of ExxonMobil recently stated in a speech in Europe, that his company will soon unveil a new technology for lithium batteries. Something about a membrane.

That will make the Lithium batteries more desirable for things like cars, especially plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Now, my question to all the Exxon-haters out there, is why would ExxonMobil do something like that?

Those are the smart guys (and gals). They know their stuff, better than anyone, at finding oil, refining oil, making petrochemicals, and making money at it.

Why would they even be performing research in that area, batteries?

-- Roger E. Sowell, energy attorney and former refinery engineer, with a BS in chemical engineering.

The Crawfish Location: PA
Robert 12:30AM

What alternative energy sources are viable, or will become viable in the next 25 years, for aircraft? How about trains, large trucks, and heavy equipment? I just can't see any other way to power one of those new huge Airbus planes or an F-35.

Nuclear power is an alternative for ships, but do we want to have those third world crews, many of whom have a hard enough time with routine maintenance that keeps their vessels from becoming dangerous rust buckets, dealing with nuke reactors? Do we really wnat those third world crews to be able to get their hands on nuclear waste that can be used as a weapon? Heck, even using their own ship as a weapon by initiating a reactor runaway when they pull into port in Noo Yawk, Basstun, Newport News, El Lay, Than Franthithco, Seattle, Houston, N'awlins......

orlandocajun Location: FL

"Why would they even be performing research in that area, batteries?"


energyguy Location: CA
Subject: orlandocajun -- BINGO

ExxonMobil sees the light. And the future.

And the future is plug-in hybrid cars with their batteries. This is the smart response, part of If you Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em.

If drilling was the way out of high oil prices, I suspect ExxonMobil would never be working on batteries.

Kinda takes the wind out of the sails of those watermelons who say ExxonMobil is doing nothing for the environment.

Way to fire, Rex! 41-38.

-- Roger E. Sowell, energy attorney and former refinery engineer, with a BS in chemical engineering.

killer Location: GA

I am an Attorney in Georgia,no big deal.But,please allow me to help you,in your attempt to assist Exxon.If Exxon had done this in 1950,they would have been good corporate citizens.But, to do it when resources of fuel are dwindling, is self explanatory.Superconductivity is on the rise world-wide.Battery experimentation is being examined by every nation on earth, almost.It is alleged, that by 2012,we will have available to "US" batteries, that could last for 100's of years.Exxon is doing US no favors,believe me.Sir,they are trying to position themselves for the coming cycle,which is their JOB!!!

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: The Crawfish -- at 8:19 am

wrote: "What alternative energy sources are viable, or will become viable in the next 25 years, for aircraft? How about trains, large trucks, and heavy equipment?"

You have a point with aircraft. More fuel-efficient engines are what is working now, as in A380 and Boeing's Dreamliner. Although the Dreamliner uses composite materials to reduce weight, too.

We will need jet fuel for a long time.

For trains, see GE's hybrid train. It was on display in Los Angeles' Union Station a few months ago. Recovers energy from braking. Trains tend to brake a lot.

For trucks, see Eaton Corp's hybrid technology for delivery trucks. On sale in 4th Quarter of this year.

Hybrid technology works for just about anything that has to hit the brakes. That includes heavy equipment.

Big Rigs, for long hauls, are a bit of a problem. They don't have the stop-and-go driving that allows the hybrid to increase mileage. But, geeks and engineers are working on that one, too. One of the technologies reduces drag by increasing air pressure at the end of the trailer.

Good point about nukes on ships. Not to worry, though. Way too expensive.

-- Roger E. Sowell, energy attorney and former refinery engineer, with a BS in chemical engineering.

Woody Location: IA
Subject: To energyguy

Though you may be correct in what you're saying, your sign-off,telling everyone about your "degree", is more than slightly arrogant.

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: Woody

Ok, just for you, I will sign off differently this time.

How's this? You happy now? Anything else you want to whine about?

-- A Cowboy, and beer-drinkin' guitar-player with friends in low places.

Joycey Location: OH
Subject: Energy guy

I don't know about you but My family was already conserving energy. I was raised not to waste. We don't have anymore cutbacks to make. Buying a new car is not a solution for families that can't afford a new car. We are to busy paying college tuition. "Let them eat cake",
"Let them buy a new car". Where are your 80 mpg cars. Best I've seen is around 40 are you talking about dangerous motor scooters. Where are the groceries going that we soon will not be able to afford on a motor scooter. If I have to make 10 trips on a motor scooter I haven't saved a nickle.

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: Joycey

I predict that gasoline prices will get much lower, and very soon. Here is why.

First, summer driving season ends on Labor Day. Prices historically drop then as demand drops due to school starting.

Second, a very big refinery is starting up in India around Labor Day. This refinery will eventually sell gasoline and diesel to customers in India, but for now will be exporting. That will bring prices down somewhat. see Reliance Industries.

Third, U.S. drivers are cutting gasoline use like never before. We have seen a consistent decrease in gasoline use for the past few months. SUVs and pickup trucks are sitting on auto dealer lots. Meanwhile, hybrids are zooming off the lots. GM, Ford, and Chrysler are shutting down plants that make their gas-guzzlers. Toyota is shutting down the Tundra pickup plant for a few months.

Fourth, gasoline prices are already dropping, at least in Los Angeles. Trends sometimes start in California and infect the whole country.

And last, AFSTrinity demonstrated their 150 mile per gallon SUV in January at the Detroit auto show. It is real. They took a brand new Saturn VUE, a small SUV, and added their plug-in hybrid system to it. Aptera is taking orders now for their car, which gets serious gas mileage.

This is like a snowball rolling down a hill. Gasoline prices will be lower, and soon.

All this is just one guy's opinion.

-- Roger E. Sowell, beer drinker.

george washington Location: FL
Energy Guy...

While I am certainly no energy expert, I like to think that I possess a fair amount of common sense.

The use of gasoline to fuel our personal vehicles is a practice whose days are ultimately numbered.
Obviously, we can't continue to burn gasoline indefinitely.

Looking at the alternatives, as far as automobiles are concerned, electric would seem to be the best currently known alternative.

A general conversion to electric cars is not going to happen overnight, however. The practical reality is that turning the fleet over, in all that that entails (including infrastructure for re-charging stations, etc.), may well consume one or two decades, or more.

Assuming that we were to go that route, how would we generate the electricity needed to power the new electric auto fleet?

I note that you oppose additional nuclear powered electrical generation plants. What would you propose? I must admit that I do not know some of the facts needed to assess the feasibility of some of the alternatives.

What would be the requirements of any all-electric auto fleet in kilowatt hours per day? Are wind or solar, as the technologies currently exist, capable of even producing what must surely be a prodigous amount of electricity? At what cost per kilowatt hour?

I am not trying to put you on the spot here. I do not have this information and have seen all manner of contradictory information.

I, for one, would love to see some sort of national emergency conference convened at which the known facts are reliably produced and summarized for the nation to assess.

Your Obedient Servant,

George Washington

CKHustler Location: MN

I noticed something you said...

"ExxonMobil sees the light. And the future. "

Thats just it...the future. What about the present? If our economy tanks because of rising oil prices, well, there goes our economy in the present and those future technologies will have done nothing to help.

We are all for future technologies, but we want a solution that will get us to the future technologies without losing our economy in the process. Open up drilling and refining to any individual who wants to. That would solve our energy crisis immediately as prices would plummet the next day due to future market stability.

Your so busy looking a mile down the road, your missing the bus sideswiping us while we try to get there.

The Crawfish Location: PA
Energy Guy and R-Geek

Energy...good info, and keep up the beer drinkin'!

Geek...thanx for stopping by and giving The Swamp a plug. Once I finish all 17 parts of the series, I'll make a final post that has links to all 17 parts. I'll send a link to THAT post to the McLame and Barr campaigns, since us minor-league bloggers are the only ones who seem to be able to find this ammo that's sitting out in the open.

Some of my fellow bloggers and I came up with our own (currently fictional, but maybe sometime soon a reality) political party, The American Tradition Party. I've got a link to our 2008 Platform as one of the featured posts.

Rich D. Location: PA
Subject: energyguy

"And the future is plug-in hybrid cars with their batteries. This is the smart response, part of If you Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em."

Their is no forseeable improvement to batteries that would increase their energy density, service lifetime, and cost significantly. It is misleading to say that a car gets 150 mpg - a bicycle's mpg is infinite.

As you are against nuclear power for some unexplained reasons (that you promised), how the dickens do you proprose to charge the batteries? Hydro is out, wind is of low availablity, especially when needed most during summer months in the daytime, solar puts hazardous chemicals on your roof just waiting for a fire, hydrogen is only a lossy carrier, ethanol starves poor people and ruins engines, and batteries need to be recycled and replaced at a hugh cost, and will require azmat crews at major accidents.

Rich (Oh, B.S. in B.S.)

Lolo1 Location: CA

interesting comments, but people are still not getting the big picture.

Congress over the last forty years has done nothing to develop our infrastructure, and not just in the realm of energy. Water wars anyone? They cow towed to the environazi's and now we have gridlock. Yes, I can blame the Democrats and Pelosi. Don't give me that Reps had the Congress for 6 years stuff. They campaigned on lowering gas prices and they have since almost doubled. Quite frankly I blame them all!

Currently hybrid technology does not fit the needs of all Americans. And to those who scream about gas mileage remember it is Congress that continually raises and lowers fuel standards. Cop a clue folks, you are taxed per gallon, the more you use the more you pay in taxes.

The world is not going to run out of oil. This dooms day scenario has been predicted since the 1930's. Does that mean we shouldn't pursue other methods? Nope. I like technology and it often does more good than harm. Gonna be interesting to see the creative way they come up with to tax it.

To the engineers on board go to IBD and read Local Fission Hole. Curious as to what you think.

In the mean time while Congress fiddles Rome is burning. If you guys think they are really serious about getting off of foreign oil I have a bridge to sell you.

energyguy Location: CA
Rich D -- at 10:51 am

Brief response, I gotta get some work done, but will be back around 5 PDT.

Wind is one of the best options we have, but there are plenty more. Try a search for Wind Energy Map. The DOE recently completed a wind survey across the U.S. and found more than enough wind is available to supply all our electric power needs. And that was just with 15 mile per hour wind, measured at a height of 50 meters.

Low-speed wind available is much greater. As T. Boone says, America is the Saudi Arabia of wind power. T. Boone is a Great American, IMHO.

And I disagree on the battery point you raised. AFSTrinity is using an ultra-capacitor with nanotechnology from a professor at MIT. Serious geeks and engineers, there. (Is that arrogance to mention that? I am lost as to the protocol around here...)

I are an en-gun-eer. I have a lot of faith in 'em.

More tonight.

-- Roger E. Sowell, with a BS in BD (beer drinkin)

yall crack me up!

Lolo1 Location: CA
Subject: energyguy

And when you come back please explain the economics of wind and it's impact.

Vic Location: SC

EG is against Nuclear Power because he is a closet eco-idiot masquerading as someone who knows something. He claims to be an engineer responsible for building and selling combined cycle gas turbine plants and that they are the “cheapest” form of generation. They are, in fact, cheap to build and very expensive to operate.

If he is in that business then the obvious reason he is against Nuclear Power, besides being a watermelon, is that they would cut into his profit margin and business.

Lolo1 Location: CA

Well that certainly explains the enormous cost of energy here in California! Highest in the nation!

Too many people like energyguy bring their agendas to work and force them on others.

Ron Location: PA
Subject: If government hadn't

taken half of every business and industries' operating capitol every year since WWII, we would have all these things now. Since our industries didn't have that money, they couldn't spend it on research and development that would have resulted in 60-mph cars, NG-powered cars, 500-mile battery cars, etc.

energyguy #145: If we have all the refining capacity we need, WHY ARE WE IMPORTING GASOLINE???

Vic Location: SC

The high cost of electricity in CA is due to a number of reasons, all of which can be laid at the feet of the Democrap Legislator and “reregulation”. First off, about 50% of CA electricity comes from out of State. This places you at the mercy of the other States for what generation mix you get. Home State utilities always provide their own customers with the cheapest generation while they sell the higher price stuff to their neighbors. For example, in short term contracts a neighboring utility will call and ask if a border utility has any spare generation rather than light off a high priced gas IC Turbine. Let’s say the neighbor has $25.00/MW coal while the buying utility has $250.00/MW gas turbine. They will split the difference, i.e. the utility gets the coal generation at $125/MW.

The other reason is that the only thing CA has put on line has been gas turbine generation. Which, as I said, is expensive to operate.

Another reason is that CA has shutdown all of it’s nuclear generation but one plant and it is slated for shutdown. These plants cost a lot of money to build and now you are getting nothing from them but the bill.

And still another reason is the high cost of transmission in CA. You have to build around high priced real-estate, mountains, and deserts with towers that are somewhat earthquake resistant. And let me tell you, one of the first things to go in an earthquake is the power lines.

Lolo1 Location: CA
Subject: Vic

Oh I am well aware of all of you say and then some since my Dad is retired electrical engineer.

Let me add a couple of things. The PUC is made up of appointed people. Every single one of them is a Democrat! These members, as well as PG&E itself, donate heavily to Feinstein. I think you get the picture.

I was pointing out that the logic, or lack there of, from energyguy is precisely how and why this state is in a mess.

I am waiting to hear from him the economic impact of wind energy on the country as a whole.

Bet he has no clue.

I read what T. Boone Pickens is trying to do from his website. It is not a countrywide solution. He is looking to capitalize on the misery of others, which will create even more misery for future generations.

Vic Location: SC

T. Boone Pickens is doing the time-honored tradition of robber barons in getting the government to help pay for his scheme and getting regulations passed that force people to buy his product. He and his investors have invested millions in building a huge wind farm. Now he wants even more government subsidies and some kind of mandate to force people to buy “wind”. In addition, he wants progress on the so-called “grid upgrade” that would allow his wind power to be moved from Texas to places like NY and CA which are grossly underpowered. The last I saw of that plan it would call for each individual utility to pay for it. That means higher prices for the utilities that it passed through so that the NIMBYs, NAMBYs, and NOPEs could get power and he could sell it.

Lolo1 Location: CA
Subject: Vic

On the money!!!

And wasn't it energyguy that called him a Great American?

He must be brown nosing for a job.

Butcher Location: OH
Subject: Vic what a great insight to it.........

Vic Location: SC
Subject: Lolo

T. Boone Pickens is doing the time-honored tradition of robber barons in getting the government to help pay for his scheme and'
I find that we agree here, ol T. Boone Pickens, are we giving him air time every time we mention hids name??? OL TBP is selling the nation a spiel and not doing good at it.
I have grown past the age of Dinosuar auto's and look forward to the days of clean fuel transportation, but I will be long dead. Shhhhh everyone.
I and I mean myself and my company are looking into self electrified homes. Not death chambers but homes powered by Electric wind generators that already exist. A 12-15KWh generator could supply the average three bedroom 2400 sq.ft home of all its electrical needs, 24/7 so there are alternatives.
In transportation, viable alternatives are coming but far off so we need to drill OS. However I do not believe we need to destroy the ANWR at this point in time, because the figures of available oil say's we do not need it.

ModMark Location: NY
Subject: Nice guy Vic

"EG is against Nuclear Power because he is a closet eco-idiot masquerading as someone who knows something. "

EnergyGuy has come to TH offering his opinion to all and not once have I seen him resort to this typical insults so common with you Townies.

So typical of you and the Townies, just destroy the man and ignore his message.

You just sound like a bitter old man.

Marinero Location: WA
energyguy & wiseone

I'm happy to say that American innovation is still alive and well. As energyguy mentioned, AFS Trinity and Aptera, and perhaps more importantly, http://www.bellbioenergy.com, http://www.ls9.com, and http://www.nanosolar.com. As long as this spirit of innovation exists, and as long as government can stay out of the way enough not to kill it, America will be able to overcome any obstacle.

Energyguy, respectfully disagree with your opposition to nuclear. I'd like to know why you oppose it.

Rich D. Location: PA

"And I disagree on the battery point you raised. AFSTrinity is using an ultra-capacitor with nanotechnology from a professor at MIT. Serious geeks and engineers, there. (Is that arrogance to mention that? I am lost as to the protocol around here...)"

TYhis hybris is 2-3 years out.Their website says the batteries are shot after 10 years. So what do you disagree with? 300 pounds of stuff to recycle? 12 hour battery recharge time? There have been recent articles in IEEE Spectrum.

ModMark Location: NY

Just a minor point, isn't propane an oil product?

Hopefully EnergyGuy comes back tonight to discuss natual Gas, he is really big on this stuff. No nuke he says.

Thank you very much for your straight forward questions, you have my fullest respect sir!

This reply started about 11 p.m. PDT-- energyguy]

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: Replies

ModMark - thanks for coming to my defense in your reply to Vic of 3:31 pm. Vic is rather unhappy, I think, over an exchange he had with me a few days ago re Hugh Hewitt's blog on It's The Oil, Stupid. He advocated nukes, and I did not.

Vic accuses me of being a watermelon, green on the outside, red on the inside! HAH! He is just upset that many refineries built gas-fired, combined cycle cogeneration plants to generate serious power, and took away that business from his beloved utilities. They built nukes, their rates went up, we responded with cogens. Big ones, too, some at 500 megawatts.

Anyone interested, here is the link:
http://www.townhall.com/columnists/HughHewitt/2008/07/11/it s_the_oil,_stupid

Ron at 11:48 am asked, why are we importing gasoline? Answer, it is cheaper. Many refineries in Europe, particularly in Rotterdam, became export refineries to the U.S. rather than shut down when they had over-capacity in EU. We import a lot of unfinished oils, and further refine them into useful products. See EIA. Refiners do a lot of make-or-buy analysis. When it makes sense to buy, we do.

more on next post.

ModMark Location: NY
Subject: By the way Gunny

Shell just canceled a major refinery in Ontario last week. Seems the market condition can't justify a major capital investment.

energyguy Location: CA
Lolo1 at 11:42 a.m.

wrote: "Too many people like energyguy bring their agendas to work and force them on others." -- what agenda? To spread useful information? To draw logical conclusions? To share my experiences? To add ( I hope) to the discussion?

I sorta thought that was a fairly noble purpose of TH blogs.

This forum is a classic example of the marketplace of ideas that our founders so dearly loved. A good idea will withstand scrutiny, and not so good ones will not.

I know I have a target on my back for the positions I take, but I see that as a good thing. Fire away. Vic did. I fired back.

Oh, I forgot to sign off in a Woody-acceptable manner above.

-- Roger E. Sowell, beer drinker.

energyguy Location: CA
Marinero at 4 pm

wants to know why I am opposed to nuclear.

I think my debate with Vic on Hewitt's column (see above) put forth my views pretty well. But, here it is in a nutshell:

Nukes are toxic. Non-believers, please do a search on Karen Silkwood -- she was poisoned by plutonium and died after she sued Kerr-McGee. Nukes create toxic wastes that must be sequestered for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Leaving a toxic legacy for future generations is not playing nice.

Second, nukes are too expensive. As I wrote above, refineries, chemical plants, and other large industries found it much more attractive to build cogens and quit buying power from the utilities due to their nukes.

As ModMark wrote above, new refinery was just cancelled, in part due to soaring construction costs. Nuke plants will have the same cost issues.

And this time, smaller companies and homes have a new option they did not have back then: Distributed Generation. These babies burn natural gas, generate power, produce hot water, heat the home in winter, and cool the house in summer. The geeks and engineers have been busy.

New nuclear power plants will be blocked at every turn. As an attorney, I can assure any readers on TH that the environmental legal eagles got a lot smarter in the last 30 years (I am not one of that group). They can tie up a nuke plant in court battles for years.

-- Roger E. Sowell, beer drinker

energyguy Location: CA
Rich D at 4-something

wrote that hybrid batteries die at 10 years, recycling, etc.

How many cars today last 10 years or longer? 10 years is not a bad life cycle for a battery, I think. And, there are already battery recycling plants, we will just expand their business.

Plus, the geeks and engineers are on it. Better batteries are on the way, the same as with any technology. I point out personal computers (cannot say PC, too many meanings these days). They just get better and better, or cheaper and cheaper for the same performance. Have a little faith in the geeks and engineers. I do. A lot.

-- Roger E. Sowell, beer drinker

GunnyG Location: VA
Subject: ModMark

"Shell just canceled a major refinery in Ontario last week."

Typical cherry pick Mark.

Cost considerations were given as the reason for the project’s cancellation... (Read that to mean taxes, permit fees, payoffs, etc.)

http://lfpress.ca/newsstand/News/Local/2008/07/08/6101076.h tml

CALGARY -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc. has canceled plans to build a new multibillion-dollar refinery near Sarnia, Ontario, due to poor market conditions and surging construction costs, the oil major said Tuesday.

Riding construction costs? Spell that UNIONS.


So between rising construction costs (Unions) and gov't taxes and fees, Shell took their business elsewhere. Gee, go figure.

Marinero Location: WA
thanks energyguy

... for the explanation. I admit I know very little about all this; however, my understanding is that nuke plants are a lot safer than they used to be. They work in France, so why not here? That's a rhetorical question. Anyway, I'm trying to keep an open mind.

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: Wind Power

Someone above wanted to know if I am up on wind-generated power costs.

I am on record as supporting T. Boone Pickens, A Great American, in his wind and natural gas project. Someone criticized me for that statement. Ok, I have a pretty thick skin, you have to in order to survive doing what I do.

To my critic, have you read T. Boone's biography? Do you know he started out dead broke in the oil fields, and made his own fortune that is now worth $4 billion? Do you know he also man-handled Wall Street, buying and selling entire corporations? He is a living legend. I would like to see my critic's credentials.

Now, as to wind power.

Here are some links that are pretty useful.


http://www.eere.energy.gov/windandhydro/windpoweringamerica /

http://www.eere.energy.gov/windandhydro/windpoweringamerica /pdfs/2007_annual_wind_market_report.pdf

This last one was recent, issued May, 2008.

Windmills over a wide area have a fairly good average generation, I have seen numbers (published ones) that state about 30 percent. The costs depend on many factors, how strong the wind is, how big the generator is, and others. They are sufficiently economic that Texas is building them as fast as they can. In a state with more oil and gas than any other.

-- Roger E. Sowell, beer drinker

ModMark Location: NY
Subject: EnergyGuy

My concerns of a no nuke policy.

My biggest concern is if we develop to great of dependence on Natural Gas for producing electric.

While there is plenty of supply now with CNG tanker rolling into our ports and major new finds of gas, how long till global demand for NG is equal with supplies.

Any industry which relies too much on a single source is vulnerable. We are screwed right now with transportation ie cars. Price is skyrocketing and what choice do we have.

The challenge for nukes, build them on budget. Short term make be more expensive but once paid for, they can be a stable source of electrons.

Thanks Gianna for those cheap electrons.

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: More Links - Cogen

Cogen link - good explanation of these things:

http://www.energy-tech.com/index.cfm?PageID=108&c2e=236&e2e =0&rs=0&artid=511

GunnyG: unions may have been part of the problem leading to Shells refinery cancellation, more likely it is the cost of materials. Refinery projects all over the world are seeing doubling and such on costs. I doubt that is due to all the Union workers in the Middle East.

Steel, especially stainless steel, has more than tripled in price recently. Refineries use a lot of it. Concrete, same thing. Copper, same thing. Even the engineering costs are zooming, because of not enough engineers who can design and build a refinery.

Marinero: The French are creating the same toxic legacy with their nukes as we are. Heck, ours work here, too. They run right along, creating toxic radioactives, and putting at least 75 percent of the heat into the air via their cooling towers -- btw, isn't that called Global Warming?

-- Roger E. Sowell, beer drinker

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: Gotta run

will check back tomorrow a.m.

It has been fun.

-- Roger E. Sowell, still a beer drinker.

Lolo1 Location: CA

You do bring your agenda into the workplace. Sorry but I have seen it too many times. Because you think or believe one thing you automatically shoot down others.

I also find it strange that T. Boone Pickens starts doing ads and suddenly we have a new blogger at TH advocating for him.

Reminds me of all the RP supporters.

Lolo1 Location: CA
BTW folks

Heard on the radio today, ABC NEWS, that it would take two years to get the oil to market.

ModMark: Not much of a rant dude! The problem with your oil refinery scenario is the you are right for the wrong reasons. Yes the oil market bottoming out caused the combining and closing of refineries because they could not afford the litigation to repair and keep them up to standards. Same with the oil companies. Notice there are now only five? Competition is being systematically removed from the market which hurts consumers. Now we need the refineries, especially in CA due to cafe standards, but cannot get them. Furthermore if you don't want to give the ME the money and want it to stay here at home, why import and give some other country the same opportunity the ME has?

I would like very much to give them the finger too! But remember they don't care because they have huge markets with India and China. They don't need us.

Ralph Location: CA
Subject: Wind generators are no answer

Shoot! Just when I wanted to put a wind generator on my property thinking it would make me energy (at least for our electrical needs) independent, I hear someone pose real life questions about their viability. First of all, you can't put them onto the electrical grid because if there is a significant output from the wind generator, it could throw the grid off, since it is designed to take a specific electrical load. Additionally, there is no continuous wind at a specific velocity, which adds to the problem. There was more, but the idea of using any wind generator larger than that for single family homes is not practical. Like corn based ethanol, this too is a hoax being foisted on the American people. It is important to examine the details associated with all of these "alternative fuels".

energyguy Location: CA

wrote: "You do bring your agenda into the workplace. Sorry but I have seen it too many times. Because you think or believe one thing you automatically shoot down others.

I also find it strange that T. Boone Pickens starts doing ads and suddenly we have a new blogger at TH advocating for him."

Wrong. Do a search on my handle and TH, see how long I have been posting. I have not seen you on TH, either. Does that make you a newbie?

Have I shot down others? By what means? By name calling? By presenting facts, and making an argument? Lolo1, that is what a debate is all about. Marketplace of ideas. Feel free to shoot at mine, only bring some facts and logic.

You do not have to agree with me, obviously many people don't. But, everyone should have the opportunity to weigh your arguments, against all others. ModMark and I disagree amicably over the proper place of nuclear power.

Gotta run again. Back in the a.m.

-- Roger E. Sowell, beer drinker

energyguy Location: CA

wrote: "Yes the oil market bottoming out caused the combining and closing of refineries because they could not afford the litigation to repair and keep them up to standards. Same with the oil companies. Notice there are now only five? Competition is being systematically removed from the market which hurts consumers. Now we need the refineries, especially in CA due to cafe standards, but cannot get them."

I disagree, and will tell you why. In 1983, there were approximately 300 refineries in the U.S. Today, there are approximately 145. It depends on how we count refineries. Most of the 150 or so that shut down were too small to afford the expense of complying with all the environmental regulations aimed right at refineries. Some of these regulations included full lead removal from gasoline, benzene removal from gasoline, and sulfur removal from diesel. There were others.

The number of oil companies is less due to mergers and acquisitions, for example Exxon with Mobil, Chevron and Texaco. Having fewer refineries, and fewer oil companies are due to completely different reasons.

By your logic, we should never have only three automobile companies, if five oil companies is too few!

Competition to sell a gallon of gasoline is near an all-time high, which helps consumers. Refining companies now exist that were not even here 30 years ago. Alon is one. Others that became major factors include Valero, and Tesoro.

CAFE standards are increasing, which decreases the demand for gasoline if the number of miles driven stays constant. We have an increasing number of cars in California, but many of them do not use gasoline, or are hybrids.

We cannot get refineries? Which gas stations are out of gas in CA? Alon just purchased two refineries in Los Angeles, and will invest mega-millions to run them as one entity. Sounds to me like we are getting them.

-- Roger E. Sowell, beer drinker.

energyguy Location: CA
Subject: Ralph -- at 11:01 pm

You must be kidding, right? If that was satire, very well done! "Windmills are not viable."

If not, then have a look at this site:

http://www.eere.energy.gov/news/news_detail.cfm/news_id=114 24

Note the photo of a wind-generator that is so big it is being installed with a construction crane.

Next, I suggest you do a search on an Images site with keywords Wind Power. Here is one to get you started:

http://images.google.com/images?gbv=2&hl=en&q=wind%20power& um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wi

These photos show an awful lot of windmills operating, with a large amount of private money invested in them, to be "not viable."

I have a new sign-off, courtesy of some old friends who follow this thread. Thanks, guys!
(the first step in refining is boiling crude oil)

-- Roger E. Sowell, SOB. Society of Oil Boilers.

Rich D. Location: PA
Nuclear Power - energyguy

Where have you been? Are you living in the 60s?

Westinghouse near Pittsburgh has been advertising for engineers at their new facility for months to keep up with the demand for their power plants. Two in South Carolina, two in Georgia, four in China,...


http://nuclearinfo.net/twiki/pub/Nuclearpower/WebHomeCostOf NuclearPower/AP1000Reactor.pdf

Construction time is less than 36 months, and generation cost will be 3-3.5 cents/KWhr. It is over 200 times safer than the NRC goals require.

Rich D. Location: PA
Hollyweird, Fonda, and conspiracies

energyguy: Non-believers, please do a search on Karen Silkwood -- she was poisoned by plutonium and died after she sued Kerr-McGee.

Where to start?

She died in a one-car accident. Blood tests performed on Silkwood's body showed that she had 0.35 milligrams of methaqualone (Quaalude) per 100 milliliters of blood at the time of her death. That amount is almost twice the recommended dosage for inducing drowsiness.

NYTimes: "Moreover, as Kerr-McGee officials knew, all fuel rods upon delivery in Washington underwent scrutiny with equipment far more sensitive than that in Oklahoma. To date, according to Westinghouse officials, some 25,000 eight-foot-long fuel rods have been subjected to white-hot temperatures at the core of the reactor. Not one has ruptured."

"In short, the evidence in the case suggests that Miss Silkwood was not a nuclear Joan of Arc but an activist outraged by terrible working conditions who mistook a technician's shortcut for corporate cover-up and eventually became a victim of her own infatuation with drugs. That tale, while not very seductive, at least sticks to the facts."

Regarding fuel:

wiki: "The fuel rods will spend about 3 operational cycles (typically 6 years total now) inside the reactor, generally until about 3% of their uranium has been fissioned, then they will be moved to a spent fuel pool where the short lived isotopes generated by fission can decay away. After about 5 years in a cooling pond, the spent fuel is radioactively and thermally cool enough to handle, and it can be moved to dry storage casks or reprocessed.

Now, energyguy, what modern nuclear plant uses plutonium in the fuel rods?, and how much stock do you have in co-generation companies?

Let them eat darkness.

ModMark Location: NY
Subject: RichD, Nukes

I think EnergyGuy is looking for a debate on this issue, I will even join your side.

I think he is quite conservative, so calling him a lib will not work.

energyguy Location: CA
Rich D

Quoting the NY Times as authority on the Silkwood matter is not persuasive. I read the legal case. There was Plutonium in her urine on repeated occasions. And in her apartment.

Yes, she died alone in a car accident, and a box of papers incriminating her employer, Kerr-McGee, was removed from her car after the accident and never found.

A good summary of the case can be found in the book, "Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury."

If spent nuclear fuel rods are so safe, why then are they not sold at Wal-Mart as poles for kids' basketball hoops?

Why are they to be sequestered "forever" in a remote mountain in the desert?

All this debate over toxicity or safety of nuclear plants is useless, or moot. Environmental attorneys are chomping at the bit to file the lawsuits should any of these ever get approval for construction.

Time will tell, let us wait and see.

The point I made is that public utilities should re-consider foisting off horribly expensive nuclear plants on their rate-payers, like they did last time.

Big industries went off the grid, at least in part, by building cogeneration plants. That is a fact, completely apart from any investments I have.

Did you read the point I made about Distributed Generation? And the point I made to Vic (see the Hewitt column) about the Utility Death Spiral?

Last time I checked, nuclear fission using Uranium creates Plutonium, among other toxic things. Please correct me, if I am mistaken.

I am well aware of the nuclear vendors' claims that they have a good design, it is very safe, and it is relatively cheap and quick to build. Of course they will say all that, it is in their best interest to do so. What should we expect, they will say they are unsafe, too damn expensive, and will take forever to build? Hardly.

Time will tell.

-- Roger E. Sowell, SOB. Society of Oil Boilers.

energyguy Location: CA
Re Cogens

This is for Rich D and Vic, should they still be reading this.

In 2007, the EIA website (see below) had this to say about utilities additions of natural-gas fired, combined cycle cogeneration power plants. Sorta confirms my point:

"New generating capacity added during 2006 totaled 12,129 MW, while retirements totaled 3,458 MW. Natural gas-fired generating units accounted for 8,563 MW or 70.6 percent of capacity additions.

Of that amount, 7,374 MW were highly efficient combined-cycle units. [representing roughly 90 percent of all natural gas installations -- energyguy]

Since the late 1990s, natural gas has been the fuel of choice for the majority of new generating units, resulting in a 99.0 percent increase in natural gas-fired capacity since 1999."


Geeks and engineers. Saviors of Society.

-- Roger E. Sowell, SOB. Society of Oil Boilers.