Sunday, July 20, 2008

Gerson, Michael -- Environment

This exchange was on 7-18-08 on Michael Gerson's column titled Will The Environment Survive Environmentalists?

energyguy in CA wrote:
Subject: We Can Fix Anything

We were taught in the 1960s in grade school that the earth was entering another ice age, but not to worry. We now have airplanes that can spread charcoal dust on the ice to absorb solar heat and melt it all away.

At the time, that seemed very impressive to my 9-year old mind.

I wonder why, or if, we can do the opposite and paint the areas white that formerly had ice and snow? Would this combat global warming -- assuming it exists?

I keep reading that the Earth's temperature is all about its reflectivity, or albedo. Maybe we can just adjust the albedo and burn all the fossil fuel we can find.

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

Sandrob wrote:

Subject: Hey energyguy

You have always impressed me with your knowledge in the field of oil and natural gas.
However, I never realized you had such a sense of humor! LOL

Energyguy wrote:

Not Just CO2

The book "Unstoppable Global Warming - Every 1500 Years" has some pretty good information to use when debunking the AGW myths.

One of the best facts in that book is that the stone docks at Rome that were used in the time of Julius Caesar are now about 4 feet underwater. Ocean apparently rose since then. Julius Caesar died in 44 B.C.

It is great fun to ask the Al Gore believers to explain that one.

Here are some facts I have never seen written, discussed, or posted anywhere on GW.

First, burning fossil fuels creates water. Yup. Some reading this may remember I am a chemical engineer, so I believe I am qualified to calculate this.

The fossil fuels are hydrocarbons, meaning they are made up of carbon and hydrogen atoms (mostly). When burned, each combines with oxygen from the air. The carbon becomes Carbon Dioxide, and the hydrogen becomes H2O, known as water vapor. The water vapor eventually condenses into water and adds to the volume already in the oceans.

Man has made a heckuva lot of water this way. We have made thus far about 7 cubic miles of water. It raised the oceans about 0.00001 inches. So far. Shhh...don't tell Al Gore.

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

Energyguy wrote:

Subject: Not Just CO2 - pt 2

Second, burning fossil fuel (coal, oil, natural gas, wood, etc) generates heat. So does running a nuclear reactor. Nukes in power plants waste 75 to 80 percent of their total heat generated. The waste heat goes right out the cooling tower, and heats up the environment.

Other power plant systems, especially combined cycle cogeneration plants, are far more effective at using their fuel to make power. Much less heat ends up in the environment. A cogen plant puts about 20 to 25 percent of the heat from fuel burned into the environment.

We have proven technologies to produce power that do not generate any waste heat (ok, very very little). These technologies include wind-generated power, solar power, ocean and river current power, and wave power.

I had a liberal argue with me that solar power does TOO generate waste heat! After all, it gets HOT! As the great humorist Bill Engvall would say, Here's Your Sign.

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

Modmark in NY wrote:


"The book "Unstoppable Global Warming - Every 1500 Years" has some pretty good information to use when debunking the AGW myths. "

The question I always raise, how does the argument of "the Earth is in a warming cycle" invalidates the CO2 theory?

I can accept that the earth may indeed be in a warming cycle which may be accelerated by CO2 emmision. Please note the care use of the word may.

This may be the worst case?

Firetoice in NC wrote:

Subject: energyguy

Wind turbines produce power when the wind blows, which is not necessarily when the power is needed. Current technology wind turbines have ~35% availability; and, ~25% capacity factor. Of course, you could attach an alarm to the power output circuit, to wake you if necessary when there was power available, so that you could do what you needed to do with the available power.

The answer, my friend, is not "blowin' in the wind".

Energyguy wrote:


Greetings. I have not yet exchanged views with you. It is a pleasure.

You make some valid points. Sometimes the wind blows too much. And, wind is not always blowing. I do a lot of sailing, and that is a key concern of sailors. Generally more beer drinking happens with no wind.

But, we have ways to compensate. I cannot go into specifics on some new technologies as they are soon to be patented. But, without violating confidentiality, I can say that excess power from wind-generated energy can be stored. And, stored in vast amounts. Or, stored in a garage in just the right amounts for home use the next day, or next week.

Energy from solar power can also be stored. There is an operating solar power plant in Arizona that generates power 24/7. It creates and stores hot oil.

The same with wave power.

I believe your concern is that, once we get to where wind-power generation provides all our off-peak power, how does that work?

First, that day is a long way off. Current data shows that wind-generated power is about 1 percent of all power generation in the U.S. Other countries are farther along, see the AWEA website.

We would need to get about 50 percent of our power from wind before this is a big concern. If wind-generated power were to double every year, that would take about 7 to 8 years. That is very unlikely to happen that fast.

Second, we already use excess power at night in some states (like CA) to pump river water uphill and into lakes. The water is used the next day for power generation in hydroelectric plants.

There are lots of other ways to store energy. It is just a matter of what is financially most attractive.

Geeks and engineers. Saviors of society.

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

ModMark Location: NY

energyguy, why store solar power

Certainly far in the future if solar is a dominate power source but..

Take So. Cal for example. What is your peak power demands?

Projects like Stirling Energy seems a perfect for for peak power generation in California. When was the skies overcast in the Majove desert?

Solar is great since it produces power during the highest demand times (ok, late afternoon is a bit off time wise).

energyguy Location: CA

Subject: ModMark -- 10:40 am

I think of it this way.

A grown elephant is walking down a hill. An ant falls from a leaf and lands on the elephant's back.

Does the ant cause the elephant to walk faster, or run down the hill? Or does the elephant even notice the ant?

Natural warming effects are the elephant. Man-made CO2 is the ant. More like a speck of dust on the ant's leg.

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

energyguy Location: CA


Ah, you are in NY, a long way away. It rains virtually every summer in the desert. We get flash floods, dry lakes get full, all sorts of chaos in the desert. Rattlesnakes get annoyed.

It rained pretty hard just last week, had a mudslide on the east slope of the Sierras.

Peak power demand in SoCal can be found on the website

Our peak runs around 48000 MegaWatts in the summer.

Why store solar power? Because it makes economic sense.

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

ModMark Location: NY


"Why store solar power? Because it makes economic sense."

But in what case?

If you are selling electrons ie: an utility, your customers always are willing to buy them so just ship them off to the grid. Save on fuel cost and turn down the NG turbines till the sun sets.

Now if you have a excess of solar created electrons, store them.

As a fellow sailor, I spent many long weekends trying to live off battery power with a family of four. It is the curse of many boater to see the frig go warm "-)

ModMark Location: NY

Concerning GW, I have an interesting view but back to coping crown molding (agh...). I should be on a boat.

Hope you check back later.


firetoice Location: NC

Subject: energyguy

Nice to make your acquaintance as well.

In the PJM area, spot power prices can actually go negative during overnight periods. This is true because the instantaneous demand during those hours is less than the minimum net power produced by the baseload powerplants which are kept online overnight because they will be needed the next day and their shutdown and startup times are quite long.

Wind power added to the mix during those periods would have negative value to the utility. It would not cause the utility to actually go through a shutdown / startup cycle on their baseload generators. Therefore, the market for night wind power is actually the difference between the sum of the utility's minimum net power production and their customer's coincident power demand. That difference may be quite small, or even negative.

I understand pumped storage and am aware of other potential approaches. However, building new pumped storage facilities is almost as tough as siting a new nuke. Compressed air storage would probably be easier to permit.

I think it is very important to assure that we are looking at the entire picture, long term, before we begin implementing "solutions" to problems.

Don't begin vast programs with half-vast ideas.

energyguy Location: CA

Half-vast Ideas

You aint seen nuttin yet.

The eere website,, has an area where they discuss energy storage. Those are just the published ones. There is a lot of private venture capital chasing the inventors and their top-secret ideas.

I know this sounds rather like James Bond, but it is serious business. The inventor who cracks the energy storage nut will make Bill Gates look poor.

Many people have forgotten how to dream big...and make their dreams a reality. T. Boone Pickens is one who has not. Those guys at, and at, do pretty well also. They all have that can-do spirit, not waiting around for some government program to give them a handout.

As someone above wrote (firetoice?) the answers are not blowin' in the wind. Wanna bet? A far better tune for these times is "The Times They Are A-Changin."

Yes, elevated water storage is one idea, also compressed air in underground caverns. By the way, big air compressors run at around 72 percent efficiency. Something seems horribly wrong with a compressor that gets 4 percent as posted above.

One way to use the compressed air is as feed to a gas turbine the next day. When properly used, as in a combined cycle cogeneration plant, the cycle efficiency increases.

Geeks and engineers. Saviors of society.

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

energyguy Location: CA

Subject: Info for Vic re Cogen

Vic and I had a spirited disagreement over the proper role of gas-fired, combined-cycle cogeneration plants the other day on Hugh Hewitt's column Its The Oil, Stupid.

Here is an excerpt and citation regarding that, from the EIA in 2007. I believe this confirms my viewpoint:

"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. [roughly 90 percent of all new natural-gas capacity -- 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.

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