Showing posts from March, 2015

Only Advisers

Through the magic of Twitter, I was having yesterday an interesting conversation with a Greenpeace member in New Zealand. However, the magic of Twitter is limited to 140 character bites so here I am trying to give a little bit more depth to the interaction. Off the bat my Kiwi friend dismissed any arguments from scientists that are not on the "approved scientists list" or rather that are in the "forbidden list" for whatever reason.  One such case is Richard A. Muller. The reason for "banning" him is that he is purportedly paid by the Koch brothers. I wonder if being paid by a government agency makes a scientist automatically more credible...  Well, I've just read his book, Energy for Future Presidents and his conclusions hardly match those of an official "denier." In particular, in this book he categorically concludes that:  1. Global warming is real.  2. Global warming is caused almost exclusively by CO2 in the atm

Renewable Manifesto

At this moment, this is a humble project Mark Cojuangco and I are beginning since we are concerned with the chaotic way in which renewable  energy expenditures are being made in some countries. We are worried that this undisciplined approach may propagate, unchecked, to the rest of the world and do more harm than good. In particular, we could see important increases in electricity prices, reductions in investment / maintenance of our current reliable generators / electrical grids, and negative environmental impacts. Plus, all of these consequences may be for little, if any, reductions is CO2 emissions.  Thus, we thought about creating a "Renewable Manifesto." This is the first draft. Feel free to contribute to it / criticize it on Twitter. Renewable Manifesto 1. We are not opposed in principle to renewables .* Every technology should be allowed to compete on its merits in the global energy markets. Governments should not select winners / losers fr

Bending Over Backwards

If CO2 emissions are warming the planet, then humanity's scorecard in this respect should be: total fossil fuels consumption. Is our total consumption of fossil fuels dropping? No. Actually it is increasing. What is more, every year, fossil fuels are farther ahead, in absolute terms, vs. all other energy sources combined. You might say: this is not possible! By listening to the media you probably believe the hype that solar and wind are taking the energy markets by storm.  Well, they aren't. Here we have data from the 2014 International Energy Agency report: One of the problems in energy reporting is that there is a lot of hype / PR / lobbying from the renewable energy camp and they bend over backwards in painful positions to try convince the world they are conquering it. For example, they say: "Germany produced 50% of its electricity with solar!" Yes, but what is not mentioned is that this percentage was achieved in a particular i

Moon Landing Hoax

First let me state, off the bat, that I have no doubt the moon landings happened.  I mean, it was easier to put a man on the moon than, say, produce an iPhone (and that is why the iPhone came to be almost 40 years later).  Do we doubt the iPhone exists? I don't think so. However, the reason I mention "the moon landing hoax" is to underline the difference between this discussion and Global Warming. "The moon landing hoax" is purely an intellectual exercise. It doesn't matter if one side (or the other one) is right, you don't have to hurry to defend your pocket. It will cost you nothing whether it is one or the other. On the other hand, in the Global Warming discourse things are very different and a lot is at stake. If the alarmists win and end up directing energy policy, YOU personally could be ruined and thus your family will suffer the consequences.  Why? First, let's also state this off the bat: we cannot now replace fo

Losing My Religion

I used to be the greatest believer ever in solar power. I hand made my first solar panel (not the one in the picture) close to 40 years ago by buying the individual cells at Radio Shack (obviously, eons before it went bankrupt) and carefully assembling them with surplus material. Those panels were made to last forever! Also, I have to confess, I feared nuclear energy more than the devil. Today, I still consider solar PV an almost magical energy source: without a single moving part, you are producing electricity directly from sunlight. However, due to its important limitations (mainly intermittency, unreliability and low energy density), solar will not take over the energy market. It will remain a niche player and that is OK. We don't need to go crazy with solar. On the other hand, today I'm a full nuclear convert and firmly believe it will eventually supply more than 50% of humanity's total primary energy. The only real question is the time frame.

Hit The Wall at 120 KPH

When Craig Barrett was the CEO of Intel, he said something like: "we will not reduce our speed, if it comes to it we will hit the wall at 120 kph." I'm not sure how much fossil fuel use increases the average temperature of the Earth, but it is probably safe to state that "we will not reduce our speed." Fossil fuels dominate, by far, the energy market and the reason is mainly one: they are very good.  Fossil fuels are cheap, abundant, dense, versatile, reliable, constant, and the global infrastructure has been made mostly for them. There is no way we will stop using them by 2050, or 2080, or... What is more, in absolute terms, fossil fuels have been growing faster than all the alternatives combined. So even though we hear lots of PR stating that the world is going solar (or wind), in absolute terms, FF have never been farther ahead. Never. Worse, every time more solar or wind capacity is added to a grid, it essentially "locks-in&qu