geothermal

Green energy jobs cost taxpayers only $11 million each

There is an interesting post by David Middleton over at WUWT.  Using data from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Institute for Energy Research (IER), Middleton notes that 2,298 permanent jobs have been created since 2009 on green energy projects in the U.S., mostly solar, wind, and geothermal jobs (see table below). Those jobs were created by $26.32 billion in loan guarantees by DOE.  That comes to $11.45 million per job created.

Middleton says of this: “Clearly, in terms of ‘bang for the buck,’ government programs that coddle renewable energy are losers. In terms of jobs, the losers are the American workers who would otherwise be gainfully employed but for the tremendous waste of taxpayer dollars on the administration’s obsession with ‘green energy.’ As the economy continues to suffer and dollars for federal programs get harder to come by, it is getting increasingly difficult to defend a program that costs so much and produces so little.”

President Obama promised to create 5 million green energy jobs over 10 years.  He has only 4,997,702 jobs to go.

The alleged rationale for these green energy projects is to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide produced by generation of electricity, and indeed they have.   Middleton calculates that U.S. green energy projects have reduced global carbon dioxide emissions by 0.007% relative to coal or 0.00035% relative to natural gas.  Again, not much bang for the buck.  It’s your tax dollars at work.

DOE-loan-losses4

See also:

Solar energy cannot economically compete in electricity generation

Wind turbines versus wildlife

Big Wind gets “get out of jail free card” from Obama Administration

Does alternative energy actually replace fossil fuel consumption?

The Cost of green energy

Health Hazards of Wind Turbines

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The economic impact of Arizona’s renewable energy mandate

In a recent, rather befuddled, guest opinion in the Arizona Daily Star, solar energy advocate Terry Finefrock urges the Arizona Corporation Commission to compel our electric utilities to install more solar energy generation. Finefrock starts his article with this sentence: “I challenge the Arizona Corporation Commission to fairly evaluate all electricity-generation technologies and act to actually reduce ratepayer and taxpayer costs.” I agree with that sentence. Ironically, Finefrock’s call for mandating more solar energy will have the opposite effect.

The Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University in Boston, MA., has been studying the probable impact of renewable energy standards and tariffs (REST) on a state-by-state basis. This month they published their analysis of Arizona’s renewable energy mandate. You can read the entire report here.

They calculate low, medium, and high estimated impacts. Among their findings are:

The current REST rule will raise the cost of electricity by $389 million for the state’s electricity consumers in 2025, within a range of $239 million and $626 million.

The REST mandate will cost Arizona’s electricity consumers $1.383 billion from 2013 to 2025, within a range of $857 million and $2.221 billion.

Arizona’s electricity prices will rise by 6 percent by 2025, within a range of 3.7 percent and 9.7 percent.

These increased energy prices will hurt Arizona’s households and businesses and, in turn, inflict harm on the state economy. In 2025, the REST would:

Lower employment by 2,500 jobs, within a range of 1,500 jobs and 4,100 jobs.

Reduce real disposable income by $334 million, within a range of $202 million and $543 million.

Decrease investment in the state by $38 million, within a range of $23 million and $61 million.

Increase the average household electricity bill by $128 per year; commercial businesses by an average of $686 per year; and industrial businesses by an average of $28,600 per year.

See also:

Petition to Arizona legislature – Dump Renewable Energy MandatesThat post gives six main reasons why we should dump Arizona’s renewable energy mandate. Among those reason are that renewable energy such as solar and wind are much more expensive and very unreliable and the unreliability puts the stability of the electric grid in danger.

Book Review: Energy, Convenient Solutions by Howard Johnson

Howard Johnson, a chemical engineer, provides a comprehensive review of energy systems. He looks at the totality of energy sources, from animal dung to nuclear fusion, and examines the production, transmission, and use of energy, and the pros and cons of each.

The book is about ideas and solutions to our energy problems. “Any solution or group of solutions will be based on total energy systems. The systems involved include power-grid stations, transmission lines, fuel procurement and manufacture, waste disposal, local power generators, vehicles and vehicle power systems, transportation and distribution systems for fuels, and maintenance and repair facilities.”

Johnson laments that we don’t develop more of our own domestic resources. “America has a virtual sea of oil within its borders and around its shores. Thanks to what I believe to be misdirected effort to influence elected officials by some overzealous environmentalists, the most accessible of our known oil fields are off limits to American oil companies.” At the same time, he proposes to transition away from our use of fossil fuels for transportation and electrical power. This reduction in fossil fuel use is not because of any concern over carbon dioxide emissions, rather, Johnson resents our having to give our dollars to unfriendly or despotic foreign countries. He has a section devoted to the global warming issue.

To transition away from fossil fuels, Johnson advocates more use of biofuels, made from non-food sources, and use of geothermal energy. He explains each in detail.

Johnson has a chapter on politics and expresses some well-placed cynicism. “The reality of politics and political ideologies means that many politicians and bureaucrats, who know virtually nothing about energy, energy systems, and the economics of energy, will be making many of the decisions on what systems we use, the vehicles we drive, and how we create and pay for the new infrastructure.”

All in all, this book is a good primer for anyone wanting to learn about energy systems, their potentials and problems.

The book is published by Senesis Word Publishing and is available from Amazon.

Arizona Fires, Floods, Earthquakes, and a Grand Canyon Time line

The Arizona Geological Survey has just released its winter edition of Arizona Geology magazine which is available for free download here. Each story is well-documented with photos and videos.

The lead story is a case study of the June, 2010, Shultz wildfire near Flagstaff which denuded the forest and with heavy rains, lead to flooding. “In June 2010, the Schultz Wildfire burned 15,000 acres of woodland on the east slope of the San Francisco Peaks in the Coconino National Forest. Near record monsoon rains in July and August produced debris flows and floods, the latter of which damaged dozens of homes, caused the temporary evacuation of over 1000 people, and led to one drowning death.”

The story on Arizona earthquakes shows maps of locations and magnitudes of 50 earthquakes recorded in Arizona during 2010. These observations are made possible by the new Arizona Integrated Seismic Network (AISN) which is in its third year in operation. The story tells us why Arizona earthquakes occur where they do. The article also provides a link to discussion and photos of the strong April 4, 2010, earthquake in northern Baja California, just southwest of Yuma.

Until recently, topics concerning geology were mostly absent in the displays and interpretive signs found within Grand Canyon National Park. That omission has now been remedied.

Billed by its creators as “the world’s largest geoscience exhibition at one of earth’s grandest geologic landscapes,” the Trail of Time interprets the geology of Grand Canyon’s spectacular views and its largely inaccessible rocks. The trail leads visitors towards key geologic concepts that can be read in the rocks of the canyon and serves to help people contemplate and more fully appreciate the enormity of geology and the larger meaning of geologic thought. One of the recurrent themes presented on the trail is that of “deep time…”

In the article titled “Summary of Oil and Gas Activity” we learn that oil & gas exploration and production, although small, does occur in Arizona. Additional wells were drilled for geothermal energy exploration and to test for carbon dioxide sequestration.

The Winter edition of Arizona Geology contains very interesting articles. Give it a look at:

http://www.azgs.az.gov/arizona_geology/winter10/arizonageology.html

Book Review: The Energy Gap by Doug Hoffman and Allen Simmons

The Energy Gap is a tour de force review of our energy resources, their potentials, pitfalls, environmental consequences, economics, and politics. The sub-title is “How to solve the world energy crisis, preserve the environment & save civilization.” Well not quite, but it is a start.

After three introductory chapters, the book devotes chapters, in turn, to coal, petroleum, natural gas, wind, solar, and green energy sources such as hydroelectric, geothermal, biomass, and tidal wave power. There are three chapters on nuclear energy including an explanation of the various types of nuclear reactors and the problems of waste disposal. Additional chapters are devoted to transportation, the energy grid, conservation & efficiency, and the politics of energy.

For each form of energy the authors delve into the history of formation, discovery, development, use, and reserves. The book contains over 200 illustrations, and five appendices. It is written in layman’s terms.

The authors promote nuclear energy and suggest that it should gradually replace coal as the major fuel for electrical generation. Although the U.S. has the highest installed wind generating capacity of any nation, about 25,000 MW, the authors say that wind and solar are not likely to become a significant resource because of the very high cost relative to fossil fuels, and because both wind and solar are intermittent and cannot be counted on to provide a steady peak generation capacity. They do promote these alternative types of energy production in niche markets which might have special advantage.

The authors are somewhat naive about mineral economics and worry that we will run out of fossil fuels before we fully develop alternatives. But “the harsh reality is that, other than hydroelectric power, most renewable technologies are not able to compete economically with fossil fuels.”

They present an energy plan which includes:

Use of renewable energy only where it makes sense.

Shift automobile and light truck production to hybrids and electric. This would increase need for electricity by about 15%. (The only reason for this shift is the author’s unsupported belief that we should reduce carbon dioxide emissions. I think this is impractical and people will not buy electric cars until battery technology makes it possible to go 500 miles between charges.)

Accelerate construction of new nuclear generating stations and add reactors to existing plants.

Make buildings more energy efficient.

Expand exploration for oil and natural gas which “will be needed until new nuclear plants can come on-line and our vehicle fleet is switched to electricity.”

The authors specifically say we should avoid biofuels because they cause more environmental damage than fossil fuels. They warn against “clean coal” because the infrastructure costs are too high and the possible hazardous effects of storage are too uncertain. (See my article “Clean Coal”: Boon or Boondoggle for background.

They also warn against methane clathrates because they think frozen deposits of natural gas are too risky to exploit.

While I disagree with some of their proposals, I recommend the book just for its extensive review of energy resources. The book is very up to date on energy technology and even discusses the Gulf oil spill.

The book is available at Amazon.com. The authors also maintain a very interesting website: The Resilient Earth.

For another take on the energy problem see A Free Market Energy Vision from MasterResource.