Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Forecast –Misanthropic with A Chance of Perception

I noticed at The Globe and Mail site an article, on yet another Climate Change study, which began “Climate change will have the greatest effect on those least responsible for causing the problem, a new study suggests.”  The most successful parts of the planet did industrialize early, and the most productive countries have tended to be northern.  I think we could spot a coincidence, if we weren’t looking for a morality tale.  The modeling seems designed to leave the impression that wealthier societies are villains.
There is a study done for National Geographic, the Greendex.   The Greendex Housing index includes such factors as: is the house heated; does it contain an "energy-saving television"; does it purchase “green” electricity.  What I found interesting was the survey question “Owning a Big House Is a Very Important Goal in My Life.”  20% of Indians strongly agreed, and another 28% somewhat agreed, and in China, the figures also came close to half (16% and 30%).  In Canada only 5% strongly agreed it was an important goal, and another 8% somewhat agreed. 
Increased electricity consumption in the house in the past year:  India and China were in the top 3.
Increased fuel consumption, they were 2 of the top 4.

Societies pulling themselves up out of poverty were using us profligate wasters as the ideal of what a wealthy society was.  I read a description of the Copenhagen meeting being an attempt to structure the transfer of wealth from the poor of rich countries to the rich of poor countries.  China lobbied to be a champion of Africa going into Copenhagen, to argue specifically that position - if not simply handed cash, the developing world needed to be free to pollute as the developed world had.  And they are.  China, currently meeting on it’s pending 5-year plan, got some nice press last week, but closer looks reveal numbers such as a planned 48GW of wind capacity, and solar capacity of 5GW, more than offset by 260GW of additional coal generation.

I assumed it would be increasingly clear that if we wanted a world with fewer emissions, we’d need to find ways to create, and define, wealth in ways that had fewer emissions.  If energy consumption is evil, the developing world wants in on villainy.  Self-flagellation amongst the wealthy isn’t going to accomplish anything.

Another article came out of McGill on the weekend, “Get Smart.”  Apparently Nikola Tesla was Electric Jesus and he would want a smart grid.  Electric Jesus isn’t presented as the brightest bulb in the chandelier.  This article follows the rule that the higher the price, and the weaker the value proposition, the more likely the term “real” will be used to justify cost.  The real cost of an electricity system in a regulated environment is mostly the cost of the infrastructure to meet peak demand (not so much the incremental cost of the next kW itself, despite ECO 101).  Severin Borenstein noted in one study, “in an electric system that must always stand ready to meet all demand at the retail price, the cost of a constant-price structure is the need to hold substantial capacity that is hardly ever used. But utilities optimize by building "peaker plants" for this purpose, capacity that has low capital cost and high operating cost. The social cost of holding idle capacity of this form turns out to be not as great as one might think.”  

Especially if it already exists.  In Ontario, we must be ready to meet around 26000MW of demand during a summer’s day.   “Get Smart” notes the blackout of 2003.  At 3pm August 14th, 2003, Ontario demand was 23891MW.  Production was 21846MW.  This year the IESO forecast is for around the same peak consumption, unless we have extreme heat; 23561MW in normal weather, and 25941MW for extreme weather.   That leaves about 2500MW of capacity, to meet possible demand, in extreme conditions, that we aren’t likely to need.  In 2003 demand exceeded 23500MW only 31 hours, in 2008 it was only exceeded 11 hours, and in 2009 only 7.  The cost of the savings from smart grid technologies needs to be measured against the cost of the marginal capacity.  We are replacing cheap supply, for the last 2500MW of marginal capacity, with the most expensive.  What will be the global lesson of Ontarians lowering their standard of living by removing 4GW of coal capacity as China increases theirs by adding 260GW?  I think it is a net negative.  The crucial measurement has to be the benefit to Ontarians in the present tense, and for that attempting not to use coal is a noble goal – replacing coal with expensive sources that don’t match capacity requirements is not.
Speaking of Electric Jesus, and expensive, another recent article indicated the “Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario (CFFO) says a number of farmers who have invested or borrowed money to install solar panels on their farms have been treated unfairly in the province's relentless push toward green energy.”  This one has me at a loss as I was unaware of Christians disavowing the Golden Rule – and I don’t believe anybody selling electricity to their neighbours, collectively, at over 60 cents/kWh, is paying more than 7 or 8 cents/kWh for electricity supply themselves.   The article makes the same argument made, last summer, when the government attempted retroactive roll-backs on the FIT because of these horrid ground mount arrays being snuck into the category meant for urban rooftop installations last summer.  If they didn’t have a contract, firm, whether or not the government intended on awarding them one should not be relevant.

The green religion seems to have a basic tenet that small is better.  I’ve been to a couple of sessions regarding some large solar farms awarded FIT contracts in my area.  I’d been led to believe, by opponents of the installations, that lots of topsoil would be stripped away and enormous amounts of concrete poured.  I may have been bluffed by Recurrent Energy, but that didn’t look to be the case when I asked them about it – and it didn’t seem to be the case because they weren’t mounting the panels on trackers (equipment for moving the panels about like some technological devotees half prostrated to their solar deity).  The big installations don’t use trackers because it isn’t cost effective at 44.3 cents/kWh.  Smaller, at 20-38 cents/kWh more, seems worse.


  1. I go to see each day a few websites and sites to read articles or reviews, except this web site
    offers quality based content.

    Also visit my page bestand

  2. Just want to say your article is as surprising. The clearness for your
    post is just cool and that i could think you are knowledgeable in this subject.
    Well along with your permission let me to seize your feed to keep up to date with approaching post.
    Thanks a million and please keep up the enjoyable work.

    Here is my weblog ... buy rec solar panels

  3. magnificent post, very informative. I'm wondering why the opposite experts of this sector don't notice this.

    You should continue your writing. I'm sure, you have a huge readers'
    base already!

    My homepage: www.onitcollege.edu.ng

  4. Simply desire to say your article is as amazing.
    The clearness in your post is just great and i can assume you're an expert on this subject. Well with your permission allow me to grab your RSS feed to keep updated with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please continue the rewarding work.

    Feel free to visit my blog post; buy solar panels montreal

  5. Hi! Do you know if they make any plugins to help with Search Engine Optimization?
    I'm trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I'm not seeing very good gains.

    If you know of any please share. Appreciate it!

    my homepage :: ranger forum

  6. Heya i am for the primary time here. I found this board
    and I to find It truly useful & it helped me out a lot.
    I hope to give one thing back and aid others like you aided me.

    Here is my web blog; Stretch mark Lotion

  7. wonderful issues altogether, you simply won a new reader.
    What might you suggest about your submit that you made some days
    in the past? Any certain?

    my web site :: raspberry ketone diet

  8. This design is steller! You certainly know how to keep a reader entertained.
    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my
    own blog (well, almost...HaHa!) Great job. I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how
    you presented it. Too cool!

    My blog: stretch mark Removal and home remedy

  9. Last is one of the most challеnging but also one of the most rewarding positions of all iո the Kama Sutrɑ.
    Avoid more than аn odd drink, that too only if your
    pаrtner is okay with it. Ӏf you are angry, spenɗ time аlone if necessary
    but don't speak սntil you've геgaiոed youг control and yoս're
    able to think more гаtionally.

    Feel free to visit my web page: Text Your Wife Intߋ Bеd Dowոload - Blogspot.Com,