I have been perplexed to learn about all the wonders awaiting us just over the horizon. I speak of course of all the energy we will soon reap from renewables, solar, wind and ceramic receivers and possibly dilithium crystals. It may be glorious.
When I read about all the ways we can avoid using carbon based fuel to generate electricity and power all our needs I have some unease. I don’t think the facts comport with the promises of generation via renewables.
My reading of the European experience and our own actual experience leads me to suspect we will fall far short of our requirements. The European’s embraced renewables a decade ago, Solar and Wind. What the members of the EU found individually and as a group was not comforting. Solar generated about 25% of nameplate rating and Wind about 30% of nameplate rating.
That is a pretty wide discrepancy and has caused a great hardship for the people who pay the rates. While some allowance can be made for a more northern clime the shortfall is average from Spain to Greece, Italy, Germany and England as well. Germany dismantled their coal-fired plants with vigor and all countries rushed with eliminating conventional power generation. Energy bills increased by 3 to 4 % minimum per year and have caused German Industry to look for greener pastures, fortunately the American south.
Most of the EU countries depend on trading around the world and the cost of production is a major factor to remaining competitive, energy use and regulation reduce the competitive appeal in international markets. Trying to compete with higher labor cost as well as expensive energy has led to decreasing income.
Now California with the 8th largest economy in the World, it was 6th but The Party has “improved” our condition. The Party has decreed we will power our vehicles, trains, automobiles, and trucks with renewable electricity. We will heat and cool our homes and businesses with renewables as well and all the items in our homes, and businesses, for those who stay. Those numbers are declining for the first time since records have been kept.
Leaving California, but why? Our esteemed Governor has assured us energy costs will continue to rise under his vision. California was the home of the computer industry as well as much of its spawn. Now we are only a swank address for these pioneering firms because the actual cost of producing, living and compliance is far to high. Our Governor and Legislature has many vital issues to deal with and may not realize that most of their schemes will require the consumption of energy, mostly electricity.
You may have read of the Ivanpah power plant near Las Vegas but inside California or perhaps the Crescent Dunes plant near Tonopah, Nev. Both are marvels, using 1000’s of individually focused mirrors to reflect sunlight to a boiler several hundred feet in the air. A high tech, high elevation, high priced idea. Unfortunately Ivanpah had poor weather/climate data, underestimated cloudy and overcast days and uses so much gas to fire the boiler it falls under the Cap & Trade regulations, just like a coal or gas plant located closer to earth. The Crescent Dunes plant is scheduled to go on line by the end of the year we are hopeful their weather/ climate data came from a different prognosticator.
What this leads me to is the conviction that we are heading for a real energy shortage in California and just in time for an additional pressing need, El Niño! Rains tend to occur under grey skies, lots of rain lots less sunlight. Wind? Turbines have excessive wind constraints.
The Good News?
There should be lots of need for trucking to remove the earth from slides, floods and washed out roads. Concrete to provide replacement structures and all using affordable, reliable and understood carbon based fuel.