ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Friday, March 13, 2009

Doubling of Green Energy

One of Barry's initiatives is to double the amount of energy produced by green technologies. This OpEd in the WSJ from Robert Bryce has been on my mind:

Let's Get Real About Renewable Energy
We can double the output of solar and wind, and double it again. We'll still depend on hydrocarbons.
By ROBERT BRYCE

During his address to Congress last week, President Barack Obama declared, "We will double this nation's supply of renewable energy in the next three years."

While that statement -- along with his pledge to impose a "cap on carbon pollution" -- drew applause, let's slow down for a moment and get realistic about this country's energy future. Consider two factors that are too-often overlooked: George W. Bush's record on renewables, and the problem of scale.

By promising to double our supply of renewables, Mr. Obama is only trying to keep pace with his predecessor. Yes, that's right: From 2005 to 2007, the former Texas oil man oversaw a near-doubling of the electrical output from solar and wind power. And between 2007 and 2008, output from those sources grew by another 30%.

Mr. Bush's record aside, the key problem facing Mr. Obama, and anyone else advocating a rapid transition away from the hydrocarbons that have dominated the world's energy mix since the dawn of the Industrial Age, is the same issue that dogs every alternative energy idea: scale.

Let's start by deciphering exactly what Mr. Obama includes in his definition of "renewable" energy. If he's including hydropower, which now provides about 2.4% of America's total primary energy needs, then the president clearly has no concept of what he is promising. Hydro now provides more than 16 times as much energy as wind and solar power combined. Yet more dams are being dismantled than built. Since 1999, more than 200 dams in the U.S. have been removed.

If Mr. Obama is only counting wind power and solar power as renewables, then his promise is clearly doable. But the unfortunate truth is that even if he matches Mr. Bush's effort by doubling wind and solar output by 2012, the contribution of those two sources to America's overall energy needs will still be almost inconsequential.

Here's why. The latest data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show that total solar and wind output for 2008 will likely be about 45,493,000 megawatt-hours. That sounds significant until you consider this number: 4,118,198,000 megawatt-hours. That's the total amount of electricity generated during the rolling 12-month period that ended last November. Solar and wind, in other words, produce about 1.1% of America's total electricity consumption.
[...]
That issue aside, the scale problem persists. For the sake of convenience, let's convert the energy produced by U.S. wind and solar installations into oil equivalents.

The conversion of electricity into oil terms is straightforward: one barrel of oil contains the energy equivalent of 1.64 megawatt-hours of electricity. Thus, 45,493,000 megawatt-hours divided by 1.64 megawatt-hours per barrel of oil equals 27.7 million barrels of oil equivalent from solar and wind for all of 2008.

Now divide that 27.7 million barrels by 365 days and you find that solar and wind sources are providing the equivalent of 76,000 barrels of oil per day. America's total primary energy use is about 47.4 million barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Of that 47.4 million barrels of oil equivalent, oil itself has the biggest share -- we consume about 19 million barrels per day. Natural gas is the second-biggest contributor, supplying the equivalent of 11.9 million barrels of oil, while coal provides the equivalent of 11.5 million barrels of oil per day. The balance comes from nuclear power (about 3.8 million barrels per day), and hydropower (about 1.1 million barrels), with smaller contributions coming from wind, solar, geothermal, wood waste, and other sources.

Here's another way to consider the 76,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day that come from solar and wind: It's approximately equal to the raw energy output of one average-sized coal mine.
[...]

Read the whole thing... but, I decided that, while Mr. Bryce's article presents a compelling argument that hydrocarbons will always be with us, I think it's instructive to put his analysis in a picture - a simple chart showing the energy output by source, all represented in equivalent barrels of oil.

The following chart illustrates Obama's ambition regarding green energy over the next 3 years. Click image for full-size version):


As you can see, even a doubling of our current output will mean that green technology is still a trivial percentage (~0.3%) of our total energy requirements, meaning that the true impact to CO2 emissions, global climate change, etc. will be non-existent.

The question is whether Obama's plans are not only to "double" the output of green energy, but to further reduce the use of all other types of energy.

Or, put another way, to control your use of energy, from dawn to dusk dawn which, in effect, means controlling you.


Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Obama: Mission Accomplished

From the AP

Obama: Economic crisis 'not as bad as we think'
Mar 12 06:49 PM US/Eastern
By JIM KUHNHENN
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Confronting misgivings, even in his own party, President Barack Obama mounted a stout defense of his blueprint to overhaul the economy Thursday, declaring the national crisis is "not as bad as we think" and his plans will speed recovery.

Challenged to provide encouragement as the nation's "confidence builder in chief," Obama said Americans shouldn't be whipsawed by bursts of either bad or good news and he was "highly optimistic" about the long term.

The president's proposals for major health care, energy and education changes in the midst of economic hard times faced skepticism from both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, as senators questioned his budget outlook and the deficits it envisions in the middle of the next decade.
[...]
Using the politics of fear to sell his socialist agenda fooled the people a few weeks ago, but they won't be fooled a second time - and Obama knows this. It's difficult to convince people that across the board tax increases (in the form of higher energy costs) are good when the economy is still in the tank, so Barry has (prematurely) declared "Mission Accomplished" regarding his infant stimulus bill.

Barry - You own it.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Amateur Hour

This story is very troubling:


Barack Obama 'too tired' to give proper welcome to Gordon Brown

Barack Obama's offhand approach to Gordon Brown's Washington visit last week came about because the president was facing exhaustion over America's economic crisis and is unable to focus on foreign affairs, the Sunday Telegraph has been told.

By Tim Shipman in Washington
Last Updated: 10:03PM GMT 07 Mar 2009

Sources close to the White House say Mr Obama and his staff have been "overwhelmed" by the economic meltdown and have voiced concerns that the new president is not getting enough rest.

British officials, meanwhile, admit that the White House and US State Department staff were utterly bemused by complaints that the Prime Minister should have been granted full-blown press conference and a formal dinner, as has been customary. They concede that Obama aides seemed unfamiliar with the expectations that surround a major visit by a British prime minister.

But Washington figures with access to Mr Obama's inner circle explained the slight by saying that those high up in the administration have had little time to deal with international matters, let alone the diplomatic niceties of the special relationship.
I don't know what's worse, that Obama is overwhelmed by the office or that all of his administration's time has been devoted to what is a disastrous economic policy. I had originally hoped that their economic policies had been designed by the Obama daughters and their intellectual counterpart, Nancy Pelosi - but to learn that it has in truth been the product of the administration's full attention is cause for concern.
Allies of Mr Obama say his weary appearance in the Oval Office with Mr Brown illustrates the strain he is now under, and the president's surprise at the sheer volume of business that crosses his desk.

A well-connected Washington figure, who is close to members of Mr Obama's inner circle, expressed concern that Mr Obama had failed so far to "even fake an interest in foreign policy".
Well, that's reassuring. I seem to recall a lot of ink & bits being dispensed to claim that President George W. Bush was a simpleton in over his head; yet we have a clear demonstration of incompetence and it barely gets coverage in the US.
A British official conceded that the furore surrounding the apparent snub to Mr Brown had come as a shock to the White House. "I think it's right to say that their focus is elsewhere, on domestic affairs. A number of our US interlocutors said they couldn't quite understand the British concerns and didn't get what that was all about."

The American source said: "Obama is overwhelmed. There is a zero sum tension between his ability to attend to the economic issues and his ability to be a proactive sculptor of the national security agenda.

"That was the gamble these guys made at the front end of this presidency and I think they're finding it a hard thing to do everything."
[...]
But they concede that the mood music of the event was at times strained. Mr Brown handed over carefully selected gifts, including a pen holder made from the wood of a warship that helped stamp out the slave trade - a sister ship of the vessel from which timbers were taken to build Mr Obama's Oval Office desk. Mr Obama's gift in return, a collection of Hollywood film DVDs that could have been bought from any high street store, looked like the kind of thing the White House might hand out to the visiting head of a minor African state.

Reminds me of a situation where you show up at a new acquaintance's Christmas party with an extravagant gift that you've carefully selected to make the best impression and realize that there was a spending cap of $10.

Perhaps that was indeed the case in this instance. Amazon has a sale on right now...

For more information on our gift snub to the Brits, check out Mark Steyn. It is a must read.

Back to the UK's Telegraph.
Mr Obama rang Mr Brown as he flew home, in what many suspected was an attempt to make amends.

The real views of many in Obama administration were laid bare by a State Department official involved in planning the Brown visit, who reacted with fury when questioned by The Sunday Telegraph about why the event was so low-key.

The official dismissed any notion of the special relationship, saying: "There's nothing special about Britain. You're just the same as the other 190 countries in the world. You shouldn't expect special treatment." The apparent lack of attention to detail by the Obama administration is indicative of what many believe to be Mr Obama's determination to do too much too quickly.
This is a shocking statement, given the history between the two countries, including their support for US national security policies.

If these are the people that are representing our country overseas, we are truly doomed.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler