Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Renewable Energy Unintended Consequesces

The Telegraph (link here) has an excellent summary of the problems Germany is having with their wind energy system and it serves as a warning for the US and UK.

Electricity is a unique commodity. It must be used as soon as it is generated. And if there is a demand for more, that demand must be met instantaneously. In order to meet the requirement to respond to changes in electrical demand, power companies use a mix of generating systems. Large steam systems, including nuclear plants, like to have a constant load. However, the electrical load changes throughout the day and to respond to these changes, power companies must have plants that can react quickly to changes, such as as gas turbine driven generators.

The problem they are finding out in Germany is that wind turbine and solar power output can change according to the weather. Because they cannot rely upon these weather dependent systems to provide electricity when needed, they have to back them up with conventional power generation that can respond quickly. This means that the conventional units have to be running and on line - and that means they are usually running at low output most of the time. Running at low outputs means that these plants are running at low efficiency and costing more to operate.

So here's the unintended consequence: in order to have "green" energy you have to run a carbon technology plant at low efficiency to provide backup to the green system. This results in more carbon emissions and higher expense for the customer.

As the article describe, power companies in Germany are beginning to push back against the green requirements. We should pay attention to what is happening over there because they are the future of Obama's lust for green energy.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Remember this.......


Brother in Law is about 300 miles from the end of the Appalachian Trail. He made it over Mount Washington in some pretty cold weather and finished the Presidentail Range in the dark. I'd been watching the weather on Mount Washington and was a little concerned as the temps were well into hypothermia range and he was overdue for a check in. My concern increased when I learned the highest shelter on the mountain, Lake in the Clouds, had been closed for the season.When I talked to him, he was stuffing his face at a chinese buffet in Gorham , NH.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Bomb Scares

Someone called in a bomb scare to LSU yesterday. 30,000 students evacuated the campus causing massive traffic jams in Red Stick. I'm told by my niece, who was in that scrum, that Mike the Tiger was evacuated before the warning was issued to the students. Can't have Mike in danger and mixing a tiger into the traffic jam was probably not a good idea.

I wonder if we are again in for a spate of bomb scare calls. When I was a student in the late 60s, the SDS was famous for calling in bomb scares to the various campuses in Beantown. It was like the boy who cried wolf - there were so many false alarms that we became immune to them. I was in a fluid dynamics lecture when a guy came to the door and told the professor that a bomb scare had been called in for our building. Prof looked at the walls and the ceiling and informed us that the walls looked strong and that he was going to continue with his lecture but we were free to go if we wanted to. None of us left - missing the lecture would have put us behind the curve and nobody was willing to risk that.

Years later I was working for Big Oil. I was responsible for pipelines and I kept a tool in my office. It was an underwater pinger. We used to to find pipeline breaks. You send the thing down the pipeline and when it pops out at the break, you can locate it with sonar. It was cylindrical, painted blue and had a chain on one end. There was a short spate of anger against the oil companies in the 80s and our security folks were on the watch for "problems". Unknown to me, they did an office by office search to make sure all our offices were "clean". When they saw my pinger, they about passed the proverbial brick. They found me and, in a breathless voice asked, "what the hell is that thing"? I explained to them that it was a simple underwater noise maker and not to worry. Anyway, it gave them something to talk about.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Head Count

With the excitement of Hurricane Isaac I neglected to check the stats. It was a slow month as Saudi Arabia beheaded only two murderers in August. This brings their yearly total to 47.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Brother in Law called to tell me he was at Mount Wolf in Cow Hampshire. That means he's covered about 1800 miles in his thru hike of the Appalachian Trail. In another 50 miles he'll be on top of Mount Washington and the highest point on the trail. These next few days will take him over some of the toughest and most dangerous section of the trail.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Never Forget!

Did you remember what today is?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Back Again

We arrived home Monday evening to a house that had just received electrical power. It seems there was a broken pole on the line that fed our street and the boys from Entergy worked all day to replace it. But now power is restored and it is consistent. No other damage to speak of.

The first order of business was to throw out everything in 2 refrigerators. It was a little smelly but not as bad as after Katrina. The yard clean up can wait until the weekend.