Thursday, February 26, 2009

Politics of Energy and the Energy of Politics - II

On the night of Tuesday, February 24, 2009, President Obama addressed a joint session of congress. Traditionally such a session is attended by both houses of congress as well as the Supreme Court, Joint Chiefs of Staff and the members of the president’s cabinet, as was this one.

The speech was not an official “State of the Union” address, per se, which is given in mid-January each year. But it had dual intentions: (1) Present his full program to the congress and the people and (2) to attempt to restore confidence in the American financial system.

The speech represented careful concern and strong statements covering healthcare, education, the financial crisis – Wall Street responsibilities and energy.

The energy proposals were expected since there has been much talk recently about “renewable energy,” – wind power, solar power, advanced biofuels and more fuel-efficient cars and trucks and, most important in our opinion, laying down “thousands of miles of power lines that can carry new energy….”

There was one major thing missing.

And one major mistake.

The mistake was to continue to pander to the oil/coal interests by offering “clean coal” and oxymoron if there ever was one. To be continued.

The major missing part could replace the coal, oil, burning biofuels and any other cause of the “carbon pollution” forever:


We have discussed this solution a number of times recently and will be offering many more details in coming weeks.

Details such as...

- Pricing (not uniform by any current means)
- Controls (that do not exist for the oil people)
- The “grid system” (the part that really exists)

We hope the President’s program succeeds.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Oil and Water – Don’t Mix, And Canada Has Some Questions and Answers

There aren’t many waterfalls of significance in Texas. There are plenty of Oil wells.

And a continuing era of extreme drought.

And in northern California there are those major geothermal fields.

And a continuing era of drought.

In Canada there are many waterfalls of significance.

And 15 times as many oil reserves as U.S.

“Can water, oil’s arch enemy, replace it?

Or can one help the other?

We’ve already discussed the fact that our largest supplier of foreign oil is Canada.

We can also import water from north of the border and they’re getting a little nervous about how much we’re going to need in the next 5 years. This is due to what one Canadian “think tank” stated that “24% of America’s medium sized cities and 17.3% of the larger cities are expected to face serious shortages by 2015.”

What we have here is a redefinition of the word anachronism.

President Obama’s visit to Canada as his first foreign trip was no surprise. His expressed concern over U.S. import of Canadian “dirty oil” has Ottawa on the defensive. Obtaining oil from Alberta’s tar sands generates what has been called “Huge amounts of greenhouse gases.”
Canada wants to conclude a treaty with the U.S. agreeing to tougher emissions standards while recognizing the importance of those tar sands that produce so much oil.

How about replacing more of our petroleum processes with hydropower from Canada. Tell Canada to keep its water – and its oil – as long as we can receive enough hydropower to reduce our use of oil and coal.

Given enough hydropower we can reduce oil usage and desalinate sea water reducing the need to import potable water from Canada – which they can continue to pour into their hydro power plants on the way to their faucets!

And let’s talk about all the water in the Great Lakes – reusable?
Stay tuned

Supply & Demand, Kilowatts and Hours

The growth of electric utilities and their distribution systems from the 1880’s through the 20th century – was astounding. Both the Edison DC service and Westinghouse (Tesla) AC service distribution systems were being installed all over America.

Supply was measured in kilowatt-hours (kwhrs) which repaid the utility for its various costs of service such as labor, materials, fuel, taxes and transportation of product to consumer.
In a famous U.S. Supreme court case, Smyth V. Ames, U.S. 361 (1898) public utilities were found to be entitled to a fair rate of return based upon its rate base which included all things used and usable to provide service to the public.

The kwhr electric revenue was considered adequate until studies related to electric rates in the 1930’s showed consumers used most power only during certain times of the day and a peak load had to be provided even if that load only occurred for a few hours a day. The utility’s wires had to be there to meet the peak. - That left a lot of time when the wires were relatively idle – not producing revenue.

Then the idea developed that consumers should be induced to use power during other – or “off peak” - hours to spread out the use – reducing the peak demand. Not surprisingly, most consumers couldn’t change their patterns which were based on fixed hours of work or operations.

So – how about a charge based on the peak use of each customer as well as the kwhrs?
Excellent idea, said the utilities, and a few inventors devised a special meter to measure a consumer’s peak load while measuring its kwhrs. (Called “demand meter”)

A peak demand could happen for as little as a few seconds, as in turning on a furnace or air conditioner. So in fairness (thanks also to Smyth V Ames) it was decided that a consumer’s demand should cover a 15 or 30 minute interval. In some states the 15 minute interval is used and in other, such as NY, a 30 minute interval determined by taking the highest two consecutive 15 minute demands for the billing period.

The relationship between the energy (kwhr) use and the demand in kilowatts (Kw) is called a “load factor.” That is, how many hours use of the measured demand would it take to arrive at the actual kwhrs measured for the month?

A usage of, say 3,000 kwhrs with a demand of 10.0 Kw would indicate a load factor of 300 hours (kwhrs per kw) or 41.6% of a 720 hour month (30 days @ 24hrs/day)

Further if the consumer used 3,000 kwhrs with a demand of 7.5 Kw the load factor would be 400 hours or 55.5% and the utility wires would be less burdened by 2.5 Kw

As a result rates were developed based on rewarding good load factors and “punishing” ” poor” ones. Demand charges in some cases became almost half of a commercial electric bill.

Over the years the ever increasing costs of fuel and taxes had impact on the energy charge portion of electric bills but demand charges remain an item that continues to ‘demand’ attention.
More on rate design and its impacts on energy efficiency and the economy in later discussions

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Air & Water - Continued

When we last left our itinerant energists we and they were concerned about ensuring clean air and water for succeeding generations. We had reviewed some scenarios through which we might generate electricity and desalinate water at the same time or clean up some dirty water as another by-product of power generation.

Let’s look a little closer.

Scene 1 was the ideal where you had a usable waterfall near ocean or salt (brackish) water. A mile or so is not far away but there are not very many good sized waterfalls that close.

Scene 2 was where a supply of natural gas was fairly close to the shore. This is more likely than Scene 1 but the message for both of these scenes – is desalinization of the ocean and sea water.
Ocean water contains more than just salt and the chemistry of the category known as “seawater” will be examined later. Our purpose today is to determine the feasibility of providing generation of electricity coincident with the removal of salts and other matter from seawater or polluted land water to provide that most critical and desirable commodity – clean drinking water.

There are three basic methods for desalination; Vaporization (or distilling), Electrolytic Processing and Reverse Osmosis. We will look briefly at these and come to a surprising and pleasing recommendation.

There are several time honored means of distilling water to its purest state; boiling and flashing in order to create water vapor which is then condensed to usable liquid.

In electrodialysis, water is placed in a container with negative and positive electrodes to which the salt and other unwanted ions are attracted and collected for removal. This method was tried on a large scale in Saudi Arabia in 1958 but the extreme electrical demands made it impractical except where abundant energy was available.

The third and most promising system is the Reverse Osmosis Process (ROP). In this procedure water is subjected to great pressure which forces it through a special membrane which passes only pure water leaving behind more concentrated salt water.

The proven economics of ROP are what put the “icing on the cake.” While the flash distillation system costs about $4.00 per 1,000 gallons of product, ROP costs about $2.00 per 1,000. ($0.002).

An ROP motor 10 HP at 30 GPM costs $0.16 per hour to run.

30 GPM = 1800 Gallons per hour Power cost = $0.0000888 / gallon – not bad.

(For Comparison, tap water in NY and CT runs under $0.0007 per gallon – but that’s from reservoirs (rainwater). Super market bottled water runs $1.20 per gallon (90% for bottle, label & cap) = $0.12/gal water).

So, we can see that when taken together with energy from the cheap hydro power – or waste heat from gas fired generator – the generation/desalination process makes a lot of sense- especially in areas where fresh potable water is not available.

The major problem is – how do we get the processes to where they are most desperately needed? Please stay tuned.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Who did Edison Con?

You might think nobody. But that would depend a lot on who you talked with. Thomas Alva Edison as everyone knows was one of the few truly great geniuses of our times – or anyone’s time for that matter.

One immediately thinks of the light bulb as Edison’s invention. Actually it wasn’t. In England a gentleman named Joseph Swan had invented a light bulb that was in use in homes and public areas years before Edison developed his. As a matter of fact when it came to patents, Swan sued Edison and in order to avoid a prolonged legal battle Edison had to take him in as a partner in Ediswan the English version of General Electric. (Edison’s ultimate American enterprise)

During the two decades beginning in 1880 a number of lawsuits were brought against the various “inventors” of the electric light. These were called “the Edison Trials” because all involved Edison either as complainant or defendant. Settlements in the form of compromise-corporations were the rule.

At all events, when Edison was starting his electric distribution business his generators produced direct current. Edison felt that this was the best and safest form of electricity. Accordingly, all of the new Edison Company’s systems in New York City and elsewhere provided only direct current service.

The DC vs. AC Wars

At about the same time a Serbian immigrant, Nikola Tesla, another genius, was experimenting with generating electricity that alternated at a set number of cycles per second – called, logically, alternating current. His work formed the basis of today’s alternating current (AC) including the polyphase power distribution systems and electric metering.

Tesla had worked for Edison for a short time and was unjustly accused by Edison of stealing proprietary information. This was proven false. However, Edison became as famous for his lawsuits as he did for his inventions. Many lawsuits were based on the fact that some of Edison’s patents covered work done by others. He made a practice of buying the rights of others thereby making them his own.

AC Wins
As it turned out DC can only be economically delivered to consumers a few miles from the power plant. AC, on the other hand, can be delivered for hundreds of miles with little power loss (called “line losses”)

The Lorson Electric Company specialized in the conversion of major office buildings in New York City from DC to AC in the decade following World War II. The advent and major growth of air-conditioning occurred at this time as well and added to the major load growth not only in New York but nation-wide.

The Edison Company had become Consolidated Edison Company of New York (“Con Ed”) through the merger of New York Edison, Brooklyn Edison, Staten Island Edison, Queens Power and Light and Westchester Lighting Company. Con Ed continued to provide DC on an ever decreasing scale until ending the service in 2007.

It has been said that like his friend Henry Ford, Edison was able to maximize his profits by use of mass-production techniques and purchasing of varied property rights. Edison died rich and famous.

Tesla died broke and lonely. His genius did not include financial perspicacity and despite his arrangements with George Westinghouse and J. P. Morgan his super-eccentric personality caused his eventual ostracization by the public as a mad scientist.


As we now know, both Edison and Tesla were right in their own fields. Clearly AC is the energy for the delivery of power at considerable distances. However, Edison might enjoy the irony that the world of Electronics is powered by DC: Computers, telecommunications as well as automobiles and office building loads for elevators, fans and pumps. Oh, and subway systems continue to operate on DC.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Air and Water – The Essential Survival Solutions

Some things bear repeating – more than once – and one of those is the statement of the honored Jacques Yves-Cousteau who warned, “Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans.”

There are many, in all locations, in all walks of life and with the best of intentions who are attempting to “clean up the mess.” A major problem is the lack of coordination of these efforts with the result that cross-purposes often wind up making matters worse instead of better.

So we have to “unpollute” both the air and our water supply while still providing those services to humanity that requires the consumption of energy. Not so easy – but not impossible.

Here are some scenarios that promise clean energy and air at greatly reduced cost:

Where falling water exists near salt water (oceans/seas) hydropower can be generated and used for desalination processes as well a normal export of electricity

Where a supply of natural gas is within reasonable distance of the salt water electricity can be generated with the gas and the waste heat recovered to run a desalination process.

Where falling water exists inland, away from salt water, hydropower can be used to provide cleaning services for contaminated “fresh” water that is not usable for drinking, washing or normal human functions.

Where geothermal energy is available and falling water is not, “geo” can be used for generation, desalination and decontamination: - wherever a heat source is needed.

And where are all these Hydro- and Geo- sources and are they available to be used?

Well, for starts there are 159 hydroelectric power plants in 34 states. 78% are using man-made dams to develop falling water, and not nature’s waterfalls.

In 16 continental states there are 85 waterfalls from 3 to 10 times higher than Niagara. (Hawaii has 41 more – big ones). Of course the volume of water passed for power generation is directly related to the width of the waterfall. We are studying this.

In Canada the roles are reversed. In 7 provinces there are 42 major waterfalls many times larger than Niagara. And while there are 55 hydroelectric power plants only 34% of them use man-made dams for falling water.

Message: there is potential on both sides of the border.

As to geothermal potentials, the search for geothermal fields is on – and proceeding with great success. California’s success is famous; it currently has over 2,500 Megawatts of installed capacity.

Idaho has installed its first plant, as has New Mexico. Nevada has 17 power plants with a total output of 318 MW. And in late 2008 Associated Press reported the discovery of a “massive geothermal field” in Utah which is being developed as we speak.

You must have noted by now that all of the geothermal activity is in the West. In areas that mostly don’t have falling water.

Soon we will go into much greater detail regarding the life-saving processes enabled by nature’s replaceable water and earth’s rather large supply of heat.

After all, America is a work in progress

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Water, Water Everywhere

…and the boards did shrink. Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink,” (Samuel Coleridge)

Water covers 71-percent of the entire earth. But of all that water only about 3 percent is fresh and drinkable (also called “potable’).

Water is available almost everywhere. The main question is the methods used to obtain it. Sources like ground water, aquifers, rain collection, surface water such as rivers, streams, even glaciers – all have to be tested to be certain of its safety for drinking, washing and hygienic uses.
The most common contamination of water sources from the ground and surface flow is human sewage and especially human fecal and parasitic waste.

The availability of clean, “potable” water is found in direct proportion to the wealth, or economy, of the country or area studied. In the poorer countries lack of clean water has reached endemic proportions; 2 million deaths a year of which 90 percent are children under the age of five.

There are processes at work and others being studied to “desalinate” sea water for human consumption and there are some experts that say we should be working more seriously on this problem than we have to date. One of the problems involved in obtaining consumable water from the ocean is that the process is very expensive, space and time consuming.

The Lorson Group has for years expounded the theory that water power generated electricity is one of the ultimate answers to the cleaning the environment. We suggest now that the process of generation can be coupled with that of desalinization of brackish water to the even greater benefit to humanity at costs considerably lower than those encountered in the past.

We have found the economics of hydropower and its clean and very cheap product. We have also found the means of increasing the efficiency of fossil fuel generation of electricity from 35% to 75-80% through waste heat recovery.

In our succeeding issues we will present the combined advantages of hydropower and the total energy generation concept to work on cleaning up both air and water.

We close this one by quoting Jacques Cousteau, that eminent explorer, ecologist, filmmaker, humanitarian, photographer, author and sea study researcher who said “Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans.”

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

How Green Is Our Valley?

Green is many things to many people. - In fashion it may be the colour d’jour. - In energy it will be the color of the century.- In “Sesame Street” green is Kermit’s favorite color, or not, as he has said in the song, “It’s not easy being green.”

And it won’t be easy to convert all our energy use to green power to stop polluting the air – and primarily to cease creating those additions to the “Greenhouse Gases” that have been unduly increasing the temperature of our planet.

We’ve all seen the picture of the earth as a huge greenhouse. The atmosphere that surrounds it is the “glass” that keeps some heat from escaping. Green House Gases (GHG) are essential in determining the temperature of the Earth. Without them the world to be too cold for human habitation.

The most abundant greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere? In order,

Water vapor 36-70% (include cloud contributions)
Carbon dioxide 9-26%
Methane 4-9%
Ozone 3-7%

And there are many other contributors that provide smaller amounts.

So the current problem is not with basic greenhouse gases but with the impact that human activity has had in the last 200 years that is leading to what is called anthropogenic warming. It is this human contribution that has had a measureable effect on several climate factors including excess carbon dioxide and freshwater industries and food supply and health conditions.

The impact of human behavior comes from burning fossil fuels, deforestation, both leading to higher carbon dioxide; livestock and manure management; paddy rice farming, land use and wetland changes; use of chlorofluorocarbons in refrigeration systems and manufacturing; agricultural activities that lead to higher concentration of nitrous oxide.

There are seven sources of C02 from fossil fuel usage by humans:
Coal and other solid fuels 35%
Gasoline, oil and other liquid fuels 36%
Natural gas and similar fuels 20%
Cement production 3%
International “bunkers” of shipping and air transport 4%
Others with minor impact 2%

In coming days we will discuss the 91% of human fossil fuel damage and how much of that ecological peril is American-born. And how water can clean up the mess.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

What is Really Green?

GREEN ENERGY is the byword in the energy field today and we all know that it refers to sources of energy that are “environmentally friendly” and “renewable” and “non-hazardous” and the like. Basically we’re speaking of energy forms that do not pollute the air or earth and do not contribute to “Global Warming.”

But there is another side to this fascinating coin: GREEN COLOR OF MONEY
Economics has played and will continue to play a large part in the eventual development of what we hope will be energy sanity. So let’s take a look.

Solar All the fossil fuels used in the entire country could be replaced by solar cells contained in an area 300 miles square (90,000). That would be little larger than the state of Minnesota; and a little impossible. But solar panels are useful for homes and one- or two-story shopping centers and marts.

Prices range from $4 to $6 per watt and panel wattages range anywhere from 40w to over 200w. Prices do not include delivery or installation Comparative savings depend on local electric rates.

Ethanol Derived from corn its development is highly subsidized- more than $4 billion in 2006; plus another $3 billion at the pump which resulted in many billions in windfall profits. No wonder the politicians are for it. But if you don’t like global warming you certainly won’t like ethanol. As one critic put it, “It ain’t green – only the cash is.” And it takes more fossil fuels to make than it replaces.

Wind – It would take wind farm size of Colorado to serve northern California – Certainly it is an inexhaustible source of clean energy and one would think free of cost. But each wind generator has low energy production therefore many units are needed to provide meaningful output of electricity, heat or water movement and maintenance cost is quite high.

Hydrogen – must be liquefied – expensive – more explosive (See” Hindenberg”) than gasoline. Not readily available and the $1.2 billion the Fed has spent since Pres. Bush’s initiative to develop hydrogen infrastructure is a drop in the bucket compared to the amount necessary to meet the Bush goal of fossil replacement by 2040. More on this fuel later.

Geothermal – excellent where found –good for major loads, not homes – As Earth Policy Institute puts it, “World Geothermal Power Generation Nearing Eruption.” The fact is that the heat energy hidden in the top six miles of the earth’s crust is thousands of times greater than the energy contained in all the oil and gas reserves on earth. Moreover A number of countries with a total population of over 750 million people have enough geothermal energy sitting under them to replace all their electric generation from fossil or any other fuels.

There will be considerably more on this subject soon. Suffice it to say that while there appears to be a lot of geothermal energy available it is not known at this time whether it is self-replacing or finite in the long run. (A run which could be a thousand years)

WATER – HYDRO – cheap and very available where permitted by government regulations. We have already discussed the advantages of hydro power as it exists in the U.S. and Canada. Here again look for more in-depth coverage in the near future.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A View from the North

The Canadian Electricity Association, in its own words, is “the national forum and voice of the evolving electricity business in Canada.” It has been for 118 years, so like us, they have been there from the beginning.

CEA conducts an annual review of the electricity industry of the entire North American Continent. Technically of course North America includes Greenland (no joke) and the Central American countries, along with dozens of small islands and territories that are mainly located in the Caribbean.

The Association’s 2009 tract, however, mainly concerns itself with the conduct of energy business between Canada, and the U.S. Being concerned with what it calls “a state of uncertainty unlike anything it has experienced in its over 100 years of existence.”

The review resulted in a list of steps to be taken, in its words “Prescriptions,” which was included in an article entitled “North American Electricity – Enhancing Opportunities” that was presented on the Internet By Electric Energy, as follows:


“CEA offers recommendations for measure to help solidify market integration.
In particular, CEA calls for the following:

(1) Increased participation in Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs), and
increased focus on harmonizing market rules;

(2) Development of a North American strategy to manage greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation

(3) Identification of opportunities to further harmonize management of air emissions

(4) Creation of a consistent methodology for measuring environmental performance

(5) Enhancement of cross-border transmission transfer capability

(6) Coordination of critical infrastructure protection

(7) Support for a self-governing international organization for developing and enforcing mandatory reliability standards for the evolving electricity industry.”

All of these, in our humble opinion – being in business only 100 years and thus junior to the CEA by some 18 years- are matters to be examined in greater detail – which you can be certain – we will. Particularly that point about cross-border capability.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

President Obama, Tear Down This Wall

Is it possible that it’s only a few years since we learned that Kerr McGee oil interests in Oklahoma were sitting on the world’s largest coal reserves? And haven’t we been told that the cost of “cleaning up” coal is staggering?

Perhaps change under the new 2009 administration is not possible as promised. A ten year program to provide coal that will not pollute the air when burned laughs in the face of a two year period to begin a program that would guarantee North American Energy Independence for the rest of the century! Is this a Bush legacy?

FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has the power to fully open up the gates to Canada and allow hydro power to replace the coal that makes the United States the largest polluter of air on Earth.

Commonwealth Edison of Chicago burns coal at the mine and sends the power made there to Chicago.

FDR’s great hydro-power project in Tennessee, the TVA, now produces 75% of its power output by BURNING COAL! And ask TVA customers what happened to their electricity costs. And coal ash sludge that ruined homes, lakes and rivers leaving carcinogens in the ground and wildlife in danger. And Tennessee is not the only place.

We will discuss what is really green in a later edition. But for now let’s ask some serious questions.

The President says that our economic situation requires prompt and huge action. Well, so does our energy supply from the points of view of both economics and international politics.

Earlier we have had a look at the various forms of energy that make civilized life a lot more comfortable than the aboriginal. We’ve also had a chance to look at the good and bad results of the use of the various energy forms available today.

Our Canadian neighbors – and partners – have made a serious study of energy conditions as they exist today throughout the entire Northern Hemisphere and their thoughts are provocative and worthy of our attention and at least some action.

The Canadian Electricity Association finds the problems in three categories:
1. Serious lack of clarity around market rules (US and Canada)
2. Pressure of environmental changes particularly re: GHG (greenhouse gases)
3. Lack of clarity of both 1 & 2 causes a very poor investment environment.

According to a major banking firm, there are literally trillions of US Dollars sitting out there waiting for an improved investment climate. In our next blog we will discuss the CEA “Prescriptions” to help solidify market integration and therefore clean energy.

Please Mr. President, Open the Gates, Tear down the wall.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Watt’s Up?

Good question – pun or not. There are a lot of terms floating around that can confuse and/or mislead. Energy terms in particular - so we thought this would be a good time to conduct a little lexicography.

Everyone who gets an electric bill (yes, there are some who don’t) knows the term Kilowatt-hours. Those are the units measured on the electric meter at the point of service – home or apartment.

OK, now a kilowatt-hour is a kilowatt of power used for one hour.

And a kilowatt is one thousand watts.

A watt is work done when one ampere of electricity flows through a circuit with a potential difference of one volt. One amp times one volt equals one watt!

If you take 100 watt bulb and leave it on for an hour you have used 100 watt-hours. And since a kilowatt is a thousand watts 100 watts is 0.1 kilowatts.

And so your bulb has used 0.1 kilowatt-hours.

Now when we’re talking about BIG blocks of power, like not thousands but millions of watts we have larger units:

Megawatt (MW) is one million watts. Or a thousand kilowatts
Gigawatt (GW) is one billion watts
Terawatt (TW) is one trillion watts
Petawatt (PW) is one quadrillion watts

These can be pretty big numbers and for a little perspective the average power used by humans in a lifetime is 15 TW. (15,000,000,000,000). Imagine the usage of an entire country for a year. Thank goodness for the shortcut-acronyms.

And there are units for fractions of watts such as Nanowatt, Microwatt and Milliwatt.
If you’re interested in these ”you could look ‘em up.”

So as we proceed in our process of finding out where we are and the truth about where we can and ought to be going we have at least a handle on some of the units of energy measurement that will have more and more meaning as we go along.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Oh, Canada!

Good Borders Make Good Neighbors

That isn’t what he meant and you know it. Robert Frost I mean. But in the case of our good neighbors to the north there is some diminished irony in the phrase.

No two other neighboring countries in the world have a better friendship and working relationship than the U.S. and Canada. As Yoda would say, “Far from perfect it is.”
But in general it does work.

From the energy viewpoint Canada is our best international supplier of many things:
22% of our oil imports come from Canada.

Canada supplies 82% of all US gas imports (16% of total US consumption)
One-third of all the uranium used in US nuclear plants comes from Canada.

For over a hundred years Canada and the US have conducted across-the-border trade of electricity – in both directions. Over time, and particularly recently, Canadian exports grew to 50 billion kilowatt-hours while American exports to Canada fell to under 20 billion.

Clearly the lower cost of Canadian Hydropower should be of serious appeal to US suppliers. One would think that the flow would be much greater than it is. But the powerful interests in Texas and Oklahoma for years downplayed the hydro power concept for obvious reasons.

The good news is that more gates now are opening and hydro power is coming from Alberta to Montana; New Brunswick to Maine; and Northeast Utilities and NStar Electric have applied to Hydro-Quebec for 1,200 Megawatts of power to New England.

Further, a study recently completed by EEM, Inc., a Canadian Consulting firm showed that the current Canadian Hydropower Potential is as large as 163,100 MW.

So it seems that Energy Independence can mean a lot as long as we are not independent of our neighbor Canada.

If we can purchase a considerable amount of that developing hydro, we should be able to:
Reduce coal as fuel for power generation – certainly a “green” step.

Replace a portion of oil used for electric generation with hydro and natural gas.
There are many other uses that will be discussed as we go along.

And one additional thought – Our neighbors to the South provide 12% of our imported oil.
The Mexican contribution is about the same as Saudi Arabia. We don’t want to hurt the Mexican economy and we won’t have to if we can replace the OPEC supply.

The program to achieve all this is partly in place and we will discuss both what is and what has to be.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Hydro Power vs. The Earth

Hydro is the power obtained from falling or flowing water.

The Earth contains materials that must be extracted from it to be useful as fuels.
Perhaps this is a good time to get some terms straight, like Petroleum, Renewable, etc
Renewable energy is that which is renewed by nature or agriculture.

Rain water fills the lakes behind dams through which electricity is generated.

We all know the wind blows and goes away and blows again.

Ethanol comes from corn -by the way- a politically hot project costing taxpayers too much.
Geothermal energy is a relatively new field with marvelous results where possible
Biodiesel and biomass are also renewable and new.

Some consider Solar Energy Renewable –

Actually it isn’t …….It’s there all the time!
If it wasn’t there at any time that would be it – game over

Petroleum energy is found in the ground as crude oil and natural gas. Crude oil is refined into motor gasoline, diesel oil, heating oil and products such as plastics. Natural gas comes out of the ground colorless and odorless and so utilities add an onion-like odor to it so as to detect leaks.

As we discussed earlier Hubbert’s peak shows that petroleum and its products are not renewable, and as a product gets scarcer its cost goes higher as it will until end of Hubbert’s curve is reached.

The One Source of Energy – Renewable and Cheap – is Hydro Power

The power generated by falling water (see Niagara Falls and others) is the cheapest and most reliable product in the energy marketplace. Once the generation facility is constructed the only input required is running water. Plant maintenance is considerably easier than that of petroleum plants where the prime mover is burning fuel – with waste heat and air-pollution concerns.

Which brings us to the subject of our next message – the place that is our largest oil importer and could provide an incredible amount of water power……….

“Oh, Canada - -----------”

To be continued