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March 09, 2010



Charlie's latest at PJM on this.


In 1492 Spain threw out of the country the people who understood science and commerce and has never recovered. It remains a feckless place, doomed by its excessive reliance on emotion over reason; bravado vs prudence and drama over common sense.
The solar fiasco is just one part of it.

And all this nonsense about AGW, popular in a land so devoid of reason, just hit them on the behind as Barcelona suffers from a totally unprecedented snowfall.

Patrick R. Sullivan
“The U.S. is really behind Europe on this, and if we wait until solar is cost-competitive on its own, we may miss the boat and an opportunity to shape the market.”

I say, mañana.

So does Sarah.

This is a good one, because it highlights the Democrats' War on Science, and makes transparent the lack of transparency in this administration. I still think energy and climate are going to be blockbuster, oops sorry, issues this year and in '12.

Patrick R. Sullivan

Or, maybe I could let Peggy Lee sing it.

The leftists who took over last year are congregating in the bunker.

Alright, 'blockbuster' is OK; it's 'bunkerbuster' I was excusing.

Ask any engineer.

Wind power requires building fossil fuel back-up systems; where is the advantage?

There is a photo out there on the internet showing a new Florida natural gas power plant producing 3,500 Megawatts on 20 acres of ground. Next to it, to satisfy renewable mandates, is a solar array on 640 acres producing 50 megawatts. This illustrates the 'energy density' problem which is insoluable in so-called renewable.

Danube of Thought

"...if we wait until solar is cost-competitive on its own, we may miss the boat and an opportunity to shape the market.”

For "solar," one could as well substitute "generating power from radish pulp," or "the perpetual motion machine."


You're asking logical questions, Kim, that's like questioning the level of lead to gold
in alchemy experiments. Actually I think Lysenko was more honest than this crew


"generating power from radish pulp,"

That has a better chance, actually.

Danube of Thought

Rich Lowry on the soon-t-begin battle for repeal.


" energy and climate are going to be "

Wattsupwiththat says its going to be BS (they call it Hot Air which is another term for)


"Experts are predicting the carbon market will reach $2 – $10 trillion in the near future. Hot air will soon be the largest single commodity traded on global exchanges."

$2-10 trillion of BS should make great issues.

Barry Dauphin

The president as Don Quixote.

Jack is Back!

When someone shows me a RAM analysis that puts the life-cycle costs of solar, wind and renewables more economical up against nuclear, coal and natural gas (I am still in the Chauncey Starr camp regarding NG) then and only then will I be convinced. I just don't see how this "kumbahya" type technologies can compete on a dispatchable base-load basis. But again, this is all more political than scientific and fits the narrative for the agenda of dissing growth, redistributing wealth and making everyone feel good about the environment on their way back to their caves.

Cowboy Steve

"The president as Don Quixote."

At least windmills are real, Don comes out looking saner.

I like Joe Biden as his picaresque sidekick.

Cowboy Steve

It's a religion

"... the plain fact is that we surely need a prophet, not yet another committee. We need one passionate, persuasive scientist who can connect and convince – not because he preaches apocalypse in gory detail, but in simple, overwhelming terms. We need to be taught to believe by a true believer in a world where belief is the fatal, missing ingredient."

From EURef

Old Lurker

According to Fox, Stupak is caving.

Danube of Thought

"We need to be taught to believe by a true believer in a world where belief is the fatal, missing ingredient."

There's a reason it's missing, pal. There's a reason. (Does the author include himself among the "we?")

This is an easy trail to illegality.

Chris Horner's article at the Washington Times on this same theme is very good. Kathy Zoi has probably lied to Congress.


It can be shown that the Center for American Progress was treated as a part of the Executive branch.


According to Fox, Stupak is caving.

OT a little. But, given Massa's rant the other day on the radio, how many other Dem's are getting fed up with the Administrations strong arm tactics? Why aren't we seeing more of a revolt from the Democrats? Will more Democrats now switch sides to ensure this turkey(that many of their constituents don't want) doesn't pass?

Cowboy Steve


That's a big yes, he writes for the Guardian, weeping about AGW falling poll numbers.

"Wanted: an eco prophet

People are drifting into a lethal slumber on climate change. More of the same won't wake them up."



According to Fox, Stupak is caving.

And we're surprised? I have not once held out hope that any of these critters would hold firm to their "convictions".

Danube of Thought

I've always figured Stupak would cave. He's an obvious dunce, not much brighter than the genuinely insane Massa.

Think about it. When he says he's "optimistic" that appropriate abortion language can be drafted, he discloses that apart from that aspect he really thinks this bill is a good idea. And he's so dumb it's going to be child's play to roll him.

Note my weasel word 'immediate'.  Really, that should be short-term.

True, narciso. But Lysenko only set back biology in the USSR. This climate madness has set back understanding worldwide, and the effects of the scandal will bleed onto public trust of science. It may also lead to efforts to insulate science from the perversities of partisan policy pushes.

I've long said that this hoax is somewhat analagous to the business with Galileo. There will be similar, but not as fundamental, re-ordering of our perception of man's place in the cosmos, but this episode will have far greater immediate social impact than the revelations of Galileo.

I swear I'm gonna die of an overdose of irony.  I'll be there to greet bad.

Oh, Cowboy, how that link must grind Gore. That is the role he imagined for himself, and look at the dig at him in it.

clarice already figured it out.  See the cool cartoon as you scroll, too.

You've got to scroll a bit at Cowboy's link to EUReferndum. Gad that blog is good, on climate and eurosclerosis.


There was a set of interviews with Judith Curry of Georgia Tech, and Michael Mann of
Penn State, at Discover Magazine. Curry is kind of skeptic but still believes in the possible risk of AGW, and Mann is obfuscatory
as always. Who will revise the text books so we are not back in the Ptolemy era, to reference Galileo

My name here

I guess we can assume that "analyst" Cassidy DeLine didn't lose her job, her dreams, her income, her property in this cheery, upbeat debacle. Hopefully, she will in the next "bubble" that bursts. It may put a little empathy into her world view.

She's showing the way.

Judy Curry is not very skeptical, but she's awfully realistic about the shortcomings of some of the alarmist. She opened a dialogue with Steve McIntyre, and took a lot of heat from her co-religionists. She will end up one of the saints of climate science's return to reality.

But she still worships Oreskes a bit overly much.

Heh, Curry's a Rambling Wrecking Ball in the Temple.


I just about choked watching an episode of "Renovation Nation" on Planet Green last night. Steve Thomas, of "This Old House" fame, made a big deal about a company that produces solar panels fused between glass and glued to slate, forming a power-producing and attractive roofing material. Then he gave the price, thirteen grand per hundred square feet. That makes conventional solar panels a bargain by comparison. Solar is only a valid option for off-grid and highly specialized uses. I'm going to get my solar panels for my off-grid cabin in Alaska before the public finally gets wise and the huge subsidies and tax credits and rebates end.


I don't even know why we're wasting any time on Solar Power at all because this Wikipedia article on ">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power_in_China"> Wind Power in China tells us that:

"Researchers from Harvard and Tsinghua University have found that China could meet all of their electricity demands from wind power through 2030.[5]"

So if Harvard Scientists have determined that windmills can easily provide all the energy needs of 1.1 Billion Chinese by 2030, heck it should only take us 6 years to build enuff domestic windmills to power 330 million Americans. So screw Solar, lets go Don Quixote ASAP, and keep your hands off my Radish Pulp.

Jack is Back!


We can save the Chinese both time and money by selling them all the wind farms we have installed in California that are shut down or kaput.


Don't bring facts into this discussion Jack is Back.

I'm talking Scientists with a HARVARD education..


" Kathy Zoi has probably lied to Congress."

How to know for sure. Answer these 2 questions.

Is she a member of the Obama Administration?
Did she say anything to Congress?


mono/polycystalline solar is based upon certain fixed costs and general efficiencies. Most cells run between 14-18% efficiency, assuming it is a bright sunny day. Sunpower has the highest efficiency at @ 22%.

95% of the manufacturing cost of the mono/poly module is in the cells, which use silver as the photovoltaic conversion material. Thus with silver prices at highs, the current manufacturing costs will not drop that much.

Rather, what we are seeing is the erosion of profit margins due to competition. The US industry is still in its infancy and really only survives on what subsidies and "green initiatives" the government and the publicity conscious major corporations allot.

The largest customer for First Solar, one of the big names in thin film technology, the alternative to mono/poly modules,is WalMart. Both First and WalMart are controlled by the Walton family. Much of the economics there is also driven by subsidies and tax credits. Selling to yourself and taking the tax credits along the way is a nice way to make money, but the true costs are distorted.

The Japanese and a number of companies in Colorado and elsewhere are betting on thin film, which is a lot cheaper to make but much less efficient, typically at 11%-14% right now. there are some breakthroughs coming, but these will probably drive up manufacturing costs, so cost performance still may not be economical from a bottom line perspective.

Right now, no one knows really how long these modules will survive. The warranties are typically 25 years, but most manufacturers will be out of business by then.

The other issue with renewable power in general is how to integrate it into the grid. It fluctuate wildly, and power storage is a huge issue. This is why many experts think that only 15% of the total grid can comprise renewable.

wind, as Melinda once noted, is mostly a scam. I drove the the Altamont Pass a few weeks ago on my way to, what ho, a solar show, and almost all of the windmills were idle because there was no need for the power. It seems every time I go past Altamont or Palm Springs this is the case. They are basically tax dodges as best I can tell.

One other advantage of NG, coal, nuke is the instant on off capability. Watch for the steam coming out of your local power station sometime. Electricity is a commodity bid on every day based on demand.

Spain implemented solar in a disorganized, Spanish way. Germany has all the subsidies but not much sun. China may have the best shot, but even there, the places they are talking like the Gobi desert have incredible dust issues that will reduce efficiency. It is an illogical industry at present.

Hope this contributes to the discussion.

Frau Radieschen

Coughs or corns, daddy?


very much, matt.

I wonder if they have Maurice Strong under house arrest.

JiB @ 11:35 AM. You hit the nail on the head.

daddy re: Wiki and China and Windmills. Wiki is kinda like the newspaper, somewhat trusted despite it being invariably wrong on any story with which I have personal knowledge. Wikepedia on climate has been hopelessly perverted by a modeler named William Connolley, and the fact that his editing has not been abrupted by Wikipedia shows me that Wikipedia does not have adequate safeguards to prevent such a pervasive and persistent patina of preposterousness.

So with China and Windmills and Electricity. I note that China is aggressively pursuing fossil fuels all over the earth. Despite huge coal stores of their own, they buy lots of high quality Australian coal. They are the world leaders in pebble bed nuclear technology and are building nuclear plants at an accelerating rate.

I doubt the wise ones in China are expecting wind power to supply their electricity needs by 2030, just as they know that encumbering carbon isn't an urgency. Granted, they don't have to worry about macerated birds, or unsightliness, or the really insidious subsonic sound waves, but the unreliable nature, and the poor energy density of wind energy will always make them relatively uneconomic.


Heck, the Chinese would burn old women if they needed that for energy.

John Bibb

The most promising solar technology designs--to me--look like one of the California desert parabolic/cylindrical thermal plants. The reflectors track the sun and focus the heat on long high temperature silicon oil filled pipes. This is hot enough to run a heat exchanger that provides high temperature high pressure steam to run a conventional steam turbine plant efficiently.
The solar panel and windmill technology seems too expensive and too small in capacity. And only a plant that can compete economically WITHOUT TAXPAYER SUBSIDIES should ever be built. And the need to keep "on line" reserve power source capacity equal to the solar/wind power sources needs to be included in the total expense calculations.
A power system grid will fall out of synchronism--with large area blackout problems--in a few seconds after a small (10 percent?) reduction of generation capacity occurs as the wind speed slows or the sun is obscured by a cloud--if the backup power reserve is not already on line.


--I'm going to get my solar panels for my off-grid cabin in Alaska before the public finally gets wise and the huge subsidies and tax credits and rebates end.--

Be careful in your calculations mefolkes. Many tax credits, etc do not apply if you're not hooked up to the grid, presumably because you're not displacing conventional electrical generation.


The BBC's Environment Correspondent, Richard Black, has a new Head Scratcher of a column up today, trying to make sense of that sticky question that we've all been losing sleep over lately; Who should pay the carbon Eco-tax when an American farts in Paris,---the EU or the US? Or, as he titles it :">http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8557461.stm"> EU 'imports' a third of its carbon emissions.

Here's Dick's logic:

1) China emits more CO2 than anybody else on the planet.

2) 22% of that CO2 is created making products to sell to the US and Europe.

3) Since foreigners buy those products, foreigners should be charged with those CO2 emissions, not China.

"...Academics and environmental groups have argued that this is unfair. It means, for example, that a Briton can buy goods made in China; he or she gets the benefits of these goods, but the emissions are assigned to China."

"Dieter Helm, the Oxford University professor of energy policy observed: "What all these exercises show is that production-based figures are highly misleading and in particular flatter Europe and the US...
What the authors fail to conclude is that the Kyoto-based approach [using production-based emissions] is fatally flawed, and that the case for BORDER CARBON TAXES is very considerable."

The bright side to this argument is that if America returns to being an industrial powerhouse that uses fossil fuels to create stuff and export it, it's no longer our Carbon Emissions ruining the planet. It's the folks we export to---Caveat Emptor!

Thus, if an American hyperfenates in Paris, I think we're supposed to Tax the US, but only if if was from the Big Mac he ate in Newark before departure. Tax France if the flatulence was from the brie and snails he had on the Champs d'Elysee last evening, but Tax the Irish if he was pounding Guinness all night. Voila!

Listen to John Bibb.

Heh, Clarice, they'd go back to steam locomotives so they could strap their children to the front of the them.

Rocketman, interesting idea @ 2:37. That would solve many problems.



"Tuber or not tuber: that is the question..."

Frau Radieschen

heh! daddy's much more fun than the Katzenjammer Kids.


God these people are certifiablr, daddy is producing all this stuff, India provides
the tech support, and yet they want ot bill us, what's wrong with these people


Hey Daddy,

Someone just called to tell me how much they loved your travelogue, particularly part 3.

Keep em coming.


Will do Jane. In fact, am out the door just this second to see if I can get into enough trouble for another one. Seems the bar down the street here in Rahway, Jersey shares my last name...

Send an Army of Franklins.

John Bibb, that mirrored plant solves two problems, the energy density and to some extent the unreliability one. Such a plant could be hooked up to a fast start up fossil plant for predictable nightime output, and cloudiness in the day would also somewhat correlate with cooling and heating demands. Very interesting.


Ignatz, thanks, but I believe that you are thinking of the electric utilities' in-house rebates. I haven't come across any tax credits/rebates that come from the federal or Alaska state programs that are tied to whether the home is on or off the grid.

Up there you'd have to have the south overhanging eave stick pretty far out, though.

Consider a mirror, too, mefolkes; and I'm sure you know about passive solar designs.

It seems he's just the man for the job.

Oh, boy, check out van Schalkwyk for the UN Climate head.


First Solar uses GdTe thin films instead of silicon crystalline, which price is inflated by chip maker’s demand. Efficiency is about 11%, but cells are much cheaper per KW capacity then silicone.

Aside of off-grid, I believe that when current speculative prices will subside, roof-top application to run air conditioners in sunny places with expensive electricity (California) will be economical too.


So, basically AL,what you're sayin', is if folks would just stop buyin' em they would get cheaper?


Kim, photovoltaics will be marginal with the cloudy, rainy weather near Ketchikan. I'm not sure that using mirrors to intensify light falling on the panels would be cost effective, but it might be worth trying. The aerogenerator holds more potential for generation. We are holding out hope that one rivulet nearby (or multiple ones diverted together) would be sufficient for a micro-hydro turbine installation. We are resigned to using a gasoline-powered genset part of the time, if the micro-hydro is not an option. But we are also diverting load by using propane for cooking, water heating and clothes drying, to help extend the useful charge on the battery bank. Our cabin site is on a moderately steep slope that faces diretly east. The ridge behind us to the west rises to over 500 feet. There is very limited potential for passive solar design in that situation, and we want to have a log cabin that fits into its environment, not some avant-garde design suited better for Taos.

AL, yes, I would agree with you that hot and sunny southern California, land of towering electric rates, would probably be a cost effective special use situation for photovoltaics.

For our seafrontage lot, with a tidal flux of about 14-15 feet, perhaps we can hope for the perfection of tidal-force electric generation, but I won't stay awake waiting up for it.


Oh, Kim, heating is of little worry to us. The local climate on the west coast of Prince of Wales Island is astonishingly mild compared to my native Minnesota. Here at my Minnesota lake home, which I will be bidding farewell to shortly, I've personally observed -38F. The record low for Prince of Wales Island is +5F. We will be very well insulated, and we will have a sealed fireplace unit with outside combustion air and ducting to the backup furnace (wood/propane) which will spread the head throughout the house. Our property will have far more firewood than we could ever burn. We will be siting the photovoltaic array and the aerogenerator in the best possible location near the cabin, and the battery bank will be in the basement, where we will face no significant fall-off from output due to cold batteries. Further, the record high there is 83F, so we will never need to worry about air conditioning.


Happens all the time, Pofarmer.

Take a look at fuel ethanol, for example. Almost all publicly traded companies making fuel ethanol from corn are bankrupt. Now, private-owned Poet is buying refineries for pennies, and is able to produce ethanol cheaper, because capital costs are already paid for by unlucky investors.


Since the thread has some housing talk--here is a link that will really make your blood boil:

Obama’s Housing Shell Game; Short Sales and Relocation Assistance


The idea that solar is good because it generates power during hot times when A/C demand is at its peak is qualitatively correct but quantitatively wrong. Severin Borenstein at Berkeley has done a very careful analysis that isn't that hard to follow and finds that solar PV is about 5X the cost of wind, even when you take this peak-load effect into account:


He even looks at the argument that PV will be okay once experience effects of production drive down costs and explodes that too. (I should point out that he's not a right-wing type for those who want ideological litmus tests.)


Srp: the guy assumes 80 000$ installation cost for 10 KW roof-top.

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