Setback Comparisons

Letter that the Dispatch did not publish:

In a letter to the Dispatch (10 Aug., 2017) Jeremy Kitson complained about possible legislation to reduce the distance separating wind farms from residences. Mr. Kitson also noted that the State has complete say in specifying wind-farm locations. Although it is not clear what distance (known as setback) will be in the proposed legislation, 1300 feet appears to be a likely guess, based on news reports.

Setbacks for oil and gas wells are much smaller. Ohio law (Section 1509.021) includes setbacks of 100 feet from rural homes and 50 feet from water supplies for oil and gas wells. As it is for wind, locations of oil and gas wells are determined by the State; local governments have no say.

Neighbors of oil and gas wells have bigger problems that neighbors of wind farms.

 

Alternative Motor Vehicles

Transportation is the second largest source of greenhouse gasses (1).

 

Technology Cars Other

Vehicles, (a)

Total
Ethanol/Flex Fuel 3.67 16.12 19.79
Electric/Gasoline Hybrid 3.43 0.44 3.87
Other Technologies (b) 0.81 0.32 1.13
Total Alternatives 7.90 16.88 24.79
Total Vehicles 120.5 121.4 241.9
% Alternative 7% 14% 10%

Notes in Table

(a) Vans, SUV, etc.

(b) Natural gas, all-electric, etc.

 

 

References:

 

(1) EPA “Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions” http://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions, accessed 27 June 2017

Renewables Catching Up With Nuclear

Nuclear activists point out that reactors do not generate greenhouse gasses and that decommissioning them leads to electricity being generated by fossil fuels (some nuclear opponents claim that reactor technology is polluting; I looked into this several years ago and was not impressed by the quality of the research).

Renewable-energy supporters claim that sufficient wind energy is being installed each year to offset the loss of reactors (averaging about one decommissioning per year [1]).  Surprisingly output from reactors has remained steady. Improved efficiency must be the reason, since there have not been any new reactors for many years [2].

Generation by renewables have strongly increased from about half of nuclear in 2008 to about two thirds today. Since hydropower has remained steady, the increase is due to wind.

So far so good. Since nuclear production has been steady, wind has helped to take up the slack due to coal plant retirement.

References

[1] EIA, Today in Energy, June 13, 2017

[2] Data in the figure from EIA, Electricity Data Browse,  accessed July 1, 2017

Greenhouse Gas LTE & Comment

LTE: Cynthia Allen recently stated the people are unwilling to make the kind of sacrifices that are needed to combat climate change (Dispatch, 12 June). Her column shows a limited understanding of greenhouse gas production.

Ms. Allen is wrong when she implies that home heating and cooling are a major source of energy wastage. Actually, homes and businesses together generate a small fraction of greenhouse gasses. The three largest sources are electric power plants, motor vehicles, and industry.   Together they account for over three-quarters of greenhouse gasses.

But there is good news on all fronts. Emissions from power plants have been dropping sharply. Bloomberg recently predicted that electric cars with efficient motors will become cheaper than gas autos within ten years.  And industry has been saving energy. All in all carbon dioxide emissions have fallen 14 percent in the last ten years.

We are living in an era of great technological change. There are many opportunities for people to save money by saving energy. But we need to realize that the big changes will come from outside the home.

Alan R. Rosenfield

Columbus

Comment: Electricity generating is the largest user of energy in the U.S., and the largest source of greenhouse gasses.  The basic problem is that generation is extremely inefficient – almost two-thirds of the energy supplied goes up the smokestack as heat.

There are two ways to improve this situation:

  1. Consumers can use less energy.
  2. Electricity can be produced more efficiently.

In my LTE, I suggested that the second approach should be more effective. Generating electricity produces about two and a half times as much greenhouse gasses as residential and commercial users combined.

The technology for reducing generation-caused greenhouse gasses is available. Natural gas is better than coal, while renewable energy emits no greenhouse gasses at all.

To reiterate, if we are going to reduce greenhouse gasses, electricity generation will play a major role.

Soources:

EPA “Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions” http://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions, accessed 27 June 2017

EIA “Electricity Data Browser”

http://www.eia.gov/electricity/data/browser/#/topic/7?agg=0,1&geo=vvvvvvvvvvvvo&endsec=vg&freq=A&start=2008&end=2014&ctype=linechart&ltype=pin&rtype=s&maptype=0&rse=0&pin=

Accessed 26 June 2017

 

LLNL “Energy Flow Charts” flowcharts.llnl.gov, Accessed 26 June 2017

Why Less Coal

I have been assuming that gains in electricity generation by natural gas were the reason for loss in generation by coal. This is not quite true. In 2016 coal generation was down by about 750 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) from its 2006-2008 average, a 38 percent drop. About two-thirds of the drop was due to natural gas and about one-third to renewables.

Source EIA Electric Data Browser, accessed 21 June 2017

Sources of CO2

Cynthia Allen recently stated the people are unwilling to make the kind of sacrifices that are needed to combat climate change (1). Her column shows a limited understanding of greenhouse gas production.

Ms. Allen is wrong when she implies that home heating and cooling are a major source of energy wastage. Actually, homes and businesses together generate a small fraction of greenhouse gasses. The three largest sources are electric power plants, motor vehicles, and industry.   Together they account for over three-quarters of greenhouse gasses (2).

But there is good news on all fronts. Emissions from power plants have been dropping sharply (3). Bloomberg recently predicted that electric cars with efficient motors will become cheaper the gas autos within ten years (4).  And industry has been saving energy (5). All in all carbon dioxide emissions have fallen 14 percent in the last ten years (6).

We are living in an era of great technological change. There are many opportunities for people to save money by saving energy. But we need to realize that the big changes will come from outside the home.

References

(1) ‘Few are willing to support climate control at home’, Columbus Dispatch, June 12, 2017

(2) US EPA ‘Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions’, http://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions, accessed 13 June 2017

(3) Georgina Gustin, ‘U.S. Power Plant Emissions Fall to Near 1990 Levels, Decoupling from GDP Growth’, Inside Climate News, 14 June 2017, insideclimatenews.org/news/14062017/us-power-plant-co2-carbon-emissions-fall-1990-ceres

(4) Jess Shankleman ‘Pretty Soon Electric Cars Will Cost Less Than Gasoline’, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-26/electric-cars-seen-cheaper-than-gasoline-models-within-a-decade, Bloomberg, 26 May 2017

(5) U.S. energy Information Administration, Electric Data Browser http://tinyurl.com/EIABROWSER

(6) ‘Retiring nuclear plants may undercut climate goals’, Columbus Dispatch, June 14, 2017

Cost of Withdrawal from Paris Accords

Ohio’s electricity sources are diverse, as shown in the following table:

Sources of Ohio’s Electricity, 2016

Data from electric Power Monthly, Feb. 2017

Source

Percent
Coal 47
Natural Gas 20
Nuclear 11
Renewables 2
Imports from Other States 19

 

The difference from 2008 is that coal has lost ground to both natural gas and imports.

The distribution in the table appears to be ideal for supporters of withdrawal from the Paris Accords on climate change. However, it would be expensive to sustain. Specifically, additions to all residents’ bills would be about $11 per month minimum due to coal, and perhaps much higher. Also, Ohio residents in the First Energy area would have an added $5 monthly charge to support nuclear plants.

Note: Coal costs are from the LSC Fiscal Analysis of 132-SB155. Nuclear costs are from testimony on 132-HB178. Data in the Table is from Electric Power Monthly.