Morning Ed: The Planet {2018.06.06.W}


Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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24 Responses

  1. Avatar J_A says:


    This article is so bad, so full of half-truths, of facts taking completely out of context, and of complete non-sequiturs (really, the consensus of property buyers in Miami disprove climate change?) that to point out the (totally willfull errors) would take probably twice the length of the article.

    Just to start, fossil fuel consumption in the aggregate is going up because (I) there’s more people in the world, each of which is consuming energy; and (b) developing nations are catching up on industrial outputs and living standards, all of which increase energy consumption per capita.

    But he totally fails to mention that, for any given development level, the energy consumption per capita is falling worldwide. Increases in efficiency are driving that change. He also neglects to mention the increase in efficiency and drop in capital costs of renewables.

    Yes, as there are more of us, and, in average, we are richer, we consume more energy. But the rate of growth is dropping. Enough that all oil majors are really worried. And enough that coal producers want the DOE to mandate increases in coal consumption in the USA. You know, national security demands it.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to J_A says:

      Do you have a good chart on per-capita fossil fuel consumption? I’m (pleasantly!) surprised the increases in efficiency are compensating for increased usage in the developing world.Report

      • Avatar J_A in reply to Will Truman says:

        Take a look at the charts in this link, from the European Union

        You will see (graph 7) that in most countries the consumption per capita has dropped in the period 2006/2015 (*). In some countries, notably Germany, the drop started in the 1990s. The figures get a bit disported by the different sizes of the capitas in the denominator, but the trend is easy to see.

        More interesting still is graph 13, where you will see the rapid drop in the energy intensity of the economy (energy per 1,000 € of domestic product).

        I used European numbers because the EU does have more more respect for data than the DOE. Also, it shows that the trends are consistent across very different countries in terms of population density and degree of industrialization.

        (*) the most notable exception, Turkey, has been going through a massive industrialization and increase in quality of life process in the last few decades. The other ones are ex soviet republics (Estonia actually surprised me) and Albania and Kosovo, also going through their increase in quality of life phases.Report

      • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to Will Truman says:

        This morning, I’ve been looking at this interactive map of the world’s coal fire powered plants.

        In 2000, China and the EU had the same coal-fired power capacity. Seventeen years later, China’s capacity had increased by almost 500%, while the EU’s capacity had declined almost 20%. Given consistent trade imbalances with China, it would be hard to argue that EU has actually reduced consumption of coal-fired energy, as opposed to outsourced it to other countries.Report

        • Avatar J_A in reply to PD Shaw says:

          it would be hard to argue that EU has actually reduced consumption of coal-fired energy, as opposed to outsourced it to other countries.

          Europe is outsourcing it’s energy consumption in general, not just its coal-fired energy. The EU imports are agnostic with respect to the primary energy source used.

          However, if you are interested, these two articles, comparing 2017 to 2016 and 2016 to 2015 power sources in China will be extremely useful

          You will see, for instance, that the solar added generation capacity in 2017 exceeded that of new thermal, and, more important, thermal runs full load only about half the time:

          Which brings us up to something that distorts Chinese energy production patterns, which is totally unfamiliar to Americans, but common in Europe: cogeneration and heating districts

          During the (brutal) Chinese winters, the main purpose of coal power plants isnot to produce electricity, it to produce steam to be distributed via pipelines to the general public for the heating of homes and offices. The ubiquitous coal plant in China main purpose is truly to provide hear in the winter, and, therefore, they cannot be shut to be replaced by a wind farm (wind is also very strong in winter).

          The result is the paradox that, when the wind blows the strongest, wind farms are curtailed and shut off to allow for coal plants to run full load to provide the steam and heating required. That winter usage actually represents the bulk of the “full load” hours of thermal generation in ChinaReport

          • Avatar PD Shaw in reply to J_A says:

            The EU imports are agnostic with respect to the primary energy source used.

            AFAIK, the data also fails to account for energy sources abroad for domestic consumption. If in 2000 a Londoner bought widgets manufactured in the Ruhr Valley, but by 2017 the manufacturer had been shuttered and the widgets were being manufactured in China, then if all other things are equal, the EU will have become more energy efficient and China less.

            This is not to claim that there is not to say that there are technological increases in productivity, but there are a lot of accounting fictions employed as well.Report

            • Avatar J_A in reply to PD Shaw says:

              You are correct, but my original claim was that, as a planet, we are becoming (i) more energy efficient on a [per capita per 1,000$ of domestic product]; and (ii), less dependent on fossil fuels as a primary energy source, so the intraplanet shifting of manufacturing location does not invalidate the argumentReport

  2. Avatar J_A says:


    Eric Lipton is double dumb

    He’s dumb because he’s surprised nobody likes the government mandating that people must buy from a competitor.

    And he’s dumb because he doesn’t realize most oil majors are heavily investing in renewables themselves. They see themselves in the energy business, not in the oil-and-gas-exploration-and-production business.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to J_A says:

      There’s also the regulatory uncertainty thing. They know that this policy is only going to last as long as Trump is in office, and the bigger this swing the bigger the swing in the opposite direction will be… which just creates a bad environment past any short term benefit.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Will Truman says:

        And the fact that the only buyer of coal are electricty generators and (a few) steel making processes. Who in turn buy relatively little oil (except Hawaii and I think Alaska).Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to J_A says:

      Additionally, mandating coal usage doesn’t mean WV, et. al. will experience a production boom.Report

      • There’s a whole group of big 1970s-era coal-fired plants in the Southwest that have been shut down, are being shut down, or are planned to be shut down. Mohave in Nevada is gone, two of four units at San Juan in New Mexico are retired, two of five units at Four Corners are retired, and the Navajo in Arizona is likely gone by the end of 2019.

        Typically, each of these is fueled by a single surface coal mine that (a) is nearby (for western values of nearby), and (b) has only the single customer. Keeping the power plants open has zero effect on WV. This is as cheap as coal gets, and it’s still not competitive with regional natural gas and wind.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Cain says:

          Exactly. There are coal plants east of the Miss. River that would have to buy more coal under such an order, but damn few in the west, and a lot of the ones in the midwest either have local sources, or get it from WY. Just look at that nifty map you have of how many tons of coal move on given rail lines.Report

  3. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    Pl4: The first link goes to an article titled “Who Owns Mars?”Report

      • Now it seems to go to an article about amphibians dying off in Yellowstone Park.Report

        • The right link is in there but it forwards to a docent article. No idea why. Does this work?

          • Avatar J_A in reply to Will Truman says:

            The article linked sounded like too much whining about bad renewable energy policies, and too many facile assumptions that blur the difference in cost for the end user between capacity and energy, so I went to the source NY ISO report (all 68 pages of it (*))…

            …which of course, is not the apocalyptic prediction that the summary presented (I wonder why). The closest I got to what the ISO originally said, before being paraphrased, was

            The NYISO expects to introduce new market-based incentives for flexibility that will continue to offer grid operators tools to withstand weather events and high-demand periods, despite the likely loss conventional resources. In this manner, the NYISO expects to maintain a resilient grid through the rapid transformation taking place as a result of increased regulatory pressure on various generators.

            Meanwhile, the pace of change on the grid requires the NYISO’s planning processes to become more flexible in identifying and acting upon reliability needs. Closer coordination with distribution system planners will be required to understand how distribution system needs might influence — or be influenced by — changes on the bulk power system brought about by public policy. Subsequent sections of this document will describe some of the plans the NYISO is developing to achieve those goals. (page 36)

            Once you get into the details, the report is fairly easy to understand, and the ISO presents a coherent, reasonable, plan to incorporate the renewable energy requirements, as well as the already existing market trends that favor renewables over (gulp) coal.

            And, oh my God, the horror, it is true, a carbon tax is mentioned.

            By the way, the apocalyptic looming catastrophe power grid collapse that graces the title relates to transmission issues between upstate and downstate New York, not about the Clean Energy Standards, but the author would bother to make that clear, because,, quoting the article itself…

            …defends itself against the risk of being read by its very length and obfuscating technical jargon.


  4. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    P1: I want to pick it up just to see what the pressure and environment did to it.Report

  5. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    The California Democratic party looks like it avoided a jungle-primary disaster and will not be shut out of any of the House races that it thinks it can win here. To be fair, the Republicans also largely avoided disaster and are seemingly only shut out of the Senate race, the Lt. Governor race, and the State Treasurer race.

    Still this was a no good idea that the California voters wished upon themselves in 2010 and one that leads to a strong cycle on parties trying to interfere and stirring the resentment of their bases.

    SF has a voting preference/run-off system and it looked like this paid dividends for Mark Leno. The three top runners were London Breed, Mark Leno, and Jane Kim. In the crazy world of SF politics, London Breed is the “moderate and corporate” candidate because she likes building housing quickly. Mark Leno was our former state senator and Jane Kim is the progressive firebrand on the Board of Supes and got elected first because of her ability as a tenant organizer. Mark Leno and Jane Kim encouraged their supporters to put each other as choice #2. So London Breed came out as #1 as a first choice vote but once you started counting the #2 votes, Leno got a small majority of like 50.82 percent.

    But results won’t be finalized until the end of the week.

    In terms of housing policy, Mark Leno tried to strike a middle ground between London Breed’s building stance and Jane Kim’s anti-developer stance.

    As an aside, Jane Kim and Mark Leno were the first candidates I saw ever canvas for votes. I ran into Jane Kim outside a farmer’s market and Mark Leno was canvasing in a dim sum restaurant on Memorial Day with Board of Supervisors member Sandra Lee Fewer and Assembly member Phil Ting. I think he got more of an endorsement from the Chinese community.Report

  6. Avatar pillsy says:

    [Pl5] “Watching my house get washed out to sea to own the libs.”Report

  7. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    Pl9: Much more interesting than the point raised by the author are two of the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. The Senate zeroed out funding for restarting the Yucca Mountain licensing (the House increased such funding sharply). The Senate significantly increased money (compared to the House) for cleanups at Hanford and the Idaho National Lab. I interpret those to mean the Senate Republican leadership hasn’t completely given up on the notion that they can limit the electoral damage in the West in November (eg, possibly retain Heller’s seat in Nevada). Providing modest funding for the reuse of naval spent fuel and the new type of reactor research programs is all well and good, but the Navy and the DOE have not been able to figure out a way to actually conduct the work that doesn’t violate their legal agreement with the State of Idaho.Report