Obama - "cheaper electricity with renewables"

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Noah_Scape
Obama - "cheaper electricity with renewables"

I am almost starting to believe in the Great Hope - Obama said this
week [Jan 8th, 2009] that his stimulus package will include money for
kick-starting renewable energy projects, as well as the whole
equpitment and materials industry needed for renewable energy.

But
the other part was the best to hear - he said that electricity made
from renewable energy sources is going to be CHEAPER!!!

That is something I have wanted to hear... electricity produced
from renewables like solar and wind will work out cheaper in the long
run. Once the initial installation is paid for, in about 5 years, the
electricity is FREE after that [with just a little maintenance cost of
course].

"PAY FOR IT ONCE, AND THEN ITS FREE"

 

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Do you have a link for that?

Because to Obama, "renewable energy" primarily means agrofuels. He has already made agrofuels one of his four main energy priorities (the other three being so-called "clean coal", nuclear power and the non-existent "clean car").

The agrofuels "solution" only turns the energy crisis into a food crisis, as arable land is diverted from food production to ethanol production.

And if you believe cheaper electricity is on the way, then I have a nice bridge I know you'll be interested in buying.

Noah_Scape

Dang, the "link" doesn't work for me - old OS I suppose..

 But go to:

www.myhttp://my.barackobama.com/page/content/newenergy

 [copy/paste?] 

And
read the PDF where they say that "10% of electricity consumed in the
USA must come from solar, wind, and geothermal by 2012."

 Thats a quote from the PDF. I found it just for you, so at least try to be polite.  

  I was the one calling Obama "The Great Disappointment", and then I run into you, chiding me with offers of bridges. 

 Furthermore,
please explain why wind sourced electricity is not cheaper than
coal-fired power plant electricity, over the long term, in the way I
suggested that once the initial cost is paid for, the next 20 years are
FREE.. as in the tag line "PAY FOR IT ONCE, AND THEN ITS FREE".

 I mean, PLEASE explain how that is wrong.  

 And the, I think I will add you to the "unionist list" [you know?} , cuz it is just too frustrating. 

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Your link doesn't work for anyone. Here's the correct URL:
http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/newenergy

You started this thread based on something Obomba allegedly said two days ago, but the only link you can come up with is over three months old, and predates the world capitalist financial meltdown. Nothing Obomba said in the election campaign can be assumed to apply now, because the cupboard is bare for anything other than bailing out the rich and powerful.

You didn't call Obomba a big (or any other size) disappointment in this thread (though I'm sure you are having second thoughts about your completely uncritical embrace of his candidacy last fall). What you did say above was that, based on something he allegedly said on Thursday, you were "almost starting to believe in the Great Hope" and you proceeded to wax enthusiastic about his promise of "cheap electricity". So pardon me very much for getting the impression you were once again ready to drink the Obomba Koolaid in one big gulp.

Electricity in the USA is generated by private, for-profit corporations. Even if wind-sourced electricity becomes cheaper to produce than nuclear or coal-fired (which at present is not yet the case) there is no reason to believe that the reduced costs would be passed on to consumers. Besides, in a market-based, capitalist economy, cheaper electricity is an incentive to consume, not to conserve and reduce.

If you want a more detailed critique of Obama's energy policy, [url=read">http://climateandcapitalism.com/?p=603][u]read this.[/url]

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Yep, I agree. Even if I believed Obomba (I like that, I hope you don't mind if I steal it) had a firm grasp on the state of the biosphere, and I don't, the outgoing administration has already plundered the national treasury and handed the loot over to the Federal Reserve to divvy up among the finanical elite.

That means Obama is reduced to stealing pennies from the poor, elderly, and sick to pay for any new programs he wishes to persue.  As a result, he will instead focus on a "stimulus package" that will transfer yet more wealth to private investors via corporate entities and any eco programs including energy will be shelved or reduced to token efforts.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Frustrated Mess wrote:

... Obomba (I like that, I hope you don't mind if I steal it)...

It's a [url=meme[/url]">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme]meme[... - it's meant to be replicated! 

Sven Sven's picture

M. Spector wrote:

The agrofuels "solution" only turns the energy crisis into a food crisis, as arable land is diverted from food production to ethanol production.

Agrofuels are a disaster.  I don't know any measure by which the idea to use agrofuels has been successful. 

M. Spector wrote:
 

And if you believe cheaper electricity is on the way, then I have a nice bridge I know you'll be interested in buying.

That is correct.  Greener energy is going to be a lot more expensive. 

_______________________________________

Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!

wwSwimming

it depends on the definition of "cheaper".

 a lot of the environmental costs - and the cost in human lives - of our use of fossil fuels never gets counted.

by that measure, any fossil fuels that come from the mid-East are incredibly expensive.

"which is cheaper" in terms of how much it costs on your bill, side-steps one issue.  once the investment is made in a renewable energy source, it produces energy almost indefinitely.  (still needs maintenance.)

there is also the issue of locally produced energy vs. energy produced & transmitted over a grid.

there aren't many "simple answers" but there are some sure-fire winners.  e.g. the bicycle. 

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Noah_Scape

Wind Farm Example:

Kirby Project bought by Trans Canada Pipeline

 44 generators of 3 MW ea, the project cost them $320M and it will produce about $50M per year in electricity.

 
That pays it off in just over 6 years, and then after that the $50M per
year is ALL GRAVY, for at least another 14 years [the gaurantee on wind
turbines is 80% efficient for 20 years] 

  And thats
my point. And nobody has wanted to say it publically that renewable
energy is CHEAPER but it is. And Obama said it publically last week -
"CHEAPER ENERGY". But I have been trying to tell everyone who will
listen for a year since I saw the light.

  So ya, I drink it because I MADE that Kool-Aid, and Obama is drinking it.  

 

Bubbles

Noah_Scape, the data you supply is a bit sparse. I assume that they get $50 million for the electricity but from that one should subtract interest charges on the $320 million, maintenance insurance and operatings costs. I suspect your 6 years is a bit optimistic, probably more likely double that.

Noah_Scape

 First - Bubbles, thanks for that sobering thought... Actually,
I suppose it mostly depends on how much the "KwHr rate" is - 10cents or
20 cents? Still, "pay for it once, and then it is FREE" is true, no?

 

Secondly, from earlier - I was wrong on Chu, and therefore Obama. 

Uh,
ya, it is true, Stevan Chu is a total "corporate hump" who is going to
let coal rule, promote more nuclear, and who rejects electric cars.

   I owe Spector an apology on that [but not about wind turbines being cheaper than coal over it's lifetime].

 
Obama is looking more like the Great Disappointment again. I keep
getting my hopes up, because we are human and we love to have hope.
When will I ever learn? Arrrrggg.  

 RedFaced and humbled, humiliated and hopeless, goodnight, it is noon.  

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

If you read all the news out to day and with context, Obama's campaign chairman's talk to the business elite in Canada, Clinton's statements before her congressional review, and the testimony of the new energy secretary (to be confirmed) Obama's statement that he will be visiting Canada first, what is being telegraphed is that a) NAFTA will not be renegotiated; b) The tar sands will continue to be exploited; c) Big coal will remain a major part of the US energy mix, and; d) We will see a cap'n'trade pretend climate change response with exceptions for developments like the tar sands.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Quote:
Energy-Secretary-Designate Steven Chu told a Senate Committee on Tuesday that the incoming administration would have an increased commitment to alternative energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal, but also made clear coal and nuclear would be part of the energy mix....

Chu was questioned closely by Republican and Democratic committee members about the new administration's plans for nuclear and coal. Chu said in a public lecture last year, available on YouTube, that coal was his "worst nightmare."

"That quote is ricocheting around the Internet," Chu said. "The context was whether we will continue using coal as we do today . . . that is a pretty bad dream."...

The U.S. has immense stores of coal, and Chu said he was "hopeful and optimistic we can use those resources in a clean way."

The only way to burn coal without increasing the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is to capture it and store it underground, something that's not being done at any of the nation's 450 coal-fired power plants.

As for nuclear power, Chu said that a federal loan program to provide funding to build new nuclear power plants needs to be accelerated, but he acknowledged that finding a way to safely dispose of the waste could be more difficult.

[url=Source[/url]">http://www.mcclatchydc.com/260/story/59625.html][=mediumblue][u]Sou...

Fidel

Energy guru Amory Lovins of RMI(free book download) says he has drafted a roadmap plan for the U.S. to be completely off of oil dependence by 2050. His plan includes renewables, energy efficiency, biofuels, and more efficient and lighter transportation vehicles. As M Spector says though, creating dependence on biofuels is not good for the overall food supply or the environment.

Lovins was an advisor to Bob Rae's NDP government in the 1990's and a source for some of the ONDP's green energy policies through to today. Canada's first governmental programs to curb greenhouse gas emissions were created during Bob Rae's time.

Policywonk

Fidel wrote:

As M Spector says though, creating dependence on biofuels is not good for the overall food supply or the environment.

Certainly not biofuels from corn or other grain grown for that purpose instead of food. Ethanol from agricultural waste or biofuels from algae may be considerably better for the environment. One way or another we are going to use much less energy.

 

wwSwimming

Obama is using the term "cheaper electricity" because that's what sells, in America, to Americans.

In the long run, 10-20 years out, electricity from renewables will be cheaper than electricity from fossil-fuels, even if environmental costs are ignorred.

If Obama was to be honest, he would just say, "well, it's what we need to do", and if pressed, he might say something about declining exports from fossil fuel producing countries.

I would say the true cost of fossil fuels is very apparent in the Israeli-Gaza conflict.  The US would not be backing Israel to this extent, if not for the presence of so much oil in the Middle East.

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Fidel

And let's not forget the massive amounts of hydroelectric power flowing south from Canada, a net exporter of electrical power to the US. Michael Ignatieff came to the realization fairly recently that most of the power transmission lines along the border are oriented north-south and not inter-provincial in Canada. The most wasteful and most oil-dependent economy in the world needs to practice conservation and efficiency on a much wider scale.

Noise

Quote:
Michael Ignatieff came to the realization fairly recently that most of the power transmission lines along the border are oriented north-south and not inter-provincial in Canada.

Ya, thats nation wide too.  Alberta/BC and California share the same electric grid, but we're disconnected from Ontario (I might be using old info for that, but too my knowledge it's correct).   Holds true for oil too.

 

Has anyone seen Pickens plan or any reaction to that?  Any North American region to the East of the Rockies are amoung the windiest area's in the world and ideal for wind farms and currently amounts to one of the greatest untapped resources on the planet.  Screw bailing out the auto industry, produce wind turbines not bigger trucks.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

[url=http://socialistworker.org/2011/06/23/case-for-clean-energy]We already have the technology to make fossil and nuclear fuels obsolete[/url]

[excerpt, with emphasis added]

Quote:
Can solar panels in the Southwest really power factories in the Midwest and tens of millions of homes and businesses on the coasts? Won't we need so many windmills that metallic giants will colonize every peak and plain? And what happens when the sun goes down at night or the wind stops blowing--won't we still need a robust back-up system based on the same dirty coal, oil and uranium we are trying to supplant?

It may seem hard to believe, but it is fully within our means today to make the alternative energy dream a green reality. All the technologies exist. The engineering is relatively straightforward, especially when compared to the epic size of our oil-powered, automobile-based societies. The need is obvious. Unless we want to consign humanity to a broiling, toxic swamp called earth, alternative energy is an imperative.

The tricky part, however, is society and politics. How our society and economy is organized; how wealth and resources are generated and distributed; which institutions have a vested interest in the status quo; and how to create radically different forms of decision making are the major obstacles to greening the global economy.

The first question is: Are there even enough alternative sources of energy to harvest? Different studies provide the answer.

Last August, Science magazine [url=http://www.sciencemag.org/content/329/5993/786.summary]reported[/url] that 101,000 terawatts of solar energy strikes the ground each year. This compares to annual global energy consumption of 15 terawatts for everything: heating, electricity and transport. (One terawatt is a million megawatts, roughly equivalent to the output of 1,200 nuclear power reactors.) Therefore, we only have to capture a little more than 1/10,000th of incoming solar radiation to satisfy all of humanity's energy needs.

Wind energy is not so abundant, but still plentiful. A [url=http://www.nrel.gov/wind/news/2010/816.html]recent report[/url] by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory put the total wind energy available in the United States was 37 million gigawatt hours of electricity, which is 12 times the demand. A [url=http://news.stanford.edu/news/2005/may25/wind-052505.html]2005 study[/url] by Stanford University researchers found worldwide 72 terawatts of "sustainable class 3 winds," meaning they are highly efficient for generating electricity. This estimate, which researchers call conservative, is nearly five times global energy demand.

A comprehensive 2006 report by MIT, [url=http://web.mit.edu/mitei/research/studies/geothermal-energy.shtml]"The Future of Geothermal Energy,"[/url] estimated that if the United States accessed just 2 percent of its geothermal potential, it would amount to 280 times our entire annual consumption. One recent study carried out at Stanford detailed how 100 percent of California's energy needs could be reliably met by 2020 with a mix of geothermal, solar and wind power alongside existing hydroelectricity.

The [url=http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=a-path-to-sustainable-e... 2009 issue of Scientific American[/url] featured another study detailing how to generate 100 percent of the world's energy from renewable sources by 2030. It would require manufacturing 3.8 million large wind turbines and 90,000 solar plants, and deploying geothermal, tidal and rooftop photovoltaic installations. The cost estimate was significantly less than if the same power was generated via fossil fuels and nuclear power. The construction of 3.8 million wind turbines might sound like a lot over a 20-year period, but as 70 million cars are manufactured every year, it is very feasible.

Clearly, the amount of energy available from solar, wind and geothermal sources, even without adding in tidal and wave energy, dwarfs current and foreseeable demand.

Sven Sven's picture

M. Spector, the piece you linked to highlights the abundant availability of alternative sources of energy.

But, if a person's utility bill will increase from, say, $120 per month to $180 per month, then there won't be enough interest in it.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

People will get interested pretty quick once the full effects of climate change have settled in.

If the capitalist "solution" of carbon taxes is implemented, utility bills will double before long, so people will be paying much more and not getting the benefit of saving the planet into the bargain.

Besides, the full implementation of renewable energy supply and the substantial discontinuance of fossil and nuclear fuel sources will never happen under the present system. It will require regime change, and for that to happen requires a hell of a lot more commitment on the part of the population than a mere $60 increase in their utility bills.

In addition, a socialist society would have abundant wealth at its disposal to pay for the capital and transition costs of going renewable - wealth that right now is in the private hands of a tiny minority of corporations and individuals, all of it appropriated either from nature or from the labour of the working classes. I wouldn't rule out an actual reduction in renewable utility costs once private profit is removed from the equation.

Sven Sven's picture

Here's my basic take on it: As oil becomes increasingly scarce, it will become increasingly more expensive (it will soon be well above $150 per barrel). That will make the relative cost of renewable sources attractive economically, even before taking externalities (i.e., the cost of fossil fuels on the environment) into account. Practically, I think that will be the tipping point when alternative sources of energy really start taking off. Prior to that, I think people will continue to focus on the hard dollar costs of energy (i.e., what's showing up in their utility bills every month), not the more squishy and hard-to-measure externalities.

6079_Smith_W

@ Sven

When you think that people used to build houses here on the prairies with no insulation whatsoever - our house had no insulation until we bought it in 2003 - and that burning barrels and dumping oil changes straight into the sewer was the norm when I was a kid, I think people have adapted to the changing costs and other environmental factors a bit more than you might think. 

Sure there are a lot of hard-nosed people, but it is not all about money, nor has it ever been. Besides, as M. Spector said, the price is going up one way or another. If people don't change, ultimately  they will be changed.

 

 

 

Policywonk

Sven wrote:

M. Spector, the piece you linked to highlights the abundant availability of alternative sources of energy.

But, if a person's utility bill will increase from, say, $120 per month to $180 per month, then there won't be enough interest in it.

No-one would be interested in nuclear energy if the costs and risks weren't subsidized.

Sven Sven's picture

 

6079_Smith_W wrote:

I think people have adapted to the changing costs and other environmental factors a bit more than you might think.

I think there has been a significant increase in awareness and sensitivity to many environmental issues.  I suspect that people litter less, recycle much more, are more conscious of energy-saving appliances, etc.

But, as the annual Gallup poll of Americans' concern about global warming indicates (see 2011 Gallup results), the belief that warnings about the dangers of global warming have been "exaggerated" has actually increased, not decreased, over the years (although they were stable this year relative to 2010).  As Gallup noted:

Quote:

Implications

Americans are clearly less concerned about global warming and its effects than they were a few years ago. While concerns across various Gallup measures did not continue to trend downward this year, they generally held stable near historical lows.

The reasons for the decline in concern are not obvious, though the economic downturn could be a factor. Gallup has shown that environmental concerns tend to take a back seat to economic matters when the economy is in poor shape.

Another possibility is that Americans worry less about environmental concerns under Democratic presidents, who are generally rated higher on environmental protection than Republican presidents.

Additionally, there have been controversies about the integrity of the data and analysis offered by global warming proponents in support of their positions.

The Gallup data do suggest that greater awareness and understanding of the global warming issue do not necessarily result in greater concern about it. The two moved upward in the mid- to late 2000s, but in recent years, concern has fallen as Americans' self-professed understanding has held steady or increased.

In other words, the trend regarding concern for the issue is not favorable.

And, with the world's biggest polluter, China (although not so on a per-capita basis), refusing to even consider any meaningful binding reduction in that country's production of GHGs (same with India, I believe), the prospects for a significant reduction in GHG production any time soon seem remote, at best.

But, the time will soon come when oil becomes so expensive that people will be forced to shift to alternative sources of energy.  I just don't see much evidence of that happening sooner, do you?

6079_Smith_W

Well as I said, If people do not change, then ultimately they will be changed, and polls taken now won't be quite as relevant when the playing field has changed, any more than we can compare our current world to situations in the 70s or the 50s.

 

Sven Sven's picture

It seems to me that big, long-term issues like climate change strike many people as being almost "other-worldly".

For example, the Congressional Budget Office just released its annual report on long-term debt projections.  The CBO is projecting that the debt-to-GDP ratio will be 101% by 2021 and about 150% by 2030 (which is where Greece is today).  And, just seven years later, will have skyrocketed to 200% (and my guess is that the ratios will actually end up being higher than that -- after all, just last year the CBO had projected that the ratio would "only" be 91% in 2021).

Yet, it seems like such an other-worldly non-issue for most people.  It's not affecting them today...so, why worry too much about it?  In the mean time, spending continues to increase significantly, there is no entitlement reform, and taxes are held pretty much static...thus, the gap keeps getting wider and wider.

Eventually, like energy, circumstances will take choice away as an option and people will be forced to deal with the issue -- but with much, much greater pain.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Sven wrote:

And, with the world's biggest polluter, China (although not so on a per-capita basis), refusing to even consider any meaningful binding reduction in that country's production of GHGs (same with India, I believe), the prospects for a significant reduction in GHG production any time soon seem remote, at best.

You're working with outdated information here, Sven.

According to a new analysis prepared for [url=http://www.oxfam.org/en/grow/pressroom/pressrelease/2011-06-06/developin..., China, India, and other developing countries have pledged better efforts at climate change mitigation than your country and mine:

Quote:

Tim Gore, Oxfam’s climate change policy advisor said: All countries need to do their fair share to tackle climate change. Yet rich industrialized countries which are most responsible for the climate crisis are not pulling their weight.

It’s time for governments from Europe to the US to stand up to the fossil fuel lobbyists. Their competitors in developing countries – from China to India and Brazil – have pledged to do more to rein in emissions and start building prosperous low carbon economies. Europe and the US risk being left behind.”

New figures from the forthcoming [Stockholm Environment Institute] overview of the [Cancún] pledges show that:

  • China’s total emissions reductions could be nearly double those of the US by 2020
  • The emissions reductions of developing countries could be three times greater than those of the EU by 2020.
  • The emission reductions of China, India, South Africa and Brazil – the BASIC countries – could be slightly greater than the combined efforts of the 7 biggest developed countries – the US, Europe, Japan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Russia by 2020.

Sven Sven's picture

M. Spector, are China's commitments legally binding commitments or merely aspirational commitments?

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

They were commitments made at the Cancun climate talks and just as binding as anyone else's. There's no international climate tribunal to make commitments legally binding - otherwise Stephen Harper would be in the dock!

Sven Sven's picture

Well, we'll see if their deeds mirror their words.  But count me a skeptic.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Hey, we're all skeptics when it comes to seeing countries put their promises into action.

I only chided you because you claimed China and India  were "refusing to even consider any meaningful binding reduction in that country's production of GHGs". 

Sven Sven's picture

M. Spector wrote:

I only chided you because you claimed China and India  were "refusing to even consider any meaningful binding reduction in that country's production of GHGs". 

Fair enough.

Now, I'm going to consider flying up in the air around my house for a while....

 

6079_Smith_W

I did read not to long ago that the new standard in buildings in China includes working greywater systems, and I believe they might also be one of the countries actively working on capturing urine to keep it from contributing to algae blooms. Two areas at least in which they are ahead of us.

But beyond the comparison with China, there are plenty of examples of governments and the public identifying an environmental hazard and dealing with it, even though in virtually eveyr case it has meant added costs and inconvenience - auto emission controls, catalytic converters, leaded gas, leaded paint, lead shot and lead weights,  restrictions on burning, more efficient insulation, DDT, waste and recycling.low till farming - to name just a few examples.

Whether change will come in enough time when it comes to this greater threat we don't know. But to imply that people won't pay attention to environmental issues, and that the dollar is the only deciding factor is simply not true.

 

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Tony Kreindler, media director for the National Climate Campaign at Environmental Defense Fund, wrote:
China is quickly becoming the global powerhouse in clean energy manufacturing and innovation, dwarfing the efforts of America. Backed by huge investment and an industrial policy bigger than the world has ever seen, China has become the worldwide leader in new energy technology markets while the U.S. is quickly falling behind.

[url=http://blogs.edf.org/innovation/2010/03/01/china-takes-the-lead-on-clean...