Was the Grid a Campaign Promise or a Lie?

Yesterday, I raved about the Newsweek article titled “Hit the Road Barack.” In this article, Niall Ferguson points out that Obama broke a promise to build a modern electrical grid. Concurrently, I received the statement shown below from my electricity supplier. Note the amount of electricity being generated by various forms of fuel. Granted this distribution is from Illinois, but I believe it will be similar for all fifty states. In Illinois we burn coal to supply 45.6 % of our electricity. Our second largest fuel is Uranium 238 (Nuclear Power). Illinois has a heavy concentration of nuclear power, and has been a leader in this area since nuclear power came on the scene. There is a lake between Channahon and Morris, Illinois where spent fuel glows with an eerie blue light underwater.

So what did our president decide to do? He made good on a campaign promise to break the back of the coal industry in AMERICA. President Obama professes his home town is Chicago, Illinois, yet he threw the Illinois coal mining industry under the bus. There is enough coal under Illinois to provide the total energy demand of the USA for a hundred years. How large will the hole be that remains after removing a hundred years worth of coal? Certainly it will be large enough to throw the Chicago and State of Illinois Democrat machine in forever.

Think about this, where will you get half of your electricity when coal is gone? Will it be from nuclear? Not a chance. It takes ten years and a boat load of money to build a modern nuclear power plant. Will it be wind power? Look at the numbers below and tell me how many windmills can generate that much electricity. Illinois already sports way too many ugly windmills and I cannot imagine what the countryside will look like if we got half of our power from wind.

Will it be solar? Not in the Chicago area, our cloud cover from Lake Michigan makes the Chicago area one of the least effective solar power areas in the world.

Will it be from hydro-power? Not likely, since we don’t have waterfalls or raging rivers in our state.

Most likely, we will get it by converting coal plants to natural gas. The cost of converting that many coal-burning plants will be expensive. Oh yes, we will continue to burn coal, but it will be expensive. Face it, our electrical bills will rise faster than the deficit.  So, what has all this have to do with the new grid?

Fuel Distribution

When I first heard about a new electrical grid, something very robust and flexible came to mind. The grid would have to accommodate attacks from foreign powers without shutting down the entire country; the grid would work like the internet. The idea for a new grid comes up each time we have a blackout of major proportions.

After reading a bit about the new national grid I have learned that the need is not driven by national security at all. It is President Obama’s Green Energy Policy driving the need. When the USA finally achieves the goal of replacing hydrocarbon fuels with sustainable green energy like wind, solar, geothermal, and hydro a very flexible grid is needed to accommodate energy feeds from all these sources. On a windy day, when every windmill is running at peak, the new grid will feed the electricity all over the country. In the daytime, the solar panels will kick in, and feed the need. At night, when there is no solar, and very little wind, the grid would allow feeds from generating plants.

Can you imagine how many windmills and solar panels it will take to feed our electrical appetites?  I see every house in America roofed in solar panels, with the siding also generating electricity. Our lawns will be silver with solar panels. Each house will have a huge battery in  the basement to store excess energy for power on cloudy, windless days. We will need a degree in electrical management to run our in-home electrical needs like turning on light bulbs. What we don’t use will feed into the new flexible energy grid.  I almost forgot, windmills will top the same solar clad home.

I’ve said enough to show that the green energy thing is a giant wet dream being fed to the Sheeple of America for making the Green Energy lobby in Washington very happy. When every public building and house in America sports a windmill or two the new national power grid might become a reality. The real reason for the green energy policy is to pave the way for the Cap and Trade business of paying fines for exceeding CO2 emissions. The fines will go into an International Carbon Bank led by insider bureaucrats for distribution to countries who do not generate CO2. Of course the bureaucrats will feed their pockets with the free flow of carbon money coming in.

Who ever fed President Obama these ideas has used mind altering substances, and is having grandiose Dreams From Obama’s Father. Perhaps in one-hundred years the green energy thing will become a workable reality, but now it is a huge lie being forced on us as an excuse to steal  our money.

Green Energy for the White House

Where Does it Leave Us?

It's Always More Fun to Gamble With Someone Else's Money

The US Energy Policy is so easily solved it is a wonder why the genius liberal think tank in the White House cannot figure it out. With all the PhD intellectual types in positions of csardom they do not have enough practical thinking to fill the brain cavity of an ant. Before I propose my plan I want to review the wonderful new ideas proposed by the PhD’s to direct the country toward clean renewable energy sources.

Wind Power

According to Wikipedia,

“The wind wheel of the Greek engineer Heron of Alexandria in the 1st century AD is the earliest known instance of using a wind-driven wheel to power a machine.”

That places this idea at over two thousand years old. Modern man is just beginning to realize the potential for using the wind to generate electricity. Is it practical? Yes, if you limit the idea to powering homes with electricity. Scaling up to power the entire need of a metropolitan city is another matter. The best that we can do today is to use wind power at peak periods to aid more conventional power generation. Environmentalists love the idea of using this “free” and clean commodity to solve our problems. They neglect to see the environmental disaster being created by the wind turbines batting birds from the sky by the thousands. How environmentally friendly is that Greenbats?

So why doesn’t the White House PhD army propose an incentive for homeowners to buy wind turbines for their homes?  It isn’t proposed for many reasons, cost is one, another is what to do with over-generation, another is the amount of noise pollution that will irritate the neighbors. If everybody had a wind turbine, the noise factor would be equalized right? Wrong, I believe Obama care would be overwhelmed by the cost of replacing hearing aid batteries for all the deaf people created by the turbine noise.

Electric cars

The first known invention of an electric car came in 1828 from Hungarian inventor Anyos Jedlik. The world went crazy for the idea and by the early 1900’s there were many electric cars running around. The range was about eighteen miles. The new Chevy Volt and others like it get about forty miles on a charge. To my way of thinking if batteries have doubled the range of an electric car in a mere one hundred and eighty-four years we will have viable electric cars in the year 2564. Perhaps the genius White House pool of PhD’s will pull a break through out of the hat and create a miracle.


James Watt (Watt as in 60 watt bulbs) the Scottish inventor developed steam-powered generation of electricity in 1781 and he gets credit for inventing the flywheel. Flywheels are great for keeping the mass of a piston engine rotating through a complete power cycle. More recently, the Obama administration invested in this idea, already two hundred and thirty-one years old, as a way to store energy. Excess electrical energy that is generated during off-peak hours would be used to spin a flywheel. The energy stored in the spinning wheel would then be used to support the steam turbines during peak hours. Again, I’m not a PhD but common sense tells me that a flywheel large enough to store the kind of energy needed to power a city is scary, especially when it is spinning fast. There are some applications using flywheels to store energy toward a useful end. One is powering city buses. Normal driving between stops stores surplus energy in the flywheel. When the bus accelerates from a stop, energy from the flywheel helps the engine overcome inertia.

Solar Power

A huge amount of energy flows to earth from the sun, and solar power makes sense. In Arizona I saw model homes with solar roofs offered as an option. The solar panels cut the cost of energy in a modest thousand square foot home by seventy-nine percent, that sounds good doesn’t it?  Climatologists use a measure called percent sunshine to compare available sunshine in cities. Flagstaff, AZ gets seventy-eight percent sunshine while Yuma, AZ measures ninety percent, in the Chicago area, where I live, it is fifty-four percent, and the lowest percent sunshine is in the north ( New Hampshire and Alaska) where the percent sunshine drops into the thirties.  What that means is the cost of electrifying homes is vastly different across the country.

Why is the cost of solar energy so expensive to install? It takes too many panels to do the job. Current state of the art solar panels are ten percent efficient. Current U.S. fossil fuel plant efficiencies range from forty-six percent to as high as fifty-eight percent, while Europe lags at thirty-six percent.  If solar panels could convert sun energy into electricity at fossil fuel plant efficiencies the argument would end, and solar would win.

There are records of solar power being used by Ancient Egyptians, but the credit for modern solar power goes to a Bell Lab team who discovered the use of silicon as a semi-conductor in nineteen fifty-four. The six percent efficiency of their discovery is not far from Solyndra’s high-tech eight percent efficient panels.

Even when the solar panel efficiency and cost effectiveness finally makes it practical, there are issues with storage of power in the home and the need for homeowners to know how to deal with them. Most home-owners have problems finding the shut-off valve under a sink much less be able to understand or support an array of electrical storage batteries.

My prediction is that it will take one hundred and seventy-four years (2186) at current development rates to match the efficiency of  fossil fuel power.

Where does that leave us?

When planet Earth faces complete depletion of all its fossil fuels the need will precipitate urgent emergency development programs to save the planet from extinction. Remember the old adage “necessity is the mother of invention?” Why is it that we will wait for crisis to occur before we act?  If we continue down the same paths we have been on we will continue to get the same results. I tire of listening to our élite Organizer President say one thing and then do the opposite. I also tire of hearing him say “don’t bring me the same tired old ideas that don’t work.” I tried to make a point above about the age of the ideas he has gambled on with  billions of tax payer dollars, and they do not work well enough to satisfy our needs.

My recommendation is the USA must:

1. Declare fossil fuels as a standard: Use coal, oil, natural gas, and oil shale to provide energy, with emphasis on reducing emissions by fifty percent within ten years.

2. Obtain all fossil fuels from the Americas to end the drain of resources to the Middle East. We must cut off the flow of  our money going to the Arabs who then bring the money back into subversive causes within the USA.  Let Europe and China take the Arab oil. They like diversity in their countries, let them depend on diversity one hundred percent.

3. Provide incentives for basic research in alternate fuels. We need break-through science and invention to cut the years it will take to gain fossil fuel independence. This does not mean investing in losers like Solyndra, it means putting money into basic research at creditable labs and educational institutions.

4. Establish a National Energy Innovation Prize of fifty million dollars. The award goes to the first private sector inventor who develops a forty-percent efficient solar energy system.

5. Re-direct NASA into the National Solar Agency with a goal to power the earth with clean efficient  solar energy in ten years. Do you remember when John F. Kennedy declared a goal to put our man on the moon within ten years? He did what leaders do, he led. The country got behind it and within ten years we put a man on the moon. The amount of benefit we derived from that effort is what made the USA a science and technology powerhouse. The list of products we use everyday that were the result of the race to the moon is endless.. The investment in technology paid back one hundred fold or more. Compare that to stupid investments in crony companies that are on the verge of failure.

So how hard was that to do? Better yet, why doesn’t the White House PhD Think Tank come up with these ideas? Why doesn’t the “pick and choose” tax payer gambling Organizer in Chief  come up with some new ideas that will work besides his tired old idea of tax and spend?