Green Energy

The movement to convert the planet earth to green energy is being handled incorrectly. Currently the Administration is trying to bull it’s policies on the population with a leap into electric vehicles. If ever there has been a conspiracy it is the unified transition of automakers toward making only electric vehicles. This doesn’t seem like a good example of free market to me. In a true free market, automakers would build cars that people will buy and drive because that is what they want, not cars that the government has dictated to be made. If any policy put forward by the government was insane, it is this mindless shift toward electric vehicles. It is mindless because there is absolutely no thought being put into producing the electricity that will be demanded by these vehicles. I don’t see electric companies pledging to convert their power plants to non fossil fuels by 2035 as all the car companies have pledged to build only EV’s by then.

As always the government is last in trying to do something that will solve the problem, but as always it will be too late and too stupid. As I see it their only effort toward supplying green energy has been toward shutting off all forms of energy development within the USA. No new drilling, shut down coal plants, make gas too expensive to buy. Driving on the Interstate highway system should open the eyes of most people that are still alive and breathing. The lanes look like railroad trains with the exception they are made up of long chains of semi-trucks. Most of them diesel powered, and not very efficient. I suppose if I calculated the number of tons of cargo being carried and divided it by the total gallons of fuel being consumed I may be surprised to learn that these behemoth trucks are greener than cars. I said, “I may be surprised,” but I will place my bet on the opposite, i.e. that the trucks violate the meaning of “green.” Or maybe I should argue that the global economy breaks al the rules of green. Consider a cargos ship containing hundreds of containers being hauled across the oceans from country to country. These ships drink fossil fuel in gallons per second, and their numbers are scary large. Why don’t the Greenies move against them?

As I see it the green movement is a move backward. Greenies want us to live like the caveman who ate vegetation, walked to work, and slept in caves. Yet, at the same time the Greenies want to be able to talk to friends on hand held computers, watch entertaining videos all day long, and eat only pure food that grows naturally without the use of pesticides or chemical nutrients. They want to be mobile without using their own legs for travel, but any man made mechanism for locomotion must be pure so the air they breathe is clear. The one event that destroys this vision is when a volcano blows up and releases tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and burns millions of acres of forest that also release more poisons. But don’t worry, the Greenies will outlaw and regulate volcanoes to limit the green house gasses they emit.

My own vision for the future is that mankind will harness all the energy he needs from the sun, not the wind, not fossils, not from atoms, but the sun. The roof on my house is now littered with solar panels. It is the single thing that I can do to help move mankind into the future. At the same time, I am still dependent on getting power from the grid too. In order to make my home totally solar powered it will take a huge amount of money to expand the number of panels, and to add a storage battery. This is something I cannot afford to do and the payback is prohibitive. I don’t have that many years left.

While my house is more green than my transportation I feel that my car is as efficient as it can be, and there is no need for me to change over to an EV. Besides, I like the idea of being able to drive to my son’s house, a thousand miles from here, without having to look for a generator. Gasoline will not be in short supply for many years to come. I’ll pay the price for a gallon of gas to be able to travel. If Uncle Sam decides to create a gasoline shortage so that fools like me cannot use a car then I will not travel. Maybe when science invents a solar powered airplane I will change my mind. Until then I will drive as long as I am physically able.

“Naked” Hooked Me Too


written by Bruce Haedrich

When I saw the title of this lecture, especially with the picture of the scantily clad model, I couldn’t resist attending. The packed auditorium was abuzz with questions about the address; nobody seemed to know what to expect. The only hint was a large aluminum block sitting on a sturdy table on the stage.

When the crowd settled down, a scholarly-looking man walked out and put his hand on the shiny block, “Good evening,” he said, “I am here to introduce NMC532-X,” and he patted the block, “we call him NM for short,” and the man smiled proudly.

“NM is a typical electric vehicle (EV) car battery in every way except one; we programmed him to send signals of the internal movements of his electrons when charging, discharging, and in several other conditions. We wanted to know what it feels like to be a battery. We don’t know how it happened, but NM began to talk after we downloaded the program.

Despite this ability, we put him in a car for a year and then asked him if he’d like to do presentations about batteries. He readily agreed on the condition he could say whatever he wanted. We thought that was fine, and so, without further ado, I’ll turn the floor over to NM,” the man turned and walked off the stage.

“Good evening,” NM said. He had a slightly affected accent, and when he spoke, he lit up in different colors. “That cheeky woman on the marquee was my idea,” he said. “Were she not there, along with ‘naked’ in the title, I’d likely be speaking to an empty auditorium! I also had them add ‘shocking’ because it’s a favorite word amongst us batteries.” He flashed a light blue color as he laughed.

“Sorry,” NM giggled then continued, “Three days ago, at the start of my last lecture, three people walked out. I suppose they were disappointed there would be no dancing girls. But here is what I noticed about them. One was wearing a battery-powered hearing aid, one tapped on his battery-powered cell phone as he left, and a third got into his car, which would not start without a battery. So I’d like you to think about your day for a moment; how many batteries do you rely on?”

He paused for a full minute which gave us time to count our batteries.  Then he went on, “Now, it is not elementary to ask, ‘What is a battery?’ I think Tesla said it best when they called us Energy Storage Systems. That’s important. We do not make electricity – we store electricity produced elsewhere, primarily by coal, uranium, natural gas-powered plants, or diesel-fueled generators.

“So, to say an EV is a zero-emission vehicle is not at all valid. Also, since forty percent of the electricity generated in the U.S. is from coal-fired plants, it follows that forty percent of the EVs on the road are coal-powered, n’est-ce pas?” (French language for “isn’t it so.”)

He flashed blue again. “Einstein’s formula, E=MC2, tells us it takes the same amount of energy to move a five thousand pound gasoline-driven automobile a mile as it does an electric one. The only question again is what produces the power? To reiterate, it does not come from the battery; the battery is only the storage device, like a gas tank in a car.” 

He lit up red when he said that, and I sensed he was smiling. Then he continued in blue and orange. “Mr. Elkay introduced me as NMC532. If I were the battery from your computer mouse, Elkay would introduce me as double-A, if from your cell phone as CR2032, and so on. We batteries all have the same name depending on our design. By the way, the ‘X’ in my name stands for ‘experimental.’

There are two orders of batteries, rechargeable, and single-use. The most common single-use batteries are A, AA, AAA, C, D. 9V, and lantern types. Those dry-cell species use zinc, manganese, lithium, silver oxide, or zinc and carbon to store electricity chemically. Please note they all contain toxic, heavy metals.

Rechargeable batteries differ only in their internal materials, usually lithium-ion, nickel-metal oxide, and nickel-cadmium.

The United States uses three billion of these two battery types a year, and most are not recycled; they end up in landfills. California is the only state which requires all batteries be recycled. If you throw your small, used batteries in the trash, here is what happens to them.

All batteries are self-discharging. That means even when not in use, they leak tiny amounts of energy. You have likely ruined a flashlight or two from an old ruptured battery. When a battery runs down and can no longer power a toy or light, you think of it as dead; well, it is not. It continues to leak small amounts of electricity.

As the chemicals inside it run out, pressure builds inside the battery’s metal casing, and eventually, it cracks. The metals left inside then ooze out. The ooze in your ruined flashlight is toxic, and so is the ooze that will inevitably leak from every battery in a landfill. All batteries eventually rupture; it just takes rechargeable batteries longer to end up in the landfill.

In addition to dry cell batteries, there are also wet cell ones used in automobiles, boats, and motorcycles. The good thing about those is, ninety percent of them are recycled. Unfortunately, we do not yet know how to recycle batteries like me, or care to dispose of single-use ones properly. 

But that is not half of it. For those of you excited about electric cars and a green revolution, I want you to take a closer look at batteries and also windmills and solar panels. These three technologies share what we call “environmentally destructive embedded costs.” 

NM got redder as he spoke. “Everything manufactured has two costs associated with it, embedded costs and operating costs. I will explain embedded costs using a can of baked beans as my subject.

In this scenario, baked beans are on sale, so you jump in your car and head for the grocery store. Sure enough, there they are on the shelf for $1.75 a can. As you head to the checkout, you begin to think about the embedded costs in the can of beans.

The first cost is the diesel fuel the farmer used to plow the field, till the ground, harvest the beans, and transport them to the food processor. Not only is his diesel fuel an embedded cost, so are the costs to build the tractors, combines, and trucks. In addition, the farmer might use a nitrogen fertilizer made from natural gas.

Next is the energy costs of cooking the beans, heating the building, transporting the workers, and paying for the vast amounts of electricity used to run the plant. The steel can holding the beans is also an embedded cost. Making the steel can requires mining taconite, shipping it by boat, extracting the iron, placing it in a coal-fired blast furnace, and adding carbon. Then it’s back on another truck to take the beans to the grocery store. Finally, add in the cost of the gasoline for your car.

But wait — can you guess one of the highest but rarely acknowledged embedded costs? NM said, then gave us about thirty seconds to make our guesses. Then he flashed his lights and said, “It’s the depreciation on the 5,000 pound car you used to transport one pound of canned beans!”

NM took on a golden glow, and I thought he might have winked. He said, “But that can of beans is nothing compared to me! I am hundreds of times more complicated. My embedded costs not only come in the form of energy use; they come as environmental destruction, pollution, disease, child labor, and the inability to be recycled.”

He paused, “I weigh one thousand pounds, and as you see, I am about the size of a travel trunk.” NM’s lights showed he was serious. “I contain twenty-five pounds of lithium, sixty pounds of nickel, 44 pounds of manganese, 30 pounds cobalt, 200 pounds of copper, and 400 pounds of aluminum, steel, and plastic. Inside me are 6,831 individual lithium-ion cells.

It should concern you that all those toxic components come from mining. For instance, to manufacture each auto battery like me, you must process 25,000 pounds of brine for the lithium, 30,000 pounds of ore for the cobalt, 5,000 pounds of ore for the nickel, and 25,000 pounds of ore for copper. All told, you dig up 500,000 pounds of the earth’s crust for just — one — battery.”

He let that one sink in, then added, “I mentioned disease and child labor a moment ago. Here’s why. Sixty-eight percent of the world’s cobalt, a significant part of a battery, comes from the Congo. Their mines have no pollution controls and they employ children who die from handling this toxic material. Should we factor in these diseased kids as part of the cost of driving an electric car?” 

NM’s red and orange light made it look like he was on fire. “Finally,” he said, “I’d like to leave you with these thoughts. California is building the largest battery in the world near San Francisco, and they intend to power it from solar panels and windmills. They claim this is the ultimate in being ‘green,’ but it is not! This construction project is creating an environmental disaster. Let me tell you why.

The main problem with solar arrays is the chemicals needed to process silicate into the silicon used in the panels. To make pure enough silicon requires processing it with hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, hydrogen fluoride, trichloroethane, and acetone. In addition, they also need gallium, arsenide, copper-indium-gallium- diselenide, and cadmium-telluride, which also are highly toxic. Silicon dust is a hazard to the workers, and the panels cannot be recycled.

Windmills are the ultimate in embedded costs and environmental destruction. Each weighs 1,688 tons (the equivalent of 23 houses) and contains 1,300 tons of concrete, 295 tons of steel, 48 tons of iron, 24 tons of fiberglass, and the hard-to-extract rare earths neodymium, praseodymium, and dysprosium. Each blade weighs 81,000 pounds and will last 15 to 20 years, at which time it must be replaced. We cannot recycle used blades. Sadly, both solar arrays and windmills kill birds, bats, sea life, and migratory insects.

NM lights dimmed, and he quietly said, “There may be a place for these technologies, but you must look beyond the myth of zero emissions. I predict EVs and windmills will be abandoned once the embedded environmental costs of making and replacing them become apparent. I’m trying to do my part with these lectures.

Thank you for your attention, good night, and good luck.” NM’s lights went out, and he was quiet, like a regular battery.

* * *

The format is stupid, but the info is right on target. If you want to inflict maximum damage on the environment, you support EVs, wind turbines and solar panels – all with their associated batteries. They don’t even come close in being as environmentally clean as coal, natural gas, and nuclear power. Likewise, their (EVs, WTs, and Solar) cost is going to be exorbitant. WTs and Solar reliability is poor.

Electric vehicles are taxpayer subsidized for the purchase of each hybrid or fully electric vehicle with a discount of about $7,000. Then, the government does not collect road-use taxes. Further, the new infrastructure bill provides several billion dollars of taxpayer funds to build charging stations. Do we really want our Government in the “electric filling-station” business?

This is exactly what all these self-proclaimed, highly educated, intellectual, “ECO Nazi-es” need to read.

Never mind, they’re too intellectually deficient to comprehend how intertwined this information is with the damage being inflicted on our earth’s environment thanks to their “Green New Deal”

* * *

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?