break the law, go back to the house of pain
el gato malo – boriquagato.substack –
there is an old saying among outlaws:
break only one law at a time.
- if you’re going to speed, don’t carry contraband.
- if you’re going to carry contraband, don’t speed.
this is how you avoid getting into real trouble.
break both at once, and that’s how you wind up in the pokey.
this goes double for laws of nature.
- ignoring the laws of physics is bad.
- ignoring the laws of economics is bad.
but ignore both at once and no matter how rakish you may feel, you’re headed for clownworld calamity.
there is nothing to save you.
and boy oh boy does europe seem determined.
welcome to the “subsidize demand and arrest anyone who tries to take advantage of the price caps” stage of the greendemic of darkness sweeping the globe as deeply unserious people propose deeply unserious “solutions” to entirely avoidable problems of their own making.
blaming all this on putin and his ukrainian adventurism is just plain wrong. sure, that might have been the snowflake that started the slide moving, but this avalanche has been getting ready to crush the village for a decade because the simple fact is this: “green energy” as currently conceived makes no sense.
it’s not cost competitive. it’s not real baseline energy. it cannot provide reliable power to grids without massive fossil fuel backups, and the more determined we get to implement wind and solar, the fewer real solutions (like nuclear) are possible. it’s a one way ticket to energy insecurity. and it’s entirely avoidable.
i’m not going to get into the “is CO2 driving dangerous global warming?” debate here. it’s too complex, takes 3 months just to understand the data well enough to read it, and no one ever convinces anyone.
let’s assume for a moment that we do care about CO2 levels.
can we at least agree that this is deeply stupid?
40% of EU “renewable” energy is from burning wood.
this is not carbon neutral.
cut down trees that took decades to grow, chip them, often ship this to the EU from america, then burn the wood is a huge loser. wood is incredibly high carbon. burning it produces more CO2 than even coal and the CO2 in a tree is released all at once and takes decades to recapture through regrowth and by then, you’ll have deforested europe. adding 3% to global energy from wood would double global annual forest cuttings from current levels. this is a complete scam and the absurdity of the chemical and eco claims is ably laid out by longtime gatopal™ doomberg.
if you seriously care about CO2, there is a simple way to lower output: go nuclear. nuclear is safe, cheap, reliable, and stable and the new designs are far more so. it produces zero CO2. contrary to popular misconception, the waste is actually pretty easy to handle and far less harmful than the slurries of radioactive mess polluting regions of china the size of many EU countries as a result of mining the dysprosium and neodymium that go into windmill turbine magnets.
sorry, but if you are anti CO2 and not pro nuclear, you’re anti-physics.
this one is truly, no fooling around obvious.
just the mass equations are staggering.
this also means that waste is tiny. the 85,000 tons the US has ever produced sounds like a lot, but it’s not. uranium oxide is 11 grams per cubic centimeter. the 2,000 tons of waste we produce annually is 164 cubic meters. that’s a cube 5.5 meters on a side. it basically fits in 2 40 foot long high cube standardized containers. (not that you would want to as it would go critical)
moving to 10 or even 100 X that is still basically zero in terms of storage capacity and the move to new reactor designs that can use existing waste as fuel just makes this easier.
this is an easy, obvious solution that’s being abandoned for the heinous crime of “actually working” and a bunch of groundless eco-hocus pocus from the 70’s.
it seems to be being avidly abandoned over superstitions about risk, waste, and the pretense of a lack of trade offs. wind and solar are neither clean nor eco friendly (especially if you like bats, raptors, or migratory birds). but they seem to be the chosen darlings of the greens.
unfortunately, there’s a bit of a problem: they don’t work.
and it’s not because, as the EU’s storyteller in chief would have you believe, because peak demand is too high and so (stop me if you’ve heard this one before) the curve must be flattened.
the problem is not demand at all. the problem is the kind of power that solar and wind supply and to understand why this is so, we first need to talk a bit about power grids.
some basic salients:
you cannot store power in utility scale quantities using any known, workable technology that is even remotely feasible. this, again, is just physics and chemistry.
you cannot just “add batteries.” the biggest battery system in the US can hold 19 minutes of the full summer output of the palo verde nuclear plant in arizona before being full.
the entire world makes roughly 1,100 gigawatt hours of Li Ion battery storage a year. it used 23,425 terawatt hours of power in 2019. so the entire current output could store ~0.005% of annual use. that’s about 24 minutes
sorry, but this plan is not possible as any sort of meaningful impact. even at 10X battery production even if it were affordable and feasible and we stopped making cell phones, laptops, EV’s, and the rest of it entirely, it cannot be meaningful even if it were ecologically sound (which it isn’t as this whole system would need to be replaced every decade or so).
oh, and seen the price of lithium lately?
and this means grids must be balanced in real time. power out = power in. supply MUST meet demand. this is “law of physics” stuff and barring some massive change in current technology level, it’s non-negotiable.
and this is why wind and solar are NEVER going to work and why they are not only destroying the grids they touch in meaningful size and making them unreliable and failure prone, but why they cannot ever form a foundation of true baseline power. they will always require huge investments in gas and oil burning “fast spin” systems on “rapid ready” to compensate for their inconstancy.
the problem with wind and solar is not that that they don’t make power (though how well they do this is severely exaggerated) or that they cannot cost compete (though they can’t, have much higher all in TCO than claimed, require massive subsidy, and blame the system costs they add on the very modalities they require to back them up). that would, at least, be something possibly fixable through engineering and innovation.
the problem is something altogether more intractable: their output is unpredictable and intermittent and has built in characteristics that tend to make it less available when it is needed most.
solar is simply terrible in this regard. not only is it a product that is not applicable to most regions, especially in winter, but it is also only available a few hours a day. even in excellent conditions, you’re only above 1/2 peak power for about 6 hours a day and are basically running at 0 for 12 hours. add in “partly cloudy” and you can see not only how rapidly you lose 80-90% of output, but how jarringly variable that output becomes. you’re talking about 5X leaps and 85% drops within the hour.
imagine trying to balance that on a grid in utility scale in real time.
so outside of a few niche applications like the american southwest where low humidity and high need for air conditioning during midday when solar is strong, this is not even remotely workable and in most temperate zones where winter heating needs peak at about 7 AM and 7 PM (both times that it is dark) you’re just going nowhere with this. it’s about 5% in the EU and basically only works in the summer. and winter is coming.