Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Warming Thoughts #8---Moral Hazard, the Precautionary Principle and Defunding Fossil Fuels


By: James F. Lavin, CEO Electron Storage, Inc.


If fossil fuel use, as advocated by many, ceased tomorrow, anthropomorphic global warming would indeed be dramatically slowed.   But most climate activists and most politicians haven’t considered the potential costs of such an abrupt transition; if tomorrow fossil fuels vanished, most of the humanity would be dead within a month.   There would be no food, no water, no sewage, no fertilizer, no communication.  I have read endless articles on the moral hazards of geoengineering research, and the moral hazards of CDR (Carbon Dioxide Removal) due to the potential that they might delay the end of fossil fuel use, but I have not seen any articles on the real potential hazards of government policies, mandates, bank regulator dictums, lawsuits, societal opprobrium, and shareholder resolutions aimed at ending the use of fossil fuels.


The precautionary principle so often used with regard to drugs and chemicals is to be very careful and ban the use of unproven technologies that may cause harm until proven otherwise, yet even optimists admit that 40% of the technologies we need to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 have yet to be developed.  The clean energy supply and energy distribution system to replace fossil fuels doesn’t yet exist.  If the incredibly rapid, difficult and technologically difficult doesn’t happen a schedule dictated by political sound bites, and we have crippled our fossil fuel distribution networks and power generation networks, the risk is to billions of lives. 


Why doesn’t the precautionary principle, so aggressively applied to minor plant genetic modifications, or, say, vaccines, apply to the grand experiment mandating the end of fossil fuel use?   There is too much comfort that fossil fuels and fossil fuel infrastructure will be there as a backstop despite every attempt to defund and cripple them.


Why aren’t we discussing the moral and real hazards involved in cutting off investment in new oil and gas fields, which are required to maintain earth’s population until we have proven on a wide-scale we can achieve transition?  Oil and gas supply, power plants, and the pipelines to distribute them take decades to develop; if a transition away from fossil fuels is ineffectively managed, they can’t simply be turned on at a moment’s notice to replace lost energy.  Suppose we can’t develop and deploy myriad technologies at the massive scale needed to effectuate the energy transition-- and we don’t have the fossil fuels and fossil fuel infrastructure still in place because we have starved them of investment? 


Because I still live here, let’s discuss New York.  New York is behind only Rhode Island in energy efficiency; it uses much less fuel for transportation than other states due to the extensive mass transit use in New York City.  It had one of the least carbon-intensive power grids due to hydropower largely from Niagara Falls, and until the shutdown of the Indian Point nuclear plant, 1/3rd of its grid power was nuclear.  NYSERDA has been taxing ratepayers to supposedly aggressively funding energy efficiency and transition projects for 45 years.


Despite these advantages, New York, to achieve net zero (ignoring the fact that New York imports many carbon-intensive products and foodstuffs) has to TRIPLE the capacity of the electrical transmission and distribution grid and find massive new clean power sources capable of meeting winter peak demand. There’s not a lot of sun in upstate New York in the winter, and electricity needs will grow dramatically as home heating is forced to switch from fossil fuels to electric heat pumps.  


But there has been no building of new large scale electrical transmission and distribution lines.  There is opposition to on-land wind farms, and the US government just cancelled two of the proposed offshore wind projects.  Despite this the government has blithely banned fracking and prohibited new pipeline development.  No progress, no feasible plan, and more proclamations competing for how soon New York must stop emitting CO2.


However, lets image that the sky is filled with linemen running new electric lines, no lawsuits delay massive new high voltage transmission lines, everyone wants modular nukes (assuming they are developed) in their backyards, multiple communities don’t object to massive wind projects everywhere, and somehow gas supply remains robust.   Even in this fantasia, what happens as gas main volume drops until they are uneconomic to maintain for those communities and individuals who couldn’t transition to electric heat and electric cars, and electric apparatuses for drying crops? 


Government officials and regulators proclaim and mandate the end of fossil fuels and enforce these proclamations with actions from banning pipelines to stopping new gas connections to forcing fossil fuel power plant retirements and dictating disinvestment in fossil fuels—but where is the responsibility for their citizens safety?  Is there any other area where they operate with such a true disregard for human life while being praised for it?  This is all with regard to New York.  The potential problems imposed upon the less developed world by banning oil and gas are much greater.  Where is the discussion of “climate justice” for killing fossil fuels without adequate, inexpensive replacements?


I believe CO2 buildup threatens life as we know it, endangering endless species and altering the planet.  I have dedicated the past 8 years of my life to CDR technologies and discussions.   If we are late in stopping global warming, we create a series of difficulties, most of which we can adapt to or mitigate as we continue to develop solutions.  If we prematurely cripple fossil fuel infrastructure, we will kill billions.  This real, and moral, hazard needs to be front and center in any honest discussion of stopping global warming.


Wednesday, March 24, 2021


I have asked the National Academy of Engineers to BOOT OUT one of their members.  He is KR Sridhar the CEO and Chairman of Bloom Energy

Here is my email to academy

Folks Lying Sridhar continues his GREENWASHED FRAUD in Delaware

The crooks at Bloom and the Sleaze at DE DNREC pretended to invent low carbon natural gas.  But now they are in a PICKLE.  The DNREC permits for the two dirty Bloom power stations in Delaware limit CO2 emissions on an hourly basis and on a running yearly (12 month)  basis.  Of course Bloom exceeds the maximum amount of CO2 emissions in the permits and this is because they do not have low carbon natural gas.

We have a new Sheriff in the form of Michael Regan who must now fine Bloom for excess CO2 emissions not only in Delaware but all over the country.  Michael Regan told the US Senate he will follow the science, end global warming and bring ENVIRONMETAL JUSTICE to these United States.  I am on his ass to do this.

The National Academy of Engineers must BOOT OFF LYING SRIDHAR as a member if they too FOLLOW THE SCIENCE.


Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Plans to Ban Natural Gas in NY

Everyone knows it's not smart to put all your eggs in one basket. You risk complete loss if something goes wrong with that basket. But that is exactly what New York State is planning to do with building electrification through its proposed ban on natural gas.

Recently, the Energy Efficiency and Housing Advisory Panel published "Preliminary Draft Proposal Recommendations Under Consideration" which lists several plans to ban future natural gas use in buildings (Fig. 1). No gas space heating or water heating in new construction. No gas space heating or water heating end-of-life replacements in existing buildings. No gas replacements for cooking or clothes drying appliances.  That's no gas allowed at all.

Energy Efficiency and Housing: Public Engagement Session presentation 2/4/21 p. 13

Figure 1. Page 13 of the Preliminary Draft Proposal Recommendations Under Consideration (1). Highlights added.

The Energy Efficiency and Housing Advisory Panel is a subcommittee of the Climate Action Council empowered by the ambitious New York Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act of 2019. The proposed gas bans are phased-in over the next 5 to 15 years in order to meet the Act's climate goals.

This command and control policy won't achieve the goals without serious unintended consequences. Consumers will rush to purchase and install gas technologies before the new bans take effect, undermining the purpose of the ban. Concurrent policies to increase the share of renewable wind and solar energy are being implemented, making electricity more expensive in NY. Importantly, relying solely on electricity for space heating puts NY residents in drafty buildings at risk from freezing during a blackout.

Such a shift in the way New Yorkers operate all their aging buildings in this short timeframe is improbable. Current technology being pushed comes in the form of all-electric ground-source heat pumps and cold climate air-source heat pumps. While these technologies are capable of providing comfortable interior environments in the context of holistic building design under normal operating conditions, they are expensive to install and maintain.

During the recent public comment period for the gas ban proposal, serious doubts were put forth regarding the functionality of alternative technologies in a variety of circumstances. Simply replacing gas burning furnaces and appliances with all-electric options may not work as intended. In the absence of super-insulated and tightly sealed building envelopes, heat pumps lose heat transfer efficiency in cold temperatures and need to run continuously. Their compressor oil needs to be heated by electric resistance to avoid mechanical failure. At extremely low temperatures, electric resistance backup heat is required, which is the least efficient and most expensive to operate. These factors put a greater load on the electric grid when it's needed most, increasing the risk of catastrophic failure and expense of operation. Heat pumps may not be able to keep up in some extreme conditions, such as a polar vortex, which climate models increasingly forecast.

A better policy approach is to continue to provide market incentives to encourage those who want and can afford all efficient technologies, including gas combined heat and power systems and climate-negative biofuels, to install them more easily. Funding research and development for future innovative solutions, such as better performing refrigerants, should be increased in an effort to make our buildings and energy systems better. 

~ Mark Bremer, Green Explored contributor

(1) Energy Efficiency and Housing: Public Engagement Session presentation, February 4, 2021. https://climate.ny.gov/-/media/CLCPA/Files/2021-02-04-EEH-Public-Engagement-Session.pdf

Friday, March 12, 2021



I wrote this email this morning to Jigar Shah who heads DOE $40 billion loan program and Michael Regan who heads the US EPA.

Jigar and Mr. Regan

I call Jigar by his first name as I know him, I hope to call Mr. Regan, Michael soon.

You do know I wrote Hydrogen Hope or Hype? back in 2003.   Thermodynamics has not changed in 18 years.

I also helped the WRI under Jonathan Lash think through Hydrogen when Bush 43 and Sam the Sham Bodman were hyping it.  I represented Shinko Pantec of Kobe Japan as far back as 1995 for their PEM electrolyzers at the US National Hydrogen Association.  Their former Managing Director, now retired Dr Hogetsu translated my book into Japanese.

I do believe there is some hope for hydrogen and am probably still one of the ten folks on the planet who know a bunch about hydrogen.  Bloom Energy is not part of that HOPE.  As Jigar once emailed me "they know how to get free money".  We do not need any BLOOMDOGGLES.

Mr. Lavin of New York and I funded research at Iowa State University on producing bio-ethane and bio-hydrogen from waste bio-oil in biomass pyrolysis.  We showed 84% efficiency in conversion of electrical energy into chemical energy using simple electrodes without noble or expensive metals.  Research and development on this should be now funded by DOE for scale up.  Note Khosla's KIOR went bankrupt because of the organic acids and aldehydes in bio-oil.  We make good use of these oil killer chemicals.

The news out of Israel is also promising in electrolysis.

For Blue Hydrogen produced with carbon capture, I am leading some of the most promising technology developments out there.

I suggest that the DOE/EPA convene a public WEBEX or Zoom that I am willing to participate in to showcase the real status and the real promise of zero or very low carbon footprint hydrogen.  You should also note that I led and paid a bunch of money for a spectacular failure in the pyrolysis of methane to make solid carbon and hydrogen.

We built a pilot plant based on published research from Lawrence Livermore Labs.  We proved after a lot of time and effort that the authors from LLNL were simply faking their results of yields and product quality.  Yes even prestigious national labs are aboard the hydrogen gravy train.  We don't need these Solyndras of Science to be repeated.

I look forward to assisting our nation and my country to follow the laws of thermodynamics and make meaningful reductions in carbon emissions..  I expect replies from both DOE and EPA that my voice and the voices of other Thermodynamicists will be heard and that GREEN NEW DEAL will NOT BE A REHASH OF THE GANGRENE OLD DEAL

Lindsay Leveen