I’m Not Making This Up, You Know


Recently, Rep. Darrel Issa interviewed Josh Galvin, the acting head of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

REP. ISSA: Wouldn’t an oil lobbyist count as having a green job if they are engaged in advocacy related to environmental issues?

MR. GALVIN: Yes.

I couldn’t make something like this up, but Andrew Klavan did. Here’s a post with a video he did last year.

It Isn’t Easy Being Green


Especially when the jobs all seem to be brown jobs. And it’s unemployed blue-collar workers in swing states who would like to have some of those brown jobs that are likely to decide the coming election.

As Via Media points out, this is a problem for the Obama reelection campaign.

Is it November yet?

UPDATE–GOP house members suggest that good jobs would be created in the energy sector of the economy if the Government would get out of the way.

Two Years Ago Today …


We’ve placed a big emphasis on clean energy. It’s the right thing to do for our environment, it’s the right thing to do for our national security, but it’s also the right thing to do for our economy. … When it’s completed in a few months, Solyndra expects to hire a thousand workers to manufacture solar panels and sell them across America and around the world.

It’s happening right now. The future is here. It’s here that companies like Solyndra are leading the way toward a brighter and more prosperous future.

—Barack Obama, 26 May, 2010

(H/T, Byron York)

If I were running the President’s reelection campaign, I would avoid comparisons between his public equity financing record and Mitt Romney’s private equity record.

#GreenFail


Reuters reports that the 90 gigabucks spent on stimulating green companies has not come close to producing millions of high-tech jobs. (H/T, Hot Air) Fewer than 300,000 have been created at a cost of almost 110 kilobucks per job per year.

That kind of money could have financed the training of a generation of engineers and scientists who could have participated in developing new technologies that actually work in much the same way as their grandparents who trained via the GI bill produced the Apollo program, microprocessors, etc.

#GreenFail


Another one bites the dust. The world’s largest solar plant files for bankruptcy; the company has the second largest loan guarantee from the DoE, roughly 2.1 gigabucks. Zero Hedge has coverage.

And that is how in crony America taxpayer money goes from one insolvent pocket, to another, to Wall Street, all under the guise of idealistic pursuits and clean energy.

The Law of Supply and Demand and the Laws of Thermodynamics will trump wishful thinking every time, but the well-connected always seem to get a share before the collapse these days.

Curving The Grades


I know what it’s like to be the beneficiary of curving grades on an exam. I made a 35 on the final exam in Electrical Circuits III back in 1967, and that was good for an A. (The only other A on the exam was made by the guy who graduated first in our class; he got a 50.)

Apparently, the curve is even more generous for a Nobel laureate. Energy Secretary Chu gives himself an A-minus for his stewardship of the Obama administration’s green energy loans. The GAO says that 11 out of 13 loans it reviewed had not been properly vetted. That’s a 15% success rate. It’s a $30 billion program.

While a 15 might have gotten a B on that undergraduate exam I took years ago, I’d expect more rigorous evaluation of a Ph.D. with a Nobel prize. Yes, it was for Physics instead of Economics, but still …

Waiting For the Electrician


Electric cars were available over a century ago. If they’re such a good idea, why have they been displaced in the market by vehicles with internal combustion engines?

Energy density.

The amount of useable energy in the 64 pounds of gasoline in the tank of my Honda Fit will move the car about 350 miles. The amount of energy in 64 pounds of lithium-ion batteries will move the car perhaps as much as 50 miles.

Actual operating cost.

I can buy enough gasoline to drive for 100,000 miles for about $8500. At 9 cent/kWh the electricity costs are the same for 100,000 miles. My electric rates aren’t that cheap, and the replacement battery will probably cost several kilobucks per 100,000 miles.

Safety.

Until recently, lead-acid batteries were all that were used in most electric vehicles, and that meant hauling around a lot of sulfuric acid. Now, the flavor-of-the-month is lithium-ion. Since lithium-ion batteries are so energetic, they get very hot. The heat can cause the battery to vent the organic solvent used as an electrolyte, and the heat (or a nearby spark) can ignite it. Once that happens inside one of the cells, the heat of the fire cascades to the other cells and the whole pack goes up in flames.

It is possible to build an efficient hybrid system such as used on diesel-electric locomotives. I might be interested in such a vehicle if it hits the market. Until then, I’ll stick with internal combustion engines driving the wheels.

BTW, I’m an electrical engineer.

There’s No Free Lunch Either


Dawn Stover has a first-rate review of The Myth of Renewable Energy over at The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. Here’s the money quote:

Unfortunately, “renewable energy” is a meaningless term with no established standards. Like an emperor parading around without clothes, it gets a free pass, because nobody dares to confront an inconvenient truth: None of our current energy technologies are truly renewable, at least not in the way they are currently being deployed. We haven’t discovered any form of energy that is completely clean and recyclable, and the notion that such an energy source can ever be found is a mirage.

The whole thing is really worth reading.

By the way, any kind of activity will cause some kind of pollution. Any kind. It doesn’t matter what. The Second Law of Thermodynamics tells us that doing work raises the entropy in a system. There will always be, at the very least, waste heat.

This means that we must be good stewards of the planet, and that means that we need to improve how efficiently we generate, transmit, and use energy.

For example, electric cars have been around for over a century. If they were really more efficient, they would have be in common use all along. But burning coal to make steam to spin a turbine to turn a generator to make electricity to feed a step up transformer to drive a transmission line to be run through a substation transformer to be sent over a neighborhood line to be run through a pole transformer to feed a charging circuit to charge a battery to drive a motor to move a car is not necessarily as efficient as burning gasoline in a engine to move a car. And it can also have a worse net carbon footprint.

There are no easy solutions.