Having solved all other problems, Obama to fix your dishwasher

Seal of the United States Department of Energy.

Seal of the United States Department of Energy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, guys, Apparently, our appliances still aren’t efficient enough. Of, course you know, and so do I that every time the government mandates things for your own good, the aforesaid things get worse. How many times do you flush your new super efficient toilet? Yep, so do we all. How many time do we have to flush a low flow toilet before it uses more water than the old one? 2 maybe 3.

You know of course that washers and dryers made in the 60s and 70s will last forever, you probably also know that new ones won’t, a couple of years is it. Why? because they are efficient. Sounds counterintuitive, but really, it’s not. You make things efficient by making them just barely good enough. Very little margin involved, just enough water on average, just enough motor, don’t use 16 gauge metal when 22 gauge will work, and so on. You make long term dependability by over engineering things- making them better than they absolutely have to be. You can’t have both, and you can’t choose anymore either.

From Hot Air

I guess he really was multitasking out on the golf course. The President’s team has been hard at work behind the scenes, coming up with a strategy … well, maybe we should say plan, to address the nation’s many challenges.

Spurred by President Obama’s climate action plan, the Department of Energy is pumping out new standards for refrigerators, dishwashers, air conditioners, ceiling fans, furnaces, boilers, water heaters, lamps and many more appliances.

The administration says the standards will not only help the planet but also stimulate the economy by saving consumers money on their energy bills that they can spend elsewhere.

After what we’ve been through with energy regulations, you’d think the administration would be at least a little hesitant to leap in for another grab at that brass ring. I mean, won’t a sudden raft of new requirements for the products everyone has to purchase have some, er… unintended consequences? William Teach seems to have been thinking along the same lines.

While the rules may save a bit of energy (and there is nothing wrong with that, though it should be the consumer choice, not Government Mandate), it will also drive up the cost of the appliances/devices, which will harm the lower and middle classes.

Having solved all other problems, Obama to fix your dishwasher « Hot Air.


Gome with the Wind

Beautiful countryside in southern California.

Image via Wikipedia

Well, we really need that wind power that Obama talks about don’t? We need it so badly that the Bonneville Power Administration paid a wind farm $50 million last year to shut down their windmills. I’m sure you remember what I’ve said all along: Wind power is peaking power, if you don’t have the base power (that is dependable 24/7) all the peaking power in the world may not help. A good bit of BPA’s hydro is base power unless the Bonneville dam falls down (or the Columbia Nuclear Station goes down) but still unlimited peaking power is not the answer.

Incidentally, BPA is a Federal Agency, from Wikipedia:

The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) is an American federal agency based in the Pacific Northwest. BPA was created by an act of Congress in 1937 to market electric power from the Bonneville Dam located on the Columbia River and to construct facilities necessary to transmit that power. Congress has since designated Bonneville to be the marketing agent for power from all of the federally owned hydroelectric projects in the Pacific Northwest. Bonneville, whose headquarters are located in Portland, Oregon, is one of four regional Federal power marketing agencies within the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Presumably this $50 million will come from the ratepayers but, since this is the DOE I wouldn’t bet much on it.

From Fox News:

But hey, at least they aren’t killing bald eagles when the windmills are shut down.

Hattip to Sara at American Freedom for calling my attention to this.

Karma’s a B*tch

Steve Maley reported the other day on the Fisker Karma. You know $87K Electric car that’s made in Finland with $529 Million US taxpayers dollars in Green subsidies to companies that include one Albert Gore. We could note that this is about the same amount as Solyndra’s loan guaranties but, I’m sure you already knew that.

Well Steve has found that using a rational formula this silly thing gets worse mileage than a Ford Explorer, whodathunkit?

Here’s Steve:

Karma’s a Botch

Image from Wikipedia.

Last week, we heard about the Fisker Karma, the new electric vehicle being built in Finlandusing a $529 million loan from U.S. taxpayers. Beneficiaries of this deal include one Albert Gore, partner in the “green” venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Now Forbes contributor Warren Meyer weighs in with an analysis of the Karma’s true energy efficiency, rate in miles-per-gallon equivalent according to a DOE formula:

Update: Fisker Karma Electric Car Gets Worse Mileage Than an SUV

The Fisker Karma electric car, developed mainly with your tax money so that a bunch of rich VC’s wouldn’t have to risk any real money, has rolled out with an nominal EPAMPGe of 52 in all electric mode (we will ignore the gasoline engine for this analysis).

Not bad? Unfortunately, it’s a sham. This figure is calculated using the grossly flawed EPA process that substantially underestimates the amount of fossil fuels required to power the electric car, as I showed in great depth in an earlier Forbes.com article. In short, the EPA methodology leaves out, among other things, the conversion efficiency in generating the electricity from fossil fuels in the first place [by assuming perfect conversion of the potential energy in the fuel to electricity, the EPA is actually breaking the 2nd law of thermodynamics].

In the Clinton administration, the Department of Energy (DOE) created a far superior well to wheels MPGe metric that honestly compares the typical fossil fuel use of an electric vs. gasoline car, using real-world power plant efficiencies and fuel mixes to figure out how much fuel is used to produce the electricity that goes into the electric car.

As I calculated in my earlier Forbes article, one needs to multiply the EPA MPGe by .365 to get a number that truly compares fossil fuel use of an electric car with a traditional gasoline engine car on an apples to apples basis. In the case of the Fisker Karma, we get a true MPGe of 19. This makes it worse than even the city rating of a Ford Explorer SUV.

[Emphasis added.]

Read the Rest.

Hard to believe isn’t it? The unicorns are optional too, I’m told.

Oh, and what word did you think I meant in the title?

Solyndra Part 5429? (I’m not sure either)

Seal of the United States Department of Energy.

Image via Wikipedia

I know I’ve written four times about this but, I choose not to write about it every day, I (and you) get bored with it. But Solyndra, like Fast and Furious, and Old Man River, just keeps rolling along.

This installment is from the Washington Post via Hot Air and Melissa Clouthier and details how layoff announcement was delayed till 3 November 2010 at the cost of $40 Billion taxpayer dollars.

The Washington Post broke this story earlier this morning.  Does anyone want to argue that Solyndra isn’t a scandal now?

“The Obama administration urged officers of the struggling solar company Solyndra to postpone announcing planned layoffs until after the November 2010 midterm elections, newly released e-mails show. …

“Solyndra’s chief executive warned the Energy Department on Oct. 25, 2010, that he intended to announce worker layoffs Oct. 28. He said he was spurred by numerous calls from reporters and potential investors about rumors the firm was in financial trouble and was planning to lay off workers and close one of its two plants.

“But in an Oct. 30, 2010, e-mail, advisers to Solyndra’s primary investor, Argonaut Equity, explain that the Energy Department had strongly urged the company to put off the layoff announcement until Nov. 3. The midterm elections were held Nov. 2, and led to Republicans taking control of the U.S. House of Representatives.”

Read the Article.

About the only thing I find even slightly humorous about this debacle is that Hot Air commenters are referring to Michelle Malkin referring to Obama as Icarus and recalling his fate. I’m reasonably certain at this point that if the Republicans had won the Senate, impeachment would be in the air.

But at least its only a year until elections.

Solyndra (et. al.) Part III

On 140 acres of unused land on Nellis Air Forc...

On 140 acres of unused land on Nellis Air Force Base Image via Wikipedia

The Solyndra thing just keeps going on. I notice today that DOE has made some other Solar energy loans.

DOE announced a $737 million loan guarantee to help finance construction of the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, a 110-megawatt solar-power-generating facility in Nye County, Nev. The project is sponsored by Tonopah Solar, a subsidiary of California-based SolarReserve.

The Energy Department said the project will result in 600 construction jobs and 45 permanent jobs…

The Energy Department also announced that it had finalized a separate $337 million loan guarantee to Sempra Energy for a 150-megawatt photovoltaic solar-generation project in Arizona.

The project will result in 300 construction jobs, DOE said.

Let’s see, that totals 260 Megawatts of power which is enough power to power the houses (only) in Brooklyn. But only in the daytime for $1.074 Billion. Oh, and it will create a whole 45 permanent jobs.

Could there be Democratic connections in this? Of course there could. Andrew Stiles at The Corner has the story via Ben Domenech’s The Transom.

It gets messier and messier.

Solyndra–Not Ready For Prime Time

Seal of the United States Department of Energy.

Image via Wikipedia

If you’ve been reading here, you know that my opinion on Photovoltaic (PV) solar power is quite negative. Here’s why. It’s rather like trying to commercially produce a 1940 Dodge in 1885.

  1. Energy storage: If you need energy when the sun is not shining, solar is not very useful unless you have a method to store it. If you own a huge plant in the desert maybe, but otherwise you have to store the power. In the industrial, supersized system we are talking about here about the only current solution is to pump water uphill to run a hydro plant. This works but is very inefficient on both ends.
  2. Power conversion: Solid state devices like PV cells produce Direct Current (DC). This is fine in lots of local applications but difficult to transfer for any distance. We had this argument circa. 1890. On one side was Edison with his DC generator; on the other was Westinghouse with his Alternating current (AC) alternator. Westinghouse won because AC power can easily and efficiently have its voltage raised and lowered. This is why your house (240VAC) and your car starter (12VDC) run on roughly the same sized wires. The transmission line in this country run from about 33,000 volts to 800,000 volts. The higher the voltage, the more power for the same sized wire.
  3. Dependability: In case you hadn’t noticed the sun only shines in the daytime and sometimes it is cloudy or rainy. (see also number #1) To be practical you must have what is called firming power available for your solar array. In the grid this usually means oil or natural gas. Coal is too slow to start up. This makes this expensive energy also.
  4. Cost: The cost of PV generated power is at least the wholesale cost of natural gas and lots higher than coal. More later on this.

These are all basically engineering problems and can probably be solved, some day. How much are you willing to invest in this which has a payoff measured in (at least) decades?

Now we move into the realm of crony capitalism, if you read here much, you know my opinion of politicians and lawyers picking winners and losers. Adam Smith was right.

Anyway, Brian Ross of ABC News has obtained some e-mails relating to the White House pressuring the Energy Department to make a decision for political reasons. We’ll let him tell the story.

Newly uncovered emails show the White House closely monitored the Energy Department’s deliberations over a $535 million government loan to Solyndra, the politically connected solar energy firm that recently went bankrupt and is now the subject of a criminal investigation.

The company’s solar panel factory was heralded as a centerpiece of the president’s green energy plan — billed as a way to jump start a promising new industry. And internal emails uncovered by investigators for the House Energy and Commerce Committee that were shared exclusively with ABC News show the Obama administration was keenly monitoring the progress of the loan, even as analysts were voicing serious concerns about the risk involved. “This deal is NOT ready for prime time,” one White House budget analyst wrote in a March 10, 2009 email, nine days before the administration formally announced the loan.  Read the rest.

In addition Michael Barone in the Washington Times writes that this mess may well have political causes and effects (what goes around, comes around).

One factor favoring President Obama’s re-election, according to a recent article by political scientist Alan Lichtman, is the absence of scandal in his administration.Lichtman may have spoken too soon.

The reason can be capsulized in a single word: Solyndra.

That’s the name of a company that manufactured solar panels in Fremont, Calif. (which voted 71 percent for Obama in 2008).

We are not done yet, the Energy Department has in the last few weeks handed out a loan guarantee to $150 million to 1366 Technologies of Lexington, Massachusetts.
1366 Technologies  has theoretically developed a thin film method of making PV cells on a commercial scale. If so this could be important. They claim that their system can produce electricity at aroung 19cents/KWH. See chart.

Courtesy of 1366 Technologies

If this works out in the real world, this could be close to a break through. This cost of production is only about 150% of the retail rate here in Nebraska, which is a low cost state. We’ll see. There are still all the problems we wrote about above.
The Financial Times also has more on the story: Subscription required.
The technical issues are still awaiting solutions however. All the government wishful thinking in the world will not solve them, when it become economically feasible it will happen, until then, it won’t. The business model they seem to be using is to produce a product at $6.00 and sell it for $3.00 and make it up on volume. That’s called a money pit.
There are also 1100 new people unemployed in California because of this.
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