Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Ethical Depravity of Wishing Coal and Oil on the Poor

Today being Boxing Day observed or maybe later, Eli brings the gift of ethical behavior to his coal tarred friends who remain not in this century but the one passed a hundred years ago, who demand the rest of us remember the poors by giving them the Gift (german usage) of coal.

Yet this is a tactic which reality has passed by, as solar and wind costs rapidly descend today to roughly the price of gas and below.

The perfect storm for oil and gas is the oversupply, to which the investment in renewables is providing additional pressure
Oil and gas woes are driven less by renewables than by a mismatch of too much supply and too little demand. But with renewable energy expanding at record rates and with more efficient cars—including all-electric vehicles—siphoning off oil profits at the margins, the fossil-fuel insolvency zone is only going to get more crowded, according to BNEF. Natural gas will still be needed for when the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing, but even that will change as utility-scale batteries grow cheaper.  
Eli has quite enjoyed pointing out to the smug and self satisfied that you really have to hate the poor to condemn them to using expensive and unreliable coal and oil for power and heating.  In the poorest regions coal and oil are unreliable because supply chains are fragile and transportation expensive.  In the developed world fossil fuels are unreliable because of political game playing, as Europe which depends on Russia for gas often finds out

As a tactic crocodile tears for the poor depended on those of us who understand the threat of climate change, or indeed anything, having some regard for the less well off and offering a hand because of the costs.  Of course, if one says well, we can help the poor, those in denial say, not us boss.  Today with solar and wind costing less than fossil fuels the situation has changed for the less expensive renewables

As Tom Peterson put it, we are in a modern age
Eli has pointed out telephone poles cost money and so do fossil fuels.  Fossil fuels are an evil habit that drains the wallets of the poor.  In isolated villages lighting is provided by kerosene lamps, and kerosene costs money, a significant amount for billions of poor villagers in Africa and Asia and Latin America

Transportation into rural areas adds significantly to the cost.  On the other hand sunlight doesn't, which makes the payback time for a solar lantern that is much brighter than the kerosene lamp shorter.  Moreover, kerosene lamps  impose a health cost, solar lamps do not and after the payback time it is all solar lagniappe.

The situation with coal is even worse.  Dirtier, heavier to carry and leaving a poisonous ash behind, to demand that the poor use coal to satisfy the political wishes of the fat and happy deniers of human progress in the developed world is, well what you expect from the fat and happy deniers of human progress in the developed world.

Given the short payback time (8 months and falling) microloans, donations and real charity not fake politically driven croc tears can contribute to lighting the remaining dark corners of the world.


Russell Seitz said...

Cue Fernando with a homily on how solar sweatshop roofs can bring employment security to the worthy poor.

Russell Seitz said...

OTOH, before chewing his way through Ridley's liver, Ethon should take a gander at the Yorkshiremen who've got hiis back :


Tom said...

Bah. Set up a straw man and ignore reality. That's what passes for thought these days.

Nobody wants to bless the poor with oil or coal. They want the poor provided with affordable energy. You have at least paged through hundreds of comment threads at sites ranging from Collide a Scape to Our Changing Climate and should at least have been conscious enough to understand that.

As it stands today, affordable energy does mean considerable amounts of coal and oil. Hasten the day when that is no longer the case. But considering the firewood, dung and kerosene coal and oil would replace, it would be a benefit in terms of lives saved, QALY savings, money and the environment overall.

Fossil fuels are not an evil habit that drains the wallets of the poor. They are dirty fuels that are less dirty than those they would replace. They are also the engine by which wealth is generated, helping lift the poor out of poverty.

You would have to be spectacularly blind not to have seen this or know that this is the case.

Solar rural electrification programs are wonderful. They've been around since the 80s and have done a world of good. They should be extended as far as is possible. However, the limited amount of electricity provided by the small number of panels put up in villages is not enough to power the light industry, refrigeration and transportation that would be the necessary next step for these people.

If we can do that with solar then hooray for solar. But it cannot at present. The important thing is to replace the least dense, most injurious fuels--dung, firewood and kerosene--with marginally less injurious fuels until the world or the village can afford cleaner energy sources.

To do otherwise condemns millions each year to death and illness--far more than would be caused by coal or oil.

I don't like coal. I don't like oil. But I don't like millions of women and their children sickened and killed by cooking in enclosed spaces over dung fires. And that;s what's happening now.

magmacc said...

It seems to me your comment contains a straw man argument or two of your own, Tom.

"If we can do that with solar then hooray for solar. But it cannot at present. The important thing is to replace the least dense, most injurious fuels--dung, firewood and kerosene--with marginally less injurious fuels until the world or the village can afford cleaner energy sources.

The point is it is deeply counterproductive, even unethical, to try to saddle developing countries with costly, polluting, long-lived fossil fuel infrastructure that is already on the way out in developed countries and whose deleterious climatic effects are known.

magmacc said...

I'd be marginally more impressed by the sincerity of the contrarians' 'Think of the global poor, you heartless bastards' argument if their general attitude in every other sense wasn't 'F*ck 'em... what have they ever done for us?'

(very slightly paraphrased)

Tom said...

Fortunately, we're not trying to impress you. Nor even depress you.

If you have in your mind an image of we stale, male and pale geezers in our garages wondering how what we write will affect you, well, sorry. It doesn't work like that.

8c7793aa-15b2-11e5-898a-67ca934bd1df said...

When you are speaking directly for yourself, 'we' doesn't work at all, at least for me. I do get some value from the 'we' revelations, though.

EliRabett said...

Eli speaks for himself

EliRabett said...

Besides which the issue is not stoves http://rabett.blogspot.com/2015/03/on-cooking.html

Tom said...

No rabbit, the issue is not stoves. Despite your attempt to turn the issue on its head, the issue is fuel. More than a billion people burn dung for heat and cooking, firewood and kerosene. If you've ever been to (or watched a film or video of) a favela, shantytown or slum, you will see that ventilation is not available to many of them.

Lomborg is right (again). The coal plant that Greenpeace convinced the World Bank and USAID not to fund in South Africa would have displaced pollutants, reduced pollution and provided cheap energy to poor South Africans (and rich South Africans and industry). It would have saved poor lives.

It would have also increased CO2 emissions, as people would have used more energy the minute it was available and affordable.

That's what is known as a trade-off. Save poor lives and make the quality of their lives better--dramatically. Emit more CO2.

What Greenpeace did not do is convince the World Bank or USAID to fund solar power for those people. Greenpeace did not contribute any of their money, nor pass the hat for others to contribute.

EliRabett said...

The issue IS ventilation and there are easy fixes. That you are despicably wedded to the 19th century to satisfy your political greed is, however a problem

Tom said...

Silly rabbit, your tricks are for kids. Of course ventilation can be fixed. It isn't, however, easy. Otherwise it would have been done. These people aren't stupid.

And you missed your characterization by a couple of decades. It was the early twentieth century when the solution these people need was invented and spread like wildfire everywhere people could afford it.

Elektrissity. Affordable, reliable electricity. Stoves. Refrigerators.

But no, you'll do anything for the poor--except make available the resource we used to stop being poor ourselves.

You're wedded to the 18th century, pious and patronizing. Let 'em eat cake! I'll cut a hole through their wall and hand it in.

Tom said...

Here ya go, silly rabbit: https://www.yahoo.com/news/fire-manila-shanty-town-leaves-142531023.html

You start something to help these people and I'm all in. (And in response to the inevitable 'why don't you do it yourself' stuff, I'm currently working about 80 hours a week. I can support, I can't take the lead.)

Come on. Then we can go sing Kumbaya together.

Canman said...

How about the ethical depravity of people living comfortable lives because of coal and oil denying it to the poor?

Fernando Leanme said...

Solar sweatshop roofs can bring employment security to the worthy poor, and I don't mind forcing high octane gasoline on BMW owners as long as they pay extra taxes for being such annoying jerks.

Canman said...

I note that that graph is for silicon PV module price. That's only a fraction of the cost of solar. It can go down to zero and the rest, stuff like wiring, boxing and inverters are still expensive and put a limit on how low the cost can go.

Tom said...

Hiya Canman, happy holidays!

Actually, BOS and installation is a lot lower outside the developed world.

john Mruzik said...

Tom wants to trade indoor pollution for out door pollution

EliRabett said...

Can, you did note that the cost of renewables is now lower than oil and coal? of course not. lots of links out there.

Tom said...

Silly rabbit, yes it is. In some places. Following a good-sized capital investment. Solar will one day conquer the world. That day is not here.

Poor people can scrimp enough for a gallon of kerosene. That doesn't mean they can fork out $11K for a 5KW solar array which would collapse their roof.

David B. Benson said...

The economics of a coal burner in South Africa is Not So Simple. Anyway, the electricity generated would go to heavy industry.

Stop your crocodile tears for the poor, please.

Steve Bloom said...

Not long ago there was great concern about how wired phone networks were greatly needed by the Third World poors. How'd that work out?

Sailor Tommy is right that the village-level solar we're seeing isn't yet (AFAIK) being broadly ramped up to allow for extensive refrigeration, light industry etc., but I don't think the problem is on the solar end. A microgrid with a cell phone charger and a relative handful of light bulbs doesn't require much in the way of solar and batteries to run and so costs relatively little. Refrigerators (beyond one or two for essential functions like keeping meds cool) and light industry plants are far more expensive, regardless of what their power source might be, and larding on grid cost makes them even less affordable. It's true that storage for solar isn't quite where it needs to be for 24-hour flexibility in microgrids that include a lot of such uses, but that day is not far off and will come in time to meet the demand.

8c7793aa-15b2-11e5-898a-67ca934bd1df said...

Refrigeration as conventionally produced by for profit factories, just like construction as conventionally produced by contractors, are comprised of poorly designed, constructed, manufactured uninsulated or poorly insulated CRAP. Therefore your claim does have some validity.

Canman said...

Backward BS:

"It's true that storage for solar isn't quite where it needs to be for 24-hour flexibility in microgrids that include a lot of such uses, but that day is not far off and will come in time to meet the demand."

That may be true, but predictions are hard, especially about the future:


Russell Seitz said...

Why is Canman recycling the cold War South African geopolitical party line on "strategic metals depletion?

The idea that Rare Earths are rare is so Club of Rome !

Not being a Peak Gasser, I propose 1.5 cheers for microfinancing portable propane tanks, so off-grid bunnies in the boonies can cook without cutting down trees or burning buffalo chips indoors.

They also provide a rainy season night light fallback, as gas mantles are vastly more efficient than kerosine lamps.

Canman said...

RS, I'm mostly emphasizing how uncertain the future is. There are a lot of rare Earths and I don't find it inconceivable that one of them could become a bottle neck. It also doesn't have to be the deposits themselves. We could face a shortage of Mongolians who are willing to put up with toxic radioactive lakes from neodymium processing.

8c7793aa-15b2-11e5-898a-67ca934bd1df said...

Earths aren't rare, Canman. From the evidence there are literally trillions of rare Earths out there. Take your pick.

EliRabett said...

They tried giving propane away in India. It didn't work, the women didn't like the propane stoves, the shit gatherer and dryers lost their income and the gift stoves got pushed into the corner.

Russell Seitz said...

Eli, my comment was aimed at your Darkest Africa satellite image

David B. Benson said...

Reference please, as I doubt your assertion is universally valid across India.

Steve Bloom said...

Renewables will pull your world view down around your very short ears, Canman. When that happens, do try to restrain yourself from dipping into the opioids.

Canman said...

Scrabble set,

As an unabashed cornucopian, I'm with you on mining lots of Earths. But how do we get there? We need rich societies to be able to send mining prospectors out into space.

Russell Seitz said...

Given the energy cost , wannabe space miners are at a loss to name real world commodities they could profitably sell on Earth.

TW said...

I started laughing at the point I read about how "in the developed world, fossil fuels are unreliable...."
And solar is more reliable? In what alternate universe?
You know, there is a very serious point here, and I'm just echoing Tom, but he's right. Denying the developing world access to cheap, reliable energy condemns them to poverty. It's just a fact. Germany is already struggling to keep their grid stable from having too much intermittent green energy. You can't run an economy on green energy that amounts to much.
If solar were really cheaper, all in on costs, back-up generators for when the sun doesn't shine, etc. But when whole poor countries decide for themselves what to use for power, like China and India, it's coal because it's cheaper. It's just a fact.
And the airy dismissal of, "there's gas for when the sun doesn't shine." This post is a target rich environment for stupid. Yeah, there's gas, but gas doesn't work without paying for the captal cost for the gas plant, several hundred million dollars. If you build a gas plant, then run that and don't spend wasted money on solar. A country is doing a lot of that right now. You live in it. It's cheaper.

BBD said...

Germany is already struggling to keep their grid stable from having too much intermittent green energy.

Is there a reference for this? The other side of the story is this which appears to confirm the opposite.

This isn't a loaded question; I am genuinely curious to know if I've missed something.

8c7793aa-15b2-11e5-898a-67ca934bd1df said...

Overpopulation, mismanagement of their local resources, corporate colonialism and insane corrupt petty dictators led Africa to poverty A-hole. To blame it on the sun and the cost of solar panels is beyond lame. It's insane. You're insane. In the membrane, TW, and not even Drs. Kruger and Dunning can cure you. You are unskilled and unaware.

And of course, just another a-hole on planet earth, keeping good company.

TW said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
EliRabett said...

Solar powered refrigerators are available


EliRabett said...

The fossil supply chain is unreliable and costly in developing countries. The sun shines daily.

EliRabett said...

Do try and keep up TW, you are merely exposing your hatred of the developing countries and their people


China’s renewable energy sector is growing faster than its fossil fuels and nuclear power capacity. In 2015 China became the world's largest producer of photovoltaic power, at 43 GW installed capacity.[1][2] China also led the world in the production and use of wind power and smart grid technologies, generating almost as much water, wind, and solar energy as all of France and Germany's power plants combined.

Whilst China has the world's largest installations of solar and wind power its energy needs are so great that in 2013 renewables provided just a little over 20% of its power generation, with most of the remainder provided by traditional coal power facilities.[3] Nevertheless, the share of renewables in the energy mix had been gradually rising from 2013 and targets from 2015 onwards have represented a step change in ambition. T

Tom said...

God, such crap floats around. Rabbit, tell me when 1% of the developed world uses solar powered refrigerators before you start shoving it down the throat of those in poorer countries. How much do they cost? Where can developing countries buy them? How much is shipping and handling? Who repairs them? Refrigerators are simple, dependable devices that run on electricity. Solar powered refrigerators?

Do you have one?

As for China and renewable energy, you neglect to mention that their rush for renewables is eclipsed by current and projected use of fossil fuels, primarily coal. They are really pushing solar, wind, hydro and nuclear. And if they build all they intend to build they will reduce their consumption of coal from 69% to about 60% by 2040. Because their energy consumption will continue to increase.

Bernard J. said...

"I'm saying that solar won't get you out of poverty.

Just quietly, Bresson (2013) and Chen & Ravallion (2010) showed an increase in the proportion of people living in non-extreme poverty during the period 1990-2005...

Some other points.

A lot of poverty comes not directly from people not having access to energy, but from their governments exploiting populations. This also extends to First World nations exploiting the Third World for First World benefit.

Then there's the fact that setting up the current 7.4 billion to be a "rich" ~10 billion by the middle of the century using fossil fuls will leave a global system inevitably more vulnerable to most of that population of ~10 billion decending back into poverty (and war, and famine, and disease, and death...) when the coal and oil themselves inevitably run out.

Oh, and by the way... using all that fossil fuel to energise development with the ostensible view to increasing the wealth of the poor over the next few decades will still warm the planet to intolerable levels, resulting in an inevitable global ecosystem collapse and poverty anyway.

It's about maximum benefit in space and time, for humans and non-humans alike. In a particularly extreme example of the Tragedy of the Commons, sucking in as much fossil energy as possible will ultimately not lead to a Utopia of eradicated poverty.

Bernard J. said...

"Do you have one?"

My sister's family has lived without a refrigerator for 18 years. They have a cool cupboard though, and live happy, healthy and pretty much sustainable First World lives.

Oh, and they don't live in poverty.

BBD said...


Germany is already struggling to keep their grid stable from having too much intermittent green energy.

Moves to:

click the links for "great lengths" and "re-dispatch measures". What they say is that they are having to work very hard to maintain grid stability.

Struggling modifies to 'work very hard' but the German grid is notably stable, despite the ongoing energiewende. 'Managing effectively' might be a more complete description of what is happening.

Perhaps it is unreasonable to expect transitions to be easy. But it has to be done. I say this as a sceptic about the ability of renewable energy to displace fossil fuels fast enough to get our arses out of the fire btw. But we have to try.

EliRabett said...


TW said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
BBD said...

BBD: I'm saying that "struggling" equals "working very hard"

It doesn't. You have overstepped into misrepresentation and the polite thing to have done would be to walk it back, not double down. Anyway, at least it clarifies that you aren't arguing objectively but from some prior commitment or other.

It's a fact.

It's a *fact* that the German grid is exceptionally stable and up at the top of the European ratings despite the supposed disruption from the energiewende.

It's a fact that you have strayed into misrepresentation. Now would be an ideal moment to let this one drop.

8c7793aa-15b2-11e5-898a-67ca934bd1df said...

No one, especially me, says solar panels caused Africa poverty.

And of course you think you are the spokesperson for 'no one'?

And you accuse me of building an edifice of straw? What solar can do is make people comfortable in their poverty as they recover their local resources required to keeps them well fed in their poverty. It will light their rooms at night so they can study their way out of poverty, and cool the food they eek out of their local resources, provide them with electricity for their phones and laptops so they can communicate their way out of poverty, and cf course grind their coffee beans so that they can smoke their weed with their coffee at their locally produced meals as they contemplate their comfortable poverty in paradise. What you want is coal mines and steel mills, and you'll just have to figure out yourself that's not appropriate for people living in a poverty of paradise with rich local resources.

TW said...

Eli: Still no word on if you think solar is more reliable than fossil. To quote you, keep up.

8c7: I can't stop laughing. Where we started on this post was with a title, all full of sturm and drang SJW outrage, about the "Ethical Depravity of...Coal and Oil". Now we're down to defending this thought-free post by saying you want to "make people comfortable in their poverty." I don't want to make them comfortable in their poverty. I want to lift them out of their poverty. Let's poll the 240 million Indians with no electricity, and ask them which they want: 1. be comfortable in their poverty, or, 2. get electricity.

What I saw in this post and these comments has happened to me. I read a post I overall agree with, and let some terribly sloppy thinking slip through the cracks, like in this instance, that reliability is a reason to favor solar over fossil. Reliability is not a reason to favor solar over fossil, because solar is inherently way less reliable and requires fossil backup (or some other dispatchable power like nuclear) to work at all.

Old_salt said...

If you use current production, we have a thousand year supply (Reserves/production, https://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/rare_earths/mcs-2016-raree.pdf) of REE. I wouldn't worry about that.

If you want to worry about the effect of commodities on energy, we "only"
have a 150 year supply of uranium for nuclear (https://www.iaea.org/OurWork/ST/NE/NEFW/Technical-Areas/NFC/uranium-production-cycle-redbook.html)

Bernard J. said...

"BJ: China lifted 500 million people out of poverty by building a new coal plant every week or so. China is where the real action lifting people out of poverty has had success. To quote our host, keep up. "

TW, you appear to have a reading difficulty.

Fossil fuel use continued at this rate for more than a decade or two (and quite possibly not even that long) will guarantee that many more than 500 million people will eventually end up back in poverty, or worse.

To quote our host, keep up.

TW said...

BJ: What didn't I read? What is your source that fossil burning for 10 years will guarantee that 500 million people will end up back in poverty?

My favorite, revealing comment upthread is how people in deep poverty should have enough refrigeration for their medicines but not for food. And of course, it's middle class Americans who should decide how much refrigeration is enough for them.

Still no one countering my central argument, that reliability is not a reason to choose solar over fossil.

BBD said...


Coal plant isn't built to be used for ten years. It is built to be used for forty years. So a large build-out of coal plant in developing countries means ~40 years of commitment to coal. Now *that* will most certainly exacerbate respiratory disease mortality in the short term and climate impacts in the longer term. So it is clearly a bad idea and one to avoid.

Other points about the lack of infrastructure (transmission grid) and / or the extreme difficulty in protecting and preserving it are also highly relevant when considering the advisability of new coal in developing countries.

When considered objectively, it is not a good strategy if one has the optimised welfare of the current and future population as a primary goal.

BBD said...


China lifted 500 million people out of poverty by building a new coal plant every week or so. China is where the real action lifting people out of poverty has had success.

You are peddling coal industry lies. This is the truth:

In China between 1981 and 2004, the number of people living on less than $1 per day declined by 500 million. Two thirds of this progress occurred between 1981 and 1987, prior to China’s industrialisation and large-scale expansion in coal power.

Source: Overseas Development Institute: Beyond Coal

The heavy lifting was done by agricultural reform, not by coal. Are you aware that you have been duped?

8c7793aa-15b2-11e5-898a-67ca934bd1df said...

And of course, it's middle class Americans who should decide how much refrigeration is enough for them.

Oh the subtle irony of a middle class anonymous libertarian American named TW who thinks he too should decide where Africans get their energy and how they should gain their god given and god guaranteed wealth, when the free market is there to decide those things for them.

I think that's called cognitive dissonance. All I care to do is make sure they are comfortable and well fed, as they should be. With physics. That physics clearly points to energy sources other than coal, and the free markets have clearly spoken on that point as well.

Tom said...

8c, you clearly don't understand physics (check fuel density and CO2 emitted per joule generated), or you would be offering at least faint praise for coal.

You don't seem to understand logic or the English language either.

One wonders what it is that you do understand?

8c7793aa-15b2-11e5-898a-67ca934bd1df said...

I'm an entropy driven industry creation physicist, Tom, from the initial first ideaation and conception, demonstration through research and development, into prototyping, manufacturing and production, and then lifecycle through recycling and disposal, including cleansing up all the messes created by all that entropy. So as physicist I understand that intelligence and decision making control entropy production. Sure, radiosondes win on exergy, but that's not how I measure quality or entropy. Ask Toshiba what they think of exergy right now. And run this text through your crank generator. Remember, I'm not the axion guy in addition to all those other guys, the infamous we, us and nobody.

TW said...

Thanks, BBD, for the first substantive comment. For awhile there, I had almost given up on getting anything substantive back on this thread.

8c7, alas, is a good example of what I mean about no substantive comment. All ad hom, all the time. For instance, now he's saying I want to prescribe that poor countries use coal. I'm saying don't proscribe using coal, like by denying funding for a coal power plant. China decided to build all those coal plants because the market decided -- coal was cheaper.

I really find these online debates fun, and try to avoid saying the person is dumb, it's the argument that I will say is dumb. There's a difference.

ODI is a liberal think tank, but they have assembled all the arguments for non-fossil energy to reduce poverty in this reference you provided, which was new to me. I'll look it over.

BBD said...


I'm talking about lifting people out of poverty. India has 240 million people with no electricity. they want to get them electricity.

They are mostly rural and there is no money in the villages. So there's no money in it for the utilities to go to the immense cost and engineering effort of extending the grid(s) right through the rural subcontinent. In fact I'm pretty sure that this will never happen. There is no business case for doing it.

Therefore new coal plant cannot be the answer to the problem of alleviating rural energy poverty, whatever the coal industry may say.

* * *

But whatever, Happy New Year.

Nigel Franks said...

Electricity for small users in Germany has been expensive because of the levy used to finance the green transition. Historically large users were paying a rate that was less than one percent of what small users had to pay. This had the perverse effect of rewarding higher electricity use. Notwithstanding that, wholesale prices have fallen thanks to the merit order effect of renewables. In addition the levy was used to subsidise efficiency measures: the average German uses less than 1,000 kWh/year. The levy for them is less than 7 Euro cents per kWh. So for their green transition they pay about 70 euros per year. That's less than two dollars per week but in reality much lessif you take into account the benefits. Apparently this is more than the citizens of the supposed greatest country on the face of the earth are prepare to pay...

Nigel Franks said...

Here's a link : https://www.cleanenergywire.org/factsheets/what-german-households-pay-power

TW said...

BBD: Happy New Year to you, too. btw, I think you're right there's no money in the villages in India to pay for electrification, but it is happening via national government assembling funding source. hard to reach all those villages, but someone forgot to tell the Indians. Here's the link:
And as a result the NEA projects in the WEO that India, which has already become the number 2 coal producer, is expected to become the number 1 world coal importer by 2020. Add those two stat's together, that's a whole lot of coal. Here's a link to that:
With both China and India, you need to watch what they do as well as what they say. They say they're headed to renewables, what they are doing is spelled c o a l.

BBD said...

With both China and India, you need to watch what they do as well as what they say. They say they're headed to renewables, what they are doing is spelled c o a l.

But this is industrial energy. It has nothing do to with lighting the darkness of the rural poor. So rhetoric about coal as succor for the energy impoverished is hollow. At best.

EliRabett said...

Electricity for small users in Germany has ALWAYS been expensive which is why so many of them put in PV.

Russell Seitz said...

"So as physicist I understand that intelligence and decision making control entropy production."

That's not a physicist; it's a teleologist with a talking dog.

Susan Anderson said...

Russell, thanks for the Yorkshire miner clip. Doses of reality are welcome. (I'm reading a horrifying review of the Mosul dam in my current New Yorker - likely to be a disaster on the scale of a tsunami. What fools we mortals be!)

8c7793aa-15b2-11e5-898a-67ca934bd1df said...

That's not a physicist;

It's an engineer and a mathematician as well, Russel, the people who inform you to use a scissor and not a chain saw for certain cutting tasks. But you have your own personal agenda, and you have FREEDOM and LIBERTY! So perhaps the chain saw is more appropriate for your task of allowing nature to maximize entropy every darn time it comes up.

cRR Kampen said...

"If we can do that with solar then hooray for solar. But it cannot at present." - thanks to e.g. you, Tom*. There's no other cause.

India just took over the weekly sharpened largest solar plant record.

*note: it is criminal.

cRR Kampen said...

What a depraved pack of concern trolling there. Ugh. Ugh!!

There is one thing Ayn Rand got right. You don't present facts with 'imo', 'it seems to me that' et cetera. You present facts as facts.

So, please, magmacc, not 'It seems to me your comment contains a straw man argument or two of your own, Tom.' That's diplomacy with thugs. The comment is riddled with straw men and concern trolling depravity and might I suggest a different way of phrasing that? "F.O." will do fine!

Russell Seitz said...

Sorry, 8c-- I meant to say a small talking dog.

8c7793aa-15b2-11e5-898a-67ca934bd1df said...

You are a small man, Russell. But fortunately, it takes all kinds!

Hank Roberts said...


EliRabett said...

Their are majic words on Rabett Run. Use em and Eli will lose your comments

JamieB said...

There's an interesting company operatig in Haiti called Sigora Haiti who are doing good things with microgrids:


They're well worth checking out.

The problem with supplying heat electrically is that you need an order of magnitude more energy than you need for a refrigerator, lighting, washing machine, TV, phones, computer etc etc combined. It must impose a big load on microgrids, renewable supplies and storage. Sigora seem to be buildling a micro grid that can handle electric heat so all power to them but I do wonder whether there's a way of sticking with the cleaner end of fossil fuels (bottled gas too expensive?) to free up renewable electricity for everything else.

Related to that, Hans Rosling considers the washing machine a key development technology but then seems to push centralised FF generation and large scale grids as the solution to enable its deployment (at least I seem to remember he was doing that a few years ago). Surely there is scope for someone to come up with a really robust, primarily solar water heated washing machine design for the developing world that uses very little electricity. Again, offloading the heat reduces power needs dramatically. Modern detergents can wash at low temperatures so it seems a no brainer to me. But so far, nothing as far as I can make out.

Anyway, there are some random thoughts :)