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Showing posts from July 3, 2011

Texas versus California - Electricity Production

Using the approach introduced in the previous post, I will now investigate how electricity is produced and imported in Texas and California.  I choose these two states because I have strong ties to both of them, and they also enjoy very different public images.  Texas is generally viewed as pro-oil, gas, coal and nuclear power, while Californians appear to oppose all of these sources of electricity in their outlets, while touting the green and renewable sources.  It is therefore instructive to look at the main sources of your electricity when you live in Texas or California.

For the record, last year, Texas produced twice the amount of electricity imported and produced in California. Most of the difference was caused by air-conditioning everything in Texas, but also by Texas' large base of heavy industry, which is already gone from California, perhaps forever.

I start with my home state,Texas, because it is very simple to describe its electricity sources.  Basically, Texas has it…

Where is my energy coming from?

To keep our internet, telephones, computers, television sets, refrigerators and lights going, we require electricity 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. It is therefore instructive to know what sources of energy provide electricity in our outlets day-by-day.  The data from the U.S. Department of Energy are plotted below as days of electricity per year supplied to the U.S. customers from each major primary energy source.

It turns out that between 1997 and 2008, coal supplied between 176 and 200 days of electricity to all U.S. outlets.  Coal fuels the base-load power stations and its consumption has been remarkably constant.

Similarly, in 2008, natural gas supplied 79 days of electricity, nuclear power 72 days, and hydropower 23 days.  The electricity share of natural gas grew from 50 days per year a decade ago, to almost 80 days in 2008.  No new nuclear reactors have been built in the U.S. since late 1970s, but the nuclear power industry has learned how to manage their reactors better, a…

Things we say and do

Four years ago, in September 2007, I participated in a ministerial conference of OECD in Paris.  This conference was attended by the ministers of transportation and environment from the European Union, the U.S. observers, as well as a few invited industry people and faculty.

OECD stands for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. It was conceived as a counterweight to OPEC. The largest contributor to OECD is the United States, which provides nearly 24% of the budget, followed by Japan. As a consequence, the U.S. exerts some influence on OECD.

At that Paris conference, I was asked to make a dinner speech.  [Reading this topical speech is essential to your understanding of my arguments against the serious public confusion surrounding issues of big energy.]

Halfway through my speech everybody in the room stopped eating and you could hear a fly, because no forks and knives were clicking. There were but a few questions afterwards. It appears that this speech has disqual…