Outrun Change

We need to learn quickly to keep up with the massive change around us so we don't get run over. We need to outrun change.

Additional issues at Ivanpah: melting the salt and high winds

Production possible when there is no rain, or clouds, and if the wind isn't blowing too strong. Tilted photo by James Ulvog.

Production possible only when there is no rain, or clouds, and if the wind isn’t blowing too strong. Tilt angle photo by James Ulvog.

In my learning about energy, I’ve picked up on a few more problems with concentrated solar power, which is the design of the wing-toasting facility at Ivanpah.

Keeping the molten salt melted

All those mirrors focus the sun on the top of the tower in order to superheat a liquid, which is then circulated to turbines, which spin, thus generating electricity. The liquid returns to the top of the tower for another superheating.

The liquid?

Molten salt.

The melting temperature of molten salt is in the range of 225° C or perhaps 260° C. Of course my accounting brain doesn’t think Celsius, so I translated those numbers, coming up with something in the range of 437° F or 500° F. Let’s just call that 400°.

My accounting brain can tell that is really hot.

Another thing I have learned is that once the sun goes down the molten salt is allowed to freeze. It would take a lot of energy to keep that much salt over 400 so that it stayed liquid. That means in the morning it is either sludge or solid and needs to be heated above the melting point so it will work.

Read more…

Exquisitely expensive offshore wind farm to begin turning in October

To understand the size and extent of visual pollution, notice the small size of that work basket which would hold many people. Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock.

To understand the extent of visual pollution and danger to navigation, notice the small size of that work basket which is large enough to hold many people. The rails are probably about four feet high. Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock.

New York Times reports on 8/22 that America’s First Offshore Wind Farm May Power Up a New Industry – In a very upbeat puff piece, the NYT describes the Block Island Wind Farm project, which is expected to start producing electricity in October, after construction was recently completed. The turbines will start turning in October and after weeks of fine tuning (to get the phase output from each turbine identically matched and to resolve other technical issues), will start pumping out electricity.

Photo in the article shows the turbines are extremely visible from the island. If you didn’t know they are about 589 feet tall, you might guess the turbines are a half mile or mile offshore. They are actually three miles away.

Read more…

Long sentences that work well

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

I want to look at a few samples of the writing of John D. Billings, when he told in 1887 of his experiences in the Civil War. He shared his recollections in Hard Tack and Coffee, currently $0.99 for the Kindle version. Previously mentioned his book here.

Consider the smooth flow of the following two sentences. Yes, two sentences:

Taps ended the army day for all branches of the service, and, unless an alarm broke in upon the stillness of the night, the soldiers were left to their slumbers; or, what was oftener the case, to meditations on home; the length of time in months and days they must serve before returning thither; their prospects of surviving the vicissitudes of war; of the boys who once answered roll-call with them, now camped over across the Dark River; or of plans for business, or social relations to be entered upon, if they should survive the war. All these, and a hundred other topics which furnished abundant field for air-castle-building, would chase one another through the mind of the soldier-dreamer, till his brain would grow weary, his eyes heavy, and balmy sleep would softly steal him away from a world of trouble into the realm of sweet repose and pleasant dreams.

Wow.

Let’s break apart those two sentences.

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Cool stuff on the open frontier of technology: drones

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub before they merged into Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub before they merged into Adobe Stock.

A few articles I’ve noticed recently on the open frontier of drone technology.

7/7 – Behind the Black – Boston Dynamics – Atlas, The Next Generation – The skill of robots.

Astounding. Amongst many items to notice in the video is the lack of an external power supply

6/08 – The Guardian – World’s first passenger drones cleared for testing in Nevada

Read more…

A short (yet long enough to be plenty depressing) history of the New Deal and why it extended the Great Depression

Hunger sculpture at FDR Memorial in Washington DC. A monument to the man whose policies added extra years to the Depression yet who rarely gets credit for the unnecessary suffering. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Hunger sculpture at FDR Memorial in Washington DC. A monument to the man whose intentional policies added extra years to the Depression yet who rarely gets credit for the unnecessary suffering. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

If you want more detail that can be covered in this blog explaining how the New Deal made the Great Depression worse, increasing suffering, and extending the  pain by years, check out Great Myths of the Great Depression By Lawrence W. Reed.

At a mere 47 pages, about 40 pages without the voluminous footnotes, you can get a survey of the destruction caused by FDR and the self-declared wizards who thought they could control all the details of the economy.

Here is a very short summary of the government-extended disaster. Read more…

A few updates on oil prices and production

What's going to happen on oil prices and production levels? I don't have a clue. Trying to find a clue is why I blog. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

What’s going to happen on oil prices and production levels? When will supply and demand balance? My answer above. Trying to find a clue is why I blog.
Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Here are a few articles of the last few weeks discussing oil production, possible direction of prices, and possibility of increased turmoil in Middle East.

8/11 – Wall Street Journal – Saudi Oil Output Sets Record Despite Global Glut – Both Saudi Arabia and OPEC hit record production levels in July. Saudi output hit 10.67M bopd, while OPEC hit 33.11M bopd. Eyeball the accompanying graph in the article and you can see output in 2015 and 2016 in total is at the highest level since 2002.

Iran’s output has hit 3.6M bopd, with their announced target of 4M bopd before they will consider discussion to freeze output. Article says speculation says they have likely hit a production ceiling.

Ironically, if Iran and each of the OPEC producers (other than Venezuela) are at maximum production, they might all get together and agree to a production freeze. Not that a freeze while everyone is running at maximum capacity would do any good.

8/11 – Wall Street Journal – IEA: Crude Production to Fall Behind DemandRead more…

Two new wind power farms in North Dakota

Operational condition of wind turbines in California for 86% of the time in first quarter of 2015. Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Operational condition of wind turbines in California for 86% of the time in first quarter of 2015. This is a still photo but visual would be the same if this was an hour-long video, other than a few coyotes wandering around wondering why their avian lunch wasn’t delivered to the usual spot. Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

More articles on wind power in North Dakota.

  • Background on why wind cannot provide base load of electricity we need to live a modern life.
  • Capacity info for a new wind farm.
  • Capacity for another wind farm and worries from regulators that the increase in power from wind and decrease in power from coal may soon create instability in the electricity grid.

8/5 – Dickinson Press – Power generated by wind adds to grid, but it’s still backup to coal in North Dakota – If you are just tuning in to energy issues, check out this article. It provides background to the idea that the electricity we need all the time is from what is called base load, which comes primarily from coal plants in North Dakota.

Read more…

North Dakota oil production drops 2% in June

Total crude oil production in the state dropped 20,419 bopd, going from 1,047,003 bopd in May to 1,026,584 bopd in June. That is a decline of 1.95%. I’ll make a guess that another month or two will see production cross the one million point.

The Director’s Cut is guessing the low prices, and consequent low rig count, will last through third quarter this year or second quarter of next year.

Just one graph today:

oil production 08 to 6-16

Rig count in North Dakota during summer of 2016

An increasingly rare sight in North Dakota. Not only the active rig, but the flaring as well. Photo by James Ulvog.

An increasingly rare sight in North Dakota. Not only the active rig, but the flaring as well. Photo by James Ulvog.

Here is a recap of the North Dakota rig count. All of the data is from Million Dollar Way. The number of rigs isn’t as important now as it was a year or three ago, but it is still one indicator of activity. One rig today creates a well that produces a lot more oil that a few years ago, and in less time, and at lower cost.

Some older data repeated for context: Read more…

Updates on news out of Williston

2014 photo by James Ulvog.

2014 photo by James Ulvog.

A few updates on Williston:

  • Crew camps must close by 9/1
  • New airport has all the land needed for construction
  • You can actually find a hotel room in western N.D.
  • Former strip club reworking its image

Check out the by-lines. You will see the news out of the North Dakota oil patch I find most interesting typically has one name. How does one person generate so many good articles?

8/9 – Amy Dalrymple at Dickinson Press – Williston crew camps get Sept. 1 deadline to close – City Commissioners voted 5-0 to force all crew camps within their reach to close in three weeks, remove facilities by May 1, 2018 and restore sites by August 1, 2018.

Read more…

Another biased report on oil

What answer did you have in mind? Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

What answer did you have in mind? Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Previously mentioned an agenda-driven research project that was unsuccessful in finding any ground water contamination caused by fracking. Said report will intentionally not be publicized, according to the lead researcher.

Now a report from Duke University looks at above ground spills of brine water and concludes there is “widespread” contamination of water and soil across North Dakota. Been holding this post for while. May as well publish it.

KFYR TV reports on 4/27: Duke University Conducts Water Contamination Study in ND.

The health department in the state says 1% or 2% of the 3900 spills which have been reported require long-term cleanup. Let me translate that: any spill, even of a few barrels, is required to be reported. Of those spills reported, 98% or 99% are immediately contained and cleaned up. Somewhere between 40 and 80 require ongoing efforts.

The researchers looked at four spill locations.

Four.

Read more…

Lots of malnutrition in Venezuela and conditions will get worse – 12

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Economic conditions continue to deteriorate in Venezuela. It will get worse.

8/5 – Miami Herald – Hunger haunts Venezuela, especially its children – Severe hunger is widespread in the country, causing children to pass out in class, killing some with malnutrition, leaving others vulnerable to malaria and mange due to lack of medicine.

Read more…

Outlook for oil, some short-term and long-term thoughts

Tight Oil Production - Courtesy of Energy Information Administration

Tight Oil Production – Courtesy of Energy Information Administration

More news on the energy market. Supply and demand may equalize soon. Maybe.

Saudi Arabia may have bit off more than they can chew. The US and world markets will benefit, along with everyone who consumes energy.

7/1 – AP at Bakken.com – US energy secretary sees oil market coming into balance – The Saudi oil minister thinks worldwide demand will catch up with production by around the end of 2016. The US Energy Secretary thinks it will go into 2017, perhaps another year. Prices likely to go up as demand and supply stabilize.

7/18 – Wall Street Journal – Oil Prices Steady but Products Glut Looms – There are hints in the air that several markets, such as gasoline, are oversupplied, which will put downward pressure on crude oil prices. Another indication that nobody can predict the future.

7/31 – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard at the Telegraph – Texas shale oil has fought Saudi Arabia to a standstill – This is a must-read if you follow my blog.

Twenty months ago Saudi Arabia launched a price war, generally considered to be an effort to take out American shale producers.

Didn’t quite work out that way.

Read more…

Wind turbine fails, or, why they earn the title slice-and-dicers

Here are merely two of the many published videos showing wind turbines as they fail. Watch for the burning hunks of rare earth metals getting spread across the prairie. Look for the reason wind turbines rightfully deserve the name slice-and-dicer.

8-3 – Gizmodo – A Malfunctioning, Flaming Wind Turbine Is Actually Quite Beautiful – Video catches two burning turbines that won’t be slicing-and-dicing any more. One in foreground produces pretty smoke patterns when the tip catches fire. Fire slows down when turbine throws a blade a few hundred feet away.

Title of video: Windmill Fire Live Video Palladam Tamilnadu 2016; link:  https://youtu.be/Q5COAi6KM8o?t=38

Another video demonstrates why every turbine needs to constructed many hundreds of feet away from anything of value, like houses, farm buildings, livestock, transmission lines, or roads.

With luck, the turbine, tower, and massive blades will fall straight down upon failure.

Without luck, those hundred foot long blades will go airborne like a javelin. In the video, when launched at a roughly 45 degree down angle, it looks like one blade travels 4 or 5 times its length, which would be somewhere between 400 and 700 feet. How far would a blade travel if launched at a 45 degree up angle?

At worst, the three blades disintegrate into small chunks of shrapnel, flying every direction, imitating an explosion from World War II anti-aircraft artillery.

Warning: the clip of a vulture getting hit, falling to the ground mortally wounded, struggling to regain its footing, is nauseating. That only happens to raptors, what, many thousands of times a year in the U.S.?

Yeah, wind turbines have worked hard to earn the well-deserved title of slice-and-dicer.

Title: Best Wind Turbine Crash/Fail Compilation HD 2016; link: https://youtu.be/wfzgIxMEo8g?t=19

Oh, tornadoes and wind turbines don’t play well together. Ponder the overlap of where tornadoes and wind turbines are concentrated.

Reference point of wages for Civil War soldiers

Union soldier reenactors at Azusa Pacific University on 3/1/14. I do not recall what unit they are with. Photo by James Ulvog.

Union soldier reenactors at Azusa Pacific University on 3/1/14. I do not recall what reenacting unit they are with. Photo by James Ulvog.

John D. Billings told of his experiences in the Civil War. He wrote Hard Tack and Coffee in 1887.  Currently priced at $0.99 for the Kindle version.

He has a delightful writing style which is a joy to read. Wish I could write that well.

Among many other things, he provided a few reference points for the cost of items.

Soldier wages

In discussing the sutlers who provided items to soldiers, he mentions pay rates. He says a private’s Read more…

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