Gas prices in this country are insane. Let’s start there and work outward. It is simple to see how day 1 of Biden administration gas prices started moving up via policies that limited or inhibited petroleum production, exploration, and transport. This supply was then thought to be acquired by bullying the Saudis, begging the Venezuelans, dealing with the Iranians, and finally – the coup de gras – putting sanctions on Russia. It has been one clusterfuck after another with policy. This is CONSTRUCTIVE feedback on where we are, and those who vote Dem, so be it. I used to be one of you. Just note that you do realize the supply is still coming out of the ground, whether we produce it or it comes from the Saudis, Iranians, or Venezuelans – it just costs more when we shut off the taps to source it from somewhere else. So we are shooting ourselves in the foot to crush domestic supply while embracing policies that drive up costs of gasoline.
But you think it is greedy oil companies. In this piece, I want to look at the narrative of the greens and how it’s going. Also – how some of their solutions are coming along. Finally, at the end, I have a pretty simple solution that is bi-partisan that should help everyone. Unless you work at Burger King. Then I can’t help you. Disclaimer – I worked at BK for 4 years of HS/college, so I’m making a point of companies where you cannot telework.
It is easy to look at the “world is doomed if we don’t do x, y, z” to stop climate change and deduce that these people are fine with $10 gas if it forces you to buy a $70,000 EV. But what I want to remind people is that they are playing checkers with this mentality. Why?
A significant population in this country has problems with even buying used cars, and may have to go to a “buy here pay here” situation with high interest rates – just to go to their low paying job. So the calculus here for $10 per gallon gas fails because…
- 64% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and high gas prices crush them. The root cause for this is a broken monetary system with hidden structural inflation combined with 40 years of outsourcing jobs in a globalist sense has destroyed a middle class. Your solution is to print more from the magic money tree (MMT) which actually makes the problem worse – OR playing Robin Hood to steal slips of green paper to give to someone else. In either case, higher gas prices are contributing to making the lives of 64% of Americans much more stressful by not being able to afford gas.
- The most vulnerable cannot afford to buy electric cars. These EVs can be $40,000 at the super low end to $80k-90k for a higher end. Remember, these people usually buy cars on a weekly payment at the local buy here-pay here.
- Most electricity in this country is generated by coal and natural gas. By having people buy more EVs, you are telling them to get energy from the grid as opposed to the pump. Both are sourced by fossil fuels.
- Grids cannot keep up with the demand, causing rolling blackouts and billions of dollars to tax payers to upgrade the grids.
- Higher energy prices are being passed on to the consumer, creating a doom loop spiral that higher interest rates will not solve unless the supply of energy is solved. Meaning, your noble higher gas prices blaming the evil oil companies are actually creating detrimental harm to millions of people having a hard time paying for groceries.
To most of the environmental faction, the answer is simple. Get solar and buy an EV and use wind, too, if you can. If you don’t, you are responsible for the doom of the country. I have solar and 2 Tesla powerwalls. I can tell you that this was highly expensive, and I financed it over 20 years or so. But this is me living in suburbia. I want you to see what most 20 somethings are dealing with. The apartment complex below is how many lower income and people in their 20s live. Let’s count the EV charging stations in the below picture.
So let’s assume they buy an EV. Where are they charging it? Are you now going to force apartment complexes all over the nation to foot the bill for billions to somehow run power everywhere for charging stations? Will you force energy companies to do this? Where is this power being generated, and based on what source? Are the taxpayers expected to foot these bills in the name of “infrastructure”?
It gets even worse if you live in a city. A few months ago, I drove my RAM 1500 into Philly to go to my brother’s engagement party on South Street. The first parking garage I arrived at had a 6’2″ clearance. My truck needed 6’8″. Instantly, I realized I was in a lot of trouble. I spent the next 90 minutes or so driving all around that area, eventually finding a parking garage for 6’8″ clearance. This episode had me see a truly problematic issue with parking there, but on top of that, I only saw 1 charging station in front of a single house – and this then became an issue with how do you reserve that spot for yourself? Parking is a mess in cities, but good luck finding a place to charge in front of any dwelling or in any garages. This is perhaps a problem for anyone in a city in this country…which could be over 100m people.
Hurry up and wait
The root cause of the problem is this. Gore came out with his peeps 20 years ago and told you that if you don’t do something drastic in the next few years, then sea levels will rise and you are all dead. Not subtle. He went on to make many millions, and him and his cronies all fly around on private jets – and created a whole entire “green industry” based off of this stuff worth trillions today. The main issue is not that going “green” is wrong, but the timelines he created then led to a frenzy and a panic. This panic is then the reason things must be done now, “or else”. All of the predictions of “global warming” in that movie proved to not come true. In fact, they then changed the term from “global warming” to “climate change” because the name wasn’t exactly accurate. Every year, they blame a hurricane or two on this, and this year was no different – despite the fact that this is by far the least amount of hurricanes I’ve ever seen in my life.
The narrative is correct in that we need to be better stewards of our climate. Smog, pollution – that stuff isn’t good for our health. The problem is, what to do about it. The fallacy here is not the issue, but the timeline, and how change is implemented. I work as an IT manager for a very, very, very large organization. Meaning, my job is to manage constant change. For most of you, going from a rotary phone to a cell phone was life altering. My entire career is based on methods and practices of how to introduce, lead, and manage change for massive organizations.
At issue here is they say, “get an EV”. But there’s no means of most people to afford them. Even if they could afford them, they have no means of charging them. And, even if they were to charge them, as you can see, they would be powered by nat gas and/or coal. In PA, as of a few years ago, coal was 48% of our baseload power. We have this thing called “the coal regions” and with this, we can get stupid cheap electricity.
So we are in a situation then where we have to hurry to move to “green”, but the infrastructure/funding is not there for everyone to move to overnight. What to do?
Parallel phase implementation
As I mentioned, in IT, change happens all the time, hopefully seamless to you. Some organizations are much better than it at others, and often times end users may see all kinds of problems, and not understand the many conflicting items behind the scenes with change – and they tend to blame the wrong people for issues. They are upset, and lash out at the IT guy. In many cases, this is terrible business processes, and the IT people are the only people keeping the wheels from falling off. What we have here is terrible business understanding of the problem.
Assume for a minute, that you had the idea of going “green”. This shows that in 2021 there was about 4T kWh used. It also mentioned that in the past 70 years, our power needs increased 13x. Not 13%. 13x.
As a project manager (yes, I also have the Project Management Professional certification), you might want to understand total consumption metrics, then also understand where your baseload and variable energy is coming from. From here – you see an end destination you want, then set up milestones and do a work breakdown statement as to how to get there. Then you source out the materials, labors, permits, and go from there.
Ummmmm….none of this was done. It was “hair on fire” to get to green ASAP, and if you don’t you will die. Seems to be an effective strategy for implementing change. And, the expected results have ensued.
In 2008, you can see the below from here
You can see that 49% of baseload energy was coal, with nat gas at 21% and nuclear at 19% for the big 3 making up 89% of all baseload power. You can see hydro at 6% taking these 4 sources at 95% of all power. The top two made up 70% that were from fossil fuels.
So the challenge then is to understand that:
a) power requirements are constantly increasing as populations grow and tech needs grow (Remember the 13x from above?). We would need to constantly consider bringing up more and more power
b) If we are to take power sources offline, we should not only have power to replace it that is green, but consider additional power requirements that are needed.
c) “green” power sources, at this time, are more expensive than coal/nat gas. We have to take into account that even after 20+ years, these technologies are not viable economically without subsidies. The subsidies then potentially have the problem of driving up costs as producers pad profits, knowing the government will provide the subsidies needed.
Additionally, “green” power is primarily solar and wind. There are batteries added to this to store, as well, and all three of these items require significant amounts of dirty mining using stupid amounts of diesel power to extract copper, lithium, nickel, cobalt, aluminum, silver, and just about any other metal.
With this, you can see what a wind turbine is made from…notice you see metals and things made from oil
Now, we take a look at batteries
Lots of lithium, nickel, cobalt, etc.
All of the above “green” technologies use some form of this that you aren’t grasping.
Which require this…
And refining using this (lots of energy)
To be transported using this
Or uses petroleum from this…
And have recycling problems like this after 20 years.
So the idea is this….
- Understand that in 2008, nearly 70% of all baseload power was using fossil fuels.
- We need to use a lot of fossil fuels to mine minerals and pump oil, then we need to use a lot of baseload power (nat gas, coal) to then refine these materials into “green” substances.
- We need to then push this expensive technology to force consumers to buy it, and it runs on high amounts of fossil fuel baseload energy
- We do not have the capacity to charge all of these new devices until the grids are updated with even more copper which is found in mines and needs to be refine
- Eventually, we will force “green” generation of everything, cost be damned, to ensure we are no longer emitting harmful gases into the atmosphere
Where are we today? I looked for a few minutes for 2021 numbers, and couldn’t find it – so let’s look at 2019 numbers here.
This is showing that 80% is nat gas, coal, and perhaps oil. Wait. In 2008, we had 70% nat gas/coal, and 1.6% petroleum? To me, this appears to be a massive amount of power needed over this time, but a lot of other power sources like nuclear and coal declined. This required what appears to be oil to fill this gap due to perhaps the cost and timeline to invest in renewables. Note, they also count “wood” as a renewable energy here – despite how much smoke and pollution it can cause.
To go back to the topic of this section, “parallel phase implementation”, what you would be doing in IT would be perhaps having a new system spun up, in tandem, with the old one, and migrate users over to the new one gradually. As new users move, the old systems get sunset. You can think of this with power as, “we need to remove natural gas and coal energy sources (perhaps 70 quadrillion BTUs based on the numbers above) as we spin up 70 quadrillion in green sources PLUS the additional overhead needed each year for more power – to include EVs. What you have seen is perhaps the polar opposite. You see coal decline, a lot, which is a win – BUT – take a look at petroleum jumping to 35% and nat gas going up 14%. These numbers I got above could be wrong, but I have seen charts like these in the ballpark of these numbers. The THEME is this…
“We have more power needs. We have an increase in “green” sources, but it is not only NOT keeping up with more power needs, but as we are standing down coal and nuclear, we have no green sources here to cover that delta. Therefore, people need to cut their power consumption and/or rolling blackouts will occur”.
If they did this how a legitimate business would do this, they would stand down the fossil fuel sources ONLY WHEN they had new baseload green energy spun up. Clearly, that is not the case.
Where they get it right and wrong
The existing push to have a cleaner earth – appears noble. To do it without spinning up adequate green replacement power is silly, and has resulted in even more fossil fuel usage than in 2008 as standing down sources like coal and nuclear with no viable green baseload in its place has then led to a massive jump in petroleum for generation. One can make the argument that the cause is time sensitive, and if nothing is done, we risk losing the planet. However, how it’s going isn’t exactly as planned. While the plan was to cut fossil fuels, how the policy is playing out is that there’s even more fossil fuels being used and no real way to get “green” energy online quickly enough.
The “green” industry doesn’t seem to embrace nuclear, and they should. The wind doesn’t always blow, and the sun doesn’t always shine, and with this, “green” energy in its current model doesn’t really count as sustainable “baseload” energy. Nuclear should be considered due to its zero emissions, and with this – there seems to be a lot of misinformation out there on spent nuclear fuel.
It makes sense to be able to augment nat gas/nuclear/hydro/petroleum baseload energy with wind/solar, but the “green” people don’t seem to understand what baseload means, nor do they seem to understand the physics of what adding 20-50m EVs might do to our existing power grid – with the inability to charge them.
I personally have solar. I bought 116% of my needs, with the intention SOMEDAY of getting an EV truck to charge with it. I have Tesla powerwalls to store power to then use that overnight. Most people will charge their EV overnight, but there’s no solar overnight – so lots of batteries will need to be used.
///Side note – due to what percent of a battery cost is associated with a new EV, many are very cautious (and rightly so) about buying a used EV. Consider buying a 10 year old used Tesla for $10,000 only to be saddled with a $28,000 bill in the next year when your battery dies? Is the concept then to keep the EV for the entire life of the car? What happens to them when they die? Are they properly recycled?
///End side note
Where they get it wrong: “the world is doomed by 2011 if we don’t all go green”. The predictions with timelines are kind of silly. It makes sense to have reasonable regulation, but your idea of reasonable and mine are two separate things. “Carbon credits” and that whole system are a scam. These elites are flying around on private jets essentially telling you not to eat cows due to cow farts. They continue to push an agenda with no real plan of actually getting it implemented without taking down power grids. They make enemies of petroleum companies, where they should be partnering with them. Can you imagine if Exxon or Shell or the like had a solar division where they could buy many of these large companies that may be profitable? You could have Exxon and the like being “energy” companies rather than “petroleum” companies. They are trying to badger us into some sort of moral hypocrisy – not realizing the amount of fossil fuels and mining needed to create “green” energy – and seem completely ignorant as to the lifecycle of these products and how/if they are recycled. There are billions being thrown into this industry with the idea of creating a frenzy and panic – which has led to cult-like followings rather than serious discussions on how we can migrate. I believe the green people need to seriously partner up with the nuclear people. You could, in theory, have nuclear as your baseload and use wind/solar as variable. Wind and solar are still rather expensive power sources when compared to coal. When you look at corporations in China producing goods and services – they may be using far cheaper power sources than us, meaning they have a price competitive advantage aside from the labor advantages. If I wanted to run a factory using a ton of power, I have to look at the cost per KwH as serious metric as to where to build my plant. When these plants are not built here due to high power costs, but perhaps China, one has to consider all of the job losses that mount up over the decades.
Where they got it right: I think it makes sense for new houses to have solar and/or batteries. While it adds to the cost of a home, what it does is mostly prevent adding to a grid’s overhead and it sort of makes sense to be part of a 20 or 30 year mortgage. Consider this is law in California – where the grid issues are most prevalent. I think it makes sense for consumers to have low interest loans to buy this stuff. In my case, I had a $150 per month avg bill – and after tax credits, solar credits, etc – my avg bill with 31 panels and 2 powerwalls is $175. Given power bills went up this past year, I may have broken even. I am locked into this $175 or so for the next 20 years, where power bills may go up 2-5% per year for everyone. Additionally, my powerwalls allow me to store energy during the day to then use overnight. I think EVs over the course of the next 50 years will take over, but until you fix the apartment or city issue with charging stations, there’s a barrier a lot of people have to getting an EV. I believe there is a contingent of “green” people that are for nuclear, and strongly believe that over the course of the next decade, nuclear will gain a lot of traction as a main baseload energy source as fossil fuels like nat gas and petroleum become costlier to acquire whilst the challenges to wind/solar as baseload still are present. I believe batteries are a VERY big part of the future, the problem is energy density to cost right now is not great. I believe that continued research and development in this field will yield “moon landing” results at some point which is where the light switch flips.
Fantasy thought – if you got this far, you are a die hard reader of my stuff and are probably aware of Steve St. Angelo. He tends to bash people over the head these days with “the energy cliff”. Assume for a minute, that the US has 100% of their power from nuclear, wind, solar, and hydro. While it’s not possible due to how long it takes to build and fund nuclear power, walk down this road with me for a minute. It would also require all homes like mine to convert my heat to a heat pump from gas. So not possible, but play along. IF this is the case, we have drastically reduced/eliminated coal, petroleum, and NG from power generation sources. Additionally, consider then that 50m EVs are now on the roads. Assume that a lot more houses have solar, and many houses now have batteries like Tesla powerwalls to charge their EVs. You would still have many city/apt dwellers using their cars. But I want to solve this with the last section below. IF that reality is to occur, it would require mining of minerals like the world has never seen, and is not possible without these metals all going hockey stick before more supply is able to be made. From an investment perspective, it makes a lot of sense to invest in these metals and the mining of these metals. Additionally, nuclear HAS to be part of that solution, so investing in that metal also makes a lot of sense. My point is not that it WILL happen, but in order to make it happen – resources would have to drastically shift in that direction. This is skating to where the puck is going.
Parting thoughts – a bi-partisan approach to solving this issue with work/life balance
I’m now looking at a supplemental solution to the “green” which will affect all driving ICE vehicles for the next 10-30 years.
My first work on energy was in 2008 or so, when somehow, I was “voluntold” to do a telework write up for a company of 125,000 people. Not sure how I got in these crosshairs, but I did. Specifically, they wanted a write up to discuss the impact to climate change. What I ended up doing was understanding the amount of people we had, with the avg commute distance, then used the avg mpg of cars to then detail how much fuel we consumed driving to work. This was then put into how much carbon those 125,000 people were putting into the atmosphere yearly. I proposed that by allowing telework of even 1 day a week would allow for a football stadium full of carbon equivalent to not be used. Something like that. Not exact – but the idea was clear to me in this analysis. The biggest impact anyone can have on producing less carbon was to drive less.
Many of the jobs I’ve been in, it’s “ass in seat time”. Meaning, most of these employers are what you would think of as “Theory X” workers – using MacGregor’s work. That is, that these employees are inherently lazy and I have to thrash them if they misbehave. This is how most of you learn to manage. Truth is, it’s how you are supposed to manage Burger King employees or factory workers. The concept is people that do these types of job prefer a rote sense of tasks, are numbers oriented, and it is up to the managers to ensure employees hit these numbers. If they don’t, managers are then fired. However, the truth is in most workplaces in the US today, you have “Theory Y” workers – who are attracted to the work and are driven by goals and career achievement. Managers need to manage productivity, and not widget production. With this, managers need to point these employees towards tasks/goals, and allow the employee a wide berth to accomplish these goals. This is how you have seen the Silicon valley types of employment over the years.
But what the pandemic did was twofold – it not only kept people from driving and demonstrated many companies CAN do telework and be VERY profitable, but it also crushed the demand for fossil fuels in that no one was traveling. IF I was in charge of the Department of Labor, TODAY, I would…
- Identify what types of work using DOL standards can telework
- Incentivizing employers via tax breaks to offer TW/remote work to a percentage of their employees
- Look within the federal government, state governments, and local governments to maximize telework. When you can maximize telework for perhaps 5m of your workforce, this might have impact with how many cars are on the road. Also, these entities can reduce their office space footprint and minimize those heating/power bills.
If you are a company, it also makes sense to maximize your telework for the above item in regards to office space usage and power. Companies demonstrated for 2 years that you could have a remote workforce and still be highly productive. I once worked for a government agency where the fed employees TW 4 days a week, contractors 3. This was 2013-2017. They significantly reduced their footprint and had kiosk areas where employees would “huddle”. They also torn down old buildings that were massive and cost a ton to heat and power and replaced them with smaller buildings with much more efficient building materials, windows, etc. I also worked for Pfizer, who did the same thing over the last few years – to smartly reduce their footprint, identify which types of positions can TW/remote work, and apply this to your business model to reduce operating costs.
Lastly, with work/life balance, I believe (and I have seen by being a hiring manager) that employees, if given a choice, will not go back to 5 days in the office with “ass in seat time”. Many of these employees have now adapted to this and want to spend more time at home. I know that I have a 2 year old, and before the pandemic, I didn’t have the 2 year old. 5 days commute every week with 3 hours a day driving is a different game now that I want to not miss my 2 year old’s life. For a company to be more flexible with TW and remote work, you can also potentially attract people from further away. In the one agency I worked from 2013-2017, I was able to recruit my highly talented buddy from 2 hours away. He only came in the office on Wednesdays, and we would all go to lunch these days as a team. Had I not had that flexibility, I would not have been able to recruit him. I believe companies that can iron out the issues with telework, work life balance, and remote work can not only have a competitive advantage with recruiting – but can reduce their labor costs in this process while reducing operating expenses for expensive building costs and variable costs with heating/cooling/power.
October 17, 2022 at 6:33 pm
While (possibly) not in my lifetime… this too shall pass