Why Renewable Energy Is Hopeless

At Watts Up With That?, Ed Hoskins spotlights the intractable problem with solar and wind power: much of the time, the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing. This means that in practice, solar and wind facilities can produce only a small fraction of their nominal capacities. This chart requires a bit of study; for three countries, the U.S., Germany and the U.K., it contrasts the nominal (“nameplate”) capacity of wind and solar facilities with their actual production of energy:

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In each case, the actual energy produced is only a small fraction of the rated capacity. It isn’t hard to understand why this is true:

[T]here is a major problem with these renewable energy sources. Their electrical output is not dispatchable. Their output is entirely unable respond to electricity demand as and when needed. Energy is contributed to the grid in a haphazard manner dependent on the weather, and certainly not necessarily when it is required.

For example solar power inevitably varies according to the time of day, the state of the weather and also of course radically with the seasons. Essentially solar power might only work effectively in Southern latitudes and it certainly does not do well in Northern Europe. In Germany the massive commitment to solar energy might well provide up to ~20% of country wide demand for a few hours on some fine summer days either side of noon, but at the time of maximum power demand on winter evenings solar energy input is necessarily nil.

Electricity generation from wind turbines is equally fickle, as for example in a week in July this year shown above. Similarly an established high pressure zone with little wind over the whole of Northern Europe is a common occurrence in winter months, that is when electricity demand is likely to be at its highest.

Conversely on occasions renewable energy output may be in excess of demand and this has to dumped unproductively. There is still no solution to electrical energy storage on a sufficiently large industrial scale. That is the reason that the word “nominally” is used here in relation to the measured outputs from renewable energy sources.

Wind and solar power are industries that are destined to remain in their infancy, if not forever, then certainly for the indefinite future.

Obama’s (G)Rand Strategy?

There is a decent case to be made that the United States is overextended in the world, or that the United States should not be, as the simpleminded phrase has it, the “world’s policeman.” Even short of that view, we often overestimate our capacities for intervening and controlling events in chaotic places like Libya. I thought Obama was actually correct to stay out of Syria, though if so he should have kept his mouth shut about “red lines,” and a couple of well-placed MOABs on Bashir Assad’s favorite palaces were certainly in order.

Our current and recent commitments have been extremely costly in both blood and treasure, and it is an immutable fact that the American people do not like long military engagements. Any president contemplating what to do overseas has to keep that in mind when he forms strategy and makes commitments.

From a certain point of view Obama’s desire to reduce America’s role or responsibilities is not per se objectionable. Rand Paul, it should be noted, embraces the same idea, and for some of the same reasons. But to realign the world order so as to reduce American responsibility (and costs) requires a serious and long-term grand strategy to replace the United States as the essential pillar of the world order.

It requires someone of the genius of the men who helped Harry Truman knit together the NATO alliance and our Cold War doctrines in the 1940s, or of the capacities of Nixon and Kissinger when they inherited the Vietnam mess and the decayed foreign policy consensus of the late 1960s. It would require the formation of new alliances and regional counterweights to step in forcefully where America no longer wishes to commit. It would require some harsh measures on our part to make certain countries assume more responsibility for policing their neighborhood. It would require making a lot of reluctant countries assume responsibilities they’d rather just slough off to us. It would take a decade or longer for such realignments to take shape and have effect. Ceasing to be “the world’s policeman” will not mean that the world won’t need policing.

Does anyone think Obama or anyone around him is of this far-sighted caliber, or even thinking this way? Hillary Clinton? John Kerry? Valerie Jarrett? Samantha Power? This crew makes Zbigniew Brzezinski and Cy Vance look like Metternich, Castlereagh and Talleyrand by comparison.

Obama proceeds from the leftist assumption that America is the cause of the world’s problems, and that if we withdraw from the world things will improve because all these Third Worlders are so much better than we let them be. Call it foreign policy by guilt.  To the extent Obama has a strategy at all, it is to appease Iran, or possibly his own kind of “Nixon-to-China” moment, i.e., “Only Obama can go to Iran.”  He doesn’t seem to realize that no American can go to Iran.  The opening to China worked because we knew that China viewed the Soviet Union as its main adversary in the world, and as such there was something in it for them as well as us.  But Iran regards the United States as its chief enemy, and none of Obama’s smooth talking will change that.

Nau Cover copyRand Paul proceeds from the formulaic and doctrinaire libertarian assumption that all we need to promote peace and prosperity in the world is lots and lots of free trade.

Obama is a lost cause obviously, but Rand Paul and every other potential Republican candidate for 2016 ought to read Henry Nau’s book Conservative Internationalism: Armed Diplomacy Under Jefferson, Polk, Truman and Reagan. I think Nau lays out precisely how you’d go about forming a grand strategy along the lines suggested above.

An excerpt from the introduction:

Today in foreign policy literature and public discourse, conservative internationalism does not exist. Liberal thinking dominates the internationalist tradition, and conservative thinking has been classified historically as either nationalist or realist. More recently, liberal critics have tried to conflate conservative foreign policy with neoconservatives (neocons) and George W. Bush. But important tenets of conservative internationalism, such as small government, limited priorities, and armed diplomacy to achieve timely compromise, not unconditional surrender, are not synonymous with neoconservatism; and despite his liberal internationalist rhetoric, George W. Bush has the instincts of a nationalist and realist, not a neocon. His freedom agenda did not exist before the 9/11 attacks, and that agenda was undermined after 9/11 chiefly by his nationalist focus on victory and realist aversion to nation-building.

Rams cut Michael Sam

The St. Louis Rams cut Michael Sam today, as they trimmed their roster to the limit of 53 players. Sam is bidding to become the first man to play in the NFL while openly gay.

Despite being cut, Sam’s chances to play in the NFL remain decent, I think. Sam showed plenty of ability during the pre-season. In one game, he sacked Johnny Manziel (known, for some reason, as “Johnny Football”) twice. This was nothing new for Sam. He sacked Manziel as a junior and as a senior in college.

Why didn’t Sam make the team? Not, as far as I can tell, because of anything having to do with his sexual orientation.

Sam’s problem was that an undrafted free agent named Ethan Westbrooks came out of nowhere and had a fine training camp/pre-season at defensive end (Sam’s position). The Rams are stacked at defensive end, so the last slot was always likely to go to the player who performed best on special teams. That player turned out to be Westbrooks.

In all likelihood, the Rams will place Sam on their practice squad next week unless another team claims him for its 53 man roster. As the name suggests, members of practice squads practice with the team as if they were part of the regular roster. However, they can’t play in games unless they are elevated to the regular roster.

Typically, players are elevated if there’s an injury at their position or if someone on the regular squad performs poorly. Meanwhile, other teams can claim practice squad members at any time.

All-in-all, I’d say that Sam’s prospects of eventually making a 53 man roster and getting on the field in a regular NFL game are pretty good if he keeps working hard.

Coming Soon to Climate Change: The “Rewind” Button?

As is well known—except to readers of the major media, which means most of the public—someone hit the “pause” button on global warming about 15 years back. We’ve covered some of the theories behind the pause several times here on Power Line (this post is the most recent, with links to the previous installments), including the leading theory that the “missing heat” is not missing at all, but is going into the deep ocean.

Never mind that climate orthodoxy told us incessantly that it was the atmosphere we could expect to warm up rapidly (settled? did you say settled?) or that the deep ocean theory was highly convenient because we lack enough data with which to validate it. It keeps the climatista camp stoves burning (so to speak), which is the important thing.

Some evidence to support the deep ocean hypothesis is dribbling in, such as in Science magazine this week, but with the caveat that the “pause” may last another decade or longer. Here’s how The Telegraph reports the story:

The “pause” in global warming may last another decade before surface temperatures start rising again, according to scientists who say heat is being stored in the depths of the Atlantic and Southern Oceans.

Global average surface temperatures rose rapidly from the 1970s but have been relatively stable since the late 1990s, in a trend that has been seized upon by climate sceptics who question the science of man-made warming.

A new study, published in the journal Science, suggests that a natural cycle of ocean currents has caused the phenomenon by drawing heat from shallow waters down almost a mile into the depths of the Atlantic and Southern Oceans.

The cycle naturally produces periods of roughly 30 years in which heat is stored near the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, leading to warmer temperatures, followed by roughly 30 years in which it is stored in the depths, causing cooler surface temperatures, it suggests.

Well okay then. Oscillations in ocean behavior? Who would’ve thunk it? Actually Mark Steyn did thunk it:

I felt vaguely that I’d read about this climate cycle – natural variability, 30-year cooling periods, 30-year warming periods – somewhere before …oh, years ago, it was. But for the life of me I couldn’t recall which eminent climate scientist had advanced the proposition. And then I remembered. It was IPCC lead author, Nobel Laureate and Fellow of the Royal Society Professor Mark Steyn just over five years ago:

If you mean the argument on “global warming,” my general line is this: For the last century, we’ve had ever-so-slight warming trends and ever-so-slight cooling trends every 30 years or so, and I don’t think either are anything worth collapsing the global economy over.

Things warmed up a bit in the decades before the late Thirties. Why? I dunno. The Versailles Treaty? The Charleston?

Then from 1940 to 1970 there was a slight cooling trend. In its wake, Lowell Ponte (who I believe is an expert climatologist and, therefore, should have been heeded) wrote his bestseller, The Cooling: Has the new ice age already begun? Can we survive?

From 1970 to 1998 there was a slight warming trend, and now there’s a slight cooling trend again. And I’m not fussed about it either way.

I’m tempted to start making book on when we’ll stop hearing about the global warming “pause” button being pushed, and when we start hearing about the global warming “rewind” button being pushed. Maybe around next March 1 if the predictions of another hard winter come to pass. (Yeah, yeah, I know, a hard winter in north America doesn’t actually mean anything about the global climate, but when you dine out on every warm weather anomaly and strong storm as proof of catastrophic climate change, then you deserve what you get when local circumstances become . . . inconvenient. Heh.)

The Week in Pictures: Strategery Edition

Yeah, go ahead and mock George W. Bush for his “strategery.” At least he had one—however it was pronewnced.  The Chicago Tribune‘s John Kass thinks Obama’s “killer rabbit moment” is surely nigh upon us. May I just point out that Power Line was way ahead of Kass on this one—more than once. But since Obama golfs instead of fishing—playing the angles instead of angling you might say—I’m predicting he’ll get swallowed by a giant Dune-like sandworm emerging from a sand trap out on the course.

By the way, when Jimmy Carter came down from Camp David in 1979 after retreating there for over a week to get his head together, reporters noticed he was parting his hair on the other side of his head, fueling rumors that Carter was suffering nervous exhaustion or something.  I think Obama’s fashion-felony tan suit is a signal that he really has packed up his presidency. (“You are not the president of Sears,” said Esquire magazine—ouch!)

War Strategery copy

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Going Solo copy

Obama Gold Stooges copy

Obama Sand Trap copy

Behad Golf Club copy

Obama's Evil copy Bush v Obama copy

Who Crashed Economy? copy IRS Drives copy

Tax King copy Taxes My Way copy

Tax Rate copy

Johad Works Both ways copy

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Climate Shaming copy

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A special feature: our news media at its finest:

Flying Bugs copy Fed Gun Raid copy Diana Alive copy Sewer Smelss copy Teen Pregnanacy copy New Attorney copy Morgue Shooting Spree copyMan, I can’t wait for the Hollywood adaptation of this story:

Gay lesbian copy

Chick Assuses Sexism copy

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Meth Progress copy

Doing the ice bucket challenge before it was cool.

Doing the ice bucket challenge before it was cool.

I thought this was unconstitutional?

I thought this was unconstitutional?

Coffee 3 copyHot Coffee copy

Giraffe Coffee copy

Jabba the Weigth Watcher copy Vader Inhaler copy

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H.P. Lovecraft Meets Thomas Kinkaide

H.P. Lovecraft Meets Thomas Kinkaide

Han Solo copyAnd finally, by popular request. . .

Hot Cardinale2 copy

Obama explains to the very rich

At a fundraiser in the home of an occasional Obama golf partner and former president of UBS Investment Bank, Obama spoke before an audience paying $15,000 a couple to bask in his aura.

Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They want to hear more Obama, and they can afford his policies.

Speaking before a friendly crowd, Obama delivered real value. He achieved new depths of inanity. He actually said this without provoking howls of laughter. (The very rich are different from you and me). Justin Sink reports in the Hill:

“I can see why a lot of folks are troubled,” Obama told a group of donors gathered at a Democratic National Committee barbecue in Purchase, N.Y.

But the president said that current foreign policy crises across the world are not comparable to the challenges the U.S. faced during the Cold War.

Acknowledging “the barbarity” of Islamist militants and Russia “reasserting the notion that might means right,” Obama, though, dismissed the notion that he was facing unprecedented challenges.

“The world’s always been messy … we’re just noticing now in part because of social media,” he said, according to a White House pool report.

Priceless. And there is more:

And there is more:

“If you watch the nightly news, it feels like the world is falling apart,” said Obama.

The president acknowledged that conflicts in the Middle East posed difficulties, “but it’s been challenging for quite a while,” he said.

“We will get through these challenging times just like we have in the past,” Obama added.

Obama to the contrary not withstanding, he presents a crisis with a new challenge. In crises past, we had Lincoln and Roosevelt to see us through. In the Cold War, we had Truman to set the course with the strategy of Containment and Reagan to top it off. Now we are revisiting killer rabbit territory, but Carter awoke from his reveries. Obama still seeks to align us with the mullahs of Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood and their friends elsewhere.

Obama does not understand the nature of the challenge that oppresses us. He is obstinate in his view of the world. He is not about to learn anything. We have never confronted a world crisis with an ideological numbnuts at the helm.

Hope! We can hope for a “strategy,” or we can hope that things will start looking up in about two-and-a-half years.

UPDATE: Via Hot Air, more context for the quotes here. Peter Baker brings the news for the New York Times readership in “Seeking to ease worries, Obama says the world has always been ‘messy.’”

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