Is the Anti-Coal Drumbeat Worthy?
By José Antonio Vanderhorst-Silverio, Ph.D.
Systemic Consultant: Electricity
First posted in the GMH Blog, on September 26th, 2008. Posted again on the 28th.
Copyright © 2008 José Antonio Vanderhorst-Silverio. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, without written permission from José Antonio Vanderhorst-Silverio. This article is an unedited, an uncorrected, draft material of The EWPC Textbook. Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org to contact the author for any kind of engagement.
Whether he knows or not, the very intelligent, very important and well respected, Warren Causey’s is “talking the talk” in defense of the power utility and coal industries interests with his article If you want the utility industry to join the financial industry, keep up the anti-coal drumbeat!
This is part of the comment I posted September 25th, 2008, in response:
… I suggest the EWPC article "Is Gore's Revolutionary Leadership Challenge Feasible?,” whose summary reads: "Al Gore leadership challenge is based on leading expert advice. EWPC is the first holistic step ready to be implemented in an Energy Policy Act that satisfies the non-trivial power system requirements laid out by the leading experts [and] power industry insiders the late Fred C. Schweppe and Jack Casazza."
One thing that needs to become clear is that the fossil fuel "fueled" society system needs to be restructured out by opening the power industry to competition. Maybe 10 years could become 12 or 15 years transition, the whole point about EWPC is that it has a bridging function. It does that by letting generation competition work its way out, by having fossil fuels taxed in accordance with rules at the WTO. All those like Mark Gabriel and you [Causey] that feel that clean power will not make a dent should favor such free competition under in a power business without price controls.
Unlike the financial industry and deregulation, which are prone to systemic risks, EWPC has a controlled transportation market that is associated with short run and long run systemic risks. Please take a look at the article "Rethinking
Electricity Restructuring as EWPC." Long run systemic risk is known in the
power industry system adequacy.
End of the comment and the beginning of another comment.
In the article Strategies for the Energy Crisis, posted September 26, 2008, on Technology Review (TR), BP's chief scientist, Steven Koonin (SK), is interviewed by Kevin Bullis. Koonin says cutting greenhouse emissions will take major changes.
I infer that according to Cardiff University sociologist, Harry Collins, that SK as a leading expert and industry insider, while he cannot "walk the walk," he does a lot more than just "talk the talk," as Causey and Gabriel do, SK can "walk the talk." The difference between Causey and Gabriel on one side and SK in the other is scientific expertise. Also according to Collins Koonin can contribute, while Causey and Gabriel cannot.
To support the worth of the anti-coal drumbeat, I selected two interchanges from the interview:
TR: When you look at public policy decisions, what are some other mistakes you've seen?
SK: One is confusing transportation with stationary sources of power and heat. What problems are we trying to solve? If it's carbon dioxide emissions, there are cheaper ways to do it than improving transportation. If you improve the efficiency of a vehicle to reduce fuel use and carbon dioxide emissions, for many vehicle technologies it will take several hundred dollars per ton of carbon dioxide. But transport is only 20 percent of energy-related emissions. Heat and power from stationary sources are most of it. At $50 a ton, there's a lot of carbon that can be wrung out of stationary sources. When you start cranking the price up to $100 to $200, that's when you start to affect transport, whereas we can shift to lower-emissions heat and power at $50 a ton.
TR: Why the difference?
SK: There are about twice the emissions, per unit of useful energy, from coal as from gasoline.
Koonin concludes the interview with "We really need major changes in the ways we produce and use energy if we're going to prevent concentrations from rising. I don't think people understand that." I believe important and intelligent people don't understand it because it is a non-trivial matter, which means that they do not have the interactional expertise Koonin has to be able to walk the talk.
Koonin says "One of the things I have learned, which was surprising but makes sense in retrospect, is that companies are wonderful optimizers of their situation. If the government sets the playing rules appropriately, they will respond strongly and rapidly. So it is a question of getting the right policies in place, as well as a push from within the company."
By walking the talk, as a power utility insider and researcher, I claim that the EWPC market architecture and design paradigm will enable the mayor changes with the right Energy Policy Act for the power industry. In that respect, I suggest readers to consider my humble contributions on the EWPC Blog articles' summary EWPC Blog's First Year Anniversary: Electricity for the Digital Era.