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De Omnibus Dubitandum - Lux Veritas

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

The Green Energy Wall Can't Arrive Quickly Enough

@ Manhattan Contrarian

 We are fast approaching something I have called the “Green Energy Wall.” The “Wall” consists of some combination of real-world obstacles, partly cost and partly physics, that will inevitably end the quest for emissions-free “net zero” electricity generation well before the goal of zero emissions is reached. I first identified the approaching Wall in this post in December 2021, and remarked that it was “gradually coming into focus” in this follow-up post in November 2023. Everyone who pays attention and is capable of doing basic arithmetic knows that the we are approaching this Wall, some jurisdictions much faster than others. (New York has voluntarily put itself in the front ranks.).

What we don’t know is how the hitting of the Wall will manifest itself: Widespread and frequent blackouts? Regular, enforced load-shedding brown-outs? Tripling or quadrupling of electricity prices? A political uprising as people realize that they have been duped by scammers claiming that an energy transition would be easy and cheap? Or perhaps it will be all of the above.

Meanwhile, the years pass slowly. The impossibility of the situation we are digging into becomes more and more obvious, but so far there is no obvious crisis. Will it arrive in another year, or two? Or maybe five?

Consider New York. Multiple statutes and regulations commit us to energy-transition mandates that simply will not be met. Among the fantasies are two major statutes passed in 2019, one for New York State (Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act), and the other for the City (Local Law 97); and vehicle emissions standards adopted in 2022 by New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

Start with those vehicle emissions standards. In 2022 the DEC adopted for New York the standards and requirements set forth in the California Air Resources Board’s “Advanced Clean Cars II” regulation. California’s regulations call for minimum percentages of vehicles sold to be “zero emissions” starting with the 2026 model year, and then rapidly scaling up to 100% “zero emissions” by the 2035 model year. Here is a chart from CARB of the percentages of vehicles sold, by model year, that are supposed to be “zero emissions.”:

Equally ridiculous is the mandate in the CLCPA for 70% of electricity generation from “renewables” by 2030. The people in charge of implementing this mandate are completely incompetent and have no idea what they are doing. After passage of the Act in 2019, the first significant step, in 2020 and 2021, was to close the two zero-emissions nuclear reactors at Indian Point that provided about 25% of New York City’s electricity, and replace them with two brand new natural gas plants, thus substantially increasing emissions. So to date, the progress toward the so-called 70 x 30 goal has been negative.

The signature initiative to achieve the 70 x 30 goal is a plan for 9000 MW of offshore wind off the coast of Long Island. In this post on March 5 I did the simple arithmetic to calculate that, if all of that capacity actually gets built, it would at best provide about 16% of New York’s current electricity consumption — before the addition of new loads from the electrification of the vehicle fleet and of home heating. Granted, we have the large hydro plant at Niagara Falls that they count as “renewable,” plus some other hydro resources that, together with Niagara Falls, might come to 20% of consumption. So with those plus the offshore wind, perhaps we can get to 35% of consumption. (Meanwhile, the offshore wind projects keep getting canceled and delayed as the developers maneuver to get themselves increased prices.)

How are we going to get to 70% from renewables in under 6 years? They literally have no clue. Something called a “Scoping Plan” has been generated pursuant to the CLCPA. It foresees a need for something they call the “Dispatchable Emissions Free Resource.” This is something that does not currently exist, and likely will not exist during any relevant time frame.

Yet the lack of any viable replacement has not prevented New York from pledging to close its well-functioning natural gas plants. Several were scheduled for closure this year. But then, back in November, somebody noticed that there was nothing to replace the plants, so the forced retirement of four of these plants got postponed for two years. News flash: two years from now, we’re still not going to have anything to replace these plants. The same will be true four years from now, and six and eight and ten. Will they simply keep postponing the mandated closure? Perhaps this is how we avoid smashing into the Green Energy Wall.

And then we have Local Law 97, supposedly mandating all large (25,000 square feet and up) residential buildings to convert to electric heat, mostly by 2030. This will represent an increase in the demand on the grid by something in the range of 30%. This at the same time as the natural gas plants are mandated to close, to be only partially replaced by some highly irregular offshore wind that will not fully replace the gas generation, let alone begin to supply the increased demand.

Something has to give here, and it will give. It will be much for the best if this happens quickly, rather than dragging on for years and years.

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