Energy

Limitless supply, limitless potential

You can safely bet politicians and bureaucrats use the latest computers and communication devices and regularly view high-definition smart TVs that replaced smaller screens weighing one or two hundred pounds. Despite knowing about short lifespans in the world of high-tech, decision makers have not used their modern tools to learn how energy technologies have shifted radically as well.

This website offers many criticisms of British Columbia’s policies, particularly about government and its agencies remaining dedicated to 20th century energy solutions: fossil fuels and hydropower. Having expected more after Christy Clark and her masters left power, I am surprised and disappointed at the directions taken.

While John Horgan was in the Official Opposition, he and I chatted about needs of the provincial economy as it evolved from a resource base to one more oriented to technology and service. Sectors that once created much of BC’s wealth had been in decline for years and Horgan seemed to agree that innovation and modernization were keys to future success.

Although the NDP Government has committed modest funds to aid deployment of new technologies, I conclude there is more effort put into public relations to sell the programs than to achieve meaningful results.

Whilst BC remains stuck in the past, the world moves on. BC’s primary economic efforts as we begin 2021 are shaped by climate change deniers promoting increased exports of natural gas and coal and development of hydropower that may cost three times that of green alternatives.

Even the world’s first and second largest emitters of greenhouse gases are moving in the right direction.

China is the world’s largest producer of wind and solar energy and the largest investor in renewable energy.

Despite Donald Trump, the American Energy Department is not focused solely on coal, gas and hydro power. It funds the Wind Energies Technologies Office, which is involved in hundreds of projects, including 22 in Washington State.

According to the office, wind energy deployment currently supports more than 100,000 U.S. jobs, and wind turbine technician is one of the nation’s fastest-growing occupations.

Orsted, based in Denmark, a nation with population only 13% greater than British Columbia, is a world leader in wind power production. By 2025, the company aims to more than double its offshore wind capacity to the equivalent of the annual electricity consumption of 30 million people.

Think of that. Site C, conceived over 50 years ago, won’t even be operating by then.

The cost of offshore wind energy has been dropping steadily and according to Orsted, is now less expensive than generating capacity that burns fossil fuels. Substantially less harmful to the world’s environment as well. As a result, offshore wind power is currently the fastest growing energy technology in Europe.

A Monster Wind Turbine Is Upending an Industry, New York Times, January 1, 2021:

Twirling above a strip of land at the mouth of Rotterdam’s harbor is a wind turbine so large it is difficult to photograph. The turning diameter of its rotor is longer than two American football fields end to end. Later models will be taller than any building on the mainland of Western Europe.

…When assembled in arrays, the wind machines have the potential to power cities…

The prototype is the first of a generation of new machines that are about a third more powerful than the largest already in commercial service. As such, it is changing the business calculations of wind equipment makers, developers and investors…

The race to build bigger turbines has moved faster than many industry figures foresaw. G.E.’s Haliade-X generates almost 30 times more electricity than the first offshore machines installed off Denmark in 1991...

Offshore technology took hold in Northern Europe in the last three decades, and is now spreading to the East Coast of the United States as well as Asia, including Taiwan, China and South Korea. …Capital investment in offshore wind has more than tripled over the last decade….

In energy matters, governments of Canada, British Columbia, and Alberta are on the wrong path. This is not a questionable hypothesis. It is a certainty. The climate crisis is real.

Categories: Energy

16 replies »

  1. Thank you Norm,

    Once again you have showed us the information proving we can be better and all we have to do is follow best practices. It would be a stretch to imagine we could lead.

    In contrast to your reaction post Christy Clark, I am disappointed, but not surprised. After seeing the inner workings of BC Hydro, BCUC, a few Canadian banks and many large corporations, I see that incompetence is the rule rather than the exception.

    Good systems of government recognize the fallible nature of sapiens and develop divisions of power so that no one person can unilaterally destroy the whole system… well, the checks and balances are all broken in Canada. Unfortunately, we don’t even have an independent media to hold wrongdoers to account.

    Disappointed, yes. Surprised, no. My expectation is that every level of government will succumb to the Dunning-Kruger effect to the extent that individuals don’t declare and recognize the limitations of their own knowledge.

    This viewpoint will be confirmed when John Horgan holds a conference explaining Site C to voters. I do have to give him credit that he has stepped aside and let Dr. Henry explain and decide the public response to the pandemic because she’s a doctor with experience and knowledge of pandemics. Could you imagine Horgan stepping aside and letting an engineer with experience and knowledge of dams and utilities make decisions of the future of the Peace River?

    In BC, it has been too easy to manipulate and capture all layers of governance by bad actors. It would be a tough transition, but the only way to correct this issue is to expose and isolate and remove incompetent managers in all public organizations.

    This is a pipe dream, I know. I fully expect to be disappointed by the continued dominance of incompetence…. I will not be surprised.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “we don’t even have an independent media to hold wrongdoers to account”……..just thought I would repeat that

      Like

  2. Just wondering. If Site-C was cancelled and with the money saved; how many off-shore wind farms could BC Hydro build? Just wondering. Do we need more power generated in North America? If we do need more power, could we get it, and being cheaper, in doing upgrades from some existing Hydro facilities? Don’t forget, the upgrade at the John Hart Dam near Campbell River is a financial disaster.(it will never pay for itself) It’s another example of Corporate welfare.

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    • Agreed the deal with SNC Lavalin is suspect. That partner of BC Hydro is a company that has employed people who used bribery to close business deals.

      And yes, upgrading existing facilities—Revelstoke 6, for example—would provide additional electricity. Before the 2017 election, BC NDP publicised their PowerBC plan, which included this statement:

      Upgrade existing BC Hydro infrastructure with resource-smart projects like Revelstoke Dam. Building Unit 6 at Revelstoke Dam would add 500 MW of energy capacity at a cost of $420 million, a fraction of the cost of Site C, and meet BC’s need for more peak capacity much sooner than Site C. Across BC many hydroelectric dams are operating 50s-era machinery. By upgrading these turbines and transformers with modern high-efficiency technology we can increase output while protecting our farms, protecting our natural environment, and respecting First Nations land title.

      As noted in the article here, wind power has been evolving and gaining efficiencies. Installation methods, turbines and control systems are steadily improving. As the industry expands, economies of scale are lowering costs. That’s the opposite of what is happening with new hydropower.

      Opponents of wind power ask, “What happens when the wind stops blowing?”

      Well, it never stops blowing everywhere. If it did, the world would have ended. The beauty of wind and solar power is that facilities can be widely distributed so electricity can be created close to where it is consumed.

      Like

      • Thank you for your blog. I share columns from it a lot in New Brunswick. I am often struck by the similarities in corruption between New Brunswick and British Columbia. A former premier of ours is Chair of the board of Brookfield Asset. He has been on the boards of many, many corporations, since leaving office, and is currently on the board of Canadian Natural Resources, as well as being the Deputy Chair of TD Securities. Recently, the former governor of the Bank of Canada and Bank of England (Carney) joined the Brookfield team, as has the former founding Chair of the Canadian Infrastructure Bank. I am taking bets on how long it will be until the Trans Mountain Project gets sold to Brookfield, or a similar corporation, for a song.

        Liked by 1 person

    • The answer to your question is: we do not need new generation here in BC for the next 20 years. In 20 years, a smart grid infrastructure will be able to accept power from anywhere on the grid and renewable energy will be even cheaper.

      This point has to be made very clear: BC Hydro has a surplus of generation for the next 20 years. Under any scenario. Period.

      Like

    • Cancellation of Site C may take a few years perhaps after a landslide or fracture. The cancellation won’t happen before because..well ..Horgan is a dim witted dupe of BC Hydro and their outside consultants and contractors. The clean up after will be expensive after settling with First Nations and reclaiming valuable farm land.This will be very costly to BC residents as they pay for clean-up and bloated Hydro budgets. Since we do not need any more new generation we should commence to remove less productive BC Hydro dams. Returning to free flowing rivers!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Horgan isnt a dim witted dupe of BC Hydro…… Sadly just a dupe of his Union masters controlling thousands of votes………..building Site C

        Like

  3. I received a funky Christmas gift from my son, a scale model of an Ericson hot air machine, driven by cup hot water.It cost about $40 bucks from Amazon. Put it on a teacup and around and around she goes!

    Now delving into the history of the Ericson/Stirling hot air engine ~

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot_air_engine

    ~ one finds that they were invented in the early 1800’s and became useful in the later part of the 1800’s.

    This is 2021 folks and i am damn sure we could build a power generation system, based on thermal power, powering modern Ericson/Stirling engines, in the end, generating electricity.

    I am sure power produced thus would be be far cheaper than current hydro power.

    Too simple for politicians and no scope to cut ribbons in front of.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mr. Eye,
      The premise behind the hot air machine is similar to the physics used in thermal power generation plants. It’s steam power used to push turbines and convert the energy into electrical power.

      The real trick here is to find a way to generate the heat. In the past we’ve used coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear. Nuclear Fusion could be a game changer in about 20 years for producing heat safely at scale will no emissions.

      In the meantime. BC DOES NOT REQUIRE ANY ADDITIONAL GENERATION.

      It’s annoying to put that sentence in all caps, but it’s key to the public understanding that it’s not Site C or another generator… we don’t need any more power.

      Hope this helps.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ross Beatty of PanAmerican Silver was worth several hundred million and bought The nationally owned Geothermal Power company of Greenland about a decade ago when the country went bankrupt.
        They went in and looked at all the patents the Danes had for geothermal.
        Beatty then began to quietly buy up huge tracts of land on Vancouver Island and the mainland….

        As Beatty once said, “Geothermal is clean, limitless and beneath our feet.”

        Like

  4. https://www.google.com/amp/s/spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/aerospace/astrophysics/search-extraterrestrial-intelligence-major-upgrade.amp.html

    We are searching for intelligent life in space because we’ve looked for years in our legislature and haven’t found anything yet.

    Why do we CHOOSE idiots to govern us at every level?

    It truly would be better to have MLAs choosen randomly through a lottery (once vetted and nominated). Then institute an easy way to recall the duds. Don’t we all think our jury system works much better than any of our governments?

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    • Here is what has happened to our politics and why we now have duds galore.

      In today’s government, real government emanates from the premier’s or Prime minister’s Office and the trained sheep who are in the majority support what the premier’s Office tells them to support.

      Woe to the independently minded MLA or MP who votes against the Premier’s or prime Minister’s Office. This is why minority governments tend to be good because the Premier or P.M. must listen to non party supporters of the government.

      Thus the party must insure that the stupider candidate is nominated because a smarter or more independent candidate may vote against the government, as we saw with Trudeau’s Liberals an election ago,

      Over time, only duds run for office and only duds are elected and as we see provincially and federally, we have government by dud, rather stupid people who will support the government at any cost.

      Until we assure smart people run for office and not duds, Canada will eventually collapse under the the weight of combined political stupidity.

      The Metro Vancouver mayors are an extremely good example of government by “duds”.

      Like

      • This makes so much sense! The same can be said about the public service and large corporations, everyone toes the line under the leader even if it compromises their ethics.

        If we only promote sociopaths to the most powerful positions and everyone else is a sycophant, then we should not be surprised when sociopathic action is taken by governments and corporations.

        Things that make you go hmmmm….

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        • Sort of the same thing is happening with university graduates. Our universities have become politically correct degree mills, mainly for foreign students as many locals just do not make the grade for entrance.

          This causes many ills, including the fact many university grads can’t find jobs. Well government has taken care of that with the expanded bureaucracies in civic, provincial and federal governments.

          The bureaucracy today is loaded with people so incompetent that they cannot find a job in the real world. it is the “peter principle” gone wild.

          After years advocating for better, more user-friendly transit, i have been told by engineering staff (all UBC/SFU grads) at the city, provincial and federal levels the following:

          – Can’t use LRT on Arbutus because it is a different gauge.
          – Can’t double track Arbutus (which was previously double tracked.)
          – Driverless transit systems do not need employees, there for cheap to run (last year TransLink admitted that over 900 people work for the SkyTrain system)
          – LRT can’t turn corners (I almost fell on the floor with this one)
          – LRT can’t climb grades (in Lisbon, tams climb grades as steep as 13.8%)
          – LRT is too slow (industry standard speed is 90 KPH)
          – No one builds with LRT any more (This from the NDP in the late 90’s)
          – LRT is unproven (again another jaw dropping NDP quote from the late 90’s)

          Oh there is more, but the same crap, spewed by incompetent bureaucrats and quoted in the daily fish wrap, sways the public otherwise.

          Combine the gross incompetence by professionals in the bureaucracy, with the dud politicians and the outcome is easy to predict,

          To quote my late dad; “When you have idiots in charge, do not be surprised at the results.”

          Like

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