Category Archives: energía

Corporate Dems are not the same as Republicans when it comes to the environment

There is a tendency on the left to equate corporate Democrats and Republicans, and to say that they are all the same. In some regards, they do cater to the same interests and have the same foreign policy, but it is important to not overstate the case. One of the areas where I do see a real difference is in terms of the environment.

I don’t care for commentators on the left who seem to just be on team blue, which is what the Young Turks have become. However, I find myself increasingly at odds with the other extreme, which equates the corporate Dems and Republicans as being the same. One of the commentators who often makes this mistake is Kim Iversen. I appreciate Iversen, because she is independent in her thinking and willing to buck conventional wisdom, but she often opines on subjects where she doesn’t know much and that is clear in her recent YouTube video, where she says that there is no difference between carbon emissions between Democratic and Republican administrations.

Here is a comment that I posted in response to this video to set Iversen straight:
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Kim, There has been a major difference between the Democrats and Republicans in terms of energy policy, and just looking at total carbon emissions is a very poor way to capture that difference

First of all, roughly half of the US reduction in GHG emissions by the has been caused by the switch from coal to natural gas in electricity generation energy plants. However, those numbers are deceptive, because the majority of domestic oil and gas production now comes from fracking, and there is a lot of scientific debate about how much methane is leaking into the atmosphere from fracking. If more than 2.6% of natural gas leaks into the atmosphere, then it has a higher global warming potential over 100 years than coal, and many scientists believe that to be the case, so the official GHG emissions numbers are probably wrong.

The rest of the reduction in US GHG emissions have been caused by the rise of alternative energy and greater fuel efficiency, and that is mostly due to the activity of Democratic legislation and administrations, whereas the Republicans have generally resisted that. The CAFE fuel standards were mostly passed by Democrats in 1975, with the bill being cosponsored by 14 Democratic Senators. It was the Carter administration that turned fuel efficiency into a major issue, with measures such as the 1978 Gas Guzzlers Tax on particularly inefficient vehicle models. It was the Dems in California who jump started the US solar and wind turbine industry in the late 70s and early 80s, with their big subsidies for alternative energy. Carter put solar panels on the roof of the White House, whereas Reagan dismantled the panels, and fuel efficiency stalled under Reagan’s watch.

It was Bill Clinton’s USCAR ‘Clean Car’ research subsidy plan in Feb. 1993 which created hybrid car technology and got the heads of GM, Ford and Chrysler to come to Washington to promise to develop cars based on it. The Big Three reneged on their promises, but Toyota and Honda took USCAR’s hybrid tech to develop the Prius and Insight. It was the Dems in California who passed the bill requiring 2% of vehicles be zero emissions vehicles, which forced GM to make the EV1. Tesla was created because the founders of the company saw GM destroy the EV1. Tesla has literally pushed the entire auto industry to start making electric cars, but Tesla probably couldn’t have gotten the private capital investment in Dec 2008 that saved the company if investors hadn’t been looking at the guaranteed market caused by California’s zero emissions vehicle mandates which were passed by the Dems.

It was Bush’s 2005 bill which gutted environmental regulations on fracking, which helped create the fracking boom. That boom created a glut of natural gas, which lowered the price of gas and convinced energy utilities to switch from coal to gas. This had real benefits in terms of particulate and mercury emissions, but it is debatable if it really reduced total GHG emissions.

It was the Democratic majority that took control of congress in 2007 that passed the new CAFE standards and the $25 billion loan program to reduce vehicle emissions. Obama’s Dept. of Energy loaned $5.9 billion, $1.6 billion and $465 million to Ford, Nissan and Tesla in 2009-10. Without that money, it is unlikely that Nissan would have produced any Leafs in the US and it would have taken Tesla a lot longer to produce the Model S, which literally revolutionized the auto industry.

The Dems and Obama kept the Investment Tax Credit and Production Tax Credit alive for wind and solar energy, which made alternative energy viable in the early years. It was the Dems in 2015 that pushed through the bill that set a stable ITC and PTC for wind and solar throughout the Trump years. If they hadn’t done that, we would have seen a massive reduction in new wind and solar energy under Trump.

Trump’s anti-China trade war has massively hurt solar deployment in the US. Trump also gutted the Obama’s Clean Power Plan and his new rules to protect waterways which would have effectively ended mountaintop removal. It you compare Biden’s climate plan (https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/) to what Trump would do as president, there is no way that you can say that the Dems are the same as the Repubs. Even if Biden has a Republican-controlled Senate and can’t pass his proposed $400 billion climate plan, what he promises to do with executive orders is significant.

Trump displays his utter ignorance about wind energy

Donald Trump is the kind of guy who doesn’t even bother to do his homework before he gets up on stage to demonstrate his ignorance to the world. It would be funny if he wasn’t the person in charge of making public policy for the nation. Even worse is the fact that his followers don’t even seem to care if their dear leader knows anything or not.

Trump put his ignorance on full display in a recent speech in West Palm Beach, Florida, where he made a series of ludicrous statements about wind turbines:

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How the comment systems on YouTube and Facebook help propagate misinformation.

I get so depressed by the amount of deliberate misinformation that I encounter on the internet. Today I ran across this YouTube video spreading patently false propaganda about renewable energy:

The annoying thing about this sort of video is how effective it is. At the time when I watched it, this video had 1.57 million views and it had 63k likes compared to 19k dislikes. It was trending high enough that it popped up in my list of recommended videos, right after I watched some business news on YouTube. If this video is reaching a user like me who isn’t part of the right-wing news bubble on YouTube, then it is probably showing up in the recommended video lists of a lot of average YouTube users.

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Presentación en la USFA cerca de las causas y soluciones del cambio climático en Bolivia

Hoy he dado una presentación en la USFA de la Paz acerca de las causas y las soluciones del cambio climático en Bolivia. Aca son los los dispositivos:
PrediccionesYSolucionesCambioClimaticoUsfa2019-03-25

Muchos de los datos de este presentación vienen del borrador de mi libro:
La problemática de las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero en Bolivia

También, tengo un articulo acera de energía en Bolivia:
Bolivia invierte menos en energía renovable que otros países sudamericanos

 

Reflections on building my own solar panels

Over the last decade solar energy has gone from the hobby of oddball engineers and rich eccentrics to a viable way of generating energy for millions of people. Unfortunately, I live in Bolivia, a country where almost nobody uses solar electricity and it is difficult and expensive to import solar panels. Out of curiosity, I wondered whether I could get solar energy by building my own solar panels. I spent a couple weeks investigating how to make my own solar panels online and I would like to share what I found with anyone else who is thinking of building do-it-yourself (DIY) panels.

The idea of being able to generate my own carbon-free energy is very enticing. I live in a country where solar energy only comprises 0.25% of the national grid’s electrical capacity and bad public policy is currently deepening the country’s dependence on fossil fuels. Perhaps my desire to build a solar panel are born out of my sense of frustration at the powerless I feel to change the dirty development and environmentally-destructive policies being promulgated by the Bolivian government. I feel like I have to do something, however small it may be, to resist the relentless march toward the destruction of the planet and humanity’s role in that destruction. In this context, the idea of being able to build my own solar panels and participate in the democratization of energy is very empowering. Continue reading

Bolivia invierte menos en energía renovable que otros países sudamericanos

Bolivia ha invertido menos en las energías renovables que los otros países sudamericanos en la última década, a pesar de que el articulo 379 de la constitución boliviana especifica que “el Estado desarrollará y promoverá la investigación y el uso de nuevas formas de producción de energías alternativas, compatibles con la conservación del ambiente.”

La gran mayoría de la electricidad de Bolivia viene de la quema de gas natural en termoeléctricas y este porcentaje ha crecido rápidamente durante la administración del MAS. La capacidad de las termoeléctricas bolivianas ha crecido de 958.39 megavatios al final del año 2006 a aproximadamente 1999 megavatios al final del 2016 (todavía no tenemos datos oficiales del Ministerio de Energía para el año pasado).  La administración del MAS sólo ha agregado 13 MW de energía solar, 27 MW de energía eólica,  60 MW de bioenergía y 12 MW de energía hidroeléctrica en la última década. En total, 112 MW de energía renovable fueron agradados en comparación a 1040 MW de energía sucia de combustibles fósiles. Continue reading

Questioning the rosy predictions about the transition to autonomous electric vehicles

The Stanford economist Tony Seba and tech investor James Arbib just released a report entitled “Rethinking Transportation,” which makes an number of predictions about the impact that autonomous electric vehicles will have on the demand for vehicles and petroleum. Many of these predictions are based on faulty assumptions about human behavior and a misunderstanding of the auto supply chain.
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La problemática de las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero en Bolivia

Estoy escribiendo un libro con el titulo preliminar “La problemática de las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero en Bolivia”, que presenta datos acerca del las emisiones de Bolivia y la pólitica del Estado. El borrador del libro esta disponible para descargar:
ProblematicaGEIBolivia.odt (para editar en OpenOffice/LibreOffice)
ProblematicaGEIBolivia.pdf (para leer en Adobe Acrobat)

Gracias por cualquier tipo de comentario u observación acerca del libro.

The Mexican gasolinazo prefigures the future of Bolivia

Recent news is filled with the protests over the Mexican gasolinazo. The Bolivian newspapers have a few brief headlines about the Mexican crisis, and these articles often draw reference to the gasolinazo experienced by Bolivia a couple years ago. However, there seems to be little recognition within Bolivia that its future will be dominated by gasolinazos which are far worse than the current one in Mexico.

In Bolivia, gasoline and diesel is sold at a price of 3.7 bolivianos per liter, whereas it costs between 8 and 10 bolivianos per liter outside the country, meaning that 50% to 60% of the price is subsidized. Over the last decade, and the percent of Bolivian electricity coming from burning fossil fuels has risen from 60% to 78%, because the government mandates that thermoelectric plants can buy a thousand cubic feet of natural gas at a subsidized price of $1.90, whereas Bolivia exports that same gas at a price of between $5 and $10. In 2014, Bolivia spent over $800 million of its annual budget subsidizing fossil fuels, which is much more than Mexico per capita, when you consider that the population of Mexico is 10 times bigger. If you look at the difference between the price of fuels inside Bolivia and the price of the fuels that Bolivia exports, I calculate that Bolivia lost $3.4 billion in 2014 due to the subsidies. These amounts have dropped in recent years due to the falling prices of oil and gas in international markets, but the recent rises in prices indicates that Bolivia will probably have to spend as much on subsidized fuel in the future as it did in 2014.

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Declaración contra la fractura hidráulica (fracking) en Bolivia

Esta declaración en contra de fracking en bolivia contiene algunos números que he calculado:


La fractura hidráulica o “fracking” en inglés es una técnica de extracción hidrocarburífera altamente riesgosa y contaminante, que consiste en inyectar agua y químicos a alta presión para fracturar la roca de esquisto y permitir extraer el gas natural atrapado en las formaciones de roca.

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James Hansen’s proposals to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Dr. James Hansen gave a speech entitled “Combating the Climate Crisis: The Path from Science to Action” at MIT on April 15, 2014, about what needs to be done to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid dangerous climate change.

I have been an avid reader of Hansen’s work over the last 5 years ever since he published Storms of my Grandchildren. He is a much better writer than public speaker. Watching him stumble through this speech, you would never guess how clear and well-argued his scientific papers are. He really needs others to amplify his idea in the public sphere, because his message is so important if we are going to save the planet.
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96 años más hasta el fin de la humanidad

Entre el 2000 y el 2012, las emisiones mundiales de combustibles fósiles y la fabricación de cemento han crecido el 3,0% por año.1 Lastimosamente, muchas predicciones de los modelos climáticos son basadas en una tasa de crecimiento entre el 1,0% y el 1,5%,2 porque la tasa anual fue un 1,5% entre el 1973 y el 1999.1 En la última decada, países en desarrollo, especialmente China y India, han crecido sus emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero. Desde el año 2006, paises en desarrollo ha emitido más que los paises desarrollados,2 y se predice que mundo en desarollo emitirá un 70% más que los paises desarrollados en el 2030.3 Bolivia está haciendo su parte para producir más hidrocarburos y calentar el clima.  La producción de petróleo en Bolivia ha subido un 3,7% por año entre el 2000 y el 2013, y  la producción de gas natural ha subido un 15,3% por año entre el 2000 y el 2012.4

La cuestión es ¿por cuánto tiempo más podemos seguir sacando hidrocarburos del suelo y quemándolos? Continue reading