Pollution, Climate Change and India’s Choice Between Policy and Pretense

Image result for pollution indiaDean Spears, one of the authors of Where India Goes has a new book on air pollution in India, Air. When I reviewed Where India Goes in 2017 I said it was the best social science book I had read in years. Spears is able to accurately explain academic work–much of it his own and with co-authors–in accessible language and to combine that with on-the-ground reporting to produce a book that is both informative and full of human interest. He brings the same skills to Air.

As Spears shows, pollution is killing Indians, especially babies, and those it doesn’t kill it harms as seen in statistics on stunting and respiratory disease. Spears isn’t naive, however, he knows that manufacturing is also bringing tremendous benefits. The issue, however, is that a lot of pollution in India comes from relatively low value activities like burning crops. Moreover, solar power in India is cost competitive with coal today, even before taking into account health benefits. Thus, the harms of pollution are tragic because they are unnecessary.

If the costs of pollution exceed the benefits why isn’t something being done? One of the things I like about Air is that it is clear that pollution in India is both a market failure and a government failure. The government has been slow to respond to pollution because much of the public remains unaware of pollution’s true cost and much of the true cost is born by children and future people who have no vote. In the meantime, the government enhances rational ignorance by refusing to fund even the most basic equipment to measure where and when pollution ebbs and flows. Instead the government engages in virtue-politics by banning plastic bags and creating odd-even restrictions on driving in Delhi. These activities are pointless, even counter-productive, but they are well publicized and the appearance of doing something matters more than reality.

Here’s one brilliant bit:

Just next to the Raebareli coal plant is a solar power plant. The solar plant is, in principle, capable of generating 10 MW. That capacity is 1 per cent of the 1000 MW capacity of the immediately neighbouring coal plant (which had another few hundred megawatts under construction when I talked with Gaurav).

I visited the solar plant on Independence Day. The ground around the solar panels was flooded with August rain. A shoe destroying walk through the mud and water brought me to the control room in a small building. There, a cheerful young engineer from Bengaluru watched a bank of computer screens. A TV monitor reviewed a list of fifteen highlights of the Prime Minister’s holiday speech that morning. The control room was set up in a museum-like display. The apparent goal was to impress visitors with modern renewable energy and with colourful displays of General Electric–branded software. The young engineer was excited to show me the screens. He clearly wanted the message to be good.

It was not good. That cloudy day, most of the dots were red, not green. The screens reported that the solar plant was generating 60 kW. The engineer assured me that one day it had gotten up to 7500 kW. A megawatt is 1000 kilowatts. So, at 0.06 MW, the solar plant was producing less than 1 per cent of the 10 MW that the signboard at the entrance promised, which would have been 1 per cent of the coal plant.

It is not surprising that a solar plant does not generate much electricity if it is built beneath the smoke of a coal plant with 100 times the capacity. Ordinarily, one places solar plants in the path of direct sunlight. This one was placed in the path of visitors.

Addendum: Case in point. India today bans e-cigarettes because of health risks!


Climate Change Is Just Two Other Words For Socialism.

Climate Change Is Just Two Other Words For Science.

Science makes falsifiable predictions.

Ok, less pollution means more high paying jobs in growing industry and improved welfare.

Does West Virginia, based on extreme coal pollution, and great harm to the land and human life, falsify that prediction, as Trump believes?

Note, GM is closing autoplants based on the failure of Trumps ideology.

Tesla has not only taken a failed GM plant and invested much more in it and hired far more workers, Tesla has annexed a corner of Nevada and created homelessness by building a massive annex to the failed NUMMI plant to produce power and drive trains for vehicles in high volumes drawing in lots of people in excess of housing supply.

Which model is most desirable? Trump's West Virginia? The leftist wacko green Califfornia? Living costs are really really low in West Virginia.

Oddly, Trump hasn't built any resorts in West Virginia for his people: old white people. The third whitest State, after Maine and Vermont.

Yet Trump claims coal makes people rich, the kind of people he wants as customers.

"The leftist wacko green Califfornia? "

Clearly you meant Cliffofornia.

A confirming example (which you describe) cannot falsify a prediction.

The problem is that climate models mostly cannot be falsified until decades later - see the global cooling scare of the 80's. And then the scientists say "Oops, but we have better models now, trust us. And act on those models' predictions."

What would have happened if we had listened in the 80's, and tried to warm up Earth?

Some actual science on global warming would be a refreshing change.

THANK YOU. I swear if one more idiot liberal (oxymoron) tells me the planet is getting warmer I'm going to bring them up to my ranch in mid February and leave them in their bathing suit.


There's nothing about Climate change that leads to socialist policies. However a lot of the people pushing "fixes" and making un-scientific proclamations of doom lean to the Left and so that's what you continuously hear about.

Solar power and wind power are already cost effective, Power storage is rapidly becoming cost effective. Within a few years, the US will be using a mix of energy sources that's cheap and doesn't produce much CO2. And it won't be dependent on any wealth transfers.

The proclamations of doom are the results of science and observation. Coral reefs dying, toxic algae blooms, acidification of the oceans, hurricanes slower and more destructive. The list goes on.

We have a set of fixes, no scare quotes necessary. Most are contained in the GND proposals. For all the hate she gets, AOC is the reason we’re all talking about it. Anyways, the fixes below:

- Investment in renewable energy, with goal of decarbonization by 2030
- Electrification of transportation, to include infrastructure
- Immediate “keep it in the ground” policy towards all national fossils fuels
- Solar panels on all new construction
- Job guarantee to protect former fossil fuel industry workers
- Rebuild electric grid, but make it “smart”

We have the fixes, if we have the will.

No, it’s a deeply unserious political manifesto by people who are neither technical or numerate enough to understand the current or the proposed future system.

And as AOC’s chief of staff (who wrote it) admitted, thr GND is primarily a tool to force their preferred political changes through under the aegis of an existential emergency.

I wouldn’t sign onto the entire thing either. But the remedies are still there.

The best time to start was 40 years ago. The next best time is now.

There is never a good time to start a bad plan.

It’s never a bad time to build out solar and wind energy production. And it’s never a bad time to fully invest in energy storage R&D.

Climate change is upon us. We can either work to mitigate its effects or throw our hands in the air.

Hi mouse!

The major problem is these imbeciles vote.

Slower and more destructive hurricanes is not well established science and don't need what is in the Green New Deal, you need a CO2 tax and a payout for removal of CO2 from the air. Enhanced weathering looks like the best bet to me.

"The proclamations of doom are the results of science and observation. "

No, that's bullshit. Science involves creating a testifiable hypothesis and validating/invalidating it according to the results of the test.

"An Associated Press headline from 1989 read "Rising seas could obliterate nations: U.N. officials." The article detailed a U.N. environmental official warning that entire nations would be eliminated if the world failed to reverse warming by 2000."

"Ocasio-Cortez: 'World will end in 12 years' if climate change not addressed"

"50 million climate refugees will be produced by climate change by the year 2010. Especially hard hit will be river delta areas, and low lying islands in the Caribbean and Pacific. The UN 62nd General assembly in July 2008 said: …it had been estimated that there would be between 50 million and 200 million environmental migrants by 2010."

"1988 — It was predicted that the Maldives would be under water by last year {2018}

"2008 — Gore said the Arctic would be free of ice by 2013."

"2009 — Charles said there was just 96 months left to save the world.".

From THE expert on non-linear climate models - AOSs (atmospheric oceanic simulation models).

Title: Irreducible Imprecision in Atmospheric Oceanic Simulation Models

Author: James C. McWilliams


It’s not too late to escape from the maze and repent.


Climate change isn't a Religion and I don't need to repent for my apostasy.

I'll stick with the actual observed science.

You’re untethered to science. Your science is Fox News. Every scientific outlet or Journal says you’re wrong.

Living in the maze. Boof!

Hi mouse.

Do you get these talking points from your Russian handlers?

Hoax by Jynah!

Coal is dirty. In fact, it produces more radiation than a nuclear plant because the coal itself contains radioactive elements that end up on the atmosphere. Don't breath deeply.

Solar is great and should be added to the power mix, but it doesn't have the power density of other sources, even if it was capable of producing power 24x7. It uses to much valuable land to produce to little power.

Yet we keep supporting India's savage regime...

Hmmm. You mean as opposed to US' "gentle" regime. 100,000+ dead in Iraq over oh-so-dangerous WMD (that were never found). Many more dead in Afghanistan. I'm talking about women and children. So true.

Don't make comments you can't substantiate.

Don't slap my sockpuppet like that, you communist shill!

I think that is fhe impersonator.

The mask of the America-hating Satanist is off. Yet we keep supporting India's savage regime.

Care to provide facts or just wild assertions?

From a geo political standpoint, India is vital to US interests. I could argue interests of most other democracies as well.

The US needs an economic and military counter balance to China. It therefore has a choice to either support Pakistan or Afghanistan or it could throw its weight behind India. Afghanistan and Pakistan are failed regimes. Pakistan in particular has taken the US for a ride for a very long time. India by contrast is a democracy with open markets and elections. Consequently many multinationals consider India to be a very important market.

So sure you can claim what you want but by most measures, India is far and away a more stable country with free markets for multinationals. It certainly has its issues around ill treatment of certain minorities. BUT the economic growth is incredible, markets are open and elections are democratic. For an ally that's pretty darned good.

"The US needs an economic and military counter balance to China."
It is for sure it is not Satanist India. Let us remember, that much like Red China, India persecutes Chistians and Muslims. And India is a basket case, which only makes the Chinese model more attractive by comparison.

"So sure you can claim what you want but by most measures, India is far and away a more stable country with free markets for multinationals."

American companies love Red China, too. Not being an Indian, I think moral values are more important than money.

Red China? Satanist India? Zero facts. Just racist garbage.

If there is a moderator on this forum can I request them to please kick this guy off the forum? It is polluting the forum.

Isn't it funny how Satanists always want to silence dissent?!

It would be nice to have garbage comments silenced. Because they add no value and reduce the quality of discourse on this forum.

But of course that's not why you are here. I understand. Go ahead and keep spewing Gary. Good luck with that approach.

It’s pretty typical for solar facilities to generate (even with noontime sun) a small, often tiny, fraction of the output from a coal, gas, or nuclear plant. But lots of press releases. And of corse at night ...

But that’s not in any way unique to India.

To support your comment, Apple planned to build a 2900 acre, 280 MW (or so they said) solar farm on rural land to power their company. Consider all the down time - every night, rainy days, cloudy days, etc.

In contrast, two ~1150 MW nuclear reactors on 960 acres at Diablo Canyon produces %8.6 of all electricity for 39 million Californians. That output constitutes 23% of all of California's carbon free electricity. The plants have operated at ~87% capacity for 34 and 33 years.

Simple back of the envelope calculations tell the story.

Only the innumerate, true believers, or the cynical beneficiaries buy the solar story.

Wind is worse - there are a finite number of suitable locations for wind and downtime and maintenance are expensive. The wind doesn't always blow.

The Apple solar farm proposal in 2015:


"Wind is worse - there are a finite number of suitable locations for wind and downtime and maintenance are expensive. The wind doesn't always blow."

That's technically true, but pretty irrelevant. The primary constraint is height above the ground. The taller the mount, the higher the average wind speed. Modern wind turbines have a much higher capacity factor than solar power. At the 140 Meter height range, much of the US can produce wind with a 35% capacity factor. Which is why wind turbine heights and size have been growing every year.

"The engineer assured me that one day it had gotten up to 7500 kW. A megawatt is 1000 kilowatts. So, at 0.06 MW, the solar plant was producing less than 1 per cent of the 10 MW"

7500 KW = 7.5 MW = 75% of rated output.

Oops. Sorry. Misread the meaning here.

Of course particulate emissions pollution - as characterized by the photo - used to be a problem in the US. Almost entirely eliminated now with scrubbers, even when burning coal.

People tend to use the visuals from particulate pollution to sell policies to reduce invisible CO2.

People also tend to use the visuals of clouds of water droplets from cooling towers to sell policies to reduce invisible CO2. Because one lie is as good as another, eh?

Fap fap fap fap fap...

Solar is stupid, even in India. It can’t be stored so no it isn’t competitive with coal, even if placed in a better location than the example above.

India will do better when the renewable energy delusion stops and practical alternatives, such as cleaner coal, natural gas, and nuclear power, are pursued.

I’d say solar has a place, but it’s not the whole answer. India needs a lot more power, in a lot of places.

Solar can provide competitive incremental power during daytime. Large scale facilities are best for this.

There are also opportunities for small scale systems that don’t demand 24 hour power, for example to pump water for agriculture during the day, or to pump to fill a village water tower.

But this doesn’t address the need for robust, reliable, and 24/365 available power for large urban populations and industrial uses.

Solar can provide power for peak day time air conditioning without any power storage. That's a tremendous amount of power demand. So, it has its place.

Should it dismantle its hydropower facilities too?

Hydro has storage. It's the lack of storage that makes solar less than fully useful.

All energy, including solar, can be stored with batteries. Go look at what Tesla did with their mega-battery in Australia which was a resounding success.


Alas, when Tabarrok uses the term "government failure" he actually means "democratic government failure". My questions for Tabarrok and Cowen: Have they given up on the possibility of reforming democratic government? Have they resigned themselves to authoritarian government as the only solution to the complexities of governing today? The advantage of Tabarrok and Cowen is that they have traveled the world, in particular to the places where governing is the most difficult while most of us have not. If it's difficult to govern in a democracy in a place like U.S., it's impossible in places like India. I have not gotten over Cowen's collaboration with Ian Bremmer to inform young people what tomorrow will be like, and what courses of study and careers they should pursue to prepare for it. Is Cowen a bigger pessimist than Caplan? Is Tabarrok a bigger pessimist than Caplan (or Cowen)? I don't know either Cowen or Tabarrok, but Cowen strikes me is a just the facts type of guy, while Tabarrok strikes me as the optimist. I have not forgotten Tabarrok's haircut by some random guy in India.

pollution’s true cost and much of the true cost is born by children and future people who have no vote

What are "future people" and if they are not people yet , and exist only in an idealized , latent form, how can they bear the cost of anything? Are these future people the opposite of zombies ("former people")? Also, "borne".

Children are future citizens/voters.

If you think a bit about organic chemicals in groundwater or nuclear waste disposal, the concept of "future people" is not that weird. That sh*t is going to be dangerous for thousands of years.

And well, one of the differences between societies in developed and emergent economies is the ability to think and plan for the long-term.

You can cut the cost to future people by a large programme of abortion. How odd that the Greenies don't advocate this. Or do they?

Well the brutal forced abortion monstrosity known as the One Child Policy was primarily the work of Song Jian. He in turn credits the Club of Rome's "The Limits of Growth" which was one of the seminal works of environmentalism in the 70s.

In terms of advocacy, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and World Wildlife Federation have all put their support on abortion access.

Bernie Sanders just explicitly endorsed abortions as a means of ensuring that the poor have fewer babies in order to combat climate change.

If I dredge back further, this sort of thing was all the rage. There has long been a belief that the world should be preserved in some pristine state that wealthy [white] people can enjoy it and everyone else should have fewer kids to facilitate that enjoyment.

I think we should cut future versions of @dearieme. That would certainly improve the quality of people and discourse in the world.

The early US progressivist movement, led by luminaries such as Woodrow Wilson and Margaret Sanger, advocated abortion based on eugenics and racism.

I'd rather have the world preserved in a pristine state -- because besides rich white people, all the people of the Earth could enjoy it.

Wikipedia points out that "It took over 200,000 years of human history for the world's human population to reach 1 billion; and only 100 years more to reach 7 billion." What has taken place with population growth over the past 100 years has been criminal.

It's time to slow the growth down in Africa, which is the main place where people are averaging way above replacement level in population.

We need to stabilize and slowly reduce world population as well as US population. Fewer people, fewer worries.

"The solar plant is, in principle, capable of generating 10 MW. " --AlexT

...using the theoretical ("in principle") efficiency of solar plants is an obvious dodge here -- what's important is the actual efficiency of solar versus alternative energy sources.

In general, solar plants have an actual energy efficiency of only ~12%.
(coal plants are about 40%)

There are two different factors that come into play here. The conversion efficiency of the solar cells themselves (roughly 15-20%) and the Capacity Factor (10-25%). For the most part the efficiency of the solar cells is baked into the cost and, as you indicate, that's not particularly relevant.'

The Capacity Factor is the difference between what a power plant could make if it was always running versus what it actually produces. Large scale coal plants have a capacity factor of over 60%, furthermore, you can largely control when they produce power. If you build 3 plants with 150% of the power you need and rotate the down time, you can produce the power you need. This is how the traditional power grid that's been operating in the entire developed world for the last 80+ years has worked.

Quite obviously, solar plants themselves can never hit a very high capacity factor because sunlight isn't steady. Most areas will get peak sunlight for 4-5 hours per day, desert areas are likely in the 8-9 hour range. Out of that you have to subtract any cloudy/hazy periods that coincide with the peak hours.

It's worse than that. The capacity factor for coal is that low primarily because of required maintenance, which can be moved around so that three plants with 150% of the required power will actually cover it.

The capacity factor for solar is because of the sun and weather (as well as maintenance - panel cleaning etc) and that can't be moved around - if it's cloudy, then it's cloudy for all. So solar cannot cover base load, and until we get better storage technology, it cannot cover peak load (early evening) either.

"Moreover, solar power in India is cost competitive with coal today"

That's a misunderstanding of the economics of solar power. Most of the time solar won't produce much power. Peak power is 4 to 5 hours a day in most locations. However you still have to provide power for the other 19-20 hours of the day.

To correct that you have to either shift the solar power (power storage) or have a supplemental plant that ramps up when the solar ramps down (usually natural gas). Power storage is expensive, and solar supplied power storage is not cost competitive Coal. Furthermore, coal can't efficiently ramp up and down. It depends on boilers running at peak efficiency to be effective.

The rude plebes may call that misunderstanding a "lie". The frequency of such misunderstandings with regard to green tech really undermines its public image.

Britain went through a period of crippling particulate emissions during its own industrial revolution. Water pollution reached catastrophic levels (the Great Stink). I'm not sure that the machinery of governance there was any better than India's is now. Long-term, growth will solve the problem, but that's little comfort for the people suffering now.

So, during the Great Smog of 1952 London was as poor as India. The people of London raised from poverty due to economic growth and now they have cleaner air, right?

In 1952, the U.K. had a GDP per capita of $11,000 but London would have been higher. India's GDP per capita is $7,000.

I didn't knew the numbers but being capital of the British Empire and financial center for a few centuries should count for something in income and development. Anyway, all this growth was not enough to avoid a few thousand people dying in a few days.

Something else was needed.....public indignation, policy? Money helps, but is not magic.

I like how this article lets you know that solar power is a PR fraud that sucks at actually generating electricity.... but STILL manages to blame this fact on coal. Impressive stuff.

India is a fraud that sucks.

Dear @Arthur Wellington III - I certainly hope that Messrs Wellington I and II were cut from a better cloth than the garbage you spew.

It's best to say that people who make such claims are frauds. Or afraid of facts. And science. Poor Arthur.

My point is, the Indian regime is savage and we should not be supporting it.

How is it savage? Remember my measure is that of the US (Iraq, Afghanistan). Germany (Jews). UK (Rhodesia, South Africa). Russia. China.

But do go on.

The point is, Indians are uncapable of any neasure of self-government. They are too primitive for that. They can not understand civilized moral values.

The word is "incapable" and not "uncapable". And the word is "measure" and not "neasure".

Self government: When measured by voter turnout, India is the largest democracy in the world. It also has one of the highest voter turnouts anywhere. in the election held earlier this year, voter turnout was 67%. By contrast the US was 56%. The Election Commission in India has *far* greater independence to enforce electoral laws and mandates when compared with the US. Even in the recent election, they enforced laws against a wildly popular candidate (who was re-elected Prime Minister). There were ZERO reported incidents of election tampering. Press is free. People come and go as they please. It is fully a free and open country. Multinationals invest heavily in India for software, manufacturing and sell into local markets.

By contrast the US, with current administration and Senate, has proven to be incapable of self government. There are hundreds of examples where simple laws cannot be enforced. And despite repeated proofs by the CIA, the country is doing nothing about election tampering.

It is best to argue with facts. Otherwise you are ruining the quality of discourse on this forum. Maybe you don't care, but others who come to this site do. Stop posting random comments that add no value to anyone.

I do not know which kind of keyboard they use India (most indians can not read anyway), but, in the West, the key "i" is close to the key "u" and the key "m" is close to the key "n".

Let us be blunt: Indian history is the history of a painful failure. Indians have nothing like religious freddom, press freedom or democracy. Villagers live under the yoke imposed by their masters.

Oh okay okay then your misspellings are fine. So sorry that the keyboard was at fault and not you.

"Indian history is the history of a painful failure." Sure thing. The Christian crusades were a resounding success in your mind I am sure. Germany's extermination of Jews was another hugely successful social experiment no doubt in your mind.

"Religious freddom". It's spelled freedom. Not Freddom. Go ahead and tell me about that this too is the fault of the keyboard.

85% of the people in India are Hindu. 17% follow Islamic faith. The rest are Christian, Buddhist etc. Lets look at the US: 77% are Christian, 18% are atheist and rest follow Islam, Hinduism etc.

By this measure the US is FAR MORE restrictive to other religions than India. But those are facts and facts appear to elude you.

I won't respond to the "Villagers live under the yoke..." comment because it is not worthy of a response.

I suggest that you open your mind and read a bit. Go to the facts. Instead of wallowing in small minded commentary on a blog and polluting the discussion for everyone else.

"85% of the people in India are Hindu. 17% follow Islamic faith. The rest are Christian, Buddhist etc"

I see 102% of the people is either Muslim or Hinduist. Let us be blunt: India's regime hunts down Christians and Muslims while Hinduists (Satanists) are weel-treated in the USA.

Arthur is actually Thiago, our amusing fake Brazilian.

He's toying with you.

Is this post in celebration of

Trump's challenge to

California auto emission rules?

According to famous analyst Mr. Steven A. Cook, the future of America's control of Middle East' resources is at peril in face of Iranian aggression. It can mean the end of America' post-WW II hegemony.


It is terrifying this issue doesn't get more attention. There is so much at stake. Seems our freedom's up against the ropes. Does the crowd understand? Is it East versus West or man against man? Can any nation stand alone?

Plucky Brazil?

If necessary. As the old Salazarist motto goes: "Proudly alone".

You quote a Survivor song from "Rocky IV" and totally redeem yourself. Well played.

Of course, this does further prove that you are in Dayton, OH and not Brazil.

In a 6 Feb 2019 International Energy Association commentary entitled "Is exponential growth of solar PV the obvious conclusion?" analyst Brent Wanner compares and contrasts the levelised costs of electricity (LCOE) with a newer metric, the value-adjusted LCOE (VALCOE) that takes into account additional value factors including energy, flexibility, and capability for both coal and solar in India. Using VALCOE, Indian solar never comes close to matching coal:

"In India for example, the LCOE of new solar PV is projected to drop below that of coal-fired power plants by 2025. But the story is different using VALCOE. As the share of solar PV surpasses 10% in 2030, the value of daytime production drops and the value of flexibility increases. After 2030, even with further cost reductions, solar PV becomes less competitive."

The charts are worth looking at.


"As the share of solar PV surpasses 10% in 2030, the value of daytime production drops and the value of flexibility increases."

+1, most of the value is in shaving off peak air conditioning loads. Beyond that point you have to implement some kind of power storage, which significantly increases the costs.

FYI, the number that is usually used for dropping effectiveness is 20% of grid supplied power. 10% seems a little low, but the concept still stands. At some point, you have to introduce economic power storage.

The good news is that the cost of power storage is also dropping.

@RIPM +1, for a number of good comments

I’m less optimistic about near to medium term grid scale power storage, however. Most of the implementations appear tiny to small capacity, and that capacity is usually provided for only 4 hours.

Although there are a number of irons in the fire, I’m not aware of a clear technical, let alone economic, solution. Do you have a grid scale candidate in mind?

"Do you have a grid scale candidate in mind?"

I suspect, if the radicals from both sides can be kept at bay, we'll end up with a hybrid system.

I used to lean towards pumped hydro, but the rapid drop in battery costs have me leaning that way now.

What I would imagine is, with respect to the power grid, solar and wind backed up by a substantial amount of battery storage (6 hours worth or some such). Wind and solar alone when combined over large areas should give you roughly an effective 30% capacity factor. Six hours of battery capacity is going to push that up to near 50%.

That number would likely hit 100% for some weeks, but then you'll inevitably hit weeks with no appreciable sun or wind.

On top of that 50%, the US will have roughly 5% Hydro and 15% nuclear. The additional 30% will come from natural gas. And of course natural gas will be the peaking power source to handle the periods with no appreciable sun/wind.

Also, I would love to see new hydropower construction have access to the same subsidies as solar/wind and an expedited Federal environmental permitting process. It would be quite beneficial to build out some hydro plants that the combined value of electricity production and energy storage is a net positive. Under the current system the value of hydro energy storage is largely ignored, since there is no straight forward mechanism for recovering that value.


one would think GMU economists would be extremely interested in
these detailed economic facts about the realities of solar power generation, but no. You must only understand that renewable energy is always good and fossil fuel energy is always bad.

I read *Where India Goes* based on your recommendation. Found it dry and exceedingly repetitive. Don't understand how it could be "the best social science book you'd read in years"!!

"Found it dry and exceedingly repetitive."

Tyler speed reads/ skims books. That probably minimizes the effects of repetitive. And he's an economist, so that covers dry. ;)

Wind and solar generator capacity is generally reported as peak capacity; that is the maximum power that can be generated under peak conditions. The capacity factor captures the ratio of actual generation over a long duration divided by peak capacity. Capacity factors for solar cells are 10-25%, 25% for wind, 40% for hydroelectric, 70% for coal, and 90% for nuclear. That captures sun, wind, and rain variability, together with maintenance downtime. It does not capture whether the power is usable or not, which can depend on when it is generated. To fully utilize the 25% load capacity of your wind or solar installation, it needs to be tied to a storage device that can match supply to demand by storing electricity.

So when comparing solar and wind to hydrocarbons and nuclear, you have to multiply the cost per peak MW by 3-5, and add the cost of a storage device. This is why nuclear is so important if we are to reach a future with low carbon electricity generation.

'40% for hydroelectric, 70% for coal, and 90% for nuclear'

Would love to see the link actually demonstrating those numbers, which seem ridiculous, to be honest.

Here's the USEIA. Google for more sources.

Thanks. SOo, how does this enter into the reliability stzatistics? 'Upgrades designed to last 20 years were made to the reactor units in 2009 and 2010; however, both reactors were shut down in January 2012 after premature wear was found on more than 3,000 tubes in replacement steam generators that had been installed in 2010 and 2011.'

But this demonstrates that nuclear really is amazing - 'Year 2018 January 100.7%'. That's right, according to the EIA data, 100% percent is not the limit for nuclear power.

It’s probably compared to “nameplate” power, i.e. the design spec maximum. Its not surprising that actual output might be very slightly higher.

You're complaint is that nuclear did slightly better than the nameplate capacity?

+1, exceeding nameplate capacity by less than 1% is trivial.

Have you never watched Hunt for Red October? Going above 100% is not only possible but routine.

Safety is only a minor concern because you can both SCRAM the reactor and also rely on a negative power coefficient.

100% is the recommended maximum power level to obtain the longest effective lifetime of the core. It is not a physical limit of power.

Operating above 100% increases the temperature of the moderator, decreasing its effectiveness and increasing reactor poison.

With Nuclear at $6-8/watt and solar $3/watt, the naive might conclude that solar is now competitive. But with capacity factors taken into account and the cost of storage (quite high) added in, nuclear remains cheaper. We should be aggressively supporting research into next generation nuclear, even as we continue to research better solar and storage options.

Nuclear is a red herring. They bleed billions of dollars just to shut them down. Never ending disaster.

Wind. Solar. That’s the future.

If you actually consider climate change an existential threat, that’s the wrong technical answer.

And given the GND trillions spending plans kicked around, cost optimization can’t really be much of a consideration. Particularly since the US only contributes about 15% of global CO2 emissions.

Of course if opposition to nuclear power is a religious tenant, that’s another issue.

Can you name a successful nuclear project from the last 30 years ?

Nuclear is a red herring to shut the conversation down. Vox has a great piece on this.



Nobody has started a nuclear project in the last 30 years, in part because the Boomers and their celebrity friends decided that "No Nukes" was the height of wisdom in the 1980s, which got a lot of coal power plants built instead. Every nuclear reactor out there is a first generation design. Designs have been developed in the last 30 years that are inherently safer, and should be cheaper to build and run. If we care about climate change, there should be a few billions put behind those ideas to see if they will flourish.
Those who think solar power and paper straws are going to solve the problem of climate change without doing some things that will make them uncomfortable are just as delusional as Trump and the climate change deniers.

"Every nuclear reactor out there is a first generation design. "

Normally the early prototypes in the 40's & 50's are considered First Gen. All the power plants built from 1965+ are considered Second Gen.

But it doesn't change you overall point, which is correct.

"If you actually consider climate change an existential threat, that’s the wrong technical answer."

I've always considered that the Red Flag of the Climate Warming debate. If you genuinely thought that Climate change was a existential threat, then you'd be pushing for an immediate build out of nuclear power. France went from 0 to 70% nuclear within a 25 year time span.

If you don’t support jailing employers who hire migrant labor, you don’t actually care about undocumented migration.

We have these so called red flags as well, and they’re not conducive to well intentioned and vigorous debate. It’s a gotcha. See the Vox articles I linked.

The fact is that nuclear power does not work in the US. Diablo Valley anyone? Private companies would be insane to build out nuclear power. There’s nowhere to store the waste and it’s prone to the vagaries of local government and opposition.

Nuclear is the solution, but only in a vacuum.

So clearly you don't believe Climate Change is an existential threat.

And I do support jailing employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants.

That's a straw man. EVERYONE who opposes illegal immigration would love to see the employers punished.

First, you leftists never bother to follow up on who is and isnt prosecuted. You run with the instantaneous arrests of illegals and make unsupported claims that no managers were arrested.

Second, proving that someone illegally hired an illegal immigrant is an order of magnitude harder than proving a worker is illegal. The prosecutor must prove that the employer KNEW the employee was illegal. If the employee provides fake ID, as most of them do, it is almost impossible to meet the burden of proof on management.

A warrant to arrest suspected illegals doesn't always cover the records necessary to prove employer culpability.

The fact is, you leftists are 100% ignorant of what actually happens in an immigration raid. You rely on superficial facts to feed your propaganda.

I wish it were true that everybody who theoretically opposed illegal immigration wants employers arrested. I think there are a lot of people who claim to be against illegal immigration who take advantage of cheap labor for things like construction, child care, cleaning services and other things. A lot of times they hire an outside company to do work so they aren't directly connected to the illegal hiring but they must know or highly suspect that illegal labor is being used.

People are cheap -- for one thing, after so many years now of the availability of cheap immigrant labor people look at low prices for common services as an entitlement. I think if we used a magic wand tomorrow to legalize the illegal immigrants and increase minimum wage to $15 we'd see a huge surge in demand for new sources of cheap immigrant labor, don't you?

People need to be retrained to understand and accept what their income allows them to afford while at the same time using legal and decently paid American labor

The World Bank shows that 2.5PM (Particulate Matter) in India has declined from 98 in 2011 to 90 in 2012 but flat to 2017.

China's 2.5PM has steadily dropped from 70 in 2011 to 53 in 2017.

Japan's 2.5PM has steadily dropped from 14 in 2011 to 12 in 2017.

The world average of 2.5PM has fallen from 51 in 2011 to 45 in 2017.


The issue does not seem to be the government being unaware of the problem - Funds have been allocated for machines to get rid of strawy without burning and laws banning burning. The catch, as usual seems to be implementation - machines reaching the ground and resistance from farmer groups.



That said, bringing more focus to this urgent issue is a very good thing.

Also, addressing other causes of pollution like putting scrubbers on coal plants(and properly covering ash on trucks as the author notes in the book) should become an important priority.

"relatively low value activities like burning crops"

Interestingly, India is expanding the use of crop residue as a biomass fuel being co-fired in her coal plants:

"India’s largest power producer, NTPC Ltd. plans to start co-firing across all its coal-based thermal power stations in a bid to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and cut pollution, according to official sources. Co-firing is the use of two different types of fuel for generation of electricity. NTPC will be using Biomass for generation of electricity in a move that they expect will reduce the GHG emissions from its thermal power plants.

Biomass can typically provide between 3-15 percent of the input energy into a power plant. And according to sources the firm will start procurement of biomass pellets and torrefied biomass pellets/briquettes for co-firing across all its coal-fired power plants and will soon float a tender. The power corp will also look to burn biomass like scrap lumber, forest debris, crop residues, manure and some types of waste residues along with coal to generate electricity."


Meanwhile, installation of coal plant scrubbing technology, although expensive, nevertheless is making significant strides and air quality standards are set very high:

"In 2015, for example, India’s Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change bolstered air-quality standards with a plan that requires coal plants to scrub 95 percent of the sulfur dioxide from emissions by 2022, setting some of the toughest environmental regulations in the world.""


They have a lot of untapped manure capacity, but they have to step up on collection.

Australia, being a primitive socialist country, has a system where generators are paid money to meet electricity demand. Because in convict days dead cats used to be used for currency, we call it an electricity more-cat. Under this bizarre system it makes sense to use solar energy because of its low cost. But now solar and wind power are competitive with coal our government is working hard to move away from the more-cat system and introducing a more advanced one of government fiat and regulation.

A little more seriously than my last comment:

A typical polysilicon solar panel is now around 20 US cents a watt at the factory gate in Shanghai. On a roof in Australia that watt will generate an average of around 4 watt-hours a day. In a solar farm it will typically generate around 5 watt-hours or more. In many locations solar is being installed for under $1 a watt. In the US there have been Power Purchase Agreements where solar will be built for 2 cents per kilowatt-hour produced. If there is an electricity market this makes it very competitive as it is cheaper than burning natural gas at international prices. If there is an electricity monopoly instead of a market then it is still very attractive as a money saver. Since there is no sign that the cost of solar PV is about to suddenly shoot up, a lot of it is going to get built and is being built.

+1, this is pretty accurate. The current costs of solar and wind are competitive with natural gas in the US and cheaper than coal. And much cheaper than nuclear power.

Interesting. So, in order to reduce pollution from coal, Australians buy solar panels manufactured in China which is the planet's biggest consumer of coal and among the worst polluters in the world. Sure, that makes sense.

In the early days of coal fired manufacturing, after the invention of the improved steam engine by Watt and the construction of working coal fired steam locomotives, people marveled that "coal hauled itself out of the mine". Coal not only hauled itself out if the mine, it powered all the industries and inputs that produced the locomotive.

Can solar panels power all the inputs into it's own construction? I think not.

20 cents a watt. That's what the average polysilicon solar panel now costs. So obviously 20 cents is the absolute maximum cost of energy that can go into making it. If electricity is worth 4 cents a kilowatt-hour then once the watt of PV produces 5 kilowatts it must have produced more energy than was put into it.

In a solar farm a watt of PV will generally produce an average of 5 watt-hours a day or more. That's 1.8 kilowatt-hours a year. That's 5.4 kilowatts in 3 years.

So even if energy was the only input for making solar panels, only three years would be more than enough time to produce energy worth that much.

Well, we can use EROEI calculations to argue this (energy return on energy invested). Mediating it by price is misleading.

It is really sad how fast comments became either "I don't believe in pollution," or "I believe in pollution, but don't believe in any responses to it."

Transparently motivated reasoning.

But not as bad as the California exemption rollback. Trump wants to give California dirtier air, not because it is healthier, but because he can.

The cruelty really is the message.

This is an *excellent* observation...

There is nothing "sad" about it.

This is an economics blog. Most people here are social scientists or practitioners. We believe that extraordinary claims need to be proven with extraordinary evidence. We also believe that in decision making, the total benefits should exceed the total costs.

The fact that you are dismissing these fundamental tools of analysis demonstrates you are Mood Affiliating in leftist propaganda.
The motives of your ilk to oppose nuclear, natural gas, coal, and petroleum to attack the lifeblood of our economy are laid bare. You are similarly attacking our legal system, medical care, gun rights, education, voting and food production among others. You have no intellectual integrity; you're friggin communists.

The real question is why communist nations like Australia don't seem that bad.

Demographics explains quite a bit of that.

Too bad they're busy turning themselves into a s******e so property prices may rise.

I think you should have had some self-awareness as you typed up such an incoherent response.

You did not actually make a rational cost-benefit analysis for any pollution, or any pollution control.

You just degined "an ilk" concerned with health and welfare, and made them the enemy.

No, Willits is correct. You mis-characterized the comments.

"...comments became either "I don't believe in pollution," or "I believe in pollution, but don't believe in any responses to it."

You are just wrong about the comments.

Sadly, Willits does not realize that you are a Russian provocateur and agitator. Your only purpose here is to stir up sh*t. You have been outed already - your IP address is in central Asia. Your whole Southern CA identity is fake.

I am really sorry you guys folded and lost your status in the world. I really don't know how to help you (Russia), but dealing with the national alcohol problem would be a great start. Alcoholism on that scale is hard to imagine.

"You are similarly attacking our legal system, medical care, gun rights, education, voting and food production among others."

Someone get a mop, spittle on isle four.

" extraordinary claims need to be proven with extraordinary evidence. We also believe that in decision making, the total benefits should exceed the total costs." Excellent. Fully agree.

I don't know @anonymous so can't comment on his/her reasoning. Mine (in agreeing with him/her) was regarding the EPA rollback of California emissions standards. If the residents of that state want to set higher emissions standards, then why should an agency have the authority to override that? It's the same thing as abortion rights or anything else.

Others may consider this crazy leftish or whatever labels. But this sort of thing (that impacts the wellbeing of a large set of people) should not be mandated by a central authority. Unless it is defense or something like that.

That's what's sad in my view.

You might have fallen for something here. I say people are slow to accept pollution, and pollution remedies. This dude comes at back at me with this big laundry list of all the things he hates, which have nothing to do with me, or nothing to do with pollution.

It is actually in a nutshell why we can't have nice things. Just the idea that pollution might be harmful is bundled in with .. what was it?

"You are similarly attacking our legal system, medical care, gun rights, education, voting and food production among others."

What a world.

I agree that they should be able to mandate 50 mpg by 2025 or whatever they want. The problem is that the liberals did not agree with federalism when they were in power and they were trying to push preferred policies centrally. So they did their best to expand central power. They rediscovered federalism after Trump, rather than Hillary, inherited the "I got a phone and a pen" administrative state from Obama. Too many books on demographic triumphalism will do that to you.


“The accuracy of German citizens’ confidence in their climate change knowledge.

If at this point you’re reminded of the Dunning–Kruger effect—the notion that when individuals are incompetent, they’re blissfully ignorant of that fact—you’re not the only one.

1) The increase of greenhouse gases is mainly caused by human activities

2) The global average temperature in the air has increased approximately 3.1 °C in the past 100 years

3) An increasing amount of greenhouse gases increases the risk of more UV radiation and therefore a larger risk of skin cancer”

Confidence was high, knowledge was low.


"The government has been slow to respond to pollution because much of the public remains unaware of pollution’s true cost and much of the true cost is born by children and future people who have no vote. "

Sooo, we are back to the wisdom of Chesterton?

"Society has been reduced to those living in the present; but in being reduced, it has excluded the democracy of the dead and unborn. We, in the present, must fight for this most obscure of all classes."

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