Hasenpfeffer for Bart
Posted by Jeff Id on July 12, 2010
So I’ve been battling a bit with Bart Verheggen. I realize that it’s not that uncommon of a situation around here, Eli Rabbet showed up to join against my reasonable points.
Energy saving is probably the archetypical no-regret measure. McKinsey has a graph similar to the one I pointed you too with much more detail of where the different options fall on that curve. No time to look up the ref now, sorry (the final will resume in a few minutes…)
We were discussing my point that it is a flat fact, that energy saving cannot achieve the goals that greenies want. I repeatedly and endlessly point out to the leftist environmentalists here that industry is already very efficient. This time I made the mistake of saying I’m an engineer and have studied these issues so I got this happy mocking return from Eli.
There are endless efficiencies to be found in industrial processes and consumer products. In the usual case one has to consider the up front costs and balance it against the payback time.
On the industrial side there are associated investment costs to change the processes which are paid back in savings, often in a very short time. Here is another example from a petrochemical plant where the substantial savings were so high that the payback took less than two months.
Some places have efficiency calculators on line to help. As a matter of fact, motor replacement is one of the simplest and most effective ways of saving energy, which Jeff should know if he works with motors.
The same sort of calculation goes for consumer goods. At some point, due to the price of repairs and energy, replacing any appliance or vehicle makes sense because the gains from increased efficiency quickly account cover the cost.
Jeff is an engineer and he is here to help us.
Endless returns eh? Eli linked to Dow, which of course is a huge energy consuming chemical company. A company that is critical to our global lifestyle. Well Dow, which is a big enough corporation to be in on and supportive of the global warming agenda, has worked with government on energy saving programs. They have set aggressive goals for energy savings which is excellent for a company that requires dramatic energy consumption to operate its business. Unfortunately, their goals are not achievable but that doesn’t matter, they can reset the bar later.
Eli sent this link 42009 which shows that Dow St. Charles plant, in joining the federal government, made a total annual energy savings of 272,000 MMBtu and $1.9 million, respectively. This is great stuff, and there is nothing wrong with energy savings, which I think was Bart’s original point. My point of course has been that if industry had a cost effective way for savings, in NEARLY ALL cases, they have already done it, are trying to do it, or will do it in the near future. It’s the nature of capitalism, which climatologists don’t seem to understand at all.
Now Eli is of course willing to accept any document from the government about energy savings without question. Fortunately for him, I am an engineer and in the spirit of his his fun mocking, am here to help.
First I tried to establish just how these massive savings were achieved. It turned out that the document described a steam leak/leaks and a few other items for improvements. In all the government determined there was $5 million to be saved, but after implementation Dow St. Charles was able to save 1.9 million- their own numbers with 1.1 million from steam leaks. Now you have to be an idiot to accept these numbers unquestioned because there is large incentive for both the government and Dow to inflate them, but I am an idiot — it’s in the name — so that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
Being an engineer comes with the knowledge that bulk chemical processing and purification typically comes with heavy energy consumption. I wanted to see how much energy this little 3000 person plant consumes.
I found this statement in the pdf linked above.
Using 3EPlus, DOE’s insulation calculation program, the team estimated total insulation losses to be approximately 1.0%. By reducing these insulation losses to 0.1%, the assessment showed that annual natural gas and cost savings of 3,030 MMBtu and $25,000 could be achieved.
So 3030 MMBtu (Million British Thermal Units) is 1-0.1 or 0.9% of the total usage. So the total plant power usage is 3,030,000,000 BTU*100/0.9 = 336,000 MMBtu. But wait! They claim an energy SAVINGS of 451,100 MMBtu from steam leak management!!
So according to Eli’s never exaggerated government documents, the steam leaks more than the usage!! I’m probably the only person to bother checking but our smell-o-meters are triggered now.
Of course we couldn’t stop there. There must be a total plant power usage number somewhere. Unsurprisingly for a “green” company which is forced to use MASSIVE energy, it turns out that the total usage isn’t easy to come by. They don’t like that number for some reason. I did find this chart though published by Dow St. Charles which amazingly enough stops right before the year 2007, the year of their massive energy savings. I wonder why??
They also managed to claim that this graph represents a steady improvement.
St. Charles Operations has demonstrated a steady improvement in reducing its energy usage — even while the site experienced a significant increase in production during the last few years.
Not quite what I got from the graph but it’s enough that I can look for total pounds of production to get energy consumption. From this site, the St. Charles facility is stated to produce 10 billion pounds of chemicals per year. So with 5200 btu/lb*10,000,000,000 lbs we get 52,000,000,000,000 or fifty two trillion BTU’s. Woah!
What’s even more amazing, besides the 0.025 USD/KWH, is the electric bill (double checked in the PDF) which amounts to a whopping 380 million dollars per year – 0.038 USD/lb material cost. The “irony abounds” is an incredible understatement when Eli Rabbit links this company as an example of ‘green’ improvement.
So the alleged total improvement from all these wonderful finds is 0.5 percent. One part in 200 was claimed to be saved from this amazing energy efficiency program. Again Eli wrote this — There are endless efficiencies to be found in industrial processes and Bart wrote this — Energy saving is probably the archetypical no-regret measure. My contention is and has been that capitalist industry is already very efficient where it can be – because as a business owner, wasting of money….. sucks.
So Dow claimed or more accurately proclaimed this huge efficiency increase, but let’s torture Eli and Bart a little further. Let’s look at how this half percent increase in efficiency compares to the annual variation in efficiency. From the bar chart above the one sigma deviation is ~0.5 percent of the consumed energy per pound – two tailed. The result is that this SAME efficiency gain occurs under normal unchanged operations by ACCIDENT once in about 8 years.
So, in summary, the DOE found a massive plant in the United States and worked a deal with DOW to analyze and improve electric consumption efficiency. Engineers at the plant were tasked to work with and support this fantastic program. Together they analyzed the massive plant, scouring it for anything they could find for energy loss and were able to identify a few key areas of problem. The primary area was steam leakage, which was identified by meter readings to cause about 3 million USD/ year in losses. It turned out that some of the meters weren’t working so the number dropped to 1.1 million in losses according to UNCALIBRATED, low accuracy meters. How do I know they are uncalibrated and low accuracy– because I’m not a climatologist. No really, in industry, they are assumed calibrated until they become critical, which these meters are not. They are likely designed to detect leaks of significant size.
Anyway, after searching endlessly through the plant, these boys and girls identified ‘massive’ steam leaks – over a million dollars of steam sneaking out by surprise!! Which then turned into savings.
Does anyone here know what a million dollars of steam looks like? Steam is cheap you know — especially for Dow. I can calculate it but it would be embarrassing for Dow and perhaps to the point of being dangerous for me, Dow is a fine and important company IMHO. So instead, I’ll acknowledge their claimed energy savings with a polite thank you.
Why don’t the climatologists realize the extents corporations will go to in order to save a million dollars?
Does anyone want to bet on whether or not this was one steam leak which was measured for annual output but in reality lasted under a week?
I’m tired again, but guys like Bart, Eli, Trenberth, Mann, Schmidt, on and on, don’t have a damned clue about industry. They don’t have a single f..ing idea what it takes to run a company. They are leftists, without understanding of production – or a care to learn, but they will sell you a plan for it. They are happy to sell their enlightened views and despite their hubris, they are wrong.
Because they are ignorant.
I wish somehow they would come to grips with the fact that they should simply study climate and not enforce policy on industry. At the same time, expecting that to happen would make me naive.
At some point, due to the price of repairs and energy, replacing any appliance or vehicle makes sense because the gains from increased efficiency quickly account cover the cost.
Yes Eli, at some point. Unfortunately that point is not contained within the locus of what we evil capitalist business owners refer to as …reality.