Monday, January 28, 2019
Natural Gas NOW
There’s a huge problem with green energy schemes that no one is talking about; they rely upon planned government activity rather than spontaneous innovation.
Almost all green energy schemes rely upon government support and/or government direction. Dogma is their foundation and coercion of one form or another is their standard operation procedure. The combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, by contrast, is a matter of spontaneous innovation; a combination of two previous innovations that together have produced the shale revolution.
This innovative combination, moreover, involves no coercion, no subsidies, no renewable portfolio standards and no mandates. It is constantly changing, improving and upgrading with no limits and no end in sight. Meanwhile, the promise of green energy delivered on its own, absent government propping it up and forcing its use, is somehow always in the future, so close we’re told, we can taste it, except that it never happens.
All this came to mind over the weekend as I was finishing a wonderful book called “The Tyranny of Experts,” by William Easterly. He makes an impassioned case for why so many of the efforts by World Bank types, and specifically, the Rockefeller Foundation, to bring poor countries out of poverty have been utter and complete failures. Along the way, he refers to another of my favorite books, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” by Jane Jacobs. Both books are highly critical of top-down planning and argue for individualism and for freedom to invent, innovate and renew.
Jacobs made the point, long ago, that attempts at conscious direction of city life as in urban renewal projects then being proposed for a destitute area of New York City were doomed, whereas organic, spontaneous development was the very nature of city life. She was proven correct years later when that destitute area became what is now known as the trendy SoHo part of Manhattan, where apartments sell for multiple millions of dollars.
We see the same dynamic with green energy schemes. Most of the green energy development we’ve witnessed to date is anything but organic. Rather, it’s planned by supposed experts in government and forced upon us. We’re told we have to do it and we have to pay extra to do it. This means, of course, there is no real incentive to innovate. Why experiment with an alternative idea or a different approach when you’re assured of a market for what you’re doing now?
Compare this to the way the natural gas industry works, with no significant subsidies or requirements that your product be used. The only way to get ahead to is to constantly innovate by finding a better, less expensive way to get your product to market. This is why natural gas development has changed dramatically since I first got involved in promoting it. Then, we were talking about a well pad for every 40 or 160 acres. Now, we’re seeing 1,280 acre units and laterals going out miles with absolutely minimal land disturbance. We’re seeing multi-level drilling, recycling of almost all water used and other innovations too numerous to mention.
This happens, of course, partly due to competition that government guarantees invariably obliterates. But, there’s a bigger factor as well and it is that focusing the attention of 100 green energy experts on a single idea is never as effective as 100 people pursuing 100 ideas. Innovation cannot be planned or forced. It has to be spontaneous to be innovative, something no one thought of before. That only happens when large numbers of people are pursuing large numbers of ideas, with lots of failures and those occasional successes that take everything in an entirely different direction.
This could be happening in green energy, too, but is it? Not really. It’s much too easy to secure tax incentives from Congress for old uneconomical energy. It’s much too easy to get states to impose requirements that utilities use what is produced by the same old green energy schemes. There is no reward in green energy for fooling around with crazy ideas that just might work. Take away the mandates and the subsidies and a thousand new ideas might bloom because some eccentric entrepreneurial mind out there and others like him suppose they know how to turn rain into carbonless gasoline.
But, that’s not happening with green energy schemes. No, all the scheming is going into how to grab government money, which involves zero innovation. The natural gas industry, where there’s not only freedom to pursue new ideas but potentially huge rewards for doing so, is innovating all over the place. This is why green energy schemes never quite materialize as projected. Every advance in green energy is matched by two or more in natural gas. Incentives matter. Spontaneous innovation stimulated by a combination of freedom and competition will always trump the best efforts of the experts trying to plan and mandate it on behalf of government.
Sunday, January 27, 2019
I must come clean upfront: I am a Baby Boomer.
I grew up during a time when so-called muscle cars really had muscle. There’s never been a better sound to these ears from a non-human source than sitting at an intersection when a 1967 Pontiac GTO, or a 1970 Plymouth Barracuda, pulls next to me. The rumble from the V-8, gas-guzzling engine permeates my ears, and I watch slack-jawed as the entire car vibrates from the potential under the hood.
Today, while muscle has returned to the U.S. automobile industry, with 700 horsepower Hellcats and Demons, Shelby Mustang GT 350s, and Camaro ZL1s, hybrid power plants and all-electric vehicles led by Elon Musk’s Tesla, get more press.
Tesla touts looks, speed and technology that matches any gasoline-fired vehicle, but also mathematics, proving it costs less to charge a Tesla, than to fill the gas tank of a comparable car, Kallanish Energy reports.
Maybe – but maybe not. Last week, an article in the publication Techspot raised legitimate questions about whether a match still favors Tesla.
Charging rate jumps
The electric-vehicle maker recently announced what would have averaged a 33% increase in its Supercharging station rates, ironically happening during a time of tumbling gasoline prices, according to energy technology website Electrek.
Since Oct. 10, the national average price for regular gas has fallen 23%, to roughly $2.25 a gallon, according to consumer gasoline website gasbuddy.com.
The drop comes as Tesla also ends its so-called referral program, which provided free Supercharging to qualified buyers. Effective last November, all new Tesla owners must pay the new, higher rates at Supercharging stations.
Price increase rethought
Following a very vocal outcry from its adherents, Tesla rethought the 33% charging price increase, and backed it down about 10%, from $0.31 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), to $0.28/kWh, on average.
Based on average prices, a fill-up and a charge cost nearly the same, running $27 and $28, respectively. (At $0.31/kWh, charging would have been $31.)
Yet, in many states the price of a gallon of gas remains far below the national average, which alters the math in favor of gasoline.
Low gasoline prices hurt comparisons
For example, at Jan. 27, you could find regular gasoline for as low as $2.14 a gallon in Pennsylvania, $1.66/gallon in Texas, $2.01/gallon in Florida, and $1.50/gallon in Oklahoma.
Using those prices, it’s cheaper to fill a car with regular gas than its batteries with electricity at a Supercharger station.
Industry analysts also question whether some of the recent cost comparisons are fair, claiming key factors and certain nuances are being overlooked.
For example, most Tesla owners charge at home — where rates are cheaper — not at the public Superchargers. On the other hand, most homes aren’t wired to handle 120 kW chargers, which are likely not cheap to install.
Premium gasoline price has dropped
Tesla backers also say when comparing cost, consumers should pair Teslas with equivalent-cost luxury vehicles – Teslas aren’t cheap.
That’s fine, but the Tesla website uses $2.85/gallon for premium – hi-test to Boomers – gasoline, when doing its price comparison. According to AAA, there currently are 33 states in which the average price for hi-test is under $2.85/gallon.
There’s also the matter of the status of the federal electric vehicle tax credit, which had been as high as $7,500, but which depends on how close the manufacturer come to selling 200,000 vehicles since 2010. Tesla actually went over the 200,000-vehicle mark in the third quarter of 2018.
So the Tesla backers and gasoline guzzlers continue verbally sparring, “my car’s better than your car.”
Both are correct – it all depends what a buyer wants. For me, give me that V-8-shaking GTO or ‘Cuda. I like the feel.
Natural Gas NOW
An article in LoHud exposes the real life impacts of pipeline opposition and the lack of critical thinking abilities on the part of so many New Yorkers.
Yesterday, I noted a Westchester County, New York Assemblywoman by the name of Amy Paulin was experiencing some sort of awakening with respect to the impacts of Andrew Cuomo’s maddening pipeline opposition. They have resulted in ConEd imposing a moratorium on new gas connections. “We just can’t stop all economic development, all affordable housing projects, all residential development, which is what this moratorium will do,” she said.
Paulin was, of course, aiming her remarks at ConEd, rather than her fellow Democrat, the governor of New York. The message was, nonetheless, clear; Cuomo’s green appeasement strategy is starting to impact real lives and he’d better be more careful. It was a not so subtle suggestion to rethink his pipeline opposition.
An article in LoHud brings things into focus and here are a few of the moist relevant excerpts:
“The state’s misguided blockade against natural gas infrastructure is hurting New York’s economy through lost jobs and a higher cost of doing business,” said Peter Kauffmann, the spokesman for New Yorkers for Affordable Energy, a trade group representing labor and business leaders in the natural gas business.
ConEd’s announcement may have come as a surprise to many but over the past two years, the company has repeatedly told state regulatory officials a moratorium was looming.
“The Company forecasts that in the near term it may be unable to meet demand from new customers on extremely cold days, resulting in the need to institute moratoriums on attaching new firm customers in areas where pipeline capacity is severely constrained,” the company wrote in a petition to the state Public Service Commission in September 2017.
ConEd noted that over the six years that ended in 2017, the utility’s natural gas peak day demand had increased more than 30 percent and it’s expected to grow an additional 23 percent in the next 20 years.
Much of that growth is being spurred by efforts to wean customers off dirtier heating oil options. Between 2011 and 2016, ConEd converted more than 6,500 buildings to natural gas, an effort the utility says has reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
“In short, natural gas is playing an important role in New York’s path to a clean energy future and has contributed to the highest air quality in New York City in the last 50 years,” the company noted.
ConEd contracts with six interstate pipelines which connect to the utility’s distribution system at multiple points. The company delivers gas to more than 1 million customers in New York City and parts of Westchester County through 4,300 miles of mains and 370,000 service lines.
In recent years, efforts to increase pipeline capacity bogged down.
“Since 2014, the Company has worked with various pipelines to develop new projects that would increase the pipeline to New York City gates,” the company wrote in 2017. “When pipeline development projects in New York recently encountered increased difficulty in securing necessary pre-construction permits, the projects on which the Company was working were not considered viable and therefore not initiated.”
Unfortunately, this part of the article, which tells the truth of the situation doesn’t appear until towards the end of the article. Even then, it doesn’t squarely put the blame for the moratorium on Andrew Cuomo’s demagogic strategy of killing pipelines. It tends, instead, to suggest ConEd might be exaggerating its problems to leverage the situation and secure more gas. It gives radical Food & Water Watch a platform to argue that cutting of pipelines is essential to “get us off fossil fuels altogether” and implies, with no factual support, that renewables could easily substitute for natural gas, which isn’t even vaguely true.
What really stands out to me about this article, though, are two facets of the article.
The first is the real world pain of Cuomo’s misbegotten strategy of pipeline opposition. That comes through loud and clear in the comments made by builders and local officials which echo those made by Amy Paulin.
The second thing that comes through to someone like me reading the article from far across the other side of the Hudson River in Pennsylvania, is the extent to which New Yorkers are capable of denying reality, even in the direct face of it, for the sake of green political correctness. County Executive George Latimer suggests it could be just a matter of how the counting was done:
“We need to understand what led to this moratorium, how the calculation for gas is made, how many customers exist in each municipality, which slated projects are in jeopardy, which are not, the duration of the moratorium, how that calculation was determined, an overview of the regulatory process, and Con Edison’s plan for developing and implementing alternative energy sources,” Latimer said.
Notice there is no mention of Cuomo decisions to kill one pipeline after another to appease a handful of his green-obsessed Westchester County constituents; decisions solely responsible for the crisis. There’s a lot more of this head in the sand mentality throughout the article. Even those most aware of the real problem are generally afraid to state the truth or express anything that’s not green certified. Therein lies the real problem, of course; trendy peer pressure demanding green conformity.
No, all eyes are averted from the reality there’s no way to economically heat the above 27-story mixed-use project in New Rochelle without natural gas or electricity made from gas. All ears are closed to the reality that it’s the governor, stupid!
The post New Yorkers Grapple with the Real Life Impacts of Pipeline Opposition appeared first on Natural Gas Now.
Saturday, January 26, 2019
Cabot Oil & Gas
External Affairs, Pittsburgh
Kelsey Mulac provides a primer on compressed natural gas or CNG and how it is offering another outlet for dry gas as another face of the Shale Revolution.
Compressed natural gas, or CNG, is natural gas that has been compressed to 1 percent of its original size. After removing impurities like water and natural gas liquids, natural gas is considered dry. This means it’s primarily made of methane, which is necessary for the compression process.
The most common method for compressing natural gas is a diaphragm compressor, which uses a series of chambers to constrict the volume of the natural gas. Natural gas travels through a number of containers that increase pressure and decrease volume until the gas has reached the necessary pressure. CNG is stored and transported under pressure.
Compressed natural gas is known as a great fuel choice for vehicles for its economic and environmental benefits.
America’s abundant supply and strong production of natural gas offer price stability and affordability for CNG. And because CNG is made primarily of methane, its main byproducts are carbon dioxide and water vapor. It does not produce pollutants like nitrogen and sulfur dioxide, and natural gas carbon emissions are relatively low compared to other fossils fuels. Simply put, CNG is a win-win – for both wallets and the environment.
Vehicles that run on natural gas are known as NGVs, or natural gas vehicles. There are three types of NGVs: dedicated vehicles that run on natural gas only, as well as bi-fuel and dual fuel. Bi-fuel systems allow the vehicles to run on either natural gas or gasoline/diesel. Dual fuel vehicles blend natural gas with diesel.
CNG maximizes cost efficiency for vehicles because it leaves less residue than other fuels. This reduces damage to engines and contamination to motor oil as well as maintenance costs. CNG can save a consumer almost 50 percent over traditional petroleum products: you can even calculate potential savings from converting a fleet to CNG.
Safety is also a major factor. CNG has very limited flammability and is lighter than air. In event of a vehicle accident, CNG safely dissipates into the air rather than creating a fire hazard by pooling on the ground.
Cabot’s CNG Use
Cabot has a host of CNG investments. Because of the quality of dry gas that Cabot can produce, up to 97% methane, it has lots of potential as fuel. In 2013, Cabot opened a CNG fueling station in Susquehanna County and began operating bi-fuel vehicles that can switch between gasoline and CNG with the flip of a switch. Cabot also operates drilling and hydraulic fracturing equipment using CNG. All of these measures decrease production costs and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
CNG in the News
In early 2016, PennDOT announced its partnership with Trillium CNG to design, build, finance, operate, and maintain compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations across Pennsylvania. These new CNG stations will supply gas to more than 1,600 public-transit buses at the 29 sites. Click here to see the map and the implementation timeline.
On January 22, 2019 the Wolf Administration announced the formal opening of service at the facility at 200 Willow Street, Lebanon. Under the program, Lebanon Transit will convert eight buses to CNG. The authority estimates saving roughly $50,000 annually based on current diesel costs and their diesel usage of roughly 35,000 gallons per year.
Rabbittransit launched a CNG fueling station in Gettysburg, PA in October. According to officials, the new station will meet the needs of the transits growing CNG fleet of buses.
In October, new public-private CNG fueling station opened its doors in Indiana County, Pa. It will primarily serve IndiGO’s fleet of CNG buses, but it’s also open to the public, including for light-, medium- and heavy-duty trucks.
To date, stations have also opened at:
- Cambria County Transportation Authority, Johnstown Facility, includes public fueling.
- Mid Mon Valley Transportation Authority.
- Central Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, York Facility, includes public fueling.
- Cambria County Transportation Authority, Ebensburg Facility
- Westmoreland County Transportation Authority
- Centre Area Transportation Authority
- Beaver County Transit Agency
- Crawford Area Transportation Authority
- New Castle Area Transportation Authority, includes public fueling.
- Altoona Metro Transit
- Lehigh and Northampton Transportation Authority, Allentown Facility
In other news, in November, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) awarded more than $2.6 million in grant funding to municipalities and businesses statewide for 16 clean energy vehicle projects.
As discussed on Natural Gas Now, the program involves buying or converting 99 CNG vehicles, upgrading a CNG station, buying or converting another 33 propane vehicles (propane being a natural gas derivative) and four electric vehicles that will run on electricity mostly made from natural gas. According to the press release, the projects are expected to reduce emissions by more than 2,800 tons and save more than one million gasoline gallon equivalents annually.
As you can see, CNG is working hard throughout Pennsylvania to put dry natural gas to further use, all while reducing costs, improving safety, and helping the environment.
Reposted, with permission, from Well Said Cabot.
The post Natural Gas 101: The Story on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) appeared first on Natural Gas Now.