WSJ Article: Challenges Facing Electrification of Everything

4Q Basket Case

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The lead article for today’s Journal Report on Climate Technology (page R1), follows the discussion we had here on TF that was centered on electric cars.


I think you have to subscribe, or maybe get a few free articles before you have to pay, but the gist is:
1. Electrification of a whole lot of stuff, not just cars, is coming.
2. When it does, it’ll be good for the environment, however…
3. Translating theory into reality is a daunting challenge.

It talks about having to greatly upgrade the power grid, and fast.

But there are problems with that:
- The power outages in Texas are a great illustration of the need for backup, whether that comes in the form of generation capacity that’s not online until there’s an emergency, or storage of energy.

- Security will be a huge consideration. Colonial Pipeline hack by Dark Side is a great example, but would be nothing compared to what bad guys could do with power. If they could cut off all electricity to a substantial portion of the country, and hold it ransom for either money or political advantage, that’s a massive vulnerability.

Suppose they don’t cut off power, but instead generate a massive power surge that destroys a lot of electronics that are plugged in — charging phones or computers, TVs, etc., etc.,ad infinitum.

I don’t know if they’d be able to fry the innards of your new Tesla that was charging in your garage or not, but I’m sure they’ll try.

- Not In My Back Yard…NIMBY. Everybody recognizes the need for sewage treatment plants, yet nobody wants one near their house. Likewise, everybody wants the benefit of a massively upgraded power grid, but nobody much wants the towers and transmission lines needed to do that near their world.

In an irony sweet enough to rot your teeth, even states that are perceived as “green,” have proposed or passed legislation prohibiting transmission through their territory. New Hampshire and Maine are two examples.

- Not likely to be a problem in North America, but if one country buys power from another, and becomes reliant on it, the seller gets massive influence over the internal affairs of the buyer. And if the seller is effectively a warlord, that’s a problem.

Anyway, an interesting article on the benefits of electrification, and the real-world impediments to getting that done.
 

4Q Basket Case

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Moving thread to NS, as politics is creeping in.

An editorial on a related topic:


Citing environmental concerns, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is further cementing her popularity with the working class by threatening to revoke a 5-mile easement for a Canadian pipeline to go through the Strait of Mackinac.

The Line 5 pipeline supplies not quite half of Michigan’s propane, thereby facilitating a bunch of blue-collar Michigan jobs. It also supplies fuel for millions of Canadians.

Line 5 has operated for 70 years without incident. Its operator, Enbridge, has an agreement with the State of Michigan to replace part of the pipeline with a concrete-encased tunnel running under the bottom of the Great Lakes.

So with the lessons of the Colonial Pipeline hack fresh in our minds, what happens if we restrict the supply of a commodity for which there is no short-term substitute?

All together now: Panic buying, hoarding, price increases. In this case, also loss of jobs.

So why are we doing this, when the operator has (1) operated safely for 70 years, and (2) already agreed to eliminate any possible environmental concerns? Unless it’s to push Enbridge to complete the concrete tunnel (not mentioned in the editorial), I can’t imagine.
 
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4Q Basket Case

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Whitmer makes a legitimate point about preserving jobs that depend on the Great Lakes. But I think she overstates the case, and overstates the effectiveness of her plan to wean the market off of propane.

Regarding jobs — if Line 5 shuts down, there is a 100% chance that a lot of jobs in the propane industry, and in industries that use propane, will be affected. If it continues, there’s a small, though not zero, chance that other jobs in other Great Lakes industries will be affected.

Regarding weaning — increasing storage and incenting investment in alternatives won’t dull the impact. Both (especially the development of alternatives) are long-term solutions to an artificially-created shortage of a commodity for which there are no short-term substitutes.

She mentions the plan to move the pipeline underground, but says, essentially, that it will take too long…..kind of like moving tens of thousands of propane users to something else?

Her point about the easement is interesting. States should, and do, have control over their territory. But the State of Michigan granted the easement in 1953. Enbridge says the easement is essentially in perpetuity.

I wonder what the terms of the 1953 grant were? Seems to me that its terms should rule. The fact that it was almost 70 years ago is irrelevant.

Given the 70 years of incident-free operation, even in the face of some strong external threats, I think the best solution for everybody is to set a date by which the pipes have to be buried and encased in concrete. Two years seems reasonable to me, though I’m no petroleum engineer, and would love to hear from some professionals as to how long it would take to construct such a thing.

Maybe that’s what she’s really after. But if so, why not say that?
 

TIDE-HSV

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lots of legalese in here, but here is the easement agreement (pdf)

there are ways it can be terminated, and i guess it is up to the court to make the final decision

Actually, it's pretty simple and contemplates that there may be leaks and specifies what the grantee has to do in response. I'd say her case is very weak...
 
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92tide

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TIDE-HSV

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here is an article from last november about some of the underlying legal issues.

Well, that's citing facts that you can't be aware of from reading the bare easement itself. It will be interesting to see if they can demonstrate and prove that the pipeline has been operated negligently. The easement itself anticipates problems and give the operator an interval of time, ninety days, to cure the default. I guess the state is claiming those provisions weren't complied with. Also, so far as the curvature is concerned, the pipeline was supposed to constructed in accordance with detailed plans submitted to the state. Seems odd to be coming back now and complaining about the curves not conforming. I can't say I'm as optimistic as the "legal experts"...