Skip to main content
All Posts By

Jeff Ihnen

Power Grid Vulnerabilities; Eyes on the Prize

By Energy Rant No Comments
In this year’s twelve-pack of predictions for 2023, I forecast that the attacks on the U.S. power grid would continue, and the media would desperately attempt to blame their ideological opponents as extremists. Yawn. The attacks certainly risk public welfare, safety, and security, but what’s behind them? I took a couple of hours to investigate. Terrorism The Time article I referenced includes a quote, “’ Domestic terror groups understand that citizens losing power from gunfire or sabotage is an easy way to receive media attention, which they crave,’ says Brian Harrell, a former Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection at the...
Read More
Flowing Water at 22 Degrees Fahrenheit

Flowing Water at 22 Degrees Fahrenheit

By Energy Rant No Comments
As undergraduate mechanical engineering students, we took materials science courses and studied phase diagrams like the one below from “Metallurgy for Dummies.” Does that appear to be dummy-grade to you? It gave me a chuckle. A phase diagram for water (below) is decidedly simpler. The above diagram shows only liquid and solid phases of carbon steel, while the water diagram shows its three phases, solid (ice), liquid, and vapor (steam). The author writes, “Freezing Point: At a temperature of 0 °C [32 °F] and a pressure of 1.00 atm, this is the point at which water (liquid) freezes into ice...
Read More

Decarb Warriors

By Energy Rant No Comments
Last week I read a statement from a retail energy provider. It said, “100% green rates, always.” It doesn’t work that way. An aggregation of power sources, including renewable, nuclear, coal, and natural gas, are supplying the grid at any given time. The little electrons aren’t tagged by source and routed to any given customer(s). Second, even if that were impossible, er, I mean, possible, it’s shoving more hydrocarbon electricity onto someone else. In this way, it’s the same as the net zero con. Cheap but Unreliable Generating renewable power is easy and inexpensive, but as described in the net-zero...
Read More

A Twelve-Pack for 2023

By Energy Rant No Comments
A Twelve-Pack for 2023 Last year Las Vegas booked my predictions at 1:1.5 odds. This year I’m being more aggressive and expect something closer to a 3:1 weighted average. Below, I include my estimates for each forecast. Ukraine War I’ll get the tough stuff out of the way first. The Ukraine war will not end peacefully with a desirable outcome as long as the bipartisan U.S. congress keeps laundering money through the military-industrial complex (and others) in this proxy war with Russia. (Odds: 1:2) There is no exit strategy. Thirty billion here. Forty billion there. When that runs out, we’ll...
Read More

2022’s Lucky Seven Lookback

By Energy Rant No Comments
This post features the results of my Lucky 7 predictions I made a year ago, a grade for each omen, and a little sass here and there. Coal Record Prediction: Annual worldwide coal consumption will pass the all-time high set in 2014. Result: The Internation Energy Agency, on 16 December, reported, “Global coal use is set to rise by 1.2% in 2022, surpassing 8 billion tonnes in a single year for the first time and eclipsing the previous record set in 2013(sic)[1], according to Coal 2022, the IEA’s latest annual market report on the sector.” This is remarkable, considering “For...
Read More
Deep Thoughts from a Scatterbrain

Deep Thoughts from a Scatterbrain

By Energy Rant No Comments
With most people off this week, it is a good time to probe the mysteries of life that I have accumulated in recent years. Food Let’s start with a great food mystery; the hamburger. Every other burger has the key ingredient in the name: turkey burger, walnut burger, pork burger. Ham? What would a burger made of ham be called? Next up: Grapes, grape nuts, and grapefruit. What is the common denominator? Orange, lemon, lime, tangerine… Fruit namer: “I’m tired. To hell with it. We’ll call this largest citrus fruit a grapefruit and call it a day.” Steel-cut oats. What...
Read More

Fusion Power May Not Be Giants

By Energy Rant No Comments
Just before last week’s finale on permanent peak demand reduction went to press, news dropped that nuclear fusion was successfully pulled off in the Livermore Laboratory in California. A controlled fusion reaction “produced more energy than it consumed,” according to The Wall Street Journal and many other outlets. Before reading anything, my first reaction to the headline was 1) yawn and 2) they broke the second law of thermodynamics[1]. Later, I realized that they may have broken the first law of thermodynamics[2] as well. Fusion Highlights What is fusion? It is the slamming together of two hydrogen atoms to create...
Read More

Demand Management for Good

By Energy Rant No Comments
The last few posts[1][2] featured an overview and complete report card on load management to get beyond net zero to real zero, a term I discovered last week. As promised, I will describe some permanent peak load reduction opportunities this week. Like many efficiency solutions, blocking and tackling approaches are the most effective. Peak Load Reduction – New Construction I’m going to stick with some big hitters. A person could write forever on this topic. Home Envelope Single-family homes must be super-insulated to minimize heating loads in cool/cold climates. The cartoon below provides a nice example of super-insulated versus code...
Read More

Demand Response Primer

By Energy Rant No Comments
Last week I described how net zero sounds grand, it’s easy to do, but it doesn’t work to support the transition to a clean-energy grid. The reason is that everyone, whether utilities or customers, overproduces simultaneously, and then later, customers all need energy from thermal power plants simultaneously. We have an exploding deficit of customers to take that overproduction and shift load or store it for use when intermittent renewable supplies shut down. In Renewables at Scale, I described how renewable supply and batteries would never be sufficient. The gaps in intermittent renewable supply are too big for batteries to...
Read More

Cure Net Zero with Demand Response

By Energy Rant No Comments
I lambasted net zero many times, one time calling it an unserious weapon against climate change. Why is that? We’re going to see in this post. What is net zero? Simply, it is a building or property that produces as much renewable energy on-site as it consumes, typically over a year. Some utilities claim their net zero trophies for producing as much renewable energy as their customers buy. Why is Net Zero a Con? To answer this question in one word; exports. When a property or utility generates more electricity than it consumes, it must be exported to someone else....
Read More