Monday, May 02, 2016

Energy 64, Comparing energy density of nuke, solar, wind, others

A technical but beautiful paper here from Wattsupwiththat (WUWT). The author is arguing for nuclear power mainly because of its huge energy density compared to all other energy sources, and much much larger compared to solar and wind. Enjoy reading.

Guest essay by Tom D. Tamarkin, April 14, 2016


AGW or climate change is not the big problem many claim. The perceived scare of AGW has been used by sub-groups in the United Nations to bluff wealthy industrialized nations into transferring money to poor often times corrupt nations. Monies gained from this mechanism have not been invested in the root cause of AGW (if in fact any exists.) At the same time over $1 trillion USD is spent worldwide annually on climate change studies, consultants, related government agencies, and the rapidly growing but totally ineffective green and renewable energy industry. This has also lead to the emergence of the carbon trading brokerage industry. This is based on fraudulent science as CO2 has an extremely small “greenhouse” effect far exceeded by water vapor from the oceans. Only fossil hydrocarbon fuels and nuclear energy can supply material amounts of energy due to their many orders of magnitude higher energy flux densities than so called renewables. Well over half the world’s economically viable recoverable fossil fuels have been consumed while over 3 billion human inhabitants live in “energy poverty:” over 1.5 billion without electricity. Once fossil fuels are depleted beyond the point of economically viable production there is only one energy source available to provide the Earth’s energy needs. That is the conversion of matter into energy as formulated in the equation E=mc2. Man must learn to generate energy based on his knowledge of the laws of physics and the interchangeability of matter into energy. Today we have started with the baby step of nuclear fission. Fission is practical and works today but is unsustainable due to radioactive waste issues. Therefore, we must immediately invest in the experimental understanding of the science leading to the successful demonstration of controlled atomic fusion followed by the R&D needed to commercialize it. Fusion is 100% safe, uses virtually unlimited fuel cycle non-radioactive light element components, and produces no significant radioactive byproducts. In the alternative, man will run out of fossil fuels. AGW is then a 100% moot point because hydrocarbon fuels are not being burned in material quantities. Under these conditions worldwide population will shrink to preindustrial revolution levels of about 10% of today’s population or about 700,000 750 million people worldwide.

Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) or climate change is not the BIG problem its advocates make it out to be. Even if it could be proved that man is creating it through his use of hydro-carbon fossil fuels, it is not the truly BIG problem.

Climate change has always been a part of the Earth’s dynamic atmospheric system. During the last 2 billion years the Earth’s climate has alternated between a frigid “Ice House” climate, today’s moderate climate, , and a steaming “Hot House” climate, as in the time of the dinosaurs….

Unfortunately, the potential threat of predicted future climate change has been used to transfer enormous amounts of money from wealthy nations to poor nations [1]. This has enabled the survival instinct mechanisms of the climate change community. That includes governments, consultants, and scientific researchers who simply study the perceived problem and generate academic journal articles and reports. The ineffective green energy solutions manufacturing and service industry also owes their life…and government subsidies…to the climate change scare. No serious money raised by the “climate scare” has been spent on solving the BIG problem.

The BIG problem is the fact that man was provided with about 400 years’ worth of hydrocarbon based fossil fuels which took several hundred million years to be created on Earth. The energy came from the Sun[2]. Integrated over large amounts of geological time, daily Sun energy was converted into chemicals through plant photosynthesis. These chemicals can, in-turn, be ignited to release the stored energy through an oxidation reduction reaction with oxygen [3]. Once they are gone they are gone in human life cycle terms.

What is energy? A physicists will answer by saying “the ability to perform work.” They will elaborate by saying: “energy is a property of objects which can be transferred to other objects or converted into different forms, but cannot be created or destroyed.”

A housewife will say energy is what moves our cars, powers our airplanes, cooks our food, and keeps us warm in the winter – cool in the summer.

You cannot power a world estimated to have 9 billion people by 2060 on energy produced from solar cells and wind turbines.

They are not sustainable meaning they cannot create enough energy quickly enough to reproduce themselves (build more) and provide energy to man. The reason is that the amount of energy received from the Sun is far “too dilute” meaning a very small amount of energy is received per square unit of surface area for relatively short periods of time given the day-night cycle and weather conditions [4].

Wind energy is a secondary effect of solar energy because wind is created by the atmosphere’s absorption of the Sun’s thermal energy in combination with the Coriolis force effect [5]. This is based on the rotation of the Earth coupled with atmospheric pressure differences relating to elevation, mountains, and the like [6].

Hydro power from dammed rives is also a secondary effect of solar energy. The movement of water in the Earth’s vast system of rivers occurs because of solar energy. This happens as seawater is evaporated, forms clouds, and ultimately water is released as rain and snow keeping our rivers full and flowing out to sea from higher elevations propelled by gravity. Unlike solar and wind, hydropower can consistently produce material but limited amounts of energy….

Appendix 1

Energy Flux Density Comparisons

Energy density is the amount of energy stored in a given system or region of space per unit volume. Specific energy is the amount of energy stored per unit mass (weight.) Only the useful or extractable energy is measured. It is useful to compare the energy densities of various energy sources. At the top of the list is fusion followed by nuclear fission and then hydrocarbon fuels derived from petroleum, coal and natural gas. At the bottom of the list are batteries which either generate energy or store energy as well as “renewable energy” such as solar….

Comparison of conventional fuel energy density

Comparison of “renewable” energy density

1 How much solar power per cubic meter is there? The volume of the space between a one-meter-square patch on Earth and the center of our orbit around the sun is 50 billion cubic meters (the earth is 150 billion meters from the sun, or 4,000 earth circumferences). Dividing the usable 100 watts per square meter by this volume, yields two-billionths of a watt per cubic meter. Sunlight takes about eight minutes(499 seconds) to reach the earth. Multiplying 499 seconds by twenty-six billionths of a W/m3 reveals that solar radiation has an energy density of 1.5 microjoules per cubic meter (1.5 x 10-6 J/m3).

2 The only way to extract thermal energy from the atmosphere is to construct an insulated pipe between it and a reservoir at lower temperature (preferably a much lower one). This is how geothermal heat pumps work. Typical ground temperature is 52F (284 K). On a 90F day, such a system has a peak efficiency of 7%, and a power density of only 0.05 mW/m3 (Stopa and Wojnarowski 2006): typical surface power fluxes for geothermal wells are on the order of 50 mW/m2 and have typical depths of 1 km. To find the energy density, a characteristic time must be included. The time used should be that of the time required for water being pumped into the ground to circulate through the system once. This number is on the order of ten days (Sanjuan et al. 2006). The resulting energy density is 0.05 J/m3, or roughly two to three orders of magnitude lower than wind or waves.

3 Wind is driven by changes in weather patterns, which in turn are driven by thermal gradients. Tides are driven by fluctuations in gravity caused by lunar revolutions. The energy densities of wind and water systems are proportional to the mass, m, moving through them, and the square of the speed, v, of this mass, or ½mv2. At sea level, air with a density of about one kilogram per cubic meter moving at five meters per second (ten miles per hour) has a kinetic energy of 12.5 joules per cubic meter. Applying Betz’s Law, which limits efficiency to 59% (Betz 1926), yields about seven joules per cubic meter. Thus, wind energy on a moderately windy day is over a million times more energy-dense than solar energy....

Some of my popular BWorld articles

When my column or article in BusinessWorld/Opinion appears online the night before publication, usually between 9:30 to 11:30 pm, I announce it via the 5 buttons in BWorld: fb like, fb share, twitter, google+ and linkedin. Some of my fb friends, twitter followers, others would check my article so that by midnight, it would be #1 or #2 most read article in BWorld. For several minutes, or few hours.

Like these, the date and time are indicated in the bottom right side of each image. All #1 except the PH power generation under WESM, which was #2.

The 3 panels on the left: Tax reform was #2, population base #1, and China trade also #1. Right panel, my paper last week on Hobbes, Alinsky and Duterte was #1 online for many hours. I checked again after 23 hours, it was #3. That paper was in the top 5 most read article for 24 hours or more.

I have heard some friends, friends of friends, saying they enjoy my less/minimal government, less taxes, free market perspective in BWorld. Thank you readers.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Labor Econ 17, On ending contractualization

Happy International Labor's Day.

During the 3rd and final Presidential debate last April 24, 2016, all five candidates said they are opposed to contractualization of labor -- getting contracts for work of 5 months or less, not reaching 6 months after which the worker should get permanent position in the company, entitled to various labor benefits and allowances.

Ending contractualization is a populist and "politically correct" position but it is actually an anti-labor policy. The best labor policy is to allow, encourage workers to become start up entrepreneurs and small capitalists themselves. Tying the hands of entrepreneurs in hiring workers will result in less workers being hired. Get only 1 worker, multi-skilled, talented, ambitious, to do the job of 2-4 people, and give that worker high salaries, benefits.

If there is automatic security of tenure for workers upon hiring, why would they aspire to become efficient if they cannot be fired? If mandatory security of tenure is assured for workers, then entrepreneurs will hire as few workers as possible, only the highly talented, ambitious, multi-skilled will be hired; give them more high power computers and machines. And millions of less-skilled, less talented ones will not be hired.

If people cannot be hired by others, then they should hire themselves through self-employment and entrepreneurship, as outsource service provider to more financially stable companies and individuals.

Which implies that certain government regulations that bureaucratize entrepreneurship should be drastically reduced if not abolished. Job creation -- to others or to oneself -- is not a crime. Hence, it should not be over-bureaucratized and over-taxed by the government. Government should step back instead.

The policy of "expensive to hire, difficult to fire" looks like wonderful protection of workers. But those who have no jobs and those who work in the informal sector are not covered by these rigid labor laws. A common result of this situation is high unemployment and underemployment rates. 

People need not aspire to become employee forever, unless they are employed in big, stable and regionally/globally competitive firms. These firms hire only the best, the most adaptable, the multi-skilled people. They can give 5x, 10x, 20x the minimum wage for these people, and they hire as few as possible. Efficient workers + machines and computers are all they need to stay big and competitive. The less-skilled people, they won't be hired. Maybe in government, the biggest employer in any country in the planet.

Who can be that "Santa Claus" who can give seed capital to the poor, government?

Nope. Government will not give money or seed capital. Government will give aspiring entrepreneurs these: Lots of permits and requirements. Even before one can start a business, pay lots of permits and fees.

It is also wrong to assume that all companies have their own "security of business tenure". A number of big companies just 10 years ago are now small or non-existent. And many big companies this year were non-existent 10 years ago.

Like these billion $ companies that didn't exist in 2005 (data from @ValaAfshar):
Uber, Airbnb,
Twitter, Snapchat,
Instagram, Fitbit,
Spotify, Dropbox,
WhatsApp, Slack,
Tumblr, Pinterest.

See also:

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Energy 63, EPDP lecture on energy planning

Last Thursday, I went to UPSE to attend this lecture. Great one, as usual. Dir. Irma Exconde is a friend, a fellow UPSE-PDE alumni, her batch in 2002 was 4 years younger than mine.

Dir. Tamang discussed the process in crafting the PH energy plan (PEP) and the Power development plan (PDP). I told Dir. Irma that with the long process of consultations and meetings to produce a national plan, I really would have no patience working in government.

Then Irma discussed the important aspects of the PEP and PDP, 2015-2030. Among the slides she presented, below. In Luzon grid last year 2015, rated or installed capacity by coal was only 35% of total but actual electricity contribution was 49% of total.

In contrast, oil/diesel power plants, installed cap was 16% but actual contribution was only 1%. Why, because they are used only as peaking or peak load plants, they run only for few hours a day on weekdays, on high demand hours and are not used during off-peak hours, or weekends and holidays.

For the new renewables, wind + biomass + solar is 3% of installed cap but actual electricity output only 1% of total.

I mentioned during the open forum that the DOE is subjected to environmental terrorism. If they approve more coal power plants, the DENR and CCC will go to media or in Congress to shift the blame to DOE. Known climate junketers and climate negotiators (Tony la Vina, Yeb Sano, etc.) lambast the DOE and the President why they are commissioning more coal power plants.

I also mentioned during the open forum the need for more dams and hydro power because we are entering a new era of global cooling (warming-cooling cycle, endless climate cycle), meaning more heavy rains, flooding, etc. for many years and decades to come.

Notice that in this slide, renewables like solar and wind, electricity consumers' demand, transmission, etc. have their respective plans, but no mention of coal development plan. To mention coal in public discussions seems to be "politically incorrect"... 

In the "minor" conflict between DENR+CCC+ environmental militants vs. DOE on the latter's granting of permits for more coal plants. I am on the side of the DOE. In 2015, 49% of total electricity generation in the Luzon grid came from coal power plants. Without those coal plants, or even slashing half of them, will result in massive, large-scale, daily and nightly blackouts in M.Manila and the rest of Luzon.

The anti-coal planet saviors will hate this scenario of course. They want their 24/7 electricity, they hate even a 1 minute brown out and power interruption so that they can do fb and tweet how ugly coal power is. Double talk and hypocrisy is their regular characteristic. The DOE, by allowing more coal plants, is protecting the public by securing more power supply, to be away as much as possible even from 1-minute brown outs.

As mentioned above, the actual contribution to electricity generation by solar+wind + biomass in the Luzon grid is only 1%. In case of massive, large-scale brown outs because of the anti-coal drama of DENR, CCC, climate militants, those big firms, hotels, manufacturing plants, hospitals, condos, etc. will keep their electricity. How? Lots and lots of gensets, noisy gensets that run on diesel, more dirty than coal power plants.

And the poor or lower middle class who get disconnected by Meralco or other distribution utilities (DUs) or electric cooperatives (ECs), for a few days or weeks they have no electricity, what do they use? Candles. More candles mean more fires, more destruction to private property, more injuries, more deaths.

Expensive, unstable electricity supply means more LGUs and villages have little street lights. Dark streets mean more road accidents, more crimes, more rapes and robbery. The anti-coal campaigners don't want to recognize this social problem.

Cocktails after the lecture. From left: Rodel Meris, Dir. Tamang, Prof. Ruping Alonzo (UPSE faculty and EPDP Fellow), me, Lawrence Fernandez of Meralco, and Irma.

Room was full. The 1-hour lecture became 2+ hours including Q&A.
Thanks again EPDP, for that fruitful public forum.

See also:
Energy 60, PH solar companies, PagIBIG loan for solar, March 12, 2016 

Energy 61, EPDP lecture on PH power projections by 2040, April01, 2016 

Energy 62, Feed in tariff means more expensive electricity, April 09, 2016 
Election 19, On Grace Poe's renewables coercion, April 14, 2016

BWorld 56, Thomas Hobbes, Saul Alinsky and Duterte

* This is my article in BusinessWorld last Thursday.

An electoral exercise is a process of the changing and evolving function of the state, of local and national governments as key actors -- politicians and political parties -- articulate their vision or lack of it, of where government should focus its roles and function.

Such evolution of state and governments, like markets, is often for the better, towards the rule of law and equality before the law. But sometimes it is a change for the worse, towards the rule of men, unequal application of the law and dictatorship.

Among the leading presidential candidates, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte is the odd-man-out. While the three other leading candidates -- Sen. Grace Poe, VP Jojo Binay, and Sec. Mar Roxas -- promise plenty of subsidies and new welfare programs, or expansion of existing ones, Mayor Duterte is focused on a single issue, fighting criminals, drug pushers and corrupt officials.

One of the three “social contract” theoreticians of why government was invented was Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), an English philosopher best known for his book Leviathan (1651). He described early human situation under a “state of nature” as one of endless societal conflict, impossibility of peace, and the need to invent a Commonwealth where certain human freedoms are surrendered and curtailed by a supreme ruler in exchange for peace and order in society.

Hobbes wrote in the Leviathan:

Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of Warre, where every man is Enemy to every man; the same is consequent to the time, wherein men live without other security, than what their own strength, and their own invention shall furnish them withall. In such condition, there is no place for Industry;... and which is worst of all, continuall feare, and danger of violent death; And the life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short.

-- Chapter 13, “Of the Naturall Condition of Mankind”

The Fundamental Law Of Nature... “That every man, ought to endeavour Peace, as farre as he has hope of obtaining it; and when he cannot obtain it, that he may seek, and use, all helps, and advantages of Warre.”

The Second Law Of Nature... “That a man be willing, when others are so too, as farre-forth, as for Peace, and defence of himselfe he shall think it necessary, to lay down this right to all things; and be contented with so much liberty against other men, as he would allow other men against himselfe.”

-- Chapter 14, “Of the First and Second Naturall Lawes, and of Contracts”

This is what Mayor Duterte has been hammering regularly, consciously and unconsciously. That Philippine society is rolling back somehow to a “state of nature”, a pre-government state where individuals’ actions are bound only by their own desires and restraints, where criminals and brutes rule and can victimize anyone anywhere. Hence, a need for a “social contract” and install an absolute sovereign, a strong central government with the power of the biblical Leviathan (a sea monster) and protect people from their own selfishness, protect the weak from the brutes.

During the third and final presidential debate last April 24, host Karen Davila asked Mayor Duterte, “Sabi niyo po, ‘You cannot be a President if you cannot kill. Papatay ba kayo kung kayo’y Pangulo?” (Will you really kill if you become President?) and Duterte replied, “No, it’s not the actual -- takot ka mamatay, takot kang pumatay, wag kang mag Presidente.” (If you’re afraid to die, afraid to kill, don’t run for President).

And there’s a follow up when Ms. Davila asked him, “Anong gagawin niyo sakaling malaman po ninyo na isa sa mga anak niyo ay gumagamit ng ilegal na droga?” (What will you do if you know that one of your children is using illegal drugs?) The Mayor quickly answered, “Patayin mo.” (Kill him/her)

Killing and murder, individually or by the thousands, are his “default” answer to questions related to enforcing the law. In one interview, he promised to kill 100,000 more criminals and drug pushers nationwide if he wins the Presidency.

Saul Alinsky (1909-1972), a Jewish American community organizer and writer, became famous worldwide as the founder of modern community organizing through his famous book, Rules for Radicals (1971).

There are 13 key rules in that book that proved to be generally effective in organizing successful mass movement and collective action. Five of those rules seem to work for Mayor Duterte:

3. “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.” The other Presidential candidates promise endless welfarism and subsidies, controlling and killing many criminals is beyond their expertise.

5. “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” Constant use of cusswords “P--- ina”, “bayot/bakla”, “go to hell” are powerful ridicules that decent politicians and statesmen and women are less prepared to deal with.

6. “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.” Again, frequent use of cusswords, gutter politics, sexist jokes, even making fun of rape-murder Australian victim three decades ago.

7. “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.” He keeps producing new attacks, new antics that his political competitors can only raise their eyebrows in disbelief. Like his plan to go to the Spratly islands on a jetski, plant the Philippine flag and let the Chinese Navy to kill him if they like.

9. “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.” Saying that he killed 1,700 criminals in Davao City alone, and promise to kill 100,000 more criminals if he becomes President, make people wonder whether he is joking but his followers take him seriously, impatient about rampant criminality in many parts of the country, whether real or imagined.

One important revelation of this campaign period is that the masa after all, are not so enamored with more welfarism, subsidies populism, and more environmentalism. Rather, they are more concerned with peace and order, physical annihilation of criminals and the corrupt.

Duterte has shifted the debate on the “raison d’etre” or reason for existence of government: Not welfarism and populism, but protection of the people’s 3 freedoms: freedom of private property, freedom from aggression and bullies, and freedom of expression. Somehow this is good.

He has played out this hunger by the public. The welfarists including the UN, foreign aid bodies and their consultants are wrong to persist in welfarism to “fight inequality” as an important election issue. People, even the poor, can live with inequality. What they cannot tolerate is more criminality, more stealing, legal or illegal/outright robbery.

And by riding on this public hunger to control criminality, Duterte is promising more criminality, of state-sponsored murders to achieve that goal. Duterte in effect will be violating the people’s three freedoms without realizing it.

Duterte is a dangerous candidate. He should not win. The problem is that the other leading presidential candidates are showing little capacity to snatch the lead. One practical but seemingly improbable scenario is a consolidation of votes of two least-opposing candidates, that of Sen. Poe and Sec. Roxas. But it seems that the probability of a Duterte victory is higher than the probability of this consolidation of forces.

Bienvenido S. Oplas, Jr. is the head of Minimal Government Thinkers, a Fellow of SEANET and member of the Economic Freedom Network (EFN) Asia.

See also: 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Drug Price Control 43, Mar Roxas and the Cheaper medicines law of 2008

During the 3rd and final Presidential debate last Sunday, Sec. Mar Roxas said, "Alam mo, Karen, sa kasaysayan ko, binangga ko mga malalaking interes. Pharmaceutical industry, cheaper medicine law, banking industry..."

Then a friend reposted a comment from someone attacking the Secretary saying, "You (Mar) lied by proclaiming you are instrumental in cutting the prices of medicines. On July 2009, there was a Senate press release....

"...Authors of the Cheaper Medicines Act in the House or Representatives urged Roxas to support the move to reinstate provisions on automatic price regulation.

"Authors of the Act in the House noted that Roxas vehemently opposed the automatic price regulation, which is the 'heart and soul' of the House version because it could have reduced the prices of more or less 1,600 medicines by at least 50 percent," Sen. Loren Legarda said in response to a question by members of the audience after her speech.

"Mar's amendments on the Cheaper Medicines Act killed the spirit of that law, and instead set a limit to its mandate in regulating pharmaceutical companies' pricing practices," Loren stressed.

The drug price control policy of 2009 affected about 20 or so molecules, usually the most saleable products by multinational pharma. What Cong. Biron, even Sen. Manny Villar, also Sen. Loren? wanted was the creation of a new bureaucracy, the drug price regulation board (DPRB) with a new set of bureau directors, asst directors, staff, office, travel, etc. to be incorporated in the cheaper medicines law of 2008 (RA 9502).

That law was mainly about amending the intellectual property (IP) code so that some newly-invented, patented medicines by multinational pharma, the patent can be confiscated by the government so that local pharma like Unilab will benefit, they can also manufacture and make good profit of those newly-invented medicines. The chapter on price control was a rider in the law, not part of the original draft bill.

So did Mar lie on his role in the cheaper medicines law?

No. He delivered on that amendment to the IP Code, something that I personally did not support, but the law was created nonetheless. Mar was correct in opposing the creation of that permanent bureaucracy DPRB (likely would have been headed by ex-Cong. Biron) and endless drug price control policy.

The threat of patent confiscation by the state from innovator pharma to local generic pharma (silent cronyism actually) created some downward pressure on patented drugs. The off-patent drugs that constitute about 95% of all essential medicines list (EML) of the DOH, again off-patent, are not affected by that law.

The advocates of the creation of DPRB are mostly socialists, explicit or implicit, or plain bureaucrat extortionists. They argue that private pricing of their products is wrong, it should be the state that should price those products. Then the state and the price bureaucrats may allow some pharma products not to be included in the mandatory price control, in exchange for bribes and extortion.

The world health org (WHO) has its global essential medicines list (EML) and from what I read once, 99% of them were off-patent, meaning only 1% of those EMLs in the WHO list are newly-invented and still patented ones. In the DOH's EML, I read that it's between 90-95% are off-patent. Meaning RA 9502 has zero effect on these non-patented, non-IP protected medicines. Like the famous anti-fever paracetamol molecule, it's been off patent since 30 or more years ago.

Generics medicine was given a huge boost since 1988, the Generics law under DOH Sec. Flavier. So the cheaper medicines law of 2008 (20 years after) has contributed very little to generics promotion. The compulsory licensing (CL) and special CL provisions of RA 9502 were also meant to align PH's IP law with WHO's TRIPS flexibilities. 

Funny thing about drug price control/regulation, the head of PCPI, the local pharma lobby, said during one DOH meeting that perhaps it's the first time that the local pharma + multinational pharma (represented by PHAP) were united in opposing a govt policy. Before, it was easy for them to take a stand. If PHAP takes position A, PCPI almost always takes position B that's opposed to A.

Death from infectious or communicable diseases is falling worldwide. So since all of us, 100% of us will die anyway, that means that more and more of us will die of non-infectious diseases, like cancer, stroke, hypertension, etc. That is where many of medicines innovation are directed, like there are perhaps 200 different types of cancer, then varieties like a patient with prostate cancer + diabetes vs a patient with prostate cancer + hypertension vs a patient with prostate cancer only.

Also during the 3rd and final Presidential debate, Sen. Miriam Santiago said that her physician sister or friend said that there are new anti-cancer drugs that come out in the US almost every week. These are never-heard before, not part of "orig" nature, science-invented molecules and medicines. They are very expensive, to compensate for very high cost of R&D and long processes of clinical trials, and usually very effective. Miriam added that she feels like new, so alive, because of the new medicines she is taking but are very expensive.

Actually the most expensive medicines are those that don't work. Even a P1 tablet is "expensive" if it does not heal a patient, if it allows the disease to evolve into something more sinister and fatal inside a person's body. A drug that costs P1 M or P5M treatment but can heal a cancer patient, can be considered "cheap" if a patient survives to live more years or decades of productive life.

See also: 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Climate Tricks 52, Counting temp. change only from the end of LIA

This month proves to be the hottest month of the year almost always. Generally cloudless sky although there are days that the clouds would be staying for a few hours. The consolation is that this big El Nino of 2015-2016 will end soon, when it touches the threshold 0.5 C temperature anomaly.

Bloomberg produced this drama story, Earth's Temperature Just Shattered the Thermometer.
Haha, the earth is 4.6 B years old, and the UN and others' baseline is the past 140+ years only? Clever starting point because that was also the end of the little ice age (LIA). Global temp has no way to go but up.

Honest research should go back to temp records over the past 2,000 years, 400,000 years, 1 million years, 1 billion years, etc. There are many paleo-climate data that are freely available on the web.

Plato was born nearly 2,500 years ago (424 BC). He was older than the medieval warm period (MWP), the Roman warm period (RWP). What was the global temp during his time compared to current global temp.? Much warmer. See the start of the graph, on the left.

Climate change (CC) is true, it has happened in the past, happening now. But CC is mainly natural (nature-made, not man-made) and cyclical (not 'unprecedented"). Climate changes from warming to cooling to warming to cooling to .... endless cycle. Now, big El Nino is fading, so what's next? Big La Nina. Like this El nino- La Nina cycle since 1950.

The last big El Nino was in 1997-98, Presidential election period too. I heard that many farmers in Mindanao were even selling their votes for as low as P50/head because they were so desperate. But at least no road occupation then, unlike the recent Kidapawan road occupation.

We still need environmental protection -- like converting low-lying areas into lakes, man-made lakes. For the rivers of Bulacan and Pampanga in particular, they need lots and lots of huge and sustained dredging, will require tens of billions of pesos perhaps, as we prepare for rising rivers and lakes, not rising ocean.

Here's the latest projection for La Nina -- by mid June this year or two months away. For how long, until 2017 or even beyond.

Yesterday, "Earth Day" and many government leaders in NYC were saying "we need more money to fight man-made warming and CC" by signing the Paris COP 21 agreement. More money, more UN power, more environmental regulations and energy taxation/subsidies. More carbon confusion and simply more government.

See also:

Climate Tricks 51, The CCC, Greenpeace and fossil fuels, February 01, 2016

BWorld 55, FIT-All, renewables and elections 2016

* This is my article in BusinessWorld yesterday.

The increase in feed in tariff-allowance (FIT-All) has been approved by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) recently. As a result, Meralco and all other distribution utilities nationwide will be collecting 12.40 centavos per kWh of electricity consumption starting this month. The amount is higher than higher than 4.06 centavos/kWh that was collected in 2015.

Even consumers from Mindanao -- an island not connected to the Visayas and Luzon grids -- will pay this FIT. If Mindanao consumers are spared of this additional charge, the FIT-All will be much larger in Luzon and the Visayas, which host an increasing number of wind and solar farms. Another FIT hike will be expected next year.

Unlike the previous electricity price hikes that met a big public backlash, such as the price hikes of P4+/kWh in November-December 2013 which should go back to old rates after two or three months, FIT additional collections are not short term but long term and can last 20 to 30 years or more.

The Philippines has the highest electricity prices in the ASEAN and has the second-highest in Asia, next to Japan. This is not good especially if we are serious in attracting more investments that can give more jobs to more Filipinos (see graph).

There are many factors why this is so, among which are the various taxes, fees, and royalties imposed by the Philippine government on energy sources (like the natural gas royalty from Malampaya gas field in Palawan) and on companies themselves.

In the coming general elections next month, all presidential candidates support more renewables. Sen. Grace Poe even proposed that power distributors should be “compelled” to use renewable energy. Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is explicit in supporting more coal power plants, and administration candidate Mar Roxas supports the use cleaner fossil fuel like natural gas, along with renewables.

Among Senatoriables, it is weird that former DoE Secretary Jericho Petilla would even blame some provisions of the EPIRA law of 2001 for the high cost of electricity in the country, saying that the law prevents the government from putting up new power plants that can help rival private generation companies.

Government-owned National Power Corporation (NPC) used to be the sole power plant owner and operator nationwide. Instead of bringing down the cost of electricity while raising power capacity, NPC has largely succeeded in piling up huge amount of debts, mountains of debts hundreds of billions of pesos, that it could not pay and hence, were ultimately passed on to taxpayers.

Renewable sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, and hydroelectric have the following characteristics that are dissimilar to conventional sources like coal and natural gas. Among these are: (1) zero or near-zero variable operations and maintenance (O&M) cost, but (2) low capacity factor or actual electricity production relative to its rated capacity, except geothermal, (3) high levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) and, (4) generally higher electricity prices if subsidies are not given.

LCOE is a good summary measure of the overall competitiveness of different power generation technologies representing the per kWh cost of building and operating a power plant over an assumed financial life and duty cycle.

Here is the LCOE in the US four years from today. The capacity factor is generally higher compared to those in developing countries like the Philippines (see table).

When the Renewable Energy (RE) Act of 2008 (RA 9513) was created, a lot of subsidies were put in the law that effectively pampered developers of renewables like solar, wind, and biomass. Among these are the: (1) feed in tariff-allowance (FIT-All), (2) priority and mandatory dispatch into the grid, (3) renewable portfolio standards (RPS) or the minimum share of renewables in power generation, and (4) various fiscal incentives.

The list of those various subsidies and incentives, FIT rates in Germany and the Philippines, are also discussed in my earlier article, “Feed in tariff means more expensive electricity” published by the Albert del Rosario Institute (ADRi) blog, Spark.

A FIT that increases every year -- which has already taken place in Germany, UK and other European economies, and now in the Philippines -- means rising electricity prices even if generation, transmission, distribution, supply, and various other fees and tax rates remain the same.

So far, it seems that not a single candidate for a national position has openly criticized this setup of ever-rising electricity prices in the country. On the contrary, some candidates even justify expensive electricity so that we can help “save the planet.”

Expensive electricity means more dark streets at night as LGUs, villages, and households save on their monthly electricity bills. When many streets and roads are dark at night, there are more road accidents, more destruction of public and private properties, more crimes, more rapes, injuries, and deaths.

Worse, when some households’ electricity connection is temporarily cut off due to non-payment, people have to use candles for a few hours or days, and candles are among the major causes of fires. These social costs are often avoided or not recognized by the campaigners of expensive, unstable renewables.

Expensive electricity also means less businesses and jobs that can potentially be created here. Energy-intensive companies and manufacturing plants will try to avoid investing in the Philippines -- where electricity prices are expensive -- since they will put up their factories and big offices in ASEAN countries with lower energy costs, then export to the Philippines at zero tariff. They only rent smaller offices here to facilitate business transactions.

As a developing and emerging economy, we should have cheaper electricity, bigger power capacity and reserves to ensure 24/7 availability of power, even in periods of huge spikes in electricity demand or damaged power facilities due to strong storms or earthquakes.

Bienvenido S. Oplas, Jr. is the head of Minimal Government Thinkers, a Fellow of SEANET and Albert del Rosario Institute.

See also: