Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Plan Bay Area: Urban Planning as a Form of 21st Century Illogical Dictatorship. Part 2

Part 2 is lawsuit galore. Barely two weeks after its acceptance by Bay area planning and transit agencies, Plan Bay Area was Sued From the Right and the Left!  Of course the myopic view of Sierra Club forces them to sue the Plan for daring support some highway transportation.  As I have demonstrated in my critique of the Plan, its emphasis on transit is totally wrong. Sierra Club wants more emphasis on top of emphasis on transit. It is quite clear to me that the title Lunatic Left is becoming a fundamental characterization.

Plan Bay Area: Urban Planning as a Form of 21st Century Illogical Dictatorship. Part 1

Part 1 by Wendell Cox explains why the well intentioned Plan Bay Area makes the wrong assumptions and picks the wrong solutions. As a result it barely makes the pollution targets they are after!  Sample estimates by Cox are shown the picture below.  Telling people what to do is not the way to do it.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Next 100 MW Power Plant for Oahu

Gabriel El-Swaify, recent Masters graduate from the Department of Civil Engineering at UH-Manoa, describes his analysis leading to the best choice for "The Next 100 MW Power Plant on Oahu" that he conducted as part of his graduate study. I was the supervisor of this analysis.

Gabriel analyzed both renewable (e.g., wind) and traditional feedstock (e.g., coal) for power plants. He also accounted for land use (land acreage needed for the plant and its accessories) and long term maintenance as well as stand-by power requirements when renewable sources are not available.

Waste-to-energy and Geothermal power plants are among the best choices as explained in this installment of my O'lelo show PANOS 2050: Solutions for a Sustainable Hawaii.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Electric Vehicles Are Here to Stay. In Moderate Numbers.

The MIT Review titles the infographic below: Electric Vehicles are Here to Stay.

Yes, but the case for them is not particularly strong and their market penetration will be small for a very long time, for two big reasons.  One is EV's marginal environmental benefit. The infographic clearly shows that the big improvement comes when a gasoline-powered vehicle is converted to hybrid: Its emissions drop from 0.87 pounds of CO2 per mile to 0.57 pounds per mile. All the fuss to get to EV cuts CO2 down only to 0.54 pounds per mile (and probably leaves a much bigger problem with battery recycling at the end.) In addition this estimate does not likely account for all the charging infrastructure that is being installed from scratch.

The second reason is the affordable price of fuel, gasoline in particular. It will be priced at around $4 per gallon for a long time thanks to major forces that work against major price increases, such as:
  1. Hydraulic fracturing of fracking for natural gas extraction, which curbs the demand for oil by vast amounts. (In 2000 fracking yielded 1% of the natural gas production in the US. In 2010 it yielded 20% of the production. A breakneck acceleration in such a capital intensive industry thanks to my fellow Greek and father of fracking George Phydias Mitchell.)
  2. Sustained oil prices in the $50 to $100 per barrel make expensive explorations affordable, so a healthy supply of oil will be available to satiate the increasing demands of the developing world.
  3. Substantially decreased demand for gasoline due to the popularity of high mpg vehicles (CAFE requirements and sales success of hybrids and plug-in hybrids; can't buy a Hummer anymore.)
  4. Less travel due to persistent high unemployment and mega economic downers such as debt, deficit, bankrupt cities and countries, and looming pension and health care social costs in the US.
  5. Continued public and private investment in renewable sources of energy.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Light-Rail to Nowhere: Honolulu, Hawaii's Train Boondoggle

The Reason Foundation provides succinct coverage of Honolulu rail. It is, of course, about politics, development and money. Lots of money. Only the gullible and the railigious believe that heavy rail from the middle of ag land to a shopping center will have any traffic relief.

Panos Prevedouros, one of the state's leading transportation experts, says the rail plan that the feds approved will siphon off state funding for the area's bus system. The project's own report, which Prevedouros says is filled with overly optimistic estimates of rail ridership, still shows that Honolulu's congestion will be worse in the future with rail. “The point of doing any cost effectiveness type of analysis is out of the window,” says Panos, “the benefits are not there.”

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered an expedited hearing for the federal rail lawsuit on August 15th.

Watch the well-made 8 minute video by Sharif Matar.