Monday, August 28, 2023

The Bhagavad Gita

I have always respected India and Indians so I thought that it was time to read something of their great holy book, written around 200BC.

I have just read the first two chapters and am very impressed. Its thoughts resonate with me. Chapter 1 sets out very vividly the folly of war. Even though I am a former member of the Australian army, war has always seemed a horror to me: So many deaths of so many good men for so little gain. I am at the moment distressed by the war in Ukraine. I have Russian and Ukrainian friends so Russian and Ukrainian deaths are horrible thoughts to me. Why can we not put that ongoing disaster to a stop? And the Hindu prince (Arjuna) in the Gita expresses grief at war very vividly. He sets out the folly of war better than I could do. He sounds very modern to me.

I am no pacifist. I accept that if we are attacked, we have to fight back. But the Bhagavad Gita questions the very essence of that. It asks what is the benefit of any attack? Nothing is worth it. The Hindu prince asks should we simply refuse to fight. Is pacifism better?

I have some sympathy for that view. Would rule by Hitler be so bad? Germans loved him. Was it worth all the bloodshed to defeat him? Hitler did after all initially just want to banish all the Jews to Palestine (The Haavara Agreement) but the British and others blocked that. Those are the sorts of doubt that the Hindu prince had in chapter 1 of the Gita. And a couple of hundred years later Jesus said much the same: "Resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also" (Matthew 5:38). That scripture has worried me since I was 14 and is why I was a pacifist in my teens

But the Gita said it first and said it much more vividly.

And in chapter 2 the Gita goes on to answer the pacifist doubts. It says your soul is indestructible so what you do in war can cause no serious harm. I don't believe in God or souls so that is no help to me. We atheists are stuck with reality.

I will read on

Saturday, August 26, 2023

7 day creation could be pagan

Did you know that, according to Genesis chapter 1 God did NOT create the heavens and the earth?  What's that?  You say.  What the heck am I talking about?

What I am talking about is what the original Hebrew  Bible says, not what the King James version or some other translation says.

You see, the original Hebrew Bible is very exact when it refers to God. It uses a specific name for him: "Yahveh" (or Jehovah in English).  I have a copy of the Hebrew Bible so does it anywhere in Genesis 1 mention the Tetragrammaton (Divine name in Hebrew)?  

It does not. The Tetragrammation is quite a short word, whereas Elohim is quite a long word.  You can't miss the difference.  What Genesis 1.1 to 1:3 says is that the Heavens and Earth were created by "Elohim", which in Hebrew means "gods", any gods.  Could be pagan gods.  Don't blame me.  That's what it says.

So what is going on?  Why is Genesis 1.1 to 1:3  so different from the rest of the Torah?  It's because that passage is what scholars politely call an  interpolation, in plain words a pious fraud.  It was not there when the original Torah was written.  It is a late addition, presumably put there by some priests.

The original creation story starts from Genesis 2:4.  And guess who gets a mention there straight away? Yahveh.  The divine name now appears.

So Genesis 1.1 to 1:3  is a document from somewhere much later than the rest of the Torah.  It dates from a time when Israelite priests had ceased using the divine name out of a fear of taking it in vain.  They used "Elohim" instead, as a respectful plural. It is quite a late document.

So Why?  Why did the priests do that? It's propaganda.  The Israelites have always had to exist among pagans and pagans all regard the Sun as a great god.  So they dedicate the first day of the week to him. So it has always been a battle for Israelites to defend their unique god.  

And one way they did that from early on was to defy custom and have their Holy day on the 7th day, not the 1st.  But that needed defending to the Israelite public.  They had to have a reason for celebrating the "wrong" day.  So in desperation the priests invented a story about God resting on the 7th day of  creation.  Keeping Saturday holy was simply following God's example.  Neat, eh?

I give a fuller account of the above matters here:


Monday, August 14, 2023


Below are four recent short posts which I think do make something of a coherent whole

August 09, 2023

Why the men are no good

Some excerpts below from an article that condemns the immaturity of most men on the dating scene.

The female author below, Karen Marie Shelton, does her best to explain why men become so unsatisfactotry to women but can come up with nothing definite. I am going to suggest that it is because she is a woman. It needs a male point of view to understand men. And I think I know a major thing she misses.

I know I will raise some hackles by saying so but I am going to suggest that men have been made selfish, unreliable and demanding because women have made them like that. Women spoil men. Men are inconsiderate, insensitive etc because they can be. Is is the "sisters" of the dissatisfied women who have made men so unsatisfactory.

OK. Why do I say that? For one reason: It is amazing what women will put up with from a man they like. Good looking men experience that regularly but even average-looking men like me experience it.

I am just going to give one example from my own life that I think drives home the point.

At one time I had a girlfriend who I would visit regularly at her house. Our routine was for her to cook us a dinner followed by a trip to her bedroom. And we went well together in that department. But she would get such a blast out of sex that she would fall asleep at about 9:30, whereupon I would make my exit and go home.

And when I walked into my bedroom at home I would find another woman in my bed waiting for me, naked under the covers. She knew perfectly well where I had just been but still wanted sex with me -- and I was able to oblige. And she was no dragon. She was rather pretty and quite bright

So what does that tell you? It tells you that women can be amazingly flexible in what they ask of a man. They can forgive the unforgiveable

So how does that affect the men concerned? It obviously makes them expect a lot of indulgence from women. And they get it. They have no reason to behave more considerately. Women not prepared to behave indugently will mostly not get what they want, sad to say.

And let's face it: What woman would not want a man who is "emotionally intelligent, kind, understanding, compassionate, and empathic" That's what the woman writing below expects.

And there are indeed some men like that. But the competition for them will be fierce. Men like that will get lots of offers and will therefore be in a position to pick the best of the available women. Most women will sooner or later have to settle for a less ideal man. And many do.

So do I have a message for the women who think most men are no good? I do. You are right. But are you any good from a man's point of view? The frankness of your answer to that will determine whether or not you have much in the way of relationships. We are all imperfect and the path of wisdom is to truly accept that. Two of the ladies in my life at present are very imperfect from certain points of view but I enjoy the company of both of them greatly

I’ve recently been watching the latest 2023 season of Peacock’s show ‘Love Island USA.’ The reality dating show features male and female singles in the 18–29 category looking for love.

Watching even a few episodes makes it painfully clear why so many men are single today.

As the show unfolds, the couple’s male or female can decide to dump their partners for other Love Islanders. This encourages a lack of loyalty, lying, cheating, hurt feelings, and drama.

Toward the end, couples have a few days to decide whether to have a more permanent relationship outside the villa. At this point in the reality dating show, the shit hits the fan.

Although there have been five seasons of the show — and I confess I binge-watched all of them — the current 2023 season has a toxic and unhinged cast.

While most female islanders seem genuine in their search for a permanent boyfriend, a long-time love, and maybe even marriage in the future, the male participants are not close.

It’s hard to begin to pick the worst of the boys.

The man-child syndrome is in full bloom

We’ve already experienced over-the-top toxic-male bullying and gaslighting from 28-year-old Victor Gonzalez.

Even though his partner, 22-year-old Carmen Kocourek, expressed a wish to go slow with the relationship, Victor continued to violate her boundaries. The rest of the women couldn’t seem to connect with him either.

Leonardo (Leo) Dionicio is a 21-year-old salesman who has already demonstrated some serious Island bed-hopping. He can’t seem to decide between two women, which allows him to act disrespectful, inappropriate, childish, or all of the above.

Harrison Luna Hans’ is also exhibiting relationship red flags. The 29-year-old diamond merchant has made it clear to all the men that he cannot be honest with his true feelings for his unsuspecting partner, Destiny Zammarra, 27.

There are so many other subplots of male immaturity and overt toxicity it’s hard to keep track of them all.

The man-child pattern is famously known as the ‘Peter Pan syndrome.’ Psychologist Dan Kiley first described in his iconic 1983 tome ‘Peter Pan Syndrome: Men Who Have Never Grown Up.’

Some psychologists use more informal terms to describe boys who refuse to become men.

A Peter Pan man-child is unreliable, struggles to form meaningful relationships, is socially and emotionally immature, may exhibit narcissistic behaviors, and often ‘mommy-zone’ their partner.

Those traits sound like many, if not most, of the guys from ‘Love Island USA.’

Although there isn’t much research on the triggers, some experts believe it might result from boys being coddled by their parents. Or conversely, they are raised in environments with strict gender roles.

The old theory that ‘boys will be boys’ or ‘boys mature slower than girls’ may have some value in this scenario.

Some might find it ‘adorable’ when men need a woman because they can’t cook, clean, do their laundry, express their emotions or handle adult responsibilities. Are all those things really that complicated?

Maybe it is if you’re a male who’s been socialized to believe it’s a woman’s responsibility to act like the mommy of the man you’re dating.

Being a man’s mommy, maid, cook, housekeeper, personal assistant, and whatever else they may want becomes incredibly exhausting, especially when a woman has their own life to manage.

It’s not like men can’t possibly know what most women seek in a relationship. It’s not some great mystery buried deep in a file cabinet somewhere.

Women have been outspoken about what they want in a man. They want one who is emotionally intelligent, kind, understanding, compassionate, and empathic.

They don’t want a self-centered man-child who’s needy, has zero emotional control, throws tantrums when things don’t go his way, and is overly focused on a woman’s looks.

Of course, not all men are like that, nor is that the only reason so many men are lonely, single, and sexless. But it’s definitely one of the reasons.

I doubt any woman in their right mind wants to babysit a fully grown-a** man. Most ‘Love Island USA’ couples don’t form long-term, off-island relationships. It’s not all that shocking, is it?

Some people speculate that the show’s producers intentionally cast immature toxic men because they want the viewers to get angry.

Is that true? Maybe. But the current season illustrates a broader problem women often face in heterosexual relationships: having to mother their partners.

August 10, 2023

Forgiving infidelity

I have  little to say about infidelity in marriages and other committed relationships because  my morality is very old fashioned.  Once in a committed relationship I don't usually look aside.  I am not "unfaithful" so there is never anything to forgive.  When women leave me they will usually have some gripes but infidelity is not one of them

But I am not always in committed relationships.  In the interval between such relationships it is not unusual for me to have two or three girlfriends at the same time.  And that is  a situation where women might conceivably feel hard done by and feel anger at the "betrayal"  So I think I might have something to add to the discussion below.

I think the discussion below is pretty moronic.  It presents itself as new and exciting wisdom but in a nutshell simply says that infidelity should be forgiven because the unfaithful one is simply "finding" themselves.  That would have to be the oldest excuse for infidelity in the book and does not even to touch on the big problem of infidelity:  The loss of trust.

It appears close to universal that lying and deception is associated with infidelity.  An unfaithful man will hide his affair from his wife for some time.  And it will be devastating to the wife when she discovers the deception.  A man in whom she confided her trust was not trustworthy at all and that will tend to upset her entire mental world.  She will have lost her condidence in her own judgment.  And recovery  from that will be very difficult and bromides about the man "finding himself" will be no help at all

So what can a man do to prevent such a devasting upset in someone for whom he still presumably cares?  I have an answer to that and it has always worked wonders for me: I don't lie to women.  And that is not as hard to do as you might think.  

Let's say you met a gorgeous female on a business trip and coupled with her.    What I would do would be to to tell immediately the other woman or women in my life something like:   "Sweetheart, I met this  attractive woman on my trip and we did go to bed together.  I think it will be a passing thing but at any event I will not hide it from you. I will make sure that you are kept aware of anything relevant."  

The admission might be upsetting but her confidence in you as honest and trustworthy will have been preserved. You will gain credit as an honest man. There may still be upset about your revelation  but the lady with be profoundly comforted by your trust in telling her everything.  You will be trusted in return.

And even in a committed relationship that strategy should be enormously beneficial.  What works for me in more casual relationships should work well in general.  It is certainly what I would recommend

And let me allude once more to what I pointed out recently:    It is amazing what a woman will put up with from a man they like.  I gave a rather vivid example of that. So I have some confidence that even in a committed relationship, honesty about infidelity would often preserve good will and trust

On the topic of honesty, let me give one more anecdote.  I was for some years married to a bright, shapely and good natured lady.  I was a lucky man.  And she had an equally bright friend who I came to like.  I eventually decided that I would like to sleep with that friend.  So what did I do?  Did I scheme to make an arrangement behind my wife's back that  would enable me to sleep with that friend?  Not at all.  I told my wife that I fancied her friend. Did she rage and scream?  Not at all. She arranged for her friend and me to get together.  In the event I didn't feel right to go ahead with it but  I think you can again see the great benefit of being honest.

I obviously have somewhat unusual relationships but I think there is something to be learned from them.   I have certainty had a good life with no angry woman in it at any time

I discovered Esther Perel a few years ago through a TED Talk.

She spoke about relationships and examined why people cheat. But it wasn’t just any TED Talk — it was more like an awakening. Perel, a Belgian psychotherapist and author, has left her mark on me. I ended up reading her books, saving her podcasts, and coming back to them every now and then.

I started reading The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity about three years ago, and I still haven’t finished it — only because I don’t want to. Every single page holds insurmountable wisdom and information. I would spend many days and nights reflecting on an idea or a particular discovery.

Perel has revisited modern relationships and given them a new meaning. She discusses marriage, infidelity, love, and monogamy like nobody else. Her ideas are new, rational, and sometimes shocking. To read and accept them, one must be brave.

Perel was the first to tell us that having an affair doesn’t mean the end of a relationship. And having an affair doesn’t always mean there’s something missing in the relationship — it means there’s something missing within us. She puts it like this:

“We are not looking for another lover so much as another version of ourselves.”

In a world that associates cheating with endings, Perel shatters our inherited perceptions and tells us that cheating could serve as a window to something totally different and new.

After years of reading and watching Perel, I wholeheartedly believe that we need a certain level of openness and readiness to welcome her ideas.

Here’s a glimpse of what Perel has in store for everyone who has ever been in a relationship:
“Divorce happens now not because we are unhappy, but because we could be happier.”

“Sometimes, when we seek the gaze of another, it isn’t our partner we are turning away from, but the person we have become. We are not looking for another lover so much as another version of ourselves.”

“There is never ‘the one.’ There is a one that you choose and with whom you decide that you want to build something. But in my opinion, there could also have been others.”

“The grand illusion of committed love is that we think our partners are ours. In truth, their separateness is unassailable, and their mystery is forever ungraspable. As soon as we can begin to acknowledge this, sustained desire becomes a real possibility.”

“However authentic the feelings of love, the dalliance was only ever meant to be a beautiful fiction.”

“When we select a partner, we commit to a story, yet we remain forever curious. What other stories could we have been part of? Affairs offer us a window into those other lives, a peek at the stranger within. Adultery is often the revenge of the deserted possibilities.”

“Until now monogamy has been the default setting, and it sits on the premise (however unrealistic) that if you truly love, you should no longer be attracted to others.”

“Sex is about where you can take me, not what you can do to me.”

“Today, we turn to one person to provide what an entire village once did: a sense of grounding, meaning, and continuity. At the same time, we expect our committed relationships to be romantic as well as emotionally and sexually fulfilling. Is it any wonder that so many relationships crumble under the weight of it all?”

“But one theme comes up repeatedly: affairs as a form of self-discovery, a quest for a new (or a lost) identity. For these seekers, infidelity is less likely to be a symptom of a problem, and is more often described as an expansive experience that involves growth, exploration, and transformation.”

“Monogamy used to mean one person for life. Now monogamy means one person at a time.”

“Our partners do not belong to us; they are only on loan, with an option to renew — or not. Knowing that we can lose them does not have to undermine commitment; rather, it mandates an active engagement that long-term couples often lose. The realization that our loved ones are forever elusive should jolt us out of complacency, in the most positive sense.”

“It’s hard to experience desire when you’re weighted down by concern.”

“If you start to feel that you have given up too many parts of yourself to be with your partner, then one day you will end up looking for another person in order to reconnect with those lost parts.”

“Acceptance doesn’t mean predictability. Sex isn’t always for 11 at night — it’s also ‘meet at a hotel room at noon.’ What you feel during dating can exist at home, if you don’t suffocate it.”

August 11, 2023

Additionally ...

Ok. Ok..  I have had a bit of correspondence about my recent posts involving mention of my personal life.  Several men have been fascinated by my story of finding an attractive female form under the covers of my bed when I got home.  They want to know how they can arrange something similar!  Seriously, though, despite having only average looks I have had a lot of fine women flitting in and out of my life over the years, including 4 marriages.  My life story would make incels suicidal.  So how do I do it?

I can and will give an exact and succinct answer to that but before I do, I want to stress that I personally do NOT regard myself as a great success with women.  I see myself as more of a failure.  As my 4 marriages attest, I am very marriage-minded and at age 80 I find myself unmarried.  That is a great regret to me.  I do still have 4 fine women calling on me regularly but none stay all day which is what I would like.

So on to the point of this post:  How have I managed to attract many fine women into my life?  I am afraid my answer is a rather brutal one, that will not be of much help to anyone else.  I have always said that I am attractive to only about 2% of women but 2% is a lot of women. So who are those 2%?  They are unusually bright women.  

Women greatly dislike having man in their life who is dumber than they are and in the end they usually cannot stand it.  They just cannot respect him.  And the smarter the woman gets the bigger the problem that is for her.  The top-scoring ones have a devil of a job finding a man who is at least as smart as they are.  Smart men are a small minority to start with and such men often use their smarts to find a suitable lady fairly early on in life so are not long "on the market".

And that is where I come in. I am a genuine top-scorer in IQ.  I ran Sydney Mensa for a number of years.  So when a very bright lady encounters me it can be like finding water in the desert to her.  And I don't have to be all that good in other ways -- such as looks.  For the sake of having conversations on her own level, she will put up with a lot.

Let me give just two examples of the sort of conversation concerned:

I was sitting in her living-room with a very highly educated lady.  We were both reading but reading different things.  She piped up at one stage and asked me:  "What does "peynted" mean?  I replied immediately:  "It is Middle English for "painted".  That was the correct answer and what she needed -- as she had been trying to decipher a Middle English poem at the time. But 99% of women would not even know what Middle English was.  They would certainly not be prone to reading poetry written 600 years ago.  But high IQ people can be  that weird

Another episode was with one of my current girlfriends.  She is very bright and intellectual but is from Serbia.  So her cultural awareness is East of most of mine -- from Germany to Russia.  She has only a nodding acquaintance with English literature. So  recently she asked me something about Rilke.  Rilke who?  Rainer  Maria Rilke to be precise.  I not only knew who he was but had read some of his poems in the original German.  I even showed off a bit by pronouncing his name using Die gehobene Sprache, which was more than she can do.

So very bright women can be very advantageous.  They are usually pretty good-looking too.  But to be accepted by them you usually need to be on their level or higher and only your genes can take you there.  I do know women who have accepted a less intelligent man into their lives in return for various advantages but they know the bargain they have struck and live with it.  They are however derisive of their man on occasions, which is sad.

August 13, 2023

No mystery at all

Ted Bauer has encountered something he doesn't understand.  A lady said in his hearing something that is a mystery to him.  Yet it is in fact very common.  It even has a name:  The ‘intimacy-desire paradox’.  One description of it:

"That which we desire most in a relationship (read: security and comfort) rarely coexists with that which keeps us attracted to a partner (read: passion and sexual intimacy).

It’s a frustrating contradiction some sex therapists refer to as the ‘intimacy-desire paradox’. In short, this hypothesis proposes the more comfortable we are with someone, the more our sexual desire for them is likely to decline.

Which makes sense, given desire is essentially the result of wanting something we don’t already possess"

In plain terms sexual desire tends to fall off within established couples.  The commonest example is where the man  in a young marriage expects sex every night but the lady is not nearly as  keen.  It can be a source of friction.

When the crisis will strike is however a  bit unpredicable. Some men still want it every night even into their sixties and the women go along with it to keep a problem marriage alive.  As long as the guy uses lube there is no problem.  

In the particular case I have in mind, there was no loss of overall desire in the lady concerned. She was occasionally having great times with a much younger man. She is a respectable High School teacher by day.  I did not get even a kiss from her.

But that is an extreme case.  In one of my relationships I lost interest in sex with my lady after only 6 months while in a subsequent relationship we were still going strong after 7 years.  The emotions involved make a difference.

So what Ted has encountered is desire that has diminished to the point where it is a chore.  But the only odd thing about it is that the feeling was broadcast so publicly.  Her feelings were perfectly normal for her age and were known to be so

I get very confused about gender dynamics and relationship dynamics almost constantly, which shouldn’t be that surprising if you consider that I am divorced and remarried — and, like most 40-something males, I don’t have a ton of friends swirling around me. I have no idea what I’m doing in most relationships, which might explain why I write about relationships and friendships constantly. It’s an effort to explain some of the stuff I cannot seem to grasp. I just psychoanalyzed myself. Should I now bill myself $200 for this hour?

About two years ago, I was at some social event. I think it was related to horses because of where I live. About five feet over from me, there was a table of women in their 30s. I knew two of the seven, and maybe four of the seven’s husbands. I am not really “friends” with any of them.

One lady gets up and loudly announces to her girlfriends/mom friends:  “Well, (name of husband) turns 37 tonight. Guess I gotta go home and fuck.”

Admittedly this is one statement by one woman in one town at one moment in history, but it was still kinda impactful to me for a few reasons:

If it was his birthday that day — and in this specific case I do know they have children — why was she at this thing and not spending time with him and their kids?

Why is having sex with your husband a chore? (I know for many it is.)

Why is it a prerequisite on a birthday?

Why was it said with such resignation and an eye roll, and elicited laughter from the other ladies there?


Thursday, August 10, 2023

The Ivanpah debacle

Three reports:

February 18, 2014

Horror at the world's largest solar farm days after it opens as it is revealed panels are SCORCHING birds that fly over them

Environmentalists have hit out at a giant new solar farm in the Mojave Desert as mounting evidence reveals birds flying through the extremely hot 'thermal flux' surrounding the towers are being scorched.

After years of regulatory tangles around the impact on desert wildlife, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System opened on Thursday but environmental groups say the nearly 350,000 gigantic mirrors are generating 1000 degree Fahrenheit temperatures which are killing and singeing birds.

According to compliance documents released by developer BrightSource Energy last year, dozens of birds were found injured at the site during the building stage.

State and federal regulators are currently conducting a two-year study of the Ivanpah plant's effects on birds, with environmental groups questioning the the value of cleaner power when native wildlife is being killed or injured.

Ivanpah, a joint project uniting NRG Energy Inc., Google Inc. and BrightSource Energy, can produce enough electricity to power 140,000 homes.

Larger projects are on the way, but for now, Ivanpah is being described as a marker for the United States' emerging solar industry.

While solar power accounts for less than one per cent of the nation's power output, thousands of projects from large, utility-scale plants to small production sites are under construction or being planned, particularly across the sun-drenched Southwest.

'The opening of Ivanpah is a dawn of a new era in power generation in the United States,' said Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group. 'We are going to be a global leader in solar generation.'

The plant's dedication comes as government continues to push for development of greener, cleaner power.

President Barack Obama has mounted a second-term drive to combat climate change, proposing first-ever limits on carbon pollution from new and existing power plants.

His plan aims to help move the U.S. from a coal-dependent past into a future fired by wind and solar power, nuclear energy and natural gas.

According to U.S. Energy Information Administration data, the cost of building and operating a new solar thermal power plant over its lifetime is greater than generating natural gas, coal or nuclear power.

It costs a conventional coal plant $100, on average, to produce a megawatt-hour of power, but that figure is $261 for solar thermal power, according to 2011 estimates.

The figures do not account for incentives such as state or federal tax credits that can impact the cost.

Ken Johnson, a spokesman for the solar association, said in a statement that solar systems have seen 'dramatic price declines' in the last few years.

That's good for utilities in California, which must obtain a third of their electricity from solar and other renewable sources by 2020.

The Ivanpah site, about 45 miles southwest of Las Vegas, has virtually unbroken sunshine most of the year and is near transmission lines that carry power to consumers.

Using technology known as solar-thermal, more than 300,000 computer-controlled mirrors roughly the size of a garage door reflect sunlight to boilers atop 459-foot towers. The sun's power is used to heat water in the boilers' tubes and make steam, which drives turbines to create electricity.

While many people are familiar with rooftop solar, or photovoltaic panels, 'these are a little bit different. This takes the sun's rays and reflects them onto towers,' said NRG spokesman Jeff Holland.

The plant can be a startling sight for drivers heading toward Las Vegas along busy Interstate 15. Amid miles of rock and scrub, its vast array of 7-by-10-foot mirrors creates the image of an ethereal lake shimmering atop the desert floor. In fact, it's built on a dry lakebed.

Google announced in 2011 that it would invest $168million in the project. As part of its financing, BrightSource also lined up $1.6billion in loans guaranteed by the U.S. Energy Department.

Ivanpah can be seen as a success story and a cautionary tale, highlighting the inevitable trade-offs between the need for cleaner power and the loss of fragile, open land. The California Energy Commission concluded that while the solar plant would impose 'significant impacts on the environment ... the benefits the project would provide override those impacts.'

Such disputes are likely to continue for years as more companies seek to develop solar, wind and geothermal plants on land treasured by environmentalists who also support the growth of renewable energy. At issue is what is worth preserving and at what cost, as California pushes to generate more electricity from renewable sources.

In 2012, the federal government established 17 'solar energy zones' in an attempt to direct development to land it has identified as having fewer wildlife and natural-resource obstacles. The zones comprise about 450 square miles in six states — California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico.

The Western Watershed Project is continuing to push a lawsuit against federal agencies that reviewed the Ivanpah project. Its California director, Michael J. Connor, said alternatives to the site were not considered and serious environmental impacts, including fragmenting the tortoise population, were ignored.

'Do we really need to have these giant plants first, or is it better to generate solar power on people's roofs, the place it's going to be used?' Connor asked.  NRG did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

Resch said a key issue for the industry will be maintaining government policies that encourage development, including tax credits for solar projects that are set to expire in 2016 and government loan guarantees. 'The direct result of these policies is projects like Ivanpah,' he said.

According to statistics compiled by the Energy Department, the solar industry employs more than 140,000 Americans at about 6,100 companies, with employment increasing nearly 20 percent since the fall of 2012.


December 02, 2014

More on the Ivanpah boondoggle

Overlooked:  Deserts have lots of sand

Dr Klaus L.E. Kaiser

In California’s sunny south is the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility (ISPF). It’s a massive structure in the Mojave Desert that was supposed to deliver an energy output of approximately 1.7 million MWh (megawatt-hours) of electric energy annually. ivanpah The ISPF uses 173,500 heliostats (adjustable mirrors to follow the sun) that reflect the sunshine onto boilers located on centralized power towers.

The facility covers 4,000 acres (1,600 ha) of public land and received $1,600 million in government-backed loan guarantees. Another $600 million came from private investors with nearly one third of that from Google.

This super-duper solar power plant was to be THE solar power plant, not just in the USA but in the entire world. (Source of photo) As it turns out though, the grand hopes for “alternative energy” were premature. There ought to be at least one lesson from this project: the desert environment is simply not quite as benign and suitable to solar power generation systems as many people hope.

Undesirable Effects

To begin with, ten square kilometers of room-size individual mirrors do not all reflect the sunshine to one point, even with the best intentions and computer control of the mirrors’ angles. There are always some parts of the associated machinery that do not function due to grit in the gears and on the mirrors. As a result, sunlight is reflected into many directions causing birds flying across the field to become disoriented. Others that get into the main path of light have their feathers singed or they get fried. Even airline pilots high above the ground have complained about glare from the mirrors.

Low Power Output

However, the power facility has another even bigger problem: its power output is nowhere near the design value and that’s not because of a lack of sunshine since the facility began operating in December 2013.

Obviously, the power output of the plant varies with the seasons and number of daylight hours at the site. In the eight-month period of January-August, 2014, it produced only 250,000 MWh of energy, roughly one quarter of the expected output. Even in the high irradiance and long-day four-month period of May-August, 2014, it delivered less than 200,000 MWh of electric energy – less than one half of the design value. As there was no particular lack of sunshine that underperformance could not possibly be blamed on unusual natural conditions.

One can only speculate as to the reason for the lower than expected power output at this time but there is at least one obvious cause—namely sand and dust. A decade or so ago the Siemens company installed solar (photovoltaic) power panels in the Mexican sierra that got sand-blasted into oblivion in short order. In any event, in order to salvage the plant the ISPF owners decided on a two-pronged approach: borrow more money and use more natural gas.

Borrow More

The first approach of borrowing more funds is still under consideration. It’s commonly known as the rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul principle and is frequently to be found in government circles.

Pete Danko of Breaking Energy reports that the Platts trade newsletter Megawatt Dailydiscussed Ivanpah’s status. It noted that the trio of Ivanpah owners had sought extensions on repaying their current loans as they waited to receive a hoped-for cash grant from the U.S. Treasury worth 30 percent of the Ivanpah plant’s total cost of $2.2 billion to repay the current part of the (California) loan guarantee.

Use More Natural Gas

The second approach to ISPF’s problems is even more insidious in terms of the underlying idea of “green” power generation.

In March of this year the ISPF’s owners decided to apply to the California Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission for permission to “upgrade” the system by doubling the amount of natural gas usage permitted for “preheating” of the solar towers. This request was approved in August 2014 and the ISPF can now use up to 525 million standard cubic feet of natural gas per year for that purpose. It is important to put that amount of natural gas into perspective vis-à-vis the overall energy generation by the facility.

Fudging the Numbers

To investigate the real contribution of natural gas to the plant’s output, one has to ask how much electric energy a regular power plant delivers with the consumption of 525 MCFT of NG. Using a heat-energy to electric-energy conversion rate of 60%, or 0.2 kWh/cft of NG, that amount of NG alone produces roughly 100 million MWh of electricity.

In terms of ISPF’s design output, these 100 million MWh of NG-sourced energy appear small; however, it really ought to be compared the amount of true “solar” energy produced.

To do that one also has to deduct the energy amount of the already used NG of roughly 30 million KWh (up to end of August 2014). That would leave then only in the order of 250 million MWh for the entire January to September period or somewhere in the neighborhood of 50% of the entire ISPF output. Therefore, doubling the amount of natural gas use will make the total “solar” energy output appear to be yet larger than it really is. It will be easy to fall for such claims – unless you know how numbers can be fudged.

Look for the Spin

Undoubtedly the solar power industry, many politicians and, I guess, most certainly all anti-carbon activists will try to spin this anticipated increase of the ISPF power output as a great success story of solar power generation in general and the Ivanpah plant in particular. In the end though, I surmise it will all be in vain and Ivanpah will eventually become another giant “green energy” boondoggle.


August 18, 2016

Consumers Pay Because Regulators Allow Natural Gas Use at This Solar Plant

Ivanpah is just an expensive toy for a few rich people

An immensely wealthy consortium owns the plant. Government regulators approved a contract forcing consumers to pay four to five times the going rate for electricity produced by the plant.

And the energy, because of an inordinate use of gas, turns out to be nowhere as "green" as folks thought they'd get.

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System is one of the largest solar projects in the country.

Ivanpah has an impressive pedigree: It is owned by NRG Energy, BrightSource Energy, and Google Inc. BrightSource itself is owned by a consortium including Google, General Electric Corp., Chevron Corp., BP Alternative Energy, and Morgan Stanley.

Together, these companies command market capitalization in excess of $1 trillion. One would think that with such enormous capital and financial sophistication, Ivanpah's owners could have undertaken this project without government support.

Unfortunately, that's not how today's green energy market works.

The owners of the Ivanpah solar power facility received a federal loan guarantee of $1.6 billion, a tax credit in excess of $500 million, and contracts to sell power at four to five times the market rate of electricity. All predicated on the production of solar power.

But Ivanpah is not just a solar power plant. Many solar plants use solar cells to convert the sunlight directly into electricity.

Ivanpah is different. It uses mirrors to concentrate sunlight for generating steam that then drives turbines. These turbines produce energy in a similar fashion to that of traditional coal, natural gas, or nuclear power plants.

However, Ivanpah has a problem those technologies don't: intermittency. Meaning the sun doesn't always shine.

For Ivanpah, this is an even bigger problem than it is for plants that use solar cells, because at night the temperature in the desert falls dramatically and the water cools down.

So, the water must be reheated the next morning before power production can resume. Instead of relying on the sun to reheat the water, the Ivanpah plant burns natural gas.

A true description of Ivanpah, then, is that it is a hybrid solar-natural gas power plant. The electricity is not entirely solar produced, yet it is sold at the higher prices regulators allow for solar power, a benefit worth millions of dollars per year to Ivanpah's owners.

Ivanpah is abetted in this mischaracterization by the California Energy Commission, whose strained interpretation of the rules allows Ivanpah to ignore gas used to heat the water, unless the "generator breaker is closed." This means that none of the gas burned at night to reheat the water is counted toward the caps placed by government on natural gas use in generating power.

Those caps require natural gas to be responsible for less than 5 percent of the overall generation of power, with 95 percent coming from solar. In reality, the California Energy Commission's own data show Ivanpah's gas use is responsible for closer to 30 percent of its output than it is to 5 percent.

That's how Ivanpah hits the "bad policy" trifecta that is all too common in today's heavily subsidized renewable energy markets:

Rich consortium gets huge subsidies from taxpayers to build a plant. Check.  Regulators OK a contract that forces consumers to pay four to five times the going rate for its product. Check. And the product actually is nowhere near as "green" as people thought it'd be. Check.

The inconvenient truth is that Ivanpah uses a lot of natural gas to generate "solar" electricity, and neither the California Energy Commission nor the U.S. Department of Energy seems to care enough to come clean about it.