Engineering assessments of future high wind and solar power penetration tend to focus on central estimates and may understate or ignore the significance of low probability outcomes that may have extremely severe consequences (extending to but no limited to catastrophic risks). This relative neglect of tail risks is partly a result of traditions in prediction and forecasting, and conservatism about phenomena for which very few data and information exist.
The misinterpretation of such engineering assessments can have adverse results. Even though the central estimates of high(1) wind and solar power penetration scenarios present obvious dangers, the tails of lower wind and solar power penetration scenarios still contain very serious risks which may be overlooked by policy-makers. Economic analyses may omit the possibility of catastrophic impacts, leading to substantial under-estimates of damage caused by high wind and solar power penetration.
Blackouts like the one in 2003 will likely be much more frequent when wind and solar penetration exceeds 15 %. We face a disaster of enormous proportions, but lack the means to communicate this awful truth to the public.
So how do we avoid these shortcomings and achieve more effective communication about the risks of high wind and solar power penetration?
The engineering assessments of wind and solar power penetration differ in significant ways from the formal risk assessment methods successfully employed in other fields. We outline a ‘good practice’ approach to the identification, assessment and communication of potentially catastrophic risks based on examples from organizations such the American Geophysical Union, political campaigns, as well as speeches by Rajendra K. Pachauri and Christiana Figueres.
We illustrate how this ‘good practice’ approach could be applied to provide a better presentation of some catastrophic tail risks that are outlined in the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Wind and Solar Power Use.
The risks we consider include the possibility of ‘extreme’ drops in electricity voltage and supply lying outside the central projections described in the report, and the plausibility of significant economic disasters resulting from brownouts and blackouts taking place on a very frequent basis. The risks can also be illustrated with substation transformer explosions and similar events.
Using these illustrations, we examine how engineering researchers can improve their communication about wind and solar power penetration to assist decision-making, and how policy-makers and politicians might respond differently to alternative presentations of information about the tail risks.
1 Here we define high wind and solar power penetration as having a grid in which these sources deliver over 15 % of the electric power, in a self-contained and isolated grid system with trailing response power storage capacity less than 5 % of the total 10 day load.
This is part one of a six part set of interviews I made in Texas, to discover the secret behind the oil industry conspiracy to kill the renewables industry.
“We wanted to break the renewable´s backs, to show that electric cars are glorified golf carts” says J.R. Sanders, CEO of “Black Gold”, a privately held company engaged in the oil business all over the world, and Member of the Board of a secretive oil company organization called “American Petroleum Institute”.
“We sat down with the Saudis, the guys at the Military Industrial Complex and the Israel Lobby, made some agreements, and so far it looks like we´re gonna get it done”
I wanted to find out how the Oil Mafia conspires to stop renewables, so I had gone to Texas in late 2014 to get in contact with their people. To my surprise, I found they were secretive, but some of them were very talkative. My first “inside” contact was a Dallas banker who didn´t say much. He put me in contact with a French “service company” manager, who refused to discuss anything after he found out I was a media spy from Ohio. But this guy agreed to send an email to Mr Sanders´s executive secretary, who set up my interview in Sanders´ personal office in Houston.
With large boots on his desk, Sanders looked annoyed when I asked: “So you are the ones behind the 2014 oil price crash? ¿And this is supposed to make renewables disappear?”
“At first we thought we could buy the US Government outright and make them pass laws to outlaw renewables, but pretty soon we found out that was way too transparent, and the politicians wouldn´t go for it. The tobacco lobby and the lawyers agreed to sell out after we put enough cash on the table, but we found out the Military Industrial Complex and the Israel Lobby wouldn´t risk exposing their side”.
He picked up a can of chewing tobacco, offered me some, and after I politely turned him down he put a huge wad in his mouth and mumbled: “We knew we had to move fast before renewables got too popular, so we called the Saudis, asked for extra cash and made our move.”
To my surprise, he spoke slowly and allowed me to take notes as he rambled on: “We didn’t take renewables seriously at the beginning, but the global warming topic started coming out in the press all the time… we already had enough trouble getting the Pentagon to invade Iraq, and that didn’t turn out the way we wanted, too many made members didn´t want to risk another blunder. But we had to defend market share, and those electric vehicles sure looked competitive after the California government started subsidizing them”.
I repeated my question, asking him to clarify his organization´s role in the fight against renewables, and he went on:
“That wasn’t just to put the kebosh on renewables, it actually hurts the little oilmen, but not us, and this business is a war of attrition . My outfit is small compared to Exxon and Chevron- this year we will produce oh, about one and half million barrels of oil, but the big guys produce a bit more. Technologically we got them beat because we hired a bunch of engineers from a French service company, and now we´re gonna get a lot bigger”.
“And that’s the whole idea” he continued; “our goal is to eliminate renewables as a viable competitor, get the little guys out of the way, and move on to squeezing oil out of the ground in New York, Greenland, wherever we can find it using the very best technology we can buy”.
Seeing he was talking so much I asked him about the deal with the Military Industrial Complex and the Israel Lobby:
“Simple, the weapons builders weren´t getting enough business, and the Israelis are getting a lot of pressure from inside their own mafias. The weapons builders own the Pentagon, but we own the CIA, so the idea was to start trouble somewhere in Eastern Europe, to make the Europeans worry and buy more weapons, preferably the expensive kind.
The CIA staged a coup in Ukraine, we got the Israel Lobby to back us using the media to scare the beejezuz out of everybody, and there you are…we got a civil war going on, the Russians got pissed, and we even got the Europeans to put sanctions on them. But they haven´t bought any weapons, and that sure has the weapons guys worried.
We go through all that trouble and those perfumed pussies think we´re going to send the First Armored Division all the way from Waco to fight the Russians? No way. By the time we´re finished we´re gonna have the French driving main battle tanks to work”.
Then I asked him to fill me in about the Israel Lobby´s role, and why did they back the move to stop renewables:
“Look, they only own 20% of the government, but they are savvy, and they got their territory”, answered Sanders. “After we got the Muslims aboard, we let the Jews know what was coming down, and they started playing with those high yield junk bonds. In six months they´re going to own all the little oil guys, sell them to us, and use the profits to buy Israeli bonds. They got a really good deal out of it”.
Black Gold is involved in the oil business all over the world, but I felt he was bragging a bit, so I asked him if the lower oil prices weren´t going to hurt oilmen, even the top professionals like geologists. But he laughed: “That´s one of the biggest jokes in the world, real oilmen are grown, not made. Look at those guys in the picture, do you see a geologist standing there? Of course not. Geologists are the oilman´s best friend, but they got their place in the pecking order. And when an oil company forgets it, and puts a geologist in charge, what do you get? You get Tony Hayward” And he laughed at his own inside joke as he made a gesture for us to move on to his private dining room…
Last year I found the way Scientology was invented by L. Ron Hubbard when I was looking up old science fiction stories I could download. Just be sheer accident I found a web page which copied an unusual post in alt.religion. scientology newsgroup, dated May 2nd, 1995.
The following excerpt was taken from a magazine called “Saturday Evening Wings,” which was printed for awhile in the 1970s. In this interview Harlan Ellison, the science fiction writer, claims to have been present the night L. Ron Hubbard decided to write “Dianetics.” Note: Dianetics is the first Bible of Scientology.
Portions of Ellison´s interview in “Wings” follow:
Ellison: Scientology is bullshit! Man, I was there the night L. Ron Hubbard invented it, for Christ Sakes! I was sitting in a room with L. Ron Hubbard and a bunch of other science fiction writers…he was famous among science fiction writers because he was the first one to have an electric typewriter.
Wings: He claimed to have written “Dianetics” in a weekend, and nobody can deny it.
Ellison: That’s true. He wrote “Dianetics” in one weekend…We were sitting around one night. … who else was there? Alfred Bester, and Cyril Kornbluth, and Lester Del Rey, and Ron Hubbard, who was making a penny a word, and had been for years. And he said “This bullshit’s got to stop!” He says, “I gotta get money.” He says, “I want to get rich”.
….And somebody said, “why don’t you invent a new religion? They’re always big.”
We were clowning! You know, ” You’ll make a fortune!”
He says, “I’m going to do it.” Sat down, stole a little bit from Freud, stole a little bit from Jung, a little bit from Alder, a little bit of encounter therapy, pre-Janov Primal Screaming, took all that bullshit, threw it all together, invented a few new words, because he was a science fiction writer, you know, “engrams” and “regression”, all that bullshit. And then he conned John Campbell, who was crazy as a thousand battlefields. I mean, he believed any goddamned thing. He really believed blacks were inferior….and he got him to run this article on Dianetics, the new science of mental health.
Ellison: Right. And science fiction fans will go for any goddamm thing. They’ll believe anything, man, they will believe in the abominable snowman and the Bermuda Triangle, in Pyramid Power, in EST, in Scientology, in the Second Coming, they’ll believe in any goddamm thing, they don’t give a shit. They go to see “Star Wars”; they think it is for real!
So science fiction fans picked it up, they began proselytizing, he started making money, when he had made enough money he was able to spread out a little more….Then he wanted to get tax-exempt status, so he called it “The Church of Scientology”.
Now, they’ve gotten so big that they own property all over the country, and it is impossible to stop it. They infiltrated the FBI, they infiltrated the tax department, … the funny thing is, Ron Hubbard and I still occasionally communicate with each other. Every once in a while, a couple or three times a year, we exchange letters. And I write to him, you know, and I say, “Hey Ron, when is this bullshit going to cease? and he says, “It’s the good work, it’s the good work.”
….I guess he got too busy counting his money…..
Right after the fall of the Soviet Union, the Republic of Azerbaijan began to do business with companies abroad. Eventually I found myself visiting the capital, Baku, with a group of friends.
We stayed at the Intourist, the best hotel in the city at that time. The hotel also housed the American consulate. The US government was working with a shoe string budget, and the US consul complained all the time because he couldn´t use a phone which wasn´t recorded by the KGB. That guy was so cheeky he used to visit our suite to use our satellite phone, and had us leave the room so he could “talk to Washington.” I believe he was calling his wife to say he would return some day and please don´t forget to change the oil in the car.
We were visiting Baku to talk to newly minted Azerbaijani national oil company officials and make them wonderful offers so we could take their oil. But these guys were really busy trying to get a handle on things after they kicked out the Soviets (ie Russians), so we had plenty of free time. I read a lot, and I went sightseeing with the boys, including visits to the beach and other popular sites such as the monument to Beria and the Caravanserai.
The food in the hotel was terrible. Every day we ate chicken and rice: greenish chicken chips on a plate with white rice and bugs. It was always the same. I was so bored with the Azerbaijani chicken I would have eaten haggis. The others, who didn’t have the stomach training I had, suffered a lot.
One day, one of the boys enthusiastically informed us he had found a Chinese place. As you can imagine, we were very happy when he heard his proposal to go to the place that night.
After such a long time chewing on green chicken that Chinese restaurant sounded like heaven. That night we went in two taxis, all dressed up with suit and tie to eat Chinese.
The restaurant was quite far from the Intourist hotel. I remember it was in the new part of the city, which was characterized by its beautiful Soviet prefabricated construction. Block after block of very symmetrical buildings, all the same, all covered with very artistic graffiti.
When we arrived, we were amazed. The restaurant had Chinese architectural ceiling tiles, exterior columns painted red, and a spectacular gate. Because it was so far from the hotel, we arranged with the taxi drivers to pick us up later, and walked inside.
We sat at one of those big round tables with the spinning gizmo in the center, and asked for the menu. Behold that menu! It had about 30 pages, with a huge list of food, all labeled with numbers. We settled to choose our individual plates, and then call the waiter to order.
The first asked:
“I want the number 32, the duck with prunes”
And the waiter replied, “Sorry, we are out.”
Then our number two said:
“Fine, I´´ll have Number 16, please, pork with walnuts”
The third one of us, his voice trembling, suggested 74 …
Waiter: “No sir”
Then it was my turn, and knowing what things were like in communist countries (or countries just emerging from communism) I asked:
“Mate, what do you have?”
And the waiter replied: “Chicken with rice”.
Horrified, my colleagues insisted on pointing at the menu pages and babbled the numbers they wanted. For my part, I knew we had no choice. So I convinced them not to leave because we had to eat something, and reminded them the taxis were not going to come back for a while. So we all asked for the damn chicken with rice.
The boys began to drink beer to calm down, dinner came after they had drunk a few bottles and they ate everything with gusto. Drinking had drowned their sorrows, they were happy and no longer cared if their plates had worms and were covered with green mucus sauce. It was a happy dinner which got better as they consumed alcohol as if they were Europeans just escaped from Saudi Arabia.
Then dinner was over. It was time we left, we thought the taxis would come soon, so we went out and stood around waiting . And waited. And waited.
After half an hour waiting for the taxis to show up, we realized they probably weren´t coming, so we walked back and asked the waiter, who had remained near the door, if he could call us a taxi. Unfortunately his phone didn´t work, but he advised us we could walk ten blocks to a corner where they had a bus stop, and that bus line would take us near the Intourist hotel.
So we set off and we started looking for the bus stop. We walked a lot, so much we thought we were lost. The problem was that all the buildings were the same, all had broken windows, all the streets were covered with a little trash, and even the potholes in the street looked the same.
To make matters worse, my friends had drunk an enormous amount of beer, and began to complain that they had to urinate in a hurry . Soon thereafter they began to walk with their legs held tight together. This just wasn´t going to work. Our translator, a very practical man, suggested they urinate against the wall right there.
This led them to organize a debate (some were lawyers, and a lawyer would never be found urinating in public without having a debate over the legal merits thereof, whereby incarceration was an option, and have a judgment issued before he could urinate successfully).
Evidently the most pragmatic side won that debate, they stood against the wall in a row, and began urinating all together at the same time. I wasn´t in the group because I hate beer and I don´t drink water in suspect places, so I was dehydrated and could be designated the official lookout.
That´s when bad luck struck, because immediately after they began to urinate we saw a light and heard an approaching bus engine.
The boys tried to rush and urinate faster, but forget it. The bus turned the corner, and pointed at them with its bright headlights. They knew they were convicted: right there, fully visible in the shining bus lights, they looked just like a bunch of urinating drunks instead of distinguished foreign visitors.
And to make matters worse the one who was more exposed could be seen real good from the bus, so he turned right to hide his pecker, and that made him piss on the feet of the next guy, who was so startled that he in turn jumped and spun while he was urinating…. and urinated on the buttocks of the third, and then all hell broke loose and they formed a circle of well dressed gentlemen urinating on each other. It was pretty funny to watch them run down the street to get away from the bus, which was quite useless because the bus was moving in the same direction. I almost fell on the street rolling around and laughing.
Fortunately, the bus driver was in good humor, so he stopped the bus. Our translator told him these foreigners had been invited to visit Azerbaijan by their big shot Aliyev, and that convinced the driver to put the bus at our disposal. So we all climbed aboard. However, the driver gave us orders not to sit down because he didn´t want the bus to smell like urine.
We had to give him a large tip so he would drop us off a few meters from the Intourist hotel, but we arrived in one piece. Somehow my friends went through lobby security and up to their rooms without further mishap. The next day they had another adventure when they took their clothes to the cleaners. But that’s another story.
In 1980 the Japanese director Akira Kurosawa directed the film “Kagemusha” (The Shadow Warrior). In Japanese the word Kagemusha means political decoy. The film is a work of art, tells the story of a humble man trained to impersonate the Takeda clan leader, the “Daimyo” Shingen.
Here we see when the double is presented to the general. The double looks so much like the Daimyo, and is so well trained to imitate his gestures, that all his generals, including his son and heir Katsuyori, think the double is the real Daimyo until the truth is revealed.
The Kagemusha, or double, is not considered very useful until the Daimyo Shingen has the misfortune of being wounded during the siege of an enemy castle. When he realizes he´s mortally wounded he call his generals, including the heir (his son Katsuyori), and tells them he´s very sick and is going to die, but that his death should be kept a secret.
The Daimyo was very concerned that his heir wasn´t ready to take over the clan´s leadership. Knowing that his enemies would seize the opportunity to destroy the clan if they saw it weakened by an inexperienced leader, he decided to be temporarily replaced by his double until Katsuyori learned the job.
In the film the two characters, the Daimyo and his double are the same actor. Therefore it´s not surprising to see they look and make the same gestures. I guess in real life, if this happened, the Kagemusha must have looked a lot like the general, because at that time there wasn´t plastic surgery. He also must have practiced the general´s gestures and his way of speaking to have done such a perfect job.
The film ends when the heir Katsuyori fired the double, ignored the advice of his generals, and attacked the rival clan at the wrong time, which lead to the defeat at the Battle of Nagashino.
Since the double was such a perfect actor, history can´t tell us the exact time when the double began his performance and when the real Daimyo Shingen died. The Kagemusha dies at the end of this battle along with Katsuyori and most of the Takeda clan´s army.
History tells us the victory at Nagashino allowed the great Tokugawa Ieyasu to win the Japanese civil war and to become Japan´s Shogun.
Battle of Nagashino by Nathan Ledbetter
Tokugawa Ieyasu´s Biography
I wish to use this opportunity to apologize to the People´s Republic of China, the members of the Communist Party´s Politburo, its top leaders, and especially former President my friend Hu Jintao, as well as other important people like Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang and Madame Yeoh .
My Chinese friends, when I saw that my blog was being read in China I was very happy. But then I realized that I had a single reader who was sitting at a desk in a state security agency. And that has left me a little scared, because the governments of Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, Azerbaijan, Russia, Italy, UK, Israel and the Vatican already have their agents watching me. Not to mention the American empire´s agents, and the Catalans who persecute me because I wrote their team represented Qatar instead of Barcelona.
I am a humble mouse, a coward who kneels and asks forgiveness for calling you sell outs to capitalism, and for saying you, the great Chinese people, would be willing to join the British Empire if they paid you cash.
I am a big fan of Peng Liyuan, my favorite song is “People of Our Village”, and I hate the corrupt Bo Xilai. I don´t practice Falun Gong and I like Chinese food (which I eat with chopsticks as protocol requires).
To show you my friendly attitude I can help persuade the British people to become a province of China and build a replica of Tian’anmen square with ramps for heavy vehicles in central London.
Once we are in control we won´t allow the British to raise a ruckus and imitate the Chinese guy who stood in front of the tank column in Beijing during the Tiananmen incident in 1989.
Moreover, to prove my loyalty to the party and win the confidence of the Politburo, I support building a large wall around Hyde Park, and the construction of a Ming style tower in its center to symbolize the union of the Chinese and British peoples. This architectural marvel will give tourists something beautiful to photograph, because as we know Windsor Palace has little aesthetic value and the tourist industry requires fresh attractions.
Now that I think about it, we could also bring the Dalai Lama to London and give speeches about Chinese civilization.
When I was young I had a friend named Lenin. This was his first name; his full name was Lenin Antonio Restrepo Barca.
Lenin’s parents were fervent communists. They spent their time in party meetings, sticking pamphlets on neighborhood walls with slogans about the proletarian revolution, attacking imperialism, and praising the achievements of socialism (such as “this month Soviet production of truck axles rose 22% “).
As we all know, children tend to follow their parents’ footsteps regarding diet, religion and politics. This means my friend Lenin had an ordinary diet, was atheist and had been a good communist since the moment he could walk.
I’m a pretty big guy. But I started school at four because my grandfather had taught me to read and write that summer. Lenin was older, but he was short and skinny. I was the youngest and Lenin was the shortest. This made us the class midgets. And because we looked different to the others (and looking more or less the same is very important in first grade), we suffered the other boys’ abuses together and became close friends.
Another thing that united us was my tendency to get into books as if I were a termite, and Lenin’s character, because he liked to hear me describe everything I read, especially the stories of the Tiger of Malaysia fighting against British imperialism and how to prepare explosive mixtures using household materials.
But Lenin also listened and learned from his parents. This gave him big ideas that he tried to explain would improve society. For example, the school grades idea:
Lenin came up with the suggestion that the whole class’ grades should be averaged and everyone would end up with the group average. This, according to him, would give the best a strong incentive to help the worst students in the class.
I had good grades. I was either 1st or 2nd in the class, always competing with a girl named Alina, a blonde I really disliked when we were in first grade but had become my imaginary girlfriend by the time I was in sixth grade. So when Lenin presented the idea it didn’t go over very well with me. I got very worried and thought that, if Lenin could convince the teacher to go along with this plan, I would have to move and change schools. Being forced to change schools and not having Alina to compete with really bugged me. But I wanted to be an engineer and I thought the class average wasn’t going to get me into a good undergraduate nuclear engineering program. Thank goodness the teacher was not revolutionary. She laughed when Lenin suggested it, and that was it.
Lenin and I continued hanging out together for a long time. And as I grew up I saw him develop into a devoted communist. When we were in high school he spent all the time talking about the destruction of society, which he said was necessary to build the socialist world. This apparently included having a revolution to put his father in charge of the police, so he could lead a firing squad and shoot the rich.
Eventually we graduated from high school. Lenin was an expert at throwing stones, making pamphlets and organizing fun student demonstrations demanding an end to war and imperialism. Lenin was also an expert in the number of Soviet space launches, and enjoyed counting the medals obtained by the Soviet Union in the Olympics, because he believed that if they had more medals this meant Soviets lived well and were really tough.
I happen to think the achievements of athletes from other countries are important only if they lose against our guys, or if they do something amazing. Like the time a woman ran the marathon, and entered the stadium so dehydrated she was tottering, but kept making step after step while the people cheered and wept with emotion.
Meanwhile I kept dreaming of building nuclear reactors, thinking I would build a car with an atomic engine that would go at super speed and could take off and fly up when traffic was heavy (this idea came from reading Popular Mechanics).
So when we graduated from High School he went to study political science at the junior college on the outskirts of town, and I went head to study engineering, which wouldn’t let us hang around together much.
But occasionally we did go out together, and he kept talking about his ideas, which he explained with passion. One night we were standing outside a bar, completely broke and watching people go in and come out. Lenin told me that if you walked into a bar you should have the right to drive back home without having to worry about the cops, so it was better to install a blue light on car roofs. This blue light would be turned on when the driver was drunk so people could be warned and get out of the way. This didn’t seem like a good idea to me, but Lenin stubbornly insisted that I had rejected it because I had a capitalist mind, and I couldn’t accept revolutionary changes.
I kept apart Lenin’s personality as my friend, and his ridiculous communist ideas. But eventually I began to get tired of the whole thing. This reached a peak when he mentioned he was going to start distributing pamphlets asking for gasoline price controls. At that time gasoline prices were very high on account of Iran. Their government had fallen in the hands of an Ayatollah Khomeini, and somehow he had managed to cut oil production. On top of that he caused a huge mess when he ordered an invasion of the U.S. Embassy in Teheran. This was shown in Ben Afleck’s movie “Argo” (I have to mention that Affleck bugs me as an actor ever since he made the movie with Matt Damon about God being an old man with amnesia, but he is a darned good director).
To me, gasoline price controls sounded like a really dumb idea. It was evident that gasoline price controls would eventually cause a gasoline shortage. But to my surprise many people agreed with Lenin, and began to demonstrate in front of the gas station asking the government to intervene and keep prices low “for the people”
The fools didn’t realize those who spend more on fuel are the rich because they drive Cadillacs and Mercedes Benz and jumbos with rocket tails. I had to read a lot when I was in college, but the public bus was so full all the time I had to stand and read as best I could, and people complained when I stuck a book in their faces. From my point of view it was better to raise the price so people would drive less, and then use the tax to give us better public transport with more frequent service.
So this was how Lenin and I started to come apart. Eventually he got into a group of people who called themselves internationalists and left the country. The last I heard, he is in southeastern Venezuela preaching communism to the Pemon Indians. I don’t think he will do well, because the Pemon Indians have their own ideas about communism. What they seem to want most is to have a gold mine, to earn some money and send their children to school to be doctors, or engineers, so they can leave the jungle and build a house with real furniture and everything.
The Pemon, you see, have been communists for a long time, and now they want to move forward a bit, to study hard, and become good capitalists. They are like the Chinese, and other peoples who have been communist. They tend to dream of being capitalists and getting rich.