Unforced Variations: June 2013

June’s open thread…

389 comments on this post.
  1. Hank Roberts:

    PS, yes, Google Image Search does find prior appearances of what looks like the same illustration — going back many years, actually. So it’s not news.
    This might work; if not put the image link into the image search tool.
    But what’s the original source?

  2. Hank Roberts:

    PS, the earliest I found is from 2009, cited to the National Oceanography Center, Southampton, published here: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17625-as-arctic-ocean-warms-megatonnes-of-methane-bubble-up.html by a different group of researchers, in a different location.

  3. prokaryotes:

    Hank Roberts, i will try to do better with citing of images. Though cites are actually there for each single article – source and credit to many images as well. Though when it comes to getting “feature/intro” images i use Google image search and many images from there come without credits. And BECAUSE it is not always easy to get the credits. Also this means to invest extra time (searching and writing the one liner). And sometimes i do not have that time. ClimateState has currently ZERO funding, though i thank you for the constructive feedback and will try to do better, especially with images which are more scientific.

    In case of the image with methane plumes you mentioned, it is from here http://planetearth.nerc.ac.uk/news/story.aspx?id=516&cookieConsent=A

  4. Hank Roberts:

    That’s actually a useful cite to a real publication — not about the guy your story is about, but rather different people studying a different location years earlier. That’s why citing works:

    “… this is the first time scientists have found them in where the conditions for their occurrence can be clearly attributed to climate warming.

    ‘Various people have predicted this for several years, and methane from hydrate beneath the sea bed has been strongly appealed to by scientists looking to explain past climate shifts,’ says Professor Graham Westbrook, a geophysicist at Birmingham University. ‘But this is first time anyone’s discovered a situation where it actually seems to be happening now as a result of rising water temperatures,’ he adds.”

    I believe that’s still the case, from the reading I’ve tried to do. Perhaps one of the scientists knows more.

  5. Edward Greisch:

    210 Kevin McKinney: I haven’t been in a brownout. My electricity seems to be either on or off. I’ve heard that brownouts do happen in other countries. We don’t want brownouts because brownouts damage things like electric motors.

    213 Martin Vermeer: Read the link. That will be expensive methane.

    220 Phil Scadden: Try it.

    222 Kevin McKinney: [Natural] Gas fired power 66% of the time is what we were trying to get away from.

    226 Michael Sweet: What is FUD? “Fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) is a tactic used in sales, marketing, public relations,[1][2] politics and propaganda.
    FUD is generally a strategic attempt to influence perception by disseminating negative and dubious or false information. An individual firm, for example, might use FUD to invite unfavorable opinions and speculation about a competitor’s product; to increase the general estimation of switching costs among current customers; or to maintain leverage over a current business partner who could potentially become a rival. Wikipedia
    My electricity goes down because of storms, not because of generator problems.

    229 SecularAnimist

    244 Thomas Lee Elifritz: Yes we do have a choice.

    All of you renewables salesmen: NO FUD. I want you to put together a complete plan showing all of the costs and how it is possible. You have to make it work everywhere. So far, you have just hand waved. http://www.greens.org/s-r/60/60-09.html Ted Trainer says “There are periods when there is close to no wind blowing anywhere in a large region, and these times can last for many days. Weather tends to comes from the west in large “synoptic patterns” and these can leave the entire continent of Europe under conditions of intense calm, cloud and cold for a week at a time.
    For several days in a winter month in good wind regions there would have to be almost total reliance on some other source.”

    So quit hand waving and prove you can do it. I don’t believe you can at a price and availability that are possible without killing a few billion people.

  6. Thomas Lee Elifritz:

    My electricity goes down because of storms, not because of generator problems.

    Edward, your electricity goes down because you have no alternative local backup. That’s your problem because many commercially available backup strategies exist but you CHOOSE not to take advantage of any of them.

  7. Hank Roberts:

    > renewables … you have to make it work everywhere

    Oh, stop being silly.

    The current coal-fired industrial revolution and population boom killed a whole lot of people and continues to do so. Also got a whole lot of people born, too, remember? The population “hockey stick” is coal-powered. And all those people die eventually. Lots fewer people would have been born to die without coal. But you’re somehow using human lives as the measure and attacking the idea of moving to renewable power. This is just nuts.

    Sure, you can find extremophiles who want to sit around and proclaim how salvation comes from doing only exactly what they say, exactly how they say.

    There’s a difference between saying it’s possible and saying it’s easy.
    Nobody yet is saying we’ll get out of this brief delusional bubble of easy cheap energy without doing more nasty damage and without having to pay the long-deferred costs. Nobody’s that optimistic — except the “plenty in my lifetime and after that the world ends” people.

    Don’t be one of them.

    Look at that video again:

  8. Kevin McKinney:

    #255–“222 Kevin McKinney: [Natural] Gas fired power 66% of the time is what we were trying to get away from.”

    Quite correct, we are. I posted a sizable quote from your source, and you’ve unerringly picked out the point in it–the “armada of gas-fired peaking plants”–that I found most dubious myself.

    The Trainer article makes a series of objections to Jacobsen & Delucchi, but ignores (or predates?) Budischak et al, 2013, which did modeling including 4 years of actual weather data for the PJM grid in the US Midwest and central East:


    They found 5 occasions where gas backup was used.

    Note that the PJM region is quite a bit smaller than Europe–I’d guesstimate about one-fifth the area–as Europe is usually defined, so you wouldn’t expect greater variability in the European case. And the PJM is already interconnected with other US and Canadian markets.

    Note also that Trainer rather mixes apples and oranges by talking about “Europe” and then citing data relative to “Ireland, the UK, and Germany,” which would obviously exclude all of Southern and Eastern Europe, not to mention Scandinavia. So I am quite skeptical about his conclusions around prolonged “calm, cloudy periods.” (Quite a few of his examples also relate only to wind.)

    Finally, regarding “All of you renewables salesmen: NO FUD. I want you to put together a complete plan…”: Don’t be silly. You couldn’t put such a plan together for nuclear, and I doubt you could point to one online, either.

    But even if you could, it would be far too large for even a post, let alone a comment. Consider the Lang plan for New York you linked to as an instance on the ‘renewable side’: A good deal of the criticism in the published comment (also linked above) amounted to pointing out aspects in which Lang was incomplete or sketchy. Yet Lang’s 17 pages, probably in excess of 5,000 words, with a couple hundred bibliography items. For context, the Yamal post was about 2300 words and 5 or 6 citations.

  9. SecularAnimist:

    Edward Greisch wrote: “I want you to put together a complete plan showing all of the costs and how it is possible.”

    I’ve posted these links previously. You can read them, or choose to ignore them.

    Institute For Local Self-Reliance: “At least three-fifths of the fifty states could meet all their internal electricity needs from renewable energy generated inside their borders … even these estimates may be conservative.”

    CleanTechnica: “70%, 80%, 99.9%, 100% Renewables — Study Central”

  10. Hank Roberts:

    For prokaryotes — seriously, man, the approach you are using — “when it comes to getting “feature/intro” images i use Google image search” — is really inappropriate for posting references to scientific reports.

    Taking a picture from one journal article and using it to illustrate another is just bad practice. Even if a newspaper does it, or another blogger does it, or you think it makes your blog more convincing to have the illustration attached to what you’re trying to show people — it’s wrong.

    If you were a journal author and did that, your paper would be withdrawn.
    I don’t know where bloggers get their ethics, but I urge you to look into your own good common sense — and do better.

    Yes, there’s one actual real example of methane coming out of ocean deposits, and you took the illustration from that — and used it to repost the apparently unsupported story widely circulated about a different scientist’s press releases about a different location.

    Not good for anybody.

    Reality is _plenty_bad_ as it is.
    Trying to tart it up for impact — makes the truth less likely to be believed.

    Ok, Jeremiad done for now. Nothing personal. You’re trying.

    No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

  11. Radge Havers:

    FWIW, brownouts, USA.

    They happen, for instance:


    FWIW, images.

    Cite for science, but also respect copyrights.

  12. Walter Pearce:

    Another factor to consider in renewables’ favor is that new generating capacity from that source is currently outstripping that of the competition and, at least according to a recent Bloomberg study is projected to continue doing so through 2030.

    To me, what is actually happening trumps the naysaying.

  13. prokaryotes:

    Hank Roberts, first off i feel that this discussion belongs on my blog under said article not here. Though i’ve to disagree with you because the article in question is about methane plumes just of another magnitude. And because there is no better image i use the image which shows the physical process of smaller methane plumes. There is nothing wrong with that. And on another note, as much as i welcome blog feedback i think the primarily focus should be the topic at hand, not details.

    If you sincerely want to contribute something constructive in the future, link under said article a better image instead of posting on an entire different site, thanks!

    Captcha = fulfils onHumen

  14. Kevin McKinney:

    #260–“No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

    Or, alternately and from the same pen:

    “Let us represent worthily for once the foul brood to which a cruel fate consigned us!”

  15. Hank Roberts:

    PS, would someone else take on the grouch role for a day or six? I need a break.

  16. Hank Roberts:

    Celebrate the Pale Blue Dot

  17. Patrick 027:

    re 237 Patrick – the entropy link was quite interesting.

    I noted this comment
    http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2013/05/elusive-entropy/#comment-9568 – part 3, I agreed with the first sentence at least – that one can meaningfully discuss low and high-entropy energy (relatively, of course) – and that this can be quantified – in fact the original post does so (low-entropy energy from the sun travels through space, then upon reaching the atmosphere scattering and absorption add some entropy (amounts vary over spectrum, direction and maybe polarization ?)… photosynthesis will have smaller entropy gain than thermalization at various temperatures – some conversion to kinetic energy is allowed because thermalization is not all at the lowest temperatures (atmosphere (troposphere in particular) is a heat engine, although some parts (I think within the troposphere, but also above and below? (I’m thinking of wind-driven upwelling. There is an adiabatic lapse rate for the ocean so there should be some conversion to enthalpy, right?) of the circulation are heat pumps to do the reverse (Brewer-Dobson circulation is an example; also Ferrel Cell, although as a heat pump that’s a goofy one because it’s an average circulation superimposed on average temperature – it exists mathematically but I’m not sure to the extent that it exists like a real positive mass density in a spherical shell as opposed to the existence of the negative density spherical region that exists in an overlapping concentric positive density region) in space as opposed to the regions of negative mass that you add to some other mass distributions to get a total) … ultimately radiated to space with a higher entropy (entropy produced on Earth and carried away) ,;

    the second part I’d amend to making the most efficient/valuable/interesting/etc. use of that process or else forcing it to be slower or through one particular route rather than another (spontaneous energy flows with gains in entropy)

    it’s interesting that the comment misses the point when applying it to solar and wind power (solar power resource is relatively low entropy as discussed in the blog; wind power should be lower still (it’s macroscopic kinetic energy!)
    – The collecting and transmission of this power being analogous to the sorting of salt and coffee grains while the entropy of the fluxes is mainly like that within grains

    (although there is an additional limit to conversion efficienty relative to incident energy flux, as some of that flux must be rejected in either case (Betz limit for wind power, solar conversion requires heating up an end of a mechanical heat engine which must then emit radiation (a greenhouse effect can reduce this, but as the heat engine Th approaches photospheric temperatures, a greenhouse becomes less effective) or in the case of PV, the generation of electron-hole pairs with some population density that, for a given energy separation, corresponds to a brightness temperature (which is not generally the actual temperature of either the electron or hole populations when considered separately), corresponding to the minimum photon intensity that must be emitted at that part of the spectrum; as best I recall from the last time I studied it, there is a trade-off between the efficiency of conversion of the captured energy and the efficiency of capturing the energy (Wikipedia has good info on these topics, I think).

  18. Patrick 027:

    re 255 Edward Greisch -@ my 202 http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2013/06/unforced-variations-june-2013/comment-page-5/#comment-356736 – see link given http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/re_futures/ – see visualizations to the right, and pdfs at the bottom –
    From “Volume 2: Renewable Electricity Generation and Storage Technologies”, section 10.5.1 (emphasis mine, compare to first figure at http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/07/03/lacklustre-colorado-solar/ ):

    One key difference between wind and PV is that a single small PV system frequently exhibits greater variability than wind in short-term power output (seconds to minutes) due to passing clouds (Curtright and Apt 2008). However, the aggregate output from a large PV plant (several MWs), or several small PV systems distributed over a wide geographical area, has far less variability and significantly reduced short-term ramp rates than a single small PV system (see Figure 10-18). Even the combined output of a few PV systems has been shown to significantly reduce the magnitude of peak fluctuations in power output. This suggests that the distributed nature of PV installations can mitigate the short-term variability of the system as a whole.

    “Western Wind and Solar Integration Study: Executive Summary” http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy10osti/47781.pdf

    Regarding HVDC, http://www02.abb.com/global/gad/gad02077.nsf/lupLongContent/C78435BCD3127EC9C12570C00039D677 , … I had others but I can’t find them just now. But see also the nrel links.

    http://www.eia.gov/pub/oil_gas/natural_gas/analysis_publications/storagebasics/storagebasics.html , I roughly estimated 3.9 T cubic ft natural gas storage (working gas) capacity.
    Based on
    http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pet_stoc_typ_d_nus_SAE_mbbl_a.htm (which lists stock, not capacity, so this may be an underestimate), I decided to use 1.8 G barrels and 0.7 G barrels total and non-crude oil.
    With that and numbers from
    http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/diagram1.cfm ,
    http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/diagram2.cfm , http://www.eia.gov/totalenergy/data/annual/diagram3.cfm
    (year 2011)
    I got natural gas storage capacity of 16.0 % annual nat.gas consumption and 4.09 % of total primary energy (14.9 days primary energy storage). For petroleum, I got (total,non-crude) 26.2 %, 10.2 % of annual petroleum consumption and 32.6, 13.5 days of total primary energy consumption. Of course that’s a rough estimate that doesn’t take into account differences in volumetric energy densities among petroleum and it’s products.


    Well, there’s conversion efficiency – two way if it goes back into power plants (CHP or not? What about putting TPV cells on residential furnaces; natural gas lines used like transmission, sort’a – but don’t rely on this too much because where winters aren’t too cold, heat pumps make sense (they might make some sense anyway – if ground-sourced (?)… or for preheating… etc.). On the other hand, remember to take into account that I put the storage in terms of primary energy consumption (When given in terms of primary energy or using Btu, The EIA generally gives non-thermal (and, I think, CSP and geothermal) renewable energy in terms of primary equivalent based on a standard power plant conversion ratio, although I’ve noticed (I think) one exemption).

    Meanwhile, some energy consumption is storable (cooling and heating) (combine smart grid with satellite imagery, etc.)

    We have 21 or 22 GW hydro pumped storage capacity ( http://www.eia.gov/electricity/annual/html/epa_04_03.html ), though I’m not sure of the energy capacity. The use of hydro for hourly-daily balancing is pictured in the first nrel link (visualizations: http://rpm.nrel.gov/refhighre/dispatch/dispatch.html ). I can’t find the total area of hydroelectric reservoirs… but I’m not the only one who’s thought of this: http://theenergycollective.com/rogerrethinker/203821/niagara-pumped-storage-concept (a much more ambitious version: http://www.xylenepower.com/Hydraulic%20Energy%20Storage.htm . Could the the more realistic version just use the existing canal(s)?)

    I haven’t been able to find any studies on the correlation between solar power and wind power resources (wind aids in evaporation but also can be associated with precipitation) and available hydroelectric power and water usage. At least with solar, I’d expect a tendency to increase during droughts, thus, aside from the average seasonal cycles, solar might balance hydroelectric and desalination/pumping needs. But to what extent? That’s actually a climatological question, so unlike all of the above it may be ‘legal’ here.

  19. prokaryotes:

    The Sublime of Superman, ‘Man of Steel’
    … alien invaders try to inject particulates into earth atmosphere. http://climatestate.com/magazine/2013/06/the-sublime-of-superman-man-of-steel/

    Very cool to see that blockbuster movies now feature soem form of

  20. prokaryotes:

    science, related to climate change.

  21. Edward Greisch:

    258 Kevin McKinney RE: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378775312014759

    “For scenarios in which backup is used rarely and at moderate fractions of load, LOAD CURTAILMENT is probably more sensible than fossil generation.” Nope. You can’t turn off my air conditioner when I need it most.

    “If renewable generation is insufficient for that hour’s load, storage is used first, then fossil generation.”

    Fossil fuel is used 9 hours/year. A great improvement but not quite as advertised.

    They use 3 times as many wind turbines as nameplate power would suggest. I expected 4 or 5 times nameplate power would be required, but they make up for it with solar. Their price for wind turbines is unrealistically low.

    They assume zero line loss.

    Meteorological stations are sparse. This is unrealistic, especially because they have no meteorological stations in hilly or mountainous regions. There is almost no wind in the valleys. You are forced to build very tall structures on the peaks only since the mountains are forested and may be off limits. That applies to West Virginia, the western 2/3 of Pennsylvania, part of Virginia and maybe Kentucky. This is where “Cost-minimized combinations of wind power, solar power and electrochemical storage, powering the grid up to 99.9% of the time” fails.

    Good try. Doing it for nuclear is a 1 liner. France already does it 80%.

  22. Kevin McKinney:

    #271–Thanks for reading in some depth…

    “You can’t turn off my air conditioner when I need it most.” I don’t think that’s a realistic example of ‘load curtailment’ in this context–though I’m willing to be educated.

    “Fossil fuel is used 9 hours/year. A great improvement…” Indeed.

    “Their price for wind turbines is unrealistically low.” Really? Sez who? Their notes on the question:

    For the cost of renewable energy and storage, we used published costs for 2008, and published projections for 2030, all in 2010 dollars. For example, projected capital costs for wind and solar in 2030 are roughly half of today’s capital costs but projected operations and maintenance (O&M) costs are about the same (references and explanations of costs are in Tables 1 and 2).

    They do cite published sources for their projections, which seems to merit more than a flat ‘unrealistic.’

    “Meteorological stations are sparse…” I have no idea what this paragraph is supposed to be about. I’m pretty sure that wind resources are mapped, and are being mapped better on an ongoing basis–especially where actual projects are under consideration. But perhaps that isn’t to your point? And what do met stations have to do with it?

    “Good try. Doing it for nuclear is a 1 liner. France already does it 80%.”

    And yet you are insisting on 99.9% for renewables… personally, I wouldn’t mind a bit if the US increased nuclear to, say 25% or 30% of the mix if it came straight off of the coal capacity. But do you have a detailed plan for making that happen politically? (Sadly, I don’t see it happening.) And what would be the build time, it it did?

    Recent history on that, per WIki:

    In late 2011 and early 2012, construction of four new nuclear reactor units at two exiting plants were approved, the first such in 34 years. As of December 2011, construction by Southern Company on two new nuclear units has begun, Units 3 and 4 at the existing Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, and they are expected to be delivering commercial power by 2016 and 2017, respectively.[92][93] Shortly thereafter, Units 2 and 3 at the SCANA Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Generating Station in South Carolina were approved, and are scheduled to come online in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

    A number of other reactors are or were under consideration – a third reactor at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in Maryland, a third and fourth reactor at South Texas Nuclear Generating Station (now canceled), together with two other reactors in Texas, four in Florida, and one in Missouri. However, these have all been postponed or canceled. But, looking ahead, experts see continuing challenges that will make it very difficult for the nuclear power industry to expand beyond a small handful of reactor projects…

  23. Hank Roberts:

    > Nope. You can’t turn off my air conditioner when I need it most.

    Demand does not always equal supply.

  24. Walter Pearce:

    RE: 271 and previous, ad nauseum. (Taking on grouch role)

    What’s happening right now trumps your naysaying:

    “A new report from the Worldwatch Institute says that the installed capacity of renewable power generation, excluding large hydro, surpassed the global installed capacity of nuclear energy generation last year. The cross-over point on output is expected in a few years.”

    And this: “…the price of renewables is coming down and that of nuclear is rising and needs a subsidy to make it competitive…But it is clear that without subsidy – in the form of a high fixed price for electricity that the consumer has to pay for 30 years – nuclear power plants are unlikely to be built.”

    Etc., etc. Point is, if there were substantial validity to your position, we wouldn’t be seeing explosive growth (and declining prices) for renewables — instead we’d see something other than stagnation in nukes.

  25. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comment by Edward Greisch — 21 Jun 2013 @ 12:43 AM

    You say- “Nope. You can’t turn off my air conditioner when I need it most.”

    This is the selfish and self-indulgent attitude that is a major part of our problem.


  26. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comment by Hank Roberts — 20 Jun 2013 @ 1:20 PM

    For intelligent and accurate communication scholarship is very important. Those of us who mostly read greatly appreciate your comments. Go grouch go!


  27. Hank Roberts:

    > the article in question is about methane plumes
    > just of another magnitude. And because there is no
    > better image i use the image which shows the physical
    > process of smaller methane plumes.
    > There is nothing wrong with that.

    Please reconsider your approach.

  28. Hank Roberts:

    This blogger did a good job on the subject:


  29. Chuck Hughes:

    {NASA Finds ‘Amazing’ Levels Of Arctic Methane And CO2, Asks ‘Is a Sleeping Climate Giant Stirring in the Arctic?’ http://climatestate.com/magazine/2013/06/nasa-finds-amazing-levels-of-arctic-methane-and-co2-asks-is-a-sleeping-climate-giant-stirring-in-the-arctic/

    Comment by prokaryotes}

    I think I posted this earlier in the thread and don’t remember getting any sort of answer to my question so I’ll ask it again…

    Do we have or will we have a Methane problem soon? I know methane reverts to CO2 eventually but is this a serious problem in the short term? I’m trying to figure out if this is a big deal compared to the warming we already have or will the Methane cause a spike in temperature and exacerbate the warming?


  30. WhiteBeard:

    From a quick scan of recent comments it didn’t seem that this has risen to the surface – apologies if it’s already been noted. I happened upon it via a headline gadget on my browser and though might be worth glance this weekend as beach book reading for those up for a break from bodice ripper fare.


    The gadget produced actually produced this link, providing broad hints of the red meat that the usual suspects may or may not be regurgitating soon.


  31. David B. Benson:

    More off topic (and rather ignorant I fear) commentary which is entirely USA-centric.

    Global warming is a world problem. More important, Real Climate is about climate, not purported changes to the energy mix. Could we please stay on topic?

  32. Edward Greisch:

    “Fig. 1. A map showing the outlines of the current PJM system (blue line) and of the inland and offshore meteorological stations used for the wind data (pink asterisks).”


    LOOK at the pink asterisks. They don’t cover the map.

    275 Steve Fish: Air conditioning is a life saver.

    To those who are FUDing nuclear: 281 David B. Benson is correct. I didn’t bring up nuclear.

  33. Kevin McKinney:

    #282–“LOOK at the pink asterisks. They don’t cover the map.”

    So your point is that you think more met stations would document more shortfalls of wind?

    Maybe, but I’d expect that more likely they’d reduce those shortfalls. And I’m a musician; I can wave my hands real pretty.

    But more seriously, perhaps these images will suggest why the stations used cluster the way they do:


  34. prokaryotes:

    Just a video with aerial views of the current Calgary flooding and yesterday’s interview with Bob Sanford on cbc.ca The Current podcast, he elaborates on extreme weather and flooding.

    Canada Calgary Aerial View + Bob Sanford speaks Floods June 22, 2013 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoqfstqxqoU

  35. Thomas Lee Elifritz:

    Air conditioning is a life saver.

    Concrete earth sheltered well insulated (external to the structure) living space completely obviates the need for the energy, the machinery and the hazardous gases. Improved thermoelectrics are already indicated by theory.

    You need to get with the program instead of making up excuses for inaction. This is getting tiresome, if anybody is actually interested in the big picture, I have recently submitted a comment to the NAC (NRC) Space Board which outlines the only reasonable method to proceed with this problem. Here. Enjoy your global meltdown.

  36. Thomas Lee Elifritz:

    Could we please stay on topic?

    Dude, it’s a open thread, and I fail to see how you can seperate energy and population from climate, or anything else for that matter. Epic fail there, David, seriously.

  37. Martin Vermeer:

    Kevin #283,

    actually there is a new generation of wind turbines that can take advantage of low wind, described here. The basic idea is very simple: bigger rotors for given generator size. They start producing earlier and run for more hours per year, resulting (paradoxically) in higher capacity factors.

    In Germany, a lot of “re-powering” — and new installation — of wind turbines in low-wind areas is now taking place, including the South (which was traditionally considered unsuitable for wind).

    BTW hub heights are 90-140 m. Those American maps for a hub height of 50 m look dated.

  38. Walter Pearce:

    >entirely US-centric


    There are reasons growth in renewables is exploding and not for, uh, other types.

  39. Steve Fish:

    Re- Comment by Edward Greisch — 21 Jun 2013 @ 10:02 PM

    You say- “Air conditioning is a life saver.”

    You must live in some terrible area where multiple generations have not prospered, raised children, lived long, and enjoyed life prior to the advent of air conditioning. Now if you are referring to the very small percentage of people who, because they are ill or otherwise compromised, might need air conditioning (just like some need oxygen), then your statement is true, but these folks require an insignificant amount of extra electrical generation.


  40. simon abingdon:

    #77 PatrickF

    Prof Emeritus Guy McPherson apparently commands an enviable following.

    See http://lackofenvironment.wordpress.com/tag/guy-mcpherson/

  41. Kevin McKinney:

    #287–Martin, thanks for that link. It’s good to know about such developments (especially as I live in a relatively wind-poor part of the US.

    Yes, the 50-meter info is dated, but at least it is consistent, presumably accurate, and conveniently available for purposes such as the comparison I made. Anybody know of something more up to date?

  42. Russell:

    Wannabe troglodytes and ‘Heatstroke ? What heatstroke?’ enthusiasts are invited to provide alternative explanations of why Florida’s hockey stick demographic curve inflects upward in the year freon was invented ?

  43. Kevin McKinney:

    #290–Including a terribly sincere and well-intentioned guy who writes, in the linked blog :

    “Therefore, with reference to the above graph, the thawing permafrost is already releasing 0.2 Gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere on an annual basis. You don’t have to be a mathematical genius to realise that, in the short term, even this has the warming potential of 20 Gigatons of carbon, which is twice the global anthropogenic carbon emissions in 2010.”

    Er, you can’t compare the warming potential of ‘carbon’ by the warming potential of ‘carbon’ and get anything but a GWP of 1….

    Heck of it is, his big point–that things are likely worse than we think–could well still be right. But basic goofs obviously don’t help to persuade.

  44. SecularAnimist:

    A couple of followups:

    Regarding US wind energy resources, the most recent nationwide data is from 2010, and is available from the US DOE National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s “Wind Powering America” site:

    The U.S. Department of Energy provides an 80-meter (m) height, high-resolution wind resource map for the United States with links to state wind maps. States, utilities, and wind energy developers use utility-scale wind resource maps to locate and quantify the wind resource, identifying potentially windy sites within a fairly large region and determining a potential site’s economic and technical viability.

    The same site provides community-scale (50-meter) and residential scale (30-meter) wind resource maps, and 90-meter offshore maps.

    Based on their analysis of that NREL data, the Institute For Local Self-Reliance concluded:

    Five Midwest states (Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio) could get nearly all their electricity from wind … 32 states could get all of their electricity from in-state [renewable] resources …

    Regarding air conditioning, it’s worth noting that according to a recent study, “air conditioning in homes may account for up to one third of electricity use during periods in the summer when the most energy is required in large cities”, which is to say, on long, hot, sunny days — which is also generally when solar energy generation peaks. So for air conditioning specifically, solar power is the ideal energy source, generating peak power exactly when (and in the case of distributed solar, where) it is most needed.

  45. sidd:

    nsidc.org has a report on greenland. Melt reached the saddle on Jun 11 and 13

  46. Martin Vermeer:

    Edward Greisch #255:

    > That will be expensive methane

    You ain’t seen nothing yet. Guess how much a kWh costs from a hospital emergency generator?

    In a well designed renewable grid, only a small fraction of total energy will be produced by backup. It’s no big deal — inevitable, actually — if it costs a bit more.

    The last MWh produced by a nuclear plant to satisfy rare load spikes won’t be cheap either. Nuclear only looks good — well, as good as it looks — for the first 80%.

  47. Kevin McKinney:

    Thanks, SA, thanks, sidd.

  48. sidd:

    Hirabayashi et al., Nature Climate Change ,DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE1911

    quantify increase in flood projections over 21st century. South and Southeast Asia and Africa are particularly affected. The Lena, Congo, Nile, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Mekong, Murray-Darling expected to see 100yr flood every 10 yr or less (Fig 2b)


  49. Patrick 027:

    Re air conditioning and load curtailment http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378775312014759

    9 hours divided into 5 separate time segments, over ~ 4 years. But maybe some segments were longer than others…

    Well, how much would it warm up/cool off if you lost your HVAC for a few hours? Alternatively, how much overheating or overcooling (including Freezers, etc.) can be tolerated prior to such an incident, to store up heat or lack thereof (we can forecast)? Probably more for larger buildings http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=6910#tabs_ElecStorage-2 .

    It was pointed out that transmission/distribution losses were not included in the model. That will tend to raise cost, but if we just assume an across-the-board scale up, we get an increase of ~ 7.5 %, give or take (100/93 – 1, http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=105&t=3 ). It would be interesting to know how either minimizing cost taking T&D into account or T&D losses would affect the outcome, modeling the grid’s details (perhaps favoring ~collocated wind and utility solar and storage, more rooftop PV (local or not-to-distant generation that correlates with load peaks) , etc.

    Forecasting was also not included in the above study (to manage T&D with rooftop solar, on a partly cloudy day, run HVAC/etc. during sun breaks; link smart appliances to visible satellite…), nor was hydroelectricity (important), nor was transmission to/from other parts of the country continent, which could include CSP – which in some cases could be ~collocated with wind and/or hydro (for T&D efficiency), and can be made into baseload or net-load-following power (daily storage and natural gas (or other fuels – bio?) backup for winter or whenever).

    Adding transmission would raise the costs of the renewable systems calculated here, whereas using adjacent grids, demand management, and forecasting all would lower costs. We judge the latter factors substantially larger, and thus assert (without calculation) that the net effect of adding all these factors together would not raise the costs per kWh above those we calculate below.
    …[skipped paragraph]…
    Our study has some limitations. PJM is a large system operator; a smaller region would experience less smoothing effect from connecting wind across its region. We discounted future renewable generation at 12%, did not project any increase in fossil fuel prices, eliminated tax subsidies for renewables but not traditional generation, and did not project any technology breakthroughs for renewables, all of which raise the comparative cost of renewable power.

    I’m not sure I understand what they mean about the 12% discount (though I haven’t gone through the appendices) – I see a 12% listed in note a. for Table 2, but I would have guessed this was done so that it could be added to capital costs and then run through the same procedure including financing costs to find levelized cost/kWh. 12 % seems a bit high to me for an interest rate on something so ‘concrete’ as a power plant, but then the 12 % discount (but only for 20 years!) in isolation would make O&M seem too cheap, wouldn’t it (except the 20 year thing?)? OTOH, PV degrades slowly over time…

    Re 282 Edward Greisch – maybe that’s were most of the wind power would be in their scenario? (I think that was Kevin McKinney’s point although I only glanced at one of those maps.)

    (PS they used PVWatts for solar (not sure if this is how they accessed it or if it’s the same version, but http://gisatnrel.nrel.gov/PVWatts_Viewer/index.html (note: you can zoom out to get global) (you can get monthly averages for an average year; you can also get specific hours for actual years, although the time periods differ among locations – frustrating if you want to run your own regional simulation); keep in mind http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roof_pitch .

    For CSP there’s http://maps.nrel.gov/prospector (note: you can zoom out to get Hawaii) – if you go to Analysis Tools, then Resource Graph, and then click on places, you can get graphs showing the annual cycle (average, and extremes – PS there is of course some autocorrelation in the weather (persistence), but I wouldn’t assume the worst year is as bad as all the worst months in a row) – which is notably flatter in some places than others and in some cases has a summertime dip (so as renewable penetration increases, the value of resources may shift from where the annual average is highest toward where the seasonal cycle matches remaining net loads and/or less interannual variability) –

    See also http://rredc.nrel.gov/solar/old_data/nsrdb/ (note not all data sets are easily/generally accessable (I got a warning message once – not sure if it was here or somewhere else on nrel – but just be careful out there, okay). For the 1991-2010, I’ve used “NSRDB Research Solar Fields Data (No Meteorological Data)” – Individual years (so I didn’t need to bother with compression software; of course, It takes so long I never got around to finishing what I started).

    See also http://rredc.nrel.gov/solar/new_data/variability/ (though I haven’t gone through it yet myself but I sampled a map and though I didn’t understand it, it was quite interesting-looking  ).)

    286 Thomas Lee Elifritz – makes sense but we’ve been told by moderators not to. I jumped in (with some caution) because it was already happening – not generally a good excuse but in this case I’m prepared to stop whenever necessary (and maybe the moderators are okay with it so far – maybe it’s been more productive and civil than at other times?) – and now seems like a good time. … Re 281 David B. Benson – a bridge http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/impacts-adaptation/energy.html to http://www.skepticalscience.com/jetstream-guide.html

  50. Hank Roberts:

    > life prior to the advent of air conditioning
    As a born Southerner
    with relatives from Georgia to Texas,
    let me here testify
    that while I grew up
    with no air conditioning anywhere,
    I would not expect to grow old
    in “99 and 99” hot humid conditions without it.

    Ideal answer: shade your roof from the summer sun with PV panels.
    Cool the PV panels and preheat your incoming water supply, and dump excess heat into the ground with a heat pump to use for wintertime.

    Not affordable yet, mostly.