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Mitigation of Climate Change – Part 3 of the new IPCC report

Filed under: — stefan @ 17 April 2014

Brigitte Knopf_441B9424_Sep2012_web

 

 

 

Guest post by Brigitte Knopf

 

 

 

 

 

 

Global emissions continue to rise further and this is in the first place due to economic growth and to a lesser extent to population growth. To achieve climate protection, fossil power generation without CCS has to be phased out almost entirely by the end of the century. The mitigation of climate change constitutes a major technological and institutional challenge. But: It does not cost the world to save the planet.

This is how the new report was summarized by Ottmar Edenhofer, Co-Chair of Working Group III of the IPCC, whose report was adopted on 12 April 2014 in Berlin after intense debates with governments. The report consists of 16 chapters with more than 2000 pages. It was written by 235 authors from 58 countries and reviewed externally by 900 experts. Most prominent in public is the 33-page Summary for Policymakers (SPM) that was approved by all 193 countries. At a first glance, the above summary does not sound spectacular but more like a truism that we’ve often heard over the years. But this report indeed has something new to offer.

The 2-degree limit

For the first time, a detailed analysis was performed of how the 2-degree limit can be kept, based on over 1200 future projections (scenarios) by a variety of different energy-economy computer models. The analysis is not just about the 2-degree guardrail in the strict sense but evaluates the entire space between 1.5 degrees Celsius, a limit demanded by small island states, and a 4-degree world. The scenarios show a variety of pathways, characterized by different costs, risks and co-benefits. The result is a table with about 60 entries that translates the requirements for limiting global warming to below 2-degrees into concrete numbers for cumulative emissions and emission reductions required by 2050 and 2100. This is accompanied by a detailed table showing the costs for these future pathways.

The IPCC represents the costs as consumption losses as compared to a hypothetical ‘business-as-usual’ case. The table does not only show the median of all scenarios, but also the spread among the models. It turns out that the costs appear to be moderate in the medium-term until 2030 and 2050, but in the long-term towards 2100, a large spread occurs and also high costs of up to 11% consumption losses in 2100 could be faced under specific circumstances. However, translated into reduction of growth rate, these numbers are actually quite low. Ambitious climate protection would cost only 0.06 percentage points of growth each year. This means that instead of a growth rate of about 2% per year, we would see a growth rate of 1.94% per year. Thus economic growth would merely continue at a slightly slower pace. However, and this is also said in the report, the distributional effects of climate policy between different countries can be very large. There will be countries that would have to bear much higher costs because they cannot use or sell any more of their coal and oil resources or have only limited potential to switch to renewable energy.

The technological challenge

Furthermore – and this is new and important compared to the last report of 2007 – the costs are not only shown for the case when all technologies are available, but also how the costs increase if, for example, we would dispense with nuclear power worldwide or if solar and wind energy remain more expensive than expected.

The results show that economically and technically it would still be possible to remain below the level of 2-degrees temperature increase, but it will require rapid and global action and some technologies would be key:

Many models could not achieve atmospheric concentration levels of about 450 ppm CO2eq by 2100, if additional mitigation is considerably delayed or under limited availability of key technologies, such as bioenergy, CCS, and their combination (BECCS).

Probably not everyone likes to hear that CCS is a very important technology for keeping to the 2-degree limit and the report itself cautions that CCS and BECCS are not yet available at a large scale and also involve some risks. But it is important to emphasize that the technological challenges are similar for less ambitious temperature limits.

The institutional challenge

Of course, climate change is not just a technological issue but is described in the report as a major institutional challenge:

Substantial reductions in emissions would require large changes in investment patterns

Over the next two decades, these investment patterns would have to change towards low-carbon technologies and higher energy efficiency improvements (see Figure 1). In addition, there is a need for dedicated policies to reduce emissions, such as the establishment of emissions trading systems, as already existent in Europe and in a handful of other countries.

Since AR4, there has been an increased focus on policies designed to integrate multiple objectives, increase co‐benefits and reduce adverse side‐effects.

The growing number of national and sub-national policies, such as at the level of cities, means that in 2012, 67% of global GHG emissions were subject to national legislation or strategies compared to  only 45% in 2007. Nevertheless, and that is clearly stated in the SPM, there is no trend reversal of emissions within sight – instead a global increase of emissions is observed.

IPCC_WG3_SPM_Figure_9

Figure 1: Change in annual investment flows from the average baseline level over the next two decades (2010 to 2029) for mitigation scenarios that stabilize concentrations within the range of approximately 430–530 ppm CO2eq by 2100. Source: SPM, Figure SPM.9

 

Trends in emissions

A particularly interesting analysis, showing from which countries these emissions originate, was removed from the SPM due to the intervention of some governments, as it shows a regional breakdown of emissions that was not in the interest of every country (see media coverage here or here). These figures are still available in the underlying chapters and the Technical Summary (TS), as the government representatives may not intervene here and science can speak freely and unvarnished. One of these figures shows very clearly that in the last 10 years emissions in countries of upper middle income – including, for example, China and Brazil – have increased while emissions in high-income countries – including Germany – stagnate, see Figure 2. As income is the main driver of emissions in addition to the population growth, the regional emissions growth can only be understood by taking into account the development of the income of countries.

Historically, before 1970, emissions have mainly been emitted by industrialized countries. But with the regional shift of economic growth now emissions have shifted to countries with upper middle income, see Figure 2, while the industrialized countries have stabilized at a high level. The condensed message of Figure 2 does not look promising: all countries seem to follow the path of the industrialized countries, with no “leap-frogging” of fossil-based development directly to a world of renewables and energy efficiency being observed so far.

AR5_figure_TS.4

Figure 2: Trends in GHG emissions by country income groups. Left panel: Total annual anthropogenic GHG emissions from 1970 to 2010 (GtCO2eq/yr). Middle panel: Trends in annual per capita mean and median GHG emissions from 1970 to 2010 (tCO2eq/cap/yr). Right panel: Distribution of annual per capita GHG emissions in 2010 of countries within each income group (tCO2/cap/yr). Source: TS, Figure TS.4

 

But the fact that today’s emissions especially rise in countries like China is only one side of the coin. Part of the growth in CO2 emissions in the low and middle income countries is due to the production of consumption goods that are intended for export to the high-income countries (see Figure 3). Put in plain language: part of the growth of Chinese emissions is due to the fact that the smartphones used in Europe or the US are produced in China.

AR5_figure_TS.5

Figure 3: Total annual CO2 emissions (GtCO2/yr) from fossil fuel combustion for country income groups attributed on the basis of territory (solid line) and final consumption (dotted line). The shaded areas are the net CO2 trade balance (difference) between each of the four country income groups and the rest of the world. Source: TS, Figure TS.5

 

The philosophy of climate change

Besides all the technological details there has been a further innovation in this report, that is the chapter on “Social, economic and ethical concepts and methods“. This chapter could be called the philosophy of climate change. It emphasizes that

Issues of equity, justice, and fairness arise with respect to mitigation and adaptation. […] Many areas of climate policy‐making involve value judgements and ethical considerations.

This implies that many of these issues cannot be answered solely by science, such as the question of a temperature level that avoids dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system or which technologies are being perceived as risky. It means that science can provide information about costs, risks and co-benefits of climate change but in the end it remains a social learning process and debate to find the pathway society wants to take.

Conclusion

The report contains many more details about renewable energies, sectoral strategies such as in the electricity and transport sector, and co-benefits of avoided climate change, such as improvements of air quality. The aim of Working Group III of the IPCC was, and the Co-Chair emphasized this several times, that scientists are mapmakers that will help policymakers to navigate through this difficult terrain in this highly political issue of climate change. And this without being policy prescriptive about which pathway should be taken or which is the “correct” one. This requirement has been fulfilled and the map is now available. It remains to be seen where the policymakers are heading in the future.

 

The report :

Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change – IPCC Working Group III Contribution to AR5

 

Brigitte Knopf is head of the research group Energy Strategies Europe and Germany at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and one of the authors of the report of the IPCC Working Group III and is on Twitter as @BrigitteKnopf

This article was translated from the German original at RC’s sister blog KlimaLounge.

 

Reaclimate coverage of the IPCC 5th Assessment Report:

Summary of Part 1, Physical Science Basis

Summary of Part 2, Impacts, Adaptation, Vulnerability

Summary of Part 3, Mitigation

Sea-level rise in the AR5

Attribution of climate change to human causes

Radiative forcing of climate change


178 Responses to “Mitigation of Climate Change – Part 3 of the new IPCC report”

  1. 151
    Chris Dudley says:

    Edward (#142),

    Once nuclear power becomes uncompetitive with low cost renewable energy, as is happening now (Exelon (wind), South Texas Project (solar), Entergy (hydro)), it accrues an opportunity cost that reduces the rate of transition to low carbon generation if it is not shut down. So, no, in a market situation, the (now) relatively expensive nuclear power increases cumulative emissions since money is diverted from getting larger lower cost capacity in the renewables.

  2. 152
    Chris Dudley says:

    Edward (#141),

    Price-Anderson is a huge subsidy. http://capedownwinders.org/nuclear-liability-the-market-based-post-fukushima-case-for-ending-price-anderson/

    It also induces moral delinquency in nuclear supporters. You should join me in calling for its repeal.

  3. 153
    Chris Dudley says:

    Edward (#140),

    You’ve really misunderstood the situation with nuclear power. The levelized cost of new nuclear power is vastly greater than for renewables. Going with overcapacity is much much cheaper with renewables. And, you have completely forgotten that nuclear power uses fuel. The IPCC point out that there is only enough fuel available for a century or so of nuclear power at the present rate of use. You want to expand that by a factor of 10 to cover peak use and run all the time. That gives you about thirteen years of power (and about 6 major accidents as well during that time). Over capacity is an option for renwables since they don’t use fuel, but not for nuclear power. Your plan is completely unworkable.

  4. 154
    Chris Dudley says:

    kleymo,

    Electrification of transportation is a simplification, not an increase in complexity. Similarly, education of woman reduces a social barrier. The first reduces energy demand, the second may increase household income, but in some places it has raised environmental awareness and led to reforestation. Urbanization in India and China seems to increase energy use, but switching to renewables can probably negate that. And, that is also the path to lower cost energy. IPCC WG III section 7.4 covers covers resource availability.

  5. 155
    David B. Benson says:

    Time for a reminder of the statistics from Europe:
    http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/03/deaths-per-twh-by-energy-source.html

  6. 156
    Chris Dudley says:

    Another problem for mitigation, beyond the lies spread by the faltering nuclear industry, is the money provided by subsidies for fossil fuel to pursue campaigns against clean energy in state legislatures. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/27/opinion/sunday/the-koch-attack-on-solar-energy.html

    Ending fossil fuel subsidies should be a priority to stop this type of misappropriation.

  7. 157
    Edward Greisch says:

    151, 152, 153, 154, 156 Chris Dudley: We already know that you have a financial stake in renewables. WHO has an emotional connection to renewable energy?

    1. See 155 by David B. Benson. To make renewables as safe as nuclear, renewables have to be kept far away from people. Then renewables would be an ecological disaster.

    2. Comments 151, 152, 153, 154, 156 by Chris Dudley are nonsense.

    3. There is a billion years’ worth of uranium dissolved in the oceans according to James Hansen. Recycling will extend land based nuclear fuel for 30000 years.

    4. Etcetera.

    5. Sodium-sulfur battery: You have many years of research, design and development ahead before it works. Then you have to create an industry to build it. By that time, civilization will have crashed or the climate will have crossed tipping points.

    6. Factory built nuclear production lines are already certified. Production can be ramped up quickly enough to save us.

    7. Chris Dudley forgets that we are scientists and engineers, impressed with math and numbers, not rhetoric. Nor do we have a financial stake in anything.

    8. If wind power were cheaper and better than the alternatives, why didn’t the utilities stay with wind power a century ago? The utility companies use wind and solar only when forced to do so by law, and wind and solar have caused the price of electricity to double already in California. The price of electricity is even higher in Denmark and Germany.

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/merkel-s-switch-to-renewables-rising-energy-prices-endanger-german-industry-a-816669-2.html

    Danes pay 20.6 Euro cents/kWh
    Germans pay 16.7 Euro cents/kwh
    Californians pay 15 US cents/kwh
    I pay 7.5 US cents/kwh
    BECAUSE I do not have to pay for renewable energy.

    Enough of this. Gish gallop all you want, Chris Dudley. Chris Dudley is on ignore.

  8. 158
    Edward Greisch says:

    PS: 1 Euro equals 1.38 US Dollar

  9. 159

    #157–Bit of a Gish gallop yourself, there, Ed. I won’t try to respond to every point. But I’ll observe that you do something that doesn’t behoove ‘scientists and engineers,’ which is to confuse the ‘cost of renewable energy’ with the cost of incentives employed to induce folks to build a whole lot of renewable capacity in a hurry.

    Yes, the Danes and Germans pay more for electricity. But that isn’t because wind and solar are inherently expensive. It’s because that’s how they’ve chosen to structure their tax regime–yes, in part to fund the adoption of renewables. Note, however, that both countries have high standards of living and vibrant economies. What’s lost on the swings can be regained on the roundabouts. Note further that both nations are pressing ahead with plans to increase renewable capacities yet further.

    In fact, Danish energy policy calls for 100% renewables by 2050. If renewables were as problematic as you think, shouldn’t we be seeing some ‘buyer’s remorse’ in Denmark by now?

    In the global picture, IRENA reports that:

    Considering only net fossil fuel investment in 2012, renewable power was in the lead for the third consecutive year, with its USD 227 billion taking a wide lead over fossil fuels’ estimated USD 147.7. If investment in hydropower projects >50 MW is included, then global investment in renewable power capacity was one-and-a-half to two times the net investment in fossil fuels in 2012.

    I’d respectfully submit that those sorts of investment flows aren’t the result of ‘emotional decision-making.’ And they illustrate the reality that, on the ground today, what is displacing fossil capacity is renewables.

    I have a question for you, though. You write that “Factory built nuclear production lines are already certified. Production can be ramped up quickly enough to save us.”

    I have grave doubts that the second sentence is correct, and I have yet to see anything more than the merest hand-waving supporting similar statements I’ve read in the past. I’d like to think that there is something to this argument, though, because the more things that potentially could save our collective butt, the better. So, can you expand on your first statement? Where are these plants, what do they build, and do you have some quantitative assessment of how much cost/time/whatever they can save in construction?

    To give a little background on my skepticism, as a resident of Georgia and property owner in South Carolina, I watch the nuclear scene with some interest, including the construction of the two new Vogtle reactors near Waynesboro, Georgia. The latest story on that–the top Google hit this morning–is this:

    http://onlineathens.com/local-news/2014-04-26/plant-vogtle-owners-avoid-loan-subsidy-fee

    (You might want to consider that one when next tempted to rail about subsidies for renewables.)

    But to return to the main sub-point, the use of off-site ‘production line’ techniques hasn’t been a success story for the Vogtle expansion:

    Delays in fabricating and shipping the CA20 submodules increased project costs, eventually causing Georgia Power to issue a stop-work order to contractor Chicago Bridge & Iron. In the past year, CB&I delivered all remaining submodules to the Vogtle site for inspection and repair work allowing for “enhanced supervision and significantly accelerated the release process for assembly,” the report said.

    Is that the sort of thing you are referring to, or is there more on this that I should know about?

  10. 160
    David Miller says:

    #157 (and many others)

    And so we once again descend into the nuclear noise.

    Personally, I agree with parts of what both the pro- and anti- people have to say.

    The part that drives me up the wall is when the pro-nuke crowd says that gen IV nukes could do all the things we want if we put on a WW-II style push to get on them.

    Sure, they could. But a WW-II style push could make a lot of technologies work. Wind, geothermal, solar, and efficiency, for example. If one tends toward exotica, a WW-II push toward space solar could probably be made to work.

    The pro-nuke lobby says that renewables *can’t* do the job because they’re not cutting emissions today deliberately ignores that we’re not applying the level of effort required for nuclear technology to renewables. The argument is intellectually dishonest, as would be arguing that nuclear isn’t capable of getting us out of this mess because emissions continue to rise despite the continued deployment of a mature technology.

  11. 161
    Chris Dudley says:

    Edward (#157),

    You are becoming quite unbalanced. You do realize that I never once mentioned those batteries right? You are arguing against your own strawman. I see absolutely no evidence that you are a scientist or engineer. You certainly don’t read carefully enough or show any sense of numbers. And, you don’t write truthfully either. Claiming that SMRs are on the way is a very false statement. http://www.forbes.com/sites/pikeresearch/2014/04/28/mpower-pullback-stalls-small-nuclear/

    It’s not about rhetoric Edward, it is about your emotional state regarding nuclear power. Your seem to be driven to delusion.

  12. 162
    kleymo says:

    @ Chris Dudley et al:

    “electrification is a simplification.” Okay, a real world example – my 9 unit condo assoc. has an 8 year old boiler/hot water heater – $50,000 in “previous investment.” It would take around $100,000 for us to convert to solar/wind/solar hot water, not including remaking the back stairs to go to the roof, and installing a new overhanging roof (I don’t care about the govt. subsidy, because someone pays it). Does anyone on this site think your typical person is going to go electric with these numbers?

    How would the system be installed? Well, a big truck burning diesel delivers the material. The material mined to make the solar panels, etc. comes from all over the world, using oil derived fuel. Electricity is used to illuminate rooms here and there from nuclear power, I suppose. (Oh wait, the parts and general maintenance of the nuclear power plants comes from fossil fuel derived sources; well, I am sure that some of the electricity comes from wind – oh wait, the maintenance of the wind power complexes requires parts, etc. derived using oil derived fuel; come to think of it, lets absolutely ignore what I just wrote:)

    What would it take to make this process all electric? The Germans have tested a delivery truck that runs on electricity like a trolleybus, and can then run on diesel for short periods. The amount of money needed to put such a plan in motion has not been found. http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/siemens-misguided-idea-about-putting-power-lines-on-german-roads-a-842834.html

    Okay, I get my neighbors to throw out a heating system that is good for another 20 years minimum, spend over $50,000 on new plumbing, a new overhang for the roof, redone electricity that is 10-20% of what they had before, and to boot we install LED lighting everywhere. The upfront investment will only pay for itself over a period of 10-20 years. How long are my neighbors going to be living here? Why do they want to pay for someone else to save money when they are gone?

    So, has anyone here run the numbers? How long would it take to transform a society from one form of energy to another? Ugo Bardi et al think around 40 years. Is it possible given the resource numbers we have? No, not for 7 billion people, and it is not realistic to lower that number and still expect to have a functioning economy that could transition.

    I think it worth a climate scientist’s while to take resource depletion into consideration when addressing climate issues.

  13. 163
    kleymo says:

    On oil company subsidies:

    I have noticed an eagerness among some to view the oil companies as THE PROBLEM, and not part of the problem. What does the scientific method have to say about this situation –

    Scientific Method for Kids (website):

    Question – Can demand driven forecasting accurately project future resource usage?

    Background Research – Demand driven forecasting is being used to project resource usage (and thus climate projections). Demand driven forecasting has not accurately reflected resource production since the mid-2000’s. Supply driven forecasting does accurately reflect resource usage. http://energypolicy.columbia.edu/events-calendar/global-oil-market-forecasting-main-approaches-key-drivers

    Hypothesis – If demand driven forecasting is used in a resource constrained environment, then projections based on this type of forecasting will be erroneous.

    Experiment – We see what happens to oil companies that use demand driven forecasting if the cost of production continues to increase.

    Data – Once again, we may turn to Gail Tverberg, who informs us that: “lack of sufficient investment is poised to bring the system down. That is basically the expected limit under Limits to Growth.” http://ourfiniteworld.com/2014/02/25/beginning-of-the-end-oil-companies-cut-back-on-spending/

    Observations – a) I spent $4.12 at the pump yesterday. Last year I spent more than the year before, and this has been constant for years. b) The number of people unemployed is rising, whatever the government says, and has been doing so for years. c) Debt continues to rise, but investment does not rise at all.

    Conclusions – a) Oil production will become increasingly less economical, requiring more and more resource/financial allocation for an energy return. This is unsustainable. Therefore, resource usage will go down. b) As resource usage goes down, the amount of pollution will be reduced commiseratively. How fast depends upon the ability of the system to compensate for the increasing cost of resources, which is unknown. A big fat guess would be 2-4% lower every year.

    So, is the above crazy? It is based on serious study of the problem of resource production.

    Communication (the last item on the “scientific method for kids” list) – Have another look at where you are getting your numbers from to draw climate numbers from. I think you may be cheered (assuming you don’t have children, of course).

  14. 164
    DIOGENES says:

    Edward Greisch #157,

    The Der Spiegel article you referenced was very interesting. Some takeaways:

    “Last spring, Chancellor Angela Merkel set Germany on course to eliminate nuclear power in favor of renewable energy sources. Now, though, several industries are suffering as electricity prices rapidly rise. Many companies are having to close factories or move abroad.”

    “many manufacturers of wind turbines and solar panels complain that business is bad and are cutting jobs. Some solar companies have already gone out of business. The environmental sector faces a number of problems, especially — and ironically — those stemming from high energy prices.”

    “According to a recent survey by the DIHK, almost one in five industrial companies plans to shift capacities abroad — or has already done so. The study also finds that almost 60 percent fear power outages or voltage fluctuations in the power grid, BECAUSE WIND AND SOLAR POWER ARE STILL TOO UNRELIABLE.”

    “Until now, the reliability of the German electricity supply was seen as a significant advantage for doing business in the country. But the loss of several nuclear power plants, coupled with the UNPREDICTABILITY OF ELECTRICITY FROM WIND AND SOLAR SOURCES, has changed the situation.”

    Not quite the same picture we got from Fish on his idyllic life under renewables!

  15. 165
    Chris Dudley says:

    The Supreme Court has upheld EPA rules limiting cross border pollution. This is likely to cut carbon dioxide emissions owing to the cost of limiting the covered pollutants which come mainly from coal burning. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/30/us/politics/supreme-court-backs-epa-coal-pollution-rules.html

  16. 166
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by DIOGENES — 29 Apr 2014 @ 8:40 AM, ~#164

    You say- “Not quite the same picture we got from Fish on his idyllic life under renewables!”

    This is quite uncalled for. You and Killian like to make fun, but unlike you my electric appliances, lighting, water supply, domestic hot water, house heating and cooling all do not require any fossil fuel. This is not easy. It requires planning, work, and paying attention, but it saves a lot of money and fossil carbon in the long run. Based upon what you have said about this issue, you don’t have a clue.

    Steve

  17. 167
    David B. Benson says:

    Those still interested in debating the merits of various electricity generation sources are encouraged to use
    NREL’s Simple Levelized Cost of Energy Calculator
    http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/tech_lcoe.html
    as starter of generation costs, add in suitable sums for transmission where applicable, while attempting to find mixtures of generation sources to meet the demand for a reference grid based on watching
    BPA Balancing Authority Load and Total Wind, Hydro, and Thermal Generation, Near-Real-Time
    http://transmission.bpa.gov/business/operations/wind/baltwg.aspx

    The reference load is 20 GW from 6 am to 11 pm, flat for simplicity, and but 70% of that overnight. [I will point out that I have often offered this overly simplified technical challenge and have yet to see an amateur attempt posted online other than my own, over on Brave New Climate.] Of course we want a mixture of generation which is as carbon dioxide free as possible and still meets FERC reliability guidelines of about 8 hours of outages from all causes per annum.

  18. 168
    DIOGENES says:

    Steve Fish #166,

    “You and Killian like to make fun”

    The main point of the posting was to elucidate the Der Speigel concerns over what renewables are doing to the reliability and costs of German power, and the subsequent fallout on the economy.

    [edit – just stop]

  19. 169
    Chris Dudley says:

    kleymo (#162),

    You are babbling a bit there by starting off by misquoting me. Electrification of transportation is a simplification. I pointed that out because TOD mavens make so so many errors of fact. Building stock rolls over more slowly than transportation stock, so some of your misunderstanding stems from your misquoting.

    Now, you did not say what fuel your boiler used, but pretty clearly, much less fuel is involved in delivering and installing solar than in running the boiler. That is a typical TOD error to make.

    In my #78, I link to a paper which calls TOD slow energy transition hero Smil a pompous presumptuous prognosticator out of touch with the facts (paraphrased). You may want to read it since the numbers have been run and they are encouraging. http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2014/04/mitigation-of-climate-change-part-3-of-the-new-ipcc-report/comment-page-2/#comment-506734

    TOD starts out with the premiss that the sky is falling and then writes ominous articles on every single snowflake that comes down that they think must support their premise. Huge grains of salt are needed even when useful concepts are discussed there. Don’t get baffled into babbling.

  20. 170
    Chuck Hughes says:

    This looks really weird to me. Check out this latest satellite image from this weeks storm:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/wp/2014/04/30/freak-s-shaped-storm-unleashes-biblical-rain-in-pensacola-mobile/

  21. 171
    Chris Dudley says:

    Kevin,

    Here is an interesting EIA wrinkle. They are using economic models based on existing regulations. So, from and economic point of view, they get:

    “Carbon emissions would be 4 percent higher with increased nuclear shutdowns in 2040 when compared with the normal plant retirement cycle. That’s largely because the nuclear capacity — which has no emissions — would be replaced with a 13 percent growth in natural gas power and a 5 percent increase in renewable energy.

    Natural gas would see a 19 percent increase by 2040 if coal power plants were shut down early, while renewables would grow 10 percent, EIA said. Emissions would drop 20 percent, though, because natural gas emits less than coal.

    Emissions fall only 14 percent in EIA’s projection if both coal and nuclear plants were put on an accelerated retirement cycle.” http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/204526-coal-and-nuclear-power-plant-retirements-to-impact-carbon-emissions

    However, they have not really let the invisible had do its work. “Those projected [nuclear] retirements are represented by derating of existing capacity for plants in vulnerable regions, not by retiring specific plants.” http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/04/28/utilities-nuclear-eia-idINL2N0NK23D20140428

    So, they have not taken into account the effect of closing the least competitive plants. That puts wind in a position to further moderate use of lower efficiency gas generation since the average cost of producing electricity will have fallen more than by just the simplified derating scheme the EIA used. More likely, shutting the least competitive plants cuts emissions rather than increasing them. One might end up with more gas generation, but less fuel use and lower emissions. As has been observed already: http://will.illinois.edu/nfs/RenaissanceinReverse7.18.2013.pdf

    They seem also to be a little behind the times on how new generation splits between gas and renewables. They may be using a running average or their customary pessimistic cost assumptions. And, we know that they count rooftop solar as demand reduction rather than new generation so they may have that curve off as well. Time of day demand reduction from rooftop solar has had a dramatic effect on natural gas use efficiency in California.

    So, what the EIA does u=is useful, but some important fine grain aspects could mean they got the sign wrong here.

  22. 172

    #171–Thanks, Chris. Yes, the EIA is always behind both cost and deployment curves.

    The U. Illinois paper is quite interesting, in a grim sort of way–“grim” from a pro-nuclear POV, I mean.

  23. 173
    seamus says:

    David Miller (#160),

    I don’t have any connection whatsoever to the nuclear industry, so please don’t accuse me of being part of the “pro-nuke lobby”. Like many of the folks at BNC and elsewhere who support nuclear energy for environmental reasons, I think we need to have a fair discussion about realistic solutions to the energy problem. Which means, like IPCC WG3 said, we’re looking at a mix of renewables, nuclear, and fossil fuels with CCS, if we want to do something meaningful about mitigation. Most major and developing governments around the world acknowledge the reality that nuclear should be part of the mix, including the US, UK, China, Russia, India, and Japan.

    Why can’t 100% non-nuclear renewables do the job? It’s the scale of the problem. A lot of our energy comes from fossil fuels. Global energy demand is rising and will continue to do so. We shouldn’t even be considering phasing out a primary source of low-carbon energy.

    Massive rollout? Why not? A non-exotic plan would be to start building Gen III/III+ reactors like the AP1000 right now. Basically advanced versions of the pressurized water reactors common today. This is what is happening, slowly in most places, and much more rapidly in China. What about the waste? The “spent” fuel can be stored until a closed fuel cycle using fast reactors can be developed (Gen IV technology isn’t that far off, the GE-Hitachi PRISM reactor for example could be utilized pretty rapidly). There is easily tens of thousands of years worth of low-carbon energy in the fissionable and fertile materials that have already been mined. Even without the imperative to do something _actually effective_ at reducing CO2 emissions, a closed nuclear fuel cycle makes sense for other reasons.

  24. 174
    seamus says:

    Kevin McKinney, (#159)

    I don’t think the article you linked about the costs of the new Vogtle reactors says what you want it to say. What major infrastructure project doesn’t have occasional issues with suppliers? According to the article, the problem you mentioned hasn’t affected the overall cost or schedule.

    The AP1000 reactor has a standardized, modular design. Of course that helps keep costs down. In fact, things that have been learned in the process of building the first ones in China are helping to build the ones in the US.

    China’s reactor construction offers insights

  25. 175

    UCSC Climate Science & Policy Conference – January event – videos now posted. Keynotes by Dr Susan Solomon and Dr. Michael Mann

    The videos for the UC Santa Cruz Climate Conference are now up on the Social Sciences’ website http://socialsciences.ucsc.edu/news-events/events/climate%20conference.html.

  26. 176
  27. 177
    Steve Fish says:

    Re- Comment by Hank Roberts — 30 May 2014 @ 11:41 AM0

    Hi Hank. Cooking in the third world is a big problem. There doesn’t seem to be a simple way to bypass all the interim stages of development in the same way that cell phones have bypassed the massive switching stations and copper wire on poles that land lines went through.

    The problem is that the most efficient way to burn biomass is full tilt boogey wide open. This produces the minimum of carbon smoke and wasted burnable byproducts (e.g. wood gas components). This requires a chimney to provide a strong flow through a port that directs air directly onto the fire. This, also, means that damping the fire down to extend the burn or to control temperature produces smoke, pollution, and creosote in the chimney which is wasted energy. Biomass works best for wood gasification or open burn stoves, like masonry heaters, for heating homes and hot water, but not for cooking.

    Our Not So Simple Living Fair has a solar oven demonstration every year. They are simple to make but only work well if your cuisine consists of casseroles and chunks of meat, and don’t work well on cloudy days. Check out Rocket Stoves and the various version of biochar cooking, but I think they have big problems for the third world. A slight advancement in solar panel efficiency and batteries, along with a specially made microwave oven is what is needed.

    Steve

  28. 178

    #174–Missed your comment at the time, Sean–sorry. But I’m bemused. What part of “Delays in fabricating and shipping the CA20 submodules increased project costs” am I misunderstanding?


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