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Forced responses: Aug 2019

Filed under: — group @ 31 July 2019

Bi-monthly thread on climate solutions and responses.

243 Responses to “Forced responses: Aug 2019”

  1. 151
    Dan Hughes says:

    #145 David Benson said; He has ruined his reputation and is a well-known ideologue.

    Do you mean this Mark Jacobson at Stanford University, who has about 27,000 citations, (ca.14,000 in past five years), to his peer-reviewed publications in climate science?

    Your assertion about a person, stated with no supporting data or argument, lacks the specificity that once was the hallmark of RealClimate. Supply information to support your ad hominem, otherwise your comment carries no facts and should be discarded.

  2. 152
    Al Bundy says:

    E-P,

    I just realized that I didn’t respond to your question about whether I was asking you to lie about criticality. The Nuclear Heating Pad I envision would be run a tad sub-critical. The teensy tiny deficiency would be made up by whatever external neutron source one desires.

    No lies, just designing for public sentiment.

  3. 153
    zebra says:

    #144 David Benson,

    I looked up ERCOT; it sounds like it deals primarily with wholesale, and my suggestion is for retail; as I said, I would exclude the grid operator from acting as a retailer along with not doing generation, because of the risk of monopolization.

    But regional entities like ERCOT would no doubt be part of the mix; you can’t have a true free market without government intervention and rigorous oversight, and clearly you have to deal with multiple grid/transmission line operators over distances.

    So, as I’ve said multiple times now, you can buy electricity from your neighbor’s solar panels, or from a nuclear plant hundreds of miles away; the grid operator gets paid for keeping the lines up and coordinating between buyers and sellers, but the actual transaction is between the consumer and the generator.

    And as I’ve also said many times, if externalities are dealt with by the government, this seems the best way to optimize the mix of generating options, and it should appeal to people who think nuclear has a great competitive advantage.

    But clearly it doesn’t.

  4. 154
    zebra says:

    #146 Al Bundy,

    That’s OK Al; I get the idea, and the details are not something I would be able to evaluate without more research (and re-education) than I have time for.

  5. 155

    ep–

    No country has done it with wind and “solar”, anytime, anyplace, EVER. So top pretending it is possible.

    Right, because we know from history that what was once impossible is always impossible!

    (Cf., cooking, baking, brewing, plant breeding, the wheel, smelting, animal breeding, and so on, right up through using nuclear fission to generate power, to recovering material samples from asteroids and engineering organisms.)

    That one was a true LOL.

  6. 156

    ab, #134–

    “…When I built a prototype 3000 ft2 house in Atlanta…”

    Now, the drawings of the heat recovery distribution system you describe are ones I’d *really* like to see! Don’t suppose you have any lying around still, from back when? Dimensions, etc?

    And thanks for the engine sketches. Quite a bit more comprehensible than the last batch.

  7. 157

    E-P 143: You cannot manufacture geothermal deposits.

    BPL: You never heard of Hot Dry Rock geothermal, I take it.

  8. 158
    nigelj says:

    Al Bundy @149 yes nuclear power transforms some materials permanently, but look at the considerable quantity materials needed for a wind farm compared to a nuclear reactor. On the surface there looks like a huge difference, I haven’t seen numbers. Basically converting the whole world to renewables could come up against planetary limits of finding enough materials at affordable cost, regardless of whether they can be recycled. This is one thing in favour of nuclear power, because it uses fewer materials per mwhr, even if it permanently alters the fuel.

  9. 159
    David B. Benson says:

    Dan Hughes @151 — You may wish to read prior threads here on Real Climate which support my assertion regarding Mark Jacobson. I am not going to repeat the story of his PNAS fiasco; too well known.

  10. 160
    David B. Benson says:

    zebra @153 — ERCOT Texas offers your choice of many different retailers for individual consumers, but that’s not your desire. While separate contracts between large consumers and suppliers is possible, and spot price markets such as mid-Columbia hub exist, individual residences are too small. Only recently have digital meters become available and installed but these could possibly only assist in adjusting the residence’s consumption.

    But that’s all one should care about; the current price of electrical power. Where it is sourced is up to the grid wholesale marketing method.

    It remains the case that the flatter the demand for electric power the better the situation for constant generators such as nuclear power plants.

  11. 161
    zebra says:

    #160 David Benson,

    I’m not suggesting that there couldn’t be retailers, as long as there is strict oversight to ensure competitiveness. Just not the grid operator.

    But I know that there are options even now for people to pay a bit more, for example, to get non-FF electricity. So, price is not the only market factor, and it might even end up in the future that wind/solar would be the better economic choice for certain applications. So more choice would work to optimize the mix.

    I’m not sure what time scale “flatter demand” refers to. But again, what I am proposing deals exactly with matching the characteristics of the generating modality to the needs of the consumer. Where the load is constant, it makes sense to sign up with a constant source. But in the examples I gave at #97, it might cost less and/or be a marketing/hiring benefit for the business if it has a nice big flat roof and parking lot.

    Why not let that get sorted out in the marketplace, instead of having these endless discussions that have no real-world agency, as long as fossil fuels are far cheaper than nuclear anyway?

    (Re smart meters… sure, they would be a part of it. The only people who object to them are right-wing loons who “don’t want the gubmint controlling my electricity”, even though they get it from a private company.)

  12. 162
    Michael Sweet says:

    Nigelj,

    There is a big difference between a ton of sand, which is common everywhere, and a gram of beryllium, which all comes from one mine in the US. A ton of sand costs $7 while beryllium costs $5 per gram. Enough beryllium to build out a significant amount of nuclear does not exist (not to mention hafnium, vanadium, uranium and other elements).

    Nuclear supporters upthread cite Michael Schillenberger who cites graph 10 in this 2015 report https://www.energy.gov/policy/initiatives/quadrennial-energy-review-qer/quadrennial-energy-review-second-installment to compare the tonnage used for renewable and nuclear energy. The graphs are numbered with chapter and number ie 2-4. There is no graph 10 in the report. Does this data really exist? Are they comparing data from 1997?

    The remainder of the graphs that Schillenberger uses are carefully cherry picked. For example, he says electricity is cheaper in France than Germany comparing nuclear and renewable. This is true for retail electricity because Germany has high retail taxes to encourage efficiency and France low taxes to make it appear nuclear is cheaper. The wholesale price in Germany is lower than France (only a little, it varies from year to year). He compares the cost of solar power in 2007 to nuclear energy now. Solar has gone down dramatically in price since 2007.

    Carefully check everything the nuclear supporters say. They have no reply to Abbott 2012 which gives 13 reasons nuclear cannot generate more than 5% of all power.

  13. 163
    Nemesis says:

    A truely forced response:

    ” 13.8.2019 – The Planet’s Real Overpopulation Problem: Too Many Rich People

    Blaming the climate crisis on overpopulation means blaming the most marginalised for a problem caused by the rich…”

    https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/wjwqky/overpopulation-climate-change-cause

    The population of these rich folks needs to be reduced fast and significantly. Do it willingly, otherwise Mother Nature will do it dead seriously.

  14. 164
    mike says:

    https://crosscut.com/2019/08/rebirth-nuclear-power-could-come-bellevue-if-congress-approves

    PNW news story on Bill Gates’ breed and burn nuclear project. Mining the uranium remains a dirty business that will take place far away from folks like Bill Gates, but the waste material is much smaller than traditional.

    I don’t know how this breed and burn fits with the msr technology, I don’t normally follow nuclear at all because it seems like the ultimate dead end technology, but I could be wrong about that.

    I have engineer friends who like SMR technology: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_modular_reactor

    Cheers

    Mike

  15. 165
    David B. Benson says:

    mike @161 — Uranium mining is much less a “dirty business” than coal mining. See the Wikipedia articles.

  16. 166
    nigelj says:

    Michael Sweet @162

    Firstly I just want to clarify things having done a quick google search to get a better feel for this issue. It takes approximately 1,400 wind turbines to provide the same electricty as a typical nuclear power station. It takes a solar farm of approximately 60 sq miles to match a typical nuclear power station (1000 mw). At face value that suggests renewables do need significantly more materials in general terms, especially metals, compared to nuclear power. Not prohibitively so obviously, but in a world of expanding needs and limited resources its significant and worthy of consideration.

    “There is a big difference between a ton of sand, which is common everywhere, and a gram of beryllium, which all comes from one mine in the US. A ton of sand costs $7 while beryllium costs $5 per gram.”

    Yes, but solar panels also use use Copper Indium Diselenide, Cadmium Telluride. Gallium Arsenide etc and presumably copper wiring. Ditto wind turbines dont just use steel which is abundant; they use a lot of other metals including copper in the motors which is somewhat limited in supply. Large battery instillations will be resource intensive

    “Enough beryllium to build out a significant amount of nuclear does not exist (not to mention hafnium, vanadium, uranium and other elements).”

    Yes these materials are in limited supply. And the power stations do use a fair quantity of basic construction materials like steel, because they are built like a fortress.

    In summary, both renewable energy and nuclear energy use certain materials in limited supply. We probably wont run out of any, because there are huge deposits of materials dissolved in sea water, but it means that any real push for low carbon generation will probably have cost issues and supply bottlenecks, suggesting we might need both renewables and nuclear power to spread the load of this problem. I think there is space for both.

    “Nuclear supporters upthread cite Michael Schillenberger who cites graph 10 in…. The remainder of the graphs that Schillenberger uses are carefully cherry picked. For example, he says electricity is cheaper in France than Germany comparing nuclear and renewable….”

    I accept all this. It’s obvious nuclear power is not a low cost generating option, at least in its currrent form. Generating companies in the USA are mostly choosing to build solar and wind power, because its lower cost and less problematic than nuclear power and their power source is free. I dont blame them, its the logical economic response.

    “Carefully check everything the nuclear supporters say. ”

    Yes and the nuclear lobby are devious, but lets be careful not to become dismissive and closed minded. Some new reactor technologies are interesting as others have mentioned above.

  17. 167
    MA Rodger says:

    Mal Adapted @16ELSEWHERE
    (You asked that any reply be posted here. But do note this is off-topic here. This should be an interchange on the UV thread)
    You misrepresent either Victor the Troll or the concept of “warrants and values” described in this RC OP.
    Victor’s “warrant” is far more evident than that of many of the other disruptive commenters who indulge here at RC. Victor’s comment @6ELSEWHERE was quite precise (although as per Victor’s usual contributions, he is mind-numbingly wrong to yet again be questioning such established science). He wrote:-

    (If for Antarctic ice loss 1920-to-date) “the key forcing is an increase in temperatures due to the effects of increased anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions,”] … (h)ow can that be when, as is well known, CO2 emissions were too low to have a significant effect on the rise in global temperatures from 1910 – ca. 1940, and global temperatures fell or remained steady (for whatever reason) from ca. 1940 to ca. 1980?”

    For almost 5 years now Victor has consistently denied that rising CO2 forcing can be the cause of global warming over the last century or so. His reason is that he feels the wobbles and bumps in the temperature record (or the SLR record) are too large and thus it is impossible to establish a quantative correlation between CO2 and AGW. Like many folk who suffer denial, Victor is ridiculously persistent with the silly arguments he employs supporting his fantasy. He even wrote a book full of it and he contributes greatly to the RC borehole.

  18. 168
    zebra says:

    #162 Michael Sweet,

    As I said in the comment just before yours at 161…

    What is the point of this repetitive back-and-forth about nuclear v renewables when we don’t have a carbon tax or other mechanism to reduce emissions? Who benefits, other than the fossil fuel people, by the endless repetition of negatives?

    We’re not going to run out of materials for either until we actually start building in large enough quantities to make a difference. And in the USA, the electricity sector is never going to be nationalized a la France, with hundreds of nuke plants mandated to be built, whatever the facts about materials and safety. So who are the nuke proponents trying to convince, and who are the nuke opponents trying to convince? Or is it just like some co-dependent old married couple fighting the same fight over and over?

    Why not make sure there is fair competition all around, and let the market sort things out? If it turns out energy for electricity and transportation becomes more expensive, we can always adapt and develop ways to use less.

    But neither ‘side’ seems interested in a real solution.

  19. 169
    Dan Hughes says:

    Well, this is strange.

    While at #145 David Benson claims that Professor Mark Jacobson has ruined his reputation and is a well-known ideologue, this recent peer-reviewed paper ranks him in position 35 out of 386 highly-cited Climate Change Scientists, CCS.

    Kinda makes you wonder just how many other highly-cited Climate Change Scientists might already be in the well-known ideologue category.

  20. 170
    David B. Benson says:

    Barton Paul Levenson — Just so you know:
    TVA plans to expand coal ash dry storage for Kingston Fossil Plant
    2019 Aug 15
    Power Engineering
    https://www.power-eng.com/articles/2019/08/tva-plans-to-expand-coal-ash-dry-storage-landfill-for-kingston-fossil-plant.html

    Note the large problem that occurred there.

  21. 171

    Michael Sweet, #162–

    “…sand, which is common everywhere…”

    Apparently, not as common as one might think–nor as common as used to be the case:

    “There’s so much demand for sand right now that we are stripping riverbeds bare. We’re stripping beaches bare. We’re tearing up forests and farmland to get at the sand. And things have gotten so bad in a lot of places that governments have really tried to crack down on it. As a result of that, organized crime has taken over the sand business.”

    https://www.npr.org/2017/07/21/538472671/world-faces-global-sand-shortage

    Still, there remains a wide price gap between sand and beryllium.

  22. 172
    David B. Benson says:

    Nobody should pay attention to Michael Sweet. Beryllium is rarely used in fission reactors. Similarly for hafnium. As for Abbott 2012 I findly actually read it. It is ignorable.

    The problem with currently available nuclear power plant designs is that they are capital intensive, resulting in high costs for the first 30 years of operational life. For the next 30 to 50 years the power generated is low cost, about like wind power but with the advantage of no intermittency. Some of this on a grid is a good idea.

    As for Germany, they burn considerable lignite. Hardly low carbon.

  23. 173
    patrick027 says:

    re 163 Nemesis

    – a good point, but I would look at it this way

    there is a certain quality of life/standard of living which I would like all people to enjoy

    it will be easier to attain this 1. if wealth is less concentrated, but also 2. if there are fewer people (and 3… better technology and practices, peace, etc.)

    Population growth in poorer parts of the world still concerns me because I would like them to not be so poor.

  24. 174
    zebra says:

    #173 patrick027,

    “Population growth in poorer parts of the world still concerns me because I would like them to not be so poor.”

    But, as has been pointed out over and over and over, the population grows because they are poor, not the other way around.

  25. 175
    Nemesis says:

    @patrick027, #173

    ” Population growth in poorer parts of the world still concerns me because I would like them to not be so poor.”

    That’s a joke, right? You say “Ah, please don’t breed as I can’t stand your poverty”. Sick.

    With extreme poverty comes high birth rate, that’s a fact, discussed a million times. But the sheeples of the rich countries just don’t wanna hear that, they enjoy that sick global inequality and give a fuck about the cost. Until they will be in extreme poverty too. Soon. I beg you Mother Nature, take away that sick, corrupt, destructive and injust wealth!

    She will.

  26. 176

    DBB 170: Barton Paul Levenson — Just so you know:
    TVA plans to expand coal ash dry storage for Kingston Fossil Plant

    BPL: And as I said, no one here advocates coal.

  27. 177

    DBB 172: As for Germany, they burn considerable lignite. Hardly low carbon.

    BPL: Germany is phasing out all 84 of its coal plants.

  28. 178

    zebra, #168–

    Who benefits, other than the fossil fuel people, by the endless repetition of negatives?

    Hear, hear. It’s another ‘circular firing squad’ in that regard. (Yeah, I know, I’ve been pointing out some (mostly economic) issues with nuclear power, too–but only to counter the ‘silver-bulletism’ of some, who believe that renewables are a threat to their favorite technology.)

    In reality, we’re not going to get a ‘pure’ nuclear OR RE grid anytime soon, regardless of what advocates of one or the other may say. I doubt that either one would be an optimum scenario, anyway, in terms of affordably and quickly decarbonizing the power grid. On the one hand, RE has shown the ability to scale very rapidly, and could we mobilize more political will, I think we could do much better even than we have been. On the other, while the intermittency of wind and solar has been much overblown as an issue, it nevertheless remains an issue–and a tougher one as intermittent power becomes a larger and larger proportion of the mix by all the work I’ve seen (including that of Mark Jacobson).

    I believe we could go 100% RE–after all, where there’s sufficient hydro, it’s already been done (cf., Uruguay). But in many cases, it would probably be a lot easier–meaning, less time and/or expense in decarbonizing–to have 10 or 15% supplied by conventional reactors. As DB said, “Some of this [mature nuclear capacity] on a grid is a good idea.”

  29. 179
    Scott E Strough says:

    @ 166 nigelj
    “In summary, both renewable energy and nuclear energy use certain materials in limited supply. We probably wont run out of any, because there are huge deposits of materials dissolved in sea water, but it means that any real push for low carbon generation will probably have cost issues and supply bottlenecks, suggesting we might need both renewables and nuclear power to spread the load of this problem. I think there is space for both.”

    Not a problem at all. We don’t need to convert 100% of energy from fossil fuels immediately. What we actually need to do immediately is balance the carbon cycle and begin drawdown. They are not the same thing.

    Long before we reach supply issues, the soil sequestration becomes so stupidly beneficial due to the price of carbon, that we will be converting significant cropland to soil carbon sinks. Simply because it pays much better than standard commodity crops already even with their 100s of billions in annual price supports. And when we reach bottlenecks in energy, it will force the relative price of carbon even higher.

    What the ultimate balancing point will be I am not sure. About 44% of CO2 emissions accumulated in the atmosphere. 30% absorbed by land systems, the rest by sea. If we improve sequestration in agriculture by 8Gt CO2 then we only need offset 8Gt fossil fuel emissions with renewables to reach break even.

    There is 4.62 billion acres of cropland worldwide. Almost all of it using methods that not only don’t sequester carbon, most actually are also an emissions source! So turning that land into a sink instead means to reach our 8Gt goal we need only sequester 2t/acre. That’s incredibly easy actually. That’s at the very bottom of the average 5-20 tonnes CO2e/ha/year measured in Australia decades ago!

    The cutting edge carbon farmers in the US are reach 5-10 times this in modern times and ordinary farmers simply using no-till + covercrops are getting numbers in the range! So this is almost guaranteed to succeed if even tried.

    That leaves 8 Gt of the 36 Gt total we need to offset. This should be easy enough to obtain without the need for extreme risky or expensive energy technologies. We could do more if we needed to drawndown CO2 even faster, but so far it looks like that is all we need for now.

  30. 180
    Al Bundy says:

    patrick027: there is a certain quality of life/standard of living which I would like all people to enjoy

    AB: This mindset can be reinforced by breaking the intergenerational linkage for wealth. If one knew that no matter how much wealth one accumulated one’s grandchildren would have little advantage over other folks’ grandchildren then one’s attitudes and actions would drastically improve. Inheritances should be limited to comfort levels. Nobody deserves to keep sucking at the teat of a silver bottle for life just because they were born of the right sperm.

    I’d accomplish this by taxing inheritances at the same rate as other income (with a hockey stick shaped rate) while also allowing the wealthy to divest their wealth tax-free to vetted valid causes when they die. Changing the visualization of the definition of “legacy” in the minds of the rich changes everything.

  31. 181

    I have finally gotten back to this discussion and have read up through comment #173.

    Let me state here that Microsoft is totally EVIL.  While I was supervising a burn of rotted and insect-ridden wood, Windows 10 rebooted without approval (or asking) and destroyed a pile of work in progress.  This is far from the first time.  Windows 10 is malware.

    Dell allegedly provides both Windows 7 and Linux for my particular computer.  Dell prohibits me from downloading and installing any of its approved installations of either because my particular unit ID isn’t “right”.  Dell is complicit in the Windows 10 malware infestation.

    Quoth David B. Benson:

    ERCOT Texas runs an energy only market for grid electricity. Works fine and all forms of generators, including nuclear power plants, participate.

    Just because all generators participate does not mean they are properly rewarded.  Paying “renewable” generators for whatever energy they can produce at the moment does not properly compensate the generators making certain that demand is met even when the “renewables” fall short.  Reliable generation deserves much greater payment than the unreliables.

    Wind and solar are inherently unreliable.  They deserve to be paid at the cost of avoided fuel burn when they are not in surplus, and at zero when they are in surplus.  That is all they’re worth.  That’s going to make them uneconomical.

    If we are going to pay for carbon emissions avoided, nuclear generators must be paid for every single kWh.  The unreliables do not deserve payment unless their generation has no carbon-emitting source on standby to deal with their unreliability.

    The great Dr. James Hansen says exactly the same thing:

    Q: What is your message to environmentalists?

    A: We have to put a price on carbon in a simple way and if we did that it would give an honest chance to all the carbon-free alternatives. But I’m finding that the environmental groups don’t want to let that happen. They want to subsidize their favourites, which is solar panels and windmills. What that does is lock in gas because of the intermittency of renewables.

    If he is credible when he says it, everyone else is credible when they say it.  Including me.

  32. 182

    Quoth Bart Paul Levinson:

    Straw man argument. No one here is advocating coal.

    Germany is using lignite as its backup while shutting down its nuclear capacity.  It doesn’t matter WHAT you advocate; what matters is what happens in the real world.

    Quoth Kevin McKinney:

    there are examples of national-level grids that are 100% renewable (or close). One is Norway

    Oh, FFS for the umpteenth time.  Norway’s grid is almost all hydro.  So is Iceland’s despite its geothermal resource; the bulk of the geothermal is of insufficient quality for electric generation.  Why do I have to keep repeating this:  “The solution is to use hydro until the resource is fully utilized, and then add nuclear.”

    The Canadian province of Quebec–which is about 2 1/2 times the size of Uruguay by population, and has a legislature it calls the “National Assembly” in recognition of its status as a “distinct society” within the Canadian federation–makes much more power than it uses, which it exports to both Canada and the US

    And that resource is strictly limited.  You can’t manufacture geography.  You can’t manufacture rainfall.  Worse, you can’t engineer your way around climate change-induced losses of the latter; see California for details.

  33. 183

    Quoth Kevin McKinney:

    You can take Ontario off that list. While Ontario does have 35% nuclear power, she also has 28% natgas.

    http://www.ieso.ca/learn/ontario-supply-mix/ontario-energy-capacity

    You quote nameplate generating capacity, not what is ACTUALLY generating.  Here’s what Canadian Energy Issues lists for total Ontario generation on 8/17/2019:
    Nuclear 220,160 MWh
    Hydro 71,344 MWh
    Gas 27,446 MWh
    Wind 15,097 MWh
    Solar 18,298 MWh
    Biofuel 2 MWh

    And here’s what REALLY matters:

    Average CO2 intensity per kWh (CIPK) over period: 29.45 grams

    That’s low enough to get to net-negative CO2 emissions after various removal mechanisms.  That should be the MINIMUM we tolerate.

  34. 184
    Nemesis says:

    @BPL, #177

    ” Germany is phasing out all 84 of its coal plants.”

    Sure, in 2038, that’s 20 years from now:

    https://www.cleanenergywire.org/factsheets/german-commission-proposes-coal-exit-2038

    Anything can happen until then. Cheers from Germany.

  35. 185
    Killian says:

    Re #173 patrick027 said re 163 Nemesis

    – a good point, but I would look at it this way

    there is a certain quality of life/standard of living which I would like all people to enjoy

    it will be easier to attain this 1. if wealth is less concentrated, but also 2. if there are fewer people (and 3… better technology and practices, peace, etc.)

    Population growth in poorer parts of the world still concerns me because I would like them to not be so poor.

    Why try to manage population, which will come down with education and equality anyway (thus a solution in search of a problem since we already know the solution), when we can simply share? Cooperation is well understood to be more effective and efficient than competition, and is absolutley necessary for sustainability, anyway.

  36. 186
    zebra says:

    #178 Kevin McKinney,

    But, again, my last sentence: Neither side seems interested in a real solution.

    Saying that “some nuclear is a good idea” is just another way of not answering my question:

    “Why not make sure there is fair competition all around, and let the market sort things out?”

    If using FF is dis-incentivized, and there is in fact a competitive market, the proportion of nuclear to renewables, whether 5% or 50%, will match the demand for what each can offer. I’ve pointed this out, over and over, and asked why my reasoning is incorrect. (Over and over meaning decades.)

    Still no answer. I don’t mean “answers I disagree with”, I mean crickets.

  37. 187

    E-P 182: Germany is using lignite as its backup while shutting down its nuclear capacity.

    BPL: Germany is shutting down all 84 of its coal-fired power plants.

  38. 188
    Killian says:

    Re #171 Kevin McKinney said Michael Sweet, #162–

    “…sand, which is common everywhere…”

    Apparently, not as common as one might think–nor as common as used to be the case:

    “There’s so much demand for sand right now that we are stripping riverbeds …beaches bare. We’re tearing up forests and farmland… to get at the sand. And things have gotten so bad in a lot of places that governments have really tried to crack down on it. As a result of that, organized crime has taken over the sand business.”

    My favorite examples of resource limits are two that seem impossibly huge: Water and sand. How can water possibly be a problem? Rates of use. It recycles, but much slower than we are wasting it. Why sand? Even the seemingly most common things… are actually limited, and those limits will be reached under *any* rate of growth.

    This is a fundamental thing that should be taught, and can be taught, in early elementary school.

    Adults, however, are another matter; far too much fuel for rationalization and delusions already in their heads.

  39. 189
    Killian says:

    I wish this forum had an edit feature. The admins might consider the simple, yet far more flexible and effective forum softare the Arctic Sea Ice Forums use… whatever it is.

    Re #171 Kevin McKinney said Michael Sweet, #162–

    “…sand, which is common everywhere…”

    Apparently, not as common as one might think–nor as common as used to be the case:

    “There’s so much demand for sand right now that we are stripping riverbeds …beaches bare. We’re tearing up forests and farmland… to get at the sand. And things have gotten so bad in a lot of places that governments have really tried to crack down on it. As a result of that, organized crime has taken over the sand business.”

    My favorite examples of resource limits are two that seem impossibly huge: Water and sand. How can water possibly be a problem? Rates of use. It recycles, but much slower than we are wasting it. Why sand? Even the seemingly most common things… are actually limited, and those limits will be reached under *any* rate of use – let alone growth.

    This is a fundamental thing that should be taught, and can be taught, in early elementary school.

    Adults, however, are another matter; far too much fuel for rationalization and delusions already in their heads.

  40. 190
    Nemesis says:

    @Killian, #185

    ” it will be easier to attain this 1. if wealth is less concentrated, but also 2. if there are fewer people (and 3… better technology and practices, peace, etc.)”

    Just replace point 2. by sharing locally and globally and the population will go down. The entire economic system is not sustainable because a) the goods are distributed vertically almost entirely (plain sick) and b) the ecological costs of hyperexploitation, climate change, eco-destruction, pollution ect ect don’t appear in any economical record (how much is 1 ton of insects in dollar and who pays for it?), destroying the biosphere is for free (plain sick as well).

  41. 191

    ep, #182-3–

    The solution is to use hydro until the resource is fully utilized, and then…

    Glad to finally hear you say something positive about renewable energy–since whatever else one may say about hydro, it is that. So, yeah, once again, there *are* examples of all-renewable grids.

    And don’t forget or ignore the Uruguayan example, which I already mentioned at least once; it is also based on a solid foundation of hydro, but which used to have a considerable fraction of thermal generation, especially when dry years caused the curtailment of hydropower. Not anymore:

    In 2016, the country’s total installed wind power capacity surpassed 1,000 MW. As of 2016, this figure comprised 17 percent of the country’s overall electricity generation, marking a sudden increase in the overall share from the 2 percent all alternative renewable energy sources made up in 2012. In July 2018 UTE, the country’s power plants and transmission administrator, announced that record electricity demand was being met entirely by renewable sources, of which wind power comprised 34 percent.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power_in_Uruguay

    Couldn’t have done that with nuclear power–not in 4 years. And wind and solar did even better in 2018, according to the IEEFA:

    The latest monthly electricity data out of Uruguay shows wind and solar generation continuing to grow, reaching 44 percent of total generation in January, a new record that surpasses a 42 percent record set in December.

    http://ieefa.org/ieefa-update-a-renewable-energy-revolution-in-uruguay-for-all-the-world-to-see/

    So, a small-country example of decarbonizing via wind and solar.

    You quote [Ontario] nameplate generating capacity, not what is ACTUALLY generating.

    Fair enough, but let’s use a less constricted time sample, shall we? There’s one here:

    http://www.ieso.ca/corporate-ieso/media/year-end-data

    Here’s the annual percentage figures for 2018:

    Nuclear power: 61% (your source, 62%)
    Hydro: 25% (your source, 20%)
    Gas/oil: 6% (your source, 8%)
    Wind: 7% (your source, 4%)
    Solar: less than 1% (your source, 5%)

    So, yeah, nuclear power provides more than nameplate capacity would suggest.

    However, it is still true that historically, Ontario did not eliminate coal power via nuclearization. That is demonstrable via simple chronology. The push to eliminate coal-powered generation came starting in 2003:

    In 2003, Ontario generated 7,500 megawatts of coal-fired electricity, a quarter of its power supply. Ontario’s coal consumption peaked that year at 18.6 million metric tons. Coal-fired power plants were Ontario’s largest source of toxic chemical, heavy metal, sulfur, and nitrogen air pollution. Carbon emissions from coal-fired generation had risen to more than 41 million metric tons annually.

    The program to end coal began that same year with an exceptional debate about energy that helped decide the election for provincial premier.

    https://e360.yale.edu/features/how_ontario_is_putting_an_end_to_coal-burning_power_plants

    However, at that point, it had already been 10 years since the most recent of Canada’s current reactor fleet, Darlington #4, had started supplying power to the grid.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power_in_Canada#Active

    So what did accomplish the substantive decarbonization? A big piece of it was declining demand. In 2003, Ontario burned through 152 TWh; since 2014, the total hasn’t broken 138. As I mentioned, gas capacity was added, as were wind and (to a lesser extent, but one helpful for daytime demand) solar.

    Was the pre-existing nuclear capacity essential? Of course. So was the hydro. Having those resources, combined with the decline in demand*, meant that the amounts of gas & wind needed to retire the coal fleet completely were not tremendously large in proportion.

    However, nuclearization was not a proximate cause, nor was it a ‘silver bullet.’

    *I’d dearly like to know what proportion of the decline was due to intentional conservation efforts, and which due to structural economic changes, such as the pounding that the Ontario auto industry took. I suspect it’s a bit of both.

    Tangentially related to that:

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2210670715300330

    (Short version: The energy-saving store actually saved quite a lot of energy, and paid off commercially by doing so.)

  42. 192
    nigelj says:

    Kevin McKinney @178, yes I also think there’s inevitably going to be space for both renewable power and nuclear power for several different reasons as already stated. It partly comes down to the cost of nuclear power versus large scale mass storage systems whether batteries or otherwise when renewables have reached about 80% penetration such that the question becomes critical. Time will tell, probably the next two decades.

  43. 193

    zebra, #186–

    Saying that “some nuclear is a good idea” is just another way of not answering my question:

    “Why not make sure there is fair competition all around, and let the market sort things out?”

    My first thought was “Do you really expect me to argue against “fair competition?” Kinda like “Have you stopped eating babies for breakfast?”

    Well, I haven’t, because I never did, so let’s try the longer version.

    I don’t trust the capacity of our political process to fairly, or even realistically, define “fair competition.” I don’t even trust most of the participants to address the question in good faith. What they will do, for the most part, is advocate for someone’s interest. Some of those interests will be more ethically defensible than others; some will have more political firepower. Sadly, those two sets will not always line up very well.

    So I’m arguing for what I think is most likely to be pragmatically useful in what I expect will continue to be a highly imperfect world.

  44. 194
    nigelj says:

    Scott E Strough @179 I think you will find that even a modestly increased drive towards replacing existing electricity generation with some blend of renewables and nuclear power will create supply bottlenecks, but this is simply another good reason to improve the ability of soils to sequester carbon.

  45. 195
    nigelj says:

    Killian says about reducing poverty “Why try to manage population, which will come down with education and equality anyway (thus a solution in search of a problem since we already know the solution), when we can simply share?”

    Sharing is desirable in theory, but here are the realities. Firstly Africa doesn’t have much wealth to share among its inhabitants, as a general rule. If we are hoping the western world will just give Africa huge amounts of it’s wealth, how likely is that going to be? Not very likely surely. People donate to charity but only to a point. Some people support redistributive political parties, but only to a limited point. The greedies and libertarians in western countries even resent current modest levels of international aid, and lobby governments accordingly. Apart from anything much of the wealth of western countries is in fixed infrastructure, that cannot be shifted around the world.

    I go along with Al Bundy’s inheritance taxes as a practical measure, have said the same myself, although it faces huge political challenges. So taking all these things together, this is why its also imperative that Africa gets its population growth down, and we should help them to that extent with financial aid.

  46. 196
    patrick027 says:

    174 zebra “But, as has been pointed out over and over and over, the population grows because they are poor, not the other way around.” –
    The first part – Yes, as I understand it, although I would think it’s possible for population growth to contribute to poverty as well. Thus, alleviating poverty, and also, education, especially for girls, and empowering women, and access to contraceptives, etc… would help, as I understand it.

    The longer it takes to alleviate poverty then, the more people there will be to lift out of poverty, so that’s all the more reason to do it now. (Maybe offer training in solar power installation in developing nations, provide solar power equipment at low cost, then eventually start clean energy manufacturing in places, provide jobs…)

    re 185 Killian – see above. I lean towards a balance of cooperation and competition.

    re 180 Al Bundy – makes sense – I’m no expert on tax policy but I support the idea of an inheritance tax for that reason; there might be cause for exceptions… (objects of sentimental value? farmland (up to some acreage)? – some claim that inheritance taxes are problematic for family farms; I don’t know how much truth there is in that.)

    re 175 Nemesis – NOT how I meant it – did you see my preceding statements or what? Well, I could have rephrased the last sentence – how about “Population growth in poorer parts of the world still concerns me because I would like *FOR* them to not be so poor” – or better yet – “Population growth in poorer parts of the world still concerns me because I would like *FOR people to be better off*” – yeah, the last version sounds better.

    Aside from personal preferences and aversions, I shouldn’t ask others to live in conditions that I would not choose for myself.

  47. 197
    David B. Benson says:

    Engineer-Poet @181 — I earlier posted a link to lecture notes on power marketing in PJM style grids; recommended reading as all participants find this scheme close to fair. In particular, there is no designated so-called backup for wind power.

    Those concerned about the climate will deplore the lack of a so-called carbon price, but that is universal. It is also independent of the way a market is formed.

  48. 198
    Al Bundy says:

    zebra: Who benefits, other than the fossil fuel people, by the endless repetition of negatives?… …But neither ‘side’ seems interested in a real solution.

    AB: Duh! Humans are usually far more interested in being right than in learning. This TRUTH can be used to split allies into bickering camps and so give enemies free reign.
    __________
    E-P: The unreliables do not deserve payment unless their generation has no carbon-emitting source on standby to deal with their unreliability.

    AB; So ZERO is the proper payment for 100,000,000,000 KWH if one could generate said power via the most polluting method imaginable??

    E-P: Germany is using lignite as its backup while shutting down its nuclear capacity. It doesn’t matter WHAT you advocate; what matters is what happens in the real world.

    AB: So nuclear power providers should be paid ZERO since lignite can do the job??? Or are you using a different standard for nukes v wind/solar?

    Zebra is right. The best is the enemy of the good. It doesn’t make a whit of difference whether one low carbon source is better than another. What matters is whether you’re shedding the high carbon sources. Full stop. I find it hilarious that folks are screaming about plastic straws when oil and CH4 are being burned for energy. DUH! Creating straws out of fossils, getting the use of the straws, and then burning said straws for energy is by far the best answer UNTIL you burn ZERO fossils.

    Recycling of burnables is stupid as long as ANY virgin fossil fuel is burned (yeah, there are always exceptions, so quibble away).
    ___________

    Killian: Adults, however, are another matter; far too much fuel for rationalization and delusions already in their heads.

    AB: Yep. I’d add selfishness. Kids’ selfishness is limited to rational levels. Adults have no such limits.

  49. 199
    Al Bundy says:

    zebra: If using FF is dis-incentivized, and there is in fact a competitive market, the proportion of nuclear to renewables, whether 5% or 50%, will match the demand for what each can offer. I’ve pointed this out, over and over, and asked why my reasoning is incorrect.

    AB: Because it is impossible. Nuclear is not possible without extreme governmental intrusion because accidents happen. No corporation could adequately insure itself against both a Chernobyl and freedom-fighters’ use of said reactor to try to free themselves of USAian hegemony, and a corporation that builds a nuke without said insurance in full without any governmental defense forces is foisting its costs on society so no competitive and fair market can exist between nuclear and wind/solar. There ya go, an answer. Not saying I agree with what I just said, just saying.

  50. 200
    Al Bundy says:

    nigelj: People donate to charity but only

    AB: to prevent immediate starvation, which doesn’t do diddly of value. Seriously, preventing a human child from dying of starvation while turning said child into a moron via malnutrition is weak broth for sure (and feeds E-P’s beliefs). If you actually care you MUST do what is needed to elevate Others’ children to your children’s level.

    Life ain’t Star Trek. If the crew is dying but is barely saved then said crew would not be of significant value for a long time (which would make next week’s show unpalatable).

    Charity is generally about proving one’s superiority while preventing equal opportunity because that feels ever so good and maximizes inequality in your spawn’s favor.

    “But that’s not what I was thinking!”

    Duh. Focus is the point, eh?

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