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Forced responses: Oct 2019

Filed under: — group @ 1 October 2019

Bi-monthly open thread on climate solutions. Please try to be civil. Remember, climate science questions can be discussed on the Unforced Variations thread.

325 Responses to “Forced responses: Oct 2019”

  1. 251
    zebra says:

    #244 Al Bundy,

    “maintaining ‘grid’ stability”

    AB, I expect better from you, although I realize you are immersed in those high-compression gas fumes and can’t pay attention to all areas.

    There are sources, and there are loads, and then there is the grid, which is all the wires that connect them.

    People like EP want to blur that distinction, and that’s why he objects to my common-carrier modality, although he cannot offer any explanation of why it wouldn’t work. So, BPL is correct… if we (source and load) pay the grid operator to operate the grid, and we (the load) pay the source for KWH, there is no issue with “stability”.

    If source or load imposes special demands on the grid operator, then that individual entity would pay extra for the service.

    If load has special demands for sources, likewise it pays more for the KWH.

    That’s how you maximize efficiency.

  2. 252
    nigelj says:

    The following article is very new material and relates to climate communication. It’s targeted at the public and is definitely not holding back. Much of the article is devoted to a clever compilation of graphs showing a wide range of deteriorating trends, but whether “poorly educated” people would relate to this this hard to know. Communicating science to morons is difficult because science is by definition not a simple thing. Poor old Steven Hawking was reduced to writing “a briefer history of time”

    https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/advance-article/doi/10.1093/biosci/biz088/5610806?searchresult=1

    “World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency”

    Scientists have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat and to “tell it like it is.” On the basis of this obligation and the graphical indicators presented below, we declare, with more than 11,000 scientist signatories from around the world, clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency.

    ——————-

    AB @250, yes very true.

  3. 253
    zebra says:

    I’m not the only one…,

    https://cleantechnica.com/2019/11/05/solaredge-has-built-the-first-framework-for-the-end-to-end-smart-home/

    Of course, this is a typical puffed-up sales/investment pitch, but the principles are absolutely correct.

    Maintain a market environment for energy usage, and you provide an incentive for innovation. Are we really supposed to continue the electricity paradigm from the early 20th century?

    Design exercise: What if we built houses with installed LED light fixtures that operated on DC. What size battery would you need for typical usage after the sun goes down, assuming occupancy-sensor lights?

  4. 254
    nigelj says:

    The article below says that a totally renewable energy grid can achieve voltage and frequency stability provided there is either adequate storage, or a combination of storage and generation that creates intertia like biofuels powered turbines. It looks to me like the issue comes down to $ and cents. Yes the article is by an industry player so a bit biased, but its still a good picture of the situation.

    https://www.drax.com/technology/great-balancing-act-takes-keep-power-grid-stable/

    Now in a traditional state owned electricity system, such decisions are for the technocrats who run the system. If you have a Zebra like open grid with multiple generating companies and consumer choice is not going to automatically provide the right infrastructure to ensure stability. Why would it? It’s primarily profit driven. So the transmission lines company is going to have to manage the system to ensure enough of the right infrastructure is built, so the end result is you have a very managed market. Its feasible but it’s complicated.

  5. 255
    Al Bundy says:

    zebra: AB, I expect better from you, although I realize you are immersed in those high-compression gas fumes and can’t pay attention to all areas.

    AB: Yo, E-P. “everybody thinks you’re a crank”? (I’m not but I do get cranky)

    zebra: If source or load imposes special demands on the grid operator, then that individual entity would pay extra for the service.

    AB: Sounds grand. I don’t see how that affects my comment. When sources and loads don’t match bad things happen to the grid. Grid operators’ jobs are to keep the balance while providing carrots and sticks so that the various parties choose to act in a way that keeps the grid from crashing.

    This isn’t as simple as choosing one’s internet service provider. That wind farm you choose to buy your electricity from can’t do the job alone. Some days its subscribers will leave electrons on the shelf and other days it will be a Soviet grocery store. There’s no way to avoid the wholesale market (or whatever one calls the ebb and flow of electrons between your supplier and all other suppliers). E-P noted some of the insane price swings that the current system allows. Of course, that’s a function of a flawed economic model as opposed to any physical flaws. Giving one player (Mr Grid Operator) complete responsibility for something (stability) opens them up for serious abuse. Reminds of how $6 insulin is priced at $300+. When blackouts and death are the result of walking away from a ridiculously, offensively vile offer it ain’t a free market.

    In other words, for some reason I’m too dense today to see where we disagree. (Sigh, I expect better from me, too)

  6. 256
    Nemesis says:

    @nigelj, #254

    ” Why would it? It’s primarily profit driven. Now in a traditional state owned electricity system, such decisions are for the technocrats who run the system. If you have a Zebra like open grid with multiple generating companies and consumer choice is not going to automatically provide the right infrastructure to ensure stability.”

    Aaaahahaha, “profit driven”, what a pitty, what a surprise :D I love funny profit, funny money and I always did, as you know :)

    ” So the transmission lines company is going to have to manage the system to ensure enough of the right infrastructure is built, so the end result is you have a very managed market. Its feasible but it’s complicated.”

    What? No more free market ?! Huuuh, evil communism ahead? Like in communist-capitalist China? Fuck the difference anyway as these are just words, NOT (specific, very powerful, high class) PEOPLE. Or will we move “a little more” to the right? Or to the left? Maybe both? All these terms might soon be completely outdated, obsolete^^… crumble, crumble in the djungle…

    … the longer they tack (and they tacked for too long already), the harder and brutal it will get 100% for sure.

    They tacked way too long (roughly a century?^^) and the outcome will be really bloody ugly, whatever ways they might chose from now on.

    Anyway, the problem your comment talks about is actually a very old problem, nothing new to see here at all, right? So what, the PTB will find some bloody way as they always found some bloody way on their way to… Mars? Some luxury bunkers (doomsday business is booming like crazy)? The cloud? Neverland?

  7. 257
    Nemesis says:

    @nigelj, #254

    About funny “profit driven”:

    Have you ever seen the movie “Revolver”? It’s about some absurd revolving door, the Matrix, the rat race, an absurd revolving system within and without and there is a most important mantra in it:

    “What’s in it for me?”

    Everybody is running after some funny money, running after some funny profit in that movie, so your best friend could be your worst enemy and your worst enemy could be your best friend. And there is one figure in that bloody movie you never see, you don’t even see his bloody shadow, he is called “Mr. Gold”, he appears to be in total control of it all, yet everyone in that movie considers himself in control, but no one really is. Could you spot who “Mr. Gold” is? Where does he reside, where does he hide?

    “What’s in it for me?”

    This is maybe the most important question of all time, even more important than Shakespear’s “To be or not to be?” It’s written on any dollar bill, on any shop, on any bank, on any politicians head, on any material shit. What’s in it for us? What’s really in it for us in this revolver game from the cradle to the boneyard and what will never be in it for us?

    https://youtu.be/ixrMXPG0iE4

  8. 258
    zebra says:

    #255 Al Bundy,

    AB, don’t be so sensitive, you are no more a crank inventor than I am… hmmm…

    Anyway, my only question about your kind of approach is whether it requires some level of complexity/precision that makes constructing the thing relatively expensive.

    As to my issue, my point is exactly what you said, which I wasn’t sure you had gotten previously:

    “that’s a function of a flawed economic model as opposed to any physical flaws”

    The problem is that EP tries to create the illusion that you can’t separate the physical from the economic. But the grid operator can enforce physical standards for inputs and loads, and match inputs to loads in real-time, even if the contracts have been established independently.

    This is already being done; it’s just a question of how fine a resolution is involved. Language like “stability” and “balance” is misused to imply that there is a physical issue. But that’s about how smart your meters are, and that is probably not a big obstacle these days.

    By the way, I just learned that there is some nonsense going around about smart meters creating “radiation” that makes people sick. Perhaps EP isn’t responding here because he is busy spreading that one on F-book.

  9. 259

    AB, #255–

    That wind farm you choose to buy your electricity from can’t do the job alone. Some days its subscribers will leave electrons on the shelf and other days it will be a Soviet grocery store.

    Your point is that one needs a well-functioning distribution system, including the physical stability and efficiency of the grid, well-structured allocation mechanisms (markets), and delivery systems (including any necessary accounting), and of course that is true.

    That said, storage is coming, and coming, it would seem based on current market trends–no pun intended!–pretty quick.

    https://www.eia.gov/analysis/studies/electricity/batterystorage/

  10. 260
    nigelj says:

    Nemesis @256 @ 257,

    Thank’s for the film tip.

    Most modern markets are complicated and need some management and regulation to operate properly and sometimes this comes from government’s. Its probably a bit of a combination of capitalism and socialism, but not every socialist idea is a bad thing. Freemarkets can be taken to mean free from excessive control. Since all markets require an agreement between parties its impossible for them to be completely free of conditions but the idjiots don’t grasp this.

    Electricity markets are particularly complicated beasts of things (as pointed out by Al Bundy) so they need a lot of active management and regulation, usually undertaken by the transmission lines company and typically with various government imposed expectations. Some good references would be New Zealands or Californias electricity markets.

    Now obviously markets are profit driven, and if you have generating companies they only care about making money in the short to medium term, not so much about whether the system has black outs. For this reason the lines company engages in a lot of management to ensure supply meets demand and frequency and voltage doesn’t change too much. The lines company may also require a minimum level of gas peaking power. Now renewables add another layer of complexity because they lack intertia and are intermittent, so they require storage. So in a renewables grid the generating companies may not provide enough storage and intertia driven power, so the lines company has to ensure they do.

    Electricity markets work, but its quite a challenging job. I do sometimes wonder if its all a bit fragmented, contrived or artificial, but the upside is market competition does lead to innovations in theory anyway.

    I agree with comments that Engineer-Poet is conflating market organisation with the physical technology. I think his real motive behind this shennanigans is he wants a government run system building lots of lovely nuclear power with ample subsidies. Personally I think government picking winners like that is problematic, and its better to leave generating companies to make decisions on what zero carbon generating source they use. Government has to set some rules and to ensure its a level playing field.

    Now profit seems to be a word that annoys you. Actually I have a bit of a negative reaction myself. But the theory is that self interested profit seeking individuals left to operate as freely as possible (with some limited market management) will benefit everybody as a useful side effect. Free market capitalism is built around this, and it does seem to have lead to a lot of technology and improved living standards.

    In theory any trouble caused by this capitalist system can be mitigated with business regulations and good market management and government help for people hurt by the capitalist economy. In practice this is hard to achieve as market participants are selfish so try to minimise management and regulation of the market.

    The trouble is nobody has come up with a fundamentally better system that is capable of generating new technology and material progress. Now you have the alternative lifestyler’s trying to get away from capitalism and build kinder more sharing communities etcetera, and I quite like these values, but the risk is such communities may lack the competition and self interest and drive to deliver adequate technology. If they do harness these attributes, they are back to becoming capitalist. Its certainly a challenging thing and many of these communities have failed, but perhaps some will find the right answer.

    I’m not sure what the best answer is, but I think its good to have a robust critique of the capitalist system. It clearly has some unintended negative consequences especially for the environment and this ultimately undermines the capitalist system ITSELF, so we need to solve that problem one way or the other.

    One thing seems clear to me: The singular focus on the profit motive alone is unsustainable. So that might be something enough people could agree on to get some change.

  11. 261
    Al Bundy says:

    zebra: AB, don’t be so sensitive, you are no more a crank inventor than I am… hmmm…

    AB: Yeah. In my defense, “crank” is the inventor’s n-word.

  12. 262
    Nemesis says:

    ” Now profit seems to be a word that annoys you. Actually I have a bit of a negative reaction myself. But the theory is that self interested profit seeking individuals left to operate as freely as possible (with some limited market management) will benefit everybody as a useful side effect. Free market capitalism is built around this, and it does seem to have lead to a lot of technology and improved living standards.”

    Ah, you should know me better after all these years :) It’s not that profit could ever annoy me as I don’t hoard nor make any profit at all, it just amuses me a great deal (cheers from “Mr. Gold”) :)) Yeah, I know the “theory” behind capitalism quite well, it just doesn’t seem too work as we can clearly see more and ever more while the heat keeps rising and rising :)… It’s the Fire of Nature, the Fire of hard (scientific^^) Facts, the Fire of Truth burning down a lot of shit, isn’t it so?
    NO technology will ever solve ANY ethical issues. I said that repeatedly. The real problem is not techology, but how it is being used or a-bused. That simple. Use it for profit generating purposes only and you will get what you deserve, we clearly see that all around us more and ever more.

    ” The trouble is nobody has come up with a fundamentally better system that is capable of generating new technology and material progress.”

    Well, I talked repeatedly about some fundamentally better system. We’d need a Sharing system, a system driven by wisdom, compassion and reason, NOT by funny profit. But yeah, I’m not naive, it will never happen, hahaha, as there’s no funny profit in it.

    ” Now you have the alternative lifestyler’s trying to get away from capitalism and build kinder more sharing communities etcetera…”

    I’m not part of any “lifestyler” community, I highly and solely focus on my very own Karma (I told you, I grew up as some sort of a wolf, I love solitude^^), while staying away from profitism, capitalism and consumerism and I’m extremely happy and healthy with that. I’m not trying to save the planet as it surely and harshly cares for itself, I save my fuckin own ass, muhahaha. That simple.

    ” I’m not sure what the best answer is, but I think its good to have a robust critique of the capitalist system. It clearly has some unintended negative consequences especially for the environment and this ultimately undermines the capitalist system ITSELF, so we need to solve that problem one way or the other.”

    Yeees, it clearly has some unintended negative consequences, obviously. And, yeees, it ultimately undermines the system ITSELF, oooops, but who do you mean by “we”? You see, I got only enough Power to save my very own ass, but I don’t have the slightest power to save capitalism nor to solve any problem of it. Please contact TPTB. Good luck.

    … I will look after my wonderful, massively healthy broccoli sprouts now (look up “sulforaphan”^^), they desperately need my care and my love :)

  13. 263
    Nemesis says:

    Sorry, I forgot the adress in my recent comment. It was direct to you, nigelj, #260.

  14. 264
    nigelj says:

    Nemesis @262, I like solitude as well and I’m currently living alone. I agree taking care of the mind and body and peace of mind is clearly an important priority. There is quite a good correlation with a healthy lifestyle and a low carbon footprint and good environmental outcomes, which is a little bit of serendipity.

    By “we need to solve the problems of capitalism” I did mean the powers that be, but this in turn is influenced by people when they elect governments.

  15. 265
    Al Bundy says:

    nigelj: But the theory is that self interested profit seeking individuals left to operate as freely as possible (with some limited market management) will benefit everybody as a useful side effect. Free market capitalism is built around this, and it does seem to have lead to a lot of technology and improved living standards.

    AB: You are way behind the curve. Capitalism arose and worked because capital was the limiting factor and workers were essentially cogs. Now capital can be had for 0-2% interest and workers are quite skilled.

    And the problems humanity face are larger than they used to be because back when humanity was scratching the surface one had a biologist and an astronomer. Now we’re digging deeper. We need astrobiology.

    Capitalism is based on competition, which is productive when the stakes are minor and said competition is subsumed by collaboration. Playing billiards for a beer. having two or three teams working for a solution within one organization. Winners get the trophy and tickets or whatever. Everybody gets to share in the rewards and everybody shares everybody’s ideas. Pick new teams and start another game.

    As if adults can’t learn from kids, eh?

    Current research is finding excessive competition to be toxic. We also know that “It’s not whether you win or lose but how you play the game” is a lame attempt without the depth needed to teach.

    A GOPper wrote a book that ridiculed the concept of acknowledging society’s (or anybody else’s) help in creating what a capitalist owns. The title was something like “You didn’t build that”, so as to spit liberals’ words back in their faces.

    She told of Dr Salk’s vaccine and how it required refrigeration. Two engineers invented a refrigerator that would do the job in any environment, a feat that was so irrelevant that their names weren’t mentioned. But two capitalists financed the engineers. Their names were pasted in the heavens. Dr. Salk was reduced to a minor role and his relative lack of compensation (I’m assuming) didn’t enter her mind. The Heroes were the Capitalists.

    But Dr. Salk could have gone to a non-profit or a government. And today, at 0-2%, why waste taxpayer profit on capitalists? All that profit could have been reducing our taxes. Inventions can function like Alaskan crude. Fill the coffers and pay some to the citizens. You know, like Yang’s $1000/mo. The coolest part of a citizenship stipend is that it totally changes the worker/employer dynamic. If you could flip them the finger and survive you’ll probably get better treatment, eh?

  16. 266

    #260, 262–

    Seems to me the essential problem with capitalism is the imperative for growth. Great for development–a loaded word, to be sure–but at some point one reaches hard limits of one sort or another. And clearly we’re well past at least one such, which is the ability of the Earth system to sink fossil carbon.

    Then what? Can you have capitalism without growth? I haven’t seen what I thought a really compelling answer one way or another, but then I still have a lot of reading to do in that regard, and I’m pretty busy with other things, such as climate change organizing.

  17. 267
    O. says:

    @higelj, @Nemesis: Free market vs. Planned Economy?
    It’s like particle vs. wave in physics.

    If you stick to one of those mutually exclusive options/principles, to explain reality (“reality” in physics, or “possibility” in the market/distribution thing), then have fun with the results ;-)
    We saw empirically, that insiting on one of those concepts is not working.

    Maybe there must be something in between? Or something outside of both? (Or a mix of in between and outside?)

    Just an inspiration from the 70-ies:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Cybersyn

  18. 268
    Hank Roberts says:

    We’re worrying about the symptoms, but not worrying sufficiently.
    The foundation of life on Earth is eroding.

    Insect population decline affects ecosystems, other animal populations, and humanity. Insects are at “the structural and functional base of many of the world’s ecosystems.” A 2019 global review warned that, if not mitigated by decisive action, the decline would have a catastrophic impact on the planet’s ecosystems.
    Decline in insect populations – Wikipedia
    https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Decline_in_insect_populations

    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/silent-skies-billions-of-north-american-birds-have-vanished/

  19. 269
    Al Bundy says:

    Kevin McKinney: Seems to me the essential problem with capitalism is the imperative for growth.

    AB: No. Capitalism doesn’t care much for growth as a whole. Instead, capitalism is concerned with concentration, as in the building of wealth. Your job at your job? To shovel money upwards. Your boss’ job? To shovel money upwards. Repeat until all rewards beyond what is required to keep the peasants from revolting are in the Top Dogs’ mouths.

    And, DUH, “trickle down” and “growth” and other wonderful buzzwords will work on overworked peasants who don’t have enough time and energy to see through the scam. The truth? Since the 70s productivity has gone up by a factor of four. Since a family of four was comfortable back then on a single adult’s 40 hours of work wouldn’t you expect that 10 hours a week today would be enough to comfortably support a family of four? (Call it 20 hours to account for more toys and whatnot)

    Capitalism had NOTHING to do with the cold war. That war was about totalitarianism v an-effed-up-version-of-democracy. Reverse the economic systems, as Russia has done, and the results are the same. As if Russia under capitalism is the slightest bit better than the Soviet Union under communism.

  20. 270
    Al Bundy says:

    Correction:

    Capitalism should have had NOTHING to do with the cold war. That war’s valid part was about totalitarianism v an-effed-up-version-of-democracy. Reverse the economic systems, as Russia has done, and the results are the same. As if Russia under capitalism is the slightest bit better than the Soviet Union under communism.

  21. 271
    nigelj says:

    Kevin McKinney @266

    “Can you have capitalism without growth?”

    I don’t know for sure and I haven’t read much on it. Too many other priorities. But that has never stopped me figuring it out for myself! The problem is bank loans for investment are made on the basis that the economy will expand, so if there is an expectation of zero growth, investment might fall towards zero (as happens in recessions where growth is zero or sub zero). GDP growth is likely to fall to zero eventually because of resource limits so we will find out what happens.

    But the ownership of the economy could clearly still be in private hands, and profits could still be made by adding value that does not increase quantity of output. Ownership and profit defines capitalism, so Capitalism survives does it not? Although in a somewhat deflated form.

    Plus governmnets could artificially boost investment much as they have been doing recently. Although this has a certain desperation in it.

    Now test it all in the real world. Japan has had about 20 years of low gdp growth averaging about 0.7% per year due to bad economic management after a big housing crash, and its form of capitalism has survived quite well and their standard of living remains high. Of course thats not zero growth, but it gives us a clue on what would happen. It has left them with a lot of debt because it’s hard to pay off debt without growth, yet the debt is not actually causing them much of a problem. Their experience is raising economic eyebrows and is eroding the conventional anti debt wisdom (which I have shared)

    Of course capitalism might be forced to change in some way.

  22. 272
    nigelj says:

    Al Bundy @285,

    “You are way behind the curve. Capitalism arose and worked because capital was the limiting factor and workers were essentially cogs. Now capital can be had for 0-2% interest and workers are quite skilled.”

    The problem is nothing has really changed. People can still only get access to that capital if they already have quite a bit of capital or collateral. Workers having more skills has not won them decent wages in many cases. And capitalism grinds on largely in its traditional form, with a bit of wealth redistribution thrown in to keep things stable.

    I think its hard to set away from science / invention / organisation / financing structures. Yes the “capitalists” sometimes take credit for everything, but I doubt the public believe their BS!

    I think the other ideas you mention are generally the way to go or at least worth trying. It is ridiculous to think that we have found the perfect one holy grail version of capitalism. We have to be prepared to try new variations, and combinations of free market and planned economy ideas as #267 points out.

  23. 273
    Al Bundy says:

    O: Maybe there must be something in between? Or something outside of both? (Or a mix of in between and outside?)

    AB: There is. I call it “Laborism”. It is based on ensuring that nobody is coerced into a contract by the fact that eating isn’t optional. Yang’s Citizens’ Stipend handles this.

    Then the tax code is simplified so that income is forever defined as
    “income from any source in any form whether realized or unrealized”. This gets rid of capital gains, tax shelters, and the whole inheritance argument. You inherit money? Good for you! Pay your taxes just like the guy who earned his money digging ditches.

    If any government wants to spew money at an action, individuals, or industry (say, solar), then tax breaks are illegal. Ya gots to write a very public check (which is, by definition, income).

    Tax rates are designed based on scientific research into human happiness, which says that income beyond upper middle class brings seriously reduced value per dollar. Up until then taxes should be way low. Beyond that they should be jacked up. Your second million per year should go to….

    Tax is a dirty word because it removes control. So beyond “way low taxation” the taxed should have options. Perhaps via the ability to redirect a big chunk of one’s “extra” taxes to a non-political charity. That take the sting out of a 95% hit. You’re earning for what you support, as opposed to a nebulous maw.

    The legislature is split differently. One house speaks of goals. It’s the compass. The other house translates said goals into policy. You can see how the legal dynamics completely change.

    The executive changes to something more “groupy”, such as a tribunal.

    War is NOT under the control of the executive or the legislature but a Women’s Council. Yep, gender discrimination against the testosterone driven is a good thing when it comes to state-sponsored killing.

    Private companies are kept honest by predatory non-profits (or, in a pinch, the government). Ya charge a bunch for a generic drug? A predatory non-profit will undercut you and eat your market.

    Eh, this expands and can go in lots of directions. But the point is that capital USED to drive the economy but nowadays capital can be created out of thin air based on belief. Capital ain’t shiny anymore. Just some bits in a bank’s computer.

    Corporate taxes should be abolished. That way shareholders are taxed based on THEIR income, as opposed to some strange corporate rate. The unrealized income bit above ensures that taxes are collected immediately. Tax deferring is tax evasion.

    Sorry for the random thought pattern of this post.

  24. 274
    Al Bundy says:

    Oops. I didn’t mention elections. They should be additive instead of reducing. So, (using the current unrealistic two-party system for simplicity) a 50.1% to 49.9% result should give 50.1 votes to the winner in the seat being contested and the winner of the 49.9% should be able to award 49.9 votes to whomever he/she wants within said legislature. This eliminates the current cutthroat “win or die” mentality.

    The whole “everyone MUST spend hours and hours researching politics or they are bad citizens” thing is just plain stupid. The first level of additive voting is for citizens to give their proxy to a “voter”. So if you’re politically inclined you need to find perhaps 11 folks who will sign up to have you represent (and educate) them. The concept is to aggregate upwards while informing downwards. This allows for moderated conferences where opposing opinions MUST interact. MUST learn productive interacting. (Yeah, elementary, middle, and high school are serious parts of this)

    Districts are stupid. You’re running for bioregion level? You represent the WHOLE bioregion. And your weird ideas can surely find 11 other souls who agree with you within said bioregion.

    Terms should be 6 years. Anyone who holds any elected office should not be allowed to run for any office. Campaigning and governing don’t mix nearly as well as oil and water. Elections should be held every two years. This way political sorts can have a 2-year campaigning 6-year governing cycle. And if they lose, keep on campaigning in the next election cycle.

    And please, folks, comment to improve, fix, and drill down as opposed to experiencing that glorious gotcha feeling one gets via rejection

  25. 275
    Al Bundy says:

    Hank Roberts: The foundation of life on Earth is eroding.

    AB: When decisions are based on a metric (money) and said metric assigns a value of zero to a good (the foundation of life), then global reality becomes irrelevant and personal reality rules.

  26. 276
    zebra says:

    AB, KM, O, #265, 266, 267,

    Sorry, guys, but you are playing “bring your own warrant”, which leads to a lot of circularity and less useful discussion. If “capitalism” and “growth” mean whatever you like at the moment, what’s the point?

    Scientists think up experiments to clarify their thinking… called “thought experiments”, of course. (It has worked pretty well for Einstein and others back through history.) Here’s one:

    The global population is stable and consists of 100 million people living on the East coast of the USA. (Chosen only because I am familiar with the geography/ecology/climate and so on.)

    Would there be “growth”?
    Would there be “capitalism”?
    Competition?
    Progress?

    I would say yes to the latter three. But, what would not exist would be competition for control of resources.

    So the question is, what would be the reward for winning the competition… whether it is the Superbowl or discovering a cure for whatever disease or quantum computers or why there is something instead of nothing…?

    I would argue that even if there is no real scarcity of food, or land to live on, or energy to consume, it would still make sense to invest the surplus money earned through labor (capitalism) in the hope that you would increase it. So, people would be able to spend your money to do the research and training and so on to achieve “progress”.

    I would also argue, AB and O, that the difference between “private” and “government” investment becomes trivial to determine; there are natural monopolies, and there is everything else. And, absent scarcity of resources, there is a natural limit to the significance of wealth disparity; you don’t need that citizen-income redistribution mechanism.

  27. 277
    Al Bundy says:

    Zebra, yes, words are critical, especially when they are slathered in illogical values and automatically infer relationships, such as the assumption that “capitalism” equals “free markets”. Nope. This is like the pumpkin/jack-o-lantern thing, with free markets being pumpkins and JoLs being the fugliest way to use a pumpkin. Pumpkin pie is far more tasty.

    It is imperative that we wrench the language into reality because the GOPpers have hijacked it so that any rational actor will follow their Jack ****. Control the definitions and you control the conclusion.

    Thus, you guys do serious harm every time you play by their words. NEVER link ” free markets” with capitalism without linking FMs to Laborism. You want change? Change the words and reality follows. That’s how human brains work. We turn reality into symbols, juggle the symbols, and use the results to inform decisions.

  28. 278
    Al Bundy says:

    Zebra,
    A good example is your illogical use of the word “redistribution” instead of “more logical and fair distribution”. With the former the conclusion is obvious: keep shoveling money upwards. With the latter the conclusion is obvious: we are a team so ” winner take all” is stupid and counterproductive.

    Remember, if Bill Gates had lost the race to dominate personal computers the only significant difference would be the name on your computer. If every “winner” never existed, little of actual significance would change. It’s like a race. The difference between 9.6 seconds and 9.61 seconds ain’t worth 100 billion dollars.

  29. 279
    Al Bundy says:

    And, of course, the “winner” is generally the best scarfer, as opposed to the best runner. Microsoft was generally inferior but Gates played a different game. Those who were trying to improve computers lost because they weren’t focused on amorality. Gates broke laws and ethical standards if the breaking enriched him. As if that ain’t “redistribution”

  30. 280
    Al Bundy says:

    Zebra,
    Your binary is flawed. There isn’t a “private/public” choice but a “for profit private, predatory nonprofit private, non-predatory nonprofit private, for profit public, predatory nonprofit public, and non-predatory nonprofit public soup (at least). Please stop reducing complex things so as to fit the GOPpers’ definitions.

  31. 281
    nigelj says:

    Al Bundy @273, some good ideas there about taxes and related stuff. However the GOP will hate it, so how do you convince those guys?

    One criticism. Capital hasn’t really changed that much. Just because we are no longer on the gold standard and create money on a computer screen its still capital, and we have to decide how much is created, how its used and distributed, and too much would cause inflation. Ask Zimbabwe and Argentina. The only thing thats different is inflation is unusually low right now, so it looks like money creation could be cranked up a little bit temporarily. This coincides nicely with fixing the climate problem.

    Looks like everyone here agrees capitalism doesn’t need growth.

    ——————————

    @274, this sounds a bit like the STV voting system. This system already has a track record in various countries, so could be a realistic option for America.

  32. 282

    AB (#269), nigel (#271), zebra (#)276–

    zebra, from what I can tell, the definitional issues and lack of clarity didn’t start with any here present, but pre-existed in the culture. See for instance this blog post (which may or may not be trustworthy, but which certainly illustrates my perception):

    http://www.asepp.com/capitalism-economic-growth/

    Other than that, I will only say that “your warrant” is not at all clear to me from what you wrote. (Maybe I need to think more deeply on it, but such is current the case, at least.)

    Al, I can’t agree with your description; far from all employees having to “shovel money upwards”, most employees have no direct involvement with money at all. They do things like design, manufacture or ship products or take orders and deliver goods or services. Even accountants don’t move money, even if they do monitor said movement. If you ask me, the very notable upward shoveling of money that has occurred over the last several decades has primarily been the result of a *political* process, not primarily an economic one.

    Moreover, the capitalism/growth connection is not something that I made up. For instance, here’s Wikipedia:

    Historically, capitalism has an ability to promote economic growth as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), capacity utilization or standard of living. This argument was central, for example, to Adam Smith’s advocacy of letting a free market control production and price and allocate resources. Many theorists have noted that this increase in global GDP over time coincides with the emergence of the modern world capitalist system.

    Further, and more specifically to sustainability:

    Scholars argue that the capitalist approach to environmental economics does not take into consideration the preserving of natural resources. Capitalism creates three ecological problems: growth, technology, and consumption. The growth problem results from the nature of capitalism, as it focuses around the accumulation of Capital.

    And certainly, Business As She Is Done certainly is very highly focused on growth–ultimately, the growth of profits, of course, but that’s usually pursued slightly indirectly via the growth of either markets (e.g., US, European and other companies vying for a piece of the Chinese market, or the development of new product lines) or of market share (as by advertising or achieving some sort of market advantage).

    “Business,” of course, isn’t strictly synonymous with capitalism, but still…

    nigel, I think you mis-state it when you say that “The problem is bank loans for investment are made on the basis that the economy will expand…” I am but a ‘lowly second trombone,’ so to speak, but I think it’s pretty clear that loans are made on the basis that the banker thinks that the prospective borrower’s business has a good chance of expanding (plus the collateral to cover a failure to do so, usually).

    That dynamic just gets fiercer in a zero-economic-growth context, because then building wealth is a zero-sum game. (Indeed, this is a big deal for any future ZEG society–if inequality isn’t solved first, it’s frozen in place. And in fact, that was in essence a big problem in getting from Kyoto to Paris–developing nations were, and are, flatly unwilling to have their inferior economic status frozen in place.)

    “…the ownership of the economy could clearly still be in private hands, and profits could still be made by adding value that does not increase quantity of output. Ownership and profit defines capitalism, so Capitalism survives does it not?”

    No, I don’t think that’s quite right. That is, yes, capitalism survives in this scenario. Zero economic growth doesn’t, however, because the outputs must be worth more in order to create the profit. What this scenario essentially describes is a situation in which economic growth is uncoupled from energy growth. AFAIK, no-one knows today if that is actually possible or not.

    Bottom line?

    Let’s try another thought experiment. Suppose that a future world has figured out exactly how large the economy can possibly be while not degrading natural systems past some reasonable and accepted standard.

    Presumably, enterprises–I’m picking a deliberately ambiguous term here–would try to do what nigel suggests: they would seek to maximize return by increasing profit per unit of ‘material output’ (and presumably input, but let’s lay that thought aside). Essentially, they would be seeking to increase efficiency, and the result would be a world of zero energy growth, but not zero economic growth.

    But that would mean that total wealth would grow and grow, while the material component of growth–‘material output’, as we’ve been putting it–would stay the same. The material part of the economy would become an ever-smaller proportion of the whole, even as its price declined. Very odd behavior, by our norms at least! If prices drop, then demand usually rises.

    Again, is it actually possible?

    Of course, it’s possible that there are actually limits to the possibilities for decoupling, in which case this scenario would eventually devolve into a zero-economic-growth case.

    In this case, competition–the essential advantage of capitalism, according to Adam Smith (v. supra)–can follow two basic trajectories. Either it has persistent ‘winners’ or it does not. In the first case, the winners crowd out the losers, and the economy persistently trends toward monopoly and a failure of competition. In the second, there’s a danger that competition itself is rendered pointless because there are simply no meaningful advantages to be found. (Honestly, a lot of the modern marketplace feels that way to me already.)

    Given the lack of clear definitions that zebra pointed out, I suppose it’s arguable to what extent these various outcomes could be considered ‘capitalism’ or not. But society would certainly look a lot different.

  33. 283
    nigelj says:

    Al Bundy @280, I had a quick read of non profit organisations on wikipedia. I think they suit education and healthcare etc, but there are some problems with the model outlined in the article.

    What problems do you think not for profits are trying to solve? It’s just that if you are thinking they could solve inequality, they are not going to necessarily pay a fairer spread of wages than profit making companies, and they can’t deal with wealth inequality. Wealth inequality is more related to inheritance and buying up assets.

    Clearly some people will always be more productive than others regardless of the economic system. This is the starting point that creates the whole issue, so we want to more fairly distribute the wealth created it probably comes down to clearly defining what we are trying to achieve. Hopefully ensuring people aren’t left living in abject poverty is part of this.

    Some profit making companies pay fair distributions of wages, so it can be achieved within a profit making model if the owners WANT THIS. Wealth inequality can only really be solved with wealth and inheritance taxes, unless you have a better idea?

    It just seems that we already have enough tools and its a question of what society wants to do to confront the issue.

  34. 284

    Interesting discussion on pumped hydro storage and, er, several other things.

    https://cleantechnica.com/2019/11/09/elon-musk-should-build-pumped-hydro-with-tesla-energy-the-boring-co-coal-miners/

    Seems there is more than just ‘your grandfather’s pumped hydro’.

  35. 285
    Nemesis says:

    IF there is a future at all, it will look like this, the ultimate nightmare for the food industry (and for the “health” care system?^^) as well as for the fossil fuel industry, harr harr:

    “How to Grow Microgreens in Your Home & Make $100,000+ a Year”
    https://youtu.be/fO9Q2bnQvLo

    Literally the *nuclear* bomb of anarchist, subversive, liberal capitalism in a nutshell. Happy, ultra healthy growing, while making lots of funny profit as well:

    I love capitalism, lets make this viral :))

  36. 286
    zebra says:

    Al Bundy multiple Righteous Rants,

    AB, I’m the one who is always telling people that they have been propagandized into incorrectly using terms like “free market” by the right-wing think tanks and bought academics. And I’m just suggesting people clarify, in a scientific manner, with underlying principles, what they agree that terms mean.

    It’s not as if we here are the first people to examine these questions. The point I am illustrating is that there is a difference between “owning” pieces of paper and “owning” farmland and coal mines.

    The question with respect to your “100 billion for winning the race by .1 sec” is: What can you do with the 100 billion?

    If you have a situation where there are truly abundant resources relative to the population, the effect is similar to what you suggest happens if everyone gets $1000 a month. To the extent basic needs are easily met, individuals can demand more for their labor. However, if I can use the 100 billion to buy up houses and farmland and energy sources, and that “ownership” is enforced by state power, you are in effect enslaved.

    Now, it has been suggested in the past that this issue can be addressed by having the state own those kinds of resources. But that does not preclude, as I said earlier, people accumulating pieces of paper, and exchanging those for labor or the result of labor.

    If Bill Gates, by whatever means, accumulates all that paper, and then uses it to fund research, or buy really expensive furniture, or have lots of people clean his house… meh, who cares? The house cleaners and the researchers and the furniture makers will charge whatever suits their fancy, because they have a place to live and food and so on.

    The population to resource ratio, to me, is the underlying principle. The rest follows. But, of course, the opportunity for righteous indignation is greatly diminished.

  37. 287
    Killian says:

    Looks like everyone here agrees capitalism doesn’t need growth.

    Single dumbest sentence I have ever read on economics.

  38. 288

    with regard to the string of basic circuit-theory terms that you use to impress people… I’m not impressed, because I used to teach the course sometimes when the EE’s were busy.

    I kept blowing off my response to this because I have higher priorities, and I had a Windows crash which lost a bunch of things including a blog post in progress.  That, and deleting and re-writing things because I didn’t like them, account for this not coming along for 2 weeks.

    tl;dr You can change your control systems.  You can optimize transformer taps and power-factor compensation.  But you CANNOT overcome the physics of the underlying components.

    I was going to show you, with the math, just how WRONG you are about the basic physics of AC lines.  It’s obvious that you never studied anything beyond Kirchhoff’s voltage and current laws in DC circuits.  (You can apply them to AC circuits with reactive components but even if you don’t have any majorly non-linear elements, the result is only valid for one frequency.)  I was having some trouble working out the second part of my example, and I realized… I have literally forgotten more about AC power transmission networks than you ever knew.  And, having found that, I am doing this mostly to remember how to do all this phasor stuff again.  No telling when it will come in handy.

    Let’s take a sample line where every rated value (power, voltage, current, impedance) is normalized to 1.  Impedance of the line is 1, purely inductive; if you short it at the load end and apply voltage of 1 you get a current of 1, 90° lagging.  Power factor (cosine of voltage/current phase difference) in the shorted case is 0, delivered power 0 despite current of 1.

    In the open-circuit case, you have current of 0 so also power of 0.  So where do you get maximum power delivered through the line?  Assuming a purely resistive load, the magnitude of the delivered voltage V is √(1-I²) and reaches 0 when I = 1.  Power delivered is I * complex_conjugate(V), and current is in phase with voltage because the load is purely resistive, so you’ve got

    P = I * √(1-I²)

    With the magic of calculus, we can differentiate P with respect to I and determine the value of I to achieve maximum P:

    dP = √(1-I²) dI + I * ½(-2 I) / √(1-I²) dI
      = [ √(1-I²) – I² / √(1-I²) ] dI
      = [ √(1-I²) – I²√(1-I²) / (1-I²) ] dI
      = √(1-I²) [ 1 – (I² / (1-I²)] dI = 0

    I² / (1-I²) = 1
    I² = 1-I²

    2 I² = 1
    |I| = √½

    V(source) is 1, I is ½ + ½ j, line drop is -½ + ½ j (90° ahead of I), V(load) is ½ + ½ j, P = I * complex_conjugate(V(load)) = 0.5.  That’s the maximum you can get across that line with a purely resistive load; any increase or decrease in resistance reduces the power flow.

    Now, you CAN increase the power carried by that line.  Paradoxically, you do it by generating “reactive power” at the load end.  This increases the current in the line which you’d think would increase the voltage drop and cut load voltage, but it actually INCREASES the voltage at the load end.  This is highly counter-intuitive but that’s how the physics works.

    V(source) = 1, I = √3/2 + ½ j, line drop is ½ – √3/2 j, V(load) = ½ + √3/2 j

    P = I * complex_conjugate(V(load)) =

    = (√3/2 + ½ j) * (½ – √3/2 j)

    = √3/4 + √3/4 + 1/4 j – 3/4 j = √3/2 – ½ j

    Note that real power went up by √3.

    The net load impedance is V / I which is (½ + √3/2 j) / (√3/2 + ½ j)

    = (½ + √3/2 j)*(√3/2 – ½ j) / ((√3/2 + ½ j) * (√3/2 – ½ j))

    = (√3/4 + √3/4 + 3/4 j – 1/4 j) / 1

    = √3/2 + ½ j (same as the power, oddly enough)

    You can’t increase power any more because the line is at its rated maximum voltage and current.  You could break the line up into smaller lines with capacitors along the length and get the power closer to 1, but this invites problems like subharmonic oscillations and can only gain you another 13.4% anyway.

    As I’ve pointed out to you in the past, and even David Benson, who is a (relatively sane) nuclear advocate, has supported, you are obviously not current on what we can do these days. I say that as someone who is not really current himself in any detail, but it is obvious that you are technologically stuck somewhere in the 1960-1970’s.

    Physics has not changed in the last 40 years, or 100.  Tesla would be right at home.

  39. 289
    nigelj says:

    Killian @287

    “Looks like everyone here agrees capitalism doesn’t need growth.”

    “Single dumbest sentence I have ever read on economics.”

    Everyone who has contributed to the back and forward discussion on the issue clearly thinks capitalism doesn’t need economic growth: Myself, AB and Zebra. Clearly that is what I meant.

    If you have some source material or ideas as to why capitalism can’t exist without growth feel free to share. I might or might not agree but it doesnt mean I dont respect someones ideas. A simple google search shows most articles argue capitalism doesn’t need growth.

    Capitalism is normally defined as private ownership and the profit motive. This doesn’t include economic growth. Profits can be made without expansion, but like I said investment would probably fall and increasing debt could be destabilising and so it might require a completely new way of financing investment.

  40. 290

    nigelj wrote @208:

    we are not talking about applying a carbon tax and dividend to a country which already mandates electricity generation with policy. And saying ‘probably’ is rather unconvincing anyway.

    Whatever, man.

    I can tell you what I see.  Gasoline is about $2.35/gallon near me.  People could absorb a jump to $3.25/gallon with some grumbling, but a monthly check would mollify them.  Most people have NO alternative to heating with natural gas, propane or even fuel oil.  Boost the price of natural gas by 50¢/therm and they will just pay it.  Fixing the problem is going to take energy and transportation policy, including a major infrastructure program.  Tax policy is way too puny to fix things at prices people can afford to pay.

    you don’t show that a carbon tax and dividend would not lead to more renewable electricity generation

    As I keep telling AlzHarvey over at GCC, that is the wrong metric… and you of all people should know it.  The ONLY thing that matters is GHGs added to the atmosphere.  Michael Shellenberger has noted that increased “renewable” generation in France has led to increased emissions, because of the natural gas needed to “balance” its unreliable output.  “More renewables” has taken France backwards; France is way beyond the point of zero returns on “renewable” generation.

    Don’t tell me “storage” will ride to the rescue:

    At the same time, the report warns that energy storage has limitations in a system with much greater variability due to renewable generation. The answer to the problem of intermittency in renewable energy will not be energy storage.

    “The current state of battery storage technology does not have the ability to match the duration of such events without significant (and very expensive) over-build of those resources,” the report states in an executive summary.

    Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

    We may have a new way that even the least-reliable energy can make a guaranteed dent in atmospheric CO2, though.  It can power atmospheric extraction systems using polyanthraquinones.  Since it doesn’t matter where you grab CO2, and doesn’t matter when on an annual basis either, this looks like an ideal “dump load” for wind and PV generation.  You don’t have to store a thing, except the CO2.

    Carbon tax and dividend … would push people to at least consider things like electric cars.

    That only works if their electric power is decarbonized, and is THE most expensive way to decarbonize personal transportation.

    Big car batteries are horribly wasteful because they get poor utilization from scarce materials.  It makes vastly more sense to drive most transport to PHEVs using fuel consumption or CO2 emissions limits, just as we have limits for other pollutants; charge with carbon-free power and you’re golden.  The US transport sector used 26.9 quads of petroleum in 2018, of which about 16.6 quads was gasoline, 6.6 quads of “distillate” (probably diesel) and 3.5 quads was jet fuel.  Speaking from experience, it is downright easy to get rid of 2/3 of LDV fuel consumption by plugging in (I’m getting about 80%).  Reducing gasoline from 16.6 quads to 5.5 would let us handle all the rest with biofuels, if we did it right… which nobody is yet.

    Note that governments would have to be prevented from trying to replace lost gasoline tax revenue with new taxes on non-emitting vehicles.

    How is nuclear power going to create (a) low carbon cement, (b) deal with the problem of coking coal in steel manufacture, (c) agricultural emissions, (d) boost the uptake of electric cars, just a few examples?

    (a) and (b) Use molten carbonate fuel cells as CO2 pumps to pull it from flue gases… at an energy profit.  My comment on that piece shows what I think about it.  MCFCs work, they are an engineering reality today.  (What we don’t have yet is anyplace to put all that CO2 or ways to get it there.  Did I mention a need for infrastructure?)

    (c) You’ll have to be much more explicit which agricultural emissions you mean.  Soil carbon depletion, N2O production and cow farts (or methane-bubbling manure lagoons) are completely different things with different changes required to limit, eliminate or reverse them.

    (d) Just put a carbon-emission or fuel-consumption ceiling on the first X miles of the test cycle starting with a fully-charged traction battery, if any.  Major auto suppliers like ZF are rolling out hybrid drivetrain hardware at an amazing rate, so it will not be long before the cost and complexity of substituting electricity for liquid fuel by going PHEV will drop substantially.  Then all you need is the emissions-free power for the charging.

    Nuclear power just cant

    Pun intended?  If so, it’s wrong.

    Nuclear power can light the lights, supply the district heat, charge the plug-in vehicles and power the CO2 extraction.  That gets most of the emissions and offsets some of the rest.  What you don’t mention includes things like fugitive methane emissions from landfills.  Guess what, nuclear power can fix that too!  Just carbonize your solid waste and not only can’t bacteria chew on it any more, you slash the volume and convert a substantial amount of it to syngas.  You can use the syngas to make fuels or other products; the methane fraction displaces natural gas and the hydrogen can make things like ammonia that would otherwise be made from NG as well.  Pebble-bed reactors run more than hot enough to stabilize solid waste in minutes instead of decades.  A good deal of your MSW stream comes from biomass, so that functions as a bit of BECCS.

    Yes, I have given some thought to these things.  Why do you ask?

    if not a carbon tax and dividend, what?

    Mainly policy, with CT&D as a relatively minor incentive package.  Gasoline up $.90/gallon, NG up 50¢/therm and a monthly check is one thing; most new vehicles with charging ports, vehicle chargers almost everywhere you stop and 24/7 clean power which lets you go to a heat pump are actual measures people can use to keep what’s in that check.  You need policy to get the infrastructure going and handle things like managing demand peaks.

    We are doing fine with wind, plus geothermal plus hydro. Never had instability issues.

    If memory serves you are a Kiwi and hydro-dominant, not wind.  South Australia is not doing well.  SA has had substantial blackouts and relies on its fossil-heavy neighbor states to counter the wild swings in its wind output.  These things will collapse sooner rather than later if everyone tries to do them.

  41. 291

    BPL @235 et seq:

    If we have to burn natural gas 2 weeks out of 52 and run solar and wind the rest of the time, I can live with that.

    That’s not how it works.  You will burn NG 14 hours a day and call yourself “renewable” the other 10, and the NG plants will be inefficient open-cycle gas turbines because those are the only ones that can counter the rapid ups and downs of wind and PV.

    [Wind power is] cheaper than fossil fuels now even without subsidies.

    Wind energy may be cheap, but it still is not worth what it costs.  You admit above that you’re going to have to maintain an entire gas-fired backup system to keep the lights on.  That is a cost of wind power that it does not have to pay.  Someone is paying, but the wind scammers ride free.

    You take away all the subsidies for fossil fuels and nukes (including the Price-Anderson Act) and I’ll take away all the subsidies for wind and solar.

    I would be ECSTATIC to get rid of Price-Anderson and treat nuclear like any other industry.  Chemical plants are not held liable for accidents at other companies, to give just one example of how Price-Anderson treats the entire nuclear industry like a pariah.  Treating nuclear the same as e.g. natural gas would require gas plants to monitor and prevent radon from being emitted into the environment, since it is radioactive.  Or maybe, giving nuclear a pass on emissions up to what’s tolerated from gas and coal plants… which are pretty high.

    That would slash the regulatory costs of nuclear.  Yeah, man!  Sign me up!

  42. 292

    zebra lies @239:

    We know that in many parts of the US, people have installed solar panels on their houses, meeting their net domestic electricity needs, charging their electric cars, and selling surplus electricity.

    Note, “net domestic electricity needs”.  Not “real-time electricity needs”.  The work (and cost) of turning “net” into “real time” is externalized to other generators.

    As I’ve pointed out in this thread without refutation, if you set up a true free market situation in electricity generation (generation, not distribution), the market will sort out who uses what source for their particular load.

    The utilities who are the victims of “net metering” laws, and their other customers, do not have the right to refuse unneeded generation or set its price less than zero—they can’t even set the price lower than the delivered-on-demand power that they provide!  Those people with solar panels are being PAID for the wires, transformers and other costs of DELIVERING POWER TO THEM.  This cannot go on, and it won’t.  In the mean time, they are ripping off the rest of the public.

  43. 293

    And “Al Bundy” spewed @242:

    FYI, sustainable fuels will come from multiple sources. Today, slash and whatnot is burned in place either deliberately or accidentally. My forestry system harvests much of that wasted energy.

    QUANTIFY it, clown.  New editions of the “Billion-Ton report” consistently find something like 1.3 to 1.4 billion tons of potential biomass per year.  At the EPA’s figure of 8.25 million BTU/ton of agricultural byproducts and 17.48 million BTU/ton for wood and forestry residues, that comes way, WAY below our energy demands just from oil and gas.

    Most biofuel schemes lose a great deal of energy and carbon in the conversion to final products.  No way in HELL are you running a 100 quad/year economy on less than 25 quad/yr of biomass energy before losses.  If you think you can, you are insane.  If you did not do the numbers, you are innumerate.

    I don’t understand math?? I got an 800 on the math SAT. How’d you do, brainiac?

    800.  And I understand that it peaked out at algebra and maybe a bit of trig, not going the slightest bit into calculus or DiffEq.  I ran through it, checked my answers and handed it in in less than half the allotted time.  I wasn’t going to sit around bored off my ass.

    I scored 5’s on both halves of the AP Physics exam and a 5 on the Calculus BC before I took the SAT.  How did YOU do, brainiac?  And no, I am not an Asian grind; I’m an all-American boy.

    So it would be impossible to use excess wind to create synfuel and then burn said fuel when it’s needed?

    Posit your method of creating synfuel.  Consider essential cost of energy (since most of your produced energy will have to go to storable forms), losses in conversion, O&M and especially cost of capital for all the physical plant required.  Can you afford it?

    If you’re so good with math, you’ve run those numbers already.  Show them to us.  Wait, you haven’t?  You’re BSing.

    We MUST go dark when wind and solar fail for a week because synfuel will always be impossible

    We WILL go broke trying to run on wind and solar because their irregularities create costs well in excess of what they are worth.  Neither synfuels nor batteries will let us run on them; the buffering hardware won’t hold enough energy to build more “renewables” plus the buffering they need.  They are energy-negative and will kill us if we pursue them.

    Nuclear has an EROEI (energy return on energy invested) in excess of 80.  Only that way lies survival in a world with a livable climate.

    my engine’s design is resistant to methanol erosion.

    That’s nice.  Why don’t you use methanol’s inherent instability to crack it back to CO and H2 with exhaust heat, and not inject straight methanol into your engine at all?  You get greater fuel energy and the capacity to run extremely lean mixtures in the bargain.  That slashes combustion temps and NOx production.

    I’ve only been reading this in publications since the 70’s.  Have you gotten to the 70’s yet?

    Achates does 2 strokes. My engine does 10 strokes.

    I’m sure you’re doing lots and lots of strokes, with Vaseline for lube and Kleenex for the exhaust.  No way is a woman involved; just 10 strokes and they’ll never see you again.

    If folks want to see a semi-reasonable attempt at a modern engine take a look at MotivEngines.com.

    Is that YOUR engine?  GCC has something on it but it’s 5 years old.  Looks like there is not enough efficiency improvement to make the extra complexity worth it.  Much more recently we have a scheme to use idled cylinders to double the expansion ratio, but that’s a 6-cycle engine at most so it can’t be yours.

  44. 294
    nigelj says:

    Kevin McKinney @282,

    Yes good point, it’s very difficult defining capitalism precisely, but most dictionaries list private ownership as the main defining feature. Capitalism is almost defined by what it is not : socialism which is government ownership. In reality most societies combine both, so America would be mostly a capitalist society, Scandinavia is more of a mixed economy, Cuba is mainly a socialist economy although its changing a bit. But you know that, I’m just thinking aloud.

    Now investment and the banking system relies on an expanding economy or expanding firms, same difference, so at zero growth theres a risk of diminishing investment, and increasing debt. A whole new way of financing would probably be required but I would contend you still have capitalism in some form, because private ownership could remain the same (if we want that). A simple google search finds plenty of well written articles claiming capitalism doesn’t need economic growth, although clearly they reinforce each other.

    Now you said “That is, yes, capitalism survives in this scenario. Zero economic growth doesn’t, however, because the outputs must be worth more in order to create the profit. ”

    I don’t see that this is always true about outputs. Economic growth is an increase in the quantity of goods and services per person. The outputs could be worth more simply by being better constructed, even if there was no increase in quantity, so at zero growth you could still make a profit, maybe a lesser profit. I was thinking of a zero economic growth economy based around recycling. Am I wrong?

  45. 295

    zebra lied @251:

    There are sources, and there are loads, and then there is the grid, which is all the wires that connect them.

    People like EP want to blur that distinction…

    Wrong.  The grid, as once understood under a single authority, consisted of ALL those elements and the physical characteristics which made it stable and operable.

    You are trying to dissect and modify it, in order to insert pieces which cannot provide the properties required by the system as a whole.  You do not understand why this will not work.  I try to tell you why, even as it produces failures in South Australia and Scotland.  But you do not try to understand, you just call me names.

    In a battle between name-calling and physics, physics wins every time.

    that’s why he objects to my common-carrier modality, although he cannot offer any explanation of why it wouldn’t work.

    HTF!  Who is the “common carrier” for physical inertia in your “market” model?  For reactive power?  For automatic frequency control?

    Where is your mechanism for billing “providers” for putting excess, un-needed power onto the grid without providing any inertia, reactive power or other things the grid requires to handle it?

    So, BPL is correct… if we (source and load) pay the grid operator to operate the grid, and we (the load) pay the source for KWH, there is no issue with “stability”.

    In your dreams.  You have no idea what the grid requires, as proven by that single sentence.  Neither will you listen to the people who do.

    If source or load imposes special demands on the grid operator, then that individual entity would pay extra for the service.

    If that was true, there would be no such thing as “net metering” service for people with PV panels.  They impose huge demands on other generators, which they do not pay for.  In a true market, PV generation would be paid for energy on a spot basis and charged for balancing, reactive power and ramping services on a cost-plus basis.  It would probably be uneconomic beyond a few percent.

    If load has special demands for sources, likewise it pays more for the KWH.

    That is true to a degree; I have looked up rate schedules and how they vary with capacity factors and loads during peak hours.  But I have seen nothing that truly deals with the unreliability of wind and PV generation.  They all appear to be paid at premium rates with no penalties for their output surging or falling off unpredictably; dealing with their unreliability falls to others, who get nothing for their essential work.

    Well, guess what?  If you don’t pay for that essential work, someday IT WON’T GET DONE.  Then you will have blackouts.  And it will be all your fault, for believing you could get something for nothing.

  46. 296
    zebra says:

    #282 Kevin McKinney,

    A worthwhile effort, Kevin. I hope that you can see my warrants, which I keep thinking I set out on the table, more clearly with my #286.

    The reference you gave is helpful in providing a contrast to my approach:

    Capitalism refers to an economic system which allows individuals privately to own and use capital. Capital is the means of production including resources, property, technology, knowledge, goods and services which are useful for production.

    I’m pointing to what I think are obvious (and hardly original with me) distinctions within that list.

    Now, your…

    there’s a danger that competition itself is rendered pointless because there are simply no meaningful advantages to be found. (Honestly, a lot of the modern marketplace feels that way to me already.)

    …is an example of the level to which I am trying to raise the discussion. Yes, let’s get past whether things are “fair” or “just” and think about utility. What keeps the progress (rather than “growth” a-coming?

  47. 297
    zebra says:

    #288 Engineer-Poet,

    I think I asked you previously if you realize how crazy you sound, and I’m at the point where it seems truly hopeless and cruel to keep responding.

    For people who might actually be interested in the topic I’ve been addressing (rather than whatever is going on in EP’s obviously confused mind); this is a very nicely written discussion:

    https://www.e-education.psu.edu/ebf483/node/694

    You could start at the beginning of the course, but this particular lesson explains some of the terminology that is related to how the market works, and lesson 12 deals with integrating wind and solar.

    None of this has anything to do with EP’s (mis)understanding of electric circuits. I’ve been talking about markets and economics; there is no physical constraint…solar panels on your roof will not cause the power lines to explode, as he perhaps imagines.

  48. 298

    E-P 290: “The current state of battery storage technology does not have the ability to match the duration of such events without significant (and very expensive) over-build of those resources,” the report states in an executive summary.

    BPL: Here is a classic example of the fallacy of equivocation. E-P has substituted “battery storage technology” and used it to mean “storage in general.”

  49. 299

    E-P 291: You will burn NG 14 hours a day and call yourself “renewable” the other 10, and the NG plants will be inefficient open-cycle gas turbines because those are the only ones that can counter the rapid ups and downs of wind and PV.

    BPL: Prove it. Show your work. Denmark is getting 45% of its electricity from wind; that doesn’t sound to me like most of it is coming from natural gas peaking turbines. But I’ve seen this dance from anti-renewables freaks before. It used to be “renewables can never contribute more than 20%” back when Denmark was getting 20% of its electricity from wind. Before that it was “renewables can never contribute more than 15%.” Etc. And you still don’t, apparently, believe in wide-area smart grids. But I do.

  50. 300

    E-P 293: And no, I am not an Asian grind; I’m an all-American boy.

    BPL: And proud of your whiteness.

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