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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.

544 Responses to “Forced responses: Oct 2019”

  1. 301
    Al Bundy says:

    Kevin M,
    Yep, “shoveling money upwards” isn’t the conscious thing. But consider the ramifications of “your job is to make your boss look good”.

  2. 302
    Al Bundy says:

    Kevin M,
    Nope. Loans are not made based on whether or not the borrower’s future looks bright. Loans are made with the assumption that the borrower’s future will not deviate from the borrower’s present. Head to a bank while you have terminal cancer and your prospective loan will be judged as if you won’t have to quit your job tomorrow for medical reasons. And yes, I have personal experience. My wife was dying. The bank couldn’t care less.

  3. 303
    Al Bundy says:

    Killian,
    No. The desire for growth is in no way linked to any economic system. Tis human nature. To credit one system for human nature is flawed. Capitalism, socialism, communism, and Laborism all function regardless of growth, stagnation, or contraction.

  4. 304
    Al Bundy says:

    Nigel,
    None of your sources on nonprofits has considered the possibility of predatory nonprofits. When talking to an inventor you’ll miss the boat by looking to the past.

  5. 305
    Al Bundy says:

    E-P,
    You speak AC. I’m not an EE but I’m edging towards the DC side. The circuit breaker and transformer issues are solved. Frankly, I’m bending towards an all DC system. All those vampire loads go away. Motors’ efficiency skyrockets. Are you saying that we should stick with AC, including for long distance power transmission?

  6. 306

    nigelj writes @254:

    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.

    Anything biomass-related comes down to Net Primary Productivity:

    1.  How much biomass do you need to make it work?
    2.  Can you get it? (if no, go directly to Fail, do not pass Go, do not collect $200)
    3.  Is the cost, including ecosystem damage, acceptable?  (This is admittedly a value judgement.)

    Yes the article is by an industry player so a bit biased, but its still a good picture of the situation.

    The article is 100% correct on all its technical points.  Its bias was in omissions, failing to even touch on any difficulties of storage/buffers including issues 1-3 above.  That bias was all pro-RE.

    One of the details that never seems to make it outside of power engineering forums is that the loss of inertia on the grid is a disaster in the making.  In brief, a power surplus on the grid speeds it up, and a deficit slows it down; plants are always chasing the frequency error to keep it within spec.  The existing generators (such as operated by Drax) are ponderous things; “automatic frequency control” can take up to 30 seconds to respond with an increase or decrease in output.  As PV and wind replace steam turbines and inertia is lost, the same generation-demand mismatch speeds or slows the remaining rotating mass faster and faster.  You start to come up against the 0.5 Hz error limit before generators can respond, and that is when things start to trip off-line.  If generators trip in an under-frequency situation, or loads trip in an over-frequency situation, you have all the makings of a cascading blackout.

    Single-shaft gas turbines are part of the problem; their compressors are directly coupled to their alternators, and losing speed causes a loss of pressure ratio, air flow and power output.  Losing power when it needs to be increased is one more thing leading to instability and blackouts.

  7. 307

    AB writes @255:

    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.

    Being the curmudgeon that I am, I’m going to disagree with you.  Placing reliance on the inherently unreliable IS a physical flaw, a consequence of a policy trying to overrule physical reality.  The flawed economic model is downstream of that error and somewhat apart from it.

  8. 308

    Kevin McKinney wrote @259:

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

    Math fail.  From your link:

    At the end of 2017, 708 megawatts (MW) of power capacity,[1] representing 867 megawatthours (MWh) of energy capacity,[2] of large-scale[3] battery storage capacity was in operation.

    708 MW is less than 0.1% of US nameplate generation.  867 MWh is equivalent to 8670 Tesla Model S’s.  Tesla delivered 97,000 vehicles in 3Q19.  And that’s where the batteries need to be:  in vehicles.

    AC Propulsion ran a test of vehicle-to-grid regulation service almost 2 decades ago.  We don’t even need to back-feed; simply ramping chargers up and down to offset other generation/demand imbalances can handle quite a bit of the minute-to-minute frequency error on the grid.  But the need to replace petroleum should go ahead of any push to run the grid on batteries.

  9. 309

    And nigelj decided to practice clinical psychology without a license:

    I agree with comments that Engineer-Poet is conflating market organisation with the physical technology.

    Any market that’s going to work has to be consistent with the underlying physical reality.  What we’re seeing is that the market-as-designed is working against the ostensible goals thereof; what was claimed would be “renewable” is instead pushing nuclear and even combined-cycle plants out, and locking gas-fired open-cycle power in.  This outcome was inevitable given the physical technology.  The people who set up the “market” of hourly spot-auctions could not have been ignorant of this, so it’s certain that it is what they intended.

    I think his real motive behind this shennanigans is he wants a government run system building lots of lovely nuclear power with ample subsidies.

    Why would I want things government-run and subsidized?  What I want is decarbonization, and the fastest and cheapest means to that end is probably the best.  District heat is highly efficient and is the obvious choice of many (from EBR II in Idaho to Yanlongs in China).  If you’re going to have it, it is best-suited for building and operating as a municipal utility like the water and sewer systems.  If you’ve got some other way to decarbonize the space heat and DHW of half the USA, I’d love to see it.  So far all I’ve seen from you is grousing and hand-waving, and now imputation of nefarious motives.

    Why would I want government to own everything, anyway?  It doesn’t do anything for me.  I’m not in the business and I live where natural gas service only became available in the previous decade.  But I recognize that a municipality that can borrow money at 3% interest is going to be able to provide service at about half the cost of a corporation which has to pay 7%.  Giving windfall profits to the FIRE sector is the basic ailment of the USA, and probably all Western economies.

    Personally I think government picking winners like that is problematic

    I’m sitting in the middle of an early cold snap brought on by the northern polar vortex wandering halfway down to the equator.  We’re 30 years too late in taking action to prevent that, and who knows what’s next?  The imperative to PICK SOMETHING, NOW is obvious.  You gotta build it before it can do anything for you, and you gotta pick what to build first.

    Picking things which take us backwards is a crime against humanity.  My state averaged 608 MW of wind power last year, but is poised to let 805 MW of nuclear power shut down permanently.  “More wind power” is obviously the wrong choice.

    its better to leave generating companies to make decisions on what zero carbon generating source they use.

    <sigh>  Tunnel vision.  You cannot wrap your head around the fact that this requires action on EVERYTHING, not just electric generation.  I tell you “one NuScale can heat an entire small city at 45 degrees north, light that city and the area around it, and charge all the EVs too” and you’re all “don’t pick winners!”  Well, what have YOU got that can do that job?  So far it looks like you got nothing.

    I suspect that really bothers you, because you really want to be Green but you personally have no idea how to make it work.  When I tell you that it CAN’T work, and this was the intent of the people who designed the Green propaganda program… that gets under your skin, doesn’t it?  Accepting that means knowing that you’ve been played for a fool.  Not pleasant, no.  But necessary.

  10. 310
    zebra says:

    #298 BPL,

    BPL, I think EP is way past the fallacy stage; he just keeps repeating the same arguments… even when I agree with him.

    I suggest eliminating what he claims are inequities like net metering and his response is: “But what about net metering?!”

    And when I say that in my common-carrier model, nuclear will attract buyers who can’t deal with the intermittency of wind and solar, he says: “No, no, don’t you understand that wind and solar are intermittent?!”

    I would say he’s stuck in some kind of mental feedback loop, but he will then no doubt offer up his incorrect understanding of feedback loops in electric circuits.

    Well, I tried.

  11. 311
    Al Bundy says:

    E-E,
    It is incredibly inefficient to keep a combustion chamber below ignition temperature. Not only are the thermal losses brutal but the chamber’s walls quench the burn, so a significant amount of fuel becomes pollution instead of work. Nearly all engine designers accept that this abomination is an inevitable fatal flaw. Inventors are attracted to “inevitable” flaws. Because they generally aren’t inevitable.

    Direct injection of fuel near TDC solves the problem, letting the engine not just survive but thrive on seriously hot walls. Earlier injection just burns counterproductively. So I ask you, is near TDC injection possible with hydrogen? In other words, is a gas injector (as opposed to a liquid injector) remotely reasonable?

    The possibilities shrink as efficiency rises. Yep, lots of ways to go from 25% to 40% efficiency. Only a couple get you from an abysmal 40% to a reasonable 60%. The only one currently in use is combined cycle, which is insanely expensive and doesn’t scale down.

    Now you know why I’ve been considering only liquid fuels.

    And yep, conversions cost bigly. Bio/synfuel’s main competitors are storage systems. In vehicles it’s weight. Heavy batteries turn tires into polluting microplastic generators. In stationary systems it’s smoothing. You know, the bit that you correctly call critical in a renewables world. Why attack instead of celebrate? An open minded E-E would assimilate and ponder. Which sort of E-E are you?

  12. 312
    Al Bundy says:

    E-P,
    Oops! I acronymized electrical engineer instead of engineer poet. Hopefully you took that error as a compliment. Those here who reject your truths are wrong. You’re sentient.

  13. 313
    Mr. Know It All says:

    251-zebra, 252-nigelj, and 298-BPL

    Problem with wind/solar supplying power for the utility grid is that the generation curve does not match the demand curve. Here’s an article on it; more on the internet:

    https://understandsolar.com/renewable-energy-systems/

    A solution does not currently exist for a reasonable cost at utility grid scale. We need a breakthrough in storage technology, and that may eventually happen. For an off-grid home, it’s not a huge problem – just takes lots of BIG batteries, but current battery technology is too costly for a utility grid sized solution.

  14. 314
    Mr. Know It All says:

    253-zebra
    “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?”

    Lighting with LEDs requires very little power. One PV panel, a big deep cycle battery, a charge controller, etc should power lights for a home if you use task lighting and conserve.

    Lighting isn’t the problem – the problem is heating, refrigeration, heating water, cooking, charging your EV, etc. I did a calc for heating only but it was not posted. Here is a brief summary of that calc:

    Older home in Columbus, Ohio, 0 deg F night on Dec 21 (15 hours with no sun)
    Heat loss: 37,000 BTU/hr = 11 kW.
    Heat pump COP at 0 deg F = 1.5 (assumed)
    Power input to heat pump: 11 kW/1.5 = 7.3 kW
    Energy required for the night: 7.3 kW x 15 hours = 110 kWh
    Max battery discharge = 50% (assumed), thus battery bank = 220 kWh
    Multiply 220 x the number of cloudy/windless days for your system

    Example system selection:
    Winter system output = 25.51 kWh
    Number of systems needed = 110/25.51=4.3
    Buy 5 of these, batteries sold separately below:
    https://www.wholesalesolar.com/1891458/wholesale-solar/complete-systems/the-ranch-11.34-kw-36-panel-mission-solar-off-grid-solar-system

    Do NOT use this example for design purposes; consult an expert.

  15. 315
    nigelj says:

    Engineer-Poet @291

    “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.”

    How did you arrive at those numbers?

    Surely we would not even need gas if there was enough storage .This article below basically concludes a fully renewable grid works provided there is enough storage, that must also provide reactive power, so a combination of battery and pumped hydro for example. Looks to me like its a question of dollars and cents more than viability.

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

  16. 316
    Al Bundy says:

    Just for grins and chuckles, the primary differences between MotivEngine’s design and the Caldwell cycle engine:

    Motiv uses a 2/2/2 stroke process. Caldwell uses a 2/4/2 stroke process. That’s why they get 5 strokes and Caldwell gets 10.

    Motive does fast precompression and reexpansion. This results in much friction (the rule is that the longer the stroke the slower the RPM so maximum piston speed does not increase) Caldwell’s half speed precompression and reexpansion cylinders abide by this Truth. Motive does not, so their engine suffers from excessive friction. (Also, efficiency is related to the piston speed to speed of sound ratio. Motive’s fast PC and RE obviously suffer.)

    Motive’s combustion chamber is thermally linked to oiled parts. Caldwell isolates the two from each other. Lots of good things result.

    Motiv swishes gasses back and forth, which represents a dead loss. Caldwell shepherds gasses in a single direction.

    Motive’s combustion chamber is horribly configured, resulting in slow combustion and unacceptable thermal losses. Caldwell’s combustion chamber’s width equals its height, maximizing tumble (think ice skater as her arms are drawn inward) and minimizing surface area.

    Motive uses compression ignition and must fight quenching. Caldwell uses hot wall ignition boosted by compression ignition, resulting in explosive ignition, which would normally be fatal but clever design protects susceptible parts from shock.

    Motive’s gas transfers are done via inefficient long 180 degree passages. Caldwell uses efficient short 90 degree passages.

    Both Motiv and Caldwell rely on exhaust gas retention (not recirculation) to reduce maximum temps. Caldwell adds staged combustion to further reduce NOX.

    Motiv uses a two stroke core, which increases power density compared to Caldwell. But since motors thrash engines with regard to peaking power engine only vehicles are stupid. And if the engine is only responsible for average power requirements, say 20hp in a car, who cares about power density?

    Eh, that’s enough for now.

  17. 317

    zebra lies @297:

    I think I asked you previously if you realize how crazy you sound

    Talk sense to a fool, and he calls you foolish.

    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

    Right there, first sentence in Section 9.1:

    Since electricity cannot be stored in large volumes at reasonable cost….

    I have been trying to educate you nitwits about Ludington (and PHS in general) and why it cannot scale for literally weeks now.  If you insist on believing in magic and call physics “crazy”, you are beyond help.  If you dominate politics, this whole civilization is beyond help (literally).  If that’s the case, we are too stupid in aggregate to survive… and you’ve done your part.  Shoot yourself now, your mission is complete and you don’t need to stick around for the denoument.

    None of this has anything to do with EP’s (mis)understanding of electric circuits.

    You were never clear what you were talking about, and I note that you have no FACTUAL criticism of what I posted.  You detail no errors in physics or math; that’s because there aren’t any.  You have nothing more than hand-waving.

    I’ve been talking about markets and economics; there is no physical constraint…

    Markets can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent, and economics bears no relationship to physical reality.

    solar panels on your roof will not cause the power lines to explode, as he perhaps imagines.

    Have you not heard of “the duck curve”?  Nobody ever said that power lines would explode, we said that they could not carry a day’s worth of energy in the few hours of production of “renewables”, and you wouldn’t be able to make that energy sustain you over the full day at a cost you could afford anyway.  We said that “renewables” would force 24/7 low- and zero-emissions elements of the system (like nuclear plants) beyond their physical limits and replace them with more-emitting but fast-ramping gas turbines.  Which is actually happening.  Not just Diablo Canyon, but ALL of California’s coastal CCGTs are closing.  GHG emissions are going up as a direct consequence… and where are you?

    I keep telling you that the ONLY metric to worry about is the amount of GHG emitted, one fraction of which is directly related to fossil fuels consumed.  You can use INFINITY “renewables” and you will not save the planet if you are still putting too much fossil carbon into the atmosphere.  If you can’t find the clue, the problem is you.

    Eat your pride.  It will taste bad, but it’s good for you.

  18. 318
    nigelj says:

    Engineer-Poet @290, ok I admit that’s interesting.

    Firstly regarding your ongoing determined scepticism about renewable electricity generation. I read this recently on grid stability:

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

    The article makes plain that a fully renewable energy electric grid is stable provided there is enough storage plus renewable generation that is capable of providing reactive power. Storage can come form batteries, pumped hydro, or molten salt etcetera. Reactive power comes from pumped hydro or biofuels powered turbines as discussed in the article. So many permutations are possible, such as wind + solar+ batteries + pumped hydro. There is no need for gas fired power.

    The whole renewables thing comes down to costs, and plenty of studies suggest they are affordable eg Jacobson. Others are more sceptical. Perhaps its best left to the market to sort it out.

    The huge power outage in South Australia was not due to wind farm intermittency and grid stability issues. It was due to a huge storm taking down transmission lines and a software bug at the wind farms. I’m not kidding:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_South_Australian_blackout

    Now I have no problem with nuclear power in principle. It resolves many of the technical problems and given current costs of storage it beats wind and solar power, but you have a couple of problems 1) resistance from the public and 2) the problem of governments picking winners. I get nervous at the idea of my government picking nuclear power just as I would be nervous if they picked wind power as I’m sure you would.

    I think its better to have an electricity market where its left to the generating companies to make those sorts of decisions on what generation to build, and the lines company makes sure the whole system is properly integrated together, so is effectively a manager. The government just makes sure no one option gets preferential subsidies. Sort of as Zebra suggests. Or alternatively let the technocrats make the decision. Government’s job is to make sure the electricity market works properly and is appropriately regulated. Why would you think this is wrong?

    Most countries work on the basis of a combination of free markets and some government control and that’s ok with me. I think we should try to keep to that paradigm and not let government alone dictate solutions nor should we think markets alone will fix the whole climate problem, as the GOP erroneously believe because both those extreme approaches create trouble. Despite the climate crisis, it would be good to preserve a sane political and economic philosophy.

    Regarding plug in hybrid vehicles. Ok so they use smaller batteries than EV’s but its just not a huge difference really. I’m also having a lot of trouble reconciling your criticisms of biofuels in your response to AB with your promotion of biofuels for hybrid cars. And currently biofuel petrol blends are pretty weak. And the trouble with hybrid cars is having two engines is inefficient. But hybrids are obviously preferable to ICE vehicles.

    Now about carbon tax and dividend. You say your answer to the whole climate issue is “Mainly policy, with CT&D as a relatively minor incentive package. ”

    I like this, but I would say we need an equal combination of both in most cases. The problem is policy that addresses all the issues would be complicated as hell, where carbon tax and dividend is simpler. Seriously an awful lot of economists favour this mechanism and they aren’t idiots. However carbon tax and dividend does not adequately address certain issues, like vehicle charging infrastructure, so we certainly need a combination of both approaches. That is a given bottom line.

    And a combination of carbon tax and dividend and policy sits nicely with a market economy with market mechanisms, and some government policy, which is what most sane countries do.

    Taxes are a bit toxic in America, so your policy heavy approach might actually be best suited there. I know you focus strongly on the best technical solution, but unfortunately we have to work with whats politically possible, and promote the most viable things and it will vary from place to place.

  19. 319

    #298, BPL–

    Yes, and he also equivocated–actually, accepted the equivocation in the cited source–“current state of battery storage”–with a tactfully undefined future state (“will not”).

    It also fails to acknowledge that the source for that quote was a 2017 study. That’s not outrageously old, but still, it’s worth acknowledging that the message should really read “2017-vintage battery storage…” That may sound picayune, but consider that there has been “an 85% reduction [in the cost of Li batteries] in the 2010-18 period.”

    Then there’s the FUD about the “unpredictability” of renewable output, when the reality is that over next-day timescales it’s pretty darn predictable (and in fact, predicted).

    There’s also the rather hysterical characterization of the South Australian power grid–what was the phrase? Ah, yes: “these things will collapse”–which rather begs an explanation as to why there have been no big blackouts since 2017, even though renewable energy capacity has continued to grow in SA. Well, given that the proximate causes of the blackouts, contrary to E-P’s insinuation were multiple, with software issues on some wind farms being just one factor, and resource intermittency being quite irrelevant, perhaps that’s not so surprising.

    One could go on, but why?

  20. 320
    Al Bundy says:

    E-P,
    You spoke of district heating, which puzzles me. Why create heat and electricity far away instead of using an in-your-house engine? Call it free hot water and heat or free electricity. Whatever. 95+% total efficiency with nearlyzero possibility of a blackout significantly affecting your life sounds good to me.

  21. 321

    BPL equivocates @298:

    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.”

    Like everything else, you are accusing me of YOUR crime.  YOU are the one waving the term “storage” around as a cure-all, refusing to specify what KIND(s) of storage you mean.  You just implicitly admitted that batteries can’t do the job.  I showed in detail that PHS can’t do it either, because it can’t scale.  So you have to mean “storage” in some OTHER sense… which you refuse to specify, because to name it is to let your claim be pinned down, analyzed and demolished like the rest.

    The very term “renewables” is another example of the fallacy of equivocation and also of composition.  It collects things with little or nothing in common, and most of what is true of e.g. PV is untrue of geothermal and vice versa.

  22. 322
    Al Bundy says:

    Zebra,
    Yeah. Growth in utility isn’t lockstep with growth in energy used. Humans ain’t increasing in size. Well, that’s wrong in fatso-USA, but still.

  23. 323
    Al Bundy says:

    Kevin M,
    Have you ever worked where your job was NOT to shovel money into the owners’ pockets? Where value to customer or employee or society mattered a whit (with the caveat that pretending that such things mattered so as to grease the funnels into the owners’ pockets?)

    Capitalism by definition reduces every stakeholder except capital to a cost that needs to be minimized.

    So, do you agree that you’re a cost?

  24. 324

    While we’re waiting for the moderator to come back, also re zebra @297:

    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

    Having read part of that, I will stipulate to its accuracy and applicability to matters of grid stability, and I defy any and all of you to find one single thing in it which contradicts what I have told you.

    Now let’s see zebra find any sort of evidence that his vaporware ideas are working anywhere in the world.  I’ve looked, and I don’t see any.

  25. 325
    Al Bundy says:

    E-P,
    You’ve already had (at least?) one posting erased and now you make crude sexual insults?

    Have you ever heard, “I don’t think this body can stand any more pleasure”?
    How about, ” How’d we get here?”

    Has an ex ever called you to scream about how you’d ruined sex for her with other men because you’d “stretched her out”?

    It ain’t ten strokes but ten hours. There’s nothing like sending a woman hobbling off to work with an involuntary grin plastered all over her face. The first time her friend took one look and said, ” You’ve been righteously ****ed!”

    I had a policy. I never finished any segment of a session until she either begged or commanded. Nancy tried to win but eventually exclaimed with exasperation, “For God’s sake ***!”

    For God’s sake E-P, clean up your act.

  26. 326
    nigelj says:

    Al Bundy @320, “Why create heat and electricity far away instead of using an in-your-house engine?” Can you povide a brief description of this engine. I have a magnetic attraction to anything that provides stuff for free even although I know it probably wont.

    —————-

    Al bundy @ 323, “Have you ever worked where your job was NOT to shovel money into the owners’ pockets? Where value to customer or employee or society mattered a whit (with the caveat that pretending that such things mattered so as to grease the funnels into the owners’ pockets?)”

    Of course it shovels money upwards into the owners pockets. But so what? It doesn’t bother me. My old boss deserves some of my ‘money’ because hes more talented than me and worked crazy hours and started the company. He is generous and gives back quite well. Everyone is happy.

    Of course some people are unlucky or get abused by the money shovelling process, but that doesn’t make it wrong in principle. Once upon a time trade unions evened up the balance but the abusers fooled the people that unions were evil, something not helped by the behaviour by some unions. Lifes a b***h.

    ————–

    Al Bundy @315

    “You’ve (Engineer Poet) already had (at least?) one posting erased and now you make crude sexual insults?”

    Yes can we have less sexual insults, but also less bragging about sexual exploits (very amusing Al, but way over the top, pun not intended). Lets keep the bragging and humour vaguely science related.

  27. 327
    nigelj says:

    Al Bundy @323, correction: my boss deserves more money than me.

  28. 328

    BPL writes @299:

    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.

    Again, tunnel vision on electricity.  Denmark supplies a lot of space heat and DHW from district heating systems.  Until recently, many of these were coal-fired; Science Nordic reported in 2017 that Denmark had the fifth-highest per-household CO2 emissions in Europe.

    https://sciencenordic.com/carbon-climate-change-climate-solutions/average-danish-household-has-fifth-highest-carbon-footprint-in-europe/1449383

    Denmark has certainly not become a warm, Mediterranian country over the last few years, and its “improvements” in carbon emissions are bookkeeping ledgerdemain like importing other countries’ forests by the ship-load of pellets and burning them.

    Denmark’s “renewable” electric performance is made possible largely by its interconnection to hydro-heavy Norway.  Right now, the real-time map is showing Norwegian imports of 459 MW out of 4971 MW consumption.  https://en.energinet.dk/

    Do I really have to point out that neither wood pellets nor hydro can scale?  Among other things, there is only one Norway.  I’m pro-nuclear because there’s enough uranium for everybody.

    I have shown my work.  You have been amazingly lax, so now it’s your turn to do the same.

    @300:  You say that like it’s a bad thing.

  29. 329

    Al Bundy writes @305:

    You speak AC.

    Yes, I do.  I used to be fluent, but neglect a language and you get rusty.

    I’m not an EE but I’m edging towards the DC side. The circuit breaker and transformer issues are solved.

    As someone who just had a DC system blow out and not catch fire only by a miracle (the repairs are going to run to $thousands), you can color me skeptical.

    Frankly, I’m bending towards an all DC system. All those vampire loads go away. Motors’ efficiency skyrockets.

    You get new vampire loads for converters, and are you sure you have enough rare earths for all the supermagnets your motors will need?  Or are you able to manage this with plain iron rotors, like switched-reluctance motors?

    I’m given to understand that a lot of the new HVAC machinery uses inverter-based variable speed drives, but I have not dug into the details.  They may be using plain old 3φ induction motors.

    Are you saying that we should stick with AC, including for long distance power transmission?

    DC-DC converters are going to have the same lifetime issues with thermal cycling that solar inverters have.  I’ve got tube radios here which are running on transformers close to a century old.  How long are the essential components of your DC system going to last?

    I think we should avoid LD power transmission unless we absolutely must do it.  HVDC lines are amazing things, but if you can generate power where you need it, why bother?  You take a substantial efficiency hit with each converter station, and it just isn’t worth it for short hauls.  AC transformers are simple, rugged and above all cheap.  If we want a robust electric grid, we should probably stick with them; our lives literally depend on it.

  30. 330

    Al Bundy writes @311:

    It is incredibly inefficient to keep a combustion chamber below ignition temperature. Not only are the thermal losses brutal but the chamber’s walls quench the burn, so a significant amount of fuel becomes pollution instead of work. Nearly all engine designers accept that this abomination is an inevitable fatal flaw. Inventors are attracted to “inevitable” flaws. Because they generally aren’t inevitable.

    Direct injection of fuel near TDC solves the problem, letting the engine not just survive but thrive on seriously hot walls.

    Okay, NOW you have my attention.  For the record, I have held in my own two hands an example of exactly what you describe.  It was a ringless piston/cylinder pair made of silicon nitride which ran without a cooling jacket.  It was quite remarkable; the tolerances were so tight you could put it on a rubber drafting table and bounce the piston in and out on the trapped air.

    What I understand the engineers on the engine side of that effort discovered is that pre-heating of the intake air by the hot cylinder walls caused a great deal of efficiency loss by increasing the compression work (I could have been told wrong and this was a long time ago).  They made it back by turbocompounding, but it was not the pure win you’d expect from a naïve look at it.  This was aiming at the requirements of PNGV.  Then the EPA tightened the NOx limits, the engine had to run too hot to meet them, and the effort was dropped.

    Has DEF plus SCR catalysts made this possible again?

    is near TDC injection possible with hydrogen? In other words, is a gas injector (as opposed to a liquid injector) remotely reasonable?

    I would ask the people doing it.  https://www.westport.com/is/core-technologies/hpdi-2&nbsp; (That means “yes”; if you can do it with methane, you can do it with H2.)  On the other hand, I think hydrogen is a boondoggle.  I like to call it “hypedrogen” because of all the hoopla.

    Bio/synfuel’s main competitors are storage systems. In vehicles it’s weight.

    You know, I think we are on the same page here.  Pure BEVs are heavy, and also make inefficient use of their massive batteries.  I think we’ll hit the sweet spot by coming at the problem from both directions at once.  PHEVs have much smaller batteries with correspondingly less weight, and can cycle them several times a day.  Replace 2/3 of liquid fuel with carbon-free electricity and the other 1/3 with carbon-neutral liquid fuels, and you’ve got 100%.

    However, to get that 2/3 cut in liquid fuel consumption you MUST have carbon-free electric power on demand.  The two solutions we’ve got are hydro and nuclear, and hydro doesn’t scale.

  31. 331
    zebra says:

    #314,313 KIA, #305 Al Bundy,

    KIA, good on you for trying to do some math. But my point was more that you (and EP, of course) are talking about the system as it exists…we keep trying to kludge-adapt instead of embracing the new technology that is available.

    The LED thing was about eliminating the conversion of DC from your panels to 240V AC and then going to 120V AC and then bring it down to 12V DC (or whatever) in the base of an LED bulb. So, new construction or major remodeling, you put in a “lighting circuit” that goes from panel to battery to component-level LED. Minimum hardware in between, and, as you say, not a very big battery. And of course some outlets for directly charging your laptop.

    Consider also heating of both hot water and space. Putting aside the efficiency of heat pumps, you could just do resistance heating for water or “rocks” in your basement. Very direct, very cheap. Of course, you need lots more panels, but the “battery” is as good as the insulation on your water/rocks.

    So, “utility-scale” is really a red herring. It all depends on your location and local climate, and obviously new construction or retrofitting. But, as AB points out, maybe you could have a local DC grid picking up much of the function. And new construction, properly done, would use a fraction of the KWH you are talking about.

  32. 332
    zebra says:

    About EP at #317,

    Nobody ever said that power lines would explode, …. We said that “renewables” would force 24/7 low- and zero-emissions elements of the system (like nuclear plants) beyond their physical limits

    That’s not the royal we folks… there really are lots of different voices in his head:

    “It’s not the economics, it’s the physics.”
    “No, dearie, its the economics.”
    “But the physics…”

    “You have to eliminate net metering.”
    “You can’t have a common carrier, it would eliminate net metering!”

    And so it goes, eh.

  33. 333

    KIA 313: A solution does not currently exist for a reasonable cost at utility grid scale.

    BPL: Pumped hydro. Overbuilding. Wide-area smart grids (I know the latter doesn’t exist YET, but there’s no technological discovery needed to build them).

  34. 334

    E-P 317: economics bears no relationship to physical reality.

    BPL: Right, all those meticulous observations of supply and demand curves for 150 years were taken in Middle Earth, or at Hogwarts.

  35. 335

    E-P 321: I showed in detail that PHS can’t do it either, because it can’t scale.

    BPL: Your demonstration was completely irrelevant. You aggregated a huge number of very large power plants and then demanded that one pumped hydro installation cover the whole thing, which is totally beside the point. A lot of little installations can do just as well, and there will rarely be times when all those power plants are out at the same time–especially if they are small plants like solar and wind installations, instead of your giant nuclear plants. You said you couldn’t think of more than one possible place to put pumped hydro; well a recent survey found 530,000 possible places: https://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-spot-530-000-potential-pumped-hydro-sites-to-meet-all-our-renewable-energy-needs

    Your constant refrain is “nothing can do it but nuclear. Nothing can do it but nuclear.” Sorry, but I’m not buying it, and neither is anyone else who isn’t a nuke freak like you.

  36. 336
    Al Bundy says:

    BPL: and proud of your whiteness

    AB: ain’t it amazing how someone as nearly-brilliant as E-P can be so intellectually flawed? The human mind is amazingly self-defeating. I’m ever so glad that I don’t identify with your species.

    Nemesis, please pass the popcorn.

  37. 337
    Al Bundy says:

    E-P,

    Refusing to listen isn’t proof that no ideas were mentioned. Storage can be bio/synfuel, ultra massive flywheels, and even demand reduction. Your frequency control argument evaporates when DC is considered. You even argue against yourself (admirable) but without comprehension. If drawdown of CO2 is needed and it can use “excess” renewable supply, if synfuel can be used for storage, then how can intermittency be unsolvable?

    You’re relatively smart (for a white boy). Why refuse to learn and grow?

  38. 338
    Al Bundy says:

    So E-P, you defied, I responded with two letters: DC.

    Your turn.

  39. 339
    Al Bundy says:

    E-P,
    BPL chided you for conflating batteries with energy storage and you doubled down on myopic by conflating electrical storage with energy storage. Why?

  40. 340

    Have you ever worked where your job was NOT to shovel money into the owners’ pockets? Where value to customer or employee or society mattered a whit (with the caveat that pretending that such things mattered so as to grease the funnels into the owners’ pockets?)

    Yes, more so than not, because I’ve worked quite a lot in non-profit settings. I’ve also been, and continue to be, self-employed, and while in that context I sure intend to put some money in my pockets, I see that aim as well-aligned with value to customer and to society. When I’ve worked in for-profit settings, I’ve assumed the same alignment. Where it became evident that such alignment was largely a matter of pretense, I’ve tended to move on rather quickly.

  41. 341
    Killian says:

    Re #289 nigelj said 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.

    Agreed. That is what you meant.

    Profits can be made without expansion

    That’s even more stupidly delusional than the other.

    You know who Steve Keen is? In 2010 I told him his model for a circular economy could not work because it included profit. He’s been revising it ever since. He’s currently seeking additional funding – just got a nice bit – and, I think, contributors/researchers to nail down his circular economy model.

    What, dear misguided geniuses, do you think he has had to change profit to?

    You might further wonder how I, just me, was able to critique and offer feedback that he had no choice but to adjust to…

  42. 342
    Killian says:

    Re #224 nigelj said Killian @210, could you please describe regenerative governance in detail in your own words.

    I have. Repeatedly.

    The graphic in your link is hard to follow, and much too sketchily simplistic (excuse the pun).”

    You not learned enough is the actual problem. It’s really very simple.

    Having things within walking distance is a good rule but will need exceptions. Any heavy industry is noisy etc even if of very limited scale, and so you want it well away from living areas.

    Whatever you say…

  43. 343

    Regarding EVs–a recent subject here–one of the intriguing storylines is the prospect of drastically reduced maintenance costs (and improved in-service time) to augment the savings on fuel. The jury isn’t back on this, given the relatively small numbers of high-mileage EVs in the record, but this is an early indication that the simplification of the drivetrain inherent in the technology does in fact pay off:

    https://qz.com/1737145/the-economics-of-driving-seven-teslas-for-2-5-million-miles/?utm_source=pocket-newtab

  44. 344
    Killian says:

    Killian: That I am a good analyst is backed up by a long string of publicly stated forward-looking events that have come true.”

    NigelJ: More bragging to prove my previous points. Maybe you are a good analyst, but I’ve read enough of your comments to know you are just not that great or any better than me or AB etc.

    You really are an idiot.

    When you have, in fact, a long list of accomplishments others ignore to justify… ignoring you… because they are really, really fecking afraid of the implications… one can only reassert the CV.

    Just this year I predicted another near new low or new low for ASI and… 2nd. Some years the “tea leaves” say nothing, so I say nothing and… nothing much happens.

    Why would you not listen to someone you have watched do this more than once?

    I critiqued Steve’s model and he revised it. That happened. I’m currently trying to figure out how I can advise him further, but his model is very macro, and that is a really shitty approach to creating what I have come to call “human Nature,” so I’m really hoping I can come up with some insight that helps me translate regenerativeness at the global macro level in a way that can impact the model. No guarantees.

    My formal education in Economics consists of exactly one micro- and one macroeconomics class. How. The. #@(&. Did. I. Correct. A. World. Class. Economist? Hint: Earth DGAF about our petty little “Economics.” When you start w/ economics you’re already getting it wrong. There is no way to correct that error other than to *not* start with Economics. My informal education came via TheOilDrum. Defunct now. Years on that site with experts and scientists in various fields… and, even there, ahead of the curve.

    Synthesis of dispirate, seemingly minor info and data. I’m good at it. It’s not a skill so much as a characteristic. How I’m wired. Always been this way. I claim no credit for making myself good at it via hard study, honing analyses, etc. I’m a very lazy analyst… because it takes no effort. Give me data, patterns emerge. Think of it as being like 3-D movies: Multiple data streams, not fully integrated, from the outside seems like magic… and how does it make itself viewable? Two colors, two eyes. That’s it. I’m the 3-D glasses. Or maybe a prism, if that works better for you as an analogy.

    You already know about the 2016 ASI prediction. Did I mention FCI? Look ’em up. Ask Joe Dale about a White Paper he asked me to write up on a warehouse software and whether they took my advice or not and whether they laid off half of their staff or not because of what they did or didn’t recognize as salient feedback and how much money they did or didn’t lose.

    Note: I knew and still know jack shit about software development or warehousing software. How did I do that?

    How did I design the *only*, AFAIK, model – eight years ago – for a globally sustainable society? I’m just me, after all.

    How did I create a conceptual design for a global modelling of solutions… 11 years ago? Now, some guy has one based on the U.N. that is a pale comparison of the one I envisioned, so it’s getting closer to reality.

    Or how about my back-and-forths with Schmidt/Archer on permafrost and clathrates? The evidence is very quickly piling up on the side of me being significantly closer to the mark. HOW?

    Or stating in May/June 2016 that if HRC was going to be the Dem nominee, then better for Trump to win because we’d get 4 years of hell that would ignite the left/progressives and get things rolling with the next election, vs. 8 years of zero movement with center/right putzes running things.

    And on and on…

    You, out of just pure stupid stubborness, pretend none of this has ever happened because… you have no list of anything at these levels on these topics you have promulgated. Nor anyone else bickering about on this website. And what I tell you *must* be, that we really do not have but a very narrow range of choices *because of* the choices we have already made *and* because they are the best thing to do for the planet, anyway, scares the living crap out of you. “Simplicity” is a dirty word to most on these fora… and everywhere else. Zero carbon? Yay! Actually doing zero carbon? Nay! Saving Nature? Yay! Actually living simply enough *to* save Nature? Nay!

    I tell you these things because you who will not listen to sound thinking because of personal prejudices. I, on the other hand, have had tiffs with even my closest like-mindeds on this site because… it’s not about ego, power, strokes, etc., it’s about EVERYONE NOT FRYING OR DROWNING. I don’t align based on MAAS, ideology, beliefs or common views, I align based on facts, truth, solutions, so I even piss off my “friends,” eh, Thomas?

    I keep thinking if I keep demonstrating the ability to see things coming that none of the rest of you do, and keep doing things none of the rest of you have, you’ll actually get curious about HOW I do it with the goal of helping change the future by changing how you analyze the world. Or, if you don’t have the same wiring – I think it’s somewhat unusual, and we have our own strengths and natural, innate abilities, so I am not bragging as you always claim – at least come to trust my abilities. It’s important. We’re failing. There are solutions. They’ve been there all along and were written down in relative detail back in 2011/2012. And that was a case of unintended synchronicity, or just dumb luck, random accident… whatever.

    How to save the world came directly out of experiences with Occupy. It wasn’t Occupy itself, but something I tried to do, completely logical and rational, that the General Assembly in Detroit somehow considered a threat… truly bizarre episode… One flash of insight and within 3 hours I had drawn up a model that has been confirmed to have been an essential part of human history, and is still in existence in simpler form (generally one horizontal level, but the complexity of the modern world will require between 3 and 6, depending on the location) around the world. Confirmation of the concept was a shock. I have posted the video of Cheran, Mexico, where they use a very hrizontal version, a bit of a hybrid, and are not yet a true Commons, but have elements of Commons.

    Not one of you other laypersons have even one contribution along these lines to offer, yet since 2013, it’s been nothing but vitriol my way. Why? What I share cannot be tied up in neat little studies. There are no degrees in these areas, no PhDs to be had, and the people here are rabid if you cannot point to some book or paper that proves what you say – even though what must be in the future cannot, by definition, yet exist. [The discussion on these fora was not always like this. It shifted radically in 2013.]

    I’m an INTP. Just the facts. So I repeat the facts. I’m not going to convince you with fancy words. That’s not my thing.

    Hear or don’t. Up to you. No hurry… it’s only an existential threat.

  45. 345
    sidd says:

    Odd. When did realclimate get a listing on pornhub ?

    sidd

  46. 346
    David B. Benson says:

    Apparently the Australian grid designers are seriously considering demand response for all:
    http://bravenewclimate.proboards.com/thread/678/australian-grid?page=3#post-6076

  47. 347

    nigelj asks @315:

    How did you arrive at those numbers?

    Wind farms typically have 40% capacity factor or less.

    Surely we would not even need gas if there was enough storage .This article below basically concludes a fully renewable grid works provided there is enough storage

    Read this and weep.  http://euanmearns.com/the-loch-ness-monster-of-energy-storage/  The author’s conclusion:

    Scotland has acquired 8GW of wind power whether we like it or not and is likely to acquire a lot more in the years ahead. The Scottish Government has recently held a consultation on how to solve the mess they have created. The assumption has always been that energy storage would be used to store the peaks and release that energy into the troughs of wind generation. Mission impossible?

    For the foreseeable future, it will make much more sense to balance wind against gas or coal plants as happens now.

    As Shellenberger says, “the trouble with renewables isn’t fundamentally technical—it’s natural.

    a combination of battery and pumped hydro for example. Looks to me like its a question of dollars and cents more than viability.

    Do. The. Math.  The energy density is grossly inadequate to the task.  For instance, the USA produces natural gas year-round, but has to use storage (typically old gas wells) to buffer enough for winter demand peaks… and even so, sometimes the delivery pipelines run out of capacity and have to drop service to electric power plants to keep people’s heat on.  Petroleum is the same, only more so; there is about 2 months of inventory in the US system excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which boosts that to about 3 months.  http://ir.eia.gov/wpsr/overview.pdf

    When you fuel a nuclear plant, you typically fuel it for A YEAR AND A HALF.  That is what the fossil fuel interests are afraid of… and what you should be pushing with everything you’ve got.

  48. 348

    Al Bundy asks @320:

    You spoke of district heating, which puzzles me. Why create heat and electricity far away instead of using an in-your-house engine? Call it free hot water and heat or free electricity.

    How do you fully decarbonize with an in-house engine?  (Not that I don’t think they’re a good idea for backups, I just know that we don’t have nearly enough in the way of carbon-neutral fuels for them to do the heavy lifting.)

    A sufficiently large district heating system can use a nuclear heat source and go emissions-free; this is why China is pursuing the Yanlong idea.  If you are co-generating you can supply heat to the immediate area and power e.g. heat pumps beyond the reach of the hot-water network.

    The problem with nuclear heat is, perhaps ironically, that it is too potent.  Fermi 1’s reactor was rated at 430 megawatts thermal, though it never got fuel that allowed it to operate at full power.  The core of Fermi 1 was roughly 6.5 feet across and less than 5.5 feet tall; you could fit 2 of them in a normal-sized bedroom.  From one such core, I calculate that you could both heat and power a city of 35-40000 people plus a good part of the surrounding countryside and replace most of their motor fuel via PHEVs.

    The amount of fuel required would be minuscule as well.  Figuring a Fermi-equivalent unit swapping out 1/3 of the fuel and 1/5 of the radial blanket every 6 months, you’d be changing 1.2 tons of heavy metal in the core rods (630 kg of active core plus ~580 kg HM in the axial breeding blanket) and just over 4 tons of heavy metal in the radial blanket rods twice a year.  All of this would fit in a single shielded shipping cask.  10.4 tons a year to the reprocessor is on the order of 260 grams per capita per year, 98.8% of it coming back in the next shipment.  The 3.15 g/c/y that doesn’t come back accumulates to about 250 grams over an 80-year lifespan.  That would fit in a single soft-drink can, and the vast bulk of it would have decayed to stability over that 80 years.

    (This comment took me down a few twists and turns while I improved my understanding of the subject.  Life is a learning experience.)

  49. 349
    Al Bundy says:

    Good news! The University of Michigan is giving me a team of four students for a semester for their senior design project to add engineering to the Caldwell cycle engine.

    Wadda ya know. I ain’t a crank after all.

    On the downside, I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas. Hurry up and get here January 8th!

    Here’s a cool recycling/energy producing waste scheme where nothing gets landfilled. (Those commie Scandinavians are making us look bad.)

    https://www.bbc.com/news/av/business-47880558/would-you-sort-your-rubbish-into-seven-different-bags

  50. 350

    BPL wrote @335:

    Your demonstration was completely irrelevant. You aggregated a huge number of very large power plants and then demanded that one pumped hydro installation cover the whole thing

    That was a thought experiment, demonstrating the massive scale required of any attempt to solve the problem with PHS.

    A lot of little installations can do just as well

    Smaller installations would have more length and volume of berm per unit of water stored, requiring even more land.

    I have not seen you do one bit of arithmetic thus far.  Nor have I seen any hint that you even understand arithmetic.  Here’s something else you will dismiss; your own source notes this massive limitation for S. Australia:

    A case study is conducted for South Australia, where 168 dry-gully sites and 22 turkey’s nest sites have been identified with a total water storage capacity of 441 gigalitres, equivalent to 276  gigawatt-hours of energy storage.

    Generation from PV will be at its minimum in winter.  Winter peak demand in SA was 2565 MW in 2019.  Bulding out ALL of those sites would serve just 107.6 hours of the winter peak.  That’s not even 4.5 days; the winter sun deficit lasts MONTHS.  And that demand peak is before you try to electrify space heat, transport and industry.

    If you’d paid attention you would have seen this problem already.  From your own link:

    These short-term off-river pumped-hydro energy storage (STORES) sites

    SHORT term.  Good for overnight.  Completely inadequate to buffering seasonal feasts and famines in weather-dependent energy.  (Ironically, they’d be perfect complements to nuclear energy; the Cook nuclear plant is why the Ludington pumped storage unit was built.)

    The SA government acknowledges problems:

    System strength needs to be more actively managed, and there is increased need for fast-start and rapid-response technologies to accommodate changes in renewable energy output and improve power system security. The shape of operational demand is becoming increasingly peaky, and both demand and supply are exposed to the vagaries of weather, changing the nature and profile of supply scarcity risks.

    One of the responses is a brand-new fossil-fired reciprocating power plant, good for over 8% of that winter demand peak all by itself.  So much for a “renewable economy”.

    I would try to dig up figures on total SA energy consumption, but I know I’ve already made my point to everyone who can do math.

    and there will rarely be times when all those power plants are out at the same time–especially if they are small plants like solar and wind installations, instead of your giant nuclear plants.

    AYFKM?  There will be lots and lots of time that ALL your solar and wind will be off-line.  An anticyclone becalms the wind farms, then the sun goes down: POOF! all gone.

    There is plenty of time that EVERY operating nuclear plant in the USA is producing at 100%.

    Your constant refrain is “nothing can do it but nuclear. Nothing can do it but nuclear.” Sorry, but I’m not buying it, and neither is anyone else who isn’t a nuke freak like you.

    Every time someone says they can get us off fossil fuels with “renewables”, I find massive holes in their claims.  In constrast, everyone who’s done the math has proven to their satisfaction that nuclear can do the job; nuclear decarbonized France’s grid totally by accident!

    Can you do the math?  Let’s see some proof that you aren’t innumerate.