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Forced Responses: Dec 2019

Filed under: — group @ 6 December 2019

Open thread for climate solution discussion. Climate science discussions should remain on the Unforced Variations thread.

625 Responses to “Forced Responses: Dec 2019”

  1. 1
    zebra says:

    About Warrants and Crazy E-P

    I suggested to Kevin M on the “10 Years On” that everyone should re-read “Just The Facts” once a month and maybe try to apply it when interacting with the usual suspects. (Try it on “how good models have been”, maybe?)

    I’m pasting my comment from the previous FR since my experiment in getting Engineer-Poet to actually articulate his premise (warrant), despite going on way too long, has yet to produce a result:

    It has been pointed out to you by me and others multiple times that you answer my proposals for changing the system by describing the system as it exists. If that isn’t crazy, I don’t know what is:

    “If the priority law and portfolio mandates were removed maybe the NPP could stay in business by bidding negative… if that was allowed. The “common carrier” paradigm cannot fix a market prejudiced in favor of fast-changing generators.”

    For the n^nth time: The common carrier paradigm is that there is no such prejudice! It is exactly that all laws and mandates are removed!

    What exactly do you expect people to conclude about your reasoning ability if you can’t get past this point?

    So yes, the point is to get to where the participants are talking about the same thing, instead of reciting non-sequitur lists of factoids as a form of “debate”.

    How about it, E-P?

  2. 2
    nigelj says:

    Engineer Poet posted this on last months FR:

    “When generating companies add renewables, they MUST be prepared to add storage…..But how MUCH storage? Suppose your USD1500/kW wind turbine is operating at a 40% capacity factor ($3750/kW avg). Now you add a requirement for 8 hours of storage to guarantee firm power delivery. If you bid for a firm 400 W from your rated 1 kW and do this with Li-ion batteries at $350/kWh, you need 3.2 kWh of energy in reserve costing $2800 per guaranteed kW. Voila, your “cheap” wind plant cost is now up to $6550 per average kW.”

    Now this is useful analysis, and makes sense, but the battery costs look slightly out of date.

    https://about.bnef.com/blog/behind-scenes-take-lithium-ion-battery-prices/

    https://energypost.eu/cheap-can-energy-storage-get-pretty-darn-cheap/

    Battery storage for electriicty grid applications was actually $176 / kwhr for 2018, so with batteries at $ 176 / kwhr the total wind plant cost with storage would be about $5170 kwhr right now. This is not too bad and is cheaper or at least competitive with nuclear power costs, for on shore wind anyway.

    Now the article on battery storage suggests battery costs will fall to to just $62 kwhr by 2030 so that means wind plant power with storage would be way below $6550. Not looking too bad at all. Sorry I’m not engineer so I’m not in a position to do all the analysis and calcs confidently and quickly, but clearly wind power with storage isn’t looking too bad, for 12 hours storage anyway. An 80% renewables grid needs 12 hours storage as per the other article I posted.

    Now a 100% renewables grid needs 3 weeks storage, and so obviously this makes wind power with battery storage expensive for the forseeable future and vast quantities of battery manufacturing plant that might be unrealistic. But we could have a grid that is partly renewables (with storage) and partly nuclear power.

    Given both power sources have their downsides, renewables requiring storage, and nuclear power being painfully slow to build and not exactly cheap, a combined grid seems the most plausible thing likely to develop and not a bad outcome.

  3. 3
    Al Bundy says:

    nigelj: Now a 100% renewables grid needs 3 weeks storage,

    AB: Nope. The caveats the authors used to come to that conclusion were dorky. NO transfer of power, NO demand adjustment, NO nothing except do it the least rational way possible.

    They were using an impossible scenario as a way to enlighten, NOT as cheerleaders for said dorky scenario. (or so I believe)

  4. 4
    Al Bundy says:

    Hi guys and gals,

    I’m trying (again) to turn over a new leaf, to be the sort of person I would have been if only…

    And this holiday season I invite everyone to try harder to follow the teachings of whatever wise one you cherish. There’s no such thing as “(insert religious faith here) charity and compassion”. Pretty much ALL of humanity’s social constructs express the exact same direction: “Do unto others”.

    I’ve noticed that sniping at denialists numbs us to our own acting in defiance of ALL of humanity’s social constructs. As a result, we snipe at our friends and allies when even the slightest gap exists between our conclusions. I blame testosterone poisoning.

    So, Happy Holidays to all. We can do better.

  5. 5

    Al Bundy lied @533 in the previous thread:

    Didn’t go back to find your comment

    I told you to either link the source or retract your claim.  You are not honest enough to even try.

    the quote is innocuous, don’t you agree?

    It is not a quote, it is your fabrication.  The only place those words appear on Real Climate is in the previous UR thread, in YOUR comment and followups.  You fabricated a “quote” from me, but when I did the same back to you, you squealed like a stuck pig.  You can dish it out, but you can’t take it.

    Now admit your fabrication and apologize to me.

    Massively expensive? A poor country like China can afford it

    On the contrary, China is using the cheapest transmission it can devote to the task.  The Wikipedia page on UHV transmission in China notes the distance between the generation sources (western hydro and NWern coal) and eastern load centers.  Where HVDC is used, it is the cheapest option available.  China is not using HVDC because China is rich, China is using it because it costs the least.

    One example is HVDC from the Three Gorges dam to Guandong.  That’s 3 GW over 940 km (~580 miles).  If the distance was even 200 miles, there would be no sense in using HVDC; both the costs and losses would be higher than using AC.

    In a country using nuclear power to generate electricity and heat wherever required, the typical distance between source and load will be less than 100 miles, if not less than 10.  HVDC makes NO sense in that situation.

    Since China is building UHVDC we’ve got the answer, no?

    China has ONE 4-node HVDC network to date.  This is not a full HVDC grid, or anything close.  Neither is it reliant on the wind and PV “renewables” that we are told are “the future”.  Experience with their inherent unreliability proves that they are, if not the past (to be discarded), supplements only.

    You seem to be operating with an incorrect axiom. I have no significant problem with nukes other than the “Israel problem”.

    What does one tiny country on the Mediterranian sea have to do with world-changing problems?!  HTF, man, if those people are THAT much of a problem then just cover the whole area in Trinitite.  If we can’t decarbonize and save the rest of the planet any other way, it’s just Something We Gotta Do (not saying that the premise is true).

    Note that I HAVE given you a way to make the entire Middle East irrelevant energy-wise.

    On your cogeneration-lite system: Why bother?

    I told you.  Insurance, that pays for itself in savings.  Minimal cost with benefit that pays for it, capisce?

    To bolster your point, the cost headaches the previous generation is having (AP1000, IIRC) simply don’t apply to the modular systems you’re championing. Like France’s nukes, they’re “design once, build everywhere”.

    The AP1000 was “design once, build anywhere”… until the enemies of nuclear energy said “prove your design is safe where you want to build it HERE.  And AGAIN where you want to build it HERE.  Oh, and AGAIN…” ad infinitum.  Not to mention imposing the brand-new aircraft impact rule on contracts already signed, just because ground was not yet broken.  Yes, I would PERSONALLY live next to such a unit.  I live barely 30 miles from where one used to be.  I’d like to see another nuke (AP1000 or other) on that site; it would create a bunch of great jobs and a heap of reliable clean electric power for my region.  It’s all good.

    You ask how I would suggest handling heat? Already answered: 1. passive solar. 2. active solar. 3. 60/40 (electric/heat) cogeneration using liquid bio/synfuel. 4. super-insulation. 5. nukes with district heat. Heating buildings is truly a minor issue other than legacy systems.

    Do you have ANY idea just how much energy and capital is tied up in the existing building stock?  How much capital you’d DESTROY by e.g. cutting down mature trees to allow light to let “passive solar” into existing buildings?  The “legacy systems” are MASSIVE and you cannot wait to address them.  Neither can you destroy quality of life by slashing every tree that blocks the sun in winter… which also holds off the sun in summer.

    That is why I put your #5 priority (nukes with district heat) FIRST.  It requires NO other changes to existing structures.  It is carbon-free 24/7/365 with no further effort.  People who want to live away from built-up areas can build their passive-solar houses.  Those who are building anew have the luxury of tailoring their construction to the needs of the world as we understand them.  The people who go to live in houses 50 or 100 years old do not, and we do not have either the capital or the will to destroy our history to replace them in the next couple of decades.  Nor should we wish to.

    Build sane vehicles that cut rolling and air resistance at least in half while at least doubling engine efficiency. That’s a quadrupling of MPG to around 220MPG

    Do you realize that the average US LDV on the road has EPA fuel economy of just 22.3 MPG?

    At least TRY to connect with reality.  I realize that the average US LDV travels fully half its lifetime mileage in its first 6 years.  I suspect that this would be stretched out for PHEVs… and I would rely on that.  That’s why I promote incentive programs that would make most US LDVs into PHEVs.  Given lots of 24/7 carbon-free electric power, PHEVs are just the ticket to slashing CO2 emissions from the transport sector.  We could do this a lot faster than trying to turn everything into a BEV or FCEV.  Batteries are expensive, hydrogen is dangerous; electricity is cheap and safe.

    offshore wind gives you 60%

    In the UK, the BEST performing offshore wind farm has a capacity factor under 50%.  The average UK wind capacity factor was just 30% last year.

    STOP LYING.

  6. 6

    Kevin Donald McKinney wrote @541 in the previous thread:

    As to *storage* costs, I think they are virtually certain to come down, because storage batteries are a modular, mass-produced item, susceptible to commodification. Where is an example of such that has failed to become cheaper with increasing scale?

    Where has an example of such fallen to less than the cost of its raw materials?  Nowhere.

    We have storage “solutions” fit for minutes and hours, but what we NEED for a “renewable economy” is storage solutions fit for weeks and months.  Not only do we not have them, there’s no possible way to make them at the cost (and environmental impact) of anything we have available… and trying to run everything on “renewables” will only increase that cost.

    The only solution is to think outside the “renewable” box.  Environmental Progress has done it, can you?

    there is simply no way that nuclear power can act as a silver bullet for the immediate emissions crisis.

    There is no “immediate” emissions crisis.  We have a crisis that goes from now to 2050 and beyond.  We have more than enough time to e.g. build a Fermi 1 equivalent every day 250 days a year from 2020 until the job is done.  430 MW(t)/d * 250 d/yr = 107.5 GW(t)/yr.  107.5 GW(t)/yr * 30 y = 3.225 TW(th), roughly the entire primary energy consumption of the United States.  We can do this with a reactor design that is now over 50 years old.  There is NO excuse for delay.

    My BOTE calculations suggest that the “Fermi 1 a day” program would satisfy all US energy demand, and then some.  There appears to be a potential of OTOO 250 GW of surplus electric power on average.  If we can capture atmospheric CO2 at an energy cost of 2.5 GJ/ton, we could capture 100 tons/second or 3.16 billion tpy.  If the rest of the world did the same, and world energy consumption rose to 5x US consumption, that would come to 15.8 billion tpy.  Thats’s nearly half of current world CO2 emissions, and would come after nearly-full world energy decarbonization.  This would head us down to 350 ppm pretty quickly.

  7. 7

    Paul Pukite wrote @542 in the previous thread:

    According to Prof. Baez’s crackpot index

    I gave one of my concepts to the world, royalty-free, because I think the value is worth more than any profit I could possibly make:

    http://bravenewclimate.proboards.com/post/6113/thread

    Now STFU until you are ready to talk physics, chemistry, and all that science crap.  As I wrote @544 in the previous thread, we need a 120% solution that covers EVERYTHING.

  8. 8

    Pumped hydro seems to me to be the main solution for long-term storage. A recent study identified 530,000 sites worldwide where pumped hydro facilities can be built. That plus wide-area smart grids can probably do the job for 100% renewable power. The problem now is to build it all. Investment in energy infrastructure runs into the trillions of dollars per year; there’s no reason we can’t put a lot of that into pumped hydro and WASG, but it requires the political will to make the decision.

  9. 9
    Johnno says:

    Assuming future batteries will be a fraction of their present cost is counting chickens that may not hatch. The much lauded battery component of the windfarm in Hornsdale South Australia cost A$90m for 129 Mwh which is pretty close to A$700 per kwh capital cost. In Australia the Powerwall 2 home battery is at least $10k installed for 13.5 kwh. Unit cost $740. Somehow this will reduce to under $200 because one day we’ll have flying cars and that’s the way things go. Why not assume massive cost reductions for nuclear?

    Suppose batteries did get to $200 per kwh. Times a billion is $200 bn per Twh. For an all wind and solar system we will need many Twh of energy storage. Aside from shortage of materials we’d have to cancel military budgets to find that kind of money.

  10. 10
    zebra says:

    #9 Johnno,

    “why not assume”

    I have been trying to point out the obvious: It doesn’t matter what anyone “assumes” because nobody here is the God-Emperor Of The Electricity Sector, and nobody here is even the least significant member of the non-existent engineering-design team advising the GEOTES.

    For the USA, what makes sense is to set up a system where the decision about what is the best generating modality is made locally under a true free market system.

    A true free market system is where there is

    1. Competition, not monopoly.
    2. Internalization of costs.

    So, maybe battery costs will come down, and maybe nuclear costs will come down, and maybe there is pumped storage, and maybe there is load management, blah blah blah. We have heard all these things a million times, and there is nothing wrong with any of them when seen in the aggregate.

    What’s absurd is proposing grandiose, one-size-fits-all fantasies that will never happen, because there is no GEOTES, at least not in the USA. (Don’t think so in Australia either.)

    How about accepting that and looking at realistic policy changes that would help to reduce CO2 emissions…not magical Nirvana, just progress.

  11. 11

    #6, EP–

    Sigh.

    Where has an example of such fallen to less than the cost of its raw materials? Nowhere.

    Not needed, not claimed. Total strawman. See, for example, nigel’s #2.

    …what we NEED for a “renewable economy” is storage solutions fit for weeks and months.

    Incorrect, per numerous previous cites. See, for example, AB’s #3. And also rather a strawman, per my previous comments, in that I’ve been very clear that I regard a 100% renewable grid as unlikely. We’ll have some level of nuclear power for the foreseeable future. It just won’t be the mainstay E-P dreams of.

    There is no “immediate” emissions crisis. We have a crisis that goes from now to 2050 and beyond.

    Uh, nothing gets too much more immediate than “now.”

    We have more than enough time to e.g. build a Fermi 1 equivalent every day 250 days a year from 2020 until the job is done.

    Given the realities of planning and production, under optimistic assumptions, starting ‘now’ means that the sentence should read:

    We have more than enough time to e.g. build a Fermi 1 equivalent every day 250 days a year from 2030 until the job is done.

    And getting the power online beginning in 2030 is too damn late, thanks to decades of procrastination. It simply makes no sense to make nuclear power your mainstay in the current situation. A reactor takes, including planning, something on the order of ten years–even in South Korea, where they’ve done better than anyone in getting them built on time, frequently clocking six years or less pure construction time. A typical wind or solar farm is producing in maybe 4. (Pure construction times are usually under 2 years.) And Tesla famously put up the Hornsby battery storage plant in less than 6 months, proposal to interconnect.

    It’s unclear to me who the “we” is, in the sentence describing the “Fermi 1” project–the globe or the US? But either way, I would ask, where is the capacity to initiate such a build program?

    Where are the tradesmen with the requisite skills? (I note, for example, that the second the Summer expansion here in SC was clearly dead, there were television ads trolling for those tradesmen to work on the Vogtle expansion–despite the evident reality that every one of them already knew perfectly well that there were jobs on offer two or three hours down the road in Waynesboro. The suggestion is clearly that Vogtle are a little tight on skilled labor. So what happens when you ramp up demand for that labor by a factor of a hundred or so?)

    Where is the financial capacity, considering that South Carolina couldn’t manage a 2 reactor build, and it’s a middle-of-the-pack state by population and economy? Now we’re going to be building 5 new reactors per state per year? (Assuming that “we” means “the US”.)

    And lastly, where is the political will? Many people are deeply uncomfortable with nuclear power. We may wish that that weren’t true, but the reality remains. Nothing is as predictable in political life as that such a dramatic expansion of nuclear power would produce incredibly intense opposition (and particularly so with the price tag that would be entailed.)

    Since we are in (I would reiterate) an “immediate emissions crisis”, failure would be catastrophic. And the way I see it, it would also be pretty much guaranteed. This “Fermi a day” proposal would thus be suicidal in effect.

    Johnno, #9, says:

    Assuming future batteries will be a fraction of their present cost is counting chickens that may not hatch.

    With respect, no. The decline is storage costs is not only already presently observable, it qualifies as dramatic. For instance:

    https://about.bnef.com/blog/battery-pack-prices-fall-as-market-ramps-up-with-market-average-at-156-kwh-in-2019/

    Battery prices, which were above $1,100 per kilowatt-hour in 2010, have fallen 87% in real terms to $156/kWh in 2019. By 2023, average prices will be close to $100/kWh, according to the latest forecast from research company BloombergNEF (BNEF).

    Johnno asks, further:

    Why not assume massive cost reductions for nuclear?

    The answer? Because with 60 years of experience in reactor construction in the books now, nuclear’s so-called “learning curve”–the change in build cost over time–has been modest at best and negative at worst. That may change with more modularized designs, and smaller reactors such as the SMRs, but so far it hasn’t. (Note that the AP 1000s currently under construction at Vogtle are more modular, and were supposed to be much cheaper. They haven’t turned out to be so, unfortunately.)

    Betting the farm on 60 years of failure in this regard doesn’t strike me as a good idea.

  12. 12
    Al Bundy says:

    E-P: Now admit your fabrication and apologize to me.

    AB: Nope. IF I copied your words with a single letter off, who cares? I quoted you accurately enough and with the intent to copy you accurately. That’s KEY. I made a teensy tiny mistake by not being as clear as I could have been with regard to the end of the quote, and maybe, though I do NOT concede it, made a typo when copying your words into a tiny phone. In contrast, you deliberately lied. if you can’t see the difference, then I suspect you’re alone in your inability.

    e-P: China is not using HVDC because China is rich, China is using it because it costs the least.

    AB: So you agree with me 100% that even a poor country can afford the least expensive way to transmit energy very long distances. Why phrase is like an argument?

    E-P: What does one tiny country on the Mediterranian sea have to do with world-changing problems?! HTF, man, if those people are THAT much of a problem then just cover the whole area in Trinitite. If we can’t decarbonize and save the rest of the planet any other way, it’s just Something We Gotta Do (not saying that the premise is true).

    AB: Dude, you’ve already appalled everyone with your “Just kill them all and everything will be OK” attitude and you bring it back with an explicit reference to eradicating the stereotypical victims of said attitude?? “But I’m not saying what I’m saying” doesn’t pass the sniff test.

    E-P:I told you. Insurance, that pays for itself in savings. Minimal cost with benefit that pays for it, capisce?

    AB: Nope. Why install a VERY noisy and inefficient new system when for about the same money and effort one could install a very quiet and efficient system? Apples to apples, eh?

    E-P: The AP1000 was “design once, build anywhere”… until the enemies of nuclear energy said “prove your design is safe where you want to build it HERE.

    AB: Yep. Tis a political/emotional problem. Solve the problem instead of pounding sand while lamenting.

    E-P: Do you have ANY idea just how much energy and capital is tied up in the existing building stock? How much capital you’d DESTROY by e.g. cutting down mature trees to allow light to let “passive solar” into existing buildings?

    AB: Dude, I listed 5 items, including nuclear-supplied district heating. So if you guessed anything more than “negligible”, you ain’t reading for comprehension, but for excuses to denigrate. And then you go on to AGREE with me but quibble about the order in which I listed options. I ask you: “given a house on the prairie that is ten miles from town, isn’t your plan to use nuclear district heat for EVERYONE dorky?” Oh, you weren’t thinking nuclear district heat for everyone? Shoving someone’s thoughts into the dumbest possible interpretation is not productive…

    E-P: Do you realize that the average US LDV on the road has EPA fuel economy of just 22.3 MPG? At least TRY to connect with reality.

    AB: The average nuclear power plant is NOT an AP1000. Thus, your arguments are wrong because they don’t use the average plant as a baseline. DUH I used the current best practice, as expressed by the Hyundai Ionic and Toyota Prius for my comparison to the future.

    E-P: In the UK, the BEST performing offshore wind farm has a capacity factor under 50%. The average UK wind capacity factor was just 30% last year.

    STOP LYING.

    AB: Again, I was speaking about current best practices. The next-generation offshore turbines reach 60%. Who the ef cares about obsolete stuff? Only those who would hold up Chernobyl as the best possible nuclear power plant.

  13. 13
    David B. Benson says:

    Barton Paul Levenson @8 — The problem with long term storage is that capital and also O&M have to be regularly paid. To see the effect, consider what happened to ERCOT Texas wholesale prices for several weeks last summer.

    The existing pumped hydro schemes in the USA were built in the 1960s and 1970s so that nuclear power plants could run flat out all the time. The pumped hydro station would buy low at night and sell high during the day. This no longer works in California where the one remaining pumped hydro scheme can’t earn enough for proper maintenance. It will surely cease operating as soon as a major replacement is required.

    I know of 4 excellent pumped hydro scheme sites here in the Pacific Northwest; 3 are trying to find investors. No takers.

  14. 14
    Mal Adapted says:

    zebra:

    For the USA, what makes sense is to set up a system where the decision about what is the best generating modality is made locally under a true free market system.

    A true free market system is where there is

    1. Competition, not monopoly.
    2. Internalization of costs.

    So, maybe battery costs will come down, and maybe nuclear costs will come down, and maybe there is pumped storage, and maybe there is load management, blah blah blah. We have heard all these things a million times, and there is nothing wrong with any of them when seen in the aggregate.

    What’s absurd is proposing grandiose, one-size-fits-all fantasies that will never happen…

    Well said, z.

    As we all know, the rate of GMST rise is determined by the aggregate rate of GHG emissions from all sources, minus the combined rate of withdrawal to all sinks. Therefore, every decrement in emissions or increment in withdrawal, for any reason, proportionally extends the time we have to bring the rate of warming to zero. Remember: anthropogenic global warming is a “tragedy of the commons“. Our collective goal should not be to reward or punish anyone for the rise in atmospheric CO2, or fetishize any particular tool for slowing it, but to halt the warming short of global economic collapse and mass population die off. Uhm, duh?

    Many RC commenters recognize the value of direct intervention in ‘free’ markets, as with a revenue-neutral carbon tax, to internalize some fraction of the marginal social cost of carbon in prices for fossil fuels, cement, meat, palm oil, etc.; but also that some consumer demands are more price-elastic than others. I, for one, am not ruling out other ‘market-based’ measures such as subsidies for carbon-neutral alternatives, or outright command and control, in addition. Nor am I constraining “collective” to “government”: Garrett Hardin later wished he’d titled his seminal 1968 Science article “The Tragedy of the Unmanaged Commons”, and Elinor Ostrom won the 2009 Economics Nobel for her work on collective self-management by common-pool resource users, over “polycentric” political scopes*. IOW: capping AGW won’t happen in one fell swoop, and will finally depend on all of the above.

    * Ironically, Hardin may have been wrong about his ultimate tragedy, unlimited growth of the global human population. That began meliorating shortly before he published, apparently due more to private reproductive choices than collective ones (heading off Russell and other doughty cold warriors). Tragedy of the commons entered the jargon of Economics nevertheless. More recently, authors including Ostrom have proposed replacing “tragedy” with “drama”, “because the commons entails history, comedy, and tragedy.” And because, although the drama of the climate commons has already been undeniably tragic (“a single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is way more of one” -MA), we’re not actually at the mercy of whimsical gods. We get to write the ending!

  15. 15
    Al Bundy says:

    E-P,
    Demanding that someone apologize for an innocent error while refusing to apologize for a flagrant LIE is not something that endears one to the crowd.

    Apologize to me NOW.

  16. 16
    nigelj says:

    Barton Paul Levenson @8 I agree, except some countries don’t suit pumped hydro very well due to their physical geography and rainfall patterns. Still there are other options like pressurised water and molten salt storage etc. To me the whole issue becomes regional and so its hard to generalise about ideal and singular global solutions. Nuclear power will slot in where it makes sense.

  17. 17

    E-P 5: The AP1000 was “design once, build anywhere”… until the enemies of nuclear energy said “prove your design is safe where you want to build it HERE. And AGAIN where you want to build it HERE. Oh, and AGAIN…” ad infinitum.

    BPL: Probably because SITE MATTERS, as the Japanese found out.

  18. 18

    J 9: Why not assume massive cost reductions for nuclear?

    BPL: Because the historical experience with nuclear has always been that the costs go up and up and up.

  19. 19
    nigelj says:

    Al Bundy @3, I agree to the extent that the report claiming the 100% renewables grid needs three weeks storage is dorky and pessimistic, and their probable motivations for saying it all. Perceptive of you.

    But a 100% renewables grid would still need A LOT of storage. You seem to be ignoring this rather fundamental point.

    For example smart wide area grids tapping into areas with surplus wind power to feed areas with little wind power on the day, only work in larger countries with varying weather across the country, and even they will still need plenty of storage unless you intend to build a huge surplus of wind towers everywhere, which costs money and is a bit daft. Smaller countries face bigger wind intermittency issues because the whole country could have light winds, so they would need a lot of storage, there is no other option.

    Some of this storage might ultimately be in peoples homes or cars, but its still storage. Demand management can help but only reduces the problem a certain ammount and is idealistic so hard to implement. Some countries suit pumped hydro, but some don’t because of the geography and rainfall patterns so battery storage is the most likely option.

    Ultimately if we are serious about retiring masses of coal and gas fired plant over the next 30 years, the demand for lithium batteries and other storage options will be huge beyond words, and will inevitably hit barriers will it not? So I can see nuclear power helping in some cases. It uses different materials and skills.

    On the other hand scaling up nuclear power as a stand alone solution in just 30 years to meet Paris accord goals would be challenging and would hit supply bottlenecks of its own, inevitably. So we are probably stuck with a hybrid power system, whether we like it or not.

    Of course this is just my pontificating aloud playing the Energy God. In a free market economy with some sort of energy market, the government just sets a few basic rules, and its essentially up to the generators to decide what to do. (Zebra is right one of those rules should be to prevent monopolies).

    I’m just interested in what is going to be the most likely outcome, and whether we are currently going in a viable direction by building wind and solar power. It looks ok to me, but storage will be challenging, and so options like nuclear power and geothermal power will be useful additions to the grid.

  20. 20
    Al Bundy says:

    Everyone,

    Note how ineffective “being right” is. I shredded E-P with regard to morals, ethics, and sociological interaction but I’m certain that my “victory” only hardened his defense of his error.

    Ain’t being human a hoot?

  21. 21
    nigelj says:

    Al Bundy @3 and yes in theory the whole world could become one giant interconnected smart grid but politics will get in the way.

  22. 22
    nigelj says:

    Regarding the tortured and sniping discussion between Engineer Poet and Al Bundy on passive solar buildings and things. Converting existing traditional homes to passive solar homes would be feasible in most cases. Most homes get enough sunlight to form the basis of passive solar heating in winter. At most you might need to add a larger window or two, but probably not.

    You then need to strip away carpet and tile some of the floors to add thermal mass to store heat, and pump insulation into the walls, and double glaze the windows to reduce heat loss or add heavy curtains. You may need a device to stop heat gain in summer like external awnings and louvres, or thermal curtains. But the end result is reduced electricity bills.

    The issue is this all can be clearly seen to cost significant money that people don’t have, because wonderful capitalism works on the principle of having as little money in the bank as possible, and as bigger mortgages as possible, so it would need something like government tax breaks or government subsidised loans. It then becomes frustratingly political but its certainly a good idea in theory.

    Building materials like ceramic tiles, fibreglass batts, aluminium and glass are going to have less availability issues than lithium, cobalt and uranium. Wool insulation is a very sustainable option, although it is more suited to new homes:

    https://www.ecoinsulation.co.nz/ecofleece/

  23. 23
    Ignorant Guy says:

    This is a side-track but bear with me.
    Becuase Johnno says at #9 about the cost of batteries as energy buffer storage for the grid:

    “we’d have to cancel military budgets to find that kind of money”.

    Oh, yes! Oh, yes! Oh, yes! That is not a bug. That’s a feature.

    Then someone else said he figured the numbers wrong, but it is still a good idea.

  24. 24

    BPL wrote @8:

    Pumped hydro seems to me to be the main solution for long-term storage.

    Try doing the math on this.  First, we need ENERGY storage, not just electricity storage.  World energy consumption is running about 570 quads/yr, and the trend is upward.  If you had to have a buffer which peaked at just 20% of this, you’d have to store 1.2e20 J.  Holding that much energy as water lifted by 200 meters from its source takes 6.13e16 kg of water, more than 61000 cubic KILOMETERS.  The volume of Lake Erie is only 484 cubic kilometers; you are talking over 125 times as much water.

    Worse, if you use seawater as your lower reservoir, you have to contend with seepage destroying the aquifers below your upper reservoirs and killing off most everything that grows for some distance around them.

    Pumped hydro is energy-diffuse because gravity is the weakest of the fundamental forces.  Electromagnetism is the second-strongest, and electromagnetism drives the energy changes of chemistry.  Storing 114 quads of energy as methanol takes just 6.7 cubic kilometers.

    A recent study identified 530,000 sites worldwide where pumped hydro facilities can be built.

    Creating 570 quads/year of primary energy would take the fission of roughly 6000 tons of actinides.  The strong nuclear force is by far the densest source of energy we have.

    there’s no reason we can’t put a lot of that into pumped hydro and WASG

    Except that it’s horribly expensive, environmentally damaging and really a waste of effort.  We need large year-round energy surpluses for the next several decades to power carbon-sequestration systems, whether they are polyanthraquinone CO2-suckers or rock crushers for enhanced weathering.  If you always have a surplus you don’t need storage, period.

  25. 25

    zebra wrote @10:

    It doesn’t matter what anyone “assumes” because nobody here is the God-Emperor Of The Electricity Sector

    Energy covers a lot more than just electricity; over 60% of US energy consumption is outside the electric sector.  Remember, we need to decarbonize ALL of it and also provide a surplus to devote to pulling our past emissions out of the atmosphere and oceans.

    nobody here is even the least significant member of the non-existent engineering-design team advising the GEOTES.

    Have you noticed anything about the energy systems in the USA, and the world at large?  Where one source is cheaper than the rest in a given area, it tends to be adopted almost universally.  I live where natural gas service came through not terribly long ago (less than 15 years).  This area used to be full of house-scale propane “pig” tanks; now I can’t recall any along my usual travel routes.  Only the people beyond the ever-expanding natural gas distribution network still heat with propane.  Yes, this establishes a monopoly.  It’s the natural outcome.

    A true free market system is where there is

    1. Competition, not monopoly.
    2. Internalization of costs.

    Can/will you internalize the cost of unreliability?

    Well over 60% of energy is used outside the electric sector.  You need space heat/DHW, industrial process heat and energy used in transport.  Suppose someone puts in a nuclear electric/heat plant which promises space heat and hot water at half the price of natural gas, and far less than the firmed-up price of “renewables”.  It would take 100% of the market in its coverage area.  Then where’s the “competition”?  If you demand “competition” by subsidizing the fossil fuels and paying the networks to stay in operation, you’re hurting the planet.  Because electric and gas (and district heating) services are natural monopolies, the only sane way to handle them is through public oversight.  Even duopolies get abusive if unregulated.  Put down the Ayn Rand and deal with it.

  26. 26
    Mr. Know It All says:

    Since this IS the mitigation thread:

    Isreali scientists create bacteria to eat CO2:

    https://www.timesofisrael.com/in-possible-climate-breakthrough-israel-scientists-engineer-bacteria-to-eat-co%E2%82%82/

  27. 27
    Killian says:

    Everything good about healthy lives is an aspect of #regenerativesimplicity. Here’s another.

    https://www.facebook.com/KillianKOB/posts/10220751821608667

  28. 28
    Killian says:

    So, if nobody has to pay for anything, does that not solve the vast majority of what you blinkered dorks are talking about for months on end…?

    Why, yes, yes it does.

    Hmmm… To be clear, if there’s no $, there’s no cost, only can/can’t.

    Get it?

  29. 29
    David B. Benson says:

    Barton Paul Levenson @18 — Nuclear power plant prices don’t go up for the VVER units from Rosatom nor the Kepco units. I don’t know how to obtain price data from China but they keep building as well.

    The next generation of nuclear power plants is designed to compete with natural gas, except of course in Texas. We shall see but in the nonce there are certainly parts of the world where the power planners want existing designs.

  30. 30
    nigelj says:

    Addendum. The description of a passive solar conversion of an existing house I gave @23 is a simplified description of the main features and a compromise compared to a new passive solar home, especially as it lacks a trombe wall. It also assumes a concrete slab foundation with ideally some insulation under the slab. But its surprising what energy efficiency you can get with even partial modifications. And of course things can be added like solar panels, solar hot water heating, ducted air systems, etc.

  31. 31
    nigelj says:

    Addendum two and hopefully final. Regarding the description of a passive solar conversion of an existing house I gave @23, our houses typically already have a lot of glass and good sunlight exposure. In plenty of cases converting an existing home to passive solar will need several new windows, or skylights.

  32. 32
    Al Bundy says:

    E-P: I gave one of my concepts to the world, royalty-free,

    AB: According to current law, concepts are worth exactly zero. So what is it you “gave”?

  33. 33
    Al Bundy says:

    nigelj,
    Yep. And seriously, if humans were logical, where would we find fun?

  34. 34
    Mr. Know It All says:

    22 – nigel
    “…. Converting existing traditional homes to passive solar homes would be feasible in most cases. Most homes get enough sunlight to form the basis of passive solar heating in winter. At most you might need to add a larger window or two, but probably not…..”

    Converting existing homes to passive would be cost prohibitive. Most of them are old, with little insulation. For passive to work you must have HIGH mass (think concrete slab floors) inside of massive insulation, with significant southern glass (in the Northern Hemisphere). The floor and foundation must be insulated to prevent heat loss into the ground – that alone is a deal breaker for most US homes. Most homes were built with no consideration for which side should face the winter sun. You can do as you suggest and make improvements, but it will not even come close to covering the heating needs in most US homes. Also, you can install active solar thermal panels with circulating pumps and/or fans to transfer solar heat from yard and/or roof panels into the home, but it will still be short of the needed BTUs. Maybe in 150 years it will be warm enough, but not now.

    Pumped hydro storage? You might add it to existing dams, but building enough new dams in the USA to make a big difference ain’t gonna happen. Here, politicians get elected because they promise to REMOVE existing dams!

  35. 35
    David B. Benson says:

    Al Bundy @30 — Ideas are patentable.

  36. 36
    Adam Lea says:

    Renewables and the storage issue has come up again. It appears to me there is a base assumption that countries that want to transition to predominantly or completely renewable energy have to be self sufficient.

    Why does it have to be this way? Why not put the solar farms in the countries with high sunshine totals (e.g. the arid regions), the wind farms in the countries with windy climates (e.g. NW Europe), put the hydro in the countries with suitable orography (e.g. the countries with big hills/mountains), and why not include geothermal energy from those countries positioned on fault lines (e.g. Iceland)? Any country that has a surplus of renewable energy can sell excess to any country that cannot meet their demand. You can have storage on top of this. I think cooperation and working together is the way forward.

    Admittedly this is a very simplistic outlook. Populations will likely object to the industrialisation and exploitation of their landscapes of outstanding natural beauty (they do now).

  37. 37
    Al Bundy says:

    nigelj: But a 100% renewables grid would still need A LOT of storage. You seem to be ignoring this rather fundamental point.

    AB: Actually, I have said exactly zero about a 100% renewables grid, so your point falls short. I’ve talked about securing baseload via nuclear or whatever (such as synfuel) and going from there with renewables.

    And yep, politics will get in the way regardless of the selected solution. Many folks are pointing fingers at each other for opposing nuclear or opposing renewables. Arguing our way into the depths of mass extinction is what humans do.

    Ignorant Guy: “we’d have to cancel military budgets to find that kind of money”.

    Oh, yes! Oh, yes! Oh, yes! That is not a bug. That’s a feature.

    AB: Your handle is a lie. You ain’t even slightly ignorant. My take is that the military is a wasted resource. All those dedicated and capable folks strutting around while learning how to slaughter!! Change the mission. Our military should be deployed in fighting the REAL danger: climate change.

  38. 38
    Al Bundy says:

    Well, yeah, I did say something about a 100% renewables grid. I said that it is possible but you’d have to deal with living a renewables life, which entails lifestyle modifications based on the weather. I’ve lived off the grid so I am intimately acquainted with living in tune with the weather. Trying to store enough electrons to live with total disregard to the physical world is a fool’s game.

  39. 39
    zebra says:

    #32 KIA,

    I think I’ve mentioned this previously but you are making some errors on the physics of houses.

    For areas that get cold in the winter, you are probably correct that (even in new construction), the typical “passive solar” approach is too complicated and expensive for the net gain.

    But here’s what you can do:

    1. Passive geothermal slab– perimeter flat insulation and the slab is not insulated from the ground. So the floor is thermally tied to the earth 6 feet down or so, depending on how much insulation you use. At my latitude, that means infinite 45-50 degree F heat source no matter how cold it gets outside. The bonus is, it keeps you cool in the summer in a heatwave, because it turns into a sink not a source.

    I don’t know the exact math for a conventional basement; it should be similar. But, anyway, you could easily do the flat perimeter insulation as a retrofit, although I suppose it means digging up decorative plants around the house.

    2. Insulation: Lots of people pay to re-side older houses. Adding blown-in insulation where possible, and an external sheet, does a lot, at a very reasonable cost.

    3. Thermal mass: How about a layer of sheetrock (gypsum board) on the inside of old walls that need patching and painting? That’s a lot of mass, and it makes you feel warmer. For new construction, using thicker, heavier sheetrock is, again, a big gain for not much cost at all.

    Not to get into extensive list-making, the point is that there are lots of options for for reducing energy consumption, and if the construction industry were not so backwards and corrupt, innovation could make a substantial difference.

  40. 40
    zebra says:

    #25 E-P,

    I guess you missed #1 where I pointed out that you keep answering about my proposed changes by describing what exists. Just crazy. And nothing you just said makes any sense.

    First, the electricity sector is not a natural monopoly; only transmission is. Likewise gas supplies…it doesn’t all come from a well owned by the gas company, does it? And if someone wanted to continue using propane, they could, right? How is that a monopoly? Do you even understand what a monopoly is?

    But even crazier is this. I’ve said over and over that

    1. If we set up my common carrier paradigm, where the nuclear plant and other sources compete,

    2. And you are correct that the nuclear plant can provide electricity cheaper,

    3. Then people will buy from the nuclear plant.

    Your response here: No, you’re wrong, zebra!! If the nuclear plant is cheaper, people will buy from the nuclear plant!!

    Please, explain why you aren’t crazy?

  41. 41
    nigelj says:

    Mr. Know It All @32, you argue that converting houses in America to be passive solar homes would be too expensive to be worthwhile. I agree this may be the case with plenty of homes in America, but not all. It depends an awful lot on the specific home and how its built and orientated. And even a partial conversion can achieve useful results at moderate costs.

    And our homes in NZ are reasonably suitable for conversion because many already have concrete slab floors and good areas of glazing, so conversions become cost effective.

    I did actually say “it would be a significant cost” to do a reasonably full conversion, and I did add @28 and @29 that my comments were a simplified guide and a compromise solution and that that you ideally need a concrete slab floor, and plenty of glazing facing the right way.

    Yes the key thing is thermal mass, and a concrete slab is adequate. Building a trombe wall would be impractical in most existing houses. However even tiling a wooden floor or some of the walls that get sunlight exposure would add some thermal mass if you use reasonably thick tiles.

    And it depends on how one defines a passive solar home. Even a partial conversion at modest cost has reasonable benefits, for example adding just wall and ceiling insulation and floor insulation if possible. This can be difficult if you have to remove wall board, but new systems allow polystyrene granules to be injected between studs by drilling a small hole.

    And adding just double glazing has a range of well known benefits, and has become more affordable in recent years.

  42. 42
    nigelj says:

    Al Bundy @33 “Yep. And seriously, if humans were logical, where would we find fun?” Stand up comics would certainly be out of business. Actually this is the problem I have with utopian visions of the world, in that they could turn out to be deadly dull miserable affairs. Better to just identify key problems, and come up with solutions that look to have at least some change of being adopted and working reasonably ok.

  43. 43
    nigelj says:

    Engineer-Poet @25

    “It doesn’t matter what anyone “assumes” because nobody here is the God-Emperor Of The Electricity Sector…..Energy covers a lot more than just electricity; over 60% of US energy consumption is outside the electric sector”

    What you say about the energy sector is true and useful information, but it seems to miss the point Zebra is making about markets. Not sure why you don’t just acknowledge his point because it seems to make sense. Namely America is not and never will be a purely government lead command economy, and will be more market based with a bit of government thrown in the mix, therefore we should push for a well designed competitive electricity market that doesn’t favour renewables over nuclear power (as it presently seems to do) and vice versa? Yes or no?

    “Yes, this (current use of natural gas )establishes a monopoly. It’s the natural outcome.’

    This is true viewing things as an energy source, but the point being made by monopolies is to avoid corporate monopolies, thus ONE COMPANY IN GAS dominating the entire market, and price gouging people. The same would apply to suppliers of nuclear space heating and indeed anything else like wind farms for example. This sort of corporate monopoly in gas would also embed the use of gas.

    Obviously sometimes this is not practically possible, and some monopolies are unavoidable, eg the electricity transmission lines networks, because nobody needs a duplicate network. Then you need monopolies to be well regulated. But as a general rule corporate monopolies are a problem to be avoided, surely? Isn’t that why you guys have anti trust laws?

    “Can/will you internalize the cost of unreliability?”

    Obviously this is desirable.

    “Even duopolies get abusive if unregulated. Put down the Ayn Rand and deal with it.”

    I couldn’t agree more, but I can’t see anyone except possibly KIA that would argue otherwise.

    Ayn Rand grew up in the Soviet Union, and it looks like she reacted by going to the other ideological extreme, which is just as barking mad as communism. Thats my two cents worth anyway. Nobody should take her libertarian leaning books too literally or seriously.

  44. 44
    nigelj says:

    Apologies for appearing to make similar comments of zebras comments on passive solar, like a parrot. They were not visible when I pushed submit.

  45. 45
    nigelj says:

    Killian says “Hmmm… To be clear, if there’s no $, there’s no cost, only can/can’t.”

    People ‘can’ only get ‘ stuff’ to the extent that there is a sufficient pile of free stuff. The pile of free stuff will probably run out quickly enough leaving some people without free stuff. Resources are not endless.

    Piles of free stuff lead to queuing, but some people clearly have more urgent needs than others so get priority in the queue, and so somebody or some committee has to decide who gets priority. This can be problematic, especially if the committee decide their friends, family and cronies have the greatest needs and this certainly happens. Imo this problem ends up being as bad as the problems generated by money.

    However some stuff is more or less free in many places like public healthcare, (other than in crazy old America) and I have no problem with that. Its free to the extent of no charges at the door, but people pay through taxes obviously. But when this free stuff idea gets more widely applied the potential for problems, rorting and corruption gets larger.

  46. 46
    David B. Benson says:

    nigelj @43 — As I keep pointing out, the MJP market rules implement all your goals. These are done in an energy only pure form in the ERCOT Texas electricity grid market. You can find out how well this worked last summer as the grid was using almost all of the reserves.

  47. 47
    David B. Benson says:

    Day ahead and real time energy markets:
    https://www.e-education.psu.edu/ebf483/node/527

  48. 48
    nigelj says:

    Regarding “Hmmm… To be clear, if there’s no $, there’s no cost, only can/can’t.”

    The other problem with a society based around free stuff is that people might not be motivated to bother working, so you would need teams of people to motivate them to work which is a rather unpleasant sounding idea, and a method of checking people are working and are thus entitled to free stuff. All this adds BUREAUCRACY, and begs the question of why we have got rid of money in the first place. You could have “entitlement tokens” but how would that be much different to money?

    Money does of course cause problems, including people that lie and cheat their way into getting money, or people who treat people badly to make their pile, and poverty, especially when its inflicted on people by circumstances beyond their control. But there are obvious realatively simple ways of mitigating these problems.

    The economist.com has a new article on inequality thats interesting.

  49. 49
    nigelj says:

    David B. Benson @46 yes thanks I did see your reference but I wasn’t sure what point you were making. If Texas wind power is stretching gas fired backup to the limits, and there is a lot of gas backup, is raises the question of whether their grid has enough storage. It seems to me their rules should require more storage. This might raise the costs of wind power making nuclear power more attractive which would keep you guys happy.

    I dont love nuclear power, but its important we dont inadvertently shut it out of the market. The government and system controller should not favour any one particular zero carbon option. Let it be decided on merits and costs and market demand. Yes?

  50. 50
    Al Bundy says:

    David B Benson: Al Bundy @30 — Ideas are patentable.

    AB: No they aren’t. For a patent to hold one MUST describe a system that can be built by an expert in the field who utilizes nothing beyond the description.

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