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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.

854 Responses to “Forced Responses: Dec 2019”

  1. 51
    zebra says:

    #46 David Benson,

    A couple of points:

    1. Yes, you keep mentioning the Texas thing, but unless I missed something, it’s just an example of a market working the way it is supposed to. Nobody froze to death in the dark… some prices went up for a brief period. To me that’s a signal to build more reserves or improve load management or whatever.

    Can you elaborate on what you conclude differently?

    2. (#35) About the crazy idea from crazy E-P: What exactly is patentable there? Preheating combustion air is hardly a new concept. Doing it with electricity that is being generated with that combustion sounds awfully inefficient…I don’t even need the back of an envelope to see that.

    Why would anyone bother?

  2. 52

    E-P 24: If you had to have a buffer which peaked at just 20% of this,

    BPL: Dubious.

    E-P: 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.

    BPL: Distributed over half a million facilities? Easily done.

    E-P: If you always have a surplus you don’t need storage, period.

    BPL: Then let’s overbuild solar and wind.

  3. 53

    Killian wrote @57 in Unforced Variations:

    So what? He’s [Hansen] still wrong on an issue? Happens.

    What is he wrong about, specifically?  That Sweden and France and Ontario have decarbonized their electricity far more completely than any of the “Green” countries like Denmark and (snrk!) Germany?

    You DO realize that Germany had to abandon its 2020 emissions goals because it was ludicrously far from meeting them, don’t you?  You DO realize that the US grid has lower per-kWh emissions than Germany, don’t you?  Does this not count as a massive failure for “Green” policies?

    If you’re not rating these things by results, how ARE you rating them?

    For him, and all but 3 that I know of, the issue is no training in regenerative systems. They are naturally science-tech leaning.

    Define “regenerative systems” here (hyperlink better than an essay).  Can you “regenerate” beds of coal to take the CO2 out of the air and put it back where it came from?  How is this better than mineralization or enhanced weathering?

    But this is why it is a mistake to look to climate scientists for solutions; they simply do not look at the world from the perspective of the principles, patterns and functions of ecosystems.

    If you can’t achieve RESULTS, your perspective is a luxury we cannot afford.  It’s one more romantic delusion on the same lines as the ones which have accelerated us toward the cliff of catastrophic climate change over the last 40 years, instead of turning us away.

    If you want solutions, you have to talk to engineers.  Engineers solve problems; if you tell engineers “here’s money, solve the CO2 problem” they’ll do it.  We see the results of engineering in Leningrad and Haiyang.  With China’s rapid uptake of BEVs, Haiyang may soon be the first emissions-free city in Asia or even the world:  it is already lit by emissions-free energy, will shortly be heated entirely by same, and with fully electric transport it won’t need to burn any fossil fuels.  Neither hydro-fed Montreal nor nuclear-powered Toronto can say that.

    If you don’t have any “regnerative systems” capable of doing that job, they aren’t fit for purpose.

  4. 54

    Responding to KIA’s comment on the UV thread (#56), and nigel’s response (#61) here, as this is the appropriate thread–

    The former said:

    You’re [sic] boss isn’t going to be impressed when you don’t show up to work because the grid sucked all the juice out of your EV battery! If this isn’t the proper thread for those pesky numbers, which one is?! You keep saying IF there were enough storage, RE would work fine. Fact is there isn’t enough, and there isn’t going to be enough in the future. Run the numbers, this is a science website – we can handle it.

    First, let me note the irony that KIA offers no support whatever–quantitative or verbal–for his unsupported assertions about the deployment, present or future, of battery storage.

    Second, let me express astonishment that he thinks that EV-grid storage would ever be implemented in such a naively stupid manner.

    Third, I’ll offer some of the verbal and quantitative support for my POV that KIA neglects on behalf of his positions.

    On storage:

    BNEF has just revised its forecast for global energy storage upward to a 122-fold increase, from the current marker of 9 gigawatts globally to 1,095 gigawatts by 2040.

    By way of comparison, just last November BNEF was anticipating 942 gigawatts by 2040…

    https://cleantechnica.com/2019/08/01/bnef-revises-global-energy-storage-forecast-upward-to-2850-gwh-by-2040/

    For context, that’s roughly 20% of present installed global generation capacity. And note as well that that is just the presently leading technology: we’ve also been discussing the potential of pumped storage, which will probably have some market share, and there is thermal storage, not to mention other forms of battery storage, such as flow batteries. Some of them, at least, will probably exist in the future mix.

    Second, on the wider question of RE:

    Wind and solar make up almost 50% of world electricity in 2050 – “50 by 50” – and help put the power sector on track for 2 degrees to at least 2030…

    Wind and solar are now [i.e., in 2019] cheapest across more than two-thirds of the world. By 2030 they undercut commissioned coal and gas almost everywhere…

    Batteries, gas peakers and dynamic demand help wind and solar reach more than 80% penetration in some markets.

    https://about.bnef.com/new-energy-outlook/

    Note that both of these are not exercises in advocacy–“This is what we think should happen, or could possibly if we try really hard happen”–but in real-world projection–“This is what we think may well happen given current and anticipated realities.”

  5. 55
    nigelj says:

    https://reneweconomy.com.au/batteries-vs-pumped-storage-hydropower-place-87554/

    “Pumped hydro boasts a very low price per megawatt hour, ranging from about $200/MWh to $260/MWh. Currently, battery costs range from $350/MWh to nearly $1000/MWh, with this cost reducing rapidly (costs reduced by about 25% during 2016).”

  6. 56
    Al Bundy says:

    David B Benson,

    You obviously know nothing about patent law. You obviously have never even glanced at an authority. Yet you pontificate. Why?

  7. 57
    Al Bundy says:

    nigelj: 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.

    AB: Yeah, focus on the negative. Me, I prefer to remember her sadomasochism. Smart and kinky women are grand even if one has to use duct tape to muffle the sound of stupid.

  8. 58
    David B. Benson says:

    nigelj @49 & zebra @51 — In the ERCOT energy only market all generators may bid. There are no favorites. The result is quite a bit of wind power backed by the same amount of natural gas generators. The effect is that for several weeks in the summer the wholesale prices go up to the maximum allowed. Other grids also have a capacity market to assure ample reserves and so avoid the highest wholesale prices. The capacity market assures that nuclear power plants and even coal burners don’t go broke. Somehow the nuclear power plants in ERCOT Texas survive without that.

    So far I don’t see that either of you actually understand the power grid and its economics. There are many web resources to help, with information about ERCOT particularly easy to find.

  9. 59

    Kevin McKinney wrote @11:

    Not needed, not claimed.

    You didn’t claim it, but you DO need it.  The cost ceiling for your storage runs as the inverse of the duration you have to cover.  Current Li-ion cells are running OTOO $150/kWh, but to cover a 2-week lull needs something well under $10.  Materials were running closer to $70 last I saw, and I don’t see them going down much with demand this high.

    Sadoway was working on “batteries cheap as dirt because they’re FROM dirt”, but Ambri doesn’t seem to have broken $200/kWh yet.  Not too surprising; batteries are an inherently hard problem.

    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.

    I wrote what I meant.  Fermi 1 construction began in 1956 and the coolant systems were filled in 1960, and that was probably with most of the construction being done on-site.  We don’t need years of power-ascension testing ever again.  That goes double if we are truly on a war footing.

    ARE we on a war footing?  Because I don’t see it.  The Greens are pushing measures they KNOW will not decarbonize their economies, and even go backwards.  Germany is way short of meeting its 2020 emissions targets and they’re claiming SUCCESS.  You’re fine with this, which proves that you are NOT serious.

    If we really wanted to get the job done, we could build 2 Fermi 1-class units a day, 250 days a year (we build 17 million LDVs a year or about 50,000 a day 24/7/365, we can manage 2 stainless steel cans a day).  That would have us hitting 3.3 TW(th) by 2040, assuming a war footing.  We’d also have to build fuel reprocessing plants to handle about 10,000 ton/year of fuel at ~10% burnup, plus perhaps 2x that much in material from breeding blankets.  We wouldn’t have to do that right away because our first fuel charges are ready-made for us, in the weapons-grade plutonium we haven’t built the plant to convert to MOX fuel.  A 30,000 tpy annual capacity would be more than enough to reprocess every bit of our used LWR fuel well before 2040 if we got it running soon enough, and the sooner we did that the less uranium we’d have to enrich to make up for the unused fissiles in it.  Once you’ve got something going you have a natural rate of increase of about 1.5-2% per year.  Keeping up with a rate of increase that bottoms out at 6.7% in the final year requires that most of the starting fuel come either from reclaimed fissiles in used LWR fuel or newly enriched uranium.  The USA has 75.1 tons of HEU assigned for down-blending, so assuming 90% assay you could make starting fuel charges (484 kg fissile) for about 140 units.  The same source says there’s 87.8 tons of unirradiated Pu in inventory, of which 7.0 tons is “civilian”.  Guessing 93% fissile, that would fire up another 13-odd units.  Starting slow at maybe 10 units a year for the first 3-4 years, you’d have no problem keeping them going until reprocessed material was available.  You’d also deal with all our related weapons treaty obligations.  (Since you can’t do just one thing, make ’em all good!)

    How could you build 2 Fermi 1’s a day?  You have a big metal-working plant with a large press.  You cast ingots and roll into sheets.  You roll sheet into circles and weld to make barrel sections.  You literally stamp out hemispherical end caps and corrugated sheets which form the bulk of the hexagonal fuel assembly cells for the core and blanket.  You align them all with dedicated jigs and weld them up with robots.  Robots are more consistent than humans so the rework would be minimal once the setup was done.  Automated radiography and eddy-current testing to detect cracks and voids and you’re good to go.

    Building one costs a bundle.  Building 10,000 costs probably 100x that much to set up and then 10% as much per unit.  3.3 TW(th) would require about 7700 of them, and there would be an export market too.

    And getting the power online beginning in 2030 is too damn late, thanks to decades of procrastination.

    Exsqueeze me?  WHO brought nuclear to a halt in the 1980’s?  Wasn’t me.  It was all the believers in “soft energy” and “everything natural” whose best efforts have fallen woefully short despite massive subsidies.

    The fastest decarbonization trajectories have been powered by nuclear, not “renewables”.  It’s you Greenies who we don’t have time for any longer.  You had your chance and blew it, now step aside.

    It simply makes no sense to make nuclear power your mainstay in the current situation.

    Why not?  Nuclear power can literally do it all.  It’s doing it all in Leningrad, in Haiyang, in that town where the Akademik Lomonsov is docked.  It requires no great changes to anything else.  You can obfuscate and deny, but you cannot say the same.

    A typical wind or solar farm is producing in maybe 4.

    And cannot be the foundation of a zero-carbon system, period.  Not reliable enough.

    It’s unclear to me who the “we” is

    The USA.  China has the capacity to do the same, and has set the stage for re-powering coal plants with pebble-bed reactor boilers and district heating with swimming-pool reactors.  India… cut off India’s coal imports and they’ll get serious.  France is good, Germany needs a spanking.  Again.

    where is the capacity to initiate such a build program?

    Do you seriously think we cannot begin rolling and welding stainless steel sheet TODAY, if our “environmentalists” were only serious about the magnitude of the crisis they claim… but obviously don’t believe in?

    The USA built as many as 3 Liberty ships a DAY at the height of WWII.  They were something like 17,000 tons apiece empty.  I could calculate the likely weight of a 9-foot diameter SS vessel 25 feet tall at ρ=8.2 and maybe 20 mm thick, plus some internal structure, but it’s after dinner on Sunday and I’m not feeling like trying to explain all my assumptions for you.  Suffice it to say that the effort would scarcely dent our capabilities and lots of it could and should be done by welding robots (shipyards already do this).  If we did this on a war footing we could quite literally have a test unit or two operational in a year; it took just 16 months to build the Pentagon, and only 13.5 months for the Empire State Building.  That is, unless we’ve immigrated, post-modernized, and diversified ourselves into an inability to do anything competently… which the Florida pedestrian bridge disaster suggests we may very well have.

    Where are the tradesmen with the requisite skills?

    Robots now not only do a very good job of straight-line welds, they can do far more complex work and repeatable 5-axis CNC machining too.  Program it once, do it a dozen times… or a million.

    Where is the financial capacity, considering that South Carolina couldn’t manage a 2 reactor build

    Well before the completion of Vogtle 3 and 4, China has built and commissioned both Haiyang 1 and 2 and Sanmen 1 and 2.  China did not have the regulatory and political interference that killed the V.C. Summer expansion.  China gets stuff done.  We have the financial capacity, and a few twisted arms would take care of the rest on our end.

    And lastly, where is the political will?

    Ask yourself that.  The “Green” side wants to send trillions to the Third World and flood the West with its denizens, instead of making any real effort to SOLVE the problem.  And you wonder why almost everyone else believes the issue is fake?  Most people are technically ignorant but can tell the difference between caviar and a crap sandwich.

    Many people are deeply uncomfortable with nuclear power.

    No.  The right in the USA has always been cool with nukes, but unconvinced of the imperative.  The LEFT and fossil-fuel interests are hysterically opposed to (not “uncomfortable with”) nuclear power, and have been since 1970 (see 1970 NYT article).

    This isn’t on me to fix.  It’s on you.  See to your own house, or a pox be upon it.

    failure would be catastrophic.

    Yes, I agree.  I have a solution.  We’re 30 years late; will you LET IT BE BUILT ALREADY?!

    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.

    Quite competently addressed in Cohen’s Chapter 9, COSTS OF NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS — WHAT WENT WRONG?  Basically, regulators in the US and much of the world went crazy.  Western nuclear plants are now 100 if not thousands of times SAFER than anything fossil-fired… meaning that public danger is far greater than it ought to be because FOSSIL FIRED PLANTS SHOULD BE GONE ALREADY.  Yet our regulators keep piling costs onto nukes, thus keeping dangerous fossil energy in business.

    Again, this ain’t on us.  It’s on you.

  10. 60

    Al “Bundy” (Caldwell) writes @12:

    Now admit your fabrication and apologize to me.

    Nope. IF I copied your words with a single letter off, who cares?

    If you copied it, you could NOT have gotten so much as a single letter off.  If you knew there was only a single letter off, you would have had the source and been able to post it.  Wouldn’t you… you liar.

    Were we both not pseudonymous I would be suing you for libel already, and I’ll find your name through the patent system soon enough.

    In contrast, you deliberately lied.

    The liar projects.  I did to you exactly what you did to me, only more effectively:  parody you and make fun of what you know you meant.  You are the one who won’t ‘fess up or just drop it and let it go.

    This is proven by my repeated demands for you to quote or link exactly what you claim I said, and your failure and then outright refusal to do so.  That is the mark of the habitual liar.

    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?

    Because YOU are claiming it is something that it is NOT.  China barely has a 4-node HVDC loop.  That is a very long way from an HVDC “grid”, but that’s what your scheme requires.

    There is no HVDC grid working anywhere in the world today, and we’d be fools to bet our civilization on it.  Doubly so if the generators feeding it are not reliable hydro and coal and NG and nuke, but flaky wind and PV.

    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??

    YOU implied they were a problem even on the rim of the Mediterranian.  They’ve been kicked out of 109 countries maybe 400-odd times so far, obviously LOTS of people found them to be a problem across space and time.  I’m all for letting them live among themselves alone and sorting their own issues out.  But if you INSIST there is no other solution… hey, YOU do it.

    Why install a VERY noisy and inefficient new system

    Because it (a) isn’t noisy because small and muffled and (b) is cheap, Cheap, CHEAP!  You can save the expensive stuff for things you don’t expect to replace all that soon.  Something that pays off in 5 years is almost certainly a good deal, especially if you don’t expect to need it in 10.

    Yep. Tis a political/emotional problem. Solve the problem

    I can tell people things, but I can’t do either their thinking or feeling for them.  If you’re so good at it, YOU solve the problem.  If we really do have a climate emergency, declare an emergency and steamroll them.

    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 FFS for the eleventy-seventh time.  I fricking TOLD you that people beyond the reach of economic district heating would have to use some combination of (a) electric heat, (b) biofuels and (c) storable electrofuels.  People who are building anew of course have the luxury of (d) passive solar.  (BTW, what do you do when your neighbors to the south plant a bunch of fast-growing poplars that top out over 100 feet and block your sun?  I’ve SEEN it happen.  Of course, regular old trees growing as trees do can do the same.  Sucks to be you if you’re passive solar, don’t it?)

  11. 61

    nigelj writes @49:

    [it] 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.

    BINGO.  If carbon costs something, the backup required by wind’s intermittency should and must be billed to wind.  Only where there’s no cost for dumping CO2 is wind’s unreliability cost-free.

    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.

    Nuclear power has some issues, I admit.  But it’s easier to keep those issues from harming humans or the environment than almost any other energy source.  We can LITERALLY package up ALL the dangerous products of a nuclear plant in steel and concrete for a fraction of a cent per kWh and keep them out of the environment for at least a century, maybe two (during which time they decline by a factor of ~10 to ~100).  Compare this to $100 or more social cost per ton of CO2.  No contest.

  12. 62

    zebra writes @51:

    About the crazy idea from crazy E-P:

    “Crazy” like a fox.  Stop it, you’re getting me hard.

    What exactly is patentable there? Preheating combustion air is hardly a new concept. Doing it with electricity that is being generated with that combustion sounds awfully inefficient…I don’t even need the back of an envelope to see that.

    Didn’t you read the article which described the duck-curve-on-steroids problem faced by Western Australia?  As it says, “those responsible for keeping the lights on warn the stability of the entire system could soon be in jeopardy.”

    The only way to manage the solar was to scale back or switch off the coal- and gas-fired power stations that were supposed to be the bedrock of the electricity system.

    The problem was coal-fired plants were not designed to be quickly ramped up or down in such a way, meaning they were ill-equipped to respond to sudden fluctuations in solar production.

    “What’s changing in the WEM is the fact that rooftop solar is now our single largest generator,” Ms Zibelman said.

    “That has really made a huge difference in terms of how we think about the power system.

    “The concern we have for the first time in probably the history of this industry is you start thinking about sunny days during the spring or [autumn] when you don’t have a lot of demand, because you don’t have a lot of cooling going on.

    “And that becomes an interesting issue because you have lots and lots of solar and very little demand.”

    In other words, trying to treat the rest of the grid as a battery, when it is NOT a battery and in fact has NO significant energy storage at all.  Bad thinking, bad results.

    If you did not understand this problem at the outset, you have no business having an opinion.  It is blatantly obvious to literally ANYONE with a clue.  You do not have one.

    In a “clarion call” earlier this year, AEMO said that if nothing was done to safeguard the grid, there was a credible danger of rolling blackouts from as early as 2022 as soaring levels of renewable energy periodically overwhelmed the system.

    At worst, AEMO warned there was a “real risk” of a system-wide blackout.

    Because unless you have designed for such a situation, you cannot cope with it.

    Why would anyone bother?

    Because you can get system-wide blackouts if you don’t.  Is that a good enough reason?

    Yes, dumping electric power to heat at steam plants is a SUB-OPTIMAL response.  What you fail to realize is that it is the BEST response in a system which can neither store nor control the excess of PV being put on the WA grid.  Blackout is the WORST response.  Curtailment is the SECOND WORST response.  Dumping to resistors which displace part of the fuel fed to the must-run generators is BETTER THAN EITHER OF THOSE; service is maintained, and the otherwise-dumped energy is made useful.

    Do you understand yet, or are you totally clueless?

  13. 63
    nigelj says:

    Ignorant guy @23, curiously enough the amount America spends on the military is 3.1% of gdp per year, and this is quite close to what economic studies like the Stern Report say it would cost to convert to renewable energy each year, spread over 30 years.

  14. 64
    nigelj says:

    David Benson @58, I understand our electricity market here in NZ. I don’t pretend to fully understand your American ERCOT market. Newsflash: life isnt all about America, and I don’t have time to read everything :)

    I got the feeling you thought the Texas market had a problem. Sorry if I misinterpreted you. But imho it still leaves the problem of Texas relying on gas backup.

    Plenty of other countries have government run electricity grids rather than markets and that was my real concern. It just seems to me that if you want nuclear power to be more widely adopted, and good general outcomes, it would be great if they adopted a well designed electricity market.

  15. 65
    nigelj says:

    Al Bunndy @57. Ha ha. I hear you. I didn’t know she was a sadomasochist, that sure explains a lot about the fountainhead.

  16. 66
    Killian says:

    “The Conversation” finally gets something 100% correct.

    https://www.yahoo.com/news/design-forest-fit-heal-planet-114858559.html

  17. 67
    Mr. Know It All says:

    36 – Adam Lea
    “Any country that has a surplus of renewable energy can sell excess to any country that cannot meet their demand.”

    Except that it’s dark in most of the entire western hemisphere all at once, and similarly for the other half – makes the transmission distances too long.

    39 – zebra, and 41 – nigelj
    “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.”

    I haven’t made any physics errors, but the items you and nigelj listed will help cut energy use. I’m just saying they will not get you to “passive solar” level. Gyp board would help – it’s mass – but a concrete floor slab in direct sunlight will store more heat. Gotta cover your windows at night with insulated shutters. A passive solar home is not necessarily complicated. Read James Kachadorian’s book:

    https://www.amazon.com/Passive-Solar-House-Complete-Heating/dp/1933392037/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?keywords=james+kachedorian+passive+solar+house&qid=1575968992&s=books&sr=1-1-fkmr0

    43 and 48 – nigelj
    nigelj on Ayn Rand: “Nobody should take her libertarian leaning books too literally or seriously.”

    Out of 5,983 reviews of her book “Atlas Shrugged”, 83% gave it 4 or 5 stars out of 5. It’s a great book and describes the current leftist lunacy, and probable failure of the USA exactly. Sad times ahead.

    https://www.amazon.com/Blackstone-Audio-Inc-Atlas-Shrugged/dp/B001MXQ7AQ/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=atlas+shrugged&qid=1575970072&s=books&sr=1-2

    nigelj: “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,…..”

    There is a proven method, used for centuries, to get people to work. It’s called men with loaded rifles, and disarming everyone else. That’s why we have a Second Amendment and value freedom.

    24 – E-P, and 52 – BPL
    E-P: 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.

    BPL: Distributed over half a million facilities? Easily done.

    I checked E-P’s numbers. He’s right on the money – 1.2027e20J and 61,355.7 cubic kilometers. The total volume of all the unfrozen surface fresh water on earth is 93,100 cubic kilometers. For the $1,000,000 prize, is “Easily done” your final answer? :)

    https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/where-earths-water?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects

    Maybe we need tidal or some other kind of ocean power?

  18. 68
    zebra says:

    sign in

  19. 69

    Mr. KIA wrote @67:

    There is a proven method, used for centuries, to get people to work. It’s called men with loaded rifles, and disarming everyone else.

    That doesn’t work nearly as well as giving people a share of the productivity.  You can get grunt work like picking cotton or lading freight done that way, but anything that requires knowledge or creativity withers on the vine as people put their efforts into avoiding unwanted attention.  That’s why things are so lousy in communist countries.  You can run e.g. religious groups that way, but not much else.

    I checked E-P’s numbers.

    I wish everyone would do that.  That’s why I post my calculations.  I wish everyone would check the numbers on their own schemes too, instead of engaging in hand-waving.  The only way to get to something that WORKS is to discard all our bad ideas so we can concentrate on the good ones, and there are far more bad ideas than good.

    FWIW, the entire human energy consumption of the world could be satisfied with 6000 tons of uranium per year.  At 19.1 g/cc, that’s just 314 cubic meters.  Compare to 61,000 cubic km.

    There are estimated to be between 2 billion and 4 billion tons of dissolved uranium in the oceans.

  20. 70
    nigelj says:

    https://redd-monitor.org/2019/09/05/nature-cannot-be-fooled-kevin-anderson-on-mitigation-as-if-climate-mattered/

    Someone mentioned this on the UV thread. This is well worth a read. An angry man talks.

    The article is “Nature cannot be fooled.” Kevin Anderson on mitigation as if climate mattered.

    In summary, (my words) Anderson expressess scepticism about all the negative emission technologies , including both natural approaches like tree planting, and high technology based solutions like sucking CO2 out of the air and BECCS, because they dont work (allegedly) and give a green light to more emissions. He’s also sceptical about renewable energy because of the well known challenges of scaling it up (but he then goes on to promote renewable energy projects so hmmm).

    Instead Anderson thinks we need really tough energy efficiency standards, which he says could reduce energy use by “40 – 70%”.

    Well Kevin makes a hell of a lot of good points, but his plan of “tough energy standards ” lacks details, and they are also a technology based solution that assumes there are viable solutions that can be quickly scaled . Or alternatively that people will simply be prepared to do without a lot of energy. Good luck with that idea. Tough energy standards also arguably gives a green light to continuing emissions just like planting trees does. So tough energy standards actually have all the same weaknesses that negative emissions technologies and renewable energy have.

    If we want to have even the slightest chance of meeting even the 2 degree goal surely we need a combination of reducing emissions, negative emissions technology and some reduction in energy use with better energy standards, and also flying less etcetera? If you look at the obstacles all these things have only a combination looks feasible to me. The maths is diabolically complicated but I trust my intuition implicitly on this one because its just so incredibly obvious we need a combined approach. We have to throw everything at the problem (almost).

    We just have to ensure that negative emissions technologies are ‘NOT’ used as an excuse to continue emissions. Whether humanity can find that discipline is a key issue.

    But I agree forget about BECCS because it’s fantasy land stuff, and even tree planting has its limits, all because of limited land availability. I think the more useful looking approaches are using things like no till farming and rotational grazing to sequester soil carbon, because we have a couple of billion hectares this can be applied to. Its not a magic answer and people do make exaggerated claims about it, but it has potential, and is feasible: You don’t need more land, we already have the land.

    And sucking CO2 out of the air with fans is a promising technology option,with working prototypes, and easily googled, but imho it shouldn’t be seen as a stand alone get out of jail free card or even a major component of the response. Scaling it up will obviously be a massive challenge, and it looks to me like it would hit limits, and you have the problems of storing all that carbon or converting it to other compounds. So it would take a long time to have an impact on the keeling curve.

    Just my two cents worth.

  21. 71
    nigelj says:

    Mr. Know It All @67

    “Any country that has a surplus of renewable energy can sell excess to any country that cannot meet their demand.” “Except that it’s dark in most of the entire western hemisphere all at once, and similarly for the other half – makes the transmission distances too long.”

    Nobody is really suggesting we connect say America and Asia on the opposite sides of the world. But some adjacent countries already have submarine direct current cables “NorNed is a 580-kilometre (360 mi) long high-voltage direct current submarine power cable between Feda in Norway and the seaport of Eemshaven in the Netherlands, which interconnects both countries’ electrical grids. It was once the longest submarine power cable in the world.”

    Adjacent countries can share power especially when they have complimentary systems and weather conditions, as already happens in parts of Europe. If someone has a surplus they can share and charge for it of course.

    Fyi there’s a conceptual project called ‘Desertec’ for large solar farms in the north african desert to provide Europe with electricity and and for North Africa to get wind power form Europe, all using long distance direct current cables. The distances are certainly feasible.

    “I haven’t made any physics errors, but the items you and nigelj listed will help cut energy use. I’m just saying they will not get you to “passive solar” level.”

    A fairly complete passive solar conversion of existing homes works in New Zealand in many cases as I stated, and appear to have to state again, and would pay itself off although you are taking about 15 years. I concede it would not be economic in America. Different styles of housing.

    “Out of 5,983 reviews of her book “Atlas Shrugged”, 83% gave it 4 or 5 stars out of 5. It’s a great book and describes the current leftist lunacy, and probable failure of the USA exactly. Sad times ahead.”

    ROFL. Customer reviews are not a very objective study of the worth of a book at a philosophical level. They just measure whether people enjoyed the read. Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler gets good customer reviews on the whole, on Amazon as below.

    https://www.amazon.com/Mein-Kampf-Adolf-Hitler/product-reviews/0395925037

    Even I enjoyed Rand’s books but the ideology in them is complete rubbish and has a huge blinkered corporate bias, and is unworkable in the real world. She is one of these people determined to be deliberately stupid. Don’t become one yourself. Oops it might be too late :)

  22. 72
    Mr. Know It All says:

    Wonder why it is that the US has far lower electric power rates than a nation like NZ with all that hydro? And how ’bout those Germans! Looks like our evil capitalist system is doing just fine compared to whatever they are doing:

    https://www.statista.com/statistics/263492/electricity-prices-in-selected-countries/

    I always thought there was something weird about Greta:

    https://www.zerohedge.com/political/bolsonaro-blasts-bratty-greta-after-comments-over-indigenous-murders

    And FYI, EXXON won a court battle against biased NY AG:

    https://www.zerohedge.com/political/exxon-mobil-prevails-over-politically-biased-new-york-ag-major-climate-change-case

    Just posting to see if the hidden comments will pop up.

  23. 73
    Mr. Know It All says:

    It works, I submitted a comment and the hidden comments, 53-68, popped right up! :)

    MKIA above: Looks like our evil capitalist system is doing just fine compared to whatever they are doing:

    https://www.statista.com/statistics/263492/electricity-prices-in-selected-countries/

    And here in the great PNW US (Orygun and Warshinton), we have dirt cheap electricity. And our gas is cheap too! Life is good! Someone in a previous comments said something about gas monopolies gouging consumers with high prices – where does that happen?

    US electricity prices:

    https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.php?t=epmt_5_6_a

    Natural gas prices:

    https://www.eia.gov/dnav/ng/hist/n3010us3m.htm

  24. 74
    nigelj says:

    Engineer Poet @62, that’s hard to get my head around because I think you quoted the wrong parts of zebras comment. But yes its ridiculous for renewables to rely on so much fossil fuel backup that cant be ramped up or down fast enough. Please note that Australia does have a lot of pumped hydro planned, but politics slows things down and the Conservative Party favour coal.

  25. 75
    nigelj says:

    Engineer Poet @60 & Al Bundy @ 12.

    I’ve read plenty of AB’s comments over the last 2 years, and he does not come across as a liar, or someone who deliberately puts words in peoples mouths or who quotes people selectively in a devious way. If he has misquoted someone, it’s probably just a typo.

    I also cant recall the lies AB accuses EP of and wouldn’t be surprised if its a typo as well. All this endless stuff about who lied when bores me to tears, and is hard to ever prove one way or the other, and may cause some people to completely ignore anything you guys say which would be a shame.

  26. 76
    nigelj says:

    Engineer-Poet @59, renewables versus fermi reactors. Both can work, but renewables would need a whole lot of storage, and fermi reactors may be more economic option. I wish government’s would just do something. Either solution can work but we should obviously go for the most economic solution.

    However as I’ve said before, scaling up either option will hit supply bottlenecks so even with a war footing we will probably end up with both renewables and nuclear power. And I agree its astonishing what America achieved in WW2 in terms of increased production, I read the history some months ago.

    The problem of zero carbon energy is more political in nature, and not in the sense of people opposing nuclear power out of fear of another Chernobyl. That’s part of it, but the real problem is fossil fuel money in politics, peoples complacency, people afraid of the costs of the energy transition. I spend some time on other blogs pushing the advantages of low carbon energy for health, information on costs, and the inevitability that we will run out of fossil fuels anyway so the problem is INESCAPABLE.

    “Ask yourself that. The “Green” side wants to send trillions to the Third World and flood the West with its denizens, instead of making any real effort to SOLVE the problem. And you wonder why almost everyone else believes the issue is fake? Most people are technically ignorant but can tell the difference between caviar and a crap sandwich.”

    Somewhat unfair. Helping the third world helps us all ultimately by creating a bigger wealthier market, and helps them build either fermi reactors or renewable energy. It doesn’t need much brain power or imagination to see this, or maybe it does. Providing we target that assistance carefully, and control how its spent somehow.

    Immigration brings skills. I would consider myself moderately Green and presumably EP is as well, but I don’t believe in ‘unrestricted’ immigration. There has to be a cap on numbers per year, and a selection process. So let’s not generalise. It’s only really the dark greens and libertarians that promote a borderless world (odd bed fellows) and its a bit absurd blaming them for everything.

  27. 77
    nigelj says:

    Engineer Poet @69

    “FWIW, the entire human energy consumption of the world could be satisfied with 6000 tons of uranium per year. At 19.1 g/cc, that’s just 314 cubic meters. Compare to 61,000 cubic km.”

    Yeah plus reactors using all that concrete, steel and other materials. I will do the ‘numbers’ if you insist but those nuclear power stations look huge and are built like fortresses. Ok I’m playing devils advocate a bit, but lets also have full disclosure eh EP?

  28. 78
    nigelj says:

    Mr. Know It All @72

    “Wonder why it is that the US has far lower electric power rates than a nation like NZ with all that hydro?”

    I don’t know for sure, but we are a tiny country so we have poor economies of scale, and pretty long transmission lines because everything is very spread out. My comment on gas monoplies was general. Rude scock: Its not all about America and you Americans are starting to get on my nerves :)

  29. 79
    Al Bundy says:

    E-P’s truncation of me: 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?”

    E-P: Oh FFS for the eleventy-seventh time. I fricking TOLD you that people beyond the reach of economic district heating would have to use some combination of

    AB: Truncating a quote in order to obscure is wrong. As the very next sentence in my comment said, you WEREN’T saying that.

    E-P: If you copied it, you could NOT have gotten so much as a single letter off.

    AB: There is only a single version of the Bible because everyone always copies/translates with 100% accuracy.

    Again, I don’t care enough about your stupid fight to go research why you failed to remember what you said and if or how my quote was merely 99.9% correct. Like I said, I tried and you lied, and now you truncate in a very um, erroneous way.

    E-P: YOU implied they were a problem even on the rim of the Mediterranian. They’ve been kicked out of 109 countries maybe 400-odd times so far, obviously LOTS of people found them to be a problem across space and time. I’m all for letting them live among themselves alone and sorting their own issues out.

    E-P: That is, unless we’ve immigrated, post-modernized, and diversified ourselves into an inability to do anything competently…

    AB: Perhaps tone that sort of talk down a tad if you want any respect here.

    *********

    nigelj: Al Bunndy @57. Ha ha. I hear you. I didn’t know she was a sadomasochist, that sure explains a lot about the fountainhead.

    AB: Uh, I wasn’t her therapist or confidant so yeah, I was just explaining her work, as opposed to revealing well-researched investigative reporting. Geez, have I started an unfounded rumor?

  30. 80
    David B. Benson says:

    There is lots of room for trees
    http://bravenewclimate.proboards.com/thread/694/trillions-trees
    although this may not be the most efficient way to remove excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

  31. 81
    William Jackson says:

    67 Your “Out of 5,983 reviews of her book “Atlas Shrugged”, 83% gave it 4 or 5 stars out of 5. It’s a great book and describes the current leftist lunacy, and probable failure of the USA exactly. Sad times ahead.” says nothing about liberals or even socialists but much about you! And what it says is sad.

  32. 82
    Al Bundy says:

    E-P: Yes, dumping electric power to heat at steam plants is a SUB-OPTIMAL response. What you fail to realize is that it is the BEST response in a system which can neither store nor control the excess of PV being put on the WA grid. Blackout is the WORST response. Curtailment is the SECOND WORST response. Dumping to resistors which displace part of the fuel fed to the must-run generators is BETTER THAN EITHER OF THOSE

    AB: Storage is better than blackout. UHVDC transmission is better than curtailment. Please compare your dumping to resistance heat to the above. And I still don’t see the patent potential, at least at the level you’ve gone to. I’m pretty confident that prior art has encompassed what you’ve brought here, and even if not, obvious combinations of prior art are also public domain. Using that, I can see a “We’re bigger than you, go away” legal strategy working. Did you have a competent attorney do a patent search? Do you know how to do one yourself?

    Engine News:

    My project with UMich got upgraded. Now it’s a credit course (so I don’t have to pay for the work) for the head of the department’s hand-picked student. So I’ll be interacting with the PhD and his protege (or, at least a very good kid).

  33. 83
    Killian says:

    And still more evidence it is small, close-knit community networks that give us healthy societies. We see the same effect with addiction.

    https://www.yahoo.com/news/how-breakthrough-science-can-change-the-lives-of-poor-families-starting-in-the-womb-100020836.html

  34. 84
    Al Bundy says:

    nigelj: I also cant recall the lies AB accuses EP of and wouldn’t be surprised if its a typo as well.

    AB: No. E-P did not “typo”. He put my name and quotes around his interpretation of my words, which placed me in even worse light than I often do myself. Not a big deal. Heck, you didn’t even notice! The only significant issue is false equivalence. In any case, this isn’t good for my self-improvement program, so I cede the floor to E-P.

  35. 85
    Killian says:

    Re #53 Engineer-Poet said Killian wrote @57 in Unforced Variations:

    So what? He’s [Hansen] still wrong on an issue? Happens.

    What is he wrong about, specifically?

    1. You’re a liar and a fraud, and I will not be drawn into your campaign of bullshit.

    2. The issues with nuclear are obvious and well-known. Anyone pushing it as a solution is 1. a liar (you), 2. a fool (you) or too ignorant of regenerative processes to know better (you and Hansen).

    I wrote about it more than ten years ago. Look it up at aperfectstormcometh.

  36. 86
    Al Bundy says:

    Yo, nigelj!

    The impeachment thingy has gotten me thinking all legalesquely. So, (as I sit down to cede the floor), E-P maintained that copying is 100% accurate, which means he uses copy/paste (remember, I was typing into a small phone). Thus, he couldn’t have typoed and I could hardly not.

    (But you’re awfully nice to believe in typos. Nice is often way more important than right.)

  37. 87
    Al Bundy says:

    MRKIA: I checked E-P’s numbers. He’s right on the money – 1.2027e20J and 61,355.7 cubic kilometers. The total volume of all the unfrozen surface fresh water on earth is 93,100 cubic kilometers. For the $1,000,000 prize, is “Easily done” your final answer? :)

    AB: Impounding water to offset sea level rise is a good thing, no? :-)

    But yeah. Lots and lots of concrete and steel. Lots of ecosystems turned into an artificial pair of pseudolakes. I don’t know anything about the resulting ecology.

    And as E-P noted, using the ocean as a lower basin is pumping salt onto land.

    Efficiency, transmission, and demand shift would surely make things way easier.

    Note that living and working in efficient structures is far more comfortable and healthy. Canada (or at least BC, where I lived) requires air-to-air heat exchangers to provide fresh air with little loss. Well-insulated walls and windows provide warmer surfaces that radiate more heat to you so you’re going to turn down the thermostat because you’re too warm! Quiet. And no drafts…

  38. 88
    Al Bundy says:

    E-P,

    So, yes, it would be bat**** crazy to build a passive solar house at the base of a north-facing cliff in the USA. Super-insulation, district HVAC (internal to your dwelling), and smart window placement allows for a multitude of solutions. When the load drops by 80% and human activity provides waste heat the issue becomes pretty academic.

    AOC’s plan to renovate public housing to be zero carbon is ambitious. Renovation is tough. Gaps and imperfections and mismatches galore unless the contractor is way ethical and proud of their work. I believe there have been a few abject failures. Not sure what lessons were learned. There had better be an infrared heat loss test!

    New construction is the easiest and most successfully fixed. Don’t delay renovation, but building it wrong is just plain wrong.

    Perhaps your cheap and inefficient-but-better-than-zero engine/furnace can add value, but I’m sticking with lasts forever, quiet prior to muffling, wicked efficient, greater EROEI, and lower capital cost per year in service. But I see your point – IF we were busy building nukes THEN your described system might put some temporary fingers in the leaking dike. In contrast, I see bio/synfuel engines as an integral part of the system.

  39. 89
    zebra says:

    #58 David Benson,

    I’m in no way comparing you to E-P, but you just did that thing:

    I say “this is what happened, which doesn’t seem to be a problem”.

    Your response is “yes that’s what happened, you obviously don’t know what happened”.

    Very much like E-P responding to my system, where I say “if people have a choice and nuclear is cheaper, they will pick nuclear…

    with, “you’re wrong, people will pick nuclear because it is cheaper”.

    It goes back to that “Just The Facts” post; you have to agree what you agree about before you can constructively disagree. But there’s clearly some mental block or something going on; admitting that you agree about anything “just isn’t done” in some cases.

    I think it is pretty well established that generating-market systems can work, and as you said, and I’ve said, nuclear plants can be part of the mix, as they are in Texas. I just saw this, which is an example of how the increased granularity that I favor could be implemented:

    https://cleantechnica.com/2019/12/10/green-mountain-power-introduces-plan-that-allows-homeowners-to-sell-solar-power-direct-to-businesses/

    One of the very cool things about the Pando platform is that it is app-based. Buyers and sellers connect via smartphone without involving the utility company directly, although GMP is able to monitor all transactions in the background to verify the system is operating correctly and all transactions are properly accounted for.

    Whatever the financial arrangements eventually work out to be, it’s obvious that we have the technology to operate at this level, and even higher resolution where the house loads are interactive…if you can sell your electricity for a good price, your refrigerator can be turned off for a couple of hours while you do it.

    And, as I know you know, once smart metering like this is generally available, issues with “balancing” the grid can be mitigated. (Of course, you may not want to admit that I know you know, but it was worth a shot.)

  40. 90
    zebra says:

    #62 E-P,

    I see we’re back to “solar panels will make the wires explode”. I thought you already admitted that wouldn’t happen, but then who knows what was registering in your mind when you said that.

    Say I have a steam generator with X capacity, and it is connected to a bunch of houses, which in aggregate have X solar capacity (some have panels, others may not), and the aggregate load of all the houses on a hot sunny day is X. Can you explain how this causes All! Those! Blackouts!, whether on a hot sunny day or a cool sunny day? Why do the wires explode?

    Just explain the physics for this simple case, for all the people out there without a lot of background.

  41. 91

    E-P 59: Western nuclear plants are now 100 if not thousands of times SAFER than anything fossil-fired…

    http://bartonlevenson.com/NukeAccidents.html

  42. 92

    E-P 60: There is no HVDC grid working anywhere in the world today

    BPL: There is no Gen IV reactor working anywhere in the world today, either.

  43. 93

    KIA 67: Out of 5,983 reviews of her book “Atlas Shrugged”, 83% gave it 4 or 5 stars out of 5. It’s a great book and describes the current leftist lunacy, and probable failure of the USA exactly. Sad times ahead.

    BPL: There are two books that can have a huge influence on a 14-year-old: The Lord of the Rings, and Atlas Shrugged. One is a silly fantasy involving unbelievable, wooden characters; stiff dialogue; and ridiculous description. The other involves hobbits.

  44. 94

    E-P 69: There are estimated to be between 2 billion and 4 billion tons of dissolved uranium in the oceans.

    BPL: Good luck recovering it.

  45. 95
    Killian says:

    As I have said for the past ten years.

    …But the rush to control Bolivia’s resources quickly destabilised the local socialist government, which had intended to regulate mining and distribute profits among the population. The right-wing government in place now is likely to reopen negotiations with foreign mining companies that its predecessor had nixed.

    Myopic planning and assessment, and not understanding that industrial solutions are inherently unsustainable have led us, among other things, to our planet-wide crisis.

    https://thewire.in/environment/the-idea-that-green-technology-can-help-save-the-environment-is-dangerous

  46. 96

    KIA 72: I always thought there was something weird about Greta

    BPL: She really triggers you guys, doesn’t she?

  47. 97

    nigelj @75:  Certain facts cannot be disputed.

    1.  AB attributed a “quote” to me, which never appeared on Real Climate until his post.  This can be verified with search engines and the ^F function in your browser.
    2.  I took it as parody (my personal opinion), and parodied him right back.  I even called myself “Reality” to make it totally obvious.  Was anyone who read the whole thing doubting that in the slightest?
    3.  Instead of having a chuckle, AB started screeching in outrage (“to “quote” someone with your own stupid words is putrid” to which I replied “except when you do it?”).
    4.  Ever since then, AB has been denying that he invented the “quote” he attributed to me (here’s where he claimed he quoted me accurately), refused multiple demands for its source†, and has even threatened legal action.

    If not a habitual liar, he’s very insecure and thin-skinned.  I’d tell him to grow a sense of humor but if he was capable he’d already have one.  Or maybe he’s hurt that I’m funnier than he is.

    † I suspect he did the search engine/^F thing and realized that he didn’t have a leg to stand on, but in true a**h*** fashion he doubled down instead of letting the matter drop.

  48. 98
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Al Bundy@57,
    I know your intent was humorous, but imagine for a moment that you are a young woman seeking to learn about climate science, and you came across a comment suggesting that duct tape was an appropriate remedy for silencing a woman’s “stupidity”.

    We do not live in normal times. Women and minorities face constant harassment, gaslighting and micro-agression. Telling the difference between hostility and well meaning humor can be challenging on the Intertubes. Let’s not make marginalized groups feel more isolated.

  49. 99
    Al Bundy says:

    I’ve said it before. Much of the problem is that our consumer financial system discounts energy costs to zero. Qualifying for a mortgage, a vehicle, a whatever should consider the entire cost of ownership. Longevity and efficiency instantly become focal points. A cheap furnace or E-P’s NOX-lowering and some “free” electricity modification or my full-blown-power-plant-in-a-closet? The choice depends on how the underwriting is designed.

  50. 100
    Mal Adapted says:

    Mr. Ironically Anosognosic Typist:

    Wonder why it is that the US has far lower electric power rates than a nation like NZ with all that hydro?

    Why, I wonder if it’s related to the total amount in subsidies the US federal government hands out for energy production and/or consumption, with fossil and nuclear leading the list (state and local programs not counted). Perhaps nigelj can give us figures for New Zealand? Both countries, to be sure, allow the ‘free’ market to socialize the marginal climate-change cost of fossil carbon. I presume Kiwis are about as resistant as we are to carbon taxes or fees.