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Forced responses: Feb 2020

Filed under: — group @ 8 February 2020

This month’s open thread on climate solutions.

527 Responses to “Forced responses: Feb 2020”

  1. 151

    Further analysis on the previous:

    The model used in the Helsinki case study anticipates future annual energy use in district heating at 8 TWh, electricity at 12 TWh and 4 TWh of hydrogen for transportation fuels.

    For reference purposes, that’s an average of about 1.4 GW(e), about 900 MW(t) (average, peak will be much higher) and about 450 MW worth of hydrogen.  At 141.7 MJ/kg HHV and 43 kWh/kg required for electrolysis, it would take another ~500 MW(e) to produce the hydrogen.

    All in all, it looks like about 2.1 GW(e) would power Helsinki.  Using LWRs would require about 7 GW(t) so there would be plenty of heat left over for space heating.  Looks like 35 NuScales would do it.

  2. 152
    Al Bundy says:

    Zebra,

    You don’t believe that I exist, that I’m someone else, someone who lies about their existence when in fact the persona presented here is a fabrication. You’re wrong.

    Sometimes the best move is to make a very generous offer because ya think that it will be refused and ya want confirmation because it furthers one’s analysis of the animal in question. I’ve learned that you are lying to yourself. Deep down you know I exist and that pisses you off so much that you’ll go anti-scientific, you’ll commit the Cardinal Sin: to reject looking at offered evidence before arriving at a conclusion.

    And to toss my wife’s death in my face is disgusting. You owe me an apology.

  3. 153
    Al Bundy says:

    I wonder how many lives will be saved by the new virus this year (less flu). And it might help topple Trump, too.

    But if it becomes endemic and alters itself enough to thwart both vaccination and natural immunity our world just got way uglier. Back to the days when folks feared dying of an endemic disease.

    What do you guys think? Would that scenario, one of repeated existential immediate personal threat, cause humanity to step up to the climate emergency or stand down?
    ________

    EP,

    Yeah, SMRs would be way useful. Electricity, heat, fuel, and carbon sequestration can all be powered via a conveniently small package, but, as BPL pointed out, not until somebody builds one somewhere. Canada?

    By the way, you erred when you said that reactors are by definition critical. Sub-critical reactors use an external neutron source to keep things cooking. (This is from a previous discussion)

  4. 154
    Joseph Zorzin says:

    MA Rodger @ 120
    “You may find StGeorge & Esper (2018) ‘Concord and discord among Northern Hemisphere paleotemperature reconstructions from tree rings’ informative on more recent work with proxy tree ring reconstructions.”

    Wow, just read that. I’ve been spending a great deal of time on the net for the past year trying to make sense out of climate change, in particular the subject of tree ring analysis and the divergence problem – and that paper was the best thing so far. Thanks! I also purchased a book recommended by a forestry professor in Maine, “Fundamentals of Tree-Ring Resarch” by James H. Spencer.

    I see in the paper, “If the cause of the divergence phenomenon was not unique to the past few decades, that sort of censored temperature response could cause an underestimation of the magnitude of earlier warm periods and produce biased estimates of climate sensitivity…” Not sure of the significance of that.

  5. 155

    BPL repeats debunked talking points @143:

    BPL: People who have examined it say it is.

    https://www.anu.edu.au/news/all-news/anu-finds-530000-potential-pumped-hydro-sites-worldwide

    They can’t do logic; they think you can use seawater, when you can’t most places.  Debunked that crap 2 and a half months ago:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2019/12/forced-responses-dec-2019/#comment-751821

    Try coming up with something new.

  6. 156

    Kevin McKinney writes @144:

    E-P doesn’t like my sources, and hence refuses to engage with the substantive points they make

    Your sources are explicitly political, not scientific.  I’m not going to even try to dig back into un-sourced claims of who misrepresented whom when things so often come down to someone insisting “NUCLEAR BAD!”

    which clearly show Shellenberger’s history of deceptive and misleading argumentation

    Unsourced claims are anything but “clear”.  Two levels deep into your links, all I’m seeing is handwaving.  So far as policy is concerned, Obama appointed Gregory Jaczko to chair the NRC, doing immense damage to the industry and aborting the first attempt at its renaissance.  Jaczko followed this up by doing damage to our relief efforts in Japan after the Tohoku quake.

    because he ‘trusts’ Shellenberger, and one of the sources is “rabidly anti-nuclear.”

    Wise International is in the anti-nuclear business.  That’s what they do.  They are not a credible source or honest broker.

    As for Joe Romm, he’s a political animal himself.  I don’t know exactly what his alignments and interests are, but I would not be the least bit surprised if he takes money from “renewables” companies.  Shellenberger has at least run the numbers and gotten pretty much the same answers I have.  That’s why I trust him; the Greens lie through their teeth constantly.

    C) Total emissions are actually what the atmosphere ‘cares’ about anyway.

    Agreed.  So why should we accept it when bad policy in the electric sector wipes out gains in other sectors?

  7. 157

    Scott E Strough writes @150:

    There is your success story with hydro. It simply comes down to having the resolve to do it.

    I didn’t ask if you could bring minimal electricity to an un-wired country using “renewables” (of which hydro is the steadiest and thus the easiest to manage).  I asked where there’s an industrial economy that’s capable of BUILDING hydro or whatever systems like that which has decarbonized using those self-same renewables.  So far the only success stories use hydro, and not small scale run-of-the-river hydro either; Norway, Sweden and Quebec have massive reservoirs.

    Hydro is definitely useful.  I’d suggest replacing dams which have to be removed due to age.  But there’s only so much energy you can squeeze out of a given amount of rainfall, and that’s just not enough to power a country like the USA.  As I seem to have to repeat at least weekly, something else has to do the heavy lifting.

  8. 158
    nigelj says:

    Dan Miller @141, curiously enough J Hansen also backs carbon tax and dividend. Smart man, knows his stuff.

    Just to clarify my comment, I think carbon tax and dividend is definitely the best fundanmental option, and it could work in most countries, and in fact several countries already have carbon tax schemes, (refer carbon tax on wikipedia), but it just looks like hard work in America because of the particularly strident anti tax ideology in the senate and the fact that the composition of the senate is unlikely to change that fast. I agree a strong change in public sentiment about climate change looks very possible, but that won’t change these dinosaurs and ideologues in the senate.

    There are other options in addition to cap and trade, as I outlined. If the senate changes its composition, then that might be the time to push a carbon tax. Right now, I would be pushing other options.

  9. 159
    nigelj says:

    Mr KIA @148

    “World hydro-electric dams destroying the ocean carbon cycle, reefs, increasing CO2 in the air, killing fish, etc:”

    Burning coal, oil and gas is ten times worse for the environment and human health.

  10. 160
    nigelj says:

    Al Bundy @153

    “I wonder how many lives will be saved by the new virus this year (less flu). And it might help topple Trump, too.”

    Are you thinking people practicing extra hygene to combat corona virus will reduce the seasonal flu? Because if so, I was thinking something vaguely similar. Somebody just today was rubbishing face masks as a protection against corona virus, because the air borne virus is smaller than the mesh size, however I suggested the masks would at least reduce other infections, taking pressure off the hospitals.

    “But if it becomes endemic and alters itself enough to thwart both vaccination and natural immunity our world just got way uglier. Back to the days when folks feared dying of an endemic disease….What do you guys think? Would that scenario, one of repeated existential immediate personal threat, cause humanity to step up to the climate emergency or stand down?”

    Coronavirus could distract attention from longer term threats like climate change, because corona virus is more immediate and obviously life threatening. However the virus might have a unifying effect on society, and could even reduce partisan tensions if it became a huge thing, by creating a common enemy that is apolitical. But all this stuff could just cancel out. Overall I dont think the virus will have any effect one way or the other on efforts to mitigate climate change.

  11. 161
    MA Rodger says:

    Joseph Zorzin @154,
    If you are digging within the interweb to make sense of a particular aspect of AGW climatology, perhaps I should recommend Google Scholar which (if you are unfamiliar with it) for an individual paper, say, StGeorge & Esper (2018) provides a list of its citations as well as often providing lists of work by the individual authors (who will be working in a particular field).

  12. 162

    E-P 155: Debunked that crap 2 and a half months ago:

    BPL: And he cites himself. On this blog.

    Way to own-goal, E-P.

  13. 163

    E-P 156: Wise International is in the anti-nuclear business. That’s what they do. They are not a credible source or honest broker.

    BPL: Note E-P’s reasoning here. If a source is anti-nuclear, anything they say against nuclear must be suspect. No thought of examining whether what they say is true or not. The issue for E-P is not “true versus false,” but “pro-nuke versus anti-nuke.”

  14. 164
    zebra says:

    #152 Al Bundy,

    “you owe me an apology”

    Now you are sounding a little creepy, Al. Sorry if you lost your wife, of course, but nothing I said had anything to do with that.

    My point was to reinforce what I said in the previous comment about “why do the capitalists get all the money”, where I gave an example of my personal failure in order to illustrate exactly that…it doesn’t matter what your SAT scores were, or how many clever ideas you have, or how virtuous you are, and so on.

    You are not entitled to success.

    And as I have said in the past, I see an obvious undercurrent of resentment in those who feel the need to fill up these pages telling us about their illustrious accomplishments decades ago. Sounds like they are still stuck at a high school level of emotional development.

    You are not as bad as the obvious ones, but seriously, do you think you have the same number of functioning brain cells as when you took those tests? I sure don’t, and I doubt you do either. So I try to get people to listen by writing coherently and clearly and correctly about the stuff I feel competent to contribute on. But it takes work and focus.

  15. 165

    E-P, #156–

    Ah, I see. Romm is “political” because, well, just because, but Shellenberger is not, because he has “gotten pretty much the same answers I have.”

    Yes, that seems to be pretty much the pattern with E-P, all right. The ‘opposition’ is always fools and rogues; supporters, righteous as Job.

    “So why should we accept it when bad policy in the electric sector wipes out gains in other sectors?”

    Except that Shellenberger has presented zero actual evidence that that ever happened in France, or anywhere else. (Recall that the North Carolina case previously discussed, in which Duke is currently forced by poorly-designed regulation to run two combined-cycle gas turbines as if they are peaker plants, still shows reduced carbon emissions, although admittedly NOX has increased.)

    Which would make that “why should we accept?” sort of a straw man argument.

  16. 166

    E-P, #155–

    What a twisted web some of us weave…

    Back in #126, RC readers were treated to this exchange:

    E-P 119: Full decarbonization cannot be done with wind and solar; it requires always-on generation like hydro, geothermal and nuclear, and the former two cannot scale.

    BPL: No, it requires back-up power like pumped hydro, or wide-area smart grids, or both.

    After a couple of exchanges, BPL referenced this study by Stocks et al:

    https://www.anu.edu.au/news/all-news/anu-finds-530000-potential-pumped-hydro-sites-worldwide

    E-P claims he has “debunked” this peer-reviewed study because: 1) it only considers electrical energy storage, not the total energy used by humanity, and 2) because “They can’t do logic; they think you can use seawater, when you can’t most places.”

    However, the first objection is a total fail because the whole context was stabilizing the electrical system. (I’ll add that it’s very strange to require of a technology the whole point of which is to store electrical energy to “peak” at 20% of humanity’s total energy consumption. It only makes sense to me as a tactic for arbitrarily raising the bar for electrical storage.)

    Anyway, the second objection fails as well, because the inventory of sites is not heavily dependent on pumped seawater sites. A glance at the map provided shows that the great majority of the sites are hundreds or thousands of miles from the sea, and presumably do not attempt to use seawater at all, because, well, it would be flat crazy to do so.

    Given that “the prospective short-term off-river pumped-hydro energy storage (STORES) sites combined had a global potential storage capacity of 22 million Gigawatt-hours (GWh)”, and that total human electrical generation is of the order of 25 *thousand* Gigawatt-hours, it’s pretty clear that you could discount every site potentially using seawater and still have far more candidate sites than would ever be needed.

    As Dr. Stocker said:

    “Only a small fraction of the 530,000 potential sites we’ve identified would be needed to support a 100 per cent renewable global electricity system. We identified so many potential sites that much less than the best one per cent will be required,” said Dr Stocks from the ANU Research School of Electrical, Energy and Materials Engineering (RSEEME).

    Direct link for pumped storage map, for those interested:

    https://nationalmap.gov.au/renewables/#share=s-oDPMo1jDBBtwBNhD

    It seems that for E-P every molehill of caveat, slight qualification or difficulty, is immediately elevated into an Everest of impossibility–provided only that the object of it is renewable energy-related.

  17. 167

    As a side note to my foregoing, here’s the state of the literature, as cited by the ANU study, with regard to seawater pumped systems:

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0360544213000510

    This article summarises the fundamental points of integrated studies of S-PSS, from the feasibility study to the precise positioning of the systems’ components and the selection of the main equipment. Special issues regarding the use of seawater from the PSS (pumped storage system), such as the use of materials for the construction of the penstock, the construction of the upper reservoir, placing the pump station and the hydro power plant on the coast and the selection of pump and hydro-turbine models are presented thoroughly. Indicative results are presented from two S-PSS of small and medium size.

    The study proves that current technology enables the secure use of seawater in PSS. The electricity surplus from Wind Powered Pumped Storage Systems (WP-PSS) can also be exploited in reverse osmosis desalination plants for producing potable water.

    Seawater can be pumped directly from the sea, thus construction of a lower reservoir is avoided, compensating higher costs arising from the use of corrosion-resistant materials for certain components.

    It’s not ‘a thing’ yet, apparently, but neither does it appear to be by any means impossible. Note, too, that the design is intended to *avoid* environmental impacts, including, I’m quite sure, any saltwater contamination of the local aquifer. Surely E-P, who is so confident of our ability to contain fission reactions and the products thereof with a very high degree of confidence, can’t feel too worried about our ability to contain a reservoir full of seawater?

  18. 168
    Joseph Zorzin says:

    Here’s a time lapse video of the construction of a wind “farm” in western Massachusetts. It’s mind blowing.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSgVpz_7dDg

  19. 169
    David B. Benson says:

    Kevin McKinney @167 — Whether freshwater or seawater, the economics of pumped hydro schemes is inadequate to attract investors, even in the most economical of the plans. Here in the Pacific Northwest there are 4 such schemes being floated but there are as yet no investors. The existing scheme in California will only last until the next equipment replacement is required; there is just enough revenue to meet O&M plus a tiny profit.

    Worse yet, older threads on the Energy Matters blog drives home the tremendous expense of using pumped hydro to ride through extended periods of low generation from so-called renewables. Of course batteries would be even worse.

    The remaining low carbon power source is nuclear. The advantage is that generation does not depend upon the weather so doesn’t require massive backup.

  20. 170
    zebra says:

    #168 Joseph Zorzin,

    Thanks, thanks, thanks. Great visuals.

    I would say “look at all the jobs that would be created”, but I suspect we’d have to allow some more non-wealthy immigrants in for expanding this… a bit demanding for the typical soft, entitled whitefolk, whether young or older.

  21. 171

    Thanks to Kevin for getting my back, as he does so often. ;)

  22. 172

    Here’s a new energy storage mechanism that doesn’t need a specific type of site and is already working at solar thermal plants:

    https://www.sciencealert.com/here-s-how-heat-can-be-used-to-store-renewable-energy

    The jargon is “pumped thermal storage.” Let’s start building!

  23. 173

    BPL writes @162:

    And he cites himself. On this blog.

    You’re repeating your same old troll from early December.  Why should I bore everyone with a repeat of the refutation, instead of just linking to it?

    @163:

    Note E-P’s reasoning here. If a source is anti-nuclear, anything they say against nuclear must be suspect. No thought of examining whether what they say is true or not.

    It’s the same reasoning you use if the source is a fossil-fuel interest.  You know AT BEST they’re going to cherry-pick their facts to favor their agenda.  Only if they give what’s called an “admission against interest” can you be relatively certain they’re being truthful—and even those admissions can be cherry-picked and slanted.

    The anti-nuclear business is a business.  Major environmental groups have been bought off by special-interest money, despite having large memberships unhappy with this.  Wise International has no other purpose than anti-nuclearism; it’s right there on their home page.  No honest broker, they.

    I can imagine a world without liars like Wise International.  I hope to live to see it.

  24. 174

    Kevin McKinney writes @167:

    It’s not ‘a thing’ yet, apparently, but neither does it appear to be by any means impossible. Note, too, that the design is intended to *avoid* environmental impacts, including, I’m quite sure, any saltwater contamination of the local aquifer.

    We have considerably difficulty containing much smaller volumes of leachate from “sanitary” landfills; landfills have liners, but liners often leak.  You think you’re going to keep cubic kilometers of seawater from leaking?  Merely being blown onto nearby ground as spray will contaminate both water and soil.

    Surely E-P, who is so confident of our ability to contain fission reactions and the products thereof with a very high degree of confidence, can’t feel too worried about our ability to contain a reservoir full of seawater?

    Fission products are (a) very, very small in volume and (b) are contained behind multiple engineered barriers.  There’s no way for a high wind to pick up radio-strontium from a fuel pool or cask and spray it around the neighborhood.  The engineering barriers are SO good, AAMOF, that divers swim in spent fuel pools to do maintenance and require only minor decontamination when they come out.  That’s with only the ceramic fuel form and the zircaloy cladding as barriers to keep the water clean.  When you go to dry casks, you lose any potential for fission products to dissolve and add the welded steel lining and usually two layers of reinforced concrete in the cask and overpack as additional barriers.

    You can do this because even LWR fuel packs more than half a billion times as much energy per ton as water pumped to a height of 200 meters, and that’s after conversion losses in the steam cycle.  You can’t afford to do anything remotely like that with seawater.

  25. 175

    BPL writes @172:

    Here’s a new energy storage mechanism that doesn’t need a specific type of site and is already working at solar thermal plants:

    https://www.sciencealert.com/here-s-how-heat-can-be-used-to-store-renewable-energy

    Not impressed.  FTA:

    Possibly the biggest disadvantage is its relatively modest efficiency – meaning how much electricity is returned during discharge, compared to how much was put in during charge. Most pumped thermal electricity storage systems aim for 50-70 percent efficiency, compared to 80-90 percent for lithium-ion batteries or 70-85 percent for pumped hydro storage.

    Highview Power (http://highviewpower.com/) is claiming modestly higher efficiency and almost certainly gets higher energy density using liquid air as the cold store.  They’re still not cheap per-kWh, though, and nowhere cheap enough to provide the weeks of storage required to ride out e.g. major lulls in wind energy.

  26. 176
    Al Bundy says:

    Nigelj: Somebody just today was rubbishing face masks as a protection against corona virus, because the air borne virus is smaller than the mesh size,

    AB: Viruses are spewed in droplets. Stop the droplet and odds of infection go down. That’s why “cover your cough” is advised even though viri are smaller than your arm.

    By the way, masks are effective when on the sick person, but not so much when worn by the uninfected. “Don’t touch your face while or after being in public until you properly wash your hands” is a better defense than a mask.
    _______

    Zebra: Sorry if you lost your wife, of course, but nothing I said had anything to do with that.

    AB: Fair is fair. If you can pretend you’re not ignorant so as to attack me I can pretend you’re not ignorant, too.

    And seriously, what motivated you to lash out?

    And please use context. I don’t discuss old scores in general. EP was crowing and I responded. My comments about my skills are at least 99% about the present.

    So again, you’re just plain wrong. Oh, you’re wrong about intelligence and age, too. Effective intelligence increases as interconnections increase. Visualize neurons as the base and connections per neuron the exponent.

    And given your exponent, I’ll explain: you commented on my personal life as if you knew my history so I pretended that you actually knew something.

  27. 177

    Interesting development in grid-scale battery storage. The Tesla project to use the site of the old Moss Landing CC natgas plant for a battery storage facility has received approval and construction can begin. (The project has been in the works since at least 2018, but was tied up by labor issues involving PG & E and a contracting group.) It’ll be buffering the output of CA wind and solar farms.

    Approval:

    https://cleantechnica.com/2020/02/27/humongous-tesla-battery-plant-approved-in-california-is-10x-bigger-than-worlds-biggest-battery-plant/

    Proposal:

    https://electrek.co/2018/12/15/tesla-megapack-debut-giant-energy-storage/

    Moss Landing history:

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

    The main portion of the Tesla Megapack-based project is good for 1.2 GWh, but there’s an adjacent Tesla facility, plus a Vistra project, bringing total Moss Landing capacity to a planned 2.2 GWh.

    As the first story notes, the 1.2 GWh portion by itself is roughly an order of magnitude larger than the Hornsdale facility in Australia, so this is a milestone in the history of the deployment of battery storage technology. It’ll be very interesting to see how this affects the grid, and what the practical and economic results are. Will they be as good as Hornsdale’s record has been?

  28. 178
    Al Bundy says:

    Kevin M: intended to *avoid* environmental impacts, including, I’m quite sure, any saltwater contamination of the local aquifer.

    AB: Using saltwater offends the soul. It just feels wrong. But if saltwater is used then by definition the reservoir is next to the ocean, and groundwater generally flows to the sea. And reservoirs would have to be of a decent elevation, so the land seaward of the reservoir is going to be steep. So your cliff will get a bit saltier due to leakage.

    Big whup.

  29. 179
    Killian says:

    Kevin, this may give you some foundation of what you asked for, but I don’t think it’s explicitly Pc. It seems to be his ideas on transition based on a paper/book he wrote some years back.

    https://youtu.be/uqwWdranB5A

  30. 180
    Killian says:

    Re #166 Kevin McKinney said Back in #126, RC readers were treated to this exchange:

    E-P 119: Full decarbonization cannot be done with wind and solar; it requires always-on generation like hydro, geothermal and nuclear, and the former two cannot scale.

    BPL: No, it requires back-up power like pumped hydro, or wide-area smart grids, or both.

    Both wrong. What it #requires# is simplification and localization. Everything else is unnavoidably negotiable as all these things must be place-based.

  31. 181
    Killian says:

    Yo, Kevin, anklebiter1 and anklebiter2, guess what? All that very mysterious stuff you can’t seem to locate or make even the tiniest damned attempt to find, and would, in the latter two cases, instead shit on for years?

    One search:
    Permaculture Principles
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mwRAf3z9ag
    (I prefer the Mollisonian as more actionable, more direct, so more universal and more simply stated.)

    OSU’s free Intro to Permaculture Course:
    https://open.oregonstate.edu/courses/permaculture/

    OSU’s Permaculture Design Certificate Course:
    https://workspace.oregonstate.edu/course/permaculture-design-certificate-online?hsLang=en

    OSU’s Advanced Permaculture Design Course:
    https://workspace.oregonstate.edu/course/advanced-permaculture-design-for-climate-resilience?hsLang=en

  32. 182

    DBB 169: the economics of pumped hydro schemes is inadequate to attract investors

    BPL: Then the government will have to do the investing, as with FDR’s Tennessee Valley Authority or the Green New Deal.

  33. 183

    E-P 173: The anti-nuclear business is a business. Major environmental groups have been bought off by special-interest money, despite having large memberships unhappy with this. Wise International has no other purpose than anti-nuclearism; it’s right there on their home page. No honest broker, they.

    BPL: E-P doubles down on “the source is all that matters.” No thought that some objective measure might exist to say whether what a group says is accurate or not. Simply “us versus them.”

  34. 184
    Dan says:

    re: 173. Notice how E-P provides not a shred of *objective* evidence that “The anti-nuclear business is a business”? Classic. He even throws in the blatant bald face lie that “Major environmental groups have been bought off by special-interest money, despite having large memberships unhappy with this.” Again, not a shred of evidence to support that “large” absurdity. Another classic denier who fails to understand science and who lazily regurgitates what someone told to try to affirm what he wants to believe since he can not admit to being wrong.

  35. 185
  36. 186
    David B. Benson says:

    Barton Paul Levenson @182 — The TVA did construct a pumped hydro scheme when several nuclear power plants were under construction. The idea was to allow the nuclear power plants to run at maximum despite the lower night-time load.

    But I know more about the pumped hydro features at Grand Coulee dam. There are massive pumps to lift water from Lake Roosevelt to the equalizing reservoir, Banks Lake. The original design was to allow for the pumps to also be generators, a pumped hydro scheme. This was not realized. Upgrading would require several hundred million dollars.

    Now BPA is self-supporting so the upgrade would have to pay for itself, and of course the interest on the bonds, just as Grand Coulee dam paid. The value of pumped hydro in the Pacific Northwest is so low that BPA has never moved forward on the scheme.

  37. 187

    DBB, #169–

    Whether freshwater or seawater, the economics of pumped hydro schemes is inadequate to attract investors, even in the most economical of the plans. Here in the Pacific Northwest there are 4 such schemes being floated but there are as yet no investors. The existing scheme in California will only last until the next equipment replacement is required; there is just enough revenue to meet O&M plus a tiny profit.

    Kind of like a lot of existing nuclear plants, from what I’ve read. But economics are not fixed in stone. Even if there is no technically-based amelioration of the costs, the relative economics can shift. For instance, what would they look like if we enacted a carbon tax or other pricing mechanism?

    Worse yet, older threads on the Energy Matters blog drives home the tremendous expense of using pumped hydro to ride through extended periods of low generation from so-called renewables. Of course batteries would be even worse.

    “Of course?” Battery tech is far from mature, and is today a highly dynamic field, both in terms of research and
    of applied technology. For instance, just in the case of Tesla, their battery packs are 30% more efficient today than when they started production about 10 years ago. And that’s without any fundamental technological change. With numerous lines of development currently in play, I think it’s a bit foolhardy to get too dogmatic about that.

    And, no offense, but I’ve learned to be a bit skeptical of such claims. I’ve too often seen what appear to be vastly exaggerated estimates of what is actually necessary in terms of backup. (E.g., E-P’s “weeks of storage to ride out lulls in wind,” above.) You and I had some discussions, I would say maybe 10 years back now, in which the conventional wisdom, accepted by both of us, was that grids were likely to see significant stability issues with 5% renewable penetration. That has, to put it mildly, not proven to be the case. So while your concern about cost definitely should be taken seriously, I’m not confident that it is by any means the last word.

    The remaining low carbon power source is nuclear. The advantage is that generation does not depend upon the weather so doesn’t require massive backup.

    I’m not arguing against nuclear power per se. It is in some ways very safe–that is, the odds of a serious problem are very low, thanks to the elaborate and extensive safety engineering that’s in place these days. Of course, the economic consequences can be enormous if something *does* go wrong. (E.g., Tepco is lucky to exist at all post-Fukushima.) I’ve said repeatedly that I expect existing capacity to play a significant firming role over the next several decades, and that I think existing capacity should be supported in some way. And SMRs may have a future, perhaps quite a significant one–the jury is out on that.

    But the best tools we have right now for displacing fossil capacity appear to be renewables, especially wind and solar PV, coupled with a variety of storage/stabilization methods, and demand management/energy efficiency.

  38. 188
    nigelj says:

    Don’t really care whether countries build nuclear power or renewables, or both. This article suggests both battery and pumped hydro storage is affordable:

    https://reneweconomy.com.au/new-csiro-aemo-study-confirms-wind-solar-and-storage-beat-coal-gas-and-nuclear-57530/

  39. 189

    BPL points-and-shrieks @183:

    E-P doubles down on “the source is all that matters.” No thought that some objective measure might exist to say whether what a group says is accurate or not.

    Let’s have a look at what WISE Int’l says about their own organization.  From their General Information:

    In the year 2000 the WISE News Communique merged with the NIRS Monitor into the current Nuclear Monitor. For many years it has been the last magazine totally devoted to the fight against nukes.

    From What We Do:

    Having been part of the international anti-nuclear movement for 30+ years….

    From Funding:

    Incomes come largely from individuals who donate on a monthly base (65%) incidental gifts (10%)

    No info on who those donors are, whether they are large or small, or if the organization accepts donations from fossil-fuel interests.  However, small donors seldom have much interest in tax deductibility.

    And last, from Mission:

    The mission of WISE is a global 100% renewable energy system.

    In our vision it is possible to create a safe and sustainable energy system, worldwide, for now and for the future, without nuclear power.

    (Emphasis theirs.)  Now, the trajectory of world energy consumption since the founding of WISE Int’l has been substantial increases in fossil-fuel consumption almost every year, swamping whatever benefits come from “renewables”.  Further, this is almost universally understood in the environmental and climate communities.  So how is it that WISE Int’l continues to double down on abject failure, and its donors continue to donate?  This failure is obviously not contrary to their real purpose.  The one thing they ACTUALLY succeed at is anti-nuclear activism and lobbying.  Their actions prove without a doubt that they are about that and nothing else.

    Organizations which push anti-nuclearism in the face of climate disaster are de facto promoters of fossil fuels, regardless of what they claim to be and do.  We can’t accept excuses for this any longer.

  40. 190

    Dan writes @184:

    He even throws in the blatant bald face lie that “Major environmental groups have been bought off by special-interest money, despite having large memberships unhappy with this.”

    If you don’t know about the battle for the soul of the Sierra Club, you are a complete ignoramus in the field.  Mother Jones ran a pretty good piece on the fight between the corporate-aligned board and the John Muir Sierrans, which the latter ultimately lost.  A lot of this came down to money; mega-donor David Gelbaum declared that the club would not get another penny from him if it came out against immigration, which is likely why Alternative A failed in 1998 when ZPG was the original position of the Club (further:  How the Sierra Club Learned to Love Immigration).

    Again, not a shred of evidence to support that “large” absurdity.

    Your ignorance of the facts does not make them go away.

  41. 191


    Kevin Donald McKinney writes @187:

    “Of course?” Battery tech is far from mature, and is today a highly dynamic field, both in terms of research and of applied technology. For instance, just in the case of Tesla, their battery packs are 30% more efficient today than when they started production about 10 years ago.

    They’re somewhere in the range of $100-$150/kWh today.  However, to economically handle a week-long outage you need vast amounts of stored energy at a storage cost of something like $7/kWh.  This is far less than the materials cost of Tesla’s batteries.  Worse, your batteries have a useful lifetime of perhaps 10 years.  Even if you can get money at 0% interest, you’re paying 10%/year in replacements.

    I’ve too often seen what appear to be vastly exaggerated estimates of what is actually necessary in terms of backup. (E.g., E-P’s “weeks of storage to ride out lulls in wind,” above.)

    Hardly exaggeration.  We have examples from a near-complete 2-week outage over the entire area of the Bonneville Power Administration.  My erstwhile co-blogger Euan Mearns documented a 686 GWh shortfall in UK wind generation back in 2015… assuming that wind is only asked to account for 3 GW of average generation.  Strath Dearn would be able to store some 6800 GWh, which it turns out would not actually be enough:

    Catch 1 As described above, storage of the order 472 GWh would be required to span both April lulls for the wind system as it is currently configured with a median output of 3 GW. Scaling this to a 100% wind-pumped-storage system would increase that requirement so that median output from a gigantic wind carpet would be of the order 50 GW. The storage requirement for the 100% renewables system therefore grows to 50/3*472GWh = 7867 GWh. Strath Dearn is not large enough to guarantee supply.

    Read the whole thing, but expect to start weeping well before you finish.

    You must be a real masochist, because I whip you with facts and you keep coming back for more.

  42. 192

    nigelj writes @188:

    This article suggests both battery and pumped hydro storage is affordable:

    They’re a bunch of liars.  They’re using LCOE for non-dispatchable generation.  The only (even partially) valid measure for them is LACE, Levelized Avoided Cost of Energy.  Further, the 2-hr and 6-hr storage measures radically understate what is required to provide truly reliable energy service.  Multiply the 2-hour number by a factor of 100 and you’ll get close, IF you don’t have seasonal supply/demand imbalances that you’ll see everywhere that’s a substantial ways from the equator.

    These lies are so boilerplate you can put them on bingo cards.

  43. 193
  44. 194
    David B. Benson says:

    nigelj — That AEMO study is to be taken with a very large grain of salt. Find the discussion of it by an Australian towards the end of
    https://bravenewclimate.proboards.com/thread/678/australian-grid?page=4

  45. 195
    David B. Benson says:

    Kevin Donald McKenny @187 — We can look to independent ERCOT Texas grid for an example of a grid with a considerable portion of the generation being wind power. Checking what else is being built one finds that gas turbines keep pace with the increase in nameplate wind generation capacity.

    Now ERCOT is unique in having a so-called energy only market, meaning no capacity market:
    https://bravenewclimate.proboards.com/thread/714/pjm-style-electricity-markets
    Now you can readily find just what happened to the wholesale price on the ERCOT grid last summer. Meaning there was just barely enough generation to avoid rolling blackouts.

    And, by the way, the nuclear power plants in Texas don’t require extraordinary payments. They are able to get by in the competitive wholesale market.

    As for SMRs, see
    https://bravenewclimate.proboards.com/thread/405/smr-small-modular-reactors?page=5

  46. 196

    E-P 189:

    BPL: E-P doubles down on “the source is all that matters.” No thought that some objective measure might exist to say whether what a group says is accurate or not.

    E-P: Let’s have a look at what WISE Int’l says about their own organization.

    BPL: And he does it again. He is absolutely trapped in a loop. It’s like:

    BPL: Look at what some objective third-party says.
    E-P: WISE isn’t objective!
    BPL: I know, so look at some other way to find out whether their point is valid or not.
    E-P: They’re biased!
    BPL: Undoubtedly. But a biased source can still say a true thing, so why not…
    E-P: They admit they’re biased!

    And so on ad infinitum. He absolutely cannot break out of the box he’s enclosed himself in.

  47. 197

    E-P 191: “I’ve too often seen what appear to be vastly exaggerated estimates of what is actually necessary in terms of backup. (E.g., E-P’s “weeks of storage to ride out lulls in wind,” above.)”

    E-P: Hardly exaggeration. We have examples from a near-complete 2-week outage over the entire area of the Bonneville Power Administration.

    BPL: Was the sun out for two weeks, too? Maybe they should have both solar and wind power in that area.

  48. 198

    Just a little reminder of how we should be treating claims by various parties (and begging pardon in advance for the wall of text, but the original has no paragraph breaks).

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306987709003429

    Are you an honest scientist? Truthfulness in science should be an iron law, not a vague aspiration

    Bruce G.Charlton

    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mehy.2009.05.009

    Summary

    Anyone who has been a scientist for more than a couple of decades will realize that there has been a progressive and pervasive decline in the honesty of scientific communications. Yet real science simply must be an arena where truth is the rule; or else the activity simply stops being science and becomes something else: Zombie science. Although all humans ought to be truthful at all times; science is the one area of social functioning in which truth is the primary value, and truthfulness the core evaluation. Truth-telling and truth-seeking should not, therefore, be regarded as unattainable aspirations for scientists, but as iron laws, continually and universally operative. Yet such is the endemic state of corruption that an insistence on truthfulness in science seems perverse, aggressive, dangerous, or simply utopian. Not so: truthfulness in science is not utopian and was indeed taken for granted (albeit subject to normal human imperfections) just a few decades ago. Furthermore, as Jacob Bronowski argued, humans cannot be honest only in important matters while being expedient in minor matters: truth is all of a piece. There are always so many incentives to lie that truthfulness is either a habit or else it declines. This means that in order to be truthful in the face of opposition, scientists need to find a philosophical basis which will sustain a life of habitual truth and support them through the pressure to be expedient (or agreeable) rather than honest. The best hope of saving science from a progressive descent into Zombiedom seems to be a moral Great Awakening: an ethical revolution focused on re-establishing the primary purpose of science: which is the pursuit of truth. Such an Awakening would necessarily begin with individual commitment, but to have any impact it would need to progress rapidly to institutional forms. The most realistic prospect is that some sub-specialties of science might self-identify as being engaged primarily in the pursuit of truth, might form invisible colleges, and (supported by strong ethical systems to which their participants subscribe) impose on their members a stricter and more honest standard of behaviour. From such seeds of truth, real science might again re-grow. However, at present, I can detect no sign of any such thing as a principled adherence to perfect truthfulness among our complacent, arrogant and ever-more-powerful scientific leadership – and that is the group of which a Great Awakening would need to take-hold even if the movement were originated elsewhere.

  49. 199

    Now ERCOT is unique in having a so-called energy only market, meaning no capacity market

    It still has major subsidies for the “renewables”.  In addition to the various Federal credits, the cost of transmission upgrades from the panhandle to load centers in the east have not been charged to the wind farms, but rolled into the rate base.  This socializes the cost of wind while privatizing the benefits.  (T. Boone Pickens has made a lot of money from this.)

    There’s also the little fact that associated gas from oil drilling in the Permean basin is effectively free in the region.  This provides very cheap backup energy when the unreliables cut out.  However, this capacity is still a heavy GHG emitter and cannot be generalized to the rest of the world in any event.

  50. 200

    #191, E-P–

    Basically an (somewhat) extended strawman argument. First, the fact that there was a two-week production lull for the BPA wind fleet as it was in 2015 does not mean that forever, always, and everywhere one must plan for such production lulls. What would the consistency of the BPA fleet be if it included significant offshore capacity? If it were better interconnected with other regional grids? For that matter, what is the geographic coverage now of the wind fleet as it is now?

    More fundamentally, why are we even talking about wind-only power grids as if anyone, anywhere, were seriously considering building them? (That’s the straw-man piece.) Add solar PV to the mix. Interconnect better. Disperse wind resources better. Put demand management tools in place. And yes, maintain some firm capacity. Personally, I don’t mind if some is nuclear, and while hydro is not without issues ecologically, it’s (pace KIA) still pretty benign at scale. (BPA has got what, about 30%?) And of course, add storage capacity of various sorts. That’s the kind of thing that we see developing, and will see increasingly–not a hot-house monoculture of one or two technologies.

    Speaking of batteries, E-P said:

    Worse, your batteries have a useful lifetime of perhaps 10 years.

    Tesla *warranties* them for ten years; I think it’s safe to say they will, in general, last considerably longer. And battery lifetime is expected to keep rising.