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Hit the brakes hard

Filed under: — group @ 29 April 2009 - (Español)

There is a climate splash in Nature this week, including a cover showing a tera-tonne weight, presumably meant to be made of carbon (could it be graphite?), dangling by a thread over the planet, and containing two new articles (Allen et al and Meinshausen et al), a “News & Views” piece written by two of us, and a couple commentaries urging us to “prepare to adapt to at least 4° C” and to think about what the worst case scenario (at 1000 ppm CO2) might look like.

At the heart of it are the two papers which calculate the odds of exceeding a predefined threshold of 2°C as a function of CO2 emissions. Both find that the most directly relevant quantity is the total amount of CO2 ultimately released, rather than a target atmospheric CO2 concentration or emission rate. This is an extremely useful result, giving us a clear statement of how our policy goals should be framed. We have a total emission quota; if we keep going now, we will have to cut back more quickly later.

There is uncertainty in the climate sensitivity of the Earth and in the response of the carbon cycle, and the papers are extremely useful in the way that they propagate these uncertainties to the probabilities of different amounts of warming. Just looking at the median model results, many people conclude that a moderately optimistic but not terribly aggressive scenario such as IPCC B1 would avoid 2°C warming relative to pre-industrial. But when you take into account the uncertainty, you find that there is a disturbingly high likelihood (roughly even odds) that it won’t.

Schmidt and Archer N and V figureBoth papers come to the same broad conclusion, summarized in our figure, that unless humankind puts on the brakes very quickly and aggressively (i.e. global reductions of 80% by 2050), we face a high probability of driving climate beyond a 2°C threshold taken by both studies as a “danger limit”. Comparing the two papers is obscured by the different units; mass of carbon versus mass of CO2 (moles, anyone? Is there a chemist in the house?). But chugging through the math, we find the papers to be broadly consistent. Both papers conclude that humankind is already about half-way toward releasing enough carbon to probably reach 2°C, and that most of the fossil fuel carbon (the coal, in particular) will have to remain in the ground.

We feel compelled to note that even a “moderate” warming of 2°C stands a strong chance of provoking drought and storm responses that could challenge civilized society, leading potentially to the conflict and suffering that go with failed states and mass migrations. Global warming of 2°C would leave the Earth warmer than it has been in millions of years, a disruption of climate conditions that have been stable for longer than the history of human agriculture. Given the drought that already afflicts Australia, the crumbling of the sea ice in the Arctic, and the increasing storm damage after only 0.8°C of warming so far, calling 2°C a danger limit seems to us pretty cavalier.

Also, there are dangers to CO2 emission other than the peak, such as the long tail of the CO2 perturbation which will dominate the ultimate sea level response, and the acidification of the ocean. A building may be safe from earthquakes but if it is susceptible to fires it is still considered unsafe.

The sorts of emission cuts that are required are technologically feasible, if we were to build wind farms instead of coal plants, an integrated regional or global electrical power grid, and undertake a crash program in energy efficiency. But getting everybody to agree to this is the discouraging part. The commentary by Parry et al advises us to prepare to adapt to climate changes of at least 4°C, even though they recognize that it may not be possible to buy our way out of most of the damage (to natural systems, for example, including the irreversible loss of many plant and animal species). Anyway, how does one “adapt” to a train wreck? There is also the fairness issue, in that the beneficiaries of fossil energy (rich countries today) are not the ones who pay the costs (less-rich countries decades from now). We wonder why we were not advised to prepare to adapt to crash curtailing CO2 emissions, which sounds to us considerably less frightening.

p.s. For our German-speaking readers: Stefan’s commentary on the KlimaLounge blog.

604 Responses to “Hit the brakes hard”

  1. 301
    Mark says:

    Wilmot, you say “I agree with Abraham Lincoln (the only President to have received a patent)”

    And according to Ben Franklin:
    “As we enjoy great Advantages from the Inventions of others we should be glad of an Opportunity to serve others by any Invention of ours, and this we should do freely and generously.”

    After all, it’s not money that is the root of all evil, it’s the *pursuit* of money.

  2. 302

    When a renewable source is brought on line wherever you find it handy, then stop. This is time zero.

    Think about power production conditions at this time zero.

    Now decide what will happen if a car is plugged in to whatever grid it can reach. Answer, (now and for many years to come): Additional coal will be burned. Yes, there will be a transition time where sources are adjusted and planned for newly noted effects, but as long as the economic choice is coal, coal will be chosen. The renewable source was fully used immediately, so the plug-in car has a separate impact when it arrives. Its no good to try and pretend there is a connection.

    Later we can talk about the cost coupling effect which truly puts us all in the same boat, even where we think we have different “electric power regions.”

  3. 303
    Hank Roberts says:

    Mark wonders:
    > what it is about wind farms that is killing off
    > the little prairie chicken.
    > I’m still all agog.

    Seriously want to know? Well, someone will anyhow. It’s worth the exercise.

    Short answer: critically endangered species.

    Still interested?

    Longer answer:

    Watch* them:
    http://drawingthemotmot.wordpress.com/2009/04/20/the-fabulous-prairie-chicken-dance/

    Count them:
    http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/publications/pwdpubs/media/pwd_lf_w7000_0018a_c.pdf

    “Suggested for Grades 6 and 7”
    See Table 1 in the PDF file
    “The numbers in the table above are actual population estimates for Attwater’s Chickens for the years shown. Using these census data, construct a line graph showing the population estimates by year….”
    ATTWATER’S PRAIRIE CHICKEN MATH ACTIVITY
    Table 1. Numbers of Attwater’s Prairie Chickens in Texas
    Year No. of Birds
    1937 8618
    1950 4200
    1963 1335
    1967 1070
    1971 2220
    1975 2254
    1979 1718
    1983 1438
    1987 1108
    1991 482
    1995 68
    1996 42
    1997 58
    1999 46
    2002 40
    2005 40

    Extra exercises suggested for RC blog commenters of the magnificent type:

    1) calculate the trend.
    2) find comparable numbers and trend for birdwatchers* there to see them dance.
    3) calculate the trend.

    Still curious?

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=%22wind+farm%22+%22prairie+chicken%22

    A few from the first page of hits:

    It’s Not Easy Being Green: Wind Energy and a Declining Grassland Bird
    CL Pruett, MA Patten, DH Wolfe – BioScience, 2009 – Univ California Press Keywords: lesser prairie-chicken. wind farm. habitat loss. connectivity. conservation …
    http://caliber.ucpress.net/doi/abs/10.1525/bio.2009.59.3.10

    Candidate Conservation Agreement for the Lesser Prairie-Chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) … fws.gov … grassland habitats include the construction of the infrastructure associated with oil and gas extraction and wind farm development….
    http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/Documents/R2ES/LPCandSDL_FINAL_CCA-CCAA_20081208_signed.pdf

    http://www.suttoncenter.org/chickens.html
    http://www.suttoncenter.org/LPCH.html
    http://www.suttoncenter.org/images/GPCHjs5s.jpg
    http://www.suttoncenter.org/newsletter%20Summer%202006.pdf

    “… We also know that a substantial number of prairie-chickens die from collisions with fences and power lines. Extrapolating what we do know about mortality causes and avoidance of structures leads to the assumption that prairie-chickens could suffer tremendously from these latest prairie invaders [oil, gas, and wind developers], but, to what extent is not yet known. The time to try to gather that information is now. Even so, if the worst-case scenarios come true, by the time we have determined the effect, it may be too late.

    Another extra credit question: what is a “substantial number” given the population size?
    Compare to other species with similar counts, e.g. the right whale.

    For more on wind power and Lesser Prairie-Chickens in Oklahoma, check out the interactive wind/wildlife map at:

    http://www2.ocgi.okstate.edu/website/wildwind/viewer.htm

    That latter interactive map is a wonderful example of how to do this.

  4. 304
    MikeN says:

    >It doesn’t mean loss of the modern comforts that we have today.

    Well global warming has been used as the justification for car mileage mandates, which produces smaller cars, and more expensive ones.

  5. 305
    MikeN says:

    >In what way does nuclear power “clearly [have] a larger capacity” than wind power?

    Bart, I am basing this on the fact that nuclear currently generates 20% of US electricity, with higher percentages in France and Japan. Solar and wind are somewhere around 2%. There are clear limitations to solar and wind in terms of continuous production. So unless there is some amount of non-negligible carbon being produced in nuclear that I don’t know about, I think it is ridiculous for people who are talking about SAVING THE PLANET, to leave out nuclear as a recommendation. Maybe wind and solar are better technologies, but when compared to a scale of SAVING THE PLANET, the differences strike me as minor.

  6. 306
    LPF says:

    Thanks again to AvdB for more great contributions on the problems with David MacKay’s “Hot Air” book.

    Rejecting the contrived numbers at the start of Chapter 18 in the book, here’s the real story. Current UK power consumption is of the order of 98kWh/d/p (putting aside the 27kWh/d/p lost due to inefficient thermal plant), not the scary 195kWh/d/p presented at the start of Chapter 18, which claims to show that we can’t live on renewables alone. You’ll find that figure of 98hWh/d/p in the chart tucked away on p116, away from where one might start stacking it up against the renewable resources.

    And we waste a large part of that 98kWh/d/p. As AvDB says, our use of energy in cars is currently extremely energy inefficient. Our space heating is hopeless. 50kWh/d/p is a valid and reasonable forecast for an achievable average energy consumption which doesn’t harm our average lifestyle at all.

    And now to Britain’s technical potential for renewable resources. Onshore wind on its own, has greater potential than that 50kWh/d/p. As is the offshore wind resource alone; and so is the PV resource alone; each of those using currently available technologies. Other renewables can make significant contributions too. So, can Britain live on renewables? Yes, of course we can, easily: we already have many ways to smooth out variability of renewable power, and more are under development all the time.

  7. 307
    Mark Cunnington says:

    Now decide what will happen if a car is plugged in to whatever grid it can reach. Answer, (now and for many years to come): Additional coal will be burned. Yes, there will be a transition time where sources are adjusted and planned for newly noted effects, but as long as the economic choice is coal, coal will be chosen. The renewable source was fully used immediately, so the plug-in car has a separate impact when it arrives. Its no good to try and pretend there is a connection.

    Actually, the medium-short term solution is solar powered hybrid cars. As I mentioned in a previous post, they could go 30 or 40 km a day simply from being parked in the sun, obviously depending on the weather. It requires no new technology, it all exists now. All it takes is someone to have the inclination to put the different technologies together in a novel way, and to mass produce them so the cost comes down. The problem is, as we all know, big business is very slow to innovate, out of both bureaucratic inefficiency and a desire to maintain the status quo. You can be sure that Tesla will be doing this on its cars in the next few years.

    The 2010 Prius has an option for a roof mounted, bolt-on type solar panel but this will only be used for running a ventilation fan, for some strange obscure reason about it giving off EM interference if it charges the batteries (?!). Anyways, the point is, this technology is here now and could be incorporated meaningfully in a new car within a couple years.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_vehicle

  8. 308
    Hank Roberts says:

    > *pursuit* of money … the root …

    Well, no. The translations ( http://bible.cc/1_timothy/6-10.htm ) agree the original caution is against greedy love, hoarding, holding onto, taking out of circulation. C.f. the “credit freeze.”

    Catch-and-release pursuit is commendable. We badly need more people good at pursuing, earning, and managing the flow of money to make needed changes.

  9. 309
    Phil Scadden says:

    Anne, I cannot reconcile your 20km/p/d with actual retail fuel in UK. Even with .8kWh/km it must be 30. In NZ it closer to 40km/p/d.

    As for solar. For NZ I am working on average of 185W/m2 over a day on optimially inclined collector. This is based actual flat surface figures on many sites averaged over many years. I convert to inclined plane no.s by Hottel model. For 10m2 I get 8-9kWh per day (.185*24*10*.2) I compared this to actual installed systems and they get about 5kWh/d but these are not 20% efficient panels. 10m2 per person looks feasible. Okay, they would power the car but nothing else. However, average household electricity usage here is 11kWh/p/d using census figures for population and persons per dwelling.

    I agree that I think MacKay would have been better to have done calcs for AVERAGE person – that is what I did when I repeated for NZ.

    Available wind. MacKay is accused of underestimating renewables but I note that he get far more than any engineering study has found.

    For wind in NZ, I used study commissioned for “Transition to renewables” study. It was only interested in land outside parks, buffered by 500km from urban and structures, below 1500m, less than 10 deg (from memory) slope, and only wind > 8m/s (NZ is in Roaring 40s after all). It also assumed only 50% of landowners were willing. Existing 2MW and 3MW turbine technology was assumed. It still only came to 33kWh/p/d for 4m people. If you are going to contest the figures, then you need to have some proper engineering studies to back efficiency and availability. Too much wind stops turbines too.

  10. 310
    Rafael Gomez-Sjoberg says:

    Given the heated discussion taking place here about the pros/cons of nuclear power, here are two very useful sources of info on the subject:

    A very good article by a Caltech professor on the global energy needs:
    http://pr.caltech.edu/periodicals/EandS/articles/LXX2/powering.pdf

    A round table discussion organized by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to discuss the need for and pros/cons of increased reliance on nuclear power:
    http://www.thebulletin.org/web-edition/roundtables/nuclear-power-and-climate-change

    Both are highly recommended reading.

  11. 311
    MikeN says:

    Hybrid cars generally cost thousands of dollars more than a non-hybrid, plus the largest maker of hybrids, GM, is going into bankruptcy/government receivership. Nevertheless we’ll see how these solar hybrids develop, and if they are practical cars or another tiny box like the Prius. I’m glad neither you or any of the other commenters here said anything about plugin cars sending power back to the grid.

  12. 312
    EL says:

    252 – I’m not a PR person, thank you =P

    Some solutions could bring harm to the underprivileged as much or more as climate change. More expensive technologies become more challenging for common people to furnish. Renewable technology increases the price of energy, and the technology also effects the price of food, manufactured items, and other commodities because manufactures will pass the higher cost of energy to consumers; therefore, the impact could be quite severe for a majority of society. People, who are not considering the economic impacts, are being credulous.

    255 –Did a search at Google, first link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hdi4onAQBWQ

    271 – Economic impacts of energy cannot be measured by utility bills alone because goods and services also increase in price. The role of energy in economics is well established and supported by most economist.

    273 – I believe the best solution for the time being is to promote science education and research.

    285 – Inventors called trolls? I think you are referring to software patents, and troll is a proper definition for them. Software patents are completely out of control, and they desperately need to be invalidated out of the system altogether. Hopefully, RE-Bilski will open up the doors for that process to occur. These people do not innovate, but they patent mathematics. If programmers write a program of modest size, they violate many patents. I’m sure real climate is violating a patent of some form, and every user here is likely infringing on someones patent as well.

    Anyway, research is the way out of this mess. We need science education promoted in colleges and high schools, and we need more funding in various science based research.

    295 – Only in regards to software.

  13. 313

    Mark #300 and EL #311 — Seems to me your beef with the US patent system is software patents being out of control. Business method patents are also an egregious abuse. I like the open source model for software, which is based on incentives other than money, but eating and rent, etc. can’t be ignored. It takes a lot of work and expense to develop new technology, even just to file a patent application.

    Those aggrieved by abusive monopolies can always make their case for compulsory licensing, but the solution should not be reaping where you have not sown, and especially not grinding the poor inventor into the dust with your team of litigators so you can buy a new boat instead of pay royalties.

    I hope there is some way to excise the diseased tissue and restore vigor to the patent system, at least as applied to innovation in clean power.

  14. 314
    Doug Bostrom says:

    #311 EL:

    “Some solutions could bring harm to the underprivileged as much or more as climate change. More expensive technologies become more challenging for common people to furnish. Renewable technology increases the price of energy, and the technology also effects the price of food, manufactured items, and other commodities because manufactures will pass the higher cost of energy to consumers; therefore, the impact could be quite severe for a majority of society. People, who are not considering the economic impacts, are being credulous.”

    “Some”, “more expensive technologies”, “renewable”;.

    Excellent news here: actual nouns are free, no matter what they describe! Can you supply any specific examples of what you’re talking about?

    #304 MikeN:

    Not to get all personal but how large –are– you? Ever sat in a Prius? I’m 6’2″ and there are inches over my head in one of those, plenty of leg room front and back. Width might be a different issue; I only take up one horizontal space so I can’t comment on that.

  15. 315
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Mike N., Actually I am fairly well disposed toward nuclear power. However, it is naive to ignore the waste problem and the potential for proliferation. Nuclear power may be necessary, but it shouldn’t be a reluctant option unless we can resolve those two issues. Solar and wind are progressing at prodigious rates–maybe even fast enough to save our tuckuses. It is a mistake to look at a screen-capture and think you understand how the whole movie will play out.

  16. 316
    Hank Roberts says:

    > patent troll
    It’s a technique, used with any kind of patent, not just software:
    http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1153299926232

  17. 317
    Phil Scadden says:

    “Some solutions will harm the underprivileged”. This has to worst reason for inaction known. Climate change will REALLY harm many of the world’s underprivileged. It already is. If you are so concerned about the world’s poor, then I think it would be only fair if the rich countries (who created the mess) went cold turkey on carbon so the poor still can use cheap fossil fuel.

  18. 318
    Rod B says:

    A basic question that confuses me (and I admit I haven’t read the referenced papers or the latest posts here): why is the total emitted carbon (CO2) the key parameter and not the atmospheric concentration? Is it because there is a direct relationship between the two? If so, why make the distinction? Or does it somehow relate to some tipping point as opposed to general warming? If we pump X gigatonnes into the air but for some reason the concentration changes little, are we still screwed? Am I missing something simple here? Or misreading it?

  19. 319
    MikeN says:

    >Ever sat in a Prius? I’m 6′2″ and there are inches over my head in one of those, plenty of leg room front and back

    I’ve actually never sat in one, so perhaps Toyota has made something deceptively good. However, the last part is mostly bogus as much larger cars do not provide plenty fo leg room front and back.

  20. 320
    Brian Dodge says:

    Re closing solar power plants, I found this
    http://ludb.clui.org/ex/i/CA4965/

    “The remote Carrizo Plain’s status as one of the sunniest places in the state was exploited by the solar power industry from 1983 to 1994. This was by far the largest photovoltaic array in the world, with 100,000 1’x 4′ photovoltaic arrays producing 5.2 megawatts at its peak. The plant was originally constructed by the Atlantic Richfield oil company (ARCO) in 1983.”
    “The Carrizo Solar Corporation, based in Albuquerque, NM, bought the two facilities from ARCO in 1990. But the price of oil never rose as was predicted, so the solar plant never became competitive with fossil fuel-based energy production (Carrizo sold its electricity to the local utility for between three and four cents a kilowatt-hour, while a minimum price of eight to ten cents a kilowatt-hour would be necessary in order for Carrizo to make a profit).”
    “…the used panels are still being resold throughout the world.”And presumably still converting photons to electricity.

    Maybe things would have turned out better if they had Enron market their power…?

  21. 321
    EL says:

    When people contemplate solutions to the problems of climate change, people need to analyze all facts before they consider institutionalizing a specific technology. Green technology is a very large business, and many people may attempt to sell snake oil to frightened people. Companies conceal weakness and deficiencies of their technology, and they attack critical analysis through disinformation and fear mongering. Some scientist only aggravate the problem because they exaggerate the abilities of models by proclaiming ties of global warming to a specific natural disaster; as a result, some people are accepting atrocious technology that proclaims the end of global warming. While climate change is important to address, people should take the time to analyze any proposition for a solution.

    Since wind turbine technology is often advocated by energy groups as a potential solution to global warming, people need to analyze the technology for downsides, so they can make educated decisions concerning the technology. The benefit of wind turbines is due to their carbon footprint. Wind turbines take kinetic energy from the wind and convert it into electricity, and so wind turbines do not produce carbon emissions. Wind technology has a very fast turnaround time, and it can generate power after a few months of construction. Wind technology also uses smaller portions of land than other technologies. While wind turbine technology has benefits for global warming, it’s very important to look at the downsides of this technology as well.

    Wind turbines may pose health risks to people who live nearby due to low wave sound generation during turbine operation. The former dean of medicine at the University of Western Ontario, Robert McMurtry, has surveyed people who live nearby large wind turbines. The majority of the people surveyed suffered from a large variety of symptoms including headaches, depression, and sleeping disorders. Various effects have been reported from around the world by people who live close to large turbines.

    A good site for more information:
    http://www.windturbinesyndrome.com/

    Study on health effects of low spectrum sound:
    http://web.arch.usyd.edu.au/~densil/DESC9137/Fernandez.pdf

    Note: While the health effects of wind turbine technology is being analyzed, the effects of low sound generation on other species is not. More research is needed to study the effects of low frequency noise on the natural world.

    Wind turbine technology has problems working in a power grid. Wind power is a intermittent technology that requires the wind to be blowing within a certain range. If the wind does not blow at all, the wind turbines do not generate any electricity. If the wind blows too hard, the wind turbines have to be shutdown to keep from damaging the machine or overloading the power grid. Wind turbines are also sensitive to temperature, and they produce more electricity during cold weather as opposed to hot. The unreliability of turbine technology inhibits it from becoming the most dominate power source.

    A good article highlighting this issue:
    http://www.energypulse.net/centers/article/article_display.cfm?a_id=1332

    Wind technology is also very expensive to build because good locations often have logistical and transmission difficulties. In a report from the German Energy Agency, it was stated that money would be better spent on other methods such as energy efficiency to combat global warming. The report also states that the goal of energy efficiency can be met by installing modern filters at fossil fuel plants, and the cost would be a lot cheaper then wind power technology. The royal academy of engineers have also released reports detailing the problems associated with wind technology. The report claims that wind energy cost several times more then fossil fuel technology.

    Royal Academy of Engineering, The Cost of Generating Electricity
    http://www.nowap.co.uk/docs/generation_costs_report.pdf

    Article on German report:
    http://www.energybulletin.net/node/4527

    I think the bird issue is negligible with modern wind turbines; however, poor placement may effect some species.

  22. 322
    James says:

    MikeN Says (1 May 2009 at 4:35 PM):

    “>It doesn’t mean loss of the modern comforts that we have today.

    Well global warming has been used as the justification for car mileage mandates, which produces smaller cars, and more expensive ones.”

    But of course this is mainly a psychological problem: people – Americans especially – have been conditioned through relentless advertising to think of big cars that handle like waterbeds (a description stolen from Donald Westlake) as comfortable. I’ve never paid this advertising attention beyond the occasional sneer, and so have been quite comfortable in my small cars – ranging from an Austin-Healey Sprite though the current Honda Insight – and motorycles, and I dare say have had lots more fun driving them :-)

    The same thinking applies to much else: smaller and more efficient is quite often more comfortable. Consider the anti-McMansion as described in Sarah Susanka’s “The Not-So-Big House” http://www.notsobighouse.com/ as a well-thought-out instance.

    Mark Cunnington Says (1 May 2009 at 6:03 PM):

    “Actually, the medium-short term solution is solar powered hybrid cars. As I mentioned in a previous post, they could go 30 or 40 km a day simply from being parked in the sun, obviously depending on the weather.”

    This oft-mentioned idea is an outstanding example of not troubling to think through the implications. Start with basics: solar cell production capacity is limited, the cells are expensive. So why do you want to put them on a car, where they will seldom be optimally oriented towards the sun (and so generate much less than their rated power), and will reduce the car’s efficiency by adding weight & drag? Far better to leave the cells at home, on the roof, generating power whenever the sun’s shining and feeding that power to the grid…

  23. 323
    James says:

    Jim Bullis, Miastrada Co. Says (1 May 2009 at 4:15 PM):

    “Now decide what will happen if a car is plugged in to whatever grid it can reach. Answer, (now and for many years to come): Additional coal will be burned.”

    Only half the story, though. Assume I’ve replaced my car with a new plug-in hybrid, and to eliminate extraneous factors assume that they’re otherwise identical – same weight, CdA, rolling resistance, &c. I’ve replaced an energy path of oil well – oil tanker or pipeline – refinery – tank truck – gas pump – IC engine with one that’s 0.7 * (coal mine – railroad – power station – transmission line – battery charging – electric motor). (The 0.7 factor is because about 20% of US generation is nuclear, 10% hydro & other renewables. Something should be allowed for natural gas, but I don’t know what off the top of my head.)

    To calculate the effect, you need to compute efficiency and CO2 production of the entire path. From what I’ve read, those who’ve tried to do this show the hybrid coming out ahead even with a 100% coal generation, and much better given the current generating mix. Some additional coal will be burned, but it’s more than offset by the gasoline not burned.

    And to go further, with PHEV or full EV cars on the road, any improvements to the electric grid will immediately & automatically be reflected in the transportation sector…

  24. 324
    EL says:

    315 – Hank it’s way more frequent in software. You honestly cannot do anything without violating one. For example, there is several patents on browser popup windows. So if your web site uses popups, your most likely violating a patent.

    I think it will eventually be corrected. There is too many powerful companies being screwed by software patents for it to continue indefinitely.

  25. 325
    EL says:

    Another important downside to wind power generation is energy demand. Wind energy may pick up when demand for energy is at its lowest, and it may stall when demand for energy is at its peak. This downside can be witnessed at Denmark. They have to export most of their wind power due to this problem.

  26. 326
    David Murray says:

    Anne van der Bom, LMF and Phil Scadden, #293, 306 and 309 continue the discussion of David MacKay’s results.

    The summary of the analysis in the MacKay work is perhaps best represented by table 18.1 (downloadable from the web). The car (40kWh/d/p) figure is derived from the electrical equivalent of the petrol used by motorcars. If the cars were operated solely on electricity (hybrids are the transitional technology) the usage would be 7.5 KWh/d/p. This is an energy saving of 32.5 kWh/d/p. In #293 the suggestion is that the number should be even smaller.

    On the energy available side on shore wind is given a rating of 20kWh/d/p. The analysis for this number is given in Technical Chapter B. Using that analysis with wind speeds of 12 m/s and a standard windmill (54 meter diameter blade) with standard spacing (a five diameter, 270 meter square) the output is 17 W/square meter. With 3% of the UK surface area used for wind energy this would provide 46 kWh/d/p. This is very close to the 50kWh/d/p mentioned by MLF in #306. This is an increased energy availability of 26 kWh/d/p.

    I have played with the numbers on off shore wind – but in broad terms usage of only the best off shore resources should at least allow the number given by MacKay to be doubled. His figures for shallow and deep offshore are 16 and 32 kWh/d/p. So perhaps the recalculation of these resources gives us another 48 kWh/d/p.

    MacKay’s table 18 has a SHORTFALL of 15kWh/d/p. If we adjust his figure for the calculations above the SURPLUS is 91.5 kWh/d/p.

    Phill Scadden, # 309, argues that the New Zealand on shore wind figure should be 33 kWh/d/p. But this figure is more equivalent to the figures given in table 18.7 of MacKay – where the big red crosses of Nimbyism and Nay saying have reduced the physical potential by ninety per cent to get the actual.

    There may be an air of unreality to the sorts of calculations above. They rest very heavily on assumptions about wind power technology and costs. To me they suggest that renewables are in with more than a fighting chance, particularly in the vast majority of countries with a more favourable endowment of resources per head than the United Kingdom. It is right that Nimbyism and Nay saying and prairie chickens and pristine desert be considered. There seems to be sufficient leeway in the system to give them a fair go, but not a veto.

  27. 327
    Mark says:

    re: 304: “Well global warming has been used as the justification for car mileage mandates, which produces smaller cars, and more expensive ones.”

    As has the price of fuel going up. As has clean-air acts (where the poor get all the deaths from smog but none of the driving-where-you-want from the cars making it).

    And please prove that smaller cars are more expensive and that their justification has been climate change.

    Smaller cars are cheaper and new technology is more expensive. Look at the price of DVD players 10 years ago compared to today.

  28. 328
    Mark says:

    Hank 303 speaks:

    “Mark wonders:
    > what it is about wind farms that is killing off
    > the little prairie chicken.
    > I’m still all agog.

    Seriously want to know? Well, someone will anyhow. It’s worth the exercise.

    Short answer: critically endangered species”

    Is this not cart-before-horse?

    What is it about wind farms that is killing off the little prairie chicken. That reason can’t be “it’s a critically endangered species”. That merely points to wind farms being a final straw. Yet what pushed them to being critically endangered? If they weren’t critically endangered, would wind farms be killing them off?

  29. 329
    ccpo says:

    Re: #231 Ray Ladbury
    QUOTE:
    Saying it is impossible is saying that ultimately civilization is temporary.
    /UNQUOTE

    Fortunately or unfortunately, it is. We tend to preserve at least some of the advances of the previous civilizations, so it’s not as if we start from scratch each time. But civilizations do fall, and this one will. The only way around that is to deny that we are ultimately part of the natural system and are immune to the various laws that govern the universe.

    Being afraid of this, or in denial of it, is far worse than acknowledging it because it shapes our responses towards those that fight against the natural laws.

    QUOTE:
    The defeatists are the true prophets of doom. They say we cannot change, even if we must.
    /UNQUOTE

    See above. “Must” has never solved the problem before. Based on the work of Diamond, I’d say “must” leads to ever greater mistakes as attempts to re-balance a badly out of balance system lead to over-corrections, much like a driver who has gone off the road and ends up flipping trying to get back on rather than just slowing down to a speed safe enough to get back on the road.

    QUOTE:
    In any case, there simply is no choice if we wish to convey civilization to future generations.
    /UNQUOTE

    What civilization? I think too few appreciate various limits to growth. Even when using terms like “sustainable,” too often the descriptions show the person really just means for a generation or so, either because that’s all they care to consider sustainable to mean, or because they don’t understand that sustainable means maintainable over many generations.

    This is where the real problem lies, and why reducing consumption and moving to a non-growth paradigm are so important. Our expectations, however, have developed during periods of abundance. All previous falls were geographically limited by local constraints. Now, we face global sonctraints, and most people don’t seem able to wrap their heads around this.

    This last observation is at least in part due to complexity, and it is complexity that is the center of collapse. There is too much information from too many sources for anyone one person to be able to synthesize it all. We are beholden on “experts” to tell us what is what, but even they do not agree, and some are not honest in the first place, or are so driven by their ideologies that they cannot see reality.

    Consensus, then, is elusive and perhaps impossible absent an undeniable sign (rather, **more** undeniable), which will be a point that is likely too late to avoid catastrophic changes.

    QUOTE:
    We have to develop a sustainable civilization. We will face unpalatable choices down the line.
    /UNQUOTE

    I wonder if you really mean this. Not for any particular reason except that so many think we can keep what we have now, just using “renewable” energy. But it won’t work. Regardless of efforts at efficiency, they always fail in the long run due to the inexorable march of growth. It is the growth paradigm itself that makes any changes not including a non-growth paradigm meaningless in the long run.

    Might we reach and mine the heavens someday? Sure. But not in the next 20 – 50 years.

    QUOTE:
    Personally, I don’t think we will be able to make it without resorting to nuclear power, geoengineering and serious reductions in consumption.
    /UNQUOTE

    The last I agree with. The first I agree with to only the degree that there are places where wind, solar and other solutions simply aren’t enough. Korea might be an example, having very few natural resources, a strong monsoon season, typhoons and a population density of nearly 400. (Food is still a BIG problem if there are global food shortages or collapse.)

    As for geoengineering, I think we have done enough of that for now. The unintended consequences are obvious enough. I believe advanced nations – especially the US – can reduce energy usage by nearly 50% overnight. It would entail changes in lifestyle, but only lifestyle. Such things as every family growing some of their own foods, all travel being via pooling or public transport (until systems can be shifted to all-electric public transport), simply spending our time in our own neighborhoods, conserving EVERYTHING, recycling EVERYTHING, etc…

    We don’t need more energy. WE run the world on what we have and could run the same civilization with half of that.

    Using natural farming, permaculture, etc., even some seemingly barren areas could be made to produce some food.

    To sum up: those changes that are not changes, just BAU, are wastes of time.

    Cheers

    ReCAPTCHA sas it all: worlds crisply

  30. 330

    #67 Anne van der Bom

    Much appreciation for the wind cost analysis reference. The report is loaded with detail, but stops short on discussion about what incentives are required to get private investment to get into the business. You mentioned something about 8cents per kWhr for Denmark, which we are not sure about how that applies. But progress has been made in my level of understanding. (And I have not fully swallowed the entire reference at hand, yet.)

    Apologies for reacting to your statement to the effect that electric motors are much more efficient than internal combustion engines. I now realize that was in context of your critique of another analysis. And I appreciate you recognizing how the problem is mangled in both directions, sometimes favoring the mobile heat engine approach and sometimes favoring electric motors.

    I have confronted the unwarranted exuberance for plug-ins and the absurd claims for these far more often than errors in the other direction. Much of this is so silly it has to be seen as not worthy of discussion. However, there is something going very wrong and anyone concerned about CO2 should take notice. Most recently we have had the “100 MPG” plug-in Hummer being announced. Also we have Bright Automotive with a “100 MPG” plug-in delivery van and the “100 MPG” Fisker plug-in. Preposterous though it is, these 100 MPG numbers are all calculated by ignoring the electric energy part altogether. The deception is that since it is miles per “gallon” that is all that need be included in the calculation.

    Still on the absurdities, we have electric operation of cars being claimed to be “zero emission.”

    These have to be national embarrassments for literate people. No physics required here.

    On the proper evaluation of electric motors, we have our Argonne National Laboratory and our Society of Automotive Engineers on record as calculating miles per gallon equivalent based on heat equivalent of electric energy at the plug, without recognition of the heat energy needed to make the electricity. I don’t expect everyone in the USA to know that energy does not convert the same in both directions, heat to electric and electic to heat. But I do expect physicists to show some outrage over this as standard American practice. So far, the silence is deafening. I get the impression that the academic world does not believe things could get so very wrong.

    Why should they care enough to think outside their various disciplines? Well if they care about global warming they should, because we are poised for a world of plug-in SUVs running on coal. There are real forces moving in this direction who have not a care at all for global CO2 levels. Political action is now happening which subsidizes this trend.

    Falsely portrayed CO2 emission benefits of plug-ins is a cover for shifting our much loved cars over to operate on coal. They all but say, “Efficiency can go hang.”

    You mention that the plug-in is necessary for transition to electric cars running on renewable energy sources. Please consider the possibility that the process will get stuck with huge inefficient plug-in cars running on coal.

  31. 331
    Douglas Wise says:

    Higher up the thread (#97), I tried to elicit informed criticism about fourth generation nuclear fission and failed. Instead, several respondents heaped abuse on the potential of nuclear power in general despite the fact that the great bulk of their criticisms related to the shortcomings of third generation reactors. I am already sufficiently persuaded that the latter are not sustainable but have been given the impression that, to all intents and purposes, IFRs and, possibly, LFTRs could provide us with very large amounts of energy for hundreds or even thousands of years.

    I agree with James (#277) that many here “seem to regard nuclear power with the same certainty that catholics show toward Original Sin”. For those who are unaware of the benefits claimed by Blees (P-resription For The Planet”), Brook (BraveNewClimate)and many others, I will attempt a brief summary and repeat my request for relevant informed criticism. My comments are confined to IFRs (S-Prism design by GE).

    1)Technology already developed.
    2)Can be powered with existing nuclear waste, sufficient to give hundreds of years of power with no further need for uranium mining.
    3)Solves existing nuclear waste problem, thus saving $ billions set aside for no longer needed storage facilities.
    4)Safer than current designs and includes passive safety features.
    5)Reasonably proliferation resistant as waste from reactor reprocessed on site without purifying plutonium (cf current Purex system).
    6)Could be factory built and rolled out in 3 years after regulatory approval of basic design.
    7)Would produce power more cheaply than coal and thus direct replacement for coal.

    I would suggest that, should these claims be valid (and they seem to have impressed Dr Hansen), it would seem irresponsible not to encourage the very rapid construction of a full scale demonstration reactor with its associated reprocessing facility so that the claims could either be validated or dismissed. Are the anti-nuclear respondents here so closed minded that they would campaign against even taking this first and cautious first step? Surely the theoretical risk of accidents (catastrophes if you like) associated with civil nuclear reactors are on an insignificant scale relative to the risks faced by humanity by running out of energy. I would recommend Paul Chefurka’s text cited by Pete Best (#232) should anyone have have trouble with my relative risk assessment.

  32. 332
    pete best says:

    Re #291, yes, that is very true (after reading more data) that its around 5-7 GWh per annum per turbine but the bigger they are the larger the space between them and hence the amount of land required yields not more energy (or a little more as the turbines are built higher.

    It looks like it requires between 660-1000 turbines per 2 GW of capacity. The USA is a massive place with lots of land to use up I am sure but here in the UK all of these 350 feet high turbines are causing issues onshore but offshore should not pose a problem. That 2 GW is 1.5% of electricity so its going to need to be 10x for 15% which is the target or around 15000 or 10000 turbines. Its no small number regardless of the arguments.

    http://www.bwea.com/pdf/briefings/ukwindstatusJan07.pdf

    No slack in the system for cars running on electricity either. I have spoken to physics guys about the electric motor argument and they have stated that in the UK we use around 2 mbpd of oil and a barrel contains around 42 gallons and hence at 40 KWh per gallon thats 1680 KWh per barrel x 2 million = 3.3 billion KWh per day of additional electricity or if we do as you say and lets say we need only 25% of that due to the efficiency of the electric motor that is around 750 million KWh a day or 750 GWh a day!

    I may have got by calculations wrong here because it seems like a unusual amount of energy, however I believe that oil is used in droves globally, 85 Mbpd which is not replaceable by anything.

    Its as I say from reading up on energy use, its a staggering issue in relation to switching energy types (petrol to electricity) and its extremely problematic. The USA uses 20 Mbpd of oil so go figure what they would need. A lot of coal, a lot of solar, a lot of wind and a lot of nuclear to keep their fleet of cars going even if the electric engine overall was 75% more efficient that petrol which it is not once it is generated at source and factored in.

    http://www.paulchefurka.ca/WEAP2/WEAP2.html

    This article tells it all about energy needs and out ability to expand it for all. Its a massive ask and a lot of turbines, millions required globally.

  33. 333

    EL writes:

    California, for example, experienced a heat wave that caused wind power to drop to an average of 4% capacity for 7 days. Think about 7 days without power, and you will see why this will not be the main solution.

    By any chance was the sun out during that heat wave?

  34. 334

    John H. writes:

    Charles Munger said it is nearly demented to adopt cap and trade policies during this ecoinomic crisis.
    Along with many other experts.
    The underprivileged and disadvantaged are going to be most affected by negative effects of cap and trade. Thus it is incumbent on we who are more fortunate to take the lead in stopping this policy. Why would we add to their burden of suffering if we have a choice?

    Who is Munger and why should I care what he says? Didn’t they say the same thing about cap-and-trade during the ’80s when it was being proposed to deal with sulfate emissions? And yet it worked just fine. I don’t accept your belief that cap-and-trade will somehow hurt the economy. It won’t.

  35. 335

    James says:

    I’d far rather live with the aftereffects of a “worse than worse case” nuclear accident like this http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4923342.stm than what a few of those concentrating solar plants would do to the Mojave.

    That says it all about your point of view, I think.

  36. 336
    Anne van der Bom says:

    Phil Scadden
    1 May 2009 at 6:35 PM

    See the Department for Transport web site. The data is in this document.

    Table 9.4 states the number of vehicles registered in Great Britain in 2007 as slightly more than 30 million. Table 9.17 shows the average mileage to be 8,870 miles per year. The British population is, I believe, now counting 60 million souls. You can do the math.

  37. 337
    Douglas Wise says:

    Anne van der Bom.

    Your conspiracy theory that Professor MacKay deliberately sets out to rubbish renewable energy is paranoid. (Read the Nathan Lewis paper cited by Rafael Gomez-Sjoberg (#310). In essence, he is saying much the same as MacKay.) You may not agree with everything in the book – FWIW I think he may have underestimated the potential of fast fission – but this doesn’t detract from the essential message, namely that we face huge but not necessarily insurmountable problems and that simplistic solutions which ignore scaling and economic realities are unhelpful.

    You suggest that renewables alone can solve the UK’s looming power problems. I am a great supporter of onshore wind but have misgivings over offshore wind, tide and wave energy, at least in the short term, on economic grounds. If wind can do it all, why do you think the UK government – like the German – has seen fit to authorise construction of new coal plants, attempting to maintain its green credentials by gambling that CCS will shortly become technologically possible and economically affordable? I would prefer, should gambling be necessary, to place my bet on 4th generation fission power. However, given the stakes, the sensible approach is to keep an open mind and give all competing technologies a chance to show their paces.

    I have initiated a wind farm proposal for a local site in England. In discussion with the potential developer – the largest in the UK – I was told that wind energy could not compete on a level playing field with energy from a newly built coal plant without CCS (despite what some have stated here). I would like to ask Anne why she thinks that electric power in France is cheaper than elsewhere in Europe and whether this may have anything to do with its 80% nuclear origin.

  38. 338

    EL writes:

    Renewable technology increases the price of energy,

    By definition?

    How do you deal with the fact that wind electricity is competitive with fossil fuel and nuclear electricity NOW and is still coming down?

  39. 339
    Andy Simpson says:

    Re: #306

    LPF says:
    “Rejecting the contrived numbers at the start of Chapter 18 in the book, here’s the real story. Current UK power consumption is of the order of 98kWh/d/p (putting aside the 27kWh/d/p lost due to inefficient thermal plant), not the scary 195kWh/d/p presented at the start of Chapter 18, which claims to show that we can’t live on renewables alone. You’ll find that figure of 98hWh/d/p in the chart tucked away on p116, away from where one might start stacking it up against the renewable resources.”

    The difference between the two totals (125kWhp/d/p and 195kWhp/d/p) is identified on p116 – for example the lower total excludes embodied energy in imported goods.

    I think it would be polite to read at least the pages you refer to, if not the whole book before criticising it.

  40. 340
    David Stoney says:

    Re #72, #80, and #108
    David, Thanks for your comment. I was just picking a few nits from your article. However to say, as you did, that less-rich countries will pay the cost of fossil energy decades from now and imply that rich countries won’t is very misleading. You are probably aware of the recent Gallup pole that found that while 90% of Americans felt that actions to lessen global warming were appropriate, only 32% thought that global warming would impact them personally. (See http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2009/04/how-many-americans-believe-tha.html for recent discussion of the poll results.)

    Alexandre, yes global warming is an equal opportunity destroyer and will eventually effect almost everyone on the planet.

    Theo Hopkins, yes my comment was very much tongue in cheek. A 1-2 m sea level rise this century, which sadly looks to already be built into the climate system, will be catastrophic for the US, regardless of its supposed wealth. Nevertheless, what we must work for now is to prevent a civilization-destroying 10 (or more) meters of sea level rise in the next few hundred years.

    Keep up the good work.

  41. 341
    Anne van der Bom says:

    Phil Scadden
    1 May 2009 at 6:35 PM

    10m2 per person looks feasible. Okay, they would power the car but nothing else.

    Why is only 10m² feasible? What is the average number of people per house(hold) in NZ? What is the average roof area? I think in the not too distant future solar cells will be so cheap, you can easily use them on east and west facing roofs too, powering a lot of the other stuff besides the car.

    However, average household electricity usage here is 11kWh/p/d using census figures for population and persons per dwelling.

    The Netherlands is around 10 kWh/d per household, similar to NZ.

    Available wind. MacKay is accused of underestimating renewables but I note that he get far more than any engineering study has found.

    Last december locations were suggested for the realisation of 6 GW offshore wind in the North Sea, off the coast of Zeeland and Noord-Holland, totaling around 1500 km². For 4 kWh/d of offshore wind (MacKay’s estimate on page 109), Britain would need ~30 GW, or five times that area. If The Netherlands can find that area in their tiny patch of ocean, surely Great Britain can find it along their extensive coastline?

    Do you have a reference to such an engineering study?

    I think his estimate of 3 kWh/d onshore wind seems reasonable. That would require ~25 GW of capacity, a little less than Germany currently has. Onshore wind in Germany is saturating. Germany is bigger than Britain, but having a long coastline, I am sure Britain has more favourable locations.

    It still only came to 33kWh/p/d for 4m people.

    If I am not mistaken, total consumption in NZ is 40 TWh/year. 33 kWh/d * 4 million * 365 = 48 TWh/year. So even with those stringent limitations (sure about the 500 km buffer from urban areas??) that is more than NZ currently needs.

    Too much wind stops turbines too.

    That will very rarely happen with modern turbines. And when it happens, the chance of an entire country ‘going black’ is virtually zero. It will be more like some wind farms here and there going into safe mode and coming back online as the storm front passes over the country. There are also protocols for the windfarm operators to preventively and gradually shut off wind turbines in such a case, so no large amounts of power will be suddenly and unexpectedly lost.

  42. 342
    Andy Simpson says:

    Re #293:
    Referring to “Sustainable Energy without the hot air”
    AvB Says:
    “I will gladly explain. What I find misleading is that this information is not used in your supply vs demand stacks. That stack very prominently shows a 40 kWh per day block for car use, when it acutally is 3.3 kWh.”

    In the demand side stack, the book shows what the current energy use is. The book also discusses (quoting from page 23) “how susceptible to modification it is”.

    Since the good people of the UK are not all driving round in electric vehicles, then your figure of 3.3 kWh isn’t the right figure to use.

    When the book moves on to discuss better transport options its clearly pointed out that electric vehicles use 1/5 the energy of their fossil-powered counterparts. Much of the remaining discrepancy could be down to the book’s use of mileage for a level of consumption that people aspire to, rather than the mathematical mean mileage. The rationale for this approach is detailed in the book.

    The sources for the numbers in the book are clearly identified, the book itself is great to read (really) – the only caution I’d give is that it may challenge some preconceptions.

  43. 343
    EL says:

    333 – What does the sun have to do with wind power?

    338 – Wind power competitive to fossil fuel technology? Perhaps after fossil fuels are taxed and taxed more then taxed again. You have to have backup technologies to kick in should the wind stop blowing. Are you going to factor that into the cost? How about the infrastructure or the lack of? I’ve been watching the Pickens wind farm cost estimate in Texas increase every other month. It was at 4 or 5 billion… then 7-8… now it’s 10. That price doesn’t include transmission costs. The price keeps going up on turbines because the demand is increasing faster then supply. A infrastructure has to be built just to make the wind turbines.

  44. 344
    sidd says:

    For the nuclear engineers here: Is any significant industrial interest in Rubbia’s Accelerator Based Reactor ?

  45. 345
    Anne van der Bom says:

    Douglas Wise
    2 May 2009 at 6:05 AM

    I thought a conspiracy theory requires more than one person. Prof. MacKay seems to be acting alone :-).

    Professor MacKay deliberately sets out to rubbish renewable energy…namely that we face huge but not necessarily insurmountable problems…

    I guess that is then what we disagree about, since the figure on page 109 pretty much eliminates all possible renewable sources without real arguments or thorough analysis, leaving the reader with the impression that renewables are only capable of generating 15 kWh/d of the necessary 125 kWh. I have tried to show that that is not a reasonable assumption. More because of the 125 figure than the 15.

    I was told that wind energy could not compete on a level playing field with energy from a newly built coal plant without CCS,

    You must ask yourself if in the current situation a coal plant without properly accounting for the externalized cost of its CO2 emissions is a level playing field.

    I would like to ask Anne why she thinks that electric power in France is cheaper than elsewhere in Europe and whether this may have anything to do with its 80% nuclear origin

    It might have something to do with the fact that the majority of those nuclear plants were built long time ago when nuclear power was still deemed of strategic importance. I suspect many billions of government subsidies have gone into building those.

    My position on nuclear is based on what I see NOW. I am not against nuclear, but looking at the plants currently under construction and their escalating cost and slipping schedules, I have pretty much lost faith in the nuclear industry to make any noticeable contribution towards solving this problem. As for the fast breeder reactors, where’s the meat? Can you give a realistic estimate of when the first one could start delivering its clean kWh’s?

  46. 346
    Anne van der Bom says:

    pete best
    2 May 2009 at 5:22 AM

    I have spoken to physics guys about the electric motor argument and they have stated that in the UK we use around 2 mbpd of oil and a barrel contains around 42 gallons and hence at 40 KWh per gallon thats 1680 KWh per barrel x 2 million = 3.3 billion KWh per day of additional electricity or if we do as you say and lets say we need only 25% of that due to the efficiency of the electric motor that is around 750 million KWh a day or 750 GWh a day!

    I think my calculation is more reliable. I start of with the amount of cars in Britain (30 million) and multiply that by the number of km traveled per day (8870*1.6/365 = 39). That gives me a number of vehicle miles traveled of 1.17 billion. Divide by 6 (real world mileage of an electric car in km/kWh) and the result is 200 million kWh = 200 GWh. There are a few things that might explain the difference:
    – Not all oil is used for cars.
    – Not all oil for road transport is for private motor vehicles. Trucks and buses and aviation are excluded. Off the top of my head: a rough estimate would be that the number would increase by 50% if all road transport were included.
    – There are losses when refining oil to produce petrol.

    To put it in perspective, and again off the top of my head, total electricity consumption in GB is around 500 TWh per year, or 1400 GWh per day.

  47. 347
    Nick Gotts says:

    “My comments are confined to IFRs (S-Prism design by GE).

    1)Technology already developed.” – Douglas Wise

    Up to a point, Lord Copper. So far as I can discover, this technology has got no further than a prototype; the full fuel cycle has never been tested. Nuclear enthusiasts usually have a pet version of the technology which is going to solve all the problems and show those dirty hippies how wrong they have been – but taking any two nuclear enthusiasts at random, the chances of them favouring the same version are small.

  48. 348
    MikeN says:

    Mark, all true. Smaller cars are more expensive if equipped with hybrids, plus under a global warming regime, you would have to pay more money for the same size car. Higher fuel mandates would create even smaller cars like what Europe has. Just because other laws create incentives for buying smaller cars doesn’t excuse creating more laws.

  49. 349
    Anne van der Bom says:

    Andy Simpson
    2 May 2009 at 8:45 AM

    In the demand side stack, the book shows what the current energy use is. The book also discusses (quoting from page 23) “how susceptible to modification it is”.

    I think this has nothing to do with any modification, but all with an accurate assessment of the expected reality a few decades into the future.

    Since the good people of the UK are not all driving round in electric vehicles, then your figure of 3.3 kWh isn’t the right figure to use.

    Since the 20 kWh/d of wind power is also not currently there, that is not a problem. This book is tries to look into the future. Electric cars are being developed now and will come on to the market in the coming decade. Allow me to ask you a question in return: How would you suggest the good people of the UK are fill up their petrol cars with electricity from wind?

    The only way the renewable scenario is going to work is with an electrification of almost everything, including cars. Without properly accounting for that and honestly factoring in the real world consumption of such electric car, any scenario is useless.

    When the book moves on to discuss better transport options its clearly pointed out that electric vehicles use 1/5 the energy of their fossil-powered counterparts.

    Yes, later in the book he sort of accounts for the improvement in efficiency due to electrification. See page 204. But he only applies an improvement of 2x not the 5x he suggests (and I too) is realistic. Ask yourself why. He is not applying his own data to his calculations.

  50. 350
    J. Bob says:

    Gavin- What the Fourier analysis gives you is what freq. are present in a data sample, and their strength. So if I look at the spectral graph of the sunspots and temp anomalies ( in my case East England) and I see spikes close to temp variations and sunspot activity, I think it would be reasonable to look if there was a correlation. And from the graphs I have posted, there appears to be a correlation in the ~10 & ~50 year periods. In fact your friends over at WUWT have a interesting debate on that very topic. Here is one graph from Leif Svalgaard
    http://www.leif.org/research/FFT-Power-Spectrum-SSN-1700-2008.png
    Note (from Leif): that there are many curves. Since the sunspot cycle observations do not extend infinitely long in time there are going to be ‘end-effects’. We can get a handle of how disturbing they are by computing the FFT over the full interval, then over the full interval minus one year, then minus two years, etc [up to 20 years for this example]

    Again the ~10 & ~50 years periods show up. Why the correlation is present, I don’t know, we are dealing with two huge non-linear systems (sun & earth). But after looking at my figure where the temp is filtered out above ~0.02 cycles/year, that shows a oscillation in the 50 year range, which we seem to be going through.
    http://www.imagenerd.com/uploads/t_est_05-NVRm1.gif

    I think it’s a better one then Tamino’s charts in his East England analysis. He cuts his off before 2000, while mine reflect the current peaking or downturn in global temperature.

    As far as solar variability in this frequency band, being “tiny”. Those are pretty good size sunspot magnitudes in those time periods, or freq. ( not freq. in the electromagnetic spectrum). Also we have just begun to get good data about solar radiation in the last 20 or so years.