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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. 251
    David B. Benson says:

    Al Bundy @245 — Natural gas comes out of the ground. Period. There are other sources of methane, not quite the same. An example is about half of the so-called biogas produced during waste water management.

  2. 252
    David B. Benson says:

    zebra @239 — ERCOT burns natural gas during periods with low wind power generation, not low carbon. That illustrates the problem of using weather dependent resources.

  3. 253
    Mr. Know It All says:

    232 – Kevin M
    “But actually, Portland General Electric does have 46 MW of solar online:”

    OK, sounds like maybe 10% of that 46 MW may serve Portland homes, some goes to street lights, but most of it is in Lake and Yamhill Counties – doubt any of that make it to Portland. Let’s be generous and guesstimate 10 MW out of the PGE budget of 3902 MW goes to Portland. Thus, I’m wrong, PDX gets a very small amount of power from utility solar. ;)

    I do freely admit that roof-top grid tied solar is popular here; you’d have to look at Google Earth to get a guesstimate for % of homes with it; wild guess 5%. When you look at GE in southern Cal, you have to realize that a lot of their roof-top solar is for pool heating, thus need to look carefully.

    234 – BPL
    “BPL: Because the government is subsidizing fossil fuels, and in places like Oklahoma and Florida, actively blocking renewables. That’s why.”

    237 Ray: “First and foremost, it wouldn’t be enough. ”

    MKIA: My neighbor drives a jacked-up monster SUV with a bumper sticker “I’m cancelling out your Prius”. Doesn’t mean I can’t ride my bicycle – even if the government was subsidizing his gas, and even if Obama bought his SUV for him in the cash for clunkers program, right? I can make a difference even if he doesn’t. If those making noise about AGW stopped whining and got to work they could make a difference with no government help. It’d be a start. It might catch on. ;)

    237 – Ray
    “Government is not necessarily the enemy.”

    Did not say it was, but you do not need it to stop FF use. Just takes the willpower to git ‘er done. Not much willpower, apparently. Settlers had little help from government when they ventured into the wilderness to settle a harsh land, particularly in the early days. Don’t wait for the government. Just do it.

    238 – Astringent: “I’m no, however, entirely clear what I as an individual, can do, for instance if my neighbor decides to open a coal mine. ”

    MKIA: Don’t buy his coal!

    247 – nigelj
    “Mr KIA thinks government is the ‘enemy’.”

    Not necessarily, but the US government is getting close to that point with their nanny-state meddling in every aspect of our lives. Gov’t is the enemy in that it is destroying our currency which may become a huge problem for us and for you. It is our enemy I guess on the defense of our borders in that they don’t adequately defend our borders and haven’t for years; and many US states and cities are enemies of citizens on that front as well. And the D party has in the past 3 years come out as openly socialist/communist and that will destroy us eventually if they are not defeated. Also, government schools are destroying the nation by dumbing-down kids – this is a serious problem – yes there are some exceptions. So, in some respects they are our enemy. Sad, but we’re working to MAGA. ;)

  4. 254
    Al Bundy says:

    EP: Greta’s blame is misplaced. The rapid rise does not come from the West; it comes from the BRICs and increasingly the Third World

    AB: Bull. The USA and its Mideast co-conspirators spew way way way more CO2 per capita than the third world. Buy a clue.

  5. 255
    Killian says:

    Again, #simplicity, #TEK, #Permaculture:

    A scholarly take on simpler living: Organic farmers ‘have better mental health’ (and so do aborigine peoples.)

  6. 256
    zebra says:

    #238 Astringent,

    “proper pioneer spirit…calling him out at high noon with six-guns”

    No, the proper pioneer spirit would be shooting in the back, or selling him smallpox-infected blankets.

    As with many of these endlessly silly “debates”, the problem is that both Right And Left ignore reality and history in favor of shallow moralizing and posturing. And “government” means whatever people want it to mean, as is convenient at the moment.

    Chimps commit genocide to control resources. Humans commit genocide to control resources.
    Ants and termites build farms and cities. Humans build farms and cities.

    There are rules that govern the behavior of individuals in each case, which are enforced through collective behavior.

    I know, this is all sciency stuff, and stuff those stuffy old economic and social philosophers wrote about…but I’m sure there’s probably some blogger just a click away who has an opinion about it, so let’s start the back and forth irrelevant quoting to resolve the issue.

  7. 257
    Ray Ladbury says:

    On the subject of the positive role gummint can play, I just want to put in a plug for Mr. Jason Isbell

    Take a listen. Good song, and if you are not familiar with the oeuvre of Jason Isbell, please correct this deficit at your earliest convenience.

  8. 258

    #248, E-P–

    E-P proceeds to hand-wave for a couple of hundred words, many of which were devoted to accusing me of hand-waving. Sigh. Very tedious.

    Recapping, he made the assertion that we need “weeks” of storage to have a renewable energy economy. The evidentiary basis of this was that the Bonneville Power Administration was shown to have a wind power “lull” in 2015 in which there was basically no production. Fine so far; obviously, that’s an important datum.

    But notice how far away it is from actually supporting his desired conclusion?

    1) No-one is proposing to build a wind-only energy economy. Notably, solar and wind mixes are more reliable than either pure solar or pure wind. But E-P (and others) resist the idea that solar can help, because “the Northwest is rainy and cloudy.” This has been amply rebutted; even in the rainy and cloudy coastal areas solar can be useful. But as I pointed out, BPA’s territory includes tens of thousands of square miles of arid steppe with an excellent solar resource. To me, it’s a sign of confirmation bias that these gentleman failed to think about the actual geography of the Northwest, and were content to rest on “everyone knows the Northwest is rainy and cloudy.” E-P went further, trying to claim that solar was useless in winter in this territory because “axial tilt.” Folks, Portland is at about 45 N–far south of, for instance, most of Germany (a solar PV ‘powerhouse.’) (Munich, Germany’s southernmost large city, is ~48 N.)

    2) Interconnections do matter, contra E-P, because, as BPL points out, they allow regions not experiencing ‘lulls’ to export their power to a region that is. BPA, in fact, makes its bones, historically, by exporting power to California; and part of the problem BPA has is reportedly that CA is now more self-sufficient due precisely to the huge ramp-up in solar PV there. To be sure, it’s a financial problem for BPA when this happens, and BPA *does* have its financial challenges. But with better interconnection, you may very well *not* need ‘storage for weeks’ because you can import the power. Note that this happens all the time, for myriads of reasons. There was also a period a couple of years back when Danish wind power was supporting the needs of Norway because hydro production had to be cut back. (IIRC and OTTOMH, but I can try to track references down later, if anybody cares.) Water shortages are bad for hydro–and, quite often, thermal plants, whether fossil or nuclear.

    I’d go on, but I’m out of time at the moment.

  9. 259

    E-P 248: We don’t have any working examples that don’t rely on e.g. hydropower as the implicit storage system, and that includes Denmark (heavily interconnected to Norway) and South Australia (heavily interconnected to the rest of the region).

    BPL: Denmark was making 20% of their electricity from wind twenty years ago. They are now making 50% of their electricity from wind. Numerical question for the student: If all their other electricity came from hydro, how much came from hydro in 2000 and how much is coming from hydro now? No cheating. You may use calculators.

  10. 260

    E-P 249: So all you have to do is overbuild by a factor of 4-10

    BPL: Okay with me.

  11. 261

    E-P 249: BPL shows just how dishonest he can be @227-229:

    BPL: Here’s a clue to E-P’s mentality. He has a certain worldview. It’s the only possible correct worldview. Anyone who disagrees… couldn’t honestly disagree, because he’s RIGHT. Therefore, if they claim to disagree, they must be lying. Q.E.D.

    This is the type of worldview that brought us the Witch Trials, the Spanish Inquisition, the GULAG, and Nazi Germany. Fortunately, E-P is not in a position of absolute power, so he is only a figure of amusement rather than one of dread.

  12. 262

    E-P 250: Government was pretty bad for quite some time, and arguably re-devolved into such despotism once major cities grew big enough to out-vote the productive hinterlands.

    BPL: Got that? The productive hinterlands are never the problem. It’s always those big-city liberals, like George III.

  13. 263

    Note, too, that E-P chides KM for not knowing history, then cites the Declaration of Independence’s grievances against George III–as if the writers of the Declaration weren’t citing George III, rather than the PM and parliament, to gather sympathy among their fellow Englightenment intellectuals, who were uniformly anti-royalist. Reading the declaration, you’d think George III was constantly engaged in sinister plots against the colonials. Reading primary literature, you’d know better.

  14. 264
    Al Bundy says:

    Ralph: winning World War 2

    AB: Uh, ww2 was lost. The USSR and Nazi Germany started the war. No entity besides the USSR gained diddly squat.

  15. 265
    Al Bundy says:

    EP: We’d need something like an orbital sunshade blocking many percent of incoming sunlight… and we have

    AB: incredibly cheap ways to block incoming sunlight. Stop lying. Truth works much better.

  16. 266
    Al Bundy says:

    EP: The outage extended from wind farms in near-coastal Washington and Oregon all the way to western Montana. It is highly doubtful that

    AB: anybody but a moron would claim that north/south transmission of energy is impossible.

  17. 267
    Al Bundy says:

    EP: . Interconnections are irrelevant, as the measurements included all BPA wind farms whether interconnected or not.

    AB: Nope. Boundaries are irrelevant. That you insist on them being Trumpian Walls speaks loudly.

  18. 268
    Al Bundy says:

    Kevin M: EP: military

    AB: perhaps you should look at a map and ponder economic power and the impossibility of invading a country protected by oceans. The US military is not just useless but a psychological harm. 95% of the USA’s military budget is detrimental.

  19. 269
    Al Bundy says:

    EP: all you have to do is overbuild by a factor of 4-10, plus whatever seasonal day-length variations do during your max-demand season, and you’re golden! (Never mind what this does to your EROI and thus LCOE.)

    AB: Why nevermind? Given that solar panels last far longer in cool and cloudy Conditions and financing is at close to 0% interest, why would one not gush at the opportunity to build solar in cool and shady places?

    You really ought to think things through holistically instead of pre-determining answers.

  20. 270
    Al Bundy says:

    mrkia: surprised if there were more than a very, very few people with 100% PV –

    AB: Who cares? Renewables are based on the premise of diversity. Your argument is exactly the same as,”Nobody lives on carbohydrates alone so we should reject all food that contains carbohydrates.”

    Please focus on your highest usage: to provide humor while adding nothing else of value.

  21. 271
    Al Bundy says:

    David BB brain: Al Bundy @245 — Natural gas comes out of the ground. Period. There are other sources of methane, not quite the same.

    AB: So you’re saying that said facilities can’t burn non-fossil methane?

    Do you have a scientific point? My point is that methane is methane and humans can choose the source of said methane. Apparently you disagree for some truly stupid and unknown reason.

    Ahh, I understand. You are focused on definitions that exclude any productive reality.Seriously, India gets their natural gas naturally. Why are you insisting on using truly dorky definitions?

  22. 272
    David B. Benson says:

    Al Bundy @271 — Could we try to be professional rather than just display ignorance? In this case geology and chemistry.

    Natural gas requires refining to remove sulfer compounds. At the same time the refinery removes the butane and propane. The result is typically 98% methane. But the 98% methane is still called natural gas in the distribution industry.

    Other sources of methane are often purer so in some localities the law has to be changed before introducing such into the natural gas pipelines.

    There is still more to be said about heating value. Go learn about it and contribute something.

  23. 273
    David B. Benson says:

    Solar power user grows in the Pacific Northwest, but it is due to installation by other than utilities:

  24. 274
    David B. Benson says:

    An example of a solar powered application without adequate backup for an extended cloudy period:

  25. 275
    Al Bundy says:

    David B Benson: professional

    AB: sigh. I was having fun being flip and silly. But if you insist…

    EP has noted how little leakage makes methane worse than coal. That applies regardless of the source. I’ve long maintained that closing coal power plants is crazy if they are replaced with a new gas unit. Construction and fifty years of operation for a new gas unit represents way more GHG than keeping the coal unit online for five or ten years while building a carbon-free replacement.

    And prematurely closing a nuke is dang near reprehensible.

    And spending bazillions of neuron-years designing fighter jets is an incredible waste of a seriously scarce resource. Those nerds could have been designing nukes and turbines and UHVDC and all the rest.

    There ya go. Professional, more or less.

    Oh, and solar radiation management may be cheap but it sounds about as attractive as gargling with bleach to kill the Coronavirus.

  26. 276
    Al Bundy says:

    DBB: An example of a solar powered application without adequate backup for an extended cloudy period

    AB: Yeah, stand-alone stuff needs good design. Having somebody running around with a generator to charge batteries burns time, money, and carbon. Someone has egg on their face.

  27. 277

    #263, BPL–

    Yes, E-P quoting the Founder’s complaint about George III was pretty funny.

    Oddly, he ‘forgot’ to quote the lede:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes…

  28. 278

    KIA ‘would be surprised if more than a very, very few people with 100% PV.’

    Setting aside thoughts about the value of anyone’s personal incredulity–the provocation of same seems to be quite a variable matter!–that raises an interesting question. What might that number be? So, the first data point to come to hand was this:

    It’s impossible to get an accurate count of exactly how many people in the United States live off-grid, but in 2006, Home Power magazine estimated that more than 180,000 homes were supplying their own power. Another 27,000 homes use solar and wind energy to offset their grid-connected life [source: USA Today].


    1) I don’t know if that exceeds the threshold for “very, very few” for KIA; on the one hand, it’s ~0.58% of the US population; on the other, it’s roughly equivalent to the population of many state capitals.

    2) Of course, they aren’t all “100% PV.” For instance, Amy Seidl, in her 2011 book “Finding Higher Ground,” describes her family’s set-up in Vermont: the mainstay is (or was, in 2011) solar P-V plus storage in the form of a lead-acid battery bank, plus a small wind turbine, plus a gasoline-fired generator, which runs a few days every year, pretty much invariably in the Vermont winter. Not quite emissions-free, but pretty darn good WRT the norm.

    As said above, it’s not about some arbitrary standard of purity.

    3) It’s interesting to note that that number came from 2006. I wonder what the estimate in 2019 would be, now that the price of US PV has declined by 50% or more?

    4) While this sort of thing is possible, it isn’t cheap or easy. (Though you can to some extent trade off “cheap” on the one hand against “easy” on the other. Cf., pretty much every article “Mother Earth News” ever ran.) Utility-scale PV is a lot cheaper than residential, and that’s true several times over for wind, especially if you include “easy” as well as “cheap” in the calculus. So, while the rugged individualism may appeal to KIA, individual households going off-grid are not a solution to cleaning up our energy emissions. We need not to limit the ‘greening’ of energy to those with the greatest resources of money, know-how or determination. It’s got to be for everybody, or by definition it isn’t getting the job done.

  29. 279
    zebra says:

    #252 David Benson,

    Here’s what you said previously:

    The point is that without adequate reserves the wholesale price of electricity can go to the allowed maximum. That is so high as to suggest there is something wrong. Furthermore, in the case of ERCOT, the excessive demand is met by natural gas burners, hardly low carbon.

    I’ve been asking you about the first part, and you keep avoiding the question.

    Why is there “something wrong”??

    The price would go up even if they were buying electricity from a wind or solar powered transmission line from a neighboring State, or some kind of storage, or whatever…so the generating modality is irrelevant.

    What you are saying is just physically and economically irrational. What do you suggest should be the policy/technology so that prices never go up when you use more of a commodity???

    Again, it sounds like some kind of Socialist arrangement. And again, if that’s what you are talking about, fine, we can discuss the merits, but you have to actually say so.

  30. 280

    #274, DBB–

    Yes, no-one doubts that isolated systems relying on solar charging batteries are, or at least tend to be, susceptible to unusually protracted cloudy spells.

    But note that:

    1) the whole point of the quoted story was how exceptional the problem was; and

    2) the problem arises not because it’s impossible to build a big enough battery, but because it’s not cost-effective to pay for it when consideration #1 applies. (And yes, I noted in the story that normally they use FF gennies for back-up, albeit infrequently enough that they don’t keep them on-site.)

    This is why a diversified power supply is desirable–e.g., why I and others argued WRT the wind-power lull the BPA system experienced that that is why you don’t build a system purely on wind. Everything I’ve read on the topic says that integrating variable resources into the grid is non-linear: it’s easy to add 5 or 10%, harder to add 35 or 50%, and quite hard to take it to 95%. It’s extremely, and perhaps infeasibly, hard to get to 100%.

    For instance:

    But I don’t see much point, honestly, in obsessing about 100% variable RE, as it is just not going to happen in, say, the next 2 decades. The world’s hydro and nuclear fleets are not going to be totally retired during that span. We’ll be lucky to retire the bulk of the FF fleet by then.

    Could you power everything with nukes, which are not variable? Well, of course you could. But it would be insanely expensive, slow, and politically and socially contentious. And pragmatically, even less likely/possible than the complete retirement of the nuclear fleet over the next 20 years.

  31. 281

    A new monthly record for the German grid:

    An alert Twitter user took a look at the data Fraunhofer provided recently for February and noticed something unusual. Germany derived 61% of its electrical energy from renewables last month — the highest ever for the country.

    No reliability issues… of course, it does beg the question, what is the recent monthly *minimum* percentage? I’ll try to take a look later, using that Frauenhofer site they link to.

  32. 282
    nigelj says:

    “U.S. senators unveil bill to support renewable and nuclear power, efficiency”

    (Something to make all the warring factions here a bit happier. Hopefully.)

  33. 283
    David B. Benson says:

    zebra @279 — There are two wrongs illustrated by ERCOT last summer. The result will be more of the first wrong, natural gas burners competing in the day-ahead market, to decrease the frequency of the second wrong, using reserves. Last summer avoided blackouts. ERCOT has had such twice this century. Do markets work? Maybe, but ERCOT burns ever more natural gas…

  34. 284
    David B. Benson says:

    Kevin McKinney @280 — Recall that France had moderate electricity rates with almost 80% of generation from nuclear. Now that wind power is being added rates are going up. Like Germany’s experience. Nonetheless, David Roberts of Vox has a point. California is aiming for something similar. See the last few posts in

  35. 285
    zebra says:

    #278 Kevin McKinney,

    “utility-scale PV is a lot cheaper than residential”

    Nonsensical statement. How do you distinguish between the two?

  36. 286
    David B. Benson says:

    So-called green hydrogen is produced by electrolysis using so-called clean power, often excess solar. It appears to be a drop in solution for transportation and space heating as well as long term storage to energize the electricity grid as required. Here is one link
    but the entire page contains much more about some of the activities.

  37. 287
    nigelj says:

    Killian @62 (on the UV thread) on simplification.

    “Please, for once in your silly-headed life stop lying. You have never believed climate could be rapidly effected by simplification and have always claimed simplification would take LONGER than tech responses… becuase you keep yourself intentinally ignorant on these issues.”

    You are wrong about it all. It’s obvious simplification ( rapidly shutting down most industry as you stated)) would rapidly reduce CO2 levels. I have never disputed that. Its self evident.

    I have stated instead that 1) Imho rapid simplification at scale would be problematic, so yes any deliberate simplification programme would also need to be implemented slowly. I will get to this below, and 2) It seems unlikely that many people would be prepared to adopt a demanding and rapid simplification plan so of course such a plan would be slow to develop.

    “It (simplification) will also cause massive supply shortages, and bring us to our knees. This is equally obvious”……….”No, child, it would not. Shed yourself of your self-inlficted, intentional ignorance of very simple knowledge and read something about controlled vs uncontrolled simplification. I know knowing before your run your mouth is antithetical to your existence, but one can hope.”

    Killian provides no internet reference on controlled versus uncontrolled simplification and a google search brings up nothing. I have no idea what he means.

    Simplification by Killians definition of shutting down most industrial production and within the next decade or two, (which he has repeated many times), would obviously cause supply shortages of almost all the technology we take for granted. Modern technology sadly isn’t built to last and needs replacing and spare parts. At best it would preserve a few basic essentials, however whether even these things could be produced in such a stripped back system is open to debate. It could be chaos.

    Rapid large scale simplification and adoption of a low tech culture would also lead to huge reliance on timber, potentially wiping out our forests. Permaculture could cause food shortages because of its low productivity, (or more correctly lack of any hard evidence that it has equal productivity to conventional industrial agriculture).

    Simplification at a slower pace and less ambitious scale starts to look more sensible and achievable. For example theres a case for some frugality in use of resources, recycling and wasting less both for environmental reasons and making sure resources are available for lower income people. And of course we have to be very careful to conserve forests, fisheries and soils etc, although that’s a separate thing to industrial production. But all deliberate simplification does is delay the point in time where humanity runs out of some minerals, and is possibly forced towards a more basic lifestyle, so its a rationing exercise, and its hard to see a case of why this generation of people should cripple ourselves technologically.

    “And do note, being brought to our knees is already happening in an uncontrolled unfolding global disaster. But you are right, a controlled response to wind down on our own terms, not a pandemics, would be worse.”


  38. 288
    nigelj says:

    Zebra @285

    “utility-scale PV is a lot cheaper than residential”….Nonsensical statement. How do you distinguish between the two?

    Lazard international energy analysis distinguishes between the two systems, as below. Presumably its all because because of the economies of scale of utility scale solar.

  39. 289
    nigelj says:

    David B. Benson @283, you appear to be basically saying the texas market is operating “in the red zone” like in a cars rev counter. If its happening repeatedly, I agree its a problem and I’m not sure why anyone wouldn’t get it. Its asking for trouble and an eventual overshoot and blackouts.

    Its best to avoid more gas fired plant. They could instead add more storage into the system, or over building wind power, sharing power with other states, or nuclear power, depending on what is most economical longer term, assuming realistic drops in storage costs. Maybe Im over simplifying but thats what it looks like to me.

  40. 290

    Al Bundy missed the point @244:

    Who cares? There isn’t a force field preventing electrons from the 32nd parallel from being transferred to the 48th parallel. Do you have a scientific point?

    What do those electrons come from?  (Almost none from 24/7 sources.)  So where do Oregon and Washington (and Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, BC and Alberta) get their winter heat from, if it all has to be “renewable”?

    This problem goes away if your energy comes from fission.

    He further bloviates @245:

    That depends on where one buys the natural gas. It is a trivial exercise to produce zero carbon natural gas.

    You mean “biogas”, and it is far from trivial to produce it in remotely equal quantities to what we use today.  I’d ask you to show just how difficult that is, but you show no sign of being able to do math.

  41. 291

    Al Bundy misses the point AGAIN @254:

    The USA and its Mideast co-conspirators spew way way way more CO2 per capita than the third world.

    And those capitas are a small fraction of the world’s.  Further, the capitas of the USA have been swelled by the inrush of those same “third” (turd) worlders seeking to enjoy the benefits of CO2 emissions rather than trying to ameliorate them.

    Had the predecessors of the “Greens” not shut down the expansion of nuclear energy in the USA from 1968-1980’s, the USA’s per-capita contributions to net atmospheric CO2 would be vastly smaller.  The political left in the USA is guilty of massive crimes against humanity and the planet as a whole.  They must be held responsible and punished.  That includes you.

  42. 292
    nigelj says:

    Killian @62 (on UV thread) addendum to previous response. In hindight I did suggest permaculture farming would take longer to draw down CO2 than you hope for, (and supplied a link to research paper), but that is a somewhat different issue to your observation @62 about stopping most industrial production would quickly reduce CO2 levels. I was responding just to the industry issue.

  43. 293
    Al Bundy says:

    Zebra: What do you suggest should be the policy/technology so that prices never go up when you use more of a commodity???

    AB: There isn’t any net utility in subjecting commodities to supply/demand pricing where profit is included as a primary goal. Oil is easily fixed: use the strategic oil reserve as a blunt instrument so consumers and suppliers can rely on stability.

    Commodities are like utilities. The reason your phone bill is so high is because of all the churn and advertising that The Magical Market adds to what otherwise is an incredibly cheap service. So you get to waste time enduring marketing while paying more. And, of course, workers make less since they’re costs instead of collaborators.

    Those electric price spikes are “wrong” and a system that results in said spikes is poorly designed. Heck, when demand increases, prices should drop because the cost of supplying the commodity drops per unit (this is disjoint from the type-of-generator issue, which is currently handled insanely through bidding; lowest cost in carbon and cash is best determined with total knowledge and control by a non-profit). That’s two seriously large Truths to ignore. Perhaps this Truth’s effects underly much of that “inevitable” business cycle. Perhaps the solution is a governmental virtual “wedge” that increases production taxes as production rises. This handles Keynesian issues and touches on the solution to Jevon’s parodox: as efficiency increases tax must increase to ensure the total price doesn’t drop.

    Commodities should be stablizers, not debalancing gambling games.

  44. 294
    nigelj says:

    “The potential climate consequences of China’s Belt and Roads InitiativeThe enormous infrastructure development effort could lock in heat-trapping greenhouse emissions for decades.” (seem like valid concerns, but possibly also an element of American criticism of an economic rival?)

  45. 295
    nigelj says:

    Devils advocate comment. Renewables plus storage plus smart grids etc works, and the cost of storage will fall, but everything I’ve seen suggests such a system is quite complex and is very unlikely to ever provide LOWER COST power than stand alone nuclear power. Doesn’t this suggest nuclear power is still a serious option?

  46. 296
    nigelj says:

    I said @287 “It’s obvious simplification ( rapidly shutting down most industry as you stated)) would rapidly reduce CO2 levels. ” Strictly speaking it would rapidly reduce the level of CO2 emissions, and the rate of atmospheric increase in CO2.

  47. 297

    #285, zebra–

    KDM: “utility-scale PV is a lot cheaper than residential”

    zebra: Nonsensical statement. How do you distinguish between the two?

    Uh, in general “residential PV” is found on, you know, residences. Utility-scale, in large solar farms. Not really all that difficult to figure out!

    They are completely different markets, with distinct economics at play. Analysts generally consider them separately for this reason, and sometimes add a third category, “commercial”, for companies which do their own developments–Apple, for one notable example.

  48. 298

    Renewables plus storage plus smart grids etc works, and the cost of storage will fall, but everything I’ve seen suggests such a system is quite complex and is very unlikely to ever provide LOWER COST power than stand alone nuclear power. Doesn’t this suggest nuclear power is still a serious option?

    Option for what? The purpose for which nuclear power would be intended makes a big difference, IMO. I think that we should support existing nuclear power and continue nuclear research and development. The purposes served thereby would be 1) not making decarbonization more difficult; 2) keeping a firm, dispatchable component in the power mix which would greatly ease the integration of variable power source; and 3) hedging future needs (‘unknown unknowns’) and allowing for future opportunities.

    However, I don’t see any possibility whatever that nuclear power can scale anything like fast enough to address the crisis we are in now. Nuclear power is very tough to finance in most of the developed world right now, and that seems likely to change only slowly. (E.g., the collapse of the Summer expansion, with its $9 billion wasted dollars.) And I’ve not found hard data on this–I’ve looked–but I seriously doubt we have the workforce in place to do the kind of scaling up we’d need to do in order to reach our climate goals. We’d have to train a whole bunch of skilled trades, really fast.

    Finally, I question the bit about “unlikely ever to provide lower cost” than nuclear. First, the costs of nuclear seem not to be very well constrained. And second, the RE plus storage plus smart grid scenario involves tech that is modular and mass-producible, which means that costs will continue to fall as deployment continues to increase–and that’s without reckoning the technical and technological improvements that will likely also take place. Remember, very few foresaw the drastic cost improvements that we’ve seen in the renewable space even 10 years ago. That history is of course not a guarantee of future performance–but nevertheless, it is true that past pundits who bet against RE on cost grounds turned out to be quite wrong.

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    David B. Benson says:

    nigelj @289 — In Texas natural gas is embarrassingly plentiful. A major problem is getting rid of it.

  50. 300
    David B. Benson says:

    Al Bundy @293 — You seriously need to study some basic macroeconomics. I started with Samuelson’s textbook, 59 years ago.