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Forced Responses: Jan 2021

Filed under: — group @ 1 January 2021

A new open thread for climate solutions in the new year (and the soon-to-be new US administration actions). As for the climate science open threads, please try to renew your commitment to constructive dialog that prioritises light over heat (like LED bulbs for instance!). Thanks!

632 Responses to “Forced Responses: Jan 2021”

  1. 601
    Piotr says:

    Nigelj(592): https://yaleclimateconnections.org/2021/02/the-climate-lesson-from-texas-frozen-power-outages/

    – 45 GW – total power offline
    – at most 4-5 GW – of that due to wind turbines
    – 128 – the number of times the Fox News and Fox Business networks blamed the blackout on the renewables.

    KIA: “Oh my goodness. Unprecedented winter storm kills at least 4 in Texas. Temperatures AND ENTROPY reach absolute zero [eh, that KIA’s iron grip on the fundamentals of physics] and 43 million without power. Al Gore, where are you?

    David B. Benson: “ About half of the Texas wind turbines are frozen, so off”.
    ” What can you rely on?

    Unfortunately, he left us hanging, since the Reuters link next to it didn’t say what can we rely on. So we have to guess from the context:

    – “not wind”? – since this was the ONLY energy DBB singled out as being “off” ?
    – “nuclear”? – since this has been the ONLY energy DBB promoting for months? years?

    AND apparently he hasn’t heard yet that his nuclear wasn’t as reliable in Texas as he thought:

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-02-16/frozen-wind-farms-were-just-a-small-piece-of-texas-s-power-woes

    Dan Woodfin “a senior director for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the state’s power grid”: “While ice has forced some turbines to shut down just as a brutal cold wave drives record electricity demand, that’s been the least significant factor in the blackouts. The main factors: Frozen instruments at natural gas, coal and even nuclear facilities, as well as limited supplies of natural gas”.

    But who cares about “senior director for the ERCOT, which operates the state’s power grid”, when we have Nuclear Poet:

    Nuclear Poet (540):” Greg Barton over on r/nuclear says there are no nuclear outages in Texas.

    All hail Greg Burton Over On r/nuclear!

  2. 602
    Richard Caldwell says:

    Hi guys. Hope you’re having fun. Not reading or responding. Just a drive by remark:

    Tezas’ Z-Grid experiment didn’t turn out terribly well, eh?

  3. 603
    David B. Benson says:

    Ghastly Future:
    https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fcosc.2020.615419/full
    Definitely to be read. Can you act on this?

  4. 604
    sidd says:

    Re: ” Getting the shovel out and seeing the earthworms thrive in my living fields has reawakened a sense of not just how but why we farm. It’s something my father knew, but one that my generation of farmers has been disconnected from in our modern, fully-mechanized farming environment.”

    That is so sad. The guy has been farming for awhile, runs 10K acres in maryland, and has _never before_ taken a shovel out to look at the life in the land. Just use the damn backhoe on the tractor if you dont wanna get sweaty.

    His dad shoulda made him dig a trench by hand now and then. Just dig 3 foot deep and _look_ .

    Of course, under monocrop corporate ag, the soil is just a medium for your fertilizer, pesticide and such. And that is how you kill the land. He is still doin a corn soy rotation which to me is another terrible thing, whether ameliorated with notill and cover crops or not.

    The other thing that seems to be missed is that a healthy farm requires free range livestock and pasture and fallowing fields forawhile, all verboten in corp ag. But these are topics best discussed elsewhere.

    sidd

  5. 605
    prl says:

    Mike @45 In New Zealand debt got to a point where 25% of our tax take was used to fund interest payments on governmnet debt from what I’ve read.

    Where did you read that, Nigel?

    A month or so ago nigelj posted the same thing, and it seemed excessively high to me. But I dug around a bit and though I couldn’t find decent tables that went back to that time, I was able to get an estimate of NZ’s peak debt servicing to GDP ratio from graphs of its debt servicing cost and GDP, and IIRC, it wasn’t far off 25%, and 25% was probably within the range of the error of my estimate.

    I’d link to the post, but my Google-fu is not up to locating it.

  6. 606
    Killian says:

    Re: 600:

    A good, if rhetorical, question. But just maybe Trey Hill really means it when he writes:

    I’m sure he does. Note I said nothing about regenerative ag. What is stupid is the way they are doing the program. You test in the beginning, you test every year, you pay for what *actually* gets sequestered.

    I’ll put up 10k. Anyone else want to become a carbon farmer?

  7. 607
    nigelj says:

    Killian @594, thanks for the video link on MMT. I will watch it when I have a spare moment because its quite long. I suggest you read up on some of the counter arguments to Stephanie Kelton’s views and book as below, from her wikipedia page:

    “This is The Deficit Myth[19] appeared on The New York Times bestseller list for nonfiction in June 2020.[20] In an article published in the Wall Street Journal, Stanford economist John H. Cochrane gave the book a negative review,[21] saying that her “implications don’t lead to her desired conclusions […] her logic, facts and language turn into pretzels”. Cochrane asserted that Kelton’s historical analysis of inflation was biased,[21] and that the book cited “no articles in major peer-reviewed journals, monographs with explicit models and evidence, or any of the other trappings of economic discourse”.[21] New York University economist Alberto Bisin gave the book a negative review, saying “it’s not that the public-spending agenda proposed in the book wouldn’t be worthwhile, or that monetization is never a useful tool of monetary policy… These are all issues currently studied and debated in (mainstream) academic and policy circles. But MMT, as exposed in the book, appears to be a very poor attempt at supporting this political agenda, with no coherent theoretical support.”[22]Former ECB Chief Economist Otmar Issing gave the book a negative review in an article criticizing MMT.[23] Marxian economist Hans G. Despain[24] gave the book a positive review.[25]”

    ——————–

  8. 608
    David B. Benson says:

    Piotr certainly spoils for a fight by continually misinterpreting what I actually wrote.

    To set the ERCOT debacle straight, only about 40% of generators were capable of operating in the unprecedented weather. But 75% of the nuclear power plants generated full bore.

  9. 609
    James Charles says:

    ‘Clean energy and rare earths: Why not to worry
    “Around 2010, some articles and commentators warned that shortages of rare earths, or China’s near-monopoly on them, could choke off the West’s shift to renewable energy and other clean technologies. This was never true—but the myth persists.” ‘
    https://thebulletin.org/2017/05/clean-energy-and-rare-earths-why-not-to-worry/?fbclid=IwAR3Crfy8e75hSxptTRDk8rHMr8teAiEnA6vQf-YpgpWaz0XV4V9bT52zT1Q

  10. 610
    James Charles says:

    “In this sense, both the political left and right are partially correct in their view of what went wrong. In the UK a lightning strike on a large North Sea wind farm tripped an automatic safety shutdown which should have resulted in a back-up gas generator powering up. But problems with the gas generator resulted in a dangerous drop in power; triggering automated systems which began disconnecting users across the eastern half of the UK. In similar fashion, as snow, ice and freezing temperatures caused wind generation to fall; automated systems in Texas should have fired up the gas back-up plants… the ones whose water intake pipes had frozen. Faced with a dangerous loss of power, the Texas system did the same thing the UK system had done – only on a much wider scale and in weather which proved far more deadly.

    It is precisely for this reason that I have spent several years pointing to the folly of adding even more NRREHTs capacity to the system before appropriate storage, back-up and management systems have been put into place. It is also why the economics of electricity generation needs an urgent rethink while there is still time.”
    https://consciousnessofsheep.co.uk/2021/02/19/texas-trip/?fbclid=IwAR2vXA2iele-tPwo18S6JhxHfkXNVNf4VSW40yq9X7dAN52tGLnFxyNgGVE

  11. 611
    nigelj says:

    Battery solution for mass storage for wind farms etc, etc, using relatively abundant materials:

    https://www.altenergymag.com/article/2018/09/are-sulfur-flow-batteries-the-answer/29441#:~:text=The%20battery%20employs%20a%20sulfur,both%20inexpensive%20and%20widely%20obtainable.

    “The battery employs a sulfur anode dissolved in water, and an aerated liquid salt solution in the cathode. Oxygen flowing in and out of the cathode causes the battery to discharge and charge. The researchers work with sulfur, as it is an energy dense material, which is both inexpensive and widely obtainable.”

  12. 612
    zebra says:

    Richard Caldwell #602,

    If you are referring to “zebra’s z-grid”, I pointed out in an earlier comment that it would have been able to deal much better with this situation.

    The more granular the control, which is what my virtual grid suggestion provides, the better able the system would have been to distribute whatever energy was still available. You would not have some people freezing to death while others paid exorbitant prices for non-critical consumption.

    What Texas has is the same old clunky hardware as ever, and the ‘market’ is a day-trading casino for businesses that exploit the end-user; it is nothing like a real z-grid.

  13. 613
    Piotr says:

    Discussions with Killian, in a nutshell:

    Piotr(589), summarizing Killian (574) on the cause of megafauna extinctions: “The argument “ it’s not us“, it’s the climate change ….”

    Killian (598)” Is a lie. Nobody said it on these boards.

    Hmm:
    Killian (574) “Megafauna: It wasn’t us. The “hunted to extinction” model never made sense. […] The timing [of extinctions] matches the rapid [climate changes]

    … Odysseus ????

    P.S. Note to myself: careful with those skins of wine Killian has sent. ;-)

  14. 614
    Piotr says:

    David B. Benson: (608) “Piotr certainly spoils for a fight by continually misinterpreting what I actually wrote.

    I call it keeping you, KIA and Poet honest, you call it … “misinterpretation” and … keep being unable to prove it. This time – no different:

    DBB(608): “ only about 40% of generators were capable of operating in the unprecedented weather. But 75% of the nuclear power plants generated full bore.

    which does NOTHING to prove your accusations of my “misinterpreting” your EARLIER posts. Here are the words in question:
    ===
    Piotr (601):
    David B. Benson: “ About half of the Texas wind turbines are frozen, so off”.
    ” What can you rely on?”
    Unfortunately, he left us hanging, since the Reuters link next to it didn’t say what can we rely on. So we have to guess from the context:
    – “not wind”? – since this was the ONLY energy DBB singled out as being “off” ?
    – “nuclear”? – since this has been the ONLY energy DBB promoting for months? years?
    ==== end of quote =====

    Your nukes going “75% full bore” – do not your accusations toward me. And to make it better, you unwittingly shot your Nuclear Poet in the back, since your “ 75% of the nuclear power plants generated full bore ” means that 25% DIDN’T.
    Ergo you put an additional nail into the coffin …of Poet’s and “Greg Barton over on r/nuclear” confident claims:

    Nuclear Poet (540):” Greg Barton over on r/nuclear says there are no nuclear outages in Texas.

    Thank you for your unrelenting support, DBB … ;-)

  15. 615
    Killian says:

    612 zebra says:
    25 Feb 2021 at 6:11 AM

    Richard Caldwell #602,

    If you are referring to “zebra’s z-grid”, I pointed out in an earlier comment that it would have been able to deal much better with this situation.

    The more granular the control, which is what my virtual grid suggestion provides, the better able the system would have been to distribute whatever energy was still available. You would not have some people freezing to death while others paid exorbitant prices for non-critical consumption.

    What Texas has is the same old clunky hardware as ever, and the ‘market’ is a day-trading casino for businesses that exploit the end-user; it is nothing like a real z-grid.

    Or, you could actually solve the problem with localized micro-grids and retrofits of buildings as I suggested in 2008. The first step should always be to not need the energy. The second should always to be to make it local and resilient. We produce much more energy than we need if those first two conditions are met. You can then have a much smaller backbone for emergencies/failures.

    http://aperfectstormcometh.blogspot.com/2008/03/build-out-grid-vs-household-towards.html

  16. 616
    Killian says:

    607 nigelj says:
    25 Feb 2021 at 2:04 AM

    Killian @594, thanks for the video link on MMT. I will watch it when I have a spare moment because its quite long. I suggest you read up on some of the counter arguments to Stephanie Kelton’s views and book as below, from her wikipedia page:

    Why would I need to do that? How would anyone with the slightest interest in economics not already know the norms of the past 100+ years? When new papers come out on climate do I need to review everything ever published on the issue? Nope. Also, watch the video because when presenting a new view of an old thing it is pretty much necessary to discuss what aready is. That is, she covers the counter-arguments just fine. But mostly my first point.

  17. 617
    Killian says:

    nigel, re MMT: This will address all your questions. It’s quite comprehensive. (Don’t bother with the previous video linked.) IMO, if you still doubt after this, it’s because you want to, not because there are legitimate reasons to do so.

    OECD NAEC debate on #MMT​ with Stephanie Kelton, author of The Deficit Myth
    https://youtu.be/4yk51HOjq4g

    Includes Steve Keen and others. Keen’s details put real meat on the bones of Kelton’s assertions.

  18. 618
    zebra says:

    James Charles #610,

    Ah yes, another person with no clue parroting false fossil fuel talking points.

    It’s one thing to not be familiar with the technical details, but the author is supposedly capable of simple reasoning, having a background in social/economic policy.

    Ugh.

  19. 619

    BPL @566:

    I’ll see all wind subsidies taken away if you agree to repeal of the Price-Anderson Act.

    You’re on!

    For those of you who don’t know what Price-Anderson does, it forces ALL nuclear plants to carry a set amount of insurance which becomes RE-insurance if an accident at some OTHER plant causes damages beyond the insured amount.  In other words, an accident at one plant has the potential to become an accident at ALL plants.  Only when the sum total of insurance is exhausted does the government get involved.

    This re-insurance has never been used.  Obviously, the taxpayer has never had to cough up a cent.

    I’d be more than happy to eliminate Price-Anderson and treat nuclear plants like any other industrial installation.  Nukes would just be spun off as individual limited liability corporations.  If one had a serious accident, the value of the plant would likely be zero (like TMI unit 2).  Bankrupt the corporation, walk away from it.  That’s what everyone else is allowed to do, after all.

    So tell me, BPL:  how much insurance are the gas-fired backup plants for “renewables” required to carry against damages from climate change?

  20. 620

    Troll @575:

    And hot temps not only cause the problem with getting rid of the waste heat,
    but it actually cuts to their THERMODYNAMIC effectiveness: the colder the coolant – the more electricity you can generate per reactor or per ton of coal or gas.

    Gas turbines lose output both ABOVE and BELOW their optimal inlet temperature.  (Why someone hasn’t designed an exhaust gas recirculation system to keep the inlet air temp at optimum as the mercury falls, I don’t know.)

    Unfortunately the people actually _doing_ nuclear are not so optimistic than the nuclear-theorist: world-nuclear.org: “Hardly any US generating capacity uses dry cooling, and in the UK it has been ruled out as impractical and unreliable (in hot weather) for new nuclear plants.”. Plus it consumes energy for running the fans.

    Palo Verde uses closed-circuit wet cooling with powered cooling towers (not natural draft).  Vermont Yankee used auxiliary wet cooling towers to keep outflow water temps in spec.  This reduces net output a lot less than having to reduce thermal output.

    Overbuilding is really not a problem.  There are enough uses for additional electric power that we should be using them as dump loads.  For instance, plasma gasification of solid waste would be a great way of turning a burden into fuel gas and clean fill.  Garbage beyond that which can be gasified e.g. overnight can be frozen to minimize odor issues and held for periods of electric surplus.  I understand that plasma gasification generates a tar-free syngas, suitable for Fischer-Tropsch synthesis or conversion to methanol or hydrogen.  This is just what we need to make fuel reserves for backup generation and power the transport which can’t be easily electrified.

    4. Now, if we only had an energy source that would match the demand – be MOST effective when the demand is the highest … Did somebody say: solar and wind?

    Are you insane?  Wind and solar BOTH go to zero during passage of winter high-pressure systems at night.

    Oh, right.  You’re a troll.  BS is just what you do.

  21. 621

    Troll @593:

    And I said that “_If_” this were your reason for posting it – you DIDN’T NEED it,
    since the urgency of mitigation is true REGARDELSS whether “it was us” or “it wasn’t us” who killed the Pleistocene megafauna.

    Ho Lee Fuq, I agree with something the troll wrote.

    Just sayin’.

    I judge comments on what I see.  I don’t always read in full, but my replies are based on details.

  22. 622

    Troll @614:

    Your nukes going “75% full bore” – do not your accusations toward me. And to make it better, you unwittingly shot your Nuclear Poet in the back, since your “ 75% of the nuclear power plants generated full bore ” means that 25% DIDN’T.

    Only for about 2 days, after which it was back up to 100%.  That’s far better than the gas plants, and far FAR better than the “renewables”.

    This cold snap shows that the “renewables” and their gas-fired backup have a common-mode failure:  cold, calm and dark conditions take away all three energy sources at the same time.  It’s long past time to acknowledge this and design around it.

  23. 623
    Piotr says:

    Nuclear-Poet (621) ” Re: Troll @593 – Ho Lee Fuq, I agree with something the troll wrote”. Just sayin’. I judge comments on what I see.

    Yeah, how … big of you to agree with one of your opponents (“Troll”) arguing against your … another opponent (Killian). Particularly, so soon after you equally bombastically agreed with the … latter’s attack on the former:

    Nuclear Poet: “And in a momentous event which no doubt presages the end of the world, I am now forced to agree with Killian’s attack on [“Troll”]“.

    Agreeing with your enemy attacking your enemy – that’s … hard. Takes guts and open-mindedness…

    Not like trolls opportunistically taking side of their enemy against their friend:
    “Troll”: “Barton, with a heavy heart (;-)) I have to agree with our E-Poet on this one …”

  24. 624
    Piotr says:

    Nuclear Poet (622) “ Troll @614 [to DBB} Your nukes going “75% full bore” – do not prove your accusations toward me. And to make it better, you unwittingly shot your Nuclear Poet in the back, since your “ 75% of the nuclear power plants generated full bore ” means that 25% DIDN’T.”

    Nuclear Poet (622) Only for about 2 days, after which it was back up to 100%

    These “ONLY 2 days” weren’t by any chance around the same time when “ Texas’ power grid was 4 minutes and 37 seconds away from suffering a total collapse and a near statewide blackout for weeks or more during last week’s deadly winter storm“?
    https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/texas-power-grid-total-collapse_n_6037a52cc5b69ac3d35cc68b?ri18n=true
    Let’s check – the near-collapse of Texas grid was on Feb. 15, and the nuclear problem report is for Feb.15-16:
    https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/event-status/event/2021/20210216en.html
    Nothing to write home about, as they say in Texas, eh?

    Anyway, the MAIN point does not even need this – since the discussion was whether there were ANY nuclear outages or not, I quote:

    – Kevin (437): “ problems were widespread across generating sources, including coal, natural gas, and even nuclear plants

    – Nuclear Poet (540):”Greg Barton over on r/nuclear says there are no nuclear outages in Texas.

    – BPL (563): “ Gee, I wonder why everybody is reporting that there ARE? Must be the liberal media lying again

    – “Troll”(601): “All Hail Greg Barton over on r/nuclear!”

    And THAT’S why your friend DBB, by bragging that 75% of nuclear generation in Texas didn’t suffer outages – inadvertently has drawn the attention to the 25% that DID, and through this – shot the credibility of the oh so confident claims by Nuclear Poet and his muse “Greg Barton over on r/nuclear” – in the back:
    Greg Barton over on r/nuclear says there are no nuclear outages in Texas.” Nuclear Poet (540).

  25. 625
    Piotr says:

    Engineer-Poet (620): “ Troll @575: “Now, if we only had an energy source that would match the demand – be MOST effective when the demand is the highest … Did somebody say: solar and wind?”
    Are you insane? Wind and solar BOTH go to zero during passage of winter high-pressure systems at night.

    “Troll”: You like to increase the credibility of your claims on RC by hinting at your engineering diploma and writing about the standards needed to get it. They didn’t required the ability to understand a simple figure and a few words?

    The simple figure in this case was: “https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=42915″ – and you STILL have no clue that this figure shows that the seasonal demand for electricity in the US is the highest in SUMMER, _not_ in WINTER:

    Piotr(300): “Damn, if we only had some power source, which produced more energy during day and was especially effective in summer … ;-)”

    Engineer Poet (310):”Damn, if we only had some power source which produced energy 24/7 and was especially effective when it’s cold out.”

    To which I referred you again to the graph and pointed that the line for summer was 20-25% higher than the line for in winter. To no avail:

    Engineer-Poet: Are you insane? Wind and solar BOTH go to zero during passage of winter high-pressure systems at night.

    as if in the _preceding_ paragraph I haven’t explained to him that I quite: “we are talking: SEASONS”. Even capitalization didn’t help:

    my pointing that wind and solar are most effective at the very SEASON when US needs electricity the most (summer), was met with … derision about my bullshit because of the … unreliability of wind and solar to provide what NOBODY CLAIMED THEY WERE GOOD AT, i.e. at providing baseload in winter, when the seasonally lower demand should be easily met with the nuclear which in winter is supposed to be the most effective:

    Engineer Poet (620) “ Are you insane? Wind and solar BOTH go to zero during passage of winter high-pressure systems at night. Oh, right. You’re a troll. BS is just what you do.

    Sure, Mr. Engineer, BS is what _I_ do. See above.

  26. 626

    E-P 620: Wind and solar BOTH go to zero during passage of winter high-pressure systems at night.

    BPL: Don’t just make stuff up, E-P. It’s too easy for people to check.

  27. 627
  28. 628

    Troll @625:

    The simple figure in this case was: “https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=42915″ – and you STILL have no clue that this figure shows that the seasonal demand for electricity in the US is the highest in SUMMER, _not_ in WINTER

    And what YOU don’t get is that the demand for the FUEL OF CHOICE FOR “RENEWABLE” BACKUP is highest in JANUARY.  THAT is the limiting factor, not the peak electrical demand.  It was the excess demand for NG for heating, plus the iced-up wells and other things, which brought the system to the brink of collapse.

    Nuclear district heating systems can eliminate the fuel delivery issue altogether, as well as displacing large amounts of natural gas demand.  They address the problem directly, from two different directions.

  29. 629
    nigelj says:

    Engineer Poet @628

    “It was the excess demand for NG for heating, plus the iced-up wells and other things, which brought the system to the brink of collapse. ”

    Yes these were factors in the Texas electricity shortages, but it should be said that they were not caused by inherent unsolvable problems with gas. They were avoidable problems, and other States have taken precautions like insulating gas pipes etc,etc. Texas didnt do this because of underspending on the system, despite decades of the same issues.

    There were other factors as well. the ERCOT grid is mostly independent from the rest of America, so they cant import power in crisis situations, which looks politically motivated to me and a way of avoiding regulatory costs. Wind turbine blades iced up but there are de-icing systems available but again Texas didnt want to spend any money.

    Refer:

    https://yaleclimateconnections.org/2021/02/the-climate-lesson-from-texas-frozen-power-outages/

  30. 630
    mike says:

    The latest round of national climate pledges falls “far short of what is required” to achieve the targets set out in the Paris Agreement, according to new UN analysis.

    “Furthermore, with these targets in place their combined emissions would be just 0.5% lower in 2030 than in 2010 and 2.1% lower than in 2017– far off the 45% reduction in total CO2 emissions from 2010 scientists have said is required to keep warming below 1.5C.”

    https://www.carbonbrief.org/un-new-national-climate-pledges-will-only-cut-emissions-by-2-over-next-decade?utm_campaign=Feed%3A%20carbonbrief%20%28The%20Carbon%20Brief%29&utm_content=20210301&utm_medium=feed&utm_source=feedburner

    Mike says: We have occasional disagreements about whether the Paris Agreement is sufficient to prevent a climate catastrophe. Some folks here think it is, some of us think it is not. But, it is likely we will never know for certain if the Paris Agreement is sufficient because as this new UN report makes it clear that we are nowhere near meeting the reductions of the Paris Agreement.

    This report is not good news. I think it essentially nullifies the “but the Paris Agreement” argument about whether we are on track to avoid a climate catastrophe. The meaningful measure and immediate milepost on our trajectory is the 45% reduction by 2030. The pledges are on track to produce less than a 1% cut. This report is a stark notice that we are not getting the job done.

    The next El Nino is going to produce a lot of climate disaster headlines and will give us a preview of the global climate we are producing with our emissions.

    Cheers

    Mike

  31. 631

    E-P 628: Nuclear district heating systems can eliminate the fuel delivery issue altogether

    BPL: So can electrification.

  32. 632

    I’ve been kvetching about the tedium of repetitively having to note that JDS lied again about something or other. But I’ve got to say, the nukes vs. RE debate is pretty tedious, too. (And yes, I’m another guilty party in this instance as well.)

    But on one hand, we’re just not going to have 100% RE any time soon, if ever. I think it could be done, but the best indications are that the last few percent could be very, very difficult to achieve. Which makes extensive attempts to debate 100% RE somewhat moot.

    Conversely, we are not going to have a nuclear growth explosion–yeah, I’m teasing a bit with that terminology–anytime soon, either. The state of the art is too expensive and too slow to build out, plus the political support isn’t there and won’t be any time soon. The nuclear brand is toxic to too many people–‘rightly’ or ‘wrongly’ doesn’t really matter from this perspective; the fact is that you’d have to change a *lot* of very firmly made up minds to start mounting the kind of buildout effort that would be necessary to meet today’s climate exigencies. No sign of that that I can see.

    So, what should we be doing? IMO:

    1) Building out RE as fast as we can, and taking every effort (carbon tax, I’m looking at you!) to make sure that FF capacity correspondingly comes off the grid as fast as possible.

    2) Preserving existing nuclear capability wherever possible, and continuing nuclear power R & D. For instance, I think it’s worth seeing if the SMRs under development by Nuscale (and others) pan out in practice. It’s possible that the inherent complexity and consequent resistance to standardization of gigawatt-scale reactors can be mitigated by a modular approach, making nuclear generation affordable in practice.

    3) Building out energy storage capability as quickly and as rationally as possible. This includes not only technical challenges, but also financial ones; for example, Li battery storage has capabilities that exceed those of gas peakers in significant ways, and ways to capture that value are needed. Perhaps analogous measures will be needed with regard to longer-term storage modalities, too; as discussed more than once here, flow batteries have promise for this, as does pumped hydro. But I’m not sure the needs and the financial incentives are aligned here at present.

    4) Increasing interconnections. While folks have spent a lot of time pointing fingers at components of the Texas grid and the ‘predatory capitalist’ business model underlying it, it’s pretty clear that the most fundamental problem they had in the Great Energy Fiasco of 2021 was that they have been trying to essentially go it alone on energy. It worked for decades because during the fossil fuel era Texas was supply-rich, of course. But had ERCOT been able to import power in quantity from either of the two major interconnects, things would presumably have been a lot different last month. And as for RE, well, we know that interconnection is our friend; the wind is always blowing somewhere.

    5) Which brings us to climate adaptation: Texas clearly under-engineered for resiliency–despite warnings. Actually, the Texas failure is probably well beyond failing to plan for climate change; it’s failing to prepare for weather conditions within the range of normal variability. (The February 2021 conditions may have exceeded norms, but 2011 and 2014, not so much.) The failure is a pervasive political failure, IMO. But regardless, adaptation planning is clearly critical. We’ve got to think (inter alia) about potential changes in weather variability, hydrological intensity, and of course straight-up warming including implicit changes in extreme event frequencies. It’s good that the Biden administration is reversing the Trump-era prohibition on even thinking about adaptation, but relevant planning goes on at many jurisdictional levels and my perception at least is that there’s a very long way to go to get close to rationality WRT climate planning in the US.

    6) Last but definitely not least, we need to be working to change from the paradigm of disposability to a paradigm of sustainability. The convenience of thoughtlessness embodied by the former is seductive, but hardly outweighs the inconveniences entailed when one nurtures an existential threat. (E.g., Texas 2021 once again.) I don’t see a silver bullet in this paradigm change, either, although it’s the most radical measure in my list and so perhaps the most necessary of all. We currently incentivize the maximized throughput of material and energy–clearly not what serves our collective interest best in the present context. We need to consider need–as Killian reminds us frequently–starting with what it actually means. And we need to consider equity, because otherwise we are building in conflict that will not serve us or our decarbonization aspirations well. But this is not a short-term project. Even more so than the previous items, it will involve evolution as well as design. (Though designed visions are part of the evolutionary process.)